Tag Archives: Coffee

Barcelona Digested: Hang with the Locals – Cava and Cafe Catalonian Style

Barcelona: Where the locals go

When I travel, I want to know where the locals hang out.  What’s the best bite in town?  Where do they go to grab a drink?  How do they spend their Saturday afternoons.  Of course I’m sure there is some overlap with where the non-local, tourist types visit as well, but in an effort to sum up the recs I got, tried and loved, here’s a list of favs to get your cava and cafe con leche Catalonian style.

El Xampanyet {Cava & Tapas Bar | La Ribera}
Must do. A fantastic cava and tapas bar, serving the bubbly in ‘50s style champagne glasses. Hang out with locals standing at the bar for a few bites before going out. Family-owned since 1929, it has both good energy and an historical air that makes trying a bite of this and a bite of that, that much more enjoyable. Its bright fluorescent lighting gives it the feel of an old-school NYC Jewish deli, serving up great food in an unpretentious setting. And since the Catalonians like to come and go frequently, the people watching never stops.

El Xampanyet

Mercat de La Boqueria {Food Market | Barri Gotic}
It’s on every list. Stop here to eat what you see. Mounds of beautiful fruit, roasted nuts, chocolates galore. Also fun to admire the fresh seafood, chickens with their crown still on and even a few lambs heads w/ eyeballs – no prepackaged grocery store cuts here. Go early and enjoy watching the owners set up shop or eat at two of the best food counters in the market before it gets too crowded with tourists {Pinotxo or El Quim}.

Piles and Piles of Sweet Goodness

Pinotxo {Coffee & Tapas Bar | Barri Gotic, in La Boqueria}
A tiny family run bar, but the owner is one of the most well known in Barcelona. Go early for breakfast (9am), ask for the specials and hang with the owner and other market locals who stop in for a quick coffee and bite before the rush of the day begins.

Pinotxo

Meson del Café {Coffee Bar | Barri Gotic}
Tiny 100-year old café with delicious picardia (coffee w/ condensed milk and whiskey). It’s small and kitschy, which makes it a great place to perch and people watch while reenergizing.

Meson del Cafe Picardia {mmm}

Cal Pep {Seafood Tapas | Born}Great tapas bar known for their fresh seafood. Cal welcomes his patrons with his raspy voice and personal recommendations. It’s diner style seating with an impressive line-up of waiting patrons along the wall, but the distraction of watching the excitement behind the counter will keep you entertained.

Cal and his team

Fresh Clams from Cal Pep

Quimet y Quimet {Tapas Bar | Poble Sec}
Small little tapas bar where you rub elbows {literally} with the locals in a small, standing room only space. The walls are attractively lined with bottles of wine and spirits and the bar showcases all the tapas basics. Inventive combos still rely on the traditional canned food items, but stack up bites like roasted pepper, cream cheese, canned crab, langoustine, caviar, drizzled in balsamic, olive oil for a sensational snack. Also try the dried beef with truffle oil and olive tapenade.

Um, Yes Please. Thank you Quimet y Quimet!

How could you say no to these tapas?

Can Manel la Puda {Paella Outdoor Cafe | Barcelonata}
Excellent paella along a café strip in Barcelonata. This is the perfect Saturday afternoon destination to enjoy a glass {or bottle} of cava and some of the most delicious, fresh seafood paella I have ever had. This is how the locals spend their weekends — a lifestyle I could get used to rather quickly.

Outdoor Paella Cafes in Barcelonata

The right way to spend a Saturday afternoon

More Barcelona Digested:
Barcelona Digested: Chocolate Central
Barcelona Digested: Mercat de La Boqueria
recipe goodness :: barcelona favorite recreated | balsamic chick pea salad

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Found: Coffee Foundry Hides Secret Joe Gem in Karaoke Bar

Clever Coffee Dripper

What do you do with a Karaoke bar during daylight? Turn it into a coffee bar, naturally. I have walked down west 4th many a day and night and can honestly say I have never paid attention to the karaoke bar, let alone noticed this super cool coffee cupper called The Coffee Foundry. You have to keep a sharp eye out for the sandwich board out front beckoning you to pay a visit to this boutique brewer because the facade is only marked with the karaoke bar signage. Alas, a hidden gem serving everything from single origin pour-over joe to microbrew beers.

The space has the appeal of a cool late-night joint with rich blue backlighting and bar seats to perch upon while watching your cup prepared to order. The pour-over method has an entertaining appeal, but is also their preferred method of brewing to enjoy the best flavor coffee beans have to offer. And yes they even roast their own beans in LIC to ensure the freshest bean to brew possible. Using the cleverly named Clever Coffee Dripper, the brewmasters combine the best features of French press and filter drip brewing. With French press brewing, you can control steeping or infusion time, but heat loss and sediment in the cup can be a problem. Whereas, brewing with a paper filter usually loses the control over steeping time as the coffee begins to drain immediately. The Clever contraption adds a stopper to a filtercone, combining control over steeping time with a sediment-free cup. Voila, a delightful cup of hot, rich, caffeinated goodness.

So next time you’re in the mood for a little coffee Journey, hang out with the very fun and knowledgable Coffee Foundry brewers. If you stay there long enough, you can witness the switchover from coffee dripper to bar shaker and move right into your best rendition of Don’t Stop Believing.

Map: 186 West 4th Street

Love Me A Good Cup ‘o Joe:
Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time
Crop to Cup Creating Quality Community Coffee
Give Your Monday Morning Mug a Kick in the Pants with Kicking Horse Coffee

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Filed under NYC Best, {Drink Me}

Winter Fancy Food Show: San Fran Specialties Digested

There were no shortage of snacks to sample at the specialty food show in San Fran this weekend. Much like the Summer show I attended in New York, the spread ranged from candies, cheeses, chocolates and coffee to fine meats and preserves from over 1,300 exhibiting food producers from around the world.

Straight off the flight from the Big Apple, I made my way to the food show, with an empty stomach and press badge in hand to see what new discoveries could be found and to pay a visit to a few favorites I savored last time.

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My Favorite Specialty Foodies and What to Love:

Bella Cucina {Salts, Spreads, Oils and Preserves from Atlanta}

The packaging will catch your eye immediately – beautifully jarred and labeled, these products will delight any gift recipient and your kitchen counter alike {hence the name}. More importantly I sampled several of what’s inside Bella Cucina’s jars – aromatic savory salts, artichoke lemon spread {their best seller accounting for 17% of all sales}, mint pistachio pesto, roasted sweet peppers grown especially for Bella Cucina – and wished I could buy several of them on the spot. As someone who can appreciate unique flavor combinations and beautiful packaging, Bella Cucina won me over immediately.

Justin’s {All Natural Nut Butters from Boulder}

I love peanut butter period. But give me a spoon of chocolate hazelnut butter, honey peanut butter or maple almond butter and you have just upped the ante on a simple snack time favorite. I always loved the day my mom made me a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch, so it just makes sense to bring these flavor combos together in one jar, except it’s not always in a jar. Justin’s sources high quality organic California nuts and has brilliantly packaged their product both in a jar and in a squeeze packet to take these delights on the road. I think it’s time to move your old friend Skippy aside for a spread or squeeze of Justin’s premier PB product.

Poco Dolce {Chocolate from San Fran}

So much chocolate in this world – is it possible to create a new and BETTER chocolate? Apparently yes. I was guided through aisles of food booths to Poco Dolce with assurance that these chocolates were the best around. I concur. With flavors like burnt caramel, sesame toffee tiles {winner of a sofi Gold award}, and super chile, owner, Kathy Wiley, elevates chocolate squares to new levels exciting your taste buds with both sweet and savory flavor combinations. Also try her toffee squares — bite sized toffee covered in bittersweet chocolate. If you’re not an SF local, fear not, see here for places to get your hands on those bites.

Fra’Mani Handcrafted Foods {Artisanal Cured Meats from Berkley}

Just take a look at the picture of this beautiful mosaic of head cheese.  And beside this well-photographed delicacy, Fra’Mani was generously tasting a range of their other flavorful cured meat products – little ham, rosemary ham, roasted turkey galantine. Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching – why not replace those roses with a fragrant bouquet of artisanal cured meats? It’s the way to say I love you in 2011.

Beehive Cheese Co. {Handcrafted Cheese from Utah}

I first had Beehive’s Barely Buzzed by chance when it was paired with a wine at a tasting up in Livermore, CA. The cheddar cheese is hand rubbed with a Turkish grind of Colorado Legacy Coffee Company’s, lavender buds and olive oil, which makes your head spin in delight — perfectly named I would say. At the time we were with a group of eight people, who were all commenting more on the cheese than the wine and we made note of what we were sampling in an effort to find this delightful slice again. Previously it was not easy to come by, but distribution has expanded to many Whole Foods Markets, so next time you are rolling down the aisle looking for an exciting addition to your cheese plate, pick up Barely Buzzed for a deep caramel flavor or Big John’s Cajun Rubbed for something with a little kick.

Creminelli Fine Meats {Artisanal Cured Meats from Salt Lake City}

I first discovered Creminelli at the New York Wine & Food Festival in October. With a glass of cabernet in one hand, I sampled some of their finest salumi – lacy thin cut mortadella, hot sopresata, dark & rich wild boar sausage and their award-winning Barolo-infused salumi {winner of this year’s Good Food awards). So imagine my delight to stumble upon them next to the Beehive Cheese Co. Good cheese & meats hanging out together {both from Utah} – all I needed was a glass of vino and a comfy chair to make my day.

Kicking Horse Coffee {Coffee from Canada}

One of my all-time favorite coffee producers of the year – if you haven’t tried it, you must. Not a new discovery for me, but I had to stop by to say hello and for a quick cup of joe to rejuvenate my jetlagged, sampled-out self.

  • Great Brew: most importantly, this cup of joe was delicious {and just what I needed after a lot of walking, talking and sampling}. It’s just making its way down from our friendly northern neighbor, so check their website for a retail store near you.
  • Great People: Buying only Fair Trade coffee, the company supports its farmers, regardless of the world market. As the largest cash crop in the world, this really does make a Kicking impact.
  • Cool Names: Kick Ass {dark}, Three Sisters {medium}, 454 Horsepower {dark}, Z-Wrangler {medium}, Decaf {dark}, Cliff Hanger Espresso {medium}. Clever coffee, what’s not to love.
  • Cool Packaging: 100% recycled cans {surprisingly most coffee cans are not fully recyclable — yeah, that little plastic top is no bueno}. Black cans with primary color tops catch the eye and look cool hangin’ out next to your coffee maker.

The Skim: If you haven’t caught on to the specialty food trends, then wake up and smell the artisanal hand-pressed coffee. 63% of American consumers purchased specialty food in 2010, up from 46% in 2009 and farmers markets have grown to become the fourth most significant source of specialty foods. Knowing where your food comes from and passionate support for the creativity and handcrafted quality that goes into small scale specialty foods, is driving the emergence of new food entrepreneurs to historic levels.  Mark your calendars, the Summer Fancy Food Show will be held in Washington D.C. July 10-12, 2011.

Dolled Up Delicacies:
Summer Fancy Food Show: Full Belly and Learnings Digestion
Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF
Give Your Monday Morning Mug a Kick in the Pants with Kicking Horse Coffee
Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening
New York City Wine & Food Festival Kicked Off With Good Eats

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Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time

Blue Bottle Coffee Brooklyn

It was several months ago during a trip to San Fran that I found myself at the Ferry Building on a brisk Saturday morning. With sleep in my eyes and jet lag fogging my weary head, I decided a steaming cup of coffee was in order. And so I stood. In a 30 minute line. For coffee. This is not something I would normally do, but the craving had settled in and my interest was piqued as I noticed many others patiently and happily waiting. Waiting for what? Waiting for a single cup of freshly ground, individually dripped, piping hot and made to order Blue Bottle Coffee. Was it worth the wait? Was an individually dripped cup of java really that good? Of course it was. So imagine my delight when I learned Blue Bottle was bestowing it’s bean to brew love on Brooklyn.

Blue Bottle Coffee One Cup at a Time

The brilliance of this brew rests in the fact that the beans are roasted onsite, allowing for the absolute freshest possible cup to be prepared specially — for you and only you. Once ground, the beans are placed in a paper filter that is nestled in a ceramic drip cup, and which magically come to life as prime temperature water is poured from the spout of a swan neck kettle. Drip. Drip. Drip. Wait. Wait. Wait. And so is born your beautifully crafted cup of Blue Bottle joe.

“I will only sell coffee less than 48 hours out of the roaster to my customers, so they may enjoy coffee at its peak of flavor. I will only use the finest organic, and pesticide-free, shade-grown beans.”
— Blue Bottle Coffee Founder Vow

Blue Bottle Roasting

It is no small thing to walk into a minimally marked building, down a minimally trafficked street, on an off hour of a weekday, to find a concentrated crowd of eager Brooklyn Blue Bottlers. The intense perfume of fresh beans, the hum of the roasters, the casual conversation of a loyal caffeine crowd, all welcomes you with open arms as soon as you enter the garage door fronted store. This isn’t your typical coffee stop that lures you in with free wifi and tables at which to pitch your tent for hours. No, Blue Bottle offers a standup bar to encourage socializing while you tip the mug, and a great view of what it means to create small production coffee in the freshest way possible. The only thing wrong with it? It’s 30 minutes from my apartment.

Brooklyn Blue Bottlers

Map: 160 Berry Street, Brooklyn

Warm Me Up:
Crop to Cup Creating Quality Community Coffee
Give Your Monday Morning Mug a Kick in the Pants with Kicking Horse Coffee
Do This!: Eataly is Big Box Batali

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Filed under NYC Best, SF Best, {Drink Me}

Do This!: Eataly is Big Box Batali

 

Eataly Grocery: Jams, Honeys, Coffee, Chocolate...and More!

We may not have a Wal-Mart or SuperTarget in NYC, but we do have Eataly, a new take on Molto Mario that brings both imported and locally sourced artisanal Italian products to Manhattanites {and the droves of tourists lined up around the corner} in a very big way. Housed inside the old Toy Building, Eataly is grocery marketplace, coffee bar, food court, culinary classroom and a headache all under one roof. Don’t get me wrong, I love Eataly and everything it’s about, but if you thought making your way through the aisles of Fairway was bad, then prepare yourself for patience-testing as you navigate through awe-struck photogs, non-english speaking patrons and hour-long waiting periods for a table. I’ve been to Eataly twice since it opened and the best advice I can share: plan to cook Eataly-bought ingredients at home, or be willing to eat during the early bird special. I did both, so here’s the experience relived.

Walk in and bypass the Lavazza coffee bar, which will inevitably have a long line because it is right by the front door. Not far past that long line you will discover another very slick walk-up coffee bar with a large and shiny imported coffee machine that not only looks cool, but makes a mean cup of Giuseppe.

Walk Up Coffee Bar

What goes better with un cafe than beautifully decadent desserts?

Italian Pastries and Sweets

Puglian Style Mozzarella!

But after you’ve sampled a taste of Italy, make your way to my favorite part of the store, the salumi and formaggi section. Here, the best of Italian food craft is married with locally-sourced ingredients, to bring you fresh cuts of meat and cheeses, including handmade mozzarella, literally made before your very eyes. If you chat with Sal for a bit, he might even share some warm mozz right from the pot!

Sal, Your New Cheese Friend

Grab some fresh produce, which I thought all looked very nice and was reasonably priced. If you’re not one who wields a knife with ease, then pay a visit to the brilliant vegetable butcher, who will wash, clean and prep your veg in any way you would like. Why oh why has no one done this before?!?

Eataly's Fresh Produce

Vegetable Butcher -- Your Other New Friend

As if this isn’t impressive enough, as you walk deeper into the brightly lit concrete walls of this Italian megastore, you soon stumble upon another brilliant display of fresh pasta — cut, twirled and presented in a myriad of ways to make cooking fresh pasta at home, not only easy, but exciting. And if you want to really go over the top with your squid ink tagliatelle, then you can also buy white truffles at $3,400 / lb, or the more affordable black truffle for $420 / lb {what a steal!}

Eataly Fresh Pasta Counter

Want to stock up on some dried pasta for those cold winter nights? Eataly has at least 6 rows of pasta in various shapes and sizes.

Pasta di gragnano

Of course if you’re willing to wait, or eat lunch at 11:30 like we did, I highly recommend snagging a seat at one of the ristorantes to taste what all this Italian Artisanal goodness is really about. We opted for the pizza-pasta section, because it was hard not too after all the amazing s’ghetti we walked by. The meal did not disappoint. Neapolitan style pizza, simple spaghetti al pomodoro and the best dish of all, fusilli al ragu with a blend of veal, pork and beef bolognese. DE-LISH.

Wood Burning Pizza Ovens

Spaghetti al Pomodoro

Fusilli al Ragu

The Skim: Patience is a necessity when making an Eataly excursion, but you will be rewarded in every bite — whether you stop for a quick coffee fix, to stock up on the makings of your own homemade feast or successfully snag a seat for an in-store bite. Grocery must: At $3.80 for a ball of fresh mozzarella, it’s not only creamy goodness, but a steal! Menu must: Fusilli al Ragu is molto molto buono!

Map: 200 Fifth Ave {@5th Ave}

The Real Deal Italiano:
Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF
The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi
Aria Sings a Harmonious West Village Wine Bar
Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate

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Filed under Do This!, Eat Here!

Crop to Cup Creating Quality Community Coffee

Crop to Cup Coffee

Bike stop #2: Brooklyn’s Crop to Cup. We had only just finished breakfast and certainly weren’t yet in need of a caffeine pick-me-up, but couldn’t resist a stop in this quaint coffee cafe where brick walls and unmatched chairs welcome you to stop and enjoy a different kind of joe.

Crop to Cup‘s mission is to support the coffee family farmer community beyond what you can expect from Fair Trade brews, employing what they call their “20, 5, 10” program. What that means is farmers receive 20% over market price for their coffee, plus 5% of their coffee’s selling price in coffee consuming communities, plus 10% of company profits. Why should you care? Coffee farmers sell into an open market. They sell to Crop to Cup because they pay higher prices and higher prices encourages farmers to work their farms with more care and commitment creating premium quality coffee that you will no doubt taste in your cup.

There is certainly no shortage of coffee cans on the market, but why not try one that is better for you and the family farmer community. Click here to meet the family faces behind your crop and here to find C2C coffee near you. Good Coffee comes from Good People.

Crop to Cup Coffee, Brooklyn: 139 Atlantic Ave {btw Henry & Clinton St}

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee:
Give Your Monday Morning Mug a Kick in the Pants with Kicking Horse Coffee
Summer Fancy Food Show: Full Belly and Learnings Digestion
recipe goodness :: how to cook the perfect sunny side-up egg
Community Food & Juice: Fresh & Fantastic Fare

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Give Your Monday Morning Mug a Kick in the Pants with Kicking Horse Coffee

Kicking Horse Fresh Roasted Coffee Beans

Coffee is very romantic to me. There is something so soothing about waking up, with one leg still in a slumber and the other making its way toward the coffee maker. Opening the can and getting that first concentrated smell of beans that puffs out when the lid is lifted. Scoop, scoop, scoop. Grinder rattles the beans into a fine grind and then the cold water starts to drip through the coffee machine, creating an aroma of morning magic. And with a steaming, big handled mug gently gripped — the kind you can comfortably fit four fingers in — I settle on the couch and enjoy each sip of the rich, earthy goodness that starts my day with a comforting warmth {and caffeine kick}.

More than 50% of Americans drink coffee daily and as often as 3-4 times per day, which means we’re consuming more than 350 million cups of coffee a day. That sounds less romantic and more like a statistic on caffeine addicts. We’re a nation of convenient $4/cup coffee consumers who like to walk into the chain coffee counters and order our grande, skinny mochachinos with whipped cream to go. But what if you diverted that $4 towards a can of really kick-ass coffee — would that change the way you kicked-off your day?

You may remember when I wrote about my discovery of Kicking Horse Coffee at the Fancy Food Show a month ago. Lost in rows of food purveyors and low in energy, I stumbled up on their booth and a new love. My new friends at Kicking Horse Coffee were good enough to send me a can to enjoy from the comfort of my couch, and with that steaming cup in hand I want to spread the love, convert you all, and get you excited by the fact that our northern neighbors are now distributing this kickin’ craft blend in America. Here’s the scoop:

Kicking Horse Coffee Three Sisters Blend

Shakespearean Love:
I’m a sucker for creativity. Name your coffee blends something like Kick-Ass, 454 Horse Power or Cliff Hanger Espresso and you’ve not only gotten your point across, but gotten me really excited to try something that sounds more like a fun excursion than just another plain ole cup of joe. The trio of peaks known as the Three Sisters are just outside of Banff National Park near Canmore, Alberta. It is among the most photographed vistas in the Canadian Rockies and the blend I’m sipping right now pays homage to it with a triple punch of light, medium and dark roasts of Indonesian, Central and South American beans.

Quality Stands on its own Four Feet:
Beyond the name, this coffee stands strongly on its own four feet. Focused on roasting and packaging small batches daily and selling only whole beans, Kicking Horse Coffee ensures premium quality and freshness is maintained from can to cup — it’s no wonder they are outselling all other brands in Canadian grocery stores {including Starbucks!} My Three Sisters blend is a brew with a medium roast, but bold aroma and flavor that is smooth and conveys creamy, chocolately characteristics. With 17 different varieties to choose from, there is undoubtedly a brew to suit your tastes. Another cup please!

Horse with a Heart:
Kicking Horse Coffee is committed  to sustainability — through community and environmental initiatives and responsible business practices.

  • Certified Fair Trade — the company supports its farmers, regardless of the world market, which means paying fair prices and following fair labor, environmental and quality standards. As the largest cash crop in the world, this really does make a Kicking impact.
  • Certified Organic — farmers who grow coffee organically use renewable resources, conserving soil and water to sustain the environment for future generations. They protect human health by avoiding pollutants, pesticides and herbicides. And they create an ecosystem that’s healthy for wildlife and birds.
  • Sustainability — coffee blends come in cool black cans with primary color tops which catch the eye and look cool hangin’ out next to your coffee maker. But more importantly, they are North-American-made from recycled steel and can be recycled after use. Cans are the most recycled container in the world and that means less in the landfill. Recycled steel uses 75% less energy to reproduce and can be recycled an infinite amount of times — that means you might see your can again…as a coffee maker!

The only thing left to say, is you must try it yourself! You can find it on Amazon or in a growing number of grocery stores in select states — click HERE to find a location near you and start brewing.

“Life is too short to start drinking the wrong cup of coffee”
— Kicking Horse Coffee

BREW@HOME
{tips on how to brew a kick ass cup at home}

  1. Grind — Grind just before use and use just enough beans for the coffee you’re making. The grind size should be between .75 mm and 1 mm. If the grind is too coarse it will make the coffee taste weak. If the grind is too fine, it will make the coffee taste bitter or too strong.
  2. Water — Water makes up 99% of a cup of coffee. If your tap water tastes good to drink, it’s good to make coffee with. Use it cold and freshly drawn from the tap.
  3. Measurements — The suggested proportion is two heaping tablespoons for every ¾ cup of coffee. More if you’re bold, less if you’re not..
  4. Timing {french press} — The brewing, or ‘contact’ time, should be 4 to 4½ minutes. Check the grounds after brewing. Has all the coffee come in contact with the water? Are there any dry grounds of coffee? Your cup’s final optimum temperature is 140-162°F.
  5. Storage — Coffee absorbs odors and deteriorates when it contacts air. Keep your coffee tightly rolled in its valve bag or sealed in its can until you’re ready to refill the grinder. Store in a dry, cool location, but not in the fridge or freezer.
  6. Enjoy!

Looking for More Specialty Food Discoveries?
Summer Fancy Food Show: Full Belly and Learnings Digestion
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes
Do This!: Vote for The Chocolate Gallery Cafe for Best Breakfast
Going Back to the Old Country @ The New Yasmeen Bakery
recipe goodness :: gourmet grillin’ with white truffle corn

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