Monday, March 30, 2009

Cupcake City

I find the line at Magnolia Bakery extremely annoying. I biked by the place a few weeks ago, and I felt the urge to stop to tell the people they were throwing away precious minutes of their lives waiting for mediocrity. I wanted to be their Moses, free them from the shackles of hype and lead them to the promised land of sweet, moist and delicious cupcakes.

This inspired me to create my Google map: NYC Cupcakes. (View the larger map to actually see the list of places.)


View Larger Map

I listed 17 spots for cupcakes, and you can read my reviews for each by clicking on the links. My recommendations are color-coded:
  • Green - The cream of the crop. These are the best cupcakes in the city.
  • Yellow - Cupcakes in this group range from mediocre to very good.
  • Red - Stay away.
Here are my thoughts on the Top 3:

1) Sweet Revenge

Cupcakes Sampled:
Sweet Revenge - peanut butter cake, ganache filling with peanut butter buttercream
Pure - Mexican vanilla cake with Mexican vanilla frosting
Crimson and Cream - raspberry red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting

I love everything about this place -- the cupcakes, the atmosphere and the staff were all top notch. I randomly found this place last Tuesday on a lunch excursion with The Rainmaker, and we were both completely wowed by the Sweet Revenge cupcake. The cake was so moist, and the level of peanut butter flavor was just right; it wasn't overpowering. The chocolate ganache center was a very welcome surprise.

I immediately knew it was worthy of a number one ranking, but just to be sure we returned on Friday to try the Pure and the Crimson and Cream. The Pure was phenomenal. It certainly is the best vanilla cupcake I've tasted. Though the Crimson and Cream was great, it wasn't as good as the other two flavors. Also, I've tried better red velvet cupcakes elsewhere.

Overall, I loved the experience. I look forward to tasting the rest of their flavors and coming back for the wine and beer pairings.

2) Butter Lane
Cupcakes Sampled:
Banana cake with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting
The Elvis - banana cake with peanut butter frosting topped with two mini marshmallows
Banana cake with French vanilla buttercream

Butter Lane was an extremely close second to Sweet Revenge. After eating the banana cake with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting, I thought it was the best cupcake I had ever tasted...until I tried the Sweet Revenge.

The staff is very friendly and accommodating. I took Brando and The Rainmaker here on a recent Sunday afternoon, and since it wasn't too busy they frosted a cupcake half-blueberry and half-vanilla for us.

They also offer two choices of buttercream -- American and French. The difference, as explained by the owners to Serious Eats New York: "The American take is sweeter, a basic concoction of confectioner's sugar and butter, whereas the French is more smooth and light, a nearly silky meringue made from whipping egg whites with melted sugar."

You can't go wrong with either selection.

3) Dessert Club, ChikaLicious
Cupcakes Sampled:
Banana cake with caramel cream cheese frosting
Coconut cake with vanilla frosting topped with shredded toasted coconut
S'mores - vanilla cake, chocolate bar center with toasted marshmallow topping

The banana cupcake was superb. I knew it was going to be quite tasty once the staff member uttered "caramel cream cheese." It was an awesomely unique flavor. And though it lived up to its name with strong hints of coconut flavor, the coconut cupcake was not at the same level as the banana cupcake.

Roommate #2 joined me on this trip, and he sampled the S'mores cupcake. I could tell by his reaction that he was very impressed. He was suprised to find the chocolate-bar center and that the topping was actually a toasted marshmallow.

Overall, I really enjoyed my cupcake tour of the city. It was an enlightening and delicious experience.

Notes:
Thanks to all the people who accompanied me on the tastings.

I am not a food critic; I write a blog about random subjects. Please don't expect literary genius when reading my reviews. I just wanted to give my honest thoughts and opinions.

Rankings were not at all scientific. You may notice a lack of chocolate in my samplings, which is strange because I love chocolate. This is because I gave it up for Lent. The chocolate in the Sweet Revenge was an exception because I ordered it not realizing it had a ganache center. I did my best to stay with a certain type of cupcake -- banana or vanilla cake with cream cheese, vanilla or peanut butter frosting -- to maintain some semblance of consistency.

The map is for cupcake spots in Manhattan only, particularly lower Manhattan. I realize there are great places above 34th Street and in the other boroughs
(shoutout to Martha's Country Bakery in Astoria), but I simply don't have the time to visit them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hooters Girls Are Smart

Back in 2002 , the HGOC was seeing a girl who worked at Hooters. She seemed very nice. After a futbol game, my teammates and I went to the location where she worked, and she served us free beer. Everyone in our group was 19 or 20.

Think about the 19- and 20-year-olds you see now. They're just kids; they look like babies! Her manager scolded her and kicked us out, but I appreciated her effort.

That summer, we spent a lot of time lounging on a friend's boat, drinking and enjoying the great weather . One particular day, he invited the Hooters girl, and she brought her friend, a fellow Hooters co-worker. On our way out to the middle of the lake, the following conversation took place:

HGOC: So what did you girls do last night?
Hooters Friend: Oh my gosh. We got sooooo obliviated! It was nuts.
Hooters Girl: Yeah! It was crazy. We drank sooooo much.
Me: Silence. (I'm staring out across the water trying to avoid eye contact with the HGOC for fear of breaking out into uncontrollable laughter.)

The rest of the afternoon was a blur, but the moment we dropped off the two Hooters girls at the dock, I do remember the following conversation:

Me: (With a smirk on my face) So what do you want to do tonight?
HGOC: Let's get obliviated!
Me: Hell yeah! Obliviated! Wooooo!

And cue the uncontrollable laughter.

(Just for the record, I hate going to Hooters. The Dirty Burrito feels dirty, but in a bad way. Also, the wings from Hooters are horrendous.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A New Look

I've finally updated the look of The Dirty Burrito. I searched far and wide across the Internets and found several promising templates. I evaluated each option on design, two-column vs. three-column and ease of implementation.

In the end, I went with the "Awake" template from Blog Bulk. I liked the clean & simple design, and though I was immensely intrigued by three-columns, I kept gravitating back to the classic two-column layout. Also, this template was extremely easy to implement. Other designs I liked required extra steps, like editing the text layer of a PSD in Photoshop so I could get my blog name to display. I figured out how to do this, but the PSD couldn't fit "The Dirty Burrito." I wasn't quite sure what to do at that point, and I didn't like the template enough to justify spending time researching how to resolve the problem.

The other major revision, aside from the template change, was the reorganization of the sidebar:
  • I updated the "About Me" section with a real picture and an explanation of what drives me to write.
  • I removed my Twitter feed. If you really want to follow my tweets, you can follow me on Twitter.
  • I replaced my links section with a blogroll. These are the main blogs I follow, and they will be listed in order of most recent update.
  • I renamed the section for followers to "The Dirty Fanatics." I often joke that I only have five loyal readers, but according to this section I really do only have five loyal readers. Join the phenomenon and become one of The Dirty Fanatics.
  • I kept the subscription section so you can subscribe to me via your feed readers.

I hope you like it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Doooood

I've been saying "dude" a lot lately. I'm not really sure why. I can't blame it on Laguna Beach/Newport Harbor. That's been off the air too long. (In fact, it's like MTV drove a dagger through my heart, then threw salt in my wound as I slowly faded into the great unknown.)

I don't think I can blame it on my recent trip to L.A. I was increasing my usage of "dude" before that and even got called out by a few people there for saying it. Basically, the only thing L.A. makes me want to do is gel my hair and throw on Prada or Gucci glasses while I go for an intense run.

And I haven't been watching any stoner movies or shows, so that can't be the reason. Maybe I'm just prone to saying it a lot. I don't know how terrible that is, but whatever.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Random Madness

Joyous Madness
Happy 26th anniversary to my parents! In this day and age, 26 years is almost unbelievable. But what's more unbelievable than 26 years of marriage? I was born in August. Yup that's right! Woo hoo...still together!

Tourney Madness
Michigan made it to the Tourney for the first time since 1989...because the Fab 5 never existed. How I long for the days of Chris, Ray, Jimmy, Jalen and Juwan.

I still haven't completed a single bracket because I've been way too busy at work. But when I finally got some free time, I still couldn't complete a bracket because my computer sucks ass. It couldn't handle ESPN's HTML bracket. Why? Because my agency gave me a Mac Mini, which is 4-years-old. Four freakin' years old! It takes me at least a minute to open a Microsoft Office document. Kill me. In any case, I haven't watched a single college basketball game this season, so I probably won't do well.

Prediction: if Morehead State becomes the first 16-seed to upset a 1-seed, sales of its hats will immediately surpass sales of the COCKS (South Carolina) hats. (Side note: do they still sell those hats? I haven't seen one since high school. Speaking of...)

Holy $#!+ Madness
I read that a man who taught at my high school and my brother's high school was arrested for arranging for underage sex...with a boy. El Grande Burrito said he was a teacher in Accounting and World History at his school. I don't know what he taught at my school, but he was the coach of the bowling team. Thankfully for the bowling team, they only had to change their shirts in the locker room. And for those who don't know, my brother and I went to Catholic high schools, mine being an all-boys prep school... Just another kick in the balls for our religion. But it's still better than being a Scientologist.

Music Madness
Madness - Our House

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Withdrawal

You may have noticed a decrease in the frequency of my posts the past couple of weeks. This is because I've been extremely busy at work, leaving me with very little time to write. On top of that, my computer has not been working for the past three weeks. The only way I'm able to write is if I go to work early or stay late, which severely limits me creatively.

The hectic work schedule looks like it's going to continue for a few more weeks, so I won't be able to resume my rate of 2-3 posts a week just yet. But my computer is working again, so that might help me complete at least one post per week.

Also, I'm going to take some time to revise the look of The Dirty Burrito. So if you notice something is off with the blog, it's because I'm playing around with the layout, template and HTML.

I'm aiming to get back to blogging with regularity and have a new look finalized by the end of March, which hopefully coincides with the return of Gossip Girl. I'm suffering from withdrawal. I desperately need to find out what transpires between Dan and Ms. Carr. I truly believe they were meant to be together.

I just wanted to let you know The Dirty Burrito is still alive and somewhat well.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

[National Cereal Day] & Goji

This Saturday, March 7, is Hoboken St. Patrick's Day. From what I understand, a sea of white people dressed in green shirts hops on the PATH to Jersey to get ridiculously drunk. I'm talking college-style, fratty drunk. And this clusterfuck goes on all day long.

I had originally planned on partaking in this debauchery until my buddy, the Turkey Burger (so-named because he has a phenomenal turkey burger recipe), informed me that March 7 also happens to be National Cereal Day. The Turkey Burger, along with the HGOC, is one of the founding fathers of [me] & goji. He said he's going to be in Union Square that afternoon doing a promotion and requested some help. As a big supporter of [me] and goji, I immediately obliged. (FYI - I finally received my free tube for the "Nuts in Your Mouth" post. I named it "Hottest Goji on Campus." And as the HGOC mentioned in the comments section of that post, the coupon code was delivered exactly three months after it went live.)

You may be asking yourself, "Why would he skip Hoboken St. Patrick's Day to do a cereal promotion in Union Square?" To get to the first reason behind my decision, let's take a moment to dissect my opening paragraph. Here is a list of things I mentioned:
I'm the first to admit that I love day drinking. But imagine this scenario: I tell you that I have an awesome day-drinking event planned. You probably think, "AWESOME!" But then, I tell you it involves the PATH, Hoboken/Jersey, and a clusterfuck of bros and white people (just kidding...both the HGOC and the Turkey Burger are white, and I love them), I bet you'd start thinking of excuses to get out of the event.

The second reason I'm choosing Union Square and cereal over Hoboken is that I get to wear the Mr. Goji costume, which is pictured above. So come out. It'll be awesome! I'll even be with some white people.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

On A Quest

The season 3 finale of America's Best Dance Crew is tomorrow night. My vote goes to the purple-loving Asians with the crazy hairstyles - Quest Crew.

They had some solid competition from Beat Freaks all season, but when it mattered most, Quest Crew absolutely ripped it. Their performance in the Hip Hop Decathlon, which should've been called a pentathlon because they only had to do five moves, was unreal - they absolutely killed the tutting and wave sections. And the Orquestra performance was no joke. The closing lateral flip was so ridiculous, I actually watched it in slow motion to make sure he wasn't attached to strings. (If the videos are pulled from YouTube, just check out the full Week 7 episode at MTV.com)

Vote for Quest Crew. Just text 2 to 22444. You have until Thursday, 1am ET. I already voted multiple times. I have no life.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Sneaker City

A friend from work, whom we'll henceforth call Tiddy Bear because he was the person who informed me of the existence of the magical product, called my desk on Friday afternoon asking me for shoe stores in the city. His friend is going to Japan, and nothing he currently owns is cool enough for the Japanese. He wanted some recommendations on where to purchase new kicks.

Just off the top of my head, I was somehow able to name about seven different stores with very specific details (e.g., Alife Rivington on the north side of Rivington just east of Clinton, nondescript doorway, pay close attention so you doesn't miss it). I suppose I shop for shoes too much.

We had an excellent five-minute conversation about shoe stores, and we were able to come up with a list of about ten different locations. He was so amped by our talk that he created a Google map that identifies some of the sneaker spots. Check it out.

Also, he shared the map internally at work and discovered there are a bunch of sneakerheads, so hopefully this thing will become more robust in the coming weeks. I'll be sure to keep you posted.