President’s Day Weekend ’17 – Part 1

President’s Day Weekend ’17 – Part 1

The last time I saw my cousin and her wife was in the summer of 2015…just before my parents moved from Cali and before I began my second year of grad school.

I didn’t think it would be another year and a half before seeing them again, but it wasn’t until this past weekend that my sister and I had a chance to visit.

A little guide dog that boarded the train :)
A little guide dog that boarded the train ūüôā

I left on a Thursday afternoon just so that I could spread out my travel time. I took the evening Amtrak bus/train, and my sister picked me up at the station. My bus arrived in Bakersfield an HOUR early, so waiting to board the train ended up being an uncontrollable waste of time. I did eventually get on and get to Fresno around 8:30pm. My sister and I immediately went to Sprouts to get snacks, chill, and got to sleep around midnight.

The next day, I woke up to go for a run, despite the intermittent showers. I ended up running a little under six miles, while my sister finished up her morning class. From there, we left for a late breakfast at her now all-time favorite brunch place Benediction. Seeing as it was my third time visiting the location, I didn’t think about taking pictures of my food. I left my phone in the car, and fully enjoyed some piping hot coffee, potatoes (still have a craving for the starchy goodness ever since my visit to JFAT), and my sister’s company.

From there, we left for Walnut Creek. It ended up being just about 3 hours of a drive and my sister was a trooper, driving through some horrid rain spots as we got closer to the bay. I offered to take over towards the end but she had it under control. We did have some bladder-related tasks to take care of, so when we finally got to my cousin’s apartment, we fled upstairs with the luggage still in our car. The first question we asked was “where is your bathroom?!”

Once we were settled in, we chatted for an hour our two while snacking on a slice of coffee-spiced cheese, apple slices, and oranges. I forgot how good the apple/cheese combo is!

We originally had plans to eat in for dinner, but then my cousin’s wife offered to pay for dinner since she got a bonus and wanted to treat all of us.

Welcome to Babalou's!
Welcome to Babalou’s!

Because of her sweet offer, we dined at Babalou’s for some fresh Mediterranean food.

Fun artwork!
Fun artwork!

I had the veggie plate, which came with two falafel, two dolmas (grape leaf rolls), a lentil salad, babaganoush, hummus, and tahini.

Veggie Plate
Veggie Plate

There was also of course some pita bread on the side to mop up any excess condiments.

Baba & Hummus
Baba & Hummus

After dinner, we made our way to the nearby theater to watch Lion. It was incredibly packed, more so than when I saw a movie out in LA on a Friday night.

Friday night at the movies!
Friday night at the movies!

All of us pretty much teared up or held our tears back by the time the movie was through. It was such a good story and the meaning of the title makes so much sense at the end.

We got home around 10:00 but we were all pretty tired to stay up and do anything. Dinner and a movie was all we could handle for the day!

Babalou's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mediterranean Craving

Mediterranean Craving

By the end of our third day in the LA area, my Dad and I were both too tired to complain about LA traffic. We both had a long and eventful day, and wanted needed to get something to eat, quick.

We were staying in the Pasadena area, and I had found yet another veggie-friendly place to check out. By the time we got to the area it was supposed to be in though, we noticed that they were either closed on the weekday we chose to make their presence, or they were closed for good.

Seeing as we were both too tired to find a similar restaurant some place else, I went with my gut and noticed I felt hungry for Mediterranean food. Thankfully, this place was right across the street ready to appease my craving.

Pita Jungle Menu

I actually didn’t know it then, but Pita Jungle is not unique to Cali. While they have three locations in California, they are all over Arizona.

The restaurant itself was very spacious, and the brick walls reminded me of an Italian Restaurant/Pizzeria for some reason.

Spacious in Pita Jungle.

The tables were clean and slick.


Our waitress was all smiles when she came to take our orders. I was really craving hummus and baba ghanoush, but after I looked over the pita section, and after reading that any chicken or beef can be replaced with tofu, I decided on the Philly Chicken Tofu Pita. My Dad stole my original idea and ordered something off the Starters section of the menu—the Mediterranean Antipasto Platter.

It was a busy weeknight, so our wait was semi-long. Perhaps it felt longer because we were getting hungrier and hungrier as time passed.

View from the Bathroom Hallway

After waiting in line to use the restroom, I gave up and hoped that our food was ready. Indeed it was.

My pita sandwich. I have to admit that I did NOT eat it “properly”. Even though I had a pita sandwich craving, I attacked the filling with a fork and finished off the pita bread by itself. No matter which way you choose to eat this though, it is a sandwich that would be enjoyed by most, if not all!

Grilled marinated chicken breast, bell peppers, sauteed onions, topped with Swiss cheese and wood-fired in a Greek pita.
Grilled marinated chicken breast White tofu cubes, bell peppers, sauteed onions, topped with Swiss cheese and wood-fired in a Greek pita.

My Dad’s Mediterranean Antipasto Platter was worth being jealous over…

Hummus, baba ganoosh, tzatziki, taboule, feta cheese, dolmades, falafel, ratatouille and two pitas.
Hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki, taboule, feta cheese, dolmades, falafel, ratatouille and two pitas.

…but he was gracious and let me help myself to some of the samplings. Baba ghanoush and hummus cravings: annihilated.

Dinner concluded with some froyo from Pinkberry. For some reason, my family and friends prefer self-serve over the Pinkberry style of service where an employee makes a cup for you. I like both types of froyo services, so I find it hard to wrap my head around the notion of someone not loving Pinkberry. Especially when you have the option of getting peanut butter froyo with mochi and dark chocolate crispies as toppings!!

PB Froyo with Mochi and Dark Choco Crispies!


I guess the recent Mediterranean dining experience I had stuck with me the few days following the trip, since I wanted to recreate the baba ghanoush I sampled from the Mediterranean Antipasto Platter. Unfortunately, we had no eggplant in the house over the weekend, but we had a plentiful amount of chow chow squash :P!

Well, it sufficed.

Chow Chow Ghanoush

Chow Chow Ganoush with Flatbread and Apple



  • 1 chow chow, steamed
  • 1/2¬†cup garbanzo
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive oil for saut√©ing


  • Blend chow chow, garbanzo beans, salt,¬†and lemon juice¬†in blender to fine consistency.
  • Saut√© chopped onion and garlic in olive oil and garnish.¬† Add to the previous blend.
  • Sprinkle with pepper.
  • Enjoy with some pita bread :)!

Chow Chow Ganoush

It may have come out more watery than regular baba ganoush, but it was pretty good substitute :).

Pita Jungle on Urbanspoon

What’s your fav Med. condiment: hummus, baba ganoush, or tzatziki?

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