Friday, July 31, 2009


When in New Orleans, please go visit the Kitchen Witch in the Quarter:
Its a lovely cozy used and new cookbook (!) shop with an emphasis on creole cookery. The owners are sweet and lovely and helpful!

The Kitchen Witch!
631 Toulouse St
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 528-8382
And then, we were invited to dinner at Allison's house, where she served us crab with gugutz (a giant zucchini) and we ate... the Coconut Caramel Flan that Elyse made.

The flecks of cinnamon are Elyse's twist on her grandmother's recipe...

The caramel was perfectly cooked- slightly dark and very creamy, and the flan itself was the freshest, creamiest, coconut-iest magic I've ever tasted. Allison concurs.

Thank you NOLA! While part of me feels that I could stay here forever, I'm excited to get home to family and work. I'm a lucky lady to have had such a beautiful holiday, and to have such a richness of friends, family, and creative work to get back to...


Thursday, July 30, 2009


Making Coconut Caramel Flan with Elyse:

Shrimp and Oyster Po Boys from Verdi Mart:

Hubig's Pies at Verdi Mart:

One of the millions of really sweet people in this town.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Orleans Cake Cafe and Bakery

(Or: A Birthday Lagniappe featuring Elyse Manning)
This year, for my birthday, I decided to come to New Orleans to visit my friend and baking and spiritual advisor, Elyse Manning.

I had forgotten, since it has been over a decade since my last visit to New Orleans, what an incredibly beautiful, friendly, and otherworldly city this is. And I am struck at the resilience of the people here who refuse to live their lives without ample goodwill and copious celebration, every day. The culture here is uplifting and I'm grateful to be here. I'm especially lucky to be here for my birthday! Yesterday, July 28, I turned 33 years old.

In New Orleans, I discovered, birthdays are even more special than on other planets. Elyse pinned a two-dollar bill to my shirt and explained to me that, in New Orleans, on your birthday, PEOPLE PIN MONEY TO YOUR SHIRT ALL DAY LONG.
I was amazed. Because not only did we end the night with a giant pin on my shirt full of dollar bills, but everybody knew it was my birthday, and was giving me hugs, and drinks, and free dessert, and well wishes all night long. I felt so special! Here my birthday Banana Caramel Cheesecake from SukhoThai in the Marigny neighborhood:

And this morning, I have been hanging out with the good folks at the New Orleans Cake Cafe and Bakery, where Elyse (and former Ashevillian Anais) works! I'd like to tell you a little bit about this lovely cake shop (that is also a wonderful restaurant and full-service bakery, but we're going to stick to the cake part of the story).

This is Steve Himelfarb.
Steve began his life in cake by baking chocolate cake every day, and selling it by the slice, door to door, in the French Quarter, for four years. Eventually, he had built enough of a clientèle to open a shop in the Quarter. He specialized in cake, but also made breakfast and lunch, mainly serving the locals that worked in the Quarter, because there were few options for affordable meals to the service industry workers. His shop was a success, but within a year, Katrina hit. Steve lost his space in the Quarter, and left for New York to regroup. Soon enough, though, he was back in NOLA, putting the Cake Cafe together in a new location. New Orleans Cake Cafe and Bakery officially opened on August 29, 2007, the second anniversary of the tragedy of Katrina, in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans. I'm happy to announce that business is going great!

Anais makes the bread, Elyse and Robin work the counter (Robin is pictured on the right, and she shares my birthday! Although she made alot more money than I did yesterday, due to working all day with customers pinning dollars on her shirt)
And Steve, Allison, and Darren work the kitchen, cranking out the cakes and sandwiches. Allison and Darren slicing some bread:

And here is the bakery's, ahem, CAT, Maître d'. I did not ask questions. I'm sure Maître d' is a wonderful cat that does a great job, um, here at the Cake Cafe.
But, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to our featured cupcake:

The Sazerac Cupcake from NOLA Cakes!
What is Sazerac, you ask? Well, I will tell you. According to Wikipedia, Sazerac is: "one of the oldest known cocktails, with its origins in pre-Civil War New Orleans, Louisiana. The original drink is based on a combination of Cognac and bitters created by Antoine Amédée Peychaud in the 1830s, and is reported to be the first cocktail ever invented in America. Since its creation, many different recipes have evolved for the drink, usually involving some combination of Cognac, rye whiskey, absinthe or Herbsaint and Peychaud's Bitters.
The Sazerac cocktail was named by John Schiller in 1859 upon the opening of his Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans. Both most likely derive their name from a popular brand of Cognac, Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils."
The Sazerac cupcake, bearing New Orleans signature Fleur-De-Lis, is a delicious anise-flavored yellow butter cake with cognac, and bitters in the buttercream icing.

New Orleans Cake Cafe and Bakery is a perfect example of the kind of business we aspire to at the cake shop: creating honest cakes for celebrations, in a unique way that serves a community need, and celebrates local traditions. Horray for Steve, Elyse, and the crew at NOLA Cakes!
I look forward to baking Flan with Elyse when she gets out of work, getting my birthday astrology reading from DK Brainard (author of the very excellent astrology blog Words for the People) and riding bikes around this stunningly lovely and lush city. And then, I look forward to coming home to Asheville and our lovely cake shop with a renewed and inspired heart.
See you soon!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wouldn't it be nice?

If Short Street Cakes won "Best Bakery" in the Mountain Express Best of WNC Reader's Poll? I think so. If you think so too, click on on this here link to vote. Voting closes August 19th. Anyone can vote (but only once).

You can also vote for My Life in Cake as the best blog, Short Street as the best Twitterer, Howard Street Handmade as the best Arts and Crafts Fair, and Bountiful Cities Project ast the best local do-gooder. You have to vote in at least 30 catagories for your vote to count, so here are some other recommendations:
Best BBQ (duh): 12 Bones
Favorite Restaurant: Admiral
Ice Cream: Two Spoons
Italian: Marcos
Indian: Mela
Japanese: Heiwa Shokudo
Pizza: Marcos
Chocolate: French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Bar: Admiral
Dive Bar: Broadways
Coffeeshop: Dripolator
Brewery: Wedge
Beer: Wedge
Visual Artist: Ursula Gullow
Singer/Songwriter: Jaye Bartell/Pilgrim
DJ: SteadyLove
Video Store: TV Eye
Movie Theater: Brew and View
Arts Writer: Ursula Gullow
Hair Salon: Adorn
Bookstore: Downtown Books and News
Women's Clothing: Custom
Men's Clothing: Hunk
Consignment/Vintage: Honeypot
Farm: Lady Luck Flower Farm
Fashion Designer: Brooke Priddy
Record Store: Harvest Records
Day Care: Mountain Area Child and Family Center (they really are the best... we love them... heart heart heart)
Kid's Entertainer: Jolly Balloon Smiths
Thing you'd like to see local government do: take action on food security
Thing Downtown needs: A Playground and an awesome park that's not full of cops chasing bums, but where cops, bums, kids, and everybody else can hang out in peace and harmony because its just so beautiful!

But that's just my opinion.

So who did I forget? Leave a comment and set me straight.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Tai Shan!

The Associated Press reports that on July 9th, panda bear Tai Shan celebrated his 4th birthday at the National Zoo in Washington. And his people friends made him a birthday cake! Its made out of ice, beet juice and shredded beets, bamboo, and apples. Awww! Happy Birthday, Tai Shan!

(and no, we at Short Street Cakes do not make cakes for panda bears, in case you were thinking about trying to order one of these from the cake shop)
Thanks to Blue Ridge Biofuels for passing this along!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pink-o-rama Wedding

Cute as all get-out, with pink and candy everywhere.

Newsletters and New Cake!

First, allow me to introduce you to today's newest flavor:
Vegan. Vanilla. Wineberry. Cupcakes.
Featuring local, wildcrafted Blue Ridge Wineberries (a species of raspberry) from Braden and Mindy's Good Times Farm.

And secondly, let me direct your attention to the newly published Summer Newsletter from Short Street Cakes: This newsletter is chock full of pictures, updates, and info about cake, community, collaborations and connections. Click here to view the newsletter as a webpage, or sign up to receive our newsletters in your email inbox by using the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Small Measure

If y'all haven't checked out Ashley English's sweet and lovely blog, Small Measure, now's a good time to check it out. Besides having lots to say about beekeeping, baking, chicken husbandry, and the like, she's giving away beautiful hand-crafted canned item once a month. (Hands off. The Peach-Lavender Butter is MINE.) Its also a crafty little way to drum up interest in her series of books coming out next year from Lark Books. And how we do love crafty, food-a-licious people in our lovely little mountain town!

Aria Floral and this weekend's wedding...

This is Jess:

And this is Meredith:

Jess, owner and designer of Aria Floral, and Meredith, a designer with Aria, do a totally amazing job in their floral design. I always recommend them, and when they are doing a wedding, I am always more than happy to allow them to do the floral design on the cake. They have an extensive knowledge of edibles, use local botanicals whenever possible, and focus on sustainable design, which means they maintain a greenhouse with perennials and earth elements that they use continually for their events.
They're also friends of the family, and I've known Jess for many years, since before either of us became mamas or business owners. (and I'm not being paid to say any of this). I'm just very proud of the caliber of work that they are bringing to events here in Western North Carolina.

For this wedding, I created a two tier Peach Cake with Raspberry Filling and Cream Cheese Icing, as well as four large round cakes in two kinds of chocolate, and one Italian Cream Cake.

Then Aria decorated them with a lush display of local blueberry branches, mint sprigs, and borage branches. Beautiful!

As I watched them do the design work, I said, "I wish y'all could do the floral design on all my cakes!" To which Jess responded, "we can!" It got us thinking and talking about how easy it would be to hire Aria just to do the wedding cake floral design, even if you have another designer or farmer doing your flowers. So if you are interested, contact them at:
828.682.9971 or
And I hear tell that they are looking at sourcing some of their flowers from Katie Grear at Lady Luck Flower Farm!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Friends, I want you to know, if you don't already, about what our friends at Harvest Records are doing this summer. Its big. Really really big. I'm so proud of them. Listen up:
(from a recent press release from Harvest):

*Transfigurations 2009: Celebrating five years of Harvest Records*

*3 days of your music in the mountains of Asheville, NC August 13th-15th*

Asheville, NC--Harvest Records celebrates five groundbreaking years as one
of America’s best independent record stores with Transfigurations--an
intimate first time music festival outside the norm of large, multi-stage
summer festivals in Asheville, NC. Transfigurations is bringing together
an incredible lineup of independent artists from all over the country August
13-15th including Akron/Family, Bonnie Prince Billy, The Books, Budos Band,
Circulatory System, Mount Eerie, Espers, War on Drugs, Brightblack Morning
Light, Kurt Vile, Ice Cream, Jonathan Kane, Coathangers, Villages, and Steve
Gunn. In addition to live music Transfigurations will present a panel
discussion and films from three record label heads who, through their own
unique methods, are at the forefront of documenting musics, new and old,
from the United States & around the world.

Transfigurations is a down-home gathering consisting of three venues (550
capacity or less) with virtually no overlap of artist performance. The
gathering is a culmination of co-owners Matt Schnable and Mark Capon sharing
a mutual love for creating a space dedicated to the discovery of music in a
supportive community. “Transfigurations brings together the spirits of the
musicians that we have brought to this city, the artists who have displayed
on our walls, the sounds people have found in our shop and the togetherness
that we have attempted to breathe into the community...hour by hour, day by
day," says Capon.

Over the last five years Harvest Records has brought new and old musicians
to Asheville as well as fresh ideas and an inclusive attitude. Through hard
work and a do-it-yourself business style, Harvest Records gained Honorable
Mention in Spin Magazines America’s Best Indy Record Stores in 2009 with, “a
savvy selection to rival any big-city shop, in a comfortably sleepy mountain
town.” Harvest has also been awarded “Best Music Store” in Western North
Carolina for the past four years by the Mountain Xpress readers’ poll.

Harvest Records has filled an important niche in Asheville, in the
southeast, and among record stores. “You may have been in a small,
independent record store, but we feel Harvest Records is unique and we want
everyone who walks through the door to have a satisfying exchange and an
inclusive experience,” says co-owner Matt Schnable. “That fresh perspective
has kept us going every day, and that same attitude of sharing a love of
music and creativity is what we are bringing to Transfigurations.”

Tickets are on sale now--Regular weekend passes ("Regafigurations") are
limited, and special weekend passes ("Megafigurations" ) are extremely
limited, so hurry!

For more information, please visit
or contact:
Matt Schnable or Mark Capon
828-258-2999 or