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5 Best Friend Summer Date Ideas

bestfrienddates

Summer is the perfect time to catch up with with girlfriends. My best friend Audree Lopez of the fashion blog Simply Audree Kate and I finally reunited in Phoenix. We had a few BFF dates, which usually involved coffee, food and Bravo reruns. Here are a few other ideas for you and your best friend(s) to have some much-deserved girl time.

Rise and Shine
Find a new spot for brunch. Decide on two (or three) things to split and share. I love trying new plates with friends: one of us will get a classic and the other will get something out of our comfort zone. That ensures we can both have the best of both worlds.

Showtime
Choose a show to binge watch together and set a few hours aside to reconnect on the couch. Don’t forget to stock up on munchies and beverages before you start. For a Saturday or Sunday afternoon: put together a quick antipasto platter of finger foods. Any combination of cheese, meats, fruits and crackers will work. If you’re getting boozy, have the girls bring white wine or prosecco. For an evening of TV, sample a variety of classic movie night favorites: bags pre-made popcorn, red wine, and a variety of Ben and Jerry’s flavors.

Say Cheese
Coordinate outfits and have a photoshoot. Ask strangers to take pictures of you two together near cool murals or classic locations of your city. If nobody is around, overload on selfies until you take a gem. #werkit

Taste and Tell
Do research and see what specials local breweries, wine stores or coffee shops have over the summer. Often they will hold sampling nights where you and your girlfriend can catch up over drinks, and learn some new tips. My friend and I discovered a free “beer school” at World of Beer in Arizona once a week.

Namaste
One thing I look forward to every summer is lulu lemon’s community outdoor yoga classes. They are free and usually poolside, at a trendy hotel or in a park nearby their store. Check out your local lulu lemon store to see if they are hosting any summer classes. After yoga, grab a fresh smoothie or juice with your BFF.

Love food. Love self. Love life.
Gabriela

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Family Weekend in Houston

Houston, Texas has now become my new home away from home. Living in the city was incredible, and I will recap my favorites from the city in the coming weeks. Before I share those, I will be posting an installment of recent travel experiences I want to share. Here’s what is to come: the weekend my family visited Houston, a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, a restaurant from Tampa, Florida and my first time in Cabo. First up: H-Town!

My dad, step-mom, step-sister and I ate our way through the city, stopping along the way for happy hour and lots of photos. The Biscuit Paint Wall is the perfect spot for photo shoots, just down the street from one of my favorite coffee shops called Common Bond. I ordered the incredible breakfast sandwich pictured below that was oozing with egg yolk, cheese and guacamole on their signature fresh-baked bread. The favorite cocktails of the weekend were the Hibiscus Royal from benjy’s (champagne + hibiscus) and a classic martini from the St. Regis Hotel where the live band in the Remington Bar is on fire on Saturday nights. Benjy’s also has some of my favorite happy hour appetizers like the salmon sashimi (featured below), the crispy tofu and the spicy crispy chicken with blue cheese. It was so wonderful sharing a city that I have grown to love so much with my family. While we accomplished a lot, I certainly have things left on the bucket list for our return!
gourmetgabhouston

Love food. Love self. Love life.
Gabriela

 

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Cookbooks: Do we have to pick a side?

gourmetgab

I used to love the nostalgic idea of collecting cookbooks. I would tab my favorite pages and let sauces stain the paper as I cooked. I dreamt of having a library of multicolored cookbooks nestled in a perfect corner of my imaginary kitchen. Ever since I was little, my family and I have flipped through the falling-off pages of the Birkeland Family Cookbook to reference recipes from grandparents, great aunts and cousins. Last year, I purchased Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything to inspire the “graduated-independent-20-something” chapter of my life. I wanted to use it essentially as my kitchen bible. A go-to for learning classic techniques and high quality recipes.

Maybe I had more of a romantic dream of collecting cookbooks because now my biggest collection of recipes is a collection of bookmarks on my iPhone screen. As I experiment more with recipes and delve further into classic techniques, I find myself relying on the internet as my number one resource. I type in a recipe idea or a technique I want to learn, and let the world-wide web direct me to what I am looking for. I can search and search until I find the answer, simply with the click of a mouse or a rapid keystroke.

The very honest reviews of recipes by the readers provide valuable feedback online. I take them with a grain of salt, but always scan them to get an idea of the quality of the recipe. However, unless the recipe is from a particular author online that I respect and trust, I do miss the “seal of approval” cookbooks seem to have. You can feel the intention behind the recipes and the voice of the author behind the text. There’s thoughtfulness and credibility that quickly published recipes from the web seem to lack, even if the recipes online were professionally tested, copy-edited and formatted uniformly like cookbooks.

There’s no right answer for whether home cooks and chefs should rely on the internet or cookbooks. Personally, I have settled on a happy medium of curating recipes. I will continue to pursue a collection of cookbooks for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Good old-fashioned paper cookbooks will always be nostalgic and function like artwork in a kitchen, like Adam Roberts wrote on his blog. To the contrary, I will embrace virtual recipes and cookbooks as technology evolves. L.V. Andersen from Slate said there is a good chance they will not last forever. “Cookbooks may indeed outlast other print books, but they will eventually go extinct. And that’s OK,” she wrote. It all boils down to the fact that cookbooks and digital recipes can coexist for different reasons, Dana Velden wrote. We don’t have to take sides as long as we can appreciate a good recipe when we see one.

Love food. Love self. Love life.
Gabriela

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Monday Mood: Hibiscus

hibiscusThe Hibiscus Royal cocktail at Benjy’s in Houston started it all for me. The Champagne turned slightly pink from the hibiscus flavor and a twist of lemon served as the garnish. It was a refreshing change to a typical mimosa, but simple enough to replicate at home. I have always enjoyed jamaica, the hibiscus tea served often with Mexican food, but did not realize hibiscus’ fragrant floral options beyond that. It is refreshing for summer, has beautiful color and can be used in variety of ways with a little creativity. We added a wild hibiscus flower and a touch of the concentrated syrup to prosecco this weekend for my step-sister’s graduation party. I would love to try the hibiscus bitters in other summer cocktails. For something different, try this recipe for homemade cold-brewed jamaica or melon-hibiscus gelato.

1 // Hibiscus Royal cocktail from Benjy’s

2 // Hibiscus Yuzu candle

3 // Hibiscus Bitters

4 // New favorite iPhone emoji

5 // Hibiscus Tea

6 // Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup

Love food. Love self. Love life.
Gabriela

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Monday Mood: Pineapple

MondayMood_Pineapple

A few summers ago I started this series called Monday Mood as a little source of inspiration to begin the week. Mondays can be hard, but I hope this can be something you look forward to. I will share trends, inspiration, and collections of my favorite finds. This week, I put together a board of all things pineapple. This fruit is so trendy right now (I see them everywhere on Instagram!), but in all reality, nothing says summer better than a big bowl of cup-up-and-chilled fruit and ready to eat. If you’re craving pineapple now, try these strawberry pineapple popsicles, pineapple salsa or a classic pina colada.

1 // Geometric Pineapple Garland

2 // Pineapple Drink Stirrer

3 // Two’s Company Pineapple Jars with Lid

4 // Pineapple Art

5 // Bottle Stopper

6 // Phone Case

7 // Pineapple Fingertip Towel

Love food. Love self. Love life.
Gabriela