beatrix part two: of guinea pigs, nursery rhymes and cupcakes

Today we are honored to welcome a very special guest to Alphabet Soup: the one and only Amiable Guinea-pig!

After reading and reviewing Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig by Deborah Hopkinson and Charlotte Voake (Schwartz & Wade, 2016), we felt a tasty homage to this dapper little fellow was definitely in order.

Peter Rabbit gets a lot of attention, as does Miss Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Jeremy Fisher, Tom Kitten and Squirrel Nutkin. In fact, they all have their own little books written about them. But not the Amiable one, who was actually the first guinea pig in Miss Potter’s work. She wrote a clever limerick about him that appeared in Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes (1917).

But one limerick does not a book make. Wouldn’t you feel a little slighted? To add insult to injury, initially Miss Potter’s publisher Frederick Warne & Co. wasn’t that keen on the Appley Dapply rhyme collection, which she had hoped to publish following the release of The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902.

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foodie field trip: sprinkles cupcakes in georgetown

Let’s talk cupcakes!

This past weekend, I tried six, count ’em, six, different cupcake flavors at the new Sprinkles in Georgetown. I’d been wanting to try them ever since the Spring of 2010, when I first began pigging out researching cupcakes and learned Sprinkles was the first shop of its kind in the world.

Before Sprinkles opened in the DC area in March (first one on the East Coast), I’d read about how Candace and Charles Nelson gave up their high power investment banking careers to open their original cupcake-only boutique bakery in Beverly Hills. Of course, seeing Candace as a judge on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars just made me curiouser and curiouser.

Just how good could her cupcakes be, that the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Katie Holmes and Barbra Streisand just can’t get enough of them? And, to sweeten the batter a bit more, how would Sprinkles fare and compare, plunking themselves smack dab in the middle of  Georgetown Cupcake territory?

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♥ macarons: love at first bite ♥

      Nelle coveting the box.

I’d been hearing people rave about macarons on food blogs for months on end.

I read about the intense passion, the pilgrimmages to Paris pâtisseries, the unprecedented cultish status of this French sandwich cookie, and I thought, "how good could it possibly be?"

Well, now I know.

Look at me! Yesterday, an innocent child chasing cupcakes. Today, a sophisticated mademoiselle of meringue! My eyelids are fluttering, my pulse ever quickens, my face flushes at the thought of yet another sweet encounter.

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a little pastry sampler from dorie greenspan’s paris sweets

“For anyone who loves pastry, Paris is the center of the universe. Not only can you find a pâtisserie or boulangerie on every street, but the odds are tremendously in your favor that you’ll find a good, perhaps great, pastry or bread shop, and that it will turn up just when you most need a buttery croissant or a bittersweet chocolate cookie. Like sidewalk cafés, street-corner kiosks, and every famous monument from the Eiffel Tower to Sacré-Coeur, pâtisseries are part of what makes food lovers, bon vivants, and romantics cherish Paris.” ~ Dorie Greenspan, Paris Sweets

 photo of Dorie at the ALA Convention, June 2010 (ALA photostream).


Mais, oui! Enchanting deliciousness around every corner.

Ladurée pastry by w_a_b.

Breathtakingly beautiful pastries, jewel-like in their precision and artistry, beckon from bakery shop windows. Each bite a little ecstasy, connecting you to the most magnificent baking tradition in the world. Sigh.

If you cannot go to Paris just now, let Paris come to you in Paris Sweets: Great Desserts from the City’s Best Pastry Shops, by inimitable food writer, editor and cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan.

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a prisoner of cakelove, or, i force myself to eat more cupcakes just for you

CakeLove storefront at Fair Oaks Mall, Fairfax, VA.

After meeting the man, it was time to meet his cakes.



They called to me, those sassy-sweet sugar sirens, from a little corner of Fair Oaks Mall, located just a few minutes from home. The newest location is a small storefront, but equally as dangerous as any of the CakeLove walk-in bakeries farther away.

Let’s say you’re at the Mall, happy with your own cute self, dutifully minding your own business, when you happen to stroll by this innocent-looking display case.

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