point reyes

{who’s up for some shots of wheatgrass?}

It was just me, my dad, and miles of rolling, Californian hills. After passing herds of cows (quite exciting for a city kid like me) and cutting through deep valleys, we finally reached Point Reyes Station. Despite its location in the heart of rural California, there is a palpable progressive attitude here — from a compost station with the slogan “don’t take anyone else’s crap,” to wheatgrass available at almost every local eatery. It was the perfect way to escape the bustle of San Francisco for an afternoon and indulge in some vegan oatmeal raisin cookies.

I wanted to capture the essence of this new sort of “American Dream.” It’s alluring.

With love,
Erica

{a city girl like me gets quite excited by things like this}
{I think being a shutterbug is hereditary}
{Toby’s Feed Barn has been selling organic goodies since 1942}

{yee haw}
{we had lunch at the pine cone diner}

grilled cheese and salty seas

It was a foggy day in Pacific Grove, and the air smelled clean, fresh, and salty.

Dad and I rented bikes for the day and peddled along the coast. I led the way for a little while, riding precariously along the rocky edge of the California coast. I loved the way the sea spray whipped my face as I coasted down hills — and how the bright scent of the ocean still clings to my hair even long after our ride is over.

We popped our kickstands down near Point Pinos Lighthouse — which looked as if it came straight out of a movie with a thick fog looming around the periphery.  We parked our bikes and walked to Point Pinos Grill — trying not to get pummeled by golf balls from the municipal golf course.  

There was a bunch of exciting things on the menu, like tempura fried squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese (which were delicious!). But I decided to order a grilled cheese with tomato soup.
Crisp, buttery, tangy sourdough bread. Gooey Fontina, Gruyere, and White Cheddar. A caramelized crust and deep, golden brown grill marks (everything tastes better with grill marks). Almost magical when dipped in a steamy bowl of sweet heirloom tomato soup. Each gooey, crunchy bite left me feeling cozy as can be. It was just the thing to warm up after our windy, coastal bike ride.

Days like today remind me to take the time to celebrate the simple things, like cloudy days, bike rides with dad, and grilled cheese. 

With love,
Erica

i want to awaken to first awakenings

My mom found a menu from First Awakenings nestled in one of the drawers here.
It had “great bkfst!” scrawled in crayon across the top — the breakfast lover in me was intrigued.

my first ever eggs benedict

After walking through a mostly deserted tin cannery-turned-outlet-mall, we reached a cheerful little sign hanging over a sunny courtyard. I felt like I had entered some kind of fairy tale oasis among the sea of fluorescent lights and bargain shoes.

I believe there is no requirement that brunch be overpriced or pretentious. The ambiance here is charming and down-to-earth. The waitstaff is cheerful — feeding both the hungry mouths of locals and visitors with a Californian smile. I kept hearing the staff call some of the local personalities by their first names. 
{my manhole-sized pancake}

They set down a kettle of coffee and milk on the table. Birds danced around the sunny courtyard, trying to snag a piece of pancake or two before the waitress cleared the tables. This is a breakfast lover’s paradise. I saw them running out of the kitchen carrying everything from chicken fried steak slathered in gravy to yogurt parfaits sprinkled in wheat germ.

{there’s nothing like Californian fruit}

The pancakes are legendary. I ordered the special of the day: peach granola coconut. A big, fluffy, pancake with succulent, caramelized peaches scattered around crunchy granola clusters with chewy, sweet coconut in every bite. I let it absorb the warm maple syrup and sweet churned butter for as long as I could restrain myself before digging in (2.4 seconds).

There is no where in the world I’d rather be in than sitting in a plastic lawn chair under a blue umbrella in a sunny corner of an outlet mall with a pancake the size of a manhole in front of me.

With love,
Erica

p.s. First Awakenings was featured on Rachel Ray’s $40 a Day!

First Awakenings on Urbanspoon

all done 🙂

nihonmachi

Yesterday as we were driving down Hwy. 1 to Monterey, we decided to stop in San Francisco for a few hours to check out the Nihonmachi Street Fair in Japantown.

I fell in love with Japantown earlier this week when we visited to poke around the shops and restaurants.

I spent a few hours filling my baskets with plates, pots, pans and silverware from Daiso (everything is $1.50!). I can’t wait to use all of my new props when I get home — I got a Madeline pan, milk frother, and banana slicer (because everyone needs a banana slicer). We couldn’t possibly carry it all in our suitcases, so we had to buy two big UPS boxes to ship all of the stuff home.

{bbq}

At the street fair, the whole block smelled like smokey charcoal, juicy BBQ, and sweet, salty kettle corn. There were tons of food trucks parked at the end of the block selling everything from Hawaiian BBQ to boba tea. I was glad that they were generous with samples (where else could I sample sour lychee candy and furikake corn on the cob in less than 5 minutes?!)

{wafu-style hot dog}

We had to sample one of the Japanese-style hot dogs from Wafu Hot dogs. Ours had onions, scallions, nori and furikake on it (and would definitely give ketchup and mustard a run for their money!).

{natural light streamed through the white lanterns during the power outage}

Shortly after we sat down for lunch at one of the restaurants inside of the complex, the power went out! We sat in the dark at a booth with only the light streaming through the skylights and the white paper lanterns. Although everyone was impatient and hungry (including myself), it was actually quite beautiful.

After lunch, I ventured over to a little taiyaki stand. In my opinion, no Japanese festival is complete without this popular festival food. Taiyaki are little cakes made using pancake batter cooked golden brown in a fish-shaped mold. They are traditionally filled with red bean paste, but this little stand also sold chocolate, taro, and chocolate-banana filled taiyaki. I was feeling traditional, and went with the red bean filling (but was quite intrigued by chocobanana).

{nom}

Do you have a favorite summer festival?

With love,
Erica

{sayonara for now}

I can resist anything but temptation [and Ca’ Momi Italian bignes]

 We all strapped in the car and set out from our little grey house in Bodega Bay to the luxurious valleys of Napa. We drove the historic Hwy. 1, driving past happy cows and through grapevine-filled valleys.

 When we finally reached Napa, the sun was setting, and we were all hungry. I had heard good things about Ca’Momi — famous for their authentic pizza and pastry. I checked out their menu online, and it says in big letters:


“NO CHANGES: Each of our dishes honors a traditional regional Italian
recipe. Please trust our food and appreciate it for what it is…authentic
Italian”

…these guys must know what they’re doing.

Sadly, after wandering the streets of Napa, sticking our nose down every street and alley, past every gourmet eatery except Ca’ Momi, our appetites got the best of us and we settled for a very good local eatery and munched on sandwiches, french fries, and a delicious onion dip. 

Disinheartened that we couldn’t find Ca’Momi — when the waitress came by with the dessert menu, I quickel declined—  still determined to savor some of the famous patisserie at Ca’Momi.  So we set out one last time to find the elusive Ca’Momi. 

After wandeirng the streets of Napa a bit more, we finally found ourselves over the bridge at the Oxbow Market. Ca’Momi at last! They had one empty table left on the porch. This was it!

They handed us the big menu full of delicous, savory pizzas and primi, but I quickly traded mine for the little dessert menu. Of course, I ordered the bignes (Italian cream puffs). Dad ordered tiramisu in a jar per reccomendation of the waitress (she also knew what she was talking about!). 

First, the waitress came over carrying two cappuccinos and a fruity dessert wine. We all drank in silence while savoring the skyline of Napa. When the waiter returned, my serene moment quickly came to a halt. On his plate were six little two-bite puffs — each covered delicately in chocolate or drizzled in a glistening brittle. They looked almost too good to eat. Emphasis on the almost 😉

There were six different flavors: chocolate, milk and honey, pistachio, hazelnut, almond, and coffee. I started with the coffee one. The puff pastry is light and airy, without being overwhelmingly eggy — which enhances the lusciousness of the delicately flavored custard beautifully. All of this is topped off with a crunchy, sweet brittle. These three sensations blend together for an unworldly coffee cream puff experience.

I bought one of their t-shirts to remember my twelve little bites of heaven. On the back it reads: “
I can resist anything but temptation”  This is probably true, if temptation includes those bignes. I hope to attempt to recreate Italian-style bignes at home, but in the meantime, check out my recipe for vanilla bean cream puffs.

With love, 

Erica


Ca’ Momi, 610 First Street, Napa, CA www.camomienoteca.com
Ca'Momi Enoteca on Urbanspoon