remember my desire to try the cookie dough cafe after seeing it featured on shark tank?
i mean it just seemed like the perfect concoction. edible cookie dough (no risk of salmonella) and a clean kitchen?
sign me up.
unfortunately, at the time there was not a grocery store in the bay area that sold the cookie dough cafe and so i had to give up on my dream. at least for a little while.
yes, i could have purchased it online but all that is offered is buying all four flavors at once and it is completely over priced (we’re are talking $45+).
then b surprised me with with the cookie dough cafe for christmas! i guess fresh market in palo alto recently decided to carry the precious treat. he bought all three available flavors and so i thought it was perfect time to give you guys the low down.
the cookie dough cafe completely nailed it. i absolutely loved chocolate chip and cookies & cream. you really don’t notice the lack of eggs. both flavors completely hit the sweet spot and tasted fresh and delicious.
i will say that i would be able to tell the difference between home made cookie dough and the cookie dough cafe but it is slight and this way i can have cookie dough without the hassle of making cookies. i was surprised at how much i liked the cookies & cream flavor. b said he liked it more than ice cream!
the downfall with the cookie dough cafe is the monster flavor. monster is comprised of oats, peanut butter and m&ms. this mixture sounds like my favorite cookie but, unfortunately, i really did not care for the dough. in fact i had a couple bites and threw the rest of the tub away. it just did nothing for me and i hate wasting calories on stuff i am just eating to eat.
there are four flavors currently being produced by the cookie dough cafe : naked, chocolate chip, monster and cookies & creme. i am sure the naked flavor is exactly like chocolate chip but without the chocolate chips and would be delicious as well. best of the best award would have to go to chocolate chip followed closely by cookies & cream. i am crossing my fingers the cookie dough cafe comes out with a sugar cookie flavor next because making sugar cookies around the holidays made me realize how much i love that dough.
now that you know my weekend was filled with endless spoonfuls of cookie dough (to taste test over and over of course), how was your weekend?
this week, emily and i wanted to stray a little from food and hop on over to the best neighborhoods to live in silicon valley and dc. so for those of you looking to move to either area, this post will give you a little insight as to where to dwell. also note, that i am focusing more heavily on the peninsula and south bay when making these recommendations. i am sure east bay has some lovely neighborhoods to settle in but, that is not my expertise.
what makes a great neighborhood to you? for me it is location, restaurant/shopping access, parks, school districts (even though we are not in that stage it is always nice to know), and proximity to beautiful cities to explore.
Palo Alto (peninsula) – i have worked in downtown palo alto since april and fall more in love with it everyday. palo alto is home to stanford, venture capital firms and a bustling yet relaxed downtown. the public schools in the area are rated a perfect 10. are you now understanding why this is one of the most expensive places to live in the country? the neighborhoods along Embarcadero Rd are completely swoon worthy. Each house is unique and has a perfectly well kept garden. i can’t get over how many gorgeous trees line the streets of practically every sub neighborhood in palo alto.
i always tell b this is where i need to live when we settle down. every corner is another stunning home/view. you will be paying high prices to live in this picture perfect city. according to the sf business times, average rent for an apartment in palo alto is $3,000+. b and i are pinching our pennies to one day live in a dream land like this.
Marina (San Francisco) – i have not lived in the city (b is not much of a city person), but i do have many friends that live there and call the marina their home. I thought SF gate described the marina district perfectly by saying “the apartment buildings, shops and restaurants seem to be bursting at their seams with beautiful, young and fit 20- and 30-somethings. The singles scene is hopping on Friday and Saturday nights, with lots of fresh-faced postgrads with cocktails in one hand and cell phones in the other. Union is arguably the best street in the city to window-shop the hours away on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and, a few blocks down, Chestnut has an incredible variety of high-quality restaurants catering to every palate.”
Sunnyvale (south bay) – this is where we have lived for the past year and a half. we originally picked this location because it a little less pricey and is in great proximity to san jose, mountain view and palo alto where we have worked. the more north you live on the peninsula, the less traffic you usually face when commuting to your job. b works in san jose so he is driving a reverse commute and can get to work in less than 10 min. score! i used to have the same reverse commute when working in santa clara, but now head north to palo alto where i am in the thick of it. thank goodness i am only 10 miles away.
living in sunnyvale has also made it easy to go on day trips in the city and santa cruz / monterey (we are less than a hour away from both). i love how easy it is to explore all that is around me. i love the quaint downtown area that host farmer’s markets on Saturdays and live music on Wednesdays. i love the local restaurants and family oriented atmosphere. sunnyvale schools on average are rated a 7/10, which is pretty good in the school districts around here. i love how it always seems to be a little sunnier than the neighboring cites (hence the name maybe). we love this city and think it is a perfect place to begin your bay area adventure whether you are newly married or have a large family.
Woodside (peninsula) – woodside is located less than 10 miles north of palo alto. it is technically a sub area of redwood city. this is a great neighborhood to live in if you feel like you need just a little more space in this jam packed bay area. woodside residents consist mostly of established professionals with large, plantation like homes. this is where larry ellison has come to dwell so you know it must be something good and with property taxes that big of course the schools are top notch. b and i enjoy walking around this neighborhood and taking in the plush scenery. you would have to travel a bit more for restaurants and shopping because it is a tad secluded. but, by travel i mean 15 min and driving through the rolling hills is the prettiest drive to town i have ever seen. this woodsy area is also just a hop, skip and a jump away from beautiful half moon bay. oh a girl can dream.
Willow Glen(south bay) – i have had friends and coworkers live in the willow glen area and swear that it is the place to be. i would have to agree that is indeed one of the places to be. their charming downtown with an array of boutiques and restaurants make you want to roam the streets aimlessly. i love the small town and friendly feel of willow glen. yet, you are only 5 miles away from downtown san jose. willow glen also knows how to celebrate the holidays and come together as a community. during the holidays it is known for its yearly christmas tree lights decoration tradition. many residents participate by decorating christmas trees in their front yards, decorating them in multicolored lights which, when done completely, can be a fun place to drive through. my coworkers actually told me about this tradition and i couldn’t help but day dream about living in this perfect town. there are also other annual street festivals and farmers markets which draw hundreds if not thousands to the neighborhoods streets. It is far more affordable than palo alto, woodside and the marina. score! the one downfall for me is that it may be located too far south for my liking. it is not as accessible to the peninsula and the city. in the end it may be worth it.
This week’s summer date night is brought to you by B and inspired by Arrow.
Have you ever seen Arrow? It is a superhero series on the CW. I was a little skeptical at first but have been getting really into it lately. It recently wrapped up its’ second season and was renewed for a third (first season is currently available on Netflix). Anyways enough about my current tv obsession…
B invited me on a surprise date night last week and it was so creative I thought I would share. The date began with dinner at Vaso Azzurro (a local Italian restaurant located in downtown Mountain View). The food was delicious. I chose Picatta Con Erbe Aromatiche and B chose the salmon. The flavors were fresh and authentic. The live jazz music contributed to a great meal. I hear their pasta is homemade so I will have to give it a try the next time we come. The dessert menu was diverse and lust worthy. Overall, it was a lovely experience and I would rate Vaso Azzurro 3.5 out of 5 stars (it really was quite tasty but as I mentioned before I come from a family of food snobs).
After dinner we raced over to this warehouse looking building in Palo Alto. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. B had taken me to Palomo Archery where we would learn the art of archery (I knew B loved Arrow from the beginning but had no idea it would inspire him so).
We had a hour long archery lesson (archery is actually more tiring than it looks). Our instructor, Peter, taught the very basics and then let us try it out. I was pretty nervous and a little intimidated. The bow was harder to pull back than I thought it would be. I just tried to remember everything I learned and had fun with it. Now I know why Katniss was so praised for her skills. It would take a lot of concentration and practice for me to ever shoot something that is moving.
B was a natural. He was shooting the farther target the second he was able to practice on his own. He could have been Arrow’s sidekick. B encouraged me that we needed this skill in case the zombie apocalypse ever became a reality.
Then B insisted that we must become like Robin Hood and wear the arrows on our back with the hat on our head. I will tell you I did feel a little BA (especially with my hair in a braid like Katniss, which was not planned). We both love learning new things so it was a great time had by all.
The night ended with ice cream and an Arrow episode of course.
Ready for another lunch hot spot in Palo Alto? Pluto’s
Pluto’s offers fresh sandwiches, salads, dessert bars all within budget (I am talking a fresh entree size salad with toppings for $7.50)! I either like to build my own salad or sandwich but they do have signature dishes that everyone raves about. Plutos even cooks a turkey every day to slice meat for sandwiches. How do I know this? Because they slice it right in front of you! Talk about fresh!
The service is quick even though there always seems to be some what of a line (which may be a good sign). There is a bar area that faces the street and I love sitting there on my lunch break to people watch. Not to mention, the bright colored furniture always makes the space feel so happy and inviting. Pluto’s is a staple when eating lunch in Palo Alto!
Don’t forget to indulge yourself with their Saturn’s Garlic Potato Rings or Orbital Onion Rings with Pluto’s BBQ dipping sauce!
I currently work in downtown Palo Alto (you know where Zukerburg reins) and there is quite the variety of restaurants to try. I usually go out once a week to explore something new but, one restaurant I keep on going back to is Lyfe Kitchen.
Lyfe Kitchen is a healthy “fast-food” option. All the entrees are under 600 calories! Not only that, but the diversity is unmatched. Some of my favorites include Art’s Unfried Chicken, Fish Tacos and the Quinoa Crunch Wrap. “Lyfe Waters” are the perfect pairing to any entrée – the orange ginger chia is so refreshing!
Lyfe Kitchen has several locations throughout California as well as Nevada, Illinois, Colorado and Texas.
What is your go-to lunch spot and why do you like it?