Ever since discovering the Miette website a few years ago, my dream was to take some baking lessons with the bakery one day. When their book came out last year, I hunted for friends who were coming back from the US to bring me a copy. Of course now I am waiting for the revised edition because the first edition has many mistakes, something to do with the conversion in weight.
I never thought that I'd be seeing Miette cakes in person. I know, I sound like a star-struck kid but I really identify with the way the cakes are decorated. I love simplicity in cakes and Miette's Tomboys especially are to me the epitome of a simple classy cake. Watch this video of how the Miette Tomboys are frosted.
Fishermen's Wharf (Pier 39) in San Francisco was fun the first and second times I visited (the second time was with Hub, Yi and Ming, 15 years ago) but the third time, this time, I found it really touristy and even cheesy. The only things I like are the sea lions. They seem to have not moved in 15 years. They still make "ounkounk" sounds like sea dogs.
1 Ferry Building a few blocks down from Pier 39 is a restored ferry terminal (there are dozens of ferry terminals along the Embarcadero waterfront) that houses upscale gourmet markets and restaurants. The most famous restaurant in the building is The Slanted Door, a modern (westernized)Vietnamese restaurant. Yi had the privilege of dining there one night but she was not impressed although her companions, all non-Asians, were, so she didn't want to seem uppity when they raved about the food. Over and over, I've found that the really fancy Chinese/Asian restaurants are more on presentation and fame rather than taste and the patrons are usually corporate high spenders. The best food I've had actually are those in less fancy restaurants, frequented by 'locals'.
Miette (meaning small and sweet) is pronounced "mee-at", the cashier told me when I gushed about how happy I was to be finally there. Started by Meg Ray, the bakery now has four locations. I went to the Ferry Building location but found out later that the Jack London Sq location was near to where I was staying.
Finally, I saw the Tomboys in person! I could hardly control my excitement. Unfortunately, we were going to be out the whole day so bringing a whole cake along with us would not be wise. It turned out true because we ended the night on a wild tram ride on the hilly streets of San Francisco.
I shielded these cupcakes, hanging to the pole on the tram and they didn't end up too badly squashed. I love the one on the left the most. The icing was really good, soft, pillowy and slightly sticky. All the cupcakes were delicious and my impression was that they tasted like they were made with the best ingredients any home baker would use.
Walking home alone one night on 8th Avenue, NYC, I saw a this bakery, Empire Cake.
I bought 3 cupcakes (dulce de leche, raspberry and red velvet) and they were all SO good. Two of them had filling inside and I decided that that's how I like my cupcakes from now on.
On our final day in NYC, I made sure we had breakfast at Empire Cake. Turned out all they had was cakes so yes, it was cupcakes for breakfast.
Peanut frosting and raspberry filling--omg, so goood!
A coconut bomb.
One day, we were on Fifth Avenue and came upon this bakery. *gasp* Magnolia Bakery! I've seen their books, made their cupcakes.
The bakery was so full of people, we couldn't even squeeze into it. We left and went back again on another day and it was still packed. I couldn't take photos without sticking my head in between people.
Magnolia Bakery's new cupcakes for the new Ghost show that just opened on Broadway the day we arrived in NYC.
Every bakery we went, red velvet cupcakes were the hit items.
This was not just the reddest red velvet cake I've ever eaten, it was also one of the worst. Utterly disappoiinting, since it was Magnolia's and the store was swamped with tourists. Which explains it. I am more and more skeptical of highly rated restaurants and eateries, especially those rated by Tripadvisors and so on. This was dry and awful, the frosting tasted of commercial frosting my daughter said. I agree and we threw the rest of the cake away.
The devil's food cake was even more disappointing. Overly sweet, dry and lacking any chocolate flavor. We took a bite each and threw this away as well. I think Magnolia Bakery is over-rated and quality has been compromised by its success.
Since we didn't have access to the Internet, I didn't find out until I was about to leave NYC that Magnolia Bakery is not even rated in many cupcakes polls. That doesn't matter because tourists can't get enough of the cupcakes although I wonder how many of them would go back for seconds. I baked Magnolia's vanilla cupcakes before and they were very good so my guess is that they are compromising on quality because of the overwhelming demand. Here's a video of their recipe and how to get that Magnolia frosting swirl if you are still keen. Based on this, this and this, the top consistently highly rated cupcakes in NYC are from Two Little Hens, ChikaLicious, Baked, Sugar Sweet Sunshine. Anybody has any comments on NY cupcakes?