Happiness in Red

Rainy days suck. Here in Singapore, over the past few days, it’s been pouring almost daily. According to local weather forecasts, the rain isn’t going to stop. It doesn’t rain constantly, mind you. It comes and goes in spurts. It could be perfectly sunny when you get out of bed, but by lunch time, it’s dark, hazy and wet.

During our visit to the USA earlier this year, S and I made a pilgrimage of sorts to Sprinkles, the super-cool cupcake shop that we first discovered via Matt Bites. We loved the pretty cakes, the sleek packaging, and the minimalist-chic interiors (I also liked the very cute sales staff, not that I was going to admit that to S). While there, we greedily devoured several of the cakes, washed down with tall glasses of organic milk. We also bought a couple of things to bring home, presents for friends and a very nicely-packaged tube of Red Velvet cupcake mix for ourselves.

For the past couple of months, the Red Velvet cake mix has sat on a counter in our main hallway. We’d walk past it daily, tempted each time to crack it open and whip up a delicious batch of cupcakes. But we had promised ourselves that this sweet treat would be saved for a “rainy day”, so to speak. Whether S had meant that to be a figurative rainy day or not, I’ll never know. This past week, I decided that the crappy weather was excuse enough to finally open the cupcake kit and bake a little Red Velvet sunshine.

Amusingly, when I opened the kit, I discovered that while the mix was correct, the instructions were mis-packaged. Instead of the Red Velvet cupcake instructions, we had been given notes for making Sprinkles’ dark chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting. Fortunately, the side of the tube the mix came in had a list of “What You’ll Need” for the Red Velvet cupcakes. Using that and intuiting how and when to mix ingredients, S and I forged ahead.

Red Velvet cake, for those who haven’t tried it, is a cocoa-based cake, spiked with a healthy dose of red food colouring and a little white vinegar. It is traditionally topped with a cream cheese frosting. The Sprinkles cupcakes came out really well. The cake itself had a nice, moist fluffiness. It was also surprisingly not that sweet, which given how sweet the frosting was, was a very good thing. These cupcakes were really good. Good enough to inspire me to start researching Red Velvet cake recipes (I’ve found two so far), which I plan on pairing with Martha Stewart’s orange-cream cheese frosting. In the meantime (and until I whip up a batch from scratch, at which point I’ll post a recipe), I’ve been happily enjoying the Sprinkles cupcakes, which are perfect with a well-brewed cup of tea. They’ve been the perfect antidote for a week of crappy weather.

Another little thing in Red

I travel a lot. And I try as much as possible to pack light. So when a friend of mine recently showed me the XMI X-Mini speaker, I was thrilled. Well, to be honest, first I was a tad skeptical. Then I tried it out. And then I was thrilled. This little tiny speaker, which you twist open and gently pull open when in use, is surprisingly clear and even more surprisingly, quite loud, loud enough at least to fill a hotel room. You can plug it into any MP3 player or other device with a single jack output. I use mine, of course, with my red iPod Nano, which I feel is a perfect match. You can recharge the X-Mini via USB, which means not having to carry extra power cords or adapters when you’re on the road (a major plus).

S was equally thrilled with the palm-sized speaker. While I like the red model, she prefers the black version (not surprising as her iPod Nano is also black). She’s been using hers in the kitchen a lot. She loves that she can just pop it open, plug in her iPod and she has her library of music at her finger tips. She’s off to Germany this weekend for a week and I know she plans to bring it along as well.

The coolest thing about the X-Mini is the fact that something so small is so powerful. The design is cute — arguably, it’s not the sexiest thing out there. But it is pretty cool. And for what it is, it’s pretty darned amazing.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

29 comments on “Happiness in Red
  1. Hi there!

    Would you by any chance have any contacts for freelance web designers?

    Am looking to design 3 websites for a furniture company, please let me know if you have any keen friends who are interested in this project so that I can email them the website brief.

    P/s: Would also love to add that I am an avid reader of your blog!=D

    Thanks!

    Cheers,
    V

  2. Just wondering where one can purchase one of these small, sweet speakers. Also, how is the sound quality of the speakers? These do really look good for travel! Thanks!

  3. Oh, I love Sprinkles. I always travel to L.A and get cupcakes from their Beverley Hill outlet. I really like their interior and packaging too. Its really simple yet so beautiful.

  4. Please, please please, I need this x-mini! is it available in the US? Or some online source that will ship here? Holidays are fast approaching, please hook me up.

  5. Wow, it’s lovely cupcakes! As I was wondering if I write a post about the cupcakes, your photos encourage me to bake one! Maybe this weekend, Yum.

    It’s first time to comment on your wonderful blog, and I thought, I’d better say hello as I eventually started up mine. Keep going – I love your blog!

  6. Hi Valarie, I know you were addressing your query on web designer to CH. But I thought you can consider blogger Veron who is a feelance web designer. If you are interested, pop by her blog, http://sparklette.net/ to find out more about her & her contacts.

    Hi CH, lovely cupcakes btw!! I feel like sinking my teeth into one of those cushy white icing…

  7. I’ve never posted a comment before although I’ve been following your blog for the longest time. But…you listen to Ani??? I’ve had a lot of ‘wow’ moments on your blog but this is the biggest…so I felt absolutely compelled to say “WOW that is very very cool” :)

  8. Olive: I first discovered Ani in 1992, through an ex-girlfriend. I was hooked from the first staccato guitar chord. I adore her music and think she’s a total genius. I used to try and go see her perform live whenever I had the chance. Sad that she’s never come out to perform in SE Asia.

  9. My partner calls her a “poet-philosopher” – I completely agree. We’re in NYC now and can’t wait to see her live again very soon. Maybe you should too the next time you pop by here, in addition to your food adventures :) Btw if you haven’t already, check out “Marlow & Sons” in Williamsburg…

  10. I was gifted that same cupcake kit! As a Southerner, Bedford-Stuyvesant resident and red velvet afficianado, my assessment of the cupcakes was as follows: meh. The cake was pretty good; the icing sweetened the deal, of course, but that was homemade. Those little dots, however, were nothing short of nasty.

    Please come to Brooklyn and let me show you what real red velvet should taste like. 😉

    Much love!

  11. Wow, amazing photos! What camera did u use for these? They look professional. I’m looking for a camera right now, and I love the effects. Let me know – I’d love your advice.

  12. Hi Elaine,
    If you scroll up this page and keep looking at the extreme right column, you will find the camera gear info you’re looking for.

  13. Dear guru CH, *bow* I’m going to Sydney for a short 4-day trip. I wonder if you have any restaurant, hotel or any recommendation that might be interesting. I’ve searched the blog but found nothing you’ve written in the past about Sydney. Hope you can help!

  14. I saw one in this shop, Pacific City, at Plaza Singapura over the weekend. Forgot about the price though, you can check it out.

  15. k: I know your question was directed at CH, but I was in Sydney 2 months ago on holiday and I’ve written about some of the restaurants that I ate at here. If you can’t be bothered to read, I’d recommend Yoshii, The Pier, Rockpool, and a visit to the fish markets in particular, apart from the obvious – Tetsuya’s, of course! If you can find a little time, there was a little place called The Tea Room at Gunner’s Barracks which was beautiful too. Only that can be a little hard to find.

  16. For me, the perfect red velvet icing is the one I grew up with, made from butter and crisco vegetable shortening, no cream cheese. I’d be happy to send you the recipe. Here in Sydney, we can get the shortening (which is not the same thing they call shortening in Australia) from American import stores and many specialty food shops.

    In addition to w’s recommendations for Sydney dining, I’d also add: Restaurant Balzac, Becasse and Pilu at Freshwater, and any time we have guests in town, we always do breakfast at The Bathers’ Pavilion. You can’t beat the view!

  17. Thought it looked like an aromatherapy burner i so want. Since it turns out to be a speaker, i think you may have found my hubby’s Xmas gift. Yippee and thanks!

  18. Long story, but I know the U.S. distributor of the X-mini capsule speaker. I have white, red, & black that I can sell to you. Only checks are accepted – no credit cards. Email steph2911@aol.com and I can hook you up.

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