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There are few things I love more than farmers markets. Getting lost among stands of fresh produce, cheese, bread, flowers, and tasting everything along the way is my perfect morning. Here are some pictures from the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

There is nothing quite like being in wine country. As my first visit back since living in San Francisco as a child, I can say is was a bit of a different experience. Lucky for me, my aunt, uncle and cousins live in San Francisco, and as soon as they found out I was visiting, planned a trip to Sonoma.

Visiting Sonoma is not all about the wine… but most of it is! After a delicious lunch at Cornerstone we headed to the Jacuzzi Family Vineyard. Jacuzzi made his fortune by, yep you guessed it, inventing the jacuzzi. He turned his fortune into a  beautiful vineyard with an Italian feel. Walk inside and you’ve escaped to Tuscany.  We enjoyed their daily olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings, dipping cubes of bread into every flavor imaginable (my favorite combination being blood orange olive oil and white balsamic vinegar) . I love balsamic vinegar just about as much as I love goat cheese, and I was in heaven.

After we had tasted every olive oil and vinegar in the shop, my aunt Kerry and I headed to wine cellar. We tasted some great wines and bought a few bottles of Bianco Di Sei Sorelle (wine of six sisters) and a bottle of Rosso Di Sette Fratelli (wine of seven brothers), representing all of Jacuzzi’s children.

We headed back to San francisco later that afternoon and enjoyed our purchases with homemade spaghetti and meatballs, I’m sure Jacuzzi would have been proud!

So I am a little late with this post, as Mother’s Day was a few weeks ago, but better late than never!

For Mother’s Day Dinner our family decided to have soft shell crabs, partly because they are delicious, but also as a remembrance to my grandfather. He was the one who taught my mom to love these little creatures, and the love has trickled down to both me and my brother. We indulge in soft shell crabs about once a year, and I would encourage everyone who is a bit weary of eating an entire crab to give these guys a shot… I mean, how can you not like something that is beer battered?

Mother’s Day Dinner Menu:

1. Beer and Tempura Battered Soft Shell Crabs

2. Homemade Sweet Potato Fries with Dijonaise Dipping Sauce

3. Broccoli Slaw Salad with Tomatoes, Avocado, Green Onion, Toasted Almonds and Sauteed Ramen Noodles, topped with an asian Vinaigrette.

ENJOY!

Check out Stephanie Izard’s (Chef/Owner of Girl and the Goat in Chicago) flatbread pizza recipe! I just found this one and can’t wait to try it. How can you go wrong with pesto and chorizo?!

Knowing me, I will probably substitute the riccotta cheese for goat cheese.

Enjoy this new recipe!

Photo taken from Stephanie Izard's website

Last night, my mom and I made my absolute favorite dinner: Pan seared panko scallops, risotto and a colorful salad.

Risotto has been my favorite meal to make for years. Last night, I chose to try the Barefoot Contessa Spring Risotto recipe I found on the Food Network. Instead of adding butter right before serving to make the consistency creamy and delicious, Ina Garten uses mascarpone cheese. The second I read that in her recipe, I knew that was a brilliant idea.

We started the risotto by sauteing leeks and fennel in both olive oil and butter until tender.

Then we added the arborio and dry white wine into the leek and fennel mixture, stirring until the wine was almost completely absorbed. Then comes the tedious part… we added the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, waited until it dissolved, and repeated the process for 25-30 minutes.

After 15 minutes, we added the pea and asparagus. When the risotto was finished, we folded the lemon juice and mascarpone into the dish and topped it with lemon zest and chives.

In the midst of cooking the risotto, we pan seared the scallops. Before coating with panko breadcrumbs, we gave them a flour and egg bath to help hold the panko. We pan seared them until golden brown and finished them in the oven.

To complete the dinner, we put together a fresh salad with romaine, avocado, crumbled roquefort cheese, tomato and croutons with a homemade vinaigrette.

This is the perfect Sunday night dinner and can be a blast to prepare with friends or family. Enjoy!

Maxi Dress

With spring just around the corner, this black and white tie-dye maxi dress is the perfect addition to anyone’s spring or summer collection. The top is form fitting, but the elastic back makes it possible to move around comfortably. The thick straps create a classy neckline and helps support the chest. This dress looks great on a lot of different body types.

As of now, the dresses I have are only made in one size. They will fit someone who is normally a small or medium (the top will fit an A or B cup) in the United States.  With the elastic back and flowing long skirt, there is a lot of flexibility for sizing.

I will be selling these dresses for $45 USD. This price will include shipping to the United States. If you are interested in purchasing a dress, please send me an email and we can make the transaction through PayPal.

Contact:

Alexa Stuart

Alexa.j.stuart@gmail.com

Thai’s are not accustomed to cold weather. During the two-week “winter” in December, the temperature drops no lower than 60 degrees.

Sean and I traveled to Nan, seven hours north east of Chiang Mai, in hopes of signing up for a three day/two night trek. March and April are the hottest months in Thailand, temperatures well into the 90’s and high humidity; you can imagine why we would plan to be in the coolest part of the country.

In the late afternoon on Wednesday, Nan welcomed us with below 50 degree weather and freezing rain. We checked into a guesthouse and decided to wait out the weather, hoping to make it on a trek the next day. The freezing rain continued for three days straight, never stopping, and only getting colder. Restaurants and food stalls closed up shop. For the first two days, we  hardly left the guesthouse, spending our time playing backgammon, eating cashews, and drinking red wine.

We were starving by dinner time and decided to make one last attempt to find a real meal. We stumbled across Just Jazz, a small restaurant, no more than ten tables, with an extensive Thai and Western menu. We placed our order, curry for me and lasagna for Sean. We both could tell that this meal would help turn around our dreary days in Nan.

The food was unbelievably good. The lasagna was creamy, the cheese and béchamel sauce oozing from the layers of pasta, and the curry was homemade, thick and rich. We ended up joining a party of regulars; two brits and a guy originally from Boston. As a St. Patty’s Day celebration, one of the regulars ordered the Chef’s Gourmet Beef Burger for the group to split. It was by far the best burger I have had in Thailand. Using local beef, the chef creates a flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth patty, using almost no fat. She then top the burger with home-cured bacon, spicy pickles and melted parmesan cheese.

The five of us sat around the table for hours, sharing various dishes from the menu and drinking whiskey. One of the chef’s realized that I wasn’t drinking whiskey and brought me a complimentary glass of red wine.

In a town with few restaurants and no Western options, Just Jazz is an absolute gem. The quality of the ingredients and the time and care that goes into each dish is not something you will find anywhere else in Nan. We had such a good time that we decided to push our bus back and enjoy brunch the next morning. As it turns out, the bus was full and we ended up eating dinner there as well and sampled some of the Thai dishes. Unsurprisingly,  they were delicious!