Berkeley's Little Gems - Morell's Bread & Jered's Pottery

Today for work we went out to Berkeley to check out some local vendors.  To my surprise, there were so many local foodmakers and artisans just a few blocks of where I live!  We first visited The Berkeley Kitchens, which is a food hub for food artisan makers.  The Berkeleyside wrote an article about it and you can check it out here.  Within The Berkeley Kitchens, we met the makers of Baron's Baking, Muffin Revolution, Living Hypothecary, Ruby Roast Coffee, Nuthouse Granola, Morell's Bread and Shrub & Co.  As always, it was a neat experience being able to meet the people behind all the amazing food that is being produced here in the Bay Area.  Besides tasting all the delicious food, here were some cool history facts I learned about each of the vendors:

  • Baron's Baking - Tom, the owner, started the company about 2 years ago.  He was a expediter in the restaurant business and personally loved baking so he decided to start his own company.  He works really hard - 12 hour days, 7 days a week.  
  • Muffin Revolution - I'm not paleo, but Marirose and Christy, the founders, create amazing and delicious palo muffins and soon to come granola.  They started their business after a local climbing gym, Ironworks, asked them to sell their muffins there.  I can't wait for these muffins to be sold at Whole Foods.  I can see myself eating them on the go after swim practice.
  • Living Hypothecary - The owner started this company while she was a waitress (and still is) with another co-worker at the restaurant who was a mixologist.  She creates great juices, kefirs and vegan milks.  She's launching a tumeric almond milk which is soo good.
  • Ruby Roast Coffee - A coffee roastery owned by 2 sweet ladies.  They started their business through their pure love of coffee.
  • Nuthouse Granola - These guys started their business after being in the hotel industry.  The owner wanted to have a side business and when the hotel requested his granola, he started his company to sell to hotels and other retailers.  He has a Orange and Fennel granola which is really unique and delicious!  
  • Moller's Bread - Eduardo is a self-taught baker who makes bread from whole grains.  He had a Master's in Filmmaking and he always cooked to make money.  He hopes to start a read subscription service and I'd sign up!  
  • Shrub & Co. - Their ginger shrub is the best shrub I've tried.  A deep ginger flavor without any sugary aftertaste.  The founders have background in the beverage and farming industry and are a power team!
Eduardo from Morell's Bread.

Eduardo from Morell's Bread.

Eduardo explaining his breads.

Eduardo explaining his breads.

Standard Fare  - They make a delicious meyer lemon marmalade!  Seriously, it's good.

Standard Fare - They make a delicious meyer lemon marmalade!  Seriously, it's good.

Bread, cheese, and marmelade sampling.

Bread, cheese, and marmelade sampling.

One of the best local bread I've tasted.

One of the best local bread I've tasted.

Morell's bread with Standard Fare's Meyer Lemon Marmalade.

Morell's bread with Standard Fare's Meyer Lemon Marmalade.

I love their logo!

I love their logo!

After the visit at The Berkeley Kitchens, we walked a few blocks up to San Pablo to Jered's Pottery.  I've driven by this place soo many times and didn't realize it's kind of a famous place.  It's like a Heath Ceramics, but a different version and in the East Bay.  They use local California Clay to make their pottery and all the pieces were lovely in this place!  You should check out Jered's profile for his history - it's pretty cool.  Plus, his wife Sarah is the poet laureate of Emeryville!  One day I dream of having an entire dining set of Jered's Pottery!  

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Foram & Atit's Wedding - June 21, 2014

I had the honor of celebrating Foram and Atit's wedding in SoCal.  It was such a beautiful and colorful day!  I am so happy for Foram and Atit.  I knew Foram at UCLA and we would study and walk to class together.  And she also introduced me to my first Bollywood film when we were back in the dorms.  Foram is an inspiration to me in that she stays dedicated to her studies and family!  I only wish Foram and Atit a happy and wonderful life together!  Cheers!  

P.S. - Thank you Foram for inviting me to my first Indian wedding. :)


Packing Efficiently

I learned a new way to fold my clothes today thanks to a video shared by swiss-miss

Check this out - How to Army roll a t-shirt!  This significantly freed up space in my luggage as I packed tonight.  I hate packing/laundry/folding clothes, so this video made my day. 

Watch the video below and if you love planning in excel spreadsheets, here's how i planned my pack list for Europe on Google Docs

Europe Here I Come!

I'm heading to Europe in 2 days!  And as usual, I haven't started packing and probably will be scrambling to pack the right things in my luggage tomorrow night.  This is the first time I will be traveling for work internationally!  

I'm heading off to Emilia-Romagna, Italy for a Whole Journeys Team Member Educational Trip and then spend some personal time exploring the Allgäu region in Germany.  

Why am I going to Italy for work?  

  1. To learn where our Parmesan cheese, prosciutto, and other Italian products are sourced.  
  2. To experience a Whole Journeys trip.  Whole Journeys is Whole Foods Market travel agency company.  They organize food related vacation trips.
  3. To eat good food.  :)

Anyways, I'm super thankful and excited to be heading off on another adventure.  

Stay tuned for more details!  This time I plan to document my travels everyday!  

Ciao!

Make Work Your Passion Project

One woman I look up to in the work & fashion/lifestyle world - Eva Chen, Lucky Editor-in-Chief!

She really stays true to what she says here in the video.  I've reached out to her on her blog and Instagram and she's always replied back to me.  If you don't follow her on Instagram,  you should @EvaChen212

Eva Chen is one of my role models in life!

A Season of Travel

This year my schedule is packed.  I've been flying out or traveling to some place every month.  It's a bit hectic at times, but nothing makes me more happy than exploring.  Though there are challenges in a season of travel, in that staying grounded with the Lord and community is something that isn't easy when I'm constantly on the go.  However, God has been so good to me in this season of travel.  Everywhere I've been, He's met me there.  This year of adventures started out with Austin in March where I went to SXSW and was still able to go to church service and a Christian SXSW Meetup in the midst of the SX chaos.  Then recently, I went to Hong Kong and Vietnam and was able to visit my friend's church in HK and attend her discipleship class and women's group.  I am so thankful for his presence wherever I go and it reminds me that He is constantly present.  As long as I seek out his blessings and provisions, He provides! 

So where off to next?  New York!  I'll be heading to New York to attend 99U Conference.  Then in June, I'll be going to Italy for work and then spend a few days in Germany. 

I am thankful for the spirit of exploring and I look forward to sharing more about my trips to you all soon!  I have so much to share from my trip to HK and Vietnam.  And o yea - I just came back from a weekend trip at the Russian River!  Here's a sneak peek of my photos from HK and Vietnam.

Keep exploring and seek His blessings!

 

RECIPE: Speed Dates (Pre-Workout Snack)

Our Marketing Team at work created a mini Vday pop-up shop and while I sold HK Egg Puffs (recipe to come soon!), my co-worker Lindsay made these "Speed Dates."  These Speed Dates are the perfect little bites to eat before an early morning swim.  I've been looking for a simple granola bar recipe and this is the perfect one!  These are simple and easy to make and delicious and filling - just the perfect snack before a workout or a snack in between meals.  Check out the recipe below!  Next time I'm going to try adding chocolate chips in it!  Yum yum yum!  It makes me excited to wake up and eat these little speed dates.

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SPEED DATES
Makes 12-13 balls.

1 cup of coconut flakes
1 cup of oats
12-13 dates, chopped
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon of vanilla
orange zest from 1 orange
1/4 cup of water
1 pinch of salt
extra coconut flakes to roll the balls in - about 1 cup (optional)
 

Put the dates, coconut flakes, oats, pumpkin seeds, and salt in a food processor (or Vitamix) and pulse until dry and crumbly.  Zest one orange over the top of the food processor (or Vitamix).  Let these ingredients process for a minute until the bigger items are broken down. 

Slowly add the water and vanilla until the mixture becomes wet and sticky.  Scoop out tablespoons of the mixture and roll into 1" balls.  Then roll the balls into the extra coconut flakes to prevent these speed dates from sticking to each other. 

I like eating these at room temperature, but you can chill them in the fridge or freezer to eat them cold. 

Other Variations:  I hope to add dark chocolate chips to this next time!  I think it'll add a delicious mix to the speed dates.  Let me know if you try it with other variations!

 

Peko Peko Pop-Up Dinner - Oakland, CA

This past Saturday evening I was finally able to attend one of Peko Peko's pop-up dinner!  I became an immediate fan of Peko Peko after having one of their delicious bento boxes sold at The Gardner Store on 4th Street.  And I just didn't have one bento box, I continuously rode my bike out during my lunch break to pick up several bento boxed for lunch on various days for myself and co-workers.  

Why do I love Peko Peko so much?

  1. I love Japanese food!
  2. Peko Peko's food is authentic and delicious!  I love their homemade udon noodles.
  3. Peko Peko's packaging and design is awesome! 

So anyways, I finally had friends to go with to this past weekend's dinner and Peko Peko did not disappoint.  The pop-up dinner was at a place in Oakland (not sure if I'm supposed to disclose the location, so I won't).  We literally ordered everything on the menu and all of it was delicious.  My favorite part of the meal that night was the 3 Layer Berkshire Pork Tonkatsu!  Everything was oishii!

Here are photos from the dinner.  Enjoy!  

The pop-up dinner location - intimate, quiet & clean.

The pop-up dinner location - intimate, quiet & clean.

Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu

Three Layer Berkshire Pork Tonkatsu

Three Layer Berkshire Pork Tonkatsu

Tamago

Tamago

Pork Gyoza

Pork Gyoza

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Ikura Wasabi Don

Ikura Wasabi Don

Blood Orange Ice Cream with Candied Oranges and Mochi

Blood Orange Ice Cream with Candied Oranges and Mochi

Sunday Suppers: Gwyneth Paltrow's "Crazy Good Fish Tacos"

So my friend Kelly and I started a weekly dinner together which I've not so creatively named "Sunday Suppers."  Since she moved to SF, we figured it would be fun to hang out after Sunday service with a run/hike/rock climbing/yoga and then end the day with a delicious dinner so we can catch up on our week. 

I've been pulling recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, It's All Good - Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great.  The recipes in this book are actually pretty good.  Last week I made her Teriyaki Chicken recipe and this weekend I made her "Crazy Good Fish Tacos" recipes.  The fish tacos were pretty darn good.  I'm not sure if I'd call them "crazy" good, but they were good.  Kelly and I were much satisfied after we completed our meal.

What inspired me to make these fish tacos were -

1)  the weather - it's been a warm winter and this past weekend I felt it was like summer!

2)  work - so at work we've been highlighting a new South American fish called Paiche (pronounced "pie-chay") that we sell exclusively in our stores and we sponsored 2 bloggers JoyFoodly and ChezUs to create recipes with this fish.  Chef Hollie Greene from JoyFoodly created these delicious looking fish tacos so I thought I would try

3)  and just a craving for some guac and queso fresco.

And lastly, I believe there were 2 factors that made these fish tacos pretty good -

(one) the fish, I purchased a new South American fish called Paiche (pronounced "pie-chay!" from the Whole Foods Market in Oakland and it's the perfect fish for fish tacos.  It has a mild taste and buttery texture and it's hard to overcook!  Hence, making it a great fish to use for fish tacos.  I'm not saying this because I work for Whole Foods Market.  I usually would use tilapia, but tilapia is super easy to overcook or dry out.  Paiche on the other hand is a solid fish that holds its texture and flavor when cooked and is super delicious wrapped in a warm tortilla!

(two) the roasted poblano pepper in the sauce that Gwyneth Paltrow's recipe calls for.  It makes a well-rounded sauce to go with the fish taco and enhances the freshness of the entire meal.

Anyways, long story short - these fish tacos were delish!  Check out the recipe below.

CRAZY GOOD FISH TACOS
Serves 4
Recipe adapted from It's All Good - Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great

The Roasted Pepper Sauce
1 small poblano pepper
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
1/4 fresh jalapeno, seeds removed

The Fish Part
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of Paiche (or other mild white fish), skin removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
sea salt
black pepper
warm tortillas

Extras (this is what makes it all delicious and completes the meal!):
guacamole
red cabbage
'Have'A Corn Chip' Tortilla Chips
Queso Del Valle Queso Fresco
Roberto's of Santa Cruz Salsa
extra limes for that extra zest

Set an open gas flame to medium-high heat and roast the poblano pepper.  Using tongs, rotate the pepper every now and then until all of it is roasted black.  If you don't have an open gas burner, broil the poblano pepper in the oven and move the oven rack to the middle of the oven.  Roasting the pepper should take about 15 minutes.  Don't rush this process - you will want to make sure the pepper is cooked and charred on the outside.  Once this is done, put the pepper in a paper bag and close the bag so it can naturally steam and it will be easy to take the skin off.  After it's cooled, slip off and remove the burnt skin, stem, and the seeds.  Rinse the pepper with a little bit of water to remove any charred remains.  Then puree the pepper in a blender along with the onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, and jalapeno and set the sauce aside. 

Take a large skillet and the put the olive oil in it and set your stove to high heat.  Then add the Paiche to the pan and add some salt and pepper to your fish.  Saute the fish until cooked - this takes about 6-7 minutes.  Turn off the heat and serve the fish!

I served the sauce on the side.  The original recipe called to mix the sauce with the fish.  Do as you prefer. 

Then I placed the fish, sauce, tortillas, and extras on the table so we could build our own fish tacos!  It's fun and delicious!  Hope you enjoy it too!

Day Trip: Linda Del Mar Beach - Pacifica, CA

I finally caught my first full wave today at Linda Del Mar Beach in Pacifica!  I was so happy once I popped up on my board and felt the wave.  :)

I've been taking advantage of our warm winter and spent the day at the beach with my friends Jenn and Mary.  I went surfing and surprised Jenn with a surf lesson from the University of Surfing LLC as an early birthday present.  And our wonderful friend Mary stayed on shore to watch our bags and capture the shots of us surfing in the water.

Pacifica has become one of my favorite places up in the Bay.  The water is beautiful, the people are nice and it's only a 30 minutes drive from the East Bay! 

We spent the morning surfing and in the afternoon we enjoyed the sun and relaxed on the beach.  I was even able to squeeze one game of Bananagrams with my friends.  Then to end the day we walked up Morri Point and caught the sunset. 

It was a perfect weekend day trip.  I'm hoping to practice catching some waves at least once a month!

Here are my are my tips for a day trip in Pacifica:

  • Surfboard Rentals:  Rent surfboards from Sonlight Surfshop.  They have everything you need to go out to surf - board, wetsuit, booties.
  • Surf Lessons:  I would recommend University of Surfing LLC.  Super easy and great.  My friend Jenn had a great time learning with them. 
  • Parking:  There is free parking on Crespi Drive.  It's the same street of Sonlight Surfshop.  There are several paid parking lots off Highway 1 and Crespi Drive, but hey, why not go free when it's available?
  • Beach:  If you want to avoid the crowds, head out to the beach that is directly to the left of Crespi Drive, away from the Taco Bell.
  • Morri Point:  For a nice sunrise or sunset view, walk up to Morri Point.  It only takes about 5-10 minutes from the beach. 
  • Food:  There's a Taco Bell on the shore of the beach and a Safeway in a mini shopping plaza across the street.  I would recommend to bring your own food and enjoy it on the beach.

RECIPE: Meyer Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake with Biscoff Crust

Cheesecake is another one of my favorite desserts to make and eat.  I was invited to dinner at a friend's new home and was in charge of bringing dessert so I tried this recipe I found on Food52.com.  I usually search for recipes on Tastespotting.com, but lately I've been trying recipes from Food52 and they've been great!  I made a Pumpkin Cheesecake that all my friends loved from Food52 so I thought I'd find another cheesecake recipe from that site.  I love the lemon used in this recipe, it makes the cheesecake taste "lighter".  As "light" as a cheesecake can be, the is a great dessert to complete any meal or eat on its own.  Plus, the Biscoff cookie crust adds a unique twist to the generic graham cracker crust found in typical cheesecake recipes.  

Note:  The original recipe called for 2 Meyer Lemons, but I bumped mine up using 4 Meyer Lemons to secure that lemon flavor.

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MEYER LEMON BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE WITH BISCOFF CRUST
Serves 10
Recipe from Food52

Biscoff crust
5oz. Biscoff cookies, crumbled
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan.

In a food processor, blitz Biscoff cookies until finely ground. Add sugar and salt and continue to process. Slowly pour in melted butter and process again.  (I had a Vita-Mixer and processed it all in it)

Press mixture into bottom and up sides of springform pan. Bake in 350 F oven for 10 minutes. Remove and let crust cool to room temperature.

Meyer lemon cheesecake filling
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese (low-fat is ok, no-fat is not)
large eggs
cup sugar
teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract  (if you don't have this, just use an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
Meyer lemons, zest removed and juice reserved  
1 (16 oz.) carton sour cream (low-fat is ok, no-fat is not)
tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a mixing bowl, place cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the sugar and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add 1/2 of the zest to the cheesecake batter, reserving the remainder. Add all of the juice and the extracts to the batter, and continue to mix. Pour batter into prepared crumb crust. Place pan on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until cake is just set in center. Remove cake from oven but do not turn off oven.

Whisk together sour cream, 1 tablespoon sugar and remaining lemon zest. Spoon mixture onto the cheesecake and spread with an offset spatula or knife. Return the cake to the oven and bake for 10 additional minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven and let cool to room temperature. Store cheesecake, well-wrapped in refrigerator.

Reconnections

A new year and a new day reconnecting with a good friend I met almost 2 years ago when I first moved to the Bay.  Her name is Lia!  And today also happened to be her birthday.  We celebrated the new year and her day by going to Mt. Tam and enjoying the view of the Bay and watching the sunset.  It was a perfect day to enjoy the sun and enjoy what God has created for us - mother earth!  Thank you Jesus for a new year and reconnections with friends.  May this year bring more joy, blessings and adventures!  Cheers! 

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Catching Light

Since I couldn't get a last surf in before the New Year, I raced to my favorite beach, Del Mar, to capture some photos of surfers surfing.  I had 20 minutes before sunset and I raced to the beach to get some shots during the fleeting beauty hour.  For 2014, I hope to practice more surfing so one day I can look like these people below.  Surfs up.

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