Friday, May 29, 2009

Carrot Apple Spice Cake and Surfas

A lovely foodie friend mentioned Surfas restaurant supply store to me recently, and even though I missed taking my mom there on Mother's Day, their website had me buzzing with excitement about my delayed visit. Gelatin sheets! Powdered food coloring! Blanched almond powder!

And, as it turned out, these beautifully professional-looking baking papers! I took this opportunity to make the Gourmandise Desserts Carrot Apple Spice Cake that I had been keeping in the back of my mind. It was somebody's fault that the batter overflowed the cake papers, although I'm not sure if it's my fault for overfilling the papers (most likely) or the website's fault for inconsistencies in the printed recipe (it forgets to mention the baking soda in the recipe steps, and 2 T baking powder sounds excessive to me. I'm just saying.).

In the end, after taking one for the team and personally consuming all the overflowed cake batter, I think these cakes turned out nicely - light (baking powder, anyone?), a tad of ginger, moist, orange zest, and a dollop of mascarpone icing and caramelized pecans. It's not a classic carrot cake like my mom's recipe, but I certainly had no complaints. Gourmandise actually touts it as a breakfast-worthy muffin, so she's a versatile lady.

Surfas was most enjoyable; it's a trendy-feeling warehouse store with all the food and equipment stuff you can only find online. No promises that everything's affordable, but it offers high quality goods AND bulk goods for those who so desire. And it's got this cool cement walkway that has imprints of kitchen supplies.

Equally important, Surfas has a Zagat-rated cafe that blew me away with its creative menu. It's not a large menu, but full of seasonally-based fresh flavor combinations. I've been telling everyone I know about this salad - a bed of spring lettuce with thinly sliced strawberries, sautéed leeks, edible flowers, toasted pistachios, ricotta salata cheese shavings, and...chocolate balsamic dressing. It wasn't very sweet for a strawberry salad, and the flavors were brilliantly paired. I guessed that there was chocolate without reading the menu, but it was definitely a subtle flavor. And the ordinary-looking biscuit was a 42 (or was it 72?)-layer buttery biscuit. Fabulous.

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