Cocola | Santana Row – San Jose, CA [Best Coffee Spot in San Jose]

IMG_4649

Cocola is my favorite coffee shop and bakery to go to in the South Bay! On the weekdays, I love coming here because it is quiet enough to study from. In the evenings and weekends, I love coming here to people watch and for the lively vibe. I am currently typing this review as I sit inside Cocola at their beautiful marble tables.

There are so many drinks that I recommend from Cocola. On a hot day, my go to is the iced Chai. It is not overly spiced but not underdone. They do a wonderful job with the chai. On a cold day, I recommend anything from a chai latte to a hot tea. Since the coffee shop is open so late, I recommend drinking their decaf teas in the evening so you are not up all night.

My favorite thing to eat from Cocola is Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil sandwich. The sandwich is served on a crispy but soft little baguette and is drizzled with vinegar. The side salad along with the sandwich is enough to fill you up for lunch.

For dessert, you can honestly eat anything here and be happy. The macarons are delicious, the tarts are mind numbing, and the cakes are fluffy. Your sweet tooth will be satisfied when you get dessert here.

Cocola can get extremely busy at times which can irritate a person like me. Finding the right time to go is key to your experience. There have been so many stressful school nights that I have gotten a decaf tea and walked around a deserted Santana Row to clear my mind. This place has been my savior during my 1L year at law school. So many of my friends and classmates rave about Cocola. I have never heard a bad thing about the coffee shop and bakery other than “I wish I was capable of eating all of these desserts and not getting fat”.

Cocola is bae.

Smitten | Santana Row – San Jose, CA [Cute Ice Cream Spot in San Jose]

IMG_5260

This cute ice cream shop is tucked behind the main row of shops at Santana Row and in its own little courtyard. The reason why I love this ice cream spot so much comes down to location, uniqueness, and flavor.

The location is perfect since its located in Santana Row. Not only is there ample parking, but the vibe is perfect for girls night, family outings, and dates. The ice cream shop is located outside so it forces you to enjoy the summer weather after you have been cooped up al day.

Smitten isn’t a normal ice cream shop. It is unique because the cold treats are made with liquid nitrogen. A technique that is not traditional and quite new. The glass panes around the shop give a chance for people to watch as the ice cream is made using this new technique. Not only does it look like a science experiment but you can taste the quality in the ice cream.

The flavors at Smitten are wonderful, my favorite being Earl Grey. Unlike many traditional ice cream shops, Smitten offers 3-4 ice cream flavors and a limited amount of toppings. For some this can be restrictive however, for someone who has trouble deciding what they want, this is perfect. My most recent trip to Smitten involved Early Grey ice-cream in a waffle cone with caramel sauce drizzled on top (pictured).

I would recommend Smitten to anyone who is craving a sweet treat but doesn’t want to go the normal route of choosing between 24923 flavors of ice cream and toppings from a shop in a run down strip mall. As a person who loves ice cream, I would recommend Smitten on a summer day and on a cold winter evening (yes, I love ice cream that much).

How to Plan a Tea Party

I love a good tea party! Having a strong connection to the U.K. has made me appreciate the fun of a tea party with my friends. This year I opted out of a typical birthday dinner and planned a tea party for my closest friends. While planning and preparing a tea party seems like a lot of work, it’s actually quite easy.

  1. Set a date and time (I recommend 2-3pm after everyone has lunch)
  2. Plan the menu
    1. Sweets
      1. Chateau Blanc Authentic French Macarons (42 ct.) from Sam’s Club
        1. Costco has them too! They are frozen so you can pick them up ahead of time. Macarons are expensive but these were so reasonable! 42 macarons can easily cost $100 on average. I paid about $20 for the pack and they were delicious.
      2. Mini Cheese Cakes from Trader Joes
        1. TJ’s has a great variety of frozen sweets to choose for the tea party. I picked up mini cheesecake squares the week before and stored them in the freezer.
      3. Cake
        1. I usually keep most foods at a tea party in “fun” sizes except for one, the cake. For my birthday tea party, I had a homemade funfetti cake with strawberry filling and homemade icing. Not only was it beautiful to look at, it was delicious too! (Shout out to Mom for helping me with the icing and sprinkles)
    2. Savory
      1.  Sandwiches
        1. Cheese with Cucumber on Wheat Bread
        2. Cream Cheese with Cucumber on White Bread
          1. I always cut the skin off the cucumbers and dab the slices with paper towel so the sandwiches aren’t soggy. I prepare them about an hour before the tea party so they are fresh! Cut into triangle halves or quarters.
          2. You can always make jam sandwiches or lox sandwiches. Any variation can work as long as they are simple, delicious, and bite size.
      2. Mini Chana Samosas
        1. Where East meets West… I love these samosas. They are so delicious and I can probably eat a whole packet in one sitting. You can find them at any Indian grocery store in the frozen section. Making fresh samosas is time-consuming so these are always a great alternative. Fry them right before you guests arrive so they are hot!
      3. Deviled Eggs
        1. Again easy to make in the morning before your tea party and its hard to go wrong with them!
    3. Tea
      1. Can’t mess this up… Boil water to put in your tea-pot and use black tea bags (I like Typhoo or Tetley brands). Keep milk and sugar separate.
    4. Apple Cider/Lemonade
      1. A good host provides a little bit of everything! For those who didn’t want to drink tea or were done with tea, I provided apple cider in cute champagne glasses.
  3. Presentation
    1. Tea Set
      1. If you don’t have a tea set, you can find inexpensive ones at the thrift store or department store. I used my Mom’s wedding set for my birthday. It had matching tea cups, saucers, plates, teapot, sugar bowl, creamer, and napkin rings. Theres a recent trend of having mismatched tea sets which is absolutely adorable if you can pull it off! I kept to the traditional matching set.
    2. Cake Stands/Trays
      1. As you can see from the pictures above I had a variety of cake stands and trays to present the food on. Having different shapes and heights adds dimension to the table. For small cakes and bites, I put them in cupcake liners for presentation and easy handling.
  4. Decor
    1. Table Runner or Table Cloth
      1. I used a gold table runner for my tea party ,as you can see above, but a tablecloth will do too! It’s amazing how a simple piece of cloth can really bring a table together
    2. Vases/Flowers
      1. In the pictures above, there are two different flower arrangements and uses. In one tea party, I use a summer arrangement with fresh lavender in a large vase and smaller vases. In the other tea party, I have roses and palm fronds in the vases and use fresh rose petals as decoration for the food.
    3. Candles
      1. As you can see, I used candles in one of the tea parties to match the roses. The look we had for that party was more romantic. They are optional but definitely can change the vibe of a tea party.

I hope my tips and suggestions for an easy tea party are helpful! I had so much fun at my tea party and didn’t have any stress beforehand due to the planning and use of ready-made and easy foods.

Enjoy!

xoxo, Kaval