November Favorites 2021

I’m so thankful for getting to try so many different restaurants and experience wonderful places. Many of this months’ favorites are from my recent Arizona roadtrip that I took. Come check out my recs for my November favorites!

$: Arizona Humane Society Thrfit Shop; Society of St Vinent De Paul – Scottsdale

$ Bargain

Thrifted Goods (Society of St Vincent De Paul- Scottsdale): Hands down best thrift shop in Scottsdale, AZ. Everything is very reasonably priced and they have a cool bridal section if you’re in the market. If I come back to Phoenix I will definitely want to make a trip here. Read my complete review here.

Thrifted Goods (Arizona Humane Society Thrift Shop): This is another awesome second hand shop with great finds! You definitely need to dig but all purchases benefit fur babies and that alone is hard to beat. On this trip I bought a pair of Jimmy Choos for $2 (!!!!), a Banana Republic jumpsuit for $4, and brand new Talbots Gold Flats for $2. Click here to read more.

$$ from Left to Right First Row: French Cruller (Tourist Home Cafe), Italian Sandwich (Sedona Memories Cafe & Bakery), Salad (Flower Child); Second Row: Local Goods (Gilbert Farmers Market), Creme Brulee Donuts (The Local Donut), Historical Site (Montezuma’s Castle

$$ Moderate

French Cruller (Tourist Home Cafe): If I visit Flagstaff, AZ again I will definitely be back for these bad boys! They’re served daily until noon, but can sell out! so pick these up early. Read details here. It’s three bucks for one of these “donuts” – I say that because it’s more like a churro.

Creme Brulee Schmancy Donut (The Local Donut): One of the best donuts I’ve had period. Read all about this Phoenix, AZ favorite here. $3.50 for a little piece of heaven.

Historical Site (Montezuma Castle): What?! Not food? Honestly, the highlight of my Arizona adventure. It’s incredible to see how resourceful Indians were back then and to see it in person is remarkable. $10 admission. Read more here.

Salad (Flower Child – Gilbert): I make salad for lunch regularly, but I aspire to make salad like this! The butternut squash and organic pear salad has loads of delicious ingredients including candied pecan, cranberries, ricotta salata and more. The salad by itself is $10.95, but patrons can add a protein for an additional fee. Salmon would be my choice. There are multiple locations; read the full review here.

Italian Sandwich (Sedona Memories Cafe & Bakery): I was looking for a good lunch spot and this cafe popped up as a local favorite. The sandwich is HUGE, both in size and in flavor. Get the Italian and you won’t regret it. $9.95 for the sando. Read more here.

Local Goods (Gilbert Farmers Market): The variety of small business products is awesome here! Open 8am-12pm on Saturdays this is a popular spot to enjoy local and support small. I have a VERY lengthy review here that gives my picks and tips!

$$$: Chai Tea – Loose Leaf (Prickly Pear Tea Co); Tortilla (Benny Blanco)

$$$ Splurge

Handmade Tortilla (Benny Blanco): Damn! Fresh tortilla made with lard is delicious! For $7 for 6 large tortilla it’s definitely a splurge. I think you can get twice as many for two bucks or so at other places, but if you feel like indulging this would hit the spot. They’re working on shipping, but for now they can be found at the Gilbert Farmers Market. Check out their website here.

Tea (Prickly Pear Tea Co): It’s not often that I splurge on drinks (especially for myself) but for $20 for a bag of hand picked Prickly Pear (which is also very unique), I couldn’t help myself but get two. LOL I spoke to the owner, who I met at the Uptown Farmers Market in Phoenix, AZ and she said that they were contacted by Mayo Clinic as there’s immense benefits to consuming Prickly Pears! The Chai Prickly Pear is the best. They ship if you’re interested. Click here.

Which of these finds are you hoping to try?

Until Next Time,

Irene

October Favorites 2021

Come check out my favorite finds for this month!

$ Misc things I thrifted at (Assistance League of Huntington Beach)

$ Bargain

Thrift Shop (Assistance League of Huntington Beach): I started thrifting a little more frequently this month as I was in the market for a couple of pieces for my cosplays, some of which I found here. The hours are limited and the store is relatively small; however, I usually find at least one hidden gem, whether it’s clothing, knick knacks, craft material or others. Every Saturday they usually have a 1/2 off sale on whatever designated item which is the section of the store I will visit. Read my entire review here.

$$ Shrimp Tacos (Marisco 4 Viento), San Marcos stay (AirBnB), Chicken Soup (Lourdes)

$$ Moderate

Shrimp Taco (Marisco 4 Vientos): I was doing a photoshoot with friends up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA so naturally I wanted some authentic Mexican fare. They don’t look that photogenic; however, the deep fried shrimp taco ($2.50) is definitely worth getting. Read here to see what else I ate.

Room (AirBnB): When I plan a trip my room/board destination isn’t usually the highlight of a trip; however, this stay in San Marcos was well beyond my expectations. For $84 a night (plus cleaning fee, service fee etc), I was given a comfortable bed, hot shower, breakfast, an amazing outdoor patio view, a private playground (w/ a trampoline), golf course, and a well stocked snack section. Honestly, if I didn’t have my weekend planned out already this would have been an amazing place to just stay in. See stay here.

Chicken Soup (Lourdes): I doubt most people would go out of their way for soup, but the chicken soup here is definitely worth the drive! For a 32oz bowl ($9.65) you get fresh flour or corn tortilla, slices of avocado, a well seasoned soup that’s perfect for a cold day. Read the full review here.

$$$ Jasmine Wig (C80thingamabob)

$$$ Splurge

Jasmine Wig (C80thingamabob): I commissioned this wig from C80thingamabobs (IG) back in July; however, I never got a chance to wear her until Halloween weekend. I was so incredibly impressed with it. It is heavy, but it looks just like the original Disney parks Jasmine wig and I got so many compliments wearing her. The wig was $225 plus shipping, but honestly I felt like a million bucks and a true princess.

Which of these finds are you hoping to try?

Until Next Time,

Irene

September Favorites 2021

Wake me up when September ends…

Welp! It’s now the end of September and time for another round of my monthly favorites! Check them out below!

$: Almond Cookies (Phoenix Bakery), Museum (Chinese American Museum(

$ Bargain

Almond Cookies (Phoenix Bakery): Situated in the heart of Chinatown LA, CA is Phoenix Bakery, which is home to their delicious Almond Cookies. I’ve purchased a double dozen box ($6.95) twice in the same month, which should be saying something! Read all about it here.

Museum (Chinese American Museum): This three story hub offers complimentary admission for all visitors. I thought it was a great exhibit to learn about the Chinese immigrants and their contributions to New Chinatown ironically located in Chinatown LA, CA. Read more here

$$: Mini Taiyaki (Costco), Vegan Burger (Burgerlords)

$$ Moderate

Mini Taiyaki (Costco): I’m usually pretty good about my purchases from Costco in terms of moderation for a particular purchase – that was not the case with Suji’s Taiyaki. I bought four boxes in one week *gasp* But only because it’s not regularly stocked at my Costco (For some odd reason).This 30 count fish shaped dessert found in the freezer section has been in my regular snack rotation since I’ve started using an air fryer. For $10.54 a box I now can experience a taste of Japan in the comfort of my home. If you like crispy dough and cream custard you would love this!

Vegan Burger (Burgerlords): I’m open to trying new food and I really enjoyed my “cheeseburger” here. At $9 a pop, this fast food joint does a good job creating a meat-free option. Read about my experience here.

$$$ Oogie Boogie Bash (Disneys California Adventures)

$$$ Splurge

Oogie Boogie Bash (Disney’s California Adventure): Trick or Treating with villains and dressing up in costume to Disney? Yes please! While this event in Anaheim, California is sold out I enjoyed the character meet-n-greets and definitely stocked up on candy/health snacks from the Trick-or-Treat Trails. Also the lines for rides in DCA were very short! See more photos of the rare character encounters here here.

So Fall is just around the corner, which means lots of pumpkin flavors. Are you a fan or prefer other seasonal flavors?

Until Next Time,

Irene

Enjoying a little bit of France in Fresno

I love bread, but it all goes to my hips, so, I seldom eat carbs now in days. However, on my recent Fresno trip I stumbled upon a little bakery called The Brioche Lady – the name alone perked up my ears and I was eager to try her baked goods. When I entered, to my right were two racks of fresh Brioche with little colored stickers indicating their flavors. They have a lot of traditional, as well as asian inspired fillings, so my parents and I bought a couple of loaves: strawberry cream cheese, taro, and red bean.

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cute decor and my three loaves!

We also tried the chocolate chip croissant warmed up and a Croque Madame (brioche, ham, egg, sandwich). The appearance of the Croque Madame wasn’t as elegant as I imagined in my head, but it tasted good, and the chocolate chip croissant was buttery and flakey. Definitely worthy of the calories.

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We asked if they could slice and warm up for us – it was heavenly 😀

I gifted one of the loaves to my uncle who loves bread and even though we were going to have lunch, he dug in and wanted to try some. Little did I know his little piece turned out to be 1/4 of the loaf (!!!) but I can’t blame him, since I myself also kept eating my leftovers.

If you’re in the Fresno area this little bakery is definitely a wonderful charming place to indulge in carbs – especially if you’re not baking sourdough at home. Did I mention that they’re award winning too? (2017 People’s Choice Award – Fresno Food Expo)

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

The Brioche Lady

1085 E Herndon Ave #101

Fresno, CA 93720

Chowing Down on Authentic German Cuisine in Colorado Springs, CA

Colorado is known for it’s picture perfect scenery, but when its came to food, I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what to expect.  It was my first time visiting this state, so when my coworkers (who were based out in Colorado) made reservations to their favorite German restaurant I figured I’d be in for a treat! And right I was! Upon entering I noticed several awards and accolades and crossed my fingers that Edelweiss Restaurant would be all that and more.

Live Entertainment

Our party of 20 entered the restaurant and it was truly decked out in an old world fashion. It seemed as if we were were transported to a German square and I had major Pinocchio vibes. There were many wooden furnishings and while the restaurant was spacious it had a cozy warm feel to it. We were seated quite promptly in a long table and menu had many traditional offerings. A singer came by and serenaded to use with his accordion, as we were deciding on what to order.

Rahmschnitzel ($20.50)

After thoughtful consideration I ordered the Rahmschnitzel, a breaded boneless pork cutlet sautéed and topped with a mushroom cream sauce, house spatzle, and fresh vegetables, as it came highly recommend. Boy! let me tell you this is definitely not diet food, but considering I almost died on the Manitou Incline (Post here) I felt this dinner was worthy of the calories.I essentially polished off the plate and looking at my coworkers entrees it seemed that everyone enjoyed their meal as well.

Do you have a go-to entree when you eat German food? Schnitzel? Bratwurst? Something else?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

A Dozen Delicious Tamales Demolished From The Tamale Lady in Chicago, IL

I live in Southern California so I have very high expectations of Mexican food so when I learned that Chicago has a thriving tamale scene I had to see it for myself. After extensive research many reviewers gave high marks to “The Tamale Lady” in Pilsen and raved about her hand-made pockets of joy especially the ones with spicy green sauce. A few even stated that there would be long lines bright and early in the morning and that they were worth the wait.    

Green Chicken (Spicy) and Red Pork (Mild) Tamales

The weather forecasted rain, but since I saw photos of her standing in the snow during the winter months I had no doubt she’d sell her goods in case it poured cats and dogs – and I was right! There was no line at 9am (probably because of the rain and humidity) and she had everything available. I decided to grab a dozen of the tamales with green chicken (spicy) and a half dozen with red pork (mild) to bring back home for my family and friends to enjoy a piece of Chicago. But before packing them up, I took it upon myself to be a guinea pig and taste test one of the red ones. Oh-Em-Gee, it was delicious!! The corn to meat ratio was perfect and the flavor brought everything together cohesively.

Tamale Cart

I recently went to a “must eat” tamale shop in LA recently, and I would rather have the tamales from THIS lady. For $15 a dozen or $1.25 for a single, I would definitely come back and buy more!

Between the two tamales – if you could only have one which would you pick? Red Pork (mild) or Green Chicken (spicy)?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

The Tamale Lady
21ST Pl, Chicago, IL 60608

Hours
Sun – Sat: 7am until they sell out

Snacking on a “Match Made in Heaven” duo in Grand Rapids, MI

I didn’t really know much about Grand Rapids and as such I did not have high expectations on the food scene. However, to my surprise there were several restaurants that came on my radar. One of them was Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop, a small mom n’ pop restaurant specializing in homemade soups! They rotates twelve made from scratch batches and patrons can choose to enjoy alone or pair them one of their with gourmet sandwiches creations – yum!

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Counter

The store is certainly eclectic and because the menu changes frequently all soups are written on a chalk board. The descriptions all looked incredible and as a first timer I didn’t know where to start. Luckily everyone is allowed to sample before making a purchase which is awesome since the flavor profiles of each were so different!

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Enjoying my Soup and Sammy

I eventually decided to grab a cup of the Reuben (stand alone) and Tomato Saffron to pair it with The Old Goat Sandwich (White Cheddar, pulled Mozzarella, and Rosemary Goat Cheese Spread). It was comfort food, but not super dense that I couldn’t move for the rest of the afternoon. They also have a sister store called The Electric Cheetah, which is more of a traditional sit-down dinning experience with a larger menu (beyond soups and sandwiches), if you were interested and just down the street, but this meal was perfect for what I needed.

While I was trying to stay away from carbs, I felt that my calories were well spent at Uncle Cheetahs.

What would be your cheat meal?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop
1133 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
(616) 451-4780

Hours
Sun: 11am – 5pm
Mon-Sat: 11am – 8pm

 

Best Thing I Ever Ate – Buttery Soft Smoked Salmon in Ann Arbor, MI

Salmon is my all time favorite fish (See Best Sashimi in LA Post) so when I found, Durhams Tracklements & Smokery, a highly rated smoked salmon shop I immediately added it to my Midwest Roadtrip list. The days of operation were limited (only open three days!) so I didn’t know if I’d be able to check them out, but lord and behold the route dates were set so that I’d be in Ann Arbor on a day they’d be open!! Woo!

Storefront

On the outside there were two large rainbow fish flags that flew in the wind against the dusty red and white brick and mortar. While the location was in Kerrytown, a prominent neighborhood in Ann Arbor, the storefront was very discrete and had I not intentionally added this as a destination to the GPS I would have easily missed out on this hidden gem.

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Menu for the day

When you enter inside the interior resembled the back of a warehouse than an actual store. There was an open kitchen with various appliances, and an exposed fridge with fish and cheese products. But if you looked on the left side of the room, one wall was plastered with various accolades and publication mentions.  I had a feeling it was going to be good, but I wasn’t prepared for what was in store for me.

Owner preparing some samples

The owner came greeted us at the front and gave us an overview on his products. He informed us that the Atlantic salmon was sustainably farmed and flown directly to Tracklements from Norway. They are then smoked by hand in small batches and packed in hand-trimmed pieces in vacuum sealed packages. Afterwards he asked if we’d like to sample a few and we happily obliged. I found the hot smoked salmon tasty, but once I put the cold smoked salmon slice in my mouth I felt like time stopped. The fish just melted in my mouth. It was so creamy and velvety. What was going on?! It was so indulgent without feeling heavy. My friend and I looked at each other and without words we knew that we needed to buy at least several packets.

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salmon purchases

A few minutes later a (what looked like a regular customer) came by and dropped $200 (!!!) for 4 packets of his Solstice (a seasonal variety) and some smoked meats. He commented on how the Solstice (aka “The Peat”) was only prepared during certain times of year, so my friend and I decided to pick up one (afraid that had we not the next customer would buy all of them!). We also selected the original cold smoked salmon (The Highland), the Ras el Hanout, and a Smoked Duck (yes, random, but why not?!). It’s not a wonder why Tracklement’s was recognized as a top mail ordered item from the New York Times  “Best Holiday Foods By Mail” 1995, 1997, 2002 etc. Another customer commented that she often shipped this to her children when they were in college and after trying the samples, I would be ecstatic if my family sent me this!

This was easily my favorite food/meal on the trip and would praise hallelujah if I received a package from Tracklemsents. If you received a mail-order package, what would you be most excited to see?

 

 

Tracklements – 212 E. Kingsley St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Wed 10am-3pm; Fri 10am-5pm; Sat 8am-3pm

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Tracklements
212 E. Kingsley St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 930-6642

Hours
Sun – Tues: Closed
Wed: 10am – 3pm
Thurs: Closed
Fri: 10am- 5pm
Sat: 8am – 3pm

Trying one of Granada Hill’s Best Kept Secret

It’s not often that I travel to this part of Los Angeles, but when my friend bragged about this place in great detail I decided to see what it was all about. On Yelp FurnSaj Bakery and Restaurant is one of a few restaurants with a perfect 5 star rating and with over 700 reviews I figure it was certainly worth a trip to see for myself.

Lamb Gyro Plate ($12.99)

The restaurant is situated in a strip mall and while on the outside it looks like any typical shop this casual bakery has a great selection of Lebanese food for all to enjoy. My friend and I shared a lamb gyro plate ($12.99), which included succulent slices of lamb, two sides and saj bread. we could barely finish half and I ordered another cheese bread with honey ($3.99) because I was curious to test it out. There was way too much food, but everything was prepared on the spot so it was all delicious!

Cheese Labneh Honey ($3.99?)

For less than $20 and two people can enjoy an affordable and tasty meal with ample leftovers. I can’t wait to come back and try some of the other labneh combinations.

 

FurnSaj Bakery and Restaurant

11146 Balboa Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 91344

 

Have you tried Lebanese food? What’s your favorite item?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Nomming on my favorite healthy, keto, low carb and affordable food in San Gabriel, CA

Sashimi is one of my favorite foods. It’s both healthy and tasty, but often comes with a premium price tag. However, my good friend recommended this uh-mazing fish market – Yama Seafood (Yelp), which serves high quality tuna, salmon, yellowtail etc at a very affordable pricepoint making it the holy trinity meal (Cheap, Healthy, Tasty). As such Yama’s is on my regular circuit of places to eat at when I’m visiting the area.

Salmon, two types of Tuna, and Yellowtail

There’s usually a long line at all peck meal hours (think lunch and dinner time rush) most of the week for Mr. Yama to cut the fish. He’s well known in the Japanese community as being an amazing fishmonger as he takes his time to carefully craft each cut and it’s definitely worth it. I think the two plates of food above was around $60 and super filling for two people.

The quality is very comparable to a $$$ Japanese sushi restaurant, but for a fraction of the cost since you’re not paying for a traditional dinning experience. Personally, I value quality food over a scenic environment, so my friend and I often take the styrofoam plate back to her place to enjoy at home.

Yama Seafood
911 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776

 

Do you enjoy sashimi? What’s your fish of choice?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar