A Fresh Dille

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.

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quick & sweet

Posted in FOOD, TRAVEL, VEGAN by clairedille on May 17, 2010

Yesterday was my younger sister’s graduation. I wish I could share with you the photos from her amazing fashion show from the night before, but there is no way I feel comfortable posting them on the internet (in fear someone would mimic the designs). I will tell you though, she is such a great fashion designer. Everything from her sketches to the construction of each garment she sews makes me so proud to be her older sister. If I hadn’t known which clothes were hers coming down the runway, I still would have chosen her pieces as my favorites. Maybe it is because we have similar aesthetics, but in all honesty, I know that I would desire to own all her clothing if it was sold at Barney’s or any other high-end clothing store that I dearly love. I can go on and on about my little sister, but instead I will tell you about some goodies I picked up at Sweet Freedom in Philadelphia. It was such a lovely but quick trip. This city reminds me a lot of the city I spent my college years, Boston. The history and charm of Old City makes me crave to return to a similar city in the next few years. Leaving New York for work in the midwest has been great, but I could tell within the first day of being in Philly that it has been far too long since I’ve let my creativity flourish as it does in the city environment.

On Saturday I made sure to stop at Sweet Freedom during the only time I had free. I had searched for vegan bakeries before coming here and read many reviews saying that Sweet Freedom was the place to go.

The storefront wasn’t quite as charming as I had hoped, but because we were in such a hurry, I couldn’t quite grasp the potential of the building. It was all about the goodies and after following the bakery on Twitter, I was already excited to hear they had Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes on Saturday’s. This place is more allergy-friendly than you can imagine, because not only is every baked good vegan, they are also all gluten-free and avoid corn, wheat, peanuts, and soy. Just because a bakery is vegan or gluten-free does not mean that it is necessarily healthier than a usual bakery, however, Sweet Freedom uses Coconut Sugar, Agave Nectar and Pure Maple Syrup instead of refined/processed sugars. Another thing I loved was that the bakery used Coconut Oil for its healthy fat.

It was definitely hard to not buy one of everything. I ended up picking up a special of the day – Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcake with chocolate frosting, an oatmeal raisin cookie sandwich, and a magic bar. The ingredients can be found here so I will tell you about the tastes.

First up was the Magic Bar. This is one of those goodies that I have always had a fondness for. Any type of layer bar with chocolate and coconut is one I am up for trying at all times. When I was younger (and still), my aunt had a Christmas Cookie Exchange with other women in her neighborhood, and the layer bars were my favorite cookie variety to eat up around the holiday. This one didn’t have the usual graham cracker bottom, but it sure tasted similar. It was crumbly and sweet using brown rice flour. I didn’t mind any grittiness that may have been found because of the delectable chocolate and coconut topping. The ingredients in this bar were very minimal and the taste did not disappoint.

After the fashion show, I was incredibly hungry after not eating since lunchtime. I was back at the hotel by myself when I decided to try the Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcake. Of course I would have preferred eating a real dinner but it was too late for that and room service charges are out of this world. I figured that I had already consumed my fair share of veggies that day and went for this baby.

This is something I definitely suggest sharing with another. It may seem crazy but I have never been much of a frosting person and was a little overwhelmed with sweetness. I was happy to find that the frosting wasn’t too thick and the cupcake base wasn’t nearly as sweet. Due to extreme hunger, I wasn’t able to really focus on this cupcake as much as the others but the chocolate chips were a great treat. It differed from your usual fluffy cupcake base and was a firmer muffin-like base flecked with delectable chocolate made it so enjoyable.

Last was the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Sandwich which was stuffed with a sweet frosting. I didn’t get a chance to find out how the pink was colored but I am hoping it was an all natural food dye. Still, I am not sure why I didn’t choose the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich or a plain cookie. Maybe I was trying to rebel against my usual choice and choose an array of goodies, but oatmeal raisin cookies are never as good to me as your typical chocolate chip variety. The sandwich crumbled as I cut it in half but the cookie itself was a great one. I know that chocolate chip would be great to try next time I make my way to Philadelphia because the oatmeal raisin cookie filled with plump raisins and a nice layer of frosting was very tasty. Other things I should have purchased but didn’t want to risk staleness were muffins, loaves, and brownies. The Blueberry Oat Crumble bars and Carrot Cake Cupcakes both sounded delicious as well.

If you are ever in Philly (or live there) and are looking for a bakery, I would definitely suggest stopping by Sweet Freedom or even ordering some things for a birthday or special occasion.

Now, I am heading to another aunt’s with my mother and here is a preview of what I  may be posting about after visiting…

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

Other things:

Do you have a favorite vegan or gluten-free bakery in your town or city? I also love Babycakes Bakery in NYC but it has been way too long since I have been.

Have you been to Philly and eaten a delicious meal? Where? I was surprised to find that the city is such a culinary haven. I ate at three restaurants I really enjoyed and will be posting about in the next few days when I get home.