recipes and tips for better living

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me: A Restorative & Foodie Friendly Day In LA

The best gift this Gemini could get for her birthday is a day of restoration....and that's exactly the gift i gave myself.  Just me, on my own time card, doing what i love where i love.  No responsibility, no work, no strict agenda, no one else, just me on my own device, taking time to appreciate the things i love.

I took the day off to cruise up to LA to my old stomping grounds, venice beach and santa monica.  The traffic was a doozy, but well worth it.  After my 3 hour trek (should have been about a 1/3 less of that time) my first stop was the mother of all Whole Foods in Venice.  I arrived at 11am hungry for a little mid morning sniggity.    This particular Whole Foods is BEYOND AMAZING.  It's HUGE and a vegan/vegetarian/raw foodists/single ladies mecca.  I swear single chaps are casing the joint, hanging at the tables outside, eating, and waiting to catch your eye or converse over the newest local food item, juice medley, or kombucha flavor.

notice on the left the 'venice' sign graffiti'ed onto the building.  Classic venice.
Look at all the amazing raw foods they make in house!!

And a vegan taqueria??? really?  This is insane! 

My next stop was YAS (yoga and spin).  I LOVE YAS.....LOVE!  It's just an awesome spin class.  Simple sequence.  You know what you're getting.  It's only 40 minutes so you push it every song....you sweat....you sing....you spin.  It's fab.

plus it's on abbott kinney in shopping heaven.




view from the studio.  they used to put the garage door up during class, but they didn't this time :(
And to rehydrate myself after spin, I hit the lowe's hotel pool, grabbed some rays, and sipped on a freshly muddled raspberry mojito.  AMAZING!
view of the santa monica pier and beach from the pool
the BEST mojito i've ever had. 
Time to shop!  I hit the 3rd street promenade to check out the new mall that opened there.  Plus, Nordstrom is having there half yearly sale.  HOLLAH!
view of the prom from the mall

Just a few days prior to my arrival, "The Market" opened at the mall.  It's a fabulous, glammed out, localized, mostly organic food court.  Muy impressive i must say.  This is no mall food court that i've ever seen.  It's more like a sampling of something you'd see at the embarcadero in SF.   All local, all fresh, and many organic vendors.  One of my favorite breakfast spots i often eat at when i'm in LA "The Curious Palate" is in there, as is the most fabulous gelato and sorbet shop:  Nice Cream.

ilovenicecreamcom
I've read about Nice Cream before and seen their shop on Abbot Kinney, but had never gone in.  Nice cream is the kind of stuff us foodie lovers dream about.  Beyond amazing dairy based gelato and sorbet, they boast VEGAN (dairy free and soy free) sorbets too.  I chatted with the owner, Laura, over a Nice Cream Cone.  Her and her husband moved from Copenhagen Denmark where apparently gelato shops were huge.  They wanted to open a business that was all about the right thing - simple ingredients and fresh real flavor.  I sampled the 4 vegan sorbets (there are a bunch of dairy based gelatos that also looked beyond amazing).  The vegan choices out that day were lemon, mango, chocolate, and strawberry...all of them delicious.  She uses guar gum as a stabilizer.  This makes it possible to keep her vegan nice creams to basically 4 ingredients:  guar gum, water, cane sugar, and flavor.  This also keeps the calories low.  At around 60 calories per 4 oz serving (depending on flavor) these nice creams are not only pleasant on the palette but nice on the waist line too.

she mentioned that the pistachio rocks! (dairy based gelato)

seriously delicious vegan nice cream - dairy free..soy free.
All of this foodie business aside, the best dollar i spent all day went to a performer on the promenade. 


Sad to see how empty his jar was because i could have watched him all day.  Now this might not appeal to you the way it did me, but seriously...a skeleton puppet singing Al Green with a clown chilling and witch pumpin on the piano?  How could you not be entertained.  Priceless.




Off to yoga at Exhale.  I took Seane Corn's class and yes she is absolutely amazing!  Loved the class.  It was all hip opening and focus on outward leg rotation.  By the time i got to pigeon i pretty much just melted through the earth. 


...and for my last stop of the day, din din at a raw restaurant: Juliano's Planet Raw.



I tried photographing my food, but it was dark and the flash over exposed the pix....so you'll just have to add your own imagry here.  It had been a while since i've eaten here and while the food is good it's not as amazing as i remember...or perhaps my palette has changed.  What i love about raw foods is the freshness.  The lightness.  Mary's Secret Garden in Ventura has nailed this aspect. This place seems more about raw transition/celebratory raw foods.  Heavy in nama shoyu (salt) and pumpkin seed or nut pates, i felt the food was tastey was a bit too decadent for my belly.  I ordered more than i could eat so i packed up the extras to take home, but i doubt i'll eat the leftovers.  The drive back from LA was slightly uncomfortable.  I only ate a handroll and some raw fries (zuchini crusted in buckwheat), but my belly was not digging it.

I arrived home at 11.  Wired.  Andy had a gluten free cupcake from cupcakes squared for me.  I would post a picture if i still had the cupcake, but it didn't make it 2 tics before it was devoured.  Any discomfort from dinner was forgotten about when i saw the cupcake....well until the next morning.  I had a bit of a foodie hangover.  But no regrets.  It's okay to indulge on your birthday!
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