July 28, 2011

Plum Medley

If you don't know by now...it is PEACH, PLUM, NECTARINE season...which consequently means tarts and cobblers. If you live in Berkeley or San Francisco you should look UP while walking down the street, you might be surprised at how many plum trees could be living around your neighborhood.

That said, I decided to make a tart-obbler for my two friends by toying around with this plum cobbler recipe I found.  I used the cobbler topping as the base for this "tart" and added more cinnamon into the fruit medley and left out the ginger.

Four types of local peaches and plums from Bi-rite in SF

A dirt-covered local-organic egg

 Easy, delicious, local-friendly dessert for a summer day

June 14, 2011


This is probably the best location in SLO for a beautiful brunch, lunch or dinner on a summer day. Novo supports seasonal produce and their prime location in the Central Coast region makes their menu rich with diversity and flavor.

I had brunch at Novo, in their outside patio, which is their best seating area. Their patio has views of the San Luis Creek and lush greenery that surrounds it. I ordered a Greyhound with fresh grapefruit juice, a suggestion by our waitress, it was perfectly bitter and sweet and of course fresh.

For brunch I had their grilled salmon salad with spring greens, perfectly roasted beets, vine-ripened tomatoes, crumbled bleu cheese, caramelized pecans with a raspberry vinaigrette. The pecans balance out the blue cheese and the raspberrry vinagrette brings the entire dish together. Their salmon is farmed, which in my opinion, is better than wild-caught salmon (because of the deplition of wild fish)

Next on the menu, Sirloin on ciabatta, perfectly cooked, soft, sliced thin with horseradish cheddar, red onion, lettuce and dijon aioli. It was served with a cup of tortilla soup and avocado.
I'll let the picture speak for itself...

So if you like a delicious, local meal served in a beautiful patio, Novo is your next stop.

Bon Appetit!

June 3, 2011

SLO weekend

I took a little vacation to a small town, a town with some delicious food, beautiful views, miles of fertile soil and plenty of beaches to choose from. So if you ever find yourself away from the Bay and decide to head south to San Luis Obispo, these are a few of their best spots.

Whether you are into breakfast, brunch or an early lunch Big Sky Cafe has a menu that will probably make you ask your waiter for a little more time, chef and owner Charles Myers is comitted to using local ingredients in every dish and his menu changes with the seasons.

I  had their Pesto Chicken Sausage Scramble tossed with roasted bell peppers and fresh spinach, the smoky chicken sausage brings all the flavors together. This scramble also includes seasonal fruit and one of their daily pastries ( I got the Ginger-Coffee Cake)

My friend ordered the Traditional New Mexican Pozole, and I must say this dish truly tasted like the real thing.This spicy hominy stew came with a poached egg on cornbread with queso fresco and seared pork...a perfect balance of cilantro and cumin and a delicious meaty taste without overpowering the egg and cornbread.
My other suggestion is the Kreuzberg Cafe. This Cafe's name is based on the Kreuzberg neighborhood in Berlin next to where the Berlin wall used to stand. Today, it’s the creative and cultural heart of the city; and this little coffee shop does a little of  the same with walls full of books you can pick up, read and buy...

One of their most unique products was the Honey-processed Coffee which is the most environmentally friendly way today to process cofeee. This means there is zero water used. Not a single drop is wasted for pulping, washing or fermenting! (Compare this to traditional traditional washed method wich uses around 2000 liters per bag of green beans )
Honey-processed coffee is very light and sweet, there is a small after-taste but it is not coffee-like, to me it was more like a tea-after taste, with an aroma more than a taste.
Kreuzberg also surprised me with their bottled 
drink selection, ranging from old-school cream sodas to  BOXED WATER

 I think I will leave you with these two spots for now....MORE TO COME!

May 24, 2011


  Although this little cafe is located in North Berkeley it has a unique style, far different from other North Berkeley shops.With a funky, stylish and welcoming atmosphere paired with an ongoign array of  upbeat world music.

Their menu is simple: ranging from a pair of poached eggs with toast, savory polenta or (my favorite) their "waffle of the day".

Waffle of the Day
Cornmeal with creme fraiche: perfectly sweet, fluffy & hearty
 Guerilla Cafe uses local ingredients and serves Blue Bottle Coffee and although I usually drink my coffee black, Guerilla serves the best Au Lait in beautiful bowls (a meal on their own).
Blue Bottle Three Africans Blend Au Lait
 The uniqueness of Guerilla comes from their ongoing effort to support local artists and honor people around the world who have fought for freedom, their sacrifices and the courage to risk it all for their liberation. Whether you order a full breakfast or just a Latte, you will be given a little card with the history of a guerilla, a fighter, as your receipt, a nice way to feed your brain while waiting to feed your tummy!

April 17, 2011

Comfort Food with a twist

This is my second time at Aunt Mary's Cafe. It is a fairly  new spot which sits across Remedy in Oakland/Temescal area, a Ritual Coffee provider. There is always a crowd of people outside of this place, which cannot be a bad thing unless you're very very hungry!

This Cafe serves local, organic, sustainable food and seasonal ingredients whenever possible! The best part about this spot is the combination of thoughtful food with a thoughtful price!

Me and my roomates decided to share a few dishes....

First , the Huevos Benedictos (spicy) which  was a pair of cheddar masa cakes w/poached eggs & mole negro, served w/house-made Niman Ranch beef chorizo, guacamole & pico de gallo.

I must say that their mole had the perfect consitency; a perfect balance between creamy and grainy, it was spicy enough to give your mouth a tingle but it definitely did not over power the cheddar masa cakes. The masa cakes reminded me of Tamales without the corn husk wrapper...the combiniation of these cakes with the runny eggs and mole made them even more moist and savory....

Onto dish #2, the Spring Veg Hash with red pepper couli ....the hash was designed with seasonal veggies in mind including green beans, snap peas, asparagus, red potatoes & fennel and was topped with two poached eggs (you can order your eggs any style), the hash was then drizzled w/a puree of roasted red peppers and a biscuit...

This dish was very fresh, the veggies were cooked lightly which made them crunchy and very rich in flavour, the red pepper couli brought the dish together and the flaky biscuit made with Gusto's organic flour and cornmeal helped me scoop all the juices up!

Dish #3 was the sweet dish! (usually how I like my mornings to be), we ordered the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with a lemon curd and fresh strawberries... the ricotta in the pancake batter makes the pancakes a lot more moist and fluffy, it also gives the pancakes less of a sweet taste which is then balanced with the tangy and sweet lemon curd...

We shared these three dishes and added a side of grits and roasted potatoes...a few cups of some mean McLaughlin coffee with some Clover milk.

All this came out to around sixty dollars! which fed four people; bellies full and left overs for later!

From grits, to hashes, to mole and pancakes...if you are craving good food, I guarantee you will find something to please your palette at Aunt Marys Cafe!

April 14, 2011

Afternoon Scone

When I walk into a bakery that has freshly baked scones, it is hard for me NOT to buy one...but when it is 7pm and no bakeries are open, the only choice left is home-made scones!!

I decided to bake Cherry-Orange Scones...they were made with: organic whole wheat flour, organic almonds form Berkeley Bowl,  free range, organic eggs from Petaluma, dried cherries from Billy Bob Orchards, an orange from Guru Ram Das Orchards, Fair-Trade Brown suga ( expensive but worth it!), organic Clover whole milk, organic Clover butter and a touch of love...

I adapted my recipe from this original recipe, in case you want to make these yourself, but I encourage you  to explore and add your own touch!

These have a perfect balance between sweet, tart, hearty and flaky...
Easy to make, share and hard to dissappoint!

April 13, 2011

Verde, blanco y rojo

My roomate came home with some local Halibut from Zut and I was craving some Mexican food. The weather resembled a summer day with a breeze typical of the Bay...which reminded me of timeless days at the beach in Mexico where fish, beans and rice are always on the menu.

So we made organic brown rice (can't remember the name of the farm!) with organic black beans from Natural Value in Sacramento, a Haas Avocado and a freshly made Strawberry Salsa made with tomatoes,cilantro,serrano chile, onion and strawberries all from the Berkeley Farmers Market! Strawberry season has just arrived and although tomatoes are not easy to get Avalos Organic Farm stand has them both.

Oh yes and to counter the spiciness of the salsa...
I added a spoon-full of Straus Plain Yogurt

There is nothing like a home-made dinner with fresh ingredients grown around your community

Buen Provecho!

March 27, 2011

Summer Kitchen in the Spring

If you've ever walked down College Ave in Berkeley you know that every restaurant claims to be high-end, the best, at whatever they do. However, I can only say from experience that only a few of these spots are worth going to....

As I was waiting in line at Ici for an ice cream, I peeked into The Summer Kitchen and Bake Shop. This place prides itself in using as many local ingredients as possible, with a full pastry bar and a variety of sandwiches and fresh brick-oven pizzas... I had to try it!

I had a Blue Bottle Donovan dripped Coffee and a Walnut-Coffee Bread, this slice was thick, moist and perfectly sweet. (they use local walnuts and Blue Bottle Coffee in their recipe)
My friend had a Salted-Caramel short bread cookie...I think the picture captures the taste...

If you are not much of a sweet person, Summer Kitchen has pretty amazing lunches and dinners to choose from, this is their menu ...
 (I was told by another customer that their sandwiches are to die for and the scent of freshly baked pizza was mouth-watering)
 On the left: Organic Egg Salad with Chives and on the right: Diestel Turkey, Onion-Cranberry Marmalade, Provolone, Lemon Aioli, Poppy Seed Kaiser Bun 
Orzo Pasta Salad, Roasted Peppers, Feta Cheese, Pickled Onions 

Summer Kitchen has a great selection of dishes, desserts and packaged local goods like Happy Girl Kitchen pickled veggies and Blue Bottle Coffee... The people that work and eat here give this place a very warm and home-like atmosphere, I can't even imagine how much warmer it could be if it was only Summer! ah...


Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce, its name comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec dialect) word mulli or molli, "sauce" or "concoction". It is a very rich and flavorfull paste. This paste is a mixture of spices, chilli peppers and chocolate...between 20-30 different spices are used!

Depending on where you eat Mole around Mexico it will taste different...sometimes spicier sometimes more on the chocolate-side...

I recently had dinner at El Huarache Azteca where they make their own Mole paste from scratch and they serve it in the two most traditional ways, on top of a piece of chicken with rice and beans or poured over some Enchiladas (soft tortillas filled with chicken). Now this place might not fit exactly into our definition of "local" but it does stick to the traditional way of cooking this dish in Mexico and the restaurant is located in the heart of the Latino community in Oakland ( Fruitvale). In my opinion, some dishes just might need a touch of their home-country in order to taste as delicious as the original.

Enchiladas de Mole, served in the traditional way with some Arroz Mexicano and Frijoles Refritos, always topped with Crema (sour cream) and Queso Fresco

 These Enchiladas had more chocolate-flavour and were less spicy than other ones I've had, nonetheless they were as delicious as eating them in Puebla, Mexico. El Huarache Azteca sticks to traditional dishes, their menu ranges from Flautas and Tlacoyos to Pozole, Birria and Huaraches of course. So if you're in the mood for some REAL Mexican food, don't hesitate to stop by this little nook!

March 21, 2011

Forget the milk, Bittersweet !

A cup of coffee...or a cup of hot chocolate...or perhaps both?
Maybe it's the everchanging weather in the past few days that has got me changing my morning beverage preferences but I shall not complain...
I visited Bittersweet Cafe this morning and decided to start with an Americano and a Morning Glory Muffin...

The muffin was as moist as a bran muffin can get, with delicious golden raisins and a very hearty texture

As I sipped on my coffee ( which is roasted at this very location), I couldnt help but be surrounded by the smell of chocolate...Bittersweet's main attraction. They have a variety of  truffles and chocolate bars, which are also made right behind the counter! Lets not forget that all their cacao is sourced from single farms and cooperatives and are organic of course! (this is the link to the specifics of the farms they use)

So the scent of chocolate brought me back to the counter...What would it be? Salted caramel hot chocolate?  hmmm I decided on the Spicy Hot Chocolate...infused with a cayanne dark chocolate ganache, this is one of their more bitter hot chocolates.

Two drinks, one pastry and a lot of samples... Chocolate crave:SATISFIED

Oh yes! They also had samples of one of their sandwiches:

 Black Forest Ham with Brie, Pepper Jam and Dijon on fresh Ciabatta...I must confess...I don't eat pork but THIS sample almost made me change my mind.

So if you're in the mood for a hot chocolate...or a truffle...or a milk shake...or perhaps you want a light lunch, Bittersweet Cafe has a little bit of everything coming out of their kitchen!

March 13, 2011

De la boulangerie à la boulangerie

I dont know how many bakeries I can go to in one day... but if I could I would do it all day...I went to La Farine on College in Berkeley, Their baguettes and morning buns are pretty delicious and they always have samples in the morning!
But if you ever need  a cake or a fruit tart for a party...this is the place to go! I recently had their GENÈVE  which is a moist chocolate genoise cake, layered with rich milk chocolate mousse, finished with a bittersweet chocolate ganache...if you are into chocolate, seek no more! and i also had their CHAMONIX  which is a moist devil's food cake layered with creamy white chocolate raspberry mousse and fresh raspberries, finished with white chocolate buttercream ( in case you are looking for  some fruit in your cake).  And let's not forget about their famous fruit tarts ready to take home....Mmm 
Berry Tart
Poached pear tart
On to another bakery....if that didn't make you salivate enough...
Apple harvest cake

Sweet Adeline's is your friendly neighborhood bakery locate don Adeline right by the "Here and There" sign in between Oakland and Berkeley.  If you come here a few times you will start noticing the regulars. You can always find the owner helping around the kitchen and making sure this cute little bakery is running smoothly. I would recommend their ginger scone, their vegan oatmeal cookie, and last but deifnitely not least their apple harvest cake, filled with more apples than bread, perfectly soft and crunchy and sweet...if you are into apples, this is definitely a must!  

And to finish this neighborhood bakery tour, my kitchen ! This is a recipe I found online for Bran Muffins, I changed it up a little, adding some California Honey, Flax seeds, local walnuts (grounded up), cinnamon, and nutmeg all to taste!

These are perfect breakfast muffins or as a healthy snack, very hearty!

Et maintenant notre voyage a terminé!
Hope your sweet tooth was satisfied !

March 5, 2011

Saturday Ferry

If you've never ventured to the Ferry Building in San Francisco on  a Saturday morning, I suggest you pencil it in for your next weekend. The Ferry Building on Saturday mornings becomes a place where local farmers, food conoseurs and hungry people all mingle together and create a unique Bay Area experience.
The view from the the Ferry Buidling, Bay Bridge and Treasure Island in sight.

Frog Hollow Farms specializes in delicious fruit preserves. Apart from never missing a farmers market,they have their own cafe and bakery at the Ferry Building which serves delicious freshly baked goods and coffee. Lets not forget the many samples you can try !

The Market has plenty to choose from, at the front of the building (East) you will find mostly produce and flower shops; if you dare venture to the back (West) you will find many more produce vendors and prepared foods.

Perfectly crispy and flavorful Asian Pears from K & J Orchards.

One of the permanent shops at the market is the Boulettes Larder,The daily changing menus at Boulettes  reflect the chefs commitment to using conscientiously produced farmstead ingredients and applying her research and curiosity in pursuit of spices and artisan oils, vinegars and grains.

The smell of Roti Roti will inexplicably draw your eyes to the slow roasting meats... and perhaps the thirty plus people wait to get a freshly sliced sandwich... If you're a meat-eater or a sandwich-eater, this is the place to get your crave satisfied.

And to wind-down my day I purchased a bran-cherry muffin paired with an Africano from Blue Bottle Co. Their three different locations in the Ferry Building speak to their excellent service, and never dissapointing coffee. Using organic, local and single-sourced beans when available.

Cherry Bran with a view of the Bay.
If these pictures don't convince you then you should stop on by one Saturday and satisfy whatever craving you have, I  guarantee the Ferry Building will satisfy...

March 3, 2011

Taste the Remedy

This is my coffee shop of choice in the North Oakland/ Berkeley area. ALL of their coffees are single-sourced...you can watch the cooks preparing their scones daily and smell them as they bake away....they are made with ALL local ingredients (they even have a list of the farms they use). Those are two reasons why its on top of my list...Reason three...Remedy Cafe has a french-press special daily and day-old scones in case the freshly-baked ones are too much to handle,so you can always save some $!
Today's special was their Guatemalan coffee from Finca la Merced; infused with cherry, apricot and lavender, I paired this with their Meyer-lemon scone...Mmm...this is one way to start the day and begin working on the solutions to some daily problems...tasks...or perhaps you can just come and enjoy the flakiness of your scone and the ever changing music and good vibes from this coffee shop!

March 2, 2011

Corner coffee and No internet? Cheers!

If you're looking for a semi-free laptop spot with delicious Americanos check out Elmwood Cafe on College in Berkeley. Lets not forget their variety of local pastries...from your typical Oatmeal cookies to Rhoubarb coffee cake,  Their Menu has all local ingredients and as local as coffee gets!
I had their Roasted Diestel Turkey sandwich which has the perfect crunch from their Granny Smith Apples and an intense Cheddar flavor, all sandwiched in thin and juicy Turkey slices...