Category Archives: coffee

copa vida in pasadena

I spent part of last Monday at this charming cafe, Copa Vida in Old Town Pasadena. I originally stumbled upon it about a year ago when they had just opened, looking to get some change for the meter, and enjoyed pistachio kumquat croissant. It was so great to see the cafe thriving having just celebrated their one year anniversary and being embraced by locals and visitors alike. With almost 400 yelp reviews (average 4 stars), this cafe is here to stay (yay!).

I definitely need to revisit for brunch (read their croque madame sandwich and kale salad are popular). I was impressed to learn that they bake/make their breads, pastries, and desserts in-house.

What I noticed about this place on both my visits is the airy and spacious feeling. Great place to catch up with a friend or to inspire creativity (I noticed one guest painting watercolors).

CV window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

espresso

CV mod inter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My sister ordered the shakerato, an iced espresso drink sweetened with raw sugar and mixed with milk. I had a cappuccino which was incredibly smooth, no sugar needed.

CV capp

 

 

 

 

 

 

dessert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: my sister knows one of the staff members (Hi Sam!) and he was so gracious to treat us to a dessert on-the-house. It was a light ‘tres chocolate’ mousse that had a couple layers of crackly bits. Couldn’t put my finger on it, whether it was spun sugar or some other confection. Whatever it was, I had to refrain from licking the bowl clean. Would be perfect with a cup of tea.

This inviting space has plenty of seating with the back room serving as an informal study area during my recent visit but I’ve read that it’s used for hosting special events as well.

crowded

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coffee shop was also featured on a blog, Steamed Not Fried so check out their review. They also feature upcoming classes and events like live music on the weekends on their instagram, @copa_vida and facebook page, so check them out.

Copa Vida | 70 S Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105

mornings at republique

My roommate and I enjoy coming to Republique (in Hancock Park/LA) for Saturday breakfast pastries. It’s airy, has unique interiors, freshly baked pastries, and their drinks have me coming back for more. I haven’t been for lunch or dinner (made LATimes’ restaurant critic Jonathan Gold’s top eateries 101 in LA), as it’s on the pricey end ($$$) but breakfast is an affordable luxury. My roommate tried a hazelnut croissant and highly recommends it.

One of my favorite bloggers, Joy Cho features Republique in a recent post w/more pastry case pics! Check it out here. She recommends their Hong Kong milk tea latte.

exteriorinterior

 

 

pastry2

almond and carrot cake next to a strawberry-filled cream puff

marketpastry

market fruit crostata (flaky sweet crust)

 

A local’s guide to LA

I hosted my friend/travel buddy from San Diego during the weekend between Christmas and New Years. As a fellow foodie, she was game for exploring some of my fave eats and ways to appreciate this city. Here’s where we ate/did over a weekend.

We enjoyed a late lunch (30 min wait) at Shin-Sen-Gumi in Little Tokyo for their delicious Hakata ramen ($6.95) which always hits the spot without leaving a dent in my wallet.

ramenPhoto credit: Ed K. (via yelp)

We headed over to Urth Caffe in the arts district just a couple miles away to indulge our sweet tooth cravings. We ordered Spanish lattes ($4.00) and split an Earl Grey tiramisu ($6.95) which was creamy and a little sweet. I hear what makes their Spanish lattes so wonderfully addicting is they use condensed milk (what doesn’t taste better with condensed milk?).

urth

After our cafe experience, we took a little break and enjoyed a rooftop view of the city at Perch near Pershing Square in downtown. It was challenging to find parking on a Friday night but after circling the area for about 20 minutes, I scored the last spot in a parking lot for $5 a block over. A staff member at Perch was telling us that Sunday and Thursday nights are pretty slow. On busy nights like Fridays, there’s a wait to access the rooftop lounge (but well worth it). Cocktails will run about $12-$15 which seems standard in downtown.

perchOverlooking Pershing Square and the ice skating rink

Although my friend hadn’t been to the LACMA, I had a feeling it would be a bit crowded given that it was a Saturday and between holidays. My favorite LA museum is actually the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City. Their current exhibit are the best photographs from 125 years of National Geographic. Using various mediums of LCD screens, large screen video presentations, and printed shots, it’s an engaging experience across decades, genres, and styles. Photojournalists were sharing their motivation for at times risking their lives to capture images that reach a mass audience in order to bring awareness to issues whether it’s about war/conflict in Afghanistan or seeing the curious face of an endangered species. This is a must-see exhibit featured until April 27, 2014. Free admission and $1 validated parking (on weekends).

annen2

Although it was a bit out of the way, I wanted to take my friend to Venice since it’s a cool beach neighborhood and home to Gjelina and Gjelina Take Away GTA (to-go place next door). I had been to Gjelina last year and fell in love with their squash blossom pizza. Unfortunately, since squash blossoms aren’t in season, we shared the rustic and simple (yet satisfying) pomodoro burrata pizza ($15) and salami pizza ($15). They use the freshest ingredients and the woodfire oven results in a chewy crust. For $15, it’s a pricey pizza for a single serving but an occasional luxury. Given that it’s take-out, we sat in a makeshift alley adjacent to GTA to enjoy our oven-fresh pizzas. So good!

GTA2

What trip to LA would be complete without a taco run? We enjoyed some late night eats at El Flamin’ Taco in Ktown. This truck has a well-stocked salsa bar, juicy al pastor ($1.35) on handmade tortillas, what more could I ask for? It’s a cash only place (one minor inconvenience); closed on Mondays.

taco

Salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy.

Not pictured, a nutella cronut ($3.75) which is a croissant donut from SK Donuts. Deliciously rich and crispy. Recommend sharing with a friend or two.

All in all, we had a great time catching up over good eats and talking about our future travel destinations. I’m thankful for close friends to spend quality time and it gives me more reason to explore new places to take visitors to taste and experience the rich diversity that LA has to offer.

Until we meet again friend! Here’s a shot of my friend on one of our trips to Vegas.

IMG_5111

lacma: art imitating life

This past spring, my friend and I visited LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) for a break from our usual routine. Considering I live down the street, it was a long overdue visit. I was particularly looking forward to seeing Metropolis II (2013) by Chris Burden, an Angeleno of international fame. This large kinetic structure was so intriguing. Being a Sensor (using my MBTI language), I initially observed the materials used like painted Jenga pieces, bathroom/kitchen backsplash tiles, steel beams, mirrors, and toy cars (1,100 in total). I stood in awe of the intricacies, lost in the details.

up close shot

church

Considering It was only until I was on the viewing platform that I had an aerial perspective of the piece that it dawned on me. I was missing the forest for the trees. This piece is depicting Los Angeles as an urban jungle.

The following week, the depiction provoked more questions than answers. What does it mean that as an Angeleno, I spend a good chunk of time each week riding in my car getting from Point A to B, from B to C, etc? What impact does the noise have? Can I hear myself think and feel to be introspective or am I continually distracted? What does it mean that there are so few and restricted forms of public transportation in the city? Needless to say, it left me introspective and contemplating the built environment’s influence individually and collectively.

aerial shotBut that all thinking and wandering gave us a serious case of the munchies and we wandered over to c+m, the museum’s coffee bar.

lacma c+m shot

lacma carrot cake

To my surprise, their delicious carrot cake went perfectly with their iced coffee (intelligentsia). And with happy stomachs and introspection, we bid adieu to the iconic lamposts until our next visit.

lacma street lamps

Seattle

Last November, I booked a flight to Seattle after seeing a great deal on JetBlue ($49 each way from LBC to SEA/TAC) and easily convinced my sister since it was MLK weekend that we both wanted an excuse to see the Emerald City. I hadn’t been to Seattle in a decade and she had never been, what the heck, let’s go! Check out some highlights from our trip.

The Seattle Public Library. Sigh. If only all public libraries were this cool. No wonder they’re voted one of the most book loving cities. I wasn’t thrilled with the exterior but the interior was so modern and inviting. Interestingly, an entire floor is completely painted in red. We also found this cool used bookstore in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Imagine a B&N-like bookstore where all the book are half off (and in great condition).

Seattle Public Library (the red floor)

We enjoyed some wine at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar in walking distance from the library. A beautiful, hip, yet intimate restaurant. Check out that winding staircase wine rack!

Purple Wine Bar and Cafe (loved their wine and spiral wine case)

fish market

What Seattle trip would be complete without a visit to Pike Place Market? So cool! I love the fish throwing dudes and the street performers but what I love most is the food! Hands down my favorite was Le Panier’s almond croissant and coffee (Seattle knows good coffee). Ah… the simple joys in life. It was so good, we went back the next day. I also really enjoyed Russian meat pastries and creamy mac & cheese at this place. I’m warning you; this place is carb heaven. We didn’t even have room for the donuts or other foods on a stick. I wanted to try fresh oysters but it was way too cold for this SoCal girl! I even bought wool hiking socks, yeah that cold.

honey

mac and cheese seattle

Beecher’s mac and cheese (taken by alice)

Seattle coffee is bar none! Latte from Panier.

$4 croissant was worth every penny.

We also enjoyed brunch at Portage Bay Cafe with their delicious whole wheat pancakes and toppings bar. What a cool idea!!!

20120216-143546.jpg

During brunch, it started snowing! I felt like a little kid mesmerized by snow in the city! For real!!! We just happened to be in Seattle during the first snowstorm of the winter. NICE 🙂 Except that all the buses, taxis were out of commission. We were standing out in the street, waiting for a bus to arrive as it’s snowing. Only 30 minutes later did we realize that the buses had stopped. Seattle is a bit hilly and so they fear driving in snowing conditions (and they take issue with using salt; well, at least prior due to environmental reasons).

snow!

We also enjoyed pizzas at Serious Pie and sushi at Umi Sake House in downtown. These folks know how to eat!!! Next time, I’ll visit Bainbridge island and tour the Theo Chocolate Factory. The Pacific Northwest is without a doubt breathtakingly beautiful and has some of the nicest people. Seriously, even the bus drivers were super nice and hospitable.

Adieu Seattle! Until we meet again.