Category Archives: Travel

Treviso, ITALY

The other day my friend Jake invited me to Treviso to go shopping at H&M. Since just returning back to Italy after a two year abscence, I was glad for a chance to hang out with a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile, well and, Treviso is one of my favorite small cities in Italy, and H&M is a favorite as well, so I was definitely interested in obliging. 



After I tried on every hat, and Jake had shopping success at H&M, we roamed around Treviso. 

My last stay in Italy I got to adventure a lot of small Italian cities, even one of my favorite days hopping on and off trains to see a few in one day, and from that, as much as I love Venice and Rome, I’m a firm advocate for experiencing the smaller town life of Italy. They are easy to get around quickly on foot with lots of stumble upons, and they aren’t as touristy so you feel like you are getting a more local or authentic Italian experience. 



I always love taking the advice of a local on where to eat and drink, so when Jake said he had a favorite spot to lunch, I was excited to try. We went to Bar Oasis Cafè for their sandwiches. Across the street was his favorite coffee shop, but it was closed for August. August is a big vacation time for Italians, so the smaller cities might have some spots closed, and the larger cities might be a little extra packed; that seems to be my experience so far since being in Venice the day before.


So after lunch we went down to the main center piazza to find a coffee shop. 


One of my favorite Italian experiences is sitting outside in a piazza drinking a cappuccino like today at Beltrame… Or eating pizza or gelato. It doesn’t feel more like Italy than that. And this piazza was the first one I sat in for pizza the first time I came to Italy, which is also probably why I feel so connected to Treviso. 



Next time you travel to Italy, definitely do all the famous cities, but consider hopping off the train at a random stop for an afternoon to do and experience something no one has told you about.

Venice, ITALY

I found out about a month ago that my friend Perry and his sister Shelly would be in Venice the same time as I’d be in Italy, so we made plans to meet for a day. We made plans the night before as without having international phone plans, we wouldn’t be able to communicate the next day. My train arrived at 8:18 AM so we met then on the train station steps over looking this gorgeous welcoming view.


Perry had read about a coffee shop for us to try, so per our typical coffee crawling/blogging ritual together, we stopped for coffee first at Torrefazione Cannaregio.


As we stepped into the tiny space packed with people, we felt the confusion of not knowing where to order. We assumed we were in line waiting our turn, but as Italians passed us for the bar to order, I remembered that the Italian style is to walk up to an open spot at the bar to order and drink, all while standing at the bar. There’s not always an option to sit, and rarely an option to take away.


We hopped into a spot as soon as it opened and when the barista approached us, we ordered a couple espressos, a cappucino and a shakerato (cold coffee). The cappuccino was one of my favorites that I’ve had in Italy. 



After caffinating, we started to roam the city. Our goal was to find breakfast, but we were more successful at getting lost and taking pictures for the next hour or so.



You could even say we were successful at getting lost at dead end roads with docks and getting kicked out of gardens by sweet smiling Italian grandmas who told us we were tresspassing. 


The bakeries are easy to spot as their windows are lined with pastries, and we eventually stumbled upon one for a traditional Italian breakfast.


We continued wandering through Venice making our way to the Piazza San Marco, the popular square often seen in pictures flooded with pigeons.



In the Piazza San Marco, there’s a museum called Museo Correr. We went inside for a view of the square, and to purchase tickets to go to the top of Torre dell’Orologio, the clock tower.



We walked through the museum and grabbed some sandwiches so we didn’t have to go back out into the humidity and crowds in search of lunch. This was also a good opportunity to take advantage of restrooms and outlets for charging phones and cameras.


We had a couple hours left until our tour for the clock tower, so we went to a spot recommended by Perry and Shelly’s hotel. On the map, it’s the island just south of Piazza San Marco. We found some gondolas for €2 that would take us across. 



Once on the island we made our way to the point, where there was a panoramic view of Venice. 


At 4 PM we took our tour to the top of Torre dell’Orologio with a view of Piazza San Marco and the cathedral.




We spent the evening by another famous area: the Rialto Bridge. There’s a hole in the wall pizza spot there that sells huge slices for €3 so we did that for dinner. I recommend having a plan for food: doing research and figuring out the good spots and what you are willing to spend. Venice is a big tourist city, so there’s a lot of low quality expensive food at restaurants that charge a cover. We tried to go to coffee in Piazza San Marcos and one coffee was €10 plus each person had to pay €6 for the live music, which wasn’t worth our budget.

Phoenix AZ – Matt’s Big Breakfast

Matt’s Big Breakfast is probably the first breakfast spot a Phoenician would recommend to you. Actually, I think it was one of the first local Phoenix spots I tried. So I’m excited to finally post on the blog to recommend it to others!


I always try to listen to recommendations that locals make, so when my friend Chris who lives in Downtown Phoenix recommended the Thursday special Eggs Benedict, I was so excited to try. 


We met our friend Vince there early on a Thursday morning to be sure we were there before they sold out. 


The Eggs Benedict was well worth the waking up early and driving through morning commute traffic to get. And I felt like my search for delicious Eggs Benedict in the valley was finally satisfied.



Mats is located in Downtown Phoenix, and if you start your day here, I’d recommend exploring more of the area by foot, that is anytime between November – May. Some nearby spots that are already on the blog: Phoenix Public Market, Roosevelt Row, Welcome Diner and Heritage Square (Pizzeria Bianco and Royal Coffee Bar). 

Or, if you are feeling like coffee and only want to walk a couple minutes like my time post-breakfast at Matt’s: try Velo, a bike shop slash coffee bar, for their Press Coffee offerings. 


Phoenix AZ – St. Francis

Another favorite Phoenix spot for me is St. Francis. This restaurant is owned by Chef Aaron Chamberlin, who also owns Phoenix Public Market (see separate blog post). 

Some of my friends Rob and Christina ( @newdarlings) and Diamond ( @pariselsewhere) had never been so we made a day to visit.


We went on a Sunday and I was so excited to see that they had brunch until 2:30 PM on the weekends. While we looked over the menu, our waiter Daniel let us know that Chef Aaron had put in some starters for us: a fresh tomato and sweet corn flat bread and oven fries. The kind hospitalality from Chef Aaron and our waiter was so welcoming and refreshing. 



By Daniel’s suggestion, I got the Eggs Benedict with pork loin and avocado. The pork loin was a delicious addition. St. Francis works with local community to source their ingredients locally, and it’s obvious in how fresh everything  tastes.



I tend to visit at dinner time, so I have to recommend my favorite item: Moroccan Meatballs . This dish baked in the wood oven is so popular that it has been featured on Phoenix New Times.

The space itself is gorgeous and a nice atmosphere for brunch or dinner: lots of natural light, brick, mirrors and wood. The space is actually a modern take by architect Wendell Burnette on a old office space built by architect Harold Ekman in 1955. Highly recommend this spot for the food and the space.


Phoenix AZ – Windsor & Churn

One of my top favorite spots  in Phoenix is Windsor & Churn. It’s one of the first places I mention when recommending spots in Phoenix. So I’m excited to finally post them on the blog. 

Me and Michelle had only had plans on our day off to grab coffee at Provision Coffee (see post), but it turned into a spontaneous long day of coffee crawling, and eventually meeting Angel at Windsor & Churn. 


The first thing I ever tried at Windsor is their Picnic Kebobs, and they were so good, that I literally must get them every time I go! The Kebobs come with chicken, pork, shrimp and veggie skewers on a wood platter with pita, spicy pepper dip and gold sauce. Recently I also tried the loaded chips (house chips with caramelized onions, bacon, blue cheese and chipotle cream) and am sold that it must be that no matter what is ordered here is phenomenal.

Next door to Windsor is Churn. Definitely a top favorite ice cream shop. I tend to get either the Vietnamese Coffee, Coconut or Peanut Butter ice cream in a cone with toasted marshmallow fluff on top. After a trip to CA and experiencing toasted marshmallow on ice cream, I was determined to find a spot at home that did it,  so I was pretty excited when I found that Churn does.


Phoenix AZ – Provision Coffee

I heard about Provsion Coffee as I happened to run into Laurence when he came in to grab a cappuccino from me one night. He invited me to visit his new shop in Gilbert as he was having a soft open beginning the next day. 


I stopped in that first week, and was welcomed with warm hospitality and a free cappuccino by Laurence and his business partner Daniel. Provision Coffee definitely offers one of the top cappuccinos I’ve had in the Phoenix area.

Specialty coffee in Gilbert is a rare commodity. So, I was glad to see Provsion Coffee part of bringing just that to the East Valley of Phoenix, and happy to support by bringing awareness and friends. Me and my friend Michelle made a visit recently to try one of their specialty drinks from their nitro cold brew. 


On the concrete bar were portraits of the Burundi, Africa individuals who farmed the beans that Provision Coffee sources. On the back was the story of each farmer, bringing a more personal approach to the coffee we were drinking. The gorgeous portraits were from


Me and Michelle loved spending our day off at Provision Coffee and recommend it to anyone wanting a good Phoenix coffee impression!

Phoenix AZ – Peixoto Coffee Roasters

(Featuring some shots in black and white that I loved by Perry Czopp of

Just outside Phoenix in Downtown Chandler is a new crop to cup coffee shop Peixoto Coffee Roasters. Since I live in Chandler, I was just excited to have a specialty coffee shop in my area, but while talking to Perry about it, he explained the novelty concept of crop to cup even on a national level, which I’ll share further down. 


When Perry told me he hadn’t been to Peixoto yet, we made a day to meet so I could introduce him to the new spot. Perry is a passionate part of the Phoenix coffee community, so I was glad to enjoy this new addition to our community with him. 



Perry tries coffee shops my favorite way: he engages with the barista to hear their offerings, then orders just about one of everything. I think it’s the best way to coffee shop haha.

I recommend the cold brew (and now they also offer nitro cold brew) and their Arnold Palmer of cascara tea and lemongrass lemonade. 

I also recommend the pão de queijo, a Brazilian cheese bread, and sensory memory of the time I lived In Brazil for eight months. 

After ordering, we met the husband and wife owner of Peixoto. They explained their crop to cup idea that had been a long time coming as Julia’s father owns a coffee farm in Brazil, and they had always had a desire to roast his beans locally and open a coffee shop in their home town of Chandler, AZ. I’ve learned that it’s a rare concept for a coffe shop owner producing the cup of coffee to also be in direct relation with the crop that they source their beans from. 


It’s exciting to see this shop gain so much local support in the East Valley of Phoenix where specialty coffee is rare, and to see so many in the local community come out to welcome them to the community. 

Portland OREGON

On a recent trip to Portland, I only had a couple days. I think it’s a doable venture even when short on time. My recommendation being to take a piece of the city that has a lot that it offers locally, like Downtown Portland or 23rd Ave. Both are popular walkable spots that give a good quick taste of the city. This post will focus a lot on the food and coffee culture of Portland since my time was limited and my focus was on coffee crawling the best spots.


My first spot was completely unplanned. After waking up early and spending hours in travel without coffee, I stumbled upon Case Study Coffee outside the garage I parked in downtown. It was delicious and I found out later it’s a popular shop in Portland.


I asked the barista his recommendation for brunch and he said Tasty n Alder. It was downtown also so I walked there after coffee. On the way there were a lot of cute boutiques to browse in and out of. Tasty n Alder was a great local spot: I loved the atmosphere and the food was served tapas style. I got the baked eggs in a tomato sauce with peas and asparagus. It was reasonable at $11 for a small plate, but it could be pricey if you went for more of a tapas style brunch.


Across the street was what I had most anticipated in my visit to Portland: heart coffee. It had begun to drizzle so I spent the next hour inside sitting at the window people watching and sipping on my cappuccino. 



Another spot within walking distance that I was recommended to by a friend was Blue Star Donuts. I headed there. Their old fashion lemon poppy seed  donut was perfect.



I then met up with some friends – Perry, Nella, and Jeff from the Phoenix coffee community – to continue this Portland coffee crawl. Perry had heard of a brand new coffee shop for us to try: Good Coffee. 


I was hoping with Perry’s expertise on coffee and understanding of their offerings that he would order our coffees, so I was glad when he ordered all these coffees for us.



It took us awhile to figure out our next stop, but Perry didn’t disappoint: Stumptown at the Ace Hotel. I had completely forgotten about this downtown spot popular not just for coffee but it’s photogenic space. I loved how the day was spontaneous but unfolded in the best way possible. 



As I mentioned before, once you are downtown, you are close to all the local popular spots. While parking we noticed a Sizzle Pie, so after Stumptown we headed there for dinner. We got a large pizza split with two types and both were great.




On my second day in Portland, we went to Jam on Hawthorne. Their space is very eclectic and we all really enjoyed what we ordered, though we weren’t crazy about the drinks. Pictured below is the Florentine Eggs Benedict.


Next we went to 23rd Ave for Salt and Straw. We were there on a weekend, so the line was out the door. I’d recommend trying to go during the week, but the wait wasn’t too long: we probably waited 30 minutes.

Across the street from Salt and Straw was a popular Portland coffee shop Barista. Probably my favorite coffee from all those we went to.

There was another Blue Star Donuts spot and a lot of boutiques. Overall 23rd Ave is a great place to walk around and get a good feel for the Portland culture. 


Phoenix AZ – Camelback Flowershop & Perry’s Popup Coffee Cart

I was recently invited by my friend Perry to visit his pop up coffee cart at Camelback Flowershop. 

Perry is well known in the local Phoenix coffee community for his coffee knowledge and push to develop our coffee community, so I definitely didn’t want to miss a chance to support his initiative and the chance to have coffee made by someone so passionate about coffee. 

I invited Madeleine along for coffee hangs as she knew Perry as well. The coffee and photography community in Phoenix is all connected, so it’s easy to have mutual friends interested in supporting our local art and community.

This was also our first time at Camelback Flowshop’s new space. They are now located on Indian School between 40th and 42nd. Their new space is gorgeous surrounded by windows that let in a lot of natural light. Me and Madeleine were obssessed with this shop. Here’s some shots to show why:

Perry was enthusiastic to make us multiple delicious coffee drinks, of which we were enthusiastic to drink. 

He also had a special for the day: a vanilla coffee shooter. 

It’s so fun to live in such a creative community where people are passionate about their art. Perry is definitely passionate about building the coffee community in Phoenix and it’s fun to support his coffee initiations. He is currently this week at Camelback Flowershop about 10AM – 2PM so check out his coffee cart while you can. Follow his Instagram for local Phoenix coffee events @thecoffeechop .

Jerome AZ

I’ve been meaning to visit Jerome for a few years. Finally did it this last weekend with Merrissa. 

It’s only a couple hours north of Phoenix, so we came upon it about 10 am. My first impression as we drove through the upward winding road was how cute this old ghost town was with all its old buildings set on the hills. We parked and made our first spot Flat Iron.

This spot came recommended by my friend for their brunch and coffee. We walked in the door to the tiniest room that served as kitchen and restaurant. It was the cutest. Their kitchen does not have a stove top or open flame: everything is cooked in a toaster oven, conventional oven or panini grille, and the eggs are scrambled by espresso machine steam wand. 

We both ordered iced vanilla lattes, that we loved, and brunch. I got the breakfast tacos: corn tortillas stuffed with scrambled eggs, cheese, red peppers and onions, and salsa. The green chile salsa was absolutely the best! Merrissa got the breakfast burrito that had scrambled eggs, pepper jack cheese, turkey sausage and green chiles in a toasted homemade tortilla.

Afterward we explored the town: hiking by the creek, antiquing, swinging in the park, and photographing all the historic architecture. It’s a cute town to explore and all the brick and metal walls make it a must for any photographer.