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Sunday, July 20, 2008

.: Chasing Charm City Bakeries :.

when big k came to visit Charm City this weekend, she and i decided to add inches to our hips by going bakery crawling. it spanned 3 hours and we were exhausted by the time we left the last cake spot. furthermore, the idea of the sugar makes me ill still.

i was inspired when i read Sunday Nite Dinner's San Francisco Cupcake Tasting Tour. i mean, baltimore is vast and irregardless of what people say, it's friggin awesome with it's boutiques, down to earth bars and kick ass people. not to mention, it's close enough to DC but still far enough away to retain its charm and not be tainted by politics. and for me, too far and scary for pham-ily to just stop by unannounced. face.

anyway, i came up with a list of four bakeries for big k and i to check out. initially, we were going to just sample cookies and compare them. but then it turned more into a which bakery is best, in decor, selection, customer service etc.

Piedigrotta - first stop just on the outskirts of Little Italy. LOVED it. the waiter was charming and tres attentive. however, the baker (and i'm thinking, the owner) was the best advocate for the shop. he gave us a tour of his kitchen. he was slicing the cheesecake into HUGE individual portions. we sampled the cake and hmmm... so silky smooth, creamy and moist. he gave big k pointers on how to bake cheesecake properly. sometimes, an ugly crack appears in the middle of the damned thing. it happens. but not to him. we barely understood him but damned if he wasn't flirting with us! we sampled the tiramisu. big k finished hers, i had maybe a few bites. i thought there was entirely too much cream and not enough cake to the tiramisu. it's just me tho. the shop was spacious and had quite a variety of baked goods to choose from: biscotti, pizza, bread, pastries and coffees.

Patisseri Poupon - we next went fran├žaise. however, i fear Piedigrotta spoiled us with their hospitality because i HATED Patisseri Poupon. they only had two tables, one of which was being overrun by 3 women tasting wedding cakes. i guess the shop manager's attention (and manners) were on them. the cashier was not too friendly or helpful. the pastry selection was aesthetically pretty but i would say i thought they were appetizing. we shared a croissant which was moist without being greasy.

Meli - while out Friday night, we came upon Meli: Patisserie & Bistro. we figured we'd add it to the list. we arrived around 11am and we were so ready for something savory! the restaurant is spacious, transitioning from bakery, to bar to dining room. service was spotty, i had to get up to find the waitress. the quiche was delish tho. friggin amazing. the croissant was alright, buttery and sweet. i can't recall the pastry selection but i can tell you for sure that the bar was well stocked.

Cake Love - last stop. by the time we rolled into Cake Love, i was gagging. we decided on cupcakes ... but to go. the store is new, you can tell. everything is still clean and barely used. there wasn't a huge selection to choose from. we choose raspberry icing on vanilla and peanut butter on vanilla. i didn't taste any but i did try the icing, which was superb.

all in all, we were on the chase for 3 hours and hit 4 bakeries. and there are PLENTY of spots still for us to check out for next time she comes to visit. it's tiring tho! it's an enjoyable experience, not so organized in exactly alll the things we were going to rank etc but still quite fun. all those places and all other places we'll eventually hit should take note of what i said about Piedigrotta. i heart that place.

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