SF Sundays – Summer Time!

It’s been a while since it’s been safe to head out and about around the Bay again. Plus, I moved across the Bay Bridge, which has me going between my hometown of San Francisco and my new home in Contra Costa County. With that, expect a lot of East Bay shenanigans. Who’s ready?

TOWN HAPPENINGS

The Guo Pei Couture Fantasy exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco is the exhibit not to be missed this summer! Guo Pei is China‚Äôs most renowned couturier. Her creations for the last 20 years have been donned by the everyday successful businesswoman, brides looking for a one of a kind wedding gown, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and celebrities such as Rihanna in the iconic yellow gown at the 2015 Met Gala.

Every piece has a unique story, took thousands of hours to create, and will simply put you in awe of her genius. She takes materials such as silk threads, copper ornaments, resin sequins, and Swarovski crystals, just to humbly name a few, to come up with these masterpieces!

Her main collections are beautifully set up throughout the museum but start downstairs through the many rooms showcasing her collections and work your way upstairs to see her iconic pieces among the museum’s permanent exhibits. Visiting this exhibit once just doesn’t do it justice!

So if you’re a Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) member or a Bay Area resident, your exhibit admission can be free. You just have to book your timed tickets online like everyone else. Trust me though, this exhibit is worth every penny to check out before it’s gone in September.

Here are a few other happenings in the Bay for you to check out this summer:

LET’S EAT

Can’t remember the last time I was at the Hard Knox Cafe on Clement Street in San Francisco but I walked in with friends and a massive craving for waffles.

Let me tell you, this place does not disappoint. The staff was gracious, the food was delicious, and the atmosphere was warm. The waffle was spot on, fluffy, crispy, and tasted homemade. We of course ordered the spicy fried chicken and lots of fries to go with it. My taste buds thanked me, everything was so divine!

Across the bridge at my office in Dublin, I was super stoked to find Ike’s Sandwiches just a few minutes away. I’ve gone back to see where else I can escape from the office too and came across Sri-Thai Restaurant. Not seeing it on the menu, I asked about one of my favorite dish, pumpkin curry. Yes, they serve it all year long! I no longer have to wait until fall to indulge my cravings for it. Their pumpkin curry may not be the best I’ve had but it still hit the spot. I’ve also tried their take on the classic yellow curry which was pretty good. Their service is friendly and they have both indoor and outdoor seating. Yay!

What are your summer plans? Do share below!

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above-mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored rants are always based on actual experiences and/or interests. If you’d like me to check out a local event or eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.

Recipe: Sauteed Chicken and Mushrooms with Quinoa

If you know me, you know that “Hala” and “diet” don’t go in the same sentence. So I wouldn’t say I’m on a diet, but I’m pushing myself to eat better for my health. And better doesn’t mean boring or flavorless, not in the slightest!

I’ve been playing around with some of my favorite go to recipes and ingredients to come up with this delicious yet healthy dish. Sauteed chicken and garlic mushrooms, atop tri-colored quinoa with a side of salad mixed with home made goat cheese dressing. It barely took 30 minutes to prepare and cook, so it’s excellent as a weekly meal prep option.

Sauteed Chicken and Mushrooms
2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, optional to cut into halves or cubes
6 cremini mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, optional
Quinoa
1 cup tri-colored quinoa
2 cups of water
Salad and Dressing
1 romaine lettuce, chopped
3 vined tomatos, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 tablespoon of goat cheese
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
1/2 teaspoon of tajin
salt and pepper to taste

Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides while the olive oil heats up in a saucepan. You can bring the heat a few notches lower before adding the chicken, letting it saute through for about 5-7 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. Set the chicken aside and use the same pan to saute the mushrooms for about seven minutes before adding the garlic. You may add another tablespoon of olive oil and lightly season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add the chicken and let it cook for another 5-7 minutes, making sure to taste should you need to add any more salt or pepper.

In a small saucepan or pot, warm the quinoa for a minute before adding the water. Bring to a boil like you would rice or lentils before lowering the heat. Lid the pot and let it cook for about ten minutes.

In a big bowl, start making your dressing. Add the goat cheese, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, and tajin and mix with a fork. The goat cheese should break down to the texture of your choosing. Dressing is good for up to a week in the fridge. Chop the lettuce and add it to the mix, that way the lettuce is coated with the dressing. Mix again after adding the diced tomatos and cucumbers.

The whole process shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes. If there are any leftovers, package the chicken and mushrooms, quinoa, and salad separately in airtight tupperware. Should last you at least four days in the fridge. But let’s be honest, this is so good, it won’t last that long!

Belhana welshefa! Buon appetito! Enjoy!

SF Sundays – Summer Has Just Begun

It’s September already? Where has the summer gone? Wait, it’s the San Francisco Bay Area, summer has just begun!

This is also the perfect time to remind one and all to get vaccinated, wear your masks, and keep your distance. This Delta variant is scary and we need to do our part to curb this pandemic once and for all. So let’s get our act together and keep our summer going, safely.

TOWN HAPPENINGS

Are you a history buff? Do you love all things Egypt? Did you know that the largest collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts and replicas in Western North America is right here in the Bay Area?

The Rosicrucian Park and Museum is literally hidden in plain sight in San Jose. The Egyptian Museum, run by Egyptologists and volunteers, is very well curated. It is not as small as I initially thought because I was in there for a good couple of hours. The entire park takes up a city square block! Surrounding the museum is a temple, peace garden, a planetarium, and a labyrinth. The temple and planetarium are still closed but I can only imagine the magic that awaits my next visit.

Many of course asked me questions (because apparently all Egyptians are also Egyptologists) like where did these artifacts come from. I had two words, “colonialism” and “thift”. Many of these at the Rosicrucian Museum were donated by many museums in Europe, none I saw were from Egypt directly. There were also replicas of known artifacts and places in Egypt, like the tunnel into a pyramid within the museum.

Here are a few things still open for us to enjoy this summer:

LET’S EAT

With restaurants reopening, I’m still hesitant to go for indoor dining. So the more outdoor or take out options, the better! Since I’ve been talking about San Jose, it only makes sense to remind you all of some of the best pho spots in the South Bay.

In the heart of the Little Saigon neighborhood, off the Grand Century Mall on Story Road, is a small restaurant with a lot to offer. With plenty of outdoor seating, a wide selection of pho for all taste buds, and a fantastic staff! Seriously, I can’t recommend Pho 90 Degrees enough.

I had come here many times with friends but never more than 2-3 people. So imagine a group of eight who may or may not have tried pho before coming in with many questions and dietary needs. The team was extremely kind, courteous, and surprisingly fast with our order. The food of course, is on a whole other level. I salivated over my bowl of mouth watering chicken pho, washing it down with some great iced coffee.

Again, as we head back out on our foodie adventures, I urge you to be courteous to the restaurant management and staff. I’ve seen a few struggling with reopening regulations, limited staff, readjusted hours of operations, and even limiting the capacity for safety and service reasons. We are all in this together so let’s remain calm, kind, courteous, and hungry.

What are you trying again with the reopenings happening across the Bay Area? Do share your thoughts below.

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above-mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored rants are always based on actual experiences and/or interests. If you’d like me to check out a local event or eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.

SF Sundays – Let’s Try This Again

Happy Father’s Day!! I hope this finds all the wonderful humans who are father figures in our lives enjoying their well-deserved day of rest, fun, and breakfast in bed. Yes, dads deserve breakfast in bed too!

This is also the perfect time to reignite the SF Sundays rant series. The last time I wrote for the rant series was right before the second state-wide shutdown in December. As summer approaches, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. San Francisco is one of the first major US cities to have over 80% of its eligible residents either fully or partially vaccinated. Most of the Bay Area, along with California, officially reopened last Tuesday!

As I type this, I’m excited but still as cautious as ever. With this rant, I hope to see a better and new normal. So let’s try this again and see what’s going on in the Bay Area.

TOWN HAPPENINGS

Max Field BalaGreetings from San Francisco mural

If you’ve got the kids this summer, time to impress them with some fun activities around the city. I was the cool auntie to my nephew a couple weeks ago when I took him out on a sunny day from Ghirardelli Square to Pier 39.

He LOVED the Cartoon Art Museum and seeing the history of animations and comic books’ superheroes. Currently, they are showcasing artwork reflective of George Takei’s graphic memoir, “They Called Us Enemy”. Later this summer, the museum will host an exhibit showcasing costumes and props from the Batman movies. We got a sneak peek and it looks promising.

We headed around the corner to Umbrella Alley. A fun outdoor alley with interactive murals by local artists for all your Instagram and photographic delights! From there, we strolled through Fishermen’s Wharf, where slowly but surely, local shops, eateries, bus tours, and boaters were reopening and welcoming everyone back.

Other fun things to do and check out this summer:

Wangechi MutuOutstretched, 2019

LET’S EAT

With restaurants reopening for both indoor and outdoor dining, I’m readly to back out on my foodie adventures, discovering renewed local spots while continuing to support my favorites. Personally thought, I’m not comfortable dining indoors. However, I’m glad that there are still so many options for those still hesitant like me.

So where am I going?

Shout out to my favorite take-out spot, Old Mandarin Islamic in San Francisco. It’s one of the few halal Chinese spots in the Bay and they’ve gotten better over the years. They still have the outdoor parklet and limited indoor seating so I’m comfortable heading back out there (and I’ll try to remember to take pictures before I dig, I promise!).

Vegan and halal? Yes please! I’ve got to head back to Grandeur Oakland for those amazing adobe chicken wings! They have a great vegan selection, including the cauliflower wings which were just as good with the amazing selection of sauces.

As we head back out on our foodie adventures, kindly be courteous to the restaurant management and staff. I’ve seen a few struggling with reopening regulations, limited staff, readjusted hours of operations, and even limiting the capacity for safety and service reasons. We are all in this together so let’s remain calm, kind, and courteous.

What are you trying again with the reopenings happening across the Bay Area? Do share your thoughts below.

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above-mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored rants are always based on actual experiences and/or interests. If you’d like me to check out a local event or eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.

Have you been to the Black Muslim Food Week in the Bay Area yet??