Sunday, May 30, 2010

Oakdale Chocolate Festival | Oakdale, CA

During the third week of May, the City of Oakdale comes alive with its annual Chocolate Festival celebration. Approximately 25,000 visitors descend upon this relatively sleepy town to partake in the many different ways to enjoy this sugary confection, including handmade fudge, chocolate-covered caramel apples, chocolate-dipped frozen fruits, and chocolate-candied sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and pecans.

And there's much to do around the festival grounds. For example, my son's favorite activity of the day was learning from a real prospector how to pan for gold, while my daughter especially enjoyed the thrills of the carnival rides and thumbing through the arts-and-crafts displays. Oh, and let's not forget about the live music and the classic car showcase.

The City of Oakdale was founded in 1871 when the Stockton & Visalia Railroad met the Copperopolis Railroad. Oakdale goes by the slogan "Cowboy Capital of the World." Its place in chocolate history began in 1965 when the city became the home to a satellite plant of Hershey Chocolate. Although the plant closed in January 2008, the festival remains an extremely popular event for tourists and the Oakdale population alike.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cupcake Royale | Seattle, WA

Do you believe in serendipity (a.k.a. "happy accidents)? Let me paint the picture … One early evening, we were walking with my wife's cousin and her husband through Seattle's Capitol Hill district, which is known for its art, theater, music, and unique eateries. Before too long, we stumbled upon a stream of people who were going in and out of a quaint storefront on E. Pike Street. Looking through the glass window, we were instantly hypnotized by the frosted gems behind the counter. Next thing we knew, we took our first steps inside Cupcake Royale, home to the city's "best sugary confection with a conscious" according to Edible Seattle and Pacific NW Magazine.

Boasting a varied menu of chocolate and vanilla cakes and three specialty cakes, Cupcake Royale makes its products from local ingredients, and does so while singing the praises of recycle and reuse. For example, they only use packaging and serving materials that are biodegradable and use an alternative bio-diesel fuel to make their delivery van go. I know what you're thinking, who cares? Tell us more about the cupcakes! During our visit, we tried the lemon drop, the coconut bunny, and the salted caramel. But there are so much more including the red velvet, the royale with cheese, and the peppermint party. Each one is moist, slightly crumbly, and delicate to the taste, meaning that the flavors are not overwhelming. Kudos to owner Jody Hall and her staff for not only making a cupcake "that grandma used to," but also doing it in a way "to help the world be a better place."

Cupcake Royale
1111 E. Pike Street
Seattle, WA 98112

Out of the Kitchen Seattle restaurants