Tag Archives: vacation

Chocolate Monday: Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Happy Birthday Truffle bar

3 Cs birthday cake bar with confettiI am not generally someone who loves shopping. I know that according to pretty much every movie, TV show or book ever written, that as a woman, I am supposed to simply adore shopping. I am supposed to reach near orgasmic heights at the prospect of finding some amazing discount on designer shoes or purses or some such nonsense. Although I can name some designers, aside from the famous Burberry pattern, I’m not sure I could actually identify anything by a designer. Oh wait, does Vera Bradley count? I can pretty much always recognize her stuff. Not because I like it (I am not a fan), but because just about every teacher in the world has some sort of Vera Bradley bag. I have four different friends with Vera Bradley lunchboxes.

But as usual, I digress.

About the only time I actually enjoy shopping is if I am with my best friend. And then, it isn’t for the shopping, but for the company. I love being out and about with my BFF. As long as we are not in Anthropologie, she actually makes trying on clothes kind of fun. A part of each trip to visit her in Athens, Georgia means finding one of her college students to babysit my kiddos so that the two of us can have a few hours to have a semi-fancy lunch and hit downtown to look at the fun shops.

At one of our stops this year, we found a store that carries pretty much everything girly. There were clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry, cards, soaps, lotions…if it seems like it should be in a boutique for women, they have some version of it. I’ve been in this store a lot, so I wasn’t really surprised at the majority of the inventory. However, when I saw a whole display of Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate bars and truffles, I knew I would be making a purchase this year.

3 Cs birthday cake packageMy BFF decided to buy the box of truffles. Each night as we watched something fun on TV, she’d take out two truffles, cut them in half and we’d savor them. I don’t actually remember any of the flavors of them, but I do remember enjoying them. My contribution to our nightly chocolate fest was two of their chocolate bars. I grabbed the Sea Salt Caramel bar (not sure how I’d miss this one so far) and the Happy Birthday truffle bar.

The Happy Birthday bar is really pretty cute. I think the little pieces of candy confetti on the back are a nice touch. While it may not be quite the same as eating the delicious looking cupcake on the front of the package, I love that they did their best to replicate the experience by adding the confetti. Visually I love it. However, I am not a big fan of sprinkles or candy dots like this on actual cake. I don’t like the crunch they give desserts and I don’t like the strange, nondescript sugar taste they add to an otherwise delicious treat. These candy dots are no exception. They detract a bit from my enjoyment because they add a sort of useless extra crunch to the bar.

3 Cs birthday close upThe milk chocolate is smooth and creamy and I think the best part of this bar is the bites of simple solid chocolate. The filling claims to be a buttercream frosting truffle. I’m not quite sure what a buttercream truffle would be as I’ve never had another company claim to make one. The center of the bar definitely reminds me of cake frosting, but once again, not in the way I’d hope for. It is almost too sweet. It reminds me a bit of the poorly made, almost cloyingly sweet frosting that comes on cheap grocery store cakes. My kids loved it, but then again, they both love sprinkles on cupcakes and love those cheap grocery store cupcakes some parent always brings in for classroom celebration days. I find myself scraping the frosting off and then being sad that the cake is too dry.

I had high hopes for this bar as birthday cake is one of my favorite foods in the world. Sadly, this was not a happy celebration.

Overall:

Taste: 4/10
Appearance: 8/10
Value: 3/10 (since I didn’t like it, it definitely made the $5 bar of chocolate seem way over priced).

 

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Chocolate Monday: Viva! Argentine Cuisine cupcakes

Viva cupcakesSpring break is finally here and just in time. If I had to sit through one more class or grade one more final, I might have lost my mind!

Ok, who am I kidding, I’m a teacher…I lost my mind a long time ago! Plus, I actually have tons of grading (and planning) to do over break, but I’m sort of in denial mode for the moment.

The biggest reason I am denying all the work I need to do is because break also means a trip to Athens, Georgia to visit my best friend. And, for the first time since she moved to Athens to become a professor at UGA, we have the same spring break!

Don’t misunderstand, I am thrilled with any trip to see my darling BFF, but usually when my kids and I go to visit her, she still has to do quite a bit of teaching, grading and planning for her own courses, which means several hours every day that she is off on campus and I am trying to entertain my kids. And, last year it rained half the time we were there!

But this year since we all have break together, we get to spend nearly every waking moment together (she did have to to in to campus for about two hours today) and the weather so far has been a bit chilly, but the forecast looks bright, sunny and nearly 75 degrees a few days. Considering it snowed in Indiana today, I’ll take having to wear a fleece because it’s a bit windy!

One of my favorite things about visiting Athens (aside from the endless hours of catching up, shopping and movies with my best friend) is the food. Athens has some really amazing places to eat. I live in a city about seven times the size of Athens, but I’m not sure we have anywhere near the number of delicious eateries around town.

Our first stop this trip was Viva! Argentine Cuisine. I ADORE Viva! My best friend and her husband took my kids and I there on our very first trip into town and we all agree it is an absolute necessity of every trip. I’m not sure what my kids love more, the super tasty empanadas or the cupcakes. Who am I kidding? Of course it is the cupcakes!

Every day, Viva! offers a variety of moist, delicious cupcakes. I’ve never been there when there are less than a dozen flavors. I’ve tried eight or nine different flavors and I’ve yet to be disappointed in any of them. One of my absolute favorites is their version of dulce de leche (it has another name I can’t remember…its nickname is Alfie). It is simply melt in your mouth good. As much as I love it, this time they had several Girl Scout cookie inspired cupcakes I’d never seen before, and I had to try those instead.

They actually had three Girl Scout cookie inspired cupcakes: Savannah Smiles, Tagalongs and Samoa. Since Samoas are my absolute favorite Girl Scout cookie ever, that was the first one I ordered. Although I love the taste of lemon, I am not a huge fan of the Savannah Smiles. They are just not lemony enough. And while I was sure Viva! would have an amazing lemon cupcake (I’ve had their blueberry lemon one before and it is awesome), chocolate and peanut butter is a hard combination to beat, so I had to pick the Tagalong cupcake.

I know picking two cupcakes seems more than a little decadent, but one thing I love about Viva! is that they have mini versions of most of their cupcakes, so I was able to get both a Samoa and a Tagalong with very little guilt and no nausea from over eating!

Since I’m a save the best for last kinda gal, I started with the Tagalong cupcake. It was a great chocolate cupcake filled with a bit of peanut butter and about a third of a Tagalong cookie on the top. The cake was rich and delicious. It was perfectly moist, which can be a real issue with mini cupcakes. Often they are a bit overcooked and dry, but Viva! always has perfectly baked cupcakes. The only odd bit about this cupcake is that the bit of actual Tagalong on top was not even remotely crisp. It was the first time I’ve ever had a Tagalong that didn’t sort of “snap” when bitten into. It was a decidedly flimsy cookie bit. Still, it wasn’t enough to dampen my spirits or make me not like the dessert. It was still super yummy, if a bit of an odd texture.

My Samoa cupcake was even better. Once again, it was an awesome chocolate cupcake with a little dot of caramel filling. The caramely coconut frosting on top was superb. And, the Samoa piece on top was the right consistency, which definitely made it even better. It was precisely what I’d expect the cake form of a Samoa to be. My son liked it so much he ordered two of them!

Overall:

Appearance: 9/10
Taste: 9/10
Value: 7/10 (at $2 a pop, mini cupcakes are a bit pricey, especially since regular sized ones are only $3 each).

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Teaching Tuesday: Spring break countdown

The countdown to Spring break is here. Three more days and counting. And yes, I am counting, just as desperately as my students. Maybe even more so.

Of course, this countdown means the end of our third grading period and since we are on block 4, it means final. Yes, that’s right, since by this time my classes have finished the equivalent of one semester’s worth of course time, on Thursday and Friday, they will be taking finals. While this means a fresh start for everyone after our two week break (we are also on a balanced calendar), it means I will be spending at least part of my break grading.

Luckily grades are not due until the Tuesday we return from break, but since I will have final tests and essays to grade (plus a handful of assignments I have not yet gotten around to grading in the last two weeks), my break will still be full of student work.

Since I’ll be spending half of my break with my best friend in Georgia and the other half bumming around town with my kids, it does make it a little easier to deal with all the grading I have to do. I won’t lie and say it makes it enjoyable, but it does make it more manageable.

Still, 3:30 Friday afternoon cannot get here fast enough!

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Chocolate Monday: Condor Chocolates

Condor chocolates full boxOn my most recent trip to Athens, Georgia, my best friend and I stopped by Condor Chocolates. While we were there, not only did I get a very delicious dark chocolate brownie, but also a box of their 8 filled chocolates.

Condor is a cute, family owned chocolate shop founded by two brothers whose mother came from Ecuador, which is also where they get all their chocolate from.

Although I am not a big fan of dark chocolate, I always like to support local chocolate shops and every now and then I find a dark chocolate I really love, so I figured I had to give this chocolate collection a shot.

When I opened the box I thought the chocolates were all simply, but elegantly decorated. I had a moment of worry though–I wasn’t sure how I was going to tell the chocolates apart. It’s not like I could eat all 8 at once. Ok, that’s a lie, I could do it, but as it would make me sick, I knew I shouldn’t. So, when I opened the box a day later, the only one I was sure about was the raspberry chocolate. The little red dots on top, which look like individual raspberry seeds, was a dead give away.

Luckily I noticed the position of the raspberry in the box, right between a circular chocolate and one with what appeared to be a coffee bean on top. On the list of chocolates included in the box, there are 8 chocolates and the second row has a mayan, mocha, raspberry and spiced apple. The genius people at the chocolate shop put them in the box in the same order they are listed on the insert. I’m so glad I figured it out and that they have this clever system, otherwise I would have been lost.

Usually I’m a save the best for last kind of girl, but since I didn’t want to risk jumbling the chocolates and not knowing what I’d be tasting, I decided to eat them in order.

Condor bourbonMy first chocolate was the bourbon chocolate. Surrounded in dark chocolate, it definitely has a bitterness to it. However underneath that bitter dark is the distinct taste of slightly smokey, slightly sweet bourbon. It reminds me quite a bit of the center of my homemade bourbon balls. I’m not much of a bourbon girl, but I like bourbon balls. Especially because they always leave my mouth just a little tingly. So did this truffle. I felt like I’d just had a shot, only without the actual alcohol buzz.

Next up was the caramel truffle, which probably would’ve been my second to last treat if I was doing this in my usual order. But, as I was sticking to my chart, it became my second. I liked the little geodesic dome structure to it. It was sleek and fun. The dark chocolate on this piece is much more subtle, partially tempered by the very sweet caramel. It was not the usual buttery caramel I’m used to. It is definitely a liquid caramel, which is what I always prefer, but it was a mix of sweet with just a slightly savory hint. Salt-like, but not salty. I’m not sure quite how to describe it. I’m also not sure I really liked the actual caramel, which is a rarity for me. It was such a small piece, that it was hard to call it.

The dark chocolate was next for me and my first bite was definitely more than enough. It didn’t help that it had bits of dark chocolate nibs on the top and they scraped the roof of my mouth. For someone who loves dark chocolate, this is probably a dream piece, but I just couldn’t finish it.

Condor earl grayThe Earl Grey piece was a bit more my speed. I thought it was very pretty to look at. I love the bits of tea on top of it, especially the tiny purple beads. It didn’t have an overwhelming tea taste, but it did have tiny bits of tea leaves in it, which gave it texture. It reminded me of the few times I’ve eaten tea leaves by not straining properly. It did have a bit of a creamy taste to it, which reminded me a bit of putting milk in Earl Grey tea. Not my favorite, but I could definitely finish it.

 

 

Since I’ve had a few different chili chocolates, I figured the Mayan chocolate was going to have a spicy kick to it. This piece did not have a painful dose of spice–and I have had some that really have. One brand of chili chocolate I had was so spicy it made my eyes start to water. This one was more subtle. The center itself has a slight sweetness to it. The spicy doesn’t really hit until a few seconds after the bit is swallowed. There is a sort of lingering heat at the back of my throat and my tongue and cheeks have a slight tingle to them. Despite being a fairly dark piece, this is my favorite of the first five.

I was not at all excited about the espresso chocolate. I am not a coffee gal and anytime there is a coffee or mocha or espresso flavored chocolate, it’s usually the first chocolate I eat (if I don’t give it away), so that I can get it out of the way and move on to better, tastier chocolates. I do like the design on this one. It has some cute white “pearls” and a little coffee bean on top. Just from an aesthetic perspective, I find this one very appealing. If you are a coffee fan, this one is definitely for you. Surprisingly, I didn’t hate it. It definitely had not only the taste of coffee, but also a slight hint of crunchy coffee beans–even before I bit into the actual bean. It was actually creamy and fairly tasty…and not just for a coffee chocolate.

Condor raspberryThe raspberry chocolate was the next on my list. This was the one I was most excited about. I LOVE raspberries. In fact, my love for them is so deep that they actually helped me ease into dark chocolate. I attribute my biggest leaps in my tolerance of dark chocolate to Godiva’s raspberry cordials. This meant I had pretty high hopes for Condor’s raspberry chocolate. And those expectations were fairly well met. Although it didn’t have the liquidy raspberry center I love in a cordial, the center was VERY tart, which is my only real desire in a raspberry dark chocolate pairing. Unlike the rest of the the chocolates, this one has an added layer of what looks a bit like raspberry jam, which gives it that lovely, fruity, tarty sweetness. The bitterness of the dark chocolate is completely eclipsed by that super yummy raspberry. I love the little tiny bits of raspberry seeds in it too. While not quite as amazing as Godiva’s raspberry cordial, it is a close, close second. I actually saved the last bit of this truffle so it could officially be my last taste of Condor chocolate.

My final piece was the spiced apple. This one had a thinner layer of dark chocolate surrounding it, but had a surprising amount of bitterness to it. It also had quite a spicy bite. It reminded me a bit of eating Penzy’s pie spice right out of the jar. It was very heavy on the nutmeg and a bit too light on the apple for me. It wasn’t bad, but did not fulfill my hopes. It made me very glad I reserved that last bite of raspberry.

I enjoyed about half the pieces in this collection and truly loved one. When I go back to Condor on my next visit, and I will definitely go back, I’ll be a bit pickier about my selections. I’ll probably fill my box halfway full of raspberries. I may also have to try the gelato.

Overall:

Taste: 6/10
Appearance: 8/10
Value: 7/10

 

 

 

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Throwback Thursday: Vacationing with kids

Athens playgroundFrom the moment my best friend delivered the devastating news that she’d gotten her dream job–10 hours away from me–I started planning my first visit to see her. It just so happened that her move at the end of July coincided with my school’s very first year on the balanced calendar. In between trips to our favorite coffee shop and last minute movie watching, she was packing up boxes to move three states away and I was putting the finishing touches on my lesson plans.

Although juggling the heartache of her leaving with the extreme stress that comes with the start of each new school year was really weighing me down, I just kept reminding myself that in a little over two months I’d be taking my first trip to see her. I attempted to delude myself into believing that I’d be so caught up in the new semester that it would be easy to forget she was no longer right down the street. Sadly, I’ve never been a great liar…not even to myself.

The time did pass and at the end of the grading period, we loaded the family up and headed to Georgia. Of course, we only stayed with her one night before continuing on to Disney World. After five days that I can only describe as the best family vacation we’ve ever been on, we turned around and headed back to see my best friend.

This time my husband only spent one night before he had to head back home to work, leaving me and the kids behind to spend an amazing week with my best friend and her husband. Although we had no car of our own, it really wasn’t a problem. When my best friend had to teach we either hung around her house doing crafts and taking walks or we went to campus with her and played in the fun park-like area near her building or she lent us her car and we went to local parks. Then, when she was off, she introduced us to a plethora of really fun places for the kids to play while we got to talk.

Since this initial trip, we’ve found some favorite places in Athens that we go back to every single visit.

park bulldogOne of the best parts about visiting Georgia in October is that the weather is usually pretty nice. Unlike Indiana, where the temperatures sometimes sink down into the 40’s, in Georgia the weather rarely dips below 75, which means plenty of outdoor time with the kids. And since my kids LOVE to be outdoors, if it’s not raining, we plan outdoor activities.

This year we got to check out the new World of Wonder park, which is actually part of Southeast Clarke Park. We’d actually visited the park on one of our previous trips and while the playground was pretty cool and the kids had a blast, it was not nearly as epic as the updates are. The playground was actually moved to the other side of the park and now has two separate park areas, one for kids under 5 and one for bigger kids. The bigger kid playground features 10 different slides, a really cool webbed climbing merry-go-round thingamabob, a three-story tree house looking structure for kids to climb, wobbly bridges, tons of swings, lots of room for families to sit and even these really cool porch swings (of sorts) that are in shaded areas. The picture at the top of this blog is from the WOW park. My kids had a blast on it. My son particularly liked the “mushrooms” which were these stepping areas that reminded him of the mushrooms in Mario Bros. He loved the way they sprung beneath his feet as he jumped from one to the next.

My BFF and I loved that we could sit on a lovely shaded bench and talk while my kids ran amuck on the playground. Since we could see just about every area of the playground from our seats, we never lost eye contact with the kids for more than a few seconds. And, since the playground is surrounded mostly be a wide open grassy area (and is completely fenced in), it’s not like they could really wander off anywhere.

Bear Hollow signOn our last full day in Athens we also got to visit one of our favorite places: Memorial Park/The Bear Hollow Zoo. My BFF is not normally a fan of zoos. Like many people, she hates the fact that animals are taken from their natural habitats, forced into cramped spaces (at least compared to how they’d live in the wild) and put on display for our amusement. However, she is a huge supporter of The Bear Hollow Zoo. The reason is simple: The Bear Hollow Zoo only has animals that are native to Georgia and only has animals that have been injured and are in need of rehabilitation and protection. All of the animals in the zoo have been injured and cannot survive on their own. They are brought to the zoo by people who rescue them. Some times the animals can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild, but often times their injuries are so severe that they would not be able to survive in the wild, so instead they get to live out their lives at Bear Hollow. The zoo is fairly small with only less than two dozen animals in it, but it’s pretty cool.

The zoo has a few birds, including two owls, an alligator, three bears, an opposum, a tortoise, an otter, a bobcat, an eagle, deer, turkeys and some reptiles. Every time we’ve gone we’ve been able to see all of the animals, which is pretty cool. Since it is part of the public park system, it’s not fancy, but it’s a great way to spend half an hour with kids.

Bears at Bear HollowAs part of her service learning class, my BFF has her students do volunteer work for the zoo, so she always has some great information to share with me and the kids. One year she even got us a “backstage” tour. We got to feed almost all of the animals (we skipped the alligator and the snakes) and even got to go into some of the enclosures. My daughter still goes on and on about how she fed the bears blueberries. Yes, that’s right, my kids actually fed the bears in this picture yogurt covered blueberries. It was initially pretty terrifying for me to watch, as I was sure they’d lose at least a finger if not an entire hand, but they loved doing it.

Once we finished up at Bear Hollow, we walked down a short wooded path to get to Memorial Park. Although much smaller than the WOW park, it has a fun little playground, which is geared more toward younger children. My son, who is 10, still finds ways to have fun on it, but everything is sized a bit more for my daughter, who is 7. In addition to the playground equipment, Memorial Park also has a large man made lake full of ducks, geese and turtles. There are hundreds of turtles in that lake. And, there are little machines with food in them scattered all around the lake, so once we finished on the playground, I handed my kids a few quarters and we killed another 20 minutes walking around the lake and feeding animals. The turtles were not too quick on the uptake. Most of their food was snatched by very quick little fish. My kids thought that was hysterical.

One great thing about the parks in Athens is that they also feature the famous UGA bulldog. My kids LOVE driving around Athens and looking for bulldogs, which are all over the city. At the parks not only do they get to look, but they get to climb on them as well. My kids have memorized where some of their favorite bulldogs are and they make a game of trying to be the first to spot them. Whenever we find a new one, they get very, very excited.

Not only is Athens the home of my best friend, but it’s also a wonderful place to find great food and some great outdoor family fun.

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Teaching Tuesday: Grading over break

When most people who first meet me find out I’m a teacher, they make a few assumptions about what my life must be like. One of the biggest assumptions people make, and probably the one that angers me the most, is that my job is pretty easy thanks to all the vacation time I get. I cannot even count the number of people who have dismissed my job as far easier than theirs simply because of all my “vacation time.” Heck, even some of my best friends used to make comments about it.

What most people don’t understand about teaching is that while we may technically get more days when we don’t have to go in to work, it is very much balanced out by all the hours we put in for our jobs on our own “free time.”

My fall break is a perfect example. While it is true that I just finished up 10 days where I did not have to drive into school and actively teach students, I spent 7 of those 10 days grading, answering student (and parent) questions via email, responding to a plethora of emails from administrators, guidance counselors and other teachers about things that will need to be done in the next grading period and planning materials to teach in the next grading period. While I did not spend a complete 8 hours each day on these activities, I averaged at least 3 hours of my “vacation time” each day on these activities.

I know that probably still seems like a pretty good deal, right? Only working 3 hours each day and from the comfort of my own home (or, as it turns out from my best friend’s house while on vacation with my kids) doesn’t seem like anything to complain about, right? Of course those 21 hours of work are in addition to the time I spent over the weekends also grading, answering emails and planning. Once again, I averaged about 3 hours on those weekend days as well. Since weekends should be completely my own, that’s an additional 18 hours that should, in fact, have belonged completely to me.

Now, I know what a lot of people will probably argue: I should have gotten all that grading done during the first grading period. I mean, that sounds completely logical, right? Except of course, that I was already putting in 50+ hour work weeks during those 10 weeks, so in order to get all the work I did over break done during the actual grading period, that would have meant working closer to 55-60 hours per week. Keep in mind, that those extra hours come with no additional pay.

And even if this sounds completely reasonable, it’s actually an impossibility. At the end of each grading period, we have to give final exams. Our last final goes until the end of the school day, so there is actually no way to end the grading period without taking work home. Even if I’d gotten everything else graded by putting in those 60 hour work weeks, I would still have finals to grade. And since I teach English, finals mean essay questions and 110 of those take a LOT of time to grade.

And of course, even if somehow I’d managed to get all of the grading done, I’d still have to respond to emails from students, parents, administrators and coworkers. And I’d still have to make sure my lessons were prepared for the next grading period. While I always have long-term goals established before the start of every year (for the entire year) and I even have pacing guides for every unit, the day to day details have to be worked out and those change depending on the ability levels of my students, the slight fluctuations in days per grading period, changes made due to school-wide testing, convocations, weather related incidents, holidays, sick days, etc. Planning and re-planning is a constant throughout the year.

So, just in case you happen to be one of those people who think teachers have it easy because we get a ton of “vacation time,” please take a few minutes and actually ask any teachers you might meet how much of their own time they devote to their jobs. Ask them how much of that extra “vacation time,” they get is actually dedicated to their students. Just because we may get to do that work in our jammies at midnight doesn’t mean we’re not working.

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Chocolate Monday: Sweetie Pie

SP cookies

Cookies featured in photo: (top row): chocolate malt, peanut butter shallot, maple pecan
(middle row): oatmeal raisin and sweet and savory
(bottom row): pumpkin, chocolate chip and ginger turmeric

One of the best parts about visiting my best friend in Athens, Georgia is that it is a town full of amazing food. And I do love food.

Since I visit her for at least two weeks out of every year, I’ve had a chance to discover some favorite places that are must eats every trip. Despite having some tried and true favorites, she always manages to introduce me to some amazing new places.

On my very first trip to Athens four years ago, as I prepared to turn into her neighborhood for the very first time, I noticed that directly across from the entrance was a tiny shack-like building that appeared to be a restaurant. It was a smokehouse called Rooters. Since I love barbecue, I asked my BFF about it, but she said they hadn’t tried it since they didn’t have a single vegetarian option (a rarity in Athens). Her husband later told me that it was decent, but that their hours were so strange that he pretty much gave up trying to eat there.

About two years ago, right as I was preparing for our bi-annual trip to see her, I got an excited text from my BFF telling me that the BBQ joint was no more. In it’s place was an amazing little bakery she could not wait for me to try out.

And try it out I did.

Like its predecessor, Sweetie Pie has some annoying hours. It is closed on Sundays and Mondays and only open from 7:30-3:30 Tues-Sat. I also learned on that first trip if you are not one of the early birds, you completely miss out on one of their absolutely best treats: chocolate croissants. Now, I am a pretty huge fan of the chocolate croissant, no matter who makes it, but I have to say Sweetie Pie takes it to a whole other level. Wow…just wow!

But like I said, you have to get up pretty early in the morning to get them. The owner, Savie, only makes a limited amount and when they are gone, they are gone. Luckily she makes several other flavors of croissants that while not as good in this chocoholic’s opinion, are still completely worth it if you want to sleep in a little.

Much to my severe annoyance, my kids are pretty early risers. My daughter feels that 6 am is the perfect time to wake up, even on vacation. Now that she’s 7, I have made it very clear that unless the clock says 7:00 am, she is not allowed to get out of bed. And, if it doesn’t say at least 8:00, she is not allowed to wake me up. My son does like to sleep in a bit longer, but when he has to share a room with her on vacation, he tends to rise when she rises. The only time I have every been thankful for their insistence on rising before the sun even has the decency to start shining is when I get those chocolate croissants from Sweetie Pie.

Although my heart clearly belongs to those chocolate croissants, on this trip I decided to try something a bit different. This time I took a look at all the different cookies Savie had available in her case. Despite faithfully stopping in at least twice every visit, I’d only ever had croissants, scones, breads or cinnamon rolls before. I’d never actually tried any of her cookies and I thought this was the perfect chance to remedy this.

SP logoWhile Sweetie Pie features typical baked goods you’ll find in a lot of cafes like blueberry scones or pumpkin bread or almond croissants, Savie utilizes a lot of flavor combinations found in Asian desserts. She has taro root muffins, red bean croissants, Thai tea scones and green tea cupcakes. Although I have not tried them all,¬† the Thai tea scones and green tea cupcakes are excellent.

When I gazed at her cookie offerings, I found several rows of cookies both of the the very traditional variety: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, pecan and the more exotic: sweet and salty, ginger turmeric and peanut butter and shallot. Yeah, you read that last one correctly, she offers a peanut butter and shallot cookie. And yes, I tried it.

I decided to order one of each cookie. While I knew there was no way I would be able to eat them all, since there were 5 of us in the house, I knew they wouldn’t go to waste. I also knew that I wouldn’t feel too guilty about trying just a couple of bites from each cookie. At least not over the course of a day or two.

And so later that afternoon, I embarked on an epic cookie tasting adventure. Eight cookies to try and eight cookies to write about.

I’ll start with the more traditional flavors. The chocolate chip cookie, which I worried might be a bit hard as it seemed a little on the thin side, was amazingly soft, buttery and just the perfect amount of chewiness. It was actually fairly light on the chocolate chips, which despite my love of chocolate, is what I prefer. It was very good, but might not be the best choice for someone with a true hankering for chocolate. My best friend, who loves her chocolate chip cookies filled to the brim with chocolate chips, thought it could use more.

The oatmeal raisin was exactly what I expected out of an oatmeal raisin cookie. It was sweet and buttery, with the perfect amount of raisins adding that burst of fruit with each bite. Oatmeal raisin cookies are always a favorite of mine and this one was great. I ended up eating most of this cookie during our epic Settlers of Catan battle the next night.

The pecan cookie, which was pretty big, was soft and chewy and very pecany. If you like nuts, this would be a great cookie for you. I’m actually not a huge fan of nuts in cookies, so while it was good, it would not be one I’d get again.

The pumpkin cookie, which actually had more to its official title which I could not remember once I got back to my BFF’s house (I think there might have been caramel in it too), was delightful. I know pumpkin spice gets a really bad rap, especially in the fall where it is pretty much in everything. Hell, I get annoyed by it myself. I think pumpkin spice Cheerios and Twinkies are pushing the envelope (and not in a good way). And don’t even get me started on the pumpkin spice dog breath freshener chewy things we saw at the pet store. However, as pumpkin pie is also an absolute favorite of mine, this cookie was nearly perfect.

SP choc malt cookieNow, onto some of the more unique flavors. My favorite of the all Sweetie Pie’s cookie offerings were ones I’d never tried in any other bakery before. My absolute favorite was probably the chocolate malt cookie. I’ve never actually¬† had a chocolate malt before. The closest I’ve come is like Whoppers malted milk balls–that’s similar, right? But this cookie was incredible. Once again, I was initially concerned about this one since it was so thin. I was positive it was going to be the type of cookie my BFF complains about Jittery Joe’s having. However, it was amazingly soft and chewy. It was also very, very chocolatey. I loved the light sprinkling of powdered sugar on the top of it (which amazingly did NOT come off all over my hands). It was light and buttery and reminded me a bit of chocolate fudge. However, it didn’t have that cloyingly sweet taste fudge often gets.

My second favorite cookie was the ginger turmeric. This cookie was the epitome of Fall to me. If I had to assign one taste to the season, it would not be pumpkin spice. It would be this cookie. It was chewy and had just the right amount of spicy ginger. It reminded me a bit of a molasses cookie, but it wasn’t as heavy or syrupy. If only the weather in Georgia would have dipped below 85 degrees, eating this cookie would have made me feel like Fall had finally arrived.

The sweet and savory cookie was not as savory as I worried it would be. The little tag with the cookie mentioned teriyaki as part of the flavor combination, so I was worried it would be too salty. However, it was mostly just very oatmealy. It actually reminded me way more of butterscotch than teriyaki. It probably didn’t hurt that it has the same slightly orange tint oatmeal scotchies have. It was a good cookie, but I liked the raisin version better.

Finally, I attempted the most intriguing, and admittedly potentially upsetting cookie: peanut butter and shallot. It definitely smelled like onions. It was an odd combo to say the least. The cookie itself didn’t taste like onions. It had an oniony after taste, but even that was fairly subtle. The peanut butter was also not overly pronounced. It was definitely a sweet cookie with slightly oniony hints. While I would probably never buy it again as it didn’t wow me, it actually wasn’t bad. Neither of my children were brave enough to try it (my daughter hates onions and she knows shallots are really just fancy onions), but my BFF and her husband did and they agreed it was not what they expected.

I am very depressed that my next visit to Athens will not be for another 5 months. Not just because I miss my BFF so terribly, but also because I won’t get any of Sweetie Pie’s amazing baked goods for a long time.

Overall:

Taste: 9/10
Appearance: 9/10
Value: 9/10

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