Last Wednesday, March 9, was Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. Being a practicing Catholic yet having never really taken Lent very seriously (i.e. I’ve never really “given up” anything for Lent), I decided to try it out, with some company. :]
Here we have our list of Lenten sacrifices that we decided would take effect the Thursday after Ash Wednesday:
- Blog at least 500 words a day. – So I haven’t been doing very well on this one, particularly because I’ve been busy until pretty late at night. This entry is basically my attempt at making up for three days of no blogging.
- No purchasing any purses. – I haven’t really been shopping lately, so this shouldn’t prove to be too hard.
- No cursing. – This shouldn’t be a problem for me, although once in a while I’ll slip when caught off-guard.
- No consumption of burgers or potatoes in fried form. – I rarely get burger cravings, so this shouldn’t be too bad.
- No cursing. - For every curse word, he has to put $0.25 in the Lent money pot. ;] Currently, it has $2.25.
- No consumption of burgers or potatoes in fried form.
Okay, so those last two items aren’t really targeted toward me obviously, but since he’s decided to take on giving up those two items, which are difficult for him to do, I decided to help out and give them up myself as well. Besides, it’s a great effort; he’s not even Catholic! I have to him props for that. Plus, giving up cursing for Lent was my suggestion, which he agreed to do.
With that said, I think it’ll be a challenge to blog at least 500 words daily while keeping each entry interesting and of value. And so we begin.
North End Caffe
I had planned to write a blog post about this on Thursday, the day of, but didn’t quite get to writing it.
Lately, for lunch, my co-workers and I have been looking up local/nearby restaurants via Yelp so we could try out new places instead of eating at the same old places. We try to find restaurants that have high ratings, usually around four stars. On Thursday, we decided to try out North End Caffe. North End Caffe is a little cafe in the north end of Manhattan Beach, located on the corner of 35th Street and Highland Ave. This little cafe was featured on the Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives. On Yelp, this place received a four-star rating with 239 reviews. With that said, we figured we had to try it.
Allan ordered the special featured on the chalk board, which was the Short Rib sandwich, $13.00. I believe you could choose a side: french fries or a salad. From what he expressed, it seemed that he enjoyed his sandwich, although he wished he had requested the salad with ranch instead of the organic spring greens, which came with some type of vinaigrette.
Ji ordered the Creole Dawg (2 bacon wrapped hot dogs with swiss, creole mojo, crystal hot sauce, tomato, onion, Zatarain’s salt), $9.75. It is served with a side of Belgian fries. The hot dog wasn’t exactly like he had expected; it was long and narrow. Nonetheless, I think he was satisfied with his order. He said the fries were pretty good. From what I remember from the Yelp reviews, the general consensus is that people like their Belgian fries.
I ordered the Carolina Bomb (southern style pulled pork, cheddar, creole mojo, bbq, pickle, served with ranch salad), $12.75. I generally don’t go for pulled pork or any type of western style barbecue, but for some reason, I decided to give it a try this day. I can’t say I was disappointed. The sandwich was pretty tasty, especially when I put some of their “Crystal” hot sauce on it, which basically tasted like Tabasco to me.
In addition to my sandwich, I also ordered a small latte. To my surprise, it was huge! I tend to order espresso drinks (lattes or cappuccinos) from places that have them on the menu so I can compare and contrast the coffee. The latte at North End Caffe is just like any typical latte. I didn’t really notice anything significant, such as a unique flavor or texture.
My overall opinion of North End Caffe is that they have pretty good simple foods, and it’s worth a try if you’ve never been here before. I don’t particularly enjoy the price range though. For my meal, which consisted of the sandwich and a latte, my total came out to be $17 and some cents. I do like the ambiance of the place. We sat at a table outside; the weather was great. It was really nice enjoying a meal while being able to enjoy the sun and the fresh air and to watch people walking along the street. In addition, the cafe is pretty much right at the beach, probably about a block away. You can see the ocean from the corner of the street; it’s great.
The Dears and Eulogies
On Saturday, the bands The Dears and Eulogies had a free show at Fingerprints, an indepedent record store in Long Beach. We hadn’t really heard much of either band’s music, but we decided it would be a fun experience and made sure to get ourselves onto the guest list. Eulogies was on Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW just recently, and their music from that set seemed pretty good.
Eulogies played first, as the opening band. I really enjoyed their set. The intros to their songs were fun and upbeat, and the vocalist had a good stage presence. I also really liked his Gibson guitar. I can definitely see myself listening to their new album, Tear the Fences Down, quite often. I especially like their cover art.
Following Eulogies was The Dears. They had a really good stage presence as well. The vocalist was very energetic and put on a great show. I can’t say I’m personally a fan of their music, though, but it was still a lot of fun listening to them and watching them play. I do like the fact that they have a keyboard. I found it amusing how both bands each had one girl member. Eulogies had a female bassist, and The Dears had a female keyboardist.
After the two bands played, they had signings, so we got a Eulogies vinyl signed by Eulogies and a Fingerprints promo poster for The Dears and Eulogies signed by both bands. Both bands were awesome to chat with; they seemed both really down to earth.
All over Long Beach, there are these interesting installations, one of which is this flower. There are a bunch of these flowers near my neighborhood. I have no idea what they’re for (does anyone?), but I really like these installations, actually. Near my neighborhood, there are a bunch of bicycles done in this fashion, which look awesome. I have been meaning to get photos of each of the installations, but for now all I have is this one of me with one of the flowers I saw last night.
Viento y Agua
I really liked the interior of this place. It was very cozy and filled with lots of interesting things to peruse. They also call themselves a gallery as well as a coffee house, so it is no surprise to find artwork hanging along the walls. What I found extremely amusing are the skeleton wallpieces. You can see them in the photo hanging up on the blue-painted wall. Like most independent coffee shops in Long Beach, Viento y Agua also hosts small gigs for musical artists. It just so happened that there were several gigs that night – a few solo artists. Jesse Thomas, Jake Newton, and Stacy Clark performed. The lounge area is filled with comfy couches and seats. There is a shelf full of books you can read. They even have a box filled with CDs of artists that have performed there. What’s awesome is there’s a sign on this box that says you can borrow any of the CDs so long as you bring it back. Complete honor system. The cafe offers free Wi-Fi. I would definitely love to sit here and lounge for a few hours, reading a book, listening to music, or surfing the web.
We did not lounge, however. The plan was to grab some quick coffee and proceed to find something for dinner seeing as we were both quite hungry. We each got the Mexican Moka, which is basically a mocha with a slight flavor twist. I’m not sure what else was in there, but I could distinctly taste cinnamon. The Mexican Moka was delicious, but like what happens with me and mochas, it got too sweet later on, and I couldn’t finish the whole thing. I do highly recommend this drink though. I’m sure most people would be able to gulp it all down, no problem. I definitely would like to come back to this place, and next time I’ll be sure to try something less sweet – a latte, most likely.
We had no idea what to eat for dinner, but we knew a few things: we wanted something quick, we wanted something nearby, we wanted pizza, and we wanted it to be unique and delicious. Using my handy dandy Yelp app on my Android phone, I found Dean’s Pizza. This place has a four-star rating on Yelp with 144 reviews, so we decided we had to try it. Dean’s Pizza is a small place located in a small shopping arcade of a few establishments. They had a few small tables, but I would recommend coming here with take-out in mind. It definitely looked like a diamond in the rough. Everyone on Yelp recommends the Thai curry sauce on the pizza, so we ordered a supreme pizza with the Thai curry sauce and took it back to my place to eat. The flavor was interesting. I’m not really a fan of curry, so I didn’t think the pizza was amazing, but I could definitely see how a lot of people could enjoy it. It was a unique combination of flavors for a pizza. They also have garlic cream sauce and marinara sauce, so if I go pick up a pizza at this place again, I want to try the garlic cream sauce. A huge plus is that their food is pretty inexpensive. We ordered a large pizza for $12.99 and ended up with half the pizza left.
Seems like this past week was filled with lots of Yelping, but it proved to be very handy and I had some interesting tasting experiences. I like the idea of looking up random high-rated places on Yelp and trying them out. I love trying new things, and it’s interesting to see what other users recommend at these popular restaurants.
Overall it was a great weekend. My tummy was well-fed as was my mind.