Big Sur, California

Big Sur. CA |A Brown Table

I've been meaning to share photos from my trip to Big Sur for a while but never got to it until now. With groundhog day done, it seems this is the best time to talk about spring and summer travel. Big Sur is a magnificent natural treasures that you must try to visit at least once if you can. In an ideal situation, you have one person to drive while you stare through the car seat window across the massive and spectacular stretch of land that meets the ocean. Big Sur is dramatic and colorful. From the plants that cover the landscapes, to the whales that you might see far into the deep blue ocean or the condors soaring in the sky, Big Sur is every bit a jewel of the west coast. 

Though, we didn't spend the entire weekend at Big Sur, there are plenty of places you can rent and stay the entire weekend. We did however, make a mandatory stop at the famous Big Sur Bakery and we were glad we did! We had a small snack at the bakery and later ate dinner at the restaurant. We ordered the steak with shaved wasabi root, the shishito peppers and sea bass with risotto. You know your fish is cooked to perfect when it falls off like a soft buttery flake. For dessert, I got the lemon ice cream pie, it's very lemony and citrusy with a delicious pistachio crust. 

Just a little tip, even though we made reservations online at the Big Sur Bakery's website, their kitchen was closed when arrived for lunch. I highly recommend trying to call them up to make sure they actually have their kitchen open for the hours you want to visit . We did call in advance but couldn't seem to catch a hold of them but they were very apologetic and nice. We ended up staying there for dinner which as I said before was well worth it! I'm going to stop talking and let you take a look at Big Sur.

Big Sur. CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur. CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur. CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur, CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur, CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur Bakery, CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur Bakery, CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur Bakery, CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur Bakery, CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur Bakery, CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur Bakery, CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur Bakery, CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur Bakery, CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur Bakery, CA |A Brown Table
Big Sur, CA |A Brown Table

Mendocino, California

Mendocino, California | A Brown Table

We drove up to Mendocino in Northern California this Labor Day weekend. It's about a 4 hour drive from where we live in South Bay and we took Snoopy along with us which I did regret one night (more about that later on). The drive up to the beach gets very beautiful once you get into the thick of the redwood forests in Navarro River Redwood State Park. Majestic pine trees stand tall pointing towards the sky allowing little snippets of the sun's rays to sneak through the branches. If you're lucky you'll see plenty of deer walking around in the forest!

Mendocino is a cute little town. It's tiny. It's where Murder She Wrote was shot (no Jess Fletcher in sight) but you can imagine her biking around the neighborhood. It somehow fits even if it was supposed to be New England. There are plenty of little cafes and restaurants in the small downtown area. Since we had Snoopy with us we couldn't visit all the restaurants we wanted to try but we eat lots of breakfast pastries at the Good Life Cafe and Bakery. Go there, you will love it! Take a trip to check out the glass at Glass beach, it's a short drive from Mendocino and the beach allows dogs which can be fun, if your dog loves to get into the water. There are tons of other little beaches all over the stretch, though I'm not sure which ones are open to dogs and if any of them are private but again they're all beautiful with breathtaking landscapes to enjoy. You might also get to see condors (they've made an amazing recovery and you will see the flying or sunning on trees).

Coming back to why I almost regretted taking Snoopy with us. Raccoons in the middle of the night going through a trash can and a dog that can sense what's going on outside is a recipe for poor sleep and one excited pup!

Navarro River Redwoods State Park, California | A Brown Table
Navarro River Redwoods State Park, California | A Brown Table
Navarro River Redwoods State Park, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California|A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Good Life Bakery Cafe, Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Concords (birds), Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Glass Beach, California | A Brown Table
Glass Beach, California | A Brown Table
Rosemary bushes, Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table
Mendocino, California | A Brown Table

saveur awards 2015/brooklyn, NY

saveur/brooklyn NY | A Brown Table

As some of you know, I was up in Brooklyn, NY last week to attend the Saveur magazine food blog awards which was held at the beautiful Wythe Hotel. This was my first time at the Saveur awards and boy, was it a wonderful experience! I was nominated in the Best Photography category and this year two winners were chosen, Editor's Pick: Renee Kemps and Reader's Choice: Lady and Pups. Thank you so much for voting for me and supporting me along my journey. This would not have been possible without you. Molly took home two awards this year, Blog of the Year and the Best Baking and Desserts. Not only is this girl super talented, she is also so much fun to hang out with. 

There were quite a few bloggers representing the west coast, Phyllis, Michelle, and Phi. I asked Phyllis to adopt me because her food is always so delicious! I got to meet baker Yossy (she won in the Baking and Desserts category) who shared a few her favorite dinner spots with us when we were out and about the city. I got to meet CynthiaLindaStephanieSamantha, Emilie, Alanna, Julia, Summer, Kristan, Jessica and Jodi. I was hoping to meet Lindsey but unfortunately she came down with the flu. Sweet, sweet, Imen came down from Ireland and it was so nice to meet her in person, I can't wait for her book to be released! 

Our trip can described as one humongous food fest! We might have participated in an entire journey of back-to-back pastry shop touring, all under a few hours. We visited Momofuku Milk Bar, Bakeri and The Bakeshop by Whoops.  Chitra the brains behind Brooklyn Delhi took me to to Five Leaves for lunch, where I had a delicious watermelon radish and farro salad. Chitra also gave me one her homemade garlic achaar (Indian pickle) which we opened up yesterday and absolutely loved! I also took some time to meet up with the guys at Jarry magazine for a delicious lunch at ABC Cocina. I have a little a project coming up with these boys later this year that I'm very, very excited about!

Saveur planned out a fun and exciting time for us. We had a blogger bootcamp of sorts with a lot of tastings, demos and eating. Eating is the theme at these events and at one point, I had to take a break from eating every minute. I was going to fall into a food induced coma! The day after the award ceremony we visited Whole Foods in Brooklyn and got to do a little tour of their facility. There are only two facilities in the country where Whole Foods grinds its own coffee, one that's here in Berkley and the other, in Brooklyn. We also got to check the hydroponics research and production that takes places on top of the roof of the Brooklyn store. Gotham Greens grows several fresh greens and tomatoes using less water than that would be required to grow the same plants in soil. Low carbon footprint and more food to feed people in an urban setting, it's industrial and urban technology at its best!

I couldn't have asked for more on this trip! Good times with good people and I made lots of new friends! Congratulations to everyone who was nominated this year.

Note: I've probably forgotten to mention everyone I met at the awards this year (and I apologize for that) but please visit the awards link see the entire list of finalists and winners for this year. 

wythe hotel, brooklyn NY | A Brown Table
wythe hotel, brooklyn NY | A Brown Table
wythe hotel, brooklyn NY | A Brown Table
wythe hotel, brooklyn NY | A Brown Table
bakeri brooklyn NY | A Brown Table
wythe hotel, brooklyn NY | A Brown Table
wythe hotel, brooklyn NY | A Brown Table
milkbar brooklyn, NY | A Brown Table
milkbar brooklyn, NY | A Brown Table
milkbar brooklyn, NY | A Brown Table
milkbar brooklyn, NY | A Brown Table
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milkbar brooklyn, NY | A Brown Table
saveur 2015 / brooklyn. NY | A Brown Table
isa brooklyn, NY | A Brown Table
gotham greens, brooklyn NY | A Brown Table
gotham greens, brooklyn NY | A Brown Table

half moon bay etc.

half moon bay, CA | A Brown Table

It wasn't the city or the wine valley that made me consider moving here when we took a little trip a little over a year ago to visit San Francisco. It was this little spot by the ocean called Half Moon Bay that's only a few minutes away from the city. Though Half Moon Bay is what I first fell in love with, the entire stretch is gorgeous, Pacifica and all the little spots along the coast. Tall cliffs weathered by the constant smashing of the waves run along the entire edge of this part of the world. There are farms that face this ocean, green stretches of land that grow artichokes that arch towards the sun. Sea figs in all sorts of shades of pink and yellow cover the landscape like a thick carpet. The water is cold and the wind if awakes can make it chilly but it never stops the surfers or the numerous people that hike along the many paths and trails. It's a place to relax and unwind and definitely one worth visiting if you do come to San Francisco. There are delicious Mexican taquerias all over and there's also, Sam's Chowder House which overlooks the sea. Even though I prefer the hustle and bustle of a noisy city, I'd still consider living out here if the opportunity came up. And if you're lucky you might even get to spot a whale or sea lion. 

I did a podcast interview with the lovely Gabriel of The Dinner Special, check it out when you have a moment. He has interviewed a whole bunch of talented food bloggers and chefs and it was a fun and exciting time talking with him. I talk about food, photography and many more things that make me click!

half moon bay, CA | A Brown Table
half moon bay, CA | A Brown Table
half moon bay, CA | A Brown Table
half moon bay, CA | A Brown Table
half moon bay, CA | A Brown Table
half moon bay, CA | A Brown Table
half moon bay, CA | A Brown Table
half moon bay, CA | A Brown Table
half moon bay, CA | A Brown Table

My trip to India: Bombay Markets Part 2

Mumbai Victoria Terminus CST | A Brown Table

Today's post is all about photos from South Bombay, it's full of beautiful architecture and magnificent structures that remind you of an era gone by. Several of these buildings were built by the British before India gained independence. One of my favorite buildings in Bombay is the Queen Victoria Terminus (also known as Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus) that was built somewhere around 1887. It's tall with pointy towers and around 3 million people pass through this station every day! 

Mumbai Victoria Terminus CST | A Brown Table
Mumbai Victoria Terminus CST | A Brown Table
Mumbai Victoria Terminus CST | A Brown TableMumbai Flora Fountain |A Brown Table
Mumbai | A Brown TableMumbai | A Brown Table

If there's one place that your bargaining skills will be tested, it's at the markets. The prices at first might appear fixed but there's always room for negotiation which makes it one exciting trip. We visited Crawford market which is one of the older markets in the city that's definitely worth seeing. Within the building there are several different sections devoted to selling the usual fare such as vegetables, fruits and spices along with unexpected items such as exotic animals, handicrafts and even fabrics. There's little space to walk through the aisles between the stores which is all part and parcel of the experience. Ah, the energy and spirit of the haggling, I miss it. 

Mumbai Crawford Market | A Brown Table
Mumbai Markets | A Brown Table
Mumbai Markets | A Brown TableMumbai Markets | A Brown Table
Mumbai Markets | A Brown Table
Mumbai Markets | A Brown Table
Mumbai Markets | A Brown Table

My trip to India: Bombay/Mumbai - Part I

Mumbai - Gateway of India | A Brown Table

Guys, as promised here is the first installment of photographs from my trip to India. This was one fun trip because I got to visit Bombay/Mumbai (I'll keep calling it Bombay when I write about the city because that is what I grew up calling it and the name is dear to my heart) and Goa after a very, very long time and we had one huge family reunion that pretty much partied daily. My only regret, we didn't stay longer!

The period between October to December is probably the best time to visit Bombay and Goa on the west coast, the weather is warm and usually somewhere in the 80's and evenings are pleasantly cool as summers can be brutal. December also happens to be the peak season when tourists visit Goa (which I will talk about more in subsequent posts). Every season has its own charm, summers on the west coast might be hot but there are mangoes and cashews to enjoy, the monsoon season is equally fun with plenty of heavy rain and a lot of lush greenery and gushing waterfalls if you travel to some of the towns outside the big cities. Whatever season or time of the day it might be, Bombay is a city that does not sleep!

Mumbai - Gateway of India | A Brown TableMumbai - Rajasthani Thali | A Brown Table

The flight is long and our official flight time was around 22 hours so were pretty thankful that we had no major delays or trouble. We stayed at the Taj Lands End hotel which is located in the center of the city making it easy to access everything. They also provide a complimentary breakfast that comes with a lot of delicious Indian, continental, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc options. You won't hungry, they have something for everyone!

Traveling around the city is generally easy though road traffic can be rather heavy but with the new sea link, things are faster if you visit Bandra (where we stayed). I recommend trying out the local rickshaws (rickshaws are not allowed to travel to South Bombay) and taxis but make sure they start their meters when you hire them. The local railways are another great option to travel in the city and several of the railway stations were built by the British and have a lot of historical importance and gorgeous architecture. Food is generally cheap and delicious and shopping is even more fun if you have a knack for bargaining! To be safe, we did avoid eating raw food, ice and tap water at most restaurants but use your own personal judgement here. Do drink fresh coconut water, coconuts grow in this region like citrus trees in California. You will see them everywhere and they taste way better than the packaged stuff, also indulge in the meat of the tender coconut once you're done drinking (there's a lot of liquid in a fresh tender coconut). 

Mumbai - Bandra West| A Brown Table

When I lived in Bombay, I stayed in Bandra. It's a beautiful suburb with lots of fun things to do, to shop and great places to eat. You will also see several large bungalows and perhaps run into a Bollywood star if you're lucky. M also became a Bollywood expert, since he got to meet and speak with actress Rekha. On another day we sat next to Babita, Karishma and Kareena of the famous Kapoor acting clan at the Christmas vigil we attended with my family. 

Mumbai Busy Streets and Rickshaws | A Brown TableMumbai - Sugarcane juice vendor | A Brown Table

I wanted to share a few links that you might find useful if you visit Bombay. Hotels: Taj Lands End, excellent food and service besides a great location. I highly recommend trying out Bombay chaat (street food), one of our favorite spots is the Elco Pani Puri Center in Bandra (West). When you visit South Bombay, headover to Chetna. If you like to eat unlimited vegetarian food, then their thali (Hindi for "plate") that contain several dishes and breads from the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat is a worthy indulgence.

Mumbai Fruit Market | A Brown Table
Mumbai Fruit Market | A Brown TableMumbai Dhobi Talao | A Brown Table
Mumbai - Chaat | A Brown Table
Mumbai - Taj Hotel | A Brown TableMumbai - Taj Hotel | A Brown Table

Photos from top to bottom: Gateway of India (1-2); Vegetarian thali at Chetna restaurant (3); View from our hotel room at Taj Land's End (4); Busy Mumbai streets in Bandra (5), Fresh sugarcane juice stall (6); Pali Market vegetable and fruit stalls (7-8); Alley in Dhobi Talao (9); Bombay chaat at Elco Pani Puri Center in Bandra (10), Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba, South Bombay (11-12).