I promise that I am alive and well. Since moving out to LA, I’ve had to search for a new apartment, while starting a new tv project. These last few weeks have been more busy than planned and I really haven’t spent much time in the kitchen. Honestly, most of my meals are the Whole Foods variety (food bar, sushi, vegan chocolate chip cookies).
When Thanksgiving approached, I knew I’d be spending my first thanksgiving without family. This was a first for me, but I had a lovely time with an old best friend and many of her new ones. The menu was sent around via email, and I knew that none of the sides would be vegan, so I made two things that I felt would satisfy me and hopefully a few others. The spread was your usual Thanksgiving fare: turkey, gravy, green bean casserole (we’ve never had this in my family thanksgiving), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and salads. I brought a kamut berry pilaf with butternut squash and cauliflower, balsamic roasted brussels sprouts, and vegan pumpkin pie. Still staying at our friends until the first of December, meant that I had limited cooking supplies and no serving dishes. Unfortunately, there were no food photos documented, but it was a pretty good night with new friends.
Of course, I did really miss my family and their typical 20+ person Thanksgiving day. My family always invites great friends for Thanksgivings at my aunts farm in NY and we keep our Christmas a little smaller. I am counting down the days…
In the meantime, I will be working and then heading back to Detroit to pick up the rest of our belongings. We will be living in an empty apartment for two weeks before. We aren’t too worried about the lack of things, considering V and I will both be working long days with meals fed to us. I will be sure to get some eco “paper plates and cutlery” though for the few meals we eat at our new home.
The day after Thanksgiving in West Hollywood, I headed over to the M Cafe on Melrose. For some reason, I wasn’t in the mood for anything but sushi. It was really different from typical veggie sushi rolls. My favorite was the soy marinated shiitake mushroom roll. The others were quite unique as well, filled with lotus root, shiso, umeboshi, and more.
One thing I realized after the fact, was that the sushi was pre-made (probably hours before) and was sitting in the glass case. This may be fine for the side salads (an especially delicious looking kale and peanut salad), but the sushi had become a little hard by the time it was served to me. I enjoyed the flavors, but want to try something new next time I venture to M Cafe.
I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving with family and friends! I promise to try to be more exciting come holiday time with some veggie filled meals. Some of my favorite NY restaurants will definitely be visited at the end of December and I can’t wait.
-Do you always have family Thanksgivings? Have you ever done an alternative type Thanksgiving?
-What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? This year I went without the peas cooked with spinach and onions that someone always makes at my family Thanksgivings. I also missed the veggie friendly stuffing, since the only option was from the turkey. Next year I will be sure to make those dishes happen in my life.
Okay, I’ve never eaten a reuben. A friend of mine ate one too close to Cross Country practice in high school and I’ve been turned off ever since. Today I realized what a shame that was when I ventured over to Locali in Hollywood.
For the last two days, I’ve been apartment searching, without much luck. I’m still getting to know many of the area’s and have pretty high standards of living. Someone asked what I was looking for and when I replied, “hardwood floors, a good amount of natural light, and large closets,” they said, “are you from the east coast?” I didn’t know those were east coast trademarks for apartment searching, but I guess I fit that stereotype in the renter’s eyes. In actuality, that was my least favorite apartment that I viewed today, and will not be calling back tomorrow. I did fall in love with one that was a good $500 per month over budget. While driving around West Hollywood, I saw a “for rent” sign, an open door, and just had to investigate. The kind old gentleman was still working on the new tiles in the bathroom, but this two bedroom with large closets and hardwood floors was heavenly. It even had a dining room connected to the kitchen and brand new kitchen appliances. He insisted on walking me around the apartment before telling me the price. That was not a good idea. Tomorrow I will be exploring Los Feliz and Silverlake. Hopefully I will have more luck (more square footage for the amount we aim to pay).
But back to the food…
After lunching with Lynn last week, I was intrigued by Locali, after hearing her rave about their reuben. Mid apartment searching, I decided to drive over for a quick pick me up. The cute little store/cafe was filled with all sorts of veggie goodness from raw desserts, liz lovely cookies, prepared salads, and kombucha. They even had refrigerated sprouted breads, faux-meats, and lots of dry goods.
I ordered half a sandwich with a side of the special of the day side salad, a mediterranean cole slaw. While it was prepared I looked around the space (Lynn has more photos of the interior and exterior). You would never have expected to find this little gem in a strip mall, but it really surprised me.
The Reuben can be made vegetarian or vegan with marinated tofu deli slices, melted swiss (or daiya mozzarella for the vegan choice), sauerkraut, & smothered with delicious homemade vegan russian dressing. Not usually a fan of rye, I loved this marbled rye bread.
The half sandwich was all I needed. It was warm and full of flavor. This is a sandwich I will definitely return for. It was one of the first times I’ve had a vegan deli slice I’ve enjoyed, and the daiya, sauerkraut, and russian dressing were a great contrast of tastes. The menu catered to both vegans and omnivores with antibiotic and hormone free meat and non-GMO meat alternatives. The produce is organic and local, as well as the bread. Other sandwiches I will be sure to go back for:
The ExtraVEGANza Panini- grilled vegetables, fresh spinach, and artichoke tapenade on six grain
The Hungry, Hungry Hippie- hummus, red pepper, arugula, & red onion on six grain
The Vegan BLT- tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, stone ground mustard, & vegan mayo on lightly toasted sourdough
The Baaadasss Breakfast Sandwich- vegan sausage patty, vegan cheddar, vegan chipotle sauce & maple syrup on multi-grain english muffin
The Sprouted Hemp Bagel Sandwich- vegan cream cheese, tomato, cucumber, greens, & onion on sprouted hemp bagel
The Vegan Brekkie Burrito- multi grain tortilla stuffed with scrambled tofu, vegan cheese, black beans, bell pepper, & red onion topped with vegan sour cream & chipotle
and those are just the sandwiches…
The kale salads massaged with olive oil, sea salt, lemon, walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts and cayenne or cranberries, walnuts, and agave are drool-worthy. There are about 5 other vegan friendly salads and specials of the day. I couldn’t believe this menu. Too good be true? I will test that theory.
Oh Locali, I will return soon. Maybe with a meat-eater in tow, who is all for the ethically raised.
-Do you have a favorite sandwich? Is it your own or from a restaurant? I wasn’t always a sandwich person, maybe because I was never a fan of deli meats. Since switching to a plant-based diet, I’ve grown much more fond of sandwiches. Give me some good bread, a nice spread, and some mouth-watering veggies, and I am good to go.
-Do you search for places that feature organic and ethical ingredients?
This summer, I was helping a friend on a film that was filming mostly nights for two weeks. It was right in the middle of two projects, and before I knew it, I had a cold. It was summer and yes, I had a cold. Filming all nights for more than a few days never leaves you feeling good. I told a friend/coworker and she said, “you need to start eating real food.” The funny thing is that I was. I ate oats per usual most days with healthy fats and fruit. Lunches and snacks of salads, sandwiches, nuts, dried, and fresh fruit were considered not “real food” in her mind. This confused me. She told me I was living the “LA mentality of eating” and that hurt. Usually, I try to laugh off people’s claims that plant-based diets are unhealthy, but she was a friend. Not wanting to get all defensive, I told her why I eat the way I do and that normally, I feel great. I said that my cold was bound to happen from being overworked and decided that it wasn’t worth discussing further. She still continued to try to feed me the craft service food consisting of licorice (and other candy), cookies, granola bars full of hydrogenated fats, and chips.
I am not the kind of person who forces others to eat the way I do, so I was shocked that she was trying to make me eat foods that make me feel worse. It was hard and I was hurt, but I’ve learned since to just be quiet. I wasn’t attacked, but more upset by her non-understanding. In the past I have felt attacked and I’ve talked about it before. It is hardest when it is from those we love and other times, it isn’t worth discussing.
So when the day started yesterday, I was craving some “real food.”
After the delicious bowl of buckwheat I had at Body in Santa Fe, I was determined to find some. Remembering that I had seen the kaia brand before on Whole Foods shelves, I stopped by the night before with luck. They had two choices of buckwheat granola, the Dates & Spices, and Raisin Cinnamon. Supposedly, they also have a Cocoa Bliss, but I couldn’t find it.
In the morning, I poured a bowl of the Dates & Spices that I topped with coconut milk, banana, raspberries, and almond butter that Lynn gave me (how did she know I was without my favorite nut butter!?).
I wasn’t as confident it would keep me as full as my typical morning steel-cut oats, but it did. I didn’t love the date chunks because they were a little too big and hard, but I still adore the buckwheat. Next time, I may try another flavor.
A few hours later I met up with a best friend I went to high school with who moved out to LA almost a year ago. Although she is not a veggie, she was intrigued by the restaurant I brought up, Real Food Daily, especially since it was across the street from where we were shopping. The menu was a little confusing at first, but I had fun describing cashew cheese, vegan sour cream, and tempeh to her. Leading by example that vegan food is delicious is really the way to do it. Ironically, she had a tastier meal than I.
I ordered the RFD burger, described as a tempeh vegetable patty with sautéed onions, lettuce, tomato on a rustic roll. It came with a side salad and I requested cashew cheese on the burger. There were much more creative things on the menu, but like good italian restaurants, where the bread has to be good for it to be a quality restaurant, I feel vegetarian places should have a great veggie burger. Unfortunately, this burger left much to be desired. It was not my kind of burger. My friend tried half and she said it resembled raw meat because of the red color. Of course I didn’t let the color throw me off, but it was the texture that I wasn’t a fan of. I prefer a firmer veggie patty and this was just a little to soft for my liking. The side salad had a ginger dressing with maybe tahini. It was tasty.
My friend Erin had the Spicy BLT wrap with tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and spicy vegenaise in a spinach wrap. I had a bite and much preferred her lunch. After having a vegan BLT the day before, I went a different way, but hers was pretty tasty with the spicy dressing. It would have been even better on sliced bread, a little heartier maybe. The best part was that she thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now I feel bad writing this after not loving the veggie burger, but the cookie was not the best either. These are better. The cookie was a gluten free vegan chocolate chip cookie. Maybe it was the gluten free flour or not enough fat, but the cookie was much too cakey for my ideal cookie. I like a chewy crispy chocolate chip cookie and this just wasn’t it.
Of course we still ate our halves and were left satisfied with some sweetness to finish off our lunch.
The experience outside the restaurant afterwards left a much worse taste in my mouth. As a new yorker, I am used to homeless men and women, but was not expecting someone to spit towards me while reaching for my friends purse, causing me to run into ongoing traffic. We left dry and safe, but it was a little too much reality for me yesterday. We were both in a little bit of shock from the situation.
That didn’t stop us from seeing the movie 127 hours, which was much more intense. I should have known this from the start when I heard it was directed by Danny Boyle of 28 days later and Slumdog Millionaire fame. The true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston getting caught under a boulder while climbing alone was a reality I could never imagine and James Franco did a flawless job portraying the horror. He brought the movie along alone and I was squirming in my seat the entire performance. Yes, that isn’t your typical good movie scenario, but I was emotionally affected in a good way. I definitely recommend seeing this heart-wrenching story and amazing acting.
Afterwards, I rushed over to meet V for a late dinner of sweet potato fries, pita and hummus, and salad. It was really just a way for us to relax at a bar near the studio he is filming by missing rush hour. I am already having a real hard time with it. LA needs a real subway system ASAP.
- Do you give up on a restaurant after a not-so-great dining experience? Do you give it another shot? I am definitely still intrigued by Real Food Daily. I just might not have made the best menu choices and overall enjoyed the atmosphere. Next time I will try the Santa Monica restaurant since we dined in the West Hollywood one yesterday.
- Have you seen any good films recently? I know that the good ones usually come out in the next few months, but I haven’t been too interested in seeing many of those out now.
- Do you feel like you get criticized because of the way you choose to eat? How do you handle it? I’ve since told my friend more about why I eat the way I do and she really has adjusted her words and thoughts. I know it is hard to get everyone to understand that you eat for not only your health, but also for your mind, environmental beliefs, etc., but sometimes it is worth it to discuss.
Pumpkin is one way I’ve been reminding myself it is fall since being in LA.
Yesterday, I couldn’t resist a little dark chocolate, since I was still without my nut butter of choice, almond butter. The chocolate did top a little peanut butter though. I needed my nuts in some way or another.
I also drank some delicious Fair Trade coffee out of the Peerless Coffee mug V got me while visiting his family in the San Francisco. That was about as close to San Francisco I got for the Foodbuzz Festival. I may have needed some cheering up and energy. Afterwards I realized I have been coffee-less since the road trip. I guess I just don’t need it when not working or driving cross-country. Still, my body isn’t full adjusted to Pacific Time yet and I have a hard time waking up past 6. Of course V’s early call times might have something to do with it. We tend to fall asleep just after 10 o’clock most week nights…
I yoga’d a little before getting to business or as close to as it I’ve come these last few weeks. Waiting for things to happen is certainly nerve-wrecking , but I had the perfect afternoon lunch planned to distract myself a little…
with the lovely Lynn of The Actor’s Diet. For lunch, she picked out Sante La Brea, a cute and rustic place with a relaxing vibe and lots of vegan fare. The menu really catered anyone, and this is something I am already really appreciating about LA restaurants.
Although breakfast served all day was appealing (I’ll be sure to return for the organic vegan cornmeal pancakes with blueberries and banana), we both craved a sandwich. Whenever a sandwich is served panini style, I am all for it. I’ve been wanting a panini press for much too long so I had to get my fix somehow. We both went with the BLT with tempeh bacon and avocado. Yes, I’ve been eating these at home. Yes, I am still loving them.
Don’t get me wrong, this was good, just not the best BLTA I’ve ever had.
me, courtesy of Lynn and her wrap-up post.
The half sandwich, half salad combo was ideal though, because I really am a sucker for vegan desserts.
I’m not your typical cake lover, but when I saw the Jack-o-lantern cake on the menu (and waiter recommended), I was down. Pumpkin twice in one day is a little too heavenly to pass up. Pumpkin frosting, enough said. When the cake came, Lynn split it down the middle and we shared this beauty. The cake wasn’t exactly fluffy and I read the menu again realizing olive oil was the fat of choice in the cake part. The best layers were the two dark gingerbread-types spiced with allspice and nutmeg. It really hit the spot.
It was such a wonderful lunch with a new foodie LA friend. I also came home with a goodie bag I will share later! Check out her post for more photos of Sante La Brea. Oh, and a few words about vegan food satiety; I was full for so long, that I had to force myself to eat the veggie sushi I picked up from Whole Foods for dinner. It must have been the cake…
After parting ways, I ventured over to the LA outpost of one of my favorite NYC stores, Opening Ceremony. It was dangerous really. I fell in love with the Sunday’s Best rings, and many shoes and bags I can’t quite afford. I torture myself so. I will be doing some more today with a best friend who moved out here 6 months before I. Therefore, I must go and fuel myself for some LA adventures. Hopefully I can convince her to go to one of the restaurants/cafes on my LA vegan-friendly restaurant list. I promise I will share a more complete one soon.
-Are you a cake person? Do you prefer fluffy cakes or heartier desserts?
-Do you let yourself window-shop? Do you find it much too torturous? Who am I kidding, I definitely try things on sometimes too…
You know you are staying at a bachelor pad when…
The only spices/seasonings in the cabinets are salt and pepper.
The only pan for baking is a pizza pan.
The kitchen drawers are filled with wires/cords, pens, paper, and take-out menus.
The only thing in the freezer is a frozen pizza.
There are no kitchen towels or oven mitts.
The spoons are the size of serving spoons.
There are no measuring cups or spoons, but plenty of bottle openers and shot glasses.
All the cookbooks have a note from who it was given from on the first page.
There is no olive oil, vinegar, or other stapes, but there is vodka.
With the lack of what I would call kitchen essentials, I am sticking to quite simple meals these days. There are a few things I’ve picked up, but because we are aren’t in our own place yet, I am waiting for our real move to stock up. Around the holidays, it seems like we will finally be able to pack up all of our apartment goods, to ship west.
Of course there were three things I picked up for my morning steel-cut oats: himalayan pink sea salt, organic vanilla, and organic cinnamon.
The fourth addition…organic canned pumpkin (just one can, I swear).
I don’t know how I remembered to drive west with my chia seeds, ground flax seeds, and the Newman’s Own Organic Berry Blend dried fruit, but not the cinnamon and vanilla.
These strawberry oats were my first attempt without the two, and that morning, I decided that I just couldn’t last these two months without them.
Oh, I have been without my favorite raw almond butter, keeping to peanut butter on my morning bowl. It just isn’t the same. I will probably cave soon.
Ironically, I bought a bunch of these art deco iced tea spoons in Amarillo, TX during the road trip. I love how long iced tea spoons are, they remind me of sundae’s. I don’t think I ever actually used an iced tea-spoon for tea, but they are the perfect spoon size. It is funny to see which spoons V and I choose for soup dinners. I always reach for the smallest so that I can’t savor the flavors longer, and he opts for the largest so that he can get the most in at once.
I don’t know what it is about the California air, but I’ve been all about the hiking and yoga. I admit, part of the reason I started hiking was because it was the only place I could get cell service in Topanga, but the other is the peaceful feeling I have above the city. I can see the ocean and the skyscrapers in opposite directions. The first few hikes left me pretty sore considering they were seriously steep inclines, but I’ve been sure to do at least 20 minutes of yoga a day to stretch out my legs. Rodney Yee’s Ultimate Power Yoga is a great workout. I’ve worked my way up to doing four of the five twenty-minute segments at once. My friend who is out-of-town (and letting us stay here) has the Yoga Burn, which I have yet to try, but am excited for. Although I am missing running dearly, I can tell my knee is not yet healed. Our location in Topanga Canyon makes it almost impossible for me to attempt a run. The first few 4 miles would be all hills and therefore painful, so I am almost grateful that we are this deep in Topanga. The plan is to drive to the water and park along the beach when I feel ready to run again. I can’t wait to run along the coast, it is one of my favorite places to run, with a nice cool breeze and the sound of crashing waves.
For now, I am eating my California Veggie Sandwiches on my Yoga Mat. Okay, not really, but I loved the green on green action. This was a sprouted wheat bagel filled with tofutti cream cheese (without the partially hydrogenated oil), cucumber, avocado, sprouts, and cherry tomatoes.
Yesterday’s was even better with my favorite vegenaise instead of the “cream cheese” and tempeh bacon, a California style BLTA of sorts.
I’ve gone out for Indian and Chipotle (with wardrobe friends and bosses) but haven’t been inspired yet to travel with my camera, especially when meeting a director I may potentially work with. All in all, things are pretty good over here, minus the fact that I missed the Foodbuzz festival over the weekend for work prospects. Sometimes we all need a little reality reminder.
How upsetting is this early darkness caused by Day Light’s Saving…it really is a buzz kill for food photography in the evening. But I wanted to show you an example of the simple dinners I’ve been eating. I used to love eating Macro bowls at Souen when living in NY, and this is a re-creation of sorts. I don’t eat macrobiotic meals that often, but when I do, I feel wonderful after eating them. LA seems to have many macro restaurants as well. Most of them are vegetarian friendly restaurants on my growing LA restaurant list.
-Have you ever tried Macrobiotics? At a restaurant? Cooking yourself? How did it make you feel?
-What is your favorite veggie sandwich combo?
-Do you have any recipes with minimal spices? I am thinking of buying a few for the next month but have such a hard time choosing. So far I am leaning towards curry powder and cayenne. I also love roasting veggies with rosemary and thyme.
After leaving Santa Fe, we were off to finally see the Grand Canyon. Considering it was going to be both me and my mom’s first time, we drove straight through Flagstaff, saving it for the next morning. I was tempted to stop in the cute town that reminded me of Colorado with mountains in the background.
The drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon was full of beauty.
Our lunches (courtesy of Body) were eaten en route. Although they were just as delicious as the other meals we ate there, I was too focused on the nature to snap a photo. I had simple spelt wrap filled with steamed kale, sweet potato, and ginger sauce. It was definitely a dish I will be recreating.
Soon after our arrival at the Grand Canyon, we were off to walk along the canyon on the designated trails. The view is one I will never forget. My fear of heights went to the wayside while I walked two miles with my mother, who was seemingly more fearful of the deep canyon.
The shadows were stunning.
Oh, the curves of these trees.
After the sun set, we headed to El Tovar for dinner. We had made reservations from the road after hearing it was the finest dining in the area. Unfortunately, we both were left disappointed with our priciest meal. The only vegan dish was a stuffed portobello that was filled with a veggie concoction (when I asked the server what it was, he said blended veggies…not so appetizing). I ended up eating half of one of the two portobellos and dipping two pieces of bread into the tomato sauce that covered the plate. I had stowed my camera away, but believe me, it was not a pretty dish. The highlight of the meal was the company and the conversation about our travels.
It was much chillier than I had expected. Look at my lovely blue-tinted lips…
We slept long and hard that night. In the morning, my mother awoke in a hurry to watch the sunrise. I don’t think I was fully awake when she attempted to get me to come along, but I wanted to stayed in bed. Looking back, I am sure it was amazing, but I must have needed sleep for the full day of driving ahead.
Soon after she came back, raving about the sight, we were off to Flagstaff for breakfast. Due to the one and a half hour drive, I ate on a banana to keep my stomach from growling.
Rachael had recommended Macy’s for vegan scones in Flagstaff. I ended up reading the happy cow reviews and was sold on the idea after such a disappointing meal at the Canyon. The place was filled to the brim with locals, which is always a good sign in my book. It was a Friday morning, but everyone was dressed casual in beanies and cold weather clothing. I felt like it was a weekend morning.
Sadly, the person before me had taken the last vegan scone of the day. It was a cinnamon coconut scone that was much at least the size of my hand. I am sure it was heaven.
But this vegan lemon blueberry bran muffin…was another winner. It was soft (and yes, moist) like all muffins should be with a slight lemon flavor that didn’t overpower the blueberries. I wish I had ordered a few of the other baked goods to go though, such as a vegan sticky bun or blueberry crumble bar. They all looked splendid.
My mom, never a big breakfast person, went with couscous that was topped with almonds, raisins, and apricots. The coffee was the best of the trip.
For the road, we ordered a Vegan BLT with avocado and tempeh bacon. It was easily the best sandwich I’ve had in a long time. The vegan basil mayo and thick hearty slices of bread made the sandwich. We were both full from one half (and the blue corn chips on the side). Macy’s Coffeeshop, Bakery, and Vegetarian Restaurant was another highlight of the road trip. If you are ever driving through Flagstaff, or going up to Grand Canyon, try to stop by. It is worth stopping by.
I’ve hiked behind our temporary Topanga Canyon home (also happens to be where I get cell service),
I’ve had mexican from the only mexican restaurant in topanga canyon,
I’ve eaten sushi from the overpriced local organic grocer (at least the sushi was cheap),
I’ve sweated out toxins at Yoga Desa
and followed the class with “The Best Veggie Burger Ever” from Waterlily cafe (the chipotle vegenaise sauce…died).
Have I gone for a run. I am still treating myself well and every day I have to tell myself this.
After all, it is pretty refreshing to wake up and look out the window to this.
I’ve never heard this much wildlife in my life. Each morning, I hear an incredible amount of birds, squirrels dropping nuts on the roof, and then scurrying into the trees.
I hike up to the top of the mountains and it is just me and the lizards, birds, and bugs. After being pent-up in our Detroit Loft when not working this past year, I heard no wildlife, just the sound of the slow-moving train. My body is still on east coast time so I have no problem waking up with the rest of the living creatures in Topanga Canyon. Each day, I’ve been sitting on the porch with my morning bowl of steel-cut oats (still searching for raw sprouted buckwheat). I am sure things will soon start to get hectic, but for now, I am soaking it all in.
Of course, it is now 9:30pm and I feel like it is past midnight. Instead of curling up in bed, I’m heading out for my third night of Topanga Mexican food (talking business with a former boss-fingers crossed).
I promise I’ll venture out for some more Veggie meals in LA soon. Vegan Mofo is still fresh in my mind (Happy 4th Day!), and I’m compiling a list of places I hope to visit for the special vegan month of food. Here is what I’ve come up with so far:
le pain quotidien (Lynn wrote about the Avocado, Chickpea, Alfalfa Sprouts and Tahini Tartine and I am dying to try it)
-Do you have any LA vegan food suggestions? It doesn’t have to be vegan only, but vegan friendly would be lovely.
I’ve read about Vegan Mofo for a few years now, and I think it is finally time to participate. When first reading about it, I wasn’t quite 100% vegan, but over the last two years, I’ve been eating entirely plant-based foods. It’s about time, right? A Vegan Month of Food sounds right up my alley, and hopefully will give me more blogging stamina for the month of November. This month I will be writing about vegan food, as per usual, and following the Vegan Mofo idea of writing at least twenty veg-related posts over the month.
Another great thing about writing about vegan food, is that LA has quite the abundance that I can’t wait to discover. Although, I am starting late, at least I am aiming to give it a shot. Maybe I can even get a spot on the 2010 blogroll…
Since I am now on Pacific Standard Time, lets count this as my first post on November 3rd.
Let’s talk about Santa Fe. I pretty much fell in love.
It was so cold the morning I wanted to take photos that I froze my fingers while leaning outside the passenger door of the car. You see, road-tripping means getting to places at night and often leaving in a hurry the next day. My mother had plans to meet up with a best friend from college at 8 a.m. (a healer of sorts who has cooked at a vegetarian restaurant and taught yoga classes), but obliged me by driving around for a few minutes before returning to the restaurant I had fallen in love with the night before.
After our quick drive around , we were back at Body.
Let’s rewind to the night before.
Once again, I went to Happy Cow in search of healthy veggie filled meal to remember. My mother’s iPad helped on the road, and I found myself loving the Body of Santa Fe site. There was a studio, spa, cafe, boutique, and more. It seemed like a place both myself and my mother would enjoy.
The boutique charmed with sustainable products, organic materials, and amazing style. There was a local jewelers work with stones that we both loved (for a hefty price).
Of course there were many raw/ health foods sold in the cafe.
Most importantly, the food was everything I hoped for (and more).
Due to the surprisingly chilly temps, I promptly ordered a chai tea with homemade nut milk before dinner.
It warmed me up fast and the spice was perfect. It reminded me that I need to start making homemade nut milk’s again.
My collard green burrito was another delectable choice. It was filled with cashews, flax seeds, basil, salsa fresca, sun-dried tomatoes, sea salt, garlic, tamari, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar, and came with a small salad. I should have asked for avocado as well, because I am sure it would have brought it to another level.
The star of the evening was this beauty.
My mom ordered the Asian Curry with brown rice, stir-fry vegetables, tofu, coconut curry sauce, and nori. Although I thought the dish might turn out to be bland, it WAS NOT. The coconut curry sauce was the best I’ve ever had. Honestly, I’ve never had a better stir fry. The dish was so warming and included cauliflower, cabbage, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, and more. I would go back to Santa Fe just to taste this one more time.
Dessert also made its way into my stomach.
To follow along with the previous nights raw theme, I went with the raw pumpkin pie. I told the waiter that I am a chocaholic and really wanted the raw/vegan brownie sundae, but he assured me I should venture elsewhere. This was creamy and full of pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavor with a raw date crust. I did miss my chocolate fix though.
Fast forward to the next morning, we headed back to Body for breakfast in the cafe separated from the dining room we had eaten the night before.
My mom (left), her best friend, and I sat talking about her time in Santa Fe, cooking in the Body kitchen when it first opened, teaching Yoga in the Adirondacks, and her healing abilities. I’ve never talked to a healer before, and it was so refreshing to hear stories of how she can tell when things are wrong with an individual and the paths of healing.
Instead of my usual warm breakfast bowl of oats, I tried the Body Ambrosia which was raw sprouted buckwheat, dried fruit, bananas, fresh seasonal fruit, coconut, agave, and fresh nut milk. Again I was amazed by the nut milk. It was creamy perfection. This breakfast turned me into a raw buckwheat convert. I just need to get my hands on some this week. Amazingly, it also kept me full as long as a typical morning bowl of steel-cut oatmeal.
And for the road, a raw chocolate covered almond butter cup that I ate as we entered Arizona.
Yeah, it had to happen. I am happy it did. Bliss.
-Have you been to Santa Fe? Did you have a good experience?
-Do you tend to go for chocolate desserts at restaurants? Or other types?
-Ever met a healer? Today I saw a sign down the street from our place in Topanga for Reiki. Now, I am intrigued…
Now it is November 4th, day 4 of vegan mofo. I’m trying.
I can’t remember when I first read about 105 degrees. I am a big fan of Pure Food and Wine in NYC (raw food done right) and wanted to try the midwestern version of haute raw food. The night before leaving Detroit, I had searched my travel source for veggie food, Happy Cow, and was reminded of this wonderful mecca of all things raw food. It was getting dark when we arrived and we were quite hungry. Naturally I forgot to take a photo of the exterior of 105 degrees and my 50 mm lens, but it was like nothing I expected for Oklahoma City. Next door was a yoga/ballet studio, and the surrounding buildings were all modern to the core. I love hippie-esque veggie food havens, but I really adore the modern cleaner aesthetic as well.
This was my mom’s first time experiencing a raw food restaurant and I am happy to report it lived up to the hype. She told the hostess that we would like to be seated to view the kitchen and we both wanted everything we saw the chefs prepare. Watching raw food chefs prepare the food is a completely different experience than your typical open kitchen. The chefs pulled things from dehydrators, blended sauces, and expertly and artistically stacked components of each dish.
The menu really overwhelmed. Everything sounded amazing but we finally decided on two appetizers and one entrée to share. After all, we knew dessert was a must. Raw desserts are almost always delicious.
The kimchi dumplings with a sesame ginger foam were like nothing I’ve ever tasted. The filling was a nut cheese that was flavored with ginger. I can’t wait to recreate these.
Next, I tasted the Mezze starter. Raw Falafel may just be the best falafel I’ve ever had. My mom and I definitely detected almonds in the mix. They were warm from the dehydrator and delicious with the raw hummus. The other components were “eggplant bacon,” and a hemp seed tabbouleh. The eggplant bacon was smoky and crispy. This is another reason I dream of owning a dehydrator (or I will bake in my oven on the lowest temperature with the door open).
Somehow, I completely blanked when it came time to order our main course. I knew that I wanted to forgo the heirloom tomato lasagna because of trying a raw version before at Pure Food and Wine (great!). My mother took the reigns and ordered the Pad Thai (Vegetable Noodles, Enoki Mushrooms, Candied Almonds).
The dish really was this neon, matching the spice factor. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any enoki mushrooms, but I still thought it was a great meal. The vegetable noodles were zucchini, which I’ve prepared many times at home with my spiralizer. Honestly, I wish we opted for some of the other choices. Some things I saw that looked delicious were:
Butternut Squash Ravioli, Wilted Spinach, Wild Mushrooms, Savory Ricotta
Open Faced Portobello Sliders 3 ways, Lettuce, Tomato, Cashew Cheddar
Caramelized Vegetable Pizza, Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Onions, Kalamata Olives
The best part of the meal (in my chocaholic opinion) was our dessert. The Gianduja Tasting included Hazelnut Fudge, Hazelnut Budino, Hazelnut Butter Cup, Hazelnut Semifreddo, and Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake. I will say it often, but raw desserts are some of my favorite things to eat. Chocolate in its pure form with fruit, nuts, and coconut is all you need to be satisfied. I have never been a cake lover, but a dark chocolate flourless cake person. The fudge and semifreddo were my favorites. I am not usually an ice cream person but the semifreddo with hazelnut flavors reminded me of the nutella gelato I ate in Tuscany when I was sixteen. We left full and happy.
I am now seriously considering getting one of Matthew Kenney’s books, especially Everyday Raw. The connecting shop was filled with all sorts of raw food treats, eco jewelry, kitchen gear, and cookbooks. We also peered in the academy window before leaving for the night. Learning how to create these wonderful raw meals is such a culinary art unlike any other. I would love to try it someday.
If you are ever in Oklahoma City, please go to 105 degrees. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Next up on my road trip will be Amarillo, TX and Santa Fe, NM. I must tell you though, I am still thinking about Santa Fe. It is a place I am dreaming to return to.
I am getting settled in our little temporary home in the middle of Topanga Canyon. We had no internet or cell service until today, but I can’t wait to spend more time exploring LA’s neighborhoods while thinking of a place to move to next. I’d love suggestions.
Hiking for cell service has happened these last few mornings. This isn’t the kind of hiking I am used to. I’ve hiked at Runyan Canyon before, but hiking just behind our place in Topanga means strenuous inclines and no people in sight. I’ve even gotten frightened a few times from hearing rustling along the trail. Unfortunately, the beautiful view gets ruined as I head back and meet many downhills that kill my knee. Hiking uphill doesn’t seem to bother my knee at all but the way down hurts the whole way. Tomorrow I am trying a yoga place a few miles down the canyon that our neighbor teaches at and I hope that doesn’t create any pain.
-Do you do yoga when trying to get over an injury? Any suggestions on types of practice? I’ve been a hot yoga devotee in the past but it has been a long time since I’ve done any classes. This studio has many types I have never tried and I am up for trying a variety.
-Have you eaten at a raw food restaurant? Or made a raw meal? Do you have any favorite recipes or places?
I made it to Los Angeles Friday night and I am still thinking about all of the amazing places we visited on the road from Michigan. I can’t wait to share it with you this week in a few posts. Although we only had time for dinner and driving around each city, I felt like I found some areas I would love to go back for a longer length of time.
Before leaving Detroit, I had made hummus and veggie wraps, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and packed lots of snacks (apples, bananas, dried fruit, almonds, walnuts, larabars, purebars) for the road. On our first night, we made it just past St. Louis, Missouri. Due to out planned dinner the following night at 105 Degrees in Oklahoma City, we opted for an easy dinner of Whole Foods sushi and salads.
We drove just past the city of St. Louis, but we made sure to drive around the area a little while after grabbing dinner. The houses outside of the city were so charming and reminded me of Boston suburbs. After driving through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and then entering Missouri, we were beat. The following day, we drove through Missouri and made a stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma to explore vintage stores and a take a coffee break. A vintage store employee recommended Shades of Brown and my mom and I both loved its funky artsy vibe.
Any place with kombucha and almond milk is good with me. Unfortunately, I had asked my mom to grab me an iced green tea while I ran to the restroom and read the signs above after. It is never a good idea to drink too many beverages when on a road trip. There is always next time.
We sipped our tea and espresso while sitting outside admiring the fall leaves. I was sad to leave the fall of the midwest and east coast but at least I got to enjoy September and October.
Jumping back into the car, we were excited to only have a short trip to Oklahoma City for dinner.
Tomorrow I will share with you our delicious meal at 105 degrees.
Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to attend the Foodbuzz Festival as planned this upcoming weekend. Sometimes life gets in the way and after traveling for a week, I have some things to attend to in LA.
There were so many bloggers I was excited to meet and I really hope that I will have another opportunity in the future. I hope everyone else has a wonderful experience in San Francisco! I really wish I could be there with all of you who are going.