Running Break

Running Break

Last weekend, I was feeling a little anxious and glum about having to hold off on running for a week or two due to shin splints. I was trying to figure out what I could do for cross-training, and also realized that some strength training would have to be squeezed in too, even though I haven’t done any focused weight training in months

I contemplated all of this over lunch this past Saturday at Grilliant. I had to stop in lab earlier that day, and by the time I was done, I didn’t feel like venturing out too far just for lunch. #DecemberFeels

Grilliant, Culver City
Grilliant, Culver City

I had been wanting to check out Grilliant for a while now though. I mean, it boasted Mediterranean cuisine as the theme of its menu, so how could I resist?

Portabello Wrap with Eggplant Mirza
Portabello Wrap with Eggplant Mirza

I wound up getting a portabello (veggie) flatbread wrap with some eggplant mirza on the side (it was the closest thing to babaganoush, so that’s why I went for it). An unexpected serving of tzatziki and a sweet & lemony tomato sauce side came along with it. 

Up close!
Up close!

I thought the portabello pieces were slightly overcooked, but everything together made for a well-balanced and nourishing meal. 

I also stopped at Sprouts before heading home, and picked up a seasonal almond butter flavor that was much cheaper than the chocolate peanut butter I usually get, haha!

Sprouts Gingerbread Spice Almond Butter
Sprouts Gingerbread Spice Almond Butter

It definitely had a spicy kick to it, but the oil-to-almond butter ratio was pretty proportionate. It was only when I got to the bottom 0.5 inch of the jar did it start to get grainy.

On Tuesday, I woke up early enough to set aside ~2 hours to go on a 6 mile walk for active recovery. Since I’m always complaining about how Abbot Kinney is so hard to get to via public transit, I designed my walking route to include a stop at Blue Bottle Coffee at my turn-around point.

Blue Bottle Coffee
Blue Bottle Coffee

Upon entering, I could definitely sense the pretentious coffee shop vibe. The baristas were nice and helped me to pick out what they thought was a good hot coffee blend, but I felt slightly out of place even though I was wearing my stretchy Nike running capris like most athletic wear, clothing-wearing Los Angelenos, haha.

Walking back.
Walking back.

I got the “Three Africas” coffee as per their recommendation, which was described as a blend of “the radiant fruit of two coffees from Ethiopia, one washed and one natural, with the balance and authority of a washed coffee from Uganda“. I wasn’t a fan though…even after adding some cream and brown sugar, the lemon zest was slightly off-putting.

At least I had a crispy, double chocolate cookie with a hint of ginger as a back-up treat?

Yum, breakfast cookie!
Yum, breakfast cookie!

The walk was earlier in the week, so I still felt some soreness in my shins. I do think they are getting better though, at least I hope so. Since then, I’ve been cross-training with the eliptical and doing some light weight training for muscle groups I often neglect when plain running. I never thought I’d find the monotony of a still gym a refreshing break from running, and despite feeling DOMS in every muscle group except my calves right now, I found that being in the gym may be what just I needed for my mental sanity too!

Do you find it difficult to cross-train for a sport/exercise activity you predominantly do?

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

Sweet Enough to Forget My Battle Scars

Sweet Enough to Forget My Battle Scars

One thing I really wanted after the marathon was something sweet. I probably would have satisfied this craving with a giant cupcake or a pint of ice cream, but I kept thinking about this little place in Sawtelle that has a collection of unique confectionery creations, as well as rotating bread pudding flavors…

B Sweet Dessert Bar

My feet were killing me (especially my right foot, which had developed a swollen black toenail and a rosy blister on the heel), but I managed to make my way inside and over to the front.

Rotating bread pudding flavors—change every week!

I decided to get the “Being Good” size for my bread pudding (6oz) and even though it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and they had a Bailey’s-themed bread pudding, I decided to stick with a flavor I’d know I like: Red Velvet.

Red Velvet Bread Pudding

They put together the pudding within minutes, and at first I couldn’t see any of it because of all the frosting on the top.

That frosting though.

The bread pudding was warm, and had the texture of a soft, molten cake, but to be honest I couldn’t detect much flavor. Even the frosting wasn’t too sweet, which was disappointing…but at least it had aesthetics?

Cute decor.

And it was enough to help me forget about the pain that was my black toe nail for ~6 minutes πŸ˜› .

What flavor of bread pudding would you want to try?

B Sweet Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Repeat of 2016?

Repeat of 2016?

I returned to California early last week, and I was in a deep funk for a couple days. My two weeks off from lab, spent with family, was JUST what I needed and my only regret was that it wasn’t longer!

At least I had a surprise package waiting for me…I tried Enlightened Roasted Broad Bean Crisps for the first time thanks to a little box with some fun-flavored goods:

Enlightened saved me from the doldrums!

They were the dessert flavors: Cocoa Dusted and Sweet Cinnamon.

Cocoa Dusted description

I had both flavors straight out of the bag. Out of the two, I loved the cinnamon-flavored ones the most since they reminded me of those churro twists from Taco Bell I had long ago…

Sweet Cinnamon

Cocoa Dusted was good too, I just preferred cinnamon over chocolate coating πŸ˜›

Cocoa Dusted up close & personal

I decided to keep close to West LA since I knew DTLA would be abuzz with the LA Fit Expo going on. I also had to go into lab, which would have cut into any day plans if I had scheduled any. So after lab, I came back to Culver City and had lunch literally across the street from the train station…at Sweetgreen! I find it hilarious that my first outing to a restaurant for 2017 is Sweetgreen once again…I dined at a Sweetgreen in Mid-City last year as my first outing in 2016! I wonder if it will become tradition…

Sweetgreen’s newest—Culver City

They recently opened up shop here in a complex called The Platform. It was already in full swing with customers eating outside even though it was cloudy out.

Order at the counter

The seating arrangements inside were too small, and if everyone in line had decided to dine in, there would have been no way. I did get a seat however, by the window. It was just a table that wasn’t wiped clean since the last customer, and only had one chair so I had to sit with my bag on my lap, haha!

Lot’s to choose from!

When it was my turn to order, I decided to get a warm bowl. The Shroomami sounded amazing, with glazed tofu, rice, kale, …, and it was vegan so even more of a plus!

My Shroomami bowl [vegan] ~ organic wild rice, shredded kale, raw beets, bean sprouts, basil, spicy sunflower seeds, roasted sesame tofu, warm portobello mix, miso sesame ginger dressing
I also got a slice of bread on the side, and enjoyed the bowl while people/train watching through the window.

Slice of bread, and look at that tofu!

After eating lunch, I got grocery shopping done at Sprouts. I love it when restaurants/grocery stores are all in one area since it makes running weekend errands so much easier.

While picking up staples for the week, I came across another RX Bar flavor I have yet to try—Peanut Butter! When I was checking out in line, there was a guy in front of me who noticed my purchase-to-be, and asked where he could find them. As soon as I told him, he dashed over to the bar aisle while the cashier began to check out his items!

RX Peanut Butter bar…has exactly 14 peanuts?

I tried the bar as I was waiting for the train to go home. I like the smooth texture of the bar, and it kind of made me think of the Chocolate Coconut flavor without coconut, and with a mild peanut scent reminiscent of how the maple scent defined the Maple Sea Salt flavor. I guess I could understand why that guy at Sprouts was in such a mad dash to get those bars for himself?

Have you eaten out since the new year began?

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

Fala Me to Fala Bar (Again)

Fala Me to Fala Bar (Again)

I’m wondering if I should rename this blog “Will Study for (Mediterranean) Food” because that pretty much seems to describe what I eat when I go out on the weekends…but I mean, what’s there to be defensive about? The cuisine speaks for itself—it’s balanced, wholesome, flavorful, and pretty much can be found anywhere you look in LA.

Fala Bar, Venice
Fala Bar, Venice

Moving to Santa Monica has made it much easier for me to check out all the places (by foot) that were inaccessible to me before, due to the long travel time of public transit or, in some cases, because public transit did not pass through those areas. The row of shops and restaurants on Abbot Kinney was one of those areas. When I had a sudden craving for Medi-food on Saturday, but I didn’t want to venture too far east of West LA, I decided to stop by this hidden gem of a neighborhood for a late lunch.

I first tried Fala Bar >back in April at their Melrose location. Since I was in the Fairfax/Grove area most weekends when I lived in DTLA (DTLA to Mid-City is easy to travel back-and-forth by bus), visiting this location was not a problem. Now that it’s a little out of the way and the Venice one isn’t anymore, I was eager to dig into some familiar food in a new locale.

Need help deciding what to get?

I have plans to explore Abbot Kinney more in the future, as there are so many cute shops and eateries lined up side-by-side. The area reminded me of a small district in Disneyland—the sidewalks were small, and the buildings were close together as if it was a movie set for a small town.

Abbot (Kinney) that Fala Life πŸ˜›

I found Fala Bar nestled between Blue Star Donuts and a cafe serving up acai bowls. Last time I visited Fala Bar, I proposed to have one of their burgers if I ever visited again, but I truly wanted a hearty plate. I ended up getting the Baba Plate, which didn’t come with falafel but instead a fluffy, round piece of soft pita bread.

Unpictured Tahini and Babaganoush -> Cucumber&Tomato Salad + Cabbage + Tabouli -> Pita Bread

I carefully carried my compostable tray outside, and sat at the counter positioned just in front. It was an awkward seating arrangement because it was literally on the sidewalk, and my back was facing those that were walking by. Funny thing was, people would slow down their stride to take a look at what I was eating. Some even went inside Fala Bar after seeing my plate of colorful cabbage and creamy tahini.

Plate of beauty in full view!!

Everything was eaten until only drops of lemon juice colored purple were left on the tray. I could have spent the rest of my afternoon checking out the shops, but the heat/crowds got to me, so I chose to save that as an adventure for another day. I also wanted to get home and just completely relax since I didn’t have to make plans to go to lab (for once!) for the remainder of Labor Day Weekend! I needed to make time to plan my adventure on Monday…;)

What cuisine do you tend to mostly gravitate towards when eating out?

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

There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Ice Cream (or Pie)!

There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Ice Cream (or Pie)!

I’ve always been a fan of ice cream (as you can probably tell from my most recent stream of posts…), but it makes sense that my ice cream cravings are at an all-time high in the summer. The weather hasn’t been extremely hot here in LA, but I still crave the cold, creamy dessert even with the overcast and cloudy weather.

So when I had the opportunity to visit a local creamery and pie shop in West LA, I couldn’t turn it down. I had to wait until Sunday for the visit, but that didn’t hold me back from appeasing my ice cream cravings earlier in the weekend.

After finishing up in lab on Friday, I walked over to the grocery store. Along with my usual produce, bread, and dairy purchases, I splurged in another B&J’s pint to enjoy after dinner that evening.

My kind of Friday.

Friday’s flavor was Mint Chocolate Cookie, and I paired it with that week’s taped episode of The Astronaut Wives Club. The ice cream brought me back to my middle school days when I used to have those Snow Storm cups at lunchtime. The ice cream was quite refreshing with a minty aftertaste, and some of the sandwich cookie pieces were still intact so it was like eating mint ice cream mixed in with bite-size oreos!

Saturday was another low-key day, with a morning spent in lab, and the rest of the day spent at home just chillin’. I was mostly just organizing data, cleaning around the apartment, watching TV, and—trying out another ice cream flavor.

Not sure I liked the espresso bean fudge chunks a whole lot…

Since I had not tried any of B&J’s coffee-flavored pints up until this point, I decided to give Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz! a go. The coffee-flavored ice cream wasn’t too bad, as it wasn’t too overpowering, but I actually got tired of the espresso-fudge pieces that seemed to oversaturate the ice cream. I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite flavors, but perhaps someone who is a true coffee-aficionado fan would appreciate it more.

On Sunday, I had more time to venture out and check out a local & unique creamery in West LA. I woke up at 5:30AM as the sun was rising to complete a 12 mile long run, stopped by lab in the morning once again, and left a little after noon to catch the train + bus headed toward Westwood.

My trip only took ~ 1 hour since I was able to eliminate two bus transfers by taking the Big Blue Bus transit system run by Santa Monica. I used to avoid it since they didn’t accept TAP cards (the major riding pass for the Metro system of LA), but since they recently joined as a transit partner with the Metro system, that was no longer a problem! When you rely on public transit, things like this are golden nuggets of news πŸ˜‰

I was dropped off close to my destination, and once I saw the A-frame chalkboard for β€œfresh homemade pie”, I knew I had correctly arrived at Atticus Creamery & Pies.

Front of Atticus Creamery & Pies

It was already 2pm by the time I stopped by on Sunday afternoon, and it was empty inside the small shop. The trademark item was out on display in a variety of colors and flavors, and there were plenty of samples on a tray at the top of the counter.

Pie display!

I was welcomed by a sweet girl, whose name I later learned to be Denise. Once I let her know I had come in for a tasting, she knew exactly what to do—offering me sample upon sample of pie.

Inside the creamery

While Denise got some extra samples ready for me, she encouraged me to try some of the samples that were already out. I obliged, and found a seat near the wall to get comfortable.

Getting cozy

As she was handing over samples, she made sure to enlighten me about the different kinds of pies they made, as well as their unique flavors. Cheesecake, mousse, and cream pies are the three main types of pies they serve, and I had the opportunity to try a couple that fit into each of those categories!


From the cheesecake pies, I was able to sample the blueberry and raspberry flavors. Both had a soft, creamy textured layer on top, and a jam-like filling at the bottom with their respective berries. I found to like the raspberry one the best.

As for their cream pies, I was able to get a taste of their coconut banana cream pie, which is a best-seller. I could tell right away, seeing as it tasted so light, airy, and fresh. Especially fresh, since I found a whole banana slice nestled within the cream layer!

There were many unique flavor profiles offered within the mousse pie category. Two such flavors were tea-inspired: earl grey and matcha green tea, the latter of which had a white chocolate ganache layer. I knew my sister would have died to try either of these since she loves her tea. I happened to end up loving the raspberry chocolate mousse pie though. The raspberry mousse layer paired so well with the chocolate ganache layer on the bottom, so it was no surprise that it ended up being my favorite.

Oh, the beauty!

After I had my good share of pie, Denise brought over a beautiful tray showcasing an assortment of their pies. It was a good thing I already had tried the pies first, because if not, I may have snatched a couple of these drool-worthy beauties!

Sampled out on pie…

But then again, I may have been hesitant to do that since the miniature pastries were almost too pretty to eat…almost.

After spending a few minutes playing food stylist, it was time to sample the ice cream!

Ice cream time!

Denise was eager to have me sample as many flavors as I desired, and started me off with their best-seller: Honey Honeycomb.

Honey Honeycomb

I could see (and taste) why it was so popular—the sweet honey flavor certainly carried through the vanilla base, and even my spoonful stayed true to its name in appearance.

More flavors followed, as well as their “stories”…

So many flavors and textures!

Lemon Lavendar had a soft, humble flavor, while Cereal & Milk and Brownie A La Mode made sure to stand out in personality. Denise noted that Cereal & Milk was made with a Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies cereal base, and that Brownie A La Mode was her true favorite. 

From there sorbet selection, I got to try the strawberry flavor and was blown away by how smooth it was. I’ve had sorbet in the past that tasted more like popsicles, so this was a pleasant surprise. Vanilla Bean was a simple, yet rich and authentic flavor, while Caramel Macchiato would make any Starbucks fan swoon. My spoonful even had a dollop of syrup!

Potato Chip Chocolate has a mild, salty aftertaste, but unfortunately (or fortunately?), I couldn’t detect any potato πŸ˜‰ .  The Nutella flavor had pieces of Ferrero Rocher blended in, and Brown Sugar Apple Pie, another best-seller, actually reminded me of a frozen cinnamon roll! 

After having my fill of ice cream, I thanked Denise for her time and asked for a cup of water to balance out all the sugar I consumed. As I got ready to leave, Denise asked if I wanted to take a pie and ice cream to go. I picked out the salted caramel pie, and the York peppermint patty-flavored ice cream, since they were both flavors I did not get a chance to sample beforehand.

The pie was packaged in a clear plastic take-out box, and the ice cream was given even more special treatment. Not only was my scoop nestled in a cardboard pint container similar to what you’d find in a grocery store, the container itself was wrapped up in a foil-like baggy to prevent it from melting.

I pulled out my wallet thinking I would have to pay for these treats, but as soon as Denise handed them over to me, she sent me off with a smile without even heading to the cash register.

When I had the chance to sit down outside, I decided to give the pie a go first.

Salted Caramel Pie

This pie was one of their mousse pies, and I could tell by the whipped consistency of the top layer. The topping was glazed caramel popcorn, and it complimented the caramel flavor of the mousse layer. The bottom layer was chocolate ganache, and this was a pleasant surprise for me since I had not known this beforehand. I tackled the mousse layer with a fork, but once the chocolate ganache and outside crust was the only thing left, the half-eaten pie immediately became finger food.

Chocolate ganache anyone?

The peppermint patty ice cream was another treat I’m glad I didn’t miss out on. The ice cream was of a minty base, and it had full chunks of peppermint patties mixed in. It was almost like a flashback to Friday’s B&J’s pint, but knowing that this one was locally-made and from a fresh batch made it seem more appetizing in comparison.

Peppermint Ice Cream πŸ™‚

It seems I should have come home that evening with a sugar coma from all of the sweet indulgences I had over the course of this weekend, but fortunately that wasn’t the case. In fact, it ironically made my love for ice cream stronger, and has pushed me to continue on my “quest” to try as many ice cream pint flavors, local creameries, and dairy-based desserts as possible.

Do you consider yourself an ice cream or pie fanatic?

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