Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Corn and Crabs – The Crab Pot

June 30, 2013
The Crab Pot, Bellevue WA
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Sourdough Loaf & Butter
Dungeness Crab Cocktail
The Westport Seafeast
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ImageCraving fresh seafood after being in Philly for so long, we went to Bellevue’s The Crab Pot to avoid the crowds in Seattle downtown but to have the same fun with our food.

First up was the Sourdough Loaf & Butter – boy, that was some sour sourdough. The butter was okay. The bread was very hard to bite on the outside, very airy but tough.Image

We had a voucher for a free appetizer and since they are known for their crab, we went with the Dungeness Crab Cocktail with some cold crab meat that was sweet and succulent. The cocktail sauce had a nice tang and was not watered down much. The celery added a nice refreshing crunch.

ImageFinally, we went at our two portions of The Westport Seafeast with our hands. Mallets? No thanks! My teeth will do just fine! The snow crabs were a little fishy but still good and the dungeness crab was also delicious. I loved the little mussels and clams as well. The shrimp were a little overcooked but at least the seasoning was good. The sausage was a little odd but had nice flavour and the potatoes a little plain but still decent. The corn, though, was absolutely scrumptious. Somehow, the seasoning made it creamier and sweeter and juicier – it was some of the best corn on the cob ever! Corn and crabs made me very happy that sunny afternoon.

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The Must-eat Mushroom Ravioli – Olive Garden

June 15, 2013
Olive Garden, Philadelphia PA
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[Breadsticks]
Garden-Fresh Salad
Ravioli di Portobello
Seafood Brodetto
Lasagna Primavera with Grilled Chicken
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ImageA friend from China was in town with two other of her friends so a group of us headed to Olive Garden since Philly Chinese food was just not going to cut it and the Japanese restaurant we wanted to eat at was closed during lunch hours. I always had a little something for Olive Garden as it was the first place I tried a mushroom ravioli after reading Twilight. That was way back when in Florida, too. Image

To start, there were of course the unlimited [Breadsticks]. They were incredibly soft, airy, and warm, with just the right amount of butter on top to give it a slight flavour.

The Garden-Fresh Salad, which we asked to have dressing on the side, was quite fresh. I did not like the olives or the hot peppers but everything else was simple and refreshing.Image

Then, onto what I was craving: Ravioli di Portobello. The light cream sauce is slightly sweet from the sun-dried tomato sauce but with a hint of the smoky cheese. The portobello raviolis were cooked to the perfect texture, al dente and not soggy after being in the sauce for a little while. This is as light a plate as any cream-based pasta can get.Image

The Seafood Brodetto was also quite delicious. It was loaded with shrimp, scallops, tilapia, mushrooms, and spinach and had a light white wine and marinara-saffron broth. The bowl was hearty and comforting but light and flavourful. The garlic ciabatta bread that came with it was perfect for dipping and we even had some breadsticks left to soak up all that yummy broth.Image

I also had a bit of the Lasagna Primavera with Grilled Chicken, with zucchini, squash, and bell peppers in a tomato-basil broth with parmesan drizzle. This was another very light pasta dish. The vegetables really brought out that freshness. The chicken was a little bland so you really had to eat it with everything else together, especially the sauce and cheese.

The service we received was great and we all had a nice time chatting even after we were pretty much finished with our food. This may not be top-notch, fine Italian dining, but for the price, it was a great meal with friends.

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Hail The Queen of Hearts – Sabrina’s Café

March 24, 2013
Sabrina’s Café, Philadelphia PA
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The Queen’s ‘Paint the Roses Red’ Stuffed French Toast
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ImageI cannot believe after almost two years here in Philly that I have yet to have brunch at the ever-so-popular Sabrina’s Café. Well, I finally got to try their famous challah stuffed French toast. Oh, and it was Alice in Wonderland week!

I got The Queen’s ‘Paint the Roses Red’ Stuffed French Toast, and yes, it was pretty in red. Inside the thick, soft challah French toast – which had a nice exterior might I add – were sweet cream cheese, Irish cream caramelized apples, raisins, coconut, double fudge chocolate pieces, and mint preserves, all topped with a berry-orange syrup. The sweet cream cheese was so scrumptious with the French toast. The apples added a nice tang while the raisins added another layer or sweetness. I saw the chocolate pieces but the flavour did not stand out. I could not even taste the mint and coconut, which were even fainter than the chocolate. It was just a whole plate of sweetness! The berry-orange syrup was tangy and sweet, though, so it made it not an overwhelming sugar overload. It was tangy, sweet, and very red, with just the right thickness to be soaked up by the French toast. I loved the fresh strawberries and blueberries a lot, wishing there were more to make it more refreshing rather than a very dense breakfast.

Looking at the weekly specials and the whole menu, I can easily come here every week. But that would just be sugar overload to the extreme, I guess.

Sabrina's Cafe @ Powelton on Urbanspoon

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Bunnies on a Cake – 圣安娜饼屋-Saint Honore Pastries

ImageMarch 23, 2013
圣安娜饼屋 – Saint Honore Pastries, Philadelphia PA
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豆沙包 (Red Bean Bun)
叉烧包 (Roasted Pork Bun)

兔仔蛋糕 (Rabbit Cake)
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Being in Chinatown, I was craving some traditional buns and Asian cakes. Nothing too sweet, too salty, but a nice blend of the two. I had never been to Saint Honore so I thought, why not give it a try. It did have many enticing cakes on display.Image

First, the 豆沙包 (Red Bean Bun) had the sweet ‘pineapple’ crust on top. The crust was not as sweet as I would like but it as crumbly and the bun was rather airy and soft. The texture was moist and a little chewy so that was good. The red bean or azuki bean paste inside was not very sweet so if you do not like the really sweet paste, this is for you.Image

The 叉烧包 (Roasted Pork Bun) was a little different than usual. The bun was good but inside was not your chopped roasted BBQ pork. It was small square slices. The BBQ taste was light but you could really taste the pork in this case.Image

The 兔仔蛋糕 (Rabbit Cake) looked better than it tasted. It was just so cute! The cake was airy and soft, not sweet, just like your average Asian cake. The cream was decent and again, not very sweet.Image

Going into a Chinese bakery, you know you do not have to worry about that extra sugar and overdose as much as if you were going into a western bakery and cafe. Things are just light here. 

 

 

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St. Patty on the Street – Street Food Philly

March 14, 2013
Street Food Philly, Philadelphia PA
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St. Pat Burger Special
Guiness Beef Stew
Guiness Budino
Salted Fudge Brownie
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It was National Potato Chip Day so what better way than to celebrate with a serving of freshly sliced and fried real potato chips. They are way better than the things that come in bags. Honestly. Street Food Philly was also serving up a variety of St. Patrick’s Day specials so let’s start with that.

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The St. Pat Burger Special included a juicy beef patty with Guiness glaze, beer onion rings, mustard cabbage, and cheese on a soft and toasted burger bun. It was so juicy and so flavourful with the glaze an the mustard seeds. The cabbage added a great crunch and the onion rings’ sweetness helped cut into the savoury and spicy kick. The chips that came along were crispy, not too oily, and very thing.Image

The Guinness Beef Stew had extremely tender cubes of beef. There was a bit too much potatoes and not enough carrots and onions. It was a little greasy on the top but the flavour was outstanding and incredibly rich and comforting. The Irish soda bread was very crispy and light, soaking up the stew nicely.

ImageThe Guinness Budino had the sweetest, smoothest, and tastiest Guinness custard. I could not taste much of the Guiness but the custard was great, as was the salted caramel, caramel whip cream, and the crushed animal crackers and the chocolate graham at the bottom. It was a light but sweet dessert.Image

Finally, being awesome, they gave me a Salted Fudge Brownie. It was dense, rich, and chewy. A little greasy on the fingers but the flavours were spot on.

Street Food Philly is not cheap – the three items costed me $20. However, the quality of the food really does justify the prices. Each portion is individually prepared and cooked to order. This is nothing like fast food out of a truck, that’s for sure!

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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]
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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. 

 

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By the Italian Coast – Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti

January 27, 2013
Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti, Philadelphia PA
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[Appetizer Bread]
Focaccia Calda
Cioppino
Paccheri Bolognese
A Sampler of Homemade Desserts (Frangelico Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Cheesecake)
~

13-01-27 - Appetizer Bread - Positano Coast by Aldo LambertiFinally, Philadelphia Restaurant Week is here again! Wanting to try out more than just one restaurant this time, I made sure to find time for lunch with friends. Since Amado and Barbuzzo being full, my mentor, Elaine, and I decided on Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti. She was intrigued by the dessert sampler and me by the cioppino.

To start, we had a small basket of Appetizer Bread with some herbed olive oil to drizzle on top. The bread was crusty but fresh and good. The aroma of the oil really worked. I also loved using the bread to soak up all the broth in my Cioppino dish later.

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We both got the Focaccia Calda for our appetizers. It was a lovely flatbread with zucchini, diced tomatoes, mozzarella, and truffle oil. The truffle oil gave it a lovely aroma and the zucchini was soft and tasty. However, I found the zucchini to be a little too greasy, detracting from the freshness and lightness of it. The tomatoes added a little acidity but was not the most flavourful tomatoes I have had. The gooey mozzarella was great, though, light and delicious. The flatbread itself had a nice crisp on the edge but was soft and chewy in the center.

ImageMy Cioppino, with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, pancetta, and homemade gnocchi, was delicious. The seafood was plentiful and tender. I especially loved the mussels and calamari, since the shrimp was a little small and not freshly caught. The pancetta really added a hearty flavour to the already flavourful tomato broth. The gnocchi were so soft and chewy and I loved them. However, this dish was also a little too greasy. Despite the garlic and herbs that cut through it a bit, it had a layer of oil over the broth.Image

I tried a bite of Elaine’s Paccheri Bolognese, with bites of short rib and steak. The bolognese was delicious and hearty. This was Italian pasta sauce at its best. The meat was juicy and the flavours were singing. The paccheri was a little undercooked, or very al dente. However, I would rather it was undercooked than soggy and overdone. The large tube pasta was very chewy and a little sticky, but I actually did not mind it that much.Image

The final course was A Sampler of Homemade Desserts. On that day, we got two small bites – the Frangelico Chocolate Mousse and the Vanilla Cheesecake. The mousse was light and not very sweet, having a strong cocoa flavour instead. It had layers of hazelnut mascarpone mousse and Gianduja chocolate mousses, topped with a chocolate fudge and drizzled with dark chocolate sauce. It was National Chocolate Cake Day so this was perfect. The texture was airy and light. Our favourite was the Vanilla Cheesecake, though. It was simple but delicious, with a very strong vanilla bean flavour. The texture was light and creamy, and the graham cracker crust was also very sweet. The strawberry sauce provided a lovely, tart contrast to the flavour. This was more like my kind of dessert. Both of us wished there were more of this cheesecake!

Overall, I loved dining at Positano Coast. The restaurant was bright, friendly, casual, and elegant. It had a traditional Italian decor with different shades of blue everywhere. Our server was friendly and service was great. This is definitely a place that I will return to.

Positano Coast on Urbanspoon

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Golden Bread – Goldilocks

ImageDecember 24, 2012
Goldilocks, Vancouver BC
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Cheese Loaf
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Goldilocks is all the way in Vancouver but, thankfully, T&T also carried a small selection of their baked goods. Mom found one on sale and it was a great deal of bread for only $0.99!

The Cheese Loaf is a slightly sweet, soft, airy, and somewhat sticky bread with a sugar and butter glaze on top and cubes of cream cheese hidden inside each individual bun. The cream cheese was a little hard but went well with the bread. I just loved the texture of the hard but creamy cheese and the bread. The top layer of the bread was delicious from the sweet buttery glaze, the best part of this bread!Image

It was large but not dense at all. Apparently, it usually sells for around $5, in which case would not be worth it at all. Perhaps T&T sells even more variety than we were first aware of, but that is definitely a good thing!

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Asian Jingling – 大统华面包坊–T&T Bakery

ImageDecember 24, 2012
大统华面包坊 – T&T Bakery, Richmond BC
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洛神花乳酪面包 (Roselle Cheese Bun)
枫糖黑豆面包 (Maple Syrup Black Bean Bun)
圣诞水果星形蛋糕 (Xmas Fruit Cake – Star Shape))
红豆麻薯椪 (Red Bean Mochi Pastry)
圣诞优格芝士蛋糕 (Christmas Yogurt Cheese Cake)

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New items from T&T Bakery seem to appear every couple of months so I got a pleasant surprise when I returned home. Mom and I just love trying out the newly created baked goodies.Image

First was the 洛神花乳酪面包 (Roselle Cheese Bun). The pink color was very visually appealing. It would seem from the appearance that it would be sweet, but the bread was actually soft and only lightly sweetened with the roselle. It was mostly doughy, although a little dry. The cheese filling was small in proportion but sticky and sweet. It was creamy and rich, pretty much a sweet cream cheese, and I loved it.Image

The 枫糖黑豆面包 (Maple Syrup Black Bean Bun) was a little less creative in my opinion. The black beans seemed present in the dough and the filling. The maple filling was a lot sweeter and stickier, which I loved, but there did not seem to be enough of it. The bread was soft and airy with a thick layer of dusting sugar on top to sweeten it just a touch.Image

Mom took out from the freezer the 圣诞水果星形蛋糕 (Xmas Fruit Cake – Star Shape). It was such a nice fusion of butter cake, fruitcake, and Asian cake. It was light but still rich and buttery. It was very dense and sweet but not at all overwhelming. The pieces of fruit strewn throughout added a nice tartness, but I just really loved the sweet, hard cake.Image

We also got a box of 红豆麻薯椪 (Red Bean Mochi Pastry) since it was on sale. Again, I am not a fan of layered pastry dough. It was okay, not too buttery or dry but still crumbly and thin. I was a lot more into the filling. The red bean paste was sweet and the yellow sweet potato-like paste just added a lighter sweet tone. Both were wrapped inside a thin layer of sticky, chewy mocha, before being surrounded by the pastry shell. The mochi did not have much flavour in comparison but I loved the contrast of the three textures.

Finally, Mom bought the 圣诞优格芝士蛋糕 (Christmas Yogurt Cheese Cake) to serve as dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner. It was extremely light and airy, lightly sweetened and tart. The texture was excellent and it was just slightly cheese. All the flavours were toned down but harmonious all the same. The thin layer of whip cream did not overwhelm anything and the cake on the bottom was also a light and airy cake, typical of Asian cakes.

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Such lovely new items make T&T Bakery one of the Asian bakeries to offer a large variety. They might have the most kinds of bread actually, compared to the regular bakeries around town. The new products are usually quite creative, too!
12-24-12 - 圣诞优格芝士蛋糕 - 大统华面包坊

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Sausage and Sweets – Starbucks


12-12-02 - Chicken Sausage Breakfast Wrap(1) - StarbucksDecember 2, 2012

Starbucks, New York NY/Philadelphia PA
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Chicken Sausage Breakfast Wrap
Banana Walnut Bread
Mallorca Sweet Bread
Raspberry Scone
Apple Pie
Cherry Pie
Apple Fritter
Grandma’s Turkey Sandwich
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Instead of having bagels again the next morning, I opted for Starbucks. Not just in the morning either but rather throughout the day. Conveniently, one was located just across the street from the competition venue. Also, since it is New York, the quality of the café was quite decent. I also happen to pass by a Starbucks once I got back to Philly so I decided to get a quick dinner from there as well. All in all, it was just a Starbucks kind of day.

12-12-02 - Chicken Sausage Breakfast Wrap(2) - StarbucksI started my morning with the Chicken Sausage Breakfast Wrap. It was toasted and came out piping hot. The wheat tortilla was warming, surrounding melted, gooey cheese, chicken sausage, and eggs. The cheese and the sausage were both very flavourful. The sausage was especially nicely seasoned and tender. The eggs were great and everything came together for one delicious breakfast wrap.12-12-02 - Banana Walnut Bread - Starbucks

The Banana Walnut Bread was sweet and nutty. The banana flavour was that of a sweet and ripened fruit. The cake was moist yet dense and studded with crunchy nuts. The slightest tinge of bitterness was almost masked by the banana flavour but not quite.12-12-02 - Mallorca Sweet Bread - Starbucks

The Mallorca Sweet Bread was bite after bite of scrumptiousness. It was very doughy and chewy, moist and sticky at the same time. The powder sugar on top was not very sweet and kind of stuck to my mouth a bit. However, it was not the kind that you eat and end up covered in powder sugar. It was rich in a very non-buttery kind of way.

12-12-02 - Raspberry Scone - StarbucksThe Raspberry Scone was rather disappointing. The scone itself was not very sweet but rather buttery. The raspberries were not that plentiful and they were not extremely juicy either. They did have that raspberry bitterness but it was not masked nicely by the sugar on top. It was a little bland, a little too buttery, and a little too dry for me.

The Apple Pie was rightfully eaten. The previous day was National Red Apple Day and National Pie Day. The next day was National Apple Pie Day. No matter how you look at it, it was apples and pies. This mini pie packed in a ton of flavour. The sweet and tangy apple mixture with a touch of cinnamon worked well in the crumbly pie crust that was slightly buttery.12-12-02 - Apple PIe - Starbucks

The Cherry Pie was the other petite pie Starbucks offers. The cherry filling was rather artificial tasting, though, and not very sweet or strong of any flavour. Thus, the crust to filling ratio was a little high for me. The bright red seemed to suggest a strong cherry flavour but I got none of that. However, it was still a nice small bite in the evening.12-12-02 - Cherry Pie - Starbucks

I also got the Apple Fritter since it was National Fritters Day. What is with all these apple treats around the beginning of December of all times? The last one in the case, it was left out too long. The apple and cinnamon flavours were there and the sugar glaze was good and sweet. The doughnut itself was dry, though. I did like the few mini slices of apple I got and wished there were more of those embedded throughout.

Finally, for dinner, I had Grandma’s Turkey Sandwich. It was a rather good sandwich. The wheat bread was hearty and fresh. The turkey breast was slightly dry and bland but the well-seasoned stuffing made up for it, as did the sweet and tasty cranberry sauce, with juicy cranberries clearly distinguishable inside. I did not touch the mayonnaise as the cranberry sauce and stuffing gave the sandwich enough flavour already.
12-12-02 - Apple Fritter - Starbucks

Quality food? Check… at least when it is not left out on display for too long. Starbucks seems to have a way of providing fresh offers despite the cafes not having capabilities to freshly bake the goodies on the premises. Taking this into consideration, they clearly offer some of the best café goodies at comparable prices.
12-12-02 - Grandma's Turkey Sandwich - Starbucks

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