The blog is back!

Hey guys!

I know I said my return to blogging would happen weeks ago. What can I say? I’ve enjoyed doing far less the past few weeks. The weekend after the bar exam I went to San Diego and had a ton of fun. I had a ton of photos from bar week, my trip and random things after. However, last Friday my phone finally bit the dust. I’d had my android for 2 and a half years so I wasn’t that surprised by it. I went in to AT&T and upgraded to an iphone. Unfortunately, my photos didn’t transfer. Whoops.

However, the past week has been blog related action packed.

To the highlights!

Last weekend my law school bestie Chrissy was in town. It was great to get the whole law school gang together again. We’ve all scattered a little bit and been busy so it was awesome to see them every day last weekend. Miss these guys.

On Friday we ended up at Tom Bergin’s Irish Pub in LA for drinks. I love Tom Bergin’s. The vibe is always low-key and they have a great beer list. Anywhere with Stone IPA on draft is good in my book. Also, I ordered fish and chips. I have been craving fish and chips. It was like St. Patrick’s Day came early.

No photo of the food, bad blogger, but I did get this one of Chrissy and I by the Tom Bergin’s fire:

photo (6)

Saturday we went to Ethiopian food in little Ethiopia on Fairfax. I love Ethiopian food because it’s all meat and bread. Sorry, again I was an off duty blogger. That said, Rosalind’s in my favorite restaurant on Fairfax. The people there are unbelievably nice.

Sunday we all went on a hike at Tree People which is just north of Beverly Hills. I haven’t been on this trail before and it was a good one! The trail is well maintained, with lots of parking and decent views. Overall, it’s much less of a scene than Runyon which is kinda nice.

The gang. Please note my “Run Like El” shirt. So stoked to watch the LA Marathon today!

In other news, I need new running shoes:

I don’t think that I should be able to do that with my shoes.

I took the week of the bar and the week after more or less off from running but I’m getting back into the miles, although I do need to order new shoes!

I ran a total of 15 miles this week. I’m wearing replacement shoes until the new ones arrive because I do not want to risk an injury. I’m also cross training. I went to Soul Cycle in Santa Monica Friday.

For the record: Laura Crago is a beast and you need to take her class. Instead of only doing weights, she had us grab our towels and use those. At first I thought it would be easy but damn was I wrong. My shoulders may never be the same! She also encouraged us to ride with our hair down. It reminded me of doing Bikram with my hair down while in college. Basically, my hair turned into a brunette lion’s mane. It was awesome. I love Soul Cycle. I wish I had the budget to go more frequently!

The past week has been scattered with other random Irish things. I enjoy St. Patrick’s Day but let’s be honest, once you’ve celebrated in Boston you can’t celebrate in LA. It just isn’t the same level. Nothing compares to drinking openly at the Southie Parade. Besides dining at Tom Bergin’s Irish Pub last weekend, I indulged in two Irish theme treats.

First, the seasonal special cupcake from Susie Cakes: Guinness Chocolate Stout cupcake with Bailey’s Butter cream. It’s as good as it sounds, I promise.

Working at Susie Cakes perks! Love this cupcake. Sadly, it ended its run today but keep your eyes peeled next March for it!

In other treat news, after reading the Tom Bergin’s menu I had a genius idea to make Guinness Floats. Obviously, talking my boyfriend into making them with me took approximately 5 seconds.

All you need to do is scoop the ice cream and pour the Guinness on top. I love beer. I love ice cream. However, usually I would not combine to two but with Guinness I will make an exception. The creaminess from the ice cream is delicious with the Guinness. As you might guess, it was delicious. Perfect dessert anytime of the year!

Finally, I started an Instagram account. For more photos of alcohol and food follow @kathswanson on Instagram.

Hope everyone has a great St. Patrick’s Day!

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Regular blogging to resume Monday 3/4, I promise guys!

I believe I will pass the bar (two weeks until the bar exam WHAT?!).

I believe I miss blogging.

I believe I want this month to be over.

I believe I am about to lose my mind.

I believe I have three half completed blog posts I have not had time to finish but I promise they will be up soon because one of them is a love letter to a biscuit (be my valentine bacon cheddar biscuits? Please?) and I am running a half marathon this weekend and I have so many running thoughts I want to share.

I believe that I love my job. A 4 year old asked me to be his valentine yesterday and it melted my cold, non-child loving heart. My heart grew approximately 3 sizes yesterday.

I believe that this time, unlike last time, I am not losing weight due to stress. Not a bad thing. Stress weight loss isn’t my jam. Pixy Stix are my jam right now.

OK. Back to the grind. I just wanted to pop in and say that I have not forgotten that I write a blog sometimes and I cannot wait to be able to get into regular posing again. The past few weeks have been nutty between working and studying and I am looking forward to moving forward and leaving studying behind.

Until then, enjoy this picture of Izzy studying alongside me!

Holy Cannoli!

I know the title of this post is terrible but I just could not help myself.

The past week has been spent getting into the groove of my new work, study, social life schedule. So far… so good. Luckily I came very close to passing the bar last time so this time I’m targeting the areas where I’m weak and doing a general overview. I feel much more at ease than I did last time because a lot of the information is still relatively fresh in my mind.

Also, I got my hair cut. You like?

I’ve also been pretty good at getting back into my workouts after a slight hiatus over Christmas. I scored a free Soul Cycle class yesterday with David. He kicked my ass all over the studio but I felt great (and sore) afterwards. It’s amazing what a good workout can do you my attitude. I’ve also been doing a good job of eating well, not dining out too much and not over indulging at work (which is a CHALLENGE at Susie Cakes, believe me).

However, last week I got a special treat. My friend Kelly, whom I often dine with at establishments like Plan Check, Geisha House, Tart, Ugo or Umami, invited me over to try her family’s homemade cannoli.

Kelly is Sicilian and her family makes ravioli and cannoli from scratch every Christmas. She brought extra shells and filling back to LA. It was a major treat for me. I love cannoli but rarely order when out. Living in Boston and eating cannoli at Modern Pastry, Mike’s and other shops in the North End spoiled me in college. The cannoli Kelly served me was on par with the best cannoli’s I had while living in Boston.

Her family hand makes the shells, with a deep fryer and everything. She listed the ingredients that are in the shell but I forgot most of them, except wine. Let’s face it: I never forget anything that has wine involved. The shells were crispy and delicious.

She filled the shells with the most delicious filling. The filling has heavy cream, ricotta, orange zest, vanilla, and chocolate chips. There are more ingredients, but they’re escaping me right now. The filling is whipped for a long time and came together soft, rich and delectable. I love a dessert that is made with real ingredients like heavy cream, I love them even more when you can TELL there are delicious real ingredients.

Kelly stuffed the shells with the filling and then dipped the ends in crushed walnuts.

This was so tasty. Despite the fact that it was a week after Christmas all the components tasted fresh. The filling was creamy, thick and rich but not over powering. The shells were still crispy and crunchy. Honestly, this cannolli was at least as good as the ones in Boston’s North End, if not better!

Thanks Kelly for such a special treat!

Changes

Where did we leave off?

Oh yeah. It was Thanksgiving and I had not passed the bar exam.

Please excuse the following detour into personal diary-land with various foodie highlights but I feel like it’s necessary to catch everyone up. We want to be on the same page, right?

So in the past month since I got my bar exam results many things have happened.

  • I moved out of my apartment that I lived in alone and I loved in Brentwood. It had to be done. Living alone is expensive. The location was no longer conducive to my lifestyle. Most of my friends had left the Westside after law school and I was not working anywhere near Brentwood. Traffic is West Los Angeles makes me question the existence of God and karma. I miss my old kitchen but it was time to move on.

  • The good news? I’ve relocated to Manhattan Beach and thus far I love it! I live a 15 minute walk from the water and I’m close to my new job, several other friends, and the boy. I’ve always liked moving and exploring new areas and so far I’ve scouted some good spots I am excited to explore. I have awesome roommates I really like and my rent is far, far more affordable. Plus, like I said already, I’m 15 mins from the beach which is really winning.

Source

  • So far in Manhattan Beach I’ve discovered Two Guns Espresso and Manhattan Bread and Bagel. Obviously, my first 24 hours as a Manhattan Beach resident required me finding a bagel place and a coffee spot. I love the bagel and lox at Manhattan Bread and Bagel and the flat white (and uh everything else I’ve tried) at Two Guns were on par with places like The Refinery in Santa Monica and Café Luxe! I also had a cocktail at Manhattan Beach Post and I KNOW I will be back there again. And I had dinner at Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Beach. I didn’t take any photos but the food was delicious and I would highly recommend to anyone in the area!

  • I ate at Baco Mercat downtown. I needed to be rolled from the restaurant. Seriously, go and order the oxtail. You will not be disappointed.

    Source

  • I’ve started studying for the bar again. It is as un-fun as you would expect it to be but it is also less stressful the second time around (so far) and the information is coming back easily.

  • I left my legal non-profit job but I continue to work part-time at my other job which I love. I’ve been coy on the blog about this and I don’t want to really write about my workplace at all but I will say that I work at Susie Cakes. Me and Susie Cakes? That’s a match made in heaven.

  • I went to Chicago for Christmas. It snowed every day I was there. It was pretty and cold. I tried to dress slightly like a hipster (or not? A J Crew hipster? Can such a thing exist?) While in Chicago I ate at Walker Brothers Pancake House which you MAY remember from the end of Mean Girls (Spring Fling Queen wins two gift certificates to the Walker Brothers Pancake House). I ate silver dollars and hash browns and texted this photo to a friend to inspire some jealousy. I also stole some boots from the 1980’s from my mom. I put together a cute outfit and the girls in Madewell only complimented the boots. Typical.

    I got my glasses prescription updated for the first time since I got my braces removed. Clearly, this demands numerous selfies.

    O’Hare Airport, the greatest place to fly into at 11 pm on Christmas Eve. Also, total Home Alone 2: Lost in New York moment.

    This is for you, Jessica Rudis.

    The aforementioned pancakes and hash brown. These pancakes are perfection on a plate. Just the right amount of softness and the whipped butter topping adds to an already buttery taste. Buttery really is the only word I have in this situation. Please don’t be grossed out by the amount of ketchup on my hash brown. Obviously, my taste for carbs is insatiable.

  • On my way out of town my mom asked if there was any food I needed that I hadn’t had yet. I asked if it would be piggish to eat an entire deep dish pizza after housing sushi. She declined to reply but we went to Lou Malnati’s and I picked up 3 deep dish pizzas which I carried on to the plane frozen. I would have bought more but I was out of room in my bag. One of the pizzas is already gone.

  • I like eggs now! Sunnyside up with runny yoke. I’ve been eating an unreasonable amount of potato, spinach, egg hash and I will blog the recipe soon!

  • I decided not to run the half I was planning to run in January. Honestly, my training wasn’t there, especially after I didn’t pass the bar. I was busy moving, working, traveling and I got sick for a week. I don’t want to half ass it. I signed up for the Rock n Roll Pasadena half a year ago (it is in February) so that is my new goal race. I’m not training for time (its two weeks before the bar, let’s not kill ourselves) but I do want to do 13.1 again. It’s been a while.
  • I’m really excited for the new year. 2012 had some really awesome moments and some really not so awesome moments. Hope you all have a great weekend and an awesome new year!

Gratitude

First things first: Happy Thanksgiving!

Bearing the theme of gratitude in mind, I have an announcement:

I did not pass the California Bar Exam.

Yes, I will take February 2012. Yes, I was disappointed and sad to learn I didn’t pass. Yes, I am OK. And yes, I am sick of talking about it.

Luckily when I got the news I was off the grid, vacationing in South Dakota so I was able to talk to the people I needed to talk to and then go on a cell phone and social media blackout for about 3 days. It was actually really, really nice not to really deal with the fallout from the news. The past few days being back have been a little overwhelming. There is a lot I need to plan before I start studying again. Obviously, “the news” was upsetting to me. I really, really wanted to pass but I know the exam is weird and challenging. I also know I will take it again and I have faith that things in my life are going to work out the way they are supposed to. Truthfully, not passing felt weirdly liberating.

Through my many years practicing various forms of self help I’ve learned that when things don’t go my way I need to practice gratitude. And you know what? The bar examiners knew what they were doing putting the results day less than a week before thanksgiving. Gratitude has been on my mind all week as the holiday approaches.

Hungry Running Girl posted this about a month ago and I have reread it several times since Friday night:

Source

Tuesday night I came home and actually made a full on list of the things that I am grateful for. With that in mind, it’s time for my annual “thankful” post. Consider this year’s the “I didn’t pass the bar exam but I have so much to be grateful for” edition of the “Thankful” post aka: my gratitude list from Tuesday night.

My good health, my parent’s good health and the good health of most of the people I love.

Everyone is healthy and my biggest ailment in the past year was a tight it band. May this good luck continue!

Food. Shelter. Heat. Water. Health Insurance.

I mean really.

Southern California.

I live in a place where it’s 70 and sunny almost all the time. How bad can life ever really be?

Izzy.

She is ridiculous and I love her.

Running and yoga.

Almost nothing keeps me more sane and balanced and happy than running and yoga. I am so lucky that I am able to practice both of these things. Running has changed my life in the past almost 3 years <- not an overstatement.

I have a new part time job that I love in a place I love surrounded by things I love.

I’m not blogging the details of it at all but I love it and that is all there is to say.

Red wine, IPA, dirty Hendrick’s martinis, and amazing food.

I have no food allergies, I’m maintaining happy weight and I get to more or less eat what I please. Less than a month ago I had the best martini I’ve had in years with my best friend. Life is good.

This blog.

This blog has provided me so many things: new friends, free samples of products, and an outlet for my thoughts. I really feel like my writing is changing and evolving. I’m excited to write more.

The ability to do social justice work.

While I will be taking a hiatus to study for the bar, I’ve learned in the past few years that I’m at my happiest when I feel like I’m working for the common good. This knowledge is powerful and I trust that I will have a long, fulfilling career doing such work whether it is legal or non legal.

Long walks, good music, drinking delicious lattes, cooking and baking.

I did all these things tonight and they all made me feel better.

The election of this man and this photo of him with his wife.


Sorry to get political, but it’s true.

My increasing resemblance to Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Two amazing women whom I idolize and didn’t pass the bar exam the first time and went on to have formidable careers. In fact Hillary and I are both from North suburban Chicago, both went to woman’s colleges, both were deeply involved in student government, both went to law school and both didn’t pass the bar the first time we took it.

We also both like to drink beer and dance.

And last but certainly not least, my amazing friends, family and boyfriend.

If you want to know what love and support is I highly suggest taking, but not passing, the bar exam. I have had so much love and support thrown my way in the past 5 days. My best friend even sent me my favorite grilled cheese making bread that is only sold in Boston. I’ve received hugs from friends and countless text messages from people. I’m at a point where I don’t want to really talk about the details of not passing or my plan for moving forward but getting supportive messages has been a big bright spot in the past few days. I take none of it for granted and know that I appreciate every nice gesture so, so much.

So, what are you thankful for this year?

Unemployment: As told through baked goods

Admittedly the title of this post is a little misleading. I am not technically unemployed. UCLA Law has a program that compensates me for work at a legal nonprofit, I have another part time job, and I am also applying for jobs. However, the fact still remains that compared to how many hours I was working over the past several years, I have had significantly less work to do the past few months since the bar exam ended. I’m not sure how many hours I worked on average while in law school, but the idea of working only 40 hours a week at a full time job still kinda sounds like a “vacation” to me. I know the grass is always greener on the other side and student schedules have many perks but law school was a huge time commitment especially in the months surrounding exams. The thrill of leaving work and being completely done with nothing to do over the weekend has not worn off yet.

As a result of this additional free time I’ve taken several trips: my big California road trip, Vegas, San Francisco and Boston. In addition I’ve been baking and I would like to give myself a little pat on the back because my skills have improved. I’m not sure why they’ve gotten better. I could be that I’ve been baking longer, perfected my homemade pie crust recipe (thanks Mom) or that I just generally feel less rushed but the product speaks for its self.

For example, do ya’ll remember the Pear and Cranberry Crustata I made for my friend Molly’s fall pot luck 2 years ago? The guests gobbled it up however I was so busy and stressed making it that the final result left something to be desired:

I mean, it was fine but far from the beautiful images in the Flour cookbook.

A few weeks ago I took another stab at it. This time I had all day to create the crustada:

Yep. Pride. It ended up looking more like how it was supposed to look.

Clearly unemployment time had its perks.

I also took a trip to Boston.

While I was in Boston I did what I usually do. Hang out with my besties and do a lot of eating…

Flour.

JP Licks.

My favorite weekend breakfast: Flour’s smoked salmon sandwich. Every part of this sandwich is perfect. The bread is soft yet crusty and the arugula is spicy and crisp.

Breakfast cocktails at Stephi’s on Tremont.

Overall, it was an amazing trip. One of the highlights of my post law life for sure.

Had to share this. It was on the wall in Flour and my mother loved it when I sent it to her.

The end of this week marks the day that I will find out my bar results. I’ve been working out, working, and making plans so that Friday will just be another day. No matter how it turns out I am sad that this mini chapter in my life is ending. Even though being in limbo is getting old I’ve managed to really enjoy this time. I’m just trying to relax and let things unfold as they are supposed to.

The best of the rest

So, over three months after it ended, I am finally wrapping up my posts from my California post-bar road trip with my Dad. I don’t have enough for a single post for each meal but I thought I would highlight the best food I sampled on my trip.

The first major stand out of the trip was this grilled cheese sandwich I ate at a tiny restaurant across the street from the entrance to Hearst Castle. The restaurant was a window that you walk up to. They were advertising grilled cheese on brioche so it was a no brainer. I was expecting a run of the mill grilled cheese but what I got was so much more:

Yes, that is oozing white and yellow cheddar cheese with avocado and bacon. I love the huge chunks of creamy avocado and the thick and crispy bacon. The bread was obviously grilled with butter.

The bacon could not be contained.

Crispy and perfect!

The shop also had a great selection of bottled sodas including these more off beat selections:

As a native Midwesterner I was drawn to the sweet corn soda but I restrained myself from actually purchasing it.

The next notable meal that has yet to see the blog is my lunch at Chez Panisse. Yes, that Chez Panisse.

Lunch at Chez Panisse was a big surprise for me. My parents made the reservation far in advance. For those that are not familiar, Chez Panisse is kind of a big deal. The Berkeley restaurant was started by Alice Waters in 1971. Alice is a pioneer of the local, seasonal and sustainable food movement. As a frequent farmer’s market patron and general fan of the local food movement, I was very excited to have the opportunity to dine in her restaurant.

I did not take that many photos when I was there. To be honest, I didn’t want to be “that blogger girl” with her camera out. My dad, my cousin Mary and I ate a three course meal and left no bite behind. The dining room was warm and inviting, like I was sitting down at a fabulous yet homey dinner party.

I did snag a photo of the amazing dessert I ordered:

Peach Tart with Blackberries and Blackberry ice cream. It was complete and total perfection. I actually do not have words to describe it. Suffice to say, if you ever have the opportunity to eat at Chez Panisse you should hop on it. Side note: for the past month I’ve been playing around in my kitchen with a version of Alice’s simple apple tart and it will be posted on the blog eventually. Promise.

While in SF I also dragged my Father along to the Saturday farmer’s market at the Ferry Building aka the greatest farmers market in existence.

I went to my favorite stand and got the pork sandwich with arugula and caramelized onions for breakfast at 8 am.

So much spicy and crispy arugula!

Gooood morning indeed!

After eating around San Francisco we headed into wine country and the food continued to be delicious.

Do you want to know what I love about Healdsburg? It was 60 degrees in the morning and around 85 during the day. This means that I was able to bundle up a bit and get a warm latte in the morning and then got to enjoy sunshine and warmth in the afternoon.

I insisted on more than one trip to Flying Goat Coffee.

Love.

No photos came out of the first meal we had in Healdsburg but we ate at a great restaurant that was recommended by family friends called Baci. Baci was notable because I had short rib ravioli. It was amazing. Does it get better than one of my favorite kinds of meat wrapped in homemade pasta? No. The answer is no.

Again, at the recommendation of friends we went wine tasting at several vineyards and tasting rooms. Our family friends are serious wine country veterans and gave several great recommendations in the Dry Creek Valley. First we went to the Williamson Vineyard tasting room off the Healdsburg Square. I splurged with some of my law school graduation money and bought a delicious and expensive Cabernet which I am saving for a special occasion.

Next we went to the Talty Vineyard. The tasting room was not supposed to be open when we were there but they opened up just for us to check it out. Talty exclusively produces Zinfandel. I drink red wine almost exclusively and I really like the spiciness of the Zins. The owner of the Talty Winery was so nice and took time with us even though he was not supposed to be open. I highly recommend checking it out if you ever end up in that region.

After we grabbed a quick bite at a pizza restaurant. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant but the pizza was something to behold.

After the pizza we went to the Teldeschi winery also in the Dry Creek Region. Again, great wine, nice people. I ended up taking home a Zinfandel and a Petite Syrah. Overall, it was a great haul!

My absolute favorite meal in Healdsburg was at Scopa. We barely got in because I forgot to make a reservation (whoops). Once we started eating even my Dad conceded that the food was worth the wait.

To start I had an arugula salad with grilled peaches.

This photo isn’t the best but the peaches were fantastic. The warm peaches mixed with the spicy, crisp arugula. I ate many, many peaches on this trip because they were in season at the time. This is probably my favorite way to eat peaches. They’re just so good when they’re grilled.

For the main course I had homemade ravioli. I can’t remember exactly what it was stuffed with but it was one of the best plates of ravioli I have ever been served bar none.

The photo doesn’t do it justice but I had to give Scopa a shout out. The sauce had rich flavoring but was light at the same time. Seriously, anytime you get anywhere near wine country you need to check out Scopa. The menu is all locally sourced and seasonal.

Oh and we ate this for dessert. Because I’ve irresponsibly waited 3 months to write this post I cannot for the life of me remember what it is (Dad- do you remember?) but I remember eating every last bite and wanting more.

I mean, giant slab of homemade whipped cream. So tasty looking, amiright?

Finally, on the way back to LA my Dad generously offered to drive through Santa Barbara to hit a bakery I had eyeballed on our first pass through. I had not been able to get a treat from said bakery because I had a nasty bout of food poisoning on my birthday. While I wanted a post birthday treat I didn’t feel like it was the right time to test my belly with more than my morning coffee. I realize I was probably gambling putting coffee in my system and I didn’t want to push it.

However, on the second trip I was able to successfully enjoy some New York Olive Oil Cake from Our Daily Bread Bakery in Santa Barbara.

I really like olive oil cake in general. I find that the olive oil makes the cake more spongy and moist than usual. I also love the flavor of olive oil. You can taste a hint of olive oil in the cake but overall the cake itself isn’t very rich. Perfect end of the trip treat!

So that does it for my updates from my road trip. I am so fortunate that my Mom planned this amazing trip for my Dad and I. While my Dad did give the occasional side eye as I marched him from food location to food location, I’m glad that I had a travel companion who wanted to eat as much good food as I did.

Back in the Saddle

This was my first week back on a training plan. I have not been on an official plan since over a year ago when I trained for Chicago. It felt good to be back on an actual plan. It’s been a while but I think the break was good. Rather than feeling fatigued by the plan, I feel energized. For those that didn’t see the prior post, I’m training for 13.1 LA in early January and I am using the Runner World sub 2 hr training plan. I tore it out of an old, old issue years ago and I’ve now plastered it to my fridge.

Here’s what I did last week:

Monday – 3 miles walking

Yeah, I’m counting my walking around Boston because I forgot how much walking I do there and I forgot how tired it makes my feet. This is why I never had a pair of shoes in Boston last longer than 1 season. I basically walked from Simmons to Flour in Cambridge and then to the T stop to go to the airport.

Oh, don’t worry; I managed to refuel with a sticky bun!

Tuesday – 4 miles easy

This run was hard. I was coming back from vacation and my liver and tummy were not happy about it.

Wednesday – 4 miles easy

I took the same route as Tuesday but the run was overall much easier. I had kind of a blah day and it felt so good to come home, lace up the shoes and hit the pavement. I also took no walk breaks.

Thursday – 5 miles tempo (1 mile warm up, 7:32, 8:32, 8:48, 1 mile cool down)

My first tempo run! I mapped out a one mile out and back and ran it three times plus a run to warm up and cool down. I went out way, way too fast on the first mile and crashed and burned a little bit. The final mile especially was struggles central. It happens. Now I know what I always suspected, that I start too quickly.

Friday – 7 miles easy

I did my first long run in a while, going 7 miles. It was nice to do a long run, since it’s been a while and be back on my old marathon training paths. My legs were pretty fried after the prior 3 days and I took the back half easy and took a stretch break half way through. I didn’t time this long run.

Saturday – rest

Sunday – rest

I had a festive weekend and I knew that I wasn’t going to want to run hence the back to back rest days. My legs were really shot on Friday night but feel 100% now on Sunday so that’s all good I guess. The signs on increased mileage are coming back (oh hello blisters). Overall, I’m really glad that I’m back into a training plan.

Restaurants: A Love Story

Sorry for the lack of original posts recently. I have spent the past two weeks more or less on continuous vacation traveling to San Francisco and then Boston. On the flight back to the west coast last night this post that I wrote as a guest blog for Melissa almost a year and a half ago was weighing on my mind. My trip back to Boston was amazing. Long time readers know I went to college in Boston and lived there for 4 years before a moved to LA a little over three years ago. I felt pangs of homesickness for Boston as the plane flew west. I reached into my monogrammed LL Bean tote and pulled out my brie and roasted chicken sandwich from my favorite bakery. The taste of the food was comforting, brought back many old memories and genuinely tasted like home. I was reminded of this post I wrote about why I love restaurants and by extension, food in general. The food I create and the restaurant meals I consume are sort of the mile markers of my life if you will. I never cross posted it here so I thought now would be a good time to share. I hope you enjoy.

***

I have had a lifelong love affair with restaurants. According to my Mother, I went to my first restaurant at the tender age of 1 week old. It was a breakfast place near my parent’s house. My Mother is a fantastic cook but pretty much not a day went by in my youth where I didn’t ask if we could go out to dinner. Why? Who knows! I was ordering chicken fingers with honey mustard at literally every restaurant I went to.

Eating a scone at Blenheim Palace in London, England; May 1989, 21 months old. International foodie. Clearly, I was intently focused.

My love of restaurant dining has stayed with me since my first trip when I was one week old. I have an unnatural love of bread baskets, fancy bathrooms, menus, restaurant décor, being waited on, and all the other trappings of restaurants. Luckily, 20 some years later I found myself living in LA which is basically a foodie playground. I still love restaurants and I make it my mission to go to as many as possible.


So why do I love restaurants?

Trying new types of cuisine

One reason I love going to restaurants is that I get to try new and interesting cuisine. Where else are you going to try authentic Ethiopian food? Sitting around the mesob (which means table) eating delicious meats and veggies on a large pancake-like bread circle is an experience you can’t really have at home. I love trying food I’ve never had before or new and interesting combinations. It helps that I’m not a very picky eater and I trust most chefs to produce tasty dishes.

One of my favorite ethnic cuisines is sushi. There is an amazing sushi restaurant near my parent’s house that produces visually stunning rolls, like this…

It’s supposed to be a turtle! I could never recreate this which, to me, makes the meal even more special.

International dining is always a new and fun experience too! I love French food (probably because I love anything with a liberal application of butter) and dining in Istanbul was delicious and fascinating. The restaurants in Istanbul served all the meals in small plates. There was so much feta, eggplant, olives, chickpeas, and lamb. It was Mediterranean foodie heaven. Plus, international dining teaches you wonderful lessons about other parts of the world. Like if you order a martini with olives in Istanbul you will get this:

Yes. That is a glass of vermouth with a dish of green olives. See! Restaurant dining is a rich, cultural learning experience that allows you to try new things and expand your personal borders!

Getting waited on

No lie, I think one of the main reasons I loved eating out as a child was because I got waited on. It’s sad but true. As kids my brother and I always had to set and clear the table. I hated this chore and used all kinds of trickery to avoid it (spoiler alert: it never worked). Restaurants were a magic place where we didn’t need to clear the table and we were able to order ice cream for dessert. Even at greasy holes in the wall, we didn’t have to lay out napkins for everyone in the family. It was magical.

I still love going to restaurants for this reason. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking, but it’s nice to not have to do the dishes.

High quality food

Obviously, sometimes we go out because it’s the path of least resistance. It’s late and nothing looks better than fast food. But many times I go out to eat and get a truly special meal, one way better than I could have produced on my own.

Like crispy fried chicken.

A beautiful tart.

Or a decadent dessert.

Yep, drool -> meet the keyboard.

Making friends

A fun byproduct of going to the same restaurant countless times is that you develop friendships with the owners and the people who work there. As a little girl I always had breakfast at the same restaurant with my dad and we got to know the staff well. They became family friends and every trip home in college was marked with visits to Green Bay Café to catch up. One of my cherished memories from growing up is having a restaurant owner and family friend divide a thick chocolate milkshake into two cups for my brother and I while we sat at the funky, retro inspired bar. It’s the friends we shared these memories with that makes them special. The people you meet and the connections you make build everyday life.

I still love making friends at my favorite eateries and it makes me want to go back. For example, one of my favorite LA haunts, Tavern in Brentwood played host to President Obama last week so of course I stopped in to get all the details over the weekend!

I love soaking in an exciting atmosphere and Tavern was abuzz last weekend. I met several new people and people I ready knew to talk about what went on. Seeing their enthusiasm put a smile on my face. It was exciting and the perfect demonstration of how restaurants can be community centers.

The ritual of eating: food is love

Probably the main reason I love restaurants is that meals out mark all the major events in my life. Lunches and dinners are organized to celebrate graduations, homecomings, reunions, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. I can remember what I ate when I was accepted to law school, when I graduated from college, when I turned 21, when I reunited with an influential college mentor, and when I bonded with my best friends. Food, and for me restaurant meals, mark the major occasions in our lives and the minor daily event that bring us closer to people. Meals are a ritual, they bring people together.

Celebrating graduation with friends.

Bonding with blog friends, Amanda and Kaitlin, over sausage. Yes, sausages in a beer garden can be considered a restaurant.

With my best girlfriends in the college’s dining hall, where so many memories were made over meals.

Restaurants and I have an epic romance and I don’t foresee it ending anytime soon.