Turkish Delight!

Turkish Delight!

The semester is coming to a close for most, but I technically don’t become a “fourth year” until after this summer. And this summer is gonna be a doozy with all the work I have planned and have to get done, oh boy.

There’s so many things to do for trip prep and managing work here, I’m proud of myself for not going absolutely crazy and still finding the time to go about my usual daily tasks without worrying too much.

Lab was a necessary task that needed to be addressed on both Saturday and Sunday. E had to come by Saturday morning to help me get into the building since I forgot my set of keys in my desk (lol), but after I finished up, we made plans to have lunch.

She had been mentioning that we check out this Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills sometime, and I thought it would be perfect to finally do so.

The bus we took that was supposed to drop us off at Beverly Blvd cut its route down by Fairfax near Little Ethiopia, so we ended up walking for another 45 minutes due to construction and having to take the most roundabout way to our destination.

Needless to say, we had rallied up a strong enough appetite to chow down on some mouthwatering Turkish food. Our appetites would be appeased at Cafe Istanbul.

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Cafe Istanbul

It’s hard to believe I passed by this joint without much thought. I used to frequent this street a year and a half ago, visiting the likes of Panera Bread, Creamistry, Momed, and Beverliz Cafe. I had been meaning to come back, but time flew by!

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Pita bread chips and sauce.

Now I was here with E, and I was making the most of this experience. E is Turkish-German, and so she volunteered herself to order in Turkish for the both of us. The servers spoke English, but E wasn’t going to miss out on an opportunity to show off, haha!

pita rolls
Pita bread and grape leaf rolls

We were served some crisped flat bread with a tomato-based dipping sauce as an appetizer. We also got vegetable dolmas, and for our entree, the Imam Bayildi.

imam_bayidli
IMAM BAYILDI ~ Fried whole eggplant, stuffed with onion, tomato, garlic and slowly baked in the oven, served with tzatziki sauce and with pita bread.

Our entree featured three eggplant strips topped with tomato, onion, and pepper. We were able to cut through the soft, chewy boats, and top them on some pita bread after adding some tzatziki.

I thought we were done after this meal, but E insisted that we finish off the right way—with Turkish tea and Kunefe.

tea-kunefe
Tea and Kunefe

The tea was a dark crimson liquid served with sugar cubes. It paired well with the soft, sticky dough pastry that is Kunefe. It was like a sticky bun rolled in pistachio grounds. The small, rich dessert was the perfect way to complete the feast. I’m glad I trusted E, haha!

We walked around for a bit, and then departed to commute home. I made a stop at Sprouts for groceries, and decided to pick up a pint of Nada Moo to try later as a night snack.

nadamoo
Birthday Cake Cookie Dough

I picked out Birthday Cake Cookie Dough, and for my first time trying Nada Moo, I was mad at myself for not trying this fluffy goodness packed in a pint much sooner! Birthday Cake Cookie Dough has a bright white base of fluffy coconut milk-based ice cream, mixed in with thick chocolate chips and sizable pieces of cookie dough. If you are looking for a pint-sized cloud with a varied texture of mix-ins, look no further!

Earlier in the week, I tried some new items I picked up from Trader Joe’s. One of which was one of the three new RX Bar flavors—Mixed Berry!

mixed_berry
RX Bar Mixed Berry

The eye-catching bright pink wrapper was what caught my eyes first, but the taste of the bar was quite interesting. It had the usual density of an RX Bar, but the flavor reminded me of fruity pop rocks, and it really hit the back of the mouth in regards to flavor intensity. Not sure if it’s my favorite, but the bright pink color made it seem like it would match well with a cute pink dress!

The second item was the Birthday Cake Bar from Trader Joe’s! I first saw it on Instagram, and was ecstatic to find it sitting on the shelf with the other chocolate bars ๐Ÿ™‚ !

birthday-cake
Birthday Cake Bar

Sprinkles and cookie crumbs gave the bar its full textured appearance, and the chocolate had a smooth flavor profile. It’s definitely a treat that can’t be missed out on!

Cafe Istanbul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vegan Oktoberfest

Vegan Oktoberfest

When I took German in high school, my teacher would always recount his favorite Oktoberfest stories around October-time. Since I was in high school during the whole health- food-reform-in-schools situation, we weren’t really “allowed” to have potlucks or parties unless they were “approved”—but my teacher was the kind of guy who always put a spin on things to make things seem educational. I mean, celebrating Oktoberfest in a high school German class makes absolute sense if you think about it (minus the beer). 

Unfortunately, my food options were quite limited being a vegetarian and all. My plate consisted of German cookies, Black Forest cake, and the one thing that had potatoes, and no meat. Based on my plate, you could say I may have not truly celebrated Oktoberfest for what it is, but things do change for the better as time goes on. Options like Vegan Oktoberfest  provide a solution for us plant-based eaters who want to partake in the fun of their meat-eating chums.

It was a bright, sunny day in Santa Monica on the day of the event.

SAMSUNG

My legs were already pretty burned out by mid-afternoon. I had run a 10 mile long run in the morning, taken the bus, and bought my weekly stash of Quest bars before heading over to Barnard Way. In other words, my morning was pretty active with all the running and walking I had done. At least I had a legitimate excuse to chow down at the fest ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

When I saw the tents and heard the Bavarian tunes, I knew I was in the right place.

SAMSUNG

I just didn’t expect to wait in this incredibly long line.

SAMSUNG

When I finally made it to the back of the line, I was hoping it wouldn’t take too long to get inside.

 Back of the line.
Back of the line.

And fortunately it didn’t, even though we were being teased by the fence.

abehindthesceneslook
Getting a sneak peak…

We were first asked for IDs since it was an alcoholic event (but I purchased the non-drinker’s admission ticket), and then we had to give up our tickets for entry. Beer drinkers got to wear a cool yellow band, but I just got a Chuck E. Cheese-style, puny-looking stamp.

 Welcome to Vegan Oktoberfest...
Welcome to Vegan Oktoberfest…

Once inside, I headed straight toward’s the Sage Vegan Truck. Since I have not visited their brick-and-mortar in Culver City yet, I treated this order as a “preview” of what to expect from their real menu. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t excited to get my hands on vegan fish ‘n’ chips! Fried jackfruit is the secret…

sagevegtruck

$13.14 after tax is a bit pricey for this tray if you ask me, but it wasn’t bad at all. The garlic fries were not that stellar, but the jackfruit made up for it. When you think about it, it does make sense to use it as a substitute for fish, given its flaky, peel-y texture. 

jackfruitfishnchipz
Vegan fish’n’chips with garlic fries, a mayo-type sauce and a sweet tomato sauce.

I sat at a long table, joining other folks who were feasting on other forms of vegan fare (and drinks!).

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After wiping my tray clean, I was on the look-out for my next food to sample. I ended up avoiding the Southern Fried Vegan Truck line, only because the line never died down!

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Before buying anything else, I scoured for freebies, and managed to get a can of this alcohol-free & natural energy drink.

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I gulped this mango ginger drink down since I felt incredibly thirsty. While it didn’t help the parched feeling in my throat, it was satisfying taste-wise. It was like I was drinking “fake soda” due to the carbonation as well ๐Ÿ˜›

Beyond Meat had a booth, and along with $1.00 off coupon, gave out vegan Bierocks made with their beef-less crumbles.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

Tofurky also had a booth set-up, and had their freebies of buttons and coupon books spread out on a table. A lady from behind a curtain was handing out vegan sausage samples.

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After finding my share of free things, I decided that perhaps I could finally allow myself to shell out some more bucks for dessert. One of the dessert trucks had some pretty cool (literally) vegan treats, but they only took cash so that was out. I decided to head back to the Sage truck area, and get myself a scoop of KindKreme in mixed berry.

kindkremeberry

When I handed the cashier my card, he tried swiping it against one of those card readers you attach to an iPhone, but for some reason, it wouldn’t pass through. In the end, he said it was on the house because they were having trouble on their end.

After indulging in my small (but free!) refreshing treat, I was tempted by the vegan baked goods that were displayed and being sold. Babycakes NYC was also present at the fest, but they were selling a limited amount of goods, and you had to purchase them in packs. I ended up visiting their booth neighbor, Life is Sweet Bakeshop, and getting a pumpkin velvet cupcake.

lifeissweetbakeshop_pumpkinvelvetcupcake

It was supposed to cost $4, but again, I was allowed to have it for free since they too were having issues with reading credit cards. While I did feel a little guilty about snagging another “on the house” item, I took it as a lucky gift and took the time to truly enjoy it. The cake was indeed moist, and fit the description of red velvet’s autumn cousin ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

It was around 4:00pm when I decided that I had enough revelry for one day…never mind the fact that I was attending a party later that night. Overall, I found the festivities to be superb even though it was the first time the event was held! It would have been nice if there were more food vendors (and samples!), but I certainly cannot complain about my outcome ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

Would you attend an event like Vegan Oktoberfest?

Natural G Foods Wave Bar Review

Natural G Foods Wave Bar Review

When I came back from Chicago, I was literally shivering until I took some Tylenol and went to bed. I didn’t even notice that a package had arrived for me while I was gone. I had forgotten that Rick and Monica of Natural G Foods were kind enough to send me their Wave Bars to review.

Even though I was suffering from a bacterial sinus infection—fever, coughing, and fatigue—I fortunately still had my appetite, and was able to sample both bars the next morning.

Wave Bar

They sent me their baked apple and mixed berry soft-baked granola bars to try, and even though the fruit ingredients were obvious, the fact that veggies like carrots, pumpkin, beets, broccoli, and kale were mixed in with the apples, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries was a well-kept secret since I couldn’t taste them at all!

In addition to the half daily serving of fruits and veggies, these bars contain anywhere from 430-440mg of omega-3’s. As a vegetarian who doesn’t consume fish, I appreciate it when snack products go out of their way to include such ingredients for the benefit of the consumer.

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Baked Apple Bar

Both bars have a soft texture that reminded me of a soft oatmeal-based cookie. Vegetable glycerin works as the binding agent, and the sweetness that hits your tastebuds is derived from ingredients like monk fruit extract and agave.

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Mixed Berry

These bars are intentionally targeted towards kids as a mid-meal snack at 170 calories per bar, and whileย a singular barย may not sate an adult’s appetite , who says you can’t eat more than one at one time? Just keep an eye on your budget ;)!

Do you eat foods meant for kids? Sometimes I wish I could still order off the Kid’s Menus at restaurants because they oftentimes have a better selection than what’s offered for adults!!

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