Thursday, December 29, 2011


This month I had the chance to write not one but two articles on Kwanzaa and it was quite a learning experience. I figured out why my dad was so against celebrating, as it was clearly due to the usavory past of the holidays creator.

I also realize that may people I know try to embody the principles everyday, which I think we can and should. For example, cooperative economics, the act of creating and supporting local business should be paramount to our daily lives. As should exercising our creativity and doing our best for the community.

Here's a link to both articles which are different and yet on the same subject. Find your principles and live them everyday for a happy healthier you!

This one comes with a lentil recipe!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Munchies

In September there was not a lot of cooking going on, as I prepared for my current classes. However, here are some of the bites we have recently had....

Phil's has great sliders, but you really don't want to miss the tater tots!

A pastrami & corned beef on kasier roll

the best onion rings ever

this is one fat sandwhich. we couldn't finish them!

Miller's East Coast has the best onion rings I've ever had. I don't say that lightly.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two Degrees: Helping To Get Food to Hungry Children

We are in serious trouble. Not just because the economy is in the tank or because so many people are out of work. We are in serious trouble because there are more hungry children in the world than there should be. To me, that means that there are any.

Last night my buddy Carina tweeted this: "..turn your attention to Somalia. 29,000 kids under 5 have died in last 3 months. Famine will rise without aid"

That is the kind of tweet that gets stuck in your throat. I know what is happening in Africa, wars, famine and their inability to live as nomads as in the past (so they could move on from illness to where there was clean water & seasonal food) has caused decades of strife and had far reaching affects on an entire continent.

But what the hell is our excuse in America? Per the stats on the Share Our Strength site, 15.5 million children live in poverty. In America. Enter the people behind Two Degrees. Children cannot function or thrive when they are hungry. They can't focus or play or live to the level in which children should, if they are hungry.

Two Degrees is working toward change by providing a nutrition pack to a malnourished child for every Two Degrees bar you buy. The company was kind enough to send me three bars to check out, but they also sent a nutrition pack and you know what? That pack had a huge impact. If I buy a bar, some child gets this? Wow.

We are in trouble and it is up to us to do more, to do better, to right by our kids. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes the world to raise millions of them. Children are the future of the world and buy taking one simple step, we can help then along the path to healthy lives. You can buy Two Degrees bars online or at your local Whole Foods. Let's make those numbers no child hungry or malnutritioned. Let's make each child healthy, happy, active and whole!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Silent Saturday: Food, Glorious Food

Brunch at 15 Romolo. Heather and Deb took me for my birthday.

As you can see, it was really good!

Salad topped with onion rings is the way to go.

Roasted goose at the Tasty Awards launch party

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review on the Fly: Tamarindo's Crispy Shrimp Tacos

 Tamarindo has a shiny silver ceiling and a bright, open space leaves you feeling you are hanging out with the family. An air of femininity adds an extra bit of charm to the decor.

Drawn in by the crispy prawn taco on the menu, I got a seat in the sunlit dining room.  It may seem odd that at that exact moment one might be struck with the urge to have a taco, however, these aren't any ordinary tacos. 

Prawns, creamy avocado, chopped lettuce & sprinkling of cheese make for a more elegant eat. This is not a taco to be wolfed down in haste. Washed down with a pineapple aqua fresca on a less than beautiful day served to brighten it.

This would be a perfect spot to lunch or happy hour with friends and I look forward to doing so.

+ great food, lovely atmospshere
- service friendly but distant

Friday, July 1, 2011

Perfect Ice Cream Pairings!

I've got some good news and some better news. The good news is.. it's national Ice Cream Month! And I'm here to share Chef Tim Nugent's perfect ice cream pairings, courtesy of the good folks over at Real California Milk. They hosted a group of us over at the beautiful Ketchum Kitchen where we could talk about some great California ice creams and the magic of the sundae.

Per Merriam-Webster, a sundae is ice cream served with topping (as crushed fruit, syrup, nuts, or whipped cream) and the first known use of the word was 1897. We've come a long way from ancient Rome when snow was mixed with honey, and from Victorian England when flavored ices were a regular part of the Upper Crust's dessert array. Today the variety of flavors available would blow old Nero's mind and the Victorians would no doubt tremble in horror at the idea of partaking in Foie Gras, bacon, licorice or Whale. No, I'm not making that last one up.

Lucky for us, we got some delicious flavor combinations and none that were too scary!

Chef Tim Nugent is a real treat all in himself and a real charmer. I love that he is exactly what you saw if you watched Just Desserts, an honest representation of a hardworking Pastry chef and all around great guy! The first sundae we tried (the second and third picture) was a vanilla ice cream with caramel, cherries, almond brittle, whipped creme fraiche and a hit of black salt. This sundae was great and that black salt elevated it to fantastic in my book. That extra layer of flavor was perfect in the balance.

The last photo is Humboldt Organic Chocolate ice cream with bitter chocolate syrup, smoked salt and pink peppercorns. Since pink peppercorns are not true members of the pepper family they add an interesting flavor to desserts.

From top left: Thrifty Coconut Pineapple with lemongrass syrup, grilled pineapple and toasted coconut. It's a little on the sweet side, so I think this would also be great with some lime for a citrusy break.

Loard's has been an East Bay staple my whole life, oh & way beyond. We would go for Sundaes because the ice cream is good (try the chocolate mint!!) and you had your choice of dreamy sundae options! The one above is Loard's Lemon Chiffon drizzled with limoncello and topped with whipped cream & marcona almonds. This creamy goodness will make anyone smile and you won't need a lot of it to be satisfied!

Strawberry Crystal ice cream with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and deep fried basil leaves, refreshing and simple. This would be an elegant end to an Italian based meal to carry through the flavors.

I had no idea that Fresno State made ice cream, which just proves that you learn something new everyday. The fresh peach was light and paired nicely with a thyme meringue & a roasted strawberry sauce.

Like waffle cones but want your ice cream in a bowl? Edible waffle cone bowls! Shirts proclaim ice cream love and we scope out the ice cream sundae bar.

 My concoction: Bourbon Vanilla ice cream from Silver Moon with condensed milk, Marcona almonds, black sesame candy and a hit of sea salt. So ready to create your own sundae bar for a party? Try this:

*Have at least one flavor of ice cream per person invited.

*If you plan to make ice cream, keep in mind how much time it will take to make your base, freeze and set. Don't wait until the last minute unless you really like to be frazzled.

*Vary your sauce options beyond chocolate and strawberry. Make a caramel with lemon verbena or cardamom for some great flavors addition. Remember that condensed milk also makes a quick easy caramel substitute and that you can easily make your own flavored simple syrup for an extra shot of taste.

*What goes on top? Nuts? Sure. Fruit? Why not? Want some other options? Toasted coconut, caramelized coffee beans, shortbread, ladyfingers, crushed graham crackers, sesame candy, marshmallow, chocolate or other flavored chips, whipped cream or creme fraiche, salt....if you can think of it and it will go with sweets, add it to your list!

*Have enough containers, spoons etc for both the items on the sundae bar and for your guests to eat. I know that might sound silly, but trust me, that one is not as no brainer as it seems.

Have fun! Summer is just beginning and there are many days to enjoyed with your friends and family having a great time and eating well. But if you get your hands on some sauerkraut ice cream? Please don't invite me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tillamook Sandwich Week

This week you have the chance to hit up some of your favorite food spots to eat some awesome Tillamook creations! If you love cheese and really, who doesn't, be sure to support these local joints by dropping by & grabbing a bite!

Tillamook Sandwich Week participating restaurants

Don't miss a chance to taste the cheese in your hood! Loaf Love Tour

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cheese, glorious cheese!

So you already know that I have bragging rights for being the Tillamook Fan of the month in May. Last night it was essentially confirmed by the ladies at Tillamook that I am indeed, a superfan. Don't scare though, as they also confirmed that I don't seem at all stalkery. HA! Little do they know.....

 Firestone Double Barrel Ale was a toasty pairing for tomato soup shots and ham & cheese biscuits. This is most certainly a beer I can drink more of!

Last night I tried the Garlic Chili Cheddar for what I thought was the first time. However, looking back at the post for last years awesome Tillamook event at American Grilled Cheese Kitchen I see it was there and for some reason didn't register. I can promise you that is no longer the case.

I see really great things for the Garlic Chili Cheddar in my future! see? Superfan!

Last night Heidi introduced us to her version of grilled mac & cheese sandwich. It is the ultimate in decadent carbing and not for the faint of heart. Mac & Cheese sandwiched with cheddar on one side and pepper jack on the other and then grilled to perfection. If you do not fear the carb, definitely check it out! PS: DON'T FEAR THE CARB!

And don't miss the lovely Tillamook peeps when they come to do tastings in your town! Great cheese and really wonderful people. How can you lose?!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Of Underground Markets, 21st Birthdays and Ice Cream

When I saw that there would be Bacon Caramel Corn and Candied Violet Ice Cream at the ForageSF Underground Market this week, I decided this would be a good time to check out the scene. Both of those treats were good, though neither ended up being our favorite.

Every booth had foods with pretty colors and lovely packaging. The vendors were fun, friendly and delighted to share their wares with so many excited people. My brother and I got there first and made the rounds to see what was available before we started buying. Our first stop was Simply Mochi were we tried the Lemon Curd, Blueberry Red bean, Strawberry Cheesecake and Strawberry & Chocolate. After much tasting & discussion the winner for both of us, based on flavor and consistency was the Strawberry Cheesecake.

Lemon Curd (left) and Strawberry Cheesecake Mochi

 Dorian was very happy to see Oaktown Jerk in the house and grab a bag of his favorite Thai Basil jerky. He also snagged some amazing chocolate chip cookies made with honey from Bay Area Bee Company. Before we started drinking mimosas, we decided to see what there was for noms and settled on a saucy pulled chicken sandwich from Good Foods Catering and a pastrami sandwich from Jablow's Meats. Dorian wanted to get some of the bbq sauce and try it in the pastrami, so next time he just might!

messy rules. and the sauce was so good!

we both agreed, we could have eaten several of these. the meat was smoked Friday!!

When Heather came, we had another round of Mimosa's and got to see the market again with a fresh (read, not starving) eye. Pie in a jar? Win! Hibiscus and Quince jam? Yes! After leaving the market, we headed toward the Pirate Store and Paxton Gate. We stopped at the Children's Paxton Gate store and I fell in love with Courtney Cerruti's beautiful work, most especially the owls.

The owls are all love. Go to her to see the rest. You will be so happy you did!
We also came across SFMADE, where there were corsets, candies, jewelry, kids capes and even tobacco on sale that were all locally made!

We then headed off to Bi Rite for ice cream where Salted Caramel was the favored flavor.After dropping Ms. Heather in cab, Dorian and I headed off toward 24th st so he could get the full Mission experience. We ended at Rosamunde because when I said the word sausages my brother started to salivate.

Dorian chose lamb and I went for the boar. Then we shared out so we got one of each and we split fries. The boar was good though once again the consensus was mutual with the lamb the clear favorite. All in all, this was a great day and the first ever with my brother old enough to drink! Yay for good days!

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's the End of the World as We Know it....So I Made Pie

It is apparently quite possible that in a few hours, you or I will  be raptured (please see item #3)

Should that happen I just want you to know one thing: first, I will be eating apple pie.

I've been reading John T Edge's Apple Pie which is a swoony read of epic proportions. This is the review of that book, though should I not be raptured, after I have kept a date with my Facebook friends to loot and then crochet, I will indeed be doing just that. Then I plan on reading the other books in the series. Side note: the other books in the series are Fried Chicken, Donuts, and Hamburgers & Fries. So, I'd really rather not be raptured.

This is a photo of my favorite place to get apples at the farmer's market. These apples are delicious. And if I take the less pretty ones, they are 50 cents a pound. PIE!

I used John Besh's pie dough (it's good stuff) and tossed a bunch of apples in a bowl with brown sugar, lemon, a tablespoon of butter and some cornstarch.

I know it's awful not to measure right? Wrong. But since my sisters both claim I am from Outer Space and I am pretty sure Space Aliens are not included in the festivities, I promise to make it up to you next time.

So as I wait to hear which of my loved ones I will never seen again and the zombie horde, I rest comfortably in the knowledge that no matter what else happens, I will always have pie. Or at least a really good memory.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tillamook Fan of the Month for May

Just a quick note to let you know to check out the always delicious cheese maker Tillamook because they chose me, lil' ol' me!! as the Tillamook Fan of the Month!

My father would love this photo, maniacal grin and cheese? Yep, life is good!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Curry Favor

When Biggie said she needed to cook for people, Heather and I gladly volunteered to be those people.....

fish cakes w green beans & green onion

cucumber & red onion salad w peanuts. sooooooo good!

the best, best, best curry EVER!!!!
Coconut Milk cake w Mango IC and Pandan whip

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SF Chocolate Salon 2011: the roundup

For the record, being a judge at something like the Chocolate Salon is no easy feat. You have to try as much as you can, make notes and then an informed decision. And you have to choose from well over 30 artisan chocolate makers.

I loved the setup this year, with the booths being farther apart it was easier to work your way across the room. I will say that my usual complaint stands and has nothing to do with organizers. People are shockingly short in manners. I actually had a woman back so far into I am not really sure how she managed not to notice but she didn't. I also had another judge step directly in front of me at one point and cut me off. This sort of behavior is pretty bad form and happens quite frequently at events, which makes me sad.

Now onto the good stuff! I tried so much chocolate Sunday and I have to say that there were some serious highlights for me.

I actually spent quite a bit of time at the Divine Chocolate booth chatting with Mark and trying the offerings. I discovered today that he is the CEO and you know what? I think that his passion for chocolate and for the company he works for should be shared by more CEO's! He was excited to share and lacked pretension in anyway. I was wowed by the dark chocolate with orange and ginger, which was light on the ginger with a fresh orange flavor and the 70% dark. I am already a fan of their products, so it was great to have the chance to try a new product and have such a delightful chat! If you've never had it, I am a sucker for the White Chocolate Bar with strawberries.

I wouldn't have known about this next discovery without a heads up from my friend Janet. Snake and Butterfly had dulce de leche chocolate dipped jalapeno peppers and they were nothing like what I expected. This is a treat I would go out of my way for: sweet spicy chocolate decadence at its most interesting. I tried all of the caramel offerings as well and I really loved the honey caramel. The texture and flavor was spot on!

I cannot stress enough that if you have the chance, you try Marti Chocolatts. The woman behind Marti, Tonet, is positively working magic with her truffles.The standouts for me were the Buko Pandan, the taste of fresh coconut making me fall even more in love with one of my favorite fruits, the Chevre en Choco Blanc which hit a home run with a hint of fresh mint and the Pineapple which burst onto the tongue in a happy tropical dance.

Tonet is a wonder who walked us through the tasting and chatted happily about her creations. Every bit of her love comes through in her work, including the Durian. For my first time trying it, it was pretty painless being wrapped in chocolate. Though I may never be a fan of the stinky fruit, I am glad to have the chance to try it.

One of my other favorites is Vice Chocolate, who have never disappointed me since we first met. I am mad for the Spicy Orange Almonds, but this time around I was in rapture over the Pear & Ginger caramels and the White Chocolate with Kaffir Lime. Vice always has great flavor combinations so whether you prefer traditional or more wild flavors, give them a try.

There were some major highlights to the day as I intersected with my friends chatting about life and chocolate, but my favorite moment had to be when Wendy from Socola asked Heather if eating her Siracha truffle was like being punched in the face and Heather responded that fist was wrapped in a velvet glove.

This is the sort of playfulness that endears people to me but Wendy is a serious powerhouse when it comes to flavor. I tried my second Durian flavored truffle of the day (and no matter how much I like you guys, it still tastes like feet!) and the classic Vietnamese Coffee. I adored the sassy slap of the Siracha truffle, which I followed with a cooling Jasmine. That was a perfect way to try them, complimentary and working to greater ends.

I really liked William Dean's Mexican Mango and the lovely Matcha tea, though I found myself a bit overwhelmed by the PB&J.

Another standout for me was New Tree, who always has some fresh & interesting offerings. This time I fell head over heels for the Milk Chocolate Apricot. Smoothly creamy and tasting of that delightful stone fruit, this is a treat I might have a hard time sharing with others. Also great was the 73% dark laden with Pink Peppercorn. New Tree also had some of the most nicest people I encountered. The ladies at this booth were all so sweet and treated everyone like a VIP.

My favorite discovery of the day on the bar side was Medecasse. All the cocoa comes from Madagascar and the owners have taken bean to bar excellence one step further by actually making the bar in Madagascar as well. The spirit of the people live in these bars. I recommend the sea salt with cocoa nibs and the 70% bar which owes its fruitiness to the terroir. The 80% bar has a subtle bitterness a true chocolate lover will appreciate.

I also enjoyed the surprise of Fabrica de Chocolate Momotobo. The almond and Orange Blossom sang, the green chileTamarind. I am not one who ever seeks out that flavor, but the memory will long stay with me of that marvelous zing.

All in all it was a great day and I am honored to have been a judge. I can't wait to see what new treats will be showing up next year!

Choclatique in action
French Toast from Cuisine Noir

Pure Dark


Lulu's Chocolates was having a great time!

Urban Legend Cellar reps Oakland