Lady Birds

Lady Birds

I wasn’t able to hang out with my sis over the holidays, but we were quickly able to make that up last weekend! With the holiday shopping craze out of the way, she didn’t have to work and was able to spend the entire weekend with me.

We met up on Saturday and drove straight to NoHo for lunch. We had tried to eat at Black Bottom Southern Cafe over the summer, but we came on a Sunday (when they are closed), and so they were off our immediate radar for some time. Six months later isn’t too long of a wait, I’d say…

J'eet Yet?
J’eet Yet?

I wouldn’t even call BB a restaurant. The yellow building behind the “J’eet Yet?” billboard was actually a video store, and the actual “restaurant” was a small square order counter.

My sister and I were greeted immediately and were directed toward the laminated menus. We couldn’t decide what to order right away, and despite being a Southern food restaurant, they did have a couple vegetarian and vegan options that sounded delicious.

CA Veggie Bowl
CA SoulVeggie Bowl

I finally decided on the CA Soul Veggie Bowl, which had a cheesy grits base, topped with pickled black eyed peas (Texas Caviar, lol), greens, and fried okra.

Close-up!
Close-up!

My sister got the Portabello “Sliders”, and I joked that it should be in quotes since her sliders looked like a regular sandwich…it wasn’t even served on a mini hamburger bun like you’d expect.

Portabello "Sliders"...
Portabello “Sliders”…

Rather, it was a sandwich made on a Schiacciata (new word of the day!) roll filled with onion, garlic, cheese, pesto, and balsamic glaze. At least she got some crisp sweet potato fried on the side.

We took our time eating (we found seats outside near the back wall of the restaurant) and spent even more time chatting after we finished all of our food. It was weird dining in with take-out boxes, but I guess BB is primarily used to processing to-go orders, explaining the lack of washable dishwear.

After our lunch we decided to check out a movie and we agreed on Lady Bird. I was mainly intrigued by the plot because the protagonist is a high school girl living in the early 2000s in Sacramento. The movie was particularly relatable to us since my sis and I spent most of our lives growing up in Nor Cal, in a city very close to Sacramento. Actually, we unapollegetically call it Suckramento because it really was the most boring place ever, haha! But I will admit that we have a lot of good memories growing up in our small-town city.

We ended up watching the movie in an overpriced theater in Santa Monica, and getting out of the parking garage was a nightmare. Before heading home, we made a quick Target stop in Westwood to pick up some items for a care package my sis is making for her BF. She’s planning to give it to him for Valentine’s Day, basically a box containing all sorts of “care” things he may need but doesn’t have around, like first-aid kit items, cough drops, ibuprofen, etc. When she told me about it, I was literally dying from the cuteness of it all, haha!

Eventually we made it back home but I was dog-tired. Maybe it was sitting in the dark theater, but I just could not keep my eyes open. My sis was skyping her BF and told me the next day that even though she was talking pretty loudly, I was pretty much unconscious. I get serious when it comes to sleep, lol.

โ™ฆ

The next morning, we agreed to find a coffee shop close by and get some work done. She’s been doing some summer internship research and so I helped her polish off her CV.

Love Coffee Bar
Love Coffee Bar

We parked ourselves at Love Coffee Bar which was a coffee shop I’ve been wanting to check out ever since I moved to SaMo. I’ll admit it was overpriced, but I loved my spiced latte with almond milk.

Spiced Latte Love
Spiced Latte Love โ™ฅ

And having Emmy’s Organics Lemon Ginger Coconut Cookies on the side made for a perfect pairing.

emmys_lemonginger
Cookies on the side.

My sis had yet another sandwich, but it was that cute, cafe-sized mini baguette sandwich that went well with a huge cup of coffee.

Sunday coffee mornings.
Sunday coffee mornings.

We were working right outside the coffee shop for a while, and surprisingly didn’t get too distracted by the people coming and going…when it came to well-behaved, regal-looking dogs however…that was another story.

Later on we moved inside, and then in the early afternoon decided to walk to another place close by for lunch.

We walked through Santa Monica College to get to good ol’ Pico, in order to cross another place off my foodie list—Grey Block Pizza!

Grey Block Pizza, literally in a gray building.
Grey Block Pizza, literally in a gray building.

To be honest, the interior of the restaurant was quite depressing (I mean, it was gray after all…), but our pizzas weren’t.

Pizza at its finest.
Pizza at its finest.

My sis and I got a 20″ slice each. I’m not sure exactly which veggie-friendly flavors we got, since it was whatever they had on display. Mine had cheese olives, onions, and tomatoes while my sister’s looked to be like a slice with mostly mushroom, onion, and spinach. I was a fan of the crust, which was thinly rolled but, had a sesame seed coating at the edge.

After our bites of pizza, we walked back, and my sister drove me to Sprouts for a quick grocery stop before dropping me off and heading back to the OC.

I was glad to spend the first weekend of the new year with my lady bird ๐Ÿ™‚

Grey Block Pizza Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mission Viejo Escape

Mission Viejo Escape

Two weekends ago, I was gifted with the chance to spend a weekend with my sister in her Mission Viejo digs, as well as spend some time with Dad since he was going to be in town soon after for business.

I managed to have two of my undergrad assistants come in to take care of something for me over the weekend, so I would be able to make my visit an overnight one. I left on a Saturday afternoon, and arrived just as my sister was getting off work.

She picked me up from the Metrolink station, and from there, we hunted down dinner at Burger Boss.

Burger Boss, Mission Viejo
Burger Boss, Mission Viejo

My sister had been wanting to check it out, and we got the chance to do so since the location was close by. They actually have a number of locations around the OC. It also happened to be right next to a Creamistry, so you could guess what we had for dessert…

Putting our orders in was harder than it looked...
Putting our orders in was harder than it looked…

When we entered BB, we saw some LCD screens on the wall, as well as an order/paying counter wayyyy up at the front.  We decided to give the LCD screens a shot despite making a fool out of our orders—because the buttons were so hard to press, my sis ended up with four different kinds of cheeses on her veg burger and I ended up with two sauces in my burger bowl, haha!

Everything was aesthetically on point, no doubt about that.
Everything was aesthetically on point, no doubt about that.

I made sure put ALL THE VEGGIES AND FRUIT (pineapple, lol) in my burger bowl, on a bed of spinach. My sis’ burger was definitely not lacking in cheese.

Grilled pineapple and mushrooms <3
Grilled pineapple and mushrooms <3

Like I alluded to earlier in the post, we walked right next door to Creamistry after getting our fill of veggies and protein.

Saturday night at Creamistry, Mission Viejo
Saturday night at Creamistry, Mission Viejo

I was leaning towards ordering a nutella or speculoos flavored liquid nitrogen-based ice cream (per usual), but then my sister pointed out their Halloween special: black ice cream with cookie pieces. I was sold.

Of course, I had to top it off with mochi
Of course, I had to top it off with mochi

My sis, of course, had her beloved chocolate. We had our frozen treats inside instead of taking them to go. It was not surprising that we felt cold afterwards, haha.

My sister was adamant about making the next day a “study day”, since she had some exams coming up. I didn’t mind, since I had data to analyze anyways. The next morning, I met her at a Starbucks after a morning run. I had her bring my laptop and things over in the car, so it worked out perfectly ๐Ÿ˜›

We spent the morning working on our respective items, and when my sister suggested we get lunch, she didn’t have to tell me twice. To make things simple and local, we drove over to the Veggie Grill in Laguna Niguel.

Veggie Grill, Laguna Niguel
Veggie Grill, Laguna Niguel

I love how VG has seasonal menus—its makes my multiple visits to their various locations all the more worth it ๐Ÿ˜›

Fall '17 Menu
Fall ’17 Menu

This season’s menu seemed to offer a number of delicious-sounding options. I finally chose to get the Rustic Farm Bowl. My sis stuck to her fave chik’n ranch burger.

Rustic Farm Bowl -
Rustic Farm Bowl – farro, grilled mushrooms, roasted yams, braised cannellini beans, broccoli pesto, roasted tomatoes, red pepper sauce

The angles of the picture make it look like the bowl was a large one, but the contents were petite to my dismay. Still, it was quite filling! Just fibrous veggies doing their job I suppose…

Nature's protein-rich, starch-filled goods.
Nature’s protein-rich, starch-filled goods.

After lunch, we took a long afternoon nap and went out later in the evening to pick up some snacks to have at home so my sis could continue studying. Despite staying within my sister’s home turf and spending most of our time together at our laptops, it was a great weekend getaway for me. Mission Viejo is literally eye candy with its rolling hills and sunshine (although I will say it’s a runner’s nightmare—at least this runner’s nightmare, with all those hills!!)

Veggie Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Being in Barcelona, Part 2

Being in Barcelona, Part 2

Even though it was “just a park”, I would say that walking through Parc de la Ciutadella and just taking in the sights and sounds of all that was going around me was hands down my favorite part of my Barcelona day visit.  

I felt genuinely happy and at peace. It was as if time stood still, and this perfect afternoon existed for me to enjoy.

I may have been soaking in all of this serenity on my own (female solo traveler, heyyy), but I felt like I had struck gold in terms of having “properly toured” Barcelona.

Walking through
Walking through

I mean, the lush, green courtyard was full of gems…ahh, just typing this up makes me want to go back…

Walking around
Walking around Parc de la Ciutadella

I definitely selfie-d here, haha:

Like a palace in the park!
Like a palace in the park!

As I continued walking, I didn’t want to leave the idyllic park, but the Gothic Quarter was just a few blocks away and was calling to me.

Oh, and the beauty just continued:

Gothic Quarter
Gothic Quarter

I didn’t get to the beachy side of Barceloneta, but I did get in some gorgeous views of a marine dock.

By the dock
By the dock

It was late afternoon by the time I got to the dock, and since I was running low on my phone battery, I thought it would be best to head home and charge up before getting dinner later on that evening.

When I did head out for dinner, Vegetalia in the Gothic Quarter was my destination, so pretty much the area was in just before. I took a bus again, and used Google Maps to navigate my way through some alleyways lined with shops and cafes. It was 6pm, and the hip neighborhood was starting to grow in crowds.

I waked past Vegetalia for a few blocks, but eventually found it tucked away surrounding a giant outdoor seating area.

Vegetalia
Vegetalia

I read before leaving for Spain that Barcelona has a bunch of cool vegan-friendly places to check out. Vegetalia stuck out to me the most since I saw it made quite a few appearances on Instagram. Especially for their paella…

Menu
Menu

It wasn’t too crowded, but their were other tourists around as well. A German couple sat in front of me, at least based on what I could tell from their conversation. In order to avoid mispronouncing anything and embarrasing myself, I simply pointed to “Paella vegetal de arroz integral” when the waited came by my table.

It only took like 15 minutes or so before a hot, steaming pan filled with bubbling rice and veggies (including artichoke hearts!) arrived at my table. Because it was so hot temperature-wise, I took the time to savor each bite and the flavors.

Vegan Paella ๐Ÿฅ˜ exists! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. "Paella vegetal de arroz integral" was served hot, included a generous amount of artichoke hearts, and was certainly filling ๐Ÿด๐Ÿ˜‹
Vegan Paella ๐Ÿฅ˜ exists! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. “Paella vegetal de arroz integral” was served hot, included a generous amount of artichoke hearts, and was certainly filling ๐Ÿด๐Ÿ˜‹

After my meal, I slowly walked back through the alleyways to the bus stop I got off at. The sun was setting and people were stirring about. It was a Saturday night the crowds outside were definitely warming up for some night adventure. I didn’t mind heading back to home base though, since I did want to get a run in the morning before leaving for Sitges in the afternoon.

I had heard about the La Merce 5k/10k run that was going on, but I wasn’t able to register in time. Part of me wanted to just show up at the race start and see if I could still participate, but I decided to just go with the flow and worry about it in the morning.

Have you ever visited Spain? Barcelona?

The Green Temple

The Green Temple

Sunday was the first day in forever (well, since my visit to Tulsa) that I did NOT have to go in to lab.

Yup, I did not have to set one foot on campus the entire day, which was entirely shocking but so refreshing!

I slept in (till 8am, haha), and got ready at my own pace to head down to Redondo Beach. The sun was out, and the temperature was warm enough for eating, grocery shopping, and walking by the beach.

I was meaning to visit the Green Temple restaurant the next time I was in RB, and Sunday happened to be the perfect day just for that. The bus ride(s) took almost two hours one-way, but at least it gave me enough time to form a large enough appetite!

The restaurant was picturesque—enveloped by green shrubbery, fountains, and statues. There was indoor, outdoor, and patio seating, but the patio seating looked to be the best option.

peaceful

I was given a menu, and honestly did not know where to begin. I finally chose to get nachos, even though there were lots more creative entrees to choose from. But I had to go with my gut and cravings, and they were simply happy with having a plate of crisp chips with melted cheese, black beans, and salsa.

thegreentemple

Since it wasn’t an appetizer, I ordered the full-size plate. The chips were actually freshly-cut tortillas in the shape of triangles. They still had a slight chewiness to them, so that’s how I knew ๐Ÿ˜‰

nachosssss

The entire dish was quite filling, and even though it wasn’t something that’s usually thought of as a naturally vegetarian dish, it was certainly nourishing enough to be so.

After my meal, I window-shopped while I made my way to the Trader Joe’s nearby. I was able to purchase everything necessary for the upcoming week grocery-wise, and thought about stopping by the Yogurtland next door before heading home.

froyo

Obviously by the looks of it, my froyo-positive thoughts won me over, and I packed a cup with four different flavors, plus some of my favorite toppings (mochi, cheesecake bites, poppers).

I was still out as the Super Bowl started, and as I walked to the bus stop, I could hear the opening ceremonies blaring from TVs at a local pub and restaurant. I was in no rush to get home, but I managed to get back while there was still daylight…at 5pm. It’s February, and it already feels like summer!

Green Temple Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

High Brew Coffee

High Brew Coffee

Disclaimer: I was not monetarily paid to write this review. This review is based on the products and information I received from High Brew Coffee. All opinions are my own.

Itโ€™s hard to believe that I am midway through my first semester as a grad student, and while the time seems to have flown by, the days themselves donโ€™t always feel that way—especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have two-hour classes in the morning and late afternoon.

I have been having at least two cups of coffee a day during the work week, and am usually able to manage without it on the weekends. Even though the caffeine doesnโ€™t have a โ€œrealโ€ effect on me, I think that the act of sipping on a warm beverage during a 3pm lecture is what keeps me semi-awake.

But even though I have long-associated a warm cup of coffee to be my afternoon-pick-me-up, I wasnโ€™t afraid to give cold-brew coffee a try. I was sent over some samples from High Brew Coffee a few weeks ago, and was eager to give all four flavors a go!

SAMSUNG

At first, I thought cold-brew just meant cold coffee (like iced coffee?), but I was naively in the wrong. After a little bit of research, I discovered for myself that the cold-brew process involves coffee beans to be soaked in water for a lengthy amount of time. The water can be chilled or at room temperature, and after being filtered, the coffee is ready to be used as one wishes. You can get more details about High Brew’s version here.

The result is a less bitter, and naturally sweeter beverage.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

I had Dark Chocolate Mocha before heading out to the musical last Friday, and after trying all flavors, I would say this one was my most favorite. It didn’t taste like coffee, but more like a rich, dark liquid chocolate drink.

SAMSUNG

Double Espresso on the other hand didn’t score so high for me. Despite having sugar AND stevia in the mix, it just tasted too bitter to me and I could not detect much flavor.

SAMSUNG

I had Salted Caramel before going out for a morning run, and I was able to taste the salty โ€˜nโ€™ spicy caramel. Definitely what I needed to hold me over until I could get a Quest bar in me post-run ๐Ÿ˜‰

SAMSUNG

Mexican Vanilla sounded pretty exotic, but it actually was quite tame—with just a hint of sweetness and smooth taste. This flavor seemed to be the most like iced coffee from the bunch, since it tasted perfect ice cold!

SAMSUNG

With my second set of exams coming up next week, Iโ€™ll probably have to restock on these! And I guess it wouldn’t hurt to perhaps experiment with the process myselfโ€ฆif I have the time ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

Have you tried High Brew Coffee, or cold-brew coffee in general?

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