Monday, April 5, 2010

birthMONTH

Wow.  This birthday has really topped all other birthdays (check out 2009 here and previous birthdays here)... probably because it turned into an entire birthmonth.  That's right, a birthmonth -- because why have just one day?

So it all started off at The Abbey in West Hollywood.  I invited friends to ring in my birthday a bit early as my actual birthday fell during law school spring break.  In an attempt to maximize attendance, I planned it well in advance.


My new friend Travis went above and beyond the call of duty -- he reserved a table for us and surprised me with a birthday cake from Babycakes!  I think that elevates him to best friend status, don't you?  The picture above is of Travis, Allison, and I.


Any regular reader of this site knows that I'm a sucker for Babycakes.  Now that they've opened in L.A. you can catch me there most Mondays!  We had a really fun night with an eclectic group of people; some college friends, some law school friends, some L.A. friends... it was great.  Thanks everybody!

A few days later my friends Hilary, Jess, Mike, and Amy and I went to lunch at El Cholo.  It's a great Mexican spot with multiple locations in L.A.  The restaurant offers 50% for USC students Monday-Wednesday at their location on Western.  They have tons of gluten free options; I had the blue corn enchiladas and loved them.


Unfortunately my friends wouldn't let me escape the restaurant without having the waitresses sing to me for my birthday.  I guess I shouldn't complain... thanks guys!  This dessert was a delicious gluten free flan.

Of course Hilary wouldn't let me off that easily... she forced me to go to Babycakes with her and indulge again.  Do you notice a recurring theme?  My friend's know the way to please me is overdosing on gluten free food.  Again, I can't complain.

The cookiewiches at Babycakes send me to heaven so I had to go for one of those.  The donuts are great too, as are the Brownie cupcakes.  The Brownie cupcakes are far and away my favorite Babycakes cupcakes.  I absolutely love when they have Brownie Mint -- I can't get enough of that combination.  Thanks girl!

My friends LoFo, Amanda, Sarah, and I were finally able to resume our Monday night TV watching after an extended break... and Sarah brought me some great gluten free treats!  She gave me the Peanut Butter & Jelly chocolate bar from Trader Joe's as well as a Trader Joe's nougat bar.  Both are normally found by the register and are unbelievably amazing.  They are also marked as having no gluten ingredients.  If asked for a preference, I'd have to say the nougat was my favorite.  She also gave me a box of ThinkThin bites.  Thanks Sarah!

Then my friend LoFo and I took the party bicoastal -- that's right, we went to New York City!  Her mother was generous enough to send us with lots of peanut M & Ms, my personal favorite.



I love New York... despite the weather.  And we suffered some serious weather!  Our first day was wonderful; we were able to go shopping in the Meatpacking District, walk around the West Village, and generally explore New York.  LoFo had only been to New York City once before, and never as a 21 year old, so it was my mission to show her around and try to share what I know about it.  I've never lived in the city for a substantive period of time... but I know my way around pretty well!  When we first arrived we went to my favorite diner Veselka.  Lauren indulged in a cheese blintz -- it's in Little Ukraine so she had to!  I used to frequent this place the summer I lived in the city.  After a little power nap (since we had taken a red eye flight), we were welcomed to the city by LoFo's friend Samantha, who took us to Tortilla Flats for some tequila shots and delicious corn chips and guacamole.  Totally gluten free!  We also stopped in at Tu-Lu's Gluten Free Bakery, as it was right next to where we were staying in the East Village.  Check out my previous post on Tu-Lu's here.

I can't believe I'm about to write this but... on the same day we also visited Magnolia Bakery!  LoFo had never visited and since we were in the West Village we figured, why not?



Walking in I was assaulted by the taste of sweet sweet gluten... but luckily made it out of there with a flourless chocolate tort!  I really enjoyed it... it wasn't my favorite flourless chocolate dessert, but it was nice to have an option at Magnolia.



However, be aware, this is NOT made in a dedicated gluten free facility or gluten free premises.  While I experienced no problem with it, you may (and probably do!) have different sensitivity levels than I do.



It was a crazy hectic trip, but I was so lucky to be able to have a great gluten free dinner with my Brooklyn friends (picture above).  We went to Caracas Arepas Bar and it was, as I write in this post, amazing.

The next day the weather didn't continue to hold for us but it wasn't awful... we walked around SoHo and did some shopping.  Of course I couldn't be in SoHo without taking LoFo to my favorite (as well as my sister's favorite) Rice to Riches.  I absolutely love the flavors there and the entire atmosphere.  We opted for the French Toast and Sex, Drugs, and Rocky Road flavors mixed together.

Then the next day, Saturday the 13th... was a monsoon.  And my birthday.  I woke up early to head to Trader Joe's Wine Shop on 14th Street to pick up some wine bottles for the night's celebrations... and somehow carried 14 bottles three avenue blocks in a cardboard box through what can only be described as a torrential downpour.  I was terrified that the soaking wet cardboard wouldn't hold the bottles and I would end up on a New York street soaking wet with nothing but broken glass bottles.  Fortunately, that didn't happen.

Needless to say LoFo and I had a rough day with the weather but tried to make the best of it by visiting the flagship Bloomingdale's and Dylan's Candy Bar.  The two are right across the street from each other at 59th and Lexington so it made it pretty easy for us to enjoy both shops.  Everybody from L.A. kept telling me to go to Dylan's Candy Bar -- why had I never been before?  This place is heaven for me, as I'm a huge candy guy.  It's a little strange, actually, how much I enjoy candy.  Why hasn't Dylan opened up one of these candy bars here in L.A.?!  It would be a nice break from all of the frozen yogurt...

Luckily I was able to salvage the day with a great dinner party in the East Village.  I was a little nervous about this night, because I had found this particular sushi place through Yelp!  It had great reviews on Yelp but I had a large party coming and didn't have any personal experience with the restaurant.


Luckily the restaurant, Fu Sushi, turned out to be amazing.  The restaurant had a byob policy -- we showed up with at least 14 bottles of wine and it was no problem!  The restaurant and our waitress were very accommodating despite having a pretty large party.  I would definitely recommend Fu Sushi to anybody looking for a great BYOB sushi place in the city.  They even brought me out some amazing ice cream to help celebrate my birthday!

The next day was a recovery day for LoFo, who I think drank a few of those 14 bottles of wine on her own.  Whoops?  The weather still wasn't great so I took LoFo's sick day as an opportunity to run around and meet up with some college friends.  My mother had sent me a Babycakes gift certificate that was only good in the New York shop so I didn't let the opportunity go to waste; I invited my friend Clara to meet me there and indulge in some delicious gluten free treats.  It was so nice to see her as it always is; we lived together our senior year of college and survived some crazy (but wonderful) times.

While sadly I missed my friends Alissa and Ethel in New York, as luck would have it they were coming to L.A. the following weekend for a wedding.  We met up for a delicious brunch at Taste on Melrose where I had never been (picture to left).  I really enjoyed the Protein Scramble I ordered.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to take advantage of the bottomless mimosas as I was feeling a bit under the weather.  Hopefully next time!

My parents also visited during my birthmonth and we had a lot of great meals, my favorite being at Asia de Cuba on Sunset Boulevard.  The views and food were spectacular; check my full post on Asia de Cuba here.  I'll have more posts up soon about my parents visit but wanted to put this up in the meantime.

Thanks to everybody who made my birthday this year spectacular!

2 comments:

JennySchu said...

Happy belated bday! I'm jealous of all the good food you've been eating. :)

Question for you - do you have any kind of list or additional info on gf options at El Cholo? I've avoided it since finding out I have celiac a year ago because it just seems so confusing at certain places to figure out what's safe. Do you know about how they make the meat, sauces, etc? Any info would be great! Thanks!

Stephen said...

Hey Jenny -- I told them about eating gluten free and they were very helpful about what I could and could not eat. It may have helped that I speak spanish, but I think if you go you should have a good experience. I don't have any concrete information for you, apologies.