Tag Archives: restaurants

Two for tea

9 Jan

Last month, there was a Living Social deal for high tea at a place in Hollywood, so I bought as quickly as I could. I’ve made no secret of my love of tea and other assorted fanciness. I have never actually been to high tea other than the one I threw myself back in 2010, so I was beyond excited to grab such a great price.

Chado has tea rooms/retail stores in several parts of LA, plus one in India.  The Hollywood location is walking distance from home, so we treated ourselves to their Celebration Tea service on Sunday afternoon.

We sat at a cozy table for two in the corner, which was preset with white linens and tea cups.

Hot dateThe meal started with a pot of tea each. We decided to share both and ended up with the Namring Upper SFTGFOP — a second flush Darjeeling — and Mate Carnival. We each also had an option of soup or salad. I chose the former, which was creamy tomato basil, and he had the mixed baby greens. The soup was really tasty, as was the bread that came with it. We both loved the tea selections as well. I slightly favored the delicate flavor of the Darjeeling.

Let's get startedThen the main part of the meal arrived.

PeekabooWow! The top tier was sandwiches: two each of salmon and chicken salad (for him), and two of egg salad and cucumber (for me). The sandwiches were standard but tasty. The next tier was two freshly baked scones with cream and apricot jam. The scones were incredible. I’m not normally a fan of the scone, since it’s a little drier and crumblier than I prefer my baked goods. These were more fluffy than dense, though, and had the perfectly subtle amount of sweetness. I slightly preferred the plain, but the blueberry was good, too. The final tier was dessert (because, clearly, scones are a healthy dinner). There were two little Madeline cookies, a tiny carrot cake, and an even tinier cheesecake. All were delicious, especially the carrot cake.

But wait. That wasn’t really dessert. I guess it was pre-dessert. The really real dessert was the Mauritius Tea Float.

photo 4(28)It’s exactly how it sounds: a scoop of vanilla ice cream floating in cooled black tea, plus a little cream, chocolate sauce and strawberry slices for good measure. It tasted light considering the ingredients, though I’m sure it was a calorie bomb. It was one well deserved, though.

The place was pretty noisy when we arrived, but the service was excellent, and those scones alone made the trip worthwhile. In fact, I can imagine going and just ordering a pot of tea and a scone or six to pass the afternoon. We will definitely go back to Chado!

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Vegan Mac & Cheese Showdown

15 Oct

I owe you a meal planning and CSA post, but my computer was held hostage all day yesterday for football. I used the good camera (i.e. not the iPhone) to take photos, and now I’m at work, so I will have to see if Mr. X can send them to me when he eventually rises and shines. Anyway, it feels wonderful not to be sick any more. I took Friday off to recuperate, which was a good choice. I was still feeling crappy on Saturday, so clearly I just needed the rest (and extra neti potting).

I did venture out briefly on Saturday, though, for LA’s Best Vegan Mac & Cheese Showdown hosted by Chica Vegan! I have been looking forward to this event for a month, and there was no way I was going to miss it. We’re talking $5 for five samples of vegan macaroni and cheese hosted at a space I love that is walking distance from my apartment. I sucked up my sniffles and the fact that I was flying solo while X had an audition and headed down.

So, like I said, you fork over $5 to receive a ticket book for your samples:

Each restaurant had one for you to tear off and exchange for your cup of faux cheesy goodness. The system was very organized. I tried to get a shot of the action, but I’m a pretty terrible photographer, as you know, so this is what I got:

Anyway, I had my first sample from Hugo’s, which I have visited twice though strangely never written about:

Theirs was so brightly colored and is a regular menu item. It featured: “Fusilli pasta with garlic, sliced mushrooms and sweet peas in a creamy cashew and sunflower cheese sauce. Topped with crispy onions.” It was really, really good (and HUGE! My eyes were much bigger than my stomach. I honestly believed I could power through every bite of five of those things without getting sick, but I was wrong.). I really like Hugo’s — especially their brunch — but had never sampled their well-known mac ‘n cheese. I’m so glad I did!

Next was M Cafe de Chaya, which I have also visited and enjoyed and not mentioned on the blog:

Theirs was the most non-traditional spin with rotini, asparagus, and sun-dried tomatoes tossed in a light white sauce and topped with arugula. I enjoyed this take and would definitely eat it again, but it would have been more to my taste with some crushed red pepper or even just black pepper. I think that’s a macrobiotic thing, though.

The third one I tried was from SunCafe Organic, a new-to-me restaurant that Lynn from The Actor’s Diet recommended before:

Theirs was a tweak of a regular menu item, and here’s how they describe it: “ANDEAN DREAM quinoa pasta, tomato, cashew cheese sauce, garlic pecan crumble” (minus the “lemon basil tossed baby greens”). This was hands down my favorite. It was so flavorful and creamy, and the pecan crumble was insane. I was already feeling a little full by this point, but I couldn’t stop myself from eating every delicious morsel. I am so, so glad to discover SunCafe!

As I said, I was feeling more than a little full at this point, but I still had to try the last two contenders so that I could vote with accuracy. I grabbed them both at the same time, had three nibbles of each, and then saved the rest for Mr. X. Here is Doomie’s Home Cookin’, one of my favorite vegan restaurants that I’ve blogged about once before:

This was your basic Kraft mac ‘n cheese except veganized. To be totally honest, it was my least favorite, which isn’t to say it was bad, but I have just never been a fan of the basic recipe. Even as a kid I didn’t eat boxed macaroni and cheese. (I was weird and incredibly picky.) I know I’m the odd one out, though, since Doomie’s won second place in the people’s choice vote.

And finally we had Southern Fried Vegan, which was totally new to me:

Like Doomie’s, theirs was pretty traditional, though it did have a nice little sharpness to it that set it apart. They apparently participate in a lot of events — they don’t have a brick and mortar shop — including this week’s Vegan Taco Thursday at Eagle Rock Brewing that I will have to check out soon.

After we sampled (or gorged ourselves on) the choices, we voted for our favorite. There were two prizes: the people’s choice and the judges’ favorite. The judges were:

  • Judge of Top Chef Masters and Food Editor at LAist.com: Krista Simmons
  • Mohawk Bend’s Executive Chef: Mike Garber
  • Hot Knives Cookbook Writers and Chefs: Evan and Alex

The winners of the people’s choice were SunCafe Organic in first place and Doomie’s Home Cookin’ in second place. The judges’ favorites were Hugo’s in first and SunCafe in second.

Here are my picks in order:

  1. SunCafe
  2. Hugo’s
  3. M Cafe de Chaya
  4. Southern Fried Vegan
  5. Doomie’s

So that was the event. Since I was feeling poorly and was by myself, I left pretty quickly, but I had an amazing time. I want to give a huge shout out to Chica Vegan for organizing such a great event, to the five restaurants who participated, and to all the volunteers to ran such a perfect event. I hope to see more showdowns in the near future!

Saturday. Sunday.

25 Sep

Saturday started with a burger from Umami:

I got the only veggie option, the Earth Burger (“mushroom and edamame patty, white soy aioli, truffle ricotta, cipollini onions, lettuce, slow-roasted tomato”). Frankly, I was unimpressed. It was decent, but I was expecting so much more because of the hype. Mr. X said his burger was really good, though, so maybe it was just the vegetarian option that was lackluster.

Anyway, we were then off to the beach:

Unlike the previous Saturday, it was cool and cloudy, so the crowds were much thinner. It was perfect weather for lying down and reading, but we still got plenty of swimming in, too.

Saturday night was the gourmet meal I posted about yesterday. Sunday morning was my CSA pick-up, which you saw the day before that. The market is right by Trader Joe’s, so I park in their garage, do my pick-up, and then get the rest of the groceries (followed by Ralph’s, when needed). My favorite thing about the underground parking is this genius contraption:

Yeah, a special escalator just for your cart. It’s freakin’ awesome.

I came home and made brunch, my other favorite weekly tradition. For Mr. X, it was an omelet stuffed with roasted zucchini, cremini mushrooms, smoked Gouda, and fresh basil:

Mine was the same ingredients, but I had a scramble instead:

We both had home fries on the side. To make them, you just saute onions. Add garlic and peppers. Saute some more. Add chopped potatoes. Saute even more. Season with salt and pepper. Easy.

The rest of the day was spent in a haze of cleaning (me) and watching football (X). Dinner took about 12 seconds to prepare. His:

Two slices of homemade sourdough bread with Dijon, jalapeno-jack cheese, and avocado, with Snapea Crisps on the side. Hers:

Almost the same, except I had barbecued tofu instead of cheese.

And then I passed out. The end.

Four facts

14 Aug

Fact: Lately I’ve been battling the same loneliness/sadness that I’ve mentioned before. You can tell by the way I avoid talking about anything but food when I post.That makes my blog boring, so I will try to remedy the situation.

Fact: I have so far worked out two days in a row. Yesterday I committed myself to the below exercise schedule in the comments of the Fitnessista’s post:

Monday — 30-minute run/walk and abs
Tuesday — 20-minute yoga podcast and arms/legs/butt
Wednesday — 30-minute run/walk
Thursday — 30-minute run/walk and abs
Friday — Rest
Saturday — Either a 30-minute run/walk or two 20-minute yoga podcast, plus arms/legs/butt
Sunday — Active rest (I walk to and from the farmer’s market, which is a little over a mile)

Yesterday’s run was 2.5 miles and not my best work, but it was at least some exercise. I also did a modified version of this ab routine for the strength component. This morning, I did a 25-minute Jivamukti yoga podcast from YogaDownload.com, and tonight I plan to do these body-weight exercises plus push-ups and tricep dips.

Fact: We’ve decided to try allowing ourselves only one meal out each week to curb our spending. Last week’s was Sunday (technically this week, but health-wise I tend to think of the week as starting on Monday). We decided to try Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank, which boasts a vegan-friendly menu and a special brunch every weekend. I couldn’t resist the biscuits and gravy, which came with a side of cheesy grits and a country fried sunflower cutlet — all of which were vegan!

It was crazy good. I’ve never been much of a grits fan, but actually liked these. Maybe I’ve just had a lifetime of terrible grits. The cutlet was gluten-based, coated in sunflower seeds, and then pan-fried. The biscuits were decent (though mine are a billion times better), but I really liked the gravy, especially the vegan sausage that was in it. It makes me excited to try their normal menu, full of veg-friendly (and meaty, too) sausages.

Above is my sexy Latin man’s Greek omelet with feta, spinach, sautéed peppers, and chopped tomatoes. He ate it in about three seconds. We’ll be back, Tony’s!

Fact: I got home last night determined to fix my blender, and it magically worked! I will share the fruits of its labors on tomorrow’s post. However, this morning, it behaved poorly once again. I am pretty sure the motor is dying, so I will have to modify my breakfast plan for the rest of the week.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back with more food (and some real life, too) tomorrow.

Vegging out at Lolla 2012

8 Aug

This year was my second trip to Lollapalooza with my husband (who was then my boyfriend) and his brother. It was a great trip on many levels, in part because I accepted the job that brought us to LA (over the phone, at a gas station somewhere in Kansas, probably). Here’s my recap of last year’s experience.

Here was my musical experience in 2012:

Loved: Trampled By Turtles (times two! Saw them at the festival and at the Double Door), Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, First Aid Kit, Florence + the Machine, Of Monsters and Men, The Shins, M83, Tallest Man on Earth, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Liked and/or Suspect I Would Have Loved If I’d Heard More of Them: Neon Indian, Sigur Ros, Black Keys, Washed Out, Toro Y Moi

Meh: Tame Impala, Jack White (please don’t kill me), White Panda

Sadly Missed Due to Weather or Schedule Conflict: Alabama Shakes, Santigold, Bombay Bicycle Club, Polica, The Devil Makes Three, Twin Shadow, Kaskade

And now, onto the food. I didn’t capture every bite, but here are some highlights:

This falafel wrap from Goose Island Brewpub was HANDS DOWN the best thing I ate at the festival. It had falafel, cabbage, cucumbers, tzatziki, shredded carrots, cucumber, and some kind of hot sauce on a pita. It was mouth-watering. I had it twice but could have easily eaten three times that many.

A close runner-up for most delicious was this mouth-watering dish of cold sesame noodles (which I covered in sri racha) from Rock ‘n Roll Noodle Company. So, so flippin’ good.

On the dessert front, I thoroughly enjoyed this little gem from Puffs of Doom. It was a raspberry lemonade cream puff. Very refreshing.

And then there was this monster of a sundae from Windsor Ice Cream Shoppe. It was the Lolla Sundae: ice cream and brownies topped with hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry in a waffle bowl. Insane! And I ate every bite.

Above is a bonus meal, Monday’s lunch from Oysy Sushi on Michigan Ave, minus the miso soup. I went with the vegetarian lunch special, and it was MASSIVE! I couldn’t eat most of it.

That’s my trip in a culinary nutshell. I am now back to the daily grind and, hopefully soon, I’ll even make it to the grocery store.

Chicago Diner

7 Aug

Hey friends! I’m fresh (and by fresh, I mean exhausted) from a trip to Chicago for Lollapalooza 2012. It was a long weekend full of great music, filthy bodies, and exhaustion, plus some food, of course. I’ll save the post on my festival eats for tomorrow/later this week. Today I want to share my trip to the Chicago Diner with you.

Meat free since ’83. Love it.

I’ve read about the Chicago Diner over and over again since becoming a vegetarian and have always wanted to try it. I did not have time during Lolla 2011, but I was dedicated to getting there this year. I woke up early — well, earlier than my husband and brother-in-law — and set out on my own. It was a fairly short and very easy trip to Lake View on the train from our hotel on Michigan Avenue and totally worth it. I did the right thing by starting out with a mimosa:

It was really hard to choose what to eat. Do any of my veggie buddies have the same problem at meat-free restaurants? I’m used to three options — several dozen is so much pressure! How did I ever choose back when I ate everything?! Anyway, I originally chose the Royal Benedict, but the waitress heartily recommended the Country Benedict (fried tofu on English muffin with garlic sautéed spinach, mushrooms, onions, and Country Sausæg Gravy, and fruit on the side). I also had to get one of the vegan cinnamon rolls.

Oh man, this was heavenly. Seriously. I ate about half of everything (well, I drank the entire mimosa) and took the rest back to the hotel room. It made great leftovers later that same day. For my Angeleno readers, I would say the Chicago Diner is similar in theme to Doomie’s Home Cookin’. Both have an emphasis on home-style, stick-to-your-ribs fare, but Chicago Diner’s food was a bit lighter and slightly less expensive. I still love me some Doomie’s, though.

More Lolla lovin’ comin’ atcha soon!

Recent comestibles

10 Jul

Hello! I am fresh off a 10-day vacation and still working to settle back into normal life. I don’t have anything truly exciting to report at the moment, so instead I’ll share some recent eats.

We recently completed our (preliminary, I’m sure) tour of vegan brunch options with Real Food Daily (the Pasadena location), suggested by Hungry Hungry Hippie. I got the Ava B ‘n’ Cheez Scramble:

And my other half got the tacos that were on special:

Both dishes were good, though it isn’t my favorite of all the places we tried. Our bill was shockingly high. I would still eat there again, though I won’t be rushing.

Another night, I had a light ‘n local dinner:

It featured cherries, strawberries, and spicy guacamole from the farmers market, as well as chips that I made from corn tortillas that were in the fridge. It was joined by a cup of fresh mint (also from the market) tea. Delicious!

The tofu obsession I mentioned before has been hanging on strong. This lazy tofu scramble was completed by local plums and more fresh mint tea:

For the tea, all I do is pour boiling water over six or so mint leaves and let them steep. I like to lightly bruise the leaves first with my thumbnails to draw out the flavor, but it couldn’t be simpler.

On the last night of vacation, we enjoyed some leftover portobello chili on top of baked potatoes:

Then we doctored them up. His (with sharp Cheddar, salt, and pepper):

And hers (nooch, pepper sauce, and black pepper):

Perfectly filling and delicious.

In related news, I’m now on a new vitamin regimen prescribed by my doctor to combat my migraines. I love having a doctor who doesn’t jump straight to “medications” and instead experiments with vitamins. Here’s the daily swallow:

In addition to my once-daily multi (the brown-ish one), I am now taking 400 mg of magnesium (the two big white ones) and 400 mg of riboflavin (the four little yellow ones). It takes two gulps, but it’s natural and has no side effects — well, other than neon yellow urine (TMI, and thank you, riboflavin!). So far, mostly good, though I know it takes three months to judge whether or not a medication of any kind is working.

So that’s my edible update for today. How have you been?