I just returned from the LA area this morning and I'm ready to take a nap. No, seriously, I got so sick yesterday that I went to bed at 7 p.m. and slept straight until I woke up to catch my plane at 4:30 this morning, then I slept all but about a half hour on the plane ride. I am really sick (and all over: my stomach, head, and throat are all in pain). Ick. The real bummer is, I don't get sick very often, and when I do: BAM! I am done for. Hopefully it will be over by tomorrow, but with this awesome Portland weather, I can't count on it. I blame traveling so much in the last week and not getting much sleep.
Anyway, my visit to LA (besides getting sick) was fantastic. I always wish I can stay there longer, but my schedule usually just doesn't allow it. I arrived Tuesday late afternoon and spent the evening exploring Sierra Madre, a very cute town across the street (literally) from Pasadena. I ate at a cute little Mexican restaurant called Casa Del Ray, enjoying a tostada and the most amazing corn tortilla chips I've ever had. I decided before getting on the plane on Tuesday that I would forgo my current "diet" of no starches in favor of actually enjoying the foods I found along the way. Of course, that very well may have something to do with my current stomach issues, but until yesterday afternoon, I really enjoyed eating my way through LA.
Wednesday found me tooling all over the LA area. I rented a car in Pasadena and just started driving. I mapped out all the places I wanted to visit, and figured out the best route. Of course, I got deterred by a Whole Foods along the way (and had a delicious, freshly-made gluten-free vegan personal pizza with Daiya cheese), then, got off at the wrong exit in the middle of Chinatown, and then got a little lost in Koreatown. My plans were not followed to a T, but I still enjoyed exploring. I'm sure I've said it before, but I thrive on getting lost in a new place. That way, I find little gems that are not originally planned and I can usually find my way around the city even better in the end. It irked me that when I rode around with people in Colorado last weekend, NO ONE used their brains to figure out where they were going - they all used GPS systems! I couldn't believe it! Even the people who lived there couldn't get around without first typing in their destination. I got to where I was very sick of the English woman's voice telling the driver to "take the second right at the next roundabout".
I really fell in love with Santa Monica. I am obsessed with two things: the beach and palm trees. No joke. Besides food (and currently, food has taken a dive on my list), you can find me most often thinking about salt water and tall leafy trees that only grow in warm climates. So, to find both in Santa Monica (as well as a plethora of delicious food) made me very happy. I walked around the beach a bit but also enjoyed just laying on a bench near the water, people-watching and wave-watching and napping in the warm sun. It was blissful. I ate at Planet Raw (cookbook here) before having my final meal of the day at Real Food Daily (cookbook here).
I regrettably left the beach to drive through the city to find Babycakes (cookbook here). After a bit of work and getting lost again, I finally discovered it. It was dark out and the bakery is not located in the best neighborhood (it's in Little Tokyo, which is really scary at night!), but I persevered and fulfilled my Babycakes quest. It WAS delicious, but I have to say, my own gluten-free vegan donuts are much better than theirs! However, the best part of the trip was going up to the display case and being able to order almost ANYTHING I saw. Very few things are made with spelt, and they make the distinction with white or red lettering, so it didn't take me long at all to figure out what I could and couldn't eat.
Yesterday (Thursday) was really hot in the valley, so I decided to stay closer to Pasadena so I could get back home quicker. I was also starting to not feel well, so I didn't want to do too much driving. I went to Cafe Muse in Hollywood, but because my stomach was starting to complain, I simply ordered a coffee, even though they have an extensive vegan menu. They are in the middle of Theater Row, so it was interesting to use a restroom shared with a neighboring Comedy Central stage theater. Of course, it was 10 a.m., so nobody was actually there, but I did feel a little special.
After drinking up, I found Mulholland Drive (after a few wrong turns!) and took quite a few pictures of the city at the viewpoint. In case I'm ever tempted to move to the city of LA, these pictures are a good reminder of why I DON'T want to be there! The smog is absolutely disgusting and just made the hot weather that much more gross.
I visited KindKreme, which is located really close to Universal City (where all the big movie studios are). It's a relatively new ice cream parlor, and it tasted really good. Of course, it helped that it was so warm outside, but I think they have a really good thing going. I actually talked with and was served by the owner, which made the experience that much more meaningful (she's the one in the middle in the picture on their website). I told her I had heard about her place and couldn't wait to try it because I was on a bit of a vegan pilgrimage. She then started asking me if I had tried all these vegan restaurants in the Silver Lake area, but I had never even heard of them, so I know what I need to do the next time I'm in the area!
Overall, I had a great time and I can't wait to go back and explore some more. Hopefully the next time I go I won't a) have as many digestive issues so I can truly enjoy the food and b) not get sick.