Author: Nastassia

Saveur’s 12 Favorite Dessert and Pastry Instagrams

When a site you love publishes their 12 Favorite Dessert and Pastry Instagrams and you are one of them, you think ‘wait what? me? really? no really?’ then you get excited, then you do the ugly cry because you are excited. An hour later you look at the list again and are in sheer admiration of the amazingly talented people in dessert and pastry and then you think ‘I’m not worthy!’. That was me last week. I’m so incredibly honored and humbled to be on this list.

Check out the full story here!

Last Minute Valentine’s Day (Sweet) Gifts | Los Angeles

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and if you haven’t already figured out what to get the sweetheart in your life here are some perfect last minute sweet treats!

The beauty of apps like Postmates and Door Dash is the ease of getting last minute treats like Joan’s on Third. You can get your goodies delivered directly to you so you can hand deliver a gift OR you can set up delivery directly to your gift recipient. So if you haven’t planned out something special for your gal pal, special someone or favorite officemate may I suggest some chocolate cloud cupcakes, sugar cookies, meringue hearts, or Valentine’s Day candies. Be it cookie, cake or chocolate, Joan’s on Third is the ideal one stop shop for the perfect Valentine’s Day sweets!

 

Cookies by Design offers same day hand delivery of their super cute cookie bouquets. Add a Build-a-Bear to your array of sweets for the ultimate give you all the feels Valentine’s Day gift. The best part – you can custom design your cookies too. Something to note for future holidays!

 

Who wouldn’t love a delivery of ice cream sandwiches? Give your special someone the gift of Coolhaus ice cream using any number of delivery services like UberEats or Caviar or stop into one of Coolhaus’ locations in Culver City and Pasadena. Chocolate cookies with strawberry ice cream certainly beats chocolate covered strawberries any day.

 

American Tea Room’s newest seasonal creation is the perfect Valentine’s Day indulgence: Organic Maraschino Rooibos tea topped with whipped cream, a cherry and a delicate dusting of MAST Brother’s Milk Chocolate. (Think hot cocoa meeting the complexity of tea.) Grab your Valentine and enjoy some time together of a cup of The Chocolate Covered Cherry is available for a limited time at both LA American Tea Room locations (Beverly Hills & Arts District) through February 28.

 

It goes without saying that the world loves macarons. They’re pretty, petite, and special. And they fit snuggly into a bouquet of flowers for a delicious and creative twist to your Valentine’s Day flowers. Not going the flower route? They work perfectly on their own too and an assorted box of rose, chocolate cherry, raspberry and mandarin from Napoleon’s Macarons at the Americana at Brand are all the sweet shades of Valentine’s Day. There is plenty of parking which makes it easy to run over and pick up a quick last minute gift.

 

 

Hot Chocolate For the Best Valentine’s Day Ever!

I’ve been a big fan of Morning Glory Confections for years now. I love the fun and unique brittle flavors they make and I love giving them as gifts. If you catch them at a farmer’s market or artisan food show you have to make a stop and enjoy one of their delicious baked goods, especially the brownies. So what this is really is a little love story just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s a love story about my love of Morning Glory Confections.

And perfectly timed for Valentine’s Day, they came out with two new drinking chocolates (classic and spicy) that you guessed it, I LOVE! I used their classic drinking chocolate to create the ultimate Valentine’s Day indulgence. Enjoy it in the morning with a shot of espresso or to get cozy at the end of your romantic evening (it goes great with a shot of whiskey).

This is the perfect indulgence for these chilly days and nights. To add to the goodness I whipped up some homemade marshmallows to go on top. If this intimidates you let me tell you right now that marshmallows are easy to make. They are. Not scary. Just takes a bit of planning. They can be made the night before or in the morning to enjoy in the evening. A few simple steps and some time for the marshmallows to form and you’ve got yourself a tasty topping for your drinking chocolate. Check out the recipe below. And if you head over to Morning Glory Confections online shop you can get 20% off your order with my code LMEC20!

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Best Mochi in Los Angeles

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What I love most about Los Angeles is that even having grown up here there is always something new to discover. LA has so many neighborhoods  and hidden gems to explore. Plus there is such amazing diversity in this city, it makes the neighborhoods and the neighborhood eateries that much more interesting.

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Take for example when I stumbled upon the sweetest fresh mochi shop in Little Tokyo, Downtown LA just a few weeks ago. I’ve been in and around downtown hundreds of times, but this little shop was not on my radar. Then over coffee and catching up with a pal she asked if I had ever been to Fugetsu-Do. I had never even heard of it when she mentioned it and she was shocked. Immediately after coffee I headed down the street to see what it was all about.

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Fugetsu-Do is known for traditional Japanese confections – mochi and manju. It has been operating in Los Angeles since 1903. Yeah 1903 and I only now stumbled upon it! It is run by the Kito family and was opened by Seiichi Kito. It was then managed by his son Roy Kito, and today his son Brian Kito manages it. They continue to supply mochi to Japanese markets, restaurants, and cafes around LA and beyond.

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It is a simple space and when walking in you would think not much has changed, but that is also part of the charm. They have a pastry case full of different mochi and manju.

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You can buy it by the piece or by the box. I got a sampling of 4 to start. Two of which ended up being the same thing whoops, I need to brush up on the Japanese flavor description for my next visit. The mochi was so pillowy soft and delicately sweet. I preferred the just mochi slices to the filled mochi. My favorite of which was the blueberry mochi, make sure to try this if you visit them. They sell other Japanese sweets and treats too beyond mochi if you are looking for more.

I’m now inspired to see what other hidden in plain sight treats await me in my own city! Have a spots like this in your city? Let me know in the comments below or share with me on Instagram @LetMeEatCake.

Fugetsu-Do

315 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Exploring Todos Santos

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The last port stop of my Mexican Riviera Cruise with Princess Cruises was Cabo San Lucas. Known for its resort filled beaches, I opted to take a quaint day tour of neighboring Todos Santos.

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Todos Santos is a town on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula just 50 minutes north of Cabo. It’s know for its artist culture and many art galleries, as well as its beaches for surfing. Just wandering around the half dozen blocks of town I quickly discovered that what was an artist haven for any was a paleta wonderland for me.

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Probably best know is Paleteria La Paloma. It’s towards the edge of town and well frequented. They have a nice selection of paletas, but you can also grab a scoop on a cone if that is more what you are in the mood for. And at around $1 each why not have both!

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Towards the center of town near the galleries is Rocco Ice Cream. Just on a side street, it is hard to is the perfect pastel pink wall. There is no seating her like at Paleteria La Paloma so hop in, grab a paleta for the road and continue exploring.

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On this port excursion you have plenty of time in town so take your time and have a meal or two. Here are some of my other non-sweet faves:

Alma y Mannys (breakfast)
La Bodega de Todos Santos (wine)
Tacos y Mariscos Sinaloense (lunch)
Tre Galline (breakfast, dinner)
Todos Santos Inn (dinner)

This post was sponsored by Princess Cruises. All opinions expressed here are my own.

 

Best Desserts in Mazatlan

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If you’ve been reading my most recent post then you know I’ve been giving you some sweet tips on how to indulge in Princess Cruises. Well beyond sea days, which you are a sweets pro at now, there were also port days.
Last Fall I took a Mexican Riviera cruise with Princess Cruises. It was 4 nights at sea with 3 port stops. The first port we landed in was Puerto Vallarta. I hadn’t been to any of our stops which is what was so exciting about taking the cruise. I loved sleeping through the night and waking up in a new location the next day.

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We did not have much time to explore Puerto Vallarta because our excursions took up most of the day. We took the boat ride to a small fishing village and a hike to a waterfall. It was just as magical as it sounds. While we didn’t have much time to explore the city, some of our friends that were also on the trip were lucky enough to find freshly fried churros on their way back to the boat. I will definitely be on the look out for this when I visit again!

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The next day we docked in Mazatlan. Here we had an early morning hike and plenty of time to explore the town. While this wasn’t my favorite excursion I was so excited to get some time to discover local sweets. The town center of Mazatlan was very easy to walk, it centers around the cathedral. You can also make your way back to the boat from here on foot, there are painted lines on the sidewalks that direct you back to port.

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We headed straight to the cathedral because after a bit of dessert researh we discovered there was a raspados (Mexican shaved ice) truck known to park out front. We watched as the owner scrapped big blocks of ice into shavings and topped it with homemade syrups. It was sweet and refreshing!

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We took our raspados for a stroll around the cathedral and stumbled upon a small ice cream cart. Two young boys were operating the cart that was filled with ice and silver canisters of homemade ice cream. How lucky were we to stumble upon this. We ordered a scoop of burnt milk (leche quemada) and roasted corn (elote). So fresh and so delicious.

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Walking across the town square enjoying our ice cream, what do we see but a beautiful paleta (Mexican popsicles) shop. So naturally after some raspados and helado why not enjoy a paleta. You only live once right! We got guava paleta for the road and continued our explorations.

This story is really starting to remind me of those children’s books If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. Did you read those? Some of my favorite childhood books and the story here seems strikingly similar because right after we found the paleta low and behold we found the cutest dulceria (candy shop) right next door. On a real sugar high at this point we bought a few bags of homemade caramels and candied nuts to enjoy later on the boat. To see more about their process and a peek inside the shop check out my video below. We watched as a shop girl made the candy coating for the nuts!

Puerto Vallarta was a beautiful adventure and Mazatlan was a sweet journey. Next up Cabo San Lucas…

This post was sponsored by Princess Cruises. All opinions expressed here are my own.

 

Cruising the Mexican Riviera with Princess Cruises

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At the end of last year I went on a cruise of the Mexican Riviera with Princess Cruises. Living in Los Angeles it was such an easy getaway, a short drive to the port in San Pedro and I was off on a 7 day cruise. This was my first large cruise and getting into I really didn’t know what to expect, but I’m happy to report that I LOVED it!

Our Mexican Riviera Cruise included 3 days (4 nights) at sea and 3 port stops to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. In a previous blog post I already shared the incredible Chocolate Journeys they offer aboard all of the ships (check back if you are a chocolate lover!). And later I’ll give you a glimpse into some port stops, but for now I want to give you some tips and tricks to enjoying the sweeter side of your days at sea!

Here are some insider tips to enjoying the best sweets aboard the Ruby Princess:

Pastries from International CafeBreakfast : For breakfast you are going to want to hit the International Café if you are looking for pastries. This is your spot for croissants, muffins, filled donuts, and danishes. It is easy to grab a few treats and a cup of coffee and cozy up to one of the window seats or grab your treat to-go and enjoy them on one of the decks. There are many other dining/buffet options open for breakfast, but you won’t find this assortment of pastries there.

 

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All Day Treat : If you are looking for an after lunch treat, a mid-day snack, or even a pre-dinner indulgence you can always count on the soft serve. Available at the soft serve counter at the middle of the pool, you are able to enjoy endless cones of soft serve. Vanilla, chocolate, or a swirl are your choices and sprinkles are optional (well are they really? who could say no!). And if soft serve isn’t calling to you, you can always go for a milkshake instead.

 

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Sweet : I don’t know about you, but I love a good High Tea. And if you are like me and tea is your thing then you are in luck because you can enjoy a sit down High Tea service 3:30pm-4:30pm. Expect to find a selection of tea, finger sandwiches, cookies, cakes, and oh so delicious scones and clotted cream. If you happen to be by a pool or at The Sanctuary have no fear, you can also enjoy tea service al fresco just look around for the servers with the tea carts.

Milk and Cookie Room Service

Not in the mood for tea? Well you have a few options available to satisfy that sweet tooth. Princess Cruises offers a daily ‘cookies and milk break’ featuring you guesed it, chocolate chip cookies at milk. You can find this at the International Café, around the pool areas or you can order it to your room just before or after you nap.

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If you happen to be out and about walking the ship there is one other afternoon treat option for you. Head on over to the Horizon Court where daily you can enjoy a rotating selection of cakes and confections in the afternoon.

 

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Evening Indulgence : Each restaurant aboard the ship not only offers a delicious dessert to end your meal, but you specifically a unique Chocolate Journey treat depending on which dining option you are enjoying. There is always room for dessert and these are not to be missed.

So many sweets, so little time!

Sunset from the Ruby Princess

This post was sponsored by Princess Cruises. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Top 10 Sweets of 2016

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This year was filled with so much sweetness it was hard to narrow down a few of the best. I ate cake by the ocean, I devoured my weight in soft serve, I enjoyed new delicious donuts, and so much more. I traveled to new places this year and spent so much time on the road at points it even felt like I was hardly ever home. Along the way I enjoyed some memorable desserts that made 2016 one sweet year!

Here are ten of my favorite confections of the year:

fullsizerender I went to Sydney Australia for the first time this year to visit my good friends that were living there at the time. Beyond what seems like endless beautiful beaches, Sydney has an awesome dessert scene. From my 10 days there it was clear that Sydney was just like me — this city had a major sweet tooth! They have artisan ice cream, nouveau soft serve, elevated lamingtons, pastries galore, and tons of doughnuts. Doughnut Time not only makes small batch, hand-dipped doughnuts, they also have an array of douhgnut shakes. Why have just a doughnut when you can have a milkshake too!

 

fullsizerender_2I know Sidecar Doughnuts opened in LA at the end of last year, but having it even closer than before has been a game changer this year. Now what used to be an occasional special treat has become a monthly pilgramage. I still love their classics like butter salt, but I come in monthly to check out their specials. Sidecar remains my favorite doughnut in the U.S.!

 

fullsizerender_3Being a native Angeleno I have been to Univeral Studios more times than I can count. It has been fun seeing how it has evolved and how the rides and space have changed. This year I got myself an annual pass because: it’s an easy trip to get there, Harry Potter (duh!), and so that I can make donut runs. Yes, I’m not even kidding about the donut run thing. In the Simpsons area of the park there are so many fun themed treats, my favorite of which is Lard Lad Donuts. Despite it being amusement park food, these donuts are legit. They come in regular sized and extra large, the later of which is like a big cake with tons of frosting. For added indulgence walk across the way to Phineas Q. Butterfat’s Ice Cream Parlor and you can get a donut sundae!

 

fullsizerender_5I have a confession to make, I’m not a huge chocolate lover. I’m super picky about it and it’s not often my first choice when ordering dessert. With that said, the chocolate treats aboard Princess Cruises may have changed my chocolate views. In partnership with Norman Love, Princess Cruises offers an exclusive Chocolate Journeys program available onboard fleetwide. There are different chocolate treats at various dining spots on board like this soft serve (which was limitless I may add). My favorites were the select artfully designed deserts available after dinner. This fun and unique offering was one sweet perk of cruising with Princess.

 

fullsizerender-10I visited Scottsdale this Fall to explore their culinary scene. I did not know what to expect having only passed through the Phoenix area in the past. Not only is this city gorgeous, it is bursting with delicious food. From farmers market sweets stalls to fine dining restaurants to holel dining, this is a city that likes to eat. I enjoyed checking out the local flavor from chocolateirs, olive oil producers that make sweets too, heritage grain farmers, bakeshops, and one of the best ice cream shops – Sweet Republic. They have been in the game since 2008 churning artisan ice cream with milk from local dairies in classic and unique flavors. It was so hard to choose, but I opted for a Toffee Banofi sundae. Go big or go home right?

 

fullsizerender-9 While in the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California this October our group enjoyed what for me was one of the best meals I enjoyed this year. It was at Traslomitas, the restaurant attached to the Lomita Winery. I’ve been to the Valle a few times in the past, but somehow each visit I missed Lomita. For what seems like a relatively small place there is seems to be so much to eat and drink. If you make a trip to the Valle de Guadalupe make sure this is on your list and make a reservation at Traslomita. The cooking her is phenomenal set right outdoors next to the winery. And while it may be difficult, save room for dessert because the treats here are GOOD! Pictured dulce de leche banana pudding with fresh whipped cream and toasted pistachios it was gone in 30 secs it was perfection.

 

fullsizerender-8A little over a year ago I took a flight up to San Franscisco for the day because I wanted to try Mr. Holmes Bakehouse’s famed cruffin that I had been seeing all over Instagram. I’m crazy about my desserts and LA to SF was a short flight. So I take the flight, but I didnt’ get said cruffin becuase they had sold out! So i made my way back to San Francisco this year and finally got a cruffin. They I got a few donuts, a croissant, and a pop tart too. The story doesn’t end there. After getting myself back to San Francisco and finally getting that cruffin, Mr.Holmes Bakehouse opened a location in Highland Park a mere 25 minutes away from me just a month later. So I didn’t need to fly back but cest la vie, now I can have Mr. Holmes whenever I please.

 

fullsizerender_6Right after my trip to Australia I went on my first ever cruise. It was a Viking Cruise through Provence and the Rhone Valley in France. Lucky for me I was with the best ever travel companions Krista and Aida. Together we ate our way through every market, hall,boulangerie, and patisserie we could find. My favorite of which was Baking Company Avignon. The quaint shop is tucked away down one of the many tiny winding streets in this provencial town. They have pastries, macarons, and merignues here that are perfect on the go while you are exploring the sites.

 

fullsizerender_1After that trip to France I was lucky enough to get to explore Spain’s Basque country with my best friends. We started in Bilbao for a few days, got a car and drove along the coast. While I loved each of our stops, Bilbao was my favorite and my favorite sweet find in this city were these outrageously gorgeous Carolinas. Carolinas are typical pastries found northern in Spain, specifically Bilbao. They consist of a tart made of puff pastry or pastry filled with cream or coconut cake, and a generous pompadour of meringue. If you are in Bilbao and seek these out, go to Pasteleria Suiza for the good stuff.

 

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When in Rome, don’t miss Pasticceria Regoli. One of the oldest pastry shops in the city, thier sweets still sell out daily. They are known for their maritozzi, a sweet bun topped with heavy whipped cream, which makes a perfect breakfast with a cappuccino at the counter. Cross over to the take-away side of the shop and you’ll be amazed at the variety of beautiful pastries and cakes.

Chocolate Journeys

In partnership with Norman Love, Princess Cruises offers an exclusive Chocolate Journeys program available onboard fleetwide. Love’s creations blend premium quality chocolate and artful design. This fun and unique offering was one sweet perk of cruising with Princess. Each dining option on board has different Chocolate Journey desserts available.

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Daily you can choose from delectable chocolate options throughout the day in the Horizon Court Buffet. During my trip I anxiously watched as the selection changed from chocolate muffins to slices of cakes and puddings.

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You’ll find Norman Love’s artful chocolate creations on various dining room desserts menus. At the Chef’s Table dinner you are treated to an array of chocolate delights. This special dining experience starts your night in the kitchen with the Executive chef and ends with a what seems like an endless selection of chocolate-y treats.

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You can also purchase exclusive Norman Love confections in the various gift shops. AND there is even Chocolate Spa Treatments! You can indulge in a luscious, anti-oxidant chocolate body treatment. You leave smelling like one big chocolate bar.

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Suffice it to say, if you are a chocolate lover this is the cruise for you!

Here is a teaser of just one of the desserts you can enjoy. Check out the plating of one of the Chocolate Journey desserts…