The Foodie Gift Guide

Being that we still have two days left of Hanukkah and one week until Christmas, I wanted to provide a few of current wishlist items to help anyone still shopping for the foodies in their life (even if that foodie is yourself)!  From coffee to cocktails, and everything in between, below are a few of the top picks also seen in the Girls on Food Gift Guide: http://www.girlsonfood.net/2017/12/girls-on-foods-foodie-holiday-gift-guide.html

DSC_0037
For the Millennial cocktail enthusiast: Abolut Elyx Copper Drinking Vessels
Send the perfect gift to the amateur bartender in your life, providing them with Instagram-worthy copper bar tools and drink-ware for every occasion. Shake up the holidays with curated boxes fit for all cocktail lovers, from the iconic Copper Pineapple to the gift sets that satisfy what every cocktail enthusiast really wants for the holidays: to make fancy and delicious cocktails at home with snazzy copper mugs.  Embracing all the current beverage trends, Moscow Mules, pineapples, engravings, copper-everything, premium drinking vessels and beverage tools, these gift sets are perfect for enhancing any drinking occasion. The official drinking glass of the Moscow Mule, Absolut Elyx’s copper mugs are preferred glassware of not only home mixologists but also of many restaurants and bars, being perfect at keeping drinks cold and extremely photogenic for the ‘Gram. #CopperMakesItBetter

fullsizeoutput_1383
For the caffeine addict: Stumptown Blend Trio

Everyone knows that three is better than one, especially when it comes to coffee. With locations in Portland, Seattle, NYC, New Orleans, Chicago and Los Angeles, and shipping nationwide, this premium coffee brand will definitely get the recipient more excited than just a regular bag of Starbucks. Whether you’re looking for a coffee gift for a committed pour over enthusiast or a newbie who just purchased their first Chemex, these popular beans from the acclaimed Portland-based coffee roaster are just the ticket. This introduction into Stumptown’s coffee collection is a tasty way to hone one’s palate, as the Blend Trio allows you to try all of their fan-favorite blends side by side.

fullsizeoutput_13c9For the hostess with the mostest: Gooseneck Board & Chambray Cocktail Napkins
The Gooseneck Board is a beautiful addition to any kitchen and makes a great gift, with it’s strips of walnut and stunning finish providing a subtle yet eye-catching contrast. The uniquely angled handle is rounded to fit warmly in your hand, and makes this board perfect for anything from paring kiwis to serving midday sandwiches and charcuterie. The Chambray Cocktail Napkins also provide an elevated complement to your hors d’oeuvre and cocktails, breaking the habit of using paper cocktail napkins! These thoughtfully curated goods, crafted with care in the USA, are sure to put a smile on the face of any host/hostess.

fullsizeoutput_13c1For the lactose intolerant: Almond Cow + Good Grips Pop Containers
This combination is perfect for those unable to digest cow’s milk, as they can keep their nuts fresh in the Good Grips Pop Containers, readily available for use with their Almond Cow! The Almond Cow is the most efficient way of home-making alternatives milks; it’s as simple as soaking nuts in water for a few hours, transferring the nuts in the grinder, pouring the desired water quantity to the fill line, and pressing the button on top. Then viola, within 30 seconds they will have the best nut milk of their lives! As if that wasn’t enough, they can add natural sweeteners in with the nuts, such as dates and maple syrup!

fullsizeoutput_13d5For the man’s man: Whisky Stones
For the most incredible man in the world, you need a gift that matches his manly beverage tendencies, especially if he’s a whiskey or bourbon lover. And if he’s on Santa’s naughty list, you can always joke that it’s coal!

DSC_0120For the supertaster: 33 Types of Beer, Wine, and Coffee books
A gift that’s BOUND to delight, these small gifts don’t skimp on quality and thoughtfulness. Based on the recipients main beverage preference, the 33 Types of Beer, Wine, and Coffee books are the perfect companion to take with you to breweries/wineries/cafes for palate development at every level. Who doesn’t love beer tasting / wine tasting / new coffee shops?

fullsizeoutput_1386
For the Jedi / Sith Lord: Star Wars Light Up Chop Sabers

These are the chopsticks you’re looking for! Let’s be honest, every Star Wars enthusiast wishes they could have their own light saber, and every sushi lover knows the benefits of non-splintering chopsticks. These light-up chop sabers will change the way one experiences their favorite Asian foods, and are sure to lead one on a truly epic dining adventure.

fullsizeoutput_13c6
For the vegetarian: The Love & Lemons Cookbook + OXO Salad Spinner
Provide the inspiration needed for the vegetarian/vegan in your life with the most elegant cookbook, full of recipes they’ll actually utilize, marble imagery on the cover, and stunning vegetable photography throughout, hitting on every vegetable from A to Z! To complement the cookbook, a salad spinner will help them get started on the many different variations of salad recipes included!

fullsizeoutput_13d6
For the home cook: Joule Sous Vide
While sous vide has long been thought of something only for high-end chefs and fancy meals, it really is such a simple concept and an easy way to get perfect results for both entertaining and everyday meals. The Joule, with it’s small size, stunning design, high power, and app that guides you in a way that other apps can’t, makes it easy for any home chef to enjoy sous vide. Basically, if you have a smart phone and you don’t like dry, tough meat or poultry, then it’s for you and your loved ones. (Note, sous-vide is a method of cooking in which food is vacuum-sealed in a plastic pouch (a Ziplock freezer bag does the trick) and is then placed in a water bath at an accurately regulated temperature lower than normally used for cooking. The intent is to retain moisture and cook the steak/chicken/fish evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside. The sous vide method has been the secret to success for high end restaurants, and it’s about time you had the ability to make the same quality meals at your own home!)

fullsizeoutput_1391.jpeg
For the craftsman: Littledeer Wooden Spoons
The craftsman will appreciate the supreme workmanship of the Littledeer wooden spoons, made by hand and available at your local Williams Sonoma. Elevate their kitchen accessory game by providing them with necessities such as the Omelette Paddle (useful with low-profile non-stick pans), Straining Scoop (capture olives in a jar and serve perfect poached eggs), and Serving Spoon (pretty enough to use for dishing out pastas table-side and sturdy enough to sauté with).

fullsizeoutput_1382.jpeg
For the farmers market devotee: The Organic Cook’s Bible
From those new to the organic train, to those looking for more information to the “Is it organic?” question or for your friend who is always prepared with an explanation on the benefits on going organic, this book is perfect! This cookbook-meets-dictionary is one of the best tools on how to select and cook the best ingredients on the market.

fullsizeoutput_13d0
For the guy who only asks you to bring beer: Beer Greetings
This year, do better than just bringing a simple greeting card or pack of beer that you grabbed from the convenience store on your way over; be prepared with Beer Greetings! Transform their favorite six pack into a thoughtful gift for the holiday party, satisfying their desire for beer while avoiding the I-forgot-the-gift guilt.

fullsizeoutput_137f
For the winner of most holiday spirit: Stocking Stuffer Christmas Sweater
Taking the Christmas Sweater game to the next level, the Stocking Stuffer Ugly Christmas Sweater comfortably fits an entire bottle of wine, making it is the best party trick! People will be showering you with compliments on your taste in ugly holiday sweaters when you show up in this nostalgic top.

fullsizeoutput_139c
For the aspiring sommelier: Centellino Wine Decanter
Stunning craftsmanship and elegance make this wine decanter a gift even your sommelier will admire. Made of 100% hand-blown Italian glass, this top-of-the-bottle aerator is designed to enrich the flavor of a single glass of wine. Warning: Its beauty causes an immediate desire to open a bottle of wine; always make sure vino is readily available when opening!

DSC_0227
For the one dreaming of a tropical Christmas: Palm Springs Wine Charms
Palm trees, flamingos, pineapples, oh my! Rose gold metal and colorful enamel fills make them the perfect fun-meets-classy wine glass accessory. Wine drinkers and hosts alike will love the addition to their glassware collection, with charms that can be used year-round! After all, everyone could use a tropical vacation, and for some having a White Christmas is overrated.

Tahi Honey 3-9742_10+
For the health nut: Manuka Honey

Manuka Honey is known as the divine healing honey, being capable of clearing up inflammed skin and acne, to digestive troubles to remedying a cough, making it as close to a magical food as you can get. On top of that, this honey is raw, carbon-neutral, and environmentally friendly, which is especially important given that manuka honey is only made from bees that feed on the manuka tree. With such elegant packaging and delicious flavor profiles, it may be difficult to give away this honey to others.

fullsizeoutput_13da.jpeg
For the one who always adds guac: Avocado Monthly
The gift that keeps on gifting; an Avocado Monthly Subscription will keep the holiday spirit going for at least a few more months! These organic avocados are plucked straight from the tree and then shipped directly to the recipient, providing the best, freshest version of the the already-beloved avocado. Each 6-piece box includes a range of avocado varieties from the “Avocado Capital of the World,” Fallbrook, California!

DSC_0225.JPG
For the environmentally conscious: Seed Bearing Lollipops

Finally, a candy you can truly feel good about indulging in, as you can eat your lollipop and plant it (the stick) too! These pops are individually wrapped with pastelle packaging, and are available in flavors such as Lavender & Lemongrass, Rosemary & Mint, Lemon & Thyme, Peach & Marigold, and Vanilla & Hibiscus. The lollipop stick is biodegradable, so when you’re finished with the sucker you plant the stick and it will decompose and grow into the same herb or flower sprinked throughout the candy! The bundles are perfect for handing out to friends this holiday seasons, and the individuals make for great stocking stuffers!

fullsizeoutput_13c3
For the roommate who needs a little reminder: Dishwasher magnets

This helpful reminder as to whether or not the dishwasher can be emptied will solve your dishwasher struggles. This practical, affordable magnet also comes in different versions: we recommend the simple teal and black for female roommates, and the beer version for your male roommates!

GE Appliances’ FirstBuild

GE Appliances’ FirstBuild

For the techie: Paragon Smart Cooking System by FirstBuild
Think your food-science nerd has everything?  Think again!  The Paragron Smart Cooking System serves more than just one function, and will impress anyone interested in keeping up with the Jetsons.  The Paragon induction cooktop and Bluetooth-connected temperature probe works with pots you probably already have in your cabinets (any that are induction compatible) and keeps the temperature evenly distributed and consistent for sous vide cooking, deep frying, sautéing, or stir-frying.. With this type of precision cooking, the world is your oyster!

Cheers,
Meagan
@CaffeineAddictFoodie

Advertisements

Why haven’t I gone here before?

I didn’t know what to expect, which was likely why I’d never stopped to try out the new coffee shop on the block.  Why had no one in my coffee-loving circle suggested this before?  It’s mentioned on Thrillist’s Things to Do in Manhattan Beach and South Bay, but the change in name somehow felt discouraging (it was previously The Fika Company, as noted in Eater’s article from around this time last year, The South Bay’s Newest Coffee Roaster Looks to Make Waves in Redondo).

The Location & Atmosphere:
After a countless number of times driving by, with curiosity arising every passing, when my childhood friend, Jessica, asked if I wanted to grab a coffee at The Boy & The Bear while waiting for our table across the street at Eat At Joe’s, I jumped at the opportunity.  The three of us ordered the pour-over coffee, as this seems to be what they’re known for, if for nothing more than it’s presentation combining art and science: from copper gooseneck kettles to glass beakers.  I asked if the copper from the kettle and filters was selected for any specific reason, such as an effect on the taste, etc., and she noted that they use all copper to be consistent for branding purposes, as the logo of a boy riding a bear is also the same metallic copper.

My respect for The Boy & The Bear only increased when I saw they have their own roaster within the shop, as it really lets you know that they understand the importance of small batch coffee.  The large space felt inviting; there were large groups of people coming for their daily coffee, both for here & to go, yet it never felt loud or too crowded to be uncomfortable.  It’s both a great place to sit with a good book and meet up with friends for casual conversation.  We sat on the wooden benches outside, and because of my luck it started to drizzle.  The large umbrella protected us enough for a while, until it started to pour and we opt’d to go inside; luckily this gave me the opportunity to geek out and further explain the pour-over process to Jess and her beau.

The Coffee:
Jessica and I both chose the Luz Gonzalez specialty Colombian coffee, supporting the female coffee grower of shade-grown coffee plants 1,730 meters above sea level.  They had four different specialty coffees to choose from, and I was attracted to Luz from the tasting note of “Peach like sweetness” from the display board. Although it was a boutique, I felt the coffee was disappointing, weak, and lacking the flavor I was hoping for.  Even though Jessica and I ordered the same coffee, it was made by different baristas, and mine was significantly more bitter and bland.  It was supposed to have a creamy medium body, but it felt and tasted closer to a light roast, possibly due to the lack of attention to the water quantities and temperature.  Unfortunately it didn’t have any of the exciting stone-fruit tasting notes, which I was expecting from seeing “Peach” in the “Notes in Cup” description.  I did enjoy the sugar cane after taste, and it was a pleasant drinking experience, but I would opt for a different variety on my next visit.

DSC_0801.JPG

The Process:
The friendly barista preparing my coffee was new and wasn’t sure of the exact water temperature (she said it was somewhere between 180-200 degrees for all pour-over coffees) but she did check the grind size when I asked; it was a 8 on the scale of 1-11.  They use a 1:15 ratio for coffee to water, while the gram quantity of beans differs based on which coffee they’re using.

fullsizeoutput_12d1

Before pouring your coffee in the cup, they first pour water in the ceramic for heating purposes.

dsc_0812

Then they pour your coffee into both the glass beaker and cup for your leisurely enjoyment!

DSC_0816.JPG

The Area:
The South Bay of Los Angeles (aka the “Beach Cities”) really need additional coffee shops, as Two Guns Espresso and The Boy & The Bear Specialty Coffee Roastery are not enough to service the coffee-loving community out here!

Trend Alert: Alternative Milks

 

It’s really exciting to see so many coffee shops jumping on the alternative milk chain, from larger chains like Starbucks to local artisan cafes.  It used to be that the only non-dairy alternative was soy, but now you can easily find coconut and almond at almost every coffee shop, with hemp milk and cashew milk on the rise.

Stay on the lookout for any new options coming your way!

Réveille Coffee

Saturday mornings should always start out like this.

Robyne and I ventured to North Beach in San Francisco to get brunch at Park Tavern (which was epic and I highly recommend, especially for the avocado toast). Afterwords we looked on Thrillist’s guide to SF Coffee Shops (Source: https://www.thrillist.com/drink/san-francisco/best-sf-coffee-shops-neighborhood-guide) and saw that Réveille was recommended for North Beach. Since it was pretty close to Park Tavern, we decided to continue our adventure and walk over.

At Réveille Coffee Co., the approach is simple: They offer unparalleled coffee, food, hospitality and service. The staff was extremely friendly and knowledgable, the space was modern, clean and very open, the beverages were high quality, and there was a perfect patio outside with ample seating.

Robyne chose to try their cold brew while I ordered the iced almond milk latte, mostly because I really wanted to try their espresso-based beverages (I also had a shot of straight espresso to really experience the full flavor profiles, without the dilution and distraction from the almond milk). 

While waiting for our beverages we got to talking with the chatty barista Michael who informed us that Réveille only started roasting their coffee a month ago (this is only the 4th time they’ve roasted the Paradise Espresso). They started with a truck, and now have 3 brick & mortar stores and are roasting their beans in the Mission. Prior to roasting their own beans, they were one of Four Barrel’s largest wholesale accounts. Apparently they thought it was going to be a hard switch, but the transition has been going really well for the internal teams. They admit they still have a lot to learn, but their roaster Aaron has put a lot of love into his work and the entire team is embracing it.

The espresso blend was comprised of beans from Guatemala, Colombia, and Brazil, and they’re really excited to hone in the technique of getting the espresso exactly where they want it, which goes back to how coffee is really a perfect blend of art and science. The espresso was full of dark chocolate and traditional espresso on the nose, with tasting notes of vanilla, dark chocolate, and orange peel, with the bitterness of cherry. There was a crisp bite to the espresso, which reminded me of the Monkey Bite espresso from Bird Rock Coffee Roaster in San Diego. They use the Califia Barista Blend of Almond Milk, which really smoothed out the intense flavor of the espresso for a perfect almond milk latte.

Fun Fact: The Réveille website offers step-by-step brewing techniques for your at-home coffee indulgence. My personal favorite is for Chemex: http://www.reveillecoffee.com/chemex  

Website: http://www.reveillecoffee.com/

Address: 200 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
   
   

#throwbackthursday

Considering October 21, 2015 is now a day in the past, I felt it appropriate that I #throwbackthursday to my first experience visiting a coffee roasting facility back in 2013. (In case you didn’t see the posts on social media serving as a reminder, yesterday was the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown went to the future to save Marty’s kids in the 1989 film Back to the Future II.) 

Gary, the co-founder of Caffe Luxxe, provided a wonderful tour of their roasting facilities and training area.  While he ground the beans for my latte’s espresso, he walked me through some of the basics, explaining their methodology, history, product line, and barista program. This extremely positive experience has stayed with me and provided the foundation for my interest in quality coffee, in addition to a easy decision when I see menus that say “Serving Caffe Luxxe.”

   
    
   

Simply Presenting Beautiful Coffee

Bar Nine is tucked away on a side street in Culver City with a nondescript facade, with only the number 9 on a gate making it known you’re in the right place. You enter to see a bar and roasting facilities, and despite being a hipster warehouse, the industrial setting is comfortable and inviting.

The coffee of the day at Bar Nine is Kayu Peaberry from Murang’a, Kenya, with intense bursts of boysenberry and passion fruit, and nuanced sweetness. Seeing as how peaberry is my weakness, being my preferred choice for black coffee, I was thrilled to find it also makes a wonderfully smooth cold brew. When mixed with their hazelnut milk, made in house daily, the cold brew picks up a strong caramel color. The hazelnut milk provides the perfect balancing act, with a hint of nuttiness playing off the sweet fruit flavors of the peaberry.  

Bar Nine’s coffee program is unique in that it only has one coffee available per day, which can be served any way you can think of, ranging from espresso to drip coffee. They have three coffees in rotation on the menu, with each week owning one of these varieties. They roast all of their beans in house (if you don’t believe them simply based off the large area of beans in burlap bags, I can vouch for them; I was there during a roasting session). Post-roasting, they like to let their beans sit/rest for a day and a half before having them hop over to the bar. And as if all of that wasn’t enough reason to make this a must-stop coffee shop, they even let you keep the glass jar!   

  
   

Ladurée – go for the macaroons

Although the Ladurée at Harrods in London is adorable, I did not love their caffe latte quite as much since it tasted more of soya than espresso, which was so faint you almost couldn’t taste it. It also was too hot for a latte. The macaroons were so delicious that we ordered seconds, which is unusual for me since I hardly ever eat sweets. I strongly recommend their coconut macaroon, which dare I say it was better than the macaroons at Botegga Louie in downtown Los Angeles. The decor of this cafe is similar to that of Bottega, with the white marble floors, high ceilings, glass cases, and macaroon tree displays. The cups are also quite quaint and match with the overall feel of Ladurée, while reminding me of the teacups ride in Fantasy Land at Disneyland. They even had silver jugs for the milk, with small napkins made for the handle to keep you from burning your hands, which was both thoughtful and visual appealing.