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.