A Gluten Free visit to Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon bakery has always been a childhood favorite of mine – for years, on Saturdays, I would ride bikes with my Dad and sister to the bakery, getting fresh morning doughnuts filled with raspberry preserves or topped with little chocolate candies. As an adult, I would race over after work with a friend to grab the infamous T.K.O (basically a glorified grown-up Oreo cookie) or devour almond croissants with abandon.

Then I went gluten free.

I assumed Bouchon Bakery would forever be off limits for me, with all of its eternally traditional French and gluten-filled goodness, and I would merely have to send all my friends there to enjoy dessert as I cried endlessly from my loss.

Well guess what?

I bet you didn’t know that Bouchon Bakery caters (and always has catered) to the gluten free population…they have french macarons and Neapolitan rice crispy treats! Macarons are basically made with almond meal, egg whites, and sugar, which renders them completely gluten free.

Pow! I still get fancy dessert!

Neopolitan Rice Crispy Treat!

Neopolitan Rice Crispy Treat!

I I bet you didn’t know that their French macarons are all naturally gluten free…

Fig Macaron, Anyone?

Fig Macaron, Anyone?

But I bet you really didn’t know they carry a little something special in the back on request called “Oh No You Didn’ts” – a chocolate dipped macaron wrapped in shiny foil – all the flavors!! Dipped in chocolate! Dark or milk!

Chocolate Dipped Caramel Macaron!

Chocolate Dipped Caramel Macaron!

Did I know until now?
I know I didn’t.
Make sure you try the caramel flavor.

Visit them:  6528 Washington St  Yountville, CA 94599

Call them: (707) 944-2253

Onliiiiiiine them: http://bouchonbakery.com/

Bouchon Bakery is open 7 days a week, 7am-7pm.

Goodness-filled Foil

Goodness-filled Foil

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Boho Lifestyle

While wandering around downtown Napa the other night with a girlfriend trying to find a good cocktail, we happened upon the open doors of brand new Boho Lifestyle, a beautiful space filled with creative home goods, handmade soaps, jewelry, pottery, and other gorgeous objects. I immediately fell in love with a set of iridescent blue tumblers that were strewn about the room in various places; each one surprising and charming me more and more.

Handmade glasses by Roost - Like drinking out of a glass bubble!

Handmade glasses by Roost – Like drinking out of a glass bubble!

Owner Indra Fourtney, a contagiously bubbly woman full of smiles and styling ideas, ran around the shop showing us her unique wares. Many items are produced by locals and themed around the idea of nature and created by “cottage industries” instead of larger corporations. You can get anything from organic powdered laundry soap by French Laundry, to men’s dress shirts made of Turkish cotton! Jewelry by Emily Shelley was apparently flying out the doors, and Indra encouraged me to make a few pieces to sell in her shop as well! I better get on that.

Figs. Of course.

Figs. Of course.

My interior designer friend rabidly flipped through her beautiful collection of design books and ended up leaving the shop with a limited edition, flowing blue top designed specifically for Boho Lifestyle that looked perfect on her. I left with a handmade soap by Pine Tree Top Soap Shop in Eucalyptus, made entirely out of natural ingredients and essential oils. In addition to selling beautiful oddities, Indra does interior design and event rentals through her shop. The merchandise is truly unique, and inventory rolls over quickly, so check in regularly!

Eucalyptus Natural Soap

Eucalyptus Natural Soap

Boho  Lifestyle opened its bohemian doors August 10th, but they are hosting an official open house, Friday 9/13 from 7-9pm. The address is 1238 First Street, Downtown Napa. Here is her Facebook page, or you can call (707) 337-5870 to check on store hours. I hope to see you there!

Nice Legs! Table Legs, that is...

Nice Legs! Table Legs, that is…

Now, can someone tell someone else that these cups would look perfect in my cottage?

Glass Cups by Roost

Glass Cups by Roost

3 Ingredient Backpacker Pancakes (grain free, gluten free)

pancakes

Pancake heaven

As a gluten free traveler with persnickity eating habits, I learned pretty quickly to carry my own ingredients with me for anti-starvation purposes. Since I have a sweet tooth and love baking but cannot eat hardly any packaged baked goods (I’m semi-paleo diet and don’t eat any grains at all) I bring my own ingredients for sweet treats. I always travel with a small container of Manuka Honey (this stuff is amazing when sourced from New Zealand!), raw cacao powder (instant hot chocolate!), a bit of cinnamon, and coconut flour. Each time I checked into a new hostel, I would purchase a container of eggs and a tub of Yoplait’s “Fresh’n Fruity” greek yogurt from a grocery store nearby. Side note: Yoplait’s yogurt has way cuter packaging in New Zealand than the States. I could always have honey and yogurt for breakfast, or eggs. Easy peasy! New Zealanders do not refrigerate their eggs. The first time I saw an aisle full of eggs right next to the cookie aisle and the “long life milk” (i.e., unrefrigerated soy milk and rice milk) aisle, I laughed. Perfect! I do not have to fight for more fridge space at the hostel!

yogurt

Fancy Fresh’N Fruity Yogurt!

The first morning I woke up at the Backpacker’s Hostel in The Bay of Islands, NZ, I wanted pancakes. Actually, I wanted crepes.  What is a crepe made out of anyway? Eggs, flour, milk. I reviewed my ingredients. I have eggs. And I have some yogurt that is basically thicker milk. And I have some coconut flour that is basically like flour. I had purchased a ripe white peach during the height of their summer season in March, and found a stick of butter in the hostel fridge that looked sanitary and edible. I can work with this. I take a giant spoonful of coconut flour, a giant spoonful of yogurt, and crack two eggs in a bowl and mix. My idea for a crepe quickly transitions into a pancake recipe when I realize how thick the batter is – and how much it looks like buttermilk pancake batter!

pancake batter

Batter

I sauté the white peach with some cinnamon and newfound butter in one pan, and cook off the pancakes in another pan, which to my amazement, come out PERFECTLY. They look like real buttermilk pancakes, are kind of fluffy, and are delightfully browned. As I sit outside on the porch overlooking the ocean, my strikingly tall and beautiful Dutch roommate Sanne sees them and exclaims, “Oh my! You have actually cooked a breakfast! You are a cook! I wish I could cook.” And runs off to fetch her cereal and milk to join me. We had a long discussion the day before in which I tried to explain to her, with English as her third language, that I do not eat bread or flour. She was astonished, “You do not eat glutens? Or flour? Carbs? But all I eat is carbs!”

This morning, she looks at my pancakes and asks, “But this is not carbs? Not flour?”

“Nope,” I replied, “It’s made of coconut!”

“This is really really good!” She says as she tries a bite of her first no-carb pancake, “This is soooooo good!”

And so the recipe is born. It gives me enough energy to run off on a boating adventure all morning! This boat!

boat

Eat pancakes, go boating!

3 Ingredient Backpacker Pancakes (Grain Free Gluten Free)

2 Eggs

1/4 Cup Coconut Flour

1/3-1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt (if it is a thick or greek yogurt, use a little more – if it is a thinner yogurt, use a little less)

….the extra 2 ingredients…if you feel fancy 😉

1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

Pinch of salt

You can also add a little lemon zest, blueberries, or whatever strikes your fancy.

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Start with 1/3 cup yogurt and see if the batter is thick enough. It should feel and look like conventional pancake batter. If it is too thick, add a little more yogurt. Heat a cast iron pan over low-medium and melt a tsp of butter or coconut oil. When the pan is hot and the butter is melted, drop large spoonfuls of batter in the pan. I can usually fit 3 small pancakes in a 10 inch cast iron pan. After 3-4 minutes, when the pancakes start to bubble on top and is light brown on the bottom, flip. Wait for the other side to brown and remove from pan. Repeat until all pancakes are done!

This recipe makes 6-8 hearty but small pancakes and feeds 1 super hungry person or 2 semi hungry people. Add some bacon and you have the perfect breakfast! Serve with butter and jam or maple syrup drizzled on top. Yum!

Bad Karma Coffee Musings

You know it’s going to be a rough day when it starts with bad coffee.

It all started out so innocently, so routine, that nothing could go wrong! I make my coffee in a Chemex, which is a beautiful glass hourglass shaped device. It’s basically drip coffee, but made in glass instead of plastic. As of yesterday I began sinfully blending freshly ground Blue Bottle Coffee (Giant Steps is the name of the roast, which is so inspiring!) with Starbucks “3 Region Blend.” I know. Such a sinner. Combining an artisanal, organic, small production coffee with, well, Starbucks, just seems so wrong. It’s kind of like mixing a George DeLatour 1997 Cab with Two Buck Chuck. If it is any consolation, my mother won the bag of Starbucks at a bridal shower as a prize for filling out a silly bridal questionaire, and deemed it too “roasty” for her taste. Well, “roasty” is my bag. It is now in my possession.

I grind my coffees, mix them together, pray to the artisanal coffee gods that no one calls me out on my superblend, and boil the water. Usually by the time the water is done boiling, I’ve gotten out my homemade almond milk and warmed it up in my mug. This has become a glorious routine as of late. I go to the fridge, grab my glass container of almond milk I so dutifully made 5 days ago…oh no…5 days ago? The good thing about making your own almond milk is that is tastes super fresh and is only almonds, water, and some vanilla extract. No creepy guar gum or added random vitamins. The sad thing about making your own almond milk is that is goes bad in about 4-5 days, so you have to make it about twice a week. I smell it. It kind of smells ok. I think it’s fine. “It’s fine!” I tell myself. I’ll drink it anyway. I doubt myself. I take a sip.

Blahhhhhhh! It is sour, foul, all things bad. I toss it into the sink and come up with plan B.

“That’s ok!” I tell myself. I will use my backup emergency canned coconut milk! Coconut milk in coffee is divine. If you’ve never tried it, do it now. It’s kind of like a tropical breve. What’s a breve? Espresso and straight up whipping cream. I dated a rock climber who only ordered breves. He insisted that it was the best way to drink coffee, and his rippling muscles didn’t steer me away from that belief for quite some time. Only, I don’t drink milk. So I started making coconut breves. I’m still waiting for my rippling muscles though.

Anyway. I distract myself with men in the middle of my posts quite often, even while writing about coffee. I astound myself. I go to the cupboard and root around for my cans of coconut milk. Not there. I go to the other obscure location, behind the dried beans no one will ever use and to the left of the random container of saffron. Nope. I have no coconut milk. I HAVE NO COCONUT MILK! Sometimes I have a container of leftover coconut milk in the fridge. I check.

Not there. I return to stare at my chemex, which is now ready, the coffee has dripped into a perfect brew and is ready for something creamy to be added. I have nothing. I am dramatically frowning and am quite upset at this point, until I have the sudden realization: I have frozen coconut milk in ice cubes!!!! A few weeks ago, during the California spring heat wave, I decided it would be cool (pun intended) to make my own coconut milk and freeze it in cubes for insta-smoothies! I run to the freezer, dig around for them, and find them. I have four left. Perfect!

I microwave the cubes until they melt and pour the coffee on top. I take a sip…and my frown turns into a thin, straight, rigid line. This is bad. This is really bad! When you make your own coconut milk from shredded coconut, you never REALLY get rid of the last of the coconut shreds. So there is a slight gritty, chewy bit leftover that disappears in a smoothie but DOES NOT DISAPPEAR IN COFFEE. I drink in silence.

This story does not have a happy ending. Since I live on a ranch far away from town, I cannot simply “make a quick stop!” at the market. And since I no longer live in Hawaii, I cannot simply “go pick a coconut!” and fix this problem. So, I have some almonds soaking in the kitchen right now, ready for tomorrow’s coffee adventure.

I think the atisanal coffee gods knew I was blending Blue Bottle with Starbucks and gave me bad coffee karma.

See you tomorrow, artisanal coffee gods. I’m fighting back!

 

Om SHE Aromatherapy

Om SHE Aromatherapy

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Nail varnish in “Galaxy”

$10 AUS

This was the first Aussie gift I bought for someone in my travels, and it was so perfect that I had to buy one for myself and one for my sister and best friend, so we can all match and be chic together. I was initially drawn to the brand’s packaging – the rounded bottle and soft golden cap are quite alluring in comparison with the black color. “Galaxy” is a strong black with subtle blue undertones and a silver shimmer that only shows up in the sunlight. Indoors, you are dark, mysterious, and edgy. Outside, you are girly again. It is the perfect liminality for a fashionista’s multiple personality. Om She Aromatherapy is a natural line, and their nail varnish is non-toxic, without toluene or formaldehyde…so you can apply this polish in unventilated tight quarters without suffering from toxic exposure!

When I left Hawaii for my travels in the outback, I was firmly advised NOT to bring any nail polish with me, and that I could survive for 6 weeks without painted nails, especially if I was to be camping. It was to be excessive and unnecessary.  Well, I lasted 3 weeks before I saw this in the shop and began to obsessively paint my nails with it. Since I was “roughing it” without my usual beauty brigade of supplies, I had no base coat, top coat, quick-dry drops – nada. Two coats later, quickly applied in a 100km an hour moving vehicle, I had black nailpolish perfection. It lasted about 3-4 days without chipping and dried very quickly in the car without smooshing or smudging. Now reunited with my proper setup, with a good base coat and top coat, it lasts about 5 days without chipping. The color applies very smooth and evenly, so you can touch up the edges if it does. Plus, shimmer helps diffuse the appearance of chips a lot better than a matte shade, so it doesn’t show up as much.

Red-rice exfoliating powder

$20 AUS

I love to mix and match various beauty potions to acquire the perfect texture, scent, or color. So when I discovered SHE’s red-rice exfoliating powder, I was delighted. Simply sprinkle a small amount into your facial cleanser and, voila, you have your very own custom blended facial exfoliant! SHE recommends adding a teaspoon to a few drops of water in your hand before applying, but I enjoy the luxury and foam of a cleanser mixed with the powder. Made with a base of corn starch and red rice, it has a very fine grain that is gentle yet effective. Based on ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese traditions, red rice is thought to be very balancing and help blood circulation. It is targeted towards combination/oily skin, with kaolin clay to absorb excess oil, but not too much to make it drying. The ylang-ylang and lemon oil add a fresh floral scent and are also very balancing ingredients for oil production and to help brighten skin tone. I would recommend using this 3-4 times a week, but when you really need an extra boost of exfoliation, using it daily in the evenings and it will not turn your cheeks red from scrubbing! The packaging is paper based, so I would keep this out of the shower, but the simplicity of its shaker method makes it easy to pour into your hand.

Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Treatment

Aesop
Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Treatment

I knew what Aesop was long before I wandered into an official Aesop shop. Every eco-conscious, high-end, or fancy shop, restaurant or home I walked into had a beautiful brown glass bottle of handwash in the bathroom (or toilet, as they say in Australia) by Aesop, so I had a constant yet subtle exposure to the brand. In the Fitzroy district, on Gertrude Street by Smith Street, I set foot in my first Aesop shop and spent nearly an hour discussing every product with an impressively knowledgeable shopgirl. We talked bizarre ingredients, I had various products massaged into my hand, and was informed of things I have never heard of before. The whole shop was covered in perfect brown glass bottles and smelled of an apothecary for queens. They carried everything from skincare to shampoo to something called “Post-Poo Drops.” Yes, you read that right. For the record, they are botanical drops that you add to the toilet bowl after certain “occurrences” have happened.

Due to product overwhelm, I tried to focus on the line meant for combination skin – the Parsley Seed line! I originally sought after the Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Serum but quickly fell in love with the Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Treatment, which is kind of a concentrated booster with a fancy glass dropper application. The treatment includes, obviously, parsley seed, as well as blue chamomile (soothing and calming), and blackcurrant seed (antioxidant, full of vitamin C and anthocyanins). While I am obsessed with the concept of Aesop, I am not happy with the brand as a whole. They still use some questionable ingredients, such as propolyne glycol (a crude oil derivative) and sodium laurel sulfate (a harsh detergent used in dish soap), but some products stand alone in pure quality, such as the Parsley Seed treatment. This would be a great anti-aging serum to add at night or as an antioxidant shield to wear under your sunscreen during the day. It dissolves right into the skin and smells subtly herbal.

Good news, American shoppers! Aesop is expanding to US locations and currently have shop locations in NY and San Francisco!

Wotnot – Natural Organic Facial Wipes

Wotnot’s Natural Organic Facial Wipes

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When you are constantly on the go, staying out late, or traversing multiple time zones, sometimes you have absolutely no desire to wash your face. Well, that is not acceptable! Now that I know about Wotnot’s facial wipes, there are no more excuses for going to sleep with a dirty face. This Australian Certified organic brand boasts moisturizing rosehip and sweet almond oil and has absolutely no synthetic ingredients or even fragrance. Even Yes to Cucumbers! Face wipes, my go-to face wipe for the last few years, has fragrance, which can be a blanket term for over 4000 different chemicals that don’t have to be listed in the ingredients! Scary, but it’s the truth. These are made of biodegradable cloth and feel very soft and gentle, yet easily remove black eyeliner and mascara. So next time you roll into bed at 3am with a full face of makeup, grab one of these off your bedside table, and in 20 seconds you will have a clean (and slightly moisturized) face again. Fabulous.