Off to Graduation!

Off to Graduation!

The first of my long series of travel posts—starting off with the days of my sister’s graduation weekend, and then the good stuff from Europe 🙂 ! Enjoy!!

Graduation weekend came upon me so quickly! I still have at least two years to go for my PhD, but my sister is finally done with undergrad!

I was working till the last minute on Thursday afternoon before leaving for my two weeks off. My dad picked me up from campus, and the plan was for both of us to drive up to Fresno to see my sister and possibly help her with packing.

Everytable
Everytable

Before hitting the road, I introduced E to my Dad and we had lunch at a small but convenient place called a Everytable. I had been wanting to check it out for a while, and since we were running short on time trying to drive up to Fresno, it seemed like a good choice.

l
Grab a bowl,
sit down, and eat!

I was expecting more than salad bowls to be offered, and was slightly disappointed not to see some noodle or rice salads in the display. But for what I did choose (Kale Caesar Salad), the taste and texture wasn’t too bad! My salad came with Parmesan crisps to be used as a topping, and the additional crunch was a perfect touch.

Pretty good salad...
Pretty good salad…

We left around 2pm after dropping E back in lab. The three hour drive up wasn’t too hectic. We were battling LA traffic of course, at least until Santa Clarita, but once we were on the road time seemed to fly by. We stopped for coffee midway, and made it to Fresno by 6. My Dad and I were staying in an Airbnb for the night and checked in there first.

Before heading out to dinner, we thought to check in on my sister. She had plans with some friends that night but we were able to meet with her briefly and helped with some clean-up amidst her packing “mess”.

For dinner, we headed out to a place called Tofas Grill, since it was conveniently right next to a Wal-Mart. We planned to stop there to pick up some gift and greeting cards.

Tofas in Fresno
Tofas in Fresno

They offered a ton on their menu, but the only decent vegetarian option was a ginormous vegetarian plate.

Lots written down but not really much to offer...
Lots written down but not really much to offer…
They did have ample seating though!
They did have ample seating though!

The falafel was too dry for my liking though…

Falafel, salads, hummus, pita...the usual.
Falafel, salads, hummus, pita…the usual.
Looks good and appetizing, but the falafel was too dry...
Looks good and appetizing, but the falafel was too dry…

At least the pita was soft and made up for it? Can’t deny that it was a filling dish though!

After stopping by Wal-Mart for some gift cards and greeting cards, my Dad and I came back to our Airbnb and I went to sleep right away. I had to get in my last long run before my marathon in San Diego on June 4th, and it was all about fitting it in into this time of excitement and change!

Do you feel mostly excited or nervous before “good” change is about to happen?

Everytable Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ravenous

Ravenous

Last Sunday, I didn’t run any marathons, but I felt hungry to the point as though I did run one. Of course a trip to lab was on the agenda, but as soon as I was done, I was ready to fill my belly with all things delicious.

I truly craved a hearty, Mediterranean meal because I knew it would have all the nutrients I was craving as well as taste amazing. But having to wait for 30 minutes or so on the train with a growling stomach was not going to cut it. I got off at Westwood, just to dive into the mall and get some snacks…

fitjoy_cooksncream
@fitjoynutrition , I think you’re getting better at this protein bar thing 😉

One of which was a new FitJoy protein bar flavor. I had no idea FitJoy released some new flavors recently, but since one of them was a “Cookies & Cream” flavor, I could not let it get away! The bar had three distinct layers, with the top being a chocolate fudge-like flavor with small crispy chocolate pieces. The bottom layer was coated with a chocolate shell, and overall the bar was a good mix between crunchy and chewy (though not too chewy—what I liked about it overall was how firm it ended up being)!

I took a bus back to Santa Monica and stopped right in front of my lunch destination—Mediterranean food at Crimson sounded so mouthwatering at that point.

crimson
Crimson, Santa Monica

When I stepped inside, it felt like the A/C was on full blast, but no energy was actually being “wasted” since it was just the cooling blacks and greys on the wall that allowed the restaurant to help keep patrons feeling refreshed.

crimson_inside
Eating inside on a hot day…

I saw that it was an order first, then sit down kind of set-up, so I walked over to the front and grabbed a menu. The Falafel Veggie Plate sounded appetizing of course, but there was plenty of room for customization and add-ons.

menu
Got the ‘Falafel Veggie Plate’

My plate ended up holding a gargantuan volume of eats. I was shocked, but happy, with the food that lay before me, and I was eager to tuck in.

thewholeplateandgrilledveggies
The complete plate :: the gorgeous array of grilled vegetables <3

Since it was mostly veggies and healthy fats, I got full pretty quickly.

dawholeshebang
Tahini -> kale salad and hummus -> falafel in garlic sauce -> ricccceeee

But I’d say I did a decent job getting to all of the good stuff…only some rice and a bit of kale salad, along with half of a tahini cup was left.

alldone
So much good stuff on one plate…couldn’t finish it all!

After my hearty meal, I immediately felt my eyes droop. Obviously it was time for a nap. Home was a short ways away, so I wasn’t too far from falling into a cozy Sunday afternoon nap. After my nap, I woke up ready to eat some more! I was feeling ravenous for some reason that day, and I just went along with it. Spoonfuls of this Gooey Bananas Foster D’s Naturals Fluffbutter did the trick.

gooeybananasfoster
I was skeptical at first when I saw the Gooey Bananas Foster @dsnaturals Fluffbutter on sale at GNC for 50% off it’s retail price. It made me think “what’s wrong with the flavor?”, but no such answer exists. It definitely had the taste of bananas, but it wasn’t overpowering at all. In fact, it tasted as if the nut butter was made from finely mashed caramel-coated bananas. Bananas are my least favorite fruit, so take me seriously when I say this flavor was GOOD.

I was well-fed that Sunday indeed. Later on in the week, I indulged with other new-to-me treats that included the following…

Two more new FitJoy nutrition bar flavors: Homemade Pumpkin and Raspberry Chocolate Truffle:

Homemade Pumpkin
Homemade Pumpkin

Homemade Pumpkin bar reminded me of a giraffe based on the looks of the top! It had orange splotches and a light swirl on the top, with crispy wafer pieces scattered over the surface.

The Raspberry Chocolate Truffle bar had a slightly sour flavor (which isn’t that surprising), but it had a chewier and denser taste/texture in comparison to the pumpkin and cookie flavors I tried above.

Everything I love, all in one mug.
Everything I love, all in one mug.

There was a thin chocolate shell on the bottom, and its appearance actually reinded me of a Luna coconut bar. I broke the bar in half, and added it to a yogurt blend with pumpkin spice Amazing Grass mix. For good measure, I added a Lenny & Larry’s Snickerdoodle cookie!

Goodie Girl Cookies - Mint Slims
Goodie Girl Cookies – Mint Slims

I also came across these cute, mini Thin Mint-like cookies by Goodie Girl Cookies. I found these at Starbucks one day, and they made the perfect accompaniment with a coconut milk cappucino, on my walk to the train station.

For Ralph’s Freebie Friday promo this past Friday, they were giving out free Larabars! I used the opportunity to snatch up a Key Lime Pie bar flavor, and didn’t regret it.

Key Lime Pie Larabar
Key Lime Pie Larabar

I hadn’t had Lara Bars in quite some time, so having this flavor made me realize I was missing on out on something so naturally delicious. I think I’ll keep coming back to this flavor, especially as the summer months approach.

On days when you feel ravenous, do you eat whatever you crave or try to reign it in?

Crimson Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

SIX HOURS.

SIX HOURS.

After running a 10k race in Hollywood on Saturday morning, I figured I would head a little up north to NoHo to get voting out of the way. 

Waiting for what I eventually realize will be SIX HOURS.
Waiting for what I eventually realize will be SIX HOURS.
 
You’d think that for a place like LA, the second most-populated city/county in the US just after New York, there would be multiple opportunities to vote before Election Day to accommodate the schedules of so many. Well…not exactly. There’s one location (in Norwalk) that was pretty much open everyday, but that didn’t do much for people who live/work in the city.  The weekend of the 29th-30th and November 5th-6th were proclaimed early voting weekends, but only four locations were open on both weekend dates: polling places in NoHo, West LA, West Covina, and Lancaster. 
 
I arrived at the Amelia Earhart Library around 9am, but after I saw the line that wrapped multiple times around the library AND giant park next door, I was not to enthusiastic about my prospects to be in and out in an hour… You’d think that there would have been plenty of rooms set up with booths, knowing that crowds of people would show up, but nope. Planning ahead is too much work so it seems :/
 
I was literally in line for SIX HOURS, from 9am to 3pm. There were no free refreshments, and there were only a few rows of foldable chairs near the entrance of the library. At one point I honestly thought about giving up and just making out to my local polling place on Election Day, but then I figured I already spent enough time waiting and might as well get it all done! 
 
After filling out a form and waiting inside a community room in the library, in seats arranged as if we were at the DMV, all of us that finally made it into the room now just had to wait for our number to be called to get our ballots. My number was called about a half an hour after arriving into that room, and I couldn’t have been more relieved! I had read about the propositions beforehand, so I was done with voting within 10 minutes. As soon as I left, I was on the hunt for food! 
 
rodini
Rodini Park, North Hollywood
 
Fortunately, Rodini Park was a few blocks away from the library so I could count on getting a good meal in me to refuel from all that stress. The set-up was like a Chipotle for Greek food, and you could make a bowl, sandwich, or wrap with added proteins and veggies. 
 
Chipotle for Greek food!
Chipotle for Greek food!
 
I chose to get a bowl (of course) and had fries (yes fries!) as my base instead of rice. On top of that I had all the veggies, alongside half a slice of white pita bread cut into four triangles. I skipped out on the falafel since the fries would be filling enough , and had babaganoush topped on everything. 
 
Is it bad that I wanted to climb over the plexi glass and stuff that pita bread in my mouth in 5 seconds flat?! #PostVotingFeelz
Is it bad that I wanted to climb over the plexi glass and stuff that pita bread in my mouth in 5 seconds flat?! #PostVotingFeelz
 
I literally scarfed down everything so fast that one of the fries poked my gums! Haha. The fries had a special seasoning on them, and I even had some extra crispy gems thrown in. The babaganoush was ok, nothing spectacular, but having it serve as a substitute for ketchup was hardly a poor choice. 
 
bowl
Literally wanted to plant my face in this bowl!
 
It took me about an hour and a half to get home, and despite feeling frustrated that my day was wasted waiting in a serpentine line, voting for a candidate who faced a depressing loss, it felt good to exercise my civic rights. 
 
friessss
Fries and feta and all sorts of goodness
 
The next day, I was running 10 miles with my marathon team as our weekly long run, so I was understandably exhausted when I got home Sunday afternoon. A nap was absolutely necessary, and I spent the rest of the day napping/unwinding from my overactive Saturday (and week for that matter) along with diving into a jar of YouFresh Naturals Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Muscle Frosting. I wasn’t too fond of it after the first couple spoonfuls. The ghee had solidified at the top (hence the dark, pale chocolate-looking layer at the surface), and the rest of the “frosting” tasted like grainy cashew butter. It wasn’t reminicent of frosting at all, so I doubt I will buy this again in the future. 
 
muscle-frosting-cookie-dough
YouFresh Naturals Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Muscle Frosting
 
Going back to the voting/politics portion of this post, I honestly am not sure how the world is going to be after Tuesday night’s debacle. I do sincerely hope that it makes us all more active, aware, and attentive individuals when it comes to protecting our natural born rights from anyone threatening to take them away from us. We may have to face a larger obstacle now to eventually get to a world worth living in, but I think these recent events will make us stronger to do that…if they have not done so already…
 
Are you involved in politics beyond Election Day?

What kind of cuisine would you like a restaurant to “Chipotle-fy”?

Rodini Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gross & Great

Gross & Great

After finishing up our final rounds of apartment cleaning on Sunday morning, my Dad and I were ready to drop off my keys by noon. It was hard to believe that it was two years ago that I moved into my first apartment, and while there were some things I would miss about it, I was very much looking forward to living in and exploring a new LA neighborhood.

I had to drop into lab even though I was starving, and during this time, my Dad helped to move the remainder of my boxes to my new place. When I finished up two hours later, my Dad was ready to pick me up and was just as hungry as I was! We ended up in Culver City again, checking out another vegan spot in the area.

veganjoint_menu
A hole-in-the-wall kinda place.

The Vegan Joint has been on my list for a while, but it was a little out of the way for me/never really a sole spot of interest to make it a worthwhile trip. And after finally going there, I realized I probably didn’t miss out on anything for not dining there sooner…

veganjointtt
Calming greens?

After getting our table, my Dad and I were given PLENTY of time to look over the menu…and at least ten more times over. I literally had to get up after almost twenty minutes to walk over to the counter and remind the lady who had seated us that we were ready to order. I was pretty hangry at that point so I’m glad I didn’t bite off her head for not coming sooner…

My order was actually not so great. I chose to get the Tofu Larb not truly knowing what it was, and I guess that was a decision that backfired on me. Normally, Larb is a meat-based salad of Laos origin—marinated meat grounds mixed with greens and lemon juice. My tofu version was certainly marinated and over-flowing, but it was far from being an aesthetic, picturesque example of a delicious vegan meal.

tofu_larb
Tofu Larb…so gross

After two bites, I was thinking “eww, why did I pick this??”, but since I was hungry/didn’t want to make a big deal over it, I finished the dish and definitely felt full afterwards (soy protein’s effects I suppose)!

After our very late lunch, my Dad and I drove to my new place to unpack. It took me almost 3 hours to get everything in order and in place. From there, my Dad and I made the long-ish drive to Cerritos for Indian grocery shopping and for a free dinner!

Luna Grill, a fast casual Mediterranean restaurant contacted me a few weeks ago to check out their Cerritos location. I knew that the perfect time to stop by would be when my Dad was in town, since he’s always wanting to go to Cerritos whenever he is in town!

lunagrillfront
Luna Grill entrance

We had dinner close to 8pm, and there were still people inside enjoying large platters of kebabs, rice, and all of those tasty Medi-fixin’s.

lunaaaa
Ordering at the counter. The lamps are beautiful!
luna_grill
Luna Grill in Cerritos Menu ~ Veggie Kabob

My Dad and I were able to enjoy two entrees on the house, and we paid for the grape leaf roll appetizers to share between the both of us.

grapeleaf
Grape leaf rolls

For my entree, I ordered the Veggie Kabob which came with rice, spicy cilantro hummus, pita bread, boiled carrots, and salad.

veggie kebab platter
A gorgeous, full plate and Dad’s salad.

My oh my was this good, and it certainly made up for my disaster of a lunch that day…my Dad loved his crisp, refreshing salad, but was in love with the basmati rice. I had to agree with him, as the rice was so fluffy and flavorful.

After finishing up dinner close to closing time for the restaurant, we were on the road again to our hotel to finally meet up with my sister and our friend. Both of them made the trip down to LA to hang out with me for my birthday, and I was beyond excited to meet them!

If you ever ordered something disgusting from a restaurant before, were you so hungry you ate it or did you remedy the situation?

Vegan Joint Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Closed Door to Open Sesame

Closed Door to Open Sesame

After two fun half-days at Blogfest, and a full day of work in lab on a SATURDAY, I was more than ready to take back one day of the weekend for myself: Sunday!

Chocolate proyo with loads of granola crunchies :)
Chocolate proyo with loads of granola crunchies 🙂

After a long run of 13 miles, I made myself a proyo mug and filled it to the brim with granola, all of which were free to me thanks to my expo haul!

This was enough to help me refuel and make it though a few hours of lab in the morning. I was out by 1pm, and immediately got on a bus to head out for lunch.

I only had to walk about 10 minutes from the stop to the restaurant, but I felt like my skin was melting off. Fortunately, I found it before my muscles started to peel off…haha.

What's behind door #1?
What’s behind door #1?

Behind the house-like door, I stepped into the brightly-lit dining room of Open Sesame, and since no one else was dining at 3pm, it was only me face-fo-face with three servers. It was awkward at first since no one out of the three said anything at first, but eventually I was given a place to sit and a menu.

Open Sesame
Open Sesame

I knew that I wanted a platter (what else is new??), and the next task was finding something that fit the vegetarian description. The menu was bound in a red, leather-like cover and was pretty much a book full of entrees, apps, drinks, and desserts. I found the vegetarian platter under the “Entrees II” section. I ordered that as soon as one of the servers came by, and it came out within minutes.

The Vegetarian Platter!
The Vegetarian Platter!

The plate was a colorful piecing of babaganoush (all-time fav), hummus, pickled peppers, fresh tomato slices, two falafel, one grape leaf roll, tabouli, and tahini in a cup.

The cutest thing though was the Open Sesame tissue paper.
The cutest thing though was the Open Sesame tissue paper.

It was almost as if the server read my mind, because just as I thought about how I would be able to mop up the hummus and tahini sauce, she came by with a crispy flat piece of pita bread. I also downed several cups of water to combat the heat I would have to face after leaving the restaurant.

My plans to take a nap that afternoon didn’t make sense since I made it back home closer in the evening. After organizing my plans for the week, I hit the pillow around 9pm and it never felt so good…

Open Sesame Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fala Me to Fala Bar

Fala Me to Fala Bar

Last week was crazy busy, and on more nights than usual, I ended up coming back to my apartment close to 8pm, even with my early morning start to the day. But I’ve always preferred being busy over being too relaxed, so while at times it did feel exhausting, at least it kept my mind occupied.

Because we have a couple students graduating/people leaving from my lab this year, we decided to go out as a lab for lunch on Thursday. It was the first time we had everyone together (well, almost…since my boss was out of town and we were missing one person…haha, the day we actually have EVERYONE together in the same room will be some kind of miracle!!). Spicy Indian buffet food was on the menu, and surprisingly, I didn’t nod off in class later despite it!

One of the plates I had on Thursday...super spicy, and used unpictured naan to mop up all of that!
One of the plates I had on Thursday…super spicy, and used unpictured naan to mop up all of that!

When I got home that night, I decided to kick-off the weekend earlier than usual with a THURSDAY night pint, a So Delicious one in fact. I’ve gotta say…this pint rocks! Since it’s made with coconut milk, you can actually taste the slivers of coconut mixed in with the cookie dough chunks. How have I gone this long avoiding these So Delicious pints?! I’m glad that even though I took a break from Snickerdoodle, this flavor was right up there with it!

Coconut milk + cookie dough = perfection
Coconut milk + cookie dough = perfection

Friday ended up being less busy, and I got home at a decent time. To celebrate the end of this busy week, I made myself a protein-rich snack plate featuring some of my favorites (once warmed up in the microwaved for ~20 seconds).

Friday Night Snack Plate featuring: Lenny & Larrys, Quest, and Combat Crunch. Melted for 20 seconds <3
Friday Night Snack Plate featuring: Lenny & Larrys, Quest, and Combat Crunch. Melted for 20 seconds <3

On Saturday, I had to go into lab for just two hours, and from there made it over to Melrose to see what little food shop was causing excitement on the ‘gram. Fala Bar, a Mediterranean food place that has locations on Melrose and Abbot Kinney in Venice, offers five varieties (!!) of falafel, but is popular because of their falafel burger offerings. Not only are they creative in their menu items and falafel flavors (original, sweet potato  what??, spicy, crunchy, and kale), they also are all-vegan, giving all the more reason to go falafel-crazy!

Fala Bar: vegan-friendly, and in a happening part of town!
Fala Bar: vegan-friendly, and in a happening part of town!

Because I rarely ever stray from ordering similar types of foods at restaurants, I got the fala plate even though the falafel burgers sounded mouth-watering. Definitely getting that when I visit the Venice location (yes, when 😉 ). For my plate, I had to choose one flavor of falafel for the four falafel balls that came with the plate. I went with ‘crunchy’, even though looking back, it would have been more fun to try sweet potato or kale. Maybe my intuitive choice for ‘crunchy’ meant I had some pent up anger I needed to get out? Haha, or maybe I just wanted some crunchy falafel!

Fala Bar's menu
Fala Bar’s menu

Since the storefront is very small, there is no indoor seating…just a couple tables outside under some shade. At least it was all taking place on Melrose Ave., so people-watching was at its prime.

GIGI---they have your snack mix, haha.
GIGI—they have your snack mix, haha.

One of the employees was nice enough to bring out my plate, and it was not skimpy by any means! Underneath my artistically-placed falafel were two kinds of cabbage slaw, and tabouli. Tahini and hummus were in the corners, and a soft, warm pocket of pita bread was served on the side.

Fala Plate ft. crunchy falafel
Fala Plate ft. crunchy falafel

At first I was saving the spreads for the falafel and pita bread, but in the end I just mixed everything all up because it was all so good, and good together. For the price, the plate was very filling and substantial. I did notice that the burgers were cheaper however, and I wonder if they would be just as filling. That’s my mission for next time!

Close-up of this flavor-packed plate.
Close-up of this flavor-packed plate.

Just like last weekend, pints were raised up (for pictures) and dug into 🙂

Because the So Delicious pint from Thursday blew me away, I decided to keep venturing into the flavor offerings of this brand. The almond milk offering of cookies ‘n cream had me very excited about trying at first, but unfortunately it was a disappointment. The cookie chunks were small, sparse, and did not carry much flavor. I’m not even sure what flavor the ice cream was supposed to be because it was lacking that much! Oh well, not everything can be a winner!

Eh, not worth the price...
Eh, not worth the price…

The Caramel Coffee Fudge flavor Ben & Jerry’s from their non-dairy frozen dessert line was also something I was looking forward to, after PB & Cookies proved itself, but was another disappointment as well. One unsual thing about this flavor was the crunchiness of the fudge blocks. They were fudge chunks, but they made a potato chip-like crunching sound when I ate them. It was odd, but very intriguing, haha.

I'd pass on this one.
I’d pass on this one.

Have you ever tried a falafel made with the not-so-normal ingredients?

Fala Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...