Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hotcakes Bakes

I swear, I didn't eat cupcakes all day yesterday. The last post and this post were on different occasions! haha. So yesterday we were driving around Culver City and came across this adorable bakery: Hotcakes Bakes, I just had to stop in.

I am a sucker for sweets and cupcakes... The bakery was so cute and they had a nice selection of cupcakes. I just couldn't decide which one I wanted so hubby and I got a box of a few mini cupcakes.
At $3 each for a regular size cupcake and $1.50 for a mini cupcake, these are more affordable than most cupcakeries. We got a mini Oreo cookie cupcake, carrot cupcake, red velvet cupcake, and coconut cupcake. (Coconut cupcakes are hubby's favorite) The Oreo cupcake was the best one in my opinion. Although cute, I have to say Hotcakes isn't my favorite cupcake. The cake wasn't as moist and the frosting was super sweet with a funny aftertaste...
HOTCAKES BAKES
4119 South Centinela Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
Tel: (310)397-2324

Crumbs Bake Shop

I've officially moved back to LA this week! Goodbye OC~! One thing LA is not lacking, the plethora of cupcake shops! Just a few blocks away from our place is Sprinkles, and the Crumbs bake shop. I've always wanted to try this place but I was always drawn in by Sprinkles which is only a few steps away from Crumbs.

The line at Sprinkles was too long so I decided to finally go for Crumbs. We got a red velvet cupcake and a coconut cupcake. The cupcakes at Crumbs were HUGE! They are almost double the size at sprinkles and at just about the same price of $3.75.
They have a really good variety of flavors to choose from. If you want to try all of the flavors, you can get a mini-cupcake sampler that has a bunch of little cupcakes for $18.

The unique thing about this bakery is that all of the cupcakes have a center filling. The cupcakes were pretty good, especially the coconut cupcake, but hubby and I both agree that the cupcakes are not as moist as Sprinkles and that Sprinkles wins this competition. These cupcakes were very generous with their frosting, but the frosting is not as overwhelmingly sweet as most other cupcakes. If you're a cupcake fan, definitely try it out!
CRUMBS BAKE SHOP
9465 Little Santa Monica Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90291
Tel: (310) 550-9811

Monday, June 15, 2009

Carnival!!!

So~ my post about the Carnival in Rio is looong overdue. Here it is!

Hubby and I actually got seats to watch the festivities at the Sambodromo and it was an unforgettable experience! The costumes, the music, the energy, it was all amazing!
Now I can say that I went to the biggest and awesomest party on earth!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cachaça

Since I'm on a roll blogging about the various beverages I had in Brazil (& I had a request) I'm going to dedicate this blog to Cachaça. Cachaça is hard alcohol, a distilled fermented cane juice to be exact. The alcohol strength can be anywhere from 38% to 80% by volume. This stuff will get you wasted! And it's the most popular alcohol in Brazil.Hubby and I visited a small mill that produces artesanal cachaças during our stay in Paraty. Traditionally, the fermentation agent is a maize flour and the distillation unit is a copper pot still, like this one we saw at the mill. There were so many different flavors to choose from but we picked a bottle of passion fruit flavored cachaça to bring home with us.Cachaça is used to make the most famous Brazilian cocktail, the caipirinha! And boy, did we have plenty during the Carnival in February.

Caipirinha Recipe

Ingredients
1 lime
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup Cachaça
ice
Directions
1. Cut the lime into wedges.
2. Put lime and sugar in a tall glass and smash with a pestle.
3. Add the same amount of liquor & lime juice and stir.
4. Add ice and stir again.
5. Get Drunk.
To be honest, I don't think I want to drink another Caipirinha again. Don't get me wrong Caipirinhas are really good! But I overloaded in Brazil during Carnival time. The smell of sugar and lime now brings on a gag reflex... haha.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bahia!

Salvador is one of the most fascinating places that I visited during our trip to Brazil. Bahia's capital is the city of Salvador and is located at the junction of the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of All Saints. There is a lot of fascinating age and history to this city. Until slavery ended officially in 1888, it's estimated that more than 4 million slaves were brought to Brazil from Africa, and the port of Salvador was the major center of the slave trade. Because of the history, many people of African decent still live in Salvador and there is a lot of African influence in this city. The oldest part of town is called "Pelourinho." The city is quaint, lively and colorful with pastel colored houses lining the narrow cobble-stoned streets and wide open squares.The people of Salvador are also colorful and lively. While walking up and down the streets I spotted African Brazilian women wearing bright dresses with belled skirts and colorful head scarves.
Many stands near the bay sell freshly fried acaraje, a native sandwich that's like a huge "hush puppy" stuffed with votapa and shrimp. mmmmmm... stuffed fried goodness. Nothing like Brazilian heartburn!
We visited a really neat church in Salvador, Nosso Senhor do Bonfim. This church plays a very important role in the Candomblé (African) religion and is dedicated to Oxalá, one of the highest deities. The 18th century church is relatively plain but the gates are adorned with thousands and thousands of fitas, or colorful ribbons. The billowing ribbons were absolutely beautiful.
Senhor do Bonfim is unarguably Salvador's most famous church and has a reputation for granting miracles. Hubby and I bought ribbons to tie around our wrists and ankles for good luck. Legend says that you can make three wishes that will come true by the time it falls off. We've been wearing these ribbons for over 3 months and they still haven't broken off, but you have to let it fall off from natural wear and tear. Cutting it off is said to bring bad luck. I wonder when my wish will come true?
There was a small room in the back of the church and at first I was creeped out to see all of the human body casts hanging from the walls and ceilings... but it was called "the Room of Miracles". There were literally hundreds of hanging body parts, models made of wood, plastic, wax, and even gold! People actually make casts of their body parts that need healing. Very cool.

For those of you who plan on visiting the church, here are directions! :)

Nosso Senhor do Bonfim

Largo do Bonfim
Located about 5 miles north of Pelourinho on the Bonfim Peninsula
FREE admission
Phone: 071/3312-0196

água de coco

All over Brazil, you will find stands or just simply people on the street with shopping carts selling "água de coco" or coconut water.

A Brazilian lady we met in Salvador told us that "água de coco is Brazilian Red Bull!" It hydrates your body on a hot Brazilian summer day and is full of electrolytes. It's a natural isotonic beverage with the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood. Super healthy and super yummy.
You will find água de coco everywhere in Brazil. They even offer it as a drink choice at McDonalds! How awesome is that?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Guarana

Guarana. I first discovered this fresh drink on my flight to Japan via Varig (Brazilian) airline when I was a school kid. Everyone on the flight seemed to be drinking from this Christmas colored can, so I asked the flight attendant for one too. I've been hooked ever since. Except it's kind of hard to find in the states.
Probably the most popular drink after Coca Cola is Guarana Antarctica. It kind of tastes like an extra-sweet Ginger Ale. So what exactly is Guarana? I had no idea... but I had a chance to try it in it's pure form during my visit to the Amazon. I tried the "100% pure Guarana" drink which looked and tasted nothing like the Guarana soda. It tasted like a peanut butter protein shake since the guarana powder is traditionally blended with peanuts.
Guarana is actually a shrub native to the Amazon rain forest. It grows small, berry-like red fruit that contain black seeds. Guarana gives you a caffeine kick, and it's also popular as a fat-burning or weight-loss supplement.Guarana drinks and sodas are very popular in Brazil. In the Amazon I tried this dark Guarana soda called Bare and it's now my favorite~!

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