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San Francisco is for Nom Nom Nom

I'd been pretty convinced of New York's status as the finest food city in the States, but a few experiences last weekend have shaken that conviction a bit.

Out in San Francisco, I spent a fast-paced, food-focused weekend hosted by Foodbuzz, an online community of bloggers and food lovers.

Most of the activity was based around the Ferry Building, which is like a gastronomic Disneyland, especially on Saturdays when the farmers' market takes place there.

Mission Minis Cupcakes

So... what exactly does one do at a food blogging fest? I'd asked myself the same thing.

Apparently, you eat. A lot.

Appetizer

Foodbuzz set up a number of truly tasty events, from a gathering of top street food vendors (even now my mouth waters at the thought of the divine porchetta sandwich from Roli Roti) to talks and tastings by food producers (such as Sue Conley, a founder of Cowgirl Creamery) to a delicious closing-night dinner set up in the Greenleaf produce warehouse and set up by the talented folks at Outstanding in the Field.

In between the scheduled events, I met a lot of terrific people and enjoyed some of the culinary delights of the Bay Area. Some highlights:
My deepest thanks to Foodbuzz for putting together the wonder-filled event. Meanwhile, if you'd like a peek at the festivities (and all that tasty food) just click to find the photo tour here.

Cheers!
Miss Ginsu

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11.14.2009

Lemon-Ginger Fairy Cakes

I think I've mentioned before that J is an alien creature who often resembles a normal fellow but occasionally exposes his true color (green, naturally). One of his little oddities I discovered recently is a propensity to refer to cupcakes as "fairy cakes."

Though there's a little friendly debate about what constitutes a proper fairy cake in the comments over at Becks & Posh and Cupcakes Take the Cake, the Wikipedia lumps cupcakes and fairy cakes together on the same page.

When it comes down to it, the difference between a fairy cake and a cupcake actually seems to be geography.

Ginger Cakelet

I believe that J might insist that the true fairy cake — that is, the most correct example of the genre — is the one that's exactly to his taste: Simple. Petite. Spiced with an unexpected hit of ginger. Something to enjoy with his pot of afternoon tea, perhaps.
Lemon-Ginger Fairy Cakes (Makes about a dozen)

3 cups all-purpose or pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon zest (from about 3 lemons)
2 Tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped finely
3 eggs
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk

1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease the cups of a muffin pan or line them with wrappers.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, ginger and the eggs, beating well.
4. Add about a quarter of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, blending well. Blend in about a quarter of the buttermilk, then continue alternating the flour mixture and buttermilk, incorporating everything until just blended.
5. Pour the batter into the muffin cups to about 2/3 of the way full. Bake cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the center of one comes out clean.
6. Remove from oven and cool in the pan 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Ice with simple cream cheese frosting (below) and share with people you like.

Across the pond, I think the cakes (fairy and otherwise) tend to have more conservative icing than the mountains of fluffy frosting you see on cakes hereabouts. If you've seen Nigella Lawson's pretty little tabletop-flat cakelets, you'll know what I mean.

But I just can't be satisfied with a thin icing. Truthfully, I'm devoted to cream cheese frosting. It's rich, smooth and tangy and it tastes good on everything from carrot cake to devil's food.

For a recipe like the one above, I add a bit of lemon zest, but I'd resist that urge for cakes of a chocolate persuasion.
Simple Cream Cheese Frosting (Makes enough to frost a 13" x 9" cake or about a dozen cupcakes.)

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (or more, to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp lemon zest (optional)

In a mixing bowl, blend the butter and cream cheese. Slowly blend in the powdered sugar, beating until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Blend in the vanilla extract and lemon zest (if using).

Cheers to you and all the fairies in your life!
Miss Ginsu

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2.04.2009

FoodLink Roundup: 09.8.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was checking out the annual International Pickle Festival on the Lower East Side in NYC. (If you're local, check it out next weekend!) Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post a guess in the comments.

Where whale steak goes well with greens
Save the whales? They're saving them for dinner.

Will Cupcakes Be the Next Krispy Kreme?
I just love the term "cupcake backlash."

Harissa, mon amour
"This is an ode to harissa. It's replaced my ketchup, my salsa picante, even (gasp) my Louisiana hot sauce." I could not agree more. Harissa rules.

Budget Brown Bag
The SanFran Gate gets some flack for their high-falutin' recipe ideas in the comments: "Nobody has both a tight budget AND so much leisure time as to make a child's lunch using 10-20 ingredients."

20 fabulous European food festivals
The Guardian tells you where to go... Pizzafest!

New food links — and a new postcard from Cupcake — every Monday morning on missginsu.com

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9.08.2008