Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I have an internal struggle surrounding foods like donuts. I think it’s backed by the American condition of bad food versus good food, diet restrictions and over indulging.
It’s one of those foods you shouldn’t eat everyday so you need to learn to eat them in moderation, whatever the word moderation should mean to you. I’m not very good with fuzzy rules…. including the fuzziness around moderation. I suppose it’s a learned virtue that I’m still honing.

I love donuts. My childhood favorite was the cake with white frosting and rainbow sprinkles and now if I don’t opt for this one I either get a maple bar or a simple glazed. When I was young I used to eat the cakey part of my mom’s glazed donuts since she only liked the parts with frosting. Isn’t that ridiculous?

If you’re going to indulge I am a firm believer it better be a darn good donut.
Nestled in Santa Clara in a rundown shopping center lives Stan’s Donut Shop and it’s just the spot to do it. Open since 1959, they've definitely mastered the art of delicious donut making.

This little gem pumps out fresh, hand rolled donuts everyday. You’ll end up waiting in a decent line but won’t ever be disappointed with the crisp outside, creamy on the center texture. I think you deserve one and quite frankly I think I deserve one too, even if it is a few days before Thanksgiving!

Before this visit with my Dad I hadn’t been in years. I felt like I was 8 again, heading over to grab donuts down the street on an early Saturday morning and deciding on the cake one with rainbow sprinkles :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cooking with Chef Emily

I recently had the pleasure of cooking a mighty feast with my good friend Emily. She and I became close while weathering the 18 months of culinary school at the CIA up in St. Helena. In between foraging random produce around the neighborhoods and dancing at Ana's Cantina we made loads of hollandaise sauce and volunteered at countless school functions. We were partners in crime.

Emily is incredibly talented. She has a unique way of looking at food and is full of inspiration. Despite my strange label as being a "super taster," Emily holds something I strive for- a palate that can please a crowd. She knows exactly what to do to make something taste perfect...and she does it over and over again.

We began our night at the Berkeley Bowl and Trader Joe's...

Plantains are best when they're skin is almost entirely black

Her favorite apple, the Arkansas Black. "The blacker the better..they have a great crunch!"

This Italian sheep's milk cheese is incredible. I highly recommend it... if nothing else to simply snack on

We decided to build our meal around plantains since it's what we were craving. Actually, it's what Emily was craving but I love plantains so it worked out perfect. Our meal looked like this:

Roasted and Blackened Plantains
sour cream, pickled red onions, cilantro

Sauteed Chicken Breast with Cuban Spices
orange cumin reduction sauce

Sauteed Black Lentils
carrots, green onions

Arkansas Black Apple, Jicama and Arugula Salad
Toscano sheep's milk cheese, citrus vinaigrette

Mulled Wine
red wine, apple cider, mulling spices

This sauce blew my mind... and yes, that's a hair tie holding the cilantro stems together. Resourceful, right? (no, it hadn't been used)

First pan fried....

Then roasted until black and delicious

Next time you eat plantains you must try this combination

Em in a nutshell

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Hooray for tomorrow being Thursday!
Sometimes I get excited for Thursday purely on the habit (still) that it's the Farmer's Market in San Luis Obispo. I haven't lived there for a few years but it still lingers in my heart.

Here are a few shots of my quick day trip to Napa last Saturday...I think I'm going to take hints from the bears in the picture below and get some serious R&R this weekend!

colorful vines on Hwy 29 (from the car)

In the Stag's Leap Winery caves...how cute is he?

This could quite possibly be the most random blog post in the history of my blogging life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Grove on Fillmore

Have you been to The Grove on Fillmore in San Francisco? If not, you most definitely should. This trendy, way too beautifully mis-matched eating establishment is something you don't want to miss. E and I went there to have lunch and do work on our computers the other day and had a splendid time.
I ordered a Chinese Chicken Salad (completely unlike me and I regretted it right after) and E ordered the Chicken Pot Pie. Great decision on her part.

It's kind of pricey and most definitely crowded but there's something about it that makes me feel right at home. Perhaps it's the cow print couch we sat on while our legs were up on a large round foot stool made of the same material or how when I looked around at the patrons they all acted as if they were in their own living rooms lounging, laughing, surfing the web and eating delicious food.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

the man with blue gloves

This morning I came over to the city to go on my favorite run of all time (North Beach to the Golden Gate Bridge...today it was a bit shorter but usually, if I'm super up to it and have someone with me I can make it there and when I do it's so glorious) and hang out with one of my favorite girls, E.
At the Bay Bridge toll booth there was a man with a friendly face who upon my arrival said,

"Wow, you are a beautiful lady! Are you married?"
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
"Yes." (I lied)
"Wow, well I would marry you in a second and buy you a great big house. Can I kiss your hand?"
Then, with his money stained blue glove he took my hand and kissed it. Then told me once again,
"You, you are beautiful, such a beautiful face."

All I could think of was my friend Lindsay living in Sierra Leone and how she is approached on the streets almost everyday with men doing this exact thing to her! She and I must be kindred spirits...the man even looked like he could have been from Sierra Leone!

Anyway, the city today is be-a-utiful.

What I Ate.

I love kale. Especially Russian Red Kale. Typically the Russian Red Kale I buy is soft and friendly but the one I got at my first visit to the Berkeley Bowl (my new favorite grocery store) was kind of rugged. Still delicious but not exactly what I was hoping for.

I made a yummy meal out of it anyway and decided to take some pics because it was so good. Sauteed kale, homemade Ranchero Sauce, crushed garlic, fried egg, greek yogurt, avocado, cilantro and cayenne. Do it.
I would love if everyone I knew had a blog and posted what they ate each night (with pictures) for a whole week. I'll keep dreaming...

I'm going to figure out the ranchero sauce recipe I make and post it soon :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

One of the best parts of my job...

Being the one who conducts photo shoots.

Because I'm the only one in the product development team that has a decent camera and becomes giddy thinking about taking photos of food I'm priveleged with all our in-house photo shooting.

Thomas acts as my trusty assistant...

our make-shift photo shooting room

that's right, we're getting ready for the holidays :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crazy Ride

Last Wednesday I biked to work. My excitement of living closer to work and incredible ambition to combine my workout for the day with the beautiful commute led me to this insane jaunt.

The ride there was great. The weather was mild, the sun was rising making beautiful colors in the sky and I met my co-worker Thomas halfway to show me the cool route. I hardly broke a sweat and if it wasn't for Thomas basically sprinting and dragging me along with him I wouldn't have felt like it was much of a workout.

The ride home was a bit different.
Two blocks into my solo ride after Thomas and I split up I almost plowed myself into a city bus. The bus had its blinker on but I thought it was turning not dead stopping. Under an overpass and in between two traffic lights the guy slammed on the brakes. Stunned and going a good speed I slammed on my brakes as hard as I could balancing stopping fast and not flying over my handle bars. I literally stopped and my feet flew out of my clip on shoes an inch from hitting the bus. If I had swerved left it would have been into traffic and right would have been into a tiny sidewalk and concrete wall. My adrenaline was racing as I gained my composure and looked behind me to see who saw the scene. A man in his beat-up Honda was gawking at me and when I mouthed,"So Close!!!" while showing the distance with my hands all he could do was nod.

After winding up on Fruitvale I hopped a few blocks over to the correct street and started the climb. It began mild but continued to increase in degrees until my legs were burning and all I wanted was to fall over and quit. This particular street was great, lined with trees and shading me from the intense sun but these trees were also full of super gross nats. They were flying all over the place and sticking to my sweaty face and arms making it so I had to keep my mouth closed and squint my eyes. I can just picture now how ridiculous I must have looked.

I began the serious climb once I hopped on the frontage road to Highway 13, pictured below. It was so challenging I talked to myself in a constant stream saying things like, "oh my gosh, I can't believe this, Oh my goodness, this is crazy, Come on Vaness, you can do this...it's not that bad right? Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh...". I passed a few people walking down hill as I climbed up and all I could muster to say was ,"This sucks." They chuckled while saying something encouraging and went on their way, making me feel stupid for being so negative. I guess beating my body up and pushing my physical self to the extreme measure brings out the not-so-polite side in me.

The best part of the ride was Lincoln Ave. when the road hit a peak. I was going to start riding downhill. I had no idea and all of a sudden I was cruising in dreamland down the windy road making my way to Montclair. It's weird how quickly I became overjoyed after being in such agony...

I made it home in an hour, which isn't too bad considering my commute used to be close to that. My legs were wobbly and I was sore for a good three days but I do think this could be the beginning of something beautiful. :)
I just need to learn routes that don't have buses on them and trees with nats.