Girls on Food

Dessert

MEDIA TASTING: The Thirsty Merchant in Valley Village, CA Brings Out The Kid In Us!

Los Angeles, I’ve just found your new go-to summer hangout! If you’re looking for good drinks, good eats, and fun games in a laid back but classy atmosphere, look no further than the Thirsty Merchant in Valley Village.

THE THIRSTY MERCHANT 

12430 Riverside Dr
Valley Village, CA 91607
http://www.thethirstymerchant.com

I enjoy watching and playing games as much as the next girl, but I usually avoid my local sports bar because I’m not interested in jockeying for a spot at the pool table with a bunch of annoying bros.

Thank goodness for the Thirsty Merchant. Not only are there plenty of games to choose from (bocce ball, foosball, corn hole, darts—even giant Connect-Four!), but the vibe is warm and inviting with an elegant Victorian-inspired twist. The bar is impressive, and they offer a wide selection of beers, but they also have an excellent wine and cocktail list for those like myself who aren’t into brews.

Hot Lips

Upon arriving, my companion and I settled into a cozy, dimly lit booth and perused the menu. We decided to start off with a couple of spicy drinks to get things going. He ordered a Hot Lips cocktail made with jalapeño infused vodka, mezcal, lime, pineapple juice, and vanilla simple syrup. I ordered a Merchant Mary with Bang Bang Shrimp Cocktail from the “Day Drinks” menu (which, by the way, accompanied a rather appealing weekend brunch menu that I intend to return for).

The Hot Lips definitely did as its name implied- it made my lips tingle with flavor. I know spicy drinks aren’t for everyone, but if you enjoy heat, definitely try this drink out. It has a smoky taste on the front end, builds into a zesty jalapeño burn, and softens with the sweet vanilla finish. Delicious!

The Merchant Mary was also a very solid Bloody Mary, though after trying the Hot Lips, it didn’t seem spicy enough for my taste. But the mix is fresh and made in house and had all the right elements – including a refreshing celery flavor that I really enjoyed. Be careful with this one though… it makes for some really easy drinking, and I didn’t realize how strong it was until I finished it. Oh, and did I mention the zesty and meaty shrimp that was the prize at the end of the drink? (Or are you one of those people who eats all the garnishes first? No judgement here!)  

For an appetizer we tried the Roasted Shishito Peppers which were UH-MAY-ZING. Who would think such a simple dish could be so delicious? For me, it was all about the perfect char and garlicky vinegar dressing the peppers were dressed with, and the equally mouthwatering truffle aioli that accompanied them. I could have eaten a bucket of these, but I had to save room for the rest of the night. 

We also tried a Sonoma Salad before diving into the main course. This salad is a refreshing summer treat made with crisp butter lettuce, roasted corn, candied walnuts, and dried cranberries, tossed with a light champagne vinaigrette and feta cheese crumbles. It would make a great meal on its own with some added protein like chicken or shrimp. 

There were a lot of other appealing appetizers that would make for good sharing with a group of friends, such as steak tips and pan-fried dumplings, but we decided to order something more hearty for our main course. After trying the shrimp in the bloody Mary I was tempted to go with the Louisiana Bang Bang Shrimp, but ultimately I decided to go with the Bistro Burger. My companion took a Southern route with the Southern Livin’ fried chicken sandwich.

It was time for a drink refill while we waited for our food and I simply had to try another “day drink” selection, the Frosé (“God’s gift to your mouth” as the menu states.) I have to agree. This is the perfect summer treat. I’m a sucker for frozen drinks, and this one is a delight. If you love rosé, you’ll enjoy its crisp and citrusy flavor. Plus, it’s just plain fun to drink.  

My companion got a Hotsy Tosty – another spicy drink, but more fruity and sweet than the Hot Lips. Like the first drink, it’s also made with jalapeño infused vodka, but the difference lies in the fresh strawberries, agave nectar, and fizzy ginger beer. I liked this one even more than the Hot Lips – but I’m partial to sweet and fruity drinks. You can’t go wrong with either choice. 

Before long our food arrived. The Bistro Burger was one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time. The patty is ground in-house and crusted with pepper, topped with Boursin cheese and shoestring fries.

The burger was bursting with flavor – it had a hint of heat from the pepper tempered with creamy garlic from the cheese. It was as close to the feeling of having a fancy picnic with summer sausage and cheese as you could get in a burger. The shoe string fries were also perfectly crisp and the burger came with an additional side of them as well. I ate the whole thing, which is rare for me when it comes to burgers.

The Chicken Sandwich was equally amazing, but much heavier (as is to be expected with Southern-inspired cooking). The chicken was double-breaded with buttermilk and perfectly crusty on the outside and juicy-tender on the inside. The pimento cheese added a bit of heat, but the dill slaw provided a crunchy and satisfying cooldown.  

We were pretty stuffed, but we had to had to try the highly-recommended dessert: the Peanut Butter Pie. Trust me, you’ll want to order this one – it was so rich and delicious with its Oreo crust and creamy peanut butter filling. It even had a couple Reese’s cups as a topper along with crushed peanuts and a dollop of whipped cream. Peanut-butter lovers rejoice! 

I was honestly surprised by how good the food was for a place that offers sports and games. Oftentimes at bars like these, the food is an afterthought to the entertainment, but not so at the Thirsty Merchant. Come to watch your team on one of the many screens, or get a group together to share some apps and play a round of bocce ball (or three.) Or come with a date and snuggle into one of the cushy booths and enjoy a romantic cocktail. You can do it all at the Thirsty Merchant, and I for one will be making it one of my hangouts this summer. Connect-Four, anyone? 

Between the Buns Slides into Home Plate with Their Inaugural Slider Event

Last Saturday the Dallas Observer and Whole Foods held the first annual Between the Buns – Slider EventThirty of Dallas’ hot spots were busy cooking some of their most tempting treats for the taking. Seriously, there really isn’t a better biteful than a slider and a great vehicle to pretty much get anything into your mouth! 

Between the Buns
Dallas Farmers Market
920 S. Harwood St.
Dallas, TX 75201

There were sliders for every taste and eater. Here are some of the best bites of the day….

Hutchins BBQ – Pulled Pork
If there is one thing Hutchins knows how to do it is BBQ and this slider was no exception. Sauce-laden and juicy to the last bite with a nice crunch from the coleslaw.

Full Circle Tavern – The Italian Stallion
The Italian seasoning was spot on and the peppers added a little bite. Mamma Mia!

Arepa – BBQ Jackfruit Arepa
Shout out to all my vegan and gluten-free foodies! This fluffy corn cake was stuffed full of seasoned jackfruit and jicama slaw. A great change from beef or pork.

Snuffer’s – Bacon Cheddar Slider
Man, I love a poppy seed bun! his baby was filled nicely with a beef patty smothered in Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese and bacon.

Dot’s Hop House – Club Schmitz Burger
Dot’s Hop House pays homage to a Dallas legend with their namesake burger. Two patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and housemade pickles. Club Schmitz would be proud.

Easy Slider – The Mini Mac
Move over golden arches there is new burger in town that has you beat. This double-decker has two angus beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles and special sauce. It is small in stature, but mighty in taste.

The Dapper Doughnut – Strawberry Bella Mini Doughnut
After all that savory goodness it was time for something sweet. Warm and yummy, this mini doughnut was just what I needed to finish off the bevy of burgers.

The inaugural Between the Buns is in the books! Clear your calendars for next year’s event.

DaiLo Brings Chinese with Filipino Flavors to Toronto

DaiLo means ‘big brother’ in Cantonese and DaiLo pays tribute to this in the sense that their dishes pay tribute to traditional Chinese dishes but with a modern update. You may be familiar with DaiLo as their Chef de Cuisine, Chef Dennis Tay, was on Top Chef Canada and Top Chef Canada All Stars! If you have never watched Top Chef Canada, then you must know that DaiLo ranks 18 in the 2017 Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants!  Even prior to all of this, I had heard many beautiful things about this spot and was super excited to go!

DaiLo
503 College St, Toronto, ON M6J 2J3
http://dailoto.com/

Crispy Octopus Tacos (2pc)

We started out our meal with their Octopus Tacos and Hakka Brown Wontons. These tacos were prepared with super tender fried octopus, red braised pork belly, sambal aioli, jicama shell. Tender pieces of octopus and melt in your mouth pork belly wrapped in a paper thin jicama shell, provide a great combination of texture. While throwing in the slightly spicy but creamy sambal aioli, helps balance out the flavours and adds that extra oomph.

Hakka Brown Wontons (pork & shrimp)

 

While their Hakka Brown Wontons were a play on traditional pork and shrimp wontons. These wontons were covered in their house xo sauce and toasted sesame oil; every bite was wonderfully coated in the sauce that when you would pop in a wonton, it would just explode with flavour.

 

 

Special: Steamed European Sea Bass

The first entree we ordered was a special of the day, their Steamed European Sea Bass. This is another traditional dish that even Filipinos dine on as well! It is one of my favourite ways of consuming fish! Traditionally, steamed fish has a sauce mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil; this steamed fish is in a soy sauce glaze with boiled sesame oil poured over. When they poured the sesame oil table side, you just get such a beautiful scent of sesame oil and hear the sizzle as the oil hits the fish and garnishes. The sea bass was super tender that the meat pulled away so easily and would melt in your mouth. The soy sauce glaze and sesame oil add a bit of sweetness and a nuttiness to the otherwise simple, clean flavours of the sea bass.

Olliffe’s 90 Day Dry Aged Rib Eye (12oz)

Next is definitely a pleaser, their 90 Day Dry Aged Rib Eye. This beautiful cut of meat is from a local butcher shop, Olliffe’s, that source their meat from local farmers within Ontario, Saskatchewan and PEI. This rib eye was is presented along side bok choy, radish, pickled mushroom and black bean bagna cauda. The rib eye, itself, was super tender and melted in your mouth with every bite. Having a bite of the rib eye along with the savoury black bean bagna cauda could prove to be too rich, which why the pickled mushrooms and radish are there to help cut the richness and help balance the dish.

Truffle Fried Rice

Of course, a staple in Asian cuisine is the rice! You must have rice with your meal in order for it to be complete! Welcome the Truffle Fried Rice. This fried rice consists of black truffle, egg, carrots, edamame, puffed rice and a side of xo sauce. I definitely wish there was more xo sauce of this plate of deliciousness! This dish starts off to taste like your usual fried rice, until you get little crispy bites of the puffed rice, the earthiness of the black truffle and top off the bite with the flavour packed xo sauce. So addicting, so good; has the most difficult time trying to not devour the entire plate myself.

Dessert: Their take on a Filipino treat called Champorado

I know I said that your meal is not complete without rice, but let’s be real, even though the rice would complete my meal I always have room for dessert! This dessert is a play on a Filipino dish called, Champorado. Now this dish is traditionally a rice chocolate pudding and is typically eaten for breakfast but can definitely be consumed any time of the day. DaiLo’s take on champorado consists of chocolate pudding, cocoa crispies, chocolate polvoron (Filipino shortbread), white rabbit candy ice cream and salted caramel. This is a chocolate lovers dream while combining all good sweet things of my childhood. This dessert does get a tad bit sweet but consuming some of the polvoron helped to balance out the sweetness. Maybe textures were at play and provides a very pleasing experience while indulging on your sweet tooth.

I highly recommend DaiLo, not only for it’s Asian flavours and French twist but also because it is a local restaurant that is doing it big

Chainsmoker Urban Smoked Meats in Toronto

Chainsmoker is Toronto’s newest smokehouse offering straight up real smoked meats with a chill atmosphere. They have just opened a few days again and I am hooked! They are still working out what works for them, so I am definitely planning on dropping by here and there to see what new thing has been added. Now, I do not know much about interior design but I do know that the furniture used and the mix-match of furniture really does set the mood as a place where you can relax, eat with your hands and just feel at home.

Chainsmoker
The Spread

Not only do they serve up amazing smoked meats but they also serve delicious sides to complete your meal. We opted for the classic roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts (yes, that is steamed rice in the bottom corner but the vegetables look yummier).

Sides: Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Roasted Cauliflower

I have always been a huge fan of roasted vegetables, especially Brussels sprouts and cauliflower! The crispier the better! Chainsmoker makes their roasted vegetables very simply by roasting and seasoned with their house spices. The Brussels sprouts are well roasted that they are still a bit soft in the inside but there is a nice crunch to the exterior. While the cauliflower is a bit soft in the stalks but the little flowers are like crunchy little nuggets. Throughout our meal, I would continue to pick on these even after I was super full from the meats.

Side: Jalapeno Cornbread

Two words, JALAPENO CORNBREAD. LOVE. You have no idea how much I truly did enjoy this; so much so that I would continue to lovingly whisper “I love cornbread” after every other sentence while I was chatting with my boyfriend. It is such a struggle to find some legit “crunchy on the outside, soft and moist in the instead and actually taste like corn” cornbread in this city. I wish I just bought them out but the funds were running low by the end of the day! Although Chainsmoker specialize in their smoked meats, I just love cornbread so much that I would definitely come by solely to buy cornbread. (No shame)

Smoked Wings

Enough of the sides, I should probably get to some actual meat. We had a few options but will mention two via photos for you. First up, is their smoked wings. These bad boys are smoked up to 1 hour which give them just enough smoke without overpowering. Drench these guys in their BBQ sauce that is offered at the table and you got yourself some smoky BBQ wings.

Braised Beef Ribs

Next up are their Braised Beef Ribs! These are like dinosaur ribs! They are so moist, so meaty and just one rib is enough! The meat was fall off the bone tender and melt in your mouth good. Would definitely come back to have a rib and pack one for lunch the next day.

Look at the size of this rib!
Citrus Custard Pie on Oreo Crust

Now, what’s a great meal without a sweet treat to wrap it up? Chainsmoker is still in the process of finalizing their current dessert of a citrus custard pie on Oreo crust but we were lucky enough to get a taste! The citrus custard is sweet but tart and has an overall creamy light texture while the top is bruleed to add that extra bit of sweetness to balance the tart. To balance out the sweet and tart, the chocolately Oreo crust adds that extra richness to smooth all the flavours out.

Chainsmoker Urban Smoked Meats has just warmed up and we hear that there will be other great options coming our way! Be sure to follow and check them on Instagram and Facebook to be up to date and see what they have in store.

Lauren’s Last Bite Takes Over London

There’s no need to dread turning 35 if you do it with an epic trip to London. Turn up!! Turn up!! If you read any of my previous posts, you will recall I was living in Puerto Rico. I have since relocated back to Washington D.C. I love to travel as often as I can, but I am frugal. I would much rather spend my hard-earned moolah on food and cocktails! It is cheaper to book a flight out of NYC to London, which gave me the opportunity to try the ‘Purple Amethyst Latte’ at The End in Brooklyn. This vegan latte was a berry-infused, antioxidant rich, mood lifting drink with ube and a touch of lavender honey! This coffee shop offers a couple of energizing drinks as alternatives to coffee at their “Plant Alchemy Bar”. They are also famous for their ‘Unicorn Latte’.

Upon landing in London, a city known for its abundance of Michelin starred restaurants, I didn’t know which one to choose.  Luckily there were a few near my hotel. Another plus about London’s bevy of Michelin starred restaurants is that most of them are open for lunch and offer a prix fixe option that won’t blow your food budget. Unfortunately, I have a food budget AND a drink budget. My drink budget has been known to be loftier than my food budget. I chose the Typing Room’. It was modern, sleek, yet still approachable. I ‘day-dressed up’, but other diners were more casually dressed.  The food was stellar and the open kitchen gave way to a wonderful show. It was raining (duh, I was in London) and I ate a little heavier than usual for lunch. Venison, braised cabbage two ways with yogurt and demi-glace. The venison was so tender that no knife was needed.

Venison Medallions, Cabbage 2 ways, Spiced Yogurt and Demi Glace

Blown away by the service, food and the experience at Typing Room, I couldn’t leave London without checking another Michelin starred restaurant off my list. I love some fusion and StreetXO was highly recommended. This was a Spanish/Asian fusion. Ok, I can dig it. No surprise I started with a celebratory drink. They had me at vodka, St. Germain and that big a** glass. StreetXO has a variety of tasting menus, but being alone I was able to order a la carte. YAY!!! I had the “club” sandwich. Being a former Boricua, I couldn’t resist a croquette. These were a perfect mix of Spanish/Asian fusion: kimchi, raw salmon, trout roe, Lapsang Souchong tea, and sheep’s milk. These were perfect from the first dribble-down-your-chin-I-don’t-care-I-am-in-public bite. It was THAT good. The menu looked so good. I want to go back with more people and devour the entire menu…twice!  Most of the clientele were Spaniards. I loved this, because you know if natives are eating there it is legit. This also let me know how far my Spanish has regressed since living in Puerto Rico. 

“Club Sandwich” from StreetXO
Croquettes with kimchi, trout roe

I fell for the hype and went to the ICEBAR in London. It is exactly what you imagine…a bar with everything made of ice: the bar, the glassware, the seats, EVERYTHING. I’m guessing it’s an improbability that they ever run out of ice.  At the door you are greeted with ski jackets to keep you insulated in the constant brisk -5 Celsius temperature. It’s as cold as it sounds and your jacket comes with gloves attached. BRRRRRRR. I’m having cold flashbacks. It was a cool spot (literally and figuratively). The bar is sponsored by ABSOLUT and each year the inside has a different theme. When I visited it was a zoo them. Gorillas, zebras and tigers, oh my! I’ll be honest, I was a bit too cold to take it all in. Even the cute bartender with the sexy, South African accent couldn’t coax me into staying. Look me up when you have a job in a temperate climate.

treacle tart

As always, I will conclude with my last bite. I will go back to London for the ‘treacle tart’ from Boxcar Butcher and Grill. From my understanding, treacle is term for molasses, but is also slang for sweetheart. This tart had a sweet/salty combo from a dusting of caramel corn. All I can say is, “WTF?” Where’s the Food?

Cute Bartender @Icebar in London

D Spot Dessert Cafe in Etobicoke, Toronto

Can you ever have too much dessert? Nah, there is no such thing! Luckily, if you are not too fond of dessert, D Spot Dessert Cafe has got you covered with many savoury meals. D Spot Dessert Cafe has a multitude of sweet and savoury dishes to curb anyone’s cravings of the day!

D Spot Dessert Cafe
1060 The Queensway, Etobicoke, ON M8Z 1P7
http://dspotdessert.com/
https://www.instagram.com/dspotcafequeensway/
https://www.instagram.com/dspotcafe/

Jessica (@TOFoodieFriends) and the cafe owner Rahim, giving their opening remarks

We were given the opportunity to try D Spot Dessert Cafe through a media event hosted by @TOFoodieFriends. This cafe has been open for 2.5 months with many other locations covering all corners of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Their menu comprises of in-house made ice cream, crepes and waffles all while using their own house recipes.

Butter Chicken Poutine

Before I get to the sweets, let’s begin with a Canadian treat, POUTINE. If you do not know what a poutine is, it is basically fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. Poutine is life to me (along with many many other dishes). D Spot Cafe’s butter chicken poutine completely satisfied my usual poutine craving and my longing for butter chicken. The fries were crispy but had that perfect softness, mixed with the rich gravy, perfect squeaky cheese curds and butter chicken, just makes the perfect bite each time.

Mexican Dream Crepe: A home made crepe filled with chipotle chicken, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, green onions and roasted red peppers, served with a side of sour cream.

The next savoury dish we tried was their Mexican Dream Crepe. This crepe was everything you would expect and more. The chipotle chicken had just enough spice to give you a little kick while all the sauteed vegetables provided the cooling and sweetness to balance it out. Not to mention, how perfect the crepe was in texture and flavour!

COOKIELIOUS

Now onto a sweet thang! This here is the COOKIELICIOUS, a monstrous dessert that contains warm chocolate chip molten cookie and a Belgian waffle, topped with cookie dough bits, brownie bits, cookie dough ice cream and a drizzle of Belgian milk chocolate. Although it may seem like sweet on sweet, the in house made waffle and ice cream balance out the sweetness. The waffles were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and chewy in the centre, while the brownie and cookie dough bits had the perfect texture and were not cloyingly sweet.

A BIT OF BOTH

Do you love pancakes? How about waffles? Why not have BOTH, with the “A Bit of Both”?! This sweet treat contains buttermilk pancakes and fresh Belgian waffle, topped with strawberries, marshmallows and strawberry ice cream finished with white Belgian chocolate drizzle. A Bit of Both was definitely contained a much better balance between the sweet and savoury for those that do not have too much of a sweet tooth. The waffles were just as great as the ones on the Cookielicious and the pancakes were nice and fluffy! Throw in the little marshmallows, fresh strawberry, strawberry ice cream and white chocolate drizzle, these toppings remind you that it is indeed a sweet treat!

D Spot Dessert Cafe not only serves desserts but they also have many savoury options! Whether you want lunch, dinner or dessert D Spot Cafe has what you are looking for!

Party Ideas for the Best Galentine’s Day Ever!

Happy Galentine’s Day from Girls on Food!

Welcome to our first official Galentine’s Day Party Guide 2018! Although it’s not technically an official holiday, we at Girls on Food can’t help but indulge in this very special day to celebrate our favorite ladies!

With Galentine’s Day approaching us on Tuesday, February 13th, and Valentine’s Day following the next day, we wanted to provide you with a few of our favorite party items and ideas to help you plan the ultimate Galentine’s Day celebration- the kind Leslie Knope would be impressed with.

There are many exclusive promo codes and deals in this party guide, so you can try many of these products at discounted prices! Be sure to keep an eye for them and any notes on expiration dates.

First: Send an American Greetings e-card to get your girl-squad pumped

The party invites have already gone out, your guest list is set and it’s the morning of Tuesday, February 13th. What better way to get your friends pumped for the party that night by sending them an American Greetings e-card?

Forget sappy, snail mail greeting cards of the past, American Greetings has an array of options that will make your galpals chuckle. Our favorites are the Smooth Hamster and the Michael Bolton e-cards.

The best part of American Greetings e-cards is that they have a monthly membership option, and you can send unlimited e-cards, no matter what the occasion is. It covers all your bases, letting someone special know you’re thinking about them and in a way that’s so much easier, creative and doesn’t leave an ecological footprint.

Use this link to receive a FREE 7-Day Trial Subscription at AmericanGreetings.com!

Then: Plan The Party

A better version of the little black book from 27 Dresses, the Panda Planner is a necessity for having a stress-free life and a perfectly organized Galentine’s dinner party. Combine that with a Maria Shireen bracelet to dress up your hair ties and a modern Snowe candle for ambiance and you’re in perfect party-planning mode! Want your own? Use the code MSxGOF for 15% off qualified bracelets, and GOFPANDA for 10% off your own planner, February 2nd through March 2nd!

Get That Kitchen Organized

Take a trip to your happy place, the Container Store, to get your home extra organized! We recommend customizing your drawer organizer (or using their starter kit) to avoid any embarrassment when your dinner guests go through your drawers for an extra piece of silverware. Go one step further by installing drawer liners that repel dirt and water, prevent sliding and add an extra layer to the design! I used the InterDesign Linus drawer organizer starter kit to organize my Littledeer wooden utensils, Centellino wine decanter, Chemex handles, chambray cocktail napkins, and Pottery Barn copper handled flatware.

You’ll need oven mitts that match your sassy attitude and are still functional when handling that hot stuff. Blue Q’s Oven Mitts are super-insulated 100% cotton and a percentage of their sales are donated to hunger relief programs throughout the world. Elevate your kitchen accessory game even further by pairing a Le Creuset Cerise Red Signature Saucepan with Littledeer’s Hand-Made Heart Paddle for love in the kitchen, and you’re ready to begin cooking!

Prepare Your Floral Arrangements

As can be assumed for any Galentine’s/Valentine’s Day event, flowers are a MUST! The Flower Chef by Carly Cylinder is a modern guide to do-it-yourself floral arrangements. With plenty of imagery and easy to follow instructions, you’ll be a pro florist just in time!

Set The Table

Here are some of the basics for setting a table:

  1. Place utensils in order of use, from the outside in (salad forks are left of dinner forks, and spoons are to the right of dinner knifes)
  2. Forks go on the left of the plate, and knives and spoons go to the right
  3. Only include utensils that are needed based on the menu you’re serving (if you’re not serving soup, don’t put out the soup spoon).

My favorite themed flatware, that can also be used throughout the year, is the copper handled flatware set from Pottery Barn, which enhances your Galentine’s Day dinner with the handcrafted copper-plated stainless steel. Linen Hemstitch embroidered placements are far more practical than paper lace hearts, and are versatile for formal and casual occasions alike. My favorite ceramic salad and dinner plates are from the Costa Nova Riviera Collection They are safe for the dishwasher, freezer, microwave, and oven! In addition to the impressive craftsmanship, they’re great for everyday use, being that they’re extremely durable, chip-resistant, and thermal-shock resistant.

Host a Bake-Off

One fun way to bond in the kitchen with your girlfriends is to have a bake off! Foodstirs modern baking (Sarah Michelle Gellar is a co-founder) delivers non-perishable, organic dry ingredients, all natural decorations, and chemical-free dyes to make tasty treats. Their Baker’s Club is a bi-monthly subscription that features fun kits like the Sweetheart Brownies (seen in image). You can also purchase fun individual baking kits such as Rainbow Cake Pops and Out of This World Donuts. Making these brownies was so easy and I cannot wait to try their other kits! These kits are also very fun to inspire little ones to get in the kitchen. Use promo code GIRLSONFOOD for 20% off your first purchase on their site.

 A Stranger Galentine’s

For those of you who cannot get enough of this throwback thriller, why not enter the Upside Down for a theme? Stranger Things inspired costumes, Christmas lights and a round of D & D are musts for this idea. For sweet baked treats, we recommend picking up a copy of Stranger Fillings by the Muffin Brothers (a parody cookbook) for inspiration. We couldn’t resist testing out the book with a banana-blonde wig version of Eleven’s Eggo’s. WARNING: According to a study conducted by Hawkins National Laboratory, the more advanced recipes such as the Demogorgonzola Tartlets, Friends Don’t Li(m)e Pie and The Upside Down Cake could leave guests with telekinetic powers. Collectible figurines by Funko are also fun and are perfect for any fan-girl still mourning the loss of Barb.

Vino Vixens

You’re going to need all of the essentials for a wine-centric night:
1) For aerating and chilling your whites and roses to the perfect temperature, the icicle-looking Corkcicle Air is inserted directly into the bottle after being in the freezer for 90 minutes. Use the code GIRLSONFOOD for 20% off products on the Corkcicle site, now through March 31st!
2) To avoid the guesswork for your wine purchasing, order from Winc to have 4 bottles shipped to your doorstep based on the flavor profiles you know you love. For a limited time only, use the code GIRLSONFOOD for $25.00 off your first order of Winc!
3) The online store Wine Enthusiast carries all of the best wine glassware lines, including Zafferano and Fusion. The Zafferano Red Wine Glasses are uniquely shaped and remarkably lightweight and perfectly suited for bold and aged reds with the narrow opening of the mouth maximizing aroma and a generous bowl promotes oxidation for the wines to breathe. The handblown crystal Fusion Air Wine Glasses are also exceptionally lightweight with a large bowl, while also being dishwasher safe and remarkably break-resistant (if you break it, they’ll replace it for free up with a 10-year guarantee)!
4) To help guests keep track of their wine glass, the uniquely shaped Palm City wine charms are both fun and functional, with fun themed designs such as Beachy and Wine Lovers! Use code GIRLSONFOOD for free shipping and 15% off your entire Palm City order, now through March 2nd!
5) To avoid wasting any time opening a bottle of wine, the Original Rabbit Corkscrew pulls a cork in 3 seconds and then automatically releases the cork making it the most efficient opener in your collection!

Brew Up Some Fun! 

You’re about to start enjoying your craft beers and carbonated beverages in a whole new way. Become a bartender wherever you go. Unlike traditional growlers, the pressurized GrowlerWerks uKeg uses a CO2 canister to keep your beers fresh for up to two weeks after your first pour. Pro tip: Make sure to have your 33 Bottles of Beer tasting book handy for notes on the contents of each uKeg! For your own copper plated keg, use code uGIRLSONFOOD for free shipping via U.S. Ground; expires at midnight on March 2nd.

Tea Time

Being realistic, following the wine you’re going to want to wind down with a nice cup of tea and honey. One of my personal favorites is the Blackberry Sage by the Republic of Tea, which pairs perfectly with the elegantly packaged healing Manuka Honey from Kiwi Importer (raw honey made from bees that feed on the Manuka tree). Note, if you create an account with Kiwi Importer, you receive $5 off your first purchase!

Cool Beans

With dessert (or with clean up the morning after) you’re going to want to serve delicious, quality coffee. And now that specialty coffee shops ship their beans nationwide, you can pre-order your single origin just in time for your event! I personally love Ritual Coffee, based in San Francisco, for their bright red packaging and seasonal beans that make for perfect drip coffee in a Chemex.

Time For Desserts 

Treat your gals to sweets on themed Galentine’s Day dessert plates by Nicole Miller Home, sold exclusively at T.J.Maxx. Don’t forget to elevate your candy game and have a few of your favorite Sugarfina boxes on hand for snacking! After all, Valentine’s Day and Galentine’s Day are times to indulge; with delicious and unique flavors such as “Cheers To Us” Champagne Bears and “Love You a Bunch” But First, Rosé Roses, who could resist?

An Option For The Health-Nut

We all have that one gal-pal who insists on following her diet throughout Valentine’s Day. While we may not have the same willpower as she does, we can try to let her clean-eating influence us a little. Serving an array of Siren Snacks at your party will keep her happy and allows you to indulge in a tasty guilt-free treat. These plant-based protein bites (12 grams per serving) are dairy-free, gluten-free, GMO-free and soy-free and contain no artificial colors or sweeteners. This is also a girl-powered company, founded by sisters Elizabeth and Abigail Giannuzzi from San Francisco. There’s plenty of variety in flavors with Dark Chocolate Brownie, Cookie Dough and Snickerdoodle, but our favorite flavor is the Lemon Poppyseed; a sweet and zesty break from the traditional protein bars. Use promo code GIRLSONFOOD for 20% off your first purchase on their site.

Keeping It Clean

If you’re hosting a party, you must be sure guests have the option to use hand sanitizers before digging into their favorite finger foods, but don’t you hate it when those ugly anti-bac bottles are on the table? Enter: OLIKA 2-in-1 hand sanitizers. These adorable little “Birdies” keep your mitts clean with a hand sanitizing spray that is a push spray at top half of the bird and hands wipes at the base of the bird. Use promo code: GIRLSONFOOD for 10% off OLIKA purchase ($15 minimum) on their site.

Got a friend with a major sweet tooth? Be sure to check out Double D’s Truffles & Treats for an assortment of handmade chocolates. Ten dollars will get you a 15 piece gift-wrapped box and you get to customize the flavors in the box. Plus – this chocolatier, is able to create flavors by request and have them shipped to your door.

A “Happy Ending” 😉 

Have you checked out Sugary Charm’s Kama Sutra Collection? Known for their more PG-rated cookie cutters, they have recently expanded into a naughtier line of cookie cutters. Unlike standard metal cookie cutters, these are made with food safe materials (PLA- a biodegradable, plant-based plastic, FDA-approved) and, even better, they imprint the dough perfectly. Check out their site for options and use promo code GIRLSONFOOD for 25% off your Kama Sutra cookie cutters purchase.

Start your free trial now!

This post is sponsored by American Greetings on behalf of PepperJam Networks; all opinions expressed are our own. 

Galentine’s Day French Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling

As soon as the holidays are over, the seasonal aisle is letting us all know Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. While I’m not much for Valentine’s Day, I don’t know what I would have done without my best ladies these past couple years! So, I’ll be celebrating them this Galentine’s Day!

I can’t think of a sweeter way to spread a little love to my best gals than French Macarons (or Macaroons).

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Baked Pumpkin Spice Pudding: A Warm Treat From Our Friend Up North

Sure, pumpkin pie may seem like a strictly Thanksgiving-time treat but then poof…its gone. What happens for the rest of the year? Especially during late-winter when we’re craving that delicious, warm, treat? I think I found something to tie us over in these frigid months, especially in this Canadian -10 weather.

Now, I’m not a total “pumpkinhead.” Pumpkin is a hit or miss ingredient for me as well. Pumpkin pie= hit. Pumpkin latte= miss. I also don’t like raisins on their own (that’s a hard no from me) but I love them when they’re baked, cooked or thrown into a dish with any other ingredients. Combining pumpkin and raisins together is a combination I’m so glad I found. That’s when I fell in love with Baked Pumpkin Spice Pudding.

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Girls on Food’s Foodie Holiday Gift Guide

Happy Holidays from Girls on Food!

Welcome to our holiday gift guide 2017! Being that we still have 6 days left of Hanukkah and 10 days until Christmas, we wanted to provide a few of our wishlist items to help anyone still shopping for the foodies in their life (even if that foodie is yourself) find the perfect gifts! No matter your budget, consider your holiday shopping sorted from us at Girls on Food!

For the Millennial cocktail enthusiast

Copper Drinking Vessels from Absolut Elyx Boutique

Send the perfect gift to the thirsty pal in your life, providing them with Instagram-worthy copper bar tools and drink-ware for every occasion. Shake up the holidays with curated boxes fit for all cocktail lovers, from the iconic Copper Pineapple to the gift sets that satisfy what every liquorist really wants for the holidays: to make fancy and delicious cocktails at home with snazzy copper mugs. After all, #CopperMakesItBetter!
Embracing all the current beverage trends, Moscow Mules, pineapples, engravings, copper-everything, premium drinking vessels and beverage tools, these gift sets are perfect for enhancing any drinking occasion. The official drinking glass of the Moscow Mule, Absolut Elyx’s copper mugs are preferred glassware of not only home mixologists but also of many restaurants and bars, being both perfect at keeping drinks cold while also being extremely photogenic for the ‘Gram. #ad

Check out the Absolut Elyx boutique here.

View slide show below for our other favorite gifts
click on the image for purchasing info

Beer, wine, coffee Cookbook, Organic Cookbook, salad spinner Lollipops Avocado Monthly Manuka Honey, Skincare, Inflamed Skin Spoons Magnets Napkins Star Wars, chop sticks The Paragron Smart Cooking System Christmas Accessories, Sweaters, Christmas Stockings, Wine

 

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Absolut Elyx and other Girls on Food partners. The opinions and text are all mine.

Renzell: The Perfect App For Fine Dining Lovers

The world of foodie apps is like the wild west right now. Developers are striving to become the next big thing, but few apps offer anything unique to stand out from just being a local restaurant directory. I thought I had seen it all with these apps, until GOF blogger Marcie told me to check out an app called Renzell and it has since become my go-to restaurant directory app.

Cocktail from Redbird in LA, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

Why Renzell?

It’s for those with impeccable taste –  What separates Renzell out from the other apps is a restaurant directory that is specifically hand-picked by Renzell staff of fine dining establishments in major metropolitan cities. This app isn’t here to help you find a new coffee shop, it’s to help you find the perfect special occasion spot. Think Marea in NYC, Redbird in LA and Alinea in Chicago.

Be undercover –  Members can rate restaurants anonymously through their surveys, which are scored based off overall numbers, no long write-ups required. Their surveys are broken down into categories like ambiance, service, food and cocktails. What I love about this so much is that it’s not public what scores users gave, so I can quietly and candidly score spots. See full list of restaurants here.

Prove it – There is also more accountability in the scores than other review apps. Members are encouraged to show proof of dining by providing a receipt from their visit. This makes me feel better when I read the scores, cause it’s lessening the likelihood of fake reviews.

Get rewarded! – The more you survey and/or provide proof of receipt, the more goodies you can get! Recent rewards include Starbucks gift cards, SoulCycle classes, a month of free Spotify premium and so much more.

With membership benefits, secure anonymity and consistent app functionality, I will consider myself a “lifer” Renzell member.

  • Featured image – Strozzapreti from Marea in New York, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

James Beard Foundation Presents Taste America: Los Angeles Dinner 2017

On Friday, October 6th, 2017, Vibiana, the former 19th century Cathedral turned prominent event space in Downtown Los Angeles, was taken over by the national non-profit culinary arts organization, the James Beard Foundation and the best in the LA culinary scene. Taste America, the foundation’s 5th annual ten-city touring event, celebrated prolific stars of the food scene.

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