Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Local Hostess to the Nth Degree

There's a really super bakery in Los Angeles that produces fantastic and innovative pastries and gets them to people in a unique way. Cake Monkey Bakery does not yet have a retail storefront, so they distribute a few of their most popular single-serve cakes to specific retail partners. Finding one at a store is sort of like a bakery treasure hunt. "There's the Cake Monkey foil-wrapped cakes! Do they have the kind I want??"

Some may find this a sort of pleasure-hunt game, others may find it annoying. I say let's be grateful for the opportunity to even have cakes like this, meaning their rules are okay by me. Cake Monkey treats are baked in Burbank, and to get some you have to find a retail store that sells them. Too frustrating? Then place an order directly, like the time I picked up a special order of limited-edition passion fruit brown butter bars (and did not regret it!). The benefit of ordering ahead is you get much more choice, since only four of their cakes are sold at retail partners and there are so many more choices online (like these Inside Out 'Smores).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tales from the Customer Service Crypt

Starbucks' Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
Foodies love to think about what they're going to eat and drink way before the actual moment of ingestion. Could be because they love to think about their favorite hobby, and if you only think about what you're eating and drinking while eating and drinking it, the whole pleasurable event is over way too soon. In my opinion, that's why all roads leading to the tasting moment also contribute to a foodie's bliss.

In an episode of “Top Chef” this year, host/producer Tom Colicchio said, "People come to a restaurant for food, but they come back for service." How true! Customer service is a huge and often taken for granted part of any buying experience, whether the buyer is a foodie or not. When there are bumps in the road to acquiring what a person can't wait to taste, that leaves a lingering malaise and can result in a customer lost.

It's only a few days until Halloween. What better time, then, to share a few scary tales from the customer service crypt. The scary-meter below refers to when I, as customer, realized a particular business was scaring me with its cluelessness and/or lack of sanity with regard to basic customer service.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Calamari Please Hold the Ketchup

In the last few weeks I’ve been hit with an overwhelming craving to eat calamari, aka “fried calamari in the typical fashion." To me that translates to breaded rings and tiny tentacles of squid that are deep-fried and served hot and crispy. When I refer to calamari I am never referring to grilled calamari on top of greens or that newish fad of calamari sticks—a stack of breaded calamari planks that when picked up flounce up and down like a rubber pencil. Nope, those latter types of calamari are just not for me.

Calamari is one of those proteins in which I suspend my disbelief about 80% regarding what I’m actually eating. What can I say, I could barely look into the famous and breathtakingly gorgeous jellyfish tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and while I know that jellyfish are not quite the same as squid, still, this type of creature is not what I like to imagine ingesting with full cognitive awareness. Calamari is squid after all, and personally I do not find squid attractive to look at or think about chewing. That said, the tiny tentacles pieces on a typical fried calamari plate is pretty much the squid sticking its tongue out at me proclaiming, "See, how could you NOT know you're eating me, the squid." Alas, how true, and that is likely why 20% of my brain always gets that eating delicious fried calamari equals eating pieces of a once squiggly, icky squid.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Salty & Sweet

Food and Wine's milk chocolate tart with pretzel crust a la Marly

Now that this blog's grad school hiatus is officially over, I can tell you about one of my all-time favorite pleasures. It is the taste of salty and sweet on the palate, and here are just a few of the ways to enjoy this:
  • the Canadian tradition of dipping bacon into maple syrup
  • a cheese plate with wine and some salty & sweet accoutrements  
  • adding plain M&Ms to movie theater popcorn (some prefer M&M peanut)
  • the trend of adding salt to caramel and other desserts: 1) here is a recipe for a caramel sea salt tart from Saveur magazine in 2009; 2) you can buy bittersweet sea salt chocolate chip cookies online now from Saint Cupcake in Portland, and you should! One of the best cookies I ever tasted.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries...

“Cough," I said. "Cough cough.” It seemed natural enough to cough my lungs up at Rite Aid, where I arrived much in need of some cough syrup. Not even a week after the big spider bite (consensus says it was most likely a black widow), I had picked up my first case of bronchitis, and who knows if this was due to my body fighting off spider venom or because of several hours spent in the most crowded and poorly managed ER in Los Angeles County.

The coughs notwithstanding, at least I could still roll my eyes at the typical drug store scenario of each and every bottle of cough syrup being cherry flavored. Cherry flavored? How come the children's cough syrup is grape flavored? Adult cherry cough syrup is so vile that pharmaceutical companies must clearly only take pity on coughing children since they're the only ones given a less repulsive flavor option. As an asthmatic child, I was in need of cough syrup often and it was always cherry flavored and thankfully my parents usually bribed me to take it down with a YooHoo chaser.