When the bakers at Cake Bakeshop decide what creation to craft each day, they usually use one important criterion: are the ingredients for this recipe in season? If the answer is yes, then they add it to their roster of small-batch bakery items for that day. This means that their ovens can be cooking anything from fruit tarts in the summer months to pumpkin-spice blondies in the fall. During the cool winter months, they rely upon the interplay of nonfruit flavors such as their ginger-molasses cookies and brown-butter rice-krispies treats. No matter what the season, however, they create traditional three-tier cakes?including german chocolate and the slightly sweet-and-sour margarita?topped with edible decorations and swirls of buttercream for customer celebrations.
Six months prior to Nothing Bundt Cakes' grand opening in 1997, best friends Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz toiled away in the kitchen in order to perfect a bundt-cake recipe that would lavish palates with flavors reminiscent of homestyle treats of days past. Within today's bustling bakery, cake crafters mingle high-quality ingredients, such as fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese sourced from spelling-bee-champion cows, to whip up such flavors as chocolate chip, pecan praline, and white-chocolate raspberry. Sweet scents waft from the shop’s ovens as customers select their frosting-flecked dessert from sizes ranging from towering tier cakes to individual Bundtlets, a size ideal for the solo snacker.
A shared love of beach volleyball led the two owners of Marine Street Cafe to move to Manhattan Beach, famed for its surfers and beach-volleyball players. The area’s history has continued to inspire the ownership duo—they have named some of their sandwiches after athletes who regularly visit the café. In their sandwiches—and the rest of the items on the menu—the team uses natural and organic ingredients to craft a wide range of dishes that draw from international cuisines. Many of the sandwiches feature a housemade aioli; that includes the Cooker, a banh mi sandwich that features grilled free-range chicken, pickled carrots, and sriracha. For breakfast, a housemade vanilla whipped cream tops dishes such as the belgian waffle and ricotta pancakes.
Cupcakes Couture's squad of chefs, led by owner Jenine Cravatt, plucks fresh, high-end ingredients from local sources to prepare eye- and tongue-astounding cupcakes every morning. Topping the menu are gargantuan Couture Cupcakes such as the succulent Sunday Mimosa, a champagne cupcake lovingly injected with orange-curd filling and accented with citrus frosting, orange caviar, and the soaring anthem of a local marching band with oranges stuck in their horns. Less intimidating yet still stimulating are the 19 designer cupcakes. Little Miss Shortcake ($4) caps its strawberry cake and homemade strawberry preserves with vanilla-bean frosting and a pink French macaroon beret. Caffeine hounds sniff out the Jeweled Java (espresso-infused frosting resting on a moist hillock of flavorful chocolate mocha cake, $4) and hunt it down until it climbs a 12-ounce cup of Lavazza coffee ($1.50). Cupcakes Couture also offers bikini cupcakes, which have less than 100 calories.
At Bonaventura Gelato Lounge, Alessandro Bonaventura uses his experience from Bologna, Italy's Gelato University to craft aesthetically pleasing treats for his young and young-at-heart customers. Each day, he and his wife, Stephanie, handcraft gelato from all-natural ingredients?imported from Italy or sourced locally?and arrange scoops into the shape of caterpillars or whales. Instead being lumped into a bowl, sundaes are placed in souvenir pirate ships or vintage cars to be played with after the last spoonful is gone. For toddlers, staff will dole out miniature servings so they get their own little cup rather than sharing.
So-called adults are also charmed by the duo's icy creations, whether it's plain silky-smooth gelato (also available in fat-free, gluten-free and dairy-free versions) or a more elaborate creation. A German gelato treat called spaghetti eis, for example, convincingly mimics pasta with vanilla gelato noodles, housemade strawberry sauce, and white-chocolate sprinkles. For a new take on the ice-cream sandwich, the GelaDough encases scoops between donuts or sweet brioche buns. Another trompe l'oeil confection is the pizza gelato, specifically made with gelato and fruit for Ninja Turtles with a sweet tooth.