HONK! FESTIVAL AND OKTOBERFEST
KICKASS CUPCAKES, THE UPPER CRUST, SWEET CUPCAKES
Ah, Columbus Day weekend! It makes for a nice little rest stop after a month of school and makes the cold, inexorable trudge toward Thanksgiving a little more bearable. The various towns held festivals to celebrate the holiday. Davis Square played host to the Honk! Festival on Saturday night, while Harvard Square held Oktoberfest. Why am I writing about this? Because it proved to be a rather eventful culinary expedition! So read onward, brave reader, and see what’s in store for ye! (That was my generic pirate voice, just FYI).
How many times have you seen a random street performer and wondered, “Gee, that guitarist/trombonist/accordionist is mildly good.” Well, Davis Square’s Honk! Festival brings all of those lone performers together. Each parking lot and open plaza becomes a makeshift stage for these sketchy musicians and a dance floor for the even sketchier audience. Now, I use the term “musician” rather lightly, and I mean “music” in the loosest sense of the word.
Remember the end of “Easy Rider,” when Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda finally make it to Marti Gras but drop some really bad acid? That’s kind of like what it was like walking about the insanely crowded streets of Davis that night. We walked about, aurally and visually taking in the bizarre setting. The dissonance created by this amalgamation of eccentric street performers gave Davis Square a sort of symphonic schizophrenia.
A sense of claustrophobia began to overwhelm us, so my friends and I sought shelter in Kickass Cupcakes. My friend Rob and I both ordered deep fried cupcakes, but just like the acid in “Rider,” the cupcakes proved to be a frightening endeavor. The dish starts with a plain vanilla cupcake, dipped in batter and then deep-fried. It is served in a paper cup along with some chocolate syrup and some whipped cream. This sounds good on paper, but wasn’t. The cake was bland and the syrup tasted cheap and artifical, like Hershey’s. This was such a disappointment given the sophisticated flavors they normally offer. I mean, Kickass offers rum soaked cakes and raspberry champagne fillings! The worst part: the cupcake was fried poorly, so it was literally sopping with oil. I expected a little crispiness to the edges, but no. It was like eating a sponge. Moral to the story: never order a fried cupcake from Kickass. And, Kickass, do us all a favor and retire the fryer.
Today was Oktoberfest in Harvard Square. I’ve never seen Harvard Square so crowded! It was super-intense. While some people go for the parade, I went for the food. I was craving one of those quintessential Italian sausages, but my cohorts and I ended up getting some pizza. The Upper Crust had pizza by the slice, so we stopped by their kiosk. They had set up two industrial-size ovens, which birthed pizzas of four different varieties—Cheese, Chicken Pesto, Peppers and Mushroom, and Pepperoni. I got a slice of the Pesto Chicken and left impressed. The thick sauce was chunky from all the tomatoes. Like any true St. Louisan, I firmly believe that the thinner the crust, the better the pizza. Crust’s crust delivered, serving a pizza with a crisp thin crust that allowed the sauce and toppings to shine. After checking out their website (which enumerates their toppings, from ricotta to scallops), I’m quite sure that my search for the perfect pizza is over.
The traumatizing experience I had at Kickass on Saturday left me determined to revitalize my love for cupcakes. So to Sweet we went! Alas, they were once again out of that ever-elusive red velvet cupcake. I settled for a Molasses Ginger and a Chocolate Orange. You already know how great the Molasses Ginger is, but the Orange was new. I made some Orangettes over the summer, so I’m pretty familiar with the chocolate/citrus combination. The cake was a nice dark chocolate. Whether intended or not, there were tiny bits of chocolate in the cake, almost like chocolate chips, that I really enjoyed. The vanilla bean buttercream infused with “fresh sweet citrus flavor” was tasty, but wasn’t citrusy enough for my liking. If I wanted a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, I’d have ordered that. But I wanted the Chocolate ORANGE cupcake! A Gran Marnier buttercream might’ve been nicer. The cake was topped with one of those candy orange slices. While it looked kind of nice, I thought it really cheapened the cupcake. I mean, I buy those fruit slices at Walgreens. It totally goes against the “Madagascan-Vanilla-Bean-Buttercream-infused-with-citrus” vibe that the rest of the cupcake gives off. I’m not a snoot, but if you’re going for sophistication, then please be consistent. Maybe some candied orange zest
On the whole, a pretty intense weekend. But I still have one day left! The blog has slowly veered into restaurant territory, but I promise to actually make something in the next post.