Birthday and The Rockwell

Birthday and The Rockwell

In the days leading up to my birthday last year, I was under what seemed like insurmountable stress, and getting away from everything was more than necessary on my birthday. My 24th was a fun one thanks to the thoughtfulness of my Dad, sister, and friend who went out of their way to give me company when I felt so lonely and was running on fumes…

This year was the first time I celebrated my actual birthday with no close family nearby. But I didn’t mind, because the day felt like any other day, other than the fact I turned a quarter of a century years old šŸ˜›

It started with a short run, specifically a speed workout, and from there, I was off to lab.

In lab, E surprised me with a gift (a Turkish tea set!) and after getting some work done in the morning, she and another one of my lab mates joined me for lunch. They had cake ready and thawed when we came back to the office, and we spent some more time chatting over cake.

I managed to get some more work done in the afternoon, but things slowed down around 5. I asked E if she wanted to join me for dinner at The Rockwell in Los Feliz, since I had been asked if I could come review their summer menu. Being able to set up the visit on my birthday was definitely a plus šŸ™‚

We took the metro over to Los Feliz since leaving to get the car and then driving through traffic didn’t seem like the best idea. When we got off at Vermont and Sunset however, we were greeted by extremely humid weather and…rain?! LA was acting crazy!

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We entered through the stage/club side first, and thought it was strange that a restaurant could be so dark. 

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Luckily, we had the sense to walk around the building and find the restaurant entrance.

The Rockwell, Los Feliz
The Rockwell, Los Feliz

We were greeted by some wait staff who at first didn’t know about the review visit, but we were able to grab some seats near the back, in a cozy little booth with a earthy-looking theme.

Getting cozy!
Getting cozy!

We were given the menu and took some time to figure out what sounded best. The skillet cauliflower ‘n’ cheese initially caught my eye, but E was eyeing it too, so I thought I’d get something different so we could share and try a variety of items.

E also got the RW Quinoa Burger (After figuring out that RW stands for Rockwell, haha), and I ended up choosing one of their wood stone flatbreads, the forest mushroom to be exact.

We were able to put in our order, and we didn’t have to wait too long for our food to arrive. In the meantime, we met The Rockwell’s owner/manager, and sipped on some cold glasses of water.

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We were amazed by how big the portions were when everything came out. And despite the muggy weather outside, we welcomed the warmth radiating from the food and couldn’t wait to dig in.

RW QUINOA BURGER ~ black bean, onion, sun-dried tomato, vegan mango chutney aioli
RW QUINOA BURGER ~ black bean, onion, sun-dried tomato, vegan mango chutney aioli

E wasn’t able to finish her burger, but she was ecstatic to find such a generous portion of avocado laid out so finely on her crisp quinoa patty.

My woostone flatbread was composed of wild mushrooms, leeks, white sauce, and truffle oil. It actually reminded me of the pizza I had at Pizza Studio a couple months ago, but the flatbread crust of this pizza had an intriguing texture. It was perfectly crisp on the outside, and pliable and chewy on the inside. Birthday calories obviously don’t count, and I had no problem getting through all of it šŸ˜›

FOREST MUSHROOM WOODSTONE FLATBREAD ~ WILD MUSHROOMS, LEEK, WHITE SAUCE & TRUFFLE OIL
FOREST MUSHROOM WOODSTONE FLATBREAD ~ WILD MUSHROOMS, LEEK, WHITE SAUCE & TRUFFLE OIL

I had some of E’s cauliflower ‘n’ cheese, which was described as a dish of multi-colored florets coated with golden panko crust and covered in cheese. It definitely wasn’t skimping on the cheese, and even though it’s an item under their “shareables”, it could easily be a rich entree if you so choose!

SKILLET CAULIFLOWER ā€œNā€ CHEESE ~ purple, yellow, white florets with golden panko crust
SKILLET CAULIFLOWER ā€œNā€ CHEESE ~ purple, yellow, white florets with golden panko crust

For the amount of food we got, and the quality, the cost was understandable and not too expensive. We had our meal covered, but the price range is certainly not out of reach if you are looking for a cozy, patio-style restaurant with shareable, bar food appetizers and classic entrees with a fresh, Californian (more like Hollywood-inspired) twist. They also hold shows throughout the month, the tickets to which are sold separately from dining in at the restaurant.

E and I took the train back, and I made it home close to 10pm. It was a busy, long birthday, but for what I did and who I surrounded myself with, I think I welcomed my 25th year the happiest way I could.

Rockwell Table & Stage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Week One With the Sis

Week One With the Sis

I’ve finally caught up on my travel posts, but coming back meant starting a crazy work schedule in lab. Summer is no time to slack off, haha. 
 
A lot of my time-intensive experiments were beginning at the end of the month, so the the two weeks after my trip were spent planning for the arduous weeks ahead. At least I had my sister with my for moral support. 
 
With no landlords in the house for the first week we were back, we had free reign over the kitchen. Scrambled eggs, with a side of bread and cooked veggies from a pan was our staple dish, and of course we accompanied it with snacks. 
 
Throughout the week, I sampled many of the snacks I brought back from our trip, including these Grenade protein flapjacks.
 
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The original Grenade bars contain gelatin so unfortunately, I haven’t been able to sample those, but these protein flapjacks were a decent option for vegetarians. One of the reasons I love the U.K.? The “suitable for vegetarians” logo…
 
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I had the Coconut Chaos and Fused Fruit flavors, and while the coconut one was my favorite of the two, I thought the chewy but dense consistency of the bar made it seem more like a slab of dry cake rather than a flapjack (if we are using the word to refer to pancakes here, haha)! 
 
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The Cadbury’s Oreo Mint bar was an immediate favorite of mine, as it had a soft mint cream filling with a slight crunchy texture from the Oreo cookie pieces. 
 
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I also picked up a number of Nakd products, including a bar flavor that was new and some flavor-infused raisins…
 
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I didn’t think the Apricot Crunch flavor had enough “crunch”, as its texture and flavor consistency was similar to other Nakd bars, but it had a mild fruity flavor that seemed to distinguish it from the other bar flavors. Although, I must admit it’s been a while since I had a Nakd bar, so I can’t be too sure, haha! The cherry-infused raisins however were unlike anything I’ve ever had before.

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I’ve never been too keen on raisins, but these seemed to taste as if cherry juice was individually pumped into each raisin to give it a kick of flavor. I wouldn’t mind eating these to fulfill my daily fruit serving!

And then there were the chocolate spreads…

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This Cadbury’s chocolate spread was thinner than Nutella, but it literally tasted like a melted Cadbury’s milk chocolate bar so all was good.

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It made a packet of plain oatmeal much tastier, šŸ˜›

 This Malteasers Teasers spread won me over too.
 
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It had small crunchy malt pieces, and my sister and I added it to some yogurt with a broken Wispa bar (a bar I wasn’t too fond of chocolate-flavoring-wise, but it did have an airy, bubble filling.
 
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After a few days cooking and snacking from home, my sister and I had dinner out on a Friday evening since that’s when my landlords came back from their trip. It also happened to be a long, exhausting day for me at lab, so having my sister come pick me up from the train station and drive down to downtown SaMo was such a relief.

We had dinner at Wahoo’s Fish Taco, which surprisingly had plenty of veggie options. You could substitute tofu for pretty much any meat item, and so that made it easy when figuring out what burritos and tacos to get.

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It felt so great to be out on a Friday night with company, chatting about our days and looking forward to the weekend. I was going to drag her into lab with me (just for the mornings šŸ˜‰ ), but after that we had plans to go to Irvine to check on a potential apartment for her.

We split a burrito packed with tofu, rice, and black beans, and had tacos made to our liking. Mine was topped with a delicately-cut avocado.

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With the taco and half a burrito, my sister and I managed well. The meal was satisfying and just enough for both of us.

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Instead of walking over to the beach (it’s literally a few blocks away), we drove back home and transitioned into couch potato mode. We fell asleep immediately, but got up the next day feeling refreshed. The week had been a great start and welcome for June!

Wahoo's Fish Taco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

What Would Rodin Say?

What Would Rodin Say?

Our last day in Paris fared better than the previous two days, but Paris still couldn’t win me over. We began the day with a sweet breakfast at Maison Passos, a patisserie we hoped carried creme brulee for my sister, but no luck. Instead, we got soggy Nutella crepes. A fantastic representation of quality French dessert selections šŸ˜›

Soggy Nutella crepes. Only in Paris, France...
Soggy Nutella crepes. Only in Paris, France…

From there, we decided to pass on the Louvre Museum and instead pay a visit to the Musee Rodin. On our walk there, we encountered some schoolchildren who we assumed were heading over to the museum for a field trip. We followed them just to be sure, haha!

We passed what we think was a military museum?
We passed what we think was a military museum?

The schoolchildren weren’t going into the Musee Rodin, but we did find it tucked away on a narrow street. The entrance was a huge courtyard, and we found our way into the ticket sales line. Of course, the sales people had issues with our credit card/their credit card machine so we held up the line for a good twenty minutes. I was getting irritated by the tourists behind us commenting on how “that’s why they don’t pay with credit card”. Shut up, I’m not going to carry around 100 Euros in my pocket only to have it snatched from a pickpocket, only to be more convenient to others šŸ˜›

We did make it through though.

Visitor for the day
Visitor for the day

We made our way through the courtyard, and observed that all the “serious/artsy” sculptures were outside in direct sunlight and closest to the entrance. “The Thinker” was one of these iconic sculptures.

"The Thinker is a bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin, usually placed on a stone pedestal. "
“The Thinker is a bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin, usually placed on a stone pedestal. “

We had more fun looking and taking pictures of (and with) the sculptures towards the back.

The funny guyz
The funny guyz

Inside the museum, there were more works that were smaller in size, and that were sculpted in different mediums.

Thought this one was elegant...
Thought this one was elegant…

That was enough culture for one morning, and we had built up a strong enough appetite for lunch. We thought our final meal out in Paris should be at an authentic French cafe with outdoor seating, and we were lucky to find one that also served vegetarian cuisine! Le Grenier de Notre-Dame is apparently the first first vegetarian and macrobiotic restaurant to open in Paris, in 1978.

We started off with water and fruity drinks.

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I ended up ordering a ratatouille/hot pot like dish, but it turned out it to be a thin tomato soup with veggie dogs thrown in with cooked veggies.

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I wasn’t too thrilled by it after seeing what my sis and Dad got.

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Their full plates came with crisp dressed side salads, a spinach quiche-like slice, rice/quinoa in tomato sauce, and poached egg. I had their leftovers, for sure.

Our meal was filling enough to carry us across to Notre Dame across the street. It was blazing hot though, and the thought of standing in line to enter the cathedral seemed too exhauting for my sis and I. Our Dad went in to take pictures while we rested in the shade, and admired the architecture of the cathedral from the outside. We even observed a couple in wedding garb taking pictures, and my sister and I were surprised that the bride didn’t mind her dress collecting dust and dirt from the surroundings.

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When my Dad came out, we walked for a couple more blocks trying to find creme brulee. We walked into chocolate shops, countless patisseries, and even the equivalent of mall food courts but we couldn’t find the one dessert my sister was dying to have besides her usual chocolate. We eventually gave up the search, and found a Monoprix to get some food gifts to take home.

I had fun exploring the aisles and finding some funny, rebranded items marketed for the French.

Who is Vaiana? And no indication that "Very Bad Kids" are indeed sour gummies.
Who is Vaiana? And no indication that “Very Bad Kids” are indeed sour gummies.

We made it back to the apartment earlier than the previous day, but still feeling accomplished about exploring Paris to the best of our abilities. My sister and I agreed that it would take some really special circumstances to ever come back, but at least we made the most of the experience and had stories to tell. Travel tidbits such as 1) stay away from Gare du Nord and 2) know how to read a used ticket stub were important skills to learn, but things I was glad not to worry about after our three-day stay.

Our two weeks flew by fast, but I was happy for the opportunity to do this with my family, at the time we did it. However, I must say, I can’t deny that I was eager to return home!

Return to London

Return to London

We left Wales on a Monday morning (more like mourning…) with a sad Little M that didn’t even want to come to the train station to see us off because she was upset. I felt the same way—I didn’t want to leave! 
 
Little P and her Dad accompanied us, and we left the train station back to London around 9. It was a pleasant ride back, and got crowded only one stop before Paddington. People were dressed up in light blue and white, and some sports event was going on (maybe soccer—erhm, football?) so that must have caused the crowds. 
 
We took the Tube to Euston Station in King’s Cross, closer to where we were staying for our second hotel. We checked in early, and then walked back to the station to figure out where we were off to. Since I never got my vegan fish and chips, I did push for us all to get Cornish pasties. I vaguely remember being fond of the cheese ones as a child. I had to find and eat one for the memories! 
 
pasties
Golden, flaky savory pies!
 
Luckily for us, The Pasty Shop was right there and so we were able to treat my cravings. We ended up getting a mixed veggie and a mushroom filled one since those were the ones labeled as being vegetarian.
 
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The Pasty Shop in Euston station
 
There weren’t any seats inside the food stall as the pasties were meant for take-away, so we went to the Starbucks next door and munched on them, haha! 
 
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Vegetarian savory pasties
 
The crust was super flaky, and of course you could smell and taste the butter coating. The filling was mediocre—I wish I remembered which shop carried those cheese pasties I was fond of!  
 
After eating, my Dad and sis went off to the Tate Museum. I wasn’t in the mood for museum walking, and thought it would be more interesting to walk around a neighborhood on my own, perhaps do some shopping. Act like a local for a day…and I got away with it until I had to talk to cashiers and my accent wasn’t British…
 
I ended up going to Hammersmith because there were a few stores I wanted to check out there. 
 
primark
Primark Euston
 
My first stop was at Primark, a cleaner, less ostentatious version of Forever 21. I think I spent almost two hours in here, and only bought some basics like socks and layering tanks! 
 
I then hopped on over to Holland and Barrett’s (a fancy British version of GNC), Poundland (lol like the Dollar Store), and T.K.  Maxx. Yes, T. K. Maxx.  Oh, and were the clothing items better than what could be found at T.J. Maxx. 
 
And of course…I didn’t buy any more clothing than what I got from Primark, but as far as British brand protein bars and chocolates from Poundland, I got that covered. 
 
My sis and Dad eventually made their way to Hammersmith as well, after their Tate Museum adventure. It had started to sprinkle, and we weren’t too hungry to go out and find a place to eat. We were all content with going to Sainsbury’s to pick up some snacks and fixings to make a simple meal at the hotel. We had to hurry into the store quickly though, because everyone was closing up shop early due to the Bank Holiday. 
 
It was tiring train ride back, but once we got back to the hotel, I immediately showered and got into lounge mode. Along with having some hummus with crackers and a half a sandwich, I tried out some of my snack purchases from the day, like this Cadbury’s chocolate bar filled with popping jelly candy. 
 
Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy Shells
Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy Bar
 
Can someone tell me why chocolate from the States is NOTHING like this?! Seriously, popping candy and jelly pieces stuffed in the middle of a solid milk chocolate bar?!? Haha. 
 
I also tried the Toffee Treat flavor of the Nakd Bites I first tried when we first stopped in London, before Wales. 
 
Nakd Toffee Treat Nibbles
Nakd Toffee Treat Nibbles
 
All of this while rearranging our stuff for Paris, and watching Britain’s Got Talent. We would leave from St. Pancras (I wanted to say St. Pancreas the whole time lol) to take the Eurostar train to Paris immediately in the morning, so we made sure to have all of our stuff ready to go. 
 
st. pancras
Walking around in the evening near St. Pancras
 
I wasn’t sure I wanted to say goodbye to the U.K. just yet, and actually with the way things in France went, I would not have given a mind at all if we had made a decision to complete our trip here. More on that in the next post…

The Pasty Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Moving Out, Flying Out

Moving Out, Flying Out

My sister’s graduation fell on a Friday and we felt like there was so much to do in so little time! While I went out for a long run at Woodward Park, my Dad drove over to my sister’s dorm to help her finish up with packing. Our close friend also came down for the weekend, and helped out.

After my run, I showered and got ready to meet everyone for brunch. My sister wanted it to be at Benaddiction since that has been her all-time favorite place in Fresno since we both discovered it during one of my earlier visits. We caught up quickly and laughed a lot. The restaurant was already pretty loud so it was no big deal. My friend and sis got their usual favorites while I got a simple potato plate. I also had some of mint chocolate chip pancakes they just had to order…

After brunch, I left with my Dad and the both of us went back to the Airbnb while my sister got ready for the ceremony. We met her and my friend again about an hour before, and my sister left us all to join her class.

After looking at the program though, we were dreading how long everything was going to take…My sister’s major was one of the first ones to step up though, so we didn’t have to wait too long for her to get her spotlight šŸ™‚

After the ceremony, it was blazing hot outside (still…) and I wanted to just head back and cool off but of course we had to take pictures. I headed back with my sister and friend since I was staying in the dorm for the night.

We rested for a bit before making plans to head out to The Cheesecake Factory. It was going to be a late dinner, but surprisingly, not as packed as you’d think it would be on a graduation day.

We met up with another one of my sister’s friends who graduated with a degree in Communications. After dinner (and drinks for some, haha), we were back at the dorm around 10:30. My sister’s friend from lab came over with some friends, and by the time it was 11:30, there were seven people packed into a tiny dorm room. It was a hilarious sight…something I probably would have found humorous at the time if my eyes weren’t so droopy. I retired for the night earlier than everyone else and slept like a baby!

The next day was a day full of packing and driving. We left Fresno mid-morning and got to Irvine around 5pm, and had to quickly catch the sales clerk at the public storage facility my sister was keeping her things for the summer. We had to climb a flight of stairs to unload her stuff into, and by the time we were done, we were all ready to eat before heading back to my place to rest for the night.

Veggie Grill sounded perfect, and we were able to head to the one at The Market Place…a HUGE outdoor mall/shopping complex in Irvine.

Veggie Grill, The Market Place
Veggie Grill, The Market Place
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I wanted to try a seasonal menu item, and the Tofu Poke Bowl seemed like it would be nourishing and flavorful.

Spring seasonal menu!
Spring seasonal menu!

It looked small at first glance, but the flavors were anything but. The rice was sticky and filling (sushi rice!), and along with the pickled cucumbers, avocado, edamame, and tofu cubes, this dish certainly was satisfying.

Tofu Poke Bowl
Tofu Poke Bowl
Sparkle!
Sparkle!

After eating, we had another 40 minutes on the road before arriving in Santa Monica. The drive back wasn’t too hectic, as we weren’t in a race against the clock to see if we could beat the closing time of a storage place. Once we got back to my place, the three of us started arranging our things and emotionally preparing ourselves for our Trans-Atlantic journey the next day—we were hours away from adopting the title of “Tourists” for the next two weeks!

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 šŸ™‚ ! 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.

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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

Hot Weather Shenanigans

Hot Weather Shenanigans

The day after my first double run, I granted myself a rest day and enjoyed the extra hour or so in bed resting my sore head (later on in the week, I had my first migraine, and I’m thinking the trigger might have been the extreme weather change). Surprisingly, my leg muscles felt fine (probably due to the rolling I did!), but my head felt heavy, which I’m assuming was due to spending so much time exerting myself in he heat.

Needless to say, the rest day was absolutely necessary. I went into lab later in the morning, but since E was also in, we decided to head downtown together for some lunch. It was unbearably hot outside though, and the walk from 7th st. all the way to Grand Central Market had us feeling like we were melting. I was even in a tank top and shorts and felt like I was burning!

It was my first time visiting GCM (and I call myself an Angeleno!), and seeing all the foodie shops clustered in one place like that reminded me of a more crowded, packed version of the Tustin Marketplace. We first thought about checking out Eggslut, but the line was so serpentine that we thought it’d be best to try it out some other day. Instead, we opted for meals at two different stalls.

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Berlin Currywurst at Grand Central Market

I found my meal of choice at Berlin Currywurst. The last time I had a vegetarian currywurst was ages ago, so I was happy to be able to have it again.

Berlin
Small space, crowded counter.

My options were limited, but I was able to get a medium spicy tofu kielbasa currywurst plate. It even came with half of a crusty bread roll to mop any of that excess thick tomato-based sauce!

berlincurrywurst
Spent a hot Sunday trying to keep cool at Grand Central Market. It was my first time visiting the place too! Eggslut had a serpentine line, so I hopped on over to Berlin Currywurst, and chowed down on this spicy Tofu Kielbasa Currywurst with a hearty chunk of bread šŸ˜‹šŸ˜‹

E found a stall selling avocado toast that came out with such beautiful presentation. My side beet salad was nothing in comparison. I’m not even sure why I got it…I had assumed it was part of the meal but then I realized I had to pay extra for it šŸ˜›

food
Why did I get this excuse for a salad?

After lunch, I hurried on home to catch up on sleep and just chill. I also tried another flavor of D’s Naturals Fluffbutter—Brownie Batter! Now I only have one more new-to-me flavor left to try…

fluffbutter
Brownie Batter? This flavor from @dsnaturals is more like Brownie BUTTER. The texture was smooth, yet each spoonful was dense. There was a strong cocoa taste that was the defining feature of this flavor. My only complaint—with all of the D’s Naturals Fluffbutters actually—is the oil separation. It’s always so difficult to make the oil mix through evenly, even though I attempt to do so with each jar. The last couple tablespoons at the bottom of each jar are always the driest as a result.

Overall, I thought it had a very sharp cocoa taste, and quite a thick texture. I still have issues with mixing up all the oil thoroughly in the jar—it just has a tendency to pool up on top!

I also managed to order four new The Lion’s Pack cookie dough flavors to try during the week. My favorite of the four I purchased was this “Teddy Dough”.

"Why HELLO there TEDDY DOUGH šŸ» šŸ» šŸŖ šŸŖ!! It's been a while since I placed a @thelionschoice cookie dough order---long enough to get a four pack of flavors I haven't tried yet! Teddy Dough is one of them, and I actually kinda love the more grainy texture this one has in comparison to the stickier consistency the other ones have. But I was expecting some broken teddy grahams to be mixed in...guess they just ground them down šŸ» šŸ˜§"
Why HELLO there TEDDY DOUGH šŸ» šŸ» šŸŖ šŸŖ!! It’s been a while since I placed a @thelionschoice cookie dough order—long enough to get a four pack of flavors I haven’t tried yet! Teddy Dough is one of them, and I actually kinda love the more grainy texture this one has in comparison to the stickier consistency the other ones have. But I was expecting some broken teddy grahams to be mixed in…guess they just ground them down šŸ» šŸ˜§

I thought this cookie dough would have crushed teddy graham cookies, but I think they were all finely-ground because the texture of the cookie dough was so smooth. It was like a crumbly sunflower butter jar with a mild cinnamon flavor. I could even detect a taste of honey.

The one I was most surprised by was Red Velvet. I had much higher expectations for this one, but the jar I got had dough that was too sticky, and with a texture that was reminiscent more of cake than cookie dough.

redvelvet
I have to be honest—wasn’t a huge fan of @thelionschoice Red Velvet Cake cookie dough. My batch at least had the consistency of a gooey sponge cake, rather than a thick, paste-like cookie dough which I was expecting. The flavor was quite bland, and the chocolate bits did little to help enhance the flavor profile. Ah well, I have to admit I can’t complain about the quantity I got—my jar was literally full to the brim!

Butterscotch Maple Cookie didn’t come across as a flavor worth remembering. Sure, there were a decent amount of butterscotch chips thrown in, but the flavor base was quite bland.

butter
Butterscotch Maple Cookie: not sure what’s so “cookie” about it!

Finally, there was Cran-Orange. The mix-ins definitely overpowered the cookie dough base with this flavor, and it was definitely the frutiest of the bunch. It even had some white chocolate pieces thrown in so that was a plus!

cranorange
Honestly, this flavor (and its colors) reminded me of Fall…

Has the weather drastically changed where you live?

Do you get migraines?

Berlin Currywurst 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…

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@fitjoynutrition , I think you’re getting better at this protein bar thing šŸ˜‰

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.

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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.

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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

Little Lab Outing

Little Lab Outing

We recently has a post-doc leave our lab to pursue a new job, and as a result, we’ve been shifting the seating arrangements of our lab personnel…in other words, my lab bestie (E) moved into the office I am in, as well as another person I like talking to in lab! From the two offices our lab occupies, my office became the “loud and fun one” pretty much overnight šŸ˜›

To celebrate the new arrangements, me, E, and our other colleague went out for lunch Tuesday afternoon. Azla Vegan Ethiopian was a food court-style restaurant in a mini shopping complex called Mercado de Paloma, but this specific food spot was a place I had on my foodie radar for a while now (like so many places I am realizing, haha)!

azla
Azla Ethiopian Vegan

E and I ended up eating here while our colleague got a quesadilla lunch from one of the other food court stalls. We picked 3-4 side items, and got two rolls of injera with our plates.

deliciousveganfood
Small, but one of the cuter storefronts in the shopping complex.

We were able to pick from dressed lentil salads, curried lentils, greens, cooked vegetables, and spicy tofu to pair up with our injera.

saladstoeat
Salads!

There was also a small assortment of vegan baked goods, but we (well at least I did!) knew our plates would be filling enough.

theressweetstuff
Savory, and a bunch of sweets.

E’s plate was full, packed and looked delicious! I didn’t get the lentil salad, but looking at E’s plate made me second-guess that decision.

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E’s plate

My plate had the curried lentils, boiled potatoes/cabbage/carrot, gomen (cooked spinach), and two rolls of injera. The three of us walked over with our plates of food and found a table to sit at, amongst racks of clothes and in front of other food stalls.

lentilsvegspinachinjera
My plate šŸ™‚

We spent the next hour enjoying our lunch and each other’s company. I made this comment on Instagram, but being able to go out for lunch on a Tuesday with lab mates, and not having food be the focus felt so refreshing. It was just another reminder that I am progressing through recovery, and that I’m also improving when it comes to taking advantage of social opportunities. I’m forming relationships, and allowing those to grow while, gradually with each day, I am squashing that eating disorder voice. This is recovery in action, and I’m loving that days like these are starting to occur more in frequency.

We went back to work after lunch, but I felt much more energized from both the food and endorphin burst from all the laughing we did. I’m sure these lunches will become a regular occurrence, and seeing that it took me two years to feel “at home” at work, I couldn’t be happier about this prospect.

Do you hang out with work colleagues outside of work?

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

January Degustabox

January Degustabox

Having a hefty box of goods from DegustaBox to start the new year was something I was very excited about!

january_deg
January’s DegustaBox

It was a half miss/half win for me this month in regards to these products. I couldn’t have a couple due to the ingredients, but the ones I could consume were good (despite some of my critiques, haha) on many accounts!

ā™„

I normally don’t think about buying microwaveable popcorn from the grocery store, but having the option to have it as a snack for three weeknights was a nice change in routine! This kind was lightly buttered, but had quite the kick of salt. It made procrastinating with Netflix a whole lot easier and fun, haha.

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Jolly Time – Healthy Pop Butter Popcorn

I also got a small pack of Entenmann’s Little Bites in Party Cake flavor.

p_party_cakes
Entenmann’s Little Bites ~ Party Cakes

The cakes were super moist and glistened at the top, and took their calorie density seriously. Only four are provided in a pack that’s 190 calories. They are called “little bites” for a reason, but I think only putting in four miniature cakes in a packet is disappointing. And no frosting either…ah well, at least each “bite” was delectable šŸ˜›

party_cakes
Soft little bites.

The Berry Good Smart Kids bar I had wasn’t one of my faves. The bar was a cereal-type bar, dusty with berry pieces mixed into the bar. I think the powdery coating is what made me not appreciate this bar. The texture was just too rough for something you’d think would be chewy, especially if berries are involved.

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Smart Kids Bar ~ Berry Good

Unfortunately, I had to skip out on trying three products this month. These Organic fruit chews were one of them, as they contained gelatin.

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Go Organically Fruit Snacks ~ Fruit Medley

These Welch’s fruit chews might have tasted nice, and while they didn’t have gelatin, they did have confectioners glaze/lac-resin, which is derived from secretions from the lac insect. So I had to pass on these as well…

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Welch’s Fruit ‘n Yogurt Snacks ~ Strawberry

Then there were the Cello Parmesan Whisps. Their website was actually very informative about their cheese making process and what types of rennet they use as far as if it’s vegetarian friendly or not. They even had a descriptive FAQ page, but unfortunately for me, their parmesan cheese wasn’t listed under the list of their cheese products made with microbial rennet. So, I had to pass.

whisps
Cello Whisps ~ Parmesan Cheese Crisps

I’m pretty fortunate to have always-hungry co-workers though! I brought the packages to lab one day and everything was eaten by the time be day was over. I guess I should also add that one of my lab mates is a six-foot tall guy…”always hungry” is an understatement I suppose!

The ginger sugar was an interesting addition. I think it’s made by the same company as tiger balm because the ginger tea box came with this handy dandy promo flier.

tigerbalmaddlol
A flier for Tiger Balm?

The crystal packets were packed individually, and contained a generous amount of honey crystals to mix into hot water for a satisfying cup of tea.

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Ginger Honey Tea Crystals

The crystals themselves look like rice puffs close-up, but they had a sharp, sweet flavor.

crystals
They look like rice puffs!

When I first saw this box, I immediately thought my breakfasts for the month were set…well, if not breakfast, then at least after-dinner desserts!

hungryjack_
Hungry Jack Complete Pumpkin Spice Mix

This box is the complete package—you just need to add water to get the mix going. For convenience sake, I scooped a quarter cup out and mixed it into a mug with water until I got a thick batter. I then microwaved it for about 2 minutes. The result was a soft, doughy cake that I then proceeded to top with coconut milk-yogurt mixed with pumpkin spice-flavored greens. Ah, twas delicious!

I absolutely loved the Alo Light drink, and didn’t expect it to be so refreshing! It had aloe pulp, and it had a jelly-like consistency, so it reminded me of those jelly cups or jelly cubes that they add to drinks at boba places. I had the whole bottle within minutes, and shared my love for it on Instagram, even though I was on my way to lab all stressed out. 

alolight_refresh
ALO Refresh Light

The same day I felt stressed, I came back needing a nourishing dinner. I had the option of using either one of these two spice or sauce mixes.

spicesandsauces
Time to season and spice things up!

I chose to have the One & Done seasoning mixed in with my crockpot cabbage bowl with squash and red bell pepper. I also added in a grill pressed eggpant wrap from Trader Joe’s. It came with a cup of tahini sauce that I added into the bowl, and with the seasoning + sauce, it was an instant flavor party.

grillpressedeggplantwrap
Trader Joe’s Grilled Eggplant Wrap with seasoned cabbage, squash, and pepper

I’m sure when I try the McDonnells Indian Korma Curry Sauce (an Irish product suitable fr vegetarians, based on the package!), I’ll love it as well.

Which of these products would you try to kick off the new year?

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