SavoryGirl’s Cooking Something Up…Join DolceVita’s Wine Country Safari!

Vineyards

You may have noticed that my posts have been a bit less frequent lately...and for that, I apologize. But I'm working on something super exciting! I'm working on a business idea I've had for a very long time...an exclusive immersive, behind the scenes, all-inclusive experience in wine country. Why am I doing this?  Well...I believe that visiting wine country often feels like going to the zoo: uninspiring winery tours, usually leading to crowded tasting rooms. But I also believe that visiting wine country can be more like embarking on a true, authentic safari: exclusive, private tastings, behind-the-scene, hands-on activities, farm-to-table dining with local chefs and winemakers. So that's the experience I'm building...and as of right now I'm calling it DolceVita Wine Country Safari. 

There are still a lot of details to figure out and one of the steps I'm taking to make progress is to host a prototype weekend in Sonoma (hopefully October 9-11 but we may end up moving it out a bit).  The goal of this weekend is not only to start to build out the idea more fully but to also get live feedback from actual guests.  If you're interested or know others who might be please check out dvwinesafari.com for the full itinerary, pricing guide and instructions on how to join us for the weekend.  It's truly going to be epic, educational and delicious...we have a lot of great things planned! Since it's our first time doing this I'm offering it at a pretty amazing discounted rate so I make sure to fill the spots and get maximum learning...so act fast if you're interested.

I'll keep you all updated on my progress here but I do also have a whole list of really fun new SavoryGirl posts that I'm planning as well. I'm just having to split focus and put a bit more energy into DolceVita at the moment...but stay tuned on both fronts, exciting times ahead!

…and I’m Back from Vietnam and South Korea!


I'm back from my whirlwind 2 week tour through Vietnam and South Korea! I'm not quite ready to share all of my foodie photos and stories just yet, but wow...what an amazing trip.  Despite how many great things I've heard about Vietnam I was still completely blown away.  So much so that I already know I want to go back again...and that's incredibly rare for me to say since there are still so many new places to explore! Then South Korea completely exceeded my expectations in terms of food, people and Seoul being one of the cleanest and safest cities I've ever visited.

While there were certainly many non-food highlights from both portions of my trip, you are in for a treat with my upcoming posts about the incredible food I ate while traveling.  From traditional dishes like pho and bibimbap to the adventurous indulgences of fertilized duck embryos and live baby octopus still squirming and suctioning as I put them in my mouth!  I'll also be sharing my first new SavoryGirl video in almost three years.  I honestly can't believe it's been that long...but this will be a great one to get videos back in the rotation again.

In the meanwhile, the photo collage above is a sneak preview...consider it the many happy faces of SavoryGirl eating her way through Vietnam and South Korea! This is truly me at my happiest: exploring new cultures, trying new foods, meeting new people and making great new memories from around the world that will last a lifetime.   Stay tuned, lots more adventures from Vietnam and South Korea to come!
Big Changes for SavoryGirl!

SavoryGirl Refocus

There are big changes afoot and I wanted my SavoryGirl fans to be the first to hear about them! First, let me apologize for my recent lack of attention to SavoryGirl in general...as I've been thinking though some of these things and figuring out what it means for SavoryGirl I've definitely neglected the site and all of you.  I'm sure you've noticed over the past few months though that my weekly menus aren't very helpful since I'm out socializing a lot more in my fabulous new single life.  I've also been mailing it in a bit on other content since I'm not cooking as often, which doesn't feel good and certainly isn't engaging for my readers. So I apologize for that...and while I can't guarantee things will turn around overnight, I'm more excited about SavoryGirl and other related projects than I have been in a while!

So what are these changes? Let me give you a few ideas...
Kicking off 2015 Right!
Yoga at Amansala Bikini Boot Camp, May 2014

Yoga at Amansala Bikini Boot Camp, May 2014

I love January.  As much as I love the holidays (and wow, do I LOVE the holidays!), January is never a let down for me. Why? Because there's nothing I love more than a fresh start. A chance to re-examine things, make some changes and believe that you can stick to them. Now, I'm not talking about resolutions per se...I've never really been into those...but I am talking about habits and lifestyles and changes for the better both big and small. I truly believe that every day I wake up is a new opportunity to be the best version of myself, and January is like the ultimate new day! Not surprisingly, a lot of the changes that I start thinking about each January have to do with food, health and fitness.

This year, however, my focus is a bit more on mental health than on food, physical health or fitness.  Why?  Because I feel like I inadvertently dabbled in this space a lot in 2014 as I went through my hardest year yet.  And every time I dabbled, it felt really, really good.  So good that I want to make this focus a more central part of my life and routine.  In 2014 I crossed an item off my bucket list and went to Amansala's Bikini Boot Camp, I took a 6-week meditation class, I got back into therapy after 10+ years off, I read a couple of really empowering and fantastic books (The 5 Things We Cannot Change and Nonviolent Communication for those interested) and I just genuinely focused on improving myself in areas where I was feeling a bit shaky.

So to start off 2015 I'm heading to a 3 day yoga and meditation retreat to try to lock in all of that cumulative goodness that I acquired in 2014 and really start this year off right. I'm super excited to take a solo and leisurely drive up the coast, have a few days with no cell service, practice lots of yoga and meditation, eat all organic, vegetarian meals, have time to hike in beautiful Salt Point State Park and then cozy down each night with a good book and a warm bubble bath all while surrounded by the beauty that is coastal Northern California. I mean really, doesn't that sound divine?

But before I head out, I thought I'd leave you with a few links to my blog posts, below, summarizing what I focused on in January 2013, two years ago. That year the focus was on food, so I did the 3-week Whole Living Detox which was amazing. A lot of prepping and cooking each Sunday, but so worth it as you'll see in my four summary posts below which are chock full of all of the amazing recipes and photos.  And the three habits that seemed to make such a difference for me back then, I'm proud to say are still 80% a part of my life 2 years later! When I return from my 3-day yoga and meditation retreat I'll be picking out a few of my favorites from that detox to include in my weekly menus throughout the rest of January to keep my healthy momentum going, so stay tuned.
Cocktail Animals…My Own Little Dose of Happiness
My Newest Little Cocktail Animals!

My Newest Little Cocktail Animals!

I haven't seen a cocktail animals in years...and honestly, haven't thought about them for years either.  Until the other day when I found myself at Kona Club tiki bar in Oakland with some friends and my drink came served to me with a little plastic pink elephant alongside the required paper umbrella.  Surprisingly, the sight of this cocktail animal stopped me in my tracks and immediately brought me back to childhood.  Yes childhood.  No, I wasn't an underage drunk and my parents weren't big drinkers either.  So what gives?  And then it hit me...as a child my mom had this big metal cookie tin (a red animal crackers one I believe!) just filled to the brim with every colorful cocktail animal and adornment you could imagine.  Blue monkey?  Of course!  Green lion?  Tens of them!  Red mermaid? Definitely.  Wow did I love playing with that tin of cocktail animals as a child...likely having no idea what they were really for until I got older and started hanging them from our glasses around the dinner table for fun.
Cocktail Animals in their Native Setting

Cocktail Animals in their Native Setting

So as I sat in that dark tiki bar...a lifetime removed from lying on the floor in my parents living room playing with a tin of cocktail animals it stuck me.  Sometimes the greatest joys in life are about the littlest details.  As I sipped on my tropical drink the fact that there was a yellow giraffe partially poking me in the face (ok, ok...I was on drink two and had moved on from the pink elephant) brought my intense joy.  Because it triggered such a simple, happy memory that I didn't even know I had.  So much so that I continued to play with and think about those cocktail animals for the rest of my Sunday and they continue to happily sit perched on the bar in my kitchen as I type.  Ah, the simple things.

So next time you're having a party or even just feeling festive (or the opposite and need some cheering up!), try adding a few cocktail animals to your drink and enjoy your own little dose of happiness. Tropical tiki drinks entirely optional.

Now to go pester my mom to see if she still has that tin of cocktail animals...I need to grow my budding happiness collection!
Postcards: Sweet Passion Fruit in Peru

One of my favorite things about traveling is exploring the food markets of the region and discovering new fruits and vegetables. It’s nice to know that in our U.S. land of plenty, where we import just about anything, there are still foods that you can only find locally. Now I’m not saying you can’t find sweet passion fruit anywhere in the U.S., but it’s not super prevalent. Even when we do import exotic fruits they always taste so much better when you eat them where they are native, fresh and in season. I guess that means I’ll just need to keep traveling!

At the San Pedro Market in Cusco, Peru the produce was plentiful…rows and rows of brightly colored fruits, vegetables and herbs tempting you with every step. One of the fruits we decided to try out was the sweet passion fruit…I was sure I had eaten one before, but as soon as the local stall vendor began showing us how to eat it I knew I was wrong.
Postcards: Railay Beach, Thailand

This, was an amazing day.  We were nearing the end of our two week trip to Cambodia and Thailand, at our last Thai beach destination before heading to Bangkok and then home.  We had spent the previous 3 hours on a boat getting ferried from Koh Pi Pi island to Railay Beach in Krabi.  The ferry ride alone was spectacular...the turquoise blue sea streched out as far as the eye reached, dotted with craggily formations and clusters of islands.  This is what you see in the movies...and I sat like a child for 3 straight hours soaking it all in.  Legs hanging off the side of the top deck, face resting on the railing, and a huge grin plastered to my face.

Postcards: Spice Market in Nice, France

It felt as if we had the city of Nice, France to ourselves.  It was late January and the coldest winter in recent history throughout all of Europe, but here we were wandering the streets of Nice on this brilliantly sunny day and enjoying every cold yet satisfyingly intimate moment of it.  We had heard horror stories about the harassing street performers and bustling crowds, but that’s not our Nice…not the Nice we experienced.  Of course, we also didn’t experience the legendary beach scene…but our quiet, locally sourced picnic on the desolate rocky beach left a lasting impression of it’s own.  As did this charming little spice store we wandered into as we lost ourselves in the cobblestone alleys.
Postcards: Northern California Coast

This, my friends, is why we live in California.  I mean really does it get more serene and beautiful than this?  The day of this photo was an interesting one...near the start of a true life experience.  It was Day Two of the Brita California Climate Ride, a ~350 mile ride from Eureka to San Francisco. Since Brita was the title sponsor and I worked at our headquarters out here in the Bay Area, a co-worker and I came up with the idea of forming a team and doing it.  The twist? Christian and I didn't even own bikes at the time of this brilliant idea.

Postcards: Christian Cooking in Chiang Mai

 

The time: 9am.

The place: Siam Rice Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The temperature: a sweaty 90°.

The mood: hungover, hungry and excited for this part of the trip we've been looking forward to but sad it's our last day in Chiang Mai.

Hence Christian getting a bit randy with the cleaver he is handed by our instructor.  There were a lot of emotions swirling around that morning.  We had been out a bit late with some new friends the night before and the Tuk Tuk for class arrived at our hotel bright and early at 7:30am.  Of course we were the first people to be picked up so we had the joy of jostling around the back of the oppressively hot Tuk Tuk for the next 45 minutes while slowly meeting those who would be our fellow classmates for the next 4 hours.