I’m Not An Alcoholic

latte

As I was thinking about what to write about next, I realized that my last post makes me sound like an alcoholic.  So, to clarify, I’ve made a list of other beverages I thoroughly and regularly enjoy.  As a side note, I compiled this list at a cozy little cafe located within the Tom’s shoe store on Abbot Kinney.  I love love love this place!  It has a very international travel vibe with plenty of nooks to get comfy in.  Free wi-fi, great people watching and inadvertent outfit ideas (which ultimately distracts me from writing), yummy coffee and a really good muti-grain muffin.  Caveat: It’s near impossible to walk out without a new pair of shoes.

In addition to wine, these liquids are frequently in my body:

Coffee in all varieties — cafe au lait, latte, iced coffee… always in rotation

Root beer — the neatest soda flavor ever (just discovered Zevia’s ginger root beer and it’s pretty darn good for sugarfree soda)

Matcha green tea — the velvety chalkiness of matcha is addictive

PG Tips or Lipton with milk because I grew up drinking tea with milk.  It’s in my blood!

Boba tea — I cannot resist those big balls of tapioca making their journey up a jumbo straw

Freshly squeezed OJ — yes, I drink it without the champagne, too

Overpriced pressed juices in most flavors — gone in under a minute but oh so good

UPDATE!

LeZinque is also a lovely and cozy cafe/restaurant on Abbot Kinney & Washington in Venice.  Wi-fi, nooks, natural light galore, distracting people watching, snacks, caffeine, and happy hour specials (not that I’m concerned with that at all).  One annoying thing is all the tables are elevated so it’s hard to bring Miss Luna unless she’s sleeping in her stroller.

One day I’ll get around to writing up my favorite cozy cafes in L.A., not just in Venice!

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Grocery Store Comfort

My mom has been in town for a few weeks.  She’s very Indian and very nostalgic.  She came to America in 73′ when she was 28 years old.  She definitely left a huge part of her heart in India.  Since my mom loves a good Indian grocery store (as do I — I have a HUGE love of grocery stores, especially of the ethnic variety), I decided to take her to India Sweets & Spices in Los Feliz, one of the biggest Indian grocery stores in SOCAL.  We walk in and there’s that smell — of food, spices, incense, and a miscellaneous scent that is not exactly pleasant, but not entirely offensive.  There’s something deeply comforting about it all, especially doing this with my mom.  She’s in her element and commands the aisles.  Plus, she’s a huge haggler and feels like she can get away with it in a setting like this.  For example, she picks up two heads of cauliflower at $1.50 each, but when we get to the register they ring up at $1.50 per pound.  This is shocking and unacceptable to my mom.  She repeats the information as if he’ll reduce the price and give her a special deal. He doesn’t give in and neither does she, even though I say to just buy it because…well, just because.  Nope, she makes him take if off the bill.  I enjoy watching my mom do her thing, even though it used to bother me.  After buying a few things that did meet her standard, we decided to eat lunch in the store’s restaurant.  There is zero ambiance, but again, something comforting in the straightforwardness of it all. Maybe it’s because I’ve been to so many of these types of restaurants growing up.  Order at the counter and then go sit at the most basic of tables and chairs.  This particular establishment serves both North and South Indian food, it’s super cheap and some dishes were much tastier than others.  My fave was the papdi chat, which is basically fried crispy bread topped with a variety of chutneys, chickpeas, yogurt, and cilantro.  It’s cold, saucy, spicy, sweet, crunchy, and refreshing.  I would definitely recommend it if you’re on that side of town.  Or if it’s a holiday like President’s Day when the the drive from somewhere like Westchester (no, not in New York but close to LAX) to Los Feliz is only about an invigorating and atypical, done-before-you-know-it 20 minutes.  We ate for about 13 bucks and were stuffed.

My favorite part of the trip is the paan, a betel nut leaf stuffed with rose petal preserves, candy coated fennel seeds, and other unknown (by me) spices. It’s like an after dinner mint, but heartier and chewier. It also helps with digestion, which is what I tell myself when I feel guilty for all the sticky sweet sugaryness of it.  It’s hard to find so when I see it I get very excited and the salivating begins. Ernie has a strong dislike for it and thinks it tastes like perfume.  It’s comforting because it takes me back to roadside paan stands in India, but most of all it reminds me of my dad.  He’s always loved paan and even used it make it at home from his betel nut vine.  At the end of the day I realized that I love having a 2nd culture to fall back on.  It’s like having another layer of comfort in this big world.

Snack Freely

Me and football don’t really go together. I tried to make it work for years and years until I finally just accepted that I don’t give a shit. Doesn’t mean I can’t get into a good game, but I’ll be just fiiine if I miss it.  The only reason I look forward to watching games is if it’s in party-like gathering — an excuse to socialize, drink, and chow down. I remember back in college my ex wanted to watch the Super Bowl at his friend’s house (I barely hung out with these people), while I wanted to watch it with MY friends.  He won and I was dreading it.  One of my arguments for not wanting to go is that I wouldn’t be able to snack at will, or snack freely, as I coined it during the heavy discussion of where to go.  Being at a party with people you do not know or feel comfortable around makes the chips harder to grab and the dips harder to dive into. I don’t want to be judged when going for my 5th pig in a blanket.  I don’t want to squeeze in on the periphery of some conversation and feel obligated to chit chat when all I want to do is reach over and dip a chip.  I want to go to a place where I can double dip and not worry about people being disgusted because we’re snacking on the honor system.  Don’t DD even if you’re a little bit sick. Gross. I want to be cozy with my pals. I want to take my jacket off and stay for a while.  I want to snack free as a bird, flitting around a buffet of 7-layer dip, buffalo wings (double dipping wings isn’t acceptable — go ahead and place an extra dollop on your snack plate), and spinach artichoke dip.  I think of that one Super Bowl every year and how starved I was when we left (and drunk because I pretty much only had 3 chips).  Thankfully, this year I was able to snack freely in an easy-grab zone with a comfortable ratio of close friends to strangers.  The pictures below illustrate what I’m talking about, kinda.  Note:  I’m still wearing the brace/splint, but it didn’t stop me from stuffing my face.

Snacking uncomfortably

Snacking uncomfortably

Snacking freely

Snacking freely

Bottomless

I knew that would get your attention!  Now get your head out of that deep bowl.  Unless it’s the bowl of soup I’m about to rave about.  I love gettin’ cozy with some soup in the blistery days of winter here in LA-LA land.  I had this particular soup at a very cozy Italian resto called Sotto.  It’s rustic-y and bustling with beautiful people.  I had dinner there with a couple of girlfriends after work and, unbeknownst to me, I was pregnant at the time!  The girls and I had some bold red vino and shared a handful of dishes. While the plates of pasta we ordered were pretty delicious, the soup is what I have thought of on many occasions. It’s a velvety, smooth, and luxurious cauliflower delight.  That said, I was ecstatic when I found a recipe for it on Lamag.com!  I never thought of actually making it because it tastes like it would take days to make and/or a culinary degree under your belt… but, apparently, all you need is to be able to follow simple directions. And, it’s dairy-free!  I haven’t made it yet, but plan to do so very, very, very soon.

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