Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! I am not the most religious person, but I like to think of it as a joyful day where good karma gets passed around. Plus, it is a great excuse to listen to croony old Christmas carols. Will you judge me if my Pandora is still churning out the holiday tunes after the New Year?

School is done until the end of next month! I am happy with my progress and can not wait for final grades to be released. Although…there is an A- that is hanging over my shoulders and I need to see the end result as soon as possible.

Without further ado, I just wanted to show off some big and little things received for Christmas/happy really late birthday/good job in school.

Could not find a Christmas hat in time, so the 49ers beanie had to make do! This picture was actually taken on Saturday right before Taylor and I did last minute Christmas shopping (more about that on Friday).

You probably saw this picture on my Instagram already, but if you do not have me added, here it is!

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Can we talk abut my new KitchenAid?! I am the most excited girl in the whole world. I still have not taken it out of the box due to how perfect and beautiful it is. If possible, please link up your favorite recipes that need a stand mixer so I can feel like a 50s housewife. My new kitchenaid matches my Urban Kitchen perfectly.

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My sister is the sneakiest snake and surprised me with this complete collection of all of Thomas Keller’s Napa creations. The books are heavier than the KitchenAid! Friends, you are in for a real recipe treat when I get the courage to take the books out of the plastic.

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Anyone that knows me in real life knows that I have been talking non-stop about this food grinder attachment. I even obsessed over it on my Holiday Gift Guide for Food Lovers, which looking back might have been a subconscious wish list of my own thoughts. I think it is pretty funny how I wanted this before I even found out I was getting a KitchenAid.

Ground meat and from-scratch pizzas from here on out, mark my words.

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Isn’t this teapot a beauty? She is made from cast-iron and will come out only on special occasions. I was just telling my friend the other day that I wanted to start drinking more tea, this could not of come at a more perfect time.

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And finally, the award for the most thoughtful gift goes to my patient, Bob! He goes to NYC once every two months because he loves the jazz clubs and the vibe of the concrete jungle. We have gotten to know each other for over five years now, so he feels more like family than just a patient. He just came back from another trip and dropped off a little care package on Saturday for me because I told him that I was going in mid-Jan. He included his favorite jazz clubs, a subway map “that always works even when cellphone don’t”, a Metrocard with the cutest little cardholder, t-shirt and a magazine of fun things to do.

Although it was all small things, I almost teared up because of the sincerity; thinking about it again makes me happy.

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Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you got everything you wanted plus more. I am just relaxing with family for the day and will see you on Friday. 🙂

What cool things did you get?

If you don’t celebrate Christmas, what are your NYE plans?

Holiday Gift Guide For The Food Lover In Your Life

I am a bad blogger this month, shame on me. I use to never skip days because I loved having my calendar perfect every MWF, but after traveling in the summer, a snowball effect has occurred.

Fear not, my last final is next Thursday and after that I will come equipped with all things food. I also kind of miss over-sharing my life with you.

This is my first year blogging and I have always wanted to do one of these guides. There are so many different styles and personalities so gift guides for ‘your best friend’ or ‘hunky man’ are out of the question for me. It also does not help that I am the worst shopper for people who I am close with.

However, food I know and food I love. And today is Friday! Score for me, because I managed to get two Friday Five’s in a role. Today is a good day.

Because I am a law abiding citizen, I am informing you that I signed up for affiliate links today from Amazon because I just had to pay the yearly fee for hosting. If anyone purchases the items from Amazon I link, I get pennies on the dollar so do not side-eye me and think I am shelling out! Mama has to make a little somehow. 😉

Five Things To Get The Food Lover In Your Life

Or me, because that would be lovely. Or at least show me a picture of what food related items you got so we can bond over them.

1. Personalized State Cutting Board

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How awesome are these cutting boards?! I see how some states might work better than others (cough Colorado vs. Hawaii), but this gift is practical and also a little unique compared to what you might normally find in your local mall.There are cheaper versions but I really like AHeirloom’s brand. All the boards are an inch thick and made with love from a married couple in Brooklyn, NY.

PS: Does anyone shop at malls anymore or is everyone doing their ordering online this year?

2. Kitchenaid Food Grinder

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Most home cooks or married couples (who put it on their registry) have this coveted piece of kitchen machinery and use it a few times to make cookies and bread before storing it away in the cobwebbed cabinet for infinity and beyond. This food grinder brings a whole new twist for the stand mixer and kicks it up to a whole ‘nother level. I hate eating ground chuck from grocery stores because of all the horror stories I have heard in my class; I can not imagine anything more satisfying than grinding your own meat.

Conversely, you can be a person like me and say a prayer to the cooking gods every night hoping a Kitchenaid makes its way to your doorstep the next morning. It has not happened yet so maybe I need to try harder.

3. A Thomas Keller Cookbook

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Maybe it is because I have a school-girl crush on my food idol or the fact that I got to meet him a few months ago, but this would be a wonderful gift and I will be happy to mail you my address if you care to send me one (just kidding, really). One of the houses I nanny for has Ad Hoc at Home and the pictures are visually stunning and it looks great in the kitchen. I almost thought to put it on the coffee table but that is just silly.

4. Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator

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I came to the conclusion that anyone that loves food loves wine as well, so this would be an awesome gift! The Vinturi aerator looks fancy and will make you seem like a wine connoisseur when your guest come over to eat your (freshly ground) home made meatballs, recipe adapted from Thomas Keller’s cooking book, while graze on cheese served on your new state cutting board.

Wow, I am good.

5. A gift certificate to your favorite gourmet restaurant.

I am not talking about the Olive Garden. If you live in a foodie city, this is the perfect gift to help your friends expand horizons. A lot of higher-end restaurants will have these available and make them quite nice to look at. A few years ago, I received one to Gary Danko for my birthday and I probably would not of thought of going without the kind gesture. Chances are you will become their new bff or they will spend it all at the bar. Win, win.

Last week’s Friday Five: The Five Best Christmas Songs Of All Time

And that’s it! I have about a million more ideas but this is a good start. This year I made it clear to everyone that I will be nice and cheap and just want slippers for Christmas. With my luck, I will end up with about 35 different pairs.

What are good gifts idea I can get my friends? I am absolutely clueless.

What do you realllllly want for the holidays? (I am trying to be politically correct).

Nespresso Grand Chef Rendezvous

When I started this blog eight months ago, it was far from my wildest dreams that it would open up the opportunities that presented itself to me on Friday. I have to say I’m still in a daze.

Let me back track a bit. I was sitting on the subway in New York, heading to JFK so I can catch a flight back home when I opened my e-mail and saw that I was being asked to attend an intimate dinner hosted by the CEO and President of Nespresso USA. The event would feature a six-course meal created by a collection of the world’s top chefs.

Um, yes please! I replied back and we spent the next few weeks getting everything together.

I got in the car a little bit after seven and made it just in time to snag a few hors d’oeuvres before dinner started.

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The reception was held in the outside foyer of San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building. It was the perfect place to host the event because Nespresso is actually a partner of America’s Cup and the official sponsor of Emirates Team New Zealand.

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This is where I started to learn a little more about Nespresso and I gathered some fun facts I wanted to share with you!

They started the company over 25 years ago in Switzerland and has grown to become one of the most well known manufactures in the world. Their goal was to create the perfect cup of Espresso coffee by using a combination of quality Grands Crus coffee, stylish machines and exceptional customer service. They even use the best percolator for their brews to get the best results ever.

I can’t remember what each of the appetizers were exactly, but just know that they were amazing and really made me eager to start the dinner cooked by the chefs.

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And then my life changed. I got to meet Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry, Per Se, ad hoc and Bouchon Bistro and Bakery. He is every foodie’s idol and the only American chef to obtain 2 three-Michelin-stars simultaneously (I’ll toot his horn for him).

I asked him if he would hate me forever if we took a picture together and he was incredibly charming about it. Swoon.

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Still floating on clouds, I headed up to the main hall where the dinner was being held. Nespresso did an amazing job arranging the night and I appreciated the meticulous attention they placed to each and every little detail. It was something out of a movie, seriously.

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My heart also sings to our live entertainment! They did an amazing job throughout the night playing live jazz and set the mood perfectly.

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The night began with an introduction about Nespresso and the event.

The host opened with a great saying, “Without a story, a shark remains a fish. Without a story, Nespresso remains a good coffee”. The chefs combined hold 11 Michelin stars and took part of the ‘Nespresso Chef Academy’, where they mastered the subtleties of each Grand Cru (coffee) and learn about the continued quest for excellence that Nespresso is defined by.

Each chef used coffee some way in their recipes and it was fun trying to pinpoint where the taste was coming from in each dish, but for this they use quality grade coffee , the best from Corporate Coffee Systems that you can find online.

Before we dive into each course, I also wanted to give a great thanks to our Master Sommelier, Andrea Robinson (winner of three James Beard Awards!). Her pairings were so perfect and I couldn’t imagine sipping anything else with the flawless food. Also, she managed to have all the wine come from Napa Valley. So proud to be a Californian!

1. Our first plate was prepared by Chef Marc Forgione of Marc Forgione. He is an Iron Chef and the youngest American Chef/Owner to win consecutive Michelin stars.

Alex’s Swordfish

with Fennel Kraut, Grain Mustard, Nespresso Rosabaya de Columbia, Wild Juniper Smoke

paired with Domaine Carneros Cuvee de la Pompadour Brut Rose Sparkling, Napa Valley NV

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Throughout each course, the chefs took a stand and explained their thought process behind each dish.

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His inspiration came while he was eating pastrami on rye in NYC. I thought it was interesting because that’s where my mind took me when I bit into the kraut. The Brut brought out the coffee grinds that were in the swordfish’s crust.

Chef Forgione mentioned he loved being apart of Nespresso‘s team because he often uses coffee while cooking.

(**I also wanted to say sorry for the quality of the pictures! The lighting in the room, as intimate as it was, was not the best for taking pictures. I tried to get official pictures e-mailed to me before my post went up but it doesn’t look like it will happen! I will try to update if I can get them in the next few days!) 🙂

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As you guys may know, I am not the biggest fan of seafood. However, the swordfish was absolutely phenomenal. If all seafood tasted like this I would have to change sides!

2. Next up was a treat from Josh Emett of Rata in New Zealand. Chef Emett is a MasterChef NZ judge and worked many years alongside Gordon Ramsay.

Seared Venison Loin

with Black Grapes with Nespresso Arpeggio, Celariac, Enoki Mushroom

paired with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon ‘SLV’, Napa Valley 1993

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Chef Emett served the venison in a carpaccio style. With his restaurant in New Zealand and Nespresso being the official sponsor of NZ’s team, it only came naturally that he chose venison as his dish for the evening. The grapes were cooked with the Arpeggio coffee that had a certain sweetness then dry taste, which created the perfect earthly palate.

3. The third dish came was designed by Chef Yannick All´eno who runs the kitchen at Le 1947. His mission for the past 25 years has been to reinvent traditional dishes in surprising ways.

Butternut Squash

Flavored with Vanilla and Nespresso Indriya from India, Rye Bread Mousse

paired with Grgich Hills Paris Cuvee Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2010

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This dish was a nice sweet intermission from the savory flavors of the first two dishes. He says this dish reminds him of a female, light but complex.

4. Coming in fourth was Thomas Keller, the owner/chef of French Laundry, Per Se, ad hoc and Bouchon Bistro and Bakery. He is the only American-born chef to hold more than one three star ratings by the Michelin Guide. He was also designated a Chevalier of The French Legion of honor in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the traditions of French cuisine and his role in elevating cooking in America.

Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobsters

with Black Mission Figs, Cipollini Onions and Nespresso Rosabaya de Colombia Chocolate Sauce

paired with Saintsbury Brown Ranch Pinot Noir, Los Carneros-Napa Valley 2005

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Chef Keller was extremely humbling, he expressed huge gratitude for the chefs and sous chefs downstairs. The coffee in the chocolate sauce balanced the acidity and the fruit blended well with the figs.

I never thought I would eat lobster and chocolate at the same time, but it worked so well together. He mentioned that this was originally a recipe at The French Laundry many years ago.

5. The penultimate course was prepared by Chef Mauro Colagreco of Mirazur. His restaurant is located in the French riviera and he’s known for his creative gastronomic cuisines that blend with the best of Mediterranean cooking.

Slow-Cooked Pigeon

with Nespresso Crealto Limited Edition Polenta and Coconut Sauce

paired with Trefethen Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley 2010

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This dish was quite the chatter of the night. They raised over 200 hundred pigeons in Northern California for this event and it had to be prepared in such a way that it was brought to the table at the perfect temperate. Magnifique!

6. Last but not least was Chef Michelle Bernstein of Michys. She serves haute cuisine with Latin touches.

Chocolate Chorizo Cremeux

with Cherry-Pedro Ximenez- Nespresso Decaffeinato Intenso Sauce and TCHO Cocoa Nib-Nespresso Ristretto Streusel

paired with Prager Family Royal Escort ‘Port’, Napa Valley 2009

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This desert was INCREDIBLE. If I thought lobster and chocolate was unique, then chorizo and chocolate mousse is another category. The chorizo was based on he Latina side and the sauce was derived from fresh pluots grown here in San Francisco. If Chef Bernstein intended the night to finish with a bang, she should give herself a pat on the back because that’s exactly what happened! I couldn’t get enough.

With the dinner ending after midnight, the chefs all came together for a round of applause. It was surreal to be surrounded by so much talent.

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The after party offered coffee for all the guests and Nespresso even organized a light show with the Bay Bridge! How cool is that? I managed to take a picture on my way home at a red light.

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Breaking Bad is about to come on, so I wanted to give Nespresso another big big thank you for this wonderful opportunity! I hold it close to my heart.

Already have my eye on the Gran Maestra, time to start pinching pennies. 🙂

**Nespreso provided me the dinner, all opinions are proudly my own.

Which dish would you be the most excited to try? Do you have a Nespresso machine? What did you think about Breaking Bad last night?