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Trader Joe’s Chocolate Brooklyn Babka

26 Jun

“We had that babka!” Jerry cried out to Elaine at The Dinner Party episode of Seinfeld.  Unfortunately for Elaine and Jerry, they had to settle for the cinnamon babka.

Thanks to Kat, my youngest sis, we ended up with the chocolate babkaContinue reading

Cafe Home Koreatown

17 Apr

This sizeable café has found a handy spot being right next to The Boiling Crab and The Boiling Crab To-Go, and whoever runs Cafe Home has got some shrewd business sense as the establishment has opened its doors to welcome customers from The Boiling Crab To-Go with the requirement that they order drinks.  Not a bad trade since The Boiling Crab is usually packed and that the next best thing is getting a to-go order and sitting somewhere nearby, and sitting in a place that sells drinks is convenient.  Cafe Home is that place. Continue reading

Shuei-Do Manju Shop

7 Jan

When we were in San Jose’s Japantown three years ago, we looked for the grocery store I used to go to when I lived in Downtown San Jose, near “J Town”, as an undergrad college senior.  All I knew was that the store was along Jackson St.  The reason for the grocery hunt was that I wanted daifuku.   Continue reading

Cottage Bakers Market

20 May

I learned about Cottage Bakers Market while searching for upcoming weekend events in Bellevue… that happened three weeks ago.  The first Cottage Bakers Market was held on May 4th and I’m glad that I attended.  On its website, there was a promotion for “free samples” and “free treats” and I’d be lying if I say that those weren’t the baits that got me, but besides the free treats, I was interested in seeing the vendors and their wares, and hearing about their stories, like Erin’s from Irish Rose Bakery and Arceli from OH MY FOODNESS.

I love marketplaces, with Pike Place Market in Seattle and Covent Garden in London being two of my favorites, so I couldn’t pass up checking out Cottage Bakers Market.  Marketplaces help invigorate communities and allow creative people to get together and show off their creations, and I wish there are daily marketplaces at the Eastside; at least we have the weekly farmers markets though.

Cottage Bakers Market’s coordinator, Felicia Foster, deserves recognition for her enthusiasm and great idea of bringing small business owners specializing in baked goods all in one place.  In my book, any event that accommodates people who enjoy making sweets and people with a sweet tooth is a fantastic event.

Cottage Bakers Market

How did your inspiration for coordinating the Cottage Bakers Market come about? 

The first spark of inspiration came from my brother and sister in law who own a small business selling cake toppers.  They knew of a temporary market in British Columbia where bakers could come sell their products.  I briefly toyed with the idea of opening my own little bakery business, but discarded that notion in favor of using my project management experience to organize the market event instead.

How long have you had the idea of promoting local small-business bakers?

Not long at all!  About 8 months ago I discovered the Washington State cottage kitchen community, created by the recently-passed Cottage Foods Law.  This Law allows the processing of certain foods in an inspected home  kitchen for sale directly to consumers.  After reaching out to several cottage bakers, I discovered a real demand for an alternative marketing avenue, besides farmers markets and craft bazaars.  From this realization, I knew the mission of the market needed to be the support and promotion of cottage bakers and other local small food businesses.

Was it a long process developing the idea and implementing the plan? 

With the decision to hold the first market in May of 2013, I had about 7 months to implement the plan.  I made a lot of task lists, talked to many helpful people in the industry, trusted my years of experience as a project manager, and most importantly, drew strength and inspiration from the excitement expressed by the vendors I approached.  In the process, the vendor lists grew to include small food businesses who worked out of rented commercial kitchen space, and not only home-based bakers.

Do you have a sweet tooth yourself?  What’s your favorite type of treat?

I have a weakness for coffee flavored desserts.  Tiramisu is a definite favorite… and so is Haagen-Dazs Coffee ice cream!

Are there any plans for expansion or hosting the event in other cities?

No plans at the moment, but if there is  continued support in the community and demand for artisan specialty baked goods, I am definitely open to expanding.  I would like to look into doing some outreach to spread the word about the Cottage Food Law because I think it offers unique and much-needed opportunities for self-employment.

When and where is the next Cottage Bakers Market event? 

The next one is on Saturday, May 11 at Northwest Arts Center in Bellevue. Then there is one scheduled for Nov. 2nd at the same location.  I am planning for a second date in November.  Our Facebook page will post updates to keep everybody in the loop.

Are there any groups or people you’d like to thank for helping you coordinate and help make your idea become a reality? 

Felicia Hill, the woman behind the Washington State Cottage Foods Law was very supportive.    I found a lot of practical marketing and business-related suggestions at and the owner Jennifer Lewis (based here in Seattle) always offered words of encouragement.  Jane and the staff at Northwest Arts Center provided invaluable day-of-event assistance.  My family has been a constant source of strength and inspiration!

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Felicia knows that it’s the vendors who are “the heart and soul of the Cottage Bakers Market” and says, “The passion they have for their craft is evident in their delicious goodies. I encourage folks to come and meet these artisans and support local small food business entrepreneurs!

Mark your calendars for the next Cottage Bakers Market event which will be on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at the Northwest Arts Center in Bellevue.  It’ll be a good time to buy your Thanksgiving dessert(s) so all you’d have to do is focus on the turkey and trimmings.  Unless you do enjoy making desserts, in which case, check out the Cottage Bakers Market to get your sugar fix and say hello to the vendors.

Oh My Foodness

13 May

The first ever Cottage Bakers Market event that took place during the weekend before Mother’s Day helped promote up-and-coming small business owners from the Eastside and from cities south of Seattle.  One of the vendors I chatted with is Arceli from OH MY FOODNESS.  The business name is pretty catchy, don’t you think.

I stopped by OH MY FOODNESS after being informed that the vendor is a local Hawaiian.  I’ve covered Hawaiian culture and foods for many posts now, such as Oahu and Big Island restaurants, and so I became interested in checking out the baked goods at OH MY FOODNESS.  What caught my attention?  The lemon bars!

OH MY FOODNESS samples

What is your inspiration for OH MY FOODNESS?

My inspiration for OMF is because as a mother of 3, it’s difficult to find treats with good, quality ingredients to satisfy our daughters’ sweet tooth.  So OMF uses better ingredients, that’s better for you and also tastes good.  I use certified organic ingredients & specialize in vegan baked goods.

OH MY FOODNESS

How long have you been baking?

I’ve been baking since I was in high school.

Where do you get your recipes from? Are they traditional or are they recipes handed down from family members or are they original creations?

I find recipes online, in books or get them from friends & family, but always “play” with the recipe & make changes to suit my taste.  With sugar being in most baked goods, I always try to reduce or substitute the amount used in recipes, but still come up with a product that tastes good.  The lemon bars recipe was given from a family friend, but my sister & I have made changes to make it taste the way it does today.

OH MY FOODNESS

How long have you lived in Washington State? Where did you live before Washington State?

My husband & I have lived in WA since 2001.  We moved here with one daughter and now we have 3 daughters.  I was born and raised in Hawaii (Oahu).

What are your favorite desserts, and which one would you consider a comfort dessert?

My favorite dessert is anything with lemon in it.  Thus, I have the lemon bars that is the most popular item I sell.

OH MY FOODNESS

What is your favorite restaurant and dessert place in the city where you are currently residing? And why?

I live in Pacific, which is a very small city so there isn’t a favorite restaurant & dessert place here for me.  However, my favorite restaurant is *Taste @ the SAM in downtown because they use fresh, local, ingredients.  My favorite dessert place is Hot Cakes in Ballard because they are certified organic and also use fresh, local, organic ingredients.  

Arceli credits the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Cottage Food Operation Program for the opportunity to be in business.  In regards to WSDA’s program, she says, “The WA State Cottage Food Operation permit has allowed me to start OMF from home, which I never thought I’d be able to do.  I am so grateful for it!  This still gives me time to be a stay home mom, homeschool our 2 younger children & bake in the comfort of my home at my convenience w/out having to pay for commercial kitchen space.  I hope more people become aware of the Cottage Food Operation to help those who cannot afford commercial space, but have a desire to start their business of selling baked goods from home.”

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OH MY FOODNESS is a product of Arceli’s enterprising spirit in combination with her passion for baking.  As a mother, Arceli’s concern for her daughters’ health has guided her into using quality and organic ingredients.  The lemon bars she make are subtly tart and just have the right amount of sweetness.  For those of you of you who like sugar on the soft side, the OH MY FOODNESS lemon bars will hit the spot.  Click on any of the photos and you will be directed to Arceli’s site at OH MY FOODNESS.

*Author disclaimer: I have actually already reviewed TASTE Restaurant here