THE LONG VIEW: Los Angeles visit includes a vegan experience

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Pat Grimes New pic.jpg

Have to say, my Southern California visit was grand. The schedule for this trip, my first to summertime L.A. in 30 years, was less hectic than usual. The weather was hot, but no more so than back home, and the lack of a long to-do list allowed me an adventure or two.

Went to a part of the city close to one of the film studios that dot this entertainment industry town. At a friend’s suggestion, we ambled into the recommended eatery.

Have to say, my Southern California visit was grand. The schedule for this trip, my first to summertime L.A. in 30 years, was less hectic than usual. The weather was hot, but no more so than back home, and the lack of a long to-do list allowed me an adventure or two.

Went to a part of the city close to one of the film studios that dot this entertainment industry town. At a friend’s suggestion, we ambled into the recommended eatery.

It was easy to know I was not in Kansas anymore; not only was every person there, staff and customers, younger and thinner than my companion and me, but every woman appeared to have stepped from the pages of “Vogue” magazine, while all the men seem to have sauntered from “Esquire.”

I treated this circumstance as an opportunity to sightsee, though I was amazed that people in the pursuit of fashion really wear so many items that were kind of unattractive, obviously uncomfortable, and undoubtedly expensive.

But the real fascination was the menu. Not only were we eating vegetarian, we were dining vegan.

Veganism is the practice of refraining from the consumption of animal products. As such, you avoid meat, eggs, dairy products, and other foods derived from animals. The vegetarian may joyfully chow down on cheese and yogurt. Vegans do not.

Our first dish, beguilingly called “present,” was summer bruschetta heirloom tomatoes, basil hempseed pesto, cashew mozzarella, arugula golden balsamic reduction, and grilled gluten-free artisanal baguette. Who knew you could make mozzarella from cashews? Vegans did.

The meal continued with a small plate of “flourishing”: braised asparagus arancine, arborio rice, more cashew mozzarella, gremolata, basil hempseed pesto oil, and arugula. I’m not sure what some of that stuff is, but it’s pretty tasty when combined.

We finished with a healthy portion of “celebrating,” which is a collard spring roll, daikon, wakame, avocado, pickled vegetables, and a sesame wasabi dipping sauce. As my companion noted, we were eating vegetables wrapped in vegetables, washing it all down with tall glasses of “healthy,” a juice of kale, celery, cucumber, and lemon with a little ginger zing.

The short, happy hour menu choices included “community,” “brilliant,” “and “honoring.”  And on the lunch/dinner menu, I noted the selections “dynamic,” “gracious,” “vivacious,” “liberated,” “resolved,” “awesome,” and “magical,” to name but a few. Perhaps we we’ll return for those someday.

I did ask our young server, looking fully the love child of Zac Ephron and George Clooney, if they had any “exfoliating” or “self-satisfied.”  To his credit, the doe-eyed young man took my gentle ribbing in good humor. Let it never be said that vegans have no sense of humor.

Leaving the restaurant, it felt good to have had a healthy meal and to have enjoyed an up-close look at some heretofore unfamiliar Los Angeles culture. That was part of my answer to the question our waiter posed as he served us: what are you grateful for today?

Two-and-a-half hours later, another part of the answer became obvious. Hungry again, we were near a favorite restaurant with more rib-sticking fare, which we ate with gusto.

The flavor of L.A. made for a tasty trip.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com

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