Posts from the ‘Eating’ Category

National Heirloom Exposition, Day 2

As I stated before, there were tons of exhibits to see at the exposition. It was great to see so many people, especially the school kids, come in to the expo and have such a great time. I found out some neat tidbits! People from all over the USA can participate in the festival displays by submitting their heirloom produce. In addition, all of the proceeds are donated to local school garden and food education programs.

It was pretty interesting to work at the sampling station, especially since I am not well acquainted with all of the watermelon varieties. I didn’t know know which colors to expect, so it was always a lovely surprise to behold the beauty hidden within the rinds whenever I sliced into the fruit. It was great to hear people’s responses to the melon colors, sweetness and flavors. They were as surprised as I was, many disbelieving at first that we were only serving watermelon. Interestingly, some of the tasters compared trying the melons to wine tasting, as the flavors varied in subtleties, sweetness; it helped greatly to start with the mellower flavors and work your way up.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to see any of the 100 plus lectures, but I heard that many people were interested in hearing Vanda Shiva, one of the keynote speakers, an anti-GMO and environmental activist and renowned author. The Wednesday lectures I wanted to hear were “Fermentation” with Luke Regalbuto & Maggie Levinger of Wild West Ferments and “Seaweeds for Food and Health” by Heidi Herrmann of Strong Arm Farm.  Thursday’s “Herbal Kitchen” by Kami McBride from Living Awareness Institute also sounds interesting. There was a “Livestock Barn” lecture series, with topics such as “Rabbit: Another White Meat” and “How to Cut Up a Chicken”.

As I explored the expo, I got to see all sorts of fruit and vegetable displays, including competitions for giant tomatoes and pumpkins. Sadly, I found the pumpkin contest a little disappointing with generally lower weight results; the contest is nation wide The Great Pumpkin Commonwealth  with results of up to 1480 pounds this year. Chef Ray L. Duey, the culinary artist, carved fruits and vegetables into intricate and awe-inspiring displays. There was also flower show, and I got several pictures of Aztec Dahlias‘ gorgeous specimens. Betty Finch’s incredibly detailed gourd sculptures were on display in the art exhibit; certain pieces of the sculptures were molded into shape as they grew. The only large mammals this year were llamas and hogs, but there were also sheep, goats, cute kunekune pigs and adorable bunnies!

On to the food! So in addition to all of this excitement, I visited many, many food vendors and tried my share of tasty samples. Not only were Mama Baretta and Lydia’s Organics there with gluten-free delicious goodies but there were several other companies with scrumptious bites, too. I finally tried Bloomfield Bees Honey’s liquid gold and particularly enjoyed their blackberry and orange-chocolate honeys. Byerbri and Good Faith Farms had really great olive oils with smooth and delicate flavors. Crofter’s Organic’s (the South American Super Fruit Spread was my favorite) and Lisa’s Luscious Kitchen‘s (loved every spoonful) jams and chutney’s were so delectable. The Hue De Laroque Family Farm’s and Sonomic’s vinegars were very nice, and I can just imagine using them in salads, reduction sauces and marinades. WholeVine Cookies was very impressive for it’s agricultural sustainability, charity and rich flavors; as a one of the sister companies of Jackson Family Wines (parent company for Kendall Jackson Wines), it reuses the seeds and skins left over from crushing the grapes, drying and grinding them into flours to make soft moist gluten-free cookies, like the oatmeal raisin and the peanut butter ones I tried. I was astounded by the texture and complexity of the flavors; they tasted and felt like “normal” homemade cookies but without the commonly present icky wheat aftertaste. WholeVine also had their cooking oils, seed flours and skin flours (yes, they differ in flavor) for purchase in eight grape varieties. RW Garcia demoed their “MixtBag” of yellow and blue corn chips, “English Cheddar Dippers” and “Curry Mango Dippers” (my absolute favorite), which all had delightful flavor and crunch. Real McCoy’s also gave out gluten-free and yummy samples of “Sweet & Spicy Rice Chips,” “Baked Vermont White Cheddar Rice Puffs” and “Baked Jalapeno Cheddar Rice Puffs.” My absolute favorite snacks were Saffron Road‘s crunchy roasted chickpeas in “Bombay Spice” and “Falafel” flavors. Andy’s Farm Culinary Alchemy had some of their “Phyto-Liscious Foods” out, including Carob “Chi Force Energy Bars,” “Spicy East Indian Popcorn Seasoning,” pear and peach spiced chutneys and Andy’s 60 Ingredient 4 Seasons Super Sour Kraut, which were all very tasty (especially the bars and chutneys). Amy’s Kitchen was there with samples again, this time with tomato bisque, red curry with vegetables and rice and minestrone vegetable soup. Now they make gluten-free brownies! I’m really looking forward to trying those.

Please view the gallery below for more pictures of colorful fruits and vegetables and cute animals. Enjoy!

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National Heirloom Exposition, Day 1

Oh food blog, how I have missed you so! I can’t believe it’s been about a year since my last post. Much has happened in that time. My husband, friends, family and I have worked very hard to make our house more homey. There are always more and more projects to work on. Currently, we are in the midst of tackling the backyard, installing drainage, watering and electrical lines, planter boxes and a retaining wall, which all includes moving a lot of dirt around. What a workout! I am so grateful that we have so many generous people to help out. Next year, we plan on install a patio deck, but until then I hope to get some more plants in the ground. I’ve been itching to start some semblance of a garden, but we need to fill in more dirt first. I’m also trying to figure out which type of fruit tree to plant along the back fence and found some recent inspiration after visiting nurseries with some of my girl friends last weekend. So many plans are in the works. I can’t wait!

In the meantime, I am volunteering for a second year in a row at the National Heirloom Exposition, which is organized by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a great Missourian company that features only non-GMO seeds in numerous varieties of flowers, fruits and vegetables but also gardening workshops. I cannot recommend this expo enough. Oh my goodness, I am having so much fun! It absolutely amazes me that such a national event is held here in Sonoma County, let alone that it was featured on Martha Stewart’s television show.

From the looks of it, 2011 was the first of many more years to come for the expo, especially as people travel from all over to attend, even from other countries. Like last year, I made a point to not only attend but also volunteer, and this year I’m scheduled to work two of the three days (about 12 hours), which means I get free admission, parking and hot lunches on both days and leftover produce at the close of the fair. How cool is that?! I saw and learned so much last year but only experienced a small portion of all of the events. The expo provides great opportunities to meet up with like-minded people and see folks from some of my favorite local farms and gourmet restaurants. This year I hope to try out some new foods.

It is absolutely amazing to see the astounding abundance of varieties of awesome organically grown heirloom fruits, vegetables and flowers. There were cultivars from all over the world that were brought in from all across the country, let alone from all over California, that I didn’t even know existed. Who knew there are red eggplants, prickly cucumbers and olive-shaped squash? Well, I do now. There are many many kinds of watermelon, for instance, with skins in various shades of green, golden, yellow and white that were solid colored, striped, splotched or spotted but had inner flesh in solid colors of pink, red, white, yellow, orange or bi-color combinations. Even the seeds varied in color and pattern. here must have been hundreds of watermelons alone, no to mention eggplants, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, pumpkins, gourds, squash, cucumbers, poultry and other exciting heirlooms. I know there are even more heirloom fruits and vegetables available, which makes me wish that there was an expo for every harvest season, since we only get to see produce that’s available at this time of year. I’d love to see different types of berries and stone fruits, but their peak seasons are over during this time of year. It would also be fantastic to see more species of heirloom flowers, too.

There is so much going on, it’s impossible to see everything. The California Rare Fruit Growers also sponsor an exhibit with tastings in the main hall (I keep forgetting to preregister), which is interesting, since some of the inner flesh colors and patters are so different from normal store-bought fruit. There are tons of free samples to try from several other farmers and vendors all over the expo, too, but there’s also a little farmers market for people to actually buy heirloom produce and seeds to take home. Some farmers also enter their finest produce in competitions based on appearance, flavor, size and weight. The pumpkin size contest is incredible with some of the entries weighing in at over 1000 pounds. They’re humongous! Not only are there displays of tables after tables of vegetables and fruits but a whole section of the fairgrounds is dedicated to heirloom animals. I hope they have more mammals this year, like rabbits. Wednesday is kids’ day with elementary classes coming from all over Sonoma County to learn sustainable gardening and farming; in addition, many of the schools are represented in a special exhibit by their gardening projects, displaying photos, schematics and diagrams.

During all three days, there are several educational agriculture lectures given by speakers from near and far. There are topics concerning sustainable agriculture, growing certain species of fruit, interactions of edible plants and weeds, hydration systems, soil, etc.  In addition, I think there are two screens showing back-to-back food-related documentary films all day, likewise on a variety of subjects. I hope I can fit some interesting lectures and movies into my schedule this year, as last year I wanted to hear the blueberry and agroecology lectures but was working at those times. There is also a small art exhibit in the main hall with agriculture-themed paintings, sculptures, embroidery, pressed flowers, and the like. The expo is like visiting a gourmet food fest, health food fair, sustainable gardening and farming fair, art and garden show, county fair, workshop series, movie marathon, agricultural fair, interactive science museum, farmers market and concert series all in one!

The fair always seems better than I anticipate, and it gets larger and gains greater attendance by visitors and vendors each year. I imagine it would probably attract an even more people if it wasn’t held in the middle of the week.  Last year, I went a little photo crazy; I must have taken pictures of most everything, which made me feel a bit like a tourist. I know this year I’m going to take pictures, too, but hopefully even better ones. I also hope I’m not doubling up on subjects that I took pictures of already. There’s so much to see. There are a bunch of pictures in the gallery below from last year, but these aren’t even a third of the collection so far. I do hope to post more after my second day. I’m having such a great time, I know I want to volunteer again next year.

Delicious Sushi in Petaluma


I wanted to visit Andy’s Kitchen & Sushi Kitchen ever since I discovered it in spring before our big move, and my mom’s recent visit was the perfect opportunity. Although the restaurant’s curb appeal left much to be desired, the interior was cool and modern. The seasonal and new item signs are handmade and may look a bit… off, but the skillfully-made, gorgeously-plated foods made up for them. The variety was quite impressive and the house specialties incredibly intriguing, but we could only realistically eat so much without over-stuffing ourselves. We took a bunch of leftovers back to the house with us. I definitely have to go back to Andy’s and order some new dishes to try. Soon! There were so many tasty items to choose from! Considering that Andy’s has such an extensive menu, I can take my time and concentrate on savoring each of the delightful mixture of colors, textures and flavors.


We started out with jasmine green tea, edamame, and miso soup, which provided a great start to the meal of appetizers. ;P Next time I want to try the edamame with garlic sauce and the seafood teapot soup, which I hope is a type of dobin mushi, a particular favorite of mine. The edamame were warm and lightly salted. Although I forgot to take pictures of the miso soup, Mom’s was indeed beautiful the the crab meat artistically displayed in the middle. My miso soup with tofu was hot and comforting with great umami (satisfyingly savory flavor). I have found a new love of poki or poke, which is basically a sea vegetable and raw fish salad. (Thank you Anise for introducing this type of dish to me! I can’t wait to try some dishes from your poki  recipe book.) I also really enjoy seaweed salads, so I ordered the poki salad made with ahi tuna. The fish and seaweed were perfect, and the white and black sesame seeds and orange and red tobiko mixed into the salad were more than just garnishes, adding delicious flavor and mesmerizing bright colors and wonderful flavors. It was so delicious, I almost forgot to take a picture. I thought about ordering a meat and vegetable combination plate of tempura, but I don’t think we would have had enough room in our quickly filling tummies to eat it.

There were so many great looking sushi rolls on the menu, it was difficult to narrow down our order to merely two. Somehow we managed before reading the menu descriptions made us much hungrier. We finally decided upon the caterpillar and Godzilla rolls. The caterpillar included unagi, cucumber and avocado with garnishes of black sesame seeds and green tobiko on top. I really like tobiko for its mild fishy flavor and crunchiness and are kind of like salmon roe, which I don’t like, since the salmon eggs have a stronger taste and remind me of fishy bath beads due to their size. The caterpillar roll was also dressed with nitsume, as cooked eel dishes usually are. I love this sauce and wish that it was featured in more dishes and not merely a cooked eel accompaniment. I think I’ll make some with the recipe that I found (click in the nitsume link above) but with less sugar. I also want to find out how different sweeteners, like agave, turbinado or sucanat affect the sauce flavor, so that I can make a sauce with a lower glycemic index value.

I had never seen a Godzilla roll before, but it looked amazingly delectable on the menu. Ours was filled with tempura shrimp, crab, romaine lettuce, cucumber and scallions and was topped with avocado and smoked salmon. This roll was also garnished with sesame seeds and drizzled with sauce of some sort. I suppose I will have to just order it again, in order to remember what kind it was…. Darn. 😉 Regardless of the sauce, the Godzilla roll was downright tasty, and I will order it again. In addition to my recently acquired taste for wasabi, I’ve also found that I can suddenly eat pickled ginger, too. It use to be way too spicy for my palate and stomach and cause me heartburn, but I tried the ginger with the sushi and found it exceedingly palatable. Surprise!

Look at these! Don’t they look drool-worthy?! Yum! In addition to the vast variety of items normally on the menu, there are also many seasonal dishes that frequently get swapped out, as well. I look forward to trying some of those, too. Which sushi restaurants do you prefer and why? Which of their specialty rolls do you like the most?

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.

Chinese New Year

Anise and I went to the San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival in Chinatown for the year of the water dragon (sponsored by Southwest Airlines), which went from January 14 to February 19. Unfortunately, we missed most of the street fair performances but had some amazing food, and the the parade was fantastic. My thought is also that we can always see the street performances next year now that we know more about the event and where everything is.

First, we went to the Great Eastern Restaurant for a lunch of delicious dim sum. Before you ask, yes, I took my allergy pills first. Further details will have to wait for another blog post. Thankfully after lunch we still had time to visit the farmers market at the Ferry Building Marketplace. We walked back to Chinatown and went to the wrong section but found some really neat shops. I even got two pairs of neat shiny metal chopsticks; yea for being dishwasher-safe! I also found a new love for coconut juice with pulp. It’s scrumptious and full of nutrients and electrolytes.

After walking around for a while, we found ourselves hungry again but didn’t want to sit down to eat at a restaurant. We wanted something we could eat on the go, something to snack on, so we went on a search for more dim sum! That way we’d have more time to find the perfect spot at the courtyard/park by the Chinese Cultural Center on Kearny Street, or at least that was the goal. We stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall place, called Grant Palace Restaurant, on Washington Street. They had huge eye-catching menus plastered to the windows with quite an impressive selection of dim sum. We got huge pot stickers that were two to three times the size of regular ones, almost the size of my fist! chinatown gateThe little BBQ pork steamed buns were tasty and cute. It was perfect.

We got back to the park with lots of time to spare, but apparently that was the place to see the parade if you didn’t want to pay for a $30 seat on cold aluminum bleachers, or so everyone and their children thought. The spot kind of made me feel claustrophobic, we couldn’t see very well (remember I’m short) and standing in place on concrete even in good shoes was rather foot-pain inducing, therefore we decided to take a walk up the parade route. I’m glad we did. We got to see and experience so much more. The walk was good, less pain inducing and helped us work off all of the dim sum we ate that day. (So much dim sum!) Some of the time we actually got really close to the floats and parade SF Chinatowngroups. It was great to see all of the costumes, displays, martial arts katas, dance routines, school bands, community groups and adorable children. Those kids did such a great job and were real troupers for performing non-stop for three hours. Amazing!

We will definitely have to go back to explore more of the trade and import shops. 😉 I know there was a ton of stuff we missed as we tried to wade through the crowds of people and navigate the unfamiliar streets. There are so many more Chinese restaurants to try out! We want to visit the fortune cookie factory; that line wrapped around into the alleyway. I also want get more pictures of the architecture.

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

Eating Slowly: A List of Learning and Tips

As you probably read, I’m working on eating more slowly.  I want to chew, taste, and enjoy my food.  In the process I’ll be eating less food since I can be listening to the signals my body has for being “full” or even “not hungry” and I won’t feel as strong of a need to eat more simply because something is delicious.  I will have already gotten twice as much deliciousness out of it the first time.

In doing this I have learned a few things:

1.  I don’t like oatmeal enough to chew, chew, chew and taste it for that long.

2.  I can’t eat food as lava hot as I used to.  It is too hot if its in my mouth for that long.

3.  I can get bored of eating when I really pay attention.  Funny, since a lot of people eat when they are bored.

4.  Eating with a knife and fork makes it MUCH easier to eat slowly.  A burrito in my hands is gone faster.

5.  I try to always ask myself, “Can I cut this bite in half?”  The answer is usually, “Yes”.

 

I have lost a couple of pounds since starting this reformation of a lifelong habit.  Even if I don’t lose any weight and I eat the same amount of food I used to, eating it more slowly, more chewed, and over longer periods of time is much better for me and my digestion.  I can really revel in my In’N’Out double double with this new approach.  And man, do I LOVE In’N’Out Burger.