Sweetsalt Toluca Lake, CA

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I like a great lunch. I think lunch can be overlooked and underwhelming a lot of the time because we don’t put much effort into it. I can understand that because I do it myself.  My normal lunch is probably some leftover something that I made for dinner the night before, so on this particular occasion I felt like having a nice lunch on a beautiful summer afternoon with my boyfriend, Brandon. Normally we debate where we should go and if we’re out by me, I usually have to pick because he’s not too familiar with the area (though I must admit that he’s getting much better).  I remembered my brother mentioning that Sweetsalt was good so we decided to check it out. We went in around 11:30 for lunch, which is early to beat the crowds, because that place seems to pack them in.

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The décor is antique and rustic with larger communal tables at the back to seat larger parties and smaller seats in the very small café-style restaurant. Sweetsalt is an order-at-the-counter style restaurant and they bring the food out to your corresponding number. We looked over the very fresh and trendy salad and sandwich choices, which all looked interesting and delicious. We picked the pear and pomegranate salad with chicken and the short rib brioche sandwich with a side of truffle potatoes and an iced soy latte. The pear and pomegranate salad was really refreshing and lite. The chicken was chopped and tossed into the salad and nicely complimented the sweet dressing that allowed the bitterness of the arugula to disappear a bit. Our sandwich was delectable; the short rib was tender and juicy. The meat had a very pronounced bourbon or whiskey flavor and was a little heavy on the black pepper, but the buttery brioche bun helped to mellow those flavors. They put a little side salad of mixed greens lightly dressed, which added freshness to the sandwich. Our truffle potatoes were again a bit on the heavy black pepper side, but cooked well. The café is really a very sweet and dainty place to have a bite to eat, enjoy coffee or pastries, and friendly company.

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Republic of Pie North Hollywood,CA

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North Hollywood is an up-and-coming area with a little strip of Lankershim Blvd. adding its artsy vibe to an otherwise forgettable area. I work with Lankershim Elementary School teaching preschool yoga, so every now and then, I like to look for new places for coffee or lunch. One afternoon, after Brandon and I walked around the Studio City farmers’ market, we decided that after all that walking we would head over to Summer Canteen for a late lunch. Since Summer Canteen is located in the same area of North Hollywood that Republic of Pie is, we headed over there to pick up some pie. My sister has been wanting a good slice of pie for a while now, so I decided to pick a couple of pieces up and check the place out.

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Republic of Pie is a lovely little cafe that’s both quaint and stylish. The décor is antique and precious with a stage for coffee house open mic night and couches for comfortable hanging out sessions with friends or your newest novel. The pastry cases offer a variety of styles of savory and sweet pies as well as other delicious baked goods like homemade oreos, lemon bars, vegan energy bars and much more. We looked over the pies and decided on blackberry peach pie and banana cream. I also took a lemon bar to go as well. The pies came out perfectly packed and expertly sliced.

 

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Along with your pie, they have a full line of espresso drinks and teas for your enjoyment. Both pies were delicious. The blackberry was extremely fresh and the pie crust was perfectly golden and crisp. The banana cream was layered with cream, banana pudding and a layer of sweet brown sugar crumble; it was very rich and decadent. The lemon bar was good. But for my taste, I enjoy them to be a bit more tart than sweet. Overall, the whole place was cute and welcoming and the pie was fantastic. You can take a look at the bakers in the baking room making all the delicious goodies by hand.

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Caffe Luxxe Brentwood,CA

 

 

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I’m extremely lucky. I wake up every morning and remind myself of how truly amazing life is. It just feels like the things that are going to happen will. As I sit in a coffee shop in Brentwood, waiting for my next kids’ yoga class, I just feel fortunate to be me; whatever that means and whatever it doesn’t mean.  We are so fortunate in life and sometimes that gets away from us and that’s okay. But coming back to our gratitude is a huge piece of my life and my practice. Caffe Luxxe is a beautiful little artisanal coffee shop pouring some of the finest espresso I’ve ever had. I ordered a latte, which was made with the perfect amount of everything. The espresso is unbelievably good. The bitter crema at the top of the latte mixes so well with the sweet whole milk and subtle smoky flavor of the roasted beans.



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Their latte is the perfect temperature for drinking and the milk is completely fluffy, but dense at the same time. I do lots of my writing these days in coffee shops, between classes. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. I like to use the time as reflection periods and quiet time, though coffee houses are rarely quiet—it’s just something I need in my life.  As I sit along the street and cars zoom by, life doesn’t seem so fast, but is so perfectly imperfect and I can appreciate that sometimes a cup of coffee is just what you need to appreciate the little things that make life so special.

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

 

 

Yoga in Santa Monica, Ca. and 17th Street Cafe

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I know I really shouldn’t spend money on lunch. I’m a yoga teacher (Kimberlyfujitakiyoga.com) for the most part and a personal chef here and there with odd jobs, caterings, and a million other ideas brewing away. If anyone is interested in my personal chef, private dining or personal grocery shopping please click on Unrivaledkitch Wellness for more info! It’s working out slowly, but surely because I’m living my dreams and it takes patience to make them happen, and it makes for me being on a pretty tight budget.

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I don’t know about you, but the only thing I really spend money on is food. I was just talking to my sister about this. If my stomach wasn’t so curiously hungry, I would probably have more money in my pocket, but a less happy stomach, which makes for a less happy yogi, so I’ll keep eating. Let’s call it research and development and in this salad, it was just that because I have a feeling I’m going to be making this delicious lunch I had today at 17th Street Café  in Santa Monica, sometime very soon.

It’s the simple things in life. On Thursdays, I teach a mini yogis™ baby and me yoga class at UCLA Family Commons in Santa Monica. It’s an amazing establishment that fosters good social skills for children and family support for all types of situations involving children. They have summer camps and winter camps, as well as yoga and martial arts for children of all ages. My Thursday classes are baby and me yoga sessions, which consists of children ages 0-3.  We have tons of fun in class testing limits, singing songs and being present. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to teach at UCLA Family Commons.  After the baby and me yoga class, I have a couple of hours to kill before I teach a really awesome group of kids in a private home in Santa Monica.

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Between classes I have some time to explore Santa Monica, which is nice because I’m not very familiar with the area, but it’s just buzzing with delicious cuisine and amazing shops to look at.  I made a quick trip down Montana Avenue where there were so many little places trying to make themselves stand out amongst the others.  I walked down the block just viewing all the ambitious eaters in the area looking at menus and pondering if I was honestly hungry or not. Eventually I settled on 17th Street Café. This charming little café is not very prominent amongst the other places, but I indecisively decided, after peeking in, that an afternoon salad wouldn’t hurt my next class and that I better hurry and eat so I could keep up with three, six and seven year-olds. I was seated right away, very warmly by a man standing at a bakery counter. I kept my eyes away from the pastries, though they did offer a second glance. My waitress was pleasant, but very busy and overall, the café was doing a high volume for its small dining room.

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I ordered a passion fruit iced tea that was amply refilled. On the table came fresh hot bread that was delicious with some butter on it. After looking at their extensive menu, I found myself choosing the Oak Smoked Salmon Salad. I ordered a half portion because from the look of everyone else’s plates, the portions were quite abundant. The salad was lightly dressed with a sweet sesame vinaigrette, had chopped button mushrooms, radishes, daikon sprouts, feta cheese and oak smoked salmon. I really liked that the salmon was smashed up finely and mixed in with the feta. It made for a very salty, but refreshing flavor taking out some of the fishiness that is often associated with smoked salmon. I was rather impressed and completely satisfied with this simple and interesting salad, which made for a delicious beautiful lunch in the California sunshine. I’m grateful to 17th Street Café for replenishing my strength for the next adventure in kids’ yoga!

1610 Montana Ave. Santa Monica, Ca 90403

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Cafe Nouveau in Ventura, CA

One beautiful Ventura afternoon, Brandon and I were out and about and decided to go into Cafe Nouveau , which recently opened back up after suffering from a kitchen fire last year. The dining room and whole restaurant is very quaint and cute. It looks like a perfect place for breakfast or an afternoon patio lunch.

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Brandon and I decided to dine inside this afternoon. The restaurant is set up into smaller rooms instead of a large dining space. It’s almost like eating in someone’s home, if their home had a bunch of other strangers in it. Our service was very attentive and we enjoyed our meal very much.

Brandon had a really delicious salmon salad and I decided to get a bacon cheese burger, which sounded perfectly wonderful at the time. Both the salad and burger were good; not the best burger I’ve ever had, but still satisfied my craving. The salmon was very fresh and the plethora of fresh and roasted vegetables was a perfect lunch. Our meal concluded with complimentary mini chocolate cupcakes, but what we enjoyed the most was their delicious blueberry corn bread muffin. It was definitely more food than two people need!

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497 E Thompson Blvd  Ventura, CA 93001

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

 

Sunday Brunch; Chez Nous and Priscilla’s

Something about Toluca Lake is charming, witty and quaint. For those of you who have yet to be lucky enough to visit this small community, it lies on the borders of North Hollywood and Burbank and befitting of the city is a place called Chez Nous. This eatery has been around for a very long time and with the decor and the building style, you’re sure to feel back in the younger days of the valley. A vine-covered building on Tujunga and Riverside, it is a prime spot for a delicious brunch with friends.  As we scour our neighboring towns for new delicious places for gossip and good food, this local eatery was on our list. Chez Nous is a French-style eatery with other American dishes thrown in the mix. We indulged in coffee, $4 champagne for Sunday brunch and Mimosas during our little 11:00 a.m. get together, chatting about the tough times and the good times amongst wonderful, beautiful women. I’m very glad to have these times to share with my amazing friends Bryn, Stephanie and Dina.

To be quite honest, I’m not much of a breakfast girl, but these ladies are, so as we perused the menu, mixed and matched our desirable tastes, then finally ordered, an array of breakfast items and lunch items hit the table. I ordered a charcuterie plate that had pate, Black Forest ham, salami, brie, muenster and goat cheese, with olives and cornichons. The food was served with a baguette and was something that I could have easily forgotten. The goat cheese and salami were the highlight of the plate. The Black Forest ham was not as fresh as I would have liked and the pate was a bit grainy. Overall, the service was very good and the atmosphere was interesting. I’d probably give the place a second chance for a pastry and a couple glasses of champagne. The desserts looked lovely and everyone else seemed to rather enjoy their food.  Sometimes the dishes we’d like to order aren’t always the dishes others enjoy much and with large menus such as this one, I can see how this choice may have deserved a second thought.. This was one of those times when I looked over at Bryn’s food thinking, “Maybe that’s what I should have ordered.” But, as for great company and enjoying a beautiful day, this place was definitely an interesting stop.
We also popped over for coffee and sunshine at Priscilla’s coffee house in Burbank. Coffee shops, especially little mom and pop cafes such as these, have a very special place in my heart. I ordered butterscotch iced coffee, which was delicious. I drink my coffee black to really enjoy the flavor of great roasted coffee beans and these were fantastic. Here we ended a beautiful and empowering afternoon in the beautiful California sunshine. The weather here has been nothing short of amazing these last couple of weeks. I’m so grateful for these opportunities to be close to my friends and enjoy their company in this brilliant city.

 

Stephanie

Bryn

Dina

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

La Super Rica, Hollister Brewing Company, Jeannine’s in Santa Barbara

The first part of this adventure is here. Enjoy :)

We then waited until hunger struck again, which ended up being around 9:00 p.m. and headed over to downtown Santa Barbara to La Super Rica. This is a very famous restaurant in SB. They are known for being one of Julia Child’s favorite joints, as well as being featured on numerous other things, none of which I knew, but Michelle had been wanting to go, so we went. And I can see why this place is famous. We went pretty close to closing, so there wasn’t a very large line or really much of a crowd. We were greeted by the owner, still taking orders and busy making food even that late into the evening, which I always know is a sign of respect and hard work. We ordered a bunch of different things: pork tamal, vegetable tamal, carne asada taco, chorizo and cheese with fresh tortillas and guacamole. I could just sit there and eat the tortillas and the masa if I had to, because they were so good. These tamales were the perfect mouth melting texture, where you don’t even have to really chew in order to eat, they just dissolve with fresh corn and lard flavor. You can watch the ladies and gentlemen in the kitchen pressing each tortilla fresh and placing it on the flat top to warm them through. There are three different salsas to choose from: a smokey spicy chipotle flavored sauce, salsa verde and a pico de gallo. Everything was really delicious and we left with more than enough food in our stomachs.




After this, we headed out to have a beer and a chat at Hollister Brewing Company. The bartender was very kind. I had the house brewed stout, which had lovely chocolate hints, delicious and rich. Michelle had pumpkin ale, which was very fall forward and smooth. We also had a glass of Pinot Noir on the house, because it was poured by mistake. We chatted about craziness and caught up on the latest of late, then headed back to the apartment to turn in. Noticing an immense difference of life the two of us have gone through, I’m so glad I have an amazing friend whose friendship shows no bounds. Throughout our lives we know we’ll be there for one another, even if it’s not every day or even every month; we’ll still converse as if we just got out of class together.

The next morning we woke up and had a little chat, got ready and headed downtown for a nice breakfast and a little more time to catch up before I headed back home. We made our way down to State Street and walked the bulk of shops that lined the streets with the other interesting people trying to get a little early morning stroll and breakfast. We stopped for brunch at Jeannine’s  a lovely little café and bakery, setup in a European style setting with cordial, stylish faculty promptly greeting guest as they arrive. You stand in line and order food with a menu that is presented to you upon entering. A lovely line of house made pastry and a perfectly setup coffee and tea bar awaits you. The tables are well-adorned and the staff is fantastic, professional and pleasantly helpful.  We ordered two dishes; Michelle had salmon hash with potatoes, and poached eggs, while I had a goat cheese, asparagus and fresh corn omelet with mixed potatoes. I loved my omelet. The eggs were light and fluffy and the filling was refreshing and delicious. The asparagus was cooked perfectly and everything was just very tasty and skillfully prepared. The potatoes were seasoned nicely and the whole plate came together cohesively. Michelle’s food was also amazing—freshly flaked salmon and perfectly poached eggs were a highlight on the plate. I loved this atmosphere and the food was an experience and not just a second thought. You can really tell these people believe in their business and I just love that.





We had such an amazing time together eating and enjoying each others company. I look forward to another fun visit with my amazing friend who’s joined me on so many of my adventures in life. I love you Michelle! Good Luck with school, see you around Thanksgiving I hope :)

Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

 

Last Day In Seattle

On the last morning in Seattle I did a lot before heading down to Sea Tac for my flight to long beach. I woke up early and had a lovely cappuccino from a local coffee shop in Queen Anne called Caffé Lardo . The coffee shop was simple and the espresso was wonderful.
 

As I left I decided to stop at a local market Metropolitan Market  in Queen Anne just to take a peek inside, the place was beautiful. They seem to take lots of pride in their grocery establishments here in Seattle which I enjoyed immensely.

 

I also took a trip to a local record store called Easy Street Records which had so much used music and new music is was really wonderful. I listened to some tunes for a bit and then took off to the Space Needle . I took the elevator up to the top to see the lovely sky view of Seattle and out towards Lake Union and over the Puget Sound. It was a bit cloudy and cold but really lovely. I spent a good amount of time sitting and looking into the sky.

  

 

 

 

After the Space Needle, I headed down to have a bite of sushi at Obasan in Queen Anne. The sushi was very tasty and the service was excellent. That last meal capped off my adventures in Washington and I took the monorail to the middle of the city then caught the light rail to the airport. I had so many amazing adventures this time around. Seattle really is a place I feel in love with the first time I went there, this trip reaffirmed how much I love it there and I’m sure I’ll be back soon.

 

Cheers
Unrivaledkitch
Twitter and Foodbuzz

From Bellevue to Queen Anne and In between

After the wedding we packed up and left Coastal Bellevue Hotel and headed up the huge hill with our luggage to get on a bus to Seattle. It was still Seafair and our bus driver was furiously trying to make it over the 90 bridge before it was shut down for the blue angels show. I’ll have to say that was one of the most insane bus rides I’ve ever been on. My nerves were a wreck but lucky for us we made it over the bridge before it closed or before the bus driver ran anyone off the road. People were lining up to see the aerial show it was a very packed shore line over lake union. So we made it to our destination finally after taking a pretty long or what seemed to be long hike with our bags from Downtown Seattle to Queen Anne. Note to self make sure you take a cab next time. We stayed at the Inn at Queen Anne just a couple of blocks away from the Space Needle. We decided to have lunch finally and made it to the quaint little Greek restaurant in Queen Anne called Athina Grill  I ordered an Antipasto Plate (Greek Style) that came with tomatoes, kalamata olives, Peperoncini, feta cheese, and pita. I also ordered one skewer of Chicken Souvlaki which was pieces of tender white meat chicken that were grilled with Greek spices and citrus. It came with Tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and red onion. I was able to make perfect little bites out of my mixture of ingredients. The flavors are some of my very favorite. Lunch was wonderful.

While in Seattle I explored downtown stopping by the famous Pikes Place Market, one of my favorite places I’ve been for food. I love this market and yes it is annoyingly packed with tourists but the fruits and vegetables are just picture perfect. They have so many different things all seasonal and beautiful as well as some amazing fish markets. I wanted to buy and eat so many different things there. It’s a wonderful place for food.

On my exploration I found this adorable coffee shop called Macrina. http://www.macrinabakery.com/ This lovely little place has some of the most beautiful breads and pastries but I opted for my favorite fatty whole milk cappuccino because I have to have at least a couple when I’m in Seattle. It’s located in Belltown and I’d check it out if you’re in the area.

I also stopped into Vital Tea Leaf http://www.vitaltealeaf.net/which is a very interesting Chinese Tea Shop. They let you sit at this bar and taste free tea from their selections. They have so many strange and awesome verities of tea so if you like Chinese tea or are looking for something new this place has so many different leaves to choose from. I left having experienced new flavors of tea I’d never had before. They have locations in San Francisco as well as Seattle.

Tons More to share coming up.
Cheers
Unrivaledkitch

Chicago Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower, Adler Planetarium, Bourgeois Pig, The Purple Pig, Ravens

As I walked through the many miles of culture and community that Chicago has to offer I was struck in awe but the simple beauty of a big city by the lake. It was all such an amazing group of places situated in the heart of commerce and business but with an airy feeling of art and style. I love it.

On Wednesday before Girl and the Goat I situated myself at the Shedd Aquarium, looking like a child at jelly fish, beluga whales, and all sorts of other marine life. It made me feel young again, though I’m not too old let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. After the animal life I decided to make my way over to the Skydeck of Willis Tower and see the city from above, it was like nothing I’ve ever witnessed before to be so high up and everything looks so small almost like being in a plane traveling over the city. You could see the rain washing through the suburbs and the lights just start to peek out through the clouds. A truly amazing day I’ll never forget.


 

Thursday, I woke up and headed to the train station but on my way I decided I would like a tea so I stopped into the Bourgeois Pig. This adorable little cafe serves a multitude of different items from coffees and teas as well as in house baked goods and some really awesome sounding sandwiches and salads to choose from. I just stopped in for a Chai Latte but I couldn’t help myself I got a beautifully just made still gooey in the center snicker doodle to go with it. It was the perfect sugary way to start my day. There’s something about a well done foamy hot Chai that I just love. This place was just perfect for a mid afternoon chat with friends or to get some work done with two levels of seating and free wifi.

 

I walked over to the train station and I decided to head back over to Museum Park to see the Adler Planetarium . Getting in all I could was necessary but at least this time I knew where I was going. I thought the planetarium was really interesting. I love seeing those IMAX versions of the sky with millions of little lights flickering above. One of my favorite past times is to stare into a starry sky. I miss Moorpark for just those occasions but I’ll be going to mammoth in August and I’ll have all the stars I could ever want. I wondered about for a while there taking in all the sky and its discoveries.

 

After that I found myself on Magnificent Mile walking with a plethora of shops and craziness. I’m not much of a shopper, I spend my money on food or drinks and the like so I did a little window shopping and walked around looking at all the people going up and down the street. I decided a nice glass of wine would be in order I stopped into The Purple Pig was sat right next to where the food was coming out. These guys are pulling off a miracle with burners that are electric and a small 3 foot grill but the food looked amazing. I decided i would have to have an appetizer while I was there and decided on the mortadella smear over crusty baguette topped with aged balsamic, and arugula. I love mortadella is the Italian version of Bologna so I could see how people might be turned off by it but i adore it. From the days of working in an Italian deli I love that stuff. So anyways this was a smear which kind of reminded me off almost ham butter. It was so delicate and fluffy that it was almost a moose. I really enjoyed the richness cut with the balsamic and arugula it went really well with my red Italian wine from Perugia. A perfect afternoon snack. The restaurant itself was jammed packed with people just grabbing a bite after working or tourists checking out the Chicago River outside. The bone marrow looked particularly interesting as well as many of their small plates and cheese
boards.

 

 

After all that I then headed back towards Lincoln Park waiting for my 9pm reservation at Sprout as well as my friend Michelle. I stopped for a beer at Ravens  which is a small pub on Clark Street with a mystic quality and 4 dollar pints and is open till 4am. I wrote a little pen and paper action for myself. Michelle ended up running late from her dinner with her fellow butterfly conference attendees so I headed down Fullerton to Sprout  myself.

Stay Tuned

To see the rest of Chicago click

day one, day two, Girl and the goat, Frontera

Unrivaledkitch