Friday, January 6, 2017

California Avocado Toast


Mornings are usually a blur in my life. Let's face it, for most people who work traditional jobs (9-5, or rather 8-6 if you add commute times), mornings are a blur. 

However, the above is the result of a weekday morning where I took 10 extra minutes, slowed myself down and actually ate breakfast! Was it worth it? You mean was it worth not giving a damn about traffic, people at work watching the clock or my own brain not shutting up about being late? Abso-freakin-lutely! Here's why: the traffic was as usual, the drive took no longer, no one at work really pays attention, and my brain was so much more relaxed and focused after a happy stomach happened. 

So what exactly is that? That, my friends, is the result of having moved to southern California almost 3 years ago. That is an Avocado Toast. Doesn't sound very glamorous, but believe me, my mouth was throwing a party as I ate! And as I mentioned, Mrs. Stomach was a happy camper. 

Within 5-10 minutes I created this concoction: starting with a nutty multigrain slice of bread from Trader Joe's (toasted, of course), slices of half a hass avocado, generous sprinkling of lemon pepper, a thin layer of low fat cottage cheese, and finally a gentle sprinkling of this amazing Mexican spice I discovered recently: Taj√≠n. It's one of those "umami" flavors - really hard to describe, but I'm pretty sure extremely hard to resist. It's a little sour, a little salty, a little spicy - I'm smacking my lips just thinking about it! The first time I ate it was outside a museum in downtown LA - it was being sold from a fruit cart - they cut up sweet mangoes and topped it with this spice, and boy was it a treat on that hot, summer day!

My 250-calorie breakfast was delicious, filling, quick, and the best part? It helped my morning off to a great start. I took a little while for myself - self-care - and it was beautiful. Self-care doesn't really have to be elaborate, you know - a few minutes here, a few minutes there, just a little bit of time and space just for you doing exactly that which brings you joy and happiness. Because really, true health comes from our heart and soul! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Taste of the Himalayas

Salmon Tandoori @ "Taste of the Himalayas" in La Jolla, CA

As the year came to a close, we decided to trek down to one of our favorite spots in southern California - La Jolla (San Diego). A cool, misty mini-hike around the scenic bluffs of Torrey Pines got our energy high and our stomachs growling! So we made our way to downtown La Jolla and to our old time favorite restaurant: "Taste of the Himalayas" (https://www.yelp.com/biz/taste-of-the-himalayas-la-jolla-2) (http://www.tasteofthehimalayassandiego.com/)

We were eager to start eating so we ordered an appetizer of samosas - and though not greater than normal - something about the piping hot crispy, potato-ey samosas - especially on a chilly, gray afternoon - felt quite satisfying! After a few more minutes of waiting and the arrival of another so-so dish (Paneer achari - pickled sauce) - came out the sizzling platter we had driven all this way for!

I started making space on the table a few seconds before the dish (Salmon Tandoori) arrived - simply because my ears perked up and I could hear the sizzling plate making its way out of the kitchen. The bubbling hot cast iron skillet showed up and the vegetables at the bottom were still sizzling around browning themselves! The tender, perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned plump little pieces of salmon rested gently on top of the medley of veggies.

The hubby and I took about 5 seconds ogling the dish, grinning at each other, and dug right in! The succulent fish, the crispy carrots, sweet onions, and various other veggies melted in our mouths as we rapidly worked our way through the meal. Moments later we sat back - our mouths full, stomachs happy, hearts satisfied! What a great end to the year - what a great moment to look forward to a new year. I hope our days are always filled with such meals - delicious, soul satisfying, delectable delights!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

An Old Fashioned for the New Year


Cheers, my friends! 

As I bid adieu to a year almost over, I must admit, I am quite happy to see it go. Here is to new beginnings, happier times, and a peaceful year ahead. I welcome you to join me on my journey. A journey of culinary experiences. Restaurants - small and large, known and hidden, fast and fancy! Home cooking - simple, complex, rushed, and everything in between. And food in general - thoughts, feelings, chocolates that soothe the soul, etc.

In my farewell to 2016, I must thank it for one thing - an Old Fashioned. As pictured, an Old Fashioned is a delicious drink that I happened upon in Portland, Oregon. Yes, it is a classic drink - Yes, most people probably know about it - No, I really had never had one before this year. It's a simple drink really - sugar and orange bitters muddled together, a shot of bourbon on top, a XL square ice cube and a rind of fresh citrus. But boy was it delicious! I must attribute some of its pleasure to the atmosphere itself. 

The husband and I were in Portland for a long weekend - and we happened upon this small bar/lounge. Very mellow, a little romantic, and filled with people like us - aging millennials, just looking for peace and happiness - and no labels. The place is called "The Box Social" and was filled with bottles of all kinds - and lovely lighting - a tasteful peacock design on the top shelf. (For more pictures: https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-box-social-portland & http://www.bxsocial.com/)

As the light outside dimmed and we worked our way through our first drinks - non-memorable now - the atmosphere and our conversation turned gentle and pleasant. As we decided on a spur to order a second round of drinks - very uncommon for us - I picked out an Old Fashioned. I also ordered a bowl of goldfish - yes, the crackers from our childhood. The combo was so delightful - a happy memory of warm candles, loving company, the end of a day exploring a new city, and a delicious drink with a childhood snack. It's the moment I want to take from this year - it's the moment I want to relish in years to come. 

Our world is full of negatives - thoughts, actions, events. We often forget to look at the positives, the moments that made us warm and fuzzy, the events that actually spurred positive emotions. But food? It comes to life for me - it brings me a lot of the positive moments. If I ponder over food, I can grasp the positive moments of life. And I hope - so can you!