Houston Bites: Ca Phe Phin- Vietnamese Coffee House

Cà Phê Phin. The name has a catchy sound to it. Cà phê is actually the Vietnamese word for coffee and phin is the drip by drip brewing process that they use to make the coffee. Me and my friends were looking for a cafe that we hadn’t been to before in Houston, and so this place seemed like the perfect find. You may have driven by this place numerous times not knowing what quenching drinks lay inside (If you are a Houstonian, that is). This coffee house lays tucked away in the middle of a shopping center on Nasa Rd 1. It is right next to Akimi Sushi & Stir Fry, which is a great landmark to have to find this place. Located in Houston, this cafè has quite the prime location as it is a minute’s drive from Nasa Space Center. If you are looking for a laid-back, calm atmosphere to talk to your friends, do some homework, or just get a drink, then this is a place that you should put down on your to-do list. I, myself, will be coming back for sure to try some of their different drinks.

Right when we walked in, we instantly felt the inviting and cozy atmosphere. The sunlight, shining in from the large windows, lit up the whole interior and gave it a very nice and natural feel. The funky cultural artifacts around gave additional character to the small space.

Ca Phe PhinCa Phe Phin

Here is the menu that we spent forever looking at. I personally am a big green tea and thai tea person, but I decided to try something different while here. The Ca Phe Sua was described as a translucent, rich smooth drink with light condensed milk and so I tried that one out in frappe form!

Menu

The delicious Ca Phe Sua frappe! It had a strong coffee taste but was creamy and satisfying. If you love coffee, but want a cold drink for the day then I would suggest you try out the Ca Phe Sua.

Ca Phe Sua Frappe

One of my friends got the Banana Japanese Green Tea Frappe, but without the bananas. This drink did not have a bitter after-taste as some green tea frappes do, so this is one you will enjoy!

Green Tea Frappe

And finally, pictured on the left is the pineapple slush. Even though this a coffee house and you would think that the only good products would be the coffee, the pineapple slush did not disappoint. For those people who prefer fruity over coffee drinks, this is a go-to! On the right is the salted caramel frappe, which again tasted just as one would expect, with a hint of salted caramel. All of us finished our drinks and left with the intention of returning to try the other delights that we did not get a chance to. I really wanted to get the toasted sesame frappe. I am curious as to how that one will taste, but we will have to wait till the next visit.

pineapple slush

 

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Final Foodie Adventure of 2013 in ATL

Happy New Year’s all!! Before I share any new recipes, here are a few pictures from my last foodie adventure of 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia :)

The highlight of my winter break was definitely visiting Atlanta with my friends. The purpose of the trip was to attend a dear friend’s wedding there and we all decided to make a food adventure out of it in the meantime. I mean, might as well, right? Anyways, Atlanta is definitely known for having quite a number of local cafes that we wanted to visit. Unfortunately, not everything always goes as planned and you just find yourself waking up at noon sometimes. One of the more memorable breakfasts that we did have though was at Krispy Kreme donuts. Krispy Kreme locations are quite sparse around the United States, so there’s always that bit of excitement when you find a location. We got an assortment of creme filled, custard filled, apple fritters, and even a few red velvet donuts! The red velvet donut itself was more than filling, very sweet along with a cakey texture.

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme Overload

We attempted for more of a healthy lunch, well lunches over the next few days. Lunches ranged from panini sandwiches from Corner Bakery to authentic pizzas from Anticos and Korean tacos from Takorea. Corner Bakery is a chain eatery similar to Panera Bread. Although we were trying to avoid chains to be able to try more of the local foods, in dire situations sometimes you settle for anything. We had decided to take the train around the city that day, and so our freedom in choosing a place to eat was greatly reduced. Corner Bakery just happened to be very close to us and we decided to give it a go. I ordered a broccoli cheddar soup with a half sandwich that did not disappoint. Broccoli cheddar soup hasn’t failed me so far, and if you haven’t tried it I highly recommend you do so!

Corner Bakery

Cornery Bakery Sandwich and Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Sometimes it’s quite difficult to go through the day without a snack. That is, especially when you spot a large vintage sign from a distance with the letters “Funnel Cakes” on it, while walking through Olympic Centennial Park. Somehow we found ourselves waiting in line for one of these crunchy and satisfying creations. After getting a fresh funnel cake, it was difficult resisting one bite while waiting for everyone to take the obligatory food picture before digging in. As the multitude of forks dug in, it reduced and reduced until there was just powdered sugar left on the plate.

Chocolate Drizzled Funnel Cake

Chocolate Drizzled Funnel Cake

As the journey continued throughout the days, we came about Antico’s. Antico’s appealed to me due to the high volume of lengthy reviews that it received on Yelp, along with the mouth watering pictures. First off, when you visit a restaurant there are two main components that contribute to your experience: the atmosphere and of course the food itself. Unfortunately the atmosphere was very busy, definitely not one where you would sit down and peacefully savor your slice of pizza. It seemed like a place where you had to fight for a table to at least claim an area large enough for your group. The upside though was that it was a very interactive and lively atmosphere. The art of the pizza making was wide open to be viewed as you could sit and view the dough making and other intricacies of the pizza process. A few pictures later, we were ready to eat our pizza. I expected that they would have some sort of outdoor seating, but after asking the waiter, who replied telling me and a friend that it was not her problem where we ate our pizza and we can sit wherever. I was really surprised and shocked at her reply. We quickly left the unwelcoming waiter and told our group to look elsewhere outside for a spacious area. There was actually a gelato place next door and so we went inside to find large tables. Just what we were looking for! We bought a few drinks and sat down to finally eat.

Pizza Making

Behind the Scenes at Antico’s

Margharita Pizza

Antico’s Margharita & Four Cheese Pizzas

The final lunch was at Takorea, a hipster Korean Mexican fusion restaurant. The interior design of this place topped off all the previous restaurants that we had visited. It had a nice daylight feel to it that was fresh and crisp. The funky light fixtures along with the misplaced garage glass doors and iron wrought chairs put together a nice mood.

Takorea

Takorea’s Interior

Takorea

More of Takorea’s Interior

The food at Takorea was an interesting mix. Most of us though enjoyed the appetizer a lot more than our main dish. The appetizer that we got was the Gogi Nachos. I think it was the beef and the special sauce that they made along with it that made the nachos so irresistible. One bite from these nachos left me wanting more and more haha.

Takorea's Gogi Nachos

Takorea’s Gogi Nachos

Takorea's Chicken Burrito with Kimchi Fried Rice

Takorea’s Chicken Burrito with Kimchi Fried Rice

Our only dinner in ATL out, asides from the wedding and reception dinners, was at Mary Mac’s Tea Room. It sounded like the perfect soul food to have on any day and it sure beat that seafood eatery we were about to go to. This restaurant had a very homey feel to it and was structured similar to a colonial home from inside.

Mary Mac's Tea Room

Mary Mac’s Tea Room

The ordering process was quite unique at this place as we had to write down our orders on a slip of paper with various sections regarding what you would want. The portion size was quite large for the price, not to mention the bread appetizers that the placed out that were to die for! We felt like we were going to get full off of just the appetizers: flaky moist cinnamon bread rolls, yeast honey rolls, and corn bread. I kept hearing phrases like, “I’m only going to have another half” or “last one, I promise!” They were so good that we asked the waiter to give us another serving of the cinnamon bread to go. Why not have a delicious midnight snack for the night?

Mary Mac's Order Slips

Mary Mac’s Order Slips

After some amazing appetizers, we had quite high expectations for the food itself. A few of us were disappointed with the orders sadly. Taking into account how much I love Thanksgiving food, I couldn’t do anything but love the food that I ordered. The mac n cheese was a little watery, but everything else was on point, reliving that comfort food style present during Thanksgiving feasts.

Mary Mac's Turkey Plate

Mary Mac’s Turkey Plate with Cornbread Dressing and Sides of Mac n Cheese & Fried Okra

To end this long-winded post, I present the best cup of mocha that I have ever had. My image of Starbucks as top dog at coffee making was quickly put to rest after drinking this beautiful cup of caffeine! Well, hope you enjoyed my food endeavors and feel free to comment below to share any of yours :)

Octane's Mocha Coffee

Octane’s Mocha Coffee

What Better Than A Pumpkin Spice Latte with Choc Swirl Pumpkin Pie?

There’s no season for me when it comes to pumpkin spice anything. It can be eaten anytime & anywhere. Some foods though do just happen to taste better in certain types of weather than others. I guess we can say that Pumpkin Spice is one of those, because it just goes perfect with the nice crispy & chilly fall weather outside! I am in love with this weather because it brings back so many of my past memories from chilly Chicago winters. I always look forward to the Starbucks signature seasonal drinks, one of them being the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The last time I bought it though, it just tasted too sugary and syrupy so I decided that I should attempt to remake it on my own terms. The recipe I found was amazing because it makes enough to last you for about 8 lattes. You can just refrigerate it during the week and take it out whenever you please.

The Famous Pumpkin Spice Latte

Ingredients:

For the Pumpkin Spice Syrup:

  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree or 2 cups of homemade pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice mixture or ( 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp ground dried ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp allspice)

Remaining Ingredients:

  • ready made coffee
  • whipped cream

Directions:

  1. Combine all the pumpkin spice ingredients in a blender and puree for about 30 seconds or till your desired consistency
  2. Pour about 1/2 cup of the mix in a mug and microwave for about 15 seconds
  3. Add a cup of hot brewed coffee and stir
  4. Finish it off with some whipped cream and pumpkin spices
  5. Pour the rest of your mixture in a container to put in the fridge (it will last up to one week)

Chocolate Swirl Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

Crust

  •  1 1/2 cup crushed gingersnap cookies
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of salt

Pie

  • 15 oz. can pumpkin puree or 2 cups of homemade pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Nutella (or 4 oz of good quality chocolate)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin spices mix (1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat to 350 F

  1. Spray 9 inch pie dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside
  2. Combine the crushed gingersnap cookies with the butter, sugar, and salt
  3. Press into the prepared pie dish about halfway up the sides
  4. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes and let it cool
  5. Meanwhile whisk the eggs together and add all the ingredients for the pie except for the chocolate Nutella
  6. Keep one cup of the mix on the side and pour the rest of it into the pie crust
  7. Mix the one remaining cup of pie mix with the Nutella
  8. Drop spoonfuls of the mix all over the pie and swirl it gently with a knife
  9. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the filling is set

Any favorite seasonal recipes or foods?