When Josh and I first started dating, everything was about where we were gonna eat. Most of it was not fancy stuff. We went on excursions trying to find where to get the best tacos in LA or where to get the best cemitas or even where to get the best BBQ. We were always getting in our cars and going to places we had never been to, together.
One of the places for burgers we went to was Pie ‘n Burger. It was my first time but Josh grew up right down the street so he was super familiar. He always came for breakfast foods (the pancakes are his favorite).
Eeeee! Last week I had the super fun pleasure of going to Copenhagen, Denmark for a whole week. There was lots of eating and boat riding and bike riding. It’s the most charming, quaint city. It’s big enough to be filled with amazing food, clothes, shopping and culture yet small enough to not leave you with an ounce of stress.
A big dose of fun was added into the mix because Yossy and Michelle were my travel and eating homies. We ate casual food, fancy food and everything in between.
It was my first time in Scandinavia ever and I was happy to learn a few things:
1. Danish is a v v hard language. When I said pronounced words as they looked, like, in English, they were completely different from the actual pronunciation. For instance, the most important word I learned to pronounce was the word HYGGE, which basically means cozy AF (my life mantra).
So, us English speakers would pronounce it ‘hi-gue’ when it actuality it’s pronounced ‘hue-guel’. LIKE, WHAT?!
One of my favorite childhood memories is a summer I spent on the coast of Spain. When we arrived to the small port town, we met up with my dad’s first cousin (and her family) who had recently moved there. It was 10pm, way past all of the kids’ bedtimes, BUT IT WAS TIME FOR DINNER.
The restaurant was in a quinta, unsuspecting and hidden from the street; when we entered, it was a full-blown party. Twinkling lights were hung above families and friends around large tables, talking, telling stories, laughing. In the center of each table were huge paella pans filled with perfectly cooked Valencia rice, a medley of freshly caught seafood. And sangria, lots and lots of sangria. Even as a teenager, I knew at the time, as we were eating and laughing, that it was an experience that I would one day be nostalgic about.
For this post, I teamed up with one of my favorite stores of all time, Anthropologie. It’s no secret that the majority of things I buy for this here blog are from Anthro, so I was SO excited to be able to do this with them.
A few weeks before the shoot, I tested the paella and it totally took me back to childhood because this was the dish my parents always made on Sundays, when special people were coming over.
There are a few things that I think are super important when making paella:
1. The type of rice is mucho importante. I like using Valencia rice (you can find it online or at Whole Foods); if you can’t find it, then Arborio (risotto rice) is the next best thing.
Every summer I have these very grand ideas that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year that I go camping. On the surface camping seems like SO much fun. The campfires, cooking salmon over cedar planks, the rivers, the s’mores. But when I begin to logistically think about it, I’m not so sure. I have a tendency to over-pack. It’s taken me years to pack appropriately for a 3-day weekend so I know that when it comes to camping I’ll probably bring my entire apartment.
That will of course to lead to too much work, so every year, I abandon my camping ambitions. BUT! Luckily there are picnics, which are way easier. I know they’re not the same but you sort of get that nature-y-let’s-eat-outside-vibe going on.
Guess what? I made dis (see above), alongside my publisher, Rodale, and awesome, incredibly talented illustrator, Amber Day.
It’s a coloring book that you can actually cook from. Cookbook meets coloring book with illustrations that resemble real life. Read: an illustration of Amelia trying to steal waffles because that’s my real life!
This book is so fun and exciting and I hope that you color your cute self all the way to comfort because that’s what it’s intended to do.
In this book you’ll find sprinkles falling from the sky onto a big piece of fairy bread. You’ll find simple doggie treats that I love to make Amelia, grain-free of course. You’ll also find berries exploding out of a berry gin and tonic that I love. And you’ll find the coziest of cozy chocolate chip cookies. The recipes are simple, easy breezy. Maybe the easiest that I’ve ever made, which for me is a lil’ difficult to do. But all of them are delicious and all of them are SO fun to color.
It was interesting creating and thinking about food in terms of color. There were so many foods I wanted to include but I had to ask myself, “Would it be fun to color?!” I found out that I cook and eat so many things that are brown and white and more brown. Not so fun to color, you know? It was such a unique process, one I can’t wait to share with you later on (more on the-making-of soon!).
In the meantime, here is the cover! The book comes out November 15, 2016 (yes this year and yes, I’ve been keeping this one a secret for a lil’ while now, I’m sorry).
A few weeks ago, before the world imploded, I went to Cabo San Lucas and I’d like to tell you about it.
I went for my best friend’s wedding where I was maid of honor which also meant there needed to be a speech in front of many people I didn’t know, of all ages. The speech needed to be both funny, sweet and emotional. Not an easy task! But I somehow survived. I was actually SO nervous that I didn’t really enjoy the day leading up to it because there was a gigantic pit in my stomach. Have you given one of these before?
Within my first few days in Mexico, I learned there is nothing else that beats having breakfast with your feet in the sand, a Michelada in hand and this view:
In the words of Chef David Chang: “The best food in LA isn’t made by white people.” Whenever someone comes to LA and wants recommendations, my list is usually a mile long. And I always, always tell my friends to visit a few places (not all) nestled within the corners of Korea Town, San Gabriel Valley and East LA. My favorite part of LA is how diverse it is. I’m not sure there’s anywhere in the country where in one day you can eat ridiculously authentic Szechuan food, Korean food from Seoul and Mexican food from Oaxaca.
If I ever move out of LA, the diverse food and people will be what I will miss the most. It’s what makes this city so beautiful and wonderful and a joy to eat through.
For this post, I teamed up with Square Cash, which can be comparable to Venmo but slightly different. The biggest plus for me with Square Cash is that money can be transferred instantly. That means no waiting 2 to 3 days for it to post to your bank account.
If I go to a restaurant with a group, I usually always offer to pay and have people pay me so I can collect credit card points. (If you have a Chase Sapphire or Amex, you probably love double points on dining out too.) And because I usually volunteer to pick up the whole tab and then have people pay me, I usually want the money right away so I can instantly pay my credit card. Square Cash is awesome because it does just that. It makes transferring money to friends fast, easy, instant and free.
The guide encompasses some of my favorite “non-white eats” but it also includes my favorite fancy places, too. I love these places! This guide is going to be a multi-part post, but I wanted to start with my favorite part of LA, my neighborhood: the eastside.
Ahgassi-Gopchang – Korean BBQ spot that has the best open air vibes. I’ve been eating here like once a week for the past few months and I am pretty obsessed with it. My favorite thing is the tripe kimchi fried rice—it’s bomb AF.
Alimento – I had my birthday dinner here this past year and the staff is the type that remembers your name and knows that you’re obsessed with the chopped salad (my most Postmate-ed dinner ever!). I especially love the tortellini en brodo (it’s similar to a soup dumpling—incredible), the bagna caoda, pig in a blanket and of course the smoothest, most decadent chicken liver mousse (pictured below).
Bar Ama – Tex-mex food cooked up by Chef Josef Centeno. The cheese dip is so epic. There have been times when I’ve been on diets (yes, I go on those too) and Bar Ama is surprisingly one of my go-tos. I’ll order the large format mole chicken and a few dishes from the veggie section, and I’ll feel leaving great!But if you’re not watching what you eat, then order everything, especially the cheese dip.
Bestia – This is where Josh and I go for special occasions. Chef Ori Menashe makes decadent, delicious Italian food that is amazing, special and interesting but not so weird and fancy where you’re like, what is on my plate. It’s a place that makes you feel good. Make a reservation well in advance because it’s always booked up.
Button Mash – Echo Park arcade/restaurant. The most fun place in my hood. I love the dan dan noodles, the wings and the wine list (put together by my homie and wine person, Whitney Adams). I went a few weeks ago and drank a grapefruit spritzer and played Street Fighter and Mortal Combat; sort of the perfect night ever.
Corazon y Miel – I cannot tell you how many Micheladas I’ve had in my life. Way too many. And this place makes the best one I’ve ever had. Their food draws inspiration from Mexico, along with central and South America. My second favorite thing is their almost-Peruvian-style ceviche that has lots of cubed cucumber and peanuts in it, served with chips. Also, the vibe is so positive and neighborhood-y. I love it.
Dinette – Little casual breakfast spot in Echo Park. I come here all the time, mainly for a quick meeting or breakfast. The waffle is my absolute favorite in the city—it’s a must-order/eat.
Din Tai Fung (I got to the Glendale location but the other two are in San Gabriel Valley) – Every single time I think I’m over Din Tai Fung, I go back and then re-realize how perfect it is. Dumplings and rice cakes forever! Everyone knows about Din Tai Fung but it’s still a keeper.
El Mar Truck – If you ever find yourself sweating on the eastside of LA and want something refreshing and cheap, go here. The ceviche and fish are served in this cucumber crema sauce on a tostada. Sit in the park with a Mexican coke. It’s the perfect $5 lunch.
Grand Central Market– Great for during the day, though they’re open for dinner, too. My favorites are MadCapra, Wexler’s Deli, Egg Slut, McConnell’s Ice Cream and G&B Coffee.
Guisados – My friend Mando owns this place with his dad and he got mad when I didn’t include it but it’s BECAUSE I FORGOT. There are too many good places in LA. I do love this place; and I’ve loved it for such a long time. My favorite thing on the menu is the quesadilla. It’s not a normal quesadilla that you would make yourself after school. Grilled panela is topped with chorizo served on a homemade corn tortilla–it’s blissful.
La Azteca Tortillera – The best flour tortilla I’ve ever had. If you want a cheap, delicious burrito, then go here. A bonus: this past Christmas I came here to pick up masa for tamales and it was literally the most flawless masa dough in the entire world and cost me $5. SUCH A GEM.
Little Sister – A somewhat newly-opened Vietnamese restaurant downtown. I’ve only been once but every single dish that passed by, I wanted to come back to try.
Hama Sushi – There are dozens of sushi places in Little Tokyo; this is my favorite because it’s not SO expensive where I feel like I need to get a second job to support my sushi habit, but the fish is so fresh and delicious. The space is cozy and is very 80s in the best way possible.
Hamji-Park – Pork ribs and pork stew are the two things to order here. They are incredible and perfect in every single way. I’ve been trying to find someone to teach me how to make the pork stew, so if you know someone…
Kazu-Nori – An inexpensive, quick-service hand-roll place. I come here all the time for a fast and healthy lunch and/or dinner. The fish is always fresh and the nori is so crispy that it makes my eyes turn into heart-eyed emojis.
Margume Monzo – If you’re cold and want a bowl of udon with freshly rolled noodles, come here. The udon gets weird; think carbonara, uni, etc., but I get the very fresh, summer-y vongole every time. It’s surprisingly light yet still totally fills me up.
Mexicali Taco – Very casual taco spot that has so much more than burritos and enchiladas. In fact, you won’t find those here. Instead the food is focused on dishes from the Baja-region of Mexicali, Mexico. My favorites are the vampiros, cachetadas and queso fundido.
Night + Market Song – Spicy Thai street food that is so hot but you still keep eating. WHY?!?! It’s loud with bright pink walls and 90s posters of Cindy Crawford. It doesn’t get better.
Pollo a La Brasa Western – The chicken of my childhood! Peruvian rotisserie chicken that’s cooked over burning wood. The green aji (spicy sauce) is so epic. I’m not a fan of most of their sides but the fried yucca and a chicken is the way to go.
O.B. Bear – The best Korean fried chicken in all of Los Angeles. Or at least in my opinion. Go late, order beer and a few plates of fried chicken. The vibe is dive-y and so, so awesome.
Sqirl – It’s become an LA classic. It’s a delicious breakfast. Yes, the lines are sometimes insane but go around 10am on a weekday and you’re all good. Everything is good, and I mean everything, but I have a very soft and loving heart for the brioche toast with ricotta and jam—it’s perfect. Also, the malva bread. They’ll warm it up for you; one bite and you may pass out.
Taco Zone – My late night taco spot. I like the vegetarian burrito and mulitas with al pastor. The women who run this truck call me “mija” when I order and I have a soft spot for that. If I ever leave LA, I’ll probably miss eating tacos in this Vons parking lot the most.
Next up, Part 2 & 3!!
(This post is sponsored by Square Cash, my favorite way to send moniezz. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep A Cozy Kitchen cozy.)
One more month of spring! This entire season has been mostly cloudy with chilly mornings and I’ve been fully taking advantage before summer hits.
My favorite early morning spring activity has been hitting up Hollywood Farmer’s Market because the produce is insanely beautiful and delicious-looking. I usually head in with only like five things I want to buy but end up leaving with SO much more. This past Sunday I went with the intention of buying everything spring-like. I succeeded, grandly. I left with fresh elderflower, beautiful asparagus from Zuckerman’s Farm, fava beans, bright purple kale and the cutest most adorable quail eggs.
I’ve thrown a few spring brunches in the past and I have a few guidelines I always follow.
1. Have one or two dishes that can be made ahead. It’s way too much work for one person to make everything the morning of. I made the muffins and lemonade the day before so the day of, all I had to do was throw together the toasts and the hash.
2. The food doesn’t have to be ready when people arrive. I always have to remind myself of this. Delegate tasks. If you need the drinks to be filled or potatoes to be diced, ask one of your friends. They’ll feel useful!
3. Only serve food family-style. No one needs coursed out meals. Make things that can be served in big pots or in large format dishes. It will make your life SO much easier.
4. Play fun music. Play Drake or 90s hip-hop. Basically pick music that will make people almost want to dance but not really. Leave the Radiohead and more serious music for a dinner-time party.
5. Make clean-up easy on yourself. I like these Glad® OdorShield® Gain™ Original Scent with Febreze® trash bags because they smell so fresh! and actually have a 5-day guarantee (no smell!). Nothing is worse than smelly anything. These are actually the trash bags I use all the time (even before this post) because they are super strong. If you’ve ever had the bottom of a (very full!) trash bag break as you were about to put it in the dumpster, you will understand the scars that go along with that incident. These don’t require you to double bag them for the smell or the possibility of breaking. And if you’d like a coupon (because we all love coupons), here’s one for $2 off!
One of my favorite “Live” tips in The Year of Cozy is the page all about “Doing Nothing.” I’m not the best at doing nothing and it’s taken me a long time to feel ok about it. It’s a constant exercise!
The same goes with taking a lunch break in the middle of the day. I usually skip lunch and just snack on whatever I’m making in the kitchen. (This includes babka, cookies and other baked goodies-—not the best move).
This year I’ve been consciously trying to take 10 or 15 minute breaks, eating a small healthy meal or drinking a smoothie or fresh juice. I usually never do a full meal or 30 to 1 hour lunch because I’m constantly dealing with losing light for photos and honestly, I’d much rather take a short break and just power through the work.
But I do find my short break in the middle of the day SO necessary.
Naked Juice sent me their new line of cold pressed juices to try and I’m very very into them. They fit the bill perfectly for that short break.
Probably the thing I like the best (besides the taste) is that they last much longer (with no preservatives). The ones I have expire in mid March! DOPE!