Smitten with Smitten’s pumpkin

October always finds me in the midst of a serious pumpkin binge. I’m one of those people, the pumpkin obsessed. This year, of course, has been no different, and while I’ve already eaten plenty of tasty pumpkin treats, my favorite, by far, is unfortunately almost 3,000 miles away.

It was during my days in San Francisco that I ate the most delicious ice cream to maybe have ever landed in my mouth, the maple brown sugar squash ice cream at Smitten Ice Cream in Hayes Valley.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin ice cream I could eat all day every day

All of Smitten’s ice creams are made to order on the spot using liquid nitrogen to freeze the ingredients at crazy low temperatures super fast. In this case, the ingredients were pumpkin, milk, molasses, cinnamon, cardamom, brown sugar, nutmeg and ginger. If you want the whole scientific breakdown, better read this than try and get a proper explanation from me. What I can tell you, however, is that this ice cream is phenomenal. Thick and deliciously creamy, with all the spicy warmth of pumpkin pie spices, this was the ice cream version of the best imaginable pumpkin pie.

It’s a seasonal ice cream but all kidding aside, I could eat this year round, every day actually.

Smitten Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

An old favorite in a new way

Even though I was born in Costa Rica and raised in Miami, mine wasn’t the typical Hispanic household. (My dad, a crotchety old Italian-American, is to blame for this.) We never salsa danced,  celebrated Noche Buena, or had abuelitos and dozens of assorted family members.

But if there’s one stereotype we absolutely perpetuated, it’s eating sweet plantains, or platanos maduros as my mom calls them.

They’re usually a side dish, served alongside rice and beans as I most frequently had them growing up, but really I could eat a whole mountain of plantains just on their own, I love them so much. So recently, during my visit to San Francisco, when I saw a burrito at The Little Chihuahua that was stuffed with plantains instead of meat, I HAD to have it.

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A not-so-great photo of a fantastic burrito stuffed full of sweet plantains

The Little Chihuahua’s plantain burrito is first of all, anything but little. It’s a hold-it-with-two-hands heavy affair of sweet fried plantains, black beans and rice, pico de gallo, roasted red peppers, sour cream, cheese, salsa, cilantro and onion.  And as I thought it might be, this burrito was freakin’ delicious. The plantains added a nice sweet flavor to the otherwise savory, zesty, spicier flavors and a soft, almost creamy consistency.

As a lifelong plantains lover, I would order this kind of burrito every time if places other than The Little Chihuahua had it. Add a plantain burrito to my long list of reasons for loving San Francisco.

The Little Chihuahua on Urbanspoon

Definitely Better Than Oreos

Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade, so I completely understand why Coffee + Milk, the cute coffeehouse at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), named its outrageously delicious chocolate cookie sandwich a BTO, as in Better Than Oreos.

An appropriate name for an insanely good cookie

An appropriate name for an insanely good cookie

Because yes, Oreo, darling, you know I love you, and I prove that with my inability to ever eat just one of you (or even two or three, sometimes it just really gets outta control) but C+M’s BTO is serious stuff. It’s really not messin’ around. It is better. It’s way better.

But it’s almost not even fair to compare the two. The BTO is rich and chocolatey, made with two large, palm-sized sable cookies, all wonderfully crumbly and grainy, speckled with dark chocolate chips, sandwiching a thick, decadent, oh-so-sweet, frosting-like cream filling.

LACMA is a great museum full of wonderful, beautiful works, but C+M’s BTO might’ve just been my favorite.

California love*

Happy camper, right here. So happy, in fact, I'm doing that face where I look like a cartoon.

California sun and a nice drink make for a happy camper. So happy, in fact, that I’m doing that face where I look like a cartoon.

I’m usually in a bit of a funk after I come back from a good trip somewhere. You know, the ol’ post vacation blues. But since coming back from California last week, where I spent a damn near perfect eight days, I’ve managed to not only not be mopey, but rather hold on to my vacation high!

Gorgeous weather in both Los Angeles and San Francisco (read: sunshine, cool breezes and not a single tiny bit of humidity), amazing friends who showed me the best time, and for the purposes of this blog: SO. MUCH. DELICIOUS. FOOD. Seriously, SO much.

Come think of it, if i’m still buzzing off my vacation, it could be that I’m actually still digesting all of the great things I ate. I know, it’s kind of a gross thought, but it’s true. I ate a lot of stuff.  Tasty stuff that I’m gonna tell you about a little at a time so as to not overwhelm anyone (myself included) with all of my California grubbing memories.

ceviche

Problems I like to have: too much delicious ceviche

To start off, let’s talk ceviche, which I looove.  Fresh, colorful, zesty, delicious ceviche, which is just the kind I had with my darling friend, Arlene at La Cevicheria in LA.  It was a no-frills kind of place, but the ceviche we had, both humongous bowls of it, was great. They were both different, but to be honest, in my hunger induced frenzy to wolf it all down as soon as it came out, I forgot to jot down what they were. What I can tell you though, is that octopus, shrimp and crab were involved, as were limes, avocado, onions, Worcestershire sauce and something I don’t remember ever having in ceviche before but loved, mint. Add a little dash of hot sauce and scoop a big heap on to a crispy tostada and you’re looking at a fantastic meal.

fish taco

Not surprising that a place that makes great ceviche would make fantastic fish tacos.

But because I tend to struggle with moderation at times like these, we also got an order of fish tacos. Each soft tortilla was stuffed with a fat, juicy hunk of crispy fried fish, shredded cabbage, avocado, tomato and cilantro.  Simple and perfect, one of the best fish tacos I’ve had.

It was my first time in LA, and even though I was prepared to not like it (because I imagined it would be the Miami of the west coast, and that’s an off-putting thought for me), I ended up loving the City of Angels.  It was the weather, the beautiful people (i.e. my friends) and yes, the delicious seafood I scarfed down that afternoon.

La Cevicheria on Urbanspoon

 

*Note: Yes, the title of this post is a Tupac reference, cause you know what, I’m a big ol’ Tupac fan.  Boom. Chew on that. 

Go me, it’s my birthday!

Today marks the official beginning of the end… of my 20s that is. That’s right folks, I’m turning the big 2-9. (Shocking, I know, since it feels like I’ve been coasting at 22 for ages now.)

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’ve decided to make like Feivel and head west, to California, where I’ll be visiting old friends, new places and hopefully forgetting about the closeness of 30.

Nothing puts the happy in happy birthday quite like chicken and waffles ON TOP of a cupcake.

Nothing puts the happy in happy birthday quite like chicken and waffles ON TOP of a cupcake.

But really, the celebrating started a few days ago when my ah-ma-zing roomate and dear good friend bought me chicken and waffles cupcakes from Yaya’s Cakes in Crown Heights.

Yup, go ahead and let that settle in your head: chicken and waffles cupcakes. Vanilla buttermilk cupcakes topped with vanilla maple buttercream, a wedge of waffle, a hunk of fried chicken and a spicy maple drizzle. Every bit as over the top and delicious as they sound.

Now, THAT’S how you properly kick off a birthday! Next stop, sunny California!

What can I say, I love yogurt

There are certain things I’m just an unabashed sucker for: British accents, period dramas, old man sweaters, and randomly, yogurt.

Tired of strawberry and banana yogurt? How bout beet?

Tired of strawberry and banana yogurt? How bout beet?

I freakin’ love the stuff. I’ve told you this before. I can, and often do, eat yogurt every day, but usually it’s the same thing: plain greek yogurt with honey or agave. Last week, however, I heard about something new: savory yogurt, as in veggie flavored instead of fruit.

Blue Hill, as in the fine dining restaurant and upstate farm, just rolled out flour flavors of savory yogurt: carrot, tomato, butternut squash and beet, all available at Whole Foods. My first choice was butternut squash (because really, it’s like pumpkin’s cousin and pumpkin anything is always my fave) but it was the one flavor I couldn’t find. Tomato yogurt just didn’t seem like something I’d be into so I went with carrot and beet instead.

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Looks like it could be mango yogurt, but nope, it’s carrot

Neither was my new favorite but both were interesting, and not at all bad for being vegetable flavored. The beet yogurt was subtly sweet, basically like beets themselves, but still tangy and just a bit tart, the way I like my yogurt to be.  The carrot was just a tiny bit less sweet but still not entirely savory.

I don’t know that I could make these yogurts part of my breakfast routine but they’d probably be good to cook with. Maybe in a soup or as a base for a salad dressing? Who knows, there could be a whole new avenue to explore my love of yogurt.