Just one more reason to love LA.

In any other city, food is expensive.  Going to Safeway for fruits and veggies means paying $4/lb for bell peppers.  But here, at the local Mexican ranch market, you can get a cornucopia of food for so absurdly cheap you'd think you were dreaming.  Your eyes do not deceive you: 
  • The watermelons below are $1.99 each (compared to $6 at your average supermarket)
  • The cantaloupe is $0.33/lb
  • The raspberries (actually they are bushberries, a hybrid) are TWO CONTAINERS FOR $1.  Tell that to Safeway, which sells them for $3-4 per container.
  • Fatty artichokes are also 2 for $1.

My dad and I walked out of there with 10 and a half pounds of cucumbers, onions, cabbage, lettuce, lemons, etc etc etc for a grand total of $7.43.

I love this greater metropolitan area.

Taco Nazo: I've never met a more delicious fish taco.

They are pretty much the best thing evarrrr.  White fish beer battered and fried to perfection, topped with shredded cabbage, tomatoes, and luscious crema fresca.  All atop two fresh corn tortillas.  Plus the requisite condiments: salsa, cilantro, onions, and LIME.  The lime is key.

Added bonus are the plump, roasted yellow chiles rolled in lemon pepper salt. OMFG.  I'm happy.

I'm Home!

Ahh, home sweet home.  Get ready for some nonstop posting action!  =D  Initial pictures include:
  • Case full of Vietnamese sweet treats, including the stuff my brother and I always called "green brains."
  • Pre-packaged Vietnamese snacks
  • Monk begging for alms outside the snack shop.  Barefoot.  I wasn't sure if he wanted money, or snacks.
  • The best Vietnamese coffee in the world.  Once you have it, everything else pales in comparison.
  • Random soy jerky at the supermarket
  • Southern Californian staples: the strip mall and palm trees.
  • Strip mall in Westminster, or Little Saigon

Arrrrgh, I forgot my sunblock.  I'm going to be burnt to a crisp.

Things I want to do in LA this weekend

I'll be in LA for my gramma's 90th birthday and a wedding.  Other things I want to do with my four days there (besides see friends and family):
  • I can't stop thinking about heading up to Burbank for just two reasons: 1) Porto's Bakery, the best bakery ever, where I intend to by a dozen guava-cream cheese pastries and at least two potato balls.  And get a cuban medianoche, if I have room.  And 2) It's a Wrap , the fantastic vintage store that culls clothing from TV and film shoots, where I got a $300 Marc Jacobs blazer for $40.
  • Ok, maybe a third.  It would be nice to finally try Sushi Katsu-ya or Sushi Nozawa (the sushi Nazi), but maybe I should wait until Garry can join me for that.
  • The LACMA, free after 5pm.
  • The Long Beach Antiques Market, which is happening this Sunday.
  • One of the following lunch/brunch places: John O'Groats, Clementine, Luna Park, Bossa Nova, giant pancakes at the Griddle Cafe , Original Pantry which I never tried, Susina for transcendent chocolate croissants, and Grub.
  • Hanging out in Silverlake: The Kitchen, Pazzo Gelato, and that pizza place (any more suggestions?)
  • Gorging myself on the best fish tacos of my life at Taco Nazo.
  • Getting drinks at a chill, un-obnoxious bar: the Abbey, Cafe des Artistes, the Arsenal, Cat & Fiddle (my favorite bar in the world), Chaya Brasserie ($5 drinks on Mondays still?)
  • Slurping the most authentic tom kha gai at Sanamluang  cafe in Thai Town
  • Funky shopping along Melrose Blvd between La Brea and Fairfax
  • Half roasted chicken smothered in garlic sauce, with rice and black beans and plantains at Versailles Cuban Food .
  • Gourmet burget and beer at Father's Office 
  • Farmer's Market on third: gumbo, Banana Leaf, and Loteria!
I am drooling and I can't wait.

San Jose <--> Orange County for $35

Thanking my friend Jimmy for the tip. 

At long last, the California equivalent of the famed Boston <--> New York Chinatown bus.  Except this time, it's the Vietnamese venturing into cheap-o transportation territory.  Most days they offer one bus at 8:30 in the morning, but on weekends they offer an additional bus at 4pm.

Price includes a Lee's sandwich and a bottle of water.  Not bad considering you don't have to worry about driving or the hassle of clearing security at the airport.

Jimmy's caution: "They do play a Vietnamese variety show the ENTIRE trip so bring something to listen to on your own =P"


Lightning crashes in Chicago

FINALLY.  I've been trying to upload this stupid video onto YouTube for like two days.

Just in case you didn't believe me about the lightning, this is a small snippet of what it was like for at least 2-3 hours straight on Monday night.  Video taken from my hotel room on the 19th storey.  All I wonder is how crazy it would have been to see this from the Signature Lounge instead.

And, those sounds are not giant dumpsters being rolled around, it really was grand crashes of thunder.  The first half of the vid is more exciting--you don't need to watch the whole thing.

PS. Don't make fun of my dorky exclamations >_< .  Lightning is not something we get a lot of here in California.  So lay off!

Walking around Chicago.

Nothing too crazy today.  It was not as hot as predicted, but it did drizzle most of the day, and the evening saw thunderstorms with some pretty fantastic lightning shows.  Did some work in the morning, then brunch with an old high school friend and her baby at West Egg Cafe (got blueberry wheatgerm pancakes), then poked into Forever 21 and could not for the life of me decide on a color for this one dress, and so bought both.  Did more work in the afternoon, then had dinner in Wicker Park at a place called Jerry's, known for its oddball sandwiches.  I got the Tim R, smoked turkey, prosciutto, grilled onions, smoked gouda and asparagus on pretzel bread, with a side of mac n cheese and Thai cuke salad.  Yummy.