Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The on-set life just got a little tastier thanks to C'est La V

I thought our crafty guy last season was awesome, what with him always making sure there were vegan options out for me, but that was before I met the greatest craft service dude in all the land. At the beginning of the season I mentioned to our brand spanking new crafty guy, Joey, that I was vegan and asked if would he mind setting aside some salad without cheese on it or getting a couple sandwiches sans meat and dairy when he ordered food. Instead of just agreeing, Joey lit up and started asking me to bring in my favorite vegan recipes for his kitchen to make and asking for brand names of my favorite vegan goodies. Not only was he up for the challenge but he was totally pumped about it.

I've mentioned before how the rule in film/t.v. production is that a "snack" must be provided 3 hours after breakfast and how the snack is really less of a snack and more of a full blown smorgasborg. Well, every day, three hours after call time, Joey has been hand delivering a delicious vegan meal to me and my pescatarian boss. One day we'll have an awesome pasta primavera, another day it will be lentils and rice then tomorrow he'll bring us a mexican feast with some KILLER spanish rice and grilled tofu. This alone makes me a very happy lass, but wait, it gets better...

Joey went out and made a deal with C'est La V, one of L.A.'s tastiest vegan bakeries run by the former vegan baker at the now closed Leda's Bakeshop, to get a regular delivery of an amazing array of baked goods every week. Here is Joey this very morning dropping off an awesome C'est La V platter.

This particular tray had the banana tea loaf which I hadn't tried yet, and it did not disappoint. Moist and not overly sweet, the delicate flavor impressed all the non-vegans in the office. Of all the C'est La V goodies I've had though, my favorites are these: (from left to right) snickerdoodles, kourabiedes, and chocolate crackles.

The snickerdoodles are pretty straightforward but it is remarkable how soft and chewy all these little cookie bites are and I am a total sucker for anything cinnamon. The kourabiedes are a Greek version of mexican wedding cookies and they are out of this world. I normally find Mexican wedding cookies to be totally dry and boring and not worth the calories, but these babies are so soft and buttery they just melt in your mouth and are worth every gram of fat. I normally also don't like chocolate cookies but the chocolate crackles have won me over with their insanely fudgy, brownie-like texture.

Somedays, Joey will bring this assortment of scones, biscotti, and chocolate chip cookies:

The chocolate chip cookies are as outstanding as the others. The only problem is that they are so cute and tiny that I convince myself that eating 900 of them at one time is a-okay. If you are on any sort of diet, stay away! I usually have a major aversion to biscotti (it's just like a stale cookie to me) so it really says something when even I thought they were tasty.

The scones are one of C'est La V's standouts. They are so incredibly buttery and flaky, they have quickly become my boss' fave. The two flavors we've had are golden raisin and cranberry orange. The cranberries in the latter add the perfect tanginess to balance the sweetness of the scone. In fact, literally as I was typing this our wardrobe assistant came running in asking who made the scones in the break room. When I told her they were vegan she was in total disbelief.

C'est La V's baked goods really are indistinguishable from non-vegan stuff and I have many omni coworkers who would agree. I can't wait to try their other stuff--they've still got a whole menu of cupcakes, muffins, bars, and rugelach I've got work my way through! Unfortunately the bakery does not have a shop but you can get your orders in 48 hours through the website.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Now Tweeting

I've finally taken the plunge and joined the twitterverse.  There's nothing exciting there yet--I still don't exactly get how it works.  But be my twitter friend.  Is that even what it's called?!  


The Biggest Loser loses.

The Biggest Loser is really getting on my last nerve.  The product placement and questionable nutrition advice is getting completely out of control.

The BL has always been one giant commercial for various processed foods and 24 hour fitness but each season the segues from actual content into advertising has become increasingly ridiculous.  Last week I was horrified when trainer Bob excited his team with an advanced copy of the Marley and Me DVD.  He then used that little mention as an excuse to talk about how to not eat popcorn when you go to the movies.  It was just the most nonsensical, blatant product placement in the history of television. At least the other product placement is somewhat related to health.  It doesn't help that this season, the show has expanded to a two hour format.  When you spend 2 of your 4 precious hours between getting from from work and going to bed watching a show, it would be nice if 40% of it wasn't hidden advertisements.   

The show has always been a big fan of totally processed, chemically enhanced food but I am increasingly finding it too much to take when every episode contestants are opting to chew Extra sugar-free (and chemical-full) gum instead of having say, an apple, for a snack.  I also cringe at the point in every episode when the contestants are heading to Subway, having challenges in a Subway, or (my personal favorite from last night's episode), gathering up their Subway packaging for the trash as they head to the gym.  Hope you enjoyed that 300 calorie sandwich and its antibiotic-filled processed meat!

It's a good thing I watched last night's episode alone because there was one segment that made me want to get up and punch someone in the face.  In this particularly irritating bit, trainer Jillian extols the benefits of drinking milk to contestant Helen.  She then recommends drinking at least 3 glasses of milk a day.  I cannot imagine any educated nutritionist recommending anyone drink three glasses of milk a day--especially someone who is trying to lose wait.  Ok wait a minute, I take that back.  This is the good ole U.S. of A where we are indoctrinated with milk propaganda from birth, so there are definitely a number of health professionals who choose to ignore the massive amount of scientific evidence pointing to milk's many adverse health effects.  But it just seems like such a huge disservice, if not an injustice, to have the dairy lobby buying air time to sneak crazy unproven "factoids" about milk to The Biggest Loser's 10.2 million viewers. 

But here's the kicker.  Having started my career in reality t.v., I know a number of people that currently work on or have worked on The Biggest Loser and it just so happens that Jillian Michaels is vegan.  Now Jillian is a big animal lover so maybe she couldn't care less about the nutritional aspects of veganism and is only in it for anti-cruelty reasons, but it still sent me into a blind rage seeing her sitting there talking about milk like its the Mother Teresa of beverages when she won't go near the stuff herself.  As if her carnie based diet books weren't hypocritical enough.  

Sigh.  I am already completely immersed in the plot twists and turns of Season 7 (I know I wasn't the only one sobbing hysterically when Mikey's brother broke down after seeing his newly fit family!) so I would be lying if I said I was going to start boycotting the show.  But I might not start watching the next season.  The Biggest Loser might help inspire people to lose weight but that doesn't necessarily mean they are helping them be healthy and it's getting too damn frustrating to watch.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Samosa House! I want to have like 10,000 of your babies!

If I dreamt up my idea of a perfect Indian restaurant it would be exactly like Samosa House. The prices are reasonable, the food is outstanding, the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, the atmosphere is warm and sunny, and there is not an ounce of meat in the whole damn place! The concept basically takes the idea behind India Sweets and Spices--a buffet-style spread with an accompanying grocery store--and makes it good. Whereas Sweets and Spices tend to be dingy and extremely unwelcoming, Samosa House is just the opposite. Let's start off by talking about the signature dish, the samosa!

These samosas are completely vegan which is a rare find as most samosas use dairy in the dough. When you dip a corner of the perfectly flaky crust into one of the accompanying sauces (cilantro or tamarind) you get a one heavenly bite. At $1.50 a pop these are a great deal--I know because I recently tried to get a bunch of samosas in the valley for a Slumdog Millionaire themed Academy Award party and it was too pricey for this gal's tight budget!

Onto the main shebang...Samosa House offers ten different entrees that rotate throughout the week. I think the best way to go is to order a combo plate. For $7.99 you get your choice of 3 sides with raita, rice, and two pieces of flat bread (which is really like an Indian tortilla). But wait, you are vegan and you don't eat the yogurt-based raita! No problem, the kind people at Samosa House will let you have a fourth choice of entree instead!

In my experience, out of the ten entree choices usually six to eight of them are completely vegan. All the staff members know exactly what each dish contains so you don't have to worry about accidentally chowing down a plate full of ghee. On a recent visit I got this small feast of (clockwise from upper right corner) cauliflower curry, jackfruit, grilled eggplant, and potato curry. All of it was ab-fab.

Samosa House's jack fruit is the same delectable texture as the jack fruit at Pure Luck. It is delicately seasoned and has quickly become a major favorite at our office. So much so that when we order lunch from there we always get one box filled only with it.

If I'm not very specific about the details of each dish, it's because I don't really pay attention. When I go into Samosa House I just point at the four things that look the most scrumptious and I have yet to find a single dish that doesn't completely hit the spot. On one occasion they had this crazy good soy crumble dish (seen below in the upper right corner.) I couldn't really pin point any specific flavors but whatever was in it made one awesome little dish. Also seen below are a lentil dal and some chana masala. I just drooled on my petty cash envelope thinking about those crumbles.

In addition to all this good food, Samosa House also offers your usual array of lassis and a case full of Indian sweets. They also sell a pretty big variety of imported candy like Bounty bars and my favorite-pre-vegan-candy-in-the-whole world: Kinder Buenos. When you're done stuffing your face you should do some shopping in the market for jars of lime pickle or extremely cheap spices. And look out for me because I can't seem to stay away!

Samosa House
11510 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066