Otra Vez

I hope you do not hate me after this post.

Why? Because I am posting pictures of Beretta, yet again. Last time, I promise.

Half of the Lisbon house went out to eat a midday meal on Saturday and we had bad luck choosing a restaurant. Everything good was either closed because of the awkward timing or way too far away. Luckily, our go-to Beretta welcomed us with open arms.

Their arugula & fennel salad was a great starter and paved the way for our feast to come.

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Just expect a picture of Taylor at least once a week now. She makes an awesome dining companion. I do not know if it is our shared love of arugula or because she is always down to leave at a minute’s notice to grab Easy Breezy with me at 10:00 pm. More than once…wish I was kidding.

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Can we take a minute and soak up this meat antipasti? From the top to the bottom: prosciutto, lard, salami, mortadella and hot coppa. We do not have to talk about the pickled salad goin’ on in the upper left hand corner because I did not like that. At all.

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I love this picture because it is an actual candid. I can only imagine the dirty thoughts that ran through my head when the waitress brought the plate out.

Hint: It involved a crostini and meatgasm in every bite. A calorie less than divine.

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I found my table lighting hot spot for these broccolini dosed in garlic, olive oil and peppers. It is hard to believe a dish so simple can taste so good.

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I know gnocchi is a cult favorite, but who has had it pan seared? It is life changing and I want to recreate something similar soon. This dish was made with pancetta and porcini mushrooms.

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Lastly, what Beretta is known for, their thin crust pizza.

On top is a broccoli rage, pancetta, tomato & mozzarella special and the bottom has hot salmi, coppa, tomato, provolone & diavolicchio peppers.

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This week is bitter sweet for me, I have to work and study a lot but will reward myself with a mini trip down to LA for the weekend. 🙂 Details to follow.

What are your plans for the long weekend? (Forget the fact that I am asking on a Wednesday).

Gran Maestria

Man, am I a lucky girl. Last week I was studying upstairs when my roommate sent me a picture message of a package at the front door saying, “ANOTHER ONE?!”.

I have school books coming from all over the world and my paycheck has been going straight to Amazon (free Prime!) due to unnecessary browsing. This leads to a disgusting amount of brown boxes arriving daily at the Tara HQ. However, I wasn’t expecting one last Thursday. I ran down the stairs and let out an audible gasp when I saw the Nespresso logo on the box.

It couldn’t be…but was it? The box was heavy, but I hauled it up three flights of stairs with ease; it must be all the strength workouts I’ve been handling (read: five squats a week if lucky).

Ta-da! My very own Nespresso Gran Maestria machine! Isn’t she gorgeous? To be honest, it took me a day or two to take it out and display it because it looked so nice in the box and I didn’t want to touch it. Now, it is definitely one of my new favorite kitchen equipments. I even set up a little table display for her, she deserves the best.

The folks at Nespresso saw my blog post about the Grand Chef Rendezvous event I was invited to and wanted to thank me for writing it, but really, I should be the one thanking them! I do not mean to sound so sponsored, but they are one of the best companies I have worked with. They also did not ask me to write a review or even publish this post but I seriously wanted to share my excitement and how much I have been loving this beautiful piece of machinery, but they did send me a bonus Burr grinder for my troubles, which I thought was really sweet of them.

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All the machines come with a tasting of the different coffee flavors Nespresso has to offer. Some of them are for espressos, others for lungos and even three decaf options for people that already have that inner built-up energy.

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My roommates and I set up the machine earlier in the week and had a mini mid-day coffee commencement to welcome the Gran Maestria to our house.

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Nespresso has many different models at a wide price range and each machine can do different tasks. Mine can make espressos, cappuccinos and latte macchiatos. It also comes with a milk frother and espresso cup warmer!

Our first test run was a regular espresso, please excuse the shot glass. We did not have espresso cups in advance so we had to make do with what was already in the kitchen. It kind of works though, no?

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All of us took a sip with our pinkies up and thought it was quite good, tut tut. Since we work best with baby steps, we then attempted to make a cappuccino.

Step one…

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Listo!

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By the end of this tasting, all of us had the foamy upper lip going on. Real classy, if you must say.

I don’t even know what to call this one but it was delicious. I am going to start working on my foam art and showcase it at the next big art exhibition in San Francisco. 😉 Requests, anyone?

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An Americano for the Americans.

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Lastly, because everyone already had (at minimum) the amount of two espresso shots, we made a Latte macchiato.

We definitely need to improve on our technique, or at least our glass equipment.

Helpful hint: shot glasses do not pour with finesse.

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But the end product came out amazing! I’m sure with a few more trials, I can put any coffee house baristas to shame.

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Now, lets talk pros and cons.

PROS:

  • The machine works very fast, I made one espresso and one latte (including heating up the milk) this morning in less then 3 minutes. This is really important to me because saving time when you have to get out the house before seven in the morning is optimal.
  • I love the built in frother. I know some machines make it really complicated but I just choose which setting I want (out of four) and push a button and I get warm foam or heated milk whenever I please.
  • It definitely classes up my kitchen, the platinum finish is stunning in person. Also, the two knobs in the center reminds me of eyes and makes the machine look like a coffee robot. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto…
  • Cleaning up is a breeze with the use of pods (which also falls into the maybe-con category, read on). No more grinding, dripping, washing every little piece of machinery. The pods fall into a little storage area and you just need to empty the water and container disposal.
  • The options are endless. I went on their website and they have so many recipes to try including deserts!! I am so pumped to experiment with my new baby.

CONS:

  • The cup warmer only fits an espresso cup. Although, this makes sense since it is an espresso machine.
  • I like to be as environmentally friendly as possible, meaning using glass bottles instead of plastic and reusing things as much as possible. I was a little weary of the coffee pods because they seem wasteful, but this is one of those situations where you compromise and factor in the convenience issue. I did a little bit of research and found out that Nespresso actually has an awesome recycling program where you can bring the used pods into their Boutiques or affiliated stores
  • It is a little pricey, but you have to think of it as an investment piece like a Vitamix or Kitchenaid. There are also many budget friendly options like the Pixie or U!

The ultimate con is that this machine makes me never want to buy another cup of coffee again! Drats! A latte at a coffee shop can easily round up to five dollars and I can make one at home for 70 cents. I can also put in exactly the kind of milk I want and I have so many different flavor and intensity options to my disposal.

Speaking of milk, I tried using almond milk and it didn’t froth well. My roommate, who used to work at a coffee shop, said that almond milk just isn’t the best to make foam and to use cows milk or soy milk. I read online people have had success with almond milk. Any suggestions?

Thank you Nespresso!

**Nespresso sent me the machine as a gift but did not ask me to publish this post or review the machine. All opinions are (always) proudly my own.

Now on to food! I have been eating out a lot lately. This also has it’s pros and cons (last list, I promise).

Pros: Everything I consume is delicious. I do not have to wash any dishes. I have something to look forward to after a long day out.

Cons: My wallet is not happy with me. Neither is my waistline. Or my produce that is slowly spoiling in my fridge.

The only cool thing I have made at home this week is green beans and prosciutto, tomato & cream cheese open faced sandwiches.

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I also get my greens in other ways, such as salads and chicken (with broccoli/bok choy/swiss chard), but who wants to hear bout those boring things when we can talk about Patxi’s pizza?

It is tradition for me to eat a salad before pizza. That way I don’t feel bad about eating 2-3 slices more than I need to. It’s the little things, right guys?

Arugula salad with shaved Grana Padano, EVOOO and lemon. It was so simple and sometimes that’s all you really need.

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Patxi’s is known for their deep dish, but I really wanted a thin crust pizza. We ordered the Picante, with Zoe’s spicy salami, hot coppa, mozzarella, tomato sauce and chopped pepperoncini.

It reminded me of my favorite pizza from Beretta, which I like to lovingly call the fancy pants meat lovers. Too delicious. For more product reviews check out Comparoid.

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Favorite kind of coffee (espresso, macchiatos, lattes, iced)? Can you spot the Arrested Development reference?

Thank You Mama’s

SF Pride has came and went just as fast as it came this weekend! It was a huge shit show and unfortunately, I didn’t partake in any of the activities. I heard from many friends that it was the craziest it’s ever been, especially with the DOMA act being struck down and California finally legalizing gay marriage!

I tried to avoid anything north of my house on Saturday because I didn’t want to deal with the crazies, so Chi and I ate at Beretta, one of our favorite pizza and Italian restaurants in the city. We were driving on Valencia St. for a place to eat, and pulled over when we realized that it didn’t have a line out the door. Talk about a lucky day!

We ordered the broccolini and peperoncino, drenched in olive oil and garlic. I honestly just wanted something really light, since we didn’t eat ’til around 3 in the afternoon and I didn’t want to eat dinner too late.

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We also shared the hot salami, coppa, tomato, provolone & diavolicchino pizza. The fancy pants meat lovers, que no?

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But what I really wanted to show you guys was where I went on Thursday, with my middle school best friend. It’s one of those food places that are featured on every top five places to eat lists about San Francisco. I even briefly mentioned it on my Friday Five: Places To Bring Out-Of-Town Guests.

Mama’s.

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We only had to wait an hour, which was awesome. However, while I was in line, it made me wonder why I was so happy to wait in line for an hour to eat breakfast. Usually the wait is around 2-3 hours any day of the week, which is pretty ridiculous now that I think about it.

We finally made it to the entrance after getting a nice little tan in line. Once you get the okay to go in, you order in the front and they tell you which table to sit in.

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We found a cute friend next to us, he looks a little agitated from having to wait so long.

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First the drinks came out. I ordered an iced coffee because water seemed boring and orange juice was too expensive.

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Finally, my beautiful prosciutto and tomato benedict came. I almost peed my pants from excitement, it was cooked to perfection as always. Pictures can not do justice how good the food is. The line out the door everyday isn’t accidental.

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Vika got the Northern Italian omelet, which included pancetta, mushrooms, basil, tomatoes and garlic jack cheese. I was really fond of her selection and I would like to get it next time. But I know I’m going to have buyer’s remorse if I don’t get my prosciutto and tomato benedict. I’m one of those people that has to order the same thing every time they go to a restaurant once I found my favorite.

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We also shared the Kugelhopf: House Baked Brioche Bread with Golden Raisins, Cinnamon, Dates and Sliced Almonds. Every time I post I say it’s the best french toast ever, but it’s actually the ACTUAL best french toast ever. Served with a side of their house made strawberry jelly…mmm.

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Did you celebrate Pride in your hometown? If not, how was your weekend?

Chorizo Lentil Soup

I was driving to Trader Joe’s yesterday morning when the radio talk hosts caught my attention. First, they asked how people thought the world would end. I fumbled around with a few answers in my head before the host proposed an asteroid crashing on to our planet. He also mentioned that the international government probably wouldn’t announce their findings to ensure chaos to be kept under control. Although I understand why, I’d be kind of bummed to find out that I had a month to do whatever I want.

What would I do, though? Travel? Lay outside all day? Reveal my deepest darkest secrets? Honestly, I’d probably live my life like normal just incase the astronomers were wrong. Totally random, but the question has been in the back of my mind all day.

Obligatory picture of my new grocery tote. I felt wrong wearing my Whole Food reusable bag at Trader Joe’s. But it has rainbow ice cream and donations help support SF Pride. #firstworldproblems

(P.S. Did you know San Francisco charges 10 cents a bag, if you don’t bring your own? Kind of cool and annoying at the same time because I ALWAYS forget my bag(s) at home.)

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Chi is a cheese lover so I picked up an assortment of Spanish cheeses and parma prosciutto. I literally couldn’t finish my sentence before he raced to the refrigerator to make a plate. No lie.

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I bought too much chorizo for my recipe, so I made Chorizo Breakfast Burritos for brunch and saved a serving for Chi to eat when he stopped home for lunch. I could of gone for three burritos, but I stopped at two. Thank goodness for my self control, phew. (Being sarcastic).

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I was eating in the lunchroom at work on Friday when my coworker, Al, brought lentil soup that he made the night before. I made him give me a bite and it was so good! He told me his mom use to make it for him all the time. I knew I had to recreate it for my recipe this week.

Chorizo Lentil Soup

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 1 Hour

Serves: 4-6

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Ingredients:

  • .75 Lbs Chorizo
  • 2 Cups Dried Lentils
  • 1 Russet Potato, chopped
  • 1 Medium Onion, diced
  • 3 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, diced
  • 6 Cups Chicken/Vegetable broth
  • 1 Cup water
  • Fresh Basil
  • 1/3 Tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1/2 Tsp Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

TO PREP

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1. Chop the washed potato and tomatoes, dice the onion and garlic.

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2. Throw in the tomatoes and onion in a pan on medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then throw in the potatoes and chorizo for 8 minutes. Take 3 leaves of basil and rip little pieces into the pan. Stir occasionally.

TO COOK

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3. Wash 2 cups of lentils. In a pot on high, pour in the broth and water. Add in the lentils. When broth is boiling, reduce heat to low. Stir in all the ingredients from the pan and mix.

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4. Add in thyme, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Taste the broth until the flavor fits your needs. Stir and let the pot sit on low for ~50 minutes, until lentils and potatoes are the correct texture. Soft but not mushy.

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5. Serve with fresh basil and top with queso fresco for garnish! This would be delicious with a side of crostini. 🙂

How do you think the world will end? How can I remember to bring my reusable bags with me?