RSS

Category Archives: Places to shop

A Foodie Day in Emeryville and a Visit to Pixar

A Foodie Day in Emeryville and a Visit to Pixar

Met a friend for lunch at Emeryville’s Koja Kitchen for Korean-Japanese fusion food inside the Public Market, then the two of us joined another friend for a tour of Pixar. The  Market was quiet because it was early, but it was similar to the Ferry building in San Francisco, or also Napa’s OxBow Public Market. If you like food, wine and beer and ART you must get yourself to Emeryville.

 

Let’s begin with the various businesses at the Public Market. I found fourteen choices of places to dine, drink or just hang out with a loved one for a cup of coffee at Peets. I passed since I had already had my espresso w steamed milk while driving to this destination, but Peets is definitely my favorite coffee house. Lucky me I had time for a quick pedicure at The Lounge Nail Spa since I arrived an hour early. How convenient was that?

IMG_4332

Pauline admiring the Coco art on the back of an employee’s Jeep in the parking lot.

Pauline is my brother in law Hanson’s niece (that’s a mouthful!) and she had asked if we could spend a day at Pixar a few months ago. Pauline is a HUGE Disney fan and has never had a tour before until today. This was my second opportunity to visit Pixar since several months ago when I took a tour with my niece Jasmine.  Here are a couple of pics from our day together.

IMG_1040

Jasmine saluting w Woody

IMG_2615 (1)

IMG_2617

IMG_4353

This is the building where all the future ideas are being developed. There are seven movies now in the works

Pixar is studded with art from the very famous award winning Movie Coco, The Incredibles and many other Disney favorites. It’s truly an animators playground, of which is why Pauline loves it there. She has a degree in animation, yet chooses to work with children in San Francisco as a teacher since in her words, “it is more rewarding.”

 

We had a blast walking through the Pixar campus even spotting a famous director. Very cool. The gardens are gorgeous with huge trees and purple blooming irises. One of my favorites since I have them in full bloom in my garden as well.

 

I am fortunate to have connections and visiting privileges to this iconic institution. You can feel the creative energy inside and out of the buildings and know very special things are coming from the brilliant minds of the people who work there. Coming soon is Toy Story 4 and I will be lining up to see that feature film being released in June 2019. My son Andrew had the action figures Woody and Buzz Lightyear back in 1995 when the movie won 3 oscars.

IMG_4309

Well, I thought this blog was going to be all about the restaurants that I stumbled upon at the Public Market. I guess I can get a little excited about Disney/Pixar movies too and get sidetracked. Thou you won’t want to miss checking out these dining experiences either. C Casa, Fish Face poke Bar, Hot Italian, Mayo & Mustard, and Mr Dewie’s Cashew Creamery dairy, soy and gluten free just to name a few. And don’t miss trying Paradita Eatery a Peruvian restaurant and stop by Oui Oui! for a light and airy macaron right after. You will want to bring co workers with you to try The Periodic Table’s huge list of local brews, then Shiba Ramen for an authentic fast casual really delicious Japanese ramen bowl.

Of course, many would opt for a vegan dish and would choose an eggplant curry from  Wazwan Indian Cuisine. Or if you are in the mood for sushi, try We Sushi who started out as a food truck.

It was a dream come true to come across this destination before spending the day at Pixar. Our lunch was healthy, reasonably priced, quick and tasty at Koja Kitchen and we had just enough time to make it for our 2PM Pixar tour. I really can’t think of a better way to spend the day.

IMG_4359

Maybe you have a favorite new hot spot to hang out in? Are you a Disney fan? Here’s a blog from my recent trip to Disneyland. If so leave your ideas in the comment section below. And thanks for reading this. It means a lot.

IMG_8264

Sneak peek from recent Disneyland Adventure

 

Advertisements
 

Tags:

Sip Happens… It’s Okay to WINE

Sip Happens… It’s Okay to WINE
IMG_4178.JPG

Lynie and me at Bob’s Wine Class

Took a spectacular wine class last weekend at the local community center in my town with my neighbor Lynn. Lynn also happens to be my husband’s cousin, so that makes her extra special. She got me excited about signing up for the class a few months ago, and boy am I glad I did. I’m usually a food blogger. But wine goes well with food, right?

In today’s blog, I will be sharing the highlights about what you need to know about wine and sharing my favorite risotto recipe. Bob Becker a certified Sommelier and Wine professional gave the wine analysis presentation along with his wife Darla. Lynie and I and several other wine enthusiasts learned that Americans drink 900 million gallons of wine a year!  It was interesting to find out that there were only 40 wineries back in 1970. And today, there are 9000 wineries in the US! We like our wine. In fact, Bob said that Americans drank 3.7 billion bottles of wine in 2017!

IMG_2664

My nieces Keri and Jamie last December at Rombauer in St Helena

I had no idea how complicated wine tasting could be. We went through the Seven Components that make up the structure (there happens to be 1200 components in a glass of wine): Aroma, Alcohol, Sugar, Acid, Tannin, Texture, and Body were what we covered.These characteristics helped us learn how to identify the glasses we had in front of us. During our lifetime, we create a memory bank of aromas that our brain remembers when drinking wine. The three types of Aroma are Natural/Floral like a Viognier, a Bouquet aroma (the wine is 4 or 5 yrs old) and was made w molecular equilibrium like raisin or leather aroma, or Wine Maker Infused because of the wine barrels. There are American, French and Hungarian wood barrels.

IMG_4179

Lynie getting serious while waiting for Bob’s presentation

American barrels might smell like vanilla, dill or coconut. Where as the French barrels have a caramel, spice or nutmeg aroma. The Hungarian may taste like cinnamon or cloves and the winemakers add wood chips to get these flavors when they burn the barrels. True story. They can only flavor wine in a barrel three times before these barrels are discarded. When Bob worked at Hess in Napa they had 3,500 barrels at one time and each barrel cost approximately $1,600 each. That’s a lot of moolah.

IMG_4177

Bob’s wife Darla and a few happy participants

Then we learned the five step tasting method: Sight, Swirl, SniffSip and Summarize. Sight– When looking at your wine, look for clarity.  Is it crystal clear? How old is it? White wines get darker after 4 yrs because they start oxidizing. What climate was it grown in? Red wines get lighter as they age. The color pigments fall to the bottom and at 4-6 yrs old the reds have a different color at the outer edge rim part of the glass. Are you confused yet?

Actually we were just getting started tasting the various wines sitting in front of us. It was so fun. When one Swirls, you are aerating the wine releasing esters of aroma molecules that enter the nose. Fun fact! Right handers swirl their wine glass counterclockwise and left handers clockwise. Apparently, legs are those streaks that trickle down the side of any wine glass after you swirl it. They tell nothing about wine. It means the cabernet grapes had thick skin. The slower the legs the more alcohol.

IMG_4176

Lynie and I had to identify various Smells like coconut, pear, lemon, cloves, raspberry, pineapple, diesel and mildew (cause from a moldy cork) that were located in small bottles on the table. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to remember each of these. Smell is the gateway to flavor. For example, New Zealand’s wines have more of a lychee aroma. A Spanish wine over 10 years old will smell like leather. A Viognier white wine may taste like white peaches, apricots or a green apple aroma. And we learned that no two people smell things alike. Who knew?

IMG_1013

My dad Ron and my friend Susan at Rombauer a few years ago. Of course I was trying to be a matchmaker again

It was so interesting to find out that everyone has a dominant nostril when Sniffing wine. The professionals hold their glass within an ⅛ of an inch of the rim to properly sniff. They tilt the glass and use only one nostril. Fascinating!  

 

Now I know I was supposed to take notes on Sipping and Summarizing too, but there is nothing written here. I wonder if the wine was kicking in…

 

Bob also talked about ways to recognize bad wine. For instance, if you make a reservation for an earlier time, the restaurants may be serving wine from the day before that doesn’t taste quite right. And if you are paying $12-16 dollars for a glass of wine, it should taste good. Call the waiter and have them open a new bottle in front of you so you know it isn’t old. Great tip!

 

We talked about Infrared Thermometers that help tell the wine’s exact temperature. We now know that lying a bottle on its side helps prevent air getting in and that we should keep the bottles in a cool dark 55 degree room. Wine cellars can cost $87,000 to build! Interestingly enough, don’t store your wine in a home fridge because they vibrate in there and that changes the flavor of the wine prematurely. It’s also too cold and dry in your home fridge. For those of you that only drink a glass or two a night, buy a coravin. These help suck the wine into your glass and keep the cork in place to keep the wine fresh. These are just a few of the many interesting wine tasting tricks in Bob’s class.

 

Bob was clear about serving wine from a clear glass with a stem that is thin with a narrow rim like these or these.  The thinner the glass the better the wine tastes. I know these rules are boring you, but I’m excited to have my next dinner party and show off all of my new wine tips.
Thank goodness red wine has beneficial health benefits too. Although it’s best to not over drink. Make sure to drink a wine that is older than 10 years quickly and don’t decant it. The oxygen destroys the flavor immediately. 

Also- Bob pointed out that screw tops are perfectly fine, they are fabulous at preserving wine and are better than corked wines. Five out of every 100 wine bottles have bad corks!

The characteristics of a well made wine are: Expressiveness, Complexity, Pleasing Texture, Balance and Lingering Finish. When you swallow, how long does the flavor stay on your palate? Does it burn the back of your throat going down? This may mean it has a high alcohol content. Side note: Bob mentioned Screaming Eagle Wine founded by female winemaker Jean Phillips. He and Darla had the pleasure of enjoying her wine for $1,200 a bottle! No kidding.

One of the most interesting facts about the class was realizing that wine is full of SUGAR. These bottles show how much sugar is in each wine. Sparkling wine like Cava/Spain, Prosecco/Italy, and Roederer/France has less sugar and go with many foods. It’s against the law to add sugar to wine. Just before the wine is bottled, the vintners dump raw grape juice into the bottle. The yeast eats the sugar and ethyl alcohol is produced.

IMG_4184

At the end of the class Bob revealed what we were drinking. It was fun to find out more about these wines. My favorite was either #4 or #5 because I was picking up a coffee aroma and I love coffee.

#1 A Sauvignon Blanc from Smart Cookie Vineyards

#2 Chenin Blanc from Beringer

#3 A Zinfandel from Quackenbush

#4 Pisano RPF Uruguay Tannat 2013

#5 Apothic Red 2015
I could go on and on with more wine tips, but why not take a class like Bob’s? His email is Beck711@comcast.net. He also does private parties. Or you could go wine tasting at Page Mill Winery in Livermore and meet my hiking friend Debbie.She knows her stuff. Lots of cool things to do in Livermore.

IMG_4182

Wine Wheel that helps while wine tasting

In Bob’s  words “If you wine a little bit, you’ll feel a lot better.” Well, I can tell you that my husbands cousin Lynie and I definitely felt a lot better after taking his class. I hope you have enjoyed this write up and have picked up a thing or two about wine.

IMG_4180

And finally, I will end with a quote from Benjamin Franklin. “In wine there is wisdom, in beer freedom, in water there is bacteria. I think I’ll plan a day trip to the Napa Valley, Livermore or Healdsburg. Anyone want to go? Hit me up! Leave me a comment below and tell me your favorite wine tip.

 

IMG_7106

My fav chef Michael Chiarello even has his own wine. Pic taken a few years back at Bottega restaurant in Yountville at Marketplace

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Geeking it out” at Universal Studios Hollywood

“Geeking it out” at Universal Studios Hollywood
IMG_3753

The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter w the family

IMG_3756

My nieces Jamie and Keri and her mom Kathleen

If it looks like the Smyth’s, the VanWinckel’s and Louie families are practically the only people at Universal Studios, your probably right. When this family vacations at these parks, we don’t mess around. Up early and out the door before the doors open, so our group could be first in line to get in to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. A few of my nieces were over the top excited about The Forbidden Journey and also about getting their wand at Ollivanders. It’s quite the experience, seeing my nieces walk around getting objects to move if they pointed their wand in a certain direction if they stand in the correct spot. Just like magic. The marketing people here are genius getting parents to spend $49.00 on a wooden wand. It’s kind of a big deal though, and I’m not an expert on this experience since I am just now being exposed to Harry Potter. Neither of my son’s were into the books, so I plead innocence here. No judgement, cause we all have our geek out moments, after all.

 

I hadn’t been to this park in about 25 years, so a lot has changed. They still have a Studio Tour in which you get on a tram and drive around and see King Kong, Fast & Furious among others. Get on this tram when your toes are screaming “sit down!”

 

Of course there were Transformers, Shrek Characters, and Sponge Bob Square Pants out and about for the youngsters to appreciate. Good times for all.

 

We all had fun riding the Revenge of the Mummy ride, Transformers The Ride- 3D, and watching Waterworld the number 1 stunt show. We avoided the Jurassic Park Ride because it was too cold to risk getting soaked. My son Curtis’s favorite memory of the park was the Jaws ride. He must have been only 7 or 8 when we brought him on that ride. Poor kid was traumatized for years after seeing jaws fly out of the water. Looking back, we should have protected him from that terrifying experience.

IMG_3778

In any case, there was lots to do and plenty of places to eat like Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Krusty Burger, Trish’s Mini Donuts, Ben & Jerry’s Ice-cream and Popcornopolis which offers caramel, cheese and churro flavored popcorn. Delish!

 

Here’s my version and recipe for Cinnamon Rolls

Overall, the Universal Studio “geek out” vacation experience was a success. We put on several more miles on our sore tootsies, but every step was worth it. Especially since I’m able to laugh and make special memories with my loved ones. If you haven’t been, plan your next adventure in Southern California at Universal Studios. You’ll be glad you did.

IMG_3797

From the left my sister in law Terri Ann, My sister in law Kathleen,brother in law Rodney, and nieces Keri, Jamie, Laura, Michelle, Keri’s boyfriend Sam and me

 

Here’s a glimpse of our Disneyland trip the day before.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

What You Need to Know about dining and shopping in Walnut Creek (Italian Recipes too!)

What You Need to Know about dining and shopping in Walnut Creek (Italian Recipes too!)

IMG_3439

Was fortunate enough to spend the day with my dear friend Denise last week to celebrate her birthday. Denise and I met over 15 years ago in a meditation class at St Isidore’s. She is a woman of many talents, yet I love her for her intimacy with God and the Church. Denise is a go getter always involved with the latest philanthropy project. What I love about her is that she is somewhat of a spiritual advisor, helping me get through tough times. I have my faith, but it is nice to have a friend to lend an ear and offer guidance when I need it. I adore her and her husband Don and son Brian and thoroughly enjoy our lunches together.

Neiman Marcus Restaurant is where we decided to meet to celebrate her special day. It’s fun to walk around the store and oogle over their displays. It’s almost Easter so there are exhibits of Godiva’s chocolate eggs and stuffed bunnies everywhere which totally gets you in the mood to shop. The children’s section looks perfectly adorable showing little stuffed zebras and miniature pianos something for every child.

Denise and I arrived at about the same time and greeted each other before having a seat in the cafe’. She was smart to have the ($10 per car) valet park her car so she didn’t have to walk far. I like to get a walk in any chance I can and was able to find the only free 3 hour parking garage with a parking place available. Score!

Neiman’s offers a hot cup of consume when you are seated which was a nice touch. We also were treated to hot popovers with strawberry butter. They weren’t served hot and the butter wouldn’t melt, so our gracious waitress brought us new ones straight from the oven. I was hoping to order their crab salad, but was disappointed to learn they didn’t offer that dish anymore. Instead I had the sauteed salmon filet served w a ginger scallion brown rice w edamame, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, broccolini in a shoyu-chile vinaigrette. It was cooked perfectly, hearty, colorful and delicious. Denise went for their cabbage soup since she wasn’t very hungry and we were able to take a photo of it after they so consciously wiped the bowl for us. I had mentioned my friend was celebrating a birthday, so expected them to bring out something. Instead they proceeded to make us feel like we needed to order a dessert (which we did). Denise was excited to try their warm chocolate chip cookies. After all that, our waitress also brought out a complimentary banana cake with whipped cream. But we were charged $5.50 for the cookies! It was a little sneaky of them to go about a birthday dessert this way if you ask me, but we were dining at Neiman Marcus and they are known for their high prices. We each had a glass of wine because of the occasion and loved having a quiet lunch together. Over all, we had very nice service, the food and wine was good but a little pricey, the total meal was $70.91 not including tip. The important part about the day was that Denise enjoyed herself and I believe we achieved that. It truly is a one of a kind dining experience and I will go back for special occasions.

A little walk around Walnut Creek was what came next as we proceeded to The Red Box a local women’s and men’s clothing store. Denise has been working with Mojde Esfandiari the owner for their upcoming spring fashion show and luncheon. This event is raising money for the Danville Women’s Club to help kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford college get scholarships. It promises to be a wonderful event and I am planning on going. Modje’s clothes are one of a kind, unique collection of apparel, shoes and handbags many of them European. I wanted one of everything and will definitely go back to try on a few things. It’s nice to know that people like Modje with her clothing line and Denise with her time, are giving back to the community in these charming ways.

 

 

One more highlight of the week was entertaining our great nieces Terra 51/2 and Tamra 3 yrs old. Their mommy Tammy and husband Tim are due to have the baby any day, so my husband and I were happy to lend a helping hand for the afternoon. The girls loved being read to, enjoyed running around at the park and snacking on our picnic on a ideal day like last Sunday. Luckily, the weather was warm and we were able to walk to a nearby park. Of course our home is full of love when we get to care for our nieces and nephews kids. How fortunate Ken and I are to have large extended families living nearby.

 

I will leave you with a nice meal you can make for your own family. Our great aunt Nita and uncle Ted in Point Arena taught me how to prepare polenta many years ago and it has become a staple weeknight meal. They are unfortunately not with us anymore, but their recipe lives on.Here’s a blog from our time spent with them a few years back.

Italian Meatballs, Marinara and Cheesy Polenta

IMG_3509

 

Meatball ingredients:

 

1 ½ lbs 90/10% fat Ground Beef

6 large cremini mushrooms sliced

1 red or yellow bell pepper chopped

½ white onion chopped

3 cloves minced roasted garlic or fresh

½ C Marsala

1 t herb de Provence

½ t ground bay leaf

1 t Kosher salt

1 t ground pepper

1 t ground parsley

½ C parmesan cheese

¾ C dry toasted bread crumbs (I used toasted leftover biscuits)

½ C Milk

½ C Ketchup

½ C BBQ sauce (I used Korean)

1 egg whisked

Directions:

Saute’ onions, pepper, garlic until soft about 7 minutes. Add Marsala wine and reduce until evaporated. Cool.

In a large bowl, fold  raw ground beef, cooled veggies and remaining ingredients until mixed well. Scoop onto a sheet pan lined with foil. Bake in a preheated 400 degree convection oven uncovered for about 25 minutes until browned.

IMG_3507

Marinara Sauce

 

Ingredients:

 

1 large 28 oz Can Whole Tomatoes (Puree in blender)

1 14 oz can tomato sauce

3 T tomato paste

2 T Olive oil

1 small onion chopped

½ C chopped fresh basil/ or 1 t dried

3/4  C red wine

1 T sugar

3 garlic cloves sauteed in oil for 2 minutes

1 t salt

½ t pepper

¼ t crushed red pepper

 

Directions:

Saute onions, garlic in med size frying pan in oil. Place remaining ingredients including onions and garlic (except for wine) in a blender and puree until mixed. Pour contents into a  large pot and cook for 10 minutes. Add wine and reduce for another 10-15 minutes. You will be adding meat balls to this pot, so make sure there is plenty of room.

When meatballs are cooked, add them to marinara sauce and cook for another 15 minutes on the stove on medium heat.

IMG_3508

Prepare Polenta:

Ingredients:

4 C chicken or vegetable broth

1 C water

1 ½ C Cornmeal

½ C parmesan cheese shredded

½ C fontina cheese shredded

1 t kosher salt

½ t black pepper

2 T butter

1 T Olive Oil

¼ C heavy cream or milk

 

In a large pot heat chicken broth, water, salt and pepper over med high heat until it comes to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and slowly add cornmeal to the boiling liquid while stirring constantly. Cook for about 10 minutes then add cream, oil, butter and shredded cheeses.

 

To serve, scoop out a hefty portion of polenta into a large round pasta bowl. Ladle over a good portion of marinara sauce and 4 to 5 meatballs per serving depending on how hungry you are. Sprinkle with parsley or additional cheese.

IMG_3509

Enjoy! If you liked this recipe please leave a comment below and follow my blog for more interesting stories and family recipes. You’ll be glad you did. I hope I’ve inspired some of you to try these recipes and spoil the ones you love.  

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Reasons why you should visit Oakland’s Insanely Good Food Scene

Reasons why you should visit Oakland’s Insanely Good Food Scene

 

IMG_3345 (1)

Beautiful graffiti art in West Oakland

Had a fabulous day last Friday exploring Tanya Holland’s Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen Restaurant with my friend Sandra. We also took a walk through of the historic Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, one of my favorite places. We shared stories and got caught up while sipping on Peet’s Coffee and nibbling on treats from Fournee Bakery. All this on a rainy March afternoon, so I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

IMG_3326 (1)

The view outside Brown Sugar Kitchen in West Oakland

Firstly, If you haven’t checked out Bravo’s Top Chef competition, it’s a must. I’ve been watching since the beginning and I’m hooked. Of course I love learning as much as I can about cooking and I follow the chefs on Instagram to see what they are up to. Tanya Holland owns an Oakland restaurant called Brown Sugar Kitchen. This place is off the beaten path so lucky I had a Google map to find my way there.

Sandra and I were excited to sit at the counter alongside Tanya herself cooking during the lunch rush. The place was packed, but we were happy to sit and watch the chef making her famous soul food recipes like her Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Cornmeal Waffle served w brown sugar butter and apple cider syrup. Yum. Obviously she was teaching her sous chef a few things because I’m sure she is needed in other areas promoting her cookbook written in 2014 and getting other restaurants up and running. Last September she announced she would be opening a BSKC Brown Sugar Kitchen Counter at the San Francisco Ferry Building, and hopes to expand her brand to the Warriors new Chase Center.

The food was exciting, flavorful and soulful. I ordered the Blackened Catfish served on top of rice with roasted red pepper sauce and pickled vegetables. It was good old fashioned comfort food and a huge portion of which I packed up to bring home for later. Sandra ordered the Creole BBQ Shrimp, basmati rice and baby spinach. She kept going back for more of the spicy dish and we shared the garlic green beans. Sadly, I couldn’t find collard greens on the menu, but loved the perfectly seared green beans.

We didn’t stay for dessert, but I got a close up photo of a banana cake w caramel ganache, a red velvet cake and sticky buns with pecans. This place serves my kind of food and it isn’t stuffy like other East Bay restaurants. The drink menu was limited, but I was happy with Drake’s Hefeweizen and fresh lemon. Sandra went for the Urban Cellars California Viognier. And just today I realized Tanya has teamed up with Humphry Slocombes and is making a brown sugar ice-cream with apple jam and a cornmeal cookie. Delicious!

Well,  if I haven’t convinced you to make a trip to the Oakland/Berkeley area yet then I will tell you about a few more places to visit. The Claremont Hotel and Spa happened to be on our way home and Sandra and I couldn’t help ourselves but to stop in for a look see. My husband and I have stayed here before and loved it. We actually spent the first night of our honeymoon there at the Claremont over 29 years ago. It’s historical because it opened in 1915. Even my grandparents frequented there back in the day. My mother and sister and I spent time at their spa getting massages and relaxing by the pool to celebrate Mother’s Day one year.  Their new bar Limewood looked fun and exciting, has a gorgeous view of San Francisco and features craft cocktails, small bites and afternoon tea.

Across from this gorgeous hotel sits Fournee Bakery where we purchased fresh fougasse and French baguettes for our Friday night supper. They sell seasonal desserts like trifles, a TCHO Chocolate salted caramel cake, tarte tatin, Valrhona chocolate mousse cake, and an orange flavored Basque cake.

Lucky for us, Peet’s Coffee was located right next door to the bakery so we could have our favorite espresso mochas while chatting about our day. Overall, I can’t imagine a more fun way to spend a Friday. I loved catching up with Sandra and hearing about her favorite Greek recipes that her and her husband George whip up. They’ve lived near us for over 20 years and have raised their kids in the same neighborhood as us attending the same schools and swim team.

I’m blessed to have the greatest friends who love to have foodie days with me. I hope I’ve given enough reasons to visit the Oakland Berkeley area. I can’t wait to plan my next outing. Any takers? Leave me a comment below and tell me where you would like to go. But first check out this delicious savory tart which would be perfect served on Easter morning or on any occasion. I made it for my coffee group and the women raved about it and of course asked for the recipe. Here it is.

Fennel, Goat Cheese and Cardamom Tart

Pastry Dough Recipe

1 ½ C Unbleached Flour

¾ Stick (6T) cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes

¼ t Kosher salt

4 to 5 T Ice Cold H20

For Tart Filling

2 large fennel bulbs @ 2 ½ lbs

1 large leek

8 green cardamom pods (or 1 t cardamom spice powder)

¼ C white wine or champagne

¼ C H20

¼ C Olive Oil

1 t Kosher salt

½ t black pepper

2 T unsalted butter

2 eggs

1 large egg yolk

½ C heavy cream

½ C whole milk

¼ C goat cheese

3 Oz (½ C) Taleggio Cheese cut into extra small cubes

Make pastry dough for tart:

In a food processor, blend flour, salt and butter until blended. Or use pastry cutter or fingers just until most of  resembles coarse meal. Add cold water and blend until combined. Do not over mix or pastry will be tough.

Gather dough onto parchment paper or plastic wrap and make into a ball and flatten. Cover completely and let it rest in fridge to chill.

Directions for filling:

Cut off and discard fennel stalks and fronds. Cut out core and cut up fennel into ¼ in thick slices. Wash and cut leek into ¼ in slices using white parts only. Flatten cardamom pods with side of large heavy knife, then remove black seeds and discard pods. Crush seeds with side of knife and chop finely. Or sprinkle cardamom spice powder onto leeks and fennel in a 12 inch heavy skillet. Add wine, water, butter, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer, covered over moderately low heat stirring occasionally until tender about 20 to 25 min. Cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and make sure rack is in center of oven.

Roll out dough into a 15 in round tart pan. I use plastic wrap to  prevent dough from sticking to rolling pin. Trim dough so that it is flush with rim of pan. Lightly prick dough with a fork, then chill for 30 min. Line shell with foil (I spray with Pam first)and fill with dry kidney beans, rice or pie weights.Bake on a large baking sheet for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights and bake 10 -15 min longer or until tart shell is golden brown. Remove from oven.

Whisk together eggs, yolk, until foamy and add milk, cream, goat cheese, salt and pepper. Transfer fennel and leek mixture into pastry shell spreading evenly, and dot with taleggio cheese. Pour custard into shell and bake until set about 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before serving. Serves 6-8 people

 

 

Tags:

My New Improved Espresso Maker, Sweet Adeline Bakery and a Coffee Shop you won’t want to miss

My New Improved Espresso Maker, Sweet Adeline Bakery and a Coffee Shop you won’t want to miss

Are you into your coffee ritual every morning like I am? I hate to say it, but I need my special two shots of espresso, steamed and frothy milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar before I do anything or go anywhere. My coffee makes me happy and that’s why I was so excited to pick up my espresso maker yesterday from Kanen Coffee.

IMG_3094

I was frustrated a couple of months ago when my Intuita espresso maker wouldn’t work. I called the manufacturer and found a few places that would repair it, but I would have to drive to San Jose or Livermore. That didn’t sound super easy, so I Googled Espresso Maker Repair and ran across Sam Kanenwisher from Kanen Coffee Co in Berkeley. Sam made my day yesterday, by returning my machine repaired and ready to go. I had to wait a few weeks, because they have lots of machines to repair. When it was finished they sent me a YouTube video showing me the working coffee maker and a print out of my bill. Brilliant!

IMG_3041

Sam was friendly and outgoing and even helped carry the machine out to my car for me. He said his background was in the CoastGuard repairing radios, etc.. He also got his Masters from The Graduate Theological Union http://www.gtu.edu studying various religions, but that career wasn’t for him either. Instead he decided there was a need for repairing espresso makers and began his journey as Co-Owner at Kanen Coffee. Was there ever! People NEED their coffee. They even give out a free samples of Verve which I’m excited to try.

IMG_3101

While I was in the neighborhood, I decided to walk around and explore this side of Berkeley. I stopped in Sweet Adeline Bakeshop for a ginger cookie. I wasn’t that hungry, but the vegan focaccia with shallots, garlic, tomato and butternut squash looked amazing. They also had an artichoke, red pepper, herb and cauliflower variety. This shop has been around for thirteen years and the locals are in love with this place. I was too when I tasted the perfectly chewy and gingery cookie.

I feel I should disclose that there was a homeless encampment across the street. I was approached by a woman trying to sell me something, but she left me alone when I said I wasn’t interested. One never knows what they might stumble across in a new unfamiliar neighborhood. My heart is heavy for these people and their circumstances and I’m grateful every day for my blessed life. Moving on…
IMG_3099

Nearby was Alchemy a Co-op coffee Cafe. This article sums up what this place is all about even though the article is a little outdated since they are now located on Alcatraz Ave. http://www.berkeleyside.com/2012/08/17/alchemy-co-op-cafe-brightens-berkeley-strip-in-transition/  This place is as hipster as Berkeley gets offering flavorful coffees and specialty teas. For example “Strength for the Long Haul” offers organic nettles, oatstraw, red clover and lavender. Or you could order “Stress Slayer” and take a break from the chaos that has organic lemon balm, oatstraw, skull cap and rose. I was just as curious as you are but went for my tried and true mocha served with Guittard chocolate. Delicious!


Alchemy also offers egg toast with Moroccan style house made Harissa spread, or a Firebrand French Batard topped with prosciutto, arugula and pickled red onions.There was also almond butter,chia porridge, and  granola baked buy Way to Life Co. and served with Strauss yogurt. The atmosphere was warm and inviting and packed with locals working on their computers. I can’t wait to bring my husband here sometime. He attended UC Berkeley over 30 years ago and enjoys these types of coffee shops.

Definitely drive to Berkeley get a taste of the culture and vibe by checking these local businesses. I did. And I’m totally loving my espresso maker making sure I have time to make my special drink before I blast out the door in the morning. Thank you Kanen Coffee for introducing me to your business and those in the surrounding area.

If you have a favorite place that you would like to learn more about, leave me a suggestion below. I’m always looking for an excuse to get away and eat new trendy food.

 

A Foodie Day at Oxbow Public Market during the Holidays

A Foodie Day at Oxbow Public Market during the Holidays

It’s the Holidays and there is so much to do, yet I am driven to get in another blog before the year ends. I have had a good amount of foodie outings since my last post in Healdsburg with my niece in November. I must share with you at least one of my great experiences and of course a recipe.

 

Just this week I spent the day with my son Andrew in Napa. We made a day of exploring Oxbow Public Market. I have been there a few times, but this day was special because it was spent with my son. Andrew wanted to purchase some spices since he hopes to be moving out one day soon and he loves to cook. So off we went to Whole Spice  to find new and different seasonings to cook with.

Andrew spent 3 weeks in South Korea taking an entrepreneur class through St Mary’s College last January and fell in love with the culture, the people and the food. He has since gotten to know the local  Korean Market even taking the time to speak Korean with the owner. He makes great Korean recipes, feels comfortable in the kitchen and enjoys having his friends over for dinner.

He loves Taekwondo and has been teaching for nine years at Tao Sports in Danville. In the last 6 mos he has earned his 4th degree Master and has recently been working at Koo’s Taekwondo https://www.kootkd.com/ for a few weeks. He loves children and is a great instructor.

IMG_2624

Back to the food. He and I walked around Oxbow and checked out various businesses besides Whole Spice, like Hudson Greens & Goods, Live Fire Pizza,  Fieldworks Brewery , Anette’s Chocolates, The Napa Valley Distillery, The Olive Press, and lunch at Oxbow cheese and Wine. I had a glass of champagne which went perfectly with my burrata, mixed greens, sun dried tomatoes, and Olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. It was stupendous! Andrew made his own sandwich with prosciutto de parma, Coconut Gouda and chipotle jelly which he devoured. He also sampled the porter chocolate and coffee beer on tap and of course ordered a glass.

IMG_2618

We also walked past Hog Island and Oyster Co knowing that we would be back to order a few of their sustainable seafood specialties from Tomales Bay. We didn’t get a chance to sample Ritual Coffee although I would have loved an espresso to go. Of course I had to get a glimpse of what Kara’s cupcakes had in their case. I almost broke down and bought a few of their beautifully decorated sugar cookies. Every year I have a cookie decorating party where I invite all of my family and friends to decorate sugar and gingerbread cookies. Many are eaten on the spot, but some are set aside for the veterans at the Yountville Veterans Home. The seniors in the memory care center are excited to have a special treat and I’m honored to provide them.

xmas cookies

Well, I better get back to my holiday shopping, baking, and wrapping.  I’ve had enough fun for the day sharing my latest excursion in Napa. If you get a chance, so check out this fabulous foodie paradise. There are so many places to visit in Napa, but make sure you and your loved ones take time to share the holidays at Oxbow Public Market. You’ll be glad you did.

Feel free to ask any questions. Do you have a favorite spot in Napa that you think I should check out? Let me know in the comments below.

Here is an earlier post you might enjoy. blog

Here is a family favorite quick bread that I make every Christmas. Cranberry Orange Bread. Warm up your kitchen and your tummy with these hot out of the oven cranberry orange muffins. They are nutritious made with heart healthy walnuts, vitamin C packed cranberries, and orange juice. Make them for your family and friends and you too will find joy in your holiday.
Cranberry Orange Bread

Ingredients:

2 C.  All purpose flour                   

33/4 C. granulated Sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp soda                                             

1 ½ C coarsely cut cranberries

11/2 C chopped walnuts

 

1 tsp grated orange zest

1 beaten egg

¾ C. Orange Juice

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

 

Directions:

 

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and soda. Mix in cranberries, walnuts and zest.

In a small bowl, combine egg, orange juice and Olive oil.  Add to dry ingredients stirring until combined.

Grease 2 mini muffin pans, or use small baking papers and scoop batter out and place into muffin tins. Bake in a preheated oven 375 degrees for 20 min or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pans and cool.

Enjoy!

Teri:)         

 

 

Tags:

 
%d bloggers like this: