Percolating Thoughts

A blog about food, dessert, and above all else, coffee.

The Places List (Sorted by City)

Rosinka Wine & Tea House

As useful as Yelp is, some places always manage to slip under the radar. Rosinka has been around for six months, but I didn’t discover it until last week! Located across Rice Blvd. from Snowblock Shavery and other businesses, the exterior is low-key and easy to miss, but the inside is charming and they offer a solid selection of tea, coffee, and wine.

Andrew and I enjoyed our afternoon here after a brief errands run in Clear Lake (we split a pot of Silver Needle White Tea for about $5)! I don’t think they have wifi, but otherwise, this place seems like a cute study spot with reasonably-sized tables and quiet, casual jazz music.  Hopefully I’ll be back soon to try their espresso - the lady highly recommended it. :D

Side note: A bunch of the Wiessmen returned that following Friday for wine tasting. They said the lady was quite flustered to suddenly be serving 8 people. Whoops. :P

Rosinka Wine & Tea House
2509 Rice Blvd
Houston, TX 77005 
West University

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"Tell a friend!", they said. Oh yes, don’t mind if I do!

This afternoon, I was lucky enough to stumble upon the grand opening of Philz Coffee in Santa Monica. I had heard of this coffee shop in the past, but recently came back from being abroad and had no idea they were opening up a location in socal!

Once I stepped inside, I was swept off my feet by the enthusiasm of the staff (including Jacob, the Big Boss). It was contagious too! After conferring with the barista and pondering over their incredible array of roast blends, I was pumped for my personal, fresh cup of Jacob’s Wonderbar pour over!

They aerate the coffee before serving it to you, so the coffee foam is practically spilling over the cup. I ordered the coffee black, and it was both strong and tasty. Next time though, I’ll go ahead and ask for it “Philz Way”, because I feel like I could trust the staff here with my life.

Yes, there will be many a “next time”. That mint mojito iced coffee is calling my name too!

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Philz Coffee
525 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401

The nondescript doorway is easy to miss when driving by (look for the 9 on the fence), so I was wowed by the open, airy space once I stepped inside. Initially I was a bi confused as to where to go, because there were so many little sections in the warehouse space.

Luckily, the barista came smiling along and helped us out. He said they roast one kind of coffee per week, which they switch out every week. And you can have it served however you’d like, hot, cold, cappuccino, you name it! Typically, I would go for the latte, but it was burning hot that afternoon, so I opted for the iced coffee to go.

To our surprise, the coffee was served in a jar, which I admit was adorable. I’m not a fan of iced coffee, so it was hard for me to gauge how much I would have actually loved my drink. This place shows a lot of promise though, so I can’t wait to come back for some fresh hot coffee, summer heat and all!

Iced coffee to go (outdoor patio in the background)

Bar 9 Collective
3515 Helms Ave
Culver City, CA 90232 Culver City

Saving the best for last, I took a trip to Cinque Terre for my final weekend in Italy! Not only did I get a chance to meet up and hang out with Will & Annie (Will was one of my closest friends in middle school), but the views we saw were breathtaking. But for this blog, I am obviously going to be posting about the food! We feasted like kings this weekend, so here are a few highlights!image

Fresh pesto alla genovese from Luigina Il Laboratorio del Pesto, accompanied by focaccia from next door. (Levanto)image

Fried mixed seafood cone: calamari, octopus, anchovies, onion rings, zucchini, & fries with sprinkled lemon juice. (Riomaggiore)image

Primo Piatto: handmade reginette pasta with ragú di mare. (Riomaggiore)
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Alberto Gelateria: BASILICO GELATO. BETTER THAN I EVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED. Creamy basil goodness with strong hints of cheese (pecorino or parmesan, I think? The fact that it was in gelato was throwing me off). Will recommends pairing it with the Miele 5 Terre (honey). Phenomenal summer treat. (Corniglia)

And last but not least: Trattoria dal Billy

We found out about this place in Manarola from Rick Steves, and it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. Gorgeous view, and delicious food. The pasta here is handmade and they give reasonable portions of seafood. This is where we really decided to treat ourselves (house wine, dessert, the whole nine yards), and Annie and I went for the cuttlefish ink pasta with seafood. Ahhh, complete satisfaction.imageimageThe view from our table on the terrace.imageimageCuttlefish ink pasta with seafood

This weekend was perfect.

Umbra Institute hosted a pizza workshop this evening, and my friends and I all signed up!
We shadowed a professional (pizzaiolo) and made our own pizzas! He showed us how to properly spread out the dough, spiral the tomato sauce, etc. The biggest struggle was moving the pizzas from the counter to the wood fire oven (a lot of us required assistance from the pizzaiolo, haha). It was quite the experience - I’ve made pizza before, but not the authentic way, and certainly not with a 700 degree oven.
Every bite was delicious, and we spent the rest of the evening chatting and laughing our heads off. Such a fun night!

Umbra Institute hosted a pizza workshop this evening, and my friends and I all signed up!

We shadowed a professional (pizzaiolo) and made our own pizzas! He showed us how to properly spread out the dough, spiral the tomato sauce, etc. The biggest struggle was moving the pizzas from the counter to the wood fire oven (a lot of us required assistance from the pizzaiolo, haha). It was quite the experience - I’ve made pizza before, but not the authentic way, and certainly not with a 700 degree oven.

Every bite was delicious, and we spent the rest of the evening chatting and laughing our heads off. Such a fun night!

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I have just returned from an early afternoon walk around the city with some friends, and am extremely pleased to announce that June has arrived, and my favorite gelato shop in Perugia (Grom) has a new flavor of the month: RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE. YES. Needless to say, I ordered it alongside a scoop of raspberry sorbet, and the result was delicious.

High off of sugar and happiness, I figured now is as good a time as any to finally sit down and make myself write about all the gelato I’ve been eating as I’ve been traveling around Italy.

CRUCIAL GELATO FUN FACT/TIP:
Look for the round metal tins! If you can see the gelato behind the glass, it’s probably kind of melty and icy (and targeted for tourists). Gelato in the tin indicates that it’s freshly made and is being stored at the right temperature. You might blow this off, but literally all of my favorite gelato has come from those round metal tins, so I believe it.

Having sampled gelato in almost every city I’ve been to, I’ve developed a rudimentary system of sorts. If it’s my first time visiting the place, I usually order pistacchio (pronounced pee-STAH-kee-oh) and crema, because pistachio is one of my favorites, and crema really lets you focus on the texture and quality of the gelato. Plus, different places have their own variations, so it’s interesting to compare. Then obviously, if I really like it, I return when I have the chance and try other flavors.

At this point in my travels (this is my fourth week in Italy…wow), there are three gelato places in particular that I would like to highlight: Gelateria La Romana, Grom, and Edoardo.

1. Gelateria La Romana (Rome)
Of all the gelato shops I’ve visited, La Romana consistently delivered the creamiest, richest gelato I’ve ever laid my eyes on. The pistacchio was deliciously nutty, and helped balance the rich Crema dal 1947 (which was also magical). I highly recommend getting it on a cone, because they will fill the bottom of it with hot fudge (or white chocolate) if you’d like, at no additional cost! Also, if you’re feeling good, you can add freshly whipped cream on top of your gelato, also free of charge.

Plus, this is not a dinky touirst gelato shop. The interior is classy and well-lit, and at one end, you can look into the Laboratorio, where the gelato is being made. Yes, the line gets long right around 21:00, but it is definitely worth it.

This place gets my raving review! Five stars out of five, would recommend to every lactose-tolerant friend, etc.

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2. Grom (Perugia)
Technically, Grom is a chain. You can find it all over Italy (and apparently in NY). But similarly to La Romana, their gelato has been consistently on point - creamy and bursting with flavor. And, as I mentioned before, their new flavor of the month is Raspberry Cheesecake. How can I stay away?!

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3. Edoardo (Florence)
Organic gelato? Does that make it more expensive? Apparently not! Edoardo is just across from Il Duomo (tourist central), so I would have expected either lower quality or higher prices. But they have impressed me. Edoardo is where I first fell in love with crema gelato (courtesy of Anaí). Their gelato is light and fluffy, but still maintains the true flavor (like the apple gelato that Anaí ordered once had actual bits of apple in it).

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As you can see, I have been having the time of my life with this unofficial gelato tour, and I’m definitely going to miss all the gelato shops when I return to America (especially during O-Week in the Houston humidity…ugh). Guess I better make the most of my time here! :P

Pastrami Nosh and Sweet Potato Waffle Fries at Plan Check. A quality dinner.

Don’t get me wrong; I started taking advantage of happy hours long before I was 21, because who doesn’t love discounted appetizers?! But now that I am officially “of age”, it’s nice no longer having restrictions. As usual, I found myself mostly in the Montrose area with my friends. Shocking, I know. There is much exploring left to be done, but here are a few of my favorites so far!


1. West Alabama Ice House

Visited this gem for the first time just a few days ago with Michael. AND I LOVE IT ALREADY. Apparently, West Alabama Ice House has been around for decades. Between the corn hole and picnic tables, it certainly captures a certain amount of Texas charm. Added bonus: Tacos Tierra Caliente is parked right across the street. The barbacoa and pastor tacos were both solid, and the sauces they serve on the side have a wonderful kick to them. I highly recommend you order some tacos to go ($1.50 each), then come here to grab a beer and relax with friends. 

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Charming Back Patio, West Alabama Ice House

2. Hay Merchant

Just off of Montrose & Westheimer, Hay Merchant had been on my radar for quite some time, but is a 21+ establishment. I was drawn in by the promising happy & fatty hours ($3 beers from 3-6pm, $3 appetizers from 11pm-1am). Once I visited, I absolutely loved the casual “hipster sports bar” atmosphere and the massive tap selection. I am no beer connoisseur, but I’m pretty sure the Hay Merchant offers something for everyone.

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Cease & Desist Burger, Hay Merchant

3. The Flat

Best frozen mojitos in Houston (for several years in a row, apparently). I haven’t had frozen mojitos anywhere else, but the ones at The Flat are delicious. And only $4 before 9 PM! It’s probably a good thing I’m not spending the next few months in the Houston humidity, or I would probably frequent The Flat a little too often for this fantastic summer treat.

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Frozen Mojito & Complimentary Birthday Shot, The Flat

4. Bar Boheme

Okay, I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried their drinks yet. BUT THEIR FRIES. The perfect way to indulge with friends late at night. Bar Boheme offers a magical selection of appetizers, including the Vietnamese fries - a mountain of fries with sriracha, hoisin sauce, garlic and cilantro (see below). They also have Bangkok fries, which are similar but also have a curry sauce. We also tried their pita & hummus once - it is quite good, but cannot replace the fries by any means.

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Melissa & Vietnamese Fries, Bar Boheme

Double iced Americano with vanilla, hazelnut, and half&half.

Larissa’s drink of the month! Absolutely delicious. Not too sweet, so I can inhale a whole cup without getting sick of it. And I’m always a sucker for vanilla & hazelnut. Jotting it down here so I can ask them to recreate it in the future (since they often forget old drinks of the month).

24Diner: A Magical Land of Golden Chicken & Waffles

PREFACE: I am extremely picky about the greasy foods I eat. If it’s going to be greasy, it has to taste really, really good and preferably combine a variety of amazing flavors (in addition to fattiness). This is why I do not like Roscoe’s and often find myself disappointed by the chicken and waffles that many joints serve. BUT NOT HERE! It may have been because it was midnight and my friends and I were starving, but 24 Diner definitely gave me one of my best “chicken and waffle experiences” to date (yes, I call it an experience).

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During dinner earlier that day, a couple UT kids had mentioned this place to us and recommended their chicken and waffles. When midnight came around, our stomachs were grumbling and we set out to find this diner for a snack.

The parking lot is pretty small and diner is not huge either; we took the last open table when we came it. The interior is clean and surprisingly nice for a 24-hour diner. We ordered a strawberry shake and chicken and waffles to share. Service was a bit slow, but all was forgiven when our order arrived.

(Again, maybe it was the midnight madness taking over)

Our strawberry shake was amazing. Topped with fresh vanilla bean whipped cream, this is the perfect balance of sweet but not-too-sweet. We pretty much inhaled the whole thing. 

BUT THE CHICKEN AND WAFFLES. It is rare that both the chicken AND the waffle are so well-executed. The chicken was piping hot and fresh and the waffle was warm and fluffy (not soggy, thank goodness). They paired together wonderfully, especially with honey and hot sauce.

Ever since then, my friends and I compare all of our “chicken and waffle experiences” to this one (“Is it “24 Diner” good, or just normal good?”). Generally, the only one that compares is Waffle Bus in Houston, because their ancho chili honey adds a dimension to their sandwich (simple honey and hot sauce cannot compare).

For a typical greasy diner joint, this is amazing. Definitely would come back for another starving late-night run.

Edit: We returned nearly a year later for brunch. The chicken and waffles were just as good, so it wasn’t just because we had a bad case of the midnight munchies.