WLW: Salty Donut making me not salty about Florida

Donuts. I’ll say it: they are not dessert. They are breakfast. (albeit a socially acceptable way to eat cake for breakfast)


But what happens when donuts are no longer coffee-dunkable? Have they then progressed past the bfast menu realm? When they come in fancy flavors and are dressed to the nines, they do rise above their historically coffee-dunked ancestors? Like, I don’t really ever dunk anything, but seriously thanksbutnothanks I’m not going to risk an entire strawberry or chunks of candied bacon falling into my coffee. (can you imagine the dregs at the bottom of that cup??? barf.) I might even need a fork and knife instead – not even thinking twice about summoning my inner George-Costanza-with-a-Snickers-bar.

unnamed-1And so, artisanal donuts have got me thinking outside the pastry box, and one shop in particular has done the unimaginable and got me thinking outside the sweaty Florida Disney/oranges/hurricanes box. The Salty Donut: this week’s Wish List travelfortreats destination. You heard me. I’m going to Florida to eat donuts.


Located in Miami, The Salty Donut is a small-batch establishment making EVERYTHING in house, and trying their damnedest to change the donut/coffee landscape of South Florida. They’re basically like, “Everyone, get with the times. Eat this.” And I’m like, “Don’t mind if I do! And thanks for not just being another souvenir shop with shelf-aged “Key lime” pies!”


I’m talking lemon meringue fritters. Guava and cheese stuffed brioche. Fresh strawberries and cream, passion fruit and coconut, baked sweet potato, and the universally loved white chocolate tres leches.


Should you still feel the monstrous need to dunk (please just sip alongside), they also offer a fancy coffee program to complement these beauties. Think cold brew Palmers and Cinnamon Toast Crunch lattes. Mmmmmmmm……… Beats yard long boozy slushies from Fort LaudyDaudy any day, and since you’re in Florida you’re probs on vacation, making boxful of fried pastries a 100% acceptable way to start the day.

*pics by @allisonkimchi, @chewyorkcity, @jenntronic, @onehungryygirl, @foodieattraction and someday by me

Escape to Bia: part 1*


Ever wonder what a fairy queen eats and drinks (aside from berries and fiddlehead ferns and dewdrops, of course)? Well wonder no more, because I’m about to reveal the secrets of the fairy kingdom…..and who would’ve guessed they’d have an outpost in LA’s Koreatown? Welcome to Bia.

(Side note: ever wonder what fairy monsters drink? THIS. #nothankyouverymuch)

Bia’s menu centers around two main ingredients: rose and lavender. Makes sense considering the cafe’s founder used to be a florist. Wanting to avoid synthetically sweet syrups, she makes her floral syrups in-house letting each jar infuse for two to three days. The limited quantities of syrup are then used in a limited number of creations; most triumphantly, lattes and cakes. (she also makes a vanilla syrup, and also makes italian sodas, muffins, meringues, croissants and scones, but we’re not here for that)

Easily blending in at the fairy cafe, due to my extremely large fairy tramp stamp, I was able to see magic in action. And by that I mean the jars of flower syrup are on display at the front counter:


Listen, this is not like wandering into a Bath and Body Works and posting up for a soapy snack at the display table. This is more like roaming through a magical blooming forest only to be invited into a hollowed tree stump for a whimsical afternoon feast.

The carefully sought out coffee perfectly balances with the floral scents. The shop’s founder is the only one currently concocting the drinks, and you can tell she takes pride in the exacting details. The rose latte is topped with a fresh rose petal and ground rose powder. (the lavender latte is topped with a fresh lavender sprig and açaí powder) Like, this mug smells so good I want to just hang it from my rearview mirror.


And now the cake. It is truly a special experience for all the senses. It’s beautiful, it’s delicious, and it smells SO GOOD that it’s basically singing to you. The double layered infused chiffon cake is doused with thick cream and again dusted with dried and fresh petals. (it can be ordered for dine-in only, though they will give you a box to go if you don’t finish. #qualitycontrol)

At first glance, you might think you’ve accidentally signed up for a Strawberry Shortcake pinky sweet extravaganza, but one bite and you’ll remember that no, no, you’re still dining on fairy food. How can something be sweet and floral without being too sweet and too floral? Tis the magic of the fairy kitchen.


*part 2 re: everything lavender, will publish at some indeterminate future date

Ipsento: when you just need a lil something with your coffee


Ipsento’s focus is coffee. Let’s get that straight. But, of course, I came for the donuts (as well as the namesake spicy honey Ipsento latte, aaaand also a rose cardamom latte……)

The donut program has been recently relaunched after months of perfecting, well, everything, with an exacting focus on quality and consistency. The donuts are made daily until about 2pm and use in-house milled kamut and sweet potato as the donut batter. They are then fried in organic coconut oil before whatever rotating glaze and garnishes are added.


Bottom line: they’re delicious and since they’re made with these unique ingredients you can eat several (SO MANY) without having to then slug home to wallow in your overserved donut disgustingness. Why else can you eat so many?? Um, because they’re about the size of a half dollar.



I seriously had to fight my inner 6yr old to not take the box home and have a Cabbage Patch tea party. I mean, come on:


Today’s flavors included: cinnamon sugar, Ipsento (honey, espresso, coconut with a hint of cayenne), chocolate ganache with sprinkles, and chocolate ganache with pistachios.

Also, they serve booze. Also, they are next to the 606.


Ipsento Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

tiramisu for me and for you


I love it when I discover a house specialty. Although the majority of their pastries are delivered from Pekara, the unassuming Caffe Paradiso in lovely Urbana, IL makes their tiramisu fresh in-house daily.

Why is this so great? #1: it means that they’ve perfected their recipe. #2: it’s a one-off coffee shop creating its own random around-the-world menu (you’ll find macarons, danishes and bingsoo here too – how eclectic!), not an Italian restaurant that thinks tiramisu is a mandatory dessert option and therefore must be on the menu even if all the Nonnas are collectively rolling over in their graves – for shame! #3: it means that it isn’t sitting around getting stale and soppy and tasting like a cooler case.

In fact, some times it’s so fresh that it hasn’t even made it out and into the cooler case yet! So if you see an empty case and are about to leave muttering, “thanks for nothing, Paradiso,” do yourself a favor and ask if they have any in back. Because chances are they probably do.

The portions are HUGE. Each individual ingredient layer can be seen and tasted: from the generous dusting of cocoa powder on top, to the Intelligentsia espresso not overly-soaked lady fingers. It is on the dryer side – a rare occurrence in a world that sometimes mistakes tiramisu as some kind of Italian boozy pudding cousin – so it pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee.

Caffe Paradiso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

as if wine country weren’t dreamy enough…


Sadly, I do not have 1000000 more photos for this post, so you will have to use your imagination. Imagine an enchanting room surrounded by sunny cases and sugary racks of pies, cakes, tarts, cookies, muffins, ice cream, brownies, cupcakes, brownie cupcakes, donut muffins…. Lemon, apple, plum, chocolate, passion fruit, raspberry, caramel, cinnamon…. Imagine that everything, EVERYTHING, looks and smells so so good that it is IMPOSSIBLE to choose just one thing. Just imagine…..mmmmmm……

You guys – you can bring this exercise in imagination to life, because this place really exists and you can order as many treats as you damn well want. I know this, because I have been there and done that. The Downtown Bakery and Creamery is the stuff of dreams. If ever you are in Napa/Sonoma, do yourself a favor (don’t disappoint me) and hop over to Healdsburg to be transported to bakery heaven.

I carried their business card around in my wallet for years so I could have their address ready for anyone who even off-handedly mentioned that they might be thinking about maybe perhaps going to wine country (I eventually gave the card to a friend headed to Sonoma when I couldn’t find a pen/had too much Sonoma “research wine” to realize that I could have texted the info…shame). I’m not even going to suggest the “best” things to get there, because it is all the best. THE BEST. Get it all.

I will, however, make the following (non-desserty) suggestions re: wine country:

  1. Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves – drink wine in a cave! pair little snackies wth your tasting!
  2. Dry Creek General Store – down the hill from Bella – the perfect place to fuel up for a long day of not using the spittoon.
  3. Scopa – make a reservation, and make sure someone orders the Nonna’s chicken – even if you’re thinking, “oh, I can make this at home,” just do it. you won’t be disappointed.

Sunday Sundae!


Sunday Sundae brought to you by Chicago ice cream institution: Margie’s Candies! Don’t be fooled by the name and think you can only get candy here. You can also get ice cream, and when you do, it comes in a giant clamshell bowl!!

Sundae choice: the Terrapin. Two scoops of ice cream (coffee and New York cherry chosen), covered with butterscotch sauce, whipped cream and nuts, then topped with a cherry and a housemade turtle, and served with your own gravy boat of hot fudge. (bananas added for extra nutritional value)


Some things to know about Margie’s:

  1. It was originally called the Security Sweet Shop when it opened in 1921, but after the original owner handed the business down to his son, he renamed it “Margie’s” for his high school sweetheart.
  2. Prepare for there to be a line. And prepare for the wait to be worth it. (if you get too antsy, go to the Green Eye for a beer or Arturo’s for some queso fundido)
  3. Margie’s really blew up after the Beatles stopped by in 1965 and ordered a bunch of Atomic sundaes with a bunch of girls. Also, if you want to get extra Chicago, Al Capone had his treats here too.
  4. Margie’s is all for smart kids: you get a free cone if you get an ‘A’ on your report card, and if you can pull yourself together and turn that ‘C’ into an ‘A,’ you’ll get a free banana split!
  5. While their displays may look a bit dated, their chocolates are fresh and handmade. Get the Terrapin sundae (above) to sample a free turtle with your sundae. See? You can have your ice cream/candy and eat it too!


Margie's Candies Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday Sundae!

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Post Los Angeles Cake Club meeting, post BBQ brisket, I made my way to Milk just to see how far my billowy shirt could be stretched. Billowy shirt = the mark of a true professional.

The “Everyday Sundae” with coffee toffee (made with Heath bar chunks!) and banana dulce de leche (made with real banana chunks!) ice creams, legit hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry on top. When delivered to my table, it came with two spoons. Ha. Who do they think they’re dealing with here?

Sidenotes: #1: $5 will get you a MASSIVE two scoop cone – like an entire pint of ice cream balanced atop a cone. #2: the later it gets on Sunday, the longer the line. I watched the line grow from about 8 people at 7:30pm to, no joke, 45 people at 9pm. Whoa. Get here early, or bring a sweater while you wait in the freezing 65 degree temps.

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tastebud time travel

It is the worst when a favorite item gets permanently eighty-sixed from the menu (RIP ginger cookie from Brite Spot and coconut cake from Coral Tree Cafe… I’ll never forget you!). What a treat (pun intended) when a bakery brings back a lost classic. Bless you Valerie Confections, the historical society of desserts owes you one!

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Valerie serves the long gone, but luckily not forgotten, Coffee Crunch Cake from Blum’s – a Cali department store that went out of business in the ’70s. You can special order a whole cake from them, or take yourself down to Grand Central Market for a single slice. This joy of joys is a lemon-vanilla sponge cake with coffee whipped cream layers encrusted in honeycomb candy (or sponge toffee, as some call it). Somehow the light lemon and coffee flavors both keep to themselves while also becoming besties. And how the honeycomb stays crunchy even in the interior layers is a dessert miracle. #blessed

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But Valerie didn’t stop there. Besides their signature rose petal petit four (vanilla bean cake with rose petal passion fruit ganache covered in white chocolate with a candied rose petal on top – precious!) and a billion other things, you can order and pay your respects to these other desserts of Los Angeles yesteryear:

*The Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake (only otherwise found at The Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida – I’ve had it – it’s pretty great!)
*Chasen’s Banana Shortcake (def not available at Bristol Farms)
*Bullock’s Wilshire Tea Room Coconut Cream Pie (def not available at whatever law school is there now)

Probably someone should order all these cakes and have an old-timey party. Thanks for the invite – I’ve already RSVP-ed “yes.”

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(Continuing with my self-guided 10 min historical tour of one block, I also stopped at the Bradbury Building. You might recall this building from “Blade Runner” or “The Artist,” I recall it from being stuck in traffic on Broadway. Just park and go in.)

Valerie Confections Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

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Just a quick note to wish you all a Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!! This crispy-edged, gooey-centered delight brought to you by Coffee Commissary, where they use both milk chocolate and semisweet chocolate in their cookies, and teach you Hollywood history in their bathroom:

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PS: sorry I missed National Apple Pie day earlier this week, but what do you think I do? Sit around eating dessert all day??! (side note: I made my family call me “Apple Pie” for about a year when I was 3 and wouldn’t respond to anything else.)

Portland (visitor) prep

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My friend who lives in Portland is visiting tomorrow, so I thought: “Why not get in the Portland mood with dinner at Salt & Straw?” The fact that it’s also raining tonight makes it extra Portlandy, plus rain scares away the Cali crowd which is better for me/them as I was dining post-yoga.

Um, Salt & Straw doles out the biggest sample tastes of any ice cream place I’ve ever been. Like a sample so big I felt like a plumpy eating it in one bite. And also I had four samples.

I finally decided on a “split single scoop,” (because let’s be reasonable) of Stumptown Coffee & Compartes Love Nuts paired with Freckled Woodblock Chocolate. Sweet, crunchy, slightly salty, dinner replacement. And not to worry that the coffee flavor will keep me awake – the scooper said it makes him feel like going to sleep. Hmm? Maybe because it’s so dreamy.

Let me also take a minute to talk about Compartes – this chocolate place is melting its way into treats across Los Angeles. Not only in Salt & Straw ice cream, but also into my donut from Cofax the other day! Truly, the bag that this donut was given to me in smelled like a cocoa sachet:

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