Before Barcelona

Before Barcelona

I’ve been dying to write about my (short) stay in Spain, but I have the need to document the days leading up to it, since it was a couple of days of trying new restaurants with loved ones and a number of new-to-me ice cream flavors (hello, Halo Top!) 

The weekend before I left, I was in lab (of course) taking care of some last minute things for my trip since I was going for a conference. E also came by, and we ended up going to DTLA since it was close. We walked around for a bit semi-aimlessly, just enjoying eachother’s company and the weather, but I was getting hungry. 
 
We found Le Pain Quotidien, and I suggested we go inside since I had never been. E showed her super sweet side when we came across a homeless young woman asking if we had any spare change. Neither of us did, but E offered to get her a coffee and a croissant. 
 
Le Pain Quotidien
Le Pain Quotidien
 
The woman was really happy with the gesture, and even though she seemed hesitant, she did come inside to get the coffee and food. 
 
E and I then ordered for ourselves at the counter. I ended up getting their seasonal dragonfruit bowl, while she got some avocado toast. 
 
To be honest, the amount I got for the price I paid was disproportionate. The bowl was a measly size, barely filling the size of my palm…
 
Dragonfruit Acai Bowl
Dragonfruit Acai Bowl
 
E’s toast was given to her in a paper box, and looked much more filling than my excuse for a bowl…
 
The next day, I was able to meet up with my sister who was heading back down from a week and a half long trip in Fresno catching up with friends. She picked me up from lab, poster in tow, and we drove to Santa Monica for some early dinner. 
 
Bareburger has been on my list of places I’ve been meaning to visit, and so it was the perfect opportunity to go for a happy hour dinner. 
 
Bareburger, Santa Monica
Bareburger, Santa Monica
 
The inside was super cozy and definitely had a Santa Monica beachy vibe. The bar was not crowded but the after-work crowd was definitely starting to show up. 
 
Having dinner at happy hour meant being able to snag dinner-sized food at happy hour prices! My sis and I unanimously agreed on a cup of fried pickles with dipping ranch, and we got a handhold for each of us. 
 
Fried pickles
Fried pickles
 
Mine was the Farmstead. I didn’t read the description carefully, so I thought my wrap was going to be a bread-based handhold. To my surprise, A green-layered wrap came out with chunks of sweet potato, hummus, and a wild rice patty nicely tucked inside. I was thrown off at first, but after the first bite, I was in love, haha. 
 
Farmstead Wrap
Farmstead Wrap
 
My sis dropped me off after a quick run to the grocery store, and I immediately got to packing…okay, not exactly, but I made a list 😉 
 
The week leading up to my trip was an excuse to finally taste some of the new Halo Top flavors. I remember last year around this time when I did an extensive series of Instagram reviews on their ten new flavors release. Now, I’m excited to see that even more flavors are out and worth trying, but I’m not racing to Ralph’s with the intention to hoard every new flavor I see. But as far as the flavors I tried so far…
 
Halo Top Cinnamon Roll:
 
This pint was chock full of cinnamon dough pieces all swirled into a vanilla base. Smooth and creamy through and through, but definitely was spicier than expected.
This pint was chock full of cinnamon dough pieces all swirled into a vanilla base. Smooth and creamy through and through, but definitely was spicier than expected.

Halo Top Candy Bar:

This pint had a coffee/mild chocolate flavor with a subtle chocolate swirl and peanut pieces. It was like a cold, underwhelming Snickers bar!
This pint had a coffee/mild chocolate flavor with a subtle chocolate swirl and peanut pieces. It was like a cold, underwhelming Snickers bar!

Halo Top Caramel Macchiato:

This flavor had a sharp coffee caramel taste. Another pint with a subtle swirl, though caramel.
This flavor had a sharp coffee caramel taste. Another pint with a subtle swirl, though caramel.

Halo Top Pancakes & Waffles:

Found this to be such a unique-sounding flavor! The cone pieces were mushy, but the ice cream had a nice blend of honey and caramel. But the aftertaste did pack a punch!
Found this to be such a unique-sounding flavor! The cone pieces were mushy, but the ice cream had a nice blend of honey and caramel. But the aftertaste did pack a punch!

I also had two flavors that were NOT Halo Top, and one fared to be just as good as the offerings from HT and the other…not so much.

Sprouts Organic Cinnamon Pumpkin Ice Cream:

...
For some reason the pumpkin flavor was calling out to me that day…the texture was like soft serve, and had ice cream itself was a mix between pumpkin and cinnamon. It became a new favorite of mine, that I immediately shared on Instagram.

Simple Truth Low Cow Lite Ice Cream – Birthday Cake:

I rarely ever use harsh language on this blog, but this flavor just plain sucked. I mean, this is a disgrace to all things birthday cake-flavored.
I rarely ever use harsh language on this blog, but this flavor just plain sucked. I mean, this is a disgrace to all things birthday cake-flavored. The ice cream was bland, gross, and dry, sticking to the sides of the pint. The candy pieces had no flavor, and while it was a cheap price at Ralph’s it just was not worth it…

Now that I’ve got some major work items out of the way (for now), I can get caught up on my Spain posts (even though that was work-related too, haha). Stay-tuned!

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

4th of July What?

4th of July What?

For me, 4th of July weekend was non-existent. I was in lab every single day that weekend, two of which were spent as over-nighters due to the nature of the experiments I was running. It was exhausting, but I felt so productive and accomplished by the end of it…and when I saw co-workers walking in on July 5th looking super depressed, haha!

The weekend after, I still had to go into lab but lunch in downtown with E was a given. I had an eye appointment I had to attend to first, but after that, E and I walked into the depths of downtown—under the hot LA sub—looking for Two Boots Pizza. We were covered in sweat by the time we saw the small stand by an old-style theater and Urban Outfitters.

Two Boots, DTLA
Two Boots, DTLA

One thing that intrigued me about this place is how they have a lengthy line-up of some veggie/vegan pizza options! The green-bordered menu had E and I excited to dig into a late lunch.

♥

Despite the long list of pizza options, the guy behind the counter disappointed us by saying the only flavors available that day were displayed through the front window.

♥

In that case, we both ordered a slice of the Night Tripper. She got another spicy slice while I got the veggie-topped V for Vegan.

♥ Night Tripper & V for Vegan ♥
♥ Night Tripper & V for Vegan ♥

We sat at some stools next to the little stall and munched on our slices. The Night Tripper was indeed a spicy one with a soft layer of cheese and basil drizzle. V for Vegan was milder in comparison, but put artichoke hearts on anything and it just takes it to the next level.

After talking for a bit, we headed back to catch the train and from there I headed home. I stopped by Ralph’s to get a pint for the night—this time a new So Delicious flavor to try: Dark Chocolate Truffle.

♥

And…despite wanting to love it, the DCT cashew milk ice cream just wasn’t those flavors I fell in love with. Snickerdoodle, Salted Caramel Cluster, and Cookie Dough had me feeling differently, but I guess this flavor is perhaps best suited for a vegan who loves her chocolate!

On Sunday, I went out for a 14 mile run before heading to lab. Since San Diego, I’ve just been trying to maintain my weekly mileage, since I plan to start fall marathon training (back with a coach) in August. July seems to be the perfect month to be a little lax with training…since “slow” times and “sluggish efforts” can always be blamed on the heat 😉

After the run, I hurried to lab just to get my errands out of the way. With my sister out of the state for the next couple weeks, I’m car-sitting her automobile and so I was able to conveniently drive over to lab that morning. I finished up by early afternoon, and so E and I took the car out to Melrose to dine at Fratelli Cafe. Of course, we parked too soon at La Brea since E thought she knew where the restaurant was. We were off by a couple blocks, and so we literally ended up having a warm-up walk before eating, haha!

Fratelli on Melrose
Fratelli on Melrose

When we entered the restaurant, we could tell the place was a local favorite based on the crowds, but getting the attention of the wait staff proved to be difficult. We weren’t sure if we had to wait to be seated, or seat ourselves, but we eventually figured out that we order first and then find a place to sit. There weren’t enough menus at the front where we had to order, and so E and I waited awkwardly behind a group of three who had all three menus…

♥

When we did get our chance to order, I ordered the Huevos Rancheros off the breakfast menu while E went for a veggie sandwich and chips. There was no difference sitting inside versus outside since there was no evidence of an A/C, so we found a table outside.

It took a while for our food to arrive, and the dishes that passed us in the meantime were a real tease for our exhausted, overheated bodies. When our plates did come though, I took a moment to admire the layers of my brunch plate.

♥

I had a well-balanced, hearty plate in front of me, if I do say so myself…

"I've been craving eggs 🍳 like crazy lately, so I wasn't surprised that I ended up getting Huevos Rancheros for a late lunch on Sunday at Fratelli Cafe with the lab bestie. Besides getting food in our systems, it didn't make sense to do anything else because of the heat wave 🔥🔥🔥 and after dropping her off at home, I was knocked out 😴 by 7:30pm. The next thing I know, I wake up and it's pitch black at 9pm 😱😂. I guess I must have been really tired in addition to being really hungry 😅. Working through the Fourth of July holiday weekend does that to you I guess 🤷🏽‍♀️ 😉 #PhDStudentLife"
“I’ve been craving eggs 🍳 like crazy lately, so I wasn’t surprised that I ended up getting Huevos Rancheros for a late lunch on Sunday at Fratelli Cafe with the lab bestie. Besides getting food in our systems, it didn’t make sense to do anything else because of the heat wave 🔥🔥🔥 and after dropping her off at home, I was knocked out 😴 by 7:30pm. The next thing I know, I wake up and it’s pitch black at 9pm 😱😂. I guess I must have been really tired in addition to being really hungry 😅. Working through the Fourth of July holiday weekend does that to you I guess 🤷🏽‍♀️ 😉 #PhDStudentLife”

We finished our late lunch by 4pm, and while the sun was still high in the sky and we could have easily done something else thanks to the convenience of a car, we decided to call it a day since it was too hot. I dropped E off at home before doing some grocery shopping, and on the way, finally picked up a jar of Nuts’n More to try.

Nuts'n More Cookie Butter High Protein Spread
Nuts’n More Cookie Butter High Protein Spread

In comparison to D’s Naturals, I found that the oils mix much more evenly throughout the jar so that the bottom isn’t a flaky, dry paste. There were some tiny, crystallized sugar pieces in the mix too, but the cookie butter flavor was still detectable.

My 4th of July “holiday weekend” was something I missed out on, but I’d say I do a pretty decent job of finding the time to give myself a break, even if it doesn’t coincide with the rest of the world’s! It also helps to have a colleague/friend who pretty much lives at work just as much as you do. At this rate, with all of the places I drag her out to eat at, E will probably become just as much of a foodie as I am!

Did you have a long 4th of July holiday weekend, or just a day or two off?

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

Cupcake Caught My Eye

Cupcake Caught My Eye

After getting my fill of Mediterranean food for lunch on Saturday, I couldn’t help but make a pit stop…for cupcakes!

bigman
Big Man Bakes

Big Man Bakes is a cupcake store I used to pass on some Sunday long runs when I lived near DTLA. I would sometimes run past it before turning right, back to Figueroa. This time however, I was walking straight towards it.

bigmanbakes__
Just FYI…

Once I got to the small storefront, I gazed into the display case of perfectly frosted cupcakes, and didn’t even know what to pay attention to first.

cupcakes_
Cupcakes and gear

The young lady behind the counter was eager to share a bit about Big Man Bakes, and some of their classic and seasonal flavors that were currently available. I was thinking I’d go for the Red Velvet or Oreo…

bmb
Utensils and things

…but in the end, I went with a seasonal flavor—strawberry!

cake
Ready to eat!

It was called an “XL” cupcake, but it really wasn’t that big. To me, it seemed like a standard-sized cupcake.

strawb
The Strawberry XL Cupcake

The cake itself was moist, but it didn’t stand out in regards to flavor. I was also hoping for a generous serving of cream filling on the inside, but sadly, that wasn’t the case.

At least it was pretty photogenic:

strabery
Views of a cupcake…

Are you picky when it comes to cupcakes?

Big Man Bakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spring is Here?

Spring is Here?

I don’t think I ever got the memo that Spring was coming fast this year. I literally woke up on Saturday morning wondering how on earth it was so bright at 6am all of a sudden??

I cam across this sticker on Friday, and while it was a truthful statement, I couldn't help but add that "we can get over them" when I snapchatted it to my sister and friends.
I cam across this sticker on Friday, and while it was a truthful statement, I couldn’t help but add that “we can get over them” when I snapchatted it to my sister and friends.

After getting my blood flowing with a morning run, I proceeded to make the most of my Saturday by showering, putting on a summer-worthy outfit (shorts + a breezy knit tee!), and heading out the door well before 9am. I had to make a stop in lab before heading out for the afternoon.

I had a desire to venture out into DTLA for once, since it’s been a while I had it as a set lunch destination. I ended up taking the train/subway to Pershing Square, a little east of 7th St/Metro, closer to old downtown.

Old DTLA
Old DTLA

A lot of the places I’ve bookmarked in my foodie bucket list were actually lined up along Main St….as if they all knew I’d arrive one day ready to embark on a culinary tour through downtown! My focus that day, however, was set on having lunch at Spread Mediterranean Kitchen.

spread__kitchen
Spread Mediterranean Kitchen

There was barely anyone inside when I arrived, and I was shocked. Inside, it was cool, calming, and the decor just brought about a very chill vibe.

interior
Inside Spread Mediterranean Kitchen.

The menu is very simple, and build-your-own style entrees take center-stage. The base can be a flatbread wrap, rice salad greens, or hummus with flatbread. I picked hummus with flatbread.

pickled__menu
Pickled things

To top your base, there is everything from falafel to meatballs to chicken to braise to mushrooms. I picked the roasted mushroom medley with garlic, herbs, and sumac.

hummus
Roasted mushroom medley with garlic, herbs, and sumac on top of hummus.

Finally, all of this is prepared in a certain style. There’s more of the hummus route, cooling tzatziki, cheesy za’atar, or spicy harissa yogurt. I went with the ‘cheesey & spicy’ style that contained feta lebneh & jalapeno spread, spicy slaw, pickled red onion, and harissa spiked yogurt.

This whole combination ended up with a plate like below:

yeah
Everything mixed together.

And of course, my flatbread came seasoned and freshly-folded in a printed paper sheet.

bread
Flatbread, yay!

The mushrooms were roasted in a dark, orange-colored oil that carried so much flavor. This mixed well with the hummus, refreshing dollop of lebneh, and crunchy slaw. The flatbread was just an accessory—if I still had half a plate of hummus left after eating all of the flatbread, I would have had no issue at all!

I had wiped the bowl clean in no time at all, and I would have spent more time mourning over how quickly I feasted on this scrumptious meal, but the gorgeous spring weather outside was beckoning me. I found myself again on Main St., with an interest in keeping this “foodie tour” going. My next stop was going to fulfill a “sudden” cupcake craving I had developed…

Were you expecting spring to come so soon this year?

Spread Mediterranean Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Roundabout Ways

Roundabout Ways

Two Sundays ago, I realized that if I plan to move out of the DTLA area by the end of the summer, I probably should devote more time to exploring my as-of-right-now urban backyard. One area in particular that I haven’t really spent much time exploring is the Arts District, besides the occasional visits to hidden-gem restaurants (I’m talkin’ about The Springs and Urth Caffe 😉 ).

It also doesn’t help that getting to the Arts District via public transit is a very roundabout process. I had to go all the way to Union Station, just to hop on the Gold Line to get to Little Tokyo, and walk a little southeast…Google Maps also gave me a couple other ideas, but all of them required at least one transfer even though the trip shouldn’t take THAT long.

Anyways, when I did get into the heart of the Arts District, I knew right away by the enveloping murals and vibrant paint colors on the buildings.

Art!
Art!

My destination was Café Gratitude, so even though I was among a variety of restaurants (many of which I have on my foodie bucket list and have yet to visit…) and shops, I still had a ten minute walk to get there.

Located on Santa Fe Ave and within the One Santa Fe apartments complex, Café Gratitude was disguised fairly well. But those lucky ones living in the One apartments…they had Café Gratitude at their disposal! Too bad the rent for a STUDIO ≈ my monthly paycheck.

Cafe Gratitude, DTLA
Cafe Gratitude, DTLA


At least Café Gratitude was open to the public, and this visit would be my fourth time visiting CG (my first was in Venice almost a year and a half ago…followed by Larchmont, and the happenchance meeting with the SD location that opened over the summer).

So fresh and clean inside.
So fresh and clean inside.

My eyes immediately went towards the “bowls” section. I guess I still has sushirito on the brain, because the Accepting bowl sounded quite appetizing.

Sounds good...
Sounds good…

My bowl came within minutes, and at first glance it seemed small but it was perfectly-sized for a late lunch. Underneath all those sea-based greens was “sprouted probiotic” brown rice, mixed with wasabi dressing, and greens like kale, avocado, cucumber, and other greens for flavor. Because the blackened tempeh cubes were obviously the best part of the meal, I was successful in saving them to savor for last.

So much goodness in here, I accept!
So much goodness in here, I accept!

I could have added kimchi to this already delightful bowl, but it would have cost another $4…how much kimchi did they plan on adding for that price??

Accepting!
Accepting!

I didn’t want to leave after eating only because it felt cold outside, and I had to make my roundabout trip back just to get home. At least the gold line train I hopped on to get back to Union Station was one of the new ones, as it still had that “fresh train” smell (is that even a thing?).

It would have been 100% clean if someone had NOT made a crumbly mess...
It would have been 100% clean if someone had NOT made a crumbly mess…

In addition to my nutrient-packed meal on Sunday, I enjoyed some weekend pints of course! On a grocery trip to Ralph’s over the weekend, I came across another B&J core that I have yet to try, and the last new-to-me flavor Arctic Zero from their recent new flavor release.

My sister gave me the heads-up review about this flavor, saying that it wasn’t her favorite, but she thought I would like it since the chocolate flavor was mild and the core was creamy and frosting-like. I took her word for it, and even though I didn’t want to gag after eating the chocolate side of the pint, I was not blown away. This flavor was mediocre, despite the cookie chunks and creamy core. Actually, the core was pretty disappointing. It didn’t seem to have any substance to me…just a bland insertion of what tasted like vanilla frosting. Boring.

No too outstanding...
No too outstanding…

The fruity Arctic Zero that I took home was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t think it would stand a chance to some of the sweeter flavors like Cake Batter or Sea Salt Caramel, but it held its own. I truly liked the mild tartness of this flavor, and I may have enjoyed this more if I had not eaten it that Sunday (since it was unusually cold on Sunday). Needless to say, I was shivering by the end of this pint!

Fruity and tart!
Fruity and tart!

What area (near where you live) do you wish you visited more often?

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

Race Recap – 31st Skechers Performance LA Marathon

Race Recap – 31st Skechers Performance LA Marathon

On February 14, 2016, I ran my second marathon.

Caught at the right moment
Caught at the right moment

It has been less than a year since I ran my first marathon, and SO many things have happened since then. Even with all that has transpired, I am grateful that I was even able to run this insane distance once again!

My day began at 3am on Valentine’s Day. Once I stuffed all of my race day essentials into my gear check bag, I was off with my carpool crew. After picking up a few more people, we drove off to Santa Monica to park the car and load the shuttle buses to Dodger’s Stadium.

As we sat on the bus, some of my marathon teammates came up with running pick-up lines since it was Valentine’s Day. One guy had us all laughing with “I may be running 26.2, but I want 26.YOU”. It was definitely a light-hearted ride to the the starting line that would otherwise be an anxiety-ridden one!

Everyone in front of me was all quiet and thinking to themselves...everyone behind me was all laughs!
Everyone in front of me was all quiet and thinking to themselves…everyone behind me was all laughs!

Once we got to Dodger’s Stadium, we had about a half an hour to check in our bags and ready ourselves. We didn’t have time for a all-member team pic, so I immediately got into my assigned corral.

After the wheelchair runners and elite women, the elite men and the rest of us were off! I was feeling anxious about my right foot, but once things got moving I didn’t feel much in terms of pain.

The course was pretty much identical to last year’s, and I was able to keep a 9:30-10:00 pace for the first several miles. I was carrying my handheld water bottle as well, so I didn’t feel the need to stop for water until after mile 6 or so.

It was relatively easy for me to zone out all the way through Chinatown, Downtown, Echo Park, Silverlake, Hollywood…all the way through Beverly Hills even! As expected, I felt myself slow down in pace as we reached Century City and Westwood. We thankfully did not have to climb that tortous hill near the VA like last year, but miles 22 and onward only made me feel slower and wishing I didn’t have 4.2 miles left.

I refueled with the same gummies and shot bloks as last year, but didn’t start chewing until ~mile 11-13. I went through all of my chewables by mile 22, hoping I would be able to snag a packet from a spectator like last year.

Unfortunately, no one was handing out unwrapped shot bloks past mile 22, but I found myself immensely hungry at mile 23! Two pieces of licorice happened to do the trick surprisingly.

Unlike the 90+F degree weather of last year, we were greeted with fog once we hit Brentwood. As we ran downhill on San Vicente, we could feel the cool, misty ocean as we approached the finish.

IMG_3499
Everyone looks so sad!

Making it to the finish line this year was not as grueling, but once I hit the stop button on my Garmin at 26.4 miles and slowed to a walk, I began to feel the achiness of my hip and foot tendons.

Just keep walking and standing...
Just keep walking and standing…

After grabbing some post-race snacks, a heat sheet, and my medal, I proceeded to the bag check trucks. Bag check was horribly organized this year, since I found all of the bags tossed on the ground.

IMG_3498
Dude, where’s my bag?

Honestly, anybody could have just grabbed a bag and left! There was also no organization such as alphabetizing the bags, so it took me a good fifteen minutes just to find my bag.

IMG_3501
No man! Don’t sit!

Once that was all done, I proceeded to find my teammates. Everyone who had completed the distance was sitting cross-legged with their heat sheets drapped over their shoulders, munching on mini Clif bars or animal crackers. I continued to stand because if I had sat, it would have been PAINFUL to get up!!

IMG_3500
Race patrol keeping the roads clear!

I was there for another hour and a half until everyone from my car was back. We hobbled back to the parking lot around 2pm, and got back into the city an hour later (just like last year).

IMG_3505
Someone got one of my teammates roses…oooooohooohooo

I actually had to go into lab that afternoon (!!) and so I took my sweet time with that. I normally stand for one particular experiment I have to do but on this day, I had to find a seat because my legs were begging me, haha!

I also reflected on my experience, my capabilities, and my newfound strength on Instagram, leaving this picture with a caption about how I ran this race in a much healthier state than probably any other race I have run before!

♥♥♥
♥♥♥

I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to go with this running thing, and getting faster is one of my top goals. My time was slower by six minutes this year, but that can be due to so many factors. I am just so incredibly grateful that I was even able to run this race, and I hope that there will be many more marathons in my future, reminding me that all is possible when you work with and trust your body.

IMG_3504
Two sides to THIS medal!!

Have you ever run a marathon? Would you want to?

Burger Close to Home

Burger Close to Home

After a relaxing Thanksgiving getaway, I thought I would have enough energy to take on the rest of December. But  a brain-draining proposal presentation got in the way of that, and so the first weekend of December was spent close to home since I was feeling so exhausted.

I was too exhausted to even plan out where to eat lunch on Saturday, which is odd for me, the girl who plans her free time around food 😛

At least there are still many places I haven’t visited in DTLA that are worth the trip. Cabbage Patch happened to be one of them!

 Cabbage Patch, DTLA
Cabbage Patch, DTLA

The front of the restaurant looks like what you’d expect for a cafe, but inside it was massive in space and size. There were two stories, but it looked like only the first floor was open for seating.

 Menu
Menu

There was a large menu near the front of the restaurant, and I had a hard time choosing at first. Should I go for yet another falafel-based dish, or something else even if I wasn’t truly craving it?

In the end, I decided to change things up and get a veggie burger with peanut slaw…which also happened to be 20% off based on one of the promotions going on!

 This BURGER. and THE SLAW.
This BURGER. and THE SLAW.

The burger came out with avocado, greens, tomato, a single slice of melted cheese on top of a beans-and-rice-based patty, all of which was closed tight between oiled brioche buns. Ketchup and mayo were portioned out into tin cups, and the slaw was heavenly—mixed with spices, peanut dressing, and actual peanuts.

I may have eaten the burger in an unorthodox way (fork!), but it was the best way to mix slaw, patty, and bread. Actually, leaving the bread for last to mop up the condiments is the way to go.

Sunday ended up being a physically exhausting day, and even though I had this Combat Crunch cookies and cream bar prior to my marathon team’s 16 mile long run, it wasn’t enough to combat the soreness I felt during the entire run.

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Not my favorite flavor. Tasted grainy, too much like a generic protein bar, and leaves a sour aftertaste…

I could almost go as far to say that this run was probably my worst…I just felt like a jiggly bag of bundled nerves and every 0.1 mile felt like it was much longer.

Needless to say, I’m glad it was over, and even worked up an appetite to grab two Lenny & Larry’s cookies after finishing the run, and before heading into lab for a bit.

 White Chocolate Macadamia & Peanut Butter
White Chocolate Macadamia & Peanut Butter

I’ve actually had both of these flavors a couple times already, and they tend to be my go-to choices! I love how simple they are in texture, yet are both true to their respective flavors. Even though they’re packed in protein, they’re chewy and easy to digest…perfect for the tender piece of meat I felt like after the grueling run I put myself through 😛

Cabbage Patch Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

In the Weekend Before Thanksgiving

In the Weekend Before Thanksgiving

After my weekend in Las Vegas and running one of my best half marathons to-date, I was not surprised by the fact I felt extremely exhausted. I tried to run my usual weekday runs, but each run left me feeling sore and fatigued. It was then that I decided that a full week off from running was just what I needed, and scheduling it to coincide with Thanksgiving week didn’t sound like such a bad idea!

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I tried to keep things easy and stayed close to DTLA that Saturday. I ventured out to LA Cafe in the east side of downtown.

LA Cafe (1)
LA Cafe

Like many downtown eateries, the space was small, and the only seating was outside. There was so much bread decorating the walls!

LA Cafe (2)
Loads of bread, lolz

Lots of to-go items were close by as well, but I felt like sitting down and nourishing my sore muscles with a hearty entree of some sort.

LA Cafe (3)
Stuff to-go? Nah…

Of course, I chose to get their version of a falafel plate, and found a table outside.

LA Cafe (4)
Sitting at the table outside.

The sun was out and the sky was as bright as ever. It was too beautiful to be a day in November…

LA Cafe (5)
People enjoying the weather and food!

My plate was just as beautiful, stacked high with falafel, hummus, pita chips, pita bread, tahini, and feta crumbles.

LA Cafe (6)
Seems like I have falafel once a week nowadays…

The falafel was the best part, and green on the inside. I have a theory that green falafel >>> brown falafel…at least based on my countless encounters with falafel 😛

LA Cafe (9)
Close-up of a fantastic plate!

Later on in the week, before Wednesday night and the start of Thanksgiving festivities, I treated myself to two new-to-me snacks.

I tried Lenny & Larry’s cookies for the first time, and they have been taking place of my weekly Quest bar purchases. Chocolate chip is such a classic flavor, and while I like how filling these cookies are, this flavor was too chunky for my liking. Maybe I would have appreciated them more if I had microwaved them?

lenny & larry's chocolate chip (1)
Lenny & Larry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie!!

I also decided it was time to try the B&J flavor Everything But The…

everything but the.. (1)
Surprisingly liked this one!

I was hesitant to try it at first because I thought it would be like the disappointing New York Super Fudge Chunk, but I surprisingly found it to be a pint full of creamy deliciousness! There was a fair mix of PB cups, toffee pieces, almonds, and my favorite rectangular white chocolate chunks 🙂

By the time Wednesday rolled around, I was getting used to the whole “rest and relaxation” thing. My sister had arrived, and we were ready to have a fun few days away in the OC together—more on that in the posts to follow 😉 !

L.A. Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vegan on the Hill

Vegan on the Hill

There is a DTLA route that I like to run that includes a very steep hill, and I first came across it on a group run with my marathon training team last year. I felt like my heart was going to burst the first time I “ran” it, but since that run, I can’t help but include that hill whenever I run DTLA.

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If you make it to the top of the hill, there is both a feast for your eyes (Walt Disney Concert Hall) and a feast for your hungry, runner belly. There is a tiny strip mall right across from WDCH, and it includes the elegant Âu Lac Restaurant, specializing in plant-based cuisine.

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It has such a humble storefront, but inside, the vibe is so trendy.

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The hostess allowed me to sit anywhere, and immediately brought over an classy water pitcher, which apparently held water purified by reverse osmosis.

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I had to take my time with this menu since everything sounded so good. I chose to have the Sweet & Spicy Tempeh, which was described as a veggie dish with potato and tempeh, all covered with sweet chilli sauce and decorated with melinjo crackers. Melinjo what though?

I would soon learn that melinjo crackers are to die for. My plate took a while to arrive, but when it was all ready, my mouth was watering.

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The hostess even came by and suggested that I use the crackers to “scoop” the veggies into, kind of like those Tostitos scoops chips!

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I used the chips to scoop up the veggies as she suggested, but I savored the tempeh pieces individually, since they deserved my full attention 😛

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It took me a while to finish since I was using chopsticks, but knowing that my dish was one of the spicier ones on their menu, the hostess came by with a glass of blueberry kombucha (on the house!!) to aid with the digestion process. Could this place be anymore amazing?

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After many long runs on that DTLA hill, I finally took the time to stop up at the top, and enjoy what was available there. Maybe next time I’ll step inside WDCH, or even The Broad which just opened up!

Are you a fan of running hills?

Have you tried kombucha?

Âu Lac Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday Night Pizza!

Friday Night Pizza!

Last Friday, I was bit by the social bug yet again! Instead of a thrilling blogger meet-up though, I ended up going out for some gourmet pizza with some marathon teammates. 

But before stuffing my face with all the pizza (you could say quite literally, after seeing the pics!), I stuffed my face with two, new-to-me bars. I ended up paying bookstore prices for these bars (in other words, much more than what I would pay at GNC) by Oh Yeah!

I was finally able to try two of their new “One” bars—Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cookies & Creme. 

Oh Yeah! One - Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Oh Yeah! One – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

I like how the bars are fully coated, but since I have become used to associating cookie dough-flavored protein bars to actually looking like molded cookie dough, I was thrown off by the chocolate coating at first. 

Oh Yeah! One - Cookies & Creme
Oh Yeah! One – Cookies & Creme

I grew to like the bar as I continued eating. Cookies & Creme on the other hand, could have tasted so much better. Nice try though Oh Yeah! folks? 

Fridays tend to be slow days in lab since everyone is exhausted by the end of the week/anxious to find an excuse to leave early, but I held on until ~6pm, when I headed out to meet my running mates for our pizza dinner! Apparently we had 20 people RSVP, but including me, there was only six of us total! Bring on the pizza now!!

racing_for_pizza
Racing for pizza.

We carpooled to DTLA, and reserved the top floor of Pitfire Pizza…

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Inside Pitfire Pizza

…even though we really didn’t need that much space after all…

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All this space…what to do??

To start of the meal, we were given full-size pitchers of lemonade, coke, water, and tea. Among the six of us, we literally could have sipped out of our own personal pitcher if we really wanted, haha.

 Want a pitcher?
Want a pitcher?

Before there was pizza, we helped ourselves to plentiful servings of salad. It was hard to resist having more than one plate because the salad was actually pretty good—dressing, onions, shaved parmesan, and all!

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Salad.

We were also able to cut down the order from the original EIGHT pizzas to just four, which included two vegetarian and two meat-eater pizzas. They took a while to make it up the stairs to our “knight’s table”, but when they did arrive, we dove right at them as if we had just finished a Sunday long run 😛

PIZZA.
That pizza tho.

The veggie-friendly pizzas included a simple marinara & mozzarella pizza which was mostly sauce. I ended up having more slices of this pizza because it was right next to me, easy to pull apart, and simply delicious. The second veggie-friendly pizza was covered in greens, but underneath it all was swirls of creamy red and white sauces. It was definitely the more “gourmet” of the two.

After stuffing ourselves silly (we demolished the food pretty well for six people!!), we thought it would be great to finish off our carb-o-licious Friday night with a cookies-and-ice-cream dessert. We split chocolate chip cookie ice cream sundaes with chocolate or caramel sauce with the person across from us.

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Spoons ready!

I ended up sharing one of the chocolate sauce sundaes 🙂

Our dinner ended around 9pm, and I was more than ready to go to sleep! We had an exhilarating time getting home (driving home clown-car-style, trying to avoid any tickets!!), but we certainly made it home safely. Even though I was content enough to fall into a deep sleep, I was also content with the fact that I would have plenty of energy for my next day’s impromptu 10k race!

What’s your favorite Friday night pizza stop?

Pitfire Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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