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Friday, March 9, 2012

Food Finds: Cupcakes, Donuts and Fried Chicken


Finally had the chance to taste Federal Donuts donuts, coffee and fried chicken.  I went at an off-hour and discovered that is the key time to visit this hotter-than-a-batch-of-chicken-out-of-the-fryer establishment.  The birds and donuts are literally flying out of the store, from 7 am until they run out of food, which by their tweets and Facebook posts, happens every day well before their posted closing times.  The shop, located at 2nd and Manton Street, is located on the corner of a small side street between Federal and Wharton Streets, in the TWO-Street district, aka, Mummer's Row.  The hours seem to be typically 7 am to 5 pm daily.  The store's been open since October and the press on this place has been positive and plentiful months before its actual opening.  Even though I used to live within a mile of the store, I never had the chance to get there.  And when you constantly read that they are sold out within hours of opening, the desire to trek over there wanes quickly.  I wanted to wait until the hype died down.  Fat chance!  The hype is still strong but the store proprietors are more retail savvy; chicken and donut quantities are more plentiful throughout the day.  I'm not reading as many SOLD OUT Tweets every day; store hours appear to last until their closing time.

Nate and I had a day about town a few weeks ago, part of that day included our Flickr Photo walkabout, a visit to the Opera Company and then we picked up our car.  I had the car and the time I figured a side trip was worth taking to see if Federal Donuts was open. I was hopeful there would be some scrap of food left for sale!  After 1 pm on a Sunday was the perfect time.  Fancy donuts were gone for the day but fresh, hot cake donuts were made on the spot if I was willing to wait a few minutes, which we gladly did.  Fresh, hot fried chicken was also still available.  While I waited for the food to be cooked, I chased Nate around the small store.  He climbed onto the clever counter stools that fold/swing away under the counter. I attempted to drink one of the strongest cups of coffee I've had in years. I hadn't had a cup of coffee in two weeks having been sick and unable to enjoy my daily cup of Joe.  What a jolt to my system!  The coffee could put hair on your chest - it's super hot, super strong and super good.  

We waited to eat the donuts and chicken for a few hours, which was too bad for the quality of the food but nice that I waited for Liz to come home so she could enjoy my food finds.  The donuts were magnificent, even if they weren't enjoyed moments after they were made.  Light, airy, not greasy and packed with flavors like high quality Indian cinnamon, cardamon, Chinese 5 Spice, and lavender.  These are worth a long bike ride, a long car ride and getting up extra early to be first in line in the morning for the first batch.  These are Bicycle-Chef desired but not sanctioned.  I'd have to make 4 trips over the Ben Franklin Bridge just to work off one donut.  Consider these a once in a blue moon treat if you are watching your weight and you don't want to see it balloon up!  A cake donut costs $1.25, a bit more than those institutional Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kremes but worth oh so much more!

As for the chicken, it was very good too, albeit small and expensive. Half a chicken runs $9 and the pieces are small but they are top quality.  You pay a bit more than say, at Popeyes or KFC but there isn't any comparison.  The chicken is flavorful and moist.  I got the Za'atar seasoning for my first try, forgoing the harissa and glazes for another time. I think it would have been better to eat fresh out of the fryer immediately after it was cooked.  By the time we ate it, 4 hours later, I had to reheat it. I haven't had fried chicken in at least 5 years and I never eat the skin, until now.  We ate every scrap and I would have eaten the chicken bones too if I thought I could digest them! Homemade gingery pickles and a cake donut come with each order. 

 I'm not sure how many miles I would need to do in order to earn and burn these calories.  Let's just say that while this chicken is indeed, finger lickin' good, the cluckiest best I've had in years, I won't be indulging in it more than once in a while (read maybe once or twice a year) for fear of looking like the female Emeril or Mario Batalli or a younger Paula Deen version of Bicycle-Chef!  Federal Donut's simple menu of Donuts, Chicken and Coffee is a big hit, living up to the gotta-have it/eat it hype. I'm sure this formula will be duplicated around town.  Until another venue or copy-cat comes along go and check out this place pronto!

Across the river and Ben Franklin Bridge, I discovered an excellent cup cake shop in my new home town of Collingswood, My Little KupKake, located at 685 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, NJ  08108.  
 
Cup cakes are usually not my thing.  Candy, ice cream, donuts and  pie are my dessert weaknesses.  To me, cup cakes are over-blown bon bons; waxy, dry, over-priced disappointments.  When it comes to cupcakes, looks usually are deceiving.  Remember my post about Staten Island Cakes? Those looked great but tasted like a jar of Crisco dipped in sawdust crumbs.  My Little Kupkake remedies my aversion to the pretty petite treat.  These cakes are gorgeous and tasty, moist, and flavorful.  The cake has a tender crumb and best of all, the icing is real! You don't feel like you just ate a big scoop of butter-flavored Crisco.  They come in three sizes - baby bear, momma bear and big bear sizes!  There are scads of flavors that change every day and week. Best of all, the prices are GREAT, ranging from $1.25 to $3 for a large that's big enough to generously share. We've been to the shop a few times and haven't been disappointed. 

So far we've tried the carrot cake, with real creamcheese frosting; chocolate and vanilla which Nate loved; Dulce du Leche; peanut butter and jelly, which reminded me of what Tasty Kake's Jelly Krimpets used to taste like back in my childhood when they were still wrapped in wax paper and cost 20 cents a pack!  Liz had the Almond Joy KupKate, topped with a huge chunk of a real Almond Joy bar.  Our friend, Steven, has come over twice to have the Red Velvet Cake KupKake - he's hooked!   The flavors, prices and location are all tempting me to stop into this store every day on my way home from work. I'll be good and keep on walking or riding by but...if you want a cup cake that won't disappoint you or leave your wallet empty, My Little Kupkake is worth a visit in Collingswood.  These babies might only set you back a ride or two around the Cooper River to work off and earn!

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