MatchaBar

Finally made it to MatchaBar. After a fantastic Japanese set lunch at Okonomi in Brooklyn, my friends and I walked over to MatchaBar a few blocks away.

It's the very first cafe with a matcha focus in New York City, and since I LOVEEEE matcha, I had to make sure to go for a visit, even if it seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere in Brooklyn -- well, Williamsburg, but not too close to a subway station.

After looking over the menu posted on the wall above the counter, I went with an iced matcha watermelon. The watermelon sweetened the matcha perfectly and it was surprising how well the flavors went together. 

Counter is on the left when you walk in and there's seating up front, along the opposite side of the counter, and a communal table in the back. I wished the interior of the cafe had a more refined look to it. 

Baked goods are in a case by the register. There weren't a lot of choices (as in 4-5 baked goods) and not everything was made with matcha, but the matcha canelé caught my eye.

We sat along the wall on stools and sipped our matcha drinks and munched on our sweets.

INFO: MatchaBar | 93 Wythe Ave. | Brooklyn, NY 11249 | 718.599.0015

Posted on October 17, 2014 .

San Francisco // Kensington Park Hotel

You know those people who don't care about the hotel when traveling since they say you're only in the room to sleep? I'm not one of those people. I care about the quality of my sleep too much.  

Aside from comfort, when looking for a hotel, it's all about location, location, location. Throw in complimentary Wi-Fi, and a tea (and sherry) hour, a plush bed, and great service, you've got me sold. 

While in San Francisco, I stayed at the Kensington Park Hotel which delivered on all counts. 

I loved the location of the hotel at Union Square, which was super close to everything including cable car stops. 

My friend Michele and I were pretty tired from our delayed flight so we were happy to check in to the hotel right away to settle in a bit then go out to explore before our early dinner. My travel style? Like the elderly. That's how I roll.

At the front desk, we were given key cards to our room with a corner view (two windows) and two double beds. When asked if we wanted suggestions on things to do in the city, a map magically appeared and markings were made to indicate where the hotel was and what area to avoid. The map was super handy in figuring out public transportation, especially the bus routes. (I love taking buses -- elderly travel style all the way.)

I'm not a fan of patterned comforters that YOU JUST KNOW hotels never wash, so I was delighted to see the beds looking so inviting with super crisp, white sheets and comforter covers.

Bathrobes were hanging in the closet, but no slippers. I called the front desk and inquired about slippers, and a couple of calls later, found out they no longer provide them -- bummer.

There isn't air conditioning in the room, but we went when the weather was in the 60's so we didn't need it anyway. There is a giant fan hanging in the room though.

A peek into the bathroom. We did have a problem with the plumbing and someone came up to our room to fix it, although it seemed like it was an ongoing minor issue. Not sure if it's a hotel-wide thing or our room thing. 

Plenty of towels, which I like. 

Bathroom amenities: Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, shower cap, shoe mitt, and makeup remover wipes. Super nice touch with the makeup remover wipes. 

The "Ph" stands for Personality Hotels. The Kensington Park Hotel is a part of their collection of hotels in San Francisco.

After settling in, we headed back downstairs to the lobby for tea and sherry hour. 

One thing to note is that they had a bottle of wine with two glasses on the desk in our room which we didn't touch. I'm always a little wary of things left in the room without any notes to let you know if it's complimentary or not. The bottled waters were clearly labeled as an extra charge though so I'm assuming the wine was complimentary, but it's always nice not to have to guess.

Cold and hot tea for me, sherry for Michele, although after a sip, she opted instead for tea. This is one of those things where you think "why doesn't every hotel do this?" since it was such a nice gesture for hotel guests.

Overall, a lovely stay at the hotel. I slept soooo well on that bed. We spent three nights at the hotel and when checking out, it took 2 minutes. 

INFO: Kensington Park Hotel | 450 Post Street | San Francisco, CA 94102| 415.788.6400

//I received a media rate for my stay at the Kensington Park Hotel. All content and opinions expressed here are my own.//

Posted on October 15, 2014 .

All the Touristy Things I Did in San Francisco or How I Spent the Entire Time Riding Cable Cars

The only other time I visited San Francisco was when I was in elementary school and my family drove up the west coast, so the city is all fairly new to me. When visiting a place, I don't mind doing touristy things since I enjoy it usually. (I'm a native New Yorker and I love doing touristy things here.)

Here's what I did in San Francisco when I wasn't eating. (See everything I ate on this trip.)

I couldn't miss out on seeing the the Full House houses. They're called the Painted Ladies and they are made up of seven Victorian houses. With downtown as the backdrop and the houses vibrant in color, it's easy to see why there were a ton of people standing in the park taking photos.

Then this happened. I rode a cable car for the first time. I was HOOKED. (Thankfully I got day passes at a Walgreens to get my money's worth. A one day pass is $15 and a single ride on a cable car is a whopping $6 so yes, it's for tourists only.)

The entire trip was me trying to ride the cable cars as many times as I could.

I rode the cable car during the day.

I rode the cable car at night.

I rode the cable car sitting down. I rode the cable car standing up. (You should have seen the death grip I had on the pole while riding up front, standing.)

The lines can get long, but for me, totally worth it. It's like a roller coaster for the elderly. I loved it.

So picturesque! Famous for being the crookedest street with eight hairpin turns on a single block, Lombard Street is always camera-ready with its lush greens and pops of soft pink.

I walked up the steps to the top of the block, then walked back down and took some more pics. It was a workout. 

But don't worry. A cable car was never too far away.

Have suggestions on what should I do the next time I'm in San Francisco?

 

Posted on October 13, 2014 .

AlmondMade + Dona Chai = Perfect Together

Queenie, this blog's cooking/baking guru, has been busy the last few months with AlmondMade, an exceptional almond milk that's currently available in select bakeries and coffee shops in NYC including Arcade Bakery, Everyman Espresso, and Little Collins. It was Queenie who told me about Dona Chai, a Brooklyn based company that makes a delicious chai tea concentrate.

I love my from-scratch chai recipe but I'm also super lazy, so I was delighted to have access to a shortcut to a great cup of chai. I made a quick chai latte by heating up the chai tea concentrate (1/2 cup), then the almond milk (1/2 cup), and using a milk frother, quickly frothed the milk. It was so easy, and so good. In less than 4 minutes, I had a perfect cup of frothy chai latte. I'll be drinking this all winter.

//Thanks to AlmondMade and Dona Chai for the complimentary samples. All content and opinions expressed are my own.//

Posted on October 9, 2014 .

Everything I Ate in San Francisco

I was in San Francisco for 2.5 days and here is everything I ate.

At Craftsman and Wolves, my friend Michele and I shared the Rebel Within (a savory muffin with a soft cooked egg in the middle - OH YEAH), chilled corn soup (I could have this every single day; it was delicious.), and BLT with candied bacon that we both thought was way too sweet.

Chocolate (duh) at Dandelion Chocolate included a hot chocolate with unlimited marshmallows that you can get in a case at the counter, Frozen Mocha (ice chips were too big so it was hard to drink with a straw), and S'more that was toasted to order, which was just ok. Super soft marshmallows dipped into hot chocolate was the favorite.

Morning Bun at Tartine Bakery was eaten by peeling off layer by lovely layer. Loved that they had a quince iced green tea which was very refreshing and full of flavor.

I had a great afternoon tea at The Fairmont San Francisco with friends Michele and Julia. Solid afternoon tea for just $39/pp. (Read my review.)

My friend Rob lives in San Francisco and he recommended Kingdom of Dumpling, this hole-in-the-wall he goes on a weekly basis which has great Chinese food. The soup dumplings were fantastic, but I loved the Garlic String Bean the most.

Rob also took my travel buddy, Michele, and I to Smitten Ice Cream, where ice cream is made to order using liquid nitrogen. They make it right in front of you. And the ice cream itself? So good.

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The Slanted Door was also heavily recommended, but it was a miss for me. We ordered the pork belly (too big of an order for an appetizer and way too heavy), and two kinds of noodles, one with crab, and one with vegetables (it was good, but not memorable). They did have something that I did love -- the cotton candy dessert (I love cotton candy)! We came back the next day to have it in the lounge area since we didn't know they had it the first time we went. Thanks to the sweet couple I met at Song Tea & Ceramics who told me about it!

TIP: The cotton candy comes as part of the Confection Plate ($10) with a selection of sweets, but you can just order the cotton candy on its own for $6.

Everyone told me I should go to Bi-Rite Creamery and I got the roasted banana on a cone. I don't know...it was good, but not exceptional as expected.

You can't go to San Francisco without a stop in at Blue Bottle. The one at the Ferry Building has caramelized Belgian waffles that are made to order which makes for a tasty breakfast, especially when paired with a latte.

But really, everything is GARBAGE compared to this AMAZING Kouign-amann from b. patisserie. It was so good I wanted to cry. HOLY CRAP, it was beyond perfect. There should be love songs written about this pastry. A trip to San Francisco is totally worth it just for this.