Category Archives: LOCAL LOVE

Spring Cleanse and Thirst Juice Co.

June 3, 2015

thirst juice co, green juice

A couple weeks ago I had the chance to go check out Thirst Juice Co. a juice shop located right in Downtown Crossing in Boston. You all know how much I love green juices, and since moving from San Diego to Boston, I was starting to lose hope on what the green living scene here was.

I must say, the transition between California and Massachusetts has been tough. I moved in the dead of winter, and pretty much hibernated for three months. I didn’t venture out, I stayed indoors, ate terribly, didn’t move my body and treated myself so poorly. I remember when I lived in Philly I would get SAD, but never to this extent. The shock of the move really affected my body and as soon as the large piles of snow melted, the rain had dissipated and the sun decided to peak through – I was out.

I moved to a lovely neighborhood in Boston called Jamaica Plain, where I’m minutes walk to a yoga studio, plenty of cafes to write in, and an organic grocery store that has kombucha on tap. No joke.

I found out about Thirst Juice Co. from a friend of mine and knew I wanted to learn more about it. They have amazing juices like the BuddahBeet, Field of Greens and Kale-idoscope. Not only do they have great names, but these made to order juices are super fresh and ultra good for you.

Most juices contain several POUNDS of fruits and vegetables, so even if the rest of your day is crap, you at least know you got an abundance of greens in your system doing their magic.

acai bowl

What I love most about Thirst (aside from their friendly and knowledgable staff, beautiful and understated decor) is their Açaí bowls. If you have no idea what that is – I feel you. Let me explain:

Açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) is a berry native to Brazil. It’s rich in antioxidants, heart-healthy fats and fiber. Açaí berries grow in clusters on tall palm trees native to the Amazon rainforest, and ancient Amazonian tribes would use these berries both medicinally and as food. Açaí berries have twice as many antioxidants as blueberries and also contain a broad range of vitamins and minerals and a naturally low sugar content.

Açaí bowls were all the rage in Encinitas (go figure) but I never actually ordered an Açaí bowl while living there. At Thirst, I ordered the Coconut Açaí bowl and let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS. Go there now, tell them I sent you, and order that thing. It’s a game changer.

Cold Pressed Juice

Co-owners Chris and Heather started Thirst Juice Co. after careers working as corporate lawyers, feeling burnt out and wanting to try something new. While there may be a juice bar at every corner in Manhattan, Boston has been slow in keeping up with the trend, with only a handful of juice bars in the city. Heather and Chris are both multiple-time marathon runners (18 between them!) and want to spread the message on good clean eating.

I spoke to Heather about the fad of juice cleanses, mostly because I really want to try a juice cleanse myself. However, most people don’t realize that juice cleansing is more of a fast. And fasting should only be done if there is something seriously wrong with your system that you need a complete re-start. Not something you need to do once a month.

wheatgrass shot

I also had the chance to take a wheatgrass shot (and chase it with an orange) which was delicious. Wheatgrass is rich in chlorophyll which is super detoxifying and rids your body of free radicals. It’s a great source of natural energy, and one ounce of wheatgrass has the some of the same micronutrients as five POUNDS of spinach. Wheatgrass is best taken in the morning on an empty stomach, but I think if you’ve never tried wheatgrass, give it a go anytime.

There you have it folks, I’ll be sharing one of Thirst’s Green Smoothie recipes later this week. If you’re in Boston, go check out Thirst Juice Co. and tell them Local Belle sent you! Have a beautiful day people!

Autumn Persimmon Smoothie + A Beaming Giveaway!

December 5, 2014

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I’ve never been a huge fan of medicine. As a kid I would run out of the house just at the sight of the bright pink syrupy liquid that was going to rid me of my cold. I’ve carried this mentality into adulthood, often preferring drinking orange juice when I needed more Vitamin C, drinking ginger-honey tea when I feel cold coming, or just eating straight ginger in dire situations.

The thing about food is, well, it’s incredibly healing. Ask anyone who practices Eastern medicine – fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and herbs all have amazing healing properties.

When I first came across Beaming, the huge sign in the shop that read “Let food by thy medicine” is what really caught my eye. I love that with a little bit of planning and care we can take care of ourselves.

In celebration of the fall equinox, a drop in temperature and the holiday season, I teamed up with Beaming to showcase their exclusive fall menu and let you all get in on some of the Beaming love.

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Kitchen Visit: Baruch Rock Homebrewer

February 5, 2014

Remember that time I spent New Years Eve rocking out in the middle of nowhere Connecticut at a Jewish food conference? Oh yeah., that happened. Since 2010, I’ve been attending the annual Hazon Food Conference, and this year was no different than the rest- simply incredible. One of the many sessions I was able to attend was about making beer at home. And while I’m still working up the courage to make my home-brew dreams a reality, for now I thought I would share this interview with Baruch Rock, who taught a session on home-brewing during the conference.

Baruch Rock, Hazon Food Conference, Homebrewing, Beer Making Interview

How did you get into brewing beer?

When I was sixteen, I was a member of 6 person team who spent five weeks with the student conservation association in Clearwater National Forest, Idaho. At the end of our stay, as we were preparing to leave the wilderness, I recall our team leader talking to a ranger about some home-brews that he had left for the ranger in the fridge at the station. Curious, I inquired as to what that meant, and that’s how I learned about the freedom to create tasty beverages in one’s home was a possibility. Alcohol had nothing to do with it, the freedom of my wilderness experience was palpable and this seemed like another way to express the identity I was forging for myself at that time in my life.    

What’s the best beer you ever tasted?

For me, taste is more than just what the sensory areas of my tongue and the interpretive centers in my brain tell. Taste derives from the wholeness of any beer, where were the ingredients sourced? Are they local? Are they organic? For me, taste is also about associations, memories, experiences, surrounding the beer experience. I say this humbly, but the best beer I ever tasted was an all-organic porter that a friend and I brewed up in his kitchen in Alfred, New York when I was a Sophomore in college. It was delicious, refreshing, everything I knew home-brewing could be. 

What are some tips you would give to other home brewers?

As Charlie Pappazan teaches in his home-brewing guide: “Relax, don’t worry- have a home-brew.” This advice is essential, have fun while you are brewing and brew with friends. I would also say, be clean, be clean, be clean- make sure your brewing materials are properly sanitized, it is time consuming, but worth it! 

Top beer destinations?

My house on Shabbat!!! Blue Mountain Brewery in Virginia, Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California and Brooklyn Brewery in New York. 
~
Thank you Baruch for sharing your wisdom with us and letting us get a glimpse into the life of a home-brewer. Baruch’s message regarding taste is so beautiful, and a great reminder to all of us when indulging in the small pleasures of life! Enjoy, y’all!

Local Love: Luecadia Succulents

November 13, 2013

succulents

Local, Lofty, Leucadia. Lovely. I happened upon the gem of Leucadia Succulents from non other than a Groupon deal. $30 worth of succulents for $15. Sold. What I found was a magical place: succulents of all shapes and sizes, colors and personalities. I can’t say much about this, except that I went wild in this place. I mean, who wouldn’t?

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Look out for a DIY Sunday post on how to make your very own terrarium soon using non other than these little cuties. If you’re in Encinitas/San Diego definitely check out this local plant store! Wherever you may be, find the gems that make your city unique and support local businesses! Until next time, peace!

 

Local Love: Lofty Coffee Co.

October 30, 2013

LOCAL

In my broad effort to explore my new home, I decided a new series entitled Local Love would be not only fun but help me get out of the house and into the my new community. My first (lucky) stop was at Lofty Coffee Co. – a coffee shop a mere five minutes from my house.

www.localbelle.com/local-love

 

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I stumbled upon Lofty thanks to the lovely folks at Yelp, and I can honestly say their coffee is damn good. Up there with Blue Bottle in SF- and I’m a picky coffee drinker. What I love most about Lofty is there commitment to sustainability and quality goods and services. All of their coffee is fair trade and their pastries are all organic as well. They have a decent selection of gluten-free pastries, and drip coffee as well as espresso drinks.

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Lofty’s Slow Bar offers pour over, vacuum siphon or a slow brewed kyoto iced coffee. They offer a rotating selections of micro-batch roasted coffees, and if you want to gaze at this awesome coffee contraption- no one will stop you.

Lofty Coffee Co

Lofty reminds me of home. A cafe I can come to for quality coffee, a nice atmosphere and time to write, read or ponder. I’m a bit of a coffee shop junkie, but thankfully I don’t have to go very far to get my fix.

If you live in Encinitas, and haven’t been here yet- do go! The atmosphere is quite lovely. I’ll be posting on a weekly basis my favorite local spots- and if you have any suggestions please let me know! Happy Hump day y’all!

Happy 2nd Birthday Local Belle!

August 1, 2013

Hooray! Local Belle is Two!

Holy cow y’all! Local Belle is officially two years old today! I feel a little guilty for not making more of a build up to this, but today I just wanted to take some time to reflect on the last two years and what an amazing time I’ve had curating this blog, learning so much and growing as a blogger and concerned eater!

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Taking a look at my very first post on the blog, I’m almost brought to tears- wow who knew this blogging thing could get so emotional?! What I intended Local Belle to be, a place for those to come and learn more about food- where it comes from, why it’s important, etc. has really come true.

“Whatever food means to you, it is important. Food is what sustains our bodies, what our dinner conversations are about, our hunger pains, and has recently become very political. It is the leftovers in your fridge, the compost in your backyard, your grandmother’s secret recipe, your guilty pleasure or your celebration. It can also be the inequality in your neighborhood, the cause of your health problems, or the famine in your country” -me, circa 2011

strawberry bursts

Through Good Times, Through Bad Times

…I’ll be on your side forever more! That’s what blogs are for! Ok enough singing in my head. Seriously though, writing Local Belle has been such a pleasure. Sure there were times when I wanted to murder this blog- times when the FTP just stopped working, when I couldn’t think of a single thing to write (the pressure!), slowly watching my twitter following grow- and I mean *slowly*

But then there were the amazing moments- like getting an email from a man who wasn’t sure about visiting this farm in Nepal, but read my blog, ended up going and made amazing connections for the group of Nepali farmers he was working with. Or the countless times I meet people who are excited to be featured on the blog, or when brands finally started talking to me.

Thank YOU!

It would be remiss of me to not give a huge shout out to all my readers- thank you for joining me in this journey, for pushing me to think harder and dig deeper into really complex issues surrounding food, and for all your love and support. Without you there wouldn’t be a blog, and I’m so thankful to have such an amazing community of readers to share this with.

Happy Birthday Local Belle, you made it to two!

 

Kitchen Visit: Cohen’s Deli – Jerusalem, Israel

April 17, 2013

Last week (before leaving Israel- more on that later) I had the pleasure of sitting down with Shimon Cohen, owner of Cohen’s Deli– a small cheese shop in the German Colony/Katamon/San Simon neighborhood in Jerusalem (I never really understand where each neighborhood ends, but FYI it’s on Hizkiyahu HaMelech St.)

I met Shimon as I would pass by his shop every single day on my to and from work. I would stop in for coffee, try new cheeses and constantly bother him for new recommendations for cheese.

In an adorable deli that reminds you of a Parisian café in a residential area of Jerusalem, where the owner knows most of his clients by name and supports Israeli products: I thought it would be a perfect fit to feature Cohen’s Deli on Local Belle.

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Tell us a bit about yourself:

I was born in Jerusalem, actually here above the store. I lived here above the store. It was my grandfather’s store- since maybe 1958, maybe earlier. He bought this place and it was a grocery store. He also sold cheese, bread and wine.

So my background- I was here in Jerusalem until I finished my army (a long time ago), then lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years, traveled all around the world for something like 10 years. And then three years ago I came back to Israel, I was living on a kibbutz studying Jewish philosophy, and then six months ago we decided to open the store and do what my grandfather did. Me and my brother run this deli together.

shimon- Cohen Deli

Why cheese?

Actually, my father had two restaurants here in Jerusalem. Since we were children, he would always bring us back cheeses from his trips to France and Italy. Since I was little I’ve had a love for cheese. We thought that in Israel it’s not so popular (these types of artisan cheeses)- so we wanted to open a cheese, bread, and wine shop- that was the concept. And here we are today (laughs).

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olives

wine bottles

What makes this deli unique?

What I sell, you can’t find in the supermarket. All of the products are boutique- you can’t find any of these wines in any big market. The bread also- it comes from Dekel bakery and I’m the only one who sells this bread. There are some other places who sell it in shuk Machane Yehuda or in restaurants. Also the Israeli cheeses, you can only find them here. The guy who makes the cheese is a well-known cheese monger, his name is Shai Selzer. He’s never sold to anyone else- he makes his cheese in the Sataf- the Jerusalem mountains.

The other cheese maker, the farm is called Shvil Izim, he has a little restaurant where he sells his cheese and then only here.

I think they like this place and the concept. It looks a little French or Italian, and you cannot find a lot of places like this, especially in Jerusalem. It’s very expensive cheese, so they were looking for a place with a select clientele.

I have a lot of cheese that I import from France and Italy. But aside from the cheese, all of the products are from Israel and are boutique. We support Israel- we wanted to sell Israeli products. There are good things from Israel and if you want to buy them you have to drive up north and I thought it would be nice to help them sell within Jerusalem.

sundried tomatoes

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Whats the best cheese here?

We have a French brie with truffles, its very hard to find even in France and its very expensive. About 800 shekels (about $250) for a kilo- kind of like gold :)

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What would you eat it with?

Oof- with nothing! (laughs) – Just good red wine, and something a little more sweet like a Shiraz.

Are you vegetables organic?

In the beginning all of our vegetables were organic, but now they are all “baladi” which loosely translates as being grown in the forest- it grows naturally. Its not organic- its something different. I go every morning to get the vegetables, and pick the best every morning in the shuk.

Wine and Cheese Pairings brought to you by Cohen’s Deli:

Hard goat cheese: White wine- Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc

Soft Cheese like Brie and Blue Cheese- with red wine like cabarnet

Strong Cheese like moncheggo: pair with a sweeter wine like Shiraz

In between cheese, not soft or hard like Gouda: dry white wine

And of course all the cheeses are fantastic with cheese!

5 things you can’t live without:

Cheese, Wine… It’s a hard question! There’s a lot of things but only five? Ok lets see.. A woman (laughs).. books– I really love books. Last one? I don’t know, I think there is only four.

shimon outside

 

 

Herbal Healing: A Conversation with Jerusalem’s Infamous Etrog Man

February 16, 2013

If you’ve ever traveled or plan to travel to Jerusalem, chances are you’ll be visiting the shukMachane Yehuda. It’s an open air market, with rows and rows of produce stands, in addition to restaurants, shops and some hidden gems.

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Today I get to share with you my favorite person in the whole shuk- Uzi Eli. He’s an older Yemenite gentleman, who is known around Jerusalem simply as: “The Etrog Man.”

Etrogs (or citrus medica) are a fruit that are typically used for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. They look like a larger, more wrinkly lemon and aside for their religious use, I’ve never even thought twice about them as they’re totally inedible.

But with every unusual suspect comes a great story.

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Uzi Eli, as he’s been known to be called, has been working as a herbal medicine man for 18 years. He is a 3rd generation herbal healer using herbs, plants, and flowers and making medicines for seasonal allergies,  sinus infections, wounds, and general spiritual ailments.

His father learned various healing methods, and his mother learned how to use plants for medicine. He was immediately hooked.

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apples and celery

“I came to the shuk because I wanted access to the fresh fruits, vegetables and spiced. Instead of having a big warehouse, I prefer to go around the shuk, see what is in season and make my drinks and medicine from what is available here.” –It doesn’t get more local than this.

etrogs hanging

“The etrog can be used for heart conditions, pregnancy, and it is good for women– so that they have beautiful children who have curly blonde hair. Also its an aphrodisiac because it has a pleasant smell.”

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How do you use the different parts of the Etrog?

“The peel is used for the face, the middle is used for a drink, and the seeds are pressed and made into a creme.

“All of our medicines are good for a period but after 90 days you should stop because the body is not being helped by this. But the best is to just eat fruits and vegetables from nature.

oranges

Is that what you do?

That’s what i live!

Do you eat meat?

Once a week.

Do you take chemical medicine?

No. I only take cayenne pepper (extract). A drop in a cup of water. Every day.

What do u think about people who are taking many chemical medicines?

It’s more a problem of the soul. Except of course if your born with a disease. But most of the people taking  a lot of medicine are addicted. It’s a psychological problem- if they thought to be healthy and ate fruits and vegetables they would be healthier.

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Doctors are drug dealers. Legal drug dealers (laughing)

You have to teach the body that everything is in nature is good for you. The body knows what is good for it. But when chemicals are inserted into the body, the body has to begin to fight them.

But overall its a mental problem- people don’t know what is good for them.

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I’ve always avoided chemical medicine since I was a child. I would run away and hide if I had to take medicine- seriously. Now that I make my own health decisions I rarely choose chemical medicines. Instead I try to stay active by doing yoga, practice mindful meditation, and of course use my food as a medicine. 

If you have questions about Uzi Eli’s practices or want to share some of your own practices for herbal or holistic health- please share in the comments below! I’d love to hear what people are using for their personal health choices!

 

At Home Cafe – Jerusalem’s Pop-Up Cafe

October 28, 2012

In the last 3 days I’ve heard from numerous people about a new pop-up cafe in my hood of Nachlaot. It seemed like every new person I met was telling me about this amazing cafe that opens twice a week, run outside of someone’s house a few streets from where I live.

So on this gorgeous Sunday morning I headed over to 29 Mitzpe and met up with Emunah, who runs the At Home Cafe.

This adorable cafe is run outside of Emunah’s home in Nachlaot, twice a week. But as she says, if the people demand it, she will be there!  I got to sit down with Emunah and talk a bit about why she started the cafe, and what type of goods shes bringing into the neighborhood.

Emunah told me of the frustration of not being able to find good quality coffee in Jerusalem. “It’s sort of a misnomer,” said the Wisconsin native, “people think Israel has a great coffee culture because Israelis are always sitting in cafes. But people are actually just drinking Nescafe and poorly pulled shots of espresso.” Not to insult anyone, she says, but Emunah wanted to bring really good quality coffee to Jerusalem. As an experienced barista for almost 10 years, she schooled me on what makes a good cup of coffee.

Emunah uses a local roaster from Modi’in, called Aura Coffee. This week’s coffee is a single origin coming from a fair-trade El Salvadorian coffee farm, but the coffee along with the baked goods will change weekly. At Home Cafe uses a cold press brewing method for their coffee, which has a lower acidic flavor than the conventional brewing method. The coffee is steeped overnight using a Toddy resulting in a smooth syrupy concentrate of coffee. As one customer said, “it tastes like the smell of coffee.”

Emunah tries to keep all her products organic, and also includes gluten-free and vegan baked goods. I tried the gingercake, which was incredibly moist and with a really strong flavor of ginger and molasses. I also took home a few apple cider donut holes, which inevitably reminded me of fall in New England. She also brews homemade chai.

If you’re interested in finally getting some good quality coffee, or if you’re in need of a pastry fix, or if you just want to meet Emunah, who is fabulous by the way, and want to support a local small business- definitely stop by At Home Cafe. Currently its open on Sunday and Wednesday mornings, but it may change depending on how many people come along. Be sure to check out the Facebook page for current updates.

 

 

 

Tunday Kebab: The Ultimate Challenge

March 31, 2012

No, this isn’t global guts. I’m not going for a piece of the Aggro Crag.

It’s much more than that.

Just kidding, but not.

You see, it was just a few weeks ago that I ventured into unchartered territory. Territories formerly known as meat. Yes, meat. Specifically Tunday Kebabs.

You may be wondering: so what, local belle? Kebabs are delicious! They are the staple food in Lucknow! (Wow! You know so much bellpeppers!Ok imaginary conversation stops…… now.)

Well, you see, I’ve been adhering to a vegetarian lifestyle for the past year and a half, and kebabs simply aren’t in those parameters.

But there’s no getting around it, if you want local food in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, then Tunday Kebabs is it. And so I did what any local bellpepper would do: I Anthony Bourdained that shit.

So, lets get into the fun nitty gritty historical details of this infamous meaty snack.

A toothless noble, and a one-armed chef …

Walk into a bar.

No, no. That’s not where I was headed with that one.

Instead, this almost fairytale-esque story is as old as time (or, actually just 107 years old). Like many other Indian delicacies, this one has a deep history with quite a story. Hold on to your hats- it’s about to get a bit ridiculous.

Once upon a time (1905) in a far-away land (Lucknow, India) there lived a man who went by the name of Nawab of Awadh. This man loved meat, specifically his mutton delicacies. But as time went on, as time tends to do, he began to lose all of his teeth. (oh no!) But like any other foodie, he didn’t let a small ting like being toothless; get in the way of a good meal.

Instead, he ordered his cook to invent a meat so soft that it could melt in his mouth. Like a meat version of m&ms. (Some say there was a royal contest, others don’t… the details get fuzzy here.)

And so it was that Haji Murad Ali, a one-armed chef made for the Newab the softest, most succulent kebabs that could melt in your mouth. Because this chef only had one arm, his street name was Tunde (literally meaning one-armed, not very original in my opinion, but whatevs).

There you have it folks, the birth of Tunday Kebabs- quite a weird story, eh?

Let’s Eat!

So, how do you make a meaty kebab so soft that it melts in your mouth?

I have no idea.

The recipe is a zealously guarded family secret and is said to consist of over 160 spices. I’ve heard that the kebabs also have pineapple in them, but that could be a mere mortal rumor.

SO.

To eat meat, or not to eat meat? That was my question. In the end I did taste this “world-famous” kebab, but not without much hesitation and some coaxing from the other diners. I went back and forth with myself, what was right? What was ethical? If I make this exception, where would it lead me in the future?

Did I have any idea where this meat came from? No. Did I know if the animal lived a good life, free to roam around and eat grass? No. Did I care? Absolutely. But in the end the experimentation with food, with finding out about local food and eating as the locals do, won.

I know that on my globe-trotting adventures I will have to sacrifice a vegetarian (and kosher) diet to sample local dishes, and I’m okay with that. I know that when I am in my own kitchen, or at least my own country, I can keep a vegetarian lifestyle without any hesitation.

As for now, I hope you readers don’t judge me on it- I was even nervous about admitting this dilemma on the blog. But here you will always find truth. Raw, truth. So take it or leave it. (Please take it!)

All in all, I’m glad I tried the local Lucknow dish, as the city was my home for a good long month. Were the kebabs even that good? Meh, it was alright. Honestly meat that melts in your mouth like a half-melted chocolate isn’t really my thing, but it may be yours. If you do stop by Lucknow, check out the beautiful Islamic architecture, walk down Hazrat Ganj and definitely check out this 100 year old local delicacy.

Lemon, out.