Thanksgiving Brunch at International Smoke

Things have been heating up under the Millennium Tower, and I don't mean the fact the building is apparently sinking. (Don't worry, It's earthquake safe ya'll).

Ayesha Curry and Chef Michael Mina have opened the doors to International Smoke. The menu is a collaborative dream of their individual heritages and also gather inspiration from the places they've traveled. All those international flavors come together for quite the cozy eating experience at their newly opened restaurant on Mission St. in San Francisco. 

Make reservations to taste the food and enjoy this warm, welcoming, and intimate dining experience for yourself! 

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Out here, we do things a little different

On Thanksgiving, my family and I keep things pretty small. Meet my mom and dad! It's an annual tradition to go out and enjoy our Thanksgiving feast. πŸ¦ƒ Say goodbye to the worries of prep, cook and clean up! πŸ‘‹πŸ½ If it seems strange or unfamiliar, know this is quite common in California.

My mom visited International Smoke on opening night earlier this month and has made it widely known she got to talk to Ayesha Curry lol. She loved it so much that she wanted Curtis and myself to experience it too, making it the perfect place for our annual Thanksgiving meal.

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International Smoke's Thanksgiving Buffet

Finally, what you've been waiting for! Please don't blame me if you're hungry after this part! πŸ™ˆ

Though the daily menu is already on it's own level, let's just say International Smoke's Thanksgiving Buffet set the bar for going out on this day of gratitude. After this meal, I damn sure had a lot to be thankful for. 

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The Ribs

When we arrived Ayesha had already gone back home for her family plans, but she had been at the restaurant all morning cooking ribs! Happy to say, I got some and didn't regret it one bit. When offered, we quickly said "yes please!" and the chefs sprinkled brown sugar and glaze over the ribs. Then they torched it, creating just the right crispy top layer. 

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The Steak

At each station of the buffet, you are served with plentiful portions. The steak was no exception, served to perfection and topped with Chimichurri.

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The Brussel Sprouts 

International Smoke's brussel sprouts are flavored with soy caramel and peanuts. I could tell by those around me, that everyone that ate them loved them because the flavor packs a punch. 

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The Stuffing

My holiday weakness... the carb overload of all carb overloads... stuffing. My sweet tooth was happy when I took the first bite and realized it had a sweet undertone. Definitely went back for seconds... okay fine, you got me. Thirds!

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The Charcuterie Table

At this point your plate is probably full, and you scoot over what you can to make room. I'll let your eyes gander and enjoy at the choices. 

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The overall experience

Cheers to the holidays! We took our server's recommendation to try the spiced cider bourbon cocktail. πŸ‘ŒπŸ½ In addition to some great serving selections, the staff was as warm and welcoming as the ambiance of their restaurant. Not once did we feel rushed during our reservation, even when the restaurant started to fill up. 

We enjoyed our food to our hearts content, shared great conversation and the staff sometimes joined in our conversation as well!

Ayesha is very hands on at her restaurant and comes in to both cook and serve, so if you're lucky she'll be there during your visit! Make reservations before going. Since it's meant to be an intimate environment the restaurant keeps it cozy at 80 person capacity.

Before heading out, they handed us gift bags from Ayesha Curry. We all went home with one of the loaf pans from Ayesha Curry's cookware line with Target! Truly, that hospitality was the cherry on top for a great holiday experience. 

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Quick Outfits Deets

JORD watches thanksgiving style outfit details san francisco
thanksgiving brunch international smoke san francisco

Nail color: Butternut Squash gel by DNC
Little Dipper Ring: Katie Dean Jewelry
Frankie Zebrawood Watch: JORD Watches
Necklace: Target
Crossback Knit Sweater: Charlotte's Russe

Kamayan Feast at Pampanguena Cuisine

A Kamayan style dinner is a relaxed filipino traditional feast. Imagine a ridiculous amount of filipino cuisine favorites shared family-style around one table. Oh, and the only utensil you need is your hands. Mhmm, that's right. Hands only!

Along with a few of my closest girls, we knew what we were getting ourselves into. We came equipped to Pampanguena Cuisine with stretchy leggings, comfy tops and empty stomaches to best prepare for a feast as good as the company we shared. 

   Apattan, Kamayan Feast for four people.

Apattan, Kamayan Feast for four people.

I'm pretty sure I skipped a meal that day with best intentions to make room for this. Needless to say, we were impressed when our enormous feast hit the table. I mean, look at those fluffy mountains of rice! Surrounding the fluffy white mounds were delectable favorites including fried tilapia, tapa (beef), lumpia shanghai, lechon kawali (crispy fried pork belly) and a colorful variety of fruit, veggies and sauces to compliment our proteins.

We dug right in. No hesitation.

 diced mango, onion and tomato to compliment our meals

diced mango, onion and tomato to compliment our meals

 All hands over here. No forks.

All hands over here. No forks.

To top it all off, we added an order of turon (not pictured, but imagine sweet banana lumpia) and a big serving of halo-halo, a layered ice cream dessert.  I'm drooling thinking about it all over again.

 Halo Halo

Halo Halo

Pampanguena Cuisine sits in the heart of Mission/Ecelsior district of San Francisco and is known for their Kamayan Feasts and authentic filipino cuisine.  

This visit wasn't about modern decor or food trends. This one was personal and nostalgic. As soon as we walked in, it felt like the Filipino-American household I grew up in. It was especially familiar because TFC (The Filipino Channel) was playing on the background. Whether you have grown up with filipino traditions or not, this is a meal and experience worth sharing with loved ones!

Have you ever enjoyed a Kamayan Feast? Share your story in the comments below! 

Restaurant: Pampanguena Cuisine
Website | Menu4441 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

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Holy Matcha

MATCHA LOOKIN' AT?!

I got to escape my day-to-day stress of the city and ran away to San Diego for a much needed quick vacation. While I was in her hometown, Holly hosted part of my visit and introduced me to the best local spots in her hood. We've been talking about this trip for some time now, and though it's so overdue, we made it happen! Truly, I had the best time  seeing her in her element! Though a San Diego weekend guide is coming to the blog really soon, I couldn't help but talk about one of San Diego's most instaworthy hot spots.

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I already feel relaxed thinking back to the kind of day it was. Clear blue skies at the perfect temperature. I'm sure the San Diego locals never have to worry about what us San Franciscan's call "FOGUST". (Don't worry Karl the Fog, we still love ya!)

Holly, her mom and I went to visit North Park to finally experience Holy Matcha: a boutique cafe with millennial pink and tons of greenery styled to perfection.

Here's a three reasons why the hype is worth it.

Holy Matcha San Diego Travel Guide
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REASON #1: THE DECOR IS ABSOLUTE GOALS

As soon as you walk in, the tropical leaf wallpaper to the pink saloon style seats catch your eye. Sprinkle that in with a few gold art deco accents, a pink neon sign and hanging plants, and you've got Holy Matcha! The owners and designers of this place did not dissapoint.
They even go above and beyond to display fresh floral arrangements on their counter.

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REASON #2: THE EXPERIENCE IS WORTH IT

The playlist is on point with girl power anthems, the pink seats are soft and cozy, and the food is as good as it looks. For them, matcha is not only a drink, but it's an ingredient, a craft and a lifestyle. They really make sure to nurture an experience when you come in, down to the itty bitty details.

TIP ON WHEN TO VISIT: visit on a weekday to get the full experience without the rush.Holly assured that we went on a Monday to enjoy the experience at a slower pace. On weekends I've heard it's hard to enjoy the seats without feeling a little rushed.

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REASON #3 MAD LOVE FOR THE MATCHA MENU

Last but definitely not least. Talk about matcha madness on that menu! Not only did everything match the brand, but it tasted fantastic. I mean, look at it, it's hard not to call it picture perfect. Holly and I ordered as much as we could so we could try a little bit of everything. 

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The Avocado Toast

Back that hass up! You can't really go wrong with this pick. Holy Matcha's avocado toast is topped with chili flakes and pepper. To make it even a little more extra, the staff stencils matcha powder on the plate, just because. 

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The matcha soft serve

I scream, you scream, cause the ice cream is soooo good. You can't see it in this picture, but the matcha soft serve brings a modern touch to everyone's classic swirl flavors. Yup, this swirl soft serve is pink and green. 

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The Rose Lemonade and the Matcha Horchata

The rose lemonade was so refreshing, with hints of floral flavor. As for the matcha horchata, that's what won my heart, hands down. 

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If you're going to San Diego, do yourself a favor and hit this place up. I am so grateful to have shared this experience with one of favorite girls! Go with your gal pals, and don't be shy to take some pics to savor the memory. It's worth the experience, and the treats. Enjoy! :)