Birthday Weekend, Day 1

Birthday Weekend, Day 1

After my birthday, my work week continued on as usual—long days filled with experiments, coffee breaks, and moments of eye droopiness at the computer, haha!

When Friday night rolled around, I was so excited for my friend’s arrival! She’s the one my sister and I visited during Thanksgiving,  and she came around 10pm. We stayed up till midnight just catching up and talking. We planned to stay local on Saturday, and then venture out to the OC on Sunday.

She woke up leisurely, while I got up a little earlier to get a morning run in. I also had to go by lab, so we did that, and then drove back to Santa Monica for lunch…at Bondi Harvest.

Bondi Harvest
Bondi Harvest

It’s a relatively new establishment, with the inside and exterior decor carrying themes of the Australian coast. Many of the menu items were small, brunch-like items with unique ingredient combinations of fresh quality.

Friend's eggs, tomato, and toast.
Friend’s eggs, tomato, and toast.

My friend got a simple plate of toast with a poached egg and roasted tomato. She was an immediate fan of the tomato, because of how proportionately seasoned it was.

I chose to get something that had a prominent feature in their menu: Whirley’s Bowl.

Whirley's Bowl
Whirley’s Bowl

It was a bowl containing chimichurri, dressed cauliflower rice, slaw, avocado, yogurt tartar and salsa…I said no thank you to the fish!

An interesting combo of flavors and textures...
An interesting combo of flavors and textures…

The slaw was a fruity, citrus slaw, and definitely elevated the flavor profile of the bowl. The large half of avocado also seemed like an overwhelming addition. I’m not sure I’d order this again if I ever came back to BH, but I didn’t regret my decision too much. Though I did doubt my decision NOT to get eggs and toast (and tomato).

After lunch, we tried to figure out what else to do in SaMo besides shop and go to the beach. I did want to see what the Santa Monica Stairs was all about (thinking it featured a colorful, painted outdoor staircase), but when we made the drive up to north of Brentwood, it was literally just a steep, wooden staircase with a bunch of buff guys and gals running reps up and down in Lululemon and Nike.

Santa Monica Stairs
Santa Monica Stairs

We climbed on flight just to say “we did it”, and then drove off to Brentwood.

We didn’t do much in Brentwood either, just walk up and down San Vicente. Because of the heat, heading back home to rest up and figure out dinner plans seemed like such a reasonable idea.

Once at home, we turned on the fan (because my room was like a sauna, ughhh), and made the executive decision to get coffee (after 4pm, haha) and read/do work at a coffee shop before having dinner.

This wasn’t a bad idea at all, since it was the perfect opportunity to try Phillz Coffee, and get caught up on some data analysis.

Phillz Coffee, 3rd St. Promenade
Phillz Coffee, 3rd St. Promenade

I was surprised that there was such a demand for Phillz Coffee after 4pm, on a Saturday, but this was the case as we soon figured from the long line trailing towards the front entrance.

Honestly, it was just for the iced coffee topped with mint leaves…another capture for the ‘gram…because based on my experience, the coffee was too bitter and nothing special.

Agh, couldn't finish this...
Agh, couldn’t finish this…

I couldn’t stomach the whole cup. Perhaps if I had had the barista pour some milk or cream, it could have made a difference, but Phillz was so not worth the hype.

But I did get some data analysis done, so there’s that!

And to conclude our eating adventures for the day, we stumbled upon CAVA, a fast-growing, Chipotle-for-Mediteranean-food kind of place. I first came across it in Culver City, but was ecstatic to try it for the first time with the company of my friend.

CAVA, Santa Monica
CAVA, Santa Monica

She got a bowl for her base, but I wanted some bready carbs, so I chose to get a pita stuffed with falafel, veggies, and apricot sriracha…yesssss.

That. Sauce. Though.
That. Sauce. Though.

We were able to enjoy our meal outside since it was finally starting to cool down, and after gobbling down everything to the last morsel, we headed back home and relaxed for the rest of the night with a movie on Netflix.

Another shot from CAVA
Another shot from CAVA

I probably would have died of boredom if I had stayed local the entire day (since I practically run the same roads everyday, the scenery had become too familiar, haha!), but having my friend by my side certainly made it a fantastic day 🙂

Philz Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Birthday and The Rockwell

Birthday and The Rockwell

In the days leading up to my birthday last year, I was under what seemed like insurmountable stress, and getting away from everything was more than necessary on my birthday. My 24th was a fun one thanks to the thoughtfulness of my Dad, sister, and friend who went out of their way to give me company when I felt so lonely and was running on fumes…

This year was the first time I celebrated my actual birthday with no close family nearby. But I didn’t mind, because the day felt like any other day, other than the fact I turned a quarter of a century years old 😛

It started with a short run, specifically a speed workout, and from there, I was off to lab.

In lab, E surprised me with a gift (a Turkish tea set!) and after getting some work done in the morning, she and another one of my lab mates joined me for lunch. They had cake ready and thawed when we came back to the office, and we spent some more time chatting over cake.

I managed to get some more work done in the afternoon, but things slowed down around 5. I asked E if she wanted to join me for dinner at The Rockwell in Los Feliz, since I had been asked if I could come review their summer menu. Being able to set up the visit on my birthday was definitely a plus 🙂

We took the metro over to Los Feliz since leaving to get the car and then driving through traffic didn’t seem like the best idea. When we got off at Vermont and Sunset however, we were greeted by extremely humid weather and…rain?! LA was acting crazy!

♥

We entered through the stage/club side first, and thought it was strange that a restaurant could be so dark. 

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Luckily, we had the sense to walk around the building and find the restaurant entrance.

The Rockwell, Los Feliz
The Rockwell, Los Feliz

We were greeted by some wait staff who at first didn’t know about the review visit, but we were able to grab some seats near the back, in a cozy little booth with a earthy-looking theme.

Getting cozy!
Getting cozy!

We were given the menu and took some time to figure out what sounded best. The skillet cauliflower ‘n’ cheese initially caught my eye, but E was eyeing it too, so I thought I’d get something different so we could share and try a variety of items.

E also got the RW Quinoa Burger (After figuring out that RW stands for Rockwell, haha), and I ended up choosing one of their wood stone flatbreads, the forest mushroom to be exact.

We were able to put in our order, and we didn’t have to wait too long for our food to arrive. In the meantime, we met The Rockwell’s owner/manager, and sipped on some cold glasses of water.

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We were amazed by how big the portions were when everything came out. And despite the muggy weather outside, we welcomed the warmth radiating from the food and couldn’t wait to dig in.

RW QUINOA BURGER ~ black bean, onion, sun-dried tomato, vegan mango chutney aioli
RW QUINOA BURGER ~ black bean, onion, sun-dried tomato, vegan mango chutney aioli

E wasn’t able to finish her burger, but she was ecstatic to find such a generous portion of avocado laid out so finely on her crisp quinoa patty.

My woostone flatbread was composed of wild mushrooms, leeks, white sauce, and truffle oil. It actually reminded me of the pizza I had at Pizza Studio a couple months ago, but the flatbread crust of this pizza had an intriguing texture. It was perfectly crisp on the outside, and pliable and chewy on the inside. Birthday calories obviously don’t count, and I had no problem getting through all of it 😛

FOREST MUSHROOM WOODSTONE FLATBREAD ~ WILD MUSHROOMS, LEEK, WHITE SAUCE & TRUFFLE OIL
FOREST MUSHROOM WOODSTONE FLATBREAD ~ WILD MUSHROOMS, LEEK, WHITE SAUCE & TRUFFLE OIL

I had some of E’s cauliflower ‘n’ cheese, which was described as a dish of multi-colored florets coated with golden panko crust and covered in cheese. It definitely wasn’t skimping on the cheese, and even though it’s an item under their “shareables”, it could easily be a rich entree if you so choose!

SKILLET CAULIFLOWER “N” CHEESE ~ purple, yellow, white florets with golden panko crust
SKILLET CAULIFLOWER “N” CHEESE ~ purple, yellow, white florets with golden panko crust

For the amount of food we got, and the quality, the cost was understandable and not too expensive. We had our meal covered, but the price range is certainly not out of reach if you are looking for a cozy, patio-style restaurant with shareable, bar food appetizers and classic entrees with a fresh, Californian (more like Hollywood-inspired) twist. They also hold shows throughout the month, the tickets to which are sold separately from dining in at the restaurant.

E and I took the train back, and I made it home close to 10pm. It was a busy, long birthday, but for what I did and who I surrounded myself with, I think I welcomed my 25th year the happiest way I could.

Rockwell Table & Stage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.

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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.

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Casa de Tamales interior

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

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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!

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Inside.
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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.

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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 😛

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch

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

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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

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