Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PubCakes and Treehouse Coffee

Eeeks... it's been a while since the launch of Meandering Eats and nothing but crickets from me. Truth be told, I haven't felt like posting lately. Life occasionally turns into an avalanche and I do what needs to be done, then wait out the storm. Midterms. Finals (damned 10-week quarters still pass as quickly as I remember). Volunteering. Receiving news that I will have to go through another application cycle. Work. Reminders from friends, family, and even my boss, that my tunnel-vision towards medical school doesn't mean they don't matter. And then there's all that is happening in the world... writing about eating seemed trivial in comparison.

So, I walked away for a little bit and took my time on this post. Lest you think I wasn't enthusiastic about it, it's actually that I'm too crazy about it. The pictures took nearly a week to put together. The writing needed to be good and, at the time, I knew the it wasn't where I wanted it to be.

It's a post about new beginning, of partnership, and of deliciousness. I wanted it to be Meandering Eats' first post. Without further ado... let's talk about three of my favorite things: cupcakes, beer, and coffee.

It started with a tweet. It ended with me realizing that PubCakes and I were meant to meet. Garrett had raved about them at work, I had seen them on Toronado's menu, and it turns out that Maggie, whom I met at Food Blog Camp, had a personal connection to PubCakes.

Cupcakes. Beer. Coffee. Motivated and delightful ladies whose names begin with M.

What's not to like?

Maggie asked me to spread the word about PubCakes' opening. She is an old friend of the owner, Misty, and I was already curious because I'd heard so many good things about Misty's beer-based cupcakes. Using some of San Diego's awesome local brews (with Guinness being the exception), she developed cupcakes with amazing flavor combinations. Straying from the red velvet cupcake that's standard at most cupcake bakeries (cupcakeries?), she makes cupcakes with complex and interesting flavors mixed with the punch of San Diego's beers.

After Maggie contacted me, I asked Misty if she'd mind me dropping by to take a few pictures before they opened. I also asked if I could bring along Garrett, who blogged with The Flavor of Vanilla and is friend, coworker, and occasional therapist. We had a ball taking pictures and chatting with Misty and her crew.

We arrived with preparations in full swing. The menu boards were finished at 11:30pm the night before. A fresh batch of Irish Carbomb cupcakes were being dipped in ganache. Friends and family were setting things up for the opening and the free beer tasting that came with purchase.

Misty chatted with us about the store, chocolate (the microwave is extremely useful for quick melting), and how she made her cupcakes. The batters rest overnight, resulting in an obscenely tender cupcake. While she was filling and dipping the Irish Carbombs (see the first photo), there was one cupcake that hadn't risen enough. She handed it to me, undipped and unfilled, and it was delicious. Perfect chocolate cake that was moist and richly chocolaty.

The Cup O' Hefen was one of my favorites, with the warm wheat cupcake balanced out by a sharp and wonderful citrus buttercream. A hint of spice from the coriander was great and came just after the bright citrus. Next up was the Top Ten Cake, which had an amazing cherry buttercream that had a hint of heat from ancho chile. The Stoned Portzilla was a millon flavors going on at once, with coconut, coffee, and chocolate coming from all sides and the nice warm flavor of Stone's porter in the background. Beer for Breakfast had bits of bacon in the cake and a lovely maple cream cheese frosting that was light and more maple than cream cheese.

The other half of the cafe is Treehouse Coffee, with Mandi and her husband roasting beans in-house. I was delighted to see that Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans were among the offerings, which are my favorite. There was a cold-brew drip coffee maker in the corner, with its mad-scientist appearance. I didn't sample the cold brew, but from experience, slow cold-brewed coffee packs a real punch.

We were snapping away, trying to stay out of the way of the gradually increasing chaos and racks of pretty cupcakes. The first customer came in just a little before noon. He ordered a box of cupcakes and there was a brief lull before the flood of customers rushed in for the opening.

Garrett and I took a few final shots, bought cupcakes and coffee, and headed out. Tons of fans showed up to support PubCakes and Treehouse Coffee and, within a few minutes, the cafe was packed to the rafters and filled with people talking, eating, and sipping. Misty and Mandi were busy working and when we left, it looked like the opening was a success.

Pictures courtesy of Garrett
I haven't had the chance to return, but I haven't stopped thinking about the wheat/hefeweizen cake with citrus frosting or the perfect cherry frosting that was bright and sweet without being cloying, as many cherry-flavored things can be. D., who was skeptical of bacon in cupcakes, loved Beer for Breakfast.

Since then, I've seen tweets about Misty being invited to submit an audition for Food Network's Cupcake Wars. Good luck, Misty!

Thanks to Misty and Mandi for letting us snap tons of photos while they're crazy-busy. Thanks to Garrett for introducing me to PubCakes and for a great time taking photos. Thanks to Maggie for connecting us all together.

PubCakes and Treehouse Coffee
7229 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115

18 bites:

Wylie said...

Love this story!

The Cilantropist said...

Wow this place looks fantastic! I think we need to have a date night here. :) I love all your photos (esp the first one with the dripping chocolate) and I am drooling over those cupcakes. WANT.

Damaris said...

This place looks seriously FUN

Chefsteban said...

I was customer #1?? Cool.....

Sarah said...

Lovely! How do you do your side-by-side photos? I need help with photo collages.

Aimee said...

BEAUTIFUL post, Marie! Your photos are gorgeous, and I love the photo grids. I am so excited for many frequent Meandering Eats updates! Maybe we can put a visit here on the list for when I visit?? xo

Mary said...

I discovered Pubcakes at some Gourmet fest last year in Del Mar and my friend and I loved them. Haven't had a chance to visit the storefront yet, but it's on my "to-do" list!

Amber said...

Yay! Your photos are gorgeous, as always. And a great intro of fun-filled joy for the new site. Cheers! :)

caninecologne said...

hi m!
it was so lovely finally meeting you a few weeks ago.

i enjoyed this post! i've been meaning to try it out but they close so early!

i think my husband would love that cupcake with the guinness in it.

do you think the cupcakes would be allright for a pregnant lady (not me but a friend) to eat? can you really taste the alcohol?

Marie said...

Hey CC... don't quote me on this, but I believe the alcohol cooks off during the baking. You can taste the beer's flavors, but it doesn't taste "alcohol-y". Then again, beer rarely does. Your friend should ask her doc about it. :)

Marie said...

Yes! Date night!

Marie said...

Thanks, Wylie!

Marie said...

It is!

Marie said...

Hahahaha... glad we were able to capture it!

Marie said...

All done in Lightroom... I'm getting better and better at it. :)

Marie said...

Thanks, Aimee! And yes, we'll go there when you're here!

Marie said...

The storefront is really great... Misty and Mandi did a fab job with the space. Going back is on my to-do list, too!

Marie said...

Thanks, Amber!!

18 bites