Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tastegasm. Tastegasms, Really.

Omg. Omfg. I think my tastebuds had the most epic of tastegasms this world could have provided. EVER. There's this little bakery place at Fashion Island that has stolen my heart away and I will never look at sandwiches the same ever again.

Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgian chain with 15 locations in California, is a delightful organic bakery that offers fresh bread, pastries, and an assortment of delicious entrees all created in-house. The quality and freshness of ingredients alone sets this place apart, but that combined with the atmosphere, ridiculously amazing flavors, and reclaimed wood with energy efficient lighting makes for an eating experience unlike any other.

I orded this fantastic Prosciutto & Mozzarella di Bufala 'tartine', which comes with sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto (I also added avocado), along with the most divine mint lemonade I've ever had. It was pretty much a lemony mojito minus the rum. Nomnomnom. But the tartine is basically an open faced sandwich so I ate it like pizza. When I mentioned quality before, I don't think I made it clear enough– these ingredients are legit. The Belgian Wheat bread is the softest, most deliciously perfect bread I've ever had, the avocado was fresh and ripe, and everything else was fantastic. How could you go wrong with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella?? You can't. And the prosciutto wasn't even overly salty. Too fricken good. I even had a bite of my friend's Grilled Chicken & Smoked Mozzarella tartine and it too was fabulous.

This was my second experience at the bakery, and I can promise you I'll be back (and back again and again). The atmosphere is so open and clean, they even have a community table in the middle so people can sit together, encouraging people to remember that even in cities where everyone's in a rush and impatient, it's good to keep in mind we're all in this together. Between that, the friendly chalkboard signs everywhere, and the fresh loaves of bread and pastries on display, it's hard to say no to just a taste of this lovely place, even if it's on the run and has to be ordered to go. With locations all over the place (not just in Cali) go to their website and find one close to you. NOW. Do it. Your tastebuds (and stomach/heart/overall health) will thank you.

Oh, and they even offer baking classes. Divine.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Super Antojitos

When looking for some decent Mexican food, few things come to mind more so than little hole-in-the-wall places, and on Fairview in Costa Mesa one stands out: Super Antojitos.

A tiny restaurant that’s one of 3, the other two locations being in Santa Ana and Tustin. This easy to get to eatery gives the family owned atmosphere with quick service and moderately priced meals. What this little restaurant lacks in menu options it makes up for in taste and customer service. 

I ordered two chicken tacos, which involved shredded chicken, cilantro, onion, and salsa. While incredibly spicy, there was plnty of flavor and the soft shell served to balance some of the intense heat. The chips of the complementary chips and salsa were crisp and thick with just enough crunch, and while the salsa had great flavor, I would have appreciated it more had it been just a touch less spicy to enjoy the flavor more. My experience at the restaurant itself was fairly impressive all around. I sat down at the bar and was almost immediately greeted with a menu and glass of water, and very shortly after brought chips and salsa. The service was incredibly prompt, and after placing an order waited perhaps eight minutes before being brought my food. When readying to leave, my check was brought immediately, then just as quickly when I paid, and returned just as quickly. The service was so attentive and quick that combined with the moderately priced food, it's definitely a win.

Adventures in Pho!

When your new quarter of classes starts out with a field trip, you know it's going to be a good term, and when that field trip involves delicious Vietnamese cuisine, count me in!

Little Saigon Noodle, located on Newhope in Fountain Valley is an affordable little eatery where one can find pho in abundance, and even leave with meals for days. This trip being a group outing and all, we were actually accommodated pretty quickly with seats and waters even though the small restaurant was fairly full. We ordered a few minutes later, and were rapidly presented with heaping plates of large spring rolls. While Vietnamese is not often my first choice for meals, I do enjoy some spring roll from time to time and these definitely didn't disappoint with the crunchy carrots, shrimp, spice, and all wrapped up in an aesthetically pleasing little transparent wrap. Next came out the bowls of pho, and I must say I was a touch intimidated.. 

Pictured above, you can see the "small" bowl a friend and I shared, though there was nothing small about it. Packed with huge chucks of chicken, a veritable salad, and pho pho pho, it was certainly an impressive amount of food for the meager price. I'd never actually partaken in pho before, but my tastebuds were fairly pleased. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the chicken and veggies were quite tasty, and despite being large chunks of everything it was surprisingly easy to eat– you just have to dive in double-fisting utensils with chopsticks in one hand and a fork in the other (with the occasional spoon thrown in). 

We were there long enough for the lunch crowd to slowly dissipate, staying well over an hour, and had ourselves a nice little lunch with decent service. I won't say it's the greatest meal I've ever had in my life (nothing beats a perfect filet mignon), but for the speed and price, and even the glittery business card that tickled my fancy, I'm sure I'll head back this way next time I get some Asian cravings.


I was never one to keep a diary, journal, or what have you, but I'm getting into the blogging game anyway so I can share my slow descent into insanity as a full time art student/part time barista/part time intern/etc.etc.etc.. This will ultimately chronicle the silly adventures, books, and shoes I have, share some artwork either mine or just stuff I like, and be steeped with all kinds of random shenanigans. Hope you enjoy!