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Lovely Afternoon Tea at The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel (NYC)

[Translate] The Palm Court at The Plaza is arguably one of the best hotel afternoon teas in New York City I’ve had in the longest time. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian re-launched the iconic Palm Court at The Plaza hotel with a renovation by Master Architect Thierry Despont almost a year ago. The renovation does result in bringing natural, floral elements inspired by Central Park (and it has the classic English elements that reminds me of another landmark, The Ritz in London, UK). Despite the fact it sounds quite touristy but you should go there once just to check out the scene...

Tea Options in Montreal – Senthé and Birks Café (Latter Closed)

[Translate] While Montreal is a serious coffee town, they do have some very good options for whole leaf teas. Senthé is a pretty new tea café out on a shopping strip in Rosemont. Senthé specializes in high quality Asian teas with a few tea blends for those who prefer to have other flavors besides the tea leaf itself and espresso, if you really need your caffeine in a different format altogether. There is a small food menu consisting of light sandwiches and pastries of the day are displayed at the counter. Senthé also doubles as a hangout for enthusiasts of..

Matcha with Lots of Possibilities at MatchaBar (Brooklyn, NY)

[Translate] MatchaBar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a hip matcha tea bar and brand founded by brothers Max and Graham Fortgang. Matcha tea was “discovered” by the Fortgangs out the necessity of a caffeine alternative that was healthier for them since they led stressful lives when they were college students. Their Williamsburg storefront offers drinks made with the fine-ground tea, including hot and iced matcha teas, iced specialty drinks, and Matchaccino, a matcha “cappuccino” made with almond milk and vanilla powder. Besides peddling the typical matcha lattes (they are almost everywhere in Manhattan), they want to introduce and educate the masses..

Fantastic Tiki-Inspired Cocktails at Bar Le Mal Nécessaire (Montreal, Canada)

[Translate] If in Montreal, when you want to grab a serious cocktail but isn’t pretentious, Bar Le Mal Nécessaire (or Necessary Evil). I should add, you should like your tiki drinks. Le Mal Nécessaire is in a basement of a building between a small Chinese restaurant and an Asian shop of some sort in Chinatown. You will know you’re at the right place when you see a glowing, bright green pineapple-shaped neon lights at the stairwell. When you descend into the relative darkness, you hear old school hip hop playing not too loudly on the speakers. Patrons chatting amongst each..

Wunderbar & Plateau Lounge at W Montreal (Montreal, Canada)

[Translate] Part of my time in Montreal, I was at W Montreal. A very urban, sexy, sleek, luxury boutique hotel in the Ville-Marie area of Montreal. When you enter the glass doors, you’d see the cubic water fountain and glowing red walls of the lobby. One of my evenings I checked out Wunderbar that is located on the ground floor. It’s a cool looking bar that has a wall covered in curved panels set in a rainbow that meant to look like the distinctive seasons and magnificent natural surroundings of Montreal. (more…)

Travel

La Colombe Torrefaction in Chicago

[Translate] La Colombe Torrefaction, Chicago: Exterior, Interior, delicate flowers by the window, baked goods display As probably most of you might know, I am a die-hard coffee nerd/addict. I do admit that I’m pretty spoiled by the coffee culture as I’m coming from New York City, I have access to a lot of very good to excellent coffee shops here. When I was planning my trip to Chicago, I was mildly freaking out thinking there might be a lack of my essential need in the morning. I don’t want my travel companion to face the ugly side of me when..

Visiting Vosges Haut Chocolat in Chicago

[Translate] Exterior, Interiors of Vosges Haut Chocolat in Lincoln Park, Chicago When I visited Chicago, I had to visit Vosges Haut Chocolat mostly because this company is started and based there. I came with a friend to their Lincoln Park, which is considered Vosges’ flagship. It is much larger shop than the one and looks more of a glamorous romantic than the darker, bohemian chic than New York’s SoHo boutique. I find it quite interesting that each store has its own personality rather than having a “cookie cutter” template of how each store should look like. (more…)

Floriole Cafe & Bakery, Chicago – A Great Rustic, Elegant American Bakery

[Translate] Exterior of Floriole; Interior; Galette des Rois; Chalkboard listing local, organic sources used; Owner and Head Baker of Floriole Sandra Holl One of my other pastry stops in Chicago was Floriole on a bright weekend morning. The minute I walked up to this bakery with my friend, I had a feeling this was special. The large, welcoming, warm wooden space feels like a second home to me. Local residents lined up the counter waiting to order their cup of coffee or tea and a couple of beautiful golden brown pastries for themselves or family. The gentle scents of butter..

Lunch at Blackbird, Chicago

[Translate] Blackbird (exterior), At the dining room, Floral centerpiece at the hostess stand When I was planning for my trip to Chicago, I had was under the presumption that this city’s fine dining lunch is like New York – you have a lot of restaurants who would serve prix fixe menus. Except when I did my research, there’s barely any at all but the little glimmer of hope was Blackbird, a 1* Michelin restaurant and their Executive Chef Paul Kahan was nominated for the James Beard Award (2011). For that kind of esteem, I booked a reservation. (more…)

Alliance Bakery, Chicago – Bakery Meets Pâtisserie

[Translate] Alliance Bakery’s Exterior, Old-school neon sign, One of its display cases Alliance Bakery located in Wicker Park, Chicago looks like an old-school American bakery with its neon sign but it’s a bakery as well as a pâtisserie. This two-personality bakery, so to speak,  is owned by Peter Rios. Mr. Rios was trained as a hotel pastry chef (his previous title and employer before owning this bakery was Executive Pastry Chef at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago) and had his skills sharpened by working through many well known pâtisseries and in France like Ladurée and won a number of awards..

Dinner at Arami, Chicago

[Translate] Arami’s windows and at the bar During my vacation/stay in Chicago, Arami was one of my dinner stops here. After some research, this was considered one of the good Japanese spots to have sushi. As a sushi fanatic, I’m excited to eat here and booked a reservation. What surprised me was that even though the restaurant is located almost in the middle of nowhere (I’m used to the packed areas of Manhattan), the sole signage was within the restaurant’s glass windows, indicating its name and address and yet when I entered the dining room, it was pretty busy for..