I don’t think I ever got the memo that Spring was coming fast this year. I literally woke up on Saturday morning wondering how on earth it was so bright at 6am all of a sudden??
After getting my blood flowing with a morning run, I proceeded to make the most of my Saturday by showering, putting on a summer-worthy outfit (shorts + a breezy knit tee!), and heading out the door well before 9am. I had to make a stop in lab before heading out for the afternoon.
I had a desire to venture out into DTLA for once, since it’s been a while I had it as a set lunch destination. I ended up taking the train/subway to Pershing Square, a little east of 7th St/Metro, closer to old downtown.
A lot of the places I’ve bookmarked in my foodie bucket list were actually lined up along Main St….as if they all knew I’d arrive one day ready to embark on a culinary tour through downtown! My focus that day, however, was set on having lunch at Spread Mediterranean Kitchen.
There was barely anyone inside when I arrived, and I was shocked. Inside, it was cool, calming, and the decor just brought about a very chill vibe.
The menu is very simple, and build-your-own style entrees take center-stage. The base can be a flatbread wrap, rice salad greens, or hummus with flatbread. I picked hummus with flatbread.
To top your base, there is everything from falafel to meatballs to chicken to braise to mushrooms. I picked the roasted mushroom medley with garlic, herbs, and sumac.
Finally, all of this is prepared in a certain style. There’s more of the hummus route, cooling tzatziki, cheesy za’atar, or spicy harissa yogurt. I went with the ‘cheesey & spicy’ style that contained feta lebneh & jalapeno spread, spicy slaw, pickled red onion, and harissa spiked yogurt.
This whole combination ended up with a plate like below:
And of course, my flatbread came seasoned and freshly-folded in a printed paper sheet.
The mushrooms were roasted in a dark, orange-colored oil that carried so much flavor. This mixed well with the hummus, refreshing dollop of lebneh, and crunchy slaw. The flatbread was just an accessory—if I still had half a plate of hummus left after eating all of the flatbread, I would have had no issue at all!
I had wiped the bowl clean in no time at all, and I would have spent more time mourning over how quickly I feasted on this scrumptious meal, but the gorgeous spring weather outside was beckoning me. I found myself again on Main St., with an interest in keeping this “foodie tour” going. My next stop was going to fulfill a “sudden” cupcake craving I had developed…
Were you expecting spring to come so soon this year?
Since Sunday was the last day of summer— the last day before the semester began again—I made it a priority to go out for a late lunch, even if it meant a boring, hour-long mid-day bus ride to Atwater Village in Glendale. When classes start, work multiplies by a bajillion, so I was anxious to squeeze in as much relaxation/carefree time within 24 hours…
I don’t count my lab work as real work (since working on a project has more structure and meaning than reading countless papers for class…), even on the weekends 😉
So after lab and the bus ride, I had to walk through a residential area to finally get onto Glendale Ave.
As I continued forth on the road, I passed by local boutiques, a dance studio, and finally found Dune Kitchen…the place I hoped would have something to appease the sudden Mediterranean food craving I developed in the days leading up to the weekend.
Dune Kitchen would have been so difficult to find if I had not seen a picture for its exterior prior to my visit. Inside, the gray, unassuming theme continued onwards. The only inside seating was bar-style, but there were tables outside right in front.
I made my order for a hummus + falafel plate at the cash register, and as soon as I found a seat, my plate came out in all of its glory. Not a minute was wasted, and that’s just how I like it 😉
There were some condiments and hot sauce at the counter, but unadulterated hummus is the way to go if you ask me.
It was hard not to take countless pictures from different angles of this beauty of a plate.
There were three spinach-flavored falafels, with sauce drizzled over them…
…spicy cabbage and onions (<—the onions were my favorite!!)
The star of the plate at the center: hummus with chickpeas in sauce:
And a fun assortment of diced pickles 🙂
I even found a miniature flower in the middle of my greens!
The pita bread was soft, pliable, and just so perfect with the hummus, which honestly was hard to split among my three falafel and veggies in the plate! I made it all work in the end though…maybe too perfectly since by the time I demolished my plate, I realized how insane my hummus craving was. 😛
Last weekend, I ran in my first night race. Actually, it ended up being more of an evening race, but if I had instead raced in the Half Marathon Wave 2, then I may have finished under the moonlight. Nevertheless, the race was still a new and enjoyable experience.
Since my race was at 7:30PM versus AM, I had to take a different (and perhaps more careful) approach with fueling on race day. I had a late lunch as a result: a piece of flatbread made of plain pizza dough, with a side of steamed veggies flavored with spices and coconut flakes. I also had some greek yogurt with Kashi cereal (unpictured).
After my meal, I took a 45 minute nap before leaving with my Dad, friend, and sis around 5:00PM for the race venue. Along the way, my Dad wanted to make a pit stop at a roadside produce place since we had the time. Also on the “things to do before the race” list was getting my eyebrows threaded, and dinner for the gang. Since I didn’t want to eat anything too soon before the race, I got my eyebrows threaded while everyone had sandwiches from Subway. All of this occupied our time until around 6:30PM, when at that point we actually drove over to the race venue.
This race had so many different start times that I almost freaked out about misreading my start time. By the time we got to the parking area, we could see the runners from Wave 1 of the Half Marathon already running towards us, full speed ahead.
Because the lot we were headed towards was full by the time we got around the runners, my Dad dropped the girls and I off, and we slowly made our way around the DMG Mori building towards packet pick-up—doing our best to keep our steps within the boundaries of shade.
After receiving my bib and shirt (which was in a lovely shade of blue!), I shuffled the girls to an area of shade near the start line. We also had a clear view of the wall of porta potties, and the bouncy houses behind us. We were rooted in this area when the start for the kid’s fun mile was announced. Despite the weather being quite hot, the kids were full of energy and didn’t seem to complain at all. They all just seemed to be focused on the getting to the finish, where a ribbon and sno-cone were waiting for their arrival.
All three of us were beginning to get antsy with just standing around, so I suggested that we walk past the bouncy houses, since I sensed a couple of booths were stationed behind them! And indeed there were—boxes of things from free mini body washes to mini trail mix packs were being handed out. Being a group of cheap, frugal girls headed back to school, you know we stocked up!
As we delved further and further into the booth fair, we found ourselves getting lost in the crowds. How could it be avoided when there were masseuses ready to have people sign up for post-race massages, and sweaty kids standing in line for their post-race sno-cone treat?
It took some time to persuade the girls to get into the freebie revelry, but once I had them each approach the KIND bar booth and get a KIND bar “for me”, they were soon victims of the freebie-collecting bug 😉 .
So of course the freebies quest kept us busy until I had to head over to the start line. We left right on the dot at 7:30PM with a sun still high in the sky and the air as warm as ever—it was, after all, 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The 5kers were instructed to hang back until 7:45, since the roads would be packed for the first mile or 2 with just 10kers and wave 2 half marathoners alone.
Mile 1– Navigating in between hundreds of runners can be quite the challenge, only because it’s so annoying. Right when you think you’ve found “your space”, you land right behind someone running 30 seconds slower than your target pace. I thought that with all this navigating, my pace would be slowed, but it was actually quite the opposite. (9:07/mi)
Mile 2 – The heat was beginning to catch up to me, and I came across the first water station where I grabbed a cup and drank it down chipmunk style. I still managed to maintain a consistent pace, according to Garmin. (9:02/mi)
Mile 3 – I was starting to get bored. I finally got the space I wanted, but I was now running on a woodsy park trail, and it was difficult to discern when it would end. (9:16/mi)
Mile 4– I approached the second water station with my eyes directly oriented towards a specific volunteer. I couldn’t get all of the water in my mouth, so I ended up just splashing it on my heated skin and bib. It then looked like I had an awkward area of sweat on my shirt, but I just had to keep going. Given how warm it was still, I had to assume that my shirt would dry in no time at all. (9:19/mi)
Mile 5 – The end was so near…we pretty much looped around and ran back across a bridge that we had to cross in the very beginning. There was a nice breeze sweeping over all of us runners, and the sun was just starting to set. If I had my phone with me at the time (and the dexterity), I would have certainly taken a picture of the gorgeous view from the bridge. My pace quickened up again, thanks to the descent. (9:05/mi)
Mile 6– Why does the last mile always have to be so tough? I was ready to call it a day, surprised by the amount of sweat I had perspired over the past hour. I don’t think I sweat that much in a race ever…not even during my half marathons! (9:05/mi)
According to my Garmin, I completed the race with an overall average pace of 9:06/mi. Looking at my pace chart, it looks like I had a lot more speedy spikes after the 3 mile mark…
After gulping down large water bottle (and surprisingly not getting a scolding from my bladder!), I learned that it was around 8:30PM and I was more than ready to head home. The girls were already waiting in the car, and so my Dad and I walked about a half mile to get to where the car was parked. As we were driving back, I could not resist taking a picture of the evening sky. It had finally started to cool down, and rolling down the windows as we approached the highway was definitely a good idea 😉
Once I got home around 9:30PM, I had my late dinner and admired my shirt.
As well as the goods that (my friends and) I collected.
For my first “night” race, it was a pleasant-enough experience. Based on recaps I read about this race from past years, this year was relatively mild, though perhaps only by a smidgen since I crossed the finish line with probably enough sweat to fill five water bottles. Sorry if that’s TMI…I might be exaggerating too 😉
It’s all over the news, and boy was it unexpected, tragic, and a lot of other unfortunate things, but after hearing about the events in Boston yesterday, I was speechless…and still am. I watched the elite women start the race on TV around 6:30am, admiring the form of the Kenyans and Ethiopians, while cheering on Goucher and Flanagan. Who knew things would take a drastic turn a few hours later? As a runner, I may not truly know how it feels to accomplish the Boston Marathon, but I understand that it is a momentous event for any runner who qualifies and is able to go and finish the race. It’s upsetting and frustrating to see that a careless and selfish act affected so many people, and also ruined what was supposed to be a treasured day for a lot of people. My ♥ goes out to everyone who was affected.
The real purpose of this post is light-hearted, so let me just jump into that…
I saw this survey on a few blogs (particularly Dixya’s and Khushboo’s), and couldn’t resist joining in on the fun.
1) What are the three fave things in your fridge/freezer right now?
1) Limited Edition Skinny Cow CUPCAKE BATTER SUNDAE CUPS (2 for a $1!!), 2) My tub of clearance Fage greek yogurt, 3) Driscoll’s strawberries:
2) What’s the one thing you always have on hand?
Greek yogurt. Well, that’s how it’s been for I dunno…the last six months?
3) What’s one thing you’d never have?
Meat. I have always been a vegetarian, so seitan, tempeh, and tofu are fine enough for me :)!
4) If you had an unlimited supply of anything, what would that be?
Hmm…if I had to be specific, perhaps Quest Bars! Those babies are expensive (yet so good!) so if I had an unlimited supply, it would give my paycheck I sigh of relief!
5) What’s your go-to market and what do you get there?
GROCERY OUTLET, BARGAIN MARKET :)! I’ll get clearance yogurts (Chobani if I’m lucky), energy bars, ice creams, and sometimes frozen dinners (like vegan evol burritos and wraps :P!)
6) What ingredient are you currently loving?
Hmmm…I wouldn’t say I’m currently loving this, but garlic salt is one of my favorite ingredients. I love the flavor it adds to roasted corn and grilled vegetables!
7) What’s your favorite thing to whip up at home?
One thing fun I whipped up over the weekend was a baked sweet potato coated with a dollop of five spice hummus. It was beyond-words good, and I’ll probably make it again if I’m super hungry and want something quickly. Perhaps I’ll fancy it up a bit so it would be worth posting about ;).
8) Any songs you like cooking to?
I have plenty of songs I like running to! My music taste is all over the map, and it my favorite songs change as quickly as I shed skin cells :P! Right now I’m all about running to ZUMBA music.
9) What are the best items to have on hand for a quick and easy dinner?
Any mix of vegetables, since they can be easily steamed, flavored, microwaved, etc. Slap a slab or two of flatbread on the side, and you’ve got a humble meal.
10) What are your favorite kind of leftovers?
I love bread-based meal leftovers, since they can be stored in the fridge/freezer and are pretty hearty. I also love bottom of jar leftovers (like yogurt containers or nut butter jars) because I love adding toppings to them and eating on the go!
11) Fill in the blank: If I’m cooking to impress, I make….
I don’t think I’ve ever been a situation where I had to cook to impress. If I need to make something for a potluck or similar food-related event, I like to use ingredients I already have, and attempt to make something that tastes like it was planned from the beginning.
12) What’s your condiment of choice?
Ketchup is always a winner in my book, but Braggs Liquid Aminos is pretty awesome too.
13) What’s the strangest thing in your fridge at the moment?
It’s not that strange, but this jar has been hiding out in the back of our fridge for quite some time…
14) When a midnight snack attack strikes, what’s the plan?
I’m not a midnight snacker since I usually go to bed around 10pm, but these have been tempting me after dinner lately…
What’s the strangest thing in YOUR fridge at the moment?