Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Cupcake and LaHipster's Excellent Cake Adventure

The Cakeman of Harlem, Fulton Street Ft. Greene
Once upon a time, last Saturday, LaHipster and I went to BAM to see Broken Flowers, the amazingly cast yet wholly unsatisfying new Jim Jarmusch film. After the movie, LaHip was quite hungry and since the weather was so nice we decided to wander around in Fort Greene and look for food. It had been quite some time since I'd been in Ft. Greene, but I kept meaning to go and visit The Cakeman, the new Brooklyn outpost of a formerly - Harlem based cake operation. You may recall I had first heard about The Cakeman on the Public Radio show The Next Big Thing. I knew his new place was on Fulton Street, but I had no idea where, but the starving Hipster was very gracious to walk a few blocks with me until we found it.
When we got to The Cakeman's shop I began to understand what an experience this was going to be. The little shop was full of refrigerator display cases, all of them empty, and a line of people out the door. It was 9PM. A shopgirl told me that there was no cake, but some more cakes would be coming out of the oven in 20 minutes and we could come back. So we just shrugged and figured we'd come back before the shop closed at 10PM. Then we headed to Habana Outpost so LaHippster could get a Veggie Dog.
When we went back to the Cakeman it was 9:25pm. There were a few diehards milling around but inside the display cases were still empty and there was no cake to be seen. "No cake," said the shop girl. "The cake is all gone." I went back outside and told LaHip, "No cake, it's all gone."
"What do you mean, all gone? She told us to ocme back in twenty minutes and we came back. If there's no cake, the what are these people waiting for?" she said gesturing to the five or so people camped out on the benches outside the shop. At this point it bears mentioning that LaHipster does not even like cake. She did not want a piece of cake, rather, she just wanted to see me enjoy a piece of cake. I proposed that maybe the other people waiting all had special orders, I really didn't feel like making a scene. These people all seemed to be veterans of the Cakeman and they knew the deal, we were pale faced little newbies and I suggested that I could come back tomorrow. LaHip gave me a look like, just how serious are you about this cake? Do you think these people are more dedicated to cake than you are? Are you going to let yourself be pushed around or are you going to grow some cupcakes and get the cake that you so desperately lust after?
"Um, I could ask again?" I said.
"Eyes on the prize, Nance."
I went back into the shop. "Um, are you sure there's no more cake? I was here before and you told me to come back." The shopgirl said, "Look, there's two more cakes coming out of the oven, but don't tell anyone otherwise there won't be enough to go around. You're going have to wait. Another 25 minutes."
I went back outside and told LaHip if we waited with the diehards I could get a slice of the last cakes of the evening, but we had to keep it on the downlow. She didn't mind waiting. The sign on the door flipped to "Closed". I started chatting up my fellow Cakeman followers.
I didn't bother asking what kind of cake we were waiting for, when you're talking about "cake" at the Cakeman's place you are talking about his famous Red Velvet. It was the opinion of everyone in line that Cakeman Raven made the only Red Velvet in town worth talking about. Someone did say that Maxwell's made an edible one, but one only suitable if you were in withdrawl and couldn't get the Cakeman's own. "Maxwell's is like methadone," someone said. "This here is the good stuff, straight up." People seemed envious that I was about to have my first Cakeman experience, like they wished they could go back in time to experience the euphoria for the first time. One woman I was talking to had come out from Queens. She was planning on taking two slices home with her. They told me that from the time the shop opened in the morning, people lined up for the Cakeman's cake and the block was frequently filled with idling cars, double parked.
Basically, all of this talk was whipping me into a cake frenzy, and I was not alone. Although there was no sight of the cake yet, we pushed inside. There was fraternity on the line, but at the same time, we knew when the cakes came out of the oven, it was every man for himself.
To be continued...


A said...

i heart you

Simone said...

Ahhh I can't wait for the rest of the story!! It's so exciting!