When I think of cupcakes, a Pixar-like montage of brightly colored mixing bowls, floral-print aprons and powdered-sugar noses immediately unfolds in my mind. I imagine wafting vanilla and a floury embrace. It's no wonder that the cupcake, like the humble strip of bacon, makes culinary headlines; the simplicity and hominess evoke pleasant reminiscing, and it's a craving that is easily gratified.
Owner Eva Perry knows why you eat cupcakes. The slogan for Eva's Cupcakery is "Bake Sweet Memories." She knows that cupcakes are a delicious indulgence, but more importantly, the anticipation of eating a cupcake is pure joy. It is impossible to scowl while holding a cupcake. Maybe not impossible, but really, really hard. The bakery itself is a welcoming space. The walls are chocolate brown and sprinkle-pink. Old-fashioned glass cloches protect cheerfully decorated confections.
There was an air of unmistakable glee when I visited, as customers swarmed the counter, debating between the Boston cream pie cupcake or the Lemon Dream.
Perry is from Alabama, where hospitality is as abundant as sweet tea, and she makes an effort to greet each guest that walks through her doors. If she's not there, her husband, Sylvester, is around to chat with the regulars and newbies alike. They and their staff are well-versed in cupcake knowledge and will patiently answer any question.
They also don't mind standing there as you dither out loud, "Funfetti. No, blueberry lemon. No, wait, Funfetti!"
It was a challenging decision; my limit was six ($22), and there were at least a dozen options. Gluten-free and vegan cupcakes are also available, which can often be difficult to find. I felt a hoarder's bliss as I clutched my six-pack of cupcakes and got into my car. The little cakes are beautiful; Perry lavishes on the colored frosting like so much edible acrylic, with Oreo bits and caramel as her tasty embellishments.
Cupcakes are meant for sharing, so I headed to my friends' new shop downtown, where I knew there was a group hard at work. I parceled them out; sweet potato, Coca-Cola, Turtle, red velvet, Oreo and pink lemonade. I solicited feedback and mostly got "Mmmmm, frosting." Amateurs.
The pink lemonade was my favorite, followed closely by the red velvet, Turtle and Oreo. They were all moist, but the lemon curd and citrus-y frosting (not to mention the completely adorable straw garnish) offset the sweetness of the cake and tasted almost refreshing. The Turtle was a heady amalgam of rich chocolate, silky caramel and pecans, and Perry's version of red velvet was classically Southern, with a buoyant fluff of cream cheese frosting.
Another visit, and this time I scaled myself back to four cupcakes. Eva was working the counter and Sylvester was in deep discussion with another Southern transplant. I basked a moment in the friendly atmosphere; it occurred to me that instead of going out for a coffee with a girlfriend, I could invite her out for cupcakes. As Eva was helping me choose the four winners ($15), I heard Sylvester tell his new friend that when they travel, they have to check out all the bakeries in the area. The research pays delicious dividends. The whimsical hues and attention to detail make the cakes look professional, but the lovely flavors are what make them memorable.
Perry loves her work and it shows. I'm pretty sure the only thing better than getting paid to make and decorate cupcakes all day is getting paid to eat and write about them.
4 out of 5 stars
Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday
Address: 3048 Mountain View Drive
Options: Dine-in and takeout
By Riza Brown
Daily News correspondent