Category Archives: New Products

Celebrating San Francisco with Harry & David, And A Food Gal Giveaway (Sponsored Post)

San Francisco-Inspired Gift Basket (photo courtesy of Harry & David)

San Francisco-Inspired Gift Basket (photo courtesy of Harry & David)

 

Even though I was born in San Francisco and have spent almost my entire life in the Bay Area, I admit that when I was younger I took this region for granted.

I remember spending college summers interning in Portland, OR and Boston, where the moment I told people where I was from, their faces would light up with envy. The same happened when I lived in South Florida.

It took living away to make me finally appreciate what was in my own backyard. Namely, a climate that is almost always comfortable; spoil-you-rotten pristine produce available year-round; a food scene other cities would kill for; a gorgeous setting with ocean, mountains and redwoods; and an educated, curious, multi-ethnic populace so often at the forefront of meaningful issues and trends.

Of course, these days, it’s also a breathtakingly exorbitant place to live, with nightmare traffic on the freeways, construction everywhere, and an increasingly frightening divide between the haves and the have-nots.

For all of that, though, I can’t ever imagine leaving. It is home. And always will be.

Harry & David recognizes just how special the San Francisco Bay Area is. That’s why it chose this area as one to spotlight in its new regional gift baskets. The other foodie areas celebrated with their own themed gift baskets are: Chicago, New York and Austin.

The San Francisco gift basket ($99.99) includes Cheddar Corn Chowder Soup Mix, Seafood Rub, sourdough loaf, Habanero Pineapple Seafood Glaze, Ghirardelli chocolates, a dishtowel imprinted with the San Francisco skyline, and a cute trolley-car cookie. It all comes packed in a woven basket.

For every regional gift basket purchased, 20 percent of net proceeds will be donated to food banks in those respective cities, including the SF-Marin Food Bank.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a Harry & David San Francisco-Inspired Gift Basket ($99.99 value). #TasteYourCity

Entries, open only to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST June 25. Winner will be announced June 27.

How to win?

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Good Things Come — In Boxes

A peek inside the "Silicon Valley'' Sojourn Box.

A peek inside the “Silicon Valley” Sojourn Box.

 

With graduation fetes, Father’s Day, and summer birthday celebrations to come, everyone’s got gift-giving on their minds. Recently, I had a chance to check out samples of three new artisan gift box deliveries. Here’s the lowdown:

Sojourn Box

The word, “sojourn,” refers to a “temporary stay.”

And Sojourn Box aims to do something similar — to transport you briefly to another place.

The Santa Cruz-based company packs curated artisan products in boxes, each of which has a different Northern California geographic theme, such as “Monterey,” “San Francisco,” and “Santa Cruz.”

The “Silicon Valley” one was sent to me, befittingly since I reside there. I received the “taste-size” box ($38). If you like the products, you can reorder and choose the “full-sized” box ($70) with — you guessed it — full-sized versions of each product.

With the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley life, this box was definitely made for unplugging and getting away from it all. It’s also a box designed more for a woman than a man, what with its Lavender Herbal Bath Soak salts from Sylvie James, and Lemongrass Tangerine Soy Candle. Hey, just saying.

There’s also a tiny sea urchin shell holding the teeniest air plant; Smoked Sugar from Whiskey Oak Seasonings; a Cantaloupe Mint Green Tea bag from Thao Tea; and Coconut, Cacao + Raisin Granola Bites, which taste much more healthy and austere than most granolas on the market.

Granola bites to enjoy.

Granola bites to enjoy.

Each product is sourced locally. Each box also includes a little printed booklet containing fun facts about each region, including the “Top Five Places to Eat,” and “Top Five Places To Shop.” There’s also a card listing the “Top 10 Songs” in the area. Who knew that Dogcatcher’s “It’s You, It’s Me,” was tops in Silicon Valley.

Good For: A favorite female in your life whom you want to pamper.

Chococurb

For the chocoholics in your life, there is Chococurb.

This Seattle company delivers a box of chocolates monthly — or as a one-time gift. A full-sized box of five to seven chocolate products is $35. A mini box of three chocolate products is $20. Choose a three-month or six-month subscription and the price per box goes down.

It’s also a full e-commerce site, so if you or your recipient is enamored of a particular chocolate, he or she can re-order it easily.

Chococurb's full-sized box.

Chococurb’s full-sized box.

Of the offerings included in my sample full-sized box, I especially enjoyed the Cabruca walnut and fig bar, with its unusual undulating shape and its candied fig pieces decorating the top.

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Chinese-Italian Fried Rice — The Columbus Way (Sponsored Post)

Not your typical fried rice.

Not your typical fried rice.

 

When I was a kid growing up in San Francisco, it was not uncommon for my birthday dinner at home to consist of Chinese roast duck with plum sauce, followed by a St. Honore cake decked out with mini cream puffs.

Because Chinatown and North Beach bump up against one another, my Mom would often trek after work to pick up provisions for dinner from a nearby Chinese deli, then stroll over to an Italian bakery to buy my favorite cake.

Part Chinese, part Italian – it made perfect sense. And it was a most delicious way to celebrate. So much so that when the folks at Columbus Craft Meats invited me to create a recipe using one of their premium salami, I immediately thought of fried rice. Columbus was established in 1917 in North Beach, long before today’s craft salumi craze took hold. It’s what I grew up with, tucked into sandwiches or just nibbled by the slice out of hand.

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San Jose To Welcome First Northern California Halal Guys On June 3

Gyro and chicken platters by the Halal Guys.

Gyro and chicken platters by the Halal Guys.

 

Three Northern California franchises of the wildly popular The Halal Guys are set to open.

But it’s lucky San Jose that will get the first one, beating to the opening date the ones planned for San Francisco’s Tenderloin and downtown Berkeley.

That first Halal Guys will open 11 a.m. June 3 at The Plant, 81 Curtner Ave. #20. The first 100 guests in line will receive a free entree and the first 2,500 guests in line will receive a choice of a complimentary Halal Guys t-shirt or pair of sunglasses.

Get ready for gyro sandwiches, chicken and rice platters, and their famed white sauce and hot sauce.

The Halal Guys phenomenon began in 1990 when three guys from Egypt had the smarts to realize that Muslim cab drivers in New York were hungry for quick halal food. What started as a sidewalk food cart is now a booming franchise with locations not just in New York, but also Southern California, Houston and Chicago.

Thanks to delivery service Caviar, which was ferrying orders ($11.99 for platters) from the Halal Guys for a preview taste, I had a chance to sample some of the food a few days ago.

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Chamba’s Soup(er) Pot and A Food Gal Giveaway

La Chamba soup pot. (photo courtesy of La Chamba)

La Chamba soup pot. (photo courtesy of La Chamba)

 

Whenever I make a big pot of soup, I do so in a cheery lapis Le Creuset that I practically fill to overflow with stock and plenty of veggies and heirloom beans.

But imagine making soup in the striking pot pictured above. Its shape makes it ideal, doesn’t it?

Indeed, it was created just for that purpose, handmade in Columbia from black clay that contains mica, which allows it to withstand a lot of heat, as well as to retain heat.

La Chamba cookware is revered for its beauty and its performance. The unglazed pot can go on the stovetop, in the oven or even the microwave (well, if you’re using a small piece).

Just don’t put it in the dishwasher, though. And before using it for the first time, it must be seasoned by filling it three-quarters of the way with water and baking in a hot oven for half an hour.

Its bulbous shape makes me think of Chinese winter melon soup, a soothing sip if there ever was one.

At Chinese banquet meals, that soup would arrive inside the cavity of the huge winter melon itself, its thick jade-green rind often carved intricately with Chinese characters and its flesh having been scooped into balls or chunks to simmer in the bubbling broth.

My Mom often made a more simplified version in winter fortified with small slivers of chicken that had been coated in egg white to add tenderness.

With its quenching, almost watermelon-like texture, and its mild, subtle natural sweetness, it makes for a soup that goes down comfortingly and easily, and somehow always makes me think of family.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a large, 6-quart La Chamba soup pot (a $69.95 value), courtesy of Toque Blanche, a gourmet cookware store in Half Moon Bay, which also has a sister store, Chefworks of Santa Cruz. It is the only direct importer in California that stocks the entire La Chamba line.

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