Category Archives: Restaurants

Souley Vegan

Aaaaand speaking of Souley Vegan…have you eaten here?  Well, you should!  Founder/President Tamearra Dyson and her crew serve plant-powered, Southern-style classics that remind me of the food that my “Nana” used to make.

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Every year, during my Thanksgiving vacation in the Bay Area, I enjoy at least one meal here and grab some take-out for Thanksgiving Day.  This year was no exception, as my sister-in-law and I started our “Moms’ Night Out” here with dinner.

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My SIL loves the Portabello Sandwich, and “chased” it with some Seasoned Fries.  I opted for a plate of 3 sides:  Greens, Mac and Cheese, and a Biscuit with Gravy.  Some of my other menu favorites include:  Fried Okra, BBQ Tofu, Fried Kale, Okra Gumbo, Cornbread, and Peach Cobbler.  OMG…

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Cinnamon rolls, cookies, and cakes…OH MY!!!  We had to get dessert, right?!?!

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So, we ordered cake to-go.  My SIL chose the chocolate, and I went for the vanilla.  Truthfully, mine never made it out of the restaurant.  It was soooo good!!!

After dinner, we walked around the corner to the Regal Cinemas Jack London Stadium 9 to see Malcolm Lee’s “The Best Man Holiday.”  Loved it!

Souley Vegan is located at 301 Broadway, Oakland CA 94607.

Now go feed your soul!

 

 

Thanksgivukkah 2013

Yesterday, both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (a.k.a. “Thanksgivukkah”) were celebrated for the first time since 1918.  This will not occur again until 2070.  During the course of the day, my family and I got a “taste” of both.  First, we visited our Jewish friends in San Francisco, who were making preparations for their annual Hanukkah party this weekend.  Although we will miss the festivities, we offered to help in the kitchen…

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We made Hanukkah cookies, while we discussed faith, family, and the future.

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Aaaaand we [sacrificially] offered ourselves as “taste testers” for the persimmon apple pie filling, and a quinoa dish (Hey, somebody had to do it!).

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Their pet pig was overcome by all of the delicious smells from the kitchen, and waited in anticipation for a snack.  She was too cute!

I was [secretly] hoping to watch our friends make jelly doughnuts (wife) and latkes (husband); but yesterday was not the day.  Not to mention the fact that we lost track of time, and had to make a quick exit to get to our family gathering in San Carlos.  We arrived just in time to pray and feast with our cousins…

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This was the “official” family spread; however, my crew and I enjoyed alternatives from Souley Vegan.

Overall, we had a WONDERFUL day, filled with food, friends, and family!  This is my favorite time of the year; and the fact that two holidays collided made it even more special.  I hope that you enjoyed your day with loved ones as well.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Real Food Daily

I go, you go, let’s go to WeHo!!!

Real Food Daily is my “organic vegan mother-ship.”  It’s like an oasis in an urban jungle, and usually my first stop upon arriving in LA.  In addition to the delicious meals that I have enjoyed there, I have over a decade of memories.  I’ve received compliments from celebrities about my children, mourned my father’s passing, been serenaded by the staff on my birthday, introduced friends and family to the restaurant, and so much more!  And, after many years of patronage, I finally met RFD Founder/CEO Ann Gentry, while vacationing in LA with my family this past year.  I did not hesitate to tell her, personally, how much RFD has meant to me.  As strange as it may seem, I think that it’s important to let others know how they have impacted my life.  Oftentimes, they are encouraged and deeply moved to hear that they’ve made such a difference, and it spurs them on to continue their work.  I am, and will always remain, an RFD fan.

I usually gravitate towards staple RFD menu items, such as The Club Sandwich and Faux-stess Cupcake.  However, exciting changes are made to the food roster on a seasonal basis.  Here are some highlights from lunch during my most recent visit to LA in April:

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Glow Juice and Caribbean Quesadillas, anyone???  YES, PLEASE!!!

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No, your eyes are not deceiving you.  That’s a gluten-free Vegan Chocolate Cupcake with strawberry butter cream frosting.  FABULOUS!!!

The West Hollywood location feels like home to me.  However, you can indulge your taste buds at any one of the Real Food Daily restaurants.  For more information, check here.

You down with RFD?

Veggie Grill

Vegan doesn’t have to be boring, and Veggie Grill serves up plant-based comfort food that is both delicious and budget-friendly.  When I was first introduced to this restaurant, a few years ago in Los Angeles, it was love at first bite…

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Honey, I’m HOME!!!  What’s for dinner???

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All Hail Kale Salad with Blackened Tempeh and a side of Mac-n-Cheese, that’s what!!!

Although I have tried other items on Veggie Grill’s extensive menu, the All Hail Kale Salad is my absolute favorite.  I love it so much that I searched far and wide for a recipe, so that I could “bring the party to my house.”  Fortunately for me, I am not alone in my addiction.  I found recipes here, here, and here.  And who couldn’t use another great salad recipe in their arsenal?!?!

The West Hollywood Veggie Grill holds a special place in my heart, so that’s where I get my “fix.”  That said, this casual contemporary eatery continues to expand.  For other locations check here.

Viva Veggie Grill and ALL HAIL KALE!

 

 

 

 

 

The Proposal

On August 16, 1997, my best friend and soul mate asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.  The thought of that alone was overwhelming to me (Miss Independent here!).  But the way that he did it left me completely speechless (which is quite an accomplishment).  It was like a fairytale, and I felt very much like a princess.

Jerel had scheduled a double date with our close friends.  I was told to dress up because we were going out to a nice dinner.  My girlfriend and I were getting ready at my Oakland apartment, when the intercom buzzed and we were called downstairs.  When we reached the lobby, a red carpet was rolled out from the front door to a white limousine parked in front of my building (I could have passed out right then and there, but I didn’t).  The driver greeted us at the door, handed me a tulip, and read me an original poem by Jerel about a “tulip parade.”  When he escorted us to the car and opened the door, there was a HUGE teddy bear from FAO Schwartz sitting in the backseat.  My girlfriend and I maneuvered around him, settled in, and headed to San Francisco to meet the guys.  Having anticipated an engagement for weeks prior to this, I could tell that it was going to be a special evening.  Still, I didn’t want to get my hopes up, in case it didn’t happen (Yeah, I’m guarded like that).

On our way to the Bay Bridge, the driver pulled up to the toll booth.  The attendant greeted me and handed me another tulip (What?!?!).  We crossed the  Bridge, made our way into San Francisco, and stopped at the St. Francis Yacht Club (Um, okay…what are we doing here???)  The driver parked in front of the building, kicked me out let me out of the car, and he and my girlfriend made me instructed me to walk down the path until I reached the water.  LONGEST. WALK. EVER.  It was windy and overcast too (Gotta love San Francisco in the summertime!).  I thought to myself, “This is so surreal!…What’s at the end of the path?…Where’s Jerel?!?…Does my hair look okay???”

When I finally reached the end of the path, my man was standing there waiting for me and smiling.  Jerel had placed two chairs on top of a blanket, and had soft music playing in the background.  He greeted me, then seated me in one of the chairs, and read another original poem entitled “May I.”  The poem chronicles our relationship, and culminates in the marriage proposal.

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I responded, “Yes,” and some of our closest friends emerged from behind the rocks, where they had been hiding and snapping pictures of us the entire time (Sooo sneaky!).

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Afterwards, the limo driver picked all of us up and drove us to Harris’, where Jerel and his mom treated everyone to dinner.  At my seat, there was a framed copy of the poem that Jerel wrote and read to me, along with more tulips.  After our meal, we climbed back into the limo and rode across the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was a magical evening that I’ll never forget!

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For your viewing pleasure, here is the AMAZING poem that changed my life:

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16 years later, I am humbled, grateful, and honored to be married to the man of my dreams!

 

 

Sump Coffee

I started drinking coffee during my first summer as a corporate sales and marketing intern in St. Louis, Missouri.  Once a co-worker got me hooked, I was brewing at least a few pots a day for our department.  My “relationship” with coffee lasted for about a decade.  After changing my diet and lifestyle, I stopped drinking coffee and discovered a whole new way to “have a java.”  These days, I typically pass on coffee and coffee-based drinks.  However, I will make an exception, if the coffee is served in a unique or culturally-specific way.

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During a recent visit to my hometown, I had the opportunity to experience Sump Coffee.  Located in South City, Sump is just minutes away from the place where my coffee addiction started years ago.  It’s owner, Scott Carey, is [literally] the brain behind this shop.  A former Manhattan-based attorney, Scott shed his suits, shirts, and salary to return home and create something special.  Scott is passionate about coffee and prepared to school you.  It’s all about the bean!

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Scott puts his heart and soul into every pour, and it comes through in each drink.  His attention to detail results in a delicious beverage that you’ll want to savor while seated.  I like to think of it as “love in a mug.”  And who can resist a mug like that?

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Scott made me a dirty soy chai that warmed my heart and put a smile on my face.  I enjoyed it and the atmosphere so much, that I returned for a soy latte and more details about his journey.  You can read his amazing story hereSump Coffee is located at 3700 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, MO 63118.

If you love coffee, and you’re in St. Louis, you wanna be startin’ “Sumpin’!”

Crossroads Kitchen

Recently, I dined at Crossroads Kitchen for the first time during a visit to LA.  This gourmet vegan paradise was the perfect place for a birthday celebration for two vegan-lovin’ cousins.  In my opinion, it was much-needed and long-overdue.  LA has the “casual-vegan-dining-thing” down, so it’s nice to have a more upscale option.  Thank you, Chef/Owner Tal Ronnen!

Here, it’s as much about the experience, as it is about the food.  The atmosphere at Crossroads is beautiful.  Everyone on staff was warm, friendly, and engaging.  We were seated in a comfortable booth, at a candlelit table.  Once we made our selections from the menu, our server brought on the flavors, and we embarked on a gastronomic journey that we still talk about to this day.

Melrose Mule and Sunset & Vine "mocktails" at Crossroads.

Melrose Mule and Sunset & Vine “mocktails” at Crossroads.

For our drinks, we chose the Melrose Mule and the Sunset & Vine, and had them made as “mocktails.”  YES YOU CAN!  The Melrose Mule was light and refreshing, and the  Sunset & Vine was sweet and fruity.  Both drinks were delicious, and quickly disappeared.

Kale Salad and Asparagus Soup at Crossroads.

Kale Salad and Asparagus Soup at Crossroads.

Next, we enjoyed the Kale Salad and Asparagus Soup.  You can’t go wrong with kale, as far as we’re concerned.  And the Asparagus Soup was creamy and flavorful.

Artichoke Oysters, Kale Spanakopita, and Crab Cakes at Crossroads.

Artichoke Oysters, Kale Spanakopita, and Crab Cakes at Crossroads.

Artichoke Oysters, Kale Spanakopita, and Crab Cakes…OH MY!!!  The flavors were amazing, and the presentation was awesome!  And the placement of the Artichoke Oysters on a bed of sea salt, instead of ice, was really creative.  Made from hearts of palm, the Crab Cakes were well-seasoned and had great texture.

Grapefruit Salad and Scaloppini at Crossroads.

Grapefruit Salad and Scaloppini at Crossroads.

Then we ate Red Grapefruit Salad and “Chicken” Scaloppini with marsala-glazed morel mushrooms.  The Red Grapefruit Salad was a nice palate cleanser in between some of our courses.  The Scaloppini was tender, nicely spiced, the sauce was wonderful, and we devoured it.

Chocolate Bundt Cake and Cannoli at Crossroads.

Chocolate Bundt Cake and Cannoli at Crossroads.

For dessert, we had the Chocolate Bundt Cake and the Cannoli with candied kalamata olives and almond cream filling.  INCREDIBLE!  The cake was rich and delicious.  And the cannoli were mind-blowing, with the candied kalamata olives providing an unexpected twist.  Whaaat?!?!

Chef Tal graciously came over to our table, where we showered him with compliments about the great food and service, then listened as he explained his approach to gourmet vegan cuisine.  His goal is to inspire others (regardless of their dietary preferences) by offering them foods that are familiar to them, go together, pair well, are easy to eat, and enjoyable.  He has done just that, and we’ll be back!

See you at Crossroads

Location:  8284 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, California 90046

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