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Los Angeles: Real Raw Live, Café Gratitude, KindKreme

September 21, 2011

I know it’s only Wednesday, but it’s been quite a long week so far. Matt and I returned from L.A. on Monday night, and since then I’ve been catching up on rest, polishing my book manuscript, and trying desperately not to freak out at the fact that more than half my recipe testers missed the Monday deadline, and of that group, half of them have admitted they never made any of the recipes at all (::gulp::) and the other half are completely MIA. Yeah, I’m not doing too well on the not freaking out…keep your fingers crossed for me that at least a few more of my testers come through.

But now, I need to start blogging about the trip I won from Vega to Los Angeles last weekend! I have lots to share.

After waking up at 4am Central time to fly to L.A. last Thursday, we finally made it there around 10am Pacific, and went straight to breakfast at Real Raw Live. Matt had the Berry Grounding smoothie (with banana, berry mix, date paste, buckwheat, spirulina, and date water) and I had the Brazilian Breakfast smoothie (with almond milk, açaí berry, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and hemp granola). Both were superfoody and yummy.

We also shared these raw Oaxacan mole enchiladas. They made for an unconventional, but satisfying, breakfast.

Once we were checked into our hotel, Matt and I crashed for a bit. After our nap, we got straight up and went to the almost-still-brand-new Café Gratitude Los Angeles location. It’s quite different from the original in San Francisco; it’s newer, sleeker, and sexier, in my opinion. I wonder if the newest Café Gratitude opening in Kansas City this winter will be similar to this one. (That’s right—if you haven’t heard yet, Café Gratitude is coming to KC! WOOHOO!)

We started with smoothies, of course—I Am Grace for me (young coconut milk, almond butter, date, and vanilla bean; SO GOOD!) and a berries ‘n cream smoothie (of which I forget the name) for Matt.

We shared the I Am Grounded appetizer: garlic- and olive-oil-roasted potatoes topped with spicy cashew nacho cheese and pink sea salt. These were my only non-raw bites of food all day!

For his main dish, Matt went for the I Am Graceful bowl: quinoa with kale, tomato, sprouts, and pesto sauce.

I did something most unusual, and ordered a taco salad! The I Am Festive had sunflower seed chorizo, cashew nacho cheese, salsa roja, and guacamole on a bed of romaine, sprouts, and carrots. It was light and fresh and really hit the spot.

For dessert, we shared this I Am Rapture seasonal cake, which that day was strawberry shortcake. The coconut-flour-and-date-paste cake was just rich enough to offset the cloud-light whipped icing.

If you follow me on Facebook, you know what happened next! I posted this on the AV Facebook wall:

Get this–after eating at Café Gratitude, Matt and I returned to our hotel, where I found this Twitter message from @VeggieFixation:
@AlmostVeganChef Were you at @CafeGratitude in LA today? I think I recognized you but wasn’t sure enough to say hello.”
How cool is that?! Does getting randomly recognized at a restaurant 1000 miles from home mean I’ve officially “arrived” on the raw/vegan culinary scene? 😛

Is that crazy, or what?! Hehe! Christine (@VeggieFixation) went on to say “I was at a table in the middle of the patio. Was going to say hi on my way out but then your food came. Bummer! Your camera gave you away! 🙂 The way to tell a food blogger: they start snapping away when the food arrives.” Too true! Wish we could’ve chatted, Christine—next time!

Several hours later, Matt and I were ready for one last sweet snack for the night, so we headed over to KindKreme, a gourmet, raw, vegan, organic dessert shop with three locations in L.A. I went for something simple: a scoop of honey-vanilla ice cream (KindKreme does use honey) with raw salted caramel syrup. The “salted” part was no joke; that syrup made me thirsty! I enjoyed it, though.

Matt went all out with their Brownie Sundae: raw vegan brownie chunks topped with one scoop each of chocolate banana ice cream and espresso bean ice cream, raw chocolate syrup, and crushed Newman O’s cookies. WHOA! This was sinfully good! I must recreate this at home.

Coming up next: all about our day at the pre-Emmys expo with Brendan Brazier and the Vega team!

3 years ago…
Chilaquiles casserole
2 years ago…
No posts this week…I was in Europe!
1 year ago…
White chocolate peanut butter blondies (*one of my best recipes ever!*)
Ethiopian-spiced hummus

41 Comments leave one →
  1. Edith permalink
    September 21, 2011 1:09 pm

    You’ve come so far in such a short time! If you haven’t already, sometime you must make Cafe Gratitude’s fabulous Onion Bread. Congrats on winning the trip and the other things since graduating from 105degrees.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 21, 2011 1:23 pm

      Thank you, Edith! I have not yet made CG’s onion bread – I will definitely try it sometime! Thanks for your ongoing support and readership. 🙂

  2. September 21, 2011 1:13 pm

    Yo! Those desserts look delish! So sorry about your testers not coming through! 😦 Hopefully they will catch up? Let me know if you need any help. I will try my best!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 21, 2011 1:20 pm

      Unfortunately, the scary thing is that I’m turning in my manuscript in just a couple weeks – so there’s literally no time left; I gave my testers a full 12 weeks to get their testing done. Argh! I hope a few more emails trickle in this week! =( But thank you for the offer!!

  3. Bitt permalink
    September 21, 2011 1:19 pm

    I was concerned for you a little only having ten testers and strict time limits. It’s a fun job being a tester but unpaid so do the best with what you’ve got!

    So hope I can so to cafe gratitude someday!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 21, 2011 1:22 pm

      I wish there were written guidelines of some kind out there to help first-time cookbook authors navigate the recipe testing phase! Well, I’m learning lots of lessons as I go along, so I suppose the good thing is I’ll be armed and ready when it comes time to write book #2. 🙂

  4. September 21, 2011 3:11 pm

    Wow, this is amazing luck! Congrats and I can’t WAIT to hear about the main event. Also, Cafe Gratitude is so amazing, I miss it!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 21, 2011 3:14 pm

      Cafe Gratitude IS amazing! We’re very lucky here in KC to be getting the next one . 😀

  5. September 21, 2011 3:25 pm

    Whoa! That brownie sundae is out of control!! Btw, did you know today is World Gratitude Day? Yep, my Ultimate Holiday iPhone app said said so, which means it must be so. Good post for the day! And….with Cafe Gratitude coming to KC, I have one more reason to visit!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 21, 2011 3:46 pm

      Ultimate Holiday iPhone app? Get out. I’m gonna have to make Matt download that one.

      YES! Yet another reason, on top of many, to come to KC soon. 😀

  6. September 21, 2011 5:47 pm

    The menu looks extraordinary and mouthwatering! I’m intrigued about the roasted potatoes? Did they dehydrated them? Thank you very much for sharing! 🙂

  7. September 21, 2011 5:50 pm

    Sorry, I didn’t read first! But still, it look amazing!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 21, 2011 8:26 pm

      Hehe, no worries! Raw “roasted” potatoes would be pretty cool, though! 🙂

  8. September 21, 2011 6:00 pm

    Everything looks super delicious! That’s awesome that you’re getting a Cafe Gratitude near you.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 21, 2011 8:26 pm

      I know! I can’t wait for it to open.

  9. September 21, 2011 8:13 pm

    Wow! Kind Kreme looks incredible! I finally visited Cafe Gratitude for the first time three weeks ago. It has a great vibe.

    I’m so sorry to hear that you haven’t had an overwhelming response from your testers. I do hope you hear from more asap. I’m glad I got my notes to you last week – I hope the feedback has been helpful.


    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 21, 2011 8:27 pm

      Thanks Lisa – your feedback was SUPER helpful; I can’t thank you enough for all your hard work!

  10. September 22, 2011 5:34 am

    One I am Grace and one I am Rapture, please. It’s only fitting, seeing as my name means grace.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 22, 2011 10:55 am

      Really? My name means “crystallized tree sap.” 😛

      • September 22, 2011 4:40 pm

        Then, by a stretch, we could say I’m a delicious smoothie and you’re even more delicious maple syrup?

        • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
          September 22, 2011 4:57 pm

          Works for me! 😉 Then put us together, and we’d make one fantabulous breakfast!

  11. Mom permalink
    September 22, 2011 7:58 am

    Your first L.A. day sounded fun. Can’t wait to hear about your day with Brendan. I hope some of your testers still come through…

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 22, 2011 10:56 am

      A couple more emails have trickled in, which is good. I really need everything by the end of this week at the LATEST, though, so we’ll see…

  12. September 22, 2011 8:22 am

    I always love reading your posts! Everything you eat looks so delicious!
    And it makes me so happy that you are balancing both raw and cooked food! I want to be free from being all raw (which I have been in certain parts of my life, and it made me sick and sad). But I still LOVE raw fresh food, and raw desserts beats cooked every time 🙂
    Balance and trusting my body is what Im going for 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 22, 2011 10:57 am

      I totally agree with you! I don’t believe there’s any compelling reason to be 100% raw vs. just high-raw. Happiness and balance are key! 🙂

  13. September 22, 2011 11:23 am

    Good luck in getting your manuscript done. I hate that the testers didn’t do their job! 😦 But, You have come so far, so I have no doubt that you will come thru with flying colors!

    Congrats on the win! I just saw your pictrue with Brendan Brazier in an email that I get from Vega….way cool!

    All your eats look fantastic! 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 22, 2011 11:59 am

      Ooh, really? I haven’t gotten that Vega email yet! Hope I get it soon…actually, what I really hope is that they picked a decent shot! =X

  14. Dani @ Body By Nature permalink
    September 22, 2011 11:48 am

    What a great start to what I am sure was an amazing trip! The frosting on Cafe Gratitude’s strawberry shortcake looks to die for!!

    ps. if you need another tester, let me know!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 22, 2011 11:58 am

      Thanks for the offer, Dani! Unfortunately my manuscript is due soon, so there’s no time for additional testers =/ But at least I tested every recipe twice, and 1-2 other people tested each recipe, so hopefully I’m still good to go! 🙂

  15. September 22, 2011 12:36 pm

    Wow, Cafe G in LA and now in Kansas City?! And interesting that they’re now using coconut flour in their desserts. Good move, I think.

    LA has quite the selection of raw places. Is Au Lac still going? When I was there a few years ago, it was wonderful, and their silent Chef Ito is really someone special.

    Looking forward to hearing the rest of the trip–sorry you haven’t had joy with the taste-testers: is it too late?

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 22, 2011 1:39 pm

      I could be wrong, but I was pretty certain I detected coconut flour in there…

      Au Lac is still going – I REALLY wanted to make it there, but alas, it was a bit too far away for us to visit on this trip. 😦 Next time!

  16. September 22, 2011 11:47 pm

    Oh Amber, it makes me so sad to hear that some of your tester haven’t pulled through yet. I hope they are reading this and hop to it really soon for you. Such a shame I was in Australia during the testing time and was limited with my equipment and time, I would have relished helping you out!

    Thank you for your updates from LA. Hopefully I can convince hubs to take me to the east coast next year San Fran and LA. Been to LA before but wasn’t as half interested in the cafes/restaurants as I was the nightlife at that point in time 🙂

    Let me know if I can help with the testing, even if it is late now.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 23, 2011 11:30 am

      I wish you could’ve been a tester too! Next book? 😉 It’s too late now for further testing, but at least I can say that each recipe was tested twice by me and again by 1-2 other people. I was just hoping for 3-4 people!

      West coast, you mean? 🙂 Oh yes, you must go to both LA and San Fran, JUST to EAT! But the nightlife’s great too, especially in LA!

  17. September 23, 2011 7:52 am

    The enchiladas are killing me! What was inside of them? I love savory breakfasts these days!

    And a “go Matt” with the ice cream sundae choice!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 23, 2011 11:28 am

      It was a sunflower seed-walnut taco meat of sorts, plus spinach and some other things I can’t remember…

      I want another one of those raw ice cream sundaes so bad!

  18. September 23, 2011 8:51 pm

    Cafe Gratitude is coming to KC??

    YAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY! That’s pretty exciting. I will be going there!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 25, 2011 11:58 am

      YES!! I have a feeling I’ll be there ALL the time…

  19. September 27, 2011 8:49 am

    That’s such a bummer about your recipe testers…I know it’ll all work out fabulously anyway. So very cool that you were spotted at Cafe Gratitude like that! And speaking of Cafe Graditude, I can’t wait until the one in KC opens!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 27, 2011 10:56 am

      Me neither! I can’t wait till just announce an opening date, heh.

  20. September 27, 2011 4:42 pm

    So have you learned to love lettuce now? 🙂 I thought I remember you didn’t love it. So, I have been to LA a few times, and I’ve never even heard of some of these places! It’s always hard to fit in visits to everywhere I want to go! Can’t wait to try some of these places when I go back.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 27, 2011 4:44 pm

      I wouldn’t say I’ve learned to love it, no…but I would say I’ve learned to not hate it 😉 I don’t know what possessed me to get the salad, honestly – SO weird for me – but I liked it! I’m getting better about leafy greens.

      LA has so many vegan places that it’s hard to decide where to go!

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