Summer Bucket List #21: Give Me Mo’ Momed

Arabic coffee and Baklava bread pudding from Momed

I crave Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food like nothing else – and ever since my trip to Egypt and Jordan, I’ve been craving Arabic coffee even more. So it was only natural that my first stop on Los Angeles Magazine’s list of 101 Cheap Eats (Summer Bucket List item #21) was Momed.

Nestled among designer fashion stores and ultra modern cafes lined with rows of glimmering luxury cars, Momed, on Beverly Hills’ Beverly Drive, doesn’t exactly give off the “cheap” vibe. And to be honest, it actually isn’t all that cheap (perhaps by Beverly Hills standards). But it’s worth it.

From the moment we walked in, I couldn’t take my eyes off the brightly colored meze (salads) beckoning to diners from a refrigerated glass case. In fact, my first thought was to start with the $16 three-item meze combo. The boy reeled me back a little and suggested we start with just one meze before the main dish. I reluctantly agreed and before long we were devouring the muhammara, a subtly sweet blend of roasted red pepper, walnuts and pomegranate served with wheat pitas.

As I eagerly anticipated my main course — the absolutely delicious and return-worthy duck shawarma with oven-dried tomatoes, figs and garlic spread – I was pleasantly surprised to see mint lemonade, just about the most refreshing thing you can drink, on the menu.

We wrapped it up with Arabic coffee – just the way I like it, with a hint of cardamom, although I could’ve used just a pinch more – and three desserts. Yes, you read that right. We simply couldn’t decide. With a baklava combo that included regular and chocolate versions of the honey- and pistachio-filled filo dough treat and baklava bread pudding on the menu, who could?!

All in all, it was an incredible meal. Cheap? No. But worth every penny.

Is This Real Life?

Myrtle Avenue Panorama -

Sometimes when I go to places like Ojai or Los Olivos or watch Gilmore Girls or basically any show about suburban life in the ’50s, I wonder what it must be like to live  in one of these tiny towns where everyone knows everyone and people spend lazy afternoons eating ice cream in the park. I think I might finally know.

Last week, I started house sitting in Monrovia, a hidden gem (and virtual time warp) just off the intersection of the 210 and 605 freeways. I don’t know if it was just the particular weekend I spent there or if this is the norm in Old Town Monrovia (a stretch of small businesses, shops and restaurants extending down Myrtle Ave), but over the course of a single weekend, there was a street fair, a farmer’s market, a parade, music in the park, a clown on stilts blowing balloons, a woman playing a violin outside the local movie theater  … I mean, everything was just so pleasant it was hard to believe it was actually real. I had to resist the temptation to walk up to random strangers to ask if they were actually just extras in an elaborate remake of The Andy Griffith Show. The town is charming to say the least. And it seems so tucked away yet it’s barely 10 minutes from the freeway. Leaving Monrovia for a friend’s birthday party in Beverly Hills on Saturday felt like entering a foreign land — or maybe leaving one, I’m not sure.

Jury’s still out on whether small town life is for me. Perhaps if there were a beach nearby? I’m certainly a fan of the local eats. Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

The Peach Cafe – The Monte Cristo is to die for!

Cafe Massillia – A great spot for classic French dishes at reasonable prices — and they just opened a new location in Yorba Linda.

Mediterranean Garden Grill – All my favorite staples (tabbouleh, kibbeh, shawarma, kabobs, baklava) and a hookah happy hour if you’re so inclined.

I’m still eating my way through this quaint little town and trying to understand exactly how it can stay so quaint, but I would highly recommend a visit if for nothing more than to marvel.

{Photo via Gem City Images}

Hang On, Soupy, Hang On

Wonton Noodle Soup - Urban Noodle

I was stuck in bed all weekend with a cold that wouldn’t quit and once the rain began pouring down, all I could think about was soup. I usually dread winter weather, but I do love the onset of soup season. And this weekend’s woes made for the perfect time to indulge. My favorite new soup spot is a place called Urban Noodle in Downtown LA. Not only are their broths incredibly flavorful, but the ingredients are to die for. I’m a big fan of the wonton noodle soup.

Check it out if you’re in the area and share your favorite soup spots in the comment s.

And just in case the title got this song stuck in your head:

Lunching The Good, Pure Way

This past weekend, my friend Grace and I met up at True Food Kitchen in Newport Beach’s Fashion Island to catch up over a healthy lunch (and go shopping, of course!). I just wanted to share this great place with you guys if you’re looking for a restaurant that serves organic, sustainable, and truly delicious food with a number of vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free options. Grace got the Shaved Turkey with provolone, yogurt dressing, and grape, and I got Andy’s Favorite TLT, a combination of tempeh, lettuce, tomato, and avocado on whole grain.

We rounded out the meal by sharing a banana chocolate tart, which was hands down my favorite part :)

Everything was really fresh and very filling, and all of the restaurants have a bright, fun atmosphere–great for a group brunch. You can see their locations and menus here.

p.s. their salads and pizzas also looked amazing, which I’ll have to try next time!

{photos via True Food Kitchen}

I’ll Toast to That

Girlfriend Toast via Cheeky Kitchen

You probably wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I eat A LOT. And it’s usually not healthy food either. There’s even a tradition in my family that once you’ve finished one meal — or sometimes while you’re still cooking it — you discuss what to have for the next one. That’s how much I love food.

Luckily, “the boy” feels the same way as I do. But after recent trips to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, Indian, Ethiopian and repeat pastrami bagel sandwich and biscuit and gravy breakfasts at Nick’s, an amazing diner in Downtown LA, he suggested that our next breakfast consist only of fruit. Of course, my first response was, “Fruit?! Can we at least have toast with it?!”

Cheeky Kitchen blog to the rescue. I think this recipe for “Girlfriend Toast” would be just the thing to satisfy our need to avoid heart attacks and still have something drool-worthy for breakfast.

{Photo via Cheeky Kitchen}

You Say Potato, I Say Potatomato

Cafe Angelique


Spice TableRestaurants pictured, from top: Cafe Angelique, KTCHN 105, Spice Table.

Now that I have the pleasure of visiting Celeste and “the boy” at their new digs in Downtown LA, I’m becoming more and more enamored with the food scene there. The problem is I get almost all of my leads from the boy, who gets almost all of his from a coworker. Celeste is starting to think I’m this all-knowing foodie because it just so happens that every time we’ve met up in LA, I’ve taken her to a different restaurant of the total five that I know.  ;)

So thank goodness for the twin sister bloggers who run Potatomato, which has excellent reviews of a ton of hip Downtown restaurants, including one I’ve been dying to try called KTCHN 105. Now, I know many of you are probably screaming, “Why not Yelp?” at your computers right now. And the reason is that it’s too overrun by reviews that start with something like, “I’ve never had Mexican food before, but this place looked interesting …”

Potatomato seems to have exactly what I’m looking for down to an art. Plus they post about travel destinations, which makes me want to call them up to see when we can all get together in Turkey for a meal. I’ve heard Istanbul is beautiful in September!

{Photos via Potatomato}