Freedom rings, hunger roars and we remain independent in our food choices. God Bless America.

Hi Katherine,

I hope you had a beautiful Fourth of July weekend celebrating America’s 241st birthday! USA! USA! Hey, so do you know why there aren’t any knock knock jokes about America? Because FREEDOM RINGS! Badumpish! Hahahaha. I really love that joke and thoroughly enjoyed it this week. Needless to say, I had a lot of good eats this past weekend thanks to family and friends. My parents drove out from Orange County to celebrate Independence Day in LA LA Land. We walked along the Venice canals, walked through parades and hung out at Venice beach. It was a glorious day filled with blue skies, sunshine and loads of good food. How was your Fourth? Do anything fun or eat anything delightful?

I love that you’re getting back into the smoothie kick! I remember when I first got my Magic Nutri Bullet machine… I was a smoothie making fiend! To say that I was obsessed with making smoothies was an understatement. I made smoothies every waking day for like, three months and made my roommates, friends, and coworkers try my homemade concoctions and talked their ears off about various different recipes and ingredients I threw together in that blender lol. I even convinced three coworkers to purchase their own Nutri Bullets too. My fridge was filled with an endless mix of smoothies thanks to my obsession with the Nutri Bullet. I’m surprised Nurti Bullet didn’t pay me, as I was basically a walking advertisement! Hahaha… and my old LA roomies will tell you all about that phase of my life lol. I still enjoy the occasional smoothie, but I haven’t gone that crazy over smoothie making since 2014 (please see photo below for reference).

Smoothie making craze 2014
Proof. As you can see, this was what the fridge at my old apartment looked like circa 2014. My roommates had a blast trying all of my smoothie creations thanks to my trusty Magic NutriBullet. I enjoyed using orange juice, almond milk, pineapple juice, apple juice and lemon juice as bases.

Aside from the smoothie craze back in 2014, nowadays, I’ve been on that acai bowl kick, but in moderation. So, I’ve decided that interchanging my days between healthy eating and just straight whatever-is-delicious eating is in order. Because we live in the land of the free and home of the brave, I believe we should exercise our right to choose freely what we want to eat, when we want to eat and how we eat; and be brave in our choices to eat whatever foods we feel like eating. This is what being bold, brave and American means to me. In some places, I know we wouldn’t even have half of the food choices that we have here… we are incredibly blessed and I am thankful that I’m able to live in this great country and eat what I want to eat, when I feel like eating without going hungry. #MERICA #MURICA #AMERICA #USA! 

Also, I agree, a key green ingredient in a healthy smoothie should be spinach (sometimes I only throw in kale because I cannot eat kale unless it’s in smoothie-form or as a kale chip). Oh, and your pics with the chia seeds were beautiful. Chubby is so cute, as always and she looks like she wanted some of that smoothie too. Well, the healthy foodie in me is satisfied with green juices and all, but man oh man, that pasta foodie in me just won’t die. Call me a Pastafarian (this is actually a thing, but not what you think it is) I love PASTA and I don’t care who knows it!

You and I both know my love for Italian food and that’s actually what I really want to talk to you about from this past week. There’s this little (not really so little) place called North Italia in Santa Monica, California. I had the chance to enjoy some incredible dishes (which I will share through photos below). But first, the thing I found so beautiful about this place, besides the homemade fresh food, is that it’s so open and communal, almost home-like in that even in architectural design, it seamlessly connected both the inside dining area with the outside dining area through the bar. After reading a bit about the place and its concept, I realized this restaurant is a lot like our blog. We’re just two chicks trying to share our own love for food and bring our own take on this food scene.

North Italia is kind of the same way. This place is their love letter to Italy. It truly is a “place that’ll make you feel like you’ve stepped off a charming side street to discover a culinary gem.” And what a delightfully tasty gem it is. They make their own pastas and pizzas from scratch. They take these incredibly traditional Italian dishes and make it their own; a modern lens on traditional Italian cooking. And it’s such a beautiful thing. **insert heart eyes emoji here**

So, let me get to their food. Much like our food blog is sort of a love letter to basically all food itself, this place truly does their food right (minus the arancini balls; I definitely prefer a more breaded outer crispy arancini ball to their smooth version – can be found at Forma – but I will say North Italia had a perfect risotto stuffed with scamorza cheese and red sauce; it was what made it good lol). But by George, do they do their pastas right! I paired my descriptions of each dish with photos of the food… this time I was good about snapping photos of all of my food because it was just too good to pass.

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CHICKEN PARMESAN – crushed tomato, aged provolone, mozzarella, parmesan rigatoni! They have it all together from the perfect crispy crunch of the outer layer of the chicken parm to the inner tender juicy meat of the chicken… the fettuccine and light layer of sauce is the perfect blend to bring the entire dish together. This is just a half portion if you want to split the main meals with another person, you can; and they’ll even plate it for you.
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Arancini balls on the left. I definitely prefer a more breaded outer crispy arancini ball to their smooth version, but the risotto stuffed with scamorza cheese and red sauce was pretty delightful still. The meatballs did not disappoint; on the right; came with bread.
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Italian meatballs with marinara sauce, pecorino cheese and seasoned grilled bread
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I love the table and simple decor of a single live flower. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Let the food speak for itself (and boy, did the food speak volumes) and the simplicity of the decor shall shine. Every plate contained a taste palate of true artistry.
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This SQUID INK MAFALDINE was EVERYTHING. It’s like, what I dream a pasta dish would taste like… and, as I first laid eyes on it, I was delighted by how different and dark it was in presentation. I mean, it makes sense, it’s squid ink. Mafaldine, also known as Reginette or simply Mafalda, is a type of ribbon-shaped pasta. It is flat and wide, usually about 1 cm in width, with wavy edges on both sides and this one was black like my soul. *lol insert maniacal laughter here~Muahahahaha* The seafood (and see food) lover in me was jumping with joy. The white shrimp and calamari were cooked to perfection and not chewy at all, but perfectly cooked. Mixed with acqua pazza, mint, fennel pollen and calabrian chili, its texture and taste both delighted and teased all of my senses. 100% love. I’d come back for this dish. I’d fight wars for this dish. I just want to eat this for a week.
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I was taken aback by this STROZZAPRETI because it was a bit saltier than I expected. I presume it’s because of the thick pasta noodles (it was the long half curved shaped ones that are tubular and have a hole in the center… Strozzapreti are an elongated form of cavatelli, or hand-rolled pasta typical of the Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Marche and Umbria regions of Italy. It was thick). Anyway, the chicken, roasted mushroom and spinach really brought this hearty dish together. I was so happy that the toasted pine nuts were good because bad pine nuts will leave a terrible taste in your mouth for three months. The parmesan cream was just the icing on the top and eating this half of a dish with the squid ink mafaldine was pure bliss.

**Note: I’ve been craving churros with Nutella… anything with Nutella on top of anything is guaranteed to be delicious. And I have to admit, I wanted to drizzle Nutella on top of this next dish of desserts called the Bombolini.**

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THE BOMBOLINI was BOMB DOT COM! It’s these Italian donuts with meyer lemon curd, vanilla mascarpone sprinkled with powdered sugar on top of the light, hot and fluffy donut. It was literally heaven in my mouth and I wanted to eat all of them. Unfortunately, I had to share lol. But you and I both know I totally would’ve eaten the entire dish and then ordered another extra.

Anyway, I think I’ve thoroughly delved into my delightful experience at North Italia. Not only was the ambiance nice because it was by the beach, it was great company too. I really enjoy good food – whether it’s at a nice restaurant or made with love at home – because good food always makes a bad day better. If you’re sad and you have a tasty meal, it just lightens your tastebuds and mood. I’m so happy I’m able to share this project and write love letters about food with you, because despite the gas being shut off, having spotty internet connection, not being able to take warm showers and not having any hot water in my unit for the past couple of days, knowing that I have a foodie friend who shares in my foodie love and zest for life on the other side of the country, warms my heart. Thanks for being my dear friend and for loving food just as much as I do! I hope this made you salivate!

Until then, bon appétit,

Anne 🙂

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