Global Food Traveler - foodie,

  • Bacon and Brine brings the flavor to Solvang

    UPDATE: ***As of August 2017, Bacon and Brine in Solvang, CA has closed*** So sad to see it go, but due to the fact, the owners are such amazing humans and the food was amazing, a as a true testament to my appreciation for their love and art for food, this article will stay showcased on my website.

    Moving can be a daunting task, but sometimes you just need to take a quick break out from the wonderments of life and take a break from the city life. Leaving LA is always nice, especially when you can jump in your car and go on a road trip for 2-3 hours to a place that makes you feel like you are in a far off land. That land is known to many that live in southern California as Solvang, CA, or little Denmark to many. 

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    Solvang is a small town less than three hours from Los Angeles, California, that has many years of Danish influence, from the building and architecture to the little shops selling goods that one would normally find in a shop in Denmark. Not only is Solvang, influenced by Danish culture, but it has a handful of places to eat serving the treats you may find in a far off European country across the pond. Danish, baked goods of all kinds including the infamously tasty and delicious Aebleskivers, that are served hot, with raspberry sauce.  They are so delicious that they are hard to surpass when passing by all the little boutiques and pastry shops in Solvang. One treat that I highly recommend you stop by if in Solvang, as the saying goes, when in Rome, grab some Aebleskivers. Not only are there a few select pastry shops in Solvang, to grab some treats, but Solvang is also known for their wineries, a hop skip and a jump away from the main streets in the local town.

    Santa Ynez valley is sprinkled and bustling with some of the most beautiful wineries, that serve up some deliciously tasty, full bodied wines. The greatest part about Solvang, is without traffic, you can go up for a day trip and return in the same day, although staying overnight is highly recommended, as there are so many great things to see and do, that a night away works wonders for a break from the big city.

    Besides great wineries and danish influence, there is one very special Restaurant that stands out and has for years now of visiting. The restaurant is a special one because it started in a very small space in one of the courtyards in town and the owners have since expanded to a larger space. If you haven't discovered it yet, Bacon and Brine is the place to be. 

    A few years ago Bacon and Brine duo Courtney Rae and Chef Pink started with a small sandwich making spot, then expanded into a full service sit down restaurant space seating about 62 guests in the center of town in Solvang. Visiting this weekend for a second or third time since opening the space last year, solidified this talented duo (along with all their wonderful staff). Bacon and Brine is certainly for that foodie and adventurer that is open to exploring all sorts of foods and flavors, including one of my favorites, freshly brewed kombucha (by Courtney Rae), to add to the meal.

    Their history doesn't just start in Solvang, as Chef Pinkgarnered attention on television networks when she debuted on 'Bar Rescue,' and the Food Networks, 'Cutthroat Kitchen.' Now not really watching any tv, the only thing I knew was the recommendation from another foodie fan and friend, a few years back. Once I tried the food I was certainly hooked and I have no qualms that you will be too, once you make the trip.

    Courtney Rae and Chef Pink make the perfect match, and they are just the kindest and more warm hearted people too, and you can see their true passion for their craft. Courtney is known for her wisdom in foodie fermentation and probiotics and Chef Pink exudes with her skills being a Chef in the kitchen, also with many years experience, in well known places world wide. 

    Hyperlocal, delicious and inspired is their motto and their food follows suit with that.  They focus on only using what is in season, if possible, and using local, organic vegetables, along with working with the fruits of the labor from their organic farm where they raise, grass-fed, pasture-raised animals. 

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    Bacon and Brine is an absolute delight and a place that you must visit if passing by Solvang. The food at Bacon and Brine is made fresh daily ( and sure to sell out), and truly inspire and delight even the kid at heart. The sweetest thing that Chef Pink did this past holiday weekend, (when cleary they were slammed with customers), was dellight a little girl and her parents with a home made brownie for the road, saying that her daughter helped bake them special. If that isn't a brownie deserving some bacon on top, then not sure what is.

    This is just part of the experience you will have when visiting Bacon and Brine in Solvang, not to mention you just might experience your very first 'mouthgasm', if you haven't before.

    Foodies all around, must make the trip to Solvang, California to experience great wine , great food and and their super, local, and fresh fan fare.

     

    Don't mess with these ladies either as they are certainly on a mission to bring farm fresh, local and organic food to Solvang, in the Santa Ynez valley.

    Bacon and Brine is open for lunch and dinner, and in June 2017 they will be opening for breakfast too.

     

  • Expo West 2017 is a wrap

    Expo west 2017 has finally come to an end. Expo West is where nearly 100,000 people from the natural products space come together to celebrate all things food, ingredients, products, supplements and more food.

     

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     Natural products Expo 2017 surely was a hit this year. It appears the most popular items were powdered peanut butter which is surely packing a punch, crackers and cake mixes as always. Not far behind in the neighboring space of the Anaheim convention center were scientists mixing up ingredients for protein formulations, and so many supplements you could create a rainbow of colors like a bag of skittles. It's quite a surprise we haven't turned to powdered almond butter, yet the hype is all for peanut butter. Foodies unite with salad dressing options, salads and packaged goods galore for that foodie fan favorite. So, many more great information to mention, but for now sleep is calling my name, especially with the mood + probiotic (with ashwaganda) sitting by my bed side. Ever need a relaxing nights sleep or help with your depression, then you certainly want ashwaganda in your life. Known for it's mind and body ayurvedic properties, it could have you sleeping in a wink.

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    I was so happy to find some companies that are doing good by giving back or being part of the B corporation movement and doing good by you, as the consumer. 

    A few photos from my four days at expo are enclosed and a follow up article will commence with details of my new favorite brands. For now I need to catch up on four days of sleep, but until then happy reading.

  • Healthy fats, oils and the snacks you should be eating

    Do you hear the word fat and cringe at the idea of it? Do you think that low fat is something that is healthy for you? If you are thinking any of the above then it is very wise that you read this article. 

    Many of you all know that fat is a word that many are not fans of. Nobody wants to be called fat or eat fats, or do they? Fat is one of those things that is overated yet also underrated and many are confused about. 

    Do you remember the days of all snacks in the snack aisle being fat free, or low fat. The low fat and fat free phenomenon are a thing of the past and America and the rest of the generations need to get with the times.

    Believe it or not fat is something that is good for you. The only issue with fats is some people don't break down fats as well as others, so consuming the right fats is key to healthy nutrition.

    There are various types of fats and understanding each one is essential to understanding the health behind fats for your nutritional intake.

    Polysaturated fats are fats that the body does not make on its own. Therefore, you must get polyunsaturated fats from foods and these are essential fats that the body needs. Eating these fats reduces the harmful LDL cholesterol and improves the overall cholesterol profile. Fats not only add to our bodies nutrients, but they do things like keep our skin soft, add fat soluble vitamins to the body and are a great source of energizing fuel.

    One key piece is that there are bad fats and people need to know the different between good versus bad fats. There certainly are fats that can clog the arteries, known as trans-fats.

    Trans-fats are the fats that need to be extremely limited but the fats that we should be consuming are the healthy, saturated dietary fats.

    Saturated fats are the fats that are found in butter, cheese, whole raw organic milk and fatty meats. A great company that I highly recommend to get grass fed and finished beef and chicken and so many other varietals of meats is Buy Ranch Direct. They are local to the Southern California area and can be found at local farmers markets, along with their offering to ship online. I have been buying their meats locally for over a year and have never been disappointed. I also can appreciate supporting a local family business that supports other co-ops of farmers within the area. 

    Another key fact about fats is staying clear of various oils that seem to be found in so many American snacks these days, along with other countries are following suit, as the cheaper oils are making it easier to add to foods. As a result these oils, like soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola are manipulated and heat treated and can provide long term detrimental health issues. How so you ask? These hydrogenated, trans fats, typically have been artificially manipulated and can interfere with insulin receptors in the human body. As a result the manipulation of the chemical compounds of these oils, can be linked to heart disease, cancer and diabetes, so try to stay clear of any foods containing these seed oils. 

    Another important fact is you should never buy any oils that are in plastic containers. If you think you are doing your body justice by buying the most economical product at your local Costco, you have got it all wrong. Spend the extra money and invest in the dark, opaque, glass bottle from your local health food store. If you are concerned with price and on a budget, another option is your local Trader Joes market which has a variety of great options of healthy oils that are sold in dark glass bottles.

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    Photo pictured: Fat bombs with coconut oil, cinnamon and cashew butter

    Some recommendations of healthy foods for foods that you can consume on a daily basis include, organic grass fed butters, avocados, organic and non genetically modified (non-gmo) coconut oils for great fatty acid content, raw nuts butter, raw cacao butters, flaxseeds and flaxseed oils and lastly organic eggs from your local farmer or farmers market if available.

  • Probiotics and fermented foods

    If you saw my instagrampost you would know that this is the place to read about all things food, travel and nutrition. 

    One type of food that we are starting to see a lot more of is fermented foods. Just last week at the local farmers market, there was a new booth that is selling fermented sauerkraut and all the things to go with it. 

    Sauerkraut by dictionary definition is as follows; ,"fer·men·ta·tion

    1. the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.
      • the process of fermentation involved in the making of beer, wine, and liquor, in which sugars are converted to ethyl alcohol.
      • archaic
        agitation; excitement.                                                                                                                                                    
      • Sauerkraut and fermentation has been around for centuries, but we now in this age and society are realizing that our guts are in disarray and gut dysbiosis is more common now than ever.                                                                                                         So you might be asking yourself, what really are probiotics and how can they help me? Probiotics are good bacteria that live on and around us. Our gut also known as the stomach has millions of different species of bacteria. Some good and at times bad bacteria make up our gut. What we don't realize is that every thing we put into our mouths is affecting our bacteria in our guts. If you have ever been on an 'antibiotic,' then you should know anti means against and pro means for. Antibiotics are against life and probiotics are for life. 

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    Eating live probiotic rich foods certainly helps with creating a stronger gut and digestive system. Poor diet, stress, a weakened immune system, medication and illness can all play a role in the microbiome and regulation of the gut.

    Many people love the idea of kombucha as it is an ever popular drink found in so many health food stores and juice shops, however not all kombucha is great for everyone. If you suffer from an imbalance of yeast in your system, kombucha and water kefir are symbiotic cultures of yeast, also known as SCOBY's, and can create more yeast in the gut, known as candida. Scoby's are what is used to make kombucha, essentially one big live bacteria and then you have to wait until it ferments, but the thing about kombucha is that it does have sugar as one of the main ingredients. So, if you find out you have gut dysbiosis or candida, then it is a good warning to stay clear of all sugar, if possible. Don't forget that fruits still have sugar in them, but in a different form, known as fructose, so everything in moderation is key.

    Candida albicans is the most common yeast found in the vagina, intestinal tract and mouth. Common symptoms include yeast on the tongue, sudden development of food sensitivities, aches and pains, gut problems, fatigue, and skin problems like rashes and itching.

    A diet high in sugar and refined carbs can contribute to the yeast growth, so it is best to avoid sugars and simple carbohydrates, like breads, pasta, chips and any foods that have high amounts of sugar. This is where drinks like kombucha can mess with the growth of yeast in the body, along with sugars. 

    To control candida it is best to have a diet high in meats (preferably grass fed meats) and also fish which is rich in omega fatty acids. One of my favorite places to get meat is the farmers market and I buy from Buy Ranch Direct farms. They are a family run operation, and sell predominantly at farmers markets around southern California along with online. Shipping is the part that can be the hardest part, but also best to check your local farmer market or food cooperative to see if you can find grass fed meats.

    Another recommendation is to get some good probiotics for the gut and to do this you can use many fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir, which is from dairy but once fermented, a lot easier to digest. 

    Another option is to ferment your own foods and start learning how to do so, which I plan to start learning how to make my own sauerkraut. In the meantime I have posted a link to one of the brands I enjoy and is found nationwide in many different flavors.