Last Day in the Bay

Last Day in the Bay

We spent our last day with my cousin and her wife in the same casual way as the previous day, but with the addition of a drive to the city.

I woke up early again, but went out for my run later than the day before in order to have a relaxing, sit-down chat over coffee with the cousin and her wifey.

After coffee, I went out for a 10 miler and came across this beautiful mural along the way.

10 mile solo run
10 mile solo run

I loved the trail I ran along, and there were two amazing bridges I came across that were pretty much architectural eye candy…

I quickly showered and got ready when I got back, since everyone was waiting to head out into the city. We had plans to go to the Exploratorium and have lunch. Our plans quickly changed when we found out tickets were a steep $30 and $25 with a student ID…our lunch plans didn’t change though.

We parked in Embarcadero, and dined at Osha Thai in the area.

Embarcadero
Embarcadero

It definitely looked like a fine dining kind of place on the inside, but my cousin told me that when she used to work in the area, she would often come down here with colleagues for lunch.

Ready for some Thai food?
Ready for some Thai food?

We ended up ordering everything family-style, and started off with these spring roll appetizers that were dipped in a delectable peanut sauce.

Spring roll with peanut sauce, spicy eggplant, and param
Spring roll with peanut sauce, spicy eggplant, and param

We split bowls of brown rice, Param (a vegetable and tofu dish with everything cooked in peanut sauce), and spicy eggplant. We also surprisingly ordered just enough food for all us without feeling hungry/stuffed. That was certainly a first for us!

Instead of going to the Exploratorium, we decided to head on over to the Jewish Contemporary Museum. We had to only walk for a few minutes back to the parking garage, but it had already gotten freezing-cold and the rain was icy too.

Jewish Contemporary Museum
Jewish Contemporary Museum

We did make it to the car in one piece though, and from there, found parking at a decent area by the museum. Despite finding good parking, we only spent about 1.5 hr at the museum, since there was really only one floor of exhibits, and one special exhibit on the ground floor.

It was time to leave after browsing through the gift shop…because dessert was calling our names. I actually had thought about suggesting to my cousin that we visit The Baked Bear for some ice cream-cookie creations, but he brought up the idea herself!

The Baked Bear, North Beach
The Baked Bear, North Beach

We were all giddy once we got to the food truck in North Beach. It didn’t matter that it was freezing cold out if a cookie bowl and ice cream was involved!

I ended up getting a chocolate chip cookie Bear Bowl with a huge scoop of birthday cake ice cream. My cousin got a cookie bowl as well with coffee ice cream.

The Bear Bowl = Chocolate chip cookie bowl + birthday cake ice cream.
The Bear Bowl = Chocolate chip cookie bowl + birthday cake ice cream.

My sis got a brownie bowl with chocolate ice cream (of course). We all allowed each other to take samples from each of the bowls, but I was fully content with my chocolate chip cookie + birthday cake ice cream combo. I thought the birthday cake ice cream could have had a stronger flavor (it tasted mostly of vanilla), but I had to give it points for its creaminess and color pop from the sprinkles!

We walked back to the car, and drove past the pier. I ended up falling asleep for the second part of the drive and woke up right as we rolled back into the apartment, haha!

Driving past the pier.
Driving past the pier.

After resting up for a bit, my cousin’s wife offered to make dinner and we watched an old Diane Keaton movie.

Roasted cauliflower, daal, and rice
Roasted cauliflower, daal, and rice

Basically, it was another cozy evening spent indoors in the company of loved ones, and the perfect way to end an enjoyable weekend πŸ™‚

The Baked Bear Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chilling in Walnut Creek

Chilling in Walnut Creek

The next day, I woke up earlier than everyone else (6am of course) but forced myself to go back to sleep just for a little bit. My cousin got up to make coffee a little over an hour later. I wanted to get a run in, so I opted to have coffee when I came back.

I ran along the Iron Horse Trail for 10 miles, and when I came back my cousin and her wife had left for the gym, haha. My sister and I spent the rest of the morning just chilling around the house.

Quiet Saturday morning
Quiet Saturday morning

When my cousins came back, we wanted to go out for some fresh air while they caught up on house errands/work. My sis and I used that time to go into downtown to pick up snacks and walk around.

Walking around downtown Walnut Creek
Walking around downtown Walnut Creek

I noticed that they had an acai bowls shop by the name of Vitality Bowls, and I remember I had bookmarked it years ago as a place I wanted to visit if I ever stopped by in the East Bay. My sis also wanted to get a bowl, so we stepped inside.

Vitality Bowls
Vitality Bowls

There was ample seating inside, and despite the cold temperatures outside, there were many groups of people inside eating away at fruit-filled concoctions that were held in wavy-shaped stainless steel bowls.

whaisgraviola
My sister and I spent a good amount of time pondering over what is graviola…

My sister was craving a bowl that had ample amounts of banana and peanut butter. I wound up getting a classic Vitality Bowl.

bowlz
On the left ~ a Nutty Bowl with an almond milk base, apple juice, PB, banana, strawberries and flax seed topped with granola, (more) bananas, almonds and honey // On the right ~ a Vitality Bowl made with organic acai, bananas, strawberries and flax seed and topped with granola, honey, bananas, strawberries, and (not enough) goji berries

I loved my bowl, but wish there had been more goji berries. The base was also somewhat more watery than I expected, and my sister’s bowl base seemed to be as thick as ice cream. The stainless steel bowl kept things nice and cold however.

close up
Close-up shot of my Vitality Bowl πŸ™‚

After finishing the bowls, my sister and I headed back to the apartment. We just worked on our computers and enjoyed the company of my cousin and her wife. One of

their friends came over for tax help, and my cousin got started on cooking dinner while the NBA All-Star game played in the background. My cousin ended up making a “less spicy” version of Pad Kee Mao. The original recipe called for 22 chili peppers, but she generously cut that down to 7.

pad_kee_mao
Pad Kee Mao that wasn’t supposed to be spicy, but still was!

Even so, everyone commented on how spicy it still was! I however like spicy food, and didn’t find it off-putting one bit.

After dinner, we played a card game called Judgment that my cousin’s wife was a pro at. She beat us all by a wide margin. Soon after that, we called it a night and retreated back to our rooms. We had plans to go into the city the next day, so we had no problem turning in early to save up our energy for that. πŸ™‚

Vitality Bowls Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Her 21st

Her 21st

Last weekend’s events were spectacular. I am so grateful for being able to visit my sister on a milestone occasion—her 21st birthday!

cakkkkke
Slice of chocolate birthday cake. Can’t pass up a slice in celebration!

I wanted to maximize the time I spent with her so much that I took a night MegaBus so that I could get to Oakland by 7am that Friday morning. From there, one of our besties who also didn’t want to miss out picked me up, and after getting coffee we drove 3 hours to Fresno!

My sister couldn’t contain her excitement when she knew we were close. She skipped class (haha) so that we could all have lunch together at Taqueria Don Pepe.

don_pepe
Taqueria Don Pepe

It was incredibly hot outside (pushing 100s!!) but they had a small, shaded patio where we could sit down and enjoy our lunch. My sister and I both got vegetarian tortes while our friend got enchiladas (despite talking nonstop about her taco craving for the 3 hours I drove with her, lol).

don_pepe
Pickle bar, small interior

The torta was made with a soft but toasted hoagie roll and filled with refried beans, good ol’ avocado, tomato slices, onion, and shredded cheese. My friend seemed to like her enchiladas, but she actually got bored mid-plate and started talking about splitting fries with my sister from Dog House Grill next door!

veg_torta
Veg torta anyone?

We went shopping for a bit afterwards at Target, and then came back to my sister’a dorm for some rest before heading out to dinner.

filling
Everythannnng in here

My sis and friend spent forever doing their makeup, and opened a bottle of wine to drink before we left. I was “designated mommy” since I don’t drink, so I let my sis enjoy her new-found freedom with alcohol. She’s actually probably the smartest person I know when it comes to drinking safety…she did her research and did not go crazy at all. She told me she stayed hydrated and drank only after eating something substantial the night she had her first drink, on her actual birthday. Obviously I’m bragging now because I’m such a proud older sis.

After they had their fun, I drove us all to The Cheesecake Factory because my sister had a giftcard she wanted to use, and because I had never been to TCH!!

lol
The Cheesecake Factory on a Friday…so busy!!

We had to wait about 45 minutes before we could get a table, and when we were taken to our seats we came across a server who was scrambling to set up our table. It was the most awkward thing ever, as it looked like he was literally playing musical chairs with silverware. We stood there in polite silence, but were all actually thinking what the…

drinks_chips
Sis and friend’s drinks…I helped myself to chips and guac.

We ordered A TON, and I ended up reprimanding both ladies for it afterwards because we needed up taking four boxes home. We devoured a whole bread basket, shared chips and guacamole, and my sis and friend ordered huge plates of burgers with sides. My sis got a side salad that she didn’t even touch because she got the kale salad appetizer. I tried the mozzarella flatbread, and while it was crisp and creamy from the cheese, it was not the most stellar thing to cross paths with my tastebuds.

pizza
A sub-par flatbread pizza

After dinner, we walked through the mall for a bit and then drove back. We finished the night with the Bratz movie (just to make fun of it, and it was unsurprisingly the only thing we could all agree upon) and I was the first one to fall asleep.

I woke up the next morning to squeeze in a 6 miler, but as soon as the ladies woke up, we for ourselves ready for an eggy brunch—Fresno style!

Do you drink?

What was your first alcoholic drink ?

Taqueria Don Pepe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So That’s What It’s Called!

So That’s What It’s Called!

The one thing I like about being independent in lab is being able to coordinate my lab schedule with my life schedule—at least for the most part. For the current experiments I’m doing, I had to plan weeks in advance to make sure everything I needed to accomplish was covered, but with a little maneuvering and careful planning, I was able to make myself free sometime within the time frame of my sister’s birthday. It also happened to be a weekend after some of the more time-intensive experiments, and so this “mini break” was much, much needed.

I left LA around 7:30AM by bus, and then transferred on to the train to head up to Fresno. Like my first trip a couple months ago, this train ride was far from anything you’d expect from an amusement park, but at least it got me to my sister πŸ™‚

After picking me up from the station, my sister dropped me off at the dorms while she dashed to class. I took my time settling in and soothing my sore head from a lingering headache.

When she came back, we were both ready for an afternoon tea-esque snack, so we headed out thinking a place called La Boulangerie would be able to satsify us.

After some driving around with a confused GPS, we realized that even though La Boulangerie existed and served French pastries and snacks, it wasn’t the Parisien dessert shop my sister had previously visited and had told me about. She then realized that it was Le Parisien she wanted to go to πŸ˜›

1
Le Parisen front.

We found the right cafe among other establishments in a strip mall, and my eyes immediately latched onto the sugary collection in the display case.

2
So many sweets to choose from!!

My sister and I had been talking macaroons on the way over, but some of these other beauties were making me change my mind…they even had discount, day old pastries that still looked appealing.

3
These day-old sweet hearts still look good!

I wasn’t in a jelly-filled, powder-sugared donut mood though…I saw an incredibly looking chocolate tart, and I was sold. My sister got three small pastries, and a vegetarian crepe.

4
All for ourselves!

We were the only ones in the cafe at the time, so we found a table right in the middle that wasn’t too close to the window or the sun rays coming through them.

6
A chocolate tart with chocolate ganache to DEVOUR.

My chocolate tart had a swirl of mousse, and a thin layer of chocolate ganache. The crust was hard to cut through, but if I had eaten it as a handhold rather than from top-to-bottom with my fork, I may have appreciated the crust layer more.

5
Orange, mint chocolate macaroons, and lemon meringue

My sister lover her orange macaroon, but wasn’t much of a fan of her lemon meringue or mint chocolate macaroon. She decided that fruit macaroons > non-fruit macaroons, but I can’t take her word for it until I try a non-fruit macaroon, since I’ve only tried lemon and blueberry flavors so far…

7
Vegetarian crepe

She did love her vegetarian crepe though, filled with an assortment of colorful vegetables and cheese, all wrapped up in a rectangular thin crepe. I even helped myself to a few bites.

We got back to her dorm a little before five, and though it would be smart to get some homework/reading done before dinner. When we did get in the car again, we blasted the radio and drove off into the sunset…sort of πŸ˜‰

8
Friday sunset

We were both craving Mediterranean, and we found out that a new Mediterranean grill had opened up in Clovis just a few weeks ago that was worth checking out.

9
Ark Mediterranean Grill

The shopping area Ark Mediterannean Grill was housed in was busy for a Friday night, but the restaurant only had a few other patrons besides ourselves. There was a long table with at least a dozen people near the back of the restaurant, I’m assuming all family, and enjoying an evening out together.

There wasn’t much in options for vegetarians other than the falafel plate or a falafel sandwich, so my sister and I both got the plate. We avoided twinning when I chose to have bulgar instead of rice.

10
The vegetarian-friendly falafel plate

Along with a well-balanced plate of falafel, bulgar, hummus, and cucumber salad, we also got four thin triangles of pita bread and a cup of tahini sauce.

11
Pita bread and tahini

The inside of the falafel reminded me of a pretty amazing falafel plate I had a few weeks ago in Glendale, but these falafels were on level with the ones of So Cal. And of course, the hummus was exceptional. To be honest, I don’t think you can ever have “bad” hummus unless the chickpeas have spoiled or something πŸ˜›

12
Just like the one I had in Dune…

While picking through the bulgar, I noticed what looked like short, thin noodles mixed in, and I was reminded of what my friend used to eat when were kids. Her mom used to prepare something similar, and I was always fascinated by what it was called. Apparently, after simply Googling the phrase ‘noodles mixed with rice Mediterranean’, I found out it’s called Riz Bil Sh’arieh (or more casually, Lebanese Rice). The key is broken vermicelli noodles πŸ˜‰

13
Riz Bil Sh’arieh! So that’s what it’s called!

After this nourishing meal, I felt pumped for the race I was planning to run the next day. Once we got back, I managed to also have some energy to read a few papers before heading to bed, but my sister and I did make some time to laugh out loud during our countless study breaks πŸ˜€

Have you ever had Riz Bil Sh’arieh?

Le Parisien Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Natural Beauty

Natural Beauty

Last Friday was certainly one of the best days I’ve had in a while. It was the example of a perfect summer (and birthday) weekend. I still had lab duties during the day, but Fridays tend to be less-demanding, and I was able to meet my Dad a little after 3PM. We made our way over to Culver City, and took a short nap in the parking lot of a grocery store before heading over to the Hare Krishna Temple.

We’ve been wanting to pay the temple a visit since learning about its existence in LA. Since this would be my Dad’s last visit to SoCal before moving out-of-state, it was obviously a no-brainer to make the visit a priority this time.

The whole block by the temple is a quiet, residential area of condos/apartments that I later learned were mostly occupied by members and volunteers of the temple.

 Quiet stretch of apartments.
Quiet stretch of apartments.

The temple itself was a small, clean, and peaceful place for worship. One of the head patrons of the temple even spent a good half hour with us, explaining the history of this particular temple. We also took some time for ourselves for personal worship, and were amazed by the extremely diverse community visiting the temple. There didn’t seem to be any exclusivity, and everyone that came in was greeted warmly and with respect.

 Front of temple.
Front of temple.

Dinner was being served right next door, at Govinda’s Natural Food Buffet…a local favorite just based on the crowd.

 Small and cozy.
Small and cozy.

Inside, there was a humble-sized buffet line serving cold and hot foods, which change daily. There were even desserts and pizza being sold separately!

 Delicious looking line-up!
Delicious looking line-up!

The menu that night included a salad bar, brown and basmati ric, lentil soup, whole mung daal, chow mein, steamed cauliflower and carrots, sweet & sour steamed veggies with tofu sausage pieces, and apple halavah for dessert.

 Menu up above.
Menu up above.

I started off with a loaded salad, and a balanced plate of hot foods.

 Buffet Round 1 - Loaded salad with hot food plate including steamed carrots and cauliflower, brown rice, and sweet n sour veggies.
Buffet Round 1 – Loaded salad with hot food plate including steamed carrots and cauliflower, brown rice, and sweet n sour veggies.

I went back for another loaded plate, and unpictured dinner roll, and a sampling of the apple halavah.

 Buffet Round 2 - Loaded hot food plate including steamed carrots and cauliflower, shredded beets, tofu salad, mung daal, brown rice, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers.
Buffet Round 2 – Loaded hot food plate including steamed carrots and cauliflower, shredded beets, tofu salad, mung daal, brown rice, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers.
 Apple halawah - not too sweet, and had a mild apple flavor.
Apple halawah – not too sweet, and had a mild apple flavor.

After dinner, we stopped by Sprouts so I wouldn’t have to worry about grocery shopping for the week later. Then we drove over to Dockweiler just as the sun was starting to set. Perfection.

aintitbeautiful
Beauty and the beach.

The weather was just right. The moment was just right. The Friday night crowd was just right (mini beach bonfires everywhere!). And being able to enjoy this natural beauty with my Dad—who I probably won’t see until winter—made it all the more perfect.

Of course, getting back home was far from being perfect because TRAFFIC. By the time I was all good and settled back at the apartment, it was almost 9:40PM. Still, I made time for B&J’s while watching The Daily Show with Dad before going to bed.

 Buffet Round 1 - Loaded salad with hot food plate including steamed carrots and cauliflower, brown rice, and sweet n sour veggies.
Chocolate ice cream? Tasted more like a frozen chocolate mint  bar, so all was good. The swirls were barely there, but at least the cookie balls made up for it! They also kept their firm crunch too!

It’s days like these that make me wish every evening could end the same way β™₯

What is your best summer evening memory?

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Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Not Quite Carrots…Sort of Cookies…

Please excuse the awkward title…at least it’s not a boring “4th of July Weekend Part blah blah” πŸ˜‰

So after my sister and I completed our journey for vegan donuts, our next stop was to the beach! We realized that there was a hurdle in our plans however…since we were all the way up in Northeast LA, it was going to take at least another two hours before we arrived in West LA. Oh boy…

But, we couldn’t let traveling time get in the way of our plans. On the brightside, it would be “another adventure” for us.

We caught the train around 3pm, and transferred to a bus at Union Station. From there, things got hazy since I drifted in and out of sleep on the bus while my sister listened to music. The bus was packed by the time we got off, and we witnessed some crazy passengers saying some crazy things when we were on board. Perhaps it was the 4th of July-induced adrenaline?

We got off in Venice, and decided to walk down to Marina Del Rey where the fireworks were taking place that night. Even though we were complaining about the walking we had to do earlier in the day, this stroll was more pleasant since there was an ocean breeze along with it being overcast.

We walked alongside the path that I remember running on one of my team long runs during marathon training season. It was such a gorgeous sight to see the yachts and boats docked in the water…on a cloudy summer evening.

 Boats docked at Fisherman's Village.
Boats docked at Fisherman’s Village.

We stopped at Fisherman’s Village for some photo-taking, and pondered over whether we should stay and wait for the fireworks then and there, or continue onwards to find something to eat.

 Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?
Should we stay here until the sky gets dark? Or go find food?

We chose to do the latter of course, and though the walk continued to be long, we could not help but enjoy the fantastic views of the water…

 Perfect weather & views.
Perfect weather & views.

We eventually made it to Dockweiler Beach, and walked inland from there to check out the small offering of eateries and cafes. We weren’t craving anything in particular, but we were able to find a cute, veggie-friendly storefront in the middle of a strip mall.

 The Mad Carrot!
The Mad Carrot!

The Mad Carrot looked like any ol’ cafe from the front, but the colors inside were extremely warm and inviting.

 Inside...
Inside…

They had menu cards at the front, and my eyes were immediately drawn towards the Not-chos.

 Colorful menu!
Colorful menu!

Unfortunately, they were made with turkey chili, and even though I asked if they could be made without the chili, it ended up being more complicated than it should have been. So I settled for the Vegan Sausage.

The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.
The Vegan Sausage with a side of tortilla chips.

My sister got the Veggie Melt, which also came with a side of chips…

 This one actually looked pretty good!  :P
This one actually looked pretty good! πŸ˜›

Since the cafe was closing early due to the 4th of July festivities, we were given foam to-go boxes. My sis and I found a bench in the strip mall, and ate our meals before walking back to the beach. Both of us agreed that neither of our orders were knock-outs, and that we easily could have whipped something up of that caliber at home. But for the time being, it would do.

By the time we finished eating, we immediately felt weary. We had another two hours or so until the sky would be dark enough for the fireworks show. It felt like it would take an eternity though…

After some back and forth, my sister and I let our inner grannies make the decision to call it a day and head home. I arranged for our ride back with Uber, using a first-time user coupon code for a free ride up to $30! We were glad to be able to be dropped off directly at home. Needless to say, we were exhausted from our jettin’-across-LA-via-public-transit tour!

It was certainly something hot chocolate could fix!

 Yum-ay
Yum-ay

The next morning, we stayed in my apartment until an hour before my sister’s bus was scheduled to leave. After dropping her off at the station, I went by Target to pick up some eggs and a B&J’s pint for later (of course ;)) .

  Hmm...maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this...
Hmm…maybe I should have saved my hot chocolate to pair with this…

I was thinking of getting another exclusive flavor, but when I saw Milk & Cookies for the first time ever, I knew I had to try it right away!

 Milk and Cookies pint!!!!
Milk and Cookies pint!!!!

It looked like an ice cream core when I opened it, but it just turned out to be a huge chunk of chocolate chocolate chip cookies. I am not complaining when I say this though!

Once I started making my way through the pint, it was slowly transforming from ice cream to milkshake—a “cookie shake” to be more precise.

The rest of the day, and weekend for that matter, was spent relaxing at home, and going to sleep very early. Sometimes the most fun events in life can make you (happily) exhausted.

If you live in the US, did you celebrate the 4th of July with a fireworks show?

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A Fine Summer Weekend

A Fine Summer Weekend

My favorite kind of weekend is the kind that makes you feel like you’ve been on a week-long vacation come Sunday night. This past weekend had me feel just that, even though taking Friday off helped πŸ˜‰

I left for the airport in Long Beach after taking care of things in lab during the day. I ended up having an hour to finish up packing, and rode the train down to the farthest stop it would go in Long Beach. Even though there was an accident on the railroad tracks by the time I boarded, the delay only took an extra half hour, and so I wasn’t panicking about missing my flight. I actually ended up making it to my gate with a good twenty minutes to spare!

We didn’t depart until ~8:30PM, which meant take-off took place when the sky just turned dark. Needless to say, the view was awesome from my window seat πŸ˜‰ . I was able to sit back, listen to my MP3, and enjoy flying through the night sky. I landed close to 10PM, and my Dad was able to pick me up from the airport. I had no energy once arriving at the house, and promptly crashed into a pleasant night’s sleep.

The next morning, I went out for a 6 mile run along old routes. I was quickly reminded of how hot it gets in the summer, even at 8AM up in my part of Nor Cal, but I was still able to run at a fast-for-me pace despite this.

After the run, I kept things lazy with a nap at noon. Since my sister was also visiting this weekend, we decided to head out to the mall later in the afternoon with our friend who was at home with her family for the summer. We ended up doing some clothes shopping, and stopped at Barnes & Noble for some coffee and reading time (I appropriately read the issues of Runner’s World that I needed to catch up on πŸ˜‰ ).

 Sbux and magazine reading at B&N // Stats from run earlier in the day!
Sbux and magazine reading at B&N // Stats from run earlier in the day!

For the rest of the evening, I sat down to a home-cooked meal and eventually went to sleep after some couch & TV time…it was the best πŸ™‚

On Saturday, my Dad and I went to the gym, where I was able to fit in an upper-body workout followed by a soak in the spa. After running some errands, I had lunch followed by a glorious nap. Funny thing is, when I woke up from that nap, I felt like taking another one! I was certainly taking advantage of the hours of sleep I lost from my busy days in May!!

 Tried on the free tank I got in the mail a few days ago!
Tried on the free tank I got in the mail a few days ago!

I think I ended up napping the day away looking back at it now…but I have zero regrets about that. Upon waking up, I was able to convince my sister  (though it didn’t take much convincing…) to join me in a pint party. She treated herself to a chocolate-exploding flavor from Ben & Jerry’s, while I finally got my hands on and dug into a pint of The Tonight Dough!

thetonightdough!

I was expecting this flavor to be a lot more tastier than it ended up being, but found it to be heavy in the chocolate ice cream when compared to what was available caramel-wise. And the ‘gobs of cookie dough’ were really lacking, just sayin’

 Too much chocolate, not enough caramel, and is that a peanut butter cookie dough gob I see...or just my imagination??
Too much chocolate, not enough caramel, and is that a peanut butter cookie dough gob I see…or just my imagination??

We paired our ice cream party with a Netflix movie, specifically Mary & Max. Our thought was that claymation = a potentially cute and endearing movie, and while it was a good movie from the aspect of storytelling, it was interesting to see “certain themes” imaged through a medium primarily used for younger audiences….yeah, but what else can you expect from Netflix?

— 

On Sunday, I was able to “sleep in” until 7, and immediately got ready for my 12-mile long run after sharing coffee with my Dad. I went out for a 6 mile out-and-back with no music, and felt incredibly refreshed after my workout. I was even more elated to find out that my Dad made chocolate chip pancakes for my sister and I, and I topped mine with some cherry greek yogurt because greek yogurt >>> syrup. Again, just sayin’ πŸ˜‰

 Homemade post-run brekkie fuel (aka, the best).
Homemade post-run brekkie fuel (aka, the best).

The morning fun continued with a stop at the gym, and a quick lunch before heading out for my first ever pedicure!

spa day

I initially went in with hopes of getting rid of two tough calluses that had formed on the sides of the balls of my feet (oh, the side effects of running…), but unfortunately the pedicurist didn’t do such a great job. It did feel nice to have my legs and feet pampered though…especially soon after a long run! 

And to continue my state of R&R bliss, I had another pint–#2 for the weekend!

thatsmyjam

The That’s My Jam Core was calling out my name—Ben & Jerry surely did want to redeem themselves for the sub-par flavor that was The Tonight Dough πŸ˜› . And this core certainly did just that—it had just the right balance of chocolate and raspberry flavors, and the chocolate chunks were appropriately mixed in with the raspberry side of things πŸ˜‰ 

 Okay, so chocolate is finally giving some room for another flavor ;) . Raspberry ice cream and a raspberry jam core isn't such a bad flavor to share the spotlight with though!
Okay, so chocolate is finally giving some room for another flavor πŸ˜‰ . Raspberry ice cream and a raspberry jam core isn’t such a bad flavor to share the spotlight with though!

Unlike on Saturday though, this pint served as my “nap cap”, and I fell into another deep, cozy nap. I accompanied my Dad to the grocery store when I woke up, and after returning, had dinner while watching The Next Food Network Star with the sister. Before going to bed, I finished packing up and before I knew it, I was awake again (though not due to my choosing…) and the blissful, relaxing weekend as I knew it had come to an end. 

This short trip was especially bittersweet for me this time around, since my parents are setting up to move out-of-state by the time summer ends. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it up again before the big move, so it may as well be the final time I stayed in the house that I grew up in for 14 years of my life…I still have ties to my hometown though, at least through my close, childhood friends, but not having a personal “home” in the place I lived most of my life will definitely be something that I’ll need to get used to.

What are your ingredients for a fine summer weekend?

Runners, how do you get rid of calluses? 

Charmed by Veggies

Charmed by Veggies

So even though I almost fell into a sugar coma on Sunday, I survived and managed to eat a little bit more “wholesome” in the days following (but I do think treating yourself to oreo pancakes once in a while is indeed part of a balanced and wholesome lifestyle πŸ˜‰ ).

After spending a few days with my Dad early last month, I didn’t think I’d see him again until my upcoming weekend trip to Nor Cal, but his job changed things up so that he was able to be in town again sooner—even if only for two days!

I met him after I was finished with my data analysis for the day in lab, and we were both feeling pretty beat from the day’s events. It was a mostly silent car ride due to us being so tired, but since we were on our way to dinner, we knew we’d both be in better, more energetic moods once out of traffic and when food was in our bellies.

Not having truly explored South Pasadena to its extent, I suggested we check out Charm Vegan there since our hotel was close by.

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We came in around 6PM, and were greeted by a friendly hostess who immediately handed us menus.

charm vegan

I was used to seeing the similar asian/vegan-fusion options, and worked harder to find the “unique” dish from the many choices listed.

charm vegan interior

To start off with, we had two avocado rolls wrapped with rice paper and stuffed with guac, green leaves, lettuce, and carrots.

My Dad ended up sticking with something tried and true (even though he was the one who suggested I find “something different” off the menu). ‘Pumpkin, Eggplant and Tofu’ is a trusty choice for a reason—-when you’ve got sauteed eggplant, pumpkin, and tofu smothered in garlic chili sauce, paired with some rice on the side, how can you go wrong πŸ˜‰ ?

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I did end up picking something different as my entree choice, looking at the Chef’s Specials for some guidance. I got the Sizzling Spare Ribs, made with soy protein and sauteed in a black bean sauce with onion, bell peppers, and carrots.

Since we ate family-style, my portions were quite the mix:

portioning it out

We were able to have a better conversation during dinner (when we weren’t stuffing our faces) and our energy levels were soon back up again. When we were about to leave after receiving our check, the hostess asked how we found out about their restaurant. My Dad just pointed to me, and I ended up saying “oh, online…”. The awkward moments of a foodie blogger πŸ˜›

At the hotel, we found more time to relax and recharge, and with my Dad’s help, I finally got my new phone to work! I “celebrated” with a pint of cookie dough Arctic Zero, and after showering, called it a day and went to sleep knowing that the next day would be another productive and exhausting one. 

The next day was a bit rushed all-around—I ended up starting in lab an hour later than usual, and didn’t finish my duties until late afternoon. I met my Dad again near campus, and we made our way to Sprouts so that I could pick up some produce for the rest of my week. We then parked at a Pavillions parking lot, where my Dad took a nap and I found a new-to-me pint to try and hold me over until dinner.

halo top vanilla bean

I couldn’t wait to dig in, and so since I was eating it in the parking lot, an older guy who was parked next to us and unloading groceries noticed my frozen treat and commented with a “that looks good!”. At least I wasn’t in the middle of taking a picture, but still…so awkward πŸ˜› !

But to be fair, the guy was right because this Vanilla Bean flavor of Halo Top Creamery’s ice cream pints was insanely delicious. And with 24 grams of protein in the entire pint, I’d say it was an appropriate dessert snack to consume before dinner. 

For dinner, we headed over to Veggie Grill since it was the last day to try their spring specials (at least according to an email I received). The one in Westwood was close by, but not in terms of traffic…

Even though it was only six miles away at the time, that doesn’t mean anything in LA during rush hour. We still went through with our dinner plans though, even though my Dad was now in a time crunch to make his flight!

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The inside looked relatively smaller compared to other Veggie Grills I’ve visited, but it made sense since it was nestled in a college-busy villa.

veggie grill westwood

I knew what to order right away, and asked for the banh mi salad at the counter. My Dad was pre-occupied with trying to figure out how to get to the airport on time, but his quick decision to get the bombay bowl was still a good one.

The wait seemed longer than usual due to the anxiety my Dad was feeling, but our dishes came within a time frame that allowed us to still dine in.

My banh mi salad was a beautiful mix of vegetables that included chargrilled eggplants, carrots, cabbage, jalapenos, and kale—topped with crispy cubes of organic tofu.

banh mih salad

I am a veggie lover for life, but the tofu pieces truly won me over this time around.

The Bombay Bowl my Dad took anxious bites out of was chock full of colorful herb-roasted veggies—something they left out when I first tried it a year ago. It was a shame that he couldn’t finish it due to time πŸ™

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In the end, he made his flight, and I didn’t have to take public transit home in order for him to do so. We also didn’t have to part with a goodbye since we would be seeing each other again soon enough—within days as a matter of fact πŸ˜‰

Do you find it hard to eat when you’re anxious/stressed, or does it make you hungrier?

Click to add a blog post for Veggie Grill on Zomato

Making Time for the Good Stuff

Making Time for the Good Stuff

May may (haha) be flying by in hyperactive speed, but at least I got to spend the second weekend of this month with my dad at home in LA! He knew that it would be impossible for me to make it up to Nor Cal after classes finished, since I’ve got a lot of lab work keeping me busy. But luckily for the both of us, he was able to come down for the weekend prior to his business trip stay. 

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This particular weekend began with a walk to lab to fulfill my morning experiment duties, but I scheduled it so that I would be finished by noon and available to let my Dad into my apartment complex. He came bearing my favorites—discount Grocery Outlet yogurts, deeply discounted nut butters, and a gargantuan jar of coconut oil that was apparently only ten bucks!! 

We then decided to head over to the California Science Center in Expo Park to check out the Endeavour space shuttle, among other things. 

 The Endeavour at the California Science Center.
The Endeavour at the California Science Center.

While I was taking this panoramic shot with my phone, one of the museum employees walked over to me:

panorama endeabor

At first it was awkward because he was just staring as I was slowly moving my phone sideways, and I quickly defended myself saying “oh, I was just taking a picture of the surroundings, not you!”, but he ended up being pleased that I was “taking interest” with the exhibit. He stopped to chat with me and my dad for a little bit, and from our conversation I learned that his name was Joe. He pulled out some samples from his jacket of different materials used in the construction of the shuttle, and gave us some “insider information”, but he was actually more impressed by how much my dad knew about everything he was talking about. It was still nice to be able to stumble into a conversation with someone who was especially trained to provide information about the exhibit!

We were at the museum for about 2.5 hours, and decided to walk over to the nearest Starbucks for a late afternoon latte. My legs and feet were dying to get some rest, since I was on them since the early hours of the morning! We sat outside and enjoyed our warm coffee before heading out to dinner. Since my dad had a car, we drove over over to My Vegan Gold near Silver Lake. 

myvegangold

Even though it was after 6PM, the setting outside still had a sunny and bright “it-feels-like-3PM” feeling to it. This caused the interior of the restaurant to be illuminated in a pretty way:

 I love the brick wall and 'Veganism' statement :)
I love the brick wall and ‘Veganism’ statement πŸ™‚

The restaurant wasn’t packed on this Saturday evening, so we had our pick when it came to finding a table. We found one near a window at the center of the restaurant, and once we were situated, tried to figure out the best thing to order off the menu.

To start off, we had the Thai “Beef” Jerky (soy protein), which was cut into strips and sauteed with jerky sauce and coriander seeds. It also came with lettuce romaine leaves to make wraps!

Thai Beef Jerky Sauteed soy protein marinated with jerky sauce and coriander seed serve with romaine heart

My dish was this spicy jackfruit plate, which featured shredded jackfruit that was most definitely spicy, and veggies stir-fried in a cornstarch-based sauce on the side. It also came with a side of sticky rice, which was great for mopping up extra sauce on the plate!

spicy jackfruit - sauce, garlic, onion, spice, with sticky rice and veggies

I forgot what my Dad had (and obviously forgot to take pics…), but I do remember having some of what he ordered, haha!

For the remainder of the evening, we drove to the nearest Sprouts for some groceries (one of the reasons I love it when people visit me and they HAVE a car!!), and then crashed back at the apartment. I went to sleep early since I had a long run/lab duties on the schedule the next day…

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On Sunday after my long run and lab duties, I was free when the clock struck noon once again! I was able to schedule a room viewing for the afternoon, and I guess the timing was all-around perfect since Dad was in town! Unfortunately, I don’t see myself living in the housing that we saw, and so even though it was back to the drawing board for potential housing options for next year, I was glad to be able to scratch something off my list!

At around late afternoon, Dad needed a nap so we drove to the nearest Ralph’s. He slept in the parking lot while I treated myself to another B&J’s core—ever since that Speculoos flavor, I’m now on an unofficial “quest” to try all. the. cores.

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And Boom Chocolatta? Massive flavor explosion—in an extremely good way.

I mean…mocha and caramel ice cream, with cookie bits mixed in and a chocolate cookie core. It was totally worth all the stares I got when I ate this outside at a table near the parking lot. 

 Give me the fudge!
Give me the fudge!

When my dad woke up from the much-needed rest, we made a few stops to pick up some random items like nail clippers and Truvia, but were on the road a little after 5PM headed towards Costa Mesa.

Dinner tonight was  Native Foods at The Camp!

the camp costa mesa

The Costa Mesa location is one that is near & dear to my heart. It was where I experienced the glory that is Native Foods for the very first time…almost three years ago!!

NF Costa Mesa

Since it was Mother’s Day Weekend, they had a special ‘spring wellington’ dish being made and served. My craving for the native nuevo nachos was at an all-time high, so I went with that while my Dad volunteered himself to be the adventurous one from the both of us and try the wellington.

Even though we had to sit outside since pretty much all the booths were full on the inside, we were able to enjoy the sunshine and cool breeze drifting in from the nearby ocean. And once our food came out, it didn’t matter where we were because all attention was focused towards what was ’bout to be chowed down!

native nuevo nachos after my own heart

I guess the nachos have shrunk in size compared to the dinner portion that was served at my last visit to this location three years ago, but it only made me appreciate my dish even more.

The spring wellington was brought out with good presentation, but the promotional poster didn’t reflect the portion size on the plate (in other words, where is the rest of the wellington…certainly not underneath that humble pile of spring veggies…)

spring wellington

We left The Camp soon after finishing up dinner since nothing much was going on, and drove over to Newport Beach to catch a look at the ocean before driving back to the city.

newport-beach

The temperature was beginning to cool down, and the breeze was picking up in strength, but the view couldn’t be beat.

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On a Sunday evening, when the sun is thinking about starting to set, where would you want to be?

sandcastles

The sand was so pristine, and there was barely anyone walking around except for a few locals with dogs in tow. It definitely put Santa Monica—and even Manhattan Beach—to shame πŸ˜‰

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The timing for everything was just right in this weekend. Despite racking up certain responsibilities and being tied down by commitments, I was fortunate enough and grateful to be able to see my dad in the midst of all this exciting chaos! This fun and playful weekend was exactly what I needed to prepare for (and make through!) the following week.

Do you like taking enjoying nature in quiet or busy settings?

My Vegan Gold on UrbanspoonNative Foods Cafe on Urbanspoon

Fun in Fresno – Part 3

Fun in Fresno – Part 3

Saturday night was without-a-doubt the best part of the trip. We didn’t even need to change our outfits when we got back from our adventures during the day, since a visit to 1920 Tea Station Club was on our minds from the get-go.

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This was our answer for “goin’ clubbin'” alright. No alcohol here—just boba tea, fantastical desserts, and strobe lights. Obviously the latter was not from the 1920’s…

insidetheclub

Everyone inside was either on a date, or in a group with friends or family. This place was just as much a social club as it was a trendy place to grab some grub.

1920tearoomcountertop

We found a paper menu near the counter, and had more time to look through it after we got seated. One of their trademark delicacies was a brick toast dessert that was offered in several different ways. My sister was craving a boba milkshake, so she got that as an appetizer of sorts (chocolate of course), while our ‘main course’ would be a honey-flavored brick toast with an assortment of fruit.

We could. not. wait.

My sister’s boba shake was quite the knock-out, and it sort of kept us from thinking about the toast while it was being prepped.

 Hello, delicious.
Hello, delicious.

When our toast cube did arrive, it truly did hold our attention. It was as stunning as a birthday cake topped with scoops of various-flavored ice creams and sparklers—perhaps even more.

honey-toast-with fruit and ice cream

We were enamored by the outside of the brick itself—with a fanfare of fruits at the top and two scoops of ice cream in the back—all of which was drizzled with chocolate! But on the inside, we figured out why it was called brick toast. There were literally columns of toast lined tightly against each other!

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We also realized that despite the sweet, honey taste the toast had, it was still dry if eaten by itself. No wonder there was ice cream to help us out in this regard. The ice cream may have quickly melted, but none of it escaped from of us because the toast was able to absorb all of it. Nothing went to waste here!

We drove back to my sister’s apartment close to 10pm, and β€˜recuperated’ from that exquisite experience! If you’re going to have a load of carbs before bedtime, make it worth something πŸ˜‰

On Sunday morning, I traded in my usual long runs for another 6 miler. I needed to save time to pack up for LA, and so cutting the run short was necessary. Once my sister got up and ready, we were out of the dorm by 10AM.

Before grabbing lunch, I got my eyebrows waxed (after way too long, trust me!), and stopped by my long-distance love: Grocery Outlet β™₯. I stocked up on some $0.50 Chobani (why can’t it be like this in LA?!) and some produce like onions and zucchini that could easily be tucked into my already over-stuffed rollerboard.

After those necessary but fun errands, we made our last foodie-related stop of my trip at Grilled Chz.

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I’ve heard of grilled cheese-focused restaurants popping up here and there, but the dΓ©cor was over the top and right on theme inside this location!

inside_grilled_chz

Even though they had a make-your-own option with lots of toppings and cheeses to choose from, my sister and I kept it real and simple by going with one of the suggestions listed on the menu.

menu_grilled__chz

My sister ended up getting the Borderbob, which had pepper jack cheese, fritos, salsa, cilantro lime butter, all inside two slices of crusted white bread. It usually comes with chili, but since it had meat, she was able to get that taken out.

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I got the Veggie Chz, which ironically had no veggies whatsoever! It did have sharp cheddar cheese, pitted dates, walnuts, and raisins all mixed in between two slices of crispy and toasty multi-grain bread.

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This seriously had to be one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. I know that dried fruits and cheese tend to make a great food pairing, but I never actually thought of it in grilled cheese form! Thankfully these guys did, and I got to experience it!

veggiechz_closeup

After our cheesy lunch, we stopped by Kohl’s before driving over to the Amtrak station. I ended up leaving Fresno around 2PM and getting back to my apartment about five hours later—after a train, bus, and Metro Rail ride. Can’t complain, it comes with city life!

I still can’t believe that I saw my sister a week ago from today…this week went by crazy fast, and I have a feeling next week will go by at just the same rate. With classes finishing up and things in lab kicking in, I’m thankful for finding some time to spend with my best friend by blood πŸ™‚

1920 Tea Station on Urbanspoon Grilled Chz on Urbanspoon

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