Warden Norton: I believe in two things: discipline and the Bible. Here you’ll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord; your ass belongs to me. Welcome to Shawshank.
The Shawshank Redemption, one of my favorite movies of all time, portrays a story about Andy Dufresne, a young banker who spends nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover despite his claims of being innocent. At first, prison is a living hell for Andy. His time at Shawshank Prison becomes more endurable after he befriends a fellow inmate, Ellis “Red” Redding, and finds himself protected by the guards after the warden begins using him in his money laundering operation. Ultimately, this is a story of hope.
(Story plot note: Without permission from the warden, Andy played an Italian opera over the prison speakers. Because of it, he had to spend two weeks in the hole.)
Red: I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.
Andy: That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you. You need it so you don’t forget. Forget that… there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside… that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.
Red: What are you talking about?
Andy: Hope. Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
Cupcake Gallery left some scars that needed to be mended and Cupcake Counter was up for the challenge. Located on Madison street (dangerously close to Crumbs Bake Shop), Cupcake Counter is practically a hole in the wall. I’ve found that those can be the best kind of places. Like my sister says about our little ol’ hometown of Owensville, OH, “If you blink, you might miss it.”
On my first trip to Cupcake Counter, I had a few friends to accompany me—Flick (a.k.a., Flicka Flick from my home city), Elle, Sarah, and of course, Dana. We flocked into Cupcake Counter and filled the place with our excited chatter. In addition to their four “everyday” cupcake flavors—Butter, Chocolate, Red Velvet, and Carrot, they also have a “surprise” selection which includes flavors like Lemon, Tiramisu, Maple Pecan, and more. Not to mention, they have a few additional treats such as ice-cream sandwiches. As a first-timer, I chose their Red Velvet and Carrot cupcakes. True to their name, Cupcake Counter has a small counter with four bar stools but we opted to head next door to Argo Tea Café for more space. I need elbow room when I eat cupcakes, and a drop cloth.
Carrot cake is my favorite kind of cake. Loyal readers already know this, and for that, I applaud you. For real, I’m clapping right now. Their cake was spongy and super moist. As for the flavor, I’ve had carrot cake with more spice and I’ve had carrot cake with less spice. This fell right in the middle, which is not a bad place to be. The cream cheese frosting was thick and perfectly proportionate. Orange sprinkles adorned the top. All in all, a solid performance. The Red Velvet cupcake had a similar cake texture and frosting. The flavor was decent but I still say Molly’s Red Velvet cupcake takes the cake.
Most notable, however, was the Mocha cupcake (“surprise” flavor) I ordered on my second trip to Cupcake Counter with Kristin. Who says one trip is enough? Get fat, or go home. This gem consisted of a chocolate cake with fudgy chocolate baked into the top. Frosted with a buttery mocha buttercream frosting and topped with a chocolate-covered coffee bean, a bite of this cupcake and I died and went to chocolate/coffee heaven. I’m confident there will be coffee in heaven, and pets. My favorite part of this delectable creation was the frosting. The proportion, flavoring, and texture were perfect.
Cupcake Gallery may have discouraged me, but Cupcake Counter renewed my faith in cupcakeries. They may be small, but they bring big flavor. Get busy eating, or get busy dying.
Red: I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.