Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cannoli Watch: Masa

I had heard so much about the chocolate croissant bread pudding at Masa that I was determined to have it. However, after consuming lots of cuban rolls and a couple slices of the Chicago-style pizza (see Must Try), I couldn't even bear to think about having more bread. But, me being me, I still wanted to have a sweet cap to my meal, especially since the other dessert on the menu was a chocolate chip cannoli (!):

This cannoli was no bijou reimaging; it was 5-6 inches of the real deal. The ricotta filling was very good and not too heavy (for ricotta), and while I wish there were more chocolate chips to add a little texture and more interest to the filling, chocolate was fully represented in the generous glazing. I really liked this and it definitely whets my appetite for Masa's hallowed bread pudding.

Must Try: Chicago-Style Pizza at Masa

I went to Masa on Friday night, and the Chicago-style pizza has been on my mind as strong undercurrent since then. I have shared my experience with as many people as possible, extolling the tastiness of the cornmeal crust, which only got better after reheating on the second day. I have had daydreams about the garlicky tomato sauce and the layer of cheese peeking out from underneath. And I think that if I decided to ever really let myself go, I couldn't think of a better way to do it than to eat this pizza everyday. (Actually, the best way would probably be a weekly routine of Masa, Pie 'N Burger, Honey's Kettle, Hurry Curry, and Cici's.)

I had the California Vegetable pizza, which had Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and next time, I'd like to try the Mushroom and Olive. I suppose it's a good thing that I don't eat beef/pork, since I can only imagine how filling the meat pizzas are. The key is to try not to eat too much before the pizza. This proves to be a bit of a feat, since it takes 40 minutes, during which you have to resist various appetizers, salads and freshly-baked Cuban rolls (which thankfully, don't come automatically.) Good luck with that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hike #7: Echo Mountain via the Sam Merrill Trail

Two weekends ago, I (along with TB) went on the toughest hike yet (at least, for me): Echo Mountain via the Sam Merrill Trail in Altadena. This hike is about 2.5 miles one-way up a sunny and switchback-heavy trail with a total elevation gain of about 1,400 feet:

When you get to the top of Echo Mountain, you can explore the ruins of a turn of the century (1900s) resort:

...and the railway that took guests up to it:

Before descending or continuing the three miles further to the top of Mount Lowe, you can read both the historic and intepretive signs scattered around the site and relax in several shady picnic areas:

My favorite part was this:

It's not everyday that you get to hear your own yodeling echoing throughout the San Gabriel Mountains:

One of the best things about doing a strenuous hike is that you really have carte blanche to eat as much as you want for lunch. We did just that at the plain-looking Pie 'N Burger, a Pasadena institution. I had been meaning to go there for quite a while since I found out that they did turkey burgers (I don't eat regular burgers) and that it was mostly counter seating (I love eating at counters!)

After 3 hours of hiking, my burger definitely hit the spot. TB said the burger reminded him of a Big Mac, but better. (I don't think I can even remember what a Big Mac tastes like, but I'm assuming that they would be similar because of the Thousand Island dressing.) Anyway, the showstopper (and possible heartstopper) was the Dutch Apple Pie: crumbly cinammon topping, warm and not too sweet apple filling, buttery crust and generous scoops of French Vanilla ice cream. (TB got the rhubarb pie.) In any event, they have more than a dozen kinds of pie (depending on what's in season) at Pie 'N Burger, and I can't wait to try every single one.