November 29, 2012

Shane Confectionery & Franklin Fountain

If you live in the Philadelphia area, chances are you've made a visit to Franklin Fountain, the old-fashioned ice cream shop in Old City.  What you may not know is that Ryan and Eric Berley, brothers and owners of Franklin Fountain, purchased and rehabbed a long-time neighborhood candy shop, Shane Confectionery, just two doors down.  While I typically prefer ice cream to candy, we jumped at the chance to tour the candy-making kitchens located directly above Shane.  Thanks to an invite from the super sweet Sara, who writes a beautiful blog and also happens to be a baker and candy-maker for the two shops, we got an inside look at the hand-crafted techniques and old-school appliances.  The Shane website provides a great history of the shop.

Sara took us through the ice-cream room and up the stairs to the main candy-making floor.  She explained that they make everything by hand, and utilize equipment to keep everything as "old-fashioned" as possible.  For example, they still use hand-fused copper kettles and bowls heated over a gas stove that has to be hand-lit- no pilot lights!  They even have a refurbished butter-cream churner that is at least five feet across.

One of Shane's specialities is clear toy candy-  a hard candy made from molten corn syrup and sugar that is carefully hardened in intricate molds that are decades, if not centuries, old.  Shane boasts the largest clear toy candy mold collection in the country, with an entire wall of the kitchen devoted to hand-labeled storage drawers for each mold.  The molds range in size and shape and can make candy ships complete with candy masts and sails and flags to a more simple candy swan or cat.  The options seemed endless.

 However, no candy shop is complete without chocolate, and Shane has an entire "chocolate floor" devoted to hand-dipping chocolates of all varieties.  There are several slow-churning, heated vats of chocolate as well as a dipping table with a heated insert- several people can sit around the dipping table making buttercreams, chocolate covered potato chips, caramels, nuts clusters, and fruits.

Tray after tray of various chocolates were waiting to be packed up or sold in the store below.  Sara let us taste some dark chocolate buttercreams, which really reflected every tedious step of the process.  The buttercream tasted like smooth, dense frosting without a hint of artificial ingredients.  The bitter chocolate coating was the perfect contrast, providing a hard shell around the buttercream.  As they're all hand-dipped, no chocolate looks the same, but the experienced hands of Shane's employees keep the chocolate coating smooth and even.

Although I probably could have sat and eaten chocolate all afternoon, we had made the decision to stop in for some ice cream next door at Franklin Fountain.  On our way out, Sara pointed out the waffle makers used to make Franklin's waffle cones.

She also let us take a peek at the marshmallows she'd been working on- peppermint flavored, no less!

Franklin Fountain is notorious for having a long line out the door- up to a thirty minute wait in my experience, even in cold weather.  However, we got lucky and caught them at a quiet time, giving us plenty of time to stare at the menu and drool over all of the options.  There are tons of ice cream flavors available every day, with a rotating list of seasonal specials.  There are also milkshakes and sundaes and pretty much any combination of sweets you could imagine.

I had my eye on the pies located in a little cabinet near the front of the store.  The peach praline with a lattice top looked particularly delicious.

Like Shane, Franklin Fountain keeps things as old-school as possible, from the employees uniforms (and facial hair!) to the decor to the telephone.  Once we realized that they were using a wall-mounted "hand-crank" telephone, we were tempted to make some calls just to see it in use.

Check out that phone on the far left.
 Since I'd run the Philly half that morning, I figured I could treat myself.  The pie looked amazing, but I knew I needed to try some ice cream too.  Thankfully, Franklin made the choice easy by offering a "hot milkshake"- literally a warmed piece of pie dunked into a milkshake.  Pure food genius.  The peach praline pie was paired with a butter pecan milkshake ($9.50).  And yes, it was even better than it looked (and sounded).  Flaky crust, warm peaches, and a buttery, nutty ice cream bath.  Served in a large metal cup with a paper straw, this was the most amazing post-race treat I can imagine.

A ordered a single scoop of a special flavor, made in collaboration with one of our favorite Philly spots- Federal Donuts.  This ice cream has a chocolate base but includes chunks of cake donuts and plenty of the Israeli appolonia spice used in the donut shop.  The combination of chocolate and spicy donuts was a great balance- neither outshines the other.

We were spending the afternoon with a friend, and she also went the single-scoop route, choosing the seasonal pumpkin flavor.  Like most pumpkin-flavored things, the primary flavors were pumpkin pie spices, with plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.  Scoops of ice cream are served in fancy glass stemware and a "single-scoop" is plenty to share amongst friends.  While we passed around our ice cream (+ pie), we had lots of fun admiring and discussing the old-time decorations and appliances.

Our adventures at Shane and Franklin Fountain felt like a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and certainly, the visit to see the inner-workings of a candy shop surely were (many, many thanks to Sara!).  However, we definitely need to get ourselves back down to Old City more often for some chocolates and ice cream.  It's a great place for a date or to take out-of-towners- so unique and a real delight to visit.

Shane Confectionery
110 Market Street

Franklin Fountain
116 Market Street

November 24, 2012

Pumpkin Pasta with Kale and Pancetta

Happy belated Thanksgiving from sunny Florida!  We've eaten plenty of delicious food over the past several days, but that doesn't keep us from reminiscing about other meals past.  Last weekend, I ran the Philly Half Marathon under A's name- a nagging knee injury kept her from completing any real training- but she was still a wonderful spectator, even inviting me over to partake in our usual pre-race ritual: pasta eating.  This time, we went the easy way by visiting the pasta bar at Whole Foods- fresh pasta is the best way to go.  We came up with a simple mix of ingredients that came together quickly and still seemed extra fancy.

First up: a little sauteed pancetta.  Nothing like some salty, cured pork to provide a flavor base for this dish.  We used four ounces to build a meal for four.

About a third of a very finely chopped purple onion joined the pancetta, gaining a few crispy edges and softening in the middle to dial down the bite.

The small cut of the ingredients made for a quick cooking time- five minutes later we drained the meat and onion onto a paper-towel lined plate.  We decided to add a little green to the mix, tearing some leftover kale into bite-sized pieces and tossing it into the pancetta-oiled pan for a few minutes to wilt.

The pasta was a fresh radiatori sourced from Severino Pasta Company across the river in New Jersey.  A pound was the perfect amount for this dish- and at $3.99/lb, it was a steal!  Other ingredients necessary to finish the pasta: 1/2 a can of pureed pumpkin, an equal amount of full-fat ricotta, and a few grates of fresh nutmeg.

Melt the pumpkin and ricotta down on low heat, adding a few splashes of milk to thin things out a bit.

The ingredients will melt down and form a cream sauce- seasoning the sauce is a good way to distribute flavors throughout the pasta- especially with pasta shapes with lots of crevices like radiatori!  We kept it simple with the nutmeg and a pinch of salt.

Fresh pasta only needs a few minutes in boiling water to cook through.  We added the pasta to the cream sauce immediately after draining.  Add the pancetta/onion mixture and kale as well and mix gently to incorporate everything together.

We also roasted asparagus (extra-skinny, just the way I like it!) and a garlic-rosemary rubbed pork tenderloin.  Truly the perfect pre-race meal, but it was also fun to eat as a "double date" with the guys.

The pasta dish could be amped up for an entree with a can of white beans or cubed chicken breast, and was just the right mix of fall flavors.  Pumpkin this and pumpkin that seems to infiltrate every store and restaurant during the autumn months, but this dish forms a savory alternative, and with heartier flavors from the meat and greens, is just the depth of flavor and comfort we need on a cool night.

November 21, 2012

Reads and Eats: White Jacket Required (Book Review)

Several months before we started our own blog, I was beginning my now-an-everyday-obsession with reading food and healthy living blogs.  One of the first I began reading regularly was entitled Eat, Live, Run, a blog written by a woman named Jenna, who at about my age was finding her ground in the months following college and culinary school.  Although her blog has morphed considerably from that time, from a more lifestyle/fitness blog to a solely recipe-based blog, I've loved following her journey  as she's moved across the country and followed her dreams in food, writing, and yoga.  Her recipes are always beautiful, and while not always 100% original, are typically easy, delicious, and healthy (minus all those cakes and pies she loves to bake!)

It was only fitting that our food-based book club decided to read her newly published book, entitled White Jacket Required: A Culinary Coming-of-Age Story.  

The book is written in a very different style as her blog, detailing her adventures in and out of culinary school in memoir fashion.  Unfortunately, we all thought she should stick with what she is good at-- blogging.  Her book was awkwardly written (some stories that she clearly found amusing weren't so to us readers), she had difficulties connecting her stories and characters, and we all found her inability to "find herself" a bit frustrating.  While the accidental death of her younger brother brings a bit of life (ironically) to her book, the rest of the book was mediocre.  

Similar to other books we've read, each chapter ended with a few recipes (some from her blog, some new).  While some of the recipes looked delicious and fun, they typically had no relationship with the chapter itself, which in turn made it impossible to connect with the recipes.  Not saying I need to have an emotional connection to food, but it makes the recipes more meaningful to the reader- and makes us more likely to reproduce them!

For our meeting, we all chose a recipe (either from the book or the blog) to share potluck style.  J chose the Greek Salad- a classic mixture of artichoke hearts, red onions, kalamata olives, and cucumbers, tossed and mixed with an herby olive-oil based dressing. She added a chopped green pepper to bulk it up a bit. Feta on the side-- we love huge chunks but others aren't as fond of the salty cheese.

We also had a side of roasted root vegetables (an almost embarrassingly simple recipe, although we won't deny we loved them!).  Two of the ladies in our group love to bake, so they each tackled a cookie recipe provided by Jenna.  First up, a super unique recipe (Jenna notes that this is NOT her original!) of Chocolate Zucchini Crinkle Cookies.

Zucchini can enter the dessert realm outside of just bread-- crazy!  Although these had a good amount of shredded squash, you seriously can't taste it at all (and I tested it on my vegetable-o-meter husband).

It was impossible to decide if we preferred the chocolate cookies or the gingerbread cookies- we are slightly obsessed with gingerbread, and these soft, spicy cookies were perfect in every way.  We enjoyed them so much we are planning on making them for our Thanksgiving dessert array this week!

And finally, I produced the main course for our dinner, selecting a recipe from the blog since none of the savory book recipes really appealed to me.  Although Jenna calls these "Crock Pot Beef Carnitas Tacos," they're technically NOT carnitas.  Regardless, it's an amazingly simple and delicious recipe and one that I'm going to definitely file in my mental "make often" recipe file.

You want to know how simple this is?  Purchase a piece of beef.  Slice an onion and two bell peppers (I chose yellow and red).  Place them in your slow cooker with a dash of this and a dash of that from your spice cabinet (chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne-- but you can really use whatever spices you like!).  Cook on low for eight hours.  Done!

No need to pre-brown the meat.  No need to chop carefully.  No need to measure your spices.  While Jenna recommends flank steak, I used a cheaper cut of top (or maybe it was bottom..?) round.  Regardless, you don't even need cooking liquid- the fat from the meat and the liquid from the vegetables is just enough to keep things perfectly moist.  The meat should be falling apart when you return for it, but a simple shred with two forks will make it easier to serve.  I piled a few chunks of meat  on a corn tortilla and added a few slices of avocado, some chopped green onions, and a squeeze of lime for a simple but flavorful main course.

While none of us loved the book, the food turned out fantastic- a bit of a random meal (none of us really coordinated our dishes) but it was really fun to eat such a variety.  It doesn't hurt that we always have such a great time together, too!  And, while I wouldn't recommend spending the money or time on White Jacket Required, I would certainly continue to recommend Eat, Live, Run as a place to find great recipes.

November 18, 2012

Fette Sau

Even though it's not exactly a barbecue destination, Philly actually has a few decent options in that category, including Percy Street and Sweet Lucy's.  Regardless, restaurateur Stephen Starr saw an opportunity to open another BBQ venture, conveniently located next to his popular German beer hall, Frankford Hall.  Essentially an outpost of Brooklyn's Fette Sau, meaning "fat pig" in German, Starr was able to make a copycat BBQ joint with his own special touch, creating a fun and rustic environment to chow down on some serious smoked meats.

The wide-open space is lined on one side with chalkboard menus, cases of food, and a bar- after entering under the neon pink sign, make your way along this side to place your orders.  Trays are assembled with a bit of teamwork by the staff to expedite the line. Next, grab a seat at one of the many booths or picnic tables- located both inside and out.

Before I dug in, I took a minute to admire the "barnyard chic" decor- exposed beams and brick, aged wood bar, tractor seat stools, and lamps crafted from tin cans and chicken wire.  The cement wall next to our table was tastefully decorated with a informative guide to various cuts of meat.  Even the bathroom stalls are made with what seems like scrap OSB.  A little bit over the top, but that's what the Starr empire is good at.

The place was pretty empty on a Thursday evening, so we were able to place our order without a bit of a wait.  We were undoubtedly overambitious with our decisions, but... there are far too many options.  Advice: go with a big group and split as many things as you can.

Meats are served by the pound (a quarter pound is still plenty to share) and sides in a small or large version. Between the two of us, we ended up conquering six types of meat, four sides, and two desserts.  Rolls were thrown in for free.

In no particular order: the first two sides were potato salad ($3.50/small) and coleslaw ($3.25/small)- two backyard BBQ classics.  Fingerling potatoes were kept whole and tossed with a light coating of a vinegar and Dijon based dressing as well as a bit of chopped parsley and chives- definitely a German-style potato salad, but nothing exciting.  The coleslaw on the other hand, was a big hit.  Purple cabbage and shaved carrots had lots of crunch and an acidic, almost pickled flavor profile.  A bright (and beautiful!) slaw.

BBQ is notoriously difficult to photograph, so bear with me on these pictures. Pulled pork ($8/half pound) is another classic- I typically use it as a measuring stick by which to judge a BBQ joint.  However, Fette Sau's was definitely on the bland side, some nice burnt edges but it needed additional sauce to really make it worth eating.  Additionally, it was definitely on the colder side of lukewarm, an issue we had with almost all of our meats.  Obviously this pork isn't coming straight out of the smoker, but I like my BBQ served hot.  The black Angus brisket ($4.25/quarter pound) was relatively lean, but with a decent salty, smoky infusion of flavor.

Pulled pork, brisket, 1/2 chicken in the back
Luck was on my side- my tray of goodies was full of items that ended up being much more exciting.  On a whim, I ordered the flank steak (not a typical BBQ item?) and also snagged the pork belly- both of which ended up being fantastic.

However, the tub of "burnt end" baked beans ($4.50/small) called my attention first- a sweet and spicy conglomeration of beans and slow cooked shreds of beef that provided a really robust, meaty flavor to a sauce perfectly balanced with a hint of molasses.

About that flank steak ($9/half pound): a perfect medium pink (the only meat actually served hot, too!), peppered edges, juicy and tender- I'd like an 8 oz cut of this please.  Definitely worth a return visit for this sleeper hit.

A half pound of the pork belly ($9) also proved to be a generous portion with layers of crispy edges, melt-in-your-mouth fat, and perfectly cooked pork.  Don't let this get cold- the fat will actually congeal- but squares of belly served up on a potato roll with a dab of beans makes a fantastic sandwich.

The Nicolosi hot Italian sausage ($8) finalized the meat-fest- spicy and snappy, this guy could definitely hold his own amongst the South Philly competition.  Again, a bit of a surprise on a BBQ menu, but I think it helps round out the menu.  The original Fette Sau has a lengthy list of meat options- from Cornish hen to duck breast to pig's tails- can we hope for a menu expansion in the future?

The last side was the broccoli salad ($3/small)- I'd read that it was "boring", but I definitely needed a dose of something green on my tray.  Stems and stalks are blanched and then lightly pickled in a red pepper and vinegar sauce- again, plenty of crunch but a little too much acidity.  Oddly, this acidity helped cut the salty smokiness of the meat, so I appreciated that aspect of the salad.  Wait.. this isn't a "salad" at all- it's just broccoli!

I hear another good way to balance all that meat is to eat dessert.  The peanut butter cookie ($1.50) was a good inch and a half tall, studded with peanut butter chips and a subtle sweetness.  A chewy, sweet-and-salty option that pairs well with BBQ.

However, the bacon brownie ($3) was much more exciting. Thick, fudgy, and full of caramelized bacon- a true indulgence.  Chopped walnuts gave it a third dimension of flavor and a bit of crunch that really made this an outstanding dessert.  Warning: this is the definition of "rich." Plan on sharing and/or revisiting this the next day.

Speaking of revisiting, we had plenty of food leftover to take home.  We flagged down a staff member and he brought us a lid for the beans and sheets of foil to wrap up the meats, as well as a plastic bag to pack everything up.  I wasn't too pleased by the "I Love NY" label on the bag (I don't really looove NY)- perhaps the Brooklyn version had some sort of plastic bag excess.

Fette Sau definitely had some hits-and-misses, which was a surprise to me since the chef has so much experience and success in the BBQ realm.  However, there are certainly enough things to bring me back, perhaps in the spring when we can actually enjoy the outdoor space that Starr so carefully crafted.

1208 Frankford Ave

November 15, 2012


I have been wanting to get to George Sabatino's East Passyunk restaurant for months now.  You know what makes it the worst?  His Twitter feed with pictures detailing new dishes and specials.  Every time I see one, a small part of me dies, since I know I won't be eating it.  Drama aside, I was more than excited to finally check it out.  The recent addition of reservations also helps, as tables can fill up quickly.

Located in a great corner spot on Passyunk (super accessible by the Broad Street subway line), the long room is split into a bar area and a small dining room filled mostly with two-tops.  Though we started dinner in a relatively quiet space, by the time we left late on a Saturday evening, it was slammed- the bar was completely packed, three and four deep.  If you're looking for a quiet, romantic spot, this might not be your best bet.

However, if you're looking for a menu full of small plates that each sound better than the last, you've found your haven.  The devotion to cheese, charcuterie, and pickles reminds me of a more food-focused Village Whiskey- but at half the price.  We started our meal off with two types of pickles: the cucumbers and the carrots ($4 each).

Pickled cucumbers?  That's just.. regular pickles.  But these housemade cukes had so much more flavor than dills in a jar (not that I don't love those.. I do!).  Soaked in a brine with a good dose of olive oil, fresh herbs, and mustard seeds, these had a little kick to them, and maintained an exterior crunch.  My mouth is watering as I write this.  The carrots were a bit less exciting, although their description of cilantro and dried jalapeno certainly sounded mind-blowing.  Instead, they had a subtle Asian flavor profile, and were topped with toasted black sesame seeds.  The thing that bothered me most was how crunchy they were.. they needed another few days in brine to reach a state of pickled bliss.  My dining mate disagreed, so perhaps this crunchiness was intended.

Post-pickles, we each selected a couple dishes to share.  My first selection was the Steak Tartare ($11).  Although Sabatino focuses on classic American styles of food preparation, he still manages to add a flair to each dish.  The minced raw beef contained the typical capers and raw egg yolk, but had a distinct mustard flavor that really jived with the beef.  The quail egg seemed rather chicken-y to me, but I'll never say no to egg yolk running over my dinner.  A sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts and a light splash of truffle oil sound like confounding ingredients, but really brought each bite to life in both flavor and texture.  If I say "Eat This Immediately" after each dish, will it lose its meaning?

The Crispy Pork Belly came next on our list of meats-we-need-to-eat ($11).  The deep dish provided two chunks of falling-off-the-non-existent-bone belly that were just right for sharing.  The maple-chili glaze was distinct on the top layer of crisped skin, but its presence beneath the meat in a saucy pool was hardly noticeable.  The fried strips of.. parsnip? were a fun addition, but not easy to eat in combination with the meat.  But.. it's perfectly prepared pork belly.  Eat. This. Immediately.

My second choice veered us in a slightly healthier, fresher direction with the Squash Flan ($8).  I wasn't quite sure what to expect, especially since I'm not a huge fan of the classic Mexican dessert (so, yeah, what was I thinking?).  But, of course, Sabatino has some sort of magic touch and produced a perfectly smooth, buttery, pumpkin-esque "flan" of which I would have no problem consuming an entire bowl.  The chopped vegetable salad served with it gave it an additional fall touch while keeping it light.  Yeah.. eat this too.

And now after that schedule interruption, back to the meat.  I don't have a lot of experience with beef cheeks, but after this rendition, I might have to seek them out again- Stateside's Beer Braised version was a whole Thanksgiving array of comfort crammed into a single small plate ($13).  The braising process gives the meat a slow-cooked shortrib texture, while somehow maintaining a crisped exterior that holds each bite together before it melts in your mouth.

Our final savory dish of the night was yet another how-did-he-do-that winner.  Sure, croquettes are a no-fail, right?  Everyone loves anything coated in bread crumbs and fried in a little pocket.  These Parmesan Croquettes weren't quite so simple ($10).  A very delicate shell held just the slightest bit of oil, creating a weightless bite.  The interior produced creamy, melted cheese, like the adult version of a mozzeralla stick.  I never think of Parmesan in a creamy context, so I was extra impressed.  The braised escarole salad was like a second "dish within a dish"- earthy, but bright with a balsamic glaze and a bit of lemon.  Even better? A bite of both together.

At this point I was comfortably full- the portions on the small plates are great for sharing, giving you just enough to fully enjoy each combination of flavor while leaving you prepared for the next delivery of food to the table.  However, Stateside has received consistently good press on it's dessert front. This course leads you out of the hands of Sabatino into the capable hands of Robert Toland (recently given a great shout out by Drew Lazor at CityEats).  While he has become well known for his takes on s'mores and PB&J, we went for something with a little more classic American flavors (wait.. that might not be possible..).

The Caramelized Apple and Pear Pie was not something I expected to enjoy as much as I did- but I think the amazing presentation might have had something to do with it ($7).  Our own tiny little pie shell!  With perfectly baked, sugar-crusted pie cookie top!  Of course, the warm, softened fruit in it's bath of caramel didn't hurt.

At the end of the meal, we realized we hadn't had an off dish- not even ONE that didn't excite, impress, and satisfy us.  When was the last time you had a meal like that, and were out for under $50 a person? It's hard to do, but Stateside does it without a sweat.  And, while I've continuously told you to order all the same dishes we did, I have no doubt that the rest of the menu is executed just as flawlessly.  Stateside officially has my seal of approval, and would be my absolute first recommendation for someone dining in South Philly.

1536 East Passyunk Ave (corner of Passyunk and Cross Streets)

November 12, 2012

The Wedding Cake: Brown Betty Dessert Boutique

It's time for wedding food post #2! (Check out the rehearsal dinner here.)  This report took a bit longer, as I was waiting for the professional pictures from my super awesome photographer (hi, Amanda!) for full effect.

So this is actually the story of the wedding cake that almost wasn't.  I am against tradition-for-traditions-sake, and so therefore we didn't partake in many of today's common wedding rituals.  We debated a number of alternatives to the wedding cake (baking many mini-desserts for a dessert buffet, Rita's Water Ice, or s'mores-- which we ended up doing in addition to the cake), but in the end my husband-to-be requested we have a cake (and since I made the other 99% of decisions, I figured it would only be fair to grant him his wish!).  The generous offer from my grandmother to help us with the bill sealed the deal.

Who needs cake when you could have this?    Source
We tasted at two places, Sweet Jazmine's in Berwyn and Brown Betty Dessert Boutique in Northern Liberties.  Note to future brides: tasting at two bakeries in one day AND registering at two stores in that same day is not the smartest idea.  Sugar and stress overload.  While we loved the staff and flavors at Sweet Jazmine's, I had my stomach heart set on Brown Betty from the start.  The bakery had a small outpost just down the street soon after we moved to Center City, and their moist, dense cupcakes with thick, sweet frosting were some of our go-to treats during that time.

Just try to resist...    Source
Unfortunately, our experience with the staff at Brown Betty was always touch-and-go, and during the months between our tasting and the wedding, I at times wondered if we would actually have a wedding cake at all.  There was constant turnover of staff, including at the baker/decorator and manager positions, leaving me always wondering who I needed to be speaking with and when (I had to reach out to THEM to confirm the details).  Second note to future brides: when you pay the deposit, sign a contract.  We were told just weeks before our wedding we would have to pay an additional $100 delivery fee, but thankfully we were able to work things out.

While Brown Betty certainly isn't cheap (we paid about $6 per serving for a very simple design), they do allow you to choose among all of their popular flavors, and let us pick three different flavors for a three-tiered cake.  It wasn't easy, but we eventually decided on strawberry, coconut, and red velvet (I told you tradition isn't my thing!).

I wanted to keep things simple on the decoration front, since our wedding was a fairly casual affair.  No fondant, no flowers, and no crazy designs- just cream cheese buttercream frosting, and a simple ribbon and fondant dot border.  We were asked to provide our own ribbon-- something I was fine with doing (it's not that expensive!) but was a little surprised to have to do.

Swoon Over It Photography
The "fondant buttons" were instead piped with buttercream frosting, creating a bit of a non-uniform (can I say sloppy?) look.  Thankfully, I was way more concerned about the way it tasted than the way it looked, but for the price, it was a little disappointing.

Two non-food related comments that I must make: 1) our cake toppers were made by my very talented husband (pandas are "our" animal), and 2) our serving utensils were provided by my parents- the same set they used in their own wedding over 30 years ago.  Both of these made the cake so much more meaningful and personal to me (wedding portraits from family members surrounding the cake also helped!).

Swoon Over It Photography
To cut, we had to remove part of the ribbon on the bottom tier (thankfully our photographer avoided this awkward part of the process) and with last minute advice from my dad, we fed each other with no cake-to-the-face mess.  The bottom tier was our favorite flavor, and one we felt might be most popular- strawberry.  I wouldn't typically think to pair strawberry with cream cheese frosting, but Brown Betty's cream cheese buttercream is just that- a good mixture of both icing's textures and flavors. 

Swoon Over It Photography
Our caterers took care of cutting the slices, intermixing the three different flavors for people to choose.  The red velvet was fudgy, it was so dense and chocolate-y-- if anyone was looking for a light, fluffy cake, they wouldn't find it here!  Thankfully, we only heard rave reviews- although I doubt any guests would complain to the bride if they hated her cake :)

Swoon Over It Photography
The coconut was the top tier, providing the fewest slices-- we didn't intend to save any cake for our one year anniversary (hopefully Brown Betty will still be going strong so we can purchase a small cake to celebrate!).  For this flavor, the cake itself is actually a plain white vanilla, but the frosting between the two layers is chock full of sweetened coconut- just enough to provide flavor and texture, but not too overwhelming.  I will also say that the bit of leftover cake we did have, once stored in the fridge/freezer, had an even better flavor and texture!

Swoon Over It Photography
If I had to do it again, I would still choose Brown Betty to bake our cake, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend them to other brides- their service and design didn't meet my expectations.  Overall, while we sometimes struggled with the cake process during our wedding planning phase, we ended up with exactly what we wanted- delicious cake, fun flavors, a simple design, and special-to-us touches.

Swoon Over It Photography
Brown Betty Dessert Boutique
722 N. 2nd Street