Category Archives: Health & Beauty

Hello, Hoshigaki Season 

All over Instagram and in professional kitchens around California, we are seeing rows and rows of hanging, bright peeled persimmons. And if like many, you’re wondering what this current Hoshigaki trend is all about, it’s actually a very old, traditional practice and a Japanese word meaning dried persimmons.

My friend and award-winning Bay Area writer Carolyn Jung went deep into discussing Hoshigaki and its use among Bay Area chefs in an article this week in the SF Chronicle. You can read it at: Hoshigaki time: Bay Area chefs embrace elaborate Japanese dried persimmons. And for more pics on Bay Area chef’s Hoshigaki displays, check out Inside Scoop’s recap at: Hoshigaki: The Bay Area’s breakout social media stars of winter 2015.

Pictured above: Hoshigaki hanging in the NINEBARK kitchen

(photo: moelopez)


Urban Remedy Retreat – Carmel Valley Ranch

Urban Remedy - Carmel Valley Ranch - Therapeutic Bath


With all the indulging and multitasking in every day life, we often forget how important it is to take a moment, or a long weekend to relax and completely get away from it all. A break from life’s noise is not only nourishing and necessary for the body, but also for the mind and spirit. This is why I’m so looking forward to escaping to one of my favorite destinations in California soon. Carmel is approximately a two-hour drive from San Francisco, an hour from Silicon Valley, and a place very close to my heart. It’s also the location I’ll be attending Urban Remedy’s Detox Retreat at The Ranch.

Carmel Valley Ranch Hotel

Carmel Valley Ranch is a 500-acre luxury resort that offers a true nature retreat with panoramic views of mature oak trees and the lush Carmel Valley.  I can’t wait to take a breather in the hundreds of miles of hiking trails and at one of the nearby beaches to hopefully catch a beloved Pacific coast Rothko sunset.


Urban Remedy embodies the belief that Food is Healing, and at the Urban Remedy Retreat, we’re going to delight in healthy meals and also learn how to make them. I’m really awaiting the visit to the on-site organic garden and attending a Q & A about organic farmstead practices and growing with Carmel Valley Ranch’s own Organic Farmer Mark Marino.

Meet the resident Artisans at:

Carmel Valley Ranch.

Neka Pasquale – the host for the retreat, is a licensed acupuncturist and the founder of Urban Remedy. She released the Urban Remedy Book earlier this year and is a huge believer in the power of raw foods and juicing. In as little as three to five days of resetting nutritional habits, she’s witnessed huge and positive changes in client’s health.

I’m personally excited to see how I physically and mentally feel after the detox weekend. In my world and profession, it’s unrealistic to eat raw on an every day basis, but I can take breaks from my usual dietary and work schedule and give this nourishing gift to myself. Balance. It’s all about balance.

Urban Remedy - Carmel Valley Ranch Salad

 “A retreat is time we take away from our everyday stresses in life to focus on ourselves. Taking a break from social media, our phones, eating unhealthy foods and the hustle and bustle of modern life. It is a time to create intention to go within and connect with your spirit and receive the messages of your soul. It is a reset where we eat nourishing and cleansing foods and juices that heal and balance the body. A retreat is a gift to yourself that supports overall wellbeing mentally, physically and spiritually.” - Neka Pasquale, Founder of Urban Remedy.


To attend or learn more about the retreat and property, visit:

Carmel Valley Ranch

Urban Remedy Detox Retreat


Feeding the Soul and The Senses – Todi, Italy

Food Fashionista Torre Olivola Todi Italy 6

Being aligned with Mother Nature makes my soul feel alive, whether hiking unpaved dirt paths in the Hawaiian rainforests or swimming in the crystal clear, aqua blue waters of the Caribbean surrounded by sea turtles. When I am in close proximity to my environment – whether it’s on land or in the sea – I feel nourished from the inside out. In fact, I believe that the way the earth nourishes us is Mother Nature’s greatest gift to us all.

I’ve tasted food all around the globe, from three­-star Michelins in Europe, to the break­-of­-dawn sushi counters at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo to ripened, organic Japanese persimmons from my Uncle’s backyard in California. Although each of these three experiences varied considerably, they are all linked by a common thread: the use of fresh, high­-quality ingredients. There is something so invigorating and satisfying about enjoying a meal straight from the source, with food that is seasonal and locally grown in the region where you are living or visiting.

Food Fashionista Torre Olivola

On a magical, unforgettable visit trip to the region of Umbria, Italy, I felt a strong connection to the surrounding land and all that was cultivated on it. Not only did I gain a full understanding and knowledge of what it was like to live off the land, but I learned what it was like to live abundantly off the land. At a dear friend’s twelfth­-century villa, Torre Olivola in the medieval town of Todi, I was surrounded for miles in all directions by landscapes you would only see in the most picturesque paintings.

Food Fashionista Torre Olivola Todi Italy

Lush, well­-tended gardens of fresh fruits and vegetables, just steps from the historic country side villa, were lit up with the vibrant colors of the tomatoes, radicchio, eggplants, bell peppers, and blood oranges. In every area of this vast, serene, tranquil paradise were perfectly placed benches or sets of tables and chairs where one could sip morning tea or cappuccino while basking in the glory of it all. It was a heavenly way to start the day, with the toasty sun rays shining down upon you, the sound of chirping birds, the rustling foliage, and the breath of the crisp, unpolluted wind whispering sweet nothings and reminding me this was all real, not a dream.

Food Fashionista - Torre Olivola

A five­-minute walk led me to a honeybee colony where these hard-working, vitally necessary, tiny buzzing critters would labor all day, 24/7, creating their sweet pollinated gifts from the floral nectars. This magnificent honey, golden in color, with a creamy, yet thick and silky smooth consistency, was delectable on the artisanal walnut bread, produced by the local Italian baker, or drizzled over yogurt and fresh bright peaches, plums, and strawberries in the morning. I felt true appreciation towards the worker bees for all their generous and hard work. With one drop of magnificent zest from the luxurious honey, you could tell they put their heart and soul into their sweet creation.

Food Fashionista - Torre Olivola - Todi Italy

In Italy, they love to eat. The whole visit, I knew I was in the right place. Slow food, real food, good food – that is what our days consisted of from morning to night.  Even though we were eating three­-to five­-course meals for lunch and dinner daily, I never felt overly stuffed or uncomfortable, and I never regretted eating anything – none of this wonderfully tantalizing food was “bad” for me.

Food Fashionista - Torre Olivola - Seafood

In addition to our mealtimes, the Europeans have this lovely thing called siesta, which in my opinion is a politically correct term that other nations should freely adopt. If more people had it, there would be a greater sense of enjoyment to one’s day and life. Siesta is a time for rest after a mid­day meal. It allows you to have enough time to come home during your work day and enjoy a real meal, instead of being rushed, stuffing your face as you stand looking at the clock ticking away the last dreaded second of your sixty­-minute lunch break. It allows you to have time to prepare a quality meal and to spend that time with the people you love, so that when you go back to work later in the afternoon, you feel rejuvenated, satisfied, and ready to get back to your duties.
Food Fashionista Torre Olivola 5

Torre Olivola was surrounded by leafy, branched olive trees that provided shade from the sunlight that stretched across Umbria to the Tuscan border. More importantly, these olive trees produced the most succulent olives that were hand­-picked and later cold­-pressed, yielding the finest­-quality, extra-virgin olive oil in varying rich green hues. We savored the olive oil with a number of accompaniments, such as fresh crusty Italian bread, tomato and garlic bruschetta, and pasta (al dente, of course). We also brushed it over fresh local seafood and vegetables, like sautéed mushrooms, grilled eggplant, and blanched green beans. The tasty, fruity aromas of succulent, high-quality olive oil are not its only reward; the health and beauty benefits attributed to olive oil, with its polyphenols and anti­oxidants, are a welcome added bonus of this Italian staple as well.

Food Fashionista Torre Olivola Todi Italy 4

As far as the eye could see, and from a glance out of almost every window at Torre Olivola, were breathtaking views of stretches of vineyard. Grapes are known as “the fruit of the gods” and in Italy, wine is not only enjoyed, it is worshipped. At this ancient fortress where I was staying, the vineyard grapes were delicately hand­-picked, produced, bottled, and aged at just the right altitude in the finest oak barrels. These barrels were stored in the villa’s remarkable underground cantina, creating the most magnificent 100 percent merlot. Along with the villa’s main dining room, it was here in the cantina with the wood­-burning stove and the hanging, curing cinta senese (Italian black pig) that we clinked each other’s wine glasses over the most incredible rustic home­-cooking. The meals were also a rich visual feast with tables adorned with colorful Grazia majolica ceramic dishes from nearby Deruta, and organic centerpieces created from the gardens’ harvest.


Food Fashionista - Torre Olivola Todi Italy 2

About a mile away was the property’s farm of free­-range black pigs that produce the most superior charcuterie. These free­-range pigs are acorn­-fed and are considered the most elite of the swine. Even the top local restaurants purchased the meat from the villa’s farm. Nearby farms supplied parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino, provolone, taleggio and sheep’s milk cheese along with hand­-crafted, preservative­-free butter. My favorite cheese, burrata, which is a creamy mozzarella was picked up at an unassuming, yet wondrous spot just off the highway on the way to Todi. Cheese was a part of every meal: shaved parmesan over vegetable soup; warm taleggio, provolone, and sliced pear crostini; and the classic caprese salad with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.

Food Fashionista - Todi Italy Torre Olivola

Of the four seasons in Italy, there isn’t one that doesn’t hold some allure for me, but a particularly cherished time of year is “truffle season” ­­- months when the underground growing fungi reach maturity, and are ready to be discovered by well­-trained dogs or sniffing hogs. These tartufi (as the Italians call them) come in several forms, including the more prevalent black, and the rare, highly sought­-after, and pricey white form. Umbrian black truffles are usually hunted from November to March, while white truffles are usually found from October to December. I absolutely delight in the fragrant white truffles and always feel so blessed when I can consume them in any way, over tagliatelle or atop scrambled eggs. With a touch of white truffle, I never want or need any other spice to conflict with the pure aphrodisiacal taste. It’s like superior­-quality raw fish;  you don’t want to mask or drown the flawless essence of flavor with soy sauce. Truffles are a true gift from the earth, definitely one of the highest on the food chain as far as I’m concerned.

food fashionista torre olivola wine

Besides the astounding natural company I was surrounded by – honeybees, olive trees, grapevines, black pigs, fungi growing underground, and a multitude of vegetative growth – the time spent at Torre Olivola was made even more ideal by the authentic, loving, fellow gourmands who shared this edible genuine splendor with me.  They were inspirational people who had lived fully and well, and I aspired to be like them. We delighted each day in fascinating conversation that ranged over such topics as art, music, travel, politics, and the list goes on. Not only was my stomach being well­-sustained, but my mind was actively feasting during our daily meals together. From hearty farro soup, to warm radicchio salad with parmesan slices and balsamic vinegar, to the vibrant seven­-item tuna salad that resembled a garden party, I held dear to the fact that great company makes great food taste even better. This was and will always be a treasured time with awe­-inspiring friends over excellent meals and wine.

food fashionista - torre olivola Todi Italy Salad

So what did I bring back home from this experience that can be applied to everyday life? While eating sustainable, unprocessed food has always been my priority, my time in Torre Olivola reminded me that simple is often superior. The key to optimal cooking starts with quality ingredients. Never underestimate the value of mealtime and treasured time spent with loved ones. I understand that not everyone can dine in a twelfth­-century castle with a neighboring farm of black pigs and vineyards; that’s not my daily reality either. But I constantly aim to make conscious choices about the food I am purchasing and putting into my body since that is my castle. No matter where one lives, you can establish a habit of supporting your local farmers, and even growing your own produce. Eating fresh, healthy, and well-balanced meals is easier than you think and it truly does feed the soul and the senses.

Mika Takeuchi Food Fashionista Torre Olivola Todi Italy

This essay originally appeared in the book “Creating a Meal You’ll Love” with all proceeds going to Share our Strength – the leading nonprofit organization ending childhood hunger

Jurlique To The Rescue for the Holidays and New Year – San Francisco

Jurlique Fillmore Street San FranciscoDid you know that Christmas is less than a week away? Yes, you heard me right. The 25th is here in six days, and 2013 will be here in just about two weeks. With the year end and the holidays fast approaching, I’m sure most of you can relate to the twelfth-month stress syndrome! During this time, we are trying to connect with friends and colleagues at holiday parties, while coordinating those last-minute travel and family-visiting plans. On top of all this, we’re still not done with holiday gift shopping, and we’re attempting to tie up all those loose ends to start the new year off fresh.

Jurlique-san francisco - fillmore
With all this going on, it’s no surprise that we aren’t looking quite as fabulous as we could be. With late nights come festive times, which translate to lack of sleep, and not-so attractive dark circles. We’re also probably not drinking as much water or getting as much sleep as we should be. I know I’m guilty of this. And like Madonna, my skin is screaming…”Rescue Me”.
Good news, is that there is a helpful solution. For those of you who live in or near San Francisco, you can visit the Jurlique Wellness Day Spa and store at 2136 Fillmore. Enjoy a spot of tea and lavender cookies, while browsing all the holiday gift sets, or enjoying a much-needed beauty treatment. Jurlique gift sets are a true token of love, and your gift recipient (and their skin) will thank you for it. In addition to a flexible price point for every shopper, the gifts come beautifully wrapped and make quite the luxurious statement.
Now that I’ve helped with those last-minute gift ideas and beautifying-treatment tips, you’ll have to figure out who’s giving you that much-needed ride to the airport. Sorry, can’t help you there.
Jurlique San Francisco - Holiday Gift Sets
Holiday Sets are specially priced from $39-$225 (Regularly $56-$473)
A top seller includes the Age Defying Set
Purely Age-Defying Essentials

What every woman wants… luminous, more youthful-looking skin. Treat your skin with high performance anti-aging plant botanicals and potent natural ingredients to help to smooth wrinkles, firm and strengthen skin to deliver you youthful, even toned and luminous skin.
• Specially Priced at $125.00 Valued at $180.
The Set Contents:
• Facial Serum, 30ml
• Ultra Firm and Lift Cream, 50ml
• Eye Cream, 15ml
Key Ingredients:
• Beech Tree Bud Extract is rich in peptides, helps to strengthen the structure of the skin creating a firmer, healthier looking complexion.
• Rock Samphire Extract is rich in mineral salts and essential vitamins, is known for its retinoid-like ability to help support skin thickness and  reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
2136 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 346-7881

Happy 75th Birthday, Golden Gate Bridge – Love, Food Fashionista

Taken with Instagram – Golden sky, Golden Gate Bridge

This was a special weekend in San Francisco. It was our crimson icon's 75th Birthday. With a fireworks show that rivaled the most spectacular that many have witnessed in their entire lives, SF went all out for this memorable celebration.

We didn't really do her justice, but my dining companion made this tuna tartare dedication during our dinner at Bourbon Steak. Served using ahi tuna, this classic Mina dish is prepared with pine nuts, mint, sesame oil, and scotch bonnet pepper.

Food-fashionista-bourbon steak- golden gate bridge
We loved the GG Bridge so much, that we ate her.

Happy Birthday, Golden Gate. Thank you so much for being a reliable, sturdy neighbor all these years. You've trail blazed my ventures to the Wine Country and Marin year after year, and no matter how many times we've met, I've remained in constant awe of your beauty and stature.

With love and gratitude,

Food Fashionista

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