Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thank You, Gluten Free Gods.

I thought it couldn't get any better, but it did.

I thought I couldn't love it any more, but I do.

I thought my prayers would never be answered, but they were.

That's right. My hope and dreams, wishes and prayers, desires and cravings.... they've been fulfilled.

No, I didn't get discovered and become famous, or win a million dollars, or even get a job (yet). But I did walk into my aforementioned-favorite-cafe DaisyCakes last week to see the elusive and previously unattainable holy grail awaiting me...

A gluten free donut.

11 will forever be my lucky number.

It's all I've ever wanted.

Just look at my twitter feed and former Mugshot posts for evidence.

Note that in this Tweet (above) I did not call out Daisy Cakes. Because they are already the leader in amazing gluten-free goodies, I didn't expect them to have to do it ALL! But they did.

When people ask me what's the hardest part about not eating gluten, my answer is simple: not eating donuts.

"The Porcelain Donut"
I liked donuts before going gluten-free, really I did. But when I swore off wheat and they became forbidden, I wanted them even more.

Once, the craving was so consuming that in a moment of weakness I scarfed down a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed, knowing the aftermath wouldn't be pleasant. I was right.

I got so sick I spent a long time sitting on a different type of donut, if you know what I mean.

All this to say, thank you DaisyCakes. 

The donuts were freshly made and tasted as incredible as they looked. They were coated in cinnamon sugar, and reminded me of Auntie Anne's cinnamon pretzels (another big thing I miss from my former glutenous life).

They were soft and cake-y, and didn't taste any different than a donut with gluten. In fact, they tasted better.

So thank you, DaisyCakes, for solidifying your spot as the #1 bakery/cafe in this town for those of us living life sans-wheat. Thank you for seeing gluten-free people as individuals equally deserving of love, joy, and delight . Thank you for recognizing we still have desires, dreams, and yearning souls (we're not gingers, for chrissakes!)

So, if you're reading this...
Get your gluten free butt to DaisyCakes. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: Saladelia

I'm back!

Sincerest apologies to all my fans who have most likely been having withdrawals from this coffee turned caffeine-free coffee turned tea turned really-any-drink-in-general blog. I can visualize you all now... shut-ins in your apartments with no idea where to go or what to drink, lost without my guidance and words of wisdom, turning to K-cups, instant brews, and - god forbid- Starbucks.

No fear, that misery is now a thing of the past.

Today's review: Saladelia Cafe, American Tobacco District
Website: http://www.saladelia.com/home/

The first time I ever visited Saladelia, it was an epic fail. 

I was going there to meet with someone I'd never met before, so the social anxiety was already dangerously high. I also seem to have developed a somewhat embarrassing sweating problem as of late, and this day in particular I had the most moist palms ever. Safe to say I just wanted a refreshing iced coffee and a place to rest my aching (sweaty)  feet. 

It was 5:00 and I was ready for a snack (or five). But I walked in and.... it.... was... CLOSED. At 5 pm on a weekday?! What in the world, wouldn't that be their most popular hour?! Ugh. 

As upsetting as this experience (or lack thereof) was, I went back today to try again. This time, safely in the morning hours. 

Unlike last time, today I was far from disappointed. My boyfriend and I each tried one of their homemade freshly-squeezed juices, and they were both incredible. I got the Green Monster (cucumber, apple, celery, kale) and Alex got the Delicious Trio (apple, orange, pineapple). They were kind of expensive ($6 each) but we were splurging because we'd walked there and all physical activity deserves a reward, preferably in the form of food/drink. 

They also had the most incredible spread of cafe items like homemade hummus, yummy-looking baked goods, and unreal sandwiches. Oh, and tons of coffee of course. There were only a few gluten-free options, but at this point in my GF life I've sadly come to expect that. 

All is forgiven after the closed-strangely-early debacle of April and I am now fully prepared to move on. 

Next time on Mugshot: Guest blogger Malissa McSwain! 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

If you can't buy local....

Sometimes, it's just too much trouble to get yourself to the local coffee shop.

By the time you don your beanie, put on your hipster glasses, and throw that vintage copy of The Fountainhead in your burlap purse, you don't have the energy to ride your single speed bike to the grungy yet chic cafe on the corner (à la Cocoa Cinnamon).

What should you do when time is of the essence but caffeine is mandatory? God forbid you go somewhere as mainstream as Starbucks; you might as well buy some Lilly Pulitzer for Target.

If worse comes to worse, you might have to get "chain coffee" (that is, coffee from a chain. Ugh). I've done the dirty work for you so once you push on your oversized Warby Parker shades to hide your face, you can run in and run out before anyone knows what you've done.

1. Best Hazelnut Coffee: Panera 

Panera may be a chain, but their Hazelnut coffee is undeniably delicious. It tastes even better and does less damage to your counter-culture reputation if you take your own reusable travel mug.

2. Best Donut Coffee: Krispy Kreme

I know everybody and their mother thinks Dunkin Donuts coffee is the ish, but honestly have you ever tried it without a chocolate donut also stuffed in your mouth? Yeah, not so yummy anymore. Krispy Kreme coffee, on the other hand, is good in its own right.

3. Best Cafeteria Coffee: Jamaican Me Crazy

If you're a student, chances are your university dining hall offers this coffee called "Jamaican Me Crazy." I lived on this stuff in college and it's honestly some of the best I've ever had.

4. Best Fast-Food Coffee: Taco Bell

Ok, I'll admit I've never actually HAD Taco Bell's coffee. I just love that place and the fact they now serve breakfast so much I had to include them on the list for pure publicity purposes. I'm sure their coffee is as delicious as everything else they serve there. It's cheap too, and we all know true hipsters are poor.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Coffee Pet Peeve

I have more than a few pet peeves. 

In my high school public speaking class, we were given the assignment of writing and giving a speech about our top pet peeves. The teacher had to cut me off as the speech turned from a well-organized monologue into a scathing rant about the crusty dried milk that flakes off at the top of the jug (click here for a scintillating Yahoo! Answers conversation on that topic...)

But what does this have to do with coffee?

One of my BIGGEST pet peeves of all time, the one that makes my temper flare and my skin crawl, the one that keeps me up at night.... is..... empty coffee cups in movies and television shows. 

You know what I'm talking about: the cop brings his partner a cup of joe and all is well until he sets it down on the desk and you can HEAR its hollowness! Or the girls are walking down the street sipping cappuccinos only to noticeably NOT swallow the non-existent liquid! Or the frazzled intern has a tray of Starbucks cups that DON'T slosh out coffee as she dodges the taxi!

As you can see, I get pretty worked up about this. Trust me, I know there are bigger problems in this world. But why not just fill the cup? 

I decided to find out if anyone else had this same coffee pet peeve.

Another troubled soul was grappling with the issue and posed the question on the "Straight Dope Message Board" (where else?) Someone asks:

Ugh, I feel ya, bubastis! 

The inquiring minds of the "Straight Dope Message Board" and I need some relief. I don't know about bubastis, but I will not be able to sleep until this is solved.

[45 minutes later......]

Unfortunately, an extensive search of the web has failed to yield any conclusive answers. Everyone seems to be venting rather than explaining the reasoning! 

At least I'm not alone.... 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: DaisyCakes

Disclaimer: I'll go ahead and admit that this review may be a tad biased, seeing as I am a borderline obsessed, diehard DaisyCakes fan.  

Hot Drink Hotspot: DaisyCakes, Foster Street
("Eat Daisy Cakes" Website)

Coffee Date: Do we even need this part anymore? It's always the same person... Alex.


Alex's iced coffee: not technically a "mugshot," oops!

I'll just come right out and say it: DaisyCakes is the best cafe in Durham. It's a bold statement, I know, but I stand by it wholeheartedly. I absolutely love some others, like Beyu and Scratch, but DaisyCakes is #1. 

What makes DaisyCakes so great? Oh, let me count the ways.

1) Gluten Free Goodness- DaisyCakes is the best spot in Durham for yummy treats sans-wheat. Everything from biscuits to cupcakes, bread pudding to cookie pies... all gluten-free. And the best part? They don't taste any different than their gluten-y counterparts. 

2) Coffee, Coffee, Coffee- Free refills of coffee. Need I say more? 

3) Sweet Service- The people who work at DaisyCakes are not just the "fake-nice" you see so often these days, they are legitimately friendly, hardworking people. Good service makes DaisyCakes even sweeter! 

4) Good Vibes- The general aura in DaisyCakes is unbeatable. Inside, they have achieved to strike the perfect balance between intimate yet open, bright yet cozy. Yes it can get crowded, but the familiar faces that make up the "regulars" on Saturday mornings make it impossible to be upset. Instead of getting mad when I can't find a table, I feel happy that other people enjoy DaisyCakes as much as I do. 

5) Location is Everything- DaisyCakes is walking distance from my house which is amazing for my tummy (maybe not so amazing for my wallet...) It also neighbors the Farmer's Market which is one of my other favorite places in Durham. 

6) Social Media Success- DaisyCakes does an amazing job at regularly tweeting menu updates as well as engaging with customers on social media. On a snow day, I can check their Twitter to see revised hours. Wondering what the specials are? If I tweet and ask, I can always count on getting a response. 

7) Heart of Gold- Today I had lunch at DaisyCakes and was so pleased to see that a percentage of my purchase was going to support Autism research for "Dine 4 Autism" day. As if I could love them any more! 

There are more reasons to love DaisyCakes, but you should experience them for yourself. Check out their website for hours and stop by. You will not regret it! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Gift Guide

Buying the perfect gift for someone says a lot. It says that you know the person well, are thoughtful and care about them, and understand their interests.

As Mother's Day, graduations, and summer birthdays all approach, I've done the hard part for you when it comes to buying the perfect gift for a coffee-loving friend.

Check out the following gift guide to make sure your bean-brewing friends know how much they mean to you.

1. USB Heated Mug

I found out about this product from the Dodo Burd article "57 Buzzworthy Gifts for Coffee Lovers."  This item is exactly what it sounds like: a travel mug that stays hot all day if plugged into a USB port. Not that's pretty cool (or should I say "hot"?)

2. Subscription to "Fresh Cup" Magazine

Found on the Pinterest board "Gifts for Coffee Lovers," this magazine is the perfect gift for anyone who not only enjoys coffee but wants to learn more about their favorite beverage.

3. Wash With Joe, coffee-scented body wash 

As strange as it may sound, this coffee-scented body wash actually smells pretty great, according to HiConsumption's article "21 Gifts for the Coffee Lover." 

4. "Good Morning Beautiful" spoon 

Wouldn't it be nice to be reminded of your beauty when you feel least beautiful (in other words, early morning pre-caffeine)? This handmade spoon with "Good Morning Beautiful" engraved in the silver will make scooping and stirring coffee all the more enjoyable. Buy it for $16 on Etsy.

By EveOfJoy on Etsy

5.  Craft Coffee Monthly Packages 

You've heard of monthly mailing programs like Birchbox or Barkbox that send regular shipments of new products, but what about a coffee version? This is a subscription to a monthly shipment from Craft Coffee. Featured on PopSugar's "Gifts for Coffee Loves Under $50," this truly is the gift that keeps on giving. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Juice Journey: One Week of Green

Last week, my dad sent me an article he'd seen on Yahoo! about a woman who for one week replaced her daily cup of coffee with a green smoothie. 

In "Here's What Happened when I Drank a Green Smoothie Instead of Coffee Every Morning for a Week," Kathleen Elkins documents her 5 days of ditching coffee for buying and "drinking those obnoxiously green smoothies you see health nuts walking around with after their workout." 

Ultimately, Elkins is unconvinced by the power, or lack thereof, of the green juice and hates the toll the fancy drink takes on her wallet. 

So, since my doctor recently suggested I wean myself off caffeine, I decided to try this green juice challenge myself. 

Seeing that one of the author's main complaints in the Yahoo! article was the high price of the drinks, I gathered recipes for homemade versions. Real Simple, one of my favorite magazines, had the perfect 5-day guide to green. The collection of "5 Healthy Green Smoothie Recipes" included ingredients ranging from kale to pineapple, and I was convinced these healthy drinks would be the perfect substitute for my caffeinated coffee. 

Since each recipe was for 2 servings, I convinced my mom to join in on the fun. Here's a quick look at our juice journey:

Day 1
I didn't mind missing my morning cup of joe when I tasted this delicious green concoction. Yes, it took my mom and I joining forces to squeeze all the ingredients into our blender and then some creative alterations to make it work, but in the end it was really yummy. I was feeling good until the afternoon when a horrible migraine hit. The only thing that could stop the pounding in my head? A cup of coffee that evening. Oops, so much for no caffeine. 

This juice was awesome. The apple juice really sweetened the mix, and my mom and I both gave it two thumbs up. Unfortunately, we also each had a cup of coffee, too. At this point we decided it was best to join the forces of coffee and green juices to avoid more caffeine-craving headaches. Sorry, doc. 

Day 2

I'll be honest, we both hated this recipe. We agreed it was the "healthiest" tasting one yet, and that is not a compliment. I almost had to plug my nose as I chugged it down as quickly as possible. On a positive note, I did feel like I'd had all my fruits and veggies for the day. I could also convince myself any negative side effects of the coffee were canceled out by the juice's vitamins. 

Day 3

This day's juice was definitely one of our favorites, even though my mom pointed out that the banana kind of overpowered the other flavors. It was still extremely yummy and the perfect compliment to my coffee and toast. 

Day 4

My mom and I agreed this one tasted very... "fresh." That's our way of saying it tasted like liquified celery. Mom said this one was her "fifth favorite," aka last place. I didn't dislike it nearly as much, although it was like nothing I've ever tasted before. I preferred the hazelnut coffee we both had afterwards. #GuiltyPleasure

Ultimately, I really enjoyed our week of green. Overall, these juices were extremely delicious and had us both feeling like the health gurus that we most certainly are not. As much as we enjoyed the experiment, it took only one day for me to understand that nothing can ever replace my caffeine. I'm yours, coffee. Forever and always. 

Thanks to my sweet dad for this idea, and my awesome mom for always being up for anything. You don't need any green goo to make you better; you're already perfect :)