On a recent trip to Boston, I stayed at the adorable Beacon Hill Hotel, tucked away down Charles Street. Its 12 rooms are right above its street-level restaurant, the Bistro, which is run by Barbara Lynch alum Jason Bond. In addition to the excellent complimentary breakfast, which included vanilla pancakes and a thick French toast topped with spiced crème fraîche, chef Bond makes some of the best ice cream in town. My friend Katherine and I tasted our way through flavors like Ligurian Olive Oil and Banana Rum, but the flavor that had us coming back at midnight for a second scoop was the Chocolate Almond–Smoked Sea Salt, with a pudding-like texture and crunchy bits of cocoa nibs and toasted slivered almonds. Bond shared his secret: Valrhona Guanaha chocolate and Norwegian smoked sea salt. Thank goodness ice cream wasn't on the breakfast menu.
© Quentin Bacon
© Tina Rupp
If you've ever wondered what wine would be best with red velvet or chocolate cupcakes, James Roth of the wine shop Red, White & Bleu in Falls Church, Virginia, is your man. His motto is, "If you can eat it, you can pair it." So the Falls Church News-Press put him up to the challenge of pairing eight different flavored cupcakes with wines. The results were fascinating-for example, a dark-chocolate ganache with an Argentinean Malbec. Try some cupcake pairings yourself with some of my favorite F&W recipes:
Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Devil's Food Cupcakes with Espresso Meringue
Angel Food Cupcakes with Raspberry Swirl
Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling
Andrew Sessa, senior editor at F&W's sister magazine Departures, is adamant that the mini Bundt cake is going to steal the cupcake's role as the darling of the dessert world. "People like cupcakes because they're cute, and individual sized, and, maybe most importantly, vaguely nostalgic," says Sessa. "They're a throwback to mom's kitchen, and mid-century Donna Reed Americana. Mini bundts hit all the same notes, and I think, are even cuter and certainly have an even stronger sense of that nostalgia."T he recreational baker adores the adorable round cakes so much that he has started his own company— Bundt, a Bakery — which debuted last weekend at Brooklyn’s new Greenpoint Food Market. Sessa will be selling a rotating selection of seasonally inspired mini Bundt cakes, like Guinness Ginger Spice and Oatmeal Cranberry Crunch, for $4 each. The best-seller over the weekend was the zingy Caipirinha Sling. I couldn’t get enough of the supermoist Carrot Cake Bundt, which can be ordered with an extra shot of white chocolate–cream cheese buttercream frosting for $1 more.
© Peter Picasa
Mini Bundts baked by Andrew Sessa.
For F&W’s September issue, I wrote about an incredible dinner party that London-based ceramicist Peter Ting hosted at the country house he shares with his partner, Brian Kennedy, and his friend Rachel Lamb. Ting gave F&W an exclusive look at his new Hachi tabletop collection for Royal Crown Derby and also shared some of his best recipes. Though he is an excellent cook, Ting's true passion is baking. He recently launched a London-based group called the Cake Committee that meets every other month (Oct. 18 and Dec. 13 will be the next dates) in Pullens Yards. A minimum of 10 amateur and professional bakers bring at least one cake, pie, tart or brioche to sell by the slice to raise money for charity. I sent Peter my favorite F&W recipe for red velvet cake, which he made for the committee’s inaugural meeting.
© Eric Biermann
Tariq Hanna and his blue cake
© Andrew Sessa