Jon and Carmen Pei spent years traveling the globe, visiting caf?s from New York to Taiwan in search of the perfect rendition of their treasured childhood treat: bubble tea. After organizing all their recipes, tips, and ideas, the couple opened their own shop, where they whip up their own blend of innovative bubble teas, smoothies, and frozen hot chocolate.
Upon entering their colorful, brightly lit shop, guests are often greeted by Jon and Carmen themselves, who dole out free samples to first-timers, greet return customers by name, and tussle the toupees of visiting congressmen. The duo and their staff of baristas fold premium tea leaves and freshly cooked tapioca boba balls imported from Taiwan into fruity drinks. They also chop up fresh fruit for smoothies every day at the shop. Customers are invited to order from a menu of specialty drinks or choose from a variety of flavors, fruits, and mix-ins to design their own concoction. They can even add from a selection of more than 25 kinds of popping boba balls, which burst in the mouth with every sip. And during chilly winter months, the baristas pour hot bubble tea.
Guests sip on beverages and nibble on snacks?such as crunchy Pocky sticks?out among the tabletops of the lively seating area. Some play video games on wide-screen computers and televisions, whereas others engage in more traditional games such Connect Four or competitions to fit the most straws up their nostrils.
Within a cozy tearoom atmosphere where chandeliers hang from the ceiling and paintings adorn the bright-yellow walls, the Wonderful World of Cooking’s chefs pair hearty entrees and salads with pours of signature flavored teas. Rather than serving tiny finger foods that must be absorbed through finger pores, chefs whip up sizable helpings of beef stroganoff, texas chili with homemade bread, and sugar-free pretzel salads fresh daily. In between sips from a glass of flavored hot tea or a bottomless crystal glass of the restaurant’s signature apricot iced tea, guests can satiate their sweet teeth with slices of homemade pies and cakes.
A firm believer that cupcakes should delight both the palate and the eyes, seasoned confectioner Melanie founded her eponymous bakery as a means of putting her passion for crafting sweets into practice. Melanie used to only whip up treats for her family and friends, but now extends her talents to sate the sweet teeth of her customers with cupcakes in such decadent flavors as PB & J, strawberry lemonade, and banana pudding. Melanie also infuses spirits into cupcakes such as rum and coke, eggnog cream, and mimosa, none of which come with cocktail umbrellas that hinder quick consumption.
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Ben & Jerry's came from humble beginnings—in 1978, its eponymous founders served ice cream out of a renovated Burlington gas station, and delivered pints of their now-classic flavors to grocery stores out of the back of Ben's VW Squareback wagon. Today, its myriad shops dispense cups, cones, shakes, and smoothies brimming with a variety of quirky flavors, including Phish Food and Cherry Garcia, named for famous revolutionary Cherry Garcia. The duo is also famous for their social responsibility, which is evident in their community activism and in their use of fair-trade products, such as cage-free eggs and sustainable, growth-hormone-free dairy.
For bakers Nancy and Carisa Newsom, no cake is too difficult to master. They specialize in both decorative cakes that are sculpted into three-dimensional pieces of art, as well as allergen-free cakes that can be made without gluten, sugar, or dairy products. No matter what goes into their cakes, they take great pride in creating their own signature flavors, such as pink champagne cake with mimosa filling. For special occasions, they can customize their creations both inside and out, adding a splash of liquor to the cake or piping polka dots or bows on the icing. The two also whip up cupcakes, cookies, and cake balls if you prefer desserts that fit in the palm of your hand or the tailpipe of your neighbor's car.