SNACK TREK: A Stress-Free LA Sunday in Hollywood/Los Feliz

June 2, 2014
Bounty of the Hollywood Farmers' Market.

Bounty of the Hollywood Farmers’ Market.

People who know me, know that I function at a high-ish level of stress and worrying. It’s mostly a function of being me, and partly a function of having a job where I’m always on call and have to be really detail-oriented.

For me, the weekends are not always a time to kick back, even when work doesn’t beckon. As an aspiring TV writer, it’s really important that I work on my own material on the side. Therefore, I have an (amazing) writing group, and in order to finish my material/read theirs, I usually wake up at 6 or 7am on both Saturday and Sunday, and work or go to group until the early afternoon.

And if I’m NOT doing that for some reason — maybe a weekend off — I’m just generally stressing that I didn’t write enough, all the time.

This time of year is what I call “fellowship season” — when several studios allow aspiring TV writers to submit their materials and personal essays, hoping that we’ll manage to secure the equivalent of a golden ticket: a spot in one of their workshops/fellowships, which could very well lead to being staffed on a TV show. The dream.

AKA it’s kind of a stressful time, and then around Labor Day it’s stressful again because it’s the “am I going to hear back?!” time.

ANYWAY — that’s all to say that this weekend the first big deadline passed, and my material was in (another deadline’s coming in a few weeks, but the heavy lifting is over). Thanks to the deadline, writing group didn’t meet. Saturday I ended up having to work, but Sunday the day was wide open, and I felt like I could just do whatever, guilt-free.

So obviously I wanted to eat and drink. I called my sister in for hangout reinforcements.

First stop was the Hollywood Farmers Market, which I don’t often make it out to, these days. Usually I’m kind of conservative in my purchases, but yesterday I splurged on the famous Harry’s Berries (okay, like $6, but whatever). The seascape berries are what all strawberries should taste like — that bright, sweet flavor.

I also splurged on Forbidden Fruit Orchards blueberries, which are really firm and sweet and tart. So many grocery store blueberries turn out to be a disappointment, or full of squishy ones. Forbidden Fruit Orchards doesn’t play you like that.

Really, it’s important that you go sample fruit at the farmers market from time to time, to remember what fruit is supposed to taste like.

The picture above also features boysenberries, which I’m not sure I’d ever officially tried before — they’re the sweeter version of blackberries, almost like candy-sweet, definitely like jam-sweet. It’s like scooping jam into your mouth, without the scary process of canning.

And of course I got Ranier cherries, which I discovered last year can often be more delicious than regular red cherries. (Sadly, I didn’t not catch the names of the orchards for the boysenberries/cherries.)

We also sampled amazing vegan mole and other delights from Bloom Foods, but I regrettably didn’t purchase anything.

Then we went back to Los Feliz, where we wandered around while we waited for a table at Little Dom’s. I got the eggs bruschetta with egg whites, a breakfast I often dream about.

Leaning tower of egg whites.

Leaning tower of egg whites.

It’s grilled bread, pesto (possible dairy cheat?), roasted tomatoes, and eggs, with some sort of delightful basil oil, I think. Maybe it’s just pesto run-off.

I joked to Dana that we’d gotten like 20 egg whites each. An egg white doesn’t make very much, and it seemed like SO MUCH EGGS.

Along with that, Dana got a fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. (They have such good fresh-squeezed juice that it doesn’t feel like completely insanity that it’s $5.)

I got a grapefruit shandy (40% beer, 60% fruit soda), which is really hot right now in Los Feliz. It makes me happy because I first discovered shandy when I was 18, at the Stiegl beer tour in their factory in Salzburg, Austria (Brauwelt aka Beer World, which amuses me to no end, for some reason — oh, German) — and this shandy is FROM THERE!

Dana added her grapefruit lip gloss for... scale?

Dana added her grapefruit lip gloss for… scale?

Life, right?

(I really need to go back to Brauwelt, because I think I’d appreciate the whole experience a lot more now that I have more of a palette for beer. Also — two free beers and a pretzel! At the time, at least.)

One of the best things about being vegan is that I can still drink (in moderation… anything more is not heart friendly).

Then we went home and watched “So You Think You Can Dance” and  “I Wanna Marry Harry,” which turned out to be hilarious. Some of the girls are real firecrackers, and others are just crazy. I always prefer a show with a twist or some silliness to the earnest weirdness of straightforward dating shows.

And we snacked on fruit, obviously.

Later, for dinner, Sam joined us and we went to Messhall… which is like a block from Little Dom’s. Small radius of eating. Dana and I ordered the two vegan dishes on the menu (the chili and the curry) and split them… and both were good, I’m happy to report. (Dana is about to be my neighbor, part of the reason why I’m intro’ing her to all the trendy restaurants of LF.)

Dana and Sam also had oysters, which sadly are verboten for me — shellfish is a cholesterol pitfall. But honestly, as good as oysters can be, they are also the consistency of snot, if you got a lot of snot together. So I’ll probably live without eating them.

And I got a Riesling. I don’t even really care about the brand of Riesling. Have Riesling, good to go. (And good to later have a headache… whoops.)

I took no pictures at Messhall. Sorry not sorry.

Instead I’ll show you a picture of my new go-to meal, “broasted” veggies. (Roasted Brussels sprouts and various potatoes.)

This is how I felt yesterday, as told in veggies.

This is how I felt yesterday, as told in veggies.

And then Sam and I came home and watched Game of Thrones and the Silicon Valley. I actually don’t technically watch most of Game of Thrones… I look away and Sam tells me when the bloody stuff is over. But I accidentally caught a glimpse of an axe to the head early in the episode, which brought to mind how much just READING about that in “Crime and Punishment” in high school traumatized me.

Luckily Silicon Valley cut through the trauma, a real palette cleanser. Comedy — it makes everything better! (This year there is so much good comedy out there — Louie, Kroll Show, Inside Amy Schumer, Broad City, Key & Peele, Bob’s Burgers… go check them all out.) (Yes, although I stress about writing a lot, I also spend a lot of time watching TV… RESEARCH.) (This would be a much better excuse if I wrote comedy.)

And that was basically as good as it gets, when I have a day off to just kick around in my neighborhood.

Happy June!

The Rules of Cheating

June 2, 2014
A worthy cheat -- strawberry rhubarb galette at Stone Brewing on Sam's birthday.

A worthy cheat — strawberry rhubarb galette with goat cheese creme at Stone Brewing on Sam’s birthday.

I think the hardest thing about being mostly vegan in the hopes of lowering my cholesterol is negotiating the rules of cheating.

My cardiologist’s thoughts were: Occasional fish is okay, and it’s fine to cheat on special occasions (mitzvahs, as he put it).

The word “occasional” has really got me agonizing about how much fish I ought to eat. Fish once a week? Fish once a month? Did he mean that I SHOULD have fish because overall it’s pretty healthy (omega-3s, but then again a lot of veggies have them), or that I SHOULDN’T but it’s the least offensive?

Really the question is, how often can I have sushi? I love me some sushi, and definitely steeled myself to go have salmon sushi one night, only to walk out of the restaurant, unsure of myself. My final-ish thought on the matter was that I’d only eat fish at the really tops sushi places in my book, the Katsuya in Studio City (the best, non-SBE one) or Sugarfish (many locations, our closest is also in Studio City). They’re both expensive and often crowded/long waits, so there’s only so often we’d realistically be going there.

But then I discovered something that has held me over for now — avocado sushi.

It’s like it sounds — just avocado, seaweed paper and rice. But A) I love avocado and B) it actually kind of feels like squishy sushi-fish in your mouth. Perfect.

When I discovered it, I had it two days in a row. And I didn’t even have to worry about mercury poisoning.

Thanks, avocado. Never change. I love you. CA loves you.

Other than that, my arbitrary rules of cheating are pretty basic:

Once a week, on a special occasion or the weekend (which is ALWAYS a special occasion, because it’s the weekend), I can have –

1) One fish cheat.

2) One egg-white cheat.

3) One dairy/dessert cheat.

4) One fried food (usually French fries or chips) cheat.

If I don’t use it, no roll-overs. Like a cell phone plan.

So far, I’ve actually gone for weeks at a time without using my cheats, except for French fries — which are technically not a vegan cheat, but are a heart-healthy-living cheat.

The dessert cheat has only really been employed on birthdays. (Both Sam’s… once on his actual birthday, and another the next week when we got him a Cuban cake from Porto’s. It was delicious.)

The egg white cheat is mostly for brunching, and was first employed yesterday.

Oh, and if we’re going to get technical about veganism, I still eat honey. Sorry, bees.

The best news/biggest relief is that I can still have Chipotle, and that I actually like the tofu sofritas. Who would have guessed? (My first date with Sam was at a Chipotle, so it has all sorts of special places in my heart.)

What do you think of my cheats? What would your cheats be, if you were me?

Veg-ish-ly yours…

DO IT YOURSELF: Eggplant Curry (w/ A Celebrity Cameo)

May 21, 2014
Dutch oven borrowed from Sam.

Dutch oven borrowed from Sam.

It has been a little depressing getting into this whole vegan thing, because it feels like my eating world has been made a lot smaller. I mean, LA has a lot of vegan restaurants and everything, but the point of being vegan is to be healthy, not to go out and eat vegan versions of pizza and fried “chicken.”

This is the story of the night the depression finally took a turn, but not for the reason you would think. (Wait for it.)

One good thing about having to venture into this lifestyle choice is that I DO like vegetables, and I like cooking, and I even have the Moosewood Cookbook (a lovely illustrated vegetarian cookbook with a lot of vegan substitutions). Sam gave it to me a few years ago, so he’s clearly a visitor from the future. Or something.

Anyway, one fact about me is that I LOVE eggplant, and another fact about me is that I DON’T LOVE very complicated recipes. One night about a week ago, I knew that I have to cook something nutritional and veggie-ish for myself (I’d had a rather empty lunch), and was floundering and hemming and hawing about what to eat (classic me) until I saw the Moosewood Cookbook’s Eggplant Curry recipe. It’s basically veggies, spices, simmer 30 minutes, et voila.

Sam walked me to the store but was in a bit of a rush to go meet a friend. So he gathered the onion, eggplant, and frozen peas, and I gathered the necessary spices that I didn’t already have (cumin seed, mustard seed, turmeric). Sam left just as I realized I should have asked him to grab the optional cilantro. So I headed to the produce section to rectify this error.

Just my luck, every green leafy thing in the produce section was labeled EXCEPT the cilantro. I made the logical deduction that the unlabeled thing probably WAS the cilantro. I stood there sort of half-heartedly sniffing it and trying to figure out if it smelled like Mexican food. (There’s a lot of cilantro in Mexican food.)

A very tall man in a baseball cap approached the cilantro and we had this (paraphrased) conversation. Note: He was facing away from me the entire time.

Me: Excuse me… is this cilantro?

Man: Yes… but they don’t call it cilantro in Britain, where I’m from.

Me: Oh… that’s confusing. [In my head: I hope he's sure it's cilantro, then.] They should…

Man: Choose one name for it.

Me: … Label it.

At that point, the man wandered away, and I bagged some cilantro. But then I got really curious — what DO they call cilantro in England? Of course I didn’t have my phone to look it up (I’d forgotten it at home, which I very rarely do), and I might forget. Luckily, the man wandered back.

Me: Excuse me… so what do you call cilantro in England?

Man: Coriander.

Me: Oh… of course! [I'm not sure if I actually knew that.]

At this moment, the man turned around, and I realized it was Stephen Merchant.

Me: [super flustered] I guess we just have the… uh… Mexican influence. Bye!

I walked away thinking A) I can’t believe Sam missed Stephen Merchant! B) I don’t even have my phone to text him! C) Of COURSE he was a celebrity, he was wearing a HAT! and D) Just generally feeling bad that I’d bothered Stephen Merchant, because I have a don’t-bother-celebrities personal code.

But also I wondered if he thought I’d been flirting with him, because “Hello Ladies.”

Anyway, I walked home and told Sam and his friend about Stephen Merchant (they were jealous), went back to my place and made the curry, using the cilantro that Sam joked had been “blessed by Stephen Merchant.”

I guess it made me realize that there are unexpected silver linings to any situation that puts us out of our comfort zones. If I hadn’t been forced to be vegan, I wouldn’t have dragged my miserable butt to the store, and I wouldn’t have had an accidental conversation with an internationally famous creative mind.


Ingredients. “Coriander” front and center.

In case you’re wondering, the curry came out just okay. Maybe because the eggplants seemed kinda old/bruised, maybe because I didn’t add enough water at one point and it burned a little. But I ate it for several days, because… a girl’s gotta eat (vegan).

But this is ALL the cilantro I used. (I don’t love it, and I’m not good at mincing leaves.) The rest is still sitting (let’s be real: probably rotting) in the fridge.

A pinch.

A pinch.

I might start calling it coriander from time to time. I’m so worldly now.

Things have turned around since this meal, though. The next few things I made after my first vegan chili and this eggplant curry actually came out pretty good… I’ll share them soon. All I can say is, thank goodness I suddenly love Brussels sprouts, they are my champion.

Until next time…

DO IT YOURSELF: Lovely V-Day “Taste of SF” Meal (Feb 2014)

May 16, 2014


So the point of the previous SF post was to tee up this excellent Valentine’s Day dinner. It’s a tradition that Sam cooks up a wonderful meal with a surprise menu for V-Day, and this year I knew he had something major up his sleeve because for a WEEK ahead of the meal he retired to his next-door apartment almost every night to do secret cookings.

It turned out that the meal was “A Taste of SF,” celebrating the culinary highlights of our November trip. One of the secret cookings involved making a sourdough bread starter. And another was pre-making custard for the ice cream, which I will elaborate on in a bit.

FIRST COURSE: Sourdough, infused oils (home-infused!), and store-bought soft cheese.

This, of course, invoked our lovely time at the Ferry Building, tasting oils, and our little picnic. Because the bread was young it wasn’t super sour — I actually think it tasted a lot like the bread at Morton’s Steakhouse, which Sam has never had but he should take my word for it. Fancy bread.

The oils were tasty but kept turning solid when we tried to store them, which kinda freaked me out. I have botulism fears.

SECOND COURSE: Salad. Not pictured. Sorry, salad.

THIRD COURSE: Cioppino, aka seafood stew, invented in SF. (And pictured twice. Take that, salad!)

DESSERT: Tartine apple crisp, homemade vanilla bean ice cream, garnished with dark chocolate Ghirardelli square.

Tartine was a restaurant we didn’t have time to try in SF, so Sam used their recipe for dessert. You guys, this was easily one of the best desserts I’ve ever had, counting restaurants and homemade. I’m not always the biggest fan of apple desserts, but this one came out just right — I like my apples very mushy, in pie-like situations, and the crust was… I think all butter. It was fantastic.

And the ice cream had like a hundred egg yolks and real vanilla bean, and was also incredible. I know you weren’t there to taste it, but you just have to take my word for it.

I’m glad this all happened before my vegan eating days… once again, I think I know how my cholesterol went up. Worth it.

I’m the type of person who doesn’t always believe in typical presents — I think a card and a good meal or experience can be better than a tangible gift. And this was one of those meals that 100% endorses my theory. It’s a wonderful memory… of a wonderful memory. It’s an ouroboros. Or something.

Sam has stipulated that Valentine’s Day must continue to be a cheat day (“cheat” = eating a bit of dairy and fish), and I’m okay with that.

Next up: Probably some vegan cooking anecdotes. Hold onto your butts!


SNACK TREK: San Francisco (Nov. 2013)

April 28, 2014

Chowder trio at Blue Mermaid.

Okay, less blah blah dietary issues and more food pics? Am I right?

Sam and I took advantage of the post-Thanksgiving long weekend and flew up to San Francisco to sample their various treats. (For once I wasn’t entirely inspired by the food — I got the whole idea for the trip because I wanted to see the CA Academy of Sciences, and of course it grew from there into a huge snack trek.)

We took public transportation from SFO to our hotel, which was fine until the final leg — the bus. Let’s just say that this particular bus experience was harrowing enough that we took our first Uber to Golden Gate Park. Needed a break from the insanity.

Our first lunch (Friday) was from the outdoor food stand at the CA Academy of Sciences. It was nothing to write home about (although I realize that’s what I’m doing right now?). I think I had a “vegan wrap” (foreshadowing) with not as much hummus as advertised.

But we walked through an aquarium and a jungle, and got to ride in a simulator that showed us what the 1906 earthquake felt like, and saw a planetarium show that showed us what it LOOKED like (a lot of fire!), so my CA-native heart was full of glee. (We love our cautionary earthquake fun.)

Friday dinner was chowder and oysters and fried seafood-y goodness at the Blue Mermaid, the restaurant at our hotel. It was a bit pricey, but my parents had really raved about it. If I went back I’d save my $$ and eat from a chowder stand on Fisherman’s Wharf… there are many.

Then we walked around, went to the Musee Mecanique (weird but fun), and had Ghirardelli‘s for dessert. I mean, we had to go to Ghirardelli Square. It’s SF-tourist law.

The Gold Rush. It involves peanut butter.

I’m not usually one for chocolate sauce, but they really have it down to a fudge-y science.

The next day for pre-lunch we walked to the Farmers’ Market at the Ferry Building (Embarcadero). There we picked up our first (yes, first) loaf of sourdough, from Acme Breads.

Acme breads…

The farmer’s market was in full force indoors and out, and we sampled all sorts of delicious morsels — fruits, veggies, cheeses. We were particularly enamored of the oils at Stonehouse

Samples galore!

We bought a sampler of their flavored oils, which have been useful in everything from cooking chicken to making a light salad dressing.

We finally pulled ourselves away to peek at AT&T Park on our way to first and second lunch in the Mission.

Lunch stop #1 was to try a Mission-style burrito. This type of Mexican food is the inspiration for my beloved Chipotle.

We shared a very good chicken burrito at La Taqueria, which was hopping.


I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t sample the green sauce that was on the table. Next time, green sauce!

Then we were off to lunch stop #2, also in the Mission, a recommendation from Serious Eats. They raved about SF’s Dutch crunch bread, and I thought it would be the very same bread I used to get at Poul’s Bakery as a kid. (As of this trip, I thought Poul’s was closed forever, but I recently found out that it’s back? Life is confusing.)

Anyway, we went to Bite Me, and we split the “Love Affair” sandwich, and it was VERY romantic, especially because Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was playing on the TV.

Love me do.

The Love Affair was the “Best Wacky Combo Runner Up” on Serious Eats…

I’ve already mentioned the stellar roast turkey from Bite Me sandwiches and their best-in-class Dutch Crunch. How about we add to that some creamy brie and a handful of salt and vinegar chips? That’s what you get in the Love Affair ($6.75) and it’s a genius move, adding salt, vinegar, and texture to each bite.

‘Nough said. (It was really good. Thumbs up.)

But I don’t think it was the same Dutch Crunch bread I remembered from childhood? Oh well, Poul’s exists again, so it’s fine.

Of course after pre-lunch and double-lunch, we couldn’t leave the Mission without dessert. We headed for Bi-Rite Creamery, and accidentally ended up at the Bi-Rite Market across the street. We grabbed some fruit samples before correcting our mistake.  We waited in a not-too-long line, and soon we had choices to make…


I sampled salted caramel and brown sugar (most popular flavors) and got brown sugar and ricanelas (cinnamon w/ snickerdoodle pieces). (SNICKERDOODLE PIECES!) Sam got brown sugar and TCHO chocolate… they have a factory on the Embarcadero that I’d like to visit next time. (We just stopped in for samples… SF is FULL OF SAMPLES! Love it.)

Honestly, the ice cream was dinging all sorts of lactose-issue alarms in my stomach, but I was in it to win it.

Next we swung by the Painted Ladies (AKA the house from Full House), on our way to Sutro Baths, and ended up getting ejected from a broken-down bus into fog bank that came out of nowhere, near Golden Gate Park.

We decided to keep going on foot, picking up a French/Bostonian tourist who had been heading to the beach to see the sun set. Instead we watched the fog… linger. Then we shared an Uber to Union Square, where we parted with the French guy, who treated us like benevolent kidnappers.

Long story short, we went to Chinatown for dinner. After attempting to get into several restaurants, we ended up at Chung King.

Chicken and eggplant hot pot.

I neglected to take a picture of the lo mein because we always get lo mein, but the noodles were a hair wider and flatter than our local place, which was intriguing.

Then we made our way back to our hotel, stopping by Boudin’s on the way. We possibly snuck into their little museum? Nobody was there to stop us.

I took stalker-y pictures of a man making sourdough bears…

Ow, my eye!

And I was intrigued by this display of all the foods invented in SF…

SF originals…

In case you’re wondering, that’s sourdough bread, martinis, (not sure), chop suey, (not sure), Popsicles, cioppino, fortune cookies, Irish coffee, and Crab Louis. (Fortune cookies were invented at the Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park — go figure. It’s on my must-visit list for next time…)

The next morning we picked up another sourdough at Boudin (that turned out to be my favorite), which I still have no idea how to pronounce. (Bow-den? Boo-deen?)

Got one sourdough round, should have gotten one of everything!

We thought about doubling back to the Ferry Building for picnic ingredients, but it was our last day and time was of the essence, so we figured we’d just sort of stumble upon picnic fixings as we walked toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

Because SF is awesome, we came across the Fort Mason Farmer’s Market, where we acquired sweet satsumas (little oranges) and delicious, award-winning Foggy Mountain cheese. Perfect for a simple picnic.

Wonderful cheese.

So picnic we did, at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Not a shabby view.

From there, we walked to (and about halfway across) the Golden Gate Bridge. Luckily the fog stayed at bay. The funny thing is that the bridge is technically part of the 101 freeway. Like, just another day on the 101 north, except today it’s not taking me to work… it’s the freakin’ Golden Gate Bridge.

Barging right into SF!

We took the bus back to the city, where in an attempt to find Lombard Street we ended up climbing some steep-ish streets. (I don’t like steep-ness very much, but we were on a mission.) Then we had our last dinner in SF (before heading to the airport) at Bistro Boudin, because bread.

Sam finally got the “bread bool” his heart desired…

A petite one.

And we had a crab cocktail…

With little croutons, of course.

And, last but not least, SF’s very own — cioppino.

Sweet meats of the sea.

I have no record of dessert, so I guess we were finally too full?

And then we rolled ourselves to the airport…

I’m starting to figure out why my cholesterol got so high… but it was worth it! I’m always really satisfied when I can pull off seeing/trying as many things as possible. It was a very delicious trip… and I have a whole list of things to do next time. SF is a city dense with activities!

Any recommendations for next time? What’s your favorite snack trek in SF?


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Going Vegan (Or Else…)

April 28, 2014

Artist’s depiction of my doctor’s appointment.

Hello! I’m back! If you are a real human person you may not have missed my blog posts, but I’ve been a real hit among spam-robot commenters. This one’s for them…

Remember 2ish, 3ish years ago, when I gave up red meat for my cholesterol? And remember also how I’m allegedly/debatably lactose intolerant, even though I eat cheese a lot?

Well, it’s time to go to the NEXT LEVEL! Why? Because my cholesterol went back up, which prompted me to go to a real cardiologist! (Rather than just relying on my gynecologist to run my lipids test once a year.)

Do you want to know what’s fun about going to a cardiologist? You get an EKG! (Also, he was a pretty fun guy.)

Do you want to know what ISN’T fun? Everybody else there is really, really old, like, old enough that they are openly, morosely discussing their mortality. [The woman across from me, to her older-than-me granddaughter: "Well, it looks like I'm going to make it to 95, but I really doubt I'll make it to 100." The man next to me, to his son: "I just don't understand why God took your mother instead of me..."]

I felt out of place for being so young, but somewhat better about myself. At least youth is on my side!  (I also felt good because the cardiologist did not fat-shame me about my cholesterol.)

Anyway, the bottom line is that in order to avoid being medicated, I have to get my cholesterol down again. And the best kind of diet for getting cholesterol down is vegan-esque. I can eat some occasional fish, and cheat on special occasions of my own choosing, but other than that I shouldn’t eat meat, dairy, french fries or Doritos. (He specifically called out Doritos.)

Just say no.

I’m not supposed to eat anything that has a mother/face.

Me: Can I eat dairy?

Dr: Come on! Does dairy have a mother?

Me: (in my head: no? yes? what? trick question?) Uh…

Dr: No. No dairy.

So… yeah. It’s kind of a bummer, but it’s also kind of whatever. It’s my choice. And I was a vegan for two months once, before I had to stop because I was in Italy, because… come on. Italy. So… I know I can do it for the next six-ish months (if I avoid Italy), at which point I’ll get tested and see if my cholesterol went down. I really hope it works, because I just don’t want to go on medication yet.

I’m mainly worried about how to get protein. So if you have any tips, and you are not a spam-robot, hit me up in the comments.

And I’ll try to post some catch-up blogs that feature all the delicious stuff that I ate before vegan-ness this went into effect.



November 22, 2013
Plane buddies.

Plane buddies.

Hello! As usual — sorry that I haven’t been blogging with great frequency. Rest assured that I am still eating, and documenting. I just don’t seem to stick the landing.

Speaking of landings — today’s post is about planes. Or — it’s about places where you can eat while you watch the planes land at LAX. (You can also eat Thai food while watching planes land at the Santa Monica Airport, and — of course — I’ve been there, too. But I didn’t eat the insects.)

A few months back I read that LAX-adjacent restaurant Proud Bird was planning to close its doors forever on Nov. 21st, due to money/bureaucratic problems. It sounded like a cool place — almost every aerospace luminary has dined there at some point — so my parents, Sam, my sister Dana and I decided to check it out this past Sunday. In theory, its last weekend in existence.

I say “in theory” because they just received at least a month’s reprieve. So I’m posting this to encourage you to go CHECK IT OUT, because Proud Bird is super cool.

Why? First of all, it is RIGHT next to a runway. So you gets an awesome view of planes landing… either from the back lawn, or from your table.

This FedEx cargo plane was HUGE... and brought back memories of "Cast Away."

This FedEx cargo plane was HUGE… and brought back memories of “Cast Away.”

I took that picture from my seat… inside the restaurant. I mean, come on. Amazing.

And the orange plane on the lawn? (Probably a recreation of…) The plane that Chuck Yeager used to break the sound barrier! That plane fell out of a bigger plane, you guys! I saw it in a movie! (In “The Right Stuff,” specifically.)

Even if you are looking in the OTHER DIRECTION at all the model planes on the lawn, you cannot help but see planes landing.

Can you see the Disney-themed Alaskan Airlines plane reflected in the window? I've flown on that specific plane! (From Vancouver.)

Can you see the Disney-themed Alaskan Airlines plane reflected in the window? I’ve flown on that specific plane! (From Vancouver.)

If you like taking pictures of planes landing, you will find endless possibilities.

Threading the needle. (From the parking lot, where there are also planes on display.)

Threading the needle. (From the parking lot, where there are also planes on display.)

You get the point. Planes landing. All the time. Everywhere. (And not TOO loud.)

“And how was the food?” you ask. First of all, they served hot rolls. Quality bread. I believe it was sourdough. (Bread is not always the case these days, guys! … At least in LA.)

Somewhat hilariously, everybody’s meal came with a cabbage salad element… even the pasta seemed to have cabbage salad in it.


Bird at the bird.

That said, I liked my chicken a lot.

The food had a sort of catered-wedding vibe, which is not surprising because, as it turns out, Proud Bird is actually a large venue that hosts a lot of weddings, office parties, and Tuskegee Airmen events. It’s also a museum — not just the planes outside, but also tons of pictures and small models inside, lining the halls and dining rooms.

I’m hoping Proud Bird can officially get museum/landmark status, because… it’s just chock-full of historical goodies.

Do you want to see a model of the Spruce Goose? I mean, do I even have to ask?

You're welcome.

You’re welcome.

Do you want to see a picture of a wing-walker, c. probably 1920s?

I mean, WTF. Amazing.

Hey, if you’re into that kind of thing… follow your bliss.

That plane is made of cardboard and string, you guys. And she’s hanging off of it by ONE HAND.  There’s no net.

That’s what people did for fun before iPhones, I guess.

Do you want to see a picture of a plane assembler who stopped me short because she’s super pretty and it turned out it was a before-she-was-famous Marilyn Monroe?


Gentlemen may prefer blondes, but I like her as a brunette.

Do you want to see planes coming in for a landing under a full (or at least full-looking) moon, above historic old planes? Duh, you do.

By the light of the moon.

By the light of the moon.

We opted out of dessert at Proud Bird, because we decided to go all-in and venture over to Encounter, a restaurant at LAX you are probably familiar with, because it’s located in a very famous-looking building, but you’ve probably never actually BEEN there because — you know, you only go to LAX for travel-related reasons. (Also, I believe it was closed for renovations for a long time.)

You know, this one.

You know, this one.

When you get to Encounter you’re greeted by an elevator that is somewhat small (the 5 of us squeezed in), and it takes you straight to the restaurant. During the ride, you are treated to colorful ceiling lights and some strange, 1960s-ish music.

And then you get out, and it looks like this –

Welcome to Oz.

Welcome to Oz.

Considering that both of these restaurants have a 1960s thing going on, they are basically on different ends of the spectrum. Whereas Proud Bird has that astronauts-ate-lunch-here panache, Encounter feels like it was designed for late night swingers waiting for the next flight out.

And lava lamp enthusiasts.

Groovy, baby.

Groovy, baby.

The views were panoramic, but in the dark it was more about watching the lights glitter than the planes land.

We ordered cheesecake and apple tart. I liked the caramel (I think) design around the tart.



But it wasn’t really about the dessert, anyway.

I know that going to LAX is a bit of a schlep for most of us, but it feels kind of crazy/adventurous to go for no reason but to kick back, watch the planes, and eat. There’s also an In ‘N Out near LAX that famous for plane-scoping, as well as Dockweiler Beach — also the only beach in LA that allows firepits. So you can make s’mores as the planes take off over you!

Okay guys, promise you’ll check out Proud Bird while you still can. It’s a piece of history. And part of why it’s open for another month is that it was totally packed with well-wishers last weekend! So your fun-times trek could make a difference in this big crazy world.

I’ll try to be back soon… but until then — safe travels, my friends. And good eatings, of course.


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