For the past week, it has been raining non-stop here in LA! I thought I left the wet, cold temperatures back in Korea, but it seems that it decided to follow me here. The first few days, I just embraced it as one of the imperfections of my vacation, but after about 6 days of never-ending downpour, I started to turn into Little Miss Cranky Pants, which is never a pretty sight. :)
My sister and I originally wanted to do a bunch of outdoor things like go hiking, go to the Griffith Observatory, and go to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, but the rain really affected our plans. So instead, we’ve been keeping busy by shopping for things to take back to Korea, hitting the gym in my sister’s apartment building, watching old episodes of ‘Cake Boss,’ and going to the movies. The other day we saw ‘The Fighter’ which was a really good film. Christian Bale’s acting blew me away and I would be surprised if he didn’t get a bunch of awards for that performance. Oh yea, and we’ve also been eating a ton of vegan comfort food!
On the weekend, my sister and I were in OC and we went to Royal Thai restaurant in Garden Grove for some amazing, heart-warming Thai food. We ordered their ‘Tom Yum Phak’ hot pot, which originally uses chicken broth, but the kind older lady serving us offered to make it with vegetable broth, no problem. The dish was basically a hot and sour soup loaded with vegetables, chili, lemongrass, mushrooms, and kaffir lime leaves. There was even a real flame coming out the middle, keeping everything nice and warm. The lemongrass flavor was pretty strong, but it was really delicious and completely comforting- just what my body wanted on a cold, wet day.
We also ordered some Thai red curry with vegetables (rather than tofu), which was simply amazing. This picture only shows a tiny serving of the huge portion that came out. It was the largest portion of red curry I’ve ever gotten at a Thai restaurant. My sister and I ate til we were full and still had leftovers for dinner.
We also went to M Cafe for a second time, where I got to meet up with a reader-turned-friend Janice! I first met Janice this past summer when she was visiting Seoul, so it was only fitting that we meet up while I was in her neck o’ the woods. I just think it’s so awesome that I got to see her again, on the other side of the world. She’s also veg*an, so she’s very familiar with the veg scene in LA and suggested a bunch of places I should check out while here.
The cake texture was nice and quite moist, but the “whipped cream” in between the layers felt a bit weird on the tongue, and all of us agreed that the cake was also lacking in coffee/liquor flavor. Altogether, it was just a little bland… :( However, aside from the lackluster tiramisu, everything else was yummy yum yum. And while we were enjoying our lunch, we spotted Kirsten Dunst! :)
Janice’s mom is apparently starting up a small date jam business, making homemade goodness with honest ingredients, no added sugar or preservatives. I dig it. We haven’t cracked them open yet, but I know they’re going to be delicious.
In addition to eating out at Royal Thai and M Cafe, yesterday, my sister and I met up with a bunch of friends from my sister’s Church for dinner at Forage in Silverlake. It’s not a specifically veg restaurant, but they specialize in local, seasonal, fresh and organic eats, many of which are veg*an.
The servers were really helpful in pointing out the ones I could enjoy and it was a tough call, but in the end, I picked 2 sides: a Lentil-Barley Salad, and a warm dish of white beans in some creamy sauce, topped with breadcrumbs and toasted garlic bits (totally vegan). The lentil-barley salad was good, but it was the white bean dish that I was really crazy about, probably because it was more hearty, warm, and cold-weather appropriate. I couldn’t easily gone back for second and third helpings of that stuff!
I’ve also been frequenting the hot food bar at Whole Foods, since there’s one really close to where my sister lives. Everything is just so flavorful, it’s really hard to not go crazy and overload my box with all the amazing vegan options!
It may seem like I’ve been eating every meal outside, but my sister and I have been cooking meals at home too. I would say that it’s been about half-half. While the vegan food at restaurants is amazingly, I’ve also found myself craving simpler, home-cooked meals. Eating out can be tiring, expensive and time-consuming, and I also sometimes miss just being in the kitchen and eating the more familiar flavors of my hodge-podge cooking. I didn’t get to photograph any of our cooking, but it’s mostly been rice, sauteed veggies, and loads of kabocha squash, oranges, and mangoes.
We’ve also enjoyed some quick ‘n’ easy store-bought meals, such as tonight’s dinner which was a bowl of vegan Trader Joe’s butternut squash soup, sprouted grain bread, and pre-cooked edamame beans. Super delicious.
Oh, and also vegan cheesecake! Yes, I eat desserts for snacks. I mentioned in a previous post that vegan cheesecake is on my bucket-list, and after a little online research, I learned about Earth Cafe‘s cheesecakes, which can be found at Whole Foods, and even Ralphs, both of which are super close to where my sister lives! Everyone from the likes of Quarrygirl and even VegWeb magazine seem to have nothing but praise for their goods, so I knew I had to try ’em out. And oh my gaw! I got the ‘Cherry Dream’ flavor and even though I let it sit out too long to the point where it got a bit mushy, it was still soooo good. I couldn’t get over how creamy, rich, and just straight-up delicious the filling part was, and the nutty crust & topping was also perfection. I savored every bite of that $6 slice, so much so that I didn’t even let my sister have a taste!
Infact, it was so good that the next day, I went and got another one. This time, I went with the ‘Strawberry Fields’ flavor, and if possible, I think I might like this one even better than the ‘Cherry Dream’ one. I also let my sister have a little wedge (she likes!). I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating more of Earth Cafe’s cheesecakes before I leave… I gotta try the other flavors! Oh, and not only are they vegan, but they’re also gluten-free, soy-free, and totally raw. I have no idea how Earth Cafe does it, but mad props to them.
Without a doubt, all this insanely good vegan food has brought some cheer to this otherwise drab rainy week. However, it’s been about 6 days of cold wetness and I’m craving sunshine more than anything else. Today it got to the point where I was starting to get a little depressed! Just as I was about to shake my fist at the sky while exclaiming in angry frustration, “Why now, LA, why??!“, God decided to give me a sign of hope and a reminder that it’s not all about me. For a brief moment, the dark clouds opened up a crack to let in a stream of bright sunlight, which created a gorgeous rainbow. And not just any rainbow- a double rainbow!
Haha, I’m sure we’ve all seen the hilarious ‘double rainbow’ youtube video by now, and after an entire week of gloomy rain, I could totally empathize with that guy’s ecstasy.
It was so beautiful that people were parking their cars along the sidewalks to take it all in. Just seeing this grand splash of color across the sky was so special, and a much-needed reminder that there are things more important than having perfect weather on my vacation. :) Hey, I’m in LA with my sister, hanging out with wonderful people, eating good food, staying healthy… there’s so much to be thankful for. Life is good. In fact, the weather channel predicts clear skies tomorrow, so it seems that I’ll get to enjoy the outdoors for the last few days of my time here! I plan on making the most of it.
Til next time, nite nite~~