Exploring the World of NYC Coffee Shops

They say that New York never sleeps, and this might as well be totally the case given that every street is lined with at least two artisan over-priced small scale coffee shops, a Starbucks and a Dunkin’. Finding caffeine in the Big Apple is no challenge. In my two months there this summer, I have attempted to try as many independent cafes (although I will never give up my tired and true Starbucks chai) as I could during my commute, lunch breaks and lazy Sunday mornings. There is a whole world out there of coffee ambiances and gourmet creations to explore in the mega city.

Bluestone Lane: An Australian offshoot, Bluestone is located all over the city and specializes in gourmet drinks and “toasties” which are perfect for a quick light lunch. The locations tend to be smaller, making it more of a grab and go type of place. *Over a dozen locations all over the city.

Chacha Matcha: My favorite New York cafe, Chacha Matcha quickly became my go-to beverage pick-me-up everyday on my commute to work. As the name suggests, they specialize in matcha green tea, but create funky takes on the classic matcha latte with matcha chais, turmeric lattes and matcha lemonades. They also have a delicious assortment of matcha flavored pastries and chilled breakfast items. The crowd, along with the decor, is trendy and instagram obsessed. *Locations in Noho, Nomad, and Nolita.

Birch Coffee: Birch coffee has one of the best chais I have ever tasted. A bit of a unique place, they discourage technology by not having wifi or any outlets. Instead, they have a whole wall of books for customers to cozy up to and little conversation starter cards that attempt to create a hospitable and friendly unplugged atmosphere. Ideal for non-electronic studying! *10 locations across the city.

Think Coffee: A classy and spacious cafe, Think Coffee is a place a study. Standard coffee menu with breakfast and sandwiches, the environment at Think is extremely pleasant. They have outlets at every table, plush leather seats and play a calming mix of classical music which makes you even want to study. In a crazy city like New York, Think Coffee offers a reprieve from all the hustle and bustle outside. *About 8 locations across the city.

Joe’s Coffee: Joe’s has been a New York favorite for a while serving up a quality cup of “Joe” to many neighborhoods for years. They are simple coffee counter stores, but simple does the trick. If you need a quick coffee on the go, Joe’s is the place to go. *Over a dozen locations throughout New York.

Gregory’s Coffee: Another favorite, Gregory’s coffee is kind of like a local Starbucks. They have a large menu of drink options, food, and juices in there spacious cafes. What makes Gregory’s great is that they have a lot of vegan and gluten free food and drinks, making it a place for everyone. *23 locations in Manhattan.

Ralph’s Coffee: The Ralph Lauren Corporation, already pioneers in creating a truly immersive shopping experience, recently opened Ralph’s Coffee Shop inside select offshoot stores. I visited one inside the Flatiron Club Monaco and was delighted to get a delicious iced mocha within the stylish green tiled walls of the coffee outpost and the pleasantly light and airy atmosphere of the store. The coffee is all hand crafted, and the store is perfect for pictures. *Located at the Flatiron Club Monaco, Rockefeller Center, and the Upper East Side Ralph Lauren.

Maman: Maman is a favorite of the stylish Instagram crowd and it’s easy to see why. Besides having great coffee, a decadent lavender hot chocolate drink, and cute pastries, the cafe makes you feel as though you have been transported to the South of France with its cute decor and blue and white color scheme. The cups and plates are all super cute and photogenic too! *Locations in Soho, Tribeca, Nomad and Chelsea.

Citizens Of (Gramercy, Chelsea): While more of a popular brunch place, the trendy cafe has a barista bar serving up an array of exceptional drinks. The Australian styled spot has a refreshingly light interior that feels especially cool on a hot summer day. Come for the avocado toast and stay for the dirty chai (it’s seriously one of the best I’ve had). *Locations in Gramercy and Chelsea.

Everything I Ate at Smorgasburg

Back for a new post on my New York adventures!  This time around, it seems obligatory to dedicate a whole post to Smorgasburg, otherwise known as the ultimate foodie destination.  For those of you who do not know, Smorgasburg is a giant food festival that takes place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn every weekend in the summer.  Many famous outrageous food creations have come out or started at Smorgasburg and you have certainly seen pictures of some of their craziest frankenfoods on instagram.  Foods such as the Ramen Burger, the Spaghetti Donut, the Raindrop Cake and Big Mozz mozzarella sticks were all introduced at Smorgasburg. 

With nearly 100 different vendors at Smorgasburg, it might be just a tad hard to figure out what to get.  I recommend spending some time walking around and to just soak it all in.  It is amazing to see everyone come together and experience a common love for eating and food all in one small outdoor space.  Once you gather your bearings, it helps to plan it all out.  It also helps to know that you should be splitting everything, or you might explode from overeating! Here is everything I tried… although there was so much more.

Spaghetti Donut (Marinara sauce):  This crazy concept is new this year and is getting a ton of attention.  Everyone loves pasta and everyone loves donuts, so why not put these too popular carbs together?  While it might seem gross, the donut is pretty much just donut shaped slightly dried out pasta that is lightly fried to hold the shape.  Personally, I’m not a huge red sauce pasta fan, so I felt like it was underwhelming.  Others love it, however, and this unique food combo is definitely worth a try.  

Fluffy Pancakes (Blueberry cheesecake): Oh my god, these were heaven.  The airy souffléd pancakes were hands down the best pancakes I have ever tasted.  While the pancakes alone are a reason to get them, the different flavors which include blueberry cheesecake and creme brulée make the pancakes extra special and a perfect start to your Smorgasburg experience.  

Ramen Burger:  There was a ton of hype surrounding the Ramen Burger when it first came out a few years ago.  While the combo might seem random, the salty flavor-filled ramen pairs amazingly with the taste of the burger, out doing any bun while looking fabulous for that insta-feed.  

Chicken and Waffle (Buffalo Chicken Bites):  Someone, a genius perhaps, decided that chicken and waffles can easily become chicken in a picturesque waffle cone.  Easy to eat and oh-so delicious, the buffalo chicken bites inside the cone with a drizzle of creamy blue cheese dressing were the perfect portable festival food.  Coming from a buffalo fanatic, these were very worthwhile!

Prickly Pear Cactus Juice:  I have no idea what prickly pear cactus is but I do know that it makes for a vibrantly beautiful pink juice.  While the taste isn’t too special, the color of the juice is something to brag about.  Maybe not the best juice of all the many juices at the fair, but it’s refreshing and pretty!

Truffle Fries:  Sometimes a classic hits the spot.  The truffle fries from the gourmet fry station might be a tad basic, but they are simply delicious and make for the perfect side to any of the outrageous entree options at Smogasburg.  

Shaved Ice (Matcha):  Definitely my favorite food that I tried at the festival, this trendy dessert is the ultimate treat on a warm sunny summer day.  Think of it as fancy adult snow cone, but with two layers of flavored coconut cream, rice cereal, and deep natural coloring.  The matcha flavor was to die-for and tasted like a refreshingly upgraded Starbucks green-tea frappuccino. 

Coxinhas (Cheese and Dulce di Leche):  Smorgasburg is all about trying new foods from different places.  I decided to try coxinhas which is a kind of fritter from Brazil.  The cheese filled coxinhas was similar to a very melted mozzarella stick. They paired extremely well with the aioli sauce that goes with them.  The Dulce di Leche was like a bite of caramel heaven.  If the line for Big Mozz is too long, these make for a well worth it alternative. 

Your Guide to Scottish Cuisine (What and Where to Eat)

My trip to Scotland brought me all over the country which allowed me to experience a wide range of cuisine and foods.  Scottish food is underrated.  People seem to associate the “only” quality British cuisine with London, and while London is a huge culinary capital, Scotland is overlooked, especially as they provide so much industry and agriculture to the foodie world.  Take smoked salmon: the delicacy is a favorite in much of the world.  The best smoked salmon?  Scottish smoked salmon, fished straight out of the North Sea and prepared to perfection.  I recommend eating all that you can if you find yourself in Scotland.  And that isn’t all.  Scotland is known for its meats and game, along with cheeses, seafood and hearty breakfasts.  If you want to know exactly what foods to try, check out my post for Spoon University here! 

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Great places to try across Scotland:

Luigi’s (Dornoch, Scotland):  Dornoch is a tiny town up in the Highlands with a world famous golf course that attracts people from all over.  The best restaurant in the town is Luigi’s which is an excellent Scottish/Italian/seafood restaurant serving fresh oysters, lobster, and pasta.  The seafood here is amazingly fresh, and this is definitely the place to try fabulous North Sea oysters (which are, by there way, delicious).

-Boath House (Nairn, Scotland):  Boath House is a hidden gem; slightly off the beaten path, but wonderfully rewarding.  It has a very Scottish menu with most ingredients coming from the estate or nearby farms.  Everything taste extremely fresh and high quality.  The duck was one of my favorite dishes that I tried in Scotland since it was prepared perfectly and served with amazing foie gras.  The smoked salmon is also a thing of beauty.  Boath House is considered one of the top restaurants in Scotland outside of a major city and it is easy to see why.  It’s a great find and a great experience.

Scran and Scallie (Edinburgh, Scotland):  I talked more about this restaurant and the next one mentioned in my previous post about Edinburgh, but it’s worth mentioning them again due to their impeccably high quality Scottish food.  Scran and Scallie is where I tried haggis, a momentous occasion, and it is also where I had these dedacant savory pies.  You have to try haggis at some point, and a gastropub is the perfect place since they prepare in a gourmet fashion.  Scottish savory pies are really delicious in the most comforting of comfort food ways.

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The Wedgwood (Edinburgh, Scotland):  The Wedgwood is one of the top restaurants in Edinburgh, but what makes it really great is that they make an effort to serve true Scottish cuisine in a gourmet setting.  Ingredients include foraged mushrooms, Douglas fir pine, venison, pigeon, and sea spaghetti.  They put on the ultimate display of Scottish food to showcase the potential it holds.

Tail end (Dundee, Scotland):  You cannot go to Scotland without having fish and chips (unless you’re vegetarian, of course), and although the classic dish can be found in any pub, I recommend seeking out more contemporary chip shops that specialize in locally sustainable fish.  Tail end in Dundee does just that.  They take great pride in their “handsome halibut” and their delicious homemade tartar sauce.  The place is cute and trendy, making it the perfect spot to enjoy true Scottish seafood.

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-The Drouthy Cobbler (Elgin, Scotland):  Another mandatory experience in Scotland is going to a pub.  They are everywhere, but it can be a little difficult to a find a really good one that truly cares about the food they serve.  The Drouthy Cobbler is a little known hidden place in the small town of Elgin.  You can’t even access it from the main road, finding it instead in a little alley way.  The atmosphere is quaint and trendy but still feels pub-like and they serve solid Scottish food like smoked trout and salmon, sausage rolls, and bangers and mash.

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Spoon University- The National College Foodie Network

I would like to apologize in advance for my lack of content lately.  It’s college finals season, and I have a lot on my plate.  Believe me, I would much rather be writing fun articles for this blog right now.  Anyways, one thing that has kept me busy of late has been this club called Spoon University.  For those of you who don’t know, Spoon U is a nationwide blogging network of college students who write and publicize all things food ranging from fun recipes, restaurant reviews, random food hacks, and healthy lifestyles.  Everything is related to the college experience, and it’s a great way to get support about writing something that I’m passionate about.  So far, I’ve written 3 articles, but I’m hoping to write a lot more soon and will try to incorporate them into this blog.  I’ve learned a lot through the process about how internet publishing works, so it’s been great for this.  I would love if everyone were to check these articles out!

  1. The 10 Best Chobani Flavors Ranked by Taste– Greek yogurt is my go-to breakfast every morning since it is full of energy and taste delicious.  Read about what flavors I love the most!Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 11.13.33 PM.png
  2. Everything You Need to Know About Post Workout Snacks– I’m a workout junkie, and because of my competitive athlete background, I know a lot about workout nutrition.  Here is what I have to say about what to eat after a workout.  Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 11.13.08 PM.png
  3. Where to Find the Best Fried Chicken in Every State You can never go wrong with fried chicken!  Check out 50 great places to find bomb chicken everywhere across the country!Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 11.12.37 PM.png

Honestly, whether you’re in college or not, Spoon is a great site for any foodie to check out!  You’ll learn a lot and there is so much more content and info than the typical food blog.  They have a Facebook and Instagram page too which are totally cool and worth it!  And stay tuned for more of my articles which I hope to share here soon!