At the new bakery Short Cake, I encountered a drink that’s so absolutely brilliant it deserves fireworks or a parade but that’s simply presented without any fanfare or fuss. If it were a Starbucks, you’d see signs all over the place advertising the Salted Caramel Latte. As it stands, you sort of have to discover it for yourself–it’s there on the menu, below the mocha and the vanilla bean and across from Aunt Nancy’s Shakerato (named for Nancy Silverton, I imagine)–but it’s not highlighted or underlined in any way.
Maybe that’s for the best because if there were reminders all over Los Angeles advertising this dazzling combination of bitter, salty and sweet, I’d probably have to drive to Short Cake on a daily basis and my body wouldn’t run on blood any more, it’d run on salted caramel lattes. I mean look at this:
You probably can’t tell by looking, but this is a wonderfully balanced drink. Whereas most latte flavorings are cloyingly sweet (see, for example, the plain caramel latte at Starbucks), the salt in the caramel here gives the coffee here a complexity and an edge that’s soon to be copied at coffee shops around the world. Just you wait: how long do you think before Starbucks puts a salted caramel latte on its menu*? Will there be a lawsuit? I’m not sure, but I know this much: you can’t go to Short Cake without ordering a pastry.
[*Note: as commenters have pointed out, Starbucks DID have a salted caramel latte. But this one at Short Cake is so good, I think Starbucks sent people into the future to suss out excellent coffee drinks and found this one at Short Cake and stole it.]
For the longest time, I’ve always loved jam bars–buttery pastry with jam on top and crumble on top of that. In fact, when I lived in L.A. for a summer 8 years ago, I used to go to the Farmer’s Market at The Grove (where Short Cake is) and buy raspberry jam bars which were, embarrassingly, called “Princess Bars” at a totally average bakery near the doughnut stand. Needless to say, Silverton’s take is far better than that:
Buttery, chewy, and jammy, it’s a great foil for the salted caramel latte. In fact, if you go to the Grove and have tacos or a burrito at Loteria and then dessert and a salted caramel latte at Shot Cake (a few steps away), you could have one of the best lunches ever. In fact, maybe I need to do that right now. See you later!
[Note: if you read this post earlier, and noticed that I changed it, that’s because I had my facts wrong. Turns out that Nancy Silverton is the partner of Short Order (the burger place next door) and is not formally affiliated with Short Cake, except that she supports the project that her late friend, Amy Pressman, started.]