A couple of days ago, my friend and co-worker, Quinn and I had a great idea to indulge in our pun obsessions and decided to try a little piece of the Middle East (Get it? Piece? Middle East?). Essentially doing a food crawl and sampling everything at a local Middle Eastern restaurant and its vegetarian sister restaurant next door.
The same people own both Mamnoon Street and Anar, Racha and Wassef Haroun. They also own another restaurant in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, also called Mamnoon, but there you can sit down and enjoy cocktails with your food.
The Haroun’s came to the Pacific Northwest to work in the tech industry. They decided to plant roots here and brought a bit of their Syrian/Lebanese heritage with them into the restaurant scene. They have found their place amongst the foodies and have expanded their availability and visibility by opening up two more locations in the Amazon campus in downtown Seattle.
Our first stop during our food crawl was Mammon Street. We opted to sit outside in the wind, as opposed to dining inside like a rational people would. However, sitting outside when it’s NOT raining in Seattle is a treat one can enjoy when the opportunity arises.
I ordered both the lamb and chicken shawarma. I had every intention of eating just a little bit of both to give a fair review, but as soon as I started to bite down into the lamb, I couldn’t stop. I began to feel full right away, and I wasn’t even a 1/4 of the way finished with it. So I knew that trying the chicken shawarma would have to wait until later, but it eventually went into the eager hands of my Uber driver later that afternoon.
Quinn wasn’t as ambitious as I was (since I suffer from eyes bigger than stomach syndrome), so he ordered a kefta arayess aka sandwich with a side of halloumi cheese.
Of course, there was no waiting to take a pic for this guy. He’s all about business and just started noshing. I was able to snag a little bite of the kefta arayess and was struck by the perfect balance of seasoning in the ground beef and the saltiness of the halloumi.
Eventually, Quinn gave up and decided he was full while I still wanted to go to Anar.
Anar is right around the corner from Mamnoon Street. The vibe inside looks like a typical juice bar with the display of fresh veggies. I’ve been there before, and I die for their iced Turkish coffees. But what I’m really all about is their lentil and brown rice dish called Mujadara.
Topped with pickled turnips and Greek yogurt, this dish is also extra filling. I knew that I would be eating this for leftovers during the week because it might not look like a lot of food, but it’s a lot of food. I did manage to take a few bites, but honestly I could have exploded at that point.
Also, I couldn’t leave without getting the chia seed pudding topped with apricot jam for the road. Again, this is something to be enjoyed when you have room in your stomach.
The price points for both Mamnoon Street and Anar are relatively reasonable, and you get a huge bang for your buck. I don’t recommend driving to their location because parking is awful in this part of downtown Seattle. If you are in the area and are looking for a better option than Thai food or a sub sandwich, either one of these fantastic places will be a welcome change for your taste buds!
The Romans conceived the first known pie recipe, and it was a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie. Then pies began to appear in the early 12th century, but mostly meat pies. Fruit and sweet pies are thought to be first made in the 1500’s. In fact, the English claim to have served the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I.
Fast forward to the English settlers coming to America. Fruit and sweet pies make their way over. And as you would expect from this melting pot of a country, we took it and decided that pie was an American treat.
I have no business ever being a history teacher.
Today, I’m going to take to take you into one hole you’ll never want to get out of – The Pie Hole in DTLA Arts District!
Whenever my friends from outside of LA are coming to town, The Pie Hole is always at the top of my “must-eat” list for them. Consistency with a brand I love is so important to me, and The Pie Hole nails it every time.
I’m a gigantic fan of their Maple Custard, Earl Grey Tea, and Mexican Hot Chocolate, but for this post, I decided to try other favorites, and a couple of the savory pies as well.
Upon this visit, I got to chit-chat with owner Lindsay Hollister. Lindsay runs The Pie Hole with her husband, Matthew Heffner. Their inspiration for opening their shop was inspired by the amazing pies Matthew’s mother, Becky Grasley, baked for them. Right after Lindsay took a bite of her mother-in-law’s apple pie, it inspired her to pursue owning a pie shop. For a while, it seemed like a pipe dream, until 2010 when they got their first investor.
After lucking out on a Craigslist search for space in DTLA Arts District, they opened in 2011. At that time this area was on the gritty side, but they decided to take a leap of faith on the space. To this day, The Pie Hole is there, and it’s become an LA favorite for myself and many others.
What separates them from many other businesses is that a lot of thought goes into all of the ingredients. They do not compromise on quality, and you can taste it in the pie and their coffee.
You can’t have a slice without coffee. The Pie Hole offers a light, medium and dark brew. I went with the medium and to quote Agent Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks) “A Damn Fine Cup of Coffee!”
The coffee is roasted locally in small batches to keep the quality in check. Lindsay makes sure only to use beans that are fair-trade and organic. She also stressed to me how she only works with certain farms to make sure employees are fairly treated with fair wages. This is why it’s so nice to go outside of a major brand!
Another fun fact about the beans they use is that all three blends can be used as espresso beans, it’s all in how to grind it.
I started off with two savory pies. I went for the Chicken ‘N Cornbread and the Mac ‘n’ Cheese. The Chicken ‘N Cornbread reminds me of an improved chicken pot pie, which even in LA heat, I will crave. The crust texture is crisp, flakey and buttery and dense in the places you want it to be. There is a brothy chicken gravy with the chicken and bell peppers. So comforting. So delicious.
The Mac ‘N’ Cheese pie is so good; I think it should be featured on the Food Network! This pie is packed with mac ‘n cheese as the filling, and the top crust is dusted with herbed bread crumbs. It may feel silly to eat noodles in your pie, but trust me, it’s worth the treadmill session.
I cannot believe I hadn’t tried the Salted Caramel Pecan before. It’s without a doubt, the best pecan pie I’ve ever had. The consistency of the filling was perfect, and the flavor is salty and sweet. I did get this one a la mode, and it was just beautiful.
I also ordered the Cereal Killer Cheesecake. This cheesecake had Fruity Pebbles cereal in the filling and topped with Corn Flakes. That cream cheese filling has the perfect amount of sweetness to it. The graham cracker crust is thinner than many cheesecakes I’ve had in the past, but was great. It allows the filling to shine.
The Pie Hole has expanded into three other locations in the Southern California area. Future locations will include the Westside (October 2016), and Lindsay hopes to open in the Valley. She is also expanding the business to Japan. The menu won’t have the exact items, to keep up with what is local and in season. A Matcha Green Tea pie will be an absolute must for them though.
The Pie Hole is bringing the love of pie and coffee to Southern California locals. We’re very excited to see how they grow. I have a feeling the options for expansion are infinite for these pies.
What’s cooler than an ice cream cone on a summer’s day? A ton of sweets, treats AND ice cream! Welcome to the Sweetery Toronto, Toronto’s one and only solely confectionary festival. This festival is their second time around and with the help from the City of Toronto, they hosted a FREE festival out on David Pecaut Square located right next to the Roy Thomson Hall.
With over 25 vendors and food trucks, there was more than enough sweets and treats for the day. The event is held over a two-day period, August 20-21, right in the downtown core.
This year they collaborated with the George Brown College’s Chef School. The sweets and treats created by the Post Graduate Pastry program students were part of their final grade and the profits obtained are used to help elevate their costs for their semester learning in France.
We got to sample multiple different treats from coffee based creations to artisan marshmallows, to matcha everything! Cool Beans has a refreshing new take on the cold brew.
Want fancy and unique marshmallows? Well, I LOVE PUFFY LOVE have you covered with these crazy creations; I loved the pina colada paradise!
One of this summer’s craze in Toronto is Matcha everything. Matcha Tea & Desserts provide matcha soft serve that tastes very matcha like and their cake is just so light and match filled!
As a wonderful bonus, we got an opportunity to try some goodies created by Masterchef Canada Season 2 Top 5, Christopher Siu, Masterchef Canada Season 3 Finalist, Ernie Chow, and Masterchef Canada Season 3 Top 4, Veronica Cham. Christopher Siu also sells custom cakes and treats through his company, Daan Go.
Oh, and of course, we cannot forget the simple treats in life, cookies, and pies. The pistachio cookie from Golden Crumb Bakery (along with others) was super soft and delicious!
While the fresh cookie and gelato from Carla’s Cookie Box were perfect during that hot weekend
Now, we cannot forget the tarts and pies from Andrea’s Bakery. The pies had the perfect balance of sweet and flaky.
Once you’ve had your share of sweet treats, guests are welcome to compete in their various activity tents. Guests play to win prizes with their payment for the activity donated to Second Harvest, “the largest food rescue program in Canada.” Not only do guests benefit from the prizes and fun but they are also giving back to the community.
There were a lot more other vendors that I was not able to capture, but this is just the beginning for Sweetery Toronto. Be sure to follow them to stay up to date for their next event in 2017!
Chrystal here and it’s my first recipe on Girls on Food! I just want to start by sharing a recipe perfect for summer. Since pineapples and cherries are superb this time of the year, I thought I’d turn them into some beautiful turnovers. I love these pastries because they’re simple and great if you’re busy traveling and need a quick breakfast, spending a day at the beach or just want something to satisfy that sweet tooth. These turnovers are also fun to bake with your friends!
Cherry Pineapple Turnovers
Recipe makes about 1 dozen large turnovers
Preheat oven to 350º
For the dough:
1 package store bought pastry sheets
1 egg with a TBL of water for egg wash
For the filling:
1 cup cherries
1 TBL unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar
1 TBL orange juice
1 TBL Cornstarch
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
The first step is to make the filling then let cool.
Here’s how to make the filling: Wash, rinse, and cut your fruit into small pieces think ¼ inch to ½ inch size. Set those aside and gather the rest of your ingredients.
Start by heating a small sauce pot and melting a tablespoon of butter on a med/low heat. Once melted, add your sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and all your fruit.
Using a spatula mix all the ingredients so that the sugar is coating the fruit and all the spices meld together.
Whisk your cornstarch with orange juice in a small bowl (this will make your filling thick). Once the ingredients are mixed and have been on heat for a couple of minutes, the sugar and the juice from the fruit combined should make a soupy like a compote, this is when you can add that orange juice and cornstarch mixture.
Once you add that, again continue to stir for a couple more minutes, and you will see the fruit and all its juices become thick, it might look a little like jam. As soon as this occurs, turn off the heat and transfer into another bowl to chill. Place in fridge until the turnovers are ready to be assembled.
To assemble you will need a few more things:
A rolling pin
A flat board or work surface
Flour for dusting
A pastry brush for egg wash
A fork to close seams on turnovers
Sheet trays and parchment or aluminum foil for baking
Cooking spray or baking spray
Preheated oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you have everything, a preheated oven, fruit filling and egg wash (whisk an egg with some water in a small bowl, this is to close the turnovers).
Now let’s get started, I use the Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Sheets, which come two to a box. Flour your work surface and then place one of those sheets on top. With a floured rolling pin, slowly apply pressure to the dough by rolling back and forth until it becomes a wider rectangle on all sides. Roll until you have a half inch wider on all sides, then cut your dough in half, then in thirds so that you have six even squares.
Spoon your filling in the middle of each square; one generous spoonful should be fine.
Next, using a pastry brush, brush egg wash on all sides of each square, then take the bottom left corner of each square and pull the dough over to the right corner forming a triangle. Do this to all six squares. Then take a fork, flour it, and press that fork along all sides of each triangle creating a closed seam and a lovely design.
Place each triangle on a sprayed baking sheet. Clean your surface a bit then do the same steps with the other sheet of dough. Once all the turnovers are on the baking sheets, egg wash them and make a couple of tiny slits on the surface to let some steam out while baking. Bake for 20-25 min till they have a nice golden brown color. Let cool for a few minutes and then enjoy!
I just got back from my trip to Honolulu, Hawaii and I think it’s safe to say… I need to go on a juice cleanse. The food was so delicious; I couldn’t help but savor every moment! Below are my top 5 favorite foods from my trip:
I think everyone should attend one luau in their lifetime. Since this was my 12-year-old niece Sydney’s first trip to the island, we felt we had to take her to one. Germaine’s Luau honors Hawaiian traditions very well.
Cons: It’s packed with tourists, and you sit at communal tables (which means forced conversations with strangers). It requires a rush hour bus ride where your participation is encouraged by the escort (again, forced conversations with strangers) and I can’t say the food was up to par with restaurants featured below.
They also insist you try poi. I’d never decline the chance to try traditional island eats, out of respect… but yikes. I can’t even. Poi is basically a goopy gravy made from the stem of a taro plant. It’s cold and weird and even when you mix it with other foods, it’s just one big NOPE. The most bizarre thing is that I’ve had taro several times in desserts, so how can something so right as a dessert, taste so wrong as poi?
Pros: The live show entertainment was awesome! It’s hula dancing, and they bring out fire dancers! Sydney even went up on stage to dance with them! There’s beautiful live music, the host of the show is great and our escort, Georgie, was very entertaining on the ride over. She made getting through rush hour traffic much more pleasant.
The Kalua pork was cooked in the traditional imu, which an underground style oven. There is something very special about seeing the roasted pig raised from underground. Traditional Kalua pork is not sold commercially in any other state except Hawaii, so I made sure to savor every bite of it.
I’ve had a lot of bad shave ice in my life. They were just too syrupy, too sweet, too messy, it was never really my thing. I’ll be honest with you foodies; I didn’t even want to order anything when we got here.
Holy cow, I would’ve missed out on the best shave ice ever. I’m convinced it’s the best shave ice ever because I’ve never seen it prepared this way (note: I’m from California and part Filipino. Sorry, no one around me ever got this right).
I got the lychee flavor with a coconut cream. Mind blowing. The lychee flavor tasted refreshing and not artificial (although it may be). The syrup pour size was the right amount and didn’t overkill those last ice bites. But the coconut cream added a milky richness to it that I haven’t experienced with shave ice.
To view a video of shave ice in the making, click here.
Despite having such a lackluster experience with the taro based terror, poi, earlier, I heard rave reviews about the Island Taro coffee-free blended drink. Now, I’m a black coffee kind of gal. I’m not really one for sweets (I especially hate Starbucks Frappuccinos) so I wasn’t sure I’d be into it.
I was so wrong. I’m convinced this drink is made from the Hawaiian gods and delivered to us by hula dancing angels. It tastes like exactly like cake batter. Like an addictive cake batter that you can just drink down. I didn’t feel dehydrated or gross after it either. It’s just absolute heaven in a cup. It’s a must-try, and they have multiple locations, see website.
4.) Sweet E’s Cafe 1006 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
That bite ended up with me ordering a full meal and a pancake on the side. And was a lovely overestimation of hunger it was! My mom and Sydney and I just ended up chowing down on each other’s plates, cause everything was so good!
I feel like this image reeks “This is why you’re fat”, but here’s what we had starting from the bottom left:
Blueberries and cream cheese French toast, side of Canadian bacon, side of banana pancake, Portuguese sausage, Everyday Breakfast with Kalua Pork and Kalua Pork Benedict.
The Kalua Pork Benedict was my favorite item. The eggs were poached to a runny perfection, and the hollandaise sauce had the right amount of lemony tang to pair with the shredded pork. The blueberries and cream cheese French toast was also creamy, dreamy and sweet.
You can view video food porn of this dish by clicking here.
This island style brunch spot is another recommendation from to me by friends. And it just so happens to be another female-ran business, the owner is TV personality and Chef Lee Anne Wong.
Warning: The cocktail I got was a special, so it may or may not be available. Sorry readers, I hate doing that, but I cannot turn down a Coconut Margarita. I’m a big fan of Pina Coladas (and getting caught in the rain), so if I see coconut as the main ingredient in a cocktail, I’m all over it. I especially loved the toasted coconut rim.
Oh boy. Cornflake French Toast. Topped with bacon and a Frosted Flakes gelato. I had to. It just sounded so ridiculous, and it was ridiculously delicious. The Cornflakes on the outside of the French Toast as crispy and buttery. And the bacon adds a savory bite to it. I think it should be mandatory to have gelato melting on top of all French Toasts from now on. This has risen the bar for French Toast so high; I don’t know if I can go back to anything else now.
You can see video food porn of Koko Head Cafe by clicking here.
When you’re in Honolulu, you have to walk down Chinatown; the stretch features many restaurants, galleries, and shops.
The Pig and the Lady is owned by Honolulu-born chef Andrew Le, a James Beard Foundation Rising of the Year Semifinalist. His influence for The Pig and the Lady comes from his mother’s Vietnamese heritage. And, fun fact, she is the Lady reference in the title. I’m a big fan of Vietnamese food, so I was very excited for this lunch.
But first, drinks! I ordered the Golden Pig, herbs, lemon and sparkling rosé. I’m a sucker for anything with rosé so, of course, this was my choice, and it doesn’t disappoint.
We started with the Vietnamese pate chaud, a flaky, croissant-like puff pastry stuffed with savory pate. This French-Vietnamese treat is a perfect start to the meal.
My entree choice was the Pho French Dip, beef brisket roasted for 12 hours, glazed with P&L BBQ sauce, Thai basil chimichurri, charred bean sprouts, and onions and a load of cilantro. Every item in this sandwich contributes its unique flavor, and it’s not overwhelming in any way. The flavors play together beautifully. The pho broth on the side is meaty with a light essence of herb. This is one of those dishes I’ll never forget!
Click here to see more food from The Pig and the Lady here.
Mahina & Sun’s, well-known Honolulu local Ed Kenney’s fourth restaurant, is fresh to the Honolulu scene. It’s located in the recently opened Surfjack Hotel, which is close to Waikiki Beach.
Surfjack Hotel has this kitch, vintage-inspired feel to it and I will for sure be booking a room there on my next trip. I feel in love with the pool that reads “wish you were here” on the flooring. That cute, mid-century-hip look extends into the restaurant as well.
Everything was phenomenal. That starts with my first cocktail, the Mr. Pink. Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin, Lillet, Yellow Chartreuse, Dry Curacao, lemon, egg white and rose flower water. It’s tart but has a mellow creaminess to it from the egg whites foam. I could sip on this and sit by the pool all day long.
The first snack was a Shinsato pork pate, which was whipped to perfection. The dip-ready sides were pickled veggies, buttered and toasted sweet bread and a (so delish) mango mostarda, which is like candied fruit with a mustard syrup. Mostarda may sound a little odd to some of our foodie readers, but you have to try it. I just wish the portion was a little bigger.
I’m known for getting pizza in whatever part of the world I’m in. I’d order pizza in Pakistan if I ever went. So although Hawaii isn’t quite known for perfecting pizza, we ordered a great one here. The Naked Pig Pizza is a thin crust pizza topped with Naked Cow cheese (fun fact: the only dairy farm in O’ahu), bacon and maui onion. This results in a light but lovely pizza. We also tried the Sweet Land Farm chèvre beignets, which have a borderline doughy hush puppy consistency to them, so don’t expect a light NOLA style beignet.
My favorite dish was the Grilled He’e (aka octopus) & watercress salad, with ricotta, potato, green olive, and dill. The flavors together work perfectly, and it’s also a beautiful dish to gaze upon.
The dessert menu looked amazing, but I ended the dinner with The Lavender Rub, a cocktail with Tullamore Dew, Amaro Montenegro, Lustau East India Sherry, Femet and lavender bitters. There’s no better way to end the night than with a strong, floral cocktail- and this hit the spot!
I loved the use of local ingredients and unexpected flavors. I know it’s new to the Waikiki scene, but I highly recommend trying Mahina & Sun’s out!
You can watch a little video on dinner at Mahina & Sun’s here.
I discovered this cute cafe walking down Ventura Blvd with Christina B. Even though our tummies were already stuffed with ramen from down the street, how are we supposed to turn down churros? Especially churros with ice cream? I don’t know anyone with the willpower to reject that.
These aren’t your arena churros. Made to order, so be prepare to wait about 10-15 minutes for yours to arrive and believe me, it’s well worth the wait. The churros come piping hot, and the crispy dough tastes super fresh.
Christina ordered the plain churros with a scoop of vegan coconut ice cream on the side. That’s my fresh cup of black coffee on the right. The churros are the star of this dish, but the vegan coconut ice cream was also splendid. It managed to have a traditional milky flavor that some vegan ice creams have a tougher time emulating.
I ordered the Churro Waffle as an ice cream sandwich. This was the perfect menage a trois of 2 hot churros and one scoop of ice cream. I kept it simple and chose vanilla with a Nutella drizzle. The ice-creaminess with the churro, Nutella drizzle, and that extra sugar- let’s just say it’s pretty much an orgasm on a plate.
Even if you have to take the 10 to the 405, it’s worth the commute to come out here. They even have gluten-free churros and a full espresso bar.
I was so excited to hear there was finally quality coffee shop opening in my hometown of Fremont! Coffee that’s roasted in house, a stunning and plentiful interior and exterior space, and delicious local pastries? I was in before I even stepped into the shop.
I’ve been to Devout when they were still selling off of their cart inside of their incomplete shop and now with its complete renovation. Devout Coffee started in 2013 with two brothers using a barbecue converted into a coffee roaster to roast and create quality coffee. Knowing that finding a good coffee shop was about 30 minutes in any direction (San Francisco and San Jose), they decided to shake up the coffee scene in their town of Fremont.
Initially selling it off of a cart in Niles, they opened the storefront close to two years ago. Niles is one of five neighborhoods that merged to create the city of Fremont. Niles is considered a historical part of town with its antique shops and eateries, but it’s mostly known as the birthplace of Hollywood! Old westerns and Charlie Chaplin films were made in the town, and one of the first major West Coast film companies used to be stationed in Niles before they moved out to what is today’s Hollywood.
Back to Devout – when you step inside, it feels like you’re in San Francisco at a higher end coffee spot. They’ve renovated the walls from the bright and airy walls to dark walls with minimal decor. They have beautiful wooden tables, a comfy couch, and outlets for chargers. I love the minimalism vibe they have going inside. It feels like you’ve left the old neighborhood of Niles and Fremont and are up in the city, without the hassle of trekking all the way over there. They have their espresso machine in the front and the coffee roaster in the back. All of the roasts are made in-house, and they also have a monthly coffee club where you can get their roasts delivered to you at different price points for however many bags you choose. The baristas and staff are friendly and knowledgeable they can explain to you their roasts and flavors if you have any questions or need advice. Although I do love everything about this place, I would love it if they started doing cold brew coffee, as this would be great for the hotter months. I know people say hot drinks cool you down, but I don’t think I would be able to do this everyday. A friend of mine works in a coffee shop, where she said she did the same thing and asked her manager if they could start selling brewed coffee, to which he said yes to! All she did was look online and print out a something like the JoeFroyo sell sheet and he was more than happy to upgrade the stock. Considering I’m always at this place, maybe I should give it a go. It’s worth a try. I’m sure everyone will thank me later on, especially in the summer!
I ordered a TCHO Mocha the times I’ve visited Devout, and it’s excellent. They use TCHO Chocolate in their coffee, and it has that thick, chocolatey flavor in the drink that makes it so great. I love the frothy cream on top that helps balance out the thickness from the chocolate. I liked the bitterness of the coffee because it was subtle and not acerbic. The bitterness doesn’t linger which is awesome, and I also appreciate that they use local ingredients like TCHO, based out of SF.
To accompany my coffee, I ordered a blueberry donut. They have a bunch of other pastries, which looked equally appetizing. I know that some of their savory bread pastries are from Firebrand in Oakland. I, unfortunately, can’t remember where the sweet pastries and donuts are from, but they were fantastic. My friend had an apple cinnamon donut, and I just had to try the blueberry one. Y’all know I got it because it was pretty and I’m glad appearances weren’t deceiving! It wasn’t a dense donut; rather, it was light and fluffy without being overly sweet.
While the inside is nice and calming and is a great environment to work in; I love the outdoor patio space! It’s my favorite part – outside of the coffee, of course. I love that there’s a cute space to sit and enjoy the sun when it’s a beautiful day in the Bay. I’ve been out there in the afternoon and the morning, and it’s serene. You see people walking around Niles perusing the shops and getting brunch. I also love the aesthetics and decor inside and out – it just makes you feel good. Devout Coffee is this little oasis in an intimate town setting in suburbia.
To the surprise of some of you I truly and madly love vegetables. It almost feels funny to say it out loud; I know you guys don’t picture me as the kind of girl that eats her greens but because my favorite plant-based restaurant is celebrating their first year I wanted to share with all of you this little piece of healthy heaven.
Make Out is located in a 1920s building in the heart of Culver City. The place is modern chic and what I like the most is that it has a very inviting café vibe. It has an array of big tables and -be warned- once you hit the couch you will not want to leave. The menu is full of healthy nutritious food mostly vegan and raw, and you will be able to enjoy juices, smoothies and/or a full meal. The beauty of it is that it doesn’t matter what you eat either way you will be doing your body a favor.
To start my meal, I ordered the Kombucha. It was fizzy, refreshing and came in a bunch of flavors I had pineapple. And the special of the day: the Nachos Fiesta. The Nachos were made with blue corn tortillas, vegan cheese and pico de gallo. I think that they should add the Nachos permanently on the menu because they were so tasty.
After that, I wanted to try some of the soups. And because I’m a good Mexican, the first soup I tried was the bean soup. Let me tell you it was so comforting; there is nothing like having freshly made bean soup when it’s cold in LA. Then I had the Squash soup. It had crunchy pepitas on top, and it was so incredibly creamy that it is hard to believe that it was dairy-free.
From the small plates section on the menu, I decided to have the Spicy Carrot Roll made with nori better known as seaweed, jalapeño “cream cheese”, cucumber and avocado. What an inspiring take on sushi! It was soft on the outside and crunchy on the inside. The plate was not only beautiful, but the roll tasted splendid.
I proceeded to try the flatbreads. I went with the Pizza flatbread that has Sundried Marinara, Pistachio Pesto, and Macadamia Ricotta. I’m telling you that Ricotta tasted like the real deal!! Followed by the Fennel flatbread. This one has baba ganoush, mint, lemon, and capers. Both of the flatbreads were delicious, but I was particularly taken with the Fennel flatbread. I I have never had a flatbread like that, it was good simple ingredients in a very innovative way.
To end my meal I wanted to try the Kelp bowls. So what is this Kelp thing? It is a kind of brown seaweed that is super high in nutrients. Best of all it is fat-free and gluten-free. Kelp is typically referred as noodles although they don’t taste or feel like pasta. I love them, so I tried the Almond Kelp bowl that comes with kelp noodles, carrot, lime, ginger and spicy Almond. As soon as I tasted it, the first thought that crossed my mind was Pad Thai. It tasted like the healthy version of that. Then I had the Pepper Kelp Bowl. It has black pepper, olive crumb, and snap peas. I had not had this one before, and it was delicious. It tasted like the best Alfredo pasta (minus all the fat and carbs) that you’ve ever had; it was creamy, complex and so savory. I was so impressed with this bowl.
I was super lucky because I got to try the new desserts that are coming soon to the menu thank you Make Out. First, I had the Raw Cheesecake Fudge. This little beauty is dipped in raw cacao. And it tastes just like it sounds: amazing. And then I had the Coconut Chocolate Hazelnut Mouse. Creamy, chocolaty, nutty…it was gorgeous. I can only describe it by how I felt and I was invaded by deep sadness when I had the last scoop. I just didn’t want it to end.
As you can see, I completely pigged out at Make Out. To be honest, there is not a thing on the menu that isn’t exciting. The food is healthy, flavorful and very creative. Best of all you are doing something good for your body every time you eat like this. I am so happy that Make Out is celebrating its anniversary I wish them many successful and healthy years!
About seven years ago, while pregnant with Haley, I started having the most fantastic, recurring dream.
I’m in a big box store that looks and feels exactly like Costco. The place is massive, with dozens of racks that stretch from wall to wall, ceiling to floor. Each rack has diagonal shelves like you see in a bakery. On each shelf are rows and rows of trays. On each tray, in perfectly lined rows, are hundreds of teeny, tiny, little desserts. Little fruit tarts. Little chocolate cakes. Little apple crisps. Little cream puff pastries.
I’m not ashamed to admit that when I have trouble sleeping, I lie with my eyes closed and visualize my magical little dessert store. This dream is my happy place.
This Easter, my family, took a break from our usual tradition of a low-key Mexican buffet and decided to get all gussied up and have Easter Brunch at Riverwalk Cantina, nestled in the coziest corner of the atrium in The Gaylord Texan Resort.
There, I got to experience my dream in real life, and it was so much better than my imagination could ever conjure up. In my dream-come-true, I got to have all of the little desserts as well as a sampling of some of the best New American cuisine I’ve ever had.
The Dorns’ are a buffet loving family, and I consider myself to be a well-qualified connoisseur of the genre. I love a cruise ship buffet, a country club buffet, a cafeteria-style buffet, a well-stocked salad bar I’m all in as long as the food is delicious and well prepared.
This Easter Buffet was, without a doubt, one of the very best, if not THE best buffet I’ve ever had. I was even able to meet and chat with the Executive Chef, Zeb Hartline and he gave me a personal tour of the whole operation.
Chef Zeb is a brand new Texan, who just moved here a little over a year ago having graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando. It seems that Texas suits Chef Zeb just fine. He’s even part of the Texan Smoke Bandits, an award-winning, Gaylord-Sponsored, competitive BBQ team. Chef Zeb brings a classic and refreshing culinary point of view to Dallas.
His Easter buffet menu is a masterpiece. It is creative and ambitious, delicious and totally relatable. I would love to see more Chefs like him in Dallas.
When it was time to make my first plate my head was spinning. Culinary sensory overload was at a ten. Luckily, I had everything all planned out ahead of time.
Jan’s Easter Buffet Action Plan
Avoid the bread, pastries and breakfast items. I’m sure they’re all wonderful, but I can’t have a Texas shaped waffle taking up precious space in my stomach.
Save desert for last so I can have it with coffee.
Eat two bites of everything until my Spanx give out.
Right in the heart of the Cantina were three huge caldrons of shrimp, oysters on the half shell, and crab claws over ice. I decided to start there.
I limited myself to two shrimp and two crab claws. If that’s not self-control than I don’t know what is. Then, just past the seafood, lie a table of awesomeness the likes of which, I’ve never imagined. Stretched across a twelve-foot table, piled up in adorable, “please eat me” pieces were eight different kinds of cheese.
Eight perfect little, deliciously stinky, cheesy mountains interspersed with rustic loaves of bread, jars of house made pickles and hills of Texas chorizo, capicola, and prosciutto.
Heaven, y’all. It was cheese HEAVEN.
I took one piece of each cheese and one slice each of the prosciutto and capicola. I stopped at the soup table, got a ladle-full of the lobster bisque and headed to the table for round one. It was almost impossible not to eat and walk, but I restrained myself.
So, you know how sometimes, you bite into a piece of cheese, and it’s so good that you forget how to think for a few minutes?
No? Just me?
Well, that’s absolutely what happened to me when I tried the Red Dragon whole grain cheddar. This cheese was on another level. If Arsenio had tasted this cheese, he would have been furious.
The shrimp and crab were cooked perfectly. I’m adding cold crab claws to my party appetizer menu.
The lobster bisque was so rich and creamy that I was mysteriously incapable of eating it without closing my eyes. My bowl should have had a bit more lobster in it, but unfortunately, the gentleman in front of me had fished out all the big lobster chunks before I could get to it.
At this point, I was feeling pretty good and nowhere near full. Main course(s) time.
In the main courses area, the Chef had different action stations set up. At one station chefs were preparing Pan Seared Scallops with sweet corn puree, brussels sprouts with ghost peppered caviar. At another, he had Braised Chicken Tinga and Rock Shrimp Salad Tacos. Familiar foods with an elevated touch made the place feel so much more lively than your standard, Easter Buffet Snoozefest.
Chef Zeb had the basics very well represented. The ham, prime rib and lamb were perfect, and this is not an overstatement. All of it was perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. Perfect sauce pairings. I was beyond impressed.
Of all the main dishes, the Pan Seared Salmon with farro, fava bean, rainbow chard and the vegetable mole was my favorite; I ate every last bit of it. I’ve never eaten or cooked with fava beans before, and Chef told me of the painstaking process involved in double peeling the beans for close to one thousand diners. Well bless the man’s heart, I sure do appreciate the effort. I can’t wait to incorporate them into my recipes.
Finally, finally, finally, it was desert time. The Executive Pastry Chef at The Riverwalk Cantina is Chef Arthur Surman. This man made my dream a reality.
Little mango mousse tarts. Little key lime pie. Little chocolate brownie. Little cream puff. Little chocolate eclair. Next to my wedding day and the birth of my two children, this was the greatest day of my life. I put one of everything on my plate. I got some funny looks from folks on the way back to the table, but I didn’t care. I was about to enjoy 15 different deserts, and my Spanx were holding up beautifully.
Chef Zeb couldn’t have been kinder, and he is a talent that I will be watching closely from now on. I can’t wait to see how he grows in the future, and I will be back to The Riverwalk Cantina. I also want to thank him for going the extra mile for us parents by setting out a very impressive kids buffet. I appreciated the consideration so much as did my kids, Chloe and Haley.
Also, thanks, Mom and Dad, for deciding to do something different and special with us this year. xoxo
Romancing the Bean Cafe is a family own and run cafe that fits perfectly with its neighborhood. Located in the super cute and community oriented Magnolia park in Burbank. Kerry Krull’s is the owner and chef. Her son Ramsey set up the computer system of the place and from time to time acts as a barista and her daughter Kendra decorated the place. The atmosphere at the cafe is very chic. It has an upscale vibe with a warm welcoming décor.
Romancing the Bean Cafe
3413 W Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505
GOF, Girls on Food, got invited to sample the new menu at Romancing the Bean. The point of the event was to showcase the exciting new food and drinks that are currently being served. They are proud to use the freshest organic ingredients available to them and to support local farmer markets. Their menu has been crafted with a little bit of something for every taste including gluten free bread for the gluten free Angelinos.
They welcomed GOF with a beautiful and delicious table spread that included some of their best selling items that you can get in their sammies, wraps and salads. We had samples of their famous chicken curry, salmon tartare, tuna, Italian chop salad, the superfoods salad and amazing cheese and cold cuts plates with a variety of bread.
I particularly liked the superfoods salad. It was so tasty and full of good foods like kale, almonds, cranberries, blueberries and goat cheese.
I also enjoyed the tuna, but then again I’m a sucker for tuna. It was flavorful and lite. It is made with albacore, capers, red onions, lemon zest and tomatoes. So good!
Romancing the Bean cafe is the perfect place to catch up with friends, meet people for business or just to have a little bit of me time drinking an amazing cup of coffee. They’re open 7 am – 7 pm during the week and 8 am – 5 pm on the weekends.
Have you ever eaten happiness? Would you dare try to count the flaky layers in a freshly made butter croissant like it was a gumball jar guessing game at the county fair? Ever discovered a new favorite flavor through a mispronunciation? “What is a Queen Al..i..mond?” “You mean a Kouign Amann?” The person behind the glass says with an informatively easy going smile, the worker clearly knew how to create a customer centric experience. “It is a croissant that has a layer of caramelized sugar on the top. They are delicious!!” Have you ever delved into a smiley face mocha or indulged in a peanut butter or cheesecake brownie so good it can only be described as decadent?
Well, I have. On a quiet little street, in a shopping center as ordinary as shoelaces, next to a hair salon and a craftsman’s frame shop, sits a little café, a café so unsuspecting you would almost speed right past it if it were not for the devious smells wafting out into the cool Northern California breeze. On this sleepy little California back road, in the town of Larkspur sits a culinary gem, the original Rustic Bakery. Even in the local area it something of a hidden phenomenon. Maybe they should look to boost their online presence by using Local SEO Audits. With its brother store looking over the San Francisco Bay at Marin Country Mart on the opposite end of Larkspur and its sister store found at the gateway to Sonoma County in Novato on Grant Street, Rustic Bakery has become one of Marin Counties premiere eating locations for anyone eager to taste classic French baking and pastry at the highest quality. A bakery and company that has become so popular that Pope Francis, the pontiff himself, personally requested flatbread crackers and crostini be served on his private flights across America. Not too shabby a request for a small town bakery which has always demonstrated big-time ambition yet has always respected its own noble beginnings. It would be great for this wonderful bakery to grow even more with additional exposure. I guess in the modern climate this would be best achieved online with a dependable seo company.
1139 Magnolia Avenue
Larkspur, CA 94939
Rustic Bakery is the taste bud taunting dream come true of Carol LeValley. Just as “passionate about art, design, baking and local organic food” (North Bay Business Journal, June 2013), this Willie Wonka of Challah started with something as simple and down to earth as the idea of making crackers. She has built the name of Rustic to mean more than just rural or simply fashioned. It has come to be associated with something fresh, something true and something good. The unpretentious bakery and café that Carol has created offers her patrons the opportunity to put the hustle and bustle of life on hold and just take a moment to enjoy the simple things in life, like meeting with an old friend and enjoying an irresistible nosh before getting back to the real world.
At Rustic Bakery, organic ingredients transform themselves in the hands of their proud assemblage of trusted bakers. Classic treats like cinnamon rolls and Pain Au Chocolate
are given just as much attention as newer temptations like savory wheat free scones and orange olive oil cake. Like so many busy Mr. Geppetto’s actually handcrafting their creations, each baker pays special attention to detail, ensuring that the nut-to-sugary goo ratio is perfect on every pecan sticky bun and that the crunch in each loaf of Polenta Sourdough remains the same from the first slice to the last. It is this meticulous attention to detail which has allowed the Marin County community to so easily embrace Rustic Bakery.
Now when you first walk into a Rustic Bakery be prepared. You and your senses may be a little overwhelmed. While everyone in the trusted staff often suggest you get one of everything “just to make your life easier”, look carefully or you might miss something. Towers of temptations stand before you, just waiting to be gobbled up. Croissants of so many varieties, scones and muffins,
giant cookies (chocolate chip with pecans with a tall glass of milk is definitely my weakness); strata and croissant bread pudding and the most eclectic selection of freshly made bread is a literal feast for the eyes and tummy. But just when you think you have seen everything and you have hit a deliciousness overload, look up and you will discover even more… the café menu.
From a classic breakfast Panini, to parfaits with seasonal fresh fruit and the most addictive granola you have ever tasted,
to the seemingly endless sandwich selection, all made with their own fresh bread and the best organic ingredients Northern California has to offer. So many salads to choose from, like the Asian Chicken or Updated Chicken Cesar with half kale and half romaine lettuce. You can go bold and choose the Saigon Sandwich, a 5-spice roasted chicken sandwich with pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, jalepeño, cilantro and radish cress with spicy soy dressing; or you can choose to go a bit more classic with the quiche and soup combination. I personally love going with their delicious and eclectic soups. Soups so good they makes any Campell’s soup can run and hide in fear and any little old grandmother stand up and cheer.
Even with all of the comforting food Rustic Bakery has to serve up and dish out, the best, most engaging part of the entire Rustic experience is the warm and friendly atmosphere. Anyone of the Rustic crew members is more than happy to assist in any way they can. From loading up heaping high boxes of after soccer game goodies to celebrate a championship win, to helping create the perfect cheese, cracker and wine pairing for your next gift or family gathering. Just look for anyone in the signature black Rustic t-shirts. They are the first voice you hear when you walk through the doors. Quick with a “Good Morning!” or “How are you?” They are there not only to give you that quick caffeine and sugar jolt you need just before you drop the kids off for school or get in a quick 12 mile run before work. They are there to give you even just the briefest moments of pâtisserie positivity to start, continue and end your day. They are more than the people who make artfully create your café latte.
Those who work at Rustic Bakery are actresses, mothers, aspiring singers, survivors; students of life and lovers of so many things, like elephants, sea turtles, and anything and everything Michael Jackson. They come from all different backgrounds and cultures and have all journeyed down different roads. At the most complex yet simplest of summations, they can really only happily be described as one thing: a family. The warmth that is felt resonating throughout the bakery comes not just from the ovens in the back, which over the years have turned out thousands if not millions of delicious treats, but also from the employees in the front. Who really, when you get down to it are there just waiting to help the next customer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!