Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Connecticut Tuesday: Frostings of Ridgefield

They say you should never assume anything.

But every now and then an assumption leads to something fun.

Case in point ...

I attended a wedding cake contest a few weeks ago. While there, I ran across  exceptionally delicious offerings from Frostings - a cupcake company based in Ridgefield, CT.

It never occurred to me to ask whether the gorgeous young women behind the table were the owners as well as the bakers.

Fast forward to the receipt of an email a few days later.

An email from Niro Feliciano - the company CEO. Thanking me for the photos I'd posted on FB, and for my interest.

A psychotherapist by profession, I discovered as I read on.

I was intrigued.

I will confess I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what Niro could possibly be short for in Italian - as I determined that he had to be of Italian origin with a name like that.

Skip to several emails and several weeks later and I am invited to a Fall Flavour testing.

I arrive - and not only is he not Italian, he's not even a he.

It's a woman - and she's originally from ... Sri Lanka!

With a science background and 22 years experience in baking.

Needless to say, we had a good laugh.

As things settled down, we talked about the science aspect for a bit. 

"It really is a science," Niro explained as she showed me around the test kitchen they are using until her cupcakery opens in Ridgefield.

"Vary a recipe by one quarter cup of a different type of flour and you get a different cupcake. It took me a year to finalize the base recipes and the signature piping we use."

The we directed my attention to Beth Hardy - a graduate of the Culinary Institue of America - who is responsible for the day to day baking.

"We have several standard flavours, but we also have our seasonal ones," Beth (with the company since she responded to an ad on Craig's List in May) explains. "Today we're working on apple cinammon and looking for cool ways to infuse pumpkin and spice into our products."

Niro explained to me that she spent the last year in Washington DC, and the five years before that in New York City.

"It was really obvious to me that there was a developing niche for cupcakes, and when I came back to Ridgefield I really wanted to create a haven for cupcake obsessees. A place where people can come in and have a cupcake or a lovebite, along with a cup of excellent coffee. A place where they can also drop in to purchase something tasty on their way home. It's going to be a great little place."

I was intrigued by the conecpt of the lovebite - and Niro explained that a friend who works for a luxury brand in NYC came up with the idea of calling the bite-size cakes that. "She was really instrumental in helping with branding, packaging and business card design, as well as the website. It was wonderful to be able to get her help on all of this."

I asked how far the cupcakes have travelled to date, and the answer was ... Toronto.

Personal delivery though.

"We use a lot less sugar in our cupcakes than other companies do, " Beth explained. "And that also makes for softer frosting. We've looked into freezing our products so that we can ship them out, but we want them to taste the way they did when they were baked. So for the moment we're sticking to the neighbouring states where the cupcakes can travel safely in special boxes, and be eaten  the same day they were baked."

"It's been really fun learning how people learn about us," Niro told me. "And we've had a lot of business from people who have tasted our cupcakes at an event they've attended. We're hoping to reach a lot more people once the cupcakery opens. Hopefully that will happen before Halloween."

Of course I couldn't resist asking about the connection between therapy and baking - and both ladies smiled.

"It's instant gratification," Beth said. "I love being in the kitchen. Once you have your recipes set, it's a matter of getting in there and making it happen. It doesn't take anything from you, but it gives you a lot. That sense that you're creating something beautiful that is going to bring joy to others. It's a wonderful feeling."

Sounds likes a whole new definition of comfort food to me!

Thank you for a wonderful two hours, ladies. Very much looking forward to covering the grand opening for the blog.

You can learn more about Frostings on their website and their Facebook page. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Connecticut brides ... make sure you keep an eye out for the first of the giveaways on Friday, October 8th, 2010 (date has been edited to reflect the fact that I have to put the blog on hiatus for a few days, following an encounter with a concrete patio).

Frostings is hosting a rather delectable surprise for you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Have your cake ... and eat it

I've decided that it might be fun to go thematic for a week or two - and in the spirit of that decision I'd like to welcome you to cake week!

Walk with me - and discover something about the history of the wedding cake.

Over the centuries customs have evolved. I think we need to be grateful for that, because it appears that in Roman times the groom would eat part of a barley loaf baked especially for the occasion ... and then break the rest over the bride's head. I am sure I don't need to elaborate about the symbolism of that particular action! The crumbs that landed on the floor, however, represented good luck and fertility for the bride and groom. It was considered good luck for guests to eat those crumbs, and reportedly nubile delicacies scrambled to secure them - and thus ensure betrothals of their own.

In the Middle Ages biscuits or 
scones were present.

Guests brought one small cake to the wedding (and for that read the size of a cupcake) with them.

All the offerings were stacked and the couple kissed (or tried to) over the top of the pile. 

This was supposed to bring them good luck. 

And many children.

Early on in the 17th century, a popular dish called bride's pie became popular. It came in several formats apparently. Sweet bread filling, mince, or in some cases even mutton pie. There are even records of a pie involving lamb's testicles and oysters. But it's main feature was a glass ring. I guess it was very similar to catching the bouquet at today's weddings - because finding the glass ring meant that you would be the next to get married. 

Another tradition that sprang up around this time involved sleeping with a piece of cake underneath one's pillow. Brides would give out slices of cake to the unmarried women present, and legend had it that the sleepers would dream of their future spouses that night.

It was, apparently, French bakers who started us on our road to elaborate cakes - by stacking wheat buns and coating them. As sugar became more plentiful  in Europe, so did the refinement process. It followed that icing became progressively whiter. Not only did white represent the bride's virginity, but it also symbolised the family's social standing. 

A status symbol, if you will. A sign of their affluence.

Which brings us to the multi-layered cakes of the 19th century. They were reserved for royalty (Queen Victoria is seen above) because they were really the only people who could really afford them.  Although it should also be said that the first multitiered cakes were real in appearance only. Their upper layers were made of spun sugar, and it wasn't until pillars started to be used (icing was hardened to prevent the pillars from sinking into the bottom layer), that the wedding cake started its journey towards the extravaganzas that we see all around us today.

Of course talk about pillars makes me think of my parents' wedding cake. The one below is not theirs, but I can't think of pillars without thinking of them.

We've come a long way from the use of pillars - and in some 

cases a really long way.

I am not sure how I would feel about wearing my wedding cake or having it be a replica of me - but people have clearly done both.

Today's cakes range from elegant and classic ... to whimsical 

and fun ... to downright works of art. 

Everything leads up to the moment when the couple shares a 

slice of their future surrounded by people who love them - and 

some of the cakes are little short of masterpieces. 

In our next installment (a couple of months down the road) 

we'll be talking about the Groom's cake, the symbolism of 

cake cutting, and the tradition of saving the cake's top layer.

Till then .. enjoy the eye candy!

Two of my favourites.

Plus a few more. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

From Korea ... with love

It's that day of the week again - and today we're catching up with our Canadian bride and giving away something utterly fabulous.

Lori has been good enough to share her engagement story and a few details about her wedding with us - and rather than trying to write a post about it, I think I'll just her speak in her own voice.

We've been living in South Korea for the past year - and that is where we got engaged. 

To give you a little background, Valentines Day is celebrated in 2 parts in Korea. On February 14th, the girls buy for the guys (typically chocolate or cookies), and then a month later they celebrate White Day. White Day is for the girls, and is now officially my favourite day in the entire year.

That day started extremely early for me. 

At 6:30am Wayne flipped on the switch in our bedroom and walked out the front door. When I eventually rolled over in bed, I was faced with a brown piece of paper, a pen,  and a riddle that told me I would be travelling to the 3rd baseline. After stumbling around the apartment for a good 20 minutes, I finally made it downstairs and outside and realized that I had absolutely no idea what a baseline was. I will blame this on sleep deprivation and excitement because I have played baseball for most of my life ...but it literally took me 10 minutes of standing in the cold not moving to come to the realization that the clue was leading me to the ball diamond that we walk past at least twice every single day.

Once there I was met with another clue that took me back to our mailbox, then across the street again to some trees, and eventually back to the recycling area of our old apartment. Wayne & I had been watching season after season of Survivor for the past few months (10 seasons in less than 3 months) so we were obsessed. The challenges that he presented me with were sooo perfect - and totally Survivor. 

Then came the Bachelor part of the plan!

My next clue led me up to a path in the woods. After debating for awhile about which path to take (there were 3 and I wasn't completely certain where the clue was directing me) I chose the one on the right and started the trek. Eventually (not quickly enough) I found him. He was standing at the end, and I felt exactly how those girls must feel when they walk down that long path to get to the bachelor, except that I was fairly certain he wasn't going to be sending me home!!

A few weeks later we went to Seoul with a colleague (we teach English) who has a friend who is a professional jeweler to pick out a ring. I thought it would be a lot like Sweet Home Alabama and I would just be surrounded with sparkling jewels and have my pick.

Not completely the case.

It was a lot more back alley; with crowded stores, jam packed with jewelry of all kinds -  but we did chose a setting for the stone we had decided on.

We decided to go with an amethyst for a few reasons. 

Not on the bottom of the list is that is super, super pretty and purple. But on the more reasonable side, it's extremely expensive to buy diamonds in Korea and I would have had to walk around (and go backpacking) with it for many months.


Not practical ...and to be honest, I have never loved anything more than my ring. Wayne is set on replacing the stone with a diamond when we get home, but we will see.

It's pretty, it's unique, but most important .. it's totally me.

The next time we catch up with Lori we'll be hearing about the way she chose to ask her bridesmaids if they wanted to be in the bridal party, the reasons she chose her venue, and why she wants to be ....

But moving on ... congratulations Alison. The Aurora bracelet is yours. It will be en route as soon as I have a wrist size and address.

I have to say that today's giveaway is both special and fabulous.

Earlier in the week I wrote a feature on wedding illustrator Rosemary Fanti - and she is graciously offering one bride a portrait. 

Valued at $300.

You still need to be a bride to enter this contest, but this week there are additional rules.

* You must be getting married on or before November 30th 2011
   Please write your wedding date in your first comment.

* You can only enter if you are a follower of this blog. I will  
   check entries against the list of followers. If you are not yet a 
   follower, you have a whole week to become one - so this 
   is not an exclusory condition by any means. Blogspot is 
  google-based so there are lots of ways to become a follower.

* You must like lili's wedding corner on Facebook.

* You must like Rosemary's Facebook page - and leave a 
   comment saying you came from here.

Now the reward for all the liking and following and commenting.

Say that you did all of the above in separate comments, and each one will count as an entry. If you have already done the things required in previous weeks simply say so. Those will be considered valid entries too.

Ways to earn additional entries:

* Blog about this giveaway - and post the link in a comment.

* Post about it on Facebook - and post the link in a comment.

All told you could have 6 chances at winning this portrait from Rosemary.

The contest ends on Thursday, October 7th at 1900 EST - and the winner will be announced here and on Facebook on Friday, October 8th.

Good luck!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Step by Step

Bridal shows are an opportunity to learn about what's out there in a personal and unique manner. Vendors showcase the best of their work - and their personalities - at a show. So take the time to see their work and determine whether or not your temperaments are compatible.

Wedding Steps brings together some of Fairfield County's best wedding professionals. Below are a few of the vendors that you'll meet if you go to the bridal expo they are hosting this evening at Chatham Manor.

So back to the title.

Step by step.

That's the way you need to plan your wedding.

Think ahead, collect as much information as you can, and most important ... enjoy the run up to your wedding!

Attend the Wedding Steps Bridal Expo tonight.

                      Aiello Photography

Chatham Manor at 493 Connecticut Avenue in Norwalk, CT.

6 - 8pm

Be one of the first 50 brides and who knows .. you may walk away with a $25,000 wedding!


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