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If you have been following my blog or Instagram account, then you already know I am an omnivore. I am truly an omnivore in the most literal sense; I love things like fish eyeballs, raw oysters, snails, beef tongue, tripe, duck feet, veal kidneys, and lamb pancreas. Really. Love. Eating. All. That.

When a talented chef is at the helm, I even love sea urchin in pasta, grazie Sal for showing me the light:) The flip side of all the animal I eat is that I also eat and enjoy many vegan and vegetarian dishes. The key for me is the talent of the chef. One of my favorite vegan dishes of all time was the Jerk Salad at Native Foods before it was taken off the menu. I have a few vegetarian and vegan friends, so finding places that serve foods they will eat and that I like is a rare and wonderful experience.

By Chloe is an New York transplant which now has one location here in CA. It is a 100 % vegan cafe, but in light of recent news, the founder has left the brand (or was fired), so we shall see how this all plays out. For now, I can say that I loved everything, from the clean aesthetic and the environmentally thoughtful utensils, to the flavors in every bowl.

The $10.95 Kale Caesar with shitake bacon, avocado, tomatoes, almond parm, maple wheat croutons, and caesar dressing was probably my favorite of all the salads we ordered. The shitake bacon was addictive!

The $11.95 spicy Thai salad with apricot sriracha glazed tempeh, almonds, quinoa, edamame, scallion, and crispy wontons with peanut dressing, had a nice balance of textures.

The $11.95 Quinoa Taco salad with spicy seitan chorizo, black beans, sweet corn, avocado, tomato, tortilla strips, crema, and an agave lime vinaigrette, was filling and fresh.

 They have burgers and fries, and of course vegan condiments for both.

It’s a vegan place so animals are welcome, and they sell doggie treats, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Humane Society 🙂

 Desserts galore, including a few gluten free options.

True Food Kitchen opened in Santa Monica a few years ago (see my previous blog post), and they have been expanding both their menu and locations ever since then. The kale salad was my favorite back then and is still delicious, now offered with protein additions, so I ordered it with shrimp for a total of $14.50

The Seasonal Ingredient Salad was a hearty mix of seasonal vegetables for $14.50 that was so umami rich, that my friends could have easily eaten twice the small serving.

I didn’t expect the brussel sprout pizza with mushrooms to be very good, but I was pleasantly surprised by the yeasty crust and the unusual topping. I am a pizza snob after eating at Bonci, so being pleasantly surprised by anything called pizza here in the US is a rare compliment 🙂

Hmmm now that I’ve eaten such clean vibrant plant based food, I think I want some steak tartare 🙂

My name is Elaine and I am addicted to kitchen supplies.

I don’t really need more dishes, but my excuse for going to Dish Depot was to buy two “plain white plates” so that when I take pictures of food there is a nice neutral background. It was a valid reason for me to check out the place that is like Ali Baba’s cavern for all things porcelain at fantastic prices. There is a reason restaurants come here to stock up and replenish their supplies. While I was shopping a couple of restaurant owners were loading up their SUV with four CASES of dishes. If you only need a few, they will sell you a small quantity, so just bring cash and a good eye for quality underneath the dust and stacks. This is not Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table, so don’t expect any kind of order or presentation; keep in mind that the prices are why you are here. If you don’t want to rummage, and prefer your porcelain in pristine condition, don’t come here. If you love finding a steal and don’t mind running your purchase through a dishwasher, you will love it here.

 

 

They also have new and used kitchen equipment, ranging from professional espresso machines to heavy duty safety gloves. Meander and choose at your leisure, then find the small office and pay for your purchase (cash); Sam will ask how you found them and if you are a first time customer he will offer you a gift 🙂

After my haul of two white 12″ heavy porcelain plates and an Italian bar tool, totaling the princely sum of $6, I drove over to the Americana at Brand. I had heard of this mixed residential and shopping center, but had never been. The fake Eiffel Tower made me smile, and the open layout with a grassy fountain area in the center reminded me of the Grove. They even have a track for a trolley (that wasn’t anywhere to be seen).

Nearly all the major brands have stores here, and Nordstrom’s has an upper level outdoor terrace restaurant/bar where I enjoyed the view below along with some calamari.

 After wandering around the entire complex, the only thing I really wanted to buy was this 🙂

 

One of my friends used to live in South Pasadena so she suggested that we meet for lunch at Heirloom Bakery. They have a nice outdoor patio and they are only a few steps from the South Pasadena Metro stop, so it’s a pleasant and easy stop for breakfast or lunch. I chose the turkey panini with fresh spinach and tomato with a schmear of pesto that helped elevate the flavor beyond the ordinary.

My friend chose the quiche of the day and I had a taste so I could write about it. The filling was light but I found the underdone. The fresh tomatoes on the side were a nice touch, but some needed some dressing and a better presentation imho.

My friend ordered the bean salad as a side and this definitely needed some zest and seasoning.

On another evening my friends and I walked over to Communal half a block away from the Farmers’ Market for some craft beers and more food.

They were very generous with allowing us to taste several before making up our minds. I decided on the locally brewed Smog City Amber Ale. We ordered the twice fried Kennebec fries for $5 but they were too starchy for my taste, although my friends liked them.

We also ordered the crispy chicken wings with spicy porter BBQ  sauce and we all enjoyed them $8.

The hit of the evening were the mussels (a special) with a spicy tomato broth and a fabulous garlic toast that was absolutely perfect for either a full meal or for sharing.

Night Market at Grand Park is literally in the middle of Downtown LA, with easy public transportation (Civic Center stop on Red and Purple Metro lines), iconic landmarks, and this week-end, the added bonus of plentiful food options all in one place.

I went with four friends who all love to eat (they wouldn’t be friends otherwise), and we started with Nomad, a NYC transplant that now has not only food, but also a hotel here in Los Angeles.

Menus at many of the trucks were abbreviated for the sake of the festival, but a few signature items remained, and in the case of Nomad, the presentation in color coordinated boxes and shopping bags was a nice touch even though it wasn’t very ecologically minded.

The yellow beets with shaved fennel, chevre, strawberries, and rye crisp was an unusual combination of textures, flavors, and colors. We found this an interesting option for $9, but not sure we would order it again, but we were all glad to have tried it.

There fried fish sandwich with piquillo aioli and cabbage slaw for $11 was enjoyed by everyone, but I would have preferred a higher fish to bread ratio.

We passed the Cousins Lobster truck on the way into the park and one of my friends insisted on trying them, so we got two orders of the lobster tacos for $20 each order of 3.

The bits of Maine lobster were perfect, but the tortillas were terrible, worse than store packaged ones, and even adding a squeeze of lime and tapatio sauce couldn’t save the tiny tacos. We eventually ended up just picking out the lobster bits from underneath the mayonnaise tasting crema.

If you want to drink or enter into the bar areas, you must show ID at the ID booth and get a wristband, so do that when you enter the event (at the booth near the fountain). We got wristbands but once we saw the prices, we opted to leave the event to go get drinks elsewhere (bottled mass produced bottles of beer for $10).

 It looked like everyone was more interested in their social media than the drinks.

 Lots of beautiful art on trucks

 and some had windows so you could see them preparing your food.

 Choices included everything from BBQ cupcakes.

The Super Market section entry with all the most tempting food options was in the VIP section requiring an entry ticket of $10, but we had started at the other end and by the time we finished our two short rib burritos $7, spicy pork tacos $2.50 each, and black jack quesadilla $8 from Kogi, we were satiated.

Dessert was getting a picture with Roy Choi 🙂

Like many people who never see things that are famous in the place where they live, until this year, I had never seen the Rose Parade live, nor gone to the Bradbury building. The first floor is open to the public, so next time you go the Grand Central market, walk across the street and take a look 🙂

The elevators still work!

 

 Even on a cloudy day, the skylights brighten up the center courtyard.

 

So many places to eat in Grand Central Market, so I stopped by La Tostadaria for a light and filling snack; they only take cash unless you buy more than $10 worth of food, so my octopus tostada just put me over the barrier.

As octopus tostadas go, this was the best I’ve ever eaten, with tender marinated octopus and fresh crunchy vegetables on top of a beautifully fresh tortilla. It was marked with two peppers indicating it was spicy, and halfway through eating I started blowing my nose and thanking my stars that I did not add any more of the habernero sauce that was available at the counter! I would gladly order this again, but with a cool fire dousing drink to go along with it….I must remember that here in LA a warning for spicy means business!

I’ve missed my French marchés ever since I’ve moved back to the US 😦 Now that I live on the other side of town, the ones I knew and loved in Santa Monica are too far away for me to go to on a regular basis, but thankfully the South Pasadena Farmers Market is an excellent alternative. The market begins at the Metro stop for South Pasadena, so I saw it on a ride one day and made it a point to go once some friends said it was the best in the area.

There are many food trucks clustered around the road adjacent to the Metro stop, so if you are hungry, you will have plenty of options.

 

 

 

 These tamales contain no lard and are all freshly made by the family behind the counter.

 

 

 

 This sandwich was a specialty from the Gastobus.

 Peruvian plates.

 Crepes, both savory and sweet.

 Ice cream and sorbet in unusual flavors.

 You can also take food to go.

 

 

If you run out of cash (some vendors take credit cards), there is an ATM at the center of the market.

Local and organic produce abound.

 

 

 

 

 

 Flowers may not be edible, but they are pretty 🙂

 Many merchants sell things like vinegars, oil, and honey.

There’s live music as the sun sets.

 

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