A Fresh Dille

hello 25.

Posted in FAMILY, FOOD, VEGAN, WORK by clairedille on March 20, 2011

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!)?



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lots of gratitude.

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on March 2, 2011

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.

bananas for babycakes.

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on February 28, 2011

After our last trip to Babycakes, my sister and I were waiting all week for the bananas to brown so we could recreate their delicious banana bread. I have yet to purchase the book, as I am trying to make it through my other vegan cookbooks first, but that didn’t stop me from searching for the recipe online. Erin, the Babycakes genius, shared her favorite recipe on the bakery’s blog, however, the books recipe varied slightly. Referring to another favorite banana bread recipe, the Veganomicon Lower Fat Banana Bread, I decided to go with the recipe with more flour (the books version), so we could have a larger loaf with more banana. Instead of Gluten Free flour, we used Organic Spelt, which meant we left out the xanthan gum since it wasn’t needed. I also used coconut milk yogurt instead of the milk, and only used 1/3 cup instead of the recommended 2/3. I am more drawn to a denser banana loaf than a cake-y texture, so I was in favor of using coconut oil (in the babycakes recipe) instead of unsweetened applesauce (in the Veganomicon recipe) to lower the fat. We figured there was enough fruit in the mix, considering we used 4 large bananas to get the 1 and 1/2 cups of mashed banana.

After impatiently waiting by the stove to remove the heavenly smelling loaf, I had to wait twenty more minutes to flip it out of the pan. Those were difficult moments.

Once the first bite hit my mouth, I was perfectly satisfied. The texture and taste were ideal, everything I imagine banana bread to be.

The vegan chocolate chips really bring it to a whole other level. You should make it. I would recommend the cookbook on the banana recipe alone. But, if you aren’t sold yet, try the banana bread from the blog or the the book recipe.

As the loaf dwindles, I savor each piece, but am anxious about what tasty treat to make next. Spelt flour continues to impress me, but I am interested in trying some new flours soon. This recipe using Kamut flour looks amazing.

you have a favorite flour? I am not gluten-free, obviously since I use spelt flour, but I am more and more interested in gluten-free flours like coconut, garbanzo, etc. I’d love a suggestion of what type to try next.

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sibling bowls.

Posted in FAMILY, FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on February 26, 2011

After a crazy last few days of 4 a.m. wake up times and boring morning eats, I ventured into the kitchen this morning with two things on my mind. First, I heated filtered water for a few minutes and sliced a freshly picked lemon from the tree aside my apartment window. As I squeezed in the lemon juice and then sipped the warm glass of lemon water, I was reminded of how simple it is to feel a sense of balance in the morning. The routine of making slow cooked steel-cut oats came next, and I didn’t even have to ask my still visiting sister if she was also craving a bowl.

Since V went rather overboard on the amount of berries he purchased on Sunday, I eagerly poured a few more than usual on both our bowls. The usual mix of steel-cut oats was slow cooked with banana, chia seeds, nut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Lily’s was topped with a few vegan chocolate chips.

I went with a small spoonful of raw almond butter. It was grand.

The rain hasn’t really stopped in LA, and part of me is happy to have an excuse to stay in and be all sorts of lazy. I read words from the new-to-me site, The Well Daily, my lovely friend Danielle’s place of work and enjoyment. Each post left me feeling wonderful, and I was especially intrigued by the Ayurvedic Body Scrub idea. Creating homemade beauty products, with far less ingredients than store-bought, is something I’ve often wanted to try. Eventually I will get around to it. Ayurveda has always fascinated me, so I went on to take the linked quiz in order to find my Dosha. Although a few of the questions were difficult, making me feel as though I may be more than one option, I answered to the best of my ability. In the end I learned I was primarily a Vata Dosha, and therefore should eat mostly warm nourishing foods like hearty oats for breakfast. That seemed about right. Other things that balance Vata’s are nuts (nut milk and nut butter too), pureed soups, and cooked vegetables like beets, carrots, asparagus, and sweet potatoes. The expansive food list isn’t something I would necessarily follow, considering that I also have some Pitta qualities. Eating by the Vata Dosha would also mean limiting all raw vegetables and adding dairy to my diet, two things I don’t see myself doing anytime soon. Still, I do agree with many aspects that make me a Vata-Pitta Dosha, and am willing to start adding more Ayurvedic practices like yoga, meditation, routine meal times, hiking, and afternoon tea. As usual, the Ayurvedic cookbooks and recipes interest me most, and I’ve already found some tasty looking ones to try.

Ironically, my lunch was already planned for, and well, differed quite a bit from the Ayurvedic recipes I was reading most of the morning hours.

Lynn had mentioned that Chipotle was having a two for one offer and my sister and I were in the mood for two more bowls of delicious afternoon fuel. Chipotle may be considered fast food, but at least they do it with integrity. The salad bowls covered with fajita veggies, black beans, salsa, and guacamole are soul and belly-satisfying. Oh, and the chips, with a hint of lime and perfectly salted really make the meal complete. The two salad bowls and chips were just under $10, only a $5 a piece. That is what I am talking about.

Yum. I finished every last bite.

The end of the day warming meal was a shared roasted sweet potato (425 degrees for just under an hour), lentil soup, coconut roasted parsnips, and brussels sprouts.

You know dark chocolate was involved too.

– Have you ever read about Ayurveda and even found your Dosha? Did you agree with your Dosha balancing foods?

– Do you Chipotle? Of course it isn’t my food place of choice, but it doesn’t hurt to eat a veggie filled bowl with healthy fats and salty crunchy chips. It was amazingly satisfying.

Happy Weekend!

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I’ll be your sweetheart.

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on February 22, 2011

This is the reason I venture to Veggie Grill.

The Sweetheart fries are fabulous on their own, but the Chipotle Ranch is what really makes these so tasty. The dip is begging to be recreated at home. The fries are always well seasoned and perfectly hot and crisp.

Obviously there are other great things on the menu, but since I am not the biggest faux-meat eater, my past favorite order was a gigantic Quinoa-infused, “All Hail Kale” salad.  The kale is marinated with red cabbage, roasted corn salsa, agave-roasted walnuts with a ginger-papaya vinaigrette and blackened tempeh. It is so tasty.

This weekend, I opted for a new-to-me choice, the “Chipotle BBQ” wrap-style (usually sandwiches come on a wheat bun) consisting of shredded veggie-steak, marinated in tangy BBQ sauce, with chipotle ranch, caramelized onion, lettuce, & tomato. I guess I couldn’t get enough of the Chipotle Ranch.

As you can see, it was a tad messy, but delicious none the less. The more I eat seitan, the more I enjoy the texture. Although tempeh is still top on my list for veggie protein, it is great to try new things I wouldn’t make at home and this was a prime example. On the side I had some steamed kale with ginger miso dressing. That is another dip/sauce/dressing I need to make ASAP.

Originally, I was going to order the “Bali Bliss,” filled with Indonesian styled tempeh, sautéed and grilled, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and chipotle ranch, but V beat me to it. He requested his tempeh blackened and added avocado. That’s my kinda man.

Oh, and these should also be mentioned.

V had ordered one of his favorite things, Nachos, without me even hearing. Already pretty stuffed with sweet potato fries and half my wrap, I tried a few “Uptown Nachos” to see how the chili, VG-cheese, corn salsa, avocado, soy cream, and jalapeno topped chips tasted. The chili, avocado, and corn salsa were wonderful, but the “cheese” was a little too much for me. It kind of reminded me of velveeta or the type of “fake tasting” cheese they serve on nachos at sports events. V made his way through them though.

My sister was also in attendance, but I somehow missed a shot of her “Bean Me Up Chili.” It was a red and white bean stew with a touch of soy cream, and chopped green & red onion. The soup had crispy slices of toast on the side for dipping, and she said it was wonderful. That girl knows her chili too.

Never one to go without dessert, I ordered a large vegan chocolate chip cookie with walnuts for us three to split.

These were another winner and the perfect amount of sweetness after a filling meal.

Veggie Grill is the kind of place I really appreciate in LA. Not only is the menu entirely vegan, healthy, and filled with comfort-like food, but it is an ideal place for non-veggies as well. My sister and V seemed to enjoy their meals as much as I. We will definitely be back.

– Do you have good veggie places in your area? Are you hesitant to take friends and family with you in fear of it being “too healthy” or boring?

– What is your favorite type of Veggie protein?

pancakes for one. oats for two.

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN, WORK by clairedille on February 20, 2011

Ever since starting a commercial at the beginning of last week, I’ve been craving bowls of warm steel-cut oats. Waking up at 5 a.m. just doesn’t give me adequate time to prepare a quality bowl. Instead I’ve been eating packed overnight oats made with rolled oats, almond or coconut milk, chia seeds, banana, vanilla, cinnamon, and all the berries I can find in my fridge. After the initial craziness that takes place as soon as I arrive on set, I take a few minutes to eat my cold breakfast while the steamer heats up to prep the wardrobe for the day. Eating breakfast before 7 a.m. always makes me hungry  for lunch very early, as it should. I grab fruit, nuts, and all the bars in my snack drawer for days like these. By the time lunch rolls around (1-2 p.m.), I feel like I’ve eaten quite a lot for the day already. Of course that doesn’t stop me from making the caterer’s scratch their heads when I ask for anything vegan from the three entrée options of fish, poultry, and red meat. Usually this means I receive a plate full of the rice (or other grain) and whatever  side veggies they can find prepared without butter. I’m difficult, but that is their job. Commercials, with a much smaller crew, have less choice, but the quality is usually better than when they are feeding an entire film crew. This week I had a delicious meal of brown rice and beans topped with grilled asparagus, and a spinach, beet, and walnut salad on the side. It was one of the best catered meals I have had to date. There are also the days where I am off doing errands (returning wardrobe, picking up alterations, etc.) where I miss lunch entirely. These are the days I actually prefer, because I get to go off and find my own lunch from places I enjoy in LA. The best meals I’ve had while working were Native Foods and M Cafe. These are easily two of my favorite veggie places in Los Angeles. I can’t get enough.

As soon as the weekend hit, I knew oats would be on the menu. I still wanted to make pancakes for V since he prefers them over oats, but my sister chimed in that she also craved a bowl of oats after being without them all week. For the pancakes, I used my go-to recipe from Angela, the spelt pancakes. V has a pretty hearty appetite on the weekend mornings, so I doubled the recipe. He ate every last bite.

They were filled with bananas and walnuts and he poured delicious maple syrup on top.

Lily and I ate comforting steel-cut banana oats with almond milk, chia seeds, cinnamon, and vanilla in my new small Anthropologie Lotus bowls.

We poured California organic berries on top and I sliced up some raw walnuts from the farmer’s market for satiety. I really shouldn’t go that long between warm oats consumption, it was a little bit of torture.

For the long weekend I am going to relax and enjoy the California sunshine by hitting up the flea market and reading in a nearby park today. There may be some vegan baking involved too.

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend.

– Do you ever feel deprived of warm oats, even when the weather isn’t chilly?

-What is your favorite long weekend activity?

lots o’ love

Posted in FAMILY, FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on February 14, 2011

Alright, I know that I’ve been away much longer than I previously mentioned, but I must say that I am still all about the blog world. Yes, I am starting this post with an apology. I am sorry. An apology goes out to all my readers who have wondered where I’ve mysteriously disappeared to.  I promise it really isn’t too exciting. It’s always good to be busy, but as most of you know, blogging creates such a wonderful feeling. Sharing and reading others ideas about food, travel, yoga, etc. is something I can’t forget to let myself do.

So on this Valentines day, I decided that I should really go somewhere I love most, and that is the world of blogging.

Since moving to Los Angeles, finding an apartment (which I love, but have yet  to decorate), and starting a few different work projects, I haven’t had much time for pretty much, well, anything. When my last film finished, just a week ago, it was the first time I could breathe, and it happened to be the same time my sister would be coming to see if LA was a good fit for her, as well.

The list of veggie-friendly places I wish to visit in LA is ever-expanding, and my little sister is the perfect person to bring along. We are all about sharing, and so far, we’ve had some great eats at Seed in Venice, Le Pain Quotidien in West Hollywood, and M Cafe in West Hollywood. There was also the babycakes visit Friday night when V was wrapping up a day of filming Downtown. That cafe is too cute and just too good. We shared a chocolate chip cookie and a banana chocolate loaf slice (maybe this recipe with added chocolate chunks & topped with raw sugar, yum). We ate them on the car ride home, true story. Falling asleep by 10 p.m. is pretty standard these days.

Although I am not so into Valentines Day, I am into Valentines Day specials. When I heard M Cafe , my favorite nearby macrobiotic joint, was going to be having specials for the holiday, I brought my sister along for some chocolate-y goodness. We went for the Petit Fours, which were essentially tiny cakes covered in a rich ganache. They were tasty, but I was expecting something a little more truffle-like. My sister saw the gingerbread cookie on the counter, and we decided to go for it although it is an item on the regular menu. It really was a great choice and not one I would typically go for. It was chewy, sweet, and perfectly spiced. Later we will  break into my favorite item from the deli case, the kale salad with spicy peanut dressing. That stuff is addicting. Sometimes I grab a little container mid-work-day shop for a pick me up.

Lastly, just for kicks, here are our recent Le Pain Quotidien lunches.

The Tartines (open-faced sandwiches) are always delightful. I adored my Black Bean Hummus one with avocado, and spicy tahini spread. Lily also raved about hers, which was Ricotta with mission figs, black pepper, and acacia honey.

I hope everyone is having a truly great day. I hope to be stopping in more around here. I have a particular place in mind, I can’t wait to share with you.

a new chapter.

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN, WORK by clairedille on December 1, 2010

Although I’ve been out in Los Angeles for about a month, I haven’t quite gotten into the groove of things. Today we finally signed our new lease and I can’t wait to get comfortable in our own place. In just three weeks, we will be sending out all the rest of our belongings.

Work has taken over the last two weeks and my stress levels are incredibly high. Realizing that we have to pay three rents for the month of December (as well as a security deposit and shipping everything) is not relaxing, at all. That is just an example of the freelance life, making you move before your lease is up. Ironically, I have decreased the yoga over these last few weeks when I probably should have done the opposite. However, December is a month I adore and I hope the second half will be less about work, finances, and all those big kid things, and more about family and fun. Due to missing my favorite Holiday with my family, I am over-eager to get reunited with all of the Dille’s (my mothers maiden name, my middle name, my blog name)  in just a few weeks. Another thing I am most happy about is my friend Emma’s visit to LA. Timing-wise, I am the most busy I’ve been since August, but I still can’t wait to catch up over the weekend (the few hours I won’t be prepping). She is one of those people who I love most and it doesn’t hurt that we both live to travel, keep active, (she owns a bike shop in Guatemala!), and eat delicious food.

When November began, I had planned on upping the amount of blog posts about tasty vegan eats for Vegan MoFo. Subsequently, I failed miserably. Instead of beating myself about it, I’ve accepted the fact that cooking creative vegan recipes and eating out weren’t too realistic this last month. Yes, I will still be very frugal for December, but I will also be with family (and friends!) in New York for at least the last week of the month. There is no way I will be missing an opportunity to eat at some of my favorite vegan places.

I have a whole year (and possibly longer) to explore LA’s vegan fare.

Tomorrow, we will no longer be staying at our friends place and the thing I will miss most are the abundance of pomegranates. Right next to his little guest house is a pomegranate tree. Needless to say, I’ve had my fair share of pomegranate topped oats. Today and tomorrow might be my last bowl of insanely local pomegranates for a while. Today’s bowl were scottish oats cooked in the usual fashion, with coconut milk, chia seeds, half a banana, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and stevia. I mixed in some organic pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice in the last few minutes. On top of the pomegranate, I piled on some peanut butter. I loved this not so typical combo.

So tomorrow begins a new chapter, in a new home, for at least two or three weeks. The upcoming hiatus will be much appreciated, and then I will be back to LA living. Am I in love with this city? Not yet, but I am getting there. I may even pretend like its getting chillier by adding scarves, beanies, and other winter accessories. I just can’t help myself. I do work in wardrobe after all. As a New Yorker in LA, the hardest two things so far are the lack of seasons and the aggravating traffic (subways…where are you…?).

Other things:

– Do you like layering or prefer warmer climates with less clothing? Fall is definitely my season of choice, so layers are what I love. I do gravitate towards simplicity a lot too, but I like the option of putting on more. Winter though, is not a season I love. I like the snow for its beauty and seasonal eats and cheer, but I am pretty miserable when it gets below, say twenty degrees. Thank god I bought that down coat last winter…it saved me when working in cold Michigan and the time I was in NY for the holidays.

– Are you interested in an apartment wish list post? I read home and fashion blogs just as much as food blogs, so I have many ideas about our new apartment. The space is very different. We lived in a large two-story industrial loft previously, and now we will be in a much smaller art deco apartment. Instead of a kitchen island, we now have a dining nook, and I can’t wait to find a cool table and chairs to fill it.

my first reuben.

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on November 17, 2010

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.

Other things:

-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?

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real food.

Posted in ENTERTAINMENT, FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on November 12, 2010

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.

Other things:

– 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.