Tuesday, November 24

Blue Apron Free Trial

In popular opinion, it seems that Blue Apron is leading the pack in the home food delivery business. They are widely known and have the cheapest price per meal. I decided to give their services a try with the free trial. No one is paying me or giving me anything free for this post. The free trial was received through an invitation from a friend who is already using Blue Apron. Once I signed up using the invitation, I get 3 meals for two people while my friend gets $20 off his next shipment. Anyone can get this deal if they know a current Blue Apron user. The reviews stated below are all my own opinion. 

Here's a YouTube video I made of the unboxing when Blue Apron delivered to our house on a Wednesday night. Excuse the poor camera quality. I am recording with iPhone.

My purpose for trying Blue Apron was to get my husband to learn how to cook. He is so lost in the kitchen and now that I'm busy with baby chores, it would be nice if he had the skills to do more than sous chef for me. Let's see how this went.

We had pork meatballs in butter lettuce cups the first night. He cooked the rice in a rice cooker rather than a pot on the stove as directed. The meatballs were delicious. There were about 8-10 cups like the one pictured above. It was not enough for two people. I think it was more like an appetizer and I can't imagine anyone getting full off the amount given.

Taste was great. Easy to make. Portion was small. 

The second night, we made jamaican jerk chicken with plantains and collard greens sautee. This meal had a slightly larger portion size than the meatballs. It took a bit more time to prepare. The plantains were the best part. The chicken was quite plain, even with the seasoning. The meal used up more pots and pans than desired.

Taste was ok. Plantains were especially yummy. Not too difficult but it does take a few more steps. Portion size was ok - low carb but decent.

The last meal was a salmon pastrami with sauerkraut sandwich with a side of red cabbag cole slaw. I'd say my husband really nailed this one. The bread was perfectly toasted. The salmon portion was plenty for two sandwiches plus some leftover salmon on the side. Sauerkraut was excellent. The seasonings with the sandwich were also very good. The coleslaw with green apple (not picture) was just ok.

Taste was excelent. Fairly quick and easy to prepare. Portion was good. Plenty of meat and quite filling because there was bread.

What did we learn about Blue Apron?

Some meals are better than others but nothing was inedible. The menu is set for the week so you can only pick in terms of skipping or accepting your shipment for the week. You cannot choose individual meals. The directions are easy to follow, especially with ingredients measured out already. You do not need to use as many dishes and containers as the directions require. For example, all greens can be cut on the same cutting board and just put in a corner. The directions ask you to put each in an ingredient bowl which is unnecessary. 

The delivery is convenient. Not having to grocery shop is extremely convenient. The portions are too small for the price. $9.99 per meal isn't too bad if you compare with dining out. But it is too expensive when compared with traditional home cooking which we do. When I grocery shop and cook weekly, I can buy enough to make dinner and have leftover for lunch. I can make large batches and not have to cook again for a few days. Buying in bulk allows me to hunt for bargains. This is not possible with Blue Apron. 

Actually I am quite pleased with my Blue Apron experience. If I were someone who valued my time more than my money, Blue Apron is worth it. The people who will get the most value out of this service are ones who rarely have time to grocery shop and who don't want to think about building a menu. As a compromise, if you sign up for Blue Apron but only want to use it casually, make sure you skip all weeks and unskip the weeks you actually want a delivery. 

FYI, there is no button to cancel your Blue Apron account online. You must send an email to their cancellation address.

Friday, November 20

Green Festival 2015 - San Francisco

This past weekend, through a posting Krautsource made on Instagram, I snagged myself tickets to the 2015 Green Festival at Cow Palace. The Green Festival is an expo for natural, organic, eco-friendly products. The name pretty much sums it up. Here's a video with some snaps of the event.

Volkswagen was a sponsor for the event and they gave free test drives of the e-Golf car. Yes, I'm familiar with the VW emissions testing scandal. Maybe it's the reason they sponsored this Green Festival. I'm not one to judge or pass up a chance to test drive a car without dealing with pushy sales people. So I test drove this e-Golf. It's a pretty smooth ride. There's a brake mode that allows the car to slow down and brake when you take your foot off the acceleration. I think it's for crowded street driving. I did not enjoy driving in this mode. Luckily it's only optional so if you leave the car in regular mode, it drives just fine.

 Kraut Source sells the metal mason jar tops pictured here. It allows for easy and clean fermentation. Basically you're making pickles without vinegar. Just a salt water brine, veggies, and the Kraut Source top which keeps oxygen from coming in but allows carbon dioxide to go out. Their product is currently only sold at expos like this or through their website.

Integral Yoga Institute and Pacific Domes
I took a quick relaxation yoga class in this dome. It was the first time I had the sound bowl played on my belly which was quite cool.

On a whim, I tried this sparkling coconut water from Viva H20 Coconut Water. It's definitely a different take on coconut water. I prefer the regular coconut water because it tastes more natural.

Grub Market is a grocery delivery service that provides produce and specialty food items to your door. Aside from these beauties here, they also deliver things like raw milk and pasture raised meats.

Salad Cosmo was an exciting vendor for me because I love sprouts. I even grow them at home. I noshed on plenty of samples of nano kohlrabi, onions, radish, amaranth, etc. So good! 

Thursday, November 19

Caviar - Food Delivery Service - Silicon Valley

Everything I know and love about my favorite South Bay burger spot, Konjoe Burger, was just delivered right to my doorstep thanks to Caviar. Caviar is a service that allows you to order from your favorite local restaurants, pay through their platform, and receive deliveries right to your door. Through the app, you can track your delivery person and see literally just how close you are to getting your food. 

Caviar works directly with merchants which allows both businesses to run special promotions. The promotions are often advertised on their Instagram profile. The team has also gone above and beyond in hiring their own photographer to capture delectable images of their merchants food. Everything you see on the site is from Caviar's photographer. They are also the exclusive delivery service for Falafels Drive-In, Lillie Mae's, Tea Lyfe, and more. 

I was offered a free lunch or dinner delivered by Caviar in order to test their services. Let's see what happened!

After spending about 0 minutes immediately deciding on my favorite Konjoe Burger, my order was scheduled for a Tuesday night delivery at 7PM. Tuesday night, a bit before 7PM, Jeff arrived at my door with an insulated orange Caviar bag. PUNCTUAL! YAY. 

Delivery fees range from FREE to $6.99 depending on the distance. 

The burger arrived packaged in eco friendly take out containers, all wrapped in a biodegradable plastic bag. Yay again!

Everything was warm and fresh. On the left is the pork belly bao (3 for $11). On the right is the Shiitake Jack Burger ($11) and in the middle is Konjoe sauce.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience with Caviar. The premise is quite simple and all users really need from a food delivery service is more restaurant options, ease of use in app, and punctual delivery. Caviar delivered on all these! I also find that compared to Door Dash and Postmates, I liked their restaurant selection best.

Links to Caviar's social media accounts
Use code SBLOVE2 for $2.00 off your order.

Tuesday, November 10

Whole Foods Market Tap Room Grand Opening - Blossom Hill - San Jose

Whole Foods Market on Blossom Hill recently opened Tap Room, their beer and dining area. The location was formerly Sunflower Farmers Market which was a chain owned by Sprouts. In 2012, I wrote about their opening on my blog. Now it's a Whole Foods which is a great because I'm a Whole Foods fan.

The Tap Room grand opening event was free for all, no reservations required. The dining area is quite spacious as seen in the photo above. The bar is a little small but they offer a good variety of seasonal beers. Here's a sample of the selection at Tap Room. I recommend you stop by and try them.

Sucaba by Firestone Walker was the most interesting beer I tasted that night from my friend Alvin. According to Alvin, it's tough to find Sucaba around here. It tastes like coffee and spices and beer. A multi-note beer.

Citra Sour by Almanac (left)
This beer was more sour than expected even though sour is in its name.
Born Yesterday by Lagunitas (right)
This one was just ok in Phil and my opinions. Slightly more bitter than a Stella but still fairly mellow.

There was also plenty of food served at the grand opening.

We got in line for sushi rolls, gyoza, and edamame which are all available regularly at Whole Foods.

An endless amount of delicious and filling pulled pork sliders

Buffalo chicken wings

Charcuterie, cheeses, bread, and fresh radishes

A second helping of the same. I ate plenty of fresh radishes and cured meats because I love em.

Sunday, November 8

Poshmark's Poshfest Posh Party - San Francisco Design Center

Just a little post about last night's Poshfest. Poshmark is a platform (like Etsy) for buying and selling fashion to a community of users. I could sell my gently used skinny jeans which no longer fit my new mom body, for example. Plenty of people who use it sell designer items which had cost them a pretty penny and they want to recoup some of that back while providing a lower cost option for someone else. There are people who make a living off selling apparel on Poshmark.

Postmark also hosts a Postfest whcih is much like the Blogher conferences. There are speakers and events throughout the weekend. Olivia invited me to the Posh Party on Saturday night at the San Francisco Design Center. Here are a few of the pictures from the awesome night which featured cupcakes with designer logos, two photobooths, a live DJ, and healthy snacks to nosh on.

The San Francisco Design Center is a great venue. The drive in and out was easy. Parking around the area was free and plenty.  

Thursday, November 5

The Business of Beer the (Re)volution at SCU - Santa Clara

The Food and Agribusiness Institute at Santa Clara University regularly hosts food industry related events. Last year, I went to their farm tour and had a great time (here's the post). They recently had a Business of Ice Cream event which I was not able to attend and I heard there were lots of ice cream samples served. Last week, I did attend their Business of Beer event. Tickets were $30 or $7 off with SCU student ID.

The panelists from left to right were:
Ron Lindenbusch (CMO of Lagunitas)
Blaine Landberg (Founder of Calicraft)
Moderator: Kevin Weaver (Beer Editor at All About Beer Magazine)
Emily Thomas (Owner of Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing)

They spoke about their start in brewing, what the beer industry was like when they started, what it's like now, and where they see it moving. There was also some talk about the differences in the craft beer industry vs the mass produced beer industry. All in all, an informative panel session for those who enjoy craft beer.

There was a taco buffet served throughout the event. I made mine into an open face taco plate to be eaten with a knife and fork along with my IPA. 

After the speakers finished, the tasting lines opened. The event was crowded but lines moved quickly so there was time to get multiple pours if anyone wanted. Here are the ones I tried.

I forget what type of beer this was from Eight Bridges Brewing. They brought their own keg rigged from a cooler. There was a bit too much foam in my glass but it was buttery and tasty foam. Not too bad of a beer. I'm guessing it was their Pilsner.

I totes love Buzzerkeley Sparkling Ale which I had previously tried at Spread Deli in Campbell. According to the owner, the sparkling ale was a happy accident made by brewing beer with the wrong yeast - champagne yeast. The result is this light and zesty brew as advertised.

21st Amendment brought cans of various flavors. I chose the watermelon wheat beer since I like it nice and light. This tasted fruity, acidic, and light. There is just a touch of watermelon taste.

I wasn't too keen on the Dust Bowl IPA I tried. Most of the sample s at this event were IPA which is too bitter for me.

The SCU Food and Agribusiness puts on great events. I enjoyed this one a lot and look forward to events in the future. Many of the events are open to the public. I'll try to share it on my Facebook Page in the future.


Today is your last chance to enter my giveaway for two $25 gift cards to Islands Restaurant in Cupertino.

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Monday, November 2

Islands Restaurant - Cupertino - GIVEAWAY

Islands Restaurant in Cupertino is having an NFL promotion during football season. In short, pretty much whenever there is a football game on, there will be a happy hour deal at the restaurant. Here are the details.

Starting September 10, Monday and Thursday happy hour deals are extended from 4PM to close in the bar, with specials available all day long on Sundays.

Additional Sunday NFL specials will run all day and night in the bar, and include the following:
  • Coors Light for $2.99
  • Featured IPA for $4.59
  • Bloody Marys for $3.99
  • Island Nachos for $7.95

Signature tropical drinks like the Mai Tai ($4.39) and Hand Shaken Strawberry Daiquiri ($5.59); and food specials including Hawaiian Sliders ($5.99), Quesadillas ($3.79) and Cheddar Fries ($4.85) are available every game day.

What's really great about their happy hour is that the portion size remains the same while the price is discounted!

Islands Restaurant recently invited me in to try their menu and I was extremely pleased with everything we ordered. 
*Happy Hour prices are listed with HH below.

($8.29 regular, $5.19 HH) Mangorita - frozen and blended with Sauza Gold Tequila
Bloody Mary (Happy hour special - forgot the price)
Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewery
We started our meal with these 3 drinks. The blended mangorita was mine and I loved it. It's actually quite strong for a drink that's only $5.19 and that large but the mango mix really balanced it out.
The Sculpin IPA from San Diego was also surprisingly good. Phil and I don't generally like IPA's but this one wasn't as dark and bitter as IPA's usually are. 


($8.95 Regular) Nachos with cheddar and jack cheeses, jalapenos, tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole, refried beans, and salsa on the side.
The portion size of these nachos is not evident in this photo. It is very large and satisfying. Plenty of jalapenos just how I like it. The cheese is not the melted stadium Velveeta stuff. I have no complaints except maybe there should be an option to add meat and then it'd be even more perfect!

($10.19) Teriyaki beach bowl with grilled chicken on brown rice with pineapples, and mixed veggie stir fry. Also available with hoisin sauce.
This also came in a good portion size and was probably the healthiest item we had. It's tasty and is exactly as described.

($6.95 HH) Nalu Nalu hot dogs with fries - Hot dogs are not on the standard menu. It's on the happy hour menu, but if you ask for it, they might have it.
This tastes much like a chili cheese dog. It has sauteed bell peppers and onion with cheese.

($6.95 HH) Pipeline hot dog with fries - basically a chili cheese dog and it's so good! Great portion size too.

($7.99) Cheddar fries with added chili ($3.09) - These pictures aren't showing you the large portion sizes. This alone could have been a meal. It tasted just as good as the hot dog version.

($12.09) Nalu Nalu burger on wheat buns with sweet potato fries - Even better than it's hot dog version and very filling. The sweet potato fries were crispy and delicious.

($12.19) Kilauea Vegetarian burger - Our friend seemed to really enjoy his vegetarian burger. It has jalapenos!

($9.49) Tiki Tenders - these are breaded and fried chicken tenders listed as appetizers but they are huge. A very satisfying portion.

I haven't been as impressed with a chain restaurant since my childhood days dining at Red Robin. Islands offers a clean spacious environment that's bright and family friendly. There's football for dad while the whole family can enjoy good food. This may all sound like I'm writing a marketing ad but now that I have a family, I appreciate this kind of environment. They were well prepared with a cradle for me to set the baby's car seat in. 

Let's talk about this food though. Big portions. Good taste. Affordable price. Plenty of choices for happy hour. Options to customize some parts of your dish such as the bun on the burgers, the fries, the sauce in the rice bowl, etc. My favorite items were actually the hot dogs. As much of a health nut as I am, those hot dogs were tasty.

A big thanks to Islands for inviting me in for the complimentary feast. And an even bigger thanks to them for sending two $25 gift cards for me to raffle off. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter widget below. Entries will be closed on 11/6. Winners announced on 11/9. 
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