At the end of February I took my first trip to Los Angeles, to visit my cousins for a week. I did lots of yoga, went hiking, saw a not-so-hilarious improv show, played with puppies, and wandered around Santa Monica. I also ate lots of awesome food, like spinach and corn tamales from Hugo’s Tacos, a lemon bar from Big Sugar Bakeshop, an insanely fresh egg salad sandwich with avocado at The Trails in Griffith Park, and a huge veggie plate at Border Grill.
My most memorable meal, though, came from Madeleine Bistro, a fancy vegan place in Tarzana (run by Chef Dave Anderson) where I ate with my cousin, my yoga teacher and her daughters. I didn’t actually have a choice in what I was ordering — the girls just told me, “OK, you’re getting the beet tartare and the bigger mac.” The bigger mac is like a vegan version of a McDonald’s Big Mac, and it was awesome, but the beet tartare was gorgeous and something totally different (beats over a tofu “cheese crouton” with cucumbers, some kind of sauce and a balsamic).
This dish is inspired by that (a photo of the real thing at the bottom of the post — mine pales in comparison, but I am not a chef so I guess that’s OK! I also wasn’t trying to recreate exactly the same thing…), and also the other foods I ate on my trip: perfectly-ripe avocado, alfalfa sprouts, tangelos, and blood orange balsamic vinegar (the latter two I brought back to Brooklyn with me). And it’s vegan because hoooly smokes were there a lot of veggie/vegan restaurants there! (Not a complaint.) Anyway, I need to make this again and make it better because it’s not totally amazing, but it was yummy.
I spent a lot of time driving around with my cousin, which meant plenty of time to share music. These are some songs that were significant to my trip for various reasons — some are obvious/cliché California jams, some are songs my cousin and I both love, and others just found themselves running around my head while I was there.
A note on this: I definitely think it needed some kind of crunch, so I recommend eating this with something like pita chips.
Three small beets, roasted and peeled
Slices of tangelo (or orange, clementine, or some other citrus)
• Roast the beets wrapped in foil at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until soft. Run under cold water and peel off the skin (you can do this with your hands while they’re still warm). Slice off the rough ends and pulse in food processor until it looks like this (it won’t take long):
• Scoop the avocado into a bowl and mash with a bit of salt and a few squeezes of lemon juice (to taste).
• Shape half the avocado into a patty — I used a small frosting spatula.
• Do the same with the beets, on top of the avocado.
• Add alfalfa sprouts, salt and a drizzle of balsamic.
• Pour a little bit of olive oil on the plate and drizzle balsamic over it (I know, mine looks kind of awful…). Garnish the plate with the citrus slices; you can squeeze the juice onto the dish or just eat them on their own.