Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick? No, Saint Cupcake!

I never was a fan of Catholicism. A lot of my friends throughout school were Catholic and always got into trouble for "sinning", they couldn't play on Sundays and had to go to classes AFTER SCHOOL to learn more about Catholicism. As far as I was concerned, that was a bunch of B.S. Everyone knew after school and weekends meant play time. God wouldn't want kids locked up in a classroom for any longer than we already were, would she/he? I didn't think so either, so on the weekends I prayed where every good little teenage girl should--at the Church of Malls and Horse Stables ... and occasionally at the Aquarius Roller Skating Rink.

I have warmed up a bit more to the Catholic Church. My sister married a good Catholic boy and my niece and nephew were baptized in the church, so I pick stuff up by osmosis--usually around Christmastime. I love midnight mass (especially when it takes place at 5 p.m. and is preceded by dim sum) and the gorgeous churches that are lit by candlelight. I like that the priests aren't preaching hellfire and damnation and I especially love the stories of the Saints. So when I came upon a place called St. Cupcake in downtown Portland, I just about said 10 Hail Mary's. Was there such a person as a St. Cupcake? And why hadn't my Catholic friends told me about her?

Not literally a saint (but the owners should be at least considered for sainthood), Saint Cupcake is a bakery located in downtown Portland on the corner of NW 17th & Flanders. I pop in there a few times a month for the best cupcakes in town. My friends were visiting one weekend and we had eaten at St. Cupcake so many times that by the time they left on Sunday afternoon the woman working behind the counter said "oh, are you guys heading back to Seattle?"

The first time I set foot into St. Cupcake and took a look at their cheery pink, brown and cream decor I wanted to sit down and write out Valentine's Day cards or wrap presents for my friends in the colorful Sunday comics. I was literally walking back into my childhood when cupcakes meant parties, sugar highs and all of your friends gathered in the same place. I almost started jumping up and down asking if we could have a slumber party. But I refrained, and asked instead if I could have a chocolate cupcake ... and a coconut one ... and a red velvet one too. "To eat at home," I told the girl behind the counter. I admired her ability not to roll her eyes and say "yeah right."

Just as I was about to take a bite, I hesitated. As cute as cupcakes are, they were very often dry. I remember, when I was younger, specifically licking the frosting off their tops for that very reason. The cake, of course, would go to my dad. I tentitively took a lick of the chocolate buttercream frosting. I didn't want to be disappointed by something so cute. Luckily St. Cupcakes are as good as they look--I think a stick of butter goes into each cupcake. So the frosting was delicious, what about the rest of the cake? I closed my eyes and dug in. Moist, delicious and gone in a matter of seconds. Oh, and the one I was supposed to take home? Never made it.

Go now. Or rather, tomorrow. St. Cupcake is closed on Mondays, for even saints get their rest. The service is ummm ... usually lacking in personality. (Sorry St. Cupcake! But lying is a sin, or something, isn't it?) But you won't miss it once you take a taste. The owners, who are lovely, put their personality into where it matters most--a cute, lively place and cupcakes that taste like they've been sent down straight from heaven. Amen.