Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Veggie Grill - So Much More Than Veggies!

I've toyed with the idea of becoming vegetarian a couple of times in my life. Mainly starting from my mid twenties to now. A couple of years ago, I did manage to eat a vegetarian diet for a little bit shy of a year, like 11.5 months! :o) I still remember the day I fell off the vegetarian wagon. I was at a BBQ and the smell of meat was just too much and so I had a piece and realized that I needed a little bit of meat in my life. I'm sure my mommy was happy about this at the time because she was really concerned that I was not eating any meat. I don't regret that day one bit. While I was disappointed that I was not able to stick to something, I was happy to re-introduce a little bit of meat back into my life. To this day, I have not gone back to being a vegetarian because my body just feels more normal and nourished just by eating a little bit of meat in a mostly vegetable based diet. After many years of trying different diets and styles of eating, I'm finally starting to realize portion control and moderation is what works best for me. Thanks largely in part to my mom and Sister S who have told me this many times over the years but I never listened because I was always looking for the latest and greatest way to health and weight management. Don't get me wrong, I still love to eat at places like Native Foods, 118 Degrees (Raw Restaurant) and this place here...The Veggie Grill! They have a couple of locations. See their website for the one closest to you.

The Veggie Grill Menu.

Various beverages, including beer!

Soup of the Day

I ordered something to go one time.

It was this Grillin' Chickin', normally served on a whole wheat bun but I ordered it over a bed of steamed kale with a side of chili beans. That's not really a "side" per say, more like a sample because that thing was small!

I came back on another visit and sat outside since it was such a beautiful day. I love the patio area.

This is the Chop-Chop Chef Salad. This salad is pretty tasty. I really like the spicy and creamy dressing. I didn't really care for the tempeh but then again I've never been a tempeh fan. Their faux chicken on the other hand is pretty good. Especially if you get any dish with the Crispy Chicken. Taste just like the real thing.

Vegan Carrot Cake? Umm, yes please! Just one word. YUM! In capital letters.

Vegan Chocolate Pudding. I haven't had pudding in a really long time because of my lactose intolerance. This was a little sweeter than what I would have liked but it made me really happy to eat it again. My dad use to buy those little pudding cups for me and my sisters when we were little and eating this always reminds me of my childhood. It is really creamy too and no high fructose corn syrup. So good!

My favorite...the Crispy Chickin Sandwich! It comes with a side of slaw or chili. The sides are really small. Sometime I get it with a side of kale or soup (for an extra cost).

This is the same Crispy Chicken Sandwich except in a wrap with a side of chili.

The Soup and Salad combo - Chop Chop Chef Salad and the Tortilla Soup.

Chickin Noodle Soup

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 2011 // Photo A Day // Day 25, 26, 27, 28

I am so close to the end of the month for this photo a day challenge for "March 2011". I have to say that it has not been easy to make sure that I get at least one photo taken everyday. For as much photos as I take, you may be surprised to know that it is indeed challenging to remember to snap a photo a day. Especially during the work week when my mind is elsewhere.This past week I actually didn't really think much about it. Luckily I manged to take at least one photo a day. They may not be interesting but I have 3 more days to go. This has been interesting to say the least.

March 25 Photo - this was the only photo I took on this day. I went here for dinner and decided to update my restaurant review post with a better photo of the front of the restaurant.

March 26 Photo - On most Saturday mornings, you can probably find me running around these parts.

March 27 Photo - I ran the Coaster Run with Sister K on this day.

March 28 Photo - This was the only photo I took on this day for a blog post I did earlier in the week.

Macaron Crawl: Battle 1 (Au De Paris vs. Pacific Bakery)

Last week the OCWeekly did a write up on Macarons in Little Saigon. They made mentioned of names of such heavy weights as Laduree. Laduree is like the Piccaso or Van Gogh of the Macaron world. I'm still surprised by the fact that you can get Macarons in Little Saigon. It's obvious that I'm just simply missing the big picture of that I'm a huge Macaron fan. Did you know? or care? No? Whatever!

Ever since I had my first bite a couple of years ago, I knew there was just something special about these little gems. In case you didn't know, Macarons are little pastel colored French cookies. They are shaped like little hamburgers with two delicate shells sandwiching a creme type filling. These are not the same as the coconut mound shaped cookies. They are just worlds apart.

Naturally, after reading the OCWeekly write-up, I did what any normal Macaron loving person would do and devised a Macaron crawl for a party of one but then Sister K got wind of this crawl and wanted in. I was happy she came with me because she has actually had Macarons from Laduree's so I was excited to see what she had to say about the ones from Little Saigon. So the very next day, which happened to be a Saturday, Sister K and I headed straight to Little Saigon to seek out these little gems. Our first stop was Au De Paris Pastisserie and Boulangerie. This was the place the OCWeekly had written about so we thought it was appropriate to come here first. It was actually really hard to find this place. I drove right past it and didn't see it until I circled back. It is located amongst a multi-level white/beige nondescript type strip mall. The sign was really tiny as well.

As soon as we walked in, we saw them. Au De Paris only had 5 flavors available when we went.

One of the things I love most about Macarons are their pretty pastel colors. I mean really, what girl in her right mind wouldn't like this?

Coming in at $1.25 a piece, these were a deal! I got three of each of the hazelnut, pistachio and vanilla. Plus Sister K got a pistachio creme brule for later. :o)

This is the what the inside of the store looked like.

Aside from Macarons, they also sold cream puffs, cakes and varies pastries. It was not a very big place.

And as a point of comparison, we headed to Pacific Bakery. Why there? Well because after a quick search on Yelp, this was the place that many people commented had really good Macarons. This bakery in located in the same strip mall as the very busy and crowded Boiling Crab. If you know where I am talking about, you will also know that parking is a pain in the rear. If you can, avoid coming here around prime meal hours as it will take you a while to find a parking spot.

As you can see, not only do they have Macarons but they also serve ice cream, shaved ice, tea, crepes and cupcakes. What more could one ask for?

Check out the inside of this place. I love the Victoria Secret's theme wall! This was such a hole-in-the wall. There wasn't even anyone at the register. She was in the back cooking. She finally came out when another guy came in to buy a soda. She was sweet, I forgive her for not minding the store front. :o)

I have a "thing" with taking photos next to very large food displays.

 We saw the writing on the wall...LOL!

And there they were. These cost $1.50 each here if you buy 7 or more. So they are $0.25 more than at Au De Paris but I noticed right away that they looked a lot prettier. Plus they offered more flavor. I think I remember 12 in all.

I picked out 2 hazelnut, 2 pistachios, 2 caramel and 1 coffee. The cookie shell was shiny and smooth looking and these looked so much more appetizing than the ones from Au De Paris. This is just based on my first impression.

Here, I did a side by side comparison of the pistachio flavor. The one on the LEFT is from Au De Paris and the one on the RIGHT is from Pacific Bakery. Even the coloring is a little different. I took a bite of both and they were both good in the fact that they were not too sweet. These things normally hurt my teeth at other places because they are over the top sweet. These were perfectly sweet. I then noticed that the one from Au De Paris had a more delicate shell while the one from Pacific Bakery was more chewy. However, after carefully sampling the two, Sister K commented that neither was anything like the ones from Laduree. She did say that the caramel filling of the ones from Pacific Bakery reminded her a little of the ones from Laduree.

Overall, not having ever had Laduree's Macarons, I say the winner here are the ones from Pacific Bakery. I just liked them more. So far, they are the best ones I've ever had. I really don't care about hype or snobbery, I just go with what tastes good to me. And Pacific Bakery has something amazing.

Up next, Battle 2...who will dethrone Pacific Bakery and take over the hold on my dessert loving heart? Stay tuned!

Au De Paris Patisserie and Boulangerie
9441 Edinger St., 
Westminster, CA
(714) 775-8465

Pacific Bakery
13908 Brookhurst St
Garden Grove, CA 92843
(714) 636-9866

Monday, March 28, 2011

2011 The Coaster Run - 10K - Race Recap

Date: March 27, 2011
Location: Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA
Start: 7:30am
Finish: 1:22:49

I actually can't remember why Sister K and I decided to sign up for this 10K. Maybe it was the promise of Boysenberry Pie at the finish line...

or the allure of a cute Finishers' Medal for just running a 10K. Normally you have to run a half or full marathon or place in your age group to get a medal.

or maybe even the half price general admission into Knott's Berry Farm. Maybe it was all those things.

or maybe it was just this! :o)

Doing a fun race, goofing around on a Sunday morning, I can't think of anything more fun!

The day before on Saturday, we headed to the Buena Park Mall which is across the street from Knott's Berry Farm to pick up our race packets.

This was the packet pick-up area located at the center court of the Buena Park Mall. 

The goody bag was a reusable tote with some samples inside and the race shirt.

Sister K and I set out to the race at 6:30am. We arrived around Knott's Berry Farm to find a long long line into the parking lot. The parking situation is very inefficient. It took us nearly 35 minutes just to get into the parking lot because the line of cars was moving at a crawl. Once we parked, we got out to pin our bibs on and that's when it started to mist a bit. So I wore my rain coat again and Sister K carried an umbrella in a drawstring bag. We arrived at the starting line about 5 minutes before the start of the race. Talk about cutting it close.

We lined up at the back since we got there late and wasn't planning to break any records that day. ;) Look at that gloomy sky. Brings back bad memories.

One more photo before we took off.

And away we go! 

We ran passed this little field with roosters and chickens just walking around.

Shortly after, we got to this narrow tunnel and everyone just came to a halt. I wasn't sure why until I entered the tunnel and discovered that it was flooded a bit so people were trying to get around the flooded area. I hate the rain.

Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Yum!

Running along some residential streets...

I was doing a lot of goofin' around. This street sign wasn't even significant..haha!

Sister K gettin' it done!

Just at Mile 2? The pie is so far away!

I was playing race photographer. :o)

Turn around, thank goodness! Hello nice volunteer!

Mile 5...home stretch!

I ran passed this pink house. I snapped a photo because I know how much Sister S loves pink houses. LOL! ;)

So close we can almost taste the pie!

Finish! Now where's the pie?

Refreshment area with bottled water, orange wedges and bananas!


One for you, two for me!

Then it started to pour! But by then we were already in the car and full of pie. Thank you Rain Gods for keeping it together until we got to our car. We really appreciate that unlike less weekend when you were really mad for some reason.