WOW you guys- I haven’t written a blog post in over a month! Call me a Donald Trump tweet because that is SAD!
I feel like start too many blog posts writing about how I’m not writing enough blog posts, but today I want to share some insight into my life as of late and the restaurants I’ve tried up until this date.
First, my life- because I love making everything about ME.
Well, I have a new job, and so far it’s been amazing. Check out the view from one of the conference rooms:
Everyone is very sweet and nice; my bosses are very cool, and are slowly trusting that I am, in fact, good at what I do. Some of you have asked me what that is, so let me break it down:
You know how you all constantly send me your photos and ask for caption ideas? I get paid to do that IRL, but now for an agency that manages film and television projects.
For the first time this new role feels like not only the start of a lasting career, but a stepping stone for my bigger goals in life- including being famous enough to find out for myself if Harry Styles is, in fact, bisexual.
Speaking of which, I’ve already seen two of my coworkers on Bumble 👀 but I’m keeping it PROFESH relax. A lot of my friends have been pushing me to date but let me reassure all of you that I will be someone else’s problem BEFORE YOU KNOW IT!
Now, for the restaurants I’ve revisited and experienced for the first time! Throughout the month I’ve been shooting content with fellow content creator/BFF Nikki, who just launched an amazing travel blog. Seriously, check it out for the photos alone. I’m planning my vacation to Tulum (manifesting) exclusively through her recommendations. I’ve also been grabbing breakfast before work when I can because it’s located next to some pretty amazing spots. Check out this acai bowl I grabbed in front of LACMA.
One in portrait mode because #iPhoneX.
Also by my office? REPUBLIQUE. I cannot stress enough how great their breakfast is. Their ricotta toast, wild mushroom toast, shashouka, and waffle are all amazing. Whenever I revisit restaurants I’ve been to, I try to at least get something new. I saw that they had a SAMOA donut that almost felt like God punishing me for not buying actual girl scout cookies.
While this was definitely rich, it wasn’t overly sweet. It had a nice dark chocolate drizzle, and a thin glaze with toasted coconut that was not overpowering. The actual donut was fluffy and not too cake-y like an old-fashioned donut, which makes me feel like I’m eating loaf of fried bread with every bite.
Next I tried this breakfast sandwich, which was comprised of:
Butter brioche bun.
So TASTY and so simple. Also so filling I almost threw up lol TMI SORRY.
Also can we just appreciate how beautiful this restaurant is?
I HAVE to try their dinner.
Another highlight from the past month has been DESTROYER in Culver City. This place is cute little spot that’s great for a quick bite before work.
It’s a little experimental as far as the menu goes but DEF worth trying. Pictured here is the Icelandic rye bread with a side of eggs, their deconstructed avocado toast (slightly charred with dried onion and herbs), their organic eggs with quinoa, mushroom, greens, and “crispy potatoes (essentially potato chips), and their pumpkin spice loaf with creme fraiche and currants.
This pumpkin spice loaf is so beautiful and basic. I savored every bite.
THIS was amazing. You can’t really see the whole dish but it had so many great textures and flavors for a breakfast dish. How cute are their ceramic cups/dishes? This almond milk latte was pretty great too.
Another breakfast spot I tried again. EGGSLUT.
For those uninitiated, let me introduce you to The Fairfax, consisting of:
The bacon and avo were extra but then again so am I and like me it’s WORTH IT. Literally this combination of flavors blended so seamlessly it felt like it melted in my mouth. There’s one in Venice and DTLA so go get it this week if you can.
I have more to share (including Little Dom’s, Tocaya Organica, and GWEN to name a few). I promise I’ll tell you my thoughts soon! Love you guys!
I’m gay. It took me 26 years to say that. Did it take me 26 years to realize that? Almost!
Honestly, I’ve been contemplating my sexuality for a while. My feelings, the confusion from those feelings, the unexplained shame about those feelings, conflated with the shame of being ashamed about my own feelings, left me the most emotionally divided I have ever felt.
Those that know me well know I’ve been in a weird place. In many ways I felt like I LITERALLY couldn’t think straight, a phrase I discovered on a t-shirt that I purchased and immediately regretted.
My confusing behavior this past year mirrors my mental state. I didn’t recognize myself at many points because I was consumed by so many dark, sad thoughts about myself and my life. I realized this when I thought about the songs I’ve been listening to on repeat recently. I put them in a playlist and even the titles are very telling as to where I’ve been, emotionally:
For the longest time, I thought I had enough dicks in my life, but I’m not really attracted to my friends, so I knew there was still a void in my life (KIDDING you guys- I’m the biggest dick for not being honest with you all).
I have been asked about my sexuality in the past by strangers, friends (Noelle maturely asked me if I liked “pee-pee or vagina” this past Thanksgiving), my own family, my friends’ families, coworkers- okay that’s basically everyone I’ve ever known.
Judging by my voice alone, I don’t think anyone will be scandalized by my news. I’m often mistaken for a woman every time I have to call Citibank. “You lost your debit card again, ma’am?” even after I’ve confirmed that my name is Michael Palumbo. I’m usually so ashamed that I don’t bother correcting them.
I also unapologetically love all things characterized as “gay”- party planning, the Kardashians, the old Taylor Swift (pick up the phone bitch! I need to tell you how bad that song is), some new Taylor Swift (digging Delicate though!), quoting Mean Girls, brunch, getting over 100 likes on Instagram, shopping, my mom, shopping with my mom, shopping with my mom after I take an Instagram at brunch- the list goes on.
So, why not come out? David, one my best friends, did it in college and we all love him for him!
But by living with David and listening to other gay friends, I got a sense of what life was like as an openly gay man. I have heard guys say that they wish they weren’t gay. I’ve heard my friends, girls and guys, share their not-so-tolerant thoughts on the gay community in front of me, thinking they were in a safe space to do so. I’ve seen David cry about how he feels like sometimes he can’t relate to our closest friends; that he wished he wasn’t the “gay one.” He also says he loves being the gay one. Gays have a lot of feelings.
There have been many times where I wanted to console David and tell him that he wasn’t alone.There were many times when I should’ve challenged the opinions of people I’ve come to accept despite what they said, even though that acceptance may not be returned once they learn the truth about me.
I regret not having the courage to do so, but in those moments I wasn’t fully sure of how I felt, so instead I chimed in on the jokes or the offensive comments. In high school, while at a Stanford summer law camp, Chelsea and I were reprimanded for using the word “gay” too much. We have since decided not to pursue law careers.
The closest I ever came to telling anyone was:
When I was with David on my birthday after he asked if I thought anyone else we knew would come out (when I actually told him, he told me he saw me on Tinder AND Bumble…LOL)
While I was in Europe this summer, something I wanted to recap on my blog until I learned how bitter other friends were about it- to which I would just like to remind everyone of my Instagram bio:
ANYWAY, on our last day in Ibiza, I weighed the pros and cons while I was in a restaurant bathroom (somewhere I usually have existential thoughts/crises).
In the moment, I thought, “What could happen?” They had already seen me bawl uncontrollably after I thought Vivian got taken at a club called Amnesia (Vivian ended up being with a guy. Did I subconsciously cry out of jealousy? I don’t remember because the club was called AMNESIA). I felt that any shame I had left was either in my stolen wallet or my now-dried tears.
When I left the bathroom, ready to finally say something, I noticed all the waiters were guys in tight shorts. Once I walked back to the patio I saw that the restaurant had an abundance of rainbow flags that were literally waving over a crowd of gay guys dancing to a DJ who was clearly on drugs.
I realized that I had unintentionally taken Steven, Sage and Vivian to a GAY CLUB for dinner. In my defense, I found the place on Yelp (even an app could tell I was gay SMH). In that moment, I thought, “Maybe I’ll wait.” I didn’t want them to think I brought them to this club in a grand scheme to come out of the closet and take a peen in Ibiza.
My hesitation came from the fear of knowing that I will be treated differently by certain people I love. I know I will likely lose respect from people who are only “tolerant” because they’re supposed to be. I might lose contact with other people completely. My sexuality will factor into a lot of people’s perception of me. The distinction felt intimidating, even overwhelming.
In spite of how great life has been and hasn’t been recently (did I mention my wallet was stolen in Barcelona? Alright I’ll stop talking about it, RELAX!), I felt a lack of purpose, a lack of accomplishment, an all-consuming lack of faith in myself, particularly when I thought about finding love or lasting happiness. Life became increasingly difficult because I was in denial, and I developed severe social anxiety that affected me on a daily basis.
Instead of focusing on what I wanted, I decided to focus on the changing dynamics of my friends and family in the past year. I worried about their happiness instead of my own. I somehow convinced myself that I wasn’t a good person that deserved to be happy, when really I wasn’t acting like a good person because I wasn’t happy.
I became someone people felt they had to take care of, from Chelsea to Steven, who is the same age as my younger brother, yet was forced to finance my entire Europe trip after my wallet was taken (no YOU stop bringing it up).
I started to see how my actions, particularly my drinking, concerned or hurt the people I cared about. I had an easier time contemplating whether I had a drinking problem than whether I was gay or not. I was willing to accept that my drinking, which at times made me inconsiderate, selfish, temperamental, insecure, unreliable, and self-destructive, was a more sustainable lifestyle than being gay-a word that literally means happy, lighthearted and carefree (my usual personality traits).
I also trace my confusion back to my weight (ugh). David often tells me how gay guys have impossibly high standards that made me feel like I had to be a walking Magic Mike show to get any guy’s attention. Despite my progress (-180 pounds), I’ve spent most of my life trying to normalize myself because I still have a body complex. I always felt this unwavering need to prove I was just like everyone else for the sake of being accepted.
I wondered if my attraction to men was simply a desire to have the seemingly unattainable bodies I saw; the fit bodies I always envied. Was I simply lusting after men because I fantasized about having the chiseled abs, broad chest, or bulging arms on my own body rather than being sexually attracted to men?
I was also genuinely confused for a long time because I didn’t want to I rule out the possibility of being with a woman, especially since my only serious relationship was with a woman. For the longest time I thought I was bisexual because I am notorious for loving people that others hate (men) or don’t fully understand (women).
Women have always been, and will continue to be, a huge part of my life. They have given me some of my greatest qualities. I love being around women, working for women, and I generally feel more confident around women.
Beyond my guy friends, when it came to male camaraderie I’ve always felt a sense of displacement, which made my attraction to them even more confusing. I’ve never been interested in sports, cars, or other “masculine” interests. As a result, I’ve always been timid around guys, and these insecurities made me feel like I could never date one.
These inner turmoils, that I’ve overanalyzed to death, are why I’ve waited so long. While I didn’t want my blog to be another emotional manifesto about my personal struggles, I want to be able to grow as a person, and this is one way I know how.
As I read about the current political atmosphere, it’s hard not to want to hide even more. I am openly joining a minority of people who are constantly targeted, harassed, marginalized, and ostracized. My experience being overweight helped me develop a tougher skin to combat this type of pain and rejection, but I wasn’t ready to put myself BACK in that position, knowing what it’s like to be bullied and probed about my life choices.
The difference this time is that being gay is something I can’t -and refuse- to change.
By writing this, I want to show others that feel what I’ve felt, that as long as you can accept and love yourself, you will find people in life to accept and love you.
I’m done trying to be a version of myself that’s like everyone else or that everyone likes, because it distracts me from being my best self. I don’t want to be a version of myself that’s accepted by everyone if I can’t accept myself.
Will coming out solve all my insecurities? Hopefully to some degree, but I know I have a lot of work ahead. In the meantime, I can focus on being more honest, reliable, and caring to others.
Throughout my life, I’ve always felt different. It took me 26 years to realize everyone is different; and no matter what their human flaws are, sexually orientation is not one of them. I have to love my differences, especially when so many other people already do. It’s taken me this long to realize that what makes me different is what will make me successful, in love and in life.
I didn’t want this post to be about Europe long because my sexuality shouldn’t define me or anyone’s perception of me. As another eloquent Michael (as in Michael Scott) once said, “We’re all homos…Homo sapiens” and as long as I treat and love my fellow homos for who they are, I have faith I’ll receive the same treatment by the people that matter. I have to be my true self so I can have a lasting, positive impact in this world. I can no longer be burdened by what the world may or may not think of me. I have to be strong. I have to believe in myself. I can’t have anything to hide. I have to have pride.
And if you’re reading this, hopefully you’re proud of me too.
I figured out how to add a “follow” button for all of my avid readers/eager followers. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll also find my Twitter/new Instagram. Woo!
I have yet to find a template that I’m happy with for this actual blog, which I tampered with to mixed results. Still trying to figure out how to “blog” and “brand” myself. More on that later.
This week I only lost three pounds, which could be attributed to two factors.
I’ve been too lenient on my diet. Sticking to a liquid diet has been decidedly more difficult this week. I dined out a lot and ordered “soups” that turned out to be too caloric/chunky/thick for my body to tolerate. For example, I ordered a “tortilla” soup from The Cheesecake Factory that I’m pretty sure was just pureed refried beans and rice with added spice. I expanded the definition of “smoothies loaded with protein” to include “milkshakes that have little to no nutritional value.” Luckily, my body isn’t listening to my eyes, which for the first time ever are bigger than my stomach (not literally…yet).
I’m exercising more, and hopefully rebuilding some leg muscle as I can only walk. I’ve made sure to challenge myself by walking hilly streets/ local hiking trails. To my surprise, a lot of the normal routes I took when I started exercising are not as strenuous. This is great, but I need to be more creative, because my body is bored.
While I’ve lost over 80 pounds already (!) I’m scared I’m already forming bad habits or reaffirming old ones. What if I don’t lose any weight next week? Or worse…
As I’m losing weight, and people are telling me that I look great/skinny (which is so nice!), I can’t help but think about the time in my life where my now current weight was also the heaviest point in my life. I know I held my current weight at some point in my college career. Where was I at -mentally- during that time in my life? What was my general outlook on life? Why did I opt for complacency instead of change? What was I focusing on instead? This might be pointless to think about now because I’ve dramatically changed course, but I can’t help but wonder.
When I first started to step on the scale and come to terms with my body, I told myself that I had to learn to hate myself and then relearn to love myself. I spent my whole life thinking I wasn’t “that fat” and while I often daydreamed about being thinner, I conceded that I was doomed to be overweight forever. I had spent my whole life thinking I would have to come to terms with something that was entirely reversible. So when I say, “I learned to hate myself,” I actually mean I just learned to love myself enough to change.
What I try to do now, especially when I’m not in the mood to workout, is remind myself of what I’m excited for:
I’m excited to buy clothes that fit well, clothes that I see other men wearing but I could never pull off because I’m too large to fit into them. In college I always lusted after Chubbies– the TFM-mandated shorts for college douchebags- simply because I was too chubby for them.
I’m excited to be comfortable enough with myself, and my body, to start dating.
I’m excited to not feel like Jabba the Hut when I’m surrounded by the perfect, beautifully-sculpted, drug-infused bodies attending Coachella.
I’m excited to sleep better, as my surgeon said the procedure would help with my sleep apnea.
I’m excited to feel healthy and strong. I’m excited to not worry about random, fleeting chest pains.
But I know that I will never feel this way if I’m not persistent, diligent, focused, tenacious. I’ll often look my body before I take a shower, and usually I say, “ew,” because I almost feel like this isn’t even my body anymore. I’m eager to shed it, like the fat caterpillar in A Bug’s Life.
Even though I still can only drink liquids, I struggle with my urge to just take a bite of a piece of pizza or whatever and see if actually affects me. I even tried having a piece of naan, and it felt like it was permanently lodged in my esophagus. My body wanted to reject it because it’s not ready for it.
Luckily my stomach wounds are almost completely healed, and I only get stomach pains when I’m sitting down for too long. I guess that’s more inspiration to stay active!
This week I have a follow-up appointment, and I’ve started actively searching for a new job. I already have a phone call scheduled for tomorrow, so the future is bright.
I’m slowly trying to make these posts a little more succinct, because as one reader noted, they’re very long. Maybe I hope to be the next Judd Apatow; deftly blending humor and pathos but taking about 20 extra minutes to get my point across. This post is only about 100 words shorter than the last…Sorry.
I’ll leave you with two quotes from articles I found fascinating as I’m trying to navigate the world of writing and relationships.
The first article, Me, Inc., is written by a successful freelance author named Ann Friedman, who traces her difficulty with defining herself through a personal brand, a struggle I am also overcoming as I write.
“Her pep talk gets to the heart of my existential conflict about the personal branding process. I don’t think it’s possible to appeal to everyone and still be authentic, let alone unique… I’ve noticed a paradox: The more time I spend defining my personal brand, the more contrived it feels when I talk about myself.”
The second article is a New York Times opinion piece called, “Stop Googling, Let’s Talk,” by Sherry Turkle, who argues that we should l limit ourselves to the constant connection we’re afforded via phones and the internet.
“In solitude we find ourselves; we prepare ourselves to come to conversation with something to say that is authentic, ours. If we can’t gather ourselves, we can’t recognize other people for who they are. If we are not content to be alone, we turn others into the people we need them to be. If we don’t know how to be alone, we’ll only know how to be lonely.”
I’ll be honest. I’ve been going to a LOT of restaurants now that I like, have two jobs and money.
That’s starting to affect my waistline AND my wallet (I’m trying to save! HELP!). Also, I’m three weeks away from Coachella (SHOULD I GO VEGAN LIKE BEYONCE I’M DESPERATE) so expect to see some much healthier posts for the next three weeks (which based on my blogging cadence, could be anywhere from one to three new entries…I love keeping you guys guessing!).
Until then, I’ll dive into a few noteworthy spots I’ve been to, for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. Based on this blog you can surmise that I’m obsessed with breakfast. To be honest, I’ve been shooting most of these on my phone because I can’t bring myself to shoot with my camera at a restaurant, especially at a candlelit dinner, only to explain to the staff that I’m running an Instagram that barely has 650 followers, roughly the same amount as Alexis Ren when she was a newborn.
ANYWAY, let’s dive in, starting with Little Dom‘s. This adorable deli in Los Feliz had a quaint charm to it, so quaint in fact that I was reprimanded for having a “photoshoot” there with Nikki. Did we buy a copy of the LA Times purely to take a photo there? Sure. But I would hardly qualify that as a photoshoot. Anyway, take a look inside.
Did I have my two cameras, four lenses, and my iPhone with me? Sure, BUT DON’T CALL IT A PHOTOSHOOT.
So what did I order as this renowned deli? A vegetarian dish of course!
This wild mushroom benedict was pretty good, but I thought the hollandaise sauce was on the tangy side, likely because they added too much lemon. I did enjoy the ciabatta and arugula garnish though.
I’ve heard their skillet french toast is phenomenal, so I’m definitely willing to give this place a second chance, WITHOUT MY CAMERA I GUESS. Nikki had their breakfast sandwich and said it was good!
What was exponentially better though? The Church Key on Sunset. I came here with Adel a few weekends ago for bottomless brunch and I loved the decor. Didn’t snap too many pictures there, but it would be a great place to host a large group, so I want to come back. Here’s a picture of their bar, my favorite area of any restaurant.
The standout for me was the “toad in a hole” croque madame, made with two eggs, a gruyere fondue, and smoked bacon. I don’t know what kind of bread they used but if focaccia had an butterier cousin, it would be this.
I liked that it wasn’t SMOTHERED in this fondue, because it was rich but not overpowering. That being said I could probably drink this fondue.
We ordered a side of their crispy potato hash browns, which were kind of deconstructed into a fried layered potato. They were crunchy but thick enough to not feel like I spent $6 on square potato chips.
Adel ordered the brussels sprouts caesar salad because IDK he thinks he’s better than me by ordering a salad for brunch. It was topped with dried tomatoes, parmesan, sunflower seeds, and croutons. It was an interesting take and I was into it.
Another place off Sunset I’m definitely trying to revisit? Gwen. Went here with Jerry for an impromptu dinner because he was in the area. This place is a butcher shop combined with a fine dining restaurant. Sounds incongruous but it works. Look at this place. Those tables!
Does it take some design cues from The Cheesecake Factory? Maybe, but trust me, this place is definitely worth a visit. Check out what’s pictured here:
Going clockwise: caramelized brussels sprouts with bacon and peppercorn, lamb shank with an olive chimichurri and charred lemon, potatoes cooked in duck fat and tarragon vinegar, and their homemade gnocchi topped with wagyu beef pieces and crispy onions.
The lamb shank literally fell off the bone it was so tender. I will say I’m not a huge fan of olives so I wasn’t into that, but everything else was pretty damn tasty. The brussels and potatoes were also satisfying but not groundbreaking (Miranda Priestly voice). The gnocchi was incredible and was thankfully a small portion because by the time this food came I was basically full. That’s because we also tried their lobster rolls and lamb ribs that are SO good.
How cute are these lobster rolls? You can basically finish one in two bites, but the lobster is flavored with lemon and herbs and nestled into a buttery brioche bun that was so savory (their dinner bread was also amazing and came with this salami spread that was spicy in the best way). The lamb ribs were also accompanied with this yogurt sauce that brought me back to Greece.
All in all, I definitely need to keep these two jobs and my gym membership to keep eating like this. WORTH IT.
Ending this POST with some pictures I took at the Skybar (located in the Mondrian hotel) because like Chelsea facetiously noted when she saw my IG story of these locations, there is literally not one corner of LA I won’t crawl to. #MAPOFLA
Sorry for the brief hiatus. I was really on a roll for a minute! In the time I’ve been neglecting my blog I’ve been super busy with BOXFOX, my other work responsibilities, and NOT doing the Whole 30.
However, I’m attempting to go back to eating well, meal-prepping, and being all around better because I WILL look good at Coachella. Plus Lent is coming up and being the amazing Catholic I’m not, I might as well do SOMETHING for my lord and savior before I worship my other savior (Beyonce).
ANYWAY, let’s talk about Pizzana. Located in Brentwood, this tasteful establishment (and I mean that in more ways than one) is the savory venture from the owners of Sprinkles (comment if you’ve never been so I have an excuse to go buy one “for my blog”).
The space, much like Jon and Vinny’s, is fairly small. I would say there were probably 15 tables max. I went with my dear friend Jessica because she invited me to a private art showing (more on that later).
We got there at 11:30 (I was hungry LEAVE ME ALONE) so there was literally no one in the restaurant. What struck me so much about the ambiance was the gorgeous blue, from the walls to the table settings.
Like should I paint my room this color? It’s incredible.
But let’s talk about the food. Here’s what we ordered:
We ordered two pretty unique pizzas (after not being very adventurous at Jon and Vinny’s) which were recommended by our waiter. The first was the Pignatiello:
It had braised short rib, fior di latte, parmigiano cream, and basil- not ingredients I would think would go well together to be honest. I was pleasantly surprised to taste that all the ingredients balanced each other pretty well without being too overpowering.
To balance this heavier pizza, we also opted for the Corbarina, which had squash blossom, burrata, cherry tomato, and gremolata, which is a lemony-herb mixture made with parsley and oregano.
This one was AMAZING. I loved how fresh and almost light (I mean as light as a pizza can be) it was. I think the different textures are also what made this stand out, from the creamy burrata to the the almost flower-like feel of the squash blossom. The gremolata also added a lot of great flavor to this.
To balance out our hearty meal we also ordered the “Cavoletto Di Bruxelles,” which I did not even try to pronounce to our waiter. It was shaved brussels sprouts, lolla rossa (basically a type of lettuce), apple, toasted pistachios (which we removed because Jessica is allergic), and a caramelized shallot vinaigrette. It was simple and tasty, though I wish I would’ve tasted more of the dressing (I just love onions in any form).
And to balance our balancing out, we also ordered their rosé, which was honestly very good. Not too sweet or bitter, and almost crisp to taste. Here’s a dorky picture of me enjoying it.
All in all, a highly satisfying lunch. Would definitely love to come back and try their Uovo or classic pepperoni pizzas. Until then, maybe I’ll visit Sprinkles. Who wants to join?
Oh, the art show! That was fun. Located in the heart of Bel-Air, it was one of the most gorgeous homes I’ve ever been in, and the ENTIRE house was basically a small art gallery.
This gallery wall was everything.
I don’t know what this means but it’s PROVOCATIVE. Definitely got me going.
Is this bathroom a joke?
Am I? LOL
Thanks for reading gang! Again I truly appreciate all of you who give me feedback on this. It’s been so fun and rewarding to see my content being shared by restaurants (Pizzana actually asked me for this review!) but also to get genuine reactions from you guys. If you ever want to join me on this adventure PLEASE COMMENT below and I will gladly take you! UNTIL THEN!!!!
So spoiler alert before I dive in: nothing I’m about to detail here is Whole 30-compliant at all! Some of you reading this are doing the Whole 30 and I would almost advise NOT to read this. My mouth is watering just looking at these pictures again, and reliving it while I eat an apple is almost a form a masochism.
Anyone who has experienced Jon & Vinny’sknows and anyone who hasn’t needs to know.
Gauging from the replies to my IG Story a lot of people have tried this place, and I’m assuming anyone who didn’t reply to my story was seething with jealousy (SIDE NOTE: I’m not tracking who watches my stories versus likes my posts on my feed but I’m tracking).
ANYWAY, Jon & Vinny’s is located on Fairfax across the street from Canter’s (a landmark Jewish deli that has great matzo ball soup BTW).
This restaurant is tiny, so a reservation is definitely required. I would be surprised if 30 people could be seated here, and if you’re one of those people who can’t be bothered to sit in close proximity next to strangers, I would suggest takeout instead.
I went with three other friends (Rachel, Jerry, and Katrina-shoutout to her for kicking Raffi out of the resi so I could join. She got an Instagram out of it and I made her take me to Soho House after, so I would say it was worth it for everyone involved).
Back to the food. We started off healthy-ish with the Gem Lettuce salad, which was basically a caesar salad but with a Calabrian Chili dressing, parmesan, and bread crumbs. What is Calabrian Chili? I don’t know but it’s delicious!
The crunchy texture of this salad was incredible, from the crisp gem lettuce to the toasted breadcrumbs. The dressing wasn’t spicy, despite what the name may imply. It was creamy like a Caesar, and shares a lot of the same ingredients. Cupcakes & Cashmere did a recreation of it on their blog if you want to get a sense of its flavors. It was garlicky and salty with hint of heat. So so good. Next time I come here I definitely want to try the Caprese.
Next we shared a margarita pizza and the meatballs. I low-key wish we had been more adventurous in our pizza choice (how hard is it to mess up a margarita?), but that just means I get to come again and try the LA Woman and the Sonny’s Favorite. Important note: they do serve ranch here, which is a relief to someone who has friends like Keith who continually embarrasses me by asking for it at more high-end Italian restaurants.
How great are Rachel and Katrina at hand-modeling this food BTW?
The pizza was great-perfectly sauced, not too cheesy, and had a nice charred, thin-ish crust. I HATE a thin-crust pizza that’s soggy because it’s topped with too much sauce/cheese, but that was not the case at all here.
The real star as far as the appetizers though, were the marinara-braised meatballs. Served with ricotta (which I thought was burrata because it was so creamy and good), fresh herbs, and grilled ciabatta (I’m so hungry now, fuck this apple), the meatballs sliced easily with a fork because they were so tender. They literally melted in your mouth. I know I just came out of the closet but these are literally the best balls I have ever put in my mouth. If you can stomach that joke, and if you love yourself, I highly recommend ordering.
ALSO NOTE THAT THEY HAVE CRUSHED ICE. I know a lot of you care, and if you don’t, I don’t care.
By the time the entrées were served I was almost full, but I had to at least have a bite of everything. I ordered the spaghetti carbonara, which isn’t on its online menu, making me think it’s not always on the menu or it’s a new item. If it’s there when you visit, it’s AMAZING, but rich.
Have you ever seen me look happier? The creamy egg sauce combined with the parmesan and crispy pancetta bites made this incredibly decadent. I’m almost glad Rachel ate my leftovers because I for sure would’ve gained back the five pounds I recently lost (HUMBLE BRAG ALERT).
Katrina ordered spicy fusilli pasta with a vodka sauce, which probably the reason why it was my second favorite. All the pasta I tried was cooked al-dente (although I think Rachel’s, whose cacio e pepe is originally served with bucatini, was served with a thicker rigatoni that was softer). Have you ever seen Katrina look at anything more lovingly than this bowl of pasta?
Look at these girls in their element! Rachel is the first person to bring my attention to cacao e pepe (after she casually sent me a photo of it with the simple demand to make it for her), and if you’re someone who is all about buttered noodles, this is essentially an elevated version of that, with parmesan and pepper being the main flavors in this dish.
You can’t really tell in this photo but trust me Rachel was loving every second of this as much as I was.
Although it’s usually served with a thinner noodle, I think this thicker noodle absorbed the simple flavors really well. Katrina’s pasta was flavorful and not spicy at all-why do restaurants insist on calling things spicy when they’re not?
I have to be honest, I did not try Jerry’s spaghetti with six-hour bolognese. Or at least I don’t remember trying it. I may have blacked out from culinary ecstasy I was already experiencing. Here are some photos of it though. Shian, who watched my story, said it was BOMB so I’ll have to order it next time.
Jerry is also killing it with food modeling. Or he was ignoring me taking photos and trying to eat like a normal person does at a restaurant. Either way, you rock Jerry.
Check out our full spread below. Can you tell my dish came out last? LOL.
We ended the meal with their signature soft serve. It was so good, mostly because I haven’t been eating dessert/dairy of any kind. I also had to stop eating by this point because I was on the verge of throwing up. And of course, what would a lunch with my friends be if there wasn’t a little bit of tea involved 😉
So glad I finally tried this place, and I urge everyone else to too! What other Italian places should I try? Please let me know in the comments, either on here or on Instagram (@mapofla, duh).
Thank you for reading my first post of 2018! While I originally wanted to post this, like, before NYE, I’ve been busy with work and life and actually trying to stick to my resolutions. I think the last time I kept a New Year’s Resolution was when I was in high school, and it was to stop drinking soda (I was SO LAME then…but then again I also got into my dream school so maybe I should learn from my old self).
I’m really looking to improve myself and by extension, my life. It seems like everyone is on the self-care train this year and I will gladly be one of its passengers.
While I have been blessed with the gift of self-awareness, that only goes so far. I’ve identified most of the problems I have in my life, or at least the things I’d like to improve on, but what actionable steps do I take to achieve personal and professional growth? That’s where the true growth in character lies.
Sharing my resolutions is a way for me to be accountable to not only myself, but to the people who read this and cheer me on everyday. Coming out showed me that there are so many people who care about me; more than I ever thought.
I’m hoping to ride this wave of newfound reassurance and love to give the people I care about everything they’ve ever given me and more. Today Chelsea told me that a mutual friend who works at Netflix wants to pass my resume along because my journey is “our journey.” This is a person that I’ve met maybe a half-dozen times, but it’s touching to know that people want me to succeed no matter how well they may or may not know me. I want to acknowledge all the people in my life who unconditionally support me, and when I finally make it, whether it’s with this blog or something completely different, I plan on taking you all to the top with me.
So, here are my resolutions, with a brief explanation as to why.
ACTUALLY doing The Whole 30 Diet for 30 (or more) consecutive days.
When I did this diet for two weeks this past year, there was a noticeable difference in not only my appearance (beyond weight loss, my skin and hair looked great) but with my whole mentality. I felt more upbeat, confident, and just happier. I need more of that consistently. Plus, I have another 40+ pounds to lose, and something tells me cutting out carbs, alcohol, refined sugars, and everything else that’s terrible for me (for the most part), will help.
So far, I’ve stuck to it fairly well with the exception of last weekend. Right now, I’m modifying the diet to be more realistic with my lifestyle, but I do want to stick to is strictly for 30 days at SOME POINT this year.
I’ve been doing a ton of meal prepping and I’m LOVING it. I truly enjoy cooking and have found some great recipes I want to share with you. Scroll down for pictures/recipes!
Complete sobriety for 60 (or more) consecutive days.
Again, drinking has been a recurring problem for me, and while I don’t ever feel the need to drink all the time, when I do, it’s hard for me to stop. Drinking is no longer that stimulating to me, and it’s starting to feel like a waste of my time. I will make exceptions for important milestones and/or celebrations (this past weekend I had some drinks, but I didn’t get drunk, and I still had a great time). Again, I want to do this at least once this year to just see what happens with my body and mind. Something tells me it’ll be amazing.
I’m assuming drinking less and being on a strict diet will affect my social life, because that’s literally all I do whenever I’m with my friends. While I would never blame my friends for me not being consistent or disciplined in my writing, I do privilege them over everything always.
However, unless my friends want to be friends with a drunk, poor loser, I think they will understand that I have to sacrifice part of my social life to really developing my writing.
I’m starting to write daily with The Five-Minute Journal (it is also a free app). Each day has a cool quote and a list of questions regarding gratitude, daily affirmations etc. It honestly has been really helpful, even though I wish there was more variety in the questions. I told myself that if I skip a day, I have to go to the gym for two hours.
Being more adventurous and trying new things.
JK, but for the purposes of my blog and enriching my life, I really do want to explore everything there is to experience in LA, and even try new workouts/pick up new hobbies. For instance, I’ve never tried yoga…and Austin is a YOGA INSTRUCTOR. I’ve never been rock climbing. I’ve never even been camping. Also, I should probably try dating.
Transforming this blog.
While I want to continue to write about my personal life, I have a much bigger vision of what this blog can be. You’ll have to wait to see what I mean.
Take 1 photo and 1 writing class.
I’m an amateur with raw talent at best, and I’d like to develop these passions.
Read at least 1 book a month.
I’ve already finished reading You Are A Badass and it was the perfect first book to kick off my year. I highly recommend because it’s all about changing your perspective on yourself to get what you want out of life. Since I’ve already told like five people they can borrow my copy I strongly urge anyone who feels like they’re not reaching their full potential to click the link.
Go on ONE amazing vacation abroad with friends!
Ideally more but we’ll see LOL. Steven has already mentioned he’s itching to travel….
For the trip above and also for life.
Getting an awesome new apartment with furniture I plan on keeping.
GET ME OUT OF WHITTIER LOL
This year is truly a new beginning and I’m already so happy with how things are going so far. What are you guys trying to do to improve yourself this year? Feel free to share iiN tHe cOmMeNtZ and in the meantime I’ll share some of the recipes I’ve been trying throughout the last two weeks!
Okay, so as you may have gleaned I am a huge breakfast person, and last week my brother, dad and I bought 48 eggs total, so I went to town and made two easy, high protein, Whole 30-compliant breakfasts that you can take on the go.
Today I did a lunch/dinner meal prep that’s also (mostly) Whole 30-complaint. For all these recipes you’ll only need a few kitchen tools and access to Trader Joe’s, which made a lot of this much easier.
Prosciutto Egg Cups
Prosciutto is bacon’s leaner, more pretentious (expensive) cousin and I LOVE it, so when I found this recipe on Instagram I knew I had to try it. Here’s my version and look how great they turned out!
I package of prosciutto (usually has 8 slices)
8-12 eggs (I ended up using 4 pieces of bacon to make 12 of these because I had extra slabs)
1 cup loosely packed Kale (I used the pre-washed/pre-cut organic bag from Trader Joe’s)
3-4 mushrooms (again, I used excess vegetables from my refrigerator which I strongly encourage. If you’re cooking for one you tend to have a lot of leftover produce/herbs so I tried to just use up what I could).
1/4 bell pepper (I had yellow on hand)
Salt and pepper to taste
Non-stick cooking spray.
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
Use non-stick cooking spray on a muffin tin (this red one I used, while cute for the photo, is silicon and therefore a HUGE pain in the ass to clean. DO NOT RECOMMEND).
Begin making the “cups” with the prosciutto by pressing it down and along the sides of the tin.
Chop your veggies into tiny pieces. If you want, you can sauté them down a little bit with some garlic and olive oil but I just threw it on the bottom of the prosciutto cup.
Crack an egg over each cup and add salt and pepper.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes! Keep an eye on them. I took them out while the eggs were still a little undercooked because I knew I would be storing them and microwaving them later and I still wanted a runny yolk.
Garnish with chopped parsley
Reheat throughout the week for 1 minute and enjoy!
MINI VEGGIE FRITTATAS
This is a recipe I pulled from What’s Gaby Cooking, whom I love because her recipes are often super simple and don’t require a ton of ingredients. For my version, I replaced the parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast because it adds a cheese-like flavor and it’s Whole 30-approved. What’s great about this is that you can also add whatever you want to mix it up for yourself. I’m thinking next time I’ll add bacon.
See full recipe and directions below:
About 1-2 cups veggies you have leftover ( I had bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes), diced.
Salt and pepper to taste
Nutritional yeast (1-2 tablespoons)
Green onions/chives. Gaby’s recipe calls for chives and onion, but I had so much leftover green onion that I just used that instead (SPOILER ALERT: IT’S DELICIOUS).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
in a non-stick skillet, add olive oil and chopped veggies and sauté them for about 5-10 minutes.
Once they’re soft, add them to a muffin tray (sprayed with non-stick cooking spray).
In a bowl, whisk eggs with cheese/nutritional yeast. Chop green onion/chives and whisk all together.
Fill the muffin tin with the egg mixture until about half to three-quarters of the way to the top.
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes and check to see if they’re done using a toothpick (if you stick it in the center and the toothpick comes out clean, they’re done!)
Store in refrigerator or freezer and microwave throughout your week.
Cauliflower Rice Chicken Burrito Bowls
Another What’s Gaby Cooking recipe that I had been been dying to try. I had chicken breast and shrimp that I needed to use up, but I made a quick Trader Joe’s run to get the rest of the ingredients to make this super easy.
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-2 teaspoons of chipotle/chili powder (the original recipe calls for chipotle marinated in adobo sauce, which I’m sure is delicious, but it wasn’t at TJ’s so I had to improvise).
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime.
1-2 teaspoons of oregano
1 teaspoon of cumin
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper.
NOTE: I did most of these measurements by sight, because I hate washing more dishes than I have to. I would add more chili powder to make it spicier if that’s your thang.
I love cauliflower rice and it’s available already riced at Trader Joe’s. If you have to, buy a head of cauliflower and rice it with a food processor.
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of fire-roasted/charred corn (available in the Trader Joe’s freezer aisle.)
1 bell pepper
1/2 red onion.
2 jalapeños (again, would use more if you like spice, also keep the seeds. I wish I had but I was being a little puss at the time).
2-3 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper
Pico De Gallo, which I made using leftover mini heirloom tomatoes, cilantro, lime, olive oil, jalapeño, garlic and red onion. All you have to do is cut it all into roughly same size pieces with about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of 1 lime. Add as much jalapeño as you’d like depending on your spice preference. Also season with salt and pepper to taste.
This may seem like a lot but I added more veggies than the original recipe called for because i had so much to use up in my kitchen. The original recipe also calls for black beans, which are not Whole-30 approved (IDK why, neither is corn). I bought a can but then opted not to use them once I realized how much I already had going on. A lot of these ingredients overlap as well, and you really only need one sheet pan, a non-stick skillet, and the tupperware/bowls you’re going to store everything in.
First marinate the chicken by combining all the ingredients in a zip-lock bag. Let it marinate for 1 hour or more.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and place all the veggies and chicken on one sheet pan.
For the veggies, drizzle olive oil and add salt, pepper, and garlic. Roast with the chicken breasts in the oven for 25 minutes.
For the rice cauliflower, sauté with garlic salt, pepper, and olive oil for about five minutes. Add lime juice (but NOT too much as it can overpower the cauliflower and give it a sour flavor).
Heat the charred corn according to instructions. Since I placed them in different tupperware containers, I just placed the frozen corn in as is since it’ll defrost in the freezer and I’ll warm when I microwave for lunch throughout the week.
Assemble the bowls, starting with cauliflower rice and corn as the base.
Take out veggies and chicken. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting/cubbing it. Add the chicken and roasted veggies to the rice bowl.
Chop some cilantro, lime wedges, and green onions and add it to the bowl. Place in the fridge for lunches/dinners all week long.
When you’re ready to eat/serve, microwave for 3-4 minutes, slice some avocado and top with pico de gallo.
Oh, I also made this roasted shrimp and veggie salad from Goodful. SOOO good. I’m really into roasted vegetables right now.
Hope some of you try this, because they are ALL so flavorful. I’m determined to be good this week as I’ll be going to two Italian restaurants this weekend (it’s my dad’s birthday!) and there WILL be pasta involved.
…So, that last blog post huh? LOL. Now that I got THAT load off my chest (that’s what he said!) I’m ready to refocus this blog back to what I said like four blog posts ago, namely to feature places, experiences, and most importantly FOOD of LA.
I get asked for restaurant recommendations daily so I’m really going to work on making this a space for people to quickly reference, because if I get asked about where to go to brunch without an invitation to join ONE MORE TIME I will throw a mimosa in Keith’s face (I’m assuming he’ll be in close proximity to me the next time I’m having mimosas. I won’t be wrong).
ANYWAY, let’s get started.
So Great White, located in Venice, is a small, unpretentious little eatery with beautiful “great white” walls enclosing a half-indoor/half outdoor eating area. I like to eat the same way I like to judge people-with my eyes first, so a restaurant with beautiful food and ambience is essential. Check out how cute the counter is!
The space is pretty small; maybe like 20 people could comfortably seat in the restaurant and it would looked packed (and it pretty much did the two times I’ve been there). This is taken from the back of the restaurant, and where you see unassuming white women ordering avocado toast (which looked great).
The outdoor area overlooks this, so if you have family and friends visiting LA, this is an ideal place to start your day before venturing to Venice Beach/boardwalk.
This place has already gained notoriety for its blue smoothie bowl, which is made with banana, pineapple, passionfruit, live blue algae, chia, seasonal fruit, and house-made granola.
For the purposes of this blog I researched the healthy benefits of blue algae. A $12 acai bowl should do more than give me attention on Instagram.
Here’s what I found:
The blue-green variety is high in nutrients and also a very powerful energy booster. It’s used to naturally aid weight loss, diabetes, stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression and premenstrual syndrome. Blue-green algae has also been used to treat precancerous growths inside the mouth, improve memory and improve overall digestive health.
Wait it’s only $12?! Should I put blue algae in everything? This bowl is what I had the first time I visited Great White and it’s incredible (BY THE WAY: Chelsea will claim that she knew about Great White first and that it’s now her and her boyfriend’s “breakfast spot.” If you see her there, tell her that I know I experienced it first and that WE GET IT YOU HAVE A BOYFRIEND).
I don’t really know how to better describe an acai bowl besides telling you it’s an amazing, filling, smoothie that’s made inconvenient because it’s in a bowl rather than a glass. Trendy foods are so fun! Trust me when I say that this one is worth ordering if you’re trying to do the whole “new year, new me” thing in 2018.
Kelsey and Nikki, who organized this breakfast, both ordered it. For the purposes of our health and IG stories I did NOT object. FYI, if you’re going to out to eat with Nikki and me, be prepared to salivate over your food for at least five extra minutes (emphasis on EXTRA) before consuming anything. We are the pretentious foodies that will stand up and take photos in public with no shame.
I ordered an iced matcha latte and the “scramble bowl” (which I will admit, Chelsea recommended to me). It had soft-scrambled eggs, house-made pesto, goat cheese, bacon, wild arugula, and grilled bread. I’m usually not a fan of soft-scrambled eggs because when done poorly they taste like someone soaked eggs in bathwater. These were fluffy and almost creamy in their consistency, which perfectly complimented the texture of the goat cheese and balanced the stronger, more peppery flavor of the arugula and nutty texture of the pesto.
So simple yet flavorful, and something I definitely will recreate at home. I’m thinking I’ll post both a version of this and my banana pancakes recipe in one blog post. The bacon was also perfectly crispy (note my hand trying to refrain from grabbing it as I’m taking the photo with the other hand).
Quick shoutout to the matcha latte- which I originally ordered iced, but they brought out a hot one first and let us keep it. Since I’ve come out things like this have been happening to me. For instance, when I went to the movies recently, the concessions cashier gave me an extra hot dog- a subtle reward from the universe for me coming out or a cynical reminder that I’m poor, hungry and was at the movies alone because I have a Moviepass and that’s the only social outing I can afford? You decide!
Anyway, they were both equally tasty. I find that matcha lattes can sometimes be overpowering in their earthy flavor, which is why I seldom order it. I would definitely get this if you’re not a coffee drinker or just looking to get some great latte art.
Nikki ordered a turmeric latte (turmeric is anti-inflammatory and full of antioxidants, so it has health benefits too!). I’m glad she ordered it because I was able to try it. It wasn’t bad, but nothing I would order again.
Anyway, will definitely be back here. Grace and I already have a date to try their breakfast burrito, which Chelsea said is good but not her fav. You’ll have to subscribe to my blog to find out who’s right (spoiler alert: Chelsea usually is)!!!