Friday, March 30, 2012

a day off like no other

celebrated my day off thursday with QUITE the adventure at malibu creek state park. originally slated to do a trial run of the upcoming 22k (14.5M) course, everything started out fine and dandy. ran thru the old M*A*S*H site on our way up the infamous bulldog motorway - 3.4M of fun, steep uphill.

vim at the M*A*S*H site
start of bulldog
made it to the top (6.5M) no worse for the wear, and even bumped into a fellow hiker taking a breather for accomplishing the same feat.

atop bulldog
last smiles for hours
but somewhere around mile 9, we veered off course and all went to hell. instead of heading E and staying on the mesa peak fire road, we ended up going S on corral canyon towards the PCH. we ended up in a tony residential district and saw the corral canyon street sign, much to our horror.

at this point, we were about 2M off course, with still a good 6M to go once we get back on track. we had run out of food and our water supply was nearing zero, so we hemmed and hawed about our dilemma - do we backtrack to the trail and push on for the remaining 8 miles? or do we keep going down corral canyon another 3 miles to get to the PCH and try to hitchhike back to malibu canyon road, then back up another 6 miles to the park entrance?

just then, an angel - and by angel i mean resident ed - was checking his mail, so we picked his brain on what to do. luckily, he's an avid mountain biker and knows the park trails like the back of his hand, so he happily offered to top off our water bottles and even threw in a couple of bananas. since he was heading back to work, he offered to drive us back to the mesa peak fire road, where we would go the remaining 6M back to the car. what a godsend.

a labyrinth!
a peek inside the caves
thankfully, the rest of the trail was predominantly downhill, but it was all a blur the last few miles. we ended up walking the last two on las virgenes - determined not to make any more errors on the trails - and finally made it back to the car. 18 miles and 2,500 burned calories later, we did it haha.

the cr-A-zee thing is, we have warrior dash this saturday, so i'll rest up today and go right back at it tomorrow...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

eric's birthday - mastro's ocean club

celebrated my friend eric's birthday last night in style, getting swooped up in a limo and surprising him with an intimate dinner with friends at mastro's ocean club in newport beach. homeboy had no clue what was going down, so props to his wife kym for organizing the special night!

we got started early, taking down vodka and jack daniels on the drive over - had to take advantage of our surroundings! - before settling into mastro's at around 8:15pm. the place was packed (cougars are definitely out in full force here, searching for wealthy OC "benefactors"), so we celebrated at the bar with shots of the bartender's choosing. the end result were two drinks called love potion #69 and violet night, both of which went down smoothly.

by this time, the women in the group started hugging everybody in sight, disappeared into the bathroom for mysterious lengths of time, and were losing their phones/purses/minds at random, so by the time dinner came around, our table of 8 became a table of 5 haha. nevertheless, an amazing seafood platter, a new york strip steak and lobster mac & cheese did much to satiate my hunger.

i happened to be the only one without kids, so it was hilarious to see everybody go buck wild for a night while not having to take care of their brood. good times indeed!

the group minus 4

Thursday, March 22, 2012

beer belly visit

this past weekend i also had the opportunity to swing by beer belly in koreatown, my first non-evening visit there. they had a completely different menu for brunch, as opposed to dinner, highlighted by snickers pancakes!

since i was still full after just wolfing down some spicy chicken wings at kyochon, i opted for the beer flight of:

* hangar 24 orange wheat (light & refreshing)
* the bruery humulus lager (intense floral nose)
* craftsman el prieto sour black ale (uniquely addicting)
* hangar 24 chocolate porter (robust & hearty)

it's a fabulous craft beer bar with a menu straight out of a test kitchen headed up by doc brown from 'back to the future.' and i mean that in a good way - duck fat fries, "chicken in waffles" (buttermilk fried chicken inside a waffle!), deep fried oreos... love this place!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

review - sprinkles cupcake ATM

took the day off on monday and stayed local just to relax. kicked off the day by seeing the rousing and hilarious 21 JUMP STREET - channing tatum, who knew you were so funny? - before making our first pitstop at sprinkles to check out their new 24-hour cupcake ATM!

only two weeks old, the rainbow-hued ATM is located directly outside the storefront and is still drawing crowds to santa monica blvd. and it's so easy to use!

after a five-minute wait, we stepped up to the machine and got to work ordering our cupcake. first off, the touch screen allows for you to scroll through that day's flavors - including doggy cupcakes - before requesting your credit card for payment. one quick swipe later and the screen turns to camera mode, showing you its electronic arm as it sifts through the maze of freshly made and stocked cupcakes. after it secures your selection, it conveniently drops off the box in the rotating panel, when the curved door slides open and voila! individually boxed cupcake at your fingertips!

sliding door open!

the venerable cupcakery is also opening up their brand new ice cream shop next door, and from the looks of it, it's due to open any day now...

Saturday, March 17, 2012


chalk this up under the i-can't-believe-this-just-happened category.

a peculiar package - i haven't ordered anything lately - arrived at my doorstep the other day. armed with the return address label of beaverton, OR - only the headquarters of nike - i tore into the small box with glee. lo and behold, i received this amazing little gift box:

as most of you know, i've been an ardent supporter of the swoosh since my very first pair of the original air jordan I (white/navy colorway) release from a discount shoe store. i've owned quite a few of their iconic sneakers over the years - the air force max (michigan's fab five), the air maestro (j-kidd), the presto (like a t-shirt for the feet), the air max 95 (original colorway in grey/green), the air jordan XI (my fave pair of kicks of all time) and even the air rift (split toe in camo).

but with the advent of the nike free in 2005, it was the company's first foray into barefoot running after discovering the positive effects it had on the human body. i soon joined the fray, starting with the 5.0 - a numerical system where the lowest number was closest to barefoot - then graduating to the 3.0, where i couldn't imagine running in anything else. with its impossible flexibility, its lightweight feel (under 7 ounces for a shoe!) and its ability to strengthen the foot, i was sold.

i still run in my version 1's, but stocked up on two pairs of the version 2's for fear that they would discontinue the style.

and apparently, nike noticed!

recently i've had the fortune of maintaining dialogue with them online as to their kicks and training regimen, and in turn their support has pushed me to get out there and move. just last week they remarked that they liked my style and asked for my home address, which i was a tad reticent about. is this a scam, or was this junk mail from some nefarious hacker posing to be the shoe company? but i took a leap of faith and sent it to them... and was rewarded with my first pair of their upcoming nike free run 3 ID kicks! for free!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

cal bounced from the NCAAs

was disheartened to see cal lie down last night in their play-in game against the university of south florida for the opportunity to square off against temple in the field of 64.

they've been grinding for the last 3-4 weeks trying to finish up the pac-12 strong and get into the tourney and it turns out they barely got in, sneaking ahead of the regular season conference champs washington huskies.

still, it was no excuse for their flimsy effort against the defensive-minded bulls. outside of PF harper kamp, nobody for cal put up a fight, so their season - and validation that the pac-12 was terrible - has come to an abrupt end...

now on to march madness!

Monday, March 12, 2012

review - the pie hole

sunday we hit up wurstkuche downtown for lunch, followed by a visit to the pie hole, a cute shop located directly across the street. open since october 2011, it recently gained a bit of notoriety from the following short (that a friend of a friend shot) depicting its essence:

This is The Pie Hole Los Angeles from The Pie Hole LA on Vimeo.

the pie hole serves up both savory and sweet pies, but we opted for the latter since we just ate lunch. told that their specialty is the maple custard, we sat down and dug in for a slice. wow, is all i can say. almost a cross between a crème brulée and a budino in pie form, it was heaven on a plate.

wurstkuche in background
maple custard
storefront on traction ave.

the pie hole
714 traction ave.
los angeles, CA 90013

Saturday, March 10, 2012

run forrest run...

set a new personal record (PR) on the backbone trail this morning, covering the 7.2m up and back in 1:20. beat my previous best by two minutes, so i was surprised but excited. each time i make the trek up - today was #5 - it seems like such slow going, so when i made it to the halfway point at mulholland highway, i didn't think it was in the cards. i took a one minute breather to down a gu energy gel, then began my descent.

some time splits for me to remember from today's run:

17 min - reach the fence door (it's been there for years)
32 min - 1st visible peek at the looming tower
48 min - reach mulholland highway 3.6m up

anyway, i'm going to reward myself... with another 5m run up/down paseo miramar! wasn't planning on it, but my training buddy asked, so how can i turn him down?

let's hope i survive - 12.2 miles in one day would be new terrain, even though i won't be able to take full credit because it's not one continuous run.

UPDATE: did the 5m round tripper not more than 45 minutes after i got back from backbone - just enough time to slather on some sunblock and head back out. it was tough sledding having to revert back to attack mode, but once we started i felt good. my legs and feet feel great sitting here this evening, but it's probably because of the craft beer i just cracked open.

the end goal is a half marathon, but not just any half: the 22k (14+ miles) xterra malibu creek trail run on april 29. it's a good 3.5 miles more than the xterra mission gorge, but i feel like i'm making good progress - outside of the food binge in new orleans - and am ready for the challenge. 

but in the meantime, we have warrior dash (the 3rd time running it) later this month!

Monday, March 5, 2012

knope 2012

have already plotted out my route in hitting up supermarkets tonight with my handy campaign bag (thanks to NBC's parks and recreation). 

down sepulveda heading south for vons and albertsons, right at palms, then back up barrington to hit up whole foods and finally ralphs. 

knope 2012!

eats - huckleberry

tried to check out the waffle joint bru's wiffle on sunday morning, but the 45-minute wait made us head back to huckleberry, our tried & true.

we went with the:

cheddar/chive biscuit
breakfast burrito w/bacon (tasty!)
grilled cheese
chocolate truffle pudding (OMG the top layer)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

review - KTCHN 105

got back from new orleans late saturday night, just in time to have brunch with my cousin caroline and friend olivia on sunday morning. we had 11am plans to meet up at KTCHN 105, some sort of pop-up brunch spot located in a random warehouse in downtown LA. heidi and i were the first to show up, only to arrive with no clue as to how to get in. one can see the address on the outside of the building, but there are no signs and no open access doors anywhere.

nondescript warehouse
purple pig!

we meet up with another group wandering the sidewalk and luckily one of their friends is inside and opens the secure gate, so we all can pour in like chumps. i tell the maitre d' that we're here for an 11am reservation and not only does she tell me that there's not a reservation under our name, but we can't dine here unless we have a reservation. how ironic that i just came back from a city with open arms, and here we are trying to eat brunch at some secret spot with no open doors and that requires reservations!

lo and behold, we're in luck as there's a last minute cancellation, so we're finally shepherded inside to an available table. the kitchen looks like something out of somebody's home, but there's a homely yet industrial feel that emits a casual, funky vibe. the menu is limited to four ever-changing printed entrees and two specials on the board, in addition to a couple of appetizers and freshly made drinks.

inside at last
dining area
blue cornmeal waffle BLT

as a group, we opt for the cheesy grits - and by cheese i mean brie - which are served with cherries and apples. it sounds like a strange concoction, but the flavors actually sing and it's a great starter. i grab literally the last blue cornmeal waffle BLT special - the waffle serving as the bread - and it's fantastic. heidi and olivia go for the trout and eggs, while caroline smartly chooses the homemade corned beef hash, which is even better than the BLT.

kudos to KTCHN 105 for putting out fresh, inventive and delicious food!

1250 long beach ave.
los angeles, CA 90021

Friday, March 2, 2012

new orleans - city park

after consuming what amounted to like 3 pounds of food at li'l dizzy's, we continue our trek up esplanade in order to somewhat walk off our lunch. we pass by st. louis cemetery no. 3 and take a bridge crossing over bayou st. john, where we arrive at the beautiful and serene city park. at 1,300 acres, it's the 6th largest urban public park in the US and actually 50% bigger than NYC's central park.

parkour out front
POV from museum of art
dueling structures
mirrored pond

home to a wide array of attractions and activities for the young and old, we visit the sculpture garden first, where we're confronted by a number of creative and unique pieces of art. here are just a few:

from there, we make our way to the conservatory of the two sisters, where an abundance of color brighten up the otherwise overcast day:

conservatory front
under the dome
flower garden
outdoor tent
conservatory rear
possibly my finest photo

in the rear of the park, we locate the miniscule japanese garden and the train garden, a magnificent recreation of the city of new orleans with trains and streetcars making their way thru.

seeing as it's 3:30pm, we start to wind our way back to the front of the park, as we have to make it back to our b&b by 5:45pm for our taxi ride to the airport. a few more shots to round out city park:

exiting the park, we make one last stop at parkway bakery & tavern to grab a couple of po-boys for the plane ride home - grilled catfish for heidi and fried shrimp for me. fully dressed, of course:

and with that, our short but great adventure to new orleans comes to an end. with the big easy still fresh in my mind, the one thing that keeps coming back to me is the sense of community and civic pride inherent in all of the locals. hurricane katrina did nothing but harden their steely resolve, so i'm thrilled and proud - as an american - to finally visit this wonderful world and see first-hand why people say there's no other city like it...