Thursday, May 30, 2013

FOOD | vitaly

Beautiful entrance. The cafe has a very modern, loft-y feel to it. And lots of natural light always gets a thumbs up from me.

I'm always on the lookout for great cafes in the OC. Sometimes I wonder if it's too much to ask for place that provides a good atmosphere while serving a decent cup of coffee that costs less that $5?! I mean, come oooon... is Starbucks (are there tutorials out there that teach people how to order from Starbucks that I am not aware of?) and Coffee Bean really the best we can do??? But maybe thats our fault. Coffee culture in America has always been a { fast paced } one. When I was in Paris last October, I learned that the French always liked to end a meal with a small cup of coffee. I thought it was quite wonderful and just so intimate, seeing people bond over something that is so seemingly insignificant. I loved watching them share stories, reading on the daily news, or enjoying a nice smoke with a cup of espresso at hand. HA I sound creepy, but I swear I don't mean to be.

Anyways, I'm rambling. Let's get back to { Vitaly }, my new go-to spot for a good cup of caffè. They offer a modest selection of beverages to select from, and as a bonus you can also choose from either locally sourced beans or (and only for a couple cents more) their Italian imported blends. They also have indoor seating for the sun shy as well as an outdoor patio for people who want to soak up some vitamin D (dogs welcome by the way!!). I've only found this place yesterday and I can already say it fits almost all of the criteria I listed above (haven't been there enough to tell for sure). However, as much as it pains me to say it, only time will tell whether I'll be sticking to this place long term, as I fear that I'll soon be forced out by the hordes of teens and hipsters that frequent { The Camp }--to keep it safe, I think I'll keep to my "weekday mornings" and "after-lunch rushes" routine for now. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

FOOD | handsome coffee roasters

Urgh, I know, I can't shut up about this place. Every time I go out to the city I tell myself to quit sticking with the same old cafes and restaurants, but I can't help it, I love Handsome Coffee Roasters!!! They always serve a mean espresso + milk (choose from 3oz, 5oz or 10oz) and the atmosphere is great. If only I lived in Los Angeles--you can guarantee I would be there everyday.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

TRAVEL | the biker life

Jamie: Common Ground jacket // Tee - UO // Jeans - UO // Dr. Martens
Kelly: Sweater + jeans - Uniqlo // Muscle tank - H&M // Free Runs 3.0

Despite walking into the bike rental store thinking "I got this!", it turns out I am horribly rusty at this biking game--it could be that the bike handles were too far apart from what I'm used to or that my feet just barely reached the pedals--either way, the whole experience was rather embarrassing. Not to say it wasn't fun though. I think today was my favorite day since we've been here! The original plan was to walk Stanley Park, but after finding out how large the park actually was (8.8 km or 5.5 miles), I then came up with the new plan: bikes!

Choosing a bike rental shop was easy enough. Yelp was incredibly helpful and we ended up going to { Spoke Bike Rentals } since I read that they offered good bikes at reasonable rates. Our 2+ hour ride came out to $30~ (and we got an additional discount from our hostel).

The trail itself was easy enough to bike on (Kelly and I were nervous at first since we haven't touched a bicycle since 2010). There were a lot of scenic spots for your photographing pleasure, as well as parks and wide open spaces for when you need a break. At one point Kelly and I took a wrong turn and ended up riding waaaaaay south of where we intended to go--this resulted 15 minute delay and extra sore muscles. Can't complain though, we actually ended up riding through English Bay (Beach), a location I had actually planned for us to visit tomorrow. Two birds, one stone. Hooray.

Monday, May 20, 2013

FOOD | café medina

Nothing is more inviting after walking around the city on a cold rainy morning than delicious, piping hot food. Since we're staying downtown, all the good eats and the best stores is only a short walk away. { Café Medina } was the first restaurant I bookmarked on yelp when I was planning my trip to Vancouver--after reading all the raving reviews I couldn't wait to make a visit. Breakfast was a Tagine for me ( 2 poached eggs, merguez sausage, and sundried black olives swimming in a spicy tomato stew). Kelly had the Paella (1 baked egg, curried orzo, Hungarian chorizo, zucchini, red pepper, roasted corn, grano padano, watercress, tomatoes, and avocado)The skinny? Food was good and interior was comfortable. Unfortunately I got tired of my Tagine rather quickly since I'm not the biggest fan of tomatoes--I only recommend it for hardcore tomato lovers. Kelly's paella on the other hand was amazing. I had to keep myself from reaching over for a bite of her dish for every one of mine.

Tips:001_Come early. We waited 45 mins (arrived at 11am on a Friday morning).
002_Maybe hold off on the waffle. $3+ for a not-so-fresh piece of belgium waffle smaller than the size of my palm was kind of off putting.
003_Lavendar latte was pretty tasty

TRAVEL | pender + granville

Sunday, May 19, 2013

SHOPS | mohawk general store

I love Mohawk General Store. This place is possibly one of the best shops to visit if you're looking for not-so-everyday gifts. They also carry a lot of beautiful local and foreign designer items like Black Crane, Clare Vivier, Rachel Comey, Repetto, A.P.C and Comme des Garcon to name a few. No doubt that I would walk in and out with the bag full of goodies every time if I had the $$$. More than once have I looked longingly at an item only to find that it costs $300+ (It's not quite written in the stars just yet, but I'll be back!)!!! Anyways, those hefty price tags never stop me from dropping by for a quick peek every once in a while. The store also constantly rearranges their wares, so it never looks the same twice, which I find very refreshing--almost reminds me of pop-ups.

Friday, May 17, 2013

PERSONAL | los angeles outing

Spring has gone and summer is here! For the past several weeks, we from the west coast have been getting a small taste of what this summer has to offer. To be honest, I'm not a fan of hot weather--my skin disagrees with it, my hair disagrees with it, and frankly, my wardrobe disagrees with it as well (pants, boots, scarves all the way!). This in turn makes me a total oddball amongst most Californians, for I rather stay in during the summer while others find any excuse to soak up some sun.

However, the best thing about this summer is that my sister, { Kelly }, has finally moved home and started her summer vacation. Having stuck in a dorm room for the last 9 months, Kelly really needed to get out there and live a little. Which is why { Moises } and I planned a full LA trip--complete with good eats!

First stop was { Proof Bakery }. I've had this place bookmarked for months now but never found a good time to go. This time I was determined to make it there to try their popular chocolate croissants. However, by the time we arrived (11am), the bakery had already sold out. I wasn't too surprised since it's common knowledge that pastries sell out--FAST but still, I was extremely disappointed. In the end I settled for a blackberry tart. It was delicious--it almost made up for my depressing croissant-less morning.


Next door was the lovely { Individual Medley Store } (which I've also been meaning to visit). Such a great place to shop for gifts. They also had a rad decorative motorcycle parked right up in front.

After exploring Silverlake a bit we swung by { Forage }. If you like organic, sustainable, delicious food, Forage is the place for you. I always pass by this place whenever I'm in Silverlake but never went in for lunch. I'm so glad we decided to try it out this time. Both Kelly and Moises ordered their pork belly sandwiches. I wasn't really feeling sandwiches that day so I got their protein + 2 sides option. Tri-tip steak with a side of barely, rice, kale, and roasted tomatoes, and roasted carrots, cauliflower and harissa. Hands down, best lunch I've had in a while. This place is totally going to make it to my  { LA favorites } list. I highly recommend it if you're in the Silverlake area. 

Also, I'll be flying off to Vancouver tomorrow night and staying for 5 days. Still not sure what I'll be up to but I figure I'll just wing it and take it easy for the first time. I always stress out way too much before a trip. I'll be bringing my laptop, so hopefully I'll be able to get some blogging done over there!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

TRAVEL | mapping out vancouver

View Vancouver in a larger map

Looks like I'll be taking a short trip to Vancouver with family in about a week. This is the most spontaneous trip I've ever booked/planned so I am a bit overwhelmed with the idea. My Aunt's place is all little too small to accommodate everyone, so { Kelly } and I will be staying at a Hostel located downtown. Best thing about that is that it seems like all the fun places to hangout is within walking distance of our hostel--yay! Too bad Kelly is only two months shy of turning 19 (legal drinking age in Vancouver).

On another note, how great is this embedded google map?? I feel all cool and tech-savvy. But in reality all I did was copypasta the HTML to the post.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

PERSONAL | costa mesa photo op

I finally upgraded my ancient macbook last month so I could download a trial version of Adobe Lightroom 4. I've been debating for months now on whether I needed the program or not--after being a loyal Photoshop user for the last 10 years the idea of learning how to use another editing program seemed daunting.

The biggest surprise was finding out that Lightroom's set up is completely different from photoshop/illustrator--it even took me a while to figure out how to open my files. But after much trial and error I have found that it is a wonderful program--a time saver and very easy to work with--and I honestly don't know how I had the patience to edit all my photos before! It was tedious work, editing one by one on photoshop--saturation, color, contrast, highlights, curves--you get the idea.

But editing old sample photos for practice got boring fast, so today { Moises } and I stopped by Costa Mesa so I could take some photos. The OC Mix Mart/The Lab is quite photogenic, so thankfully I got decent shots to work with.

Still practicing.

Monday, May 6, 2013

GUIDE | los angeles

If you know me personally or follow me on { Instagram } you know that I am always in Los Angeles. I've had several friends ask me where I like to hangout when in the city so I thought I'd put together a quick list of my favorites haunts, stores, and cafes.

This post is a collaborative effort between me and my partner in crime and fellow food enthusiast, Moises Martinez, who runs the blog { Gastro-Site } on blogger.