St. Pete Coffee Tour

It’s Fall – not that it really feels like it here in St. Pete – but it does mean it’s #PSL season.

Pumpkins at Mazzaro's

Pumpkins at Mazzaro’s

So here’s to all the local coffee addicts and basic bitches out there. If you haven’t had you fall coffee fix yet, or even if you have, here’s a list to guide you to the best spots around St. Pete to get a cuppa.

Can you guess which coffee spot this is?

Can you guess which coffee spot this is?

The East Coast Coffee Tour was a journey and somewhat of a “how now shall we live” and since that question is never really answered, this is tangential to that post. 5 months later, things have changed. Duh. My coffee love however has not wavered.

I’m not going to lie, the greater amount of coffee shop vibes here in St. Pete was definitely a factor in my moving here. To bow down in respect I’m going to feature my favorite, and really the best in the area.


The newest spot to hit DTSP is Black Crow Coffee. Less than 5 weeks old, they’re a branch of Indian Shores Coffee Co. Perfectly located to succeed and I really recommend we make that happen. They’re posted up between a yoga studio and laundromat smack in the middle of the residential neighborhood. So whether you’re walking the dog, waiting for laundry, or looking to prolong your savasana – they are RIGHT there.

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hip, no?

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Look! They have pumpkin spice offerings!

Hip industrial chic/ antique-y decor and a record player that customers can treat like a jukebox from the old days reminds me of my old Brooklyn stomping grounds….who doesn’t want to feel like they’re a cool urbanite?

Headline - "Record Players Replace Jukeboxes Worldwide" Also, is the guitar glowing...?

Headline – “Record Players Replace Jukeboxes Worldwide”
Also, is the guitar glowing…?

Get a mug while you're at it. Put a bird on it?

Get a mug while you’re at it. Put a bird on it?

722 2nd St.


Considering this next spot’s location compared to the rest, they must be good to get all the hype they do. Craft Kafe is on Central Ave, but a ways away from DTSP (like 15 minutes driving, which really isn’t that big of a deal…). An 100% Gluten free bakery and cafe, but the food is actually pretty darn good, what else can you expect from Greek and Russian owners.

That's one badass wall with some pretty badass friends that accompany me on my expeditions

That’s one badass wall with some pretty badass friends that accompany on my expeditions

Since my family owned a Greek/Russian restaurant when I was a preteen (it’s gone now), I really hope for the best for this place. Sporting purposefully trendy raw wood and succulents, Craft Kafe still avoids the contrived feeling.

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Customers quickly become regulars and get excited about new gluten free creations gracing the pastry case. In regard to their food, from experience I’ll say the Chicken Avocado Cream sandwich and the Pizza hit the spot. As for coffee, it helps that they serve Buddy Brew (among others). Almost everything is housemade – Coffee, food, gelato….yeah, they have gelato.

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such a floppy plant.

such a floppy plant.

6653 Central Ave.

This one isn’t really a coffee shop per se , but they dedicate space to the art of craft coffee and a unique new business to hit St. Pete. Old Southeast Market opened its doors this year and have slowly been building up their offerings and become a community staple.

Great signage guys!

Great signage guys!

I always feel welcome here (thanks Jim!) and they’re coffee bar is small but really has everything you need if you’re the type that sees coffee as either regular or decaf (no fancy espresso here yet). 

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Co-Owner Jim is always behind the counter with a smile

Co-Owner Jim is always behind the counter with a smile

They’re not far from the USFSP campus or downtown. Plus, there’s a really fun little hump/bridge you get to drive over on the way there that gives you stomach butterflies. Grab a muffin and some black Buddy Brew coffee! 


Buddy Brew Coffee sneaking its way into St. Pete

Buddy Brew Coffee sneaking its way into St. Pete

1700 3rd St. S.


With all these new places to get your coffee from, I’m in awe of businesses that are still popular without compromising their identity. For coffee in St. Pete that is Mazzaro’s Italian Market. This place makes me happy, and I’m the type that goes to grocery stores for fun. They have everything a gourmet grocery store should have but with an Italian flair. There’s so much I could say about their offerings, but as they’ve been a community staple since forever and take up an entire city block, you should just go.

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Pretty cool little “cars”

This place is always bustling and I love watching regulars yell how many pounds of cookies/ pasta salad/ gelato they want over the counters, but after a winding path through the establishment leads me to the back I really just want to sit. That’s where the gourmet coffee bar comes in. In the middle of all this is a U-shaped bar where you can eat, but really it’s great for sipping espresso.

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2909 22nd Ave


This next one is like my fun aunt that has a mysterious past and a sense of humour. Brew D Licious is also on Central Ave, but on the hip 600 block.
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I first got a coffee here one summer (before I became a local) after visiting Daddy Kool Records across the street, and it was a perfect combination for me glean some understanding on what this town is about. Whether it’s just a stop on your morning walkabout or a destination in and of itself, the barista is always friendly, the coffee strong (or sweet!), and the vibes “living-room-chic” fun. Oh and they’re very dog friendly.

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667 Central Ave.

Let’s end with a local favorite. A name that is a whisper on the wind wherever you go, Kahwa Coffee is inextricably linked with St. Pete. As of now they have 8 locations serving their own coffee and food. One of my favorite things about them is that they use their Tampa Bay fame to promote local artists’ work in their cafes. Another reason you should choose them over Starbucks, they have  craft coffee drive through locations (!!!). Game over.

mmm...pound cake goes too well with coffee. something about all that butter coating the tongue...

mmm…pound cake goes too well with coffee. something about all that butter coating the tongue…

cute little mug set/ logo

cute little mug set/ logo

You also can't escape Mother Kombucha in this town - not that I'm complaining!

You also can’t escape Mother Kombucha in this town – not that I’m complaining!

Keep St. Pete local people.

When the student is ready…

Makeshift home studio means dogs playing around my ankles.

Makeshift home studio means dogs playing around my ankles.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. We start as being the hardest student we will ever need to teach, then move on to being the teacher to others. To be our own teacher we start by appearing to ourselves, which means being present. Only once we are present can we be open to external teachers. The hardest thing for me about being present is facing the truth; its scary not knowing what to expect and often that fear disguises the beauty that could be hiding in the truth. What the proverb has been lately for me is  “When the student is ready, the mirror will appear.”

Little coincidences bring us to the “right” teacher at the right time. After a year of trying to keep busy and avoid the truth, all the while bemoaning the lack of time to process “things”, the mirror has appeared.

During an especially hard time earlier this year my boyfriend dragged me out for lunch. We didn’t know where we were going, we were just going out. He drove to a part of town we didn’t frequent – at least not together, and both partook in a decent veggie burger. While he paid the bill (it was his idea after all) I wandered next door to a yoga studio. So far, nothing too crazy.

Back story real quick:

Practicing on and off, I’ve explored yoga studios in almost every city I’ve visited over the last 7 years. It’s only been in the last year that I’ve felt I needed to practice – at a studio, at the beach, in my living room, at friends’…anywhere. The only time I felt like I was truly seeing myself was when I was doing yoga.

Flash forward to that day after the decent veggie burger. There was a sign in the window touting “FREE YOGA” and just one woman sitting at the front desk. I pulled open the door and spent the next ten minutes discussing yoga and their work trade program with what ended up being the owner of the studio. It felt random, and I went home that day with the idea of trading my time for unlimited yoga swirling in my mind. It was perfect timing really – I had just gone to part-time at my job which meant more free time and less money for pricey yoga classes.

I ended up falling in love with their non-traditional style of teaching and worked there for 3 months, during which I increased my practice time in the studio and received invaluable exposure to different flows and like-minded yogis. I basically talked about yoga non-stop.

During my time there I had a few deep conversations with the owner about her journey to being a yogi and a yoga studio owner. She started as a fitness fanatic, where zoning out on the treadmill just didn’t cut it anymore. Her main realization of how different yoga was from the gym life was when she noticed the persistent lack of mirrors in the studios she practiced in.

My eyes glazed over as I thought back and realized “me TOO…no mirrors!”

At my new (amazing) studio in St. Pete there are actually mirrors. It seems its time to “deepen my practice” – a phrase that is bandied about vaguely, but for me means amplifying yoga’s ability to reflect reality. While I flow through the poses I’m alone with my thoughts, and when I look forward to the mirror I’m alone with my reflection as well.

Mirrors are pretty mystical you look in a mirror and scrunch your nose, and so does the person in the mirror. Is this impersonator trying to ridicule you? Or is this mirror a portal to a world where you can control others with your thoughts?

Model Behavior

Anyone remember this Disney Channel movie from 2000 with Maggie Lawson and Justin Timberlake?!

Trippy musings aside —

Yoga is a practice that unifies mind, body, and spirit – by doing so it allows you to be in tune with truth. Humanity constantly seeks truth while falling prey to vices that blind you to it. Those vices don’t always look like distractions – the 9-5 grind brings stability and money to pay your rent, so surely it’s not as bad as spending your days drunk over a bar, right?

Choosing to drag yourself to the mat is hard – physically the practice of yoga can make you drip sweat down your nose, and emotionally… the amount of times I’ve heard people attempt to stifle crying in Savasana is surprising. Not to mention the simple act of deciding yoga is a better use of your time than zoning out to The Food Network.

When the student is ready to choose “taking a good hard look at yourself” over Chopped…the rare yoga studio with mirrors appears down the street.


That’s all.

Shortbread Renewal

Lemon-Lavender Mini Shortbread Cookies

It’s summer, but mentally for me Spring is just beginning -that sense of change and potential. There are a lot of changes happening in my life right now – things coming to an end and exciting new beginnings. I’m moving, meeting new people, and having all sorts of new ideas.

All the aspects of my life that are changing include people I’ve grown to care about. Thinking about how wondrous it is to have strangers – who never factored into my thoughts before, become so valuable makes me want to share this sense of renewal with them. There’s the cliche of being given “a new lease on life” that really just means you think you have a chance to create a new set of rules and ensure their security. That sort of control isn’t truly possible, but we can acknowledge that new beginnings means endings. Endings tend to bring about retrospection and nostalgia – at least in sensitive folk like myself, but I’m not sad. Not one bit. As cheesy as it sounds, I am full of gratitude and compassion for the people and circumstances that have brought me to the changes happening right now.

I’m embracing my natural feminine aptitude to embody life and death. I am acknowledging the endings and taking a present role in creating.

These cookies are fresh, earthy and the perfect size for sharing.

And by the way, I’m not just sharing cookies, but with each bite size cookie I’m inviting you to my vantage point of possibility.


This recipe makes at least 3 dozen tiny crumbly mildly sweet cookies.


1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup powdered sugar ¼ cup granulated sugar
Zest of 4 lemons, divided 1/2 tbsp lavender buds, ground finely
1 tbsp vanilla extract Dash of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, zest of 2 lemons, lavender, vanilla, and salt.
  3. Mix in the flour until the dough comes together.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining lemon zest and granulated sugar with your fingers until fragrant. Set aside.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out shortbread until 1/4-inch thick.
  6. Sprinkle on the lemon scented sugar and lightly press it into the shortbread with the rolling pin.
  7. Cut out 1-inch shapes and transfer to a baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 7-9 minutes – depending on how big you cut your cookies.


The Coffee Pilgrimage…or #eastcoastcoffeetour

Following my last post, How to Lose – I wonder why we do things, or if life is just dealing with the fallout of decisions. Can we even call them decisions?

I encounter this idea as my health dips and swells, as my hopes for my future morph nightly, and as my relationships surprise me. It’s certainly better than a stagnant life, and as Heraclitus (and my MySpace page at age 14) said, “The only constant in life is change.” I feel time, and I’m starting to comprehend how it is possible to live as long as my grandmother and feel like there wasn’t enough time. This mental state is supposedly normal for a 22-year-old, a post-grad, and millennial – It’s why we have a group of people called hipsters, and why as a generation we pin our hopes for saving tradition on them. I care about locally sourced vegetables, hand thrown (by me) pottery, and most importantly craft coffee.

Black Tap Coffee. Charleston, SC.

Black Tap Coffee. Charleston, SC.

Marc Maron said it best at Oddball Comedy Festival last August when he said how painfully self-aware he feels each morning as he angrily waits for his water to boil, then slowly pours it over fresh coffee grounds. He’s angrier than most, but I feel similarly. My not-yet-caffeinated brain does not want to wait for its morning coffee, but something inside me insists on taking the time to go through the ritual. Now that the process is habituated, I revel in the wondrous scent that fills the kitchen while the coffee grinds, and the beauty of the coffee blooming as the first stream of water falls from my kettle. I realize it’s a luxury to revel in the slowness, but I also feel like I am absolved as I push aside my stomach rumbles and my head starting to ache to honor the process.

Lets not glamorize it, I’m a lost 22-year-old looking to the past for answers. What better way to fill a sense of self than a pilgrimage…so a coffee pilgrimage we did take.

Partner and photographer Steven Muncie at Swing Coffee in DC

Partner and photographer Steven Muncie at Swing Coffee in DC

It’s almost been a year since I graduated from college in New York, and since then I’ve felt like the further I get geographically, the larger the force field that repels me from the northeast grows.The force field repelling me coincidentally was also keeping me from the larger half of my family that live up there, and I couldn’t not see them anymore. I decided to travel up for the annual Greek Orthodox Easter shebang. There’s nothing more slow and traditional than the Orthodox church service followed by the slow roasting of a lamb. Before I even realized it was decided, Steven, Zoe, and I found ourselves packed into the car. We had an ambitious list of stops to make along the way – from Florida to Maryland we were going to stop at a handful of craft coffee roasters in each state. Here’s what we did accomplish on our great american #eastcoastcoffeetour.

Florida to Maryland Coffee Road Trip.

Weird logos, delectable baked goods, quirky hipsters, gentrified neighborhoods, warehouses, caffeinated politicians, and so so much espresso.


Buddy Brew

Home base. Where I go to get coffee when I’m not feeling adventurous. They always get the foam on my cappuccino right, and the baristas are always willing to chat. I regularly made the drive to Tampa until they opened up a location 10 minutes from my home.

Nestled under the stairs, there's always a nice breeze to relieve the Florida heat.

Nestled under the stairs, there’s always a nice breeze to relieve the Florida heat.

Bold Bean

Heard great things from people all over Florida about this spot. Very polished feel. Local art that I really liked. Cool people. Small town feel on the street. I feel a Florida coffee shop needs to have a perfected cold brew to beat the heat. I enjoyed their’s but not overwhelmed. Cappuccino was quite pretty, but not amazing.

Some for now, some for later.

Some for now, some for later.


Perc Coffee Roasters

Drove up to a warehouse with a faded black door. Just kinda walked in and was immediately in the middle of the coffee production process. Where they could have asked us to turn around and get out they instead offered to make us a pour-over of their Colombian — sweet, tropical, heavy, and roasted just that morning. Jonna, Perc “hustler” qualified that they may drink their coffee a little too fresh there. She patiently answered my steady flow of overly personal questions, explaining how she came to the world of coffee from the world of wine.

She embodied their mission to “make and share damn good coffee.”

Jonna's pour over just for us.

Jonna’s pour over just for us.

Charleston, South Carolina

Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer

Very hip. Outdoor garden embodied the simple charm of Charleston, with green vines covering the low stone walls. Doubles as a bar/ local music venue. Outstanding latte art.


Black Tap

Simple clean decor. Fresh feeling reinforced by the free cucumber water. Fun and friendly baristas. Self described “minimalist.” Most coffee shops try so hard to be inviting with plush seats, overflowing bookshelves and board games. not here.


Raleigh, North Carolina

Larry’s Coffee

Another warehouse we awkwardly strolled into. Something about being in the South makes this feel okay. A 21 year old company, they distribute to cafes, and markets throughout NC. Joel poured us a cup of their Frankie’s Blend, gave us a tour of the space and chatted with us about everything — from Coffee to Hockey to his dog walking business on the side. His favorite coffee by Larry’s is Fire in the Belly. Our favorite was the cold brew they rolled out last year – slightly sweet with a hint of orange.


Cafe de Los Muertos

A little over a year old, they have a lot to offer. Sticking to a strong theme. They have wi-fi, a kid’s corner, gluten-free baked goods. Mexican colas next to American ones. Lofted seating above. It was here that I gave in and bought a bag of their floral Yirgacheffe, roasted only 2 days before.

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Richmond, Virginia


It was a gloomy day in Richmond but VCU students were still walking the streets and Rostov’s bright yellow walls were refreshing and welcoming compared to the usual contemplative gloom of cafes. The narrow layout forced  us to walk past rows of coffee barrels and entry-level equipment for the at home coffee connoisseur.

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Black Hand

In existence since 2009, and at the location we visited in the museum district since 2012. Clay isn’t hiding any part of the process. They roast where they serve and cater mostly to grad students. Most popular drink? – the dirty chai, and I can attest that it was the best one I tried on this trip. Probably ever.

Chai Tea Latte on a rainy day

Chai Tea Latte on a rainy day

Washington D.C.

Swing Coffee Company

Roasting since 1916, it’s a classy joint. The wood paneling and business men dressed in suits almost make you feel like it’s an invite only coffee secret society, until you get in the long line. The employees were patient and friendly despite how busy it was, and it seemed like they genuinely enjoyed making our drinks. A simple coffee was tasty and crisp, that’s all I could ask for if I was a DC business man on a lunch break.

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Chinatown Coffee Company

Winner of strangest compliment – “Thank you for not being on your phone while ordering.” Apparently genuine human interaction in a DC coffee shop is a rarity, as are bagels after 11 am. Also a winner of best Cortado – very smooth.

Getting hopped up on the espresso in my cortado

Getting hopped up on the espresso in my Cortado

Baltimore, Maryland


A traditional coffee shop front slowly starts to feel like you’re in someone’s home as you move toward the back. There’s an outside patio in the back that embraces the traditional Baltimore backyard feel.

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Cherry blossom season in Maryland!

Almack’s Coffee (F/K/A Tribeca)

One of the most lively places we stopped at. Chairs were filled with young professionals having halfway decent conversations over coffee that baristas carefully guide you to select. We stared at the options listed on the board behind their heads for an uncomfortable amount of time, but they resiliently answered every question we threw at them. It seems this is an important factor on our journey.

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So did I learn any big life lessons on my trip? Initially, my biggest lesson was that it’s not that hard to get addicted to espresso, and it’s not a cheap habit. But. It’s taken me 2 months to sum up our trip and process the pilgrimage. Traveling is definitely tiring and it’s taken me this long to recover. Taking boundless energy puppy Zoe along definitely didn’t help on that front either.

Zoe-Magic Puppy-Schnoodle. Forsyth Park, Savannah, GA.

Zoe-Magic Puppy-Schnoodle. Forsyth Park, Savannah, GA.

Looking to the past and tradition for answers only taught me to look forward. That hope and faith in the future is what makes decisions what they are. Whatever we choose to have hope in, we just need to keep our eyes and hearts open. The future is a live concept that fluctuates with or without us, until our cup is empty.

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How to Lose

The vintage Scrabble box whence you came... @boldbeancoffee

The vintage Scrabble box whence you came…

You know that uneasy feeling when you finish a game of scrabble and give up your last hand of letters to be poured into the box with everyone else’s? You spend the entire game hoping for the perfect set of letters,for the highest level of points and recognition. With each round and drawing of letters your hopes rise and fall until all you’re left with is a pile of vowels that never had a chance.

Seems like a silly game to play, where you try so hard to get the perfect word, but it just ends with letters tumbling loudly into a dusty box.

Ownership, loss, memory, moments, time.

We say when training puppies away from bad behavior, that if we just distract them they will forget whatever bad act they were engaging in. But do they forget, or merely change their minds? What is it about being human that makes us plan time as if we can own it? Owning does not change something that exists. Time is passing, and we do not own it. Trying to hold it as it slips by uncontrollably alters our perception of existence. Instead of existing equally in each moment – past, present, and future, we set our mindset to the reality of living as only in time we think we own. And the only time we own is in the past, in our memories.

Assuming forgetfulness is negative, or something that just happens to old people; we all “lose” time. If we treat life as a game of ownership – accumulating memories to prove our reality, and the reality of time, we lose. In the same way a man might hold on to trophies to remember he was once young. What a silly game to play if you spend the whole game trying to gain pieces, or “the perfect set of pieces” that never really belonged to you, that go back into the box.

Whether it’s the red Scrabble box, or that solid one that goes in the ground, that’s where the pieces go. We put them there, in the way we designate drawers for miscellaneous items. We can’t figure them out or give them a label that sticks, so back to the box they go.

I am a Scrabble piece, and a Scrabble player. I’m a puppy. I am subject, and creator. Artist and art. Time is a game I have to play. How do I win? Should I win? And more importantly – how do I even play?

If the game is about finding the perfect set of pieces (money, clothes, vacations…)  then why focus on things we are losing?

We don’t win by identifying ourselves as our past. We don’t own that time any more than we own the time we are in now, so by focusing on it we lose faster.

It seems that whenever a drastic change happens in our lives, a metaphorical sideswiped-by-a-truck moment, we become acutely aware of the sands of time slipping through our fingers. We notice life as a silly game – unstable, fragile, and temporary. We become the petulant child that realizes he is losing and “doesn’t want to play anymore”.

Are you expecting me to say something uplifting here? To say something worth writing on your whiteboard, along the lines of “learn to dance in the rain”? I’m not going to do that. I too have to play this game. I don’t make the rules, so I don’t know how to win. However, I do know the art of losing.

When Elizabeth Bishop wrote One Art, and again when Julianne Moore quoted it in Still Alice, they reminded us that “the art of losing isn’t hard to master.” Time is silly, undignified, and it is never yours.

You are certain to lose this game if you play, but you also are certain to lose if you don’t play. As long as we don’t have a clear understanding of the rules of the game, we move toward 1980’s-esque, deconstructivist punk territory. Not knowing how to proceed, we focus on the freedom to do so, and attempt to hold on to the vague concept of dignity.

A friend of mine once told me that the most welcome she has felt has been in the punk scene. We could play the game of life like Punk music – flail, sing, rock out, riot. A holding belief in the art of loss is comforting. In life we have our “little-punk-moments” then move on to follow the rule of acquisition as a way of life… unless of course we encounter another truck in a side-sweeping motion.

The trucks are driven by the children of Time and Nature – illness, death, catastrophe; all really just synonyms for loss. It’s not multiple truck drivers careening into us and displacing us from the road. Its one driver, one face, and one road. In the place where we once stood we only see loss. The road of life, the truck of loss.

Supermodel Risotto


Will you make a move?

One of my first meals I experimented with as I forayed into the world of cooking and away from the world of “can i microwave it?”, was the stir-fry. It was a basic recipe that was guaranteed to turn out well. Plus, it allowed me the freedom to feel creative with very little risk. In my limited experience, I saw the recipe as a simple equation — instant rice + frozen vegetables + soy sauce +  meat (optional) = fancy cookin’.

I knew so little of all my choices – it didn’t even need to be remotely Asian!

Now I mentioned before that I have a penchant for textures, particularly the creamy ones(in ice cream, pudding, mashed potatoes, etc.). Well, not long into my cooking adventures I discovered the European Supermodel version of the stir-fry, Risotto. You look at the supermodel and think, I’ll never have legs like that…or skin that flawless…it’s never going to happen. That’s how I felt about Risotto, for an ashamedly long time. It wasn’t until I found a recipe claiming to be the mythical low-maintenance supermodel, that I even considered making a move.

By all means, go ahead and treat it like a stir-fry. Throw in whatever you want – be it a protein, vegetable, other types of nuts, or whatever funky cheese you are into right now.


½ C. Walnuts, coarsely chopped, divided 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion 1 Cup Arborio rice
Salt, pepper ½ cup dry white wine
1 small garlic clove 1 cup ( packed) fresh parsley leaves
3 tbsp. chopped fresh chives 2 cups torn Tuscan Kale leaves, divided
2 tbsp. unsalted butter 3 oz. parmesan, finely grated ( about 2 cups)


  1.       Preheat oven to 350
  2.       Toast walnuts on a lined baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown ( about 8-10 minutes)
  3.       Let cool
  4.       Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof saucepan over medium heat
  5.       Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent ( 5-8 minutes)
  6.       Stir in rice
  7.       Season with s/p
  8.       Cook, stirring, until some grains are translucent (about 5 minutes)
  9.       Add wine, bring to simmer, and cook until pan is almost dry ( about 3 minutes)
  10.       Add 2 cups very hot water
  11.       Season with s/p
  12.       Bring to simmer, cover, and bake in oven until liquid is mostly absorbed but rice is still starchy in the center (15-18  minutes, should be undercooked)
  13.   Meanwhile pulse garlic and half of toasted walnuts in a food processor until very finely ground.
  14.   Add parsley, chives, half of Kale, remaining 2 tbsp. of oil, and ¼ cup cold water
  15.       Process until smooth
  16.      Season with s/p
  17.   Set saucepan over medium heat
  18.   Add ¾ very hot water and cook rice, stirring constantly, until it is tender but still has some bite, and sauce is creamy (about 3 minutes)
  19.   Stir in pesto, butter, ¾ of the parmesan, and remaining Kale.
  20.   Adjust consistency with water if needed.
  21.   Season with s/p
  22.   Served topped with remaining walnuts and cheese

Calories 590-Fat 36 g – Fiber 5 g
adapted from Bon-Apetit Magazine’s Low-Maintenance Risotto

Yiayia’s Easy Avgolemono

IMG_4919I’ve always been scared of trying to make Avgolemono soup. Maybe it’s because every time I asked my grandmother how she made this curiously thick dish, her blue eyes turned to saucers as she iterated repeatedly – don’t stop stirring.

In Greek of course.

Which makes it even more reminiscent of a mysterious old woman muttering spells over a magic potion. But she’s 95 years old now, and each day I get to see her I feel time. With her time exists in an almost tangible way.

So this weekend, as I sat on the stool by her feet like we were in some old-timey movie, I asked her again for her recipe.

This time I really listened. I decided it couldn’t be that hard, especially not if I used store-bought chicken broth. Big mistake bringing that up to her. She grimaced and said you could

Clearly if I wanted it to taste anywhere near hers this was going to be a bigger project than I had anticipated. This meant homemade chicken stock.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. My eyes open and I can feel it in my bones. Today is the day. Today is the day to simmer and fill my home with good smells.

With my Yiayia’s trusty soup recipe percolating in my brain and this chicken stock recipe, I finally made Avgolemono soup. It was damn good. And it was not as hard as I thought it would be.

(Plus, now I have delicious homemade chicken stock in my freezer)

Raw_Orzo (2)                    lemons

The Soup


Stock pot

wooden spoon

medium bowl/ large measuring cup

small bowl (for yolks)




3 cups chicken stock

1 cup orzo

2 eggs

juice from 2 lemons

salt & pepper


  • Cook orzo in chicken stock
  • Remove from heat
  • In a bowl, separate egg yolks from whites
    • Beat the whites until loose and frothy
    • Slowly beat in the yolks, still keepin’ it frothy
  • Take a ladle, and slowly add broth to the egg froth
  • Beat the mixture furiously as you add the broth
  • Continue adding broth (and beating the mixture) until its equal parts broth/ egg
  • Now that you’ve poured the broth into the egg, switch and pour the egg into the broth
  • Face the pot of orzo with the egg mixture in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other
  • Slowly add the mixture into the the pot, all the while stirring continuously with the wooden spoon
  • Once fully integrated, return the pot to medium-low heat
  • Add lemon (and s/p) to taste
  • Don’t stop stirring
  • Bring the soup to a low boil, then remove immediately

Berkeley Granola


In all its close up glory!

I just got back from a much needed vacation. I could say life was that good, that I didn’t need a break from it all, but as interesting as it’s been lately, it has not been all good.

Lack of a break plus the start of a new year meant it was time. I had vacation days again at work, and friends from college scattered around the country, anxious for a chance to show hospitality in a way that only grown ups with their own place can. Up until last week I had never been more west in the U.S. than Tennessee, and here was my chance to change that. For this trip, I picked Becky in California – Berkeley to be exact (though she’d much prefer I said she lived in Oakland).

I was there for 7 whole days!

I slept on Becky’s red velvet couch in her apartment. She lives on a sunny street lined by homes with gardens. Some of the gardens were certainly overgrown, but made me feel like maybe the old hippie that lives there just loves flowers so much they couldn’t bear to restrain them.

Each morning we woke up not long after sunrise. Back when Becky and I lived together in New York we shared a love of well crafted coffee, sweet treats, and slow mornings. Now Becky works in the food industry and her kitchen only has the good stuff. Things like vanilla extract with real vanilla beans in it, whole coffee beans from local roasters, and fresh homemade granola.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of granola in the past – it was alright, but I much preferred something creamy and less strenuous to my mouth like mashed potatoes or ice cream. That changed on this trip. Yes I still tried the delicious ice cream from Smitten – where they make each serving from scratch, and Bi-Rite – where they have flavors like Lavender & Honey, but this granola grounded us. It wasn’t fancy or complicated.

We ambled all around San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and even Petaluma trying to do everything on my list (she’s a good friend), but when we started and ended our days it was her granola that was there. Homemade, plentiful, and flavorful – it was perfect. Now maybe I didn’t express how mildly life changing Becky’s granola was to her, but it stuck with me.

As I meditated about my trip on my flights back, I determined that I would make my own granola, and share it in the loving way that I learned on my little vacation to the west coast.

Named after my much-needed and wonderful visit with awesome Becky, here is my take on her granola.


Berkeley Granola
makes ~38 oz.

Kitchen tools:

  • baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • large bowl
  • small saucepan
  • spatula

Dry ingredients:

  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¾ cup chopped Pecans
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries

Wet ingredients:

  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 4  tbsp brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside
  3. Mix first 4 dry ingredients in a large bowl
  4. Bring the wet ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan
  5. Remove from heat
  6. Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients in bowl until well coated
  7. Spread even layer of granola on pan, pressing down with a spatula
  8. Bake for 45 minutes
    1. toss every 15 minutes
  9. Remove from oven and let cool a little
  10. Using the sides of the parchment paper, lift granola and pour into bowl
  11. Mix dried cranberries into granola

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Behind The Sum


The name The Sum comes from my favorite quote, one that has been with me since high school.

“We are the sum of all the people we have ever met; you change the tribe and the tribe changes you.”

Dirk Wittenborn wrote this in his book Fierce People, that later became the movie I watched alone the summer before my senior year. It was also the same summer that my class swarmed the cafeteria, where we filled out forms and waited with our product-stiff hair to take our senior pictures.

I don’t remember how I came across Fierce People, or why I watched it – though it probably had to do with me being in a consume-all-things-Kristen-Stewart phase. I do remember that I watched it alone, and long after the closing credits had finished I was still meditating on it.

So as I stood and scanned my senior yearbook form where it asked me the information I was about to immortalize, I stopped at the question asking for a quote. I asked the others around me what kind of “stuff” people normally put there, but all I could think of was the movie I had seen earlier that week. The book/ movie’s title comes from the parallel between the main character’s integration into upper class society and the violent “fierce people” – the Yanomamö people of the Amazon. My young mind thought, “How fitting, a coming of age movie – I can relate to that, next year I’ll be launched into the real world.” What started as a teenager’s pop culture reference and search for context stuck with me long after.

I’m both in one tribe and in many tribes (I know, so postmodern). I’m of the larger group – white, female, lucky enough to have attended college. But, I’ve also been in many smaller tribes, characterized by different clothing, foods, daily rituals, and social exchanges. Changing tribes hurts. I may always be white, female, and college educated but moving between social groups changes a person. With every painful shift I am swelling with details. I don’t want to lose these details because they break up the monotony of life that’s easy to fall into the longer you exist. I want to absorb them, but without the swelling and irritation – not to sound too medical here.

This blog is me putting an ice pack on the swelling from the resulting ouchy of the tribe changing me, and inherently it is me changing the tribe right back.

I am a sum.
You are a sum.
We grow each time we meet.

St. Barbara’s 31st Greek Glendi

Having been a part of it for 6 years – as both a dancer and a volunteer, St. Barbara’s annual Greek Glendi (festival) holds a special place in my heart. The church buzzes as everyone pitches in to bring it all together, and the final product stacks up every year. Now I attend the Glendi like all the other regular folk. I pay admission, I “ooh” and “ahh” over the trinkets, and manage to clap for the dancers while holding my Mythos (It helps that I’m of a legal drinking age now). There’s delicious food, heartwarming children dancing the dances of their ancestors, desserts you don’t have the patience to attempt in your own kitchen, trinkets galore, and more – all under the biggest tent I’ve seen outside the circus.

Photos by Steven Muncie