Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Bacon and Bagels – Dunkin’ Donuts

February 9, 2013
Dunkin’ Donuts, Philadelphia PA
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Glazed Donut
Vanilla Frosted Donut
Old Fashioned Cake Donut 
Marble Frosted Donut
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwich
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The morning of the conference that we had been planning for the past half a year, we had to be there early. So, the club president bought everyone lots of donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts. At least we did not have to wake up early and starve.Image

The Glazed Donut was simple yet good. The doughnut was soft and moist, with the glaze very sugary and sweet. This will never be the best doughnut ever but it will always be one of those that you can depend on.Image

The Vanilla Frosted Donut was also very generic. The vanilla frosting was sweet and sugary. I loved the crunch the sprinkles provided. The yeast doughnut was airy and light.

The Old Fashioned Cake Donut was rather disappointing. I remember this doughnut from my childhood and Tim Hortons that it was a very dense cake-based doughnut with a lot of spices and cinnamon. The flavour was a little faint and the doughnut was on the dry side. Perhaps I should go back to Superstore or Tim Hortons.Image

I went out and bought myself the Marble Frosted Donut. The yeast-based doughnut was light and soft, very puffy. The frosting on top looked really cool but tasted very generic. It was simply white icing with a chocolate icing drizzle. Both were sweet and the chocolate icing provided a light cocoa flavour.Image

Finally, because it was National Bagel Day, I just had to get a bagel – on a breakfast sandwich. The Bacon, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwich could have been served on anything but was pictured on a bagel, so that was what I got. Instead of plain, though, I got an Everything Bagel. I loved all the sesame and poppy seeds, garlic, onion, and oats. They added a nice crunch and aroma. The bacon was crispy, the egg omelet very yellow but airy, and the cheese generic and nicely melted. It was a good sandwich for fast food standards.

ImageFor reliable, cheap, and quick breakfast, Dunkin’ Donuts is definitely one of the best options around. However, I still wish they had Tim Hortons here, just because it feels so much more home-y. 

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Chubby Portobello – Così

February 4, 2013
Così, Philadelphia PA
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T.B.M. Squagel
Così Break Bar
Stuffed Portobello Bowl
Lobster Sandwich
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffin
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ImageCosì will now be my go-to place when I want a fast but quality breakfast sandwich. Oh, and keep in mind, they also serve great, fresh sandwiches, grain bowls, soups, and dessert bars. The atmosphere at 10 a.m. was so relaxing, quiet, but still upscale and not like a quirky neighborhood café.Image

I ordered a T.B.M. Squagel on the new Sun-dried Tomato and Parmesan Squagel. Silly me forgot to ask for egg whites, so on my square bagel – thus squagel – I got lots of fluffy regular scrambled eggs. They were really good and hot. The tomato did not have too much of the tangy goodness of ripe tomatoes but they are not in season anyways. The mozzarella was light and fresh and while the Così dressing was not very distinctive, the fresh basil leaves were. The sun-dried tomato on the squagel was kind of dry and crumbly but went well with the hardened Parmesan shreds.Image

The Così Break Bar was also quite delicious. It was a mix of pumpkin seeds, pistachios, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds bound together with a sweet, syrup or honey-like concoction that has hardened. It was hearty, full of quality ingredients, but also really crunchy and hard. While it was very sweet, you could still taste the individual flavours of the various components.Image

It was National Stuffed Mushroom Day so I went with one of their new entrée items, the Stuffed Portobello Bowl. It consisted of a large roasted Portobello mushroom with a slice of fresh mozzarella, something similar to a sweet tomato chutney, and some chopped basil leaves. On the bottom was a bed of different grains and roasted vegetables that included squash, zucchini, red bell peppers, and cauliflower. I loved the mushroom but it, along with the vegetables, were too greasy for me. Vegetables do not need that much oil when being roasted. This oil also drizzled down to the grains, coating them in a layer of grease. The tomato topping was delicious with the mozzarella and basil, though.Image

Another limited-time item was the Lobster Sandwich. This was just a premade lobster salad that had large pieces of tender and sweet claw meat with crunchy, refreshing diced celery. I found the shredded romaine bland, though, and did not add much texture either. It was very creamy so the celery was certainly appreciated. While it was fresh, the herbs in the lobster salad were not prominent. The flatbread was very chewy, which I really liked.Image

For dessert, I had a Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffin. This was one of the best double chocolate muffins I have had. It was dense, moist, rich, and sweet, despite the cocoa flavour not being too strong. It had less of the bitter dark chocolate flavour that I am not a huge fan of.

I will give them credit for setting up a rewards system that is based on the type and number of items purchased, unlike how Starbucks does theirs by the number of transactions. Così’s way makes so much more sense.

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Absolutely Bagelicious – Absolute Bagels

ImageDecember 1, 2012
Absolute Bagels, New York NY
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Bacon & Eggs on Cinnamon Raisin Bagel
Bagel Pudding
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A very early start and being extremely sleep deprived called for an extra special breakfast to get the energy I needed for a whole day of dance competition. Luckily, Absolute Bagels was on the way to the venue and apparently, is a local favourite.Image

The Bacon & Eggs on Cinnamon Raisin Bagel was delicious. It was a great blend of sweet and savoury. The bacon was crisp and the egg omelet was soft and flavourful, not bland at all. Put all of this goodness on a toasted bagel with cinnamon and raisins and there you have it, a perfect breakfast sandwich.Image

They also make their own special Bagel Pudding, a twist on the good old bread pudding. It is very firm, dense, and quite sweet. Studded with juicy raisins, you can tell where pieces of pumpernickel bagel were. It was slightly greasy but overall a very tasty treat.

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On the Need for Paninis: Part IX – Au Bon Pain

ImageNovember 24, 2012
Au Bon Pain, Philadelphia PA
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Egg Whites & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich
Chocolate & Creme Torsade
Holiday Linzer Cookie
English Toffee Cookie
Caprese Sandwich
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I was not the only disappointed student to discover the news that the Au Bon Pain on campus would close at the end of last school year. Fortunately, there is another one at 30th Street Station, only a short walk away. When the weather is nice, a brisk jog is quite lovely.

The Egg Whites & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich was slightly disappointing. The bagel was fine, chewy and dense. However, I would have liked a thicker egg omelette, even though it was light and fluffy. The cheddar was slightly too bland. I like a good sharp cheddar and flavourful cheeses in general.Image

The Chocolate & Creme Torsade was fine. The pastry was multilayered and very flaky. The sticky glaze on top added to the sweetness. The chocolate was decent, though I could have used more chocolate. I was never a fan of layered pastry dough but this was decent enough. Image

In celebration of the holidays, I tried the Holiday Linzer Cookie. The shortbread cookie was buttery, crumbly, and very good. The raspberry filling was sweet and tart. It was a nice small bite, and visually appealing.Image

The English Toffee Cookie was exceptionally good. The edges were a little crunchy while the middle was soft and chewy. I love toffee and it is rare to find a toffee cookie. The sweet and sticky toffee went well with the sweet cookie dough. I love this idea.Image

Finally, I ordered a Caprese Sandwich. The ingredients were fresh and generous. I loved the pesto and mozzarella. It was very flavourful and the cheese had a great texture and light taste. The tomato and arugula added a nice touch. However, I was not very pleased with the ciabatta bun. It was fresh but cold and a little tough.Image

Au Bon Pain is slightly overpriced, especially considering it is somewhat of a fast food/cafe type of restaurant. The food is fresh and I cannot wait to try one of their various soups.

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A Plain Jane’s Breakfast – Tim Hortons

ImageAugust 22, 2012
Tim Hortons, Burnaby BC
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Plain Bagel
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Apparently, plain just plainly means really… well… plain. I was surprised to find that Tim Hortons’ Plain Bagel, while slightly sweet, was not as sweet as the bagels with sesame seeds and the other standard toppings. I would imagine that with nothing on top, the bagel would have a more distinct flavour. The texture was good: chewy, slightly tough, and quite dense. This is one of the main reasons I love bagels – my jaws get a workout from all the chewing! A little more sweetness would have been nice. If I had an option, I would not choose this bagel over the other varieties, but it was not exactly bad.

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Cheesy Yet Sweet – Tim Hortons

ImageAugust 20, 2012
Tim Hortons, Burnaby BC
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Cheddar Cheese Bagel
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Tim Hortons’ Cheddar Cheese Bagel may look appetizing but I found it rather plain. The problem was that the savoury cheddar cheese did not go well with the slightly sweet dough. The textures were nice; the cheese was melted and hardened, adding to the chewy and dense bagel. Once you started chewing, the wholething became softer and softer. However, I just did not like the quite savoury cheese with the sweet dough. The two did not come together harmoniously. For a cheddar bagel, I think a neutral dough would have been better. 
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A Bite of Bagels – Tim Hortons

ImageAugust 17, 2012
Tim Hortons, Burnaby BC
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Everything Bagel
Blueberry Bagel
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More and more I have come to realize how incredibly ordinary eating a bagel in the morning really is. It is so simple, yet the simplicity is what makes is so amusing and satisfying. Big bites of dense, chewy dough, usually with a sweet flavour of some sort or slightly savoury, paves the way for a calm and relaxed morning.

Tim Hortons’ Everything Bagel certainly did that for me. Its sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and onion bits added a blend of savoury aroma to the semi-sweet and extremely chewy bagel base. Every bite was a workout for my jaws, and I very much loved that. The crunchy texture also made it slightly more complex.Image

The Blueberry Bagel, on the other hand, was simpler and with only blueberries blended into the bagel dough. The bagel was still only semi-sweet, but the aromatic blueberries, with some artificial flavouring in there I am sure, made it sweeter. I certainly did not mind, as it was more of a fruity sweetness rather than just sugary. Blueberries are still very much in season and it was a shame these were not made from fresh, local berries. However, the artificial flavour was still enjoyable.

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Mix and Match Madness – 大统华面包坊-T&T Bakery

ImageAugust 9, 2012
大统华面包坊 – T&T Bakery, Richmond BC
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火腿蛋包 (Ham & Egg Bun)
蓝莓贝果-大 (Jumbo Blueberry Bagel)
葱花肉松包 (Dried Pork & Green Onion Bun)
玉米火腿包 (Corn & Ham Bun)
肉松包 (Dried Pork Bun)

乳酪火腿包 (Ham & Cheddar Cheese Bun)
欧式小蓝莓包 (European Bun with Dried Blueberries)
欧式香橙面包 (European Orange Bun)
迷你台式菠萝面包 (Mini Taiwanese Polo Bun)

韩式红豆炸包 (Red Bean Donut)
韩式鲜奶油炸画卷 (Cream Twisted Donut)
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Mom and I absolutely love these late night treasure hunts when we go to T&T Bakery and pick up a bag or two of the mix-and-match, prepackaged buns at discounted prices. When most of the seven buns in a bag happen to be one of our favourites or something we wanted to try, we would be delighted – and excited. Most days, we have a hard time deciding on just one bag so we end up getting a lot more than we went to buy. On this particular night, although not many bags were left, each had quite a few of what we wanted.Image

The 火腿蛋包 (Ham & Egg Bun) was just okay. It consisted of soft and chewy bread that was just moist and sticky enough for me to appreciate it. Inside were a layer of omelet and a slice of savoury ham, as well as mayonnaise. While the ham had decent flavour and was tender yet chewy, the egg omelet and mayonnaise were bland. The omelet could have been thicker to make the bubbly texture more distinct and the mayonnaise just did not have any tang or sweet flavours and was barely creamy. The quality of the bread saved this bun from being a complete disaster and at least the egg was decent.Image

The 蓝莓贝果-大 (Jumbo Blueberry Bagel) was actually just a normal-sized one. I think the name comes from the fact that they also sell mini bagels. It was chewy, dense, and yet not stale, just like the texture of a normal but good bagel. I enjoyed the sweet blueberries embedded in it, although I do wish the pieces were bigger with more in the bagel so that it provided a stronger, more distinctive blueberry aroma. This seems a bit sweeter, however, than a generic blueberry bagel. Perhaps that is the slight Asian twist, but it is totally fine by me.Image

The 葱花肉松包 (Dried Pork & Green Onion Bun) is by far one of my favourites of all the Asian buns. It is simple and inexpensive; there is nothing creative or extraordinary about it. However, I just love the sweet and savoury blend of green onions and dried pork that is made moist because of the onions. The two are perfectly paired, resulting in a soggy, salty, slightly sweetened blob on top of the bun. What I like about T&T Bakery’s version is that the layer of dried pork fluff and green onion mixture on top is very thick, making each bite of the bun very tasty. There is no shortage of ingredients, and the bread itself is slightly sweet, soft, and slightly moist. I would have preferred stickier and chewier bread, but this was not over-baked. Altogether, it was very tasty.

ImageThe 玉米火腿包 (Corn & Ham Bun) used to be better. The bread was moist and sticky, with a good chewiness and sweetness to it. However, the corn was not the juicy type; instead, it was sticky and hard to bite, with hardly any sweetness to it at all. The ham was nice and savoury but the pieces were scarce. The mayonnaise was also very bland except for some creaminess. This bun is supposed to be sweet with the bread and corn and slightly tangy with the mayonnaise; however, this version was certainly lacking in flavour.

ImageThe 肉松包 (Dried Pork Bun) was by far the most disappointing of the bunch. Considering how it is regularly priced at $1.39 and thus not the cheapest, I expected more than just the little bit of sweet butter-like sauce inside and on top with a thin layer of dried pork fluff. The bread was rather dry for this particular bun and not exactly sweet. I would have wanted more dried pork fluff and more of the buttery goodness of the sauce on top and inside. The idea was good but for the price, I expected the flavour to be fuller.

ImageThe 乳酪火腿包 (Ham & Cheddar Cheese Bun) was another one of my favourites. The bun was soft, moist, and chewy, but most importantly, it was sweeter than usual. I loved the sweet bread that tasted light and refreshing. It had a thin layer of melted and hardened cheese on top, sprinkled with parsley. Inside was a large, thick layer of cheddar cheese and ham pieces. The cheese was hardened but the texture was very chewy, like that of a good quality cheese. It was very orange in colour and also quite savoury and cheesy. The ham added to the saltiness. The cheese was certainly the highlight, though, and it did not taste like regular processed cheese. Perhaps it was not gourmet, but still, it was very good and chewy. With the pairing of the sweet bread and the cheese, it was another wonderfully delicious mix of sweet and savoury.Image

The 欧式小蓝莓包 (European Bun with Dried Blueberries) was a whole grain – or at least multigrain – bun with flour dusted on top, just like an artisan roll in a European bakery. Inside was plenty of plump but very sweet blueberries. They were chewy and moist, retaining some of the juiciness of the berries. Obviously, they were soaked in sugar and incredibly sweet, but I loved them exactly for that reason. It was like finding little jewels inside every bite. The bread was also the European type, chewy and soft but not as insubstantial as Chinese buns can sometimes get.ImageImage

The 欧式香橙面包 (European Orange Bun) was similar, except with pieces of orange peel. They were not as bitter as I imagined, so the entire bun turned out better than I expected. However, I am still not convinced of the pairing with non-white bread with orange and nothing else. I would imagine another berry or fruit would be needed to offset the tangy bitterness. There were plenty of orange bits scattered throughout but the bun was still on the bland side.ImageImage

The 迷你台式菠萝面包 (Mini Taiwanese Polo Bun) was also very disappointing. Three of these usually sell for $1.99, which is totally not worth it. The concept is simple: a sugary ‘pineapple’ coating that is not very sweet surrounds a soft and incredibly fluffy bun. These are less sweet and crumbly than the Hong Kong-style ones, seeming more like a covering layer rather than a crumble topping. I like my pineapple toppings to be sweeter and thicker so these were not my favourite to begin with. Cute as they are, the bread was incredibly dry, and seemed slightly stale. Okay, maybe not stale, but still, they did not taste fresh and were clearly left in the oven a tad too long.Image

The 韩式红豆炸包 (Red Bean Donut) was very oily; the oil was literally seeping out of the dough, which was completely soaked in it. I wonder how they actually fried this treat. Apart from the oiliness, the dough was soft, chewy, and stretchy, which made the texture very good. Inside was filled with a smooth and velvety red bean paste. It was sweet but still light rather than cloying. With a little less oil, this would have been a very good, though filling, dessert after any meal.ImageImage

The 韩式鲜奶油炸画卷 (Cream Twisted Donut) was also quite oily, but it did have a layer of the cream coating. It looked crumbly but was moist from the oil. The donut itself, a Korean-styled one, was soft and chewy, pulling apart in strands. Although somewhat insubstantial since the dough puffs up quite a bit when deep-fried, the oil and cream makes it very filling. I also think that the cream coating can be made sweeter while still maintaining the creaminess.Image

Despite the many posts I have had on T&T Bakery’s small buns, there are still so many that I have not tried. It never ceases to amaze me just how much variety the little corner in this large Asian supermarket carries. The array of choices can sometimes be too overwhelming, which means these packaged, discounted bags are a great way to sample a bit of everything while not having a hard time deciding which ones to get.

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Sundried, Cheesy, Delicious – Tim Hortons

ImageAugust 3, 2012
Tim Hortons, Burnaby BC
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Sundried Tomato Asiago Parm Bagel

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Tim Hortons delivers yet again. I love cheese and sundried tomatoes so this  was definitely for me. The cheese on top was melted and hardened, easily peeled off. It had quite a strong processed cheese flavour, which I thought was rather nice. The sundried tomatoes really shined through though, with their distinct, tomato aroma. The bits throughout added a nice, bitty texture, providing a nice contrast to the soft yet dense and very chewy bagel dough. The bagel had a slightly sweet dough that went well with the savoury cheese. Each bite was chewy and delicious, giving my jaws the workout they crave while satisfying my palate in the late morning.

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Slightly Sweetened with Sesame Seeds – Tim Hortons

ImageJuly 30, 2012
Tim Hortons, Burnaby BC
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Sesame Seed Bagel
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There is something simple but nice about the traditional types of bagels, including the Sesame Bagel from Tim Hortons. Just a regular bagel with sesame seeds on top, the texture and taste were both right now. It was dense, chewy, but not hard. The flavour was light and doughy, with a hint of sweetness and of course, the aroma from the sesame seeds. Honestly, sometimes the plain flavours are better than the fancy ones. I really enjoyed the simplicity and slight sweetness; it makes for a comforting staple good for anytime of the day.

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