Monday, August 29, 2011

A Scoop of Paradis(e)

In case you couldn't tell, I love ice cream. It finally feels like summer in LA, and although school's in session again, I'm still taking advantage of the heat and continuing my caloric tour of ice creameries in LA. My most recent discovery is Paradis, a funky ice cream shop straight from Denmark. Previously occupied by Pinkberry, Paradis recently popped up in Los Feliz and is what true artisanal ice cream is about - decadently delicious ice cream that's rich but not too heavy, made from local ingredients. I recommend the Coffee-Chocolate, Salted Caramel, and Ferrero Rocher flavors. That's right. Ferrero Rocher, like the candy.

goodbye pinkberry. hello, paradis. 

scoop of Ferrero Rocher and 

decisions, decisions

outdoor seating along Vermont Ave.
1726 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

2323 Honolulu Ave.
Montrose, CA 91020

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Say Cheeeeeeese

I don't think I could live without cheese. As a self-proclaimed dairy (and carb) queen, I don't discriminate against cheeses. I like them mild, soft, peppery, and bitter. And whether it's a Babybel snack or a ball of fresh mozzarella, I have no problem finding ways to incorporate cheese into my daily meals. All I can say is, thank the lord I'm not lactose intolerant. My sister shares my love for cheese and prepared this lovely spread for a dinner party last week.

grape, fig, and water cracker spread

brie and manchego cheese with berries on marble 
cheese board from Crate and Barrel

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bru of the Day

Finally a decent artisan coffee shop arrives in Los Feliz! Bru Coffee Bar, the former location of Psychobabble Cafe, is the most recent development in the Los Feliz hipster movement. But hey -- you don't have to wear plaid flannel, Toms, or Ray Ban Wayfarers to hang out at Bru. Sure, I own a plaid shirt and a pair of the ubiquitous sun shades. But at the end of the day, I can never pass up a good cup of joe, especially when the barista's choice music gets me in the groove. And for those of you who really want to partake in the hipster movement, here's a great guide! 

view of the coffee-kitchen from the second floor 

no, this is not a lab experiment.

wood beams and panels line the ceiling.


my study area.

Bru Coffee Bar
1866 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blue Bayou

In an effort to celebrate our last week of summer vacation, my boyfriend and I visited the happiest (or shall I say "yummiest") place on earth for some nostalgic magical fun. We managed to sit on almost every ride and noshed on some Disney goodness that resulted in a perpetual sugar high all day. Can you say churros, pineapple dole whip, and mint julep? But most importantly, between the Fantasmic Show and trip to Sleeping Beauty's castle, I was surprised with the most unique dining experience ever at the Blue Bayou, which is afloat the water in the Pirates ride. Feasting on a cajun meal under dimly lit lanterns on the water while the banjo player strums his instrument is as magical as it gets. Who said you can't enjoy a 5-star dining experience at Disneyland? 

le menu

roasted beef strip loin seasoned with the
 chef's special pepper blend. potatoes au gratin,
 green beans, and cajun seasoned onion rings.

cajun-spiced salmon.  
same sides as above (minus the onion rings).

my attempt at capturing the dining area.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I ♥ DTLA: Más Malo

My girlfriends and I had been wanting to check out Más Malo for quite some time, so we made a ladies night out of it! Located directly across the street from famed Louie, Más Malo is the hip and happening counterpart of Silverlake's Malo (which I hear started out as a taco truck). The food is traditional Mexican fare with a unique modern flair (think Coca-Cola marinated carnitas). And while the food is delicious, the décor makes this place worth visiting. It's like art-deco-vintage and urban-sex-and-the-city got married and had a baby. Love it. 

the beautiful ceiling

the signature "ahogado" - coca cola marinated
carnitas "drowned" in chile

al pastor with onions, guac, and sour cream
Más Malo
515 W. 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Scrumptious Brownies (From Scratch!)

I have a confession. I'm guilty of committing the heinous culinary faux pas of using a box mix to make "homemade" brownies. I'm sure Sandra Lee would be proud, but fortunately, my box-mix days are long gone. I recently redeemed myself and to prove it, here are the brownies I made from scratch this afternoon after work. I tried this recipe from Bon Appétit and I ended up with a batch of the ooey gooey-est, chewiest, fudge-like brownies I've ever made. Perfect with a glass of cold milk.

fold into the batter any chopped nuts of your choice.
i prefer walnuts.
spread the batter in a 9x12 greased pan
and top with leftover nuts.

need i say more?

My personal notes:
*I didn't have bittersweet chocolate on hand, so I used half semi-sweet chocolate chips and half unsweetened baking chocolate, both from Trader Joe's. 
*Feel free to mix in your choice of nuts or chews, such as almonds or coconut. It'll give it a kick!
*For an added punch, try out a peanut butter frosting. 
*For chewy and ooey gooey brownies, bake the batter for about 30-35 minutes. Let the pan rest and fully cool before cutting into pieces.
*Share these with your friends. Otherwise, you WILL eat the entire pan. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bird Pick

Nine times out of ten, I'll go for coffee over tea. But sometimes, a freshly brewed cup of cold or hot tea is the perfect thirst quencher on a sweltering summer day or a blistering winter night (not that we have blistering cold nights in LA). I stopped by Bird Pick in Old Town Pasadena desperately seeking a cure to my dehydration caused by a long day of retail therapy, and I think I found a new favorite spot!  I tried the Lychee-Oolong Iced Tea with a cane sugar simple syrup and it was refreshing, delicious, and light. The best part was eating the lychee after downing the whole cup!

lychee-oolong iced tea with cane sugar simple 
syrup. bird pick is also a store for all your
 tea essentials. my sister purchases her specialty
 tea from there!

definitely trying an iced tea latte next time.
 or maybe the jasmine lemonade.
or actually, the tropical sunrise sounds good.

Bird Pick
10 South De Lacey
Pasadena, CA 91105

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An Extraordinary Dessert

THEE strawberry lindzer danish garnished with
edible flower, strawberry and gold leaf

When I lived in San Diego, my roommates and I would often go for late night dessert runs at Extraordinary Desserts. If you've never heard of the place, you've probably never been to San Diego. Let me tell you. This place is like Disneyland for sweet tooths (teeth?) like me. My favorite? The Strawberry Lindzer Danish paired with the café au lait or noisette.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sweet "Tee"

macarons on a shirt? this is my kind of t-shirt.
 my friend and i stumbled upon this blouse at
 my favorite store, zara, a couple weeks ago.
 too bad i'm over my graphic-tee phase. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I've never really been able to describe what type of cuisine Chego! serves. But this much I know - it's the most comforting, heartiest food I've had in a long time. Packed with UCLA students who are probably tired of dining hall food, Chego! is a small and funky joint located in Culver City that packs some serious flavor. Seating is limited and the place is always bursting at the seams. Major crowds means good food and Chego! serves good food indeed. The Ooey Gooey Fries are an absolute MUST. 

Ooey Gooey Fries: fries, sour cream sambal,
 melting monterey jack and cheddar cheese,
cotija, chillies, cilantro, pickled garlic

the special Chego burger: grass fed cheese, coconut mayo,
 chili sauce, 
wild arugula, fried shallots, thai basil.
there's so much goodness in this burger,
you can't even see the burger patty.

the beefy T: prime rib, hot chili fried rice, egg 
3300 Overland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Homemade Italian Feast

my favorite: caprese tricoloré salad with fresh
 mozzarella, sliced beefsteak tomatoes, and basil
seasoned with freshly ground black pepper, salt,
 and extra virgin olive oil

Giada De Laurentiis' Chicken Piccata
 (garnished with parsley
instead of brined capers)

Ina Garten's Lemon Fusili Arugula.
we substituted grape tomatoes with
heirloom tomatoes, and broccoli with asparagus.

I'm definitely a baker over a chef. But as of late, my constant baking has been adversely affecting my sugar intake. I realize I have a problem. I need to start making food that doesn't require sugar, eggs, and flour. So I decided to give baking a rest (for now) and recruited help from my culinary inclined boyfriend for a homemade meal to remember. We tackled two great recipes from my favorite lady chefs/heroes/goddesses - Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis, in addition to our improvised caprese salad and baked artisan bread (which was drizzled with olive oil and rubbed down with garlic). I must admit - Ina and Giada's recipes never fail me. They're always a hit. Ina's Lemon Fusili with Arugula is a perfect light summer pasta that can be served hot or cold and substituted with local or seasonal veggies.  Giada's Chicken Piccata was so simple and tasty. We used chicken tenders instead of whole breasts and skipped the capers. To round out the meal, I popped some leftover cookie dough in the oven for a batch of warm after-meal cookies. A perfect end to a perfect meal.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Perfect Flan

Flan is one of my favorite desserts of all time. I'm a fan of custard-y, creamy things and flan definitely fits the bill. I'd been afraid of attempting to make flan from scratch for the longest time, but I finally tackled this recipe a few days ago and, with the help of Sugar Baby, the product was unbelievably delicious. The flans came out super rich and creamy, the caramel was just perfect, and it was a HUGE hit with my friends and family. I'm in love.

pour molten caramelized sugar into each ramekin
and swirl to coat thoroughly. be careful not to
burn yourself as the caramel is extremely hot.

pour custard cream over caramel coated ramekins and bake
in hot water bath.

after ramekins have cooled overnight, run a knife around
the edges to loosen and invert flan. voila! 

My personal notes:
*Use real vanilla beans. Don't use vanilla extract or artificial flavors for this recipe because the vanilla bean makes the flan. You can find vanilla beans at any specialty store or Whole Foods.
*While making the caramel sauce, remove the pot from the heat immediately before it reaches your desired deep amber hue. The caramel will continue to darken after you take it off the stove, so swirl the pan to cool the mixture. 
*Handle the caramel with extreme caution. I burned fingers while coating the ramekins.
*Make sure not to overcook the flans. Bake it for the suggested 40 minutes.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Coolhaus

fig and mascarpone ice cream between oatmeal cookies 

nutella with almonds ice cream between s'more cookies

There's nothing like ice cream on a hot LA afternoon. This weekend, I introduced my friend to the Coolhaus ice cream truck and I think I have her hooked. Coolhaus sells "architecturally inspired ice cream sandwiches" that come in a variety of flavors. I'm addicted to the candied maple bacon with snickerdoodle, the red velvet with snickerdoodle, and the fig and mascarpone with oatmeal (see above). The best part is the wrappers are edible, so you don't have to worry about eating paper! Follow the truck here to see if it's in your neighborhood. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

I ♥ DTLA: Urbano Pizza Bar

sopressata: salami, mozzarella, fresno chilli,
crushed tomato, scallions
selvatica: burrata, roasted cherry tomatoes,
basil pesto, pine nuts
tomato cans and olive oil line the walls
I could eat pizza every day and never get tired of it. It's so versatile. It can be as simple as a basic mozzarrella, basil, tomato margherita or as complex as a white truffle with smoked salmon and caviar. Today was my last day clerking at the law office in downtown, and my generous boss treated me to a farewell lunch at Urbano Pizza Bar, which I'd been wanting to check out for awhile. I was so impressed with the ambiance and the friendly employees, and I especially loved the decor and communal table in the center of the dining room. The pizzas are rustic, á la Caiote Pizza in Studio City, and the toppings are all the freshest local ingredients. My summer job may be over, but I'll definitely be coming here again. 

Urbano Pizza
630 W. 6th St. 
Los Angeles, CA

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

i could eat this dough straight out of the mixing bowl. 

make sure to leave enough room between each cookie.
you don't want them to end up kissing in the oven.


After trying practically every choco chip cookie recipe that exists, I've concluded that this recipe is the absolute best. These American classics are consistently crispy on the outside and stay chewy long after they come out of the oven. It's perfect with a glass of cold milk. I'm sure Santa Claus would agree. And shocker: It's not an Ina Garten recipe! Give it a go. 

My personal notes:
*This is a huge recipe, so consider wrapping extra dough and freezing it for next time. I baked 2 dozen cookies and still had over half of my dough left over.
*Use C&H brand light brown sugar. I did this the first time and the cookies turned out perfect. This time, I used Trader Joe's brand, and the consistency of the butter/sugar mixture wasn't as fluffy. I love TJ, but I think that either the sugar grains were too large or there was too much molasses. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vintage Photo Nostalgia

I recently unearthed these old photos of my maternal grandparents and grew nostalgic. I wasn't lucky enough to meet my maternal grandparents, but these photos make me feel like I've known them my whole life. The photos were all captured in Baku, Azerbaijan, which was part of the former Soviet Union.

my handsome grandpa with my uncle

beautiful grandma
grandma with my uncle and mom.
mom was a fashionable toddler!
mom's paternal grandma on the right.
her friend on the left. 

grandpa on vacation with his uniform
cigarette and newsboy cap.


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