Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How sweet it is...

This sign says...bloomingdales.

Oh yes, it does. See the font? It's the same. Writen right to left. That first letter on the right is a baa which makes the "b" sound and then there's a laam...I think, and then the next two make the ooh sound..oh, for crying out loud, it's above the just-opened, long awaited store next to the sign in English. My Arabic is pathetic, but I'm pretty sure they got it right.

Now, some of you out there might wonder if perhaps you don't know me after all. You are wondering, is she truly excited about Bloomingdales opening in Dubai? She's not exactly a clothes horse...

This is true.

(OK, I did go see if they have those cute cotton panties that cheekily say "bloomies" across the, well, cheeks, and I will go thorough hell and earth for the right, probably geeky, T-shirt. Can't be denied.)

Why, then, you ask, did I have my non-bloomies panties in a bunch to get out there?

Inside the store is a branch of the legendary NYC Magnolia Bakery

and HERE is an ultimate truth about this girl:

Big time.

Like Captain Ahab, I venture forth in search of my own personal version of the elusive white whale. There's no revenge involved, though the levels of desperation and insanity could be argued.

The search for the perfect cupcake.

Here in Dubai I have tried Kitch Cupcakes, Sugar Daddy, the Cake Bar, bakeries, caf├ęs , and so forth. Rare is the cupcake in Dubai that has escaped my clutches. In my near-holy quest (so it's more Monty Python than Crusade, so sue me) I have yet to find one that rivals Seattle's Cupcake Royale or (in hushed tones of reverence, please) Trophy Cupcakes.

Drat, drooled on the keyboard again.

I hate that.

(Here is Trophy's website if your computer keyboard is relatively inadvertant salivation-proof: You'll see what I mean.)

It's a sad, sad day for the intrepid adventurers when the cake is dense, or the icing far too sweet, or ugh, made with substandard ingredients, or they want how much for a cupcake, again?! I haven't found that one cupcake place I simply can't resist, that perfect little bit of sweetness and indulgence that makes me weak at the knees. But we persist in searching.

The human spirit, the siren call of discovery and adventure cannot be denied, thus Thomas and I press on, undaunted.

enticing display of teas at Bloomingdales, Dubai

In this spirit, my little comrade in arms and I went on a sweet expedition to the Dubai Mall to track down the Magnolia Cupcake (sp. cupcakus sexinthecityum tastii).

Going to the Dubai Mall means you should pack comfy shoes (no Jimmy Choos or Manolo Blahniks...they have shops within crawling distance of Bloomingdales there should the Carrie Bradshaw need strike...thank God I am immune to such obsessions), and plan on about half an hour from getting into your car in the parking lot to emerging out onto the street when you try to leave, such is the magnitude of this mall.

In New York City people stand in long lines to try these cupcakes. I'm not willing to stand in a line for cupcakes. Well, maybe a little one, no more than 8 people ahead of me and only if the staff are quick...where was I again?

Oh yes, anyway, we got there in the morning on a weekday and there were no lines. Just the beautiful storefront, friendly staff, and cupcakes.

I was a little bit surprised that there were exactly 4 flavors. Vanilla with vanilla or chocolate frosting, or chocolate with vanilla or chocolate icing. I had intended to get a vanilla regardless, since that is the true taste test in my opinion, but I'd also skimped on breakfast, thinking there might be a few flavors I simply couldn't choose between and oh darn I would have had to get a few....maybe pretend to take them home like a reasoned person but actually, in all likelyhood, gleefully eat them in the car with Thomas.

Nope. Just four flavors, so we got one chocolate and one vanilla. With sprinkles.

Oh well. The sprinkles made up for a lot. Though I had been secretly hoping for a lavender lemon cupcake...or a chai tea cupcake...

A girl's gotta dream.

The two of us sat by a fountain near the ice cream parlor (apparently the frozen yogurt is another huge draw for foodies) to enjoy the spoils of the mission.

As an aside, did you know the British call them fairy cakes? Isn't that lovely?

These were.

The vanilla, well, it was divine, and at 10 AED the best priced cake I've encountered in Dubai. Not worth waiting in a huge line for, nor braving the mall for...not exclusively, anyway, but definitely worth stopping for. Mmm. We whacked our two cakes in half to share. I realised very quickly that I was breaking some sort of universal directive and went back to get coffee to go with my cupcake.

Behind the counter, debating the merits of having plates ready to put the cakes upon or to assemble them individually as the orders were being filled, was a gal about my age with an American accent and huge flower tatoo on her arm.

Being the quiet, reserved type, I asked "you have a Magnolia tattooed there...are you some sort of cooking celebrity from New York?" She smiled, "No, it's a Rhododendron."

I jumped up and down a little. "Are you from Washington State?!" (the Rhodie is our State flower, and yes, I am probably a total geek for knowing that one).

We both jumped up and down and Elizabeth from Centralia introduced herself. The South African and Fillipina staff members looked on, bemused. The two of us went on and on and ON about the Country Cousins Restaurant just off I-5 in her hometown, which Mike and I both consider a sin to drive past without going in and having chicken fried steak, at a minimum. Sisters in Foodie-ness, worshiping at the same church of...well, whatever it is.

I was going to have plain coffee, but who would say no to a latte personally foamed by a fellow Pacific Northwesterner?

Not I.

Thomas, eating sprinkles

High from the encounter, I devoured every crumb, bought myself the above tshirt, and felt pretty darned good about the world in general.

Bloomingdales display and Thomas (with his little stuffed doggie Zaki) good.


Cathy O. said...

We really do live parallel lives sometimes, my friend. For Tyler's b-day and Alex's half b-day over the past week, I sent in cupcakes~ vanilla with vanilla frosting, from this recipe:

And they were DIVINE!

Natalie said...

This link to the recipe lands us squarely in DEFCON 2 territory. Lordy, did you see how much butter is in those? No wonder they're so tasty. Filing this along with Pioneer Woman's recipes under "DANGEROUS".

Joanna said...

Hmmm ... I was just telling my lab partner about Cupcake Royale and Trophy tonight. That's the trouble with classes at dinner time. Anyway, glad you found a decent cupcake!

Tanya said...

Im not a cake (eating) person myself...the icing on the other hand..mmmm....We have just got ourselves a real cake shop here in the Penh (as opposed to the artificially everything masquerading as cake the Khmer love) and even better its a social more excuses needed!
Kudos on the serendipidous moment finding native kin AND a cupcake lover too!!

*Paula* said...

LOL Natalie - I think this might be my favorite entry of yours. You are going to make this blog into a book, aren't you? The cupcakes certainly don't look as amazing as those Trophy ones you linked but I'm sure they were delicious. In my opinion queen cakes or fairy cakes are not quite the same as cupcakes (although they are the same size) - the yellow cakes in Ireland and England tend to be denser than those in the US. OOh! There's a new place here called "Shot Cakes" -- where they fill cupcakes with ice-cream. That's *my* kind of cupcake! Check it out:

Marc said...

When I make it to Dubai one day...
I would rather eat the camel burger then the cupcake.
Bloomies in arabic is just not jiving with me ;-)


Julia said...

Did you notice on the Trophy cupcake site that not only do they have a chocolate raspberry ganache cupcake but they also said that it was entirely possible (and probably popular)to have five dozen pink flower cupcakes with edible glitter and ballerinas for your birthday girl's party.

Wouldn't Bethy absolutely flip? Can I be invited?

Jolie-Anne said...

I love the idea of Thomas as your intrepid comrade in arms. Very precious.

Natalie said...

I had more fun reading your comments and following the links on guys rock! Thanks so much!!!

Sariya said...

10 dhs cupcakes at Bloomingdales (btw, the Arabic spelling reads "BloominGHdeelz" with extra glottal in the middle!) is not too shabby! We'll have to hit that and think of you ;) BTW, I must share my nemesis: Beard Papa's cream puffs ... had them all over Singapore and I regret I didn't tell you about them!
Oh ... my ... yummers ...

Natalie said...

@ Sariya: That's so funny! I gave up my sad attempts at translation because I was looking for the Arabic letter 'siin' at the end of "bloomingdales" and didn't see it. OK, so that's a 'zaay'; swoop with a dot, looks like a backwards! Got it!

Thank you for NOT telling me about the puffs. :) Although you should...I would have brought some back for you.

sherrip said...


There's now a Trophy in Bellevue. So next time we're looking for cupcakes on the Eastside, we have a place to go! Next time :(

Friendly Neighborhood Librarian said...

I second the comment on this turning into a book. I enjoy reading your adventures so much!

I thought sure that when you went back to get coffee and met the sister-Washingtonian, you were going to get back and find that Thomas had eaten all the cupcakes.

What a good little boy he is!