Let’s face it: if you have an aspiring chef in your life, you’re pretty damn lucky. You know, the friend who always invites people over to taste test a new recipe or offers to cook when you’re not feeling like going out again. These foodies deserve a sweet treat after a year of snacks, dinners, and desserts. Here’s what I’d get for the home chef in my life:
If one thing blew me away while in Amsterdam it was the candy: the selection, the flavors, the packaging. Everything was just so perfect and ready to take home in my checked bag. Not joking, I brought back approximately 20 bars of chocolate alone. Here are some of the most gorgeous of my stash.
Let’s start with chocolate, shall we? Tony’s Chocolonely was ubiquitous throughout my travels — and totally hard to miss with this gorgeously bold packaging. The quality of chocolate is fantastic (and ethically farmed and produced), but what I really love is how special the bars are. The shape of each piece is totally irregular and the combinations are perfectly balanced.
When I saw these milk chocolate hippos from Barú, I had to have them. Filled with almond and pecan praline, they are both delicious and cute.
Ugh, hard candy — such a guilty pleasure. See those gridded ones? They are the most mouthwatering butterscotch I’ve ever tasted. I avoided the black ones though — I’m not such a fan of black licorice, but the Dutch seem to love it. And the round ones seem to be rolled in something very tart, but become super sweet towards the middle.
Ok, I tried to understand these Pastilles de Leone, but just could not. I dug into them once I got home and was less than thrilled by the chalky texture and weirdly dry flavor. But hey, that packaging is so beautiful, don’t you think?
I saved the best for last… wine gums! For those not in the know, these are my most favorite gummy candy. They are a bit firmer that typical gummies and the flavors are totally unique (black currant is the best). I’m unclear on if they all still contain a small amount of booze or not, but traditionally they had the names of drinks impressed on them such as port, champagne, and gin. I used to have a British coworker and every time she went home, she’d bring back bags and bags of these treats. I developed a love of them long ago and now any time I can find them, I practically hoard ’em.
Here’s something you may not know about me: I’m obsessed with tiny spoons and have quiet the collection. So when Kelly from Design Crush sent over a link to Miscellaneous Adventures I may have squealed. So many spoons! So many outdoorsy vibes! So much wood! Kelly is a good friend, indeed.
Miscellaneous Adventures was created by illustrator and craftsman Andrew Groves and serves as a place for design to meet traditional craft and outdoor skills (aka my personal heaven). You know what else is awesome about them? They believe in FUN. So, not only do they sell stuff, but they also host incredible workshops to learn skills like woodcarving and wild camping in the woods. I don’t know about you, but I’m all for anything that gets me outdoors more and more.
I’ll keep it short and sweet: I want it to be the weekend… desperately. I’m currently in the throes of taking Alt for Everyone and learning a ton. It’s so amazing because I’m doing it from the comfort of my home office and brushing up on all my skills to make this blog a way better place. On a personal note, I’m so happy with how this blog has evolved and all the exciting, new things coming in a few months. Be sure to stay tuned!
Have you seen the #DestinationSummer virtual road trip from Kohl’s? It’s truly one of my favorite ideas in a long, long time. Basically, Kohl’s asked a bunch of bloggers to step away from the computer and show the world our respective hometowns. And, because I’m still so new to San Francisco, I basically got to be a tourist in my own city! I decided to use this as the perfect opportunity to indulge in two favorites: the beach and s’mores.
We cruised out to a favorite spot of mine, Muir Beach. About 30-45 minutes from San Francisco, the drive to the beach is stunning in and of itself. Once you cross the Golden Gate bridge, follow a windy road to the beach, catching far-off glimpses of the Pacific as you go. I recommend making the trip right at golden hour for that perfect California glow.
Using tons of picnic-friendly tools, textiles, and serving pieces, I laid out my ultimate s’mores bar. To start, I gathered supplies from a few of my favorite neighborhood staples here in Hayes Valley: sweets (such as graham crackers, fancy marshmallows and chocolates, and tonsss of toppings) from Miette, plus sausages and other grillables from The Fatted Calf. Don’t forget firewood!
To create your own s’mores bar, here are a few tips:
Mix up your toppings: from gummy bears to honey to lavender, it’s always fun to explore different flavor combinations.
Another fun way to experiment is to offer different alternatives to the traditional graham cracker. I suggest everything pretzels, Nilla wafers, even peanut butter cookies! (While shooting, I discovered that Kimberley has a gluten-free diet, so we thought it would be fun to replace crackers with thinly sliced apple!)
Don’t forget the fresh fruit, especially here in SF. Since moving here, I can’t stop devouring local blackberries. They are unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.
Last, but not least, chocolate is king. Splurge on the fancy stuff, in all different flavors and textures. I may have chosen a few based on packaging…
Seriously, what is more fun than playing with your food??
It can get pretty chilly when the sun goes down, so I recommend bringing extra layers. I like to rock a men’s flannel shirt with vintage cut offs for a casual, borrowed-from-the-boys vibe that will also keep me a bit warmer.
Being 100% honest with you, I was really blown away by the awesome outdoor dining pieces I found at Kohl’s. The colors, the materials… even the prices were so good. I definitely plan to use these pieces for more picnics and outings going forward.
Living in San Francisco has some serious perks, one of them being the food scene. A couple weeks ago my good friend Vivien surprised me with hard-to-get reservations to Naked Kitchen. Basically, Naked Kitchen exists to create an environment where “chefs have the creative freedom to explore something new in a casual and relaxed space.” What this means is that they prepare extraordinary dishes, none of which ever repeat, in an environment that is beautiful, relaxed, and encourages sharing, conversation, and storytelling. It is truly an experience not to be missed. And the food… well, I should let the photos speak for themselves because chef Anthony Yang truly outdid himself.
We started out with organic Strauss yogurt, coffee flavored oats, and cashew butter berries (above).
Toasted panorama bakery sourdough english muffin, corn pudding, squash, and ham (this was my absolute favorite).
While admittedly a bit touristy, there’s something to be said for The Ferry Building here in San Francisco… and the amazing food scene within. Just picture it: row and row of cured meats, locally grown produce, flavorful ice cream, the best coffee this side of the Rockies. It’s a foodie paradise. I stopped by with my friend Ash for a leisurely afternoon of treats, people watching, and wandering.
First stop, Blue Bottle of course. I recommend a super-sweet and creamy New Orleans iced with a side of the most perfect waffle ever. Crispy on the edges, doughy in the center… topped with giant, crunchy bits of sugar… this waffle is truly perfection.
Not to be missed, this is the cone of meat from Boccalone. Their tagline is “tasty, salted pig parts,” so you just know it’s gonna be good. I’m starting to think that the cone is my preferred way of eating while shopping for even more things to devour on the go…
I always like to end on a decadent note and, being more into savory than sweet, we opted for Hog Island Oyster Co. There’s just something so fancy to me about oysters, even if they are served atop rough hewn planks and you’re seated family style. I prefer mine to be briney (my favorites were the Well Fleets from Massachusetts) and topped with just a drizzle of lemon.
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