Hello Kitty and Friends at Universal Studios Florida!

 

Right at heart of Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida is a very special place. Here one can shop for super cute Sanrio exclusive merchandise and then after shopping eat the tastiest and cutest Hello Kitty treats ever.  It is a truly a dream come true. Where is this place? It is none other than the Hello Kitty Shop Featuring Hello Kitty and Friends at Universal Orlando Resort!
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This Hello Kitty and friends dream shop is  located along Hollywood Boulevard in the theme park. It is the first ever appearance of Hello Kitty at a theme park in North America!
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There are four specially themed areas in the shop. In the “Hello Kitty and Friends Town” area one can find a lot of cute specialty merchandise including stationery, accessories and collectibles featuring Hello Kitty and friends; Chococat, My Melody, Badtz Maru, Pompompurin and Keroppi! The “Hello Kitty Lounge” section is where one can buy home goods and apparel for those comfy days at home. Meanwhile at the “Hello Kitty at the Movies” area is where movie lovers can find cute collectibles featuring Hello Kitty and her friends reimagined with classic Universal movies. Last but not least is the favorite section of this Hello Kitty Foodie and it is none other than the “Hello Kitty Sweet Yummy Shop” section at the store. Here Hello Kitty Foodies get to enjoy kawaii goodies such as Hello Kitty dreamiscle cakes, Chococat smores, Keroppi candy apples!
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Aside from shopping and eating, one can even say hello to our forever BFF Hello Kitty herself. Hello Kitty has been known to make regular appearances, greet fans and take photos at the shop.
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Shop Hello Kitty, Eat Hello Kitty and Dream Hello Kitty! Hello Kitty Shop Featuring Hello Kitty and Friends at Universal Orlando Resort is a place of true happiness.
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Hello America Eats Tavern by JoseAndres!

When one is near the nation’s capital, how appropriate it is to eat a restaurant that embodies the love of America and the diversity of American eats. On recent business trip to McLean, Virginia, I found myself doing just that via dining at America Eats Tavern.

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American Eats Tavern is the concept of internationally renowned chef Jose Andres along with his partner Rob Wilder. Located at the Ritz Carlton at Tyson’s Corner in McClean, Virginia, this restaurant opened in May 2014. It came about due to, Jose Andres love of American cuisine and him wanting to tell the story of America through foods and favorite dishes made from the best products and ingredients from the USA.

Indeed American Eats Tavern love of America is evident right from the start of any diner who comes here. The logo of the restaurant itself is very patriotic in that it looks like a flag.  Walking in, one can see a  flag pattern on parts of the ceiling and right above an open kitchen is a banner with “We the People of the United States…” from the preamble of the United States Constitution.

The menu is filled with dishes with a new take on American cuisine such is their new England Baked Scallops. The New England baked scallops are on top of garlic-chive cream, lemon garlic cups and topped with anise bread crumbs.

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The Eisenhower Stew was my personal choice on dining here. It has beef short rib, charred baby carrot, pearl onions and cherry tomato.

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The plating on their dishes was exquisite and the taste equaled that. The beef was perfectly cooked and was so tender. I practically did not even have to slice the beef because it was so soft, that it just naturally sliced itself with a tender swish of a fork. The brown sauce underneath was deliciously savory and the root vegetables were crispy and delightful.

To compliment all of their entrees is soft buttermilk biscuits with apple butter.

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Last but definitely not least is America Eats Tavern’s desserts.  Delectable sweet delights fill their dessert menu. Jose Andres’ sweet treats are made out of combination of ingredients that add a twist to some of the country’s traditional desserts. I chose to get their donut bread pudding that came with their homemade coffee ice cream, caramel sauce and a donut chip. The word delectable comes close to not even giving this dessert justice. The creamy flan on underneath along with the smooth caramel sauce simply melts in the mouth. The donut bread pudding itself is so soft and delightful.

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Some of the most historic dishes known in America are given a new look via America Eats Tavern. Jose Andres pays a wonderful tribute to American cuisine here using the best ingredients from right heart of the U.S. Via America Eats Tavern, Jose Andres is making U.S. culinary history come alive. We the People of the United States eat and feel history here at America Eats Tavern.

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Jose AndrAmerica Eats Tavern.

 

 

 

Hello Blue Star Donuts!

Donuts for grown ups. One will never quite look at donuts the same way after trying out Blue Star Donuts.

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Originating in Portland, Oregon, these gourmet brioche donuts have come to Los Angeles via a new shop in Venice on Abbot Kinney. The dough of the donuts is made fresh daily in a 18 hour labor of love. Ingredients include Shepherds grain bread flour, cage free eggs, hormone free milk, European style butter, rice oil and a special add on that will bring a little bit of an adult flair! What exactly is that that little something something added into their donuts that makes it more adult like? Think bourbon, hard cider, mimosas, olive oil, rosemary….ingredients not typical found in your normal donut. Yes,  gourmet. Yes, different. That is Blue Star Donuts.

I recently had the pleasure of trying out a variety of various of these delicious different donut and I can definitely say they are some thing else.

The first Blue Star Donut I got to try was the Passion Fruit Cocoa Nibs.  At first bite, I could taste instant fruitiness. The passion fruit is very pungent in this donut.

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Next up on the tasting menu was the Blueberry Bourbon Basil. This flavor is one of Blue Star’s most popular flavors. I attributed most of the blueberry taste to the bourbon basil glaze on top.

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The third donut I tried was the Pineapple Pistachio Pina Colada. It is an exclusive flavor to the LA location and a must try! This donut was on top of my favorites of all the Blue Star Donuts I tried. I loved everything from the fresh pineapple to the thick coconut cream to the Caribbean rum and the touch of California pistachios. It made feel like I was in a tropical paradise somewhere enjoying a pina colada on the beach.

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The Mexican Hot Chocolate was my next treat. This is for chocolate lovers. It is very rich in chocolate taste. It has a dark chocolate flavor that would go well with a cup of the Stumptown Coffee that they offer.

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The Marrionberry Pepper Jam with Peanut Butter Powder was another favorite of mine. With powdered sugar outside and jelly oozing out from inside, this donut is peanut butter and jelly heaven. It is a grown up peanut butter and jelly sandwich made into a dessert.

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The Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk is one I found to be very different.  This pretty in pink donut had a really strong rosemary aftertaste.

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The Chocolate Almond Ganache is another one for chocolate lovers! Similar to the Mexican hot chocolate, this had a dark chocolate flavor. The almond on top was a nice crunchy touch.

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For those wanting a more simple, light treat, the Orange Olive Oil Cake is the one for you. I found this donut to be very light and fluffy with the flavors not too strong.

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The Cointreau Creme Brûlée was one tasty, unique treat. It has house made vanilla custard, Cointreau syrup and is sweetened with Madagascar canola beans in a pipette. The vanilla custard is packed in the inside of this donut and really brings out the creme brûlée flavor.

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Last but not least, I tried their Hard Cider Apple Fritter. I have always loved apple fritters and found their take of apple fritters here true to the classic apple fritter donut. The hard cider glaze and sugar on top along with the crisp donut texture, makes for one delectable donut!

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Blue Star Donuts are definitely not your ordinary donuts. From their buttery brioche dough to their unique ingredients, these doughnuts are definitely a star on their own. They’ve got a little more pizazz, a little bit more oomph, a little bit more adult. They’re like no other. Blue Star Donuts are donuts for grown ups.

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For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Blue Star Donuts.

 

 

Hello Franzese Hot Chocolate!

Last October, I wrote a blog post about the newly opened Nordstrom E-bar at the Del Amo Fashion Center. As can be seen in that blog post, I simply adore handcrafted warm beverages. There is something so relaxing about sitting down with a nice cup of hot chocolate or coffee in one’s hand.

I really loved my experience at the Nordstrom E-bar and therefore I was delighted to hear about Franzese. It is Franzese’s Italian Hot Chocolate products that are served at Nordstrom’s E-bars and Cafe’s globally.

I recently was fortunate to try out a variety of Franzese’s different flavors of Italian hot chocolate. It was one blessed opportunity to be able to make  various Italian hot chocolate right at the comfort of my own home!

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There were two ways to prepare Franzese’s hot chocolate. One way was the traditional hot chocolate while the other way was Italian sipping chocolate. The Italian dipping chocolate was thicker and more rich. I tried both ways and found myself having some very delicious, heartwarming beverages. All the flavors I tried were delightful.

For those looking for traditional, classic flavor. The chocolate flavor is the one for you. Their classic hot chocolate is one sure to remind you of the comforts of home and bring warmth on chilly nights.

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The white hot chocolate is for those one looking for a sweeter version of the traditional hot chocolate. I’ve always been a fan of white chocolate candy and this flavor reminded me of the sweet candy treat but in beverage form.

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I’m also a big fan of fruity beverages and thanks to Franzese it was my first time to try strawberry hot chocolate. This was hot chocolate with a sweet, fruity subtle taste. It was very nice and something different. 

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Salted caramel is all the rage now and a very popular flavor in many cafes. Nordstrom’s popular salted caramel mocha is actually made with Franzese’s salted caramel hot chocolate. I was so pleased to be able to make salted caramel hot chocolate right at home. This was one of my favorite flavors.

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Last but not least, one cannot think of Italy without thinking of tiramisu. The coffee flavored Italian dessert is transformed to a decadent beverage via Franzese’s tiramisu hot chocolate.

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Overall, all of the various flavors of Franzese were lovely. It brought a little bit of Italy to my home and I could not help imagine myself at an Italian villa sipping these beverages, simply relaxing and smiling.

*Items in this post were provided for a complimentary basis to facilitate this review. This blog post was accurate when published and reflects the uninfluenced opinion of the blog writer.

Hello Goldilocks Carson!

Hello Goldilocks! No, I’m not talking about the blonde, curly haired little girl who’s friends with the three bears. Instead, I am talking about the Filipino restaurant and bakeshop, Golidlocks.

Goldilocks is a popular Filipino restaurant that first originated in the Philippines in 1966. With 450 branches in the Philippines, Goldilocks slowly made it’s way to the US in 1976. Most of the restaurant chains are in Northern California but they are starting to open up in Southern California as well, with the most recent opening being in Carson, California, this last February.

I had previously dined at the Goldilocks in Cerritos, California and remember being a fan of not only their traditional savory Filipino entrees but their sweet delightful sweets. When I heard about the newly opened restaurant in Carson, California, I was so excited to check it out. I soon found myself dining here for dinner with my mom.

Goldilocks Carson has many Filipino favorites such as the classic Filipino peanut broth stew kare kare. Here at Goldilocks they have a vegetarian version as well as the traditional version with oxtail and tripe. I got to try the traditional version here. The Goldilocks kare kare has oxtail, tripe, beef and assorted vegetables slow cooked in peanut sauce and served with a side of bagoong. I was such a fan of the thick peanut  sauce. It was perfect over white rice.  I also loved the good mix of vegetables in there. There was plenty of cabbage and green beans as well as eggplants.

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Another savory dish I tried was the guinataang sitaw at kalabasa. This is dish consists of green beans and squash sautéed in coconut milk with spices and topped with shrimp. I really enjoyed the crispy green beans, soft squash and creamy coconut milk broth.

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The guinataang sitaw at kalabasa is a good veggie dish but does have shrimp. For those  looking for pure vegetarian dishes, they do have a couple here such as the sizzling tofu sisig. This dish has tofu cubes sautéed with garlic, onion, green and red bell pepper and is served on a sizzling plate.

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Another favorite by many at the newly opened Goldilocks Carson, is the Pancit palabok. Their version of the rice noodle dish was topped with thick savory garlic sauce, crushed chicharon and sliced boiled eggs. It is also supposed to have shrimp, diced pork, tofu and smoked fish flakes but for this go around, I didn’t see it. It was very classic, light and simple.

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Aside from the delicious savory desserts, Goldilocks Carson had plenty of sweet delights.

They have my favorite boat tarts. These mini pies have always been my favorite pastries. They come in three flavors, macapuno, langka and ube and are topped with a cashew.

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Of course, not lacking here is Goldilocks famous cakes. They have so many fabulous flavors but I love their classic mango cake and the choco mocha crunch. I also love that they can make custom cakes like Hello Kitty.

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It is nice to see Goldilocks open up a branch at Carson, California. Carson has always been a good place for Filpino food and from Goldilock’s savory dishes to their sweet treats (like Hello Kitty cake), it is a new Filipino haven for foodies.

For mor smiles, please see my recent Yelp review about Goldilocks Carson.

Hello Del Amo Fashion Center Upcoming New Eateries!

When Del Amo Fashion Center debuted it’s new Fashion Wing last October, this Hello Kitty Foodie was beyond ecstatic.

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As my previous blog post, showed the new fashion center opened up some amazing new hot spots. I am so excited to share that there are more new, wonderful eateries that will be joining the amazing line up of hot spots at Del Amo Fashion Center.

This Spring Del Amo Fasion Center will be welcoming Popbar. This place specializing in handcrafted, natural gelatos on a stick is well known at the Anaheim Packing District, Santa Anita Westfield Mall and at many more locations. I am so excited that it is coming to Del Amo! This Hello Kitty Foodie is looking forward to trying out their popgelato, popsorbetto and yogurt pops! Popbar will be located next to Macy’s in the Fashion Wing.

Summer time will be another exciting time with the opening of Lemonade. I have previously dined at another Lemonade location in the past. As can be seen in my old Yelp review, I was such a fan of their large selection of delicious healthy food and sweet lemonades. The colorful  cafeteria-style eatery simply made me smile. Coming to Del Amo will be 1,690-square-foot Lemonade that will also be located in the Fashion Wing, between Macy’s and Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ.

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Not only is Lemonade opening up this summer but a 2,190-square-foot Luna Grill will be making it’s way to Luxe Court, next to Michael Kors.  They specialize in fresh Mediterranean cuisine such as gyros, kabobs, salad, and falafel.  Hello Kitty Foodie loves falafel and simply cannot wait!

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I am so happy to share the news about all these yummy places opening up at Del Amo Fashion Center. Please stay tuned on the Hello Kitty Foodie blog for more updates on these upcoming hot spots:) as well as follow Del Amo Fashion Center on Facebook at Twitter  or Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt Seattle!

When the Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt was in Los Angeles, it was so much fun for lots of Hello Kitty Foodies. Now the Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt is back and this time it’s in Seattle!

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Hello Kitty Foodies are sure to enjoy this cutest culinary scavenger hunt to hit Seattle ever! The Hello Kitty Hungry hunt started last February 19 and is running through March 18. It is at some Seattle’s most delicious cafes and restaurants! Similar to the hunt in LA,  each participating venue has Hello Kitty typed food, dessert or beverage item created exclusively for the event. Each menu item will come with a collectible and exclusive Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt Seattle pin with Hello Kitty enjoying the special treat from each of the participating eateries.

Restaurants that are a part of Hello Kitty’s Hungry Hunt in Seattle are :

Gossip Espresso & Tea at the center of the International District will offer a Hello Kitty Bubble Tea that is pretty in pink bubbly and strawberry milk tea flavored. It will be topped with limited edition lychee popping boba. Collectible pin: Hello Kitty holding a bubble tea

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Hello Robin Cookies at Capitol Hill will offer super cute iced Hello Kitty sugar cookie that is bow-shaped sugar and scoop of strawberry ice cream & sprinkles. Collectible pin: Hello Kitty holding a cookie.

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Japonessa Sushi Cocina will be serving up Hello Kitty Spicy Tuna Sushi in the shape of Hello Kitty’s face. Collectible pin: Hello Kitty holding sushi 

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Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream at Capitol Hill shop will be offering up a Hello Kitty Sundae consisting of strawberry ice cream topped with tart cherry compote, organic white chocolate chips, naturally colored pink sugar, whipped cream and a cherry. It is topped off with a homemade Hello Kitty sugar cookie garnish. Collectible pin: Hello Kitty holding an ice cream cone.

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PIE in Fremont neighborhood will serve up a special Hello Kitty lemon raspberry custard pie in a chocolate crust. It is topped off with a adorable Hello Kitty topper. Collectible pin: Hello Kitty holding a pie.

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POP Kitchen + Bar which is inside the EMP Museum, the museum showcasing Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty museum exhibition will offer up the cutest Hello Kitty Sandwich Seattle has seen. Collectible pin: Hello Kitty holding a sandwich

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Trophy Cupcakes and Party at Pacific Place location will serve up a custom designed Hello Kitty Cupcake. It is super yummy and made from valrhona chocolate cake & topped with a Madagascar vanilla buttercream. Collectible pin: Hello Kitty holding a cupcake

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Supercute smiles are sure to be all over Seattle! Have fun Hello Kitty Foodies!