My fellow vegans… do you feel envious when your friends choose any item they want off of any menu at any restaurant in town? Do you watch with longing as your dairy eating family members indulge at Coldstone Creamery on a whim?
If you’re anything like me, you’re tired of having to stuff Tofutti Cuties in your face like a dirty sneak in the glare of the freezer light, when really all you want is to recreate those amazing summer evenings of your childhood when your parents would pile the kids in the car & take you out for Keith’s Frozen Custard by the airport. (ask your Rochester, NY friends about that one…) I have been missing that freedom for the 4 years since dropping dairy: I just want to “go out for ice cream” like everyone else.
Almost daily, I drive past Marie et Cie on the corner of Colfax & Riverside in Studio City and wonder what exactly happens at this “home furnishings, gifts & coffee house”? Curiously, a few months ago, the marquis touted “new vegan gelato!” and I could hardly control myself. The parking lot, though, is fenced & walled. Claustrophobia is enough to keep me away from any establishment especially when I’m going to be expected to drive a car in such close quarters. Some of you may already know my luck with driving in cramped spaces (see textbook “Lisa: a Driving History” June 1993), so you can understand why, even with the promise of vegan gelato, I hesitated to drive in that car cage.
The allure of “vegan gelato” has almost been too much for me to stand, though. Friand & I spent the last 6 months trying to trim down for our wedding, and I know that the path to chubby-Lisa is paved in frozen treats so I have been avoiding all desserts. But a chocoholic/ice cream fiend can only go so long before her darkest desires take over her every thought, and knowing this, I decided that it was time to visit Marie et Cie. Close enough to our house to walk, I grabbed my son and we hit the sidewalk. My son is one of the finickiest eaters that has ever lived on this planet, so even though I said “gelato is like ice cream but better” the very alien name “gelato” itself was almost too much for him to bear. He declared that he wasn’t eating any of this weird “gelato” but would be getting a latte instead.
Of course, he changed his tune the second we walked into the cafe! He was drawn to the case of gelato like a moth to a flame and promptly asked the girl behind the counter for a sample of the “chocolate crunch swirl”and ordered himself a cone. I proved, yet again, that some vegans can be totally high maintenance without pressuring or bullying the poor server, as I asked her which of the 4 vegan flavors featured today was her favorite. The flavors were: razzberry, cafe no-latte, Madagascar vanilla and chocolate raspberry truffle. She told me her favorite was the razzberry: I should’ve known better than to ask because I really have never liked fruit flavored ice cream (vegan or dairy) so now I was faced with the prospect of having to be totally honest & say, “It looks rich & delicious, but I really don’t think I’m in the mood for that one…” Instead, she gave me a sample of the coffee, but I didn’t particularly like it. It has a sort of bitter or maybe alcohol tinge to it. She said that their regular coffee gelato wasn’t very popular, either. I liked her honesty!
I “settled” for one scoop of the chocolate raspberry truffle, although I could have easily just asked her to hand me the entire tray and eaten it without batting an eyelash… How to describe this gelato? It was rich, creamy, and yes, quite like the texture of actual gelato. There were chocolate chips, which I appreciated, but the flavor of the chocolate gelato was rich, dark and full of that visceral cocoa texture. I made that one scoop last as long as I possibly could – taking teeny tiny spoonfuls, nibbling and savoring every molecule.
My son & I have a Saturday tradition of taking lunch together, and for the last 6 months we have been going to Hugo’s. Today, we did not, we went to Marie et Cie. There were several vegetarian/vegan food options in the bakery case as well, a vegetarian curry wrap caught my eye… so maybe next time, we’ll eat lunch THEN indulge in gelato!
My son called the cafe “Marie at Sea” which now means that no matter how many times I’m told the correct pronunciation, I will always say it his way. The same way that I have been getting “mosquipo bites” thanks to him.
I not only recommend the fantastic vegan gelato at Marie et Cie, but also offer the invitation that if anyone is going to be there, please let me know! I’ll walk over & say hello!!
Marie et Cie.
11704 Riverside Drive
Valley Village, CA 91607