Caffe Bene – Ellicott City

Today is going to be a hot one (mid 90s), so I wanted to get out early and run some errands before the heat came. I went to Caffe Bene and had a Mocha Frappe. They use espresso shots, so this had a nice, bold flavor to it. This is a thick drink, but it’s not too icy. Since they also have boba drinks, this came with a thick straw, which works well with the thicker blend. I usually go here 3 or 4 times per year, so it was a nice little treat and good to have the thicker drink on a day with hot weather. I was able to run a couple of errands afterwards. I did some shopping at H Mart and some shopping at Sprouts, and the drink was still nice and thick, which was a plus.

Caffe Bene has a signature drink, Misugaru, which is a multi-grain drink. I did not get it this morning, but I’ve had it in the past in frappe form. It has an earthy, malt-type flavor which is good. Not something my tastebuds would normally enjoy, but good nonetheless.

When Caffe Bene opened up in Ellicott City, I was a happy camper. It reminded me of my time in California. When my sister and I first started going on our walks/runs, one of the routes we would take would have us going to Seattle’s Best Coffee on the final leg of our run. The store had really good coffee and good seasonal options. Their sweets were great, especially their pumpkin loaf (with icing) and chocolate peppermint loaf bread with peppermint icing. When I really wanted to indulge, I would get their espresso shake. Fresh brewed espresso mixed with ice cream into a thick, creamy milkshake. Not something I could have all the time, but definitely worth it when I ordered it. The staff that worked there was fantastic. I still remember Molly, Lola, Alice, Liz, and Valerie, to name a few. They made the experience even better with our conversations. We were regulars there and they all made us feel welcome, even if we had just finished up a 6 or 7 mile run in hot weather. Watching Alice make coffee drinks was magical for me. She was very systematic and methodical, which I really appreciate. Everyone there had a fun time and enjoyed what they were doing.

When Seattle’s Best stores closed, I was sad (they also had locations inside Border’s Books, which went out of business a number of years ago). At the particular location where my sister and I used to go after our runs, the location switched over to a Caffe Bene. I was hesitant at first, since I had a loyalty to Seattle’s Best and the people who worked at that location. But it wasn’t the fault of Caffe Bene that it shut down, so we gave it a try. We were able to go there a few times before I moved away, so being able to go to Caffe Bene here in Maryland makes me feel a connection to the times we had in California. It brings back happy thoughts and positive memories, which helps me have a good start to the day.

Firehouse Creamery – Sykesville, MD

Firehouse Creamery is another local ice cream shop. It’s a small town, and we have two Ice Cream shops (Norwood is the other). They are both good, and each have their own unique offerings, so it’s good to have the ability to choose. I was in a milkshake mood yesterday with hot weather, so it’s what I went with.

There were plenty of good flavors from which to choose, and I decided to go with Chocolate Peanut Butter, which is an oldie but goodie for me. The milkshake was the right consistency. Not too thin and not too thick. Good enough to suck through the straw without straining and not so easy that it comes through like milk. The flavor of the milkshake was also good. You could get the flavors of the chocolate and the peanut butter coming through. Since they added a nice touch of peanut butter sauce along the inside of the cup, it made some flavors more peanut buttery as I scraped my straw along the sides for some sips.

Milkshakes and cold drinks are definitely must haves for me, as I tend to gravitate towards them. The only downside is the amount of calories. If it means that I have to exercise a little bit more, then I think it’s worth it.

Firehouse Creamery can definitely do milkshakes (and ice cream) right. It’s why I’ve been there many times in the past and will go many times in the future. And what a nice way to provide temporary relief from the hot temperatures!

Food Truck Tuesday – 10.01.19

The West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department’s Food Truck Tuesdays will be winding down, so I decided to head back there again yesterday. Since the temperature was going to be in the mid to upper 80s, I figured that I would also be getting a milkshake (I’ll write about that soon). Knowing that I would be eating a lot of food for dinner, I decided to have a health bar for lunch.

I arrived at the event shortly after it opened (4PM), so there was plenty of parking and not too many people around. There was a good selection of Food Trucks, but I decided to try two of them (it was originally going to just be one).

I ordered from the Taco Bar Food Truck first. Since the Mexican Street Tacos allowed for multiple selections, I got an order of three tacos – one with Char Grilled Chicken, one with Carnitas, and one with Carne Asada. The tacos came with fresh lime, green sauce, and red sauce.

I started with the Carne Asada. This can be tricky for me. Sometimes, the steak can be too chewy or too crispy. Sometimes it can have a very dull flavor. The steak in this taco was good. It was easy to bite through while maintaining the properties of a well cooked steak. The soft taco had nice flavor and held together well. It didn’t split or break, which can be one of the downfalls of tacos. The onion and cilantro mix added a nice blend for a traditional taco taste.

I went to the Char Grilled Chicken next. This was much better than I was expecting. The chicken had really good flavor to it, and the texture was fantastic. It was shredded chicken and was very juicy. Much better than the grilled, sliced chicken breast that has a tendency to dry out. This ended up being my favorite of the three tacos.

The last taco I tried was the Carnitas. I am a fan of pork, and this did not disappoint. There was a nice little kick to it. Not so spicy that it hurt your mouth but enough to let you know that there was something there.

The sauces both had nice flavor. The red sauce was spicier, but not enough to hurt. The green had a milder flavor, but there was a good combination of flavors in the sauce. Both of the sauces worked well individually and collectively on the tacos, which made for an overall positive eating experience.

The second truck I went to was the Cup O’ Dough Food Truck. This truck has edible cookie dough in multiple flavors. The Fluffernutter flavor caught my eye, and I decided to try it. The flavor was very good. The peanut butter cookie dough had the right texture and consistency to it, and the marshmallow swirl added a nice layer of sweetness and smooth consistency that provided a balance. I got a small size, which ended up being more than I should have eaten in one sitting. It was good, though, and I was happy to have tried it.

I’m not sure if I’ll be heading back for any more Food Truck Tuesdays this year. If I don’t, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for them next year. It’s nice to have these types of events, since there are options out there to try and experience new foods, or try familiar foods from new sources. With the heat bearing down, having options like this help to keep things positive.