A Year in Blogging With Edible Ink | Lifestyle

Edible Ink is officially one year old!

This post is a celebration of Edible Ink’s first year in the blogosphere, an intent for the year to come and general notes on what I’ve learned about blogging over the past year. Including…

And most of all, I have some special surprises in store for you, too! As a thank you to the readers of Edible Ink, I created a Free Resources page, with two immediately available and ready to download. Read on to find out more.


Me in my natural habitat — in colorful socks, covered in flour.

Why start a blog?

As a food enthusiast, I’d often post photos of my home-cooked meals and restaurant adventures on social media. In particular, my posts about meal prep seemed to pique interest. People were interested in how I meal prepped and what I was cooking.

Interest in meal prep is one of the reasons why I created Edible Ink. That’s why I’m sharing a Weekly Meal Prep Planner on the Free Resources Page!

Go to Free Resources…

But of course, there’s more. I didn’t just want to create a blog chock full of recipes. While they are my go-to when I’m searching for something new, strictly developing recipes was not exactly what I aimed to do.

I’m a writer first and foremost and that’s exactly what I wanted to keep at the forefront of Edible Ink’s mission.

I sought a broad range, including reviews of local restaurants and general creative musings on the topic of food. 

Food is an inevitable joy of life. We all eat it, we all (at some point or another) make it. Sometimes we enjoy it, sometimes it leaves us wanting. Sometimes we have a great relationship with it, and other times, we struggle.

The point is, food — making it, eating it, sharing it with others — is a universal human experience.

I found it an incredible canvas on which to begin writing a blog. 

Here’s the thing. Blogging takes time. It’s not easy. And in a competitive world, sometimes you get sucked in to what other people are doing seeing what works for them and thinking, “Hey, I should do that too.”  

Intention in art is everything. Focusing on that intention, and ensuring each step taken aligns with that intention is not easy.

And so there’s a necessary and natural shift happening here at Edible Ink. The recipes aren’t going away, they’ll just be less frequent. But the shift, primarily, is more about honing down exactly what Edible Ink is meant to be. 

First and foremost, it should be an entertaining, informative experience for you, the reader. 

I aim to entertain, to provoke thought, emotion and appreciation for what’s going on with food around us. That’s why you come to Edible Ink. To read about food in a way you haven’t before, to learn something new and to be entertained. 


Baking is hard work, with high rewards!

How can I improve my blog?

Here are top three areas for improving and building Edible Ink in the next year. These three items can be applied to any website or blog.

1. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Ah, yes SEO. It’s an inescapable technical, unglamorous aspect of having a website of any kind. This year, with an influx of free time, I signed up for an SEO Specialization Certification course through Coursera.

Learn more about SEO in this incredible article courtesy of Moz.

If you’re interested, yes I believe it’s been worth the time and effort! As a result of what I’ve learned, I’ll be going back through the blog and updating posts, including adding recipe PDFs and more value-driven content. Additionally, the content I create moving forward will be crafted with optimization in mind.

2. Engage on social media. 

Personally, I go through push-and-pull struggles with social media. Most of the time, its a valuable tool to share and connect with others. Other times, it’s a black hole of false information and negativity.

But hey, we’re all about finding the bright side here right? That’s why I’ve decided to invest in it as the former — a tool to connect with others, to provide them with valuable content through my blog, and as a means to share content with them directly. 

Additionally, I’ve finally broken down and invested in a social media post scheduler. This helps keep me organized and engaged with social media, without having to spend hours crafting posts every. single. day. More on that to come later.

3. Plan all of the content.

This is KEY. This year, I went through a three-month period where I didn’t post anything. It had to do with current events, yes, but I also felt I didn’t have time to properly craft a post. So I went for an organization and planning method. You can download my post planning spreadsheet template here, on the Free Resources page. This is what I use to organize my posts, and plan ahead. 

Being a valuable asset to your readers is essential to any blog. That’s why I created the Free Resources page! Check out the Post Planning for Bloggers Spreadsheet, available now.

Go to Free Resources...

Past logo designs! Trial and error is a great way to learn.

Is writing a blog worth it?

YES.

It takes time and dedication, but in the end, its worth it.

Like all things, you can experience burnout. When that happens, I’ve learned, it’s a sign to shake things up, take a good look at what I’m doing, the mission behind the blog, it’s content and where find room for improvement.

Striving to be better is an incredible source of motivation. When I feel stagnant or uninspired in my blog, I’ll take a good look at where I can improve, or take a peek at my ongoing idea list and see where I can create something new and exciting. 

I’ve learned so much about crafting content with a purpose, that serves the reader first. As with anything, it’s an ongoing process. Your feedback is extremely valuable!

Most importantly, the blog has provided me an opportunity to connect to my community through writing. Sharing the blog on social media helps to create new community around what I write. 

My main goal with the blog is to use writing to spread joy, knowledge and insight through the love of food. In doing so, I hope to uplift local businesses and create a community around Edible Ink. 

Here’s to another year in the blogosphere!

Thanks for your ongoing support.

A big thank you to you, reader!

Industrial Eats – Buellton, CA | Restaurant Review

A Brief Prologue

I last dined in at Industrial Eats in February of 2020, before the lockdown. Since then, so much has changed for our local restaurants, including a slew of constantly changing Covid-19 health standards. Because of this, I pushed the publication of this review back month after month, waiting for things to “go back to normal” before sharing it. Now, five months later, I’ve decided it’s now or never. Our local restaurants need our support now more than ever, and that’s why I am sharing this review.

While some of the content of the review may not apply at the moment (see: dining indoors), what hasn’t changed is Industrial Eats commitment to serve the community incredible food made from locally sourced ingredients. Currently Industrial Eats is offering limited outdoor dining and take out. Visit their website or their Instagram page for current information.

Lauren and Kori in front of Industrial Eats, posing with a cow sculpture. Graffiti of different foods is painted on the wall beside them.
March 10, 2018 – Outside the entrance of Industrial Eats

Industrial Eats Restaurant Review

If you’ve driven any length of the 101 up from Santa Barbara or down from beyond Paso Robles, you’ve seen them. The great overbearing billboards, advertising, “Everything for the traveler!” Anderson’s Split Pea soup, seemingly the only landmark in Buellton putting the small town on the map. And it may have been, until 2014, when a small restaurant opened just down the road from the famous Anderson’s on Industrial Way.

Where an old warehouse once stood, Industrial Eats made its home. Though it may be in its name, the food here is anything but industrial.

The restaurant is located in a small open space, with high ceilings and two wood-fired pizza ovens in the back. The tables are large, with open seating, community-style. Everything about the welcoming atmosphere seems casual, laid-back and open. That may be why the food, which combines fine dining ingredients and techniques stands out so brightly against the overtly casual come-as-you-are vibe that permeates throughout.

Interior picture of Industrial Eats, showing stacks of plates on the counter entrance and a patina skull.
Casual decor

If this is your first time here, and the seats are available, I recommend sitting at the bar seating facing the ovens. On the counter in front of you, you’ll find a diverse array of cookbooks on topics from bread baking to how to use the whole animal, nose to tail. While I find these books fascinating, and admire the confidence required to put such a book on a restaurant table, the real amazing feats are happening at those wood-fired ovens.

Yes those ovens, and the cooks working in their smoke and flames to produce miraculously tasty pizza, and churning out so much more.

One stand out wood-fired dish is the White Shrimp, cooked in the oven with copious amounts of butter, garlic and herbs, finished with a perfectly toasted hunk of crusty bread. The dish seems simple written on paper but the quality of ingredients and finesse with which its assembled proves anything but. This is the Industrial Eats experience codified: what seems straightforward on the menu arrives on the plate an impossibly complex layering of flavors and techniques. These are the dishes that make you say. “That is so good,” out loud, without a thought, as a simple instinctual reaction to the seemingly impossible tastiness on your tongue.

For so long, I struggled to quantify the exact unique quality that embodies every aspect of dining at Industrial Eats. There’s nothing quite like it that I’ve seen anywhere else, so without a comparable counterpart, I struggled to define it. It left me, for lack of a better term, speechless.

Here you will not find abstract names of any dish. The menu items are described and identified solely by their featured ingredients. That’s all you have to base your order on, and here, that’s all you need.

Interior picture of menu hanging on the wall at Industrial Eats.

It’s common to encounter an ingredient that makes you go “What is that?”. And while you’ll feel wholly uncool asking the person behind the counter to describe Vadovan to you, you should. Because if an unidentified ingredient is what holds you back from ordering an intriguing dish, you are missing out.

Take for example, the Smoked Pheasant Salad. Have I ever ate pheasant before Industrial Eats? No. Could I find it again elsewhere? Maybe. But like this, with the freshest local ingredients, a perfectly balanced dish of rich smokiness, bright citrus and crisp greens? No way.

This is food with attitude. Not a bad attitude — a rebellious one. Where traditional fine dining says, “You can’t do that,” Industrial Eats says, “Watch me.”

This is the indescribable trait of the restaurant and it permeates every corner. From the Mall Rats poster in the restroom to the purposeful absence of structure on the menu. It is this quality that abruptly jolts you from your culinary comfort zone and propels you into a dining experience wherein anything is possible.

There is an acute lack of pretentiousness in Industrial Eats, every aspect of the experience solidifying their philosophy to create a restaurant where they would want to eat, where everyone is welcome, no matter your palate or budget. In its inclusively rebellious way, Industrial Eats pioneers the theory that good food should not require an unlimited budget, or a dress code and should always be accompanied by a sense of humor.

Good food is not defined by the starchiness of the table linens or whether or not your server is wearing a tie. Fine dining here is instead about feeding the community exquisite food, sharing the same values held so near and dear to us all on the Central Coast. That food is about bringing people, all people, together at the same table, enjoying local, organic products, feeding not only our palates (starving for culinary adventure) but satisfying our souls.

Recommended Eats

181 Industrial Way
Buellton, CA 93427

(805) 688-8807 | Website: www.industrialeats.com

Online ordering is currently available. We recommend browsing the Clipboards and Small Plates sections of their menu online — this is where you will find the Smoked Pheasant Salad and White Shrimp mentioned in the review.

However, if you are simply looking for a delicious way to feed your family, Industrial Eats also offers Family Meals. Add a Pizza to your Bolognese or Meatball family meal for an extra Industrial experience!

All opinions shared in this review belong to the author, Lauren Harvey. No compensation was received for this review and is solely based on the author’s previous experiences.

Hapy Bistro – Pismo Beach, CA | Restaurant Review

Finding a Hapy Home

2008: Pasadena, CA

The front of house is about the size of my living room. A thin countertop runs parallel to the order counter, happy customers perched atop each available stool, with hungry patrons standing in line to their backs. Bodies are crammed in one top of another and all the tables are full. The remaining outside tables, situated on a small patio about the same size as the interior, are quickly filling up. The line — full of students, businessmen on lunch break, friends and local families — is rapidly growing out the door. A menu hangs over the order/pickup counter, but there is really only one thing to order…the kebab plate.

The plate is overflowing with different elements that work together to create a flavorful, textural, delightful meal: tangy tzatziki full of garlic; thick hummus nestled under a slab of warm pita bread; a rough-chopped Greek salad bursting with fresh tomatoes, cucumber and generous hunks of salty feta cheese. Rice pilaf spills over the dividers in the styrofoam container. And the juicy, perfectly spiced, brimming with flavor kebabs. The staff here furiously churn out one kebab plate after another, filling orders almost as fast as the line grows.

This is my favorite hole-in-the-wall Greek cafe off the main streets of Pasadena. This place has no front entrance. Enter through the back door, the one that faces the parking lot, not the street, and indulge in this experience.

It is here that I fall in love with this kebab plate, this cuisine, these flavors. It becomes a part of me, connecting with some ancestral thread leading back to my familial roots in the islands of the Mediterranean Sea. This is food that I crave deeply. I move away from Pasadena for college, never to return to this local gem.

2012: New York, NY

I’m living in New York during college, on a student’s budget and, of course, on a student’s schedule. Weekends consist of late night food runs, meandering back to the apartment after a night of exploration. Weekdays bring the desire for something outside of the norm of readily available cafeteria, as comforting to my wallet as to my hungry stomach — and stat! Speed is key in New York City, where everyone moves at a mile a minute.

Food carts are as integral to Manhattan as the horse-drawn carriages that gallivant around Central Park. Here, I find my next love of Greek food – the glorious Gyro sandwich.

Here it is — a perfect, handheld meal that holds, in my mind, as worthy of a rank as a burger or the quintessential New York bodega bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich. The glorious Gyro sandwich gives me all the best parts of the kebab plate in a portable, cheaper vessel. I don’t want to go to a restaurant for this here. I want the nearest food cart, the one that can make it the fastest, because I know, no matter what, it will always be this good.

After college I flee the harsh winters of the east coast in favor of my homeland, the sunny, perpetually dry land of the California coast.

2018: Pismo Beach, CA

Three and a half years into living in San Luis Obispo County and no glorious Gyro to be found. Surely, someone, somewhere has to open an eatery as a testament to the highlights of Greek cuisine. Where is my Gyro? Who has my kebab? My search continues, fruitless.

I hear of a new wine bar & restaurant that’s opened on Oak Park. It’s called H-A-P-Y. What happened to the second P? I don’t drink wine, and am apprehensive. Ultimately, curiosity grips me. I go.

Perusing the menu, I see lamb, beef, chicken, baklava, hummus and bacon wrapped dates! Could this be it? Could this be the Mediterranean paradise I’ve been missing in my life here on the Central Coast? I flip a page in the menu and see it — the kebab plate. One more — the Gyro. The glorious gyro.

And so I order. I take the chance. Will this be a worthy replica of the street Gyros of yesteryear? Craveable Greek food has yet eluded me here. That is, until I order the Hapy Gyro.

If first one eats with their eyes, I am already satisfied. The pita, impossibly soft and fluffy, yet withstanding the generous helping of lettuce, tomato, tzatziki and meat. I scoop it up and take a bite. Incredible. This tastes as good as the authentic food cart gyro sandwich found in the streets of Manhattan. And somehow, its better.

It’s better because situated in the offset corner of a retail shopping complex, this slice of Greek delight resides. Innumerable bottles of wine line the shelves behind and in front of me. Off to my right, a humidor full of cigars. The ceiling above the bar twinkles with the most creative LED light display mimicking the empty sky at night.

I leave, ecstatic.

Most recently, I had the Beef Kebab plate at Hapy, made with filet mignon. I chose for my sides Greek salad and rice pilaf. Again, simply incredible. The generous portions of beef on each kebab were at once, charred to perfection, kissed with the black lines of the grill, and perfectly tender, moist, easy to eat and completely saturated with spices.

I found the tzatziki pleasantly packed with fresh garlic, and the Greek salad leveled up from its usual three ingredient garb, dressed with capers and fresh baby lettuces.

Hapy proved itself two Greek favorites, the Gyro and the Kebab plate, with class, finesse and creativity. After this, I knew I had found my Hapy home.

+ + + + +

Hapy Bistro features a variety of dishes with Greek influence. We recommend:

  • Ahi Tuna Bruschetta
  • Bacon Wrapped Dates
  • Baklava
  • Kebab Plates
  • Gyro
  • Lamb Burger

You can visit Hapy Bistro:

  • Sunday-Wednesday 11 am – 9 pm
  • Thursday 11 am – 9:30 pm
  • Friday & Saturday 11 am – 10 pm

821 N Oak Park Blvd + Pismo Beach, CA + 93449 + 805.270.4327

https://www.hapybistro.com/

La Locanda Restaurant Review | San Luis Obispo, CA

all images via lalocandaslo.com

Off a quiet side street in downtown San Luis, La Locanda provides a quaint and relaxed dining experience.

The restaurant is small and leaves you feeling you’ve had an incredible meal at a close friend’s house.

We visited on May 12 (Mother’s Day) as a family outing. The pizza oven was in need of repairs and was inoperable for the night. Initially we were disappointed (we love pizza!) but as we browsed the menu and heard the multiplicity of nightly specials, all was soon forgiven.

To start: the burrata caprese, beef carpaccio and escargot. The burrata cheese was extra creamy with a hint of tang. Peppery arugula and sharp Parmesan cheese served as the classic complement to beef carpaccio. On a personal note, I do not eat escargot, however, those in my party who did highly recommend it!

Dinner was a mix of classic Italian pasta (Lasagne, Gnocchi and Cacio e Pepe) and French-influenced entrees (Duck L’Orange, Rack of Lamb with mustard sauce and Baked Salmon).

The pasta at La Locanda is fresh and handmade. You can truly taste the difference! Cacio e Pepe is a simple dish, and when done right like at La Locanda, simply irresistible. Sharp pepper, smooth cheese and fresh al dente tagliatelle. A delight!

The gnocchi is served in your choice of sauce, in this case a Gorgonzola cream. The pillows of gnocchi were impossibly fluffy. Lasagne is served with a whipped bechemel and bolognese sauce adding a layer of depth and richness. I recommend an order to share for the table, just to try it.

The special entrees were well-executed and equally delicious. For a first time visit, I highly recommend the pasta dishes.

Dessert was, like dinner, a mix of Italian and French influence. The chocolate mousse towered above all else, soft and rich.

For something out-of-the-box, try the poached pears for dessert.

We are looking forward to going back to La Locanda to try the rest of the menu — and a pizza or two!

La Locanda + 1137 Garden Street + San Luis Obispo, CA + 93401 + 805.548.1750 + http://www.lalocandaslo.com

Flour House Restaurant Review | San Luis Obispo, CA

Authentic Italian with a Coastal Vibe.

all photos via http://www.flourhouseslo.com

Flour House is unassuming — it’s name and decor is simplistic, sleek and modern. A stark contrast to the food, which is, as a whole, vehemently steeped in Italian tradition, executed with compassion, care and obvious knowledge of the cuisine.

This place does not look like your run-of-the-mill ‘upscale’ Italian eatery, because, simply put, it’s not.

There is a bar complete with sports TV, where you may sit and enjoy a cocktail, and a fair-sized floor for table seating as well as a heated back patio. I recommend eating inside, primarily because of the two glass-paneled sections where you can watch the creation of pizza and the fabrication of pasta, respectively.

Yes, you can literally watch your pasta being made, pressed and carefully cut all before you eat it. Pizza making on display is not uncommon — but the making of pasta is a different story. The fact that Flour House takes the time to handcraft their pasta is something they should, rightfully, be proud of.

I recommend ordering like you really should at any Italian eatery — family style. Share everything, that way you can try more.

For four people, we ordered the Pane al Forno (pizza bread, basically), Arancini to share and the Carpaccio di Bresaola salad for starters. The Arancini was crispy on the outside and luxuriously cheesy inside, just as expected.

The Carpaccio di Bresaola salad was a highlight. Thin slices of Bresaola (wine-cured beef) topped with arugula, tomatoes, Parmesan and a light lemon pesto dressing. Refreshing, salty and absolutely delicious!

For Napoletana pizza, we ordered two: the Americana and the Capricoisa. Both were great, though I favored the Americana, with sopressata and basil. The pizza selection is generous, and there is something to satisfy everyone’s appetite.

A note on Flour House’s pizza: as the menu explicitly states, it is in the style of Naples pizza. That means fired in a 1,000 degree oven. The fresh mozzarella — a prerequisite of any pizza on the menu, clearly sitting at the edge of the pizza prep table, slowly draining in a giant colander — is left melty and moist, so the bottom of the pizza is not firm. It may not be what you are expecting, or used to, but it is how traditional Naples pizza is made. And in Naples, they are dead serious about pizza.

On to the pasta. You can try whatever you fancy at Flour House, but please, you must order the Paccheri. Handmade pasta stuffed with crispy cured meats (mortadella), a decadent cream sauce and topped with pistachio crumble. It is possible one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had — ever. Yes, I’d rank it next to the handmade gnocchi I ate in a back alley of Florence, Italy. It was that good.

In general, the pasta dishes at Flour House have a creative edge. Not your standard meatballs and marinara, Flour House balances Italian tradition with culinary creativity.

But wait, dessert! The tiramisu was moist, with a perfect balance of espresso bitterness and sugary sweetness. The Millefoglie with pistachio and Chantilly cream was equally delightful.

Overall, Flour House was a worthy experience. The waitstaff was friendly and cheerful and the experience of watching our food made by hand was at the same time fascinating and familial.

One last note: order a Chinotto (Italian Coke). It’s a San Pellegrino beverage with hints of orange and anise. Palate cleansing and complimentary to the heavy cheese-laden Italian dishes, it’s as unique as the experience Flour House offers: classic Italian cuisine, prepared with respect for antiquity and just a dash of modern experimentation.

Flour House + 690 Higuera Street + San Luis Obispo, CA + 93401-3511 – (805) 544-5282 + flourhouseslo.com