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.

inside
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!

chips
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 🙂 !

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

Dune Kitchen

Dune Kitchen

Since Sunday was the last day of summer— the last day before the semester began again—I made it a priority to go out for a late lunch, even if it meant a boring, hour-long mid-day bus ride to Atwater Village in Glendale. When classes start, work multiplies by a bajillion, so I was anxious to squeeze in as much relaxation/carefree time within 24 hours…

I don’t count my lab work as real work (since working on a project has more structure and meaning than reading countless papers for class…), even on the weekends 😉

So after lab and the bus ride, I had to walk through a residential area to finally get onto Glendale Ave.

Interesting house architecture and colors in the distance...
Interesting house architecture and colors in the distance…

As I continued forth on the road, I passed by local boutiques, a dance studio, and finally found Dune Kitchen…the place I hoped would have something to appease the sudden Mediterranean food craving I developed in the days leading up to the weekend.

Glendale Ave.
Glendale Ave.

Dune Kitchen would have been so difficult to find if I had not seen a picture for its exterior prior to my visit. Inside, the gray, unassuming theme continued onwards. The only inside seating was bar-style, but there were tables outside right in front.

interior 2
Not much lighting even though it is bright outside!

I made my order for a hummus + falafel plate at the cash register, and as soon as I found a seat, my plate came out in all of its glory. Not a minute was wasted, and that’s just how I like it 😉

interior
The interior of kitchen!

There were some condiments and hot sauce at the counter, but unadulterated hummus is the way to go if you ask me.

4
Condiments at the counter.

It was hard not to take countless pictures from different angles of this beauty of a plate.

plate
Hummus and falafel plate = love

There were three spinach-flavored falafels, with sauce drizzled over them…

flf
Falafel love

…spicy cabbage and onions (<—the onions were my favorite!!)

cabbageonions
Cabbage with a BUNCH of spices.

The star of the plate at the center: hummus with chickpeas in sauce:

chickpeas
Hummus with chickpeas

And a fun assortment of diced pickles 🙂

insidefala
Pickles, falafel close-up, and sauce!!!

I even found a miniature flower in the middle of my greens!

flower
Flower in my food :3

The pita bread was soft, pliable, and just so perfect with the hummus, which honestly was hard to split among my three falafel and veggies in the plate! I made it all work in the end though…maybe too perfectly since by the time I demolished my plate, I realized how insane my hummus craving was. 😛

Click to add a blog post for Dune Kitchen on Zomato

Mediterranean Craving

Mediterranean Craving

By the end of our third day in the LA area, my Dad and I were both too tired to complain about LA traffic. We both had a long and eventful day, and wanted needed to get something to eat, quick.

We were staying in the Pasadena area, and I had found yet another veggie-friendly place to check out. By the time we got to the area it was supposed to be in though, we noticed that they were either closed on the weekday we chose to make their presence, or they were closed for good.

Seeing as we were both too tired to find a similar restaurant some place else, I went with my gut and noticed I felt hungry for Mediterranean food. Thankfully, this place was right across the street ready to appease my craving.

Pita Jungle Menu

I actually didn’t know it then, but Pita Jungle is not unique to Cali. While they have three locations in California, they are all over Arizona.

The restaurant itself was very spacious, and the brick walls reminded me of an Italian Restaurant/Pizzeria for some reason.

Spacious in Pita Jungle.

The tables were clean and slick.

Tabletop

Our waitress was all smiles when she came to take our orders. I was really craving hummus and baba ghanoush, but after I looked over the pita section, and after reading that any chicken or beef can be replaced with tofu, I decided on the Philly Chicken Tofu Pita. My Dad stole my original idea and ordered something off the Starters section of the menu—the Mediterranean Antipasto Platter.

It was a busy weeknight, so our wait was semi-long. Perhaps it felt longer because we were getting hungrier and hungrier as time passed.

View from the Bathroom Hallway

After waiting in line to use the restroom, I gave up and hoped that our food was ready. Indeed it was.

My pita sandwich. I have to admit that I did NOT eat it “properly”. Even though I had a pita sandwich craving, I attacked the filling with a fork and finished off the pita bread by itself. No matter which way you choose to eat this though, it is a sandwich that would be enjoyed by most, if not all!

Grilled marinated chicken breast, bell peppers, sauteed onions, topped with Swiss cheese and wood-fired in a Greek pita.
Grilled marinated chicken breast White tofu cubes, bell peppers, sauteed onions, topped with Swiss cheese and wood-fired in a Greek pita.

My Dad’s Mediterranean Antipasto Platter was worth being jealous over…

Hummus, baba ganoosh, tzatziki, taboule, feta cheese, dolmades, falafel, ratatouille and two pitas.
Hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki, taboule, feta cheese, dolmades, falafel, ratatouille and two pitas.

…but he was gracious and let me help myself to some of the samplings. Baba ghanoush and hummus cravings: annihilated.

Dinner concluded with some froyo from Pinkberry. For some reason, my family and friends prefer self-serve over the Pinkberry style of service where an employee makes a cup for you. I like both types of froyo services, so I find it hard to wrap my head around the notion of someone not loving Pinkberry. Especially when you have the option of getting peanut butter froyo with mochi and dark chocolate crispies as toppings!!

PB Froyo with Mochi and Dark Choco Crispies!

I guess the recent Mediterranean dining experience I had stuck with me the few days following the trip, since I wanted to recreate the baba ghanoush I sampled from the Mediterranean Antipasto Platter. Unfortunately, we had no eggplant in the house over the weekend, but we had a plentiful amount of chow chow squash :P!

Well, it sufficed.

Chow Chow Ghanoush

Chow Chow Ganoush with Flatbread and Apple

 

Ingredients

  • 1 chow chow, steamed
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive oil for sautéing

Directions

  • Blend chow chow, garbanzo beans, salt, and lemon juice in blender to fine consistency.
  • Sauté chopped onion and garlic in olive oil and garnish.  Add to the previous blend.
  • Sprinkle with pepper.
  • Enjoy with some pita bread :)!

Chow Chow Ganoush

It may have come out more watery than regular baba ganoush, but it was pretty good substitute :).

Pita Jungle on Urbanspoon

What’s your fav Med. condiment: hummus, baba ganoush, or tzatziki?

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