The Ever-Salacious LGFats and I troll about Orange’s traffic circle. He’s looking to show me some of his antiquing finds that he won’t buy, and I’m looking to not waste an entire day after having missed the train to LA. And it’s the day before my detoxification process begins. I can already feel the pangs of despair brought on by withdrawal. We walk along Glassel. “What do you think about old theaters being used as churches? What do you think that says about religion?” he asks. “Religion is entertainment,” I say as I think about West Coast on Main and Son Light here on Glassel. “Religion seems to be supplanting entertainment venues,” he says, “is that because we’ve taken entertainment into the home?”
In my days of old I could fast up to three weeks, only subsisting on prayer and water. I had all the fire and zealousness that is to be expected of a born-again looking to be a pastor someday. Today, I think that entertainment and religion are identical. And I feel the effects of cold turkey before I even quit living. But before I turn myself over to the detox gods for my one hundred and sixty-eight hour penance, I find myself across the street from the Son Light where the Perfect Circle Cupcakery is just opening up for the day.
The decor is a homage to Breakfast at Tiff’s, and Paris. Eggshell blue dominates the color scheme while black and white add a classic touch. And wrought iron throughout the shop provides a certain feel of nobility. I appreciate their attention to detail, but ultimately the place is just overdone. They could have done without the piping on the sofa seating; the tassle-balls remind me of whoredom; the diamond-hung canvas on the wall, a big no-no. But the place has whimsy and they seem to be marketing themselves to orange county chicks that idolize all that chickdom has to offer. So let it be. Let them have their gender-reinforcing marketing, and somewhat overdone store. …I’m here for cupcakes.
Cupcakes for the day are: Snickerdoodle, The Princess (Vanilla), The Queen (Red Velvet), Old Town Orange, Sweet Joe, Vanilla Peppermint, and Coconut Bliss.
I order The Princess, The Queen, and Coconut Bliss. A threesome to be reckoned with.
“The Princess (Vanilla)”
Crumb: The flavor is straight up white cake; nothing complex, nothing special, just white cake. The crumb is stable, loose and slightly moist.
Frosting: The vanilla-ness of The Princess comes from the frosting. It has a heavy vanilla flavor, it has a graininess to it, and it’s just too sweet for my palate. I find that it is easy to mask deficiencies in sweet products by just amping up that sweetness factor. But that’s not necessarily what’s going on with The Princess. It’s edible, even enjoyable, but it’s not poetry; vanilla and sugar compete for attention, eventually sugar wins out.
Overall: Instead of complementing each other, the frosting just overpowers any flavor in the crumb. While I find the frosting just too sweet, I do enjoy the combination of the crumb and frosting. I’m not sure what’s going on with the graininess in the frosting though; in the end it just masturbates the sensation of sweetness. The Perfect Cricle has a pretty solid representation of a crumb though. If I order this again, I’ll scrape off at least half of the frosting. I have no doubt, however, that princesses (ages 5 and up) might enjoy these sweet little cupcakes while on their way to complete genderdom. Viva l’anti-feminismus!
Crumb: This is the same crumb as The Princess. It’s loose, stable, slightly moist, and I might even call it delicate. Flavorwise, it’s just straight up white cake.
Frosting: Just like the previous cupcake, Coconut Bliss gets it coconut-ness from the frosting. Topped with coconut shavings, the frosting is coconut flavored and slightly grainy, and is still a little too sweet for my palate.
Overall: The coconut shavings add to the texture complexity. The frosting does not totally over-power the crumb like in The Princess. Rather, the crumb and frosting work in tandem: the coconut frosting sings (instead of screams), the crumb in the background harmonizes, and the shavings add a little something extra. While this is not my flavor of choice, I think those who delight in coco-sweets might enjoy these.
“The Queen (Red Velvet),” the li’l dude on the left
Crumb: The crumb here is moist, tighter than the other two, and spongey. It is stable and delicate. The color of the crumb is deep-red hued brown, and very aesthetically pleasing. The flavor is complex and phucking awesome: chocolate slowly ascends to the surface of the palate.
Frosting: The frosting is anchored in creamed cheese land. ( A land whose border-fence I’ll hop just to get in to, anytime.) It’s sweetness level teases the palate into taking another bite, and another. Like the other cupcakes, this one is hand-frosted, but this one wasn’t frosted while someone was chanting, “more is better.” The layer is thinner than the others’, delicate, and very good.
Overall: This cupcake is poetry–a ballad if you will. At first only the frosting comes through, a mellow creamed cheese sweet sensation enrobing your mouth with decadence. Then, as the creamed cheese frosting fades, the chocolate in the crumb rises to the surface, complementing the fleeting flavor of sweet creamed cheese. The cupcake fills your mouth with complexity and spongeyness, resulting in an experience that compares with having a fine IPA or wine. This is a very good cupcake.
After sitting and talking cupcake over coffee with the Ever-Salacious LGFats, I decide to go in for one more. I must try their interpretation of what Old Town is all about … .
“Old Town Orange”
Crumb: White cake makes an appearance again. But this crumb, for some unknown reason (perhaps the sugar is getting to me already), seems a little tighter than it did in the Vanilla and Coconut. Nonetheless, it’s moist, spongey, and delicate.
Frosting: This frosting is bold; sweetness comes through somewhere towards the end of a bite, while it proclaims vanilla and orange the whole way through. It’s topped with a candy that should a piece of candied orange, but is not. It’s merely a piece of sugar (that is supposed to look like an orange slice) from some bucket of candy; there’s nothing artisanal about it, and the cupcake is only cheapened with this little orange bugger sitting atop it.
Overall: Where the Red Velvet was a ballad, the Old Town Orange is a pop song that sings, “Vanilla Orange Creamsicle.” This delicious cupcake takes me back to my childhood: the icecream truck slowly rumbling down the far end of Fernglen Avenue, my spidey senses picking up on it, me acrobatically jumping over furniture and bolting towards the door, while nimbly swiping a dollar from mom’s purse. “Be right back,” I call out. I’m out the door, over the frontyard fence, and running down Fernglen to meet god, the icecream man. Twenty years later I’m sitting in an over-done cupcakerie, and Old Town Orange brings back these memories in a whirl. Yum. The Perfect Circle Cupcakery has done a marvelous job with this cupcake.
I leave the store caffeinated and already crashing from sugar. Tomorrow detox begins.
The Perfect Circle Cupcakery, 165 North Glassel, Orange, CA, 714-997-CAKE; no regular hours until they have their grand opening; grand opening is on Feb 1st. Cupcakes are $3 a pop.