Archive for June, 2010

More of Manhattan

After day one of our return trip (slash semi-vacation) in New York, I already felt like I was back in the swing of things, living the Big Apple life. 


I had Healthy Korner lunches on the go…


Lemonade flavored VitaminWater Zero, PowerFu salad sandwich, apple.


Then I squeezed in a few million bridesmaid-related errands…the most important being a haircut 🙂


It had been a while, and I finally sucked it up and made the plunge.


Here I am at the rehearsal dinner after-party with my parents and short(er) hair.  Yes, my parents made the trip to NYC for Jess’ wedding too.  I know I have mentioned our college days in previous posts, but in fact, Jess and I go back way further than that…

I met her in 7th grade (at the peak of my awkward years) and she had me at “hello.”

Elise & JessicaElise & Jess Halloween

(It took me a while to blossom if you’re wondering why I look like a 10 year old boy)

Elise & Lauren & Jess 8th GradeElise & Jess - Stanley

After only 2 years of junior high together, we had already built a friendship strong enough to last a lifetime.

Even though our high school experiences were a bit different (she was a cheerleader, I was a jock)…

Alene,Elise,Jess Parade

None of that mattered once we went to college…

Elise & Jess Greek 2

(Don’t even get me started on my pixie hair cut)

Elise & Jess 80's

We were a power couple in our own minds.  We lived together we had our lives taped together we shared everything from our wardrobe to our deepest secrets, and then we graduated…


And she moved to New York…


And then I moved to New York…

This is when the parallel nature of our lives really takes off:  we both lived on the Upper West Side (she still does), we are both vegan, and we are both engaged to men named Kyle.  Creepy?  Or destiny?  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  In addition to our ability to finish each other’s sentences, we often experience the same things on the same days.  Emotionally, physically, and psychologically, we have so much in common, I’m just waiting for the day when we find out we were twins separated at birth.  I swear we are the same person – at times I feel like I’m talking to myself.  That kind of closeness is hard to find.  But before I get all choked up (again), let me just say one thing:


I’m so proud of her. 

Wedding post to come…


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NY sizzle

Well, it’s safe to say my feelings about New York haven’t changed much.  Humidity is not my friend. 


Aretha Franklin?  Nope, that fro is ALL mine.  God bless the inventor of the flat iron. 

Our red-eye flight was as delightful as you’d expect any red-eye flight to be.  Luckily the only thing on the agenda for the day was a bridal shower for Jess.  In other words, I was in store for a day’s worth of boozing…which hardly helped the delirium that I was battling after 3 hours of interrupted shut eye.


We couldn’t check into our hotel when we arrived (7 am), so we wandered through Central Park…in jeans…in 90 degree heat…with swamp-like humidity. 

I think this goes without saying but: IT. WAS. MISERABLE.

I have no real recollection of the first part of the day, but at 4 pm I headed to Jess’ wedding shower at Sarabeth’s on the Upper West Side.


I started with Spiced Plum iced tea.


This was beyond refreshing in the summer heat.  I wanted to pour it over my entire body.  It tasted good too – didn’t even need sweetener.


Here is our table of the bridesmaids and the bride.  For new readers, Jess (the bride) is my best girlfriend – practically my sister lover – and is the blonde to my right in the photo.  More on her later though…

The menu was prix fixe, and even though Jess is also vegan, there were not many items that were veg friendly to choose from.  Hmmm.


Here are each of our first courses (mine is the mixed salad).


The salad was meh.  Nothing too remarkable about it, considering the three ingredients in it were lettuce, tomatoes and olive oil.  In their semi-defense, I did ask them to nix the cheese, so maybe just MAYBE that could have been the star ingredient that turned it from inedible to incredible.  Alas, my cheese-less version was nothing to write home blog about.

I had higher hopes for the second course, though, which was a pasta dish full of yummy things.  Again, I said to hold the cheese


On what planet is this dairy free?

This plate alone would have admitted me into the hospital.  As for Jess, well, call me crazy, but I don’t know a single vegan (or not?) bride that would eat that the day before her wedding.  Hideous. 

We both sent ours back after nicely re-emphasizing the dairy free nature of our orders.  They were very accommodating and not at all rude, but the only other choice was this open faced tuna sandwich.


I picked around the tuna portion, and managed to salvage the side salad, the top piece of toasted bread and the balsamic tomatoes on the side.  And let me tell you, those balsamic tomatoes were actually really impressive!


Still, this was not an acceptable veg option, and although I find it ridiculous that a New York restaurant such as Sarabeth’s couldn’t put together a legitimate dish in the kitchen for me and Jess, I wasn’t about to raise hell because the day wasn’t about me or the food – it was about Jessica. 


The dessert options were the above (crème brulee, chocolate pudding, and a cookie platter), of which I ate the strawberry garnishes. 

Prom pose with my one-and-only (I have so many of this identical shot from our sorority days it’s a bit sick).


After Jess opened her presents, I met up with Kyle in midtown for dinner #2 (my real dinner) and drinks with his former work colleagues.  I hobbled my way home in my stilettos and vowed to never again wear 4 inch heels for longer than 8 hours (until the wedding on Saturday that is…).  My pain was great, but we still made it to Peacefood for a late night snack 🙂


Quinoa salad.


Chickpea fries.


Iced coffee and soy milk.

The perfect night cap.  You didn’t think I’d go back to NYC and not hit up Peacefood did you??

Question: What’s the worst dining option you’ve had to order when you are eating with a group?  I know I have mentioned previous sad salad kinds of days before…I wish restaurants would learn!

Stay tuned for the rest of my NY trip…

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Oh hey, I know I said my blogging schedule would be jacked up with this NYC trip, but I guess I lied.  Thanks to Virgin’s power outlets I was able to use my computer for longer than 35 minutes (no lie, that’s seriously how long my laptop lasts sans power cord).  Anyways, you can thank Richard Branson for this (semi) timely post.

Wednesday started with an anxiety ridden soccer game, followed by a fruity celebration.


‘Twas nearly patriotic.  Red, white yellow and blue.  Sorry Landon Donovan, next game day I’ll get my act together.


The fruit didn’t hold me over long though, so I supplemented it with a raspberry greek yogurt and an apple

FYI, the pink Chobani is no longer the plain flavor.  Now that Chobani has added raspberry to their line-up, the plain is in a blue container and the raspberry and pomegranate are sharing various shades of pink.  Tricky tricky.


For lunch I discovered what is sure to be my next obsession: avocado toast.

It was so good, I had another slice immediately after.


This time with a fatty slice of bread (same drool-worthy bread as the other night). 


A touch of hummus on top would have made this even better, but for some inexplicable reason, there wasn’t any in the house.  Criminal, I know.

After lunch, I soaked up some rays in the backyard and then set to work on more wedding stuff…that is, until Mia decided to position herself across everything we were working on.


Well played kitty, well played.


She’s just too cute to push aside.  Mission accomplished.

In the afternoon, my middle sister came over and we played until dinner time.  And since the whole family was back in town, it meant one thing:



TJs hand-made corn tortillas


The fixins’ (yes, we still use the same bowls from our childhood)


The beans magical fruit


A faux cheese blend. 

Here’s a sad stat: ALL THREE of us siblings don’t tolerate dairy :(  What happened to us in utero will forever remain a mystery…but unfortunately, we are all cursed by the dairy monster (thanks parents?). 


Wah Wah Wah.

But before you go feeling too sorry for us, check out this new kind of dairy free queso that my sis picked up at Trader Joe’s for us to try out. 


Soy-Sation is a one of the better cheese alternatives I’ve tried.  It melts, too.


Pretty decent stats, although the list of ingreds is a tad longer than I’d like…but then again, it IS a fake cheese, so it’s not like I expected anything very pure.

My mom fried the corn tortillas while the rest of us got to chopping the toppings.


Bubble bubble toil and trouble.

Then it was assembly time.


I am a pro when it comes to taco stuffing.  I always ALWAYS pack in more than I know will fit.


My refried bean base acted as the glue, holding everything else in place.


And as usual, I opted for un-fried corn tortillas because my stomach isn’t very tolerant of fried foods and I was also about to board a flight across the country.  Trust, this was more of a gift to my neighbs than anything else.

After dinner, Kyle and I headed to SFO for our red-eye flight to NYC.  The idea of being back in Manhattan is so crazy!  It feels weird.  I am all giddy.  This trip will be very different because we are no longer residents, dealing with the hassles of living in the city, and working, and commuting, and all that sh!z.  This time we are visitors, with no agenda, and the benefit of familiarity.  Should be SO much FUN. 

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Today was a full day.  A wedding prep extravaganza kind of a day. 

Items now crossed off the to-do list:

  • meeting with our pastor (for pre-marriage classes)
  • invitation finalizing & printing
  • (more) ring shopping (we finally got our wedding bands!)
  • hair appointment-ing (no clue what I’m going to do with the mop I am rocking right now, but hopefully she’s got some ideas)
  • closing my solo bank account (joint bank accounts, what, WHAT!)
  • laundry
  • gym time
  • re-packing for yet another trip (back to New York this time!)

That was thrilling for you to read about, I’m sure.


It all started with the good stuff.  Berries and greek yog.  I’m going through pounds and pounds of fresh fruit this summa, and I lurrrve it. 

I snappled (snack + apple) my way ‘til noon.

For lunch I had a salad beast.


Red was the theme, as you can see by the kidney beans, tomatoes, and dried cranz.  Also buried beneath the carrots was home grown lettuce.  Yup, home grown.  Have you met my mom’s garden yet? 

I know I showed some of her goods a while ago when I was posting on her composting, but since the fruit of her labor (pun intended) is now real, here’s a quick peek.


Zucchini, oregano, lemon thyme, tomatoes, chives, mint, parsley, romaine lettuce, mixed lettuce, strawberries, and SO much more.  I can’t wait until the day when I can test my green thumb…until then, my mom’s garden is like my personal CSA.


Romaine.  Spring greens.  Strawberries. [They’ve already grown to double the size seen here since taking this photo]


You know you’re living the good life when you are picking your lunch straight from the vine.


After my fiber baby was birthed (ew?), it was time for dessert.

Kyle and I shared a Wow Baking Co. cookie for dessert (I use the word “shared” very loosely since Kyle had 99% of the cookie).


He is a peanut butter fiend, though, so it was only appropriate that the master be the official taste-tester of the peanut butter cookie.


Goodness peanut buttery gracious.  One bite was all I needed to feel like I was indulging.  Kyle gave it 5 stars (though his rating system is unknown even to me, I think this is a good mark).

After lunch we got down to business.  My exercise has been infrequent and unmotivated to say the least, and I’ve been using our traveling schedule as an excuse.  However, now that we are back in the Bay Area for a few days, there is no reason why work outs should be skipped.  Given my waning fitness status, who do you think I turned to?  The one and only, Jillian Michaels.

I was sweating like a Mexican soccer fan (World Cup reference anyone?).  No worries, they made it to the next round.  Barely.


I was brought back to life thanks to a Guava Goddess Kombucha, and then it was time to get crackin’ on dinner. 


Chop chop chop.


Boil boil boil.


Squash + zucch + bell pepps + brocc + sesame oil =


Sizzle sizzle sizzle.


All together now…


So simple, and yet, so tasty.  Summer veggies at their finest if I do say so myself. 

But let’s not forget about the side dishes…


I don’t know if it’s possible to have a meal without bread.  Last night’s loaf was gone before the sunset, so this time we wised up and got a fatty loaf.


Obviously I did my fair share of damage on this one as well.  Hummus may run through my veins, but it’s the carbs that I live for. 


In addition to the veg/pasta and bread duo, I decided to make a little somethin’ somethin’ extra on the side.  You see, my family had a Caesar salad, and since I don’t do dairy (and didn’t want to be behind in the number of courses), I sliced some tomatoes for my own side salad.


I topped the tomatoes with the above sample I received from Bragg’s.  Since all our belongings (including kitchen staples) are in storage until we move into our new apartment, I’ve been S.O.L. in terms of having my usual cooking goodies on hand.  

Good thing my girl K hooked it up and told me about these free samples.  Patricia Bragg has no idea how much of a hold her liquid aminos have over me.  I’m a lifetime user for sure.  And for all of you who want to know what Bragg’s liquid aminos taste like…you MUST try it.  It’s hard to describe since it’s similar to soy sauce, but not really.  Basically, it tastes like liquid aminos.  Sorry for the ridiculously unhelpful description.  But it’s good, trust me.  I also have Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and it’s another winner.


I went back for seconds, and by the time I was done, the zucchini and squash must have expanded to ten times their original size because I felt like I was about to birth twins.  Sexy, huh.

My blogging may be spotty for the next few days as I am in NYC for a friend’s wedding.  Lots of reuniting with friends, restaurants, and bars on the agenda.


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Sunday was an absolutely GORGEOUS day in the Bay.  I actually took this picture Saturday night when Kyle and I decided to take a stroll down memory lane (through Crissy Field).  For new readers, it’s where Kyle proposed to me a year ago.  It’s now two months until our wedding and I still feel as giddy as I did the day he popped the question. 


Anyways, back to Sunday morning…

Kyle and I woke up bright and early, said goodbye to the Marina, and headed to the East Bay to spend Father’s Day with my fam. 


Hello cable cars.


We stopped on the way home for some caffeine, but don’t worry, we were home in time for the start of the Brazil game.

For brunch, I went bloob crazy.


Got me some antioxidants.

Course one was gobbled down by the handful – no utensils needed thankyouverymuch.


For course deux the blueberries were piled atop a strawberry Chobani greek yogurt.  Course numero tres was apples

After feasting my heart out and watching Brazil work their magic, we decided to play with the pups.


And somebody had her first dip in the pool…


Klutzy Kona kept dropping her ball in the pool…


…then reaching her head as far as she could to get it…


…but she hasn’t quite mastered her balance yet.


One nose length too far, and in she went!

Luckily we were all watching the entire thing unfold and quickly helped her find the steps laughed at her learning to doggy paddle.


Milo (the German Shepherd) was on the side lines the entire time, watch dog that he is.  Such a protector!


Once the pool excitement wore off, I set up shop on a lounge chair with The Help and a Trilogy Kobucha

After my Vitamin D was in check, my sis, Kyle and I all went to work out (at my parents’ country club fitness center).  What was weird was how foreign it felt to be at a gym.  I hadn’t been on an elliptical since quitting my NYSC membership months ago!  Imagine that.  I suppose that’s one of the main reasons that California is so gosh darn attractive.  Who needs a gym membership when you can run outside 360 days of the year [for free]!


In honor of father’s day, my sis and I decided to BBQ dinner for our pops.  So on our way home from the gym we swung by the grocery store for some summer essentials.  Rather than chew my own arm off (or worse, eat all the dinner ingreds before they made their way to the grill), I snacked on an Apple Pie PranaBar before starting the food prep.

Then, it was go time:




Salsa/marinade: fresh mango, avocado, tomatoes (because we forgot red onions), fresh cilantro (from mom’s garden)




Salad: spinach, avocado, strawberries, golden raisins, dried cranberries


Very reminiscent of this meal, no?


BBQ: Salmon & Sausage


The table was set for the perfect feast in celebration of DAD.

Here’s my (first) plate.


What’s wrong with the above picture?  Well, nothing in my opinion, but if you know me, or are a regular reader, you know that in the past few years I can count the number of times I have eaten fish on one hand.  I call myself vegan for the benefit of others really, because explaining my diet in detail is quite a lengthy discussion…maybe nobody cares, but I was hesitant to post this meal because, well frankly, it is (was) an anomaly.  But here’s the thing.  Lately, I’ve been kinda craving salmon.  I never stopped eating fish for any real reason (other than the fact that I didn’t want it).  I was already living a cow free/dairy free life for several years before deciding to go full on animal free, and it had more to do with how my GI tract reacted to non-fish meats than seafood.  Since I had no desire to eat seafood, I ended up not eating it, and thus the “vegan” title was born.  But my stomach has never had digestive trouble with fish (unless it’s cooked in butter, of course), and so, as any rational human would do, I decided that if I was craving it, I should eat it.  Simple as that.  I don’t believe in living by rules or labels or anything else that restricts your lifestyle (provided it isn’t illegal). 

And there you have it.  I ate the fish…and three slices of bread, two helpings of salad, and as much of the salsa topping as I could claim.


Some of the balsamic vinegar for my bread leaked onto the salad, but I already had another vinaigrette on it, so it didn’t really matter.


My sister made brownies for dessert, which were in no way dairy free, so clearly I passed on those.  However, my dad was nice enough to make us all decaf espresso shots, which I definitely DID participate in.


It was a fun day, and I’m so glad to be back on the West Coast where I can (finally) celebrate Father’s Day WITH my father. 

Picture 015

I love you dad 🙂

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The I-5



But then who didn’t already know that? 

Driving for miles and miles through nothingness with the crappiest rest-stops…


and doing it with a ridiculous hangover that rivals those from my college days…


well that’s just plain stupid.

Usually I plan ahead, hell, I’m the girl who brings 5 different snacks with me when I go shopping just so I’ll have options in case I do get hungry.  And yet, I was in such rare form after a night of heavy boozing, all that I had on hand as we set off on our 7 hour drive was a single apple, half a tub of hummus, and a grande soy misto.  Not good Elise, not good.


I managed to make a meal out of some gas station jumbo sourdough pretzels and the hummus (no pics), but after that I was suffering. 

Suddenly I remembered a gift bestowed on me the previous night [light bulb moment].


One Lucky Duck blonde macaroons


Talk about a 180 in food options!  I went from questionably dated packaged snacks to the finest raw desserts on the market.  Holy hell.  Alene, you saved the mother effing day with this gift!  Couldn’t have been more excited.

The trip was slow and long, and by the time we arrived in San Francisco, I just wanted to collapse into a heap on the floor.  And maybe get dinner, too.  As for the order of events, well, I could’ve gone either way (yes, I was that exhausted).

Unfortunately, we were at my sister’s apartment (without her) so raiding the fridge wasn’t a (polite) option, and thus, finding a restaurant quickly became the priority.

Fortunately, she lives in the Marina, so good restaurants are aplenty. 


While walking along Chestnut Street we came across Blue Barn.  I was instantly won over by the fact that they had organic AND local produce.  Check out their signage!


How cool that they have formed a CSA with Oak Hill Farm!  If I lived in SF I’d be all over this place. 

I was drooling over the menu within seconds of walking through the door.  What’s a hippie to do?


Go with the tried and true.


Falafel + salad = din ‘gasm

The bowl was humongous and in addition to the made-to-order falafel, it was filled with fresh organic greens, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, snap peas, and a Dijon mustard vinaigrette that was to die for.  On the side was a slice of sourdough – perfect for soaking up all the leftover dressing after I had eaten every last bite of the salad.


There’s no other way to say this, so please don’t dismiss my being concise for lack of emotion: BEST. FALAFEL. EVER.

Period.  End of sentence.


Fresh from the kitchen, it was warm, crispy on the outside, soft yet crunchy on the inside, and absolutely astounding in the flavor department.

Oh man, I’m getting all hot and bothered again just thinking about it.


Kyle got a flank steak sando and was raving about it too, but eyeing my salad out of the corner of his eye at the same time. 


As you can see, I needed no help in polishing it off on my own :)  I practically licked the sides to get every last bit. 

The rest of the night involved the couch and the tv.  Despite doing nothing all day, I was still ready to crash by 10 pm.  Who am I?!  27 going on 80 evidently.

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World Cafe

I mentioned it at the end of my last post, but for those who find my writing boring are here for the food porn, I’m proud to say we are now officially Santa Monica residents!  We won’t move in until August (due to our travel-intensive July), but it is nice to know that we are no longer homeless.

After signing our lease, we decided to explore the neighborhood…one thing led to another…next thing we knew we were on our second drinks at the World Cafe happy hour.  Not too shabby.


Did I mention we now live within blocks of this?  Suck it New York.


We were pretty certain the night would involve drinking, so we took the bus to the Promenade…then walked down Ocean Ave…


…along the beach…


…past the Santa Monica Boardwalk, and once we hit Ocean Park, we went one block East to Main street


World Cafe has a fabulous happy hour, plus it has inside, outside, and partially open dining areas.  Love it. 

5 pm?  Happy hour!


I started with chardonnay (I’m such a classy gal), while Kyle went with a Stella.  Check out that hefty pour they gave me?  That’s a serving that my (wino) G-ma can get behind! 


While getting our buzz on, we ordered some veggie spring rolls


A little later some friends joined us for dinner, and suddenly we were a party of nine.  Let me just say this: drinking for several hours before even ordering dinner can be dangerous.  To put it mildly, the hostess had her hands full with our drunk group. 

Their menu is pretty awesome with plenty of options for all and I had a hard time deciding between a few different meals.


I ended up going with the vegetarian plate, which had vegetable ratatouille, garlic spinach, black beans, and wild rice with grilled tomatoes on the side. 


I’m not sure I had ever tried ratatouille before (pretty sure I only knew what it was from the Disney movie), but now I know I’m quite a fan!  It was very tomato-y and the veggies were nice cooked perfectly (still a bit crunchy).  I ended up mixing the entire plate into a big ‘ol mess and digging in.  It was so much food (granted I was pre-occupied with my dranks, but still, I barely ate half the plate).  Poor performance on my part. 

After dinner we took the party on the road, and landed at a few steps away, at Rick’s Tavern

I can’t really tell you what or how much I drank over the next few hours.  That’s how I do.  What I can tell you is I woke up and found this pic on my camera.


Always a good night when it ends with cheap a$$ Mexican food. So it is written, so it shall be done.  Truth. 

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