Toasted almonds – LaSalette Restaurant

Toasted almonds - LaSalette Restaurant
These almonds came out with our tasting plates and they were very good. I loved the seasoning they put on them because it had a deep, strong flavor. Complimentary
LaSalette Restaurant, Sonoma CA

Bread roll and butter - LaSalette Restaurant

Bread roll and butter. Complimentary

Sonoma Valley view, Viansa Winery
Sonoma Valley view, Viansa Winery. The back area of Viansa has tables and chairs set up overlooking Sonoma Valley where you can relax and enjoy your glasses of wine.

Brut rose & Sonoma brut late release – Gloria Ferrer Winery

Brut rose & Sonoma brut late release - Gloria Ferrer Winery
2007 Brut Rose – “Vibrant flavors of wild strawberry, rosehips, and crisp blood orange character.” 92% Pinot Noir/ 8% Chardonnay. Equally delicious with shellfish, crab, roasted chicken, sushi, or Indian/Thai cuisine. $9
Sonoma Brut Late Release – “With five more years on the cork this wine has developed into a more mature flavor profile.” 87% Pinot Noir/ 13% Chardonnay. Floral notes of honeysuckle, baked apple delicate hazelnut and honey on the palate. Delicious with shellfish, roasted fowl or sushi, or pair with triple creme cheese and fruit compote. $6
Gloria Ferrer Winery, Sonoma CA

Mmm, another delicious couple glasses of California sparkling wines! Very bright and fresh tasting. Be careful with the complimentary almonds though. They’ll make you keep going back for more wine, lol!

Gloria Ferrer patio
Gloria Ferrer patio. You order your sparkling wines and snacks at the inside counter, grab a table (preferrably on the patio), and they bring out your flutes as they’re ready. Very relaxing and easy.

Anniversary cuvee & Va de vi – Gloria Ferrer Winery

Anniversary cuvee & Va de vi - Gloria Ferrer Winery

Anniversary Cuvee – “A versatile accompaniment to a wide variety of appetizers from fresh seafoof to specialty cheeses.” 100% Chardonnary. Flavors of apple, baked Asian pear, vanilla and brioche. Bright citrus notes of Meyer lemon. $8
Va De Vi – “A classic sparkling wine blend with just a trace of Muscat that is dry, but not too dry.” 89% Pinot Noir/ 8% Chardonnary/ 3% Muscat. Versatile accompaniment with spicy cuisine, as well as fruit based desserts. Enjoy luscious flavors of perfectly ripened fruite that is revealed in a long, soft finish. $5
Gloria Ferrer Winery, Sonoma CA

Served with roasted almonds. I always love stopping by Gloria Ferrer whenever I visit Sonoma because their sparkling wines are delicious and perfectly priced. It always amazes me how differently these bubbly wines taste when sampling different ones consecutively.

Gloria Ferrer patio view
View from the Gloria Ferrer patio looking towards Highway 121. This winery isn’t too far from the highway so the views aren’t amazing, but their patio is great to hang out in if you can get a seat! This place is very popular.

Moulard duck “foie gras en terrine” – The French Laundry

Moulard duck "foie gras en terrine" - The French Laundry
Celery branch, cara cara orange, juniper yogurt, almond sable and red ribbon sorrel. Chef’s Tasting Menu $270 + $30 supplement
The French Laundry, Yountville CA

Moulard duck "foie gras en terrine" - The French Laundry
Another beautifully plated dish! I love the soft, pale colors on the plate from the cara cara (red navel) orange wedges to the pink foie terrine and green sorrel. For a tasting menu, the terrine portion was generous but I did my duty and ate it ALL up, lol!

Warm brioche - The French Laundry
Warm brioche. This was kinda cool – I was finishing the first half of the thick brioche when a server came up behind me and replaced the remaining half with a new, warm slice. Fresh and warm is best for this dish!

Trio of salts - The French Laundry
Trio of salts. Pretty and tasty! You could definitely taste a difference between the salts.

Black adaba date crostata – Locanda

Black adaba date crostata Locanda

Earl grey, almond, vanilla gelato. $9
Locanda, San Francisco

This was the best part of the meal! But I guess since it was one of my birthday dinners, dessert is always the best part. Seriously though, this crostata was beautiful and delicious. I’ve never had a date crostata before, but the black adaba dates tasted amazing with the almond. And vanilla gelato can’t disappoint. I’m not sure where the Earl grey was, but I think it was incorporated into the glaze?

Black adaba date crostata Locanda

Frances red wine – Frances

Frances red wine

Beverage director Paul blends this fresh and delicious wine with Marco Cappelli from Miraflores Winery. $1 per ounce
Frances, San Francisco

I love that you can get wine here by the ounce! Not that it really prevents you (or maybe just us) from drinking more. But it’s a great concept. The Frances red wine is actually a very tasty table red. It goes down easily and has enough flavor and body to keep you interested.

Toasted almonds Frances

Toasted almonds. This complimentary snacks was slightly sweet and completely addicting. Frances even makes almonds irresistible!

Office Holiday Party Extravaganza!

So my office held our 2nd Annual Holiday Potluck and everyone (well almost everyone) brought delicious food to share! I’m posting some of the yummy food so you can get a few ideas for your next holiday get together.  If all else fails, make a Costco run apparently. I mean who needs a fancy corporate holiday party when you can have a good ole potluck?! All names have been changed to protect the innocent! 🙂

Pork belly steamed bun

Pork belly steamed bun – Papa Chang
We all know that most holiday plates are fattening so why not get it in the form of tender pork belly?! Just top the bun with shredded scallions and hoisin sauce for an elegant presentation! You can purchase frozen buns at your local Asian market and steam them prior to serving.  Xiexie!

Pigs in a blanket

Pigs in a blanket – Rapunzel
Simple but delicious, a perennial party favorite! Just wrap ‘Lil Smokies (these are turkey) with crescent pastry rolls (these use a low fat variety) and voile, you have an all-American treat! According to Rapunzel, each piece has only 45 calories!

Pomegranate kielbasa bites

Pomegranate kielbasa bites – Dumes
The perfect combination of beefy meat and sticky sweet. Simmer sliced beef kielbasa sausage in a mixture of pomegranate juice, ketchup and Tabasco sauce until the sauce is thick and reduced. Serve on a buttery Ritz cracker to make it classy! Thanks Dumes!

Spam musubi

Spam musubi – Sophie
Perfectly portioned and utterly delicious! Spam plus sushi rice and a nori strip equals a happy vicenteSF! Arigato!

Traditional Midwestern Queso Surprise

Traditional midwestern queso surprise – vicenteSF
OK, I made that name up but my roommate IS from Kansas and he makes this delicious dip once in a while. Just combine Velveeta cheese (SO American!) with browned ground beef and a can of Ro-Tel brand diced tomatoes with chiles (another midwestern staple) in a crock pot. Set it and forget it! It’s customary to eat this with potato chips, not tortilla chips, silly!

Quiche lorraine

Mini quiche lorraine – Mats
Another easy potluck option, the frozen mini quiche! Just throw into the toaster oven for a few minutes and these buttery, salty bites are sure to please everyone!

Shrimp cocktail

Shrimp cocktail – Pong
Costco wins again! Seafood always ups the chichi factor!

Roast chicken

Roast chicken – Pong
And antoher Costco treasure!

Chewy mixed chip holiday cookie

Chewy mixed chip holiday cookie – Rapunzel
These are surprisingly good despite Rapunzel’s baking track record! Just kidding. These nommy cookies have milk chocolate, white chocolate AND butterscotch chips! And lots of butter for all the good lil boys and girls!

Almond jello with fruit

Almond jello with fruit – Sophie
Sophie fights back with a more sophisticated dessert approach. The light almond jello pairs wonderfully with fresh fruit!

Walnut brownie

Walnut brownie – Jefe
And what’s more traditional than some chocolate brownies with NUTS! Walnuts are a safe, delicious and nutritious choice!

Melkesjokolade chocolate

Melkesjokolade chocolate – Huff
And Huff brings up the rear with a Norwegian contribution! Tusen takk!

Happy holidays, everyone!!!

Bostock – Four Barrel Coffee

Bostock Four Barrel Coffee

Citrus, hazelnut and almond flavors all in one amazing pastry!  I didn’t even know what this what when I bought it (they didn’t have the labels up yet that morning), but it sure tasted great.  I later learned that it’s called  a “bostock” on a return visit.  Upon researching this delicious treat, I found out that it’s traditionally made from a day-old brioche that’s soaked in an almond and orange simple syrup and topped with almond cream and sliced almonds.  After it’s baked, the edges become crisp and get an amazing caramelly flavor.  The center stays moist and buttery and the almondy top gets beautifully toasted.  The version at Four Barrel has hazelnuts instead of sliced almonds and they sprinkle it with a little powdered sugar.  NOMS!
Four Barrel Coffee, San Francisco

Bostock Four Barrel Coffee

The beautiful, moist interior.

Four Barrel Coffee

Pastries always taste better with coffee!

Pumpkin trio muffin – Koffi

Pumpkin trio muffin Koffi

With pumpkin, almonds and granola, drizzled with a sugar glaze.  $2.95
Koffi, Palm Springs

Somehow, this muffin didn’t taste absurdly unhealthy.  Maybe it’s the granola?  Perhaps I think that since it has granola, it’s somehow healthier.  Regardless, this muffin did help to fill me up before we took the Aerial Tramway up and hiked to the top of Mt. San Jacinto.  It was a great day, and perhaps the granola helped make the hike a little easier.  Hehe!

Latte Koffi

Latte

Almond and goji berry chocolates – Benchic Chocolate

Almond goji berry chocolates Benchic Chocolate

Cacao (raw chocolate), Bay Area wild honey, lucuma, vanilla, Himalayan salt, goji berries, and almonds.
Benchic Chocolate, Bay Area

I recently discovered a new, local chocolatier!  Benchic Chocolate makes delicious, minimally processed treats using only certified organic or pesticide free ingredients.  They are absolutely delicious and you can purchased them online!

Almond goji berry chocolates Benchic Chocolate

These chocolates are quite wholesome with only 7 high quality ingredients, and nothing is heated over 160 degrees Fahrenheit in the process.  These addicting morsels are dark, dense, and not overly sweet – just the way I like it!

Almond goji berry chocolates Benchic Chocolate

These particular chocolates have chopped raw almonds and goji berries inside. I love the bright red color of the berries, and you can still see their seeds.  The only sweetner used is local wild honey, so you don’t have to worry about any refined sugar.  You can really taste and apprecieate all the individual ingredients.

Benchic Chocolate box

My chocolates arrived in this chic (hehe) robin egg blue box reminiscent of those from Tiffany & Co.  Quite appropriate since both contain exciting treats inside.  Personally, I’d prefer chocolates any day – lol!

Benchic Chocolate packaging

Ben Tseitlin, founder of Benchic Chocolate, also teaches chocolate making classes for the general public.  You’ll not only learn about the history and health benefits of chocolate, but you’ll experience a tasting tour of ingredients and make your own scrumptious treats.

Simple, and simply delicious!