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It always seems I'm on the go these days & a few weeks ago I found myself on a weekend trip to Southern California to visit family & have another round of tattooing done on my arm. Never one to turn down an opportunity to find delicious vegan dining options, I set out in search of places I hadn't been before, but also visited an old favorite.
A somewhat new dining option in Ventura is Mary's Secret Garden, an all vegan, organic spot, nestled in a former residential space. The vibe is a bit hippie, they have many raw food options, & while we found our dining companions, four omni family members, to be a bit perplexed by the place, everyone was willing to try it out. I started with a salad that wasn't even on the menu! A couple dining at the next table over had a large salad that looked amazing, so I had to ask what it was. It turns out it's a salad that the regulars know about & Mary prepares especially for people "in the know". Well, I'm glad I found out about it, as the salad with kalamata olives, chopped nuts, & a tangy dressing on a bed of heirloom tomatoes topped in nut based cheese was fabulous! Next up were the entrees & I decided to go with the "Rawvolis". Sheets of jicama made up what would typically be pasta & they were filled with more of the delicious housemade nut cheese with a butternut squash sauce, pesto, kalamata olives, & pistachios. Ryan had a burger, Mary style, with a side of raw slaw & was happy with his selection.
For dessert, we split two options, the strawberry shortcake, & a raw apple pie. The strawberry shortcake didn't do it for me, as it was quite dense, likely from the use of whole wheat flour. The nut based ice creams on the other hand were a tasty treat! The raw apple pie was a bit hard to eat, but a lovely, flavorful selection we both enjoyed! I would certainly return to Mary's Secret Garden again, especially as we have family in the area & it's a great dining option!
As I mentioned in a previous post, I headed to the LA Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale to pick up some treats for the family. Of course, I needed savory food as well, so I hit the Hollywood Farmers Market in search of some grub & hit the jackpot! I started out at A Taste of Life & loaded up on all the soul food staples; Mac & Cheese, Pot Roast, Black Eyed Peas, Kale Greens, Cornbread, & some not-so-traditional Lasagna. We loved the sweet, fluffy cornbread, as well as the black eyed peas & we love anything kale related! Next up, I was told to check out Dave's Gourmet Korean Food, a booth with two sweet, smiling girls who were happy to dish out the samples. While the spicy veggies we bought certainly lived up to their name, we fell in love with the smooth & chewy Black Bean & Rice Tempeh! Seriously, delicious soy free Tempeh! Another stop was at Corn Maiden Tamales for a savory Vegetable tamale & a Green Corn with Sweet Yellow Corn tamale for dessert. These hit the spot late at night when our appetites kicked back in!
After enjoying brunch at M Cafe last time, I decided Ryan should try it out as well. Of course, I took the opportunity to meet up with friends again & was joined by Adriana from Anarchy in the Garden, QuarryGirl, Allison from Could It Be Seitan?, & Britt from Sick of Lettuce. After much fanfare, Ryan had to try the Big Macro; one all veggie patty, special sauce, lettuce, (soy) cheese, pickles, onion.. & sprouts, on a whole wheat bun. While I believe he prefers the Bigger Maque at Madeleine Bistro, this still hit the spot, especially with a side of the wonderful Kale in Spicy Peanut Sauce! I opted for a salad trio, with the Broccolini Pepperoncini I tried last time, plus the Scarlet Quinoa, & a Curried Cauliflower salad with lots of tasty vegetables & cashews. I wish San Francisco had a similar place to M Cafe with delicious, healthy fare!
After another 6 hour session of tattooing with Hannah Aitchison, I was ready for some serious eating. Enter Purgatory Pizza! We met up with the brains behind To Live and Eat In LA, plus other friends Natalie, Michael, & Scott, so we could throw down on 3 pizzas! We had an Olive, Garlic, & Pineapple with the new vegan cheese Daiya on top, another Daiya topped pie with Field Roast Italian Sausage & Olives, & an "Armagarden" with Teese. The Daiya is VERY creamy & sticks to the roof of your mouth, something I wasn't ready for! I think I may prefer the Cheddar style as something to use in quesadillas, but I may have to get my hands on some & start experimenting to really find out! Teese is always a good melty standby, so of course that pie was tasty as well. Once again, Los Angeles proves it has a ton of great vegan options for people with palates of any sort!
In other news, I wrote a piece on Vegan Activism for CrazySexyLife.com. Please go check it out for great ways to get started in helping out the animals who need us!