Brunch & Beach

Brunch & Beach

My sister needed me to check out a potential housing option in the OC, and so I thought it would be the perfect reason to head down to the area for a brunch & beach day. Lucky for me, one of my undergrad assistants was able to take care of some small things for me that Sunday, and so I did not have to step into lab. It feels great to delegate work sometimes, haha.

I picked up E from a nearby Expo line station after my morning run and shower. From there, we got on the freeway and it was pretty much an easy Sunday drive down to Aliso Viejo.

Bagels & Brew
Bagels & Brew

I suggested we eat out at Bagels & Brew, mostly because of their unicorn bagel, but they had other enticing options as well.

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We decided to eat inside at a booth, but ordered first at the counter. E got a sandwich of course, and a grande sized coffee. I went for the unicorn/rainbow bagel with jalapeño cheddar cream cheese, avocado, tomato, and lime juice…otherwise known as “Aliso Viejo” style.

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For my drink, the agave nectar latte sounded warm and sweet, so I had that to accompany my meal.

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Everything was piled on so high since it was served open face, so I needed the help of a fork to ensure no avocado slice or cream cheese drop was left behind.

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We sat for a good half hour at our booth after eating, and then got up and walked around the shopping plaza. This Bagels & Brew was actually near the Native Foods we went to for my birthday last year, so I was circling familiar territory.

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E and I had fun walking in and out of stores like Michael’s, Lowe’s, and B&N, joking about what we could get to decorate our lab office, picking up some Drain-O, and browsing through aisles of overpriced books. After killing some time at the shopping plaza, we headed out towards Aliso Beach. The temperature was starting to creep up without warning, so driving with the A/C on was much needed.

Walking to the beach
Walking to the beach

We parked on a slope in a residential area, about 10 minutes away by foot from the beach. The walk down was easy to navigate, and when we got to the sand, we took our socks and shoes off only to be burned by the sun-exposed sand.

At the beach
At the beach

The water had a truly beautiful blue hue though, and even though we didn’t bring a towel to sit down on, we managed and found a nice little spot to sit down at and enjoy the relaxing view.

After about an hour of sun-bathing and self-reflecting, we got up and made our ascent back to the car. Dusting the sand off our legs and feet was quite the task, but we did the best we could before getting in the car and driving off to Mission Viejo.

Several entrances on freeways and u-turns later, we stopped for a smoothie/acai bowl break. That helped cool off our beach-raised core body temperatures!

A PB acai bowl to help cool off...
A PB acai bowl to help cool off…

And finally, we made it to the house that could potentially house my sister. The current tenant seemed friendly, and E and I took a look around while I took some pictures for my sis. There were two cute fur babies (a black and a gray/white cat!!) who apparently took ownership of the domain. My sister had been wanting this place to work out, and when I sent her the pictures, she was definitely sold. I mean…I couldn’t argue about her decision. With a backyard looking the way this place’s does, how could anyone say no?

I thought she should say yes based on the view alone...
I thought she should say yes based on the view alone…

We immediately drove back to LA after, and after dropping E off, I surprisingly didn’t feel as exhausted as I did last weekend. In fact, I felt reenergized! Just comes to show how a full day off can work wonders! The pint of the weekend was So Delicious’ Soymilk Peanut Butter Zigzag, and to me it was yet another disappointment.

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I had my eye on this flavor for a while, but never thought about getting it because of my love for Snickerdoodle and Cookie Dough like I previously mentioned. It had a number of peanut butter chunks and chocolate pieces, but there just wasn’t enough PB to balance out the chocolate. In other words, a flavor worth missing out on in my opinion…

What do you think of the rainbow/unicorn foodie trend?

Bagels & Brew Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Moving Out, Flying Out

Moving Out, Flying Out

My sister’s graduation fell on a Friday and we felt like there was so much to do in so little time! While I went out for a long run at Woodward Park, my Dad drove over to my sister’s dorm to help her finish up with packing. Our close friend also came down for the weekend, and helped out.

After my run, I showered and got ready to meet everyone for brunch. My sister wanted it to be at Benaddiction since that has been her all-time favorite place in Fresno since we both discovered it during one of my earlier visits. We caught up quickly and laughed a lot. The restaurant was already pretty loud so it was no big deal. My friend and sis got their usual favorites while I got a simple potato plate. I also had some of mint chocolate chip pancakes they just had to order…

After brunch, I left with my Dad and the both of us went back to the Airbnb while my sister got ready for the ceremony. We met her and my friend again about an hour before, and my sister left us all to join her class.

After looking at the program though, we were dreading how long everything was going to take…My sister’s major was one of the first ones to step up though, so we didn’t have to wait too long for her to get her spotlight 🙂

After the ceremony, it was blazing hot outside (still…) and I wanted to just head back and cool off but of course we had to take pictures. I headed back with my sister and friend since I was staying in the dorm for the night.

We rested for a bit before making plans to head out to The Cheesecake Factory. It was going to be a late dinner, but surprisingly, not as packed as you’d think it would be on a graduation day.

We met up with another one of my sister’s friends who graduated with a degree in Communications. After dinner (and drinks for some, haha), we were back at the dorm around 10:30. My sister’s friend from lab came over with some friends, and by the time it was 11:30, there were seven people packed into a tiny dorm room. It was a hilarious sight…something I probably would have found humorous at the time if my eyes weren’t so droopy. I retired for the night earlier than everyone else and slept like a baby!

The next day was a day full of packing and driving. We left Fresno mid-morning and got to Irvine around 5pm, and had to quickly catch the sales clerk at the public storage facility my sister was keeping her things for the summer. We had to climb a flight of stairs to unload her stuff into, and by the time we were done, we were all ready to eat before heading back to my place to rest for the night.

Veggie Grill sounded perfect, and we were able to head to the one at The Market Place…a HUGE outdoor mall/shopping complex in Irvine.

Veggie Grill, The Market Place
Veggie Grill, The Market Place
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I wanted to try a seasonal menu item, and the Tofu Poke Bowl seemed like it would be nourishing and flavorful.

Spring seasonal menu!
Spring seasonal menu!

It looked small at first glance, but the flavors were anything but. The rice was sticky and filling (sushi rice!), and along with the pickled cucumbers, avocado, edamame, and tofu cubes, this dish certainly was satisfying.

Tofu Poke Bowl
Tofu Poke Bowl
Sparkle!
Sparkle!

After eating, we had another 40 minutes on the road before arriving in Santa Monica. The drive back wasn’t too hectic, as we weren’t in a race against the clock to see if we could beat the closing time of a storage place. Once we got back to my place, the three of us started arranging our things and emotionally preparing ourselves for our Trans-Atlantic journey the next day—we were hours away from adopting the title of “Tourists” for the next two weeks!

Her 21st

Her 21st

Last weekend’s events were spectacular. I am so grateful for being able to visit my sister on a milestone occasion—her 21st birthday!

cakkkkke
Slice of chocolate birthday cake. Can’t pass up a slice in celebration!

I wanted to maximize the time I spent with her so much that I took a night MegaBus so that I could get to Oakland by 7am that Friday morning. From there, one of our besties who also didn’t want to miss out picked me up, and after getting coffee we drove 3 hours to Fresno!

My sister couldn’t contain her excitement when she knew we were close. She skipped class (haha) so that we could all have lunch together at Taqueria Don Pepe.

don_pepe
Taqueria Don Pepe

It was incredibly hot outside (pushing 100s!!) but they had a small, shaded patio where we could sit down and enjoy our lunch. My sister and I both got vegetarian tortes while our friend got enchiladas (despite talking nonstop about her taco craving for the 3 hours I drove with her, lol).

don_pepe
Pickle bar, small interior

The torta was made with a soft but toasted hoagie roll and filled with refried beans, good ol’ avocado, tomato slices, onion, and shredded cheese. My friend seemed to like her enchiladas, but she actually got bored mid-plate and started talking about splitting fries with my sister from Dog House Grill next door!

veg_torta
Veg torta anyone?

We went shopping for a bit afterwards at Target, and then came back to my sister’a dorm for some rest before heading out to dinner.

filling
Everythannnng in here

My sis and friend spent forever doing their makeup, and opened a bottle of wine to drink before we left. I was “designated mommy” since I don’t drink, so I let my sis enjoy her new-found freedom with alcohol. She’s actually probably the smartest person I know when it comes to drinking safety…she did her research and did not go crazy at all. She told me she stayed hydrated and drank only after eating something substantial the night she had her first drink, on her actual birthday. Obviously I’m bragging now because I’m such a proud older sis.

After they had their fun, I drove us all to The Cheesecake Factory because my sister had a giftcard she wanted to use, and because I had never been to TCH!!

lol
The Cheesecake Factory on a Friday…so busy!!

We had to wait about 45 minutes before we could get a table, and when we were taken to our seats we came across a server who was scrambling to set up our table. It was the most awkward thing ever, as it looked like he was literally playing musical chairs with silverware. We stood there in polite silence, but were all actually thinking what the…

drinks_chips
Sis and friend’s drinks…I helped myself to chips and guac.

We ordered A TON, and I ended up reprimanding both ladies for it afterwards because we needed up taking four boxes home. We devoured a whole bread basket, shared chips and guacamole, and my sis and friend ordered huge plates of burgers with sides. My sis got a side salad that she didn’t even touch because she got the kale salad appetizer. I tried the mozzarella flatbread, and while it was crisp and creamy from the cheese, it was not the most stellar thing to cross paths with my tastebuds.

pizza
A sub-par flatbread pizza

After dinner, we walked through the mall for a bit and then drove back. We finished the night with the Bratz movie (just to make fun of it, and it was unsurprisingly the only thing we could all agree upon) and I was the first one to fall asleep.

I woke up the next morning to squeeze in a 6 miler, but as soon as the ladies woke up, we for ourselves ready for an eggy brunch—Fresno style!

Do you drink?

What was your first alcoholic drink ?

Taqueria Don Pepe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

All Aboard the 534!

All Aboard the 534!

Not having to go into lab for TWO CONSECUTIVE WHOLE DAYS called for a celebration. I could have spent these days in a deep sleep induced by an ice cream coma, but instead chose to make a day trip pit of it.

So on Labor Day, I did sleep in till about 8, got ready around 10, and took a very short train ride to downtown Santa Monica to board a Metro bus that would take me to Malibu.

welcome_tom_alibu
Welcome to Malibu!

The 534, or the Malibu line as I like to call it, drives alongside the beach up to Pacific Palisades and then Malibu. It’s about a 30-40 minute drive depending on traffic, which made its strong presence the morning I left and when I got back around 5.

I got to Malibu at the perfect time: when I was hungry and ready for a proper lunch. I got off close to the Malibu County Mart/Mall, and then walked over to another strip mall where Ollo Restaurant was located.

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Ollo Restaurant, Malibu

I had to wait 15 minutes for a table, but once I was seated I was able to appreciate the decadent decor.

barrr
Seating at the bar.

Morning talk shows were playing on a TV across the room, and every table was packed with couples, families, and brunch enthusiasts (identified by their penchant for plates of pancakes, eggs, and coffee mugs).

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Ollo Menu

There were plenty of veggie friendly options, which made it hard to choose, but ultimately I decided to get the Tumeric Tofu Bowl.

tumeric
Tumeric Tofu Bowl

If I had to describe the bowl, I would definitely say it was like a rice bowl with salad on the surface. It was as if I ordered a rice bowl and salad bowl, and decided to combine them on my own!

tumeric_tofu_closeup
Tofu bowl close-up BECAUSE!

Everything was dressed in a green goddess dressing, which seemed to be a creamy avocado dressing if I had to guess. The tofu was soft and lightly spiced, but my favorite aspect of this dish was combining the crisp romaine lettuce along with a spoonful of rice that was already doused in dressing. Texture at its finest!

The bowl was pretty pricey ($17 after tax and tip), but I thought of it as paying for the experience vs. paying for a solitary bowl.

lagoon
Off to the beach!

The lagoon/beach was just a 10 minute walk away, so my meal went to work for me right away. I was totally unprepared for the beach, but I didn’t mind not packing a swimsuit/towel/sunscreen/etc.

lagoooooooooooon
BEEEEAAAACCCCCHHHHHH

I came, I saw, I took selfies by the lagoon, and then headed back toward civilization…because gelato was calling my name!

Ollo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Easy-goin’ Okie Eats

Easy-goin’ Okie Eats

It felt so freeing to be able to take a break from being a “city girl”, and take a week off to go to my first home of Tulsa, OK. It was an easy-going week filled with naps, cuddling with my cat, runs at River Park (though they were shorter than what I’m used to doing, due to some shin pain I’ve been having), ice cream and custard runs, get-togethers, shopping, movie and Olympics-watching, and getting in as much home-cooked dinners as possible.

I had this Chobani Flip flavor (Chocolate Haze Craze) with hazelnut pieces and chocolate as a snack my second night there.
I had this Chobani Flip flavor (Chocolate Haze Craze) with hazelnut pieces and chocolate as a snack my second night there.

In the beginning of the week, I spent most of my time at home, and when my Dad got off work, we would go grocery shopping or to River Park for some breath of fresh air. After familiarizing myself with the area, I went to River Park in the following days for morning runs. My left posterior shin was acting up, so my runs ended up being short and semi-sweet.

Braum's Dairy
Braum’s Dairy

On one night, we went stopped by Braum’s—a ubiquitous dairy shop in Oklahoma—for some late night ice cream. It’s almost like the dessert version of McDonald’s in Oklahoma. I got a cup of birthday cake ice cream, which ended up being a bright blue scoop with soft chunks of vanilla pound cake mixed in.

Braum's Birthday Cake
Braum’s Birthday Cake

Since my Dad had a free pastry to redeem at Panera, we went there for breakfast. We split a coffee, an egg sandwich with cheese and avocado, and a sugary-sweet bearclaw.

Panera Breakfast with Dad!
Panera Breakfast with Dad!

We didn’t eat out much on this trip because I wanted to take advantage of having home-cooked meals prepared (with love J ) and we also ate at get-togethers at friends’ houses. For lunch on my last full day in Tulsa, we went to a housewarming of one of my dad’s co-workers. They had Desi food catered, and we piled on the trays as we made our way down the marble countertop in the kitchen of their new home.

Desi food!!
Desi food!!

Later that day, my Dad and I went to the movies to watch Ghostbusters (while I love the SNL ladies, the movie was ‘meh’), and afterwards, had a treat to cool-off that’s favored in the Midwest and South over froyo! I think there is only about two froyo places in all of Tulsa, and if you have a craving for something sweet, frozen, but not ice cream, your next best thing is frozen custard.

Welcome to Andy's!
Welcome to Andy’s!

Andy’s Frozen Custard was very close to the theater we went to, and I told my Dad I would pay for the both of us. My way of saying thanks for not having to buy groceries that week 😉

How is custard made?
How is custard made?

They had so many variations on frozen custard available. While vanilla and chocolate are the main base flavors, they can be included in the creation of a sundae or concrete, the latter of which involves a crazy amount of mix-ins and sauces depending on what combination caught your eye.

Chocolate & Vanilla Frozen Custard
Chocolate & Vanilla Frozen Custard

My Dad and I decided to keep it simple and just get a cone/cup of the base flavors chocolate and vanilla. We enjoyed our desserts outside, and I took note of the smooth, creamy taste of my custard. It was light, but not froyo-light. It actually had the creaminess of a soft-serve you’d get at a fast food restaurant.

I knew that after giving one of the base flavors a try, I would have to come back to try a concrete. Seeing as my next trip won’t be until December, I’ll probably have the chance to choose from seasonal flavors…like candy cane!

Overall, my six-day trip to Oklahoma was a good one. I was sad to leave so soon, and honestly wouldn’t have mind staying another week. Time will fly by before I know it though, and I am planning to make my winter stay a longer one.

Until Next Time...
Until Next Time…

Andy's Frozen Custard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hokey Poke & Donut Dance

Hokey Poke & Donut Dance

Last Saturday, I had two reasons to dance (even though I did not actually do so): 1) I tried a (veggie) poke bowl for the first time and 2) I had a “donut” from another well-established LA donut shop.

Before all that however, I decided to stop by the grocery store on Friday before heading home, and while passing by the dairy aisle, I saw that four flavors of Fage’s Crossovers line were on sale…like, $0.39 each on sale!!

MAJOR CLEARANCE YOGURTSSS!
MAJOR CLEARANCE YOGURTSSS!

I’ve tried the coconut curry flavor before combined with cashews, and I still think its my long-standing favorite.

Coconut Curry + Cashews
Coconut Curry + Cashews

The tomato basil flavor with almonds had a tangy taste, and the almonds had a spicy kick as well.

Tomato Basil + Roasted Almonds
Tomato Basil + Roasted Almonds

When I was eating the olive thyme flavor that had roasted almonds as well, it tasted more like sour cream! An awkward flavor profile indeed, but you have to give Fage credit for trying something bold!

Olive Thyme + Roasted Almonds
Olive Thyme + Roasted Almonds

And then there was the carrot ginger flavor with roasted pistachios. I was a fan of this flavor, and would rank it just behind the coconut curry flavor. I think it helps that both of these yogurts are paired with my favorite nuts (cashews and pistachios)!

Carrot Ginger + Pistachios
Carrot Ginger + Pistachios

I woke up on Saturday with intentions to run in the morning before heading into lab for a bit, but I was feeling more exhausted than I thought I felt when I hit the pillow on Friday night. A little extra rest never hurt anyone, so I ended up skipping the run and reasoned with myself that the additional rest would help me run faster in the 5k race I signed up for on Sunday. 

Since my roommate has been busy studying for her CPA exams, she (and her car 😉 ) have been unavailable in joining me to go grocery shopping. This means making an afternoon out of errands, and making the process easier by getting everything done at the Grove…

Before stopping by the Trader Joe’s in the area, I needed to take care of my grumbling stomach with lunch. I came to the realization that Mainland Poke was just a fifteen minute walk away, and after taking a quick look at their menu to ensure they had a veggie option, I was set on going there for a refreshing, crisp meal.

The hot sun beating down made it a harder stroll than it should have been, but after I found the small building and entered, I felt about 20 degrees cooler when I saw all of the cold greens and veggies lined across the counter.

Mainland Poke
Mainland Poke

I was able to customize my poke bowl right from the beginning. I started off with a kale base, and then added cubed tofu, edamame, cucumber, guacamole, wasabi aioli, lemon oil, and pickled ginger.

My Poke Bowl
My Poke Bowl

There wasn’t much room inside, but I managed to find a seat,and was able to chow down on my bowl with chopsticks in peace. The aioli wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be (you’d think it would be with wasabi in its name), so I was grateful for my scoop of guacamole in providing some flavor.

Not surprisingly, I was craving more carbs and something sweet after this light lunch, and I knew this would be the perfect time to check out fonuts before really getting some grocery shopping done.

This way for fonuts?
This way for fonuts?

fonuts was in an unassuming location, with solid doors and tinted windows. Upon stepping inside, everything was wooden from the floors to the walls. It was also oddly quiet.

Fortunately, there were a few other people in there to keep it from feeling like a horror movie!

It may be a little too silent for my liking...but there are "donuts" here!
It may be a little too silent for my liking…but there are “donuts” here!

The unique thing about these “fake” donuts is that they are baked, and not fried. So actually, they’re more like cake. Which is cool, because there is nothing wrong with cake!

The flavor that stood out to me the most was the Hawaiian. It was coco-nutty on the inside and out. It was soft and chewy, with a coconut cream filling.

The Hawaiian
The Hawaiian

I took it over to the countertop they had set up by the wall, and ate it there. While it may have looked like a donut, it tasted like a creamy sponge cake. To be honest, I’m not sure why donuts get so much hype. I guess it’s because I’m a die-hard ice cream fanatic, so when it comes to baked goods, I’m going to be nothing more than appreciative.

Have you ever had a poke bowl?

Baked goods or ice cream?

(Fōnuts) Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Springtime Sushi

Springtime Sushi

Is it really already APRIL?! By the way the weather has been acting, it’s pretty real indeed!

Thanks to my tax return, I finally invested in a BedJet, so it looks like a creature from Star Wars is “hiding” under my bed covers…at least I no longer have to worry about participating in A/C Wars with my roommate! I absolutely love this little machine, and the its ability to keep my skin cool throughout the night. Why didn’t I get this sooner when I was going through ED recovery night sweats?!

I also had the urge to let off some steam on Instagram, after being whistled at a couple times last week while running. Some may say it is to be expected when running outdoors in the city, but that is by no means a valid, acceptable reason. I should be able to wear what I want to workout, and not feel ashamed, fearful, or intimidated by others for doing so.

Loving my new BedJet, and still gonna rock my Nike pros!
Loving my new BedJet, and still gonna rock my Nike pros!

Now onto the foodie-things of last weekend. Since I did not have to set one foot into lab over the weekend, I was able to hang out with my roommate on Saturday afternoon. We went to an outdoor music festival, and it was blazing HOT outside. I made the mistake of wearing strappy sandals, taking advantage of the fact I did not have to go into lab, but forgetting that heat + walking + sandals = blisters. UGH.

Jogasaki---my first food truck in LA (besides Waffles de Liege offered at a race I ran in last year...)
Jogasaki—my first food truck in LA (besides Waffles de Liege offered at a race I ran in last year…)

There were food trucks at the venue, and I took it as an opportunity to try my first one (besides the waffle one at a race I went to last year). Jogasaki was the most popular one there, and the only vegetarian dish they had was the veggie burrito.

The truck menu.
The truck menu.

I don’t know why they didn’t just call it a Sushirito though, since the other menu items were variations on the sushirito…

Veggie Burrito---er, Sushirito
Veggie Burrito—er, Sushirito

My sushirito was cylindrical roll of rice, filled with cucumber, avocado, and marinated seaweed, all of which was rolled up in rice paper. My roommate got a grilled cheese and tater tots (and I cannot imagine how she ate that hot food in the blazing hot weather…). We ate our meals on the grass, and then got up afterwards to check out the freebies.

Spring time music, food, and freebies.
Spring time music, food, and freebies.

The live music was pretty lame because there really was no defined set of acts and performers. A couple people got on stage to say “check, check”, and then they reverted to just playing pre-recorded music.

At least the freebies were worth it. I ended up with several shirts, KIND bars, sunglasses, and between my roommate and I, a bouquet of flowers for our apartment.

Free flowers!!
Free flowers!!
Some of dem freebies
Some of dem freebies

On Sunday, I felt the need to go shopping! I ended up going alone to Culver City after my morning long run, and ventured inside the Culver City Mall for the first time. When I lived in NorCal, my local mall got on my nerves after a while because it was pretty much the only place my friends and I would go, but stepping inside the CCM made me remember those good ol’ times and how much I miss those days 😛

I stopped by the Sprouts next to the mall before heading home, and pick up two Enlightened pints that have been all the rage on Instagram.

Those swirls... :D :D :D
Those swirls… 😀 😀 😀

Frozen Hot Cocoa blew me away…probably because the ingredients listed GHEE as an ingredient (which I have never seen as an ice cream ingredient before!!) and the swirls were insanely delicious. Of course I soon got tired of the chocolate, but those swirls!! I topped the pint with a FitElite Birthday Cake bar, which I bought only because a GNC was in the mall and I had not tried this bar flavor yet. I honestly was not a fan, since it tasted like bland vanilla fudge taffy with a smattering of spherical sprinkles :/ .

Frozen Hot Cocoa pint topped with a FitElite Birthday Cake Bar.
Frozen Hot Cocoa pint topped with a FitElite Birthday Cake Bar.
Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch
Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch

Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch on the other hand, made my Monday evening pleasant. After a long day in lab, coming home to this pint mixed with cookie pieces and oatmeal flakes in a caramel base was super comforting. If the other Enlightened ice cream flavors are just as good as these two, I think I’m going to have many worthwhile Sprouts grocery shopping trips in the near future 😉

Have you heard of BedJet?

Would you eat a sushirito?

Jogasaki Sushi Burrito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christmas and Chimera

Christmas and Chimera

My family and I spent a busy Christmas Eve shopping (yes, but at least I got my sister exactly what she wanted 😉 ), and cooking dishes for a dinner we were attending that evening at a friends house. The dinner was a success, but we got home pretty late and all of us wanted to go to sleep right away. That meant gift-opening would be postponed until Christmas morning…which is the norm for lots of folks, but we got into the habit of having our gift exchange on Christmas Eve, so it was a little change for us 😀

On Christmas morning, I felt like having some Talenti, and so that’s exactly what I did.

talenti_christmasday
Talenti Gelato – Caramel Apple Pie

Since we didn’t have any dessert for after our Christmas dinner, it was fitting that this flavor of Talenti was Caramel Apple Pie. It had chunks of dried apples and gobs of cinnamon swirl! I didn’t eat this whole pint for breakfast, thinking my sis would wake up and want to try some, but I did finish it off later in the day when she expressed her disinterest in this flavor. Oh well, more for me!

Our dinner spread was just enough for all of us, and was pretty much like our past Thanksgiving meals. Our Tofurky ball with rice stuffing was the star of course, and it was what I helped myself to the most…and the roasted brussels sprouts.

thanksgiving_dinner
Christmas Dinner

The next day, the weather took a sharp turn. It had been sunny (if not warm) for the first few days of my visit, but by Saturday, it was pouring. We had to make a quick dash inside to our late lunch destination in order to avoid getting drenched.

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Chimera Cafe, Brady Arts District

Once we were inside, we picked up some menus, and tried to decide what vegan dishes sounded appetizing in this Tulsa establishment that reminded me of a West Coast coffee shop.

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Chimera sweets and decor.

After making our orders at the front, we found some seats by the window and chatted while we waited for our food.

chimera
Sitting by the window, and admiring the rain.

My plate was the Daydream Nation, a hearty plate filled to the brim with greens, tofu, avocado, adzuki bean strips, vegan cream cashew sauce, roasted potatoes, and other fun vegan delights I can’t particularly remember. The bean strips were my favorite though!

daydreamnation
Daydream Nation 🙂

My sister happened to be craving a vegan caesar salad this entire time, so when she saw it on the menu, she chose to get it right away. Her bowl was more crouton than salad, but she enjoyed her bowl. My Dad got the tofu scramble plate, which featured all of the fixins of my plate, plus a side of toast that came with jam.

salad_breakfastscramble
Vegan Caesar Salad & Tofu Scramble

Our rainy day lunch kept us warm and nourished as we drove home in the rain. The downpour got even worse, and the roads we drove on to get back home were starting to get muddy and flooded. That meant only one thing: changing into pajamas and wearing some cozy bunny slippers.

slippers_and_rain
Cozy in my slippers on this rainy day!

My sis and I also tried another cookie dough cafe flavor, which was ‘Monster’. It was a chunky flavor mixed with M&Ms, peanut butter, and oats. It wasn’t our favorite, especially when compared to the cookies and cream flavor, but it was something worth snacking on as we passed the rest of the rainy day away.

cookiedough_monster
MONSTER Cookie Dough

Do you miss the holidays now that it’s 2016??

Chimera Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sub-par Salad

Sub-par Salad

After almost two weeks of hyperactivity and hyperstress, I’m glad to be typing this after my midterm day has passed 🙂

But to keep my sanity during the week prior to exam day, I had Muscle Pharm’s Combat Crunch Birthday Cake bars to keep me pushing through:

 Look at that pop of color!
Look at that pop of color!

Dare I say it tasted better than a Quest bar? Haha…it also took me a while to eat these, since they have a super chewy consistency. I love how the rainbow crunchies looks like pieces mixed in funfetti icing :9

By the time the weekend rolled around, I had to remain in study mode, but that didn’t stop me from going out for lunch and dessert! If it meant walking down Larchmont with a folder full of notes and powerpoint slides in hand, so be it.

 Larchmont Bungalow
Larchmont Bungalow

I had to wait around twenty minutes for a table, because the Saturday lunch crowd was already settled in. When I did get inside though, I was able to order at the counter right away, and then was free to find a table.

 Inside of Larchmont Bungalow.
Inside of Larchmont Bungalow.

I ended up sitting outside on the patio anyways, since the cozy tables inside were all taken up :/

 How could the lighting be this bad outside in the sun??
How could the lighting be this bad outside in the sun??

There was some shade, but it would have been nice if there was a fan in the vicinity as well. The air was quite still, warm, and ended up being the perfect condition for unwelcome flies. Eww…

I had ordered the Vegan Cobb Salad, which was described as containing smokey-maple “bacon” tempeh, vegan mock chicken, avocado, shopped tomatoes, vegan mozzarella, and creamy vegan caesar dressing. When it came to my table, I was more than disappointed with the mediocre portion size.

 In full view.
In full view: I paid $12.95 for this folks, -.-

The vegan cheese was bland, and the mock meats/tempeh/bread roll were super dry.

 View from a different angle.
View from a different angle.

The dressing was the “best” part, adding a little bit of flavor to an otherwise boring, I-could-have-made-this-at-home dish.

 Hmm...I guess the dressing helped.
Hmm…I guess the dressing helped.

I guess no one comes to Larchmont Bungalow for their salads…when they offer red and blue velvet pancakes and full-size handholds, I can understand why.

Good thing I was able to make up for this sub-par lunch with a refreshing walk down Beverly Blvd…all the way down to my first donut sundae…

Have you ever paid way too much for a salad?

Larchmont Bungalow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

June’s Jumpin’ Start

June’s Jumpin’ Start

This past weekend was one of those weekends that went from being unplanned to booked! I was already looking forward to being able to wake up when I wanted to on Saturday—without having to worry about rushing to lab—but other than that, I didn’t have much planned other than checking out a cafe in the area I was grocery shopping, and then just relaxing at home.

But when one of my friends texted me Friday morning about her birthday celebrations the next day, and how she would be glad if I could make it, I couldn’t deny the opportunity to connect with my class friends over some birthday dinner. After all, it had been a month since we last met up at our professor’s end-of-the-year gathering!

I continued on with my Friday doing some low-key data analysis in lab. Before heading home, I stopped by Ralph’s and happened to stumble across the Arctic Zero flavor I thought I would never come across…

artic zero key lime pie

The Key Lime Pie Chunky Pint! Though, to be honest, this flavor didn’t meet my high-to-the-sky expectations. I found the lime flavor to be a bit too tangy, and the graham cracker pieces to not have much flavor. I guess after sampling all of those Ben & Jerry’s Core Pints as of late, my standards for the perfect pint of ice cream have risen to a higher standard. But to be fair, Arctic Zero is technically a “frozen dessert”, and for being only 300 calories, it’s certainly not something to brush off..

On Saturday morning, I tried another new-to-me product that I’ve been waiting ages to try—Chobani’s Salted Caramel Crunch flip yogurt!

chobani salted caramel crunch

I actually sort of liked this flavor, though it was mostly due to the candied pecans more than anything else. Promptly after having this snack, I went back to sleep for two more hours. It was glorious…

After waking up again, I got ready quite slowly, and left the apartment in the late morning to buy my friend a gift for her birthday. I then hopped on the train to Pasadena to grab my Quest bars for the week from Vitamin Shoppe before heading over to Alhambra. At first I thought I would have to walk an extra half an hour from Vitamin Shopped to downtown Pasadena in the hot sun (and was not looking forward to that…), but since a music festival was happening in the heart of Old Pasadena, the local bus system was offering a free shuttle for the day! I took advantage of this, and used it to get to the bus stop that would take me straight to downtown Alhambra.

The bus ride was about an hour long, and I could feel myself drift in and out of sleep. Fortunately I did not sleep through my stop, and got off on Main St.

on main st.

I had half an hour to spare once I arrived at the restaurant.

gen K

I used that time to quickly freshen up in the restroom, and then rested in the front waiting area until my friends and the birthday girl arrived.

inner decor

Once the gang was all together, we were taken to booth seats near the back center of the restaurant, and divided ourselves so there was 5 people for each of the two grills. I wasn’t the only vegetarian fortunately, and I was able to share some of the grilled veggie goodness with another girl. I also didn’t feel too guilty about having the carnivores wait when they changed out our grill to cook the veggies 😉

 Starting out with oils, seasoning salt, chopstick, and a too-empty plate!
Starting out with oils, seasoning salt, chopstick, and a too-empty plate!

To start off, we were able to help ourselves to different kinds of kimchi, potato salad that looked like vanilla ice cream scoops, and salad dressed in a sweet-n-spicy type vinaigrette. Then the meats came and my friends got to work. My veggie pal and I sat patiently, using our chopsticks to pick at the little pieces of kimchi left until our veggie plates arrived.

Once our veggie plates did arrive, our server switched out the grill, got us some new tongs, and we were free to pack on as many peppers, onions, pineapples, and mushrooms our veggie-lovin’ hearts desired. We also helped ourselves to some glass noodles and rice cakes shaped like cylinders and topped with hot sauce.

 Some of the samplings from dinner -
Some of the samplings from dinner – Kimchi and dollop of potao salad -> more kimchi and salad -> raw mushrooms and rice cakes -> spread of grilled veggies and some glass noodles

Despite “only having vegetables”, I got full pretty quickly. Fibrous, spicy food can do that to ya, and it’s a lesson I’ll never learn! But I can’t imagine how STUFFED my carnivorous friends were feeling…we had a 2-hour limit, but we were all had our fill before the first hour struck! And despite feeling full, most of the party was still up for bar hopping…

I however, was ready to head back home. It would take me another hour after all, and drinking away the night isn’t exactly “my thing”. Ironically, the birthday girl was feeling tired herself, but she had to keep on going for the sake of her guests 😉

After giving my friend her gift, she waited with me at the bus stop until my bus arrived. It was nice catching up with her since we’ve both been busy with lab and other things…it’s hard to believe that just a little over six months ago, we were rotating in labs that shared lab meetings, and that we used to take a little too many coffee breaks over those eight weeks 😛 !

Once I got back to the apartment, my sweet tooth kicked in, and I decided to have my B&J’s pint that evening as a nightcap/pre-long run fuel 😉

ben and jerry's salted caramel core

Oh yes…I managed to include another core sampling in this “unplanned” weekend. Two things won me over with this pint: A) 100% of the ice cream was one flavor (sweet cream), and while I do love variety, I don’t find myself a fan of B&J’s chocolate, and have found that flavor to be somewhat of a “nuissance” when paired with another flavor in a pint & B) the caramel core that surprisingly kept its sticky consistency. How this core filling manages to avoid getting frozen/damp is a mystery to me, but whatever it is eems to work!

The next morning, I woke up and went out for a 12 mile long run an hour later than usual! While I enjoyed getting up leisurely, I realized that the benefit of running at 6AM on a Sunday—not having to stop for traffic while running on city streets—should not be taken for granted! I ended up finishing close to 10AM due to my later start, and the inevitable stop lights I had to take heed to :/

After my run, I cleaned up around the apartment before heading out for a late lunch. I initially thought about checking out a donut shop near Eagle Rock in honor of (late) National Donut Day, but decided that the trip out and back wasn’t worth the voracious hunger I was starting to feel…I needed a substantial meal!

So that’s how I ended up walking alongside the railroad tracks in sunny Glendale.

walking rail road

The bus ride was another sleep-inducing, hour-long one, so taking a walk to the restaurant from the bus stop was quite refreshing—especially with the sun out!

My destination that day was Golden Road Brew, a pub/restaurant that was nestled close to the railroad tracks, and off the beaten path.

the bright outside

I didn’t come for the alcohol like some though…

LA beer hop lol

I came for the vegan food. It took me a while to find a seat though, since the restaurant was packed both indoors and outdoors! I ended up sitting in the middle of a long table outside, and surprisingly was able to garner the attention of a waitress as soon as I sat down.

soaking in that sun

I wasn’t sure what to order first–whether to go with a vegan appetizer and hearty salad, or bet it all on a carb-o-licious sandwich and fries—but I chose to try the Fried ALT to start off with, since fried avocado sandwiched between a baguette lathered with sun-dried tomato aioli sounded appetizing enough!

fried altttt

Um, yeah. The appearance surely made an impression.

fried ALT

BUUUUT…it just wasn’t enough for this runner girl. I was craving more carbs, and so when the waitress came around to me again and asked if I needed anything else, I replied with, “Can I get the pub pretzel?” and did not feel an ounce of guilt/embarrassment for placing an order just after having my “meal” 😛 .

When the pretzel arrived, I knew there was no question about this being enough to fill me up…

oh yeah pretzzzzzel

It was a grand vegan pretzel, with the perfect outside crunch and soft, chewy texture on the inside. The saltiness was spot on, and came with two small cups of vegan pimento-cheese-like sauce and a solo cup of spicy Dijon mustard.

Even though it was meant to be an appetizer item, it worked as great way to complete my meal. I had a renewed sense of energy, and enjoyed soaking in the sun’s June rays while walking back to bus stop. I made it home close to 7pm, and went to sleep soundly that night. 

Just one weekend seems to have done the trick—I’m ready to take on the rest of June, and the start of summer!

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