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?
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 🙂
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 😛
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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 😉
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.
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.
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.
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 😛
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 😉
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 😀
Memorial Day Weekend was such a blast! Having company over twice this month has made time fly by so quickly, which is great since that means I’m almost done with the specific set of experiments that have been requiring so much time from me as of late…
My weekend started off with a productive Friday in lab, and before heading home, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some essentials so I wouldn’t have to worry about it when my friend arrived. I also “had” to get my pint for the night—Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Froyo! Can you believe that it was my firsttime trying this?!
The mix of chocolate and vanilla frozen yogurt was perfect, and how can you go wrong with moist, chewy bite-size pieces of brownies mixed with cookie dough?! I can see why it’s so popular. In fact, I witnessed a girl clean out a local Fresh & Easy of all the pints they had of this flavor one night, stating to her friends that it’s so hard for her to find, haha.
On Saturday, my friend drove down to visit me for the weekend! Since she wasn’t expecting to arrive in the city before 2PM, that gave me plenty of time to take of my lab duties in the morning. The timing actually worked out quite precisely since I had enough time to finish, make it back to the apartment, change into some flip flops, and meet my friend to let her into the parking garage.
She was able to also stop by my parents’ house before driving down, so she brought plenty of goods from home for me to unpack (discount yogurts, oh yeah!). We also spent an hour chatting it up and catching up, since the last time I saw her was back in December/January!
Once we took care of unpacking, we decided to walk around DTLA and have dinner near Little Tokyo. The weather was overcast—not too cold, not too warm—and so it made so much sense to go out for some fresh air by going for a refreshing walk.
We eventually made our way to the Little Tokyo Mall, and stopped in Daiso just to browse around. We spotted so many cute things, like miniature silverware, coffee mugs, and happy trashcans.
For dinner, we actually ended up eating at Shojin, the vegan sushi place I reviewed three years ago on an old blog of mine.
And while there were some minor changes I noticed in this visit when compared to my intial one, the dim lighting was unfortunately not one of them…the menu was though!
It was now more sophisticated, simply printed on cardstock in a professional font. Long gone are the days of anime-style animals and characters on the cover of a laminated folding menu.
The bathroom was just as cute, pink, and adorable as before…
Even though this place is known for their all-vegan sushi rolls, my friend and I chose to get non-roll menu items. Specifically, I went for the Marinated Seitan Steak while my friend feasted on the gluten-free Avocado Tempura Salad.
The marinated seitan steak was comprised of grilled seitan cutlets (with grill marks too!), topped with butter, and served with brown rice and three humble pieces of veggies on the side. The salad had tempura avocado, greens, almonds, wasabi mayo, and sweet tomato dressing.
Even though our table was set with chopsticks, I was given a knife and fork to attack my seitan cutlets, haha.
We walked off dinner by taking a long walk home, and then spent the rest of the evening chillin’ in the apartment before going to sleep around 10PM.
On Sunday, I checked off my usual to-do items such as a long run, and lab duties, but was free once again in the afternoon. We stopped by a local grocery store so my friend could pick up an ice cream pint for our ‘ice cream party’ later in the evening.
Soon after that, we were off on the bus for a late, late lunch/early dinner at Urban Garden near the Grove.
It was an hour-long commute, so we were starving by the time we arrived. We spent a good amount of time staring at the menu. Even though the main offerings were predominantly plates and wraps, there was a wide variety of possible combinations—so it was hard to come to a final decision!
I eventually went with a vegetable hearty plate with spicy falafel, babaganoush, and golden cous cous. My friend also got a plate with hummus and cucumber salad as the ‘main stars’.
Apparently this establishment takes pride in having serving the best hummus in LA, and my friend was a sure fan. I wouldn’t say they made the best babaganoush I’ve ever tasted, but it was certainly up there, and quite nourishing.
Between the two of us, we did a pretty good job.
Needless to say, we left with full bellies and content hearts. We walked over to Vitamin Shoppe, and then stopped inside Sur La Table before continuing our walk down 3rd St. We walked through the park next to the Grove, and stopped to take a look at the Holocaust Memorial.
Our super long walk eventually got us to Wilshire, where we decided to call it a day and head back home—ice cream was waiting for us, after all!
We were able to take the train home, and after taking showers and changing into our jammies, we busted open our ice cream pints!
I found the Peanut Buttah Cookie Core the same day I found the Half Baked Froyo pint, and saved it just for this occasion. I was on cloud nine eating through this peanut butter ice cream mixed with crystallized peanut butter cookie bits and a cookie butter core. Swoon!
I couldn’t have asked for a better evening with my friend—eating our ice cream pints while watching 500 Questions may have been the most simplest thing to do, but it felt just right. Sometimes the most unappreciated things we do on a daily basis are much more meaningful when you have company to do them with 🙂
What was your Memorial Day Weekend like this year?