When we first moved to Phoenix, we had nowhere to live. We turned to The Clarendon Hotel because of their pet friendly policy, but apparently this is one of the coolest hotels in Phoenix! The Joint Lifestyle 4th of July party isn't the first cannabis event The Clarendon has hosted, and I hope it won't be the last! The entire was hotel was bought out for the cannabis-centric Independence Day party. Those who chose to the stay the night received a gift box of full of medicated gifts! Our box contained hard candies from Flourish, THC Syrup from Baked Bros, Paw Puddy Hemp CBD oil from Hempful Farms, a gram of Ghost OG from Herbal Wellness Center, a palm stick from Pura Earth, a $50 gift card to Sun Valley and a t-shirt from Sublime Brands. Opening this box in my hotel room was an almost surreal way to start the party. If you would have told me last year that I would be attending a medicated 4th of July pool party at a hotel in Arizona, I would have called you a liar.
Cafe Tranquilo, the hotels restaurant, had a special menu out as well. Medicated salsas and sauces were provided by Flourish to accompany tacos. As well as more medicated treats including s'mores, marinara covered meatballs and raw cannabis juice for the VIP attendees. The tacos were all really good, and the sauce had just the right amount of heat and so much flavor. The Sonora Dog I had, which should have been called a chilli dog, was clunky and hard to eat but was really enjoyable as far as taste goes. I didn't mind making the mess.
Vapen Clear, Tru Med and High Grade came through with plenty of rigs, e-nails and dabs to share with patients. Their booths were all busy from the beginning of the day until the end of the night. The lines moved quickly and lots of dabs were taken. I honestly expected people to have their own rigs but I didn't see any dabbing outside of the booths.
There was no better way to end the night than rolling up poolside. As people retired to their rooms, went home, or tried not to pass out on the patio furniture we sparked up our last joint of the night. This was my first consumption event since living in Arizona, and I have to say it was a blast. Coming from somewhere like San Francisco, pool days were few and far between. I honestly expected to be out of my comfort zone since I never saw myself as the 'pool party type' but it all felt so...normal. I can't wait to see what's in store for my future in this community, but whatever happens I'm sure it will be a blast.
Who doesn't love fried potatoes covered in cheese and bacon and pulled pork? If you don't, you're a liar. Our friends at Big Bad Wolf invited us to try their smothered creations this weekend and all I can say is YUM! The menu was limited due to the heatwave but everything we had was so good! The full menu must be amazing too.
We started with an order of loaded fries and an order of crispy wings with smokey BBQ sauce. The truck was conveniently parked outside BlackRock Brewers so we popped inside to sit down, eat and have a few beers. Jason had the Admiration IPA and I had the Tucson Tickle, I normally don't go for common beers but the name was too cute and it ended up being really good!
These loaded fries were covered in a spicy seasoning blend and covered in cheese, bacon and their signature wolf sauce. After a few joints and a beer, you know this hit the spot. The spice was balanced so well with the cheese and creamy wolf sauce, I couldn't stop eating until they were finished. The chicken wings were next and boy were they crispy! The sauce doused over the wings left enough crispy skin exposed to get those nibbles of perfectly crisped skin while still retaining the flavor of the sauce. 6 wings was not enough.
Round two was loaded pulled pork fries, delicious right? Those loaded fries I loved so much with pulled pork on top, yes! I haven't had pulled pork this tender and juicy in years. With the same smokey BBQ sauce used on the wings drizzled over the top, my mouth was in heaven.
Looks good, hu?
If you follow me on social media, you know that I recently moved from sunny California to even sunnier Arizona! I was scared at first but once I realized they also had beer and weed, I felt better.
I saw a poster for the AmeriCAN Canned Beer festival at the local Cheba Hut, and I knew I had to go. Honestly, a day of drinking in the sun and heat was rather intimidating, but how I could I pass it up?
We knew food was crucial to keep us going all day, and we were overjoyed to see Hopdoddy Burger Bar serving sliders for free! The only option available, cleverly named 'Little Boozie' featured beer as an ingredient. Sleepy Dog IPA to be specific, who was serving beer at the event as well.
I tried to write down everything I tried that day, but I only managed to remember about half the time. With over 250 types of canned beer available, I was overwhelmed with styles and flavors to choose from. I was so happy to see the Smuttynose booth, their blueberry gose was a favorite on my trip to NYC. The new peach version available was easily one of the best beers of the day. Ballast Point (who didn't have very nice servers) and Modern Times (very nice servers) were a few of the many representing San Diego beer. Mango Even Keel session IPA, Fruitlands gose, and a tiny sip of Drop Art tart saison kept me going for a while.
There were only a handful of booths not selling beer. Most of these booths sold clothes, one advertised a DUI lawyer, but Swell Farmacy - a local medical cannabis dispensary - provided beer drinkers with games and coupons for free 8ths for patients. They even raffled off the cornhole boards after the event! It was hard not to have mixed feelings about the presence of medical cannabis at a beer event, but I guess that's one way to spread the good word!
The only thing I really remember drinking after that was Destihl Synchopathic, a dry hopped sour ale part of their 'Wild Sour' series. I tried their Lynnbrook raspberry sour a few years ago while visiting Chicago and was so excited to see them again! Friends enjoyed samples from Sleepy Dog, New Belgium before I refilled with Sun Up Bearded Blonde.
Goose Island had a huge tent with tables and mason jars full of hops for guests to smell while they enjoyed their beers, which I thought was a great interactive way for people to learn about beer, not just drink it! I went with their Four Star Pills, something mellow to end the day.
Keeping the beer and guests at a comfortable temperature was a challenge but from buckets and pool toys to huge mist machines, we all managed to have a good time. Hats off to the organizers, breweries and volunteers for throwing a great event!
I never understood why my dad loved canned fish so much, then I went to Spain and it all made sense. As a Mexican, visiting Spain was a very eye opening experience for me. Northern Mexico, where my family is from, has a significantly smaller indigenous population than Southern Mexico so the Spanish influence can be more prevalent. After spending some time in Spain, I now feel like I can see that part of myself when I look in the mirror.
I was researching for places in Barcelona with great views of the city when I found Marea Alta, a view I unfortunately didn't photograph. The restaurant and bar inhabit the top floors of El Edificio Colon and has a very stylish, almost vintage maritime feel. I felt like I was in a Wes Anderson film. We were overwhelmed by the menu, so we decided to go for their tasting menu. The menu overall pays homage to the wonderful and fresh seafood provided by the Mediterranean Sea, as well as a the traditional canned seafood of the Galicain coast. The tasting menu changes regularly, and we were able to make a few choices as far as dishes went.
We started with some appetizers: anchovies, smoked mussels, sardine filets, caixetes or Noah's Ark shells, and shrimp tartare that played on the classic Spanish tapa Gambas Al Ajillo. The appetizers were served with a fish and herb broth that helped cleanse the palate between bites.
Our next dish was one of the richest plates of food I've ever had. A bed of potatoes mashed with parmesan cheese, topped with a layer of whipped egg yolks and covered in sea urchin. The sea urchin really helped cut the richness of the dish, but once it was gone I couldn't finish the rest.
Next came grilled hake jowell and langoustines. I have never had fish jowell before but I found it to be really enjoyable. It was soft and rich like butter, almost melted in my mouth. The langoustines reminded me of really big shrimp, we ate the bodies and sucked the rich goodness out of the head.
Next was stingray stewed with chickpeas and herbs. The stingray was hard to eat, there were lots of bones that were hard to get around but after a little trying we figured it out. The soft flavor of the fish married really well with the heartiness of the chickpeas and the broth helped it go down smooth.
The showstopper was a whole grilled Turbot. The innards were removed, but the skin and roe remained. It was a lot to eat for just two people but we got through it. The fish was delicious, full of smoky, chargrilled flavor. The skin was crispy which was a nice contrast to the soft fish.
Then came our first dessert course, a mango sorbet with a gin foam and sliced pear and fresh berries. It was supposed to be a play on a gin and tonic, I thought it was yummy either way!
The final dessert was a traditional Spanish pastry filled with cream served with a coffee chocolate sauce. The pastry reminded me of croissant, it was light and flaky and paired well with the sweet cream inside. The coffee and chocolate was too strong for me but my boyfriend loved it! It was a great way to end the meal, and our trip to Barcelona.
What's more romantic than freshly prepared French food for a Valentines Day dinner? Thanks to Feastly my boyfriend and I were able to enjoy an amazing evening catered by Chef Tommo. The venue was warm, well lit and our hosts eagerly met us with strawberries and champagne to get the night started. The 6 course menu focused on seafood and featured raw oysters, white fish tartare and poached lobster tail just to name a few.
My boyfriend picked up a bottle of CaliCraft's The Bay double IPA. It was a big beer, full of strong tropical and fruit notes. Some would call it too big to pair with seafood, but we thought it worked really well. The beer was big, but the flavor was clean and crisp, with a pleasing balance of tropical and bitter.
Our meal started with three large raw oysters, dressed with a light champagne vinaigrette. There was a harmony between the natural brininess of the oyster and the sweetness of the champagne vinegar. In my opinion oysters are best when prepared simply, so this was an ideal way to start a dinner in my book.
The white fish tartare was tossed in cucumber, green onion and capers. The fish was light, but the capers and cucumber really helped bring out it's natural sweetness while providing balance. The portion was small but ideal for the dish, just a few small bites and it was on to the next!
The next dish was improvised by our chef, as cooking doesn't always go as planned. I enjoyed the dish and the plating even, regardless of its last minute adjustments. Poached salmon and lobster on a bed of sauteed spinach and a wonderful tarragon sauce. The fish was tender and juicy while bits of lobster mixed in with the salmon added a nice surprise. The sauce really brought everything to life and the spinach added an overall heartiness to the dish, but it wasn't overbearing.
The star of the show was a butter poached lobster tail with a rice pilaf. All I tasted in this dish was butter and lobster but I was not complaining . As I said earlier, seafood is best when prepared simply and lobster is protein that can definitely stand on its own. Sweet and buttery with a hint of the ocean, to me there's nothing better.
The night ended with a cheese plate and dark chocolate mousse. The cheese plate had three types of cheese, I can't remember the exact kinds but one was tart and creamy, one was really sharp and one was more neutral. I ate them all without blinking an eye. When we got to the chocolate part, I was a bit hesitant. I've never been a fan of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, but once I tasted the strawberries at the bottom and the pistachio crumble I felt a lot better about the dish. There was nothing left in the ramekin by the time I was done.
This has only been my second dinner with Feastly, but I think it's an excellent service. Bringing foodies together while giving chefs a night to shine and express themselves passionately. As both a lover of cooking food as well as eating it, these meals have been a great source of inspiration for me. I can't wait to attend more. You can read more about my first Feastly experience here.
I really love being able to say that I was born and raised in Northern California. I love that I get to call the Bay Area home. It feels even better to be able to say that after traveling to some of this country's oldest and largest cities. I recall Anthony Bourdain once calling San Francisco 'a nice town' and when I think about the beast of a city that New York is, I think I understand what he's getting at. Like any other 90's kid, I grew up watching Hey Arnold! The towering brick buildings, the sea of people, the sounds of a city - they were all inspirations to leave my home in wine country for something new and unfamiliar. New York City was that foreign land on domestic soil that I was searching for.
In recent years, I've tried to make my birthday a reason to go somewhere. Vacations never seem to go as planned. This one definitely took some wild turns, but I won't get into the drama. Let's just say, two couples went on vacation but only one couple come home together. They say there's a first time for everything! I just didn't know my first time in NYC would be first time I traveled with a couple who broke up on our vacation. All that aside, I did have a ton of fun in the Big Apple. We had hardly any obligations on our trip, so naturally we let our bellies lead the way.
Am I crazy for being into red eye flights? I don't know what it is about them. Maybe it's eating dinner at the airport, or being able to fall asleep so easily in spite of the excitement of traveling. It's probably dinner tho. International Airports in big cities can have some hidden gems. The first stop in a journey of culinary adventures was Cat Cora's Kitchen in SFO's Terminal 2. I had Skirt Steak Tacos, and my boyfriend had Lobster Mac & Cheese. My tacos were better, he agreed.
We had to get some candy before the flight, because duh.
I didn't expect it to be so hot when we landed. But even at 5am, it was already in the 80's. They say say Shake Shack is a must when visiting the east coast. So while waiting for our companions, we decided it was probably a pretty good opportunity to grab some. Plus, it was one of the only decent things open. I don't know if I can make a fair assumption about Shake Shack, since I only had breakfast. But who doesn't love eggs and bacon covered in melty cheese pressed between a soft bun? After a 5 hour flight, at 5:30am. It's the perfect thing.
As I said earlier, I've lived in California my whole life. Sometimes I forget that the West Coast was settled much later than the East Coast. I mean just compare the populations. The Atlantic coast is home 112.6 million people, while the Pacific coast has only a population of 47.8 million, 56.9 million if you include Nevada and Arizona. The sheer density of the city and it's surroundings are so foreign to me, I cannot imagine living around that many people. I do have to admit it was quite a sight. I've never seen buildings built for so many people. We took an Uber from JFK over the Williamsburg Bridge and into the city. Our building had no elevator, and we were on the second to last floor. It was quite a walk to the top. But the view was stunning.
I took this photo with my iPhone. If we looked north, we could see Manhattan & Times Square.
The subway was our main mode of transportation. We got there on a Saturday, and that monday was 9/11. Between weekend service and the extra safety precautions we were always stuck taking alternative routes and getting lost. I couldn't imagine trying to navigate that subway system daily.
I was hot and muggy on our first day there. We had no plans, so we set out to explore. After this point - our trip becomes more dramatic than anything else. So I'll focus less on our experiences, and more on where we ended up. My first New York slice of pizza came from Rocco's Pizza Joint in the Chelsea neighborhood. We could see the pizzas on display in the glass case as we walked by and as soon as I walked in, I knew I wanted the eggplant parmigiana slice.
The slices were huge, I was definitely a fan. And when people say that pizza in New York is different, I get it now! I mean, I've always understood why, but it's different than actually experiencing it. The texture of the crust was bready and chewy but in a really enjoyable way. I wanted the eggplant to be crispier, but what can I expect when it's been surrounded by cheese and sauce. Either way, I finished my slice. And I loved it. After the pizza, we navigated our way to Grand Central Station where we found a Jacques Torres Sorbet Shop. We ended up with a scoop of passion fruit to combat the heat.
The rest of that day was spent exploring the neighborhoods and photographing. The density of New York was still so much to take in. My favorite thing about exploring was seeing all the graffiti and recognizing artist I had seen up in California. It's an inspiration to travel more, at least for me. As the evening approached we decided to find somewhere to grab dinner. Café Habana was just a few blocks away from us and seemed like a perfect option.
We ate Mexican Grilled Corn, Sopesitos, Enchiladas con Mole Poblano, and Caribbean style Carnitas. Now, I honestly don't know much about Cuban food, but a lot of what we had seemed Mexican to me. Tasty though! We ended the night by picking up boxes of pastries from Ferrara Bakery on the way back to the apartment.
There are many comparisons made surrounding the relationship between New York City and Brooklyn and the relationship between San Francisco and Oakland. If you think about it as a slightly smaller city across a body of water from a slightly larger city, then yeah I guess it's similar. If you think about it as a cheaper place to live than the slightly larger city across the water, then yeah I see it. But Oakland, the Bay Area, the West Coast, just has such fewer people, you can't compare the two. The parallel I see is gentrification and it stands out more in port cities like San Francisco and New York, where immigrant families once lived in tight knit communities. These communities are harder to find now. And the few things left that are authentic become novelties to the neighborhood's new inhabitants. I think gentrification started with the best intentions. In the 80's - 90's, the Mission District of San Francisco saw a major influx of artists. Artists could easily be considered low income people, so naturally cheap housing was a priority and easy to find in immigrant communities. Fast forward 20 years, there is no more cheap housing. The shops and greasy spoons that once catered to it's Hispanic and Latino community replaced with bougie lounges, overpriced clothes and 5 star restaurants. Some call it natural progression, I call it entitlement and disrespect. I went to a comedy show a few days ago where the comedian talks about being a gay, white, male living in South Dakota. He had recently moved to Echo Park in Los Angeles, another mainly Latino community who's going through it's influx right now. He said he 'would knock the sweet breads out of a Mexican grandmother's arms' if it kept him from moving back to South Dakota. I understand people want to experience new things, to live somewhere far away from where they grew up. But you can't act entitled, and you can't disrespect those who were there before you. In my opinion, that's the problem with gentrification, the lack of respect. It happens everywhere, and I wonder if it will ever change. But honestly, that problem is bigger than me. (I'm looking at you tech bros.) People focus so much on living somewhere else, but they don't think about the impact they make on the places they are going, or the impact they could have made in the place they came from.
Brooklyn was like The Bay in the sense that you could be standing on a street corner, walk two blocks over, and be in what felt like a completely different city. We ended up on the greenest block in Brooklyn! And wandered into a Japanese restaurant named Ganso Yaki, which unfortunately closed shortly after our visit. Which kind of surprises me, considering how good the food was. We had a spicy salmon roll, octopus salad, and a katsu plate I didn't photograph.
I also had a delicious Gose by Lost Nation Brewing. I love seeing coriander popping up more in sours.
Followed by a Flying Dog Bloodline Blood Orange Ale on nitro at Hollow Nickel, an adorable little gastropub with great food, beer and pretty decent sized backyard. The bartender gave us a few destination suggestions, the first of which was Threes Brewing and I absolutely fell in love. The space was elegant and inviting, the patio was open and the sun was warm. We sat under the hops growing up the fence that enclosed the patio. It was lovely. The beer was great too. I had a small pour of their Mexican Lager called Echos of Nothing, followed by their Internal Contradictions with Passion Fruit, an insanely crushable Berliner Weisse. I wish I remembered what my boyfriend had, because it was damn good too. I hope this beer makes it west one day, but I have to admit a huge part of it's appeal is it's lack of availability. You always want what you can't have!
The next stop was the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. I always thought shuffleboard was for retired folks, but not in Brooklyn. I've never played shuffleboard before, and I can't say it was super fun or anything, but a it wasn't a bad time. Especially while enjoying a few cans of Smuttynose Brewing Blueberry Short Weisse. Talk about tasty! The club was described to us as 'Florida-style,' which made sense considering all of the Florida pennants hanging on the walls. The space had a very retro, beachside vibe to it. Not sure I would go back, but a fun, new way to kill some time.
We headed back to the city shortly after to have dinner at a place I was too excited about visiting, Beetle House NYC. If you can't tell by the name, it's a Tim Burton themed bar and restaurant! Although there's not actual connection between the restaurant and Tim Burton himself, the walls are covered with movie art. The soundtrack in the bar was rather odd in my opinion, it was like a someone shuffled a top-40 radio station with Tim Burton soundtracks and The Cure. It kind of felt like being inside a Hot Topic. I couldn't complain about the food though! My boyfriend had the Sweeney Beef, an 8oz filet mignon with sauteed mushrooms and onions served with mashed potatoes and red wine reduction. Our companions ordered Mad Shrimp, sauteed shrimp and chorizo on a bed of plantain mofongo. We also enjoyed, not photographed, a burger called Edward Burgerhands as well as a serving of Cheshire Mac. The over-the-topness was topped off with a Bettlejuice impersonator. I could have sworn Michael Keaton was in the room.
Day three was our first day flying solo as a couple. So naturally, we hit the first dive bar we could find. We walked into the Spring Lounge, on the corner of Spring & Mulberry. Talk about a New York experience! The seats at the bar were almost all taken, while the rest of the sizable bar was empty. You could tell they were regulars. There was man in a suit, standing with his briefcase on the bar and a martini in his hand. Next to him, a tall and slender man with grey hair dressed in all black with pointy leather shoes drinking different combinations of gin and fruit juice. There was a 'dad' type looking very comfortable in his swim trunks, t-shirt and old blue baseball cap drinking cans of PBR. And an upper-middle class Indian man drinking Jameson like it was water. It was a colorful crowd.
After a standard Goose Island IPA, I had the Smuttlabs Blueberry Short Weisse, which I am finding out now is the same beer I had the shuffleboard club! I should have made the connection then, but was happy to have been able to enjoy a second glass of it. The man drinking Jameson was getting increasingly more out of line, and the bartender urged him to go home. As soon as he did, the rest of the regulars questioned the bartender as to why he hadn't been 86'd from the bar yet. Apparently, he had a habit of being a creep. The bartender offered us a shot before we left, but the day ahead of us was long and we had to decline.
If you can't tell by my website, I love food. For most of my childhood, I wanted to be a chef. I was a line cook for years in my early 20's and it was one of my most rewarding jobs. Some of my biggest idols and sources of inspirations are chefs. David Chang is up there on that list and making it to one of his restaurants was one of the biggest priorities I had while in New York. Two of his restaurants were on the same block, two doors down from each other, so I was happy to have the option. Noodles seemed like too much on such a hot day, so we decided to visit Fuku located in the East Village. Fast-food style and a limited menu, it was the perfect lunch option.
We shared a Fried Chicken Sandwich, their staple we ate too quickly for me to photograph, as well as a frozen strawberry lemonade and a serving of sriracha pulled pork cheese fries. I had seen the fries on David Chang's facebook page and had to have them. I can't wait to go back just for his food.
We decided to wander around the East Village a little more, where we came across Academy Records. It was tiny little spot with a great selection of vinyl. Last year, I was spoiled by Portland's record stores where the most I paid for a record was $10, this place was a little more expensive but all the vinyl was in great condition. I ended up picking up two soundtracks, Zoot Suit and Sparkle with Aretha Franklin.
At this point, I wanted more food. On our walk back to the apartment, we walked past a taqueria and when I saw the trompo in the window I knew I needed some. The place was called Empellon Al Pastor, and the second thing I noticed was the tortilla machine in the back. Fresh tortillas and slow roasted pork, count me in! And at just $10 for two tacos and a beer, you couldn't beat it.
We spent the rest of that afternoon walking around, killing time before heading to The Bronx for a Yankee game. I didn't make many plans, but when I saw the Yankees were playing the Dodgers, I had to be there. I'm a huge baseball fan, so going to a historic park like Yankee Stadium is a bucket list item for sure. While slowly making our way to the train, we walked past La Esquina / The Corner Deli. We didn't stop or anything, but I had to take a few photos, it was so cute!
We ended up at Brinkley's Broome Street for some pre-game snacks, because you can always have more snacks. I wasn't too impressed with the place, the fries were too thick for my taste and the calamari was nothing special. But it was a nice bar with great light and scenery, just not somewhere I'd end up again. After a little rest and hydration, we headed to the train.
The train was packed! Which made sense for a Monday night. We were all packed in the train like sardines. Not everyone looked like they were on their way to the game, which seemed funny to be because in The Bay crowded trains on stadium lines are filled with fans. We got to the stadium and headed to a nearby bar to drink some cheaper beers before going inside. The Bronx Alehouse was there for us. Grimm Ales was doing a tap takeover with lots of tasty sour beer.
I bought our tickets on Gametime, and was surprised at how cheap they were! And the view from the bleachers wasn't bad at all. There were more Dodger fans than I was expecting, which always makes things more fun in my opinion. We sat for most of the game before leaving our seats to explore the stadium. Representing The Bay was crucial, Alexis was brave enough to wear an A's jersey, I was a little more discreet with my San Francisco Seals jersey.
We ended the night with pizza at Piacere, because it was right around the corner from the apartment. The pizza was a San Daniele: fresh tomato, mozzarella, arugula, shaved parmesan and proscuitto.
We really wanted to make the most of our last day. So we woke up early for a 'real' breakfast since we hadn't done that yet. We had walked by Jack's Wife Freda on Lafayette a few times, so I thought that would be a good option. And I was right! The food was fresh and super yummy, plus we had a seat outside the weather was beautiful. My friend had a cantaloupe mimosa and the rosewater waffle, while my boyfriend had the Prego Roll: a portuguese skirt steak sandwich with garlic butter, the best thing on the table in my opinion. I kept it simple and had soft boiled eggs with challah breadsticks (not pictured) because I love egg yolks and the house cured duck bacon. I'm pretty sure it was my first time having duck. What a meaty bird!
This day was very beer focused for me. I was determined to find more micro brews I couldn't find at home. While we were on our way to the taproom I had researched, we realized we needed to kill some time before the opened. So we found Tom & Jerry's bar on our walk and popped in for a drink. It was a big bar with lots of natural light a bunch of stuff to look at. Aside the huge (real) taxidermy on the wall, there were all kinds of stickers and drawings all over the place, definitely a place I could have had a few more beers at.
After a few non-noteworthy beers we headed to Top Hops, an amazing taproom with over 700 bottles to choose from as well as an extensive draft menu, I was in heaven. I wish I would have taken more photos of the interior. The bottles were organized by style if they were an East Coast based brewery, but if not they were organized by region. I was proud of the California section. We tasted everything on the menu. I couldn't remember exactly what we had, but there were a lot of breweries I hadn't even heard of! We bought some bottles to take back to the apartment for rooftop beers on our last night.
We also popped into Fort Gansevoort Gallery where Ron English, Hansky and Healy Made were having a show. I should have taken more photos, but my mind was caught up in the dinner we had planned. I think, I would hope, most people know who Bobby Flay is. I've never been the biggest Bobby Flay fan, but I do respect his determination as well as him as a cook. I felt very fortunate to be able to eat at one of his restaurants. Bar Americain is in the heart of Times Square, and we felt very underdressed for the occasion. We had oyster and lobster shooters, roasted mushrooms and onions. I had the Florida style red snapper and my boyfriend had the filet mignon (again). Everything was delicious, just what I would have expected from an Iron Chef.
Tea time at high noon? Madame Munchie creates delicious, elegant and low-dose French style macarons certain to elevate your next tea party. Okay but seriously, all bad puns aside, remember when edible options were just the standard brownies and cookies? Normally rich with chocolate to cover up the taste of Cannabis. I am so glad we are past those days. I hope you are too.
Xochi: What was it that initially drew you to the Cannabis industry?
Ashley: After the first time I tried it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't see the danger in it, and I knew working with Cannabis was something I always wanted to do. And this was back in high school, so I that was definitely my inspiration. Just really loving it and finding it so therapeutic. My family has been cultivating Cannabis in Mendocino for generations, so I wanted to be able to bring something to the table as well.
Kim: A lot of the same, I've always enjoyed it and never saw a problem with Cannabis. It always lead me to ask 'Why isn't this legal?' so it may have been, not so much that I enjoyed, but that I was so bothered by the fact that something so harmless wasn't legal. Those were my reasons for getting involved. I had been to Amsterdam when I was 13 with my dad, because that's where he worked, and he stopped into a coffee shop to ask for change or directions or something and when he came out he just smelled so good. And I wanted to know, 'What's in there? What is that smell?' He told me about the way coffee shops in Amsterdam work and I said 'that's so cool! can we go?' He told me I was too young, but when I was 18 if I still wanted to go, we could go together Which is actually a promise he kept and when I was 18 I experienced legal Cannabis for the first time.
Xochi: So you grew up in Europe, what's the difference?
Kim: It's pretty in restricted in France, where I grew up. Amsterdam just gave me a different view of Cannabis, although I still think it could be a little more professional. But it makes you think that you're not crazy to believe it should be legal in other places too. It was actually an American experience that really showed me that Cannabis could have medicinal properties and values. The other side of the story is; I had previously been prescribed Ritalin for ADHD which I took for about a year or two, as well as another medication I can't remember that was used to treat depression which I was on for about 6 months. I didn't see much of a difference. And Ritalin was banned in France at the time, so it wasn't like I could talk to my peers about it or anything. So I had my American doctor and my French experience. And I told my American doctor, when I saw him the next summer that I had tried Cannabis and that I really enjoyed it and that I was the first thing to bring me that sense of bliss and serenity. And that was the end goal with all these medications I was trying. So he told me that if it worked for me, and I kept my grades in check and made sure I was living a normal social life, he had no problem with my use of Cannabis as a way to self-medicate. So it was nice to have this sort of 'stamp of approval' from my doctor at such a young age. And that was another thing that really drove me to find out why Cannabis wasn't legal, and why it took my own self- discovery to come across this product that helped me, and I planned on continuing to use as medecine. And I never took Ritalin, or any other pills again since then.
Xochi: Wow, that's amazing. Well let me just say, these macarons are so tasty! Who's the baker?
Kim: Both of us.
Ashley: Yeah, we both do it.
Xochi: So how do you collaborate in the baking process?
Ashley: We work together a lot. Sometimes one of us will have to go out and meet a client or something, so one person will stay behind in the kitchen. And we just switch off, to keep things balanced.
Kim: We actually learned how to make macarons together.
Xochi: So you learned how to make macarons just for this endeavor?
Kim: Yeah! Well, and to satisfy my sweet tooth. We actually hosted a little party when we had all the some of the flavors developed to help us narrow things down. People would come and try them out and write down which ones were their favorites and any comments they had. I still have those notes, they are great.
Xochi: Well I think your flavors are really inventive, I love the grilled PB&J. Did you have any difficulty finding a baking space?
Kim: A lot of our initial baking and testing happened in our home kitchen. After gaining some momentum from winning 1st place for best edible at the 2014 High Times Cannabis Cup, we felt more confident when looking for a space. And when we found one, we were very direct and upfront about what we do. Since our flower is all processed in Mendocino, we only deal with Cannabutter in our kitchen. So it's very low key.
Ashley: It doesn't smell that much. If at all.
Kim: And as far as liability goes, there isn't much to steal.
Ashley: Can you imagine someone trying to steal a bunch of Cannabutter?
Kim: It's not even a concentrate. It would just melt as you were driving away.
Kim: So the owner liked that, but I think we still got really lucky, we are really grateful.
Xochi: Were there any other hurdles you met along the way?
Ashley: I'm trying to think of something specific, but there are a lot of general things you overlook when starting a business. An overall hurdle is all the random things that come up that you'd never expect. Like oh, an employee is sick, now you have to readjust for that. A driver can't make a delivery, now you have to figure out how you're gonna make it happen.
Xochi: The daily in's and out's of the business.
Kim: I definitely agree that those can be some of the hardest things to deal with. Taking a step back and envisioning the future for yourself and the company can be really fun. But when you're trying to run a business and you have a day planned and something goes wrong, you don't get those hours you needed back because someone didn't show up or wasn't answering their phone. So going back to work everyday knowing there are always issues like these, that always seem to happen at the worst time, can definitely by one of the most challenging things to deal with. Big picture struggles would be things like banking, and existing in this grey area between medically legal in California and federally illegal. Most of what I learned in business school doesn't really apply here. But that's also what makes is so interesting, building it as it goes.
Xochi: Being in the middle of it all while it's happening.
Xochi: What are your favorite strains?
Ashley: I really like Trainwreck for the sweet floral taste. Another near and dear to my heart is Sour Diesel, it's been around forever.
Kim: I don't think I have a favorite strain but certain ones do surprise me and I remember them, like this green crack once just had the best high. But I know people change names all the time, so it's hard to know exactly what you're smoking. We cook with a hybrid blend, and I find it works really well for me. It's a well-rounded high I can feel everywhere.
Xochi: Yeah, I think hybrids are best for edibles too.
Kim: Yeah, a little bit of everything. And hopefully one day research on a Cannabis will be advanced enough that we can pinpoint Cannabinoids, but until then, I like this mix.
Ashley: I've seen a quiz or something online that helps you find personalized strains, which is cool but who knows how accurate it is.
Kim: In a way I kind of like not knowing, but if that research can potentially help people with more serious ailments, then it's definitely worth it.
Xochi: What is your professional history before you got into this industry?
Ashley: I've been in the Cannabis industry for a long time, and originally went to school for horticulture because I was so interested in cultivation. But as I went on I realized that it wasn't for me, so I got into fashion design. So I studied that and eventually got a corporate fashion design job. But as a designer, I really didn't like giving someone else all the credit for my work, so that job really wasn't for me either. So after that I really took another look at my options in the Cannabis industry and just dove deeper into that and tried to take my family's business to the next level.
Kim: I studied finance in school in France, and eventually moved to New York to work for a big Wall Street Bank. Sometimes I think I ended up there on mistake, because people would ask why I was studying finance. It wasn't something people could picture me doing. But I took this one class and it was really interesting, and I wanted to learn more and try and understand these people who were sto different than me. So I dove head first into it, But when I finally got to the end of it, I was like why did I do this again? I really wanted to see it from the inside, but understood why there was so much concern because the job wasn't for me. So my new plan was to get a job in San Francisco, move there and meet people and try and start and edible business. So that's when I met Ashley, and she told me about her family farm and I told her about my ideas to revolutionize the face of edibles, and yeah. It just worked out.
Ashley: Yeah, it's actually a pretty funny story. We met on OKCupid, and in my profile I mentioned that I worked in the Cannabis industry. And she messaged me like, 'oh tell me more!' So we planned to meet at Hippie Hill at Golden Gate Park, and we smoked a joint.
Kim: She needed to make sure I could handle my weed.
Ashley: Yeah, so our first business meeting was a few months after that.
Xochi: So you two went into this romantically involved and wanted to proceed as business partners?
Kim: My secret plan was: if she's my business partner, she's going to have to spend time with me, and I'll be able to show her how awesome I am. I'm a planner, what can I say?
Xochi: Long con, I get it. That's great. You don't think working together hinders your relationship, in business and in romance?
Kim: I definitely think it makes it tough sometimes. It can be really hard to take a break. Usually couples can go home and complain about their boss or co-workers to their significant other. But in this case it's like, 'you're complaining about me?!' But we've learned a lot about how to deal with it, and we are still learning.
Ashley: I think we're definitely both workaholics, so it's hard to turn off work and just have 'girlfriend time' because we get so excited about new ideas, sometimes it's all we want to talk about. We're both just really passionate about Madame Munchie.
Kim: The definitely keeps it going because even when it gets tough, it's so exciting!
Xochi: So you say you want to change the face of business in Cannabis, and Cannabis in general. Can you tell me more about that?
Kim: I feel the main way we can help end stigmas is simply but initiating the conversation. I find that our products help people talk about Cannabis to family members or professional colleagues that you otherwise wouldn't. When someone brings up Cannabis to an individual who doesn't know much about it, they can sometimes expect a negative reaction. But when someone presents that person with our product, there's always a little bit of surprise. They help loosen up the dialogue with parents or grandparents, and because they are low dose people are much more open to trying them. This is a great product for novice Cannabis users, especially for our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Ashley: And people come back to the product because of the dosage, because it's easy. But I think people like that the Cannabis we source is single origin, and we try and source as many local ingredients as possible. For example, we personally know our almond farmers personally, and we frequent their just to make sure everything is going well. And accurately dosing our product is super important to us, and we make sure each cookie is 20mg. Consistency is crucial.
Kim: It's really hard.
Xochi: But it's medicine at the end of the day, so I can see why it's super important to you.
Kim: And that goes back to the image on Cannabis, if you can have a safe and reliable product that people can trust, it's much safer and much more enjoyable. But if someone doesn't know exactly what they're consuming, that's where edible horror stories come from and it hinders our movement. So that's why it's so important to us that people have clear and proper dosage to prevent negative experiences with our product. But seeing my grandma use this product and enjoy it, it really made me happy.
Xochi: What do you hope to see as Cannabis legalization looms right around the corner?
Ashley: I'm just so excited. I know there's a lot of controversy over the what the ballot says, but I just want everyone to have access to this medicine. Even if only a few people benefit financially, everyone benefits from legal Cannabis. That's my stand, but I hope it's just a start to more fair and inclusive reform.
Xochi: Right, it's important to break that barrier. Do you hope that even with the idea of recreational Cannabis, it will still be viewed as a wellness product with therapeutic aspects?
Kim: That an interesting question. Honestly, I think Cannabis should be seen as just a product. Maybe a dietary one. Maybe somewhere between tea and tobacco. There's a psychoactive component to it that we think we don't get other products, but I'm not even sure if that's true. The way we are affected by what we eat or drink is so unknown to us. But I do think there is a lot of wellness in Cannabis and that's why I chose to smoke and not drink. But I also don't judge people who chose to drink. In the end people chose to live their own lives and as much as it may differ from mine, I'm not here to judge other people or say what they should or shouldn't use.
Ashley: I wanna say that I get high because I want to get high sometimes, but I also do see a lot of medicinal value in it, so I'm kind of torn.
Xochi: Well I think there's a healthy grey area where Cannabis can live. It's a great alternative to alcohol but can also be used to replace so many medications, over the counter as well as prescription.
Kim: I just hope legalization helps send a message to the rest of the world. Being from France, I know there were always eyes on California as the pioneers of this movement and if it could happen there it could happen anywhere. So I think it's a crucial decision for this state.
Xochi: To wrap up, any final thoughts?
Ashley: I'm just super excited to see where the industry goes and I'm excited to meet more people like you guys, like minded individuals. And I'm just so excited for Cannabis.
Kim: Quality is a focus for us, but I'm so excited to see more professionalism in the industry and being able to be open about it, and just learning more.
Xochi: Even just tonight, I think we've learned a lot from each other. Thanks for your time.
When we think about taking medicine, we normally don't associate it with ingesting loads of sugar too. Why is this same logic not generally applied to edibles? MoonMan's Mistress is a company focused on pairing the benefits of whole-plant cannabis extraction and clean eating. "All our ingredients are intelligently chosen, locally sourced and quality tested to provide you with the healthiest medicinal edible available." Organic, non-GMO ingredients are crucial in the making of these paleo, dairy-free, soy-free and low glycemic medicated bites.
After being diagnosed with Celiac and Hashimoto's Disease, diseases that affect the immune system, Liz decided that western medecine had failed her after a long and trying battle with pharmaceuticals. She finally found relief when she made switch to clean eating and cooking, living a very paleo-centric lifestyle and eating nutrient dense food. Since this change, Liz says she now feels better at 37 than she did at 27, when she was originally diagnosed. Health and fitness had always been a focus in Jamel's life, and after finishing his career in the military and corporate America he decided to follow his passions and become a personal trainer. Jamel uses Cannabis for pain management and inflammation, but recognizes the variety of ailments and individuals that can be cured by Cannabis. These two saw a void for truly health-centric edibles in the Cannabis industry, and their expertise in clean eating made them the right people to fill it. But these two do more than just make edibles, along with their non-medicated baking company and digital detox fitness retreats, adding the goodness of Cannabis to these was just another way to help improve lives. They focus on helping clients reset their rhythm and find their balance. The key to their partnership is a shared lifestyle and set of values. They really do practice what they preach, and stand by Cannabis and food as medicine.
Pharmaceuticals stop working, and we even build a tolerance to Cannabis, so finding alternatives is key! Clean eating is a lifestyle choice. It is NOT a diet. This lifestyle focuses on eating whole, unrefined foods. Great care and consideration go into the ingredients chosen to make these edibles truly medicinal. The entire Cannabis plant is used during extraction. This ensures every ounce of goodness in the stems, leaf, roots as well as the flowers is used. Organic, sustainable and California sun grown Cannabis is what's used here, and I believe it is very fitting for the work being done. Just after launching in 2015, they were awarded Healthiest Edible by Edible's List Magazine for their Trail Mix Super Nova Cookie.
Jamel & Liz believe (and I agree) that Cannabis should always be considered a wellness product, and there will always be a need for healthy and effective edibles. Through the trials and tribulations this industry brings, they believe they are here to stay! And I definitely think it's important to support companies who are really out to help people. They call themselves healers, not dealers. As they continue to grow, they hope to work with patients more directly. To focus on the education of Cannabis, food, cooking and training to obtain a healthy and comfortable balance and rhythm.
Last week I had the opportunity to try some really amazing vegan food. If you know me, you know I tried my hand at vegetarianism and it only lasted about a year, and I always broke the rules a little bit anyways. It's definitely a challenge to feel satisfied when you feel like you're missing all these flavors and textures you love. S+M Vegan does such an amazing job at recreating those, I wish I knew how to cook like them! I've seen this vegan chef couple coming up in the Bay Area food scene over the last few years, so it was really a treat to experience one of their last pop-up dinners in San Francisco.
Feastly is a service that provide chefs and diners with a unique dining experience. One reminiscent of a home cooked meal, where guests are encouraged to interact with the chefs and fellow diners. This particular pop-up was hosted at a location named The Lab, a warm, modern space located in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood.
The first course of this four course meal was a delicious spreadable garlic herb cheese, whole grain mustard, and a romaine salad with sesame Caesar dressing with pickled red onion and radishes along with some freshly baked ciabatta. At one point I leaned over to my boyfriend and asked 'is the bread vegan too?' and of course it was. I really didn't know it was possible to achieve such soft spreadable cheese without using dairy, or to replace the umami flavor anchovy gives to Caesar dressing.
The second course was hands down my favorite part of the meal. Pheniox Pasticifico fresh eggless organic pasta coated in cheese and black pepper cream, finished with ground black olive, shaved toasted almonds and Arbequina extra virgin olive oil. The noodles were soft but not chewy, and the flavor was tremendous. Lots of black pepper, but I was not complaining one bit.
The third course was a beautiful plate of petite roasted eggplant, seared lemon and herb sauce, roasted cherry tomatoes topped with fresh herbs and flowers. The sauce was similar to a pesto but a little more complex. The eggplant was rich and juicy. The whole meal was served family style, and the eggplant was a little tricky to split up between us all, but definitely worth the work.
I enjoyed dinner with one of my favorite beers, Tangerine de Brettaville by Almanac Beer Co. Part of their Farm-to-Barrel program, varieties of sour beers are created by aging specific yeasts and fruits in oak barrels to create a complex combination of tart, sweet and funky. This particular beer is a favorite of mine because it's the right amount of sour and the right amount of sweet.
Feastly & S+M Vegan did a fantastic job putting this dinner together. I was really happy that my first time enjoying this food was in this setting, and that my first time in this setting came with such highly anticipated food. I look forward to experiencing the food in a new setting and experiencing the setting with new food. Life is about growing, and eating too.
Growing up in the Napa Valley was something I definitely didn't appreciate until after I left. Change is inevitable in a place like Wine Country. It's hard not to cater to the rich winery owners and tourists who come to pay them, and these tourists expect a level of dining on par with the world renowned wine made in The Valley. We passed through Napa yesterday on the way to see my parents and decided to have lunch at Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's restaurant in Napa, Morimoto Napa.
To start we had the Waygu Beef Carpaccio. Thin cut Waygu Beef marinated in soy and sesame oil with ginger, garlic and topped with fresh cilantro. We instantly thought of the beef carpaccio we passed up in Barcelona in favor of salmon. But after this dish we are definitely planning to have it next time we go back.
My boyfriend ordered the Sea Urchin Carbonara lunch set, which came with a small salad, some veggie tempura with wasabi yogurt dipping sauce and a few pieces of sushi.
The Sea Urchin Carbonara consisted of Santa Barbara sea urchin, udon noodles, english peas, thick cubes of smoked bacon, crispy shallots, poached quail egg and nori slivers. It was incredibly rich, too rich for me but my boyfriend absolutely loved it and ate every bite, but left me plenty of tempura, yum!
I kept things simple and ordered a Soft Shell Crab roll and a Spicy Tuna Roll. I always forget how hard the soft shell crab is to eat in bites like sushi, so it was a challenge for me to eat. The spicy tuna was delicious, you could taste how good and fresh the fish was. I was satisfied with my classic choices.
Dessert was adorable. A S'More Sundae with graham cracker ice cream, soy soaked chocolate and toasted marshmallow on top of a thick slice of graham cracker with more chocolate.
Lunch was satisfying. We went to my parents after a few car dabs in the parking garage. Grilled some summer veggies brought Marley home with us. It was honestly the perfect Saturday.
stoneyxochi. 30 year old California native. proud pothead, Mexicana and woman.