Friday, March 19, 2010

The Great Debate

First off, this is the background info you need for this post:

There is a cake vs. pie tournament, and through the discourse among friends over the initial rankings in the bracket, we determined that their rankings are WAY off. We're talking astronomically bad. We'll start off with discussion, and end with a final rankings in the bracket- skip to the bottom to get straight to those.

The Cake Bracket:

1) Birthday cake is not a kind of cake, never mind one that deserves the number one ranking. That's like someone telling you they had a Tuesday sandwich for lunch. The adjective does not even begin to describe the type of cake.
2) Wedding cake: See Cake, birthday.
3) There are some key cakes missing. Chocolate. Cinnamon Pull-Apart/Monkeybread. Vanilla (which really, I think was meant to be covered under birthday).

Additionally, the rankings are way off. Carrot Cake as a 7 seed? I realize some people dislike carrot cake, but enough people like it that it should be higher than a 7. You're really going to try to tell me that German Chocolate Cake is better than Carrot Cake? You would be wrong.

So, I present the proper rankings on the Cake half of the bracket (new ranking) Cake Name (old ranking):

(1) Vanilla/Standard Cake (1/NR)- The classic. While a one seed is probably too high, consider this the Duke of Cakes. Not everyone likes them, we all get annoyed with it, and it gets too much credit. I'm not happy with this ranking.
(16) Coconut (14). Who orders a coconut cake, over anything? Easily the 16, and lucky to even make the tournament. This would have been the play-in game.

(8) Angel Food Cake (8)
(9) Pound Cake (9)
Both of these were about right originally. Both are middle of the pack, sort of boring, and should be facing off in the first round, so we can quickly dispatch of one of them.

(5) Carrot Cake (7). As noted above, it's normally a love/hate type thing. But, Carrot Cake deserves better than a 7 seed, and in my mind, cracks the top five.
(12) German Chocolate Cake (4). Different from the regular chocolate cake, and by no means a top five seed. I get that some people like it, which is why it's even this high up. Could be a standard 12/5 upset, but I doubt it.

(4) Ice Cream Cake (2). Pick your own kind of ice cream, I don't really care. Whoever thought to put it in cake form deserves an award.
(13) Chocolate Cake (NR). Another standby, originally left off the list. We'll allow this to include variations of chocolate cake, such as death by chocolate, or anything else similar. If anything, Chocolate Cake got screwed by the selection committee, and should probably be higher.

(6) Red Velvet (3). Yes, this may seem a little low, but the higher ranking of Chocolate really knocked Red Velvet's seed down a peg.
(11) Cinnamon pull-apart Cake/Monkeybread (NR). Call me a homer, but this should knock out red velvet. When your only ingredients are biscuit dough, sugar, cinnamon, and butter, what can be bad?

(3) Funfetti (13). The original ranking is just WAY too low. I am yet to meet someone who dislikes Funfetti. An easy final four pick, with good odds to go all the way.
(14) Strawberry Shortcake (NR). A surprise non-ranking in the original, but definitely distinct from your typical angel food cake. Could give Red Velvet a run for the money.

(7) Coffee Cake. A perennial underdog, but delicious in the right setting. Nothing screams PTA meeting quite like Coffee Cake, but despite the negative boring associations (pun sort of intended...) coffee cake can be a real winner.
(10) Spice Cake (15). I mean, it's cake, so it's still delicious, but in a bracket form, only one of Coffee or Spice deserved to move on. Spice Cake sees a boost as a result.

(2) Cheese Cake (Pie ranking: 2). Not a personal favorite, but it deserves top three consideration. It is not a pie, though, as originally ranked. C'mon, people. Cake is in the name. I am also a sucker for a good graham cracker crust.
(15) Black Forest Cake (10). Like chocolate, but with gross jelly, right?

First one out:
Pineapple upside down Cake (11). What is this, 1972 home economics class? In 23 years of cake eating, I am yet to ever see this in a restaurant/bakery setting. And for good reason, I would imagine. The last time I saw one of these was on the battle of the sexes episode of Saved by the Bell, where Zach out-bakes the girls. Yeah, I went there.

The Pie Bracket:

- My main issue was including cheese cake as a pie. The rest of the field is actually pretty decent; Chocolate Cream Pie will replace Cheesecake in the field.
- I love fruit pies. I do not love cream pies, or that other nonsense. The rankings sort of take this in to account, because I feel like I'm not alone.

(1) Apple Pie (1). The old stand-by is hard to mess with. A la mode, with cheese, or otherwise, it's a slice of delicious any time of the year. A personal favorite to cut down the nets with a pie slicer, and raise the baking tin trophy.
(16) Brown Sugar (15): I don't even know what this is, but it's going against Apple, so it's irrelevant.

(8) Rhubarb (11)
(9) Boston cream (12)
Two pies that got slightly undercut by the original committee. Rhubarb has it's lovers (don't we all...), and Boston Cream is one of those pies you get when they've run out of anything else. A solid match up.

(5) Peanut Butter (5)
(12) Banana Cream (9)
Let's be honest for a moment, shall we? There aren't that many good pies out there after the top four. Peanut Butter is delicious, but it's at the point where after more than a slice or so, you're knocked out. It sits more like a cake in that respect. Likewise, Bananas are a morning food, and don't belong in pie.

(4) Lemon Meringue (13). Lemon Meringue got screwed in the original rankings. This is a top 5 pie. Even Jason Biggs would agree.
(13) Sweet Potato (14). Delicious, but not really belonging in the dessert pie category. I think of it more as a side dish; however, we could see an upset here.

(6) Pecan (8)
(11) Chocolate Cream Pie (NR)
I'm not the biggest lover of Pecan Pie, but it definitely has it's advocates. Consider it the Carrot Cake of the Pie Bracket. I was in a pie eating contest once, with Chocolate Cream Pie. Never again- that thing sits heavy. 11 is generous.

(3) Key Lime Pie (3). They had it right. Delicious, but not more than Apple or the two seed.
(14) Grasshopper Pie- an amalgamation of stuff, put in to a pie. Made with real grasshopper, if it's good.

(7) Cherry (7). I don't dislike Cherry pie, but I also couldn't justify it as any higher than a 7.
(10) Blueberry. (6). It's messy, and better as a cobbler than a pie. This hurts it, according to the committee.

(2) Pumpkin. Don't even try to argue- Pumpkin Pie with a touch of whipped cream is good morning, noon, or night. Not just for the fall, anymore.
(15) French Silk (15). See Sugar, Brown. It just doesn't matter- it's not winning.

I won't play this bracket out- not enough time on my hands, and it would cause too much fighting among all 17 readers. Feel free to let me know your thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Strip Club

I went to The Strip Club last night. It's sort of tucked away downtown; a 21+ place. I'd never been to a place like this before. Needless to say, the experience was definitely something different, and to be honest, sort of unexpected. The decor was... classy. And the food was absolutely fantastic.

Why hadn't I ever been there before? Fair question. I am 23, after all. I'd been meaning to try, especially since my mom had gotten me a gift card there for Hannukah. But, restaurant week provided the perfect opportunity to check it out. The Strip Club is a grill-your-own steak place in downtown San Diego (c'mon, you think I'd really blog about that?), and the Restaurant Week menu provided a nice little sampler of the cuisine for only $20.

I went with a buddy of mine, and we quickly realized the one flaw with the grill-your-own methodology. No, not that we messed it up- I ended up with a nice seared ahi, and Phil's steak was good- but standing around the grill, watching everyone else cook their dinner, turns in to a self-conscious pissing contest. You're sort of afraid of messing up your own dinner, not only because if it sucks there's no one else to blame, but also because you don't want to embarrass yourself in front of a grill full of strangers. The old guy to our right was definitely giving us sidelong glances like we were amateurs; meanwhile, we were commenting to each other about how it looked like the third guy at the grill was burning his steaks. While there is actually a nice community feel to standing around the grill with strangers and sparking up conversation, we found it funny the potential for disaster if big personalities stepped up to the plate. Plate of food, that is.

All kidding aside, dinner was great, and I dig the concept of a grill your own place. Portions were more than generous, and for our case, the price was definitely right. So, definitely a good first venture in to The Strip Club.

Per usual, thanks for reading.