The short trip south to Alexandria might as well come with a guarantee for a good time, because that is what I have been having without exception. The Old Town is just so irresistibly charming and full of life. King Street encourages you to walk and walk and walk in order to explore all the little shops and restaurants and cafés it has lined up, and once you arrive at the water front you can't help but behave like a typical tourist, taking pictures and enjoying the entertainment of various street artists.
Most importantly, Old Town Alexandria is a dessert-lover's paradise. I shamefully admit that my last visit was in January, when I had not started this blog yet, but of course I began to taste my way through the many bakeries and ice cream shops and was immediately hooked.
The long-awaited Alexandria Food and Wine Festival took place in the Carlyle District today, and since it failed to satisfy my sweet tooth I urged my friends to drive a little further afterwards, to have a bite and a drink by the water. And once there, I just happened to find two cupcakeries in close vicinity to one another that I could check out while the rest went shopping. They were happy, I was happy, everyone was happy.
I first went to Occasionally Cake, a bakery that offers "all things cake" including innovations such as cupcake push pops (layers of cake and frosting in a plastic tube that can be pushed out with a stick), cake truffles and mini bundt cakes. Their passion, however, seems to be the design of large cakes for special occasions, photos of which can be found on their website.
The size of their cupcakes are about comparable to Georgetown Cupcake, so rather small (which is good for people like me who are planning to go someplace else afterwards and eat a second one!), and cost $3 including tax. A fair price. They are beautifully arranged on different kinds of cake stands, and this attention to detail is noteworthy because the entire store looks simply adorable.
The dominant colors are white and pastel, and there are a lot of bows, polka dots, and cupcake-themed decorations everywhere, many of which can be purchased (including jewellery, plant pots, and cookie jars shaped like cupcakes). The lady working behind the counter was not very outgoing or cheerful, but hey, everyone can have a bad day. Especially if the weather is so beautiful and you are forced to stay inside. I just decided not to ask her any questions and went straight for the mojito cupcake, a combination of rum cake and mint lime buttercream.
The verdict? It was very sweet, and even though I could not make out the rum or mint flavors, I clearly tasted a refreshing and summery lime note. In terms of texture, the cake was more on the dense side, but the fact that there was just as much frosting as cake made up for that. The frosting was thick and kept its shape even after I had had a few bites. Now, I don't know if that is good or bad.
All in all it reminded me a bit of the cotton candy cupcake at American Cupcake in San Francisco. What a pity that it didn't come closer to a true mojito flavor, but it was nice enough. And you know I love lots and lots of frosting! Looking at the following picture I wonder if that love should have its limits though.
Lavender Moon Cupcakery
Lavender Moon Cupcakery is located just a few steps off King Street, on S Royal Street. It looks very similar to Occasionally Cake from the outside, the main difference being the slightly more colorful signage. Once you enter, you realize that this powerful pink is practically the identity of the store.
Walls and chairs and boxes and the staircase are painted in either pink, purple or turquoise, and the decoration is all about vintage and whim. Guests first walk through a cozy seating area - which was packed with young families when I arrived - to get to the back room where cupcakes are displayed on a small counter. There is not much else to this room but the counter and a table with informational brochures about Alexandria's attractions and events; everything is kept very simple. The prices and size of the cupcakes are about the same as at Occasionally Cake.
I had a hard time picking a flavor here. The Lavender Moon Cupcakery offers many original creations such as blood orange dreamsicle, tiramisu, or chocolate turtle. I forgot most of the names right away, because there are unfortunately no signs and the poor girl in the store had to go through each and every flavor with explanations of what the cupcakes were filled or decorated with. My brain only really registered about three of the approximately 12 different flavors of the day. And so I chose the peach & basil, one of their summer specials.
What can I say, it was de-lic-ious. I used to know a guy who called everything "superb" and I always found that a little exaggerated. I mean, how often can you call something superb before "superb" becomes the norm? Well, I never really use this word but now I will: This cupcake WAS superb! Back in January I already tried their vanilla with lemon curd filling, which turned out to be so memorable that I almost considered having that one again today. Now I got the confirmation: The Lavender Moon Cupcakery really is one of the very best cupcake places in the DMV.
The frosting was to-die-for, just so dreamy creamy that it was similar to tasty fresh whipped cream. And there was lots of it. The cake had tiny pieces of basil baked into it and was very fluffy. I have to admit that both the peach and basil aromas were very subtle, I really had to concentrate hard in order to taste them, but the cupcake presented such a lovely balance of sweetness and freshness and homemade goodness overall that I really couldn't care less.
The definite winner of this Alexandria cupcake battle is therefore the Lavender Moon Cupcakery. - A serious contender for the title of my favorite cupcake place together with Baked & Wired.
Brownie Points for the mojito cupcake at Occasionally Cake: 1 out of 3
Brownie Points for the peach & basil cupcake at Lavender Moon Cupcakery: 3 out of 3