Monday, August 19, 2013

The First Starbucks Store at Pike Place Market

When we found out that we had to go to Seattle to board our Cruise, we did some research on things to do, and the only thing we really, really wanted to do was visit the first Starbucks Store in Pike Place Market.

Ady and I love coffee, and we both love Starbucks, the pioneer that brought coffee culture to the Philippines, so we couldn't really miss visiting a substantial part of the Starbucks history. I even remember reading about the Pike Place store in Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time, the book by Howard Schultz.

There's a Starbucks on 1st Avenue right across Pike Place Market.
That's not the first one.
If you enter the market through here, just walk to the right.
You'll see the first Starbucks Store across Pike Place street
not in the Pike Place Market building but within the general market area.
It's really a tourist attraction, with the old Starbucks logo, buskers in front,
and there is always a long line of tourists trying to get in.
You can tell that it's all tourists because everyone
is taking pictures.
They probably sell more Starbucks Pike Place
merchandise than coffee.
This is us in line, waiting for our turn to enter.
Just in case you're not sure, there are a lot of signs
that say this is The First Starbucks Store.
You see this once you get to enter the coffee shop.
If you look back towards the door, you'll see Pork n' Beans.
the Pig statue made with Coffee Beans.
The store is pretty organized, one line for order taking, the other side
of the store for waiting. There are no seats available. Totally Anti-Starbucks.
You take your pictures, mugs, and coffee and go.
When it was our turn to be served, instead of a drink
menu, we were given the merchandise menu.
For drinks, you can look at the black board,
or they probably assume you know what you want
if you're a regular customer.
After paying, people just stand and wait on the other side of the store.
Until the Barista calls your name.
I think the barista was surprised that the
 Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte we ordered (to share)
was claimed by Sofia. Hahaha.
Ady with our CDL and Pike Place Tumblers.

Ady and I each bought a Starbucks Pike Place tumbler that's only available in the very first Starbucks Store. Despite the line, this is really my kind of tourist attraction. And if you want a pastry to go with your coffee, Piroshky Piroshky, this yummy Russian Bake Shop is just a few stores down, but since they also don't have any seating, you'll just have to eat and drink while standing in the street. just saying.

The First Starbucks Store

1912 Pike Place
Seattle, WA 981011013 
(206) 448-8762

You can read about our visit to Piroshky Piroshky here.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Great Location (but Stinky) Hotel in Hong Kong at 60 West

Ady is in Hong Kong with her friends this weekend, and as I was giving her the list of my favorite places to eat, I realized I haven't blogged at all about our Hong Kong trip several long weekends ago when I went with friends with work over the Manila Day weekend. 

Friends from work while waiting to board at the airport.

We were a big group so we just chose a hotel with a nice location and there were itineraries for three categories: YOLO (You Only Live Once), Lola, and Virgin (First Timers for different things).

We stayed at 60 West Hotel.
It's called 60 West because it's on West Des Voeux Road

The location of the hotel was very convenient, we just took the Airport Express to Hong Kong Station, then it's around a 10 minute or HK$20 cab ride away. The only downside is the general area stinks. West Des Voeox Road is also known as the dried seafood street, so you can tell your near when things start to smell fishy. 
Sheung Wan MRT and the Western Market 15 minutes away on foot.
If you're travelling in a group, it's cheaper and more convenient
to go around by cab.
During the day, as soon as you step out of the hotel, you'll see and SMELL
 rows of Dried Seafood Stores beside each other.
There's a 7-11 right at the corner, so it's very easy to buy microwavable
Dimsum and High Fiber Yakult to eat at the hotel.

The hotel rooms are basic but clean and very spacious. Three of us were sharing a family suite and it was almost like having two bedrooms. 
Upon entering, there's a small kitchenette with a
microwave oven and a fridge.
From the door, you'll see a table to the right.
It can sit four people.
Then to the left is the living room area with a couch and a TV.
Beyond it are curtains that lead to the Masters Bed(room) area.
There's a King Size Bed after the curtains, which you can close for
some semblance of privacy.
On the other side of the room, after the table,
there's a divider that leads to two more beds.
In front of the two beds, they have a lot of closet
space and the normal robes and safe.
There's also a dresser area.
There's one bathroom to share.
It was small compared to the size of the whole place,
but it looked clean.
My roomies Anna and Anelle were ready to
party with the group at 1am (YOLO), while
I took the Lola category and opted to sleep instead.
I opted to sleep so I would be alive for Day 1. Sulit naman because we had a non-stop eating and shopping day. You can read about that here

The view from our room wasn't much.
But if you look closely, there are glimpses of the
water, so it's not too bad.
If you're leaving on a later flight, you can leave your luggage at the lobby.
Then you can do your last minute packing in the guest lounge on the
third floor, which is what we did.

For the convenient location, I would willingly stay at 60 West again, even if it stinks. just saying.

60 West Hotel
60-64 Des Voeux Road West, 
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong 

For perspective, our 3-night stay in the family suite was around Php10,000 per person, so our room was around Php10,000 (US$230) per night.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Brasas for Latin American Street Food

We met up with my sister's friends a few weeks ago because Pami, Ady's best friend, is home from Australia. We had to meet up on a Friday so Sofia could join us because we now take school nights seriously. They planned to eat at Brasas, a place serving Latin American Street Food and I was quite keen on trying it, given that my only taste of Latin American food was memories of our one month in Brazil.

Flashback Brazil 2011
I remember the food to be extremely expensive, and everything was salty. Including the rice, but we did have some favorite Brazilian meals.

We loved going to Bar do Juarez for the picanha (beef rump)
which is served raw, and then you cook it yourself.
We also visited the Mercado Municipal (Central Market) in Sao Paulo
for their Pasteis (pastry filled with meat, cheese or Bacalao).
We also went to Liberdade (Japantown) and I remember they
had giant dumplings. People normally just buy from the market and
eat while walking or standing around.

Back to Brasas
Brasas has dishes from different places in Latin
America but nothing really reminded me of our
Brazil staples.

When we arrived, Pami and Looloo Queen Carol, already ordered some starters so we got to try the Arepas (Grilled beef on Corn Cakes) and Patacones (Pulled Pork on Crispy Plantain-Banana Chips). I think they were ok, the sauces made them better, but I don't think I'd be craving for them in the future.
We ordered the Carne Asada Fries for a second round of starters,
and this one was my favorite! Thick fries, with beef and chili,
topped with cheese, salsa and sauce. Yummy!!!
This, I would crave for.
Then for the main dish, we ordered Puerco Asado, a Cuban dish,
with slow cooked melt in your mouth pork, with super crispy skin.
It was served with brown rice and beans and the fried plantains
used in their starters. The chimmichurri sauce didn't remind me of the
Argentinian sauce used for grilled meat that I tried in Brazil.

Ady arrived just as we finished eating, so we asked her to get us dessert to share.

I can't resist ordering Tres Leches Cake whenever I see it on the menu.
This version is good enough.
Brasas at the Podium only has a few seats inside, but they do have
a few tables outside their resto. That's one scary lady behind us.
Sofia didn't really find anything to order on the menu. The good thing is Sumosam is just beside Brasas and they allowed us to order Tempura for Sofia. They even delivered it to our table and brought us the bill. 

I enjoyed our dinner at Brasas. The pricing was reasonable at Php100+ for starters, and P200+ for their main dishes. It's definitely better than my memories of salty, expensive everyday food from Brazil so we will definitely be back. just saying.

Brasas Latin American Street Food
5th floor, The Podium, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center
Telephone: +632 570-5559 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mario's Place in Westport, CT

When we visited my aunt in Connecticut, we had a list of Must Try Restaurants, but since we didn't have a place for every meal, she also got to take us to some of her favorite Bueno, Bonito, Barato (BBB- which stands for Good, Nice and Cheap at the same time, so it's not enough that it's on sale - it has to be Good and Nice too!) places.

She brought us to Mario's Place in Westport, CT.
Even at lunch, the bar was a busy place.
She used to come here with Uncle Hans when we was still alive.
The place mat is like the bar, it has old school charm.
I was on vacation, so when Auntie Celit that the bread was good.
I had to try it and she was right. Crusty parts for me, soft parts for Fi.
But it was the butter that was to die for. Super salty and rich.
We took home what was left on the table. Hahahahaha.
Auntie Celit and Uncle Hans used to go every Wednesday,
to have the London Broil Special.
I never had the London Broil before, it's a steak dish that was really good.
For US$8.95 - it's indeed BBB. Even Sofia enjoyed it.
Auntie Celit had the burger and it also looked good.

But the best part about Italian places is really the coffee and the dessert.
No lame-assed Capuccino here.
We also had the Tartuffo (ball of Ice Cream),
which was already sliced when it was served.
The Spumoni (Pistachio, Cherry, Chocolate and Vanilla
Ice Cream with dried fruit bits) was also good.

If you ever find yourself in CT, you may want to look up Mario's Place. I think we will now add it to our Must Eat List for a Wednesday, the next time we visit Auntie Celit. just saying.

Mario's Place
36 Railroad Pl, 
Westport, CT 06880 
United States