Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Coffee-- it's kind of our thing

by Xani and Erin

Coffee is clearly essential to BCD-- it's half our name! We have a couple coffee-related items to share with you this week, whether you're in the Baltimore area, or anywhere else!

First off, Kahve Koffee, Boston-based coffee company, contacted us recently and offered to let us taste one of their many varieties of coffees. We selected the Peruvian FT Organic Viennese. They shipped us a bag of beautiful, fragrant beans which we ground up and sampled. Very tasty coffee! Khave has a large variety of coffees (which they roast themselves) and teas (if you are into that kind of thing). We highly recommend you peruse their website if you're looking for something exotic, or just looking for a new source for your everyday cup of coffee. Kahve has also offered us an exclusive blogger coupon code to share with our readers. Use "BLOG15" and save 15% of your entire coffee order!

In addition to having coffee shipped directly to our door, we enjoy venturing out into the world to drink a cup here or there. In our most recent article for the Federal Hill South Free News, we reviewed the local spots in our 'hood. We're reposting here for all you Baltimoreans (and visitors) who might be looking for a cup of joe in South Bmore.

First up, there's Koba Cafe (644 E. Fort Ave), a sunny cafe on Fort Ave and, in our opinion, a hidden gem of our neighborhood. We're always greeted with smiles from the staff and patrons alike, and the coffee is really, really good. It's strong and piping hot, and great when paired with a cranberry-orange muffin or croissant (which they'll heat up for you upon request). One of the best parts of Koba, however, is the upstairs section. While the downstairs is bustling with people grabbing their morning cup o' Joe, the upstairs is a serene living room with couches, chairs, and tables -- and free WiFi! We've spent time there to study, read, blog, or catch up with friends. Also a great place to stop after a morning jog to Fort McHenry. Opens at 6:30am on weekdays, 7:30am on weekends.

Next, there's Metropolitan Coffeehouse & Wine Bar (902 Charles St.). Perhaps best known for its awesome selection of beers and it's open-air bar, it also serves a mean cup of serve-yourself coffee. They also have an extensive menu of hearty breakfast meals when coffee alone just won't cut it. Hit up Metro either on a lazy Saturday or grab a cup of coffee on your way to work, on foot or by car.

Perhaps the most popular coffeeshop in our little 'hood is Spoons Coffee Cafe (24 E. Cross St.), a spacious and always-bustling morning joint amidst all the evening hot spots of Cross Street. The coffee at Spoons is organic and free trade, and they have a bottomless cup for $2.15. Also try their specialty coffee drinks -- one of my favorites is the iced mocha. Spoons lists quite a few breakfast items ranging from a variety of Eggs Benedicts to organic steel-cut oatmeal, but my go-to dish is the Huevos Verdes: eggs any way (I get over-medium) over two crispy, crunchy corn tortillas with black bean chili, monterey jack cheese, salsa verde (of course) and cilantro. But get there early and bring your City Paper - there's often a wait. Open every day at 7:00am.

After our article went to press we were reminded by a FHSFN reader about the delicious and exotic coffee at Baba's Mediterranean Kitchen (745 E. Fort Avenue). It has a hint of cardamom which is really special and different. Absolutely worth a try. Also, their food is fantastic and they have lots of yummy vegetarian options. Go check it out!

Last but not least, there's the classic: Dunkin' Donuts (1100 Light St.). My favorite thing about DD is that they'll fix up your coffee for you, no matter how weird you like it -- cream and 4 splendas? No problem. Black with 2 sugars? You got it. And the best part about DD: the munchkins. How can you resist those little guys??

As the weather becomes warmer, check out these neighborhood places, grab a coffee (maybe iced when it's really hot out), and take a stroll around our beautiful neighborhood. After all that snow, we deserve it!

Happy coffee hunting,
EP & X

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Springtime for Rollos: Part 2 (or "Puddin' it be Rice?")

by Erin and Xani

After an outstanding first day in NYC, we had more big plans (eating AND non-eating, if you can believe it) for Day 2. We were going to go for a fancy, multi-course brunch but after all of our great meals the day before, we weren't quite ready for another biggie. I said to Lauren, "Isn't there someplace we can go and have a great cup of coffee and a croissant? Somewhere like Bouchon Bakery [Thomas Keller's famous bakery]?" Lauren, with one eyebrow raised, said "Uh, there is a Bouchon. It's like 5 blocks from here." HUZZAH!! We had our brunch place.

On our way over to the Time Warner Center, we met Eliot, a St. Bernard who lived nearby.

When we arrived at the Time Warner Center we went up to the 4th floor to Bouchon Bakery. In addition to our coffee, we ordered a croissant, a corn muffin, a linzer cookie, and a box of donut holes called "bouchkins"! How cute.

The croissant was light, flaky, and buttery - just what we were craving. The corn muffin was good too - slightly sweet, slightly savory, good texture.

The bouchkins were SO good - half had powdered sugar on the outside, half had cinnamon-sugar. Of course, we love our coffee and donuts!

And the coffee was good and strong. Mmmm.

After breakfast, we headed over towards the Museum of Modern Art to check out the Tim Burton exhibit. On our way, we stopped at Anthropologie and purchased a few goodies! Who can resist that place??

The Tim Burton exhibit was awesome. He had all kinds of pieces from sculpture to paintings on canvas to animated videos, plus there were a lot of pieces from his various movies, including Beetlejuice, Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Mars Attacks, and Sweenie Todd. It was REALLY crowded since the exhibit was closing the next week, but it was a great exhibit and we were really glad we could go.

Welcome to the Tim Burton exhibit...

After our museum visit, we needed to go back to the hotel to grab our bags, so while in the neighborhood we grabbed a NY slice at Famiglia Pizza. We got a slice of plain, a slice of veggie, and a slice of white pizza - all were good and really hit the spot after fighting through the crowds at the museum.

Excited for veggie pizza?

We then schlepped downtown to go meet Lauren's boyfriend, John, and his peeps at a bar near NYU. But we had one more stop to make before we did that: Rice to Riches. For three girls who really aren't big rice pudding fans, we were THRILLED to be headed to R2R for a sweet treat. Xani originally heard of this place on the relatively new show on Food Network, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." Upon further research, we discovered that this place had approximately 20 flavors of rice pudding, plus about 15 toppings to go on top. Decisions, decisions!

When we arrived at R2R, we first noticed the decor - the place was covered in fantastic sayings and instructions, like "Sleep till you're hungry, eat till you're sleepy," or "Eat Right. Exercise. Die Anyway." or "No Skinny Bitches!" Our kinda place.

We ordered two flavors of rice pudding with two toppings. First we ordered the French Toast flavor of rice pudding with a crumbly, buttery granola topping (this was the suggested flavor-topping combo on the TV show). Second, we made up our own combo and ordered the Mascarpone with Cherries flavor, plus the most genius topping ever: toasted poundcake CROUTONS! What?! Why didn't we think of that??

Mascarpone with Cherries and poundcake croutons

French Toast with Oatmeal Coconut Granola Topping

Both were excellent - sweet, complex flavors, good texture from the rice and the toppings, and everything was served chilled.

Lauren and Xani about to dig in!

So good EP was a'dancin'

Not surprisingly, we preferred our flavor combo to the one we saw on TV...not that we're biased or anything. It was a great treat but it definitely put us in a rice pudding coma for a few hours.

We hung out with Lauren's boyfriend and his friends for a little while, but then headed to Brooklyn to sit quietly and come out of the rice pudding haze. I'll save our amazing Greek dinner in Brooklyn for the next NYC post. Coming soon, I promise!

Happy rice pudding eating,
EP & X

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