Posts from the ‘Bakery’ Category

Visit to Japantown with My Brother, Part 2

Super Mira grocery store is devoted to Japanese and organic foods. Their assortment of local organics and gluten-free items was very impressive. I was totally amazed that they have the S&B gluten-free Curry Prince roux mixes, which I previously talked about here*. I’m so glad they carry so many local products instead of importing everything from overseas; I was pleasantly pleased to see so many packages of organic foods that I have seen at Whole Foods, Oliver’s and Community Market up here in Sonoma County. This means the foods are fresher, which hopefully also makes the prices much more reasonable (actually rather decent) for the store and their customers. They had bakery counter and fresh made-to-order sushi, too. The service people were very friendly, and the store is really neat and clean. The store has a blog, where they post current sales, recommendations and other information, which is written half in Japanese, but they do have a good number of helpful pictures.

Yasukochi’s Sweet Stop is a bakery located inside the market and has been in business for 38 years! That’s a really long time, considering the relatively quick lifespans of so many businesses in Japantown, especially so close to the malls. Unfortunately, we visited Japantown on a Sunday, so the bakery counter (along with several other shops in the area) was closed and bakery cases empty. Although I definitely cannot eat any of their creamy glutinous baked delights, there are several enticing pictures and reviews from Yasukochi’s happy customers over at Yelp, absolutely raving about how great they are.

In Super Mira’s sauce and curry section, I found the S & B “Curry no Ohji-Sama” sweet curry roux mixes that I previously posted about in this entry, to which I recently made a correction regarding the gluten content. When I looked at the list of ingredients on the red and blue boxes, I found that both of them are gluten-free. I bought one of each to try them out (I will try to post the cooking and taste test results later). The directions on the back of both boxes say to add lean beef or chicken, onions, carrot and potato, but I’m sure you can add other meats and/or vegetables if you prefer. The red box holds a vegetable curry, which is vegan as far as I can tell (There are pictures of vegetables on the front, and the English language sticker says “no meat contained”). The roux bar provides six servings, each 70 calories, without any significant nutritional value other than 590mg (24% of your daily needed) sodium. The blue box doesn’t not have a picture on the front that suggests a particular flavor, so your guess is as good as mine unless you can read Japanese. The ingredients the blue box does list non-calcinated shell calcium (perhaps to boost the otherwise rather insignificant amount of vitamins and minerals), which therefore makes the sauce non-vegan. This boxed mix also serves six, each serving has 60 calories and 560mg sodium (23% of your daily value). Although multiple locations carry the red boxed mix, I’m under the impression that the blue one is pretty popular, too; I bought the last one in the store. Remember, you can always create more serving, add nutrients and dilute the sodium by adding more vegetables, liquid, meat, nuts, seeds, grains, noddles or what-have-you than the directions call for. Let me know what you come up with.

Nijiya Market never ceases to amaze me. It has a huge selection, which now features lots of local and organic products (not just imports). I was pleasantly pleased to find taiyaki (grilled sea bream fish-shaped waffles or “cakes” filled with nut butter, fruit, sweet bean paste, pudding or ice cream) in the freezer section. I kind of want a taiyaki maker for myself to make my own ice cream sandwich fish; they are very popular treat in Japan and taste scrumptious. Imagine eating ice cream on a regular waffle cone, except the light crispy waffle completely surrounds the semi-soft ice cream center instead of the cone just serving as the ice cream holder that your hands from cold and stickiness. It’s so good! Some types of taiyaki have various fillings (sometimes one or two fillings per fish-shaped cake) or batters, like brown sugar, green tea, chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. I found some gluten-free recipes! One recipe includes red bean filling, and the other uses blueberry filling. Here’s a video that shows how to make the non-ice cream ones. You can use it as a guideline and substitute one of the bean-based fillings for ice cream if you want to; just refreeze the taiyaki once they are done cooking.

Anyway, there was a whole section of furikake (rice seasonings); the three I bought now brings my collection up to five varieties (shrimp, bonito fish, seaweed, mixed vegetable and beefsteak plant; the salmon one is also very good) in my cupboard . I’m not sure if it’s because they are the most profitable sections in the store, but there are multiple aisles devoted just to confections and snacks, more than I anticipated. After the company’s focus on and attention to organic foods, I found the shear quantity kind of shocking. Is it due to all the visiting tourist customers wanting a quick snack that there’s so much junk food? I don’t think the people living and working in the Japantown neighborhood actually buy that much unhealthy food to warrant the huge amount in the store, but maybe I’m just being presumptuous.


One of the newest food features is the market’s huge refrigerated section of freshly-made, ready-to-go bento-style boxed lunches and noodle soups that they make onsite. I was very impressed with the variety of dishes available, all garnished in rainbow of color. I don’t know why I didn’t noticed them before, but Nijiya Market is actually a chain of stores that specializes in organic produce and products and publishes their own free Japanese foods magazine, called Gochiso, that started back in 2005. The seasonal and annual issues are printed in Japanese, Chinese and English language versions with lots of full-color Nijiya Market Ricephotographs, articles on health, certain ingredients and certain types of dishes, like onigiri or maki. Nijiya also has an online store, where they sell their own lines of organic rice and flours. Who knew there are that many organic varieties commercially available? I couldn’t help staring at them in awe and wonder when my brother and I were in the store. I wonder what the customary uses are and what the flavors and textures are like for all of the rice types…, but I know I can eat them all! Nijiya Markets also has its own food blog with recipe entries in English and Japanese, which is really cool, as they post a new one about every two weeks.


Kissako Tea is a cute little booth or kiosk that sells a nice variety of dumpling-style wagashi (bite-size Japanese desserts); here’s a fantastic blog that is almost entirely devoted to Japanese dessert recipes. I love mochi! Traditionally, the dough was made out of rice that was steamed and then beaten smooth, but now finely ground rice flour is mixed with water to make dough and then steamed. Either way, since mochi manju (“beaten rice dumpling”) dough is naturally gluten-free, I can eat it! Fresh mochi is soft and kind of stretchy if it is made with steamed rice. The dough is really sticky, so it’s dusted with starch made from corn, arrowroot or potatoes. Steamed mochi dough is usually dyed with naturally tinted ingredients, like cacao, fruit juice, green tea powder or ground mugwort to create muted or pastel colors and sweetened with sugar or honey. Manju is either solid rolled dough with mixed-in flavor (reminds me of squishy marshmallows) or filled with something sweet, like ice cream, bean paste, chocolate, gelatin, nut butter, etc. To me, filled mochi are seem like a cross between jelly-filled gummy candy and fruit-filled marzipan. Make sure you keep your soft mochi tightly wrapped and refrigerated if you aren’t going to eat them right away, otherwise they will harden as the dough dries.


Kissako makes two different kinds of kushi dango (skewered dumpling clutster), which consist of three or four round steamed mochi manju threaded onto a bamboo skewer, like a kebab. There are lots of different kinds of dango in Japanese cuisine. Mitarashi kushi dango is made with four small solid white mochi manju covered with mitarashi sauce, which is a simple gluten-free soy sauce drizzle with mirin. Botchan (or bocchan) kushi dango is made with three medium dark red bean paste balls that are covered in sugar-sweetened pink, white or yellow, and green  glutenous rice doughs that are mixed respectively with sweet red bean paste, nothing (for white) or egg yolk, and green tea or mugwort powder (these powdered yield different shades of green) for color (if you make your own at home, you can adjust the amounts of add-ins to adjust the color intensities) and usually dusted with starch or flour. The kushi dango that I ordered were absolutely perfect. I was extremely impressed. Although Kissako makes all of their mochi in San Jose (from what I remember), the dumplings were soft and moist with stretchy dough and very smooth bean paste filling. I liked the dango so much, I couldn’t help buying a second one to enjoy later in the night.


For those of you who are gluten-free, watch out! Not all manju are gluten-free; only mochi manju is made with rice. There are several recipes that look like mochi that actually contain wheat. These are also steamed or baked dessert dumplings filled with sweet pastes or creams.The only way I can tell the difference is by looking at them. Mochi is generally dusted and has a semi-transparent texture if the dough is steamed, whereas baked mochi is very shiny on top. Wheat-based manju has a flatter or more matte texture when you look at it. (I’m not sure if this hold true all of the time, but from what I have seen, wheat dough manipulated into decoratively shaped manju seem hold their intended structure better. The sames might instead denote the artisan’s skill level or the use of certain kitchen tools…, but I’m not sure. Does anyone know?) If the manju is coated in sauce or drizzled with something sugary, there’s really no way to tell what you’re looking at. In this case, do not be afraid to just ask the sales clerk directly. There are lots and lots of mochi, manju, and other wagashi confections out there. Personally I am unacquainted with most of them, except for a scant few that I only recognize by sight, not by name.


Kaissako Tea makes their teriyaki chicken, salmon, picked plum, seaweed, and beef onigiri (rice balls with fillings) in fresh at their booth all day long, which is a relief, since all of their flavors are so popular. If they run out of a certain kind, just ask them to make more for you. My brother got a teriyaki chicken rice ball to snack on, and I got a seaweed one. Both flavors tasted really good (he let me try a bite) and satisfying. They were all pretty big, which was a surprise, as they were really cheaply priced at only $1.75. They way the Kissako Tea folks made them was different to me, since they used a mold to sandwich a layer of seasoned vegetables or meat between two layers of steamed rice (and to save time). I’m used to making them by shaping a bowl-shaped pocket out of rice with my hands, filling the pocket with stuff and packing more rice on top and shaping the onigiri into pyramids or spheres. I have also seen onigiri with the seasoned fillings just mixed in with the rice that is then shaped. Either way, after shaping them, the slightly sticky rice balls are wrapped in small nori seaweed sheets, like a taco, so that they are easier to eat without getting your hands all sticky. Kissako’s onigiri, as well as all of their other treats, would pair very well with many of their green tea selections. I wish we had had time to sit, chat and munch on our treats while sipping hot tea, but it was getting rather late. Instead, we chatted and snacked on our way back to the car, so that we could arrive at my house at a reasonable hour.

*The previous article I read about the Prince Curry mixes was incorrect. The red and blue boxes are both gluten-free, containing sorghum instead, only varying in flavor.

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Visit to Japantown with My Brother, Part 1


After a couple of weeks visiting my folks, my brother and I had a perfect opportunity to hang out for few days without Mom and Dad (they went on vacation in Yosemite National Park near the end of my visit to celebrate Mom’s official retirement). My brother and I spoke about Japanese food quite a lot during my stay,  and we had even tried to track down some authentic ingredients for the beef and shrimp donabe and beef curry dishes we made, but the only Asian market was clear on the other side of town, which is kind of strange with a significant number of the Chinese, Japanese, Loatian and Vietnamese restaurants in town….

Anyway, we decided to make a stop at Japantown in San Francisco on the way back to my house instead, since it was actually more convenient, believe it or not. We had a great time, which is funny to say, since we basically went grocery shopping. We also did not get along when we were younger, I am feel very fortunate that he and I have become more mature. Not only can we tolerate each other, we actually want spend time together. What a relief!

Daiso is a big discount store in Japantown that sells most of their merchandise for $1.50 (online their items are sold only in bulk). They have all sorts of stuff, from dishes and figurines to fedoras and beauty products, including some items I thought were a bit odd, like disposable underwear; on the other hand, the store also had a ton of cute and useful things, too. I was totally surprised the store had so many sushi-making tools  and bento box lunch making tools (like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). I bought a table-side purse hook, bamboo crochet hook, LED flashlight, knee-high and toe socks, skinny metal chopsticks, calligraphy brushes, and fruit chew and herbal hard candies. It’s a great little department store with a wide variety of items that periodically changes by the season. If you are in Japantown, stop by and visit; you should really take the time to look through all of the aisles. Who knows what amazing deals and treasures you’ll find tucked away.

Ichiban Kan is also a discount department store, but sadly they have raised their prices dramatically since my last visit and are now more of a general store. Like Daiso, they have a wide assortment of items, which is impressive, since they are less than half the size. They do carry some nice, useful and cute items though. I bought my favorite three-tiered bunny bento box, blue ceramic sushi dishes and adorable large kitty throw pillow there. By brother found a big package of S & B medium-hot Japanese curry roux, the same kind we used in our beef curry dinner, but it was twice as big for the same price.

Sanko Cooking Supplies is a great store. When we went, most everything (at least in the front half) was on sale, plus another 10% off. The prices were rather amazing! I’ve been thinking of getting a sushi oko (the round wooden rice cooling tub for making sushi rice), but when I saw the the kit, I realized I don’t really need one or have the space for such a big thing that I’d probably barely use. It was nice to see so many donabe there in various sizes. They had quite a selection of fine quality stainless steel food preparation knives; I was looking for a ceramic chef’s knife or cleaver though. Ceramic blades are better for cutting fruit and vegetables, like this one, since they discourage oxidation, unlike metal knives and utensils. Their whole back room is absolutely lovely and filled with gorgeous tableware, tea cups and pots, furniture, clothing, figurines, and amazingly realistic resin-cast food sets (I think they are placed at ancestral shrines).

Kippu is a brand new wonderful restaurant with great prices, friendly service, delicious food, and an inviting family atmosphere. My brother and I received so many complimentary side dishes that I’m surprised we didn’t have any leftovers; to be fair, we had a rather late lunch while we were there, which means we were two very hungry people. The waiters gave us extra salad with a tasty dressing, colorful mild chili in-the-pod edamame  (I’ve never seen them served that way before), soothing jasmine green tea and comforting miso soup, and those free foods were in addition to the dishes we already requested! I ordered futomaki (a vegetarian sushi roll with sweet scrambled eggs, Japanese pickles and fresh vegetables) and a three-item bento box lunch of seaweed salad (I thought about ordering a two-item bento….), vegetable tempura and avocado maki, which came with a dressed green salad (so that was two of green salads in reality), white rice and miso soup. My brother ordered beef soba soup (so two soups for him and a dressed salad on the house). The diners at the table next to ours ordered the Flaming Dragon specialty sushi rolls, which contained tempura shrimp, crab, spicy tuna, salmon, yellow tail, tuna and tobiko (flying fish roe) “with fire”. It certainly was exciting! The sushi roll was a wrapped in foil, set on a plate over a highly combustible alcohol set alight. Everything we had tasted amazing! We were both very impressed and stuffed full of delicious foods. I’m surprised they didn’t have to roll us out the door! It’s a good thing we didn’t have any “wafer-thin mints.” 😉 I will definitely go back the next time I’m in Japantown; I highly recommend this restaurant!

Hang in there for more of our Japantown adventure! I’ll post the second half very soon. Enjoy!

Cordoza’s Deli Cafe and Catering

Cordoza’s Deli and Cafe is a great local family deli run by Bonnie Cordoza and her husband in downtown Petaluma near the theater district. They have amazing foods, like sandwiches and salads, for decent prices. The atmosphere is open and welcoming, and the staff is really friendly. AND they have foods I can eat! In fact, they just won Petalum’a Best Deli in the 2012 People’s Choice Awards through Petaluma 360! Congratulations, guys!

Cordoza’s carries Mama Baretta’s award-winning multi-seed loaves of bread for sandwich making upon request. The multi-seed bread is so tasty and wonderful with the deli’s Number 3 sandwich, which I get without mayo and cream cheese but with pesto added on. I usually get the mixed berry or green salad with a gluten-free dessert to accompany my sandwich, taking half of the entree home. They also sell bags of gluten-free crackers in their chip and cracker area of the deli. I also found out that their meats are sulphate and nitrate free!

Cordoza’s has a daily special, which includes sandwiches, wraps and other dishes. Every time I check out it out, the special always sounds wonderfully mouth watering. Sometimes Cordoza’s asks for suggestions from their Facebook followers. There’s also usually a couple kinds of soup available in the refrigerated case. If you arrive at the deli early enough, you can also get breakfast, from breakfast burritos to oatmeal with fruit. I haven’t had any of those dishes, but they look really tasty. It may not sound like anything special, but they often have flavored ice water, coffee and hot tea available all day long, too, which is important to me, since hot beverages aid in digestion. There are also at least two cases of cold beverages.

Her catered meals are so good. If whatever you want isn’t on their menu, just ask. They can accommodate for your needs. They’re rather flexible and will adjust for special dietary needs, which is fantastic, since I know I’m not the only one with allergy and digestive issues. Cordoza’s is catering all of the Petaluma-Hamilton Masonic Lodge’s monthly stated meeting dinners this year, and they also catered the officers’ installation lunch and my husband’s congratulatory dinner afterward for our family and friends at the deli.

My husband loves her meaty lasagna, and her vegetable pesto lasagna is a smash hit, too. She made me a special gluten-free penne pasta dish with a superb pesto sauce made with brown rice noodles on the spot when she found out that I couldn’t eat her gluten-free veggie lasagna due to my dairy issues. How great is she?! Bonnie also makes a killer flourless chocolate torte served with fresh fruit. I have eaten many of her catered meals, and I have never been disappointed. Her family also has a small vineyard and winery, and she offers bottles of her wines in her cafe and with her catering.

Cordoza’s is also now featuring Jill Habansky’s Sweet gluten-free baked goods. Jill has her own gluten-free space to work in within Bonnie’s kitchen in the back. How cool is that?! So far, I have tried the salted chocolate chip cookies and almond scone, fennel scone and vegan chocolate-frosted chocolate cupcake. Bonnie also has some of Jill’s lightly sea salt-sprinkled chocolate chip cookies, white chocolate chip cookies, carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing, cardamon crumb cake, rosemary cornbread, morning glory muffins and more. She does not make the same things every day, so it’s always a surprise to see which little delectable goodies are in the case. Jill supposedly makes great baguettes that have really nice flavor and great textures, nice and crunchy on the outside with a soft airy inside. Bonnie told me that Jill’s goodies were featured at the Petaluma Valley Rotary’s Edible Art Tasting in March. I can’t wait to taste her other baked goods.

Sinful Cheesecakes 3Recently I learned that Sinful Delights mini cheesecakes, made by Amber Merkel, are now being featured at Cordoza’s Deli. They are so cute! I love the bright and dark color contrasts and the way the layers are stacked. These little morsels look so tasty! (I was “good” and ate one of Jill’s deliciously amazing chocolate cupcakes instead. ;P ) The prices aren’t bad either, considering what they are and how they are made. I couldn’t resist! I bought one for my hubby, hoping that I could enjoy it vicariously. He’s rather picky about food, but he totally approved with a big grin on his face and a compliment. I’ll have to buy him another one the next time I go buy a sandwich. When I pied them in the case, I knew I had to buy one! Yesterday, they had three different kinds, New York with various fruits, chocolate, and caramel macchiato, but the choices seem to change often. Amber also makes full-sized and mini cheesecakes for whole sale orders and catered events, too. The pictures of her treats are gorgeous! Oh, how they really make me wish I could eat dairy foods easily!

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Please pardon the empty looking deli shots, I snuck in at the tail end of the day; I took these pictures as I was waiting for my order to be filled, I think. There are usually many more people inside eating, ordering and snacking earlier on in the day. If you want something from the gluten-free Sweet case, make sure you get there at least 30 minutes before the deli closes, otherwise you may find the case empty. Trust me. I already made that mistake. Oh well. There’s always next time.

San Francisco Christmas Trip & Japantown’s Osakaya

Oh my goodness! This entry is long overdue. I lost is last year and randomly found it in the drafts folder. I wiped off the virtual dust and made it shiny for your reading pleasure. Sorry I waited so long! I hope you don’t mind the pretty Christmas trees in June.

Anise and I went on a fantastic and fun trip last December! We went to San Francisco on a Thursday with a rather extensive itinerary in mind, which includes the Ferry Building farmers and arts and crafts markets, Chinatown, Williams-Sonoma, Union Square and Japantown. Well, such an excursion as this requires a ton of time when you plan on merely parking in one spot and walking everywhere. That’s a lot of walking! I anticipated the distance but not the amount of time we spent in some of the locations, especially when we started doing numerous laps. I knew all those places would have been great to visit, but it was not quite realistic. We didn’t make it to Chinatown, but that’s okay. We knew we’d have to make a special trip to just visit Chinatown later on anyway. We still want to go back to the farmers market again, of course, and take a separate day trip to Japantown and the Japanese Tea Garden.

First, we parked over on Broadway and walked to the Ferry Building farmers market. I had never visited it before, so I was in for a big surprise. There were so many cute, interesting and tasty things there. I even ate cheese (after taking my pills) at the Cowgirl Creamery. The flavored chevre and creme fraiche were amazing and so worth it! I don’t remember which one was which, but one had cranberries mixed in, the other chives.

We ate lunch at Mijita, Cocina Mexicana. It was packed with happy people. I had the jicama salad and two cheese-less vegetarian tacos, which were very satisfyingly fabulous. I don’t remember what Anise got, but I know she liked it. Anise, do you remember what you had? Anyway, I’m so glad we had just gone to the Mariposa Baking Company and bought a 4-pack of chocolate Penguino cupcakes. They were fabulous and a perfect dessert.

We continued to walk around the Ferry Building and found the Scharffen Berger store, which has such a huge variety of chocolate to choose from. They have bars, squares, nibs and all sorts of chocolate goodies. I bought a 100% cacoa bar and an amazing chocolate marzipan lip balm made by Ganache for Lips with Scharffen Berger cacoa. I couldn’t help myself. So good! I even went to Oliver’s Market and bought another 100% bar. They are really good for baking, too, not just for eating. Sometimes I use dark chocolate medicinally to help prevent and get ride of headaches. I much prefer chocolate to ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen.

The Arts and Crafts Market, which is by the Embarcadero Center and across the street from the ferry building, was also really neat. There were lots of talented artisans and craftsmen, from painters to leather workers. There were many cool things I wanted to buy but wanted also to save money for possible purchases in Japantown. At that point we had not yet made it to Williams-Sonoma, and I had two things in mind to buy there and was hoping they would have at least one of them in stock at the store.

On the way to Macy’s and Neiman Marcus to see the festive decorations, we made sure to stop by Williams-Sonoma. I had meant to visit the store for a while. There are three locations in San Francisco, and we just happened to go to the largest one. I was looking for a few things and was on a cookie cutter kick for the holidays. Ever since I saw Chelsea’s blog entry over on Lovely Indeed regarding thank-you note cookies, I knew I wanted them. I had also been eying the cute pocket pie molds since I found them while doing wedding research between autumn 2009 and autumn 2010.


Macy’s
was fantastic with all of it’s wreaths in the windows, which you could see from across Union Square. Chelsea over at Sac Trippers took some great pictures. Every year there’s an ice skating rink and an outdoor decorated tree covered in red and gold ornaments (about as big as my head) and lots and lots of bright white lights in Union Square. It was hard to photograph due to all of the huge overhead lights, but there was also a huge 25-foot tall Bill Graham mahogany menorah, originally built in 1975 with funding from the famous concert promoter for whom it’s named.

I insisted that we visit Neiman Marcus to see the famously gargantuan tree inside their main entry way. It’s a good thing for the store workers that the tree is fake, since there is no way they can possibly fit the huge thing through their front doors. It’s way too big, about four stories tall. We walked all the way to the Rotunda Restaurant and took pictures of the tree. It was amazing! We were almost at eye level of the huge star-shaped tree topper. It was also nice to walk around the store and see all of the festive store decorations and beautiful ornaments displayed on the smaller trees on each floor.

It was getting late and was already dark outside. We were starting to get hungry, and we had initially planned on having sushi at the Japantown Mall. I also still wanted to buy the Donabe for Mom and didn’t know if I would have another chance to come to San Francisco to pick one out before our family’s X-mas celebration, so we soldiered on. We walked up and down a few steep hills, a total of at least 5 miles, since we did some accidental loops.

When we got to Japantown, most of the business were closed, except for some of the markets and restaurants within the mall. We chose Osakaya for dinner, since we liked the look of their menu best. I also had eaten there before and knew the delicious food was decently priced. Here’s a glimpse at their dishes but not the full menu, since the sushi menu is separate. Our food was so tasty! I was so impressed with the food. (In case you’re wondering, I did not order all of this food for myself; it was for both of us. They just served everything family style.) ^_^

I was completely tickled with the fact that we only ordered appetizers for dinner. I thought it was hilarious for some reason, maybe because I was so hungry and tired. I think this was the first time I had ever seen onigiri on a menu, so of course I had to get it. As you can see there was a set of three, pickled plum, salmon and seaweed. I devoured them all. Oh my goodness! Then there was the sushi to eat. We ordered salmon maki, futomaki, a dragon roll, and some other roll, too, which I don’t remember the name to. I left the wasabi (or as I like to call it, green Play-Doh of death) and the pickled ginger to Anise; I am not a fan of those garnishes. We also had sunomono (cucumber salad) and miso soup, which we burned our mouths on. It’s a good thing we were starving. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, so we had plenty of leftovers! I was hungry again about an hour and an half after we left the restaurant, since all of the foods were so easily digested by my stomach (or maybe because my stomach enjoys sushi as much as I do. 😛 ).

I am so glad we went to all of those wonderful places. It was a very full day. When is your favorite time of year to visit SF? It’s hard to tell for me. The Macy’s hall of flowers show is pretty awesome, but the winter holiday decorations were so fantastic. Where do you like to go for sushi in San Francisco? What are your favorites to order? What events have you attended in Japantown? I really want to go to one of the Taiko performances (the dojo is performing at the Japan Day Festival on June 23) and the annual Cherry Blossom Festival (in mid April). I’m pretty sure that Japantown has its own series of Lunar New Year events, too, which would be neat to attend.

Bliss Bakery

Over the last few months, I’ve stopped by the Bliss Bakery booth almost every Saturday at the Santa Rosa farmers market to buy tasty treats (sometimes as a late not-so-healthy breakfast). If you want to buy their baked goods, make sure you go early; Bliss’s items are really popular and often sell out rather quickly. From my experiences, if you get to there around 11:00am or 12:00pm, you may find your choices a little slim. It really doesn’t matter what you buy though, since everything is very very good, vegan and gluten-free.

I have great news! Bliss Bakery now has a store front! Cori, one of the talented bakers, says the bakery is open Monday through Friday from 1:00pm to 6:00pm. They bake a variety of items daily. I went by on Thursday and bought freshly-made caramel blondies and a bunch of day-old almond maple bars, pecan “butter” cookies, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate hazelnut cookies, and the day-old items are only a dollar! The caramel blondies are much different than their chocolate chip blondies; instead of being in the regular muffin shape, they are baked in a pan like square-cut brownies. The blondies were nice and ooey-gooey after I warmed them up in the microwave for a bit. Cori said these blondies were actually a kind of experiment, but I think they turned out pretty well.

Everything looked lovely in the little pink box. It only cost $15 for the whole thing! I cleaned them out of all of the day-old cookies and bars. (We are having a painting party on Saturday, and I only had glutenous cookies in the house.) I took a picture but not until after Christopher ate two of the chocolate chip cookies and after I ate both of the blondies. Bliss’s Flax bread is nice and savory and perfect with either sesame (tahini) or almond butter spread on top. Their oatmeal raisin cookies are also scrumptious. Amazing!

When I first bought their cookies and bars (either last summer or the summer before that), I was only really impressed with the maple bars. I honestly wasn’t really impressed with their other items and only found them okay, nothing I would recommend. (At that time, The Cosmic Cookie Jar was still in Santa Rosa and had a booth at the Santa Rosa farmers market, but they don’t anymore. I really miss their mouth-watering cookies.) Since then, gluten-free recipes all over have advanced and improved, it seems, and (maybe as a result of that or merely trial and error) Bliss’s baked goods’ visual appeal, textures and flavors have improved astonishingly! Now everything tastes delicious and has great “mouth feel” and texture, definitely goodies I recommend.

I can’t wait to buy more from Bliss on Saturday. If they have another big blueberry coffee cake this week, I may have to just buy it, that is if lamb farmer from two weeks ago has lamb sausage, goat or rabbit. Some of the farmers aren’t at the market every week and are only there once or twice a month. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of all of the meat selling farm booths, since they seem to swap out all of the time. More than a few of the farmers are only at the market seasonally. Well, we’ll see. If the lamb farmer is there and I can get the sausage or other meats, I’ll make a post about it.  ^_^

San Francisco Farmers Market at the Ferry Building

Earlier this month while Anise Ferry Building Farmers Marketand I went to  the San Francisco for the Chinese New
Year celebration
, we also decided to peruse the Saturday Ferry Building Farmers Market before heading over to the street fair. Below are some of the farm merchant booths that we visited. There are also market days on Thursdays (which we attended last time) and Tuesdays. Every time we we go, we have a ton of fun smelling and tasting food and looking at all of the beautiful flowers. There are all sorts of neat and beautifully made crafts and goods. It’s always a ton of fun to visit this market.

Mariposa Baking Company They carry many gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free and vegan delectable baked goodies, and I can never resist buying something from them to snack on. Please read my blog entry on them for more information. See my previous entry.

Sweets Collection was amazing. All of their edible fruit gels were not only gorgeous but super tasty. I will post more information later in a separate entry. My previous entry is here.

Scream Sorbet Delicious gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free sorbet in 6 or 8 very intriguing and interesting gourmet flavors that routinely get changed out. Very good! I usually try them all, except for the coffee flavors. Last time I bought two huge scoops!

Here I am enjoying Scream Sorbet at the SF Ferry Building farmers market.

Anise enjoying Scream Sorbet at the SF Ferry Building farmers market.

Farmhouse Culture They make sauerkraut of all kinds. Our favorite, by far, is the dill pickle kraut. It’s delicious and mostly tastes like pickles. It’s great by itself but especially on sandwiches. You can also buy shots of sauerkraut juice, which is kind of like taking a shot of wheat grass juice. It was actually pretty tasty. When you buy the sauerkraut, you can get it in a really nice ceramic jar with a rubber gasket-type cap top. That way when you go back to buy more, you can just get a refill. Unfortunately this last time we not only forgot to bring our jar but also forgot to buy more sauerkraut. There were so many neat booths filled with marvelous looking distractions.

Flying Disc Ranch grows a wide variety of dates sorted according to their degree of sweetness. Medjhool dates are the ones that you most commonly find in grocery stores and are one of the sweetest kinds, a bit too sweet to me, whereas I sometimes have found deglets noor dates in organic markets, a much less sweet but dry kind. I use both of these in making recipes from raw food books but do not really eat them otherwise except on rare occasion. I wanted to try something different, so I got three about a pound of dates recently, half a pound of unpollinated derrie (not actually formed into a date) and half a pound of zahidi. These are two of the least sweet varieties with excellent flavors. I found out that dates have to be hand-pollinated by humans (and have been for centuries), since pollinator insects won’t go near them. Flying Disc also had date coconut rolls, date nut bars and date paste, but I resisted the urge to buy any with the rationalization that I can make my own for probably cheaper. Wow! “Dates are a cross between a grain and a fruit. Dates contain one of the highest nutritional food value of any food! Protein and minerals abound.” “Dates are a cross between a grain and a fruit. Dates contain one of the highest nutritional food value of any food! Protein and minerals abound.”

Blue Bottle Coffee Company Anise bought some of their coffee for herself and her mom. (I’ll leave this for her to review, since I am not a coffee drinker.) I will tell you though that they have some really neat coffee pots by Chemex and amazing looking coffee siphons by Hario (in Bonmac boxes). They look like really cool chemistry or mad-science equipment.

After the farmers market, we went across the street to the Arts and Crafts Market at Justin Herman Plaza next to the Embarcadero Center. There are so many really talented artists and craftsmen there. There were more than a few items that we liked. They have all sorts of great items there, like cute hair clips, stuffed animals, scarves, sweaters, jewelry, trivets, sculptures, nick-nacks, decor, paintings, hats, gloves, etc. I never know what treasures we’ll find. Image Source

Mariposa Baking Company

Whenever I go to the San Francisco Ferry Building farmers market (granted I’ve only been a couple times), I cannot help stopping by the Mariposa Baking Company and buying something tasty. All of Mariposa’s goodies are gluten, dairy and/or egg free, but they taste like they are “normal” and full of allergens. You know, the glutenous, full-fat, refined-sugar kind. The textures are great, too, not flat, super dense or too sticky. The “mouth Feel” is of “normal” airy fluffy baked goods, too. Did I mention that all of their items that I have had so far are very impressive and scrumptious! Mariposa  makes all sorts of things, from cupcakes and cookies to bread and pizza crusts. I just glanced at their website and discovered they now carry pecan pie, too!

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On Tuesday,I went to Oliver’s Market in Cotati to pick up some things I needed on the way home from work.  Not only did they have bunches of asparagus for $1.69 per pound, which I bought for dinner, but also Mariposa goodies in the gluten-free breads section with a whole bunch of other locally made cookies, brownies, muffins and breads. I’m so excited! I somehow resisted the urge to get any coconut lemon bars or “cream”-filled Penguinos. Next time I may not be so lucky.