Archive | December, 2013

Weekly Snapshots

20 Dec

Having just completed my first semester of college, I realize how important it is to savor the small moments in life. You may be thinking, “This girl is only 18 and she’s writing as an 80 year-old!”. But when the weeks fly by, a blur between studying for exams, rushing from one appointment to another, and socializing, I have come to appreciate the little things that make every day special. Whether it is catching up on the New York Times over a latte or re-teaching myself how to knit a scarf, these moments allow me to slow down and reflect.

During the holiday season, when it is so easy to get carried away with buying gifts, decorating our homes, and stressing over party preparation, we should remind ourselves of all we have to be grateful for. I am an over-thinker and over-analyzer, my own toughest critic, and sometimes these traits have inhibited me from enjoying the present moment and being grateful. A recent death of an acquaintance really put things into perspective. Life is so precious, and rather than focus on always having a set plan, on constantly looking towards the future, I must be honest with myself, pursue activities that make me happy, and appreciate the wonderful people who surround me.

There is nothing more therapeutic than running on an empty track. Time stops and my mind drifts away, the huff-puffing of my breath and rhythmic thud of my sneakers engulfing me.

Little Flower Candy Company is a favorite, quaint breakfast spot in Pasadena.

In late November, I returned to my high school for the annual Yam Festival, a school-wide potluck. I contributed these coconut-yam macaroons and yam cupcakes with toasted marshmallow frosting (pictured below).

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Edible gifts are one of the simplest and most sincere ways of showing appreciation for others. Along with a few other treats, I made this salted-honey chocolate bark from the December issue of Bon Appétit, and sent care packages to my roommates.

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Sqirl

13 Dec

Sqirl, a tiny café located in the Virgil Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, has single-handedly fostered my passion for breakfast. Sqirl started as an artisanal jam company, using rare, local produce to create unique flavorings. Think Cranberry-Bourbon and Santa Rosa Plums with Flowering Thyme. Owner Jessica Koslow has applied this same vibrance and ingenuity to her breakfast and lunch café. I mean, just look at the spread. Every dish is colorful and interesting, combining flavors and textures in ways that speak to your pallet.

Brown rice bowl with sorrel pesto, poached egg, and crumbled feta.

Since discovering Sqirl over the summer, I visit on a weekly basis, indulging in rice bowls topped with delicately poached eggs, small-batch baked goods, masterfully-crafted coffees, and brioche toasts. Located off the beaten path, the café offers an intimate and cozy vibe, with eclectic background music and casual bar seating. Despite the decidedly unpretentious setting, Sqirl’s staff is serious about food and crafts each dish with impeccable attention to detail.

Brown butter blondie with raspberry and Tahitian vanilla bean jam.

The brioche toasts anchor the menu and showcases Sqirl’s wonderful jam. Being a nut butter enthusiast, I love the gritty almond-hazelnut butter slathered on top of a thick slice of brioche, and sealed with a layer of glossy peach jam. You can swap out the nut butter for house-made ricotta or rich chocolate ganache sprinkled with fleur de sel. While you may be tempted to raise your eyebrows at the heaping amount of marmalade, fear not. Unlike the cloying, overly-sweetened varieties available at grocery stores, these jams render flavor and freshness, with pieces of whole fruit still intact.

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If that isn’t enough to convince you to visit, the coffee is excellent. Since developing a taste for lattes a few months ago, I crave them on a daily basis. Sqirl not only serves a delightfully creamy latte, but a killer cappuccino with house-made almond milk.

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Sqirl
720 North Virgil Ave.
Ste. 4
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 284-8147
sqirlla.com
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Monday – Friday, 6:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.