Part I:

A couple of weekends ago I celebrated a certain Miss Cool’s birthday by heading down to NYC (sans Elroy b/c he had to go to Boston) to party like it's 4705*.

I got there Friday night and on Saturday morning we went to Alice's Tea Cup, a recommendation if

Oh yes, that's a ham and cheese scone
Nutella crepe

you ever go to the

Breakfast
Teapot filled with Sessa tea from Alice's Tea Cup

Upper West Side in Manhattan (although I think they've opened up another one on the East Side).  They have a GREAT tea selection.  Very extensive with all different kinds of tea for all your needs–herbal, black, asian, etc.  And if you like black, hearty English/Indian style teas, I recommend the "Sessa" (which is an Assam).  It was an awesome breakfast tea, in my humble opinion.  In general I give the place an A for ambiance, food and service, but the poached eggs I got were NOT runny, and I have to give them an F.  I'm a total snob when it comes to poached eggs and basically I think that when you cut into a poached egg, it must come pouring out all over the plate, piece of toast, etc.  Here is an example of what I'm talking about (from an attempt at a "full English breakfast" when Elroy was over a couple of weekends ago):

   

Right.  So I am crazy about poached eggs.  But look how yummy (and not salmonella at all) that is!  It's all gooey and mixing with the tomato sauce from the Heinz baked beans.  Droool.  But, getting back to Alice's Tea Cup, I love it, and I would definitely go back there.  I had a Ham and Cheese scone which was amazing and my friends ordered a pumpkin scone fresh from the oven and it was delicious.  The nutella crepes were amazing, but nutella is amazing so that makes sense.  All the dishes don't match, which is really cute and I particularly like the Brown Betty teapots that they use with cute porcelain drip catchers and mixed up lids.  But the food and the tea was fantastic.  After that, we tried to walk off the calories and sugar by attempting to get front row $25 tickets to see Wicked via the lottery that they have.  But really, the gods were not feelin' it and we didn't end up getting them.  So plan B was seeing Babel near Times Square.  It was good, but…I wasn't quite sure what the take home message was supposed to be.  I mean sure, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were amazing, but I felt that their story was a little boring and the other stories were a lot more interesting.  Especially the Japanese girl (even though her face reminded me a little of Sketetor).

After that, we lost a member of our group to other, better things and the three of us met up with a different friend at the Time Warner Center.  We hit up the Whole Foods in there to purchase goodies for the birthday celebratory dinner that we were hosting that night.

Fast forward a couple of hours to par-tay time.  We laughed, we cried, we played Balderdash, we ate awesome food:

Freshly baked Tomato PieTomato PieEating before taking the picture

This, my friends, is Tomato Pie.  I would give you the recipe, but then I would face personal attack from Satan herself and possibly the Spawn of Satan.  A few of my friends have been made privy to the magical workings of tomato, basil and cheese and make up the pie.  They are the lucky and the few…

We started with a butternut squash soup (a personal fav) and then moved onto an artichoke and olive salad with tomato pie and had pumpkin cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting and green tea soy ice cream on the side.  The wine was flowing and we finished the night with a fun game of Balderdash.

It's always so nice to see my friends and eat good food!!

* According to the Chinese Lunar calendar, it is Year 4705.  Aw, yeah.  You go, ancient civilization.

***INTERMISSION***

Part II:

Because of the outrageousness of Gamany's post, I have been on a HUGE cupcake bender.  They just looked so yummy and beautiful!  So here are my attempts at making cupcakes.  The first attempt to quell my cupcake jonesin' was, as you read above, the birthday pumpkin cupcakes.  It was the first time I made pumpkin cupcakes and I would say they turned out pretty well.  Lucky for me, I know a few February birthdays so THEY got cupcakes for their birthdays.  Behold:

Cupcakes!!My favorite cupcakePecan flowers

So these are the same pumpkin cupcakes, with sour cream substituted in for a stick of butter because 2 sticks of butter was kind of grossing me out.  And the frosting on these cupcakes is a mascarpone and honey butter-cream frosting.  It was pretty good.

Birthday CupcakeYay cupcakes!Really "professional" pastry bags

I really just liked decorating them with my makeshift pastry bag (I would die for a real pastry bag. They look so cool!). of fold-over sandwich bags with the corner snipped off.  It helps to have really steady hands.  I practice by dissecting out mouse embryos…oops.  Not appropriate to talk about work in a food blog post!  Okay, moving on. 


Last night a fellow PhD friend (actually, the one who recieved the daisy cupcakes) tried to "dull the pain" of being in graduate school by making VEGAN cupcakes.  I bought her this book for her birthday, because she is into health foods and one of her roommates (also another student) is allergic to eggs.  Now, I'm totally NOT vegan.  I mean, I don't think you've ever met another meat eater quite like me.  The weekend of the English breakfast (above), also included meals of a meat kebab platter from an Afghani restaurant that included beef, chicken, and lamb and a dinner of sushi…so…yeah.  I likes me some meat.  BUT I do appreciate novel cooking techniques and I was really interested in the cooking science behind cupcakes that don't use eggs or milk-based products.  Want to see what that kind of "thinking outside the box" leads to when applied to the kitchen?

 

The fruits of our first ever vegan cupcake making efforts resulted in DREAMY and AMAZINGLY LUXURIOUS and delicious lime and coconut vegan cupcakes.  Now, I actually thought these might end up tasting like…poo.  I mean, honestly, some vegan food is kind of…not good.  I mean, I love tofu, but there is a line people.  And sometimes, vegan food crosses that line.  At least to me, because I usually like the non-vegan version so much better.  I'm sure some of you would agree.  But these are soooo yummy.  I mean, I basically dreamt about them last night and then I woke up reminiscing about their taste and flavor.  I mean, holy crap, they are amazing.  I mean, I'm obviously going to make like 5 dozen more of them so that I can bathe in them.
So special thanks to gamany for planting that cupcake seed in my easily infiltrated brain (at least easily infiltrated by thoughts of good food).  And also check out the root of the amazingness at Cupcake Momma.  Man, I wish I lived in Singapore.  I'll just make up for it by making more vegan cupcakes!

FIN!

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