Girls on Food

Small Biz

Take Me, I’m Yours Morgan Street Food Hall & Market in Raleigh, NC

Recently, food halls have been popping up all over the country. When I heard Raleigh was getting not one, but two, my immediate reaction was “great, a glorified mall food court” because really, when was the last time you felt cool eating at the food court, amiright? But there are a couple huge differences at play here, so put your worries aside!

First, food courts are so often chains and standard fare. Morgan Street Food Hall & Market is, for the most part, neither. Rolled ice cream anyone? Poke bowls, empanadas, and ramen were the first things to catch my eye. Cousins Maine Lobster (the only option I would consider a chain) is slightly more accessible here, and with a lot more seating options! The line is still out the door but with a beer in hand and a bustling crowd, a far cry from the hot food truck rodeo lines you’re usually waiting in! Last time I tried that, I was “red as a lobster” by the time I ordered my Connecticut lobster roll!

Raleigh Rolls rolled ice cream, which is a treat for all! (yeah, I shared with the baby!)

When you first walk into Morgan Street Food Hall, you’ll see a bustling crowd and tons of seating options, from picnic tables to couches and arm chairs, and finally, 4 top tables with chairs. There are indoor and outdoor seating options, with a couple bars to frequent as thirst arises. There are 18 dining options, ranging from southern to Mediterranean to Asian; comfort food and hangover food and on to desserts and bubble tea. For our family, this is the perfect place for all of our meals out: we have 2 picky preschoolers who think the margarita pizza at Bella’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tapas is out of this world (and less than $10, thank you!).

For me, I get the “adventurous” foods I can’t talk the whole family into – ramen and poke bowls, while hubby gets to fill up on empanadas, which he loves! We have an Italian au pair living with us this year, and she has enjoyed working her way through the options Morgan Street has at her disposal. Currently, her heart resides in Raleigh.

I’ve now eaten at Morgan Street 3 times. Hubs and I met a group of friends here one night before an Umphrey’s McGee concert downtown. There were a lot of empanadas and some curry plates, a kick ass looking pizza, a whole lot of beer, and my amazing delicious tuna poke bowl, with fresh tuna on their California bowl (from The Bowls), loaded with amazingness and topped with avocado! It was incredible, and I couldn’t wait to go back!

So the next weekend, a girlfriend and I met up there, and she got ramen and I went back to The Bowls for round 2 – this time trying their spicy tuna on the Malibu bowl, which has spicy seaweed salad in it. The biggest difference was that the tuna was chopped up instead of chunks, so I would probably go regular tuna in the future.

We also ventured over to the bar, and I tried the Deep River Brewing Company’s (out of Clayton, NC) pumpkin pie porter, which was oh, so good and also very seasonal! It was delicious after a long afternoon of shopping and enjoying the suddenly cooler temps here in NC! Finally (maybe the first finally), we waited in line at Cocoa Forte Desserts for chocolate dipped cheesecake, which we were saving for when we got home, and then I talked my friend into trying out Raleigh Rolls, the rolled ice cream place! It’s a little bit Coldstone Ceamery (you get to choose 3 flavors that go into your ice cream, and then 3 flavors for the toppings) meets a sushi roll (because in the end, they hand you a bowl with 6 rolls of ice cream). So good news – you can sub flavors – I subbed in coffee flavoring for the graham cracker in my s’mores ice cream, and it was the.best.thing.ever! Little man ate way too much but also thinks I’m the coolest mom ever for sharing my ice cream with him, ha! (Verdict on cheesecake – its on a stick, so go ahead and eat it immediately. I waited a few hours to eat mine, and it fell apart really fast. Pretty sure it was user error though).

So the next day, my hubs was still out of town (he went on Phish tour last weekend), and I needed to provide food for my little ones for the 4th day in a row. So…I started thinking about that pizza, and the fact that cow burger has hot dogs. Surely they could find something to eat…

Here’s the deal – I was nervous to bring a 5 year old and a 3 year old and a 5 month old into such a busy place. But…they loved it! My son is begging to go back, my daughter can’t stop talking about the ice cream, and the baby slept thru the thing. We also found an awesome place for our family photos in 2 weeks. So all in all, a great trip. I will send you all day every day to Bella’s pizza – it was incredible, and the kids ate every bite of that pizza. I loved the portion size of the burgers (I got the classic cheeseburger) and I’d heard great things about it, but I would definitely trust your gut on that place. First, the line took F O R E V E R which I’m not really into, and wouldn’t have waited in it but our au pair and I both wanted a burger so we stuck with it. Second, we waited F O R E V E R for our buzzer to ring. Like it took the entire time the pizza cooked to wait in the line and order. Then the kids ate the whole pizza. And I took them back over to Raleigh rolls and waited for someone to turn melted ice cream into frozen ice cream rolls, and then the buzzer sounded as I was paying for them. So the burgers were delicious, great bun to burger ratio, and overall very satisfying, but with so many faster options, I’m not sure I would wait for it again.

Also, pro tip – if you have a picky child who only eats vanilla ice cream (I know, I know, its super weird but what I’m dealing with right now), there is another small ice cream scoop place in the food hall. Don’t waste your $7 on plain vanilla with a tiny sprinkling of rainbow sprinkles. Spend that money on the whole experience and all the toppings, and get Sir Picky something from the cheaper place!

So final verdict – run, don’t walk, to the Morgan Street Food Hall if you’re in Raleigh. Bring an appetite. Check out the unusual places, especially the bowls, the broth, and curry in a hurry, and take the time to wait in line for Raleigh Rolls! I’m looking forward to heading down there again next weekend after the International Festival to try out some new places!

GOF Interview: Brooke Rewa of mylk

There’s nothing more irritating than buying something that you think is good for you and then realizing, it’s not. After the interview below with Brooke Rewa, owner of mylk by Made With Love Wellness Co, I finally decided to look up the ingredients to the almond milk my husbands likes me to buy and… yikes. I can see all the icky ingredients she pointed out to me: added sugars, gums, binders, fillers and oils. Also, when I looked up the nutritional facts, I realized, there’s nothing nutritional to the almond milk I was buying at all.

According to Brooke, “not all plant milks are created equally and just because it’s a plant milk doesn’t mean it’s actually healthy” and after researching many other store brands of plant-based milks, she’s totally right. Originally, juice started as a beverage line under Made With Love Wellness Co, then came the mylk, which has been very successful.  

After mylk was also such a hit at my recent Shared Plates fundraiser for the L.A. Kitchen, and after tasting many of the different flavors from Brooke’s line, I am officially making the switch in my almond milk to mylk and I hope you’ll join me! Check out my interview with Brooke below!      

GOF: Why did you decide to cut out dairy?

BR: Well, I never liked the taste of milk. My parents would make us drink a glass of milk with dinner every night and I would plug my nose and chug mine to get it down as quickly as possible. I cut out dairy when I was in my early teens mostly because I loved animals and as I learned about the practices of most big dairy farms, I got really grossed out. Plus, it never made me feel that well.  

GOF: Do you remember when and how you discovered almond milk?

BR: I was pretty young when I started drinking non-dairy milks but honestly, I started with soy. It was all the rage back then and the most widely known. Freshman year of Collage, I moved to San Francisco and that’s when I found almond milk and there was no going back! 

GOF: When it comes to making your own almond milk recipes, what is the process like for you? 

BR: Making the recipes is my favorite part! I’ve never made a plant milk recipe I didn’t like actually. I always joke, as a kid I never competed in talent competitions because I didn’t really have a talent. But if I could go back to my childhood, with my recipes now, I think I’d have a good chance at taking home some prizes! 

GOF: Have you had any recipe blunders when you were creating your products?

BR: I actually have a strange knack for getting it right (or at least tasty) the first time. Other than the literal messes I make, not really. My staff pretty much cringe when they see me coming for the kitchen as I am definitely very messy in there. I have certainly had a few face fulls of blender contents in my day… putting the lid on is very important!  

GOF: I see you grew up on a farm in New York, what brought you out to LA?

BR: My grandparents actually had their own dairy farm, so I spent a lot of time there. I came to LA after film school to work in film/tv. Health and wellness were my other passions but I had no idea how to make a living pursing a career in those areas. 

GOF: How long did you take you to go from selling at farmer’s markets to selling in shops and cafes?

BR: Selling wholesale was really my plan all along so they kind of went hand in hand. The farmer’s market was great because it paid immediately and allowed me to put money right back into my business. Wholesale accounts usually take anywhere from 7-30 days to pay, so you have to have a little financial support to get those accounts going.  

GOF: Any new flavors coming up that you’re excited about? 

BR: Yes! We are planning for the launch of our new Single Serving and Concentrate Frozen Mylks. Hopefully by January 1st, 2019 you will be able to order Goodmylk to your door anywhere in the US! 

GOF: What is your favorite flavor of mylk or juice? 

BR: Matcha Mylk, always. But Nut Nog is coming, during the holidays, that one! 

GOF: Is there anything in the health/lifestyle world that you’re tired of seeing on Instagram? 

BR: Oat milk. I could go on but instead, I encourage people to do their own research. The oat milks on the market are very dangerous for daily consumption. 

GOF: Are there any restaurants in LA that you think live up to Made With Love standards?

BR: We have a few that we are lucky to work with actually! Joi Cafe, Jewel, Green Table Cafe, Sweet Laurel Cafe, the food and drinks are all on point at these places.  

GOF: How often do you do cleanses? 

BR: I personally do our 3 day cleanse with juice, food and our superfood mylkshakes twice a year.  

GOF: If there’s one piece of advice you have for aspiring business owners? 

BR: Be bold. Think Bigger.  
Made With Love Wellness Co is located in Los Angeles, join me in making the switch from grocery store to locally owned!

GOF Interviews: Christy Cunanan of Cheeri Cheeri Ice Cream

I appreciate any good food but food that delivers a kick of nostalgia is extra tasty to me. The preparation of food with an intention to make you feel sentimental takes more than making food that feels familiar. It has to somehow stimulate your sensory memory using all 5 of your senses, transporting you to a specific place in time. These foods often evoke more emotion out of me, because I usually associate the flavors with something very personal to me.

“Ice cream is a medium that takes people back to something special” according to Christy Cunanan, the creator of Cheeri Cheeri, her vegan and Filipino ice cream brand. The mission of Cheeri Cheeri ice cream is to allow its customers to connect back to something precious in their lives, all the while enjoying their ice cream. What inspired her line of ice cream the most? Time spent with her Lolo and Lola (for those not familiar, that’s Grandpa and Grandma).

Born and raised in Pasadena, Christy remembers when the ice cream man would drive around her neighborhood. “What made it so special was the rushed ritual of hearing the ice cream truck and then that challenge of convincing them to give us money to buy the ice cream. After I’d get my hands on a watermelon pop, I’d realize how much Lola and Lolo just wanted to see us happy. So you just remember these times like this and how special they were. You were never eating alone.”

Christy Cunanan in her Pasadena home

These days, this UCLA alumni works a 9-5 at Disney Animation as a Production Coordinator, builds up her ice cream empire and still makes time to have 4 hour Facetime sessions with Lolo and Lola. She started embarking on her ice cream career with her first pop up in April 2017. In the beginning, her brand wasn’t vegan, but in December of 2017, after her family got hit with diabetes and cancer, she decided to take on a plant-based lifestyle. “Since my family was vegan, my product had to be as well. I have to have this ice cream reflect my family. I’d hate for people to miss out just because they’re vegan. It matters enough to have a line of ice cream knowing it’s on the healthiest side.”

Although many people think of dishes like Ube and Ensaymada when they think of Filipino food, Christy insists it’s not hard to go plant-based in this genre. “Sure, I’ve struggled with capturing butter and cheese, common ingredients in Filipino breads but through trial and error, I achieve what my Lolo and Lola say “time is medicine”. I’ve been able to replicate the identity of many traditional Filipino desserts, so we can all enjoy them.”

Buko Pandan

Her top seller is her Buko Pandan ice cream, but looks can be deceiving with this flavor. This classic dessert tends to be identified with it’s bright green gelatinous chunks. But because Christy keeps everything as natural as possible, she doesn’t do dyes. It’s white, but the flavor is still rich with a beautifully creamy texture.

Calamansi Ice Cream (size small)

My favorite flavor is her Calamansi ice cream. It’s refreshing, tart and velvety all in one. This flavor had had stakes for her to capture perfectly. “My Grandpa planted a Calamansi tree in our backyard, so I felt the extra pressure to get it correct. This is one of the most personal flavors to me” Christy told me.

When I asked Christy about the current Filipino food craze; she shared she’s very supportive of the trend but notes “there’s major ube love happening right now and that’s great, but we want you to explore the full spectrum of our food. A strong sense of identity has to be transferred to every bite.”

What customer melts Christy’s heart the most? “Grandparents! I get a kick out of when older Filipino-Americans taste my ice cream and say ‘I know what this is!'”

Get frozen in time! Christy will be scooping her famous Calamansi Cheeri Cheeri ice cream at the Girls on Food Shared Plates dinner coming up, Friday, October 5th at Industrious Century City. get your tickets here.

The 4th Annual Stars of Pinot Raises Funds (And Plenty Of Glasses) For The T.J. Martell Foundation

wineLA, Los Angeles’ top source for wine-centered events and education, held their 4th Annual Stars of Pinot gathering at the luxurious Montage Beverly Hills last week. Over 150 wines were poured for enthusiasts to taste, wine reps were on site to talk about their brands and DJ Richard Blade was also spinning the best in 80’s new wave. This grand tasting also raised funds to benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation, a non-profit that supports innovative groundbreaking cancer research.

Bouchaine’s ’17 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir

One might be under the impression that an event like this would be suited for the high rollers at wine auctions, but it was actually much more approachable.

With my general admission ticket (priced at $75) I was provided with a beautiful complimentary pinot wine glass and given access to taste any wine on the floor of my choosing. Plenty of cheeses, breads and Evian water bottles were also included in this ticket.

I believe every event should begin with bubbles and clearly, wineLA does too! Sponsor Champagne Henriot was providing guests with a champagne tasting right at the entrance to start the night on a bubbly note.

Let the games begin!

I’ve been to some smaller scale tasting events in the past, but this was a different beast. The Montage ballroom sets a tone for ostentatious LA glamour, with its operatic balconies and lavish chandeliers. However, the wine reps were all smiles and very down to earth. It was a fun mix of luxury and comfort.

Although this event wasn’t intended for attendees to make on the spot purchases, the reps were readily available with brochures and info on how to buy their wines. Many of the winemakers are also open minded to touring their vineyards, so keep their contact info on file for when you’re in their valley.

Ballroom of Montage Beverly Hills

I started the tasting tour with one of the friendliest faces there–Lindy Willingham, representing A to Z Wineworks–who set a high standard for the night. Their ’16 A to Z Essence of Oregon is lighter-bodied with notes of stone fruits, perfect for sipping on in the summertime. Although this was an earlier tasting, it was one of my favorite pours of the evening.

’16 A to Z Essence of Oregon

Pinot Noir was the belle of the ball, but many makers also offered samples of their rosé and an occasional chardonnay.

Other favorite tastes included:

Wrath Wines’ ’15 Pinot Noir – medium bodied and fruity with a little bit of spiciness

Bouchaine’s ’17 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir – very refreshing, perfect for a pool day

Iris Vineyards ’17 Chalice Estate Pinot Noir Rosé – loved the strawberry notes and light minerality

Van Duzar Vineyard’s ’16 Pinot Gris – notes of tropical fruits and a bit creamy

Although I attended this one solo (I was there for this post specifically), I do think it’s more fun to attend with a friend. So if you have a wino partner in crime, bring them out! Luckily I did bump into Chef Derrick Fox (who I have interviewed in the past) and I also got to meet one my favorite DJs on Sirius XM, DJ Richard Blade.

Me with DJ Richard Blade

There’s nothing better than discovering wines for a good cause. Be sure to keep up with wineLA’s upcoming events on their website. In addition to these events, the wineLA program (founded by sommelier Ian Blackburn) also includes wine classes, private dinners and wine travels abroad. We’re looking forward to the upcoming 2018 Bubbles and Rosé Festival, Sat, August 25, 2018, 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM at Leica Store and Gallery in Los Angeles–keep an eye out on Girls on Food for more information.

Iris Vineyards ’17 Chalice Estate Pinot Noir Rosé

Although this general admission ticket was comped by wineLA, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Best Mobile Apps for Food Bloggers

There’s more to being a food blogger than just writing about recipes and food. You need to be organized at all times, have a good plan and know how to handle your information. In fact, you need to be a bit of a tech junkie to achieve maximum efficiency as a food blogger.

Luckily, there are so many mobile apps out there which take just a few minutes to download and which can make your life so much easier. Still, it can be a bit of a drag to dig through the app store until you find the good ones. If you want to avoid that, take a look at this list of the best mobile apps for food bloggers.

1.   Instagram

If you are a food blogger, Instagram is the number one tool of your trade. Here is where you’ll update your own photos, but also follow the accounts of other food bloggers. As always, it is important to stay up to date with what your competition is doing. Besides that, Instagram will provide you with many creative ideas and allow you to communicate with your followers directly. In many ways, it is truly an irreplaceable app for any food blogger wishing to make a name for themselves.

2.   Thyme

Thyme is a wonderful and highly underrated app which could interest any food blogger. Namely, there’s one skill which food bloggers have to develop more than other people, and that is time management. When you have your spaghetti cooking in a one pot, your sauce in another, and your dessert in the oven, it isn’t hard to lose track of time. That is where Thyme comes to the rescue. This app allows you to set five different timers at once, thanks to which you’ll never have time management issues again.

3.   Top Chef University

This app is a collection of cooking lessons by previous Top Chef contestants. The video lessons cover all kinds of cooking-related subjects, from knife techniques to difficult recipes. The free version of the app gets you 28 lessons, and for an additional $20 you can get 200 more lessons. Even with the free version, you can get an exciting and educational experience. All things considered, this app is valuable to both food bloggers and enthusiastic chefs.

4.   Evernote

With Evernote, you can take notes in a revolutionary new way. In fact, your notes will now be synced across all your devices. You can scan receipts, download and save clips of web pages, manage your to-do lists, and collect different sources in one place. Any food blogger knows how important it is to keep a tidy list. In fact, you always have food ingredients to buy, recipes to try out, and posts to schedule. Luckily, Evernote is there to take care of all your list-making needs.

5.   Afterlight

When it comes to photo-editing, most food bloggers need a little more than the basics covered by Instagram. If you are not crazy about Instagram filters, you should definitely try Afterlight. With this app, you can make your pictures look a lot more professional. Namely, Afterlight is like a pocket Photoshop with which you can easily touch up your pictures on the go. You can manually adjust a bunch of options and export your pictures to your social networks.

6.   Boomerang

This little app comes from the creators of Instagram. Boomerang is your best friend if you want to make quick video loops in the form of GIFs. You can use GIFs to spice things up on your profile. This lovely little format will capture the viewers’ attention when you have something especially good to share. Although it’s no big deal in any way, it is definitely a nice way to keep things more engaging.

7.   Twitter

A great food blogger will try to conquer every possible social network. Twitter is no exception to that rule, and if you have Twitter, you should get the corresponding app. Just remember to turn off the notifications. Keep them on only for new followers, retweets, and direct messages.

8.   Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a God-given app for anyone having to manage multiple social media accounts at once. Namely, this app allows you to control all your Facebook and Twitter pages and accounts from a single dashboard. That can help you save a lot of time by scheduling your posts across all your accounts at once. It even comes with an “auto-schedule” option which automatically chooses the best time for posting.

9.   Spin Palace

For a food blogger, there is no clear line between work and everyday life. That is why you should have an app handy for fun and relaxation. For example, you can try Spin Palace, which is an app for playing slots online. With this app, new mobile casino players can unlock large cash bonuses for newcomers. With this app, you can bring some of that Vegas glamor and excitement to the screen of your smartphone.

Spin Palace is hardly the only mobile casino app out there. With that in mind, you can find information about more online casinos at websites such as https://www.bestukslots.co.uk and Norske nettcasino.

What’s your favorite app?

New apps come out every day, and it’s hard to keep up with all the new releases. If you’re crafty enough, you can always find something practical enough to help you with running your blog. Enjoy!

Hamming It Up At The Haam in Toronto

The Haam is the place to dine if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try unique mashups. Situated in the Entertainment District of Toronto, the vibes here are cool and homey while still pumping out the beats for a meal right before you hit the streets. In Korean, “haam” means to add more, additional to make the best (hence the plus symbol in their logo); they definitely add that extra oomph to make their dish the best that it can be. Keep in mind, that The Haam does love to experiment with different dishes and techniques, so they will be having a rotating menu and these dishes may or may not be available; which does make it even more exciting to visit!

The Haam
342 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1R7
https://www.instagram.com/thehaamtoronto/

Seabass: gochojang, cucumber, extra virgin olive oil, fish skin

The mixture of the balsamic vinaigrette and gochugang (Korean red chilli paste) gives you a nice combo of sweet and spicy that complement the clean seabass crudo. Grab a complete bite of the sauced up seabass with the refreshing cucumber, and crunchy fried fish skin; it’ll hit all the taste buds and provide all different textures that will leave you satisfied.

Scallop: ikura, red onion, yam, avocado, shallot

This scallop plate is super refreshing with a light and citrusy dressing. The fried shallots provide a bit of crunch, the ikura (salmon roe) gives a little bursts of flavour and saltiness and the yam smear ties the entire dish together with a bit of sweetness.

Macbokki: gochujang, cauliflower, smoked cheddar, provolone, gruyere, za’atar

The Macbokki, is probably my favourite item we had. This is a tteokbokkif (Korean rice cake) version of mac and chesse but gochujang style. So creamy with the just right amount of spice (from the gochujang), not too rich with all the cheeses but there is a slight sweetness that just rounds out the dish. To top off the dish are the huge taro chips that are just so much fun to eat with.

Fried Chicken: curry, sambal, mint

Now, who doesn’t love fried chicken?! For those that are a bit uncertain of the dishes above, this one will soothe your soul. Hearing of the combination of the three sauces may sound strange but amazingly enough the three combined create a symphony of sweet, minty and spicy. Alternatively, all three sauces are just as magnificent on their own! Also cannot forget about the super crunchy chicken that is perfectly friend and is straight up KFC (Korean Fried Chicken).

Holy Crab!: Soft shell crab, scallop, shrimp, squid

This rice dish simply reminds me of a seafood paella. My most favourite seafood paella that I had had a sweetness to it that just combined the seafood along with the rice in a way that I just wanted to keep on eating it; this dish plays that exact same role. There’s just a sweetness that just makes you want to keep eating until every last grain is complete. To help balance the sweetness is the fried soft shell crab that provided a bit of saltiness and that crunch factor that is needed in all rice dishes.

Aburi Chirashi: uni, tuna, salmon, shiso, ikura, garlic mayo, truffle

To wrap up our entire meals is the final touch of the Aburi Chirashi. A traditional chirashi consists of sushi rice and fresh raw fish. This dish consists of a bed of the sushi rice with fresh uni, tuna and salmon laid at top of the rice, topped with garlic mayo and torched to perfection (aburi). Aburi (torched sushi) is a very popular style here in Toronto and this dish is definitely a unique and different take on it. The torching provides a melt in your mouth feel that just with every bite you feel like you are eating something so decadent and it feels so wrong but tastes so good.

The Haam makes you feel like you’re at home and your mom/dad decides to come up with an experimental meal to wow you; except, that The Haam does wow you every time without fault. They have only been open for a bit over a month now and I can tell you that you can expect some fairly unique (and even daring) dishes coming out of this little spot. I cannot wait to see what other creations they have in store!

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. 

Maize Runner in Toronto: Arepa Guys

Arepa Guys is run by two buds, Moises and Jorge, who currently serve up arepas on the weekends. Situated within a local convenience store, Arepa Guys offers authentic Venezuelan arepas with their own twist. Although they have a set menu, they also offer a special every week which is updated on their Instagram account. HINT: go follow them now. The specials give you a different treat each time you visit. You can also mix and match different fillings to create your own custom Venezuelan creation!

Arepa Guys
9587 Weston Road, Woodbridge, Ontario L4H 3A5
https://www.instagram.com/arepaguys/

Owners and Buds: Moises (left) and Jorde (right)

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The Kitchen Table: Sacramento’s New Specialty Kitchen Boutique

I love the hustle and bustle that this time of year brings. I love the joy I feel when shopping for others. It’s fun to look for that perfect gift that will put a smile on your loved ones faces. Since I am a Girl on Food, it’s probably not a big surprise that I have quite a few foodie friends that I need to find the perfect gift for. Which means I am always on the hunt for that cute gadget or yummy locally sourced treat. So when I heard there was a specialty kitchen boutique opening up in East Sacramento I got really excited.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

The Kitchen Table
1462 33rd Street, Sacramento, CA 95816

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Brunchin’ at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Toronto

 

Mildred’s Temple Kitchen provides an urban dining venue but yet provides a warm and intimate dining experience. The dishes created by Chef Donna Dooher will have you leaving with a new culinary curiosity and memory. Well known for their brunch, I just knew I had to check this place out one day and today is that day!

Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
85 Hanna Ave, Toronto, ON M6K 3S3
http://templekitchen.com
https://www.instagram.com/MildredTempleKitchen/

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Wilbur Mexicana in Toronto

Wilbur Mexicana is where a group of friends can meet for drinks and a taco or even going out on your own for time alone. This is a spot where anyone and everyone is welcomed, while also offering cheap downtown eats with big flavour. Wilbur Mexicana is named after the chemist that discovered the Scoville scale of spicy heat, Wilbur Scoville. They offer an upscale but casual atmosphere serving up fast cheap eats that you would not expect in the downtown core.

Wilbur Mexicana
552 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M3
http://wilburmexicana.com
https://www.instagram.com/wilburmexicana/

Once you enter the restaurant there is a sign up on the menu board that states, “Wilbur first timers, grab a menu at the door”, when you read this, you look to your left and see some menus hanging off the side rack. Once you figure out what you want to indulge in, you simply order and pay at the cash where you give you a numbered placeholder that contains a photo of a cartoon pepper. If you are dining in, just grab a seat at a table to you prefer and sit pretty; if take out, sit comfy on a stool right next to the cash.

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Pop-Up Italian Style: SAOR Project in LA

A trend in the Los Angeles foodie culture is the concept of the pop-up restaurant which offers a limited time dining experience in a temporary space with a specific focus on a particular type of food.

SAOR Project, started by Gianluca Zago and his wife Alessandra Manias, take the pop-up concept and aim to make it more of a permanent fixture, with monthly intimate meals and special dining events celebrating the best of classic Italian cuisine.

SAOR PROJECT
Private Residence, Sherman Oaks
https://www.saorproject.com

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the experience. But the word “experience” definitely sums up the evening. This was one of the most memorable dinners I’ve had in a very long while, and not just because of the excellent food.

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