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Archive for the ‘Coffee’ Category

Stopping for a café con leche along the Passeig de Gràcia

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One morning in Barcelona, walked up the Passeig de Gràcia, a street lined with restaurants and shops, and was looking for a breakfast spot. Along that street, have enjoyed breakfast at Navarra Restaurant on previous visits, a Basque bar that offers “American breakfast,” which came with really good bacon; they also have one of those fresh orange juice machines that cracks out some of the most flavorful juice.

Not in the mood for something heavy, was looking to sit down to something, shall we call it, European? Happened across a familiar spot, Farrgi, which has traditionally (for me) been a place for ice cream and gelato; however, I do recall stopping at a different location and having a really tasty sandwich.

Walked in and saw there was a line, which offered ample time to check out the offerings for the morning and it was a pretty easy selection. A croissant and a café con leche were exactly what was needed to start the day.

Oddly enough, have had similar breakfasts when working in New York City, but, for whatever reason, it just feels different in Barcelona.

The croissant, as expected, light and flaky; but the café con leche was spot-on. Even during the preceding cruise, throughout Italy, it was espressos and cappuccinos, but once crossing into the Spanish and Catalan territories, it was café con leches every morning – and this was no different.

It sounds a bit overdramatic but, thinking about the numerous times enjoying a hot café con leche, whether it be a morning at a nearby bar or a quiet café, it always offers a moment to sit back and enjoy the memories.

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Could get used to this breakfast

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Having lived in New Jersey, while working in New York City, had the first encounter with a Paris Baguette at their Edison, NJ location. An incredible array of pastries and goodies, a fusion between French and Korean flavors, that ended up in something delicious no matter what was selected. Found another location soon after in Koreatown, in midtown Manhattan, and it made the day – and living, in general – all the better.

Vacationing in Seoul, found out there were three Paris Baguette locations within walking distance of the hotel; a veritable heaven. Upon finding all the locations, it was, just about, a daily pilgrimage to find something to snack on or bring back to the hotel. After finding the first one, had to have breakfast there and it was something that could be enjoyed every day is possible.

Picked up a bulgogi sandwich and ordered an iced green tea latte – their green tea lattes were also a huge favorite in NYC.

Had a view of a new city to explore, a warm and delicious sandwich, and, still, some of the greatest takeaway cups known to man. There was nothing that could bring down the day – even confusion on the subway was relieved after thinking back to the amazing start.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

ParisBaguette1

The Little Things

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Before moving overseas, things like pop tarts were barely a blip on the radar. Of course, enjoyed them occasionally, either toasted or just out of the bag, and that was that – nothing too deep. As with the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” that seeing the massive mark-up retailers subject things like pop tarts to conjured up cravings for the toaster pastries.

Thinking with the wallet first, never bought them – the prices are unrealistic and knowing how they’re priced elsewhere, it’s easy to say “No.”

Not until they were offering them as part of a Buy One, Get One Free offer, then it became a manageable venture. And, as with most big supermarkets, these offers only come by when they’ve accumulated a surplus nearing expiration, as was the case with the brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts.

Pop Tarts

Usually go for a strawberry or s’mores fillings but beggars can’t be choosers, and with a couple weeks before the printed expiration date, picked up the double pack.

Toasted up a pair of the packaged breakfast treats, sat back with cup of local Batangas coffee and the paper, and really developed an appreciation for something so basic as pop tarts.

Written by Paulo Loreto

March 26, 2016 at 2:54 PM

Bear Towne Java

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Spent Sunday morning strolling the charming streets of New Bern, North Carolina and found a spot for a morning cup, Bear Towne Java. Perused the menu and picked out a flavored latte, took a while to figure out exactly what flavor, given the numerous options the shop had posted. Given the proximity to Halloween and Thanksgiving, went with gingerbread.

As a first visit to the shop – the first time in New Bern – only getting acquainted with the town, but saw a note indicating the shop was closing on November 1st; including encouragement for regulars to “stop by on Friday Oct. 30 from 5:30 – 7:30 and enjoy a cup of coffee on us and maybe share a memory or two.”

The establishment has been around since 2003.

While it is unclear who is coming into the space, it is always emotional seeing a local coffeeshop go by the wayside – even if it was the first time setting foot into the place.

All the best to all those connected to Bear Towne Java, if the smiles and friendly service received on this first visit is reflective of how they run their business, it’s clear it is will be a missed spot in town.

The primo-size Gingerbread Latte, with Whipped Cream.

The primo-size Gingerbread Latte, with Whipped Cream.

Written by Paulo Loreto

October 26, 2015 at 5:50 AM

Coffeebreak Near Dongmen Market

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Traveling between markets in Taipei, starting the day in Shilin and taking the train to Dongmen, got a heavy dose of wandering the narrow corridors of the local goods and food vendors the city is famous for. Literally, spent hours taking in the sights, smells, and tastes every corner had to offer, after leaving the Dongmen Market, wandered around and spotted a park – not knowing it was Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park – and stopped into the nearest coffee shop and couldn’t have been more pleased with the result.

Walked into Louisa Coffee and was greeted by entire staff – with every swing of the door, the employees offer a lively “Ni hao!” A small café, took a gander at the expansive menu of coffee. The barista was very accommodating with giving different options on adjusting the coffee for taste, along with sugar content. Ordered an iced milk tea latte and it was delicious. Even coming with the sealed lid that typical milk tea comes with, the latte was exploding with milk tea flavor. At one point, kept stirring, finding some resistance in the cup, thinking it was a syrup or powder that had yet to dissolve, once finished, found an entire tea bag in the cup – which explains the strong flavor.

Combine the customer service and the great coffee, Louisa Coffee is easily a prime coffee spot in Taipei.

Louisa Coffee

Written by Paulo Loreto

October 12, 2015 at 1:58 AM

Coffee Breaks at A Twosome Place

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A vacation in Shanghai meant wandering around a new city, taking in new sights and exploring roads in an unfamiliar environment. Sometimes it was before starting the day, sometimes it was a midday break, right across the street – over the elevated walkway – from the hotel, was Korean coffee shop chain A Twosome Place.

Always a good spot to stop for a Flat White, but also an array of bread and pastries awaited customers when you enter. One of the highlights was a flaky and sugary pastry filled with delicious cream. Beyond the attractive appearance of the pastry, it was prepared so well, biting into it, the crispy and flaky crust lent itself well with the sweet and creamy filling that made for a lovely break in the day.

With new opportunities to travel around Asia, always good to know if A Twosome Place is around, it’s a reliable spot to take a break.

Twosome Place

Written by Paulo Loreto

August 29, 2015 at 7:35 AM

Vietnamese Coffee in Bacolod City

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Bacolod City’s Saigon Café has relaunched as Rau Ram Café, located just across the street from the original location, in a more structured setting than the initial setup. The menu and staff hasn’t changed, just the surroundings, and it’s a welcome change to an already tasty assortment of offerings.

One of the main attractions is the cà phê đá, the Vietnamese Iced Coffee that is served in the traditional way, with a cà phê phin, the drip device derived from the influential French occupation of Vietnam and the Indochina region.

Upon ordering, servers leave the coffee to drip into a glass containing a large portion of condensed milk. Once finished, they bring a glass of ice, which the coffee is then poured over; creating a cold, sweet, and delicious drink for the warm and humid days in Bacolod.

A visit to Rau Ram isn’t complete without an iced coffee.

A visit to Rau Ram isn’t complete without an iced coffee.

Written by Paulo Loreto

July 14, 2015 at 7:34 AM