Well hello there internet world, it’s been a few weeks since I last blogged but I’m back! I apologize for the lack of posts and yummy photos plastered on my blog but with a ton of work and a week long vacation in southern California, I’ve amped myself up to get back to the blog life. “A new year means a new me” is what I often find on most social media sites or hear when I’m out passing by strangers. I wish I could set all of these resolutions for myself but the truth is, I’d rather just take each day at a time, try new things in general and be the best I can be. I’m not going to transform myself into something new but rather improve on certain things and continue to grow in certain areas of my life. Once I get back to Chicago this coming weekend I plan on starting a month at Pure Barre. For those of you who don’t know what barre is, check it out because it will change your life! It’s a great type of workout that will “lift. tone. burn” I always figure if I’m paying for a workout and in a class, I’m bound to go. I hope to update you with my experience along the way.
Going back in time a bit to the beginning of 2015, I left for San Diego the last week of December to visit one of my best friends from school with another friend. We stayed there the 29th through the 5th and during our time, traveled to La Jolla, downtown San Diego, Culver City and Los Angeles. Although I would have liked to hit more restaurants that I researched, I did go to some great places including Café Gratitude, Urth Caffé, Craft Los Angeles, The Wallace and Swingers Diner. I’ll go into detail about two of the restaurants because they all blew me away in their own unique ways and I could go on forever about each one. I also enjoyed a plethora of almond milk lattes, indulged in short rib at Allure (where I ate pork for the first time all year) and witnessed the sunset reflect off of downtown San Diego on the island of Coronado. So many memorable experiences throughout the week that I am truly grateful for.
The second full day I was in California, my friends and I drove to Los Angeles as we were staying in Culver City for New Year’s Eve. My friend Ana had met Joe Jonas there a year ago so we were determined to go and find Nick Jonas this time around. Well, no such luck but we did get some good bites. The place was packed but were able to snatch a table outside in the cold and ordered sandwiches, soups, lattes and bubble tea galore. My friends ordered chai lattes with soy milk, organic green tea bubble tea and of course I ordered an almond milk matcha green tea latte. I was in heaven. Matcha lattes are my favorite drinks and I always indulge in one whenever I’m traveling and the company uses almond milk.
Unfortunately my vegan tuscan kale soup and latte came out rather lukewarm and not hot, which I was slightly disappointed by but my sandwich was SO AMAZING. I ordered half of the Sprout Sandwich ($9.50) and it was HUGE for a half portion. It came on sprouted toast with avocado, hummus, red onion and sprouts (sans cheese). A simple salad on the side was a nice addition as well.
Urth sells an abundance of options from omelets and quiches to organic blended ice drinks that contain no preservatives and vegan bakery. However, some aspects of Urth did seem a bit overdone and cliché to me as most of the menu includes basic and overpriced turkey sandwiches and caesar salads you could find at any café.
Urth was one of the first highlights of the trip because it was what we were planning on going to for a few months yet my second favorite was Café Gratitude. We ate at Café Gratitude as a late lunch on New Year’s Eve before we got ready for dinner 2 hours later. Among a few locations in California, we headed to the one in Venice. In a decently large location, numerous images with inspiring messages lined the walls such as my favorite “Love. Serve. Remember.” The café is completely vegan, offering many raw options as well. I ordered the I AM FORTIFIED ($14) — a sautéed vegetable bowl with either quinoa or brown rice, basil hempseed pesto and market autumn vegetables. It was simple but extremely filling and I knew I couldn’t go wrong with a veggie quinoa bowl. I took some bites off of my friend’s appetizer of I AM ECSTATIC ($11) – a dish of maple miso glazed brussel sprouts. They were heavenly. However, I don’t think I could ever spend $11 on a bowl of brussel sprouts when I could probably make 5 pounds worth of the same dish for less than $5.
Before we left I knew dessert sadly would not be an option since we were eating again shortly after but I knew I had to order a coffee drink or juice. I chose the I AM CHARISMATIC ($5) – a chai latte with almond milk and cinnamon. It arrived at the perfect temperature and was so rich. I drank it over the span of two hours that’s how rich and luscious it was. I recommend the café if you are ever in the L.A. area.
Along with hitting some of the best eats L.A./San Diego had to offer, my friends and I did a bit of adventuring and exploring during our vacation. We headed to Balboa Park and saw the Botanical Building along with the San Diego art museums, drove up to SoulCycle in Santa Monica on New Year’s Eve afternoon and hiked up a seemingly small yet 2 hour long trail up San Miguel Mountain in Chula Vista, CA. Without a doubt my favorite part was SoulCycle. My two friends and I were running extremely late and ran in with a minute to spare yet the 45 minutes we spent on that bike flew by. The no lights and high intensity music made the class seem effortless yet at the same time extremely intense. Thank God it’s coming to Chicago this year because it is one of the most fun, high energy workouts I’ve ever been apart of.
After my adventures in California, I can’t wait to start this year off in Chicago on a high note. Hopefully this year I will cross more must-try restaurants off of my post-it note that I keep on my desktop. Blue Door Farm Stand, Mana Food Bar and Handlebar are top priority. 🙂
Here’s to a foodie-filled year, hopefully packed with many more recipes, blog posts and yummy eats!