DT Alert: Mas Malo

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More ridiculously good DT to tell you about.  It’s about T’nT again…. my FAVES!  I know you’re probably thinking  are the only things this girl eats and drinks Tacos and Tequila? kinda sorta yes.  I mean, if you planned my dream meal and any other random meal of the week, yes.  I’m like the Veruca Salt of tacos – Fish Tacos, Chicken Tacos, Beef Tacos, Potato Tacos, Shrimp Tacos – I want them all–give them to me now!  Side note: we even had breakfast tacos at our brunch the day after our wedding. Ob.Sessed.

I’ll admit I draw the line at late night drive throughs and Choco-Tacos, but truly I can dominate all sorts of tacos.   Some of my favorites are here in Venice,  here in Malibu, here and here in New York and now HERE in Downtown Los Angeles.

{I am a firm believer in having a go-to in any city I’m in — especially when I suddenly dying of hunger and need to be fed before I become the most painful person in the world to deal with…ask the Mr.  it’s true. very true.  he packs me snacks just in case}

Anyway, we were running some last-minute errands for our wedding a few weeks ago downtown including picking out flowers and picking up the Mr.’s ring and we stumbled upon Mas Malo. It’s actually right across the street from one of our other favorites, Bottega Louie.  It was only about 11am in the morning but they were open and serving brunch.

Yes, Please.

Mas Malo is an old jewelry building turned gorgeous Mexican Restaurant.  Huge Vaulted and Arched Ceilings, Marble Floors, Art Deco Inspired with Frescoes on the Wall.  Hardly your dive-y, cave-like Mexican joint.

Being that it was early Saturday morning and Downtown LA is not truly known for its weekend-morning vibe, we were the only ones in the restaurant! That was certainly a first, but kind of fun to have the place to ourselves.

{Side note: we went back a week later after this crazy midget wrestling and the place was packed}

The Mr. went with brunch – Huevos Rancheros and a Modelo; I got all Veruca Salt on the tacos and paired my Fish Taco Zucchini Blossom taco AND Ground Beef and Pickle taco with some Echo Park aka straight from the street cart Corn and a Michelada.

Shocker, but I strayed from the ‘nT at MM.

Not gonna lie.  I pretty much have been dreaming about these tacos since the minute I stuffed my face with them. {oh and the second time too since I ordered the EXACT SAME THREE TACOS}.  Creature Dreamer of Habit.  I kind of went out on a wire with the Beef and Pickle {and sure, the Zucchini Blossom too} – not your average tacos.  Actually way BETTER than your average tacos.  The zucchini blossom was every vegetarians dream come true in a taco and served on a corn tortilla, it brought forward all of the best of each of the flavors.  The combo of the pickle and beef taco far over-delivered on my expectations – it was simply outstanding and I laughed to find out its ever-so-trite origin

“It’s simple. I was twelve years old and my mom was prepping for hamburgers when she realized she had no bread. She took a tortilla and turned it into hard taco with the beef and the pickles. Since then I haven’t wanted hamburgers any other way.” — Malo and Mas Malo chef Robert Luna

The only thing that was a miss – the Migas.  They weren’t bad, they just weren’t anything special in comparison to the rest. Wavering thumb for the Mr…

Good thing I usually order more than I can eat!

Tell me – where are the best taco spots in your neighborhood?

Is there something that you could eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

{MF Dre}

DT Alert: Plan Check.

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I’ve always been a fan of the restaurants lining Sawtelle Bvd. in “Little Osaka” –  West LA’s Japanese thoroughfare.  They’ve got everything – shabu shabu, sushi, curry, charcoal-grilled meat, ramen, and imported groceries.  With so many restaurants side-by-side along this street its pretty difficult to pick where to stumble into.  In the last few months, I noticed a new decidedly un-Japanese spot pop up on the North end of the street, Plan Check and decided to try it this week with a fun friend I met through my obsession with lulu.

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Intrigued by the menu filled with craft beers, waygu beef burgers and sweet potato waffle fries, add this to the list of gastropubs lining the city.

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We started with the Stuffed Mushroom – a Portobello stuffed with swiss cheese, crispy kale and steak sauce.  Serious heaven.
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Then followed it up with the Albacore Tuna with Tempura Rockshrimp and the PCB (Plan Check Burger)
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If you’re a fan of Umami Burger, the burgers at Plan Check are easily recognized by the creative toppings and intensely delicious beef flavor because the menu has been created by former chef, Ernesto Uchimura.  We absolutely killed the burger.  It was amazing.  The tuna was OK.  I would definitely not order it again not because it was bad, but it hardly lived up to the DT factor that the mushroom and burger brought.

aaaaand then there was dessert

Cruller Donuts with Fresh Whipped Cream and Bananas.

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baked fresh.to.order.   these are musts.

I was thinking about how I’d rate Plan Check on the DT Scale.  Where I netted was that I would certainly go back – I’d bring the Mr. we’d have a burger, some beers, maybe some waffle cut sweet potato fries, and of course some Donuts — we’d completely fat out for the night – but once I’d taken the Mr.,  I wouldn’t go back again.  For me the menu is entirely too small and not that diverse.  It’s absolutely great for a cocktail and a bite, but there isn’t enough diversity to the menu for my tastes and if I’m really craving a burger and a beer, I’d rather stumble into Father’s Office where arguably they have the best burger in town.

The verdict on Plan Check:  Blow your diet on this {but only once}.

{MF Dre}

DT Alert: The Unmarked Velvet Rope.

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I’ve always been one for a dining adventure and last night was no exception.  To most New Yorkers, it’s a poorly kept secret that there is a restaurant buried below The Corner or La Esquina taqueria. The secret however, is finding it. And Getting in.

  Accessible via an unmarked door in back of a casual taqueria where SoHo and Nolita connect, the restaurant bears no phone number – its entrance is completely disguised to the unknowing diner.  Yet reservations are mandatory.

So how do you get past a velvet rope that you cannot even see?

  That secret is still one I’m still dying to find out.
Lucky for me, I have friends in the know.  They’re sworn to secrecy, but more than willing to make the call for the Mr. and I to have special birthday dinner together before the weekend wedding festivities take over.

Behind the unmarked door, we traveled down a narrow flight of stairs, squeezed through cheaply-lit and tin can lined kitchen, through the laundry room and around twisted corners before we entered the Mexican dungeon filled with distressed stone walls, candelabras, and private dining cells.

Pure Mexican Romance clashing with Vibrant Crowds, Lively Music and Unstoppable Energy.

La Esquina was perfection.

In the spirit of adventure, we let the waitress order for us, looking to be surprise and delighted.  She didn’t fail bringing out Ceviche and Plaintain Chips, Shrimp and Carnitas Tacos, Carne Asada, Platanos Fritos and their famous Grilled Corn along with a round of tequila for each course. {Reminder, it’s not a birthday without TnT}

It was pure insanity. One of the best dinners we’ve had in a long time.

While there is a piece of me that wishes we had La Esquina in LA, there’s something incredibly sexy and fun about being a part of something hidden, insider and underground in a city outside your home turf.  It’s one of the reasons we travel.  To uncover the hidden gems, the secret caves and the unique tokens that make up this crazy world.  It keeps us curious, and most certainly inspired to always say yes to any adventure.

Figure out how to get behind the velvet rope.

{MF Dre}

DT Alert: Fashionable Food.

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Breakfast has long been a staple and more or less the critical “quick fuel” to start my day.  Lately though, I’ve tried to take a bit more of a leisurely approach to breakfast, easing into the morning over brunch at one of the many outstanding LA restaurants.

I was catching up on some old emails the other day and came across this infographic about the importance of breakfast.
While I don’t need a lot of convincing, it was interesting to read that 1 in 2 people spend more time thinking about their outfit than breakfast.

Fashion vs. Food.

Over a recent brunch with friends at one of our favorite spots, the food may have very well been the fashion.

We’ve been to Gjelina more than a handful of times, and it ranks as one of our tops spots for dinner, with it’s Venice cool vibe, indoor/outdoor seating, laid back creative crowd and ecclectic farm-to-table menu. We’d been wanting to try their brunch for some time . Good News/Bad News – this place is beyond popular.  If you get there early for brunch – early meaning pre-10am, you can typically sneak in without a reservation, but come 10:30, you may wait for a good hour+ without a reservation.

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Gjelena’s menu rotates based on what’s fresh, local and available so you’re not guaranteed the same menu twice.

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What.to.order?

With the freshest ingredients and a no-substitution rule, Gjelina banishes the fleeting dietary trends {no this, no that, this on the side} and celebrates the true fashion of food – clashing palettes, tastes and textures while bringing together bold and edgy combinations that make for one hell of a food fashion statement.

Gjelina Menu

 Neiman Ranch BLT with a Sunny Egg, Moroccan Baked Eggs and the Grilled Peaches with Proscuitto and Burrata. 

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If a fashionista OWNS their look with passion, Gjelina OWNS their food with passion.

Gjelina hands-down kills it each.and.every.time

{MF Dre}

Rotten Bananas.

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I’m the girl who buys green bananas. The greener the better. I’ll even ask the person working in the produce department to find me greener bananas if the selection is too yellow for my likings.

total banana snob.

Promise I don’t eat them green. Total Yuck. I mean you can barely peel them so how could you eat them???   I buy them green so that a week later when I’m near the end of the bunch, I’m not eating totally rotten brown bananas. Gross. Disgusting. Rotten.

Those brown spots are just evil.

But my Mom always told me they were the sweetest.

  {Yes Mom, I’m finally listening}

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The other day I cam home to these.

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Imagine my horror.

Where is the trash?

and then I the Mr. reminded me that I’m thrifty and I don’t waste so I better figure out a solution for the disgusting rotten bananas that the fruit flies were about to attack.  We eat what we buy and I hate to throw away food.

So I added a little of this.

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Butter and Brown Sugar.

Mixed in some smushed rotten bananas and miraculously came about this caramelized banana goodness

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which then became the base {or the top} of a scrumptious mom was right Caramelized “rotten” Banana Cake. Pinky Prom it does not taste rotten. Total opposites day.  It’s the lightest, fluffiest, yummiest, caramely-ist, banana cake ever.  Eat it for breakfast, eat it for lunch, brunch, with bacon, with ice cream or even as the base for french toast, you want this.
Big time.

Caramelized Banana Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled + 3 tablespoons

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar + 1/3 cup

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 bananas, mashed (about 1 1/4 cups) + 2 bananas, sliced

1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of butter, and let sizzle and melt, then whisk in 1/3 cup brown sugar and add in the sliced bananas in a single layer. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside while making batter.

In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter and sugars. Once combined, whisk in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add in flour mixture , then add in mashed bananas and mix. Add in milk; mix until combined. Pour skillet  bananas into a cast iron baking pan and spread evenly.  Pour batter over banana mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cake is golden and testing stick comes out clean. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then serve warm with a heavy scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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{MF Dre}

Dated.

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Apple Pie, Peanut Butter Cookie, Banana Bread, Ginger Snap, Coconut Cream Pie, Carrot Cake, Pecan Pie, Lemon Bar

Picture that bakery case.  Deeeelicious.

 {and most certainly completely inappropriate for any dreams of a girlish figure … or proper fuel for anything more than a crash and burn}

One of the most common misconceptions of athletes is that we must be able to eat whatever we want.  For some, maybe, but for me, unfortunately not.  What I eat directly correlates to my mental and physical performance and over the years I’ve learned that sugar, dairy and gluten have become some of my worst fueling enemies and contributed to more than a few failed runs.

Accordingly, I tend to center my diet around whole, natural fruits, vegetables, proteins and select grains for peak mental and physical energy.   One of my favorite snacks is the Larabar which comes in all the aforementioned ‘dessert case’ flavors, but built with just a few ingredients – simple. natural. delicious.

I set out to try to create my own version of the Larabar recently via a recipe I discovered in Move Nourish Believe by Lorna Jane. BTW, have I mentioned Lorna Jane is amazing?

Well, So Is This Recipe.

With their natural sweetness, dates form the base of this recipe along with chopped almonds and cinnamon.  I whipped out my handy-dandy As Seen on TV purchase – the Magic Bullet blender – to chop everything up and these came together rather effortlessly.

All I needed was about a dozen large dates, 1/2 cup of raw Almonds, 3/4 tsp cinnamon, a dash of fennel seeds and black pepper

Roll, Refrigerate, Slice, Dip.

Let me tell you.  These things are completely and totally in.a.health.nut.kind.of way DT.  I popped a few before my early morning run today and found them to be the perfect (and stomach friendly) fuel to power me through 8 tempo’d miles.  Will I make them again?? 100% hands down yes – and next time I plan on experimenting with adding additional flavors  like banana, blueberry, cashews, coconut or unsweetened dried cherries.

The only eeeensy weensy problem is that now I’m going to have to buy two Costco size boxes of dates instead of one because I already inhale eat at least one of these every two weeks.

So anyway,  scratch that brownie pie, peanut butter cookie or cherry cobbler – make these pronto. Your waistline {and your workout} will thank you.

{MF Dre}

DT Alert: Pizza Date with a Pirate.

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Similar to Milestone Monday posts, I’ve started a new themed post.

DT Alerts

For those of you who are new readers or just want a refresher.  The Mr. and I have created our own lingo for anything that is mind-blowing and ridiculously grub worthy…DT aka Delicious Town.  Often we have contests to see who can pick the best restaurant or make the best meal, dessert etc and It begins with something along the lines of  “Take me to Delicious Town”.

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The other night, I met the Mr. after work for a date at Stella Rossa Pizza Bar.   I walked into the restaurant to find out that the Mr. had really pulled it together for the evening… I had a date with a Pirate.

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{luckily in LA, the grungy I didn’t shower and haven’t shaved in over a week look is pesudo-acceptable}

People have been raving about Stella Rossa calling it the best thing that’s come to Santa Monica.  I’m always skeptical when there’s so much “best” buzz.  So we put it to the test.

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Originally we were just going to order the Salumi and Sweet Corn Pizza, but when the couple next to us were served the Mushroom and Truffle, the overwhelming scent of truffle couldn’t be resisted so we doubled up on pizzas.

The true review:  The Salad was great, light, slightly fruity and perfectly drizzled with a balsamic glaze. Pizzas were good. Not excellent.

We had hoped that the Salumi and Sweet Corn would deliver the perfect Savory & Sweet combination.  Instead it was heavier on the sweet than the savory.  While the arugula tempered the sweet, we both were left wishing there had been a bit more Salumi on the pizza.

The Mushroom and Truffle was an aromatic delight but left nothing else a chance to shine.  For as many mushrooms and herbs that were on this pizza, we wished that the truffle had been paired back so that we could enjoy more than what tasted like truffle crust.

And speaking of crust.  Good, not excellent.  Worth leaving on the side of the plate.

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While this seems like a pan of Stella Rossa, it’s not.  The food was good, not excellent – We liked the atmosphere, the bar, the service was great, the crowd and music was fun and upbeat and showing up looking like a pirate is totally acceptable.  That said,  since we have also been to this place for pizza in Santa Monica – {repeatedly I might add}, I have no qualms saying that Stella Rossa is NOT the best pizza in Santa Monica. Go HERE first.

Walking out, I stopped next door at M Street Bakery {same owner as Stella Rossa} for few sweet treats to bring home.

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12 - 1A hit and a total miss.  Can you guess which one?

{MF Dre}