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When my friend Jennifer handed me a beautiful gold-wrapped package at Christmas I was intrigued. She told me that she bought me some goodies from Emporio Rulli which is an Italian bakery in the Bay Area. I had never heard of Rulli but Jennifer raved about it and made a special trip to Larkspur with her mom to buy Christmas gifts from the shop so I was really excited to try these cookies.

You would expect that I tore open that package as soon as I had an opportunity, right? No. You see, I was the child whose Halloween candy lasted for months. I don’t eat or drink quickly because I like to savor everything. So I waited and waited to open these cookies. Finally, nearly three weeks later, I cracked it open. I figured since the cookies have been wrapped they probably weren’t stale. And they weren’t!

The cookies looked beautiful and delicious and I didn’t know which one to try first. Well, that’s not true. I immediately went for the one covered in pistachios. Yum! I’ve eaten four now and they are all so tasty. And they’re all different which is even better because I’ll get to try about 20 different types of cookies.

So, after I dug into the cookies I actually searched for the Emporio Rulli website and guess what? The owners, Gary and Jeannie Rulli, also own Ristobar, a restaurant in SF’s Marina district which I visited and wrote about almost a year ago. It’s a full-circle moment ūüôā

Apparently, Gary Rulli is known for his panettone but I would be happy going back again and again for the cookies.

Locations:

Emporio Rulli

464 Magnolia Avenue

Larkspur, California 94939

(415) 924-7478

larkspur@rulli.com

Ristobar

2300 Chestnut St. at Scott Street in the Marina District

San Francisco, CA 94123

(415)923-6464

WWW.RISTOBARSF.COM

Emporio Rulli il Caffe (in Union Square, San Francisco)

Located On top of the Square in the Stockton & Powell Street Pavilions
At the corner of Stockton & Post & At the corner of Powell & Geary
unionsq@rulli.com
Emporio-Rulli SFO
International Terminal and Domestic Terminal 3
~Christina

I’ve been searching for gifts for the people in my life. I’ve finished shopping for almost everyone. Even my sister’s dog got a gift. But I haven’t gotten anything for me. So I made a list of some things I’d like, and I’m sure the foodie in your life would like them too:

1. Yolka Chocolate Ornaments: You can hang these on the tree. But why would you? These cute little chocolates are meant to be eaten.

2. Bamboo Cheeseboard Set: Super cute that you can hide the tools in this board. Somehow my knives end up getting separated and go missing. I think my husband may be hiding them to prevent me from eating cheese. He doesn’t know I’d rather eat gooey cheese off my fingers than go without.

3. Tocca Candle: This beautiful candle comes with a stand reminiscent of Morocco. Elegant and sophisticated. (Maybe too sophisticated for that friend you were thinking of…)

4. Starbucks Mug Ornament: For all the coffee freaks out there. I know, I know, there are Dunkin’ Donuts ones too, but these are cooler.

5. Vosges Holiday Chocolate Collection: These chocolate truffles come in all sorts of holiday flavors, like eggnog, candy cane and plum pudding. Festive!

6. In the Cheesemonger’s Kitchen Book: See gift #2. These two would be great to pair together.

7. Brownie of the Month Subscription: A batch of blondie or chocolate brownies a month? Yes please, sign me up. An of-the-month club is always a great gift for those of us that love to eat, and love surprises.

8. Skull and Crossbones Decanter Set: A little twist on a classic decanter. I love this because it’s decorative and something you can leave out on the countertop.

9. Olive Oil Gift Sets: Good olive oil doesn’t come in the grocery store. This oil is hand selected, and is packaged in a cute, giftable box.

10. Crushed Can Vases:  These vases are a little different than your typical. Clearly you need to give these to someone with a sense of style, (Read: No Grammy) who can appreciate a little quirkiness.

Feel free to buy one (or all) of these gifts for me for the holiays.

Enjoy!

~ Dana

This skin-tight Herve Leger dress? Umm yeah, not so much.

Okay, so we all overdid it yesterday….My master plan was to have a bite of this, a taste of that. You know, how the celebrities always say: “I just came to the realization that I just need to taste the foods I love, not eat a lot of them.” To me this is code for “I chew up my food and spit it out.” And that does not work me. I killed a quarter of the dish of mac and cheese that I made, and ate what constituted 4 whole yams over like 6 small portions of candied yams. “Just a little bit”, I told myself, as I got up over and over again.

And now….I have a turkey tummy. A gobble gut. Whatever you want to call it. And it’s bad. So while looking online for new clothes to make myself feel better, I thought I’d share some of my finds with you.

Tips to Hide Your Turkey Tummy

1. Create a diversion. Like a bow. Honestly, one great thing to do is to put a big fat bow over your midsection. It hides your flaws and helps to cinch your waist.

Lace and Light Dress, Anthropologie, $258

2. Work it out with different patterns.¬†¬†People get confused when they see a ton of on different patterns. Is that a gut? No, it’s a complex grouping of differing lines. Whatever. If it gets their mind off the tummy, it works in my book.

Dusky Striation Dress, Anthropologie $298

3. Create a waist for yourself. Because after all you ate yesterday, chances are that your waist isn’t too defined right now. A dress that creates a clear separation between your top and bottom halves helps to make it understood that there is an hourglass figure under there somewhere.

Hot Mulled Wine Dress, ModCloth, $24.99

4. ¬†Contrast Colors.¬†Breaking up the monotone colors helps to creates a visual break, so everyone isn’t focusing on all your business. Because frankly, it’s rude. And PS, your stomach isn’t so flat right now anyways, Miss stuffing and gravy.

Seriously Smitten Dress, ModCloth, $99.99

Enjoy!

~ Dana

My husband and I, after a year and some change of married bliss (ish), decided to take our delayed honeymoon. Where to go? We wanted to go to Hawaii. Europe was an option. But since I am mistaken for being Puerto Rican every day of my life, we thought we should go see what it was all about.

We stayed at the LaConcha Renaissance Hotel, which was a beautiful, modern hotel in the Condado area of San Juan. Considering my husband and I always argue over how our new house should be decorated, this was decor we both agreed on. There was a DJ booth in the main lobby (spinning Euro tracks, yes, but still…), drinks flowing and cool people everywhere. (We ran into the guys from LMFAO there.)

For breakfast, we had Maizena, which is a traditional Puerto Rican breakfast food. My husband, whose family is Nigerian, calls it “soft cereal”, and had it growing up as well. It’s basically corn starch, used to thicken¬†water to make a pudding type mixture. You can top it with anything, like toasted coconut.

In the hotel, there is a fancy restaurant called La Perla Restaurant. My husband wanted to go here because he thought it had something to do with the lingere brand. Um, no. But it was beautiful. The restaurant was situated in the actual shell that you see above. (Get it, La Perla = Pearl…)

Once we left the hotel, we visited Bombornera, the famous pastry shop that has been open since 1902.

Ah, Mofongo. No, I’m not cursing at you. Everyone talks about Mofongo, the famous dish from Puerto Rico. It’s a plantain based dish that takes fried plantains and mashes them into a sort of bowl like thing that they stuff with meat or seafood and then cover in a sauce. After¬†biking around San Juan (yes, I convinced my husband to do this somehow..), we got the most amazing Mofongo.

We didn’t just eat — we did go parasailing.

And THEN: We stumbled upon Casa Lola. When I found out that it was a restaurant by Roberto Trevi√Īo, a former Iron Chef winner, I was obsessed. You know I’m a chef stalker. (Evidenced here , here and here.) The place was delicious, with traditional Puerto Rican food and impeccable service. Seriously, we ate here 4 times in 7 days. It was ridiculous.

From Top Left, Clockwise. Plantain-wrapped shrimp with codfish, arroz con pollo, fried green plantains, garlic shrimp with beans and rice.

And then there was the secret sauce. A cross between habaneros and jalapenos, it was sweet and spicy and the chef wouldn’t give us the recipe. We ended up requesting to-go containers every time we ate and smuggled it back to the US.

They had fried country cheese with papaya sauce. Amazing. And tres-leches cake. So-so…

And more food. Top left then clockwise: chicken salad with fried green plantains, Bocanegra cake (chocolate cake with marshmallows and graham cracker ice cream), grown up lemonade (grapefruit juice with honey, muddled lemongrass and white rum), fried plantains topeed with lobster meat.

All in all, everything was AMAZING. We had such a good time, and we will definitely be back!

~ Dana

I have a bit of an obsession with taking classes these days. Cooking, crafting, baking and now cocktail making. A few months ago I joined a site called Outgoing.me that has listings for unique experiences and events (only in the greater San Francisco area right now) which also serve as a great way to meet new and interesting people. As soon as my friend Ani sent me the listing for a class called: “Mixology 101 – The Basics for Mixing and Enjoying Cocktails” I was sold. In the class we learned how to make four classic cocktails: the Martini, Manhattan, Margarita and Mojito the correct way, using the right ratios and techniques. We also learned interesting facts and methods for mixing cocktails that people are often unaware of or perform incorrectly.

The class was held at the Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts and taught by H. Joseph Ehrmann, renowned bartender and owner of the saloon¬†Elixir in the City (H. is also a co-founder of the Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail). Each participant was provided with the tools necessary to make the four classic cocktails and H. guided us through the preparations and methods for each. H. told us to try making one cocktail stirred and another shaken so we could see and taste the difference. I discovered that I kinda like Manhattans. I also learned that the mint in Mojitos doesn’t need to be muddled to a pulp – a few twists with the muddler is about all you need to bring out the flavor in the mint. H. also gave us a lesson in adding aromatic effects to cocktails, the flame trick, what to look for when buying bar tools and a whole host of things that I scribbled feverishly on my note pad.

This was a really fun class. How could it not be? We made (and tried to drink) four cocktails in two hours. Just ask Ani, who was having a little trouble following H.’s directions by the time we got to the Mojito lesson. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are looking for fun activities, I recommend signing up on Outgoing.me. And if you love cocktails (and beer) I also recommend checking out the classes at the Boothby Center.

The classroom

The set up

My vodka martini. Stirred. Isn't it pretty?

A Manhattan. Shaken.

A classic Margarita.

A Mojito. One lime is all you need.

~Christina

Casa is participating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

June 2017
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