I am obsessed. Together with Julie and Sarah, I am consumed with the gluttonous task of finding the best cupcake in Bend.
Last week it was Nancy P's. Today for lunch it was Allyson's, in Bend's Old Mill District. Convenient that it's right down the hill from my office, isn't it? We needed a good place to scheme about our plans to heat up the tech landscape in Bend.
As always, I kept up the pretense that this was not just about the cupcakes. I needed "real" food too. One of the best parts about a visit to Allyson's is they put out samples of a variety of their treats. I tried three kinds of cheese, and a bite of several types of cheesecake (two of them chocolate) before I even ordered my lunch! That's one way to cure a case of the Monday's! And when you are hungry, it's that much easier to walk past all the pretty kitchen toys without getting distracted.
While not as sinfully delightful as my bacon sandwich from last week, the Black Bean soup at Allyson's is very good. There was a fair amount of sausage and just a bit of spice. The mug was just the right amount and took the chill out of my bones. (Even though it was a beautiful sunny day it was still quite cold out!) Best of all, I had plenty of room for dessert!
Perusing the case of baked goods, I mulled over my decision. Since I had already tasted a bite of each type of the individual cheesecakes, the door was wide open for cupcakes once again. But did I want a big one or a little one? Lemon or Red Velvet? Really, I don't quite understand the whole fascination with Red Velvet cake. So of course I ordered Lemon. And why get a small cupcake when you can get a big one? If I got a small one there wouldn't be any left to share!
I did try a bite of Julie's Red Velvet cupcake, and it was good. The frosting was creamy and rich - the kind that you could just spoon up straight from the bowl. It makes me get fatter just thinking about it.
As soon as I pulled the paper away from my Lemon cupcake I was awash in the smell. Ooohh, I love the smell of lemons! But the cupcake itself was very cold and a little on the dry side. Almost like it had been baked the night (or week) before, and then frozen. It tasted perfect, but the texture and temperature left me, well... cold.
But our adventure wasn't quite over. I had heard that Allyson's is planning to offer cooking courses, so I was anxious to check out their demo kitchen. After checking with the staff we poked around upstairs and then nosed around their wine "cellar".
Our excitement must have been showing (or maybe it was the camera's flash?) because the head honcho guy came over to talk to us. We were excited to hear that classes will be starting soon. They are planning to offer several formats: a multi-week class ("Confident Cooking"), demonstrations, and hands-on workshops. Topics include knife skills 101, Moroccan cuisine, and sushi. They are thinking about offering Winemakers dinners some time in the future. And they do themed wine tastings every Friday, 6-8pm (this week's theme is "The Bounty of Barbera").
Oh, and did I mention that Allyson's is also a kitchen store?! It's well-stocked with an assortment of some of the most drool-worthy appliances, cookware, gadgets and tools I have seen in a long time. I am a big fan of Allyson's store in Ashland and usually make a point to visit when we visit that town for the Shakespeare Festival. I am apprehensive (about the potential impact on my wallet) but excited about having them so close to home!