Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Brief Guide to Cakes at Museums in the British Isles

Pastries at the Fruitmarket Gallery Café, Edinburgh, Scotland

Guards at many of the museums I visited on a recent swing through Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dublin very kindly told me not to take pictures of the art on display. In place of tons of photographs of art (though some will be coming in the near future), here is a very short guide to some of the cakes that I saw and ate at various fine institutions around the British Isles. (This post owes a serious debt to C-Monster's delightful trip to El Bulli.)

Gingerbread cookie at the Fruitmarket Gallery Café

The redoubtable Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh had a tantalizing selection of pastries, including these large, joyful gingerbread cookies that had been dipped in chocolate.

A slice or orange and almond polenta cake at Fruitmarket

Check out the zest on that frosting! There's a little bit of a Larry Poons or Cy Twombly feel in the way it has been elegantly scattered across the sweet, citrus-packed icing.

A slice of chocolate ginger root cake at the Gallery Café of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

Dense, rich chocolate with just a tiny hint of spice: a Richard Serra sculpture covered with snow.

Chocolate ginger root cake at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Carrot cake at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

I couldn't handle a second slice of cake at the Scottish National Gallery, but this moist-looking nutmeg carrot cake looked particularly inviting.

Eduardo Paolozzi, Vulcan, 1998–99. Welded steel, 24 ft. tall. On display in the café of the Dean Gallery, Edinburgh

Because I was too busy staring at the a Boîte-en-valise on display at the Dean Gallery, the other modern art museum in Edinburgh, but this view into its café (which includes a fearsome sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi) was visible from the museum's second floor. Note the café tables hiding behind Paolozzi's Vulcan.

Carrot cake at the café of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, itsa@imma, in Dublin, Ireland

Tucked away in the Irish Museum of Modern Art's basement was a kitchen serving a remarkable carrot cake, a clear rival to MoMA P.S.1's formidable entry in that category.

Baileys Irish Cream cake at Brambles Café at Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane

The Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, named for its founding director (who died on the RMS Lusitania), has outsourced the operation of its café to the Brambles chain, which presented a strong selection of about a dozen different cakes. This Baileys Irish Cream cheesecake was surprisingly light and bracingly alcoholic.

Traditional Victoria jam sponge cake at the café at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Too exhausted and plump after so much cake eating, I could only look longingly at this traditional Victoria jam sponge cake, trying to convince myself that I was satiated by the Vermeer on view upstairs.

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