Sunday, August 31, 2014

Playing with Frosting @ Vanilla Bean Gourmet Cupcakes - Sacramento, CA

©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.
The cupcake phenomenon totally intrigues me, nowhere in the world I have seen a wedding cake being replaced by these treats, or stores where they only sell them. They do have a very special place in the American life. They are used in birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, parties, etc.

This is not the first, and only time that I am going to address the cupcake phenomenon in The Pink Macaroon. I have to confess that I have never made a cupcake. I have eaten them, mainly from coworkers that decided to bring their culinary experiments into the office. I have never eaten a professional cupcake before attending the Frosting Decorating Class at Vanilla Bean Gourmet Cupcakes. No wonder these portable treats are so popular!!

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I found this class through Groupon.The class is one hour and half long, and it is held at their retail store location. Carlos and Patricia are the owners. Very nice and lovely couple. Patricia explained to us how the cupcake adventure started.

 Carlos worked in construction, and when the house bubble exploded  he lost his job. Patricia as well lost her job (she had a corporate job). They decided to rent their house, and move into Patricia's parent's house basement. In this basement Vanilla Bean Gourmet Cupcake was born. 

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I love their story. The fact that Carlos and Patricia re-invented themselves is admirable. Patricia is the Owner and Instructor. She is very passionate, lively, helpful and I can tell a very happy person. Carlos is the Pastry Chef and Owner. He was not doing the class, however he was making sure we had enough chairs, all the toppings were in place, and he was also baking in the back. 

The store does not do retail anymore, however they do classes, as well as catering, weddings, corporate gifts, customs orders etc. 

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We learned a couple of techniques on how to do flowers, and we even had the treat to be able to do some Fondant Roses. Some of the ladies were smart enough to bring aprons, because it can get messy. 

❤ I loved Patricia's energy. It is very contagious. She made the decoration seem easy, and it is actually harder that it looks. 
❤ I found the Fondant technique challenging, however if it is mastered, it can deliver very romantic and beautiful cupcakes.
❤ The techniques that we learned with the frosting decoration were very simple, yet strikingly beautiful.
❤ We had plenty of supplies. I liked the fact that Patricia is not wasteful with them. 
❤ Their Lemon curd is to die for. I give it three ❤.
❤ These techniques are very versatile, good for cupcakes as well as cakes, and other deserts.

We decorated three cupcakes. I did two with lemon curd inside, and the amount of frosting was perfect for me. I did one without it to fully taste their cupcake, which I ate before the class finished (It was crying out: "eat me"). It was a very good cupcake, fresh, moist and light. I went to the class to learned how they do it, and I learned.  

If you love cupcakes, want to buy or want to learn. I totally recommend Vanilla Bean Gourmet. Check out their website which by the way I think it is absolutely beautiful. Not only they have many flavors to choose from, but they also have low sugar,  gluten free and vegan cupcakes. Their prices are very affordable as well. 

Bon Appétit et À bientôt!!!
❤ Natalia ❤

Meet the Lovely Patricia (Owner & Instructor)
©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

Vanilla Bean Gourmet Cupcakes
Located in Midtown next to Safeway on the corner of S and 19th St.
1809 S Street #103, Sacramento, CA
Shop Telephone      916.498.9566
Open daily in Sacramento: 11am to 10pm

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sometimes This Girl needs to do this...

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This afternoon while shopping I gave up to total temptation, well it is Saturday… my Saturdays are the days when I can indulge a little after having very good eating habits during the week. A little bit of sugar doesn't kill anyone, no?

This is my dinner. Nutritionist, health nuts, and my mum would look at this with disgust. Me… as I am happy as I can be. 

Analyzing my dinner we have:
♥  Carob Peanut Clusters Naturally Sweet - conclusion, they are natural = good to eat today.
♥  Gummy Bears - I am not bothering to read the label… It would gross me out, and I will not eat them. 
♥  Organic Sunny Fruit Slices with Vitamin C - I work in a hospital. I don't want to get sick = I need vitamin C. 
♥  Vanilla Haagen-Danz Ice-Cream - There is nothing than ice-cream can not fix. 

Comments from my friends when I told them:
Are those gummy bears?!?!? No, a girl doesn't.
You are going to die.
Erf. Abandon that monstrosity and bring me a German chocolate cake!
Those peanut clusters are goooood, and vanilla ice-cream. Yum.

Tomorrow I will say: 
Gosh… Today back to healthy eating… That was a well needed indulgence. No regrets or… I ate too much.. why did you let me? (to one of my friends, and me playing victim). :-) I am not telling Lawrence (my personal trainer). 

Bon Appetit!!!

❤ Natalia ❤

Temple Coffee & Tea - Sacramento, CA

©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.
If you enjoy good quality coffee. This Temple in Sacramento can teach you something about coffee. 
©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

Last Saturday I took a class with them: Espresso Tasting Class. In this class I got the chance to taste 5 different coffees prepared by experienced baristas. An education about flavor, color of creme, consistency and persistence of creme, taste balance (harmonious balance of sweet/acidity/bitter), and tactile balance (body and roundness). I also received a 12oz bag of beans. 

I got an e-mail two days prior to the event to remind me to eat before the class because I was going to drink lots of coffee. :-). I am glad I followed their instructions because I don't think the lining of my stomach could have survived this class without food.

The class is held at their training facility, which is located next door to the coffee shop. This room is where Temple trains their baristas before going into the floor. If my memory does not fail me (I am sure Temple will, if I am mistaken), future Temple baristas are required to train for a 100hrs, 5 days a week, 8hrs a day. I am sure they will not put a not qualified barista in the floor, after all it is their reputation what it is at stake. 

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The instructor for the class was Cole, and our main barista was Kelly. They were excellent, Cole has a lot of knowledge, and the explanations were simple and effective. I stated in this blog before that making coffee is an art. Temple respects it. 

The class has a 20 person maximum however I don't know how would they manage that amount of people  because we were 11, and it was a good turnout. 20 people in that room… sardines in a can. 
©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

We got the good, the bad and the ugly of espresso making. These are some of the facts that stood out for me in this class.

  There is no X in Espresso (I thought it was a very witty comment).
❤  Espresso needs to be drank right away after being made. 
❤ The color of the crema tells us if the beans were under extracted, over extracted or just right, but it doesn't mean if the espresso is going to taste good or not.
❤  Geisha Beans are a very high end beans, very rare. It is a very temperamental bean that thrives in high altitudes. If interested Temple sells it during Christmas time. 

I would recommend the class for espresso drinkers because this population will get a lot out of it. I enjoyed the class, all the knowledge, and watching Kelly preparing all the espressos. 

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I am going to follow Cole's recommendation: "Get things in to perspective - Do you like it?". 
My palate is not made for espressos. I could tell the difference between the different beans, however it went from less bitter, to more bitter, to.. I am sorry I can not drink this (Ethiopian). I did not taste anything fruity, floral or nutty. I do understand it is teaching my palate to differentiate the flavors but I know my stomach will not tolerate that type of punishment. I am sticking to my cafe latte. 

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After the class, I went to their coffee shop, which is next door, and I got my cafe latte with a pastry, of course. I sat down outside in their patio. They brought my drink outside, and it was beautiful. I totally enjoyed my visit to this Temple. It will not be my last class, nor my last cafe latte. 

Great job Temple!!

Bon Appetit!!!

❤ Natalia ❤

©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.
Temple Coffee And Tea


Retail  |  Midtown  |  2829 S Street, Sacramento, Ca 95816  |  916.454.1272
Retail  |  Downtown  |  1010 9th Street, Sacramento, Ca 95814  |  916.443.4960
Retail  |  Arden Arcade  |  2600 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Sacramento, Ca 95864  |  916.974.7404
Roasterie  |  2827 S Street, Sacramento, Ca 95816  |  916.454.1282
Training and Education  |  2825 S Street, Sacramento, Ca 95816  |  916.454.1282

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Empanadillas de Atun y Huevo - Tuna and Egg Empanadillas

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Empanadas are a very popular dish in Latin America. In Spain we call them Empanadillas. The most famous ones are Empanadillas filled with tuna and egg, however they can be prepared with other ingredients, depending on the family's taste. Our favorite ones are empanadillas de atun y huevo.

The package has 12 individual dough pastry. I prepare them all, however I only fry four of them, and the rest to the freezer. Four is plenty to eat for one person because they are very filling, and let's don't forget fattening because it is deep fried. 

The term that we use in Spain for the dough is "obleas de empanadillas" however in the package it says "Tapas de Empanadas", and that's the term that I am using in the ingredients list. The packaging is from Mexico, and if this is something that you want to try, "Tapas de Empanadas" is what you will look for in any of the Latin Stores. 

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Bon Appetit!!!
❤ Natalia ❤

Tuna and Egg Empanadillas for two people
©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

♥ 8 Dough for turnover pastries, Tapas de Empanadas
♥ 1 Tuna Can (5 oz, 142g)
♥ 1 Small can of tomato sauce (5 oz, 227g)
♥ 1 egg
♥ 1/2 cup of olive oil
♥ Pinch of sugar
♥ Pinch of salt

I take the dough out of the freezer in the morning, and I put it in the fridge to defrost. The dough needs to be pliable, and not frozen.

    ©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.
I boil the egg for 10 minutes, in a pot with water. After the egg is done. Peel and chop into small pieces.  Let it cool.
I open the tuna can. I toss the water and/or olive oil found inside the can. I put the tuna in a bowl, and I mince it. 

 ©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

I add the egg, half of the tomato sauce, sugar and salt mixing the ingredients together. I put more tomato sauce if the mixture it is too dry. I add the rest of the tomato sauce, being careful not to make it too runny.

 ©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.
Open the package of dough. Each sheet of dough is separated by a film of plastic. I use that plastic to separate them. I put them in a flat surface. I fill the middle of the dough with the mixture.
I fold them in half, and with the help of a fork I close them by pressing all around the edges with the teeth of the fork. 

 ©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.
I add the 1/2 cup of olive oil to the frying pan. I turn the stove to a medium-high heat. When the olive oil is hot (not smoking, that's too hot). I put the 4 empanadillas. I turn the empanadillas around when he frying side is golden. I do the same for the other side. 
Once both sides are golden, I take them out to a plate with paper towels. The paper towels will absorb the extra oil. 

I let them cool off for a little bit, and then…they are ready to eat.

©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Strain Trilogy

The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
"A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.
In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . .
So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city--a city that includes his wife and son--before it is too late."

What a great trilogy. I got curious about these books after seeing the TV Show "The Strain" in the FX Channel. I got really intrigued when I read that the series was based a book with the same tittle. 

The first episode of "The Strain" totally freaked me out, to top things out the series airs Sunday nights, so any noise in my house made me jumped. The following morning I told the people I work with about this series… well.. let's say that I am not the only sissy around. One of the nurses I work with could not sleep that night either. LOL. 

Let's get this fact out of the bag, this is a vampire book, they call them "Strigoi" in the books, but this vampires are not Erick Northman from True Blood, Count Chocula (whom I would bite), or even the cutie "Count Dracula" from Sesame Street. 

These are some nasty, eewwww looking, bloodsuckers Strigolis. Forget about the romance of "Twilight", you want to be very far away from these things. I could not put down these books. I wanted to know what happened to the people in the plane, where their Master, and the Ancients came from, and what's going to happen to the planet, because this was a pandemic of enormous proportions. 

In the same line as the zombies where infected in the World of Z movie & book. 

Once infected with the vampire virus the only way out of this is by being decapitated or burn in daylight (crosses, garlic, and holy water do nothing to this creatures). The explanations of this book are very detailed, from how the parasites get and transform humans into the new Strigolis, to every fight scene. 

The end was totally unexpected. It is a happy-sad ending trilogy, however it makes sense the way the plot was moving . I don't want to give it away. I don't want to spoil the fun of such an entertaining reading. 

New category in my Kindle: Scared to death. 

Enjoy the reading!!
❤ Natalia ❤

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Estelle's Patisserie - Sacramento, CA

©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.
Last Saturday I went to Estelle's Patisserie with one of my friends, Traci. I read about this place in the Sacramento Magazine, and also from other people who said it was a very good place.

I love coffee, and as I stated in one of my early postings in this blog: "I always get seduced by Fine European Pastries".
This patisserie is very American-French, shabby chic. I can see the appealing of it.  It is spacious, with a lot of comfortable sitting, which reminded me of the Health Spas Sunrooms from the early 1900s. Very simple and elegantly decorated.

I ordered a cafe latte, a turkey and cheese sandwich to eat in the place, four strawberry macaroons and a lemon tart to go. It was very difficult to select one of the pastries, because everything looked delicious.

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The little details set the mood for the whole experience. These were my favorites:
 The Staff was very polite and courteous.
♥ The order is brought to your table.
♥ The cutlery is not plastic.
♥ The coffee cup is porcelain, very European style.
♥ The napkin very thick and elegantly decorated.
♥ The music is not too loud.
♥ There is plenty of seats to choose from.

My least favorite:
❀ Parking is challenging. There is one hour and two-hour street parking, and also the Capitol Public Parking a few blocks down the store, walking between 5 and 10 minutes. My friend Traci phoned Estelle's, and they admitted that the parking was challenging. We expected it. 

I didn't use the ladies' room, and/or brought my laptop so I have not comment about them, but I would be very surprise if they don't have clean restrooms and/or free Wi-Fi.
©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

The Coffee and the Food:

Making coffee is an art… the coffee was okay, for being a cafe latte, slightly strong.

The sandwich was very tasty. I requested wheat bread, which was spongy and moist, normally with turkey, the sandwich might be dry, but this one was not.

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I like the look of macaroons, however I am not a huge fun of their taste, too sweet for me. I do think they look very appealing, don't they? 

The lemon tart was still too sweet for me, but this is not a flaw of the place, it is my taste. European pastries are not as sweet as in the United States.

The lemon tart was firm, and it  melted in my mouth, in an explosion of acidity from the lemon and sweetness from the sugar. I really enjoyed the crust. The pastry was light, but I would not recommend eating the whole thing in one setting. It has a very respectable size, and sugar overload might happen. I learned this… the hard way. Glutton me!! 

I personally would recommend this place. I had a really good time with Traci, chatting and eating good food in a very pleasant environment. A little taste of cottage charm in the middle of Sacramento. I will go back for sure.

À bientôt
❤ Natalia 

©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.
©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

©2014 The Pink Macaroon. All rights reserved.

Estelle's Patisserie
901 K Street
Sacramento, California 95814
(916) 551-1500
Mon-Fri 7am-5pm
Sat 8am-4pm
Sun 8am-4pm