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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Plow: Brunch

31 07 2014

Sometimes I feel like there should be a sign as you enter San Francisco that reads: “SAN FRANCISCO: WE LIKE BRUNCH”. That would pretty much cover it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: brunch is like a sport in SF. Good places are swarmed with people every weekend, especially Sunday. There’s probably a dozen places I could name off hand that will have over a hour wait if you saunter in for brunch around 11am on a Sunday sans reservation. Plow is one of these places.

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As Plow does not take reservations, we had to engage one of the many common SF brunch tactics. But this time, we had a trick up our sleeve: daylight savings time. On daylight savings day (the one in the Spring), you can get there at 10am, and it really is kinda like arriving at 9am. What does this do? Well, it doesn’t get you any more sleep than arriving at 9am, but, it does seem to get you the same wait time as if you arrived an hour earlier. Everyone else is sleeping! And you’re eating awesome brunch. Good work!

Arriving so early meant we had about a ten minute wait, and then we were seated in their long, narrow, daylight-filled dining area. The menu is sort of old-fashioned meets modern — the only coffee is the kind that is held in a bulbous glass coffee pot and poured periodically into your thick-walled ceramic coffee cup, but the food menu puts a little twist on a variety of favorites, and offers a few yummy unique items.

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Despite my inclination to order absolutely everything on the menu (ex: raspberry glazed donut $4.25, chocolate banana bread $4.25, avocado toast $8.25, cold-smoked salmon toast $10, dungeness crab scramble $17), I went with my old favorite, eggs benedict with cold smoked salmon ($17). And, at the recommendation of a friend, my two lady friends and I shared two lemon ricotta pancakes ($5 each, or $13 for a meal of three), which were just as amazing as they were reported to be.

My friends ordered two very similar egg dishes (I can’t exactly remember which was which…):

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And my benedict was pretty much as good as it looks. The hollandaise was homemade, and was more vinegar-y than I’m used to, but was dang good:

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Oy, and that little lemon ricotta pancake? So. Good.

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And by the time we left, this was the line outside. Thank you daylight savings.

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Plow on Urbanspoon





Eat Drink SF: An Epic Foodie Festival (+ Ticket Giveaway)

28 07 2014

Yes, it seems that every other weekend there is some amazing food or beverage festival in this grand city of ours, and next weekend is no exception. The Eat Drink SF festival (formerly SF Chefs) will be taking place at Fort Mason August 1-3, 2014, with a huge variety of events from classes to dinners to parties spanning the three-day event.

eat drink sf

 

As B&C loves to give away tickets to SF food events, there is one pair of tickets ($100 value) up for grabs to the event Up Close and Personal with Fabio Viviani on Saturday August 2 at 2pm! Leave a comment below or email me for deets. (Update: The tickets have been given away, thanks for all the emails!)

eat drink sf viviani

 

As they describe it, “Eat Drink SF is a food and wine event celebrating the unique flavor, diversity and bounty of Northern California. The Grand Tasting is at Fort Mason Center where chefs, winemakers, brewers and distillers will offer an exploration of taste. Classes, seminars, demos, dinners and parties will offer interactive opportunities for the public to participate with local farmers, ranchers, chefs, winemakers, distillers, media, authors, brewers, mixologists and culinary experts in an entertaining and delicious forum.”

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eat drink sf chefs

And, a variety of local restaurant favorites will feature sips and tastes, such as A16, Central Kitchen, CHAYA Brasserie, Commonwealth, Delfina, Frances, Flour + Water, Fog City, La Urbana, Park Tavern, and Tacolicious, not to mention the plethora of chefs including Dominique Crenn, Michael Chiarello, Tyler Florence, Charles Phan, Martin Yan, and Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani.

If I weren’t out of town this weekend, you know where I’d be. If you’re fortunate enough to be in the City this weekend, leave a comment or send me an email (brocandchoc@gmail.com) to snag some free tickets to be entertained by a Top Chef star as he teaches you how to make fresh Orecchiette Pasta with Pesto Sauce. And, check out the rest of the events to see what else tickles your fancy!

 

 

 

eat drink sf collage

(All photos courtesy of the Eat Drink SF Facebook page.)





Coffee-Con 2014 is Coming to SF July 26, with Ticket Giveaway!

17 07 2014

Do you love coffee? So many of us do nowadays. SF has been one of many special places for coffee culture incubation over the last many years, and is now hosting its third annual Coffee-Con on July 26, 2014 at Terra Gallery (511 Harrison, at First). Come one, come all — coffee-lovers unite for Coffee-Con 2014!

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Experience hands-on training classes (because you thought you knew the best practices of coffee creation…), learn about international varieties of coffee and methods of brewing, and, of course, get your caffeine fix with loads of free samples. There will be speakers, live music, and even giveaways for a variety of coffee-related prizes.

And speaking of giveaways… broccoli and chocolate has been graciously given two pairs of tickets to give away to two lucky readers! Please either leave a comment below or email me directly (brocandchoc@gmail.com) for a pair of free tickets ($20 value) to this fun event!

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Haight Ashbury Food Tour — Avital Tours

14 07 2014

Avital Tours is a name I had heard before — but not until she contacted me about a media tour of The Haight had I considered actually joining a tour. But, since I know surprisingly little about the food scene in The Haight, and I wanted to experience one of these famed food tours, I happily accepted.

The tour took place on a bright, sunny day with eight or so other bloggers. Avital herself was there, but another local foodie and food writer, Virginia Miller, was the guide. The tour was three hours long and took us walking in a relatively small area while providing information about a variety of non-food-related historical facts as we made our way to five food and drink establishments.

Avital Tours Haight Ashbury Culinary Map

Avital Tours Haight Ashbury Culinary Map

A fun little map of the Haight provided by Avital is shown above (click to enlarge); the five stops we experienced are described below.

 

Stop 1: Bacon Bacon

This shop is actually really cool, even though I’m not a meat-eater. We got a bit of info from the owner, who was really laid back and knowledgeable, and tried a taco and a bit of Mexican hot chocolate, both graced with pork products. I had informed Avital beforehand that I don’t eat the piggies, and they seamlessly accommodated me without me having to ask again. Smooth.

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bacon Mexican hot chocolate

taco

piggy taco

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veggie taco

 

Stop 2: Alembic

Finally, I got to go to Alembic. This is always on the top SF lists for craft cocktails, and I just had not made it there yet. They have a small food menu, really intricate cocktails, and they’re expanding (maybe open now?) into the adjacent space to make a bit more room for tables (the bar essentially fills up the whole space right now). The Southern Exposure (a spin on the classic Southside cocktail) was extremely refreshing and expertly made. The tiny pickled quail eggs were my very very favorite (you know how much I love pickled things…) and were as yummy as they were adorable.

 

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southern exposure cocktail

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pickled quail eggs

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Alembic

 

Stop 3: Anda Piroshki at Second Act Marketplace

This space used to be the old Red Vic Movie House, and now is working as a community space housing five retail shops and an event space. One of the five shops is Anda Piroshki, where we were able to watch as these traditional Russian treats are made (and then eat them, of course).

piroshkis being made

piroshkis being made

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piroshki

finished piroshki

 

[Stop 3 1/2: The Gardens Behind The Alembic/Second Act Marketplace]

In a small space behind these joint buildings, a garden exists that houses a surprising amount of veggies and herbs used in the creation of the food and beverages served in both establishments. This isn’t open to the public, so we felt pretty special getting a sneak peek at this area along with some information from the building’s owner, Betsy. (I believe this stop isn’t on the regular tour, but thought I’d share.)

garden

 

Stop 4: The Fizzery

Even for The Haight, this place is kooky. Offering hundreds of varieties of small-batch bottled sodas in all flavors and colors, along with enough candy and toffee to make a schoolkid’s head spin, the Fizzery sells a few of its own bottled creations from their facility in The Mission District. They even have a contraption to flash-cool a soda you just bought to be enjoyed on the spot. This place is a trip.

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instant cooling machine!

instant soda-cooling machine!

 

Stop 5: The Ice Cream Bar Soda Fountain

Mimicking a soda-pop shop of yesteryear better than you could possibly imagine (seriously, some real research went into this place), this seemingly simple ice cream shop is really a haven for the funkiest “soda” creations since 1850. Creating their own “tinctures” and “lactarts”, you can not only enjoy a radical sweet treat, but you learn a whole new vocabulary of liquid libations to boot. They also have a wide variety of ice creams (people were even raving about the vegan choices), and they serve lunch as well.

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The “soda” we tried (I use quotes because these are nothing like the carbonated canned drinks we’re familiar with) was a creation invented by the leader of our tour: Dill Lactart Soda. It was milky, but bubbly, and dill-y… I drank the whole thing without being able to place where this should go into my mental rolodex of flavors. It was sweet and tart and just really interesting. This particular flavor isn’t on the menu, but the menu items certainly leave enough interesting choices to last for many visits.

dill lactart soda

dill lactart soda

And that was it! If I wrote everything I learned on this tour, I could write for days. The whole thing was really well executed, the length was perfect (if it had gone on much longer, my dogs would have started barking*), and nothing about moving a group of eight or so from place to place was strained or difficult. And, I learned a heck of a lot more about The Haight than I knew before, which is fun even for a local. Not that she needs more endorsements with all her zillions of five-star Yelp reviews, but I’d definitely give a hearty thumbs up to this tour. Thanks Avital!

*That means my feet would have started hurting.

 








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