Local Bloggers and Influencers Are The Secret for Insider Scoop

A wasted afternoon at a tourist-trap attraction?

Yup, been there; it has happened before.

A clear memory of this was in 2009 on a trip South America; getting stuck in the tourist trap that is La Boca in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Known as the birthplace of the tango, La Boca, a one-time shipyard has a famous walkway, El Caminito, where tango dancers perform and artists exhibit their work on this colorful street.

The true grittiness of the neighborhood is lost and now it is essentially a tourist trap, full of people touting for business. It is filled with over priced tourist trinkets and t-shirt heaven; faux tango eatery and photo hustlers are in abundance. The only genuine thing left is Boca fútbol stadium 4 blocks north, with a soccer museum charging $12USD entrance. A wasted afternoon indeed.

I wish we would have been warned that this place was the equivalent to San Francisco's Fisherman's Warf or Khao San Road in Bangkok. If only we would have known a blogger... or local for the inside scoop!

Every major city has bloggers obsessed with what's new and great in their backyard, particularly in regard to restaurants. Using Google Blog Search to find bloggers in whatever city you are visiting is a great place to start. You can also use Instagram by searching in the search or through geo tags.

Bloggers and influencers are a phenomenal resource but do not just read what they are writing: Contact them for personal recommendations. The more specific your request — and the more you flatter them for their insight and wit — the more likely you will be to pique their interest and get a response.  

Being from San Francisco, there is no denying that it is a foodie's mecca of must-try places. One might ask: "What's your favorite vegetarian-friendly restaurant within walking distance of the Hotel Vitale on Mission Street? We are looking for a place with a romantic vibe, ideally because it is our anniversary. We'd be so grateful for your help because you obviously know what's going on in San Francisco!" Bloggers love to provide tips and recommendations on their city!

Have I tried this? Yes!  

I've had plenty of people ask me as well via Instagram, and I've shared some of my insights as well.

While in Hoi An, Vietnam, I got in touch with via Twitter with Jodi from Legal Nomads, connected me with two bloggers that were currently in Hoi An--James from Nomadic Notes and Leif, a freelance travel writer and Lonely Planet author.

Gregg and I got the opportunity to have a Cao Lau dinner and share travel stories with James and Leif, followed by a fruit shake along the river. We also did research online as to what online travel bloggers recommend. Many recommended Ms. Chien's Pho Cao Lau Hu Tieu in the Central Market. The steaming bowls of pho were amazing!

By browsing Instagram, you can also get ideas in where to venture next. So, if you are unsure of where to head to, ask local bloggers!

Cover Image Credit: @amybuglione, Instagram; First published June 25, 2013; Updated August 14, 2017.

Kale Banana Smoothie


I love LYFE Kitchen in Palo Alto and the gluten-free menu--what I absolutely love is the Kale-Banana smoothie. I probably frequent LYFE about 2-3 times per week, specifically for this after a spin session or aerial yoga class. I had been trying to recreate this smoothie at home and after many attempts, I have finally found the recipe. gluten-free, gluten-free palo alto, palo alto gluten-free, gluten-free fare, gluten-free smooties, kale, banana, banana smoothies, kale-banana smoothies, lyfe kitchen, lyfe kitchen palo alto, lyfe kitchen kale-banana smoothies

I like that this recipe does not have milk (dairy, almond, coconut...). Sometimes, somethings are best kept simple. This smoothies proves just that. Plus, the bananas add the creaminess and smooth texture that milk would.

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Here it is...Enjoy!

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Follow @valeriefidan and tag your awesome food photos with #letsregale! As always, all opinions, as always, are my own. Photos taken with iPhone; edited in Camera+ and instagrammed.

These Are 10 Tip To Hosting Gluten-Free Guests Are A Lifesaver

gluten-free entertaining tips, gluten-free, gluten-free entertaining, ramblist gluten-free, ramblist The summer months are fast approaching, and the weather is starting to get warmer; many of us will be hosting BBQ's, dinners al fresco with family and friends--and if you are like my group of friends, we like cooking parties. As a host, your job is to make sure all of your guest are comfortably happy. Sure, Not everyone will have the same tastes; and certainly we can offer different options to each of them.

What can you do when a guest is gluten intolerant?

If you have a gluten-free guest, or any other dietary restriction for that matter, it is crucial to close pay attention to the products that are going to serve; but also to the way in which they were prepared. Do not panic! With the proper preparation, all will enjoy the party. 

Here are some of my tips :

  • Do your homework. Do not be afraid to ask questions – ask about ALL of their restrictions. Do not guess and do not ignore. If you have doubts it is best to ask your gluten-free guest, or if it is a child, their parents, to guide you on gluten-free options.
  • Ask what they can eat. Just as necessary as the gluten things they cannot eat, ask about all of the foods your guest is able to eat. Sometimes this can help open your eyes to all of the possibilities rather on focusing on the restrictions.
  • Ask specifically for recommendations or gluten-free recipes. Ask about gluten-free dishes that you could make that would be safe for your guest, enjoyed by all and easy for you to make.
  • Know what contains gluten. It is not just baked goods like breads, cookies and pasta that contain gluten. There are many other items that contain gluten or traces and can affect your gluten-free guest, like sauces and dressings. Many are shocked to find out that Soy Sauce contains wheat. Here is a good list of gluten-free items from Gluten Free Today. Many grocery stores offer a list of gluten-free items or have a gluten-free section.
  • Nor is it necessary to remove the bread and crackers. You can purchase gluten-free bread and gluten-free crackers. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, bakeries like Zest Bakery and Mariposa Bakery offer an amazing selection of gluten-free baked goods.
  • Menu selection. Decide a menu that is easy and delightful for all of your guests. There are so many foods that are naturally gluten-free, vegan, etc. Focus on those.
  • Be mindful of cross-contamination and watch for hidden ingredients. It is essential to prevent contamination of food in their preparation. During preparation and handling of foods, the counter or table where one cooks should be clean and clear of gluten foods. Same with knives, cutlery or tools uses, to make sure not that nothing is accidentally cross contaminated with gluten. You might want to prepare the gluten-free foods first, before handling gluten filled foods.
  • Gluten-free desserts are available too. If there are children, because sometimes treats contain gluten, there are also gluten-free goodies at the market. Places like Whole Foods and natural health food stores carry a wide selection to select from.
  • Gluten-free beer. And of course, for the adults, one can also get gluten-free beers like the Alchemist Celia Saison or Harvester IPA and Pale Ale. Wine and champagne is also naturally gluten-free.
  • Do not try to guilt your guest into “just eat this or that”. If they are not interested in your gluten-free bread sticks with your gluten-free cheese dip, even though it is gluten-free, it is O.K. (Don't be pushy with it! It will make your guest feel uncomfortable.)

The best advice is to always ask your gluten-free guest any and all questions that you have, so you can be educated on their diet limitations and provide for them, as best possible.

xxo, valerie

Did you have guests who can not eat gluten, how did you provide proper food preparation?