Sunday, December 4, 2011

TAKE A BAO Studio City

I know I've mentioned it a number of times over the last few months (sorry to those who are tired of hearing it) BUT today the reality has finally set in. Be it the baby furniture that's arrived and masterfully assembled by my husband, or the fact that my belly has popped enough causing me to waddle a bit. Somehow the fact that we are having a 3rd suddenly seems all to real. We even took a trip to the baby store today and purchased a stroller and an infant car seat. Now that's reality!

So all this "reality and acceptance" that in less then 9 weeks, we'll be starting all over with the sleepless nights, feeding etc. (my kids are 7 and 5 after all so it does feel like starting from scratch) is pushing Doran and I to try and spend as many alone moments as we can. Even if it means shopping for baby strollers and bedding and grabbing a quick lunch. Which is exactly what we did today while my mom hung out with Ben and Lia.

Since we were short on time, we quickly did the baby store run, purchased a few things and decided to try this new local joint for a quick lunch bite. Having opened just about a month ago smack on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, TAKE A BAO makes its presence known with its architecturally sleek exterior. Nestled between local sushi joints and a number of other trendy eateries, it is not to be missed. The comfortably modern interior with attention to every detail, down to the filtered water station courtesy of a hip looking sink complete with plenty of glasses to fill adds to the perfect casual dining experience. Its also a nice touch considering you may need to cool your palate often if you're anything like us and add spicy sauce to everything you order.

TAKE A BAO, calls their food "A modern take on Asian cuisine, drawing on inspiration from dishes all across Asia". I called their food simply yum! The menu has quite a bit to offer, including eight BAO to choose from, a number of small bites, fresh salads, rice bowls and soups. They even have what looked like a full bar, the counter of which was filled with fresh herbs and citrus fruits to compliment what I am sure are drinks as flavourful as their food! I can't wait to try some of those after the baby comes.
Our BAO's
It seemed only right that for our first visit there we try the BAO's. An Asian inspired steamed bun of sorts, thicker then a pita and served warm, folded over and filled with all sorts of goodies. It ended up being a surprisingly tasty little pocket of flavor, which we both loved! We chose the FRIED CHICKEN & SLAW BAO with crispy chicken breast, tamarind bbq sauce and Asian vegetable slaw and the BANH MI with grilled pork loin, paté, house made pickled vegetables, diced chilies, cilantro, garlic aioli.

The chicken was my favorite, and I had to stop myself from ordering another one as we still had the VEGETARIAN TOM YOM SOUP coming. Wow, this was a colorful, aromatic bowl filled with silken tofu, rice cakes, bamboo shoots, shiitakes, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, water chestnuts and toasted garlic. A little sweet, a little tart and just spicy enough to sooth your soul. I am glad I held off on ordering the extra BAO as the soup really hit the spot.

Vegetarian Tom Yom
I am very excited to go back to this restaurant or even order for pick up. There were a number of drule inducing dishes I eyed with envy from fellow lunch goers seated at communal tables near by. I am guessing that the LEMONGRASS CARAMEL CHICKEN WINGS and the SUMAC STEAK FRIES are a hit, as every other person seemed to be eating them. But more then anything I am excited at the prospect of having a new restaurant that offers plenty of healthy, vegetarian options for my post baby journey of getting my body back! I may be back soon for the wings and the fries, but come February I'll need plenty of flavourful options to get back in shape. Nice to know there will be place like TAKE A BAO where I can turn to the Veggie Tom Yom and not feel deprived!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Faves at Joan's On Third

My friends often ask me why in the world I commute 40 minutes in traffic to see my OBGYN and why not just find a doctor near my house? Am I crazy? How do I find the time between work and my kids? What is the deal? Not to mention the visits get more and more frequent the bigger my belly gets, so why in the world all the driving in notorious LA traffic?

Cheese Counter at Joan's On Third
My answer is simple. Although I do like Dr.Morrison very much and am thrilled to have her guide me through this pregnancy, there is something else that propels me to make the drive. Joan's On Third! Knowing that following every appointment there is an opportunity to stop by this bakery/marketplace/cafe, makes the drive worthwhile. As a matter of fact there has yet to have been a day that I did not stop by Joan's after a routine appointment. And I honestly cannot wait for my doctors visits to get more frequent (they're now tri-weekly and will soon move to bi-weekly) so I get to pick up treats even more often then I already do!

I can never leave Joan's in the Morning without grabbing
their Strawberry Buttermilk Muffin. The top is lightly sprinkled with
sugar that bakes in to the crust making the first few bites sweet and crunchy.
Once you've tackled the top you get to the moist middle, that is
not too sweet and packed with what seems like 20 fresh strawberries per muffin.
The options of incredible baked goods, to die-for sandwiches, gourmet cheeses, freshly baked breads, gazillion fresh salads and soups, are endless at Joan's. Besides, I love the weekday morning peace and quiet (that's when I usually go) of perusing the marketplace, as on weekends it can get pretty insane. Good luck finding a seat after you place your order at one of their counters!
Chocolate Flour less Cheesecake
Tried this with my girlfriends Alla and Patricia a few weeks back
after visiting our friend Sabina at the hospital.
Thanks Sabina for delivering your baby girl at Cedar Sinai, the hospital
is just around the corner from Joan's!
The place is a zoo full of hungry people devouring the home made succulent offerings of Joan herself. A very sweet woman who doesn't seem to be phased by her success what's so ever. She happily brought me a to go box as if she were one of the bus boys and called me a sweetheart when I said I just couldn't bare the thought of not taking the left over peace of the apricot bar to go! I've even seen her cleaning tables like its no biggie. Now that's work ethic! No wonder she's so successful.
Apricot Bar is Buttery Crumbly Goodness I can rarely pass up!
You will never run out of options at Joan's but one thing that is a MUST TRY for everyone should you ever make your way there (if you haven't already) is their SHORT RIB sandwich with melted jack cheese, arugula and sweet red onions on grilled country white bread. The sandwich has even graced the cover of Bon Appetit February 2010 issue, and rightfully so!

Short Rib Sandwich

Where does one even begin to describe this sandwich? For starters it is definitely up there with the Godmother from Bay Cities  and not many sandwiches can do that. Only the ones which take your breath away and make you salivate before, during and after every bite. I would like to leave it at that for now. I don't think its fair to give away every detail of what will happen to you as you bite in to the crunchy, buttery bread, the juicy beyond words meat, the sweet caramelized onions, the tangy jack cheese and spicy arugula. Go to Joan's and experience it for yourself. But PLEASE save room for dessert!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween and Baked Ziti!

Trick Or Treat!
Preparing for our Candy Gathering Outing
I never payed much attention to Halloween and didn't care for dressing up and engaging in any Halloween Related activities in the past. But as many of you know, once you have kids it OVER. This is a Holidays they wait for from the second first pumpkins of the season appear at the market. My kids have been crossing off each day in October on the calendars in their rooms, strategically planning their approach to October 31.

Given Ben and Lia's level of excitement, my husband and I can't help but give in a bit. Doran even bought himself a mask this year to wear while we take them Trick or Treating (sadly he forgot to actually wear it!). As for me, no costume this time, although painting something clever like a basketball or the road sign "Bump" on my growing belly has crossed my mind. I'd do it but walking around after sundown with belly exposed, with October's evening breeze in the air is making me chilly just thinking about it. Maybe next year.

So I think I'll leave the dressing up to the kids. This time Lia will be a Penguin and Ben a Ninja. Oh let me clarify, a Stealth Ninja to be exact, and you better say it that way or he will most certainly correct you, as this is no ordinary Ninja. I am not sure what makes this Ninja different from the rest (not sure Ben does either), BUT it is crucial he is called that and not just Ninja. Maybe he plans on acting in a Stealth like manner as in being covert and highly secretive in his Ninja ways.....spooky.

My little Penguin Ready for School Halloween Parade
As for my little penguin, she chose the costume based solely on cuteness. I think it may have had something to do with my husband (wanting her to try something different then a super hero 3rd year in a row) telling her that the cuter the costume the more candy she will get! Well let me tell you, the cuteness factor was in full force and we didn't encounter ANY other penguins along the trick or treating trail.

At sundown we embarked on our door knocking, candy gathering baked zitti eating adventure. How baked zitti got in to the mix you may ask? Well seeing that every year a friend or a neighbor or two may stop by, I like to whip up a simple, quick one pot dish for us to enjoy. After all we need stamina and a carbohydrate load to keep up with the little guys.

Halloween Baked Ziti
This year I made a ricotta and mozzarella loaded ziti a recipe for which I found a while back on Preparing something hearty is my favorite part of Halloween, and seeing the excitement and joy on my kids faces as they dress up and gather mounds of candy is thrilling as well. This is starting to sound an awful lot as though I may like Halloween after all. I guess you have no choice when you're a parent so why not make the best of it!

Happy Halloween Ya'll

Recipe for Baked Ziti (I found this a while back on


•1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta

•24 ounces ricotta cheese

•1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

•1 egg, beaten

•1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce

•1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the ziti and cook for 10-12 min until al dente (I like mine a touch over al dente-13min) drain and rinse.

3. In a large bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.

4. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Spooned Mixture

Before it goes off in the oven.