Friday, July 31, 2015

Crappy vegan food is bad for veganism

I have always loved this line. I heard it when in a session at Vida Vegan Con II in Portland, Oregon two years ago. I was in a session to learn about writing restaurant reviews given by Grant Butler, a columnist with The Oregonian.

It has stayed with me ever since and I consider it every time I write a restaurant review.

I have thought of it a lot since moving to the Los Angeles area while we experience so many new vegan opportunities. Having been to LA many times, we've known that this is a vegan food mecca. Living here is different, as new experiences pop up almost every day.

There have been some eating experiences that have blown us away, where we find us like at each other going "oh my goodness!".

And then there have been experiences that were not so mind blowing. 

On the top of my list was a dessert Mike and I saw. We both instantly drooled. Anticipation was very high as the server brought it to our table. Then utter disappointment. It was dry and not very tasty.

We have had several moments like this. We read reviews, we get excited, we drive way out of our way to try a restaurant and then we are presented with food that is average, and in some cases not good on any level.

How can this change? I'm starting with this post. At the restaurant where the dessert was a huge disappointment, I took the server aside and gave very honest feedback. I wouldn't do a restaurant review based on just one experience.

I think it is vastly important that we let restaurants know when their food is sub-par. Of course food is very personal, but if you get something that is totally off base, let the folks know.

I think about someone who wants to try a vegan meal and gets crappy food, and how that affects not only veganism but the animals as well.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

LA traffic: picking us off one at a time

We have been living in Los Angeles for three weeks now and are loving it. Many told us about the traffic and how awful it is when we talked about moving here. They of course are correct. Yet for the most part the traffic flows, perhaps not as fast as we wish, but it flows. One plans around it and I have found it important to not be in a hurry.

All of this being said, there are always plenty of news stories about people killed in auto accidents.

The other night is was a young woman killed by a hit and run driver. The next day it was an accident in central LA.

A few minutes of driving in LA and one can see how accidents happen. My focus has gone way up since moving here. Folks change four lanes in two seconds, many times with no signal. In a city notorious for traffic, many are still in a hurry to get somewhere.

The bummer is that although deaths are newsworthy for a day, it seems like they are an accepted fact of living here.

Perhaps most feel they will always be OK, that crazy driving won't affect them. The father of the young woman killed by a hit and run driver said this, that "you never think this will happen to you".

Yet it does.

One by one we are being picked off because of carelessness, ignorance, arrogance and basically folks just being in a rush. The news stories don't even affect us anymore.  Perhaps people are to the point where this is just how it is.

I don't believe that is how it has to be.

Perhaps it is stricter laws. Perhaps it's calling out the reckless drivers. Perhaps it's simply just asking people to give a shit.

Today another family will get a call or a visit. They will be crushed with the news.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

First restaurant review in LA! - Noor's Indian Bistro

When in Los Angeles, one is in vegan paradise when it comes to food options. After several days of going to our favorite places for delish vegan food, Mike and I walked right by Noor's Indian Bistro, just blocks from our home in Monrovia.

Yes, Noor's is in Monrovia. Not central LA but not far. We are about 22 miles from downtown LA. Noor's is located in a small strip of four shops at the southeast corner of Foothills and Myrtle.

After just a few times dining there we already know Noor's is our favorite local spot. Raya, Nick and their team know about hospitality and although they are not exclusively vegan they know how to create incredible vegan dishes. As they have told us, because each dish is made from scratch, anything can be done vegan.

This includes Mike's favorite dish, Chana Saag, which they prepare with coconut milk instead of cream.

And one of my favorite things about Inian cuisine, the mango lassi, made with soy milk instead. Their version is so tasty.

Veggie Pakora

We have tried several dishes and one thing that is clear is that from their open kitchen anything that is created for you will drive your taste buds crazy. We have loved their veggie pakora (see above) and their samosas. Their roti bread is great. Being a big okra fan I love the Bhindi Masala and their Aloo Gobi is from Nick's grandmother's recipe! So delicious.

Chana Saag

We have also tried dishes that we have never had in our many times of being in Indian restaurants. The Mushroom Matar is a great example. So flavorful and we could both taste the freshness in every ingredient. Plus, we have been assured that there are so many other dishes to try and we are so looking forward to that!

If you are new to reading my restaurant reviews, please know that half of the review is about food and half about service. I firmly believe that hospitality is a huge part of the experience and Noor's does not disappoint. Our water glasses have never been empty and staff definitely check in to make sure everything is being enjoyed.

I hugely recommend Noor's Indian Bistro and hope you have an opportunity to dine there one day. They are open every day and will be one of those dining experiences you want to repeat. They are just north about a mile from the Myrtle exit off of the 210.

Here is their website:

Thank you for reading and please let me know if you have a meal at Noor's Indian Bistro!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Living in Los Angeles

Well, not exactly.

One week ago we made the move from Colorado to the Los Angeles area. Home is now the small town of Monrovia, about 20 miles northeast from downtown LA.

We have wanted to make the move to southern California for years. We are pretty ecstatic.

A few experiences so far:

I paid $4.59 a gallon for gas yesterday.

We have been blown away by the kindness of strangers.

Our new next door neighbors had us over for dinner last night for a vegan feast. It was amazing.

We love Donut Friend.

We have been to beaches at Newport Beach and Malibu and loved them both.

We had dinner at Gracias Madre which we fell in love with last summer. It is still amazing in so many ways.

We had deer in our neighborhood. Apparently there are also plenty of skunks, bears and raccoons too.

Our grocery bill is definitely higher.

I have taken the train into downtown LA three times now. Love it. As I interview I am trying to figure out the best way to get to potential jobs.

Downtown LA is incredible. And I haven't even begun to explore it.

More to come.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Marriage equality happens. Now what?

Ecstatic is an understatement.

Add emotional and a few other feelings and you have what I feel now and really felt last Friday upon getting the news about the US Supreme Court ruling in regards to marriage equality.

Mike and I were married ten years ago in a ceremony we called " a loving act of civil disobedience" as we married in our home state of Colorado where marriage was not legal. Last year we went to our favorite beach (Torrey Pines in San Diego) and were legally wed.

Watching couples in Michigan, Ohio, North Dakota and Georgia brought on a flood of tears.

Of course not everyone is happy with the decision. The unhappiness began on the Court itself with those who dissented.

From Republican Presidential candidates to pastors to folks who just don't like gay people (including the previously mentioned), I have heard it all.

Here's what I have to say to those who are demonizing gay people and continuing the spiritual genocide against us:

No gay couple would want to be married by an anti-gay religious person in an anti-gay place of worship. So please stop with the fearmongoring about being forced to wed gay couples. No thank you.

We will continue to fight against hate and bigotry. Some of us are seasoned after living through the HIV/AIDS epidemic and dealing with so much bigotry against those with HIV/AIDS and then the ridiculous fight to be equal under the law in regards to marriage. And now we have some free time.

Traditional marriage. From the Old Testament? Multiple wives? Marrying teenagers? What exactly is traditional marriage? Marriage these days determines benefits and rights amongst couples. It shows the highest form of a couple's commitment. That's why I chose to marry my husband. And although we had a religious ceremony, I would be fine with a civil marriage.

Some Christians have said some terrible things about marriage and about gay people. There are more divorced heterosexuals in the U.S. than there are gay people but the hate does not extend to them.

There is something powerful in kindness. There is something powerful in love. I will continue to fight for equality and against bigotry, prejudice and hate. I won't demonize those against me, but I will not remain silent either.

More to come on this topic.

I'd like to close by saying thank you to all of those who have expressed kindness to us. I am truly grateful. The U.S. Supreme Court decision was intense for us for many reasons. We are still smiling.

Thanks for reading.