Eat here: Heart Bread Antique, Tokyo, Japan (bakery)

Heart Bread Antique
3-4-17 Ginza | OPTICA 1F, Chuo 104-0061, Tokyo
http://www.heart-bread.com/shop

I came across this place in Ginza after arriving at Cha Ginza, only to find out that their tea house actually opened an hour after their retail store. While I was wandering the streets killing time, I realised my stomach was audibly grumbling, and resolved to stop at the next cafe I found; a few meters later, I looked over my right shoulder to see a giant glass door with what looked to be giant donuts stuck to it..

I still can’t say with absolute certainty what exactly Heart Bread Antique are purveyors of. Absolutely mammoth wheels of pastry, approximately the size of a small tyre (or almost the height of an iPhone and with a circumference of a standard dinner plate) were lined up and collected at surprising rate by customers flying in and out the door.

A quick walk around uncovered a small rack of “minis” – curiosity got the better of me, so I grabbed one to fuel myself with until the tea house was ready for me…

… Wow. Basically, a croissanty, puff pastry donut, layer upon layer of crunchy golden goodness, with chocolate chips and walnuts tucked in there. I still don’t really know what it was, technically, but it was DELICIOUS!! And the crazy amount of people filing in and out of the little store purely to pick up the giant versions as they passed through the otherwise quiet street made it pretty clear this place was popular with the locals, too.

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If you’re in the neighbourhood, definitely worth a visit! And if anyone gets into one of those mega ones, tell me what it’s like!

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Shop & Eat at The Grove Farmers Market, LA (Bryan’s BBQ Pit, Bob’s Coffee Doughnuts & Short Cake)

The Grove Farmers Market
6333 W.3rd St.Los Angeles
http://www.farmersmarketla.com/

“When did you get back?”
“Ohh like 2 weeks ago now!”
“How was it?! Did you have a favourite place?”
“Nah, I loved everywhere. Except LA. What a hole!”

This was a conversation that went on in my office last week. Poor old Los Angeles. It gets SUCH a shit wrap from Aussies who visit! And I blame Hollywood – after spending 10 minutes on Hollywood Boulevard, I found myself asking my husband, “is that it?? Seriously?!” So very underwhelming… BUT there are some absolute gems hidden around the city if you’re willing to let go of the “Hollywood” fantasy and see something else! Greystone Mansion & Park was one of my favourite not-shit spots in the city, with Grand Central Market , the whole Venice Beach/Santa Monica area and The Grove’s Farmers Market coming right in behind it; these are the three places I’ve been recommending to people going to LA who are already wary of it’s disappointing and tacky reputation.

The Grove’s Farmers Market in LA was the nicest surprise possible for someone like me. After running the gauntlet of designer clad, miniature dog-clutching “ladies” and “gentlemen” rolling up in their fancy cars, throwing their keys to/at the valet, I felt like I was walking through the world’s biggest cliché! Not at ALL my scene! We pushed on through the crowd though, determined to see this Grove we’d heard about with it’s pretty Christmas decorations and nice shops (which people neglected to mention we wouldn’t be able to afford to actually shop in, for the most part).

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Yes, it was mental. Yes, there were kids running around all over the place. And ladies swinging oversized handbags around, paying no attention to anyone passing them. And tourists stopping to take a photo beside every Christmas tree (and there are a real lot of trees there). And incessant Christmas carols. You don’t want to spend too long at the Grove at Christmas, but you definitely do want to experience it. After all, what’s Christmas without sparkling lights and complete mayhem?! After 15 minutes of that, we were ready to give up and call it a night, when I saw the sign for the Farmers Market. I was out of the twilight zone and back in my world, even though it was on the other side of the world…

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The Farmers Market is part fresh produce, part eateries, part tourist shopping. It reminded me a lot of the Queen Vic Market in Melbourne, but on a smaller (and much more American) scale. The beauty of this place is that, unlike other farmers markets, it’s open daily, not just on set dates! Foodies rejoice! The touristy souvenir stalls were a bit tacky for me, but the produce looked quality, and the little food stalls were fantastic, heaps of variety, and all busy. We visited of an evening, and also during the day, and the crowd didn’t seem to have been any lighter at either time, which I guess speaks to the quality of the market. It’s absolutely a must-visit in LA if you want a proper food experience without the “fanciness” factor and price tag (and especially if you need to escape the Hollywood hip crowds). As for places to eat, I’ll recommend the following…

Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts
http://www.bobscoffeeanddoughnuts.com/

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/436/65412241/files/2014/12/img_4767.jpgFirst up, check out the variety – cake, raised, original, glazed, decorated, they have it ALL! And while I can’t speak for the coffee, but the doughnut I had here was amazing – I got a buttermilk glazed and it was light, fluffy, sugary perfection. Absolute must.

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Short Cake
http://www.shortcakela.com/

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/436/65412241/files/2014/12/img_4768.jpgVegan? All good. Caeliac? No worries. Not only does Short Cake cater for the regular sugar lovers, the dietarily challenged can indulge here, too! I’d heard amazing things about their date and sesame seed scones, so I had one of them with a cup of tea – fantastic, particularly as a winter warm up! Would have loved to have had more stomach space to try some of those cookies – the coconut avocado one really had me intrigued! Anyone else tried them?!

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Bryan’s Pit Barbecue
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bryans-Pit-Bbq/356609594406484

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/436/65412241/files/2014/12/img_4769.jpgThis isn’t fancy food. It’s not typical hipster LA. There’s no gluten free/refined sugar free/lactose free/super food charged/vegan option. It’s meat and carbs and grease and deliciousness. Pulled pork sandwich. Mac & cheese. Big serving for a decent price. That’s what happiness looks like my friends.
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Shop: Brooklyn Flea + Eat: Smorgasburg (Ramen Burger, Mighty Quinn’s BBQ & Dough), New York, USA

So, while we’re visiting New York, we have to actually get out of Manhattan to do two of my favourite things – market trawling and eating! And believe me when I tell you there is absolutely no better place to do both of these things than at Smorgasburg + Brooklyn Flea Market!

 

Brooklyn Indoor Winter Flea Market + Smorgasburg
1000 Dean St (between Classon & Franklin), Brooklyn
http://brooklynflea.com/
http://www.smorgasburg.com/

Ok, so let’s go with the shopping component first – the flea market part. You can read more on the website above, but basically what they’re all about:

Founded in April 2008, Brooklyn Flea has grown into one of New York City’s top attractions, operating flea markets every weekend of the year that feature hundreds of top vendors of furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques, as well as a tightly curated selection of jewelry, art, and crafts by local artisans and designers, plus delicious fresh food.

If that doesn’t get you excited to visit, then we’re just not on the same page! Basically, it’s a giant market with both shopping and eating to be done, which is the best of all worlds in my books. In the warmer months, the market is held outdoors, but we visited in the depths of winter which meant that instead of calling it off, they thankfully just move indoors until the snow lets up! As you can see below, it’s in a gorgeously big warehouse-style space, with both antiques/vintage and new handcrafted wares. It’s pure heaven for someone like me, with fantastic bargains to be found if you’re happy to meander around the place for a while and dig around. And don’t think the winter cold stop the crowds migrating across the river for this; by 11:30am, the place was packed, so get in early!

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After a bit of shopping, we were getting hungry, and made our way to the other part of the party; Smorgasburg. Think indoor food hall with a few different stalls to choose from, obligatory long lines of hipsters clambering for delicious food (and yes, we shamelessly joined in!). And you know what? Totally justified – the food here is great, the atmosphere is fantastic, it’s seriously just so much fun! As for what we ate, it was hard to narrow it down, but we went with….

 

The Original Ramen Burger
http://ramenburger.com/

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I don’t care what anyone says – believe the hype. This was amazing. Golden fried noodle buns, juicy beef patty, just enough spring onion and sauce to give it a little kick, it was everything that was promised and more. I want another.

 

Mighty Quinn’s BBQ
http://www.mightyquinnsbbq.com/

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This is serious BBQ. Holy wow. They take good quality meat and treat it simply and respectfully, bringing together traditions and methods from Texas and the Carolinas to create some absolutely mind blowingly good product by barbecuing it the old school way – low and slow. We ordered a serve of brisket (above, centre), burnt ends (top left) and pulled pork (top right). The pork just fell apart as we ate it, and the brisket – I mean, you can see the perfectly rendered fat in that picture, it literally melted in your mouth! And those burnt ends were something else… Oh my GOD I would eat tray after tray of those and never get sick of them!!

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Dough
http://www.doughbrooklyn.com/

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Naturally, you gotta finish on dessert. And everyone raves about Dough. There were SO many incredible looking donuts to choose from but it was the dulce de leche covered in toasted almonds that caught my eye. The dough was somehow both dense AND light at the same time, the glaze was delicious, and plenty of toasted almonds – a truly perfect donut specimen in every way. One of my biggest regrets in New York was not going back for a second one.

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Eat here: Do-Rite Donuts, Chicago, USA

Do-Rite
50 W Randolph St, Chicago

Wow this was a magical one.. We arrived into Chicago last night and decided that the best way to start today would be with a donut. It’s Christmas Eve, after all!

We tried the traditional buttermilk glaze, a yeast-free, cake-like donut, smothered in seriously sugary sweet glaze; it was DELICIOUS! I was eyeing off the bacon maple too, but there’s no way I could stomach that much sugar! Oh well, still here for another few days 😉 if you’re in the area, get on it!!

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Eat here: All Day Donuts, Melbourne

All Day Donuts, Brunswick, Melbourne
http://instagram.com/alldaydonuts

I’m a HUGE fan of the work of Raph Rashid, the genius behind such favourites of mine as Beatbox Kitchens and the Taco Truck. Naturally when I heard he was turning his brilliance towards donuts as his next venture, I was ridiculously excited. I love carbs, I love sugar, it’s a party.

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A nondescript little brick front marked with a printed sign with directions for Beatbox and Taco Truck deliveries indicated we were in the right place. It was set up like a small, unadorned school cafeteria, with your 6 options presented upon entry.

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It was tough, but we narrowed it down to the original, the raspberry glaze and the strawberry cheesecake.

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The donut itself was delicious – it was light and fluffy, not too thick, cakey or doughy. Also, didn’t taste like a deep fryer, as some donuts often do. And they were FRESH. Like, still a little warm. Apparently, the average kitchen to mouth time is around 30 minutes – I believe that. So dough, massive tick.

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The original glaze was really nice, but I loved the raspberry glaze! And the milk berry rubble was UNREAL! It was like little chunks of love perched up on the donut – a really superb donut that I look forward to eating again, and husband agreed!

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Lastly was the strawberry cheesecake donut, which was purely for my benefit (husband doesn’t do cheesecake, fool). It. Was. AMAZING! Same gorgeous, light dough filled with a ton of soft gooey cheesecake business. It was silky smooth, very flavourful without being overpowering, and crazy delicious. Want another one. Now.

They weren’t particularly cheap ($13.00 for the lot), but I’m a believer of paying decent money for a decent product. I was more than happy to part with $13.00 for these, because I honestly thought they were that good. Believe the hype, go and grab some.

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