Tag Archives: olive oil

Food Travel

Baker & Olive

San Diego is known for its natural beauty, and perhaps even for its artificial beauties, but a foodie haven? Not so much. Having lived collectively in Chicago, New York, Boston, London, Paris and Tokyo before moving here, my husband and I had to adjust to living in a place where people seemed too busy working out to be concerned with food. Which saddened me, because Food, you complete me.

I want to start brewing my own vinegar. That will make for two pets in my home: a 5-year-old sourdough starter named Pete (which is also what my daughter calls the holes in her jeans), and a vinegar mother that will heretofore be known as Wilma. Fermented pets are the best ones.

You can imagine my excitement when Baker & Olive appeared in my neighborhood. You can be excited too, because you can order online.

This is a place where they allow you to drink olive oil and balsamic vinegars out of a cup.

It’s like the land of milk and honey without the milk (but a good selection of raw honey). See those silver things? They’re like kegs of olive oil and vinegar, and when you walk in the staff dispenses these deliciously viscous liquids for straight from the tap. They’ve got beautiful gift sets as well which are a nice way to try a variety of flavors.

Why yes, I do drink gravy, why do you ask?

Back to the vinegars: a nice variety vinegars, both balsamics and lighter ones. I was focused during my visit on the balsamics; you can see some of the varieties here. Their website says that “the density and complexity of our balsamic vinegars are a testament to the fact that they are made in Modena, Italy from high quality grape must, cooked down over an open wood fire and aged in oak barrels without the addition of much else, unlike so many “balsamic-like” products on the market.” Whatever they did, this vinegar is smooth, rich and complex. I bought a bottle of the violet-infused vinegar, which has a lovely fragrant bouquet; I tasted a strawberry balsamic which would be divine over a panna cotta topped with berries.

The violet balsamic, while lovely in concert with olive oil with bread as a convenient carrier, was a bit too floral for my standard vinaigrette — and I make vinaigrettes just about daily, so I need to head back to get a good basic balsamic.

I’m a vinegar novice though, so would love to hear if anyone else has experience making vinegars, or if you have recommendations on particularly good ones.

Excuse me while I have a glass of the violet now.

Cooking Food

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Olive Oil

A date has been set for the EPIC BAKING DAY and I must continue to prepare. First, by purchasing more / larger pants with elastic waistbands and then determining the number of 30-pound bags of sugar I need to buy from Costco.  And I know this doesn’t make sense here but I just have to say that I LOVE HUMMUS. People sometimes ask me* what my favorite hummus is, and I have to say that it’s the Trader Joe’s Smooth and Creamy Classic Hummus. Man, I love that hummus! I’ve been eating it by the tubful in my pantry (and then telling people that my jeans are tight because I put on 10 pounds of muscle over the holidays).  It’s really good with tuna, and shepherd’s pie, and on whatever other leftovers I don’t want to taste in particular.  Sometimes I wake up at night in a sweat thinking about it. It’s that good.

I’ve been feeling bad that this blog on the whole presents more problems than solutions. So I thought I’d start sharing some things that people might find kind of useful, like…how to make brussels sprouts!

I belong to a CSA and this means that sometimes making dinner is kind of like being on Iron Chef, without all the fancy cooking stuff and the chefs. I’ve always liked brussels sprouts but they never really blew me away, and I never looked forward to them the way I look forward to hummus. Until The Day My Friend Carol Made These Brussels Sprouts.  Here’s how you do it:

First, you cut the sprouts in half.

Brussels sprouts halved

and then chop up some garlic. My mom peels garlic by using a meat hammer and squishing the cloves, so that’s what I’ve done here. It works well and it’s quick, if you don’t need the whole clove to stay intact. After you’ve squished them out of their skins, chop them up. I forgot to take a picture of that part.


Then toss the sprouts together with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a baking tray, and broil for about 10 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the sprouts turn a bright green and some of the edges start to carmelize.

Brussels sprouts in baking tray

and that’s it! This is the ONLY brussels sprouts recipe that my family will eat. Enjoy!

*Ok, in this case, people = me.




  • 1/2 pound brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3 large or 5 small cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Prepare broiler.

Toss the brussels sprouts with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place on a baking tray and broil. Check after 4 minutes and toss the sprouts to ensure even exposure to heat. Pull the sprouts out after they’ve turned a brilliant green, and some of the outer leave have begun to carmelize, between 6-10 minutes. Season as needed with additional salt / pepper.

Serves 2-4.