Vegan's Chronicles + [Vegan]

Back in Korea! Miss me much?

Probably the worst bit about a vacation is the part where it ends and you eventually have to return to reality and the daily grind. I landed in Korea on Tuesday night and by 6:30AM the next morning, I was back on the job, editing essays and catching up on work email. It was as if I hadn't even left. Needless to say, having almost 3 weeks off of work and then trying to get back into the flow of things mentally has been a bit of a challenge. hehe. I can't seem to sit still for more than 30 minutes and memories of my trip keep distracting me! Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be back to the dear and familiar, but I also miss my vacation! And the fact that Korea is covered in freezing, bone-chilling snow doesn't help much either. It makes me appreciate the slightly warmer temps of So-Cal, so much more.

I went from this:

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To this:

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Brrrr!

Anyway, these past few days have been a bit of a blur. So far, I haven't had time to unpack, clean my room, cook, or even blog, which isn't such a great way to end this year or start a new one! The anal, neurotic side of me likes to have everything in order, process all the events/accomplishments of the past year, and make a fresh list of goals before the new year, but it seems that I'll be a little behind on that this time. But believe me, I shall get to it! :)

Well, today is Friday morning, the very last day of 2010, and I finally have some time to blog about my flight back. Due to inclement weather, delays, and redirected planes, many connecting passengers couldn't make our flight, so the plane to Incheon was half empty! Infact, I was the only one on my side of the row, so I got 3 seats all to myself to lie down and stretch out my short legs. :) T'was grand. I spent most of the flight reading books, magazines, and writing in my journal. Oh, and eating.

But before I get to the inflight meals, let's backtrack a bit. A few days before my flight, I called the United Customer service center to request my vegan meal. Getting through to the right call-center department which handles the special meal requests was confusing and frustrating enough, but then once I got through to the right agent, I had to explain what I meant by "vegan," and then they said that they didn't have that option! Wahttt... . The agent said that they had several different vegetarian options (one with eggs/dairy, one with seafood, one without eggs but with dairy... . ). I was confused because their website says they have vegan options, and I also had good vegan meals on my previous flights, so I assumed that they would have that option for the Korea-bound flight too. I probably should've tried calling back to get a different (and perhaps more competent) agent, but at that point, I didn't want to waste more time on the phone, so I just agreed to get the vegetarian option with dairy (no eggs or meat).

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Here was my first meal. I was worried that the entree part would have milk in it, but I'm pretty sure that it was vegan, and that the dairy was relegated to the pre-pacakged, processed items.

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The non-vegan intruders. Raspberry shortbread, butter spread, and balsamic vinaigrette.

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The entree consisted of fluffy yellow cous-cous, curried chick peas, and some kind of eggplant stew, all of which were quite tasty. The salad on the other hand was totally unispired and bland, especially since I didn't add any of the non-vegan salad dressing.

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Then a few hours later, the flight attendants went around handing out mid-flight snacks. While the omnis got cup-ramen, I got another package of shortbread cookies, and a pita bread sandwich filled with broken rice and lettuce. It was... pretty bad. There was zero flavoring or spices (literally, just rice and lettuce), and the greens were brown and wilty. I wasn't even sure if the pita bread was vegan, so I just had a few bites of the inside filling and left the rest.

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Instead, I opted to snack on a Lemon Zest Luna Bar! :)

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So then about an hour before we landed in Incheon, they brought the cabin lights back on and served breakfast/dinner (depending on which timezone you're in). This was actually pretty good.

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The entree consisted of a savory dish of wheat berries and barley rice mixed with corn, onions, green bell peppers, and peas (on the very left), and then a sweeter oatmeal-like dish in the middle (I'm not totally sure what kind of grain that was, but I think it was just broken wheat berries), and cooked apples, pineapple, and dried apricots on the other end. Everything was really comforting and the use of whole grains made it quite healthy!

In the end, although there were some non-vegan items on my meal trays, the vegan entrees were better than expected. I was glad to see that none of the food was disgustingly greasy like I've experienced in the past. Honestly, I was too busy enjoying all the extra sprawl-out space to be too concerned about the food. I was livin' it up, as if I were in 1st class. haha.

So now it's back to my vegan life in Korea! Thank you to all you readers who stuck around while I blogged about non-Korea-related food & life, and for coming along with me for the ride. LA is an awesome destination for vegans and I highly recommend it! In remembrance of the amazing vegan adventure that was, here are the most memorable eats from my trip:

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Earth Cafe's Strawberry Fields Forever cheesecake. Oh, how I miss thee~

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First Ethiopian meal at Nyala! A delicious success.

San Diego 2010

The peanut butter cookie from Whole Foods. This single-handedly reignited my love for this classic, childhood treat.

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The Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger from Native Foods Cafe. From now on, I shall measure all vegan burgers against this one.

Flore Cafe @ Silverlake

My first vegan reuben sandwich at Flore. So astronomically good that I might drive myself crazy wishing I could get it here in Korea.

Inteligensia Cafe @ Silverlake

Chocolate croissant from Flore, and a soy latte from Intelligentsia. 'Nuff said.

Hoa Sen

And last but not least, the meal that I enjoyed so much that I made sure to have one last time before I left: the pho noodles at Hoa Sen. The broth was to-die for, the noodles were nice and filling, the soy chickin' was actually enjoyable, the service was quick and kind, and everything for the unbeatable price of less than $6. I think I'm going through vegan pho-withdrawals right now. *droooool*~!!!