Author Archives: Belle

Tzfat Recap

As mentioned earlier this week, I had a ridiculously wonderful time exploring the ancient city of Tzfat and northern Israel. Below is a picture diary, and a glimpse into my week in the mystical Tzfat. Enjoy!


Part of a treasure hunt activity- I got pretty into it

3 Cheese Lachooch- A Yemenite “Crepe”


Tzfat Cheese- the Kadosh family has been making this cheese in Tzfat for SEVEN generations: that’s a lot of cheese!


Street Art all over the city

The Lachooch Man at Work

The Old City of Tzfat is all cobblestones- reminded me of Jerusalem, actually!


The organization I volunteered with (Livnot) rebuilds much of the city of Tzfat. Buildings with this emblem on them say that Livnot volunteers helped to restore it.

The best Sabich in Tzfat- no question. These guys will hook it up.

Cheese tasting at a goat farm in Rosh Pina- a small village in the north, close to Tzfat


This is actually in Neve Tzedek- Tel Aviv- but it needed to be included 

Wine Merchant Guest Post

Today we have a guest post from Lisa over at Wine Telegraph to give us an education about wine. Hope you enjoy!

Experts in Food and Drink –  Seven Reasons to Shop With Your Local Wine Merchants

The role of wine merchants is rarely confined just to providing an avenue for the purchase and consumption of wine. Modern wine merchants are about enabling the whole experience – from widening choice in wine buying to finding the foods and equipment that make the experience of enjoying fine eating and drinking complete.

There are plenty of reasons to shop with a local wine merchant – here are seven of the best.

food and drink

 1: Expertise

Wine merchants offer expertise you can’t get in a supermarket. This is as much a function of the purpose of each establishment as it is of the specific knowledge of individual shop assistants. A wine merchant is there to give information and expertise in addition to product – while a supermarket is there simply to offer choice on a shelf.

While a supermarket wine department may aim to direct the customer using shelf tags, a merchant is there to deliver in depth recommendations after consultation and exploration.

 2: Variety

No shop that sells lots of other things can hope to match the variety of wine and wine-related accoutrements in the merchant’s emporium. No supermarket, for example, can offer the range of independent alternatives in lower price brackets that the merchant provides.

 3: Price Breaks

A wine merchant often sells wine by the case only – so the minimum purchase is usually either six or twelve bottles. In either case, there’s often a price break when bottles are purchased according to specific rules – for example, if six or more of the same wine is bought then the merchant may sell each bottle for less than if the case is made up of six different wines.

 4: Delivery

The merchant is usually happy to deliver, because he or she is selling wine by the case rather than by the bottle. Larger merchants usually have a weekly delivery day for individual towns or postal areas. In city areas, a merchant may even operate daily deliveries. As a result, it’s possible to go in and shop in person for large quantities of wine without having to worry about getting it all home again.

 5: Complementary Food and Drink

The merchant is there to make the customer’s experience of good wine better. To this end, he or she may either directly sell, or facilitate the sale of, food that complements the wine in question. During specific seasons, these services often extend to the creation nor ordering of hampers; or the facilitation of ordering festive boards and festive meats, which will go well with the festive wines being sold.

A merchant may also directly sell a number of snack foods designed to complement his or her selections of wine. If a customer is having a party, he or she may therefore be able to offer all drinks and nibble scattering from under a single roof.

 6: Information

There’s a difference between expertise and information – expertise allows the customer to be guided directly to wines that will serve a required purpose, while information helps the customer to expand his or her palate through his or her own journey of discovery. Again, the merchant is much better placed to deliver this kind of information – which may range from simple inquiries about wines from specified regions of the world; to more complex requests for information about whether any animal products or animal related products have been used in the creation of each wine.

 7: Wine Furniture

A merchant may also supply the wine furniture required for the storage and enjoyment of the wines he or she sells. Wine furniture isn’t just a wine rack or cabinet – the term also refers to bottle openers and serving receptacles.

Zion National Park + Peanut Butter & Co

Heyo Bellpeppers!

Given the sad state of affairs today (read: the government not getting its act together and shutting down (?!?)) I wanted to share some love from my camping trip this past weekend at Zion National Park. Considering national park employees are not going into work today, I’d say I had pretty good timing.


I’m not going to get into the ridiculousness of this situation right now, but rather share some of the beauty that I found in Utah. Zion, the Hebrew word for redemption, is exactly that. In Jewish mysticism, Zion is interpreted as the spiritual point at which reality emerges.

And since I’m reading this book and just watched this movie– I’d say the gigantic sandstone cliffs parted by rough waters forming the largest slot canyon in the world were certainly a good dose of reality in the most natural form.

I was lucky enough to go to Zion with three wonderful women from my fellowship, one of whom used to work at the park and was able to give us the local insider information- like where to find a secluded swimming hole in the dry heat of Utah.

The weekend at Zion was simply incredible. And as I hiked around, first to Angel’s Landing- a steep 1400 ft. cliff that juts into the middle of the canyon and as the park described “unsuitable for those fearful of heights“, and then through the Narrows, I felt a sense of serenity that was missing for a long time. Its just incredible how being in the vastness of nature can make you feel so small.

Hiking Makes You Hungry

When thinking about what to eat on this glorious trip, I admit, I had little input. One thing I did know was that of a recent package I received from Peanut Butter & Co, I would have to bring along a jar of peanut bar. I decided on Mighty Maple, and so glad I did.

We ended up finishing the entire jar in the first day by adding it to our morning oatmeal, making copious amounts of PB&J sandwiches, and just straight up eating it out of the jar. I met one of PB+Co’s reps at the Blog Her Food Conference this past summer and was so happy when they reached out to me about trying some of their vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO peanut butter.

Still Waking Up

While PB was HUGE when I was living in Nepal, I haven’t really eaten much of it in the past year. Let’s face it, Israeli’s love Bamba, but they don’t love Peanut Butter. It’s one of those paradoxes that we may never solve.

In any case, the peanut butter was a huge success and definitely a new staple for any camping trips. If you find yourself going on a trip, I would definitely suggest bringing along a jar of one these really delicious jars of peanut butter. Then again, that trip may have to wait awhile…

Guest Post: Best Mexican Food in LA

Today’s guest post I’ll admit is long overdue- Virginia emailed me this summer about sharing the best spots in LA, and I’m so happy to finally share this post. While I’m not living in LA anymore, these Mexican spots might be worth the drive! To be fair, I should probably write the best Mexican spots in San Diego too! Take it away Virginia.

Best Mexican Food In L.A

When you are craving spicy salsa and flavor-packed food, but can’t afford to head south of the border, just turn your car in the direction of L.A. The options for tantalizing Mexican food are endless, with a delicious menu to tempt you seemingly on every corner.

No matter what you are looking for, with the amount of restaurants sporting authentic Mexican cuisine in the greater L.A. area, you will, in no way, be disappointed. These restaurants are some of the best-of-the-best, satisfying customers– one enchilada at a time. Take a look, but don’t think too hard—no matter which one you choose, the food will definitely hit the spot:

1) Guelaguetza

Located in Koreatown on Olympic Boulevard, this restaurant might seem like it has itself confused, but trust us—the food is anything but confusing. They are known for their delicious tortillas and one-of-a-kind asiento spread. To keep things happening and hip, live music tends to play nightly; however, Thursday nights are reserved for classic Mexican films– the entertainment abounds.

2) La Casita Mexicana

The food here is off the charts, and the chefs who work behind the scenes are no different. Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu are famous for their loaded enchiladas, are unlike anything you have had before.

Loteria LA

3) Loteria Grill

The food here starts at breakfast and doesn’t stop until customers are satisfied after clearing away the dinner plates. At Loteria Grill, boring is not an option. Fortunately, the restaurant has more than one location: Studio City, Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Westlake Village, so there is no excuse to avoid this place if you are looking for truly authentic Mexican dishes.

4) Babita

From the outside, Babita may look unassuming, but after your first bite, you’ll think twice! The chef and owner, Robert Berrelleza, has truly perfected his food and his love for cooking spills over into his restaurant.

5) Tacos Ensenada

The backdrop to this restaurant is the San Gabriel Mountains. The soups will make you ask for more, but the true crowning glory? Why, the fish tacos, of course! For authentic fish tacos that make you think of white beaches along the Mexican Riviera, look no further. The fish is fresh and the cabbage slaw is a perfect balance of tang. Order up!

6) El Huarache Azteca

Customers from all around come here for, what else, the huaraches! When you perfect something this good, it’s only natural to name your restaurant after it.

7) Coni’Seafood

Sometimes all you want is some nice, flavorful seafood. Well, look no further! Chef Sergio Penuelas delights in serving up plate-after-plate of amazing bites from the sea.

8) Yuca’s

The carne asada here is so delicious that your mouth will water after every bite– not to mention the tamales, which will find you with an instant craving the first time you try one. At Yuca’s, customers feel like family. It’s no wonder people keep coming back for more.

9) La Taquiza

No matter what you order at La Taquiza, the food is sure to please. Everything is created to taste authentic, full of flavor and spices, and the chefs definitely know what they’re doing.

10) Birrieria Apatzingan

Found in the San Fernando Boulevard, on Laurel Canyon Drive, you’ll soon learn that the meal of choice here is the goat stew. Some customers, first-timers of course, are usually squeamish about the idea, but almost everyone is soon smitten by this unique combination of flavors.

From the heart of L.A. to the San Gabriel Mountains, your quest for authentic Mexican food should start and end here. Get out there—and don’t stop till you’ve tried everything on the menu!


Virginia Cunningham is a writer for Northwest, a mother and yoga enthusiast in Los Angeles. After living in L.A. for quite some time, she’s tasted most of what the great city has to offer, especially when it comes to Mexican food.


There you have it! Has anyone tried any of these Mexican restaurants? Is there somewhere we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

California Road Trip

It’s good to be back on the blog today! In a week I’ll be moving across the country from sunny San Diego to the front of Boston. I’m really excited to make the move, but I’ll admit it’s definitely bittersweet. I’ve had a beautiful community of genuine, interesting and motivated people for the past 15 months. Weekly potlucks, a shared community garden, interesting events and lectures, and the freedom to create meaningful work and projects. I’ll definitely miss it.

As I say goodbye to California (for now) I decided the proper way to celebrate would be a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway. Here are some of the photos from our stops along the way- enjoy!

venice, california, beach, sunset
venice, california, sunset
sail boat, pacific ocean
El Capitan, California
El Capitan, California
Big Sur, California
Big Sur, California
Nepenthe, Big Sur, California
McWay Falls, California, Big Sur
Venice, California
Stops: Laguna Beach / Los Angeles / Venice Beach / Santa Monica Pier / El Capitan State Beach / Solvang / Big Sur / Limekiln State Park / Pfieffer State Park / McWay Falls / Nepenthe / San Francisco

Thank you to everyone who entered the To Go Ware giveaway! I’ll be posting another special giveaway with one of my favorite Bay Area artists in the next week so stay tuned! Thank you, Emily, for sharing your farro and brussels sprouts salad while I was away, and happy 2019 everyone!!

Spring Cleanse and Thirst Juice Co.

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to go check out Thirst Juice Co. a juice shop located right in Downtown Crossing in Boston. You all know how much I love green juices, and since moving from San Diego to Boston, I was starting to lose hope on what the green living scene here was.

I must say, the transition between California and Massachusetts has been tough. I moved in the dead of winter, and pretty much hibernated for three months. I didn’t venture out, I stayed indoors, ate terribly, didn’t move my body and treated myself so poorly. I remember when I lived in Philly I would get SAD, but never to this extent. The shock of the move really affected my body and as soon as the large piles of snow melted, the rain had dissipated and the sun decided to peak through – I was out.

I moved to a lovely neighborhood in Boston called Jamaica Plain, where I’m minutes walk to a yoga studio, plenty of cafes to write in, and an organic grocery store that has kombucha on tap. No joke.

I found out about Thirst Juice Co. from a friend of mine and knew I wanted to learn more about it. They have amazing juices like the BuddahBeet, Field of Greens and Kale-idoscope. Not only do they have great names, but these made to order juices are super fresh and ultra good for you.

Most juices contain several POUNDS of fruits and vegetables, so even if the rest of your day is crap, you at least know you got an abundance of greens in your system doing their magic.

What I love most about Thirst (aside from their friendly and knowledgable staff, beautiful and understated decor) is their Açaí bowls. If you have no idea what that is – I feel you. Let me explain:

Açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) is a berry native to Brazil. It’s rich in antioxidants, heart-healthy fats and fiber. Açaí berries grow in clusters on tall palm trees native to the Amazon rainforest, and ancient Amazonian tribes would use these berries both medicinally and as food. Açaí berries have twice as many antioxidants as blueberries and also contain a broad range of vitamins and minerals and a naturally low sugar content.

Açaí bowls were all the rage in Encinitas (go figure) but I never actually ordered an Açaí bowl while living there. At Thirst, I ordered the Coconut Açaí bowl and let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS. Go there now, tell them I sent you, and order that thing. It’s a game changer.

Co-owners Chris and Heather started Thirst Juice Co. after careers working as corporate lawyers, feeling burnt out and wanting to try something new. While there may be a juice bar at every corner in Manhattan, Boston has been slow in keeping up with the trend, with only a handful of juice bars in the city. Heather and Chris are both multiple-time marathon runners (18 between them!) and want to spread the message on good clean eating.

I spoke to Heather about the fad of juice cleanses, mostly because I really want to try a juice cleanse myself. However, most people don’t realize that juice cleansing is more of a fast. And fasting should only be done if there is something seriously wrong with your system that you need a complete re-start. Not something you need to do once a month.

I also had the chance to take a wheatgrass shot (and chase it with an orange) which was delicious. Wheatgrass is rich in chlorophyll which is super detoxifying and rids your body of free radicals. It’s a great source of natural energy, and one ounce of wheatgrass has the some of the same micronutrients as five POUNDS of spinach. Wheatgrass is best taken in the morning on an empty stomach, but I think if you’ve never tried wheatgrass, give it a go anytime.

There you have it folks, I’ll be sharing one of Thirst’s Green Smoothie recipes later this week. If you’re in Boston, go check out Thirst Juice Co. and tell them Local Belle sent you! Have a beautiful day people!

Local Love: Leucadia Succulents

Local, Lofty, Leucadia. Lovely. I happened upon the gem of Leucadia Succulents from non-other than a Groupon deal. $30 worth of succulents for $15. Sold. What I found was a magical place: succulents of all shapes and sizes, colors and personalities. I can’t say much about this, except that I went wild in this place. I mean, who wouldn’t?

Look out for a DIY Sunday post on how to make your very own terrarium soon using non-other than these little cuties. If you’re in Encinitas/San Diego definitely check out this local plant store! Wherever you may be, find the gems that make your city unique and support local businesses! Until next time, peace!

5 Ways to Eat Locally and Healthfully

Today we have an awesome guest post from Shelly Stinson, about five easy ways to eat more healthfully and locally – my two favorite things! Check it out and let us know in the comments what you would add to this list! xo, belle

The benefits of eating healthy, nutritious foods include having an easier time controlling your weight, experiencing better moods, developing fewer diseases and illnesses, enjoying more energy, and living a longer life. And while you can find these types of good-for-you foods in a variety of different places, some of the best options you can choose are available locally.

This is good news since a few different institutes, such as Michigan State University in the U.S., contend that eating local foods means that you not only get more flavor, but you also get more nutrients because “local food has a shorter time between harvest and your table.” This allows it to keep more of its healthier qualities, providing you the most vitamins and minerals possible.

Based on this, here are five different ways that you can eat healthily and locally:

#1: Shop at a Farmer’s Market

Most communities have some type of farmer’s market at least part of the year, allowing you to pick up some of your favourite fresh fruits and veggies, and sometimes meats, within just a few miles of your home. One major benefit of using this option is that you have some wiggle room on price as these types of venues are common for negotiating lower costs.

#2: Contact Local Growers Directly

If you happen to live in an area that does not have a farmer’s market, you can still get healthier food by contacting local growers directly. This means talking face-to-face with a farmer who raises beef cattle or meeting one-on-one with someone who has a garden big enough to support their family and yours. By buying directly from an individual person, you’re in the perfect position to ask any questions you may have about how the animals were raised or the crops were grown, increasing your knowledge of the foods (and other substances) you’re putting in your body.

#3: Grow Your Own Food

Of course, you can always grow your own food if you have an extra bit of land and want to try your hand at filling your own dinner table. This way, you control everything that goes into your food, as well as what doesn’t—like herbicides, pesticides, and any other substances you don’t want leaching into your food, and therefore your body as a result.

#4: Get to Know the Produce Manager at Your Local Supermarket

Sometimes you just want to go to one place for all of your food items, which makes getting to know your local produce manager critical to your health. He or she can tell you which foods are bought locally and which ones come from other places. Additionally, if you’re in good with this person, you’re also likely to learn about upcoming fruit and vegetable deals, making it easier to plan your menu in advance.

#5: Use Local Food In a Way that Enhances Its Nutritional Value

Following this suggestion means not only getting your produce and/or meat locally but also preparing it in a way that allows you to get as many nutrients out of it as you possibly can. For instance, you could juice your fruits and vegetables, enabling you to get all of the high-quality vitamins and minerals they contain. Another option is to freeze any excess foods that are seasonal so you have access to their nutritious goodness all year long.

When you eat healthily and locally, it’s good for your body as well as the local economy. That makes it the best case scenario for your health and your pocketbook!