Bricks and Scones (Los Angeles, CA)

Unassuming...

At the north end of the Larchmont Blvd shopping district sits Brick and Scones, a swank library-quiet wi-fi haven well known by locals. It’s the study you wish you had at home. But all of this is beside the point, because the point of being here is to eat Korean-style Chewy Sesame Rolls!

Why, hello there...

The dairy-free/gluten-free Sesame Roll ($2.50), served warm by request, is a ball of joy. Flakes fall as you rip through the skin, revealing a chewy inner-heart of mochi, black sesame, and air bubbles. Each Sesame Roll is unique as a geode, full of densely speckled flesh with a whisper of sugar. Bricks and Scones (Los Angeles, CA)

ABC Kitchen (New York, NY)

The mix matched vegetable spoils!

One month after moving to Los Angeles, New York Magazine cruelly published an entire issue dedicated to the future of vegetables. Anchored with the article Vegetables Are the New Meat, the magazine declared, “At serious restaurants all over town, carrots, peas, and the like are no longer just the supporting cast – they’re the stars. Move over locavores, here come the vegivores.” Fortunately, I’d already booked my friend’s sofa for a return flight back East!

After thoroughly reading New York Mag’s “The Vegetable Movement’s Must-Visit Restaurants,” I gathered a party of 4 to dine at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen— quite possibly “the vegivore restaurant of the year”! Apparently everyone else had the same idea. I had to pull strings to secure a 8:00pm Saturday night reservation with just a few days notice… not that I actually know important people, but I do know their personal assistants!

Toastie!

There was no question that the Roasted Kabocha Squash Toast with fresh ricotta and apple cider vinegar ($10) would be the very first dish I ordered. According to all the press outlets that matter, it’s a top vegivore dish at ABC. Was it life changing?! Well, no… but imagine silky kabocha slivers lying in a bed of ricotta and crackling whole grain bread with a sprinkle of rooftop basil leaves. It may not change your life, but it will give you a solid 10 minute foodie high. ABC Kitchen (New York, NY)

NY Dosas (New York, NY)

The man, hard at work making YOUR dosa!

On a sunny spring/summer/fall day in Manhattan, there are few pleasures that can match the joyous decompression of a picnic in the park… especially when that picnic is catered by a madly delicious vegan dosa food cart. Hidden in plain sight among the pretzel and hot dog venders of Washington Square Park, 2007 Vendy Award winning Thiru Kumar’s made-to-order dosas, idly, and uthappam are a spicy treat!

Pancakes! Not just breakfast and breakfast-for-dinner anymore!

My first time here I was clearly a newbie, but being an educated newbie, I ordered the Jaffna Lunch — 4 small pancakes made with “natural herbs” topped with spicy dried chutney and served with a Samosa ($6). Why not the Pondicherry Dosa? Well, despite the excessive online praise for this dosa, when I saw the guy in front of me receive his, all I could think was that it looked like a salad in a crepe… and that wasn’t going to cut it , because I was HUNGRY!

NY Dosas (New York, NY)

Eleven Madison Park (New York, NY)

We cleared the room...

I spend the entire month confirming, reconfirming, and reconfirming my decedent Five Course Vegetarian Gourmand lunch reservation at Eleven Madison Park. Having read the phrase “EMP has the best vegetarian tasting menu in Manhattan” on Yelp and Chowhound ad nauseum, to say my expectations (and anticipation) were high is not an overstatement. We began the fanciful gourmand journey at 2:00pm and by 3:30pm, forcing down the final crumb of exquisite macarons, we were the last men standing in the shimmering gold deco dining room at the base of the iconic Met Life Tower.

We look delicious but taste like air!

As expected (I can’t decide if it’s funny or crass that these “compliments of the kitchen” bites are now anticipated, or even demanded in a tasting menu) we were presented with a square bowl of Gougeres. The delicately cheesy bread is like eating air with carbs… which is not really a good thing, but in this case, not a bad thing either… Eleven Madison Park (New York, NY)

A-Frame (Los Angeles, CA)

Swanky IHOP!

As a native Culver City girl, I’m absolutely floored by the bunny rabbit style growth of the restaurant scene in my little town. I may live in East LA now, but when I heard that one of the hottest new restaurants had popped up in my old hood, I had to go asap!

Pop pop chomp chomp

First out, the Furikake Kettle Corn ($5) Blazin’ Jay’s, Hawaiian Style. The kettle corn is richly buttered with the salty sweet goodness we all know and love, but then rocketed into the gourmet stratosphere with the addition of puffed corn, sesame seeds, nori flakes, and a blast of spiciness. The punchy mix is sourced from local popcorn vendor Blazin’J’s – watch out J, the word is out, and your booth will surely be blazin’ with foodies in the future.

These are not "pickles"

Along with the kettle corn, we ordered the Moooooo Kimchee ($3)—a modest plate of cubed white radishes swimming in lactic brine. Other than the salty brine, these bite-size dices of crunchy daikon bear no resemblance to kimchee. We selected this over the Heirloom Pickles because my friend doesn’t like “pickles.” She was later surprised to discover the pickle plate wasn’t all cucumbers. Instead it was an earthy mix of carrots, parsnips, red radishes, and something that looked like an apple… maybe an Asian pear?

[Memo to the world: Pickles are not just cucumbers! Also, not all pickles are made with vinegar! The fact that this information is not inherently known stuns me every time]. A-Frame (Los Angeles, CA)

Abistro (Brooklyn, NY)

International communal tables

For years, YEARS, I read gushing accolades for Abistro in total disbelief since the Senegalese-meets-French menu is such a dull read. Nor did I believe the internet buzz, composed mostly of unsubstantiated statements like “The food was SO delicious,” or “It’s the best! Just go!”… like, what does that mean (and let’s pretend I *never* say such things). So I put off a visit for years. But with my move out of the neighborhood looming, I mustered up the will to make the walk into Fort Greene… and thank heaven I did… for the good, the bad…and the BYOB!

A wet sloppy delicious mess

We began with the special appetizer of Sweet Plantains (which appears to be a standard special). The generous portion of ooey gooey fried plantains–smothered in maple syrup with a light sprinkle of scallions–is served with a side of pungent chipotle sauce. My Beau snickered as I gushed with delight over the creamy smoky sauce. “You know that is aioli… aka mayonnaise.” I didn’t–and I’ll admit, I cringed–but driven by flavor hypnotism, I summoned all my foodie courage and devoured the entire cup of my emulsified nemesis. If only all mayonnaises were as flavorful as this one… Abistro (Brooklyn, NY)

Eat (Brooklyn, NY)

A charming storefront on a quite street

Whatever my relation may or may not be to the one of former owners of Eat Records, I’ve never had mixed feeling over its conversion into a localvore sanctuary. Jordan Colon, the head cook and owner of the revamped “Eat,” has dressed up the typically crunchy-granola seasonnique-style of cooking in a white-walled minimalistic quasi-classy restaurant!

Kudos to the chef! He cooks and takes orders...

Few restaurants in New York who tout the localvore heritage actually look, taste, and feel the part… more often their “commitment to farm-to-table” or ”sustaining self-reliant food economies” and other modern hippy jargon are practiced only behind the kitchen door. But at Eat, when you look down unto the tomato pulp covered hands of the chef or over towards his well worn bike, you can feel the sweat of the ride to the local Greenmarket through which he brings you the sunshine and soil of “food is purchased directly from organic farmers in the northeast region.” Eat (Brooklyn, NY)

Rant: Eating Meat

Dabbling though an outline on a piece on the “Positive Aspects of Limited to No Vegetarian Options,” I joined a friend for an impromptu day in the city which serendipitously ended at Momofuku Noodle Bar – which very publicly states they only have one vegetarian option – a perfect study in this very topic! When I first read New York Magazine’s article The I Chang I was taken aback by David Chang steadfast and highly public(ized) anti-vegetarian stance with standoffish statements like “Well, I guess it was because I don’t like people telling me what to do.” Hey, I’m not trying to tell him what to do! I’m just asking if I can eat here… when it comes to restaurants I’m a take it or leave it kind of girl. When it comes to Momofuku I want to take it!

The case study given in New York Magazine is of the angry vegetarian woman who unwittingly consumes meat based broth at Momofuku, then huffs and puffs like a lunatic who has been tricked into eating her own cat – a stereotypical anecdote on the incompatibility of vegetarians with the realities of the world. This article (and many many others) revels in making it appear that all vegetarians turn honest mistakes into vicious personal attacks on their morality. Well, this vegetarian would like refute such notions.

Mistakenly consuming meat items happens to me all the time, but I have to laugh it off and learn from my mistake. A mistake that is mine alone. Because unless you’re a true Jeffrey Steingarten-esq omnivore, every person runs the risk of consuming foods they wish to avoid; and unless a restaurant or food manufacturer profusely promises that “this is this” and “that sans that,” every bite is a gamble and every so often you are going to lose.

La Bottega (New York, NY)

On a perfectly sunny summer evening the (cool) ladies of my offices hopped a cab to the airy patio of the Maritime Hotel. We quickly sank into a scene where the clientele sashay around the nautical piazza as though they are gracing an uber cool red carpet. They mingle with the hot dads, beautiful children, and monotonous models in scant breezy skirts that flashed bare ass with every butterfly flap.

Our waitress was beautiful but looked barely 17, and so I refused to take wine recommendations from her. I jealously admired her tight short shorts that looked like they hugged her perfectly, but then I saw her picking wedgies multiple times and felt better as I lounged in my summer dress.

On my side of the table, we order the cheapest bottle of white and it was one of the worst wines I’ve ever consumed. Thinking our lesson had been learned, the next round we ordered a pricier bottle, but it was only a hairline better. So we enviously watched our friends sipping on their lovely (although non alcoholic) cocktail across the table. The virgin cocktail menu assembles distinctive drinks that sounded more and more alluring as I drank my 2 bottles of crappy wine.

I found the palm sized rounds of warm pizza doughy bread and the salads to be the highlight of the dinner. Although we didn’t order pizza (until dessert ) the “bread” quietly establishes their pizza oven pride… which I’m sure is perfectly good for the tourist…

La Bottega (New York, NY)