Friday, June 15, 2012

Travels of Cupcakes, Coffee, and Books

I am absolutely convinced that excellent coffee, mouthwatering ice cream or gelatto, moist and flavorful cupcakes, and stimulating literary collections are the work of truly passionate people.

My trip from St. Louis took me through several states.  I did not stop for coffee in Illinois but did in Indianapolis, Indiana and it was a wonderful little non-profit that my GPS/places app directed me find. It was worth the exit off I-70.

I did not have excellent coffee again until NYC and we were somewhere in Soho.  It was an iced coffee that tickled my taste buds then.

NYC has great coffee on almost every corner in every borough, which made me wonder why anyone would settle for that burnt stuff peddled by Starbucks.  Anyway, I found what became my little haven, a spot called Caffe' Bene on Times Square.  This was a great hide-out for breakfast (wonderful waffles) and for the caramel hazelnut latte.

I really wanted to coffee drink my way through Manhattan and love that my husband tried to find the Dominican coffee in Washington Heights.  We went one street too far and ended up in Jewish neighborhood - no coffee but great challah bread at the bakery just off the corner.

Washington DC is equally as pleasurable as a coffee hub and place for passionate, creative, innovative, and brave independent store owners.

The hotel has Coffee Bean & Tea - very good and I was surprised to see this California staple here.  If this place ends up being a chain...Starbucks definitely has some competition!

My morning respite was the hotel coffee shop, however, being the coffee queen that I am, I had to have a real good cup.

We ventured to Capitol Hill and I had the best cup of Guatemalan coffee ever, it was so good that I have to go back and buy some beans to bring home.  My mouth was doing a happy dance.

My love affair with coffee has been satisfied these past few days.

Now, on to my books.

Hue-Man was my mecca in Harlem!  I felt so empowered to be surrounded by this staple of black books.  The kids and I sat and skimmed through multiple volumes while enjoying a Caribbean made fruit smoothie. I definitely loaded up my luggage with some great volumes.

We popped into Fairy Godmother book and toystore in Capitol Hill.  The girls were in their little slice of literary heaven in this rowhouse store just around the corner from Pennsylvania avenue and in the "neighborhood" part of DC.  It would be a spot for us to hang out if we lived here because Le Quotien was two doors down (excellent Blondie on fresh baked toasted bread) and a great coffee shop (that I can't think of the name!) was next door.

DC has been an interesting book venture.  I finally ventured into Krammerbooks - famous in DuPont Circle.  It has a cafe' that was really crowded.  I liked the stacks and stacks and the international flavor.

Down the street is home, that is a Sunday stop for us, but not something I wanted to do in DC!  I did pop in for an inexpensive Italian soda while I looked out at the fountain on the Circle.

Finally found Second Story books.  Quaint on P Street, a bit away from the commercial and near the residential side of the circle.  Talk about used and rare books in a crowded little space.  I didn't find the jazz books I was hunting for (Father's Day is Sunday, after all),but they did have a great representative of books across genres.  I found my next black female literature volume!

One of the things I do when I travel is check out the local neighborhoods, off the beaten path, and out of the tourist areas.  I also do not do chains and try my hardest to eat local foods.  It is my little bit of economic recovery!  I also meet great people and have wonderful delights, a lot of the store owners are very friendly to visitors and appreciate the business, they know they are competing against the Starbuck's and Barnes & Nobles of the world.

Next trip? Montgomery and Chicago.

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