Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Sifting Through the Cupcake Flavors

NAPA, Calif.
I’m always on the lookout for new cupcake stores, so when I read about the new Sift Cupcakery that opened a month ago in Napa, I squeezed in a visit during my recent road trip up to wine country.

The company started out with a store in Sonoma County (in Cotati to be specific) and opened up in downtown Napa recently, right on Main Street. But it can be a bit confusing when you walk in because it’s not entirely a cupcake store. Sift Cupcakery shares space with a clothing store. It looks like the same owner, but I wonder how they can keep the kids who buy cupcakes from strolling around the store and NOT get icing on all the pretty dresses.

The cupcakes are near the entrance to the right as you walk in. It’s really an odd setup because it looks like an afterthought. Anywho, one thing you get right off the bat with Sift is that they have crazy fun with their flavors.

I’m talking about cupcakes with names like Knock Your Sox Off (Boston cream pie-inspired), Pinking of You (vanilla cake with pink frosting), Ooh La La (red velvet with cream cheese frosting) The Sky is Falling! (chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse) and Irish Car Bomb (chocolate Guinness cake with Irish cream frosting).

Because I was kind of full from my breakfast treats at Bouchon Bakery, I only bought one cupcake—the Key Lime Bliss ($2.75), just because I love citrus flavors and it looked so lime green it reminded me of a margarita. And who can resist a margarita?

The Key Lime consists of a vanilla cupcake with a green key lime filling topped off by the electric lime-colored mousse frosting and a tiny lime pate de fruit. I bit into the cupcake and the first thing I noticed was the odd gummy texture of the mousse on top. It was almost like eating that green slime they have at the Kids Choice Awards, but thicker. (Disclaimer: I never ate slime but imagined if I did it would taste like something gummy.)

The cake itself was just OK, not necessarily very moist. And the key lime filling had such an odd green color that it became unappetizing. I should note that the Key Lime cupcake was one of those sold in the refrigerated section because of the key lime filling, so that might have something to do with the cake’s texture being a bit denser.

Still, I was disappointed. I know I just tried one cupcake, but it was so off that I just didn’t feel the urge to make another attempt later in the day. Everything about the Key Lime tasted so fake that I just didn’t want to put myself through it again.

I think Sift has an appeal to a certain demographic, mainly kids who love cupcakes with wacky colors. I’d rather just walk up the street and check whether Ubuntu is making its cupcakes, which are more my style.

Sift Cupcakery, 1000 Main St., Napa. PH: 707.240.4004. www.siftcupcakery.com


foodhoe said...

yuck! that's too bad because the names of the cupcakes sounded so cool and they look delicious with the heaping mounds of frosting on top... I don't like slime, which is why I'm not sure about froth since it looks like bubbly slime.

Jenster said...

It's terribly disappointing when a bakery pays more attention to appearances than to taste. And with "gourmet" cupcakes being so popular now, I've noticed that trend quite a bit.

There are still amazingly good cupcakes out there, but they're kind of hidden among the mediocre ones.

I love your photos, by the way.

Carolyn Jung said...

Oh, refrigerated cupcakes definitely will take on a gummier texture. If Deannie Fox at Ubuntu is making cupcakes, I will be the first in line. When she was pastry chef at Manresa, her creations were like upscale comfort. ;)

Anonymous said...

I know it has been a while. But if you're ever in wine country, try Moustache Baked Goods in Healdsburg. It's a one year old store that has already gained much appreciation from 7x7 magazine and won many local competitions, beating Sift!