First Stop, Iceland!

First Stop, Iceland!

Our European adventure began on a Sunday morning, with a stop for bagels before heading to the airport. My Dad had a rental since we used it to move my sister’s stuff, so before heading over to our terminal, we dropped it off and took the shuttle from there.

Checking in and security was surprisingly not too bad! TSA Pre does have it’s advantages…since our first leg was a domestic flight to JFK Airport in NYC.

Our flight was about six hours long, but on Jet Blue, so we were set, haha. Once we landed, we realized we had to walk over to another terminal and go through security again (this time, a much more tedious process), before being able to find something to eat.

Options for food at JFK’s international terminal are all things mediocre and mundane. We ended up getting personal pizzas and a salad to “get our greens in”. It took about an hour between dinner and finally boarding on Icelandic Air.

When we did board, we were handed cute water bottles with the top part of the bottle shaped like a glacier. And the music playing was very Enya-like.

Glacier bottle?
Glacier bottle?

There were no free inflight meals or snacks, but we came prepared with our own. I mostly slept for the majority of the flight, so hunger wasn’t a huge issue. We reached Reykjavik (actually Keflavik) by morning.

Upon landing, we had to exit out of the side of the plane (in the cold…) and board a bus to take us to the airport. After going through immigration and collecting our luggage, we were able to grab a rental and head out on Icelandic roads.

Everything looked so dreary and foggy, but overall it actually felt quite peaceful. It was an hour drive from the KEF airport to Reykjavik proper, but we knew we were in “civilization” upon seeing large warehouses and more traffic.

The address to our Airbnb was so short, I was surprised Google Maps didn’t come back with an error message. We weren’t too trepiditious about the apartment we would be staying in once we got settled in.

Airbnb digs.
Airbnb digs.

Yeah the bathroom was tiny, but the rooms were simple, clean, and our host left us a good number of blankets on the sofa so we wouldn’t get cold. Plus, I think tiny bathrooms are part of the whole European living experience, haha.

After freshening up, we got in our rental and drove to the city center. It was freezing cold, and I wanted to make sure we knew exactly where our coffee/breakfast destination was before getting out of the car! Good thing we parked in front of Reykjavik Roasters.

Reykjavik Roasters
Reykjavik Roasters

It was like walking into someone’s kitchen/garage. Half of the space had a bakery counter and tables, while the other half was “storage” for large bags of coffee beans.

coffee
Eclectic decor, eclectic people
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Bread and baked goods 🙂

We first realized Iceland was pricey when we saw that the coffee would be 800 Kroner…$8 USD for a single cup of coffee. It was sticker shock for sure, but we knew we’d only be here for two days so we put up with it. Along with coffee, we split some fresh nut bread with cheese and jam, a cinnamon scone, and a coffee “jogart” parfait topped with honey and almonds.

Icelandic breakfast
Icelandic breakfast

Everything tasted so fresh and warm, and even though I was the one that had the coffee jogart, I gobbled up my piece and leftover crumbs left from the scone.

After our authentic coffee break, we walked a couple blocks towards the water. There was a huge walking path that was carved alongside the water, hugged by rocks. Walkers, runners, and photographers could all be seen walking along the trail.

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A glimpse of Icelandic coast

We stopped to take pictures along the way, including one of what we thing is an abstract sculpture of a viking’s ship.

Before heading back to the apartment for a few hours of rest, we stopped at a shopping mall called Kringlan to see if we could grab some snacks that weren’t, uh, so pricey in comparison to the morning’s meal…

kringlan
Kringlan

We stepped inside a store similar to the dollar store, and came out with nothing since everything for sale was extremely overpriced for what it’s actually worth. It left me wondering, are Icelandic people just richer than the rest of us? Or is it really that much of a struggle to live here?

1500kroner
An expensive fish pilow

We felt more justified buying food, and when we entered Bonus, an Icelandic-based grocery store, we were able to make it out alive with our wallets not undergoing a huge drop in weight, haha!

bonus!
Oh hello Nutella!

After our purchases, we were able to rest up, and then head out again for dinner—at Kaffi Vinyl! More on that in the next one 🙂

Hot Weather Shenanigans

Hot Weather Shenanigans

The day after my first double run, I granted myself a rest day and enjoyed the extra hour or so in bed resting my sore head (later on in the week, I had my first migraine, and I’m thinking the trigger might have been the extreme weather change). Surprisingly, my leg muscles felt fine (probably due to the rolling I did!), but my head felt heavy, which I’m assuming was due to spending so much time exerting myself in he heat.

Needless to say, the rest day was absolutely necessary. I went into lab later in the morning, but since E was also in, we decided to head downtown together for some lunch. It was unbearably hot outside though, and the walk from 7th st. all the way to Grand Central Market had us feeling like we were melting. I was even in a tank top and shorts and felt like I was burning!

It was my first time visiting GCM (and I call myself an Angeleno!), and seeing all the foodie shops clustered in one place like that reminded me of a more crowded, packed version of the Tustin Marketplace. We first thought about checking out Eggslut, but the line was so serpentine that we thought it’d be best to try it out some other day. Instead, we opted for meals at two different stalls.

berlin--currywurst
Berlin Currywurst at Grand Central Market

I found my meal of choice at Berlin Currywurst. The last time I had a vegetarian currywurst was ages ago, so I was happy to be able to have it again.

Berlin
Small space, crowded counter.

My options were limited, but I was able to get a medium spicy tofu kielbasa currywurst plate. It even came with half of a crusty bread roll to mop any of that excess thick tomato-based sauce!

berlincurrywurst
Spent a hot Sunday trying to keep cool at Grand Central Market. It was my first time visiting the place too! Eggslut had a serpentine line, so I hopped on over to Berlin Currywurst, and chowed down on this spicy Tofu Kielbasa Currywurst with a hearty chunk of bread 😋😋

E found a stall selling avocado toast that came out with such beautiful presentation. My side beet salad was nothing in comparison. I’m not even sure why I got it…I had assumed it was part of the meal but then I realized I had to pay extra for it 😛

food
Why did I get this excuse for a salad?

After lunch, I hurried on home to catch up on sleep and just chill. I also tried another flavor of D’s Naturals Fluffbutter—Brownie Batter! Now I only have one more new-to-me flavor left to try…

fluffbutter
Brownie Batter? This flavor from @dsnaturals is more like Brownie BUTTER. The texture was smooth, yet each spoonful was dense. There was a strong cocoa taste that was the defining feature of this flavor. My only complaint—with all of the D’s Naturals Fluffbutters actually—is the oil separation. It’s always so difficult to make the oil mix through evenly, even though I attempt to do so with each jar. The last couple tablespoons at the bottom of each jar are always the driest as a result.

Overall, I thought it had a very sharp cocoa taste, and quite a thick texture. I still have issues with mixing up all the oil thoroughly in the jar—it just has a tendency to pool up on top!

I also managed to order four new The Lion’s Pack cookie dough flavors to try during the week. My favorite of the four I purchased was this “Teddy Dough”.

"Why HELLO there TEDDY DOUGH 🐻 🐻 🍪 🍪!! It's been a while since I placed a @thelionschoice cookie dough order---long enough to get a four pack of flavors I haven't tried yet! Teddy Dough is one of them, and I actually kinda love the more grainy texture this one has in comparison to the stickier consistency the other ones have. But I was expecting some broken teddy grahams to be mixed in...guess they just ground them down 🐻 😧"
Why HELLO there TEDDY DOUGH 🐻 🐻 🍪 🍪!! It’s been a while since I placed a @thelionschoice cookie dough order—long enough to get a four pack of flavors I haven’t tried yet! Teddy Dough is one of them, and I actually kinda love the more grainy texture this one has in comparison to the stickier consistency the other ones have. But I was expecting some broken teddy grahams to be mixed in…guess they just ground them down 🐻 😧

I thought this cookie dough would have crushed teddy graham cookies, but I think they were all finely-ground because the texture of the cookie dough was so smooth. It was like a crumbly sunflower butter jar with a mild cinnamon flavor. I could even detect a taste of honey.

The one I was most surprised by was Red Velvet. I had much higher expectations for this one, but the jar I got had dough that was too sticky, and with a texture that was reminiscent more of cake than cookie dough.

redvelvet
I have to be honest—wasn’t a huge fan of @thelionschoice Red Velvet Cake cookie dough. My batch at least had the consistency of a gooey sponge cake, rather than a thick, paste-like cookie dough which I was expecting. The flavor was quite bland, and the chocolate bits did little to help enhance the flavor profile. Ah well, I have to admit I can’t complain about the quantity I got—my jar was literally full to the brim!

Butterscotch Maple Cookie didn’t come across as a flavor worth remembering. Sure, there were a decent amount of butterscotch chips thrown in, but the flavor base was quite bland.

butter
Butterscotch Maple Cookie: not sure what’s so “cookie” about it!

Finally, there was Cran-Orange. The mix-ins definitely overpowered the cookie dough base with this flavor, and it was definitely the frutiest of the bunch. It even had some white chocolate pieces thrown in so that was a plus!

cranorange
Honestly, this flavor (and its colors) reminded me of Fall…

Has the weather drastically changed where you live?

Do you get migraines?

Berlin Currywurst Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Carbs, but No Loading

Carbs, but No Loading

I didn’t go out of my way to carbo-load the day before the marathon, but I did eat throughout the day, kept hydrated, and stuck to foods I knew wouldn’t throw me off.

I was sent two vouchers for a free bread item and a drink to use at one of 85C Bakery’s newest locations—in Glendale. Since E and I have been hanging outside of lab together more frequently now, I asked if she wanted to make a day out of it, and she happily agreed.

We met in downtown and then took a bus that stops close to the Galleria. From there, it was a short walk to the bakery.

85c_
85c Bakery – Glendale

The inside of the bakery was clean, and the baked goods were organized in a similar way to that of a bakery I visited a while back in Koreatown.

bakery
Ah, what to choose??

E and I both got trays and walked through the aisles, seeing what lovely little bread creations we’d come across.

85c
Baked goods

I decided to get a cranberry cream cheese yudane roll, while E got a wild mushroom cheese bread loaf.

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Cranberry Cream Cheese Yudane Roll

For my drink, I opted for a hot green milky tea. E ended up going for a cold lemonade. We found seats by the window, and as soon as we had our food and drinks, we settled in.

hotmilktea
Hot green milky tea (or rather, water)

My cranberry cream cheese yudane roll had a rough texture on the outside, but this was completely opposite of its interior texture. The roll had a sufficient amount of cream cheese and cranberries (though both of these ingredients tended to separate from one another) and was quite chewy. The milky green tea on the other hand was watered down in my opinion. There was a faint taste of tea, but overall, it just tasted (?) like warm water.

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E’s mushroom bread

After our bread/tea break, we walked over to the Galleria and made a round inside the mall. Both of us did end up buying something to add to our wardrobes, but we didn’t spend too much time shopping.

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Taking a break before heading back.

We soon walked over to the Americana at Brand right next door, and stopped to sit down and hydrate with some water. As it approached 4pm, I felt like it would be wise to head back and rest up for my race the next day, so we made our way to the bus stop for the ride home.

Do you prefer sweet bread items (danishes, sweet rolls) or just go for the 100% sweet stuff (cakes, pies) ?

85°C Bakery Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

March DegustaBox

March DegustaBox

How is March ALREADY AT ITS END?! How is my visit to see my cousin an event that occurred a little over a month ago, and did I really just run a sub-4:00 hour marathon only this past Sunday

Well, I guess we truly are approaching the end of March, seeing as I’m writing up another DegustaBox review! My box for March came packed with a bunch of goodies!

DegustaBox for March '17
DegustaBox for March ’17

There was a a good balance of sweet snacks and savory staples. Of course, I went for the sweet-flavored stuff first! This time, I went straight for the Loacker biscuits—“Gran Pasticceria Tortina Dark”

tortinadark-noir
A “Hazelnut Tartlet?”

This wafer-based biscuit is described as a “hazelnut tartlet” and has a smooth, creamy dark chocolate shell over a melt-in-your-mouth wafer cookie.

The chocolate is so smooth, you can read the lettering on the shell!
The chocolate is so smooth, you can read the lettering on the shell!

The other cookie-based snack was this bag of Mrs. Thinster’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Thins. Apparently more exotic flavors like Key Lime Pie and Cake Batter are available, but these chocolate chip crispy cookies irresistible.

cookie-thins
Mrs. Thinster’s Chhocolate Chip Cookie Thins

The chocolate in these cookies had a mild, sweet flavor, and a buttery, crisp cookie base.

cookiethins
Mrs. Thinster’s Chhocolate Chip Cookie Thins Close-Up

I was pleasantly surprised to find a full-sized, peanut butter and jelly-filled croissant among this month’s mix of items! The bread itself was sweet and soft, and reminded me of a cake you’d find in an Asian bakery.

7-days
7 Days Croissant Peanut Butter and Jelly

The filling on the inside didn’t look like a lot, but it was just enough.

croissant
A PB&J Croissant?? Which master genius came up with this idea 💡?!

I remember having the Sweet Oat & Flax Good Thins crisps as part of my December DegustaBox, and so I was elated to see that the sweet potato flavored ones were included in this month’s box.

sweet__potato
Nabisco Good Thins The Potato One ~ Sweet Potato

The sweet potato chips were light, crispy, sweet, and extremely light in density.

Boboli Pizza Crust was also included, and at first I was like, what am I going to do with this? Since I share a kitchen with an elderly couple (my landlords), I don’t do much heavy cooking. Plus, I wanted to see if I could utilize this large, dense disc of bread for a meal besides pizza…

boboli_crust
It’s hard to tell but there’s about half of a 12″ Boboli pizza crust at the bottom of this (what seems like) a veggie-dense bowl!

As a result, I added it to my usual veggie-dense crockpot dinner bowl, as well as into some split pea soup that also had tofu cubes thrown in.

soupand veg
Boboli crust in soup and with veggies (topped with mustard)

The crust was soft, chewy, not super cheesy (even though cheese strands were clearly visible), and I even had portions of this 12″ crust on its own when not thrown into the dinners seen above.

One item I didn’t particularly favor was this Lemoncocco drink:

lemoncocco
Lemoncocco

It has Italian origins, but the drink itself has a “milky” appearance. It is essentially coconut water with a hint of lemon, but I thought the citrus flavor was overwhelming and made the drink taste slightly bitter.

Another product I had an adverse reaction to were these Energems. At least I did at a previous time. With this in mind, I decided not to give these a try. I brought and left them in lab, and my co-workers made use of them—I think some of them benefited from the caffeine boost!

energems_
Energems, eh no thanks!

These quinoa bars were a favorite of mine!

barssss
Such pretty packaging colors & font!

They were lightly sweetened, and had a mix of textures, but they were still easy to eat. Not only were they easy to consume, but they were also colorful and the box had the most gorgeous packaging!

quinoabar
This Paul’s Finest Quinoa bar dazzles like a gem. And the fact that it’s sweetened with honey 🍯🍯🍯 ??? Aw man, so good!

The small box of Goya Quinoa Blend that contained black beans, bell peppers, and spices mixed with white quinoa and brown rice held enough grains to make four weekday lunches.

quinoablend
Goya Quinoa Blend

It was very simple to prepare with the microwave. I simply added a serving of the mix into a bowl, filled it to the level of the grains with water, and simply microwaved it from 7-12 minutes. I added a small, sliced Yukon gold potato that was also microwaved ~2 minutes. I cooled off the mix in the fridge in lab, took it out around lunch time, and any excess water that was there right after microwaving had been absorbed by the rice.

quinoa-and-potato
Taking some days off from running has helped me in regards to gaining some free time for meal prep! Vegetarian quinoa by Goya, mixed with a boiled potato has been working as a satisfying lunch 😋 helping me power through the rest of my work day 💪🏽

The potatoes did a good job of absorbing the flavors, and overall made for a nourishing lunch!

The last product in this month’s box I have yet to try is this chickpea pasta:

chickpea-pasta
Tolerant Foods Organic Chickpea Pasta

I plan to soak a serving in water overnight before I plan to use it for lunch, so that it can respond well to a spin in the microwave. I’ll have to add my own spices and toppings, but I think this pasta will be a new favorite of mine since I expect it to have a naturally nutty, rich flavor thanks to those baby chickpeas 🙂 !

Which would you rather try from the following: the quinoa snack bars or the quinoa-rice mix?

Repeat of 2016?

Repeat of 2016?

I returned to California early last week, and I was in a deep funk for a couple days. My two weeks off from lab, spent with family, was JUST what I needed and my only regret was that it wasn’t longer!

At least I had a surprise package waiting for me…I tried Enlightened Roasted Broad Bean Crisps for the first time thanks to a little box with some fun-flavored goods:

crisps
Enlightened saved me from the doldrums!

They were the dessert flavors: Cocoa Dusted and Sweet Cinnamon.

cocoa_dusted
Cocoa Dusted description

I had both flavors straight out of the bag. Out of the two, I loved the cinnamon-flavored ones the most since they reminded me of those churro twists from Taco Bell I had long ago…

sweet-cinnamon
Sweet Cinnamon

Cocoa Dusted was good too, I just preferred cinnamon over chocolate coating 😛

cocoadust
Cocoa Dusted up close & personal

I decided to keep close to West LA since I knew DTLA would be abuzz with the LA Fit Expo going on. I also had to go into lab, which would have cut into any day plans if I had scheduled any. So after lab, I came back to Culver City and had lunch literally across the street from the train station…at Sweetgreen! I find it hilarious that my first outing to a restaurant for 2017 is Sweetgreen once again…I dined at a Sweetgreen in Mid-City last year as my first outing in 2016! I wonder if it will become tradition…

sweetgreen
Sweetgreen’s newest—Culver City

They recently opened up shop here in a complex called The Platform. It was already in full swing with customers eating outside even though it was cloudy out.

food_
Order at the counter

The seating arrangements inside were too small, and if everyone in line had decided to dine in, there would have been no way. I did get a seat however, by the window. It was just a table that wasn’t wiped clean since the last customer, and only had one chair so I had to sit with my bag on my lap, haha!

menu
Lot’s to choose from!

When it was my turn to order, I decided to get a warm bowl. The Shroomami sounded amazing, with glazed tofu, rice, kale, …, and it was vegan so even more of a plus!

lookatdatbowl
My Shroomami bowl [vegan] ~ organic wild rice, shredded kale, raw beets, bean sprouts, basil, spicy sunflower seeds, roasted sesame tofu, warm portobello mix, miso sesame ginger dressing
I also got a slice of bread on the side, and enjoyed the bowl while people/train watching through the window.

sideofbread_tofu
Slice of bread, and look at that tofu!

After eating lunch, I got grocery shopping done at Sprouts. I love it when restaurants/grocery stores are all in one area since it makes running weekend errands so much easier.

While picking up staples for the week, I came across another RX Bar flavor I have yet to try—Peanut Butter! When I was checking out in line, there was a guy in front of me who noticed my purchase-to-be, and asked where he could find them. As soon as I told him, he dashed over to the bar aisle while the cashier began to check out his items!

rx_pb
RX Peanut Butter bar…has exactly 14 peanuts?

I tried the bar as I was waiting for the train to go home. I like the smooth texture of the bar, and it kind of made me think of the Chocolate Coconut flavor without coconut, and with a mild peanut scent reminiscent of how the maple scent defined the Maple Sea Salt flavor. I guess I could understand why that guy at Sprouts was in such a mad dash to get those bars for himself?

Have you eaten out since the new year began?

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

Spiraling Out of Texas

Spiraling Out of Texas

We left Houston on Thursday morning, and since we left in the late morning, the four hours to Dallas seemed longer than it actually was. We got to Dallas around 3:30pm, and we were all ravenous. My sister and Dad had taken turns driving during these four hours, but I had a lingering headache which grew as the hours ticked on.

beckley
Spiral Diner on Beckley Ave., Dallas

We stopped at a vegan diner on Beckley Ave, just outside of downtown Dallas—Spiral Diner! Once we were inside, I was immediately reminded of Saturn Cafe in both Berkeley and Santa Cruz.

dinee
Have a seat!

We were seated right away and my sis and I ploughed through the menu trying to figure out which entree would satisfy our raging appetites. For me, I had to go with the nachos. I was craving some chips and faux queso like crazy! My sis got a faux Philly cheesesteak and my Dad a pesto pasta dish with toasted bread.

spiral
Just guess what I got…

All dishes came out beautifully presented, and close-to-perfection in taste.

gorgeous_nachos
Oh hello nachos…

I ate every single chip (plus some of my sister’s) drenched in vegan queso, sour cream, beans, olives, jalapeños, and guacamole. It hit the spot, and with several gulps of water, my headache magically went away 😉

guacnjalapenos
Guac!

Whatever headache my sister may have had prior to this sandwich must have gone away too, no doubt about it!

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Sis’s gorg sandwich

I also had some of my Dad’s pasta dish. It wasn’t packed with flavor but it definitely tasted rich and filling with this particular sauce and pasta. The pasta was like a version of rigatoni that was smaller.

pasta
The vegan parmesan & peas made it pretty.

For the next four hours on the road, my Dad agreed to drive since it was getting dark and I did express my tiredness from lack of sleep from the past couple of days. We made it back to Tulsa close to 10pm, and I went to sleep right away.

My sis and I only had four more days back in Tulsa, and ended up having to pack in more errands than “fun” things, but I didn’t mind too much since at least we had each other’s company. We did see Fences with a family friend, but it was too long and slow for me. We also didn’t do anything exciting for New Years…on the agenda was wearing fuzzy robes, watching whatever was on TV, and sleeping before midnight struck!

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Post-run requirements – fuzzy socks and a snack. Tried the Oh Yeah! One Cinnamon Roll Bar: “NYE snack from yesterday was the Cinnamon Roll Oh Yeah! One bar. The swirl and caramel ombré color of this bar were 😍 but the taste not so much 🙁. Was it too much cinnamon? That’s my guess because something was overpowering the sweetness. Okay, next time at @vitaminshoppe it’s on to the next one!

I also went back to running on a trail I grew fond of over the past two weeks. I hit 40 miles total for both the weeks I was away, and was even running at faster-than-normal paces. I had to stop and take a picture on my last run on Monday. I literally can’t believe that two weeks went by so fast…

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“I’m going to miss running on this trail! I was able to run 40 mi/week for two weeks (consecutively!), most of which was done on this trail by the Arkansas River. I also had to include some muggy Houston runs 😅 haha but I’m so excited to see my mileage ramping up, and to be running faster paces that look to be consistent. Ready to head back to Cali and keep up the work!!”

This trip was special in so many ways, and I think that’s why I felt pretty blue in the days leading up to my departure and my departure day. Time is so, so precious, and it’s trips like these that make me wish we could pause frames in time to replay over and over again. While I do plan to see my sis before her graduation, I may not see my Dad until then…so not for at least another five months! But at least it will be an exciting time then as well…Europe is in our future!

How did you enjoy the last days of 2016?

Spiral Diner & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

There’s Always Time for Ice Cream

There’s Always Time for Ice Cream

I’ve gotten so distracted by my work lately, that eating out—and even running—have started to retain less and less of my attention. Last year around this time, I was celebrating my weekends with long run victories and skipping all over LA finding good places to eat post-runs.

Of course I’m still eating and running, but this past weekend, I wasn’t in the mood to eat out and I had plenty to do anyways. On Saturday, I volunteered for a STEM-related event my campus was sponsoring. Along with nourishing young minds, I was nourishing myself with this delightful veggie sandwich. It was stuffed with lettuce, tapenade, and layerzzzz of swiss cheese.

one fine veggie sandwich
Free (veggie) food for volunteers!!

Instead of going out to eat afterwards, I made a quick stop downtown to grab some groceries from Walgreen’s and the Whole Foods that recently opened. I found two truffle-jammed B&J pints, and since they were Walgreen’s exclusives, I couldn’t pass them up.

I had Triple Caramel Chunk Saturday night, and fell head over heels for this caramel-insane pint! I loved the mild, sweet caramel ice cream, and the caramel swirl that reminded me of the Karamel Sutra Core flavor. Of course, the mini caramel truffle cups were smallest, but best part!

triple_Caramel_CHunk
Triple Caramel Chunk

On Sunday, rain and thunder were in the forecast for LA. Even so, my marathon training team still drove all the way to the beach to get in our longest, grittiest run pre-marathon of 22 miles. It was the best/worst decision I ever made. I felt strong and amazing for the first six miles, but by mile seven, it was pouring, I was soaking wet, and I loathed the fact that I wasn’t even half way done yet. The last two miles were what killed me…the wind gusts were so great off the ocean that sand was literally sticking to my legs. Not to mention the fact that it was freezing cold! I wanted to smack our team captain in the face for making us go out for the run, but then it was probably one of those things that would help us out on race day…if we survived the monsoon run, we could survive a milder 26.2 in two weeks, right? 😉

I came home later that day soaking wet, and ready to dig in into my other pint: Truffle Trifecta.

truffle trifecta
Truffle Trifecta

It was all chocolate ice cream so I wasn’t expecting it to be an all-time favorite, but it was fun trying to find all three truffles that were supposedly mixed in this entire pint!

chocolate_top
It’s ALL chocolate?

I found fudge…

chocolate truffle
Fudge truffle

…and caramel…

caramel_truffle_now_where_is_the_marshmello_truffle
Caramel truffle

…but “marshmallow”? Nope. I couldn’t find any white, pectin-based marshmallow truffles to my disappointment.

Even though I treated myself to some decadent ice creams this weekend, I am looking forward to a lab-free weekend coming up! It’s also taper week, so my long run on Sunday will only be 8 miles…meaning more time for doing what I love best: hopping all over LA and stuffing my face with its good eats!

Do you easily get caught up with work?

Sunday Ethiopian Buffet

Sunday Ethiopian Buffet

After running strong on Sunday morning, and diving head first into sweets the day before, I wasn’t sure what I wanted for my late lunch. I ended up deciding on Ethiopian, considering that it had been a long while since my last encounter with injera 🙂

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Sunday afternoon in Little Ethiopia.

Plus, it gave me an excuse to finally set foot in Little Ethiopia—where there are Ethiopian restaurants literally rubbing shoulders with one another. I’m not sure how they ALL survive, but I’m glad they do 😀

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Rahel VEGAN Ethiopian Cuisine!!

Rahel Vegan Ethiopian Cuisine was my stop for the day. It was refreshing to see that, even though Ethiopian cuisine is very vegetarian friendly, there was an entire restaurant devoted to serving just the vegan options of the cuisine.

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Interior decor

The restaurant was split up into two seating areas, but most people were seated in the larger room where a tall window brought in lots of sunlight.

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Menu cover.

As a single diner, I thought it was best to help myself to the lunch buffet offered between 11am-3pm each day, rather than figure out something from the menu.

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Buffet at the far end of the room.

The buffet was split up into a cold and hot section, and the injera rolls were kept inside a large basket. The cold food bar had mixed salad, beets (my love!), cut-up injera with spices, and dressing.

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Cold food section

I wanted to load up on all the side dishes, so I helped myself to one injera roll for every plate I ended up getting.

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INJERA 🙂

Plate #1 was a masterpiece. Since I was sitting in the center of the room, it was hard not to draw attention to myself due to my phone picture-taking, but it’s all part of the food blogger duty 😉

8
Plate #1 : Injera, cut-up injera with spices, cabbage + carots, spiced cabbage, spicy lentils, kale

The spongy texture of the injera—perfect for absorbing all of the spices from the lentil stew and nutrient-dense veggies!

9
Sponginess of injera.

Seconds and thirds (and an unpictured fourth) were necessary for the full buffet experience. I left Rahel feeling stuffed, but since I was only a 20 minute walk away from the Grove, I put my full belly to work.

10
Seconds and thirds, cause it’s mandatory.

Carbs on a Sunday = a fun day 🙂 .

Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine 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.

entrance

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.

interior__

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.

brothbowl&bread

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?

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Milo & Olive: Pizza for One Please

Milo & Olive: Pizza for One Please

Since I had plans on being in Santa Monica for my long run over the weekend, I thought it would be ideal to grab lunch nearby after my 12 mile taper run. I was in the mood for a personal pizza, and so I took a bus from Ocean Ave. that was headed in the east direction of Wilshire. I was set to dine at Milo & Olive for my post-workout lunch.

The small, gray establishment was not hard for me to miss, since I have paid a couple visits to the the Vitamin Shoppe nearby. There were already groups of folks waiting outside and inside the tiny cube of a restaurant.

busysundayyy
Waiting near the counter // Patrons at the bar.

I had my name added to the waitlist, but I don’t think I had to wait as long as some others. Since I was dining alone, I was able to get a table relatively quickly (within 15 minutes). I was taken behind the baked goods counter, and given a table by a large window. I also had a great view of the hustle & bustle of the restaurant in front of me.

interior

I love the way the paintings were arranged on the walls, but I was fixated on this one in particular:

 Old people---so cute!
Old people—so cute!

I also couldn’t help but admire the high ceiling paneled with wood.

SAMSUNG

There were lots of pizzas to choose from, but after confirming if the Quattro Formaggi was suitable for vegetarians, I ordered that…

SAMSUNG

…and sipped on some water from this fancy-looking jar while I waited for my warm pizza pie to arrive. The waiter “warned” me it would be at least fifteen minutes, but I understood…perfection can’t be rushed 😉

When the pizza did arrive, it garnered stares from the tables around me. It demanded attention, as made obvious by its bubbling cheese, glistening green kale, and aroma of calabrian chili oil.

Quattro Formaggi with sautéed kale and calabrian chili oil

The pizza looked bigger than a “normal” personal pizza at first, but it was actually just the crust that looked puffy and large. The center of the pizza was quite thin, and it was almost as if it was just a circle of melted cheese. The underlying crust was barely visible.

QUATTRO FORMAGGI

This meant that my ways of eating pizza with a fork would not be appropriate here, and I had to treat it as a handheld meal like a normal person would 😛

The pizza itself was quite filling, even though I didn’t demolish it entirely (I left a bulk of the crusts on my plate, mostly eating the slice up until the border where the cheese ended). I was contemplating a cupcake for dessert, but decided that it would be in my best interest to head back home and rest up study for an exam the next day. There would be next weekend after all, and I did have some gelatin-free gummies waiting for me in the meantime to get me though an afternoon and evening of studying!

Do you like eating the pizza crust? Plain or with a dip/sauce? I used to dip leftover pizza crust in ketchup when I was younger! Otherwise, it was just too dry for me.

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