Category Archives: Food

Koblenz, Germany

 I recently went to Germany for my first time to visit my new friend Michal, who I had met the month before.

I had gotten in to Koblenz late the night before and was now waking up in Michal’s home to coffee in bed, windows open, and the warm sunlight and brisk cool breeze on my skin. 

  

Michal had work every morning of my visit. So the first morning, as we rode our bikes to her work, she took me the scenic route to bike the river and Deutsches Eck (German Corner). 

After dropping her off at work, I rode around and happened upon the Altstadt (downtown). I saw an old couple drinking coffee at this shop, so I stopped for a cappuccino too. 

  

I returned back to Michal and we rode around the bridge at sunset. The architecture and weather and all was so beautiful and was a great first impression of Germany.

  

 

The next morning I found my way from Michal’s house to the hotel coffee shop that she recommended. I sat outside in the warmth of the morning light, but it was difficult finding a good cappuccino in town. 
  
 

Afterward I spent the morning discovering the Altstadt. Loved biking around finding palazzos of German architecture and secret gartens (gardens).
   

 

 

When Michal was off work, she took me to one of her favorite local roasters Kaffeerösterei Nero and we grabbed cappuccinos to go. 
   

 

We spent the afternoon walking through the Altstadt, stopping in and out of shops, and finally ending at the Schlossgarten (castle garden) at sunset.
   

  

  

 

I asked a few Germans for their coffee shop recommendations and from that got Wartesälchen and Kaffeejunge so I went on a coffee crawl the next morning. 
   

I loved Wartesälchen for its space, friendly staff, great wifi and location. Like really loved the location: on an island in the intersection overlooking this basilica.

  

But Kaffeejunge came highly recommended for a reason. The cappuccino was the best I found in town. The seating was limited, but I liked that. There were a couple spots at the bar, four at the window, and four outside right on the busy road. I definitely sat outside for an hour of car and people watching. 

  

 

I was also told a very German thing to try was Schnitzdl. So I found a spot that served it with potatoes. It reminded me of chicken fried steak by the crispy outside and meat inside, so comfort food and basically as delicious as I had been told. 

 

The next morning, before Michal went to work, we biked along the Rhein to Kaffejunge so I could introduce her. We had had a late start to the morning, and then spent a couple hours people watching and talking over cappuccinos, so it was pretty much the perfect start to a day.
   

When Michal was done with work and I with biking around the city, I met her at her studio for a shoot. Michal is well known for her moon paintings and weavings, and seeing her studio alone was an excitement for my trip, but getting to collaborate and shoot her at her studio was a favorite moment for sure. 

  

  

  

 

We then met up with Robby for a sunset bike ride along the Rhein. We crossed over to the other shore to a beach. 
  

While on the beach, I photographed Robby, to him saying, “I’ve never had someone take so many pictures of me before.” And somehow that shortly turned into some history on his life, which I was grateful for. He shared how he was from East Germany and that his parents had lived behind the wall in communism and the details of what that meant for daily life. It hit me in that moment that this wasn’t textbook history, but real life, and even just a couple years short of being Robby’s life. 
   

Travel is all about the people you meet and the experiences you have with them in the short time your life paths have crossed. That night after the sun had set on the beach, we biked over and along the Rhein, and the lights from the home windows on the dark waters while we rode through the night breeze was beautiful. 

 

The next day being Saturday, Michal, her friends, and parents were off work and we all got to spend the day together. It was such a beautiful day and beautiful experience getting to know those in Michal’s daily life and learn their culture. 

  

  

After hiking through the woods and along the Rhein, Robby introduced us to his favorite coffee shop Café am Kapuzinerplatz where there were plenty of ice coffees (affogatos) and tiramisus at our table. 

To end the day, we took a boat back across the Rhein (which was apparently a first for everyone and not just myself) to Michal’s house where her mother made a traditional German dinner: veal with potatoes and a homemade garlic basil butter, and the German fizziest water ever. 

  

  

 

Germany was not only beatiful in architecture and land, but also in the hospitable and genuine and friendly kind culture. I loved my experience here and am so glad it happened and for those I met.

Bassano del Grappa, ITALY

Last week I took a day trip to meet Emma in a city we had visited with friends two years before: Bassano del Grappa. 

Since I would not have phone service, we made plans the night before while we had wifi. We decided to meet at the train station: her train arriving at 9:05 am and mine at 9:20 am. A helpful iPhone app that I’ve used to look up train schedules is Infotreni.

We weren’t sure we would remember how to get into the center, but once we were there, it all came back to us. If you walk straight from the train station for two minutes, there is an entrance into the wall. Once inside the wall, go right. The first thing you will see is this coffee shop where we stopped for coffee.

  

Caffetteria Toffano is the first place you will see right when you walk inside the walls. Which was perfect as we had planned to find a place for coffee. It was a nice spot with good coffee. 


 

We walked through the various piazzas and soon learned that a lot of places were closed for Monday. So if you ever plan to visit a smaller town of Italy, keep in mind things will be closed Monday’s, in the afternoon, and for August vacation.

 

 

We took advantage of just walking the city and revisiting some of our favorite spots from our last visit. 

  

  

One of my favorite spots is this walkway of manicured trees overlooking a green valley. Bassano del Grappa is a small town that’s easy to discover.

  

  

I believe off of Via Vittorelli is this cute pane (bread) shop. Delicious for pastries, and they even had some senza glutine (gluten free) options for Emma which isn’t common for Italy. 

  

 

In Piazza Garibaldi we found this restaurant Danieli and decided to try it for lunch. We sat outside on the patio, which is typical for Italians. Last time we had visited on a Saturday and this piazza was covered with the outdoor Italian market.

 

   

  

Since the kitchen wasn’t yet open, we started with coffee.

  

About thirty minutes later we placed our food order. I ordered the gnocchi with mushroom. We spent a couple hours here hanging out and catching up and living the slow paced Italian lifestyle. It’s nice to not force too much into your days when you visit Italy, or to think too much of a time schedule, because then you will have a more Italian experience.
  

  

Montebelluna ITALY – Gelati Roberto, Centro Coffee Crawl

Made a return visit to Montebelluna to see Emma a couple days after she arrived back. 

 

I’d like to side track on some culture. I love living the Italian train culture. It’s so foreign to my usual car form of transportation back home. This was my third train ride alone. I had assumed I’d have a lot of chances to ride with others and learn, but that hasn’t been the case, ands it’s funny how we learn the best by being forced into just doing it and surprising ourselves at what we can figure out in a foreign country. 

  
She brought some Rose Park Roasters coffee so we had a pour over coffee party. It’s been a month since I’ve been away from home and the coffee making world, so it felt like a piece of home to pour with Emma. Plus, I love Rose Park Roasters so it was exciting that she brought it.

  

 

We made plans with Tyler that night to be introduced to their new favorite gelato spot Gelati Roberto.

  

They both recommended the menta (mint) gelato. It was amazing and I’m still thinking about it.

 

  
The next day I did a coffee crawl around the Montebelluna Centro. The first spot was obviously Caffè Cavour. I ordered my usual cappuccino and pastry in more Italian breakfast style. 

  

 

Afterward I walked around to find a new coffee spot to try. While walking around I stumbled on this boutique Le Scarpe di Aliss where these yellow leather heels were on sale, so I made an impulse buy.
   

 

The second coffee shop I stopped at was one I’d never been to: Bar Alla Loggia. It was under an archway off a main piazza. I loved the vibes: from the outdoor piazza vibes to the loud Italian community how everyone knew everyone, and the cute old man who went on and on in Italian thinking I understood him and how I wish I did, and the shakerato I ordered.
   

At this point it was lunch time and with two coffees in, I was definitely ready for food. I returned to my comfort spot Caffè Cavour to try their lunch menu. I got the spaghetti with tonno (tuna) and pomodoro (tomato).

  

I walked back in to the piazza for the third spot Bernardi, a cute french bakery and coffee shop. I spent the time editing photos, being stared at by Italians, and face timing my coffee crawling friend Michelle from back home. 

  

  

 

Montebelluna ITALY – Pizzeria alla Stella, Gelateria Ducale, Caffè Cavour, Caffè Corona

I recently made a trip to revisit the town I used to live in in Italy for my friend Sharon’s birthday. The first place we went was her favorite coffee shop, that I had never tried, Degustazione. 

It was the best smelling coffee shop ever. All coffee shops smell like coffee, but here is was overwhelming, in the best way possible. Sharon got a cappuccino, and as much as a cappuccino is my usual, I had had two cappuccinos already that day so I went for a shakerato. I tend to get cold brew back home when I’m not wanting more milk, but in Italy it’s not really common to drink cold coffee, so my option and go to is the shakerato, which much like an iced americano, is: espresso shaken with ice, water and sometimes sugar. This spot made the best one I’ve had. 

 

After coffee, we met up with some of her friends for pizza at Stella’s. It was Sharon’s birthday, but I had had such good memories and pizzas here that it felt like my birthday haha. 

 

I had always wanted to try the french fry pizza, and now two years later and being so hungry, I got it, with sausage and ricotta. A couple points of culture: water at restaurants isn’t free and it’s expected you eat the whole pizza, but the crust is so thin is more doable than it seems.

  

Much like I left Montebelluna, it was still typical to go to gelato, and we went to Ducale afterwards, which also used to be one of my favorite spots. There is nothing like Italian gelato in America, so it felt too good to be back at Ducale.

 

My old favorite was Zuppa Inglese which has pieces of cake, but I went with Amareno (cherry) in a “cono” (cone).

 

Since I was just in town for a few days, I didn’t grab groceries and tried to just catch up on all the old favorites. Like the local kebab shop just a couple doors down from where I was staying. 

I used to love grabbing one and eatting it on the 20 minute walk home though town. One night, I told the guy I wanted a lot of “olio piccante” (spicy oil) and cried all the way home as I ate it, while my roommate laughed at me. So there were sentimental reasons for returning here, much like the other spots on this post.
  

After kebabs, Sharon asked where I wanted to go that day. She was hoping I’d say Caffe Cavour, and she knew me too well because Caffe Cavour was my favorite spot in Montebelluna and I couldn’t wait to return.
  

 

I had made friends with Ada, who owns the coffee shop, back when I used to come every morning for three months for a cappuccino. I was nervous she wouldn’t remember me after a couple years, but when I had the chance to approach her, she lit up with a mutual excitement, and I was too glad to catch up with with this Italian friend.

  

 

Their cappuccinos and pastries are so good. This was the place where I got my first cappucino in Italy, but it was the best. I couldn’t find better at any of the other spots I tried in town. I had been craving this pastry for two years, and today I was lucky enough to get there just in time for the last one. It felt so good, and so crazy, to finally be back.

  
  

The next day me and Sharon met with our friends Jake and Tyler for lunch. We walked into town to our friend Francesco’s spot Caffe Corona. 

 
   
  

It was a lot of fun and laughs to be together with these friends again in Montebelluna. It felt so surreal and so nice to reminisce.

  

I got the same as Tyler: a grilled vegetable and fontina piadine with a red mayo. Piadine is like a crepe: made of piadina, a bread closest to a tortilla,  and stuffed with savory items. 

 

On one of my last days, I walked to the center of town for another visit at Caffe Cavour. As I left, I walked toward the piazza I used to walk through everyday by my old apartment. There a few old Italian men invited me to sit with them for a caffe as they sat at Caffe Centrale. It was a lot of fun to make new friends with these Italians, and so far one of my favorite moments in Italy this trip. 
   
  

 

Treviso, ITALY

The other day my friend Jake invited me to Treviso to go shopping at H&M. Since just returning back to Italy after a two year abscence, I was glad for a chance to hang out with a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile, well and, Treviso is one of my favorite small cities in Italy, and H&M is a favorite as well, so I was definitely interested in obliging. 

  

  

After I tried on every hat, and Jake had shopping success at H&M, we roamed around Treviso. 

My last stay in Italy I got to adventure a lot of small Italian cities, even one of my favorite days hopping on and off trains to see a few in one day, and from that, as much as I love Venice and Rome, I’m a firm advocate for experiencing the smaller town life of Italy. They are easy to get around quickly on foot with lots of stumble upons, and they aren’t as touristy so you feel like you are getting a more local or authentic Italian experience. 

 

  

I always love taking the advice of a local on where to eat and drink, so when Jake said he had a favorite spot to lunch, I was excited to try. We went to Bar Oasis Cafè for their sandwiches. Across the street was his favorite coffee shop, but it was closed for August. August is a big vacation time for Italians, so the smaller cities might have some spots closed, and the larger cities might be a little extra packed; that seems to be my experience so far since being in Venice the day before.

 

So after lunch we went down to the main center piazza to find a coffee shop. 

  

One of my favorite Italian experiences is sitting outside in a piazza drinking a cappuccino like today at Beltrame… Or eating pizza or gelato. It doesn’t feel more like Italy than that. And this piazza was the first one I sat in for pizza the first time I came to Italy, which is also probably why I feel so connected to Treviso. 

  

 

Next time you travel to Italy, definitely do all the famous cities, but consider hopping off the train at a random stop for an afternoon to do and experience something no one has told you about.

Phoenix AZ – Matt’s Big Breakfast

Matt’s Big Breakfast is probably the first breakfast spot a Phoenician would recommend to you. Actually, I think it was one of the first local Phoenix spots I tried. So I’m excited to finally post on the blog to recommend it to others!

  

I always try to listen to recommendations that locals make, so when my friend Chris who lives in Downtown Phoenix recommended the Thursday special Eggs Benedict, I was so excited to try. 

 
  

We met our friend Vince there early on a Thursday morning to be sure we were there before they sold out. 

  

The Eggs Benedict was well worth the waking up early and driving through morning commute traffic to get. And I felt like my search for delicious Eggs Benedict in the valley was finally satisfied.

 

 

Mats is located in Downtown Phoenix, and if you start your day here, I’d recommend exploring more of the area by foot, that is anytime between November – May. Some nearby spots that are already on the blog: Phoenix Public Market, Roosevelt Row, Welcome Diner and Heritage Square (Pizzeria Bianco and Royal Coffee Bar). 

Or, if you are feeling like coffee and only want to walk a couple minutes like my time post-breakfast at Matt’s: try Velo, a bike shop slash coffee bar, for their Press Coffee offerings. 

 

Phoenix AZ – St. Francis

Another favorite Phoenix spot for me is St. Francis. This restaurant is owned by Chef Aaron Chamberlin, who also owns Phoenix Public Market (see separate blog post). 

Some of my friends Rob and Christina (newdarlings.com @newdarlings) and Diamond (pariselsewhere.com @pariselsewhere) had never been so we made a day to visit.

 

We went on a Sunday and I was so excited to see that they had brunch until 2:30 PM on the weekends. While we looked over the menu, our waiter Daniel let us know that Chef Aaron had put in some starters for us: a fresh tomato and sweet corn flat bread and oven fries. The kind hospitalality from Chef Aaron and our waiter was so welcoming and refreshing. 

  

 
  

By Daniel’s suggestion, I got the Eggs Benedict with pork loin and avocado. The pork loin was a delicious addition. St. Francis works with local community to source their ingredients locally, and it’s obvious in how fresh everything  tastes.

 

  

I tend to visit at dinner time, so I have to recommend my favorite item: Moroccan Meatballs . This dish baked in the wood oven is so popular that it has been featured on Phoenix New Times.
  

The space itself is gorgeous and a nice atmosphere for brunch or dinner: lots of natural light, brick, mirrors and wood. The space is actually a modern take by architect Wendell Burnette on a old office space built by architect Harold Ekman in 1955. Highly recommend this spot for the food and the space.

 

Phoenix AZ – Windsor & Churn

One of my top favorite spots  in Phoenix is Windsor & Churn. It’s one of the first places I mention when recommending spots in Phoenix. So I’m excited to finally post them on the blog. 

 
Me and Michelle had only had plans on our day off to grab coffee at Provision Coffee (see post), but it turned into a spontaneous long day of coffee crawling, and eventually meeting Angel at Windsor & Churn. 

 

 
The first thing I ever tried at Windsor is their Picnic Kebobs, and they were so good, that I literally must get them every time I go! The Kebobs come with chicken, pork, shrimp and veggie skewers on a wood platter with pita, spicy pepper dip and gold sauce. Recently I also tried the loaded chips (house chips with caramelized onions, bacon, blue cheese and chipotle cream) and am sold that it must be that no matter what is ordered here is phenomenal.

  
 
Next door to Windsor is Churn. Definitely a top favorite ice cream shop. I tend to get either the Vietnamese Coffee, Coconut or Peanut Butter ice cream in a cone with toasted marshmallow fluff on top. After a trip to CA and experiencing toasted marshmallow on ice cream, I was determined to find a spot at home that did it,  so I was pretty excited when I found that Churn does.

  
 

Portland OREGON

On a recent trip to Portland, I only had a couple days. I think it’s a doable venture even when short on time. My recommendation being to take a piece of the city that has a lot that it offers locally, like Downtown Portland or 23rd Ave. Both are popular walkable spots that give a good quick taste of the city. This post will focus a lot on the food and coffee culture of Portland since my time was limited and my focus was on coffee crawling the best spots.

DOWNTOWN PORTLAND

My first spot was completely unplanned. After waking up early and spending hours in travel without coffee, I stumbled upon Case Study Coffee outside the garage I parked in downtown. It was delicious and I found out later it’s a popular shop in Portland.

  

I asked the barista his recommendation for brunch and he said Tasty n Alder. It was downtown also so I walked there after coffee. On the way there were a lot of cute boutiques to browse in and out of. Tasty n Alder was a great local spot: I loved the atmosphere and the food was served tapas style. I got the baked eggs in a tomato sauce with peas and asparagus. It was reasonable at $11 for a small plate, but it could be pricey if you went for more of a tapas style brunch.

  

Across the street was what I had most anticipated in my visit to Portland: heart coffee. It had begun to drizzle so I spent the next hour inside sitting at the window people watching and sipping on my cappuccino. 

  

  

Another spot within walking distance that I was recommended to by a friend was Blue Star Donuts. I headed there. Their old fashion lemon poppy seed  donut was perfect.

  

  

I then met up with some friends – Perry, Nella, and Jeff from the Phoenix coffee community – to continue this Portland coffee crawl. Perry had heard of a brand new coffee shop for us to try: Good Coffee. 

  

I was hoping with Perry’s expertise on coffee and understanding of their offerings that he would order our coffees, so I was glad when he ordered all these coffees for us.

  

 

It took us awhile to figure out our next stop, but Perry didn’t disappoint: Stumptown at the Ace Hotel. I had completely forgotten about this downtown spot popular not just for coffee but it’s photogenic space. I loved how the day was spontaneous but unfolded in the best way possible. 

  

  

As I mentioned before, once you are downtown, you are close to all the local popular spots. While parking we noticed a Sizzle Pie, so after Stumptown we headed there for dinner. We got a large pizza split with two types and both were great.

  

  


HAWTHORNE 

On my second day in Portland, we went to Jam on Hawthorne. Their space is very eclectic and we all really enjoyed what we ordered, though we weren’t crazy about the drinks. Pictured below is the Florentine Eggs Benedict.


23RD AVENUE

Next we went to 23rd Ave for Salt and Straw. We were there on a weekend, so the line was out the door. I’d recommend trying to go during the week, but the wait wasn’t too long: we probably waited 30 minutes.

Across the street from Salt and Straw was a popular Portland coffee shop Barista. Probably my favorite coffee from all those we went to.

There was another Blue Star Donuts spot and a lot of boutiques. Overall 23rd Ave is a great place to walk around and get a good feel for the Portland culture. 

    

Jerome AZ

I’ve been meaning to visit Jerome for a few years. Finally did it this last weekend with Merrissa. 

It’s only a couple hours north of Phoenix, so we came upon it about 10 am. My first impression as we drove through the upward winding road was how cute this old ghost town was with all its old buildings set on the hills. We parked and made our first spot Flat Iron.

This spot came recommended by my friend for their brunch and coffee. We walked in the door to the tiniest room that served as kitchen and restaurant. It was the cutest. Their kitchen does not have a stove top or open flame: everything is cooked in a toaster oven, conventional oven or panini grille, and the eggs are scrambled by espresso machine steam wand. 

We both ordered iced vanilla lattes, that we loved, and brunch. I got the breakfast tacos: corn tortillas stuffed with scrambled eggs, cheese, red peppers and onions, and salsa. The green chile salsa was absolutely the best! Merrissa got the breakfast burrito that had scrambled eggs, pepper jack cheese, turkey sausage and green chiles in a toasted homemade tortilla.

Afterward we explored the town: hiking by the creek, antiquing, swinging in the park, and photographing all the historic architecture. It’s a cute town to explore and all the brick and metal walls make it a must for any photographer.