Tag Archives: waffles

Behind the Scenes: My Sweet Lil Cakes

This is half about a food truck, and half about reviews in general. Deal with it as you will.

A while back I got the chance to review My Sweet Lil Cakes for Crave Local, which was one of the more fascinating reviews I’ve done in some time because I did the whole review inside the food truck.

My Sweet Lil Cakes

And that space is tiny, people. I mean, do you see how small that truck is? I’m just glad I squish into corners easily. It was like being in paleontology lab all over again, barely enough room to move and take photos. Not only is it tiny, but it’s full of ridiculously adorable kitsch inside, from a sweet chandelier to a retro sign with a lady smiling next to the text “Eat them, or I’ll scream.” Yet these lovely, lovely people were asking me to sit there and watch them make waffles.

So there I was, Sheena making these epic waffles, Jesse Lee and I talking about farms, and I’m double-fisting my camera and a waffle. This is the kind of thing I love to do – I want to be where the action is, not waiting at a polite distance.

I mean, look at that batter.

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Look at it.

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I feel like Sheena should put a camera right where I was taking footage and then have a screen on the side of the truck so passerby can see this in action.

Like I said in the review, the waffles are ridiculous. I can’t lie to save my life, even in writing form, and if you want the details go check it out. I think I’m still most impressed by the blueberry lemon ricotta waffle with the Syrup of Awesome (my nickname for it pending approval), but you sadly can’t live on dessert alone.

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I’d actually like to talk a bit more on reviews. Writing a review is, honestly, one of the weirdest things I do. Not that I dislike doing them: the people I’ve worked with on my reviews never fail to amaze me with their sheer talent and charm. But not only are they some of the nicest people ever, I often see them at event after event. And that both makes it really awesome and super tricky, because I always have this fear of meeting lovely people, trying their food, and realizing I have to give constructive criticism. On the spot.

Not that that happened with those waffles. I ate until I was stuffed, and then kept on nibbling because I didn’t feel like sharing. (I regret nothing.)

It’s a really interesting spot to be in – I’m not anonymous, and yet I’m trying to give useful feedback. After eating at all sorts of restaurants my palate is pretty awesome, but I still can’t eat a plain tomato for crying out loud. And let’s not even talk about my issues with cilantro.

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I think what I’m really afraid of isn’t the restaurateurs – it’s people reading these super chirpy reviews and thinking I’m not telling them the truth. Sometimes I feel like I should write a negative review just to say “Look! I don’t like everything!” But you know what? I have rejected stuff, and there’s plenty to improve, as much as I hate to say it, in the Seattle food scene. I just personally want to talk about the food that makes me excited to live in this town.

Like waffles made of awesome.

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Waffles stack, but so don’t work for Jenga.

One of my food dreams growing up was the mystical stack of waffles.

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Let me be more honest: my food dreams normally fall into one of two categories, quantities so large I can hold a party with them, or scaled down versions of traditionally larger food items. I like the first because then I can share it with a ton of people, and the second so I don’t have to share at all.

When it comes to waffles, though, it always was about to the stack. It alternated between waffles and pancakes, but the idea remained the same: 6-8 slabs of carbohydrate glory, crowned and oozing with maple syrup and butter, with a huge bowl of berries on the side looking comparatively dainty. And it would be all for me.

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While I’ve managed to eat a lot, that sounds ridiculous for a single serving. (Maybe I’ll do it for next year’s birthday ‘cake.’) But the dream lives on.

Kiri came over a few days ago, and I had already decided I wanted to see if a waffle stack could work for playing Jenga. I reviewed a waffle stick maker for Crave Local a while back, and have been trying to make waffles more often since it feels silly to only use a new toy once. I mean, it’s a waffle maker.

(We used to have a fairly fancy waffle maker, an All-Clad beauty, but cleaning it was an epic disaster. Whoever designed that beautiful piece of equipment so did not build it for lazy college kids.)

One trip to the co-op for gluten-free pancake mix, as we couldn’t get a hold of Cup4Cup flour, and we had waffles. Or at least, waffle-like objects: the gluten-free part of the mix left a starchy taste that didn’t really work for maximum waffle enjoyment.

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I did try to set up Jenga, and it totally panned out. Sure, the waffles stacked, but not only was there too much friction but the waffles couldn’t stack in threes evenly.

I instead tried a few variations on fire setups, since habits from Girl Scouts die hard, and topped the mess with maple syrup and some apricots. While it wasn’t the stack of my dreams, it was a stack, a decently tall one, and small enough for one large meal as opposed to two or three.

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When I have a few moments again, I’ll make the stack again, maybe in chocolate cake waffle form. The waffle maker’s not going anywhere.

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Can we have a cake CSA?

I got told, rather nicely, by a professor that I need to stop starting ideas, hunker down, and get my thesis in order. Which is totally reasonable, and I actually agree with him, but like a friend said, it’s like asking me to stop breathing.

I am an idea generator. It is both awesome and incredibly distracting – it’s way more fun to imagine cakes than review for exams.

So, while I can’t actively start pursuing things too far, I can still think up ideas and share them. Ideas are best when everyone can learn from them.

So, today, some things I wish existed in Seattle:

A cake CSA. Yes, there are delivery services like Troubadour Baker, but I’m talking about tiered, buttercream or fondant miniature masterpieces, in boxes tied up with ribbons, just because.

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We don’t have enough cakes, especially not for a random pick-me-up. So, once a month, on a day you pick, cake. And seasonal cakes, vegan cakes, gluten free cakes, a mix of retro and fanciful. Cake pops would also work for an added cute factor, but my mind’s on something layered with frosting or jam.

In my ideal world, there would also be delivery and pickup options. Delivery would be lovely, but I think it would be fantastic to have a room all decorated with cakes and people could come and pick up one from a giant table of desserts.

Bonus: local artisan cake/dessert mashups.

Amazing live/work collectives. As I continue my quest to have a blogger commune, the more I think it would be fun to either have a bunch of cottages close together with a common ‘lodge’ or take over a warehouse and have one floor be the office and the rest studios.

However, unless I could convince a bunch of you to move to Bremerton, land of the fallen housing market, we freelancers so can’t afford it. (There are brand spanking new houses selling for $200,000. We could move a whole army of bloggers out there.)

I actually don’t think this is impossible – it’s just something you’d need a lot of backers on in some form, either as a co-op or investors. And people who are willing to wait 6-12+ months while renovations happen. It’s just not an easy sell on Kickstarter, though I would totally give it a shot.

More things involving waffles. I’m testing out a waffle maker for Crave Local right now (commentary to follow), so I spent some of my fevered state making waffles. (There’s only so much you can do with a 99.8 temperature and half your normal alertness.) The first “actual waffle” recipe was a bust, so I made some really awesome cheddar/bacon/scallion waffles – using a pancake recipe. I have yet to screw it up, and it’s a super thick batter, so I was hopeful it would at least not suck, and they’re fairly awesome.

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Savory waffles are a beautiful thing, people. Yes, Seattle’s finally getting all these waffle trucks, but it’s not that hard to use my favorite recipe and make something delicious. I’d tell you the proportions, but honestly I just make some bacon, let it cool, set up the pancake batter, then mix in a ton of grated cheddar, minced bacon, and chopped scallions, then some pepper if I feel like it. If it looks like there’s not enough of something, I add more of it. One of these days I might measure it, but it’s kind of fun to see how bacon-y waffles can get.

Really good buffet restaurants. Outside of Las Vegas and the rare vegan or Indian buffet, these are a rare breed. I love the idea of buffets, of getting tons of tiny bites and trying a billion things I wouldn’t necessarily order as an entree. Please, please can someone make a brunch buffet more expansive than what you get at Portage Bay Cafe? I would live in it.

Also, tiny french toast bites. Please.

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Sweet Iron Waffles – the calm within the storm

When I was younger, I remember walking by myself around downtown Seattle on a really windy day. Being short and delicate, the breeze pushed me around fairly easily; my friends joked I was a kite without a string. I felt some serious nostalgia about those days last week as I tried to stay upright while waiting for the crosswalk light to turn green to walk to Sweet Iron Waffles.

After I passed that first test – and managed to shut the door – it was relatively peaceful inside. The staff were prepping the waffle machines and eating lunch, and as I ordered another guy joined us to eat a waffle and read the newspaper. You could still hear the wind howling outside, but it was slightly drowned out by Modest Mouse. Continue reading »

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Coastal Kitchen – a diner with a following

When I was in middle or high school, my family used to drive over to Coastal Kitchen for brunch as an occasional Sunday treat. My memories heavily focus on three things: that it was always busy, the huge pancakes, and the fake ‘how to learn a language’ tapes they played in the bathroom.
Coastal Kitchen
So when Charles Koh announced a trek over with Google Places, I was excited to see how much had changed and if the breakfasts were still giant. We were there early on a Saturday, so service was fast and friendly even for our large group. When you walk in you’re greeted by their kitchen and bar to your right and seating to the left. If I was visiting by myself, I’d definitely grab a spot at the bar, where the obvious regulars were sitting and chatting with the kitchen staff. This place has a following.The ambiance is diner style, with influences from the Carribbean on the walls and bolts of colorful fabric on the ceiling. You can find Carnaval masks sharing space on the walls with sombreros and small monkey toys. There’s a nice outside seating area, though it was too cold during this venture to take advantage of the space. The diner style heavily influences the food presentation, though, from the tea service with its cute metal teapot and lemon to the no-frills, giant portions with breakfast.
ZeppolesOne of my friends ordered the Pumpkin zeppoles with his meal, so I tried one. The plate came with three dark brown zeppoles, lightly dusted with powdered sugar, each placed on top of a schmear of spiced pumpkin cream. As pretty as it looked, it was disappointing – the exterior was almost burnt, with the insides being heavy instead of creamy. The pumpkin cream was heavy on the cloves and spice mix, with very little pumpkin shining through.
Gingerbread waffleThe portions, though, were as huge as I remembered. I ordered the gingerbread waffles ($6) with a small fruit plate ($4) instead of the eggs and bacon. The waffle was nicely heavy on the ginger, though a bit dense - I found myself wishing it had more airyness (maybe a Belgian variation would rock?). The orange honey compound butter was a nice complement to the waffle, and helped mellow out the flavors. The fruit was fine, though I admit I was weirded out that they were serving strawberries, as their website talks about serving only sustainable seafood, so I thought that belief might extend to their whole menu.
Fresh fruitI did try the spicy hash browns, which were definitely spicy. I wished they made a lighter spiced option for us less inclined towards a heavy hand on the black pepper, but the potatoes had a nice balance of crispy and fluffy. Chris got the ham scramble, which came with hash browns, eggs, and an english muffin. He felt the scramble was underspiced and the hash browns overspiced, and mixing the two together worked out well.As for the bathrooms, the translation tapes are a mp3 series that they call “Potty Humor,” which involves really random English phrases and a translation (e.g., “It was an Apple versus Microsoft thing.”). You can download mp3s from their website if you’re so inclined, and learn more fake things about places from Venice to Chile.

So, Coastal Kitchen matched my memories fairly well. Silly mp3s in the bathroom, huge portions, and a busy, yet friendly, atmosphere. I think this is a great place to bring friends with huge appetites before you hit the town, and I will continue my hunt for the best waffles in Seattle.

429 15th Avenue E
Seattle, WA 98112
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