Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

That Tiramisu! – Al Porto Ristorante

May 11, 2013
Al Porto Ristorante, Vancouver BC
~
[Bread Basket]
Linguine Pescatore
Calamari
Mussels
Tiramisu
~

ImageFor a long-time friend’s 20th birthday party, we went to Al Porto Ristorante in the lovely, historic Gastown. While sunny weather is always nice, there is a certain magical feel to Gastown in the drizzly rain. The restaurant was large, with great friendly servers and traditional decorations. 

We started with a complimentary Bread Basket that I thought could have been better to match the sophistication of the restaurant. The bread was not exactly fresh out of the oven, although it had a nice crust and a soft, airy inside. However, I loved the focaccia. It was so soft and a little chewy.Image

The Linguine Pescatore was a common dish amongst our group. The seafood was fresh and nicely done: mussels, clams, prawns, squid, scallops, salmon, and halibut. Unfortunately, there was only one scallop, which is my favourite seafood… ever. The fish added a nice touch since you eat it with the pasta unlike the shellfish, which you usually eat separately. The linguine was al dente and the tomato sauce very flavourful with a touch of cream.Image

The Calamari was served with a chili aioli and a red onion bruschetta. The squid had a thin but crispy batter with the chewy seafood nicely done on the inside. I liked the chili aioli but would prefer the bruschetta. I thought it was an interesting touch for calamari.Image

The Mussels were steamed with garlic, shallot, and Italian parsley in a tomato broth. The broth had a decent herb flavour but could have been thicker with more seasoning. The mussels were okay, nothing outstanding.Image

Finally, since it was a birthday night, we all had a small bite of Tiramisu. It was a lovely bite. Coffee, liquer, lady fingers, sponge cake, cocoa powder, and most importantly, mascarpone. It was fresh, sweet, soft, moist, and absolutely scrumptious!

It was a really nice dinner, at a nice, fancy, but not over the top restaurant. I think a seat by the window would be a lot nicer and would actually be a great place to enjoy an upscale brunch of light dinner in the glow of the setting sun. 

Al Porto Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Livin’ Off Convenient Stores – Wawa

March 19, 2013
Wawa, Philadelphia PA
~
Premium Honey Smoked Turkey w/ Scrambled Eggs Breakfast Hoagie
Sausage, Egg & Cheese Pancake Sizzli
Rainbow Cookie
Mozzarella Sticks
Sweet Cream Cheese Stuffed Pretzel
Red Velvet Muffin
BBQ Roast Pork Hoagie
Cookies & Cream Donut
Iced Chocolate Caramel Latte
~

ImageThere are just those days that Wawa is my go to place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and snacks, of course. This was just one of those days.

ImageThe Premium Honey Smoked Turkey w/ Scrambled Eggs Breakfast Hoagie was actually great. It was also National Poultry Day so turkey fit the bill. The eggs were hot and fluffy. The turkey was slightly sweet and thinly sliced. The roll was toasted and crispy on the outside. I had a little trouble finding the cheese but otherwise, it was a good breakfast hoagie – more expensive than food trucks but I liked the eggs a lot more.Image

The Sausage, Egg & Cheese Pancake Sizzli was okay. I find it odd to have actual pancakes with no syrup as a breakfast sandwich but it was lightly sweet and nice. The sausage patty was a little dry but had good flavour, as did the cheese. I just was not a fan of the preformed egg omelet.
Image

The Rainbow Cookie had a lot of chocolate candies, making it so colourful. I loved the crisp that a regular chocolate chip or chunk cookie that just has melted chocolate. I liked the lightly sweetened cookie dough but it was a little over-baked, neither crispy nor gooey. I prefer the latter.
Image

The Mozzarella Sticks had a nice thin batter on the outside with very stringy, chewy mozzarella inside. I loved the chewiness of the cheese and I could pull it so long without it at all breaking. I was disappointed that if I wanted marinara sauce, I had to pay for it.Image

The Sweet Cream Cheese Stuffed Pretzel was chewy with a crisp exterior. The inside was filled with delicious sweet cream cheese. It was a nice balance between the sweet filling and the salt on the pretzel. I wished there was more of the cheese filling inside. I love the light sweetness of it.Image

The Red Velvet Muffin was so red that it was food colour overdose. The muffin was moist and dense with a crisp top. Inside was filled with sweet cream that was a little too buttery. The muffin was good though, compared to some smaller independent cafes.Image

The limited-time BBQ Roast Pork Hoagie was overloaded with Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. The sauce was great on the hot roast pork. The pork was juicy and decently tender. The BBQ sauce covered up the provolone cheese, though, and all the juices made half the bread somewhat soggy.Image

The Cookies & Cream Donut was actually good. I liked the cookie crumble with the frosting, and especially the cookies and cream filling. It was not too sweet but not greasy either. The doughnut was also fresh since it was still early in the day.Image

ImageFor National Chocolate Caramel Day and American Chocolate Week, I tried the Iced Chocolate Caramel Latte. It was decent, just milky enough and had the tastes of chocolate and caramel, although it was not very sweet. I liked how the ice is crushed ice so not large cubes. The whip cream with chocolate drizzle did not add much but it was refreshing.

Leave a comment »

Oatmeal and Chocolate – Penn Bookstore Cafe

ImageMarch 18, 2013
Penn Bookstore Cafe, Philadelphia PA
~
Toffee Nut Latte
Strawberries & Cream Cupcake
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
Heath Blondie
~

It was National Oatmeal Cookie Day and American Chocolate Week so I decided to sit back and relax in the lovely Penn Bookstore Cafe. I love the smell of coffee, a delicious dessert, and newly printed pages.

The Toffee Nut Latte was decent enough, slightly nutty and sweet, although it was hard to tell that it was specifically toffee. It was smooth and warmed me up from the drizzle outside. It was not too sweet, just the right amount.Image

The Strawberries & Cream Cupcake looked irresistible and tasted just as wonderful. The strawberry flavour reminded me of my childhood and the buttercream was not too oily and rather, was nice and sweet. I loved the shaved white chocolate on top. The cake was also moist, a little dense but still airy.Image

Now onto the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. It was huge but a little too crunchy for me, especially the edges. It was a little greasy and the raisins were rather hard and dry rather than plump and juicy. Image

Finally, the Heath Blondie was great. I wish there were more Heath pieces inside, but there were plenty of semi-sweet and white chocolate chunks. The blondie itself was dense but moist and soft.

This cafe is always so full that I was lucky to find a seat. A wonderful place to study, it also has a great view of Walnut Street with its floor to ceiling windows!

Leave a comment »

Specials, Specials, Specials – Dunkin’ Donuts

ImageMarch 13, 2013
Dunkin’ Donuts, Philadelphia PA
~
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. 

Leave a comment »

Quick and Casual Sonata – Allegro Pizza & Grill

March 11, 2013
Allegro Pizza & Grill, Philadelphia PA
~
Vegetable Panini
Spanish Omelette
Tiramisu
~

ImageAfter endless dinners of cheese, pepperoni, and vegetable pizzas from Allegro during club meetings and various events, it was time I tried some other dishes at the ever so popular casual diner on campus. 

ImageThe Vegetable Panini was not bad. I did like the variety of grilled vegetables inside as they were not too greasy: broccoli, spinach, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms. I asked for mozzarella but it was neither gooey nor flavourful, too processed I guess. The home-made focaccia was a little thin and not soft enough for me. It was almost like flatbread. The fries that came with it were at least cooked to a good texture.

ImageThe Spanish Omelette, which I got with egg whites, was decent but slightly greasy. I did like the vegetables but egg whites are supposed to be light and not have too much oil on it. The server was nice enough to allow me to substitute home fries for fruit salad without additional charges since I had fries with my panini already. The toast was not the right texture, though. One was too crispy, almost burnt, and the other not crispy enough. Image

Finally, the Tiramisu was obviously not homemade. However, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The creamy texture was light and it did have soaked lady finger-like cake at the bottom with a strong coffee flavour.

For a quick meal, students are usually satisfied with what can be found here. It is relatively clean and not too expensive, with an extensive menu beyond just pizzas. 

Allegro Pizza on Urbanspoon

Leave a comment »

Sayonara, Shinjuku – Starbucks

March 9, 2013
Starbucks, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
~
ダーク モカ チップ フラペチーノ (Dark Mocha Chip Frappuccino Blended Coffee)
ほうれん草とハムのキッシュ (Spinach & Ham Quiche)
メイプルクリームの全粒粉スコーン (Maple Cream & Whole Grain Scone)
~

ImageThere were still so many things to try at Starbucks and I knew I could not get to all of them. So, I had to be selective for my final breakfast in Tokyo.

The ダーク モカ チップ フラペチーノ (Dark Mocha Chip Frappuccino Blended Coffee) was incredibly good. It had the sweetness of the chocolate in the mocha sauce but it was also made from dark chocolate, giving it a slightly bitter but richer taste to it. The ice was blended finely and the drink was not overly sweet. The whip cream was quite watery and not as greasy as back in the US. I really liked that. It was a finely made drink.Image

The ほうれん草とハムのキッシュ (Spinach & Ham Quiche) was also delicious. The pastry was flaky and buttery, although it was a bit hard to cut into with a fork. The egg and spinach filling was so good that I wished there were more of it. The ham was savoury and I enjoyed the vegetable stems inside. However, I also got large pieces of potatoes under the ham, which just made it creamy but slightly bland.Image

The メイプルクリームの全粒粉スコーン (Maple Cream & Whole Grain Scone) was better than I expected. It was just whole grain scone with a little bit of maple cream spread into the middle. I wanted more of the sweet cream, but for what was there, the maple aroma was strong. The whole grain scone itself was crumbly but slightly dry. However, it was sweet and for that, I loved it.Image

My last visit to a Japan Starbucks for at least quite a while was definitely a good one. Starbucks service is already great to begin with. Add to that a country that prides itself on the respectful culture, you have got a café with perhaps the best service around.

Leave a comment »

American in Japan – Beck’s Coffee Shop

March 6, 2013
Beck’s Coffee Shop, Minato, Tokyo, Japan
~
アイスカフェ・モカ {Iced Cafe Mocha}
~

ImageAs we waited for everyone to gather together, some of us explored Shinagawa Station a little to grab snacks and drinks, despite the fact that we had just had sushi for lunch and were all in the middle of food comas. BerBer decided to get the アイスカフェ・モカ {Iced Cafe Mocha} from Beck’s Coffee Shop. It was certainly very refreshing, and seeing how espresso drinks from America is so popular in Japan never ceases to amuse me!

Leave a comment »

Dessert in a Coffee – Tully’s Coffee

March 5, 2013
Tully’s Coffee, Sumida, Tokyo, Japan
~
ティラミスラテ (Tiramisu Latte)
~

ImageSometimes, a day will just not turn out right until that cup of coffee had been had. With this kind of mood, Casey settled on a cup at Tully’s Coffee after visiting Tokyo Skytree.

The ティラミスラテ (Tiramisu Latte) was nice with hot, steamy milk. The aroma is just really nice. Add that to coffee and cream flavours and you have yourself a remedy to a chilly but beautiful sunny afternoon in Tokyo.

Leave a comment »

Vanilla All Spiced Up – Starbucks

ImageFebruary 8, 2013
Starbucks, Philadelphia PA
~
Vanilla Spice Latte
Turkey Rustico Panini
Cheesecake Brownie 
Petite Vanilla Bean Scone
~

Unfortunately, Starbucks rewards expires sooner or later. Being so busy, I literally left it till the last day to redeem mine but it allowed me to go sit in a cafe for a while and de-stress and unwind. There is nothing more lovely sometimes than smelling coffee on your jacket for the rest of the evening. That aroma is just lovely.

If there was one thing I disliked about the Vanilla Spice Latte, it would be that there was no skinny option, or rather a sugar-free vanilla spice syrup. Besides that, I found it to be so much better than your regular vanilla latte. The spice really brought out the sweet, aromatic vanilla bean flavour since it provided contrast to that mild but definitely present spice. It was quite sweet but very flavourful.Image

The new Turkey Rustico Panini was actually really delicious. The wheat focaccia was toasted nicely and I loved the crunch of the sesame seeds on top. The turkey was sliced thin but had a generous portion. It tasted quite fresh. I loved the wilted baby kale with the sweet onion marmalade. They melted into the smoked Swiss cheese nicely. The Dijon mustard was a bit overpowering compared to the rest of the flavours. The mustard seeds were just a bit on the strong side.Image

Also new was the Cheesecake Brownie. It was literally half cheesecake, half fudge brownie, with some swirled fudge on top. I guess I was just expecting a thin layer of cream cheese topping but instead, I got sweet, creamy, and thick cheesecake. It was actually really good, especially with the fudge. The brownie on the bottom was very dense and the chocolate flavour was very strong. The whole thing was somewhat greasy and very dense, but still very good. I loved the chewiness.Image

The Petite Vanilla Bean Scone owed all its flavours to the vanilla bean glaze. It had that sweet aroma I was looking for. The scone itself was buttery, flaky, and crumbly but lacked much flavour overall.

Starbucks customer service is always so good. I think that is why reason people keep on going back. Whatever you need, they will get it for you. Oh, and did I mention free refills of regular brewed coffee for all registered card holders? 

Leave a comment »

In the Land of Taro, Coffee, Guava, Pineapple, and Coconut – Yogurtland

January 3, 2013
Yogurtland, Kahului HI
~
Taro
Kona Coffee Blend
Guava Pineapple Tart
Toasted Coconut
Toppings: Mango, Pineapple, Mango Popping Boba, Strawberry Popping Boba, Passion Fruit Popping Boba, Mochi
Image~

I so wish Yogurtland still had those Hello Kitty spoons. Well, at least they had many interesting flavours for Mom and I to indulge in. It had been a long – and winding day – going to Hana and back, and then up to the peaks and back down again. We were so ready to eat some comfort food and go back to the hotel for the night. 

The Taro frozen yogurt was sweet and creamy. I loved how earthy it tasted, not just sugary. The Kona Coffee Blend was quite bitter, full of coffee flavour and hardly any sweetness. The Guava Pineapple Tart was, well, tart, and refreshing. Finally, the Toasted Coconut was a lot better than I imagined. It was creamy and rich, not just sweet. The toppings were all lovely, especially the popping bobas! Those are always so good.

Leave a comment »