Tag Archives: cheese

SF: I cheated at NapaStyle

7 Nov

I went to Napa. I drank wine. I recommend Trefethen Vineyard (Cab Franc). I came to NapaStyle by Michael Chiarello. I ate cheese. I ate bread. I ate rosemary salumi. I sampled salts. I ate lots of cheese and bread and salumi and salts. I have no more words. I have bloat. I have pictures.







Turkey Rocamole on Baguette. Truffle Chips. Corn & Arugula Salad. Salumi & Cheese Plate.







The End.

V Marketplace
6525 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599


SF: Hayes Valley takes the cake (but I can’t eat it;)

7 Nov


My favorite area in San Francisco is definitely Hayes Valley. I was lucky enough to find an incredible 2 story home to rent for our last month with a castmate. Not only did the house surpass my hopes and expectations, but the area was quaint, hip, delicious, up and coming, and close to the theatre.

Chez Maman West


This restaurant was unbelievable and I barely dipped my foot into their endless pool of a menu. My boyfriend and I came here on a whim before a show and were both shocked by the quality and diversity of the food. There are 2 locations, this being the newest. They also have a Mexican restaurant in SF and include items from that menu here (I absolutely adored that aspect).



Ok…it was SOOOOOO mind-blowingly delectable. I mean put parsley, butter, and garlic on shoe leather, cook it, and I’ll put a ring on it. My boyfriend was insistent on starting with the escargot and I begrudgingly said I’d try a bite. I was hooked and I am hooked. I can’t recommend it enough. It came out piping out, out of the shell, and baked in a trough that made me feel like I was eating a soft pasta rather than a slug. Go eat slugs at Chez Maman and get me one to go! Ok it is made in butter…and so worth every dairy bite


The beau has a fresh rainbow trout over sautéed greens and I ordered the salmon over spinach, minus the creme and potatoes. Instead, I ordered some of the best french fries with garlic aioli I have ever had…and that is saying a lot coming from this french fry addict. I would de happy in a bed of french fries. My mouth is watering just typing about my fried lovers. Let’s view a photo:



Anyway!!! The salmon was perfectly cooked and beautifully hot. Getting my food nice and hot can sometimes override a dish I don’t necessarily care for. Food temperature is an art and extremely important to me when dining out. I used to eat soup with a plastic spoon because I liked it so hot that a silver spoon would burn my lips. Wow, I digress…


The food here was just delectable and I ate there over a hand-full of times. I can’t recommend this place more. It is small so make a reservation or go early and see a movie after. It’s totally worth it! Also, skip the bread they drop at the start of the meal. I sampled, it wasn’t worth it and we sent it away. Some bread is worth wheaty throat…but not this one 😉

Arlequin Cafe and Wine Merchant



This was one of my first stops in the area. I was walking towards it as a Shakespearian play was being done in jeans and tees by a great of thespians, while onlookers sipped their purchased bottle of wine from the wine shop and ate scones and croissants from the cafe. Kinda of incredible. I walked in and feel in love with a salad that put dairy back in my diet for my time there: The Cobb Salad with dill ranch. AHHHH!!!! My favorite cobb I have ever eaten. No joke.


Switching back to french fries for a second, I was feeling the urge one day and ordered a side of french french with my salad. They delivered an entire large plate full of fried potato goodness. And yes, I ate them all and cried a little. Good thick cut fries that make cafes my favorite place to eat them.




This place was super cute and had great coffee and strong lattes (with soy), with yummy whipped scambled eggs and thick roasted rosemary potatoes for the mornings. The afternoons and evenings were filled with a delicious tea selection and cobb salads galore. I did order the roasted chicken one night with roasted carrots and asparagus and it tasted like home cooking. Just pop over next door for some wine to go or to drink there.



I must have tried 4 different bottles of rose in my time in Hayes Valley and each one was beautifully different and under $15 at Arlequin Wine Merchant (attached to the cafe). Some were French and some were local. They also offer a tasting menu to sit out on the patio or out front with a glass of wine and yummy sweater to enjoy the cold SF summer.

The Grove Hayes


If you want Christmas in July, go to THE GROVE HAYES and order the best Chai Latte you have ever had. They use a spiced powder and mix it by hand with milk or soy of your choice. I recommend it served hot as stirred powdered drinks tend to taste a bit chalky.



My first order there was the Berkley bowl with garbs, cucumber, carrots, avocado, tomato, sprouts, onion and a HUGE SLAB OF BREAD. Just throw it out or ask them to hold it or just eat it. I smelled it a good 10 times before I threw it out. It was like I ate it through my nostrils. Gross. The salad was good, but I recommend adding chicken to it instead of their tuna. I love tuna, but here is veered more on the mayo-heavy side. The breakfasts of eggs, chicken sausage, bacon and rosemary hash browns were all delicious…not spectacular but hit the spot.


Lots of people came here to use the interest, drink coffee, and enjoy the cabin-like resort feel of the place with the cowhide rugs and thick twig-backed seats. A fun stop for food and a MUST STOP for the Chai Latte. I miss it already.




This place was literally around the corner from my place. It looked so cute and lovely but I never made it here for a bite or a drink. The food options are “snacks” that are mostly cheese or meat plates. It would have been too tempting to sit down here and not indulged in cocktails of gouda and gin.



The menu for food is above and the menu for drinks is above….the bar…written on the large mirror that gives this small space the facade of an intimate speakeasy. I think I have to come back here for this:


And maybe this:


It is a brand new establishment and can only have great components to add to their already booming book-bar.

In closing, there were so many places I loved in this area. Smitten Ice Cream makes hand-home-made futuristic ice-cream right in front of your eyes with liquid nitrogen and love. They only have 3 or 4 flavors at a time that rotate weekly. TCHO dark chocolate, apple strudel, salted-carmel, pumpkin, and mint chip are just a few of their fascinating flavors. Biergarten offers beer, pretzels, and blankets, in their outdoor..yup…you got it…beer garden. It next door to smitten across from a cute little park. Patxi’s Chicago Pizza has a great gluten-free thin crust pizza with endless toppings and sauces. They deliver too!

If you head to Hayes Valley, you have plenty to chose from. You can also pick up some cool travel gear at Flight 001 on Hayes Street as a souvenir to pair with your full, happy belly.

Chez Maman West
401 Gough St (btw Hayes St & Ive St)
Hayes Valley
SF, CA 94102

Arlequin Cafe
384 Hayes St (btw Franklin St & Gough St)
Hayes Valley
SF, CA 94102

The Grove Hayes
301 Hayes St
Hayes Valley
SF, CA 94102

Two Sisters Bar & Books
579 Hayes St (btw Octavia St & Laguna St)
Hayes Valley
SF, CA 94102

Smitten and Biergarten are on Octavia between Hayes St and Fell St.
Paxti’s Pizza in on Hayes just past Octavia St.

Seattle: Curtain down!!!

11 Oct

I lunched at Homegrown over a handful of times. When it came to dinner, I stopped at PURPLE almost every single night— even if it was just for a glass off their exquisite wine list or to enjoy the beautiful ambiance.


From the appetizers to the entrees to the desserts to the cheese to the reds, whites and rosés I swirled and swooned…this was my favorite nighttime-dine on tour. Seattle was turning into my favorite foodie city with only 2 (yet stellar!) experiences!

Here are my recommendations for the gluten and dairy-free (GF/DF) heart and the queso, wheaty glutton:


I ordered their Northwest flight of Washington whites (the flights change seasonally and currently they don’t offer the same set I ordered). With trios from Spain, Italy, France, and varietals marked heavy, corked, uncorked, new world, and “Not Pinot Noir,” these flights make a great night out with fellow, friendly winos that stimulate your palate…and the food hasn’t even arrived…

My FAVORITE white was the Pandora Cellars Marsanne from Yakima Valley, Washington 2011–currently available by the bottle for $40. I felt as if I was cheating myself to order any other flight when this wine blew my mind with its crisp nose, hint of fruit, and semi-dry nature. It was a standout.



Cheesy App: They offer a chefs cheese flight of 3 or individual stunning cheese selections and wine pairings, located on the first page of the dinner menu.
The appetizer that melted the hearts of the cast was this Baked Brie Pastry. I did have a bite of it and was transported to a magical place. The phlegm that followed was well worth it.

GF/DF App: The tomato soup, made without dairy or croutons, is to die for. It was my go-to starter. Always perfectly hot, seasoned and spiced. Quite lovely on those chilly Seattle nights.




Meaty, Wheaty, Cheesy: People went crazy for the Lobster Mac and Cheese, Lamb Burger, SPECTACULAR French Fries (my weakness), several specialty pizzas, and the Gorgonzola and Pancetta Pasta. The aromas from each dish at our last cast-night-out in the city was intoxicating.

GF/DF: I feel in love with the Purple Chopped, NO cheese ADD chicken. The dressing was light enough, with just a touch of lemon and red wine vinegar, that the freshness and quality of each component stood and shined in their individual flavors—filling the salad with texture and delight.




Bread Pudding! Not gluten-free, but looked and smelled just as dangerous as it was. I believe there was a peanut butter cookie, ice cream sandwich special that the cast died over, as well. I tried to block it out. Peanut butter anything is my favorite anything.

GF/DF- The menu, again, changes and now it looks like they offer more GF options like a flour-less chocolate cake and chocolate covered bons bons made with rice crispies (there’s gotta be milk in the chocolate) OR a dairy free spiced sorbet with the optional wheaty ginger snap cookie.

I had the dessert special which was a blackberry, raspberry sorbet. It was rich and creamy and completely safe for me to eat. It was a nice small scoop, so I felt much better getting up from the table without the sad unbuttoning of my jeans (hey…sometimes it happens).

As you can see I had so much to say about all the things I could and couldn’t eat or drink here. It just is so versatile and delicious. It’s a short walk from the 5th Avenue Theatre and makes a great pre or post-show dinner.
Any wine bar that specializes in pairing breads and cheeses that OFFERS gluten-free DELECTABLE options, is number one in my book! They achieved so much and continue to exceed my expectations with their careful, allergy-thoughtful wine and food menus.

I can’t wait to return to Seattle to revisit and experience a new dish from my two favorites: Homegrown and Purple.


Purple Café and Wine Bar Seattle
1225 4th Ave (Downtown)
Seattle, WA 98101



Seattle: Curtain Up!!!

10 Oct


Wow. It’s official! I’m in a National Touring Company of a Broadway Musical, in a city I’ve never been, and sleeping in a hotel I don't have to pay for. The challenges and luxuries are just perfectly delightful. I was a bit worried about sticking to my gluten-free, dairy-free, non-red-meat-eating diet in a city I didn't know, unable to cook or refrigerate, with Subway looking like my only option from the hotel window. Man, was I wrong.

Seattle thus far has been my favorite city. Not only did we hit perfect, breezy, cozy weather, but the food here is as amazing as its picturesque mountains that peep up over the high-rises.

Now, I’m a big "yelper." I enjoy barking in the streets. No, really, I am attached to my Yelp app and credit it as being the #1 site to satiate my traveling, allergic belly. I preface with this because I didn't use it at all in Seattle– truly a shocker! We were close to the hip Capitol Hill and Melrose Ave, so I decided to meander on foot over the highway in search of food.


I walked past the Melrose Market a few times after seeing a sandwich shop and meat deli in the window. I had no intention to even explore this large unique "market" until I was famished from walking for an hour, hours after I should have already stuffed my face before our ritualistic 530pm-in-a-new-theatre/city-meeting. So, I headed in to drool over the sandwiches I could NOT eat and the leafy salads covered in cheese I could butcher to be bland and nutritious. *Sigh*


“Hmmm…Beet Salad with the delicious goat cheese with turkey? No…lentil soup? No…can’t have a gassy barricade. Look at those delicious sandwiches. Sage aioli? Come on. Can I dunk my beets in that? Not a bad idea….hmmm what are the sides? Pickle, yes. Salt and pepper chips, that soup, and gluten free bread $8.

So there it was. A gluten free sandwich with sustainable, locally grown ingredients. AND when I am done devouring it all, I have the option of recycling, composting, or trashing my remaining crumbs and crinkled crinolines. Ok napkins…I had to embrace the alliteration.

I ate here many many times. My three favorites (with my substitutes and additions):

Breakfast: BEST BREAKFAST SANDWICH I’VE EVER HAD: Avocado, Egg + NO cheese, ADD sage aioli, on toasted GF bread. Make sure to get their hot sauce on the side for this one– delicious! Of course, paired with a coffee and a side of soy or almond milk 😉

Lunch: 1. PERFECT LUNCH SANDWICH TO HOLD YOU OVER: Turkey, Bacon + Avocado, NO gouda, with mixed greens, and ADD their unbeatable sage aioli on toasted gluten-free bread– with one vegan, gluten free cookie by Skydottir (local bakery) for my sweet side.

2. DELICIOUS GF VEGAN OPTION: Hummus + Roasted Red Peppers, avocado, cucumber, arugula, ADD sage aioli on toasted GF bread (of course)


Aside from this sandwich shop being my dream cafe, the market place is stunning. Here is a list of their amazing standouts:

Marigold and Mint: This is an incredible flower shop in the back where I purchased great locally made cards to send to my love back home and an old pewter vase to hold my makeup brushes.

Sitka & Spruce: A beautiful restaurant I did not get to try that evokes the feeling of being in a friends gourmet, french kitchen. It’s enveloped by the vibrant greens, ivories, and purples from the flower shop across the way, where they actually buy the herbs that garnish and compliment their dishes.


The Calf & Kid: Tastings of various cheeses from local farms. There just so happens to be a wine bar right next to this booth that looked mighty tasty and careful selected. Maybe on a future cheat day I will give in….

Butter Home: This is still one of my favorite stores I have visited on tour. Sitting upstairs, above Homegrown, it is decorated with great locally made gifts, trinkets, coasters, cards, jewelry, Edison bulbs, and more. I was aching to buy everything and nest in the home I left to be on tour. Not the smartest thing to do without a first paycheck, so I admired, got more cards, and left with a wonderful memory.

Check back in for my last blog about Seattle and my favorite wine bar/dinner spot!

1531 Melrose Ave (Capitol Hill) in Melrose Market
Seattle, WA 98122

Melrose Market
1501-1535 Melrose Ave (Capitol Hill)
Seattle, WA 98122