Posted by Kristy Ju / Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
Moms, we understand that you are all too familiar with the difficulty of shopping for children’s clothing. Towing your child in one arm, you use your other free hand to carefully feel the material of clothing as you sift through the racks. Will this tulle skirt be too itchy for my daughter? Is this button-down’s collar too stiff and uncomfortable for my son to wear? You take extra care to ensure that your child’s clothing is both comfortable and stylish.
Local mother and sewing expert, Waleska Town knows this all too well and armed with a sewing machine for her 30th birthday, she took matters into her own hands. Owner of UpCircle Studio , Town creates handmade children’s attire, bedding, and accessories that are not only comfortable, but also made up of up-cycled, environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible materials.
Posted by Melissa Lyden / Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Sisters Jennifer Neiman and Susan Woodhouse, co-owners of Cupcakes Actually, were tired of their families dealing with distance. “My sister and I are very close,” explains Neiman, “our cupcake shop was a way for her to relocate here.”
Woodhouse was known for her cupcakes in her former home of Detroit. With her baking skills and Neiman’s background in sales and marketing, the two combined their expertise to open the Cupcakes Actually Fairfax location in March of 2009. The store offers a rotating selection of 50 different cupcake flavors—piña colada with rum frosting, champagne filled with orange curd (aka mimosa), Guinness Stout with molasses—with less than 10 available in the stores at any given time.
The two now oversee 60 employees. “When you get it right,” says Neiman, “you want to expand.” After a long search for a place to open a second location, Neiman stumbled across the perfect place when meeting friends for lunch: in the Leesburg Wegman’s shopping center.
The Cupcakes Actually Leesburg location (1607 Village Market Blvd. #108, Leesburg) is expected to open in March 2013 and will include a specialty coffee and gelato bar, an expanded concept from the Fairfax shop.
Posted by Kayla Franson / Friday, August 24th, 2012
As part of the international Fashion’s Night Out celebration, Georgetown, Alexandria and Fairfax will soon host after-hours shopping extravaganzas, perhaps the dream of women — and fashionable fellas — everywhere. FNO, part of the economy-boosting global initiative, will take place on Sept. 6 with entertainment and great shopping from 6-11 p.m.
More than 100 stores, restaurants and salons will participate in Georgetown’s FNO. Shoppers can begin the night by arriving in the lap of luxury with the car service UBER, who will grant $15 off the first ride with the promo code FNO2012. Also, Pedicabs will take riders for free with a receipt from a participating Georgetown business.
For those wanting a beautification treatment during the evening, Sassoon Salon at Tysons Galleria will offer an exclusive QR code discount for a haircut and highlights, along with a complimentary treatment. Tysons Galleria will also have dinner samplings while offering live music from The Christopher Linman Jazz Ensemble from 6-8 p.m.
Alexandria has more than 80 businesses (from shops to restaurants and spas, etc.) set to participate in the city’s inaugural FNO event, including a fashion show featuring local celeb models at the Torpedo Factory at 7 p.m. and cocktails in the courtyard, prize drawings and a trunk show by Alexandria jewelry line Toka + Chris by designers Maritoka Palmer and Christine Stanton at Shoe Hive — to give just two examples of the fabulousness planned from Del Ray to Old Town.
Fairfax will offer free live music at Undeniable Boutique by The Jones Band, a fall fashion show and food. Stay current by following @fnofairfax on Twitter and Undeniable Boutique’s Facebook page.
Posted by Kelly Hwu / Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
The International AIDS Conference has been swarming our newsfeed lately for an important reason: It’s being held this week in The United States for the first time in 22 years. I had the privilege of attending the LifeRide event last Friday, July 20, at Georgetown’s Kiehl’s sponsored by amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and Kiehl’s.
Celebrities, famed chefs and the CEOs of Kiehl’s and amfAR were all there to support the cause. The main purpose? A $115,000 check from Kiehl’s was presented to amfAR. When I got there, Kiehl’s was pumping with music and excitement, and goodies were spread all over the store. Cupcakes, skin products, makeup artists and the press were all jumbled outside and inside the store.
Motorcyclists arrived in front of Kiehl’s at 6:30 p.m. Georgetown’s Kiehl’s marked the final destination of their 10-day philanthropic motorcycle ride along the Eastern Seaboard to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS research.
I recognized some celebrities as they got off the backs of motorcycles. Through all the screaming, swarming fans and cameras, I was able to catch glimpses of Tyson Beckford, Gilles Marini and Tricia Helfer. After nicely taking pictures with fans, they quickly gathered into Kiehl’s and the doors were shut. About 15 minutes later, Sharon Stone arrived in a black SUV and was quickly rushed into the Kiehl’s store, as well.
At 7:30 p.m., Sharon Stone, whos is amfAR’s Global Fundaising Chairman, picked a name out of the event’s raffle. One attendee had the opportunity to win a ticket for themselves and a guest to attend the amfAR & GBCHealth’s Together to End AIDS Gala the next day at the Kennedy Center. The event went smoothly, and the crowd seemed amused by the celebrities and commotion. Passerbys asked around to find out what was going on, so the goal to getting word out about the event was definitely achieved. For updates or to learn more, visit the AIDS 2012 and LifeRide websites.
By Maddy Berner
No matter the time of day, or diet you’re on, everyone craves the sweet, decadent taste of dessert. Thankfully, the Northern Virginia area is teeming with various sprinkled delights. From fro-yo to giant cupcakes, use your lunch break to explore only the newest and most delicious in dessert fashion. Only the finest sweet shops take residence in NoVA, and we categorized the best by location to help you get to know them.
Something to remember: Larger chains often have multiple locations in the NoVA area. If you see a shop you want to try, look for it in a community closer to you.
*Know of a bakery or cafe that’s absolutely delicious but isn’t featured on here yet? Leave a comment below and we’ll keep updating as we discover new places!
Take a baking class and learn how to make these decadent treats, or simply shop the menu for an array of cakes, tarts and bars. Each one is made with the utmost care by Deirdre Parker, who has been in the business for years. Just Desserts also offers seasonal sweets, as well as catering services./ Alexandria; 703-801-6325; justdessertsva.com
Lavender Moon Cupcakery
Blood Orange Dreamsicle, Mexican Chocolate Pudding – it’s obvious this bake shop has a knack for uniquely-flavored cupcakes. Some online reviewers say it’s the best in the NoVA and D.C. area with their intensely moist, sweet cakes and decadent frosting./ 116 South Royal St., Alexandria; 703-683-0588; www.alexandriacupcake.com
This shop calls itself a cupcake boutique bakery, complete with European style décor. But the real treat is the cupcakes, which are heavenly in their simplicity and taste. Their daily flavors include dark chocolate and red velvet, but call ahead to see if they’re serving their PB&J or rosewater cupcake./1022 King St., Alexandria.; 703-299-9099; www.alexandriacupcake.com
Alexandria Pastry Shop
Not only does this Alexandria staple offer gluten-free, sugar-free and allergy sensitive specialties, but they use locally-grown produce and European chocolate in their batters. They even offer seasonal treats like gingerbread and pumpkin bread. With wedding cake and catering services available, this place seems like the one-stop shop for all your sugary desires./ Bradley Shopping Center, 3690-H, King St., Alexandria.; 703-578-4144; alexandriapastry.com
Buzz Bakery and Lounge
You’ll feel like you stepped into a sweet treat wonderland at Buzz Bakery. Go early for breakfast, or stop in the afternoon to browse their cupcakes, pies and cookies. Then, come back at night where comfortable couches and intimate table settings make a hot spot for romance./ 901 Slaters Lane, Alexandria.; 703-600-2899; www.buzzbakery.com
Hollin Hall Pastry Shop
Hollin Hall has won numerous awards for their take on weddings cakes and other pastries. Not only do they offer your typical treats, but they also sell a variety of decadent mousses in flavors you probably won’t find anywhere else. See what 30-year pastry veteran Mel Meadows is cooking up!/ 7920 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria.;703-768-9643; www.hollinhallpastry.com.
Yes, this café and catering company offers a variety of cupcake combinations – coconut cake with lemon buttercream, anyone? But they also serve savory cupcakes like mini lasagnas and mac n’ cheese. But if you’re going for sweet, try their Kahlua mocha trifle, lemon cloud mousse, or others. The possibilities are endless./ 823 King St., Alexandria.; 703-549-1028; www.bittersweetcatering.com.
The Dairy Godmother
Professionally-trained and lover all things sweet and fluffy – Liz Davis has created a unique place for custard lovers. Check online for her Flavor of the Day (sometimes Mexican chocolate or summer pudding), then purchase a homemade dog treat for your furry pal. Both man and man’s best friend will not be able to resist her original family-style desserts./ 2310 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria.; 703-683-7767; www.thedairygodmother.com.
Rita’s Italian Ice
Combine Italian ice and custard and you have Rita’s. This chain is a favorite amongst many in the area, especially on a scorching hot day. Their menu contains every frozen treat you can think of, with toppings to mix into each one. Go classic with an Italian ice, or load up on the mix-ins with a creamy custard Blendini./ Alexandria Plaza 6242-C, Little River Turnpike, Alexandria.; 703-256-RITA; www.ritasice.com.
The real Cake Bosses are right here in town and they have a custom-made cake for any occasion. Choose from a variety of more than 100 flavors including carrot cake, cookies n’ cream, fuzzy navel, red velvet and tiramisu and let these artists work their magic for birthdays, weddings or even dessert (cupcakes). / 8859 Richmond Highway, Alexandria; 703-780-2253; occasionallycake.com
Red Velvet Cupcakery
This bake shop recently came to the Clarendon area in 2011. Using locally grown ingredients, their cupcakes are moist, fresh and decadent. They even donate their leftovers to shelters and organizations in the area. Suggestion? Try the red velvet. It’s ultra-sweet and, of course, a classic./ 3035 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington.;703-243-5660; www.redvelvetcupcakery.com.
Another popular chain bake shop is Crumbs, also located in Clarendon. They sell brownies, muffins and cakes, but they are known for their giant-sized cupcakes, which can easily feed two or more with their abundance of frosting and taste. Buy one to split in flavors such as Key Lime and Dulce de Leche./ 2839 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington.; 703-5244001; www.crumbs.com.
Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt
The Arlington location of this fro-yo giant just opened a few years ago, but has become successful in luring in customers with their unique and healthy toppings. Choose a base flavor then pile on syrups and toppings. These guys promise you’ll feel light and refreshed – just like their yogurt./ 2930 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington.;703-312-9433; www.pinkberry.com
When you walk into this quaint gelato and coffee shop, you’ll think the ice cream looks too good to eat. Take a bite into rich flavors like cake batter and banana or request your own idea for a creamy concoction on their chalkboard. Fun, different and deliciously authentic./ 2719 Wilson Blvd., Arlington.; 703-869-6522; www.boccato.com
Hiedelberg Pastry Shoppe
Hailing from Germany, Heidelberg’s authentic treats have public officials from all over the area coming for more. Since 1975, the Büchlers have been serving desserts that satisfy both sides of the Atlantic. Take a number and enjoy complimentary coffee while waiting for you order./ 2150 N. Culpeper St., Arlington.; 703-527-8394; www.heidelbergbakery.com
Pastries by Randolph
This local favorite takes pride in their dedication to dessert. Cakes of all shapes and flavors are available and can be custom-made. They also offer pastries like petit fours, chocolate dipped strawberries and small tea cookies. These guys keep it real and keep customers coming back./ 4500 Lee Highway, Arlington.; 703-243-0070; www.pastriesbyrandolph.com
For authentic Armenian desserts, Arax Café reigns supreme. Ice cream and sweet treats like baklava are popular, and often reflect the season. Summery flavors like mango and coconut will relieve you on a hot day, but the friendly customer service will stick with you forever./ 5852 N. Washington Blvd., Arlington.; 703-532-3320.
We gave them a “Best of NoVA” award for their cupcakes, but the sister/owners’ passion and dedication to flavor speaks for itself. We’re not sure where to start on their menu – with choices such as pistachio, orange and blackberry – but their decadent vanilla and chocolate cupcakes are surefire winners./ 11944 Grand Commons Ave., Fairfax.; 571-522-6315; cupcakesactually.com
Prize-winning cheesecakes and sculpted cakes make this dessert shop well-known and divine for those with a serious sweet tooth. Owner Kimberly works tirelessly to decorate cakes for any occasion, making sure even smaller treats like cookies and cake pops are original and baked to perfection./ 13140 Madonna Lane, Fairfax.;703-362-8942; www.simplydessertsonline.com
Breeze Bakery Cafe
Annandale and Centreville might be Koreatown with their endless options of BBQ’ed bulgogi and H Marts, but sometimes it can be hard to find a good Asian bakery. Breeze satisfies this need with its desserts, including sweet potato cakes, Bing Soo (gelato) and bubble tea. Plus, it’s open until midnight all week just in case your date at Honey Pig runs late. So grab a bite, then relax on the upstairs deck with friends – and forget you’re in Annandale at all! / 4125 Hummer Road, Annandale; 703-462-9093; breezebakery.com
The Swiss Bakery and Pastry Shop
Guten Tag! If you’re looking for a place to score decadent German sweets without dealing with pesky customs, look no further. The Swiss Bakery, with locations in Springfield and Burke, offers European chocolates, fresh-baked pastries and wine and beer from across the pond. Tschüß! / Ravensworth Shopping Center, 5224 Port Royal Road, Springfield; 703-321-3670; Burke Town Plaza, 9536 Old Keene Mill, Burke; 703-569-3670; swissbakery.com
Pound cake, scones and delicate tea desserts separate this bakery from your normal cake shop. Of course, the classic wedding cake option is also available, with flavors like lemon and almond on hand. Look for the quaint red shutters outside this welcoming dessert establishment./ 10430 Main St., Fairfax; 703-273-0800; www.victoriascakeryinc.com
For an Asian spin on American classics, visit Shilla for their successful blend of both. The staff has traveled to countries like Japan and South Korea, looking for that hot new dessert trend. Their website even contains a section for new products. Ever heard of melon bread? Read more online!/ 10940 Fairfax Blvd. Suite E-F, Fairfax.; 703-691-1171; intelisystemstest.com/shilla
Owner and founder David Behnam has been in the business for 30 years, whipping up custom wedding cakes, pies and cheesecakes. Converse with the friendly staff, sip coffee and browse whatever seasonal flavors this award-winning bakery is offering at the time./ 9557 Braddock Road, Fairfax.; 703-426-7202; www.theuniquebakery.com
Customers online rave about the dozens of gelato options available here. Everything is made fresh, including a warm waffle or French crepe to accompany to your frozen delight. Flavors include strawberry, tiramisu, hazelnut and coconut./ 9432 Main St., Fairfax.; 703-978-2112.
Woody’s Ice Cream
It’s a simple, classic ice cream shop taking residence in the 21st century. Get freshly-made soft-serve ice cream in a cone, dipped in chocolate, or over a brownie. Splurge for a milkshake in flavors like peanut butter and black cherry. Only open for the summer!/ 10435 North St, Fairfax.; 703-277-9553; www.woodysicecream.com
Vina Café Bakery
This dessert shop was originally a Chinese bakery, but the family updated it to include a fusion of eastern and western flavors. They now serve Taiwanese-style buns, Vietnamese-style pastries and of course, all-American cakes./ 3900-C Pickett Road, Fairfax.; 703-239-2828; www.vinacafebakery.com
Dulce’s Bakery and Empanada Shop
Entering this dessert shop will transport you south to the rich culture of Latin America. Grab an authentic empanada – sweet or savory – then try with one of their cupcakes or cookies. These guys are longtime NoVA locals, and are dedicated on bringing their unique flavors to you./ 3900-C Pickett Road, Fairfax.; 703-978-8021; dulcesbakery.com
A quick milkshake fix can be satisfied at this small, intimate shop in Falls Church. They serve sandwiches as well, but the ice cream and milkshakes are too creamy and sweet to pass up. Try the coconut and taste actual slivers of roasted coconut mixed inside./ 110 N. West St., Falls Church.; 703-525-4960.
The Mirage Café
We have to ask: who hasn’t had a craving for the honeyed, crunchy taste of baklava? Thankfully, Falls Church has The Mirage, a restaurant and bakery that specializes in the Middle Eastern dessert. Order this freshly-made pastry in bulk, along with a variety of other treats packed with nuts from Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan. Try the balooria, basma or maamoul./ 5916 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church.; 703-845-1600; www.miragesweets.com/.
Frozen Dairy Bar and Boardwalk Pizza
This frozen custard shop has changed a lot since opening in 1950. But through it all, it continues to deliver some of the creamiest and most genuine ice cream in the NoVA area. There’s a lot of history in this place, so grab a cone and enjoy that old-timey atmosphere./ 6641 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church.; 703-534-4200; www.fdbpizza.com
Natalia’s Elegant Creations
Voted best bakery, coffee shop and lunch spot in Falls Church – you simply can’t miss out on the sweet and savory items offered at Natalia’s. This quaint little café specializes in fresh, high-quality products that can be vegan and/or gluten-free. Their gourmet cupcakes almost look too pretty to eat and their various tortes will have your mouth quivering for more./ 230 West Broad St., Falls Church; 703-241-8040; www.nataliaselegantcreations.com/.
Mom’s Apple Pie Company
Experience the warm, comfortable feeling whenever you dive into an apple pie again and again – and without preservatives. All your favorites are featured on the menu, including stand-outs like almond amaretto, peach and the ever-classic apple. Their blackberry pie was even voted one of the best in the south by Southern Living Magazine. Breads and cookies are also available./ 126 A Commerce St., Occoquan; 703-497-7437; 220 Loudoun St., SE, Leesburg.; 703-771-8590; http://www.momsapplepieco.com/.
A cupcakery “that delivers to you” sounds almost perfect to us, but it’s the variety of cupcake flavors that seal the deal. Come in every day for a different selection: Snicker’s, Coconut, Watermelon, Maple Bacon and Pistachio – just to name a few. And this place loves to support the community, so choose them next time you want to host a party or school event!/ 12801 Galveston Court, Manassas.;703-670-6639; http://www.confectionsonline.com/.
Danielle and her baking expertise have been featured on multiple news outlets, which proves just how divine and delicious her treats really are. Layer cakes, pies and cookies, among others, sprinkle the menu. She even offers gluten-free desserts, enjoyed in a warm and inviting atmosphere./ 2001 International Drive, McLean.; 703-442-4096; http://www.daniellesdesserts.com/.
Reston and Herndon
Edibles Incredible Desserts
To start, the cake designs featured at this shop are one-of-a-kind and impressive – we would know, we’ve featured them in our magazine twice! Past the cakes are cool confections like gourmet truffles, rich fudge and of course, cupcakes topped with loads of frosting./ 11917 Freedom Drive, Reston.;703-709-8200; www.ediblesincredible.com
The CupCake Ladi
“Superior quality, superior taste,” is what the CupCake Ladi says about her organic cupcakes. They’re made with certified organic ingredients, meaning their great taste will leave an equally great feeling in your stomach. One NoVA Mag reader says you haven’t lived until you try her Moo Moo Moo Cow cupcake, but there are so many options, you’ll be itching to try them all!/11412 West Washington Plaza, Reston.; 703-787-6775; http://www.thecupcakeladi.com/.
Milwaukee Frozen Custard
If you thought there were only two flavors of custard, think again. Milwaukee serves more of them than we can count, with the amount of mouth-watering toppings surpassing even that. Creamy custard is mixed with crumbs and glazes to create blends like s’mores, lemon meringue pie and pumpkin pie./ 300 Elden St., Herndon.;703-467-0900; www.milwaukeefrozencustard.com
This chain claims they use only the freshest ingredients, such as grass-fed cow milk and free-range eggs, which they often import themselves. Their shop serves flavors ranging from sweet to tart, all with an authentic Italian twist. Pitango customers deserve the best of the best, and the gelato definitely delivers it./ 11942 Democracy Drive, Reston.;703-606-9906; www.pitangogelato.com
Always fresh and always handmade – that’s something promised by Chesapeake Chocolates. This dessert shop specializes in chocolate truffles, bark and shapes, making sure to add a little texture with nuts, dried fruit and toffee. Stop into this family-owned location for your next Valentine’s Day gift. They make it personal./ 11426 Washington Plaza West, Reston.; 703-620-0082; www.cheschoc.com
Nielsen’s Frozen Custard
Nielsen’s ice cream feels like melted butter on the tongue– smooth, creamy and oh, so good. There are loads of fun toppings to choose from, but nothing is wrong with going au natural. Made fresh every few hours, this frozen treat is hard to beat./ 144 Church St. NW, Vienna.; 703-255-5553.
An ever-increasing demand for sweets caused this bakery to relocate not once, but twice! Amphora now employs over 20 experienced bakers, chefs and designers to bring the rich taste of Europe to every bread and pastry on the shelf./ 405 Maple Ave. West, Vienna.; 703-281-5631; www.amphorabakery.com
The name of this cupcakery speaks for itself. Simple, elegant and just plain delicious – if that’s what you’re looking for, then Cupcakes! makes it easy. Choose from cupcakes of the classic variety, or change it up with lemon blueberry and pumpkin./ 527 Maple Ave. West, Vienna.;703-938-3034; www.cupcakescupcakery.com
Sweet City Desserts
The concept of this shop was to allow customers to watch the pastry chefs as they work. They can order any of the Filipino-style desserts, then relax in the lounge area surrounded by free Wi-fi and soft music. Try a purple yam cupcake first, it’s just one of many unique flavors there./ 131-A Maple Ave. West, Vienna.; 703-938-8188; sweetcitydesserts.co
The Pie Gourmet
If you thought you knew every type of pie, think again. The Pie Gourmet offers dozens more, as well as specialty cakes, cheesecakes and other desserts. Check out the photos of each pie, then choose the right flavor for any occasion. It’s guaranteed to delight the taste buds./ 507 Maple Ave. West, Vienna.; 703-281-7437; www.piegourmet.com
Cenan’s Baked Goods
Stop into Cenan’s for a sandwich, but stay for their array of homemade pastries, including delights like brioche, meringues and Turkish delights that are authentic and sweet. Cenan himself promises hearty, fresh bread every morning, without the icky preservatives./ 122 Branch Road SE, Vienna.; 703-242-0070; www.cenansbakery.com
Since 1986 Yas has been supplying Vienna with delicious Persian cookies and cakes. If you count yourself among the many baklava lovahs, this market is a must-stop shop. One Yelp reviewer says, “If you’re interested in unique foods, Yas is like a playground.” / 137 Church St. NW, Vienna; 703-242-4050; yasbakery.com
A patisserie (often spelled with a miniature rooftop accent thing over the ‘a’) is a French or Belgian bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets. This family-owned hidden gem boasts a selection of tempting desserts that will have you packing on the pounds if you’re not too careful with their marzipan, creme brulee and macaroons. There’s even key lime pie, which is undeniably hard to find in NoVA. / 167 Glyndon St. SE, Vienna; 703-255-6880; silvaspatisserie.com
Posted by Sally Traynham / Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
The only good thing that came out of the commercialization of Easter is Easter candy.
From marshallowy peeps to solid chocolate bunnies, all of the big name candy-makers have some sugary creation made to celebrate the spring holiday. With Easter celebrations this Sunday, fill your baskets instead with local treats, created without processed sugars and chemicals.
NoVA sweet shops offering homemade Easter treats:
Alexandria Pastry Shop, Alexandria
Milk or White Chocolate Baskets ($5.99), Milk/Dark/White Chocolate Easter Bunny ($12.99), Milk or White Chocolate Eggs ($8.99), Hand-Decorated Easter Cookies ($14.99 per pound)
Amphora Bakery, Herndon & Vienna
Chocolate or Vanilla Large Easter Egg Cake ($59.95 for large, $35.95 for half), Easter Bread ($15.95 for 10-inch, $20.95 for 12-inch) and Assorted Decorative Cookies (call for pricing)
Artisan Confections, Arlington
Salted Caramel Bunnies ($7 for 4 pieces, $15 for 9 pieces), Peanut Butter Eggs ($3.50), Caramel Marshmallow Bars ($4), Easter “Chick” Lollipops ($2.50), Cherry Blossom Boxes ($17 for 9 pieces), 2-piece “Easter” Boxes ($4)
Buzz Bakery, Alexandria & Arlington
Homemade Lemon Peeps ($11.50 for nine) and Baby Chickie Cupcakes in chocolate or vanilla ($24 for 12)
The Sugar Cube, Alexandria
Solid Easter Bunnies in milk/dark/white chocolate ($3.50 for pocket-size, $12.95 for 8 oz. bunny), Traditional Basket Eggs in butter cream/peanut butter/coconut cream/marshmallow ($3.50), Malted Milk Eggs ($3.50 per bag), Egg-shaped Truffles ($1.85 each or various gift boxes), Hand-Marbled Chocolate Eggs in Egg Carton ($29) and Hollow Eggs with Gianduja-filled Rabbit Inside ($14.95)
The Swiss Bakery, Springfield & Burke
Easter-themed Fondant Cookies ($2.25 per cookie), Easter-Bunny-Bun ($3 per bun) and German Easter Bread ($7.50 per loaf)
(Although who are we kidding, you can also grab Cadbury Creme Eggs from Society Fair.)
[tips for the food desk]
Posted by Stefanie Gans, Dining Editor / Friday, March 30th, 2012
An occasional series where NoVA Mag staffers taste test samples floating around the Food Desk and let you know whether they’d buy it again after a complimentary bite.
Taste Test: Wicked Good Cupcakes–Good to Go Cupcake-in-a-Jar
Traditional southern style red velvet cake with vanilla cream cheese buttercream frosting.
@bekahlowe (bekah/new media specialist)
It tastes like I’m just eating bread with cream cheese frosting and it’s not even a great texture.
@Ash_Corrin (ashleigh/graphic designer )
The icing is very, very good. I compare it to Georgetown Cupcake, and this one, it’s equally delicious.
@amolrus (amol/merchant specialist)
@DebbieNoVaMag (debbie/account executive)
I like the buttercream.
@lorin_marie (lorin/copy writer)
Mmmm. I love red velvet.
It’s not very flavorful or rich. It’s just some bread with some sugar in it.
Keep reading for reviews—and the Final Verdict—on three more cupcake-in-a-jar treats.
Posted by Lorin Drinkard / Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
With the great Irish holiday approaching, are you ready for all things green? We’re talking leprechauns, party beads, parade floats, men marching in kilts, funny wigs, shamrocks, beer, sweet treats and more.
Posted by Stefanie Gans, Dining Editor / Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
Restaurant Eve nominated for Outstanding Service, Wine Program and Best Chef for this year’s James Beard Awards. [Eater]
Would you support public roads by paying a meal tax? [Mt.VernonPatch]
The Slice Is Right. Or is it? Rustico won yesterday for best pizza in NoVA. What’s your choice? [NVM]
Virginia’s iconic dishes are braised collards, oyster stew and peanut soup. Really? [Cooking Channel]
Hey Girl. It’s your birthday. Sign up for some freebies from area restaurants. [ManassasPatch]
Five Guys receives perfect marks on latest Fairfax City Restaurant Inspection. [FairfaxCityPatch]
And these are the most amazing and very best cupcakes of all time. But, where’s Janice? [Mostly Cabbages]
Bombay Club‘s return to Del Ray looking good. [DelRayPatch]
Take cover. Chains are coming. [WBJ]
Proper Turkish tea requires a two pot system. [AlexandriaPatch]
No more bun. Taco Bell changes tag line. [AdAge via Smartbrief]
Bye-bye disturbingly cheap Tex-Mex. [ARLnow]
Nearly one-third of Arlington kids receive free/reduced lunch. [Ballston-VASquarePatch]
Cheap Eats issue hits news stands this week. [NVM]
Photo by Stefanie Gans, ginger at Lotte
By Johnisha M. Levi
Cupcakes are so popular these days that they even star in their own reality series (i.e., TLC’s D.C. Cupcakes; Food Network’s Cupcake Wars; WE TV’s Cupcake Girls).
While it is easy to malign the meteoric rise of the pint-sized dessert (from Duncan Hines to designer duds), pastry chef and Cookology instructor Brad Spates readily acknowledges the dessert’s role in saving the modern bakery. As he points out, the cupcake became popular at a time when more and more people were turning to grocery stores to buy both their breads and other baked goods.
Market Salamander pastry chef Jason Reaves, the baking half of newbie dessert truck SweetFleet (@SweetFleetLLC), is convinced that cupcakes are a “trend, not a fad.”
“Cupcakes have been around longer [than some of the other current dessert trends] and everyone can relate to them,” Reaves maintains. “They bring us back to childhood [and therefore] have a little bit more staying power.”
Cupcakes, however, do not inspire love and happiness in everyone.
Area bakeries featured in a recent EaterDC.com write-up make clear that some feel they are becoming slaves to the trend. On the one hand, cupcakes are what the customers want, while on the other, the endless demand severely limits creative expression.
Isn’t there room in our stomachs for more than just butter cream-coiffed cakelets?
If you are serious about pastry, Michel Giaon of Reston’s Michel Patisserie is one to know. His pedigree is impeccable: he trained at L’Ecole Lenôtre, worked in Parisian bakeries including the famed Ladurée, and most recently directed Wegmans Patisserie and Baking Department. He left the latter position after two and a half years so that he could focus on his own creations. Although Giaon makes petit fours (including mini éclairs and petite tarts filled with the likes of almond cream and lemon curd), as well as cakes, tarts, breakfast breads, and savory delicacies, he chose French macarons as the centerpiece of Michel Patisserie.
“I have a weakness for macarons,” Giaon admits. “You can create new flavors and play with them and they are small enough for people to indulge.”
Giaon aptly describes macarons as “one of the hardest things to do in pastry.” Technique is the key. The macaron shells are an alchemical mixture of almond meal, egg whites and sugar that has to be combined in just the right fashion. It is easy to either over- or under-mix the batter, which should slowly sink back into itself when it is ready to pipe. If you achieve the proper consistency, you’ll get a light as air disk with an unblemished surface and a pied, or foot, on the bottom.
Not only is it every bit as appealing to those who like their desserts perfectly petite in proportion, the macaron is also gluten-free. (Cue resounding cheers from celiac suffers and the gluten-sensitive.)
With my first bite of Giaon’s macarons (a zest-filled orange), I thought, “This is how Proust must have felt about his madeleines.” Giaon says the secret is in the cream used to fill the almond meringue cookies—he doesn’t just take the common “shortcut” of just using flavored buttercream.
What is more, Giaon’s macarons come exquisitely packaged, complete with a color-coded flavor guide and an instructional insert on how to best preserve and serve your macarons. Look for Michel Patisserie’s future storefront to open in the District of Columbia early next year.
Craving something a bit more rustic and homey? The Blakely sisters have been baking pies (and canning fruit) since they were wee things. Their upcoming Georgetown pie, O’B. Sweet, will feature three sizes of pies (7 and 9-inch, as well as the single-sized “cuppies”), filled with fresh fruits (jumble berry, cherry, peach, and several incarnations of apple), specialty creams (banana, coconut and raspberry versions), seasonal whims (a winter time favorite is Bourbon Chocolate Pecan) and savory delights (pot and shepherd pies). The sisters have been working with Bigg Riggs Farms of West Virginia and other local farms and dairies to source their ingredients.
Trang Bowers may have worked in the corporate world as a CPA for 20 years, but she always kept one foot in the kitchen door. Once her daughter was grown, she decided to pursue her love for the culinary arts full time. Although Bowers caters to the cupcake crowd at her Dulles Town Center-bound kiosk, she smartly chose not to put all her eggs in one basket. Her cupcakes are a way to “supplement her revenue line” and to “bring in traffic” as she works on specialty cakes and moves closer to achieving her ultimate goal—a storefront bringing “really quality, and gourmet” single serving desserts to Leesburg.
Bowers first became smitten with mini-desserts after making a series of small treats (caramel Lady apples, tartlets, and pots de crème) that family and friends could enjoy after a Thanksgiving dinner glut. Her future storefront will incorporate some of the petite treats she has experimented with and developed for her kiosk and The Wine Kitchen. Some of her other ideas include portable pies made in tiny takeaway mason jars and fry pies. In the meantime, she’ll keep serving up the cake pops, paletas (Mexican ice pops), cake shots (“mini trifles served in a cup”) and signature tartlets that have made her mid-mall stand a must-stop.
Alchemy by Carla Hall’s COOKIE COLLECTIONS; 240-242-9040; www.alchemybycarlahall.com
Available locally at Artfully Chocolate (Del Ray, DC), Artfully Gifts & Chocolate (Alexandria) and Wasgshal’s Delicatessen (DC).
Michel Patisserie; 703-608-0255; www.michelpatisserie.com
Available locally at Artfully Chocolate (Del Ray, DC) and The Wine Cabinet (Reston).
O’B. Sweet; 571-236-7909; www.obsweet.com
Georgetown storefront is in the works.
Sweetz Bakery; Dulles Town Center Mall; 703-470-3366; www.sweetzbakery.com
Bowers also supplies The Wine Kitchen (Leesburg) with all their desserts.