Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

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
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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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Livin’ Off Convenient Stores – Wawa

March 19, 2013
Wawa, Philadelphia PA
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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
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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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Sandwiches and Sweets – Starbucks

March 8, 2013
Starbucks, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
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ラントブロート クロックマダム (Landbrot Croque-madame)
イタリアンソーセージとチーズのタルティーヌ (Italian Sausage & Cheese Tartine)
パンプキンタルト (Pumpkin Tart)
クッキー&クリームチーズケーキ (Cookie & Cream Cheese Cake)
チェリー&カスタードマフィン (Cherry & Custard Muffin)
キャラメルピーカンナッツロール (Caramel & Pecan Nut Roll)
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ImageDoesn’t matter where you are, you can be sure Starbucks will be crowded in the morning. Their food selections are certainly getting better and the ones in Japan have way too many interesting choices that doesn’t matter how often I go, I still could not try all of them. So, I had to be selective. At least sharing with friends gave me more opportunities to taste all this delicious food!

The sandwich, ラントブロート クロックマダム (Landbrot Croque-madame), was so tasty! A pressed panini, it had chicken, melted gooey mozzarella cheese, and an almost-runny egg. I really enjoyed the savoury combination. The cheese had great flavour and was not bland. The bread had a nice crisp exterior and soft on the inside. It was a great breakfast sandwich!Image

The イタリアンソーセージとチーズのタルティーヌ (Italian Sausage & Cheese Tartine) also had great flavour. I really loved the creamy white sauce that covered the sausage, potatoes, mushrooms, and cauliflower. The bread was a bit too crisp and hard for my liking and I was never a fan of potatoes. However, the other ingredients were all delicious.Image

The パンプキンタルト (Pumpkin Tart) was very good. It had a good pumpkin custard texture and the crust was crumbly but not too dry. Inside was cubes of kabocha, the Asian version of winter squash that is sometimes translated as pumpkin. The tart was not at all very sweet but rather had the hearty taste of the squash. The pepitas, whipped cream, and glaze added nice touches.Image

The クッキー&クリームチーズケーキ (Cookie & Cream Cheese Cake) was not as great as I thought it would be. It was a regular, albeit a very good and creamy, cheesecake with chocolate cookie swirled in. There was a chocolate cookie crust and it was topped with chunks of very crumbly chocolate cookies. It was not too sweet despite being all chocolate and cheesecake but I guess that’s the good thing about Asian desserts.Image

The チェリー&カスタードマフィン (Cherry & Custard Muffin) was actually decent. The inside was moist, dense, yet soft. I loved the large, semi-dried cherries that were very sweet. The custard could have been more custard-like. It was a little dry and there did not seem to be enough.

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The キャラメルピーカンナッツロール (Caramel & Pecan Nut Roll) was delicious and sweet. Finally, something sweet enough! Rather, it was where there was caramel drizzle that was sweet – and sticky. The pecans were good and crunchy. The roll was a little dry and the parts without caramel was not as good. With all the ingredients together, though, it was delicious.

So many choices, so many goodies! And all of this is only one country. Imagine the collection of Starbucks treats from all around the world. Now that would be a feast!

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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.

Pari Cafe' Creperie on Urbanspoon

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Little Blue Devils – Starbucks

ImageJanuary 8, 2013
Starbucks, Minneapolis MN
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Blueberry Streusel Muffin
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Having had that Blueberry Bar earlier, I was suddenly craving blueberries. Sweet, dear blueberries are my favourite berries, hands down. So, when I got to Minneapolis and had a long while before my connecting flight, I stopped by Starbucks again.

The Blueberry Streusel Muffin was so delicious. It was moist, dense, slightly buttery, and just sweet with a lovely blueberry aroma. There were not as many blueberries as I would have liked, but the muffin itself was just exceptional.

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Steak at Dawn – McDonald’s

ImageJanuary 8, 2013
McDonald’s, Richmond BC
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Steak N’ Egg Bagel
Chocolate Raspberry Muffin
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So much time spent at the airport means too much airport food. Therefore, I needed a decent breakfast sandwich that morning – not from the airport – so Mom drove me to McDonald’s before I took off.Image

The Steak N’ Egg Bagel is a limited time offer and will soon be gone. I made sure to try it before I miss my chance as steak, onions, and sauce sounds delicious with eggs and a bagel. The bagel itself was chewy and dense. The folded eggs were decent but went well with the steak sauce. The sautéed onions were a bit greasy for me but otherwise good. The steak was tender and juicy enough for a fast food place like McDonald’s. I think this was definitely a good idea, especially for those preferring more meaty substance in their breakfast sandwich.Image

I never knew they offered the Chocolate Raspberry Muffin until I checked the nutrition information online. I assume that this was released along with the Chocolate Raspberry Pie. The muffin was moist and fresh. It was light in color but had a decent chocolate taste. The raspberries were embedded throughout but I found it lacked the berry tartness in general. It was just a really light muffin, not greasy or overly sweet.

I have to say, sitting in the airport, I was excited to eat McDonald’s for breakfast. Looking at other options there, the people were paying a lot for something that was at best as good as my meal from McDonald’s. Despite not being able to take liquids past security, I always keep in mind that food is allowed!

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My First Oatcake – Starbucks

December 31, 2012
Starbucks, Honolulu HI
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Starbucks Hawaii Oat Cake
Zucchini Walnut Muffin
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12-12-31 - Starbucks Hawaii Oatcake - Starbucks

Before heading for another round of frozen yogurt after shopping while Dad stayed back at the hotel to do some work, Mom and I dropped by Starbucks to see if there was any specials. There was, and I got them, as well as a Hawaii gift card!

The Starbucks Hawaii Oat Cake was scrumptious. It was dense and filled with lots of oats and berries. It was like a lighter, oat-ier version of the traditional Chinese pastry called tanghuoshao (糖火烧). It was dense and rather old-school. It was not visually appealing in any sense but very tasty, with great ingredients hastily assembled and baked. My first oatcake and it was good.12-12-31 - Zucchini Walnut Muffin - Starbucks

The Zucchini Walnut Muffin, though not a Hawaiian special, was hard to find in the Starbucks in Washington and Philadelphia. I have never seen it anywhere although it was always on the online menu. It was a very light, non-sweet muffin, thanks to the zucchini. It had a pale olive green tone that was not exactly appetizing but tasted fresh and light. The walnuts added a nice crunch.

Finally, Mom appeared to think the muffin was okay. Thanks, Starbucks. It is always great to find some regional specialties; in North America, there are only so many special options to choose from.

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A Fruity Cafe – Starbucks

December 28, 2012
Starbucks, Richmond BC
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Holiday Turkey Sandwich
Raisin Bran Muffin
Lemon Poppyseed Loaf
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ImageSince Tim Hortons was mostly for snacks and treats, I went to Starbucks to grab a sandwich as my lunch, conveniently using my free reward.

The Holiday Turkey Sandwich was actually different from the Grandma’s Turkey Sandwich you can find in the States. This one was sliced turkey breast, stuffing, reduced-fat dressing, lettuce, and cranberry sauce on rosemary focaccia. The turkey was fresh and light and the stuffing well seasoned. I love the mushy texture of stuffing. The cranberry sauce was served on the side and it tasted very tart and sweet. The focaccia was the most disappointing. It does not hold up to refrigeration very well and the rosemary aroma was almost non-existent. The texture of the bread was dry and crumbly, not that great at all, despite the good-tasting ingredients inside.Image

The Raisin Bran Muffin was surprisingly unsweetened. The texture was rough from the bran and yet, it was still moist, slightly airy, but also slightly dense, like a muffin should be. It could have been sweeter but the way it tasted really helped the juicy, sweet raisins to stand out.

ImageThe Lemon Poppyseed Loaf had always been one of my favourites. It is quite refreshing from the tartness of the lemon. The poppyseeds do not have much flavour but I love the little crunchy devils that want to get in between your teeth. The sugar glaze made it slightly sweeter but not by much.

Starbucks need to figure out how to not rely on the fridge to keep their foods fresh. I would rather not have my cakes, sandwiches, and other goodies at colder-than-room-temperature levels. 

Starbucks (Richmond Centre) on Urbanspoon

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Golden Arch Slimming – McDonald’s

December 28, 2012
McDonald’s, Richmond BC
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Cranberry-Orange Slim Sensations Muffin
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ImageDuring a morning jog to Steveston, I decided to drop into McDonald’s and see if they had the Oreo chocolate muffin. Unfortunately, they did not. However, I had already set my mind up for a muffin before heading home so I could not leave without having one.

I decided on the Cranberry-Orange Slim Sensations Muffin. The muffin base was light and slightly sweetened with a nice orange aroma. The cranberries were tart and I wish there had been more of it throughout the muffin. I was disappointed that the top was not crisp, but I think you have to be there literally when they come out of the oven and had just cooled down to get that perfect texture. It was light and refreshing, with all the citrusy, acidic flavour. 

McDonald's on Urbanspoon

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