Atlanta Underground Market: March 26

31 Mar

Standing around wating for the second atlanta underground market to start, smiling cause I still loved cupcakes when they took this picture.

It rained the night of the second Underground Market. Maybe that’s why no one showed up. I guess it wasn’t exactly nobody, but it was a lot less than we had been expecting, and it was a crowd that was downright hospitable to cupcakes. I honestly don’t think anyone sold out—and that include the people across the way from me who were shouting obnoxiously the entire time.
I do know that at the end of the Market there was a flurry of trading that was probably the least disappointing thing about the entire event. Which is not to say that the food was bad. I really wouldn’t know, but Joss, who felt obliged to sample everything, tells me that it was mostly very good.

My dad asked me what happened to the Jim Beam. These cupcakes happened to the Jim Beam.

Think of it as Dumbledore's Army, but tasty and full of chocolate and whiskey.

Still, towards the end of the night, where there are 20 odd vendors with a ton of food left, we had to start giving things away. I gave six cupcakes to a couple, and practically forced them to do a taste test comparing my cake to the other cupcakes that had also been foisted upon them. We compared some vegan chocolate and red wine cupcakes to my chocolate rye whiskey ones. They told me mine were better (or at least boozier), and while their response might have been slightly altered because I was there, I remain convinced that what they said was true.
At nine, when it because abundantly clear that I was not going to be the hoped for 70 cupcakes (out of 150, no less) I went to the meat people (also known as Finely Cured) who make some killer salami, and also some totally kickin bacon, with a box full of cupcakes and asked them if they wanted to trade. Someone walked out of that deal 2 dozen cupcakes poorer, and a pound of bacon and a thingy of salami richer. That was me.

Packing cupcakes for transport.

I think it’s sad that there was such a disappointing lack of people at this Underground Market. I think that the Market could be very interesting: a great resource for Atlantans who love to eat. But first it has to make it out the gate. It needs to be less a novelty, and it needs to become something that everyone can afford to enter. I know that I was pretty put off by the $50 charge just to take part. That made the whole venture much less affordable, especially considering that I am cooking in my own house (or my friends, in which case I have to pay them) on my own time. As a home cook, everything costs me more.

I watched the woman across from me all night and I’m not sure if I saw anyone buy her soup. She was a nice lady, who gave me a wet wipe after I was climbing around on the loft above my stand, trying to McGyuver up a sign, and she was probably just a home cook who wanted to share her recipes. But I think she wound up loosing money. I hardly turned a profit as it was, so I can really sympathize.

Chocolate salted caramel plain, with praline, or bacon, with candied bacon.

It’s true that a lot of work needs to be done (publicity, anyone?) and it is also true that the way it is now, the Underground Market is mostly just restaurants peddling their wares. With more size, and, yes, less professionals, I think the Market could be more interesting—sort of like the Urban Picnics, which started out trendy, but have become something much more important to the food culture of Atlanta. Now, for the very nature of what it is, as a food tasting event, it will never fit in the same mold, but I think—I think I waited two days before finishing this post, holy crap.

So the point is that I made an ungodly amount of cupcakes for this. A gross of cupakes. If by “a gross” we mean “I was so coated in sugar I almost couldn’t breathe,” or “151,” or “more cupcakes than I have ever seen in my life.” You know, any of those would be accurate.

Flavors: Pomegranate Lime, Lemon Blackberry, Chocolate Rye Whiskey, Salted Caramel and Chocolate, and a bacon variation. My dad told me that chocolate bacon is overdone. Well, he’s right, and there’s a damn good reason for it. Everyone buys it. And by everyone I mean “some of the three people who bought my cupcakes and helped me make that $30 profit. You big spenders, you.”

So, it was kind of a bummer. If it didn’t cost so absurdly much to enter, and if I hadn’t been overhyped by the woman running it who, I suppose had a good reason to expect the turnout that she did, but was still, unfortunately for all of us, mistaken, I would probably do it again.

(But before I get carried away with my vindictive sass, I really do feel for the woman running it, who is trying her hardest to start something that must be incredibly frustrating, so when I say it was her, I really mean that she told me a number and my ability to count out grains of salt went out the window.)

As it is, I worked for two straight days for $30.

Too many cupcakes on the countertop. Doesn't quite have the ring to it.

I may never make a cupcake again. (Because you know that saying about “too many dicks on the dance floor”? —Hopefully don’t, actually, because I occasionally find myself walking around muttering that,—Think about it this was, the Underground Market was like that, only with cupcakes, not dicks.)

2 Responses to “Atlanta Underground Market: March 26”

  1. Michaela April 1, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Just to let you know, the last time we had 1000 people in and that doesn’t include all the people that left the line after standing in line for an hour. All I can do is quote previous numbers, so this wasn’t overhyped. The last time people were complaining that way too many people knew about it.

    As to the price – it costs me $ 3,000 to put this together, if the venue is free. So, for 40 venders to be paying $ 50 doesn’t even cover my cost.

    It’s really easy to complain about the things you think were wrong, when you don’t even know the full picture.

    • Tim April 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

      I “hear you” on maybe not making a cupcake again. In my case it’s pork belly; I was across from you and I think I lent you a black permanent marker. I cooked everything at home as well and even though I “netted” just a tad more than you I personally considered it a success. I was happy to have challenged myself accomplishing it unscathed and gained a lot of invaluable experience. I suppose it boils down to what individuals wanted to gain from it, be it for profit or simply for the experience. I hope to peddle some eats at the next Market as I think it’s a great affordable way to market/advertise one’s food/business.

      I wish I had bartered with Finely Cured like you; instead I walked away with some production beverages (Black Iced Tea, Mango/Anise soda, etc). My friend was able to nab some of your cupcakes though and we thoroughly enjoyed them.

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