Monday, September 18, 2006

My Vegan Birthday !

My birthday was long gone but the memories of it are still lingering. I am so very glad to tell you all about it cause it was really a romantic day. Thanks to DLH (dear loving husband) who made my day so beautiful. Just the two of us, we spent the day in LA (if you are a single girl and looking, I highly recommend to get a hubby like him but not him since he is mine :-) ).

I was blessed with a beautiful weather on my birthday on a Sunday. No more unbearable heat and humidity days lately. That day, especially, it was a sunny clear day in the 70's. Yay! DLH doesn't cook (that's one thing he doesn't do but suits me just fine) and I don't want to cook on my birthday (no dishwashing either) so we splurged on eating out for a day and enjoyed someone else's cooking for a change. DH paid for all the meals, drove, and arranged the itinenary since it was my day. I just had to look pretty and enjoyed the day.

Real Food Daily(RFD), West Hollywood (Vegan Organic Restaurant):
We traveled for about 1 hour (with no traffic) to West Hollywood. We noticed that driving to LA area on Sunday mornings is the BEST time. Looks like a lot of LA people are going out late on Saturday nights and wake up late on Sundays. There was NO TRAFFIC! Another YAY!

Hence, when we arrived at RFD about 10:00 am, the restaurant was still closed. We could see people were hustling inside for the preparations to open. At about 10:05 am, the manager opened the doors and we were the first customers. This restaurant opens early on weekends to serve brunch and that's what we were having. We started with organic soy latte before our meal. They were yummy coffee! DH ordered The Weekender (2 french toasts, tofu scramble with soy cheese sauce on top, potato fries, vegan butter, and real maple syrup) Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting and I had the Southwestern Omelet (tofu omelet filled with blackbeans and soy cheese, potato fries, 2 slices of thin rye bread, and vegan butter). Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
There were no eggs, butter, and milk in this brunch. My cousin who lives in Beijing, China was amazed when she read my blog that I could make chocolate mousse out of tofu. Wait till she reads this blog! Yes, vegans can make everything out of tofu. People in China will be amazed.

Lake Shrine Temple, Pacific Palisades (SRF Temple and Ashram Center)

After brunch, we had time to kill before our visit to Lake Shrine Temple(opens to the public at 12:30 pm). We walked to Beverly Center, a shopping center/mall in Beverly Hills about less than 1/4 mile away from RFD. We just did a window shopping and walking our brunch off. It was a beautiful shopping center but full of shops we couldn't afford.

Then, we drove to Pacific Palisades by way of Sunset Blvd. It was an interesting journey since we passed Hollywood, Beverly Hills (passing the stars' homes), Bel Air, and Brentwood. We basically were heading toward the ocean since the temple is very close to the intersection of Sunset Blvd. and Pacific Coast Hwy. We couldn't miss the temple because the building is very distinctive with white domes roof with golden lotuses on top, white walls, and golden lotuses on top of pillars. We heard about this temple from a friend and wanted to visit the 10-acres gardens with a spring-fed lake in the middle.

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It was indeed a serene and tranquil garden in the middle of LA craziness. This lake was built in 1950s so I could not imagine how peaceful this place was at that time. The garden was full of foliage, waterfalls, beautiful flowers, and statues. They also have koi fish, swans, turtles, and ducks. The temple itself is erected high on the hills above the lake overlooking the Santa Monica beach.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting We spent about 3 to 4 hours there walking around the lake, the temple, and visited the museum and book store too. We noticed that some of the visitors/tourists were speaking foreign languages so this temple must be famous in other countries. Funny, that I had never heard of it until recently.

Here are some pictures of the garden, temple, and lake:

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Busaba Thai Vegetarian Kitchen, Los Angeles
After walking for hours (5 p.m. now), I was famished and ready for our next meal. We drove to Los Angeles' famous Melrose Ave. Thai cuisine is my favorite cuisine so my request was to try this restaurant after I read the review from Vegetarian Paradise. We were surprised that this restaurant was located near M Cafe de Chaya, a macrobiotic French Japanese restaurant serving no meat, eggs, and dairy. We love M Cafe too for breakfasts, lunches, and especially for their vegan cakes and pastries. Vegetarian Paradise also did a review of M Cafe.

At Busaba (this restaurant serves lots of vegan dishes), we ordered Wonton Soup (wonton skins stuffed with shiitake , tofu, veggie shrimp, and spinach) Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting and Seaweed Rolls (seaweed stuffed with tofu, glass noodles, carrots and shiitake, served with sweet and sour dip) Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting as starters. Wow! They were DELICIOUS! We liked them right away. The wonton soup and the rolls were very tasty.

Then, we proceeded with our next item which was Tofu Larb Salad (tofu flavored with lime dressing, ground toasted rice, chili flakes, red onion, served on a bed of salad).

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YUM, YUM, YUM! This was my favorite. It was very SPICY. I meant HOT SPICY so for some of you this could be too FIERY. I loved it though! I was not named Spice Island Vegan for no reason (DLH called me that) The lime dressing gave this salad very sour and refreshing taste and yet it was a bit sweet and spicy. DLH said that it tickled every taste buds in his tongue.

Our next dishes were Busaba Special: Crisp Fish with Green Apple (crispy vegan fish served with fresh green apple, cashew nuts, red onion, chili, cilantro and a chef special dressing),

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Spinach Mushroom Sauce (spinach sauteed roasted garlic and chili with tofu and mushroom sauce, not pictured), and a bowl of brown rice. We loved the veggie fish dish. It was not as spicy as the tofu larb salad but the taste combination (sweet, sour, and spicy) was a winner also. We knew then that we will come back to this restaurant.

By now, we were stuffed but my birthday won't stop here without a sweet ending. No, no, we didn't eat desserts after all that food :-) but we bought vegan pastries to take home from M Cafe across the street. We were so full that we didn't eat our desserts till the next days. Here were my birthday vegan pastries from M Cafe: Chocolate and Banana Napoleon pastry (I can't even say the French name of it) Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting and Chocolate Tart (DLH favorite)Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Thanks so much, DLH, and I love you so much! I truly enjoyed my day and will cherish this memory for more than a day.

P.S. : I want to say thank you to friends and family who sent birthday greetings: Carolina in England, Arie in Jakarta, Indonesia, mother-in-law in Missouri (HI MOM!), aunt Lotte in Netherland (who called me early Sunday morning), my mom who lives near me, aunt Lanny in Toronto, Canada, and Lia in Beijing. Love ya all!


mipmup. said...

happy (belated) bday! what an amazing day! i'm really excited to try busaba - that looks so great. i'm a spicy fanatic, too, so i know i'll love it. thanks for sharing the photos and details!

Jennifer C. said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful birthday. The food sounds like it was exceptional and the temple and grounds look beautiful. Great photos...thanks for sharing!

runswithdog said...

Wow! What a day! Happy Birthday! It looks like you had a wonderful, jampacked day. The sky looks absolutely beautiful in your pictures.

Anonymous said...

what a wonderfull birthday you have. happy birthday!
amazing photos, thanks for share the photos and foods too.

Harmonia said...

Happy B-day late! That was a massive post! I love it! The pictures are lovely! Sounds like a great time!

Have a great day today!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

What a lucky Birthday Girl! A truly memorable day, and you left us all salivating! You are so lucky to have all those wonderful and varied VEGAN eateries nearby! Happy, happy belated birthday!

Valentina said...

Happy birthday!!!! late late late.... sorry..

spiceislandvegan said...

THANK YOU ALL for the birthday wishes! I've been busy and haven't been cooking lately. Although the weather is great and seems time to start baking.


Seitan W├Ârshipper said...

That vegan shrimps and "mock fish" sounds intresting..I remember att Ihad seen somekind of veggie shrimps in some Asian store when I was visiting in Sweden in early spring.But in here,Finland we don`t have anything like that in your markets or we don`t have any restaurants which serves something like that "mock veggie-meats".Usually only that chinese or Thai style places there is some tofu foods avaible but not any seitan or taht kind of mock-meats ... Maybe someday..
Also that vegan Banana Napoleon pastry looks so delicious!