Friday, March 9, 2012

Corks & Cupcakes

Cupcakes have been all the rage for quite some time now. Who doesn't love a little bite of cakey goodness especially with all the crazy flavor combos out there? A recent trend has been pairing the morsels of cake with wine. What a great idea! Emerging Chefs put their spin on this concept and it was a fun night out in addition to being tasty as hell.

The location was Shaheen Gallery downtown. It set the stage for the lovely Lilia Lipps' of Indulgence Cakes magnificent cupcakes that were tiny bites of edible artwork.  Let's just start off by saying this girl can bake! 

The sweets were paired with wines from Tuscany Distributors. Raffaele Scettro and Margaret Mann were charming and knowledgeable. They specialize in Italian wines so I was really eager to see what they were featuring.

David Moss, Michael DeAloia, Lilia Lipps and Raffaele Scettro 
We started off the evening with the DJ mixing tunes and an amuse bouche aptly titled "Lure Me In." It was a coconut macaroon with lemon curd and red wine caviar. I could have eaten a bowl of the lemon curd/wine caviar combo! The curd was perfectly tart and was a perfect compliment to the chewy coconut. We were talking about how great it would be to make a pie crust out of the macaroons and use the curd as a filling. Paired with presecco it was the perfect pairing to start the party off right!
Corks and Cupcakes Lure Me In Amuse Buche
 Next up was what ended up being my favorite course of the night: "Take Me on a Picnic." This taste sensation was a cheddar cupcake with candied pecans and honey blue cheese frosting. It was garnished with a crispy cheddar wafer. The sweetness in the pecan and the honey kept this from being too savory or muffin-like. Lilia balanced the ingredients perfectly when creating this masterpiece. It went really well with the white Lugana Base vino. The Trebbiano grapes in this wine hail from Lake Garda.

Next up was the much anticipated "Wine Me, Dine Me...Make Me Sparkle" cannoli cupcake. It was almost oozing out of the cupcake wrapper because it was so moist. I personally was disappointed because in addition to the chocolate, it also included candied orange. I am not a fan of most fruit and chocolate combos so it ended up being my least favorite bite. But don't let that influence you - most people were in love with this flavor combo. This course was not a total loss for me because the wine was my favorite of the night: Sangue di Giuda (Blood of Judas.) It was a slightly sweet, lightly sparkling red that was very easy to drink. I can't wait to sip some on my deck because this is a perfect summer red. 
 The intermezzo "Give Me a Break" gave us sparkling spring water and mint julep panna cotta to cleanse our palates. The panna cotta was cool and creamy with just the right amount of mint. My only complaint is the the spoons provided were too big to dig into the bottom of the shot glasses which made for some creative wrestling to get every last drop. The water was supposed to have mint but the flavor was non-existent. A fresh sprig of mint would have been a nice touch. During the break, I was able to chat with our baking superstar and catch up with some friends.

mint julep panna cotta
Lilia, me and Kimberly


By this point, we were all anxiously awaiting Course III: Butter Me Up, Buttercup." This course paired a salted caramel cupcake with Pinot Nero Rose. The cupcake totally rocked! Nice saltiness and not too sweet. The wine was my least favorite - WAY too rose for my tastes. I saw a lot of unfinished glasses at the tables too.
Salted caramel heaven


They ended the night with "Marry Me at Breakfast," a decadent dark chocolate and bacon cupcake and Giome cab/merlot blend. It was my 2nd favorite of the night. The dense cupcake was studded with bacon on the inside and garnished with a crisp sliver for double the bacony goodness. What made this combo so luscious was the espresso frosting. On. My. Goodness.


perfect ending
In addition to the rock star cupcakes and vino, we had some super sweet Scene Magazine folks as well as a giveaway from a local dentist. Everyone got mini tubes of toothpaste to take care of our teeth after all the goodies. Some lucky winners even got free dental consultations.
This was definitely not the typical Emerging Chefs event. It was more a cocktail party with everyone standing and mingling. The music, though a little loud, kept the mood upbeat even during some longish lulls between courses. Slow and surly service was the only downside of an otherwise fun event. Several times we received our cupcake and the wine was so slow to arrive we didn't get to taste the wine prior to taking our first bite. We even had to flag down a server to bring us beverages because we were skipped completely. Luckily the cupcakes and wine were good enough to save the day! 

* I was provided a media pass for this event. *
As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% my own.

8 comments:

  1. "Tasty as hell" is right! Cheers to Lilia!!

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  2. Sounds like a fun, and unusual, event!

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. I removed the previous anonymous comment because it included very personal derogatory comments about one of the Emerging Chefs founders. This blog is not the proper for this type of discussion.

    To address the concerns brought up by the anonymous guest regarding this blogger's ability to be unbiased - I was provided a complimentary media pass to attend the event. I did participate in their affiliate program and one person (my neighbor) purchased a ticket using the link. This did in no way influence my opinion about the event or the post that I wrote. My opinions about the event as always were honest and completely my own.

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  5. It's very obvious that you are stating your opinions. Anyone who states otherwise must not have read your posting! I thought it was an interesting read. Thanks for sharing! Also, I'm with you on fruit and chocolate combos - specifically orange & chocolate. I know most people like it, but I just can't get into that flavor combo! And events like this are tricky: you want a lot of people there so everyone involved does well, but I hate when it's so crowded that service is effected. Sounds like a fun event though!

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  6. I give you a lot of credit for trying all of this. Those cupcakes look so big and decadent and the wine levels look high. I don't know if I'd be bouncing off walls or tripping over myself...just imagine the frosting mess I would create. :-)

    Great post and pics! Although I'm not into mixing sweets with alcohol, I would love (LOOOOVE) a wine tasting of lesser known Italian wines like Amarone, Nero d'Avola, Negroamaro, and Vin Santo's.

    If you hear of any, just sign me up!

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  7. The cupcakes were actually tiny and I didn't have time for dinner beforehand so eating everything was no problem! The wines went really well with them. I love Italian wines too- amarone and barolo are some of my favorites. I'll let you know if I hear of anything for sure.

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