Editor's choice 

The Times staff goes its own way on 'bests'

click to enlarge THE 'BLACKOUT': Highlight at bakery.
  • THE 'BLACKOUT': Highlight at bakery.

As always, the Times staff exercised editorial prerogative to issue our own list of bests to accompany readers' choices in the standard categories.

We looked for overlooked categories, but we also took the occasion to differ with readers here and there.


Best cake: It's the Boston cream cake (more familiarly known as pie) at Boulevard Bread Co. It's a slightly updated version of a slightly dowdy old treat, but we think it's comfort food at its finest — moist yellow cake, comforting and cool custard and a cap of chocolate icing of the darkest, richest Belgian ganache. It'll cost you almost $4 a slice, but it's an affordable indulgence. Also on offer among Boulevard's newish lineup of custom cakes is classic coconut; the “blackout,” a chocolate layer cake with chocolate pudding and mocha butter cream; carrot cake; chocolate fudge and yellow cake with strawberry icing.


Best authority among local judges on the Gunfight at the OK Corral: U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson Jr. He's been to Tombstone several times, read just about everything in the canon, and written on the gunfight himself for “In Camera,” a publication of the Federal Judges Association (“Shoot Out and Trial,” June 2005). He points out in the first paragraph of his article that the famous gunplay occurred not at the OK Corral itself, but at a nearby vacant lot next to Fly's Boarding House.

“I've been fascinated with it [the shoot-out] all my life,” the judge says. “The real story is more interesting than the movie version.” For those who want to read more, he recommends “And Die in the West” by Paula Mitchell Marks and “Wyatt Earp — The Life Behind the Legend” by Casey Tefertiller.


Best museum: Old State House. At last, a museum with interesting stuff, not just Indian pottery from the 17th century or paintings of people with all their eyes on one side of their head. The current main-event exhibit is “Badges, Bandits and Bars: Arkansas Law and Justice.” It's got horse thieves and hanging judges, tommy guns and Tucker Telephones, death masks of murderers and roulette wheels from long-gone Hot Springs casinos. One trip probably won't be enough. Some months before “Badges,” the Old State House featured an exhibit devoted to Arkansas's many musical stars. Johnny Cash's black outfit was there, Louis Jordan's saxophone, and much more. We'd almost forgotten about Sister Rosetta Tharp. Year-round, the Old State House contains the original state House of Representatives chamber, where Arkansas's first speaker of the House stabbed to death an obstreperous colleague, pretty much setting the tone for Arkansas debate ever since.


Best museum that no one in Central Arkansas is talking about: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. It doesn't have walls or a roof yet, but when it does, it should be a masterpiece. Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the facility and the art, which will include works from the 18th century to the present. Norman Rockwell may not be high art (“Rosie the Riveter” will find a home there) but James Turrell and Mark di Suvero should make up for the nostalgic stuff. Big question: When will it be complete? Maybe 2011?


Newest best view of downtown Little Rock: It's not a high-rise look over the city, but the view of Little Rock's River Market district and all the shiny buildings that have sprouted there from the new Heifer Village is fantastic. You can appreciate it along with a sandwich on Cafe@Heifer's patio or you can just walk around and enjoy it. Great landscaping there as well.



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