Deck The Halls In North Beach

Capturing the holiday spirit // Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello 

Capturing the holiday spirit // Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello 

I know, I can't believe it's already Christmas time.  And to think I was still trying to work on getting my beach body ready for the summer (crap I'll have to make it into more of a resort season body instead - damn you HoneyBaked ham and mashed potatoes!!) 

Thanksgiving #1 with my in-laws 

Thanksgiving #1 with my in-laws 

Anyways, back to talking about the holiday season. It's finally here and there are LOTS of activities and things happening in San Francisco to celebrate this cheery time of year (and seriously, after all the crap that has happened around the world, it's nice to have a little bit of the cheesy holiday celebrations surround us to put a little smile on our faces, am I right?) 

Deck The Halls Penguin Mural // Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello 

Deck The Halls Penguin Mural // Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello 

So to get you in the holiday mood, I recommend you visit the new holiday pop-up bar created by the same owner of Chubby Noodle: Deck The Halls in North Beach.  It's silly, it's fun, it's like that scene in the movie Elf when Buddy travels from the North Pole to NYC.  Basically, it's awesome.  

Deck The Halls // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn Medina

Deck The Halls // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn Medina

Snow Globe Drinks // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn Medina

Snow Globe Drinks // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn Medina

Here is the press release about the new space: 

San Francisco, CA — Fans of Christmas and cocktails rejoice. Deck the Halls, a pop-up bar designed to spread Holiday cheer, will open on Black Friday, November 24th, in San Francisco’s North Beach. The Holiday themed pop-up experience is a collaboration between Nick Floulis of Opavino and Shaher Misif and Ken Luciano of Guerrilla Vision. Located in the fabled former Washington Square Bar & Grill space once owned by legendary restaurateur Ed Moose, the pop-up will be a celebratory neighborhood destination that hopes to continue Ed’s legacy of creating joyful San Francisco memories.

Offerings will include bar bites and fun holiday style cocktails, such as the Naughty or Nice— muddled mint, lemon, agave and pomegranate paired with a choice of two “smashes”: the Naughty being a smoky Creyente Mezcal or the Nice, a smooth Maestro Dobel Tequila. “This experience will have a little something for everyone;” says Misif. “Locals, visitors, families, revelers, and industry. Everyone is welcome.” The team hopes that Deck the Halls can be a warm, welcoming escape from the chilly, bustling North Beach surroundings.

Misif gained attention as the Bar Manager of San Francisco’s Cantina, a beloved SF institution that was known for its local and Latin flavors. He also helped develop Boston’s award winning Highball Lounge, for which he was awarded 2015 Star Chefs’ Rising Star. Ken Luciano made a name for himself developing successful bars & restaurants for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants before moving on to partner with the Plumpjack group to develop their newest projects, Forgery and Wildhawk. Nick Floulis, Founder of the popular Chubby Noodle restaurants. His Food & Beverage Hospitality Company also owns Pushback Winery and HITW Coffee. Following the pop-up, Nick will open a new restaurant along with partners Elmer Mejicanos and John Paul Jacques in the North Beach space later in 2018, called Lillie Coit’s. A former Napa Valley resident, Nick is proud to be able to donate a portion of Deck the Hall’s proceeds to benefit North Bay wildfire relief.

Designer Nick Roberto of Auspice Design describes the decor as “toy store meets comfy lodge meets penguin paradise.” Roberto is an artist and designer who has been working with bars and restaurants in the Bay Area since 2009, with projects such as 15 Romolo and Trick Dog. Roberto has more than a few over-the-top ideas up his sleeve that go beyond the usual run-of-the-mill holiday decor to create a legendary Christmas cocktail pop-up.

Deck the Halls will run from November 24th until the New Year. It is located at 1707 Powell Street at Washington Square in North Beach, San Francisco, CA 94133. The hours will be Monday though Wednesday 3:00 pm until midnight, Thursday through Friday 3:00 pm until 2:00 am, Saturday from noon until 2:00 am and Sunday from noon until midnight. For updates on Deck the Halls, visit their website at https://www.dthbar.com.
Gingerbread House Shots // Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello 

Gingerbread House Shots // Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello 

Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello 

Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello 

Holiday Cocktails // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn Medina

Holiday Cocktails // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn Medina

Gingerbread cocktail // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn Medina

Gingerbread cocktail // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn Medina

I spent the preview evening trying delicious holiday inspired cocktails and my favorites were the following (I don't remember the exact names! Sorry!): 

  1. The Snow Globe - it was refreshing & light.  I think it had rum, coconut water, and shaved coconut "snow".
  2. Gingerbread House - they serve the cocktail in an actual Gingerbread house.
  3. Coffee Cocktail - I forget the name of it, but it's decadent and great for a cold night.
Reindeer Roof // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn Medina

Reindeer Roof // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn Medina

Fun running into one of my favs Carlina @allergictovanilla // Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello

Fun running into one of my favs Carlina @allergictovanilla // Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello

Naughty Drink // Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello

Naughty Drink // Photo Credit: Cesar Fabello

Negroni style drink  served in an ornament // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn 

Negroni style drink  served in an ornament // Photo Credit: The Buttery Existence / Cherlyn 

If you're in town, it's definitely worth making the trip over for a drink or two or three :P to get into the holiday spirit.  

 

 

 

 

 

Kekao Fusion

I'm such a sucker for food delivery services.  I know that's weird for me to say since I operate a food blog, but real talk, I still work a full-time job and I frequently find myself having the issue of not being able to meal prep or I end up making some bad decisions and order some naughty food from a near by restaurant.  Honestly, when I have the option between french fries vs. a salad, I get weak and order the fries. 

In a random twist of fate, I took an Uber Pool one day and met Annie Wang.  She is bubbly, friendly and a chef from Seattle who recently launched her meal delivery service, Kekao Fusion  in San Francisco. Jackpot!  

We exchanged info and I decided to peep her Instagram account. As I scrolled through her feed, I knew she was the real deal and I wanted to try some of her cooking.

Lucky for me, Annie was nice enough to let me try out some sample meals this week.  

Photo Credit: Instagram @kekaofusion

My First Meal: Roasted Chicken Salad w/ a mixed vegetable medley & balsamic dressing

My First Meal: Roasted Chicken Salad w/ a mixed vegetable medley & balsamic dressing

My first impression was "WOW!! This girl gets me!" The portion was definitely generous and not in a bad way.  It FILLED ME UP, where I wasn't wanting to eat a side of fries after :P  In fact, I was satisfied and full of energy!

I loved the combination of spices (cinnamon played a big role in this which I really enjoyed) and how the flavors all worked together.  I wish I could tell you the other spices, but I'm so bad at that guessing game :P 

Another fabulous thing about Kekao is that Annie infuses Asian flavors and recipes into her dishes - which is big for me because it's what I primarily eat on a daily basis. So, to have healthy asian-inspired food delivered to me? Yes please.  

Photo Credit: Instagram (@kekaofusion)

Interested on getting on the Kekao delivery list?  Click here for details.

PS - be on the lookout for my upcoming episode with Annie later this year! 

xo,

C

b.l.u.d Pop-Up

I'm all about supporting female entrepreneurs so when I read about b.l.u.d in this Eater article  I knew I had to figure out how to make a reservation asap.  

Photo Cred: @b.l.u.d (Instagram)

Before I start telling you about my experience, I bet you're wondering what does this acronym stand for? It's "bitches liven up dinner" and let me tell you, they live up to their name!  

So, per the article, I followed them on Instagram and waited patiently to see when their next pop-up would be happening.  I'm impatient, so I decided to DM them and they quickly responded by letting me know I would be placed on the waitlist.  Score!

Soon after, I received this email and saw the same message on a post on their Instagram feed:

Photo Cred: @b.l.u.d (Instagram)

I was late to respond due to holiday travel, but luckily, they had some cancellations so I was able to get my friend and I the best seats in the house at the chef's table/bar for the 8:30 seating.

The pop-up is located in Pizetta 211.  Mel Lopez (one of the founding members of the b.l.u.d crew) is the chef here.  She shared that b.l.u.d. came about because she and her best friend, Joyce Conway (from Zero Zero) and Robin Kloess (Pizetta 211's pastry chef) wanted change up their routines and be able to host creative dining experiences, thus b.l.u.d was born. 

Focaccia Bread & Soup

Focaccia Bread & Soup

The ambiance here is casual and the music is on POINT.  All R&B and hip-hop - which I am all about.  I mean, why don't more restaurants do this?  

Besides the awesome music, let's get to the most important part of this pop-up, the food.  The portions are great - not too much, but not super small, so definitely come hungry.   

My favorite salad - what kind of cheese do they use!? 

My favorite salad - what kind of cheese do they use!? 

I loved everything they served - but the salad. Oh that salad. I described it as salad ice cream to them and they kind of giggled.  But hear me out!  The cheese had a creamy texture and its light flavor complemented the arugula, grapefruit, marcona almonds & the vinagarette - SUPERB!

I didn't get a photo of the two versions of crab because once they served them, I immediately dove right  into eating and my hands were messy.  But here is a photo from their Instagram feed to give you an idea: 

Photo Cred: @b.l.u.d (Instagram)

Finally, dessert.  Oh dessert how I love you.  And this was the perfect one to complement the crab feast we had: a lemon sorbet topped with a meringue and a cookie crumble with a cream at the bottom.  

I know, I'm the worst for not remembering the exact composition of this creation.

Sweet Ending 

Sweet Ending 

Before we left dinner, they gave us a little treat to enjoy in the morning:  chocolate dipped biscotti!!! 

If you're interested in going to one of their pop-ups, follow them on Instagram here.

Thank you so much to the b.l.u.d team for making our first dining experience with you one to remember.  Can't wait to attend another one soon!

 

 

 

 

My Birthday Recap

So, this past weekend, I celebrated my birthday in San Francisco.  It wasn't a milestone birthday, but it doesn't mean that I didn't go all-out to celebrate another start to another year of my life!  I love birthdays, whether it's my own, or someone else's, I love the celebrations that go along with them.  

I think I was 14...my brother was more excited about the cake though :P 

I think I was 14...my brother was more excited about the cake though :P 

This year, I decided to keep things local and received some glam treatments, a hard-core workout and lovely dinner and drinks! 

Birthday Workout

Firecracker Smoothie, flowers, card & protein bar courtesy of Erica Stenz

Firecracker Smoothie, flowers, card & protein bar courtesy of Erica Stenz

Erika Stenz was the first trainer I went to when I started at Barry's Bootcamp SF.  She is a total force of nature and is one of the loveliest people I've met there.  Earlier last week, she was gracious to invite me to take a class with her on my actual birthday, and of course I said yes!  

When I arrived, I was greeted with flowers on my floor step & a card! What a way to start off class right?  

She had posted that she recently collaborated on a new smoothie, so I also made sure I ordered one of those too.  

Overall verdict - DELICIOUS!  It has a great added kick to it because of the cinnamon and it really helped me recuperate after the INSANE class.  I ran a 10 speed at a 10% - never did that before, but since it was my birthday, why not go big right?  

In addition, me and the other bday gal in class were greeted with quest protein bars and a candle. So thoughtful!

If you're curious about trying out Barry's - click the link here to sign up for your first class: http://www.barrysbootcamp.com/  

Erica & I post class

Erica & I post class

Glam Squad

Since my hubby was taking me out to a fancy dinner and I was exhausted from starting a new project earlier that week, I decided to treat myself to some beauty indulgences: eyelash fill, make-up and hair.  

Eyelashes: Malaya Skin Studio

I love the team over at Malaya Skin Studio.  They are located in Pacifica, CA and are seriously just THE BEST.  I met them when I followed my old lash artist, Tamara, when she came over here and have been hooked ever since.  

MJ, the owner, now does my lashes and she is just AMAZING!  Anytime I go anywhere, people will stop me and ask me 1) are those....real? 2) OMG who does them and when can I make an appointment?!  

She is truly a life saver and I adore her team for always working with me to make sure I can get an appointment when I need one.  Seriously, best customer service and lash service ever!  

If you want to make an appointment with them, click the link here: 

Make-up & Hair

Paul & I at Sephora (P

Paul & I at Sephora (P

I then went over to Sephora where I am a VIB Rouge (yes I spend that much $ on make-up and other beauty related items :P) and had an appointment with my new fav make-up artist, Paul.  He is in demand so I was lucky to have booked my appointment with him a few weeks in advanced. 

He's so much fun and so talented.  I loved my look and here are some of the fab products he used on me: 

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk

Kevyn Aucoin Contour Kit

If you want to learn more about the perks of VIB Rouge, click here: http://www.sephora.com/rouge

Cinta Aveda Institute

There are certain things I am willing to pay extra money for, and one of them is my hair.  For haircuts and color - I am dedicated to going to Steel + Lacquer, a hair salon located in San Francisco, CA that my stylist, Lena, started with her biz partner Jarrod.  The photo below is from  Beauty Over Wine event that my girl Michelle hosted.  She's also an amazing stylist and is the queen of up-dos!

However, for wash & blow drys, I sometimes go to to the Cinta Aveda Institute.  The services are done by students who are supervised by their instructors. 

Pros: Super affordable, good products (all Aveda), overall pretty good service (I always ask for the most advanced students - they are pricier, but worth it in my opinion)

Cons: Not consistent (students come in & out), risk of issues with services (just know that coming in bc they are students - they are there to learn!)

My girl was great and got the job done!  She was super friendly made my hair like a VS model about to hit the runway! #IWantToBeGiGiHadid

Final look!

Final look!

The MINA Test Kitchen

The hubby picked me up from Cinta Aveda and we went straight to The MINA Test Kitchen where Ayesha Curry partnered with Michael Mina on their experimental pre-fixe collab: International Smoke.  

The Menu - We ordered the Deluxe so basically got EVERYTHING

The Menu - We ordered the Deluxe so basically got EVERYTHING

Our main: Ayesha's Jerked Turkey 

Our main: Ayesha's Jerked Turkey 

Tip 1:

If you order the deluxe, be prepared to eat A LOT.  For a tasting menu, they serve GENEROUS portions. I'm not joking.  

Mandatory couple shot

Mandatory couple shot

Tip 2: 

Order the drink pairing!  Unlike other pre-fixe spots, you can actually share your drink pairing with your date.  It's a pretty good deal! (Under $40).  Michael & Ayesha did a great job pairing the drinks with the dishes.  

Green Apple Granita with Buttermilk Panna Cotta, Caramel & Peanuts

Green Apple Granita with Buttermilk Panna Cotta, Caramel & Peanuts

Tip 3: 

Be kind to the staff!  They are seriously one of the nicest teams I've encountered in my dining experiences and they made my birthday dinner that much more enjoyable.  They work hard and really work hard to make your experience worth while.  

Brownie bites to end the evening 

Brownie bites to end the evening 

Tip 4: 

Eat the brownie upside down.  Our waitress told us that trick so that we could get the most flavor distribution out of the peanut butter mousse at the top.  And did it work?  Yes.

After Party

Belga

Fleet Week was happening this past weekend, so the bars were all so crowded!  I'm glad my friends and I were all able to meet here to grab drinks and catch up with each other after my dinner.  

I usually come here for Brunch, as you can see below.  However, some of my friends ordered some dishes and I was impressed with the food!  It looked pretty good (I was stuffed from International Smoke, I could not even think about eating!)

Make reservations for Belga here: http://belgasf.com/

Boozy Nails & Brunch

Parlor San Francisco

One of my bff's, Katie, treated me to get my nails done at one of our favorite salons in Russian Hill: Parlor.  What we love about this place is the quality of work, friendly staff and the amount of prosecco you get to drink while they work on your fingers and toes.  

Make an appointment here: http://www.parlorminispa.com/

Palm House

After we finished at Parlor, we walked down the street to Palm House where we had reservations for brunch.  

We both decided to try out the Palm House Slush - which is frozen rose (frose?) with the option to top it off with rum.  We actually decided we preferred it without rum, but when in Rome right? Our friends Robin and Diana also stopped by, so as you can imagine, our brunch was an extended boozy brunch :P 

Make reservations: www.palmhousesf.com

Tip: Outside seating is first come, first serve, so if that's something you REALLY want, get there early!

Overall, my birthday weekend was pretty awesome. I hope you check out some of the places above - they are all fab!

 

Keeping Austin Weird: A list of my favorite spots

Ok, another friend of mine (hey Laura!) asked me for some trips about another fabulous city here in the US, Austin!  I have been there a total of two times for two bachelorette parties this past year, so I feel comfortable giving a few pointers on where to go and what to do.  

1. Torchy's Tacos

The tacos here are insane.  This is a lot coming from a girl who grew up eating amazing mexican food in So. Cal and in Mexico.  I was so impressed and actually crave this place from time to time.  I wanted to eat here at least once a day.  Tip: the tacos are substantial, so two was enough for me.  Also please order some queso to share - it's the best!

2. Zilker Park

Great place to walk around and is close to Barton Springs as well.  You can catch great views of the city skyline as well.  

3. Bars Bars and Bars on 6th Street

So 6th street is broken up into 3 parts: West, East and and Dirty 6th.  If you're looking rage and club and party - Dirty 6th is where you want to be.  Here is a great list of recommendations for you to check out: http://austinot.com/guide-dirty-6th-street-austin-texas

4. Rainey Street

The container bar was my favorite place.  That's right...it's a bar made up of moving containers. Definitely check it out: http://www.raineystbars.com/

5. Salty Sow (Restaurant)

It was such good southern food.  I really enjoyed everything we ate here.  Also the service is top-notch!

5. South Congress Street

This is classic Austin - aka it lives up to the mantra "Keep Austin Weird".  This street is filled with shops, bars (indoor/outdoor) and is pretty fun to wander around during the day.  If you're in the market for cowboy boots, definitely check Allen's Boots

If you love coffee like me, then please visit Jo's Coffee shop.  They seriously have THE BEST iced coffee.  It's so delicious and great to sip on while walking up and down SoCo.  

6. Lambert's BBQ

My favorite BBQ spot in Austin.  It's fancier, but it is AMAZING!  Definitely will come back when I'm in Austin again.  

Accommodations: 

If you don't end up staying at a hotel, I recommend renting this palace right here with your friends: https://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/usa/texas/hill-country/austin/downtown 

It was AMAZING!!!!

Our photoshoot inside the house #StefsBach // Art Direction: Alex Do

Our photoshoot inside the house #StefsBach // Art Direction: Alex Do

7. Gourdough's Donuts

We have all been there at some point: you've drank a lot and you need a snack to help you fight the morning-after hang over.  Well, lucky for you, Gourdough's is there to save the day and provide you with delicious donuts late into the evening.  

Travel Tips

Uber or Lyft are no longer in Austin at the moment, and this is not an easy town to get around. It's more LA vs. SF in that sense.  So, I recommend checking out this list from Zebra: https://www.thezebra.com/insurance-news/3052/uber-lyft-alternatives/

Credit: thezebra.com (https://www.thezebra.com/insurance-news/3052/uber-lyft-alternatives/)

Credit: thezebra.com (https://www.thezebra.com/insurance-news/3052/uber-lyft-alternatives/)

Hope you have an amazing time in Austin Laura and hope my tips help you out!  Do any of you have any Austin favorites that I missed?  Let me know!

My first time at the OC Night Market

I'm willing to brave long lines and huge crowds if the end game is to get some amazing food and drinks.  That's why I agreed to go with my siblings and cousin to the OC Night Market this past weekend.  

I know I said I was only going to try 5 things, but when in Rome (or in this case OC Night Market) do as everyone else does and go to town.  

Since there is more than just food places here, I whittled down the list to my favorite five things that I loved from my first time here: 

1. Fantastic Fam

Cute graphic tees!  I purchased a macaroon one (yes I will rock that when I make my macaroon video)

Follow them @fantasticfamfashion on Instagram

2.  Miister Potato

I feel like this place is an institution and crowd favorite here at the OC Night Market.  My recommendations are the Potato Tornado (or how I so eloquently called it "that sucker") and the Squid Skewer.  Delicious.

Follow them on Facebook by clicking here. 

3. Beauty Couture

Korean Skincare & Beauty supplies for days!  I can't wait to try my lip tint mask!!  I already love my gel eye masks to help deal with the bags under my eyes!

Start shopping on their website here.

4. The Milk Tea Company

You have to get the Royal Milk tea with boba if you're a traditionalist like myself, it's so good.  If you're lucky, they'll sing you a song too - we got Party In The USA by Miley Cyrus.  Thanks ladies!  And also thank you to the guy dancing in the back ;) 

Follow them on Twitter here. 

5. Beach Live Seafood Restaurant

Uni Bowls.  I mean, I feel like this is how mermaids eat, and I've said this before in 2014 & 2015 that 2016-2017 is going to be the time of the mermaid (love calling trends before they happen :P).  They have a brick and mortar spot in Buena Park too if you can't make it to the night market.  

Check out more of their dishes here on Yelp. 

*Note - I don't know how this place has only 3 stars. I read some reviews hating on the service, but from my experience, I'm going to rate the Uni bowl 5 stars thank you very much.

I get it, you want to go too after watching my video and reading my list.  Sad to say, there is only one more weekend this year that they are hosting it and it's going to be in LA.  

So, if you're Southern California/LA Area and want to check this out, then head over to their last event of the year. 

626 Night Market (September 2-4, 2016)  

Info from site (http://www.626nightmarket.com/home)

Location: 

Santa Anita Park
285 W. Huntington Drive
Arcadia, CA 91007

Enter through Gates 3 & 5 on Huntington Drive or Gate 8 on Baldwin Ave.

September 2–4 // Friday & Saturday & Sunday 4pm–1am
(Extended Labor Day Weekend hours)

Free parking. $3 admission at the door only. Children 6 and under get in free. Many vendors are cash only.

Santa Anita Park does not allow pets with the exception of service animals — it is up to their discretion at the gate to allow your furry friends in.

Also, check out 626 Night Market's Tips & Tricks video on how to make the best of your visit:

This video is the first in a series of short clips containing tips and tricks on how to make the most of your time at 626 Night Market. Don't like crowds? Arrive early. The dinner rush is usually 6-9pm. Arrive before or after to avoid the longest lines.

Video Credit: 626 Night Market

Bonjour Brittany!

I met Brittany a few years back when she was working at a start-up here in San Francisco. She's part-techie, part-super model and 100% amazing individual.  

She has since left and is now living in NYC working for a new start-up called Velocity.  Here's how they describe their app on their store page: 

Discover - browse 100s of the world’s best restaurants from Michelin-starred classics to hot new openings, from Coya in London to Carbone in New York. Our team of experts handpick a curated collection of hot places to eat and drink for dining that is intelligent and inspired.

Pretty cool right?  I just downloaded it and am looking forward to checking it out.  You should too! I mean, who doesn't like being in the know of the best and hottest restaurants around?  

Anyways, the reason I'm writing this post is because Brittany is going to France in a few weeks and was looking for recommendations on what to do and where to go.  

When I saw her post this open question on Facebook, I jumped and started writing off my list of places and things to do in Paris (one of her stops) because I just have so much love for that city!

Over the years, I've received some fantastic recommendations from friends and family and have discovered some cool places myself, so why not pay it forward and share it with not just my friend, but with all of you too! 

RESTAURANTS

I received this list from my travel buddy/one of my bff's Audrey.  

She received this from one of her friend, Jasmine,  before we went on our epic trip to Paris in 2012. These are the places she recommended to us below: 

1. Le Cafe Marly

The Louvre where Cafe Marly is located 

The Louvre where Cafe Marly is located 

A few steps away from the main entrance of the Louvre.  Best spot to relax after a visit to the museum and also to do some people watching.  Order "un noisette" (small coffee with a drop of cream) or a glass of champagne, because why not?  You're in Paris!

2.  Dame Tartine

A fun restaurant with a very nice terrace facing revolving sculptures that move in the middle of a large pool of water.  It's located in the 1st Androissement by Le Centre Pompidou (the modern art museum).  They serve delicious small plates all day long.  Recommendation: Le Poulet aux morilles or Le tartare de saumon.  

3. Berthillon

This place is an ice cream/sorbet institution!  One of my favorites when I'm in Paris.  A must post-dinner or mid-day treat.  

3. Georges

This is an upscale restaurant with a terrace located at the top of Le Centre Pompidou.  You get to have a panoramic view of the city.  The decor is insane: organic shapes of brushed steel and lots of color dividing a huge space.  It's almost worth seeing as much as the museum itself.  Sometimes a DJ spins at night (don't sit too close to the speakers)

4. La Place Du Marche Sainte Catherine

A little pedestrian square, gem of gems.  A half dozen good restaurants with an open terrace await you there.  Recommended restaurant: La Blinisserie (delicious dishes from eastern europe).  On weekends, musicians play in the middle of the square.  It's hard to find, but all you need to do is walk around La Place des Vosges and ask people.   

5. Le Cafe La Palette

This is a parisian institution, the bistro of all bistros and it is located in St. Germain, at 43 rue de Seine in the 6th Androissement. 

6. Le Cafe Mabillon

If Le Cafe La Palette is closed, visit this one instead.  It's open until 4 AM.  It's located on Le Boulvard St. Germain at Rue de Buci.  They serve food all night, and they serve Berthillon ice cream there too.  Recommendation: Pear sorbet + Pine nut ice cream.  The music can be a bit loud, but its worth it as it is a fun, hip hang out where you can watch crowds walk by.  

7. La Mosquee

Spend an hour at the La Grande Mosque and check out the beautiful architecture.  The cafe inside, La Mosquee is located inside (note they do not serve any alcohol).  The indoor and outdoor settings are out of this world, everything is made to make you believe you are in Morocco: the mosaics, the smell of the eucalyptus from the steam room next door, the music, the mint tea, the pastries.  Recommendation: Les cornes de gazelles (delicious almond pastries) & cous cous if you're there in the evening.  Also, near this area you can check out the dinosaur collection in Le Jardin des Plantes.  The gardens are amazing.  

8. La Boussole

French cuisine with a twist in the heart of St. Germain.  If it is too crowded, you can try out their sister restaurant, Seraphin, which is also very good  

9. Le Bistro d'Henri

Try to come early (6:30 PM) or late as it can get very crowded.  

10. Les Portes

Located in Bastille, this is another great restaurant.  They serve excellent French food, traditional and light at the same time.  If the first floor is crowded, they have more tables downstairs.  

11. Rue Oberkampf

This is located in the 10th Androissement.  There are a lot of cool little restaurants and bars, like Cafe Charbon, La Mercerie and Le Cafe D L'Industrie. You can also find great music at Cithea.  Weekends can get really packed here.  

Jess's recommendations for Drinks:

Fancy Night Out: Buddha Bar near La Concorde (8 bis rue Boissy d'Anglas in the 8th) or Le bar de l'Hotel Plaza Athenee (25 Avenue Montainge in the 8th).  These places are upscale and have a strict dress code policy.  

Casual Night Out: La Palette or Cafe Mabillon in St. Germain.  If you like jazz, visit Les Trois Maillets (56 rue Galande in the 5th).  Le bistro du Peintre is also a nice casual spot near Bastille (116 ave Ledru Rollin in the 11th) 

SIGHTSEEING

Here are some spots that I recommend you should check out if you haven't done this already: 

1. Eiffel Tower 

I recommend going at night and pay for the ticket to go all the way to the top.  There is a bar there where you can order a glass of champagne and take in the city views.  

This has to be one of my favorite asian restaurants ever.  It's delicious and fresh.  Casual ambiance and recommend it if you need a little break from traditional french cuisine.  Audrey and I celebrated when we found this gem in the 13th.  It's near the Pont D'Ivry exit.  

2. Laduree 

Because when you're in Paris, you have to go and visit the home of the best macaroons in the world!  Recommendation: buy the chocolate and pistachio croissants along with a few macaroons to share.  Great for afternoon snacks.  

Loved it

Loved it

Audrey & I got chocolate pistachio croissants too - DELICIOUS

Audrey & I got chocolate pistachio croissants too - DELICIOUS

 

My friend's older brother, Glenn, gave us some great recommendations of places to check out in and outside of Paris as well.  He currently lives there with his wife and adorable daughter and works for UNESCO.  

That time we got to visit UNESCO HQ - Thanks Glenn!

That time we got to visit UNESCO HQ - Thanks Glenn!

GLENN'S TIPS

1. Short road trip: Loire Valley to see the chateaus (namely Chambourg & Chenaceau) and do some wine tasting.  

2.  Visit the Champagne region, which is only 2 hours away by car from Paris.  

3. Mont Saint Michel Abbey is really incredible and is only 3 hours away from Paris. There are usually day tour operators that can facilitate one day trips to these regions.

4. Nightlife: Usually you can find stuff going on near Grand Boulevards (younger pubs like Corchorans, O'Sullivans, and Cafe Oz), Marais (hipster bars like Candelaria and Le Perle), Latin Quarter (mixed bars like Chez Georges, Coolin, and Frog and Princess), Oberkampf (bohemian area with alternative bars), Bastille (lots of bars near rue de Lappe)

5. Restaurants in Marais: Des gars dans la cuisine, le Bouledogue, Au Bourguignon du Marais, Bofinger, le 404.

6. Bars in Marais (Chill vibes): La Perle (hipster bar), Candelaria (chic bar), La Tinquette (wine bar), Stolley's (alternative bar), Auld Alliance (Scottish pub), Au Petit Fer a Cheval (French bar), The Lizard Lounge (English bar)

More lively bars: But if you're looking for something more lively, you may want to check out the pubs near Grand Boulevard (O'Sullivans, Cafe Oz, and/or Cochorans), Mabillon (Chez Georges, Coolin, Frog & Princess, La Pena), Oberkampf, rue Mouffetard, etc

I hope this helps out a little bit Brittany!  Have a fantastic time in Paris and wherever else you visit in France!  

xo,


C

Update from Brittany! from her trip:

 "Next time you go you MUST go to the Ritz and go to the Hemmingway Bar and the bar across from it too…maybe one of my faves in the city. Drinks were pricey at 30 euros a pop but definitely worth going for the vibe. I also reccomend Ferdi (best burger in the world) and Hotel Costes as well for going out. Super hip/chic bar that might be my fav I've ever been to!"

How Lo-Fi Apertifs Elevated My Cocktail Game

Two of my favorite people in the whole world, Shahirah and Toby, recently came back to San Francisco for a couple of months by way of Australia (Melbourne to be exact!).  Sad they aren't moving back, but happy to be able to spend some quality time with these two!

Now, Shahirah recently asked me and two of our other friends to help her plan out the food and drink situation for her 30th birthday she and Toby were hosting at Ampersand in the Mission, which of course we were all more than happy to help out. 

Party Planning Crew with the Birthday Girl 

Party Planning Crew with the Birthday Girl 

My main task was to figure out the drinks we would be providing to the guests.  Now, since this wasn't just some casual gathering, I wanted to serve a signature drink that the birthday girl would love.  Lucky for me, I remembered meeting Chris Cardillo from Lo-Fi Apertifs at Elevate Ensemble, which basically deserves its own post so I'll share more about that amazing event another time.  

Chris making some tasty cocktails at the Elevate Ensemble event

Chris making some tasty cocktails at the Elevate Ensemble event

While I was at the event, I gulped down a few of the Lo-Fi cocktails Chris created for all the guests, and they were so smooth and refreshing.  The beauty of using their Apertifs is that it makes it easy to create easy-to-make drinks for large parties without compromising quality or taste.  

Lo-Fi Apertifs at Elevate Ensemble

Lo-Fi Apertifs at Elevate Ensemble

I emailed Chris and he went above and beyond and sent me not just one recipe, but a bunch of recipes to choose from to share with the birthday girl!  She ended going for the Gentian Amaro and we made the Gentian & Ginger, which was a total hit with everyone! 

Lo-Fi Apertif Cocktail Recipes

Lo-Fi Apertif Cocktail Recipes

Gentian & Ginger 

Gentian & Ginger 

At first, people were a little apprehensive about trying out this drink.  I get it.  It's new, different and could possibly be too sweet or taste weird.  I am, however, very persuasive and got everyone to try it out by handing them the drink the minute they walked in.  And no joke, I had everyone coming back for seconds, thirds....I mean we finished the bottle and guests raved on how much they liked the cocktail.  It wasn't overly sweet and the combination of the mint and ginger beer complemented the flavors of the Gentian Amaro Apertif perfectly.  

My lovely friend Robin helping me make Gentian Gingers for the guests

My lovely friend Robin helping me make Gentian Gingers for the guests

Not only was I in charge of the signature drink, but I put it on myself to also be in charge of the birthday cake.  Shahirah isn't one for cake, but I told her she needed to have one for when we sang Happy Birthday to her, so I baked one for her to match the venue with some fresh edible flowers from the Ferry Building Farmer's Market.  

Birthday Cake by Me // Flavor: Birthday Funfetti Cake

Birthday Cake by Me // Flavor: Birthday Funfetti Cake

Shahirah is the queen of cheese & charcuterie, so for her birthday we didn't expect anything less than this.  She had shared with us she had seen this set-up at an event she went to back in Australia and wanted to re-create it for her party.  Just our luck, our friend Lily had a ton of butcher paper for us to use for this set-up.  It was definitely a big hit!

Shahirah's charcuterie & cheese dream // Concept by Shahirah 

Shahirah's charcuterie & cheese dream // Concept by Shahirah 

Another view of the charcuterie & cheese station 

Another view of the charcuterie & cheese station 

Me & my new favorite apertif

Me & my new favorite apertif

Overall, the party was a total success!  Seriously, I'm so happy that Chris was able to help me out by sharing the cocktail recipe with us for my friend's birthday.   If you are in need of some cocktail inspiration for this summer, check out Lo-Fi Apertifs.  I promise you won't be disappointed.  

PS - Special thank you to the team at Ampersand! Your venue is beautiful and a great place to host a party.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Would I Bring Adele To For Breakfast?

Last night I was one of the lucky people to see Adele in concert in San Jose last night.  It was my first time seeing her live, and let me tell you, she is just divine.  Talented, genuine and a gorgeous person overall.  My husband, who generally isn't big on concerts like this, was just as enamored and blown away and declared this one of his favorite concerts he's ever attended.  

Yup, I bought a t-shirt

Yup, I bought a t-shirt

Now, at one point during the concert, she mentioned that she was trying to figure out where to have brunch in San Francisco.  Of course, my ears perked up and I thought to myself Ughhh why don't we know each other?? I could give you so many suggestions!  

Even SF Gate is wondering where she's going to go!

Obviously, in a dream scenario, Adele and I would be friends and when she would come into town, I would bring her to my favorite brunch spots in San Francisco and show her around this beautiful city.  But since we aren't, this is all a figment of my imagination, but I thought, why not share with all of you what I would recommend to Adele: 

 

Plow

Location: 1299 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Why I would recommend it: Adele seems like the kind of person who loves local spots that are hidden gems, and Plow to me is one of them.  After they stopped serving the Chinese breakfast (my favorite!) I now almost always order The Plow: two lemon ricotta pancakes, 2 sausages (both chicken or pork are awesome), two eggs and crispy potatoes. 

The Plow - classic 

The Plow - classic 

'aina

Location: 900 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Why I would recommend it: It's located in my former neighborhood - The Dogpatch!  I'm an islander girl and this place feels like home.  The owner and staff are so friendly and it really feels like you're in Hawaii.  The food is just phenomenal: Spam Masumbi Ssam style, Malasadas, Kalbi Moco Loco and for her little son, a Keiki brunch! 

Kalbi Moco Loco

Kalbi Moco Loco

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Location: 1042 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Why I would recommend it: Cruffins. Donuts with exotic fillings. Other pastries that are just divine.  I mean I know it's not a full brunch place, but maybe she could come here for breakfast dessert?  Treat yo self right?

Cruffin 

Cruffin 

Zazie

Location: 941 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Why I would recommend it: It's located in kid friendly Cole Valley, so she could make it a family affair. Yes the wait is long, but it's worth it.  I'm sure she could find a way to cut the line ;)  I used to come here all the time when I lived near USF.  They have the best french toast and to this day I don't think I've found anything quite like it yet.  Also, they have an extensive breakfast cocktail menu too, which I think she'd want to indulge in after performing 3 shows in the Bay.  

Piccinos

Location: 1001 Minnesota St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Why I would recommend it: Another Dogpatch favorite.  It's one of my favorite italian restaurants in SF.  They always use fresh, organic ingredients and there is not one thing that is bad on this menu.  The interiors here are just beautiful, the staff is friendly and attentive and the dishes are just delicious and filling.  And to top it off, you can stop by their coffee shop next door to get a cup for the road.  

Cappucino 

Cappucino 

Wise Sons 

Location: 3150 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Why I would recommend it: What if Adele doesn't have time for a sit-down brunch?  Well, if she needs food on the go, I would tell her to go to Wise Sons and pick up a Lox Everything Bagel.  I know East Coast people, the best bagels are in NYC etc etc, but hey you have to admit that Wise Sons makes some pretty good bagels.  

Smoked Salmon Bagel Sandwich 

Smoked Salmon Bagel Sandwich 

So there is my short list for Adele.  What brunch spots in San Francisco would you recommend to her?  Let me know!

*Update 8/2/16: She ate at Zazie's!! Called it!  Thank you EaterSF!

PS - here's a little clip I took of her singing the song that made me a fan for life: Chasing Pavements

Lunch At Work Series: Ima Tropical Colada

While I am figuring out a way to make this site into a full-time business, I have a 9-5 job at Visa in Foster City, which is great because I enjoy what I do and I meet interesting people all the time.  

Now, I consider myself lucky in the sense that we have a pretty good cafeteria here and to top that off, every Wednesday, we have a farmer's market near the entrance of the cafe and we are able to buy fresh fruits, veggies and other delightful treats.  

I went spinning this morning, so I was in a healthy sort of mood and decided I wanted to get some fresh fruit juice from Ima Tropical Colada.

Founder of Ima Tropical Colada: Imani

Founder of Ima Tropical Colada: Imani

I had four drinks to choose from, but I'm such a sucker for Pina Coladas in general, I decided to try the Ginger Colada because it was as close to my favorite vacation drink.  

To those who know me, yes I'm kind of allergic to pineapples and no I didn't have a crazy reaction to it.  I'm safe :)

My drink 

My drink 

I didn't get to talk to her much since it was a busy lunch hour, but she did let me know the next time she's at Visa, she'll have her business cards ready to go, so hopefully I'll be able to learn more about why she started her juice shop.  

But, from our short conversation, she let me know that she is currently just going around local farmer's markets here in the bay area, including our own mini one at Visa! I did some sleuthing on social media and saw that she's also at the Ashby Flea Market too.  

Ima Tropical Colada 

Ima Tropical Colada 

I'll definitely be back for another round of juice next week!

Oh yeah, my lunch :) We had pho today

Oh yeah, my lunch :) We had pho today

Lemonade - and no I'm not talking about Beyonce

My husband recently got a new job and with some time in-between, we decided to take a spontaneous trip to one of our favorite states in the USA...Hawaii!  I booked us a lovely AirBnB in Maui and we set our goals to the following: 

The hubs and I

The hubs and I

  1. Go to the beach everyday
  2. Eat good food
  3. Relax 

Food is more of my thing, so I researched all the local spots we could check out during our 5 day vacation, which I will share in a separate post because this is strictly dedicated to my favorite lemonade place of all time. And yes having a favorite lemonade stand is a thing.  There are more lemonade stands out there than you think.  Anyways, I originally had my heart set on trying out as much Hawaiian Shaved Ice as I could, but realized I had no idea what I was doing and ordered something that was way too sweet and not very good.  

My attempt at shaved ice - I tried!

My attempt at shaved ice - I tried!

After that, I decided that I did not want to focus my time consuming synthetic fruit juice with finely shaved ice and wanted to maybe focus on finding something a little healthier.  Thanks to Yelp, I typed in "acai bowls" and found Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade.  Just seeing the name got me hooked.  It sounded like a filipino variety show (Wow Wow Wee to all my fellow filipinos out there who know!) 

With 4.5 stars and 175 reviews (I'm going to say that's a lot for a small island like Maui), I knew I had to try it.  

Popping my Wow Wow Lemonade Cherry 

Popping my Wow Wow Lemonade Cherry 

I know I was poking fun at the name at first, but the owners of this place obviously know how good their product is because after my first sip, I said "Wow...WOW!!!" I'm not even kidding.  I then made it my goal to come here at least once a day while we were in Maui because I wanted to try as many things as I could on the menu.  

Lava Flow

Lava Flow

This was really good.  Lava Flow was like an adult version of what a virgin Pina Colada should be.  It was light, refreshing and just absolutely delicious.  It had lemonade, coconut milk and strawberries?  Don't knock it until you try it.  They are professionals and know what they are doing. 

Acai Bowl with Haupia

Acai Bowl with Haupia

Oh goodness.  Where do I even begin?  Ok first off, this was their basic Acai Bowl and honestly ingredients matter because this tasted so fresh and just hit the spot after a long day at the beach. The Haupia (coconut cookies) were extra $ and totally worth it.    

Strawberry Mint Lemonade + Pitaya Bowl

Strawberry Mint Lemonade + Pitaya Bowl

This drink came as a recommendation from one of their staff members, so I ordered it along with a Pitaya bowl.  I saw some other customer eating a bright pink bowl of goodness and suffered from FOMO so Mark and I decided to order one to see what was up. 

Bright pink and all natural

Bright pink and all natural

And what was up was that it was all good.  Pitaya is another name for Dragonfruit.  I had never had it before, but now when I see it at the supermarket I'm tempted to TRY to recreate this bowl. Still have yet to do it though.

Inside their Kihei location on Maui

Inside their Kihei location on Maui

So, of course I wanted to know who were the brilliant minds behind this place.  Well, we live in the digital age and lucky for me, the owners posted their story here. Did I cry?  Yes.  Was I inspired? Absolutely.  They literally took lemons and made beautiful lemonade out of the events that came into their lives.  

To the owners: Todd & Chloe & their daughter Gracie - you all inspire me and I am a fan for life.  Mahalo! 

Definitely a must visit if you're in Maui: www.wowwowhawaiianlemonade.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harmony in the brew

On a random Saturday afternoon, my husband Mark and I were invited by our friends Simon and Liz to join them at the launch party for a new brewery in the DogPatch: Harmonic Brewing

Chanel, beer & photobooth

Chanel, beer & photobooth

It's a great brewery with a fantastic selection of beers and ciders on tap.  The interior is very modern and the staff is extremely friendly and helpful.

Liz and I couldn't help by check out the photobooth there and took her rescue dog, Sarah, along with us for our impromptu photoshoot.  Let's just say Sarah was not as entertained as we were.

Starbelly Pig Roast

IMG_1189
IMG_1189

This past fall, I was going through my emails one day and saw that Starbelly was hosting a pig roast and have never been to one in San Francisco, let alone been to one at a favorite restaurant of mine.

My friend Pavitra coordinated on gathering a few friends of ours to go and check it out and we were not disappointed.

IMG_1188
IMG_1188

The set-up was pretty cute.  They hosted the event in their private dining area in the back where it was buffet style (yes I had seconds).  My favorite part of the meal was probably the roasted pig itself.  The meat was tender and juicy and the skin was perfectly crispy (cooked just like filipino lechon!)

I was really impressed with the event and highly recommend trying it at least once if you have never been.