Turkish Delight!

Turkish Delight!

The semester is coming to a close for most, but I technically don’t become a “fourth year” until after this summer. And this summer is gonna be a doozy with all the work I have planned and have to get done, oh boy.

There’s so many things to do for trip prep and managing work here, I’m proud of myself for not going absolutely crazy and still finding the time to go about my usual daily tasks without worrying too much.

Lab was a necessary task that needed to be addressed on both Saturday and Sunday. E had to come by Saturday morning to help me get into the building since I forgot my set of keys in my desk (lol), but after I finished up, we made plans to have lunch.

She had been mentioning that we check out this Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills sometime, and I thought it would be perfect to finally do so.

The bus we took that was supposed to drop us off at Beverly Blvd cut its route down by Fairfax near Little Ethiopia, so we ended up walking for another 45 minutes due to construction and having to take the most roundabout way to our destination.

Needless to say, we had rallied up a strong enough appetite to chow down on some mouthwatering Turkish food. Our appetites would be appeased at Cafe Istanbul.

Cafe Istanbul

It’s hard to believe I passed by this joint without much thought. I used to frequent this street a year and a half ago, visiting the likes of Panera Bread, Creamistry, Momed, and Beverliz Cafe. I had been meaning to come back, but time flew by!

Pita bread chips and sauce.

Now I was here with E, and I was making the most of this experience. E is Turkish-German, and so she volunteered herself to order in Turkish for the both of us. The servers spoke English, but E wasn’t going to miss out on an opportunity to show off, haha!

pita rolls
Pita bread and grape leaf rolls

We were served some crisped flat bread with a tomato-based dipping sauce as an appetizer. We also got vegetable dolmas, and for our entree, the Imam Bayildi.

IMAM BAYILDI ~ Fried whole eggplant, stuffed with onion, tomato, garlic and slowly baked in the oven, served with tzatziki sauce and with pita bread.

Our entree featured three eggplant strips topped with tomato, onion, and pepper. We were able to cut through the soft, chewy boats, and top them on some pita bread after adding some tzatziki.

I thought we were done after this meal, but E insisted that we finish off the right way—with Turkish tea and Kunefe.

Tea and Kunefe

The tea was a dark crimson liquid served with sugar cubes. It paired well with the soft, sticky dough pastry that is Kunefe. It was like a sticky bun rolled in pistachio grounds. The small, rich dessert was the perfect way to complete the feast. I’m glad I trusted E, haha!

We walked around for a bit, and then departed to commute home. I made a stop at Sprouts for groceries, and decided to pick up a pint of Nada Moo to try later as a night snack.

Birthday Cake Cookie Dough

I picked out Birthday Cake Cookie Dough, and for my first time trying Nada Moo, I was mad at myself for not trying this fluffy goodness packed in a pint much sooner! Birthday Cake Cookie Dough has a bright white base of fluffy coconut milk-based ice cream, mixed in with thick chocolate chips and sizable pieces of cookie dough. If you are looking for a pint-sized cloud with a varied texture of mix-ins, look no further!

Earlier in the week, I tried some new items I picked up from Trader Joe’s. One of which was one of the three new RX Bar flavors—Mixed Berry!

RX Bar Mixed Berry

The eye-catching bright pink wrapper was what caught my eyes first, but the taste of the bar was quite interesting. It had the usual density of an RX Bar, but the flavor reminded me of fruity pop rocks, and it really hit the back of the mouth in regards to flavor intensity. Not sure if it’s my favorite, but the bright pink color made it seem like it would match well with a cute pink dress!

The second item was the Birthday Cake Bar from Trader Joe’s! I first saw it on Instagram, and was ecstatic to find it sitting on the shelf with the other chocolate bars 🙂 !

Birthday Cake Bar

Sprinkles and cookie crumbs gave the bar its full textured appearance, and the chocolate had a smooth flavor profile. It’s definitely a treat that can’t be missed out on!

Cafe Istanbul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The 100 Degrees Solution

The 100 Degrees Solution

Over the weekend, temperatures reached record highs, and it was extremely hot! It made no sense to walk outside, but did I consider that? Obviously not…

I wouldn't have tried this refreshing treat had I not stepped out in the hot sun!
I wouldn’t have tried this refreshing treat had I not stepped out in the hot sun!

But I don’t regret that decision too much because I finally tried an acai bowl! At Kreation Organic, in the “fancy” Beverly Hills to be exact 😉

I thought the utensils were organized really well, haha!
I thought the utensils were organized really well, haha!

I stepped in and wasn’t sure where to look because the walls were covered and everything was calling my attention! I did spot the “cacao” Amazebowl on their wall menu though, and decided that sounded delicious enough to order. In the meantime, I sampled their kale chips…

Or should I say, chip??
Or should I say, chip??

My bowl came out in a compostable bowl, and I was ready to rip the plastic bowl off! Looking at this meal in front of me, I realized that this is probably the only way I will be able to get my fruit intake up (and eat bananas) !!

The Cacao Amazebowl - cacao, soymilk blend with banana and almond butter, topped with bananas, strawberries, apple, bee pollen (!!), granola, and honey.
The Cacao Amazebowl – cacao, soymilk blend with banana and almond butter, topped with bananas, strawberries, apple, bee pollen (!!), granola, and honey.

The bee pollen sprinkling was so eye-catching.

kreation_organic 3JPG
Oooh bee pollen….

The following day, my acai/smoothie bowl craving was still going strong! Sunday was immensely hot, and so that craving was very much justified. Since I was on my way to Sprouts for some grocery shopping, I stopped inside Bon Bon Berry and tried the Aloha Bowl (as much as I did want to try the chocolate flavor, I decided to go a different route to change the flavors I try)!

Strip mall smoothie bowls...anything to cool off on a hot day!
Strip mall smoothie bowls…anything to cool off on a hot day!

Since absolutely no one was walking outside, I wasn’t surprised that no one was indoors either. But at least it was at least 30 degrees cooler inside (or at least it felt like it)! I ordered the bowl at the counter, found a seat near the far wall, and waited for my bowl to come.

Empty because no one is outside, to come inside, on this hot day!
Empty because no one is outside, to come inside, on this hot day!

Unlike the bowl from the day before, the Aloha bowl I had before me was covered in coconut shreds and more fruity in flavor, perhaps due to the mango and banana combo. It still had granola and honey swirled in.

Aloha Bowl!
Aloha Bowl!

Obviously not as fancy as the Kreation Organic bowl, but it was just as satisfying. The customer service was great too, and it seemed like they really took care in fulfilling the order and making sure the bowl was cold, refreshing, and full of flavor!

You can never have too many close-ups of an acai/smoothie bowl!
You can never have too many close-ups of an acai/smoothie bowl!

Are you a fan of acai/smoothie bowls?

Kreation Organic Juicery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday Salad & Sundae

Sunday Salad & Sundae

One 12 mile run, a little over two hours in lab, and sometime around the hour of 3pm later, I was able to give my feet a break and nourish myself with something from Momed in Beverly Hills.

 Momed Beverly Hills
Momed Beverly Hills

I was once again in south Beverly Hills, even though my last visit took place relatively recently.

 Inside Momed.
Inside Momed.

At Momed, I didn’t need that long to decide what to order. Even though the flatbread options sounded delicious, I was craving the fattoush salad, with a falafel substitution instead of chicken.

Fattoush salad – Four falafel, lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, tahini sauce was spread on the bottom and all was dressed in sumac dressing

I whipped out a journal paper I was in the middle of highlighting for class while I waited for my order. Other diners that were currently in the restaurant were already finishing up, while I was waiting for my food just to arrive…

 Baked goods counter and seating.
Baked goods counter and seating.

When my salad did arrive, I was disappointed that no pita was served on the side, even though it was described to be a part of the dish on the menu.

 Fattoush salad - sub-in falafel, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, red onion, tahini and sumac dressing. No pita!
Fattoush salad – sub-in falafel, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, red onion, tahini and sumac dressing. No pita!

The tahini was carefully spread very thin on the plate of the salad, and the falafel tasted dry on its own. At least the salad was nicely dressed and flavorful.

 Close up time!
Close up time!

And while it was a decent salad overall, the price I ended up paying for it was severely overpriced for what it was truly worth.

Oh well, nothing a good Sunday sundae can’t fix! Since Creamistry recently opened up a new location just a few doors down, I thought why not pay them a visit?


All of the grand opening fanfare must have died down, because there was barely anyone inside when I paid a visit. The sweet smell of ice cream, cool temperature, and pop music however, made the ice cream shop still feel comfortable and exciting.

 All those machines, ready to whip up something cold and sweet.
All those machines, ready to whip up something cold and sweet.

I felt like ordering one of the Creations since I was in a sundae mood. Each Creation includes layers of fresh frozen ice cream, toppings, and sauces served in a large (12 oz.) cup.

 Creations menu.
Creations menu.

I chose to get Elemint, which includes mint ice cream, oreo cookies, small chocolate chips and a fudge drizzle.

 Elemint-al beauty
Elemint-al beauty

My Elemint Creation had two organic mint liquid nitrogen ice cream scoops separated by a chunky layer of small chocolate chips, all of which was topped with fudge.


And the occasional layer of oreo cookie crumbles.

 Hey there oreo...
Hey there oreo…

There is a reason why nitrogen exists, and it is for making crazy good sundaes.

 Nitrogen has its place in the world.
Nitrogen has its place in the world.

Do you like liquid nitrogen ice cream?

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

Gelato in a Cup

Gelato in a Cup

It was only about a fifteen minute walk to Amorino from Beverliz Cafe, and so even before all of that rice-veggie-hummus goodness had time to digest, I was ready to inhale allthegelato.

Amorino storefront.

I say that like I haven’t had gelato in ages, and truth is, I haven’t! Ice cream, yes, but real gelato? It’s been some time…

Flower gelato!

Amorino is a global gelateria chain, with only two locations in California—Beverly Hills and SF. Inside is just as extravagant as the gelato flavors offered!

Lines on a Saturday.

And on a early Saturday evening that feels just as hot as mid-day in July, it was no surprise there was a long line.

THE GELATO. And ice cream macaroons!

There were so many flavors to choose from, and even though I could have gotten as many flavors as I wanted to fit a cone and molded into a shape of a flowering rose, I went for a cup as I always do. I only needed three flavors to make me happy, as long as it included speculoos, tiramisu, and salted caramel 😛

My precious cup. And I love the baby cone it came with 🙂

I found a table near the window, grabbed a napkin, and tried each flavor in its own first.

Elegant wall decor & logo napkins.

I ended up mixing everything together as time went on, but I was reminded of the identity of each flavor through the occasional uncovering of caramel sprinkles and chocolate-fudge-cake-like chunks.

There’s some flavor peeking through!

The portion size (the classic cup) was just enough, and I left with another happy gelato memory. True, it may have been a more unique experience if I had sampled all three flavors (plus some) in the shape of a rose, but I was glad I didn’t feel “rushed” in having to eat the ice cream before it melted!

Speaking of rushed, the following day was a crazy one—a blazing hot long run with my marathon team in the morning, followed by five straight hours in lab on my feet, and a grocery haul before coming home. There was no time to go out for more weekend foodie adventures, so I used it as an opportunity to get back to trying ice cream pints.

I’m giving B&J’s a break though, and ventured out into the Talenti section of the dairy desserts aisle. I guess I was still on a gelato kick?

Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch

I’ve only tried three Talenti flavors to-date, and even that was almost three (!!) years ago!

Such a nice swirl—and cookie pieces!!

At least caramel cookie crunch did not disappoint. It was like eating crushed Oreo ice cream with a soft caramel layer swirled in. I consumed this pint while watching SNL, and then hit the books before getting to bed early. Whatever exhaustion I couldn’t get rid of with my sweet treats, I hoped to get rid of through quality sleep!

Amorino Beverly Hills Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beverliz in Beverly

Beverliz in Beverly

Last weekend was a CRAZY one in lab. Both Saturday and Sunday were packed, and by the time I got home, I could literally feel the bones of my heels. Needless to say, any and all carbs were necessary.

I made it a priority to head out as soon as I finished up in lab Saturday morning—straight to Beverly Hills. Actually, I traveled to the same area I visited a couple months back for the new Panera Bread opening. I was back yet again for another sandwich & salad kind of place, except Beverliz Cafe offered even more dishes for a late lunch.

 Beverliz Cafe
Beverliz Cafe

Despite it being scorching hot outside, it was at least bright and beautiful. I chose a seat near the window to enjoy the beauty outdoors, while still keeping cool inside. Funny thing was, the A/C wasn’t working, and a small fan was supposed to “cool off” the entire cafe. Go figure.

 Inside the cafe!
Inside the cafe!

There was a wide array of dishes to choose from the menu, but my eyes gravitated toward the Kabob Plate, which came with a thin, large piece of wheat lavash, brown rice, hummus, charbroiled vegetables, and greek salad.


Everything was served on a long, oval plate—packed with rice and salad on the sides, and an abundance of charboiled vegetables. There was hummus underneath all of this too, not to worry 😉

 Um, what portion control> ;)
Um, what portion control? 😉

I found the rice to be extremely filling, but perhaps that was due to the volume of vegetables I engulfed prior to attacking the rice. The burnt-to-a-crisp onion was my favorite part, even though it was probably chock full of free radicals 😛

Because the air conditioner wasn’t working, I started to feel warm and uncomfortable as I made my way through this dish. By the time I finished, I felt like I had been soaking in a sauna, and knew that it was time to head out for some place cooler in temperature and sweeter in taste. Next stop—gelato!

Have you ever dined in a restaurant that served good food, but had maintenance issues?

Beverliz Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bread in Beverly Hills

Bread in Beverly Hills

Disclaimer: I was compensated with a gift card for this review, but all opinions (as always) are my own.

When Panera Bread first opened a location in my hometown a couple years ago, my family and I had never heard of the restaurant chain, but we were fascinated by it. I mean, a fast casual restaurant that offered high-quality soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta—and obviously, bread? It was certainly a game-changer in the restaurant scene of my suburban community, which was already flooded with too many restaurants serving that “all-American” burger and diner fare…

It’s hard to believe that they’ve been around since 1987, and already have 1,900+ bakery-cafes in almost every state in the country, as well as some locations in Canada, but I guess that shows that they’re doing all the right things to stay afloat in the ever-changing food industry.

One thing I always admired about Panera Bread was their commitment to community. I was able to see this first-hand with my hometown location, since in my high school days, I often practiced with a music group that used a local church’s kitchen space for our weekend rehearsals. We’d often see tables full of loaves of bread that were donated to the church by our local Panera Bread, and every week, they would be distributed to whoever needed them.

Since moving to LA however, I’ve paid more attention to trying out local restaurants, and places that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I didn’t consider paying a visit to restaurant chains as a “unique experience” since I thought I could visit the same restaurant in another city and the ambience, service, and food would be the same…

But I soon learned that Panera was opening up a new location in Beverly Hills—-which caught me by surprise since we all know that neighborhood has some strict polices about what it considers is worthy for its borders 😉

busy in BH

It recently opened this past Thursday, and while I missed out on the opportunity to snag a coffee tumbler or enter for a chance to win free bread for a year, I visited the new location over the weekend to see how this location stood against its competitive Beverly Hills neighbors.


This Panera Bread location was able to secure the former Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce building as its home, and as a result, many of the building’s features were worked into the design of the restaurant. This was certainly evident when I walked in.

panera bread front

For only being open three days, everything was in full swing. I was able to easily place my order for a Soba Noodle Bowl with Edamame and a French Baguette on the side. I chose to sit in the back, where there was ample seating, dim lighting, and an exposed brick wall that brought a cozy feeling into the room.


And even though the design has kept many traditional features dating back to 1940s Beverly Hills, this location has added Panera 2.0 Enhancements, with the most prominent enhancement being the Rapid Pick-Up area.

pick-up shelf

As I was getting my water, I saw this area in action—customers waiting for their orders were able to sit across from the shelving unit, and were able to monitor the status of their order on a screen next to the shelves. I’m sure anyone who comes in hangry and desiring food ASAP would appreciate the real-time information about their order!

Fortunately, I did not come in during one of my hangry episodes. Even so, I didn’t have to wait long for my dine-in broth bowl.

edamame broth bowl

The noodle bowl was comprised of soba noodles and a medley of vegetables including spinach, napa cabbage, mushrooms, onions, fire-roasted edamame, all of which was marinating in a miso broth.


And of course, letting the side bread roll soak up the miso broth was mandatory after finishing up the noodles and veggies!

bread with noodles yeaaaay

Overall, I found this Panera Bread location to be quite cozy and welcoming. The brick walls may play a large part in that, but the feeling of the entire restaurant was upbeat and customer-friendly. Calling the busy Beverly Dr. home will definitely be a perk for this location going forward, since the rich and famous sometimes need the comfort of familiarity, and a warm broth bowl on the occasional cloudy day.

Have you visited a Panera Bread outlet?

Click to add a blog post for Panera Bread on Zomato

Refueling After 26.2

Refueling After 26.2

I mentioned in my marathon recap that my plans for a post-run marathon lunch eventually turned out to be dinner plans, but I was still able to enjoy the food I ate and celebrate the feat of the morning.

After finally getting back to my apartment, and quickly freshening up, I took the bus over to Mid-City and got off at the cusp of Beverly Hills. My predetermined dinner location was The Addiction Bistro, which according to my prior research, had burger, fries, and wurst plates. The fact that they also served these dishes with vegetarians & vegans in mind (by offering a separate menu) was what secured this place as being my go-to restaurant for post-marathon fueling.

 Front of restaurant
Front of restaurant

I arrived a little after five, and other than a couple sitting outside, I was the only patron. I had the entire restaurant to myself, and was given some water while I looked over the separate vegan menu.


My eyes drifted towards the Addiction Burgers selection, and I decided to go with the “Buffalo” Burger, which supposedly came with a mix of buffalo wing sauce + blue cheese ranch. The burger also came with some side pickles, and the vegan version consisted of an all-soy patty that looked suspiciously like the real deal (but I was told that it certainly wasn’t).

I waited for a short while, and since I had the restaurant all to myself, I didn’t have to be secretive in my phone photo-taking antics:


I found the dark red-colored walls to be an interesting color choice, and it made the restaurant appear quite dark except for the area closest to the front window. It was past 5pm, but that small area in the front of the restaurant was so bright—blinding in fact. 

With no other people in the vicinity to watch, I turned to my phone while I continued to wait for my burger to be brought out. When it was, I was surprised by how small it looked.


It was adorable though, and I ate it in a “deconstructed” manner, meaning: bun with cabbage drenched in sauce -> patty -> bottom bun. The small knife and fork at my table came in handy with this odd burger-eating approach of mine 😉

Just look at the sauce though…and the patty? The waiter was not kidding when he said it would fool a carnivore. 

theaddictionbistro_buffranceh (5)

By eating the burger piece-by-piece, I was able to take my time and enjoy the meal instead of gobbling it up in <10 seconds. Even though the burger was top-notch in both flavor and texture, its itty bitty size did not fulfill the job of sating my post-marathon hunger. 

Obviously dessert was in order, so I made the short walk east towards Fairfax Ave., and made my way towards Sweet Rose Creamery—the Mid-City location.


The lack of people at my dinner destination was made up for at my dessert destination—I came in just as two groups in front of me purchased hefty sundae orders. At least it bought me some time to check out my surroundings:


I immediately made the painting on the wall the wallpaper of my phone—so gorgeous! And in the corner by the utensils, there was a pile of board games for friends and family to play with over ice cream.


After looking at the menu on the far wall behind the counter, I chose two seasonal flavors (minty peas and cinnamon buttermilk sherbert with candied mandarinquats <— say that ten times fast!) for my double scoop serving of ice cream in a cup. 

The girl behind the counter asked if I preferred an order to my scoops, but I figured that since I had never tried these flavors before, would it really make a difference? She ended up scooping minty peas first, and adding the more elaborately-named flavor on top. She also let me know that it was the last day these flavors would be on the menu, and that their next rotation would be in a year! Good timing, right?


I found a seat by the window, where I also found the two-person group that was in line before me. Both individuals were enjoying personal sundaes, but I was pleased to dig in into my two-scoop cup of sweetness.

Minty peas and cinnamon buttermilk sherbert with candied mandarinquats closeup

All I can say is those. mandarinquats. I had so much fun digging through the scoop for them! The cinnamon buttermilk scoop was definitely more on the milky side than sherbert side, which was what I preferred. Minty peas had quite an unusual (but still tasty) flavor. It had an earthy quality to it, and a mild, grainy texture. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, but I slowly got used to it, and was even slightly sad when it was all gone. 

By the time I finished by burger + ice cream celebration, I realized that I had been awake for almost sixteen hours straight…and most of those hours were spent on my feet. I was surprised that the soreness had not kicked in too much, and I was grateful to make it home in one piece, shower, and get into bed for some much needed shuteye! 

I was not surprised to find my legs in “angrier” shape the next morning…and don’t get me started on what it was like Tuesday. I can’t say I didn’t know it was coming though 😉

Sweet Rose Creamery on Urbanspoon The Addiction Bistro on Urbanspoon

What did you eat after your first marathon?

What was the most exotic ice cream flavor you’ve tried?

After 22 Miles

After 22 Miles

I honestly do not know what would have gotten me through the last two grueling miles of my 22 mile long run if it was not the thought of rewarding myself with a cupcake sundae from Sprinkles hours after the run. I fortunately was able to power through, and see the light cupcake at the end of the tunnel. 

Of course, by the time we finished the run, it was already nearing noon. After assembling back into cars and returning back to our team’s carpool meeting spot, I hobbled home and got ready to celebrate my longest run of the training season! I felt like chowing down on something chock-full of carbs, cheese, and lots of guac—NACHOS!

And even though it took forever and a day to reach Century City via bus, I made it, and was greeted by Chinese lanterns at the steps.


I was surprised at my ability to not be out of breath/feel pain in my legs after climbing up the stairs, and once I was on level ground, I tried to navigate around the pink walls of Pink Taco and find the entrance.


I ended up entering through the back entrance, but one of the servers pointed me towards the front of the restaurant so I could ask for a table.


The restaurant was quite spacious, with a floor upstairs as well. I was given a booth seat right across from the bar.


As soon as I sat down, a waiter came by with a basket of chips and salsa, while a female server came by to get my “drink” order (um, just water please 😛 ). She also kept ending her sentences/questions with “babe”, which got old right after she said it the first time, haha.


Since my plan was to attack a plate of nachos, I ordered the vegetarian version of their nachos plate, with black beans. And it seriously came out in ten minutes flat. Yeah, it was 3pm on a Sunday, and the restaurant was pretty barren, but still! Not complaining though 😀


Even though I didn’t feel super hungry, I managed to wipe the plate clean. I asked for the check soon after, so I could have some time to walk back over to Beverly Hills and get me some ice cream!!

It started to rain by the time I started walking, but it was one of those days I happened to have an umbrella tucked away in my handbag, so I was in luck! Google Maps wasn’t loading in my favor though, so I ended up circling the area where Sprinkles Ice Cream, and at one point I was walking in the opposite direction. But I eventually found my way around after seeing some familiar visual cues, since I was in the area before when I paid Ice Cream Lab a visit. 

the menu's on the wall

The menu for different ice cream combinations was on the wall, along with cupcake flavors that could be mixed and matched to make the perfect cupcake sundae. There was also an ice cream sandwich and just plain ice cream on a cone option.

 The script is a recipe for ice cream written by Thomas Jefferson!
The script is a recipe for ice cream written by Thomas Jefferson!

I had to wait in line for longer than planned, but I eventually found my way to the center and put in my order for what I think was the perfect cupcake sundae combo (at least for the first time around…)


Sprinkles’ signature red velvet cupcake stuffed with cap’n crunch ice cream—how can you go wrong?


All I can say is frosting + ice cream = how come there isn’t a product or dessert made like this much more often?!


I had to enjoy this beauty inside since it was beginning to pour harder outside, but I still had to trek on towards the nearest bus stop to get home.

Even though I feasted well, by the time I reached home, I started to feel serious stomach pains. I ended up vomiting, and I think it was due to reasons I explained in this MTR post. Thankfully it was a one-time thing, and most likely running-induced, but for a while there, I almost couldn’t think about nachos or cupcakes without feeling nauseated. I’m glad that’s over!

Pink Taco on Urbanspoon Sprinkles Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Crash & Indulge

Crash & Indulge

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.

rfd - weho

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.
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!
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.

 LegLOGwarmers!! Haha...
LegLOGwarmers!! Haha…

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:

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!
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?

Real Food Daily on Urbanspoon Ice Cream Lab on Urbanspoon

Sage - a Plant Based Bistro on Urbanspoon Blockheads Shavery Co on Urbanspoon

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