The American Wilderness
Are you ready for it?…
The United States of America is gorgeous. From shore to shore, the spectrum and range of natural beauty is astounding. This many say (or sing), but such things are more effective when felt, sharp-like, when one is inside (or atop) it, gazing and love-filled that there is still wild out there. That 5 minutes from the Los Angeles sprawl lays 53 miles of rugged hills and mountains. And, today, on the very top of the highest peak of Griffith Park, me, on our hike to the top of Mt. Hollywood.
We made it to the top of Mt. Hollywood via Beechwood Trail. A glorious view behind the sign.
Afterwards, it was time to gather my things and head to lunch in Venice Beach at Plant Food + Wine. As a long time vegan, I’ve been reporting on Matthew Kenney’s food since Pure Food & Wine, the New York City he opened with then-partner Sarma Melngailis. When he strayed from that partnership, I tasted his eats again in Oklahoma City at his now-defunct culinary school and restaurant 105 Degrees. Then, his recent return to New York City and his upscale pizza and nut cheeses at 00+Co. Now, at Plant Food + Wine, a kind of burn to the now defaced Pure Food + Wine, at his new culinary training program, I bask in the California sun and relish every bite, sure that he has proved himself a plant-based master with tremendous credibility.
Wanted a bit of a traditional sandwich, I opted for a roasted tomato and cheddar sandwich on warm, rosemary covered, delightfully oil-oozing Focaccia bread with an avocado aioli and delectably dressed greens. The sandwich was magic after a long morning of hiking. I ate it quickly knowing I needed to get back to LAX to fly north, knowing I also needed dessert, knowing I might get a ticket on my car. Parking the vehicle was a fog.
My basil lemonade.
Service in Los Angeles is always so pleasant. My waitress described each dessert one by one, though I already knew that I was destined to order the Banana Split. It’s a rule I have. If it’s offered I must get it. A modern renditions of this traditional favorite, this banana split was like no other. Three canoes of creamy, not so melty, flavor-packed, richly decadent vegan ices creams. Vanilla hemp was perfection and practically polka dotted through and through with real vanilla beans. The chocolate maca was thick like a gelato, not overpowering and contrasted with the plate-painted hot fudge intensity. The strawberry goji was alive with real berry flavor, boosted more so by the second plate-painted sauce, a strawberry one. These three ice creams were spectacular, new number ones in their field: the best vegan ice cream I’ve ever tasted.
Where’s the banana, you ask? The playfully-placed dehydrated thin banana chips were more than enough to merit this a banana split. Would have this benefitted from an additions of some sort of cream? Maybe. But maybe not. Well worth the $14 (ack!).
It was another wonderful day in California. But it’s time to move onward and upward, briefly. I’ll be back in a few days, Los Angeles.