The Strand-Capitol kicked off it’s 2010-2011 season deliciously.
On Saturday night, I attended “Sweet Beginnings”, a sugar-laced event where local businesses paired their food with this season’s upcoming shows as a fundraiser. There were over 40 stands passing out everything from cupcakes to brie. If you went to this event and didn’t leave completely satisfied, it’s your own fault.
The first thing I encounter upon walking in was a table of dessert sushi provided by Altland House Catering & Events. Don’t get grossed out, dessert sushi isn’t candied fish, or anything like that. It is simply a normal dessert, made to look like a sushi roll. I had a Rice Krispie treat wrapped in Fruit Roll-Up. They were even served with chopsticks!
And there was something for everyone, even people who usually aren’t able to enjoy dessert. Grandma’s Gone Gluten-Free, based in Lancaster, offered gluten-free goodies for those with Celiacs, or who may avoid gluten for various reasons.
The owner, Susan Polachak, started the business three years ago along with her daughters. Polachak, who has had Celiacs for nearly 15 years, started the business to remedy a problem many gluten-free people face: no good rolls or pizza dough. So she began making her own, perfecting her recipe with potato and tapioca flour. She has since added several desserts, including the cupcakes and muffins she had at the event, as well as her popular tomato and basil focaccia bread.
Never having eaten anything gluten-free before, I almost passed this table by. But I went to this event with the intention of trying something from EVERY table. So, I apprehensively grabbed a chocolate cupcake and was pleasantly surprised to find that it actually tasted like a normal cupcake. It wasn’t anything special, but for someone who can’t normally enjoy a cupcake, it was probably the greatest thing in the world. When I told Susan how surprised I was at the taste, she said that my reaction was not uncommon.
“Everything tastes normal,” she said. “That’s what everybody’s surprised at.”
To be honest, I didn’t eat one thing at the entire event that I didn’t like. And I DID try something from every table. Not to say there weren’t certain items I preferred over others, but as a whole, the event was a ‘sweet’ success.
Here is a list of some of my personal favorites:
Let me preface this by saying: I have never met a cupcake I didn’t like.
That being said, I have found the most delicious cupcakes I have ever tasted… and I’ve tasted a lot.
Just Cupcakes, owned by Chris Martin, is normally located in Central Market, where they offer a variety of different flavors and even different sizes (jumbo, regular or mini). For the event, they were paired up with the Swan Lake ballet, which will be performing in January. For her cupcakes, she had moist mini chocolate cupcakes, with a sweet butter cream frosting. And keeping with the theme, even managed to sculpt a few swans out of the frosting.
Victor’s Italian Restaurant
By the time I reached this table, I was grateful to see something not made of sugar. But in keeping with the theme, the chef made candy-shaped pasta, stuffed with mozzarella and provolone cheese in a pesto sauce with olives. It was the perfect thing to offset all the sweets I had eaten up until that point.
Providence Divine Cakes & Pastries
Some of the tables didn’t just focus on flavor, because after all, presentation is half the meal! Such was the case with Providence, which served squares of cheesecake, dipped in dark chocolate. On top was a decorative silver swirl which looked almost too good to eat… almost. But the real eye-catching appeal of this table, was the cake behind it. It looked like something right off of Ace of Cakes. It took center-stage. Literally.
I was quite impressed with the mix of foods available at this event, even though it was technically coined “A Dessert Spectacular.” The folks at Simply Soup, normally found in Central Market offered three different soup varieties to attendees. I tried the Cream of Shrimp, and must say… it was absolutely delectable. The owner, Kim Gross, said they have more than 60 soups which they switch out everyday they are open, but always serve a meat, seafood and/or vegetable option. The stand has been at Central Market for almost two years.
This is probably one of the tables I could have stayed at the longest, because I am a lover of cheese. Serving cheeses from around the world, along with fruit, all I needed was a glass of wine. My personal favorite: The Saint-Andre from France, which is a creamy cheese which has a buttery texture. Perfect to be spread on crackers. There was also a cheese infused with dill, which was also very good.
This table had by far the largest selection of food and also the longest line. Among other things, they offered sushi (a vegetarian roll and a mini California roll) as well as a warm brie dip, which was absolutely wonderful. I could have went back 10 times for more, but I figured I probably should leave some for the other people in line.
The Yorktowne Hotel
I figured I had to end the night with a dessert, since it was a dessert-based event. So I saved one of the prettiest desserts for last. The Yorktowne Hotel offered several sweet options, but the one that caught my eye was the peppermint patty, a mint mousse with chocolate. It was a great way to end the night.