A DAY IN DTLA

I don't know if it's a good thing that I've gotten used to driving 30-45 minutes to get coffee or a bite to eat, or if it's just sad...but sometimes, it's just nice to go somewhere local. In the past 5-10 years, Downtown Los Angeles has seen an incredible revitalization.

Cafes, coffee shops, and amazing restaurants keep popping up, and with so many new places to discover, it's hard to know where to start. That's why I recruited my mom to spend a day Downtown. She's not much of a city gal, though...her walking pace is super slow and she's not that great at finding street parking. I think she had fun, though, when I wasn't asking her to abstain from drinking her 10-shot juice sampler until I finished taking pictures of it.

After searching, in vain, for street parking, we settled for an $18 flat rate public parking structure. Gotta love the city. We made our way to

Verve Coffee

, a spot known for its signature plant-covered outdoor patio. I'd dare to compare it to a hipster Rainforest Cafe...but without the waterfall sounds effects and huge animal models. It's been a good 10 years since I've been to Rainforest Cafe though, so that comparison might be a bit of a stretch.

My point is that this spot is super, super cool. 

And what better way to enjoy your coffee, than while surrounded by walls of winding greenery and insanely wealthy young adults toting enormous shopping bags from the new Acne in town and complaining about how often their parents call them??

(No, seriously. I had a minor meltdown during the first part of my time at Verve because of the people sitting at the table next to me. And yes, one girl actually complained about how often her mother called her, then continued to say that she contacts her dad via email only.)

After this slightly intimidating group left, I was finally able to take pictures of my latte and my mom's 10-juice sampler without fear of judgement. Our new table neighbors were also much more kind and welcoming; we met their dog, Kevin, an adorable chihuahua mix (this is saying a lot, as I tend to hate small dogs because they remind me of rats) that had been rescue from a junkyard.

We enjoyed the majority of our sampler (my favorites were "The Redhead," "The Pipe Cleaner," and "Hot Lei," while the "Block Rockin' Beats" and "Cream Party" were a little harder to stomach), and all-in-all, $12 is a pretty good deal for 10 juice shots and the feeling that you've done something to healthify your diet.

After our coffee and juice date, we bid farewell to our new friend Kevin to explore the new APC, Acne and Aesop stores in the area.

Let's just say that we had a lot of fun at Aesop. Maybe a little too much fun. I mean, it's really hard to say no when a lovely sales associate offers to pamper you by massaging wonderful lotions and balms into your hands. It's like a spa treatment...but free.

We left Aesop happier, cleaner and excited to start using our purchases, a favorite of which was the Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm, a deliciously hyrdating hand cream with hints of mandarin orange and lavender.

I'm so glad to have added this wonderful product to my list of summer essentials, which also includes

Bali Body's Natural Tanning and Body Oil

(I

swear

 by this stuff - it gives me a beautiful bronze glow, while helping to diminish the appearance of skin irregularities, including my eczema), and my favorite sunnies from Toms.

What are your summer essentials?

NEW YORK - DAY 4

I'm going to start this post with an apology: I sincerely apologize to all those follow me on Instagram, and who read this blog, who have seen nonstop uploads of pictures from my trip to New York, which at this point, ended almost three weeks ago. You might say I have somewhat of an obsession with the city. We're all I a little crazy, I guess.

That being said, here goes a super belated post about day 4 in the "city that never sleeps."

I spent the second day of my trip in Brooklyn, where I visited a flea market-type indoor shopping spot. It was there that I found the

Fig Collective

. And I'm so glad that I did.

My eye was immediately caught by the most incredible bomber (besides the

rose gold Acne Studios bomber...I swear, I cry every time I see it

) I have ever seen. The perfect shade of green - something between forest and olive. I tried to tear myself away as soon as I heard the price was $200 (*wait, I just looked it up online and retail is $260???!!!!).

After the devil and angel on my shoulder bantered for a bit, I was able to talk the shop owner into letting me buy the jacket for $180, no tax. I was actually pretty surprised with my bartering skills.

Fast-forward to Day 4, when I went to the Fig Collective showroom in Brooklyn to pick up my baby (the bomber; I do NOT have a child).

From the showroom, we went to Toby's Estate, where I ordered a Roast Turkey Melt with mustard creamed kale, Gouda, and maple sriracha. Heavenly. I expected the sandwich to be really heavy, but it was surprisingly light thanks to thin but crispy slices of Pullman bread.

When you're thinking about that goal summer bod, but you're also thinking about all the delicious food out there...like this roast turkey melt with mustard creamed kale, smoked Gouda and maple sriracha from @tobysbrooklyn... #thestruggle
A photo posted by Caitlin (@caitlinntayy) on Apr 12, 2015 at 11:16am PDT

(Also I am SO sorry the embedded Instagram picture isn't centered. It's bugging me SOOOO much, but I don't know how to fix it :( Someone who knows coding, please help!)

Out of all the amazing cafes, restaurants and other eateries I visited in New York,

Toby's Estate

is definitely the one I miss most. The coffee was flawless, the food menu diverse yet simple, and interior nothing short of perfect. In all honestly, I would have had absolutely no problem living there.

Like in the coffee shop.

I never thought I would say a coffee shop represents everything I want in my future living space, but here we are. 

From our coffee stop, we decided to play tourist and headed to the High Line. The weather was perfect - clear blue skies and warm if you stood in the sunlight (but frigid in the shadows). I was actually surprised by how long the High Line was. I don't remember the total distance, but I think we walked something like 20 blocks each way (that might be completely off, but my point is that our walk on the High Line was the fastest we traveled, even considering car and subway rides, the entire trip)?? It was actually somewhat surreal because there was so much greenery along the High Line, that it was as if we had traveled to some European countryside. It felt nothing like New York, and yet, the apartment buildings on either side brought us back to reality. Very cool.

NEW YORK - DAY 3

When you hear the words "Spring Break," many things come to mind, including, but not limited to the following:

1) James Franco's character in

Spring Breakers

 creepily saying, "sprang break forever"

2) A week of questionable levels of alcohol consumption in Miami or Cabo.

3) Generally just getting very intoxicated

4) Getting the chance to work on the tan that you're pretty sure you once had, but which has somehow faded to a pale, ashy shade over the winter...

5) NOT SCHOOL.

I'm still asking myself why, when my friend who attends Columbia asked me to go to a class with her, I agreed. What was I thinking??!!!

I somehow convinced myself to get up at 8:45 in the morning and make my way uptown in the freezing cold (No, seriously. The second I stepped outside the apartment to head to the subway, my eyes started watering. It was

that

 cold).

After a torturous two hours of listening (but not really) to a woman talk about fossils and geology and something about chemistry, I could officially say I had attended a class at Columbia. Worth it? Maybe not.

Hungry from all the time I had spent listening (or rather, not) to a lecture about rocks and who knows what else, I was excited to meet up with my cousin for lunch at

Sarabeth's

, one of New York's most well-known (an somewhat bougie) brunch spots.

We decided to split the avocado toast and coconut-rum waffle. So healthy, right? I mean, avocado has great fats in it...and coconut is also good for you...and um...rum is uh...good for your happiness?

I was somewhat let down by my experience at Sarabeth's. After hearing and reading so many rave reviews, I was expecting a lot. I mean, the food was pretty good. The avocado toast was topped with feta, which was delicious, and the coconut-rum waffle was a cool twist on a traditional breakfast item, topped with mango-pineapple jam, toasted coconut and rum syrup. But the service was terrible. Absolutely awful. In conclusion, the food didn't disappoint, but I would rather have my bougie brunch experience somewhere where the waiter actually asks how we're doing and doesn't throw the check down on the table. Yikes. I said that.

As if we hadn't already stuffed ourselves at Sarabeth's, we headed directly to

Lady M

. Lady M is known for their mille crepe cakes, which I had known about for a long time, but had never gotten around to tasting. Apparently, Lady M has locations in San Francisco and Beverly Hills, so I really don't have an excuse for why I haven't gone yet. I guess it's because I'm not really a cake person? I'd much rather go for an awesome ice cream cone, or a super fudgy brownie, or a chewy chocolate chip cookies.

This place made me a believer, though. After much debating, my cousin and I decided to share the green tea mille crepe and the chocolate-raspberry torte. I don't know why we thought we were going to finish both. We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into.

There's no exaggerating when it comes to Mille Crepes - Lady M does it best. As delicious as it was, I couldn't even finish the green tea crepe cake and raspberry-chocolate bar I split with my cousin πŸ™Š
A photo posted by Caitlin Taylor (@foodieescapades) on Mar 30, 2015 at 4:38pm PDT

When we could finally breathe again (we actually sat at our table for a solid half hour until we didn't feel like we were going to throw up from being so full), we headed to the New York Public Library to take some pictures. In my daily Instagram scouting for cool spots to eat or shoot at around New York, I stumbled upon pictures from the library and knew I had to go. To get that picture. Not to read. From the very moment I knew about the New York Public library, I was attracted to the beautiful chandeliers and detailed architecture, immediately excited by the prospect of all the incredible pictures I could take there. Not once did the amazing collection of books contained within come to mind.

What does this say about me??

Ok ok ok last pic for today, I promise. Sorry for the spam. Blame it on New York.
A photo posted by Caitlin (@caitlinntayy) on Mar 25, 2015 at 6:37pm PDT

Bomber Jacket - Topshop

|

Sunnies - Toms

|

Beanie - Mary Meyer Clothing

NEW YORK - DAY 2

My "I'm being blinded by sunlight and it's also really fucking cold" face
A photo posted by Caitlin (@caitlinntayy) on Mar 22, 2015 at 2:01pm PDT

It took me 10 minutes just to figure out how to embed that ^ picture in this post. Just sayin'.

Maybe my inability to perform such a simple task has to do with the fact that I have yet to recover from my trip. I think I'm still on New York time. It's probably a sign that I should be there, instead of back at school. That's definitely it.

My first day back from Spring Break, one of my friends asked me, "so did you basically just eat a lot on your trip?"

At first, I was kind of offended. My mental reaction went something like this:  "I mean, I walked a lot, OKAY?!! The health app on my phone said I was walking about 7.5 miles a day...Is she calling me fat? I'm working on it okay?!! I'm working on it!!!"

...And then I remembered the Snapstories I posted each day, and I remembered how those Snapstories consisted of 100 seconds of all the food I consumed each day. So it probably DID look like all I did was eat. I mean, that was pretty much all I did. Yeah, she was right.

Yes, I did eat a lot of awesome food while I was in New York. No ragrets. I enjoyed every damn bite.

See this delicious looking pizza you wish you could eat right now? That shit was awesome.

Roberta's

represents everything pizza should be. Located in a graffitied nook of Brooklyn, the famed pizza spot is packed from the get-go. No worries, though! In addition to their main indoor dining area, they also have two tented areas with first come, first serve seating. Enjoy some drinks while waiting for a table inside, or start chowing down in the Tiki Room (that's where I was).

Now we get into the pizza. I don't know why I always decide to write blog posts at like midnight, because it's when I'm the hungriest, and I always have to recount really delicious meals to you guys. I love writing about fashion and food, and sharing my favorite foodie spots with anyone who's reading this, but I'm just so hungry now...

I'll just get to the point already. I'm sorry.

We ordered the Romaine, a caesar-inspired dish served with candied walnuts. I especially loved the addition of mint to the traditional caesar dressing, which was way better than I expected it to be. Mint??!!! In caesar salad dressing??!!!! Sounds totally disgusting, but it was amazing. I'm going to make my caesar salad with mint from now on.

We also split a "Fantastic Original" (I think that's what it's called...it's not on the menu, but it's like a traditional cheese pizza with mozzarella and one other cheese I've never heard of, and it was amazing), with mushrooms, roasted red pepper, and an egg, added. INSANELY GOOD. HEAVEN IN MY MOUTH. PILLOWY, YET THIN CRUST. Do you sense my enthusiasm, or should I go on? I'll go on anyway. The egg was perfectly runny and was just like a sauce all on its own - but wait - now it's mixing with the most delicious marinara sauce of all time??? A perfect marriage is what this was. You could make the trip to Brooklyn JUST to eat this pizza, and it would be worth it.

After Roberta's, we headed toward Bedford to check out

Mast Brother's Chocolate

. The second I stepped in, I was completely overwhelmed by the most delicious smell I have ever smelled in my entire life. It was like stepping into a vat of the best chocolate ever, but without all the weird and gross things that that would actually entail. Forgive me for my awful imagery. It's late. I'm jetlagged.

Bonus pic of me looking like a stereotypical Asian tourist in front of Mast Brothers. It's my Japanese side shining, what can I say...

Just to give you a sense of when each of these things happened within Day 2 of my trip...

wow this is going to sound really bad...

let's just say that within 3 hours of leaving the house, we were already at our third food spot,

Matcha Bar

.

I discovered Matcha Bar via Instagram soon after it opened and immediately added it to the top of my NY list of places to eat. I LOVE matcha. Traditionally served hot, without any sweetener whatsoever, matcha is quite bitter. In the states, it's never served in this traditional way, but rather, it's scooped (very sparingly) into frappuccinos and lattes. At that point, the matcha is pretty much rendered irrelevant, overpowered by tons of flavored syrup. Matcha Bar has made it it's mission to serve matcha in ways that pay homage to its origins. Their menu includes traditional matcha drinks (unsweetened), as well as other more subtle drinks for those who are unused to the flavor.

Faced with the impossible decision of picking just one drink, I ended up picking two - the matcha hot cocoa, and the cold matcha with fuji apple juice and ginger.

*"Best of Both Worlds" by Hannah Montana plays in the background*

Insanely good. The drinks were both very different, the cocoa more chocolate-y than matcha-y, while the iced matcha was much more traditional, sweetened only naturally with fuji apple juice and a kick of ginger. Does the fact that I drank the iced matcha count as doing a juice cleanse? It's like I didn't even eat pizza for brunch, because I drank iced matcha afterward. Right?

Sound logic, amirite?

After we each had two matcha drinks (my cousin ordered a traditional hot matcha, then a matcha chai latte), we explored some stores before making our way toward Brooklyn Bridge park. Evidence=that overexposed, super touristy pic of me in the alley with the Bridge in the background. 

MORE FOOD. It was Shake Shack, okay? It had to be done. I didn't even have a choice about going, really. Let me just say, their 'shroom burger could convince every meat-lover in this world, including Ron Swanson (so maybe that's a bit of a stretch...), that veggie burgers aren't disgusting.

I tried to take a day-long break from posting pictures from New York. Obviously, that didn't happen...
A photo posted by Caitlin (@caitlinntayy) on Mar 31, 2015 at 12:43pm PDT

Shirt - Levis

|

Jeans - Madewell

 |

Beanie - Mary Meyer

 |

Crossbody Bag - Kate Spade

| Shoes - Converse

I need to stop writing this post now because my stomach is growling and I'm getting dangerously close to ordering a large pizza (any size pizza is a personal pizza if you just believe).

NEW YORK - DAY 1

In January, I decided I was going to spend Spring Break in New York. Not in Miami, skipping along the beach, raving all day and getting my tan on. Oh no. I was set on spending Spring Break - a time when most head to the warmest cities they know of to tan on the beach and get back some of the color they lost during the winter - in 30-40 degree weather.

And I couldn't be happier with this better decision.

After the most turbulent flight I've ever experienced (like I actually thought I was going to die, and I'm not at all a religious person, but I was DEFINITELY praying), I finally landed in New York, wearing clothes fit only for a California "winter," and sporting some awesome bags under my eyes.

Despite my lack of sleep, I was so excited to be in the city that I forgot all about the trauma of the flight and I was ready to begin exploring. We first headed to

OatMeals

for breakfast.

To all of you oatmeal haters out there - yeah, all of you who think oatmeal is just a pile of mush - this place will change your mind. With tons of flavor combinations and a build-your-own option, OatMeals promises to satisfy even the most adamant of oatmeal-haters.

I went with the Antioxidant Awakening, topped with dried pomegranate seeds, dark chocolate chips, greek yogurt, chia seeds, and honey. It was like eating dessert for breakfast, except it's actually really good for you! I couldn't have asked for a better start to the trip.

My cousin ordered the Tropical Sunrise, which had delicious bits of dried mango and shredded coconut. 

After our OatMeal's, my cousin headed to school and I decided to wander around SoHo for a couple hours before meeting with

Edward

, who I met off Instagram. Despite my initial convictions to NOT spend any money on clothing during this trip, I bought a top at Madewell within my first 30 minutes in SoHo. I definitely have a problem.

After fleeing the shops for fear of burning through my entire savings, I headed to

Happy Bones

, where Edward and I had agreed to meet. The shop was tiny, with white-washed brick walls and three tiny tables. Perfectly minimalistic and charming, this coffee spot is a New York treasure.

After 20 minutes of passive-aggressively looking over at people who had long-finished drinking their coffees and were just sitting there doing nothing, we finally got a table and chatted over Dough donuts (hibiscus and passionfruit-cacao nib) and lattes. This was one of the smoothest latte's I've ever had in my entire life.

Edward, his friends and I got to know each other over donuts and coffee (there's really no better way to get to know someone), then explored more of SoHo and checked out the New Museum. All I'm going to say is, you have to go to the Sky Deck. The view is absolutely unbelievable, and the lighting is to-die-for.

(...I'm realizing that so far it looks like all I'm doing on this trip is eating...)

After an hour-and-a-half wait, we finally got a table at

Jack's Wife Freda

(lunch at 3:00pm, anyone?). I got the poached eggs and halloumi, served with pesto, roasted tomato, and charred bread. I wish I could eat this every single day. I also want to steal all of their sugar packets, which are super adorable and have little messages on them.

By 4:00pm, my feet felt like they were going to fall off. One of my goals for this week is definitely to keep my outfit game one-hunned. But my feet. They are dying. Note to self: chunky-heeled boots that are a tad too small are bad all-day walking shoes.

After parting ways with Edward and his friends, I met up with my cousin again and we grabbed some light bites at

Boulton&Watt

, then made a final stop at

Momofuku Milk Bar

for some cereal milk soft serve and crack pie (which is actually crack), before conking out at 11:00pm.

Basically, Day 1 was a huge success. Rallying for food and Instagram meet-ups is always a good idea.