Tuesday, February 5

charm city not charmed

The Chronicle's Best of ballot is on its way and soon readers will be able to chime in on personal faves in Larimer County. But when the Best of issue hits streets on March 27, you'll notice more categories than on the ballot. These are editors' picks. This is our opportunity to comment. And we do so with the usual snarkiness of an alt-weekly, the newspaper form that invented the Best Of.

On a recent episode of Food Network's "Ace of Cakes," the reality show that follows the hipster staff of Charm City Cakes as they build the most bizarre confections, like this Chinese take-out cake. But as I somewhat guiltily watch the show, I've always thought that these cakes were more artistic than edible. I mean, it takes them days to make the cake; doesn't the cake get stale? And that fondant they use to sculpt can't taste too good. Apparently, this is the case, and the Baltimore City Paper pointed it out in their Best of 2007.

Best Form Over Function

Charm City Cakes

2936 Remington Ave., (410) 235-9229, www.charmcitycakes.com

There's no denying that the carefully sculpted confections of Charm City Cakes are beautiful. Actually, they're more than that--they're daring, vibrant works of art, custom-made to charm any whim, no matter how formidable or bizarre. Name anything you want, from an elegant cake of broccoli and flowers, to a cake modeled after a Quidditch field, to an elaborate design that looks exactly like your pet dog. But beauty and presentation come with a price, and in this case, you'll pay with both your taste buds and your wallet. What's the point of buying a $500-plus cake if you'll feel guilty about consuming it? And fondant might be great for sculpting elaborate designs, but it's at best flavorless. An ordinary chocolate lump you've proudly baked yourself can just as easily satiate a desperate, price-conscious sweet tooth. Next time you crave a fancy cake, ask yourself what you value more--form or function?
This Best of so outraged the staff at Charm City that an entire segment of the show was dedicated to it. Never mind that the City Paper gave them Best Cake in 2003; they were appalled by the suggestion that fondant may not have flavor. They wanted to call and complain. They discredited the whole paper like a bunch of whiny reality-TV stars. I think the Best of award is clever. I suppose this news-bin cake will be the last. (Yes, that's really a cake.)


ZAF622 said...

Maybe this year the editors of The Best of can award events that actually have happened. I am thinking of your "Best New Addition To The Arts Scene" from 2007. Where is the this Rocky Mountain Foundry you honored?

Do they give Oscars to movies that are going to be made?

5 Alive said...

I suppose I sorta get your point, Zaf622. But it's not exactly like there wasn't anything to honor. The project had designs, was raising money, was networking with old guard and was working hard to build the structures. The Foundry, the organization, existed whether its goal, in part the structures, did or did not. That's the addition we were honoring.

My counter to your Oscar analogy: Do we not honor those who work towards world peace and an end to hunger, despite neither being achieved?

ZAF622 said...

You do have a good point. But the Fort Collins Art Scene is worse off than I thought if the best thing to be added to it in 2007 was some designs, a few raised dollars, and networking.

Take it to the people. Offer that category up for voting and see what happens.

All frustrations aside I love you Chronicle, keep up the good work!

Joe said...

We should propose mandatory "Cake" bins to city council on the platform of Safety, Uniqueness and Deliciousness! No one I know has ever been injured by a cake. Except that time I threw a cake at my sister with the candles still burning on it - that was definitely unsafe.

5 Alive said...

Yeah, then we can move the bin battle to the health department.