Saturday, August 1, 2015

STILL "IT"



IT HAS BEEN years since I have induged in an It's It. Born in San Francisco, these ice cream sandwiches were wildly popular when they hit the freezer case some 40 years ago. Back then, they came in one flavor: Oatmeal cookies stuffed with creamy vanilla ice cream -- all dunked in chocolate. For any lover of chocolate or ice cream, they were definitely IT.  
Today, I am happy to report that they are... still IT. The sandwiches are now all grown up -- stuffed with lots of different ice cream flavors. The chocolate and strawberry are my favorites -- but the mint gets runner-up status. The company is celebrating four decades of yumminess and National Ice Cream Sandwich Day (but of course! right?) which is tomorrow! Find them at most grocery and convenience stores. 


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

GONE CRACKERS


I WENT CRACKERS a long time ago -- as in falling hard for Mary's Gone Crackers crackers. But a few weeks ago, I went crackers over the company's new line of MiNiS Cookies as well. The California-based company, known for its dedication to making vegan, non-gmo, gluten-free and organic snacks, charmed me with its sandy, just-sweet-enough little cookies in charming shapes. They're like Circus Cookies -- but sooo much better.
In the interest of sharing all of the news, Mary's Gone Crackers also introduced a  new line of crackers -- a refined version of the originals called "Thins." The new line of crackers are tasty and likely to appeal to mainstream eaters, but I'm partial to the original grainy crackers. But those cookies? Yikes. They are not just good. They are tiny bits of tasty, crispy sweetness that are perfect for tiny eaters -- and everyone else. The vanilla are so good. The cocoa a great mini-treat. Find the cookies at gourmet markets. $4.99 per box.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

CRISPY GOOD


 





THE FLAVOR-OLOGISTS at belVita hit a home-run with the newest flavor in the lineup of belVita snacks -- Cranberry Orange. The crisps, packed with nutrients, have bright flavor and hit just the right note of sweetness.

In case you haven't tried these, they come in individual packs of about 4 crackers, for lack of a better term (The company calls them biscuits, but unless you've been to England, that term is a bit ambiguous.) They're a little bit sweet, grainy and fruity -- a great on-the-go breakfast alternative. A package has 230 calories, 3 grams fiber. They're about $3.69 per box -- less if you find them at Costco.

Friday, July 24, 2015

ALL FRENCH

AS A RULE, I am not necessarily a francophile when it comes to wine. So many French wines are so minimalist in comparison to California's fruit-forward ferments that I tend to taste and frown. But this Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2010 Rouge is different. It's full, round, packed with interesting flavors, yet not sweet. My favorite part of this wine is that it kicks out a raspberry note. That is what I call wine magic.This is a great wine to serve with grilled meat and semi-spicy food. The wine is $19.

 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

MEMORABLE BITES 'N SIPS

Voting for the best pairings of food and wine is a fun 
component of Thursday's Taste Our Terroir in Livermore, 

TONIGHT, I AM on the hunt for a new list of favorite Livermore wines... thanks to the annual Taste Our Terroir kickoff event. A multitude of bites and wines meant to be enjoyed together make for a great tasting challenge. Which is the best wine? Which is the best dish? Pictured here are a few gems I discovered at last year's tasting. Check back late this week for my favorites for 2015. Or better yet -- get tickets to this year's event, which starts at 6 p.m. tonight at Casa Real -- and pick some favorites of your own. Taste Our Terroir continues through Sunday. For details on events, go to  www.lvwine.org.




Wednesday, July 22, 2015

LOVE IT

THERE WAS, no joke, everything to love about last night's Lyle Lovett concert at Wente Vineyards. The concert, one in a lineup planned for this summer, was stellar. It was personal, funny and packed with a crazy amount of talent, thanks to the folks Lovett has picked up all over the south to be part of his "Big Band." Lovett treated Livermore to his Texas-style fun -- in style. There were off-beat gospel songs followed by a set of all-Lovett favorites (with a twist, of course) -- great entertainment all around.
What I love about Concerts at Wente is the care that the entire staff pours into the events. The golf carts are hijacked as people-carts, making sure that guests don't have to walk too far -- aka. car to venue service. The staff are so friendly -- they even show you to your seat and point out the important amenities for the evening.
And can I just say how lovely it is to NOT WAIT IN LINE for food? So nice. The dining time is a full 2 hours, which means you can arrive anytime within the window and grab a plate of not just eats, but fresh, artfully prepared dishes that make for a memorable meal (and dessert!)We had a desconstructed s'more with peanut sauce and the best carrot cake I have ever had -- loved the side of caramelized pineapple bits. So good.
This summer's concerts are not yet sold out. Tickets for dinner and a concert are not cheap -- about $209 each (wine not included) -- but if you're looking for a relaxed night out of food and music -- without the craziness of stadium-style concerts, this is it. Check out the lineup at www.wentevineyards.com