Monday, February 25, 2013

St. Helena's Finest

The food and wine culture is one of decadence and indulgence and, for whatever stupid reasons, that often means a whole lotta meat and cheese.  Therefore, it can be a bit of a challenge to find good vegan food in wine country.  Having spent more than my fair share of time in the Napa and Sonoma valleys, I know all the best spots... or so I thought.  Last weekend we stayed exclusively in St. Helena and I tried two new-to-me places with vegan offerings to beat the band - like these tacos!

At La Condessa, these "acelgas" tacos come packed with greens and bursting with flavor.   They are inherently vegan (no queso here) for easy ordering and go great with the house guacamole and salsas.  But wait, there's more:

This "mixta" salad was my favorite order of the weekend.  Topping a base of arugula and cabbage are green beans, jicama, avocado, corn, and much more.  It all gets dressed in a scrumptious mustard vinaigrette and gets in your mouth like whoa.  So tasty!  The perfect side?  Fried plantains with salsa verde.  Sweet and savory and great for soaking up some wine.  :)

This heirloom beet salad is not exactly what you might expect to find at a Himalayan restaurant, but this starter is just one of the delicious vegan offerings at Himalayan Sherpa Kitchen.  Beautiful beets, organic greens, baby carrots... what more could you ask for?  And the best part is that you can follow it with any number of traditional offerings, like this Alu Cauli Kerau.  It's the best of Californian and Nepalese cuisine in one place:

Much like an Indian Aloo Gobi, this mouthwatering dish of potatoes, cauliflower, and green peas comes smothered in a savory tomato sauce and served with your choice of rice (I went with the steamed brown variety) or roti.  It is soul warming on a cold day and quite a nice partner to a crisp white wine, I might add.

I hope to continue finding new vegan-friendly places in wine country since, lord knows, I love visiting up there, but I already know that future visits will include trips to these two winners.  Enjoy your week, everyone, and stay tuned for a new SF restaurant visit!

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