Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hurrah for no cake-cutting fees!!

Let's all give a round of applause for restaurants (usually small, independently owned establishments) that don't charge cake-cutting fees!!! It's such a convenience for people like myself who love celebrating friends' birthdays with homemade cakes, but enjoy having birthday dessert and the hoopla surrounding it dining out.
It was Cassie's birthday this past week and the entire gang came down to LA in honor of the bithday girl -- not that they don't try to find any excuse to come visit. Clearly I bake regularly, but I also try to stick to a pretty healthy diet: lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. That all gets thrown out the window when these girls come into town though. When we get together, we eat, and we eat A LOT. They need to get their fix of whatever they can't find in the Bay Area, and I get to enjoy everything I don't normally allow myself.
This particular trip included Honey's Kettle fried chicken and soft, buttery biscuits, Japanese fusion izakaya, an Italian breakfast sandwich and pear pancakes at The Kitchen, a quick Intelligentsia stop, pad see ew and crispy pork with green beans at Ord Noodle, crostinis and salami from Joan's on Third, the oozy goodness of the chicken mushroom panini at Il Tramezzino, dinner at Palate Food + Wine in Glendale, a light breakfast of soft scrambled vegetarian hen eggs with wild mushrooms at LA Mill, the Cuban Reuben for brunch at The Foundry, mussels and garlic mops and cornbread at Village Idiot, the bo ssam and seafood pancake at Kowaboo, and, of course,
After an exhausting week and too little free time, I managed to whip up a banana cake that has been a crowd pleaser in the past. It's unfailingly moist and infused with delicious banana flavor. Not too much adornment, but cream cheese frosting, and maybe some toasted pecans are all you need. It's so simple to whip together and the biggest issue is just planning ahead so that your bananas will be good to go when it comes time to bake. And by good to go, I mean black. To the point where your better judgment would have you throw them out instead of attracting fruit flies. Another alternative is to troll different markets, asking for really ripe bananas and quite frequently, they'll have them in the back, quarantined from "blemish-free" bananas. Waiting until this stage makes ALL the difference.

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