Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan College Tour..More LALALand (sorry Californians)

Well, I missed yesterday and I do apologize but Netflix movies and red wine were calling my name so..I will blog tommorrow even though it is my birthday and we only were committing to 5 days a week.  I was initally going  to dedicate this post to two of our culinary adventures but think I will focus on Shojin because this restaurant won my heart.  I am even willing to sacrifice my child to a far away school simply to know I can eat here again next year.

Artwork by Sarah Mason Williams

This restaurant is located in an unassuming looking shopping mall in Los Angeles's Little Tokyo.  But everything from the artwork, to the gracious and kind hosts and the incredible food make it a must go vegan destination in LA.  This was our splurge meal with Appetizer, Entree and Dessert and nothing disappointed.  My daughter is anti sushi much to my disapointment so our shared appetizer was the Shojin Ravioli with the oddly names Shojin ketchup.  I say oddly named because it has a closer resemblance to a rich plum tomato sauce which perfectly balanced the delicate pasta filled with "cheese" rather than what I think of as ketchup.  My daughter had the Orange Chicken Seitan pictured below:
She is still lamenting the fact that she forgot her leftovers in the refrigerator in our room at the Hilton Checkers.  I had the Seitan Pepper Steak which was both flavorful and tender.  Our entrees came with brown rice and mixed vegetables and were simply wonderful.  For dessert we shared a Strawberry Shortcake which was one of the best desserts I have eaten anywhere.  It consisted of a dense strawberry mousse stacked on a cacao mousse and topped with a creme.  It was a raw dessert and incredibly tasty.  As our server laughingly confessed  "I like sweets."  So we were in heaven.  I cannot say enough wonderful things about this entire experience.  The staff treat you like family or long lost friends.  The food tastes amazing and the atmosphere is surprisingly lovely considering the mall location.  If you have never eaten at Shojin you need to correct that situation right away!
Tommorrow I will wrap up our LA sojourn with a review of Babycakes LA, Veggie Soul and California Vegan.  Toodles.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vegan College Tour LA Part Two (Hooray for Hollywood!)

When we last saw our heroines they were fearlously embarking upon a subway ride to Hollywood, jet lag and all.  We were highly amused to discover the trains worked on the "honor system".  Having  lived a considerable amount of time in both Boston and NYC the idea of maybe being stopped and asked to show you purchased a ticket seemed quaint and naive.  But pay for our rides we did and shortly we arrived at Hollywood and Vine.  We did the touristy thing with looking for stars on the walk of fame and fitting our hands and feet into the prints at Graumann's Chinese Theatre  (Meryl Streep and I have precisely the same size hands and feet) and touring the Hollywood Museum in the old Max Factor Building.  All of this caused us to gain an appetite so we headed for the nearest local vegan food:  My Vegan House .
Vegan House is one of what I now know to be a plethora of inexpensive vegan thai/casual food type restaurants that are all over LA.  I had a Red Curry with soy chicken, my daughter had blueberry pancakes.  Our food was good, cheap and fast which was just what we were looking for.

Another fun spot we hit while in Hollywood was Caffe Etc.  This not a vegan cafe by any stretch of the imagination but it is a fun little hang out with coffees, salads, sandwiches and deserts many of which are vegan or easily veganizable.   The ice coffee from here kept me going on more than one occasion.  So full and exhausted we headed back to the hotel and a goodnight's sleep.  Tommorrow promised a USC tour and breakfast at Babycakes,LA. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vegan College Tour: First Stop L.A.

As some of you have surmised and some of you may actually know, I have a daughter who is a senior in highschool.  I know, I know I am Lauren Graham in Gilmore Girls surely, I cannot be that old I look too BEYOOTIFUL for that...but alack and alas I assure you, I am that bleeping old.  So enough about me, like all good parents of children of a certain age, I have spent an enormous part of the last year traveling the globe...or at least the contingenous US to look at schools.  What pray tell does this have to do with MOFO?  Well, I have been traveling vegan and therefore have had the pleasure of sampling the wares of a few of our fine cities and am prepared to share my findings with you. 

Our first stop was Los Angeles, CA home to USC and neighbor to Chapman University in Orange.  This required a transcontinental flight via Continental Airlines which at that time still served food for this length flight.  Due to numerous nightmare stories about airplane food and mix ups with special requests, we flew fully prepared with Lara Bars, Trail Mixes and other goodies.  To our surprise and chagrin (we were stuffed with junk food)  our breakfast was not only vegan (or pure vegetarian as the menu stated) but edible.  We were served a breakfast sandwich with consisted of a vegan sausage pattie and soy cheese on a vegan english muffin , which was quite good.  Also we were given a quinoa salad, fresh fruit and a vegan chocolate chip cookie.  Our neighbors who were given some horrific looking omelette in a pita thing looked jealous of our food.  So other than the fact that airplanes appear to have severely shrunk the seat sizes and leg room and the high strung passengers we shared our plane with, the flight to LA was pretty good.

We arrived at LAX and proceeded to our hotel, the Hilton Checkers downtown.  I should at this point bring up a rule of our college tours which was that my daughter and I would not use a form of transportation that she would not have available to her while at school.  Which means in a nutshell, we were doing LA by public transportation and shuttle.  So our hotel's proximity to both subway and bus lines was great.  We checked in, dropped off our luggage and jet lag and all took the subway to Hollywood., where our adventure will continue tommorrow.