Carrie was my roommate for two years in college. A year below me, she was this independent, feisty girl with a big laugh. (We have a lot of traits in common… no wonder we became fast friends.) Carrie got a job working at a local bar near campus. Balancing school and long, late hours at the bar was tough, but she loved it. And she was good at it.
Sadly, but typically, we lost touch after school. Then, happily, with the invention of Facebook we reconnected online, though we haven’t been able to catch up in person.
Following Carrie on Facebook I found that she was working at Eli Cannon’s Tap Room in Middletown, a bar fiercely focused on micro brews and non-mainstream imports. Their philosophy was to provide variety and they were zealous about it. Knowing her personality and barroom background I thought it must be a perfect fit and it appeared that she was happy and doing well. Some years passed and I began to see updates on Facebook about a new venture for my friend. A cupcake shop opening across the street from Eli Cannon’s. With the owner’s blessing and partnership, Carrie opened NoRA Cupcake Company on New Year’s Eve 2011.
The strong opinions and philosophies at Eli Cannon’s seemed to carry over to the new bakery which took pride in being “NOT your mother’s cupcake company”. Their emphasis is on variety and non-traditional flavors. They want to expand your horizons. NoRA’s complete menu features over 100 different flavors, with at least a dozen available on a daily basis. They have a daily vegan option and a daily gluten-free option too. It would be tedious indeed to list out all the flavors offered, and despite the categories like Rockstar (fan favorites), C&C (cookies & candy), R&D (research & development), Savory (well… savory), the group that gets the most interest are the Cocktail Cupcakes. That’s right, boozy sweetness for you to devour. Check out the flavors on their website and then wipe the drool from your lips. These are cupcakes born in a bar after all.
The décor is non-traditional too. I’d describe it as eclectic goth chic. Think cartoony dancing skeletons offering you cupcakes on a black and pink background. Can you picture it? No? Here’s a pic of the Lil’ NoRA cupcake truck. Carrie is legit yo. She has a food truck!
I’ve followed Carrie’s Facebook updates, read the articles she’s posted and watched/listened to the video and radio clips of her burgeoning business. Shamefully though, I haven’t made it out there. N, however, was in the area one afternoon with her friend K who has a well-known sweet tooth. They visited NoRA to sample the decadence. N said a quick hi to Carrie, and brought me back the one cupcake that I’d heard most about and had been dying to try – the Irish Car Bomb. (Chocolate Guinness cake, Jameson dark chocolate ganache, Bailey’s cream cheese frosting topped with a malt ball.)
I am delighted to say that this cupcake is the best I’ve ever had. And the BEST part about that is that it’s not simply because it’s Carrie’s. I know that I gush a bit on this blog… but it’s because when I want to tell you about something, I’m excited about it! There is plenty of stuff that is not worthy of a post, and I try to spare you lovely people. I am excited about these cupcakes! Crumbs who? Sprinkles what? Magnolia where? I consider myself a rather tough critic, and I was slightly nervous to try Carrie’s confectionary creation because if it wasn’t great I’d be disappointed. But now I can shout it from the rooftops and recommend it unreservedly to you. Go visit NoRA Cupcake Company! You will not be disappointed!
One day I’ll get together with Carrie in person. We’ll catch up… no doubt over cupcakes. Old friendships are the best, and this particular one is a little bit “sweeter” than the rest.