Girls on Food

Reno

Postpartum Weight Loss: The Struggle Is Real

Postpartum weight loss is no joke. Let me just get that statement out of the way.

During my pregnancy, I convinced myself that I was going to eat organic, garden fresh vegetables and follow a very strict eating regime that would fuel my body full of nutrition and not hop on the unhealthy weight train. (While being pregnant, you should never worry about gaining healthy weight and always follow the advice of your physician, let me just clarify myself.) My visions of strolling through Whole Foods and local farmer’s markets were quickly blurred by the bright lights blinding me in the Super Burrito drive-thru.

Pregnancy is beautifully strange. You crave things you never thought you would eat in a million years. Trust me, I became the fast food junkie of Reno, shamelessly devouring double cheeseburgers and smothered chile relleno burritos at random times throughout the day. There are some things you just cannot control, nor would want to.

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The New Way To Buffet – The Atlantis Resort and Casino

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Photo courtesy of Atlantis Casino

As if the Atlantis Resort and Casino weren’t classy enough, they have spent over a million dollars redesigning their Toucan Charlie’s Buffet menu and décor to bring a touch of Las Vegas right here to Reno. Welcome to Reno 2016.

I was invited to a media night last week to get a taste of what the new buffet at the Atlantis had to offer. Upon walking in, the first thing I noticed was all the jungle theme décor was wiped out and replaced with sleek lighting making the buffet brighter, highlighting the food. The color scheme was updated with intense hues of espresso and cream, and the old purple and teal were no longer a thing.

We were sat promptly and quickly grabbed the blank canvases which were the starting point of the evening. Blank canvases? Yeah, I am talking about the warm, lovely white china plates that patiently await your culinary desires.

I noticed all of the lively stations such as the Sauté and Grille, Far East, Asian Wok, Pho, Expansive Carvery, Charcuterie sliced premium meats and cheeses, Custom Salads, Savory Sea Fare and Southwest. As I strolled down what I considered being my version of the Wonka Factory, I noticed that the salad bars were updated with fresh and exotic creations that were eye-teasing and palate pleasing. One salad especially caught my eye which was the mango, shaved fennel and mint salad which was fresh and light.

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As I continued my journey down buffet lane, the ethnic stations also stepped up their game. At the Hispanic counter, giant meatballs were floating around in broth known as Albondigas Soup. Typically at buffets, I stay away from the soups because they are either severely over salted or traumatically bland, but this soup brought the heat, spice and everything nice. Because I was shocked at how tasty the soup was, I indulged in a second bowl.

What I respect and love about the newly redesigned buffet, was there were healthier options available, and clearly something for everyone. From the prime rib carving station to the marinated beet salad and lastly the indulgent dessert island, I am sure you will be pleased with the numerous options available to you.

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I would like to extend a big Thank You to Tracie Barnthouse, publicist for the Atlantis Casino for the invitation to experience an authentic 4 Diamond experience. The Atlantis Resort and Casino new Buffet stepped up their game and are blowing their competitors out of the water. Swing by and taste the experience for yourself,  you will genuinely be satisfied.

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Toucan Charlie's Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cold Water Brewery – South Lake Tahoe, CA

Cold Water Brewery and Grill
2544 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
http://www.tahoecoldwaterbrewery.com

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Shame on me! I have been to enough breweries and even worked for a few that always seem to be pretentious and snotty. At Cold Water Brewery, I was thrown completely for a loop, in a positive way!

Upon entering, the facility is extremely tidy and clean with kegs out front and unique hand painted “Rules” sign that keep everyone on the same page. We were greeted instantly by a server who seemed very busy but took the time to stop, greet us and ask if we had a seating preference. It was nice, he could have very easily acted too busy to acknowledge us and continue with his task, but he didn’t.  He brought us menus and told us our server; Ramsay would be right with us.

As we were glancing over the menu, we noticed the atmosphere was lively, and everyone seemed to be enjoying their company and food. You will find an eager staff proudly making suggestions of their best dishes and brews. Their upbeat attitudes vibe throughout the brewery. They have big flat screen TV’s everywhere and being today was Sunday, of course, football was on.

IMG_2386Our server Ramsay came over to greet us and introduce himself. He took our order promptly and helped my husband with his beer selection, and me with my lunch entrée. I was torn between a grilled chicken sandwich with gouda cheese and the Fish N Chips. Ramsay put a spin on both scenarios, after careful deliberation, I chose the Fish n Chips.

The brewery started to fill up and the staff quickly adjusted to the busy pace. Our drinks never went empty, and the service was always prompt. The entrees came out in a timely manner, and they were eye candy! The Fish N Chips were accompanied by parmesan truffle fries that were rich and flavorful. The Fish N Chips were lightly battered in their Rye beer and then fried lightly to a perfect crisp. They were not greasy at all! The cod was fresh and flaky inside. The flesh was firm, but not overdone by fryers. The tartar sauce had to be homemade. It was creamy and chunky with dill and pickle and of course, a big lemon wedge and bottle of malt vinegar joined our party.
IMG_6918-e1449116053805I was in taste bud bliss. The textures were right, they weren’t soggy and off. The aroma was a teaser, as it should be and the flavors married beautifully on my palette. I was sure of one thing; this Brewery was a fresh catch that everyone MUST know about! FOOD! SERVICE! FLAVORS! FRESH! What more could you ask for?

If you are passing through South Lake Tahoe, live in Reno, or are up for a day drive to get some fantastic grub, I strongly urge you to make your way over to Cold Water Brewery….you will not be disappointed!
Cold Water Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fantasies In Chocolate: Reno’s Yummiest Annual Event!

The night was anxiously awaited by the folks of Reno. The Reno Gazette-Journal puts on an extravagant, black tie costumed wine tasting and chocolate sampling event called Fantasies in Chocolate, located in the Grand Sierra Casino and Resort. It is THE annual event to attend. The evening was filled with magic, flowing champagne, endless confections, and samplings from the region’s most creative chefs providing uniquely crafted samples of their best work.

IMG_6644This year, I was asked by Reno’s top food and wine extraordinaire, Johnathan L. Wright, to be a part of his judging team at this extravagant event. Johnathan L. Wright is the Food and Drink editor for the Reno Gazette-Journal, and you can find his creative writing at http://www.rgj.com or follow him at @rgjtaste on Instagram or Twitter. Feelings of excitement were an understatement. I was required to sample one of everything at the gala. I kept telling myself only to take a few nibbles from each booth, but that in itself is more challenging than tightrope walking because everything was so incredibly scrumptious.

The judging team consisted of Wright, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, Reno’s sweetheart and table linen designer Kate Patay, local celebrity Chef Clint Jolly and myself. It was an incredible mix of judgment with the highest qualifications.

IMG_6578The ballroom was designed with the most extravagant and delicate décor. All the tables were beautifully designed by Creative Coverings, aka, Kate Patay’s classy touch and the Grand Sierra’s fine banquet staff. I felt like Cinderella walking into a palace. For a minute, you forgot you were even in Reno, NV. The theme was Bohemian Circus this year. A long and beautiful red carpet was awaiting the guests amongst the entrance with two ginormous gold elephants.

 

 

IMG_2118There were contortionist’s beautifully sculpting their bodies with every twist and turn imaginable. I do believe I threw my back out just watching her in amazement. There were ringmasters on stilts, and every guest was genuinely beautifully dressed. It was truly magical.

 

 

 

 

Judging started at The Jungle Coffee booth. Please keep in mind that all opinions are those of my own, and may or may not reflect the other judge’s opinions.

The Jungle – The Jungle served us a smooth and sweet chocolate martini made with local Tahoe Blue Vodka and locally roasted Magpie coffee. The martini wasn’t harsh, it didn’t cut through you, it was smooth and a little touch of liquid heaven on your palette. The Tahoe Blue Vodka most definitely contributed to that velvety blend. The Jungle provided the best libation at the event, in my opinion. (I may or may not have had 6!)  

IMG_6581Rounds Bakery – The booth was filled with a circus candy theme and the gentlemen running the booth were dressed to the max with their fine costumes pairing well. They offered the judges a Cotton Candy French macaron, which was extremely creative and out of the box. After speaking to them more about why they chose cotton candy over chocolate, they explained the theme was Bohemian Circus, and we all know you can find big soft spools of cotton candy at the circus. The French macarons were so fluffy and soft, your teeth sunk right into them with a soft crunch. They also had a salted popcorn stuffed macaron that was also an excellent switch. The booth was colorful and fun; it definitely took you into a circus atmosphere.

 IMG_2086Delicious Designs Delicious Designs won Best Sweet Dish for a large booth. They brought a fireball cupcake that was definitely on fire! The cupcake was moist and not overly sweet. It was truly eye candy. Although that won for the category, they had a HIDDEN SECRET GEM tucked over in the corner that I discovered. It pays to be a nosey little piglet. They had, get ready for it; Buffalo Bleu Cheese Cake dusted popcorn. AHHH!!!! I’m sure the folks of China just heard my scream! I grabbed a bag quickly and shared it with my fellow judges at the judges table. We are relished in the popcorn and even did selfies with it on twitter. Want to see how ridiculously excited we were? Check out the @renotastebuds Twitter account or hashtag #fic2015. It’s epically funny.

Cherry Bomb CateringWe awarded Cherry Bomb Catering Co. with the Best Savory Dish for small booths. Again, jumping on the popcorn train, the Cherry Bomb ladies entered a white chocolate popcorn with subtle hints of lavender and lemon zest. You could taste every component in each crunchy bite. The flavors popped, literally in your mouth. Bravo ladies!  

IMG_2129Whole FoodsAs the judging continued, it was so exciting to experience the uniqueness of the local chefs. Whole Foods brought their “A” game with a Mole toast point slathered with cream cheese, daikon radish micro greens and topped with a dehydrated Mole chip. The judges all agreed that the flavor profiles meshed well together enough to give them the award for the Best Savory Dish for Large Booths. That sample was definitely unforgettable in my book.

 

 

Winey MunkiesGetting back on the chocolate train, Winey Munkies gave the judges a generous portion of chocolate merlot ice cream. It was a sweet treat for my taste buds as I love both ice cream and merlot. The ice cream was creamy, and the merlot gave it a delicate punch. The ice cream left you feeling refreshed and ready for the next sampling. Winey Munkies won for Best Sweet Dish, small booths.  

IMG_6583Best decorated small booth this year went to Reno Provisions! They carefully crafted every detail of the Lion Cage and spent their time and energy on providing what we thought was, in fact, an exciting booth that made the guests want to see what they were all about. I also spent the night telling everyone, including the Mayor, Hillary Schieve, how incredible their chocolate chip cookies are. I would put them up against anyone in this entire country and bet money they would make a clean sweep! They are a MUST for their cookies and pastries.

 

 

Last but certainly far from least, the Grand Sierra Resort took our breaths away with their magical and show-stopping display. We presented the Best Decorated Large Booth to the GSR because they had thousands of tiny delicate confections and cake pops filled with rich chocolate ganache to offer amongst a faux contortionist dangling from above their table in beautiful jewels.  

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By now, you can tell the evening was a total success. There was dancing, music, incredibly tasty food, flowing libations and of course, an outstanding community that made this event the talk of the town.

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Thank you again to Johnathan L. Wright for having me as his guest and judge and thank you to all the new friends I made for making your acquaintance. Fantasies in Chocolate was a night always to remember, and I look forward to what next year’s theme and event will bring.

Renotastebud’s Zoodle Pho

“Are you Pho real?” Is what I asked the Dr. when he told me if I didn’t start cleaning up my eating habits I would have a stroke by the time I was 40. I was born to eat rich, decadent food. This is what I know, what I do for a living and what I am good at. Healthy food…seriously? Like cardboard brown rice and some bullshit vegetable? While it’s definitely ok to indulge and enjoy life, with my personal lifestyle and family genes, it’s best I clean it up a tad and behave myself.

I did research upon research and I discovered a program called the Whole30 through a fellow Girls On Food sister, Alex.  I have been on a Whole 30 approved lifestyle the last 20 days and have to say I am extremely impressed with the results and the options you have to choose from and how delicious my food still is. It has brought the chef back to life forcing me to create healthier dishes that are still flavor indulgent.  Today I was in the mood for a little Pho, but knew if I went out, I would have no clue what was really going into my bowl.

With that being said, I created my own clean version. Instead of using noodles, I grabbed a few zucchini’s, spiraled them with my fabulous Vegetti, and made “zoodles” instead. Check out the recipe below!

Renotastebud’s Zoodle Pho

Ingredients:

  • 1 Yellow Onion – Medium Diced
  • 1 cup shaved Carrots
  • 1 lb Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Zoodles (Using a spiraler, or vegetti, twist two medium sized zucchinis into the tool and get “noodles”
  • Roasted Chicken (optional)
  • Cilantro- minced
  • 1 cup Bean Sprouts
  • Lime wedges
  • Basil leaves
  • 64 oz. Organic Chicken Broth
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Pinch Sea Salt
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 bunch Bok Choy

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Preparation:

In a stock pot over medium heat, pour 2 tbsp. of olive oil and sauté chicken, diced onion, sliced shiitake mushrooms and carrots. When the vegetables start to turn translucent and release their juices (approx. 4-6 mins) add salt and pepper. (To taste, I use a generous pinch) Gently add your zoodles, and bean sprouts, and then chicken stock. Bring to a gentle boil, we don’t want to break the noodles. Keep the heat at medium low, so you can continue to develop the flavors of the onion, mushrooms and carrots for approximately 30 minutes. The last 5 minutes, add your bok choy, you will want to this to remain a bright green color.

Carefully spoon the pho into a bowl, and then top with minced cilantro, diced green onion, basil leaves and lime wedges.  Enjoy!

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Prost!: Bavarian World in Reno

Bavarian World brought Germany right to the biggest little city, Reno, NV. This 15,000 sq. ft. restaurant/dance hall/market is located right in the middle of downtown Reno, educating our locals on what real German cuisine is made of.

Bavarian World 
595 Valley Road, Reno, NV 89512
http://bavarianworld.com

BVW4Klaus, the owner, will spend hours talking with you about anything you want to talk about. After a few Spaten premium lagers, we discussed politics, God, the economy, the government, presidential candidates, unemployment and home made pretzels (everything you’re not supposed to talk about while drinking). Dagmar, the very knowledgeable German native waitress, is very informative, proud and will school you on her menu. She laughed from deep within her gut when my husband asked if the weiner schnitzel on the menu was the same as the fast food joint. I have no doubt in my mind she would kick his ass in a heartbeat!

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We started off with the sausage sampler, and then ordered the Jaeger Schnitzel which came with red wine vinegar braised cabbage, potato pancakes, and the breaded veal with the homemade gravy smothered on top. Our dinner also came with an incredibly tasty beef soup. We commented how “homemade” the soup and food was and Dagmar replied with, “There’s no Campbell soup here!”

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BVW1The food was extremely authentic and the service was entertaining and helpful. Make sure to stop off at the market. They have an entire counter filled with homemade German pastries and pretzels. We seriously bought $30 worth of goodies. They were sinfully delicious and were crafted with pride and love.

Bavarian World Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Squeeze Play: Reno, Nevada’s Squeeze In

I am going to start this review off by admitting I have an unhealthy addiction to this funky, unique breakfast joint. I literally just told my husband this morning if I had to choose between a knock out sex crazed bikini body or the eggs benny that Squeeze In puts out, you would find me sitting in Heidi’s section eating my eggs benny in my yoga pants with yolk stains smeared across my cheeks.

Squeeze In
5020 Las Brisas
Reno, NV 89523
http://www.squeezein.com

We just recently discovered this place a few months ago. We see the lines packing out of the place every weekend and decided we should wait it out and see what all the fuss was. Bobby Flay threw down with their owner and Squeeze In was featured on the Food Network…that’s huge for Reno.

squeeze in1The first time we ate here, Heidi was our server and she was very informative giving us a tour of the menu and sharing what dishes were guest favorites. I ordered the chocolate covered bacon, (because who wouldn’t order that to try it?!?) and a Nebraska Rae omelet which had cream cheese, avocado and bacon all blanketed inside the fluffy egg. The coffee was really good, (you can’t have a breakfast joint with crappy coffee) and the atmosphere was upbeat and friendly.

***This is where the addiction begins***

Very shortly after that first visit, I had this craving for the restaurant. Not necessarily for the food, but for the experience they give you when you are their guest. Hubs and I showed up again, waited in line, and were sat in Heidi’s section again. Now lets talk about Heidi…

Heidi is a very friendly, upbeat server who works her tail off. She is always on top of the service she provides to you and makes sure your coffee cup never goes empty. She provides recommendations based on what you like, and makes you feel like you are an ole’ timer every time you walk in by greeting you by name. Heidi is to the service industry as Jane Fonda was to aerobics in the 80’s. Her performance is tight, on point and is always flashing a smile while providing satisfactory results.

Ok, back to the visit. I was really craving some egg’s benedict, and was eyeballing the veggie benny. I asked her opinion on it, and she told me it’s good, but really good if you add bacon to it. Done. Shortly after, it arrived. (Insert angels singing) The eggs benedict I have searched for all my life. Here were two very large and tasty English muffins, toasted to pure perfection. Not burnt, not soggy, but crisp with an outer browning on the edges. The butter just melted right into those little nook and crannies and if it couldn’t really get any better, it does. There is cream cheese slathered from east coast to west coast. On top, sits three bouncy, perfectly rounded poached eggs smothered with hollandaise that has just the right touch of lemon juice, fresh tomatoes, gently wilted spinach, avocados and the bacon I had added. On the side, there are crisp potatoes served “Otis Style” with onions and cheese. I know you are trying to imagine this, but you really just have to experience it for yourself.

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The staff all works together in perfect unison like a carefully led orchestra. They all have each other’s back, and you can tell each one is carefully focused on providing the best guest service they possibly can.

I am so grateful to have such a dynamite breakfast place like this to roll in to every weekend. The staff, food and atmosphere is an all around top notch establishment and I urge you to experience it for yourself. Paris may have Maxim’s, Birdlands to NY, but Reno has Squeeze In and I am damn proud of it! Feel free to say hi if you ever stop in…I am the one along the wall in the yolk stained yoga pants with the veggie bacon eggs benny!
Squeeze In Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lick My Ribs: Best of the West Rib Cook Off, Reno NV

The morning breeze was crisp and the air was filled with the smell of smoky BBQ. The song, “It’s the MOST,  wonderful time, of the yeeeeeear” was blasting within my noggin as I knew, it was time for the Best of the West Rib Cook Off.

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Every year, my husband, friends and I strategize how we will possibly sample every single rib vendor, and then cop a squat and argue over ice cold Bud Lights with bbq sauce plastered all over our faces seriously debating which vendor stole the show.  We then cast our votes, and anxiously await the results. Ok, now that you get the jist of what this is, let me give you the guts and glory of the annual Best of the West Rib Cook Off.

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“Too Legit Too Quit” by MC Hammer was proudly bumpin in the car for the ribbn’ pre-funk party. The essential fanny pack was loaded and ready to go. Cash, ID and more cash. One of my favorite things about the Rib cook off, besides the ribs of course, is the shopping vendors. Its not your typical street fair with the same junk being sold at the flea market down the street. I always find the most custom, unique gifts at this event and typically get 70% of my Christmas shopping done at this time. Not to mention I usually pick up a new set of shades that rock my face pretty tough! This year… I found cat eyes. Score! Here is our previous years find:

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First and foremost, hands down my favorite no questions asked or you get punched in the face, Desperado’s BBQ is my repeated favorite. I am like the kid at Chuck E. Cheeses who gets released into blinky light game land. I basically run towards the usually long line with that stupid happy smile on my face with my mouth wide open. It’s not cute. I wait in line, invading the personal space of the poor person in front of me. In my mind, it makes it seem like the line is moving faster. Closer and closer, one by one I make my way to the front of the line. “A taster and Mac N Cheese Please” as my eyeballs are moving a million miles a second as I watch all the pitmasters slather sauce all over the racks of ribs that are cookin’ low ‘n slow.  Once you get your grub, it doesn’t end there. You go over to their self serve BBQ station, and drown your ribs in their signature sauces.

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Desperado BBQ Co., located in Hinckley, OH has always been my favorite because their meat is crisp, the rub is spiced just right and the their sauce has the smoke and glory you would expect to find at any pit master competition. This is the real deal people. Look for yourself and try to tell me your mouth isn’t watering right now.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1038After taste testing nearly every BBQ Co., I have to give a huge shout out to my new bestie, Bourbon Q straight from Westport, Kentucky.  I noticed a gal who was working pretty hard grilling the ribs over in the corner.

 

I love bourbon, so why not stand in line and order a rib taster? After talking with the staff for a bit and introducing myself as a Girls On Food blogger, they were kind enough to offer me one of their signature products. Pig wings. Pig Wings? They are made from the shank – a single bone surrounded by lean, tender meat. Think, the filet mignon of pigs marries chicken wings. They were dipped in Bourbon Q’s signature sauce and literally, no freaking joke, fell. off. the. bone.

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Literally, fell off the bone and on the street. They were so good they couldn’t be wasted. My friend and I looked each other quickly and made the crucial split second decision to pick it up and eat it. We just didn’t eat the bottom layer that touched the street. So like vultures picking at road kill, we sat on the curb and silently enjoyed our pig wings.

Yes, it is possible to get sauce on your little piggies!

We managed to make our way through Back Forty, Butchs, Rasta Ribs, Chicago BBQ company and many more. I am still and always will be in love with Desperados, with Bourbon Q right next to them. Seriously, those pig wings though.

Did I mention there is also a carnival? Here’s a word of advice, do NOT, go on the rides after you are stuffed and full of bbq. My very energetic side kick forced me against my will to participate in this vertigo madness and it wasn’t pretty. She kept laughing as though she was crawling from under the fire pits of hell as she spun us ferociously round and round and I screamed loud enough to scare all the innocent children away. So please, hit the carnival first and if you don’t like carny rides, don’t bring a friend that does!IMG_1069

That wraps up my 2015 Rib Cook Off experience. I am completely impressed with everything the competitors brought to the table this year and already can’t wait until next year. The competition continues to heat up every single year and the BBQ companies bring their very best to showcase their greatest potential. “When Pigs Fly”, they fly to Reno, and they’re DAMN good! I may not make the best ribs, or even come close, but I will challenge anyone to lick their bones clean like I do. Yes, I am a professional rib grubber and proud of it!

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The Biggest Little Hot Dog: Organic Taste Of Chicago in Reno, NV

In 2007, my husband and I lived in the beautiful city of Chicago for a short while. Our three main food groups consisted of deep dish pizza, Chicago dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. West coasters have no idea what deep dish pizza is and no, Pizza Hut does not count! They also don’t realize what a Chicago dog experience is like, so I am going to explain all the nitty gritty to you.

I remember walking into Portillo’s, a popular fast casual concept all over Chicagoland, and ordering a hot dog. The cashier quickly handed over my order, and I remember asking where the ketchup was. He chuckled and said, “You must not be from Chicago”. Whoa!?! I was being judged. What did I do? I felt self conscious. I replied with a big west coast attitude, “Umm No” in my finest valley girl accent. If I could’ve thrown the word “Hella” into that sentence I would’ve, just to hold my ground and represent my NorCal roots! Whaaaat Whaaat!?!

The employee explained that I was easily identified as an outsider because real Chicagoans do not put ketchup on the dog. It is mustard only, along with being served in a poppy seed bun and topped with sport peppers, celery salt, tomato slices tucked neatly along the sides, white onion, sweet pickle relish with mint and a kosher dill pickle spear. But wait! That’s not all. As you are taking the first bite into the dog, you get a “snap” right when your chompers sink in. That is when you know you are eating a true Chicago Dog.

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Moving back to Reno was devastating at first because we had gained about 20 pounds each which was all hot dog, pizza and Italian beef sandwiches and it felt like our feeding tube was cut off. Where were we going to get those snappy little hot dogs with the poppy seed buns that jam all up in your grill? Fast forward 8 years, and I present to you…. Organic Taste of Chicago.

Today was one of those Saturday afternoons where my husband and I were out doing errands. We were hungry and had the usual conversation, “What do you want for lunch?” Me: “I don’t care”. Him, “Pick Something” Me: “Umm, I dunno”. Him: “What sounds goods?” Me: “Anything really.” Him, “Just pick something.” Me: “Omg, you pick, I pick all the time.” Him: “Fine, we will just go home.” Me: “Noooooo, lets just get sandwiches” Him: “I’m pulling over and looking myself.” Me: “Fine.”.

As we were scrolling through Yelp, we saw a food truck that was called, “Organic Taste of Chicago”. Quickly, hubs called them and asked where we could find them. As soon as we got the 411, we sped over as quickly as downtown Reno would allow us. My hopes weren’t crazy high at first. Everyone claims to have a Chicago dog, but soon you realize its a dollar tree knock off. Let’s just see if this food truck could live up to the reputation.

Organic Taste of Chicago
organictasteofchicago.com
Twitter: @Taste_O_Chicago

We found the parking lot and raced up to the window. My eyeballs quickly looked over the menu, I finally put to use that stupid speed reading class I was forced to take for credits in school to good use and ordered my ChiDog. The owner was super friendly, striking up conversation with us and giving us a little background of his food truck. I found out that he is always in the Recycled Records parking lot on weekends in Mid-Town Reno. I watched him pull the steamy poppy seed buns out and start decorating the dog. Yellow mustard, Pepper relish, tomato slices…my heart was pitter pattering with excitement. Did we finally find the real thing? Next came the sport peppers…my hopes just flew through the roof top! He wrapped the dogs in foil, handed them over and Sayonara it was.

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After almost breaking my ankle in a parking lot pothole because I was fixated on just getting the car and ripping open the foil, I heard the doors unlock and hopped in my seat. I looked like Charlie from the Wonka movie opening the candy bar that contained the golden ticket. I carefully unwrapped my little foil packet, and stared in awe at what was finally sitting in my lap. I took my first bite and “SNAP”. The snap that I explained earlier was there!!!!! It was a Chicago Dog!!!! I turned to my husband and smiled with poppy seeds jammed all up in my teeth and mustard smeared across my face. I know, he’s a lucky man!  I actually got a real taste of Chicago right here in the Biggest Little City.

Reno-ites and passer throughs… I highly encourage you to stop off at the Organic Taste Of Chicago food truck and experience a true part of Chicago’s food scene. The prices are fair and the food is authentically true! This is definitely a dynamite find!

Sweet Cupcake O’ Mine: Mix Cupcake Co. in Reno, NV

Guns N’ Roses aren’t the only ones who had something sweet to sing about. Today I had a total case of the “blahs”. I had no enthusiasm for life whatsoever, which is until I pulled in to the parking lot of Mix Cupcake Co. this afternoon.

Mix Cupcake Co. 
655 Booth St.
Reno, NV 89509
775-329-1748
mixcupcakeco.com

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I am throwing my staff a party for all their hard work during our very busy Hot August Nights week last week, and really wanted to treat them to something special. Yes, I could have went to the store and bought Betty Crocker mix and made everyone little cupcakes, but I wanted to truly show my appreciation and give them a taste of the “Ritz Carlton” of cupcakes.

I placed an order with Mix Cupcakes on Monday, and asked it be ready for Wednesday.  The ordering process is a breeze; I was done in about 5 minutes. When I walked in, it was a smell of sweets, and well…really delicious things that absolutely cannot be explained, only experienced.

Mary, the owner, greeted me. I gave her my name and she pulled all my beautiful cupcakes out of the dessert case. They were packaged very carefully, waiting for my arrival. Each individual cupcake was given so much attention and detail. Typically, when I decorate, the first 5 look amazing, and the other 7 get a smear of frosting and a dab of sprinkles. Oh, not these.

I ordered Lemon Blueberry, Red Velvet and Triple Chocolate. There was a blueberry perfectly nestled in the frosting on each cupcake. The red velvets had little chocolate chips strategically placed to tease your eyeballs on top a bed of cream cheese frosting, and the triple chocolate had ripples of fudgy frosting just waiting to be dug in to.

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I felt a rush of excitement run through me. Something finally woke me up out of my funk and it was Mary’s cupcakes. I walked over to her display case, and picked out two more cupcakes. One was a “Monkey Business” that was a banana cake with vanilla bean frosting and butterscotch on top with a crispy pretzel. *Drooling* The other was a chocolate with cherries that I knew would give me the title of “Wife of the Year” for bringing one extra home for my husband. I paid, and walked briskly to the car to get headed home so I can indulge.

As I was walking to the car, I opened the door, but noticed one of the boxes starting to slide. It was a quick decision between my finger smashing in the ginormous door, or the cupcakes on the ground. I chose the finger option because there was no way that I was letting these cupcakes hit the pavement. Lets look at the bright side here; it wasn’t the finger I use to hold the cupcakes, so it’s all good. Best finger smashing ever!

The drive home was fierce. I drove 55 on the freeway the entire time so I wouldn’t have to ever slam my brakes on and risk the cupcakes flying across the car seat. I apologize to all the drivers in Reno for my sluggishness. I even got flipped off once, but I let it go because I knew I was going to get a cupcake when I got home and they weren’t. That was more satisfaction to me than my usual rolling back the sunroof and towering my arm up to flip them off in return.

I am convinced nothing at this point can bring me down from this new high I was experiencing.

I got home, kicked my shoes off, (Sorry Lola, my 3lb yorkie ran in the crossfire and may have caught the tail end of my shoe flying across the room) and immediately ripped open the perfectly folded white box which, held my Banana cupcake. I looked it over very closely, did a photo shoot more detailed than any NY Model has ever experienced, and then laid on the couch with my feet up and experienced the 8th wonder of the world. I am not going to try to describe my experience, because it cannot be described, only experienced. But if you forced to me describe in two words, they would be… Illegally Delicious.

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Normally, I would feel guilty and run an extra mile or do a bonus round of Jillian Michaels. Today though, I don’t want to work it off. I am proud to wear that cupcake on my ass and I hope it stays there for a long time. Think of it this way, it’s free advertisement for Mix Cupcake Co. Maybe, Mary should come out with a line of yoga pants that have their logo across the ass, with a slogan that says, “I wear my cupcake proudly!”

I know, for those of you reading this with your mouth watering, but you don’t live in Reno, don’t worry! You can browse their online shop at http://www.renocupcakes.com/onlineshop/ and find something for yourself!

My day is complete now and Reno Tastebuds got her groove back!

In the tune of  “Sweet Child of Mine” –

She’s got cupcakes it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was so fresh I thought I could cry
Now and then when I see this place
It takes me away to that special place
And if I’d stare too long
I’d probably break  down and buy

Oh, Oh Oh, Sweet Cupcake O’ mine

Oh, Oh Oh, Sweet love O’ mine.

The Coffee Whisperer: Yelp Reno’s Coffee Tasting at Wood Fire Roasted Coffee Co.

IMG_0454“But first, coffee” are typically the first words out of my mouth on a daily basis. Some people wake up and do yoga, some take their dogs for a walk, and most usually shower…But I wake up and hike my butt straight to my coffee bar where I start the fresh pot of freshly ground coffee beans. I even scored a shirt that has my motto written right across it and yes, I occasionally sport it. Being that it is #NationalCoffeeMonth, our local Yelp community is celebrating by doing Coffee Cult(ure) and educating the peeps of Reno on all the local coffee houses and roasters. Today, I was invited to attend an event hosted by Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee Co.! Let me tell you all about it!

Wood Fire Roasted Coffee Co.
30 Ohm Place
Reno, NV. 89502
(775) 856-2033
http://woodfireroasted.com

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Tim Curry, owner and Master Roaster at Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee Co. is also known to folks here in the Reno area as “The Coffee Whisperer”. Excited yet?!? This name refers to his ongoing practice of roasting only the finest Arabica beans from all over the world in his own Artisan style, over a wood fire in a custom made small batch wood roaster from Italy. Tim states that by roasting the coffee beans by this method, it perfectly merges the traditions of “Old World” and the “American West”  and brings out flavor complexities found in no other coffee. That statement can be found right on the back of every bag that they sell. Tim is the ONLY, wood fire roaster in the state of Nevada, and only 1 of 9 in the United States that roasts coffee with wood.

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Once the coffee has been packaged for his customers and vendors, which include Whole Foods, Scolari’s Grocers, and multiple local restaurants and coffee houses they are promptly delivered and held to very strict freshness standards. Tim explained, that after 2-3 weeks, the flavor profile components of coffee beans fall apart with oxygen interaction. Even though the bags are vacuum packed, you can never get 100% of the oxygen out. After the freshness wears off, you may not notice a change right away. However, once brewed, and after a few minutes have past after that first drink, you will begin to develop a bitter aftertaste due to the acidity that has fallen out of balance. Coffee should hold it’s flavor through the cooking process all the way through the last sip inside your coffee mug, according to Tim.

Did you also know that freezing coffee beans will also change the flavor profile completely as well? It is highly recommended to buy your coffee beans fresh every couple of weeks, to maximize freshness and flavor. Grind your beans fresh before every brew.  I do it every morning and I am the laziest morning person you will ever meet. It only takes 10 seconds people in exchange for a cup of kick ass coffee! I mean, you put fresh underwear on every day, why wouldn’t you grind your coffee fresh? It’s the same in my book. If it came down to fresh underwear or fresh coffee beans…I’m going with the coffee beans. Just keepin’ it real here!

Tim took us through the actual roasting process and taught us how to roast coffee beans by sound. “Pop” “Click” “Clack” “Pop” … was like listening to the wind rustling the autumn leaves across a prairie. AKA the best sound in the world in my book. He has very specific timing in regards to how long it takes for the beans to expand and rise in temperature. Once you hear the beans crack not once, but twice…it’s time to get your roast on! The beans are released from the chamber they are being held in and then go round and round, like happy little children on a merry go round with pony’s and unicorns preparing to be packaged for your enjoyment.

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Tim has personally roasted every single coffee bean that has been sold from Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee Co. He is self taught, and learned by reading numerous books on roasting coffee beans with a wood fire roaster. His product has won high honors from Coffee Review and has had mentions in Saveur Magazine as well.

I have to give major props to Michael Tragash, Reno’s Yelp Community Manager for coordinating this special event. He works tirelessly to connect people to awesome local businesses face to face the same way yelp.com and the yelp mobile app do online.  Michael cultivates a community of Yelper’s who are passionate about supporting local businesses by telling their story to others and sharing their passion. The Reno Yelp scene is full of pride and compassion towards one another and I can honestly say that is all due to having a positive leader like Michael, who genuinely cares about his community and thrives on seeing local businesses succeed!

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Here in the Biggest Little City, we are proud to say that we posses 1 of only 9 wood fire roasters in the entire United States. Tim’s fine craftsmanship is definitely worth experiencing for yourself and you can do so by either stopping by his roastery, or by purchasing online at http://www.woodfireroasted.com. I strongly urge you to snag a bag, I promise you will never go back to commercial grade coffee again after experiencing this unique craftsmanship.

A huge Thank You to Tim Curry for sharing his time, knowledge and passion with us, and an equally big Thank You to Michael Tragash and Yelp for inviting me to experience an outstanding demonstration on wood fire roasting.

A Brew-tiful Day: Walden’s Coffee House in Reno

coffeepic

Nothing screams morning to me like the smell of a fresh brewed pot of coffee. Typically, anyone who knows me, knows it best not to engage with me until my coffee is poured and I have gotten the first sip flowing through my veins. I get coffee, nobody gets hurt!

My caffeine tolerance these days can compete with some of the best barista’s in the world, and I have sharpened my survival skills by learning how to ask for a cup of coffee in 4 different languages. “Kikombe cha kahawa tafadhali”, you know, just in case I need to speak Swahili. Now let me espresso my thoughts on this brew-tiful little coffee house we stumbled upon in Reno, NV.

Walden’s Coffeehouse

3940 Mayberry Drive

Reno, NV 89519

775-787-3307

Home

Saturday morning rolled around and my husband and I decided to go out to breakfast. I was pre-funking with my home brewed cuppa Joe, while getting ready, anxiously awaiting to get this show on the road. Every morning, I scroll through Instagram, and I always see these scrumptious food posts teasing me from Walden’s Coffee House. That is exactly where we were headed.

Upon pulling into the parking lot, the smell of roasted coffee beans filled the air. But there was more than that…I could smell garlic, pesto, toasted fresh bread chorizo and much more. I could feel the excitement rushing over me.


IMG_9962The exterior of the coffee house is quaint and beautifully landscaped. When you walk inside, there are tables, overstuffed chairs with little coffee tables, and outside seating on the patio to choose from.

The concept is like a fast casual hybrid. You stand in line and order your breakfast/lunch at the counter, help yourself at the adorable self serve coffee station and then find your table and patiently await your culinary dreams to come true.

 

When we got to the front of the line, I was a bit nervous because everything on the menu sounded so good. After asking the kind young lady at the register what her recommendation was, I chose the Mega Scramble and hubs ordered the breakfast burrito. He went with a hot chocolate and I chose the, “Monsoon Medley” coffee. They have multiple options to choose from, Light, Medium or Dark Roast and assorted creamers and sweeteners including honey. Score!

IMG_9965As I was waiting for my breakfast to be made, I noticed that there was such an eclectic group of people dining in Walden’s. There were your hipsters, business professionals, senior citizens, athletes and us, the coffee fanatics. (Yes, we have a look)

 

 

IMG_4610Our breakfast arrived and all I could say was “Whoa!” My Mega Scramble delivered Mega flavor and was beautifully arranged on the plate. There were steaming hot scrambled eggs, roasted veggies, mushrooms and feta all meshed together and topped with fresh chopped basil.

 

 

 

 

IMG_4608The Breakfast Burrito that hubs ordered, had something unique to it. It wasn’t the tortilla, it wasn’t the filling, it was the house made salsa that set this baby apart from all the others. The tomatoes were smoky and roasty. The burrito filling with the eggs, veggies, potatoes, cheddar cheese and chorizo all wrapped snugly in the grilled spinach tortilla was heavenly. My husbands exact words were, “It’s as if you made it at home kinda good!”

 

We ate every bite on our plates, and left there feeling energized and fueled. We couldn’t believe we had never been here before, but hey, better “latte” then never! Well executed Walden’s, we can’t wait to return! Cheers!

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