Paul and I have just returned from three glorious days in southern California, where the temperature hit 25C everyday and there was a vegan restaurant on every corner. Or so it seemed to us, the two alarmingly pale Canadians that stepped off the plane at LAX last Thursday.
Even though we've seen worse in our lifetimes, the winter has been really long this year. As soon as Christmas was over, a vacation - however short and sweet - seemed like a psychological necessity. So even though neither of us had much time that we could take off work and are also currently trying to adhere to a strict budget (who isn't these days?) we decided to take a long weekend getaway to the west coast.
We considered various cities and picked Los Angeles for two reasons: the weather and the food. We had such a fun time being vegan foodie travellers in Montreal last spring that we decided to make a habit out of it - and picked L.A. because of its world-renowned vegan dining options.
So here is the first post in a series of posts about what we ate in L.A. (and why none of my clothes fit this morning).
Our flight left Toronto at 9:30am EST and landed around noon PST. On the flight there was no vegan option for lunch (come on, Air Canada...step up!). All I ate a tiny bag of cashews.
I am not good with being hungry. I like to blame the intense rage that Paul has nicknamed "HUNGOR" on blood sugar problems but really, I am just immature and hate being uncomfortable.
By the time we got our rental car my stomach was beginning to eat itself, so imagine our relief when we realized that Stuff I Eat in Inglewood was just a few blocks away from the rental depot.
From the moment we finished that first Californian lunch of ours I have been looking forward to writing about this restaurant. Let's start with the food. Because it's all about the food.
From the menu: Quesadilla topped with SIE cheese sauce, organic wild and black rice, seasoned tofu, black beans, mock chicken salad, carrot un-tuna, organic sautéed Portobello mushrooms, sautéed broccoli, tomatoes, corn and guacamole.
Soul Food Platter
From the menu: Yams, mac 'n' cheese, BBQ tofu, kale greens, black eyed pea soup, mini cornbread muffns and your choice of potato salad or coleslaw.
There are two main things I want to say about this meal.
1) We grossly overestimated how much we could actually eat. I begged Paul to get the half size of the soul food platter but he insisted that we could eat the full size as well as the quesadilla meal.
We were wrong. So, so wrong.
The portions at Stuff I Eat are generous and you get MORE than your money's worth at this restaurant.
2) The food was absolutely phenomenal. Phenomenal isn't even a strong enough word. Everything tasted amazing, obviously, or I wouldn't be carrying on about it like I am. But I think what made the meal so enjoyable was the fact that there were so many different flavours that were all a part of one meal. It actually feels like you are getting several meals for the price of one (even if you are the type of sensible person that orders a single meal and not a platter meant for two or more people). The fact that we each got to order one meal and try so many different things at once is particularly great for happy travellers like ourselves, because Stuff I Eat is a solid 2200 miles from our home in Kitchener, Ontario and we may never get the chance to visit again (although I really, really hope we will).
The staff at Stuff I Eat is incredibly friendly. The owner, Babette, stopped by the table to introduce herself to us. After learning that she has been vegan since 1990, I realized another thing about the food at Stuff I Eat - her enthusiasm and passion for cruelty-free living is reflected in everything that comes out of her kitchen. That is what makes it phenomenal instead of just good. That is what keeps you coming back to this restaurant in a city with dozens of other vegan options. Stuff I Eat is the embodiment of her philosophy and the vegan philosophy in general: caring about and taking care of every living thing is in turn caring about and taking care of yourself.
Plus, because we had travelled so far, she surprised us with a freshly made dessert - such a kind gesture for the two of us as we were about to embark on an unfamiliar city.
I left Stuff I Eat inspired by Babette's commitment to showing the world how rewarding veganism is and how comforting real comfort food is - the kind of comfort food that doesn't involve inflicting harm on another living being. Stuff I Eat undoubtedly gets the TIV: Seal of Approval. If you are visiting the L.A. area you positively must stop in - its close proximity to LAX gives you no excuse not to visit.
Stuff I Eat
114 North Market Street
Inglewood, CA 90301-1710, United States
Hours: Tue to Sat 12pm-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm