Tuesday, June 22, 2010

XIV: Birthday 2010

In my last post, I opened the floodgates to the discussion of the birthday I just celebrated on May 5. It's only fitting to continue this series with the sublime birthday dinner I enjoyed at XIV two days later with the wonderful friend to whom I've given a producer credit on two other occasions. He certainly deserves it again here.

I don't know about you, but every once in a while, I find it's best to stow my camera and be present at the dinner table. Although that means a photoless post, it was oh so worth it to just be in the moment.

As soon as the server greeted us, she wished me a happy birthday (thank you, Mr. Producer!) and asked if either of us was interested in the vegetarian menu. When I asked her for the vegan menu, she quickly retrieved it and let me know that she would not be bringing me a portion of bread because it's not vegan. A dining experience is always so much better when the staff is well-informed and eliminates the need for vegan inquiries.

My appetizer that evening was the Fried Green Tomatoes Salad (from the menu: Fried Green Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Mustard Frill, Sherry Emulsion), which was not fried at all. Instead, the plate arrived with very thinly sliced fresh green tomatoes that looked likely to be heirloom, topped with slightly-burst cherry tomatoes, all atop a bed of frisee. It was lightly dressed to allow for the flavors of the tomatoes to shine.

For my entree, I chose what had been my favorite course of the tasting menu I had my first time at XIV, the Charred Broccoli Rabe (from the menu: Charred Broccoli Rabe, Sushi Rice Cake, White Soy Vinaigrette). I loved the textural and color contrast between the tender-but-not-soft, dark green broccoli rabe and the slightly sticky and seasoned rice.

Dessert was a must for this birthday celebration and I ordered the Bitter Chocolate Sorbet (from the menu: Bitter Chocolate Sorbet, Spiced Pecans, Espresso, Cocoa Nib). If you read my Follow Your Heart birthday post, you will know that I was overjoyed when this dessert arrived bearing a lit birthday candle on which I could make a wish. Fortunately, there was no singing involved to draw the attention of other diners (I'm easily embarrassed), but I was incredibly appreciative for the thoughtfulness of the birthday candle.

With excellent conversation and delicious food, this was truly one of the most memorable birthday meals I've ever experienced. I am so grateful!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Follow Your Heart: Birthday 2010

I have told you before that Follow Your Heart Market & Cafe is one of my favorite places on earth. A homey, love-filled, 100% vegetarian cafe nestled in the back of an all-vegetarian market where you can purchase almost anything your vegan heart can dream up...well, you can see why I follow my heart there often. Interestingly, though, one of my friends (who surprised me with the revelation that he's read my blog) pointed out Friday that I haven't written many posts about this wonderful place. When I thought about it, I realized that the lack of posts speaks to the fact that I almost always order the exact same thing there: the vegan Reuben with vegan cheese (I'm not a fan of the cottage-style tofu).

Nobody was surprised when I chose to celebrate my birthday (May 5) this year with dinner at Follow Your Heart. Of course, I ordered the vegan Reuben, being my favorite sandwich ever. The menu description states that the Reuben is composed of: Thinly Sliced Wheatmeat, Natural Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut, Mustard and Vegenaise® on Oversized Rye Bread, Oven-Baked. Served with Dill Pickle and Thousand Island Dressing. Also Available Non-Dairy with Cottage-Style Tofu Instead of Cheese.

Served with crisp carrot chips and a pickle, the Reuben is gigantic (enough for two meals) and flavorful. I love all the different tastes and textures that are packed between two huge pieces of lightly-toasted rye bread and am grateful to this sandwich for introducing me to the deliciousness and healthfulness that is sauerkraut.

Since it was my birthday and all, something sweet was in order and a vegan chocolate mint milkshake fit the bill perfectly. The only sad moment occurred when I started driving home and it hit me that I hadn't blown out a birthday candle! I tore the house apart trying to find one and settled for blowing out a scented soy candle...hopefully my birthday wish will still come true.

There are a couple more birthday posts to come, but each deserves its own mention. For now, if you're in the LA area, follow your heart and hit up my favorite spot!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bold Native

Bold Native is not a person. It's an idea - that animals are not property. They are not ours to use. They are an end unto themselves. Their freedom is beautiful, and their slavery is a horror.

The above excerpt is from the powerful new narrative film, Bold Native; a film about animal liberation and welfare, about passion and compassion. It's a film that's presented in such an accessible way that those who might otherwise be resistant to a film that would open their eyes to the realities of animal testing will be talking about it for months to come. For those who are already aware, it is a film that will help facilitate conversations with the aforementioned resistant.

Bold Native is poignant, moving, and told by spectacular filmmakers, cast, and crew. Please support the film by attending screenings, purchasing merchandise, and spreading the word.

The red carpet world premiere takes place this Wednesday, June 16, in Los Angeles (details here)! The filmmakers and cast will be present (so will I). I strongly encourage you to come show your support and see this amazing film in an environment where you'll also have the opportunity to speak directly to these talented people. There is a second L.A. screening taking place this Friday, June 18, at Tree People. While the screening is sold out, waiting list spots are still available.

If you live outside of Los Angeles, you'll have a chance to see Bold Native very soon. The filmmakers will be presenting it in Portland on June 24, Seattle on June 29, and Washington D.C. on July 16. They are also planning a college tour this year, so please continue checking the website for details. In the meantime, get a sneak peak by watching the trailer.

We've got some trouble to start.