Sunday, September 28, 2008

hand soap... literally

I know this is random, but does anyone else think these baby hand soaps are both perverse and hilarious?

Ellen, Thomas' MIFA work colleague and new member of Love for Sale, has apparently been strategically placing them around friends' and coworkers' domiciles and cubicles... this is both disturbing and clever.

Thank you, Ellen, for my baby hand soap... I think.

For your own bag of baby hands, visit this link.

Friday, September 26, 2008

St. Louis bakery bonanza: the final installment

Ok, wrapping up our mega-bakery tour of St. Louis...

Hartford Coffee and Bakery
We found this little place completely by accident after leaving the last lacrosse game of the tournament (in which our menfolk, Thomas and Whit, fought valiantly) while we were making a U-turn to get back to the hotel.
This little place was CHARMING! I love corner spaces and this was in the corner space of an old building smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood- super-high ceilings, old wooden floors... loved it.

The girl behind the counter couldn't have been any nicer. We got iced lattes, a pumpkin mini-bundt cake, a turtle cookie, and dog treats to take home to the pups. I loved the turtle cookie the best but the pumpkin bundt was delicious as well.

The Cupcakery
...aka the super adorable tiny shop in the totally hip Maryland Plaza. This was one of my favorites. The cupcakes were simply presented and yummy. They didn't rely on gimmick-y toppings or super-complicated flavor combinations; these were just good, old-fashioned delicious cupcakes.
When I called Saturday afternoon to ask about hours, the girl who answered the phone was cheerful, helpful, and super-polite (I'm a sucker for good phone manners) and when Thomas and I went to the shop that evening they were all upbeat and happy to answer my questions. Every customer left there with a smile on their face and licking their lips.
Thomas and I indulged and got a chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing and a lemon cupcake (my two favorites of my own shop) as well as a cakewich and an unbelievably delicious ENORMOUS oatmeal cookie and icing sandwich... like an A-List Little Debbie on steroids.
The Cupcakery is trendy, yes, but also completely un-pretentious. I highly recommend stopping in if you're ever in the St. Louis area!
Also, one of the owners, Erika Robertson Frank, is apparently from Memphis! Yay Erika!

Thank you for joining me on the virtual tour, please put your seats and trays in their upright positions...
See you next time!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

St. Louis bakery bonanza part deux

Ok, let's continue our magical mystery tour of St. Louis bakeries...

Dad's Cookie Company
Dad's is a family-run bakery and has been ever since it opened in 1938. I'm totally envious of the cool architecture and the mosaic tile floor, although not such a huge fan of the dank darkness. The place seems a little musty and the lady behind the counter wasn't exactly a bundle of sunshine, buuuuut then I tasted the cookies.
These are an old-fashioned, crunchy cross between Scotch shortbread and those decadently delicious Swedish butter cookies you get in the blue tin. We tried the coconut stars, Scotch oatmeal (delicious crumbled over Hagen Daaz vanilla bean ice cream, by the way) and caramel-dark chocolate popcorn. Mandy raves about the popcorn and Thomas' favorite was the coconut stars.

Jilly's Cupcake Bar
Whoa, Nelly. This place is INTENSE. I was frankly intimidated and awed by the enormous cupcakes all over the place. These are cupcakes that 3 small children could easily split at $4.25 a pop. Don't let the price put you off though; seriously, the cupcakes are almost as big as a slice of cake and in my professional opinion, quite appropriately priced.
We tried the bee sting (honey and lemon), s'murtle (like a s'more crossed with a turtle), and a carmelita (lots of caramel and chocolate). My favorite was the bee sting; the s'murtle and the carmelita were just too rich for my blood (especially after the amount of sugar I'd already consumed!).
The service was friendly and the place was really cute and super-trendy. This was Mandy's favorite place on the tour.

Part three... coming soon!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

St. Louis bakery bonanza part one

Thomas, Whit, Mandy and I headed up to St. Louis for the weekend for a) Thomas and Whit's lacrosse tournament and b) major bakery "research".
Whew. Can I just say, I actually ate enough sweets this weekend that I didn't even want to TASTE another sweet for DAYS after coming back from St. Louis... Of course, this lasted all the way until Monday...

Black Bear Bakery
This place is an anarchist bakery. Like, for real. It's an autonomous collective (does anyone else think of Monty Python- Holy Grail when I say that?) that is anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist. There were anarchist pamphlets all over the place and they had sandwiches with names like "The Insurgent" and breakfast plates called "St. Louis General Strike of 1877" and "French Revolution".
Yes. Really.
We braved the somewhat sketch neighborhood to try their neighborhood brunch (self-serve array of ginger cinnamon french toast, buckwheat pancakes, sliced tomatoes, scrambled eggs with veggies, roast potatoes and kale, etc) and it was crazy delicious.
We also tried a walnut brownie, chocolate oat bar, chocolate cupcake, raspberry oat bars (heaven!) and chocolate peanut butter cookies that the super helpful guy at the counter told me are only sweetened with maple syrup. They rocked. I also got some brioche that had been made that morning.
When we came in, there was a guy singing "I am My Own Grandpa" and we were in luck; we got to hear the whole thing. The two workers (partners? collective members? comrades?) there were nice and helpful.
The bakery gets a lot of it's produce from neighborhood gardens within 2 miles of the bakery, which is really great and believe me, those sliced tomatoes were so thick and red and juicy that it wouldn't surprise me one bit if they were picked that morning. If you visit Black Bear, be sure you have cash or check- they do not accept credit cards. I felt extremely foolish for even asking as soon as the words were out of my mouth... I mean, it's an anarchist bakery, of COURSE they don't accept credit cards.
Anyway, if you're in St. Louis, it's definitely worth stopping in for the peanut butter chocolate cookies, the raspberry bars and getting to go to an anarchist bakery.

Hmmm... I think continuing with the tour on this post will just be anti-climactic, so I'll post more about the St. Louis bakeries in a day or two!