Girls on Food

Goodies

Thanks a Melon: Jill’s Watermelon Agua Fresca

Who doesn’t love a good slice of watermelon in the summertime? And even better, a refreshing drink to cool off? I say combine both.

My husband and I had the Watermelon Agua Fresca at Whole Foods the other day and then decided to create our own healthier version of it.

The term ‘agua fresca’ usually represents a drink with fruit, water and sugar, but this healthier version is just fruit with a bit of water (and honey if you’re missing the extra sweetness). You can add your own personal flavor addition as well… I recommend Lime, Basil or Mint!

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Ingredients:

• Half of a Large Seedless Watermelon or a Whole Small Seedless Watermelon
• A large wedge of Lime or a few sprigs of Basil or Mint
• Enough water to cushion the blender
(Optional) A tablespoon of honey

Chop the watermelon in half and scoop the fruit out with a kitchen utensil of your choice and into the blender. Mine was the 3/4 Cup Measuring Spoon.

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Add enough water to cushion the blender (About 1/4 of the fruit covered in water). Add a little honey if you think you’ll miss the added sweetness of a typical agua fresca.

Blend on puree and pour into your favorite stylish glass. Then add your squeezes of lime or sprigs of Mint or Basil and let the flavor soak in. Chill in the fridge (or a shaker for some added fun and quicker chilling) and enjoy!

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To check out some of Jill’s artistic creations (including her blog), visit her artist website: facebook.com/jilltheartist

Fairy Tale Ending: 3 Little Figs in Somerville, MA

In Somerville, Massachusetts, on the outskirts of Boston sits a picturesque cafe cute enough to live up to the children’s story it is cleverly named after. 3 Little Figs, has much more than figs.

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Amazing Greek yogurt

3 Little Figs

278 Highland Ave

Somerville, MA 02143

617-623-3447

Home

I have been frequenting the coffee shop ever since I moved to the area last summer. It has proved to be a great place for hot or cold drinks, supplying me with the caffeine fix through out New England’s long and miserable winters and hot and humid summers.

True to the area’s diversity and Somerville’s vast ethnic food scene, 3 Little Figs makes delicious Greek inspired dishes from the traditional Spanikopita to a sandwich with Haloumi cheese.

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Spinach Pie

The egg and feta breakfast sandwich on a brioche roll has been my go to weekend brunch item. They also have decadent and amazing pastries. The lavender biscuit and blueberry coffee cake are among my favorites. While they serve Gimme Coffee from not too far away in Ithica, New York, they use milk from right here in Massachusetts.

They don’t allow customers to use their wifi on the weekends or even bring laptops, so customers can chill out and not worry about work. But for Monday – Friday, this is a great place to cram before a test or get your food blogging done.

Let’s Taco ‘Bout It!: Chandos Tacos in Sacramento

Chando’s Tacos anyone? It’s as good if not better than it looks!

Chandos Tacos

Chandos Tacos

Chando’s Tacos

943 Pleasant Grove Blvd

Roseville, CA 95678

916-782-8226

http://chandostacos.com

I’ve heard great things about this joint. Well, all the guys at work were talking about it and making weekly lunch runs, so my curiosity was killing me. I know they have a few locations, including one off of Power Inn and one in the Arden area. This particular day, I happened to be in Roseville and tried the one off Pleasant Grove Blvd. It’s basically around the corner from the Galleria Mall. So definitely keep that in mind after a long day of shopping!

I’ll let you know before hand, I’m picky when it comes to my tacos and they definitely impressed me! Chandos has their meats down to an art in authentic taste and texture. Since I was new to the place I tried a regular taco with Carnitas. They slow cook the pork then fry it off in lard, which is the traditional way cook it. Maybe not the healthiest, but it’s okay to live it up every now and then!

Chandos Tacos

They let you mix up tacos and recommend it for newbies so you can dabble a little. I made my second taco choice a lettuce wrap with carne asada. I’m definitely new to seeing a lettuce wrap taco! It’s butter lettuce that holds up to the portion thick meat and toppings. I really appreciate the ability to play with your taco ordering options. Great idea on their part because as much as I liked the butter lettuce taco, I still want a traditional taco or two along with it!

I also tried their Mulitas with “Birria”. I had no idea what this was and now I’m hooked. I personally fell in love with their birria. If you’re unfamiliar, like I was, it’s slow cooked shredded beef and it’s nothing short of amazing. It’s basically like having your grandmother’s roast shredded in between 2 corn tortillas.

Chandos Tacos

My second trip there was just for Mulitas and two alone were enough to fill me up! Here’s the description straight from their website. Need I say more?

“Expertly made by layering jack cheese and your choice of meat between two corn tortillas. Top it off with Chandos’s signature fresh cilantro, delicious diced onions, creamy guacamole and tangy salsa for an instant flavor explosion.”

Last, but definitely not least, I bought the salsa and chips because no Mexican meal is complete without it!

Chandos Tacos

It takes a good salsa to get my attention. I admit my standards are higher than most. They killed it! I’m pretty sure they used a season salt of some sort to pull off that flavor. It was simple, but just popped. The whole experience made me excited to see some little hints creativity while keeping to their authentic roots.

Chandos Tacos

So kudos Chandos Tacos for great prices, a strong menu, fantastic ingredients and an overall great experience.

I left with a new shirt too!

Chandos Tacos

 

Fired Up: Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox Annual Summer Brew Master’s Series

Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox

1101 S. Powerline Road

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

(954) 708 – 2035

tuckerdukeslunchbox.com

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Close your eyes. Imagine yourself enjoying a five-course feast coupled with seemingly endless amounts of beer. Now open your eyes. Yep, you’re still reading this post.

I am about to transport you to Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox Annual Summer Brew Masters Series, which included a five-course meal with a craft beer pairing with each step of the way. The Lunchbox is a local favorite but definitely an “if you blink, you will miss it” type spot, due to the location.

In partnership with Funky Buddha Brewery, Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox held their Annual Brew Masters Series and they graciously let me take part. I gauged the event menu beforehand and it was so bountiful that I did two workouts to prepare for the feast.

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This wasn’t your ordinary restaurant showcase. Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox is known for their world famous burgers, but the chef took a cuisine detour this evening. The first course was an appetizer of fried pig ears with chipotle aioli sauce paired with the Floridian; a blonde ale by Funky Buddha.

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Aioli is a mayonnaise based sauce and even though I am usually adverse to mayo-based anything, this was pretty tasty. It had just the right amount of kick with a smooth finish that was more chipotle than mayo. The pig ears had a texture similar to pork rinds, but with a lighter crunch. It was definitely an interesting start to the evening.

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The second course was a summer carnival staple: Corndogs with Hop Breath, an extra pale ale. However, the chef had a real twist in mind with this traditional fair food. Instead of a plain hot dog wrapped in breading, the chef infused chicken and veal into a sausage-like structure and used a waffle base for the famous corndog coating. The result? A corndog with a slightly sweet, fluffy outer layer, followed by the tender, perfectly blended texture of the chicken and veal. It was paired with hot pepper relish. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this course.

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The short ribs were up third and they were my favorite course on the menu that evening. The dish was paired with Big Guava Jelly, a beer that can be best described as an infusion of guava juice and blonde ale. The combination was heavenly.

Cooked to blissful tenderness, the short ribs were coated in Thai basil ginger sauce with a Coke reduction. The meat was served with white asparagus, which is something I have never had before but after tasting it I can see why the chef chose it. Its a more delicate taste than green asparagus. The flavor of the short ribs was powerful and the white asparagus complimented the dish without bringing too many competing flavors.

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If Indian based dishes are your fancy then you would have loved the fourth course. The chicken korma was topped with a smooth cashew curry sauce and served with white Indian rice. The beer pairing for this dish was the Hop Gun, an IPA which is one of the hoppiest beers you can enjoy. By this point, I was stuffed but there was one more course and it was definitely worth the wait.

The grand finale course was a fried chocolate cake with coconut sorbet, drunk beets and pistachio praline. It was coupled with Funky Buddha Brewery’s own craft beer titled “I’m so excited! I’m so scared!”. Any beer with a “Saved by the Bell” reference in the name deserves a high five!

so excited

The beer, a rich, chocolatey coffee imperial stout, was the perfect compliment to the final course.

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The dessert was topped with Bacardi 151 and lit on fire. After the flame died down, I was able to dig into the dish. I started with a spoonful of fried chocolate cake and followed by the coconut sorbet. That was a delicious bite with an added bit of kick from the beets, which had begun melting into the ice cream.

fire dessert2

There was an initial kick and let’s just say that the boozy vegetable delivered an extremely strong dose of Bacardi 151. I loved that the chef created something memorable and infused so many different elements into his dessert.

Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox will be doing another round of their Annual Summer Brew Masters Series on July 28th. If you are or will be in the area, it is definitely not one to miss. You can find more information here. To stay current with Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox events, visit their Facebook page or Instagram.

 

Bonnie’s DIY Tomato Veg Cocktail

VIRGIN....or, VODKA???
VIRGIN?….or, VODKA???

Oh, those lazy days of summer!

Every now and then I like to take a little time to read a book, sip a cocktail, and enjoy our beautiful backyard – completely ignoring the pile of shirts that need ironing and the carpets that need vacuuming.

Fiddle-dee-dee! Like Scarlett O’Hara, I’ll think about it tomorrow.

My beverage of choice today is a Tomato Veg Cocktail. Yes, I could have had a V8, or even bought Bloody Mary Mix. But I like to know what’s in my food, so I created my own version.

TOMATO-VEG COCKTAIL
TOMATO-VEG COCKTAIL

I wish I could say that all you have to do is throw everything in a blender and push the button. Unfortunately, it’s a little more work than that. The veggies need to be cooked for about 20 minutes so they puree better.

The other bit of work is strictly up to you and your preference. Tomatoes and red peppers both have skins that don’t completely break down, even in a high powered blender. What you end up with is lots of skin slivers. Also, the strings on the celery spine should be removed. These things are not necessarily bad – in fact, they add a little more fibre. However, I prefer my Tomato Veg Cocktail without the bits.

PEELING A TOMATO:

peeling tomatoTo remove seeds, cut the tomato in half horizontally and poke your finger into the crevasses. Firmly grasp each half in your palm, cut side facing out, and shake out the seeds.

PEELING A PEPPER:

peeling pepper

REMOVING CELERY STRINGS:

peeling celery

TOMATO-VEG COCKTAIL – makes about 3¾ cups

  • 1½ lbs tomatoes (2 large), skinned, seeded, and chopped in large chunks
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 2 T red beet, skinned & chopped
  • 1/2 cup spinach, sliced & packed
  • 2 T parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, peeled & chopped
  • 3 stalks chopped celery, strings removed
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1½ cups water
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1½ T vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Put the tomato, carrot, beet, spinach, parsley, red pepper, celery, onion, and water into a large saucepan. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook for 20 minutes. Stir now and then. Turn off burner and let mixture cool with cover on.

Pour into a blender or food processor and purée. Add in lime juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and sea salt. Blend on low speed. Adjust seasonings, if needed.

Refrigerate until it’s super cold.

Cheers!

Dehydrated Citrus: How To and Uses

IMG_5920I am the queen of best intentions, one of those great intentions is always having fresh citrus around to pop into tea, water, and recipes for an extra kick of flavor. The reality of this is that I buy a bunch of gorgeous fruits and then they proceed to go bad as I forget to use them, I toss them, and repeat the process. Fortunately a great way to fix this has been taking all that lovely citrus and dehydrating it for extended use. I have a dehydrator but if you don’t you can easily dry a batch of fruit in your oven too.

How To Dehydrate Citrus

Select the fruit you want to dry. I am using limes, lemons, and oranges. Make sure they are IMG_5576clean and remove stickers.  In order to get the zest and fruit but not the bitter white pith I peeled the zest away with a carrot peeler. Try to get as little pith as possible by keeping your peels thin and not pressing too hard. After I peeled the fruit I cut it into thin slices so that this can be dried separately. At this point you have to decide if you are going the oven or dehydrator route. The dehydrators are great, more energy efficient, and not too pricey. But if it isn’t something you will use a lot or have limited space you may just want to use your oven.

In the Dehydrator

I have this affordable 5 tray dehyrator from Ronco, it is pretty simple but a good value if you’re looking to get one. Mine does not have options for temperature, so if you are using a different one I recommend checking your manual for individual temperature settings and IMG_5579dry times. For mine I just place the zest strips together on some trays since they dry faster and the citrus meat on the others. Since they dry slower and need more time I put the meat in the bottom closer to the heat source. I checked on it and in about 8 hours the zests were ready to be removed. Left overnight, close to 24 hours, I removed the meat slices. I left them a little longer so they would get really dry, but they may brown a tad bit. There were a few thin cut ones that I had to remove sooner. Checking in on your fruit is really important but since it is such a slow process with the dehydrator there is a lot of room for negligence.

In the Oven

Your oven will dehydrate much quicker so make sure you keep a little more vigilant with IMG_5577checking in on your fruit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and lay all the zests together and meats together without overlapping. Place your oven at it’s lowest setting and prop the door open a bit (I used a folded pot holder). Everything here will depend on how low your oven goes, mine has a lowest setting of Warm and then 200 after that, so I’m not really sure what “Warm” is quantified as. My zests were finished within 3-4 hours and the wheels of fruit were done around 8 hours.

Uses

This is the fun part! Experiment with using your dried citrus where you would normally use fresh. Try the meat versus the zest. I love the vibrant flavor of the dried flesh but the zest can add a nice understated zing to food and drink. Make sure you store them in airtight containers once cool.

Seasonings- try pulverizing the meat or zest in a spice grinder and make your own seasoning mixes or set aside for those recipes that call for citrus zest. Homemade lemon pepper anyone? Try lemon sugar for your iced tea and my personal favorite, a snappy orange salt for margarita rims.IMG_5557

Drinks- Add a strip of zest or a wheel to water or tea. Keep them in ziplocs in your purse to pep up your water on the go. Try making your own tea blends featuring the dried zest.

Candy- If you are a fan of sour candy then this is nature’s gift to you. I pop the dried flesh out of the wheels and eat it straight. Oranges are a fun sweet and sour treat, lemons will have you wincing! As much as I love limes raw, they just don’t do it for me here but give it a try.

Cooking- use in broths, marinades, and the like to add extra flavor. I can’t wait to add some of my slices to the next pot of cuban black beans I make!

Ciao-ing Down: Seattle’s Gnocchi Bar

Gnocchi (knee-o-key): Pasta in the form of potato dumplings; simultaneously, every Italian pasta lover’s dream come true. Alas, more often than not, said pasta enthusiasts face a hopeless, defeating journey to find this elusive meal, which is (debatably) the best creation Italy has yet to grace our earth with.

I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m a fan of gnocchi. So I was extremely excited to learn that while I was traipsing around Santa Barbara for the last four years, Seattle managed to make my dream a REALITY. That’s right – the hip, colorful neighborhood of Capitol Hill is now home to Seattle’s first gnocchi bar, appropriately named Gnocchi Bar…. basically, I moved home to try this place out:

Gnocchi Bar

1542 12th Ave

Seattle, WA  98122

(206) 328-4285

gnocchibarseattle.com

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How precious is this view?!

I had no idea what to order, as each menu item was begging me for a taste (with respect to the meaty ones – sorry carnivores). But as the odds were clearly high that I would return, I went with the first meal that caught my eye:

Gnocchi with Roasted Portabellas, Mama Lil Peppers (straight from the Pacific Northwest), Artichoke Hearts, Basil Pesto and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Check the beauty out:

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It took a lot of self-restraint to stop for a photo.

The meal was everything I had hoped for: lots of spice (from the peppers), pesto on pesto, a balanced mushroom-artichoke ratio (I never go straight for either of these but Gnocchi Bar altered my thinking), carbs (because it wouldn’t be an Italian restaurant without bread), and the centerpiece… GNOCCHI (duh).

The only shortcoming I experienced at Gnocchi Bar was the portion size. Pretty small (I felt like the vegetables outweighed the pasta itself), but then again, I love my starches and carbs, and I LOVE to eat (hence the food blog contributor status, eh?). So in comparison, your average Cap Hill hipster may find this meal the perfect appetizer for their art-music-psychedelic-super-cool-Seattle-filled-day.

I’ll definitely be back for more Italian goodness. Oh, and I almost forgot… They sell gelato too. Say what?!

Ciao, foodies, and stay tuned for my next adventure. There are SO many restaurants around here I have yet to explore. This is only the beginning…

xoxo

 

 

 

 

Rice to Meet You!: Sushi Song in Deerfield Beach

Meeting friends for sushi is brutal if you suffer from a shellfish allergy. However, I did not let my friends all the fun with their fancy rolls. I scored two scoops of heavenly Deerfield Beach Mud next door at Kilwin’s Ice Cream before they got there. The name of this flavor may sound a little unappetizing, but this sweet treat was exactly what I needed before heading to Sushi Song. A little ice cream before dinner has never hurt anyone, right?

Sweet before savory.
Sweet before savory.

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Sushi Song

123 NE 20th Ave.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

954.481.3883

http://www.sushisong222.com

This tucked-away restaurant is native to South Florida and offers three locations throughout the area. I happen to live right by this one in Deerfield Beach, FL. It is perfect for happy hour or even a date night and I have been here for both.

I met a group of friends here after work a few days ago and thought it would be great to spotlight the place. We were just in time for happy hour. Of course, sake is a house staple and while it’s not my cup of tea, they do have a fun selection for those who are into it.

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I started with my absolute favorite plum wine, Choya from Japan. Usually, I shy away from the sweeter, dessert style wines but I have a weakness for this one. When the waitress brought out the glass, I got a little surprise in my drink in the form of a small ume fruit. It is the attention to detail and little touches like this that make Sushi Song stand out among the sushi places in the area.

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Enough about the drinks. Let’s talk food! Because I cannot order much in the way of sushi, I was grateful to my friends who ordered some amazing rolls and allowed me to take a pictures before they dug in. Let’s face it – while my spicy tuna and California rolls were super tasty, they are not very exciting to talk about.

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I did want to capture this combination plate in full, which included the Dragon Roll, a shrimp tempura roll with cucumber, topped with avocado and completed with a drizzle of unagi (eel) sauce.

 

If there was one roll I was insanely jealous I could not eat, this was it. The Maine Lobster Volcano looked absolutely amazing. It features baked Maine lobster, set atop of a shrimp, cucumber and avocado roll, glazed with unagi sauce.

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Here’s another variation of Maine Lobster Volcano that the chef made special for another one of my friends. This one has barbecue unagi as well as lobster.

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This roll is Sushi Song’s Dancing Eel. This takes the California roll and turns it on its head by topping with barbecued unagi and unagi sauce. My friend thought she’d just eat one roll, but it was so good she ordered another.

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All of that unagi sauce action made my simple spicy tuna and California rolls seem not as fun. But, even my simpler rolls were delicious. If you are ever in the South Florida area, drop by one of Sushi Song’s three locations and tell them Girls on Food contributor Mo sent you!

Creamy Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos

Bacon-wrapped jalapeños are the queen of snacks, perfect for the Women’s World Cup Soccer parties this weekend (if you’re going) and it’s really easy to make.

Ever since I was introduced to these, I’ve been cooking them for all the parties I had. All my guests like them. Even the pickiest eater I know, my Grandpa, loves them.

I broil them in the oven, but you can also cook them on the BBQ for a hint of smoky flavor. The BBQ is a little harder but it’s worth it. It will require you to tightly wrap the bacon around the jalapeños.

 

Creamy Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos

Ingredients:

  • 6 Serrano (or Jalapeno) Peppers (Jalapenos if you like it spicy!)
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese
  • 16 oz Hardwood Smoked Bacon (Applewood if you like it sweet!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the peppers in half and dispose of the insides. It’s up to you if you want to leave the stems. Personally, I think it helps to pick them up while eating.

Spread cream cheese evenly inside the peppers without overflowing.

Wrap the peppers in bacon, starting at one end and finishing at the other.

Place peppers, cream cheese side-up on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes and then broil until desired crispiness.

Take them out, let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy your gluttonous snack!

To check out some of Jill’s artistic creations (including her blog), visit her artist website: facebook.com/jilltheartist

Milking it: Using Moopon All Over LA

The struggle is real for us at Girls on Food. My love of dining out and experimenting in the kitchen has been pretty brutal on my wallet. I’ve been trying to curb my spending as much as possible. I recently downloaded a free app from the iTunes store called Moopon. Moopon is a mobile coupon system that alerts you when you’re near their promotions. I recently drove through K-Town and my phone exploded with deals. This is a win for me, cause I love exploring K-town goodies.

The exterior of The Original Ramen Burger
The exterior of The Original Ramen Burger.

The Original Ramen Burger

239 S. Vermont Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90004

ramenburger.com

Vermont Ave is packed with some of K-town’s finest Asian restaurants and The Original Ramen Burger fits right in. The infamous burger was voted one of “the 17 Most Influential Burgers of our time” by Time Magazine. Keizo Shimamoto, a ramen-fanatic blogger turned Chef, created this concoction and I feel like he just raised the burger bar tremendously.

*heavy breathing*
*heavy breathing*

Although it’s a food stand, with limited outdoor seating and a not so glamorous view (including a bus stop, a Von’s and a trash can), it has its charm and creates a little bit of a social atmosphere. I can make new friends at a communal table while I wait to pick up my order.

I got a child-like glee when the burger arrived. I was a Top Ramen and Quarter Pounder junkie growing up, this feels like they got married. The patty rests in between arugula, green onion, Shimamoto’s shoyu sauce and the fresh ramen noodle buns. I assume they boil the noddles, then fry them together so they hold. So the bun is soft, and towards the end is fun to eat. The noodles start to come apart at the end, and that is where you can get the traditional ramen “slurp” on. It’s like I’m “Lady and the Tramp”-ing myself and I’m okay with that. The deal I got from Moopon included the Ramen Burger, Miso Garlic fries and a beverage of my choice for only $10. That’s such a great deal for LA! I was so full after this and I even had fries leftover. #yougottatrythis

The Venitian exterior.
The laid-back exterior.

Flake 

513 Rose Ave

Venice, CA 90291

310-396-2333

veniceflake.com

I’ve been coming to Flake somewhat regularly ever since I moved to Venice. It’s fast casual dining, with a surfer/hole in the wall feel to it. I always get great service here and they do make a great dirty Chai Latte (chai latte with a shot of espresso, I get almond milk). So, I feel like they deserve some Girls on Food love.

Matty Chai - Sweet and spicy.
Matty Chai – Sweet and spicy.

Flake has been a breakfast institution for Rose Ave residents since 2007. They get their breakfast sandwiches right. What I really appreciate about this place is that the options fit every kind of customer. If you want to keep it slim and get an acai bowl, you can do so. If you’re dining with kids and all they want are sugary brand name cereals we all know and love, you can do so. If you’re like me and you want to add bacon to anything, you can do so.

SGS - No MSG.
SGS – No MSG.

My personal favorite breakfast sandwich is the SGS. It comes with scrambled eggs, bacon, Gouda cheese, their secret sauce (which I could bathe in) on an English Muffin. The secret sauce is a must add for any of their savory sandwiches. Make sure you get some on the side, if your sandwich doesn’t come with it.

Check out the Moopon app here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/moopon-social-coupons/id920895743?mt=8

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GOF Sneak Peek: Whole Foods Playa Vista

Whole Foods’ new Playa Vista location officially opens Wednesday, 6/17, but, GOF got the inside scoop a little sooner than the locals. Below is a tour through photos of the new digs.

It may have been gloomy outside but the staff was full of pep!
It may have been gloomy outside but the staff was full of pep!

 

 

Whole Foods

12746 W. Jefferson Blvd

Playa Vista, CA 90066

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/playavista 

Yes, I will.
Yes, I will.
Inside the new location
Inside the new location, it will be packed with produce come Wednesday.

This location is huge, it’s 35,000 square feet huge. This location isn’t limited to just groceries, if anything, it’s like a health emporium. There is a 5 level parking structure with plenty of spaces, free wi-fi and iPhone app Instacart provides home delivery service to locals. The use of natural lighting makes this location easy on the eyes. The panels and coloring used on the walls make it feel fun and sunny- just like Playa Vista. They nailed representing the location very well. I love that the art panels are made with repurposed materials. WF can’t resist a chance to recycle.

Bulk goods- one of the best money savers at Whole Foods
Bulk goods- one of the best money savers at Whole Foods
Can you ever go wrong with lots of cheese? I think not.
Can you ever go wrong with lots of cheese? I think not.
The Breakfast buffet- a Whole Foods staple.
The Breakfast buffet- a Whole Foods staple.

We all know and love WF for their efforts in creating over 420 stores that sell natural and environmentally conscious items. Now, we can know and love WF for their restaurants. You heard me right, this location has a restaurant and bar. In addition to a beer and wine license, they got liquor license. This is a first for WF and I hope starts a trend. The Astro Pub is where it all happens.

Where the magic happens
Where the magic happens.
The bar, when you see it, it'll be packed.
The Astro Pub bar. Next time you see it, it’ll be packed.

I cannot wait to invite my girlfriends for a happy hour drink (or two!) and a grocery shopping session. The art-deco themed Astro Pub has a countertop bar, table service, indoor and outdoor seating. The menu has a wide variety of treats including apps, pizzas, cast-iron skillet dishes, pub fare, seafood and sushi. Even the pickiest eater can finding something yummy on the menu.

Love the kitsch seating!
Love the kitsch seating!
WF BAR 2
A Michelada popsicle cocktail? Win. Perfect for upcoming LA heatwaves.
Cooling off with a cocktail.
Cooling off with a cocktail.

Besides the Astro Pub, this location offers some other unique treats. There well-known breakfast buffet features a savory oatmeal station. Brown sugar and raisins are so last year. This station features 3 unique oatmeals: Mediterranean (eggplant, feta cheese, kalamata olives), Thyme and Shallot (thyme, shallot, mushrooms) and my personal favorite, Chicken Curry (chicken, curry, bell peppers).

Savory Oatmeal Bar.
Savory Oatmeal Bar.
My favorite, the Chicken Curry Oatmeal.
My favorite, the Chicken Curry Oatmeal.

 

Playa Vista in "healthy" font.
Playa Vista in “healthy” font.

The juice bar offers fresh made juices and smoothies. They are also going to start making ice cream sandwiches (inner child is rejoicing!). It also features a Sambazon Acai machine, which disperses the antioxidant rich acai like frozen yogurt. That’s healthy and great… but I really want that ice cream sandwich!

Acai bowl topped with granola, berries and bananas.
Acai bowl topped with granola, berries and bananas.
Beer aisle.
Beer aisle.

The 36 foot long beer aisle feels like it never ends. It’s beautiful. It just keeps going.

The cider collection.
The cider collection.

I learned on this tour that it takes a lot for hard cider to be sold at a WF. Many well-known ciders are rejected from WF for having too much high fructose corn syrup. Even with those rejections, there are still plenty of options here. Gluten-free friends, you have a new emporium.

The Poke bar. Mike is too cute to not feature...
The Poke bar. Mike is too cute to not feature…
Poke bar close-up.
Poke bar close-up.

I wish all WFs had a poke bar! Staff member Mike was also very educated on the product knowledge and created a fantastic mango sauce for us to sample the poke with.

Bulk up!
Bulk up!

There is also a Bulk Protein bulk station (see what I did there?). This is great for those who don’t want to commit to a huge plastic tub and want more variety.

My new favorite pastry- Filled Kouignettes
My new favorite pastry: Raspberry filled Kouignettes

Move over Cro-nuts. Kouignettes are taking over. These were amazing. They’re like if a  croissant and a cake made a baby, then stuffed the baby with raspberry filling and baked it. When it’s baked, the sugar gets crispy (similar to creme brûlée topping) at the bottom. You have to try one!

Getting my Kouignette on.
Getting my Kouignette on.
Draft kombuca and coffee
Draft kombuca and coffee

Their already fabulous organic and fair-trade Allegro coffee/espresso bar got some new features. First, is their draft Stumptown Coldbrew Nitro and the Allegro Draft. These coffees are frothy and have a sweeter finish. Second is the draft kombucha, from local supplier, Conscious Kombucha. The healthy hippies of LA, and those with sensitive stomachs, are going to love this. These draft beverages will make the Starbucks mermaid logo across the street glare in jealousy.

There were a couple of aisles that weren’t quite ready for us to snap a picture of, that you should know about. There will be a large selection of Paleo Diet friendly meals in the produce section. The bakery will be packed with desserts, including their tasty macaroons. The meat display also wasn’t ready, but I heard there is going to be a blueberry smoked bacon, which I cannot wait to try.

Whole Foods Playa Vista will be a game-changer in LA. I hope it’s a game changer for grocery stores all over the USA. You have to stop in and see it. It’s like Disneyland for foodies.

Are you keeping up with the Girls on Food on Instagram? Follow us at @girlsonfoodblog to see some salivating images that don’t always make the site! #foodporn

Whole Foods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

YOGURT MADE IN A THERMOS? Crazy….Like A Fox!!!

Bonnie enjoying a little homemade yogurt!
Bonnie enjoying a little homemade yogurt!

Who makes their own yogurt?  I DO!

Why? Because it’s healthier than store bought (look at the list of ingredients on nearly every carton – yuck)! Plus, I’m frugal (okay, cheap!).

Yogurt is good for you in so many ways, such as boosting the immune system, helping the digestive tract with good bacteria, and adding needed calcium to our diets (Hear that, ladies?).

I make it in a thermos, which is the perfect medium for growing a culture since the temperature remains constant. It’s super easy and, once you get into the routine of making it, you’ll always have pure, healthy yogurt at the ready. You can watch my how-to video by clicking HOMEMADE YOGURT IN A THERMOS.

A word of warning – homemade yogurt can be an acquired taste since it doesn’t contain all the sugars and thickeners that companies add to make it sweet. So, just add your own fruit or granola, if you don’t like the tartness of plain yogurt.

While the actual amount of work time is about 15 minutes, the cooling and incubation bring the total time to about 13 1/2 hours. So, DO THE MATH! Start the yogurt when you’ll be available to remove it from the thermos.

CREAMY HOMEMADE YOGURT!
CREAMY HOMEMADE YOGURT!

NOTE:  Put aside enough plain yogurt to start your next batch before adding in the goodies.

HOMEMADE YOGURT:  Makes 32 oz

  • 1 quart milk (I use nonfat)
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1/4 cup PLAIN yogurt (either from your last batch or purchased)

–  Heat liquid and powdered milks in a saucepan to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat.

–  Prime 32 oz thermos with hot water.

–  When milk cools to 110 degrees F, gently stir in yogurt.

–  Empty water from thermos and pour in milk. (Use a funnel – trust me on this!)

–  Cap the thermos and set aside UNDISTURBED for about 12 hours. The length of time depends on your taste preference – the longer the incubation, the tarter the yogurt.

–  Remove yogurt from thermos and refrigerate.

Be sure and check out my blog, VEGETARIAN COOKING FOR CARNIVORES BLOG.