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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Red Hook Lobster Pound

The Red Hook lobster truck has been around for a while by now, but I did have occasion to try them a few months back. I took an hour out of my lunch break to wait in line on a cold winter’s day in a queue that went down the length of a city block. What was I thinking? But I suppose that the blogger part of me felt somewhat obligated to give it a go! By the time I got to the front of the line, I ordered practically everything on the menu, just because I doubted I’d be back again very soon. I got one Maine style lobster roll ($15), New England clam chowder ($7), apple cider ($3) and a whoopie pie ($3.50). The service was really nice, and I think they appreciated that you’d waited in line for so long.

I think I made a mistake when I ordered the Maine style. Actually, I didn’t even know there were two different kinds of lobster rolls, which was an oversight on my part. I don’t remember if they asked me what kind I wanted, because I would’ve asked them what the difference was and would probably have ordered the other kind had I known. Anyway, the Maine style is served cold, with mayo. The Connecticut style is warm, with butter. Clearly the Connecticut style sounds superior! I was expecting it to be warm, so was very disappointed when I bit into the cold lobster meat. I think the flavors are more robust when they’re warmed up. The bread was nice and buttery though, so that was good.

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Easter

Happy May Day everybody! I’m veering off my slowly trickling Hawaii posts to write about last week’s tour de force of culinary mastery known as the Easter Pot-luck Dinner of Epicness. Hosted by my friends who also brought you their Christmas Dinner (where, if you recall, we couldn’t congratulate ourselves enough for a job well done), the event was filled to the brim with so much food and fabulosity that the guests hardly knew what to do with it all. And to make matters even more intense, we had a rowdy game of Taboo afterward that I don’t think I’ve recovered from yet. (Ever notice that when you’re playing this game, your voice keeps rising and rising until you realize you’re screaming at the top of your lungs? I think somehow this contributes to the effectiveness of your strategy, because everyone gets so crazed that they shout back anything, everything that comes to mind, and ONE of those things has to be the right answer!!)

Pictured above is the ham, which our lovely hostess made using Alton Brown’s City Ham recipe. Alton is always a good bet, and it certainly was the case here. The ham actually came out quite late in the evening, but I still scarfed down a few succulent slices despite the fact that I’d already eaten enough food for 3 people. The crust was wondrous and crispy, and the meat perfectly cooked.

The rest:

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Panya

After dinner, we headed into Waikiki to meet up with my friend B, who – quite coincidentally – happened to be vacationing in Honolulu at the same time as myself! o(^__^)o We met up at the Panya in the Royal Hawaiian Center. This Panya is a relatively new branch and is small – it’s just bakery items and coffee. The Panya branch in Ala Moana is more like a restaurant. (I had lunch there on my last day, which I’ll be posting about later).

[I have to say, it makes me LOL a little that some websites are even worse than I am re: updating. The Panya website’s monthly feature is catering for Thanksgiving! Ahahaha. XD]

I got the bread pudding (pictured above). It wasn’t so bad, but it was a bit dense and a little cold to boot, which made it difficult to enjoy. It came with a lovely creamy sauce, which I made the mistake of pouring all over the pudding. The sauce flooded over the tiny container and onto the table, making a big mess of things. I ended up taking most of it home. I warmed it up the next day, and it was much, much better. Bread pudding should always be served warm, in my view! It had soaked up all the sweet sauce from the night before, and the heating managed to soften up the pudding and bring out its flavors.

There was also tiramisu:

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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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19 Oct 2010, 8:00am
cafes dessert:
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Point Chaud

I dropped in to Point Chaud Café & Crêpes (website under construction) on 14th Street a few weeks ago. Places like this make me wonder why there aren’t more crêperies in this area! The crêpe is the perfect café food. It’s fast, it’s sweet, it’s savory…and it can be eaten on the go or savored slowly over a hot cup of your favorite beverage.

The menu at Point Chaud is just a long list of suggested combinations. Customers are welcome to pick and choose whatever ingredients they want. I would take forever if left to my devices, so on my visit here, I went ahead and picked something straight off the menu – the honey and almond powder crêpe.

It was absolutely lovely. The crêpe was airy and light, the honey was just sweet enough, and bits of crushed almonds added a nice bite. I had a frothy cup of cappuccino with it. My only wish is that there was more, but the “to stay” portion of cappuccino only came in one size.

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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31 Mar 2010, 6:00am
japanese snacks:
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Raisin Pie

I love flaky desserts, and this Raisin Pie is just the sort that I want to have for a light snack with a cup of tea. Though now that I’m staring at the name of this thing, it’s making me crave my childhood favorite Little Debbie snack, the raisin creme pies. (*___*)

This raisin pie is much more airy and not too sweet. I think it goes perfectly with a hot cup of sweetened milk tea.

Close up under the cut:

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Crepes on the Walk

Crepes on the Walk is a cute little crepes stand by the Verizon Center (which I still call the MCI Center sometimes), and it’s part of the Crepes a Go Go family of creperies. Their website has mysteriously disappeared, so I can’t link you, but hopefully they’re still around?

I imagine that this stand gets a lot of business because of its prime location, and also because crepes are the ideal sort of streetfood. Sweet or savory, whatever suits your fancy, they’ve got it. It comes folded up and tucked neatly inside a paper cone for easy handling. X) They have a nice menu of items, but of course, you can select your own combination of ingredients as you like, which is nice…if a little daunting. (You can check out their menu over on The Thrillist).

I popped over to pick up a crepe (or two) during my lunch hour a little while ago:

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The Secret Garden

I know the Olympics are over, but I still wanted to finish out the last of my Vancouver posts! My friend and I really wanted to do an afternoon tea, so after hunting around for a suitable place, we finally settled on The Secret Garden Tea Company, a quaint and lovely little tea shop and cafe. I really loved this place. A tea doesn’t have to be fancy and expensive to be enjoyable, and this was certainly an affordable yet high quality option that I would go back for in a heartbeat.

They offer a number of different kinds of tea courses: high tea, sharing high tea, demi high tea, and mini high tea. I believe the full-on high tea was only served during certain hours, and since we came after those hours, we opted for the “demi” high tea. This course was like a scaled down version of the high tea, featuring all three of the traditional tea courses: scones, sandwiches, and dessert, in addition to a pot of tea per person.

Pictured above is one of the desserts, a flaky pastry of some kind. It’s been a while, so I don’t recall the specifics, but it was very good, whatever it was. XD;

A few more pics:

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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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Cacao

There’s a lovely pastry and chocolate shop in Bethesda called Cacao, which I discovered a few winters ago during the Christmas season. I usually get pastries when I stop in there, so this would mark the first time I’d tried their truffles and macaroons.

Aren’t the macaroons cute? X) I could’ve selected the flavors myself, but they had such a variety of them, I just asked them to mix them all up for me. I liked them! Very nice and light on the outside, and creamy and smooth on the inside. There was one particular one I enjoyed, which had a slightly floral taste.

Chocolates & pastries under the cut:

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Beard Papa’s

beard papa

Later in the afternoon on Sunday, I met up with another friend for tea and dessert at the Beard Papa. They specialize in chou à la crème…cream puffs! In Japanese, it’s pronounced “shoo cream,” which always puzzled me when I was growing up. (Shoe polish??)

Beard Papa has locations in Hawaii, California and New York (among others). I first visited the one New York a few years ago, upon the recommendation of a friend who grew up in Hawaii. I loved the green tea flavored one, so was hoping to have the same one in San Francisco…

Unfortunately, they weren’t offering that flavor on that Sunday, so I ended up getting the coffee flavor instead. I paired it with a piping hot cup of green tea. It was very light and creamy, not too sweet. ♥ I think it could be a little smaller, though I could fault my enormous brunch for my inability to finish my mid afternoon cream puff. =)

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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