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Monday, April 23, 2012

Some of my Favorite People (and things)

Diane and Brian Campbell of The Candy Store

I feel like I was one of the first to discover The Candy Store because it's just a few blocks from my home. In fact I wrote a review of it almost five years ago, just months after it opened. And oh my, how far it's come since then! The store is compact, but carefully curated by the delightfully enthusiastic Diane and her husband Brian, a passionate burgeoning candy maker. Every time I visit the store there is something new and special to try from unusual Swedish candies to deluxe and nearly impossible to find chocolate bars made by a pastry chef. And that's in addition to the classics like wine gums, old fashioned marshmallow ropes, candy buttons, and more varieties of sours, licorice and gummies than you've ever imagined. Most recent accolades come from Target who chose their store as one of only five in the US for their store-within-a-store concept launching in May. Candy is one of the last great affordable luxuries, so visit their store on Russian Hill or this charming video featuring Diane, Brian and their store.

Daphne Mazarakis of Better Whey of Life Greek yogurt

Remember when Greek yogurt became all the rage? I did a review of all the ones I could find a little over three years ago. Since then, even more Greek yogurt brands have entered the market, but one in particular caught my attention. It was developed by Daphne Mazarakis, a Greek American, who used to work for Kraft but was looking for "a better way". Her yogurt has some real advantages versus most other brands. It is made from whey and has more protein, more calcium, more fiber, and is lower in sugar. But never mind all that, its most amazing benefit is how insanely creamy it is. The yogurt is low fat (only 1.5% fat) and yet tastes as creamy or creamier than other low fat varieties. There is no chalkiness and it's not too sour. I hope it will be more widely available soon, and in larger quantities. Right now you can find it in individual 6 ounce cups in just a few states.

Betty Teller of Betty's Amuse Bouche

I met Betty a few years ago at the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference in Chicago which is kind of funny since she lives not so far away, in Napa. Since then I've bumped into her in the Bay Area, but I feel like I am in touch with her on a more regular basis since I subscribe to her newsletter which is her column from the Napa Valley Register. Betty is a hoot; she's funny, chatty, insightful and a good cook. Her column/newsletter gives you a peek into whatever she is up to and her unique take on life up in Napa. Check out her columns online, if you enjoy them as much as I do, you'll want to subscribe to her newsletter so you can catch them all.

Cheryl Sternman Rule of Five Second Rule

I hate awards, I really do. But I am very happy for my colleague Cheryl Sternman Rule. For the past two years, Cheryl and Dianne Jacob and I have shared the stage at the Book Passage Travel Writers, Food Writers & Photography conference. Cheryl won the 2012 IACP award for best blog. She also has a new book out called Ripe all about the vibrant colors and flavors of fresh fruits and vegetables that I can't wait to check out. If you don't know her blog, do scurry on over to 5 Second Rule. She will also be at Omnivore Books on April 26th.

Michael Procopio of Food for the Thoughtless

Another pal of mine is Michael Procopio. We blogged at KQED's Bay Area Bites for years before I moved on to greener pastures. He has a truly unique voice that it seems the world is just now discovering--his writing is in the Best Food Writing of 2011 and he was recently featured in Bill Daley's article in the Chicago Tribune Dishing About Food Writing (one of seven writers your should know). His blog posts and recipes are always thoughtful, whether serious or silly and he is the only writer I know whose recipes are inspired by everything from the sinking of the Titanic to the candidacy of Rick Santorum. For a dose of dry wit, head over to his blog.