Jan 27, 2011

Kara's Cupcakes, Marina, San Francisco

In the Marina District, Chestnut and Union Streets gather selective boutiques, shops, cafes and restaurants. The area also gathers many bridal shops and beauty spas. 

Within few blocks, you can reach the proper Marina by the Bay, where in a sunny day, there are many people walking, jogging and enjoying the view of the Golden Gate.

After an afternoon enjoying the shops on Chestnut, nothing better than a cupcake at Kara's. I had the coconut filling + chocolate cake and it was divine! They accept catering orders and it's always a great gift. :)

Jan 24, 2011

Akiko's Restaurant, Financial District, San Francisco

Japanese cuisine is indeed my weakness. Some people find it boring and plain, I find it interesting and distinctive. I love simple homemade dishes as much as elaborate omakase (in Japanese: お任せ; customers ordering omakase style expect the chef to be innovative and surprising in the selection of dishes).

One of my favorite Japanese restaurants in San Francisco, Akiko's Restaurant is a small, family-owned spot on the Financial District. Their food uses proper recipes and ingredients to recreate traditional dishes as well as to incorporate Californian influences. I find their strength to be on the small plates and sushis, that are amazing. If you happen to be around and enjoy spicy sushi, try the Volcano sushi! 

Jan 21, 2011

Brunch at Universal Cafe, Mission, San Francisco

I am a big fan of brunches. 

I love to start a Sunday with a nice warm lovely brunch. Universal Cafe, located in the Mission, easily helps you out with that. They change their menu frequently and always including the seasonal fresh ingredients. 

Last time, I tried a gorgeous crab cake with spinach salad - it was crispy, tasty and delicious. The fruit plate was also a must. Please do arrive early as they get packed and don't accept reservations. 

Jan 17, 2011

Bouchon Bakery, Yountville, Napa Valley

The distance from San Francisco to the wineries in Napa and Sonoma Valley is short and convenient for a day trip. The countless spots are perfect to spend a day or weekends. Every time I go there I find some different winery, a new restaurant, a fresh breeze, it feels like the cycle of the grapes renew the hopes for the out coming product. 

I also love to take family & friends there to sightseeing, do some great wine tasting and enjoy some tasty food. This time, on New Year's Day, wouldn't be different. Most of the wineries were closed and amid those low temperatures and cloudy weather, there were a lot of people looking for the wine tastings. The only one we found open was Domaine Carneros Taittinger, which produces gorgeous sparkling wines. After lunching at The Girl & the Fig, we headed for sparkling & cheese there, and last stop at the fabulous Bouchon Bakery.

There, we found the huge in-house made macaroons, right-out-of-the-oven pastries, tons of delicacies and snacks. The city of Yountville is already a cute little town that attracts for it's small town spirit as well as for the top restaurants that it offers. 

I love their croissants and pain au chocolat. They also go perfect for a break in and out of the wineries and stretching the legs before driving back to SF. 

Jan 16, 2011

Jean Philippe Chocolates, Aria Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas + New Contributor

It's a great pleasure to welcome our Art of Savouring new contributor: my dear friend Masae! She has a lot to add to our blog here, as she brings in a broad, sensible and refined knowledge on life and food. Besides having her professional career, she also has deep background on art and enjoys cooking. 

Thank you for sharing your experiences here. I appreciate it ;)

By Masae, from Las Vegas

One of my favorite places to spend time on the Strip in Las Vegas is the Aria, Hotel/Casino, where you can find a great sweets shop which is impossible to hate! Jean Philippe is the place you must go.

The chef, Jean Philippe, is from Southern part of France, and was selected the Best Pastry Chef in France in 1997. Since I moved to LV, I choose their products as gifts for my family and friends. People love them! You can order online, how neat!

Start with the chocolate cookies, which won the world pastry championship in 2002, their signature chocolates are very delicious not only to your mouth but also to your eyes. The colorful cakes lined up neatly in the showcase are tempting, pastries, sandwiches, crepes and even ice cream!

You won't be able to make a single mistake in choosing any from their shop. Everything tastes good. It is Heaven indeed....

There are two shops in LV: one at the Bellagio & at the newly opened Aria. I often go to Aria shop, they have cafe beside the casino. It is a convenient place to have a break casually between the shopping.

Jan 14, 2011

Piselli, Italian Restaurant, São Paulo, Brazil

For a special dinner, I went on a hunt for a nice place. I found it to be harder than I expected. The first searching criteria was: restaurant for Sunday (it was the anniversary day) dinner in São Paulo, Brazil serving good Brazilian cuisine.

Answers? Didn't find one that was open for Sunday dinner. I even called Dalva e Dito, made a reservation and after few minutes, they contacted me again to apologize that they were actually closed on Sunday dinners - "I can make it for lunch though", the host mentioned. 

Then, I changed the search and just broaden it up to a nice restaurant that open for Sunday dinner and that was not a pizzeria (pizza restaurant). 

In the end, the search was worth it. We had Sunday dinner at Piselli, located on Rua Padre João Manuel, almost corner with Rua Estados Unidos in the Jardins neighborhood. 

We had an amazing dinner, the food was incredible: fresh, very well prepared and perfectly balanced. I had one of the best fresh cod dishes I have ever tried: it came with a salted crust, a gorgeous mashed yucca and a balsamic reduction. The hubby tried the filet mignon payard which was also delicious. Service was amazing and we will definitely come back. 

Jan 11, 2011

Brigaderia, Shopping Higienopolis, Sao Paulo, Brazil

With the Brazilian economy booming, there are many cute little place opening all over the country, specially in São Paulo. Brigaderia is a cafe that serves delicious sorted brigadeiros. 

Brigadeiro is a typical Brazilian sweet delicacy made with cocoa powder and condensed milk; a traditional hit on kids' birthday parties as well as grown-ups get together reunions. They are served in individual bite size portions and you eat many of them back to back. 

The cafe is located in Shopping Higienópolis, located in the same name neighborhood, 25 minutes by car (with medium traffic) distance from Paulista Avenue. The place is vividly decorated, offers a great expresso coffee to pair and sit down to chat. The decoration is cute and the brigadeiros are incredible. I loved the lemon and nutella. 

The mall was recently remodeled and received new stores. I felt it was very enjoyable to walk around, take a look on the shops, chat with friends and enjoy a brigadeiro + coffee. 

Jan 8, 2011

Brazilian homemade pastries and sweets

From the top: esfiha, coxinha, pastel

I love the Brazilian fried pastries. Specially when they are homemade. They pair really well with extremely cold chopp (a fresh draught beer). 

Esfiha is inspired on the Lebanese-Syrian culture influences, it is a baked pastry prepared with soft potato dough and filled with ground beef (could be other fillings).

Coxinha is inspired on the chicken drumstick shape, it is a fried pastry prepared with potato and filled with a moist mixture: chicken, vegetables and spices.

Pastel is a Brazilian version of empanadas. With a crispy thin dough, the filling is secretly moist. My favorites are cheese and beef. 

From the top: arroz doce (sweet rice) & brigadeiros (prepared with chocolate powder & condensed milk)

And the sweets? Some people say Brazilians like sweets extremely sweet. 

I have to agree and include myself!

Jan 5, 2011

Brazilian Fruits = Amazing Tropical Flavors

I am so passionate about fruits. Brazil has lots to offer: banana, papaya, passion fruit, mango, cashew, cupuaçu, açaí, guaraná, as much as the more cold-weathered fruits: peaches, berries, apples, pears... 

This December, on Brazilian summer, I was catching up with the tropical fruits. And felt in love for a recently introduced one: graviola (that's the green fruit with unwelcoming thorns). It tastes like an interesting mixture of banana and avocado flavor. I tried a homemade graviola mousse and it was incredible!!! It's my new favorite.

My second favorite is passion fruit (or as we called it maracujá). The gorgeous aroma started letting us know it was ready. By the time we cut in half, we can see that beautiful flesh. Passion fruit makes me happy. The freshly prepared juice was divine and so refreshing.

Nothing better on a hot sunny summer day to enjoy a refreshing juice!

Jan 2, 2011

Pão de Mel (Honey bread), Munik Chocolates, São Paulo, Brazil

Just one word: wonderful! 

I love the milk chocolate one, tender, soft, sweet, moist and amazing. It was voted one of the 10 best delicacies in São Paulo under R$5 (about US$3; it costs R$4.40 in December 2010) 
by Epoca São Paulo magazine in 2008.

You can find them in few shopping malls around the city. 

More info in Portuguese (sorry...): http://www.chocolatesmunik.com.br/