About Lo

I'm 20. I'm ambitious, and I am completely in love with fashion. I love beautiful words and words written beautifully (whether in literature or in their style of typography). I crave great food, great wine, and great coffee. I want to see the world, and I sing a lot. But that's just the beginning

Carne Asa-duh

It should come no surprise to anyone that last night (without hesitation) I traveled nearly 20 miles in search of (what I hoped would be) The Greatest Carne Asada at a place I heard about through the grapevine (on Seattle Eater).

Admittedly I spent most of the drive frantically trying to capture a VERY elusive Eevie (Pokemon Go has  made it into this blog post and I’m so sorry about it (no I’m not)), but when we parallel parked next to a mostly abandoned strip mall (after getting lost because we drove past it first) I knew we were EXACTLY where we needed to be.

Hot Tip for finding hole-in-the-wall restaurants: You’re more likely to find an actual hole in the wall than to locate the restaurant on your first try.

The parking lot was PACKED. We recognized the logo painted on the window from their website as we eagerly pushed the door to go inside. Upon walking into the small, one room restaurant we discovered that every table was full. The air smelled like smoke (from a grill, not an ashtray) and meats and I immediately began to salivate. After waiting for a few minutes (and then accidentally sitting down at the wrong table, revealing our newbie status) we finally settled into a table against the back wall.

From the way we were looking at the menus set in front of us, you’d think we were reading letters informing us that we’d won the PowerBall (as if we’d found the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin but, you know,  instead of gold it would be filled entirely with mesquite, grilled meats). FINALLY After much debate we decided on a Rib Eye steak and an order of ribeye tacos, squeezed the limes into our Negra Modelos and awaited our prizes.

While we waited on our meals I admired the plates of everyone else around us: there were giant platters of perfectly cooked meats, papas locas (crazy potatoes!) LOADED with toppings, ramekins of fresh radishes and homemade salsas, and a very tempting bread pudding that was calling. my. NAME. Before I knew it our dishes had been set down in front of us and suddenly it was very clear that there would not be room for dessert on this night.

Let me keep it short and sweet: I’ve had a lot of Carne Asada in my life, and this was the best one so far. The ribeye in the tacos was high quality (USDA Prime in fact!), perfectly cooked (medium rare (THE ONLY CHOICE)), and was complimented best by the house made salsa (served in a bowl on the side), a squeeze of lime,  and a sprinkling of onions, cilantro and radishes. The steak? Served on a pickled cactus leaf and can be described as nothing short of Fit For the Gods. Does that feel too enthusiastic? I’m not worried about it.

My final verdict: Definitely worth the drive to Kent (I’d drive it 10 times in a row just for one more taco). Better news? They are opening in Ballard SOON. They’ve been keeping their Facebook page updated with progress! Check it out.

Oh, and next time? I’m getting the damn bread pudding.

Seattle’s Best Mexican Restaurants – Seattle Eater

Asadero Sinaloa coming to Ballard

Asadero Sinaloa – Facebook

Current Favorites: Food Podcasts

I feel like my ~life mantra~ for my 25th year could be many things, but one possibility is definitely, “so many podcasts, so little time”.  I’m the person who hears about an interesting podcast and recklessly subscribes. This is good because I’m constantly discovering new, awesome podcasts to consume. This is bad because I always have the little red numbers on my iPhone home screen, reminding me of all the OTHER podcasts that I’m currently neglecting. I’m like a hoarder.

(For example, RIGHT NOW IT SAYS 35)

Recently I’ve been exploring podcasts of more tasty nature, and they have been consuming much of my attention span. From learning about the culture, history, and science of food to getting excited about a new restaurant or ingredient to being inspired to try something exotic…they always leave me feeling excited to hear more.

I know I’m not the only one. It’s 2016 and we all like podcasts at this point, right? So take my advice and check out some of my favorites. You won’t regret it. (You will, however, be hungry).

gastropod

 

Gastropod – https://gastropod.com/

Listen if you love: Food, science, history, Irish accents

Where to start: https://gastropod.com/everything-old-brew-again/

 

spilledmilk

 

Spilled Milk – http://www.spilledmilkpodcast.com/

Listen if you love:  Comedy, eating, stories, and cooking tips peppered with inappropriate jokes.

Where to start:  http://www.spilledmilkpodcast.com/2016/03/24/episode-220-frozen-pizza/

splendid

 

The Splendid Table – http://www.splendidtable.org/

Listen if you love: Current events surrounding food, food trends, food facts,  history, stories, recipes, etc

Where to start: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/american-public-media/the-splendid-table/e/584-field-goals-44920137

GravyPodcast-small

 

Gravy – https://www.southernfoodways.org/gravy-format/gravy-podcast/

Listen if you love: Southern food, storytelling, and history (specifically a history of the American south).

Where to start: https://www.southernfoodways.org/gravy/mexican-ish-how-arkansas-came-to-love-cheese-dip-gravy-ep-32/

eatthis

 

Eat This Podcasthttp://www.eatthispodcast.com/

Listen if you love: food, travel, food news, kitchen tips

Where to start: http://www.eatthispodcast.com/it-is-ok-to-eat-quinoa/

 

Also try: KCRW’s Good Food, Burnt Toast, and Radio Cherry Bombe

Each of these podcasts puts a different spin on being a “food podcast”,  and if you’re looking for something different to listen to I’d definitely recommend giving them a listen, or taking a leap of faith and doing a blind subscribe. Many of them even come with a newsletter and all are available in your local app store or podcast app.

 

 

X Marks the Spot | Trove, Seattle

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Trove | Seattle

The first time I saw the big, red X was on the day that my office moved from Fremont to Capitol Hill. It hung proudly on a Pike Street facing wall next to several giant, almost floor-to-ceiling windows. The sun poured inside and I could see a sleek, white counter facing an open kitchen, something that looked like an ice cream truck in the corner and a menu boasting various dishes whose ingredients triggered my curiosity. “Trove?”I read out loud from the sign. What was this place?

After a few weeks of being in our new digs, rumblings about the restaurant could be heard in my office. “There’s Korean BBQ in the back,” someone said excitedly. “AND they sell parfaits!” I didn’t know what Korean BBQ was yet, but I did know that I had to go.


What you need to know
Trove is broken down into three* main parts:

  1. The Counter
    Asian-fusion will never have tasted so good as when you watch it being cooked over a giant flame. The air is thick with aromas that hold promises of imminent umami-bombs, and the menu items change regularly. Believe me when I say that you’re going to want to try the sauces that you’re offered by the chef.

    trove

    Trove | Noodle Bar


  2. The BBQ
    While this isn’t your hole-in-the-wall Korean BBQ joint, it sure does make a strong case for itself. The quality of the meats at Trove is evident from the get-go, and the chefs are happy to cook them for you if you’re feeling a little timid about your tong technique. I’d recommend trying a variety of things from different areas of the menu. Our server (who was fantastic, BTW) was happy to help us in our selection of items, and gave us an honest opinion about how much food would be the right amount of food. He was dead on.

    BBQ

    Trove | Korean BBQ

  1. The Parfaits I have had the parfaits at Trove more than I have had anything else. I will say this: if you don’t have a sweet tooth, these might not be for you. If this is the case please go inside and get yourself a sake. However if you fall into the Sweet Tooth category I’d recommend following your heart and trying as many as you can while the flavors last. They change them every season and I’ve hardly ever been unimpressed. Bonus: If you bring back the branded glass jar that they serve your parfait in you can get a dollar off your next one! (As if I needed more motivation to go back…)

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    Trove | Parfait


Still need convincing?

Here’s 10 Reasons You Should Go to Trove This Summer

1. Who doesn’t like to grill on the dinner table? It’s like the adult-friendly version of playing with your food

2. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S WAGYU TRI-TIPS. Honestly, they marbeled to perfection

3. The parfaits alone give you at least ~6 reasons to stop by. I tried the cookies and cream with homemade Oreo last weekend, and I had a taste of the Tea Lime Pie (with Matcha custard). Both were divine and I NEED to go back from the peanut butter cup…and the other Matcha one.

4. NOOOODLES. While the noodle bar’s menu changes pretty frequently, I’ve always enjoyed a savory, flavorful, and satisfying meal there.

5. AGAIN WITH THE PEA VINES. They had smoked cashews on them and a hint of a vinegar taste. A perfect side dish to our meat selection (My other favorites so far this season were at Ma’Ono)

6. THERE IS A  ALSO BAR. There’s an  international beer list, a great sake/shochu selection, unique cocktails (of which I want to try MANY), and six beer taps pouring cold, local beer. Happy hour from 4-6!

7. Because there’s not only meat to love, but also veggies dishes. The asparagus and mushroom entree was SO flavorful. Please eat as much of the sauce as possible.

8. Impress your date (or your crew) with a beautiful Asian fusion restaurant on capitol hill

9. Because a Netflix binge of 90’s movies is 300 times better with to-go noodles from their counter (pro tip: favorites right now are the rice cake/curry/kale, the Pad thai/ chipotle/pork belly/yu choy/chili peanuts, and the kimchi pork dumplings)

10. Because, truly, you’ve got to see what all the fuss is about:

Other restaurants in the Trove family include Revel and Joule. I could go on and on about both of them, but I’ll save that for another day.


Please feel free to send any hot tips my way, whether it be a hole-in-the-wall or a trendy place that lives up to the hype (in Seattle, OR ANYWHERE ELSE). Key items I look for on menus often include: Shrimp and Grits, Manhattans, Burgers with Creative Toppings, and Complimentary Baskets of Warm, Salted Tortilla Chips.

Follow me on instagram or snapchat to keep up with my never ending snack journey in real time!

instagram: @lacunningham  —  snapchat: lacunningha

Seattle Eats | Spring 2016

I’ve heard a million times that you should “put your money where your mouth is.” So, I do. I eat.

I spend a lot of my free time keeping up to date on Seattle’s restaurant openings and closings, which chef is doing what, what new food trend is on the horizon (still not sure WHAT in the hell Poke’ is, but I’ll be finding out soon). I have an ever-growing list of restaurants that I religiously meal-plan my weekends (and happy hours) around. If you’re curious, there are currently around 200 items on it.

“But, what can I do with all of this knowledge,” I said to myself in the shower three months ago. And then it hit me.

BAM. Bingo. Make like a 20-something in 2016 and blog about it. So without further adieu, let’s get this party started.

5 cool places I’ve been this spring

1. Stateside – Brunch
I’ve enjoyed an abundance of cocktails served in coconuts at Stateside, but until last weekend I had never had their brunch. Turns out, Stateside’s brunch selections are some of the most interesting, exciting, and delicious that I’ve tried in Seattle.

We ordered:

  • Vietnamese Iced Coffee and Crispy Sticky Rice Finger Sandwiches to start (the filling in the sandwiches is a FLAVORFUL chili/cumin pork that will change your life. There is also a tofu option.)
  • Hong Kong Style Charcoal Waffle (You CAN choose not to top it with coconut ice cream. This is the wrong choice.)
  • Open Faced Golden Brown Omelette (I chose the shrimp/chili/lemongrass/crab paste omelette per the server’s recommendation and I’m SO happy I did.)

2. Meet the Moon – Lunch/Dinner
Meet the Moon has really everything I require for optimal Spring/Summer dining: nearby waterfront views, sunshine and fresh air steaming in through the open garage doors, a well written and diverse cocktail list that makes me feel immediately more thirsty after glancing at it, and finally TASTY. BURGERS. Meet the Moon is a fairly new addition to Seattle and is located in Leschi (my new favorite Seattle neighborhood). I’ll definitely be going back.

Check out if you’re a fan of:

3. Dino’s Tomato Pie – Pizza
If you know me at all, then you know I am always on the hunt for Seattle’s best slices. While there are a lot of contenders for my Top 3, Dino’s slid right to the top with little-to-no convincing at all. From the first time I walked past it’s new, aromatic, perfectly decorated space on Capitol Hill I knew I was in love. They’ve got brick oven pizzas (pro tip: the square and circle pies are vastly different, so try both), Negronis on tap and they JUST started offering delivery. GET. THERE.

If what I’ve said about Dino’s doesn’t sell you immediately, then the website sure will

4. Ma’ono – Asian Fusion
Do’s and Don’ts of going to Ma’Ono

  • DO: Go on a week night. A reservation can’t hurt, but isn’t required. (But then again there is weekend brunch…)
  • DON’T: Skip the fried chicken (unless you dont eat meat, but there are plenty of A+ veggie options, such as the PEA VINES)
  • DO: Skip the Mac’N’Kimcheese. It’s flavor didn’t live up to my expectations, and there are many other side dishes/apps that hold more promise.
  • DON’T: Ignore the Whiskey List. It’s extensive and impressive. (Or the dessert list, for that matter)
  • DO: Make the drive to West Seattle. It’s MORE than worth it.

5. Marjorie – Dinner / Date
I can say, with conviction, that Marjorie was one of the best Seattle Restaurant experiences I’ve had since moving there. The space is charming, the food is delicious and the ambiance is warm, friendly and inviting. I went with my boyfriend and we tried something from every course listed in the menu. Based on the nature of this review, it should come as no surprise that it was all delicious. I’m not even going to tell you what we got, because I think it’s all worth trying. (We’ll BOTH be upset if you don’t start with the Plantain Chips, though)

5 cool places map-01


Please feel free to send any hot tips my way, whether it be a hole-in-the-wall or a trendy place that lives up to the hype (in Seattle, OR ANYWHERE ELSE). Key items I look for on menus often include: cheddar biscuits, buttermilk biscuits, southern biscuits, and bourbon. (Just kidding).

Follow me on instagram or snapchat to keep up with my never ending snack journey in real time!

instagram: @lacunningham  —  snapchat: lacunningha

 

Golden // May Playlist

On Saturday afternoon I made a visit to the local beach with my boyfriend. We spotted a large, driftwood log overlooking the Puget Sound and made it our perch while we watched the waves bob against the backdrop of the Olympic mountains. The air was rich with the ocean’s salty aroma, and the sunlight couldn’t have been more golden. It felt like the early onset of summer—a new season. Not just for Seattle, but for me too. I feel like I’m entering a new phase of my life and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.  A phase of exploring new interests, honing new skills and meeting new people. I’m not sure what it will bring yet, but—like a summer sunset—I’m eager to watch it unfold.

 

A Note on Trip Planning

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Voluntary or not, planning a trip starts the moment that you let your wanderlust take over for even a second. You begin to imagine the types of places you want to go, the things you’ll do, the experiences you’ll have, what you’ll eat. You begin to plot out the sites that you couldn’t live without missing, and how your very Instagrammable AirBNB would sit in the perfect spot. Suddenly you start to notice hints of your dream destination everywhere; it invades your thoughts, your dreams, and your conversations. Until one day everything changes…because after months of dreaming and hoping you’ve FINALLY gotten your ticket.

At least, that’s how it went for me. Two years ago Tokyo was barely on my radar. It was just a city that I saw in photos and on TV shows. It was the birthplace of a style we’d learned about in Intro to Fashion called Harajuku; it was the setting of many magical Miyazaki films that I’d watched with wide eyes. Until I moved to the West Coast, traveling to Asia didn’t even seem like a moderate reality. You see, living in the Southeast meant that Europe was a convenient travel destination—it felt accessible, airline tickets were more reasonable, the time difference was manageable. Even closer than that was Mexico, but Asia? That shit felt far. Too far.

A couple of months after I moved to Seattle two of my coworkers went to Japan for a month. They returned with stories that sounded made up, fantastical souvenirs, and many tasty candies. It was then that I began to feel thirsty for Asia. I started to see bits and pieces of Japanese culture everywhere. Slowly (and hungrily) I began to familiarize myself with different kinds of Japanese cuisine in Seattle; I made friends with people who had been there before and were under the “I love Japan” spell that I’d grown accustomed to hearing about. My Netflix queue gradually went from Kimmy Schmidt and Planet Earth to Anthony Bourdain and Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and my Amazon wish list? …I’m sure you can imagine. Exactly a year from my friends’ return I exited the tab where I’d just finished watching Lost in Translation, got on Kayak and booked a flight for six months later.

(Maybe it was the sparkling, panoramic shots of Tokyo at night that tantalized me, or maybe it was ScarJo. The jury’s still out).


Choosing a destination for travel is only the first step in planning your trip. The next step, in my opinion, is identifying why you want to go there. What’s driving you to go to this new place? Is it the historic sites? The culture? The serene beaches? The pancakes? Identifying the reasons you want to go somewhere new will help you shape your itinerary for a supremely custom travel experience. It will be more memorable and enjoyable for you than one that simply covers the bases of that new place (especially if, frankly, you just can’t be bothered to care about some of those bases).

As many of you know, I get more excited about food than I do about most things. The opportunity to try new foods using cooking methods that have been honed for many generations, feeling it’s cultural and historical significance, it’s so life-giving to me. It’s why I’m going to Japan. I may miss some of the statues and the temples, but I certainly won’t miss Chanko Nabe in Ryogoku or “Ramen Street” in Tokyo Station.

Pro tip: An important question to ask yourself is, “When I get back, I will regret if I miss…” what? Answer that question for yourself before you leave so you know that you’re prioritizing all the things you really care about.

Once you’ve determined the WHY of your trip the rest of the planning should come fairly easy. If you’re finding it hard to come up with ideas, do some research. I think travel blogs are a really reliable resource. Take inspiration from some of the adventures the bloggers had, things they ate…but don’t be afraid to  follow their lead and seek out some of your own travel secrets. Also, check out Youtube for video travel diaries and insider information.

One of my favorite travel blogs, Cup of Couple,  just went to Japan, check out a video from their trip below:

IMPORTANT: As much as I preach about curating my own travel experience, I have a pile of books in my room that I’ve been pouring over for the last few months. Not only do they offer insight into things to do, but some also include cultural information and maps. V HELPFUL.

Some of my favorite Japan resources:

*Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who know a lot about what you’re interested in (Authors, Restaurant Owners, Etc). They can often offer up the most unique, fearless travel advice.


Traveling to a new place doesn’t have to be a checklist of obligations and tourist traps.  Make your trip memorable by making it your own, and even making it up a little as you go. A little spontaneity never hurt anyone—only made things more exciting.

One week left until take off!

Sayonara

(I’ve been practicing)

Tokyo Bound // Notes on solo travel

tokyoheaderSMWith each passing year of my life I’ve started to push the margins of my independence a little further. The first big push being when I uprooted myself from everything I knew at 23 and relocated across the country to Seattle. Alone. I knew one person, but he also happened to be the person whose apartment I’d be subletting while he studied in Germany (Hey, Finis!).

To familiarize myself with my new city, I began using Saturdays as an opportunity to explore new neighborhoods. I’d start with a vague idea of what area I’d like to see next, a plan of how to get there on the bus, and maybe one or two spots that I’d read about beforehand that struck my interest. Spoiler alert: more often than not, these places revolved around extravagant looking, waffle-heavy brunch menus and places promising pour-overs made with locally roasted, single-origin coffee. Judge me.

I quickly became comfortable navigating to and around the different areas — always expecting to get semi-lost at least once, and often finding a thrill in it. Meals alone felt like a spiritual time when I could bury my face in a dish that was lifting my spirits to the moon, and could even let a tear roll down my face if it was warranted. I began to stop caring about what people thought about “the girl who talked WAY too much to the barista and is now sipping a cold brew alone” and began caring more about the experience in Seattle that I was creating for myself. I’m a year and a half in now, and while I do have friends that I frequently brunch with, I still bask in the moments when I have a two-top for one and a whole day of discoveries ahead of me.

Some people find it thrilling to shop on Black Friday, or to try things like the KFC double down. I find it thrilling to redefine my comfort zone, so the next natural step in that process to me seems obvious: it’s time for solo travel. While my dad’s hesitations to this idea are rooted (deep) in the world of Liam Neeson’s, “TAKEN”, my expectations are completely wrapped up in the thought of waking up when I please in a city that is completely foreign to anything I’ve ever known with an itinerary that can be anything I want it to be.

The destination: Japan. For two weeks I’ll be chassé-ing around Tokyo — and a few other cities in on the island — on my time. While the majority of people I know who have been there before are encouraging me to fill my schedule to the brim with this attraction and the other, I plan on shaping my days around what I want to eat next and if I feel like spending 3 hours in a park spinning under the trees that are exploding with cherry blossoms. I want to use this trip as an opportunity to gain some insight and perspective on what I want right now in my life. Then again, I also want to use this trip as an opportunity to go to Disney World.

I want to leave Japan with an experience that I have curated, and not one that was dictated to me by travel guides and touristy checklists. I want to explore Tokyo the same way I explored Seattle — spending time in both the popular parts of town, and in the quiet neighborhoods that aren’t always explored by outsiders. I want to find the intimidatingly authentic noodle shops and the picturesque, traditional homes with manicured gardens, as well as pay visits to the famous museums and renowned works of architecture. I want to feel like I saw a side of Japan that I wouldn’t have seen without my brand of curiosity.

I know the idea of solo travel is daunting for some people, and to some it’s even downright terrifying. For me? It’s the next step into becoming the person I want to be.*

*That “person” is also one-step closer to becoming Anthony Bourdain’s successor than I am at this moment.

I’ll be writing some posts on trip planning and preparation in the days leading up to my departure. My plane takes off on March 30, and from that point on — for the next two weeks — you can expect photos and ramen-centric updates to flood my feed.

Looking forward to sharing this experience!

header photo by Alyssa Mcelheny

 

Saturday

saturday

Saturday mornings are great, but there is a particular kind of Saturday morning that stands above all the rest for me.

That kind of Saturday begins by waking up gradually and not to the dreaded, repetitive tones of your cell phone’s alarm clock app. Lazily you toss and turn, take your morning dose of social media, and once you feel like your blankets have agreed to set you free you casually make your way to the kitchen.

Within mere minutes the aromas of hot, fresh coffee and over-medium eggs have replaced the morning’s breath (much different than morning breath). It’s quiet, other than your playlist, and you’re able to live slowly. You plan your day — or not — and you’re able to peacefully breathe for a minute, free from the stress off the past week’s responsibilities.

That’s the kind of Saturday morning I’ve had so far and I’m probably enjoying it too much. I have little to no plans of changing out of this baggy sweater any time soon, and there’s probably a second french press in my future (shout out to Caffe Vita for beans that are giving me life).

These are the jams that are on my Saturday playlist today. What kind of Saturday is revitalizing to you?

En route to: Squamish Valley Music Festival

SVMF

photo courtesy of Squamish Valley Music Festival

So stoked to be heading out to Squamish Valley Music Festival tonight! Not only is there great music, but we’re staying inVancouver—one of my favorite cities—and I’ll be taking on the weekend with my best friend.

Follow along on instagram @lacunningham and on snapchat @lacunningha

Here’s a playlist of some of the acts I’m most excited to see! Let’s goooooo