Ubud: an overnight trip

You can read about our first few days in Bali here and our day trip to Potato Head Beach Club here.


Mike and I spent the night in Ubud midway through our stay in Bali. Ubud is where the “love” happened in Eat, Pray, Love and where the movie was filmed.  It is about only about 50 miles from Canggu – where our villa was located – but word on the street was that traffic getting there would be terrible. So we wanted to leave early; which wasn’t a problem since we were waking up around 7am every morning. 

After a quick banana bread and smoothie bowl “brekky” (as many Australian tourists call it), we were en route. As it turned out, it was the full moon ceremony that day and we were to Ubud exactly a hour. I’ve always loved a full moon…

The scooter ride there was fun! I had relaxed into being on the back of the bike and tried to enjoy the scenery more. It was also a nice relief from the heat because of the breeze. In Udud we stayed at the Organic Farm Villa at the Moksha. Check in wasn’t until 3pm or 4pm but we arrived around 11am. I thought we would just leave our stuff at the front desk and go explore the city but they surprised us and said our room would be ready in half hour. 

While we were waiting by the pool, someone brought us out some sort of basil drink (we dubbed it the Basil Refresher) that I believe was just basil and ice blended together with maybe some honey and lime? Delicious! I’ll have to work on recreating it now that it is warmer in California.

These blessings are everywhere in Bali and we saw one being placed while we were waiting for our room

Once we were unpacked, we hit the streets of Ubud. We quickly realized Ubud is where the shopping is at. There were so many stores with so many cute things! It was actually a little overwhelming… If you’re going to Bali and plan on shopping, I would do some research before or, if you’re anything like me, you’ll abandon ship pretty quickly. I didn’t do much shopping but, out of necessity, I bought a few shorts (and a dress and a romper, if I’m being 100% honest…) because it was so damn hot there and I had regrettably packed a long, flow-y dress for the next day. I’m not kidding, this California summer dress is a winter Bali dress. You DO NOT need layers in Bali.

We stopped for a lunch of salads and beer and then continued down Jl. Monkey Forest (the main street in Ubud). Along the way, we popped in for gelato. We stocked up on more bottled water and sunscreen at a connivence store. And finally, the allure of a mister drew us to stop at a street side cafe for mojitos and a side of French fries.

Sweaty babes!
After a lot of walking, we opted to go chill by the pool instead of visiting the Tegalalang Rice Terrace, like we originally planned. Although while we were swimming, we started to regret the decision. Don’t get me wrong, the pool was nice (especially in the heat!) but part of the reason we came to Ubud was to see these epic rice fields everyone kept talking about. (When asking for recommendations before our trip, multiple people told me I had to visit Tegalalang.) We had a cooking class scheduled for the next morning at 9:30am but, not wanting to miss out, decided to go to the rice field before.

Balinese chicken and rice for dinner

The following morning we woke up before the sun and took our scooter to the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. This was probably my single favorite hour of our time spent in Bali. The ride there was cool and traffic free. We read online that the field opened at 7am and that it is a nice place to have a coffee. We arrived at 7am sharp but none of the cafes were open. Oh, well, we thought as we trucked down the steps hidden within the cafe paths. You can see Tegalalang from the road but nothing prepares you for it’s beauty until you get down those cafe steps.

I can only describe the rice terrace as a dream. It’s so gorgeous, it almost doesn’t seem real. I felt like I had fallen asleep and was magically transported to this lush, green oasis. I was practically euphoric. The delicate blades were about knee high and still had dew on them. Mike and I giddily walked down into the belly of the terrace and then up to the other side, in awe the whole time. The scenery was breathtaking and a romantic place to be with your love. Especially because, aside from a man in a speedo, chopping away at some of the blades (assuming he lived or worked there) and a man jogging up and down the fields (talk about a scenic run!), we were happily the only visitors there.

Putting off going to the rice terrance until the morning turned out to be the best decision because it wasn’t scorching hot yet. There isn’t really shade and you’ll want to walk around. I definitely recommend hitting this gem up in the early hours!

We made it back in time for a quick but indulgent breakfast on our patio. 

Next on the agenda was our cooking class at Casa Luna. My former dance teacher, Sarah (founder of Bali Body Pilates), recommended taking a cooking class here and I jumped at the opportunity. We went on Wednesday so the menu included:

  • Balinese chicken satay
  • Beans in coconut milk
  • Lawar
  • Corn fritters
  • Gado-Gado
  • Fragrant yellow rice

The class was great; it was interactive and informative. Our instructor was friendly, funny, and knowledgable (pretty much everything you want in a teacher!). The food was, of course, NOM. Although we used shrimp paste, which I wasn’t the biggest fan of but Mike didn’t mind. They also served a refreshing homemade hibiscus iced tea, made in house with nothing but hibiscus flowers and lime. #allaboutit

The cooking class lasted the majority of the day but we made a point to quickly stop by Monkey Forest (self explanatory!) before leaving. We were probably the worst visitors though, deciding that the monkeys were actually frightening. You could buy bananas to give to the monkeys (which we did) but they get aggressive when they see you with one. Instead of letting them crawl up us, Mike and I developed a tactic of just chucking the banana away from us (mine usually paired with a squeal, let’s be real). Anything to keep the monkeys away! 🙈

We scooted home after and luckily, again, arrived back in about one hour. It was nice to get away for a mini adventure but I was happy to see Mike’s family again. We joined them for happy hour on the beach and, over Mai Tais and bottles of Bintang, told them about our Ubud adventures.


Check back for a final recap of our last days on paradise island, coming soon!

Potato Head Beach Club

Read about our first few days in Bali here.


On Monday we woke up early and went straight back to The Shady Shake. I’m telling you, this was my favorite place in Bali and I could have eaten here everyday for the rest of the trip.

For breakfast, I started with a iced coconut milk cappuccino. Bliss! It was the perfect combination of creamy and coffee. I also ordered the tomato and avocado toast topped with poached eggs and a side of gluten free bread.  (The bread turned out to be so dense and filling, I skipped the eggs.) Mike ordered a drool-worthy smoothie bowl and an iced matcha green tea latte.

Gimme dat bowl

We had to be back to our villa by 9:30am because our scooter rental was being dropped off then. Traffic and driving in Bali seems insane. Before we went, I read on Natalie Dressed that there were scooters everywhere. Although I was excepting the crowded, slightly chaotic, streets, I didn’t anticipant actually getting on a scooter myself. My adventure-loving man had other plans…

Mike was really excited about the idea of renting a scooter to drive us around on and honestly, at first, I just didn’t want to let him down. I hesitantly agreed to the scooter and followed through with getting on the back of the bike with a when in Rome mentality backing me. Plus, the fact that Mike has his motorcycle license from before we started dating put me more at ease.

Fortunately my instincts were spot on and Mike was great at driving the scooter. I felt safe with him driving (even the few time I squeezed him tightly when a car or other scooter got a little close for comfort). After our first right turn (which were the hardest because you have to cross both lanes of traffic since they drive on the other side of the road in Bali), Mike was zipping around like a local!

We took the scooter to Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak. It was only about 30 minutes away but hard to miss. We drove by it a few times before finally locating it, which isn’t the funnest thing to do your first time mastering a scooter but again, Mike was a champ.

When we walked into Potato Head, I was like, honey, I’m home! It had all of the elements of a perfect vacation day for me. There was a huge infinite pool overlooking the beach. On one end of the pool was a swim-up bar and the other had a section where the water was ankle high that you could lounge on. There were day beds poolside, a few bars scattered around, and big, open areas to sit and eat and drink. The club was casual with a hint of luxury. It felt secluded but not snobby. Perfection!

And a perfect day it was.

We started the day in the bar with a round of cocktails. We also ordered “chips and guacamole,” forgetting we were in an Australian influenced country. When our order came out, Mike and I smiled and shook our heads, realizing our mistake of ordering French fries chips and guacamole instead. Oh, well!

After our snack, it was pool time! (Side note: the day beds are available first come, first serve. We arrived around 11am but it was already too late to get a bed. You have to be there right when they open to score a bed. We put our names on the list – #14 in line! – anyway and ended up getting a bed around 4pm that afternoon.)

The water in the pool was nice and the view of the beach wasn’t hurting anyone! About a hour or so in we decided it was time for another beverage. Since Mike was driving the scooter back, we kept in PG. I ordered a watermelon juice (YUM! I can guzzle watermelon juice down faster than you’ve ever seen) and Mike got a quintessential island-vacay drink: coconut juice in a giant coconut.

We splashed in the pool a little bit longer before stopping for lunch. I ordered nachos and Mike got a crab sandwich. Both were great! (I was surprised at how much Mexican food I ate while in Bali but this California girl is not complaining!)

We walked down to the beach after. The water was warm and gorgeous. We entertained ourselves by watching for these tiny crabs that come out of little holes on the beach. Here and there, you’ll see a ball of sand thrown out from the hole and you know a crab is in there, digging his home deeper.

I also haggled for the first time while we were on the beach. There was a lady selling traditional sarongs and I knew I wanted one for myself and a few other people at home. I had read online not to go into haggling without knowing how much you will pay before. I quickly set a number I was comfortable with in my head and walked up to her. After a little bit of negotiating, I walked away with my sarongs at the price I set.

We were about ready to leave back to our villa when called for a daybed. So we had one last (virgin) drink and didn’t regret leaving a little later (even with the traffic we hit on the way back). Having a daybed the whole time would have been great. It’s comfortable and convenient to get out of the pool and just go plop down on your bed for a rest or to read. If we’re ever back in Bali, we’ll be sure to get there right at opening.

There was a lot of traffic on the way back to the villa, which made for a more stressful ride. But once you’re on the open road, it’s quite peaceful scooting around all of the rice fields.

Although, nothing could prepare us for the best, most beautiful rice field we were about to discover… Stay tuned for our two day adventure in Ubud coming up!

Bali!

“Morning!” He said, with his mouth half full of breakfast bites. The older Balinese man was sitting outside a small convenient store we’d passed dozens of times already that week on our walk into town.

“Morning!” We replied, matching his enthusiastic greeting.

He gave us a thumbs up and a toothy grin in return. I smiled back.

It was our last morning in Bali and the heat hadn’t become unbearable yet. We were on our way to get smoothie bowls – a nice morning ritual we developed there – to take to the beach.

We arrived in Bali one week and one day prior. The island of black sand beaches and warm ocean waves. Congested streets with scooters and small cars beep-beeping everywhere. Kombucha tea and stray dogs on every corner. Seemingly endless organic food and tap water you’re warned not to drink. Hot. Humid. Lush.

After over a hour in rush hour traffic (which takes on a whole new meaning in Bali but more on that later), we finally arrived at the villa we were staying with Mike’s family. We dumped our suitcases in the living room and drenched our skin in bug spray. I changed from LuLu leggings to shorts and we were out the door to dinner.

The entrance to our villa

The humidity in Bali is no joke. The short walk to restaurant was sticky as my body tried to adjust to the new climate. But when we arrived at The Lawn, an open beachfront eatery, I finally felt like I was on vacation.

We caught up with Mike’s family over cocktails and dinner. Then, later we all sat outside near the pool for a nightcap. It was the perfect start to our holiday!

The next morning we woke up earlier than expected but jet lag has no rules. The villa we were staying in had staff who graciously cooked us breakfast every morning. But first, coffee.



Mike, his dad and I walked up the street to Mangsi where I ordered an iced coffee. There was’t anyone in there but us and it was taking ages to make. I mentioned to Mike that maybe I should have ordered something on the menu instead of asking for an iced coffee. The two guys working there seemed a little confused about my order. I saw them take out a cocktail shaker and gave Mike a worried glance… Little did I know I had nothing to be worried about! My iced coffee turned out to be one of the best I’d had. 

After breakfast, Mike, his sister and I headed to a Hatha yoga class at a studio nearby called The Practice. We thought the class was only a hour but realized after it was a hour and a half. It went by so quickly though and the studio was gorgeous! I loved practicing there. The instructor did a nice job of mixing movement with mediation. In my opinion, she didn’t overly concentrating on only breathing and just siting there. I’ll admit it, I am a bit of a vain yogi and care more about my flow (and toning aspects!) than the mediation.

“yoga accepts and yoga gives”
Post yoga pic
After yoga, Mike and I went for lunch at Little Flinders. Mike’s family had been there the day before for lunch and everyone liked it. There were so many cafes to try, recommendations are key! We both ordered salads and Mike loved his but mine was just okay. I still think it’s worth going and checking out though.

We met everyone back at The Lawn a little later for a round of drinks. This is the only day we had rain while we were in Bali. I have to say, I actually didn’t mind it but I’m almost always a sucker for rain.


After drinks we opted for a casual dinner at a pizza place near where we were staying. Surprisingly (idk why I assumed pizza in Bali would be different than pizza in the US; neither are Italy!), the pizza here was really good. Sitting outside and munching on slices while sipping beers was a nice end to our first full day in Bali.

The next morning there wasn’t a rain drop in sight and it was HOT. After breakfast, we all walked to a local market nearby.  On the way there Mike and I spotted a kombucha place and stopped to buy a guava booch. It was so good and a much needed refreshment! By the time we got to the market, I was sweating like I’d just finished an intense workout. I bought a couple bracelets and a cheap, cute dress while we were there but it was too hot to stay for long.

Instead we opted to go back to the house and get in the pool! Sweet relief from the heat. After splashing around for a while, a few of us walked up the street for a mid-afternoon snack at Taco Casa. Here we ordered the best sangria and nachos to split.


Dinner that night was at The Shady Shack, by far my favorite place we went to in Bali. The Shady Shack was a quick walk from where we were staying as well (a huge benefit of our airbnb was the location!). They serve only vegetarian food. Nom. We sat outside among the trees (and shade during the day) at a big wooden table. Mike and I split an appetizer that had different dips (including hummus, a carrot dip, and another that I can’t remember), crackers, and a variety a vegetables. For my main, I ordered zucchini noodles with spinach – although, truth be told, the appetizer would have been plenty of food.

The desserts all looked drool worthy but we were stuffed. All the more reason to return to The Shady Shake before we left; which we did, multiple times…! After dinner, it was time for bed. The sun went down around 6pm there and we found this often made it seem a lot later than it actually was. It become a routine to be in bed by 9pm and up around 7am. Although, because there was so much beauty to see in Bali, I didn’t mind one bit!


Check back to read about our day at Potato Head Beach club. 

 

[Eat] Dad’s Luncheonette

“I can’t believe we are at the beach this late!” I remember shouting to my mom years ago, in the pitch black night. “We should make this a tradition.”

My friends (who were basically my sisters), Amanda and Kristina, excitingly agreed. It was the Thursday of Thanksgiving. After dinner and dessert and dishes, my mom had casually mentioned driving to the beach. We thought she was joking. There was no way we were lucky enough to get to go to the beach this late. Holiday or not.

But she wasn’t joking. We piled into the backseat and drove to the coast, singing and waving our hands to Hotel California on the way. I had that giddy feeling you can only get from doing something completely unordinary and unscripted. As far as my teenage brain was concerned, this was the thrill of a lifetime.

We have yet to return to the beach late at night during the annual thankful Thursday. The night blissfully remains in my memory, not morphing into a tradition after all. However, this past weekend, I discovered something almost as delicious as being a teenager, out past bedtime with your feet in the cold sand. And it’s called Dad’s Luncheonette.

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Dad’s Luncheonette is a small eatery off the coast of Half Moon Bay. The kitchen is housed in a train caboose and there are a few chairs and counters within the wood fence built around it. There was a slight chill outside – as to be expected on most days, for most Northern California beach towns – but huddled close together in line, within the fence, the wind was blocked. The day was nice.

The menu is limited but everything looked tempting. Mike and I both ordered a beer and the Hamburger Sandwich. (Although there is “melty cheese” on it… which would make it a Cheeseburger Sandwich, right?) We also spilt an order of the Mac & Cheese with chips.

There’s a reason their website mentions the food is meant to be “enjoyed quickly, messily, on [their] patio…” Our sandwiches were absurdly messy and the patio is tiny; so eat quick – with a lot of napkins – and move along for the next group of foodies to enjoy Dad’s.

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Get there early because things sell out quickly
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Mike at Dad’s!

We ended up taking our lunch to-go and ate across the street at Half Moon Bay State Beach. (Note: there is a $10 parking fee at this beach.) When the sun was out, it was just hot enough to be considered a nice day. However, even with the occasional cloud coverage, the beach and the view was so pretty, there wasn’t room for complaining.

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California Girls

In between gusts of wind and sips of beer, I quickly devoured my cheese hamburger sandwich. It was messy and juicy and satisfying. The bites of fried egg with the combination of burger, melty cheese, and Dad’s sauce was perfect. The grilled bread complimented the sandwich so well, I didn’t even mind that it was white bread and not wheat or sourdough. (#healthyeaterproblems)

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Too hungry to snap a better picture

And after? the mac & cheese. THE MAC & CHEESE! Creamy, ooey and gooey. Plus, the crunchy house-made potato chips on top? Next. Level. Mike and I both commented that we should’ve got our own instead of sharing one. The ultimate compliment coming from two sharing-loving people like us…

The food was delicious and satisfying. It’s a splurge meal but not one that you should feel guilty about. After all, almost everything is organic, homemade, and local.

The beach on Thanksgiving night never became a tradition but there’s no doubt that eating Dad’s Luncheonette, seaside, should become one!

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Playing Kubb after lunch (which was harder than it looked with the wind!)

PS. Speaking of beaches, I’ll be posting about our trip Bali this week!

PPS. Dad’s Luncheonette is where it’s at but this isn’t a secret. We waited 1 hour to get our food so don’t come starving! (However, the place might have been so packed because of this article that came out in the SF Chronicle the week before.)

Also, a friend we were with is lactose intolerant and Dad’s didn’t allow for any substitutions; including taking the cheese off the hamburger sandwich. The girl working the register mentioned they had become overwhelming behind by making modifications to orders but, if someone has an allergy or intolerance, you’d think exceptions could be made… Luckily our friend had medication with him and was able to still order/chow down.

[Meatless March] Week 4 + Overall Recap

**LATE POST**

Last month I tried eliminating meat from my diet. I’ve already not much of a meat eater but I was finding animal protein popping up more in my diet and thought a nice reset was in order! However, my last week of a Meatless March was … less than ideal. Around the 23rd I started to feel hungry all.of.the.time. And then I started to feel weak; like I was physically missing nutrients. That night I had a steak burrito for dinner from Chipotle. I instantly felt better. Clearly I failed at not eating meat in March. And my steak burrito wasn’t my only offensive…

Meat Eats in March:

  • During the first week Mike and I went to happy hour and orders a grilled cheese. When it came out, we realized the menu hadn’t listed the meat in it! I’m positive I could have returned it but I wasn’t in the spirit of wasting food. We ate it and I felt a little bummed that my Meatless March wouldn’t be a full 30 days without animal flesh…
  • I didn’t have any meat again until the night after St. Patrick’s Day when I went to my friend Leslie’s house for dinner. Her mom kills it every year with a traditional corned beef and cabbage meal. Couldn’t resist it. #sorrynotsorry
  • When we were in Truckee, a girlfriend and I decided to spilt lunch. She’s not a vegetarian and I didn’t want to make things difficult. We ended up ordering the chicken nachos and a spicy kale salad that came with bacon.

I ended up eating meat a handful of times throughout the month. Honestly I was eating meat a lot more before though; having almost fully abandoned my weekatarian ways since the holidays.  Although I slipped up during this challenge, it was, in fact, a great reset and a reminder to eat meat when it’s worth it (when you’re at a special dinner or out with friends) and not mindlessly.

I fully standby reducing meat consumption. We don’t need to eat animal protein everyday (and certainly not at every meal) however, having said that, sometimes a girl just needs a steak burrito… you feel me?

Until the next challenge…!

-a

Friday Favorites

I’m taking a page post out of Heather’s (from Life in Leggings) playbook and coming at you this week with Friday Favorites!

Wild Cherries Coffee Shop

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We were in Truckee last weekend (nearby where we stayed with Mike’s family over the holidays) and I found my new favorite coffee shop; Wild Cherries Coffee House. It’s local. It’s cheap. I think the name is cute. And omg, the food. There was an array of delicious looking nomz from enchiladas to hummus wraps. We went there for breakfast and I ordered a breakfast sammy with egg, pepper jack, avo, and tomato. They made it fresh so it took a little bit but it was worth every minute waiting. I also snagged a few of their “day olds” for $1 and didn’t regret it for a second.

New Moon Natural Foods

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Another Truckee gem! I saw this store back in December and wanted to check it out but didn’t have the chance to so, after coffee at Wild Cherries, I was like, we’re going to New Moon now!! Talk about an epic store! They had an extensive beer selection, lots of booch (kombucha), a variety of different sea vegetables (including kombu, which I’ve been looking for to try in a Magic Mineral Broth), and a whole bunch of natural beauty products; which brings me to…

Clay toothpaste 

I’ve heard about clay toothpaste before and, honestly thought, GROSS! every time. But, for some reason, this brand appealed to me while I was browsing New Moon. I bought it and guess what? I love it! I don’t think I can ever go back to tubbed tooth paste. My mouth feels so clean after using the clay version. Like, just-left-the-dentist-clean y’all.

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I got the peppermint kind but they have cinnamon as well, if that’s your preference

Note: I made everyone who went to Truckee with us try it and I was the only person who liked it. I will admit the taste takes some getting used to BUT the after clean feeling can’t be beat!

Milk Thistle 

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My friend Lydia told me about milk thistle and it’s liver detoxifying powers last year. I pretty much immediately bought a bottle at Whole Foods. I took a few after I popped it open but wasn’t consistent. However, I just started taking them again and … can’t really tell if they are working or not (hah) but I like to believe they are. I think that my liver is getting a little boost of love every morning!

FIRST Books 

This happens to me all of the time. I buy a book, read it, love the author, and then realize it is her second book. Certainly not the end of the world but it does mess with my orderly-OCD mind… Anyway, I finally bought 2 (first) books that I have been meaning to for a while now.

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I Like You Just the Way I Am by Jenny Mollen (my actual spirit animal) and Carry On, Warrior by  Glennon Doyle Melton

I reviewed their seconds books here and here, if you’re interested.

Fresh flowers

For our anniversary, Mike gifted me with a future 3 month supply of fresh flowers. Love!! March’s batch was hand delivered from my babe (via Whole Foods) this week.

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Bedroom flowers
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Kitchen flowers

They are so pretty and the colors are perfect for that end of winter/beginning of spring transition. I like to spilt bouquets up and place them in different places around the house so I see them more often. 🙂

Up next? Bali! We’re leaving next Thursday so I’ll be spending the weekend packing my summer dresses and bikinis.

[WWAW] Cali. Quesadillas

When Mike and I celebrated our anniversary in Coronado earlier this year, we had these delicious California Stone Fired Quesadilla that I’ve been wanting to recreate.

They are lighter than a normal quesadilla because the cheese isn’t the leading role. The additions of hummus and veggies give this recipe a lot of volume without all of the fat of a fully cheese stuffed quesadilla. The thin layer of hummus make them creamy and adds protein.

Plus, any dish that takes me back to a vacation-mode is a win in my book!

Note: there aren’t any real measurements for this recipe – just pile on as many ingredients as will fit! Also, get creative and sub things you have on hand 🙂


Cali Quesadillas

Prep time: 10 minutes â€“ Cook time: 15 minutes – Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of lavish bread (feel free to make the whole pack and freeze for later!)
  • hummus
  • sliced mushrooms
  • handful of arugula
  • shredded cheese
  • sliced black olives (optional)
  • salsa verde (to dip)

Directions:

  • Spread a thin layer of hummus on lavish bread while a pan is heating up on medium heat
  • Lightly grease pan and place lavish bread on pan, top with ingredients, fold over
  • I find using another pan or pot as some weight works well to melt the cheese quickly without burning the lavish
  • Flip after 3-4 minutes and cook the other side
  • Serve with various dips (and an optional side of chips)