Weekend on the Run: Part 1
|December 5, 2010||Posted by Lauren under Desserts, HOTR Eats, LifeontheRun|
(The Part In Which We Eat Our Weight in Baked Goods)
Today I ran my first 5K since college, and my first road race 5K since high school (in case you were wondering, that was a long time ago ;)). You might think that a little 5K would seem like nothing after running marathons. But the truth is, I was extremely nervous to sign up for this race. More nervous than I was for the marathon I signed up for the same day (more details on that to come). After all, 5Ks are fast! And my running since the Cape Cod Marathon has been pretty minimal. But when my fellow ontherun sister told me she had signed up for the Providence Downtown Jingle Bell 5K, I had to jump on board.
So what’s the best thing to do the day before a race to make sure you’re nice and ready? Rest, hydrate, and eat plenty of healthy carbs. Naturally, I did the opposite.
A little while ago, Becky had also invited me on an impromptu, one day trip to NYC. Since I had never been at Christmas-time to see all the decorations, I jumped at the chance. Armed with nothing more than Google Maps on my iPhone and a few recommendations from Susan, we set out in the early hours of the morning with one simple plan: to eat.
And we didn’t want to eat just anything. We both knew nothing could fuel our 5K dreams better than cupcakes. More specifically, cupcakes from 3 well-known NYC bakeries: Magnolia, Crumbs, and Buttercup Bake Shop. Now I was no stranger to these amazing cupcakeries, having tried them all on previous trips to the city. But it had been awhile, and we felt that an official taste-test was in order.
Fueled by a late morning Peppermint Mocha, we trekked through the city by foot, following a less-than carefully planned route to these sugar havens. 3 cupcakes, 2 kinds of pizza, and several cute Christmas markets later, we dubbed the day a huge success. Our route, along with a quick review of all the restaurants we tried is all below.
In order of destination
I’ll admit I was already partial to Crumbs before this trip. I knew their huge, rich cupcakes were to die for. I’m happy to say this trip did not disappoint. There was a sea of cupcakes to choose from – each one looking more decadent than the next. We finally settled on a mammoth-sized peanut-butter cup cupcake to sample. This chocolate cupcake had a light, fluffy peanut butter frosting with mini peanut butter and chocolate chips on top.
And on the inside, peanut butter filling. Heaven.
While this cupcake was more expensive than the other two (by about a dollar), it was definitely much larger in size. And totally worth it.
Seeing as our big plans for the day included consuming mass quantities of sugar, we figured it would be a good idea to get some solid food in our bodies. When it came to choosing what to eat for lunch, we went with the obvious choice: pizza!
We happened to be near Bella Vita, so decided to give it a try. We figured we couldn’t go wrong with Neapolitan Old World style brick oven pizza. The long wait outside told us it must be good.
Our wait ended up being completely worth it. We ordered a pesto & mushroom pizza that was so good, it had non-mushroom eating Becky convinced. So good, that we decided that we had no choice but to cart a box of leftover pizza around the city for 6 hours.
The pizza had flat crust that was still soft, sauce that was slightly sweet, and fresh-tasting pesto that had just the right amount of basil. I loved how the pesto was actually on top of everything else. And while I do love cheesy pizza, I appreciated the balance of cheese and sauce on this one.
Our next stop on the dessert tour of the city was a chocolate lover’s dream: Max Brenner Chocolate. Becky had seen their chocolate pizza featured on The Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate. With a proclamation like that, we knew we had to give it a try. Would it stand up to the cupcakes in a taste test?
The chocolate pizza had a buttery bread crust, with melted milk chocolate “sauce,” white chocolate “cheese,” and was topped with toasted marshmallows. It was quickly determined that we would probably need a cup of coffee to wash all this sugar down.
The verdict: messy, sweet, and delicious! I loved the combination of melted chocolate with roasted marshmallows on top of a delicious crust. But to say this slice was sweet is probably an understatement. Even with our coffee to chase it down, the two of us could not get through one slice.
Despite the fact that we couldn’t actually finish the pizza, I’m glad we tried it. And I’d definitely go back. Max Brenner’s had so much more to offer: brownies, cookies, spiced hot chocolate, and the most amazing fondue spread I’ve ever seen. Thank goodness there is one opening in Boston soon!
Of all the cupcakes that we tried yesterday, I think those from Magnolia are probably the most famous. There are 4 different locations throughout the city. We chose to go to the smallest location because it fit in best with our plan – the one in Grand Central station.
Despite the small size of the shop, there was still a decent selection to choose from. This time, we decided to go with something a little more classic: a yellow cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting.
These cupcakes are quite a bit smaller than the ones from Crumbs. The buttercream frosting was delicious. Fluffy, buttery, and chocolatey, without overloading on the sugar. The cake was not overly sweet either, which provided a nice balance to the buttercream. However, it lacked the filling and overall moistness that made the Crumbs cupcake so wonderful.
The last stop on our Cupcake Tour of NYC was cute little Buttercup Bake Shop.
Inside we were greeted with row upon row of cupcakes and delicious looking cakes. I found myself wishing I could sample one of everything.
For our last cupcake, we decided to go with the German chocolate cake. The piles of coconut in the frosting alone sold us.
This cupcake was very similar in taste and texture to the one from Magnolia, which didn’t come as a surprise once we found out that they’re actually founded by the same person.
Although I could probably have eaten an entire tub of the amazing frosting, I found the actual cupcake to be a bit dry and disappointing. The dryness of the cupcake mixed with the rich frosting did balance each other out, but I like my cake dense and rich…and this just wasn’t.
After a long day of walking, eating, and an awkward photo shoot with our frosting-stained pizza box, the results were in.
The winning cupcake?! Crumbs, by a landslide! Not only did this win for best cupcake, but we declared it to be the best thing we ate all day. Rich, moist, and not overly sweet, this humungous cupcake was a clear winner. Our only regret was that we didn’t bring home extra (yet managed to take back a few slices of smashed pizza and a dirty box. Go figure…)
After being on our feet for hours, walking over 6 miles, and eating 3 different types of cupcakes (plus drinking 3 cups of coffee and little water throughout the whole day – oops), we both were ready to crash. After all, we had a race to run!
If you’re ever in New York City, I highly recommend trying out Crumbs bakery. Or, if cupcakes aren’t your thing, check out Max Brenner’s. The cool atmosphere and wealth of options means there’s got to be something there for everyone!
*Race recap to follow soon!