I just returned from a superb trip to Los Angeles. I absolutely love my friends and family in LA. My wonderful older brother Asher and I are both vegan and get along smashingly (incidentally, he’s @Smasherbrown on Twitter!) and had an amazing time seeing friends, making delicious vegan smoothies, juices, soups, bean dishes, steamed greens, and doing other fun sibling stuff–even cleaning the backyard to indie music at full blast is fun with my brother–seriously.
While in LA I actually only ate at two restaurants–three times = a charm at Sage Organic Vegan Bistro, an Echo Park favorite located on Sunset Blvd. just a few blocks from my brother’s beautiful home, and the second was Xoia Vietnamese restaurant, also on Sunset Blvd a few blocks from Sage, which I went to with my college friend and his lovely partner.
At Xoia, my friends and I shared mushroom/tofu spring rolls to start and as a main I got the Vegetarian Mi Quang, which included wide rice noodles served with tofu, shiitake, enoki and beech mushrooms, lettuce, bean sprouts, sprinkles of crushed peanuts, banana blossom, fresh mints, and sesame crackers in a shiitake broth. Everything was so delicious, I would definitely return!
Though I went to Sage three times this trip, each time I veered in different menu directions. The first visit was a catchup lunch with my fabulous friend Puki. I ordered the “street tacos” and for dessert we shared the raw chocolate espresso cake. It was pretty amazing. In the picture I’ve featured it shows the street tacos served with rice and beans, but I opted to have mine with salad (not pictured).
The next time I went to Sage was brunch with my brother and some of our mutual friends; my college friend and his partner, Kelsey, and Ivory! I ordered gluten-free vegan waffles and an almond mylk latte. The third time I went was with Mark Hawthorne and lauren Ornelas, who generously took me and my brother out to lunch! I had the kale salad and the chocolate superfood ice cream (amazing) and it was seriously so sweet of Mark and lauren to drive out to Echo Park and to treat us to such a decadent, ethical, organic lunch. Truly lovely.
Other gastronomic highlights of the trip included smoothie making with my bro–we got really into using various protein powders, chia, berries, local fruits and greens and even young thai coconuts! My bro has a Vitamix so it was super convenient to make them each morning–including on the way to BodyPump classes which I attended at a local gym downtown–I’m trying to build these little plant-based muscles! Asher and I also held a little vegan taco dinner party at Pollution Studios, the film studio he runs and co-owns! Some of our friends came down to the studio to help us cook and eat and I want to give special props to the wonderful June Zandona, a sweetheart vegan Los Angeles based director and cinematographer who spearheaded the thumbprint cookie-making.
The trip had many other highlights, including gluten free vegan challah making, frequent scenic hikes in Elysian Park, decaf almond mylk lattes at Fix, trips to Erewhon, dancing at Pollution, watching the Avatar cartoon series (it’s a really beautiful and inspiring show with a vegan protagonist!) and beating Zelda: Skyward Sword with my brother, celebrating Christmas with movies and vegan Chinese food (it was pretty good and definitely satisfied our craving for tradition), going to Shabbat at LGBTQ-friendly synagogue Kol Ami while managing to get in some work and writing at the same time. I’m back in Philly now; there’s snow on the ground and I just made the best Spinach Ginger Beet Energy Juice! Here’s the recipe:
Spinach Ginger Beet Energy Juice (Serves 2)
1 large beet
1/2 large ginger knob
1 medium cucumber
2 cups spinach
1 small apple
Juice it in a juicer or use my technique to make the juice in a blender. Enjoy immediately.
I’m gearing up for 2013 with my beloved and feeling super grateful for all of the blessings–especially those of family and friends–in my life. Happy 2013!