Showing posts with label Travels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travels. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Venice, Los Angeles Part 1

venice4

I didn't really know what to expect from Los Angeles. Since we only had four days, we based ourselves in a fantastic Airbnb apartment near the beach in Venice and spent the time exploring Santa Monica and the fantastic restaurants and shops along Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

I was so glad we went for the more relaxed approach staying in one place rather than having to deal with crazy LA traffic when crossing town! It was soooo nice to have no plans but to explore, eat, shop and repeat.

kreation cafe, venice

Kreation Organic


Denea had been to this little organic cafe and juice bar before and said it was really good. We actually ended up there for brunch twice. It was a great, healthy way to start the day and the portions were enormous enough to share. After much indecision staring at the extensive juice menu, I started with a Green #2 juice and an espresso. The juice was delicious (yes I'm one of those weirdos who actually likes green juice), but unfortunately the coffee wasn't great.

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The Kreation Club was a monster sandwich with Niman Ranch bacon, organic greens, tomato, hummus on multi-grain bread. Try as I might, I didn't even come close to finishing it, especially not with the side of delicious sautéed galic kale. I ate a lot of kale in LA and have replicated this dish a few times since I've been home.

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This was the Cancun Salad with an added free range Chicken Kabob that was tremendously satisfying and big enough for the two of us to share for lunch. Organic baby greens with roasted corn and black bean salsa, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and a what looks like a whole avocado with a house made dressing on the side. Delicious and healthy too!

kreation-4

I really liked the decor and the friendly staff, my only complaint was a minor one, that the food took quite a long time to come out. They also have quite a few other locations in LA.

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One interesting tidbit, this cool mural was in the laneway next door to the cafe, and I snapped this photo on our first visit. On our second visit it was all covered over in plastic and we suspected that they might be repainting it. Sure enough, I ventured past on my last day in Venice only to find a completely bare white wall! Sad!

Kreation Kafe on Urbanspoon

Kreation Cafe, 1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd Venice, CA 90291
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urbanic1

I fell quite in love with super cute paper and stationary boutique Urbanic. I resisted spending an enormous amount of money, and just bought a few cute cards and notebooks. But really, I wanted to take everything home with me in my suitcase. Especially that ampersand light!! Oh my lord that would look so good in my bedroom!

urbanic3

If you're looking for great unique gifts, custom stationary for your wedding or event or cards ranging from sweet to cheeky, this is the place!

urbanic2

Urbanic, 1644 Abbott Kinney Blvd Venice, CA 90291
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local 1205

How do you feel about dining solo? I had some amazing meals by myself in New York, but it felt a little different to be eating alone while in LA and Hawaii for some reason. Not in a bad way, just a different vibe. Local 1205 is described as a 'food lovers emporium' serving food from morning til late. At the juice bar you can get cold-pressed juices and smoothies, and inside they are serving up some pretty epic pizzas, sandwiches and seafood.

I liked the stripped back warehouse vibe with pops of colour from the bright red chairs, and the mini market set up in one corner of the restaurant featuring local gourmet products. I started with a homemade ginger lemonade, which was just perfect on a hot day.

local 1205

I've been watching quite a few episodes of Amazing Eats lately, and have established a clear correlation between deliciousness and messiness when you're dealing with sandwiches. The El Cubano was definitely both of those things!

Consisting of fall-apart slow roasted pork loin, Niman Ranch smoked ham, gruyere cheese, pickles and whole grain mustard on a Cuban roll, the flavours all worked so well together. This place is a winner. I wish I'd got the chance to try a few more of the delicious sounding items on the menu!

local-1205-sandwich

Local 1205 on Urbanspoon

Local 1205, 1205 Abbott Kinney Blvd Venice, CA 90291
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casalinda-tacos

One of the things I was looking forward to the most was trying some Mexican food in California. After missing out in San Francisco, I was determined to get my fill in LA. I visited Casalinda on Abbot Kinney for a quick, cheap lunch.

I chose beef, pork and shrimp tacos, which were all pretty darn delicious, but my favourite was definitely the pork. I'd also definitely recommend the watermelon juice, it's so refreshing!

Casa Linda on Urbanspoon

Casalinda, 1357 Abbott Kinney Blvd Venice, CA 90291
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Stay tuned for Part 2 real soon, with lots more delicious Venice eats!

Monday, October 21, 2013

San Francisco

flowers

Leaving New York kind of sucked. After running late to the airport and the slowest crawl through security ever, I finally made my flight to SFO. Halfway through I was woken from a nap to find that the man sitting right next to me was having a seizure. There was a doctor on board but it lasted over 30 minutes and he couldn't work out the cause. The pilot had no choice but to divert to Chicago, where an ambulance met us on the tarmac and took him away for tests.

I was a little rattled, having been pinned in the window seat all that time! And I could hardly believe that I had two 'only in the movies' flying experiences within one week. I'm a little ashamed to say it, but I spent the first entire day in San Francisco in a funk, wishing I was still in NYC. I didn't even have a coffee, I didn't eat, I didn't leave the apartment. I sat on the balcony, skyped with a friend and waited for Denea to arrive.

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golden gate bridge

It's a very different experience exploring a new place solo vs with a friend. We had two days and no real plan. Our first stop was the Golden Gate Bridge - mostly covered in fog. The weather was also a surprise. The first day was clear and sunny, but then the weather turned chilly, windy and very foggy, which our host said happened every summer in the Bay.

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Ferry Building Markets


If you haven't already noticed, I loooove a farmers market. We were lucky enough to make it down to the Ferry Plaza Markets just before they shut up shop. After wandering around picking up some beautiful fresh produce (eggplants and okra for dinner), we definitely needed a coffee. I'd heard amazing things about the Blue Bottle Coffee Co, so I was thrilled to see their coffee cart outside, and also picked up a bag of coffee beans to bring home.

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mushrooms

As everything started to close for the day we ventured inside to find a lot more deliciousness. Mushrooms from Far West Funghi, incredible artisan cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, and the most delicious sandwich, the 'Mess Piggy' from Boccalone Salumeria, with pulled pork and spicy pickled peppers. Their tagline was 'tasty salted pig parts' - I mean how could we not!

And then we took a selfie.

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bay-bridge
ferry building

Boccalone on Urbanspoon

Ferry Building Marketplace, 1 Sausalito - San Francisco Ferry Bldg, San Francisco, CA 94111, United States
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tartine bakery, sf

Tartine Bakery


I've been long obsessed with the Tartine Bakery cookbooks, so visiting the bakery was definitely the #1 thing on my list to do in San Fran. The bakery itself was actually a lot smaller than I imagined, and the queue snaked out the door and around the corner. Probably for the best because I got massive dessert-related indecision while lining up, and couldn't decide what to order. 

tartine bakery, sf tartine bakery, sf

In the end, I had to get the Tres Leches cake, one of their most famous. Accompanied by a couple of glasses of Prosecco, of course. It was sweet, creamy, beautifully textured cake with a layer of pastry on top instead of the usual whipped cream or frosting. Definitely trying this recipe from the cookbook soon! I wish we'd had the stomach space to try one of their amazing looking croissants!

tartine bakery, sf

We arrived just after 4.30pm, which meant that their fresh breads by genius baker Chad Robertson were available, so we also picked up a small loaf of sourdough. We ate it with the epic truffled goat's cheese that we picked up from Cowgirl Creamery earlier and a few glasses of champagne. It was actually one of the best loaves of sourdough I think I've ever had, so I'd definitely recommend it if you're visiting. But be quick, they sell out!

tartine bakery, sf
Photo by Denea

Tartine Bakery on Urbanspoon

Tartine Bakery, 600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110, United States
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IMG_6886mission-cheese
mission cheese

The Mission District


After visiting Tartine, we wandered around the colourful Mission District, which was a highlight of the whole trip, and definitely somewhere I'd like to explore more one day. Mission Cheese was a fabulous looking wine and cheese bar serving up daily changing cheese flights, charcuterie and sandwiches.

dandelion chocolatedandelion chocolatedandelion chocolate

Another awesome looking place we stumbled across was Dandelion Small Batch Chocolate, where we sampled a few boutique chocolates made from bean to bar locally and try some bitter raw cacao. It was very interesting to see a little more of the chocolate-making process.

pirateshopmission wisdom

Unfortunately the Pirate Store was (quite) closed. We loved this sign! Wise advice on the streets of the Mission District. Another thing I wished we'd got to do was try some Mexican food. I've heard it's particularly amazing in this area.

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I loved exploring the city with Denea and looking forward to visiting San Fran again one day soon. There is so much more to see - hopefully with slightly better weather next time! Stay tuned for the LA recap very soon xx

Thursday, September 26, 2013

New York, Part 2

new york

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of my New York posts, but there's still lots more to go! There's donuts, pizza and burgers - oh yes. No wonder I needed a detox when I got home!! Six days was definitely not long enough, especially since I lost a day with our unexpected 18 hour stopover in Fiji because of mechanical problems with our plane.

From the minute I stepped off the subway in Manhattan, everything felt familiar and right to me. I drastically overestimated my stomach space and only managed to visit about a quarter of the things on my very ambitious itinerary, but I just loved this city so much and I cannot wait to go back.

ice cream truck

empire state building

Empire State Building


I took a thousand and one photos from the observation deck, but I'll spare you all of those. I figured I had to get my tourist on and visit this beautiful New York landmark. It was a really special experience that made me realise the sheer size and expanse of the city in every single direction. Stunning.

Just don't do what I did... Being a warm July day I was wearing a dress. But it gets pretty breezy on the 86th floor, so while I was busily snapping photos, a gust of wind blew up my skirt and 100 tourists saw my underwear. Polka dots, of course. Awkward. But priceless.

empire state building

empire state building

Empire State Building, 350 5th Ave, New York, NY 10118, United States
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shake shack

Shake Shack


After hearing much hype about New York burger chain Shake Shack, I was intrigued to try it. It was on my list, but I actually ended up stumbling across their Theater District outpost while trying to escape the madness that is Times Square! The first thing I noticed was queue consisting of mostly tourists, which was pretty epic especially for the random time of 4pm. It must be absolutely crazy at lunch and dinner time.

shake shack

I got the single Shack Burger, a New York style cheeseburger made with Angus beef, topped with lettuce, tomato and shack sauce on a super soft bun, with a side of crinkle cut fries and a refreshing but super sweet Blueberry Lemonade to beat the heat.

I quite liked the burger with the ubiquitous and quintessentially American yellow cheddar cheese, but I wouldn't rate it as one of the best burgers I've ever had. Give me a brioche bun and pickles any day. I would have loved to try the shakes or frozen custards that they are so famous for, but there's no way I would have been able to finish one, they sound like a meal on their own!

Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

Shake Shack, 691 8th Ave, New York, NY 10036, United States
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roberta's

Roberta's


I was lucky enough to catch up with Teresa from Eat Show and Tell, who has been living in New York for about 3 years, and some of her other Australian friends who moved over earlier this year. After a small hiccup on the subway involving an express train instead of a local (I soon learned the difference!) I headed over to Bushwick, and had a delicious Green Tea Mint Julep in a cute nearby bar while waiting for our table at Roberta's.

I can understand why it's so popular. It's hipster central in here, drinks served in jars, lights strung up, a garden bar to the side. We felt a little out of place not having sleeve tattoos, but it had a great atmosphere.

roberta's

It's not just pizzas here - there are a variety of house-cured meats like the Duck Prosciutto (which is as good as it sounds, served with housemade bread) and a range of absolutely beautiful seasonal starters. The Grilled Snap Peas with Prosciutto, Egg and Mozzarella were definitely a joint favourite with the Squid with Meyer Lemons, Scallions and Chilli. Both were so simply prepared, fresh and summery!

roberta's

Aren't these pizzas things of beauty? Perfect crusts and charred edges, simple, seasonal toppings - it just doesn't get better than this. It didn't take long for me to get the 'New York pizza fold' downpat either. My favourites were the Heirloom Tomato special of the day and the 'White and Greens' which is as simple as it sounds, a mozzarella pizza that gets a tumble of mixed greens dressed with parmigiano and lemon thrown on top after cooking.

roberta's

And for dessert, a lovely little Meyer Lemon Bar with Smoked Ricotta Ice Cream (very interesting!), blueberries and lemon thyme. The perfect sweet ending to a great dinner with old and new friends who did a great job convincing me to move to New York!!

Roberta's on Urbanspoon

Roberta's, 261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY, 11206
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sylvia's

Sylvia's


I'd heard from my cousin who had visited New York recently that she had amazing chicken and waffles at Sylvia's in Harlem, and it wasn't just the best thing she'd eaten in the city, but one of the best things she'd eaten ever. So obviously I had to try it!

Established by Sylvia Woods, the 'queen of soul food' in 1962, this is a Harlem institution. The service was great from the minute I stepped inside, and the menu was full of fantastic sounding southern fare complete with grits and biscuits. I got excited to see a local beer by the Harlem Brewing Company on the menu, but was told that it is so boutique that they never really know when they'll have it in stock.

sylvia's

sylvia's

The complimentary cornbread was the best I'd ever had, hands down. But I was here for one thing, the chicken and waffles. I know how weird it probably sounds if you haven't tried it before, but I urge you to. It's a taste sensation!

I also ordered a totally unnecessary side dish of macaroni and cheese, which was unfortunately a little cold and bland. As you can see, the chicken and waffles was an enormous serving which I absolutely could not finish it, but it was delicious. And if you're in Sydney and keen to try a great version of this dish locally, go and visit Jazz City Diner or Milk Bar.

Sylvia's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sylvia's, 328 Malcom X Boulevard New York, NY 10027 
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juliana's

juliana's

Juliana's


I had a bittersweet feeling about my last night in New York - not at all ready to leave this city I'd fallen hard for, but excited about the next part of the trip and seeing my best friend Denéa in San Francisco. After walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, I found myself outside New York institution Grimaldi's Pizza... and faced with a massive queue. But remembering some sound advice from a friend, I went around the corner to Juliana's, its sister restaurant which is actually the original location of Grimaldi's and heralds the return of Patsy and Carol Grimaldi to the restaurant scene.

juliana's

The staff were really lovely and sat me at the bar next to the pizza kitchen since I was dining solo. I enjoyed a beer from the nearby Brooklyn Brewery while watching the chefs at work making enormous New York style pizzas. I chose the 'No. 4' which I was told is one of their most popular pizzas, topped with tomatoes, proscuitto, rocket and mozzarella. The 'small' size was enormous, and it's very hard to pick a favourite between Roberta's and Juliana's pizzas, both were really great.

Juliana's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Juliana's Pizza, 19 Old Fulton St, New York, NY 11201
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doughnut plant

Doughnut Plant

My last stop in New York was Doughnut Plant in Chelsea. I'd been following them on Facebook for about 12 months prior to the trip, loved the sound of their flavour combinations, and definitely had to visit one of their many city locations.

I downed my 700th cold brew coffee of the trip and picked up some yeast-free glazed cake doughnuts, as I was taking them with me to San Francisco and was told they'd travel better, but they also offer traditional yeasted doughnuts including the jam-filled square shaped ones and filled mini 'dough seeds' with some unique flavours like creme brulee and cashew orange blossom.

donut plant

I picked Chocolate Chip, Tres Leches, and the summer specials Blueberry and Coconut and Lime. I was actually surprised that they were still very fresh two or three days after I bought them! My favourites were Blueberry, which was made with a fresh blueberry glaze and the Tres Leches. I've totally been craving their doughnuts since I got back home!

Doughnut Plant on Urbanspoon

Doughnut Plant, 379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002
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times square

Stay tuned for recaps from San Francisco, LA and Hawaii coming up very soon! xx

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