Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How to Find the Best Cupcakes in Charlotte

by the Little Italian

I have a commute to work that takes approximately 6 minutes every morning. In the month since we moved to Center City, not once has my commute home taken less than two hours. I don't know what happens.  I watch my place whiz past and I just keep riding.

What am I riding? Well I prefer to ask who am I riding..... because she not only has a name but also feelings and a clear predelicton for ice cream and cake, based on where she takes me.  Her name is Katrinka.

My two-wheeled wonder.

Yesterday I was in the mood for a cupcake. Not just any cupcake, mind you, but the most truly fine cupcake Charlotte (nay, North Carolina) has to offer. There is only one place to find a cupcake like this, and that is Polka Dot Bake Shop in the Park Road shopping center.

There are rules though.  One cannot drive to a cupcake shop on a Tuesday morning for no discernible reason other than one is secretly 3 years old deep down inside, and then drive back, and then eat the cupcake alone in one's posh, air-conditioned abode. This seems all wrong.  No, a cupcake must be earned and eaten on a park bench in the sunshine.  Here's how you do it:

The trolley trail in Southend is marvelous and provides a wonderfully lovely, inefficient bridge to Dilworth. Let me explain: if you want to get somewhere efficiently on your cruiser you are riding it wrong. You might as well wear your bike as a hat and walk backwards. Efficiency is not our goal here so all rides pretty much start and end on the trolley trail.

The Trolley Trail: You won't get there fast, but you'll enjoy the ride.

Eventually, you'll pop off the trolley trail, cross South Blvd., and hop onto Worthington, which will take you through a charming neighborhood of tree lined streets and fancypants multimillion dollar ranch homes. They are quite pleasant to look at, though something in my head doesn't understand spending the equivalent of a small country's GNP on a 800 square foot home. But maybe that's just me.

One you hit East Boulevard you will come face to face with Menchi's.  Do not look directly at it.  It is full of ice cream and the wee tasty bits you exuberantly fling throughout your ice cream bowl, like a metabolically deranged Jackson Pollock.  You will come here another day. Just keep pedaling until you hit Freedom Park, and then hop on the Carolina Thread Trail.

Menchi's is best experienced with the kind of friend who loves you enough to pry the Heath Bar bits ladle out of your hand.

The Carolina Thread Trail will take you through Freedom Park and down toward Park Road, with lots of pretty spots and artwork and interesting people along the way. You will see little old ladies with large sun hats walking small, impossibly cute dogs. There will be women pushing in giant strollers children who by all accounts seem to be at least 8 years old, but what do I know about mothering. I woke up this morning and found my cat licking dried lentil soup off the heater element of my crock pot.  I'm no expert.

The Carolina Thread Trail. 

From here, it's just a very short death-defying Frogger-hop across 5 lanes of terrifying and complicated traffic and here we are, Polka Dot Bake shop.


Monday is lemon blueberry cobbler day. Let's talk about this for a minute. Lemon cupcake of unimaginable lightness and sweetness, with a little dash of blueberries inside and on top. The frosting seems to be some kind of lemon-cream-cheese-who knows what, and atop that is a a sprinkling of cobbler topping.

Om. Nom. Nom.

Now go find yourself a nice little shady spot under a tree, preferably next to a babbly little brook and enjoy your cupcake. And by enjoy, I mean, be one with the cupcake. By no means should you scarf it down in 3 seconds and then wonder "Who the hell stole my cupcake?" I do have a solution for this problem though, should it arise. It's called Second Cupcake. This is a measure not to be taken lightly, but I strongly believe in being prepared. I was a Girl Scout.


Now it's time to go home. Chances are you've just eaten 800 calories of sugar and fat so I strongly advise you take the longest, hilliest ride home possible. I'm not sure to what degree this ride will absolve you of the matter but for what it's worth since I have started riding my bike everywhere
instead of driving, I seem to have become some kind of superhuman calorie smashing, fat-burning machine with an almost unlimited capacity to metabolize baked goods.

As a fitness professional I'm sure I'm supposed to have a conviction about moderating dietary sugar and fat even when highly physically active. But here's the way I see it: Cupcakes = delicious. Bicycle = greatest invention ever. My bottom = every bit as fabulous as it ever was. You know what we call that, people? Science.  It's a beautiful thing.

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