Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Prelude to summer.
I love my Sunday ritual of going to the Hollywood Farmers' Market. Rain or shine, I am always there at roughly the 8 o'clock hour, regardless of whether I slept at 9:30 pm, or 4:30 am the night before. People are amazed at my stamina when I tell them after the third drink of the evening that I'll still be in attendance at the market the next morning, but it's an event I look forward to all week, and brings me a sense of calm and everything-is-as-it-should-be if only in the hour that I'm there, half zoning out and half taking in all the colors and aromas of the season.
It's Los Angeles, so the market is blessed with a wide array of produce every week, and I have golden beets within reach without fail while my cousin in Manhattan has to search five different markets in different areas for them. Sadly, I'm sure many Angelenos (myself included) take this amazing selection for granted and overlook so much of what's available. I'm guilty of this offense when it comes to berries. Not so much strawberries as it wouldn't be unusual for me to pick up a half flat some weeks, but I have never once gone home with any of those tiny globules of blueberry or blackberry goodness - until now. They don't run cheap which is a major deciding factor in my decision of whether or not I really need them that week (especially after having spent $5 on a dozen of my favorite eggs, and $4 on a pound of Empress dates, and another $4 on 5 pieces of pita bread), but this week's Tuesday's With Dorie selection by Sihan of Befuddlement seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally give in and pop my berry cherry.
Coffee cake is one of my weaknesses with it's characteristic streusely topping, and the blueberry crumb cake sounded like it's close cousin. I have to admit, though, I was slightly disappointed at first bite. I had made it the day before, and when I finally tried it a day and a half later, it didn't induce the same kind of response as, say, Dorie's apple pie. Also, the cake took much longer than the 55-65 minutes for the knife to come out clean, and when it finally did, I think the cake was a tad dried out. (Those slits in the crust are from all the testing I did! Hideous, but necessary.) And the berries (blueberry with a smattering of blackberry) -- they could have definitely been sweeter, so it was a slight disappointment for my first berry-buying occasion.
It wasn' t all bad though -- the big crumb "crust" was my favorite part, as well as that of most of my coworkers' and when I finally decided that microwaving may save the cake, I found the butteriness in the crumbs so much more enhanced, and with the accompaniment of a berry tea, an utterly good midday indulgence.
Even though I was less than thrilled with my first taste, others were still very enthusiastic. It was devoured so quickly that I was a worried the innards wouldn't get a chance with the camera lens. Still, I would do things differently if there is a next time -- berries + sugar = good idea before summer, even in California, and don't be fooled by a seemingly wet batter after your gut tells you it's ready. Near fatal flaws!