Join Me at Macy’s Culinary Council Chef Marcus Samuelsson Cooking Demo! Wednesday, October 4th 2017 at 6 PM

BAY AREA FOODIES!

Are you ready to spend an evening in culinary arts heaven with Red Rooster Head Chef Marcus Samuelsson? Myself (and the rest of Girls on Food) are so excited to join one of our favorite chefs for a special cooking demonstration at Macy’s Northgate, in San Rafael, CA, where he will be sharing a few of his favorite recipes and cooking techniques.

When: Wednesday, October 4th 2017 at 6 PM

Where: Macy’s Northgate, Home Department – Level 3, 1000 Northgate Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903

Price: FREE! RSVP here to ensure a spot.

BONUS! Before the demo, With any purchase of $35 or more in the Home Department, receive a special gift and a copy of Chef Marcus’ latest book, The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem, and a chance to meet Chef Marcus and take a photo with him!

I will definitely be stocking up on some new kitchen gadgets but I’m so excited to get a copy of this book and take a shot with Chef Marcus! I’m ready for my close-up!

Culinary Council is a collection of spectacularly talented chefs, pastry chefs, and food professionals that travel throughout the country and hold various tastings and demonstrations in Macy’s all over the U.S. Check with your local Macy’s to see if any are happening near you!

I’ll be live on my Instagram feed with stories, so be sure you’re following me!

 

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Image courtesy of Macy’s Culinary Council. 

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Chang Sensory Trails and Chef’s Table in San Francisco

Thai food is one of my go-to cuisines when I’m in the mood to eat out; in my house growing up, we would opt to get Thai takeout instead of Chinese food. When I heard about Chang Sensory Trails hosted by Chang Beer, a festival celebrating Thai food and flavors, I was super excited to check it out!

The festival took place at Fort Mason in San Francisco, after having great turnouts in Singapore, London, and Los Angeles. Locally known Thai restaurants had different stalls set up throughout the venue serving some of their signature dishes. All of the meals were inspired by Chef Bo Songvisava and Chef Dylan Jones culinary and life journey, in addition to the special tasting I had the pleasure of experiencing. Chefs Bo and Dylan are the wife and husband team behind Bo.Lan in Bangkok, considered one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2017, so you know this is going to be legit.

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August 1 Five in San Francisco

When you hear that Chef Manish Tyagi from Rasika in Washington D.C. is cooking out in the Bay, you gotta get over there to eat fine Indian dining, stat. After visiting D.C. and spending a summer there, I came back missing Rasika’s fantastic food. My whole family is a big fan, so when they came up to the Bay during New Years, we knew we had to make a reservation at August 1 Five.

August 1 Five
524 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco, CA 94102
http://www.august1five.com/

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Foreign Cinema in San Francisco, CA

After seeing all of the beautiful lights, open roof seating, fantastic food, and films they project every night; Foreign Cinema moved to the top of my list of places to eat in San Francisco. So, on the ultimate “Treat Yo Self” day – my birthday – I decided to be fancy and treat myself to an awesome Saturday brunch meal at Foreign Cinema!

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Foreign Cinema
2534 Mission Street, San Francisco CA 94110
https://www.foreigncinema.com

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They have “outdoor” seating with a high skylight, airy tents with lights and indoor seating with a rustic vibe. During dinner, Foreign Cinema plays different films, that change rotation monthly. My initial plan was to come during dinner, so I most definitely intend to come back in the evening! Our server was nice and friendly – she made it a welcoming experience! Since my sister and I shared a bunch of dishes, our waitress said she would be honored to throw down with us one of these days. We ate a lot, and we ate well.

For drinks, we kept it simple. My sister ordered the Navarro Pinot Noir Grape Juice, and I ordered the Housemade Sparkling Rose Lemonade. The grape juice was fresh and sweet. The lemonade, which was good, was incredibly rosy for me – it became too strong after a few sips. I loved the way it looked so I got for the aesthetics, heh.

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First and foremost, I had to get the organic pop tarts. I mean, It’s one of the 100 THINGS TO EAT IN SAN FRANCISCO BY 7X7. I’ve heard so many good things about them, and I was not disappointed at all! We decided to get one of each: strawberry and peach. The peach was so good – it was nice, light, and not too sweet. The strawberry seemed to be little more burnt compared to the peach, and it had a smokey flavor as a result. It’s so light and flakey – I would totally want this every morning for breakfast!

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I ordered the Baguette French Toast with caramelized Asian pears, huckleberries, and brown sugar-orange butter. The brown butter is what made the dish for me. The baguette wasn’t too hard, thankfully, and the butter is what brought out all of the flavors. It balanced well with the caramelized pears. I could’ve done without the huckleberries since they tasted a little bitter to me, and not in a way that balanced the sweetness of the dish.

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My sister ordered the Beef Sirloin Carpaccio, horseradish creme fraiche, farm egg, waffled potatoes, fried rosemary watercress. She enjoyed the thinly sliced pieces of meat. I focused on eating the waffled potatoes dipped in the creme fraiche, which was basically like eating potato chips! We also split the lavender baked goat cheese, with a fig leaf, olivada, fingerling potatoes, Early Girl tomatoes served with baguette toasts.  The goat cheese was fantastic on the baguettes; I’m salivating just thinking about it. It was seasoned perfectly and the potatoes and tomatoes paired well with the tang of the cheese.

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And of course, aside from the pop tarts, my favorite was the Persian Breakfast: labneh, feta, preserves, cucumber, fresh herbs, mint, Za’atar, extra virgin olive oil with focaccia. It was such an easy dish to eat with the thick and fluffy focaccia bread with the various cheeses and herbs. I would also eat this every day for breakfast – and I have.

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Going to Foreign Cinema is an experience that I think every Bay Area native (or visitor) should have! They’re friendly, it’s welcoming, and anything you order on the menu is seriously amazing. It may be a little pricey, but I think sometimes you just have to treat yo self. 😉

Willa Jean in New Orleans

A place renowned for biscuits? You sold me. This past July I went to New Orleans for a bachelorette weekend – and ate (and sweat) a lot. Sure we did a lot of sightseeing as well, but when you’re going to the South, you better eat all you can, especially in a foodie mecca like NOLA. We started our adventure at Willa Jean for brunch.

Willa Jean
611 O’Keefe Avenue | New Orleans, Louisiana 70113
www.willajean.com/

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Willa Jean was at the top of my list after seeing it on several travel and food sites, and I was not disappointed by my decision. The front of the shop has a bunch of baked goods that you can pick up or order at your table. The specials rotate each day, so there’s always something new, such as these glorious Nutella buns.

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We made a brunch reservation for late Friday morning, right at the tail end of their brunch me28nu – though they have lunch and dinner as well. We were a large group, but luckily it wasn’t terribly busy so it was nice to have our section of the restaurant to ourselves. Along with their bakery specials, Willa Jean serves a special blend of Intellgentsia Coffee. And of course, because it’s New Orleans, they have a bar and dranks – like frosé y’all! The service is really friendly, which I truly think is Southern hospitality. It’s not a stereotype, you guys.

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I started out with a simple latte, even though it was disgustingly muggy and hot outside. I like that cozy feeling of drinking something warm out of a mug. I also needed a pick me up after catching a flight straight after work and only getting three hours of sleep. Their Intellgentsia blend is really smooth and I liked that it wasn’t very bitter. But then, I also like my coffee with a lot of milk (or half and half) and a splash of coffee, heh.

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This is one of their morning snacks: summer berries, cream, granola, and elderflowers. Doesn’t it look (almost) too pretty to eat? This felt like the epitome of summer with the colorful flowers. The cream was fresh, thick, and creamy. I think that makes all the difference with granola!

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Their avocado toast is next level. It was honestly delicious – and it was the toast that made it, in my opinion. I believe they make it in house, judging from the bread on display at the front of the store. This one had poached eggs, avocado, arugula, beets, and sea salt. It was a great balance of salty, bitter, and creamy.

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Now, onto the main reason I came to Willa Jean. I got biscuits with fried chicken and Tabasco honey. I wish my picture displayed this a little better, but underneath the giant biscuit, drizzled (more like drenched) with Tabasco honey, was a giant piece of fried chicken. It was lit, you guys. The fried chicken was juicy and tender, the biscuits were thick and fluffy, and it was harmonious with the heat of the Tabasco and the sweetness of the honey. Such balance.

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And finally, there was the brisket, potatoes, cipollini onions, and fried eggs. New Orleans knows how to do brisket – it was sliced perfectly, while being tender and flavorful. The potatoes were also really good – I really don’t know how you can mess up potatoes though. There was also a side of cheesy grits, though my picture didn’t turn out great. It was my first time having real grits, and what better place than in the South? It’s pretty good – I love the creaminess of it since I’m a fan of creamy oatmeal. I don’t think I could’ve eaten the large bowl that it was portioned into since the taste became a lot for me between the cheese and corn. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste?

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I’m honestly in love with the interior of Willa Jean. From their brick walls to their whisk light fixtures, I want every bit of it. I think this is the perfect place to sink into the eclectic Southern vibe of New Orleans and have a comforting meal before walking through the streets of the city.

The Harry Potter Bridal Shower of Every Witch’s Dreams

I am a huge Harry Potter fan. My family members are big Harry Potter fans. My cousin, who is getting married this year, is a big Harry Potter fan – so much so that she got her fiancé into Harry Potter as well. So naturally, when it came time to throw her a bridal shower, we had to make it Harry Potter themed! However, there’s a fine line between making it kiddish and/or Halloween-ish, so we needed to age and class up Harry Potter. That was an interesting task. After weeks of internet research, e-mail chains, and WhatsApp chats, we somehow got it all together!

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The bride mentioned that she wanted long tables – like those rustic, communal long tables where everyone sits and has a meal. She also wanted it outside. While their backyard would’ve made an amazing Forbidden Forest, we out here in 100+ degree Fresno heat, so no one was about to do to that (heh). Instead, we brought the tables inside to recreate a smaller Great Hall and had four total – one for each house! Most of the things we purchased – either on sale at Michael’s or at the dollar store – but the tables, chairs, napkins, and water goblets were rented.

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The chocolate frogs resting on top of each table setting were completely homemade! These were part of our favors for our guests. My sister and I (she did a lot of the work to be honest) configured a template for our Cricut, which cut them all out, but then we had to sit there and fold every single box (as did the rest of the planning squad). So many little tabs to glue and tape in! I found a template for a chocolate frog card that matched the ones you can buy at the park, and inserted the bride onto it. I also wrote a fun little bio on the back, which combined attributes of her favorite characters! For the actual frog, I simply purchased a frog mold from Amazon, bought Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Milk Chocolate, melted them down into the mold and cooled them. It’s so simple to make – and they tasted incredible.

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Onto everyone’s favorite part: the food. We divided the Great Hall into two separate sections. You saw the first part, with the Great Hall tables. This is the actual Great Hall feast, which greeted our guests right when they entered! The dining room had a ton of space for our plentiful spread and a great chandelier, too. The “Muggle to Mrs.” burlap banner was purchased on Etsy.

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Since it was lunch time, we wanted to keep our food light and easy for our guests. Most of our food was homemade, with the exception of the salads (though that awesome kale salad was a mix we had to put together!). We had deviled “dragon” eggs, and two types of tea sandwiches (cucumber/mint and chicken salad). Each of our menu items had a fun Harry Potter related name too – such as Severus Snape’s Shepherd’s Pie!

IMG_2707 What’s British food without shepherd’s pie? We had to class it up, of course. One of our friends made a deconstructed shepherd’s pie with the biscuit, the filling, and sauce one on top of the other. Oh, and rosemary for garnish, because we’re just fancy like that.

The hand pies – better known as Cornish Pasties in the U.K. – were my specialty. After we all had them at 3the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, we knew we had to serve them at the bridal shower. We made a mushroom-spinach-feta one for our vegetarian guests and a jerk chicken flavor. Pasties are incredibly easy – all you need it pie dough, cut them into circles, fill them with your ingredients of choice, and bake them! The possibility are endless – both sweet and savory. Our drinks (besides Gillywater, a.k.a. regular, refreshing H2O) were Amortentia (pink lemonade) and – you guessed it – Butterbeer! I have made other recipes in the past, but the foam still was not to my liking after having multiple drinks at the parks. I think our mix of heavy cream and marshmallow cream on top of good quality cream soda was the best imitation yet! Our guests could choose whichever they liked and sip on them in mason jars with little house flags.

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I know, you were wondering where the dessert was. Don’t worry, I gotchu. We all enjoy sweets (probably the bride’s fiancé the most – but he was, unfortunately, not in attendance), and our bride liked the idea of a dessert bar instead of a cake. And so, we fulfilled that request. We set up our Honeydukes in the breakfast nook of the kitchen, conveniently located next to the Great Hall tables. There was something for everyone – from cupcakes to cookies to butterscotch pudding!

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These gorgeous cookies deserved a picture on their own! Fresno bake, Gracie Bakes, did a brilliant job of executing our requests. After perusing through everyone’s party planner, Pinterest, we simply had too many ideas for cookies! The top were Weasley sweaters, with the bride and groom’s first initials, respectively. They’re both Ravenclaws, so they should’ve been blue, but I guess the purple and gold works alright since they’re from Southern California, heh. We also wanted the sorting hat and broomsticks, which were so cute! The bottom left cookies said “She’s Found a Catch” and “He’s Found a Keeper,” which are Quidditch related! And then there are Amortentia love potions next to it. They were honestly too cute to eat. Even if I did take one of each, later on. >:)

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You didn’t think I forgot about the cupcakes, did you? They deserved a giant picture on their own, too. Fresno baker Bell Kitchen did an AMAZING job on these! We requested house scarves, house crests,and Platform 9 ¾ signs. She totally delivered. And to my surprise, there were several different flavors! There was vanilla funfetti, red velvet, chocolate, and lemon raspberry. Each of them had a delicious filling as well. Again, these were so pretty that it was almost difficult to eat. Almost. They were amazingly delicious.

CIMG1749One of our games was for guests to try Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and guess the flavor. Well, I purchased the beans, so I got a little mean and made almost all of them the ugly flavors! There was earwax, dirt, Tobasco, and rotten egg, among the flavors. When I was explaining to the employees at the Bertie Bott’s store in Gilroy what our plan was, they got a kick out of it. It was priceless watching everyone’s disgusted reactions and the answers afterwards! CIMG1755

Is it even a party without a photobooth? We had a simple background with glasses, snitches, and thunderbolts. We purchased a set of photobooth props from Etsy that were bridal shower and Harry potter themed. But, I also had a bunch of Harry Potter stuff lying around my house, so we had real wands, scarves, and glasses that our guests could wear. I also brought Ron’s Weasley sweater that was incorporated into our decor.

Overall, our guests had a brilliant time at the shower! From the decor to the food to our party games, everyone was in awe of the attention of detail. Most of all, our bride to be was in love with the bridal shower! She couldn’t get enough of all of the decor and our favors. 🙂 I think we can call this a success! Mischief managed, indeed.

Devout Coffee in Fremont, CA

I was so excited to hear there was finally quality coffee shop opening in my hometown of Fremont! Coffee that’s roasted in house, a stunning and plentiful interior and exterior space, and delicious local pastries? I was in before I even stepped into the shop.

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Devout Coffee
37323 Niles Blvd, Fremont, CA 94536
http://devoutcoffee.com/

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I’ve been to Devout when they were still selling off of their cart inside of their incomplete shop and now with its complete renovation. Devout Coffee started in 2013 with two brothers using a barbecue converted into a coffee roaster to roast and create quality coffee. Knowing that finding a good coffee shop was about 30 minutes in any direction (San Francisco and San Jose), they decided to shake up the coffee scene in their town of Fremont.

Initially selling it off of a cart in Niles, they opened the storefront close to two years ago. Niles is one of five neighborhoods that merged to create the city of Fremont. Niles is considered a historical part of town with its antique shops and eateries, but it’s mostly known as the birthplace of Hollywood! Old westerns and Charlie Chaplin films were made in the town, and one of the first major West Coast film companies used to be stationed in Niles before they moved out to what is today’s Hollywood.

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Back to Devout – when you step inside, it feels like you’re in San Francisco at a higher end coffee spot. They’ve renovated the walls from the bright and airy walls to dark walls with minimal decor. They have beautiful wooden tables, a comfy couch, and outlets for chargers. I love the minimalism vibe they have going inside. It feels like you’ve left the old neighborhood of Niles and Fremont and are up in the city, without the hassle of trekking all the way over there. They have their espresso machine in the front and the coffee roaster in the back. All of the roasts are made in-house, and they also have a monthly coffee club where you can get their roasts delivered to you at different price points for however many bags you choose. The baristas and staff are friendly and knowledgeable they can explain to you their roasts and flavors if you have any questions or need advice.

I ordered a TCHO Mocha the times I’ve visited Devout, and it’s excellent. They use TCHO Chocolate in their coffee, and it has that thick, chocolatey flavor in the drink that makes it so great. I love the frothy cream on top that helps balance out the thickness from the chocolate. I liked the bitterness of the coffee because it was subtle and not acerbic. The bitterness doesn’t linger which is awesome, and I also appreciate that they use local ingredients like TCHO, based out of SF.

To accompany my coffee, I ordered a blueberry donut. They have a bunch of other pastries, which looked equally appetizing. I know that some of their savory bread pastries are from Firebrand in Oakland. I, unfortunately, can’t remember where the sweet pastries and donuts are from, but they were fantastic. My friend had an apple cinnamon donut, and I just had to try the blueberry one. Y’all know I got it because it was pretty and I’m glad appearances weren’t deceiving! It wasn’t a dense donut; rather, it was light and fluffy without being overly sweet.

While the inside is nice and calming and is a great environment to work in; I love the outdoor patio space! It’s my favorite part – outside of the coffee, of course. I love that there’s a cute space to sit and enjoy the sun when it’s a beautiful day in the Bay. I’ve been out there in the afternoon and the morning, and it’s serene. You see people walking around Niles perusing the shops and getting brunch. I also love the aesthetics and decor inside and out – it just makes you feel good. Devout Coffee is this little oasis in an intimate town setting in suburbia.
Devout Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happea for Green Pea Cookie

Growing up and living in the Bay Area, there are so many healthy options that cater to so many different diets. Even desserts and snacks have stepped up their game with being natural, vegan, and/or gluten-free. Cookies have elevated themselves to the next level, like these Green Pea Cookies I was fortunate enough to get to try! It’s a delicious cookie that is made up of five ingredients. Yes, you read that right: five. And it comes in the cutest little box, ever!

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Green Pea Cookie
http://www.greenpeacookie.com/

The Green Pea Cookie is based on a cookie that was originally made in Singapore, and according to them, was founded by “two food-loving Singaporeans and an imaginative American.” Together, they fine-tuned the recipe with simple, all natural ingredients and then debuted the cookies in Dolores Park! With everyone loving all of these little green guys, they set out to make it a brand that is proud to be a more natural cookie to snack on – that happens to be made with green peas!

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When I opened my box, I will admit, I was a little skeptical. I mean, a cookie with its primary ingredient as green peas? That sounded so strange. I have had sweet peas and salty peas, but those were still considered savory sides instead of a sweet snack. But when I saw these little nuggets stacked together, waiting to be eaten, I was intrigued.

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On their website (where you can shop for all of their Green Pea products), they have the Peater: The Original Green Pea Cookie, the Penelopea: The Cranberry Green Pea Cookie, and Dimpea: The Chocolate Covered Green Pea Cookie. I had a box of Peaters, and I was ready to indulge!

The Peater’s ingredients were: unbleached wheat flour, salted green peas, organic sunflower oil, organic powdered sugar, and sea salt. While their “pea flour” looks very green, they’re actually moving towards using a more organic pea that doesn’t have any dyes in it, so that they can get rid of the artificial dye ingredients. I think it’s awesome that they’re so committed to keeping the ingredients real and all-natural.

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When I bit into them, I found them crunchy and subtly sweet. They reminded me a lot of South Asian cookies that have a kind of crunchy texture though it crumbles easily. When you start to eat more of the cookie, it has a lovely combination of sweetness from the sugar to the saltiness of the peas. They struck the perfect balance of those two contrasting flavors. The box recommends five cookies a day, but honestly, once you try one, you want to eat another one. And another one. And then another one. The cookies disappear quickly.

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From someone who had a mostly pea-free childhood (I hated them for some reason), I think these are an excellent snack! It feels like you’re indulging in sweets, but you feel better since you know it’s all natural without compromising flavor. The nutrition info isn’t outrageous either: it doesn’t go overboard with carbs or sugar. I’ve had them for a pre-dinner snack, and I don’t feel like I substituted the cookies for dinner, which I have with some other snacks. I would love to try the Dimpea some time – chocolate and pea cookies sounds like a fascinating combination!

Mac & Cheese Please: Homeroom in Oakland

It only took me a million years, but I finally made it out to Oakland to try Homeroom! If you’ve ever just wanted to eat platefuls of macaroni and cheese for brunch, lunch, or dinner, you need to come to Homeroom – a restaurant devoted to an American classic, macaroni and cheese. It’s been on my list for a long time, and I hoped it lived up to the hype. And, boy, it did. I headed out there on a Saturday afternoon and hoped that the line wouldn’t be too long, knowing they have hundreds of Yelp reviews and lines out the door.

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Homeroom
400 40th Street, Oakland, CA 94609
http://homeroom510.com

The restaurant itself, of course, is not very large, so a wait is to be expected. There are a few tables outside on the sidewalk, several tables inside, and a couple of communal tables. We got there and put our name on the list, and sat on one of the benches outside of the restaurant. It was a really warm day, so it was pleasant enough to sit outside. The area feels a little random since there businesses in the area, but if you walk down several blocks, more restaurants are scatted throughout the area. Around the corner is Homeroom To Go, where you can pick up orders of awesome mac and cheese to take home! I only wish I lived closer to do so. But that would be dangerous. The wait took about 15 to 20 minutes. We were seated in the middle of the restaurant and got an excellent view of their fun, quirky décor and the awesome chalkboard wall. I loved the hand drawn map of California! If you look closely, all of the little doodles are the different industries in all of California’s counties. It’s super cute.

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Our waitress was friendly and more than happy to help us decide what to get. There’s a good variety of macaroni and cheeses, so it was a little hard to choose. While we still decided on our entrees, we ordered homemade buttermilk biscuits, which are served with honey butter. The biscuits were warm, fresh, and surprisingly fluffy even though it didn’t look very thick. They were made perfectly to spread sweet and creamy honey butter into all of those nooks and crannies. I also ordered the Arnold Palmer, since I’m big fan of the iced tea-lemonade combo. Homeroom had a unique spin on it, by combining it with what tasted like a lavender iced tea and limeade. I ended up really liking it, and I’m not a big fan of floral flavors. I love the gradient of the colors before you mix the drinks together.

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At a restaurant devoted to macaroni and cheese, choosing which mac n’ cheese to get is a tough decision. Eventually, we settled on two, well-rounded options that we could both sample. Because that’s the smart way to eat at a new place. My sister ordered the Gilroy Mac. It’s considered the best-seller, and you can’t go wrong with a reputation like that. I immediately knew it had to be garlicky and was not disappointed. This macaroni and cheese features creamy Gouda, sharp pecorino and just the right amount of roasted local Gilroy garlic. You can taste the smokiness of the Gouda and the saltiness of the pecorino, and the garlic brings all of the flavors together. It’s packed with garlic but doesn’t feel like you’re eating a plate of raw garlic cloves.

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I ordered the Mac the Goat. First off, it has an awesome name. That partially already sold me. But what’s in it is what cinched the deal: rich and tangy fresh chevre, sliced scallions, served with crispy breadcrumbs and drizzled with olive oil. One of my friend’s mom makes bomb mac n’ cheese with breadcrumbs, and since I had had hers years ago, I prefer to have my macaroni and cheese that way. Combined with creamy goat cheese and scallions, this totally hit the spot. I love the tang of goat cheese, and I’m a big fan of the milder flavor of scallions, so there were a bunch of exciting flavors and textures going on when combined with crunchy, toasted breadcrumbs.

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Since these plates of mac n’ cheese were ginormous, we naturally packed them to go. They hold well as leftovers, once you heat them up a little bit. I readily ate these for a couple of meals, so the ~$10 price tag per entree is worth it. This is a cute restaurant to chill with friends or bring a fun group of friends to enjoy. You can pick different flavors and sample them from each other or be comforted with a large, hot plate of macaroni and cheese that makes you realize why you fell in love with this winning combination in the first place.

Homeroom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Smitten (in Oakland) with Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

Tucked away in North Oakland is the Rockridge neighborhood. While most people simply stop at the beginning of College Avenue for ice cream, I prefer to trek further down to Smitten Ice Cream, well-known in the Bay Area (at several locations) for making delicious ice cream using liquid nitrogen, see a fun video here.

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Smitten Ice Cream 
5800 College Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618
http://smittenicecream.com/

Having spent the summer working in Berkeley, I quickly added Smitten to my list. I have watched countless hours of Food Network and Top Chef, where someone inevitably made ice cream using liquid nitrogen. After pouring in the ice cream base, the Brrr-istas – as they’re called at Smitten – will simply add liquid nitrogen and the mixture freezes to the proper consistency! It’s mesmerizing each and every time.

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You walk in and the smell of freshly made waffle cones wafts over to you and a giant nitrogen tank greets you.  Smitten Ice Cream has a couple of default flavors, such as vanilla or chocolate (made with San Francisco chocolate TCHO), but they also have seasonal flavors.  When you first walk in, a really awesome Brr-ista will take your order, or even give you a recommendation if you’re not too sure. You have the option of either getting solely ice cream, or pair it with one to two of their suggested toppings, such as TCHO crispies or spicy caramel sauce. They also have ice cream sundaes, picked by their Chef de Brrr and vegan pops.

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At my first visit, I decided to play it safe, just in case. We waited for a bit as each of our personal batches to be mixed in the ice cream machine. This is to ensure that each batch stays nice and cold when you eat it. It was a really hot day for the Bay Area, so ice cream was the perfect choice.

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I ordered TCHO 60.5% Chocolate with spicy caramel sauce, and my sister ordered salted caramel. The first thing I noticed is that the consistency feels lighter. More importantly, the ice cream stays colder for a longer period of time! Finally, I don’t have to worry about my ice cream melting while I’m eating it. The TCHO is incredibly rich, but the spicy caramel helps to balance it out so it’s not super bitter and adds a little kick! The salted caramel is a great balance of salty, creamy, and sweet. Needless to say, our little scoops disappeared very fast.

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I returned with friends and decided to be a little bolder. I ordered Fresh Mint Chip in a house made waffle cone, drizzled with TCHO chocolate sauce and TCHO crispies. I went all out with their suggested pairing. I eagerly anticipated my ice cream and was not disappointed. This wasn’t just any old mint chip. It ACTUALLY tasted like fresh mint leaves, rather than peppermint. The chocolate sauce and crispies added made it extra decadent. I plan to make this my go-to flavor for future visits.

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However, the most recent time I visited the shop, I decided to go all out and get one of their intriguing seasonal flavors. I ordered Crème Fraîche with Pear Caramel, which is described as sun-blushed pears, ripe for the picking in early fall, are on ideal “pear-ing” with tangy crème fraiche. I will admit, I was nervous. I’ve had crème fraîche before as a condiment for savory dishes, and I basically describe it as a richer sour cream. True to that description, the Crème Fraîche felt really rich and tangy, rather than overly sweet. The pear caramel provided the sweetness needed to balance out the tanginess. I can’t say that I would order it again, but it was definitely worth getting if you’re into trying cool and unique flavors.

Smitten Ice Cream is a really fun place to bring your family and friends. Each and every person I’ve brought here is delighted to watch their ice cream being made, with the liquid nitrogen pouring out in a mist of smoke as their personal batch is being mixed. While the wait may seem a little long, the liquid nitrogen, in my opinion, makes the ice cream even better!
Smitten Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato