This week better be boring & the LA Times Festival of Books

Oh friends, so much has happened since the last time we spoke. Last week was one of the most chaotic weeks I’ve had in a long time. I had a pretty crummy week outside of the bombings on Monday is Boston. In addition, the whole Watertown standoff actually took place 2 blocks from one of my closest friend’s homes. I was totally on edge all day Friday and was so happy when the police were able to arrest the suspect alive. As happy as I was, the whole situation left me feeling bizarrely homesick and emotional on Saturday. I know it’s weird to say you want to be in a place where tragedy is unfolding. I have so many friends left in Boston. I love the city so much. I moved there by choice when I was 18 and I didn’t leave for lack of love.

Compared to what everyone in Boston went though, how I feel is almost nothing. I tried to spend time just snuggling this baby and tried to keep myself busy.

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In an effort to distract myself, I decided to hit up the LA Times Festival of Books on Sunday. I’ve always wanted to go but for the past three years I’ve had finals around this time and just never got it together to go. I definitely needed the distraction on Sunday to pull me out of my funk so I decided to trek to enemy territory (aka USC) to check out the festival.

So here’s the deal: the festival is free (after you pay $10 parking). There are booths with authors, book stores etc. all over the campus. Then there are various stages hosting free events with various authors (more on that later) and finally there are “conversations” on various topics throughout the festival. The conversations only cost $1 to attend! I was perusing the list of speakers and I saw a panel on Guns in America. The panel featured a UCLA Law professor whose class I never took but whose writing I’ve followed, Adam Winker, and Constitutional Law all star Erwin Chemerinsky. The panel was rounded out by Paul Barrett.

The conversation was very interesting. It only went for 1 hour but I wished it went for two. Professor Winkler started by talking about the history of gun regulation and gun culture. Then the discussion turned to the history and interpretation of the second amendment and the gun regulations that just failed to make it out on Congress. The whole discussion was very fascinating and enlightening. All of their books are going on my must read list.

After the panel I made my way to the food trucks. I quickly decided to grab a pork belly burrito from the White Rabbit Truck which serves Vietnamese food. I sat in the glorious sunshine and ate this delicious burrito.

After lunch I walked around in the sun, checked out the booths and bought some discount books.

I managed to snag some awesome books including the Tartine cookbook! I was actually at Tartine 1 week ago (separate post) and I am pumped to dig into the book.

After about an hour of aimless wandering I made my way to the cooking stage. Ludo Ludebvre was doing a cooking demonstration out of his new book Ludo Bites. Ludo is known for his tiny restaurants and pop up dining. I’ve blogged about it before, but I am a huge fan of the Ludo Truck. Ludo made smoked veal tartar.

Don’t know that I’ll be smoking veal tartar in my kitchen anytime soon but it was great to see Ludo work. He made his own mayonnaise which seemed really easy with the help of a food processor. He also said that he could change the recipe from veal to tuna, which I would consider doing. I’m just not too keen on cooking veal. He also did a Q and A after the demonstration. Ludo really likes to cook with butter. Can you blame him? I love French food and his new restaurant Trois Mec is now on my must try list.

Overall, I had a really nice time at the book festival. I wish I had planned more in advance and attended more of the conversations! I highly recommend checking out this event next year if you didn’t this year.

For Boston.

It’s been a hard day.

Almost 9 years ago in the summer of 2004 I made my first trip to Boston. I remember vividly stepping off the T at Hynes Convention Center and into the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. It was love at first sight. A year later I moved to Boston to attend Simmons College.

As a student I would walk though the city and want to pinch myself. The city of Boston is a truly beautiful place: the cobblestone streets, green grass in the Public Garden, and even the dirty water in the Charles River. I learned all the streets, restaurants, and bars. I studied in the Boston Public Library and shopped in Copley Plaza. I attended Trinity Church and practiced yoga at Bikram Yoga Copley Square. I ate my graduation lunch at Stephanie’s just off Copley Square. Without a doubt, my favorite weekend in Boston was Patriots Day. Usually the weather is beautiful, the Red Sox are playing, people are out and about. Patriot’s day is a holiday and we would always be out and about watching the race. Hell, when I lived in Back Bay I lined Boylston Ave. a block from the explosions and watched the race. Patriot’s Day is the best day of the year in Boston.

A few years later I began running and fell in love with the marathon distance. For those who run, you know the Boston Marathon the way that I do. It’s a runner’s Holy Grail. You have to qualify in order to run. It’s the oldest marathon. It’s a marathon that Katherine Switzer integrated for women in the 1960’s. As a runner the Boston Marathon is a big deal but as a former Bostonian and runner, it holds a special place for me.

That’s why today has been a traumatic day. I wasn’t in Boston but this attack feels intensely personal.

We run marathons to test the human body and spirit. After months of training we take on the challenge of a 26.2 mile course. By the end, with the finish line in sight, we push ourselves with the knowledge that the people who love us and support us are at the finish line. Finishing a marathon is an emotional experience. So much goes into the race and the high at the end is unparalleled.

Seeing the terror at the finish line, blocks from my former home is horrifying and saddening. I cannot see or hear about the trauma occurring to the victims without getting emotional. I cannot hear stories from witnesses referencing parts of Boston I love without getting emotional. I know that if I were still living in Boston I would have been out watching.

However, I am not surprised at reports of runners continuing running from the finish line to Mass General to give blood. I am not surprised at many of my friends posting that they have beds open for those who have nowhere to go. Luckily, everyone I know is safe. Seeing the outpouring of love today has helped make a difficult day a little bit less difficult.

Marathons are about communities coming together to support runners and the idea that amazing feats are possible. Marathons are about celebrating achievement and hard work. They are overwhelmingly happy occasions. I don’t know what else to say. I love Boston. I love marathons. I hold the great hope that the city and the running community will rally around those injured and the families of those killed and the Boston Marathon will be great again.

“Triumph over adversity that’s what the marathon is all about. Nothing in life can’t triumph after that” -Kathrine Switzer

Boston Day 2: coffee, manicures and zumba

After an action packed first day in Boston I was so relieved to be able to sleep in on Thursday. Soon after waking I reported for bridal party duty. The nearest train stop to the bride’s house is actually Harvard.

I have always enjoyed Harvard Square. There are some great restaurants, coffee shops, shopping and bars to peruse while in the area. I personally have always liked Harvard Square. It has a kind of hippy vibe, like a less intense version of Venice.

After bridal duty I checked into some of my favorite spots.

Like Crema for coffee.

Crema is an adorable and delicious café in Harvard Square. It is independently owned and if you haven’t checked it out yet and you live in Boston then you should! I ordered a non fat, iced latte.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Starbucks but this really is better. I think you can taste the difference.

Then I decided to shop at the Harvard outpost of my favorite consignment store, Second Time Around.

Second Time Around has a great selection of clothing but I wasn’t able to find anything at this location (remember I got the $15 never been worn Tom’s the day before).

I did see these, a sure sign that you are back in Boston:

Don’t worry, no Lilly Pulitzer for me. This style would never fly in LA. Don’t get me wrong: I love prep but this is a bit too much.

I also restrained myself from buying a hot pink Vineyard Vines Blazer. I called my Mom and she talked me off the ledge. That is why God invented Mom’s, to stop you from making rash fashion choices.

Then I got a manicure so I would be wedding ready (clearly, it was also time for more caffeine).

Before I got on the T to go back to Carolyn’s I decided to hit my favorite Boston cup cake spot: Sweet.

Sweet didn’t open this location until after I left Boston but I frequented the Back Bay location since it opened a few years ago. They have many delicious flavors, were recently named “best cupcake” by Improper Bostonian. They pretty much lead the cup cake trend in Boston and we all know I take my cup cakes seriously. Plus, it’s adorable inside.

After spilling my life story to the women behind the counter (“I went to college here, and moved to LA, and went to the Back Bay location, and I write a food blog and I love Susie Cakes” seriously I’m the freak show) I looked over the display cases for the perfect cake.

Facebook cupcake = sure sign that you’re in Harvard Square:

After narrowing down all of the options I settled on the lemon and raspberry cupcake.

The cake was lemon with raspberry jam filling and a cream cheese based frosting. You couldn’t really taste the cream cheese; it tasted more vanilla-lemoney. This was probably the best cupcake I’ve ever had from Sweet. The frosting wasn’t too sweet and the lemon and raspberry flowed together effortlessly. Raspberry and lemon might be one of my favorite fruit flavor combos ever.

I also bought a “frosting shot” for 50 cents. I enjoyed it on the way to the T. I knew that the cupcake had a cream cheese based frosting and I was really craving some butter cream.

Is this not the best concept ever? I think it is!

After cupcakes I clearly needed to workout. Carolyn invited me to go to Zumba with her. I had never tried Zumba before but I’ve read all about it in the blog world. I was pretty sure I would be totally lost for the entire class and I went into it expecting to sweat and just jump around to compensate for having no clue what I was doing. Overall, I LOVED ZUMBA! I seriously am going to work this in as cross training. UCLA does offer classes and I need to make it a priority after classes start again. Zumba is a hip hop and Latin based dance class. Seriously, it’s socially appropriate to booty pop; I am so there! The class was intense but not too challenging. Even though I was sweating buckets I didn’t feel like I was working out. It was epic.

Afterwards we enjoyed wine in a public square near Carolyn’s house. It was a perfect vacation night!

What would be your perfect vacation night? Drinking wine with friends, having fun and laughing my tush off is pretty much perfection in my book.

Chocolate Chip Macaroons

This week the Flour Cookbook made its triumphant return.

I’m slowly working my way though the book. Thus far I have made:

I’ve never made macaroons before but I love them so I thought I should give it a shot. Obviously I added chocolate chips because chocolate makes everything tasty. These were way easier that I thought they would be.

And before I knew it my apartment smelled like toasted coconut and I had this…

Ignore the fact that there is a bite out of the side of that one on the right. 😉 I made a half batch and refrigerated the rest of the dough. In total I have about 40 macaroons on my hands. You always have friends when you have chocolate chip macaroons.

Cheddar and Scallion Scones

Another day, another amazing creation from the Flour Cookbook. These scones are delicious and super easy to make!

It’s as simple as combining the dry ingredients…

combining all the wet ingredients…

I am having a love affair with Creme Fraiche. So much more amazing than sour cream!

Combining the two together and placing them on a baking dish is a circle…

Brushing with yoke…

Wipe the drool with your apron…

and bake. Wait and wait and wait while your apartment starts to smell like cheese. These babies smell ah-maz-ing! And then, they are ready. Everybody out of the oven.

Again, wipe the drool off with your apron. Cut them up and enjoy the best breakfast ever.

This scone is really very light and had cheese melted in the middle. Does it get any better than that? Nope. I am surprised by how easy the recipes in the Flour Cookbook really are.


The treats are special and decadent but totally do able. It just goes to show how little ingredients, like creme fraiche, can make a dish unique and even more delicious.

Melted cheese, soft interior, and crispy crust.

I realize that this is like foodie torture, making such a good savory breakfast item and not sharing the recipe. There is a cure! Order the book and make them for yourself!

I am off to a pumpkin patch so that I can pretend like its really fall! Hope ya’ll are having a happy Sunday!