Candy: Divine Milk Chocolate with Spiced Cookies

We picked up two Divine Milk Chocolate with Spiced Cookies at the Austin Whole Food’s flagship. This is hands down one of the best off the shelf chocolate bars I’ve tried and it reminds me of autumn and the holidays. My thoughtful friend sent me a beautiful gift, B by the talented Sarah Kay (Sarah’s moving Ted Conference performance).

As Sarah writes in her poem B, “…keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boots nearby, because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix.”

The silky milk chocolate and bits of spiced cookie crumbs are a fantastic combination. I have made countless spiced molasses cookies and I wish this chocolate bar was not a limited edition. The spiced cookie crumbs are warming and makes one nibble a bit and have it with a soothing cup of tea. The tag line of the Divine bar is heavenly chocolate with a heart and it truly is.

Supermarkets: Whole Foods Flagship, Downtown, Austin

In 1980, John Mackey and his partners opened a store in Austin, Texas called Whole Foods. Today, it has 310 stores in North America and the UK. I have had the opportunity see John Mackey speak twice and each time he wore simple plaid shirts, jeans and would espouse the philosophy behind Whole Foods and its growth.

Whole Foods flagship store is located at the corner of Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard, is one of the largest, at 80,000 square feet. Built in 2005, the company’s headquarters moved into offices above the store. The flagship store is an amazing foodie Disneyland and very IKEA-like. The experience is a bit overwhelming, but the sheer variety, volume of people, food stations and choice was unbelievable and wonderful.

Whole Foods Market Culinary Center provides cooking classes and full-service catering and event planning.

The epicenter of all the Whole Food stores are fresh produce and organic or high quality products and in this right, the flagship is similar to every other Whole Foods stores. The main difference between the flagship versus other stores is the community spirit with proper dining areas and mini-restaurants combined with the magnitude of options.

Nuts, cereals, spices by the pound

Three varieties of Batter Blaster (I have only seen one), clarified butter (Ghee) and soy chocolate milk.

BBQ area for pulled pork, ribs, cornbread, mac and cheese sandwiches and dinner plates.

Variety of sausages and hot dogs

Loose leaf teas

Chocolate case and selection of truffles, bars and bark

Cakes, meringue, chocolate canache, cream puffs and other treats.

Donut case with some of the largest donuts we have ever seen.

Tiramisu, tres leches and a large variety of cupcakes.

ACE apple cider

Whole Food’s tres leches cake was soaked in condensed milk and we loved the meringue top.

Bowie Street BBQ at Whole Foods on Urbanspoon

Whole Foods Market on Urbanspoon

Island Creek Oyster Bar and Boston Brunchers, Kenmore, Boston

I recently commented on what brunch means to BakingMeHungry. “We love brunch because after sleeping in, brunch embodies Lazy Sunday. Who doesn’t love unlimited coffee, eggs and good conversation!” When Renee Hirschberg, founder of Boston Brunchers, tweeted and wrote on her blog Eat Live Blog, that I be joining the 1st Birthday Brunch for Boston Brunchers, I was thrilled.

This past Sunday morning, I ran into a former co-worker and I mentioned  where I was heading to for bunch.  He had only positive reviews on their own dinner experience and how nice the restaurant was. I walked past Hotel Commonwealth and entered Island Creek Oyster Bar.

I was the second to arrive after Richard of (The Passionate Foodie) and we instantaneously chatted about my newfound love of sparkling sake and his sake certification.

Immediately, I noticed the spacious room, lighting, oyster bar and overall design. While we were waiting, asked the friendly hostess how long ICOB has been in this location and she said its their one year birthday as well, opening in October 2010. The decor and serenity of the room, wood, oyster shells against the walls is very unique and cool. 

The oyster bar is very sleek and ice and oysters were well displayed. I would love to come back and try out the dinner menu or have a cocktail with friends and I mentioned this to the General Manager Tom on my way to the ladies room.

The service was warm and impeccable. Our servers and the kitchen was seamless and the staff executed really well for a group of 39 other brunch attendees and a full restaurant.

Since I had a coffee right before arriving to the brunch, I had a pot of green tea. The tea was soothing and was quickly refilled after I finished the first pot.

At my table was  Richard (The Passionate Foodie), Anthea (Night Kitchener), Marie (Cook With Abandon), Rachel of Boston.com and two other ticket winners who was in public relations and is a nanny by profession. We had an opportunity to chat about some favorite restaurants, food and food trends. On the other end of the table was  Sue (Public Radio Kitchen), Michelle (The Economical Eater), Robin (Doves & Figs) and although we were not able to chat, hopefully at the next event we will be able to connect.

Then two baskets of pastries came to are table filled with a blueberry muffin, doughnut muffin, cinnamon roll, croissant, raspberry crumb cake and scone. All the baked goods looked tempting, but our servers highly recommended the doughnut muffin and raspberry crumb cake.

Given how much I adore doughnuts and muffins, the hybrid combination of the was a fantasy fulfilled. The doughnut muffin was tender, lightly sweet and I craved the other half. I think will try to recreate this novel idea myself.

I also tried ICOB’s cinnamon roll, which had a hardened glaze over the lightly cinnamon flavored pastry. Although it was good, it was a bit too dry for my liking.

The cocktail I tried was a Red Beer (ICOB Pilsner topped with housemade sangrita). I liked the bite and bitterness of the  pilsner and it really reminded me of autumn. I have had beer and champagne before at Mistral and loved it, but I have not tried wine and beer together. The combination requires a sophisticated palate and a few of us who ordered it thought it was very tasty, but a bit too heavy to drink the whole beverage.

A lot of other folks at the table seemed really pleased with their Bloody Mary and McCarthy’s Crossing (pear brandy, spiced honey, rose vermouth, lemon and bubbles). Rachel of Boston.com ordered a second McCarthy’s Crossing, so her cocktail must have be quite enjoyable.

Our entire table ordered either the cinnamon french toast with caramelized bananas and toasted almonds or Ethel’s lobster roll on a rosemary roll with homemade kettle chips and cole slaw. The french toast serving was quite generous and Richard mentioned it was one of the top french toasts he has had and many brunchers didn’t finish their place.

I had Ethel’s lobster roll on a rosemary roll with homemade kettle chips and cole slaw. The lobster roll was stuffed with full lobster claws and meat and the hint of rosemary on the buttered roll really made the sandwich unique. I enjoyed the crunch of the kettle chips, which could have been a little tad bit saltier and the coleslaw was really creamy and refreshing. Going forward, any visitors I host in Boston will be directed to the ICOB lobster roll and restaurant for a thoughtful representation of New England seafood.

What I found quite humorous was the amount of strategy involved to elegantly consume the lobster roll. What was the best methodology? Amongst just grabbing the entire roll, Divide the lobster roll in half and carefully enjoy.

Thank you so much to Renee, all the attendees and the Birthday Brunch’s generous sponsors. I had a wonderful first Boston Brunchers first experience.

Whole Food’s swag bags

Goodie bag filled with coupons, samples and literature I need to go through.

I cannot wait to read the Foodies magazine, Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook and Salty Sweets.

America’s Test KitchenBarefoot WineBibaBiltmore Bar & GrillBoston BalletBoston Center for Adult EducationBoston Food FindsCow and CrumbCumberland FarmsDorado Tacos & CemitasDore CreperieDoves and Figs KitchenEversave BostonFoodies of New EnglandThe Four Seasons BostonHaircutteryHarvard Common PressiPartyKloutKO Catering & PiesLangham Hotel Boston,Phillips Candy HousePinkberryPretzel CrispsPopchipsStages of BeautyStonyfieldUSA Pears

Island Creek Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon