Northern California Adventures: The Plates

IMGP4617.JPG Maybe it's because I have food on the brain, but I took a lot of photos of food on our California trip, and truthfully we did a lot of eating out while we were there, so I thought I'd share some highlights.

Oxbow Public Market


For southern Mainers, the Oxbow Public Market is like a successful version of what the Portland Public Market tried to be. INside the market there are a dozen or so food-related booths ranging from cupcakes and ice cream, to spices and olive oils, to oysters. Even on a Wednesday the whole market was fairly popular.


We grabbed some delicious Tacos at Casa and had the unseasonable pleasure of enjoying them outside on the patio seating. Casa's food is my favorite kind of Mexican - instead of the heayy refried bean and cheese fare at most Mexican chains, their food was fresh and light and featured some tasty but untraditional favor combos, like my blue cheese/onion/steak taco below.



Buttercream Bakery:

My visits to Butercream are more about nostalgia than anything else. The food at the diner is simple diner fare, while the doughnuts come in regular and fancy varieties. We picked up a dozen of my old favorites, but I most enjoyed the red velvet doughnut I'd never tried before. So much for nostalgia!



Genova Delicatessen

A great deli in an unassuming location, this is the one spot my brother always makes sure to visit whenever he's in Napa.

See's Candies IMGP4706.JPG

If you're Californian, or ever been in a California airport, you probably know See's Candies. I used to always try to get to the sprinkled one first - never realized they were mocha-flavored. If you visit one of the stand alone-stores, you get a free sample!

In-N-Out Burger IMGP4708.JPG

What is there to say about In-N-Out that hasn't been already said. Of all of my food photos from the trip, this is one that made Mr. Cleaver the most hungry again.

Boon Fly Cafe IMGP4709.JPG

I was most excited to visit the Boon Fly Cafe.

One summer during college I worked at the under construction Carneros Inn (its parent/location) as a temp in the accounting department filing papers in a trailer full of soap and shampoo and one day my supervisor took me to lunch at the Boon Fly, which I remembered as delicious.

My memory served me well.


The Boon Fly is my favorite kind of restaurant, simple food done incredibly well. The blackberry lemonade and flatbread pizzas were especially tasty. As a bonus the restaurant boasts a beautifully designed and relaxed atmosphere.




Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop


After all this food, there's still a place for desert. While in San Francisco we stopped at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop, and let me tell you they do not mess around with chocolate there.



Other notable stops (non-pictured):

Gillwood's Cafe - Napa locals' favorite brunch spot

Norman Rose Tavern - a new spot w/ great comfort food and an impressive tap list that includes several local beers and ciders in addition to the expected wines.

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Although our apartment doesn't have the greatest view (McDonald's parking lot anyone?), we have a pretty great place in a nice building.

One the best parts? Our cadre of doormen - kindly folks who open doors when our arms are full of groceries, sign for our packages, give movie recommendations, discuss local sports, and know both my maiden and married names. I don't know who is in charge of hiring these people,  but seriously, they are awesome and deserving of the best cookies I know how to make - Ghirardelli chocolate chip.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy New Year! 

Because of the pre-holiday craziness and a lack of all-purpose flour, I didn't get a chance to make these in time for Christmas - so now they get to be surprise New Year's cookies.

This recipe comes from the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate chip bag and is good.

I grew up in the Bay Area so I have a special place in my taste buds for Ghirardelli chocolate, it's not the fanciest chocolate out there, but among the brands commonly found in grocery stores, I think it's the best - so take that Toll House!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients

Our Cast O' Characters 

Adapted from 

Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Yield: 4 dozen 

  • 1/2 bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 bag of 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup(s) sugar
  • 3/4 cup(s) package brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup(s) all purpose flour (I use wheat flour for the 1/4 cup - it makes me feel a teensy bit healthier about the whole 2 sticks of butter thing)
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt

Heat oven to 375ºF.

Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar. Although the Kitchen Aid Mixer is the traditional wedding gift in our family, Mr. Cleaver and I opted out on that one. If I don't make butter cream by hand how would I work my biceps?

Butter/Sugar Crea

Baker's Workout - Butter Cream

Add vanilla and eggs to the butter cream. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt, mix well. Add the flour mixture to the butter cream. This cookie dough is VERY dry, so this also takes a little oomph - more calories burned for me! (See new year's working out is easy!).

After the dough is mixed well add in the chocolate chips. Jewel had a buy one-get-one-free offer of chocolate chips, so I used two different kind here: semi- and bittersweet, but it works fine with just one.

Put in the Chips

Maybe one the most wonderful sights in baking. 

Mixed Dough

The finished dough on the way to my mouth.  My mother always said that the sugar counteracts the egg, so you can't get salmonella, I chose to believe her.

Cookies on Sheet

Pretty Maids all in a row. 

I've found the cooking time on these varies wildly from oven to oven - until I moved into my current apartment it always took around 12, but now it takes eight.  So watch the first batch carefully.

Cookies in a Row

I like my cookies on the larger side - who doesn't - but I usually end up with fewer than the four dozen the recipe indicates, in tonight's case - it was 39. 

Quality Control

Err, 38. Quality control. 

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