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Back from a Road Trip

30 May

Just came back from LA. Took a road trip with my mom and family friend Eric. I was supposed to help drive, but Enterprise car rental won’t allow drivers under 21 to drive on long distances.

La Brea Farmer’s Market

Since we arrived at our hotel in Fullerton late Wednesday, we basically relaxed in the hotel until the next morning. On Thursday, we braved the crazy freeways to get to La Brea. Our original plan was to see the La Brea tar pits but we accidentally got distracted at The Grove mall and Farmer’s Market.

I was amazed by everything there. I loved the little food stands everywhere and how tucked away everything felt.

Nuts, nuts, and more nuts!

Confetti Popcorn

Confetti popcorn, anyone? Besides this kind, there were at least 5 other varieties.

The French Crepe Company

The French Crepe Company's cute painting. Lately I've been hearing a lot about the historic World Fairs.

Japanese Teapots

Japanese Teapots. Did you know there are only 3 Japan Town's in the whole United States? There's one in San Francisco, another in San Jose, and a third in downtown Los Angeles.

Cute sign

Because we live on one big green planet!

Jams

Would you like jam?

Ordering ice cream

Ice cream stand. Too many choices to choose from!

Vanilla-Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream

Perfect for a warm summer day.

Cajun Menu

Never did get to try that gumbo...

Veggie Chips

Veggie Chips. What doesn't this company make?

Candle Cupcakes

A store even had candle cupcakes.

Fresh Pasta

Fresh Pasta

Veggie Market

We got fresh strawberries, cantalope, plums, and bananas. I bet this market would have even more for better prices during the summer.

Strawberries

We ended up mixing this with the ice cream. A delicious combination!

 From Restaurants: Foxy’s and California Ramen

Fish Taco

Fish Taco from Foxy's Restaurant in Burbank

Fresh dinner rolls with sea salt

Fresh dinner rolls with sea salt. The inside of the dinner roll is made up of strips of bread.

Ramen with grilled chicken and fresh veggies

Ramen with grilled chicken and fresh veggies. The cauliflower were purple and orange, but the waiter assured us they were natural.

Made by Family

Chocolate Loaf Cake

My Aunt Pat made this for me to celebrate my graduation. It's chocolate-y but not dense or fudgy. It has a light crumb and moist texture. The key ingredients: pudding and Bailey's and Vodka. :)

Overall, the trip went well – especially the part beyond the realm of food. :)

In the Kitchen with Sarah Lodick (Sur La Table)

9 Aug

When I got back from UC Davis, I did not have much planned except for doing homework. How lame, I know.

So by Tuesday night, I had pretty much finished my summer reading assignment to read and respond to online questions regarding the chapter themes of “The Axemaker’s Gift” by Burke and Orstein. Don’t misjudge the book by my unenthusiastic attitude though. It’s a rather interesting take on how technology has changed man’s perspective of the world and how man can get back in touch with his more natural roots. If you’re looking for a serious read, this is a good choice.

Luckily, my mom already had things planned for me for the rest of the week. She had apparently called the Sur La Table in San Francisco Union Square to see if there was still room in the Teen Baking Camp; and luckily for me, there was not only room available but Chef Sarah Lodick was still willing to let me join the class for the rest of the week! Sarah had remembered me from last year and knew that I was not a troublemaker and readily let me join.Sur La Table Kitchen

Monday was apparently “Breakfast Creations” and Tuesday had been “Shortcakes, Cobblers, and Crisps”, but I don’t mind having missed these classes because Sarah gave me the recipes for the savory scones, nectarine and blueberry crisp, cherry almond crisp, (and more!).

Wednesday, “Pies and Tarts”

When I came in on Wednesday, the theme was “Pies and Tarts” so we – the 12 teens – made a banana cream pie with a Nutella Crust (delicious!), an all american apple pie, a chocolate pecan pie, and a lemon tart.

Chef Sarah putting the final "burn" on the lemon tart

Chef Sarah putting the final "burn" on the lemon tart

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart - my student partner and I actually made this!

The Apple Pie

The Apple Pie - check out the cute apple cut-outs!

The Chocolate Pecan Pie

The Chocolate Pecan Pie - filled with toasted, nutty pecans and chocolate chunks

Even though the class was nice to take because we got to eat whatever we made, I think what I enjoyed the most was the quick baking lessons Sarah taught us.

On Wednesday, Sarah clarified the single difference between a pie and a tart, which is that a pie is meant to be served in the decorative pie ceramic/tin while a tart is meant to be served on a plate to show its decorative crust.

The second lesson of the day was between the different kinds of salts used in cooking and baking. The first shown to us was Kosher salt, which is what is primarily used in cooking because it does not have a very salty taste. This is why in cooking shows you’ll see the chef put in what seems to be a large amount of salt. Because Kosher salt is not as salty, the chef can put more of it in the dish.

The second salt was sea salt because it was going to be used in a chocolate chip cookie recipe the next day. This salt is often used in baking rather than cooking. The third salt was Morton’s iodized table salt – the salt that is in the salt shaker at a table. This is the saltiest of all the salts so it is only used in small amounts. Sarah then showed us flavored salts, flaky salts, and a block of pink salt. Who knew that there were so many kinds of salts?

Amazingly enough, when I went to check out the open house of the Art Institute in San Francisco, the chef had prepared a similar salt tasting.

Thursday, “Chocolate Overload”

On Thursday, the theme of the camp was “Chocolate Overload”. Simply by reading the name, I should have known what kind of overload I would be in for. But no, I barely considered what kind of overload would be presented to me when I arrived.

The recipes for the day included: Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt, Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes with Ganache Glaze,  Chocolate Profiteroles with Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Hazelnut Bread Pudding, and Chocolate Soufflés. That’s what I call an overload of chocolate.

Chocolate Souffles

Chocolate Souffles and Chocolate Chip Cookies (in background)

Chocolate Profiterolesand Chocolate Bundt Cake Slices

Chocolate Profiteroles and Chocolate Bundt Cake Slices - it's like a work of art with the light reflecting off the chocolate sauce!

Before any of the desserts were made, Sarah treated us to a mini chocolate tasting. Using E. Guittard chocolate, she gave each of us semi-sweet, bittersweet, milk chocolate, and white chocolate pieces. She explained the difference between all these kinds of chocolate, which is the ratio of  chocolate liquor to to cocoa butter. Best of all, she explained the whole chocolate process. I’ll repeat it here in case you don’t know how chocolate is made. :)

  1. The cocoa beans are taken from the cocoa plant pod and roasted in a large oven after being sorted out for quality. The roasting dries the bean to bring out the aroma and flavors.
  2. The cocoa beans are then cracked and the inside of the beans are broken into bits called cocoa nibs. These nibs taste just like chocolate except they’re extremely bitter. However, they are sometimes used to decorate the sides of a cake.
  3. The cocoa nibs are crushed and thickened into a paste called chocolate liquor – it has no alcohol! The cocoa nibs can also be made into cocoa liquor through a hydraulic machine that will separate the cocoa from the cocoa butter.
  4. The chocolate liquor is then mixed with different amounts of  cocoa butter according to the manufacture’s taste. Milk, vanilla, and sugar are added as well. To make white chocolate, one must only add these ingredients to the cocoa butter – leave out the chocolate and cocoa liquor.
  5. Finally, through a refining and tempering process, the chocolate is made to have the texture of the chocolate bars we know today.

And there you go! The chocolate process.

For more information on the chocolate making process, check out: How Chocolate Is Made

The last lesson in chocolate Sarah taught us was the difference between Dutch-processed cocoa and unprocessed cocoa, which is that Dutch-processed cocoa is treated with alkali to neutralize the chocolate’s acids. Again, I was happy to know that I was doing more than just baking with Sarah at Sur La Table; I was learning too!

Chocolate Tasting

Chocolate Tasting - the small little jars are chocolate at its different phases; the larger boxes are the types of finished chocolate.

Friday, “Cupcake Madness”

When I realized that Friday was “cupcake madness” I was not looking forward to it initially. I have had so many bad attempts at making cupcakes and then frosting them at home that I was not particularly excited about Friday’s class. Not even the recipes for the day really intrigued me except for the coconut raspberry cupcakes. The rest seemed medicore at best.

Oh, but boy was I wrong. (See, this is why I try to keep an open mind because the rare times that I don’t, I am always pleasantly surprised!)

Because of the small size of the class, I only worked with one other student and we got to bake TWO recipes instead of just one! My partner and I baked up the coconut raspberry cupcakes and the brownie cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. The rest of the groups made the red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (my second choice), caramel cupcakes with caramelized frosting,  and black and white cupcakes.

Cupcake Madness

Cupcake Madness - the big front three are caramel cupcakes; the front small minis are the brownie cupcakes with peanut butter frosting; the back are the coconut raspberry mini cupcakes, red velvet, and black and white cupcakes. These lasted my family and I a good three days to finish. My dad agreed on the superb taste. :)

I have to say that one of my favorites (with no bias!) was the coconut raspberry cupcakes because they had a distinct texture and taste. I had never tasted anything like it before so the mingling of raspberry and coconut was new to me. The caramel cupcakes were pretty good. I’m not much of a caramel fan so this could be why I didn’t find it that great. But it did taste like caramel and the frosting paired well with the cake part.

The brownie cupcakes with peanut butter frosting seemed to be an odd pair. I remember reading the recipe and thinking, “Really?”, but the peanut butter actually complemented the brownie. This combination worked well texture-ly because the peanut butter and brownie are both dense.

Another good reliable cupcake was the black and white  variety. I did not help make these cupcakes so I didn’t know what it would taste like but when I tasted it, I was very pleased. The white and black frosting on the top had a distinct sweetness like I had expected, but the cake itself was lemon so it cut through the sweetness and balanced it out. I’m not sure if you’re a lemon cake fan, but this was good. As of recently, I’ve begun to enjoy the taste of a lemon cake. Not of the lemon tart though because the liquidy lemon-ness of the tart was too much for me. But a lemon cake is beautiful.

Of the cupcakes, I did have a “first”.

Before Friday, I had never tried a red velvet cupcake. I know that sounds strange for a baker, but I’ve never actually tried one. The only red velvet cupcakes I had seen before were in Starbucks, but I never thought of buying on there because I didn’t want my first red velvet cupcake to be from Starbucks of all places (no offense to Starbuck fans).

The special ingredient of red velvet, as Sarah explained, is the addition of cocoa in it so basically a red velvet cupcake has  a hint of chocolate flavor in it but it colored red. Apparently, the new fad is blue velvet cupcakes, according to Sarah, but I have yet to see a blue version of this cupcake.

Trying the red velvet cupcake was an experience for me. I took a bite not knowing what to expect, but it was good. The subtle cocoa flavor does the trick with this cake. I can now say that I am a fan of red velvet cake. And this was my favorite of all the cupcakes. :)

Another small tip for making frosting and cupcakes different colors, use gel food coloring! It helps keep the shape of the batter.

So that has been my baking adventures so far. It had only been four days since I got back from Davis and I was already in the kitchen. In fact, the night I got home, I made a pound cake but it was from a box so that doesn’t really count. It’s nice to be back home, but I’m still missing my YSP friends.

"YSP" in frosting

I got a bit distracted and wrote "YSP" in frosting during the time we were waiting for the cupcakes to bake.

If you are interested in the recipes of any of the foods I mentioned above, send me an email/comment and I’ll be happy to send you the recipe. :)

‘Til next time ~

Omnivore Books and Peter Reinhart & Friends

5 Mar

This is one of the days that I actually like my school administration. Giving the students a day off while the faculty are discussing the future plans was a great idea. (Thanks, Mr. Scudder and Dr. Hogarty!)

As you know if you read my last post, I wrote about how nervous I was for the anticipated trip to Omnivore Books to hear Mr. Peter Reinhart talk about the art of bread baking. Not to mention the fact that I had no idea what to make!

Recipe Story: The Applesauce Cake with Oatmeal Streusel

Last night I hastily did an inventory check in my apartment kitchen to find that I had no nuts, no raisins or cranberries, no gruyere cheese, or sour cream. I was completely at a loss of what to do. I mean, there went all my ideas for cinnamon rolls, gruyere puffs, and blueberry buckles. I took out all my baking books flipping madly trying to find a recipe that I could actually make when I saw it:  Applesauce Cake with Oatmeal Streusel.

“Brilliant!” I remember thinking as I remembered having applesauce somewhere in the fridge.

I read the directions which consisted of four simple steps, then began to measure out the ingredients. I took out the flour, sugar, baking power, applesauce, etc. I made the streusel part and then proceeded to make the cake part. I had everything prepared and sifted when it came time to add the applesauce. I opened the jar and frankly, my stomach lurched in disgust.

The applesauce was no longer applesauce. It was pink, fuzzy, and I think it winked at me.

However, I did not come all this way to give up, so I chopped up four medium apples, softened them in a microwave, added about 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and then swiftly pulsed them in a food processor. Ta dah – homemade applesauce!

Two cups of that went into the batter and it was ready to go. Lucky for me, it was well-received (and eaten) at the Omnivore Bookstore.

Omnivore Books – the one and only food bookstore in SF!

Omnivore Books on Food
3885a Cesar Chavez Street
San Francisco, CA 94131
Tel: 415.282.4712
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12-5
Omnivore Books Sign

Speaking of Omnivore … I was excited to head to this bookstore. How could I have not heard about a food bookstore in San Francisco? It is the only one of its kind and it escaped my knowledge. Before I had arrived, I browsed through the website and instantly felt that I was going to like this place. It had new books, old books, signed books, and pictures of a cute and well-lit bookstore in a vibrant and friendly neighborhood on Caesar Chavez Street.

I was not disappointed.Omnivore book shelves

Though I arrived late (I blame the alarm clock for not going off properly!), I somehow fit into the packed little bookstore. I  dissolved into the mass of people sitting in chairs and on the floor and the others leaning against the back bookcases quite easily. I was 20 minutes late, but as I always think “better late than never”. I was just thankful that my mom and I found parking only a block away.

As Mr. Reinhart was talking, I couldn’t help but notice how cute the bookstore was. I do not know if Mr. Reinhart chose this place or the bookstore invited him or a combination of a mutual agreement, but it was definitely the perfect location.

Owner of Omnivore Books: Mary

Owner of Omnivore Books: Celia

It was big enough to accommodate all 30 (or so) of us, yet it was small enough to have this familiar, cozy atmosphere. It was as if all of us had gathered humbly to hear an experienced baker and philosopher talk about his life findings and point of view. We all had crowded in together captivated by the eloquent speaker.

If an outsider had looked in, we probably looked like a family in a home because that is how it felt like: a home.

After Mr. Reinhart finished his lecture, I was able to meet the owner of this bookstore: Celia.

Assistant: Samantha; Owner of Omnivore: Celia

After talking to her, I knew that this was a bookstore I would be coming back to whether it was for the upcoming events, new baking books, or simply to visit a familiar place.

This is a must visit place for any foodie living or visiting San Francisco.

Like Omnivore? Check out their upcoming events here.


Peter Reinhart and Bread as More than a Symbol

I know that I am young so I cannot say with any truth at least “I have seen it all”. I have actually embraced the opposite outlook in life. I am so excited to explore the world around me, meet new people, and learn about new and different things.

Having said that, I’m sure that it comes as no surprise that when I walked into Omnivore and saw Mr. Reinhart, heard him talking about the 12 step process of bread baking, the techniques of professionals and tips for home bakers, and relating the literal process of bread baking to the spiritual transformation, I was completely stunned.

I could not believe that the man I had seen on the back flap of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice was there. This was the same man that I had written a letter to and emailed back and forth to! And there he was standing right in front of me. I was blown away.

As I listened to what he was saying what interested me the most besides the actual bread making techniques was his comment of the four layers of transformation especially how the basic literal level is usually over-looked.

Peter Reinhart lecturing

To paraphrase what he said, “I always knew that bread was a symbol, but I never considered that the actual process of bread baking in the oven was in itself a transformation”.

If you think about it, what he said is true. He went on to say that though the yeast dies when the center of bread reaches 140 degrees, the outcome of the soft, vulnerable living dough is a beautiful, tasty, crusty bread. The theme that he was talking about was “from death comes life” like a rebirth, or in religious terms, the Resurrection.

A religious interpretation from Mr. Reinhart might be expected from him since he was once a brother. (Even at the brother’s house, he worked as the cook there). But, his insight offers another view on the simple task of bread making. Bread has truly been a staple for many cultures all over the world throughout history. There must be a reason why. And Mr. Reinhart gave his interpretation that does indeed make sense.

The parallels between baking bread and Christianity do seem quite numerous. Whether or not it was intended to be so, I did enjoy Mr. Reinhart’s perspective and will most likely be sharing this revelation with my friends.

The book written by Peter Reinhart from a  Theologian’s perspective: Brother Juniper’s Bread Book.

*He also mentioned that he is in the process of writing another theological book as well due to come out in a few months.

The Other Noteworthy People: Wolfinger & Cohn

Eric Wolfinger - photographer and bakerAfter Mr. Reinhart finished talking, the event broke out into “casual mingling mode”. We were all encouraged to try the baked goods that the other guests brought including Raisin Bran Muffins, pecan(?) tartlets, puffs, and my coffee cake.

While walking around, I was able to meet some really cool people like Eric Wolfinger, a baker at Tartine, and Allen Cohn, photo secession baking assistant of Artisan Breads Every Day.

Talking to each of them made me feel that I could work as a full-time baker. I’m sure there are certain things in life I would not be able to do like perhaps buy a mercedes-benz every two years, but I realized that maybe I don’t mind being a “starving baker” (what an oxymoron, right?) If he could live out his passions for photography and baking, then so could I.

For Eric Wolfinger’s Website on photography and baking, click here.

Originally from Los Angeles, Eric Wolfinger explained to me that he actually majored in Political Science, but then took on baking because it was his passion. Mr. Reinhart recounted a story from his book Artisan Breads Every Day in the Epilogue of when Eric brought a “smoky, crisp flaky crust[ed]” French bread to a dinner that made Mr. Reinhart stop in his tracks.

Calling himself “The Wandering Cook”, he currently works as a baker at Tartine where he and the other bakers produce the same french bread that caused time to stop still for Mr. Reinhart. Once I found this out, I was so surprised at who I was surrounded by in Omnivore. There were so many professional bakers in my midst! Being able to talk Mr. Wolfinger was such an honor that I was delighted with the few minutes we stood and chatted.

Tartine's Pumpkin Bread, Fruit Bread Pudding, Blueberry Cake, and Banana Cake

The other man who I had the honor of meeting was Allen Cohn, one of two the photo session baking assistants for Reinhart’s book Artisan Breads Every Day.

Talking to him, I realized that there are other things that I can do to enhance my knowledge of baking. He was kind enought to write down in my notebook (yes, I actually brought a real notebook to take notes) the list of things that I should look up.

I believe the first thing he asked me was, “How do you measure your ingredients?”Allen Cohn

I knew where this was going because I had read that weighing the ingredients is much more accurate than using measuring cups since everyone measures things differently.

I responded and smiled guiltily, “With measuring cups”.

“You should really buy a scale. They’re only $40. I held a class one time and asked each of my students to measure out 1 cup of flour, and they each came out with flour weighing from 3.5 ounces to 4.5 ounces. It should weigh 4 ounces”.

As I was talking more to him, so much useful information was being tossed out that I had to ask him to write in my notebook. In it, he wrote down several links including links to The Bread Bakers Guild of America and The Bakers Dozen. He also recommended Bread by Hammelman Bread Science by Emily Buehler, and Bakwise by Corrher.

As you can see, I’ve so much to catch up on! But first things first, buy the MyWeight kd7000 scale, or else I would be failing Mr. Cohn and the integrity of bread making would be soiled!

For Allen Cohn’s Baking Website, click here.


The Summary

I am glad that I went today and that my mom was kind enough to take the day off to take me. (Thanks, Mom!) I am glad that I did not hide my applesauce streusel cake at the last minute. (I had whispered to my mom, “Take it back to the car. No one is going to eat it”. She refused after seeing me work so hard last night). I am glad that I met so many wonderful people, including Celia and Samantha from Omnivore. (Celia was Omnivore’s photographer, I think, who was the first one to dare to try my cake! After she gave it a thumbs up, others followed suit).

Meeting other people like Eric Wolfinger and Allen Cohn made me realize that my dream to become a professional baker is possible if I just keep on baking. I was so lucky to be in the presence of so many experienced bakers who were willing to share their knowledge and experience with me.

I felt so honored to be mentioned by Mr. Reinhart in his formal talk ‘on stage’ in front of everyone too. At least five different people came up to me asking what my blog’s name is. (“Notebook Worthy”, I proudly replied with a smile). I’m also very thankful for Celia from Omnivore for tweeting about me to her 1,600 followers!, and Heidi Swason from 101 Cookbooks for re-tweeting her tweet! (ah, the beauty of the internet) Most of you are probably here because of her! :)

Also seeing Mr. Reinhart as a theologian and not just the bread baker was a nice experience too. Hearing him relate bread to religion was quite an experience, something I will take with me.

Hear Peter Reinhart Talk in the Taste3 Conference Here

Most of all, I was happy to be surrounded by people who shared my passion for baking. I have to admit that I do not run into too many student bakers at my school.

I have learned a lot about myself and the possibilities of the future because of the people I met today. It truly is rather exciting.

Double Treat: Omnivore Bookstore & Peter Reinhart!

2 Mar

Omnivore Event
March 5, 9:30 am:  Peter Reinhart

I am so excited for because in less than 36 hours I will be at San Francisco’s acclaimed Omnivore (Culinary/Baking) Book Store on Cesar Chavez Street. Why might I be so excited to be there at 9 a.m.? Well, because I finally get to meet and talk to Peter Reinhart, author of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (and many other books)! He is coming to the Bay Area to talk about baking breakfast breads.

Complete List of Omnivore Events

At the same time, I am extremely nervous to meet him. Online it mentions that visitors can “bake some to share, if [they] feel moved!” I would love to bake something and bring it there, but I do not know if my baking skills are quite up to par to present it to the Bread Master himself! I was considering on baking cinnamon rolls using his recipe, but I thought that maybe that might be worse since he would know what the cinnamon rolls should taste like. Eh, I might just have to figure out something else. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment.

But anyway, I just wanted to share my anxious feelings as well as invite you to come out to this visionary bookstore. I have to say that I did not know that a cullinary bookstore like Omnivore existed. Then again, this is San Francisco I am talking about, so this should not come as much of a surprise. Still, I am quite interested to explore the bookstore itself.

Omnivore sells vintage books and signed books as well as newly released books. If you are looking for letter by M. F. K. Fisher, then you have found the correct place! These letters range from $50 – $200 so depending on how much you want to spend, you can have your pick.

So there you have it: a great upcoming event (Reinhart) and a lovely new bookstore (Omnivore).

And of course, I will write about Friday’s meeting and post up the pictures that I take. :)

Rainy Adventure to San Francisco’s Ferry Building

24 Jan

Since my mom and I went to the Ferry Building two weeks ago, I could not wait to go back there again. When we first went, it was the Monday before school started back up again so there was no farmer’s market or arts & crafts tents. Plus it was mostly deserted. But, not this time.

This time there was the Walk for Life peace demonstration so the entire Embarcadero and Ferry Building area was jammed packed. The crowds were probably from the demonstration and because it was simply a Saturday. Weekends are when the farmers’ market and arts & crafts fair are set up and roaring to go. The rain did not prevent people from traveling to the Ferry Building either – it sure did not prevent us – it only forced all the crowds that would have been lounging outside into the building. It literally felt like walking through a New York subway! My head was spinning trying to take into the different sights, smells, and sounds.

Once inside and my head stopped spinning, I began to enjoy it. There were so many different kinds of people there: tourists (mostly Asian and Europeans), wet demonstrators, families with little kids and grandparents, and the young couples in their 20’s and 30’s. There were so many good smells coming from everywhere: the Ciao Bella gelatto place, Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop, San Francisco Fish Company, Farm Fresh to You, Far West Fungi, Stonehouse’s California Olive Oil, Imperial Tea Court, ACME Bread Company, Miette, and so much more. The whole directory can be found here.

I was actually surprised how busy and alive the Ferry Building was compared to the time we went there. The storekeepers of all the food shops were giving away samples like how Costco does. This one moment came when the flow of people stopped and across a couple of walking lanes I saw the Farm Fresh to You (grocery store). This older gentlemen with an apron on stood there next to a table with some kind of chocolate treats. He smiled and waved over my mom and I. It did not take much to attract us: it was simply the chocolate

.

Farm Fresh to You & CJ’s Bitz

CJ's Bitz: Hand Rolled in Toffee Chips (Original); sold at Farm Fresh to You

The grocer handed us a piece of toffee chocolate pretzel (the original flavor) and then when we smiled, nodded our heads that it was delicious, he handed us the peanut butter version which was the same thing but the pretzel was filled with peanut butter. As we stood there with our mouths glued shut with peanut butter, he proceeded to tell us about the white chocolate version with the peanut butter and without the peanut butter. Before we knew it, we agreed that the Original Flavor and the Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate versions were the best. And indeed, they were! Which is why we bought a small bag of each kind for $5.99 each, which is a $1 cheaper than their online price here.

After we left the Farm Fresh to You with their delicious organic fruits and vegetables, we headed outside equipped with umbrellas where the real produce stands were. Unfortunately, none of the pictures that I took came out well because of the rain, but I have to say that it was a nice variety. There were organic pastas, breads, vegetables from all over the Bay Area, and even a rotisserie chicken place!  This I got a picture of. (I am a big fan of rotisserie chicken, by the way. I always buy one at my local Lucky’s).


DELICA: A Japanese Delicatessen

After coming back inside to dry off, it was about 11:30 am so everyone was lining up at all the restaurants. We already knew that we wanted to go to DELICA – rf1, a Japanese Delicatessen. (On their sign, it reads more like “Deli CA”). They serve what the Japanese call “bentos”, which are basically like lunch combinations for a special price. The original Japanese bentos consist of rice, chicken, beef, or pork, seaweed, and fruit. It is much like a school child’s lunch.

They do serve various deli items such as Roast Beef sushi, Organic Agedashi (“ah-geh-dah-she”) Tofu Steak, and a Chicken Dumpling with Sweet Chili Sauce. Their salads are superb fusions of their original counter parts. I tried the Hijiki and Soybean Salad, Spicy Burdock Salad, and the Spinach and Sesame Salad. Their Carrot Ginger soup had a delicious taste and slightly thick texture. They had samples of this soup, which is why we bought a cup of it. They also have different sushis and fried items, but we did not try those. If you want the full menu (PDF), go here, or (HTML) here.

Here are the photos our lunch.

Hijiki Rice Ball & Salmon and Sesame Rice Ball - $2

Lunch Plate Combination Displays (Food displays are a typical Japanese custom)

Cold Cases of Deli Items and To Go Foods

Roast Beef Sushi in the Deli case; Tofu and Chicken Patties got cut off

My take-out box: spinach and seasme salad, Hijiki and Soybean Salad, and Tofu-Chicken Pattie with Miso Sauce

Mom's Take Out Box: Spicy Burdock Root Salad, Steamed Rice, and Chicken Dumpling with Sweet Chili Sauce

Chicken Dumpling with Sweet Chili Sauce

Carrot Ginger Soup

Lunch Time Music: Jazz, courtesy of the Man with the Oboe

I tried to get a picture of the little girl, but at the last moment, the woman with the stroller moved in the way. But, just look at everyone's smiles!

While we were enjoying a delicious meal from DELICA, my mom and I opted to sit outside where we were shaded by the roof. Surprisngly, there were still a good number of people seated at similar wire tables and chairs. The best part of the lunch and the view was the beautiful jazz music played by this man on his oboe.

I am not too sure if he was homeless or if he was just playing to play, but he was nonetheless talented. He seemed to be in his 50’s, but his heart was of pure gold. He was smile and laugh as little kids were captivated by his music. When in the presence of any little kid, he usually switched from his jazz tunes to children tunes like “Old McDonald” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. He even made one little boy who was crying so loudly to quiet down and actually giggle. I am sure that the parents of the little boy were so happy. Another little girl was so delighted with him and his music that she started dancing in front of him. Her parents stood by watching their daughter interact with the friendly man.

ACME Bread Company

Because I knew that I could not pass up trying the ACME Bread Company because it was reccomended by Mr. Peter Reinhart himself, we headed there next even though we were quite full from DELICA’s lunch. But, I did try to save room so I was able to squeeze in one of their Teeny Rolls, a palm-sized piece of bread.

It should not come as a shock to know that when we got there, there was a line forming. We quickly go into line and waited to step up to the counter where all the bread displays were. While waiting, I was watching the bread makers in the back punching the dough, rolling it out, and then using the super-sized, commercial ovens.

Once at the counter, I was dazzled by the different types of breads that they were selling. I couldn’t really choose which ones to buy, but somehow the words “onion bread”, “pumpkin bread”, and “three teeny rolls, please” came out. While walking around, we munched on a teeny roll. It was the best bread I have ever tasted. It was not like a sourdough or a sweet french roll. It was soft, moist like a cake but not sweet, with a hint of salt. I swear that it was just like dessert except that it was a piece of bread.

Sur La Table

Here’s just a quick area of where I ended up. (Predictable, aren’t I?)

Oh, and just for you who do not know what “Sur La Table” is, it is a cookingware and bakingware store. I’ve taken classes at the Sur La Table downtown. It’s a good place to go.

I saw this linen napkin and couldn’t help but smile when I saw it too …

The Wrap Up

If you go to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, then you have you try these places:

I did not write about all of them, but these are my personal favorites. Of course do not forget the Weekend Farmer’s Market.

So, if you ever come to San Francisco, come to the Ferry Building. It is a foodie’s heaven! It’s better than Disneyland. :)

Day Off = Shopping, Analysis, Baking: Poppy Seed Bread

18 Jul

With school over, I have had my first afternoon with nothing to do.

Well, that’s not true. I did spend time eating a long lunch with a good friend and some shopping in San Francisco’s Japan Town. There’s a new store called Daiso that sells everything for only $1.50. I couldn’t believe it! Beautiful bowls (made in China, Taiwan, and Japan) for $1.50. Tart molds (made in Japan) for $1.50. Lanterns? $1.50. Candy, food, plant pots? $1.50. I bought a tart mold.

Pretty nifty, ay? We’ll see how it does when I actually use it though. I’ll let you know and post pictures of the success or disaster. x__x

After shopping and browsing, I headed home to turn on the computer and relax, something I hadn’t been able to do in 6 weeks, though my July 4th weekend was a weekend in heaven. :) With school and classes, I hadn’t much time to relax and enjoy my summer. But now, with school over, I have much more time to bake, relax, and work on my own pace. I had been taking an accelerated honors course this summer. Yes, I know, it was a crazy idea. But it paid off! I took my final today, which I honestly thought that I bombed – and I mean really bombed, like I didn’t know a single thing on there. With previous knowledge and some killer guessing skills, I managed to not only pass, but get a 94%! My overall grade? A 95%. *Takes a bow*. I am quite proud.


Poppy Seed Cake

After resting awhile, I decided that I would have a late dinner. It was just a bowl of soup from the can – not impressive, I know, but I had something else I was focusing. This brings me to my next topic: Poppy Seed Bread. (Though I made it into a cake).

I couldn’t wait to try the new tart mold so I found a recipe. I had been craving a poppy seed bread for a while now, so I decided that no time was more perfect than now.

The tart mold was a perfect mold! I’ve never used another tart pan but this was perfect. The mold was thick and seemed to be high quality. My cake didn’t burn and it was easily dented or bent.

As for the poppy seed bread, it turned out pretty well. It was soft, moist, and sweet. It might have been better as an actual cake recipe or with some lemon, but it was good for a first try. I only made 1/3 of the recipe because I figured that even 1/2 would be too much for the 8 inch tart mold. I wasn’t even sure if it was going to work well, but it did. It worked out really well.

Isn’t it just wonderful looking? And of course, it was so tasty,too.

I suggest serving it was vanilla bean ice cream.
The two compliment each other quite well.

Recipe for Poppy Seed Bread
Credit: All Recipes

*When I made 1/3 of the recipe, I used the same amount of almond extract and baking soda. I also greased the tart pan with a small amount of vegetable oil. You can also flour it if you want though you might not need too.

I hope you enjoy! :)