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…

Snapshot: A Visit to Kitchen Dances

Warning! This post encourages wasting time on Flickr Picnic. I sure do.

Why you should proceed: Are you a vegan cart fanatic? Are you a tempeh reuben adventurer? Do you appreciate a damn good gravy? Are you a Proper Eats fan? Did you miss Piper? Is this simply in your google reader? Please, proceed.

It’s clearly too early to join the inevitable food cart backlash (kidding!) and just the right time to enjoy covered, outdoor seating before winter really begins to roar in Portland (kidding, again).

Despite joking about the names of the newer cart lots – Good Food Here on SE Belmont, A La Carts on SE 51st (home of a solar powered Veggie Burger cart!!), and D-Street Noshery on SE Division – my friends and I had a nice, leisurely dinner at the first last weekend.  There are a few carts  at Good Food Here with vegan-friendly options, such Numi’s vegan bowl (think: cabbage and rice, but I hear nice things), Lucille’s Balls, Aybla Grill (meh), and a couple others – but the vegans came for Kitchen Dances.

Besides everything I briefly mentioned, while urging you to proceed to this vegan cart, I’ll add that what I tried: the special nori roll and breakfast burrito, served open-faced, were both vegan comfort food at its freshest.

The Snapshots:

Jalapeno and Herb Roasted Tempeh and Broccoli

This meal brought about the usage of positive profanity. For starters, it was Mexican inspired and didn’t include cilantro.

Jalapeno and Herb Roasted Tempeh and Broccoli. Served with red quinoa, black beans, carrots and fresh tomatoes.

Jalapeno and Herb Roasted Tempeh

Jalapeno and Herb Roasted Tempeh and Broccoli

Adapted from Jalapeño Roast Chicken with Baby Broccoli

Book: Marcela Valladolid’s “Fresh Mexico,” Clarkson Potter, 2009

Makes 4 servings

Frankly, I was googling “jalapeño” and “broccoli” for utilization.

The end result were these hearty, entrée-sized pieces of tempeh immersed in a savoury broth, flavored with the warm spice of jalapeños,  and brightened with fresh basil. Broccoli florets are added to this gathering of green ingredients towards the end of roasting.

Ingredients for Paste:

  • 1 small shallot
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (or handful of fresh)
  • handful fresh basil
  • 1 jalapeno – stemmed and de-seeded
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • pinch nutritional yeast

Ingredients for Broth:

  • 1 cup ‘chicken style’ broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Additional Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces tempeh, sliced into large triangles (halved if 8 ounce squares, for example)
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 1 bunch of broccoli, divided. Slice the stalks thinly.

Serving suggestions:

  • fresh, sliced tomatoes
  • fresh torn basil or oregano
  • steamed grains, such as quinoa
  • savoury black beans
  • serve in a burrito or over pasta

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Add all liquids into 9×13 glass casserole dish. Carefully stir the pureed mixture into the large glass baking dish.
  3. Immerse the tempeh triangles into the liquid. Immediately flip over.
  4. Add the sliced jalapeno and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Increase the heat to 400F. Remove the dish from the oven.
  6. Use a spatula to flip the tempeh pieces over. Add a spoonful of the baking liquid on top of each.
  7. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven. Add the broccoli and drizzle with additional baking liquid. If you are low on liquid, add a few tablespoons of additional broth.
  9. Roast an additional 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and serve as desired.

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dinner is good: cornmeal crusted baked tempeh

Leigh and Ann’s Homemade Creole Sauce from the Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti spooned over thyme-y, cornmeal crusted, baked tempeh strips. Roasted broccoli with fresh lemon, coarse sea salt and pepper.  Steamed yam with sea salt.

creole sauce, cornmeal tempeh

I had been craving good ole tempeh. The tempeh strips were marinated overnight in tamari and the Creole sauce (so good! such a nice tangy flavor!), dipped into a water and cornstarch slurry, then pressed into fine cornmeal with thyme, garlic powder, sea salt, lots of freshly ground pepper, and crushed red pepper, and then baked at 375F for 20 minutes on one side, and then 15 minutes at 400F – for the crispin’.  Served with roasted broccoli, steamed yam, and more Creole sauce.

In my head, and mouth, this meal was channeling the great The Lone Ranger plate at Chaos Cafe.  Except without the quinoa and kale, since I didn’t have them on hand.  Out of quinoa, I know – not even an extra bag of red hiding in my cabinets.  What’s my life coming to?

creole sauce, cornmeal tempeh

In other news, I had no idea there was a tea store tucked behind SE 12th and Division.  My life has changed.  The intersection hosts the new Gorditos, a cute pet store, vegan-friendly Artemis Cafe, and The Beer Mongers (note to self – finally visit!)

Foxfire Teas: Passion Yerba Mate (drinking right now – lovely), Foxfire Herbal Chai and Charcoal Baked Dong Ding. All purchased by the ounce, loose leaf.

apparently, I live near a tea store.

Tea makes everything better.