Glancing at the Garden of the Gods

Colorado Springs is a peaceful and serene place, and while I nearly died on the Manitou Incline (Post here), I was blown away by the beauty of the Garden of the Gods. This natural rock formation evokes a type of Jurassic World meets Cars Lands (from Disneyland); It’s really a sight to see and these photos don’t do the attraction justice.   Visitors can choose to hike, drive, horseback ride, or bike around the mountain to admire the landscape. I came here twice during my Colorado trip and got to see it from various vantage points – up high and right at the base. Spanning a 1,367 acres the size alone would warrant a name worthy of the Gods – yet it was originally called the Red Rock Corral. The name was changed in 1859 from a group of surveyors who thought that was was a place fit for the Gods and since then the name stuck!

You honestly feel like you’re in another world, and even though I’m not really an outdoor girl, I can certainly appreciate the natural wonders!

How would you enjoy this park? Driving? Hiking? Horseback riding?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center 
1805 N. 30th Street in Colorado Springs

Chowing Down on Authentic German Cuisine in Colorado Springs, CA

Colorado is known for it’s picture perfect scenery, but when its came to food, I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what to expect.  It was my first time visiting this state, so when my coworkers (who were based out in Colorado) made reservations to their favorite German restaurant I figured I’d be in for a treat! And right I was! Upon entering I noticed several awards and accolades and crossed my fingers that Edelweiss Restaurant would be all that and more.

Live Entertainment

Our party of 20 entered the restaurant and it was truly decked out in an old world fashion. It seemed as if we were were transported to a German square and I had major Pinocchio vibes. There were many wooden furnishings and while the restaurant was spacious it had a cozy warm feel to it. We were seated quite promptly in a long table and menu had many traditional offerings. A singer came by and serenaded to use with his accordion, as we were deciding on what to order.

Rahmschnitzel ($20.50)

After thoughtful consideration I ordered the Rahmschnitzel, a breaded boneless pork cutlet sautéed and topped with a mushroom cream sauce, house spatzle, and fresh vegetables, as it came highly recommend. Boy! let me tell you this is definitely not diet food, but considering I almost died on the Manitou Incline (Post here) I felt this dinner was worthy of the calories.I essentially polished off the plate and looking at my coworkers entrees it seemed that everyone enjoyed their meal as well.

Do you have a go-to entree when you eat German food? Schnitzel? Bratwurst? Something else?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

A Dozen Delicious Tamales Demolished From The Tamale Lady in Chicago, IL

I live in Southern California so I have very high expectations of Mexican food so when I learned that Chicago has a thriving tamale scene I had to see it for myself. After extensive research many reviewers gave high marks to “The Tamale Lady” in Pilsen and raved about her hand-made pockets of joy especially the ones with spicy green sauce. A few even stated that there would be long lines bright and early in the morning and that they were worth the wait.    

Green Chicken (Spicy) and Red Pork (Mild) Tamales

The weather forecasted rain, but since I saw photos of her standing in the snow during the winter months I had no doubt she’d sell her goods in case it poured cats and dogs – and I was right! There was no line at 9am (probably because of the rain and humidity) and she had everything available. I decided to grab a dozen of the tamales with green chicken (spicy) and a half dozen with red pork (mild) to bring back home for my family and friends to enjoy a piece of Chicago. But before packing them up, I took it upon myself to be a guinea pig and taste test one of the red ones. Oh-Em-Gee, it was delicious!! The corn to meat ratio was perfect and the flavor brought everything together cohesively.

Tamale Cart

I recently went to a “must eat” tamale shop in LA recently, and I would rather have the tamales from THIS lady. For $15 a dozen or $1.25 for a single, I would definitely come back and buy more!

Between the two tamales – if you could only have one which would you pick? Red Pork (mild) or Green Chicken (spicy)?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

The Tamale Lady
21ST Pl, Chicago, IL 60608

Hours
Sun – Sat: 7am until they sell out

Touring President James Garfield Memorial in Cleveland, OH

As I was researching things to do I came across Lakeview Cemetery as a popular attraction. I thought it was an unusual destination especially since Cleveland is known for the lively Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but many reviews commented on the spectacular architecture and stainless glass windows so I decided to make a it a pitstop on my Midwest Roadtrip.

James Garfield Memorial Photos

My friend and I drove into the cemetery and headed towards Section 18. While the cemetery was vast and had many elaborate tombstones spread across the plot of land, we found the memorial site fairly easily as it was the tallest building there. There were three floors and two narrow spiral staircases for patrons to climb. The artwork inside and outside were very ornate and because it was a sunny day we were able to see the vibrant colors shine through. My friend and I paid also our respects to the president in the crypt.

James Garfield was our 20th President; however his term was short lived as he was assassinated 6 months into his term. Nevertheless, he was an important figure in history as he was one of the first sitting members of Congress to be elected to the presidency. The exhibition is a great place to visit as it’s both educational and free!

Have you visited Cleveland? What’s a cool attraction you’ve seen?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

President James Garfield Memorial – Lake View Cemetery 
12316 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 421-2665

Hours: Garfield Memorial is undergoing a restoration process and will be CLOSED to the public from July 10 through at least July 24.

Apr 1 – Nov 199:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Open daily.

Trying one of Granada Hill’s Best Kept Secret

It’s not often that I travel to this part of Los Angeles, but when my friend bragged about this place in great detail I decided to see what it was all about. On Yelp FurnSaj Bakery and Restaurant is one of a few restaurants with a perfect 5 star rating and with over 700 reviews I figure it was certainly worth a trip to see for myself.

Lamb Gyro Plate ($12.99)

The restaurant is situated in a strip mall and while on the outside it looks like any typical shop this casual bakery has a great selection of Lebanese food for all to enjoy. My friend and I shared a lamb gyro plate ($12.99), which included succulent slices of lamb, two sides and saj bread. we could barely finish half and I ordered another cheese bread with honey ($3.99) because I was curious to test it out. There was way too much food, but everything was prepared on the spot so it was all delicious!

Cheese Labneh Honey ($3.99?)

For less than $20 and two people can enjoy an affordable and tasty meal with ample leftovers. I can’t wait to come back and try some of the other labneh combinations.

 

FurnSaj Bakery and Restaurant

11146 Balboa Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 91344

 

Have you tried Lebanese food? What’s your favorite item?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Venturing Beyond LAX and Trying Homemade Vegan Food in Inglewood, CA

I recently came back from a work trip to Michigan and while the food scene consisted of  lots of hearty American cuisine, I came back to California wanting something more light and natural. I found this Ethiopian place near LAX called Emma Habesha Restaurant and I was eager to try a beautiful platter of food filled with herbs and spices. On the outside the restaurant blends in with the building surrounding it and my friend and I actually drove past it (and it’s pretty easy to miss); however, once you enter the building you’ll realize that you’ve stepped into an African oasis.

Decor near the front

The interior of the restaurant had bright colors and while cozy and warm, the intimate setting was great for friends to chow down. The menu consisted of nine main entrees all served with injera – a sourdough spongy flat bread. After thoughtful consideration and seeing another patron enjoy a colorful vegan platter my friend and I were intrigued and decided to order that in addition to a lamb stew that was recommended by the waitress. Neither of us are vegan, but we were excited to eat with our hands and sample many different lentil, beans and vegetable flavor profiles.

Combined entrees

We knew the entrees were made fresh and enjoyed conversing with one another as we waited for our healthy meal. Since it was our first time I think they combined the two into one large platter. The Vegan Agelgil Fitfit (vegeterian plate $12) and Ye Beg Alicha (Lamb stew $13) were both wonderful, though the vegetables were definitely the stars! If you’re looking to incorporate more greens and non-red meat items into your diet the price-point is very reasonable and the flavors are incredible here.

After a long flight, what kind of food do you crave?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Wandering through the Piñata District and Grubbin’ on Authentic Cheap Street Food

Earlier this month my friends and I tried out the Alita Experience, a pop-up escape room in Los Angeles (see that adventure here!) . However, we arrived at downtown LA a tad earlier than our scheduled reservation and decided to explore the area a bit. As we drove through Olympic and Central we saw what looked like a vibrant and festive street fair. Turns out we were in the Pinata District and even on a Sunday it was poppin!

Pinatas for sale!

We found free street parking and made our way through the district. There were many shops selling various party favors including candy, decor, and of course pinatas! There were also other miscellaneous vendors selling t-shirts and electronics, yet we were most interested in the food carts/stalls!

Tacos and Arepes

There were many stands selling traditional street food and everything smelled soooo amazing. Grandmas were hand-making fresh tortillas, sons and daughters were carving and/or cooking meats and many things were made to order. After browsing though a number of the carts/stalls we decided to dine-in!

Different Stands in the Pinata District

I was most interested in the bean and cheese arepe as I saw the woman mold and create each one. That stand also had a self-serve condiment bar with super fresh guacamole with the pits still in the mortar and pestle bowl and a ton of other toppings to customize your base. Man… with the melted cheese, freshly fried dough and textures of all the toppings it was a perfect meal and for a bargain. I think I spent like $3 and because it was the end of the day and they were getting ready to shut down the owner also threw in a free drink (Many stands were closing shop around 5:00pm)! I got the horchata while my friends got lemonade with chia seeds. Two thumbs up and I will definitely be back for both the food and party supplies!

When a piñata pops what kind of candy do you rush to grab? Krackle and Crunch are my go tos!

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

How much is that loaf in the window? Trying the Inland Empires Best Banana Bread

I love finding hidden gems whenever I travel and after some extensive research I found this business that sells homemade biscotti and award winning banana bread! Recognized as a neighborhood favorite Linda, The Biscotti Lady, is a retired healthcare provider turned entrepreneur with some serious baking skills.

Wall Motivation

On my visit I made sure to go bright and early at 8am to see the assortment. There were muffins, biscottis, loafs of banana bread with and without walnuts (also chocolate chip option available), and ample samples of all her products for guests to try. I really loved the banana bread and bought 3 loafs ($5 a piece) as they were super moist and had that homemade (not mass produced) feel. While the products are certainly worth a visit, I especially love Linda’s business approach. She bakes and opens shop part-time to keep the spirit of her hobby alive and doesn’t allow the business to consume and blind her from all the other things she enjoys like traveling.

Banana Bread Options

If you’re interested to see one of Inland Empires best kept secret you can follow her on The Biscotti Lady’s Facebook to see her schedule. For 2019 Linda informed me that she’ll opens at least once a month on Saturday morning and that she’s open for business TOMORROW (2/2) from 8am – 2pm (PST) or while supplies last. Pick up a loaf or two from 1102 N Euclid Ave, Ontario, CA 91762) If you’re looking to bring home a winner for Superbowl Sunday I think the honey jalapeno cheddar cheese cornbread muffins would be a hit!

What are you eating/bringing this Sunday for the Supperbowl?

XOXO,

 

Rockstar

 

 

Indulging in a truly Sublime treat in Atlanta, GA

If I had a choice between sweet and savory, I would always opt for the later. However Sublime Doughnut was a recipient of the Bake Magazine’s America’s Best Bakery of 2012 and earned multiple endorsements from Food Network and The Cooking Channel, so naturally I had to see for myself if I do or do-nut agree with the critics.  :p

Box of doughnuts!

There are two locations in Georgia and one in Thailand, so I went to the original brick and mortar store near Georgia Tech (535 10th St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318). On the outside it looked like any other donut shop in a strip mall; however, one inside you can’t help but feel kawaii and in need of something sweet.

Selection!

After looking at the selection my friend I decided to share three: Chocolate Banana Fritter, Orange Creamsicle, and Fresh Strawberry n Cream. All three were really airy and light, unlike many doughnut shops and before I knew it the box was empty. Although I do think I have a slight preference towards chocolate banana fritter – yum!

Do you have a sweet tooth? Where do you go to curb your sweet craving?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Tasting flavors from around the World at the Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta, GA

No visit to Atlanta would be complete without a trip to the World of Coca-Cola museum and as a first time visitor to the great peach state I made sure to pay them a visit. It’s for all intensive purposes the state drink and as an educator I’m always interested to learn about the origin of something so iconic.

Coca Cola decor and photo opts

Shortly after purchasing the tickets, my friend and I were greeted in the lobby then escorted to a theater highlighting Coke’s campaign for making memories. The short clip had me teary-eyed at the end and we were released to explore the various rooms. There were many digital and interactive experiences as well as ample photo opportunities. One of the rooms also had the original formula tucked behind a highly protected vault.While I don’t regularly drink carbonated beverages in general one of the highlights of the trip was sampling coke products from around the world. They divided the drink areas by continents and my favorites were definitely the drinks in Asia and Latin America, as they leaned more fruity. The Beverly in Italy certainly left an impression on me and I know why the Coke employee was so smug when recommending  this “popular” drink.  Regardless if you drink coke products or not, the museum is pretty fascinating and I admire the entrepreneurial spirit behind coke brand.

Have you tried coke products abroad? What’s your favorite?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar