99% Food, 1% Skin

Category archives: Coffee, Tea and Dessert

L.A. Food Finds Part I

Los Angeles, a foodie paradise with diverse offerings — from delicious food trucks, to farmers’ markets, to elegant Michelin-starred restaurants, options are endless.

Unlike Washington, with L.A. situated in the warm area of the country, farmers markets are opened all-year round.

My top 2 locations to visit was the Grand Central Market and The Original Farmers Market, and I was surprised to see that both locations did not have as many fresh produce and meat vendors as I thought, but with lots of food vendors.

At Grand Central Market, Eggslut and McConnell’s Ice Cream were the local recommendations.

It was no joke that Eggslut was popular.

We found the line went around Eggslut’s store parameter.

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back side of the line

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front of the store, which was the end of the line

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Basho Cafe

Basho Cafe was the best find in my last trip to Vancouver!

Away from the hustle and bustle of Vancouver downtown, Basho is located in east Vancouver.

The wood decor gave an old style, rustic comfort, reminiscent of Kyoto’s sweets shop, and homeliness of a family run business.

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Basho roasts their own coffee, and definitely serves one of the best coffee around.

We had mocha and it was absolutely smooth, roasty and delicious.

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Drinking Chocolate Versus

Part two of the chocolate hunting week is about drinking chocolate.

First of all, what is drinking chocolate?

Drinking chocolate, as popularised in Spain, called Chocolate Caliente, usually has molten chocolate and milk, mixed with starch, creating this really thick, silky chocolate concoction.

In general the ones in the States are made with molten chocolate and milk and or cream, without starch; unlike a hot chocolate that is usually thinner, with higher milk to chocolate ratio.

I love Fran’s drinking chocolate, which is available only in the flagship Georgetown store and at the University Village Mall.

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It is very creamy, fairly dark with milk, a hint of the astringency and bitterness at the end; very velvety, and absolutely made me want to curl by the fire with it.

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Chocolate Hunting in Seattle

I often wonder, how did Valentine’s Day became synonymous to chocolate giving?

Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine, whom apparently had no connection whatsoever with romance.

As history evolved, people started celebrating Valentine’s Day romantically dating back to the 1300s, gifting roses, songs. cards and gifts.

So happened, in 1800s, the Cadbury family (yes! that British chocolate company Cadbury) made eating chocolate available to the market in beautifully decorated boxes; notably in creating the infamous heart-shaped boxes.

From then on, chocolate and Valentine’s Day have been linked ever since.

Seattle is the coffee capital of the U.S., with our homegrown coffee giant Starbucks, to the many coffee houses in our neighborhoods, that title is well-earned.

We may not be known as the chocolate capital, but we do have some darn good chocolate places to offer.

On top of my list is Fran’s.

A traditional chocolatier who has been around for over 30 years in Seattle, Fran’s remains small with just about four stores in town, and with many of the local grocery retailers carrying their products.

It was said that when President Obama came to visit in Seattle, he had simply fell in love with Fran’s, and could not get enough of them.

My favorite chocolate in Fran’s is the truffle chocolate-filled figs.

One whole fig, with its inside hollowed, fruit mixed with chocolate truffle and stuffed back in the dried fig skin, sealed at the bottom with a light dip of chocolate.

It is one of the funniest chocolate eating experience; very dense, and it certainly requires multiple attempt to finish.

Soft to cut once the knife went through the chewier fig skin outer layer; when you bit into it, it had all these crunchy bits from the seeds, giving both texture and fruit sweetness, along with the smooth chocolate.

Of course, Fran’s truffles are all superb with a crunchy outer layer, and smooth and creamy centre; highest praise to their pure dark chocolate and earl grey truffle.

Their sea salt caramel is ultra delicious as well even though I am not normally a caramel fan.

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Cold Sweet Treats Around Town

Long time ago when I lived in Wisconsin, I took on the habit of eating mid westerners’ favorite — frozen custard, with 6-ft of snow outside.

When there was heat in the establishment or in the car, there really was no reason why frozen treats could not be enjoyed during winter days.

My favorite is Michael’s Frozen Custard.

They are so good that I thought about mail-ordering them after I moved out here, but the shipping charges is a little crazy to justify.

Weather is certainly turning cold here in the Northwest, but if cold weather did not deter me from good eats then, it will not bother me now!

My number one ice cream place of late is Parfait, but I am always open for trying new things!

One good find is Kurt’s Farm shop.

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