Brunch and me, we’re on a first-name basis. Breakfast and brunch are my favorite meals. Apparently Warren Brown, owner of CakeLove bakeries, shares this passion for morning meals.
Brown recently hosted a book-signing event in Shirlington for his third cookbook, “CakeLove In the Morning: Recipes for Muffins, Scones, Pancakes, Waffles, Biscuits, Frittatas and Other Breakfast Treats.”
The attorney-turned-baker has appeared on Oprah and hosted shows on the Food Network. He just opened a store in Fair Oaks Mall — his sixth, including the Shirlington location.
I was delighted to find out Brown would be speaking at the Shirlington Library and bringing some brunch treats with him. I've been a fan for years — not just of his bake goods, but his CakeLove Manifesto: Nothing is Fat-Free.
I arrived early. Instead of the traditional book-signing, Brown treated those in attendance to a conversation among fellow foodies.
A husband and father of two young daughters, Brown said brunch is how his family often entertains guests.
“If you really do it right, you just have to make one meal that day,” he said.
Many of the recipes in the book are menu items Brown used to serve at Love Café, a restaurant on U Street in Washington that he closed earlier this year. I used to frequent Love Café and the Busboys & Poets at 14th and U in the district before both opened Shirlington locations and brought a slice of U Street to Arlington.
The photos in the book were taken in his home where he was “cooking up a storm,” he said. “I got tendonitis in my arm because we were cooking 12 hours a day, five days in a row.”
Laid back, Brown believes cooking should be fun, an ongoing experiment. He views book-signings as an opportunity to participate in one of his favorite things about cooking, talking about recipes. “I love to talk about recipes, about ingredients and about the dynamics of all the ingredients.”
Some of the recipes in the book are simple yet creative, like the grilled romaine lettuce. I eat romaine all the time and never thought about dousing it with vinegar and olive oil and throwing it on the grill.
He includes savory dishes, an heirloom tomato salad with fresh basil, for instance. Of course there are cakes — lots of mouth-watering, rich cakes.
Which gets me back to the CakeLove philosophy: “Nothing is fat-free.”
Says Brown, a cake without fat is called bread. He uses real butter and real cream, nothing artificial. He discourages the use of shortening, margarine or other solid stuff pretending to be butter.
One woman wondered how a butter-loving, cake-selling man could maintain his slim physique? “I don’t eat CakeLove every day,” he said. “Maybe every other day."
He also swims. His approach to staying fit reminds me of my brother’s motto regarding diet and exercise: “I run because I like to eat.”
That’s what I love about the CakeLove way. It’s about going all out, embracing the full flavor.
Why settle for reduced anything?