Friday, January 11, 2008

bloggy meet-up and food overload!

Hi everybody! How are you all doing? No, I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth. As my vacation winds down, I'm trying to take advantage of every moment of relaxation possible - which means that other than the occasional scrabble game on Facebook, I've been on a bit of an internet hiatus. To add to that, the internet access here at my mom's house is a bit spotty, so I still haven't uploaded all my Los Angeles photos. All that adds up to a huge pile of photos and blog-posts and guilt for neglecting it all! So I'm back today, with a huge post. Brew a cup of tea or coffee, sit back, relax, and let me tell you all about one of the bloggy meet-ups Daiku and I got to enjoy during our time in California!

Cast of characters
Daiku and me, yours truly

Vegyogini of Hugger Food
Teresa of Maybe Pigs Can Fly
Trina of Your Vegan Mom, along with her husband and adorable baby boy
Textual Bulldog of Bigmouth Strikes Again, along with her friend

: Sunday, 29 December 2007

: Vinh Loi Tofu, a Vietnamese vegan place in Reseda that I had heard rave reviews about.

Except for one thing- here are, from L to R, Teresa, me, and Vegyogini discovering that D'OH! Vinh Loi was closed for the holidays!

On to plan B
: we all decided to drive over to a Valley institution, Follow Your Heart, a grocery and cafe and birthplace of the vegan kitchen staples Vegenaise, FYH cheese, and many other wonderful things. I fondly remembered going here to buy my very first block of vegan cheese a few years ago, but had never tried the cafe, so I didn't mind at all.

While we waited to be seated, we marveled at these shelves and shelves of nothing but vegan frozen desserts. It's like the promised land- all kinds of ice creams, sorbets, frozen yogurts, and other creations- totally irresistable. In one small corner were huddled a few pints of Akbar Mashdi Iranian-style dairy ice cream, and I loved the reversal- this is one of the few places on the planet where the dairy was in the sad neglected minority while the vegan stuff comprised the overwhelming majority. Awesome.

Finally we were seated- I got to sit close next to Desmond, cute vegan baby extraordinaire, and photograph his antics! It was really difficult to decide what to order, but we finally made the tough choices that had to be made... I photographed everything but now I can't remember what it all was! Hopefully some of you who were there can remind me in the comments!

I went with the eggs benedict special, since I'd never had it in veganized form. I just had to photograph the kitschy black olives. It was a cool dish, and definitely filling, but a little underwhelming as far as flavor went- and it was a bit of a tofu overload! Tofu eggs, tofu hollandaise sauce, and a tofu scramble and soy chorizo on the side- whew! Fortunately, I love tofu just that much.

No words are needed to convey the deliciousness of the colorful food, happily.

Here's the whole group, kindly photographed by a FYH employee. I don't think most of us came close to finishing our plates! Afterward, we all walked around the market checking out all the vegan goods that most of us had never seen before.

Textual Bulldog and Teresa marveling at Play Food cheese! (Take that, Cheez Whiz)

(I had to buy one, since I'd heard such rave reviews. Here's my Cream Tang flavor bottle- but I didn't open it, since I wanted to be able to take it along with my luggage on the flight back home- and I don't think I'll open it until I get back to Syracuse- anticipation!)

Vegyogini and Daiku oohing and aahing over vegan chicken!

Outside Follow Your Heart was this wonderfully smart and friendly border collie, Buddy, who was helping his owner collect signatures for an animal-rights proposition to be placed on the California ballot. Since I'm still a registered CA voter, I got to sign the petition- sweet!

Here's a parting group shot. It was so nice meeting everybody! (And thank you guys for putting up with my photo-obsessed ways). It's so cool to think about the ways in which blogging has changed my life, putting me in touch with brilliant people that I get to meet at home or whenever I'm lucky enough to travel. In fact, tomorrow, Daiku and I are looking forward to a Washington D.C./Virginia PPK meet-up. I'll be sure to report on that... eventually. Just kidding- I'm getting back into the blogging routine, I promise! Have a great weekend, everyone.

Restaurant information:
Follow Your Heart Natural Foods

Extensive menu (mostly vegan with some dairy options), fair prices, wonderfully stocked market.

21825 Sherman Way
Canoga Park, CA 91303
(818) 348-3240 Phone
(818) 348-1509 FAX

OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK, 8:00am - 9:00pm

P.S. This is for Trac, who wanted to see palm trees:

...and this is for Elizabeth, who wanted to see my new haircut:



Elizabeth said...

First of all, everything looks so yummy! It's making me hungry.
Secondly, I love love love the hair! Thank you for posting a picture just for me :) It's quite fabulous.

Tami said...

I love your haircut!

That looks like an awesome outing and a great way to wrap up your vacation. I don't even need to mention the food or the novelty of a cool vegan store!

What a wonderful looking bunch of people (and plates).

I'll bet you had an amazing time.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

You're certainly right-- the food pictures speak for themselves! And what a cute baby :o).

I'll be interested to hear what you think of the Play Food stuff, since I've been intrigued by it ever since I first saw their website.

Love the haircut; you look beautiful (not that you didn't before!).

Anonymous said...

Holy crap, that freezer case.... I'm speechless...!

Vegyogini said...

Your new haircut looks great! Here's the run-down on the dishes we enjoyed from top to bottom, starting under your Tofu Benedict: Wok Stir Fry, Tandoori and Curry, Zorro Burrito, The Reuben, Lorenzo's Tofu Eggwich, The Follow Your Heart Burger, The Om Lette. The FYH website has descriptions of everything. :) It was so fun meeting you!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Why aren't you smiling? Don't you like your new do? I love it! Glad you had a wonderful trip and made it home safe and sound.

Judy said...

Oh my god, everything looks so good I can't decide which one is my favourite! lol and I've never even tasted them.

Your haircut is very cute.

VeggieGirl said...

wow, so much food, fun, and friendly company!! looks like your time on the Westcoast is just too fabulous for words!! although you DID articulate your latest adventures quite nicely, as always :0)

LOVE the new hair-do!!

Monika K said...

What a great post - now I've had my Bazu fix for the day!

P.S. Awesome haircut!
P.P.S. Awesome case of ice cream!

dreamy said...

I am simply amazed by the all the vegan desserts! I wish the shop will make a copy of itself here! A wonderland!

The food looks soooo good! You must have enjoyed urself very much! :)

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Soooo jealous! What a fun group of people! I totally forgot Follow Your Heart has a store / cafe. Maybe I'll have to check it out, possibly for the PLAY FOOD! damn, I want some.

I'm working on the same CA ballot initiative you signed & funny enough, I just received an email about people in LA bringing their dogs along with signs! I actually had the petition in the car in LA when we met up, but forgot to bring it inside! doh.

Where shall we meet next?! I'm in Germany & London in March- aren't you in Paris? hehe.

Emilie said...

very cute new haircut! I got my hair cut this week too. Looks like you having good fun and good food. Keep on enjoying that sun and the tofu overloads...Syracuse awaits ;)

Rural Vegan said...

Food overload is right, what an amazing feast you had and such great company!

Melody Polakow said...

I love your haircut!

OMG, looks like such a fun time... wow..

trina said...

It was so nice to meet you and Daiku. Despite conversation being dictated/ fragmented by keeping a one year old entertained, I had enough time to determine that I really liked everybody at that table. And I'm choosy. Thanks for documenting it so nicely!

Veg*Triathlete said...

What FUN! The blogger meet-up looks like such a great time. And the food and the blue sky? Dreamy. I can't wait until someday we cross paths, as well!

Very cute haircut, too!

Carrie™ said...

Isn't it great to meet fellow bloggers in person? Looks like you all had a great day, filled with delicious food! Wow! Those plates look scrumptious. I would love to go to Follow Your Heart to check out the store. Ice Cream galore.
I also like your new haircut!
BTW - I'm on Facebook and play Scrabble over there. Look me up - Carrie Bagnell Horsburgh.

Unilove said...

What an adventure! Pics are excellent as always, and your post entertaining.

Thanks for adding your vote here in Cali! Every voice counts!

urban vegan said...

You have met more bloggers than anyone! Looks like a great time--with such wonderful folks. Love the haircut, too. Isn't it weird, the first time you wash your hair afterwards? (I got mine cut fairly short a few months back. I like it, but I hate straightening it!)

Cakespy said...

How fun!! Looks like you guys all had a good time and plenty of great food.

Anardana said...


Vegan_Noodle said...

What a good lookin' group of vegans!! Oh, and the food looks awesome too....
Love your new haircut!

Rachael said...

And I thought going to Whole Foods and Trader Joes while I was in Boston this weekend was exciting. I am so jealous! the food looks awesome and, wow, no snow!

Nicole said...

lovely haircut! i'm looking forward to more posts about your fabulous vacation (i'm living vicariously)

the pleasantly plump vegan said...

the food and hair cut look great!

textual bulldog said...

This was such a fun outing! So glad we got to meet up. And I love the haircut. I have been thinking of chopping all my hair off again, so this is an inspiration ;)

Peace, Love and Veganism said...

I have always dreamed of meeting up with fellow vegan bloggers! I'm in the VA/DC area, too, so feel free to look me up! Meanwhile, we have a great veggie group here :) Love the description of the frozen food sections - reminds me of trips to vegan restaurants when you can order anything you want! And, I love the tofu plate - love tofu, too! Last but not least, love the hair - seriously - I'm printing out pages of short hairstyles for my own upcoming 'chop!'

Anonymous said...

Your CA posts have made me very homesick but I'm glad to hear you had a great time and were well fed.

What a coincidence...I just chopped off all of my hair as well. It's about chin length. I was sort of scared to do it. Afraid I might regret it. But I'm glad I did. I love it. Love yours as well. It's very becoming.