Back in August…

Back in August…

Man, I have a TON of posts to catch up on! But if I procrastinate any longer, I proably won’t even remember enough about the pictures I have to write about them…better late than ever.

Also goes to show that being busy enough not to blog means that life things are picking up, and have me occupied in a good way. I have some big travel plans coming up in a few weeks (work-related, but still exciting!), and I’m looking forward to what that experience will bring.

In the meantime, I’ll reflect back on what I was doing in early August, right after my b-day celebrations and my sister’s arrival back in Cali. It was my last weekend with the car in my possession, but I didn’t have the desire to drive out too far…

Actually, there was a lot going on locally. The USC Village was something that was under construction for a long time now, near the downtown area. Since it’s grand opening was scheduled for mid-August to coincide with move-in day, some of the stores and restaurants had soft openings a week prior. One of the restaurants was CAVA…funny how I visited the Santa Monica location only days before!

CAVA, USC Village
CAVA, USC Village

For their soft opening, the CAVA at USC Village was giving away free food from 12-2pm! I stood in line with some of my labmates for almost 1.5 hours, but since I knew the kind of food we would be getting wasn’t some cheap meal, I had to begrudgingly admit that it was worth it.

CAVA Menu
CAVA Menu

Although…by the time we got inside and were able to place our orders, they had run out of flatbread. We all opted for grain bowls, and I had mine based with lentils, the spicy veggies and all of the other crisp veggie toppings. I think I opted for some lemon dressing this time around instead of the apricot sriracha, but it fit well with what ended up being a warm salad bowl.

Grain Bowl!
Grain Bowl!

I ate my late lunch with E before we continued on with our work day.

When Saturday rolled around, I first drove to Sprouts after a morning run to pick up a snack. I’ve been on a GoMacro bar kick lately (my latest bar obsession), and Sprouts carries their Everlasting Joy flavor, the proceeds of which go to help the homeless.

GoMacro Everlasting Joy
GoMacro Everlasting Joy

I love their chocolate chip/nut butter flavors, so this was an instant favorite of mine. I mean, coconut flakes added to either of those types of flavors can only make it better.

I worked in lab for some of the morning, and since E was also finishing up some stuff, we finished around noon and walked over to where I parked the car to drive off to lunch.

She suggested earlier in the week that we both share a Turkish Breakfast at Mama’s Secret, a cozy, Turkish establishment very close to Beverly Connection.

Anyone got $1,000 for breakfast??
Anyone got $1,000 for breakfast??

Maybe if we combined a good chunk of our monthly income, we could have split the $1,000 pancakes…but we weren’t feeling too rich that day, haha!

What we could afford vs. what we couldn't
What we could afford vs. what we couldn’t

Nah, the Turkish Breakfast and cheese-stuffed flatbread not only sounded affordable, but well-rounded and filling for two people.

The Turkish breakfast was served with an assortment of cheeses, veggies, turkey slices (that we left alone), and flatbread. The sauces/dips were filled in cups and included hummus, tahini, honey, jam, nutella, and a ricotta-looking cheese curd.

TURKISH BREAKFAST
TURKISH BREAKFAST

And of course we had some warm tea…

The cheese-stuffed flatbread was my favorite, even though it wasn’t part of the breakfast platter. It came out already cut out in small portions so it was easy to split.

One of the cheese-stuffed flatbreads they offered. I believe ours was spiced with parsley and basil.
One of the cheese-stuffed flatbreads they offered. I believe ours was spiced with parsley and basil.

I had no idea that these cheese-filled flatbreads were a staple of Turkish cuisine, but my friend confirmed this foodie fact. I’d go as far as to say it’s one of my new favorite dishes now!

E was meeting some other friends for a movie-in-the-park event (one that I actually went to myself for a friend’s birthday last year…) so I dropped her off before heading home. I felt tired enough to go to sleep early, but I did have a night dessert before turning in.

That Snickerdoodle Dough
That Snickerdoodle Dough

Nada Moo’s Snickerdoodle is cream was soft and creamy, but the lack of dough pieces was a huge disappointment and sub-par in comparison to So Delicious’ offering. Ah well, they tried…

What your current food obsession?

Have you ever had a Turkish breakfast?

Mama's Secret Bakery & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I Love You More Than Cupcakes (and Free Food and Mediterranean Bowls)

I Love You More Than Cupcakes (and Free Food and Mediterranean Bowls)

Last Sunday ended up being a low-key day, despite my plans to head to SaMo for a run and a brunch at some new-to-me place. I guess the heat from the previous day’s adventures got to me, as well as the voice inside my head telling me I should do some studying so that I wouldn’t be playing catch-up later in the week. I was also feeling a bit of loneliness, and honestly, I just didn’t feel like stepping out on a solo adventure that day. 

But a close family friend must have sensed my thoughts, because she sent the most adorable sign accompanied by a lovely letter: 

sundaylove
No new-to-me restaurant on Sunday, but I did have a new-to-me bar! This thinkThin Lean Protein & Fiber Chunky Chocolate Peanut bar was a $0.50 steal from Ralph’s (after their sale + my coupon). It was my “impulse/going-grocery-shopping-when-hungry” purchase. 

Snail mail can provide the best solutions sometimes…and so can free food. On Tuesdays, my apartment complex gives out free food, and so I spent 45 minutes in line to get a cup of the one thing that was vegetarian. There were also mini tortillas available, but that became a huge no-no to grab since the cooks placed them on the same surface as the chicken/beef that was being cooked for taco fillings.  

SAMSUNG

At least this rice made for a decent, packable lunch for me to bring to school the next day. Mixed with some tahini, it was actually not that bad.

The rest of the week went by so quickly, it all seems like a blur now. Between studying, eating, and sleeping, I also had to make a trip out to meet a potential lab rotation mentor for my first rotation on Friday. I’m not surprised that my busy schedule has already started to effect me. Even though I had plans to go for a morning run before 9 am on Saturday, I just did not want to get up. Instead I slept in until 8:30, made myself a cup of tea-infused hot milk, and finished organizing my laundry from Friday night. 

onesaturdaymorning

I still managed to get a weights work-out in at the gym, and after slowly getting ready, decided to continue with my plans for the day: lunch in Pasadena!

To get there, I started off at Union Station in order to connect to the Gold Line. After learning that fare prices are increasing starting on the 15th, I knew I had to make the most of my trip! It also got me thinking…why did they have to wait until after I moved to increase prices? 

goldline
Waiting for the train.

The time it took me to get from Union Station to Lake Station was about 24 minutes, but with a growling stomach and a sleepy head, it felt much longer. And after getting off, the heat wave outside felt unbearable—but I had to remind myself, food was waiting for me just a mile ahead! 

I got into such a heavy rhythm of walking that I almost missed my destination. If I had not turned my head at the corner, I would have missed the discrete Real Food Daily sign! 

SAMSUNG

I stopped to take a look at the menu outside, and went in confidently with my order in mind. 

SAMSUNG

At the counter, I ordered an item from their salad selection, specifically the Mediterranean Bowl. Flatbread and feta sounded so appetizing at the time, especially alongside a cool salad. 

Since the inside of the restaurant was packed, I volunteered to sit outside, which wasn’t so bad at all since there was shade and I had the whole area to myself. 

SAMSUNG

Out of all of the vegan restaurants I’ve visited in LA so far, this establishment has to be the quickest in terms of food delivery. Despite the busy crowds, my food came to the table within ten minutes.

Arugula, tomato, avocado, lemon herb Za’atar dressing, cucumber kalamata salsa, white bean basil salad, quinoa tabouli, almond feta, whole wheat Za’atar flatbread
Arugula, tomato, avocado, lemon herb Za’atar dressing, cucumber kalamata salsa, white bean basil salad, quinoa tabouli, almond feta, whole wheat Za’atar flatbread

I loved the almond feta dollop in the middle, and did a pretty good job of “eating my veggies first” so I could save the feta and coat my bread with it.

Details

It took me a while to get to the bottom of the bowl, but the mission was accomplished.

SAMSUNG

I also took my time eating because I wanted to savor my time in the shade before absolutely having to get back out in the sun. You’d think that after I heard about how there would be a heat wave over the weekend on the news, I’d make plans to head west and cool off at the beach, but no—I go and do the exact opposite and head even more east.

Oh well. The sights in Pasadena are well worth it. 

 Stopping at the Vitamin Shoppe for my weekly box of Quest bars / taking a break in the shade near some bank or corporate building / approaching Colorado Blvd.
Stopping at the Vitamin Shoppe for my weekly box of Quest bars / taking a break in the shade near some bank or corporate building / approaching Colorado Blvd.

I made my way down Colorado Blvd. to eventually get to the Memorial Park Station. As I waited for the train, I admired the intriguing artwork hanging from above:

memorialparkstation

I made it back to Union Station within 20 minutes, but had to wait another hour for a shuttle to get back home. In the meantime, I people-watched…since there are some pretty interesting characters using public transport 😛 . There was this one guy trying to sell off his day-pass or something, and it got serious enough that a lady reported him to security and from there…it just turned out interesting. Such is city life!

Is there a huge heat wave right now where you live?

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