Celluloid Pictures of Living

For the most part, as tends to happen, the so-called end of glam didn’t really mean the end of glam. Whilst it’s not as visible and obvious a genre as it was in its heyday, it has left its glittery fingerprints on the world. As you might guess, we’re not sad about that. However, we’ve got some things we wish had stuck around more visibly or changes we wish glam had more effectively made on this pale blue dot of a planet.

Amber’s Top Five

  • David Bowie (then) and Tilda Swinton (now), with matching adrogynous looksMakeup on males (and not just in the context of goths or performers). Yeah, I might have a thing for that…
  • Fewer societally-imposed hangups about gender (especially about whether something is a boy thing or a girl thing). Like it? Then wear it or do it or be it, societal constructs be damned.
  • Rockstars with alien personae. Maybe, if you could just admit it’s a persona, you could be more fun outside of work. Just, y’know, don’t forget who you really are…
  • The abolishment of “guilty pleasures” in favour of just owning your pleasures, hedonism optional.
  • Fewer people who think that becoming an adult means giving up on the magic and mystery in life. (But, if you’re done with your magic and mystery, I’ll take it. I’ve got a hoard!)

Cat’s Top Five


  • Thought put into elaborate presentation of music.  I’m all for a stripped down studio session–some of the best musical experiences come from that–but there’s something to be said for bands that put forethought into how people will view/interact with the music.  As an experience, not just entertainment.  And yes, I know that dumb ol’ Kanye West is trying to bring the artistic vision back into the music, but his just drag on and on and ooonnn.  We covered that in our intro.  But other than that, in general, bring on the sets, the costumes the pathos!  I want production!
  • The glam rock attitude.  You know, that attitude that says “I am what I am, and you can shove it.”  The attitude that is so similar to punk, but with added layers of magic and art, and somehow an even deeper level of not giving a fig what other people think.  Punk is in your face.  Glam is outside the sphere, so far away from caring about your face that the faceness doesn’t even register.
  • Danceable songs.  A show without dancing–or music you can dance to–is barely a show at all.
  • The mythologies.  This is along the same lines as alien persona, but wider.  An act, album, or tour that surrounds around an elaborate history created for the music and the person.  It adds an art to the experience that makes it even more immersive for the giddy fans.
  • The acceptance of magic within reality.  Amber said it best, but keeping not just a sense of wonder but the practice of wonder, the active implementation of magic, is something we could use more of today.

Sweet, Merciful Moderation

You may recall from last week that our first cupcake outing was…somewhat daunting. So you can imagine our relief when our trip to Trophy Cupcakes involved only one cupcake of the month. Of course, given the paranoia induced by our previous Really Smart Outing, we bought a lovely and light lemon cupcake to share afterwards. Just in case our tastebuds needed rescue.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry

Trophy Cupcake: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake

Available daily through February

Valrhona Chocolate • Raspberry Buttercream Filling • Belgian Chocolate Ganache

Our Valrhona Cupcake is filled with Raspberry Buttercream then dipped in bittersweet Belgian chocolate ganache and topped with a pretty red heart. Nothing says “I Love You” like Dark Belgian Chocolate and Raspberries!

Amber: What I’m about to say is meant in the best possible way. Understand that Trophy Cupcakes is, to my mouth, as good a cupcake as Cupcake Royale, but they’re different. They’re smaller and denser, which is sometimes exactly what I want. Their frosting tends to be a lighter texture (not applicable to ganache, like we got this month). But they have the same high quality of ingredients and tendency towards excellent taste that Cupcake Royale has. Keep that in mind for the next sentence. This cupcake tastes like an expensive and high quality version of a Hostess cupcake, but the cream filling is raspberry flavoured. Which means that I ate with eager and childish delight. The only thing I’d change is that I’d want more cream filling. I always want more cream filling. (See picture proof that my desire for more cream filling might not be reasonable.) This straightforward beauty has made my mouth fall in love with cupcakes again, something I was worried about after the assault by cupcake earlier this month.Creamy cupcake inside

Cat: I was incredibly skittish going into this cupcake experience.  The last taste day had left my mouth wounded, broken, unable to look chocolate in the eye. Seeing that this cupcake had a dark ganache and a fruit filling (a.k.a. the bane of any dessert), I thought “not my bag.”

I thought wrong.

Yes, the ganache was dark, but it was thin and perfectly complemented by the raspberry cream filling.  That filling.  That’s the way to put fruit flavor in a dessert.  A way that’s light, whipped, and creamy.  Not gelatinous goop, but airy creaminess that makes your tongue float.  This was the cupcake that made everything else OK.  It healed my wounds.  I want to eat sheets of the ganache and bathe in the filling.  Thanks for the new fantasy, cupcake.

Oh, the Cake-manity!

One of the things we like best about this world is its food. I mean, we like other things, but we knew immediately that we were going to need to make our “goal” to try the monthly cupcake flavours at two local shops that are sort of The Big Deal in cupcakes part of what we talked about in this blog. We don’t want to come off as completely hating this world. So, every month, we’re going to have (at the very least) posts for the monthly cupcake flavours at Cupcake Royale and Trophy Cupcakes.

By some great twist of fate, our very first month is a month where Cupcake Royale has five special cupcakes and another special individual-sized cake. Those of you who hate Valentine’s Day must at least acknowledge that, given it has caused this excess of cupcakes and the Deathcake Royale, the day is not entirely without merits. Because they make quality cupcakes and because we are ridiculous, we made the stellar and mature decision to try all five special flavours and the Deathcake in one sitting. Okay, maybe the most mature decision in this outing was to share cupcakes instead of eating five whole cupcakes, and a Deathcake, each. (Hurrah for the lady behind the counter for labelling things well for us! And for suggesting we also get some water…Not pictured.)

All our cupcakes and the Deathcake on our tableAre you ready for this? We thought we were….Here’s what we ate, in the order in which we ate…

(We’ll start each of the bits below with the picture and description of the cupcake from the Cupcake Royale site. And then we’ll tell you what we thought based on notes we wrote in the moment. No credit for the professional pictures goes to us. Definitely not.)

Caramelized White Chocolate

Caramelized White Chocolate cupcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29th – Feb 28th.

“We’ve done it, we’ve caramelized white chocolate and, man, is it GOOD! Vanilla cake filled with a salted caramel sauce + whipped cream cheese frosting + caramelized Vahlrona white chocolate crumbles.”

Amber: Light, not too cloying or sweet. Both the caramel and the white chocolate flavours are subtle and the caramel filling is perfectly soft. The frosting is so light and airy, in spite of being creamy. This might be what clouds in Heaven taste like…

Cat: This had me from the beginning. Say caramel, and I’m there. Add salt to that descriptor? Why isn’t this already in my mouth. But it’s the top that makes this cake. Lightest. Frosting. Ever. The cake itself is solid, your basic delicious morsel, but it’s the whipped frosting and gentle softball-stage caramel in the middle that makes this an amazing cupcake.

Malted Milk Chocolate

Malted Milk Chocolate cupcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29th – Feb 28th.

“Vanilla cupcake with chunks of milk chocolate topped with Theo malted milk chocolate buttercream + housemade malted meringue.”

Amber: As with any Cupcake Royale cupcake, the texture is moist and awesome. And this is a tasty cupcake, but the only malt appears to be in the frosting. And I would probably like this more if I had extra frosting.

Cat: Nothing gave this away as malt before I tried it. There was no smell, no obvious crumbs or chunks in the cake, and that was the first warning sign. All the malt flavor was manifest in the crumbled malt bits on top and some slight flavor gently folded into the frosting. The rest of the flavor was from the milk chocolate chunks. Good quality chocolate, but I expect to drown in the taste of Whoppers when I eat something malted, not to be grasping for flavor.


Chocolate Dipped Strawberry

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry cupcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29th – Feb 28th.

“We’ve combined two of our favorite desserts to create the Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Cupcake.  Chocolate cake filled with fresh local strawberry compote and topped with Woodblock Chocolate buttercream”

Amber: With these five flavours, I know they’re going for something fancy for Valentine’s Day. And this one is definitely that. For some reason, I didn’t enjoy that sense of fanciness here. I liked their strawberry filling, but didn’t feel there was enough strawberry taste to the whole cupcake. It was good but not one I’m probably buying again.

Cat: Ugh. Now this is a mouth sensation I cannot abide. Jam in cake is an abomination to my palate. It’s all goop, slimy texture combined with whipped buttercream. The strawberry flavor is strong–I would say too strong. It’s the kind of sticky sweetness that permeates the Valentine’s holiday. It’s the saccharine cake equivalent of an insipid box of chocolates with grocery store roses. It fits the festive bill, but feels uninspired. It’s the first cupcake I don’t…no, I can’t…finish.

Smoked Chocolate

Smoked Chocolate cupcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29 – Feb 28th.

“Our chocolate cupcake is piled with smoky chocolate buttercream that is smoked in Seattle by Young & Young Smoke Co.…”

Amber: I’m immediately intrigued. Cat told me to smell it before she cut it, and I can definitely smell the smoked flavour! (Break in writing to actually eat.) I have no idea whether or not I like this. My mouth and nose are now flooded with something that makes me think of piles of sauce-slathered meats. It’s so outside my taste experiences that I just…don’t know. (Plus, I’ve already eaten 1.5 cupcakes, so my body is probably in overload.) Maybe a babycake eaten on its own would work? I’m just…unsure…Everything is smoke.

I think I don’t like my cupcakes rich. I think I want even my chocolate cupcakes to be light and fun. I madly love chocolate, but I think my palate, when it comes to cupcakes, is not grown up enough to appreciate deep and/or dark chocolates. This excursion is starting to look like a dubious choice…

Cat: Wow. Is that eau de hickory chip in the frosting? Eating this cupcake is like eating ham-cured chocolate. The cupcake works on the weirdness factor for a while–capitalizing on the novelty of things like bacon maple bars, but fancy-pants-ifying the entire process–but it gets too cloying as I eat more. All I taste is smoke. All I smell is smoke. All I am is smoke.

Black Bottom

Black Bottom cupcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29th – Feb 28th.

“When cheesecake batter meets chocolate cake! Chocolate cake filled with cheesecake batter + Venezuelan Chocolate buttercream + marbled chocolate curls.”

Amber: I have no palate left. It has been destroyed by the last two cupcakes. And possibly by the incredibly questionable decision to eat 2.5 cupcakes on a mostly-empty stomach, early on a Monday morning. Yes, my tongue tells me this is a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting…my tongue also tells me it likes this filling, but can’t for the life of me figure out what it’s supposed to be. (Cat looks it up. Cheesecake? Really? At this point, my tongue and I have no choice but to trust the internet.) So, I like it best of the three fully chocolate cupcakes I’ve just eaten, especially the filling, but I still think the tendency of fancy cupcake shops to lean rich in their chocolates is going to trip me up every time.

Cat: So it’s cheesecake batter. Huh. The combined flavors taste like a high-end chocolate box, all semi-sweet and rich tasting. I think it’s what death tastes like. Every possible flavor on the chocolate spectrum rolled into one. I’m chocolate exhausted. What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of this taste experiment? How many cake fragments can I leave in the box? I give up. One more bite of cake today will be my death.

Deathcake Royale

Deathcake. Picture by Cupcake Royale.Available Jan 29th – Feb 15th.

“Deathcake is back in it’s original form! We layered espresso chocolate decadence, salted milk chocolate ganache and chocolate cake together…”

Amber: Cat was right to save hers for later. I powered through, because my stubborn determination and the sugar high completely overwhelmed my common sense. One bite though. Just one bite. I wasn’t sure if I was having a hard time swallowing due to laughter (thanks for not snapping a photo, Cat) or my body protesting more sweetness. Moist. Rich. Death. I am pretty sure, if soil were edible, this is what the earth I’m buried in will taste like. I mean that in the best possible way.

Cat: It took 24 hours before I could bring myself to tackle the Deathcake. It might have been a little too soon. I could only take three bites, put it away, wait an hour, take three more, and so on. The slow and steady sugar overdose instead of the massive munching the day before. But on to the Deathcake itself. Yes, it’s rich, but not too bad. I don’t dig the middle espresso layer, personal preference, but the rest? Oh, the rest.  The ganache is swimming through a chocolate ocean. The cake is every bit as moist and flavorful as any cake should be. Unlike the black bottom, where the chocolates battle, these work together for decadent delight. Slow, measured, take-your-time delight.

HereThe mess after we'd eaten what we could of the cupcakes is the resulting carnage…We raced out, so high on sugar and in need of salt licks, that we probably looked like unattended toddlers on Halloween. Eeeeeeee! Overall, we agreed the Caramelized White Chocolate was the best, though we admit that, if we were true scientists, we’d go back to see how much they benefited from being first eaten (though we did try to go from lightest to darkest on the theory that would be best for our palates and fairest for the cupcakes). Fortunately, we are just mature enough to know better than to do this again. Y’know, until there’s another month with five flavours….

UPDATE: It was 5.25 days before Amber was able to eat anything sweet. (She actually salted her whole-grain cereal the morning after this excursion and got slightly ill when she accidentally ingested a little jam 3 days after the cupcakes.) NEVER AGAIN.