Milka Coffee Roasters

If you’re from Sacramento, you have “your” go-to coffee spot where you camp out for hours chatting with friends and taking pictures of your latte to work on your personal brand. We have our favorite baristas, our favorite drinks and our favorite reasons going there. In a city full of well-known coffeehouses, it might seem like having one more could feel crowded. Milka Coffee Roasters will blow whatever expectations out of the water with its great drinks, kind baristas and gorgeous space.

Milka is owned by Samir Benouar, named after his grandmother, Milka Radonich, who was also a small-business owner. The website includes a cute childhood picture of Samir and his grandmother, as well as their mission statement to create a sustainable and modern coffee culture. Some retail shelving offers a sampling of coffee magazines such as Drift are sold near the front of the shop. No retail bags of coffee yet, though I‘m sure it is in the works.

The showstopper at Milka is truly the physical space itself. Located in the Mansion Flats neighborhood of Sacramento, Milka makes you feel at home as you navigate from room to room with its warm emerald green tones and comfy thrift store seating. As you enter the shop on G street, you’re greeted by the happy, seaweed green tiled pillars and a La Marzocco. Order your drink at the bar, and then wander through each room and bask in the light from the beautiful bay windows. Milka was formerly an actual house in Mansion Flats and one of its greatest strengths is that it feels exactly like that. Each room has it’s own vibe to it. The first room is set up like a living room, with a bench, four warm orange chairs and some side tables. Sink into one of those great orange chairs as your drink is served to you in one of the Fellow brand cups. As you turn to your left, you’ll notice the second room, hosting more thrifted chairs and benches. The third and largest room at Milka hosts more midcentury modern accent chairs, table seating and stools at a counter lining the enormous bay windows. Two things struck me most about this room: the large bay windows grab your attention initially and the emerald green ceilings takes you by surprise. Like many houses of that style, Milka’s hardwood floors means every conversation echos throughout the entire space, especially its largest room facing 15th street. Instead of a typical quiet hum of a coffeehouse, this shop’s noise level tends to stay on the louder side, as if you were at happy hour somewhere. Milka offers a space for collaboration: the place to network, meet up with your mentor, or work on a group project.

No matter where your coffee allegiances lie, Milka will be a frontrunner among Sacramento’s coffee powerhouses. As summer in Sacramento inches closer and closer, there is nothing better than feeling the sun in your face indoors with the AC blasting as you sip on an iced latte.

Kantine

This past August I traveled for two weeks around Norway. I went into that trip with no expectations regarding food, so it was a delicious surprise to learn about their excellent coffee culture, full of small, hip shops on every other block. Waking up every morning knowing there was a great cup of joe waiting for me each morning was almost if not equally as exciting knowing there was an abundance in pastries as well. My favorite bun was a classic cinnamon knot, always topped with pearl sugar. It was chewy and soft and I left every place I ate a cinnamon knot wanting another one for the road. The sweet buns were one of the things I missed from my trip in Norway, and just as I was missing them a bit more a few weeks ago, I found Kantine while scrolling mindlessly away on Instagram.

Located on Market Street, Kantine gives off a cool, soothing vibe, the same vibe I experienced while visiting Norwegian coffee shops. Even for a Wednesday morning, the space was nearly full with friends chatting over savory porridges and lattes. I spent the morning at Kantine people watching in and out of the shop while eating my breakfast.

The initial sticker shock was also reminiscent of my trip to Norway (five tiny cups of food for $15? To be quite honest, I was skeptical), but the quality and quantity was satisfying. Brunch boards are offered everyday, with a choice of five or seven items to mix and match. My runny egg sat in a small bowl with creamy spinach- a combination I would not have considered for myself, but I found myself savoring every bite and slurping up every last drop. I always prefer savory over sweet, so I jumped at the chance to eat green beans and chickpeas in the morning. A dollop of dill sauce and thin slices of radishes made an excellent crunchy component to breakfast. It was delicious with the soft-boiled egg on thin slices of seeded rye bread. Finally, the rice pudding offered a delicious sweet end to my savory breakfast spread. The soft cherry sauce balanced the crunch of the almonds.

I purchased a box of pastries to take home when I was finally satisfied with breakfast. Below are some pictures of the pastries. Starting at the left is the tebirkes, a sweet cream poppy seed danish. Shaped like a regular chocolate croissant, this square laminated pastry is not even close to being regular. The poppy seeds give a dramatic look! After one bite of this flaky pastry, you’ll realize this pastry is filled with a sweet cream that isn’t overly sweet, but is balanced with the savory buttery layers of the croissant. Pølsehorn is the rectangular pastry to the right, a Danish sausage roll wrapped in laminated dough sprinkled with sesame, poppy and fennel seeds. I love sausage rolls! My go to way to eat a sausage roll is the sweet, yeasty his was a delicious, crunchy variation of how I love to eat hot dogs because my one true love will always be at Chinese bakeries with a yeasty sweet dough. At the bottom of the box is a classic cinnamon knot pastry. If you were not convinced to purchase any food from Kantine at this point, please do me a favor and buy this one. It is the perfect snack with coffee to start your day, eat as a midday snack, eat for dessert, and also maybe for midnight snacks. Although it looks similar to Kosher salt, these delicious treats are topped with pearl sugar, giving a nice crunch to the soft and chewy dough.

The picture on the rightis the seasonal fruit danish consisting of a festive combination of pears and lingonberries. Crisp yet chewy dough in conjunction with the soft pears made for a delectable afternoon snack.

Kantine’s food is not your typical brunch fare, but it is nearly if not more comforting than your standard eggs Benedict on a Saturday morning. If you ride the F train, you have no excuse to not stop by for a quick pastry before you head to work this week. Treat yourself, it’s almost Friday. Then treat yourself again on Saturday for brunch, because you still ride the F train.

Neighbor's Corner

Before I moved, using the bus was my least favorite mode of transportation. I would rather walk 45 minutes than take the bus. While taking the bus is still not my favorite, it's basically all I do now in San Francisco. With all this said, I passed by Neighbor's Corner by accident while riding the 48 one early Sunday morning and knew I needed to find it again, but on purpose this time. Tucked away in the hills on the corner of Douglas and 21st Street, I would have never found this place on my own (so thanks, SFMTA, I guess?). 

Neighbor's Corner serves Andytown coffee and a selection of pastries and light lunch items. The cafe also has a mini mart area, selling sandwiches and other lunch items and drinks to take away, and bookshelves of handmade ceramics. I sat at a long community table, slightly jealous of the people who nabbed the seats along the window. I snacked on a scallion and bacon cornmeal scone and a cortado, enjoying the natural light this cafe serves and instead of people watching, I saw at least ten different types of dogs pass by. Drinks are served in ceramic dish ware, making me feel even more at home than I had already felt when I first stepped inside. This place is extremely cute without trying too hard, even with its minimalist white walls and contemporary ceramic cups. If this cafe is already not perfect enough, bring your laptop and take advantage of their free wifi so you can work on your blog, you weird millennial. Neighbor's Corner is the ideal daytime hangout, so for all you freelancers out there, this place is paradise. 

Boot and Shoe Service

Boot and Shoe Service is among the weekend brunch establishments such as Penrose and Shakewell near Lake Merritt. Yesterday morning was my first time eating brunch here and I hadn't seen my friend Maci since winter so it was an exciting day. The cafe opened before the general brunch hours, and we stumbled across the back patio which I had no idea it existed and swooned over the beautiful pastries at the register. As the first group in line, we were seated right by the window and by an intricate piece of artwork filled with laser cut words. After much deliberation, summer vegetable gratin with a baked egg was the hearty, satisfying brunch decision this beautiful Saturday morning. While ingredients were simple, the assembly felt thoughtful and generous. The vegetables were tender and the egg was a necessary addition to round it out. Maci ordered a selection of sides: a single poached egg, a side of grilled country bread and a bowl of Dirty Girl strawberries. Excellent brunch with an excellent friend- who I found out is a master at parallel parking!!

Boot and Shoe Service was only the beginning of a fun day in the Bay Area. We drove around East Bay showing each other our favorite neighborhoods and discovering new places together. Above are some quick snapshots I took. Below is a quick list of some places we visited/things we did:

  • books forever at my favorite bookstore, Walden Pond
  • stationary, knickknacks and plants galore at Neighbor
  • purchasing matching bags at Baggu
  • finding out Doughnut Dolly no longer exists and has closed in Temescal (?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • basil Italian sodas at Elmwood Cafe
  • black sesame ice cream at Tara's Organic Ice Cream

Vive La Tarte

IMG_1815.JPG

Am I truly getting the full experience of Vive La Tarte if I don't purchase a tart? This question was immediately answered as I saw the range of tarts laid out neatly next to the register. To be honest, the pastries were the second thing I noticed when I first walked in; the wide open space to walk around and sit was honestly a bit surprising in a big city like San Francisco. Vive La Tarte hosts blank white walls, massive wood benches stacked along the wall and marble counters. The pastry cases boast a variety of croissants, quiches, pizzas and of course, tarts galore. Need caffeine? The coffee station sits across from the baked goods against a painted grey wall. While many spaces can typically hold groups of 2-3 comfortably, Vive La Tarte is a great space to meet up with a larger group of friends. And another perk? It's a six minute walk from the Civic Center BART station. You're welcome, go grab a tart. 

IMG_9789.JPG

Madrid, Spain

The start of my excursion Madrid was a rocky one. Wendy and I arrived to Spain's capital sleep-deprived, hungry and kind of grimy from not showering in a while due to a small, undisclosed travel mishap. In short- I was in a bad mood. However, every negative feeling I had coming into the city disappeared as we walked around getting a feel for the different energy of Madrid from Barcelona. To me, Madrid felt a bit like San Francisco with its hilly terrain and quirky shops and art scene around each corner. Madrid has a plethora of museums boasting some of the world's most famous works of art (hi, Guernica!) and many of these museums are free on certain days! The city didn't feel overrun by tourists, which can often be the case in Barcelona, but felt balanced out by the numerous Spanish families and friends sitting at cafes or sunbathing in the park. I was especially inspired by the confident, stylish women on the street which may or may not have been the inspiration to buy new sandals. As usual, Madrid stole my heart with its food scene and I probably could have eaten my weight in churros. Below are my favorite eateries from my first and definitely not last trip in Madrid. 

Chocolateria San Gines

This snack time hotspot is a hit for both tourists and locals in search of beautifully crispy churros with thick chocolate sauce. Open 24 hours a day, simply order at the counter, hand your receipt to a server and take a seat at one of the sleek marble tables inside. You won't wait long for your hot churros to appear before you and it won't take you long to gobble them down. Extra chocolate sauce at the end? Slurp it down, chocolate lovers. 

La Mallorquina

Located on the busy Placa Puerto del Sol, this windows of this bakery are neatly lined with pastries galore. Step inside and find the same pastries lined in glass cases with prices clearly marked. To the left were a variety of confectionary sweets and to the right were the pastries and other baked goods. I felt like such a local perched next to a pack of Spanish grandmas clucking away over slices of cake and businessmen slurping down their coffees as we all stood at the counter. 

Rosi La Loca

How could I possibly turn down a three-course meal and drink for 13 euros?? This adorably quirky restaurant hit the spot after a long day of shopping and wandering. First course was a bed of lush springy leaves dressed in a sweet raspberry vinaigrette. Atop this salad was a savory helping of  warm goat cheese. This delicious salad was followed by hearty slices of veal. For dessert, I chose a strong americano while Wendy ate the sweet flan. 

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is the city that brings me so much joy and will continue to be that place due to the vibrant art scene, delicious food and generously kind locals. Barcelona, like many Spanish towns, eats late, like, 10pm. For someone who normally falls asleep by 10pm, it was a surprisingly easy transition to eating and hanging out late. Now, I could have had a ball just by myself in a busy town, but one of my close girlfriends from college also came along. She was the one, in fact, who convinced us to go to Spain to begin with! Wendy and I had traveled together in the past during our study abroad days, and this trip completely validated our friendship and our ability to travel as a pair.

There aren't as many pictures as I would have liked here because I was so hungry that I often forgot to take a quick snapshot! Whether we found them on Yelp or we discovered them as famished travelers, each venue had a different vibe and  Below are some of my picks from my quick trip to Barcelona. 

Tosca

Yelp suggested this tapas place for us and was a great place to rest at the end of our first day in Barcelona. Wendy loved this place so much actually, that we visited this place a second time for lunch. This second time was even better than before, because we arrived during a lunch special for only 13 euros. We chose three different tapas each, a drink and dessert. Our small table was full of dishes like a refreshing chef's salad, patatas bravas, pork loin, and risotto. It almost-but only almost- felt like we were stealing from them with the amount of food we ate. Is it bad that we 

El Nacional

This former parking garage has transformed into a gorgeous food hall. The walls are lined by a variety of different restaurants, while the middle of the building is occupied by a gelateria and a sprawling bar. We got in line for a restaurant called La Taperia because Wendy claimed "if there is a line, it must be good!" She was so right. I couldn't have been more pleased with our last night. La Taperia is a little different that the other tapas places we had visited throughout our trip. A set of tapas could be ordered immediately once we were seated, but the standard tapas dishes such as paella, mussels or patatas bravas were brought out by servers on trays. Customers would see what they would want to eat and would flag down the server. 

Also just as a side note, the bathroom is worth visiting too just to see all of the mirrors and clean white tiles! 

Tast a la Rambla

La Rambla is one of the main boulevards of the city, a constant hub of street peddlers trying to sell you annoying trinkets and subpar cafes. Really selling this area to you right now, huh? ;) Tast a la Rambla was an outdoor food and drink festival at the end of La Rambla, across from Placa del Portal de la Pau. Every booth featured little bites from various restaurants throughout the city. To make it easier on the vendors, there was a ticket system with one ticket at 1 euro. Each small tapas generally cost 4 tickets each, with wine and cocktails costing 4- 4.5 tickets. 

Satan's Coffee Corner

This little corner is actually one of my favorite coffee places during our whole trip, and honestly, one of my favorites in the whole world. This coffee shop hosts a very trendy crowd, with small cliques of art students scattered around the cafe. Huge windows encasing the cafe brought in beautiful light and was a great place to people watch. The standard location that tends to pop up on Instagram a lot is attached to Casa Bonay, another supremely peaceful and trendy hotel and lounge area (which I can geek out about another time because it was sooooo nice!!!). 

Satan's was more than just an aesthetically pleasing, hip place for the cool kids. I had a cortado at both locations and it was deliciously rich and crisp. The pluot galette was sprinkled with green sugar and gave a great crunch to the delicately soft pluots. Wendy and I also shared a raspberry glazed doughnut sprinkled with crunchy bits of pistachio. Needless to say, we had our fill of pastries by the end of breakfast from all of the beautifully crafted pastries. 

Cherry Bombe Marketplace

Sourdough loaf from the  Hot Bread Kitchen  booth

Sourdough loaf from the Hot Bread Kitchen booth

There is something so special about surrounding yourself with people who "get it". Maybe you share the same religious traditions, love a certain sport, or you share similar political views with someone. Having a shared passion for something means a lot of different things to people. Upon entering the High Line Hotel, I immediately knew that I was among women who also loved food and wanted to encourage and inspire others. I knew that many of these women have worked endlessly to perfect their niche in the food world. Cherry Bombe was exactly where I needed to be.

This was the first year of Cherry Bombe Marketplace, a place for women to network, listen to panels, attend demonstrations and create genuine connections with others in the food industry. Cherry Bombe Marketplace is an extension of the wildly popular Cherry Bombe Jubilee (that I didn't get the chance to go to but am crossing my fingers for next year!)  Located at the High Line Hotel, Marketplace's primary location was in a grand hall filled to the brim with vendors, free samplings of food and drink and passion. In addition to the main exposition room, cooking demos, book signings and panels on a range of topics were going on throughout the whole afternoon. Jordana Rothman of Food & Wine hosted my favorite panel of the day : "Money, Honey? : How to Start a Business on a Shoestring". Ellen Bennett, Christina Ha and Fany Gerson spoke of their experiences as business owners in the food industry with next to nothing. From Bennett working on the line to Ha hating her desk job, each woman had a very unique niche into how they bloomed into their business and into the food world. Every one of their stories somehow felt incredibly relatable too, despite their different paths and backgrounds from mine. 

Every woman I spoke with at Marketplace loved what they were doing, and believed in their product or their service 110%. Being surrounded by women who made a name for themselves in the food industry has stirred an urgent desire for me to pursue a place within the food industry. What has been stirring in my heart the last year or so was reinforced here and it was so uplifting to have complete strangers (or people I have been stalking on Instagram...?!) encourage me to pursue my passions. What better time than now?