redefining wanderlust

a life blog by Bekka

Posts for EATS & DRINKS Category

SPOTLIGHT ON T-WE TEA : Interview with owner Chris Coccagna


T We Tea Interview

T-We Tea is a fun tea company based out of San Francisco, they’ve set up booths at Renegade Craft Fair, Patchwork, and even have a store font in the bay area. This is not your grandmother’s afternoon tea, and their loose leaf teas have whimsical and sometimes cheeky names like Grumpy Dinosaur a spearmint, peppermint vanilla bean tea or Scandalous Man Friend a Darjeeling tea with spearmint, clove and peppercorn. I reached out to the founder and owner of T-We Tea, Christopher Coccagna to find out more about this highly creative and delicious tea maker. My favorite is Chai Hard, it’s a blend of two black teas, spices, crushed coffee bean, and chili; it’s my late night kick in the pants.

Do you remember your first cup of tea?

Chris C: My first cups of tea in life started with my mother.  We had a peppermint patch in the backyard and part of our nightly ritual before bed was for me to pick peppermint leaves while she heated water and together we shared tea.  From those moments, tea has always held a really special place in my heart for community and warmth.

You hear of wine specialist, and Starbucks baristas are trained to be coffee specialist, but when did you decide to be a certified tea specialist and what is that like?

Chris C: I always knew that my life needed to be in the culinary arts and always loved cooking, eating, drinking, and creating unique experiences around food.  After college I did some soul searching while living in New Zealand and fell in love with the culture surrounding tea, and thought to myself “We need this back home.”  From then I pursued tea professionally and sought out the Specialty Tea Institute’s Certified Tea Specialist program.  I’m a regular old business administration bachelor’s degree from college, but to then focus my studies on something I am so passionate about was life changing.  I took what I learned about tea and reapplied it in the world of natural tea blending.  Most tea blends use flavoring additives, and I took a unique stance of zero flavorings in our teas but using real ingredients.

T We Tea and Whiskey

How long did the process of opening T-We Tea take? Do you remember where you were when you made the commitment to see your tea dream through?

Chris C: T-WE TEA started as a little doodle 2006 in a journal titled Renaissance man (my personal journal focused on career, art, and culinary pursuits).  Surrounding the words T-WE was written “Community” and “With no tea in him, a man is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.”  Those were my three guiding principles in setting everything up:  Truth, Beauty, and Community.  It took some time and preparation of everything but T-WE launched in Dec 2010 after an amazing sleepless month fueled by creative tea caffeine.

Was T-We Tea an online store, before an actual brick and motor location?

Chris C: Before even online and brick & mortar, T-WE began as a mobile traveling setup at artisan handmade markets.  We found our inspiration in artists and makers (since they create beauty in this world), so the fit was natural to be together in a selling event setting.  We started small then grew to markets outside of San Francisco, and you will now find us at bi-annual shows in SFO, LA, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Austin, Chicago, and Brooklyn.  So our company was completely mobile until we opened a more permanent store in San Francisco in Feb 2013.  We expanded that location in Feb 2014 to include a tea store with tea bar and in-store tea blending where we now manufacture everything by hand for our community to witness.

There is an obvious LGBT friendly spin on your teas. Has anyone ever loved an Earl Cray Cray and then condemned Bicurious George? I imagine your response is as silly as the tea names?

Chris C: T-WE is proudly gay owned and operated and we love to celebrate and support the community.  Being from San Francisco, I love how our company fits so easily into what is culturally San Franciscan (creative and sarcastic).   I love how our product can create a special moment between friends (Imagine giving your bestie Lesbi Friends or Scandalous ManFriend).  In the tea world, I have encountered a lot of tea smug when it comes to knowledge about tea and a lot of “I only drink …(insert fanciest tea name here)…. syndrome”.  I wanted to cut through the smug with some genuine sarcasm and whimsy to brighten this world and make tea a special moment in one’s day.

We have our subtle ways of handling a customer who doesn’t want to say SEXPOT tea, but the only formal complaint came from someone from Dallas (a member of the LGBT community, too!).  We actually created a tea blend for them in response called Precious Angel Kitten to subtly be more PG and say “Bless Your Heart.”  It has become one of our top sellers too.

T We Tea San Francisco

Speaking of tea names, have you taken a name suggestion yet? Your website encourages people to submit their idea. 

Chris C: Lesbi Friends (Apple jasmine oolong), Bad Bromance (hangover herbal tisane), Ghetto Fab (roasted green tea with cacao), and a couple others have come from our customers.  We have accumulated quite the list and pair the name with the best flavor profile in a tea.  Most of the other tea names come from common conversation that you will hear between team T-WE.  You would be amazed how many things we say daily that would make an excellent tea name.  The key is not to think too hard and maybe add bourbon.

Personally I’m a lazy brewer, I don’t time my steep or check the temperature. Are there cardinal tea rules one should never break?

Chris C: Water temperature is pretty crucial in a good cup of tea.  Too hot (like for green tea) or too cool (like for black tea) will definitely affect your end cup.  My tricks are sight and smell.  I always follow the color of the brew and I kind of know when my cup is done because it hits my favorite color for that tea.  I also use my nose and follow the scent, you can kind of tell if it is ready by the fragrance (too soft or too strong).

In October you’re hosting a DIY Tea Blending Class at Workshop in San Francisco. What will that be like? Are people going to learn how to break open their existing tea bags and mix different flavors, or save dried rose petals to kick up their afternoon cup?

Chris C: DIY Tea Blending Class happens monthly in the T-WE TEA store and it is one of my favorite creative classes I teach.  In the class we learn all about tea (tea types, how it’s made, etc), then I teach attendees how to properly cup and taste teas and how subtle nuances will affect a tea blend, then I let them go nuts with all the T-WE ingredients to try their hand at their very own tea blend.

Lastly, what tea ritual do you like better, Japanese Tea House or English Afternoon Tea? 

Chris C: I prefer to be a part of the sacred ritual in an Asian inspired tea ceremony, but who doesn’t love to gorge themselves on scones and sweet treats?  I am morally opposed to loud hats though (but that is just for myself as I would never impose a hat restriction on others).

Even if you are not a tea drinker you should still visit T-We Tea website just to see all the fun names and blends. Pass it along to your favorite tea drinking friend or buy a box of loose leaf tea for yourself and begin your tea journey. Teas range from $10- $15 dollars but are extremely delicious. Tell me your favorite type of tea and if you try and T-We teas.

Basically until next time…. Blow the tea before sipping, burned tongues blow.

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MY NY EATS – SUNDAY

sarabethsi

In New York, I was clearly a pop culture tourist. Pointing out landmarks I’d seen in movies, television, documentaries, or mentioned in books. As I was in New York with two of my close gal pals, we of course wanted to capture the ‘Sex in the City’ memories. Sort of. More of the city than the sex, but one of those included visiting Sarabeth’s. A New York restaurant staple, which I’m not even sure is mentioned on Sex in the City.  But our friend assumed it was. Yet I know for a fact was mentioned several times on Gossip Girl, apparently it was a reason Serena couldn’t live anywhere else than the Upper East Side.

After 3 hours of karaoke and lots of frosty mugs of beer Saturday night, Sunday brunch was not only necessary for nourishment but recovery purposes as well. But like all trendy, popular, Manhattan restaurants there was a wait. We waited for a solid 30 minutes, before being seated. A mixture of locals and tourist, the waiting area poured outside. By the time we were seated, we had all reviewed the menu and knew exactly what we were going to order. Sarabeth’s has a mint blue interior and on the wall hangs portraits of old Hollywood movie stars like Audrey Hepburn and James Dean. Its décor very afternoon tea. As it was very busy the service was ok, nothing special. Considering half the table had a hangover, the fact we needed to get the waiters attention for our water and coffee to be refilled docked some points.

We ordered a pastry basket, since Sarabeth’s it known for their scones and preserves, and the basket was ok. I order tomato soup as a starter. The creamy tomato soup was the highlight of my meal, not too acidic and flavored well with simple spices. We also started off with a crab guacamole that was ok, but lacked that little something extra. For my main breakfast course I got the crab cake sandwich as I really wanted French fries, and it came out covered in a lemon dill tartar sauce. I scraped most of it off. The side salad that came with the meal was dripping in a lemon vinaigrette, I had one bite and ignored the rest.  French fries, good.

brunch at sarabeths new york

Looks can be deceiving 

The thing about places like Sarabeth’s, where the wait is forever, and the reputation precedes it. They don’t have to do anything special to be considered special anymore. Sure, at one point they probably did have the best brunch menu in New York but now the food is mediocre and overpriced. It’s not bad food. It’s not disgusting. It’s just ok. And in my personal opinion nothing is worse than being average, and mediocre. Except for their English muffin, its dense dry and the size of a hockey puck. It gets no love from me.

My advice for good eats while traveling is to go to places the locals eat. This is not surprising advice.  But most locals will not tell you where they go, they mention places they think you should go to eat. Places that are staples of the city. Those staples, in my experience loose a luster because everyone goes to them. They don’t need to try hard, because the rent is being paid by tourist.  Ask the locals the last place they went to dinner or brunch. Have they recently found a new café next to their favorite vintage shop? Look for restaurants that have been recently opened by new hungry chefs, not restaurants where the kitchen is being operated from afar. I really believe half of flavor comes from passion, and Sarabeth’s lacked any heart.

Though I guess when I came home and watched the episode where Blair uses the restaurant as a bargaining tool in Gossip Girl, I did smirk at the fact I had gone there. Can’t deny there exist a small part of fanny pack tourism in me.

blair walforf gossip girl you get what you want

I know Blair, and that is how I feel about food.

I just want to find the best places, where the flavor is equal to the price.  

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MY NY EATS – SATURDAY

I love the term foodie as it expresses a person who appreciates and loves food, but isn’t a formal food critic. My NY Eats were a big part of my weekend in New York, and trying new restaurants is a big part of any adventure for me. I hope you enjoy reading my recap of where I ate, and I give you a sense of the space and flavors. I didn’t take notes so it’s all from memory.

Our first stop on Saturday was Williamsburg. Wei explained Williamsburg is what Los Feliz is to Los Angeles. Which, for the reader unfamiliar with both; can then compare to the hip part of town where successful architects, musicians, artists, and other creative types reside who have moved far out of the starving stage of their craft.  We got brunch at an adorable rustic looking restaurant called Rabbit Hole. It was still fastened with its late 19th century character. Molded ceiling and narrow bar running down the side. Apparently the back outdoor portion of the restaurant is really nice, but we were starved and I just wanted to be seated. So we were right in front next to a large window facing the street. It made for some great lighting, and I was seated beneath a funny sign.

brunch in williamsburg

The brunch menu was creative and hip. A balanced selection of savory and sweet. One could easily be torn between, stuffed brioche French toast with strawberry mascarpone or salmon egg benedict on an herb biscuit. Since my friend ordered lemon ricotta pancakes and was willing to share a bite. I ordered the salmon benedict.  I’m a bit of benedict addict, or in a classy sense a connoisseur.  And the Rabbit Hole’s benedict easily made my top 3 benedicts of all time. It was a good hollandaise sauce, but what stood out the most was the fantastic biscuit the salmon and poached egg rested on. It had the texture of a drop biscuit but was incredibly light and buttery. It easily crumbled just enough to get a bite on your fork and melt in your mouth. I will dream of that salmon eggs benedict. Liz’s lemon pancakes zinged with zest, but were not tart. Sweet like a lemon cake. Surprisingly I don’t like lemon desserts, but I enjoy lemon pancakes. The service was also delightful, I ordered Orange Juice and a coffee to combat last night’s mule, and our waitress was really great at keeping the joe flowing.

salmon eggs benedict on biscuit

Fast forward through a day of sightseeing and bucket list accomplishments. We met up with Wei’s friend Chris, and Liz’s boyfriend Darren at Bryant Park. Darren’s birthday was the following day, so it was his choice for where we’d go for dinner. And not sure of what he wanted to eat, his only request was that he wanted a big frosty mug of beer. There are only two types of dining establishments that sell large frosty mugs of beer, and those are German restaurants and Japanese restaurants. Chris and Wei the actual New Yorkers, were racking their brains when Darren was making his mug request. After repeating it a third time, the light bulb above Wei’s head burst and she knew exactly where to go. A Japanese restaurant called Kenka, there is a blinking badger outside of it.

— WARNING FOOD GETS GRAPHIC & NOT VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY —

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MY NY EATS – FRIDAY

I went to New York to have an epic weekend, that would be kicked off by a girls’ night at the Barclay Center seeing Katy Perry. A magical night filled with glitter, prisms, laser lights, and a giant rotating cake. I took the red eye into NY on Thursday, and arrived at 8:00 am Friday morning on the East Coast. My friend who I was staying with, a talented photographer Wei, hosted us (my awesome friend Liz was there too) and wanted us to experience delicious food and the energy of NY. We first stopped at Wei’s for a nap, Liz was exhausted and I don’t advise trying to arrive well rested from sleeping on a plane. Sleeping into the afternoon we woke up starved, and Wei suggest Dim Sum.

Walking through a crowded China town dodging small children, rolling luggage, and patrons waiting for their street vendor egg rolls. We were on the hunt for a Dim Sum restaurant called the Golden Unicorn, because it was named after a unicorn. Unfortunately due to low blood sugar, and a misguided sense of direction, we ended up at Wei’s favorite Dim Sum place, Jing Fong. Standing in front of the wrong restaurant hunger decided for us, and we rod up a long escalator illuminated by an opulent chandelier. Seated immediately, what was more surprising was the quick delivery of our delicious dumplings. One usually waits at least five minutes before a  cart full of steaming buns rolls by, but our hunger must have been throwing off signals, cause in seconds we had a table full of 5 to 7 dumplings.

To the point that when another women passed by and dropped by some char siu bao, she complained that we did not even have a card on the table to mark down the items we had requested.  Eventually one gentlemen and two women speaking in a different language discussed the error in a hushed passionate way by our table, and we were good to go.

I even said I would be willing to try chicken feet, but while the cart passed by Wei shared why she had lost her appetite for the item, and well I’d lost my adventurous appetite too.

dim sum chinatown ny adventure

After China Town we passed by Little Italy where I picked up a street cannoli. It was probably the best cannoli I have ever had in my life, or will ever have. Unless I travel to Italy. The crust was firm, it snapped in my mouth without hurting my teeth and the filling was a light sweet cheese accented by mini chocolate chips. Perfect dessert to eat while dodging people. Walking in New York is like a video game, just remind me to not be there during the Zombie Apocalypse.

Fast forward to after Katy Perry, because I don’t think my dinner of Prestel, Cheap American Beer, and Red Bull is anything to write home about. We ventured from Brooklyn to the Lower East Side to the Meatball Shop. Passing by an amazing old building with an inane amount of graffiti. Its exterior did not fit the gorgeous architecture or the rest of neighborhood. Wei’s awesome friend remembered me telling him about this building, and shared with me a story about it. I knew that building was special without knowing anything about it.

Back to food, walking into The Meatball Shop there was a small bar with stools, a communal table that ran down the middle, and a few single tables lining the walls. As you can assume the menu was filled with meatballs. I wanted to test all the combinations of balls and sauces, so I opted for their sliders.  A chicken meatball with pesto sauce, spicy pork meatball with spicy marinara, beef meatball with a mushroom sauce, and another I can’t remember. They are served on the perfect bun. It doesn’t absorb too much of the sauce, and allows the flavors to just burst. I feel like it might have been potato bread. My favorite was the spicy pork, and spicy marinara.  Also the pesto is worth mentioning as it had a nice hint of pine nuts and was not too oily. I also had a side of mashed potatoes, great texture, fluffy and buttery.

The restaurant had just got is liquor license, which apparently according to a story I heard on Good Food is very important to the success of an NY restaurant. I ordered a Moscow mule, and I’m sad to report it was disappointing. It tasted watered down, and I questioned if there was any vodka in it at all. But my friend ordered an Old Cuban that had me envious. Not only cause you could tell it wasn’t virgin, but it tasted really yummy too. After throwing back a few of those, one might go home with an old Cuban.

the meatball shop ny adventure

We headed back to my friends place after dinner, which by the way was at 2am. In NY you apparently sit down for dinner when LA bars are closing. Now at nearly 900 words, I won’t even attempt to include Saturday or Sunday meals in one post.

So basically till next time…yum yum get in my tum!

Have you visited any of these places?

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Lock and Key Social Drinkery, a DTLA style bar located in downtown Downey!

lock and key social drinkery

Lock and Key Social Drinkery located in Downey, in the words of the owner, is designed so you wouldn’t feel like you were in Downey. A restaurant bar, the interior is industrial chic complete with vintage styled Edison light bulbs and an illuminated sign of the gastropub’s initials affixed to the ceiling. The walls are partially covered in wood paneling, and sleek black booths. Socially aware, tall tables set for eight run down the middle to accommodate large parties.

Downey is only 13 miles from Downtown LA, and its residents vary from lower middle class to those living in a mansion maze worth millions. With the increase in twenty-somethings living at home, and relatively affordable housing where young families plant their roots; there exist a demand for great food and atmosphere in Downey. A market, owner Marc Shelton, understands and is tapping into. On a Friday night at 7:00pm the restaurant had open tables, but was far from empty. And by 8:00 there was a line waiting to get inside.

When seated you’re served a tiny glass and chilled water in a large medicinal bottle which you’d imagine would hold pharmacy tonics in the 18oo’s.  The menu is creative and reads like a competitive cooking show, while not being off putting to those that might not be foodies. Gourmet classics taken up a notch or wrapped in bacon. A Grilled cheese with fontina cheese and white truffle butter. An appetizer called Amazeballs, that is fried Brussels sprouts, apple smoked bacon, candied walnuts, with an apple gastrique.

Being a Downey native, I had to start the dinner off with a Hot Cheeto pie. A sliced open Hot Cheetos snack bag drenched in jalapeno (nacho) cheese sauce topped with chorizo and scallions. I might have lost you, but understand Hot Cheetos and nacho cheese was a lunchtime staple for Downey kids. I didn’t eat it very often but I understood its delicious allure. It’s hard to get all food writer when talking about a bag of hot Cheetos and nacho cheese,but the warm melted jalapeno cheese compliments the Hot Cheetos seasoning without overpowering it. You still taste the Hot Cheeto flavor and its spicy build, while the creamy cheese coats the Cheetos without making it too soggy. Where it get gourmet is the peppery chorizo, and crisp scallions that add another dimension to this appetizer. I loved the Hot Cheeto pie, but I did regret starting off with it as it had scorched my palate a bit.

hot cheeto pie lock and key downey

Yet by the third bite of my dinner sandwich, I felt my taste buds could fairly assess the flavors.  I ordered the Sweet Thang Chicken Sandwich, a panko crusted chicken breast, apple wood bacon, sunny side egg, prairie cheddar, raspberry chipotle compote, on a pretzel bun.  Its presentation was on point, and technical execution excellent. The sunny side egg’s yolk was thick and creamy. The panko crust crispy and light, chicken itself tender and moist. But lacked its own unique seasoning aside from “tempura” flavor.  So the apple smoked bacon is what brought in an element of salt, and the prairie cheese forgettable unless the raspberry chipotle compote was in the bite. And that is where all the flavors came together and the sandwich made an impression. I picked at the top portion of the bun with drizzles of compote to eat with a bite of the other ingredients. Because without the compote, it was just an ok sandwich, but with the compote it hit all the flavor notes of sweet, salty, and tangy.

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A Love Letter to Umami Burger

love letter to umami

In LA food can be flavored with hype or even worse, a stale reputation. Fortunately Umami continues to deliver exceptional burgers and service. Personally I’ve been a patron of 4 different locations, Los Feliz, Downtown LA, Pasadena, and Hermosa Beach. With big flavors matched by a reasonable price tag, Umami is guaranteed good.

I write my love letter to the restaurant establishment Umami, because not only do I love the companies core values but it has been a fundamental part of my own great love story. Dan and I’s first date was at Umami Catessen, now Umami Broadway on March 28, 2012. Sharing the classic truffle burger and manly burger, we split onion rings and French fries while I had him expertly choose beers for me off their extensive list. Having been together for almost two years now, both Valentine’s Day nights’ have been spent with Umami. Our first V-day  in 2013 I surprised him with a replication of our first date menu, and this past Valentine’s 2014 was made extra special by event manager, Melissa Summers.

I’d purchased tickets to see the band Spiritualized at the ACE Theater on Valentine’s for Dan and I. Never giving a second thought to the holiday, I completely didn’t take into consideration how we’d eat before hand until Friday February 14. In the morning it dawned on me that, oh crap its Valentine’s Day and we probably won’t be able to get a table anywhere to eat.  Searching Yelp for any possible small restaurant option around the Ace Theater in Downtown LA, I saw that Umami was on the same street. Then like a scene in a movie, the memories of our first date came back to me.

21414

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Berry Ginger Cosmopolitan – Vita Frute Cocktail Review

Last night there was an earthquake and when I went to duck under my desk, I made sure to bring my cocktail with me.

I was given the chance to try Vita Frute Cocktails through a Klout Perk. Normally my spirits of choice are all brown and a part of the same family; Whiskey, Scotch, and Bourbon. But I’m not one to say no to trying new things.  An Acai Spirit, I thought it would be similar to Vodka.  I’m also not usually a Vodka drinker, but over the past year Mules have grown on me. As I really don’t care for sugary sweet drinks, I wanted to dilute the Vita Frute  pre-made cocktails. Being Mule-inspired I purchased a really good ginger beer to mix with it, Maine Root Ginger Brew.

So without  further ado, the Berry Ginger Cosmopolitan

 A Few sliced strawberries,
Some good ginger beer ( or ginger aid) poured over ice
 Finish with Vita Frute Cosmopolitan on top.

The drink was good, not trendy restaurant-worthy, but drinkable. Though honestly the Vita Frute tasted syrupy to me, and reminded me of something I would drink when I was 18 and my friends didn’t have whiskey.  I still have the Lemonade flavor to try, and I’m thinking I’ll make a blackberry ginger lemonade cocktail.  The jury is still out whether I would purchase this again, maybe for a party to provide different options. Although the ginger brew I bought had a very strong distinct flavor, and could have taken away from the potential brilliance of my cocktail. It wouldn’t be my go-to spirit, but I think girls that do love sugary drinks and pay attention to calories when drinking would enjoy this.

Purchasing my Vita Frute was an adventure  in itself, read about my Frute time at WeHo Pavilions.

 

Have you tried Vita Frute? What do you think? 

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Video Tasting of Epic Protein Bars

The Good , The Bad,  And The “This Ain’t No Slim Jim”

I decided to get a little more serious with my YouTube channel in 2014. Aiming to post weekly videos and becoming more a part of this community I watch on fairly regular basis. I’m not a beauty guru. Honestly I’m not sure what my channel is focused on except what interest me, just making videos I’d want to watch. Like a first impression video tasting of epic protein bars. I saw a deal for Epic Protein Bars on Fab.com, and I really loved the concept for the bars along with the packaging. But I wasn’t ready to whip out my Panda Debit Card to purchase the sample box quite yet. So I went to YouTube to see if there were any people recording a video tasting epic protein bars. And there were none, which discouraged my potential purchase.

By the time I found some bars at Whole Foods, it had been 4 months since I first saw them on Fab.com. I checked again, and there were some videos on Epic Protein Bars. But none I could relate to, or being tasted by someone that wasn’t a manly man/athlete that would automatically love the unleashed animal flavor. I needed a lady, a girl that wasn’t too frilly with a dash of sass and adventurous style to tell me this was the epic protein bar of her dreams.

Considering I didn’t find this girl, I decided to become her. Wrangling my friend Liz* in this tasty adventure, she agreed to not only try epic protein bars on camera with me, but she would film it with her amazing camera. And let me tell you, her set up produces videos WAY better than my Samsung Galaxy S4 videos. We had a lot of fun making this video, and I’ve been having a lot of fun doing YouTube videos.

I know my quality isn’t epic, but sometimes you just have to try until you can get the right equipment. If you wait till everything is perfect to even start a project, one might never start. Because there is always an excuse as to why it won’t be right this time. Sure my videos are too long, because I don’t have an editing system. The lighting is awful, because I’m shooting on my phone. But I have 5 more followers than I did on January 1, and I feel that’s 5 more people I get to make smile over my ridiculousness. My mom said I was born FUN, like I just have a sense of FUN about me. I love that, and there are times to do things exactly right and times just to have fun. YouTube is fun, and well so was making this video tasting of Epic Protein Bars.BisonBar

[ visit Liz’s Blog at www.casualconcern.com ]

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My Funny Valentine

Last year I spent my Valentines with a new beau. We watched Daybreakers and enjoyed tater-tots and seasoned fries, made love and it was a perfect valentines. Not flashy, but I enjoyed every moment.  This year was equally wonderful and simple. Even though it hasn’t officially happened yet, my mom and I decided to be eachother’s Valentine. My mom treated us to 30 minute shiatsu massages. Lately when I nap, I’m always thinking or problem solving to the point the only way I know I fell asleep is because I have very vivid nonsensical conversations with people that are not present when I come to.  It was extremely relaxing and I have no idea what my dream was about, but I feel I figured something out.

After our massage I Yelped for a new Ramen place in Gardena. We found this delicious place called, Mottainai Ramen.  I always go for Spicy Ramen, but it usually lacks in flavor and spice. For the first time the Ramen was ridiculously delicious. I slurped the broth almost till its last drop, can’t wait to go back for more.  The ramen place was tucked away in this little shopping center. After the dinner we decided to walk around and stumbled upon the most darling little Japanese Bakery, Vanille de Patisserie.

vanille de cake

The pastries and little cakes were so well made. Every color and design well placed, meticulously created, beautiful. It’s a place that would be ignored, it doesn’t have amazing foot traffic, but should be center stage. Just the right amount of sweet, and made me feel special. Am I still talking about the dessert?

Right now I’m drinking some red wine, left over from my birthday. Watching TV and sweet romantic storylines, I’m not sad or upset or gloomy. But filled with the beautiful hope of next year, who knows where I will be or who I will be with…maybe in Austin, with a drummer.

japanese cake display

cake box torrance

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