Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hangar Bar at Whole Foods Market in Tustin, CA

Hangar Bar's vegan Cauliflower Nachos and Beast Burger with fries!

Whole Foods Market at The District in Tustin, California just got a major overhaul that included the additions of a brand new Mendocino Farms and Hangar Bar inside the store! This is the Whole Foods I frequent the most, so I am ecstatic to have two new restaurants inside the store that offer lots of vegan options! Now I can grab a bite before shopping, because we all know shopping hungry at Whole Foods just leads to trouble.

I've already had Mendocino Farms, so I decided to try some of the vegan options at Hangar Bar, which of course also has a full bar serving lots of beer on tap as well as specialty drinks. Since I'm not much of a drinker, I went straight for the food! I was surprised at how many vegan options they did offer, each of which was clearly marked with a green circle with the world "vegan" inside it (just be careful since the vegetarian options are also marked with a green circle - the only difference is that they say "veg").

Monday, November 28, 2016

Boulder Organic Garden Minestrone Soup

Boulder Organic Garden Minestrone Soup

At the beginning of summer, Boulder Organic was kind enough to send me some coupons to try their pre-prepared soups, of which they have a few hearty vegan options. However, since it was summertime and hot I was in no mood for soup (unless it was ice cream soup, had a lot of that over the summer!). Luckily, the weather FINALLY seems to have cooled down here in SoCal and I excitedly busted out these coupons when I felt the chill in the air.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Recap: Circle V - Vegan Music + Food Festival 2016

Circle V at the Fonda Theater

The first Circle V was held this past October 23rd, 2016, and was the first ever vegan food and music festival held in Los Angeles! All proceeds benefited Mercy for Animals, an amazing non-profit organization that is dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and advocates for compassionate food choices and policies, As soon as Circle V was announced months ago I knew I MUST go!

The daytime portion of the event featured vegan food from top vegan restaurants, vendors selling compassionate, cruelty-free makeup, apparel, and accessories as well as talks from famous vegans making a real difference in the animal rights movement. The nighttime portion was a concert featuring musical acts Cold Cave, Blaqk Audio, and Moby (all who happen to be vegan)!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hugo's Tacos in Los Angeles, CA

Churros and crispy soy chorizo tacos

Hugo's Tacos is a small walk-up taco stand in the Atwater Village area of Los Angeles (they have other locations as well) with clearly marked vegan options. I have been dying to check this place out, and since I spent a weekend not to far from this location in October I was able to visit twice! Cuz we all know you can never have enough tacos, right?!

Their menu is pretty big, and most of their items are veganizable (or already vegan). They have tacos, burritos, nachos, burgers, tamales, tortas, breakfast burritos, and even churros and soft serve, all of which can be made vegan! Everything on their menu is clearly marked as vegan or items which can be made vegan. They also have clear distinctions for items that are or can be made gluten-free and vegetarian. I really appreciated how easy their menu was to read and how easy they make it to order vegan items!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles, CA

Crossroads Kitchen is an upscale vegan dining establishment on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles that serves up small plates of decadent food from Chef Tal Ronnen. It has a romantic, sexy atmosphere, with twinkling candles on every table and dim lighting throughout the restaurant. Some people find it a bit pretentious, but I have been wanting to try it for a long time and was finally able to go in October!

I was excited to try out their comforting Italian classics (veganized, of course), like all their pastas, which I had been drooling over on their menu for months! I am Italian, and usually I don't trust any restaurants with pastas, but I was willing to give Crossroads a try. I choose to dine there early on a Sunday night, not only for decent lighting to take photos of food but also since we were going to see Delusion, an immersive horror play (I wrote about that HERE if you are interested!), right after dinner.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Recap: Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2016

I originally wasn't going to post a review of Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, but I've been missing Halloween so badly that I figured reminiscing about past months' festivities might help ease the pain a little! Plus, I'd like to get into a habit of sharing more about all the Halloween activities I do because, seriously, Halloween season in Southern California is full of so much spooky good stuff!

I went to Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood at Universal Studios back in late September. It was the second weekend they were open, and I wanted to go before it got too late in the season and got super-crowded. Well, the Friday night I picked was actually sold out, so there went my plan of going when it was less crowded, haha!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Vegetable in Studio City, CA

There are so many vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants in Southern California that I have a running wish list of those I haven't been able to get to yet. There are SO MANY I haven't visited yet, and Vegetable used to be one of them, despite rave reviews I've heard about it.

The restaurant is tucked away in Studio City, right below Universal Studios. It is located where SunCafe used to be, and I have to say I love what they have done with the space! The ambiance is cozy, even though I feel like they were able to squeeze more tables in. I also love the black chalkboard wall on one side and a brick wall on the other side. It feels modern and retro at the same time, if that makes sense.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Next Year's Halloween Bucket List

This is a pic of part of my living room Halloween night 2016

I've still got the Halloween blues bad (not to mention the added anxiety from all that is currently going on in the U.S.), so I decided to cheer myself up by starting to plan for next year's Halloween! Even though I accomplished a lot this 2016 Halloween season (see my recap of completed bucket list items HERE), there are still many events in SoCal I didn't get to. Many of these I've had on my to-do list for years, but hope to finally get to experience them next year!

This year there were a lot of non-Halloween events that took up my time (I love vegan events, but I wish they moved some of them to other months!), but I think next year I'm gonna skip any concerts/festivals/etc. that aren't related to Halloween so I can fill my favorite season with strictly spooky events in SoCal (and perhaps beyond)!

My list is ambitious (especially when you combine it with the events I already go to every year), and I probably won't ever be able to do it all, but dang it, I'm gonna try!

Halloween 2017 Bucket List (with the exception of other cities listed at the end of the post, all events occur in or around Southern California):

Friday, November 11, 2016

Watch Now on Netflix: I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House (2016)

Fair warning, most horror fans will NOT like I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House - it is extremely slow, has a very thin storyline, and it isn't structured like a traditional horror film. However, it totally nails the atmosphere and really got under my skin, which is why I have chosen to recommend it here.

The film is about a hospice nurse that moves into an old home to care for an elderly author, and realizes her books may be inspired by the house itself, which may be haunted by the ghosts of its past inhabitants.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Last Pumpkin Patch Visit

My favorite pumpkin patch, Tanaka Farms, announced that they would be open the day after Halloween for one last hurrah (and to try to find good homes for all their leftover pumpkins - you could buy a wheelbarrow full for only $10!). So after work yesterday I hopped on my broomstick and flew over to enjoy another hour or so in one of my favorite places, the pumpkin patch.

It was a beautiful fall day, with cool (well, cool for SoCal) temps, a nice breeze rustling the corn stalks, and bright blue skies contrasting against the orange of the remaining pumpkins. The pumpkin fields were pretty sparse, as all of the pumpkin vines had been pulled up and a few pumpkins were smashed and rotting, with the faint smell of stinky-sweet pumpkin rot hanging in the air, but I was ecstatic to be back in the pumpkin patch for what felt like an extra bonus round of Halloween! There were only a few families here and there along with a few workers in the fields, but for the most part it was quiet and beautiful. It felt like the perfect way to say goodbye to Halloween. 

Here are some photos I took of my last pumpkin patch visit of 2016:
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