Shoutfest at The Spoon

Shoutfest at The Spoon

Last week flew right on by! I took the first three days of the week fully off to recover from the marathon and let my muscles, black toe nail, and heel blister rest. I was able to get back into a running groove with some short runs, and actually felt quite refreshed!

Since E was in lab over the weekend (as was I, haha), we decided to convene for a late lunch in Koreatown after finishing up our work. We left around 2pm, but didn’t sit down to eat until about an hour later, since the restaurant we’d thought about visiting was closed for filming…despite there not being any signs/security guards indicating that the restaurant was closed to the public.

Since we were getting quite hungry, Korean-Italian sounded delicious and we immediately walked towards Wilshire/Western.

The Spoon was actually right across from the Paris Baguette I visited back in September after running a 10k in Koreatown. I remember noticing it at the time and thought how cute it looked…I then promptly forgot about it, until coming here now with E.

The Spoon
The Spoon in Koreatown

Inside, the set-up was sleek, yet adorable at the same time. Two adjectives that can only be used to describe a Korean fusion restaurant I suppose…

Menu and inside-of-restaurant peep.
Menu and inside-of-restaurant peep.

We both were unsure about what entree to get, so we decided to get a 10″ pizza and split it.

We waited a while for the pizza to show up, but in the meantime we sipped on some waters and tried to cool off from the brisk walk we had outside under the hot LA sun. It reminded me of how hot it got during the september 10k!

When our pizza arrived, we were more than ready to dig in. E’s a pescatarian, so it was easy to choose a pizza that satisfied both of us—the “Fresh Garden Pizza” was a thin crust pizza with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese cubes, onion, mushroom, zucchini, bell pepper, chopped romaine lettuce (that’s a first for me…), and roman tomato. The pizza was sliced up into ten almost-equivalent slices.

I actually like the crisp, cool touch of the lettuce. The cheese cubes were cute too.

Fresh Garden Vegetabe
Fresh Garden Pizza!!!

After devouring every slice but one, we got a waiter over to prepare the bill. As he turned to walk away, I asked that he split it but then E piped in right away instructing him not to do so. From that point on it was shout-fest between me and her, scaring the poor guy and confusing him as to whether he should split the bill or not.

Ultimately, E won since he said they could only put $10 minimum on a card. Our pizza was $18. So E had her way and pizza was on her—this time 😉

How often do you like going out to eat with friends?

Are your friends willing to split the bill, or is it always a battle when it comes to whose paying?

The Spoon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

24 Hours till Race Start

24 Hours till Race Start

The Pasta Party hosted by Team Challenge was held on the top floor of the LINQ the Saturday night of race weekend. It was slightly embarrassing for me at first because all of the staff/mentors from various chapters across the US were gathered by the front doors to the dining room, cheering really loudly. It was well-intended though…it just felt really awkward for me for about ten seconds!

Once inside, I found my chapter and saved my spot before getting in line for the buffet. I ended up piling up on the buttered winter veggies and salad, and picked out two desserts (a fruit cream tart of some sort and a chocolate mousse).

 Food at the pasta party
Food at the pasta party

As the party progressed, these were a lot of announcements made and inspirational stories shared. After the party, everyone separated and met with their local chapters. I ended up meeting with the LA/OC/Nor Cal chapters in a combined meeting, and we were out by 9:30pm.

 Team Challenge pasta party
Team Challenge pasta party

My Dad was still in the hotel room and super hungry when I got back, so we ventured downstairs where he got some pizza (and I finished off the crust!). I was starting to feel sleepy, but we spent some time at the slot machines again since we were already down there. Once again, Vegas was getting the best of us!

After a restful night’s sleep, we woke up Saturday morning with a hankering for some coffee. The closest Starbucks was at Harrah’s next door, so that’s where we headed.

 Getting coffee on a Sunday morning
Getting coffee on a Sunday morning

We split a coffee, then walked towards the monorail station to pay a visit to the Paris and Bellagio hotels. This weekend was also unfortunately the weekend the tragic events in Paris took place, but inside Paris in Vegas, everything seemed calm and gorgeous as ever.

 Walking through Paris...Vegas
Walking through Paris…Vegas

I would say it was one of my favorite hotel casinos—if not the only one—in Vegas.

 Je suis Paris
Je suis Paris

After walking around the Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace, it was right around lunch time.

 Bellagio decorated for fall...like Alice in Wonderland x Thanksgiving!!
Bellagio decorated for fall…like Alice in Wonderland x Thanksgiving!!

Red Velvet Cafe inside a nearby mall was our go-to, since they had plenty of suitable light, pre-race meals that were vegetarian-friendly.

 Red Velvet Cafe
Red Velvet Cafe

There were lots of pastries as well, but I felt like having something a little that would sate my tummy before toeing the start line.

 Smoothie and bagelwich
Smoothie and bagelwich

My Dad got a strawberry smoothie which I had some of, and a egg bagelwich with fruit.

 Smoothie and bagelwich
Smoothie and bagelwich

My spiced hummus plate was spicy indeed, and I had spicy hummus breath even as I was racing 😛

 Spiced hummus plate
Spiced hummus plate

I loved how it had diced artichoke hearts though!

 Those artichoke hearts!
Those artichoke hearts!

Since I had to get back to the hotel soon after eating, we took the scenic route which included a view of the Venetian gondolas.

 Venetian gondola rides!
Venetian gondola rides!

I guess I broke the cardinal rule of not walking/excessively being on your feet before a race, but it couldn’t be helped! How can you avoid exploring a place like Vegas, even in the name of a race 😉 ?

What is your favorite Las Vegas hotel casino?

Red Velvet Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hot Tea & Cold Ice Cream

Hot Tea & Cold Ice Cream

After my race on Saturday morning, I drove back to my sister’s dorm and picked her up after she was finished with her own lab meeting. It was now early afternoon, and we decided to check out a tea shop so that we could get some more studying done before our ice cream plans later in the day 😀

She had taken me to one of the Teazer’s locations during my last visit, but this time we decided to see what Little Leaf Tea was all about.

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Inside Little Leaf Tea.

It actually reminded me of Teazer’s—with cozy lounge chairs, a wall featuring jars of tea, and some snackables were on display at the counter. They even had the same chai flavors!

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Back part of cafe.

We were immediately handed menus when we arrived through the door, and after looking through their Roobios selection, I found myself intrigued by Bourbon Street Vanilla. It was described as having an “exotic sweet vanilla scent” and inspired NOLA’s Bourbon Street. I don’t believe I had anything other than a fruit-flavored rooibos tea in the past, so I thought the vanilla-flavored one would be interesting to try.

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My tea selection.

Along with my tea, I had a mochi black sesame rice cake with red bean filling. Now I was definitely in Asian tea mode. My sister got the grilled pizzanini, which came with a side of ranch sauce for dipping.

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Red bean/black sesame mochi with my tea; sister’s pizzanini.

We spent a few hours in the tea shop, and tried to focus on our work even though the thought of ice cream kept interrupting us 😉 . As soon as we began to get headaches from reading too many PDF files, we left to appease our ice cream cravings.

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Ampersand Ice Cream, across from Fresno High School.

One of my sister’s friends recommended we visit Ampersand, a relatively new ice cream shop in the Fresno area. Despite being new, they seemed to be all about the community with their slogan “where great ice cream and community meet”. Since they are also across the street from Fresno High School, I wouldn’t be surprised if this small local ice cream shop is a hang-out spot frequented by hungry high school students on weekday afternoons.

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A community-drive ice cream parlor.

Based on my previous LA dessert stops, I would say Ampersand was a mix between Atticus and Cream/Stax Cookie Bar. They rotate out their ice cream selection, and feature seasonal specials. During our visit, Earl Grey & Cardamom, Apple Pie, and Rum Raisin were the featured specials, as displayed on a small blackboard underneath the main menu. Along with their scoops of ice cream, they serve ice cream sandwiches made with freshly-baked cookies (hence the similarity with Cream/Stax), milkshakes, and ice cream pops.

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Classic blackboard menu.

Their specialty is a four-flavor ice cream sample for $7, which is quite a deal for what you get. After some deliberation, my sister and I decided to try Coconut Cream, Cookies and Cream, Honeycomb, and one of the special flavors—Earl Grey & Cardamom.

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Cookies, ice cream, (and water).

Each scoop was careflly placed atop a stainless steel tumbler, which fit snugly on a wooden board with the Ampersand logo. Ice cream dining at its finest 😀

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We better get to it quickly…

The employee who was preparing our board suggested we get to the Honeycomb first since it was melting. It also seemed to be a popular flavor based on how much was left in the tray it was being scooped out of.

We were given silver spoons to eat our ice cream with, but I was looking forward to using their disposable spoons with the ampersand symbol on them. I guess I could have just asked, but the melting Honeycomb took priority!

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Stainless steel stylin’

From the four flavors we tried, I preferred Cookies & Cream > Earl Grey & Cardamom > Honeycomb > Coconut Cream. My sister on the other hand preferred the mild-tasting Honeycomb over the “too gingery” Speculoos-based Cookies & Cream or spicy Earl Grey & Cardamom.

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Four flavor close-up

Between the two of us, the sampler board was just the right size, featured enough flavors for us to try, and was only $3.50/person after splitting the total.

We didn’t have any other plans that evening because my sister truly wanted to get through her Genetics studying for an exam on Monday. Before heading back, we stopped by Target to pick up study snacks and browse through the $1 aisle. Honestly, part of the trip was fueled by procrastination 😉 !

It took us longer to get back then expected though, since a football game was starting and traffic near the campus was growing. We still got back at a decent hour, and settled in with our PJs and laptops. My study snack ended up being something sweet, but at least it was yogurt-covered fruit?

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Saturday night study snack.

I wouldn’t call raisins my go-to snack, but when covered in yogurt, I’m all for them! These strawberry greek-flavored ones sounded unique, and while they appeared to be true to their name, the size of each raisin was too small for my liking, considering that they had a yogurt layer. Still, I finished the bag, and had a couple smokehouse almonds to follow.

I ended up going to sleep around 11PM, but I didn’t care since I was spending quality time with the sis AND I didn’t have plans to run or have to go into lab the next morning! It was the first time in almost a month that I could wake up to an easy Sunday morning 🙂

When it comes to ice cream, do your prefer mild or spicy flavors?

Little Leaf Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Milo & Olive: Pizza for One Please

Milo & Olive: Pizza for One Please

Since I had plans on being in Santa Monica for my long run over the weekend, I thought it would be ideal to grab lunch nearby after my 12 mile taper run. I was in the mood for a personal pizza, and so I took a bus from Ocean Ave. that was headed in the east direction of Wilshire. I was set to dine at Milo & Olive for my post-workout lunch.

The small, gray establishment was not hard for me to miss, since I have paid a couple visits to the the Vitamin Shoppe nearby. There were already groups of folks waiting outside and inside the tiny cube of a restaurant.

busysundayyy
Waiting near the counter // Patrons at the bar.

I had my name added to the waitlist, but I don’t think I had to wait as long as some others. Since I was dining alone, I was able to get a table relatively quickly (within 15 minutes). I was taken behind the baked goods counter, and given a table by a large window. I also had a great view of the hustle & bustle of the restaurant in front of me.

interior

I love the way the paintings were arranged on the walls, but I was fixated on this one in particular:

 Old people---so cute!
Old people—so cute!

I also couldn’t help but admire the high ceiling paneled with wood.

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There were lots of pizzas to choose from, but after confirming if the Quattro Formaggi was suitable for vegetarians, I ordered that…

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…and sipped on some water from this fancy-looking jar while I waited for my warm pizza pie to arrive. The waiter “warned” me it would be at least fifteen minutes, but I understood…perfection can’t be rushed 😉

When the pizza did arrive, it garnered stares from the tables around me. It demanded attention, as made obvious by its bubbling cheese, glistening green kale, and aroma of calabrian chili oil.

Quattro Formaggi with sautéed kale and calabrian chili oil

The pizza looked bigger than a “normal” personal pizza at first, but it was actually just the crust that looked puffy and large. The center of the pizza was quite thin, and it was almost as if it was just a circle of melted cheese. The underlying crust was barely visible.

QUATTRO FORMAGGI

This meant that my ways of eating pizza with a fork would not be appropriate here, and I had to treat it as a handheld meal like a normal person would 😛

The pizza itself was quite filling, even though I didn’t demolish it entirely (I left a bulk of the crusts on my plate, mostly eating the slice up until the border where the cheese ended). I was contemplating a cupcake for dessert, but decided that it would be in my best interest to head back home and rest up study for an exam the next day. There would be next weekend after all, and I did have some gelatin-free gummies waiting for me in the meantime to get me though an afternoon and evening of studying!

Do you like eating the pizza crust? Plain or with a dip/sauce? I used to dip leftover pizza crust in ketchup when I was younger! Otherwise, it was just too dry for me.

Milo & Olive on Urbanspoon

Diner Fare

Diner Fare

Before my Dad had to leave for the airport, we were able to have dinner out together one more time. It involved some crazy driving in DTLA for the most part—taking 10 minutes just to turn at a corner 0.3 miles ahead—but we were able to push the driving-associated frustrations aside when we sat down at the Nickel Diner.

nickel1

Looking at the outside of the restaurant, it looked like the entrance to a quaint little bakery. Inside however, it seemed like a grand lounge from the 50’s or something, with high ceilings and seats all around.

nickel
Not a big fan of the dim lighting though.

I didn’t have to open the main menu at all when the placard with the day’s specials were handed to me.

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I was fixed on the Sloppy Veggie Jo, and asked for my side to be cooked spinach. Dad had the vegan chili.

sidespinachandveganchili

The Sloppy Jo was an interesting version: it was an open-faced sandwich, and the “meat” was actually cremini mushrooms (even though the menu said portabello?) chopped up into miniscule pieces that would have fooled anyone into thinking it was actually meat. I had to ask my server again just to make sure it really was meat-free!

sloppyveggiejo
So much cheese though—and so good!

While I was chowing down like a ravenous dog on my sandwich, my Dad was able to ask the server about the history of the diner. Apparently it was restored from an older restaurant from the 40’s, and the “this is the place” signage was originally part of that older restaurant. Gotta love tableside history lessons 😉 !

For the remainder of the week, I went back to out-of-my-apartment meals, but was still on a diner kick come Saturday. After a late start, I hopped on the Metro Rail and headed up to Hollywood to check out The Waffle. 

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Another busy Saturday at another popular restaurant, meaning the only available seats were at the counter.

 Awkward picture-taking, but I was successful ;)
Awkward picture-taking, but I was successful in the end 😉

I wasn’t to overwhelmed by the menu either, since they had neatly arranged the vegetarian-friendly selections under their own category!

menu

The Cobb Salad and Veg Reuben sounded tasty, but I decided to order the Vegetarian Philly, which ended up being vegan since I had it sans cheese. I also had a side salad that came with balsamic vinaigrette.

Soy beef strips, bell peppers, and onions sauteed in a sweet balsamic reduction, and served on a warm vegan French roll; side salad; pickle .
Vegetarian-turned-vegan Philly Cheesesteak – Soy beef strips, bell peppers, and onions sauteed in a sweet balsamic reduction, and served on a warm vegan French roll with a side salad and pickle .

I dug into the salad first, and then pulled and tugged at my sandwich with a fork since I didn’t want to get my hands messy.

Soy beef strips, bell peppers, and onions sauteed in a sweet balsamic reduction, and served on a warm vegan French roll; side salad; pickle

I found the bread to be too dry to my liking, but the soy strips had a nice, sweet taste to them. The sauteed onions and peppers were delicious too! In the end, despite my best efforts with the fork, I wound up picking up the bread and eating it like an open-faced sandwich.  

After my meal, my plans to pick up some groceries to hold me over until I leave for Thanksgiving slightly changed. Instead, my walk to the grocery store was cut short due to it getting dark out, and I needed to catch the bus before it got really dark. It’s all okay though…I have about six apples and some other close-to-expiration goods I need to get to before I leave 😛

Nickel Diner on Urbanspoon The Waffle on Urbanspoon

Birthday = Crossing Places Off the Foodie Bucket List

Birthday = Crossing Places Off the Foodie Bucket List

What’s the best way to celebrate a {summer} birthday? A lot of bloggers definitely know how, since there have been many birthday recaps as of late 😉 , but for me, certainly three things are necessary: close friends, things to do, and tasty food. My birthdays in recent years had all of these “ingredients” and were successful as a result. Last year’s was memorable for sure, but I truly appreciated being able to celebrate my birthday this year with those closest to me and at places I’ve been wanting to visit for quite a while.

The day started with a run to the gym, and then after getting ready, my friends and I drove to SF. We first dropped off my friend’s brother at his friend’s house, and then made our way over to SoMa (after fighting traffic and keeping our eyes peeled for a parking spot…). I let the frustrations get to me, and let my Dad take over to look for a spot while my sis, friend, and I walked over to the restaurant. We found him waiting at the entrance…apparently, there was parking right in front of the restaurant.

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After laughing at the irony, we perused the menu hanging on the window in front, then made our way to the cashwrap.

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I insisted that lunch be on me, and took care of the bill. I also suggested we get four dishes to share family-style so we could all try different things. I was surprised by how empty the place was, even though it was lunchtime.

source inside

I took advantage of the opportunity however, and tried to discreetly take pictures of the space. Source was featured on an episode of Mystery Diners, and has been on my bucket list of places to eat after finding out it was a vegan restaurant in the Bay Area. They also have a smaller location, Source Mini, in Berkeley.

SOURCE

In their menu, they use fake meat, but refer to it as “cluck”, “oink”, or “moo” depending on what meat it is “supposed” to be. Our four dishes came out after ~15 minutes even though it seemed like longer. The first to come out was the Vegan Mousaka. I originally wanted to get the Jamaican Jerk Cluck (cluck <– fake chicken & veggies cooked in jerk sauce, with organic brown basmati rice, black beans & chutney), but they had unfortunately sold out 🙁 . Although it wasn’t meant to be an appetizer, it served its role as one, and worked as a great thick tomato dip for the pita bread pieces it was served with.

grilled layered eggplant with cinnamon, all spice, garbanzo, mushroom, tomato, topped with cashew “béchamel” sauce

A little while later, the waitress arrived with the “real” appetizer: Baked Vegan Spinach Artichoke Fondue. My sis and friend were enthusiatic about this particular dish, and so I let them have at it since I wanted to save room for the other two dishes that had yet to come to our table.

roasted peppers, spinach cashew cream, truffle oil & pita bread

We had to ask for some more pita bread to get all of the dip out of the bowl!

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My absolute favorite was the Chile Cluck Pizza. It had a sweet and spicy flavor that was out of this world, and it was made on such a thin crust so it didn’t make me feel too stuffed to tackle the…

cluck, mozzarella, plum tomato sauce, sriracha sauce, parmesan, truffle oil & balsamic glaze

Country Shepherds Pie! My sis picked out this one and I thought she made a good choice. I wasn’t a fan of the mashed potato topping, but the filling was warm, satiating, and perfectly paired with the mini, sliced sourdough on the side.

moo (fake meat), mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, carrot, celery, onion, topped with roasted mashed potatoes

After our nice, quiet, and fulfilling lunch, I drove us over to the Golden Gate Bridge. My friend and I were talking about how she never could walk across the whole bridge because her family would always complain it’s too cold/long, so I wanted us to be able to finally do it together. It quickly turned from sunshine to fog, and I sort of regretted not bringing a jacket (you think I would remember after all these years…), but fortunately I was at least wearing longsleeves.

While we were able to stop for photos and take in the view, the walk was anything but pleasant. There was a strong wind, noise from passing cars, bikers who didn’t know how to bike politely, and it was very, very cold. I honestly felt like having a warm cup of coffee on the way back!

Golden Gate Bridge

After the walk, it was time for birthday cake vegan cinnamon rolls! Cinnaholic was another foodie-destination of mine, and I thought why not celebrate the b-day with a different kind of sweet? Leaving the city during rush hour was madness, but we still made it through to the other side—even if it was an hour and a half later than we would have liked.

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I learned about Cinnaholic after the owners appeared on an episode of Shark Tank. At first, I thought they just shipped out orders of vegan cinnamon rolls, but when I learned they had an actual establishment (actually very near to Saturn Cafe!), I knew I had to make a visit.

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The idea behind the custom roll is you pick your flavor of frosting followed by toppings. They also have recipes for their own combos (like S’mores), have other baked goods for sale (cookies, brownies), and have mini buns too!

inside cinnaholic!

We all decided to get two rolls and share. Our first roll was a rootbeer frosting + graham cracker topping combo, and our second was a pina colada frosting + raspberries combo.

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To be frank, the rolls were not as amazing as I wanted them to be. While we attacked the rolls with excitment at the beginning, our initial excitment plummeted mid-rolls. The roll base itself tasted dry, wasn’t that sweet, and both frosting flavors didn’t have much flavor other than the taste of pure icing/sugar. At least I can now cross it off my list…

Despite nourishing myself with food I had my heart set on for months, I still felt hungry. Actually, I felt oddly ravenous all day. While the girls felt full (and spent some time in a book shop), my Dad and I thought it would be best to end the day with the frozen yogurt, this time his treat. The Yogurtland on the corner was the solution.

Mix of different flavors. Toppings include mochi, cookie dough pieces, mango poppers, white yogurt chips, mini caramel cups.

Despite the nuissance of city traffic and parking, it was a splendid day overall. I also had that “letdown” feeling that usually passes over me after a great and eventful day, so I knew that I had spent my time the best way possible. It’s hard to believe another year in my life has gone by though! Should I be scared or excited 😉 ?

Do you like the season that your birthday falls under? Summer birthdays are the best, period. Sorry to you spring/fall/winter babies 😉 !!

Source on Urbanspoon Cinnaholic on Urbanspoon

Sweet Endings

Sweet Endings

Before leaving for my trip, my labmates took me out to lunch as a “farewell”—more so for my leaving for graduate school rather than my trip 😉 . I brought some homemade dessert over to share as my parting gift. They really enjoyed a plain cashew burphi I brought for a holiday party last year, so I decided to keep with the burphi theme, but let coconut be the star this time around.

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Coconut Cashew Burphi

With the amounts of ingredients I had, I didn’t even have enough to fill a whole pan! Even so, I thought the bars came out fine and would be suitable for three people to share.

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Follow the steps below!
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The recipe…haha noticed a typo here! Should be “18” bars, not “8” 😉

Desserts are known to be imperative when celebrating life’s milestones (birthdays, weddings, etc.), but they also seem to be a mandatory component when a departure is concerned. Is it because the sweetness masks the melancholy that may arrive without a doubt?

Whatever the reason may be, desserts bring with them a celebration within themselves! With one bite, they can make a dreary day brighter, or add more sunshine to an already blissful event.

What are your favorite desserts to make for those “farewell” situations?

That Bread Place

That Bread Place

My sister, who came up for a weekend in the last week of March from school due to it being a three-day weekend (her school takes Cesar Chavez Day off), had absolutely no clue what I was talking about when I first texted her about having lunch “at that new bread place”.

Once I filled her in on the details, she was excited about going of course. What exactly is “that bread place” we were talking about?

Boudin SF. I say Bo-din, you say Boo-deen, she says Boo-din—it doesn’t matter how you pronounce it. In the end, it’s all about the food. And our experience? It was alright.

Entrance to Boudin
Entrance to Boudin

This location is settled right next to I-80, which attracts those making their way in from Tahoe, or up from the Bay Area. Good thing we came in just before noon to avoid the crowds!

Cases of clam showder while waiting in line.
Cases of clam showder while waiting in line.

The line wasn’t very long…yet. Like I said before, we made it in before Sunday lunch rush hour, where we watched from our seats the line growing OUT the door!!

On the left wall was a glass window where you could get a behind-the-scenes look at where the bread was being made.

A look into the bakery.
A look into the bakery.

At the front counter where your order and pay, my sister and I noticed the large animal-shaped loaves—crabs, bears, and turtles galore!

The front counter.
The front counter.

When we went to get some water, we noticed a familiar face from high school and said our hellos. Then we met my Dad at a table in the center of the dining area. Bad idea, as we would soon realize, since the place was small already and the seating arrangements didn’t help mitigate the already cramped quarters.

Waiting for food.
Waiting for food.

About 15 minutes after ordering, our meals came out.

My Dad and I got butternut soup in sourdough bread bowls, while my sister got a grilled brie sandwich with apple slices and jam.

Grilled Brie with Apples & Fig Jam---says it was too sweet for her liking.
Grilled Brie with Apples & Fig Jam—says it was too sweet for her liking.

My sister was not too enthused with her sandwich, since she wasn’t a fan of the fig jam which made the sandwich too sweet for her liking.

Sourdough Bread Bowl with Butternut Squash Soup---took me forever to finish, but I did.
Sourdough Bread Bowl with Butternut Squash Soup—took me forever to finish, but I did.

I actually preferred my soup over the bread bowl. The bread bowl of course was a great vessel for the soup, but the soup by itself is worth ordering on its own.

My Dad got a side salad with his order of the soup.

Butternut Squash Bread Bowl with side spring salad
Butternut Squash Bread Bowl with a side serving of Spring Salad.

My Dad and sister agreed that they prefer Panera over this place, citing the variety Panera tends to have with its menu. I was busy figuring out how to “properly” demolish my bread bowl, and when the knife and fork trick didn’t work, I went for it with my hands. Yes, it was awkward having to get through what seemed like miles of crowded tables to get to the bathroom and wash up at the end of the meal 😛

After lunch, we ran around to do some last-minute gift shopping for relatives who we plan to see on our trip. In the early afternoon, we headed out for some fro-yo. It seemed like the perfect thing to do after feasting on carbs, after all 😉

It's a fro-yo party!
It’s a fro-yo party! I got a pistachio and strawberry mix with mochi, poppers, fruit, carob and yogurt chips. Sis got the usual chocolate fro-yo with similar toppings.

Would I visit Boudin SF again of my own volition? Probably not, but at least I can say I did go, and that I did have a pretty good bowl of butternut squash soup in a mediocre-tasting bread bowl. In my opinion, it looks like Panera doesn’t have too much to worry about in terms of competition…

Boudin SF on Urbanspoon

Are you a fan of bread bowls?

Nopales (Cactus) Stew

Nopales (Cactus) Stew

I think summer is the best time to try new foods. Fruits, vegetables, breads, food bars… and cactus?

Nopales (Paddle Cactus)
Nopales (Paddle Cactus)

I’ve always wanted to try cactus, but since it’s one of those plants not commonly placed among the potatoes and the tomatoes at the local supermarket, it has taken me a while to come across it. Who would have thought it would be patiently waiting for me with a clearance price tag at the 99 cent store? And with spines already removed?

Since it was my first time working with cactus, I thought why not play it safe and mix it with some flavorful veggies for a summer stew of sorts?

The Nopales Stew I had on Sunday, with a side of flatbread.
The Nopales Stew I had on Sunday, with a side of flatbread.

Nopales Cactus Stew

Ingredients

  • ¼-½ cup of onion
  • 1-2  leaves (or paddles?) of cactus
  • 1-2 cups of tomato
  • Spices: cumin seeds and cayenne
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Optional: Spinach leaves or kale

Directions

  • Roast 1 tsp. of cumin seeds in a spoon of oil into a stove-top pot/curved pan.
  • Add onion and brown.
  • Add chopped cactus, and cover with a lid and steam cook.
  • After a few minutes, add chopped tomatoes (and spinach or kale if you want).
  • Cook covered for two or three more minutes.
  • Add salt and cayenne to taste.
  • Dig in!
Close-Up of Cactus
Close-Up of Cactus

This really doesn’t need any outside flavors because when cooked, the cactus tastes lemony! Like it was seriously doused in a bottle of lemon juice! But when mixed with the onion and tomato, it made for nice, citrus-y summer stew.

Close-Up of Stew
Close-Up of Stew

It’s like summer in a bowl ;)!

Have you ever eaten cactus?

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