Archive of ‘Sweets I Eat When I Travel’ category

Coachella 2014 Dessert Guide

Coachella Weekend 2 is upon us. For those of you planning your weekend eating and drinking, I have a guide to some of the best Coachella dessert options!

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Located in the Terrace dining area near the Do Lab and those awesome fish tacos are an array of artisan purveyors. I particularly enjoyed the refreshing selection of handmade popsicles from Sweet Clementines. Lemon Buttermilk was tart and light and their Strawberry Rose was just blissful ($5).

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If you haven’t discovered already on this blog, Le Bon Garcon are my favorite French style caramels. It was such a pleasant surprise to find them in the Terrace Dining area. You can grab a pocket ful of these carames ($5) and enjoy a sweet little bit throughout the day. The sea salt caramels are soft, smooth and satisfying.

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Portand darling Salt & Straw is at Coachella this year offering their delectable ice cream and they are stationed right next to Stumptown – double win! Their Arbequina olive oil is one of my favorite flavors so I was stocked to find it on the menu. Paired with Coffee bourbon and you are set. Single scoops are $7 so opt for the double $10, you deserve it.

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An LA fave dessert shop has found it’s way to the desert – Creme Caramel LA. You can take a little mid day breather and treat yourself to the mid day sweets break and enjoy the BEST creme caramel EVER! Other menu options include, upside down pies, frozen vanilla custard bombs and some jazzed up rice crispy snacks. Go!

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For those who like their sweet a little savory, you can enjoy an awesome arepa treat from multiple stands throughout the field. Sweet griddle corn, ooey gooey mozarella with a health drizzle of honey. It’s the honey that makes it.

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And of course the best for last… Coolhaus. A Coachella VIP favorite, regulars come back for ice cream sammie goodness year after year and for good reason – it’s good! I opted for a Strawberry Mojito scoop last weekend, but this weekend I’m going for the gold and getting a Potato chip butterscotch cookie + Fried Chicken Caramel ice cream sammie. Bring it.

Enough sweets to fill your entire week. Happy dessert-ing.

#FreeConeDay Touring Ben & Jerry’s HQ

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Did you hear? Today is Ben & Jerry’s Annual FREE CONE DAY! Some may say the happiest day of the year and I wouldn’t disagree, it certainly is the Ben & Jerriest day of the year.  Scoop shops around the world will be dishing out free cups and cones* TODAY! This annual event actually began 35 years ago when Ben & Jerry’s wanted to say “thank you!” to their beloved ice cream fans and the community that supported them after their first year of business. And thankfully this awesome day has been a tradition ever since.  I recently had the privilage of spending two days in Burlington Vermont with the Ben & Jerry’s team on a press trip. Here is a glimpse into those magical ice cream filled days…

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We went to the Ben & Jerry’s Headquarters and met the team. Everyone was so welcoming and kind (and they all get 3 free pints a day!). We toured the offices, ate ice cream, went down a slide and learned more about the company in Scoop U! I think one of my biggest take-aways from this trip was really understanding the Ben & Jerry’s social mission. It is truly impressive to see how involved in social activism and values of Fair Trade sourcing the company is. Read more here.

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We spent some time with the R&D team learning more about their super premium ice creams. We cut into some pints to test quality, consistency and distribution of chunks and swirls. This was my first meeting with their Milk and Cookies flavor (see above) and it was love at first bite. I will never forget you Milk and Cookies xoxo!

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Then we got a chance to divide up into teams and create our own fantasy flavor! My team consisted of SoCal pals Cathy, Matt and Erin. While our creation wasn’t the winning flavor, it was a winner in our hearts and bellies!

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We also toured the Ben & Jerry’s facility in Waterbury. We got a peak into the factory and enjoyed ice cream fresh off the production line. We even got a chance to literally cut right into all of the NEW Core flavors.

All in all it was an incredible two days in Vermont. I met knew bloggers and enjoyed the company of old blogging pals. We ate well and the ice cream never stopped flowing.  I left an even bigger fan of chunks and swirls!

Now off to get my #freeconeday ice cream cone!

* To confirm Free Cone Day participation and hours, make sure to check out the Scoop Shop Locator at http://www.benjerry.com or contact your local Scoop Shop in advance.

National Donut Day!

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Everyday is National Donut Day isn’t it? Well, I guess technically it is not, although it certainly feels like it or maybe it’s more that I make everyday National Donut Day. But today is in fact National Donut Day, so happy National Donut Day!

Whether you are in LA, NYC, ATX, PDX or any other wonderful city or town there is a donut out there calling your name. Answer the call – eat a donut today!

Los Angeles, CA

DonutDay

In a city filled with donut shops, there is no shortage of options for celebrating National Donut Day, but how about we get creative. What if I told you that to celebrate you could enjoy with a donut ice cream sammie? Two wonderful sweets together as one. Two please! Today Coolhaus and Donut Snob join forces to offer a limited number of donut ice cream sammies. A vanilla glazed donut with some coffee ice cream sounds like a match made in dessert heaven!   <Available at the Coolhaus Culver City shop after 6pm while supplies last>

Austin, TX

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You can enjoy the same fun donut ice cream sammie offering from the Coolhaus ATX truck parked at 6th and Waller from 6pm-midnight! Enjoy a local farmers market fave Red Rabbit vanilla lavendar donuts paired with Coolhaus mango sorbet and Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream. Yum!

OR you can always hunt down my Austin decadent donut fave Gourdoughs. Have a Funky Monkey for me will ya!

New York City, NY

churro_doughnuts

You New Yorkers are blessed with having Doughnut Plant on your island. I’m jealous! If I lived in NY I’d likely have a doughnut a day. Do you? Break that Doughnut Plant routine just this once and celebrate National Donut Day with a different kind of donut. Head over to Tres Carnes to enjoy a double smoked churro donuts filled with crema de carmelo from Fanny Gerson (owner of LaNewyorkina). If that description didn’t make your mouth water, one look at these beauties will. I want one! Have one for me, pretty please.

Portland, OR

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I just returned from Portland. I ate A LOT… of donuts. They were so good, but Blue Star Donuts, well those are the best seriously! Bourbon Blueberry Basil was the standout donut for me. Imaginative flavors, freshly fried fluffy fat donuts. These donuts are magical. Portland go get one of these to celebrate!

 

Happy donut eating!

Gourdoughs | Austin, TX

Gourdoughs Donuts

Big Fat Donuts

I recenty returned from 8 busy days in Austin for SXSW. The highlight of my trip was definitely Gourdoughs. Big. Fat. Donuts. The name says it all, if you’re in a diet these aren’t for you. Fried to order, hefty donuts with ooey gooey toppings. My idea of heaven.

Gourdoughs Donuts

You can enjoy Gourdoughs two ways – at their Public House which is more of a sit down casual restuarant or at their vintage airstream trailer. I opted for the later, it seemed fitting. The menu is impressive with more flavors options than I would have ever dreamed of. At $4.50 a pop and given their size, it is tough to narrow your choices down to just a donut or two. After thoughtful deliberation I settled on two donuts (and took two cinnamon sugar donuts togo to bring back to LA and they microwave up like a dream).

Funky Monkey Donut - Gourdoughs Austin, TX

The Funky Monkey has grilled bananas, cream cheese icing and brown sugar. The donut is served hot out of the fryer so the exterior has a nice delicate crispiness and the inside is pillowy soft. The cream cheese icing melts into the warm donut as you cut into it. The grilled bananas are tender and the brown sugar brings the whole thing together. Eating these donuts is a loud affair. Take a bite and your eyes light up with joy and you can’t help by exclaim just how good these donuts are, at least that was my experience. That and a big scream when we pulled up to the trailer.

Son of a Peach - Gourdoughs Austin, TX

Son of a Peach is filled with peach pie filling and topped with cinnamon sugar and cake mix topping. At first I was perplexed by the cake mix topping, but it works. This is the donut version of a summer peach pie. Sweet, suple and satisfying.

Austin is an amazing city. Small enough that it is easy to navigate, lively enough that you will never get bored and packed with an inpired and delicious food scene. The purpose of my Austin trip was work. I recently got a new job! Yay! It’s still food related, but more sweets focused. You can find me working with Coolhaus (architecturally inspired ice cream sammies) so holler if you’re at a truck, find us in a market or stop by the LA shop! New job, new life direction, and new favorite donut. A lot of new and exciting changes for me, wish me luck!

Buñuelos | Tinto Palm Springs

These buñuelos have stolen my heart.

You can find them at Tinto restaurant tucked away in the Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs. They are an hour and a half drive outside of LA but so worth the trip and a great excuse to visit beautiful Palm Springs. And hey it’s Coachella weekend so why not visit Tinto while you’re in town. I know I will!

These delectable doughnuts are fried to perfection with a delicate sugar coated crust that gives way to a rich and soft center. They are served alongside spiced honey, date jam and a refreshingly delicious date olive oil ice cream.  The pairing of honey, spices and sweet dates was incredible. A bite of  buñuelo, jam, honey and cold soft olive oil ice cream and you’re in heaven.  It is a stellar combination of flavors and textures that will make your mouth curl up in a big smile as you sigh from the sweet satisfaction. These are some of my favorite buñuelos to date.

 

TINTO

1800 East Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92264

Eating My Way Through Vietnam | pt. 2

Vietnam left an indelible impression on me. Walking the street in the sweltering heat with motorbikes whizzing past every which way, it was hard to not feel exhilarated and excited by Vietnam’s fast beating pulse.  The cities are packed to the gills with vendors of every sort – it is hard to not fall in love with the crackles, sizzles and the savory smells from all of the extraordinary street food. With so many memorable bites and over 1200 pictures that capture our unforgettable experience it is hard to share it all, but here are some highlights (mostly sweet) from the rest of our vacation.

While enjoying a tasty bowl of pho bo at a streetside café in Hanoi, we stumbled upon an unassuming dessert from a vendor walking by selling varieties of sticky rice. I had no clue what it was so had to ask my guide to all Vietnamese cuisine, Cathy. We believe it is banh it ngot (correct me if I’m wrong) – they were sweet and sticky coin shaped purses filled with sweet mung bean paste, and they had a wonderfully chewy bite.

 

Vietnam has fresh squeeze juices covered! We found a café serving nothing but fresh squeezed juice (nouc ep) in any variety of fruit you desire. It was so good we made several visits, each time ordering seconds. The fresh guava juice was my favorite. The guava was sweet and floral with a nice, almost grassy essence from the fruit’s rind.  Nuoc ep can be found throughout Vietnam. Don’t miss out.

 

We had one last delicious night in Hanoi before we were off to Hue. We delighted in what I will boldly declare the best ice cream ever at the Fanny Ice Cream Parlor next to Hoan Kiem Lake. The coconut ice cream is milky, a little nutty and super creamy smooth. The banana ice cream is sweet and wonderfully gooey. The passion fruit ice cream (not pictured) is puckery tart and refreshing. AND on Fridays they offer an all you can eat ice cream night!

As in Hanoi, the streets of Hue are filled with life. We slurped up bánh beo, we ate our weight in bánh mi, we devoured banh xeo, we chased bikes strapped with racks full of steaming hot bánh bao and we slowly savored chè (Vietnamese sweet soup that is super gelatinous and gooey).

One of my favorites in Hue was the nuoc mia – super sweet, yet surprisingly refreshing freshly-pressed sugar cane juice. It was so addictively good it disappeared within a matter of seconds.

 

From Hue we ended our trip in Hoi An, a calm and quaint beach town. I will always miss Hoi An and its famous Cao Lầu (thick, chewy yellow noodles, roasted pork shoulder, a porky broth and fresh herbs topped with crunchy pork cracklings- swine heaven). My favorite sweet find in Hoi An was the sinh to from Mai N:4 inside the central market. This smoothie was velvety, rich and bursting with fresh bananas, mangos and topped with thick toasted coconut strands.

All in all, Vietnam is truly a gastronomical wonderland. Each region is rich with its own specialties that surprise and delight. My belly and I miss Vietnam!

 

* side note: being the donut loving fiend that I am, I sampled fried doughy delights wherever I found them throughout Vietnam. I even went out of my way (one expensive cab ride later) to find a German-owned doughnut shop outside of Hanoi. Each and every time, the doughnuts were a disappointment: dry, oily, lifeless.  If you know something I don’t about doughnuts in Vietnam please share.

* favorite experience: spending two days in the breathtakingly beautiful Halong Bay aboard a “traditional junk.”  The emerald sea provided mile upon mile of striking scenery.  We took a small bamboo boat through a fishing village, swam in the bay, climbed through a cave and enjoyed bia (Vietnamese beer) on the boat’s deck as the sun set.

* and here is a pic of the Cau Lau I mentioned previously, it is a Hoi An specialty and i miss it daily!

 

Eating My Way Through Hanoi, Vietnam

It has only been a little over a week since I returned from vacation in Vietnam and it already feels like a distant memory. If I could hop on a plane and go back to Vietnam tomorrow I happily would.

the people and the buzzing energy

the incredible food lining the streets

the lazy afternoon coffee sitting at a corner café

I miss it all, even the heat.

We sampled everything we could and were amazed by how spectacular each bite was. With so many memorable dishes, I enjoyed surprisingly few sweet treats. On a morning in Hanoi we visited Café Kinh Đô for Vietnamese coffee and French-influenced Vietnamese pastries.

 

The café is simple and quaint, with a convivial atmosphere. We nestled into our plastic chairs and placed an order for coffee and sweets. The coffee in Vietnam is addictive. Rich, sweet, chocolately and smooth, it is scarily easy to drink and you may find yourself wanting more than one.

After many enjoyable cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese black coffee with sweetened condensed milk over ice) experiences around Hanoi, Hue, and Hoi An, I noticed that each cà phê is slightly different; some cà phê is sweeter than others, some richer, some thicker.

At Café Kinh Đô the coffee had a nice frothy touch.

 

We started with a Bánh Nhân Táo (apple tart) that was wonderfully flaky. The apple center was nicely spiced with a vivid caramel flavor.

 

We also enjoyed a gato chuối (banana cake). Can I just tell you that the bananas in Vietnam are so much better than the bananas here in the US that I couldn’t get enough of them? When I found them in cake form I couldn’t help myself. This cake was gooey, sweet and full of yummy caramelized banana goodness.

Café Kinh Đô is also known for their sour yoghurt, but after some many sweet treats we had little room for yoghurt. If you find yourself wandering the streets of Hanoi, this is a great little spot to stop into. Plop into a seat under a large fan and slowly savor cà phê sữa and a pastry.

Café Kinh Đô

252 Hàng Bông

Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi

 

P. S. if you are looking for something savory nearby try:

Bún Chả is grilled pork served with a sweet tangy broth, rice noodles, fresh herbs and bean sprouts. This dish will be something you crave. The meat is chared and succulent, the rice noodles comforting, the broth fragrant and the herbs bright.

Dac Kim

67 Đường Thành, Hoàn Kiếm

Hà Nội, Vietnam

 

Chả Cá is Vietnamese Style Fish with tumeric and dill. You heat the fish yourself with spring onions and fresh dill. After it all sizzles together you scoop it on top of your rice noodles and add crushed peanuts, fish sauce and peppers. The fish is tender and the whole meal filling!

Chả Cá Lã Vọng

31 Đường Thành, Hoàn Kiếm

Hà Nội, Vietnam

The Denver Donut Hunt

Hello? Anyone still out there? I’m not dead… just been busy running a food truck. So as you can imagine my time has been spent smelling like a fryer, driving a beast of a truck, and rolling lumpia to the point where I think I’m becoming a lumpia. I just haven’t had much time to share delicious adventures with sweets. But have no fear – it’s a new year and I plan on blogging more. On that note, I’d like to share with you about my unrelenting love for donuts!

On my last trip to Denver with R, we decided to spend the entire weekend in search of these delectable fried delights. I see some of you rolling your eyes back there, but hear me out. I know you may think donuts are so 2009 – and I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about maple bacon donuts – but for me this is beyond a fading trend. I am absolutely, whole-heartedly besotted with donuts.  What’s not to love? It’s dough. It’s fried. It’s sweet. Done!

My journey can be broken down into three categories of donut shops.

1. You daily donut: LaMar’s

LaMar’s is a Denver staple. It wasn’t hard to find this shop since there are plenty of them scattered throughout the city. After talking to a few locals, it was evident that Denver loves LaMar’s.

LaMar’s has a large variety of donuts to choose from. Upon inspection I noticed that most of the donuts seemed to be of the old fashioned cake donut variety. While I do enjoy a good cake donut (it is cakey afterall) I prefer the fluffier fried variety. R on the other hand was in heaven preferring the dense delicious cake donut over the others. We decided to get a half dozen to fully enjoy the spectrum of offerings. We ordered a blueberry cake donut, a german chocolate cake donut, a red velvet cake donut, a pumpkin cream cheese cake donut, an apple spice donut and an original glazed.

The cake donuts were dense, moist, and packed full of flavor, exept the red velvet which was a dry crumbly mess of a thing. My favorite of the cake donuts was the apple spice cake: bursts of cinnamon, juicy apple sweetness and a perfectly spongy texture. The original glazed was everything I love about a good glazed donut. The glaze gently cracks with each bite revealing the soft semi-sweet dough below. All in all I can see how LaMar’s is Denver’s perfect daily donut joint. I only wish LA had something similar.

2. The creative and hip donut:  The Hole

When doing our research for donuts around Denver we came upon The Hole. A newer establishment in the hip, fun Highlands neighboorhood, The Hole is a beer and donuts joint ( yeah I know, awesome right?) They are open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. While their menu isn’t limited to beer and donuts, those are the focus.

This isn’t necessarily the type of donut shop you would go to on your way to work like LaMar’s, but unlike LaMar’s it is a great place to hang out with friends or to satisfy a late night sweet tooth craving. They have a full counter display of freshly baked donuts in addition to their specialty donut offerings. Their flavors are anything but ordinary. Their elaborate inventions range from amaretto donuts and elvis donuts to pizza and churro donut bites. With so many mouth-watering options it was hard not ordering the whole menu.

We started from the menu and ordered the salted toffee bites. They are served in a paper cone sprinkled with salty toffee. They come to the table hot and fresh from the fryer. We popped these salty sweet bites one after the other without blinking, but then we realized while we loved their hot doughy texture, we found the salted toffee flavor to be missing. There was a sugary salty sprinkle on the bites, but that was about it.

Next we ordered from their selection of daily fresh donuts at the front counter. It was tough to narrow down only two donuts among so many, but now I have a reason to come back (the pina colada is calling my name). We ordered the Elvis donut and a lemon rosemary. Again, these donuts had the perfect texture. Nicely fried, not oily, and ribbons of dough that fold so softly and sweetly together. The lemon rosemary had a flavor profile that was a little too subtle for me. I expected a tart tangy lemon bite balanced with a verdant floral rosemary burst, but instead the flavors were flat. The Elvis on the other hand is a donut worth dreaming about! Thick and rich, it is filled with ooey gooey banana, coated in chocolate and sprinkled with crispy salty bacon. All of these ingredients formed the most harmonious marriage. The banana folds into the yielding dough, both enrobed in chocolate that adds bitter sweetness. The sweet notes are rounded out by the bacon which provides a salty, savory, meaty depth. I could have easily consumed 10 of these they were so addictively good.

3. The expensive donut you should probably only have once a year: Table 6

Table 6 is a well known eatery in Denver. It is a favorite among locals and visiting foodies. Table 6 offers a convivial American bistro style that has patrons coming back for more. R and I were full off of donuts already so did not have a chance to enjoy their full menu, but full or not we came for donuts.

The donuts at Table 6 are what I’m going to call the “fancy gourmet donut:” chocolate beignets. You have probably seen a version of these before on the dessert menu at many fine dining restaurants. However, these are anything but your ordinary gourmet $9 order of donuts. The chocolate beignet provided a fried shell of a donut covered in powdered sugar that gently collapses to reveal liquid chocolate heaven hiding inside. There was a passionfruit syrup spread across the plate upon which the beignets sat. The lovely contrast of citrusy tang with the oh-so-decadent melted chocolate inside each donut was divine. It is a very small order, but these lovelies are so rich you only need a bite to fully enjoy.

While this was a great start for my donut hunt, I can’t wait to go back and try Il Posto for their famed Italian donuts and the Sugar Lips food truck for their donut holes. Mmmm deep fried sugary heaven!


Enjoying Vancouver One Sweet Bite At A Time

Vancouver is a city that will instantly capture your heart. Fresh air, clean streets, flowers blooming all around you. There are spectacular mountain views from every angle and a sea that seems to encircle you, with big beautiful buildings and gorgeous parks for miles and miles. What isn’t there to love about this city?

Vancouver is the perfect city for visiting gastronomes with a culinary concept of terroir that will satisfy any palate. Each meal is an adventure around the world from Japanese gyozas to Indian curries to Pacific Northwest seafood. The multicultural influence of produce and cuisine are astounding and refreshing. The abundance of fresh, diverse seafood is inspiring. Beyond the savory selection, Vancouver offers an impressive selection of sweet options. We are not talking your average cupcake or tiramisu, there are extraordinary desserts from across the globe, with more choices then one would know what to do with. Dining in Vancouver is a complete, well-rounded and gratifying experience.

Here are a few unassuming places to find great sweets in Vancouver:

Salt Tasting Room

45 Blood Alley Square

vancouver, BC V6B 0C4, Canada

(604) 633-1912

Among the magnificent array of charcuterie and cheeses, Salt Tasting Room offers one seasonal dessert that is impossible to forget. On my visit to Vancouver, rhubarb was in season and available in abundance. It was the star ingredient in Salt’s dessert tasting, a stellar trio of rhubarb cheesecake, rhubarb pudding and a rhubarb crumble. The presentation highlighted the beauty and creative genius of the menu at Salt Tasting Room.

My favorite of the desserts was the rhubarb cheesecake. The graham cracker crust was moist and crumbly. The cheesecake was lush and silky. The rhubarb compote top was unfailingly juicy and vibrant. The combination was an explosion of flavor. If not just for the dessert, I highly recommend a visit to Salt Tasting Room if you are in Vancouver.

Pourhouse

162 Water Street

Vancouver, BC V6B 1B2, Canada

(604) 568-7022

We came to Pourhouse for some after-dinner cocktails, however after glancing over the menu to find our drinks of choice we discovered a dessert menu that included house-churned salted caramel ice cream. Warm chocolate cake with house churned salted caramel ice cream to be exact. Full as I was, I could not pass it up.

The chocolate collapsed under my fork to reveal bittersweet liquid gold! Ribbons of caramel sauce danced across the plate. To the side lay the salted caramel ice cream. It was magical, buttery to no end with an undeniable salty presence. Paired with a nice artisan beer, this dessert is sexy!

Medina Cafe

556 Beatty Street

Vancouver, BC V6B2L3, Canada

(604) 879-3114

Since the moment I first discovered the ‘true’ Belgian waffle known as a liege at Le Pain Quotidien in Los Angeles, I fell in love. Perfectly golden brown, with a gooey doughy center, these waffles have sugar pearls hidden inside each fold and square of dough. I haven’t found another liege since – that is until this visit to Vancouver.

Café Medina in the Gastown district of Vancouver specializes in liege waffles. A steaming cup of coffee and a waffle in the morning – what more could you ask for? Café Medina offers an assortment of accompaniments to the liege from white chocolate pistachio to mixed berry compote. I gave a few toppings a try, but I have to admit I am a purist at heart and I enjoy my liege unsullied and unadorned. The sugar pearls give you all the sweetness you need. Take note: just one waffle won’t be enough – they are so good you will need to order two or three!

class=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-family:georgia;”>New Town Bakery

158 Pender Street EastVancouver, BC V6A1T3, Canada(604) 689-7835

One of my all time favorite desserts are sweet sesame balls. Imagine my delight when walking down the quiet streets of Vancouver’s Chinatown on my last Sunday in the city I stumble upon a window full of hot, fresh (and may I add gigantic) sesame balls. I had stumble upon New Town Bakery a Chinese Filipino bakery with a dessert case of sweets that will make your mouth water.

A sesame ball is mochi rice flour that is deep-fried and rolled in sesames. The crust is so crisp, almost like a brulee; one delicate touch and it folds into itself revealing a sweet, sticky, starchy inside. Dig even deeper and you reach a center of sweet red bean paste. The combination of ingredients is idyllic, not too cloying, just pure soul satisfaction.

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