ON THE ROAD; VOCATIONS AND EVOLUTIONS; SMALL NJ BUSINESS DISCOVERIES; “TASTE THE CAKES” LONG BRANCH, N.J. by Calvin Schwartz June 29th
It was one of those bright bulb days as opposed to dim bulb. With all the travelling I do around the state, why don’t I take advantage and do a series. It’s like a line from one my favorite movies, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” (from ‘Casablanca’). So I said to myself (the bright bulb idea), why don’t I harness some of this travelling energy, and discover some business stories in towns throughout New Jersey. This new feature here at NJ Discover.com is just that; brief, quirky, through the looking glass views at what makes NJ great; small business people, their places and how they evolved. And who knows, maybe a new gin joint one day.
For the longest time, covering many events that featured food, celebrations, music and announcements, I’ve noticed works of art that were actually especially crafted, baked cakes with picture perfect impressionistic icing. They were the special creations of Amy Levine, daughter of Steven Levine from the WindMill restaurants.
I heard Amy and mother Sandy Levine had opened up a bakery/ ice cream store. ‘Taste the Cakes’ in Long Branch, actually on the other side of the parking lot from the WindMill with its iconic newly installed wind mill blades perched on top. I was due at Monmouth University, nearby, later that afternoon. The timing was perfect. It’s funny, about the first impressions notion that came to me. As I was walking in the rear door, suddenly the movie Willie Wonka came to mind; indeed, a stream of consciousness. I was in a magical factory albeit small but magical in the variety of treats they create.
Amy and I found a quiet corner in the rear storage area. Out front, two young women customers were having boutique sundaes made. I asked Amy (the aforementioned ‘evolution’) how did all this baking come about. “I was always into baking all the time. Probably about 2 to 3 years ago, I started really getting into it.” Logically, my next question was about training and schooling. “I took classes at Michaels in Queens, New York, Sugar Heart in Pennsylvania and a course on macaroons.”
I mentioned how much cakes and baking are part of our pop culture now, referring to the ‘cake boss.’ I wondered if she had any kind of a favorite culinary pursuit. “I like baking/creating everything.” Amy never really thought about having her own place. Then all of a sudden, her aunt Rena Levy, also from the WindMill, along with her father Steven, offered this great opportunity to lease the space and they excitedly went for it. With her mother Sandy around to help, it was the perfect opportunity. Sandy and I talked about our Newark, NJ commonality and roots.
In addition to the boutique cakes, they also do ice cream sandwiches which are embellished by the customer. There are fresh baked cookies also topped with ice cream. I smelled something baking. It was fresh waffles on a stick which you hold in your hand; definitely rare and unique. They are open during the summer season seven days a week. Normally, at this juncture, I would mention what I walked out eating but imagination is good as is everything at Taste the Cakes.
Tastethecakesnj@gmail.com 732-233-7688 Taste The Cakes 588 Ocean Avenue Long Branch NJ