Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Food & Friends in Los Angeles + the Veggie Pride Parade.

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

When I found out the Veggie Pride Parade was happening in Los Angeles, I thought it would be a fun time & a great excuse to see friends & eat my way through the area. Car loaded up & ready to go, Strummer & I headed South to see what was in store for us!

Having lived in San Luis Obispo years ago, I always stop there when I have the chance. While SLO has plenty of vegan dining options, my favorite treat is from Sweet Earth Chocolates, who I've mentioned before & found out about from Amey at Vegan Eats & Treats. As usual, I had to stop by Splash Cafe & pick up an assortment of vegan chocolates, especially the Turtles & vegan caramels!

I started my Los Angeles dining adventure in the Silverlake area, at a vegan raw food restaurant, Cru. While many of the options were tempting, I went with the Mezze Platter, a plate with creamy cucumber tzatzizki, a fabulous beet and apple salad, fig pate, cashew cheese, flax crackers & garlicky rubbed kale. I certainly appreciate the work at goes in to raw food, but not quite enough of the items on my plate wowed me to justify the $13 price tag. That being said, I have heard fabulous things about their desserts & would consider going back to try them!

The next day, I set out for brunch at M Cafe on Melrose. Traffic seemed to have another idea, I slipped in the door just before 11:30am & was able to order the Vegan Benedict! Luckily, I had a great group of gals dining with me, Adriana from Anarchy in the Garden, QuarryGirl, JennShaggy, & Britt from Sick of Lettuce who made me forget all about the traffic. The Vegan Benedict was delicious with a grilled whole-grain baguette topped with steamed kale, tomato, tempeh bacon & a hollandaise sauce. I also had Broccolini Pepperoncini & the Kale with Spicy Peanut Sauce, a dish I have heard about many times from people & it lived up to the hype! M Cafe has an impressive display of desserts, so I opted for the Lemon Tart, which looked just lovely. The tart was sweetened with maple syrup, which was pretty much all I could taste, which was a disappointment when you're expecting lemon. I hope next time I'll be able to try the Banana Millefeuille, which they did not have when I was there, but I have heard is wonderful.

Since I don't get to Los Angeles as often as I'd like, I thought I would organize a little get together to meet up with as many vegans as I could wrangle. It's not easy to find a restaurant large enough to house a group with decent parking, but Vegan Village Cafe fit the bill, as the space happens to be a dance club in the evenings! Quite a few people turned up, including the brains behind Could It Be Seitan?, C'est La Vegan, QuarryGirl, Hugger Food, Afsoon's Posties, plus friends from The PPK forums & Twitter. Vegan Village Cafe serves up soul food & house made cakes, & the staff was friendly & totally accommodating to our needs. I opted for a plate with all my favorites; black eyed peas, collard greens, yams, buttered corn, & cornbread. After stuffing myself with food, I managed to sneak bites of other's people's desserts & found the cakes were moist, fluffy, & unlike other cakes I've had! I especially enjoyed the pineapple cake, which I suspect had some help from a can of pineapple juice.

Speaking of C'est La Vegan, Kim was find enough to bring samples of some of her treats for everyone to try at lunch! I managed to take some back to where I was staying as well, so I could savor each bite. I enjoyed the mini cookies in Snickerdoodle, Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, & Oatmeal Cranberry, the size was super fun to pop in to your mouth. While not normally a biscotti fan, I was pleasantly surprised by the Chocolate Almond & Pistachio Anise Seed, toothsome & flavorful, they were delicious! My favorite was the brownie, deep chocolate flavor & fudginess made this a winner! If you find yourself in LA, check out C'est La V Bake Shop goodies at Locali & local farmers markets.

I love a good brunch, so I headed to Flore Cafe's all you can eat offering on Sunday morning with a few friends. The $10 price tag was certainly worthwhile, as I loaded up my plate with fabulous french toast, waffles, mexican inspired tofu scramble, potatoes, veggie sausages & fresh fruit! I wish we would have something like this in San Francisco, although I hardly need to be eating at buffets weekly! Don't miss this delicious option for brunch with a rotating menu!

After brunch, the next stop was the Veggie Pride Parade in Venice, a celebration of the veg lifestyle & a 5k parade around town. Strummer & I had a great time making new friends, hanging out with familiar faces, being interviewed by VegSource (Strummer is at 2:45 & I'm interviewed at 8:30), & exploring the food & clothing booths including C'est La V Bake Shop! I must admit, the event was a bit cheesy, & I couldn't help but giggle at the people in random neon animal costumes many from the Supreme Master Ching Hai posse (note the rabbit looking nauseous & various other costumed folk), but overall it was a fun day & hopefully the press was effective to inform people about veganism.

For dinner, I headed to Hugo's Restaurant in West Hollywood with friends, including Alex & Kristen who happened to be visiting from San Francisco as well. I opted for the sweet corn tamales, instead of the soyrizo tamales which normally come with the entree, plus a side of flavorful mixed vegetables & kale. While a bit pricey, the dish hit the spot for me. Unfortunately, my dining companions were less than impressed with Hugo's. In the future, I think I'll stick to Hugo's Tacos, home of tasty taquitos, loved by Strummer, Ryan, & myself!

For my final Los Angeles meal, I made the trek to the valley to try the food at Follow Your Heart Market & Cafe, makers of Vegenaise, salad dressings, & O.G. vegan cheese. Never one to pass on a milkshake, a banana & peanut butter shake was promptly delivered to the table & devoured! At the suggestion of To Live and Eat in LA, I opted for the Reuben, which I split with Afsoon. I'm not a fan of Caraway Seed, so we opted for wheat bread, which worked in our favor because we were given two sandwiches for the price of one! Even after splitting things, my plate was filled with the sandwich of Seitan slices, Sauerkraut, Cottage Style Tofu, Thousand Island Dressing, Mustard & Vegenaise plus a side of Dill Pickle & baked fries. My sandwich was a bit overdone, but I still enjoyed the tangy filling & was happy to eat that when the bread proved to be too much. Unfortunately, the cake we ordered was downright disappointing & despite being ordered for 3 people to split, it went mainly uneaten.

Los Angeles is a crazy wonderland of vegan dining! I'm always amazed by the abundant options & they seem to gain more all the time. If you find yourself in LA, I promise you will not go hungry!

28 comments:

vegan.in.brighton said...

I'm excited about the possibility of visiting LA this October now *yay*

happyherbivore.com said...

you hit allll the good spots.

Nicole (anotheronebitesthecrust.wordpress.com) said...

I want to go to LA so badly!

quarrygirl said...

it was soooo great having you in town! i hope you come back soon. there are still so many restaurants to hit up!

damn, i am pissed i was too hungover to enjoy some of that village vegan cake. it looks incredible!

Sal said...

ok add LA to my long list of places i want to visit!! that sandwich sounds awesome.

julie hasson said...

you make me homesick for LA! What a fun review Melisser!

coulditbeseitan said...

Yay! It was so good to meet you! I can send you the KFS recipe, but it's part of a cookbook I'm working on, so guard it under lock and key! Or whatever, I'm just being paranoid.

kim g. said...

I'm so glad I got to meet you, I'm so happy you liked the baked goodies and I can't wait for our next trip to San Francisco so I can try your amazing looking treats! It's been way too long since we've been there. And I think your brownies are calling me...

Vegyogini said...

Please come back soon!

Brittany said...

it was so awesome to have you in town! i am forever indebted to you for exposing me to surfas. one question, how do you eat all that food and stay so little?!

halfeaten said...

Aww! I loved this post (am I being biased?). It was so great to meet you and Miss Strummer. I hope you come back soon! LA's calling your name :) (BTW, the pic looks so much better smaller. ha!)

herbstsonne said...

That all looks SO GOOD! I need to get my butt down to L.A.

shellyfish said...

All that goodness, plus veggie pride, plus hanging out with all those groovy vegans - right on!

Hannah said...

The veggie pride parade sounds like so much fun, I wish I could have been there!

Haley said...

YOu must must must try Vin Loi Tofu next time you're here!! It's AMAZING. The guy makes the tofu himself.

Amey said...

wow melisser!
I sure wish I had been a stowaway on that trip with you! SO MUCH good food, I don't know where to start! I can't believe there is a vegan breakfast buffet. I would just die and go to heaven. There isn't a single place in all of Santa Cruz where you can go for vegan waffles, pancakes or french toast! So disappointing! And of course, those Sweet Earth chocolates are sooooo amazing. :)

Vegan On Stage said...

what an aweseom parade!!! those costumes are really funny :)

urban vegan said...

What fun, what fun!

That cake looks A-MAZE-ING.

JennShaggy said...

Thanks, lady! You know you'll get a draft if it gets published :)

East Village Vegan said...

Sounds like such a fun trip to L.A. Makes me want to go out west!

marika @ madcap cupcake said...

What a delicious spread!! YUM. I'd like to reach through the screen and grab that shake...and those COOKIES. Yeah, I pretty much have a one track mind.

dreaminitvegan said...

Veggie Pride Parade how much fun to be with fellow peeps! I love all of your restaurant reviews, very helpful.

sweetkaroline said...

Oh how i wish i could eat at all of the places you photograph!! I've never been or even seen a vegan restaurant. Le sigh

Adriana said...

You're cute as a button! Don't forget Johnny Cupcake... You sure know how to round up the troops. Next time no juice fast. Come back soon!

Cyn said...

I love this list of LA vegan options - I'm up there semi-frequently to visit my parents, I will definitely have to check some of these places out.

Erin said...

The brunch! All the brunch! Glad you had a good time.

Derek said...

The dining guide of restaurants in LA. Cover all restaurants in LA, with their menu and price. Best place to find famous restaurants for dinner or lunch today!s

esther hahn said...

i recently visited splash for their vegan chocolates and was pretty disappointed :( they only had 3 options and they all ran along the lines of caramel and chocolate. and each little piece of chocolate cost $1. i'm not sure if they are worth taking the 101 over the 5!