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
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?