April 19, 2014

Ahead of the Curve

1. CUPCAKES ON DEMAND: Designer cupcakes are suddenly très chic, and the first in Southwest Florida to deliver yummy flavors like tropical piña colada, orange blossom and—our hands-down favorite—Key lime right to your boat, plane, home or office is Naples baker Joanne Glasgow. Simply Cupcakes come by the dozen or in bite-size minis. (239) 207-7170 or www.simplycupcakes.net

2. REAL FRENCH BAGUETTES: Craving fresh baguettes with an authentic French accent? Many of the faithful make the daily pilgrimage to Andre’s French Bakery at 12901 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. The popular restaurant also does a phenomenal olive loaf, and their gorgeous white cake topped with strawberries, pineapple and kiwi is just $25. (239) 482-2011.

3. SUPERMAN'S FAVORITES: It’s true: Superman once sent all the way to Marco Island for his pastries. Well it was "only" earth-hunk Brandon Routh, but still, Mark Beatty’s otherworldly artistry sends even pampered superstars into bakery bliss. Try Mark’s famous dark chocolate mousse with orange crème brûlée center on a bed of sponge cake. The three-inch to 10-inch domes go down smoothly with homemade Indonesian vanilla bean ice cream. Black Truffle Chocolates and Pastry Shop, 688 Bald Eagle Drive. (239) 394-7979 or www.btchocolates.com

4. SENSUOUS AND CREATIVE: Gifted Naples cake artist Karen Vazquez honed her skills under the tutelage of cake guru Elisa Strauss, owner of New York’s renowned Confetti Cakes and winner of the Food Network Challenge. Her sensuous cakes are never refrigerated, and her delicious fondant contains not a drop of glycerin. 1030 Collier Center Way. (239) 398-3334 or www.kakesbykaren.net

5. NOT ON THE MENU: It looks like a coffee house, and it is—but what’s going on in the kitchen is a best-kept Naples secret. Andrew Ahr, owner of It’s a Grind, bakes swoon-worthy breads for Southwest Florida’s priciest resorts, private clubs and restaurants. He doesn’t retail them, but when he’s filling a custom order, follow your nose to the counter and beg to buy one of the extras. 1485 Pine Ridge Road. (239) 592-7100 or www.itsagrind.com

6. MERMAID  MAGIC:
The most voluptuous slices of cake in Southwest Florida surely come from Sanibel Island’s The Mermaid Kitchen and Cake Factory. It’s legendary for its light, chiffon and whipped cream Mermaid Cake and her sensuous sister, the dark, fudgy Midnight Mermaid. Try Bootlegger Rum: a macadamia-nut pound cake with chocolate mousse layers and butter rum sauce. Extremely generous slices: $7-$8. 2055 Periwinkle Way. (239) 472-1242 or www.themermaidkitchen.com

7. ODE TO MOM: Tart, firm Granny Smith apples, light flaky bottom crust and just sweet enough: We’ve found the near-perfect apple pie. It’s almost like Mom’s (perfect) recipe, yet different enough so you don’t feel guilty raving over it. Instead of a top crust, it has a crunchy topping that’s drizzled with thick caramel. A mini Granny Smith apple pie is $6. Plantation Bakery and Coffee Company, 6611 Orion Drive, Suite 106, Fort Myers. (239) 415-2253.

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