Around Town

Around Town: Ciffon Bakery

We stumbled across this cute little bakery in Bunkyo, Tokyo, and–after several days of dreaming about trying some of their baked goods–we decided to visit the friendly shop to try their Nama Cream Anpan.IMG_0036Apparently the shop’s primary specialty is Chiffon Cake, which I suppose most people would guess from the name of the bakery: Ciffon Plus. My coworkers and I, on the other hand, were much too focused on the enticing pictures posted on the windows to even look at the name of the shop when passing by. We just knew we had to try the Nama Cream Anpan!IMG_0037                                                      Our little treat came in a cute paper bag.IMG_0038
Pan” means bread, “An” means sweet red bean paste, and “Nama” means fresh.IMG_0039
Look how pretty the bread looks with the single little red bean on top!IMG_0040
Here’s a view of the inside. Check out the layers: fluffy, subtly sweet, golden bread, light, fresh whipped cream, and smooth, sweet red bean paste. The three layers together make up just the right combination of texture and flavor.IMG_0041
We certainly enjoyed our Nama Cream Anpan, and have already been back for more. Sometime I’d really like to give one of the Ciffon Plus chiffon cakes a try, though that would mean I’d have to choose between several kinds: Earl Grey Tea, Cocoa Marble, and Cranberry, to name a few! Perhaps for our next Wine and Cheese Party?

Have you tried any new bakeries or baked goods lately?
xxCaitlyn

Around Town

Around Town: Paul (a bakery)

IMG_1904Last weekend Chad and I stumbled across a bakery/cafe called Paul in Shinjuku, and from the amazing smell permeating the air alone, I knew I would have to visit soon. Fortunately, “soon” came this afternoon. We were trying to decide where to go for a walk, and I asked, “How about we walk to that bakery with that giant heart thing?”

IMG_1902IMG_1948These sandwiches looked just like the ones we had in France…

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IMG_1950The massive heart “thing” (a palmier) I had my eyes on last weekend can be seen above on the bottom shelf!  IMG_1951 IMG_1953Drooling yet?

IMG_1954IMG_1963I loved the look of this bakery, both outside and in. Gorgeous glass windows showcased bread and a few pastries to view from outside, and the glass cases inside tempted us with everything else. Additionally, the ceiling was made of really pretty wood, there were simple prints throughout the bakery, and very subtle splashes of soft color.

IMG_1956After arriving home for the day, I researched a little bit about Paul and found out that it is a chain that started in France. The corporate history is kind of neat, and there’s other information on the international site if you’re interested, too.IMG_1957Chad and I decided to split a raspberry frangipane tartlet, and it was quite lovely.

IMG_1958 IMG_1960 IMG_1961The balance of the almond crust with the creamy cheesecake-like filling and the juiciness of the raspberries made for a delightful afternoon dessert.  IMG_1964We decided to get the chocolate covered palmier to go for tea time later. Apparently, palmiers are made with puff pastry in a similar way to croissants, but without yeast. You know how much I love a good croissant, but I also really appreciate the light, flaky, crunchy texture of a good palmier. And now, rather than referring to them as heart-things, I will remember the actual pastry name!

Have you tried any new cafes lately?
xxCaitlyn

Around Town

Around Town: Holland Street Performers Series

Guest Author: Ariel Knapp

Hi everyone! It’s Ariel, Caitlyn’s sister-in-law. I’m super excited to start guest posting here on Little Snail! So let’s get started. Last Thursday my husband and I went to the Holland Street Performers Series.
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The buildings and trees that line the sidewalks make downtown Holland a really pretty place

During the summer months downtown Holland allows performers of all types to use the sidewalks of 8th Street as their stage and entertain the public. 8th Street is closed down for a couple of hours on Thursday evenings and people watch the performers and walk through the stores that line the street. Last Thursday was the 10th anniversary of the event and there were some promotions going on in conjunction with some of the businesses downtown.

unfortunately I did not get a party hat
unfortunately I did not get a party hat

One of the first performers we saw was my cousin Corey. He’s been doing caricatures for years and is a regular at the Holland Street Performers Series.

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Farther down the sidewalk we saw a young magician. He was pretty good at keeping up a running patter of talk while doing his tricks.

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There were a lot of musicians. They were all playing really well and it was fun listening to the different kinds of music on offer. We heard everything from folk music to Let it Go from the movie Frozen.

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We didn’t go into many of the shops since we were enjoying the performers but we couldn’t pass up Peach Wave frozen yogurt.

mmm I can't say to no to frozen yogurt!
mmm I can’t say to no to frozen yogurt!

The Kahlua flavor I got wasn’t as good as the cheesecake flavor my husband got but it was still delicious (especially with all the toppings I put on it!).

Another store we went into was The Peanut Store where there is definitely more than just peanuts on offer. There’s a large selection of candy that includes brands from Europe and Asia, handmade chocolates and old fashioned candy our parents and grandparents would be familiar with.

what you see when you walk in the front door of The Peanut Store
what you see when you walk in the front door of The Peanut Store
you can buy candy like jelly bellies by the pound and half pound
you can buy candy like jelly bellies by the pound and half pound
I'd definitely be a happy hippo if I ate too much of this candy :)
I’d definitely be a happy hippo if I ate too much of this candy 🙂

As we were getting ready to leave we saw this woman on stilts in a butterfly costume and a hot air balloon high above the festivities.

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We had a great time and I would like to go back later in the summer to see if there’s any new performers. If you’re in the Holland area on Thursday evenings looking for something to do I suggest checking out the Holland Street Performers Series.

Around Town · Food & Cooking · Seen/Heard/Tried · Summer Bucket List

Our Anniversary Weekend <3

Yesterday night marked the end of a relaxing, love-filled three and a half-day weekend spent celebrating our sixth anniversary. We had so much fun lounging, going for a 4-mile run to Grand Haven’s beautiful beach, enjoying our niece Lydia’s fifth birthday party, and even crossing some things off my summer bucket list!

On Friday, we started the weekend by driving to Battle Creek and going to Binder Park Zoo. It was a nice, sunny day, so the ride was really enjoyable.IMG_0781 IMG_0782I really appreciated how much space the animals had at Binder Park. For the most part, none of the exhibits really surprised me (perhaps because we saw a lot of the animals abroad, sometimes even in the wild), but I was still really impressed with the giraffes. I got to touch one for the first time, and it just blew my mind how big it was. I also really liked all of the peacocks roaming around (though I failed to get a pretty picture!).

IMG_0785This llama was actually kind of terrifying. You can’t see it in this picture, but it had really huge bottom teeth and could swing its head around at an alarming speed. I suppose I do that sometimes at the prospect of chocolate or good beer, but that’s beside the point.

IMG_0801Mugs at Dark Horse Brewing Company hanging from the ceiling

Speaking of good beer, the next place we headed was Dark Horse Brewing Company. We enjoyed a beer in the beer garden.

IMG_0802This table looked nice from a distance, but it was really awkward to sit in because the top came up above our chests. We felt like little kids trying to reach above for our beverage, and so we moved to another spot.

IMG_0804 IMG_0805 The next place we were headed was Arcadia Ales, but we ran into Sweetwater’s Donuts on the way and (obviously) had to stop.

IMG_0806So many choices! IMG_0807They have a coffee club with mugs!

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Chad helped me eat a New York cheese cake donut that tasted exactly how it looks: like SUGAR. (I’m not complaining…)

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Nom, nom, nom

Finally, we made it to Arcadia Ales, where Chad tried a reuben:

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I tried the Garden and Goat Quesadilla, which was fabulous. Pesto, tomato, red onion, spinach, mushroom, and goat cheese in a flour tortilla with a jalapeno salsa and sour cream on the side. *drools*

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The next morning, we went to Starbucks and finished off a Turtle donut (above) from Sweetwaters that was delightful. We read and talked in the sunshine before heading around town to do some shopping.

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Next up was lunch at a restaurant called Taste of India. We were a little worried at first because the diner was completely empty, but it was nearly 2:00 in the afternoon. We tried the buffet, and enjoyed the curry and other options. I had a yummy mango lassi, and particularly enjoyed the rice pudding offered.

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After lunch, we headed out to see Godzilla at a Cheap Flix theater. I was glad the film only cost $3 to see as I wasn’t too impressed, but I was still filled with a longing for Japan (minus the crazy creatures, obviously).

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Next up, we drove home, and biked around town (Chad ran) before getting some groceries for a picnic dinner.

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We chose proscuitto, fresh mozarella, tomatoes, a warm baguette and fabulous Santiago Olive Oil.

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We also prepared sliced pear, apple and plum.

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It started thunder storming outside, so we decided to have our picnic inside on our living room floor. I reminded me of when we first bought our house and sat on the floor in the dining room with champagne.

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Cheers! Happy Anniversary ❤

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The next morning we lounged around the house, enjoying coffee and nutella croissants (which you know I love!)

These are just a few of the fun things we did over the weekend. I was so happy to have days devoted exclusively to hanging out with my sweetheart, who I am grateful for every day. Looking forward to so many more years with him ahead.

xx

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Good news! My long-time friend and sister-in-law Ariel will be joining me on Little Snail with occasional blog posts! She’s always up to creative and clever things, so I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us 🙂

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Around Town · Bookspiration · Monday Matters · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Around Town/Bookspiration: My Fishy, Muddy Weekend

After a bit of a rough patch there, I decided I should read something uplifting and funny, so I chose to go with Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. It was funny in parts, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say uplifting. There were, however, quite a few parts in which I found myself nodding, saying to myself, “YES! EXACTLY!” For example, in the story “Loggerheads,” Sedaris describes a time in which he comes across a monkey in a national forest in Japan. I could relate to his feeling of being in awe of animals and nature, of that feeling like time stops in that rare, surprising moment. Sedaris writes, “…part of the thrill was being accepted, which is to say, not feared. It allowed you to think that you and this creature had a special relationship, a juvenile thought but one that brings with it a definite comfort” (59).

I also loved the story “Standing By,” not only because it described airplane travel in ways I could COMPLETELY relate to, but because it made me laugh out loud a lot. The last story that stood out to me was “Day In, Day Out.” In this story, Sedaris talks about his writing habits, and about rereading old journals. He writes:

“…that’s the terrible power of a diary: it not only calls forth the person you used to be, but rubs your nose in him, reminding you that not all change is evolutionary. More often than not, you didn’t learn from your mistakes. You didn’t get wiser, but simply older, growing from the twenty-five-year-old who got stoned and accidentally peed on his friend Katherine’s kitten to the thirty-five-year-old who got drunk and peed in the sandbox at his old elementary school. ‘The sandbox!’ my sister Amy said at the time. ‘Don’t you realize that children have to pee in there?'” (229).

Sometimes rereading old journals definitely makes you feel that way! Though I like to think I’ve been learning something along the way, journals do sometimes “rub your nose” in some of the less-than-good choices you made or in unfortunate situations you experienced.

In Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, Sedaris talks a lot about his time living in England, so I convinced Chad we should have Fish and Chips for dinner Friday at Fish X2 in Spring Lake.

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Fish X2 is a fish, seafood and chicken restaurant right off of the expressway from Grand Haven to Spring Lake. They have a special Hurricane Sauce, allow you to bring in your own fish to be cooked up in their kitchen, and have won an award for a salmon dish at the Salmon Festival.

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IMG_20140606_193315_415We chose to go with their Friday Catfish special, each getting a Mate’s Basket. The baskets come with fries or slaw, homemade sauce and a slice of lemon. You can also substitute sweet potato fries for an additional dollar.

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IMG_20140606_192750_854The inside of the restaurant is very open and clean, with no fishy smells at all (always a good sign!). Every time we’ve gone to Fish X2, the staff has always been very friendly and helpful, creating a very inviting atmosphere.   IMG_20140606_193013_314Fish X2 also has nice, cozy outdoor seating for the summer time. We decided to bring our meals to a nearby park/boat docking area, but it was nice to sit in the sunshine while we waited for our meals to be prepared.IMG_20140606_191303_093We waited about ten minutes for our Captain’s Baskets, but who minds that when you’re about to get a fresh-cooked meal? Once we had our to-go bag, we headed across the street to Mill Point Park and Boat LaunchIMG_20140606_193540_055There couldn’t be a nicer day for a picnic!

IMG_20140606_193600_414We dove into our meals. Sadly, Fish X2 was out of sweet potato fries (which happened the last time we were there in February, too!), so we both opted for their regular fries. Additionally, only one of our baskets came with sauce and a lemon slice! Fortunately, Fish X2’s normal fries are really yummy, and we were able to split the sauce and lemon out of one basket.IMG_20140606_193610_254The catfish was perfectly salty, while also light and fresh tasting. While it’s very easy to have greasy “fish and chips,” our meal at Fish X2 seemed to be a perfect balance of an airy batter, flaky, fresh fish, and not-too-crunchy, not-too-soft fries. Yum!

Separate from our book-inspired outing was an adventure I had the next day in Kalamazoo!mud run

Some of my fellow baristas and I decided to do the Kalamazoo Mud Run. It was definitely an interesting 5K, with lots of obstacles I never saw myself trying out (and with lots of unintentional mud-tasting!). I had a lot of fun with my Green Apron girls, evidence of which can be seen on Alex’s blog, here! While I was definitely more comfortable with the “fishy” part of my weekend, the “muddy” part was quite an experience, too!

What did you try this weekend?

xx

Around Town · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Around Town: Wild Blue Frozen Yogurt

Last week I was spoiled with frozen yogurt not once, but twice! After talking about going for “FroYo” with a few of my friends for months, we finally made it to Wild Blue Frozen Yogurt in Grand Haven, MI.

IMG_20140518_135304_706This was my first experience in years with frozen yogurt, and I was really excited to sample some of the fun flavors that ranged from cheesecake, to salted caramel, to standards like vanilla and chocolate. As my sister-in-law explained, once you’ve sampled a few, you’re free to mix any favors you like before adding additional toppings, and then you pay for your treat based on the total weight.

IMG_20140518_135313_595Above you can see Chad, my sister-in-law, and my brother in line paying for their delightful cups of frozen yogurt, as well as a view of the 70 plus toppings offered to add to your yogurt.

IMG_20140518_135324_727I chose the White Chocolate Macadamia-flavored frozen yogurt, and I topped it with raspberries, Ghirardelli chocolate pieces, cookie dough chunks, a cherry, and waffle cone pieces. A couple days later when I came back after hiking with my friend Alex, I tried the same flavor, but perfected my toppings, choosing Heath bar pieces, a light sprinkling of the Ghirardelli chocolate pieces, and a cherry. *sighs happily*

IMG_20140518_135342_785Chad’s cup and my cup on the scale being weighed.

IMG_20140518_135433_928So many pretty colors amongst our four cups!

IMG_20140518_135453_453I really enjoyed my experiences at Wild Blue last week. The location is easy to get to, the shop itself is very open, clean and friendly, and the atmosphere felt very relaxed. I’ve heard that other Frozen Yogurt places tend to have more flavor choices, but that they also tend to be much busier and less inviting. I felt like Wild Blue offered a perfect set of choices: I wasn’t overwhelmed, yet I still had lots of fun choosing different flavors and toppings!

What is your favorite Frozen Yogurt place? And what flavors do you like the most?

xx

Around Town · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Around Town: Hodgepodge Bakehouse

A couple weeks ago my mom and I decided to try a new-to-us bakery in Muskegon called Hodgepodge Bakehouse!

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When we first walked inside, we were greeted with a case of enticing baked goods.

IMG_20140429_124253_198It’s difficult to choose, believe me. My mom and I decided to go with Apple Fritters. Since each one was about the size of my face, I double-checked with my mom: “Do you want a whole one, or to split one?” She replied in a very matter-of-fact way that she wanted a whole one and I was like, “Yeah. Of course. Go big or go home. Totally makes sense.” On the inside I was like, “There’s no way I’m going to be able to finish this!”

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I soon found out that you can do anything you put your mind to, however. I got about halfway through the fritter and felt super full, but it was just. so. good. All will power was lost. As if the fritter itself wasn’t enough, having delicious Ferris coffee to pair it with did nothing for my lack of inhibition.

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Glazed on the outside with a fluffy, light inside, the apple fritters had a perfect balance of sweetness. The apple filling was spread throughout the filling like a delicate, almost creamy surprise, occasionally delighting you with a tiny apple wedge. In one word: fabulous.

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My mom and I enjoyed our Hodgepodge experience amidst fun signs like “Donut Worry, Be Happy” (which could be my motto), and “A good baker will rise to the occasion… It’s the yeast he can do.”

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Since going with my mom, I’ve already been back to Hodgepodge Bakehouse again with a friend (last time I indulged in a more reasonably sized donut with a cookie crumble topping). Hodgepodge Bakehouse also serves pizzas, soups, sandwiches and salads, all of which look really yummy from across the coffee and sweet-filled tray that tends to grace my table when I go. I’m so glad I got to try someplace new, and would recommend giving Hodgepodge Bakehouse a try if you’re in the area!

Around Town · Food & Cooking · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Vander Mill Ciders

Earlier this week we finally got out to Vander Mill Ciders in Spring Lake, MI for lunch. I had heard good things about Vander Mill Cider and their food from a coworker, so I was excited to give it a try.

IMG_0293The inside of Vander Mill is very spacious, with simple, natural decor.

IMG_0294I loved the pretty little table settings!

IMG_0296I decided to go with their Perpetual Blizzard IPA to drink, and I was not disappointed! As described on their menu, the IPA had a “hoppy, fresh orange aroma followed by clean malt and fruit flavors with a slightly peppery orange finish.” Can I please have 5 more? Just joking. Mostly.

IMG_0304To eat, we chose the Purple Pig pizza. At first we were leery of trying it because of the cabbage (which is funny considering all the wild pizza toppings we’ve tried in Japan!), but the friendly waitress convinced us to give the pizza a try and we were glad we did.

IMG_0308Mmm, roasted pork shoulder, a garlic Béchamel, fresh Winesap apple, local honey, sliced cabbage and mozzarella cheese!

IMG_0312Chad and I split the pizza, but we couldn’t even finish half of it because it was so filling! (We may or may not have finished it off for dinner, though 😉 )

IMG_0315We had a great first experience at Vander Mill Ciders, and would like to go back to try more of their ciders, as well as other items off of their very appealing menu! Have you tried any new restaurants lately?

Around Town · Tried

Detroit Beer Festival in Pictures

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Equipped with maps, sampling cups and tokens, there was no stopping us as we ventured through the Detroit Beer Festival. (Well, except when we’d definitely reached our limit. Then we stopped.)

20131030-211557.jpgWe had a lot of fun trying all of the different beers, and just being together. My favorite beer? A Kombucha Ginger beer from Unity Vibration in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Kombucha beer is not something I think I would ordinarily try, but 1) a beer festival is a place to expand your horizons, and 2) after several other samples I was feeling adventurous.

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Several samples and unintentionally stolen sandwiches later, we were still standing.

Our evening consisted of playing Cards Against Humanity, lots of laughter, and too much amazing food prepared by our friends (one of whom is the fellow pretending to be angry in the picture above). I’ve been told there will be a Winter Beer Festival in Grand Rapids, so I’m excited to potentially try more interesting flavors. I tend to be an IPA girl myself–what kind of beer do you like?