California Highlights

Just before leaving for Montreal on assignment for work, I spent almost two weeks in California for a little r and r. Here are some of the highlights of my trip:

1- Venice

It was my first time officially staying in Venice on this past trip. @Offneraurelien had stayed there before and definitely is very fond of this beach town. Though I’d hung out in Venice and had meetings there, I had never really explored the town more: the infamous boardwalk, the enormous guys work out at Muscle Beach or those dressed up asking for money to pose for pictures, etc. What I liked about Venice is the fact that not too far from that madness, you have all the beautiful canals and homes in quiet streets. I envy those who live in that area. How about a nice kayak ride after breakfast or a coffee on your porch overlooking the canals and being just two blocks from the ocean?! Sounds dreamy! What I also fell in love with in Venice is Abbot Kinney street. The street totally screams MEL! I love all the quaint coffee shops, the abundant choice of restaurants (you must go to Gjelina – the Caramel & seasalt pot de crème is RIDIC! & 3 Square Café + Bakery) the cool clothing and vintage shops and its overall vibe!

photo 1

photo 3

 

photo 5

photo 1

photo 2

photo 4

2- Deus ex machina

Located in Venice, this coffee shop/bike shop is a cool laid-back spot for a croissant and coffee in the morning. If you like the old motorcycle culture, surfing and coffee, then Deus is the place for you! I loved how friendly the staff was there. They don’t offer a very extensive menu but the stuff they do offer is yummy. Plus, they’ve got a cool shop design. Deus is always putting on some rad events in the Venice area, so make sure you check them out!

photo 2 (8)

 

photo 4 (3)

3- The CheeseStore of Silverlake

Those who know me, know how much I LOVE cheese! I don’t think I could live without it. We stopped by the Silverlake cheese shop for a little “goûter” one afternoon. Their selection was fantastic! They had so much variety, cheeses that are hard to find even in Toronto, fresh baked goods and a wonderful selection on wines. Plus, their prices were really affordable! I loved sitting down on their bench out front in the sun and enjoying my goûter!

photo 5 (1)

 

photo 5

4- Reel Inn

@Offneraurelien had been telling me about this place for quite some time now. He claims that Reel Inn was the coolest little taco restaurant in all of LA. Located on the PCH right at the beginning of Malibu, Reel Inn looks like some crappy wood shed. You would have no idea that they serve a huge variety of fresh fish they caught that day as well as some good old tacos. You could see it in Aurelien’s face just how stoked he was to be at his favorite “taco fish” spot. I loved their terrasse and super cosy atmosphere.

photo 1 (8)

 

photo 3 (5)

5- Dr. Woo

While on vacation, I had the chance of getting tattooed by the ultra talented Dr. Woo, who works at Shamrock Social Club in Hollywood. I’ve been following his instagram feed for the last couple of months and am a big fan of his work. He’s tattooed some bloggers I follow, celebrities, musicians and regular folk like myself. I’d been thinking of getting the word “Wanderlust” tattooed on me for quite some time now and thought he was the perfect guy to do it! Love the script that he did. For those who don’t know what wanderlust means, it’s “A strong desire to travel”. Seemed fitting!

photo 4

 

photo 3

 

There were tons of other fantastic things on this trip – daily Urth Caffé stops, Café Gratitude, bike rides, my entire birthday extravaganza, Micheal Jackson slot machines in Vegas, Universal Studios, surfing, Encinitas, etc. Can’t wait for the second part of our adventure in July!!

photo 2

30 days and counting…

In exactly a month from today, I’ll be back in LA.  Since I first visited LA in 2005, the California coast has quickly become my second home. There are many reasons why I love California but I think the main ones are: the people, the surf, the lifestyle, the nature (their big trees, colorful flowers, gardens, mountains, the ocean, the dessert) and the culture.

I usually try to go to California at least a few times a year to surf on my board (My lovely friend Maggie has been keeping it for me these past couple of months, I miss it tremendously!), to hang out with my friends (I can’t wait to see you ladies!!!), to eat great food (Bulan Thai, Flore, Cafe Gratitude, Urth Caffe), to drive on the Pacific Coast Highway (freedom!!), to hang in my favorite little towns (Encinitas, Venice, San Clemente, La Jolla, Santa Monica, etc) and to go shopping (Melrose Blvd, 3rd Street promenade, Main Ave.).

Contrary to what some people may believe, Californians are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Some of my favorite people on this planet are from LA and its’ surrounding areas. Everyone is so friendly, welcoming and laid back there.

All this to say, I couldn’t be more happy to be going back next month… And if you’ve never been to California before, it’s definitely worth the trip. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this place!

LA

Favorite eats in LA

I just got home on Sunday night from my vacation on the west coast. As a vegetarian (going on 10 years this year, hellz yea!), I love traveling to California because they have such a great selection of veggie or vegan-friendly food. They’ve also got lot’s of farmers markets and great organic and local products to offer.  During my vacation, I always try to hit up new places to eat and this time was no different.  Here are three of my favorites in the LA area:

1 – Flore Vegan

Located in Silverlake, just east of Hollywood, this small vegan restaurant is absolutely amazing! I ordered a vegan “Club Sandwich”, which included tempeh bacon, battered baked tofu, eggless mayonaise, avocado, tomato and sprouts, all served on fresh sourdough bread. It was accompanied by a delicious little salad.  I also had one of their amazing vegan treats: I ordered a peanut butter and chocolate cupcake, which was hands down the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten. I like this place because unlike some vegan restaurants, Flore really fills you up and is relatively inexpensive for all the food you get ($10.95 for the club – photo shows only half of the club :p). They apparently also serve a delicious brunch. I highly recommend going for a visit!

2 – Bulan Thai Vegetarian Kitchen

Bulan Thai has two locations: one in Silverlake and another on Melrose Ave. in LA. Their dishes are creative and super tasty. I ordered the vegan “Hot Wings”, which give Sadie’s (One of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in Toronto) a run for their money. They are veggie chicken wings deep-fried and flavored with special hot sauce. I also ordered the vegan “Tasty Sweet & Sour” dish, with tofu, veggies and their yummy sweet & sour sauce. There are so many different things on their menu: Soups, Noodles, Appetizers, Rice, Curries, etc. It’s hard to pick out something to eat. I like this place not only for the food but also for their great service and friendly staff.

3 – Venice Beach Wines 

You wouldn’t even know this place existed if you were just walking by on Rose Avenue. Located in Venice Beach, this small tiny wine bar is a great place to discover new wines and eat lot’s of fantastic cheeses and food. They’ve got wines by the glass starting at $7, an extensive selection of beers and a delicious food menu featuring charcuterie, mini paninis, cheese, pizzettes, etc. I couldn’t resist getting some cheese (those who know me know I live for cheese), so I ordered the Beemster and Triple Cream St André, which were served with jams and warm baguette. Both cheeses were great, the portions could have been a little bigger for the price but for the quality of cheese they served, it wasn’t bad at all. I also ordered a mini panini – pear, aged cheddar and truffle oil. Wow! What a combo! I think I ate that thing in just a few seconds.  They’ve also got tons of options for non-vegetarians as well. I also loved the ambiance and warmth to the place.  Definitely worth the trip!

So there they are! If ever you’re in the area, I hope you’ll pay them a visit.

Have a lovely Tuesday!

Mel

ps. All this food talk is making me hungry… is it lunch time yet?