Friday, June 8
I know I told you that I was going to share the best chocolate ice cream ever today, but, well, I hopped in my car yesterday and went to Carmel. Just like that. I mean, I had a friend to visit, but it was a last minute trip. And I’m so glad we did it because we got to watch this sunset over Pebble Beach…
…and eat this food for dinner at Little Napoli.
P.S. If you ever get yourself to Little Napoli (which you should), that cannelloni tricolore is amazing. Just sayin’.
And so, my friends, the ice cream recipe will come next week. Have a wonderful weekend!
Sunday, May 6
Today I am on a plane…flying home…from this place…
Owen and I got to go to Miami for a few days to attend the Mom 2.0 Summit with my DailyBuzz Moms team. It was a blast…especially the closing night party at the Versace Mansion. Yup, Owen has been to a party at the Versace Mansion. How many 7-month olds can say that? Too bad I’ve ruined Cinco de Mayo for him for the rest of his life…don’t think he’ll ever be able to top it!
It’s really hard to think about a menu right now, but I’m pretty sure that we’re going to have to eat dinner this week!
- Kitchen Sink Quesadillas
- Oriental Chicken Salad
- Eat out
- If the weather is nice, grilling! I’m thinking brats and hot dogs
- Fresh fruit and baked beans
- Scrambled Eggs
Wow! I did it! I planned a menu. The Miami heat didn’t completely fry my brain. You know the drill…time to share your menu for the week. Thank you all and have a great week!
Friday, August 5
Just a quick post today about some of the best bread this side of, well, anywhere.
If ever you are driving up the coast of California between Santa Cruz and San Francisco, be sure to take the 5 minute jaunt off of Route 1 to Pescadero. Arcangeli market sells this artichoke bread, which is heavenly. Seriously. The bread itself is wonderful, the artichokes are delicious, and there’s this salty garlic topping on the bread that puts it over the top.
Plus, I love Pescadero. It’s small, it’s quaint, it’s beautiful.
Friday, July 29
This past Monday I went to Edgewood Eats for dinner. And ate delicious food. And had a blast. And went home happy.
You may be wondering what Edgewood Eats is. Every Monday, a bunch of gourmet food trucks from around the Bay Area come to an old, nearly-abandoned shopping plaza (that has a real-live, totally awesome wig store, by the way) to serve food from 5-8 pm. Everyone brings blankets and chairs and just sits down on the sidewalk to eat. There is always a great variety of food and lots of people to see.
And, yes, it’s every bit as wonderful as you’re imagining.
I went with two friends on Monday, so we each got food from different trucks and then divided the spoils between us. And stuffed ourselves silly with Thai, barbecue and Mexican food. And reluctantly resisted all of the other amazing foods that were available (Vietnamese, curry, seafood, Filipino, desserts and more desserts).
If you live anywhere near Palo Alto, I highly recommend trying it out Edgewood Eats some Monday night. I also recommend going early if you can. We got there at around 7 and the lines were unreal and the trucks were starting to run out of food. I think if you get there closer to 5 the lines should be shorter. Obviuosly there is high demand…I’m campaigning for Edgewood Eats twice a week! (P.S. Edgewood Eats will be on Tuesday nights starting in October and will just be once a month throughout the winter. Be sure to follow them on Facebook to get the latest news and find out which trucks will be there each week.)
If you don’t live anywhere near Palo Alto, go out and find your own fun, local food find this weekend. And tell us about it. Because someone reading will live near you and want to know about it!
Tuesday, July 5
Last week Nate and I had the chance to go on a little date in San Francisco. SHN kindly provided us with press passses to see the Broadway production of Billy Elliott at the Orpheum Theater. With my sister visiting we had free babysitting (thanks, Anne!) and jumped at the chance.
We went into the city early (one of the great benefits of free babysitting) to grab dinner at Citizen’s Band.
It’s like a diner, only California style. You know, artsy ambience, seasonal menu, locally-sourced ingredients…but they serve classic comfort food. It was a great combo and we enjoyed everything we ate.
First off, you need to make sure to request the bread while you wait for your food. In fact, request it more than once. SO good. But be warned…a homeless person just might walk into the restaurant and ask you for a slice. For real.
To make sure we got some veggies in, we ordered a simple mixed greens salad. It was just that – simple and light and I was glad we ordered it.
Nate’s dinner was essentially breakfast…an over-the-top protein-packed mountain man breakfast. I believe they called it “Shake ‘n’ Bake.” See? The names of the food are as cute as the counter stools. Anyway, the dish came with breaded slow-cooked pork, some fancy sausage, hash browns, asparagus and a fried egg, because why not throw an egg on there? Needless to say Nate was full for about 3 days, but he said the combo of everything together was really great.
We had heard that their hamburger was awesome, but the fried chicken was calling my name. When the waiter said they were more known for the chicken, my decision was made. The chicken was yummy. The breading was salty but in a really good way. Oh, goodness, in a very good way. The gravy was fabulous, and the greens and mashed potatoes were the perfect complement.
Of course we had to get dessert.
Nate ordered the sour cream cheesecake, topped with fancy dancy almonds and blueberry sauce. The cheesecake was YUMMY with a great, thick crust. I had to get the chocolate mousse cake because I’m pretty much unable to order anything else if chocolate mousse is on the menu. The cake layers were great, the mousse was awesome, and the chocolate ganache had this thin salty layer on the outside that was heavenly. (Yes, in addition to chocolate mousse, I’m also kind of in love with salt.)
Dinner was great. I’m so glad we went.
You may be wondering, “How was Billy Elliot?” Well…it was fun. The movie is loads better. I mean, that movie is just so good. It made sense that the play was turned into a musical since the story is about dancing, but it totally changed the whole mood and feel of the story. Nate and I thought it just couldn’t compete with how powerful the movie was. BUT…it was a fun show with some pretty great tap routines incorporated. All in all, an enjoyable evening!
If only we could get into the city for dinner and a show every week!
Friday, July 1
Is there a better way to spend a summer morning than at the San Francisco Ferry Building?
The place is simply bursting at the seams with beautiful things to see and delicious food to eat.
My sister has been visiting and today is her last day in town. We dropped the girls off at their summer camps this morning and headed straight to the city.
How about a little Ciao Bella gelato for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do.
And some Cowgirl Creamery mozzarella and burrata for lunch? Bring it on.
I could live at the Ferry Building. I’d be broke. But I would be well-fed. That’s all that matters in the end, right?
Thursday, May 19
When we first moved to the Bay Area, one of Nate’s co-workers told him about It’s-It Ice Cream. We tasted the mint flavor and, in all honesty, weren’t that in love. Then, the other day, they were sampling the original vanilla flavor at Costco. My girls of course begged for some, so I gave them each a sample. I was going to pass on it myself, but decided I may as well give it another try. After one bite, I threw a box in the cart to take home!
I did a little research about It’s-It Ice Cream before sitting down to write this post. It’s-It has a very fun and unique-to-the-Bay-Area history, which you can read about on their website. It’s-It Ice Cream even has an entry on Wikipedia. This ice cream must be serious business! I love that it’s been around forever and is so tied to the local culture. It’s fun to eat something and know people nearly 100 years ago ate the same thing.
It’s-It is simply vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies (with tiny raisins…we didn’t even notice those until last night!) and dipped in dark chocolate. They have a few other flavors, and you can find them throughout the West or order online. And I love their retro packaging.
As I was munching on my It’s-It last night, I couldn’t help but think of other similar ice cream creations in other parts of the country, creations that people stand by for years, creations tied to the history of a place. Newport Beach has its Newport bars and chocolate dipped frozen bananas. North Scituate, MA has it’s Wilbur Wheels. Cape Cod simply has homemade ice cream everywhere you turn, each town on the Cape claiming theirs is the best.
What is it about ice cream that inspires such tradition, loyalty, nostalgia? The possibilities for creating new frozen treats are endless, so everyone can find their own claim to fame. And maybe ice cream just tastes so good we can’t help but keep coming back for more.
As always, I love hearing about where you live and your own traditions. Share your town’s/region’s/state’s favorite ice cream treat! And who knows, maybe one day I’ll get to try them all…one can wish!
Friday, April 29
Last week we spent a day in Yosemite with Nate’s parents. (It was beyond breathtaking, by the way.) On the way home, we drove through California’s Central Valley (you know, one of the world’s best spots for growing food). We passed acres and acres of fields and orchards. On the particular road we were on, there were a gazillion almond trees. Here are a few unripe almonds from some of those trees. Aren’t they pretty?
None of us had ever seen an almond tree. We were intrigued. You could tell the fruit was in its early stages and Nate’s mom, Pat, was dying to hop out of the car to get a closer look. We finally found a spot where it was safe to pull over. As the car came to a stop, we noticed a “Beware of Dog” sign on a fence surrounding the orchard’s farmhouse. It was a few yards off and we kind of figured it was more of a sign to scare people. Nate’s mom hesitated before getting out, but we told her, “It will be fine. Go ahead!” So, she hops out of the car and walks to the nearest tree.
As her hand reaches out to feel what the almonds are like, we suddenly hear barking. We are all surprised. Yeah, we saw the sign. But still. Really? There is an actual dog to beware of? Nate’s mom sort of starts to panic. With only inches to go before her hand will reach the forbidden fruit, we all see it. The dog. It’s small, but scrappy, and has a fierce bark. And he’s running our way. Fast. Pat tears for the car, all the while yelling, “I’m just going to look at them! I’m not picking them!” For some reason, the dog didn’t listen.
Did you know that mini van doors close slowly? Well, they do. Thankfully, it closed just before the dog got to us.
As we drove away, laughing hysterically, I asked Pat, still recovering with adrenaline coursing through her veins, what the almonds felt like. “I don’t know, I didn’t even touch them!” Of course we laughed harder.
A mile or two down the road we saw a fabulous produce stand, surrounded by almond trees. We stopped to buy some nuts. Nate and Pat recounted the close call with the dog to the woman who owned the market. She told them they were more than welcome to look at her almonds and even pick a few to look at more closely. She wouldn’t even sic any dogs on us.
Thanks to Pat’s persistence and bravery, we all got a close-up look of an early-stage almond. And we all learned a lesson. If an orchard has a “Beware of Dog” sign, probably best to beware!
Friday, February 25
We found the trick to getting your kids to go to bed by 6:00 pm. And it only takes two days of “training.”
Day 1: Take them to Disneyland and stay until 9:00 pm when the park closes. Children will fall asleep during the car ride back to the hotel. You will have to carry them into the room (look out, they’re heavier when sleeping!) but they’ll stay asleep during transport because they are so stinking tired. You will actually get to stay up later in your shared hotel room with your kids because they will sleep through anything (even television) at this point.
Day 2: Take them swimming during the day. It doesn’t even have to be for very long. At around 5:00 pm, feed them ice cream on Balboa Island and then drive around for a while looking for dinner. They will once again fall asleep in the car. While the timing of their slumber will be a bit disappointing (i.e. right as you pull up to the Beachcomber Cafe, forcing you to give up and drive back to the hotel without any supper), they will be so exhausted from a week of vacation, no naps, and Disneyland fun, they will actually go to bed at 6:00 pm, leaving you to read books or watch episodes of Mad Men to your heart’s content!
And that is all you have to do. Easy peasy.
After a week of galavanting around Southern California, we are actually all feeling pretty exhausted, but all very happy.
Yesterday was our big Disneyland day. It was simply magical. Disneyland is always a fun place, but experiencing it with your children is the best. What I was most impressed with this time around was the staff. Everyone we interacted with was so friendly, it was amazing. And the characters? They’re all going straight to heaven. They make each and every child feel special. And they do it without saying a word.
Today we took it easy. A little swimming, a little eating, a little driving. And, apparently, a lot of sleeping. The girls really did fall asleep before 6:00 pm and I have a feeling will sleep all night no problem.
For these last two nights of our trip we are staying at the Marriott in Newport Beach. We we were treated to a delicious buffet breakfast this morning, and I was lucky enough to get a massage at the Marriott’s Pure Blu Spa in the afternoon. In all honesty, our room is very small by any hotel standards, which is just not very practical for a family of four with 1 weeks’ worth of luggage. But the room is nice and the view is phenomenal. Can’t be beat.
We made sure to get chocolate-dipped frozen bananas and balboa bars on Balboa Island, take the car on the tiny Balboa Island ferry (maybe a two-minute ride, but super fun) and grab some clam chowder at The Crab Cooker. The chowder was the best manhattan-style I think I’ve had – tomato-based but still creamy with great, fresh clams.
As for the chocolate-dipped frozen bananas…yum!!!! A question for those of you in the “know.” Which shop is the true original? Sugar ‘n Spice or Dad’s? They were just a few doors apart. We went with Sugar ‘n Spice because it said “the” original, and Dad’s just said “Dad’s original.” Anybody know the story about the two shops? Would love to hear it!
Time for bed. Big day of driving tomorrow. Thanks for joining us on our adventures this week, culinary and otherwise!
Legal mumbo jumbo: Disneyland provided us with admission tickets to the park, and the Marriott provided us with one free night of lodging. Thanks to both!
Thursday, February 24
Our two nights in Huntington Beach are already over! This week is going too FAST, people. I think we should have given ourselves twice as much time…too bad work and school have to get in the way, eh?
We were beyond lucky enough to get a chance to stay at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. Okay, I thought I wanted to move into the Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara. Then we got to our room at the Hyatt. The PR woman who I’ve been working with pulled out ALL the stops. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that our suite was actually bigger than our apartment at home. And THIS was the view off of our GIGANTIC balcony.
Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves…despite the fact Nate was staying in a hotel on the beach, surfboard at the ready, and there were NO waves, rendering surfing impossible. Total bummer. But the resort made up for it. The hotel was beautiful and the staff was fantastic.
When we arrived Tuesday night, the executive chef for the hotel, Chris Savage, was waiting to cook dinner for us. Our dinner was prepared and served in a private dining room set aside just for us. I think this may have been one of the most fun, relaxing, delicious dinners I’ve ever had. The chef was wonderful, kind and interesting (not to mention busy…I can’t imagine doing his job!), and the Hyatt folks were beyond nice and helpful.
First we had a chicken tortilla soup, followed by a trio of salads, all of which were delicious. The bread served alongside was also great…I stole Anna’s leftover bread when she wasn’t looking. Yeah, I’m a good mom like that.
The main course was one of the hotel’s signature dishes – fish tacos with grilled mahi mahi. Oh my, these were some of the best fish tacos I’ve had. And I’ve had many.
Dessert was strawberry shortcake, accompanied by a giant chocolate covered strawberry. The biscuit was still warm, the cream perfect, and the strawberries just the right amount of sweet.
We were truly spoiled.
A few words on the resort. And I’m not just saying this because they paid for part of our stay. This place was SO MUCH FUN. On our full day at the resort, we spent the morning at the beach – the most fun the girls have had yet on the trip, resulting in very sandy, very wet clothes and very tired but very happy little girls. The afternoon was spent at the pool. They have these totally fun water slides that Cate could not get enough of. We ordered room service poolside (money well spent, by the way)…the food was super tasty and we got to stay out by the pool in the beautiful weather.
We seriously did not want to leave. And we’re already trying to figure out when we can get back. We are walking away from our time at the Hyatt in Huntington Beach with really wonderful memories. This may sound cheesy, but when we were sitting out in the beautiful weather eating lunch at the pool, I looked at my family and felt an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude. Those are the moments that you never forget.
Thank you, Hyatt!
On to Newport Beach and Disneyland!