Mister Donut

While staying in Kyoto, we did a quickie side trip to neighboring Nara. There was a lot of walking involved. And temples. Not a lot of eating, however.

But we did end up at a Mister Donut, which are pretty ubiquitous in Japan. This was my first foray into this establishment. I think there was a doughnut craze here a few years back, with crazy two hour lines when they opened Krispy Kremes in Tokyo. I’m not sure if they’re particularly superior to the home-grown Misdo chain, but I guess a trend is a trend …

The seasonal flavor of ‘sakura’ was all over the place, including the doughnut shop.

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Tea House Lipton

After crashing in Tokyo for one night, I was off to Kyoto the next morning on the Shinkansen (bullet train). The Green Car was very nice, indeed. It was roomy and comfortable, and I was feeling very relaxed after a long journey. The train I was on had no Wifi or power outlets, however. I’m not entirely sure I’d splurge on Green Car next time.

Kyoto Station is a behemoth, and it took me several days to get oriented on where things were. There’s the Isetan department store (11 floors of shopping), cafes, restaurants, book shops, food stores, souvenir shops…you could spend a whole day inside the station alone. There’s also the Porta underground mall adjacent to the station. We only ventured in briefly one morning, but almost everything was still closed. The Tea House Lipton was open, however, and my brother bought a few pretty looking pastries for the road.

…by the way, not all restaurants do takeaway in Japan. Most cafes do, I think, but it’s always safe to ask ahead.

Pictured above is the strawberry “candle” cake made with custard cream. We had this with a cup of Cafe du Monde coffee in Kyoto Station.

Also:

A cream puff! I think cream puffs need to catch on and be the next cupcake donut of the local fads. I propose a Beard Papa cream puffs branch for DC, pronto!

Photos in this post taken by my brother

Merry Christmas!

WOW. Okay, so I’m an utter blog failure. After being away for so long, it gets harder and harder to come back, haha. However, I do have a whole lot of stuff on my computer that I can post, if only I remember the meals themselves. And with the year coming to an end and all, it seems as good a time as any to start again. Hopefully I’ll be posting more regularly for 2012…or at least that’s the plan. ♥

Meanwhile, I hope everyone has been having a great holiday and Christmas! It always feels a bit anti-climatic when Christmas falls on a weekend. It’s a day off ANYWAY so it doesn’t feel special at all. And tomorrow is back to the grind, which is no fun at all. The week between Christmas and New Year is kind of a drag, too. I didn’t really do anything too special this year. Being Japanese means Christmas is just about presents, more or less. (We’re more New Year’s people, and even that has been more and more low-key in my family in recent years). But I always try to get a log cake since it’s any excuse for seasonal sweets is a good one.

I got it from Les Delices bakery again this year. Last year’s Bûche de Noël was from there as well, and I had been a bit disappointed by the mildness of the praline cake. I decided to go with the classic chocolate this year, and it was definitely much better! The vanilla cake was very moist and soft, and the chocolate mousse icing whipped and wonderful. Not too sweet, which seems to be a pretty consistent trait with the bakery items at Les Delices.

More pics under the cut, including a poached pear tart, also from the same bakery:

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Les Delices Bakery

A friend of mine highly recommended a bakery in Rockville called Les Delices a while back. (I did a post on their Christmas cookies a few months ago). I love this place! It’s off of Gude Drive in Rockville, in a rather smallish strip mall. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but once you walk in and the buttery aroma wafts around you, you know you’ve come to the right place. ♥

I’ve only tried their mango and black currant cakes so far, and they’re both quite delicious! Pictured above is the black currant cake. It was a great balance of tart and sweet. I loved that it wasn’t too heavy or cloying!

Remember to bring cash, as they don’t take credit cards there.

A few more pics:

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Holiday Cakes

What’s any holiday without a tasty cake to celebrate it? Every Christmas for the last few years, I’ve gotten a Bûche de Noël – Christmas log cake – and each year I try to get them from different bakeries.

This year I decided to try one from the aforementioned Les Delices bakery in Rockville. They had a choice of praline or chocolate, and I went with the former (pictured above). I thought it was okay…maybe a little subdued in flavor? At least the icing wasn’t too oily or thick, but it left me feeling like it could’ve been a little sweeter. Perhaps the chocolate was the way I should’ve gone.

More after the jump:

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Christmas Cookies

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Just wanted to drop in with this cookie post, since I got such cute and colorful ones at the Les Delices Bakery today. (I’ll be doing another post on this bakery later). I ♥ this bakery very much! This cash-only place is off of Gude Drive in Rockville.

I really liked these cookies! Nice, and not too sweet. They paired perfectly with my cup of Prince of Wales tea with milk. (^__^)

I also got a tin of Christmas themed cookies from Yoku Moku, a Japanese cookie company. (Not at Les Delices – these were a gift). I love their smooth, buttery cookies! It’s a bit of a hassle to unwrap each one when you just wanna dive in and eat them all in one go, but I suppose it helps to restrain yourself so you don’t consume an entire tin at once.

Obviously, I took the above picture after several cookies had already been eaten, but you can still see how cheerful it looked with all the pretty colors. As for the cookies themselves:

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Le Pain Quotidien

My first encounter with Le Pain Quotidien was in Bryant Park, New York, a couple years ago. I loved it! Even the pesto sauce in my sandwich, which was unusual for me, since I had an inexplicable aversion to pesto. I was pretty excited when the chain finally made its way to the D.C. area, and I believe the first of their local branches was the Bethesda store. I’ve popped over there several times since it opened, but this would be my first time blogging them. (^__^)v This post combines a couple visits that I made there in the last few weeks.

The decor: I like the interior quite a bit. There are high ceilings throughout and a shiny counter filled with delicious looking pastries in the front. And of course, there has to be the signature communal table, a colossal slab of reclaimed wood that dominates the center of the room. The Bethesda store has two dining areas, each one with its own communal table. I like sitting at the communal table, as it’s more spacious and comfortable.

And now for the food: Pictured above is the grilled chicken and smoked mozzarella tartine “with arugula and basil pesto.” I’m not sure that I got any arugula, and I would know because I love arugula. There was definitely some kind of green leaf, but it might have been something else. Very tasty indeed, even the pesto. XD Although, I do feel like it’s a bit pricey for what you get.

More after the jump:

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Cupcakes by Heather & Lori

I was walking through the high end shopping district of Robson Street in downtown Vancouver when I saw a pretty pink awning and a sign that was sure to catch my eye: Cupcakes by Heather and Lori. Of course, I had to go inside and see what they had. The store was adorable, and so were the cupcakes! Loved that they came in three different sizes for all your cupcake needs. I wanted to try a whole variety of flavors, so I opted to get a package of the mini size. (^O^)v

There was lemon with a sliver of jellied lemon candy… Chocolate cake with mocha butter cream topped with an espresso bean… Chocolate cake with raspberry butter cream and red sprinkles… Coconut cake with cream cheese frosting and coconut shavings…just to name a few. I wish I remembered what the blue frosting was! XD

I also wish that more cupcakeries in my area would do the mini size. That way, you could try more flavors without the guilt of having scarfed down a whole full-sized cupcake!

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Granville Island

Granville Island was one of my favorite places in Vancouver! So much so that in the short few days I was in the city, we went there twice…even though it took a couple bus transfers and a hike to get there. It’s a marketplace that has everything you could possibly want (almost), from fresh produce and seafood to fancy baked items and chocolates. If I lived in Vancouver, I would try to make my way out there every week. (*___*)♥ Love!

The market itself is indoors, housed in a very large building that holds dozens of vendors. I could spend hours browsing the aisles! There was a tiny booth specializing in tea, complete with a mini counter where you could drink your freshly brewed cuppa. Counters upon counters of delicate and delicious looking pastries that made my mouth water. A large shiny display of fresh caught salmon – pricey but well worth it (we took home a few to cook for dinner). There were soup counters, spice sellers, coffee vendors and candy makers. Even a shop that specialized in pies – both sweet and savory.

You could also shop for non-food items, like handmade crafts, fine art, photographs and the like. The second market building next door had more of those crafty shops too, though it seemed that those stores were more established ones, compared to the more casual market vendor feel in the main building.

Pictured above is one of the colorful and delectable pastry counters. I wanted to order everything in there!

More under after the jump:

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18 Feb 2010, 8:37pm
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Hello Cupcake

Today, The Washington Post reported that New York’s Crumbs cupcake shop will be opening their first D.C. store in May at the corner of 11th and F, NW. The owner was quoted as saying that Washingtonians are cupcake n00bs and that we need to be schooled (by them, I guess) on the true magnificence of The Cupcake. This threw a few locals into a bit of tizzy, which I found rather amusing. So a New Yorker wants to talk smack about cupcakes. “Whatever, whatever,” as Mike Isabella would say. Hell if I care, just give me my cupcake!!!1! \(^O^)/

…on that note: Hello Cupcake! I’ve blogged this place before, but that was only one flavor, so thought I’d revisit it again to post a few more. This isn’t really my favorite cupcake shop in town, but they do have a lot of flavors, which is nice. It can be hit-or-miss, so it’s important to select wisely.

Pictured at the top is the triple coconut, which is one of their better ones. The cake was light and airy, and I thought the icing was creamy and nice! Made with a trio of coconut cake, coconut cream cheese frosting, and toasted coconut flakes.

More after the jump:

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Tartine

tartine breakfast bun

The first of my San Francisco posts! Tartine is a lovely bakery/cafe that is every bit worth the 1.6 miles I plodded to get there. (Long story). After foolishly forgoing the bus and hauling myself a good distance on foot – something that I recommend for everyone to do first thing in the morning =D – I treated myself to yummy pastries and a hot cup of cappuccino.

It’s a lovely little shop, very quaint, though bustling. My only complaint is that that cappuccino was tiny!

Pictured above is the fabulous morning bun, sugary with a hint of citrus. I took one home, and it kept for a few days. X)

More under the cut:

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22 Sep 2009, 7:00am
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Red Velvet Cupcakery

red velvet

For my birthday earlier this month, my dear friend bought be a dozen cupcakes from Red Velvet Cupcakery! \(^O^)/ Red Velvet is a cupcake shop located dangerously close to my office in downtown D.C. Actually, it’s not exactly an easy distance for a quick break, so I don’t find myself in there too often. This is a good thing, because it’s much too tempting, otherwise!

Their Penn Quarter shop has been open for a while now, and they recently opened a new one in Dupont Circle as well. (Whoa, rivalry with the other Dupont cupcakery, Hello Cupcake!) These cupcake shops seem to be springing up everywhere. Is there room enough in this town for them all!? Georgetown Cupcake may have the best in the city, but Red Velvet has an edge over Hello for the Dupont shops in my opinion. Hello may have better flavor selections and slightly cheaper prices, but I think Red Velvet cupcakes have better icing, and moister cakes that stay fresh longer.

But here’s something rather vexing about them: I can’t look up the exact cupcake flavors because Red Velvet has mysteriously changed their website! It’s now a very ugly and unhelpful single page (no links to flavors or anything), which looks neither appetizing nor inviting. They used to have such a pretty website. What happened?

Anyway, enough with the rant and on to the cupcakes:

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Stella's Bakery

stellas pastry

Yay~ lovely pastries from Stella’s! I’ve been going to this bakery for years, and I really love it. I usually go here for special occasions such as picking up a birthday cake (the Grand Mariner mousse being the go-to flavor).

Of course, they’ve got plenty of other things besides cakes, from breads to flaky savory turnovers. I like their mini pastries because you can taste a bunch of different things without over-indulging. XD These are a few of them: mini eclair, mini cream puff swan, and mini napoleon.

They’ve also got cute fruit tart minis as well:

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Something Sweet

something sweet chocolate orange

Whee~ new bakery in town! \(^O^)/ And it’s down by 2 Amys Pizza in Woodley Park on Macomb Street, so I imagine they get a lot of the post-lunch/dinner crowd hankering for a little …well, Something Sweet.

Confession: I haven’t actually been there. Still, I am blatantly blogging about it anyway because I can! Fellow foodie Nevin stopped in there last Friday and picked up a few cupcakes, of which I got to sample two. ♥ Actually, these cupcakes were scarfed down in the car on the way to The Counter (see previous post). Me + eating + vehicle = not a good idea. I got icing and crumbs all over myself, but most of the tasty made its way into my mouth. o(^__^)o

Here’s the orange cupcake with chocolate ganache. The icing was not too sweet, in a good way. The cake had a hint of citrus, and reminded me of madeleines. Very good for a cupcake that was being consumed 2 days later, after some refrigeration. I’m sure it was excellent at its freshest peak.

Btw, the pirate thing is a plastic ring, which you can have stuck onto your cupcake. I think this is for the benefit of delighting little kids, and uh, Nevin.

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S'mores Cupcake

smores cupcake

Anthony Bourdain once famously said that vegans were the “Hezbollah-like splinter faction” of vegetarians. And…I have to admit, that made me chuckle a lot. While I have respect for people who can keep up such a diet, it is just way too extreme for me! What kind of foodie life will it be without real butter, dairy, and all the fatty accoutrements of good eats??

However…

ZOMG there it is, the vegan s’mores cupcake. And it is delicious, WTF. So moist! So creamy! And totally dairy free! HOW DO THEY DO IT?? I really don’t know, but I have to say I’ve found one of my favorite cupcake makers in the city, and it is Sticky Fingers Bakery in Columbia Heights. Mmmm….

Need to try their other flavors too. ♥

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