Monday, November 30, 2009

Somewhere in Brooklyn, NY

Greetings! I'm back! Well, not really back. I'm now in Boston at my uncle's place. Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. But fear not, I have tons of pictures to share with you on my trip to Spain. The food, the wine, the yofruit digestive cookies, ahh ... oh how I miss them all. But for now I will go in chronological order. First, here's a lovely day spent in Brooklyn with Pete and Sarah.

Pete and Sarah are coming out with a letterpress card collection for the holiday season and I tagged along to go watch them work their magic. If you're not sure what letterpress printing is, it looks like this.
It's a relief printing of text and images that you run through a printing press. It's very labor intensive because you have to first create a wooden block of your design and then you run each paper through the press to get the impression and/or color. The end results, however, are quite lovely. You can run your fingers through the letters and feel the impression on the paper. They are coming out with a website soon so I'll link the site when it's up. I've taken a sneak peak at their holiday cards and they are adorable and all made with LOVE, of course.

This letterpress shop had so much charm. It seriously could be a storefront for Anthropologie. I think I uttered "oh my gosh, it is so cute" ten gazillion times while I was there and kept taking pictures of his workspace, including this door.
It's so weathered and beat, and I'm sure it's been around forever. If only it could talk, it would say, "stop taking pictures of me crazy girl."
A peak from the inside.
Here's his doggie.
The owner let me wander around his loft and look through his collection of letterpress blocks.
While we were there, he was making signs for his friend's book signing party.
Here are some of his presses.
Another press of some kind.
Since this is supposed to be a food blog after all, here's a pic of my lovely latte that I had at Oslo Coffee nearby. I just checked their website and apparently they are located in Williamsburg, so that's where I was! I'm not a huge coffee drinker, but there were quite a few people waiting in line, so they must be doing something right.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cafe Stella - Silver Lake, CA

I'm a little behind in my posts, so this is yet another one from LA. I'm in NY and headed to Madrid tomorrow. I am excited to be going to Spain, but also a bit nervous that I am just winging the first half of this trip. I can be a little be neurotic when it comes to planning trips. I usually plan weeks in advance and look up hotels and make a list of places to eat and things I want to see, but this time around, I only booked the first 2 nights of my trip in Madrid and that's about it. I'll just have to figure out what I'm going to do for a week while Pete meets me in Barcelona. I bought two guidebooks to read on the plane, but I know that once I sit down in the plane, I will just pass out for the duration of the flight until I land in Madrid and then I'll just be one confused girl sitting in a Madrid airport. hahaha. Don't worry folks, I'll be ok.

So back to this cute cafe in Silver Lake. I had drinks here one night a few weeks ago and it was adorable. It totally reminded me of a cafe in Paris. It’s hidden from the main street (Sunset Avenue), but they have a huge sign on top. You kind of have to walk through a courtyard to see the outside of the cafe. You’ll see an outdoor area with cute Parisian tables and chairs set up. I think the main entrance faces the street perpendicular to Sunset Ave. There was indoor seating area, as well as a bar area next door. Outside, there were several tables set up. We chose to sit outside since it was a warm night. Each table had candles on each table. It was really quaint and it felt like you were away from the city.

I should have looked more closely at the menu, but it looked like the table next to us was enjoying some mussels and pomme frites. We ordered some wine and they brought out crusty baguettes with some butter that was delish. We had already eaten, so we ordered wine and some dessert. I got the bread pudding, which had a small scoop of ice cream on top with creme anglaise on the bottom. It was yummy but it was a lot of bread pudding. I don't think I've ever met a bread pudding I've been able to finish, so it's nothing personal against this one.

My friend got the chocolate cloud cake, which basically was two thin slivers of dense, fudge like cake on some whipped cream, hence the cloud reference. It was a bit too rich for me, but some die hard fudge people might like it. Sorry, I again forgot to take pictures of our dessert before eating half of them and the chocolate cloud cake picture didn't come out that great. So just believe me when I say, it was not worth documenting.

They had a good selection of wine and beer. They even had Chimay, which is one of my cousin’s favorite beer, on tap. It definitely warrants a return visit, perhaps next time to try their food. Although I'd be perfectly happy eating their bread and sipping some wine again. =)

Cafe Stella

3932 W. Sunset Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90029

Friday, November 6, 2009

Visit to the LA Flower District

For my grandma’s 80th birthday, we wanted to get some arrangements for the house. I looked up information on the flower market in downtown and was happy to find that they were open on Saturdays to the public from 6 am to noon. We got there around 11 and although they said that one structure closes at 1 and the other at 2, most vendors had already packed up and closed. The selection was definitely limited, however, on the other hand, we found great deals on bunches of flowers. We got a tropical bouquet for $2 and two dozen roses for about $7.50 each and three stems of hydrangeas for $5. The entrance fee for each person was $1. It’s usually $2 on the weekdays. They are closed on Sundays.

Look at these roses.
A row of hydrangeas.
Check out the calla lilies at the bottom.
I've never seen gray hydrangeas before, but they are lovely.
I didn't catch the name of the white flowers but don't they look like wild flowers?

I learned from Marianne, our flower arrangement class teacher, that all the wholesalers get their shipment of flowers on Monday so the flowers you get on Friday or Saturday have been there for a full week, which is why they are eager to sell off the flowers by Saturday because they will be getting in new shipments on Monday. But if you want to get the freshest flowers, you probably want to go in earlier in the week unless you have a huge refrigerated room to store them in yourself.

Once we got home, we greened the flowers and my mom and I had a contest to see who can make a better arrangement.

Here's my mom's.

Here's mine.

I like to believe mine was superior, but the next morning when we woke up, my mom had the last laugh. I went down to see the arrangements to find that mine had been poached, while my mom's remained perfectly in tact. Hmm... highly suspicious.

Turns out, I stuck my flower stems past the oasis foam, which is the water filled foam that feeds the flowers, so my stems were sticking out on all sides of the oasis, and thus not getting any water. Ooops. My hydrangeas were shrived up by morning. It was an unusually hot weekend in the valley too so the rest of the flowers didn’t last very long either. All the flowers looked pretty limp by Sunday afternoon. I thought maybe I did something wrong, but in my flower arranging class on Monday, Marianne also noted that she’s received some calls about her flowers wilting fast too. So it wasn’t just us, it’s just too darn hot these days.

The flower district is located in downtown Los Angeles on Wall Street, between 7th and 8th streets. I went down to the flower district before and while most of the wholesalers are in that warehouse looking structure, I’ve gotten flowers from just regular retail stores along the street as well.

On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday the hours are 6 am to noon for the public and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, they are open from 8 am to noon.

If anyone wants to go get some flowers (when I get back), let me know, I’d be happy to tag along.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Syrup Desserts - Los Angeles, CA

So after Thai food, we went in search of dessert. JW mentioned a new dessert place that opened up in downtown, so I suggested it to Mary and she was excited about trying their waffles.

Here's the store front.

It’s on Spring Street, but the store front is fairly narrow and there isn't a huge sign in front, so it’s easy to miss. First thing I noticed when I walked in was their water station. I’m notorious for drinking lots of water, so I was ecstatic. I always feel bad asking waitresses and waiters for more water, so I love that it’s easily accessible out in front. They had regular iced water and iced water with orange and lemon slices. The sign added a nice touch.

Syrup Desserts is basically a loft like space with some couches and tables upstairs. I eyed some board games up there too. There were a few tables downstairs and outside as well. We grabbed a table upstairs since it was empty at that time. Here's the view from the top. It's nice and airy with the high ceilings.

We ordered the Syrup Signature waffle which was an original Liege waffle with French Vanilla Bean ice cream, fresh strawberries and strawberry glaze.

I’ve never had a Liege waffle before, but it’s dense and tasted a bit doughy at first. It was expecting a Belgium waffle so the texture threw me off, but I quickly got used to it. The sugar sprinkled on top made for a nice combination with the doughy waffle. I could have done without the whipped cream, which kind of just made the waffle soggy. I think the best part of the dish was the ice cream. I’m a sucker for vanilla bean anything. This ice cream did not disappoint. It had tons of vanilla specks in it and it was creamy and delicious. We gobbled that up pretty fast.

We wanted to try a crepe as well so once again we stuck with the Syrup favorite, which had mixed berries, Blackberry Jasmine Tea ice cream, marscapone and orange juice in it.

Mary thought the crepes were on the soft side. Her favorite are the ones from her neighborhood farmer’s market, so she said this was a bit of a disappointment. I didn't mind the crepes so much, but didn't like the filling. I was expecting whipped marscapone, but it was just a spoonful of it inside the crepe and if you’ve ever tried eating straight up marscapone, you will realize that it’s like thick cream cheese. I think it would have been great if they had spread a thin layer of it on the crepe instead of having a big glob of it in the center. Who wants to eat a spoonful of marscapone? Not even soomeenshee. Here again, the ice cream was the best part. Blackberry Jasmine Tea ended up being a more floral and fragrant green tea ice cream, except it was purple instead of green. It was delicious. Mary said it was too icy for her, but I liked it a lot. We were talking to the waiter and he said that most of their ice cream comes from Scoops. I’ve heard of Scoops but have never managed to make it out there, but it definitely warrants a visit next time I’m in LA. Some of their more unconventional ice cream flavors are Brown Bread, Bacon Caramel, Goat Cheese and Fig, Green Tea and Banana, Strawberry Basil, and Pear and Champagne Sorbet.

Here's a glass case filled with their other goodies.

The had a long list of waffles and crepes combinations and they also had customize your own waffle and crepe too. What looked really good and might warrant a possible second visit was their selection of Sweet Grilled Cheese sandwiches. For instance they had a pear and cheddar cheese sandwich with caramel on walnut raisin bread. Sounds like it has potential. Their Sweet Summer Sandwich had strawberries, muenster cheese, orange spread and mint on light, flaky Cuban bread. This also could be promising.

All in all, it’s probably a nice addition to the downtown scene. I’d definitely come here if I lived in downtown, but I don’t think I would drive here specifically for Syrup. I’d rather go to Scoops instead for their ice cream.

I’d just like to add that my friend Mary might have just turned 30, but the girl’s still got mojo. While I was admiring their water station and their dessert case, I overheard the following conversation:

Guy at the register: Hi, is this your first time here?

Mary: Yes, it is, do I get a discount?

I’m not sure how you would get a discount for frequenting a place for the first time, but homegirl got us a discount. I didn’t know that was possible at a food establishment. Then when the guy brought us the food, he asked where we were from and spent a good chunk of time just talking to us about the place. Apparently an Asian guy in his 30’s is the owner. This is how I also found out about them getting their ice cream from Scoops. So yes, ladies, our dear friend Mary still gots it ... too bad she’s taken. =) It was fun Mary to see you on your b-day. May your mojo be like fine wine, getting only better with age. =)

Syrup Desserts
611 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ord Noodles - Los Angeles, CA

Mary was in town for her 30th birthday and I couldn't join in the festivities so we met up by ourselves for lunch. I asked her what she was craving in LA and she said she wanted to eat thai food, yay! I’ve been waiting for an excuse to check out Ord Noodles for awhile so this was the perfect occasion. I heard that their noodle soups were really good, but I wasn’t sure about their other dishes. I figured Mary would want pad see ew or pad kee mao and if they are known for their noodle soups, their stir fried noodles, had to be good too, right?

Here's the restaurant from the side street.
Mary wanted me to take a picture of her Thai iced tea. Even though I'm usually horrible about taking pictures before I dig in, Mary was great about making sure I documented every little thing. hahaha. Are you happy Mary?

Mary wanted something spicy so she ordered the tofu pad kee mao. The waitress asked how spicy and Mary, without missing a beat, said spicy. I had heard their dishes are on the spicy side, so I suggested trying the regular first. I think she would have cried if she ordered the spicy. The weird thing was that the dish didn’t look red at all, but it was hot! She drank more water than I did. Enough said.

I ordered the duck noodle soup. The soup was dark and rich. There were slices of roasted duck on top with some blanched Chinese broccoli and bean sprouts. There were also pieces of fried garlic pieces that definitely helped cut away the fattiness of the soup. She also asked me which kind of noodles I wanted. I think the choices were thick, thin and egg noodle. I asked her what she liked best and she said she liked thin, so I went with that.

A close up of the roasted duck.
Usually I'm the first to dig into the condiments and hot peppers at a Thai restaurant, but the food is really spicy so there was no need this time around.
Apparently they are known for their boat noodle soup so I'll have to go back for that next time. It's another new find for me in Thai Town. Don't worry Deb, we'll go next time when you're in town.

Ord Noodles
5401 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Update on Soomeenshee: It's the day before the elections here and I find myself in an unusually quiet office. The rest of the gang went off to a pre-election rally and I am manning the phones b/c I need to help Korean callers find their polling locations tomorrow. The cutest call I got today was from an elderly grandmother who wanted to come from Brooklyn to vote in this election. I had to tell her that even though she wants to vote for Kevin, she doesn't live in our district so she can't just come and vote for him. It was adorable. The office has never been this quiet. Silence, oh how I've missed you. We're hoping for a great turnout tomorrow and a victory for Kevin. The day begins for us at 4:30 am. Wish us luck!