My sister completed her BFA and the exhibit was awesome. After a long afternoon of browsing the exhibit and hanging out we decided to head to the West Side Market for some shopping – little did I know that in the process I would find something remarkable (aside from the quality produce at low prices.) Lettuce, Celery, Apples, and Quince in hand we browsed the market further when we happened upon a little place called Grandma Freda’s – a little place with 8 great looking varieties of cupcakes, great prices (okay, at least compared to LA, SF, and NYC.) Assessing the varieties and opting for a 4-pack we paid the friendly young lady behind the counter and made our way out to Bar Cento for dinner – followed by a cupcake sampling.
The first cupcake sampled was the standard by which all cupcakes are judged – Red Velvet. Soft and moist cake, thick and creamy frosting – not quite perfect in terms of a cream-cheese frosting, but not sugary sweet either – a very adequate example that I’d put in my top 5 all time.
The second cupcake, Carrot, was exemplary and the first of three fantastic tastes. Thick and hearty with a much more impressive cream cheese frosting than the Red Velvet – hints of pineapple, walnuts, cinnamon, and whole raisins – not quite as excellent as the Carrot Muffie at Bouchon, but damned good.
The third cupcake, German Chocolate, was absolutely fantastic and my sister’s favorite of the group. Once again, perfectly moist cake with strong base-notes of cocoa but subtle accents of coconut – this time complimented wonderfully by a thick and creamy coconut/pecan frosting – decadent and delicious.
The fourth cupcake, the show-stealer for myself, was entitled Peanut Butter and Jelly. With a dense cake that quite literally tasted like 50% Peanut Butter and 50% Flour I was already impressed, but then completing this masterpiece was the inch think topping of peanut butter/butter cream and strawberry jelly that tasted like the middle of a nutter-butter but better. Admittedly quite filling, but absolutely a must buy and vastly better than the PB+J cupcakes at Yummy.
Without over-exaggerating, I’ve tried cupcakes from at least 20 different places in my time – including the famous Sprinkles, Magnolia, Yummy, and Crumbs as well as other specialty cupcakes like Keller’s at Bouchon – while I still rank Keller’s Red Velvet as the best cupcake of all time, on the whole I’d rank Grandma Freda’s as “best overall collection.” Sure, they probably aren’t as ‘healthy’ or ‘pure’ as Kara’s or others, but if I want health food I’m not shopping for cupcakes anyhow! Cheers Grandma Freda, real men love cupcakes and I must admit I’m quite fond of you.