Little Lab Outing

Little Lab Outing

We recently has a post-doc leave our lab to pursue a new job, and as a result, we’ve been shifting the seating arrangements of our lab personnel…in other words, my lab bestie (E) moved into the office I am in, as well as another person I like talking to in lab! From the two offices our lab occupies, my office became the “loud and fun one” pretty much overnight 😛

To celebrate the new arrangements, me, E, and our other colleague went out for lunch Tuesday afternoon. Azla Vegan Ethiopian was a food court-style restaurant in a mini shopping complex called Mercado de Paloma, but this specific food spot was a place I had on my foodie radar for a while now (like so many places I am realizing, haha)!

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Azla Ethiopian Vegan

E and I ended up eating here while our colleague got a quesadilla lunch from one of the other food court stalls. We picked 3-4 side items, and got two rolls of injera with our plates.

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Small, but one of the cuter storefronts in the shopping complex.

We were able to pick from dressed lentil salads, curried lentils, greens, cooked vegetables, and spicy tofu to pair up with our injera.

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Salads!

There was also a small assortment of vegan baked goods, but we (well at least I did!) knew our plates would be filling enough.

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Savory, and a bunch of sweets.

E’s plate was full, packed and looked delicious! I didn’t get the lentil salad, but looking at E’s plate made me second-guess that decision.

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E’s plate

My plate had the curried lentils, boiled potatoes/cabbage/carrot, gomen (cooked spinach), and two rolls of injera. The three of us walked over with our plates of food and found a table to sit at, amongst racks of clothes and in front of other food stalls.

lentilsvegspinachinjera
My plate 🙂

We spent the next hour enjoying our lunch and each other’s company. I made this comment on Instagram, but being able to go out for lunch on a Tuesday with lab mates, and not having food be the focus felt so refreshing. It was just another reminder that I am progressing through recovery, and that I’m also improving when it comes to taking advantage of social opportunities. I’m forming relationships, and allowing those to grow while, gradually with each day, I am squashing that eating disorder voice. This is recovery in action, and I’m loving that days like these are starting to occur more in frequency.

We went back to work after lunch, but I felt much more energized from both the food and endorphin burst from all the laughing we did. I’m sure these lunches will become a regular occurrence, and seeing that it took me two years to feel “at home” at work, I couldn’t be happier about this prospect.

Do you hang out with work colleagues outside of work?

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

Fala Me to Fala Bar (Again)

Fala Me to Fala Bar (Again)

I’m wondering if I should rename this blog “Will Study for (Mediterranean) Food” because that pretty much seems to describe what I eat when I go out on the weekends…but I mean, what’s there to be defensive about? The cuisine speaks for itself—it’s balanced, wholesome, flavorful, and pretty much can be found anywhere you look in LA.

Fala Bar, Venice
Fala Bar, Venice

Moving to Santa Monica has made it much easier for me to check out all the places (by foot) that were inaccessible to me before, due to the long travel time of public transit or, in some cases, because public transit did not pass through those areas. The row of shops and restaurants on Abbot Kinney was one of those areas. When I had a sudden craving for Medi-food on Saturday, but I didn’t want to venture too far east of West LA, I decided to stop by this hidden gem of a neighborhood for a late lunch.

I first tried Fala Bar >back in April at their Melrose location. Since I was in the Fairfax/Grove area most weekends when I lived in DTLA (DTLA to Mid-City is easy to travel back-and-forth by bus), visiting this location was not a problem. Now that it’s a little out of the way and the Venice one isn’t anymore, I was eager to dig into some familiar food in a new locale.

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Need help deciding what to get?

I have plans to explore Abbot Kinney more in the future, as there are so many cute shops and eateries lined up side-by-side. The area reminded me of a small district in Disneyland—the sidewalks were small, and the buildings were close together as if it was a movie set for a small town.

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Abbot (Kinney) that Fala Life 😛

I found Fala Bar nestled between Blue Star Donuts and a cafe serving up acai bowls. Last time I visited Fala Bar, I proposed to have one of their burgers if I ever visited again, but I truly wanted a hearty plate. I ended up getting the Baba Plate, which didn’t come with falafel but instead a fluffy, round piece of soft pita bread.

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Unpictured Tahini and Babaganoush -> Cucumber&Tomato Salad + Cabbage + Tabouli -> Pita Bread

I carefully carried my compostable tray outside, and sat at the counter positioned just in front. It was an awkward seating arrangement because it was literally on the sidewalk, and my back was facing those that were walking by. Funny thing was, people would slow down their stride to take a look at what I was eating. Some even went inside Fala Bar after seeing my plate of colorful cabbage and creamy tahini.

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Plate of beauty in full view!!

Everything was eaten until only drops of lemon juice colored purple were left on the tray. I could have spent the rest of my afternoon checking out the shops, but the heat/crowds got to me, so I chose to save that as an adventure for another day. I also wanted to get home and just completely relax since I didn’t have to make plans to go to lab (for once!) for the remainder of Labor Day Weekend! I needed to make time to plan my adventure on Monday…;)

What cuisine do you tend to mostly gravitate towards when eating out?

Fala Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars, Birthdays, and a (Quinoa Taco) Bowl!

Bars, Birthdays, and a (Quinoa Taco) Bowl!

Last weekend, a friend from my first year cohort (who I had not seen in almost a year) sent me a text asking if I was doing anything Saturday evening…it was her birthday, and she wanted to celebrate with her friends at Street Food Cinema in Griffith Park. I thought it would be a fun thing to join in on, since I had been meaning to catch up with her for several months! Plus, it would be my first time going to an outdoor movie event, and this one would be showing Monster’s Inc.

Prior to the evening’s festivities, I had work in lab (of course) throughout Friday and the first part of Saturday. When I was in need of a pick-me-up snack on both days, bars from BPI Sports came to the rescue. I found these “BEST” bars recently stocked at the campus bookstore, and tried the S’mores flavor first.

It’s not been getting much love on social media, but I honestly really liked this flavor! I felt like the bar really lived up to it’s name, with chocolate chunks—and even what seemed like cookie or graham cracker pieces throughout—since the bar had a noteworthy crunch to it at some bites!

BPI_smores_
BPI Sports Best Protein Bars – S’mores

I had to try the Cookies and Cream & Chocolate Peanut Butter flavors as well, but these flavors were satisfactory in comparison to the S’mores flavor. Cookies and Cream had a decent amount of crunch to it like S’mores, but the CPB flavor was dull, and seemed to me like a flavorless piece of “chocolate jerky”. It even looks like jerky too (right-bottom corner).

cookie_PB
BPI Sports Best Protein Bars – Cookies & Cream and Chocolate Peanut Butter

I headed out to Griffith Park from downtown, since I had to do some errands there in the afternoon after lab. From there, I took a bus (with waiting at the bus stop + total transit time = ~2 hours, grrr…) and arrived close to 6pm where the theater screen was set up on the lawn withing Griffith Park.

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The lawn was already packed with people by the time I got there!

After finding my friend, giving her a giant hug, and catching up with her for a few minutes. I then walked over to where the food trucks were line up (the reason this event was called “Street FOOD Cinema” 😉

SAYfish
Say Fish Taco Truck

Out of all the food trucks available, funny thing was I found a vegetarian option at a fish taco truck, haha!

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(Veggie) Bowl

This bowl was packed with everything imaginable veggie-wise. And there was no escaping that generous scoop of guacamole! With my bowl in hand, I went back to where my friend set up camp, and sat with another one of my friend’s who had joined while I was off finding food. After catching up and eating with eachother, we expanded our circle as more people arrived. Since the movie didn’t start until 8pm and we had an hour or so until then, we decided to play a game of Phase 10, which is like Rummy and Uno apparently (I’m one of those people who learns how to play a card game when asked, and then promptly forgets how to play later 😛 ).

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Grilled veggies, dill cream, black beans, cauliflower rice, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, corn tortilla strips, and LOTSA LOTSA GUACCCC

When the movie started at 8pm, we all settled in with our own blankets and relaxed under the dark, cloudy sky as we watched the movie play on the giant screen in front of us. When the movie ended around 10pm, I was glad one of my friends offered to drop me off at home since otherwise I would have had to call for (and pay for…) an Uber!

The next day, I decided to give myself a break from doing a long run since I had some lingering soreness in my legs from Friday. It felt so good to sleep in, and later in the afternoon, my roommate offered to drive us to the new 365 by Whole Foods store that recently opened in Silver Lake!

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The new 365 store and by CHLOE.

Before shopping, we ate of course! At by CHLOE 🙂 .

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So crowded inside though!

The space was adorable, it was just extremely packed, and my roommate and I were lucky to find a space to sit down! My meal choice was 100% influenced by the first dish I saw someone eating while I was standing in line. I didn’t have to worry if it was vegetarian, because everything on the menu here was vegan!

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Cute graphics!

^ Even the ketchup was beet ketchup.

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With my bowl…I got a free juice?!

I got the Quinoa Taco Salad which was the dish I saw someone eating while standing in line. With my order, I ended up getting a free juice to my surprise. It was ginger-based flavor that I had later at home, which I thoroughly enjoyed while looking over some data for work 😉

quinoa taco salad
Quinoa Taco Salad…so fresh, cold, and delicious!

Back to this salad though…it took forever to come out, but at least everything was presented and placed nicely. Crispy tortilla chips to one side, quinoa in the middle, and some soy chorizo crumbles in the far top corner.

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Grocery shopping!

My roommate got a portabello sandwich that came in a hot dog bun, which she found to be a choice well-made. After eating up, we walked right into the store, collected the items we had in our mental grocery lists, and were out within 40 minutes (most of that time was spent in line!).

Overall I wasn’t the biggest fan of the store, but I wouldn’t mind paying another visit to by CHLOE again! And if I’m ever in New York City again, I have to make sure I check out the original location 😉

Are you good at card games?

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 😀

2
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 😉

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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!

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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.

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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

LDW ’15

LDW ’15

Labor Day Weekend is such a precious gift for a graduate student…especially one who has to go into lab prettymucheveryday, and has to read abajallionpapers every week for class. I wish I was exaggerating, but such is the life of a second-year! Even though I felt overworked and drained from a long week, I surprisingly had enough energy to talk to my new roommate once I got home and got some dinner in me! I also had to have an pint of ice cream of course because duh, Friday. 😉

 Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

Since my roommate and I were talking non-stop, I ended up eating this ice cream in a semi-melted state. It was not too big of an interruption to affect the taste though. It was like eating frozen yogurt with large chunks of cookie dough thrown in. How is that ever a bad thing? 😛

We had planned to go out for an afternoon hike the next day, but other things got in the way for the both of us. Instead, after fulfilling my lab duties in the morning, I ended up spending the rest of my Saturday playing catch-up. I thought another ice cream pint would get me through the mundane workload, but let’s just say New York Super Fudge Chunk left me feeling less enthused.

So what if it had white chocolate fudge chunks and fudge-covered almonds? Certainly not my go-to flavor or one to try again later… :(
So what if it had white chocolate fudge chunks and fudge-covered almonds? Certainly not my go-to flavor or one to try again later… 🙁

Maybe it was the too-frozen consistency, or the dark chocolate ice cream. Perhaps it was the overload of nuts? Too many cons, and not enough pros made this flavor an unfortunate no-no for me 🙁

On Sunday morning, I managed to still wake up at the dark hour of 5AM and head out for a 12 mile long run. Averaging an average pace of 9:20/mi, I made it back to the apartment around 7:30AM, just as my roommate was getting up. I still had to go into lab that morning, and we planned to meet up later to go grocery shopping/eat out, but something else came up for her that she had to attend to. So after my work was done, I was off on another weekend solo adventure, as usual 😉 !

The last time I was in Westwood, it was scorching hot in mid-July and I was eating my weight in pie and ice cream. About two month’s later and nothing’s changed…except I was about to eat my weight in pickles, bread, and cabbage at Lenny’s Deli. After seeing their feature on Mystery Diners and learning about their famous Rosenberger, I was excited to be able to cross them off my LA foodie bucket list 🙂

 Lenny's Deli
Lenny’s Deli

It was almost 4pm when I made my way inside, and having run 12 miles in the morning and being cooped up in lab right after, I was more than ready to chow down. Then entrance opens up right to a huge bakery, with countless dessert options.

 The HUGE bakery and Happy Birthday Israel sign---it was a Jewish deli after all!
The HUGE bakery and Happy Birthday Israel sign—it was a Jewish deli after all!

I made my way over to the restaurant area, which was towards the right of the restaurant, and had a diner-like feel with the huge booths and TVs lining the top of the walls.

 Isolation, diner-style.
Isolation, diner-style.

I was given a menu to look through, but I noticed that a new and featured special—the Vegan Tuna Fish Dish—was currently being offered. My original plan for a burger went out the window when I saw that, and I made my request to the hostess.

 Don't tease me like that!
Don’t tease me like that!

Unfortunately, she came back with the sad news that they were actually out for the day. I ended up ordering what I initially planned on—The Rosenberger.

I didn’t have to wait in a hangry state, since right after I made my order, I was given complimentary pickles + sauerkraut, along with four slices of rye bread. The sauerkraut actually tasted sweeter than I expected, but it, along with the large pickle halves, paired deliciously with my rye slices.

 Pickles, sauerkraut, and rye bread---almost didn't even need to order a meal!
Pickles, sauerkraut, and rye bread—almost didn’t even need to order a meal!

By the time I got through all of the pickled items, my Rosenberger arrived—full and ready to be devoured.

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The Rosenberger, vege-fied: two flat, thick onion bread buns with a soft, veggie patty, melted cheese, mushrooms, grilled onions.

I was amazed by the appearance of the onion bread buns, and the inside of the burger was mind-blowing.

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The good stuff on the inside.

On the side, I got a cup of coleslaw:

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Cold, sweet coleslaw

I guess it wasn’t too bad that they ran out of vegan tuna 😉

I was already feeling full from all of the fibrous pickled items I had inhaled before, but this burger deserved to be consumed in its entirety. I ate it open-face style with a fork, and mixed in my coleslaw with the mushrooms/cheese/onions for flavor-packed breadfull bites!

I was STUFFED by the end of it, but the meal was certainly balanced. I was also incredibly thirsty afterwards…perhaps due to all of the salt from the pickles? 😛

How did you relax this Labor Day Weekend?

Lenny's Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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