Happy St. Patty’s Day!

I may not be Irish, but sure, I’ll take some luck and a smooch.

Pancake Review at: THE SMITH

Since the moment I landed home in NYC for my annual holiday visit, all I could hear about from my mother was that I needed to try the Salted Caramel Pancakes from our neighborhood restaurant hot spot, The Smith located on 63rd and Broadway; however, there was one problem – I was getting all 4 wisdom teeth removed a few hours after I landed at JFK! While I wasn’t sure whether or not these pancakes would be worth all the motherly hype, one thing was for sure – the thought of dripping salted caramel over a bed of pancakes was enough to force me into an early recovery. Fortunately, I was in good paws and had the best healthcare:

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After about seven days of yogurt, eggs, and occasional mac and cheese (I pretty much was only able to taste and swallow), you can imagine how my mouth watered with the thought of these legendary pancakes. Mistakenly, we visited The Smith after 12pm on Wednesday, and learned the hard way that you can *only order brunch before 11am.*

By Saturday, Christmas finally came and after a quick glance at the menu, stitches still intact, I ordered the food item that I had been hearing about for weeks.

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The Salted Caramel Pancakes from The Smith were everything I had imagined, and more. The pancakes themselves were like heavenly pillows; if I could have placed those in my mouth after surgery, instead of the gauze, the recovery process would have been much more sweet and savory. The pancakes were so fluffy and delightful that I actually smiled (to the best of my ability) while eating. The touch of salted caramel to the already delectable delicacies created a pancake party in my healing mouth.

While I don’t care much for pecans, nor could I eat anything crunchy anyway, I did appreciate that The Smith placed the pecans on top of the pancakes, as opposed to in the batter. As I’m also not much of a whipped cream person, the, instead, whipped ricotta definitely made the dish more unique. At the end of our meal, I thought for sure my mom would smile with vindication, but she instead said concluded breakfast with “cute waiter!” Like mother like daughter I guess. Hours later, as I’m now getting ready for dinner, I’m still thinking about those pancakes, and while I do have more restaurants to try, these bad boys might just be my new favorite pancakes in NYC. Well mom, this is the only time that I won’t mind hearing “I told you so.”

And for a full video of the Salted Caramel Pancake experience:

IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with special guest, Co-Founder of Tinder, Jonathan Badeen

This weekend I was very fortunate to have Co-Founder of Tinder Jonathan Badeen join me as a Guest Reviewer for Ma’amCakes!

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Tinder, created in 2012 by Jonathan, Justin Mateen and Sean Rad, is a popular dating app that facilitates communication between mutually interested users. The app encourages users to either swipe right (or press the heart) if you’re interested, or swipe left (or press the “x”) if you’re uninterested; the only way you can message a user is if you are both a mutual match. While this feature is beneficial to prevent communication with any crazies, one of the best components of the app is that it requires a Facebook account in order for you to register. Although Tinder has received some complaints about this, Jonathan informed me that the Facebook requirement was actually created to make its female users feel somewhat safer about using the app (i.e. perhaps you might be more inclined to meet a dude when you see that you have four Facebook friends in common).

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On that note, I should mention that I actually met Jonathan because… we matched!

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Although Tinder was originally popular with students between the ages of 18-23, the demographic is slowly shifting to upper 20s-early 30s. In fact, because of these original demo statistics, the speculation began that the app was meant for just “hooking up.” Yes folks, the idea that Tinder is meant to be a straight version of Grindr is just a RUMOR! Jonathan mentioned that because college students have a (somewhat) easier time meeting their relationship candidates, students typically use Tinder strictly for hooking up, thus the rumor began. Like I suspected, Tinder can be meant for everything: finding new friends, relationships, or even a special someone you can share pancakes with. So there you have it people; calm down in those initial messages, and maybe keep it in your pants a little longer!

By definition, Tinder is “dry, flammable material, such as wood or paper, used for lighting a fire,” hence the origin of its name. As a result, when choosing a spot for this pancake review, I thought we’d keep it thematic, and visit 3rd St. hotspot Toast!

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Upon choosing our pancakes, I decided to go with the Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes (btw, it should be noted that the chocolate chips are sprinkled into the batter, while the bananas are on top of the pancakes):

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These pancakes were delicious, and considering they were filled with chocolate chips, they actually tasted rather lite. I will admit I did use syrup (which, as you can recall, Ma’amCakes’ motto is that a truly delicious pancake doesn’t need syrup) BUT, what can I say, I like chocolate chip pancakes with syrup! It’s my go-to. The cherry on the cake of this pancake were the bananas on top. De-lish!

After asking the waitress which pancakes she recommended, Jonathan decided to go with the Multigrain Pancakes topped with fresh berries, bananas, and candied pecans:

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“These are definitely healthier pancakes,” said Jonathan, “they don’t feel too heavy.” Jonathan needed some syrup on his pancakes as “the fruit is a little tart,” but he otherwise enjoyed the meal. “I really liked the candied pecans- I’ve never had pecans in pancakes before.” I guess when you’re developing a super popular app, you don’t have time to get out much! “These definitely don’t feel gluttonous, so I won’t feel bad after.” Agreed – in fact, that’s the best part about (well-made) Multigrain Pancakes!

Thank you so much Jonathan, for being a part of Sunday brunch with Ma’amCakes! When I suggested there be a “back button” feature to the app, Jonathan said Tinder is working on it, and that while he is sworn to secrecy, we should “stay tuned for exciting new features that will allow you to engage with your matches to a new level!” Swipe right.

IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guest, Comedian and Actress, Kim Coles

Right before the holidays, I was incredibly honored to have Comedian and Actress Kim Coles join me as a Guest Reviewer for Ma’amCakes!

Kim, best known for her work on In Living Color, and Living Single, has also appeared on many television shows including Frasier, Six Feet Under, Celebrity Fit Club, and The View.

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Although I typically don’t mention how I meet my Guest Reviewers, Kim and I have a rather cosmic connection, as I actually met her on a night that I lost my job. That evening, I happened to be partaking in part-time promotional work for one of the studios, and my assignment was at The Comedy Union on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA. Kim, who was performing that night, along with the owner, took me under their wings, fed me drinks, and helped me figure out a plan of action. Of all the nights to lose your job, but still have to work an additional gig, I couldn’t have asked to be around more caring, positive, and hilarious people. For that, she should maybe consider changing her name to Kim Cools.

As fate would have it, a few weeks later I happened to spot Kim at JFK Airport in New York City(!), and to make sure it was really her, I Tweeted her just to confirm. Next thing I knew, I was in a three-way Tweet convo between Kim and Sherri Shepherd that unfolded like this:

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And finally, as I’ve locked myself in my apartment to write this review on a Saturday night (that makes me a serious writer, by the way), low and behold I discovered that today is Kim’s birthday. Coincidence? I think not!

Upon choosing a restaurant for our review, Kim informed me she was eating gluten-free, so I took her to… any guesses?? Bea Bea’s! Not only do they have some of the best pancakes in Los Angeles, but they have the largest amount of gluten-free breakfast options I’ve ever seen; I mean, check out this extensive menu!

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Kim mentioned she had many fond memories in that part of Burbank, as Living Single was shot down the street at Warner Brothers.

When repeating restaurant locations for a review, I typically try to order pancakes I’ve yet to experience from the menu, and Bea Bea’s is no exception. So, during this outing, I went with the Pink Ribbon.

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Talk about In Living Color! The freshness of the strawberries, blueberries, and bananas is making my mouth water all over again; throw in the pancakes, and I might start licking my laptop screen! The Pink Ribbon pancakes at Bea Bea’s are everything you’d imagine them to be, and more. But what’s the best part about these pancakes, you ask? The fact that they don’t need a drop syrup. After all, Ma’amCakes’ is motto is: that a truly delicious pancake doesn’t need syrup.

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Kim decided to go with the Pooh’s Sunrise (which, FYI, is on the back of the menu), so that she could incorporate bacon and eggs into her meal, and also asked to switch the maple syrup for agave. Kim definitely enjoyed her food. “These are amazing,” said Kim. “And the best part is that they don’t make my tummy hurt, like typical pancakes can do.” When asking Kim which pancakes she would try next time, Kim replied “Either the Chocolate Tuxedo or the Chocolate Fantasy.” With those choices, I’d be perfectly happy to be her partner, er, pancake in crime for the next outing!

Thank you so much, Kim, for being a part of Saturday brunch with Ma’amCakes! Be sure to check out Kim’s Gratitude Journal, and for those of you in the LA area, you can see Kim in her one-woman show at the Pasadena Fremont theater on February 21st and 22nd, as well as her performances at The Comedy Union.

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IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guest, LA Kings’ Dustin Penner

This weekend I was incredibly honored to have pro hockey star Dustin Penner, join me as a guest reviewer for Ma’amCakes.

In 2007 during his first full season with the Anaheim Ducks, Dustin and his team brought home the Stanley Cup. After getting traded to the Los Angeles Kings a few years later, Dustin scored a game winning goal in 2012 which landed his team in the Stanley Cup finals; on June 11, 2012, the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils, awarding Dustin his second Stanley Cup victory.

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Now, those of you who know me well are probably wondering why I have a sudden interest in hockey. I’ll admit, the last Ducks coach I knew of was Gordon Bombay; however, right around Ma’amCakes’ one-month birthday, a little fiasco known as “Pancake-Gate” was brought to my attention, starring none other than…Dustin! Take a look:

LA Kings left winger Dustin Penner serves up pacake breakfast to fans who gathered in Westchester for the "Pancakes for Penner" event. Photo by Brad Graverson 2-13-12

Needless to say, this was a hockey player with whom I had to get my puck on.

Flash forward more than one year later, I took a Sunday morning drive down south to Costa Mesa, California to brunch with Dustin over some good ol’ fashioned pancakes.

At the request of Dustin (and considering I’d never been to Costa Mesa), we visited local spot, Side Street Cafe, located on Newport Boulevard and 18th Street. Based on its door-verbiage, and Yelp and CitySearch love, I knew I was going to like this place even before viewing the menu.

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Reading a menu which looked like the chef’s notes from the corner of a napkin, was actually a breath of fresh air. The casual ambiance of the restaurant made me feel at home, as opposed to dining at a stuffy upscale brunch spot. I’m guessing this is why they call it Side Street? In the end, both Dustin & I settled on the short stack of Banana Pancakes:

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Just like its menu, the Banana Pancakes from Side Street Cafe felt like home. The bananas were super fresh, and the pancakes were baked to perfection. “The Banana Pancakes are excellent,” said Dustin. “I love that they have great banana dispersion. Also, because the bananas are evenly sliced, they don’t overwhelm the rest of the pancake, and you get the same consistency.” Good point, Dustin!

When asking Dustin if there were any additional pancakes he’d like to see on the menu, his number one choice was Peanut Butter Pancakes. Hey Side Street, new menu item perhaps? As we were wrapping up breakfast, Dustin suddenly had one more thing to add. “Oh, I also really like the texture. The pancakes are soft enough to eat, even with my fake tooth.” Hearing this did make me giggle. But, then I remembered that we are in LA – most people here are sporting something that’s fake!

Overall, the pancakes at Side Street Cafe were delicious; some might even say, they’re fit for a King.

Thank you so much, Dustin, for being a part of Sunday brunch with Ma’amCakes! For more information about the Kings’ charity, The Kings Care Foundation, click here.

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Stephen Colbert’s Views on TSA Scanner-Defying Pancakes!

Check it out!

Well, Drew Carey Can Appreciate an Automatic Pancake Maker!

Check out this video of Drew Carey’s reaction to the Automatic Pancake Maker giveaway on The Price is Right!

Check Out This De-Lish Lemon Poppy Seed Pancake Recipe!

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For step-by-step directions, check out PleaseNotePaper.com

IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guest, Celebrity Makeup Artist, Elle Leary

Oct 10, 2012

This weekend I was stoked to grab some Saturday pancakes with celebrity Makeup Artist, Elle Leary. Elle has painted the recognizable faces of varying talent including Josh Duhamel, Ron Artest, Ellen Page, Paul Rudd, Pat Sajak, Alanis Morrisette, Dane Cook, Jennifer Coolidge, Steve Carrell, Pete Wentz, and more. In addition to this uh-mazing clientele list, Elle has created looks for assorted publications such as, Vogue, Harper’s Bizarre, Nylon, 944, and Out. As Elle is (pretty much) bi-coastal these days due to her demanding schedule, I was super fortunate that she could meet me for some pancakes!

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Although I had several places in mind for our brunch, Elle informed me that she is actually intolerant of pancakes with gluten; needless to say, I had to scratch my original ideas. After violently searching the internet for gluten-free pancake options in LA, turns out the restaurant with the most variety is (where else?) BEA BEA’S! Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking: I’ve already reviewed here! While I did come across Hugo’s and Jacks n Joe during my gluten-free search, their options weren’t as enticing as Bea Bea’s. If I’m getting an awesome Guest Reviewer for a Ma’amCakes piece, I must take them to the creme de la creme of gluten-free pancake spots!

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So, those (above) were the pancakes I was debating between (obviously I’m going to review pancakes I haven’t previously tried at Bea Bea’s!). In attempting to decide, my thought process went as follows: I do love s’mores, and thought that dish would be a great way to celebrate the end of summer. Or, in recognition of BCA Month, the Pink Ribbon would be appropriate. But, when it came down to that final moment, (you know, when the waitress is patiently waiting for you to make up your mind) I listened to past IN THE MIX guest, Kelle King, as she always told me to “go for the Just For You Pumpkin!”

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Now, typically, I very much dislike the end of summer. However. Looking at these beautiful, orange, autumn pancakes really got me to embrace the change of seasons. “Pumpkin pancakes topped with pumpkin cream cheese marmalade and whipped cream” – who would have guessed that translated into “when you bite into this dish, you can actually taste Thanksgiving!”I have reviewed pumpkin pancakes once before at Doughboys; but by a fraction of a turkey-feather, the Just For You Pumpkin Pancakes at Bea Bea’s may have taken the cake – er, pancake.

Upon ordering her meal, because Elle has several food allergies, she stuck with the gluten-free plain pancakes/Jumpin Jacks. Although, because of Elle’s impeccable taste for makeup, style, and high fashion, we’ll just call these “Vintage Couture Pancakes.”

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I must say, although I’ve never had gluten-free plain pancakes at Bea Bea’s, these looked anything but plain! Elle agreed, when she shouted “um, these are insane!” When taking a Guest Reviewer for breakfast, it’s (obvi) really important that my guest is 100% satisfied. In deciding where to take Elle, I was a bit nervous because of her food allergies; however, once we agreed on Bea Bea’s, I realized I had nothing to worry about! “Seriously, the consistency is almost the same as regular pancakes. It’s SO hard to find gluten-free food that tastes similar to regular food, but these really do!” Phew. During our meal, I noticed Elle poured the entire cup of syrup on her Jumpin Jacks, and then asked our server for another cup. “Oh yea,” she said, “I’m a syrup junkie. When my dad used to make me pancakes as a kid, I’d always pour syrup on, roll ’em up, and eat ’em – but in the comfort of my own home, of course!” Don’t worry Elle, we won’t tell anyone! Besides. Who doesn’t have their own quirky food habits?!

Overall, the Just for You Pumpkin Pancakes at Bea Bea’s may have been a record breaker. As the fall season is upon us, and your tongue is just starting to crave that autumn food, be sure to grab a bite of these bad boys. If you’re in need of gluten-free pancakes, Bea Bea’s is for sure your number one spot. As Elle came all the way from the outskirts of Culver City for the review, I think she can vouch for that statement, as she said “These are definitely worth the drive.”

Thanks so much, Elle, for being a part of Saturday morning brunch with Ma’amCakes! Keep up with Elle’s awesome beauty blog, The Lash Effect, and her YouTube channel, Elle Leary Artistry, where you can check out her super helpful beauty video tutorials!

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Ma’amCakes’ Future Guest Reviewer? My Long Lost Friend from NYC, Constantine Maroulis! Can’t Wait


Constantine Maroulis Ma'amCakes Future Guest Reviewer