Summer cleaning


Update: I made 2 brand new changes I want to tell you about.

#1 the layout and scheme of my blog is different.

You know, to better reflect the more calm, and “blueness”? of my experiences (haha, actually I just like the theme; there was no thought process behind it).

#2 I finally worked out how to put all the cities I’ve ever visited on a map (Google, thank you) so now the “Where Have I been?” page has a new title and beautiful map to accompany it.

So enjoy. More to come soon!

And I’ll leave you with this funny article my friend O sent me about a couple selling a village in New Zealand.

New Zealand on sale

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Tree-huggers and fur-haters heaven…at a price


Vegetarian restaurants. Some people love ’em. Other HATE them. I love them. Not only because I can actually gobble everything on the menu but also because they’re always creative. There’s usually a dish I’ve never heard of or even a new way of cooking since you gotta get pretty smart about substituting for meat. Something that doesn’t happen a lot at other restaurants. Necessity often breeds innovation. Plus, I like the tofu, protein options and ground nut mixes that I’m usually hard-pressed to find at “regular” restaurants.

So you can imagine my luck when. My lovely friend B first introduced me to Shojin, in Little Tokyo, an organic vegetarian restaurant. They specialise in Japanese food and make healthy living their business.

This was about my 3rd or 4th time here. And every time I walk throughthe door, I’m always find a mystic zen atmosphere awaiting me where I can safely unleash my inner child. And unleash I do. They have a gigantic sheet of white paper on every table that doubles both as a tablecloth cover and a canvas for us to colour away. Next to the usual condiments is a big tube filled with coloured markers. Basically everything we need to create  masterpieces.

BEFORE

The last time I came was before Valentine’s Day and they put up a beautiful tree and gave each of us a cut out of a heart and asked us to write a message to adorn the tree. Its simple but it adds an air of innocent fun that’s lacking in our everyday lives that seem to be getting more and more serious.

There are always funking paintings and interesting artwork by local artists hanging on the wall. I believe it’s possible to purchase some of the pieces…

But I digress. Food. I ordered the deep fried tofu with mixed veggies and brown rice. It was very tasty and satisfying. The portions are moderately sized, satisfying without bloating. My friends ordered a vegetarian steak burger, a seitan curry and some delicious tofu appetizers. I highly recommend anything with tempeh or seitan just to try if you’ve never had it. They both have extremely unique textures and flavours. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

Everything was going well. Just like the last 2 times I had been there. Except just before we left. The staff came up to ask and told us we couldn’t leave because we hadn’t tipped them enough. Embarrassed as we were we hurried paid them what we could. But it was awkward because we had calculated everything correctly. And of course, who is going to pay the extra few dollars?? Point is, I don’t like the way they approached us and barred us from leaving. I mean c’mon, tip is given based on service and not mandatory. Yeah I know waiters have a hard time at the job. But don’t forget, a tip is a privilege not a right. Anyway, I most likely won’t be going back to this place in a long time if at all. Try it if you want vegetarian food. But yeah tip them “properly” or you might not be able to leave!

Shojin (yelp link)

Delicious yes
Price $$ about $5-7 for appetizers, $11-15 mains, $3-4 drinks, $4-6 dessert I think…look it up on yelp (reasonable for dinner, especially considering anything organic and vegetarian has a huge price tag slapped on it)

AFTER

Day 5: Suburbia and the “normal life”


I believe this was....18 pounds of chocolate. Maybe more...Handcrafted for a family that orders every year for their Easter celebration. I went on a sugar high just looking at it. This is SOLID, I repeat, a SOLID Easter egg.

Confession: I completely forgot to write about day 5 of my Bay Area trip.

On the plus side: I remembered after ceviche entry. So here it is after the jump.

Alright, after 4 arduous days of travelling on the road (what a tough trip, huff), M and I decide to visit my friend Y in the ‘burbs. Ya know, just to mix it up a bit. Y lives in San Mateo, south of San Francisco. It’s a very nice quaint suburban area (to be honest, I can’t tell the difference between the suburbs so they all look quaint and the SAME to me).

We first arrived on the evening of day 4. We went to get sushi and hookah later. All very nicely contrasted with the hippy, eclectic and itinerant lifestyle we lived through the last few days in SF and Berkeley. Then saw the beach. Which was more just like sea than beach. Why the difference? Because there was no sand, just some nasty rocks and cold, cold water. Plus it was pretty small, nothing like the vast stretches of beautiful sand, beautiful water, beautiful sun, and of course beautiful people  as you’d

find in LA. Maybe it’s because we went at night so the beach didn’t even have a chance. But I suspect it would be pretty cold and rocky during the day too.

Ok fast forward 12 hours. After we wake up, it’s decided it’s breakfast time. Y takes us to a delightful little cafe called Alana’s Cafe (click Alana’s for the Yelp link and Cafe for their own website) in Burlingame.

I believe these folks are known for their pancakes. And if they’re not, then they should be. The have some of the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever had. They also have some unique flavours. I got the oatmeal pancakes with lingoberries (swedish berries apparently you can try them at IKEA too, go figure). Very good.They also come with bananas or cinnamon apples. But lingoberries sounded the most fun to me, and they w

ere delicious. They also let you choose the short (2 pancakes) vs. big stack (3 pancakes) have bottomless coffee (none for me but I got a side of scrambled eggs, easy). Fun place with some kooky antique cooking utensils and bakeware. They even sell their pancake mix and lingoberry preserves on a shelf, so you can take the goodness home with ya.

Price range about $$ for brunch, so reasonably priced for the food, service and atmosphere.

Next, Y took us to some interesting stores around Burlingame which were quintessentially suburb. Let’s be honest, there’s no way we would ever find candy stores and chocolate stores with gigantic Easter displays. At least in Los Angeles, I’ve never seen it. If it exists, that is very rare. Most stores are refined chocolateries like Godiva etc. But it made this so much nicer, breath of fresh air. Reminded me of mountain towns like the time I went to Big Bear and Colorado Springs.

‘Nuff said. You can just look at the pretty pictures. They encapsulate everything I’d like to say about them. Plus there are always captions.

Care for some delicious fudge?

At the candy & chocolate store, the TV plays Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on repeat ALL day long. There's a little home theater area with plush couches and, of course, candy.

OMG I think I'm really in Wanderland. Jelly Bellies, one of my favourite for all time. The best jellybeans, ever. I'd never seen this many flavours before in my life. WOW

Oh, suburbia a gloriously artificial wanderland, right?

We ended the trip with a journey to Palo Alto to check out Stanford. Then back on the I-5 S to Los Angeles.

Soup for summer: Tangy goodness at La Cevicheria


Excuse the long delay!

School is out. Which means long days of sun and fun. Also means slower blog entries even though ironically I’m doing a lot more. So I have a couple of entries backed up I’m going to blast in one go. All the better, good reading for those of you who have nothing better to do this summer.

This will be a quick entry about La Cevicheria in Mid-City (which means between K-Town and South Central in this case).

closer upper

My friend O had mentioned ceviche for a long time ago. For those who, like me, had no idea what this ceviche was [pronounced see-vee-chay (with an extremely Americanised shady accent if you also like me cannot speak Spanish)], ceviche is a sour soup with seafood marinated using citrus (lemons and limes) and a lot of other delicious goodies chopped up. I got the Guatemalan ceviche which came with shrimp, crab, octopus, tomatoes, onions (no thank you!), mint, Worcestershire sauce, too much lemon and lime juice and some crackers. Sounds eclectic? Yup tasted that way too. I liked the tanginess. But after…5 bites it was a bit too sour. Would be great during a hot hot day in summer though. The rice and beans as sides were pretty good. The meal also came with unlimited tostadas which was another fun way to eat the meal I’ve never tried.

Altogether it was a fun experience because I’ve never had ceviche before. It was a small dingy resto but with the nicest people. A husband (cook) and wife (hostess/waitress) own the place. The husband, Julio, came out and introduced himself and made sure we were comfortable and enjoyed the food. He’s very charming and taught me a lot about ceviche and how they make it.

Finished off with some sweet tres leches cake. My first time again even though I’ve heard a ton about it. Not bad. Kind of like soggy lady fingers soaked in condensed milk before they’re made into tiramisu. Actually that sounds kind of gross. This was a lot better. Anyway try it to figure it out yourself.