My Cake Decorating Gallery

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Detroit Coney Taste-Off: American vs Lafayette

A recent trip into Detroit left us wondering where to have lunch and we decided to do the coney taste off, as featured on the Travel Channel's "Food Wars" and soon to be featured on the pilot of the Food Network's "Food Feud."

There are two famous coney islands right smack dab next to eachother in downtown Detroit. Maybe we should back up.... not everyone has "coney islands" or "coney dogs" available locally! What is a coney dog? I guess I always thought it had something to do with New York's Coney Island and that everyone had them, but Wikipedia  has informed me that it is actually a Michigan / midwest food specialty. A classic coney dog is made with an all-beef natural casing hot dog on a soft white bun with an all-meat chili on top, with yellow mustard and chopped yellow onions. It's a tasty combination and Michigan has a plethora of "Coney Islands" (which are little diner-style greasy spoon restaurants) and they all serve coney dogs, among other things like breakfast all day and Hany pita sandwiches, chili cheese fries, and many greek specialties... many Coney Islands are owned by greek families.

There are two styles of a Michigan coney dog - Flint vs Detroit. Detroit's chili topping is more soupy while the Flint topping (made of beef tongue) is dry, more like ground meat. They are both delicious and I know my mom prefers the Flint style. I like them both. I love Koegel hotdogs, which are made in Flint.

American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island both claim they invented the coney dog combination. American's website says it was founded in 1917. Lafayette doesn't have a website and I don't know much about its history but it has been in Detroit for a long time, too, right next door to American Coney on Lafayette Street. Lafayette Coney is much smaller and you sit at long old-school diner tables that you will possibly share with other patrons. American is the uniquely shaped restaurant on the corner and has a lot more, colorful dining space. I believe they are both open 24/7.

We went to Lafayette Coney first. We didn't order chili cheese fries but he dropped them off anyway and who are we to turn down fries. I scarfed down my hotdog faster than The Husband could say "geez, Wife" - needless to say, I was starving. This isn't exactly how I wanted to do my hotdog taste off - I had wanted to get take out from both places and then do a side by side comparison, but The Husband just doesn't understand so I just went along. I must say that while Lafayette went down fast, I could not really taste much in the chili topping - it had a nice consistency but I just wasn't getting any flavor from it.

Next, at American coney, we ordered another hotdog. The picture below is a little more sloppy than they are usually served, but that's the general look of a classic coney dog. We both agreed that the chili at American had more flavor and tasted like a classic coney dog that you would expect. It wasn't really that it was mind-shattering.. it tasted like what you'd get at National Coney Island or at the baseball game - and it was great. So, as Food Wars and Food Feud have both voted, we also voted for American Coney. I wanted it to be the little guy, Lafayette... but American coney had a lot more flavor in the chili and it was a tasty coney dog.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Cakes

Just a quick post showing a few cakes I made around Easter. The first one is just a trial-run cake with this new frosting medium that I am using for an upcoming wedding cake for a coworker. They had a sample of Marco/Joe's nerdy birthday cake  and liked the bettercreme filling and want that used as all of the frosting - outside and in. Bettercreme is a nondairy icing by Rich's and it is basically the type of frosting they use at Walmart and Costco. I can buy a quart of it from my cake supply store for $6.99 so it is relatively pricey. It is light and airy and comes in vanilla or chocolate and then you can use flavoring like puddings, extracts, etc to embellish it. I'm not a HUGE fan .. because it's fake... but for being fake it is OK and I needed to see how it would hold up on the outside of the cake for piping and sitting out overnight. What I don't like about it is that it doesn't "crust" like real butter buttercream would, so it is harder to get a perfectly smooth finish and if you accidentally bump the cake later, you can't smooth it back over - that will be ruined.

So the little bettercreme cake was just a trial run and I used a carrot cake mix that I had leftover and brought it into work for my bride-to-be coworker to take some home and then give the rest to my coworkers. Yes, those are carrots on a vine to decorate the top and I am well aware that carrots do not grow on a vine.. get over it. :)

For Easter dinner with The Husband's family, I had volunteered to bring a carrot cake but that got veto'd by The Husband and others, so I decided to make a scratch yellow cake from The Cake Bible (which was a totally awesome recipe, best scratch cake ever!) and I used blueberry and raspberry preserves in between the layers, along with the rest of my bettercreme which was flavored with pudding. I saw this cake on Martha Stewart (which used lemon curd but otherwise looked the same as mine) and I liked the look of the cake with just filling and no frosting on the sides of the cake - sometimes too much frosting is annoying. I made a 1.5 batch of the Cake Bible's "All Occasion Downy Cake" which ended up being too much and the cake was taller than it needed to be ... another monstrosity from Kitchen Bliss. I topped it with fresh raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. I also made some chocolate-covered strawberries since I sprung for the stemmed strawberries from Nino's, and I decorated them with white chocolate. The Husband loved the cake so that made me happy, though I am still in trouble for not making him a birthday cake. Oops!