Fried Stuff and Guacamole

Fried Stuff and Guacamole

As the sun began to set on Friday night the weekend I was spending with my sister, we drove out to River Park for dinner.

yh_front
Yard House front

Instead of finding some local place that serves food unique to Fresno, we decided to have our Friday girls night dinner at Yard House. Even though they are a chain, bar-and-burgers kind of place, they have a special vegetarian menu with all sorts of tasty items made with Gardein soy protein.

We had to wait almost an hour for a table, so we took our buzzer back to my sister’s car, and even called up our friend and talked to her while we waited.

light
Super dim lighting

When we came back to the restaurant, we were guided to a long booth, with a small candle placed at the opposite end. The extraneous space felt awkward, but not as awkward as trying to take pictures of the restaurant in the dark.

inside
Yard House interior

But I got a picture of this painting in full light?

painting
Yard House painting

Both of us got an appetizer plate as our entree, since the Gardein-based dippers sounded delicious. The pictures don’t do much justice, but the plates were FULL. I ordered the Jerk Gardein Dippers, which had a flavorful, crisp texture to them and came with a sweet and tangy sauce for dipping.

jerk
Jerk Gardein Dippers

My sister got the BBQ Gardein Skewers, which reminded me of orange tofu (or what would be orange chicken for all you non-veggies).

bbq
BBQ Gardein Skewers

To be honest, the Jerk Gardein dish, while it was delicious, got mediocre after awhile. I wasn’t too hungry when I first started eating, but I managed to finish the whole plate.

For lunch on Saturday, we drove back down to the Tower District to have tamales at the perfectly-named Casa de Tamales.

cdt_front
Casa de Tamales

They had four different vegetarian options for tamales, but my sister wasn’t keen on ordering tamales. To her pleasant surprise, the girl behind the counter was able to customize some tacos so that they had all the veggie fix-ins, even though this wasn’t on the menu.

counter
Counter for ordering

I kept it simple and ordered a tamale plate—with portabello & asparagus tamales, rice, and beans all in one plate.

inside_cdt
Casa de Tamales interior

Since it was nice and sunny outside, we were able to sit on the patio.

veg_tac
Custom vegetarian tacos

My sister adored her tacos, and I loved my tamales plate.

IMG_3579
Portabello and Asparagus Tamales with rice and beans.

It had the perfect balance of tamales, rice, and beans. I had the rice and beans together first, before digging into the tamales.

gua
Guacamole and inside of tamales.

What I loved about the tamales most was right on the outside: a fresh dollop of green guacamole. The inside was piping hot, and chock-full of mushroom pieces. For a lunch, it was the perfect portion, well-balanced, and kept me satiated for pretty much the rest of the day. I was still feeling somewhat full by dinnertime, but I did have enough room for that outing…

What was the most creative filling you’ve had inside a tamale?

Yard House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christmas and Chimera

Christmas and Chimera

My family and I spent a busy Christmas Eve shopping (yes, but at least I got my sister exactly what she wanted 😉 ), and cooking dishes for a dinner we were attending that evening at a friends house. The dinner was a success, but we got home pretty late and all of us wanted to go to sleep right away. That meant gift-opening would be postponed until Christmas morning…which is the norm for lots of folks, but we got into the habit of having our gift exchange on Christmas Eve, so it was a little change for us 😀

On Christmas morning, I felt like having some Talenti, and so that’s exactly what I did.

talenti_christmasday
Talenti Gelato – Caramel Apple Pie

Since we didn’t have any dessert for after our Christmas dinner, it was fitting that this flavor of Talenti was Caramel Apple Pie. It had chunks of dried apples and gobs of cinnamon swirl! I didn’t eat this whole pint for breakfast, thinking my sis would wake up and want to try some, but I did finish it off later in the day when she expressed her disinterest in this flavor. Oh well, more for me!

Our dinner spread was just enough for all of us, and was pretty much like our past Thanksgiving meals. Our Tofurky ball with rice stuffing was the star of course, and it was what I helped myself to the most…and the roasted brussels sprouts.

thanksgiving_dinner
Christmas Dinner

The next day, the weather took a sharp turn. It had been sunny (if not warm) for the first few days of my visit, but by Saturday, it was pouring. We had to make a quick dash inside to our late lunch destination in order to avoid getting drenched.

chimerafront
Chimera Cafe, Brady Arts District

Once we were inside, we picked up some menus, and tried to decide what vegan dishes sounded appetizing in this Tulsa establishment that reminded me of a West Coast coffee shop.

chimeraa
Chimera sweets and decor.

After making our orders at the front, we found some seats by the window and chatted while we waited for our food.

chimera
Sitting by the window, and admiring the rain.

My plate was the Daydream Nation, a hearty plate filled to the brim with greens, tofu, avocado, adzuki bean strips, vegan cream cashew sauce, roasted potatoes, and other fun vegan delights I can’t particularly remember. The bean strips were my favorite though!

daydreamnation
Daydream Nation 🙂

My sister happened to be craving a vegan caesar salad this entire time, so when she saw it on the menu, she chose to get it right away. Her bowl was more crouton than salad, but she enjoyed her bowl. My Dad got the tofu scramble plate, which featured all of the fixins of my plate, plus a side of toast that came with jam.

salad_breakfastscramble
Vegan Caesar Salad & Tofu Scramble

Our rainy day lunch kept us warm and nourished as we drove home in the rain. The downpour got even worse, and the roads we drove on to get back home were starting to get muddy and flooded. That meant only one thing: changing into pajamas and wearing some cozy bunny slippers.

slippers_and_rain
Cozy in my slippers on this rainy day!

My sis and I also tried another cookie dough cafe flavor, which was ‘Monster’. It was a chunky flavor mixed with M&Ms, peanut butter, and oats. It wasn’t our favorite, especially when compared to the cookies and cream flavor, but it was something worth snacking on as we passed the rest of the rainy day away.

cookiedough_monster
MONSTER Cookie Dough

Do you miss the holidays now that it’s 2016??

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

Pre-Christmas Bagels

Pre-Christmas Bagels

During my visit to Tulsa, my Dad insisted we pay a visit to his favorite bagel place. By the end of the trip, we had eaten there three times—two of which were in the same day!

We stopped at Old School Bagel Cafe after spending an hour at the gym, for a late breakfast.

old_school_bagel_cafe
Old School Bagel Cafe

My Dad and I split a savory and sweet bagel. For our savory bagel, my Dad insisted that I try his go-to combo: a jalapeno bagel with melted cheese and egg. Sounds delicious, right? For our sweet bagel, we opted for a cinnamon raisin bagel with melted Nutella spread.

The cafe was warm, cozy, and obviously a popular spot with the crowds all around. We had a hard time finding some place to sit, but we found a small table to enjoy our bagels at soon enough.

oldskool
Inside of Old School Bagel Cafe

My Dad was absolutely right—the jalapeno bagel with egg and melted cheese was absolute perfection. It had a mild spicy flavor, and it hit the spot!

jalapenobagel_cheese_egg
Jalapeno bagel with melted cheese & egg 🙂 !!

The cinnamon raisin bagel was toasted just enough to make the minimal-coat of Nutella melt to the point that it looked like there was more of it than there really was!

cinnamonraisin_nutellabagel
Nutella in a Cinnamon Raisin Bagel!

After breakfast, we picked up my sister and we all ran some errands for the rest of the morning/early afternoon. We had plans to see a play later that afternoon, and it got to the point that our stomachs were rumbling for lunch.

Off to Old School we went…my sis hadn’t experienced their bagel finesse yet, so we had to fix that! 😉

This time around, I decided to get a salad + sandwich plate instead of a bagel. It might have not been the best choice however…

For my salad, I got the Asian salad with orange slices and almonds thrown in (and chicken taken out), my sandwich was the veggie on sourdough, with cheese, avocado, and fig jam. The fig jam was a unique add-in, but perhaps another bagel would have been more satisfying?

saladandsandwich
Veggie sandwich with asian salad.

After this lunch, we saw Beauty and the Beast in downtown. Later that evening, we caught up with an old family friend and dined out at Olive Garden. This bread-ful day was a great way to begin pre-Christmas festivites, since in the days that followed, home-cooked meals and meeting more family friends took precedence.

Have you visited a restaurant more than once in the same day?

Old School Bagel Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Night Out with the Fam

Night Out with the Fam

Over the summer, my family made the move back to Oklahoma, leaving our Nor Cal abode behind. Even though Nor Cal was where I did most of my growing up—elementary through undergrad—my baby/early childhood all took place in the middle of the country…the humble heartland.

It was so nice being able to spend a week full of laughter, company, and of course great food, with my family and our close friends. Yeah, I felt like I had to leave too soon (#responsiblegradstudent), and even though I wasn’t able to spend NYE with them, I’m grateful I was able to spend the most important part of the holiday season with them.

I arrived on Monday evening, and after getting picked up at the airport by my Dad, I was introduced to our new home and had a home-cooked curry stir-fry for dinner. I caught up with my sister since last seeing her during our Thanksgiving break.

On Tuesday, I went for a 6 mile run, and ran some errands with my Dad. For dinner, we ate out as a family at something we all were able to agree upon—Mediterranean food!

leenas_mediterraneangrill
Leena’s Mediterranean Grill 🙂

The layout was similar to a place my sister and I ate at back in September.

menu
Menu

At the counter, there is a large menu on the wall, and everything starts out with a variety of hummus. 

hummusbar___
Starts out with the hummus bar.

When you order the veggie plate, you can pile on the plate with anything offered down the line. Start with hummus/babaganoush, add some of the salads, and then rice/grains or pita bread. By the time I reached the cash register, my plate was packed with babaganoush, spicy harissa hummus, fattoush salad, cabbage slaw, tabouli, italian squash, and roasted veggies…with falafel + tahini and pita on the side. 

One note about the pita though…they forgot to give it to us, and by the time we reminded them the second time, we were practically finished with our plates…meaning, what was there to dip the pita in? And the falafel was less than stellar. Even though it has a nice crisp texture, the inside was chewy, dry, and NOT green. When a falafel isn’t green on the inside, I doubt it’s gonna be a good one 😛 !

veggie__plate
Veggie plate with falafel and pita bread.

But I suppose the plate itself was good enough!

close-up
Veggie plate goodness!

After dinner, we drove by the Rhema Christmas Lights: a grand display of holiday lights that people from all over Oklahoma make the trip to see. We were too lazy to get out of the car, but we enjoyed what we were able to see from the car. 

rhemalights
Rhema Christmas Lights

When we finally got home, I introduced my sister to the beauty that is edible cookie dough, and we tore into the cookies and cream flavor that I found at a local grocery store while running errands earlier in the day.

thecookiedoughcafe_cookies&cream
Coming home to cookie dough!

The cookies were perfectly swirled into the cookie dough, and meshed with the dough quite well. This made up for the overwhelming, chunky chocolate chip flavor I had a few days earlier, and hopefully the other flavors left to try will be just as good 😉 . But when I think about it, this flavor may have tasted 10x as good only because I was sharing it with family, haha.

Leena's Mediterranean Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gelato in a Cup

Gelato in a Cup

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

1
Amorino storefront.

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

2
Flower gelato!

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

3
Inside.
5
Lines on a Saturday.

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

4
THE GELATO. And ice cream macaroons!

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

7
My precious cup. And I love the baby cone it came with 🙂

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

6
Elegant wall decor & logo napkins.

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

8
There’s some flavor peeking through!

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

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

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

9
Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch

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

10
Such a nice swirl—and cookie pieces!!

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

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

Beverliz in Beverly

Beverliz in Beverly

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

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

 Beverliz Cafe
Beverliz Cafe

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

 Inside the cafe!
Inside the cafe!

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

 Menu
Menu

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the 7 Days Before 26.2

In the 7 Days Before 26.2

After running my fastest 8 miler to date (and gaining new 5k and 10k PRs in the process!), I had a lot of my morning left since my run with the team was close to home, and time wasn’t wasted with managing a carpool.

I was able to get on the bus around 11am, and make it to my destination for lunch around noon. Seeing that I already paid Café Gratitude in Venice a visit some time ago, I thought it would be fun to stop by the Larchmont location…and grab some dessert from one of the nearby bakery/shops in Larchmont itself 😉 !

cafegratitude_larchmont (1)

It was beautiful and sunny outside, but I opted for a table inside. At least I got to sit by the window though.

inside

The bar was packed with people, but I was there long enough for the groups to leave.

bar

I was also near the baked goods case which I eyed from time-to-time, but I knew dessert plans were going to take place elsewhere!

baked__goods

My waitress was a sweet woman with glasses, and after taking my order, left me with the question of the day: who can you acknowledge? I could have spent my time waiting for my food to ponder this question, but I was starting to feel hungrier as time passed, and obviously this was my excuse for losing concentration 😛

But eventually, this beaut of a sandwich did arrive at my table:

 Extraordinary house BLT – grilled panini bread, coconut bacon, romaine, tomato, avocado, chipotle cashew aioli, and a side of spicy coleslaw.
Extraordinary house BLT – grilled panini bread, coconut bacon, romaine, tomato, avocado, chipotle cashew aioli, and a side of spicy coleslaw.

I ate this sandwich with a fork, layer by layer. My favorite “layer” was the slice of bread topped with coconut bacon/cashew aioli filling, only coming second to the fat slices of avocado! In reality, I actually ate the side coleslaw first, but then realized it would have been great within the sandwich. Oh well, I have no regrets.

Extraordinary house BLT cocobacon closeup

For dessert, I walked back down to Beverly Blvd. while staying on Larchmont. LA’s BabyCakes NYC location was nestled right in the heart of Larchmont Village, and things were swingin’ this Sunday afternoon.

erinmckenna's

The bake shop itself is very small, and after looking at their offerings, I was somewhat disappointed with how small there desserts were. I was thinking I would be greeted by gargantuan cupcakes like seen in the Crumbs next door, but that was not the case. There were some unique items though like cupcake tops (just the top part of the cupcake with ice cream) and sweet bread/cake loaves.

babycakes

I took a while to decide, but eventually chose to get a donut and keep with my coconut theme for the day. Despite being housed in a small space, there were still some areas to sit down and munch on any sweet goods you bought.

SAMSUNG

I found a seat by the front window, and managed to make every bite count of this small donut.

coconutdonut

Even though Babycakes NYC didn’t meet up to my fullest expectations (and I was almost tempted to leave and buy a giant Crumbs cupcake, but decided against it so I could “try something new”), I do like the fact that they offer a wide selection of sweet treats for customers with intolerances and dietary restrictions. I even saw the employee at the counter offer some potential customers samples since, like me, they were overwhelmed with the choices and couldn’t make a firm decision on what to order!

And to end on a positive note, how can you go wrong with coconut?

Cafe Gratitude on Urbanspoon BabyCakes NYC on Urbanspoon

After 20 Miles

After 20 Miles

I knew from the instant my Garmin reported I had hit the 20 mile mark during my long run on Sunday that it was time to celebrate! The two guys I had carpooled with had just finished by the time I arrived, and since the driver of the two had to leave immediately, I would say it was pretty good timing 😉

I had just enough time to grab two Nature Valley bars from my team’s food stash to tide me over until I got back to my apartment. I put on the easiest thing to wear after an intense workout (what dresses are made for 🙂 !), and made my north up to Echo Park once again.

 Finding myself in Echo Park again, for another vegan place...
Finding myself in Echo Park again, for another vegan place…

Only to try out a vegan gastropub by the name of Mohawk Bend.

Mohawk Bend in the distance

Even though it was all sunshine and clear skies outside, I wanted to sit inside and take in the environment around me—poor lighting and all.

interior-mohawk

In addition to the outdoor seating near the entrance, there were tables and booths immediately following, bar seating, and then outside/patio-style seating near the back of the restaurant.

Since it was just me, myself, and I, the waitress took me to an open booth seat and handed me the one-page brunch menu, and my eyes immediately moved towards the pizza offerings.

pizzamenu

One cool thing about this place was how the side note that “all menu items are vegan unless marked (NV)” was positioned at the very top of the menu. The note also went on to add that they took the necessary steps to prepare vegan and non-vegan menu items in separate areas! When a place puts that much care into food preparation—in favor of the veggie-eater—you know they’re a keeper 😉

After quizzing my waitress about the size of the pizza and the kind of the crust it was made with (though I don’t think her answers would have altered my 99.9% probability I was going to get a pizza), I ordered the Able Farmin’—topped with roasted pepper, fennel, cashew cheese, and vegan sausage.

Able Farmin' Pizza

The pizza, despite the waitress saying it was a little larger than a “personal” pizza and made with a medium-thickness crust, actually fit the description of a personal-sized pizza, and I would say the crust was on the thinner side more than anything else. I also wish they had given me utensils, because the toppings were literally falling off each slice and landing on the pizza board!

Able Farmin'

I had the patience to take one last picture of what remained of my pizza before finally chomping it away…

Able Farmin' Slice

It took a while for me to get my check (just like last week!), and after paying, I used the restroom upstairs before heading out for dessert! The restrooms were nice—wood all-around!

bathroom stall

My next stop was Whipp’d LA—a small frozen treats shop selling ice cream, low-carb yogurt, and the Dole Whips they are specifically known for! I remember having a Dole Whip with my friends in Disneyland a few years back, but was craving for it again as of late…

Was it worth the extra hour of riding public transport all the way to West Hollywood? I think so…

worthit

It was a small space, but even though I thought I would get a Dole Whip in some fruity flavor, I ended up choosing the ‘white chocolate mousse’ Carbolite froyo, because chocolate (obviously) overrules 😛

interiorr

At least I got toppings, and only the best: mocha pieces, carob chips, and white yogurt chips.

SAMSUNG

I enjoyed my small frozen treat inside, and was a genuine fan of the white chocolate flavor. It didn’t have an icy/sno-cone taste, and even though it’s supposed to be a froyo, it truly tasted like a creamy cup of ice cream!

I will definitely be paying Whipp’d OC a visit someday, and maybe then I’ll try the Dole Whip 😉

Mohawk Bend on Urbanspoon Whipp'd LA on Urbanspoon

Passion Over Profit

Passion Over Profit

Last Wednesday was my busiest weekday last week, but even so, I still was able to spend some time with my Dad before his flight back home. My afternoon class lets us out an hour earlier compared to the afternoon class from my first semester, so we were able to spend a few, unrushed hours together for dinner.

I passed Silver Lake a few times when riding on one of the city buses during winter break, but it was my first time walking in the neighborhood.

SAMSUNG

The area certainly had a ‘hipster‘ vibe, and we thought it would be interesting to visit a nearby supply store before heading to the restaurant nearby. The shop mostly had survival/camping/military-type goods, but there were some highlights…like the hanging camouflage suit!

supplystore
A LOL moment!

The restaurant, Flore Vegan Cuisine, was on the same street so we walked on over and found a place to sit inside the small establishment.

SAMSUNG
The seating options outside were not that bad either!

We were seated in a booth near the wall and the bakery display—which housed delectable-looking cakes and cupcakes to one side, and produce supply on the other 😛

inside_flore_vegan

It looks like it was voted “Best Restaurant” by LA Weekly back in ’12…

SAMSUNG

There were so many choices, but I chose to get the Verde Bowl and my Dad got the Southwestern Quesadillas. We also asked for the beet salad as our deli side. While our food was being prepped, my Dad and I ended up having a conversation about how the people behind the small business operations (such as the many vegan restaurants in LA)  must really be in the business out of passion more so than profit. After roughly calculating the costs it takes to keep such a small, niche business open, we were amazed by how there are so many restaurants and cafes out there, but we were not surprised that many of them don’t keep their doors open for long…actually, I found out the other day that a restaurant I visited upon first moving to LA  had closed—and it happened just like that! 

Well, hopefully Flore has a brighter future, because the Verde Bowl I had was not only filling, but delicious with every bite! The unusual ingredients and varying textures made this plate (it wasn’t really a bowl…) stand out: 

SAMSUNG
Verde Bowl ~ A wheat-free and gluten-free bowl with brown rice mixed in salsa verde sauce, nut ricotta, kimchi, fennel and radish sprout

I also made sure to try a slice of the quesadilla, and I immediately became a fan.

SAMSUNG
Southwestern Seitan Quesadilla ~ whole wheat quesadilla of cashew cheese, seasoned seitan, tomato and shredded lettuce served with cilantro cream pico de gallo and daikon sprouts

The beets salad on the side was a flavorful addition:

SAMSUNG

My Dad and I were both pleased with our dinners, and made sure to tip well (especially after having our restaurant business conversation)! After being dropped off back at my apartment, the rest of the week was spent being a homebody with the exception of school/running errands. I wanted to keep my energy stored for the 16 miler I had to run that Sunday, and for being able to accomplish the first-time feat, I treated myself to a late afternoon lunch at Sage Organic in Echo Park.

Compared to its sister location in Culver City, the Echo Park location was tiny, and I only recognized it from the street corner because of the joint KindKreme business it operates. I’m not sure if a stranger to Sage would have been able to spot it so easily…

SAMSUNG

I had to ask a staff member if I had to seat myself or wait to be seated. When I informed him that it was just me dining, he motioned towards a table in the center of the restaurant, where I sipped on some water while looking over the brunch menu.

inside_sage_echo

Even though I was craving jackfruit nachos, I found the gluten-free biscuits and gravy with walnut sausage to be eye-catching, and ordered that with confidence. What I got was an artfully-crafted, veganized version of the classic, homestyle dish:

SAMSUNG

There were six tiny biscuits surrounding a mound of walnut sausage, all of which was swimming in a pool of gravy. What could possibly not taste good 😉 ?

walnutsausageandbabybiscuit

I would have stayed in Echo Park for longer, but my legs pleaded me to just head back home, cozy up on the couch, and mindlessly watch the SAG awards. I think this will pretty much describe the rest of my Sundays until the marathon is over, haha!

Have you ever thought about opening a restaurant?

Flore Vegan Cuisine on Urbanspoon Sage Organic Vegan on Urbanspoon

Crash & Indulge

Crash & Indulge

I made sure to spend the weekend after my last set of exams for the semester the way I wanted to, and I believe my expected plans meshed with how things really turned out most perfectly.

After running 5 miles in my new running shoes on Saturday, I took the bus to La Brea to drop off my old pair of Brooks before heading down Melrose towards the direction of the third Real Food Daily I had yet to visit. My first visit in Pasadena was so enjoyable that I literally forced my Dad and sis to try the Santa Monica location with me when they were here back in October. I fell in love with the almond “tuna” during that second visit, and immediately had a craving for it when I was studying for my final set of exams.

SAMSUNG
Real Food Daily in West Hollywood.

The set-up was similar to that of Pasadena’s (they seriously need to make a bigger sign though—that small rectangle is easy to miss!), with an outdoor seating area and the cashwrap close to the entrance. I could tell it was a busy Saturday afternoon, and I was given a seat at a corner booth.

rfd - weho

It was at this time I had my first unintentional celebrity sighting! I recognized the face of Sara Gilbert, but it took me a while to match up the name to her face. I also do not get starstruck very easily, so I didn’t do anything awkward like ask for an autograph or “ask her to take a selfie with me” like my Dad suggested via text 😛

SAMSUNG

I went ahead and ordered The Great Cardini salad, and when the waiter asked if I wanted blackened seitan, I made my move and requested the almond “tuna” instead. The request was accepted, and I excitedly waited for my dream bowl to arrive.

The Great Cardini with almond "tuna" instead of seitan. Also:  tuscan kale, romaine, garbanzo beans, red quinoa, roasted yam croutons, creamy almond shallot dressing, spiced pumpkin seeds, macadamia parmesan, avocado.
The Great Cardini with almond “tuna” instead of seitan. Also: tuscan kale, romaine, garbanzo beans, red quinoa, roasted yam croutons, creamy almond shallot dressing, spiced pumpkin seeds, macadamia parmesan, avocado.

Perfection, no? And the almond “tuna”, just for kicks:

SAMSUNG

Even though it was “just a salad”, I felt quite full, and wasn’t sure if I would have room for the dessert I planned to have that day. I decided that I would wait a couple hours and gauge my fullness then. In the meantime, I killed time by checking out the Beverly Connection a couple blocks down. I figured it would be a good time to also do some holiday gift shopping!

 Nothing appealing on the racks at Nordstrom Rack. Trying to figure out if my Dad would wear these sunglasses!
Nothing appealing on the racks at Nordstrom Rack. Trying to figure out if my Dad would wear these sunglasses!

I did get carried away with the shopping, but at least I was able to find something for one of my good friends before heading towards Beverly Hills. It was starting to get chillier around 4pm, and I wondered if I should keep on trekking. It was originally sunny enough for shorts, but I started to doubt my outfit choice for the day…

I did trek on though, and enjoyed the sights around me on my quiet walk to the Hills.

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

Once the shops started getting fancier, I knew I was in the right location to try and spot…Ice Cream Lab!

SAMSUNG

Again, it was in an easy-to-miss location, and I probably would have kept walking by it if I had not glanced up for a minute.

icecreamlabbevhills

The inside of the shop was small, with the left side designated for seating and conversation, and the right where the ice cream was ordered and made. The ice cream is made using liquid nitrogen, and so everything is frozen on the spot!

SAMSUNG

For my ice cream flavor, I chose to go with one of their rotating flavors—the Beary Cinnful Horchata. I don’t think I’ve ever had a real horchata, but ice cream with cinnamon teddy bear graham crackers, cinnamon sugar, and cinnamon powder topping did sound warm and toasty—even though the resulting product would be freezing cold!

mixers

I had my ice cream in a medium cup (their medium is a small for some interesting reason), and I found it to be thick and flavorful, with chunks of cinnamon evenly mixed in. I snacked on this while walking over to the bus stop, and got frequent stares from people who were wondering why this girl in shorts was having ice cream when it was obviously getting colder outside? Or maybe they were thinking, “where can I get myself some liquid nitrogen ice cream?!”

SAMSUNG
My Beary Cinnful Horchata.

Despite shivering at the bus stop as the sun was setting, I enjoyed my small cup of warmth (at least in flavor…)

Just as Saturday’s plans for fun rolled out with ease, Sunday stepped up to the “friendly challenge” as well. We had our last team long run for the semester, and had a run through downtown LA short of 10 miles. I then was able to make plans with one of my teammates to meet up for lunch in Culver City. Sage Vegan Bistro was our meeting point:

sage_culvercity

The entrance was confusing, since the only way to enter was through the gorgeous and green outdoor patio area:

sageorganic

I finally met up with my friend, and we were given a table inside. 

inside

Everything on the menu sounded delicious—I’m surprised we were both able to agree on an appetizer and entree to share. I definitely wanted our entree to be a pizza, since they are only available at the Culver City location. While waiting for our rolls and pizza, we chatted about running and other things…but mostly running 😀

Soon, it was time to dig into the TexMex Chimichanga Egg Rolls and BLTA Pizza:

TexMex Chimichanga Egg Rolls and BLTA Pizza
Rolls –  mixed bell pepper, onion, black beans, cilantro, corn and daiya cheese served with mango chutney sauce // Pizza – pizza crust with tempeh bacon, follow your heart™ mozzarella, hemp seed pesto and piled with chopped romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, avocado, and finished with housemade ranch

My favorite part of the rolls were their extra crispiness. But the mango chutney sauce? It was the perfect sauce to top on the pizza crust!

SAMSUNG

Speaking of pizza—this was so good. It had a hint of sweetness that I’m going to guess is from the ranch sauce or pesto!

Between the two of us, the pizza and rolls were the right portions for a Sunday lunch. We agreed that we should meet up for lunch sometime again soon, and I added that it would be fun to do something like this especially after the long runs! 

So then we parted ways, and I went for a long walk up Sepulveda, so that I would eventually get to Sawtelle for dessert—another cold treat, this time at Blockheads:

SAMSUNG

My hour plus walk (that was somewhat uphill) got me hungry again, and waiting in line for more crowds…ah, it’s something that I just had to get through!

waitingtoorder

The walls had some cute penguin-themed art:

blockheadz

And who would not want to take this little cube guy home? 

blockheads_sawtelle

When I finally got up to the counter and figured out the exact combination of shave ice + toppings I wanted, I was glad to be handed this after everything was pushed to completion:

 For my shave ice/froyo mix, I went with the peppermint mocha flavor. Mochi (of course!) and honey boba were my toppings---with coconut puree sauce glazed all over!
For my shave ice/froyo mix, I went with the peppermint mocha flavor. Mochi (of course!) and honey boba were my toppings—with coconut puree sauce glazed all over!

blockheads

It had an interesting texture—creamy like fro yo, but had the shredded appearance of shave ice. No wonder this place was so popular…

The rest of the day was spent finding (and purchasing!) a gift for my other friend, and then taking two buses and the rail to get home. I guess I underestimated how much walking (and running!) I did that day because by the time I got home, my legs felt like they had been on one demanding adventure…and not even a food-related one 😉 !

How do you treat yourself after making it through a challenging week?

Real Food Daily on Urbanspoon Ice Cream Lab on Urbanspoon

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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...