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22
Nov16

1 year

by M

This time last year I was in Paris. Also, it's been just a little over a year since the Bataclan & Co attacks, although the world and the media seem to have forgotten. It's true that the world has just been downward spiriling since then and there are other issues in our plates right now. But I stilll feel the fear of that night, sitting in the warmth of the attic up late watching the news... And I miss our little weekend escape for my birthday as well.

I guess no matter what happens (something will happen), we'll always have Paris.

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I'm pretty sure nothing mirrors LA's chaotic diversity quite like its cuisine. Burgers, tacos, noodles, nachos... everything from mexican to asian is considered "typical" in the area. Suffice to say, we did have some pretty pleasant meals during our stay. Here's a collection of my favorites:

 

1. The Running Goose

goose.jpgvia

This was our first meal in LA, having arrived the house late in the afternoon. We went out searching for some place to dinner and ended up here, walking distance from the Walk of Fame! I just want to point out that it was the first time having kale! Is there anything trendier than kale atm? I think not. I asked for the "Ricotta Masa Gnochi" and it was delish, only waaay to spicy for me! Other than that, I loved it! We were sat outside in the "garden" which is decorated with string lights and little bonfires. Very cozy for a march evening :)

 

2. Faith & Flower

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via

So, this is what happens when we let my sister pick the restaurant ahah. She swears it was in the 30$/2pax range in her zomato search, but I guess she just attracts fancy. And fancy doesn't even begin to explain Faith & Flower.

The waitress promptly explained we were supposed to ask for at least 2 dishes per person, because the portions were small and meant to be shared. With prices ranging from 15$ to 30$ per dish, you can only imagine my dad's face! However, it turned out to have a "raw bar" (aka sushi, for the less fancy) which kinda turned tables. My family loves sushi! As a vegetarian, I only ate the sides... all sorts of crisps, made from different seeds and grains. YUM! I should also add everyone loved their raw options! My dad still talks about it sometimes eheh. As for me, I asked for green beans tempura for starters and homemade pasta with butternut squash, smoked miso and nettles. It was by far one of the best meals in LA... I've attempted to somewhat recreate it home, that's how much I liked.

On the downside, yes, it was very very expensive (but worth it lol). I should also point out that my pasta took quite awhile to be served. This was because of their "sharing" policy: they'll bring some of the dishes first, and then the others. So if like me you're going to have your own dish you should probably ask for it to come with the first batch!

 

3. The Cheesecake Factory

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We did not have an actual meal in here, but it doesn't matter! After a couple of hours strolling around the Grove, we hopped in to grab some cheesecake slices on the go. My sister and I splitted two slices, strawberry and cookie dough, and my dad asked for the Godiva Chocolate one. Oh boy...! Every single one of them was absolutely tremendously delicious. I tried to pick I favorite, but it's impossible.The only thing I'd change would be the size, one slice is way too big for your average foodie, especially as a dessert. We had a hard time finishing ours, and ended up storing it in the freezer and eating the rest a couple of days later.

 

4. Solar de Cahuenga

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Last but definitely not least: my favorite spot in town! 

Just around the corner from our rented house, this was the chosen location for our first lunch. Chilled back environment, with it's exposed brick walls and wooden furniture. As for the menu, there's enough variety to please everyone! From breakfast food day-round (who doesn't love breakfast food?), crepes, toasts, salads and "proper" dishes with a few vegetarian options and even a couple of vegan ones as well. After some serious indecisiveness I opted for the falafel wrap, and couldn't have made a better choice! I'd never had falafel before, but I'm sure this was a great first time. The wrap was filled to the limit (so much so I couldn't finish it) and I chose a salad on the side, but daddy's fries were awesome as well. I also had a green smoothie (the "Alkalizer")  which was better than I expected. 

We went back to the Solar for dinner a couple of days later. This time I asked for the falafel salad... yes! Falafel again eheh. That's how much I loved it! I ordered another smoothie (the one with celery) and although it wasn't as good as the first, I certainly drank it all! 

I loved this place to bits, from the menu, to the (great quality) food, to the environment and the staff! Too bad I didn't get the chance to try any of their sweets, because they sure looked yummy. Maybe the next time?

(There'll definitely be a next time.)

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09
Abr16

city of angels

by M

 The first of a couple posts about our trip to the Golden State during Spring Break :)

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31
Mar16

wanderlust

by M

You attempt to resume real life, but it feels a bit weird, a bit unfitting, kinda like wearing freshly washed jeans--stiff and uncomfortable, only time and use will bring it to normality again. But in reality it's not just the missing... It's not just that you were on vacation and the weather was better and you had a good time and now you have to go back to the dullness of every day life. You left home ten days ago, you crossed land and ocean and saw things you'd never seen, and ate foods you'd never eaten, and met people you'd never known, and said things you'd never said and now you're here again and your bed is still carved into the shape of your body and the room is perfectly dark and quiet, but you find yourself missing that stupid bunk and the light seeping throught the blinds too early and the faint sounds of the city late at night. In the morning you have your favorite breakfast but you're sighing at the thought of the shitty packaged bread with pb&j and chips a'hoy. You're waiting to cross the street and you click the button a million times but it doesn't say "wait". The rain tickles the windows outside and although it's still cozy and comforting, it seems misplaced now.

 

And when you stop to think about, you're not the person that you were before you went. It's like every little new experience has been absorbed into your soul and now it's a bit wider and that's why it feels like you've outgrown your real life even if just a little. The trick is not to find your way back to fit in it again, but incorporating all the newness into it, shaping it into this bigger you, making your own universe more diverse and potentially more accepting.

 

So you carry on and although it might feel like the weight of the things you've done and experienced is too heavy to fit in this stupid small town, you do it anyway. Mainly because you have to, partially because you're just waiting for the next chance to hop on a plane and go see the world.

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21
Mar16

2016-03-21

by M

Great things of today:

  • the hazelnut frap I had this morning
  • the tour guide's quirky remarks
  • walking around the farmer's market
  • sharing cheesecake with dad and constança
  • hilarious car rides
  • choosing my favorite pantings at the lacma
  • skipping down the sidewalk in the twilight
  • picking up groceries with dad
  • ordering pho for dinner on the phone
  • recognizing the set of supergirl on tv
  • meeting new people
  • finding smilarities in the life of a stranger 5000 miles from home
  • eating melted chocolate with little-to-no ice cream

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29
Jan16

missing sicily

by M

sicily.JPGWinter is here. After three months of flirting and teasing and threatening, with chilly mornings but sunshine, heavy coats but little underneath, it seems as though it's here once and for all. I'd been loving that light fall weather to bits: grey but not too grey, cold enough to wear boots and drink some tea, sunny afternoons at the barn.

 

Yet now I found myself reminiscing those sticky-hot days in Sicily back in August. We'd get up to a breakfast tray at our doorstep--thick layers of nuttella on toast!, and who said you can't have rich chocolate cake in the morning? After coating ourselves in generous amounts of sunscreen, we'd hop on our uncomfortable rental car and drive less 10 minutes trough clay roads and steep cliffs to the beach, where fewer than another 100 people were scattered along the white sand. 

 

I miss my tiptoeing through the hard rocks that lay where the water met land and diving headfirst into the warm, crystal clear water. I'd stay in until my fingers got wrinkles and then lay on my towel under the boiling sun until it got hard to breathe and my skin started to hurt, then I'd get up and take a walk to the bay that hid behind the cliff. We'd lunch at the little bar in our bikinis and bare feet. Entrees were always a huge fruit salad and to slices of watermelon big enough to feed the three of us.Then we'd have deliciously crispy paninis--I'd usually go for the cheese and tomato ones. Never in my life had I had such great, juicy, fresh tomatoes! I found myself wondering if I'd ever be able to eat non-Sicilian ones, because nothing can compare... After lunch we'd do some exploring, tried new beaches and drove around the island in our shitty car, the AC blaring and salty hair sticking to my neck. By sunset we'd get back home, shower and search for some place to dinner. 

 

I miss exploring in sandals, bare shoulders and sunshades and sun kissing my skin. I miss having meals outside and asking for unnecessary entreés because they were a. cheap, b. great and c. italian. I will shamelessly confess that one of my favorite things about Italy is the food--and that trip to Sicily was absolute heaven when it comes to that. I can still taste that spaghetti al pesto I had on my last day, and let me tell you: it tasted just like summer should. But I also miss the general feeling of having nothing to worry about other than tanlines and where to have dinner, snapping pictures of beautiful landscapes, looking out the window and thinking just how generous mother Nature was to that place. 

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Winter is here. It's been here for less than a month... But all I want is a one-way trip to the tropics. Pretty please?

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Last November, me and my family ebmarked in a short trip to Paris for my birthday. We left Friday night and returned Monday night.

 

I'd planned the whole trip in my head for the month prior, from what I'd wear, to what I'd eat and the pictures I wanted to take. Obviously, most things didn't go as I expected, something that paradoxically I was already expecting. However there was one thing I wasn't going to give up on: to have a deliciously parisien croissant on my birthday. And so on Monday, we left our picturesque apartment (one of the things that was just like I wanted it to be!) in the morning, in search of the best croissants in town. I had noted down a few of the most famous ones, but as we were heading to Le Marais the options were narrowed down to two: Miss Manon and Pôilane. We found the first one in the blink of an eye, only to find it closed... We carried on looking for the latter with me starting to get a bit unmotivated, but cheered by the cozy and comforting environment of the neighbourhood (a must visit if you're planning to go to Paris!). Unfortunately, it turned out Pôilane was also closed on Mondays. At this point I was sure my croissant endeavor had just blatantly failed (you must understand I am deeply emotional about croissants). It was a few corners ahead we finally found an open bistro, Le Voltigeur. As we approached it, I took a fast glance inside to find a table full of out-of-the-oven croissants just by the door. It was love at first sight, although only just the beginning. 

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We sat on a table by the window and asked for three croissants and a pain au chocolat for my dad. By the counter, crates of fruit had me ordering an orange juice as well. My sister opted to have her croissant with jam--not homemade, but just as delicious. If you haven't introduced Bonne Maman products to your life, you have been missing out! And as for the star of the show--the croissant--it was probably the best I had in my entire life and trust me, I'm a PhD when it comes to those. It was just and flaky and buttery as it's supposed to be, yet light and overall as yummy as it gets.

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But the irony is that I unintentionally ended up in a classic parisien café just like the ones I pictured in my daydreaming before the trip. The kind with stacks of books and smart looking people, big windows and sits outside with blankets for you to wrap in as you enjoy and take in Paris in all its glory. It's funny that while I was looking for acclaimed, fancy cafés that would be far from my imagination I ended up finding exactly what I was looking for, away from the tourist hustle and bustle and the overpriced goods. The lesson to take from here is: more than travelling, we should do some exploring. Forget the maps and the guides, trust our gut and just be in those places, going wherever they take us. I think that's the best way to truly know someplace new.

 

I doubt either Miss Manon or Pôilane can possibly have a croissant better than that one, but I will not mind testing it out so long as it means another trip to Paris ;)

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