Posts filed under ‘Discovering California’

I heart Sweet Constructions

Sweet Constructions is now my favorite cookie company.

I first encountered Sweet Constructions one Friday afternoon while making my weekly visit to Moxsie Street Eats (each week Moxsie invites different street food vendors to their little parking lot to serve up their delicious edible creations to the local Palo Alto community – it is really fantastic!!!). On this particular Friday Sweet Constructions shared the lot with Curry Up Now and The Chai Cart.

I was in a bit of a hurry so we beelined for Sweet Constructions. I had visited their website in anticipation of Street Eats and was dying to try their goods. I got a chocolate crackle cookie and two mini cupcakes, red velvet and salted caramel latte.

After having lunch with Sofie and putting her down for her nap I was finally able to try out my treats. I had just set a cup of tea and the chocolate crackle cookie on my coffee table when I heard a beep on my computer – new email. I went to check it. A few seconds later I heard my dog licking his lips, rather too happily, and realized I had made a fatal mistake. I had left my cookie unattended in a spot all too easy for my dog to snag it. Based on it being at his level he probably thought it was a gift – one he obviously really enjoyed. I was quite saddened by the loss of the cookie, imagining what it would have tasted like. I tweeted “Got a delicious looking @sfcookies chocolate crackle @moxsie street eats…I left it unattended for a minute and my dog ate it. So so sad.” And they very kindly tweeted back “@jeanniecarriere next time we’re @moxsie introduce yourself & your dog. We’ll give u a chocolate crackle. U can eat it in front of him.”

Luckily I had the two mini cupcakes to drown my sadness in, and the salted caramel latte one was like nothing I’d ever tasted before, lots of deep layers of flavors that sneak up on you, super good. But I still really wanted a chocolate crackle, they were calling to me. After a few days I broke down and ordered some online since i wasn’t sure when I’d cross their path again. 

My delivery arrived yesterday with an unexpected extra bag of 4 crackles (!) and a note saying, “Thanks for your order! We were sorry to hear you didn’t get to taste teh crackles at Moxsie, so we added a few more crackles to your box. Just keep these away from the dog” How awesome is that? I love when people seem to really care about what they do, their customers and don’t hesitate to spread a little goodwill.  So in addition to entrancing my taste buds with their cookies, they have won my heart with a simple yet thoughtful and much appreciated gesture.

You must be wondering, how do the chocolate crackles taste? In a word – AMAZING. They are almost like mini chocolate pavlovas but with an inside more like a pillowy brownie. Despite being delivered they tasted so fresh, like a neighbor had just baked a batch and dropped them on my doorstep. You can tell the ingredients are top notch and a lot of love went into them. To die for. They are also the perfect size. If you need a treat but want to be good, you can stick with one. But if you want to take the plunge you can go in for a second and still not feel too guilty. At least that is what I’m telling myself since I ate two in a row…before lunch.

If you’re local to San Francisco you’ll find them at a handful of locations in the city, including their roving Cookie Cart which is usually on Valencia Street at 20th on Friday evenings or on the road at special events, like Moxsie Street Eats. Check out their “About” section on their website for details. Don’t despair if you’re further away since they will ship cookies directly to you and I can attest that they show up fresh tasting and ready to be devoured! I suggest you order some chocolate crackles immediately (at a minimum). I am actually about to send a sampler to my brother at his clothing and accessory store Uncle Pete’s in Boston. I expect he’ll share some with the lucky customers who happen to be shopping when it arrives 🙂

If I manage to snap a photo of a crackle before finishing them I’ll update this post with it so you can see what I mean when I say they were calling to me.

Definitely check them out!
twitter: @sfcookies


June 24, 2010 at 7:05 pm 1 comment

What a week – my inner foodie is content (for the moment)

Since we moved to Palo Alto I have found myself wanting in the food discovery and enjoyment department. Don’t get me wrong, we have had some great food and the local produce and farmer’s markets are amazing. But yet, something has been missing. Between not knowing too many people here, my husband’s current diet (he’s opting for a mostly vegetarian, low/no-fat diet) and just settling in and getting the lay of the land I haven’t stumbled on any really great-get-giddy-excited eateries. I also miss our favorite go tos back home (in particular Italian food).

But that all changed this week. My family was in town visiting giving me a reason (and company) to hit the streets and try out some new places. I also finally figured out why there is a different truck serving food to long lines just down the street from us every week – THANK YOU Moxie. Great discoveries happened and my inner foodie is finally content for the time being. Read on for more details…

The Ferry Building Marketplace
A must visit for for anyone who likes to eat. We’ve been meaning to hit the Ferry Building for a while now, but only just made it this Tuesday while my family was visiting. And if we were to move out of Palo Alto, we may have to move within walking distance of this place. The long corridor is lined with amazing shops selling every kind of fresh and prepared food imaginable from mushrooms to local organic meat to seafood to sweet baked goods to fresh local produce. There were also a number of places selling interesting housewares. I think we’ll be going back for some new plates and bowls. All of this with a focus on local and sustainable products. I was in heaven and wanted to buy everything. The environment was just really nice and inviting as well. You wanted to spend hours there looking through all the shops, and when you tired of that you could grab a snack or a coffee and head outside to find a seat by the water. It was calm and peaceful (Note: we were there on a Tuesday, I imagine it could get quite a bit more congested). We will be back many times and I’ll share more details as we do. In the meantime, read up on our favorite find of our first trip there – Boccalone. 

Boccalone – Tasty Salted Pig Parts
Need I say anymore? We first heard of Boccalone from the Food Network on an episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” when someone went to his place and spoke about the amazing cured meats you could get, including a meat cone, which I have now had the pleasure of experiencing first hand. For $3.50 you can get a paper cone filled with uber delicious meat. It is fun and a really great way to sample their offerings so you can decide what to take home with you. They start with sustainably-raised, heritage-breed pork and create amazing salumi (cured meats, fresh sausages and items like pate and mortadella). I sampled the Mortadella, Prosciutto Cotto and Lonza in my meat cone. All super delicious. I always love Mortadella and cannot wait to go back and try a Mortadella hot dog! My favorite was the Prosciutto Cotto though. It was really meaty and had great flavor and texture. It would be fantastic in a sandwich or cooked in an omelet or some pasta. If there wasn’t such a huge line behind Jeromy (who had already paid) I would have bought some to take home. We did take home a few varieties of salame, some pancetta and Italian sausages. We grilled up the sausages on Tuesday, right before my siblings left for Boston, and WOW were they good. The best Italian sausages I have ever had. Next time we go to Boccalone we’re brining a cooler to fill up!

See’s Candies – Limited Edition: Strawberry Truffle
My brother was shopping around for treats to bring back to his clothing and accessories shop, Uncle Pete’s in Boston, since he had been gone all week. He went into the See’s Candies shop at the Stanford Mall and they offered him a free sample of their limited edition Strawberry Truffle. He left with a box to bring back to Boston. He raved about them so much when he got back to our place that he and my sister made another trip back and brought some home for us to try. And I have to say, they are something special. I wish I had one right now. They are strawberry truffles covered in white chocolate and shaped like hearts. The really amazing thing is how the filling tastes so much like just picked perfectly sweet strawberries. It brings back memories of pick strawberries right off the plant and eating them still warm from the sun. If you are near a shop that sells the truffles you MUST try them. I’m not sure how long they will be around, so hurry! Update: I went to get some more this weekend and was sadly informed that last Friday was the last day for them. I was actually really pretty bummed. They said if enough people loved it they made add it to their regular options! So let them know they should bring it back. Though I wonder if they will be as good all year round, versus in strawberry season.

Hong Kong Bistro
Being from Macau, I took my family to Castro Street in Mountain View (one town over from Palo Alto) to explore the Asian restaurants and hit up the Hong Kong Bakery and Asian market. The restaurant we were planning on going to wasn’t open, nor was the bakery. We weren’t really off to a great start. After a little shopping at the market we walked back toward the car trying to find a place for lunch. I had seen the “Hong Kong Bistro” last time I was on Castro and had wanted to check it out. So we popped in and they immediately greeted us in Cantonese! A nice surprise, especially since we’re muts and people tend to think we don’t speak Chinese. We were definitely eating there after that. They were super busy but made space for us in the back. The service is efficient (very much like Macau). The food, while many may not thing it is all that, was amazing to us since they had many dishes hard to find outside of Macau or Hong Kong. We were like kids in a candy store wanting to order everything. They even had Milk Tea the way they make it in Macau. YUM! One of my favorite things in the world. They had dishes like Baked Pork Chops with rice or noodles, Portuguese Chicken (the only times I have had it other than in Macau is when I make it – with my made up recipe) and noodles in soup. If you were in Macau or Hong Kong, the quality probably would not be good enough to keep their doors open….but for here…this nostalgic food is very very welcome.

Moxsie’s Street Eats, Kung Fu Tacos and Simply Mochi
For a few weeks now ever so often there would be a different Street Food Vendor (Truck) parked in a little parking lot in front of a pretty nondescript building just steps away from our house. I didn’t pay enough attention to determine if there was any regularity to it but did notice there was always a sign (in addition to long lines) outside referring to food and fashion. Today I finally remembered the name and looked it up. MOXSIE, an online fashion retailer focusing on independent designers, giving back and customer service, happens to be made up of a bunch of foodies. And so started Moxsie’s Street Eats. They invite various street food vendors to park in their lot for a couple hours (11:30-1:30pm) every Friday to serve up their specialties to Moxsie’s employees and anyone else in the area! And lucky for me, I live just a few steps away!! It was only 12:30pm when I realized I too could part take in the offering. I still had time. I got Sofie in her stroller and we walked over. Today, KungFu Tacos was there with Simply Mochi offering dessert. IMG_0391

I ordered a Roast Duck taco and hurried home to try it. It was beyond good. Even though I love mango I am normally not a fan of it as a salsa, but it was something special on this taco. The combination was a lovely warm savory richness with a just right sweet, cool, freshness from the salsa. I’m already wondering when they will be back! I want more tacos!! I was also hoping to try one of every mochi they had, but unfortunately they were sold out. I did get to speak with Linda, the super nice, all smiles, owner of Simply Mochi, and she told me they deliver to Palo Alto! Yay! And strawberry is the current seasonal flavor. Yum. I also asked about the use of egg, and only the lemon curd one has egg in it. Good news for Sofie. I am sure she will love them and it is always more fun when we get to share.

May 14, 2010 at 7:02 pm Leave a comment

Well overdue…

We have moved from the Boston area (Newton) to Palo Alto, California. The move and life in general has kept me so busy that my poor blog has suffered from total abandonment the last few months. And it is so ironic because there has been so so much to write about and share…that pesky thing called time just seemed to keep eluding me.

Moving and settling in across the country is quite a lengthy and laborious task. But we have made a lot of progress since we moved here the very beginning of January 2010. I finally think I may be able to sneak away for a few minutes here and there to share some our adventures here on the West Coast. 

Our new home, Palo Alto is about 30 minutes south of San Francisco and is home to Stanford University, a number of high tech companies such as Facebook and Hewlett-Packard and some of the best public schools around. We actually live right in downtown Palo Alto, which is a very vibrant and walkable area with tons of shops, eateries and parks. Part of our criteria for picking where we would live was being able to walk to a farmer’s market, and we now live a mere 0.6 miles from one in Palo Alto. Yay!

If you had read my blog before this move you would have noticed I was trying to build a reference of great local products and companies that I found while trying to be a better localvore (where it made sense). It was called Newton 100. Well, I have removed that section from my blog since, well, we’re not in Newton anymore and honestly there is almost no point in having such a reference here since it is like being in a candy store for anyone who wants great local produce and products. In fact, almost every other yard had some kind of citrus tree growing in it (even tiny yards!) – you can’t get more local than that! And since we moved here in January, all of these citrus trees have been green with gorgeous fruit dangling from them. I am a bit in awe. So much so that I have caught the bug and am in the process of squeezing as many edible (but easy to take care of and perennial) plants in our little garden as possible. We’re in the middle of a landscaping project to make our yard more functional for our family and I figure, if you’re going to plant something, why not have it be edible? You can grow so much here, there are so many fun choices that will provide great treats to eat, a fun experience for us (especially our daughter) and make the garden look great. I find myself getting a little giddy thinking about it. I’ll be sure to blog about the landscaping project and show you pictures of the end result.

In addition to the great produce (and year long farmers markets) we have found a number of local gems that I’ll write more about like Straus Family Dairy and 18 Rabbits Granola bars. 

Lots to love here but there are certainly things I miss quite a bit. Immediately you miss family and friends when you move somewhere without the same network. But then…other things creep up. For instance, I miss really great maple syrup! The best ones at whole foods here all come from Vermont (no real local options that I have found) and but the selection isn’t great. New England decided to keep all the good stuff to themselves. I miss the fantastic maple syrup we could buy through our CSA last summer that came from New Hampshire. Just a couple weeks ago I realized there is a huge gap in the availability of great Italian food (I haven’t had a sausage and peppers sub since I left Boston) and bakeries here. I am compensating by enjoying lots of Mexican hot chocolate…and I have asked my sister to bring me some Italian cookies from Boston when she comes to visit in a couple weeks!

Well, that is the update for now. More to come soon.

April 22, 2010 at 7:24 pm Leave a comment

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