Food

The Yosemite Five

Last year, I got the chance to start the new year with a road trip to Grand Canyon! It was my first time hiking in the snow and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to adventure with!

I was fortunate enough to travel again in the start of this new year! I went to Yosemite for the second time in the span of 9 months. Though my first time to Yosemite was in the spring, I was more curious to experience Yosemite in the winter with the snow!

On our way from SoCal to Yosemite, we made our first stop at Benaddiction in Fresno. We were pretty hungry after driving so many miles and found a place to eat via Yelp. It’s a small restaurant that can probably fit a max of 30 people. Due to the small capacity of the restaurant, the wait for us to be seated took some time. We saw hangry customers leave after waiting several minutes. If you plan to check out Benaddiction, keep in mind that it’s a small restaurant, it gets busy, and they close at 3PM!

Benaddiction is known for their breakfast and brunch entrees. I ended up getting a burger because it was past lunch time by the time we got seated and I wasn’t feeling breakfast. The burger was packed with a huge slice of tomato and shredded lettuce. The burger wasn’t anything that special as I expected but it did the job filling me up since I was hungry!

After lunch, we kept driving north until we got to our AirBnB place. We had a hard time finding our place since the street signs were hidden and it was getting dark too. We circled around the neighborhood for quite a long time and somehow we found it after lucking out on a turn!

Note to future self: Check-in at AirBnB place before the sun sets so it’s easy to find especially in rural areas where they like to hide street signs and house numbers.

Once we got to our AirBnB place, we chilled for a bit and then prepped for dinner. We had some fancy lasagna from Costco with a side of corn and garlic bread. We raised our glasses with Martinelli’s Apple Cider and made a toast for our trip! Can’t go wrong with that! While we were eating, we played some classical music in the background and ate with our pinky’s up. We fancy.

We went for a walk in the dark after dinner. Literally, it was pitch black outside. I had to hold onto some hoodies to make sure I was walking in the right direction. I may or may not be afraid of the dark. Don’t judge!

It was beautiful outside seeing some stars but it was also scary. I wasn’t sure if some animal was going to pop out of nowhere. It was just the five of us walking down a lonely road.

We ended first day with an episode of The Man in the High Castle. It was my first time ever hearing about it but I surprisingly enjoyed it. I think everyone else knocked out except me and maybe one or two others. I can’t remember who knocked out because I was really into the show.

The next day, we packed our lunches in the morning and headed out officially to Yosemite National Park!

We actually had a rough start to Yosemite. We entered the park and we were required to put chains on. We purchased some chains from Walmart earlier and that was not a good idea.

I repeat it was not a good idea.

Probably for a good hour, we struggled with them chains. They were straight up real chains with links on them.

First, we had a hard time putting them on in the cold, very cold weather. Once we got them on, we were driving around and something was not right. We heard some clunking noises. As we were driving, we passed by a bunch of Asian tourists standing outside. They were watching us drive by and the look on their faces was priceless. They looked concerned for us. Oh, you could tell they were deeply concerned.

We pulled over and thought we knew where the clunky noise was coming from so we tightened up the chains. Then we started driving again but heard the noise again! We pulled over for two or three more times to tighten things up. We were pretty confident for the first few times that we figured out where the noise was coming from but at some point, we were like, “Let’s be safe and just go back and buy new chains from that guy.”

We backtracked and bought chains from the guy on the side of the road. That was probably the best idea ever. Those chains were thin, easy to put on, and definitely quiet. And no tourist looked at us weird.

I think we spent two hours in total trying to figure out our chain issue. BUT! It was great teamwork and we all learned something new that morning. Too bad we don’t have a picture of us with the crazy chains. Maybe some moments aren’t meant to be captured.

Ok, now onto the fun stuff! We didn’t hike any strenuous trails since they were all closed due to the weather. We made multiple stops within the park and took a brisk walk to see some beautiful sites!

Tunnel View

On our way to Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall

Even though the picture below is blurry from the mist, I still had to share it because there was so much potential in this picture looking beautiful.

Yosemite Valley

Major PC to Kevin! Thanks for taking this awesome shot!

On our way to Vernal Fall

Photo credit to whoever was at the bottom either Kevin or Susan! 


We ended up not being able to hike up the whole trail to Vernal Fall. It was blocked off midpoint because of the snow. It was still nice being able to hike up halfway and have our lunches up there with the drizzle.

We were able to make a lot of stops within one day and experience the beauty of Yosemite with the snow. There were moments when it was snowing and felt so magical! Going to Yosemite during the winter is a MUST! It’s a complete whole different experience compared to any other season.

I heard that you’re able to ice skate somewhere outside in Yosemite. If the opportunity comes around again to go to Yosemite during the winter, I hope to ice skate then!

The trip was short and sweet! I’m thankful that we played in the snow and that no car was damaged from the chains! Yay, us!

 

Birthday Extravaganza – Part 2

My coworkers threw me a fiesta! Huge thanks to my department for making this all colorful and having endless amounts of sweets on desk from Snickers bars to donuts to Nothing Bundt Cakes!

Oh and yes, that is a piñata hanging from the ceiling!

One of my coworkers highly encouraged me to take one of those hipster, Pinterest-y pictures with my birthday cake and balloons. It was one hilarious photoshoot taken at work that I could not contain myself. I’m surprised that I didn’t drop the cake!

By the way, the piñata is stuffed with candy! Thanks Eric!

Thanks friends for wearing the party hats and taking a picture with me! Again, many thanks to my department for making my birthday special!

Birthday Extravaganza – Part 1

Woah, it’s been five months and a few weeks since I last blogged! I apologize for being MIA. Sometimes, you just have fun in life and forget to share it! That’s pretty much what happened to me.

I don’t even know where to begin but I’ll just share with you the most recent celebration. August was my birthday month! Yay me and for all those Leos out there! I always want to try to maximize my birthday month or even just any holiday month all for fun. Why not find a reason to have fun everyday, right? For my birthday month, I decided to wear a dress every day until the 20th, my real birthday. I was surprised at how many dresses I owned. It wasn’t even a struggle to figure out what to dress to wear each day. I just grabbed whatever I found first but saved the best ones for last.

Unfortunately, I did not take any selfies of my 20 days of dresses to show proof that I did it. If you don’t believe me then feel free to talk to my coworkers. They have witnessed me wearing a dress everyday!

Even though it’s over, I still continue to wear dresses. I may have gained some weight from wearing a dress everyday. My dresses tend to leave more room for dessert than pants hence the gain in weight. At the end of this dress extravaganza, I realized I probably own about 30 dresses. It’s not even funny.

Side note: My best friend and I made a pact this year to not go shopping unless we need to or if we have a gift card so we can save money and not become materialistic. We’ve been pretty good so far to not buy anything unless it’s a necessity. I think doing this 20 days of dresses confirmed even more so that I don’t need any more dresses or even clothes in general. I’m sure I still have a few dresses in my closet that I have yet to wear once or even twice maybe.

Aside from this 20 days of dresses, I celebrated my birthday a few times with friends and family. First one was a potluck at the park! Thank you friends for bringing all kinds of food! We had homemade guac, Costco food, salads, fruit, desserts, a lot of cold drinks and so much more! There was definitely a lot of food!

Thank you Kat for stopping by! I know you had a busy summer but really appreciated your presence there and with all the fruit you brought!

Hannerz! Thank you so much for making the long drive to come here! Thank you for bringing the wraps and keeping them cool using your mother-in-law’s ice packs! I know I need to return those to you still! Thanks for the gift as well!

Derek, I can’t believe you biked 10 miles to get here! Thank you for making it alive! Phil, that Almond Haus drink doe. What an awesome gift, thank you! CindyxBindy, thank you for the precious cake and the bluetooth! I feel so hip like you now! Briana, thank you for bringing fancy sushi and always surprising me with practical gifts on my birthday! Aaron, thank you for bringing chicken tenders from Carl’s Jr! I think it was a healthier choice to bring chicken tenders over them McNuggets.

Peter and Jenn, thank you for bringing Costco pizza! Thank you for being considerate of vegetarians and thanks for the gifts! Thank you Jamakea and Dan for each bringing a salad! And those flowers were beautiful, thank you! Winston, thanks for bringing so much dessert! Costco’s apple pie and cheesecake can never go wrong!

Ben, thanks for driving to multiple markets to look for Capri Sun drinks. Even though they were nowhere to be found, luckily the party was able to continue without them. No but really, thank you for bringing all the drinks and keeping them cold with ice! Kat, thanks for coming to my potluck instead of going to your bootcamp and thank you for the cookies! Matt and Alana, thank you for the chicken quinoa and the homemade guac dip! Delicious!

I know I didn’t get to take a picture with everyone who came but shoutouts to Elaine Linda, Andrea, Dan, and Dasom for coming! Thank you Elaine and Linda for coming over to make the guac and pasta salad with so much love! Andrea, thank you for stopping by and bringing food! Dan, that Mexican ice cream was amazing! Thank you for sharing it with me! Dasom, I was so happy to see you there! Thank you for the giant balloon and the sacrifice you went through to purchase it!

Thank you, thank you my friends for bringing all this wonderful food! Thank you for taking that extra time to prepare or purchase the food you brought. Everything was so good that I think We should have another potluck soon!

Grand Central Market – Ana Maria’s

When you are in LA, you have to eat something there. You just have to! When I was there, I initially wanted to try EGGSLUT but the line was long and I was hungry! I was not so willing to eat there because of the wait. According to some friends who have been there before, they said that the line may look horrendous but apparently it goes by pretty quickly. Eggslut is located in Grand Central Market – Downtown LA.

Grand Central Market is in a huge warehouse kind of building with countless food vendors covering every corner imaginable. Another way to describe this place is that it’s like an indoors swap meet but for all sorts of cuisines ranging from Mexican to American to Asian food. They also have a juice stand, a fruit stand, and a little bakery. Anything you are craving for, it is certainly there!

Since Eggslut was out of the picture, I was left to pick only one amongst numerous food stands. I was pretty indecisive about where to eat so I circled around the market quite a few times. Two or three too many times. I knew I wanted Mexican food after seeing so much meat piled up but mind you that there were multiple taco stands here with the same price. I just didn’t know which one to pick specifically.

I ended up just going to the one with a decent amount of people standing in line. I went to Ana Maria’s and ordered a tostada and treated myself to a glass bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola. I rarely drink soda but I thought it would go well with my tostada and it sure did. The tostada and the drink together totaled up to $7.50. The drink was a little more expensive than expected.

I love tostadas. I remember the first time I tried one was at my friend Jessica’s house back in high school of our sophomore year. It was either a late night snack or an early breakfast where we just put beans over the tostada and sprinkled some cheese over it. It was so simple yet so perfect to munch on!

After that day, I begged my mom to get some beans, cheese, and tostadas. I tried to make it at home but it wasn’t the same for whatever reason and I had not tried one since then probably. The tostada from Ana Maria’s at Grand Central Market was a tad bit fancier compared to Jessica’s only because it had meat and some vegetables. It was basically like a burrito but on a flat taco shell. It was just the right amount to fill me up with my soda on the side.

If you’re curious about Ana Maria’s, check out their Yelp as they have plenty of positive reviews about the food and the quick quality service.Next time, I’m definitely getting Eggslut!

 

The Last Bookstore

Yes! I can also finally check off The Last Bookstore from my Unofficial LA Bucket List! They are known as the largest bookstore in California with 20,000 square feet of space! They have more than 250,000 new and used books! Can you believe that? If not, you will have to check out the store to believe it!

I can be at this bookstore for hours! There were books literally everywhere. It’s not even a joke. You will not be bored of all the colorful books and artworks that cover this bookstore. Here’s the plan for your weekend in downtown LA. After checking out The Bradbury Building, I highly suggest you to take a 6 minute walk to The Last Bookstore on 453 South Spring Street in Los Angeles, California. As I mentioned in my previous post, at some point treat yourself to some food from Grand Central Market which is nearby.

The Crookie

Someone on Facebook shared a link about making crookies. Like everyone else I said, “Say what? What’s a crookie?”. Crookie is half croissant and half cookie. What a crazy concept, huh? I know, I know.

It was not a good idea to have seen a crookie at midnight. Somehow so quickly, I was craving for one at night in the dark under my covers. It was one depressing night as I was hungry for a crookie. I had to sleep my hunger away.

I made time to bake some crookies the weekend after I discovered them. They were overall pretty easy yet a tad bit messy to make. I just bought a roll of Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough and croissant.

I rolled out the dough as flat as I could but it wasn’t that easy. The dough wasn’t soft enough so I couldn’t make it into the perfect triangular shape of the croissant dough. I basically patched the cookie dough onto the croissant.

Then, I rolled them doughs up!

I threw these crookies into the oven for a little more than 13 minutes in 350 degrees. I only say “a little more than” because after 13 minutes, the cookie inside the croissant wasn’t fully baked in my case. I love raw cookie dough (no shame) but it may have been a tad bit too raw. The reason being is probably because in general, these cookies are supposed to be baked in 375 degrees.

I would suggest try baking them for 13 minutes, take a bite and see what you think! If it’s too doughy for you, then stick them in the oven for a few more minutes.

It’s best to try them when they’re fresh because I personally love soft and crispy textures together for dessert. The croissant brought the light crumbly texture but the cookie added the soft and sweet experience out of the crookie. If you eat one when it’s not fresh, it will just taste like your regular chocolate croissant from Starbucks.

Would I make this again? I’m not sure exactly. I’m 50/50 about it. I probably would not because it was a little too messy for me. At the same time, I probably would bake it again so my friends can try. I wanted to share them but I was too scared that it wasn’t going to work out only because it was too good to be true.

Overall, my crookie experience was quite a sweet one. Who knew you could put a croissant and cookie together! Geez, croissants can go with anything like cronuts, croissant sandwiches, and now crookies. Ok, I know croissant sandwiches are desserts but they’re good as sandwiches.

Anyway, I love cookies.

Brodard’s Restaurant

I took my mom out on a date to Brodard Restaurant in Garden Grove. I had to take her here since she has never been! This Vietnamese restaurant is known for their spring rolls. It is mandatory that you order them as appetizer before chowing down on your pho. I repeat, mandatory!

For $7, they will give you 4 rolls or you can get 3 rolls for $5.25. They are called Nem Nöôùng Cuoán aka pork spring rolls. It has grilled pork sausage wrapped in rice paper with lettuce, cucumber, carrots, cilantro, chives, daikon and mint served with house special sauce. That sauce is amaze-sauce. It does not hurt to dunk and drench your spring rolls into it because it is sweet but light in flavor. It is not overwhelming on the palette at all!

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

I wasn’t feeling pho that day and I just didn’t want to feel so greasy so I got myself vermicelli with a side of the fish sauce that you pour over. Somehow that fish sauce goes a long way!

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

I feel like at all the Vietnamese restaurants I’ve been to, they tend to stuff the vermicelli bowl with a lot of noodles, vegetables, and meat! I even think that I have too much meat left and not enough noodles which is a great thing! With this one, I loved every slurp of the noodles.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish the bowl because I was pretty full even from the spring rolls! I couldn’t waste the food and it wasn’t a good idea to take it home because the noodles would get too soggy. So I just had to finish it!

I’ve been to Brodard’s Restaurant numerous times and I have never been disappointed of their food! My mom definitely loved her spring rolls experience. Yelpers love this place as they currently stand with 4 out of 5 stars and with 3500+ reviews! Wew!

Wow, thirty five hundred is a lot. Good for Brodard’s Restaurant!

Side note: Don’t go to Brodard’s Restaurant on Tuesdays because they are closed. My friends and I went there on a Tuesday and found the parking lot surprisingly empty because they were closed. It was one of the most upsetting food adventures ever. You can always go to the fancy one called Brodard Chateau but I would say it’s not worth it. Stick with the regular Brodard’s Restaurant.

After dinner, we walked over to 85 Degrees Bakery within the same plaza. I got myself some bread with chocolate. I don’t even know what kind of bread it was but I saw chocolate chips in them and had to get it instantly. I’ve been loving chocolate chips for some odd reason. Actually, I love sweets in general.

I enjoy taking my mom out to new places and I can’t wait to take her somewhere new again! Any suggestions? Please include dessert or coffee!