Restaurant Snapshot: Little Choc Apothecary Brooklyn, NY

We set the scene for this Restaurant Snapshot in a quaint little café overlooking the bustling streets of Brooklyn. Warm smells of freshly brewed tea and chocolaty smooth coffee beans waft in the air as the fresh atmosphere and décor wash over you. Little Choc Apothecary is such a calming and relaxing place to go grab brunch with a friend, sit and work for hours, or even just grab a quick lunch. This café produces some of the best crepes around, and trust me when I tell you, that you’d never guess they were a completely vegan and (almost) gluten free establishment.

This fact obviously only makes it better for me, but don’t go blabbing to your non-vegan friends just yet, in case they decide not to try them on principle. First, make them try the crepes and then when they fall in love with them, like I know they probably will, you can finally tell them the great news, theses buggers are totally vegan!

To be honest, I am a huge crepe fan; I’m a bit obsessed. But let’s be real, what isn’t there to love about crepes. They can be both savory and sweet, come on, that’s amazing! You can literally eat them for every meal, morning, noon and night, and I would totally do that! Wait a minute, this sounds like something I should actually try out one of these days, and soon. Anyway, I have always had trouble finding a crepe place that fit my dietary needs. Either the batter wasn’t gluten free/vegan or if the batter was all clear, there would be very few options for toppings and fillings, and what is a crepe really without the filling.

I was so excited when I happened to stumble upon this place during one of my frequent foursquare searches. Side note, foursquare is an awesome tool for finding restaurants and cafes. I can just type in my dietary restrictions, price point and location, then voilà it shows me tons of great options to choose from. I highly recommend checking it out the next time you’re in charge of picking a place to meet for food or drinks with friends.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program, aka crepes.

Personally, I am a big fan of the savory crepe. Now, I’m well aware that I am probably in the minority here, but savory crepes are my jam guys. I do like sweet crepes too, but the majority of the time I go to The Little Choc Apothecary, I tend to gravitate towards their savory options.

The burrito and breakfast crepe are probably my two favorites that I have tried. Everything that I’ve gotten there has been great, but those stand out to me in terms of flavor and fillings. They both have mushroom bacon, which I will admit is one of my favorite things ever. The burrito crepe also has homemade cashew cheese sauce, which is amazing, guys seriously if I could just get a side of this sauce to drink, I totally would do it, it’s that good.

The breakfast burrito is pretty standard and a good tofu scramble is always tasty, but with the added crunch of the coconut bacon and cucumber, I know it seems strange, but it totally works, this crepe excels to a whole new level.

I have also had the ‘pizza’ and’ garden of eaten’ crepe, both very tasty, but just not my favorites. I am very interested in trying the ‘room for mushroom’ crepe because it sounds wonderful. Let’s get real though, I’m interested in eventually trying all of them, and I’m sure that I probably will very soon.

As far as the sweet crepes go, I’ve only ordered one, sorry dudes. I got my crepe filled with homemade vegan Nutella and strawberries and it was very tasty. They don’t have pre-made options for their sweet crepes like they do for their savory counterparts. Instead, you get to choose your own fillings and toppings. The first two toppings are free, and then it costs 50 cents per each additional item you add on after that.

Now, apothecary is part of the name for a good reason; they serve up an expansive array of loose-leaf teas, along with several specially crafted, medicinal blends.

Such as their sniffles blend that contains, feverfew, lemon balm, and hyssop. This will help clear up your fever and allergy symptoms.

They also make a digestion tea blend, to aid an upset stomach. This includes alfalfa, dandelion, ginger, and peppermint.

Afternoon tea is also offered on their menu, in both sweet and savory options. This includes a pot of tea, a scone with clotted cream and jam, 1 slice of cake and 2 cookies for the sweet option. For the savory, they offer a pot of tea, a scone with clotted cream and jam, a savory crepe and 2 cookies.

While they do offer other coffee and espresso based drinks, I suggest sticking to the loose-leaf tea options. They are unique and a special treat that you just can’t find everywhere, unlike these other café staples.

The Little Choc Apothecary is a whimsical and inviting space that serves up some damn good food. I highly recommend you check them out if you like crepes, tea and a nice place to chill for a few hours with friends or a good book.

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Restaurant Snapshot: Blossom du Jour New York, NY

I happened upon Blossom du Jour, by complete accident one day. I was early meeting a friend for lunch and she wasn’t ready yet, so I decided to walk around the block while I waited. It’s a good thing I did too, because as I looped around the block aimlessly, I stumbled upon this quaint little restaurant.

Blossom du Jour is a small chain of vegan fast food restaurants in New York City. It has a super chill vibe to it and a wide selection of food to choose from, with some great gluten free options as well. It can be hard at times to be gluten free as well as vegan. My choices can be very limited seeing as many vegans can have gluten, and a lot of vegan foods at restaurants do contain gluten, which can be a bummer. Anyway like I was saying, they have quite a few GF options for me to choose from.

I ordered the burrito and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Mind you, I have not had a burrito in a very long time because most places do not have a GF tortilla/wrap large enough for a burrito. So, this burrito may very well have just been good and not as amazing as I thought it was, since I had sort of forgotten what they taste like. Update, they are pretty damn good. Man, I have missed burritos. The burrito had vegan cheese and vegan sour cream, both of which were great and tasted very similar to, and just as good, their dairy counterparts.

I also opted to add avocado, which was really good, but was around two dollars extra. However, I was not aware of this upon ordering. The girl at the counter asked if I would like to add avocado to my burrito and I was all, heck yeah I do without thinking to ask how much it would be. I thought maybe a dollar or so, but boy, was I wrong. While I really liked the addition of the avocado in the burrito, next time I would definitely go without it. It was creamy enough with the cheese and sour cream and didn’t really need the extra creaminess added from the avocado. The rest of the ingredients were pretty standard rice, beans, salsa and corn, all the ingredients you would expect to find in a burrito, but like I said it was good.

I was so impressed by my first visit to Blossom du Jour that I ended up going there for lunch again the next week. This time I ordered the GF beet burger. This burger was served on GF sliced bread, which I thought was a bit weird at first, but the bread was really good. It was dense and flavorful, and I really enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it more with a sandwich or as toast, opposed to a burger bun, but I got over it. The burger was a beet patty with vegan horseradish mayo lettuce and tomato. Overall I liked the burger as well, but I am in a desperate search for the best gluten free, vegan burger and sadly this was not it. It was good, but I would have preferred an actual bun and the burger was a bit too mushy for my liking. If anyone has any suggestions, please send them my way, like I said I’m desperate.

The restaurant also has salads, bowls, burgers, smoothies and shakes. Everything looked and sounded amazing.

I am especially intrigued by the shakes, I can’t tell you the last time I had a milk shake and it sounds really good.

I am really excited that I stumbled upon this place and am looking forward to going back again soon to try out more of the amazing and delicious food they have to offer.

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Coffee Or Tea: The Great Caffeine Debate

I have been trying to drink less coffee as of late, shocker I know, but hear me out. I love coffee, but I don’t need all that caffeine and not to mention the fact that coffee dehydrates you. I am not giving up caffeine, but I am choosing to drink tea with less caffeine than coffee, for the most part. I need all the water and hydrating drinks I can get, especially with this nice weather as it is getting closer to summer. Unfortunately I can tell the different between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and I don’t like the decaf, sorry, but I just don’t. So in lieu of my new life choice, I have been trying to drink more tea, hot, iced, latte and lukewarm, you name it, I’ve tried it.

I do like tea and I always have, but I want to find tea that I love the way I love coffee. I do love a good chai and green tea latte, but those are mostly milk based and I am trying to drink less milk. If I am drinking tea, I would like to reap the full benefits of the tea and not muck it up with milk. I do realize adding milk to tea doesn’t counter act the health benefits of tea, but it does make it a bit less healthy and a bit more fattening than if I just had plain old tea leaves and water.

Keeping that in mind, I bought some tea to drink at home; one because it gave me an excuse to go shopping, even if it was just for tea, and two, because I wanted to try out some more unique blends at home. Unfortunately I don’t live near any tea shops that I can go to on a regular basis to try out new teas. Currently I just have basic coffee shops that have the regular, green, black and herbal tea.

Excuse me for wanting more variety and excitement with my tea choices, the things I find exciting in life, might be a bit strange, but it’s my life and my tea.

So I bought a variety of teas to taste test. I bought all loose leaf tea, mostly because I like the taste of it better. I find it to be fresher and more flavorful than the tea that comes in the bags. Also, as an added bonus, it is waste free since the tea leaves can be composted and you aren’t throwing away the bag and string from your used tea bag that comes with most conventional tea.

Also you get to buy a cute, or not cute, tea infuser. This helps you to brew your tea more easily so you can remove the leaves out of your tea after it is done brewing, mess free.

Anyway I found a few teas that I have been loving, which are:

I have also hunted down a few tea shops that I like to frequent when I am out on the town. I realize that just made me sound like a sixty year old woman, with five cats, but I can assure you I don’t own any cats and I promise I do also frequent the local bars and hot spots. But who doesn’t love a good cup of tea every once and a while, am I right?

David’s Tea and Argo Tea are my two favorite places to go get tea, when I don’t feel like making it at home, or I just feel like going out and buying some tea, dammit, then walking to the nearest park to read a good book and drink my tea.

Ooh that sounds pretty great, excuse me while I go do that.

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Flash Review: Zing Anything – Citrus Zinger

I have recently purchased the Citrus Zinger, by Zing Anything and I am absolutely in love with it. The Citrus Zinger is a new, dare I even say innovative, type of water bottle. It allows you to juice (citrus) fruit in the bottom of your water bottle and instantly integrate it into your water. It is not the most life changing, brain shattering idea in the world, but I love it. It makes it so much easier to drink fruit infused water, when it is all combined into two easy steps. Juice your fruit, flip the bottle over add water and shake. Okay so that might be more than two steps, but you get what I mean, it’s easy, fast and fun. I got the biggie juicer, which sounds a bit ridiculous, but all it means is that you can juice bigger fruit in it such as oranges or grapefruits. It is also a bigger size and holds 32 oz. of water. I really like that it is 32oz. because then I know I only need to drink two bottles a day to hit my daily goal of water intake; if I drink more, great!

The only down side I would say is that the straw does not reach the bottom of the bottle, because the juicer gets in the way, so you can not completely empty the bottle which is a bummer and leads me to believe that I am probably only drinking about 30oz or a bit less instead of the 32oz that the bottle advertises as its size. This isn’t the hugest deal in the world as I normally drink a glass of water for dinner or a small glass in the morning with my breakfast, which makes up for the small amount left in the bottle and I can still know that I have drank enough water for the day. Again, not a big deal and if that’s the only problem I can find with it, then I’m a pretty happy camper.

Another thing I really like about this is that the juice flavor lingers so I can juice half a lemon and fill my bottle up twice and still taste the lemon which is good for several reasons. I don’t have to use another lemon so I am saving money and fruit. Also, I don’t have to worry about the hassle of taking apart my water bottle and re-juicing; not that it’s difficult, but it is nice to know that I can just refill my water bottle and still taste the sour citrusy taste of lemon, lime etc.

I like the taste, or lack thereof , of water, but sometimes it’s nice to add a little bit of an extra zing, pun intended, into my water. I get bored with drinking 64oz. plus of just plain water. The fruity taste helps me to drink my water faster and to drink more of it as well. I can drink several glasses of plain water, but then I start to crave some type of taste or flavor and the fruit adds just the right amount of sweetness that I need. It also helps to curb my appetite more than just plain water.

What else can I say, I think that this water bottle is a great and convenient idea and I love mine! I love taking it to work and trying to finish the whole thing. I get this weird sense of accomplishment when I hit my water goal for the day and this water bottle just makes it so easy to do and it also makes it a bit more fun too.

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Restaurant Snapshot: The Flint Crepe Company Flint, MI

The Flint Crepe Company is a small little gem in the heart of downtown Flint, that popped up in 2011 and has quickly become a local favorite, and for good reason I might add. Everything at the restaurant is homemade or bought locally including milk, meat and vegetables. Each crepe, coffee or latte is made to order right in front of you so you can see that they are only using the best and freshest ingredients. They also have gluten free crepe batter, which is a must for me, but also a great option for them to have for their customers. Another great thing about them is that they can make almost any crepe vegan. They have tempeh which can easily be substituted in for any type of meat and then simply ask for it without cheese. I’m not going to lie, it is much easier for a vegetarian to get crepes there than a vegan because they just have to sub out the meat. A great majority of their sweet crepes are made with some type of dairy in them, thus I have only gotten the chance to try out their savory options. They do allow you to create your own crepe, which is a great option as well; you don’t have to substitute anything because you are choosing exactly what you want to go in it.

They also have great coffee and lattes at The Flint Crepe Company and they offer both almond and soy milk options, which is fantastic since I try to stay away from soy as much as possible; I also happen to just like the taste of almond milk better than soy milk. For the short time The Flint Crepe Company has been open, it has made quite an impact in the coffee world. It was named as the third best coffee shop in Michigan in MLive’s Michigan’s Best Coffee Shop Challenge with John Gonzalez.

I have tried the Rueben and the Fall Harvest Crepe, as well as making my own concoction a few times and I have yet to be disappointed with my choices or my meal. The same goes with the coffee. I have had the chai latte, the regular latte and a cappuccino, all with almond milk of course, and have enjoyed them all.

If you ever find yourself in the downtown Flint area, I would highly recommend stopping by The Flint Crepe Company and trying out one of their sweet or savory crepes, depending on your mood, or just grabbing a quick, but good, coffee or latte to go.

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