Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Evolving Meal At Evo Kitchen

As a former "cheeseaholic", I often find myself craving pizza. It's always funny when non-vegans tell me that they could never become vegan because they like pizza too much. I LOVE pizza. In fact, I like pizza even more as a vegan than I did as non-vegan. I've found that daiya is the perfect substitute to real cheese, as it replicates the texture very well and absorbs the flavors of the pizza.
One of my favorite pizzerias in Los Angeles was Pizza Fusion, which sadly closed its doors fairly recently. I was excited to learn that the Pizza Fusion in West Hollywood became Evo Kitchen, which has the same menu as Pizza Fusion, but even more vegan options. When Evo Kitchen had a deal on Living Social recently for $12 for $24 worth of food, I snatched one up. A couple weekends ago, I finally got the chance to use it

I began the meal with the Raw Veggies and Fig Tapenade ($7).

This was delicious. The veggies were so crisp and fresh tasting. The bell peppers were very juicy and carrots and celery sticks were very crunchy. The fig tapenade was my favorite dip. It was very succulent, yet had a subtle bitterness. The hummus dip was also very good, although it was not as creamy and oily as hummus typically is. It had a wonderful chickpea flavor, with notes of tahini. 

Next, I created my own pizza. I had the personal size pizza with vegan chicken, avocado, and sundried tomatoes with daiya cheese ($12).

This pizza was delicious. The crust was thin and crispy and coated in a generous layer of sweet marinara sauce. The veggie chicken was very savory and slightly chewy, while the avocado had a rich flavor. The sundried tomato added a lovely bitterness and saltiness to the pizza. The daiya cheese was perfectly melted and complimented the toppings very well.

Lastly, I had a vegan brownie ($5).

The brownie was delicious. It was very moist and airy and had a rich, chocolate taste. It was very decadent, yet was not too sweet. The powdered sugar took it over the top. I regret not getting the brownie a la mode with some coconut sorbet, as this would have made the brownie even better.

I enjoyed the meal very much, but found the service to be lacking. The restaurant is fairly small, yet I still was ignored. It took quite a while before someone came to take my order and then once it was placed, my food took a long time to be brought out.  It is also very annoying that they only validate for 1 hour and then the parking garage rates jump up quickly. Nevertheless, the food was very flavorful. With the Living Social voucher the price was quite reasonable. The meal only cost me about $16 total, which was a good deal considering all of the food I ordered. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Rawmazing Dinner At Euphoria Loves Rawvolution

Fresh from my week of raw food diet, I ventured with some friends for even more food at Euphoria Loves Rawvolution. This is the lovely raw cafe in Santa Monica that provided me with the raw box I had enjoyed the prior week. Luckily, I had another Groupon voucher there, this one for a meal for 2 people that I had purchased for $22. This included 2 entrees and 2 drinks. Since there were three of us diners, we decided to order an appetizer to ensure we would have enough food for all of us.

We began the meal with the Coconut Jerky appetizer with cashew mayo ($8).

This was delicious. The coconut jerky mimicked beef jerky perfectly. It was very tough and chewy and had a savory flavor. The cashew mayo sauce was very rich and creamy and had a subtly sweet sauce.

Next, we had the Pad Thai bowl ($14).

This dish was phenomenal. Since the restaurant was out of kelp noodles, they substituted zucchini noodles instead. The noodles worked perfectly in this dish. They were thick and slurpy and absorbed the sweet, nutty sauce. This dish was very spicy from the chili flavoring. The creamy glob on top added a slight sweetness to the dish.

Next, we had the Nachos Grande ($12.50).

These nachos were fantastic. The raw corn chips were very crunchy and had a slightly salty taste. The cheese sauce was so creamy and had a wonderful nutty flavor. The guacamole added a richness to the dish and had a lovely smooth consistency. The salsa added a mild spice. The walnut taco meat was very savory and enhanced the spiciness of the dish.

For dessert, we had the Papaya Coconut Cheesecake ($8).

This cheesecake was amazing. It had a wonderful succulent flavor from the papaya, which was slightly contrasted by the subtle bitterness of the coconut. The goji berry topping added a lovely tartness. The consistency was superb and was very creamy.

To wash everything down we shared two beverages. The first was the Chocolate Maca Shake ($7.75).

This smoothie was so decadent and creamy. It had a wonderful chocolaty taste. It could have been a little  sweeter, but it was very enjoyable and complimented the food very well.

Lastly, we had the Goji Berry Lemonade ($6.75).

This drink was also very good. It was very tart and had a very subtle sweetness. Nevertheless, it was very refreshing and provided a lovely cooling sensation after drinking it.

Overall, the meal was fabulous. Every dish was very flavorful and had its own unique taste and textures. While the food and beverages were quite expensive, as raw food typically is, I was thankful that the Groupon brought down the price significantly. The meal cost less than $40 total, which is a great deal for raw food. I cannot wait to dine there again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Raw Week In Review

I always try to eat healthier in the summer, as my stomach seems to have a difficult time digesting food when the weather is hot. While the weather has been crazy this summer in LA and has mostly consisted of chilly days, my body still senses that it's summer and desires lighter food. Thus, I was happy to use a Groupon that I purchased a few months ago to redeem it for a week's worth of raw food for Euphoria Loves Rawvolution.

I started with the Big Matt with Cheese, which seems to be one of Rawvolution's signature dishes.

This was delicious. The burger was very savory and had a meaty flavor and the cashew cheese was very creamy. The accompanying pickles added a slight bitterness, which contrasted with the sweetness of the tomato slices. The lettuce leaf was very crispy, while the raw bread added a wonderful crunchiness.

Next, I had the broccolini salad.

I really didn't enjoy this dish. It had no flavor to it. It had a very light sprinkling of salt, but really needed some seasonings to spruce it up. The broccolini had a great texture and would have been lovely coated in a scrumptious cashew cheese sauce.

Next, I had the Thai Curry Soup.

This soup was fantastic, although the mushrooms were very off-putting. The soup was very smooth and creamy and had a mild spice. The coconut flavor was very dominant. There was a subtle minty taste, which was quite refreshing.

Next, I had the Scarborough Fair Soup.

This soup was similar to the Thai Curry, but was even creamier and had a wonderful blend of vegetables. It had a very mild spice and was seasoned very well.

Next, I had the Greek Pizza.

This was very delicious. There were layers of greens on top of a crispy raw olive bread, coated in a dense nutty cheese spread and topped with succulent bell peppers.

Next, I had the Mock Chicken Salad.

This was also one of my favorites, although not very aesthetically pleasing. The celery and nut concoction mimicked real chicken perfectly, as it tasted very meaty. There was a creamy "mayo" sauce, which greatly enhanced the flavor of the mock chicken.

Next, I had the Mediterranean Tabouli.

This was a step above the Broccolini salad, but I still didn't enjoy it very much. It had an odd consistency and was very soggy. It also tasted way too bitter and was difficult to eat.

Next, I had the Nut Loaf with BBQ Sauce.

This dish was decent. The nut loaf had a savory taste, although it was a little too bitter. The accompanying sauce was pretty good, although it could have been sweeter to tone down the flavor of the nut loaf.

Next, I had the Sloppy Joe Sandwich.

I found this dish to be quite enjoyable, although the name was very deceiving. This was simply a nut patty on a bed of lettuce with some raw bread. The patty was moderately spiced and had a lovely chili flavor. 

Next, I had the Summer Corn Salad.

This dish was amazing. The corn was so sweet and juicy, which was contrasted with the bitter celery and onion slices. There was a wonderful creamy sauce that added a light spiciness to the dish.

Next, I had the Strawberry Cream Parfait.

This was advertised as a dessert, but did not taste like one at all. The strawberries had a lovely sweet flavor, but the cashew cream sauce was slightly bitter. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable to eat and tasted very refreshing.

Lastly, I had the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls.

This dessert was fantastic. These tasted like decadent truffles loaded with chocolate chips. The taste of cacao butter was strong and left an aftertaste in my mouth that lingered for quite a while.

Overall, the food was very good. Each dish was filling and I love that I didn't feel weighed down after eating. I would have preferred that Rawvolution allow for my customizable orders, since I did not like some of the dishes. I know this is very difficult to do with a meal delivery service, but Vegin' Out allows you to double up on certain dishes in place of others. Still, I found the box to be a very good deal, since the Groupon voucher only cost me $60. I cannot wait for my next order. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Dazzling Deal From Drugstore.com

So many of my friends have told me that they would love to purchase natural/organic products but do not because they cannot afford it. Truth be told, neither can I. But, almost all of the items that I use are natural/organic because I never pay full price. One of my favorite bargain stores is drugstore.com. They constantly have amazing sales in their "Green" section. Today, I received an email from them that on top of their already discounted prices, EVERY natural/organic product will be even further discounted at an extra 20% off (until next Sunday).

I love this website because they have some of my favorite brands, from Alba Botanica to Seventh Generation to Jarrow Formula. Even better, they have tons of vegan makeup options and have way more options than any Natural Foods store. If you purchase at least $25 worth of products, you score free shipping along with no sales tax. Also, if you're a new customer, there are tons of discount codes floating around the internet all the time. This is such a great way to stock up on your favorite products. I used this sale to purchase some B12 vitamins, Tom's of Maine mouthwashes, sunscreen, and cleaning spray. Thanks to the automatic coupons that Drugstore.com applied to my order, I saved about $20.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Magical Meal At Madeleine's Bistro

On my dad's visit to LA, we made sure to stop at the beloved Madeleine's Bistro in Tarzana. This is one of our favorite places to dine at and the only vegan restaurant in LA that is truly fine dining. We each opted for the four course tasting menu, which is the best deal for $40 a person. The food is exquisite and the portions are very reasonable.

We began with a bowl of soup, which was Summer Corn Bisque.

The soup was very creamy and had a lovely sweet flavor. The taste of corn was very dominant. The eggplant bacon took the dish over the top, adding a crispiness and smoky flavor that sharply contrasted the soup.

Next, I had the Beet Tartare, which is Madeleine's signature dish.

This is by far my favorite dish on the menu and I order this every time I dine at Madeleine's. The beet top was so sweet and luscious and soft to the touch. The tofu cheese crouton had a crispy breading and a warm creamy interior that was perfectly salted. The cucumbers were thinly sliced and was lightly coated in a sauce that gave them a slightly sweet flavor.

My dad ordered the Raw Primavera Chopped Salad.

The salad was delicious. The vegetables were very crunchy and were coated in a slightly tangy vinaigrette. The cucumber capellini mimicked noodles perfectly and were very slurpy.

Next, I had my main course, Korean BBQ style "Short Ribs".

This dish was fantastic. The seitan strips very meaty and savory and coated in a tangy, smoky sauce. I normally am not a huge fan of green beans, but these were glazed in a scrumptious marinade. The potato was deep fried to perfection. There was a wonderful pistachio puree, which was very creamy and nutty.

My dad ordered the Slider Combo as his main dish.

The bigger mack was a spot on representation of a bacon-cheeseburger. The seitan patty was very meaty, while the cheese slice tasted just like American cheese. The filet-no-fish burger had a crispy breading over a seitan patty. The patty had a fishy taste and the tartar sauce added a lovely bitterness. The coleslaw and potato salad were wonderful accompaniments and both were very creamy with their own bitter flavors.

Next, we had dessert. I ordered the Chocolate Souffle.

The souffle was magnificent. It a little flaky on the outside and so warm and gooey inside. It had a rich chocolaty taste and was very decadent. The scoop of vanilla ice cream added a coolness to the souffle and had a very creamy consistency.

Next, I had some of my dad's Bananas Foster Split.

This sundae was amazing. There was the luscious scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with hot fudge, strawberry and caramel sauces. The bananas enhanced the sweetness of the ice cream and were very gooey. The whipped cream took the sundae over the top, adding a light, airiness and extra sweetness to the dessert.

Overall, the meal was fabulous. Everything we had was very tasty. I love how innovative the food is at Madeleine's and any stubborn omnivore would leave happy and satisfied. My only complaint is that the restaurant is open limited hours, only on the weekends, and is quite a trek from Los Angeles. We used some promotional gift certificates I purchased from Madeleine's Bistro the end of last year for $10 for $20. It was still pretty expensive, but I felt good saving some money.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Riveting Brunch At Real Food Daily

A couple of weeks ago, I dined at one of my favorite restaurants, Real Food Daily, for their Sunday brunch. Not only is their food amazing, but their brunch items are spectacular. Since my dad was in town and loves RFD, I knew I had to take him there.

My dad ordered the Pancake Platter with blueberry pancakes ($14.50).

I tried some of his dish and it was fantastic. The pancakes were very light and fluffy and had a buttery flavor. The blueberries were very juicy and gave the pancakes a wonderful sweetness. The tempeh bacon was very crispy and had a smoky flavor. The hash browns had a lovely crunchiness and tasted very savory.

Next, I had my own dish, the Weekender with french toast ($14.25).

This is the best dish to order, since it provides a sampling of a variety of breakfast foods. The tofu scramble was very eggy and perfectly salted. The jalapeno cashew cheese added a mild spice to the dish and was very creamy. The french toast was some of the best I've had, vegan or not. Similar to the tofu scramble, it had a very eggy flavor which was greatly enhanced by the sweet cinnamon coating. The bread was also thick and absorbed the batter perfectly. The tempeh bacon and hash browns were wonderful accompaniments.

Overall, the meal was superb. Each dish had its own unique flavor, which played off very well with the accompanying dishes. We used my dad's $10 off birthday coupon and received a fantastic deal. The meal was around $25 with the discount. I definitely recommend spending a lazy Sunday at the RFD brunch. I cannot wait to return in the near future.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Zesty Dinner At Zephyr Vegetarian Cafe

On my dad's recent trip to Los Angeles, we headed down to Long Beach to see the lovely musical, Spamalot! Before the show, we dined at Zephyr Vegetarian Cafe, which is a quaint little cafe that is perfect for studying or lounging around. We used a coupon from the Entertainment Book for a free entree ($8 off).

We began the meal with cheesy garlic bread ($6), which was the appetizer special of the day.

The garlic bread was toasted very well and was crunchy. The focaccia bread was coated in a lovely buttery garlic sauce, layered with globs of daiya cheese. The daiya cheese was melted perfectly and took on the flavors of the garlic spread. There was an accompanying tomato sauce, which was very creamy and had a mild spice.

Next, my dad ordered a tempeh sandwich with vegetables ($9).

The tempeh was lightly fried and slightly crispy. It had a mild smoky flavor. The vegetables were well-cooked and the avocado added a wonderful creaminess. The bread was toasted perfectly and really soaked up the flavors of the sandwich. There was a wonderful puffy chip accompanying the sandwich, along with a mildly spicy salsa.

Next, I had my own dish: seitan stir-fried with veggies in a teriyaki sauce ($8).

This was fantastic. The chunks of seitan were very juicy and savory. The vegetables were well-cooked and soft and delectable. The teriyaki sauce generously coated the seitan and veggies and had a tangy flavor.

Lastly, we had a carrot cupcake (not pictured) ($3.75). The cupcake was fantastic. It was perfectly moist and the carrot flavor of the cake was subtle and not overpowering. The cream cheese frosting was so succulent and had a rich flavor, yet was light and airy.

Overall, the meal was fabulous. The food was flavorful and filling and not too oily. With the discount, the meal cost us about $24, which included tax, tip, and drinks. I would definitely return to Zephyr if I'm in the area again.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Radiant Lunch At Real Food Daily

My dad recently visited me, so I made sure to take him to Real Food Daily, which is one of his favorite restaurants in Los Angeles. We had a couple of promotional gift cards that I received from a FARM event, which gave us a $10 off discount. We both decided to order items from the "Specials" menu, since these are typically better than the food on RFD's main menu.

My dad ordered the Green Goddess Salad ($15).

This salad was spectacular and unlike any I've had before. The mixed greens were very crunchy and the avocados were rich and creamy. There were edible flowers that were slightly bitter. My favorite part of the salad was the fried onions, which were perfectly crispy and salty. The dressing was very scrumptious and greatly enhanced the already flavorful salad.

I ordered the Mexico City Tacos ($16), which is my all-time favorite meal at Real Food Daily.

The taco shells were very crispy and lightly salted. The tempeh "taco meat" was very savory and juicy, mimicking real meat perfectly. The jalapeno cashew cheese sauce was very creamy and had a smoky, cheesy taste. It complimented the "taco meat" very well, providing an extra saltiness. The avocado chunks helped tone down the spices a bit. The accompanying rice was also very savory and had a hearty taste. The jicama salad was very refreshing and cooling. It had a lovely sweet flavor that contrasted the tacos and rice wonderfully.

For dessert, we had two scoops of ice cream: chocolate and mint chocolate (not pictured). Since it took so long, the waiter only charged us for one scoop. The ice cream was so smooth and creamy and decadent. I appreciated that it was not too sweet and did not have an artificial taste, as many ice creams do.

Overall, the meal was fantastic. I loved all of the flavors of the dishes and admired the use of unique ingredients. I always feel great after eating at Real Food Daily, as the food is very delicious, yet is still fairly healthy. I am glad that they keep the oil to a minimum and still are able to produce delectable dishes. With the discount, the meal came out to less than $30 total.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Some Crazy Good Food At Cowboys And Turbans

Cowboys and Turbans in Silverlake is a true gem. Hidden in a discreet strip mall in a bohemian area, the restaurant appears to be a hole-in-the-wall establishment, but there is a tranquil patio with a wonderful ambiance. On my most recent visit, my friends and I cozied up to the warming fire, enjoying our eclectic meal of Indian-Mexican fusion delicacies.

We began the meal with a Spinach Samosa ($6).

The samosa was huge. It was the size of at least 2 or 3 normal samosas. It was very delicious. It was like a combination of a samosa and spanikopita. The samosa was deep-fried and very crispy. The pastry was very flaky and buttery. In the interior was a lovely spinach concoction that was mildly spiced and slightly chewy.

Next, we had the Cauliflower Samosa ($6).

This samosa was similar to the spinach one in that the outside was very crispy and had a lovely flakiness.  The interior, however, was very different. The cauliflower had a curry flavor and was very spicy. It was soft and easy to chew.

Next, we had the Tofu Masala Burrito ($9).

This dish was a fantastic fusion of Mexican and Indian flavors. The tortilla was thick and slightly chewy and absorbed the masala sauce very well. The tofu was very savory and had a meaty taste. The marsala sauce had a rich tomato flavor and was very creamy. The accompanying chips were freshly baked, lightly salted and were very crispy. I would have preferred that they were served with salsa.

Next, we had the Indian Farmer's Dal ($11).

This dish was also very good. The lentils tasted very hearty and there was a lovely spinach taste. There was also a subtle ginger flavor. This dish was very spicy and left my mouth burning.

Lastly, we had Aloo Gobi Pizza ($11).

The pizza was the definite highlight of the meal. This was a wonderful fusion of Indian and Italian cuisines. The crust was perfectly crispy and had a wonderful doughy taste. The cauliflower and potato mixture was lightly spiced and had subtly sweet flavors from the mango chutney and tomatoes. There were notes of ginger. The daiya cheese melted perfectly and blended well with the seasonings and spices of the curry concoction.

Overall, the meal was fantastic. Everything was flavorful and I really appreciated the fusion of a variety of cuisines. The seasonings from each cuisine truly enhanced their counterparts. With the $15 for $30 Groupon voucher that we had, the meal only cost $15 a person, since there were three of us. We were completely stuffed and could barely move after the meal. I will definitely return, hopefully with another deal in hand.