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

18 10 2014

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

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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, 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! 

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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. :)

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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.

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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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Giveaway: Blaze Pizza!

29 09 2014

Earlier this year, Blaze Pizza caught fire in the Bay Area, just one of many places where the flames are spreading around the nation. The concept is simple: home-made, thin crust dough; artisanal choose-your-own toppings; 180 seconds in their open-flame oven for “fast fire’d” perfection. Sounds good to me.

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From the Blaze Pizza facebook page

If it sounds good to you too, and you’re ever around the Fremont area, they’ve kindly given me some gift cards for one free pizza each. Leave a comment below or email me at brocandchoc@gmail.com and you can try your own pizza for free. Yeay!

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Stay tuned as they make their way ever closer to our fair city… rumor is that new locations are opening all the time and SF is on the short list.

Additional note: their short dessert menu includes a “S’more Pie”. Me want one!

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Short Review: Padrecito

23 09 2014

I had dinner at Padrecito last weekend — a newer, stylish Mexican restaurant in Cole Valley. My experience was so-so. While the decor, atmosphere, and menu are well done, I simply wasn’t terribly impressed with what I ordered, nor with the service. As this was my first time in the restaurant, I’ll give the latter the benefit of the doubt, but my lack of enthusiasm probably won’t have me returning terribly soon.

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The menu is contemporary Mexican, with a focus on local and organic (welcome to San Francisco), which is great. There are a variety of interesting tacos, enchiladas, salads, and ceviches. We ordered the fish ceviche ($14), kale salad ($12), and salmon tacos ($13) with chips and salsa/guac for the table. While it was a bit pricey, at least the portions were reasonably sized, as compared to La Urbana, for example. The food was decent, but nothing extraordinary.

As for the service: our waitress was kind though unenthusiastic, but our order came out totally backward (entrees first, then chips and salsa, then appetizer), which was disappointing. The drink menu is cool, showing a little icon of each drink indicating the type of glass it comes in and the proportions of the drink. The drinks are pretty stellar, actually, and they have an attached unit with a bar, which might be the more desirable spot for me in this particular case.

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Upcoming Event: The PopUp Dinner SF

7 09 2014

Have you heard of pop up restaurants? This is usually where a small gathering of people share a meal cooked by a well-known or amateur chef in a temporary location. They are often relatively impromptu, and generally focus on community and hospitality. The PopUp Dinner hosted by Handmade Events takes this concept to a whole new level by gathering thousands of people together to share in a picnic dinner for one evening of the year. The catch? The location is not disclosed until 3pm on the day of the event.

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I was cordially invited to attend this year as a VIP guest and will be waiting patiently to hear where I’m supposed to go this Friday September 12, 2014. All tables and chairs are provided, but guests bring all the rest including food, drinks, and table decor. Everyone is required to wear all white attire to symbolize the simplicity of the event and a the blank slate of new opportunities. In addition to this massive picnic-party, there will also be a live performance by Ben Folds!!

The event is sold out this year, so unless you know someone with tickets (they’re transferable — ahem — Craigslist — ahem), you may have to wait until next year to attend. I’m not entirely sure what to expect, but it certainly looks like a good time!

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Photos courtesy of Handmade Events





Scharffen Berger Chocolate Event

1 09 2014

Last week I was invited to a Scharffen Berger chocolate and wine pairing event at a local waterfront restaurant, Waterbar. As you might imagine, I accepted this invitation immediately. As is the norm, I wasn’t sure the actual format for this event (dinner? snacks? sit down or mingling? small gathering or large? bloggers only or others?), but it did not disappoint. And they told us about their new advertising campaign, which is actually really creative and engaging.

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To start — the event. They rented out a small-ish room on the second floor of the restaurant which has a balcony that overlooks the bay and the bridge. It was beautiful! They had chocolate samples, an open bar station with wine and cocktails, and a few cocktails for people to chat around. My friend, Kate, and I spent a bit of time talking with John Sharffenberger about chocolate and wine and Netflix shows as we enjoyed a delicious selection of roving appetizers (ex: tuna tartar, crab cakes, stuffed pasta bites).??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Kate and me with Scharffen Berger execs, including John Scharffenberger

Kate and me with Scharffen Berger execs, including John Scharffenberger

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Mr. Sharffenberger gave a bit of a speech, as did some of the other executives and marketing people, which told us a bit about the company, and then explained their new marketing campaign: wonderfully complicated. It’s a great idea — chocolate, along with red wine, is one of the most complex foods (like, scientifically), engaging a myriad of unique taste sensors in your mouth. Weaving in the uniqueness of each of their customers, they came up with the term “wonderfully complicated” to describe both their product, and the people who consume it.

John Scharffenberger gives a speech

John Scharffenberger gives a speech

Another speech with me in the foreground

Another speech with me in the foreground

The ingenious way they’ve incorporated this into a marketing strategy is via Instagram. Take a picture of yourself and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #wonderfullycomplicated. After you do so, Scharffen Berger will re-post your selfie overlain with three random descriptors that could be used to describe chocolate or, indeed, you. They display these on their Instagram and Facebook feeds. AND, as a bonus to SF folks only, if you geotag your location, your photo will appear on the bus stop ad nearest you:

I really liked how interactive and clever this idea is. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s a win-win for the company and the customers. Good job marketing people!

The event then moved to the wine and chocolate pairing, where we all gathered around the cocktail tables and were instructed how to try a variety of different wines, and how to “pair” them with certain chocolates. It was very interesting how the flavor of the wines changed as you munched on a certain type of chocolate. It was delicious and fun!

Wine and chocolate pairing

Wine and chocolate pairing

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After the tasting, a delicious buffet of food arrived, and we all enjoyed chips and guac, shrimp tacos, fish tacos, chicken skewers, lobster rolls, and more. It was quite a party! As we finally made our way to leave, the lovely hosts from the PR firm suggested we each take home a flower arrangement, complete with adhered chocolate decorations; a gift bag with a bottle of wine and TEN (yes, ten) chocolate bars of different varieties; and a poster (probably 18″x24″) that they had somehow made using a photo they took of us upon our arrival (I hadn’t thought anything of it at the time) and had printed into one of their ad campaign formats with three words overlaying our smiling faces. It was great!

The whole thing was really well done — great food, delicious chocolate, amazing location — and was just a whole lot of fun. And now I can’t wait to get one of my #wonderfullycomplicated selfies up on Instagram!

 





Corazonas Oatmeal Squares

18 08 2014

The nice people at Corazonas approached me recently about their heart-healthy, oatmeal-based snack bars. They sent me a few to try, and I have to say that I really liked them.

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These snack bars are similar in size to a Clif Bar, which has historically been my go-to “energy” bar-type snack (though I have more recently moved to Kind Bars). Corazonas are different: they are softer and fresher-seeming, almost like an oatmeal cookie, but not so sweet. They have a variety of flavors available: banana walnut, chocolate brownie & almonds, blueberry, cranberry flax, chocolate chip, and more — and most of them I tried were really tasty.

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The big claim to fame for these particular snack bars is that they are fortified with plant sterols — compounds that occur naturally in fruits, veggies, and other foods that have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol. Nutrition facts and ingredients for each flavor are also posted on the website for your viewing pleasure; in summary, each bar has about 180 to 200 calories, five grams of fiber, and six grams of protein (and 5-8 grams of fat, and around 30 grams of carbs, if you care about more things than I do).

While I’m sad that these snacks aren’t available at the small natural food store by my house, they are accessible to most Bay Area-ites via Safeway, select Costcos, and other local stores like Andronico’s and Berkeley Bowl. Anyone who likes “energy” bars, or just likes quick snacks for work, school, home, or on the go, I would definitely encourage you to try Corazonas.

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