I’m kind of sick of the brioche. There, I said it.
The brioche doesn’t have the buttery appeal of the croissant. If I can’t have one sitting down in a cafe with a decent coffee, I kind of don’t care. I’d rather put together my own little breakfast, with imperfectly made coffee from a moka than drink lukewarm milk and munch on some sugar. So, no more brioche posts for a little while. Instead, I’m sharing some delectable breakfast options with you guys. There are plenty out there. In fact, it’s the absolute litany of delicious choices that keeps me from heading to the pasticceria for a brioche.
Here are some delicious meals that will make sure that you don’t skip the most important meal of the day, no matter how little sleep you got the night before, how rushed you are or how empty the fridge may be. After writing this, I’m thinking it might be a breakfast-for-dinner kind of day … what do you think?
Ginger, Lemon, Strawberry Avocado Toast – Avocado toast is a classic, simple breakfast, but this sweet/savory version is the perfect way to revamp it for spring. I’m thinking blackberries would also be fantastic on this tartine.
Baked Breakfast Cookie – Unlike the cookies Italian children eat for breakfast, these aren’t loaded down with sugar and flour. Instead, they’re fortified with nut butter, oats, protein powder and whatever mix-ins you can imagine. I like to use sunflower seed butter, but almond butter, cashew butter, even tahini would work.
Raw Oatmeal - The idea is the same as muesli/overnight oats, but what I love about this recipe is that it breaks it down and makes it QUICK. After all, who can remember to prepare breakfast in the evening anyway.
Lemon Blueberry Waffles – When it comes to an indulgent breakfast, I fall solidly into the waffles/french toast camp. These lemon blueberry waffles look to die for and perfect for a lazy, spring brunch. Bonus? They’re vegan and gluten free so everyone can enjoy.
Cake Batter Green Smoothie – It’s a little bit ridiculous how obsessed I am with this smoothie. Although you can make it super healthy, I like to kick up the indulgence a bit by using Liberté coconut yogurt. Trust me, after trying this, greens for breakfast won’t sound so strange. In fact, you may start craving it.
Kale, Egg and Avocado Toast A variation on this is one of my favorite quick lunches, the addition of avocado is fantastic for a lazy weekend breakfast. Don’t have kale? You could also use chard, spinach, arugula, or any leaf you don’t mind wilting a bit!
Yogurt with Peanut Butter, Honey and Graham Crackers Looks incredible decadent, but depending on which yogurt you use, this is a surprisingly healthy breakfast! Greek yogurt and a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter (or almond butter, or sunflower seed butter, or chocolate hazelnut butter … the possibilities are endless) are delicious enough on their own, but the addition of graham crackers makes a fun addition. I would leave out the honey or replace it with jam. Fig or apricot sounds good to me!
What is your favorite weekend breakfast?
Two years. That’s how long I’ve been writing this blog for. I’ll be honest with you, I’m shocked. WHAT AM I STILL DOING HERE? Shouldn’t I have found a better way to pass the time? Shouldn’t I have gotten rid of my compulsion to take photos of coffee, croissants and write about books? Maybe, but I most certainly haven’t.
I didn’t know what this space would become when I started. I discovered the amazing world of blogs when bored with essay writing during my first year of university. At first, I thought I was going to write a slice-of-life blog. Sharing daily ideas, thoughts, actions and meals. Soon, I realized that’s not what I wanted to share. I want to think about my favorite things. I want to share with you all the things that make me smile when my entire day feels like one big thunderhead cloud.
Here’s to another year full of writing, coffee drinking, traveling and, most importantly, of living
Name one thing that you surprised yourself with during the past year!
I have often said, half-jokingly, that I would go anywhere for coffee. This sentiment refers to drives through the very Jewish section of Williamsburg to get Gimme Coffee on Roebling street, walks along Eastern Parkway into could-be Crown Heights and into the Bearpit of Bristol. While I’m never actually venturing anywhere dangerous, I was reminded in a surprising way of that joke.
I took the metro to the beautifully named Chateau Rogue, envisioning walking into an arrondisment that was adorned like Versailles, or something of that ilk. Instead, I exited onto the colorfully named Rue du Poulet, Chicken Street. Maybe it was the people who were trying to outdo each other on umbrella sales, the fact that they seemed very scared and began running when a police car drove by or the generally dilapidated state of the buildings, but I soon realized I didn’t stumble into an idyllic countryside palace. Fortunately, the street was short and, once past it, I was back into a regular Williamsburg-of Paris neighborhood.
When I was planning my trip to Paris in January, I read about Black Market and put on my must-go list. I didn’t make it that trip — it was too far — but when I saw that I would be staying nearby on my most recent stay, I immediately knew that my trip would include a coffee at Black Market.
And, my goodness, am I glad it did.
Like in many European cities, most stores shut down on Sunday in Paris, leaving you to really examine your life or hang out with friends over brunch (an increasing possibility). While I wasn’t feeling much like brooding or brunching, an excellent cup of coffee did sound quite nice. Even with most of the city closed, Black Market was crowded with customers. I sat down at the end of the communal table, glanced at the menu and quickly ordered my noisette when the waiter/barista popped on over.
The pace was slow, fittingly so for Sunday. By the time my coffee and a little glass of water arrived, I was ready to start sipping it. It was fantastic, one of the best coffees I’ve had not in Paris, but anywhere. It was rich and nutty with a pleasing tongue-coating chocolate taste. I wanted the cup to go on and on, but I managed to finish it too quickly.
Unlike other Parisian coffee shops, which seem surprisingly curated in their disarray, Black Market had a pleasing messiness that I normally associate with New York coffee shops. It was cozy and an easy place in which to hang out. The food there, which many people around me had ordered, looked delicious. American coffee shops need to take a cue from their European cousins and bump up their food offerings. Of course, the meal that’s awaiting me at Black Market will have to wait for another trip.
Is there anything you’ll travel far and wide for? Strangest place to which it has brought you?
I know you’ve heard the statement before. Perhaps you’ve even made it yourself, “you’ll have the best time of your life!!” Ugh.
People enjoy saying this as you embark on a big event, whether it be high school, university, a strange trip, a year abroad or a new house. We’re always being promised that the next step will hold something that’s beyond our wildest dreams. Frankly, I’m sick of it.
My year abroad has been many things, but the best time of my life is a bit of a stretch. Sure, I loved my trips to Copenhagen, Berlin and Paris. I’ve enjoyed my weekly pilgrammiage to The Bagel Factory; however, the amount of time I have spent complaining over a milky cappuccino, moaning about library closures or waiting on Italian bureaucracy solidly remove my time in Italy from the dreamy year abroad category.
If I dwell in the idea that every third year abroad student is having the best time of their life, I get a bit lonely. From talking with other Erasmus student and overhearing conversations in English, I get the feeling that we’re all thinking similar: nope, this is NOT the best time of my life.
Luckily, it doesn’t HAVE to be the best time. In fact, I’d be a bit suspicious if living alone in a country with a very different culture was the pinnacle of your existence. I wouldn’t believe you if you told me you enjoyed the challenge of getting an Italian visa. Not in the slightest.
Here’s the thing: living in a very foreign country is HARD. There are going to be miscommunications, misunderstandings, cultural affectations that bother you, personal cultural affectations that you didn’t know you had, foods you miss, stores you realize you can’t live without, friends who are too far away, awkward time differences and a feeling of otherness. None of this stuff is bad, but it’s not exactly fun.
The conversation that sparked my reflection on this overused and erroneous statement was an overheard conversation at Costume Cafe. My English-starved ears heard some Americans discussing their day. They were in Paris, bored and wanted the comfort of their university back home. observing their meal at a brilliant third-wave cafe in Paris, I would have thought they were jubiliant to be abroad. No matter what the trappings are, living abroad is hard.
Of course, it’s these difficulties that make it so important. How can we know our own culture if we don’t seize the opportunity to live in another one? How can we understand our indentity if we don’t know about people who are different from us? It’s all part of getting comfortable by being uncomfortable.
So, no, the year abroad hasn’t been the best experience of my life. Seeing as the next couple weeks are going to be filled with exams, I don’t think that’s going to change. My time in Italy has opened my eyes to many things, but I’m thrilled to be turning to Bristol next year. A city which, despite being abroad, certainly feels like home to me now.
What do you think of describing an even or an experience as the best time of your life?
I knew I had to try a croissant in Copenhagen and, although I toyed around with the idea of doing so on my birthday, the allure of brunch and a free breakfast (hey, that city is gosh darn expensive) were too much. I found myself, on the morning of 6 May and a plane ticket back to Milan stamped with the same date and no croissant in my belly. Something had to be done.
Luckily, my hotel was right by a brilliant little bakery called Lagkagehuset. I needn’t have had to worry much. By little, I mean that this is often cited as being one of the best bakeries in Copenhagen. Seeing as my mother and I pretty much ate our way through their offerings, I can attest that it’s quite true.
I dodged the bikes to cross the street and walked in, ripping a number out of the little plastic machine. I was called nearly immediately, ordered a croissant(er) and a cortado and sat down in an adorable window seat. All the Danes were biking to work, school, their Monday obligations. I’ve never seen so many bikes winding their way through the streets, it was quite exciting to see.
The croissant? It was fine. Better than an Italian brioche, but not quite the croissant I had at Maison Laurent or Almondine. The texture was a bit dry, but not reminiscent of bread in the slightest. I delighted in pulling apart the layers, dunking the stiff-but-not-crunchy ends in my cortado and picking up the crumbs that fell onto the bag with my thumb. Watching Copenhagen pass by from a pleasingly informal stool was a bonus.
My croissant at Lagkagehuset wasn’t the best on I ever ate, but I enjoyed the experience more than you might expect. There are definitely better pastries to try in Copenhagen — føldeboller and frøsnapper for example — but if you’re a croissant fanatic like me, Lagkagehuset is an excellent place to try the Danish interpretation.
What do you eat for breakfast when you are on vacation?
If you couldn’t tell from my Copenhagen trip post, I’m a little bit obsessed with the Danish city. Not only is it completely gorgeous with fantastic museums and good food, the coffee there is top-notch. When planning a trip to most cities, it behoves you to look for some café addresses before you go to ensure that you won’t be served a cup of aromatic soot. With Copenhagen, however, you’ll find a decent cup almost anywhere.
I didn’t take my own advice and sank quite a few hours searching for brilliant coffee in Copey (as my mother has taken to calling the city). Everyone pointed me in the direction of The Coffee Collective. After that, however, the must-visits seemed to be up for grabs. So I grabbed a few of my own.
The first thing I did in Copenhagen, after finding my mother in the hotel, was go out to get coffee. We found Estate Coffee on our way to somewhere else and, hungry for caffeine, stopped in for a cortado, a cappuccino and some bread with a slice of Danish cheese. Both drinks came with squares of valrhona chocolate on the side; always a welcome touch. My cortado was good, nothing to knock you over the head, but solid. My mother liked her cappuccino, but did complain about not being able to taste the coffee enough. For just stumbling onto the café, we agreed that it was a good omen for even better coffee to come once we searched it out.
On Saturday morning we went to Democratic Coffee, near Copenhagen University. We “split” a cortado and a pour-over. While the pour-over was very good, the cortado definitely stole the show. There was the perfect balance between rich, berry-like coffee and sweet, creamy milk. The pour-over was similarly berry-like and sweet. My mother added a bit of milk, which even I have to admit was nice with this coffee. We both loved sitting in the window, watching the people of Copenhagen go about their Saturday routine.
There was no way I could spend our afternoon trip in Malmö without trying some Swedish coffee. We walked across the small city to a gorgeous, bustling café, Solde, and got a cortado and cappuccino from an extremely Swedish-looking barista. These coffees were some of the best ones that I’ve ever had. Perhaps it was the gorgeous Swedish afternoon, the cool but not crafted interior or just really great coffee, but I loved that cup. It was definitely a lighter, brighter coffee than you find in most American cafes and wasn’t muddled by the milk. We also got a lemon/vanilla croissant to split. My mother loved it, while I preferred the crispy ends to the creamy filling.
The first stop on my birthday tour, after brunch at Lyst, was The Coffee Collective. Although we enjoyed sitting outside while drinking our coffee, the café itself has got to be one of the coolest that I’ve ever seen. There was no distinction between bar/behind the bar/seating area. The espresso machine was pushed up against one wall, there was a roaster in the corner and a couple small tables near the windows. The Coffee Collective is a quintessential third-wave café. While I really enjoyed this coffee, it wasn’t quite as spectacular as some of the other ones I had. I can’t really tell you why I didn’t love it. Perhaps it was partly because all of the other ones I had drunk were beyond. It was fantastic, definitely go, but I would recommend getting an espresso or pour over instead of a cortado. You want to taste the coffee here and you just can’t enough in a cortado.
In the afternoon, when both my mother and I were beginning to weary, we stopped at The Coffee Factory. Oh my gosh, I loved this cortado. It was rich, creamy and satisfying. Sometimes I feel like coffee can satisfy like a meal and this was definitely one of those cups. My mother got an Americano, which, although she liked, we both agreed wasn’t quite as earth-shatteringly amazing as the cortado. It was a total surprise to find such good coffee here and I definitely recommend a trip to anyone in Copenhagen. The central location is just a bonus.
On my final day, I decided to head to Riccos Coffee Bar, not because I heard the coffee was supposed to be particularly great, but rather because it seemed to be a quintessential Copenhagen hang out. I’d say I was right. I went to the location near the university, got a cortado and hung out around all the students working on group projects and talking in a mix of Danish and English. The cortado was good, definitely better than what you’d find at a comparable place in New York, like say Think Coffee. It wasn’t the best cup in Copenhagen, but the atmosphere more than made up for it.
I had such a fun time exploring coffee in Copenhagen. Since Scandinavians consume so much coffee, they’re pretty good at making it consistently well. From the ability to be able to find a cortado everywhere, to the flavor profile, I already feel like I left a bit of my coffee heart in Copenhagen. It’s a true must-visit for any coffee fanatic!
Do you have a favorite city in which to find a good cup of coffee?
Have you heard of Le Bal Café? Or perhaps Costume Café rings a bell? I’d be willing to bet you are enthusiastically nodding your head yes if you’re following Parisian coffee. They’re kind of important.
My intention, in quotes, was to visit both Le Bal and Costume during my trip to Paris. Well, turns out Le Bal serves coffee pretty much only with your meal and I couldn’t be bothered to give up a meal of baguette, cheese and grated carrot salad in my apartment in favor of a meal in North Paris. Next time, Le Bal, next time.
I did, however, make it to Costume Café and I am most glad I did. This café, located a pleasant ten minutes away from La Grande Epicierie/Le Bon Marche on Rue Babylone, is best known for their American-style brunch. They also serve some delicious coffee. I went there mid-afternoon on a rainy Friday to warm up and recharge before scouring the streets of Paris for chocolate … and art.
The people who sat next to me were American study abroad students. I heard some more a couple tables away. A british family sat down next to me. Costume Café was Anglophone expat central. I could have been disappointed that I wasn’t hob-nobbing with real Parisians, but I could do enough of that on the metro. Instead, I was excited at the prospect of good coffee and happy that foreign Paris dwellers have a third wave café nearby to remind them of home. A café that was a mix between third-wave coffee shop, European café and restaurant.
After perusing the menu and managing to ask a couple questions and understand the answers, I ordered a macchiato. There was no noisette. Luckily, when my coffee arrived in a little duralex glass, I saw realized that Costume Café’s macchiato was very similar to a New York cortado.
The main flavor of this coffee was overwhelmingly dark chocolate. I could be as awkwardly precise as to say Lindt 70%. It had a mouthfeel similar to that chocolate as it melts with a raspberry/black currant like acidity. Yes, I got that complex. It took a while.
As much as I enjoyed Costume Café, the space got me contemplating the place of the third-wave café in European cities in a surprisingly uncomfortable manner. Are these third-wave coffee shops about Anglophone cultures trying to reclaim a bit of their European past? When we open them up in other cities, are we just trying to foist a bit of our culture onto theirs? As someone who is writing an essay about Italian coffee culture, these are the kinds of things that run through my mind.
Overall, I really enjoyed Costume Café. I’d go as far as to say that I loved it. While it wasn’t one of my favorite Parisian coffee shops, it was pretty gosh darn fantastic. I can’t wait to head back for lunch. But I might take a trip to Le Bal Café first.
Do you ever return to a city to try something you missed the first time?