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Through the Lens of a Food Enthusiast: A Conversation with Crystal

persian food

In this captivating interview, we delve into the culinary journey of Crystal, an avid food enthusiast based in San Diego. From her longtime favorite restaurant to discovering dishes and forging connections with restaurant owners, Crystal shares her experiences, notable recommendations, and valuable advice for aspiring food bloggers. Join us as we explore the diverse flavors she has encountered along her food-filled path.

Famished: Crystal, thank you for joining us. Can you tell us why you decided to start blogging about food?

Crystal: During the pandemic, I took a break from work to focus on our young son's needs. However, I started feeling a bit restless. My husband suggested finding a creative outlet, and that's when we began supporting local businesses and restaurants with extra money we had. I started taking photos and sharing them on social media and Yelp to spread the word about these fantastic eateries. This inspired us to create a dedicated food account to support and showcase these restaurants, and we've been enjoying this journey for over two years now.


Famished: That's wonderful to hear! So what’s your favorite dish from a restaurant?

Crystal: Choosing just one favorite dish is tough because we love exploring different ethnic foods. As I am half Persian but unable to travel to Iran, one of my top choices at a Persian restaurant is Abgoosht or Dizi. It's a delightful lamb and chickpea hash that you mash and separate from the broth, creating a unique experience. We also adore Chinese food and always seek out xiao long bao (soup dumplings) whenever we come across them.


Famished: Your culinary journey sounds fascinating with a diverse range of flavors. What are your favorite food festivals?

Crystal: I have a special fondness for the 626 Night Market and County Fair, as they offer incredible culinary experiences. Unfortunately, attending festivals has become challenging in current times.


Famished: We're excited to hear about your food journey. Let's start with a restaurant you've been frequenting for a while.

Crystal: Absolutely! Grill House is a place we've been going to for years. When it opened, we were thrilled to meet the owner. San Diego has a vibrant Persian restaurant scene, and some of the higher-end places are our favorites to dine at.


Famished: Is there a specific dish from Grill House that stands out?

Crystal: Definitely! Abgoosht is one of our favorite lamb-based dishes served in a dizi (a traditional clay pot). It features stewed lamb and chickpeas, which you mash together. The broth is separated into a different dish, where you can add turnip bread and herbs to make your own wrap. It's a traditional and enjoyable dish. While there are many more restaurants to explore in Los Angeles, I haven't had the chance to visit them all yet.


Famished: We'll definitely make sure you get to explore more! Can you tell us about some noteworthy places in the San Fernando Valley (SFV)?

Crystal: You have to check out Han Korean BBQ in Burbank. It's a must-visit spot.

Han Korean BBQ
Han Korean BBQ in Burbank

For Santa Monica, Lotus Dim Sum is worth mentioning. They serve delicious dim sum throughout the day, allowing you to indulge in these delightful treats at any hour.

Lotus Dim Sum
Lotus Dim Sum at Santa Monica


Famished: Do you happen to know the owner of Grill House?

Crystal: Yes, the owner recognizes us when we visit. I enjoy building relationships within the community, especially with ethnic restaurants. There's another restaurant, a Pakistani food joint, that unfortunately closed down but transformed into a food truck.


Famished: When you attend food festivals, how do you discover new dishes to try?

Crystal: I walk around, peruse the menus, and observe what other people are eating. It's always interesting to see what catches my eye and what others are enjoying.


Famished: You mentioned taking food seriously during the pandemic. How long have you been on this food journey?

Crystal: I've been exploring the food scene for about ten years, but it was during the pandemic that I began taking it more seriously. I started by taking food pictures and posting them on Facebook. My husband noticed my passion for food photography, and in April 2021, I created a food-only page. By supporting struggling restaurants and consistently sharing my experiences, my page started gaining traction late last year.


Famished: That's wonderful to hear. What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring food bloggers?

Crystal: Find your own style and don't feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing. Focus on sharing your honest experiences and develop your own unique style.


Famished: When you visit a restaurant, do you often connect with the owners?

Crystal: Yes, we usually ask the owners about their stories and how they got started. Building those relationships is important to us. We stay in touch, follow each other on Instagram, and support one another by sharing our experiences.


Crystal's culinary journey in San Diego showcases her deep appreciation for flavors and her dedication to supporting local restaurants. Through her connections with restaurant owners, Crystal builds a sense of community within the food scene, fostering genuine relationships. Her journey is a testament to the joy of exploring new flavors and sharing those experiences with others.


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