I made sure to spend the weekend after my last set of exams for the semester the way I wanted to, and I believe my expected plans meshed with how things really turned out most perfectly.
After running 5 miles in my new running shoes on Saturday, I took the bus to La Brea to drop off my old pair of Brooks before heading down Melrose towards the direction of the third Real Food Daily I had yet to visit. My first visit in Pasadena was so enjoyable that I literally forced my Dad and sis to try the Santa Monica location with me when they were here back in October. I fell in love with the almond “tuna” during that second visit, and immediately had a craving for it when I was studying for my final set of exams.
Real Food Daily in West Hollywood.
The set-up was similar to that of Pasadena’s (they seriously need to make a bigger sign though—that small rectangle is easy to miss!), with an outdoor seating area and the cashwrap close to the entrance. I could tell it was a busy Saturday afternoon, and I was given a seat at a corner booth.
It was at this time I had my first unintentional celebrity sighting! I recognized the face of Sara Gilbert, but it took me a while to match up the name to her face. I also do not get starstruck very easily, so I didn’t do anything awkward like ask for an autograph or “ask her to take a selfie with me” like my Dad suggested via text
I went ahead and ordered The Great Cardini salad, and when the waiter asked if I wanted blackened seitan, I made my move and requested the almond “tuna” instead. The request was accepted, and I excitedly waited for my dream bowl to arrive.
The Great Cardini with almond “tuna” instead of seitan. Also: tuscan kale, romaine, garbanzo beans, red quinoa, roasted yam croutons, creamy almond shallot dressing, spiced pumpkin seeds, macadamia parmesan, avocado.
Perfection, no? And the almond “tuna”, just for kicks:
Even though it was “just a salad”, I felt quite full, and wasn’t sure if I would have room for the dessert I planned to have that day. I decided that I would wait a couple hours and gauge my fullness then. In the meantime, I killed time by checking out the Beverly Connection a couple blocks down. I figured it would be a good time to also do some holiday gift shopping!
Nothing appealing on the racks at Nordstrom Rack. Trying to figure out if my Dad would wear these sunglasses!
I did get carried away with the shopping, but at least I was able to find something for one of my good friends before heading towards Beverly Hills. It was starting to get chillier around 4pm, and I wondered if I should keep on trekking. It was originally sunny enough for shorts, but I started to doubt my outfit choice for the day…
I did trek on though, and enjoyed the sights around me on my quiet walk to the Hills.
Once the shops started getting fancier, I knew I was in the right location to try and spot…Ice Cream Lab!
Again, it was in an easy-to-miss location, and I probably would have kept walking by it if I had not glanced up for a minute.
The inside of the shop was small, with the left side designated for seating and conversation, and the right where the ice cream was ordered and made. The ice cream is made using liquid nitrogen, and so everything is frozen on the spot!
For my ice cream flavor, I chose to go with one of their rotating flavors—the Beary Cinnful Horchata. I don’t think I’ve ever had a real horchata, but ice cream with cinnamon teddy bear graham crackers, cinnamon sugar, and cinnamon powder topping did sound warm and toasty—even though the resulting product would be freezing cold!
I had my ice cream in a medium cup (their medium is a small for some interesting reason), and I found it to be thick and flavorful, with chunks of cinnamon evenly mixed in. I snacked on this while walking over to the bus stop, and got frequent stares from people who were wondering why this girl in shorts was having ice cream when it was obviously getting colder outside? Or maybe they were thinking, “where can I get myself some liquid nitrogen ice cream?!”
My Beary Cinnful Horchata.
Despite shivering at the bus stop as the sun was setting, I enjoyed my small cup of warmth (at least in flavor…)
Just as Saturday’s plans for fun rolled out with ease, Sunday stepped up to the “friendly challenge” as well. We had our last team long run for the semester, and had a run through downtown LA short of 10 miles. I then was able to make plans with one of my teammates to meet up for lunch in Culver City. Sage Vegan Bistro was our meeting point:
The entrance was confusing, since the only way to enter was through the gorgeous and green outdoor patio area:
I finally met up with my friend, and we were given a table inside.
Everything on the menu sounded delicious—I’m surprised we were both able to agree on an appetizer and entree to share. I definitely wanted our entree to be a pizza, since they are only available at the Culver City location. While waiting for our rolls and pizza, we chatted about running and other things…but mostly running
Soon, it was time to dig into the TexMex Chimichanga Egg Rolls and BLTA Pizza:
Rolls – mixed bell pepper, onion, black beans, cilantro, corn and daiya cheese served with mango chutney sauce // Pizza – pizza crust with tempeh bacon, follow your heart™ mozzarella, hemp seed pesto and piled with chopped romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, avocado, and finished with housemade ranch
My favorite part of the rolls were their extra crispiness. But the mango chutney sauce? It was the perfect sauce to top on the pizza crust!
Speaking of pizza—this was so good. It had a hint of sweetness that I’m going to guess is from the ranch sauce or pesto!
Between the two of us, the pizza and rolls were the right portions for a Sunday lunch. We agreed that we should meet up for lunch sometime again soon, and I added that it would be fun to do something like this especially after the long runs!
So then we parted ways, and I went for a long walk up Sepulveda, so that I would eventually get to Sawtelle for dessert—another cold treat, this time at Blockheads:
My hour plus walk (that was somewhat uphill) got me hungry again, and waiting in line for more crowds…ah, it’s something that I just had to get through!
The walls had some cute penguin-themed art:
And who would not want to take this little cube guy home?
When I finally got up to the counter and figured out the exact combination of shave ice + toppings I wanted, I was glad to be handed this after everything was pushed to completion:
For my shave ice/froyo mix, I went with the peppermint mocha flavor. Mochi (of course!) and honey boba were my toppings—with coconut puree sauce glazed all over!
It had an interesting texture—creamy like fro yo, but had the shredded appearance of shave ice. No wonder this place was so popular…
The rest of the day was spent finding (and purchasing!) a gift for my other friend, and then taking two buses and the rail to get home. I guess I underestimated how much walking (and running!) I did that day because by the time I got home, my legs felt like they had been on one demanding adventure…and not even a food-related one !
How do you treat yourself after making it through a challenging week?