Sprouted Panzanella Salad

This might be one of my favorite times of the year because I get to eat fresh tomatoes from my garden! Ths year I grew Sungold cherry tomatoes and they are so sweet and flavorful! I overwatered my tomatoes last year and they had very little flavor, so this year I droughted my plants a bit and it really paid off. (I learned this from my Dad.)

So, naturally I wanted to make a salad with them and you can’t have fresh summer tomatoes without basil. Normally, I love to make Caprese but I wanted to make something my dairy-free Joe could eat so I decided to make a Panzanella salad. The only problem is I ended up eating it all by myself. Whoops!

The sprouted sourdough from Alvarado Street Bakery is my favorite sliced bread and it toasts up so nicely with butter and garlic. Enjoy!

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Sprouted Panzanella Salad

Serves 4 people

Prep Time 10 min

Cook Time 20 min

Ingredients

6 slices of Alvarado Street Bakery sprouted sourdough bread

2 cups of cherry and Sungold tomatoes

1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup of olive oil, for the bread

4 tablespoons of dairy-free butter

1/2 cup of freshly chopped parsley

8 basil leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, for the dressing

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil with butter together in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat
  3. When butter has melted, add garlic and bread and mix well.
  4. Transfer skillet to the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the bread is golden brown, let it cool. Prepare the remaining ingredients as directed above.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together, tomatoes, onions, and herbs.
  6. Combine vinegar with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour over the salad. Mix well.
  7. Add bread and toss everything together.

 

Sponsored Post, recipe developed for Alvarado Street Bakery. 

Amanda Freitag at CIA Copia | Napa Valley

On Tuesday, September 22nd, The Culinary Institute of America at Copia, in Napa, CA, christened their kitchen demo theater with a demo and book signing with Amanda Freitag. I was fortunate to score an invite, meet Amanda and take some behind the scenes photos. It took all my self-control not to completely fan out! I think celebrity chefs are so much cooler than other celebrities and it was a bucket list honor to watch her cook and to eat her food! 

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For those non-foodies, Amanda Freitag is an award-winning New York chef, a celebrity chef on several Food Network shows including my person favorite, Chopped, and now a cookbook author. 

Freitag was introduced at the event by Traci Dutton, the CIA’s Sommelier, who gave us some insight into what’s to come at their new downtown Napa location. The stunning building will host a full restaurant, with head chef Sandy Sauter, a retail shop with cookware and linens, cooking classes, an amphitheater for private events, public concerts, and weddings. The retail shop and restaurant will feature products made, grown, and produced by locals. 

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Chef Freitag is a CIA Hyde Park graduate and was sincerely enthusiastic about being the christening chef in the new kitchen theater. Freitag is hands down, the nicest, most humble food celebrity I have ever met. And her teaching methods are so approachable and she puts beginners like me at ease much like Remy, the rat in Ratatouille who learns from Chef Gusteau that “anyone can cook!” She began her presentation by leveling the field, stating that cooking at home is hard and admitted it can be intimidating: “You have to shop, schlep, prep, cook, clean and serve! It’s a lot of work!” She also encouraged us not to shy away from foods that are ‘scary that you may not bring home from the grocery store. 

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Chef prepared one of her favorite recipes from her book, The Chef Next Door; ‘Duck Breast with Pint Nut Relish’. I consider myself a brave home chef, yet I’ve never cooked with duck before, I was eager to observe and learn a duck recipe to try. I couldn’t believe how easy she made it seem! Needless to say, Amanda’s demonstration inspired me to go to my local fine foods grocer and find some really nice cuts of duck breast for some home experimentation. One of the coolest things I learned from Amanda was her tip on cooking protein. She showed us how to score the fat on the breast, the importance of starting with a hot pan, and the discipline to LEAVE IT ALONE! For some reason, many home cooks have a habit of shaking the pan around, stirring the sauce constantly, and flipping the meat on the grill over and over. According to Chef Freitag, this isn’t benefiting us in any way! Amanda told us to “use your senses for everything.” Your nose will smell when the fat is rendering, your ears will hear the sizzle calm down when it’s about time to flip and your eyes will see the edges begin to lift. 

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I was relieved to discover that Chef Amanda eats throughout her whole cooking process like I do. And not just to taste test, but because we love to eat! Yes, tasting as you go is so important, but so is snacking. In fact, she even mentioned she used to eat straight mirepoix during her CIA classes because she was working so hard and starving! It is these personal human experiences she shares that puts her audience at ease.

After cooking the duck, Freitag invited her guest, Chef Vera Eisenberg to show the audience how to make her famous strudel dough. Eisenberg is the queen of strudel and even joked that on the cover of her first cookbook she wants to be “naked and wrapped in a strudel dough.” Her personality was magnetic and her sense of humor was well-developed. Eisenberg decided to change career paths later in life and went back to school to study Culinary Arts in 1999, where she interned with Freitag and the two became great friends.



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I was able to sit front row and shoot some footage of Amanda and Vera stretching the dough paper thin “until you can read your recipe through it.” Everyone in the audience got to taste the Roasted Duck and Vera’s Hungarian Cabbage & Apple Strudel. There was a short question and answer portion at the end where audience members asked Amanda about tips on purchasing high-quality kitchenware that won’t leave you broke, and about her favorite moments from being a judge on Chopped. 

Everyone was able to purchase a copy of Amanda’s book and get it signed at the end. As the first event in the new location, it was a huge success. The lighting, acoustics, and seating are ideal for this kind of intimate food demonstration and it allows the audience to connect with the professionals. Personally, I cannot wait to attend another class at the new CIA Copia.

The Best Quinoa Salad Ever!

The Best Quinoa Salad ever!

My dear friend Monica introduced me to cold quinoa salad recently, and I’ve spent the last four months or so trying to create the ultimate recipe. I’ve come a long way from just tossing a couple veggies and whatever quinoa was on sale with some apple cider vin and olive oil.

My final recipe is a masterpiece. This is by far the best quinoa salad I have ever had, and possibly one of the best salad’s I’ve ever had.

The magic is in the dressing, which I can’t take total credit for. Jennifer Harris, local queen of fermentation and pickling, showed me how to make dressing with sauerkraut. The recipe here is my edited version.

The latest edit to this dish is the roasted brussels sprouts. It’s my go-to veggie that always pleases my household and takes 5 seconds to make. (That’s not true it takes like 20 min, but it can be done while multitasking.)

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I started with roasting the brussels and letting them cool. Then I made the quinoa, transferred to a large bowl and then stuck in the fridge to chill. This recipe is NOT good if the quinoa hasn’t completely chilled so be patient.

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While all be chillin’, make your dressing and chop your veggies.

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This recipe makes A LOT of food so use your biggest bowl to mix. Toss all your ingredients and enjoy! This recipe is easily made vegan if you sub vegetable stock for the chicken stock when making the quinoa.

To make a meal out of it, cook up some chicken sausage on the side, and bam, happy and full household!

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Ingredients:

For The Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

-Approx. 20 Brussels sprouts

-1 TBSP olive oil

-1/2 tsp garlic powder

-1/2 tsp salt

dash of pepper

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Peel and quarter the sprouts, toss sprouts in oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast for approx. 12-15 min or until golden brown around the edges. Set aside.

 

For the Quinoa:

-3 cups of quinoa ( I used 1.5 cups of sprouted quinoa because its easier to digest and 1.5 cups of red quinoa, strictly because it looks cool.)

-1.5 cups of chicken stock and 1.5 cups of filtered water. (sub vegetable stock to make this recipe vegan.)

Lightly toast the dry quinoa in a large skillet, stirring frequently so they don’t burn. You will start to smell a toasted, nutty aroma and eventually hear a bit of crackling. That’s when you know its time to add the liquid. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 15 min. Do not over-cook. Al dente quinoa is better than mushy, especially for this dish. Put in fridge to chill.

For the Dressing:

  • 1 cup of Bubbies Sauerkraut ( I only use traditional, fermented sauerkraut.)
  • 2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp mustard (Any kind will work, but I like to use Dijon.)
  • 1 TBSP local honey
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

Blend dressing ingredients in a magic bullet or food processor until most of the kraut chunks are blended thoroughly.

For the Salad:

  • 1 small stalk of broccoli , chopped
  • 1/2 of a small head of purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • a handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • avocado, sliced to your preference

Throw it all together and toss well with a little S & P to taste! Test out the recipe and let me know how it turns out!

 

 

Spoiled In Sonoma: Vlogs

Photo Courtesy Of Spoiled To Perfection 1

I am learning new things everyday, and I’m pretty excited about the filming and editing that I’ve done so far for Spoiled To Perfection! Here is a collection of videos that I have directed, shot and edited so far this year. They are getting better as I go, and I know I have a long way to go but I’m proud of what I’ve learned in the last 2 months.

Urban Garden Therapy

IMG_9618 (1)It’s not news that gardening is good for you. People have been using gardening as a type of therapy long before I discovered it. I guess it took me so long to love it because I’ve never lived in a place that allowed me to do so. I am a serial apartment renter, thanks to the ridiculous rental market in Sonoma County. My conditions haven’t changed. I still rent a small apartment downtown. I still have no yard, just a small patio cluttered with a variety of pots growing succulents, spider plants and more. But taking care of this little collection of plants has brought me a lot of peace and relaxation. I’ve actually ditched friends just to go home and water because I truly enjoy the 20 min break in my day to just be on the patio. Watching something grow is special, whether it’s a plant, a relationship, or a career. What I’ve enjoyed the most is learning how to take clippings from my favorite plants and grow them again for others. Most of my “garden” is from clippings from others as well, so it’s nice to pass it on.

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One of the best parts of living in Sonoma County is the access we have to incredible nurseries. I love Imwalle Gardens, King St. Nursery, California Carnivores and Urban Tree Farm. My “garden” is a constant work in progress, which is what I love most about it! If you haven’t taken up garden therapy yet, don’t let space limit you. I have plants growing on almost every surface. On the front porch, chairs, over the sink, in my book shelf and more. I promise it will make you feel good.

Things I Learned About Myself At Outside Lands

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Things I learned about myself at Outside Lands:

  1. Death by trampling is a serious fear of mine.
  2. I do not like crowds.
  3. I will never again share a hotel room with my guy friends.
  4. I am a master at using a porto potty without actually having to touch a single thing.
  5. More than 5 hours of sleep is a must during a three day festival
  6. Festival feet is a real thing people. Post festival pedicures are a requirement.

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The only word I can use to describe this past weekend is “ridiculous.” It was ridiculously fun, ridiculously crowded,  and ridiculously expensive.

Outside Lands is an annual music festival in Golden Gate Park and only gets bigger and more outrageous every year, so I’m told. This was my first time attending. I celebrate music festival season like most people celebrate the holiday season. I take time off work months in advance for the festivals I love the most. I have a “music festival,” checklist/binder full of tips, packing lists, sheet music and more. However, Outside Lands is not the type of festival you will usually spot me at. I prefer events like Strawberry, Hardly Strickly, Annual Father’s Day Bluegrass Fest etc. I prefer that style of music, I prefer to camp and I do not like near death experiences.


Yes, I thought I was going to die on Saturday. My group and I were really jazzed about going to see G Eazy. He’s a local SF hip hop artist that we’e been following for a few years now. The crowds were insane so we got to the stage 30 min early so that we could be close to the front. We never really looked back to see how deep the sea of people was behind us.

After his set was over, (which was totally kick ass by the way, probably my favorite show of the whole weekend) a mass entrance and exit of people merged into one and it started to get really cramped. Think about 10 thousand people all trying to get in and get out at the same time. After a few minutes of pushing our way out, tension started to rise and people started tripping, falling, elbowing and yelling and I was sure I was going to get trampled and swallowed by the insanity. It’s hard to explain in words how scared I was. I looked back at my boyfriend with a “panic attack” look on my face and he knew instantly that I was on the verge of a total freak out. He wrapped himself around my body and just started body slamming people out of the way to get me the hell out of there. It must have taken 15 min to get through, that’s how deep the sea of people was. When we finally broke free, I felt like bursting into tears. I always knew I was a little claustrophobic, but this was the ultimate test. I held it together, but needless to say, we watched the rest of the shows from the back row. That just isn’t my idea of fun. Maybe I’m getting old, or maybe I’m really out of touch with what’s considered exciting, but I’ll take boring ole bluegrass over that craziness any day.

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It wasn’t all bad. Lake Street Dive, Elton John, and Devil Makes Three were awesome! The food vendors were so tasty and creative. Oh and of course, WineLands, the tent full of some of the best wineries in our area. I indulged at Preston, Ridge and Red Car. All in all, the weekend was insanely over priced. The hotels, the ubers, the drinks, the food. If I do it again, I’m picking my one favorite day and that’s it. By Sunday, we were all so wiped out, we were walking around like zombies just trying to find somewhere quiet to lay in the grass.

I am looking forward to Strawberry Music Festival in Yosemite next month. I get to see my Strawberry family, jam with talented musicians and have quality times with my old man.

On Sundays We Shop

When I woke up this morning, I was in no mood to shop, which is strange because I’m always in the mood to shop. That’s 90% of the reason I have a job. So I can SHOP! But this morning was different. I had discovered that one of my accounts had been compromised. Apparently someone opened up a pay pal with my chase card and purchased a few hundred dollars worth of who knows what. Shout out to Chase for catching it, but also, screw you Chase for being the first person I have to talk to on a Sunday morning.

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Anyways, I couldn’t let these nameless thieves take shopping away from me, so I got dressed and met up with my dear friend and fellow restaurant industry babe, Stefanie Surovec. We had brunch at one of my favorite places to dine in Santa Rosa, Spinster Sisters. Brunch was spent discussing major world issues; gossip, relationships, bargain shopping. The usual. Stefanie had invited me to a private shopping event that day. I had no idea what I was tagging along to. When she said “trunk sale,” I was expected a high class garage sale in someone’s yard with funky lamps, art and bubbly. (Clarification-An event on a Sunday in Wine Country without sparkling wine doesn’t exist. Seriously never happens.)  What I walked into was the the gorgeous home of Holly Ratliff, owner of Nor Cal Boho Chic, an online store where you can find one of a kind, handmade goods from Sonoma County, CA.

Holly had transformed her home into a huge pop up shop, supporting local retail brands owned by talented and business savvy women of all ages. I was in shopping addict heaven! I was swimming in small boutique shops with some of the cutest collections of clothing I’ve seen in a long time, hair care brands, jewelers, swimwear and skin care. Holly had hired a very handsome bartender to serve wine and the kitchen was decked out in horderves. It took me about 5 seconds to completely forget about the whole Chase credit card thing. “It’s fine,” I told myself, “this is why I have more than one card.”

IMG_9043I saw some familiar faces including, Sue Navarra, owner of Sunkissed by Sunsations. Sue is the spray tan queen of Santa Rosa and has a knack for carrying the sexiest swim wear out there. Sue brought a gorgeous model with her to walk the party in some of her pieces. If you are looking for one of a kind swimwear and summer attire, as well as a killer spray tan, visit Sue at Sunkissed by Sunsations, or Great Sunsations.

Stefanie and I spent most of our time and money with the girls at Delicious Boutique. Liz and Salma, owners of the boutique were joined by their manager, Samantha. These ladies are so extremely stylish and have such a deep understanding of classic, yet trendy clothing that is comfortable and high quality. Their store is located in Rohnert Park, Ca. I picked myself up an adorable, reversible, tie dye pencil skirt by Michael Stars and Stef got a backless tee. I’m looking forward to visiting the store and seeing what else they are carrying right now.

Deanna Thompson, one of my favorite women that I met today, owns Haute52, a Designer Retail Consignment shop. Holly’s spread of handbags was more than impressive. You can visit Holly’s site to shop and consign your own designer items. Holly’s keen sense of entrepreneurship has definitely rubbed off on her twelve year old daughter Bobbie, who had a booth of her own. Bobbie Thompson is the owner of Daisies and Toast, organic skincare essentials. Bobbie makes her own decorative soaps, body scrubs, lip balms and more. Her products are sold exclusively at Nor Cal Boho Chic. Mother Holly said, ” I told Bobbie if she wants new Rainbow flip flops and new Nikes, you have to figure out how to make your own money.” Holly gave her daughter a business loan to buy the products she needed to start Daises and Toast and Bobbie is responsible for paying her back and putting 30% of her profits in a savings account for the future. I loved this story because it reminded me of my childhood, and how my parents started teaching me business lessons before I could ride a bike.

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Other vendors at the event included: Michelle Neal Jewelry and Pisces Productions. I was so impressed with Holly’s work and how much time, energy and money she puts into this event. It’s a beautiful thing to see all these women, who have started their own businesses, succeeding at doing something they love and teaching future generations that being a successful businesswoman takes blood, sweat and tears, but is worth every second of it. Cheers to you, ladies!

I can’t wait until next year.

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I’ll Never Grow Old

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Most days I have a grumpy old man, “back in my day” attitude about my generations’ taste in…well mostly everything, but especially music. The past decade has been scary and disappointing for me in regards to what was considered popular music, and I truly thought all hope was lost for the future.

Let me explain. Pop.

Never mind, no need to explain that one. We all know it sucks and is void of quality.

And I don’t want to get into the techno argument because I’ve had it a million times with my Dj friends who have tried to convince me that people who construct sounds on their lap top and make techno music have an equivalent amount of musical talent as someone who shreds on the guitar or belts ballads like Whitney. We will never agree.

However, over the past few years, I have observed an increase of young fans that are getting into Americana, Folk, Bluegrass and good ole, well written singer/songwriter music. This makes me happier than I can even explain.

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I’ve been going to music festivals with my dad since I was old enough to stand on my own two feet and dance. It’s become our tradition, and now every summer we have our own little musical adventure. We camp, drink, jam, dance and discover new music to get us through the year until its time to return again. The last few years have been all about Strawberry Music Festival. We’ve made friends we only see at this festival, but stay in touch with all year. I’ve met musicians that have changed my life and opened my world to music I would have never discovered on my own.

Most recently, I took my dad to BottleRock Music Festival in Napa, CA. He hadn’t seen Robert Plant perform since the 70’s and I felt so lucky to have shared the experience with him.

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The thing that made me so happy about this festival was the size of the crowds and amount of fans that came out to see bands like the Avett Brothers and Brothers Comatose. And these “kids,” (aka people my age and younger) had as much energy and excitement as crowds I’ve seen at Raves, listening to horrible pop, techno and offensive rap. They knew all the lyrics, they jumped up and down and cheered for killer fiddle solos. It was moving. It restored my faith in them and their taste.

When Brother’s Comatose performed “I’ll never grow old,” I witnessed a whole new generation of modern day peaceful hippy kids, dancing around in circles and holding their hands up high singing “I’ll never grow old,” along with the band over and over again. I felt less old than I usually do at these big festivals because it actually felt like I was at Strawberry. I felt like I could relate to everyone there, like we all belonged there together.

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It could be just wishful thinking, but I’d like to think that this generation isn’t getting enough out of techno, MDMA and repetitive lyrics about partying all the time anymore. I think music is evolving along with the rest of the world. Minds are opening slowly, but they’re opening, and that’s enough for me.

I could go on and on with a list of bands that I love but I’ll try and just focus on the best and most influential.

The Steeldrivers

The Avett Brothers

The Brothers Comatose

Patty Griffin

The California Honeydrops

Audra Mae

Alabama Shakes

Aubrey Debauchery

Chris Stapelton

Punch Brothers

Gary Clark Jr.

Lake Street Dive

The Easy Leaves

E Minor and the Dirty Diamonds

The Lone Bellow

The Record Company

Carolina Chocolate Drops

The Jompson Brothers

Devil Makes Three

Trampled by Turtles

If you have any interest in this type of music at all, I can promise you this list will convert you completely. These are bands that are current, making music for today’s generation, with old school roots. Enjoy!

A Social Media Girl In A Wine Country World

It’s hard to talk about who I am and where I’m from without sounding like I’m bragging. That is not my intention. But I did grow up in the wine country, my parents are still happily married, I’ve been lucky enough to do a handful of traveling, I went to college for free, I have the love and devotion of a great man, and the coolest friends a girl could ask for.
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Now before you make the assumption that I am a spoiled, rich girl, dining at French Laundry and buying my groceries at Dean & Deluca, I can assure you that I have never been to a Thomas Kellar restaurant, and even though Dean & Deluca is around the corner from my parents’ house, we don’t shop there.

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I was born in Los Angeles, where my parents were raised. We made the move to the Napa Valley in the early 90’s when the housing market was affordable and their businesses were doing well. In our 20 years in the wine country, we have watched property value triple. It’s impossible to live in the wine country on an average American salary these days. I don’t know how I make it work, but I do because I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else.

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I’ve been a restaurant kid since I was 15. I started out as a hostess at a local brewery and worked my way up to bartender by 21 at several fine-dining restaurants all over Napa and Sonoma County. The restaurant industry gave me the freedom to do full time school and pursue my love for music. But as most restaurant industry people know, it’s harder to get out of it than it is to get into it. The flexible hours, the cash in your pocket every night, the free food, and of course the friendships that you form with your co-workers are often the strongest bonds.

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Nowadays, when I’m not waiting tables at THE BEST slow food movement restaurant in Sonoma County, I’m working on building my social media business, working for Spoiled To Perfection, a webseries about fermentation, working out, hanging with friends and family, watching the Giants, cooking, making music, playing dress up, drinking wine and exploring the most beautiful place to live in all of California, The Wine Country.

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I’m a loud, whiny, hyper, and passionate person with only child and little person syndrome. My friends and family are insane.

Our stories are so bazaar. I struggle on a daily basis with the decision to spend the day being a productive professional or a total weirdo, artistic maniac. I cry all the time, from laughing just as much as from sadness. I truly believe in my heart that almost any problem can be solved with tacos and Netflix.

My blog is all over the place, waiter rants, marketing, cooking experiments, reviews of my favorite places and products, funny stories and more. I try to stay as objective and appropriate as possible. (That’s a total lie) Follow me on IG and Twitter @emmysomple.

Cheers!