Holiday Gift Ideas for Foodies

20 11 2014

Aside from the classic gift card to any number of amazing Bay Area restaurants for the foodie on your list, here are a list of great local(ish) places from which to procure yummy holiday treats for all the stockings you’re preparing to stuff.


TCHO Chocolate

Touting themselves as “The New America Chocolate“, this locally made and conscientiously sourced chocolate is a delicious treat anytime. For the holidays, they have a few great gift options that are as cute as they are yummy.

Lai "Ornaments" Holiday Chocolate Gifts - Starting at $6.95

Lai “Ornaments” Holiday Chocolate Gifts – Starting at $6.95

PureNotes™ Dark Sampler Clear Box 8×8g bar - $7.45

PureNotes™ Dark Sampler Clear Box 8×8g bar – $7.45

Scharffen Berger Chocolate

Ok, you can’t really ever have enough chocolate, right? When we’re talking about local favorites, Scharffen Berger is always another fun one on my list.

Scharffen Berger Tasting Squares Folio Box - $10.35

Scharffen Berger Tasting Squares Folio Box – $10.35

Toffee Talk

If you’re looking for a treat with a bit more pizzazz than plain old chocolate (gasp!), then try a baggie of this SF-made toffee. With just the right ratio of chocolate, nuts, and toffee, and a consistency that’s not too sticky but not too hard, this toffee will surely get an eyebrow raise or two. And rest assured it will be gone quickly — better order an extra bag for yourself. :)

toffee talk toffee pic

Toffee Talk Cello Bag - Starting at $6

Toffee Talk Cello Bag – Starting at $6

Hudson River Popcorn

Made in Menlo Park in small batches, this new-to-the-scene popcorn has been described as “addictive”. Fine, maybe the company itself said that, but it was still said. Either way, this is a yummy snack that’s sure to be fresh to your Bay Area stocking this year.

Hudson River Popcorn Holiday Mix & Match - $21

Hudson River Popcorn Holiday Mix & Match – $21

Rustic Bakery

Oh, Rustic Bakery! Artisanal, organic fine foods and baked goods!! If you’re not able to enjoy one of their cafes in the Marin area, their goods can be found in many specialty shops and they also have a great website for ordering online.

rustic bakery

Rustic Bakery Glazed Gingerbread Tiles - $12

Rustic Bakery Glazed Gingerbread Tiles – $12

Rustic Bakery Handmade Cut Out Sugar Cookies - $7.95

Rustic Bakery Handmade Cut Out Sugar Cookies – $7.95

BBQ Recipe Kit

I know it’s winter time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get ready for summer again. This tiny new company, Bites with Spice, makes a bad-ass BBQ spice mix right here in SF. Gift it now, get a thank you later when it’s time to grill again.

Bites with Spice BBQ Recipe Kit - $9.99

Bites with Spice BBQ Recipe Kit – $9.99

Kind Bars

Ok, these aren’t local — they’re made by a relatively giant nationwide company. But, they’re healthy, delicious snacks that I like to eat instead of all the other stuff made of unpronounceable ingredients on the grocery store shelves. And, they make perfect stocking stuffers. :)

Kind Bars - Typically ~$2/bar

Kind Bars – Typically ~$2/bar



Figone’s Olive Oil

There are a variety of local olive oil purveyors, but Figone’s is my favorite. Manufactured in a modest, unassuming facility in the Napa Valley where you can watch the oils being created in the Fall and Winter and taste the offerings anytime, Figone’s is a fun place to visit and a great gift for pretty much everyone.

I particularly recommend the Tuscan Blend Olive Oil ($12 for 100mL), the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar ($18 for 100mL), and for the splurge, the White Truffle Mushroom Olive Oil ($26 for 60mL). They also offer membership in their La Visione Club which delivers two 250mL bottles quarterly, and includes a discount on any other purchases.

Figone's Olive Oils and Vinegars - 60mL starting at $7, 100mL starting at $12, 250mL starting at $19

Figone’s Olive Oils and Vinegars – 60mL starting at $7, 100mL starting at $12, 250mL starting at $19

Figone's La Visione Club - $48 or $58 per shipment, 4 shipments per year

Figone’s La Visione Club – $48 or $58 per shipment, 4 shipments per year

Bluxome Street Winery

With vines just up the way in Russian River, Bluxome Street Winery is an old school SF-built winery. I have not myself tried the wines, but the place looks rad, and the wines look pretty schmancy. Plus, it’s fun to buy things that are so proudly made in San Francisco.

Bluxome Street Winery 2012 Balinard Vineyard Pinot Noir and Riedel Decanter - $74

Bluxome Street Winery 2012 Balinard Vineyard Pinot Noir and Riedel Decanter – $74

Bluxome Street Winery 53B Wine Club - $200 or $250 for 6 bottles. Shipments 3 times per year.

Bluxome Street Winery 53B Wine Club – $200 or $250 for 6 bottles. Shipments 3 times per year.

Hangar 1 Vodka

This seemingly-innocuous warehouse way out on the tip of Alameda brews some seriously sprightly spirits. Stick with the classic Hangar One Vodka, or branch out to something more exciting by visiting their tasting room…

Hangar 1 Vodka - $35 (four flavors)

Hangar 1 Vodka – $35 (four flavors)

Avital Tours

For the ultimate SF foodie adventure, a guide is always helpful. Take a walk with Avital on one of her food tours of The Mission, North Beach, Union Square, or The Haight. You’ll nibble some of the local neighborhood favorites, listen to tales of all the local legends, and learn a whole heck of a lot more about places you thought you knew.

Avital Tours Walking Food Tours of San Francisco - $68-$88 per person

Avital Tours Walking Food Tours of San Francisco – $68-$88 per person

Happy holidays everyone!

Maine Lobster

17 11 2014

As we move steadily toward winter, I thought I would take a moment to reminisce on a trip to Maine this summer where I ate my first whole Maine lobster, among a few other things… Cue montage music!


Let’s start off with my birthday treat — a (mildly terrifying) whole lobster dinner. I was taught how to eat this beast (fortunately it wasn’t cooked in my presence, though I was prepared to witness this if necessary), and found that I am not terribly skilled at doing so. But, it was yummy!


Because there was a massive storm the night before, these lobsters weren’t able to be purchased from the local fishermen, as was the plan, and were instead acquired from everyone’s favorite Vinalhaven diner: the Harbor Gawker (who purchased them from said local fishermen).

The Harbor Gawker Restaurant, Vinalhaven, ME

The Harbor Gawker Restaurant, Vinalhaven, ME

Note that everyone who isn’t me pronounces this like the locals, which sounds something like “Haw-bah Gaw-kah”, and ensured that I had no idea what anyone was saying the first dozen times it was referenced in my presence. Fortunately, their signs are in normal English, even if their accent isn’t, so upon arrival to the restaurant, I was able to discern the name. I also enjoyed my very first lobster roll courtesy of the Harbor Gawker, and it was pretty dang good.


A very, very recent addition to this particular tiny island town is an uncharacteristically chic restaurant called Salt. We were able to get reservations, and pay SF prices for a very SF-style dinner. It was great, and made me feel right at home.

Scallops Gasperini ($13) - scallop crudo, seared scallop, citrus oil, caper aioli

Scallops Gasperini ($13) – scallop crudo, seared scallop, citrus oil, caper aioli from Salt

House Cured Salmon ($14) with avocado cream, dilled potato salad, crisps from Salt

House Cured Salmon ($14) with avocado cream, dilled potato salad, crisps from Salt

House-cut Pappardelle Pasta ($20) from Salt

House-cut Pappardelle Pasta ($20) from Salt

Pan-seared Local-caught Halibut ($25) from Salt

Pan-seared Local-caught Halibut ($25) from Salt

And finally, after returning to the mainland, but before leaving the state, I did get to enjoy a personal favorite of mine with a little twist of Maine: a lobster Benedict.

Lobster Benedict -- booya.

Lobster Benedict — booya.


B&C turns 5!!!

13 11 2014

Everyone says how kids grow up so fast. No one says this about blogs. Blogs usually sputter and fade over the months and years, unlike a growing human who, at five years old, would be wholeheartedly (or halfheartedly) attending soccer practice when she’s not at kindergarten or hanging out with Amy, her first BFF. (Although, seriously, Amy can be kinda bratty sometimes and WILL NOT share her Legos, and, honestly, her Elsa costume this year was just ew.*)

courtesy of

Yes, this is a round of cheese with candles, courtesy of

Anyway, odd tangential commentary aside, Broccoli and Chocolate celebrates its fifth year this November, and these are the things I have to say about it:

  1. Food is still awesome.
  2. I love writing things, even if my mom is the only person who reads them.
  3. I have 84 followers as of this moment; it’s really nice of my mom to open so many email accounts just for me.
  4. This post will be my 215th. That’s an average of one post published every 8.5 days over the last five years.
  5. I currently have 63,558 page views. That’s an average of 34.8 views per day over the last five years.

So, moving forward to year six, here are my hopes and dreams:

  1. Launch my new and improved site that’s been in the works for the last few months… yeay!
  2. Post more food news, events, and giveaways, in addition to restaurant reviews.
  3. Perhaps branch out to interviews or more exclusive coverage of food-related stuffs? I’m kinda spitballing at this point.
  4. Any suggestions, readers (mom)?

Thanks for the past five years; I look forward to year six!

*Apparently this 5 year old has a highly developed bitchiary gland.


The Square Bar & Kitchen

9 11 2014

I would like to hereby welcome one of North Beach’s most recent additions to the restaurant scene: The Square Bar & Kitchen. Just across the street from Washington Square Park (see what they did there?), and taking the place of the former Bottle Cap (and even more former Washington Square Bar & Grill), The Square opened in March of this year serving upscale, creative takes on classic American dishes.

Delicious homemade bread starter at The Square

Delicious homemade bread starter at The Square


Artistic butter.

The Square is the latest creation of Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara, owners of Sons & Daughters on Bush ($98 tasting menu, no a la carte options) and Sweet Woodruff on Sutter (20-seat casual counter service and take-out only). The food at The Square appears to fit squarely in the middle of their other two restaurants, offering upscale a la carte dining with a full bar and lounge.




Two awesome things about The Square:

  1. The Farm: The owners run an 83-acre farm in the Santa Cruz mountains — Dark Hill Farm — from which they source as much of their food as possible for all three of their restaurants. This farm is not open to the public, nor does it sell to any other restaurants or stores. Talk about local — I’m certainly impressed by their dedication.
  2. Open Late: If you’re not feeling so philosophical about where your food comes from, what it all means, and double rainbows, you might just be looking for a place to eat in North Beach around, say, 11pm. You’ll notice that your choices start to slim down rapidly as the moon shines on, but The Square offers food until midnight and bevs until 1am every night.
The Square dinner menu June 2014

The Square dinner menu June 2014

The Square dinner menu August 2014

The Square dinner menu August 2014

I’ve now been twice for dinner and both times the service was impeccable, the drinks were great, and the food was worth writing blogs about. It’s not cheap — the bill for two people was around $130 both times — but it’s definitely worth it. You could easily cut back on drinks and dessert to get the price down (we got an appetizer or two, two meals, dessert, and two drinks each… we weren’t exactly feeling thrifty).





Fried green beans with dill aioli ($6), sooo amazing


The menu appears to change often, with some classics staying on all the time. Also, the facility is relatively large for SF — a 90-seat dining room goes a long way on a busy night. AND, they now serve brunch on weekends (score!) and have a good happy hour from 3-6pm every day. So. There’s obviously something here for pretty much anyone, anytime, even all you squares out there.



complimentary lavendar cookies and dessert wine!

complimentary lavendar cookies and dessert wine!


The Square on Urbanspoon

News: Michelin San Francisco Bay Area 2015

27 10 2014

Michelin has recently released their annual listing for star rated restaurants in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, and once again my mouth waters with desire. The only place I’ve been on the SF list is State Bird Provisions, though I’ve certainly perused many of the other winners’ websites longingly in the past.

Deliciousness from State Bird Provisions

Deliciousness from State Bird Provisions

Two questions:

  1. Is is a requirement to have a $100 minimum per person tasting menu to get more than one star?
  2. Should Sir and Star be getting pretty close to making the list?

Ok, that’s all my editorializing for now. If anyone wants to sponsor me to try any of these restaurants, I accept. :)

Benu, San Francisco
French Laundry (The), Yountville
Restaurant at Meadowood (The), St. Helena
Saison, San Francisco

Acquerello, San Francisco
Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
Baumé, Palo Alto
Coi, San Francisco
Manresa, Los Gatos
Quince, San Francisco

All Spice, San Mateo
Ame, San Francisco
Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford
Aziza, San Francisco
Bouchon, Yountville
Boulevard, San Francisco
Campton Place, San Francisco
Chez TJ, Mountain View
Commis, Oakland
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Forestville
Gary Danko, San Francisco
Keiko à Nob Hill, San Francisco
Kusakabe, San Francisco
La Folie, San Francisco
La Toque, Napa
Luce, San Francisco
Madera, Menlo Park
Madrona Manor, Healdsburg
Maruya, San Francisco
Michael Mina, San Francisco
Plumed Horse, Saratoga
Solbar, Calistoga
Sons & Daughters, San Francisco
SPQR, San Francisco
Spruce,San Francisco
State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
Terra, St. Helena
Terrapin Creek, Bodega Bay
Village Pub (The), Woodside
Wakuriya, San Mateo

Giveaway: Diestel Turkey Roast + $50 Whole Foods Gift Card

18 10 2014

Update: And per the internet’s very best random number generator… the winner is Alice Williams of Honestly Fitness! Congratulations Alice, I hope you enjoy the roast and gift card! Thanks to everyone for entering. :)

Wow, the mother of all giveaways, right? Free things from Whole Foods Market – yeay!

combo pics

Just because I don’t eat meat, doesn’t mean that you don’t — and if you do, you may as well eat meat which was raised humanely and thoughtfully using no antibiotics or hormones. In addition to a variety of other poultry and meat products raised on GAP-rated farms in the Sierra Nevada foothills, Diestel offers a boneless natural light/dark roast that’s hand-netted and ready to cook to perfection in your oven.

If you’d like to sample this turkey in preparation for your holiday menu creations (and you live in the SF area), leave a comment below or send me an email! Note that this roast is only available for pickup at the San Francisco Franklin Street location. AND, you’ll also receive a $50 Whole Foods Market gift card to spend on other great foods and beverages to complete the meal! Update: Alice Williams has won this contest, yeay!

creative commons

creative commons

Whole Foods has a great selection of the highest quality holiday (and anytime) fare to help you create meals that are fresh, healthy, and delicious. They endorse this quality with offerings such as cage-free eggs, products with no high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils, and turkeys from farms certified to the GAP program. And don’t forget that the Whole Foods website offers recipes, information on GMOs and other hot food topics, and coupons for your next trip.

And, when you’re in the store, they’ve got people to help you choose wine, cheese (omg, have you seen their cheese selection? best.), and help with anything else you might need to plan an amazing holiday (or other) meal. Ok, you know how much I like Whole Foods now… time for you to leave a comment so you can get a basket full of all your favorites on us. :)


Pier 23

6 10 2014

Let me tell you why I love Pier 23. The food is decent, the cocktails are mediocre, and the service can be sporadic. Ok, those are not reasons I love Pier 23, but I keep going because it’s such a cool place despite all these things.

The front of Pier 23, as shown on their website

The front of Pier 23, as shown on their website

Pier 23 is one of those places in a big city that feels like is has history. It’s got an old-fashioned, super casual vibe to it, but it’s popping with patrons young and old, so it still feels alive and fun. It’s small and oddly-placed along the vast waterfront full of cavernous, mysterious pier buildings – a welcoming oasis along this often inaccessible-seeming stretch.


Rear patio tent seating

Bay views to the north

Bay views to the north

The marquis out front, as shown on their website

The marquis out front, as shown on their website

A couple things that are a bit more tangible: outdoor bay-side seating, both in the open air and under a tent-like, clear-walled enclosure. I generally opt for the latter since it’s almost always breezy out there, but it’s nice to have both options. Another feature: live music. In the indoor bar area that I would generally describe as a dive bar, they often have musical guests that really round out the feel of the whole place. Last time I was there, they had a rad blues band with a rockin’ piano player. I was smiling and tapping my foot even before we walked in the door.

Shrimp and scallop ceviche -- $16

Shrimp and scallop ceviche — $16

Olives -- $7

Olives — $7

Baked oysters -- $10

Baked oysters — $10

The food is hit and miss, but as long as you’re not expecting gourmet, you’ll be fine. The baked parmesan oysters ($10 for 3) were actually pretty dang good, and I recall enjoying the tuna poke tostada ($12) quite a bit in the past. The pricing is a bit higher than I would expect, but this is primo territory, tourist and otherwise, so I wouldn’t really expect anything less. Plus, I’m actually happy to pay a bit more for seafood dishes… cheap shrimp always scares me.

If you’re heading down the Embarcadero and looking for a place to greet you with a smile, a cold beer, and amazing views of our beautiful bay, stop in to Pier 23 and soak up the San Francisco charm.



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