Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Artery-clogging double whammy Sunday

I was bored. It was nice outside after a streak of unseasonably cold days. I decided to wander the East Village for awhile. That little excursion ended on 7th street between 1st and 2nd avenues. Why so far from the subway (the L train does not count) and recognizable bus routes? I found dinner and dessert on one block, made my purchases, and fled like I had just grabbed a fistful of twenties from a malfunctioning ATM machine.
Why an artery-clogging double whammy? Two words - porchetta, cupcakes. Note the comma in the preceding sentence, please. I am discussing two distinct items, not cupcakes made with porchetta. Although...
First stop, Porchetta for... porchetta. More precisely a porchetta sandwich, wrapped up to go in aluminum foil and then butcher paper. The aluminum foil makes sense because it keeps the pork warm. I see no purpose to the butcher paper other than old school charm. But nevermind all of that. Big chunks of pork, crispy bits of skin, plenty of seasoning (too much for me with some bites) all jammed into a dense yet soft mini-ciabatta-type roll. It was moist, it was delicious, even if it felt like I might have chipped a tooth after chomping down on an overly-crisped piece of skin. I debated getting a second sandwich to take for lunch the next day.
And so I left Porchetta, content but wanting more. Down the block was my second stop - Butter Lane. The line barely crept out onto the sidewalk. A chalkboard sign sat out in the middle of the sidewalk, touting the fact that some Food Network show had featured their cupcakes. I took my place in line and waited to at least make it into the store. Once inside, I noticed a list of cake and frosting selections. What is this? The mix-and-match approach (with some suggested combos) at a bakery? There were chocolate, vanilla and banana cakes. Then there are sixteen frostings from which to choose. SIXTEEN. Actually, fifteen because peanut butter was out. Before making my way to the front, I must have been told or heard secondhand that I could not order chocolate with peanut butter - the most popular variety. Another thing - they sell "frosting shots" and will give you one for free if you become a fan on Facebook using a netbook set up in the store. The line moves slowly, which gave me time to consider the size and makeup of my order. I decided on four cupcakes, two with vanilla cake and one each with chocolate and banana. I favored the cream cheese frosting, but was also tempted by burnt sugar, honey cinammon and grapefruit ginger. This being my first visit, I decided to play it safe and wait on the more creative choices. When I ordered a couple of cupcakes that were not already prepared, the person helping me went behind the display rack and iced a couple of cupcakes on the spot.
It took a great degree of self-control to wait until getting home before devouring one of these cupcakes. I went for banana with cream cheese frosting. The cake was moist and tasted like real banana, not some artificial banana flavoring. The frosting was ridiculous. If I had known it was going to be this good, I absolutely would have purchased several frosting shots just to see how the others measure up. A later experience with the chocolate-based cupcake was a little disappointing. Although the cake had the same moistness, it crumbled and half was lost to my floor. A seeming paradox, I know.
Just thinking about this experience, I feel that I should do some penance and go to the gym for two weeks straight. Or maybe just go back for those frosting shots...

Porchetta, 110 E. 7th Street (between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)

Butter Lane, 123 E.7th Street (also between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)


  1. how dare you go bingeing in the east village without me.

  2. call it recon work. i have no problem with making a return trip.