babymoon adventures pt II

I could not come back from a vacation and not talk about the food. Truthfully, I plan out not only all of the restaurants I am going to visit but also what I am going to order (but keep an open mind if there are specials). Everyone does this right? 😉

So when we made this last trip we only had about 5 days and we wanted to make sure we visited some of our favorite spots and tried out a couple new spots as well.

Old Favorites

Our absolute favorite place to get breakfast in Waikiki has to be Eggs ‘N Things. The wait can be extremely long—even at 8 am so the earlier you get there, the better. We were on California time so I needed breakfast around the time they opened so we were just fine. No long waits. No pregnancy hunger meltdowns. Good times.


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Can you find me?

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Homemade Guava Juice

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Spinach Bacon & Cheese Omelette with a side of their homemade salsa <——so good!

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And a side of their Macadamia Nut Pancakes. Folks, these are the stuff dreams are made of. Seriously, I dreamt about these babies after having them the first time and that is why I ordered them again. So fluffy with just a little crunch from the macadamia nuts. And you must top them with the homemade coconut syrup. You must. I happily shared these with Reg.

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Speaking of Reg, he ordered his favorite breakfast of all time: Eggs, Portuguese Sausage, and Rice. Before I met him I would never have thought of eating rice for breakfast but now I love it! The sausage was crispy and flavorful without being overly greasy.


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Another old favorite is also a local favorite: Rainbow’s Drive Inn. My husband grew up going to Rainbow’s every time he was on the Islands so it was the first place he took me years ago on our first trip. Rumor has it that President Obama loves Rainbow’s as well.

Most of the food served at Rainbow’s is considered plate lunch. The exact history behind plate lunch is often disputed. However, the general consensus is that plate lunch began in the 1880’s when plantation workers were in high demand for sugar and fruit companies in Hawai’i. Laborers came from all over the world including China, Japan, Portugal, and the Phillipines and would share various proteins (think canned meat, teriyaki, cold meat) and rice for lunch. So the plate lunches themselves are a mix of food from different cultures. Eventually, the macaroni salad and gravy was added into the mix.

I am a total creature of habit and I usually order hamburger steak (thin hamburger patties smothered in gravy) or loco moco (same as hamburger steak topped with two eggs) plate lunch every time I go. This time I decided to try something new.

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Boneless chicken with (the best) gravy! Served with macaroni salad and two scoops of rice.

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Reg is like me when it comes to Rainbow’s and usually orders the same thing. Instead, he branched out a bit and ordered the Rainbow Royale burger. The special sauce that comes on the burger is very similar to deviled egg filling but thinned out. Delicious!

We both enjoyed trying something new but we missed our “usual” order and made sure we ordered it on our last day when we visited Rainbow’s again. If you are ever on Oahu, this place is a must try!

Next up: some new finds, including Morimoto’s new Waikiki restaurant!

xo

i miss food trucks <3

In addition to visiting Bruxie , I had to make a stop at some of my beloved food trucks when I was visiting my family in Southern California. We have food trucks up here in the Bay Area but there are not nearly as many. Plus, I can never seem to track them down when I am in the mood! Back at home, my mom has become food truck obsessed and pretty much always knows where a group of trucks is gathered on any given day. I wonder where I got my love of food…hmmm?

This time around, she picked a great food truck gathering in Anaheim that had some trucks I really wanted to try! Here is what we sampled:

Louks

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I have pretty much been in love with Greek food from the moment I tried it. In fact, my husband and I love Greek food so much that we went to Greece for our honeymoon! The food from Louks is so fresh and comes pretty darn close to the street food we ate while we were in Greece. Plus, the guys that run the truck are so much fun. They are dancing and just keeping the energy up the whole time. In fact, I started dancing while I was waiting for my food which was probably pretty awkward considering I am 7 1/2 months pregnant. I have no shame! 🙂


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Speaking of no shame, here is my dad ordering his food. Here he is talking (which involves moving his hands really fast) while trying to order something that probably isn’t on the menu. He likes to “invent” things everything time we order at a restaurant. It is adorable, hilarious, and he usually gets his way.


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One thing that is on the menu that is a must try has to be the Honey Feta Fries. These are incredible! The combo of salty and sweet is ridiculously addictive!


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The beef and lamb gyro was delicious as well. I love that they put fries inside just like when we were in Greece!


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My sister and I split the chicken burrito gyro which was significantly larger than the other wrap and came with spicy feta cheese and grilled onions in addition to everything that came with the regular gyro. I actually liked the chicken more than the beef and lamb which is hardly ever the case but seriously this was delicious and really fresh tasting! After trying Louks, I can definitely see why it is my sister’s favorite out of all of the trucks she has tried. Great experience!



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Piaggio is the one and only Argentine food truck in Southern California. Love that! I had tried Argentine food a couple times in the past but this was my first time trying this particular truck. We only tried a few items but the ones we tried were fantastic!


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My sister and I split the chicken empanadas which came with a side of chimichurri sauce. I absolutely loved these. The crust was flaky and the filling was flavorful. I particularly loved the chimichurri sauce that accompanied it because it added a light, cooling contrast to the hot flaky dough. Yum!


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Next up was the the pulled pork sliders which were shared by Reg and my dad. They let me have a bite and the pork was juicy and accented nicely with that delicious chimichurri. Plus anything served on a Hawaiian sweet roll is a win in my book. I definitely look forward to trying more from Piaggio next time I am in the area.


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I have made no secret on this blog of how much I love shave ice. Not shaved ice–shave ice. Very important distinction there. Shave ice is light and fluffy. There should be no crunchy pieces. Thankfully, Tropical Shave Ice gets it right.


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I tried the Tiger’s Blood, Pineapple, and Lilikoi with ice cream of course. So so good. Fluffy ice and perfectly sweet syrups. Plus, the people that worked on this truck were SO nice and patient with our large group. I will definitely be tracking them down again next time I am in Southern Cal.

I highly recommend trying all three of these trucks if you are in the area!

xo

hello, i love…Bruxie

Okay, now onto the fun stuff. What have I been up to? I am not very good at actually blogging while I am on vacation. Since I don’t get to see my family that much, at the end of the day, I would rather spend more time with the ones I love than behind the computer. So, I decided to wait until I came back from all of my little vacations to update the blog.

When I knew I was traveling down to Southern Cal, I had a list of restaurants I wanted to try. Is that weird? Probably. Moving on…

My sister Gingi (real name: Lindsey) told me about this place called Bruxie in Old Towne Orange that serves sandwiches in…WAFFLES! I had to try this place and we made plans to go as soon as I got down there.


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First, I have to add that I am in love with Old Towne Orange. I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire and I am hopelessly nostalgic so I am charmed by the quaint feeling of the downtown area. There are great restaurants and shopping, especially antique stores. If we move back down to Southern Cal, this is where I want to live. And maybe eat at Bruxie once (errr twice?) a week.


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To begin, Gingi and I ordered the seasonal milkshake which was made with fresh California Strawberries. So refreshing. And see that strawberry sauce on top? Jamie Oliver would be proud to know that it is also made with real strawberries and not high fructose corn syrup. I liked this place already. Real. Delicious. Food.


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Next up–our sandwiches. I am not sure when my love affair with chicken and waffles began but it is safe to say we have been going strong for many years. And now I am pretty sure it is going to continue for many more. Think lightly breaded boneless chicken breast covered in a chili-honey glaze and mayo-free coleslaw folded into a light Belgium waffle. Served with real maple syrup, naturally. We all couldn’t believe how juicy the chicken was considering fried boneless chicken is usually dry…like really dry. Not at Bruxie. This is a must order if you stop by.

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Since Gingi and I ordered the same thing, Reg wanted to be different so he went with the “grilled” cheese with melted Gruyere and Cheddar. He is a genius and added avocado and bacon. So glad I married that one. The waffle fries that were served with his sandwich were perfect as well. Yum!

Overall, I would highly recommend Bruxie. The service was really impressive. Everyone that worked there was friendly and talkative but none of the employees came off phony or inauthentic. That alone made me love the place a bit more. Seating is limited though so I wouldn’t go with a big group. But if you ever find yourself in Orange, I highly recommend stopping by.

xo

just what i needed


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Having Melissa and her boyfriend Nate visit this past weekend was truly just what I needed. We spent the weekend shopping, eating, exploring San Francisco, celebrating Melissa’s birthday and laughing. So. much. laughing. In fact I woke up after our first night with a sore throat from laughing so much. I loved every minute of it.

Truth is, I haven’t made that many friends while living up here. Since I found out I was pregnant almost immediately after moving here, making friends was not very easy. I am not partaking in the bar scene like most people my age and I am not working. On one hand, I couldn’t be happier that I get to just relax and focus on my pregnancy but, on the other hand, not having close friends up here can be lonely. I LOVE hanging out with my husband but I think having balance in life is healthy. So having Melissa here was perfect timing!

Just as planned, I took her to Pizzeria Delfina, Tartine, and Fremont Diner. We also enjoyed playing tourist and watching the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, strolling around Union Square, and taking copious pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. The whole experience made me really appreciate my time here in Northern California but also look forward to moving closer to my friends and family in October.


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How was your weekend?

xo

hello, i love…Dottie’s True Blue Cafe

As you know, each Friday Reg and I venture into the city for our special lunch. This past Friday, though, we had to drop off my grandmother at the airport early in the morning so we decided to turn our usual afternoon date into a breakfast. And I am so glad we did!

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. I was never the child that you had to pry out of bed and force feed a pop tart before school. I usually woke up with plenty of time to make myself oatmeal, eggs, pancakes, or french toast. Early in my pregnancy when I was really sick, the only foods that sounded remotely appealing were typical breakfast foods. Luckily, my husband never objects to eating pancakes for dinner. So my point is, when I got to pick out a breakfast place I was really excited. Let’s face it though– I get excited every time I try out a new restaurant but this one was extra special.

After a quick search, I decided on Dottie’s True Blue Cafe. With almost 1400 reviews on yelp, I figured I could not go wrong. When we arrived, the 10 people waiting in line down the block had the same idea. Luckily, the line moved fast and we were seated with hot coffee before we knew it.


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I ordered the Whiskey-Fennel Sausage Scramble with Mushrooms and Spinach. This was ah-mazing! The whiskey flavor was subtle and unique. The vegetables were fresh and the eggs were scrambled to perfection, not overdone which I find to be a common problem with similar dishes. The breakfast potatoes were also excellent but it was the homemade, grilled cornbread that was the starchy standout. I slathered my slice with their homemade raspberry preserves. I love how the bread (and many other items) are made in house–makes the food a little extra special, right?


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Reg ordered a combination of crispy bacon, fried eggs, potatoes and my favorite plate of the day–ginger, cinnamon buttermilk pancakes. These were unreal, probably the best pancakes I have ever had! They were fluffy with just a hint of spice. I kept offering Reg bites of my plate to get more of these. Luckily, I am carrying his son so he happily shared. Good man! 😉

Overall, Dottie’s was incredible. From the service to the food, I was very impressed. I have since learned that there is always a wait so grab a cup of coffee, bring a couple chatty friends and get ready for a fantastic breakfast.

xo

Bit(es) of my Weekend

This past weekend my parents and youngest sister Molli came to visit for her spring break. Though their visit was short, we managed to pack in a lot of fun activities and, naturally, a lot of eating. I know I said we normally try somewhere new each Friday but we simply could not resist taking them to Pizzeria Delfina on Friday afternoon. Everything was just as amazing as the last time. We even tried a few new dishes and I can honestly say that I highly recommend trying them all if you visit. Here are some of the dishes we sampled this time around:

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Homemade Burrata Cheese


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Butter Bean, Pancetta, & Escarole Soup


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The Best Meatballs


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Funghi Pizza


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Margherita Pizza

Our next stop was the fabulous Tartine Bakery. I am sure Delfina has great desserts but given that Tartine is two doors down and my family was only in town for the weekend, I could not pass up on the opportunity to take them there. Everything was perfect. I don’t really think you can go wrong with anything there and we really couldn’t make up our minds so we ended up ordering…a lot. Don’t worry though, nothing was wasted. You don’t waste Tartine. You just don’t.


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My lovely sister, Molli


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Morning Bun (with an addicting orange sugar topping)


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Lemon Meringue Cake


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Dulce de Leche Cake

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My Parents!

The next day we woke up bright and early and headed to Sonoma for our favorite breakfast place–Fremont Diner. We took our time enjoying our breakfast, sipping coffee and talking about life. I cherish those moments so much. I am really lucky because my parents raised me to have an opinion and really listen to what I have to say, even if it completely differs from theirs. I hope that I can instill this same sense of independent thinking in my own child. In addition to our usual breakfast banter, the usual suspects were there:

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{Almost Famous} Biscuits & Gravy

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Breakfast Sandwich

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The Kitchen Sink (Biscuits, Smoked Ham, Fried Chicken, Sausage Gravy, & a Fried Egg)

We then made our way back to San Francisco and headed to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the famous Ferry Building for a little sightseeing.

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It truly was the perfect weekend with my family. We ate really great food and saw some of my favorite parts of the city. Mostly, it was great to spend time with my parents and sister, talking and catching up on each other’s lives. I love my family so much and I can’t wait for the day when we all live close to each other again.

xo

Friday Night Special

I love Fridays. Not because the weekend is near or a new movie is coming out, though I do love all of those things. Instead, my anticipation comes from the Friday night special at George’s Greek Cafe for kleftiko. According to legend, kleftiko means “stolen meat.” Historically, this dish is made with a lamb stolen from a flock, perhaps one grazing in nearby hillside. Then, the thief would cook the meat for several hours in an underground oven sealed with mud so no steam could escape and give the thief away. The result? The most tender, flavorful piece of lamb. Heaven.

George’s Greek Cafe is also a legend in itself. On a given night you can find George himself standing outside hugging guests as they enter the restaurant. Okay, the hugging is optional but I like it.

In all seriousness, the service is incredible. Everyone is smiling and happy to offer food and wine recommendations and occasionally some (free) samples. No pretention, just free wine. For example, if you want to try some wine before committing to a bottle, just tell your server what you like and they are happy to let you taste several options before deciding on a bottle.

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My husband shares my kleftiko enthusiasm so he joined me for dinner. We started our evening with a Greek favorite, Amethystos. This wine is a solid Cabernet & Merlot blend that pairs nicely with the lamb.

Reg and I were quite hungry but we knew we wanted to order a couple favorites before our lamb arrived. First up was the Melintzanosalata, a baked eggplant dip with garlic and lemon juice. The flavors are light and clean. I dare you to just try a little.

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Then, the Saganaki arrived. This is all about the presentation, baby! Saganaki is an extremeley popular appetizer here. I know this because you can literally see when someone orders it because of the “show” that comes with it. However, as great as the giant fire show is, the actual dish is even better.

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Greek Kasseri cheese is battered and lightly fried then brought to table to be flamed with Brandy and then the whole dish is finished with Kalamata Olives and fresh squeezed lemon juiced. Best served layered on that soft, doughy pita bread.

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Here it is–the famous Kleftiko. Not only is the meat spectacular (I highly recommend squeezing those lemons on the meat to intensify the flavors a bit more) but the sides are equally fantastic. The potatoes are roasted with quality olive oil, onions, and thinly sliced carrots which make the potatoes slightly sweet. George’s famous Greek salad is also served with the dish.

The combination of authentic, friendly service, affordability, and fresh healthy food makes George’s one of my favorite restaurants…period. While Friday has a special place in my heart because it is the only night you can order Kleftiko, any night you visit George’s you will not be disappointed.

xo,

Jenna

P.S. Can’t visit on a Friday? Check out their Monday night 1/2 off bottles of wine special!