Esther’s German Bakery in Mountain View

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.25.21 PM
At Sunday’s Palo Alto Farmer’s Market Esther’s German Bakery welcomed passersby with beautiful breads that showed well behind glass and a smiling face behind the counter. Everything about Esther’s seller invited us to browse and buy browned goods from pretzels to breads worthy of photos. Nicely done. On Esther’s website I was also impressed with the numbers of farmer’s markets visited in the Bay Area and Esther’s expanding places of business. Great crust, texture and color in breads and pretzels.
bread selection esthers
Esther’s German Bakery website

​House of Pendragon Brewing Company in Clovis

A curvy glass of dark beer with the House of Pendragon logo on the front.

Being a major fan of fantasy and science fiction, I was naturally intrigued by the name of this small micro brewery. Pendragon is of course the legendary family name of King Arthur which goes hand in hand with knights, dragons and magical Merlin. Picture if you will the main room of the castle with knights in their regalia having a pint before they go to slay the dragon and save the kingdom! Awesome to say the least. The craft beers made here reflect this theme: Arthur Imperial and Lancelot IPA’s, Merlin’s Midnight Mild, Coco Crusader, and delicate Guinevere are just a few of the wide range of brews from HOP. Using a variety of hops, experimental flavors come up frequently, and the on-tap menu changes at least weekly as new batches are ready. The Tap room opened in early 2014 and is now open 7 days a week. You can sit and enjoy your brew of choice in this room specifically designed for social interaction. Generously, the restaurant next door will deliver food to you; all you have to do is ask for the server! Make it a point to visit soon, and take home one of the coolest logo tee shirts I have seen in a while.  

​House of Pendragon Brewing Company       Website       Facebook

Pushkin’s Bakery in Sacramento

One cake covered in chocolate ganache and berries, and a lemon cupcake with white frosting.Gluten free. Dairy free. For some it’s a choice, for some it’s an allergy, for many it is a health imperative. This bakery is dedicated to gluten free, lactose free foods. It must be completely overwhelming to read the heart felt reviews and hear the gratitude of those who suffer and haven’t been able to taste a treat or slice of bread in a long time. Pushkin’s is fully gluten free: nothing in the entire kitchen touches wheat, gluten or dairy so ALL items are edible to a celiac. I do​n’t need to eat this way, but some family members of mine do​,​ so I know the problems in finding decent baked products for them. Their original chocolate chip cookie won so many raves among friends that owners Danny and Olga Turner began to experiment and come up with new exciting products. Today a long list of items are baked daily for their many happy, hungry customers. Cookies, muffins, and scones are among the daily menu offerings. Cakes in small and large sizes, even tiered wedding cakes are available. Place your order any time, they love to make such special items and will happily leave out any other allergens. A major shout out to these guys for making delicious goodies for those in need, and even those of us who just like great tasting bakery food.

Pushkin’s Bakery     Website      Facebook

Artisan Candies in San Jose

A small stack of white homemade marshmallows next to a cellophane bag of the same.

Old fashioned candies with new fashioned twists is the philosphy of this sweet company. I had the pleasure at the Scottish Highlander Games of meeting Co-owner Dean, half of the married Dean & Kristen candy super-hero ​duo. He was generous enough to offer me ​a minty green rocky road bite as I strolled by his booth. MMM, mmm, mmm. Of course my hubby and I ended up purchasing more than we anticipated, but who cares? It’s only a waistline… There is a long list of really good goodies available here: Chocolate-Caramel covered pretzels known as Trolls Ears​, kid friendly S’More’s on a stick, adult friendly ​Whiskey and Rum cakes, handmade fluffy marshmallows. Need I say more? ​There is something for everybody. All made in their brand new spacious kitchen, these artisan candies are available in their store, at festivals and online if you need it.

Artisan Candies      Website      Facebook

Mahogany Smoked Meats in Bishop

beef jerky examples mahogany smoked meats
Jerky with no preservatives, msg, nitrates, artificial colors or flavor enhancers (ship anywhere). Quality smoked meats (ship to CA residents). Mahogany Smoked Meats in Bishop; my husband and I pass through regularly when driving over Tioga Pass on our trips between the Bay Area and Nevada. Mahogany Smoked Meats offers delicious meats from an easy-to-reach location. Since 1922. The following text offers a glimpse to quality and flavor:
mahogany smoked meats double smoked bacon slab
Our smoked bacon is the pinnacle of the Mahogany meat eating experience! One national magazine called this “the best bacon in the country” and once you taste it you will agree. The process of making bacon perfection is long and not without effort. We start with a lean imported slab and only then do the hand-trimmed centers continue on through the smoking process – where the real magic happens. After hand loading in small batches our Smoke Master must continually monitor the process and add mountain mahogany logs to control temperature. Keep in mind our smoker is not a modern version that churns out meat in an assembly line fashion; but rather, an old fashioned log pit smoker with a process that has been perfected over the past 89 years. Finally, after 24 hours of flavor inducing mahogany smoke, the slabs are removed and allowed to cool before we can slice or package. In all there are about 3 days of labor and love invested in every package of our best selling product. Each pound of the sliced bacon is individually packaged for your storage convenience.

Mahogany Smoked Meats website

Nosh This in San Francisco

My husband and I travel a lot and one indicator of a successful trip is fresh almond brittle. The kind that breaks off gently and fills your mouth with the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Nosh won a 2014 Good Food award for almond brittle, called Almond Crack.

Nosh This Almond Crack - almond brittle
Honey Walnut Fleur de Sel Caramel is a Good Food award finalist.

honey walnut brittle from nosh this

Locally sourced and carefully crafted. Additional offerings include Bacon Crack, Bacon Salted Caramel, Meyer Lemon Salted Caramel, Balsamic Vinegar Salted Caramel, Bourbon Bacon Rocky Road and Salt and Pepper Caramel.

Nosh This website | Twitter | FB | Pinterest | Instagram

el Salchichero in Santa Cruz

el Salchichero in Santa Cruz - roasted pig in outdoor bbqel Salchichero offers hand-cut meats artfully extracted from whole carcasses, house-made pate, fresh and smoked sausages, and assorted smoked and cured meats. A large meat offering and complementary products are best found on their website’s this week link. Take time to read their philosophy and the stories of their butchers; you’ll appreciate the care and quality of el Salchichero.

standing with whole pig carcas
Hand-cut meats artfully extracted from whole carcasses, available at the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market, Scotts Valley Market, Live Oak Market and their full service butcher shop on the Westside of Santa Cruz, California in the Swift Street Courtyard complex.

stove top - two sausages cooking on the stove

Desert Box Bag and Accessories

The Desert Box Bag carries baking and cooking supplies; it’s perfect for a hand mixer and favorite kitchen tools. Throw it over your shoulder and cook or bake on the road with two knives in the knife sheath, unpack tools from the mesh bag and spices from the spice holder. Washable, comfortable and efficient.

Side View:

As a kit with accessories:

Empty and compact for carrying:

To see more about this or other cooking and baking bags email Kelly at

Jarred SF Brine in San Francisco

line of three jarred pickled vegetables in jars, foremost sliced red onion

Jarred’s specializes in making pickled fruits and vegetables using the best local, organic and sustainable products. Their Sweet Spiced Pickled Cherries won a 2014 Good Foods award and their innovative products include Pickled Green Garlic, Fennel Pickled Beets, Oven Roasted Pickled Golden Beets and Shaved Shallots, Cinnamon and Thyme Pickled Peaches and more! I can think of a hundred dishes that pickled fruits and vegetables transform with color, flavor and a great crunch.

closeup of two jars of pickled vegetables, one yellow beans one red onion slices

Jarred SF Brine website

Glashoff Farms in Fairfield

close up of a jar with walnut oil inside
Glashoff Farms award winning walnut oil made with Franquette Walnuts, an old smaller nut variety with big flavor. The oil is extracted using the traditional, French, screw press method. Roasting the nuts prior to pressing helps to extract the oil and enhance the flavor.
bitter orange marmalade at glashoff farms
Preserves, marmalades and jellies are made from the fruit grown on Glashoff’s small farm. Ripe hand picked fruit means far less sugar, great flavor and no artificial sweeteners, honey or condensed fruit juice.
marion berry jam at glashoff farms

Glashoff Farms online store