When recalling how his Yiayia—or grandmother—taught him to make baklava, the eldest brother of the Nicolopoulos family remembers the way she would painstakingly roll out homemade sheets of phyllo dough onto a clean white sheet. Rolling it thinner and thinner, she would drizzle it with melted butter to keep it soft and moist until finally the delicate dough was so thin her grandson could see right through it to read the words "one hundred percent cotton" on the sheet label beneath. "I didn't realize it then," he says, "but Yiayia was teaching me patience, about quality, and about our heritage."
Fifty years later, that same dedication to quality and heritage permeates the Nicolopoulos' pastry shop, which owes its name to the family's patient matriarch. Each of the shop's dulcet Greek desserts is whipped up using all-natural ingredients—including eggs from free-roaming hens that are cage- and antibiotic-free––and generations-old recipes. To craft rectangles of baklava in true Yiayia Maria style, pastry architects scrupulously hand assemble 30 layers of paper-thin organic phyllo dough, keeping careful eyes out for gusts of wind as they spread a butter-and-nut mixture between each tier. Sweet honey soaks through the pastry structure, seeping into each phyllo wall before the family's signature clove is placed on each piece. Honey also plays a starring role in Yiayia's finikia cookies—which feature hints of cinnamon, clove, and orange in the subtly sweet morsels dusted with walnuts—and tart-like pasta flora butter cookies take a dip in the sweet stuff after being filled with apricot, strawberry, or raspberry preserves.
At more than 2,600 stores in more than 30 countries, Dunkin' Donuts serves coffee and iced beverages, fresh-baked donuts and desserts, and savory breakfast sandwiches. Since Bill Rosenberg opened the first location in Quincy, MA, in 1950, the donut shop has blossomed into a one-stop coffee and breakfast restaurant familiar to millions of morning rushers and afternoon sippers.
Behind the counter of each location, glazed french crullers twist and curve like Parisian city streets, and Bavarian Kreme donuts are filled with a sweet, golden custard. A cavalcade of meats is available for piling onto breakfast sandwiches, such as sausage, cherrywood-smoked bacon, or ham enveloped with fluffy eggs and melty cheese between a choice of crisp crusts. Health-conscious risers can fuel strenuous bouts of lifting cars in the drive-thru line with a Wake-Up wrap, which offers options such as egg whites with turkey sausage or veggies that add up to as few as 150 calories. Both sweet and savory selections pair well with a freshly brewed cup of coffee or a creamy, frozen Coolatta drink.
Though commuters can snag a quick pick-me-up within minutes, the wafting aromas of baking confections invite patrons to sit inside and embark on nostalgic reminiscences of syrup-coated playground slides. Beyond the bakery walls, the company aims for social responsibility with its support of community volunteer efforts and use of 100% fair-trade-certified espresso beans.
David Edwards, cofounder and president of New Mexico Tea Company, is a bona fide tea lover, so much so that he once tried to drink 40 cups in one day. He appreciates the drink's soothing fragrance and flavor, but he also praises its health benefits. "Tea acts as a neutralizer for the body, so anything that may be out of whack—sleeping patterns, weight problems, headaches—tea works to balance the body and get you back to normal,” he told Local IQ.
With the help of a small, dedicated team of tea aficionados, Edwards blends some of the bulk loose-leaf teas onsite and imports others directly from growers around the world. Mild rooibos, Chinese puerh, and oolong are a few of its specialties, and each has a distinctive flavor along with high levels of antioxidants.
Servers clad in traditional Vietnamese dresses escort guests to linen-topped tables inside Miss Sai Gon Bar & Grill’s expansive two-story dining room. Behind the scenes, chefs pair stir-fried shrimp with rice cooked in a hot clay pot and tuck beef inside piles of fried rice noodles. Spicy pho broth topped with thin slices of beef is served as sunlight floods in through the floor-to-ceiling windows and potted plants, scattered throughout the space, quietly keep on keeping on. On the second level, a natural-stone wall complements the slate flooring and wood tabletops. For those who are really, really popular, chefs can prepare meals en masse for parties of up to 400 inside the dining room, which also includes a dance floor and professional stage.
Upon entering Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, one can immediately sense the aroma of fudge melting in a traditional copper kettle. At hundreds of locations throughout the United States, sugarsmiths concoct an array of treats from fresh ingredients within eyesight of perusing customers. In addition to dunking strawberries into Guittard chocolate or coating Granny Smith apples in fresh caramel, they carve out 1-pound bricks of made-from-scratch fudge for customers to take home and repair their gingerbread house’s half-eaten foundation.
More than 25 breads, made from fresh, natural wheat flour, fill the racks at House of Bread, ready to be toted home and eaten, or sliced for the bakery's hearty sandwiches. The stone-milled flour combines with honey, which serves as a natural sweetener, and natural ingredients to create mouth-watering loaves of challah, raspberry swirl, gluten-free rice bread, and over 20 others. A rotating schedule of breads, muffins, and scones keeps the menu as fresh as the pastries.