Veggie Grill Weekend, Day Two: Avocados & New Menu Items

The following is a continuation of menu food porn from my recent Veggie Grill weekend. This post hereby includes upcoming Veggie Grill menu items of the ‘fork and knife’ variety (brief pondering: Do you call it ‘knife and fork?’ Or is that phrasing simply more carnivorous?), a morning visit to the Hollywood Farmers Market, strolling the Venice Beach pier, more silly photos, and further anticipation for the Beaverton opening, just over a week away. Never before have I muttered a similar sentiment for this suburb, but I like to think I returned from my December travels lighthearted, open-minded, prepared to take public transportation wherever it may go (and in any language), and certainly, craving American-style vegan cuisine.

First up, I appreciate a hotel with a chilled pitcher of soymilk, ready to go.

You know, I should have gotten my hopes up (and denied my bladder) when I passed by this publicity poster in an upstairs room. I missed out on a Dolly Parton lobby-walk-by, by mere moments.

My time visit to the Hollywood Farmers Market.

Oh, California.

I picked up two new-to-me varieties of avocado: Bacon and Zutano.

We were serenaded by a Michelle Williams look-a-like in between produce stops.

Branded iced tea shots from a Ghostbusters-style backpack. So LA?

Moving on, we made it to the West  Hollywood Veggie Grill, which I had lunched at last fall on my first visit to LA, for our second lunch tasting.

The full menu is here.

Here’s what we all came  here for, the food.

Most importantly, we started again with nachos. Most definitely, I did not complain. I may have applauded. I’m not normally one for the D-cheese, but Veggie Grill uses it as a base in their nacho sauce, and it really works.

Uptown Nachos [Daiya-based sauce]

Sweetheart Chili Cheese Fries [Daiya-based sauce]

NEW: Bayou Chickin’ Caesar Wrap

Chillin’ Chickin’ Strips, Sweetheart Fries, Ranch and Sweet & Sour for dipping

Wait a minute!

Chickin’ nuggets, Chipotle Ranch (how I dig thee) and BBQ sauce

NEW: Buffalo Chickin’ Sandwich

Fun tidbit: all sandwiches are available wrap-style or served on a bed of kale

NEW: Chicken Fried Steak Plate [Gardein] with Mashed Potato & Cauliflower (aka Caulipots! Name credit: Isa Chandra Moskowitz), Steamed Kale and Porcini Caper Gravy

NEW: The Gluten-free Urban Plate with Grilled Portobello, Grilled Tempeh, Caramelized Onions, Steamed Kale (aw, yeah!), Chipotle Ranch (yeahyeahyeah!), Tomatoes with Basil and Guacamole

NEW: Chocolate Pudding Parfait with Crushed Oreos and Sour Cream Frosting

Our Sunday tasting club: Terese from Veggie Grill, Janessa, Webly, myself and Veggie Grill ‘s “Food Man” himself, Ray.

One last look – surely, that’s a celebrity power couple clandestinely dining on the patio. It would be almost exciting as realizing Daryl Hannah was sitting behind  us the day before in a series of ridiculous pudding photos.

Farewell, Hollywood!

Hello, Venice Beach…

After a week back in rainy Portland, I admit, I missed reading on the beach.

If only there was a rum-based cocktail in a coconut available in place of $3 PBRs. Isn’t this the land of $2 buck Chuck?! The red is vegan-friendly, btw.

With that, we were on our way back to Portland -

Avocados & lemons in tow

I also had some Nicobella chocolates in my bag to sample back home.

On the downside, the mysterious Michele’s take out did not make it home with her.

More discussion coming soon to Stumptown Vegans, in addition to photos and menu tales from next week’s pre-opening event in Beaverton. Check  out their website and facebook for Portland AREA opening information. I’m out.

As for me, I’ll be in Chicago for the first time with the VVC gals this weekend (please share any tips!), and I’m focused on hushing my inner New Yorker about the idea of an authentic, deep dish pizza.

A Few Days in the Life; Last Month: The Vegan Vacation in LA

First time. Los Angeles. Vacation. Tourist Sights. Vegan Foodz.

Every time I start to tell the stories of my short vacation in Los Angeles, I start squealing about catching up with an old friend, or dramatically demonstrating how I threw out my back on the morning of the last day – so, I’ll let the photos do the talking.

The Top 5 Highlights:

1) The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.

I find myself telling my friend and co-organizer on a couple different projects, Michele, “Thank You!” on an average of 3 times a week, it not daily, and this recommendation deserved a big one.  Casual vegan sushi at Taiyo and big laughs at UCB made for a fun evening.

2) Flore Cafe. A small part of me wanted to wake up and brunch outside this  cafe every day.  If only I were that cool…  Photos below. More coming.

3) Intelligentsia Cofffeebar. Located at the Silver Lake junction, the Chicago-based roaster clearly boasts great coffee (vacation = lattes), endless hipster eye candy and a shaded patio to enjoy both with their wireless, where I often planned my next stop.

4) Sunglasses and simultaneous young coconut consumption. If I had glimpsed cool kids sipping other tropical fruits walking down the street, I’m sure I would have tried that, too. I know, it happens elsewhere, but this was like 3 girls, 3 blocks.

5) Late night vegan pizza delivery. What do you do when you’ve already deemed the vegan restaurant attached to your hotel inedible and you’re beat? Thank you, Cruzer Pizza delivery!

Runner Up: Seeing people reading scripts in public. I only saw this twice, once on the subway (which was handy!) and once on the bus (again, handy and easy?!?), but it cracked me up, both times. No offense. I love television.

The Photos & Foodz

Obligatory Sight-seeing.

Necessary star power. Not the one I posed with.

Graffiti-orientated sight-seeing.

There’s always been something eerie about Mickey Mouse.

Schoolyard Graffiti!

Is this a real landmark? I don’t know. Palm trees and a dinosaur were enough for me.

Vegan-friendly Silverlake: where I didn’t go…

As much as it pains me not to visit a cafe that shares a name with one of my favorite friends, there just wasn’t enough time…

Options, options, options.

Yup.

Aforementioned pizza delivery:

Ordering was a bit odd, but quick. I’m glad I went for the “extra crispy” (Italians use quotes) crust. Not sure why that meant overcooked seitan sausage bits, but the rest was tasty — and delivered to my door! in 20-something minutes!!

Again, this one can be filed under the worst vegan food in LA &  a dumb reason to book an adjoined (but quite cheap & decent) hotel: Vegan House.

My first meal..or should I say..bites of a meal, really blew, even for $4.99 “Happy Hour” fair. The order was bland, messed up, most of the vegetables were worrisome, the ‘chicken’ was mushy, and there were multiple pieces of hair. Negativity over.

In Silverlake, but sadly, encountered closed up:

Down West Sunset Blvd:

That whole Flore brunch thing I was talking about: buckwheat pancakes, blueberry sauce, tempeh bacon.

Inside Flore:

I was terrified of how under-toasted this bread appeared – and somehow, some noochy tofu, tempeh and avocado combining way, this was a kick ass BLT – with a side of fresh fruit, to boot. Kudos, Flore.

And kudos, sprouts.

Flore Deli Case:

I had just visited a Veggie Grill days before in Irvine, and was happy to come across one again. If this is the future of mainstream veganism, we’re gonna be all right*.

*Which is, admittedly, a much longer conversation about mainstream veganism and society.

It’s so…normal. And refreshing. And fast. Throw some of these into America, STAT.

Cajun Tempeh Burger. I don’t normally find myself saying such things, but I even really liked the citrusy slaw!

Inside the V to the G

I almost bought half price tickets to see Tim Allen and grunt the night away, but somehow, I resisted…

Instead, UCB! And here’s their neighbor – a freaking conscious convenience store.

Locali

Back to Silverlake – pictured because I really liked that they advertise their guacamole like so. How inviting.

Oh look, another vegetarian restaurant. This is getting exhausting.

And another that I actually visited: Pure Luck. Sweet service and pickle chips. Boring wrap. Why talk about anything else?

Half pickles/Half fries plate

Spring Rolls. Served fresh.

Scoops = mini vegan ice cream mecca = vacant shoppe = who cares, I was coaxed into sampling every flavor (okay, 4? 5?).

Vegan selections of the day included Salted Chocolate, Pomegranate Blueberry, Coconut Mocha and Banana Oreo.

Light & Creamy Banana Oreo with some fixin’s

I clearly caught this employee shirtless ?!? and dancing in the back…Sorry!

Fairly befuddling.

If I hadn’t come across Bar Keeper on my last day of vacation, lamenting that I’d already spent too much, I would have spent even more at this kitschy cocktail supplies store.

Be still, my heart. Be still, my nose. New spices and Coconut Bali Smoked salt  won out over vintage cocktail stirrers and exotic bitters.  Not that shocking.

Inside Spice Station:

Now, this is vacationing.

And back to reality…

parking lot motivation & nachos in Costa Mesa

A few motivational parking space shots from The Camp in Costa Mesa, CA.

Appropriate, even if I arrived via public transportation (big high-five, google maps on a smartphone! you make life better) and as a stubbornly proud non-driver who fears cars, found myself cursing most vehicles on a regular basis throughout my trip. Really, that’s nothing new.

The first spot that touched my heart:

I would randomly park  here.

Right on.

I could nap here.

I have, I promise!

I do! If you don’t, I have a half hour rant about to begin that includes vomitting on you.

and then I remembered I have a short attention span, so onto the site….

The Camp:  home of sporting goods, alternative goods, hippie goods, and most importantly, the Native Foods yurt. I was hoping to pick up another pair of shoes at Humanitaire, but they’ve moved to Santa Monica since my last visit, and I didn’t make it there in LA.

I had gone last year with my friend Joni, fell head over heels for a ranch chicken & veggie bowl and fancypants rose petal cupcake, and returned for another visit on my OC adventures this past month.

Inside the Yurt.

Yep.

Behold! The Native Foods Nachos. I make a point to opt for dishes I wouldn’t typically order while on vacation, and this was one, since I can be so damn picky about Mexican food with my distaste for onion pieces and utter hatred of cilantro. They subbed parsley! More details on the SV travel piece soon.

And because I never actually posted it, last year’s Soul Bowl:

I know, right?

Coming Soon: more travel tales from Washington and California, Portland happenings (like the fact there is a food cart lot with a stupid name but exciting carts coming ten blocks from my apartment), Vida Vegan developments, VeganMoFo in November, Heartichoke, and —-  cooking! I learned that slow roasting tomatoes just may be the perfect way to welcome sad-season tomatoes, and myself, into the chillier months.

just some vegan shoe shopping

UPDATE: A commentor brought it to light that although the Tretorn boots SEEM vegan, the little strap at the top is LEATHER.  Sure enough, I received mine and it was leather.  I decided to cut the piece off, because I really like the boots and had them shipped already, and I have notified the company of their stupidity.  What’s the point?  Their phone number is 1-877-TRETORN if you’d like to do the same.

Original Post:

I’m as guilty of over-wearing cheap, canvas Payless shoes as most people. I predominately stick to cute & comfortable shoes that I can wear to work  and keep on with my casual clothes or a skirt in my free time.  I’ll admit, Willow Rosenberg was a comfortable, revolutionary style icon to me in high school.

I’ve been hooked on mary janes and mary jane style sneakers since I was a young one, and have a hard time spending more than $50, if not $30, on a pair of shoes.  I’ve sprung for Earth Vegan (loved my Intrigues) and J-41 shoes a couple times over the years in the upwards of $100, but mentally, it’s really hard to do!  But, these are my precious feet, and I need to treat them well. Repeat…and  shop on clearance.

Earlier today, my feet were wet, I couldn’t bear to buy another well, cute, cheap pair of rain boots from Target after mine cracked within a few weeks last year, and I bought these Tretorn Skerry Vinter Shiny W boots in purple from Zappos:

The product description was very influential:

  • In either rain or snow, these playful rubber boots will help lift “dampened” spirits!
  • Rubber upper is perfect for rain-drenched days.
  • Plush synthetic fur lining is warm and comfy.
  • Vulcanized rubber midsole promotes durability.

They made jokes! It rains/mists all fall and winter and into the spring in Portland! Synthetic, warm lining! They’re Vulcan!

I’ll update with my thoughts on this purchase. If you have affordable rain boot suggestions, please share!

Moving on, I bought these J-41 Palm Vegan Slip Ons a few weeks ago:

J-41 Palm Vegan Shoes - Slip-Ons (For Women)

I really relied on my old pair of J-41 Sideline Naturals, with their sturdy, er, Jeep branded recycled materials. The most comfortable pair of durable sneakers I’ve ever owned, and so breathable! I couldn’t throw down the upwards of $100 again, so I opted for the discounted pair above from under $30 with coupons from Sierra Trading Post.  I dig the look and these are great for wearing the entire day, but in line with most reviews, I can see them wearing out easily.  I’m still wearing them right now. Be care with J-41s, some are vegan, many are leathery.

In terms of socially acceptable dress shoes, I bought these from on sale from Humanitaire in the mid-$20 range when I was in California:

humanitaire purchase

Cuteness attack.  I just have to remember and remember to wear solid colors when I put them on.  Really fine to walk in as well.

Now, in terms of shoes on my wish list:

Eleanor Shoes by Novacas at MooShoes There’s just something about these.

More J-41s from Pie Footwear on NE Alberta Street:

PIE

These were the one pair of shoes in Pie that I was really, really eyeing.

And a pair of these Keen Erin Ballerina shoes without leather, please!

Keen Erin Ballerina