Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cups is family friendly fun

Cups has been written up SD Family friendly blog,
Check it out!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I haven't desserted you...

Sorry there's been no post here in a bit - we're in the process of moving our blog to our new web site, coming out next week! Of course, these things always take longer than expected (due in large part to me, I suspect), so sorry. We will be back - I've been holding back in anticipation of the move!
Lots of new an exciting things coming in the updated web site...mostly inresponse to customers.
First, we make it easier to see the full class schedules for the upcoming months at Cups Culinary, and sign up online for maximum efficiency. We are also offering a free Cups App at the same time - so our friends can see not only what flavors are being offered that day (and every day that week), but also what specials are going on in the lounge and what classes are on the horizon. People always seem so disappointed when their favorite flavor isn't being offered the day they come in. We always tell them it's on the web site, but that's not as easy as checking your phone!
There's generally a lot more content and photos of our Cups, parties, events, and lots more. We get so much fan mail and photos, we wanted a way to share that.
We are constantly striving to make the Cups experience as good as possible, not only by serving the best cupcakes in San Diego, but also by making the experience as seamless as possible. If there's anything we do you think we could do better, please let me know. Our goal is 100% satisfaction, and we know we've got work to do.
But we're not even one year old! In fact, we're coming up on on our one-year anniversary Thanksgiving weekend. Stay tuned for more info on exciting anniversary offers and events.
If you're in town this weekend, and in costume, stop by Cups and other participating vendors on Girard for "Pillage the Village," free trick-or-treat goodies from 4-6 pm, after which we'll have our Scary-oke!
That's it for now. More substantive posts once this #@%*^&^$%$#^^ web redux rolls out!

Monday, July 26, 2010


MONDAY: "BRAZILIAN" Latte - 2 spoonfuls of Brazilian sugar with espresso, streamed milk and foam.

TUESDAY: "VIENNESE" Cappuccino - cinnamon and honey with espresso, steamed milk and foam.

WEDNESDAY: "MATCHA GREEN TEA" Latte - Matcha green tea, agave, steamed milk and foam.

THURSDAY: "VANILLA CHAI" Latte - Our house-made Chai latte with vanilla flavoring.

FRIDAY: "RASPBERRY WHITE MOCHA" Latte - Organic Raspberry Syrup with our house White Chocolate, house-made chocolate sauce, espresso, steamed milk and foam.

SATURDAY: "VIENNESE" Cappuccino - cinnamon and honey with espresso, steamed milk and foam.

SUNDAY: "MATCHA GREEN TEA" Latte - Matcha green tea, agave, steamed milk and foam.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cups Culinary Specials of the weekend and Daily Specials

Extra special deals on Cups Culinary Classes this weekend!

Tomorrow's Table Decor - Seaside Soiree Class featuring Olga Krasnoff and the cuisine of our very own Jesus Gonzalez (formerly of Rancho La Puerta fame), 2:30-5:30 pm - special - half-off, only $30!!!

Sunday's Market-To-Table class featuring Jesus Gonzalez - this Sunday only - reduced to $50.

E-mail to reserve your spot before they're all gone!

But every day at Cups is special so why not have a daily special. See the list below and remember to mark your calendars!

  • Mon - MANIC MONDAY! Buy a dozen mixed flavors of the day and save 25%!
  • Tues - TWO for TUESDAY - Buy one full size "Flavor of the Day" CUP and receive one free!
  • Wed - STUDENT HUMPDAY - 25% off any food or drink purchase with valid student ID!
  • Thurs - GEAR UP FOR THE WEEKEND - 10% off all Cups Merchandise.
  • Fri - Stop in tonight for our local "Sweet Beats and Eats" featuring local DJs 6:30-9:30pm! - INDUSTRY HAPPY HOUR 6-10pm - 25% off all food and drinks for those in the restaurant "biz" (bring copy of paycheck stub to verify).
  • Sat - Stop in tonight for our local "Sweet Beats and Eats" featuring local DJs 6:30-9:30pm! (Friday & Saturday nights)
  • Sun - SUNDAY FUNDAY: Join us every Sunday at the ever popular La Jolla Farmers Market from 9am-1pm.
Plus, the more cupcakes you buy the more you save! By five cupcakes get the sixth free!

Look forward to seeing you at our place.

The Cups Team

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Cups is the first all organic cupcakery and full-scale teaching kitchen and party room - the whole package under one roof. We are, first and foremost, about making incredibly creative cupcakes to suit all audiences (young and old), palates (simple and sophisticated), and dietary needs (gluten free, vegan, dairy free, and low glycemic index).

Our Cups feature fresh seasonal items, so availability varies throughout the year. In summer we feature our Summer Berry Splash (featuring house-made lemon curd and raspberry syrup - made from raspberries from my garden), Lime-Chile-Mango, and Fig Leap (topped with goat cheese frosting featuring house-made goat cheese), and Raspberry Basil. Late summer we offer Caramel Apple (featuring fresh apple compote). In fall we offer Pumpkin Cardamom and in winter we have Arancia and Minty Wonderland. We just had the best year ever of chmomile in my garden so Chef Jesus came up with the amazing Cozy Cup.

Year-round we serve up a variety of fresh flavors such as Caramelicious (featuring fleur-de-sel caramel center and frosting), Curry Cup (chocolate curry cup topped with chocolate-coconut-curry frosting and curried coconut chips), Cocoa-Ginger (flavored with organic ginger root), Honey Lavender (featuring local organic honey and lavender), Tiramisu (featuring house-made mascarpone and coffee liqueur) among many, many others. Not a week goes by we aren’t creating something new! The most recent addition to our repertoire is the addition of whey (from our cheese-making) to our Cups to give them a little protein boost - who says cupcakes can't be healthy!

Our Gluten-Free Cups include Limone Ricotta (featuring house-made ricotta cheese), and an as-of-yet unnamed creation by Chef Jesus of coconut and cream cheese. Our Vegan Cups come in nearly as many flavors as our standard and would pass even the most skeptical palate. Our Low Glycemic Cups are sweetened with fresh fruits and organic agave syrup.
While we aspire to create a unique dining experience for the cupcake connoisseur, there is so much more to what we do.

Why Organic?
I think the question we are most often asked is “why organic?” We believe our Cups taste better because we use only the freshest, top-quality ingredients – organic and local. We also believe that in today's world, in order to make a difference, companies need to think differently, so we base our food-buying decisions not only on the superior taste and quality of the products we choose, but also on the health and welfare of people, animals and the earth. Eating foods grown or harvested organically isn’t just better for you, because it has no added pesticides and hormones, for example, but also better for all of us, in that less toxins are released in their making. Along the same line, we also pride ourselves on buying locally, so that more of our food dollars go to the ones who produce the foods we use. We do so in order to support our farmers, our community and the earth we all share.

Our Cups feature Giustos organic flours from San Francisco. Our sugars come from Wholesome Sweeteners, an organic and fair trade-certified producer where farmers are paid a premium for their crops. Our organic eggs and produce come from North County’s Chino Valley Farms. Our top quality organic chocolate comes from San Luis Obispo’s Sweet Earth’s Organic. Our butter comes from Organic Valley, a cooperative of family farmers.

Our special Cups Blend Organic Coffee, which will be served in our lounge by our baristas trained in the classical Italian art of espresso-making, is roasted in North Park by Caffe Calabria. We exclusively serve ice cold milk “on tap” from Straus Family Creamery, California’s first certified organic dairy. The only sodas we serve will be made in-house, using naturally filtered and carbonated water and organic fruit-juice blends made in-house and by the mixologists at Snake Oil in La Jolla. Our mochas and chocolate milk feature our own organic chocolate syrup. Our drinks will be sweetened by organic sugar, agave syrup and natural stevia – never by little colored packets.

How big is our footprint?
We worked to achieve a 3 Star Green Restaurant Certification - and we are the only restaurant in the San Diego are to have achieved this level certification, and the only bakery in all of California. We used recycled renewable materials in the design of our lounge. For example, our bar countertop consists of a product that is manufactured using 100% recycled glass, and our walls are covered with environmentally sustainable Richlite and Formica, both of which are made of recycled paper. Our flooring system consists of environmentally friendly stone composite materials. Additionally, we are using a recycled plastic material from a new product line by 3form as a feature design element – which is the first application of its kind in Southern California. We even use recycled glass milk bottles (courtesy of Strauss) for a feature display wall.

Our milk is served in reusable Straus milk bottles. Our to-go cold drink cups and cutlery are made from corn. Our hot drink to-go cups are all made of 100% compostable recycled materials.
Our cleaning products are all environmentally responsible: non-toxic, non-chlorine-based, carcinogen free and packaged in recycled containers.

Origin of Cups
Though I pursued another career path, my love of real food was always paramount - initially I would say a result of the way in which I grew up in Europe. We raised cows, pigs and chickens. We had a little garden patch on the outskirts of town where we grew our own vegetables (as was customary then). And what we didn't gproduce ourselves, we bought at the small, single-item purveyors: bread from the bakery, meat at the butcher, vegetables at the weekend stalls in the center of town. Both of my parents (with differnet ethnic backgrounds) cook - well! My uncle was a baker by trade. At some point I knew I needed to make the transition from home cook to professional one. For years I planned on opening a restaurant, and then (realizing the enormity of such a venture) I started to scale down . . . first, into a deli, featuring both sweets and savories, then even smaller like a coffee shop/patisserie, and then finally all the way down to a single item – the cupcake. This happened concurrently with the cupcake craze taking over the world; I certainly wasn’t at the start of the trend, but I knew I had something to add to the mix, rather than be just another add-on. There were a handful of tasty cupcakeries, but none featuring the local and organic ingredients that I am passionate about. I also wanted to create an environment where chefs could work and learn from one another in, cross-training sweet to savory, cooking and baking to teaching.

I spent this past spring in Sonoma, teaching cupcake classes at Relish Culinary and interning at Pugs Leap goat farm (after which our “Fig Leap” Cup is named) to learn the ins-and-outs of goat farming and cheese making - my final training for the premiere of Cups Lounge as a destination, instead of simply a cupcake catering operation as it had been. The experience also persuaded me to include a teaching kitchen in my space, so I could share my passion with others and feature similarly minded chefs as well.

Cups Founder

Thursday, June 3, 2010

More on Being Green

Today I learned that the the La Jolla town council may get sued for sponsoring fireworks on the 4th of July - as it has done for more years than I can remember - because they pollute the ocean. Fair enough. Never thought about fireworks as a pollutant, but from setting them off in my backyard (when I lived back East!) I know there is always some black residue on the grass and shards of paper. And of course what we set off ourselves never compares to what cities do across the country on the 4th of July. I don't know the answer to this, but do you think that the pollution emitted by fireworks display on this one day of the year is more or less than we put into our rivers and streams on a daily basis - all year long. I'm guessing it's less, a lot less. Shouldn't we spend more time focusing on the big problems - GULF COAST - and less time on the lesser ones. And remember, that unlike Katrina - a verifiable NATURAL disaster - BP's oil spill was the result of a long-standing corporate policy of shortcuts when it comes to the environment. The only thing green about BP was its ad campaign. But I digress.

I may be wrong, but I have to say I'm in favor of the fireworks. So many San Diegans have come to enjoy them on our national holiday celebrating the birth of this country. Is that too much to ask? Couldn't we conserve more elsewhere?

Here's a few ideas:

Meeting the nation's bottled water demand requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually? A fraction of what has been spilled in the gulf so far (20+ million, according to PBS' Gulf Leak Meter), but it's enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year! Though so many people ask for it, we avoid bottled water at Cups - unless it comes in one of our reusable sport water bottles made from recycled materials.

Each person in the US throws out about 4 lbs. of garbage every day - do your part by reusing, recycling, or composting. We have separate bins throughout Cups for staff and patrons to separate trash from recyclables, and we're adding a compost bin.

The amount of wood and paper we throw away is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years. For every ton of paper recycled, we save 7,000 gallons of water free from chemicals and 17 trees. We try to keep printing to a minimum, opting for digital information; otherwise we use recycled paper - twice!

It takes 500 years for plastic to breakdown. At cups we discourage the use of disposable food containers and tableware, but what we do use is made from corn, not plastic, and compostable.

If just 1 in 10 households in the US bought Energy Star-labeled heating and cooling equipment, the change would keep 18 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions out of the air (the equivalent of taking 1.5 million cars off the road).

If every household in the US turned the thermostat down 10 degrees at night during winter and the 7-8 hours each day while at work, it would prevent nearly 36 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions (roughly equal to the emissions of 10 million cars) with a utility bill savings of $150/year.

It seems to me that it's the little things like this that we do every day that really have an impact - and not the big ones every once in a while. Unless we're talking about BP....

Monday, May 31, 2010

Why Not-So-Red Velvet

It's amazing to me that red velvet is as popular today as it is. I mean, I'm a Sex in the City girl too, and I have no beef with the flavor of the cupcake (tangy buttermilky, light chocolatey, topped with cream cheese or vanilla frosting) or Magnolia's bakery (who truly is responsible for it's return to the younger masses), I just have a beef with the "red" part.

I am old enough (groan!) to remember the Red Dye 2 (made from yummy coal tar) we ate as kids, and it's removal from the shelves some years ago for toxicity. But in the meantime, a new one has popped up in its place. And though the FDA has given it the greenlight, it's safety in humans is not all that clear to me.

It's not that hard to find info about red dye; I lifted this from Wikipedia:

"Allura Red AC is a red azo dye that goes by several names including: Allura Red, Food Red 17, C.I. 16035, FD&C Red 40 [1][2], 2-naphthalenesulfonic acid, 6-hydroxy-5-((2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo)-, disodium salt, and disodium 6-hydroxy-5-((2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo)-2-naphthalene-sulfonate. It is used as a food dye and has the E number E129. Allura Red AC is one of many High Production Volume Chemicals. Red AC was originally manufactured from coal tar but is now mostly made from petroleum."

PETROLEUM??!! Is that really an improvement from coal tar??!! I took a look to see whether the oil-based red stuff was legal. Back to Wikipedia:

"In Europe, Allura Red AC is not recommended for consumption by children. It is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Sweden...."

Is it possible that only European children are at risk - and not the children of other nations and continents?

But what does the European Union, the major economic body of Europe, have to say about red food dye:

"The European Union approves Allura Red AC as a food colorant, but EU countries' local laws banning food colorants are preserved."

WTF???!!! Well that means that it's OK in the poorer Eastern nations in Europe, but banned in the richer, Western Democracies.

"In the United States, Allura Red AC is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in cosmetics, drugs, and food. It is used in some tattoo inks and is used in many products, such as soft drinks, children's medications, and cotton candy." (Wikipedia).

Ah ha - so it's OK for America and poor European countries, but banned in the Western part of Europe.

OK, so maybe it's just those crazy Europeans getting all activist-ey, is there really anything wrong with this red stuff?

Well, according to studies in Europe, it has been linked to hyperactivity in children (hence the ban in the rich European countries); "The study found that increased levels of hyperactivity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and lower IQs were observed in children." (Wikipedia).

But it's dangerous effects have also been noted here in the US:
"Children are most often the ones who have sensitivity to red 40, whether or not their parents have realized it or not. Reactions include temper tantrums, hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, uncontrollable crying and screaming, kicking, nervousness, dizziness, inability to concentrate and sit still among other findings. Physically you may get frequent headaches or migraines, upset stomach and feel ill after ingesting this additive. Often when Red 40 is eliminated from the child's diet a remarkable change is noticed immediately." Lifestyle on-line.(


I tried to make my cupcakes with organic, strawberry-based dye but it took too much to get the signature color - end ended up tasting of strawberry. Same for beets - although the resulting taste was much more earthy. So I have decided to make my velvets not-so-red. And it is amazing the effect this has on people. They really want to see the red. So do I, truth be told. But I can't in good conscience, color them red with Red 40.

Friday, May 28, 2010

About Our Coffee

Cups offers 100% organic espresso and coffee beverages for the coffee afficionado. All of our coffee is locally roasted at San Diego-based Caffe Calabria, which has developed a customized organic espresso blend to compliment our cupcakes.

Cups' custom espresso blend is comprised of 50% Organic Sumatra, 25% Organic Guatemalan, 15% Organic French, and 10% Organic Mexican to create a complex and flavorful taste. This exceptional blend is prepared in the classic Italian style as we pull ristretto shots. “Ristretto” literally translates to “restricted” in Italian. A ristretto shot is a shot pulled to ½ to ¾ oz volume in 22-28 seconds to ensure that only the best qualities of the coffee are extracted. We also use the classic La Marzocco espresso machine, which is handmade in Florence, Italy.

We offer a Central American Organic Swami's Blend for our house brew that is multi-dimensional and flavorful. Come pair a $2.00 cup with the Tiramisu cupcake, or the PB Cup for a fantastic taste experience.

Our Organic Decaf Espresso is processed with the Swiss Water process which adheres to our policy of using no chemicals or pesticides. This unique process consists of “washing” the coffee beans to remove the caffeine, instead of using chemicals to do so. This results in a higher quality and better tasting decaf espresso.

We have specially trained baristas at Cups who will skillfully prepare your custom espresso beverage with care and flair. Come check out our latte art!

Cups can cater to your every coffee desire in most cases, so just ask our baristas if you have any special preferences or questions.


Swami's Blend: Our House drip coffee boasts plenty of Central American Flavor ($2.00).

Espresso: Two ristretto “short” shots of our custom Cups Blend served in a demitasse cup ($2.50).

Macchiato: Two ristretto “short” espresso shots combined with steamed milk and foam served in a demitasse cup ($3.00).

Brazilian Coffee: Two cardamom-sugar spiced ristretto “short” espresso shots served in a demitasse cup ($3.50).

Cafe Americano: A traditional American cup of coffee prepared Italian style with ristretto “short” espresso shots ($3.50).

Cafe Au Lait: Our Swami's Blend drip coffee paired with steamed organic milk and foam ($3.50).

Red Eye: Our Swami's Blend drip coffee with two ristretto shots added, for those who need a real “kick!” ($4.00)

Cappucino: Two ristretto “short” espresso shots of our custom Cups Espresso paired with steamed milk and foam. ($3.75)

Cafe Latte: Two ristretto “short” espresso shots paired with velvety steamed milk. ($4.00)

Thai Coffee: Two cardamom spiced ristretto “short” espresso shots Americano style with heavy cream ($4.00)

Latte of the Day: Ask our baristas! ($4.50)

Cafe Mocha: Two ristretto “short” espresso shots paired with our House made chocolate sauce, steamed milk, chocolate sprinkles, and whipped cream ($4.50).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Cups Culinary, Cups' teaching kitchen located at 7857 Girard Avenue, will open for public classes, starting June 5, with a kid- friendly baking class, featuring the recipes from two of Jill O'Connor's award-winning cookbooks, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth and Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids. Come in and get your hands messy with some of Jill's most popular recipes, modified for this class only with all organic ingredients. Her luscious desserts have been enjoyed the world over; now is your chance to come in and try them yourself, under her expert supervision. The hands-on class is open to both kids and adults. $100 for parent and child, $25 for each additional child; $70 for solo adult. Max 24. Class will be held on June 5, 4:30-7:30 pm, with book-signing afterwards. Warwicks will provide both books for sale after the class.

June 6, 13, 20, 27 - Market-to-Table featuring Chef Jesus Gonzalez, Former creative Chef for Rancho La Puerta and Golden Door Spas
Have you ever wondered what some of the beautiful produce you see in the market is, or if you know what it is, what to do with it? Do you know what a Buddhas Hand is? Or what to do with those beautiful, fragrant squash blossoms? Join Jesus on a tour of the La Jolla Farmer's Market, as he identifies and describes the summer bounty available at the market that day. The class will then collectively choose items to purchase from the market for Jesus to cook in Cups Culinary demo kitchen. Recipes will be provided to all participants in this instructional class with an expert in using the freshest local, seasonal ingredients. Lunch prepared and provided from the market's bounty. $65. 11 am-2pm. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Max 24. This class will be offered every Sunday through the summer.

June 10 - Vegan Cupcake Baking*
Have you crossed over to the vegan life? Are you getting tired of the same old recipes? Come see how to jazz up your healthy lifestyle with cupcakes! Learn vegan baking techniques with Cups pastry chefs. Hands-on class will prepare batters and frostings for three different vegan cupcakes, bake and decorate. 4 Cups per guest, take-home carriers provided. Suitable for all skill levels. $70. 6-9 pm. Max 24.

June 12 - Ricotta Cheese-making with Cups Chefs Michelle Ciccarelli and Jesus Gonzalez
Learn the easy steps to making wonderful, fresh ricotta cheese, which you can easily do at home, in the demo portion of this class. Then, join in the fun in the hands-on portion in preparing a 4-course meal with the fresh ricotta, including appetizer, salad, fresh ravioli, and Limone Ricotta Cups. Recipes provided. $70. 2:30-5:30 pm. Max 24.

June 17 - Chocolate Art with Cups Pastry Chef Jeff Bonilla
Wake up your inner dessert artist! Learn how to temper chocolate, master chocolate decorating techniques, and prepare an assortment of chocolate sweets, including truffles and cupcakes, and an assortment of chocolate-dipped treats in this part demo/part- hands-on class! Suitable for all skill levels. $50. 6-8pm. Max 30.

June 24 - Gluten-free Cupcake Baking*
Yes you CAN have delectable desserts on a gluten-free diet! Learn gluten-free baking techniques with Cups pastry chefs. Hands-on class will prepare batters and frostings for three different gluten- free cupcakes, bake and decorate. 4 Cups per guest, take-home carriers provided. $70. 6-9 pm. Max 24.


June 8, 15, 22, 29 - Fun with Cupcakes
This class is for kids only, age 5 and up, who want to try their hand at cupcake decorating. Frost and sprinkle, pipe buttercream, play with fondant, and dip in chocolate to your heart's content. 4 full size cupcakes per child; take- out boxes provided for kids to bring home their masterpieces. Suitable for any skill level, and so much fun, parents will want to stay and play too! Drinks provided. $30. 12:30-2. Max 30. This class will be offered every Tuesday through the summer.

June 11, 25 - Parent's Night Off - Cupcakes and a Movie
Come and decorate cupcakes while watching a kid-friendly, G-rated movie. Kids-only decorating class, 2 cupcakes per child, with lots of buttercream and sprinkles to experiment with during the movie. Drinks and snacks provided. Kids age 5-9. $25. 6:30- 9pm. Max 30. This class will be offered every other Friday through the summer.

* Hands-on cupcake baking classes will be offered every other Thursday.


VANESSA@CUPSLJ.COM OR (619) 609-3082

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cups Wedding Catering

To add a decidedly unique and unforgettable flavor to your next special occasion, call Cups Wedding Catering. Whether it be a wedding or an elegantly themed bridal shower, there's no better way to elevate your special day than with an assortment of freshly baked, delectable cupcakes made from the finest organic ingredients. Cups will tailor the flavor combinations to match your theme, cuisine and wine pairings. Whatever the occasion calls for, we'll do it with a distinct style perfectly suited to your event and taste. All-natural and organic have never been so deliciously indulgent.

Give each of your guests more than just a slice of the celebration by unwrapping the unlimited possibilities of cupcakes. It's your wedding. You deserve your own special flavor, as individual and unique as your love for one another.

And it's more than just icing on the cake, so to speak. All organic, baked fresh on your wedding day. Customized flavors to suit your discriminating taste. Virtually unlimited design - if you can dream it, we can create it. With such innovation, isn't it time to break old tradition? Let them eat cake at every other wedding. At your wedding....cupcakes. Cups Wedding Catering will help make your special day unforgettable.

To speak with your personal pastry chef/wedding Cups designer, give us a call 858.459.2877 or stop by Cups Lounge in the village of La Jolla. We look forward to being apart of your special day!

The Cups Team

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mother's Day in full bloom at Cups

Suprise your mom this year with a beautiful bouquet she can sink her teeth into - a bouquet of Cups, planted in a reusable terra cotta pot, ready to be picked and enjoyed. Includes an assortment of Cups' most popular cupcakes, decorated like fresh roses, planted alongside chocolate-dipped strawberries.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vegging Out

I am writing this, nestled in on my couch, in my favorite tank, which reads "I veg to differ." It's from an organic farm and winery in Sonoma County owned by Lou Preston, a man I came to know during my month-long goat farm internship last year at Pugs Leap Farm, not too far from Lou's. Lou would stop by once a week to pick up the fresh whey (from the last few days cheesemaking production) to feed his pigs. We talked a bit about food, farming & politics, when Eric and Pascal - the goat farmer and cheesemaker, respectively - said we should have a picnic there some afternoon (except when Pascal says "picnic" there's an extra syllable, making him sound a bit like Smokey the Bear). Turn down wine and good food? Never!

Lou's winery is a find like few others. Organic produce, pigs and chicken, and fresh baked bread - and, oh yeah, amazing wines. Plus, his land is open to the public to have a picnic any time - so long as you don't arrive in a tour bus. Eric and Pascal arranged our picnic table with antique English china and crystal over freshly starched linens, much to the envy of the other picnickers. Fresh baguettes, the most amazing creamy fresh goat chese from their farm, washed down with Lou's "Grape Wine," a fruity, yet complex blend of rousanne, marsanne and viognier grapes all grown organically there.

I returned home insistent on adding a few goats and chickens to my current stable of 5 dogs. Eric & Pascal had even chosen the lady Edith for me to take away from their family - a goat who was probably a bit more uptown than their simple farm. But when I brought this up to my husband, he said it was out of the question. Why? The goats would eat all of our plants, and the dogs would eat the chickens! Still seemed surmoutable, but then I realized that so many of the edible fruit trees we have are actually toxic to animals, and that poor Edith might literally eat herself to death (which task, at the moment, is relegated to my parents' 16-year-old Dalmatian Patch). So Edith still reigns supreme at Pugs Leap, and the chicken battle is ongoing. But our garden has survived. In fact, thrived. And since some of you have asked about my garden, I thought I would point you to this little video of my berry patch, with music by my good friend Calman Hart's band Berkley Hart.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Cups On Being Green

So, I'm working our Cups booth yesterday (where we sell not only our Cups and coffee, but also jars of freshly harvested chamomile tea from my garden, as well as strawberry milk - even better, the milk and Cups are available as free samples too!) at the farmer's market in La Jolla when a woman approaches me, says she has read about us in the local paper-most recently about our 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant®. Then she says that she noticed that we had a large white SUV sprinkled with Cups logos, and wonders how this jives with our green status. Interesting point.
So I explain to her that we actually have three delivery "vehicles" - a tricycle which we use for deliveries in the village, a vespa for deliveries outside that 10-block radius (which I was standing next to during our conversation), and finally, yes, a large old white SUV that once belonged to my husband (for his weekendly nursery runs), which, rather than trade-in or sell, I added flair to and added to the Cups fleet for when we needed to make large deliveries. I explained that we keep it parked near our store on Girard most of the time. That we only use it for big events, where we might need to bring 2-3 people, tents, tables, and an unlimited supply of Cups (like the farmer's market, e.g.). She nodded, not disapprovingly, but neither with approval either. Was she satisfied? Am I?
My good friend Jean (the "hall monitor of my life") recites this as her Green mantra: REDUSE, REUSE, RECYCLE. I suppose I could reduce the SUV - not to one of the new hybrid SUVs, which we have, because unfortunately they're not as big YET - to either a minivan or van. But is that really reducing? Isn't that really meant to apply where one has two vehicles and one would be enough? Because if I attempt to sell the old SUV, I may either not be able to sell it, because it's old and has a lot of mileage, in which case it heads to the dump; or I do sell it, to someone who needs it as a primary vehicle and does with it what I don't - drives it to the Starbucks drive-thru solo, instead of leaving it parked 90% of the time. Since this was already a car in our family, my taking it for Cups constitutes a reuse, but is that better than my purchasing a new minivan, with clearly superior mileage? I don't even know where to begin with recycle, as I'm not sure what we actually do with that never-ending supply of cars smashed on top of one another.
I guess the point is there are very few clear answers. I know we all try to do the best we can in any given situation. I once watched a TV program with a Green expert who was discussing the use of air conditioning in a car - to me an obvious no-no. But, of course, the answer was not that easy. Turns out, that up to certain speeds (I think the answer was 35 MPH, though I'm not positive anymore) use of air conditioning was worse than opening the windows. However, with speeds greater than that, opening the windows instead of using the air conditioning was actually worse, because it reduced the car's mileage!
So I confess to not knowing all of the answers - indeed, being probably ignorant of most. If anyone out there can offer some insight into this SUV situation I'd love to hear it - bad or good. Until then, I'll keep trying to stay on the best path I know.

Side note: The SUV's use at home was limited to the following: football games, where we would cart all 8 attendees in a single vehicle, and once-a-week trips to the nursery, where my husband and I would load up on plants for our garden. He wanted to trade in the SUV for a pick-up, which he now has, because we couldn't fit the more mature fruit trees in it. With the fruit trees and other plants we carried to our home on the weekends in the SUV, we now have enough citrus, berries, and herbs to feed ourselves, our friends and families, as well as supply my store.


Monday, April 5, 2010

CUPS is only 3 Star Green Certified Restaurant in San Diego County!

We just received notice that we have been certified as a 3 Star Green Certified Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association ( - its highest rating. This 3 Star status makes Cups the only 3 Star bakery in all of California, and the only 3 Star restaurant of any kind in all of San Diego County.

We worked very hard to achieve this status, and we are very proud to have obtained this highest level awarded to any restaurant in the country. As a restauranteur, it is neither easy nor inexpensive to secure this status; its positive impact, however, can't be quantified.

We are one of only 20 restaurants certified as 3 Star Green Certified Restaurants since the Green Restaurant Association began awarding this designation to green restaurants in 1990.

The Association looks at every aspect of a business, from the building materials used in the building or remodeling of the space, water and utility utilization, to the foods served and the containers they are served in.

We here at Cups are so honored to be part of such an environmental friendly assoication.

The Cups Team

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Back in the Saddle"

Enough travel for a while. Back to Cups, our bakery, our lounge, and now, our teaching kitchen and party room, Cups Culinary aka the "green room." THIS is the reason I opened Cups - to really share my passion for cooking and teaching with others. Just had the first few events here: 30 sorority sisters, 4-year-old princess party, bridal shower, baby shower, and next week - a Superman-themed deco party! Next step, classes for summer camp, and a full public class schedule. If you have thoughts or suggestions, e-mail me....

So you've probably seen some of the "not your mother's cupcake" shots here. Let me explain. When you say you make cupcakes, a lot of people come in with certain expectations, many of which are based on the box mix/canned frosting cupcakes of our youth and the contemporary grocery store equivalent. No disrespect intended - been there, eaten that! That's just not what we do.

I wanted to make varied, complex, often more dense, less sweet desserts - that happen to come in a cupcake form. We make dense, dark flourless Cups. Sugar-free Cups. Brioche and other yeast-dough Cups. Mixed sweet & savory Cups. Vegan, gluten-free....

SOOOOOO it became necessary to let people know what we do differently, so as to address head-on people's expectations. Love us, hate us, this is what you get. I can't imagine a single cupcake to please every palate - nor do I want to. One billion served to me doesn't say top quality, it says lowest common denominator. But let me get off my high horse (how easily I seem to get back in that saddle...).

Anyway, as I started this rant, am happy to be back at Cups, my new expansion of space inspiring my creative juices. So I will put down this computer and return to the kitchen, to eagerly play with some new concepts. So excited about the upcoming season - so much fresh fruit to incorporate into our Cups! Am harvesting a lot of chamomile from the garden right now, have been thinking this one through - love the idea of a sweet honey-vanilla chamomile Cup. Also picking a lot of fava beans, but not feeling that one yet. Planting my own vanilla and cinnamon plants (in a small greenhouse) but won't get much there for a while. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of the little blackberry buds starting to appear. Now this is the saddle I want to get back in....

Michelle Cicceralli Lerach

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cups Cupcakery and Lounge

Cups Lounge

Ever heard of organic decadence? Well, you have now. Introducing Cups Lounge, the all-new, all-natural cupcakery in the heart of downtown La Jolla, and the only organic cupcakery in all of San Diego. Every day of the week, we create ten flavors of pure cupcake enjoyment, from among more than fifty total flavor varieties we offer. Each is joyfully baked fresh in-house every morning with loving care, and using only the best local, organic, sustainable ingredients.

Kick back and relax in our retro-modern lounge, hook up to the free WiFi, and enjoy your Cup with our house specialty, fresh strawberry milk on tap or one of the many offerings from our traditional coffee bar where we pull “ristretto” style espresso shots. While you're at it, why not sample our newest creation, FrostNips, a delectable blend of butter cake and frosting, rolled and hand dipped in chocolate.

Stop by soon. All-natural and organic have never been so deliciously indulgent.

The Cups Team

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Not Your Mother's Cupcake of the Week"

What do we mean by "Not Your Mother's Cupcake"? Let me explain. When you say you make cupcakes, a lot of people come in with certain expectations, many of which are based on the box mix/canned frosting cupcakes of our youth and the contemporary grocery store equivalent. No disrespect intended - been there, eaten that! That's just not what we do. Enjoy!
~ Michelle

"Not You Mother's Cupcake" of the Week

Friday, February 5, 2010


So much to talk much has happened since my post about the "cake balls" - since named FrostNips. Which, by the way, are available for order now at Cups for Valentine's Day ($25 for a mixed dozen in a cute heart-shaped box!). Ok, that's it for plugs...!

So really want to thank everyone who came out for our big Grand Opening celebration on January 30. WOW! To say we were happy about the turnout is to put it mildly. The only regret I have is that so many people had to wait in line for soooo long. We tried to shut down the street to bring the party outside but were denied, so we had no choice but to manage the number of people in the space at any one time. Anyway, our crew responded by bringing lots of yummy Cups and FrostNips outside to the patiently waiting. Hope everyone was happy. I know I was. Loved that there were lots of kids decorating cupcakes (check out my facebook or to see full array of pics), people enjoying the savory delights of Authentic Flavors (I can't say how many of the vegan portobella sliders I ate!), and the cool mocktails of the geniuses at Snake Oil Beverages (even though they sent their PR guy in to "bartend" - u were awesome Mike, don't take any *&%%## from the "couch people"!). The party was so awesome the cops came - only to be sent away, Cups in hand, "nothing to see here" ...except people having a great time - all without alcohol. Check out the article at ("Cuckoo for Cupcakes") to get more info.

And this on the heels of our successful return from Sundance, where we were the exclusive sweets provider for the Luxury Lounge, nestled in between Harry O's and ChefDance on Main Street in Park City, UT. Got to premiere our FrostNips there, along with some of the more exotic Cups flavors. Made a lot of friends, garnered some new Cups fans - especially my pal Louis Lombardi (Sopranos, Entourage) - who came by every day for a box of to-go PB Cups. Come and see me in LJ Louis...!
So now it's back to work, Valentine's Day right around the corner..., and most exciting news of the moment - the Cups Culinary School should (I say should because I've been promised, but have heard that anyone!!) be open at the end of the this month! We will start baking and decorating classes as of March - and I can't wait. We will also have private b-day parties and karaoke-fests in the private space (for those not interested in "sharing" their vocal talent with the Sunday Cups Lounge ).
And, I'll be writing a new foodie column for the San Diego Businesss Woman Magazine, beginning later this month, called "LifeSavor." I guess I could post that here too...