9 Ibn Gvirol
Mon-Thurs 8:30-21; Fri 8:30-15; Sun 8:30-21
After a particularly bad day, feeling homesick and fed up with dealing with the confusions and frustrations that come with living in a culture not my own, I set out to find some sort of comfort food, food that would transport me back home. Where does an American girl go to find comfort and familiarity in this big Mediterranean city? I thought of the place I used to go when I had a bad day at work in Washington, DC. Inevitably, after a hard shift at the office I rush over to the local cupcake shop to lighten my mood with a sugary taste of childhood enjoyment.
Fortunately, Tel Aviv has it’s very own purveyor of delicious comforting cupcakes, “Red Velvet.” Hoping to get out of my slump, I headed over to the shop full of anticipation. Inside the shop the air was heavenly and smelled of delicious sugary, buttery morsels baking in the oven. It was decorated simply, with checkered floors and Americana strewn throughout evoking the feeling of an American diner. The shop’s straightforward décor, instead of the usual froufrou design of boutique cupcake shops, coupled with it’s celestial smell demonstrated that whoever was in charge of the establishment was serious about her baked goods.
The woman behind Red Velvet is Sharon Blumenfeld, who, apart from being the owner is also the cupcake froster, and is usually there to greet you working the front of the store. Sharon and her husband Ariel opened Red Velvet this May. She was inspired by the bakeries in Manhattan she would dine at while she was in the city attending law school. Upon returning to Israel she opted to open her own New York style cupcake bakery instead of pursuing a career as an attorney. She called it Red Velvet after the crowd-pleasing cupcake.
As I walked into the shop, Sharon was busy expertly frosting some delectable carrot cupcakes. After placing swirls of creamy frosting on the little cakes she topped them off with cute sugary carrots and put them on display. My mouth was watering at the sight of the sweet delights.
I looked to the other cupcakes on display and I simply had to try the red velvet, after all the establishment carries the name of this famous treat, there is a lot of pressure to live up to. Once I tasted it, it became clear as day why it’s the most popular cupcake on the menu. Traditionally the red velvet gets it’s particular color from the reaction of unprocessed cocoa with the acid in the buttermilk. The cake was both light and moist and topped with decadent cream cheese frosting that smoothly melted in my mouth, coating my tongue with layers of silky texture. I had found my comfort source in this luscious treat, what could be better than a scrumptious cupcake for an American missing their native land?
On another occasion when I was struggling with a bad day, I tried the lemon meringue, a vanilla cupcake with lemon frosting. One taste transported me back to elementary school birthdays when all of the moms would bring in home baked cupcakes for the class. At that tender age, I would eat the plain cake base after licking off all the frosting. At red velvet, I was tempted to revert to this childhood habit and devour all of the sweet and citrusy frosting in a just a few licks, but I got my self together and controlled my inner child. My self-control was well rewarded! The tanginess of the frosting made with real lemon zest, mixed deliciously and harmoniously with the tame taste of the vanilla cupcake. This sweet reminder of childhood was the perfect remedy for my bad day.
Red Velvet is the perfect place for anyone who wants a taste of this pastry specialty. Even if you are not in the mood for cupcakes (as if that is possible) there are also other baked treats to enjoy at Red Velvet. In addition to the cupcakes, there are fresh baked brownies, blondies- a version of brownies, yet with brown sugar substituted for the cocoa, and assorted cookies and muffins. All of these treats evoke an American childhood, but the robust Italian espresso or homemade iced tea to pair with the treat, make you feel like the grown up you are. Red velvet will be there to brighten up a bad day or make a good day that much better, just remember to let yourself indulge in the sweet taste of a special memory!
Written by Laura Goldstein
Photographs: Laura Goldstein