Before I go on to tell you about the nothing but stellar lunch we had today at Native Foods, I want to remind you that at 8:30 PM, Earth Hour starts. I urge you to turn off your lights for one hour to take a stand against climate change. I know it is getting down to the wire, but I encourage you to read more about it and take action.
Now, I must go on about some delicious eat’s at Native Foods…
V and I had no set plans for our Saturday, but wanted to get out of the house after a lazy morning and routine trips to each of our banks for the lovely deposit of our weekly paychecks (exciting stuff). If that isn’t treat-worthy, I don’t know what is. We both are overworked these days, and after week-days filled with eating wraps and veggie burgers en-shopping-route, I knew I wanted a special meal at one of my favorite places. Native Foods is much more a lunch place than dinner in my opinion, simply because you order at the counter, and then the food is delivered to your seat.
Last time we dined there it was quite a bit warmer, allowing us to dine al fresco. Although I didn’t bring the camera along, I want to share with you the description of these two dishes I fell in love with:
Asian Lettuce WRAPS: Lettuce cups filled with a stir fry of our Original Seitan, mushrooms, jicama, garlic and ginger, topped with crispy rice noodles. Spicy garlic soy sauce on the side.
Saigon Wrap: Braised lemongrass tofu, lightly pickled daikon and carrot twirls, brown and jasmine rice, cucumber strips, fresh cilantro and basil, tangy peanut sauce in an organic whole wheat wrap (see Quarry Girl’s photos and reviews).
Unfortunately, the Saigon Wrap must have been a seasonal specialty because it was no longer on the menu and I was a tad disappointed. But it could have been a good thing, because I had to go with something new instead of sticking with a favorite, as I often tend to do.
V is always a nacho lover, and although he didn’t fall in love with the Veggie Grill’s version, he was ready to give another vegan variety a go.
Nuevo Native Nachos: Homemade organic corn tortilla chips covered in black beans, Native Taco Meat, Native Chipotle Crema, Native Cheese, salsa fresca, and guacamole. Topped with organic corn, green onions, and cilantro.
Ok, now these were good, really good. We both were raving about the chipotle crema, native cheese, and taco “meat.” Of course the other toppings were wonderful as well, but the stars were the nut cheese, cream, and meat. They were all perfectly spiced and we left the plate clean.
For his main dish, V continued with the southwestern trend and ordered Baja Surf Tacos, their sea-friendly “fish taco”. Two soft grilled corn tortillas stuffed with crispy battered Tempeh, homemade surfer sauce, salsa fresca, shredded cabbage and guacamole. I was too into my own meal to taste his, but he made his way through them. I do know that he preferred the nachos more, devouring that portion of his food first. He mentioned that he “wished there was more filling, and less toppings.”
I opted for the Scorpion Burger, Chef Tanya’s original burger! Homemade Tempeh blackened with chipotle sauce, lettuce, carrots, avocado and onions. Later, I read on the menu that I could have went with caramelized onions (oooh, next time!), but I still really enjoyed this. As a tempeh lover, I was all about this chipotle seasoned tempeh. And Amen to avocado which I mashed evenly across my burger and doused with ketchup. The Native Sweet Potato Fries were my side, and like V, I demolished the dish in its entirety.
I couldn’t have imagined a more delectable lunch. We both were talking about it the whole walk to the car. Of course, it leaves me with a smile on my face when my omni boyfriend is just as happy as I with a great vegan meal.
And next time I will order dessert… I still have yet to try one and they are always on display, looking fantastic. Next time I would love to order a salad or bowl to leave room for dessert.
- Backyard Bill, another favorite blog, photographs one of my favorite designers, Isabel Marant in her workspace. I dream of having my own studio space one day. I not yet sure entirely what it would be for, but having a studio/loft work/art space in general is an inspiring thought, isn’t it?
- What are your thoughts on the Vegan Martha Stewart episode? Are you liking the vegan-hype brought on by Oprah?
Okay, I must go…turn off the lights. Dinner in the dark followed by a film. Go do it too.
On Friday, I turned 25 years old. I couldn’t believe it myself really. Everyone around me reminded me that I have lived a quarter century. The designer I am currently working for, said jokingly, “You are 25, and what have you done?” Of course I took the comment with all the humor it was meant to bring, but at the same time I felt myself reflecting on what I’ve made of myself in my lifetime. As a true pisces, I am a dreamer, who may need a little push to be brought down to reality. Although I tend to dislike the realities of certain life’s musts (finances, big purchases, not so lovely jobs or people), I have recently learned how to deal with them, making my day-to-day life happier. Instead of putting the big decisions and problems to the way-side, I have tried to work with them so that I can bring more even-ness to my emotional and rational sides. So, in my 25 years, I feel as though I am still learning and always evolving to try to be the best version of myself. This doesn’t mean that I will continue to try to be perfect version I once aimed to be, but to be accepting of my ways so that I can know how to approach situations in the best way I possibly can.
For my birthday dinner, I had no set plans. I usually would come up in my mind with a scenario of how I hoped the occasion to pan out, but on Friday, I decided to just be. When I was exhausted from the hard week and days work, I drove home, with no set agenda of what was to come. My brother called, saying he was open for dinner and was in the mood for indian food. I didn’t care where I went, instead I wanted to be with some of the people who mean the most to me. Two of the three most important men in my life, my boyfriend and my brother, were there with me to celebrate my 25th year at a not-so stellar (service-wise) indian restaurant. We shared samosas, naan, and I ate a delicious green coconut vegetable curry. I came home with a full belly and full heart.
The next day, V and I were lounging around, when I brought up the idea of heading to my new favorite veggie spot, Cafe Gratitude. Like last time, I went with a cooked dish, instead of the tasty sounding (and looking) raw dishes. This time I had the “I AM FORTIFIED” with sautéed seasonal vegetables,kale, quinoa or local brown rice topped with a choice of sesame-ginger, garlic-tahini or thai- almond sauce. The waitress suggested ordering two of the sauces, the garlic-tahini and the sesame-ginger. I wish both sauces were served on the side, but the garlic-tahini was already poured all over the dish when it arrived at the table. However, I was very pleased with the warm bowl filled with quinoa, kale, and veggies like butternut squash and mushrooms. Instead of taking out the camera, I decided to focus on the moment, without the visuality that a camera brings. V went with the “I AM WARM-HEARTED,” -Grilled organic polenta with fresh puttanesca sauce, topped with cashew ricotta and brazil nut parmesan. Polenta is one of the dishes that remind V of his childhood, and he seemed very pleased with his meal as he finished every last bite. Since my last visit to Cafe Gratitude, I have been desiring another one of their amazing desserts. Always one to order a chocolate based finish to my meal, I went with the “I AM BLISS” when my waitress said she had finished one in a mere 3 seconds the night before (not so sure if that is possible). It was a CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CREAM TORTE with Chocolate hazelnut mousse topped with whipped cream on a pecan, choc-chip crust.
It was the best birthday dessert I could have hoped for with a lovely nutty crust and not overly sweet creamy chocolatey center. Next time I will have to grab one of their sweets, a truffle or rawmond joy, for the road.
And I am grateful for a happy and healthy 25 years of life. I am grateful for all the people in my life who have made an impact on me. And what have I done? I think the more important question is, what will I continue to do in my life? How will I try to affect those around me in the way they have positively affected my life?
Now, I am off to a rainy sunday lunch with my best friend from college and all I can think about are the sweet potato fries ahead. Hope you had a lovely weekend. Happy almost spring!
-What are you grateful for?
-What have you done, and hope to do? Do you think that is a loaded question (of course it is!)?
Oh, the life of a freelancer. These last few days have been full of surprises, but it looks like I will be getting a new car and starting a new job on Monday. Since I haven’t had much time for cooking (minus the few bowls of oats, salads, and brown rice and veggies) around here, I decided to fill out the A-Z questionnaire that’s been making its way around the blog world. I hope you enjoy.
A. Age: 24…but almost 25…
B. Bed size: Queen. I hardly move when I sleep so it is perfect for two.
C. Chore you dislike: Taking out the trash. Cleaning the bathroom. I really want to hire someone to do it when I am more financially sound.
D. Dogs: The dog I had since 8th grade, Bessie, died this summer. I was heartbroken when I heard since they were away at our summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. At least I know she had a wonderful last few weeks playing on the beach. I can’t wait til I can get my own puppy, but my work schedule is much too intense.
E. Essential start to your day: When I have enough time, I try to always sip warm lemon water. Oatmeal makes my morning most complete though.
F. Favorite color: Green. I love almost all shades.
G. Gold or silver: Both, depending on the outfit I am wearing.
H. Height: 5’3. Can you believe I am the tallest in my whole extended family. I was the shortest growing up, and didn’t grow until late in high school/college.
I. Instruments you play(ed): Doesn’t everyone play the recorder for one year of elementary? I then played Clarinet (because my name is Claire…I had to!) until I moved from NY to Laguna Beach.
J. Job title: Costume /Stylist Assistant and wanna-be part-time blogger.
K. Kids: Not for some years, but yes please.
L. Live: Los Angeles since October.
M. Mom’s name: Jane
N. Nicknames: Dille (pronounced “Dilly”-my middle name and mother’s maiden name), Claire bear, love (from my brit father), Pear (best friend Mandy calls me this), Claireness, Clairezy…more I can’t think of.
O. Overnight hospital stays: None yet…*knocks on wood*
P. Pet peeves: People who litter! I find it so repulsive. When farmer’s don’t tell you whether their food is organic or covered in pesticides at the farmer’s market. When people don’t use turn signals, and lots of honking on the freeway. People in LA tend to have serious road rage, even during stopped traffic.
Q. Quote from a movie: “This song explains why I’m leaving home to become a stewardess.” (Any guesses?)
R. Righty or lefty: Righty.
S. Siblings: Sister -Lily (two years younger), Half Brother- Sean (nine years older)
T. Time you wake up: Hmmm…toughest question considering I work on all different projects where I may have a 5 am call time, or 2 p.m. call time, etc. I tend to wake up around 8 when I am not working though.
U. Underwear: Not the biggest fan.
V. Vegetables you don’t like: I really like all vegetables when they are prepared right. I may have claimed to not like potatoes and carrots growing up, but that is no longer true.
W. What makes you run late: Los Angeles traffic mostly
X. X-rays you’ve had: Teeth, shins (had so many running related stress fractures), foot (broken foot from running as well), bone scan to see how many years behind I was in development growing up. I was two years behind most my age.
Y. Yummy food you make: Oats, Pancakes, Sesame Soba Noodles, Kale Chips, Muffins, and more.
Z. Zoo animal favorites: I am not such a fan but would prefer to see animals in their natural habitat. I was a fan of the Ocelot, when I studied the rain forest growing up. I loved that it was the littlest cat in the “big cat family.”
Questions for you:
- Is there a food you claimed to dislike growing up but actually like now? Pretty unusual, but I claimed to never like pizza. I wouldn’t eat it at birthday parties, etc. but preferred pasta or flat breads. I realize now it was because I wasn’t a fan of the goop-y cheese, and really love cheese-less pizza done right.
- Do you have a schedule that requires all different wake up times? How do you make it work? I still need to figure this one out. My crazy schedules mean that I am constantly trying to ground myself by eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day to keep my energy. Even the days where I wake up at 4, I need to eat breakfast somewhat early and find myself hungry for my dinner-like meal super early. The 14-16 hour days are the worst, so sleep is obviously a high priority, especially on the weekends.
I’ve been eagerly waiting for the LA outpost of the famous San Francisco restaurant, Cafe Gratitude, to open and today was the day. It happened that my good friend, and fellow vegetarian, wanted to meet for lunch so it wasn’t too hard to convince her to go to the place with the menu I’ve been dreaming about.
Before, we get to the delectable meal, I want to share with you something I’ve been missing lately.
For a few weeks, I’ve been thinking of getting some more pumpkin into my life before the winter season officially ends (even though it’s around 50-65 out in LA). After picking up a can of organic pumpkin, I knew I’d be making a full bowl of warm steel-cut oats to satisfy the craving. The usual mix of steel-cut oats, banana, coconut milk, chia seeds, cinnamon, and vanilla were cooked for 25 minutes on the stove top before adding 1/4 cup of pumpkin for the last few minutes. Although steel-cut oats have a recommended cook time of 20 minutes, I tend to cook them longer because I use more liquid than stated on the package, one cup of water and 1/4 cup of nut milk. The more voluminous the better. Raisins were added, as they are always a great compliment of pumpkin, but I couldn’t keep off some of our fresh berries so blueberries were thrown on there too. Oh, and nut butter…can’t forget that. Trader Joe’s organic creamy almond butter is the current addiction of choice. These kept me full until I sat down at the Cafe Gratitude table and was reminded of all the delectable choices. If you want to see some interior exterior shots, check out Lynn’s post on being the first customer.
Being a vegan, with what most of my family and friends refers to as a “restricted diet,” means that I am constantly navigating restaurant menus for the most vegan friendly or adaptable item. Automatically, I am thrilled to find a restaurant with a menu full of all vegan fare, but still, I can become overwhelmed with numerous options. This was no exception.
My sister and I waited for my friend while going over the menu and watching the environment around us. We both commented later about how nice everyone was in the restaurant. Not only were the servers wonderful, but the other restaurant-goer’s were moving around tables a lot and talking to others they didn’t seem to know. Maybe it was the excitement and enthusiasm over the organic, local, and vegan food free of common allergens like soy, wheat, and peanuts. I too was beyond excited for my meal to arrive at the table.
This was the first vegan restaurant I’ve been to without tofu or tempeh, and was intrigued by my sisters order, the “I am Extraordinary” BLT sandwich with sautéed maple coconut, romaine lettuce, sliced tomato, and avocado with chipotle aioli on panini bread. Usually, vegan BLT’s use some type of smoky tempeh to make up for the bacon, but the this one differed, using maple coconut (Lynn ordered the same sandwich and showed the interior) instead. I tried a bite and think the Chipotle Aioli made it the stunning sandwich it was.
My friend’s food went unpictured, since I was too hungry for mine once they all were brought to the table. However, she raved about her special soup, the cold Thai coconut. Of course I had a taste, and loved it so. To go with her soup, she had the “I am Dazzling” Caesar salad with romaine lettuce, avocado, brazil nut parmesan and capers with Caesar dressing. She texted me about 4 hours later saying she was still full. I am too. This is why:
I knew that I’d be back to Cafe Gratitude many times before the food even arrived, so I went with something comforting, knowing that I can taste my way around the menu in the future. My entrée came from the Cooked side of the menu (the Raw dishes sound truly amazing as well), it was the “I am TRUSTING,” a handmade corn tamal made with stoneground heirloom masa and butternut squash served with salsa verde (TOO GOOD!), black beans, and chipotle cole slaw.
The butternut squash and masa mixture was everything I hoped for. The whole plate got eaten so fast, my sister later commented that she wanted to taste it, but I seemed to into my meal to let her steal a bite. What can I say, it was bliss.
The real star was this heavenly dessert. It may also be the reason we are still full six hours later. The dessert menu wasn’t shown, but stated by the server. Here is one I found online with a few items that were listed. Generally, I am an all chocolate dessert girl, but since there were other things that sounded just as appealing, I chose a Chocolate Caramel “Cheesecake.” It was one of the “I am Cherished” cashew cream cheesecakes with a crunchy nut crust. The filling was like no other vegan cheesecake I’ve tasted. I will be sure going back for other play off’s of this dessert and to sample all of the others.
Now, check out the menu, and help me choose what I should order next time. I am already planning a return visit next week. Even better, if you live in the LA area, go there. I promise you won’t be disappointed.