Monday, December 3, 2007

Reasons To Love L.A. (Part 1)

Being a native New Yorker with my born & bred East Coast bias, I had never really been intrigued by L.A. or California but boy have things changed since becoming vegan...

California is the closest thing to vegan paradise that I have ever experienced. They speak my language there, well- even if they don't speak my language at least they are familiar with the term "vegan". My last visit involved a crazy hectic shooting schedule, I never realized that L.A. and the surrounding area was chock full of vegan/vegetarian eateries but this trip was a true epiphany. Fcat and I mused about how we might consider living in L.A.: steps to the beach, sunshine, blue sky a plethora of restaurants that cater to omnis & their vegan partners- sounds pretty perfect to me...

Let's get this show and tell (part 1- splitting this up so as not to bore or overwhelm with my usual mega posts) started:

Fcat has a friend with a West Hollywood bungalow that he only occasionally stays at- so we had this lovely home to ourselves:

It was so amazing to wake up and step out into the sunshine:

No morning was complete without a quick drive to Fairfax for breakfast at Swingers- a hip, retro 22hrs (6am-4am) diner with vegan options:

This was the only thing I ordered, over and over and over again because it was that good- the tofu chilaquiles which is tofu, black beans, corn, salsa in a mole type sauce served with blue corn chips. It was so tasty.

Love how the menu even differentiates bet vegetarian and vegan dishes- thumbs up for vegans!

For Thanksgiving, Fcat was willing to make the 40minute drive down to Costa Mesa so that I could have a vegan Thanksgiving meal at Native Foods. There was a Native Foods closer to us in L.A., but the Costa Mesa one was open for Thanksgiving! I was so excited...

The atmosphere was warm and lively for the Thanksgiving buffet.

The circular shape of the restaurant was unique and already an existing structure when the restaurant took the space.

Fcat and I came ready to feast and feast we did! I am that girl who loads a little bit of everything onto one plate at a buffet. This was the menu:
  • Native Wellington with Mushroom Shallot Gravy
  • Willy's Wheatberry Waldorf Salad
  • Gorgeous Green Salad with Maple Glazed Pecans and Pomegranate Pearls
  • Polenta Terrine with Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
  • Garlic Roasted Mashed Potatoes
  • Seared Green Beans with Browned Panko
  • Native Stuffing
  • Fred's Fabulous Cornbread
  • Cranberry Orange Relish
  • Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Crem
  • Sam's Cheesecake with Blueberries
  • Apple Cranberry Cobbler with Vanilla Creme
  • Native Iced Tea, Coffee

Our meal was absolute yum. Everything was so delicious. Fcat loved it! (He loved it so much that he was wishing for it the next day.)We were stuffed, but there's always room for dessert albeit after a bit of a break where we just sat and chatted with the lovely staff- I mean really just great people. Our waiter was so sweet- he wrote down a bunch of restaurants for us to check out in L.A., several fortuitously close to our place.

The real highlight of our meal? Chatting with Chef Tanya Petrovna. She was so warm and vibrant and a great storyteller. She was amazing and her food was amazing. We could have talked to her for hours and we almost did- you know when you go to say goodbye to everyone at a party and end up talking for another hour before you get out that door- that's the vibe at Native Foods. Can't wait for the day when Native Foods comes to NYC, hopefully someday very very soon!!

It was truly wonderful to celebrate Thanksgiving in a place where we were able to joyfully celebrate the holiday where no animals were brutalized & slaughtered for our celebration. I even loved the parking lot, imprinted with proper vegan prompts:

The next day, we decided to go to the Getty Center Museum. What I enjoyed most at the museum was it's architecture and outdoor space. It was designed by Richard Meier and simply divine.

We had a light lunch at the museum cafeteria outdoors. I asked what was vegan and they immediately pointed me to the leek/parsnip/apple soup. We also got a portobello sandwich which I thought I could just remove the cheese, but I discovered that there was mayo mixed into the mustard spread...the soup was quite good.
We checked out the Edward Weston photography exhibit which was fascinating, but best part of the museum was really it's outdoor space.

I especially loved the cactus garden because I am partial to succulents, having a small collection of plants myself. I also loved the contrast of these prickly plants against the backdrop of the cityscape.

The Getty Center is located atop a hill which you can take a tram up or a fifteen minute hike up which we did because the wait for the tram was lengthy, plus we knew the walk would be pretty.

Sunshine and blue sky, yet urban city with access to nature, how could one not be happy here?

More to come...


Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

While the food in LA rocks, the traffic does not! I'm glad to see you had a great time. I'll be in LA later in the month & now I want to check out Native Foods!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

I've heard that LA is very vegan-friendly. Hopefully someday soon I'll get to be as lucky as you were to experience it first-hand!

Oh that Thanksgiving food-- WOW!

Jesse said...

Yes! Move to LA and join us! I love LA! You must go to Real Food Daily and get the club sandwich next time you come!

Rage And Love said...


When did this happen?

If you need any help let me know, I'm here!!!

This is so exciting!

bazu said...

Aww, I used to eat at the Costa Mesa Native Foods all the time when I was in CA! You know what's funny, I think of NYC as vegan mecca- we all want what we can't have... I'm looking forward to visiting CA in a couple of weeks, though...
You ate so well! You had so much sunshine! You met Tanya!

Ashasarala said...

I am so jealous of you! I need to get back out to LA. My friend is living there for a semester and she calls me up nearly every day, telling me about a new vegan restaurant she came across.

It looks like you guys had a great Thanksgiving too. :)

Can't wait to read more!

VeggieGirl said...

Vko, you've just reminded me how much I LOVE L.A. - I haven't been there in almost a year, and I'm dying to go back!! It really IS a vegan paradise!

How lovely that you got to chat with the chef at Native Foods - and the "Eat Tofu" thing, in the parking lot, is a riot :0)

Kumudha said...

I too love LA. I felt as if I was in a tropical paradise when I visited LA a couple of months ago.

Real Food Daily, in West Hollywood and Zephyr Vegetarian Café in LOng Beach was wonderful!

Melody Polakow said...

Looks like you had a great time! My mom lives in the LA area, so I'm kind of looking forward to going out there for a visit.. plus several great bloggers live out there!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Oh what a beautiful trip it looks like yall had! Good that you got to take some time and enjoy the sun in LA! That dinner at Native Foods looks spectacular. I must make it out there sometime soon!

Wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice Cream said...

the food looks awesome, those are some great pictures. we could use some of that warm weather over/up here in boston! ;)

the little one said...

As a person who grew up on the East Coast, I'm always feeling like I live in a vegan paradise in Cali. Sounds like you had a great trip! Am looking forward to your part II.

Village Vegan said...

I like LA too. Well, not as much as NYC, but it's a pretty great city. One set of grandparents lives in Pasadena and the other ones live in Costa Mesa, so I usually get to go out there once a year. I've never checked out any vegan restaurants, though, but I hope that at the very least I can go to Native Foods next time I'm there-- I've heard such great things about it.

I love the Getty museum, too.

textual bulldog said...

You went to the Native Foods that is right in my neighborhood (the Costa Mesa branch)! Isn't the Native Wellington awesome?!? I have yet to try Swinger's, somehow, but after your glowing review, I know what I'm ordering whenever I do end up there for breakfast! :)

urban vegan said...

Looks like a wonderful trip. LA is certainly a vegan paradise--and so pretty in its mountainous setting. I've only ever been there for work and have never gotten to venture out much.

I've heard so many wonderful things about Native Foods. For now, I'll have to vicariosuly enjoy your meal.

Pink Theory said...

as usual, lovely post and photos. I've always thought of LA negatively, but you've changed my mind. And a Native Foods!!

Paulina said...

You are so lucky! You don't know what I'd give to move back to L.A.
I remember going to the Getty Museum a couple of times and I loved everything about it. I wish I had been vegan when I lived in California so that I could have taken advantage of all the awesome vegan restaurants there. But I keep telling myself that once I'm old enough to move out, I'll go to L.A. :)

SKO said...

Oooh, LA looks divine!

The sky, the house, the food, the cute vegan indicators on the menu...too adorable...

I note that you look super cute at Native Foods and happy too!

And now, you may post Part II. :D

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