Monday, 27 July 2015

The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

Dearest Readers,

It has become something of a Whimsy tradition that when overseas, I provide you with a review of an ice cream shop. (Well, it's a tradition in my head anyway and that's good enough for me.)

Thus, I write with news of Ice Cream Wonder across the Atlantic - Big Gay Ice Cream Wonder from, where else, The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in New York's East Village.

The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop started out life as a food truck whizzing around the streets of NYC but, owing to demand, became an-all-year-round ice cream wonder palace in 2011. It's a tiny walk-in shop with a permanent queue outside in the amazing East Village. 

The inside of the shop is the definition of whimsy. There is a giant glittering Unicorn on the wall, and My Little Pony ephemera dotted about the shop. 

I was particularly taken by the multi-coloured cat chalk board next to the menu. 

The menu itself, modelled here by the SIBF, is a thing of sheer joy. I didn't have sufficient time to peruse it, unfortunately, so sort of panic-ordered an ice cream I wouldn't normally go for, but it was still amazing.

The thing about Big Gay Ice Cream is that it's a playful variation on traditional American 'soft-serve' ice cream. Ie Posh Mr Whippy. But better. A million times better. The joy is that the soft-serve itself is beyond delicious - creamy, air-whip-light and flavoursome - but that on top of the ice cream, the toppings are imaginative, exciting and generously portioned. In much the same way I would suggest that eye make-up is all about the glitter, Big Gay Ice Cream is all about the toppings. But I digress. 

I ordered the Rocky Roadhouse - a chocolate ice cream covered in rocky road topping comprising of marshmallows, dark chocolate chips and salted almonds. The ice cream takes its name from Patrick Swayze's 1989 movie Road House and serves as a tribute to the late great man himself. The combination of the crunchy nuts, the chewy marshmallow, the super-soft-serve ice cream and the bitey choc chips was A-may-zing (as Craig Revel Horwood might say if he were judging ice cream rather than dancing).

The SIBF ordered the American Globs which is possibly the quintessential Big Gay Ice Cream as it is 'dipped'. This means that the entire ice cream is dipped in a vat of hot chocolate sauce which then dries and creates a hard outer shell - like what a Magnum tries to do but fails. If someone decided to come up with this idea and sell it here they would make their fortune because once eaten no other ice cream is the same. On top of this, the American Globs featured dark chocolate salty-sweet pretzels dotted throughout it and its name is a tribute to Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods' making it ice cream nirvana! 

Anyway, you go in, order your Big Gay Ice Cream, leave and find a stoop to sit on and eat it. Alternatively, you could take your ice cream into Tompkins Square Park, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you like eating ice cream with rats crawling round yr feet. (Not the definition of whimsy.) 

 The trouble is that now that I've had my Big Gay Ice Cream and eaten it, how will I ever go back to ice cream of any other variation?

Coming up next: The Secret Cocktail Bars of NYC #2.

Happy Days,
Whimsy x

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Silver Whimsy Cake Stall 5.0

And so it came to pass, Dear Readers, that The Silver Whimsy Cake Stall celebrated its FIFTH anniversary at the world famous (!) and utterly WHampsteadtastic Jester Festival.

Those of you who have been following from the very beginning will know that the true world of Whimsy (from pop-up cake events at gigs, to 60th Birthday Baking Bonanzas, to baking cakes for Zombies, to cafe reviews across London, to Whimsy reviews State-side) originally came from the Jester Festival, and so this most special of events has a place closest to my heart and to make it to 5.0 felt quite the thing! Looking back on TSWCS five years ago versus TSWCS today, it's impossible to overlook the difference:

TSWCS 1.0 


I do love the original stall - I think it has a certain innocence about it - a naivety of 'I know, let's have a cake stall' that sums up the true essence of Whimsy, but I do also think that the stall as it is now is much better in terms of quality, quantity and inventiveness of the cakes themselves. (Although, if I recall correctly, I had also embroidered the most beautiful handkerchiefs for TSWCS 1.0 and money couldn't buy one of those now.)

Indeed, the difference is not just in the quantity of cakes, the styling of the stall and the ambition of it, but within me... It's hard to think five years can change one quite so significantly physically, but then the markers of time will out and - seeing as I have no intention of going all Dorian Gray - there is no escaping the shift five years can make.


Silver Whimsy in 2009

Whimsy in 2015

I mean, what was it Bowie said again about Five Years..?

Also, without intending to be morose and focusing on the ageing process, this five years malarkey does mean that 'coming to terms with the start of my fourth decade on planet Earth' ought strictly speaking be changed to 'coming to terms with the middle of my fourth decade on Planet Earth' but I can't really deal with that right now so I'll focus on the cakes instead.

AND on the celebration of Whimsy that was The Jester Festival 2015. Thrillingly, I made it onto the front page of the Stallholders section of the Jester Festival Website:

Whimsy on the Web! 
So there was already rather a lot of interest in TSWCS before we had even arrived. This year, it felt as if some of The People had actually come to seek us out, remembering the deliciousness of our cakes from previous years. This year, the wonderful Meg (whom many of you will remember from TSWCS 3.0) was also involved in Whimsy-antics which meant we were able to offer an even more diverse range of cakes than usual.

TeamWork at TSWCS 5.0 
Meg's Dorset Apple Cake and Oreo Brownies were sell-out products and the brownies were perfectly suited to the date of the stall - July 4th!

Oreo Brownies for the 4th July!

We capitalised on this through, what else, the medium of The Mini-Flag (tm) hand-crafted for hours the previous day by the long-suffering SIBF:

My SIBF does crafts.
Past experience has taught me that the residents of NW6 love a good meringue, so as well as the signature Hazelnut and Cinnamon meringues, this year we had Pistachio and Rose Water on offer as well. They were beautiful (if I do say so myself) and sold out quickly: 

NW6 Loves Meringues!

The traditional Whimsy teapot and flowers aesthetic was kept and the number of people, as per every year, trying to buy our cake displaying accessories was overwhelming. (Note to self: purchase more of the things you like and then sell them on to other people and you will break Whimsenomics and make a successful profit.) 

The Whimsthetic.

The cake I was proudest of this year had to be The Big Pink Flamingo Cake. If you would like to replicate this recipe at home, you need to follow a basic Victoria Sponge recipe (weigh four eggs and use their weight to measure out equal quantities of butter, sugar and self raising flour - cream the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs one at a time adding a tablespoon of flour if the mixture starts to curdle, beat in some vanilla bean extract, fold in the flour and then a punnet of raspberries and 80-100g of white chocolate chips - bake for around 25 mins in two springform circular tins, checking the cake before you take it out - a cake tester should come out clean and the top should be springy - the white choc plays with the timings slightly so be careful!) and then ice with raspberry buttercream with fresh raspberries rippled through and providing the pink colour - it's all entirely natural! 

If I'd been making this for a party at home, I'd have used fresh whipped cream inside with raspberries bursting through it instead. For an extra touch of Whimsy, I added popping pink candy as a sort of ribbon around the outside of the cake. 

Note the Popping Pink Candy around the outside of the cake.

It was amazing. I mean, clearly it is impossible not to want to consume a cake featuring pink-pop-out flamingos. 

The Big Pink Flamingo Cake

Over the years, people have gone to extraordinary lengths either to visit TSWCS or to help TSWCS. In the first year, there was Ryszard and his car who gave me a lift home with all the cakes, there were also the Fire Brigade who calmed me down when I was upset about the cat, then there was Steve who came all the way from Balham and helped me limp home, there was the man at Crystal palace who gave us a lift up the hill with one hundred cupcakes, Sally and Dave who came all the way from Oxford, Charlie and Sonja who trekked from Stoke Newington and THIS YEAR none other than the FSAF (Floral-Shirted-Actor-Friend) whom some of you will remember from this post walked for TWELVE MILES - yes, twelve whole Earth miles - to experience TSWCS in its purest form at The Jester Festival. The FSAF also agreed to posing for this photograph, which shows off the Traditional Whimsy Victoria Sponge to great effect: 
FSAF with Victoria Sponge

It also seemed fitting that friends from Club Kid Days (Nikki and David) appeared for a taste of Whimsy at our fifth Jester Festival, because my first ever post on this blog was entitled

From Club Kid to Domestic Cookie Baker in Three Decades

and, whilst the Maths is wrong, there is something beautifully cyclical about club-kid friends turning up at a cake stall five years later. (Or really six, but I missed a Jester Year so in my head it's five, hence TSWCS 5.0.)

So all in all TSWCS 5.0 was the best it has ever been. To all of you who asked for a card and were given a mini-flag featuring the address to this blog, Hello! And I can and will bake for you if you so wish.

Everything is baked with love.

And with glitter.

And with Whimsy.

There's going to be a blogging bonanza over the summer so keep reading, Dearest Readers, and remember: A slice of Whimsy a day keeps the demons at bay!

Love and glitter,
Silver Whimsy x

Not only does this feature the SIBF's amazing mini-bunting, but I actually made this Whimsy-themed cake stand!!!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Silver Whimsy Cake Stall at the Jester Festival 5.0!

Dearest Readers,

It's that time of the year... The Best Time of the Year, nay, The Best Day of the Year...

...It's time for The Silver Whimsy Cake Stall 5.0!

Here's a sneak preview of what's going to be on the menu on Saturday 4th July at The Jester Festival on Fortune Green in West Hampstead...

  • Hazelnut and Cinnamon Meringues
  • Dorset Apple Cake 
  • Raspberry Cream Dream Cake
  • Oreo Brownies for the 4th July! 
  • Cappuccino Cake 
  • Chocolate Tiffin 
  • Summer Fruit Cake 
  • Zingy Lemon Drizzle Loaf
  • Raspberry Cocktail Cupcakes 
  • Silver Whimsy's Victoria Sponge 
  • The SIBF's Favourite Cookies
We may well include some extra special surprises on the day so keep checking back to see what'll be on offer. Remember, when it's all gone, it's gone!! 

See y'all on Saturday!
Silver Whimsy x