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.

Porto, Portugal

A city full of architecture

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One mode of transportation in Porto: cable cars

Porto is one of the most important cities in Portugal because of its economic system, which has been steadily growing since globalization. Apart from this, Porto’s history is alive and well, with remnants of its navigators and traders from centuries ago. Just walk the streets of Porto and you can view elegant churches, colored buildings and restaurants that keep their decoration as if we are living in the past!

Other interesting facts about Porto is that this city is well-known in England! Many English families come to live and work. This migration has made the city of Porto famous and its temper more similar to Central Europe than the Mediterranean. If you are thinking to visit this place you will see art, amazing buildings and people who appreciate the simplicity and calmness of life.

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How to get there? Porto has its own international airport, so there are no excuses about difficulty to get there! It is possible to enter Portugal by the international airport of Lisbon and take trains and buses North to visit the city. If you are already in a nearby town you can rent a car or buy a bus ticket for an affordable price.

What to do? One day is probably not enough to get the full experience of Porto, because of all the exciting attractions! Do you love art and live classic music? Visit the city museums. The House of Music is just one example! Other options point to a religious tour, or a calm day walking on its bridges, parks and plazas and/or a romantic experience by the Douro’s bank. You can even visit the Lello and Brother bookstore where J.K Rowling (author of Harry Potter) wrote parts of her famous book in napkins!

There are many centenary churches in Porto, you can pick up one or make a plan where you can visit all of them, it is possible! San Francisco’s, Santa Clara’s, Clerics’ Tower and Our Lady of Mount Carmel are few examples. Be sure to visit Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church where there is an amazing belvedere for you to see the whole city!

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church is also known as the Se Cathedral of Porto

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From Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church you can view old factories that are still working!

If you like to visit parks and piazzas you can go to Serralves, Chrystal Palace, or just sit in one of the many squares spread over the streets, connecting the main attractions. The Chrystal Palace is close to the Douro River where you can view and take pictures of amazing statues, peacocks, belvederes, gardens and do enjoy hicking!

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Beautiful statues

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One of the belvederes of Chrystal Palace

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Inside of Chrystal Palace, a moment to rest.

Unless you use all -or almost all- of the stairs that connect the upper part of the city with the Douro River you cannot say that you visited Porto. Here follows a warning: they are huge and sometimes even risky due to its inclination, but they hold secret wonderful views and some surprises from locals.

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A little part of one of them, there are six more stairs!

Now you are by the riverfront. Here you can find the St. Luis I Bridge, cozy restaurants, small trade of handcraft, and another city! That’s right, Gaia is just across the bridge and it is known by its amazing wines.

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Beautfiful and handmade by locals!

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In one bank of Douro River

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In the other bank, in Gaia, just across the river

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A romantic date by the Douro River

Why not to finish your tour and go back to your hotel in a vintage transport?

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The ticket is so cheap that you’ll take a ride almost to everywhere!

Remember that Porto is a guardian of the history of Portugal. Its streets keep classical buildings and what I’ve told you is not even the half of what you can do there! So, have fun and bring comfortable shoes!

Written By Clarissa Mesquita, from Paraíba, Brazil. This lovely lady is addicted to TV shows and movies, and enjoys fitness, fun and photography. She also loves pets and participates in an NGO to save homeless animals. Clarissa graduated with a degree in Social Communication from the Federal University of Paraíba, Brazil, and is amazed with her new yellow brick road!

A Day in Greenwich

Going Back to Vintage.

A Day in Greenwich

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Source: Clarissa Mesquita 

Greenwich is a beautiful neighborhood of London just next to the Thames River. Despite not known as a part of London itself, Greenwich has its own attractions for a day long excursion from London Town! It’s unique atmosphere makes you feel lost somewhere between past and present – all because of its classical buildings and vintage decorations.

Meridian of Greenwich, Royal Observatory, University Cutty Stark, Naval Museum, Museum of the fans, Open and Public artistic presentations, a walk at the park – there are so many attractions to keep you busy! What to do and where to go first is the question?! Here’s the must know for a magical experience in Greenwich.

How to get there? You can get to Greenwich through London’s four options: a short cruise, bus, train, or even on foot via internal bridges bridges. London public transport is probably the most cost effective, but if you want to spend some money for wonderful view of theThames River pick up a city cruise!

What to do? Choose from our list of interesting attractions, you won’t be disappointed!

1. The Cutty Stark is one of the most famous ships in the world! This ship was used for tea transportation at a time when she was the fastest and greatest. After a restoration, this ship became a tourist attraction and your waterway into the old world.

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Cutty Stark

Source: Clarissa Mesquita

2. The Queen’s House showcases a world collection of paintings for the artist lovers. For the scientists the Royal Observatory of Greenwich, the only Conservatorium in London and the largest refracting telescope in United Kingdom. You might also fancy the National Maritime Museum because it is probably the only place where you can find true stories about sea, love, and pirates.

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In the NMM. These statues were at edge of many prows

Source: Clarissa Mesquita

3. When you get hungry and don’t mind a crowd, Greenwich Market  serves delicious cupcakes, fish and fries. Any why not shop for authentic vintage clothes while you’re at it!

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The Greenwich Market is full of surprises!

Source: Clarissa Mesquita

4. If you need to rest there is no better place than Greenwich University, one of the best for teaching excellence. There you can join a music festival, visit the University itself and/or lie on the grass and enjoy this beautiful day!

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Inside the Greenwich University

Source: Clarissa Mesquita)

5. It is impossible to talk about Greenwich and not mention the Fan Museum – history, charm and beauty all wrapped in one. It is also well known for its traditional British Tea with cakes and candies to satiate the sweet tooth! Note: you can buy a ticket and go to the museum in any opening hours, but to taste the tea you will need a previous reservation.

 

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Finish the day in a classy stile In the Fan Museum

Source: Clarissa Mesquita

Before you go back home remember to sit next to the Thames and enjoy the view!  Greenwich is full of open festivals in gastronomic, music or art, so prepare a tour guide and don’t forget to include this charm neighborhood in you activities list!

Written By Clarissa Mesquita, from Paraíba, Brazil. This lovely lady is addicted to TV shows and movies, and enjoys fitness, fun and photography. She also loves pets and participates in an NGO to save homeless animals. Clarissa graduated with a degree in Social Communication from the Federal University of Paraíba, Brazil, and is amazed with her new yellow brick road!

 

 

 

 

 

Caballero Canyon

Hiking spots are something local Angelinos are in constant search of. When we aren’t talking about what’s the best omakase sushi spot or where can one get the illest collectable Nikes, we are talking about where the next best place is to hike. And it has to be the perfect match. This is our criteria for what makes a worthwhile hike:

  1. Fat/calorie burning trail
  2. A gorgeous view
  3. Plants/vegetation
  4. Dog friendly
  5. Butt lifting inclines
  6. More than 2 miles
  7. A loop is always a plus

The hidden gem in the heart of the San Fernando Valley is located in the the hills of Tarzana – a hiking trail called Caballero Canyon. In order to get there you must go south on Reseda and once you start passing gated communities, and country clubs you know you are on the right path. But don’t let your way up fool you about what the trail is like. The spoils of modern life are not present here, other than the houses below you! This is the valley’s best kept secret, which I guess I just let out.

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The actual trail takes about two to three miles to get to the top of the mountain. You know you’ve made it once you hit the electrical poles. You have the option of going even further, but the main trail is exhausting enough. It is all uphill! You are literally hiking up a mountain with trees and shrubbery hugging a dirt trail.  There will be points in this hike up where you will want to turn back, most likely around the halfway mark, but that is when you need to pull through. Nothing is more satisfying than making it to the mountain top as the breeze hits your skin and you take in the amazing view. You are able to see the vast sky looking down on the valley, hearing nothing, but the wind passing through your ears. It is a view that is completely worth the heart wrenching, butt lifting and quadriceps tightening work out that you put in to make it there.

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After you absorb the view and its beauty you have the option to go down the exact way you came, which means it is now going to be a very steep downhill trail. If you do choose this route, don’t be afraid to fall or get dirty. Most likely your tush will hit the ground at some point no matter how cautious you are so just get back up and keep moving. If you choose the other route to get down it is a 5 mile flat trail back. Some people like to take the longer trail because it leads to other mountain areas, such as Topanga state park. You can also take time to catch your breath and converse with your walking partner. Because the terrain is flat, it also makes for a good run!

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The mountain is bike and dog friendly, though our furry friends must be on a leash. Many people enjoy riding their bikes on these trails because they stretch far and there are many inclines to overcome.  Caballero Canyon is not only one of the most tranquil places to hike but it’s no walk in the park which makes it a great workout. It is challenging, centering, and gorgeous – all in one!

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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