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.