31 August 2012

Foodie Pen Pals

Foodie Pen Pals reveal day is finally here, and what a great month August was!  I talked a little bit about my treats in a previous post but here is the official one!  Adria, my pen pal, sent me a beautiful package, based on my own taste and dietary preferences as well as her own experiences traveling and, simply, living.  The result was a simply splendid parcel of gourmet chocolates from San Francisco (from where I just returned!), loose leaf tea, raw nut and seed packages, fun vegan items, and even a burned CD and three-page handwritten note!  There were other, equally wonderful, things but I'll let the pictures do the talking.

My foodie package arrives!

One of several non-food-related enclosures.
 Here is Adria's beautiful, handwritten three-page note.  Her script is so lovely and I really appreciated the gesture.  I enjoyed reading every last word as I sat seated in my foyer in front of my box of goodies.  It made my day!

The contents!
Close-up of my goodies.

This personalized plastic bag was the perfect size for transporting my travel-sized toiletries to San Francisco on my recent trip.

 I love that the packaging states that this Fizzy Melt is "obviously hand molded."  I haven't taken a bath with it...yet...but I cannot wait to try it out!

 Adria burned this CD for me.  It is the soundtrack of the film "Searching for Sugar Man," which is about a Detroit-born musician, Rodriguez.  Adria saw the film at the Traverse City Film Festival and I hope to see it too.  Since receiving this CD, I have been listening to it non-stop.  It's GREAT!

Dandelion Chocolate is a California-based chocolate company, specifically, San Francisco-based.  San Francisco is one of many places Adria calls home, and she knows it's a place I hope to some day call home, which is what makes this foodie item, in particular, especially thoughtful.

The Mission is one of San Francisco's many districts.  While I was there I picked up another Dandelion Chocolate bar!

 I have not tried this yet but I'm thinking of putting it in a smoothie, like I did with the acai powder "superfood" blend (see below).

Just look at Green Superfood's nutritional benefits!  I'm sure when I try this stuff I'm going to be able to see through walls!  

 Beautiful, organic loose leaf tea.  Adria included a tea bag for me :)

 This raw chocolate was very unique.  The nutmeg added another dimension that really added flavor complexity.
Here's a little back story about gnosis--the makers of the raw chocolate.

I LOVED these.  Notice the "love" is past tense?  Yes, these almonds are ancient history.  While salt-flavored almonds might seem ordinary, these were anything but.  "Living Nutz" dehydrates their nuts at low temperatures for many hours, after having already allowed their nuts to marinate for many additional hours.  The result was a flavor unlike anything I've ever experienced--very complex, almost hard to describe, but very tasty.  The nuts were very fresh too.  There's nothing worse than eating a stale nut and I have had my share.  "Living Nutz" offers other types of nuts (and seeds) in many flavors and I hope to try the "Galactic Onion-Garlic Pistachios" next, although the "Cina-Pecans" sound incredible, too.

This "superfood" berry powder is awesome--the flavor and nutritional benefits totally amped up the smoothie I made it with!

I have not tried this jerky yet but am very much looking forward to it.  I'm thinking of cutting it up and putting it in a salad along with nuts, beautiful greens and some other vegetables.

 These enticing-looking sunflower seeds are another foodie item I have not yet tried.  I am so excited that they're sprouted, though, and the garlic and sea salt flavor sounds absolutely scrumptious.  While I'm sure they're delicious on their own, I'm waiting for a salad inspiration to come to me that really features these little guys.

These rye crisps were, by far, my very favorite thing in my package.  I ate them in two days and could have eaten them in one but I wanted something to look forward to on day two!  I had intended to get myself some more rye crisps when I visited San Francisco but, alas and alack, I forgot.  WHEN I move there I will be sure and stock up!

Well, that's all for this month's Foodie Pen Pal program, and what a month it was!  I look forward to seeing what my September pen pal has in store for me!

30 August 2012

Cinnamon Almond Cream Bowl, Courtesy of Addicted to Veggies

I love when the names of things reflect my true sentiment for that same thing.  For example, I really do Love Lucy and I am Addicted to Veggies.

Sarahfae has the most tantalizing recipes on her blog, Addicted to Veggies, and my goal is to make as many of them as I can!  So far I've made several of her tarts, her macadamia nut 'cheeze,' and today I made her cinnamon almond cream.

Oh my lordy.


I was hurrying this morning, trying to get all my things ready to take to work, and last night I decided I would have Sarahfae's almond cream for breakfast.  So this morning I made my almond cream (I substituted a scant tablespoon raw agave instead of date paste), poured it into a jar, cut my beautiful Michigan peach, plopped it in a baggy, threw in some organic raspberries, grabbed my little baggy of golden flax seeds and shoved everything in my "work bag" (a small, reusable Whole Foods bag which is the perfect size for, like, EVERYTHING) and was out the door.  As such, I was seven minutes.  Oh well.  Food came first.

Once at work, and after I got all my opening duties completed, I took to assembling my breakfast!  For me, presentation is everything and so I took the time to make sure it looked pretty.  I love eating food that's beautiful to look at.

To start with, I selected a very shallow, medium-sized bowl and poured in the cream.  I then artfully arranged my fruit atop the beautiful, caramel-colored circle and finished everything off with a sprinkling of golden flax seeds.  I selected the golden flax seeds for the color contrast they provide.  Additionally, they add crunch and nutrition!  Win, win!

The next Addicted to Veggies recipe I plan on making is zucchini noodles in romesco sauce.  I'm hungry just thinking about it.

29 August 2012

Return From San Francisco

I spent this past week in San Francisco.  I'd never been to San Francisco before, let alone California, and it was a-mazing.  I loved the city and it is definitely a place I can see myself living in some day.  There is so much culture, life and energy.  People are very friendly and I had numerous conversations with total strangers that lasted anywhere from five to twenty minutes.  It was awesome.

Here is a quick summary of my trip, as captured by my iPhone!

10,000 feet above San Francisco!

Exotic Smoothie (banana, orange juice, pineapple sorbet) from Copenhagen Bakery and Cafe in Burlingame, California--a post-flight treat!

Departing the airport for Walnut Creek.

Beautiful cactus--one of many fauna varietals native to northern California.

House exterior in Walnut Creek, California.


Another Walnut Creek home.

Appetizer from Gracias Madre, a PHENOMENAL vegan Mexican restaurant in San Francisco's Mission District.

Gracias Madre's interior.  The wine pictures is 'Reinking Zinfandel, Mendocino.'  It was great!  I wanted to get a California wine and this did not disappoint.  The restaurant describes the wine as a "lush supple wine with dark plum and a spicy finish." 

My 'Enchilades con Mole.'  I could eat this every day: sauteed mushrooms atop housemade tortillas with cilantro and onions, topped with cashew cream and salsa and served with wonderfully flavorful sauteed collards and black beans.

My ridiculous chocolate shopping spree.  I purchased these goodies (all for me, I'm somewhat embarrassed to say) from this adorable little shop in the Noe Valley called "Chocolate Covered."  I had a great conversation with the store's owner, Jack Epstein, who is, not surprisingly, incredibly knowledgeable about all things chocolate.  Deciding on even this many bars was difficult.  I must have had twenty things in my possession at one point.  I kept putting bars back, selecting different bars, putting those bars back, taking back bars I had put away, and so on and so forth.  I was in the store for an hour.

A custom, almond milk latte, made by my host!

The hours of "Sushirrito," a burrito-sushi fusion place, located in San Francisco's Financial District.

Insanity: my vegan 'Buddha Belly' sushirrito.  The 'Buddha Belly' had shredded carrot, Japanese eggplant, spicy portobello fries, avocado and roasted garlic tofu sauce (it also came with green onions but I ordered mine without).  This "sushirrito" was both immensely satisfying and guilt-inducing, and I would, hands down, order it again...and eat it all...again.

Barrique's house Zinfandel.  Barrique is one of many wine bars in San Francisco with an amazing wine selection (I love that they make their own wines but only offer them by the glass!) and an incredibly friendly, knowledgeable staff.  I had a great conversation with one of the servers who instantly pegged me as a Michigander because of my midwest, "aaah," accent.

Like all of the food I ate in San Francisco, the food at Osha was ridiculously scrumptious.  The venue, too, was appealing because of its trendy, stylish interior.  There are six other Osha locations in the San Francisco area because S.F. knows a good thing when it sees it/

My insanely flavorful asparagus-garlic-tofu dish from Osha.  Just check out that plate!

Brix, located in Napa.

Squash and heirloom tomato soup with squash blossoms.  All the ingredients were grown in the restaurant's garden, which I was able to see from my seat on the patio!

Beautiful salad of butter lettuce, toasted pine nuts and currants, tossed lightly in a sherry vinaigrette.  Like the soup, the ingredients in my salad (the lettuce, that is) was grown in Brix's garden.  It was such an awesome feeling to totally connect with my food and, quite literally, see its origins.

This is NOT retouched.  This is an apple and it IS pink.  It is called a Pink Pearl and I could not think of a more fitting me.  It is pink and is a jewel of a fruit.

Pictured abobe is my Pepples vegan donut.  Pepples is a vegan donut company with tons of unique flavors from which to choose.  That said, I think there's something to be said for nailing a basic, classic cinnamon sugar donut, and Pepples does.  In fact, I liked my donut so much that I went back to the Pepples kiosk in the Ferry Building the very next day and got another--same kind: cinnamon sugar.  I'm sure the other flavors are equally amazing and when I return I will be sure and sample some of those.

My raw Alive! wrap, which I bought at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday morning to bring with me for lunch later in the day.  The wrap was packed with avocado, carrots, zucchini, buckwheat groats and seed-based hummus, wrapped in a romaine lettuce leaf.  Alive! used to have a storefront in San Francisco but now you can only buy their food at the farmers market or for a custom, catered event.

 I purchased this ring as a gift for myself at the artists market section of Saturday's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.  It's a beautiful physical memory of my trip.

Golden Gate Bridge.

Boo-boo in the side of my host family's yacht.

Peet's Coffee, located in San Francisco.  Great coffee.

Simply called, Vegan Wrap, this thing was INSANE!!!!!  And HUGE!  The wrap was too big for even ME to finish.  I got it from this totally unassuming deli, located inside of a convenience store in Sausalito.  I searched for vegan eateries in Sausalito and the Davey Jones Deli got the highest ratings so I thought I'd eat there.  I was expecting a cute little restaurant and not a counter within a gas station, basically.  Regardless, it was awesome.  The vegan wrap comes packed with garlic roasted red pepper hummus, quinoa tabbouleh, avocado, pea sprouts, arugala, spinach, raw almonds and probably 43529 other things I'm forgetting.  Somehow, even with all of those ingredients, no one seemed out of place or frivolous.  The flavors and textures blended perfectly.