Girls on Food

Victoria

I was born in San Luis Obispo, but I definitely call Sacramento home. I grew up since 6th grade on 20 acres with horses. I started showing professionally at age 10 and it stuck with me until I was 30! I’ve always been known as an Urban Cowgirl, but I’m happy to say I feel like I’ve transformed into a “City Fitness Girl Who Can Still Get Down & Dirty” (it’s longer, but a great upgrade). Turning 31 was a pivotal point in my life and really brought me closer to my food dreams, learning new ways to work out and truly loving the skin I’m in. I believe you can eat well to look and feel great. I also believe the way you eat is a huge part of how you work out and the results that follow. I created my blog CookFor2ish late last year with the intention of creating meals in smaller portions with a healthy-ish flair. I love what I do. I’m happy to share my food secrets and how I maintain my body. Getting shock value that I’m 31 when people find out my age, means the world to me. It reminds me that what I’m doing is working and it’s not a fad, it’s a lifestyle. It’s truly living well, eating well and finding a doable life balance. I love trying new things and sharing what I’m up to through my life journey. I’m here for those who want to be inspired and see that food can be good without being bad for you. Oh, and I’ll be writing some reviews of my favorite places along the way! I’m excited to meet you and/or connect. xoxo

Sipping on Sauvignon Blanc by Hillersden Wine

Considering their cutting edge approach with a thoughtful touch, Hillersden is onto something big.

Hillersden Winery

Hillersden WineNew Zealand offers a cooler climate with clay and rocky soil. This combination, when executed correctly, gives Sauvignon Blanc its fruity aromas and crisp flavors. My first experience with a beautiful bottle of Hillersden Sauvignon Blanc proved this to be true. When first opened, the wine had subtle hints of eucalyptus, lemongrass and thyme — very refreshing and doesn’t immediately fall flat.

In the spirit of wine, I feel inclined to share that I’ve been studying to be become a sommelier recently AND I’ll be launching my personal wine blog this week! Go me, right? In all my massive studying, I’ve learned to be on the lookout for wines that may start out initially strong, but fall flat quickly. It’s more common than people realize and it’s super cool to see Hillersden avoid this common letdown. I’ve been sipping it for well over an hour now and it’s only changing for the better. The acidity is now at the forefront and I’m getting a bit more pear and apricot on the nose. This is a great transformation for such a young winery.

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Sammy Hagar and the El Paseo Team Open The Passage Bar

Passage BarSammy Hagar and the team of El Paseo know the way into a Girl on Food’s heart. Right when I stepped into their launch party for The Passage Bar, I was greeted with a glass of sparkling. How’d he know? 😉
The Passage Bar 
17 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

http://www.elpaseomillvalley.com

It’s located in Mill Valley about ten minutes north of San Francisco. The bar is a collaboration between former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar and El Paseo, the restaurant right next door. The bar is a huge compliment to the stunning restaurant and is sure to be a social hotspot.

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Victoria Attends Spain’s Great Match in San Francisco

It was an ordinary Tuesday and I found that reason enough to wine taste my way through Spain’s Great Match. More than 200 wineries from Spain met in San Francisco’s Metreon to celebrate its 23rd annual event. Regional wines were showcased alongside their latest vintages.  Unique and enigmatic wines were paired with culinary treats, including delectable olives and cheese from Spain.

Spains Great Match
Pictured from left to right Victoria from Cookfor2ish and Melody Fuller of Oakland Wine Festival

Reading the Labels

Before I really started to learn about wine, I would stray away from regions I didn’t know anything about. In the new world, wine labels are explicit and clearly name the varietal, in the old world you rarely find the varietal on the label. I found it to be a little overwhelming so I came up with a cheat sheet to break down the details.

Spain Great Match

WINE LABEL:

Winery Brand

Producer – Name of Vineyard

Label Name

Year or Vintage (year of harvest)

DO : Designation of Origin – Geographical Area where Grapes were Grown (it could be a small village)

At least for Spanish wines, this method seems to remain somewhat consistent, as long as you know the varietal and where it is grown.

The Seven Wine Regions of Spain

Spain’s Great Match, literally covers wine from across the entire country. The areas are broken down into seven regions and further down into designation of origin.

Spains Great Match

The Seven Regions

Green Spain/ Duero River Valley/ The Mediterranean Coast/ The Meseta/ Ebro River Valley/ Andalucia/ The Islands

Spains Great Match

My Favorites

From a large array and extensive tasting booth by booth, I choose my 3 favorite varietals.

Technically, my technique of comparing Spanish varietals to American might not bode well with wine makers, but it’s only for the sake of understanding and learning. When I was new to these regions, I would ask if what I was tasting might be similar to say, a chardonnay. It helped me better grasp a general idea of these new, complex and infinite varietals.

Sorry in advance wine makers, I’m truly trying to bridge the gap between the two worlds for the young wine enthusiast out there!

If I could guess, there were probably around 20 different varietals at this event and only 3 really spoke to me.

Whites:

Albarino: Similar to Chardonnay, fresh, alive, light, with solid acidity that could even be somewhat tropical.

Verdejo: It reminded me of a crisp, non-acidic Sauvignon Blanc. Apricot and peaches on the nose, followed by a weightless taste.

Reds:

Tempranillo: From simple and modest to complex and rich, it immediately made me think of Pinot Noir.

Spains Great Match

Some of my favorite spanish wines at the match 

I won’t say I managed to try all 200 bottles, but I did make it to each table and these were my top picks for this lovely event.

Gran Resalte 2009, DO Ribera del Duero – Tempranillo $79.00 (red)

Dark, intense deep red, perfume, violets, flowers, balanced acidity, electric feeling in your mouth, solid grape flavors and extremely elegant. Superb finish dressed with mild tannins (dry).

Ideal for that special moment or proposal (even meeting the parents).

Spains Great Match

Resalte Crianza 2011, DO Ribera del Duero – Tempranillo $35.00 (red)

Cherry red color and aromas of stone. Wine is intense, vivid, expressive, light, clean, bright and leaves your empty glass filled with powerful black licorice aromas.

Best for hanging with friends and/or enjoying tapas alongside great conversation.

El Coto Imaz Reserva 2010, DO Rioja – Tempranillo $ 19.99 (red)

Oak and pepper blend in the nose. Light, but warm feeling on the tongue that vanishes immediately, leaving you with a “I want another glass sensation”

Spains Great Match

Best for movie day, chilling and/or cool Sunday fun-day afternoons.

Condes de Albarei 2015, DO Rias Baixas – Albarino $ 15.00 (white)

Attractive citric notes on the nose were followed by the saltiness of a oyster fresh out of the sea. Wine was bright yellow in color and finishes with a sense of satisfaction one can only get through experiencing themselves.

Spains Great Match

Obviously wine would be paired well with a fresh salad, ceviche or any fresh fish for that matter.

Fun Fact: More than half of the wine makers in this region (Rias Baixas) are women.

De Alberto Premium 2015, Hijos de Alberto Gutierrez DO Rueda – Verdejo $ 14.50 (white)

Stimulating beginning and highly expressive on the nose. Hints of apricot with soft acidity and finishes smooth.

Spains Great Match

Perfect by the pool on a hot day or a great start to your Sunday brunch.

Spains Great Match

Olives from Spain

I made a few trips to this booth for olives, olives and more olives!

A large portion of olives are used solely for the purpose of oil extraction, while only a select few are deemed suitable enough to be processed and eaten as table olives.

Spains Great Match

While Olives from Spain are strong and robust all on their own, their unique taste and texture can create more than just an impressive solo act. Thanks to the various types of processing methods used, there’s a wide range of table olives available on the market.

Black Olives:

The Ripe Black Olive is both mild and subdued and has a light, flexible flavor. Black olives are lighter than other snacks, yet big on taste. In fact, seven olives top out at 37 calories.

Green Olives:

The Spanish Green Olive is a year-round favorite. It’s beautiful in color and it’s robust flavor is enough to stand alone. They’re adaptable enough to make any dish even more memorable, bold, sharp, spicy flavor.

Stuffed Olives: Just Add Anything

Almost any food can be combined with this Spanish favorite. Garlic, blue cheese, jalapeños, capers, anchovies, artichokes and more.

It took a lot of self control to not consume every last olive at this event! From garlic, artichokes, pepper and spices, I was sold on them all.

Cheese from Spain

The booth was simple and focused on Spain’s best: Manchego.

Manchego cheese is made from the milk of the  Manchega sheep, breed on the center region of Spain, ” La Mancha”.

Spains Great Match

There were 3 types of Manchego; pasteurized (commercial), raw (farm style) and mixed (with cow milk).

The flavors were fruity with a tangy note, with a caramel and nutty after taste. All the cheeses had a distinct acidity and the Manchego sheep’s milk gave a pleasant, unusual aftertaste. The texture is firm and compact.

Spains Great Match

My favorite one was the farm style, when it comes to cheese, pasteurized paranoia doesn’t worry me at all!

Olive Oil From Spain

This event couldn’t be complete without the olive oil! There were several bottles from many producers perfectly lined up; spicy ones, fragrant, and dipping only. Too many to taste them all in one visit (Especially when you have a fresh baguette as the main tasting tool).

Spains Great Match

I’m a fan of strong ones, my favorite from all: Castillo de Canena; 100% from the “Picual” olive variety. The oil had a medium body, soft texture, sweet/buttery taste, at the end a strong peppery kick that gave me an extra savory bonus .

Spains Great Match

Spains Great Match 

Overall, this event was really eye opening to how many beautiful and eclectic types of wine Spain has to offer. The wines were a refreshing taste of something new for me.

Spains Great Match

Spains Great Match

Thank you to the organizers, sponsors, venders and all the individual people who made this great event possible for so many years. I look forward to attending again next year.

Fajita Friday!: Sancho’s Taqueria in Downtown Palo Alto

In honor of Mexico starting to feel like my second home, I’ve decided it’s my California duty to find the best Mexican restaurants across the west coast. Palo Alto, you are first on my list!sanchos-taqueria

Sancho’s Taqueria
491 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
http://sanchostaqueria.com

I showed up, camera in hand, at 11:45 am with a line out the door. That was the moment I knew I picked the perfect place to blog about. I tried Sancho’s Taqueria once before for a bomb breakfast burrito. (Ironically it’s not on the wall menu, but just ask, and they’ll fill you in on the options.) Enticed by such a great breakfast, I decided to give their lunch menu a shot.

sanchos-taqueria

Who they are and how it works. 

The authentic eatery has been around since 2005 and with four locations in the San Francisco area: two in Palo Alto, one in Redwood City and one in San Carlos. They’re also open seven days a week!

I was personally visiting the Downtown Palo Alto location and it never actually stopped being busy, but never felt crowded or stressed. The food is great, the prices are awesome, and the staff is so friendly.

I was snapping pictures of my food like a typical blogger, and one of the staff ran out and thanked me. It’s nice to feel the love when lugging a giant camera around and hovering over my food until I get the perfect shot.

They are cash only, at least at the downtown Palo Alto location, so keep that in mind. I rarely carry cash, but I will for tacos any day of the week. They also have indoor and outdoor seating which is nice with all the lovely weather we’ve been experiencing in the Bay. If you’re ever in need of a party platter or 12, they offer traditional catering with a taco bar buffet option. You can even book their Taco Truck for an event!

Let’s talk food.

Shrimp Ceviche  

I ordered the ceviche thinking it would be like an appetizer and it was almost a meal in itself! The shrimp perfectly cooked had the perfect balance of lime and heat.

sanchos-taqueria

For seven bucks it’s a whole plate plus fresh chips on the side. Had I known, this would have been my lunch.

Pollo Burrito

I went with the shredded chicken burrito with pinto beans and added sour cream. I’m super picky about shredded meat of any kind! I refuse to eat it if it’s dry and on the verge of being jerky. Not for me! Sancho’s chicken was super tender and for $6.25 it was enough to fill someone up or cut in half for two meals (depending on your hunger level).

sanchos-taqueria

Chicken Fajitas

Under the “favorites” part of the menu lies the fajita options (I think I know why its a fav). They used a little lemon in the fajitas which made the whole dish pop. It’s served with all the standard sides and warm corn tortillas. It’s priced just below $11 bucks for a perfect sized portion.

sanchos-taqueria

Sancho’s will be a regular place for me in the future. They have tacos ranging from $4 to under $2 bucks a piece that needs my professional opinion in the near future!

If you’re in the Peninsula area of the bay anytime soon, check out one of their locations and enjoy the happy staff! Thanks, Sancho’s!

sanchos-taqueria

Victoria’s Sneak Peek of Lemonade in Palo Alto

I arrived for the soft opening of Lemonade in downtown Palo Alto thinking I was going to miss out on the excitement (seeing as though I was arriving at the tail end of the event). To my surprise, there was a line out the door!

Lemonade SF -1-1

Lemonade
151 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301
http://lemonadesf.com

I wasn’t sure what to expect since I had no background info on this trendy little place and all I can say is WOW. Can I admit that now I’ll be a regular? Or shall we read on?

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Upon my arrival, I wandered around to take it all in and snap a few pictures and I truly felt invited. They made me feel comfortable, especially since I was wandering around with a decent sized camera in a packed environment.

Lemonade SF -29-29

After I made my rounds, I jumped in line to test out the food, I was greeted by one of the staff members with instructions and a breakdown of their menu. I was excited to see a fresh brand in a popular downtown district.

Lemonade offers a variety of options for wide range of taste buds.

Lemonade SF -11-11

To help understand what you’re getting yourself into: It’s a assembly line style place, which is great for people on the go and everything was so fresh! In the Marketplace section they off vegan, vegetarian and protein options.

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They also offer 3 hand tossed to order salads. I had to check out this one for myself of course. I like to call it “Summer Time Salad Sampling for Research Purposes.” It’s a thing.

Lemonade SF -20-20 Lemonade SF -26-26

The little clusters of peanuts and sesame seeds are all I can think about since I left! The cilantro lime vinaigrette dressing was crisp and fresh. To make it perfect, there was no over dressing going on these leaves either! Just balanced, beautiful and delicious down to the last bite! This one was called the Tatsooi & Mizuna Lettuces with Carrots and Sesame Peanuts for future reference. (wink wink)

I’ll give you a little insider information: Their salads did not need additional salt and pepper (they’re seasoning those silky salad dressings perfectly). Salad snobs like myself will appreciate this monumental moment. 

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They also offer sandwiches and plenty of hot food options. To the point that it’s honestly worth a few visits to even taste half the menu!

The best way to describe my experience: Their menu is creative yet simplistic and equals flavor across every dish.

Lemonade SF -21-21

I asked the friendly staff to choose something fun for me and luckily she apparently knew me well because she went with the Avocado and Cherry Tomato in the Marketplace section. (Two of my favorite things combined). The texture was creamy, but not too rich and really kept the cherry tomatoes as the star of the dish!

Lemonade SF -8-8

For my second tasting she chose Thai Chicken & Green Beans. It’s a cold dish and blasted with flavor. The red chilies brought a warm heat without over powering the the protein. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the green beans made a perfect pair for the chicken.

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Did I mention they have more than one option of Lemonade? I was so overwhelmed with all the exciting options that by the time I got to choose my lemonade, I had to ask the friendly staff to choose for me (thank you for that!).

For the record, blood orange is my new favorite thing.

(Clearly I’m loving it!)

Girls On Food Blog

Via @victoriamelshaw Snapchat

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There’s also outdoor seating and they recycle and care about the environment!

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So, if you live in the area or happen to be in Palo Alto, find yourself a parking spot and check it out! It’s an incredible place and I can see why they are growing as a company! Happy to have you nearby!

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I’ll be back soon Lemonade! ~Victoria

 

Camille Beckman Glycerine Hand Therapy: The Perfect Hand Lotion For a Girl on Food

Anyone who cooks (and gardens) knows the wear and tear that our hands endure to make a good meal. As a food blogger, we take it to the next level to get the best shot through hours of wear and tear on our lovely selfs. On top of it, some shots require our hands to be models. Luckily, there’s hydrating and effective lotion out there willing to rise to the hands-on challenge.

Camille Beckman Hand Therapy

Let’s break down this hand lotion brand, shall we?

When I sat down to dive into Camille Beckman’s Glycerine Hand Therapy, I enlisted the help of my significant other! For one, he’s a winemaker, and that alone in itself is amazing. But in all seriousness, as a winemaker, he has a great nose! The best part: It was a blind smell test. I had him smell the lotion before and after I applied to see what he thought. And while I’m at it, I think a man’s input is well worth while and underrated for what they enjoy smelling on a woman. When in doubt ladies, just ask.

What We Found

Camille 

Camille Beckman

I had two lotions to work with which made this even more fun and exciting. We started off with Camille, the signature, and his first initial reaction was a lemon, blossom, and cucumber after it had settled we both agreed it had a soothing flower blossom finish and felt very comforting. I was personally impressed with how soft my skin felt for someone that washes her hands multiple times a day and it didn’t feel oily in any way. So far I was intrigued.

Secret Sea

Secret Sea

I was extra impressed with my man’s nose for this one, Secret Sea. He immediately picked up almond and said it reminded him of being by the sea. I had to look him like, “Did you cheat?” Luckily he’s an honest man, and it got me thinking on how these lotions capture everything I’m looking for in a worthwhile hand therapy.

At this point, I went from being intrigued to impressed. It’s not every day you not only find a lotion that not only works but also matches the scent to the brand name. The fragrance is there, and the cream is effective.  For someone like myself that has a garden and cooks on the daily, I definitely see myself having these lotions strategically placed throughout my house and purse.

My Bay Area Garden

Garden

The best part…it doesn’t take much and lasts for hours!

Let’s Taco ‘Bout It!: Chandos Tacos in Sacramento

Chando’s Tacos anyone? It’s as good if not better than it looks!

Chandos Tacos

Chandos Tacos

Chando’s Tacos

943 Pleasant Grove Blvd

Roseville, CA 95678

916-782-8226

http://chandostacos.com

I’ve heard great things about this joint. Well, all the guys at work were talking about it and making weekly lunch runs, so my curiosity was killing me. I know they have a few locations, including one off of Power Inn and one in the Arden area. This particular day, I happened to be in Roseville and tried the one off Pleasant Grove Blvd. It’s basically around the corner from the Galleria Mall. So definitely keep that in mind after a long day of shopping!

I’ll let you know before hand, I’m picky when it comes to my tacos and they definitely impressed me! Chandos has their meats down to an art in authentic taste and texture. Since I was new to the place I tried a regular taco with Carnitas. They slow cook the pork then fry it off in lard, which is the traditional way cook it. Maybe not the healthiest, but it’s okay to live it up every now and then!

Chandos Tacos

They let you mix up tacos and recommend it for newbies so you can dabble a little. I made my second taco choice a lettuce wrap with carne asada. I’m definitely new to seeing a lettuce wrap taco! It’s butter lettuce that holds up to the portion thick meat and toppings. I really appreciate the ability to play with your taco ordering options. Great idea on their part because as much as I liked the butter lettuce taco, I still want a traditional taco or two along with it!

I also tried their Mulitas with “Birria”. I had no idea what this was and now I’m hooked. I personally fell in love with their birria. If you’re unfamiliar, like I was, it’s slow cooked shredded beef and it’s nothing short of amazing. It’s basically like having your grandmother’s roast shredded in between 2 corn tortillas.

Chandos Tacos

My second trip there was just for Mulitas and two alone were enough to fill me up! Here’s the description straight from their website. Need I say more?

“Expertly made by layering jack cheese and your choice of meat between two corn tortillas. Top it off with Chandos’s signature fresh cilantro, delicious diced onions, creamy guacamole and tangy salsa for an instant flavor explosion.”

Last, but definitely not least, I bought the salsa and chips because no Mexican meal is complete without it!

Chandos Tacos

It takes a good salsa to get my attention. I admit my standards are higher than most. They killed it! I’m pretty sure they used a season salt of some sort to pull off that flavor. It was simple, but just popped. The whole experience made me excited to see some little hints creativity while keeping to their authentic roots.

Chandos Tacos

So kudos Chandos Tacos for great prices, a strong menu, fantastic ingredients and an overall great experience.

I left with a new shirt too!

Chandos Tacos