We wanted to create a new series for Style Approximately called “This is the Bay” where we highlight a few of our favorite restaurants, shops, museums, people across our beloved Bay Area. Adrienne and I are Bay Area natives, and while we love our dear San Francisco to pieces, we aren’t there very often. I’m in the South Bay while Adrienne is in the East. Of course we’ll cover SF, but we wanted to highlight the hidden gems that are often off the beaten SF path. Let us know of any places you would like for us to cover in the comments below!
The first place we wanted to share with our readers is Olla Cocina. Located in downtown San Jose, Olla Cocina celebrates San Jose’s deep roots in Latinx food and culture. The design of the restaurant is gorgeous, refreshing, and detail oriented. Among the many beautiful touches, we especially love the bright walls, high ceilings, and the Dia de los Muertos themed wallpaper. When you walk in, there’s also a pair of cute swing chairs facing outside. It feels like you’re far away from the city and transported to a beachside bar. “Cervezas Aqui” is boldly splashed across the bar furthering the vision of a relaxed atmosphere where you can gather with friends.
And the food! Olla Cocina emphasizes community gathering, and it clearly shows in their food. The menu encourages a shared experience of both small and large plates. The menu takes on regional Mexican cuisine with a San Jose spin of fresh California ingredients and flavors. Our favorites include the ceviche, ahi tuna tacos, street corn, and the taco sampler plate. We wash it down with their colorful cocktails, a favorite being The Paloma.
We come to Olla Cocina often especially when gathering with friends. The fun unpretentious atmosphere is the perfect setting for a celebration or get together, and the food is really a sampling of the city’s best. Yes, it is a beautiful space and definitely instagrammable, but also stay for the food, kick back, and enjoy a cocktail and (several) tacos while you’re at it.
When it comes to lady day, I love going all out. We had one recently at Kinfolk Inspired Space a few weeks ago. That space is amazing and the energy is definitely all about the good vibes and women supporting women. It was a perfect space for a group of creative women (and Ryan!) to work on projects that we’ve been keeping in our brains We made holiday decorations, danced to Cardi B, and ate…of course.
Today, we wanted to share a quick appetizer and cocktail recipe for parties and get togethers. The best part? You don’t need to cook anything!
We made a cheese and charcuterie board that everyone picked at while we we were crafting. Luckily, Trader Joe’s had everything we needed. The key to a beautiful presentation is to provide different colors, shapes, and textures on the board. We love having marcona almonds, grapes, dried apricots, and olives, to give that nice texture and also to fulfill a variety of tastes.
Trader Joe’s always has an amazing cheese collection. A few of our favorites include: Fromage Pavé, Cranberry Chèvre Fresh Goat Cheese, Double Creme Brie with Truffles, and Gouda. We also always get the Spanish Gourmet package for our meats; salame, Jamón Serrano, and Chorizo Cantimpalo. We like how there’s a lot of savory and sweet combinations in that package. Fold the meats, and cut slices off cheese to provide fullness to the board.
We made a kombucha cocktail to go along with our meats and cheeses. It was very refreshing and was a nice complement to the saltiness of the board. Below is the recipe taken from Designlovefest.
What you’ll need:
makes 1 serving
1 ounce blanco tequila
1 ounce campari
2-3 drops angostura bitters
2 oz chilled Kombucha ( Gingerade)
orange peel for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, place ice, kombucha, tequila, Campari, and bitters. Shake gently. Open the shaker, add the club soda, and stir gently. Pour in glass, drop in a piece of twisted orange peel, and serve!
*A lesson learned: do not put the club soda in the cocktail shaker and mix it like crazy…unless you want the cocktail all over you.
Inspired by Bri over at Design Love Fest, I wanted to make a post of my TJ Haul. I also wanted to challenge my husband and myself to see if we are able to make this one last for the week… if not longer. I’ve found that we go to the grocery store a lot, I’d say about 3-4x a week to buy a few items which leads to buying more unexpected treats.
I’ve always talked about meal prepping. I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good cook, I just need to actually take some time to prep and make meals for the week. I shopped for foods that I knew would be useful in a variety of dishes in our home. Can you tell that I’m having a huge craving for squash? I’m so excited to have butternut, delicata, and spaghetti squash. I can’t wait to share with all of you one of my favorite vegetarian recipes that my mother-in-law taught me in a later post. Hint: it involves the eggplant, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, and basil. The arugula will also be used for a homemade pizza and a steak salad this week. I’m a huge fan of the harvest grains because I like the variety of texture, plus it’s quite beautiful with the array of colors. I eat a lot of eggs too, so there will be some tortilla espanola happening in this house.
Before I left for Trader Joe’s this morning, I asked my husband to do an inspection of the fridge and to throw out anything that is no longer good. Needless to say, I’m not very happy with myself and the amount of food that’s been wasted. With the foods we already have at home (frozen meat in bulk mainly), I’m hoping that posting about my meals and eating habits will keep us in check.
It was Creative Sunday, and I wanted to make something hearty but not overwhelming. I love spaghetti alla carbonara and it’s eggy creamy goodness. I could have easily made it with the ingredients we had on hand, but I wanted to do something a bit more challenging and also to add squash to the dish. I adapted a Butternut Squash Linguine from Bon Appetit (link found here). This dish can also be made vegan just remove the pancetta and replace the chicken broth with veggie broth. I also replaced the sage with basil because we make do with what we got.
This dish was spectacular! And fairly easy to make. You definitely need a blender on hand to puree the squash, onions, and chicken broth. I could have eaten the puree by itself. I prefer Better Than Bouillon over canned chicken broth/stock. It really packs in the flavor, plus you only need a tablespoon to a cup of water.
I also found an easy way to cut and peel the squash is to slice off the ends, poke holes all around it with a fork, then pop it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. The peel should come off easily with a peeler, and your squash is slightly cooked which gives it a shorter time on the stove,
Here’s a shortened form of the recipe from Bon Appetit:
4oz. pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped
1tablespoonfinely chopped fresh sage. I used basil.
¼cupfinely grated Pecorino, plus shaved for serving
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8–10 minutes. Add basil and toss to coat. Transfer pancetta and basil to a bowl and set aside
Add squash, onion, and garlic to skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent for about 8-10 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then purée in a blender until smooth; season with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Combine pasta, squash purée, and ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid in pot and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Mix in ¼ cup Pecorino; season with salt and pepper.
Serve pasta topped with reserved pancetta and sage, shaved Pecorino, and more pepper.
My dearest friend (and fellow Style Approximately blogger), Adrienne, recently celebrated her 30th birthday. We spent the day in SF doing what we do best – eating and shopping.
Our first stop on the birthday train was all you can eat brunch at Chubby Noodle in the Marina District. The food was a more modernized take on Chinese dim sum. When I say modernized, I mean that it was in the same style as traditional dim sum with a few extra elevated ingredients. The breakfast jook was amazing – a hot rice porridge with a fresh egg and smoked bacon. The colors on it alone were beautiful. Our server was also nice enough to bring us an array of food instead of us ordering in honor of the birthday girl. At $37.00 per person, I’d consider it a steal especially when 4 adult beverages are included in the price.
After brunch, we took a much needed long walk around the Marina to settle our tummies and sober up. We then hopped in the car and headed over to the Fillmore for some ice cream because why wouldn’t you want to end your day with ice cream?
Smitten Ice Cream is one of the coolest (pun intended?) ice cream concepts I’ve come across. Using liquid nitrogen, ice cream is made to order. It’s completely fresh and delicious.
Check out the photos of our field trip after the jump!