I finally got my chance to use this Dr. Seuss-inspired title! Dreams DO come true, you guys. Especially really small, easily attainable ones.
Earlier this week I finally got a chance to visit the famed (well… a lot of people I know like it) Aroma Cafe in Studio City. (There are several Aromas in Los Angeles… yes, that’s a double entendre.)
I was immediately enchanted by the sparkly peacock feathers and the fact that the tea list included Pumpkin Pie tea (!), which is obscured in this picture– but trust me, okay? Why would I lie about this?
I asked the guy behind the counter which was better– pumpkin pie tea or pumpkin spice latte? He told me I should go with the latter. (Haha, latte/latter.) So… I didn’t try pumpkin pie tea. It’s either delicious or terrible. That’s how tea works, generally. (Apologies to Mr. Tea… not that he holds any stock in the tea trade.) (… that I know of.)
I decided to get a slice of red velvet cake because trek-mate Toni had enjoyed it during past visits to Aroma. But… what of blue velvet? It was sitting there, looking so… blue. But I didn’t want to overlook the red, if it was the signature flavor.
As usual, I asked the counter-guy (but not the same guy who latte-d me) for a recommendation. He assured me that red and blue velvet cake taste exactly the same. Right there… I’m a little skeeved. What’s the point? So we ordered the blue for the heck of it. But when Toni tried the blue, she said that it was not NEARLY as good as the red had been. “It tastes like they forgot the sugar,” she assessed.
So I went back to the counter, and surely exasperated the guy when I exchanged the blue for red. But I’d paid TWELVE DOLLARS for a slice of cake and a small latte, so I kinda wanted delicious cake. (To be fair, it was a big piece. But I had sticker shock when I heard my total.) (I’m not made of money!) (I’m made of 70% red dye, probably. By now.)
Upon sampling the red velvet, Toni was yet again perplexed by blah-ness– and felt somewhat responsible for the disappointment, since she’d hyped the cake. I said, “Nonsense! Poppycock!” Because Toni hadn’t BAKED the cake or anything.
Eventually we found a few good bites of the cake, toward the top/middle. It seems that it got kinda dry, sitting out all day. So… that was that. I guess. I didn’t want to be an asshole and exchange the red, because the guy had warned me to begin with that they taste the same. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Mr. Tea’s parents had red velvet Amish Lady cake when we went to Reading Market, and his dad made a very Binge-approved observation: Red velvet doesn’t really have a flavor. It’s just the flavor of cake. I’m sure the Amish Lady red velvet is delicious because overall they make a mean cake. But at iffier places, ordering red velvet is a real gamble.
And that’s weird, right? That such a popular cake flavor is comprised of, like, a pinch of cocoa and a bunch of… the color red? I know what chocolate and vanilla taste like. I can say, this is off. But red velvet is so nebulous. Basically, it has to be a well-baked, moist-enough, fresh-ish piece of cake. And if not, it tastes like a brick.
So maybe I was never having a red velvet identity crisis. (As you may recall, the crisis was that I had no idea whether I loved or loathed red velvet, and therefore wasn’t sure if I knew MYSELF.) RED VELVET is the one having an identity crisis. Case closed.
And I will continue to sometimes order it and sometimes not, because I don’t want the bad experiences to keep me from trying new or acclaimed red velvet cakes. (But I will probably not order it at Aroma again… probably.) I will not be ruled by fear!
Speaking of identity & crises, my recent what-happens-to-my-Flickr-and-my-blog-when-I-die moment is apparently in the collective consciousness, because here’s an article about posthumous internet identities.
And speaking of identities, there’s kind of a weird crowd at Aroma. Part skeevy guys, part eavesdropping screenwriters, and too many parts industry people having coffee shop interviews/brag-a-thons. But… what can you do? Studio City, man.
Okay! I’m going to try to get a Philly post together RIGHT NOW. Stay tuned…