When you just don't know what to do with that stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Snack

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.


Selecting croquetas at Mercat Santa Caterina

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The last trip to Barcelona, the fourth time in the Catalan capital, opened with a spot never visited on previous holidays; ironically have always seen it from afar but never made the effort to really take a good look.

Arriving in the city following a Mediterranean cruise with close friends, immediately got to wandering around the hotel’s neighborhood, the Barri Gòtic, and strolled towards the Mercat Santa Caterina.

Located along a wide clearing, a couple blocks from the Barcelona Cathedral, it’s not as vast as the famous La Boqueria along La Rambla, but it still offers a wide variety of goods; from fresh meats to ready-made meals. Renovated in 2005, the structure features a colorful ceramic roof, fitting for the city Antoni Gaudí called home.

After taking in the sights of the market was drawn to a display case filled with all kinds of croquetas.

Croquetas are delicious fried goodies covered in breadcrumbs and filled with a mix of mashed potatoes and some kind of meat. Anything with jamón was the easy choice, but with the array of options available, it was hard to choose – plus, was still planning a full meal afterwards, but was not going to be satisfied picking just one.

Given it was a few days in Barcelona, and it was close to the hotel, should have made it a daily stop and picked up a different flavor each day (something to think about for the fifth visit).

Written by Paulo Loreto

April 13, 2018 at 8:19 PM

PB&J cupcakes in Brooklyn

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If there is anything that immediately draws my attention it’s a pastry shop. Whether it’s some high-end place selling french macarons and ornately-decorated cakes or a little bakeshop with a variety of cookies and cupcakes in their display case, it is always a gorgeous sight.

Wandering Bay Ridge on the last visit to New York City, happened across the Little Cupcake Bakeshop. It is lovely little shop with a variety of goodies in their display case.

Apparently, they also have three locations across New York City – two in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan.

When a place offers such a wide variety of goods, it’s always difficult to choose. However, on this visit, it wasn’t so hard a decision. There was the fact that I was staying with friends in the neighborhood, so a follow-up visit was more than likely; then spotted their peanut butter and jelly cupcake – there’s no denying anything PB&J.

The cute little cupcake, topped with peanut butter cream and drizzled with jelly, was just beautiful; even typing about, the PB&J smell that wafted from the cupcake are coming to mind.

In all honesty, as mentioned before, anything PB&J is a must – but a cupcake might be one of the best variations.

Written by Paulo Loreto

April 6, 2018 at 8:11 PM

Getting a free cup of tea for the subway ride into Brooklyn

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After a day of wandering Manhattan, found myself in Greenwich Village. The sun was going down and it started to drizzle, with a chill in the air, needed something warm for the subway ride back to Brooklyn. Remembered there was a tea shop in the area that specialized in loose leaf tea.

Was first introduced to DAVIDsTEA when an old friend from high school posted about working there and, given it was so close to my old office near Washington Square Park, previously made the effort to stop by to say “Hi” and enjoy a cup of tea. She has since gone on to other things, but the tea shop remains a fixture.

Have since made visits to other locations, including one in Brooklyn, and have come to appreciate a cup of freshly steeped tea. Usually a coffee drinker (and still prefer a strong cup of coffee), there are many occasions when a relaxing cup of tea just does the trick.

In addition, considering the heavily-publicized health benefits (both physically and mentally), tea is even more of a draw.

As much as one would prefer to try different flavors, especially with the variety of unique offerings at DAVIDsTEA, almost always default to mate.

On this drizzling night, stopped in and, as usual, ordered mate. To my surprise, after it was prepared, the representative handed over the cup and said, “It’s on the house.” What was already a delicious cup of tea became even tastier. Had never experienced that in other visits and was hoping it would happen on a subsequent visit, but it didn’t happen (still enjoyed the tea, though).

Written by Paulo Loreto

March 23, 2018 at 8:13 PM

A barnyard wedding at Yankee Stadium

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A visit to New York City is typically not complete without a visit to Yankee Stadium. However, this time around, it wasn’t for baseball, but for soccer. In New York City, am still a New York Red Bulls supporter, but was more than willing to catch a couple New York City Football Club (NYCFC) matches and even went home with a David Villa height chart (which still has not been put up, but will at some point).

One of the highlights with every visit to the stadium is the food. During the days of catching baseball games with a good friend who had season tickets, a part of the experience was also seeing what food to enjoy – trying to pick something new (after a while, though, one ends up coming back to a favorite).

At one point, picked up one of the signature sandwiched from Lobel’s, at the time, they only had one item on their menu. They have since expanded and will probably peruse the latest selections on the next visit.

Approaching one of the concession stands and checking out what they had to offer, was juggling choices with every column scanned. Was intrigued by the “barnyard wedding” at first glance, but kept my options open. In the end, went with the instincts.

Hard to argue against a sandwich that includes a beef patty, a fried chicken cutlet, and a hash brown.

The sandwich was pretty stacked, not impossible like those items shown on TV, where the host is unlatching their jaw like a snake, but it was a sizeable bite. Oddly enough, the most exciting part of the experience might have been the hash brown. I am a big fan of hash browns and wish they were served all day long, and not cut off after 10:30 a.m., and this sandwich offered that fix. However, as random as the sandwich appeared, it made for a delicious day.

Written by Paulo Loreto

March 10, 2018 at 1:03 AM

Sticky buns at a farmer’s market

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While vacationing in New York City and staying with good friends in Brooklyn, ventured out one weekend with plans to stop by a local farmer’s market set up in the parking lot of a nearby pharmacy/convenience store. That morning there was a vendor selling strawberries – a lot of strawberries. Picked some up, which were eventually enjoyed as part of a parfait.

Slowly wandered the small area and spotted a vendor with heaps of baked goods. When it comes to bread and baked goods, it is always difficult to choose. On every visit to a personal favorite bakery, Paris Baguette, it always takes a few rounds looking through the self-serve display case before deciding on the one or two (or three) items to purchase.

Amid the array of bread and rolls, there was also a display of sticky buns – there was no way I could leave without picking one up. They looked so beautiful. At just the sight of it, could already taste its sweetness; plus, it was topped with nuts, so there was also an anticipation for contrasting textures whenever that first bite would take place.

After the market, continued with the rest of the day and was left to enjoy the pastry at a later time. I have a feeling it would have been amazing on the spot, without a day’s wear on it, but it was still delicious. The bread was a bit dense, but that was likely intensified from sitting in a bag for most of the day – it was still good.

In Bacolod City, it’s hard to find good bread and pastries. Most of it is pre-packaged and those marketed as “fresh” are, often times, missing key ingredients, leaving their products excessively crumby, to the point where it virtually disintegrates after the first bite; or they’re really dry, dense, and bland.

Written by Paulo Loreto

February 23, 2018 at 8:18 PM

Picking up takeout on a lazy Brooklyn afternoon

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Since moving to the Philippines five years ago, on those indecisive days trying to figure out what to eat, the old reliable Chinese takeout place becomes a very-much missed commodity. Something as basic as the standard Chinese takeaway joint is all-too-often taken for granted and one of those things I’ve grown to miss once it’s not there anymore.

Not sure why the concept hasn’t taken off in Bacolod City. There are Chinese establishments, but they are all expansive restaurants (with attached banquet halls). However, the only thing I’m craving is a hole-in-the-wall spot that has a $4.75 lunch special.

Stopping for Chinese takeout was a regular occurrence back when living in the US; on every visit back, there has always been a visit to the random spot down the street or around the corner.

The classic entrée that comes with rice and the choice of soup or soda, is all too typical when living and working in New York City, but when visiting, after at least a year of being away, those kind of things become treasured. It would seem like something so simple would be adaptable to most cultures – given the practice has expanded to other parts of the world outside the US – but for the local culture in Bacolod City it, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem to be something attractive.

On the last trip, while staying in Brooklyn, after a long morning of work, followed by some time at the gym, venturing into Manhattan was the last thing on my mind. Stopped at a nearby grocery store and noticed a Chinese place a block over. Placed an order for a sesame chicken lunch special, along with an order of dumplings, and went back to the grocery store as they prepared the lunch set.

Getting back to the apartment, put the groceries away and plopped on the couch for some basic takeout and daytime television. Thinking back while sitting behind a desk in the Philippines, yes, those things, as mundane as they may seem, are definitely taken for granted.

Written by Paulo Loreto

February 18, 2018 at 5:20 AM