No Murders In The Rue Morgue


To Palm Springs and Back!

I don’t know shit about film noir, but nevertheless, I accompanied my husband to his home town of Palm Springs this past weekend to take in some noir films and hang out with his family. I’d never been to the desert and didn’t know what to expect, but I had a great time and ate some awesome food on the way.

Our first stop once we hit the road was L.A. Mike lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years before coming to his senses and moving back to San Francisco. For a number of reasons, I had kind of a grudge against L.A. and wasn’t entirely stoked to be stopping there. Sure, I’d heard good things about some restaurants, but I’d always felt like it was a shallow, expensive, mean-spirited place. I am happy to report that I’m a total idiot and that I really liked what little I saw of L.A. on this trip. First up, Pure Luck.

Pure Luck is an all-vegan restaurant that serves lots of good beer, tacos, and some awesome-looking appetizers and salads. I’d heard nothing but good things about their jackfruit “carnitas” tacos, so I ordered one of those and a “fish” taco to go with it. I was worried about having to pee during the rest of our drive, so I abstained from beer and instead had a gigantic glass of house-made lemonade, which was a good call. The jackfruit definitely didn’t disappoint- the jackfruit mixture was perfectly seasoned and with just enough of a kick to be tasty but not so much spice that the flavour of the jackfruit was overpowered. It was the fish taco that was the real winner, however. The “fish” was a kind of fishy patty, grilled up and served in two corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, salsa fresca, and a kind of sour cream-ish tartar-ish sauce. With my mouth full, I described it as perfect, and I will be actively plotting my return to L.A. if for no other reason than to eat another couple thousand fish tacos from Pure Luck.

Right across from Pure Luck is one of L.A.’s vegan-friendly ice cream parlours, Scoops.

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Scoops, I hear, is the brainchild of owner and chief ice cream maker, Tai Kim. Scoops has gotten a bit of bad vegan press in the past for carrying foie gras ice cream (gross! Also, inexcusable, though I don’t know if I necessarily think foie gras is worse than, oh, dairy or any other kind of meat, but I’ll not ruin everyone’s food boner with that), but they have since mended their ways. All their ice cream (vegan and non) is made in house and flavours are often produced based on customer requests (evidently, this is how the foie gras variety came about – I hear that when Kim was approached about it by vegan customers, he felt bad and stopped making it right away). I don’ know what genius came up with the idea for banana oreo vegan ice cream, but whoever you are, I thank you! I don’t normally go in for banana-flavoured anything, but this stuff was perfect. Creamy, banany, a bit crunchy from the oreo pieces, and generally awesome and a perfect treat.

From Scoops (oh, which is RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from Pure Luck – can we say synchronicity?), we hit the road to Palm Springs with full bellies and drank gin and tonics while watching The Garment Jungle, which I highly recommend.

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The next day, we hit up Palm Springs’ vegan mainstay, Native Foods. My husband, who’s been vegan for almost 9 years and vegetarian for at least 11 before that, is a Native Foods devotee and was excited to take me there for the first time. We sat on the patio (which, amusingly, has fans! An outdoor patio with fans! Palm Springs is crazy!) and shared some Save The Chicken Fingers. These weren’t what I was expecting. The “chicken” is Chef Tanya’s (Native Foods’ founder and chief chef)  own creation and uses soy, gluten, and pea protein (incidentally, this stuff is also used by Gardein, the company that makes awesome fake chicken that isn’t yet widely available in the US, though is used in some of the new Trader Joe’s “chicken” products…). They weren’t spicy but instead were hot, battered oblongs of pure deliciousness served with ranch sauce. On the recommendation of Mike, I ordered the Baja Surf Tacos for lunch and was not disappointed. Two tacos stuffed full with shredded cabbage, salsa, “surfer sauce,” and battered, house-made tempeh with a generous dollop of bright green, perfect guacamole on top. I inhaled my first one and then was too full for my second, which I saved and shoved in my face later. My only beef with NF was that they aren’t open on Sundays, so I’m going to have to wait until my next visit to the desert (months!) for another helping.

After taking in Desert Fury and Riff Raff (both recommended, though Desert Fury was my favorite), we disappointedly hit up Del Taco for a couple of gross/good green burritos with no cheese (Mike lived on these as a teenager and young dude) and hit the sack because Palm Springs is HOT and TIRING.

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After saying our goodbyes the next day, we drove back to L.A. and hit up Follow Your Heart. FYH, many vegans are aware, are makers of vegan cheeses and other dairy-replacement products. What you may not be aware of is that they also operate a natural foods market (stuffed full of, among other things, FYH products that aren’t widely available anywhere else) and a cafe. Mike had a reuben and grabbed a pre-made club sandwich to go, and I had the “chicken” sandwich. I normally hate sauerkraut and haven’t had thousand island dressing since I was a kid (and hated it then!), but the reuben was awesome. I mean, it was super gross because it was full of sauerkraut and thousand island, but in a really delicious way. My sandwich was full of fake chicken, grilled onions, tomato, lettuce, fake cheese, and thousand island (my new favorite sandwich dressing). We also grabbed a small container of the smoky “chicken” pasta salad, which contained about 8,000 calories according to the container, but was tasty and awesome.

All in all, the trip was a delicious success, and I can’t wait to get back to SoCal for some more food!

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