Girls on Food

Wine

Staying At The St. Jane Hotel And Dining At Free Rein In Chicago

My annual summer trip to Chicago was met with a big first for me – it would be the first trip with my 4-month-old daughter Marie! Usually, on my trips, I freely roam the city, restaurant to restaurant doing whatever I please… those days are over.

Now that we’re traveling as a family, I have a lot to consider when looking for a hotel. I wanted to make sure my stay was comfortable for baby Marie, charming to the eye for my husband and food-centric for myself. I was a little nervous about staying at a boutique hotel because I wasn’t sure how baby friendly it would be. Many boutiques I’ve stayed in, tend to be a smaller in bedroom size, with more sophisticated furnishings – great for adults but I need to consider the little one.

We decided to book a junior suite at the St. Jane Hotel, which opened in July, and it delivered on all 3 counts.

This boutique hotel is located in the 37-story Carbide and Carbon Building, built in 1929. The outside maintains an art deco flair with its black granite and gold accents and the moment you walk in, it feels half Great Gatsby half Lana Del Rey – Jazz age meets hipster chic.

Carbide and Carbon Building
Baby Marie loves the art deco style!

The Premiere Junior Suite is a bit of splurge, but it’s so perfectly spacious that it’s worth it or a family vacation. The astonishing views of the city, a roomy shower (that also has a beautiful city view!) and a big comfy bed are worth the upgrade. Bonus: the toiletries are products by Mason Margiela’s ‘Replica’ Jazz Club line, my all time favorite perfume!

A view from our room at night

St. Jane Hotel’s key restaurant is Free Rein, a modern French brasserie led by chef Aaron Lirette, who obtained a Michelin star for GreenRiver. Free Rein serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, offers a coffee shop, full bar and provides the hotel room service. Here’s how I savored the hotel with an ultimate epicurean stay.

I started the bright and early at their café, which is separated from the main dining room. The coffee is provided by Chicago fan-favorite Dark Matter and pastries by fellow Michelin star collector, pastry chef Evan Sheridan of Sixteen.

The Ham and Cheese Croissant, although not shaped in the classic crescent style, the Ham and Raclette is still flaky, buttery and I loved the addition of mustard on top. I loved my Dark Matter lattes every morning too, but with the time changes and general baby exhaustion, I did fuel up on their Nitro Cold Brews as well.

Ham and Raclette Croissant
Latte

Later on, Chicago Girls on Food blogger Hilary met up with me for lunch, where I was able to get a little break from the family and do what I love to do the most – explore a new restaurant. Highlights from this lunch included:

Sweet Corn Soup– corn, scallion, and coconut

I always love a presentation of soup pouring! 

Kanpachi Crudo– English peas, heart of palm, citrus, caviar 

Soft Shell Crab BLT– Bacon, gem lettuce, Old Bay aioli

Saffron Spaghetti – tomato, fine herbs, parmesan

I loved all of Chef Lirette’s artful takes on American classics for lunch. If I had to choose tops spots, my number 1 was definitely the Soft Shell Crab BLT. This succulent sandwich is paired perfectly with the crispy Old Bay seasoned fries. The Kanpachi Crudo is a close second, it felt like a spot-on execution of “summer on a plate”. For lunch, I recommend washing it all down with a glass of Virtue’s Rosé Cider, it’s crisp, lightly floral but pairs perfectly with any of the dishes above.

Virtue Rosé Cider

For dinner, the lights dim down and it feels a little fancier at Free Rein. The menu expands out to a number of new options, including large format items, intended for sharing.

I started with a glass of Clos des Papes “Le Petit Vin d’Avril” a rich, Rhône blend to pair with decadent dishes. The absolute favorite item was the Foie Gras Tourchon with black truffle, Marcona almonds, cherry compote and summer berries. This item will be available on the Fall menu, so make sure you pop in there soon!

Foie Gras Tourchon

My other favorites included the Tomato Salad, with black garlic, cucumber and sourdough and the large format Dry-Aged Slagel Farms Ribeye with chanterelle mushrooms, potato puree, and beef jus.

Tomato Salad
Dry-Aged Slagel Farms Ribeye

Staying in a very touristy part of town and relying on the hotel to have extraordinary food sets a bar very high and sometimes isn’t realistic, but Free Rein and the St. Jane Hotel exceeded my expectations.

GOF Tip: The room service menu offers some items from the Free Rein menu – go for the Smoked Whitefish Toast. Since I was watching Marie, it’s nice to have an easy-to-eat but still gourmet meal around!

Baby Marie admiring the gold elevator doors

Although the lunch portion was provided by Free Rein, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Winc’s Folly Of The Beast Pinot Noir Paired With Barbecued Lobster Tail

When I think of Pinot Noir, I can’t help but think of the pivotal scene in the 2004 film Sideways as seen below. Paul Giamatti’s performance in this scene epitomizes how romantic one can get when talking about this extraordinary red wine.

Although sipping on a beautiful bottle of Pinot Noir is fantastic itself, with National Pinot Noir Day coming up here on Saturday, August 18th, I wanted to try something on the unconventional side with our friends at Winc.

Since Winc’s most popular Pinot Noir, Folly of the Beast, is coined after the famous Moby Dick quote “For there is no folly of the beast of the earth that is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men,” I wanted to play around with the idea of pairing it with one of the tastiest beasts of the sea- lobster!

Pinot Noir cultivates in cooler climates, especially around the west coast, I got inspiration for this Folly of the Beast pairing from my idea of a perfect whale watching barbecue. Note: sand and sea are not required for this pairing.

Take $25 off of your first purchase with Winc courtesy of Girls on Food.

Some of you out there may be scratching your head, wondering how a Pinot Noir would pair with anything seafood related. Lighter bodied reds, like this Pinot Noir, pair well with grilled fish and crustaceans, due to the smokiness from the barbecue process, which plays with the notes of spice from the oak aging process.

In addition to my instructions for barbecuing lobster, I have also included 2 different butters to either spoon on while you’re cooking, or to keep handy on the side to dip the meat in. Both butters will pair with the Folly of the Beast Pinot Noir as well.

Barbecued Lobster Tail

  1. Purchase lobster tails from any market that follows safety and HACCP regulations. My local butcher butterflies the lobster for me, but if you’re not able to have them do it, cut the shell with a pair of kitchen shears.
  2. Heat barbecue grill to a medium-high heat.
  3. Open the lobster and grill directly onto heat for 5 minutes each, flesh side up. I basted each lobster meat with one of the 2 different butters below.
  4. Remove from heat and pair with roasted potatoes, dipping butters from below and a bottle of Folly of the Beast.

For the butter recipes below, combine specified melted butters with the ingredients and mix. Easy!

Classic Lobster Butter

1 cup of salted butter

2 tbsp of minced garlic

2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley

Zest of lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

 Smokey Lobster Butter

1 cup of salted butter

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp canned chipotle chiles en adobo, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 tbsp of minced garlic

1 tbsp finely chopped green onion

1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

Zest of lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

One of the many things we love about this wine club is the mix in selection. Winc offers a variety of higher and lower priced bottles of wine and none of them skim on quality. Lobster may be a pricer crustacean, but a bottle of Folly of the Beast is only $18 through Winc (and between us, that’s less expensive than Whole Foods’ price) so you can keep your backyard barbecue party within your budget.

When it comes to pairing foods with your Winc box, think outside the box!

Take $25 off of your first purchase with Winc courtesy of Girls on Food.

Come Rosé All Day With Us At wineLA’s Rosé & Bubbles Festival

ATTN: LA Oenophiles!

Are you ready to taste the very best in rosé and bubbles with us at wineLA’s Rosé & Bubbles Festival?

We’ll be at this event and hope you can join us!

BUT FIRST- HOP OVER TO OUR INSTAGRAM BEFORE FRIDAY, AUGUST 17TH FOR A CHANCE TO WIN 2 TICKETS TO WINELA’S ROSE & BUBBLES FESTIVAL! 

I attended my first wineLA event last month for the 4th Annual Stars of Pinot event and now I’m hooked!

When: August 25, 2018

2 PM – 4 PM for the Afternoon Session

7 PM – 9 PM for the Evening Session 

Where: Leica Store & Gallery
8783 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048

Ticket Prices: Check out ticket options and buy your ticket here.

BONUS: USE PROMOCODE “ROSE10” TO SAVE $10 OFF 

Tickets are selling quick, so get on it!

Image via wineLA

Both afternoon and evening session tickets include:

  • Unlimited tasting of wines in the beautiful Leica Space. Confirmed reps that’ll be on site to pour include:      Domaines Ott, Scharffenberger, Champgane Henriot, Fleur De L’Amaurigue and many more!
  • Unlimited tastings of appetizers provided by Petrossian West Hollywood.
  • A chance to bid on wine, tours and more luxurious items through a silent auction, benefiting the TJ MARTELL FOUNDATION.
  • Awards given for best dressed male and female to the Rosé Theme- no idea what’s in store for this, but it’ll be fun to see what attendees come up with!

Check out ticket options and buy your ticket here.

Be sure to follow along with us @girlsonfoodblog, where I’ll be posting live stories from this event!

CHEERS!

New Brunswick Restaurant Week 2018: Catherine Lombardi

Guess who’s back…back again…Fatboi’s back…tell a friend. It is I, Jess, the ghost of Christmas past, coming to you after a year-long WordPress hiatus. In the past year, I started grad school and have been grinding it out, while Christie’s been managing a sports facility and running 23812947 Spartan races (aroo!). But don’t worry, we’ve been just as committed to the #fatlyfe.

July 14th kicked off restaurant week in New Brunswick, NJ. ‘Til the 28th, the hottest spots are offering discounts on beverages, meals, desserts, and everything in between. From ramen to Ethiopian cuisine, to jam-packed strombolis at Stuff’s, there’s something for everyone. It’s a great excuse to have a fancy date night, dinner and drinks with the girls, or a family outing.

I decided to give Catherine Lombardi a try, after hearing great things about their Italian fare. I easily mapped out my prospects from their $39 three-course menu, prior to even setting foot into the building. I rolled out of bed, changed, and headed to Catherine Lombardi accompanied by my childhood friends (s/o to Marce and Cee, the OG’s). Scoping out the restaurant, I quickly regretted my outfit choice. I looked like a fat baby who got separated from her nanny, in my floral jumpsuit. Wine glasses and fancy linen napkins dotted every table, and everything was RED; the walls, the velvet curtains, the carpet, the upholstery. It was what I imagine entering Christian Grey’s red room of pain would feel like, but not as terrifying.

I dove right into the wine menu (overwhelmed by the number of categories I never knew existed) and zeroed in on my go-to, Pinot Grigio, and ran with it.

For starters, I ordered the Caprese salad with house-made mozzarella. Tomatoes are either a hit or miss for me, but I easily chowed them down, and the house-made mozzarella was divine. 

I’m obsessed with anything and everything truffle, so I had to go with the Garganelli with truffle cream, prosciutto, and asparagus as my entrée. The prosciutto was the perfect addition, balancing out the truffle flavor.

Marce opted for the linguine with shrimp scampi. Obviously, I stole a bite, and it was a delicious rendition of the Italian classic.

Cee chose the tortelloni with Parmagiano-Reggiano cream and bolognese sauce. We actually had to google if tortelloni and tortellini are the same and *spoiler alert*, they are. I may have an Italian last name, but I had no idea wtf was going on. You may be looking at this picture thinking, ‘What gives? There are only 6 tortellonis.’ I thought the same thing until I sampled some, and the tortellonis were stuffed with filling, making it a reasonable portion size.

To round out my trifecta, I opted for the mascarpone cheesecake. It was incredibly creamy and tasted flan-like.

Marce selected Mrs. Palmisano’s cookie plate. To our delight, the cookies were melt-in-your-mouth soft and delicious. This plate would make any Italian grandmother beam with pride. 

Cee went for the mango sorbet. It didn’t knock her socks off, but I was pleased with the refreshing zing. 

Not only was the presentation on point, but the food quality really knocked it out of the park. All of the ingredients were incredibly fresh, making for flavorful dishes. It was fun pretending to be bougie for a night, all under the guise of a discounted prix fixe menu.

J

Fatboi Tendencies 

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

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

Bouchaine’s ’17 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir

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

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

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

Let the games begin!

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

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

Ballroom of Montage Beverly Hills

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

’16 A to Z Essence of Oregon

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

Other favorite tastes included:

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

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

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

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

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

Me with DJ Richard Blade

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

Iris Vineyards ’17 Chalice Estate Pinot Noir Rosé

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

Happy National Rosé Day – The Unofficial Beginning of Summer

Cheers with Summer Water!
Here are some answers to your questions about our favorite beverages, just in time for National Rosé Day this Saturday, June 9th! 
To add to the celebration, you can have your wine delivered directly to your door with $25 off your first purchase from Winc, and as an added bonus, when you build a 4-bottle box you receive complimentary shipping!
 
Work / Wine Doormat by 2BooeeHome
Which cheese plate items do you pair with rosé?
I love pairing rosé with milder goat cheeses (the creamy Goat Milk Brie and Aged Goat’s Milk Gouda Cheese from Trader Joe’s work perfectly) and fresh summer fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, strawberries, and raspberries. My go-to cheese plates essentials are the Trader Joe’s savory-sweet Fig & Olive Crisps and crisp green grapes.
My Summer Cheese Plate!
What wine glasses do you use for rosé?
For walks (or dances) on the beach, I love my stainless steel Stemless Wine Cups from Corkcicle because they keep the wine chilled for hours on the go. Because of the triple insulation, your hand won’t warm the wine, and it will stay the perfect temperature for up to 9 hours by the pool, on the beach, or at a picnic – even in the direct sun. You can also use all-purpose wine glasses, or you can invest in rosé specific glasses, which have a flared rim to direct the wine to the top of the tongue while the moderate width emphasizes the fruity aspects.
 Rosé All Day shirt by The Giftable Goodies and Stemless Wine Cups from Corkcicle
What non-food items pair best with rosé?
When drinking rosé I like to bring out my Marble and Rose Gold Hexagonal Coasters by LuKa Marble Designs that perfectly complement the color while keeping the perspiration from my chilled rosé off the table. The most appropriate top to wear when celebrating your love of rosé is, of course, the Rosé All Day shirt by The Giftable Goodies on Etsy, as the peach color perfectly complements the pink in your glass.  
Marble and Rose Gold Hexagonal Coasters by LuKa Marble Designs

Remember when we asked our readers what questions they have about rosé on our Instagram?

Winc Wine Director, Brooke Matthias, answers below!

Why is Rosé pink? – @damesnackerton
Where red wines ferment on the skin of red grapes, pink wine happens when the winemaker removes the juice from the red grape skins when he or she feels the wine has achieved the perfect color. Any red wine grape can be used to make rosé!

Why are rosés different in color, and does this have anything to do with taste? – @tintin_beligan
When picking out a bottle of rosé, I always look for one that is lighter in color and lower in alcohol. A deeper color tends to mean that a rosé is richer in body and has more sweetness, and I tend to prefer rosé that is dry, lean and higher in acid.

Yes Way Rosé Round Beach Towel

Why is there such an increase in rosé interest over spring & summer? – @olivedoesthecity
Rosé is synonymous with a summer state of mind, which makes it perfect for summertime activities whether you’re imbibing while barbecuing, lounging by the pool or sipping by the beach. The grapes for Summer Water were picked early in the season to achieve a natural acidity that’s ideal for summer drinking, and nothing pairs better with warm weather than a refreshing and chilled glass of rosé.

What is dry Provencal rośe, and is it really the best? – @thetaylordayne
Provence, located in the South of France, is the largest rosé-producing area in the world and consistently delivers dry and crisp rosés that are easy to love. Most are blends made from Rhone varietals, including Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. Provencal rosés, like Sauvetage, have a reputation for being delicious – but many other rosés, like those made right here in California, can be just as tasty!

What is the best rośe to make frośe with this summer? – @belynnburruel
It’s not summertime without frosé! When choosing a rosé, I look for rosés with lots of flavor and tart red fruit characters. I personally love using our Funk Zone Rosé or Ruza. Both are dry rosé wines, but once the other ingredients are added, it creates the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

Is rośe similar to white in the sense that it pairs well with fish and seafood, or are there other pairings more specific to rose alone? – @sassandcollegeclass
Rosé is a very food-friendly wine! Since it spends more time on the skins, it has a wider variety of food pairing options available ranging from poultry to sushi, but Summer-friendly fare like shellfish, ceviche, and salads pair swimmingly.

Does rosé always have to be served chilled? @heart_written_words
I definitely recommend it. To fully appreciate the crisp acidity of white wines and rosés you’ll want the bottles to be chilled before you enjoy them!  You can also use the Corkcicle Air+ stainless steel icicle to aerate and chill your wine with every pour.  Pop the Air+ in the freezer a few hours before you plan on enjoying your rosé, empty a few sips from the bottle before inserting the icicle, and pour-through the Air+ directly into your glass! 

Chill as you pour with the Corkcicle Air+

Editor in Chief Julianne’s Top 3 Rosés

Summer Water Rosé, 2017 – This California-based rosé is sweet but dry and very light. One sip and you’ll taste the notes of strawberry and grapefruit. It’s a fantastic wine to sip on its own or pair it with savory dishes. I’ve even paired it with a tuna tartare in the past and it played very well together.

Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières “Gris de Gris” Rosé 2016This is my favorite classic French rosé on the market! It’s perfectly fresh, floral, fruity and with a finish of minerality, so it covers all bases. I have paired it with many different dishes, but my favorite pairing is the classic Thai noodle dish, pad see ew with chicken.

Luc Belaire Rosé – This is the rosé that gets the party started, just ask Rick Ross! Next to Whispering Angel, this is one of those bottles the ladies will instantly recognize and gravitate to. The black bottle with pink lettering is also chic AF for a nighttime affair. It’s bubbly, has a strong floral nose and a sweet strawberry body.

Be sure to follow our Instagram stories on Saturday, June 9th for more #NationalRoséDay fun! 

Follow Girls on Food at the 25th Annual Taste of Yountville

Hey GOFoodies! I’m super excited to share that March 17-18, I’ll be heading to the legendary Taste of Yountville festival (a part of Yountville Live). This two-day food, wine and music festival features world-class chefs, wineries and recording artists. I’ll be experiencing it all and sharing it with you on the Girls on Food Instagram stories! Be sure to follow along so you can see how the weekend unfolds.

I’m really excited for Stephanie Izard’s demo, which will share the globe-trotting inspirations behind her delicious recipes. A James Beard nominee and the first woman to win Top Chef, Izard is the culinary mind behind the acclaimed restaurants Girl & the Goat and Little Goat Diner.

I’ll be sure not to miss Frank Bonanno’s cheese making demo. The force behind the Mizuna cookbook and host of PBS series Chef Driven, Bonanno will share his tips and tricks for making burrata and mozzarella from scratch. I’m already hungry!

Next up is a lesson on cooking the perfect steak, featuring wines from Eleven Eleven and Michelin-starred chef Ken Frank of La Toque. After experiencing perhaps the best meal of my life at his restaurant, I can’t wait to see what Chef has in store for us.

All that excitement, and that’s only the lineup for day one! Day two includes a deep dive into how environment impacts flavor, featuring experts from Cochon555 and Silver Oak/Twomey Cellars; a demo by James Beard featured chef Lisa Dahl of Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano; and a session by Claudia Sansone, whose three decades of culinary experience includes writing cookbooks, producing television shows and running her own cooking school—not to mention various humanitarian projects. Follow @girlsonfoodblog so you can keep up with my adventure in real time. If you’re in the area, tickets are still available. Buy yours today, and don’t forget to say hello!

Party Ideas for the Best Galentine’s Day Ever!

Happy Galentine’s Day from Girls on Food!

Welcome to our first official Galentine’s Day Party Guide 2018! Although it’s not technically an official holiday, we at Girls on Food can’t help but indulge in this very special day to celebrate our favorite ladies!

With Galentine’s Day approaching us on Tuesday, February 13th, and Valentine’s Day following the next day, we wanted to provide you with a few of our favorite party items and ideas to help you plan the ultimate Galentine’s Day celebration- the kind Leslie Knope would be impressed with.

There are many exclusive promo codes and deals in this party guide, so you can try many of these products at discounted prices! You can find more coupons at PromoCodeWatch.com as well! Be sure to keep an eye for them and any notes on expiration dates.

First: Send an American Greetings e-card to get your girl-squad pumped

The party invites have already gone out, your guest list is set and it’s the morning of Tuesday, February 13th. What better way to get your friends pumped for the party that night by sending them an American Greetings e-card?

Forget sappy, snail mail greeting cards of the past, American Greetings has an array of options that will make your galpals chuckle. Our favorites are the Smooth Hamster and the Michael Bolton e-cards.

The best part of American Greetings e-cards is that they have a monthly membership option, and you can send unlimited e-cards, no matter what the occasion is. It covers all your bases, letting someone special know you’re thinking about them and in a way that’s so much easier, creative and doesn’t leave an ecological footprint.

Use this link to receive a FREE 7-Day Trial Subscription at AmericanGreetings.com!

Then: Plan The Party

A better version of the little black book from 27 Dresses, the Panda Planner is a necessity for having a stress-free life and a perfectly organized Galentine’s dinner party. Combine that with a Maria Shireen bracelet to dress up your hair ties and a modern Snowe candle for ambiance and you’re in perfect party-planning mode! Want your own? Use the code MSxGOF for 15% off qualified bracelets, and GOFPANDA for 10% off your own planner, February 2nd through March 2nd!

Get That Kitchen Organized

Take a trip to your happy place, the Container Store, to get your home extra organized! We recommend customizing your drawer organizer (or using their starter kit) to avoid any embarrassment when your dinner guests go through your drawers for an extra piece of silverware. Go one step further by installing drawer liners that repel dirt and water, prevent sliding and add an extra layer to the design! I used the InterDesign Linus drawer organizer starter kit to organize my Littledeer wooden utensils, Centellino wine decanter, Chemex handles, chambray cocktail napkins, and Pottery Barn copper handled flatware.

You’ll need oven mitts that match your sassy attitude and are still functional when handling that hot stuff. Blue Q’s Oven Mitts are super-insulated 100% cotton and a percentage of their sales are donated to hunger relief programs throughout the world. Elevate your kitchen accessory game even further by pairing a Le Creuset Cerise Red Signature Saucepan with Littledeer’s Hand-Made Heart Paddle for love in the kitchen, and you’re ready to begin cooking!

Prepare Your Floral Arrangements

As can be assumed for any Galentine’s/Valentine’s Day event, flowers are a MUST! The Flower Chef by Carly Cylinder is a modern guide to do-it-yourself floral arrangements. With plenty of imagery and easy to follow instructions, you’ll be a pro florist just in time!

Set The Table

Here are some of the basics for setting a table:

  1. Place utensils in order of use, from the outside in (salad forks are left of dinner forks, and spoons are to the right of dinner knifes)
  2. Forks go on the left of the plate, and knives and spoons go to the right
  3. Only include utensils that are needed based on the menu you’re serving (if you’re not serving soup, don’t put out the soup spoon).

My favorite themed flatware, that can also be used throughout the year, is the copper handled flatware set from Pottery Barn, which enhances your Galentine’s Day dinner with the handcrafted copper-plated stainless steel. Linen Hemstitch embroidered placements are far more practical than paper lace hearts, and are versatile for formal and casual occasions alike. My favorite ceramic salad and dinner plates are from the Costa Nova Riviera Collection They are safe for the dishwasher, freezer, microwave, and oven! In addition to the impressive craftsmanship, they’re great for everyday use, being that they’re extremely durable, chip-resistant, and thermal-shock resistant.

Host a Bake-Off

One fun way to bond in the kitchen with your girlfriends is to have a bake off! Foodstirs modern baking (Sarah Michelle Gellar is a co-founder) delivers non-perishable, organic dry ingredients, all natural decorations, and chemical-free dyes to make tasty treats. Their Baker’s Club is a bi-monthly subscription that features fun kits like the Sweetheart Brownies (seen in image). You can also purchase fun individual baking kits such as Rainbow Cake Pops and Out of This World Donuts. Making these brownies was so easy and I cannot wait to try their other kits! These kits are also very fun to inspire little ones to get in the kitchen. Use promo code GIRLSONFOOD for 20% off your first purchase on their site.

A Stranger Galentine’s

For those of you who cannot get enough of this throwback thriller, why not enter the Upside Down for a theme? Stranger Things inspired costumes, Christmas lights and a round of D & D are musts for this idea. For sweet baked treats, we recommend picking up a copy of Stranger Fillings by the Muffin Brothers (a parody cookbook) for inspiration. We couldn’t resist testing out the book with a banana-blonde wig version of Eleven’s Eggo’s. WARNING: According to a study conducted by Hawkins National Laboratory, the more advanced recipes such as the Demogorgonzola Tartlets, Friends Don’t Li(m)e Pie and The Upside Down Cake could leave guests with telekinetic powers. Collectible figurines by Funko are also fun and are perfect for any fan-girl still mourning the loss of Barb.

Vino Vixens

You’re going to need all of the essentials for a wine-centric night:
1) For aerating and chilling your whites and roses to the perfect temperature, the icicle-looking Corkcicle Air is inserted directly into the bottle after being in the freezer for 90 minutes. Use the code GIRLSONFOOD for 20% off products on the Corkcicle site, now through March 31st!
2) To avoid the guesswork for your wine purchasing, order from Winc to have 4 bottles shipped to your doorstep based on the flavor profiles you know you love. For a limited time only, use the code GIRLSONFOOD for $25.00 off your first order of Winc!
3) The online store Wine Enthusiast carries all of the best wine glassware lines, including Zafferano and Fusion. The Zafferano Red Wine Glasses are uniquely shaped and remarkably lightweight and perfectly suited for bold and aged reds with the narrow opening of the mouth maximizing aroma and a generous bowl promotes oxidation for the wines to breathe. The handblown crystal Fusion Air Wine Glasses are also exceptionally lightweight with a large bowl, while also being dishwasher safe and remarkably break-resistant (if you break it, they’ll replace it for free up with a 10-year guarantee)!
4) To help guests keep track of their wine glass, the uniquely shaped Palm City wine charms are both fun and functional, with fun themed designs such as Beachy and Wine Lovers! Use code GIRLSONFOOD for free shipping and 15% off your entire Palm City order, now through March 2nd!
5) To avoid wasting any time opening a bottle of wine, the Original Rabbit Corkscrew pulls a cork in 3 seconds and then automatically releases the cork making it the most efficient opener in your collection!

Brew Up Some Fun!

You’re about to start enjoying your craft beers and carbonated beverages in a whole new way. Become a bartender wherever you go. Unlike traditional growlers, the pressurized GrowlerWerks uKeg uses a CO2 canister to keep your beers fresh for up to two weeks after your first pour. Pro tip: Make sure to have your 33 Bottles of Beer tasting book handy for notes on the contents of each uKeg! For your own copper plated keg, use code uGIRLSONFOOD for free shipping via U.S. Ground; expires at midnight on March 2nd.

Tea Time

Being realistic, following the wine you’re going to want to wind down with a nice cup of tea and honey. One of my personal favorites is the Blackberry Sage by the Republic of Tea, which pairs perfectly with the elegantly packaged healing Manuka Honey from Kiwi Importer (raw honey made from bees that feed on the Manuka tree). Note, if you create an account with Kiwi Importer, you receive $5 off your first purchase!

Cool Beans

With dessert (or with clean up the morning after) you’re going to want to serve delicious, quality coffee. And now that specialty coffee shops ship their beans nationwide, you can pre-order your single origin just in time for your event! I personally love Ritual Coffee, based in San Francisco, for their bright red packaging and seasonal beans that make for perfect drip coffee in a Chemex.

Time For Desserts

Treat your gals to sweets on themed Galentine’s Day dessert plates by Nicole Miller Home, sold exclusively at T.J.Maxx. Don’t forget to elevate your candy game and have a few of your favorite Sugarfina boxes on hand for snacking! After all, Valentine’s Day and Galentine’s Day are times to indulge; with delicious and unique flavors such as “Cheers To Us” Champagne Bears and “Love You a Bunch” But First, Rosé Roses, who could resist?

An Option For The Health-Nut

We all have that one gal-pal who insists on following her diet throughout Valentine’s Day. While we may not have the same willpower as she does, we can try to let her clean-eating influence us a little. Serving an array of Siren Snacks at your party will keep her happy and allows you to indulge in a tasty guilt-free treat. These plant-based protein bites (12 grams per serving) are dairy-free, gluten-free, GMO-free and soy-free and contain no artificial colors or sweeteners. This is also a girl-powered company, founded by sisters Elizabeth and Abigail Giannuzzi from San Francisco. There’s plenty of variety in flavors with Dark Chocolate Brownie, Cookie Dough and Snickerdoodle, but our favorite flavor is the Lemon Poppyseed; a sweet and zesty break from the traditional protein bars. Use promo code GIRLSONFOOD for 20% off your first purchase on their site.

Keeping It Clean

If you’re hosting a party, you must be sure guests have the option to use hand sanitizers before digging into their favorite finger foods, but don’t you hate it when those ugly anti-bac bottles are on the table? Enter: OLIKA 2-in-1 hand sanitizers. These adorable little “Birdies” keep your mitts clean with a hand sanitizing spray that is a push spray at top half of the bird and hands wipes at the base of the bird. Use promo code: GIRLSONFOOD for 10% off OLIKA purchase ($15 minimum) on their site.

Got a friend with a major sweet tooth? Be sure to check out Double D’s Truffles & Treats for an assortment of handmade chocolates. Ten dollars will get you a 15 piece gift-wrapped box and you get to customize the flavors in the box. Plus – this chocolatier, is able to create flavors by request and have them shipped to your door.

A “Happy Ending” 😉

Have you checked out Sugary Charm’s Kama Sutra Collection? Known for their more PG-rated cookie cutters, they have recently expanded into a naughtier line of cookie cutters. Unlike standard metal cookie cutters, these are made with food safe materials (PLA- a biodegradable, plant-based plastic, FDA-approved) and, even better, they imprint the dough perfectly. Check out their site for options and use promo code GIRLSONFOOD for 25% off your Kama Sutra cookie cutters purchase.

Start your free trial now!

This post is sponsored by American Greetings on behalf of PepperJam Networks; all opinions expressed are our own.

Belle Vie is Serving up the Fanciest, Frenchiest Mac and Cheese in Los Angeles!

Last week, French bistro Belle Vie opened it’s doors in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Being a Westsider myself, I can confirm that we are a little bit lacking in French restaurants (unless you counting the endless supply of Le Pain Quotidiens around) so I was beyond thrilled to try a this new neighborhood spot.

Belle Vie 
11916 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
http://www.bellevierestaurant.com/ 

The team behind Belle Vie, Owner Vincent Samarco and Head Chef Cedric Nicolas‘ (who met when working together at Michelin-plated restaurant Le Trianon) aim was to provide locals with classic French comfort food with hints of California flavors: mission accomplished.

My inner Fracophile was geeking out right when I walked in, because the design, decor and the littlest details are spot on Parisian. French restaurants may have a reputation for serving up smaller portions, but at Belle Vie the portions are more generous. This spot is perfect to bring a friend and share a few plates.

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Fall Wine Festival at City Winery Nashville

This weekend we were invited to attend the Fall Wine Festival at City Winery Nashville hosted by Nashville Wine Festivals. What a fantastic event! It was everything you need for a party in one place: music, unlimited drinks, food, and plenty of Instagram worthy photo backdrops!

City Winery

City Winery has always been one of my favorite places to go for dinner and a show, but I’ve never really explored the whole building. It’s a huge facility with different bars and places to sit and sip your favorite glass of wine. My new favorite spot is upstairs on the outside patio with a downtown view of Nashville! Not only was the view great, the weather couldn’t have been better – 76 degrees with a slight breeze and not a cloud in the sky. On the patio, I enjoyed a Matua Pinot Noir Rośe and my husband sampled a glass of Relax Chardonnay while we enjoyed the flawless day.

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Weekly Wanderlust 8/4/17: Get $5 off Thrillist’s Taco Knockout Event in LA, Manresa Bread in Los Gatos, CA, Renegade Chocolate in Uxbridge, Ontario and Happy Hour at answer. in Nashville

Every Friday here at Girls on Food, we bring you Weekly Wanderlust, featuring the best our in cities, recipes, videos and advanced notice on events we’ll be appearing at.

TinTin here:

Thrillist’s 5th annual Taco Knockout is Saturday, August 12th, 1 PM – 4 PM at Lot 613, 613 Imperial Street, Los Angeles, CA.

This event is going to be packed with the most popular tacos SoCal has to offer, including Aqui Es Texcoco, Lola’s Mexican Cuisine, La Carmencita Restaurant and many more. There will also be chilled cervezas from Estrella Jalisco and a live DJ set from Electric Taco.

South Bay favorite The Standing Room will be serving an original creation, Tako Poke Tacos, which we’re the most excited for. We predict this taco—a blue corn tortilla topped with smoked octopus, tobiko, ikura and chives—will be the most innovative bite there.

General admission per person is $35, but if you use the discount code THRILLISTVIP at check out, you get $5 off. Just a little gift from Girls on Food. #yourewelcome

Traditionally this event takes place in NYC but it’s about time Thrillist brought it to LA! Not trying to start a Tupac vs Biggie feud here, but SoCal really is the home of the best Mexican street food in the U.S. 

For out-of-towners, I will be live on our Instagram stories feed providing you with footage of the event. But if you’re in LA and at the event, be sure to say hi!

For more info and to purchase tickets, check out:

http://events.thrillist.com/tacoknockout2017

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