Lupicia Tea

I first learned about Lupicia tea through my friend Kelsey. She insisted I try the Cookie tea, saying it would change my life. And well, it did, because to this day I am a loyal customer and avid fan of Lupicia.

The closest store to me is in the Westfield Century City mall. The store smells warm and inviting, with all different tea notes filling the space. The employees are always willing to brew different kinds of tea for you to sample. Also, tins filled with tea leaves are on display for you to open and have a free smell. The selection of teas is vast, and if you’re a tea lover like me, you could spend a good hour in this place. My mom and I recently went and bought several packets of loose leaf tea for my family.

My favorite Lupicia teas are Cookie, Banana Chocolate and Strawberry Chocolate. I prepare the teas with a dab of honey and a dollop of whipped cream. This makes the perfect afternoon treat without having to eat something terribly sweet.

Unlike other teas whose tastes don’t match the flavor name, Lupicia teas are true to their title. The Cookie tea tastes like a sugar cookie with notes of caramel, the banana chocolate has a light, non-artificial tasting banana flavor with chocolate undertones and the chocolate strawberry is true to flavor name as well.

If you sign up for the Lupicia monthly newsletter, you’ll receive a free sample every month. I love receiving the free samples and always anticipate what flavor is coming next. Try out Lupicia tea, you’ll be glad you did.

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100th post! Birthday dinner at The Churchill

This year I spent my birthday with some close friends, who are a group of pretty amazing people! We got a table at The Churchill, which has great food and an impeccable atmosphere.

The Churchill is located on 3rd street amidst other unique restaurants and cute shops. The atmosphere was laid back yet refined with a rustic/industrial hybrid feel. With an outdoor patio and an eclectic mix of seating arrangements inside (my favorite was the table where we sat – a long dinner table made of wood complete with two wooden benches), this place is just as much about atmosphere as it is about food! We started off with a bottle of wine, which is half off on Tuesdays! The menu provided so many amazing options that it was difficult to choose. Since we wanted a little bit of everything, we ordered a few different plates to split.

The macaroni and cheese was rich and creamy with a hint of poblano spice. The dish added a unique flair to a traditional childhood staple. The half chicken was served atop a bed of tomatoes, green beans, arugula and mushrooms. The savory taste had a buttery goodness to it that reminded me of a home-cooked meal. We also enjoyed a ricotta and arugula pizza, which had a thin, flaky crust along with meatballs in a homemade tomato sauce.

To end the meal, we all had birthday cake flavored shots, which were to die for! I don’t like vodka, but whatever they used I absolutely loved. The shot smelled like it tasted – the warm vanilla scent of birthday cake. Our server was kind, responsive, fun and made sure that we had a great time. I will definitely return to The Churchill!
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Sutton Place Cookies

Sutton Place Cookies handed out samples at last weekend’s Tastemade barbecue, and I couldn’t help but be immediately drawn to the adorable design.

Owner Alix Scarlott started this cookie company from her home kitchen in Sutton Place, a neighborhood in Manhattan. Alix baked for her own enjoyment, until people started inquiring about personalized orders. It was then that she discovered this could turn into a profitable, fun business.

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I loved this mint green and purple-checkered cookie design. The cookies are so beautiful; you just want to take some time to admire it before taking the first bite. The sugar cookie is classic and home-style tasting – not too sweet and with a nice consistence of crunchy at first and lightly moist in the middle. The simply sweet taste combined with the unique design makes these cookies special. I would be super excited to order a batch of these for a birthday party, Christmas party or Valentine’s Day!

Wondering how you can order Sutton Place Cookies for yourself? Well since this is a relatively new business, you will need to contact the owner directly at alix4@me.com. The kitchen is based out of Playa Vista (west LA) in Alix’s kitchen, so you’re guaranteed that nice homemade flavor! Generally she requests orders two weeks in advance and a minimum order of three dozen cookies. The average costs ranges between $2.50 and $5.00 per cookie depending on cookie size, the design, wrapping and delivery. Check out Sutton Place Cookies for your next event!

Summer BBQ @ Tastemade!

Last weekend, my friend Mark and I attended a fun, lively summer barbecue hosted by Tastemade.

If you haven’t heard of or checked out Tastemade yet, you’ve gotta! Think of a young food channel meets the playful food section of Buzzfeed. This fresh, hip company creates awesome videos (both instructional and conversational) about food. Tastemade also recently launched an amazing app any foodie will absolutely love! (I’ll discuss the AMAZING app in more detail in a separate post)

The event took place outside the Tastemade studios in Santa Monica, complete with live music by a country/bluegrass band! Chefs from YouTube’s best bbq channels cooked up delicious bite sized treats, while attendees tasted and voted on the best food! Honestly, everything was delicious, so casting the votes was a hard decision. The ice cold drinks, diverse selection of barbecue and even some homemade ice cream made it my food heaven. Check out some pictures I snapped at the event:

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Look at all that meat!

Look at all that meat!

Delicious sides- cole slaw, black eyed peas and potato salad

Delicious sides- cole slaw, black eyed peas and potato salad

Ice cold beer with naan, bbq and chutney along with bbq skewer... so yummy

Ice cold beer with naan, brisket and chutney along with bbq skewer… so yummy

 

Three Weavers, an LA microbrewery with BOMB beer

Three Weavers, an LA microbrewery with BOMB beer

Smooth, creamy homemade ice cream by McConnell's Ice Cream

Smooth, creamy homemade ice cream by McConnell’s Ice Cream

Mark and I reppin' Texas with the flag

Mark and I reppin’ Texas with the flag

 

 

 

 

 

DeLuscious Goes Vegan!

DeLuscious Cookies, an LA-based bakery that serves up some of the best cookies in the city, recently released a brand new line of vegan cookies. Ask any dessert fan (that pretty much includes everyone!) in Los Angeles, and they’ll tell you DeLuscious bakes the most delicious, decadent desserts in town.
I couldn’t help but feel giddy when a cute box of DeLuscious cookies arrived at my door. The packaging was simple yet sophisticated, with a playful ribbon to polish it off. Pink wrapping tissue surrounded the cookies, which are individually wrapped and sealed with a brand sticker.
I’ve tried various gluten free and vegan baked good options around Los Angeles, but they always fail in some respect – too dry or too artificial tasting. DeLuscious, though, has put in the time and hard work to craft the perfect vegan and gluten free variations on classic treats. The DeLuscious vegan and gluten free creations are hard to distinguish from their regular cookies that contain flour and animal products. Those who, whether by necessity or choice, are vegan or gluten-free will rejoice at the amazing flavors that are compatible with their dietary restrictions!
The box of cookies included three products from the new DeLuscious line: vegan gluten-free chocolate chip, vegan chocolate chip and vegan oatmeal raisin. DeLuscious also included the regular chocolate chip for comparison to the vegan/gluten-free options.
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The regular chocolate chip was thin, chewy and not too sweet. The rich dark chocolate chips were evenly allocated throughout the cookie, and the dough portion was lightly sweet, balancing the rich chocolate flavor.
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Vegan chocolate chip, like the other cookies, is moist and chewy. I had a hard time distinguishing between the regular chocolate chip and the vegan chocolate chip flavors, which is definitely a good sign for those of you who have specific dietary needs!
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The gluten free vegan chocolate chip is much thicker than the original chocolate chip cookie. The cookie crumbles easier than the vegan chocolate chip and the regular, but is not dry. The gluten free vegan cookie is slightly sweeter and buttery tasting than the vegan chocolate chip. DeLuscious has created this cookie that retains all of the buttery, sweet goodness of a regular chocolate chip cookie, but without the flour and animal products… I don’t know how they did it! 
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The last vegan option, the vegan oatmeal raisin reminded me of the cinnamon and spice flavors of fall and winter desserts. The cookie is dense and includes plenty of sweet raisins, creating a perfect texture. DeLuscious also offers vegan cookie options in cinnamon sugar, peanut butter and chocolate decadence. I’m sure these options are just as delicious as the flavors I sampled!
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The representatives at DeLuscious also included some of their most popular flavors, cinnamon sugar, chocolate decadence, the red velvet white chocolate brownie and the limited edition kimchee sriracha peanut butter cookie!
The cinnamon sugar cookie contains a thin, crunchy layer of cinnamon atop a chewy, buttery cookie. You can smell the cookie the moment it comes out of the packaging. The cookie itself is not too sweet, a result mainly of the thinness.
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Chocolate decadence is a brownie-cookie hybrid that will quickly satisfy any chocolate cravings. The gooey, moist center will have you thinking that these popped right out of the oven. A thin, crispy sugar glaze covers the entire cookie from top to bottom, providing a pleasant initial crunch at first bite. The balance of texture gives the dessert a nice dose of both cookie and brownie qualities. Chocolate decadence was by far the richest cookie in the bunch.
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Kimchee sriracha Peanut butter, which is a limited edition cookie, has a unique fluffy consistency that sets it apart from the others in the bunch. At first chew, the peanut butter flavor sets in, but after a few bites you’ll discover the spicy aftertaste. The combination was unlike any I have ever tasted. Peanut bits provide a subtle crunch that nicely balanced the fluffiness of the cookie.
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The red velvet white chocolate brownie has a half-baked consistency that is completely decadent. White chocolate chips pack on the sweetness, which is a perfect supplement to the light chocolate flavor of the red velvet brownie. This one would be overwhelming to eat in one sitting – I recommend splitting this treat with a friend.
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Along with these amazing treats, DeLuscious bakes monthly “Couture Dozens” that include a variety of cool, unique flavors. The August dozen includes cranberry white chocolate walnut, red velvet white chocolate brownie, a gooey butter cookie with dulce de leche and chocolate chip.

DeLuscious cookies are so decadent and packed with flavor that you will want to enjoy them slowly and savor every last bite. The cookies are perfect, regardless of whether they’re meant for satisfying your own sweet tooth or for brightening someone else’s day. If you’re looking for a creative, delicious gift to give a friend or loved one, consider sending them a box of DeLuscious cookies. Ordering from their website is simple and quick- check out their order page here. My experience with DeLuscious from first email to first bite of the amazing cookies was impeccable. The employees are warm, responsive and made sure that my experience was positive! Thanks DeLuscious!

Badmaash LA

I love what’s happening downtown! New restaurants are popping up at a fast rate, revitalizing the area that was once only a business district. A friend of mine recently discovered Badmaash LA, so a group of us tried it out!

The first thing I noticed about Badmaash was the awesome vibe – with a friendly staff and hip, modern decor, I knew this place was going to be a dining experience. My group sat in the lofted second floor of the restaurant. The walls are painted chalkboard and are filled with various Hindi sayings and random drawings. Bollywood film posters adorn the walls, giving the place a modern feel.

Now onto the menu. I’m a huge fan of Indian food so I geeked out over the various dishes that combine Indian flavor with other known dishes – the first thing that caught my eye was the Masala Fries! As the tradition when we go to Indian restaurants, my friends and I split a few dishes. For three people, 5-6 dishes was about right to be full by the end. We ordered the Masala Fries, Butter Chicken Samosas, Papri Chaat, Seekh Kabaab, and Butter Chicken.

The portions are small, but big enough to split and have 3-4 bites per person. My favorite dish was the Seekh Kabaab because of the spice and tenderness of the meat. The Masala Fries were basically fries with Indian Spices, good but not something I would order again.

Overall, I think Badmaash is a great place to hang out with friends, order some Kingfisher beer and have a few bites to eat. The atmosphere and the small plates make it a good place to relax and have fun. However, if you are looking for Indian food with big portions, more variety and a more traditional flavor, check out some other places around LA such as India Sweet House or India’s Flavor in Glendale.
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Cucumber Mint Water, My LA Summer Heat Remedy

I shouldn’t be complaining about the 88 degree weather in LA when my family in Texas is dealing with a whopping 102 with humidity! But still!

Since moving to West Hollywood, I’ve been able to take frequent trips to the surrounding grocery stores. Today I had an urge to drink something other than coffee or tea so I picked up some fresh mint and a cucumber.

I’m hesitant to call this a recipe because it is oh-so simple. My process for making this cucumber mint water was easy –

1. Fill a mason jar with water.
2. Wash and tear some mint leaves.
3. Wash and chop some cucumber.
4. Put 2 + 3 in the water, seal and refrigerate until cool.

What other water infusions have you tried? I’d love some ideas!

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Coffee For Lila

It’s been a minute!

I’m back to posting since I’ve taken quite a long break. I wanted to start by sharing a video I produced at USC for a science film competition a few months ago. My coffee obsession has only increased since learning the science behind the process… hope you enjoy!

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

One of my freshman year roommates taught me how to make these simple peanut butter cookies. This is by far the most simple cookie recipe… all you need is:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Mix the three ingredients in a bowl, place the dough in chunks on a cookie sheet, then pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. These are so simple and taste best when they’re fresh out of the oven but have cooled for about 5 minutes. If you have a cookie craving late at night but don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen, this is the perfect treat.
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Mendocino Farms – now at FIGat7th

I’ve seen several Mendocino Farms throughout LA, but never had the chance to try it out. A few days ago, the newest Mendocino Farms (located in the beautiful FIGat7th shopping center in downtown LA) gave away free dinner for one night as a practice run. During my break from work, I ran over there to grab the free grub. First of all, the staff is SO nice… I was greeted warmly at the door and felt a lot of excitement from the employees. Next, I sampled some curry cous cous which was incredible… so much spice and rich flavor that reminded me of India.

I ordered the BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich for my main course, I mean how could I not when I saw this description:

slow roasted, shredded pork in a chipotle BBQ sauce, applewood smoked bacon, housemade pickles, farm house cheddar, mustard pickle slaw, potato salad spread on panini grilled Dolce Forno soft roll

The sandwich was just incredible. I mean it’s genius that they put the potato salad between the bread – the combination of flavors reminded me of a 4th of July cook out. I’ll definitely return for this sandwich and other delicious sounding items on the diverse menu. A+ Mendocino Farms!

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