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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cooking Adventure: The Hunger Games - Basil-Wrapped Goat Cheese

In honor of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie opening this weekend, I wanted to make something Hunger Games-related. Today, I present the basil-wrapped goat cheese that Prim made for Katniss on Reaping Day in the first Hunger Games book.
The Hunger Games - Basil-wrapped Goat Cheese
THE HUNGER GAMES: BASIL-WRAPPED GOAT CHEESE
Adapted from "Prim's Basil-Wrapped Goat Cheese Balls" in The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook

Ingredients
5 oz goat cheese, room temperature
4 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt (to taste)
Ground pepper (to taste)
Basil leaves
Crackers or bread for serving

Directions
  1. Combine goat cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl
  2. Scoop out small spoonfuls of goat cheese mixture and form into balls
  3. Wrap with basil leaves
  4. Serve with crackers or bread 
The original recipe called for freshly ground black pepper, which is what I used, but I didn't like how it created little black specks in my goat cheese. I would recommend using white pepper next time.

If you're interested in more Hunger Games recipes, check out the links below:
Katniss's Favorite Lamb Stew with Dried Plums
Peeta's Nut and Raisin Bread
District 4 Bread - Fish-shaped Seaweed Bread
District 11 Bread - Crescent-shaped Grain Bread

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Anime Food Re-creation: Ponyo Ramen

Hey everyone! Today's Anime Food Re-creation is Ponyo Ramen!
Ponyo - Ramen
After watching Ponyo and seeing Sosuke's mom make surprise ramen for Ponyo and Sosuke, I knew I had to make it.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cooking Adventure: Joey's Meatball Sub from FRIENDS

In one episode of FRIENDS, Joey, Ross, and Chandler go on an undercover ride-along with Phoebe's cop boyfriend, Gary. While on the ride-along, Joey gets "the best sandwich in the world" made with meatballs, melted cheese, and marinara sauce, but Gary won't let Joey eat it in his car. Now you have to understand, Joey loves his meatball subs. Later in the night, the guys are startled by a car backfire, which they mistaken for a gunshot. Joey appears to dive to save Ross, which upsets Chandler. However, Joey is actually diving to save his sandwich! That must be some sandwich!

After seeing this episode, I knew I had to make my own meatball sub sandwich. Below is a super easy recipe for a meatball sub inspired by Joey's sandwich and made with frozen meatballs and canned marinara sauce. Of course, if you make homemade meatballs and marinara sauce from scratch, definitely use that instead.
Joey's Meatball Sub from FRIENDS
EASY MEATBALL SUB SANDWICH
Yield: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients
16 meatballs, thawed
1 can or jar marinara sauce
Garlic butter (Homemade Garlic Butter Recipe Here)
4 French rolls
Shredded mozzarella or provolone (sliced cheese works too)

Directions
  1. Brown meatballs in a skillet.
  2. Add marinara sauce and simmer for 5 minutes, or until meatballs and sauce are cooked and heated through.
  3. Spread garlic butter inside French rolls and toast in toaster oven.
  4. Spoon in 4 meatballs per sub sandwich with a little marinara sauce.
  5. Top with shredded or sliced mozzarella/provolone.
I don't think meatball subs normally have garlic butter, but I thought it added another dimension of flavor. Feel free to omit it, if you want.

If you'd like to see Chandler confront Joey about "saving Ross," check out the clip below. You'll also get a look at Joey's favorite sandwich and see just how much Chandler means to Joey.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Anime Food Re-creation: Shining Hearts: Shiwase no Pan's Onion Garlic Toast

In Shining Hearts: Shiwase no Pan, Flora's bar is known for its Onion Garlic Toast, which always seems to sell out. I love garlic bread so this seemed like a great anime food to recreate!
Shining Hearts: Shiwase no Pan - Onion Garlic Toast

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Anime Food Re-creation: Mirrai Nikki's Crab Legs

In Episode 13 of Mirai Nikki, Yuki's friends (Aru, Hinata, Mao, and Kousaka) head off to a resort town in search of Yuki and Yuno, whom they suspect kidnapped Yuki. The particular hotel Aru and company stayed at included all-you-can-eat crab legs. Of course, Kousaka had to get as much as he could - much to his friends' embarrassment!
Mirai Nikki - Crab Legs
Getting this much crab at a buffet in real life can be quite embarrassing. People stare at you as if you're one of those people - the ones that hog all the expensive items so that no one else can get it...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Travel Adventure: San Francisco Highlights 2013 (Part 2)

Hi everyone! Here's Part 2 of highlights from my trip to San Francisco! If you missed out on Part 1, you can read about it here.

FERRY BUILDING
1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA 94111
Ferry Building
Every Saturday, the Ferry Building hosts a huge farmer's market from 8am to 2pm. There's also smaller farmer's markets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm, but we went on Saturday. I'm a big fan of farmer's markets because you never know what you're going to find.
Purple Bell Peppers
Just check out these purple bell peppers! I had never seen them before so I bought a few to take home. The guys working the stand were really friendly and informative. Apparently, purple bell peppers are equivalent to green bell peppers in taste and eventually turn a reddish orange color when ripe. The workers warned me that although the purple color is gorgeous, the color will cook out and turn gray. In the past, some customers came back to complain about the color change so they wanted to make sure I knew ahead of time, which I thought was really upfront and considerate of them.
Lobster Mushroom
Inside the Ferry Building, there's a shop that specializes in mushrooms. I've always wanted to try lobster mushrooms but since they wouldn't have held up on our long road trip back, I had to sadly part ways. If you know where to get lobster mushrooms in LA, please let me know!
Obsidian Knives
At the farmer's market, there's also a large section for art and craft vendors who always have interesting items for sale. If you watch or read Game of Thrones, you'll understand just how amused I was at seeing obsidian knives! But they're not just any obsidian knives, they're hand-crafted with handles made from wood or animal bones. If the White Walkers come, I know where I'll be getting armed. ;)
Old-fashioned Bike
The Ferry Building even has bike rentals. I thought it was cool that you could rent this old-timey bike and ride in style.

MIETTE PATISSERIE
1 Ferry Bldg, Ste 10
San Francisco, CA 94111
 
Miette Patisserie
One of the bakeries on my list of places to try was Miette Patisserie. Fortunately for me, there was one inside the Ferry Building!

Miette Patisserie - Macaron Display
They had so many delicious-looking pastries and a nice array of macaron flavors.
Miette Patisserie - Strawberry Macaron (Seasonal)
I tried the Strawberry Macaron, which was a seasonal flavor. Honestly, I thought it was a standard macaron. Nothing special. (I was spoiled by Laduree macarons so now nothing quite compares.)
Miette Patisserie - Mini Scharffen Berger Cake ($6.50)
One of Miette's most famous items is their Scharffen Berger Cake, which is made with high quality Scharffen Berger cocoa (I believe) and covered in chocolate ganache.
Miette Patisserie - Mini Scharffen Berger Cake (Inside)
I liked the thick layer of ganache, but wasn't a big fan of the cake overall. I thought it was a little expensive at $6.50, but they did use top-quality ingredients. For some reason, the cake just wasn't as moist and decadent as I thought it would be. 
Miette Patisserie - Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich
My friend bought a chocolate ice cream sandwich, which cost somewhere around $5. As he was paying, he promptly stated he wasn't sharing so I can't comment on it, but he looked like he was having a food-gasm with every bite. I'm going to assume it was good. Really good.

HOG ISLAND OYSTER CO.
1 Ferry Bldg, Shop 11
San Francisco, CA 94111
Hog Island Oyster Co. Booth
Hog Island Oyster Co. had a booth behind the Ferry Building during the farmers market, but they also have a brick and mortar restaurant within the building. What's nice about Hog Island is that if you tell them it's your first time, they let you have your first oyster for free.
Hog Island Oyster Co. - Atlantic (left) and Pacific (right) Oysters ($2 each)
To be honest, I was never a fan of oysters because I didn't like the texture or flavor. I have also avoided raw oysters because of the risk of food poisoning. However, when I saw that oysters were only $2 a shuck, I decided to give it a chance. YOLO, right? To my surprise, I really enjoyed them! They smelled like the sea and weren't fishy at all. The Atlantic (Spring Creek) oyster was more briny, while the Pacific (Kusshi) oyster  was more buttery and sweet. I ate these with a squeeze of lemon so I could really enjoy the oyster's natural flavor and found I liked the Spring Creek oyster a little more, but my friend preferred the Kusshi.

SAN FRANCISCO CABLE CAR/TROLLEY
San Francisco Cable Car/Trolley
To get from the Ferry Building to Chinatown, my friends and I decided to be super touristy and take the cable car/trolley. It costs $6 one way and made for a fun one-time thing. Now we can say we've ridden a San Francisco cable car!

GOLDEN GATE BAKERY
1029 Grant Ave
(between Jackson St & Pacific Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94133
Golden Gate Bakery - Line
Now for the star of the trip for my tastebuds and tummy! In Chinatown, I finally got to try Golden Gate Bakery! We waited over 30 minutes in line (my friend was able to go to the bank, buy boba, and finish his boba before we reached the counter), but after trying their famous egg tarts, I have to say the wait was worth. every. minute.
Golden Gate Bakery - Egg Tart ($1.35)
I consider myself a bit of an egg tart connoisseur. I love them and if a bakery or restaurant offers egg tarts, I've tried them. So you can trust me when I say these egg tarts are good. Really good. Literally, the BEST EGG TARTS EVER!!! The custard is wonderfully eggy and I loved the large custard-to-flaky-crust ratio. You have to eat (at least) one fresh while it's still warm. You won't regret it. It's food-gasm status. Seriously. Do it.
Golden Gate Bakery - Egg Tart (Cross-section)
I decided to splurge and bought a whole dozen ($16.20) so I could take some home to share with family. I was a little bummed that Golden Gate Bakery doesn't offer a discount for buying a dozen, but with egg tarts this good, $1.35 for one is worth every penny. I'll definitely be back in the future.

So there you have it! All the highlights from my most recent trip to San Francisco. Hopefully, you found something interesting and useful if you ever visit. If you have any recommendations for other places in San Francisco to try or see, please feel free to comment below.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Travel Adventure: San Francisco Highlights 2013 (Part 1)

Back in July, I took a weekend roadtrip with some of my friends to visit my former college roommate, N, in San Francisco. We did some of the major touristy things like going to Fisherman's Wharf and watching a Giants game, but I wanted to highlight some of my favorite sights and bites. There were quite a few places I wanted to mention so I split this post into two parts.

GILROY, CA
Garlic Braids from Gilroy, CA
On our way up to San Fran, we stopped in Gilroy, CA to get gas and stretch our legs. Gilroy is famous for their summer Garlic Festival, which features everything garlic including...
Garlic Ice Cream from Gilroy, CA
GARLIC ICE CREAM! The gas station we stopped at had a fresh produce stand so we explored a little and found vanilla and chocolate garlic ice cream in the back (along with a bazillion other garlic-flavored snacks, sauces, and marinades).
Garlic Ice Cream from Gilroy, CA
We opted to try the vanilla garlic ice cream, which had a distinct roasted garlic flavor that was actually quite mellow. None of that astringent fresh garlic tang. It was interesting combined with the sweet creaminess of the ice cream. A spoonful was good enough for me, but my supertaster friend really liked it and finished it off after we all sampled it.

IKE'S PLACE
3489 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
Ike's Place
If you've seen my previous post on San Francisco Eats, you know how much I love, love, love Ike's Place. Seriously. It's my all-time favorite sandwich place.
Ike's Place - Spiffy Tiffy
This time, I tried a "Spiffy Tiffy," which contains pesto halal chicken, avocado, mushrooms, provolone cheese, pepperjack cheese, tomato, and lettuce. I highly, highly recommend it - especially on Dutch Crunch bread. The creaminess of the avocado mixed with the pesto and mushrooms was just an explosion of flavor in my mouth and the texture contrast with the Dutch Crunch bread was just perfection. The sandwich was too large for me so N and I split it.

TARTINE BAKERY & CAFE
600 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110
A long line for Tartine Bakery
Located a few blocks away from Ike's Place is the famous Tartine Bakery, one of my friends' favorite bakeries. As you can see from the photo above, Tartine is quite popular. We waited a good 20-30 minutes in line before we got to the counter to order.
Tartine Bakery Case
I ended up ordering a Morning Bun and a Double Pain Au Chocolat, two of Tartine's most popular items.
Tartine's Morning Bun ($3.95)
I liked that the Morning Bun wasn't too sweet due to the light cinnamon sugar coating but thought it was a little pricey for $4.
Tartine's Double Pain au Chocolat ($4.75)
I ate the Double Pain au Chocolat (aka chocolate croissant) for breakfast the next day. I'm not sure if it was because the croissant was day-old, but I didn't like it. It seemed dense and greasy. (Though that might be because it got a bit squished in my bag. Oops!) I'll have to try it fresh to make a final judgment call, but my friend still thought it tasted really good. At almost $5, this pastry was way more expensive than I thought it'd be.

Despite being so well known, Tartine didn't live up to my expectations. Perhaps my expectations were set unrealistically high from all the praise I've heard, but overall, I thought the pastries was too expensive and the final products didn't quite justify the cost and long wait time.

SAN TUNG CHINESE RESTAURANT
1031 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
San Tung Chinese Restaurant
N introduced us to San Tung's chicken wings during game night, where we snacked on "Original Dry Fried Chicken (Dry) (Glazed)" while playing a vicious game of Texas Hold'em.
San Tung's Glazed Chicken Wings ($10 for 12 wings)
These tasty wings were seasoned with garlic, ginger, and roasted whole red chili pepper in a sweet glaze. When fresh, they're crisp on the outside but still juicy. Absolutely delicious! We all loved them so much that we each bought a box for the road before heading on the long drive home. (They cost $10 for 12 wings.) Once they get cold, they're no longer crispy (obviously) but the flavor is still good. If you're just getting the wings, be sure to call San Tung ahead of time to place your order to save time, but the wings are so good that they're worth the wait.

I hope you found some of this information helpful and piqued some curious tastebuds. Stay tuned for San Francisco Highlights 2013 (Part 2)! If you have any recommendations for food or sights in SF, feel free to comment below.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cooking Adventure: Team Fortress 2 Sandvich

Hey everyone! I did a guest post over at Kitchen Overlord for my video game food re-creation of Team Fortress 2's sandvich! If you've never checked out Kitchen Overlord's blog before, it's filled with creative, geeky foods. Some of my favorite recipes are her Transformers Bread Loaves and her 1-UP Mushroom Pizza Rolls. Definitely go take a look!
Source: Team Fortress 2 Sandvich
Here's my version of the sandvich from Team Fortress 2:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Baking Adventure: Harvest Moon Festival Mooncakes 2013

Happy Harvest Moon Festival!

This year, I made my own mooncakes! I actually tried making mooncakes a few years ago, but they didn't turn out so well. Fortunately, they came out great this year and I was really pleased. These little babies are a lot of work and are very time-consuming (No wonder they cost $30-40 for a box of 4!), but the end result was totally worth it.

Here's how mine turned out. They almost look like legit bakery or store-bought ones!
Mooncake
Here's a side view:
Mooncake (Side View)
I even made mini mooncakes with some of my favorite cartoon characters!
Winnie the Pooh and Hello Kitty Mini Mooncakes
Doraemon and Mickey Mouse Mini Mooncakes
I made several different fillings too. One of my favorites was my Mixed Nut (五仁) Mooncake made with almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, and sesame seeds.
Mixed Nut (五仁) Mooncake
The Lotus Seed with Egg Yolk Mooncake was made with store-bought lotus seed paste and egg yolks. (I tried making homemade lotus seed paste last time and it didn't turn out to my liking so I opted for store-bought paste this year. :S )
Lotus Seed Paste and Egg Yolk Mooncake
And here's a cross-section of my mini mooncake with homemade red bean paste. The flavor of the red bean paste was really good, but it was a little too dry and needed more oil.
Red Bean Paste Hello Kitty Mooncake
In addition to the mooncakes above, I also made Mixed Nut with Candied Ginger Mooncakes, Lotus Seed Paste with Pine Nut Mooncakes, and Red Bean Paste with Egg Yolk Mooncakes, but don't have cross-section pictures just yet.

In total, I made 31 regular-sized mooncakes and 22 mini mooncakes! (Yikes! That's a lot!) For now, I'm not ready to post any recipes since there's still some kinks I need to work out and I don't want to give you recipes that aren't 100%.

However, below are recipes from other blogs that gave me inspiration and what I based my mooncakes on. I didn't follow these recipes completely because my mooncake molds were a different size and I couldn't find all the ingredients, but you can check them out and see if they work for you.
Aunty Yochana's Mixed Nut Mooncakes
Lynara Cakes' Traditional Lotus Mooncakes

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

(Sorta) Anime Food Re-creation: Lucky Star's Chocolate Cornet

Ever since my cousin showed me Lucky Star, I've been on a quest for chocolate cornets. Today's Anime Food Re-creation is a *sorta* re-creation because I didn't make it, unfortunately. Chocolate cornets are still on my list of anime foods to make, but I won't be able to make them until I find metal cornet horn molds.
Lucky Star - Chocolate Cornet
For now, here is a chocolate cornet from Paris Baguette, an Asian bakery near where I live.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Snack Attack: Hello Kitty Snacks

If you guys couldn't tell from some of my previous posts, I'm a HUGE fan of Hello Kitty. (My all-time favorite character is still Pochacco though. I miss seeing a section for him at Sanrio. :S ) Every so often, I come across Hello Kitty's face in the form of snacks. Seriously, if you slap her face on almost anything, I'm tempted to get it. No joke!

Hello Kitty Rice Crackers
Hello Kitty Rice Crackers
I came across these at my local Asian supermarket and thought they were too cute to pass up. They were only $1.99.
Hello Kitty Rice Cracker Packets
I loved how each little packet had a picture of Hello Kitty.
Hello Kitty Rice Cracker
The rice crackers were light and crunchy with a hint of sweetness and the slightly salty taste of soy sauce - much like regular rice crackers. My brother claimed they tasted "just like [his] childhood." (We used to eat rice crackers a lot growing up.)

Hello Kitty Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Treats
Hello Kitty Cookie Dough Candy
I am across these at Big Lots and wanted to try them simply because Hello Kitty was on the package. (If she weren't on the box, I wouldn't have even given these treats a second glance. My Hello Kitty addiction strikes again!)
Hello Kitty Cookie Dough Candy Pieces
These were chocolate-covered cookie dough pieces. I was surprised these were actually soft like actual cookie dough. For some reason, I imagined they were going to be harder like baked cookies. The package said they're egg-free so there's no risk of salmonella poisoning and no need to refrigerate this candy. There's actually tiny chocolate chips mixed in with the cookie dough even though you can't see any in the cross section. I thought the first few candies I ate were good, but quickly got tired of them because they're pretty sweet. They seem like they'd make a good Yogurtland topping though.

Hello Kitty Pez
Hello Kitty Pez
Growing up, I wasn't a big fan of Pez. I knew it existed but actually didn't get to try it until middle school. Interestingly, that was the first and last time I ate Pez. The candy itself vaguely reminded me of Smarties and the dispenser freaked me out a little because you have to bend the character's head backwards for the candy to come out. Despite all this, I couldn't resist these Hello Kitty Pez dispensers at Big Lots. There were a few other designs in the set, but there were some paint imperfections so I didn't get them.

I know Hello Kitty snacks are everywhere. There's a Hello Kitty version of Yan Yan and even Hello Kitty Choco Pie. What interesting Hello Kitty snacks have you come across?

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Disclaimer: All products were purchased by me with my own money. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cooking Adventure: Hello Kitty Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote

A few Anime Expos ago, I bought a set of plastic Hello Kitty pudding cup molds from J-List's booth. (Unfortunately, J-List no longer sells these molds on their website, but you can still find them on sites like eBay.) Using the molds, I made Hello Kitty Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote.
Hello Kitty Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote
Panna cotta is basically a sweet milk pudding made from cream, sugar, and gelatin. The panna cotta recipe I used can be found on Allrecipes.com.

Blueberry compote, on the other hand, is a simple blueberry sauce made from blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice. It's easy to make and complements the panna cotta really well. The blueberry compote recipe I used came from Food Network. Any leftover blueberry compote can be used on pancakes, waffles, and ice cream. It's delicious!

Even if you don't have Hello Kitty pudding cup molds, you can still make panna cotta with regular cups or ramekins. Give it a try and let me know how it turns out!

I'll see you in the next adventure! :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Where to Eat for Jury Duty in Downtown LA

Jury Duty Postcard from Panorama Cafe
Ah, the dreaded jury duty... I got summoned the beginning of August and for almost a week, I didn't have to report. Then come Friday, I checked my reporting instructions online and lo and behold, it told me to come in! Noooooooooo~ As luck would have it, I got selected to be on a jury so I had to come to court the following week. GAH! Not only did I not plan to do anything the week I had jury duty, but I also had to cancel all plans for the following week. Seriously. I was bummed.

However, after watching Silver Linings Playbook, I looked for my silver lining. For me, that came in the form of lunch. I was unfortunate enough to be selected for a case on a Friday, but lucky enough to be on a jury panel with people who liked good food and knew where to get it.

PANORAMA CAFE (9th Floor of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse)
111 N Hill St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

On my first day of jury duty (which so happened to be my first time ever having to report), I ate inside the cafe of the courthouse. (This was before getting to know my fellow food-loving jurors.) I read on Yelp that they had a decent tuna cranberry salad so I decided to try that. There's a policy inside the courthouse where you're not allowed to take pictures while inside so I didn't take a picture of the salad, but it was basically a bed of mixed greens with a scoop of tuna salad (tuna, mayo, and diced red onion), dried cranberries, and a balsamic vinaigrette. It was good, but not worth the almost $8.50 I spent on it. I felt like it was something I could easily make at home.
View of Downtown LA from Panorama Cafe
However, the great thing about this cafe is the view you get of downtown. (I'm a total sucker for a great view!)
View of the Disney Concert Hall from Panorama Cafe
The outside seating/balcony area wraps around 3/4 of the building so you get to see most of downtown.
View of the Dorthy Chandler Pavilion from Panorama Cafe
I ended up spending my mornings drinking my coffee outside and admiring the (sometimes overcast) view before I had to go into the courtroom.
View of the courthouse courtyard from Panorama Cafe
This cafe is open to the public so anyone can go up there. You just need to go through airport-style security and a metal detector to get into the building. There's no cameras allowed in the courthouse though so don't bring your nice camera to take pictures, but do come to check out the view if you're in the area. (All these pictures were taken with my cell phone camera. I'm technically outside the courthouse so I wasn't breaking the rules, right? :P)
View of Los Angeles City Hall from Panorama Cafe
As a sidenote, I found this postcard next to the cashier in Panorama Cafe and had to get it after Day 3. Everyone was just so tired and stressed out about our case that this postcard was just too funny to pass up. I still chuckle a little when I see it.
Wish you were here... instead of me!
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Now, onto the good stuff! While Panorama Cafe was easy to access, if you venture out to the various ethnic centers of LA (all within walking distance of the courthouse), you're going to hit the jackpot in authentic, cheap cultural foods.

First off, let's talk about Olvera Street. If you've never been, it's basically a little slice of Mexico set in the middle of LA. One of the jurors grew up on Olvera Street. In fact, his grandmother was one of the founders and his family still owns a few stores there! On Day 2, we ventured out to Olvera Street, where he gave us a bit of a history lesson while pointing out where we should eat.

CIELITO LINDO
23 Olvera St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Cielito Lindo on Olvera Street
Cielito Lindo (which translates to "beautiful little sky") is located at one of the ends of Olvera Street. They're known for their beef taquitos, which is a Mexican dish where meat is wrapped in a corn tortilla and fried. There's a man cooking them right next to the cashier so you get them as soon as you place your order. I found the outer shell pleasantly crunchy. The shredded beef inside was tender and I loved how everything was covered in their avocado sauce.These babies were 2 for $3.
Cielito Lindo's Beef Taquitos (2 for $3)
LA LUZ DEL DIA
W-1 Olvera St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
 
Closer to the other end of Olvera Street is La Luz Del Dia (which translates to "the light of day"). This place has some of the best handmade corn tortillas I've ever had. While we were paying, I could see women making tortillas by hand in the back.
Nopales Taco from La Luz Del Dia
One of the jurors was vegetarian so the juror from Olvera Street recommended getting nopales, which is cactus. It kind of had the texture of well-cooked bell pepper, but took on the flavor of the lemon/lime juice, tomato, and onions it was mixed with. I thought it was good and the other jurors who had experience with nopales said it was really good.
Fish Taco from La Luz Del Dia
I also ordered a fish taco (one of their Monday specials). The juror from Olvera Street said this was probably a new item because he never saw it before. Surprisingly, their fish taco (made with tilapia) was grilled. It was good with the onions and tomato, but I prefer my fish tacos battered and fried.
Carnitas Taco from La Luz Del Dia
This particular restaurant is known for their carnitas (shredded pork) so, of course, I had to try it. I thought the carnitas was flavorful - a little on the salty side, but in a good way. When you add their fresh-made salsa, this taco really rocks! All three tacos together cost me less than $5.
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Now, let's move onto Grand Central Market. This area is only about 10 minutes away from the courthouses. It was renovated a few years ago and includes various stalls that sell food, groceries, spices, candy, pastries, etc.

TACOS TUMBRAS A TOMAS
Grand Central Market, Space A-5
317 S Broadway

Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tacos Tumbras A Tomas at Grand Central Market
Let me tell you, the tacos here are HUGE! At $2.50 for one, the workers do not skimp on the meat. At all. You might not be able to tell from the picture below, but that is a regular-sized styrofoam plate filled with food. I tried the carne asada (beef steak seen in back) and found that to be a little dry, but liked the carnitas (shredded pork in the front). Honestly, I liked the carnitas from La Luz Del Dia a little more though. You get the option of adding red or green salsa to your tacos. I went with the red salsa, which had a good kick to it. Just be prepared for a serious case of food coma after eating so much. I think one taco would've been enough for a girl like me. (One of the jurors later told me that I was his hero for finishing so much food. He was impressed! Haha!)
Carne Asada (back) and Carnitas (front) Tacos from Tacos Tumbras a Tomas
One of my fellow jurors ordered a torta (sandwich) from the same stall and it was also HUGE. It looked really good with freshly sliced avocado. I'm going to try that the next time I visit Grand Central Market, but will definitely have to split it with someone.
 
As an insider tip for this stall, there is actually no line for ordering so you need to make eye contact and get one of the worker's attention to place your order. Be assertive! Or else you might not be able to get some of this ginormous goodness.

VALERIE AT GRAND CENTRAL MARKET
317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Valerie at Grand Central Market
This particular bakery and coffee shop is located at one of the far corners of Grand Central Market. It's a mini version of Valerie Confections located in Silverlake. I came here specifically to try their vintage cakes - Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake and The Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake. The day I visited, they only had Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake so I bought a slice for $6 - steep, but I wanted to give it a try.
Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake from Valerie - $6/slice
Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake was famous in San Francisco and disappeared when the bakery closed, but Valerie Confections was asked to recreate it for the LA Times. There's actually a recipe published on the LA Times website but it doesn't seem like the authentic recipe since it calls for a "store-bought or homemade" angel food cake. The cake slice I tried consisted of a super soft, moist, lemony chiffon cake with coffee whipped cream frosting. The "crunch" part was actually a type of light and crisp toffee with parts of it having a crispy cookie-like texture while other parts having the hard texture of normal toffee. (Glancing over the recipe showed that the toffee achieved this texture through the addition of baking soda.) Martha Stewart offers a more reliable recipe if you want to try making it at home, but it looks labor-intensive.

MYSTERY CEVICHE STALL
(Located somewhere in the center of Grand Central Market)
Ceviche from Grand Central Market
Instead of trying Tacos Tumbras a Tomas, two of the jurors decided they wanted to get ceviche, which is this Mexican seafood dish that consists of raw seafood that gets marinaded in lime or lemon juice. In effect, the acid "cooks" the seafood. I've avoided ceviche most of my life because of the risk of food poisoning, but decided to try some when one of the jurors exclaimed it was "really good" and offered me some. I will admit, it was quite tasty. It was slightly sweet, but citrus-y from the lime juice. It had large chunks of seafood and even whole shrimp. The large tub pictured above was only $6. The other juror got the smaller tub that's half this size for about $3.50.
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On the fourth day of jury duty, we set out to eat in Chinatown. Be warned, Chinatown is further out than the other areas I mentioned so you have to plan accordingly. It took us about 25 minutes to walk there. We didn't have any particular place we wanted to eat at so we decided to try Yang Chow.

YANG CHOW
819 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Yang Chow was featured on Food Network for their Slippery Shrimp. Upon entering, you'll notice the photos of celebrities who have eaten there lining the wall. There was a large crowd at lunch, but the restaurant was decidedly not full of Chinese people, which made me question the authenticity of the place. After perusing the menu, I realized why there was a lack of Chinese people. The menu prices were through the roof when compared to any of the neighboring Chinese restaurants - easily twice the amount of other restaurant's "Lunch Special" prices. (Lemon Chicken was $13.25! Other restaurants would've charged $7.50 at most for lunch.) I guess being on Food Network affords you the luxury of raising prices since you know people will come try your food.
Slippery Shrimp from Yang Chow - $14.95
I found the Slippery Shrimp to be an interesting dish. It was lightly battered and fried, then sauteed in a sweet, lemony, garlicky sauce. It was alright, but not worth $15 in my opinion. Their pan-fried noodles were made with thicker noodles, not the thin egg noodles (a.k.a. chow mein noodles) I'm used to. The Lemon Chicken reminded me of chicken katsu and had the lemon sauce on the side, which I appreciated so that the sauce wouldn't make the breading soggy. We also had Shrimp Toast, which was my first time having shrimp toast. It came with a sweet and sour sauce on the side. Overall, I thought the food was alright, not the most authentic Chinese food, and definitely not worth the high price tag, but it was nice giving it a try to see what the hype was all about. 

Overall, my tummy was quite happy over these last few days of jury duty. The case itself was nerve-racking though. It was an eviction case and sadly, the tenant and her family got evicted. Through this case, I think we all learned the importance of following lease agreements and contracts and always getting things in writing. Although jury duty was stressful, lunch and the people I met while on jury duty almost made the time and stress worth it. If you have any suggestions for places to eat in Downtown LA, please let me know! What do you eat when you have jury duty?
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