Back Into the Swing of Things

Back Into the Swing of Things

I came back from Spain on a Thursday, but was heavily jet-lagged for a week. My mood and emotions were all over the place, and my sleep schedule definitely took a beating. I remember wanting to take a nap at 5pm on the following Sunday, only to wake up in my pitch dark room and glancing at my phone to see that it was midnight…needless to say, getting back to my routine was a challenge, but I was able to succeed and feel somewhat like myself by the time the next weekend rolled around.

Friday Night Cat-Stalking. That's one way to get used to being back in SaMo lol
Friday Night Cat-Stalking. That’s one way to get used to being back in SaMo lol

My sister was free to meet me on a Saturday, and so we made plans to head to Hollywood and check out the Museum of Broken Relationships. A good excuse to get out of my West LA bubble, and make it to the north central part of the city for once!

Since we were in the area on a Saturday afternoon, it was impossible to escape tourist traffic. We soon found the museum unassumingly positioned at the corner of Hollywood and McCadden. It was actually much smaller than we expected…

Museum of BR
Museum of BR

It was cute though. And surprisingly, there were a ton of couples walking about…weird, haha!

The “Wedding Dress in a Jar” and the minuscule “pay attention to me” note caught my eye…

Wedding Dress in a Jar // "pay attention to me"
Wedding Dress in a Jar // “pay attention to me”

There were also some zany and crazy displays of random objects, paired with some heart-breaking stories as well. Each item was paired with a description of who donated it, when the relationship ended, and the meaning of the item.

The mini love notes were bittersweet. Not sure about that pinata tho...
The mini love notes were bittersweet. Not sure about that pinata tho…

There was a second story to the museum, where we saw this weird sculpture (?), but other than that, the displays were limited:

Not sure about the meaning of this...
Not sure about the meaning of this…

So we were out in about an hour. Our next stop was a late lunch/early dinner at Pink Taco on Sunset. After raving to my sister about it (at least based on the experience I had at Century City years ago before that location closed), she was dying to check it out too.

Finding parking was a nightmare, but we found a street parking in a nearby neighborhood and walked over.

We made it just in time for happy hour, and made ourselves comfy among the already-settled crowds of “basic” folk, haha.

Pink Taco
Pink Taco

We devoured the complimentary chips and salsa as soon as the waiter brought them over.

Lesss eat!
Lesss eat!

I already knew I wanted nachos, especially since they were cheap off the Happy Hour menu. The sis went for the tacos, and was not disappointed.

The nachos were just as magical as I remember them being. The cheese wasn’t queso-like, but there was so much guac and jalapeno peppers so it balanced out in the end.

OMG NACHOS. "Pink Taco "Mini" Nachos. Only way this happy hour $8 plate could have been better is if the cheese had been vegan 😍 but considering my voracious appetite yesterday afternoon, this did just fine πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘ŒπŸ½"
OMG NACHOS. “Pink Taco “Mini” Nachos. Only way this happy hour $8 plate could have been better is if the cheese had been vegan 😍 but considering my voracious appetite yesterday afternoon, this did just fine πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘ŒπŸ½

Our portions were just right, but when my sis suggested we get dessert close to my place before she headed home, I agreed!

So after getting through traffic, we drove down Santa Monica Blvd. until we got to Downtown SaMo. I suggested we check out Creams & Dreams.

Creams & Dreams
Creams & Dreams

I’m not sure why C&D was on my foodie list to begin with, since after stepping inside, nothing struck me as it being unique in any way. There are a number of liquid nitrogen ice cream shops now in So Cal, so I’m not sure why I had bookmarked this place…

Regardless, they had Speculoos and Nutella ice cream, so I caved and went for that (despite their offering of avocado or creamed corn)!

"Yes, there were unique-sounding liquid nitrogen ice cream flavors like avocado πŸ₯‘ and creamed corn 🌽, but my mind is pretty much made up whenever Speculoos or Nutella is concerned!"
Yes, there were unique-sounding liquid nitrogen ice cream flavors like avocado πŸ₯‘ and creamed corn 🌽, but my mind is pretty much made up whenever Speculoos or Nutella is concerned!

My sis stayed to true to her main love of chocolate, and topped it with fruity pebbles.

No surprise with her, always getting chocolate :P
No surprise with her, always getting chocolate πŸ˜›

We walked back to the car with ice cream in hand, feeling sticky from the ocean breeze. This particular weekend helped me get back into the swing of things, and ready to take on October!

Pink Taco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spiraling Out of Texas

Spiraling Out of Texas

We left Houston on Thursday morning, and since we left in the late morning, the four hours to Dallas seemed longer than it actually was. We got to Dallas around 3:30pm, and we were all ravenous. My sister and Dad had taken turns driving during these four hours, but I had a lingering headache which grew as the hours ticked on.

beckley
Spiral Diner on Beckley Ave., Dallas

We stopped at a vegan diner on Beckley Ave, just outside of downtown Dallas—Spiral Diner! Once we were inside, I was immediately reminded of Saturn Cafe in both Berkeley and Santa Cruz.

dinee
Have a seat!

We were seated right away and my sis and I ploughed through the menu trying to figure out which entree would satisfy our raging appetites. For me, I had to go with the nachos. I was craving some chips and faux queso like crazy! My sis got a faux Philly cheesesteak and my Dad a pesto pasta dish with toasted bread.

spiral
Just guess what I got…

All dishes came out beautifully presented, and close-to-perfection in taste.

gorgeous_nachos
Oh hello nachos…

I ate every single chip (plus some of my sister’s) drenched in vegan queso, sour cream, beans, olives, jalapeΓ±os, and guacamole. It hit the spot, and with several gulps of water, my headache magically went away πŸ˜‰

guacnjalapenos
Guac!

Whatever headache my sister may have had prior to this sandwich must have gone away too, no doubt about it!

sandwich
Sis’s gorg sandwich

I also had some of my Dad’s pasta dish. It wasn’t packed with flavor but it definitely tasted rich and filling with this particular sauce and pasta. The pasta was like a version of rigatoni that was smaller.

pasta
The vegan parmesan & peas made it pretty.

For the next four hours on the road, my Dad agreed to drive since it was getting dark and I did express my tiredness from lack of sleep from the past couple of days. We made it back to Tulsa close to 10pm, and I went to sleep right away.

My sis and I only had four more days back in Tulsa, and ended up having to pack in more errands than “fun” things, but I didn’t mind too much since at least we had each other’s company. We did see Fences with a family friend, but it was too long and slow for me. We also didn’t do anything exciting for New Years…on the agenda was wearing fuzzy robes, watching whatever was on TV, and sleeping before midnight struck!

1-2
Post-run requirements – fuzzy socks and a snack. Tried the Oh Yeah! One Cinnamon Roll Bar: “NYE snack from yesterday was the Cinnamon Roll Oh Yeah! One bar. The swirl and caramel ombrΓ© color of this bar were 😍 but the taste not so much πŸ™. Was it too much cinnamon? That’s my guess because something was overpowering the sweetness. Okay, next time at @vitaminshoppe it’s on to the next one!

I also went back to running on a trail I grew fond of over the past two weeks. I hit 40 miles total for both the weeks I was away, and was even running at faster-than-normal paces. I had to stop and take a picture on my last run on Monday. I literally can’t believe that two weeks went by so fast…

1-3
“I’m going to miss running on this trail! I was able to run 40 mi/week for two weeks (consecutively!), most of which was done on this trail by the Arkansas River. I also had to include some muggy Houston runs πŸ˜… haha but I’m so excited to see my mileage ramping up, and to be running faster paces that look to be consistent. Ready to head back to Cali and keep up the work!!”

This trip was special in so many ways, and I think that’s why I felt pretty blue in the days leading up to my departure and my departure day. Time is so, so precious, and it’s trips like these that make me wish we could pause frames in time to replay over and over again. While I do plan to see my sis before her graduation, I may not see my Dad until then…so not for at least another five months! But at least it will be an exciting time then as well…Europe is in our future!

How did you enjoy the last days of 2016?

Spiral Diner & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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 πŸ˜‰

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

Lunch with the Roomie

Lunch with the Roomie

This past weekend, my roommate and I finally had some time to hang out together—at least for lunch!

She wanted to check out UCLA, and even though I wanted to get some grocery shopping done (I can’t miss an opportunity to shop at Westwood’s Sprouts!), she was able to meet up with an old friend.

Prior to Saturday’s plans, I made my usual crockpot dinner much more satisfying with the addition of a Trader Joe’s pretzel bagel. I’ve also been taking them to school/lab smothered in hummus and a slice of cheese. The combination is definitely a satisfying mid-day snack!

Crockpot Veggies with a pretzel bagel <3
Crockpot Veggies with a pretzel bagel <3

On Saturday, my roommate and I took the Metro train and a bus to head on over to Westwood. For lunch, we made our way to TLT Food: the brick-and-mortar location for The Lime Truck food truck.

TLT Food ~ The Lime Truck
TLT Food ~ The Lime Truck

I remember first passing by this restaurant one day early last year, when I spent a whole day strolling through Westwood. It was because of its bright green walls and eye-catching colors, inside and out…

It took me almost a year to actually venture inside, and at least my first visit was with company! There were a few, ready-made vegetarian menu options listed, but I wanted something classic, like nachos or fries.

Pork Belly Nachos was listed, but I was able to have the pork belly subbed with spicy tofu cubes. I love it when restaurants don’t hesitate to be accomodating. My roommate got the steak fries. We were both given buzzers (like the ones they give at Olive Garden when you have to wait 20 minutes for an open table on a Saturday night…), and in the meantime, found seats.

Seating area.
Seating area.

When our buzzers lit up, we had to go to the pick-up counter to get our food.

Pick-up counter
Pick-up counter

My nachos looked classy…slightly fancier than what you’d get at a ballpark πŸ™‚

Pork Belly Nachos (minus the pork)!
Pork Belly Nachos (minus the pork)!

Even though they didn’t put my tofu cubes IN the nachos, I happily ate all eight cubes individually, appreciating the spices and texture of each boxy bite.

Spicy tofu cubes!
Spicy tofu cubes!

Without the pork belly, my nachos were comprised of crisped, puffed triangular tortilla chips (that were also slightly spiced), creamy queso, and fresh pico de gallo. I ate them by hand and with the help of a fork πŸ˜›

After lunch, my roommate and I parted ways. I headed to Sprouts for some grocery shopping, and even stopped at Bristol Farms to pick up some edible cookie dough for snacking later.

I made it home before my roommate did (haha), and dove into the cookie dough when I was all settled into my pjs, robe, and a collection of recorded tv shows I needed to catch up on.

Edoughble -
Edoughble – Chocolate Chip Off the Ol’ Block

Compared to the birthday cake flavor, I wasn’t a real fan of this chocolate chip one. It reminded me of the chocolate chip one by Cookie Dough Cafe, which I didn’t like that much…oh well!

Have you tried Trader Joe’s pretzel bagels or any of the Edoughble flavors?

If you ever had a roommate, were you friends/enemies?

TLT Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Fiery Weekend

A Fiery Weekend

My 4th of July weekend was wonderful. The only thing that I could really complain about was the heat—and even with the weather blazing like fire, I still had cravings for spicy food!

The weekend began Friday evening when we set out to one of our neighborhood parks to watch the annual fireworks show our town holds. We brought the spread for a picnic, which included veggie dogs, hot dog buns, pico de gallo salsa (homemade), corn on the cob, and freshly sliced watermelon. When the sun set and the sky turned dark enough, the 15-minute fireworks show began.

4thofjulypicnic

It truly was a bittersweet moment, knowing that this would be the last time I watched my hometown’s fireworks show—but then I thought about the future 4th of Julys’ to come in LA and any sentimental feelings I had went away πŸ˜‰

The next day, I had a craving for homemade pizza—but wanted to have it with a barbecue twist. So after a late afternoon shift at work that ended as the sun set, this dinner was a delicious treat to munch on when I came home at dusk:

Barbecue Pizza
Serves 1
A pizza for one, with a barbecue twsit. (Vegetarian)
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. - 2.5 oz. of pizza dough
  2. - Β½ cup of Boca meatless crumbles or Tofurky meatless pepperoni slices or sausage
  3. - 1 medium onion
  4. - Sliced green pepper
  5. - 2 cloves of garlic
  6. - Spoon of jalapeno peppers
  7. - 4 or 5 mushrooms (sliced)
  8. - Shredded Cheese (mozzarella or your preferred cheese)
  9. - Olive oil (to sautΓ©)
  10. - Sugar
  11. - Barbecue sauce (or mix ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce and salt)
  12. - Steamed broccoli (for the side)
For Pizza Base
  1. Roll the pizza dough out to desired size.
  2. Bake in toaster oven for 8 minutes (4 minutes per side) at 375 degrees F.
For Topping
  1. Heat olive oil.
  2. Roast chopped garlic and brown the onions. Add the β€œmeat” and mix thorougly.
  3. Add bell pepper and mushrooms and sautΓ© and peppers. Start to cook.
  4. Add the barbecue sauce, and cook another minute until the whole topping is not runny.
Putting it together
  1. Top the pizza with the barbecue topping, and cover with mozzarella or other preferred cheese.
  2. Return pizza to oven and broil till cheese is cooked to your liking.
  3. Add some steamed broccoli as a side, or another mix of steamed veggies, and eat up!
Will Study for Food http://www.willstudyforfood.com/
 Cooking the dough and prepping the topping.
Cooking the dough and prepping the topping.
 Adding the topping to the pizza.
Adding the topping to the pizza.
 Add cheese.
Add cheese.
 Added some broccoli to the side, and it was just perfect.
Added some broccoli to the side, and it was just perfect.

For dessert, I had my most recent favorite—greek yogurt mixed with carob chips! I added even more carob chips to the cup as I ate through it, making sure that each spoonful was covered with a disproportionate amount of chips.

dessert craving of the week - carob chips with greek yogurt

On Sunday, I had the morning free so that was spent at the gym. I immediately took a shower after coming home, and got ready for another day’s shift at work. This time I would get out in the early evening, so I planned to go out to have dinner with my Dad and sis.

We chose to visit Freebirds, since none of us had ever frequented the place, but were always curious about the “world famous burritos”.

Freebirds World Burrito (3)

This location was divided in half longways, so that there was a brick divider between the ordering counter and the actual dining area.

Freebirds World Burrito (4)

Freebirds World Burrito (6)

Freebirds World Burrito (7)

I decided to go with the smallest size—the Hybrid. The next one up was Freebird, then Monster, and for the ultra daring there is the SUPER MONSTER (which is not even featured on the menu)!!!

Freebirds World Burrito (5)

Since I went with a burrito, my sis decided to try an order of the Veggie Nachos and let my Dad have some of that. We both made our way down the counter, designed in a way similar to ordering a sandwich at Subway.

Freebirds World Burrito (8)

I picked out a tortilla (cayenne flavor), skipped over the meats, asked for queso sauce, and loaded up on veggies. At the end, I had my server pour on some pico de gallo and hot tomatillo sauce. For a small burrito, the end product was still quite hefty.

 My sister's nachos sitting pretty.
My sister’s nachos sitting pretty.

There was a separate counter for payment, and a soda dispenser right across from it where we got our waters. There was also a sauce dispenser shaped as motorcycle bar handles!

Freebirds World Burrito (2)

We then sat at a table to feast on our orders—but not without looking up at the ceiling and chuckling at this sight:

Freebirds World Burrito (1)
Sort of fits in with the whole 4th of July theme though!

My burrito was bursting, but the filling was kept inside nice and tight thanks to the careful wrapping of aluminum foil—at least until I reached the very end of the burrito. I couldn’t finish my burrito without having some sauce coated over my fingers.

 Veggie Hybrid Burrito (cayenne tortilla, pinto beans, roasted veggies, tomatoes, white onions, jalapenos, lettuce, pico de gallo, hot tomatillo sauce, queso)
Veggie Hybrid Burrito (cayenne tortilla, pinto beans, roasted veggies, tomatoes, white onions, jalapenos, lettuce, pico de gallo, hot tomatillo sauce, queso)

At least it wasn’t death sauce.

Freebirds World Burrito (10)

My sister’s nachos looked extremely appetizing. She liked the taste, but found the chips to be too flimsy to hold all of the various nacho toppings.

Veggie Nachos

We finished up close to 6pm, but it was still blazing hot outside and felt like it was 3pm. Weather-wise, and food-wise, my long weekend was a fiery one for sure! 

What foods did you feast on to celebrate the fourth of July?

What do you like to eat when it’s hot outside? 

Freebirds World Burrito on Urbanspoon

Chummy with Plum

Chummy with Plum

After running in my most recent half marathon, and setting a new PR for myself, I was ready to refuel with myself with some drool-inducing vegan food. So goes the eating pattern of my long run races—run for 2+ hours, snack on a sample or two of post-race freebies, then find a nearby vegan restaurant where I end up being the first lunch customer of the day. I have no shame whatsoever πŸ˜‰

The Plum Cafe was the nearest vegan location to me, and after making a quick stop at Whole Foods to redeem my free runner’s recovery kit, they were open for lunch. 

front

The restaurant is more of a cafe housed in a cozy, old-style two-story building meant to be a home. Upon stepping inside, the place was also boasting a collection of assorted vegan and gluten-free cupcakes, so it quickly lived up to its reputation as a bakery.

 Blurry pics of cash register and baked goods case.
Blurry pics of cash register and baked goods case.
 Kombucha on tap. They even had a tumeric flavor?!?
Kombucha on tap. They even had a tumeric flavor?!?

My dad was there as company since he wasn’t that hungry, and I knew what I wanted. I just used the outdoor menu as an excuse to take more photos!

The Plum Cafe and Bakery (12)

The Plum Cafe and Bakery (13)

The Plum Cafe and Bakery (14)

I ordered a half-size chili cheez nachos plate, and the cashier had to do a double-take on the time since she expected more customers to be coming in for Sunday brunch, which they opened for around 10AM. Like I said, I’m used to being the first lunch customer of the day on race days like these…

While the kitchen went to work on my order, I took the time to take some more pictures of the cafe, in a semi-discrete manner. The quarters are quite tight and small, so it was difficult to not look somewhat awkward standing in the hall πŸ˜›

The Plum Cafe and Bakery (6)

 Brunch room. I just want my nachos :P
Brunch room. I just want my nachos πŸ˜›

In the back, there was more outdoor seating with nice furniture and music playing.

setting

They were actually playing Disclosure’s “Latch” by the time I got settled and put my orange “table number holder” down.

 The wedding magazine was already on the table---wasn't mine!
The wedding magazine was already on the table—wasn’t mine!

As I was waiting for my food, I noticed a pile of uncleaned dishes in the distance that still had food in them. Which had me question how people could waste food at a vegan restaurant?!

The Plum Cafe and Bakery (10)

Even though I ordered the chili cheez nachos, I realized that they had just given me the regular nachos since it had lime crema sauce instead of chili.

 Nachos, half-size: corn chips (rounds), nacho cheez, refried beans, fresh salsa (?), olives, avocado, lime crema.
Nachos, half-size: corn chips (rounds), nacho cheez, refried beans, fresh salsa, olives, avocado, lime crema. All for $7.

The sauces seemed more runny than expected, but the flavors were still there. The beans were mediocre and reminded me of regular canned vegetarian refried beans. I loved the huge chunks of avocado though. The chips were doused in so much topping, I pretty much had a salad to finish once the chips were all consumed πŸ˜›

My “half” plate was a good lunch portion, and kept me refueled and recharged. I passed on dessert, at least in the cafe. I decided to honor my cravings for one of the Luna protein chocolate coconut bars I still managed to save from the race instead.

What’s your favorite food/cuisine to treat yourself with after a long race?

Plum Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

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