I didn’t plan it this way, but I ended up eating at two purely vegan restaurants this weekend. I’m not vegan, but veganism fascinates me. Some really creative stuff happens in order to recreate the taste, texture, and overall experience of eating animal products. With the blog in mind and the help of my lovely dining dates, I took some pictures and notes so I could share my vegan adventures with you all. I’d call it a restaurant review, but I’m not much of a critic if I loved everything and have very little qualitative analysis to offer, now am I?
Friday: Real Food Daily
My friend Jess took me to a pilates class at a new studio in Santa Monica, something for which I may never forgive her. We were the only two students, which allowed our tiny, chipper instructor with the pace and mercy of a robot to pay plenty of attention to my struggle and “make sure [I wasn’t] cheating- I can tell!” There wasn’t a moment of the 50 minute class that wasn’t the most grueling exercise I’d ever done (I didn’t know that you could be sore between each rib, but oh- it’s possible), so needless to say, I was ready for some indulging when we finished. Jess suggested nachos and I couldn’t have agreed more. After considering some options, we decided to try Real Food Daily.
These puppies boasted black beans, guac, and pico de gallo where standard nacho fare was concerned. The vegan aspects kicked in with a cashew-based “not-cho” cheese sauce and taco-flavored seitan. I could have done without the seitan; faux meats aren’t my favorite to begin with, and I couldn’t really distinguish it as anything special from the rest of the goopy deliciousness, but I suppose the added protein didn’t hurt.
Saturday: Planet Raw
On Saturday I was excited to drag my carnivorous friend Josh to a lunch date at Planet Raw for a much needed catch-up. He said he’d “try anything once” so raw vegan it was! I didn’t know much about raw food philosophy going into it, and because the waiter was minimally informative, this article helped fill in the holes. Basically, in addition to using zero animal products, none of the food is ever heated at temperatures above 118 degrees Fahrenheit because of how heat affects the balance of nutrients in the raw food. I’m sure you’re thinking, as I did, “That certainly makes bread tricky, now doesn’t it.” Imagine our befuddlement when upon ordering the pesto pizza, we were informed that it wouldn’t be ready until that evening (!). Apparently, the “dough” is cooked through a combination of low heat and dehydration over a long period of time. The waiter mentioned something about the sun being involved, but it was unclear how. Point being, pizza was off the table, so we went for spring rolls and a burrito instead. See below:
These were wrapped in “coconut paper,” which was sweet with a sort of stiff tortilla texture. Inside were kelp noodles, cabbage, avocado, and an assortment of herbs (Josh tasted basil and I caught some cilantro.) They were served with a “no peanut” sauce, which tasted like peanut sauce and confused me because I wasn’t sure why there wouldn’t be peanuts, but was delicious.
“Cheese” and Guac Burrito
As much as I love healthy, plant-based versions of typical dishes, my love of Mexican food might trump here and make it hard for me to really call this a “burrito.” It was delicious, for sure. But the title of burrito is sacred and must be reserved for what you can only acquire from a hole-in-the-wall that serves carne asada after a long night of imbibing adult beverages. You might say the same for nachos, but something about the absence of the tortilla here made it especially inauthentic. Anyway, like I said- I still loved it. Seaweed paper subbed for the tortilla and had a surprisingly mild, un-sushi-ish flavor, as Josh pointed out. Inside, we found tons of greens, salsa, guac, and cashew cheese just like I had the night before at RFD. Very crunchy and flavorful.
Java Maca Shake
We just had to try a “milkshake”- how were they going to pull that off with no milk or added sugar?! Ok, maybe not so hard to guess, especially for the homemade nutmilk lady over here, that almond milk was involved. It was sweetened with honey and flavored with raw cacao and some kind of nutty granola. Then there was shaved maca, a Peruvian super-root that apparently has all kinds of medicinal and nutritional values.
If you’re worried that these vegscapades will pull me over into the land of diet extremism, please review Sunday’s menu.
Sunday: Vegan Detox
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and cheese on an English muffin courtesy of the Panini Garden
Lunch/Dinner: Dagwood’s tomato, basil, and garlic pizza with buttloads of mozzarella
Dessert: FROST Frozen Yogurt- dairy central!
If I could slap a moral on here, it would be that trying vegetarian and vegan food at the very least opens up your options of ways to incorporate more plants into your diet- which we could all use. Even if you keep your meat and cheese close at hand, be adventurous with the greens and seeds and nuts and your body will reap the benefits!