- an experience that brings perspective and new knowledge, which leads to unordinary discoveries
- hard work: tiring and hella expensive
That there folks, is the definition of “traveling” from the Daly Dictionary (coming to a Barnes and Noble near you soon). Looking back after a few weeks of normalcy, I can definitively say that my most recent traveling experience was quite the whirlwind. In 13 days, I visited 6 cities, at least 30 touristy attractions, and ate/shopped in at least double the amount of bakeries and restaurants. Oh, and I traveled, by car, 2999 miles to do it. All in all, it was the best vacation a gal could go on. But, considering the subsequent hole in my bank account afterward, it’s not one a gal can go on often.
That brings me to a little bit of a dilemma. You see, while traveling the East Coast, eating great treats, trying new things, and generally letting my foodie flag fly, I realized how much I love the adventure of it all. I love window shopping. I love navigating back streets and alleys to find that hole in the wall eatery everyone’s been buzzing about. And, more than anything, I love being that customer who paces back and forth and stares for entirely too long while making her decision. It’s a lot of pressure!
All of this brings me to an announcement: I’m starting a new series! In addition to continuing to chip away at my never-ending baking bucket list, I’ll be starting to write about “Local Legends”. Instead of only looking to discover quality food in other places, why not look in my own backyard first?! I’ve yet to really define what “local” means to me yet, but for now, we’ll go with… Connecticut.
For the first post of the series, my choice is obvious. I’m starting on home turf with NoRA Cupcake Company. For those of you who don’t know, I’m lucky to work there serving cupcakes, making cupcakes…a little bit of everything. And since NoRA has given me the creative outlet of a lifetime, and has fully brought out my inner foodie in full force, I figured it was only right. Before we get to it, a little NoRA history for you. NoRA Cupcake Company had it’s humble beginnings north of Rapallo Avenue, on Main Street, in Middletown, CT. As of 2011, Carrie Carella was a bar manager and bartender at Eli Cannon’s Tap Room. When a space across from the street from the bar opened up, Carrie’s creative passion for baking and take-no-prisoners work ethic took over, and NoRA was born. Five years later, you can find NoRA cupcakes everywhere. Being a fork and knife kind of dessert, they’ve definitely redefined the term “cupcake”. And, if you’re able to get your hands on one of these small cakes, you’ll be happy to know that you’re sampling what Connecticut Magazine considers to be the best cupcakes in the state, for the year of 2016.
Working at NoRA, I’ve had to answer some tough questions. “Why do you put coconut on a red velvet cake?” “Are you Nora?” But, the hardest question of all, hands down, is, “What’s your favorite?” DON’T. GET. ME. STARTED. You think you have a hard time picking one out of the case in front of you, but you want me to pick one out of about 300 hundred flavors? Can Angelina Jolie pick her favorite child? Does Kate Gosselin tell the world who her favorite sextuplet is? (Even though it’s obviously Collin.) No! But, because I’m clearly dedicated and a hard worker, I’ve painstakingly narrowed it down… to 12. While I revise this like everyday, my current list includes:
- Snickers Overload
- Almond Joy
- Tree Bark
- Java Chip
- Nom Nom
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake
- Magic Cake
- Bourbon Apple Crumble
- Road Jam (you know me and my love of curd)
- Midnight Blue
- Cherry Bomb
Upon walking into work the other day, it immediately became apparent that it was finally time to write this post. Two of my 12 favorites were in the case. Not one, but two. Two out of 300. Clearly the stars have aligned, let’s get eating.
Is it cheesy to say I’m obsessed with “Obsessed”? Well, I don’t care… because I am. To be honest, a year ago, I wouldn’t even call myself a peanut butter fan. Sure, it was okay, and an essential component to one of the most popular sandwiches ever, but that was about it. But, after starting to buy the good stuff and then starting to work in a place that uses it all the time, my opinion has changed drastically. Obsessed, therefore, is the ideal cupcake.
First, it starts out with a chocolate cookie crust, which in my opinion, is pretty unique for a cupcake. Then, you have the peanut butter cake, filled with the peanut butter cream cheese. Then, as if to put any other cookies and cream look alike to shame, it has a big ass scoop of rich chocolate buttercream on top, that’s been covered with crushed Oreos. Yes, friends, that is what I’d like to call…heaven.
Conveniently located in the tray next door was the Bourbon Apple Crumble.
If you couldn’t tell…I have a thing for the not-so-plain cakes. Really, it’s because it makes you feel like you’re eating multiple desserts at once. It’s like a, “why eat one, when you can have five” kind of thing. For example, with the Bourbon Apple Crumble, you’re getting smacked by a triple threat. You’ve got your cookie feel from butterscotch chips baked into the cake and crumble on top, you’ve got the pie feel from the filling (oh, which is spiked with Jack Daniels, btw), and then the cake feel…because you’re eating a freaking piece of cake. AND, on top of it all, it’s got me feeling all kinds of Fall-y and I ain’t mad about it.
As you can see, when looking around Connecticut for the best and most innovative eats, NoRA Cupcake Company was a logical place to start. While it’s cliche as hell, they go big or go home there. There’s a reason why I often get asked, “Do you have any normal ones?”
In the next few weeks, I can’t wait to find other eateries in CT that do the same thing: think outside the box…do something fresh, something extraordinary, something that makes me crave eating outside my own comfort zone box. Here’s to finding places that bring out the most indecisive, annoying customer in me. I’ll tell you all about them. Until then, like always, stay tuned and stay hungry!