Tasty Tuesday: Bite into the Bay Area

What is it about going out for breakfast that makes the food taste SO good? It’s not like the dishes are typically that complicated or the ingredients exotic {though we all know bacon makes everything amazing!}.

Obviously, someone else whipping up a delicious dish for you always makes it taste better. But for me, it’s also a lot about the environment I’m enjoying it in! Obviously, this seems like the perfect fit for a new occasional Tasty Tuesday series: combining great spaces and fab food. I’m calling it Bite into the Bay Area and I’m basically using it as a reason to incentivize my never-ending search for my next favorite plate and favorite place.

I’m kicking things off with a San Francisco staple that I teased on Instagram a few weeks back… Universal Cafe!

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Luckily, it’s only blocks away from the Loft so I can mosey over for a leisurely morning meal pretty much any day of the week. And my must-have dish, their Soft-Scrambled Eggs, regularly temps me to do just that!

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The flavors are always bright, the ingredients super fresh and the sides mouth-watering {they include perfectly crisp toast and salads that are how can you make a salad taste this good good}. No matter how hard I try, I always clean my plate!!

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Leaving Universal Cafe always leaves me wondering, why can’t I make eggs taste that good at home?! So I put myself to a challenge {with help from my mini cookbook library of course} and after many a-taste test, this recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs turned cookbooks, comes as close I’ve found! I should have known. I come back to The Sprouted Kitchen time and time again.

With this recipe, even if you don’t have a Universal Cafe in your neighborhood, I hope you can get a taste of one of my favorite SF joints at home!

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Leeks by The Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients (serves 4)

10 eggs
6 T whole milk
3 large leeks, white & light green cleaned
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 t chopped fresh thyme or tarragon leaves plus more for garnish
1 T extra virgin olive oil

Directions
In a large bowl whisk eggs and 2T milk, until light and evenly mixed and smooth. {this was one of my big aha moments: you can’t cut corners, or calories if your soft scrambled eggs are going to be ah-mazing!}.

Halve the leeks and then slice into half moons. Warm the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add leeks and 1/2 t salt and stir to coat. Saute stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened and browned in parts (12-15 minutes).  Add remaining 4 T of milk and thyme and cook until the liquid is absorbed into the leek. Turn off heat & set aside.

Now for the eggs – this is particular so be sure to pay attention to the details!

In a large nonstick pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Give the eggs one more whisk. When the pan is warm, tilt it so oil puddles in the corner closest to you. Slowly pour eggs into the center of the oil so it spreads outward with the eggs as you lower the pan. Cook without stirringuntil the bottom just starts to set, then gently push eggs from the edges toward the center. Continue until the eggs are almost cooked then turn off the heat. Add a pinch or two of salt and pepper and give them another push to make sure any uncooked parts touch the bottom of the pan. Immediately transfer to plates, garnish with more thyme and serve with leeks.

The recipe also gives a few additional tips for making the best eggs!

~ By whisking eggs first and letting them sit you help bring them up to room temp, improving their texture.
~ Push eggs gently until they’re just barely set to achieve the best “scramble.”
~ Pull the eggs a little earlier than you think you should – they’ll keep cooking from residual heat.

Bon appetito!

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick 

Gotta Getaway: {The View from Carmel Valley}

If you live in San Francisco or the greater Bay Area, there really is no reason to complain about needing a vacation- there are so many gorgeous destinations just a few short hours drive away- all you need to do is hop in your car and go! You can head up or down the coast and hit nature’s finest: the calming shores past Point Reyes, the grand and sweeping vistas of Big Sur or the rolling waves of Santa Cruz beach. Not to mention, probably the most popular northern California destination, Napa Valley.

But there is one place that doesn’t seem to get the praise that it deserves and that is the Carmel Valley. A charming, pastoral place, tucked away from the hustle of Carmel by the Sea, the valley offers an amazingly restful retreat from big city life. We recently paid a visit to the area and enjoyed the slower pace, sweeping valley vistas and of course, the wine!

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We stayed a night at Holman Ranch, a quaint and historic 10-suite property on 400 acres, complete with horses, olive groves, vineyards and wine caves. It’s so secluded and true to its past, that you feel like you’ve actually gone back in time. The property even has an historic barn where we enjoyed a farm to table style dinner under twinkling lights! Talk about an escape from city slickin’!

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Every year more and more wineries are popping up making Carmel a new destination for wine lovers like myself. But the views are really where it’s at in Carmel Valley. Perched atop a hill, at the ranch you can see endless rolling mountains, a sea of yellow and green and witness all the beauty nature has to offer. Unfortunately, it was the middle of winter, or else that pool {with those views!} would be exactly where I would spend my stay from sun up to sun down!

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Speaking of sun down, even the most ordinary of sunsets seems magical against the mountains and vineyards. With glass of wine in hand, the perfect getaway to Carmel Valley awaits you!

original photography by Apartment 34 

Gotta Getaway: Dillon Beach, CA

One of my key survival tactics is the weekend getaway. When life becomes too busy and there’s no real vacation on the horizon you can in fact turn 48 hours into a total escape. It’s the perfect way to force yourself to unplug from life’s daily stresses.

And I’m the first to admit that we’re extremely lucky to have amazing getaway destinations at a stone’s throw. Our latest weekend jaunt took us 90-minutes north up the 101 to my new most-favoite spot ever: Dillon Beach.

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I could sit and stare at that sunset everyday.

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There are a few keys to a successful weekend escape. When we hit the road, I make sure to do the following five things to ensure we take full advantage of our 48-hours away.

1. Meal plan in advance. If you figure out your menu before you go, you can whip up delicious meals and never have to get out of your PJs {if you don’t want to!}. There’s nothing worse than wanting to make a delicious dinnner and realizing you missing cumin. That’s the bonus of road trips – you can just haul it all with you. The hassle is definitely worth it.

2. Pack a good playlist. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting back with a good book {or let’s be real, a huge stack o’ magazines}, a good glass of wine and good tunes at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon…with no end in sight.

3. Put away the tech. This one’s a bit of an obvious tip but it really is critical to put down the phone, say to no to Twitter and even ignore Instagram for a few days. Sure, I’ll carry my phone with me for a beach walk but I’ll wait to post the pics until we’re on our way back home.

4. Go exploring. Rather than read every Yelp review known to man beforehand, hit the road without preconceived ideas. By asking locals or just stumbling upon a cute coffee shop, bakery or antique store you’ll never know what hidden treasure you’ll find. And that’s half the fun!

5. Prepare to pamper yourself. Whether it’s doing a little at-home facial, drawing a bubble bath or doing a little yoga session, making some time to take care of yourself makes the weekend feel extra special.

So even when there’s no major vacation in sight, thank goodness there’s still a good way to destress. Where do you like to escape? If you need more ideas be sure to check out the rest of our Getaways!