City Paper is not for tourists
From the little window in her new Sweetbites truck, Sandra Panetta told me she had just quit her job at the EPA the day before. I asked if she were a scientist, and Panetta said she was, a biochemist in fact. According to her own short bio page, the scientist didn’t just up and quit the EPA to launch her sweet-tooth truck three days ago; since 2001, she has also been running her own catering company specializing in pastries, cupcakes, and tarts.
Scientist-turned-pastry-chef-turned-food-truck-owner, that’s a helluva story, I told Panetta. (What I didn’t think of until now, however, is this: Savory chefs will tell you that making pastries and desserts is more science than art, with no margin for error, so maybe I shouldn’t find Panetta’s story that surprising.)
Regardless, I arrived at Sweetbites a little too late in the day to sample her prime treats. (See picture below.) The only sweets left were her “Lemon Kiss Bar,” which I thought would have been better with more citrus to balance the buttery shortbread, and her “Piña Colada” cupcake, which was not my type of dessert at all. Sweet-tart, with little bits of coconut in the white frosting, the miniature cake mimicked the rum-like flavors of the Caribbean drink with an almost scientific precision. Unfortunately, the only way I like my piña colada is under a palapa, with the waves lapping just off in the distance, my skin slightly warm from a day in the sun.
With that said, I wouldn’t judge Sweetbites by these two items. I would judge, however, that I need to make many return trips.