Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker (West Hollywood, CA)

by guest blogger @btsunoda of Discovering LA

The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker takes it name from the famous nursery rhyme (the Butcher, The Baker, and the Candlestick Maker in the nursery rhyme Rub-a-dub-dub). They cleverly substitute candlestick maker with cappuccino maker and it works quite well for their concept. They opened a few weeks ago and I recently paid them a visit.
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BBCM is located in the iconic Sunset West Plaza. This is a popular destination visited by the locals due to the chic shops and outdoor cafes. People in the know take advantage of the free parking available behind each business.

The intent behind The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker is one of community. Breakfast was central to their strategy and so they created a bakery as the foundation. Not wanting to be breakfast-only, they designed their menu to incorporate their seasonal farm to table cuisine for lunch and dinner.

The appearance is one of a classy European cafe. 
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The use of marble is extensive; the counter top for the bar is a large block of marble and even the plates are made of marble. The outside is landscaped with beautiful 100 year-old olive trees and there are quite a few tables available for al fresco dining.

The kitchen is led by the duo of Executive Chefs Ren Nisenbaum (formerly of Jaleo, Washington, D.C. and Morimoto and Jean Georges in NYC) and Craig Hopson (formerly of Le Cirque, Picholine and Beautique in NYC) and features seasonal local farm-fresh ingredients.

Consistent with their European bakery foundation, they use the French galette for some of their dishes. I tried two of their galetes: the Beef Short Rib with cherries, arugula and boursin was tasty. The use of cherries blended extremely well with the beef short ribs. 
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I especially enjoyed the Galette of Bacalhau. The flavors of mushrooms, jalapeƱos and a sunny side up egg worked extremely well with the salted dried cod.
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Other highlights from my visit:
Chestnut Pappardelle - The rich taste of duck and mushrooms permeated the pasta noodles and transformed the pasta to a nice savory taste.
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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Easy Car Rental and Road Trip to Napa with Drive Maven

During my recent trip to San Francisco, I got the opportunity to try out Drive Maven, a car-sharing service similar to Zipcar. Maven is General Motors' service, and you can rent GM cars by the hour or day from various locations around the country. For cities where parking is notoriously difficult and expensive like San Francisco, services like Maven is really useful when you need a car just for a day trip.
Drive Maven in Napa
Unlike Zipcar, there's no annual membership fee associated with Maven. Just like Zipcar, gas and insurance are included in the hourly/daily rates. In SF, the cars are parked in various garages throughout the city. To book the car, you can search the map for that city and select the most convenient garage for you.

I picked a garage on Taylor St, and they had new red Chevy Volt! I've been curious about this plug-in hybrid, so I booked it.
Drive Maven in Napa
Drive Maven in Napa

The Volt was $8 per hour - again it includes gas and insurance. Did I mention this VOLT was wifi-equipped? A lot of their cars are loaded with the latest tech, including Apple CarPlay and free unlimited 4G LTE WiFi. You bet I was instagramming using the car's wifi!

Everything is done with the Maven app. When you go to pick up your car, you can just unlock the car with your app using bluetooth. The car will detect that your phone is inside and you can start the car without a key (only when your phone is inside the car). Everything was seamless and easy (minus the tight spaces in SF's parking garages, but what can you do about that?). After that, I was off to Napa!

It was around lunchtime by the time we got to Napa Valley, so we stopped at Oxbow Public Market for lunch. The Public Market has a variety of food offerings, including Hog Island Oyster and Ritual Coffee.
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Drink 1800 Wines at Boston Wine Expo (Feb 18-19)

This weekend is a good weekend for wine lovers in Boston, thanks to the Boston Wine Expo bringing 1800 wines from 200 producers to the World Trade Center.

Some well-known wineries will be there, including Duckhorn, Louis Latour, Martian Ranch & Vineyard, and Bonny Doon Vineyard.

This is also a great chance to try some unusual (for America) wines, including Georgian wines (which I fell in love with during a recent tasting), Lebanese wines, Romanian wines, and even one closer to home from Brooklyn.

In addition to more wines than you can taste, the Expo will also feature some fortified wines (think Vermouth and Sandeman Port) and spirits such as BarSol Pisco, Junipero Gin, and Glenrothes scotch. Some food vendors will also be there, so you can pair your wines with cheeses (like ones from Finland). Or cinnamon rolls, because why not? Local restaurants participating including Davio's, Del Frisco's, Doretta Taverna and Wine Bar, Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca, El Pelon Taqueria, and more.

Tickets are $110 for the Saturday Grand Tasting ($160 for VIP) and $100 for Sunday ($150 for VIP). Seminars are priced and ticketed individually. Get tickets here.

If you need some guidance on which wines to taste / which booths to visit, fellow blogger Passionate Foodie has gathered a nice list to start you off with here.

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