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My brush with “Cupcake Wars” fame. January 24, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I love cooking, and I love spending quality time reading cookbooks and cooking magazines and watching cooking competitions on TV (when I’m lucky enough to see them). Because we don’t get cable channels here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and I share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA, I typically only have access to cooking competition shows when OFB and I are traveling (not exactly a common occurence) and staying in hotels. Which means that what I’m able to see on the Food Network is pretty much limited to which night I’m in a hotel.

So far, I’ve seen a number of episodes of “Chopped” (my favorite), “Iron Chef America” (go Morimoto go, you’re my food-presentation god), and “Restaurant Impossible,” with a little Guy Fieri and Bobby Flay thrown in for good measure. But I’ve never seen “Cupcake Wars.”

This doesn’t mean I’m unaware of “Cupcake Wars,” though. An article in VegNews magazine spotlighted a vegan baker, Chloe Coscarelli, who’d actually won the cupcake wars. As a vegetarian myself, this stuck in my mind. Vegan cupcakes?! Visions of tofu for moistness and tapioca for binding came to mind. For a vegan to win must mean her cupcakes are really something. (And in fact, as I subsequently discovered, there have been at least three vegan bakers who have won the “Cupcake Wars.” Yow.)

But it wasn’t vegan cupcakes that brought me my brush with “Cupcake Wars” fame. Instead, it was a trip to Reading, PA with my friend Amy to celebrate her birthday. She wanted to go to a street full of quirky shops and restaurants in West Reading and spend the day poking around. We started with lunch at Aladdin, a wonderful, award-winning Lebanese restaurant. This cheered me up no end: Yum!!! What a great way to start any day, with baba ghannouj, olive salad, falafel, and etc. (I had plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunch, too.)

We continued our peregrinations after lunch, visiting many one-of-a-kind shops and a used bookstore (the yarn store was closed, drat). And then Amy said that she wanted me to see a cupcake shop that had especially amazing cupcakes.

Uh, cupcakes? Well, okay, it was her birthday, and I was game. We walked down to a little store with an “Ady Cakes” sign out front. Amy kept pronouncing what to me was obviously “A-dy” as “addy,” but her hearing’s not the best, so I made allowances. (Eventually, it dawned on me that the name was a play on “paddy cakes,” and that Amy’s pronunciation was correct.)

Then I saw the sign out front: Ady of Ady Cakes had won the Cupcake Wars! OMG. I remembered her from reading about the show. I was going into the shop of someone who was a Food Network winner!

The shop itself was small, simple, and unpretentious. One wall was given to a case of elaborate wedding cakes, obviously models to inspire people to choose or create their own. The modest front counter housed a case of fresh-baked cupcakes. I was impressed by the intelligence behind the setup: Every cupcake was made to the same pattern, a cupcake topped with a generous swirl of icing. Using the same design for all the cupcakes would make it possible for Ady to make every cupcake, every single day, for her customers. A more elaborate setup would have meant that she’d need a whole lot of help to create the same number of cupcakes.

The cupcakes themselves didn’t look that stunning: They were cupcakes, for chrissakes, with some icing on top. But the flavors of those cupcakes were inspired, beyond heavenly. I was awed by the combinations of cake, filling, and topping flavors the cupcakes featured, from a Mimosa cupcake to Dulce de Leche, Pink Champagne, Red Velvet, Coconut Key Lime, Pistachio Cardamom, Cranberry Orange, and Pomegranate Ginger (ooh la la!). I’d have been happy to order one of each.

Given my post-holiday waistline, however, I wasn’t about to go for dessert of any kind, be it baklava at Aladdin or a luscious cupcake from Ady Cakes. Amy finally settled on a coconut cupcake as a treat for her father. We were preparing to leave. And then, it happened: Ady herself, Ady Abreu, walked into the store. “Hello!” I said cheerfully. “Hello,” she responded. OMG!!! I’d actually seen and spoken to the creator of Ady Cakes, the “Cupcake Wars” winner, who presumably is normally hidden like the Wizard of Oz behind a curtain in the back of the store baking while her amiable frontman handles the orders.

I was stunned. It’s not likely that I’ll be rubbing shoulders anytime soon with the likes of Tony Bourdain or Mario Batali or Masaharu Morimoto. It would never have occurred to me that I’d ever have rubbed shoulders with anyone who’d ever appeared on a cooking show. Yowie kazowie, what a thrill/shock!

But you can do it, too, if you live within driving distance of Reading. Ady Cakes is located at 631 Penn Avenue, West Reading PA 19611. Check out her website at http://www.adycakes.com/. I say, go for it! You too can meet a Food Network celebrity and enjoy some of her amazing creations (and hey, they’re not even expensive)!

‘Til next time,

Silence

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