The Oxnard Strawberry Festival

This is several weeks late, but my friends and I went on an Oxnard adventure one weekend to check out the Strawberry Festival. It was fun to get out of LA for the day and visit a fair filled with locals. Our original plan was to park at the train station in Oxnard and take a shuttle bus in (so it’s free parking), but the school bus we were on wouldn’t start and time was ticking. We decided to just drive ourselves and pay the $10 to park right by the fair. It wasn’t the easiest to get to (signs were misleading) but once were parked the day started going right.

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You can see there were plenty of local craft booths. One problem I had with the festival was the lack of strawberry jam! Not a single strawberry jam booth (from what we could find).

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Thankfully there were booths with puppets. Phew.

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Wendy herself was out and about serving up free goodies.

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The first strawberry themed booth we found was (white) chocolate covered strawberries, which of course I ate before I could take a snapshot. It was amazing. We then decided to share a bag of strawberry popcorn. Why go to a strawberry themed festival unless you’re open to eating crazy themed foods. Note the Bungee Jumper flying around.

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Yumm.. we got a fresh batch!

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Eventually we made our way to the food court area. We had to hit-up the make your own strawberry shortcake. Note the signs behind are advertising “Strawberry Nachos”, Strawberry burritos, and other odd strawberry themed meals.

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Strawberry pizza!

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After having our fill of strawberry margaritas, strawberry popcorn, and other strawberry themed treats, we took strawberry photos and went on our way.

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Leisurely Sunday Brunch

Happy Sunday everyone! There’s nothing like a relaxing free Sunday to enjoy a leisurely girls brunch to help rewind the life batteries. If you haven’t visited LaMILL in Silver Lake, you are missing out. It’s pricy, but it’s definitely worth the cost as they are coffee experts. It’s also a hipster-actor-celebrity hotspot. I love coming here to people watch and today we saw (in addition to lots of hipsters in wild print adult onesies) Fitz (from Fits and the Tantrums) and an adorable actor from The League.

After a super fun brunch and successful fabric shopping trip downtown (near the fashion deal mecca Santee Alley), I am home baking up a quiche (see the recipe here) while breathing in the scent of apple spice to get me in the fall state-of-mind. Happy Sunday everyone! May your week ahead be mellow and positive!

Risotto

So last night I decided to try something new and actually make a recipe from the magazine Real Simple. I subscribe to this magazine, which means every month I read about a lot of recipes I never have time to try making. I also love to read the blog Smitten Kitchen, which posts new recipes and amazing photos of the cooking process. Yesterday I had time to buy ingredients and actually cook, so NO EXCUSES! I woke up early to get all my ingredients from Trader Joes, and started making my Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash around 5pm that night while listening to Christmas music and indulging in a chocolate stout (also from TJ’s).

The one thing this article leaves out is the time it takes to peel, cut, and dice all the different veggies. I jazzed up the recipe by adding in mushrooms, which also took a lot of time to cut up. But I do believe they added in a nice flavor.

Other than the mushrooms I followed the recipe to a T. It all came out delicious and while the recipe said it makes 4 servings, I willbe set for lunches and dinners for the week. No human being should eat 1/4 of that giant casserole dish full of risotto in one sitting. My final shot isn’t as pretty as the magazine photos, but it’s pretty tasty!

Find the recipe in this month’s Real Simple (I suggest buying it also for the holiday gift ideas) or online HERE.

Miceli’s

On Friday night, my sister invited me to Miceli’s to use one of her Groupons. The deal was a 3 course meal for $15 (1 appetizer, 1 salad, and 1 pizza). If this deal comes up again, get it!

We made reservations for 8pm at their Universal location. Parking was a little tricky as it was Friday night along Ventura Blvd, but they offered valet (for a cost) or you could search for a spot along the narrow winding side streets leading up into the hills (like I did, because Im a proud cheapskate). I was running a little behind because of an accident on the 101 (per usual), so when I finally found a parking spot and walked half a mile down to the restaurant I was about 11 minutes late. As I walked up to the door of Miceli’s, a family was exiting the restaurant with the mother saying “Im glad we got here when we did, because if you get here after 7p, forget’aboutit!” I continued in, thankful Erica made reservations because the waiting area was packed with people. I apologized for being late and she said that even with the reservation she was told it would be a 15 mintue wait, which was perfect timing given my tardiness. After a few minutes of chatting, Erica’s name was called out by a man with a cone shaped bullhorn. We made our way through a packed restaurant to a back area where they gave the 2 of us a table for 4, which was great because it gave us room to spread out (a rarity at a packed LA restaurant).


This place was like being in a cartoon. The walls are covered in murals representing “old Italy” and hundred’s of chianti bottles in signed straw baskets strung around the restaurant as decoration. In the center of the restaurant a band was set-up. Occasionally the wait staff would get their 15 minutes of fame, jump up there and belt out a song. While singing they also walked around the restaurant with the microphone to make all sections feel included. On this Friday night there was a tween birthday party happening in a section behind out table, which meant the songs karaoke’d were mostly Miley and Bieber (not my favorite, but it made them happy).

When using a Groupon you have to present it while ordering, which basically implies to the waitress, I’m a cheapo that uses coupons. Don’t get me wrong, I love Groupon but when presenting it right off the bat, it always makes me think the service will be less than stellar because the waiter knows we won’t be spending a lot of money. At Miceli’s I was proven wrong, the waitstaff was excellent. Our waitress was a woman in her late forties (?), and she was extremely attentive constantly refilling our drinks and checking in with us. Considering it was a packed restaurant, it was all the more impressive.

Our Groupon allowed us one appetizer (we chose the fried zucchini), one salad (perfect for 2 people), and one pizza. We chose the large veggie pizza, but the deal was even good on their fancier pizzas (up to a $22 regularly priced pizza). What a deal! The food was delicious, the live music and crowds were entertaining, and the service was great. My sister and I each left with a doggie bag of 2 pieces of pizza each, and the total spent on the Groupon and tip came to $22. I highly recommend Miceli’s for families and groups, and remember to make a reservation!

Photo taken from Yelp.com