Charmed City Cakes

Review: Sugar High

I have said it more than once.  I’m tired of dessert oriented shows.  I know that a lot of people dig them but for a savory guy they just don’t cut the mustard.  As humorous and charming as Adam Gertler is I really can’t get into Kid in a Candy Store.  I love Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats but it’s spin-off Unique Sweets bores me.  The same for Top Chef  and Top Chef: Just Desserts.  And don’t get me started on Cupcake Wars (worst show on TV).

Sugar High DuffThe one dessert show that I did like was Ace of Cakes which wrapped production last winter.  Let’s face it, Ace was the best and everything that’s come out since is trying to capture the magic at Charmed City Cakes.  But I didn’t dig Ace because of the mind-boggling cake sculptures, although they were cool, I liked it because of the staff at the bakery.  They were very interesting and funny people, devoid of onscreen drama.  Especially the adorable Katherine Hill. Purrrrr.

When a friend at the Network hipped me that Duff had a new show coming out I approached it with mixed feelings.  I, like most Food Network viewers, like Duff a lot.  He is one of the most recognizable stars in the food TV universe and one of the most likeable as well.  But at the same time it was sure to be just another dessert show.  Duff is great but it was his interaction with his staff that made Ace so much fun.

Imagine my surprise when I watched the premiere.  Duff makes an extremely good food/travel host.  It was still Duff, but there is a polish and professionalism to his voice-over narrative that makes him exceedingly approachable.  It isn’t silly nor over the top.  All of the voice-over work is so good it makes me wonder why he hasn’t made a career out of documentaries and commercials.  The voice was Duff, but then again it was someone new.

Then came the interaction with each featured vendor.  There was the old Duff. The joking, the crazy laugh, the quirky sense of humor; it was all there.  So now we have the best of both worlds.  The new, mature host Duff and the old, playful, cake blower-upper Duff.  What a terrific blend.

But what about the content?  It’s still just dessert right, glorified bowls of sugar?  Not for me it wasn’t.  The producers have done a great job of lining up vendors with personalities that compliment the host’s.  It made me care about desserts.  In fact, I’m adding Venice Beach’s Schulzies Bread Pudding to my “must do” list on my next trip to LA.

108 bread puddings?  Are you kidding me?  To me bread pudding is the perfect dessert food.  It can taste like whatever your favorite desserts is.  It’s easy as all get out to make, makes use of left-over ingredients (gotta watch that food cost) and it has tradition.  It has all of the things people look for in a great dessert – complexity of flavor, contrasting textures and luxury that can only come from sugar and saturated fat.  If you ever see me on a reality cooking competition you can bet my dessert course will be breading pudding.  Or Key lime pie.

Okay, back on topic.  I cannot believe how enjoyable I found the show.  Would I like it better if it were Ribeye High?  Probably, I never get tired of seeing a perfectly cooked medium-rare piece of meat,  That being said, I’ll be tuning back in to Sugar High and for me that’s high praise, especially for a dessert show.

Sugar High airs Fridays at at 10:30pm/9:30c on the Food Network.

Duff Returns to Food Network on a Sugar High

Duff Goldman of Sugar HighThe only pastry-oriented show I have ever really liked was Ace of Cakes.  Sadly it went off the air a few months ago.  Well Duff is back.  On August 8th Food Network premieres his new food/travel vehicle Sugar High.  I wonder if this is to replace Adam Gertler’s Kind in a Candy Store or if there is enough of a demand for dessert-programming to warrant another show. I’d kill a drifter if it took the place of Cupcake Wars or Tough Cookies.  Food for thought.  Here’s the 411 from the Food Network:

Duff Goldman, best known as the pastry mastermind behind the popular Food Network show, Ace of Cakes, is exploring a sugary curiosity. His new show, Sugar High, takes him on a cross-country trek to capture the sweet secrets and tasty techniques that keep the cookies from crumbling in the top bakeries around the nation. Premiering August 8, this six-episode summer feature will showcase the best sweet spots. From diners and curbside snow-cone machines to food carts and boutique bakeries, Duff will prove that decadent desserts are anything but ordinary.

Follow Duff as he stops for chilled bread pudding on the Venice boardwalk in California, pull up a seat at a roadhouse in Dallas for s’mores and have a slice of apple strudel in Chicago that is reminiscent of something you’d get in Europe. He also returns to down-home style with traditional rice pudding at a dessert boutique in Philadelphia.

Tune in: Monday, August 8 at 10:30 p.m. Eastern/ 9:30 p.m. Central

Dangerously Delicious Pies on Throwdown

Food Network is enamored with Baltimore’s Dangerously Delicious Pies.  As early as 2005, the famed Federal Hill bakery was featured in the pages of Everyday with Rachael Ray.  In 2008 they were featured on the first episode of Road Tasted with the Neely’s.  In that episode Pat and Gina learned about their wildly popular savory pies like the Steak Mushroom Onion and Gruyere and the Hot Rod Potato.

In 2009 Charmed City Cakes chef/owner Duff Goldman named their Baltimore Bomb Pie the “Best Thing He Ever Ate.”  Goldman is largely regarded as an expert in all things Baltimore as well as being the star of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes.  That same year Dangerously Delicious Pies was featured on Paula Deen’s Food Network show, Paula’s Best Dishes.

Dangerously Delicious Pies on WannabeTVchef.comThis week FN returns to Federal Hill with Bobby Flay challenging owner Rodney Henry to a Quiche Throwdown.  Henry started Dangerously Delicious Pies ten years ago and they sell sweet pies, savory pies and quiche.  It’s been said (and quite accurately, too) that men do not eat quiche but the exception to that rule would have to be quiche prepared by an Iron Chef.  Henry’s has some innovative flavor combinations like Spinach Goat Cheese, Crab and Cheddar and the very manly Bacon Onion Gruyere.  So what will Flay counter with?  Who wants to bet it involves chilies?

This episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay airs Wednesday at 8PM ET.

Steak Mushroom Onion and GruyereSteak Mushroom Onion and Gruyere

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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