After much prodding from my wife, Jacquleyn, I finally agreed to drive over to Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ, to try out Buddy Valastro’s cakes and pastries that TLC recently made famous with the reality show, “Cake Boss.” Watching Buddy’s operation on “Cake Boss” made us very interested in sampling his work and possibly catching a glimpse of Buddy himself.
A pleasant Saturday afternoon drive through coastal New Jersey on September 4, 2010, and cool, beautiful weather left the family in uncharacteristically good spirits. We found easy parking at the CVS Pharmacy just across the street from the bakery. I am certainly glad that I fed the meter because when we rounded the corner we found a line from the bakery that stretched two city blocks! Reluctantly, I agreed to get in line with Jacquelyn and our two small children. We met several nice people in line, three of whom had travelled all the way from Texas just to visit Buddy’s cake shop. My initial hopes of a fast moving line diminished over time and eventually led to a very tiresome ninety minute wait, which was not made any easier with restless children.
Finally, a cake bouncer from the bakery (I am not exaggerating) came down the line just in front of the bakery and issued coveted tickets with stamped numbers. “Don’t lose this ticket,” the bouncer stated matter-of-factly, “because you won’t get in without a ticket!” Everyone in line quickly placed their respective tickets in secure hiding places. The cake bouncer had to keep kicking people out the door who had tried to sneak in without a ticket. The tension grew as each group came out of the bakery with sweet smelling goodies and a new group was allowed to enter. Before we knew it, it was our turn!
When we squeezed into the bakery, I discovered that it looked much bigger on TV. The shop was filled, wall to wall, with hungry patrons who were all transfixed on the number counter at the back of the room. When the number of our ticket came up, my wife raised her hand and shouted, “I’m over here!” We couldn’t see much of what was in the display cases for the masses of people packed in the shop so I told my wife to buy whatever and we would try it. Jacquelyn desperately wanted to try the crumb cake that Buddy claimed to be “The best ever!” but was disappointed to discover that it had been sold out earlier in the day. She ended up buying two chocolate milks (for the thirsty kids), three cannoli, two biscotti, and two red velvet cupcakes; all for just $15.50!
We quickly left the crowded shop and turned the corner to find a huge crowd gathered at the back of the bakery. A mob of amateur paparazzi had gathered at the rear entrance hoping to catch a photo of Buddy and his crew. Buddy was at the shop and TLC was shooting an episode of “Cake Boss” that day. We caught a glimpse of Buddy’s cousin Anthony and Joe, the fireman baker. I hate to admit it, but the whole thing was quite fun.
We finally had an opportunity to taste our goodies when we arrived home. I dove into my red velvet cupcake and immediately let out a satisfaction filled, “Mmmmmmm!” The cake itself was super moist and awesomely sweet. The cream cheese frosting gave a pleasantly surprising tanginess that paired well with the sweet cake. I must say that it was the best cupcake that I have ever eaten. My wife reported that the cannoli was crisp, mouthwatering, and made traditionally with the “real stuff.” The biscotti had great flavoring and made the store bought stuff taste like cardboard.
I enthusiastically recommend that everyone take the time to drop by Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. While the wait is long, I promise that everyone will be handsomely rewarded with reasonably priced, out-of-this-world cakes and pastries. If you go, please be prepared to wait, go to his website www.carlosbakery.com and decide what you want ahead of time, and don’t lose your ticket!