Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

On the Need for Paninis: Part V – Capogiro

ImageOctober 22, 2012
Capogiro, Philadelphia PA
Mozzarella & Roasted Red Tomato Panini

Red Lentil Soup
Jamaican Coffee Gelato
Zucca Gelato
Sweet Potato Pecan Praline Gelato

I needed to go grocery shopping so I checked out Capogiro beforehand. This time, it was early in the day, so they were well stocked on their paninis. The servers are very friendly and I really enjoyed just sitting and chilling in the quaint and brightly lit little café.Image

The Mozzarella & Roasted Red Tomato Panini was absolutely amazing. The ciabatta roll was toasted to perfection, crispy on the outside and slightly soggy from the basil pesto and cheese on the inside. The roasted red tomatoes were absolutely wonderful, very acidic and chewy but not too overwhelming either. The basil pesto was very fresh and still had distinct traces of basil. There was quite a lot of it and made the panini very flavorful. Finally, the star was certainly the gooey and stringy mozzarella. There was a lot of the fresh, light cheese and I loved pulling out the strands until my arm cannot extend any longer and I have to use my tongue to draw the cheese into my mouth. I could have used more tomatoes with the amount of bread, cheese, and pesto there was, but it was still a gorgeous panini.Image

The Red Lentil Soup was decent but not outstanding. The lentils were pureed so finely I could not even tell it was a lentil soup, only some sort of grain grounded and made into a soup. The flavor was light but still nicely seasoned. It was not watered down and very warming. However, for $4, it was such a small portion! The chunk of bread was very tough and hard to bite into, almost a bit stale. It was nice for dipping though.

Finally, I could not go to Capogiro without getting gelato. The Jamaican Coffee Gelato had a very strong coffee bean flavor and was hardly sweet at all. It was creamy but not too rich and overall a very light gelato. The Zucca Gelato (pumpkin) was a bit bland for me but had a decent pumpkin flavor. Again, it was not very sweet. My favorite was the Sweet Potato Pecan Praline Gelato. This one was sweet enough for me, especially the pecan praline swirls. The swirls had a slightly rough texture from the grounded nuts and overall, was nutty, sweet, and creamy – one of my favorite frozen desserts ever!Image

Despite the high prices, I could see why Capogiro is appealing to students, especially those that do not mind too much about money when it comes to delicious food. Everything I tried was made from high quality ingredients and definitely made with care. Add to that the ambiance of the café and you have got one attractive place for students to grab a bite to eat and study.

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The Korean Kick – Koreana

ImageOctober 21, 2012
Koreana, Philadelphia PA
Mol Mandu

Deok Boki

I had a $10 voucher for LivingSocial about to expire so I decided it was the perfect time to use it at Koreana. My plan was to eat in but the guy in charge, I think he was either the manager or the owner, did not pay enough attention and so they made it as a take-out order. On a Sunday night, the little hole in the wall was so crowded I was quite surprised to get my food within ten minutes.

To start, the Mol Mandu were just okay. They were boiled a little too long that the dumpling wrappers were already very mushy. I think they were supposed to be vegetarian but I definitely tasted some ground pork mixed in with the vermicelli rice noodles and cabbage among other vegetables. It was quite bland and oddly wrapped, unlike traditional dumplings. The sweetened soy sauce for dipping was generic but good.Image

The Deok Boki was a dish of rice cake with cabbage, processed fish slices, and vermicelli noodles in a sweet and spicy sauce. I loved the sauce. It was amazingly sweet with a very strong spicy kick. Not watered down, it was so bold and flavorful – just splendid. The cabbage and vermicelli were nice additions to the dish in my opinion. The cabbage was still somewhat hard and crunchy while the vermicelli was stretchy with good texture. The processed fish was just the generic Asian fish ball-type of food but sliced up and pan-fried before added to the dish. It was bouncy and soft. The rice cakes were sticky and slightly undercooked. Perhaps a little too undercooked in some cases, as it was kind of hard like it gets when it is frozen. I hate mushy rice cake so I would rather have it a little harder but I would have liked it if tasted more like the fresh ‘hard’.

A little pricey, the flavors at Koreana definitely make up for the value. Everything before the discount online came to $11.88, which is certainly not cheap for such small portions. However, it is hard to find something so comforting and more authentic than what you get from food trucks. 

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Pumpkins and Breakfast – Starbucks

ImageOctober 21, 2012
Starbucks, Philadelphia PA
Spinach, Egg White & Feta Breakfast Wrap

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Pumpkin Scone
Pumpkin Bread

It was the last day of Starbucks’ breakfast sandwich promotion – each only $2 with the purchase of a handcrafted beverage. Naturally, I had to go and try at least one item, and so I did after going to the gym.

The Spinach, Egg White & Feta Breakfast Wrap was extremely tasty. Toasty warm, it had egg whites and a blend of spinach, feta, and bell peppers wrapped inside a soft tortilla. The egg white omelet was quite large and soft. The spinach and peppers were nice although the feta was a little too salty for me. There was just slightly too much in some of the bites. Overall, it was a tasty breakfast option, and a healthy one, too!

The Pumpkin Spice Latte was one of my favorites when I was taking college courses during grade 12. I had a coffee every single class because the extra two hours after a full day in high school always made me doze off in class unless I had caffeine in me. This particular cup was nicely made, sweet and spiced. The whip cream is needed to add that extra richness, especially since I get it with skim milk. However, just a little bit is good. I love the pumpkin spice in the creamy coffee.Image

The Pumpkin Scone was also delicious. The hardened icing on top was very sweet, which is why I loved it. The scone itself was soft and dense and just moist enough for a scone. It was quite crumbly and slightly more like a cake than some of the scones I have had at other places. I like the texture, though, since I like cakes more than I like pastries and breads. The scone was actually not very sweet but instead had the lovely pumpkin spice.

The Pumpkin Bread also had that lovely spice, but it was a lot sweeter than the scone. I did not mind at all, though. It was moist and very tasty. The pumpkin seeds on the top added a nice crunch. I am always amused at how Starbucks manages to keep its cakes and breads so moist, and I certainly appreciate it.Image

All the pumpkin choices at Starbucks, including the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin I had before, certainly signify the autumn season. The pumpkin spice definitely makes the cafés cozy and comfortable. With a cup of warm coffee in mind and peaceful music playing softly in the background, it is easy to imagine that the world is problem-free. 

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Fried ‘Healthy’ Veggies – Hummus Grill

ImageOctober 20, 2012
Hummus Grill, Philadelphia PA
Fried Cauliflower

Tomato Lentil Soup
Falafel Platter

I was extremely hungry and Capogiro was out of mozzarella paninis. Luckily, you cannot walk more than a couple of steps without finding food in this area. Mediterranean food sounded gorgeous to my growling stomach so I decided Hummus Grill was perfect.

The new appetizer of Fried Cauliflower was delicious. It was very oily and I would have loved it even more had it not been dripping with oil. However, the tahini made it extremely delicious and the fresh parsley gave it a great aroma. The cauliflower was soft and the carrot was still just the slightest bit crunchy. The whole bowl of it became a little too much oil for me, but the first few bites were great.Image

The Tomato Lentil Soup was also a special and so huge! It came in one of the large plastic bowls that they usually serve the sandwiches in. It was quite rich and had the nice acidity from the tomatoes. The lentils were cooked thoroughly and the soup was nicely spiced and seasoned. It was not too thick but not watered down either.

The Falafel Platter was also great. The falafel were fried but the inside, a mix of fava beans and chickpeas I assumed, were green but very tasty and nicely seasoned. The outside was super crunchy and the inside had a rough but nice texture. The rice went nicely with it, as did the hummus. The hummus was actually very tasty, not overly oily but very flavorful that it could be eaten alone, with pita, or rice. I also got the fried eggplant and cucumber and tomato salad as my sides. The fried eggplant was too oily but nicely flavored. The cucumber and tomato were tossed with a lemon dressing and very refreshing. The Whole Wheat Pita that came along with the platter was also great – soft, chewy, and warm.Image

Although slightly on the pricier side compared to other choices on campus, I love Hummus Grill. Their food is great and very tasty. The ingredients are of high quality and each item is carefully made and assembled. The servers are friendly and the atmosphere is very comforting; overall, it is a great place to hang with friends for dinner any day of the week. Image

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Prickly in Maryland – Cactus Taverna

ImageOctober 19, 2012
Cactus Taverna, Salisbury MD
[Chips and Salsa]

Mariscos Saltados
Fried Ice Cream

When horse shows are far from school, we stay overnight at a hotel. After over two hours in the car, four of us were ready for some comfort food. In such a small suburban town, we were lucky to find a decent Mexican restaurant.

Complimentary Chips and Salsa are always great. In this case, however, Cactus Taverna gave us semi-warm chips, not ones fresh out of the fryer. They were crunchy but not exactly warm, and seem more like toasted tortilla chips from the grocery store. The salsa was quite watery and very salty. There were also lots of scallions inside, which gave it a strong kick. There was not enough acidity from the tomatoes and aroma from the cilantro.Image

My Mariscos Saltados was excellent, though. The large prawns and scallops were extremely tender. There were so many of them, too – a lot more than I expected for around $16. They were nicely sautéed in a tasty, savory sauce with large chunks of tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and fries. The menu said potatoes, but I guess they ran out or something, because there were crinkle cut fries, those frozen ones from grocery stores that comes in a bag. I left those alone as they were soggy and not my favorite to begin with. I did enjoy all the vegetables and seafood, though. The refried beans were not very mushy but the rice was decent enough.

ImageFinally, our coach ordered Fried Ice Cream for everyone to share. It was good, creamy, and dense ice cream, rich with vanilla flavor. The batter was not very thick and slightly soggy after being drenched in caramel and chocolate sauce. The mix of sweet flavors, though, was addicting and absolutely delicious.

The restaurant was quite cute, actually, and the servers were all extremely friendly – one of the benefits of a small town. It was quite large and the menu was extensive. Its Mexican/Spanish food is actually quite popular, more so apparently than its pastas and other Mediterranean dishes. For such a place, it is definitely a great place for a ladies’ night out.

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A Tart and Sweet Autumn – Sugar Philly

ImageOctober 19, 2012
Sugar Philly, Philadelphia PA
Caramel Apple French Macaron

I was in a huge rush but somehow, even after forgetting my wallet the first time, still managed to sneak in a bite of the new Caramel Apple French Macaron from Sugar Philly. The coming Sunday is National Caramel Apple Day, so I guess I am just celebrating it two days in advance. The shell was delicate and sweet but slightly hollowed-out, collapsing in on itself just a bit. The filling was thick and gooey caramel and a spiced apple puree filling. The two together was autumn heaven. I loved the sticky and very sweet caramel and the tart apple flavor just popped in my mouth. This little red treat was just divine. 

Sugar Philly Truck on Urbanspoon

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On the Need for Paninis: Part IV – Artisserie Chocolate Café

ImageOctober 18, 2012
Artisserie Chocolate Café, Philadelphia PA
Grilled Vegetables Panini

Red Velvet Cupcake
Carrot Cupcake
Strawberry Cupcake
Chocolate Cupcake

To celebrate National Chocolate Cupcake Day, as well as National Dessert Month, I decided to have a late lunch and also bring home a bunch of cupcakes from Artisserie Chocolate Café. It is the only gourmet bakery and chocolatier on campus besides Metropolitan Bakery, but it is so much more convenient. Thus, I am not surprised to always find it at least with a few customers.Image

The Grilled Vegetables Panini sounded delicious, and for only $4.95, I was excited. However, it was quite disappointing. The vegetables were good, especially the whole Portobello mushroom, which was flavorful, juicy, and quite savory. The yellow squash slices were slightly undercooked but the zucchini and red bell peppers were decent. What I was not happy with was that they heated up the ciabatta bun in the microwave first with a slice of provolone cheese on it. Clearly, they did not even have the patience to wait for it to heat up in the panini press. Once the bread was hot, it was assembled with the vegetables and put in the press for about a minute. It came out with not much of a panini press mark and the bread was hot but soggy and wimpy. The outside was supposed to be crispy and the inside soft but dry. Instead, it was almost floppy, which is just unacceptable. Also, there was alfalfa sprouts in the description but none on my plate.Image

The Red Velvet Cupcake was delicious, though. Despite being kept in the fridge, the cake was soft and moist while the cream cheese frosting was sweet. It was just slightly too greasy for me, though, so more cheese and less butter would have been appreciated. The cake itself was hardly sweet so that could have been sweeter as well.

The Carrot Cupcake was also very moist, with grated carrots, finely chopped walnuts, and raisins scattered throughout. The carrots really made the cake moist and the touch of cinnamon was lovely. The cream cheese frosting was again sweet enough but less butter would have been nice. I really appreciated the walnuts on the icing, which added a lovely crunch.Image

The Strawberry Cupcake had a very unique frosting. It was mostly an artificial strawberry flavor with sugar and a little butter. I found it interesting and not overly-sweetened; instead, it was light and refreshing. The vanilla cake had great flavor and not too sweet either, but it was a little dry and clearly not freshly baked.Image

Finally, the Chocolate Cupcake, decorated to celebrate Halloween, was supposed to be the star of the show. After all, it was National Chocolate Cupcake Day. However, it was the most disappointing. The chocolate frosting was not very sweet and slightly greasy. I could have used more frosting rather than so much cake as well. The cake was the most dry out of the four. It was crumbly and hardened on the side. The flavor was mediocre and for $2.50, it was decent but definitely not great.Image

I think Artisserie Chocolate Café definitely has potential. Their food would be so much better if they were made fresher. I am sure the ingredients are of high quality, but because they are over-priced, not enough customers come to require freshly made cupcakes and sandwiches everyday. Their desserts all look amazing but I would not be happy to spend $5 on a small slice of artfully decorated cake that has been sitting there for three days. 

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Warm and Chocolate-y – Insomnia Cookies

ImageOctober 17, 2012
Insomnia Cookies, Philadelphia PA
White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie
M & M Cookie

I was lucky enough to get to an event on time and get to try two of my favorite cookies from Insomnia Cookies. They just happened to be two of three that I did not get at the beginning of the school year, but now I am happy. Also, this was perfect timing, as October is National Cookie Month!

The White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie was great because of the many gooey white chocolate chips that were in it. I was disappointed to find that there were barely any macadamia nuts in it, and what was there was just finely chopped up nuts rather than whole of halved nuts. Additionally, there was some shredded coconut mixed into the dough. While the flavor was not overwhelming, I did not think the cookie needed it. To me, the flavors just clashed a little. It was baked nicely, though, and most of the cookie was soft and chewy.Image

The M & M Cookie was great with plenty of M&M’s embedded throughout the cookie. They were baked to perfection, with the dough soft and the chocolate inside all melted and gooey. The dough could have been sweeter, though, just so that the bites without much chocolate would also taste quite sweet. I just like my cookies to be as sweet as possible.

Insomnia Cookies are definitely not just for insomnia issues. They are tasty whenever and to have one on campus has seriously saved loads of students from annoying, pursuing headaches. 

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On the Need for Paninis: Part III – Gia Pronto

ImageOctober 16, 2012
Gia Pronto, Philadelphia PA
Panino Gia Pronto

Despite eating gourmet sandwiches for lunch already, I needed a gourmet, toasted Panini, so I headed off to Gia Pronto. It was one of the few restaurants on campus that I have not tried and it looked promising with students lining up for food. All their paninis are pre-assembled and put on display. When you order, they will put it in the Panini press and actually toast it properly.Image

My Panino Gia Pronto was absolutely wonderful. It was on an herbed ciabatta roll, which was perfectly toasted with the outside crispy and the inside slightly soggy from the moisture of the vegetables but soft and chewy. The thick mozzarella slices were very stringy and had that wonderfully light cheese flavor. The tomato did not stand out, but the chopped Portobello mushrooms were amazing. They were finely grilled, flavorful, and had a good, bouncy and chewy texture. I am loving fungi flavors more and more. The entire panini was just lovely, definitely one of the best ones I have ever had and worth every penny. 

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On the Need for Paninis: Part II – Di Bruno Bros.

ImageOctober 16, 2012
Di Bruno Bros., Philadelphia PA
Pronto Chicken Classic Sandwich

Mamma Mia Classic Sandwich
Caprese Classic Sandwich
Steakhouse Beef & Bleu Classic Sandwich
Green Initiative Classic Sandwich

Special events are great when it comes to offering catered food. Special events planned with funding from large associations are even better, and thus, I got the chance to try various sandwiches from Di Bruno Bros. I was overjoyed to see so many varieties of gourmet sandwiches, so here is my second post on the recently developed love for these bread, meat, cheese, and vegetable combinations. There is something to be said when people order way too much food that they ask everyone who shows up to please take more after they have had their fill.Image

I started with a Pronto Chicken Classic Sandwich. The processed, sliced chicken breast meat was quite dry and bland. I would rather have a large grilled chicken breast that is tender and juicy. This was easy to eat but just dry. The fresh mozzarella and basil pesto were delicious, though. The roasted red bell peppers on top were also great. They were wilted and had that lovely sweet aroma.

The Mamma Mia Classic Sandwich was decent. The prosciutto was a bit too salty but the texture was great. The mozzarella was fresh and fabulous, as well as the basil pesto. I have never had so many sandwiches that had mozzarella and basil pesto paired with such a large variety of meats. This was just like a Caprese with extra prosciutto, which I think detracted from the light mozzarella.Image

The Caprese Classic Sandwich was delightful. Although the fresh mozzarella slices were slightly too thin for my liking, they were chewy with that light flavor. The tomatoes were nothing special but the large basil leaves brought a really strong basil scent and taste to the sandwich. The pesto was amazing as well, soaking up nicely into the herbed focaccia, which was perfectly chewy and soft. I love focaccia, and most artisan bread for that matter, as long as the texture is good.Image

The Steakhouse Beef & Bleu Classic Sandwich was certainly not my favorite, but that is just because I do not like sliced beef. Real steaks are so much better. All this slicing just detracts from the juiciness of the meat. It was very salty and the bleu cheese spread did not help. However, I did like the cheese. The flavor was strong but good. The arugula did not do much, nor did the roasted tomato slices. They were both bland and did not stand out at all. The artisan roll it came on was quite hard on the outside and tasted just a tad bit stale.

Finally, the Green Initiative Classic Sandwich had artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, roasted tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and a goat cheese spread. The artisan roll was again very tough on the outside but at least it was artisan bread. The artichoke hearts were a bit too sour for me and very monotone but not in a good way. The tomatoes were quite sour as well, but the flavor was more sophisticated. The goat cheese was very strong and dominated in flavor. It clashed with the artichokes and tomatoes in my opinion.Image

Overall, I think for a catered meal of gourmet sandwiches, Di Bruno Bros. did an excellent job. The salads and sides that were also served were fresh and delightful. They had so many varieties of sandwiches and I had such a hard time picking out even quite a few. I think they would have been so much better toasted but I am not complaining.

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