Found in L.A.: The best flea & farmers markets

The best thing about Los Angeles flea markets and farmers markets is that they’re open year-round.

What also makes them so damn special is that a lot of the produce you’ll find is locally grown and is therefore often reasonably priced and incredibly delicious. As for the thrifted clothes, furniture and accessories… well, you’ve got a lot of L.A. style to choose from.

This post… well, it only scratches the surface of the flea and farmers markets L.A. has to offer, but I couldn’t wait any longer to share photos from the few I’ve had the chance to check out. I’m a little biased toward Silver Lake, but their twice-weekly farmers market it just a mile up the street from me. The novelty of this, as you can imagine, has not worn off.

Melrose Trading Post Melrose Trading Post Melrose Trading Post Silver Lake farmers market Silver Lake farmers market

The Silver Lake Farmers Market is the epitome of a neighborhood market done right. Most of the vendors are regulars, but many of them also switch out a lot, so there’s always something new to check out. I love this spot because you can buy fresh fruit, flowers and vintage clothing all in the same place. It’s been a great way to meet people who live in the neighborhood, and it’s a fun spot to people-watch. (And yes, there are LOTS of hipsters.) Very casual, friendly vibe. It’s open every Tuesday and Saturday.

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I also had the chance to check out the Melrose Trading Post in West Hollywood, which is a flea market lover’s dream. You have to pay $3 to get in, but you can literally get lost it’s so huge. The market is open every Sunday, and you can find everything from valuable antiques to what looks like junk out of some guy’s closet.

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And back to my neighborhood (because I don’t have to venture very far to get to the good stuff)—the Silver Lake Art, Craft & Vintage flea market is another spot worth checking out every second Saturday of the month. It’s much smaller than the others with a decidedly quirky vibe. It’s also perched just above a community garden, where there are always groups of people getting things done. (There are also chickens… on Sunset Boulevard.)

Micheltorena flea market Micheltorena flea market Micheltorena flea market Micheltorena flea marketThere are countless others throughout the city, it’s overwhelming. This post could easily have a follow-up with a part two. And part three. And so on. I’m looking forward to checking out more.

Angelenos! I’m looking for a new adventure. Where should I head next?

 

A Thanksgiving gratitude roundup

Thanksgiving

For today’s post, I asked the good people of the interwebs to tell me what they’re most thankful for this year so I could include their responses in a Thanksgiving-themed post. I was envisioning a heart-warming, sentimental, feel-good post with a gushy outpouring of love and gratitude.

But that’s not what everyone had in mind.

Now, there WERE a few genuine responses that had what I was looking for:

I am most Thankful for my family and extended family who continue to amaze me with what they do for themselves and others. – Ken

Healthy family, good friends, and a job I like. – Helen

One that sticks out is a supportive group of family and friends. Don’t know where I’d be without the support of those around me! – Jessica

I’m super thankful for my amazing friends, who let me sleep at their houses and have sobfests on their couches. – Brianna

For my healthy little newborn!Nagehan

That my younger brother is doing well in his first semester at college #TakingOverOneAtATime – Andres

And then there were these guys, who were honest about the little, everyday things that get them through:

I’m thankful for Breaking Bad and for Robert (the guy who fixed our dishwasher two days before Thanksgiving.) – Chris

I am thankful for buttery brie… and oh yeah… wine. – Suzy

I’m thankful for hot water and the ability to charge my iPhone in my car. Oh and power steering. – Erin

The cloud, baby. It’s all about the cloud. And iMessage on my computer OMG. – Jenna

My family; but Neil Young is a very close second! – Stacy

I’m grateful for the wealth of great music and films that came out in 2013. Also, the Internet. – Jorge

That the perfect red lipstick is not a myth and actually turns out to be a total game changer. I know that sounds shallow & superficial but I challenge anyone to find better confidence boost than wearing a perfect red!Amanda

I am thankful that there have been so many good albums released in 2013. SO MANY. – Martin

This is my answer and you can’t stop me. – Rachel

And then there was this awkward moment when it could’ve been a serious response or a joke:

I’m thankful for baby Jesus. – Todd

In any case, you guys made this post a fun one to read and put together. Which brings me to my next point…

What am I thankful for this year?

Well, earlier this month, I wrote a guest post for Erika about how grateful I am for the change in perspective moving cross-country has brought me. I’m also thankful to have a partner-in-crime for this crazy adventure, and that, so far, we’re doing all right. I’m grateful for my family and friends back home, who I miss dearly. I’m grateful for the opportunities grad school has opened the doors to. I’m so, so thankful for all the wonderful people reading and commenting on this blog that continue to make it worth the effort. And, like some of you, I too am grateful for wine. And the perfect shade of red. And baby Jesus.

So to my friends in the U.S., have a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! For everyone else having a regular ole Thursday, thanks for being you. Now I’m off to make Cassie’s famous casserole.

The “Lucky” Ones – An interview with Inspired Taste food bloggers Adam & Joanne

When a friend from work suggested these next interviewees, I immediately went to their site and spent the next twenty minutes drooling. Adam and Joanne Gallagher are the creators of Inspired Taste, a popular food and recipe blog, and they’re here to share the details about their success.

Adam and Joanne of Inspired Taste

If there’s anyone you’d want to invite you over for dinner, it’d be Adam and Joanne Gallagher. Chances are, the couple would start the evening off with some spicy maple bacon wrapped shrimp as an appetizer, serve up some lemon chicken with fresh chickpea salad and focaccia bread on the side, then finish up the meal with panna cotta in blueberry sauce for dessert. After a few cocktails, they’d even send you home with all their recipes. Sharing their culinary secrets is kind of their thing.

As the chefs, photographers, and writers behind the food and recipe site Inspired Taste, these high school sweethearts share a dream job and are “lucky” enough to be able to do it full-time. (We all know “lucky” is code for “they bust their butts.”) Hours of prepping, trial and error, and of course taste testing go into each and every new recipe Adam and Joanne concoct, and Inspired Taste has their personal stamp all over it. What started as a hobby became so much more for this ambitious couple, and they’re only just getting started.

Welcome, Adam and Joanne!

 

You guys are high school sweethearts, which is utterly romantic. How did your shared love for the culinary arts grow and evolve together?

Oddly enough, we only started to get to know each other two weeks before our high school graduation. From there, we didn’t really connect over cooking until the last few years of college. We both had apartments with kitchens so we began cooking together. Since we both enjoyed it so much, it evolved from there.

What did you each do for work before going full-time with Inspired Taste? Did your work lack in creative fulfillment?

Ready? We worked at the same engineering firm! Joanne’s parents owned a small business and we both worked full-time spending our days working on proposals and contracts. While the engineers were super creative, our particular jobs were not. That’s why the moment we came home we got to cooking—both nights and weekends.

When and how did the realization sink in that you could take your blog full-time? What did that feel like?

Our blog grew slowly and our road to making enough money to cover our lifestyle was, at times, painfully slow. Now, though, we often wake up in the morning and feel the need to pinch each other—it’s kind of still sinking in.

What were your family and friends’ reactions when you explained to them your plans of becoming professional bloggers? Did you have a lot of support?

Everyone has been really supportive, even when they don’t exactly understand what it is we do on a daily basis (not that we blame them). I’m not even sure we can explain it that well.

Adam and Joanne of Inspired Taste

Do you ever feel pressure to maintain and build upon your success? How do you keep it in perspective?

Sure, but our blog has a built in reminder—comments from our readers. Our blog is all about food and cooking so when we get a comment telling us how well a recipe worked out for them and their family/friends it feels good. Like most people, we feel pressure all the time, but the comments keep us grounded.

Do you ever worry about running out of inspiration for new recipes or content?

Not at all—inspiration really is everywhere. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but we always get there in the end. If we’re feeling down, we pick ourselves up and either go somewhere like the beach or a park. Or, we’ll try tackling a crazy recipe—something like sourdough bread, homemade pasta or croissants. All just for fun.

Stuffed-Shells

Describe the joy that cooking (and writing about cooking) brings you.

Food makes us smile—fresh produce in the grocery store or markets, garlic hitting hot oil or tomato sauce simmering away on the stove. It hits all the senses, and since we both love it so much it gives us things to chat about and connect over. Plus, we get to eat it.

What are some of your favorite books (or cookbooks)?

Tough question—we’ve got so many! We absolutely love anything from Alice Waters, Julia Child and of course fellow food bloggers—so many have transformed their passion into amazing cookbooks.

Adam and Joanne of Inspired Taste

Some professional bloggers let their work consume their lives. How much time do you spend cooking, writing, editing, promoting, cleaning, etc.? Does it become tedious? How do you avoid burnout?

We try to keep some balance, but sometimes work takes over. We cook all the time, but try our best to keep things like writing, editing, responding to comments and promoting to the day and not evenings. As far as cleaning—we hate it, but probably spend as much time doing that as cooking. It’s worth it, though.

Yes, sometimes it is a little tedious, but the pros outweigh the cons.

Are there plans or dreams of Inspired Taste taking on forms in other mediums like, say, a book?

Sure—lots of them, but for now, we’re happy growing what we have. We love what we’re doing today.

What sacrifices have you made to make your dreams a reality and sustain them?

Lifestyle. Just like many small business owners, we have found that we need to give up a few things to keep the business growing. For example, we absolutely love to travel, but have held back a lot since working full time. We hope in the future we’ll be able to travel more. It’s worth the wait, though. We are completely in love with what we do on a daily basis.

 

Thanks so much, guys! I cannot wait to try out some of your recipes. Have questions or comments for Adam and Joanne? Leave them in the comments!

2nd Annual Girly Fun Time – Pittsburgh Edition


 


 

From Book Fest to Beer Fest: 21 and then some

While usually long periods of time in between posts are due to my extreme laziness, debauchery or simply having nothing worthy to say, I have a decent excuse this week: I am newly 21.

Huzzah! Kudos! or Mad propz! you shout. Yes, this is indeed thrilling. A whole new world of opportunities is at my feet. New doors are opening to me– mostly the doors of bars and liquor stores, and I’m okay with that. I’m glad to finally be rid of the same ID I’ve been carrying around since I was 16, and I’m glad my other ID can go in a scrapbook. (I recently gave my old wallet to my youngest sister, forgetting this very important card was still lodged inside. “Cassie,” sister asks, “you used to live in Tennessee?” “…No, give that back.”)

Now, I can drink the same drinks I’ve been drinking for years without feeling sneaky, guilty or paranoid. Plus, I won’t have to rub the top layer of skin off my hands while trying to remove unnecessarily large Sharpie “X”es off my hands. Let the good times roll.

Since my birthday was on a Sunday, John took me out for an incredible dinner late Saturday night at a restaurant called Tio Pepe’s in Baltimore. Oh mah gah, was it good. We ate artichoke hearts drizzled with heaven sauce as an appetizer, then moved onto lobster/crab/shrimp/oyster/chicken/sausage-filled paella while drinking a buzz-inducing amount of Sangria throughout. Later, I had the opportunity to bar hop starting at midnight and only drunkenly embarrassed myself once when I truly believed the elevator would totally open for me if I just walked right into it.

It was a great night, and it seemed my birthday could only get better. Sunday, John and I went to the first annual Baltimore Beer Festival, which was located at the Canton Waterfront Park. I got my first “over 21” wristband and a teeny beer mug which I could refill as much as my heart or liver desired. Wearing my brand new (pink!) Ravens jersey from someone who obviously reads my blog, I pranced around happily from vendor to vendor during what was the most gorgeous day of the season.

But as we left the festival, a (literally) sobering text brought news of a family member in the hospital. It was news that brought us back to reality, putting us face-to-face with a stinging reminder of human mortality and vulnerability. We spent much of the next couple of days pacing around in waiting rooms or elsewhere, hoping to hear good news. Finally, we did. And then, after what seemed like a forever-long wait, everything was going to be fine, and we could sigh a huge sigh of relief.

This event served as a reminder of the things that are most important to me that have nothing to do with beer or partying. And it certainly makes me take the people I love less for granted. There’s nothing like a surprise hospital visit to make you reevaluate your priorities.

Luckily, I get to write about this incident with only positive news. Aside from my birthday, there are even better things to celebrate now that everyone is safe and healthy. In the meantime, I get to enjoy my week off from some of my most time-consuming responsibilities and buy some beer just for the heck of it.

But if I don’t start getting carded soon, I’m seriously going to be mad that I didn’t try this stuff more often as an underager.