Girls on Food

RenoTastebuds

My passion for good eats and restaurants started when I was 5 years old. Yes, you read that correctly, 5. My grandparents were my foundation and always enjoyed everything from a good ‘ole hole in the wall burger to seared octopus at the San Francisco Ritz Carlton. Of course, they always brought along yours truly, and I believe they had no idea what kind of foodie fanatic they were creating. Our family restaurant was always, “Original Joe’s” in downtown San Jose. The waiter would kindly ask what I would like to eat, (expecting me to order something like a child’s sized spaghetti like the rest of my cousins) and I would very confidently state, “I would like a New York steak, rare, with seasonal vegetables and a baked potato with sour cream and chives, please.” My Grandpa would always laugh and tell the waiter, “She better marry someone with money, this girl is expensive!” Later in life, the fire for food that burned inside me grew into a full on blaze. I started off in the restaurant business and worked every single position that exists. With dedication and a strong desire to succeed, I soon grew to be a professional chef. I absolutely loved watching people enjoy the meal I put in front of them. I loved seeing families laugh and create memories over a heart felt meal that I had prepared. The intensity of the kitchen, the plating, the perfection of timing in bringing a dish all together was a rush that I craved on a daily basis. After 8 years, I did decide it was time to keep my passion alive through my family and friends, so here I am! Thankfully, I have had the blessing of living and experiencing great culture. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area with hanging chickens on the streets, eventually moving to the beautiful city of Chicago with my husband for a short stint only to settle in the Biggest Little City aka Reno, NV with Lake Tahoe as my back yard to play in. I have experienced everything from Alligator in the back woods of Florida, deep dish pizza in Chicago, to Escargot right here in Reno. I also spend a lot of time in Lake Tahoe finding the local hot spots and lounging on the beach. I’m looking forward to bringing you exciting, witty yet genuine reviews right here from the Reno/Lake Tahoe area! Check out my blog Reno Tastebuds.

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. Casinos can be stunning but you might prefer to gamble online even if you’re a casino high roller.

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. As you guys know, I am a sucker for casinos both online and in person. I have been loving Stake 7 recently!

You see, going to the casino itself wasn’t much of an interest to us, especially as we knew that we could check out something similar to euro casino bonus in our own time and enjoy playing these games within the comfort of our own home. We were here for the food.

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

Rocking Popcorn: Handmade, Small Batch Popcorn Goodness

Rocking Popcorn

My pregnancy cravings for popcorn got pretty brutal one day and my snack cabinet was looking a little uninspiring. I decided to search online and find something new. After finding Rocking Popcorn, based out of West Hollywood (but sold on their website), I decided their interesting flavors were the way to go. The box arrived on the porch. I immediately ripped into the box and started to examine what I was about to indulge in. As I was rifling through all the bags, I noticed a sticker on the bottom right corner of the bag. It stated that the Rocking Popcorn brand was fresh, all natural and gluten-free. Also, the popcorn is handmade in small batches, to maximize freshness and quality and is popped in coconut oil. Here are a few of my favorites:

I first tore into the Loaded Potato bag and experienced flavor explosions of cheddar, spices and wait for it….wait for it…BACON! It was a nice twist and like the bag promised,  was deliciously good. That bag didn’t last long. I actually hid it because I didn’t want my husband and his ginormous hands scooping the popcorn out by the handful. That was my secret stash.

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Chocolate City made me jump out of my skin with excitement. There is chocolate drizzled generously over each and every kernel and melts in your mouth giving you sweet and salty. I honestly think that bag lasted less than 5 minutes. It’s an absolute MUST order for any chocolate guru and my absolute favorite!

The Hotter Than Hell bag was just that. Hotter Than Hell! If you are a fan of spicy, this is your treat. The burn seriously lingers and well, I suppose you can say, “Hurts so good.”

The Mac & Jack was filled with cheesy crunch. It was so addicting; I actually felt my eyes start to water up when I realized I had reached the end of the bag. Ok, pregnant hormones are torturing me. However, this flavor was legitimately the front runner. I must be put on auto ship for this one.

Cinnamon Girl soothed my sweet tooth. It was like someone took each and every popcorn kernel and hand rolled it into cinnamon bliss. Nothing drives me crazier than when you end up with a few dashes of spice or seasoning on your popcorn, and the rest ends up at the bottom of the bag. Each bite was equal parts popcorn/cinnamon. Delish!

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My glory days, the preggo belly served as my popcorn table.

I checked out their website and carelessly pondered my next order. It pretty much summed up to, give me one of everything. The popcorn was fluffy, it was crunchy and not “stale” like some bagged popcorn you buy at the store and best of all it was a guilt-free treat that delivered their word, deliciously good.

You have not experienced popcorn until you have been rocked out of your seat with the Rocking Popcorn brand. Seriously Pop-a-licious!

 

Reno Tastebud’s Remixed Hash Browns

Weekend breakfasts always included hash browns with lots of cheese. I remember my Gramma over the stove with hot oil splattering all over frying up shredded potatoes and browning them to a golden crisp. As much as I love Gramma’s hash browns, I don’t love the weight that has found it’s semi-permanent home right on my butt. Spaghetti squash has become my favorite winter squash because it’s so versatile and well..heathier!

Get the new and updated recipe for hash browns below using spaghetti squash! It’s clean, healthy and tastes just as good.

Remixed Hash Browns 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash Halved (I always recommend keeping cooked spaghetti squash halves in the fridge for easy use)
  • 1/2 Cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded Low Fat Cheddar Cheese
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • Green onions for garnish (optional)

Preparation:

  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and place flesh side down in a microwave safe casserole dish filled with hot water (only an inch of water or so).
  • Cover the dish with plastic wrap, and then place in your microwave for 8-10 minutes.
  • Be careful when removing the plastic wrap, you will get a steam burn if you pull the plastic back and your arm is in the way.remixed hashbrowns
  • Let the squash cool, until you are able to place the halves on a cut board.
  • Take a spoon, and scoop out the mushy middle, like you would a cantaloupe. It will contain seeds and needs to be discarded.
  • Grab a fork and start shredding the squash. You will notice it shreds in strands resembling spaghetti.
  • Place the spaghetti squash in a mixing bowl, and combine your flour, parmesan cheese, sea salt and cracked black pepper.
  • Mix well with hands. Your mixture will be wet and that’s ok. If there is excess moisture and it’s too wet to work with, add some more flour until you get a dryer, thicker consistency.
  • Form little 1 inch thick patties out of the hash brown mix. remixed hasbrowns2
  • In a stainless steel pan, heat olive oil and wait until you can see the oil separating in the pan. You don’t want the pan smoking, or else you will burn the patty. Olive oil burns easily, so heat over medium heat for approx. 2-3 minutes before placing your patty in the pan.
  • Once you place the patties in the pan and you hear them sizzling, let them cook for 5 minutes on each side. You will notice they will firm and brown around the edges, (similar to pancakes) and that is when it will be time to flip.
  • When the hash browns are finished, turn the heat to low, and sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top and let melt. You can also top with sliced green onions as well.

 

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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

LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle – Monterey, CA

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LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle
Municipal Wharf Number 2, Monterey, CA 93940

It was time to leave Reno, time for the vacation I had been dreaming about all year. My husband and I were going to embark on a California coastal tour down Hwy 1, with absolutely no schedule or agenda. We decided to include the word culinary to our vacation title, so here it was, our California culinary tour down the coast.

Our first stop was in Monterey, CA. We got into town late, so we found a quick bite and headed back to the hotel room where the beach waves that were right outside our hotel room crashed down so loud for a minute you thought you were living in the ocean.

Morning came quickly, and I was borderline hangry, but you can’t be angry in such a beautiful place, so we will stick with hungry. We found some locals and spoke to them about what breakfast places they recommend, and they directed us to Lou Lou’s Griddle in the Middle on Municipal Wharf 2.

As we approached the wharf, we noticed a bright yellow little building sitting literally, right in the middle of the wharf. Municipal Wharf 2 is a working wharf so there were many vendors and fisherman working away at their normal life, the normal life I escaped. I was in awe of everything, in awe of the fisherman, the people, the big boats, the trucks and even the courageous birds that were so bold and not scared of anyone.

We walked in to LouLou’s and noticed they were full. It was Tuesday around 10am, and full…it must be good! We waited a short time and then Gigi, the owner, greeted us with her genuinely warm smile and sat us at an adorable little booth by a window. It’s a one row classic diner stop that is colorfully decorated. We were able to see everything all in one birds eye shot. The restaurant is casually paced and the smells, oh the smells reassure you made the right decision to dine here. Diana Ross was jammin’ over the radio and the sounds of newspapers wrestling and coffee being poured joined Diana’s tunes.

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A very spunky and energetic waitress came around and offered to take our beverage order. She also made some fantastic menu suggestions. I also noticed that the busboy was working with a smile and chuckling with the fishermen outside. Everyone who worked here truly enjoyed being there and was pleased to serve.

After staring down all the guests plates in the diner, my eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Pancakes, the actual side of a hubcap. They appropriately  called it the Hubcap Pancake. I don’t think I’ve seen a pancake that large. I decided to go with the Seafood Reef Rider Omelette which was a fluffy three-egg omelette with
shrimp, crab, mushrooms and monterey jack cheese. Hold on though! I wasn’t done ordering yet! I had heard the clam chowder was killer, and love me a good bowl of chowder, so I also ordered a bread bowl clam chowder for my husband and I to share.

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The clam chowder stole the show. It was smooth and creamy with oversized chunks of clams and potatoes. It wasn’t overly seasoned with fish base, this was the real deal. The bread bowl was warm and toasty and perfect for sopping up that amazing chowder that truly was a gift from the wharf gods. I ate and ate, with no limits. I kept repeating over and over, “That Chowder Though” until finally my husband asked if I was going to save him any. Oops!

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Next arrived our Reef Rider Omelettes. They were filled with warm melty cheese and succulent shrimp. The eggs were light yellow and fluffy, beautifully and perfectly prepared. You would think we would be getting full, but no. My husband noticed they had fried oysters on the menu and wanted to sample those as well as we are both oyster fanatics! You could hear them drop into the piping hot fryer and hear the sizzling and gurgling of the fryers. Shortly after being shucked, battered and fried, they arrived to our table and let me tell you, they brought sexy back.

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The oysters were FRESH, they were gigantic, they were juicy and not overly greasy or seasoned. The fryer oil was clean, you can tell they maintenance their fryers well because the color on the oysters was a beautiful golden brown and didn’t taste old or rancid. The oysters were delectable and superbly delicious.

DSC_0379Once I introduced myself as a food blogger to the staff, it seemed to make more sense as to why the hell we were eating so much. Chef Benito visited our table and brought us a sample of his signature dish. He cooked this dish for Guy Fieri when Diner’s, Drive In’s and Dives paid them a visit. He brought us a beautifully constructed abalone slider with a seared sea scallop and prawn. The abalone was tender and lightly breaded and laid upon a slaw that complimented it nicely. The sea scallop was seared to perfection, falling right apart as you took your first bite. You can taste the passion that fires from within Chef Benito’s soul. He has been the Chef there for 14 years and clearly is a master at what he does.
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I highly urge my readers to please swing by LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle and experience culinary mastery at it’s finest. I have no problem driving 5 hours just to get my hands on another bowl of their Clam Chowder! They will NOT disappoint!
Loulou's Griddle In The Middle 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

Coffee on the Shore: Obexer’s General Store in Homewood, CA

Coffee in hand, big girl panties pulled up, fire in my eye and lipstick applied. I am now ready to face the day. Given enough coffee, I could rule the world. I was once told, if you are not shaking, you need another cup, and do I ever live by that rule.

Obexer’s General Store
5300 W. Lake Blvd., Homewood, CA 96141
http://obexersgenralstore.com

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Coffee, lakes and chocolate bacon, oh my! That is a fierce threesome. During my spontaneous and random trip to the lake, I noticed I felt “off.” I was still tired from my grueling 65 hour work week I had just wrapped up and was dragging. I checked my hands, and sure enough, they were calm and collected, so clearly, I did not reach my coffee limit yet.

First off, there are not too many places on the north shore of Lake Tahoe that offer coffee. Living in Reno, there are coffee shops on every city corner. I was a little surprised to be driving for miles and miles and not come across a small café or coffee shop, which in a way is nice that the beautiful trees and natural land have not been destroyed by a Starbucks Drive-Thru.

As we were approaching a bend on a two-lane highway, I noticed a deep red building with cute green awnings and written right across in big white letters were the words, “Fresh Coffee”. I immediately spun my head around like “The Exorcist” to make sure I saw those words right and I did. Hubs immediately knew to pull over on the side of the road and flip around.

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The adrenaline and curiosity were building inside me like volcanic pressure. I don’t think the car was quite done parking yet as I jumped out and told my husband “Sayonara”. As I approached the front door, I noticed a little sign that said Obexer’s General Store. I walked in to find it was an antique looking grocery store that had a full deli inside, along with liquor, groceries and of course, coffee.

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I asked the gal working the register what the story on the coffee was and if it was local. It was! They serve Alpen Sierra Coffee Company. They have a little coffee bar set up in the middle of the store with the beans, grinder, and bags for you to help yourself. They also serve it brewed hot, and have bags for sale as well.

The coffee is certified organic and carefully crafted. I chose the Costa Rica La Amistad blend. This is a full body blend with sweet aromas and a bold, satisfying finish. I was curious about this delicious coffee, so I did a little research on the roaster, and this is what I found directly from their site –

“In 1988, while on a rainy day trek in the Rohrmoos Tal, near Schladming, Austria, founder and Roastmaster, Christian Waskiewicz, was inspired with the vision to create Alpen Sierra Coffee Company in Lake Tahoe. Having spent much of his life in the Alps of Europe and the Sierra Nevada of California, Christian’s pursuit of the good life has become the foundation of Alpen Sierra’s goal of providing a quality experience through the enjoyment of excellent coffee, tea and chocolate.

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Serving its first cup of coffee in an historical log cabin on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe in 1991, Alpen Sierra has grown to become recognized as the premier craft roaster of specialty coffees in the Sierra Nevada. Locals and visitors enjoy Alpen Sierra Mountain Roasted coffees at home, in many coffeehouses and specialty food establishments throughout the world.” – Alpen Sierra Coffee Company.

Alpen Sierra will ship coffee, tea, and other products the same or first business day following your order date. Order online at http://www.alpensierracoffee.com.

Back to Obexer’s General Store.

After sipping on my coffee for a few minutes, I started to inquire about the adorable general store I was standing in. The gal at the register was so friendly and helpful. She told me that Sarah Obexer and the Obexer family were the first family to settle in Lake Tahoe and helped establish the West shore. The general store is over 100 years old and was established in 1911. I was also told, that the Obexer family is very hands on and is very involved in the daily operations of the store.

As I looked around, I noticed the deli counter that was over in the corner and saw they had thick cut, smoked, chocolate covered bacon slices. I absolutely had to have one. I was told there was a man in the store earlier who ate 12 pieces of this chocolate bacon, challenge accepted.  I quickly paid and went out to the dock that sits right behind the store and drank coffee, ate chocolate covered bacon and watched the boats sail across the lake. The bacon was salty, sweet, savory and devilishly delicious. My trip was now complete.

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If you are a local, then I am sure you already know about this darling general store that has so much to offer. If you are a tourist driving through, or live in Reno, I highly urge to visit Obexer’s and get the true meaning of what a “mom and pop” shop experience.

Thank you for an excellent snack and dose of coffee!

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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