Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

On Apples in Dumplings – Dutch Eating Place

June 29, 2013
Dutch Eating Place, Philadelphia PA
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Hot Apple Dumpling served w/ Cream
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ImageInitially featured on The Food Network, the Hot Apple Dumpling served w/ Cream was a must-try at the Dutch Eating Place in the Reading Terminal Market. It was clearly their most popular dish, with rows upon rows of piping hot dumplings lined up by the glass on the countertop. 

The pastry dough was chewy but nicely layered. The cinnamon and sugar taste was not overwhelming either. I did love that syrup mixed with the full apple in the center, though. The apple was a surprise to me especially since it was a full apple and quite big. It was soft and chewy but had a sweet tartness. The cream cut through the tartness but I did not need much of it. It was just a super delicious dessert!

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Steeply Priced but Similar – Einstein Bros Bagels

April 7, 2013
Einstein Bros Bagels, Philadelphia PA
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Spinach, Mushroom & Swiss Egg Sandwich
Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
Snickerdoodle Cookie
~

ImageFinally, I got a chance to try Einstein Bros Bagels. It is unfortunate that they do not take coupons I get through their email subscription since they are a special store operating inside the school.Image

The Spinach, Mushroom & Swiss Egg Sandwich was so good. I got it on a Green Chili Bagel that had a little kick, which I really liked. The egg and vegetables were more like an omelette, with the spinach and mushroom all mixed in with the fluffy eggs. There was a lot of liquid coming from it that soaked into the bagel, making it even better.Image

The Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, perfect for National Coffee Cake Day, was sweet and delicious. It was moist yet dense, and was not too sweet. The chocolate chips were plenty and added a nice textural crunch. I liked the crumble topping as well.Image

The Snickerdoodle Cookie was also very good, quite soft and sweet with cinnamon sugar. I liked the texture, not too hard but stiff enough to keep its shape. It was slightly dry but you want that for a snickerdoodle. 

Overall, I think Einstein Bros Bagels is definitely overpriced. You can get almost the same thing – a little simpler but still similar – at food trucks or Dunkin’. It is not even necessarily more convenient so I don’t think I’ll be returning anytime soon. 

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Cafe at its Best – Panera Bread

March 30, 2013
Panera Bread, New York NY
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Mediterranean Egg White on Ciabatta Signature Breakfast Sandwich
Easter Egg Cookie
Cobblestone
Peach Pecan Crunch Muffin
Bear Claw
~

ImageJust like Au Bon Pain, I love the atmosphere at Panera Bread. Freshly baked pastries and goodies, made-to-order sandwiches with fresh ingredients, and a warm, cozy feel in a very relaxing cafe atmosphere. Whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I would always be happy eating here.

The Mediterranean Egg White on Ciabatta Signature Breakfast Sandwich was good, with lots of egg whites, spinach, flavourful roasted tomatoes, Vermont white cheddar, and basil pesto on a toasty ciabatta bun. Despite the quality, this was overpriced. The sandwich was too small for almost $5. Image

The Easter Egg Cookie was very generic but also very pretty with its colourful sugar icing and chocolate candies. The shortbread cookie itself was crumbly and buttery. This was one celebratory cookie!Image

The Cobblestone is a pastry made with cinnamon raisin dough, apples, streusel, and icing drizzle. It was such a splendid treat. I love raisins, apples, and spices together. Add to that streusel and icing and voila, the perfect, tastiest treat you can find. The dough could have been a little more moist but apart from that, it was delicious.Image

The Peach Pecan Crunch Muffin was okay. The muffin was not too sweet and was moist and dense. I liked the large pieces of peach inside, making it juicier. I wished there were pecans inside as well as on top, though.Image

The Bear Claw had that artificial almond taste but it was not overwhelming to the point that it becomes revolting. The pastry was flaky and the almond slices on top were nice. There could have been more filling so that you get it in every bite.

I wish there was a Panera on campus or even in center city. It is on the more expensive side but sometimes, the atmosphere, quality, and just overall feel of the place is worth it. 

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Specials, Specials, Specials – Dunkin’ Donuts

ImageMarch 13, 2013
Dunkin’ Donuts, Philadelphia PA
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Irish Creme Iced Coffee
Irish Creme Donut
Angus Steak & Egg Breakfast Sandwich
Angus Steak & Egg Wake-up Wrap
Big n’ Toasted
Hash Browns

Lucky Mint Donut
Cinnamon Cake Donut
Apple Cheese Danish
Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookie
Chocolate Chip Muffin
Corn Muffin
Caramel Latte Lite
~

ImageWith a bunch of coupons in my possession, St. Patrick’s Day promotions, and featured steak menu items, I basically had a day of just Dunkin’ Donuts food. Well, it was nice to share sweets with a friend, but still, the sandwiches were filling. However, I love breakfast all day long so it was no problem. Image

The Irish Creme Iced Coffee, which I had with some skim milk, was creamy and sweet. I loved the traditional Irish creme flavour that was quite prominent, especially near the bottom of the cup. Image

The Irish Creme Donut was filled with a flavoured cream that was just as sweet and just as good. It looked very plain and unappetizing though so I think a warmer brown or a different colour altogether would have been nice. Image

The Angus Steak & Egg Breakfast Sandwich that I got on a plain bagel – just like their advertisements – was just okay. The bagel was nicely toasted and I liked the simple cheese and freshly fried egg. However, the steak was a little dry. Image

The Angus Steak & Egg Wake-up Wrap was the same, with a good toasty tortilla, gooey melted  cheese, half an egg patty, and dry steak. I really wanted some juicy meat so this was disappointing. 

The Big n’ Toasted was pretty good. The toast was nicely browned and thick enough. I liked the egg and cheese combination with the bacon. The bacon could have been a little crispier, I thought, and it was not as big as I had expected it to be, especially since the bread got moist again after being in the bag. Image

The Hash Browns were actually not bad, just too greasy. They were just the right size and crispy on the outside while the inside was mushy. It had decent seasoning, too. Image

The Lucky Mint Donut was certainly prettier than the Irish Creme one despite having the same, delicious filling. It was green and thus perfect for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.Image

The Cinnamon Cake Donut was a little dry and a little bland on the inside. However, I did like the sweet cinnamon sugar, though it was messy to eat. 

The Apple Cheese Danish was nice and flaky, with some chew and density to the pastry. I liked the apple filling but could have used more sweet cream cheese inside to amp up the sweetness of the glaze and icing drizzle a bit.Image

The Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookie was not that good. I prefer an ooey, gooey, and very soft cookie but this was only slightly soft and moist in the center. The edges were a little crunchy hard for me although the different kinds of chocolate was nice. Image

ImageThe Chocolate Chip Muffin had a lot of chocolate chips inside but the batter was a little dry, especially on the edge. I did like the sugar topping on top though to give it more sweetness.Image

The Corn Muffin was like a cornbread and moist and crumbly at the same time. It was not overly sweet but you can definitely get that corn aroma coming through.

Finally, the Caramel Latte Lite had a faint but nice caramel flavour. It was a decent latte that I probably would not have gotten had it been for the coupon. I just do not think their espresso is as good as those at other places.Image

There are so many more options to choose from at the store in 30th Street Station. The one on campus is just a little limited. Both seem rather clean and accommodating though. So many coupons that it was all for great value. 

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On the Need for Paninis: Part XV – Milk & Honey Market

February 23, 2013
Milk & Honey Market, Philadelphia PA
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Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookie
Bourbon Pecan Bar
Banana Bread
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ImageThe Milk & Honey Market is a good walk off campus, but it was National Banana Bread Day so I decided to check them out. The store was small and sold various, good quality cheeses, deli meats, and other gourmet foods. I love the atmosphere of a quaint little neighborhood store and also decided to have dinner there.

The Caprese Panini had very fresh Claudio’s mozzarella. It was light, slightly chewy, and very good with the tomatoes. However, I found this panini to be lacking in basil pesto. It was very fresh, house-made pesto, but there was not enough of the oily aroma.Image

The German Chocolate Cake looked scrumptious and tasted even better. The chocolate cake was moist yet dense, and not too sweet. I loved the frosting, though, which had syrup, I think, pecans, and shredded coconut. That part was certainly very sweet and sticky – I absolutely loved it.

ImageThe Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookie was a little dry and crunchy. I prefer soft, chewy cookies. However, it was sweet and did not lack any flavours of a regular cookie. It was not very buttery or oily, which I did appreciate.Image

The Bourbon Pecan Bar was also delicious. I could not taste much bourbon but the pecans in the sticky, syrup-based bar was crunchy and sweet. The crust on the bottom was buttery and not sweet, so the bar was still acceptable for most people. I loved the sweetness a lot and am sure the bourbon helped with that.Image

Finally, the Banana Bread had good flavour and was not overly oily or sweet. However, it was a little dry, especially the sides and the bottom. I did like the crunch of the walnuts inside.

The Milk & Honey Market offered so many small treats that all looked incredible. Their prices are decent so I am sure I will be back soon to try some cookie sandwiches, smoothies, and other delicious goods in this neighborhood gem.

Milk & Honey Market on Urbanspoon

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Sweets in the Hub – HubBub Coffee

February 12, 2013
HubBub Coffee, Philadelphia PA
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Cinnamon Roll
Pain au Chocolat
~

ImageI went to a presentation by a Penn alum who is the founder of the HubBub Coffee truck on campus. It was very interesting to hear about the business, and to enjoy some of the treats that they get regularly from Au Fournil.

The Cinnamon Roll was absolutely scrumptious and probably would have been even more amazing if it was toasted. The roll itself was soft and full of swirled cinnamon and sugar. The icing was also great. It was a very sweet but satisfying cinnamon roll, and huge as well. This will make anyone happy in the morning with a coffee.Image

The Pain au Chocolat was a bit disappointing. The pastry dough was flaky and soft, a little moist and doughy, the way I like it. However, the chocolate inside was cold and frozen, almost hard. There was also very little of it. This pastry definitely needed to be toasted and more chocolate would have been good.Image

These pastries from Au Fournil can also be found in Capogiro and I would think a few other places as well. They were very fresh so despite HubBub not making it themselves, these would be fine to go along with the coffee that they sell.

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My Oh My, Morocco! – Marrakesh

February 2, 2013
Marrakesh, Philadelphia PA
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The Three-Salad Platter
The B’stella
Spicy Chicken with Cumin Sauce
Tajine of Lamb with Almonds and Honey
Marinated Berber Beef Shish Kebab
Couscous Grand Atlas Topped with Vegetables, Chick Peas and Raisins
Basket of Fresh Fruits
Moroccan Pastries
~

ImageAfter hearing about the exotic experience at the popular Marrakesh, I was so excited to go there with our dance team. It was cold and snowing, but we stood outside the door for over thirty minutes since our party was huge and they needed time to clear out two rooms for us. The traditional Moroccan restaurant was quite obscured, and you had to knock on the door for them to let you in. Inside, it was very crowded and decorated in a Moroccan style. I loved the atmosphere, with everyone sitting down on couches around a stainless steel plate-like table. The server brought out rosewater for us to wash our hands. There were no eating utensils. The bread that was passed around in a huge basket was used as the vessel for eating all the food. For $25, $30 after tax and tips, we enjoyed a seven-course meal and were so stuffed. I loved the entire experience of the most traditional, family-style Moroccan food.

The first course was The Three-Salad Platter, which included zaalouk (cooked eggplants in tomato sauce), oasis carrots with cucumber, and cucumber and bell peppers in Mediterranean seasoning. The cucumber and peppers salad was refreshing and tasted similar to a Greek salad. The carrots were like that of a carrot salad in Mediterranean cuisine, with the carrots flavourful and slightly mushy. My favourite was by far the large chunks of mushy eggplant. Each piece was literally a quarter of a medium-sized eggplant, so tangy, so sweet, and absolutely delicious!Image

Up next was The B’stella, or rather a pastilla, which was a layered pie made from phyllo pastry, stuffed with chicken, eggs, assorted nuts, almonds, parsley, and onions and topped with confection sugar and cinnamon. Never have I tried chicken with eggs, cinnamon, sugar, and nuts, all in the same bite. I do not regret it, as it was amazing. It was freshly out of the oven and piping hot we had to wait a while before digging in, and digging in we did. The dough was flaky, thin, and crisp. The top was sweet and spiced with cinnamon but the center was savoury and bouncy from all the eggs. The chicken did not have much flavour but made the filling a bit more substantial. I did not taste much of the nuts but the overall flavour was multi-layered. Savoury and sweet, flaky and bouncy, it was a gorgeous pie.Image

For the third course, which was also the first main course, our table unanimously chose the Spicy Chicken in Cumin Sauce. According to their online menu, there are three versions of non-spicy chicken, but we were only offered the choice of spicy or non-spicy. The cumin sauce was incredibly red and hot. It was not like chili pepper hot but rather spices hot. However, when eaten with the chicken and bread, it was certainly more than bearable. The chicken was quite tough and dry on the inside and rather bland. Only the parts near the surface were juicy and tender, soaking up the flavour of the sauce. The skin was quite thick and fatty, relatively unappealing. If it were not for the sauce, this would not have been good.Image

Since we had so many people, we were able to get two different choices for our second main course. The first was the Tajine of Lamb with Almonds and Honey. Again, we were not offered the other preparation for the lamb with onions and chick peas. The lamb was delicious, though. It was moist, succulent, and cooked to tender perfection. The honey gave it a slightly sweet undertone. The almonds did not add much to the dish for me, but each large bite of lamb was absolutely phenomenal.Image

The most disappointing course of the evening was the Marinated Berber Beef Shish Kebab. The peppers and onions were nicely grilled with a char on them. The large cubes of beef, however, were extremely tough and very dry. They had some spices on the exterior but the inside was bland and sinewy. It was not just I could not chew through it, but I could barely bite into the meat, it was that tough.Image

The last main course – I know, there was so much food, but bear with me! – was Couscous Grand Atlas Topped with Vegetables, Chick Peas and Raisins. The couscous was nothing special. It also had shredded chicken that was slightly dry and bland. While I did not like the potatoes, I did like the soft sweet potato, chick peas, and plump, juicy raisins. The dish lacked moisture and did not shine compared to some of the other dishes.Image

Next, they served us a Basket of Fresh Fruits. This was actually quite refreshing and pleasant. Oranges, apples, strawberries, bananas, and large red grapes were a nice touch. However, I was disappointed we never got the hot mint tea that everyone was raving about online. I was rather looking forward to that.Image

Finally, just as we were about to leave, they served a plate of Moroccan Pastries, or rather the most delicious baklava. It arrived late because they ran out and had to make a new batch. These just came out of the oven and were warm and dripping with overly sweet syrup. I could eat the sweetest things, so it was no problem. More than one or two would have made anyone go on a sugar high, though. A bit more chopped nuts would have been nice to contrast the stickiness and the flaky phyllo dough. As over the top as these were, they were certainly addicting.Image

The belly dancer that came by was very entertaining, and being a dance team, we had a lot of fun with the three moves she taught us. It was a most enjoyable evening, being a BYO and all. I just wish the restaurant was better lit so we could see the food clearer. Apart from that and the tight squeeze around the table, it was a great night spent with fellow team members – a fine Moroccan experience!

Marrakesh on Urbanspoon

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Très Amusant – Lacroix at The Rittenhouse

February 1, 2013
Lacroix at The Rittenhouse, Philadelphia PA
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[Bread Basket]
Mixed Green Salad
Fennel Soup
Scallop
Tagliatelle
Trio of Petits Desserts
[Candied Orange Peel, Craisins, Almonds]
~

ImageCasey and I love Restaurant Week, $20 lunches, and French cuisine. That’s how we ended up, on this sunny but incredibly chilly day, at Lacroix at The Rittenhouse. We were seated promptly in comfortable chairs, overlooking a barren Rittenhouse Square. The atmosphere was so light and uplifting that we knew we were in for a luxurious, casual, and exquisite experience. That is exactly what we got.

Our server brought out a Bread Basket with French baguette, sesame flatbread crisps, and butter. The baguette was crusty on the outside but warm and soft on the inside so that the butter melted into the bread. I loved the sesame crisps. They had cumin and other spices as well as toasted white and black sesame seed. It had such a lovely flavour and was so crispy.Image

For my first course, I got the Mixed Green Salad with dressing on the side. It was just spring mix with a sherry balsamic vinaigrette that was acidic and slightly sweet. I loved that vinaigrette. It may be simple, but they also put in finely minced scallions and red onions that were so fine you could not really see them but most certainly could taste the flavour.Image

I tried some of Casey’s Fennel Soup with black olives and mango. That was just superb, so creamy, rich, yet light and refreshing. The fennel flavour was lovely and heightened by the little bit of black olives. The mango gave it a very slight tartness. This was certainly an excellent way to start the meal.

ImageFor my entrée, I chose the Scallop, which were pan seared and came in a broth with white beans and diced chorizo. A slice of toasted baguette with mustard spread was such a smart way to soak up the remaining broth. The scallops had a great sear and were so tender and succulent. They were certainly the stars of the entire meal. The chorizo and white beans made the broth incredibly hearty and rich. The few leaves of arugula cut through this richness with its bitterness, which I loved.

ImageCasey’s entrée of Tagliatelle was also excellent. The tagliatelle was clearly freshly made, cooked perfectly al dente. It also soaked up the broth, which was hearty and flavourful. The black trumpet mushrooms were so good, picking up all the flavours in the broth as well. Finally, the coddled egg on top was a great addition in my opinion. I love a barely done egg.Image

The dessert was a Trio of Petits Desserts, including a cinnamon profiterole, a banana chocolate mousse cake, and a lemon meringue tart. The cinnamon profiterole changed my mind about cream puffs. Okay, so I am still not in love with puff pastry, but the cinnamon cream inside was out of this world. It was slightly spiced, slightly sweetened, creamy, yet very airy and light. The banana chocolate mousse cake was like banana bread in mousse form. The banana flavour was great and the mousse was light with great texture. I enjoyed the thin layer of banana cake on the bottom as well. The lemon meringue tart was decent but nothing amazing. The meringue was light and the lemon custard very tart. The tart crust was firm and crumbly. Overall, none of the desserts were overly sweet, all making this a light, delicious ending to a lovely meal.

ImageAs we got our check, we were presented with a small dish of Candied Orange Peel, Craisins, and Sugar Coated Almonds. These were lovely to munch on as they processed our credit cards and we figured out tips. There were a little too much powdered sugar on the almonds but we both loved the candied orange peels. They were sweet, tangy, and just a tad bit bitter.

I was impressed with the presentation and flavours. It is not surprising the portions were incredibly small, but every bite that we had were wonderful. Lacroix is perhaps out of my price range on a regular basis but that just gives me more motivation to go during Restaurant Week. 

 

Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel on Urbanspoon

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YO YO YO, HO HO HO – Kiwi Yogurt

December 18, 2012
Kiwi Yogurt, Philadelphia PA
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Apple Cinnamon Crisp (Apple Pie, Homemade Cinnamon Graham w/ Cinnamon Streusel)
Milk and Cookies (Pure Vanilla, Cookies & Cream w/ Oreos, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough)
~

Image

Just before leaving campus, I dropped by Kiwi Yogurt to get their deal of buying a $20 gift card and getting an extra $5 in gift cards. They have so many promotions all the time and I also always check in on Facebook to receive a free ounce of froyo.

Their Apple Cinnamon Crisp is a seasonal Kiwi Kreation featuring the limited time Apple Pie and Homemade Cinnamon Graham frozen yogurt, topped with Cinnamon Streusel. The two yogurt flavours were blended by the machine and was really hard to tell them apart, especially when eating the streusel topping along with them. They blended together very harmoniously. It was warming yet cold, interesting yet comforting – a perfect reminder of the holidays.Image

Santa loves milk and cookies so this was perfect for the festive season as well. The Milk ‘n Cookies is one of the regular Kiwi Kreations and I had to get the Pure Vanilla and Cookies & Cream yogurts separately. This one was topped with Oreos and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. The texture was already extremely creamy. The two flavour just added to the richness and creaminess. The Oreos were crunchy, giving the dessert another texture, as did the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough that were dense and very chewy.

If you know what you want in terms of yogurt and toppings, it is easy to find the right choices. However, if you are a little clueless or want to have everything in the bowl go together harmoniously, following a Kiwi Kreation would be a good decision.

Kiwi Yogurt on Urbanspoon

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Ribs That Shake and Melt – McDonald’s

ImageDecember 16, 2012
McDonald’s, Philadelphia PA
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Egg Nog Shake
McRib
Cinnamon Melts
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The local McDonald’s started to offer the long-awaited McRib at least two days earlier than the planned December 17. That was a rather nice weekend surprise. Despite previous bad experiences with the quality of assembling sandwiches, this visit was not horrible in comparison.

I had the limited-time Egg Nog Shake to start, perfect for National Egg Nog Month. I think the lady forgot the maraschino cherry on top but I never liked those anyways. The eggnog flavour was quite prominent in contrast to the vanilla soft serve ice cream. Although most would probably find this too much of a sugar overload, I loved it, even though I did not finish the whole thing. The sweetness of the milkshake went nicely with the spice of the eggnog, bringing back memories from elementary when I first tried eggnog.

ImageThe McRib sandwich was nicely assembled and delicious. The barbeque sauce was smoky with a slight tang and decently sweetened. It was not a heavy sauce and coated the very tender pork nicely. The pork was so tender it almost did not taste like pork. The onions added a refreshing, spicy kick but I found the pickles to be a little overwhelming, the flavour strong compared to the barbeque sauce. The bun was nicely toasted and overall was a delicious sandwich for McDonald’s standards. Too bad it only comes around once a year.Image

For dessert, I had Cinnamon Melts, which I have not had for a long, long time. It was warm and soft, with the dough drizzled in the warm, gooey cinnamon sugar mixture and melted icing. It was sweet on spice on sweet and I loved every bite.

McDonald’s seriously needs new items more often, as they add such variety to the menu, making it ever so interesting. I am curious as to what the spring will bring. Having missed the Shamrock Shake last year, I am definitely getting my hands on a cup this coming March.

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