A Ballerina Abroad: Days 6 & 7 of our Hip and Healthy Guide to LA

words by Saskia Gregson-Williams

Day 6

Today we decided to go try out breakfast at Cafe Gratitude. I’ve never had breakfast there before, so was very excited to try it out. I ordered the ‘I AM FREE’ chia seed porridge with lucuma, maca, hempseed milk ,goji berries and blueberries. One of my favourite ingredients to use when I cook at home are chia seeds. Knowing their wonderful nutritional value it was no surprise that this breakfast bowl jumped out at me. Forgetting it is a (for the most part) a raw food cafe I was expecting the porridge to be piping hot, so my face when i tasted the cold tapioca like chia pot was a sight to behold! This breakfast is definitely like marmite, love it or hate it… But try to love it because it’s just so darn good for you. I also ordered the ‘I am Grace’ smoothie with coconut milk, almond butter, vanilla bean and dates. There was nothing at all marmite like about this, heaven in a glass. Other breakfast options include the ‘I AM FANTASTIC’ a live cashew crepe with coconut yoghurt, pecans and fresh seasonal fruit. A choice for next time.

After breakfast we went back to my dads studio in Santa monica. My dads a film composer, which is why I initially moved to LA and the reason I revisit regularly. We listened to a few cues of music, and hung out at the studio until midday. We then headed over to Aveda on Montana to visit the lovely girls there and check out the wonderful natural products in store. This kooky looking salon from the outside is a great place to get a guaranteed good hair cut or blow dry before an evening out.

In the evening we had tickets and backstage passes to Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler at the Hollywood bowl. As we were meeting friends we thought it would be nice to have a picnic before, so off we went to get lots of bits and pieces! First to Wholefoods: Salty cashews and almonds, sweet potato and lime tortilla chips and lots of salsa. Then to Planet Raw. We ordered all four ‘sushi’ plates on the menu to go. My favourite is the Godzilla with avocado, kim chi, nut-cheeze, wild seaweed, mint, cilantro, pumpkin seed oil, coconut jerky and jalapeño. While we waited, to cool us down, we had ordered a creamy berry smoothie topped with crunchy nuts, goji berries, raisins and lots of yummy trimmings!

Back to the hotel to get ready to go to the Hollywood bowl. A car picked us up and took us into Hollywood around 4:30 with awful Friday traffic so it took around two hours. Once there our friends joined us and we tucked into the picnic nibbles and champagne outside the bowl.

The bowl has the capacity to sit just under 18,000 people, being the largest amphitheater in the US. Box seats up front and rows and rows of bleachers going back. First to perform was Mark Knopfler of Dire Straights. Knofler is an incredible guitarist and the band used to be very rock and roll but the music has a more Celtic vibe to it now. They were great, put everyone in a good mood and finished their gig with a loud encore. After resetting the stage, it was time for Bob Dylan. I was not as familiar with his music but I am aware he is a legend in the industry and has had a roller-coaster of a life. He played for an hour and a half and the crowd loved it. Luckily it was a nice evening to be outside, as normally blankets can be requires late at night

On the way back to drinks with the band at their hotel in Santa Monica we stopped back at Planet Raw to get a superfood chocolate shake with cashew cream and homemade house trail mix to top. How very rock and roll of us…

Day 7

After starting the day at Le Pain Quotidien we went back to the hotel to greet a very poorly father. After having been ill all through the night, he couldn’t so much as get out of bed. Off to Wholefoods we ventured to get some bits and pieces to help his stomach. Lots of coconut water (my favourite rehydrating beverage, with more potassium than a banana) some organic plain salted crackers, grapes, bananas and some sparkling lemon and lime water.

I then went to Venice to visit my old ballet teacher Yuri Grigoriev. I was only seven when I moved out to the US and had only been doing small dance classes in a village hall. When we found Yuri I was absolutely terrified by the classes, the style was so different (Russian) he only spoke a few words of English and I was dancing alongside girls double my age. A tad overwhelming! But I was determined and stuck with it. Yuri taught me how much I love to dance by discipline, correction and hard work. I loved it and from that age I knew it was for me. It’s so lovely to be able to come back now and visit the studio and watch Yuri teach, since I’ve left nothing’s really changed.

I was there until two-o’clock, ravenous I went to the Seed Kitchen on Pacific Avenue in Venice. I ordered a coconut water and a Caesar Salad with cashew parmesan, croutons and a pumpkin seed vinaigrette to go. Seed is located really near Venice Beach so a good place to walk to if your walking, rollerblading or sunbathing in that area. I took it all down to the beach to enjoy with some friends.

In the evening we went out to Hillstones in Santa Monica. A diverse menu, catering for the meat eater with delicious veggie options too. I ordered the Veggie Burger with a side order of the pearl barley salad. Truly delicious, the best American cuisine near third street. But it’s very busy which can have you waiting hours for a table so go early or book in advance.

We then walked a block down to the AMC 7 theatre on 3rd street to watch The Perks Of Being a Wallflower. Such a brilliant film, so well acted and absolutely hilarious. Was surprised by what a wide audience this film caters for, definitely not just a teen flick. After two hours of laughing, crying and being thoroughly entertained we walked up to the Real Food Daily a few blocks away for dessert. We took it to go as we wanted to get back to the hotel. We ordered rice milk hot chocolates a raw blueberry cheesecake and an oatmeal cookie. Thumbs up for all. The cookie was warm and gooey, an amazing dunker for the hot cacao and the blueberry cheesecake was lovely and creamy. Hard to believe these deserts were all sugar-free and vegan. What a great Saturday night.