Thursday, May 26

Corner Bakery Cafe + Giveaway - San Jose


Corner Bakery Cafe began in downtown Chicago as a bakery on a corner street. It served freshly baked goods to Maggiano's Little Italy at the time. Now the budding cafe has become a nationwide franchise. On opening day in San Jose, the cafe gave free coffee for a year to the first 100 people. Last week, they invited me for a complimentary tasting of their menu. 

($7.99) Trio salad - There are 9 salads to choose from in the trio option. If you didn't want to choose only one, you can make a combo platter like this with your choice of 3 salads. It can be quite filling.

($7.99) Asian wonton salad (cafe size = small) - This was a very enjoyable salad with a sesame vinaigrette. The chicken and edamame helped fill me up. The cafe size is not that small and can be an entree.

($8.49) Chicken Pesto Sandwich - The grilled panini marks were just the way I liked it. Makes the bread crunchy. I wish there was a bit more inside the sandwich but the chicken, sun dried tomatoes, cheese, and herbs were a nice combo. The pesto mayo is subtle.

($6.99) Mac and Three Cheeses - So far this is the most popular item at Corner Bakery, and for good reason. The cheese sauce is nice and rich and as the slice of bread sits in the bowl, it soaks up the cheese. I would definitely order this again.

Let's not forget that Corner Bakery Cafe is still a cafe specializing in freshly baked bread and pastries and coffee, of course. You can either get a coffee from their coffee stand or have the baristas make a drink from the menu.

Do not pass on dessert here. When a place specializes in baked goods, definitely try it. I did not at all regret eating these soft and chewy cookies. Toffee on the left and snickerdoodle on the right. It was a tough choice between all the cakes and brownies they had too.

Corner Bakery would like you to try their newest location in the Westfield plaza in Saratoga, where there is a Nordstrom Rack and Target. They are sponsoring a giveaway of vouchers worth $20. THere will be one winner. You can use all 4 vouchers at the same time, however you will not be given the balance if there is one. It's best to use the full amount at once. 

To enter, fill in this Rafflecopter widget. Contest ends 6/2/16.

Sunday, May 22

Ikea Redesigns Restaurant + Giveaway - East Palo Alto

Photo by Ikea
Ikea is remodeling all U.S. Store restaurants including the location in East Palo Alto. The restaurant’s new configuration will reflect three different dining zones: one for quick dining, one suited to families, and another focused more on creating a more casual, socializing environment

Photo by Ikea
 I had a chance to visit the new restaurant and it is so much more inviting than before. Rather than looking like a cafeteria, there are areas decorated like a dining room which make a trip to Ikea more of a family affair. All the old familiar favorites like Swedish meatballs are still on the menu with the addition of a veggie meatball option.

To celebrate this new remodel, Ikea is sponsoring a gift card giveaway. One winner will win a $200 gift card to Ikea. It can be used at any location. Enter using the widget below. The contest will end on June 6. Good luck!

Friday, May 20

CorePower Yoga (Golden Triangle) - San Jose

There's a new CorePower Yoga studio coming to San Jose. Grand opening is tentatively scheduled for June 3. Press Release below.

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(Denver, CO) May 5, 2016 – America’s leading yoga brand CorePower Yoga is pleased to announce a new studio opening in North San Jose, located at 55 River Oaks Place, Suite #10. CorePower Yoga roots an intensely physical workout in the mindfulness of yoga, helping students to change their bodies as well as their lives. Studio manager Jane Shim will officially open doors to the brand’s third location next month. “We are thrilled to expand our presence in San Jose,” said Tess Roering, chief marketing officer at CorePower Yoga. “The San Jose community has really embraced our classes, and with a third studio we’ll be able to share the physical and mental benefits of this practice with more people.” Each CorePower Yoga class is designed to work every muscle and every emotion, creating a unique all-inclusive fitness experience. Offerings range from restorative classes to physically demanding, muscle-sculpting classes. In addition to the daily class schedule, CorePower Yoga offers a renowned Yoga Teacher Training program, along with special programs including boot camps, retreats and wellness cleanses. Designed with green building practices in mind, using recycled products and sustainable materials, the new San Jose studio will mirror all others by employing the latest technology to efficiently heat the practice rooms. Class attendees will have access to spa-like amenities including spacious changing rooms with showers and private lockers, and a full retail boutique showcasing a stylish selection of men’s and women’s activewear and accessories. San Jose community members are encouraged to take advantage of the studio’s limited-time founding rate on Black Tag Memberships. People who sign up prior to the studio opening will receive 25% off unlimited yoga. Black Tag Membership perks include unlimited classes and 20% off programs and teacher trainings. Black Tag Memberships following the grand opening will start at $155 per month. For more information, or to find out how to secure the founding rate, please visit http://corepoweryoga.com. 

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About CorePower Yoga: CorePower Yoga strives to show the world the incredible, life-changing things that happen when an intensely physical workout is rooted in the mindfulness of yoga. Through a variety of yoga classes, convenient times and more than 150 studio locations, CorePower Yoga provides a highly intense and incredibly mindful form of fitness. CorePower Yoga classes are taught by passionate and encouraging certified yoga instructors who take a typical yoga practice and crank it up to 11. In addition to yoga classes, CorePower Yoga offers transformative Yoga Teacher Training programs to empower students to advance their individual practice or become instructors. The beautiful, spa-like studios are built with green practices in mind and operate to meet the highest standards of service and quality. For more information, visit corepoweryoga.com.

Tuesday, May 17

Hula Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs + Giveaway - Santa Clara

Puka Dog is a popular hot dog eatery with multiple locations in Hawaii and has been featured on Travel Channel and Bon Appetit magazine. It's a hot dog in a closed bun with various island flavored sauces. They spun off a new franchise called Hula Dog with its first location in Santa Clara across the SCU campus. We had an introduction to island flavors in our first trip to Maui earlier this year and we eager to try the Hula Dogs after receiving an invitation for a complimentary meal.

The process is to choose your own bread for the bun. Options are taro, white, or wheat.
Choose your own sausage. Options are All beef, polish, or veggie.
Choose sauce, relish, and mustard flavors.
These relish jars are made by Hula Dog in Hawaii.

The bun is put on these spike toasters to warm up from the inside. It's not a split bun.

We tried half versions, or the Keiki ($3.25) of four different flavors. A full Hula Dog is $6.75
Left: White bread, Polish sausage, Chili pepper roasted garlic lemon sauce, Maui onion relish, Lilikoi mustard
Right: Wheat bread, All-beef sausage, Jalapeno roasted garlic lemon sauce, Maui onion relish, Lilikoi mustard
Fresh squeezed lemonade with strawberry syrup

In this Hula Dog, I had:
Wheat bread
Veggie sausage
Habanero roasted garlic lemon sauce
Maui onion relish
Lilikoi mustard

This one had:
Bacon taro bread
All beef sausage
Original roasted garlic lemon sauce
Coconut Relish
Lilikoi mustard

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
Hula Dog is a very unique take on hot dogs. There are so many flavors to choose from. At first it can be overwhelming but there are suggested combinations to choose from. I recommend the bacon taro bun (it has bacon pieces in it!). It's not very sweet as I thought it would be and hardly tastes like taro and it is softer. The Maui Onion relish is the best one. Any of the flavored sauces are good and they are not too spicy. I liked the All-beef sausage the best but the Polish sausage was good too. If you're afraid of making the wrong choice, you can ask for a sample of the sauces. Or you can buy the Keiki sized dogs and try different flavor combinations.

Hula Dog is sponsoring a $25 gift card raffle. You just need to follow their Instagram account @HulaDogSCU . Please fill in the widget below. Contest ends on 5/24. Good luck!

Thursday, May 12

Portland 2016 Recap Part 2 - All the vlogs

The last post would be too long if I put in all the video blogs so here's a recap of Portland in video form. Enjoy!


Portland 2016 Recap

A few weekends ago, we took a quick trip to Portland. Virgin America had a great flight deal. We paid about $200 RT for two people and a baby (no charge). Here is a summary of our 3.5 days there.

A trip to Portland is not complete without a cappuccino at Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Must stop at Pine State Biscuits for fried chicken, biscuits, and gravy. I usually don't like heavy country foods like this but dang these biscuits were good and the gravy was great.

Don't skip on the hot sauce. I thought the Foot High sauce was really good.

I had an ice cream flight all to myself from Salt and Straw. They are known for some unique flavors. I was not a fan of most of these flavors. I found that there was usually one ingredient that dominated the entire taste. For example, the Strawberry Balsamic tasted mostly of balsamic. The Honey Lavendar jsut tastes like lavendar. It was kind of disappointing for me. Phil had a cone of the Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache which he really enjoyed.

 From left to right: Wildflower Honey with Ricotta Walnut Lace Cookies, Double Fold Vanilla, Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper, Honey Lavendar

I hear everyone rave about VooDoo Donuts but Blue Star Donuts is where it's at. This old fashioned buttermilk was so perfect. 

Of course I had to try Pok Pok. I've heard so many great things about the chicken wings. They did not disappoint at all. Spicy, salty, sweet, sticky, crispy. Everything else pictured here was also spicy, espeically the papaya salad. I suggest getting the coconut rice. 

Vegan/vegetarian food was also on my to-eat list because Portland is a hipster town so why not try what the Portlandians eat. We were very satisfied and surprisingly full on the Thai fake chicken wrap and the raw nachos. My mocktail was also great.

For one of the dinners, we had Italian food at Grassa in downtown. I wasn't a huge fan of ordering at the front before I sat down. It adds pressure to the decision making process. The meatballs and carbonara were fantastic anyway.

Brunch is also a very Portlandian thing to do so we tried Tasty & Alder. Steak and duck egg on top with eggs, grits, and steak at the bottom. Yum.

We are super into acai bowls now and had to try a few in Portland. Top is from Carioca Bowls and bottom is from Moberi. Both very good. I liked Moberi just a touch better. They're a truck and there's a bike out front attached to a blender so you can blend our own bowl.

Speaking of trucks, Portland is well known for its food trucks which take up entire blocks and are pretty stationary. I tried the Bing Mi which is a crepe with egg and black bean sauce. It was only just ok.

We also explored the Portland Japanese Garden and it was a nice time.

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