food journey through San Francisco + The Bay Area

Last summer, my mom and I went to California for a few weeks on a much needed vacation and for some college touring. I’ve decided to take you on our food journey, so it might help you if you are planning a trip to San Francisco/elsewhere in the bay area!

First stop….Fisherman’s Wharf Fruit “Market”

Fisherman’s Wharf is THE tourist destination in San Francisco. Tourists pack this area, but I still suggest you take a look! There are some great things to see here….and eat.

We still have dreams about the cherries we ate at the fruit stand on Fisherman’s Wharf. We’ve never had cherries so big, red, and juicy.

Fisherman’s Wharf has some other great sights, as well. You can see these sea lions sleeping and splashing around – they’re adorable, and there are SO many of them! Fisherman’s Wharf also has a great view of Alcatraz, and is the home of the Bush Man!

By far one of the best things about the Fisherman’s Wharf area is Ghiradelli Square….

The Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop is incredible. AMAZING. My stomach is rumbling right now just thinking about it.

GO THERE.

You will not regret it! There are also other locations in the US, such as the Chicago and Downtown Disney (FL) location.

Here is a sample menu that you will find in the ice cream shop.

Soooooo good. =)

Fisherman’s Wharf also has the Boudin Bakery, which makes the best sourdough bread you will ever taste! Supposedly, something in the air in San Francisco gives the bread its unique flavor.

You can watch them make the bread from the sidewalk outside! It smells wonderful, too!

The bread comes in fun shapes, like a turtle or crab! Be prepared for some long lines inside, but don’t worry – the bread is worth the wait!

#2….Trolley Ride


The trolleys are the quintessence of San Francisco. Ride one and feel like a tourist as you ride past all the houses that look like they could have been in Full House. =)

#3…de Young Museum


The de Young Museum is an art museum that has a lot of African art and paintings. I personally found the courtyard/garden area outside it its best feature, but the museum is wonderful!

The observation level offers a lovely view of San Francisco!!

#4….The Golden Gate Bridge!

Touristy? Yes. Necessary? Yes.

This bridge will take your breath away. The view is absolutely beautiful.

#5….Haight-Ashbury District

Home to the Grateful Dead once upon a time, this area is trippy, psychadelic, groovy, and whatever other 60s jargon you care to use. I personally liked the man who thought that he was a TV, and performed programs for people through a cardboard box.

If you are interested in learning more about the fascinating history of Haight Ashbury, I suggest reading the essay titled “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” in the anthology of the same name by Joan Didion.

Haight Ashbury is a very interesting area. I suggest checking out Amoeba Records (there’s also one in Berkeley and on Sunset Blvd.) – incredible music store!

Cafes in Palo Alto, CA

Palo Alto is a very cutesy area that I suggest you spend some time in. They have a great farmers market and lots of great restaurants.

Tea Time

Tea Time in Palo Alto is a great place to grab lunch or breakfast. I loved their scones, and their iced teas are great! Mine was a mint tea. I don’t remember the actual name of it, but it was delicious!

Joanie’s Cafe

Joanie’s Cafe in Palo Alto has DELICIOUS waffles. It’s usually pretty busy, but it is worth the wait and has a great atmosphere. And, they offer breakfast for dinner, one of my favorite things!!

Berkeley’s Frozen Yogurt

Though my mom and I are completely, utterly, pathetically obsessed with Pinkberry (we have dreams about it), Yogurt Harmony’s frozen yogurt was also delicious. As you can see, I had strawberry with sprinkles. =)

I hope this list is helpful to you as you start planning your trip to San Francisco! There are many more things I would suggest doing, so if you need any more ideas, please just comment and I would be happy to help you!

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Cake Decorating Fun

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in some time….we have had two tragic losses in our family this spring, and I have had finals, graduation, prom, grad parties, and the dreaded….

the horrible….

AP TESTS.

For a high school senior, already enrolled in college and ready to move on, nothing is more frustrating than having to take AP Tests. We’re so exhausted from four years’ worth of sleep deprivation and studying. It’s just cruel to make us sit through four hours long tests just as we’re about to leave for good.

To celebrate my last day of World History AP class, I decided to make my class a strawberry cake with strawberry frosting as a filling and vanilla frosting.

If you regularly read our blog, you know we are the worst possible cake makers. Ever. So I was a little nervous about making a cake for my class….

It went well in the beginning. The cakes even came out of the pans intact! It was like magic – that had never happened before!!

I let the cakes cool completely before I stuck them together with the strawberry filling.

This is where I failed (if it were an AP Test, I wouldn’t even have gotten a 1 score). The strawberry filling was too thin and liquidy. No matter what I tried, it wouldn’t thicken.

So the top cake layer started sliding over to the left. Slowly but surely, a good chunk of the left side was hanging over the bottom cake layer.

I tried to cut it off and cover the whole mess up with frosting. Fail again.

In time, I was able to hide it at least a little bit with the vanilla frosting, but it put up one heck of a fight first!

My favorite part of making this cake was decorating it. As I was preparing the frosting and filling, I found some icing decorating tips in a drawer that we’ve never used. Score!

The “helots and ADD” thing is an inside joke about our class….the ADD is pretty self-explanatory though….it’s what results when you have a class full of restless second semester seniors! =)

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Peanut Butter Overload Cookies

For Father’s Day, my dad asked me to make him homemade peanut butter cookies.

Of course I complied, and added my own flair….

I started off with one of my favorite baking websites, Joyofbaking.com’s peanut butter cookie recipe, by Stephanie Jaworski.

I added 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, and 1/2 heaping cup of peanut butter chips….

Stephanie Jaworski’s Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (105 grams) light brown sugar

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup (185 grams) peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or just grease them – this works just fine).

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 2 – 3 minutes). Beat in the peanut butter. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the peanut butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Fold in the chopped peanuts, if using. (If the batter is too soft to form into balls, place in the refrigerator for about an hour or until firm.)

Roll the batter into 1 inch (2.54 cm) balls. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet, placing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Then, using the tines of the fork that has been dipped in white granulated sugar, make a crisscross pattern.

Bake the cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for about a week. Freeze for longer storage.

These cookies were incredible! The texture is sort of crumbly, but melt-in-your-mouth good at the same time. I highly recommend this recipe.

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Raspberry Streusel Muffins (Disney World Inspired)

On a recent visit to Walt Disney World  (our family’s ultimate obsession) during Spring Break with my friends, we went to the Princess Storybook Dining breakfast at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway (Epcot).

I’ll write more about the experience later (it was incredible). I fell in love with their muffins full of streuselly, crumbly goodness. One morning I was feeling pretty down about being back from Disney, and I found a recipe for raspberry muffins with streusel topping in 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies and Other Tempting Treats.

Note: Excuse the poor photography. We’re having camera issues, and I took these photos with my cell phone!!

These turned out pretty well. Not much like the wonderful muffin I had at Akershus, however. The best part about them was the streusel topping, which was perfect. The actual muffin itself almost seemed a little bland (or maybe Akershus just spoiled me).

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Memorial Day Angel Food Cake

This Memorial Day, while honoring those who served our country we decided to make some angel food cake.

We were a little nervous, because we had heard that angel food cake is difficult to make, but with our handy new electric mixer it was easy!

We used this recipe.

We were extremely happy that our cake came out intact (they NEVER do)! I guess the key to making this happen is to let the cake cool upside down at an angle.

Good accompaniments with angel food cake could be:

  • strawberries
  • raspberry puree or a raspberry syrup
  • a light or low fat ice cream
  • blended blueberries
  • a lemon glaze
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Easter Sugar Cookies! =)

Here’s a photo of the Easter bunny sugar cookies my mom and I traditionally make every year, using my grandma’s top-secret, absolutely wonderful sugar cookie recipe.

For the eyes, we used mini M&Ms (until we ran out – then we had to use the big ones!) . For the noses, we used mini marshmallows, pinched in halves, and rounded a little bit. For the whiskers, we used strawberry peelable twizzlers.

Happy Easter everyone! Have a safe and happy holiday! =)

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Egg-cellent Easter Activities for Children!

My nephew and I decided to go Easter crazy today!

First, we made paper chains to decorate the house for Easter.

After that, we made bunny hats. You simply need to cut out bunny ears from a white piece of construction paper. Take another piece of white construction paper and cut it into thick strips. Measure around the child’s head with the thick white strips of paper and tape them into a circle so they are an appropriate size around the child’s head. Cut out smaller “bunny ear” shapes out of pink construction paper, to go on top of the white bunny ears. Tape the pink shapes onto the white bunny ears, then tape the bunny ears onto the inside of the thick white band – the “hat.”

We also dyed a LOT of eggs. Glitter dyes, tie-dye dyes, neon dyes, pastel dyes – we did them all!

We also made Easter bird nests! I think this is my favorite activity that we did!

How To Make Easter Bird Nests

What you need

  • 6 cups of Cocoa Krispies cereal or Cocoa Pebbles.
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows or 1 package of normal sized marshmallows
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Easter jelly beans or Easter Whopper egg candies
  • a greased rectangular dish

What to do

  1. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat
  2. Add all the marshmallows and stir until they are completely melted.
  3. Add the cereal, three cups at a time, and stir quickly, completely coating the cereal with the marshmallow/butter mixture.
  4. Using a spatula, quickly spoon portions of the krispie treats into the pan, and mold into a circle shape. Do this until all the krispie treat mixture is used up.
  5. When the krispie treats start to set, push a relatively large hole in the middle of each circle krispie treat to make it look like a nest. Sometimes it is easier to cup the krispie treat in your hand and lightly squish it into a nest shape.
  6. Once the krispie treats are fully formed and not kind of squishy, fill the holes in the “nests” with your egg candies or jelly beans – these are the bird’s eggs!

Yum!

We also made special springtime baskets for our favorite eggs we dyed.

We made these baskets out of old strawberry containers and pretty Easter colored ribbons. We simply used the “under, over” technique to weave the ribbons through the strawberry cartons. For each row, we started weaving in the middle of the row, so when we finished we could tie the remaining string in a pretty bow. We used Easter grass for extra “oomph.”

My nephew was really excited about this, because it meant he could show off his favorite eggs to everyone, and he had a blast making his special basket!

I found this idea in an old American Girl activity book.

Happy Easter everyone! What do you do to celebrate this wonderful springtime holiday?

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