September 16, 2010

Cupcake al fresco.

I first heard about Magnolia Bakery when I watched the SNL Digital Short, “Lazy Sunday.” (That’s also how I found out that Mr. Pibbs + Red Vines= Crazy Delicious.)

But back then, Magnolia was only in New York. Some of my friends who had been to Magnolia reported back that it was overrated, and that the manner in which the cupcakes were laid out for the choosing was… unsanitary. (For the record, when I was in NYC I didn’t look it up… my bad?) (Or my GOOD?)

Nonetheless, when I heard that Magnolia was coming to LA, I was excited. When it comes to cupcake stores, I say, “The more, the merrier!” (That’s because I don’t OWN a cupcake store.)

It also works out that the LA Magnolia is next door to the Benefit Boutique, which is where I get my eyebrows done. (I finally caved last Saturday and bought Benetint… I’m a little bit obsessed. It makes my lips look pretty, without looking like I’m wearing lipstick.) (Dear Boyz: We’re fooling you!)

I wasn’t necessarily in the mood to eat a cupcake (shocking, right?), but I figured as long as I was there I’d scope it out. But I didn’t want to buy more than one cupcake, or any red velvet. That’s best eaten in groups.

Sorry, sign. I will not be swayed.

Besides, Sara had been to Magnolia a few times (she’s more on top of her brows), and had been coached to avoid anything fancy and just get simple vanilla or chocolate.

The store itself is fairly simple in layout. There’s a line along a counter where you order and pay, and there’s an area to the side where you actually see people baking and frosting the cupcakes.

Thing is– you see these cupcakes just coming out of pans and looking like normal cupcakes you could bake at your house. But they’re not normal, because they’re, like, $4 each. (And if they best flavors are the simple ones… Duncan Hines, people.)

Oh, but there were cute shirts. I could see my sisters loving these shirts.

What does it mean, to cupcake something?

Is “cupcake” a verb now? Sounds like dirty innuendo.

All of the girls working behind the sales counter were wearing aprons and scarves around their heads, which gave them a very Amish/Orthodox Jew feeling. I’m not sure if they were any of those things.

Like I said, I wasn’t really going to order anything, but then I spotted a very simple honey cake cupcake (redundant?), not even frosted, and thought– oh hey, I didn’t get any Rosh Hashanah honey/spice cake/bread at Hillel. Maybe this honey cake could be my new High Holiday cake obsession.

Hey there, honey cakes.

Since I just got a single cupcake, I didn’t get a box. They kind of ingeniously put the cupcake in an upside-down cup. (Now it’s a CUP CAKE times two! Get it?) I thought it looked like a lunar module. That tickled my inner space geek. (I used to want to be an astronaut. Really.)

Intergalactic cupcake.

I was quite intrigued by this sign near the cash register. What’s a Magic Bar? Does it involve magic? Does it involve marijuana? I never found out.

This is how they lure the children...

Oops, I guess that picture had the T-shirts. No need for a separate T-shirt picture. Ah well, double dose of T-shirts. DEAL WITH IT.

Since the cupcake was very portable and I wasn’t super hungry and there wasn’t really anywhere to eat, I took it with me on my next errand and ended up eating it in the courtyard of the West Hollywood Gateway (aka the Target, for you locals).

I stole my napkins and knife from Baja Fresh. (Gracias!) For the sake of the photos and my own enjoyment, I like to cut my cupcakes into bite sized pieces. (And my pizza.) (I’m very proper.) (Actually– I eat everything I’m SUPPOSED to eat with a knife and fork with my hands. Go figure.)

Glamour shotz.

To my mild disappointment, the cupcake was just honey, no spice. It actually tasted like the cake version of a honey-flavored Teddy Graham. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

In case you don’t remember Teddy Grahams, this may jog your memory.

Childhood memories.

The packaging was different, when I was a kid. And I think the current bear is a little too in-your-face (with cookie nutrition facts?). Oh the times, they are a-changing.

But back to the cupcake. I don’t think it was as moist as Sprinkles. (OH– as I was driving from Magnolia to Target, I saw a Sprinkles store in the works on La Cienega, not far from the Beverly Center… also not far from the Beverly Hills location of Sprinkles. Lame?) [Oops-- It's actually an offshoot of the BH store... I defer to Crystal's insight in the comments.]

The slight lack of moisture probably wouldn’t have been as apparent if the cupcake had been frosted… but that’s no excuse. (AS YOU KNOW, I’m not that into frosting, so I was fine without it.)

Is a frosting free cupcake even a cupcake? What’s keeping it from being a muffin?


Cole was coming to meet me at the Target, so I left some cupcake for him and luxuriated in the sun (a rarity, for me), listening to a guy on a cell phone ask his friend/maybe assistant for a sample of sand from Playa del Rey. I got a mild sunburn on my chest, and apparently walked away right as my improv classmate was approaching to say hi. (Sorry, Scott.)

I like big shadows and I cannot lie.

Sometimes it’s nice to take a few minutes to just sit back, relax, and eavesdrop on strangers. (I also eavesdrop on strangers while carrying on conversations with friends… very talented ears.)

So… that was Magnolia. I definitely want to try some other flavors, especially with Lauren/Sara/Bea/GIRLZ (sorry Cole, you were great). The more people, the more flavors we can try.

I cupcake my friends! (EW!)

Oh, and I STILL need to find a new honey/spice bread/cake. Applications will be accepted year round.


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Snack Trek: Motherf*cking PROBIOTICS

September 15, 2010


Yesterday I consulted a wise person about my sad-sack digestive system, and she recommended that I go to Whole Foods and get some probiotics. Meanwhile, a separate wise person was like, “Hm, maybe your eyes are dying because you NEVER TAKE YOUR CONTACTS OUT.”

Both of those wise people were women. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.

So yesterday after work I made the respective treks to Target/Whole Foods (they are a few blocks apart on Santa Monica Blvd) to buy some contact solution and some refrigerated probiotics. Those things are not fun, but I spotted some more pleasant things to show you.

This almost didn’t seem photo-worthy, because it’s so obvious at this point, but why the heck not?

That's right.

Yep, Dreyer’s S’mores ice cream. Light. I have a feeling that this will be in the freezer next time I’m home (hint). It’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t buy for just me, because that’s dangerous. But it looks good. These Dreyer’s Slow Churned Light flavors are usually fairly delightful.

In the checkout line at Target this dressed up man was standing with this dressed up lady (except her dress was weird and kinda country), but then it turned out that they weren’t together? Like, he was typing his number into her phone? And he seemed creepy? And she was with her mother? And as an afterthought she called to him, “What’s your name?” And it was George. Weird.


I don’t usually go to Whole Foods because it’s not conveniently located and I have Trader Joe’s for touches of faux fanciness, but if I ever find out whether I AM allergic to gluten/wheat, I will definitely become its new biggest fan. They have tons of gluten-free options.

And they also have frog cookies!


It’s kind of a long and you-had-to-be-there story about why frogs have been circulating in my discussions lately, but it involves Cole’s new-found interest in erotic literature (even longer story) and a passage about “darting tongues,” which to me sounds more froggish than erotic.

Also, frogs are adorable. And make me think of Passover. Adorable plagues! (Whole Foods also sells hamentaschen year-round? I didn’t realize the hamentaschen market was booming.)

I realized that many of the probiotic pills were the size of horse tranquilizers (not my thing…), so the woman working that section of the store recommended the little drinkable drink. She claimed that drinking just one container often cures whatever ails you, but told me that some people drink one container (or half… or a quarter) every day, for maintenance I guess.

Did I mention that the containers are $4 each?

But luckily… cute bag!

I wish this were full of ice cream.

I tweeted a picture of that bad and wrote, “Guess what’s in my dinner bag…”

When I got home I tweeted the picture at the top of this post and wrote, “If you guessed probiotics for my fucking sad stomach, you win.”

Then I actually drank it. Three problems. First, I didn’t see the “shake vigorously” label thingy on top. Second, it was not as cold as it could be. Third, I drank it a bit too slowly.

The lady at Whole Foods said that it would taste like yogurt. Not exactly. It tasted more like… the so-called lemonade (more like VINEGAR) that my friend gave me last year. Which was also from Whole Foods. And was maybe also probiotics. This tasted like that, mixed with vanilla rice yogurt. (And I guess vinegar-y-ness makes sense, because it’s fermented.)

But I drank it, all for my stupid stomach. And tweeted this: “I now have 50 billion live active whatevers in my stomach. They tasted like vanilla vomit. Good dinner. They better work.”

Literally 50 BILLION. That’s what it says on the label. Minimum 50 billion.

Then I ate some real food, because most of the pills said, “Take with food.”

I got up this morning, did yoga, and drank another half-container. (The lady gave me a cute little plastic top. I love freebies!) It tasted a little better colder and shaken. Maybe I’m getting used to it. (That kind of makes me sad.)

Aaand my stomach still feels more or less the same as it did yesterday. (But I also ate yogurt with wheat germ for breakfast… so if I’m lactose intolerant or allergic to wheat… yeah, that would do it.)

I was a little bit sad to see that the probiotics were made in Canada, because why would my most favorite country do this to me? O Canada! WHY? (Unless it works. Then all will be forgiven.) (But still… this is the best it can taste?)

Ah well. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’ll evaluate again after I finish these three containers.

PS The contact lens solution worked great. My eyes cried for most of the two hours that the contacts were out, because they are so codependent on the lenses now. Creepy.


Snack of the Afternoon, 7/27/09: AUSTRALIAN “LIQUORICE”

July 28, 2009
Would a kangaroo lie to you?

Would a kangaroo lie to you?

I first encountered Australian liquorice when I was in high school. My friend Elena offered me a piece, and I was intrigued. (And so I began my downward spiral into drugs…) (Just kidding.)

Now, there are a couple of different brands of Australian liquorice, and I can never remember which brand I like best, or which flavor I prefer in any of those brands (hence, the two flavors above). This leads to a lot of disappointing purchases. My favorite brand (or at least, I think it’s my favorite) is available at Target, but they are ALWAYS out. Some greedy wallaby is buying it all up. (Maybe Australian liquorice contains traces of plutonium, and Doc Brown has been buying it in bulk to power his flux capacitor.) (If that is the case, I am going to stop eating this stuff ASAP.)

I don’t think the brand pictured is my favorite (it’s a little gummier), but it’s decent stuff. (The Target stuff has really similar packaging, and I get confused.) And it’s available in droves at Cost Plus World Market, which is one of my favorite stores to peruse. They have snacks from around the world! Including British chocolate, which tastes less waxy than American chocolate (you may not believe me, but that has been proven by science).

I bought today’s snack at the Cost Plus in the Grove/Farmer’s Market yesterday, during my impromptu “somebody has swine flu” (snow) day off from work. The woman at the counter asked if we were on our way to the movies, because apparently people love to sneak stuff from Cost Plus into the movies. “With a big enough purse, you could even sneak a bottle of wine,” she said. (She was one of my favorite checker-outers of all time.) “Or we could just bring those little personal bottles of wine,” I pointed out. There’s another reason to love those mini bottles of wine, besides the cuteness factor.

So yeah, Australian liquorice. If you are a liquorice person (and I am), give it a try. Also, licorice. Ah, that felt good. My brain was hurting from not being sure how to spell licorice the American way. The British spelling made me lose confidence. Thanks, spellcheck!

Happy hunting.


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