I visited San Francisco for the first time last month and left my heart as they say.  I knew that it would be a fabulous place to visit, but between the perfect weather with only sunshine days, incredible food and ease of getting around, I cannot wait to return in June.

Here are some food highlights from the city:

Gnochetti at SPQR in Pacific Heights, because baby-sized food is always better

SPQR

I always say that it is my due diligence to do a bakery tour in any city that I visit and San Francisco did not disappoint.  Sift Dessert Bar offered up the classics like cookies, macarons and cupcakes and one unique offering, the Cruffle.  The Cruffle  was not totally unlike a cake pop, I was told it was crushed up cupcake mixed with frosting and coated in chocolate, but even for this sweet tooth, one bite was more than I ever need of that sugar bomb.  My Samoa cupcake was perfection though and their glittery cakes made me want to have a party immediately.

IMG_0084 IMG_0086

Once my husband joined me in San Francisco, we were on a coffee mission.  He is a huge fan of Blue Bottle Coffee and he had to sample their siphon-brewed coffee.  It was quite a process and fun to watch, but I am not a coffee connoisseur enough to know if the taste is truly superior.

We enjoyed a fantastic lunch at Kuleto’s which has been in Union Square for many years and offers lovely Northern Italian cuisine including this fig, burrata, balsamic onion and prosciutto bruschetta, roasted beet and arugula salad and rosemary flatbread with roasted garlic and triple cream blue brie.  Our entire lunch was delicious and our cheese cravings were surely satisfied.

IMG_0072 IMG_0071

The highlight of our trip was the time we spent in Yountville in Napa Valley.  I am in love.  I was unaware that there were places so quaint, relaxing and beautiful so relatively close to home.  The trip was so lovely that I couldn’t wait to get back and share where and what we ate and the vineyards that we visited.

Our drive to Napa Valley began with a stop by the Golden Gate Bridge because after all, we were tourists.

We then stopped at the San Rafael Farmers’ Market for lunch and I was loving all of the fresh produce that is months ahead of our local farmers’ markets.

IMG_5551 IMG_5553

We stayed in Yountville and I loved how many restaurants were within walking distance since Yountville is quite small and all of the shops and eateries on within a few blocks of each other.  I am not a person who likes to stay in hotels, but I guess I can’t claim that anymore because I never wanted to leave the Hotel Yountville where we stayed.   IMG_0060 IMG_0063 IMG_0065 IMG_0104

I especially loved being within walking distance of Bouchon Bakery.  I did a review of the insanely gorgeous Bouchon Bakery Cookbook awhile ago and visiting the bakery each morning we were there was definitely worth each ounce of butter that I consumed.  In fact, the visit made me love my favorite cookbook and Thomas Keller even more.  My favorite bakery splurge is an almond croissant and Bouchon Bakery’s almond croissant is the best croissant I have ever had.  Big surprise, Thomas Keller knows what’s up.

IMG_0032 IMG_0033 IMG_0034

Speaking of Thomas Keller, the most exciting surprise place that we had the pleasure of dining at was his pop-up restaurant Ad Lib.  I’m sure you know about Thomas Keller’s famous, fancy restaurant The French Laundry which basically gave such prestige to “the tasting menu” as we know it.  We would have loved to have eaten there during our trip, but the restaurant had been closed for renovation since January.  While the restaurant was closed for renovation, Chef Keller was looking out for his staff and elected to open Ad Lib in the Royal Oak at the Silverado Country Club so that they would have a place to work while the Laundry was closed.  So all of the chefs and servers migrated down the road for the brief 10 month lifespan of the restaurant (it will close in October).  It was such a treat to get to experience Chef Keller’s magic in such an intimate setting and everything they put before us was incredibly beautiful and undoubtedly delicious.  We started with the table side Caesar salad, I had the Salmon with dill beurre blanc and my husband had the Chicken Schnitzel (imagine the best chicken piccata you’ve ever tasted and yes that is a normally-sized dinner plate that it is on) and we shared the spring pea and mushroom gnocchi.

IMG_0029 IMG_0030

Oh yeah, how could I forget the vineyards, aka the reason people visit wine country!   Enough about food for now.  We visited several vineyards including Domain Chandon, Hess (they have the most incredible art collection that is worth the trip alone not to mention how many wines I loved there), Pine Ridge (I already loved their Chenin Blanc Viognier blend that you can get anywhere) where we did a unique tasting in their wine cave,

IMG_0106

Rombauer (one of my family’s favorite winemakers:  we LOVE their zinfandel and chardonnay and they just came out with their first sauvignon blanc which was nice),

Duckhorn (my new absolute favorite white is their sauvignon blanc) wine labels are the wines that have been served more at White House events than any other American label.  They had menus hanging on the wall from various presidential events that the wines have been served at which I totally ate up.

duckhorn

A couple of our other favorite stops were Frank Family vineyard

 And Mumm Napa, which is now one of my favorite bubbles to drink.

We fueled up during our big day of tasting at a place called Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena and I wish I would have known in advance about the experience that they offer that includes a walking tour of their garden with their chef followed by a tasting menu lunch at the chef’s table.  Next time.  I got their homemade cookies to go for dessert, I’m sure you’re shocked about that one.

IMG_0016 IMG_0015

Last stop was a visit to The French Laundry gardens which were so perfect and lovely to walk through.  The chickens were plenty friendly too.  It was so amazing to see the actual garden right across the street from the restaurant.  It doesn’t get any more “farm to table” than that.

IMG_5616 IMG_5633

IMG_5621

IMG_5638

I can hardly wait to return to Napa Valley someday and I would love to hear about any of your favorite places to visit when you’ve travelled to wine country.

Print Friendly
Did you like this? Share it:

You may also like:

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and I feel like winter was so long and tortuous, yet how is it already springtime??  It’s amazing how time flies!  This March has been crazy busy for me with lots of travel, studying and trying to keep myself balanced and it makes me so excited to think that lake weekends are not too far off.  The nicer weather and finally being able to be outside has be craving light recipes that won’t weigh me down.  These Lemon Rosemary Cookies are not only delicious, light and fluffy, but they have only 60 calories per cookie!!!!

Lemon Rosemary Cookies {satisfymysweettooth.com}

Thanks to the incorporation of vanilla extract along with the fresh lemon juice, these Lemon Rosemary Cookies are too tart and the rosemary adds just a hint of herby-ness which makes them extra special and unique.

Lemon Rosemary Cookies {satisfymysweettooth.com}

The cookies melt in your mouth because of the cornstarch that is incorporated into the dry ingredients and that also helps them stay soft for several days.  I flattened the cookie dough by using the bottom of a small glass dipped in sugar and I just love the shimmer that the sugar gives to the cookies.

Lemon Rosemary Cookies {satisfymysweettooth.com}

These Lemon Rosemary Cookies are the perfect addition to any bridal or baby shower, Easter brunch or barbecue that you go to this spring.

Lemon Rosemary Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 28 cookies

1 cookies

60 calories

2g; carbs 11g

These slightly tart and herby cookies are light as air and as soft as clouds and the perfect cookie to celebrate springtime

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar (+1/4 cup for coating cookies)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray).
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter, oil and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg white, vanilla, lemon juice and rosemary and mix.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.
  5. Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar into a small, shallow bowl.
  6. Scoop heaping teaspoons of dough and form into balls. Place balls onto cookie sheet.
  7. Dip the bottom of a small glass into the cookie dough to make it sticky, then dip the glass into the sugar and flatten one of the cookies. Repeat with remaining cookies, dipping the glass into the sugar for each cookie.
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes or until centers feel set.
  9. Cool completely.
  10. Recipe adapted from Eating Well

Lemon Rosemary Cookies {satisfymysweettooth.com}

Print Friendly
Did you like this? Share it:

You may also like:

Well it is now safe to say that anytime I need a chocolate cake for any occasion at all, I have officially found the BEST chocolate sheet cake with the BEST fudgey frosting that I have ever ever tasted!  That is a huge statement to make because I have tasted my fair share of chocolate cakes and frostings.

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake {satisfymysweettooth.com}

The frosting that tops the BEST chocolate sheet cake reminds me of my mom’s brownie frosting that I would lick off the sides of the pan after the brownies were gone because it is that good.  And just for a little extra pizzazz and appeal, there is peanut butter sandwiched between the BEST chocolate sheet cake and that frosting.

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake {satisfymysweettooth.com}

Yep, while the cake was still warm, I spread a big glob of unadulterated peanut butter over the top.  The slight saltiness from the pure peanut butter paired with the sweet, thick chocolate frosting has had me literally salivating just writing about the absolutely perfect combination.

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake {satisfymysweettooth.com}

I love having classic go-to recipes in my back pocket for occasions when you realize that you want to make something but you don’t feel like scouring cookbooks or the internet for a recipe.  The BEST chocolate sheet cake itself is so ultra moist and dense, almost like a brownie.  I would love it with walnuts mixed into the batter too because I love that crunch that nuts give a cake.

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake {satisfymysweettooth.com}

Trust me on this one, next time you are making a cake for a special occasion, make the BEST chocolate sheet cake and you will have people asking you to make this cake again and again.

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 9X13" cake (about 24 servings)

The moistest chocolate cake topped with slightly salty peanut butter and rich, fudge frosting becomes the all-time best chocolate sheet cake

Ingredients

    For the cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • For the frosting
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 16 ounces powdered sugar
  • sprinkles (optional)

Instructions

    For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13" pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place flour, sugar and baking soda in to a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine butter, cocoa powder, water and buttermilk and whisk over medium-low heat until the butter is melted.
  4. Crack the eggs into a separate small bowl. Use a ladle to pour a small amount (about 2/3 cup) of the heated butter mixture into the eggs while whisking constantly (this is called tempering the eggs and will gently warm them up so that they don't scramble when added to the hot mixture).
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the butter mixture while whisking constantly. Increase the heat to medium and whisk until the mixture boils.
  6. Pour the butter mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients, add vanilla and use the whisk and a spatula to mix until the ingredients are well combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Cool cake for 10 minutes. Place peanut butter into a bowl and microwave until more easily spreadable, about 20 seconds.
  10. Pour the peanut butter onto the slightly cooled cake and gently use an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Cool completely.
  11. For the frosting
  12. Place powdered sugar into a clean, medium bowl.
  13. Place butter, cocoa powder and buttermilk into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, whisking constantly. Add vanilla then pour the mixture over the powdered sugar and stir until smooth (work quickly as the frosting sets rather fast). Immediately pour over the cooled cake and use a spatula to spread it evenly.
  14. Top immediately with sprinkles if using.
  15. Recipe adapted from Southern Living

Print Friendly
Did you like this? Share it:

You may also like:

Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite days mostly because of how girlie it is.  Pink, red, hearts, glitter, flowers:  it all adds up to a happy girl.  I saw the idea for this bark from Heather at Sprinkle Bakes back during the holiday season and I couldn’t wait to adapt the recipe to make this Sugar Cookie Crunch Bark for Valentine’s Day.

Sugar Cookie Crunch Bark Hearts {satisfymysweettooth.com}

I think this Sugar Cookie Crunch Bark would be so adorable wrapped up in a pretty cellophane bag tied with a ribbon.  I used a heart-shaped soft plastic ice cube tray that I have had in my collection just waiting to do something with it and it worked pretty well, but I think these treats would be just as cute without the heart shape, made in a mini muffin pan with festive paper liners.

Sugar Cookie Crunch Bark Hearts {satisfymysweettooth.com}

The Sugar Cookie Crunch Bark begins with candy melts.  I used Sugar Cookie-flavored Wilton Candy Melts that I colored light pink as the base for the bark, but if you have trouble finding that flavor, use vanilla and add some of your own sprinkles.  The sugar cookie base could not be a easier to make and it’s nice to finish making a cookie dough and not even have to shape it into cookies!  You simply pour the dough out onto a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet, spread it out into an even layer and bake until the crumbles are lightly browned.  Next I melted the candy melts and filled each cavity of my heart-shaped tray 1/3 full and you would do the same with the paper liners of a mini muffin tin.  Lastly, top the still liquid melts with the cooled cookie crumbs and let them set.  Sugar Cookie Crunch Bark Hearts are fun to make and so delicious and cute.  Perfect for Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion.

Sugar Cookie Crunch Bark Hearts {satisfymysweettooth.com}

Sugar Cookie Crunch Bark

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: ~30-40 hearts

Perfectly sweet and slightly salty cookie crumbles top colored candy melts to make this fun and festive bark

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (you could also use canola oil)
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 (10 ounce) package Wilton Sugar Cookie (or vanilla) Candy Melts
  • pink food coloring

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except candy melts and food coloring for the cookie dough. Use an electric mixer or a spatula to mix until well combined.
  3. Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper.
  4. Spread the cookie dough evenly over the lined baking sheet. You want pea-sized clumps.
  5. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
  6. Cool completely.
  7. Place the candy melts into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 1 minute increments until melted and smooth. Add a couple of drops of food coloring and mix to blend.
  8. Use a small spoon to fill the cavities of a silicone or soft plastic heart-shaped ice cube tray (or a mini muffin tin lined with paper liners) 1/3 full. Use the spoon to spread the melts up the sides of the cavities. While melts are still liquidy, sprinkle the cooled cookie crumble into the pan over the melts. Gently press down so that the cookie gets well incorporated into the melts.
  9. Cool completely before removing from the pan.
  10. Recipe adapted from sprinklebakes.com

Bonus:  I had a bit of cookie crumble left over and it is THE MOST fabulous ice cream topping that every existed.  Worth making a double batch??

Sugar Cookie Crunch Bark Hearts {satisfymysweettooth.com}

Print Friendly
Did you like this? Share it:

You may also like:

One week from today is Valentine’s Day!  If you are looking for some inspiration for valentines to make yourself or with kids, I’ve got five ideas for homemade valentines that are simple, yet so creative and adorable!

 

Print Friendly
Did you like this? Share it:

You may also like: