Chocolate Chip Day in LA

In the spirit of National Chocolate Chip Day, this Thursday May 15th we are comparing the classic chocolate chunk Pizookie at BJ’s to one of Los Angeles’ most recent talked about chocolate chip dispensaries – Sycamore Kitchen. The Pizookie is a signature dessert at BJ’s. It is brought to your table in aluminum tin with which it was cooked and a scoop of vanilla ice cream right on top.  The cookie is so warm that the chocolate chunks are oozing out of the cookie crust surrounding it. The chocolate chunk combined with the doughiness of the inside making you makes this soft pastry melt right in your mouth. This sweet sensation is the perfect chocolate chip dessert.

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Another chocolate chip cookie that has been getting a lot of buzz in the LA area is at Sycamore Kitchen in Hollywood California. This cookie experience was a sweet sensation! On first bite, I was taken aback by the dark chocolate chips that had an undertone of bittersweet coffee. With each bite I could taste the complex flavors of the chips and a hint of sea salt on the top crust. This was such a great compliment to the multifaceted and dense flavors presented in this cookie. Salty and sweet are a classic and always amazing combination in food. The part of the cookie I loved the most was the core of it. The center was made up of melted chocolate chips that eventually hardened in the cooling process. It was so dense in chocolate that the actual inside of the cookie was a dark brown, almost resembling the color of black licorice. This never tasted before blend of chocolate flavor was incredible – I loved it!

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Written By Sarah Liss:  A current undergraduate at the University of California Riverside, majoring in Ethnic Studies, this food lover knows her way around a menu. Her background as a biracial woman has not only made her interested in her own cultures, but also the cultural experiences of others around her. She is very perceptive, analytical and compassionate. These core characteristics helped her to see how food isn’t just nourishment, but a threshold into others’ lives.

 

Sqirl

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Sqirl is a breakfast and brunch restaurant south of Silverlake on Virgil Ave that embodies everything a woman could ask for. It’s a cornerstone establishment that has health conscious food, a tastebud friendly menu, peanut free facility (which made me feel relieved since I am extremely allergic to peanuts), and who gets their produce from sustainable and local LA farms. I was sort of in awe when I walked into this place. The restaurant was consistent in ambiance, from the interior design to even the customers who were eating there. Everyone had a style and smile on their face.

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Ordering at the counter I decided to try all I could afford to get my mouth on. I first ordered the Kokuho Rose Brown Rice Bowl, which consisted of Sorrel Pesto (nut free), Preserved Meyer Lemon, Lacto Fermented Hot Sauce, Black Radish, French Sheep Feta, and a Poached Egg placed on top. For 7.50 this bowl of sheer goodness was layered with bright flavor. The rice itself was floral tasting, hence the name rose, and it had sorrel pesto mixed within it, with a distinct taste of cilantro base. The French sheep feta was light and fluffy but still had a mass to it that could melt in your mouth with a salty effect. The poached egg was perfectly runny and once it was mixed in with the other components of this dish I was blown away. It was refreshing and light and did not lack any flavor, seasoning or savoriness to it. It was truly made to perfection.

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Next I had a brioche with ricotta and the daily special jam – already this sounds amazing. The brioche was not oily from butter but instead was flaky and almost airy from its fluffy inside. The layer of deliciousness put on top of the toast was the ricotta, which I could say was equivalent to arroz con leche (rice with milk). That is a classic south of the border dish, which is basically a sweet and creamy rice pudding. The ricotta mirrored this and gave a sort of ice cream effect on top of bread. Next was the daily jam, which was blackberry for that day. From my experience blackberries are usually tart, but this jam was able to have those bits of berry and not resemble any of that flavor. It instead it had the wonderful effect that chocolate syrup has on a sundae. This jam was overflowing the brioche, which then was soaking up all of its juices. This mixture of butter and sugar; savory and sweet left me wanting to eat in silence and not have to explain how much I enjoyed my food.

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To wash down this beautiful meal I had a blood orange pressed juice, which they also make in house. It not only was thirst quenching, but had a citrus tang to it that cleared my palette and left me feeling energized and ready for my day!

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If you happen to be in LA, Sqirl is a must eat at. Guarantee, it will become your new spot to take your dog, read a book, get some work done, meet a friend for coffee, or even enjoy a filling meal with a loved one.

Sqirl’s address is 720 N. Virgil Ave #4, Los Angeles, California 90029. If you are interested in following the company or even checking out their menu online at their website. Every Angelino and visitor should enjoy this delicious neighborhood spot!

Written By Sarah Liss:  A current undergraduate at the University of California Riverside, majoring in Ethnic Studies, this food lover knows her way around a menu. Her background as a biracial woman has not only made her interested in her own cultures, but also the cultural experiences of others around her. She is very perceptive, analytical and compassionate. These core characteristics helped her to see how food isn’t just nourishment, but a threshold into others’ lives.

Top 3 Cupcake Shops in Houston

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Crave

When you have a craving for sweets, this classic boutique bakery will surely hit the spot. With your sweet tooth’s desires laid neatly before your eyes, choose from one of their many delicious offerings. Our favorite – dark chocolate on dark chocolate because of the rich taste of cocoa and the moist cake. Feeling a little out of the box, try unique flavors such as peanut butter or banana. Flavors change by the day so come in and try something new each day of the week. For vegans with a sweet tooth they also offer classic flavors including vanilla and red velvet. If you’re watching your figure or diet, but still want a savory treat try the sugar free or mini cupcake options!

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Everything Bundt Cake

This shop is a bundt cake lover’s haven. True to it’s name is serves a variety of bundt cake options – making it a unique presence in the land of gourmet cupcake shops. Reminiscent of grandma’s house this shop breeds happy thoughts – mostly because of the delightful bundt cakes they offer. With personal size bundt cakes, you can grab-and-go a piece of homely cake heaven. Our favorite – red velvet cake with icing on the top – once you bite into them you can enjoy chocolate chip treats!

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Sugar Rush 

Everything sparkles at Sugar Rush – including the cake! These delicious pastries prove that everything that glitters in this bakery is gold. With dozens of unique flavors and equally unique designs, presentation in Queen in this land but so is taste. With flavors such as Oreo cookie you can have a two-for-one of your favorite desserts – a larger than normal cupcake with butter cream frosting, a few chocolate chips nestled inside the chocolate cake, and an Oreo cookie to top it off . Not only do these cupcakes look desirable but once you bite into them you feel like you’ve hit the gold rush.

Follow Your Heart

So it is the New Year. That means another year of resolutions. Thinking of going vegetarian? Vegan? Gluten free?  Or just yearning to have a healthier diet? Well then Follow Your Heart, a market with an attached cafe, in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, is your go to place for food in the New Year.

Follow Your Heart was originally established in 1970 as a seven-seat vegetarian food concession bar in the back of a health foods store. Now it has grown to be a market and café with indoor and outdoor seating. What makes this place so great for our readers is the fact that what you eat in the café is all ingredients that can be found in the market attached to it. So if a customer feels energetic and light after the meal they can acquire the unique ingredients that made their dishes right in the store. Some of these unusual ingredients are cashew cheese, tofu burgers also known as “wheatmeat”, reverse osmosis water, gluten and wheat free products, and eggless omelets! This is food I never grew up eating, so reviewing this café was a brand new culinary adventure.

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I started off my meal with a refreshing pressed apple and ginger juice. This drink is no joke! It is sweet and tart because of the apple, but has that strong zing that goes up your nose from the ginger. If you need a wake up call or something to clear sinuses this is a quick fix.

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For the appetizer I wanted to try their Mediterranean plate. This consisted of tabouleh, falafel, tahini sauce, hummus, and pita bread. This plate tasted like classic Mediterranean food. The hummus was creamy and its texture was not grainy. The tabouleh was diced and finely chopped (just the way I like it) and  it had just enough citric acid. The falafel and toasted pita tasted very traditional, but what I enjoyed the most was my bite into the falafel. Reasons were that it was not greasy and had a moist and dense filling. Sometimes falafel filling is overpowered by the grease on the outside, to cover up the dryness of the inside, but this was not the case with these. It was a very well executed Mediterranean plate.IMG_2453

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For my main I had a Portobello mushroom Panini with macaroni salad. I first tried the macaroni salad and I honestly wasn’t impressed. It tasted bland and really didn’t need to be there. But the Panini on the other hand was really delicious. It was savory to say the least. The outside bread was pressed to a golden crisp and the inside was packed with flavor. Imagine, sautéed mushrooms, tomatoes, red onions and bell peppers, melting into vegan mozzarella and a pesto aioli. A sandwich with ingredients that usually aren’t incorporated with one another, but ended up being extremely cohesive and allowed my tongue to be challenged.

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My sweet treat at the end was my avocado and kale stuffed sweet potato. For me I made a resolution to lose ten more pounds this year and taking out dessert is my first step to getting there. Replacing cake, or brownies and ice cream with a sweet potato was recommended to me, in order to get that sweet tooth fix. This dessert shocked me at how good it was! The yam was perfectly cooked where the skin didn’t burst of juice, but the inside was moist and mashed. The kale placed on top was only seasoned with salt allowing me the sugar of the yam to really pop out. But what sealed the deal for this to be my favorite part of the meal was the avocado. The creamy aspect of the diced avocado allowed my mouth to be tricked as if it was having salted caramel ice cream.  I detected sweetness, saltiness, and creaminess, which is what makes, salted caramel ice cream so addicting, but it was the furthest thing from that. A perfect alternative dessert to start off my new year.

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Follow Your Heart is not only a business that encourages a healthy lifestyle, but has made sure to offer food you just can’t feel guilty about. If your resolution is to be vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, or to even have a healthier diet, the market and café of Follow Your Heart will make this become a reality for your 2014 year.

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Follow Your Heart:

21825 Canoga Ave

Canoga Park, CA 91303

Written By Sarah Liss:  A current undergraduate at the University of California Riverside, majoring in Ethnic Studies, this food lover knows her way around a menu. Her background as a biracial woman has not only made her interested in her own cultures, but also the cultural experiences of others around her. She is very perceptive, analytical and compassionate. These core characteristics helped her to see how food isn’t just nourishment, but a threshold into others’ lives.

 

Silverlake Ramen

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No matter where you go or what time of year, ramen always hits the spot. So the real challenge is finding a restaurant suited for a Los Angeles winter. Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup, known mostly for its broth – typically cooked for 16-60 hours in order to get a rich and savory flavor. The broth is traditionally made with pork or fish and sometimes even a combination of both. What also defines ramen is its paleish yellow and al dente noodles topped with chasu (sliced pork), green onions and dried seaweed. At most ramen spots you have the option of adding a runny soft boiled egg and fresh crushed garlic to your soup – both of which I recommend. Regardless of the fact that LA does not have a real cold winter, it doesn’t stop us Angelenos from getting in touch with this Japanese comfort food.

Silverlake Ramen, located at 2927 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026, is a quaint little restaurant  with great service and happy patrons. Walking in you are greeted with the hot aroma of steamed buns and grilled gyoza (chicken and vegetable filled dumplings). The gentle lighting accentuates the surrounding wood paneling, and hearing the slurps of people sucking down warm noodles gets you excited with goose bumps. The thing about this ramen spot that you’ll really appreciate is that even after putting a spin on the meat options, offering meatless options for the vegetarian), they stay true to the art of traditional Japanese ramen.

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Once called to my table I already had a game plan of what I was to order – Pork bun, Gyoza, and of course my ultimate favorite, Tsukemen dipping noodle with grilled chicken. When the pork bun came to my table it was hard for me to stop to take a picture before diving in.  The sliced grilled pork nestling in a fluffy steamed bun and dressed in a savory  Japanese version of BBQ sauce, topped with pickled red onions, and fresh green onions. So simple and that’s why it was perfection in my mouth.

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Next to come out was the Gyoza. Silverlake Ramen has their own special Gyoza sauce on every table, which you use instead of soy sauce. I recommend ordering the Gyoza grilled, it creates a wonderful crisp/melt in your mouth experience. The house special Gyoza sauce, with it’s tangy hints of vinegar, is like the cherry on top of a sundae. After these two dishes I could just hear the Tsukemen ramen calling my name.

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When ordering Tsukemen dipping noodle your broth, noodles, meat, and toppings are all separated. You take each ingredients and simply dip it into the broth and then eat! Tsukemen broth also differs from typical ramen because it is more saturated with flavor due to the combination of pork and fish broth. The pork hits the fatty notes you want from a ramen and the fish hits the salty notes you need from a soup. With this euphoric combination anything you dip tastes addictive. The chicken is grilled to a crisp, the noodles al dente, and the soft-boiled egg is perfectly runny.

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Silverlake Ramen left me with a craving, making this my go to Ramen spot. Every dish was comforting, filling and soothing. Even in an LA winter where it gets 45 at the lowest, ramen is still a necessity. Check out their website at silverlakeramen.com or do yourself a favor and stop on by!

Written By Sarah Liss:  A current undergraduate at the University of California Riverside, majoring in Ethnic Studies, this food lover knows her way around a menu. Her background as a biracial woman has not only made her interested in her own cultures, but also the cultural experiences of others around her. She is very perceptive, analytical and compassionate. These core characteristics helped her to see how food isn’t just nourishment, but a threshold into others’ lives.

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