Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Interruption

I know I'm supposed to be blogging about my east coast food experiences, but I had to take a minute and tell you about the meal I had last night at DOSA. The new location on Fillmore is within walking distance, and is absolutely gorgeous. Built green, and more committed to environmentalism than ever, this second incarnation of an already favorite restaurant is just sublime. It's huge, but inviting, and serves up the same delicious menu as its Valencia sister. My meal last night goes in the books as one of the best vegan meals you can eat in this city, hands down. I recommend all people (vegans and others alike) do exactly this:

*Start with the mango and greens salad without the goat cheese. Best salad ever. No exaggeration.
*Move onto the Masala Dosa, done vegan style (without ghee). The spicy rasam and cool coconut chutney are the perfect compliment to the savory and creamy dosa.
*Finish with the deep chocolate sorbet. Nobody would ever think this show-stopper was vegan.
*All of this should be accompanied by a glass or two of the Sula Chenin Blanc.

You will thank me later.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day One, Part Two

After a bit of a breather, we trekked back out into the night for what proved to be the best meal of the trip. The Blue Note was our final destination and we wanted to eat somewhere in close proximity. Luckily, only 3 blocks (and a culinary world) away was Gobo. After hearing rave reviews from every person I know who's eaten there, I finally caved. It's so easy for me to go back to favorites like Caravan of Dreams or Counter when I'm in New York, but I couldn't be happier to have ventured outside my eating bubble. Gobo was outstanding.

It was a chilly night, but the atmosphere inside was warm and inviting. Servers were friendly and attentive, and the smells coming out of the open kitchen were making me salivate before I even sat down. Once I did, I was faced with the daunting task of choosing my meal from a very extensive menu. The husband and I wanted to try one of everything, but we didn't even come close. He started with the Won Ton soup which arrived piping hot and yummy as all get out. I, on the other hand, had a cool and refreshing salad of romaine, slivered almonds, and a slammin' dressing I can't remember too well. After that my Butternut Squash Risotto was warm and soul-satisfying. My husband, upon tasting it, seriously questioned its veganism, but everything in the whole place is animal-free - amazing, mind-blowing risotto included. Seriously, best risotto ever. And, as if that weren't enough, the hubby also ordered the yam and yucca fries. Oh yeah, we were in heaven.

With time to kill before the show, and a litle room still left in our esophagi, we ordered the gingerbread cookie with vanilla ice cream, spiced berry sauce, and candied ginger. I had been craving gingerbread for about a week (how else would I know it was Christmastime?) and this hit the spot and then some. I can still remember the warm berries, spicy ginger, and cool vanilla coming together in perfect harmony in my mouth. A wonderful end to a holiday meal. I highly recommend Gobo. With all these favorite restaurants of mine in NY, I'm going to have to start extending all my trips there just to eat! Ah, we should all be so blessed.

Day Two coming soon....

Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Eating Part One

It's been a while! The last week I was in SF I ended up getting a nasty cold which left me unable to go out to eat, let alone blog. So sad. On the other hand, it meant that when I arrived in NYC, I was healthy as all get out and ready for some chowing down. Today, I'm back in SF, a bit (okay, a LOT) jet-lagged, and ready to tell of my dining adventures. In keeping with my energy level, I'll do this in installments. Here's Day One:

First of all, Day One was supposed to be Day Two but since there was a huge snowstorm on the east coast, our flight got in hella late, and we missed out on dining at Pala with some friends. I love that the menu there has lots of vegan options, and I'll definitely make my way there on my next trip. With the real Day One being completely consumed by travel, Day One will now refer to our first whole day in New York. After a brief walk through the closest Whole Foods (my favorite go-to spot for quick yummy vegan food wherever you are), making sure to note that this particular location had an entirely vegan salad bar, we made our way to Teany.

Owned by Moby, this little gem is a beautiful play-on-words. Tea and NY come together to describe a very tiny restaurant that serves a ton of tea. Cute, eh? I had only ever popped in a to get one of their yummy vegan cupcakes, so I was really looking forward to going back for more substantial fare. Everything on the food menu sounded so good, and it was difficult to choose, but it had nothing on the tea menu. Pages upon pages of teas became too daunting for me to handle. I also have to really be in the mood for tea, and I wasn't.

That aside, I finally settled on the Chicken Salad Salad. This was the yummiest fake chicken salad I've ever had, and served atop a bed of greens with tomatoes and a rocking balsamic, it really hit the spot. I wish I had some more right now in fact. I also wish there was a Teany right next to my home in SF. It's such a cute little place and the food and people are both so good. I already know that next time I'm there, I'm having the English classic Beans on Toast, done vegan style of course. The girl next to me ordered it and it was all I could do not to ask for a bite.

Afterwards, we walked the 3 blocks to MooShoes and did some shopping. Highly recommended. There was a brief pause before dinner.... and that, my friends, is another entry altogether. Coming soon. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Il Fornaio

I enjoyed a lovely lunch yesterday with some friends from around the Bay Area. We decided on Il Fornaio in the Corte Madera Town Center because of its central location to all of us, and it was a good choice. Not only was it equidistant from our homes, it also had a warm, festive, and inviting atmosphere. It didn't hurt that they sat us by the fireplace where it was much quieter than the main dining room. It was the perfect setting to chat and linger over dishes that everyone could enjoy.

While others dined on chicken salads and the like, I dug into my Insalata Balsamico. That's greens with balsamic dressing for the non-Italians. It was nothing special, but tasty all the same. The star of the meal, however, was the soup. Clearly marked as vegan on the the menu, the minestrone is a hearty blend of veggies and beans. It took the chill out of my bones and filled me up. Next time I'm trying to find a place in Marin to take some others, Il Fornaio will be high up on the list. Put it on yours as well!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Because a Lady is Allowed to Change Her Mind

It was only recently that I spoke of my love of Yusef, but sometimes things change quite unexpectedly in life, and I now find myself completely smitten with a new suitor. He's smooth, rich.... and full of beneficial bacteria. That right folks, I'm talking probiotics. Those little bugs in your gut that help you digest food and keep you regular and all that. I'm a big fan. Personally, I pop a few of these bad boys daily, but finding more and more products with the added buggers warms my heart, not to mention my intestines. :) Enter Wildwood Probiotic Low Fat Classic Hummus.* I adore it. It is just as good as Yusef's, only all organic, and with the added cultures. You can't go wrong. I am especially pleased because I was never too fond of Wildwood's regular low fat hummus. Perhaps the probiotics make it creamier? Who cares! All I know is that it's good and good for you. Warm up a pita, open it up, insert globs of hummus, lettuce, tomato, salt and pepper. Ingest and digest. Vegans and others are sure to be pleased.
*Sorry for the Mollie Stone's link, but the Wildwood site isn't up and running yet.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just checking in

Man, is the holiday season in full swing or what? I've been feeling like there's no time to get everything done, let alone eat. I did manage to have a nice dinner out with friends this past weekend, but since we went to our old favorite, Roti, I deemed it unworthy for blogging. Normally I would be putting up some new favorites to pass the time, but even those are eluding me lately. There is one item I saw at Rainbow last week I want to try though: Teese nacho cheese. It comes in a scary red tube (see pic) but is supposedly yummy and has the consistency of Velveeta. As a big fan of nachos, I could see this coming in very handy. Has anyone out there tried it? I'm hesitant to be making nachos and other unhealthy items as the holidays approach and the eat-fest gets into full swing, but I may not be able to resist.

Anyway, I'm counting down the days until me and the hubster leave for New Jersey for some family time, but I've got a couple of new-to-me restaurant reservations in the meanwhile, so stay tuned.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Grand Pu Bah

Tucked away where SOMA meets Potrero Hill is this weird little enclave of design stores, and amidst them lies Grand Pu Bah. It would be easy to write this place off, with it's super hip ambiance (techno during dinner anyone?) and post-work clientelle, but honestly the food is really good, and that's all I need to bring me back. GPB seems to do a swift business with the yuppies in the surrounding offices, which makes sense considering they're one of the few restaurants in the area catering to such a crowd. They've got a nice big bar, as well as a pretty large number of tables, and the atmosphere is always laid back and fun.

Let's get onto the menu though, shall we? Fresh spring rolls are one of my most favorite things in the whole world, and they do right by theirs. However, as one looks beyond appetizers, things get a little daunting. The entrees are all pretty expensive (high teens, low twenties) and in today's economy, I, for one, ain't havin' it. The secret? Look to the "street food" section of the offerings. These puppies are secretly the size of entrees and half the price. Each item is a vegetable dish, most for $10, and then you add your meat (or not!) for varying prices. I got my sweet basil tofu for $10, but if you had wanted sweet basil chicken, let's say, it would have been $11. Sweet basil shrimp? $12. You get the idea. An economical way to eat really, really well. Extra point for being to make most anything sans fish sauce.

Only downside for me is that it can get pretty noisy when the place is packed. On the bright side, it tends to clear out around 8 on weeknights once the happy hour folks have headed home. The food makes up for the noise, though, and even if I have to talk a bit louder to be heard, I'll be back... and bringing plenty of "others" with me.

Friday, November 28, 2008


As someone who loves food, Thanksgiving is right up there on my list of favorite holidays. I'm still in a bit of a food coma - mainly because I just had an early dinner of leftovers - so I'm going to keep this short and just share the menu and some pictures. By the way, all the links are to the actual products I used.

I set the table (including some vegan chocolate turkey place holders) for our small gathering early and then started baking oatmeal chocolate chip banana cookies. When those were done, it was time to start getting the tofurky ready. I didn't make one last year, so I'm not sure when the basting liquid recommendation on the box changed, but the one they have now with the sage and soy sauce is so yummy! We started our meal with a fig, fennel, and pistachio salad in raspberry vinaigrette.
Honestly, it was awesome, and I could have been happy eating only that. But this is Thanksgiving of course, so also on the menu were mashed potatoes made with soy milk and earth balance, roasted brussel sprouts and carrots, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. And of course it all got a healthy dose of gravy.

For dessert, we had pumpkin pie a la mode with whipped cream. Oh, and of course those cookies we made earlier. Yum. It was a great day, and continues to be a great weekend. It's hard to believe, but I actually have dinner plans coming up, so I'll be back to the restaurant talk soon. The eating season is truly upon us. Enjoy... and be thankful. I know I am.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hooray Udupi!

I'm already in Thanksgiving mode, but I wanted to pop in real quick and tell you about the best authentic South Indian food in the city: Udupi Palace. I have to say authentic because I still love Dosa with all my heart, but let's face it, you're not finding a mixed green salad with walnuts, mango, and a cilantro vinaigrette on the streets of Chennai. Udupi, on the other hand, is the real deal. They have other locations - one in Berkeley and one in Sunnyvale - and the latter actually catered our wedding, but since we hate to drive (especially over the Bay Bridge) we rarely get to eat the good stuff. I was a little worried that they would have SF-ed it up (higher prices, fancier plates, etc.) but it's still the good old Udupi. Ok, the prices are maybe a little higher, but considering how much higher the rent must be, who can blame them? We still had 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, and 2 beers for $38. Can't beat it. The flavors are to die for - and there's no meat in site! The "others" don't seem to mind though because it's all so yummy. The memory of my rasam and masala dosa still linger on my palate. Alas, all that's left is this picture:

Have a wonderful Thanks"living" everyone. I'll be sure to post pictures of our vegan feast soon after. Oh, and if you're around San Francisco on Friday, come be a part of Fur Free Friday. See you there!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cafe Nook

Yesterday was a bright and sunny day and, shockingly enough, the husband and I had no plans. When we tired of laying around the house, we decided to get some grub. I always keep a "restaurants to try" list, and right at the top was a neighborhood place that seemed perfect for lunch: Cafe Nook. Now, it isn't quite in our neighborhood, but it's only a 20 minute walk away, so I'm going to let it count. Nook is over on Hyde Street in Russian Hill, which is an area of town I just adore. There are some restaurants and wine bars and the cable cars come through, giving it a real old school San Francisco charm. We entered the cafe right before the lunch rush, snagged a table, and settled in for some good grub. I ordered the mixed greens in balsamic dressing, and the portion of greens was huge. Perfect for me, since I love me some greens. I also got the hummus and olive tapenade plate, which was delicious. Here are pics of both:

They have a pretty good selection of sandwiches, one of which was vegan, and they also have vegan desserts (yesterday they had a cherry pie which looked awesome). I wasn't that hungry though, so I'll have to go back for a carbo-load some other day. I am just happy to have found a close by, un-stuffy, vegan-friendly cafe round these parts. I'd recommend Cafe Nook for a lingering brunch or lunch anytime.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How do they do it?

That was the question both myself and my husband had after trying our new favorite tomato soup. Imagine has been making some great organic soups for a while (I am also a big fan of the butternut squash) but this tomato concoction takes the cake. Creamy, yet containing no cream - not even soy milk - and with just the right savory flavor happening. It's also great as a base if you want to add some beans and spinach or whatever. This little wonder is perfect at the end of a cold day. Since more of those are on the way, I suggest you pick yourself up some. Every health store I've ever been in carries them, so you have no excuse. Now go!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Favorite Vegan Staple

Just wanted to take a minute to give some love to my dear friend hummus. A chickpea creation unlike any other, this creamy tahini and garlic mash sits perfectly atop a pita chip, a salad, or in a good sandwich. It's devotees are many, and they have so many options these days! Every supermarket has at least a few different hummus choices - from standard plain to red pepper and extra garlic - and I love them all. These days, though, when I hit up Rainbow, I've been grabbing Yousef's*.

It is of the plain variety and contains only some chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley and salt. It's great just like that, but it also makes a good base if I want to get creative and add some cumin or cayenne or chopped olives. (Mmmm, olives....) I hate runny hummus, and Yousef's is nice and thick. Pick some up next time you're out, and let me know what your fave hummus is while you're at it. I'm always open to suggestions!

*In searching for a link to Yousef's on the web, this was all I could find - a write up about a hummus contest in which Yousef's placed 3rd. Congrats, Yousef!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

So (Freakin') Delicious

I went shopping and got all the components of the vegan Thanksgiving feast I plan on creating. Well, all the things that wouldn't go bad between now and then anyway. One such item was vanilla ice cream to accompany the vegan pumpkin pie I plan on getting. Trying to avoid soy, I opted for the new Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream. This is the latest offering from Turtle Mountain, which has other ice creams under the labels So Delicious, Soy Delicious, and Purely Decadent, all of which are very yummy. Right off the bat, I was impressed by the nutrition label. 150 calories per 1/2 cup is about 50 less than the soy versions, and there are remarkably few ingredients. It's pretty much just coconut milk, vanilla, and agave. I was a little worried, however, that the coconut flavor would be overwhelming, especially when paired with the pie. Therefore, I decided to test it out tonight. All in the name of a good Thanksgiving, right? :)

Oh man. The stuff is great; not coconut-y at all! I can't wait to try the other flavors, especially the cookie dough. I managed to leave enough for Thanksgiving... but there is more than a week between now and then, so I'm not making any promises. I highly recommend you try this stuff. Even my favorite "other" (the husband) was impressed. Let me know what you think if you try it yourself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Last night my husband and I braved the bridge and headed east to Berkeley to meet some friends for dinner. The traffic was fairly miserable, but so is the proximity of a BART station to our apartment, so driving seemed to make more sense. Despite the commute, we were in good spirits. We knew the company would be good, and we had a hunch the food would be as well. Finally, I got my ass to Fellini.

I've been wanting to try this place for the longest time, and after my parents gave it rave reviews (they actually called me from the restaurant they were so damn excited) I knew the days were numbered before I would get there. Needless to say I was anticipating greatness, so when I heard that they totally revamped their menu only days before I managed to get through the doors, I was apprehensive. My parents went on and on about the vegan alfredo, and it sadly got the axe. Luckily, the left some pretty great items, and we enjoyed everything we ordered.

First of all, I must say that Fellini is 100% committed to vegans and others living harmoniously together. Their menu is one of the best I've seen so far. Options abound for everyone, and everything is well-marked. Love it. We all had trouble deciding what to get, but I finally settled on the Spring Mix salad, and the Ratatouille Provencal:

I gotta say, I wanted to love these dishes, but both were sort of eh. Not terrible but my socks weren't knocked off either. The combo of eggplant and sweet potato was a bit weird, and the awesome presentation serves simply to hide the fact that the dish is just a bunch of veggies and couscous in a none-too-spectacular sauce. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
My husband, on the other hand, got the vegan version of the Linguini Carbonara and LOVED it. Something for me to try next time for sure.

And, yes, there will definitely be a next time. My entree may not have wowed me this trip, but with such offerings as a vegan meat-lovers pizza (you read that right - it's called the Smiling Cow) and vegan Pappardelle, I'm all about it. Plus the ambiance is great, the people are friendly, and the wine list is decent. Oh, and they have a vegan chocolate cake that I didn't have room for. That is reason enough for me to go back. Maybe I'll see you and your others there!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nothing To Do With Food

I woke up this morning so overcome with excitement that I nearly jumped out of bed. Prop. 2, guaranteeing better conditions for farmed animals, easily passed. So there was that. But my god, there are no words to describe the emotion - somewhere between elation and soaring gratitude - that I felt watching Barack Obama become our president-elect. Second to my wedding, it was the happiest moment of my life. So, my poem for today, which I jotted down as I was getting ready this morning goes like this:


walking around trying
not to touch anything - like

it might break -
world's fragility
brought on by it being



As this joy really sinks in, so does the sad realization that much of our country is still sickeningly homophobic. So, while race relations seem to be at least a bit better, there is still much work to be done before we are all truly equal. However, in this moment, I am focusing on the joy, hopeful that there is more to come.

(Don't worry, a joyful girl's gotta eat. More on that soon...)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Eating With the In-Laws

My husband's parents are vegetarian, which makes them pretty awesome in my book. When they come to town, they generally stay down by my sister-in-law on the peninsula because she's got a kid - their only grandson. They always feign happiness to see us, but we know that he's the reason they really visit. :) Even with all the 2 and a half year old excitement, we always manage to have decent meals when they're around, and this past weekend was no exception.

On Saturday night, all of us hit up an old favorite - a place I would go to far more often if there were one in the city: Fresh Choice. If you have one in your area, grab your others by the arm and head there! It's basically a huge salad bar, a soup station, a pasta station, and a desert bar. Everything that is vegan is labeled clearly and all of it is yummy. In particular, the mushroom barley soup and squash ratatouille were winners this time around. Sorry I didn't take any photos.

Sunday, the grandparents took a break from the kid and came out with just me and my husband. We manage to do this almost every time their around, and I like to use it as a time to try out some new places on the peninsula. I normally don't dine down there, but with the help of Open Table and Happy Cow, I've found some great restaurants, not the least of which is Tannourine.

This Lebanese and Mediterranean place was pretty busy for a Sunday at 6, and I was a little worried to see only two servers. My fear was exacerbated by the fact that a fellow diner was having chest pains, couldn't walk, and the servers had to pause to call 911. With all that going on, I'm surprised we ever got any food, but they took it all in stride, and while things maybe went a little slower than usual, we were in no rush. Watching the EMT's work on the sick woman right outside the restaurant was a little disconcerting, but she ended up being fine and we enjoyed the rest of our meal in relative normalcy.

Speaking of the meal, we started with a huge mezze platter of dolmas, hummus, falafel, tabouleh, and foul madammas (fava beans stewed with tomatoes and spices). All were savory and delicious. Then, everyone except my mother-in-law ordered the fattoush salad as our entree. I was very into this salad. The romaine was flecked with sumac and maybe even a little cayanne, as it was a tad spicy. Certainly one of the most flavorful salads I've had in some time. I highly recommend it. My mom-in-law actually ordered the veggie combo dinner, which was more of the same mezze items, plus baba ganoush. Our entree choices do not at all reflect a lack of vegetarian/vegan options however. We were just all feeling like mezze and salad I guess. Next time, I want to try the veggies and cous-cous....

So, if you're down in San Mateo for any reason, check out Tannourine. It's authentic, yummy, reasonably priced, and even your in-laws will like it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Southern Surprises

The husband and I just returned from a trip to Atlanta and Tuscaloosa to see some family and attend a HUGE southern wedding. I must say I'm not a big fan of the south, in large part because of the lack of vegan options. I am totally spoiled by life in the Bay Area, but I was happily surprised by some of the good eats we found on our journey.

First, I must give a shout out to Subway. Traveling via interstates has never been easier for vegans with Subways being so prevalent. Amen for the Veggie Delite. Alas, one can not subsist on Subway alone, so on my first day in Atlanta, my Aunt and I searched out Cafe Sunflower. Set back from the road in a strip mall, I had my reservations, but once inside the warm-hued walls, I was instantly at home. Sunflower is a vegetarian place, but has a lot of vegan options. I had the Portabella Burger with Baked Sweet Potato Fries, and it was awesome. Totally spot-hitting, it left me deliciously fueled for the rest of my site-seeing day. I highly recommend it to all Atlantans.

Even though I have no pictures, I also think highly of The Spice Market. We had dinner there and our knowledgeable waiter pointed out the numerous items that were vegan or could be made so. The focus here is Asian street food, and all our dishes were highly flavorful and with just the right amount of spice. The space itself is just nice to look at, so check it out. If dining out just ain't your thing, I suggest you do your shopping at Sevananda in Little 5 Points. This huge co-op has everything your vegan heart desires, and lots of raw food goodies too. Plus, a stroll around the eclectic neighborhood will help burn off any indulgences you may have purchased. :)

Atlanta is a large metropolis, so I wasn't too surprised to find vegan fare there, but I was a little worried about Tuscaloosa. As it turns out, I had nothing to fret about. This university town has plenty of eating and drinking options, and as we strolled around we saw a number of places with menus that could be easily veganized. There were a bunch of Italian and Thai places - both good bets for vegan options. But then, as we were looking at menus and deciding, we saw one that had the words "can be made vegan" next to a few items. Done. Any place that knows enough about veganism to put it on their menu is a winner. Into the Mellow Mushroom we headed.We opted to make the most of the laid back atmosphere of this place and sit at the bar. After we settled in with some Hoegaarden, we looked over the menu and placed our order. Good call since the bartender was on point. I had little faith that she'd actually remember all the items I wanted on my "build-you-own" salad but she did indeed. My greens with tempeh and veggies galore was so tasty, and I rounded out the meal by ordering their famous giant pretzels. Vegans must go with the plain variety because the garlic/parmesan is out and even the plain salt has butter (to help the salt stick I guess). Plain was just fine, however, and even though I had to ask for mustard (they were served with marinara!?) they were awesome. Warm and soft and wonderful.

The rest of the weekend, we were at the mercy of our hosts in terms of food, but I must say I was kept well-fed. Even when dinner was just some steamed veggies and hummus, I really appreciated the thought, especially considering "vegan" is still a pretty foreign word down there. The only time I was left food-less was at brunch on the day of the wedding, so me and the hubby bounced early and hit up Manna Grocery in town. I had discovered this place earlier and the deli was hoppin' when we got there. I didn't have my camera, but my veggie sandwich and black bean soup were delicious! Everyone in Tuscaloosa should shop there.

Finally, after an amazing wedding, and with good memories freshly made, it was time to head back to Atlanta for one more meal before heading back to SF. My Aunt (smart lady that she is) chose the R. Thomas Deluxe Grill for the occasion and I'm quite happy she did! Complete with quirky exterior and dining area, R. Thomas is a feast for all your senses. The atmosphere is truly welcoming to all, and the menu reflects exactly that. Serving up food for vegans and others alike is their specialty, and if my Thai Bowl was any indication, they know what they're doing. Places like this are little gems in a big sprawling city, and I love coming across them when I travel.

So, I guess that the south ain't so bad after all. If you head there anytime soon, fear not your stomach's fate. The more people know about food as it relates to their health and the health of the planet, the more people demand healthy options, and I think this trip illustrates that point. Let's hope the trend continues!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Quick Note To Say...

.....that even though my purse (with my camera in it) was stolen off the back of my chair at Millennium while dining with my parents, it is still my favorite restaurant. Will I hang my purse off the back of my chair there ever again? Um, no. However, the food was fantastic, and they were very helpful with calling the police, bringing us water while we waited and giving me a $100 gift certificate. Yeah, the stolen goods were worth way more, but whatever. I hereby declare that a lot more than a stolen purse would have to happen to me there in order for me not to return.

That being said, the rest of my parents' trip was awesome. Sure I had to spend part of it at the DMV, getting a new phone, and having my locks changed, but it was great just to have them around for all of that. We had some delicious meals too, and even though I couldn't take pictures, I highly recommend Judahlicious if you're out by the beach, and La Mediterranee for dining with others, especially before a show at Yoshi's.

The husband and I are taking off for Atlanta and Tuscaloosa on Tuesday. We're headed to a wedding but will be seeing some family and dining at some veg-friendly places along the way. I was able to get a replacement digital camera today, so more colorful blogs are forthcoming. Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back to Lettus, Ubuntu, and Cha-Ya

With my parents in town, the eat-fest is officially on. Being vegan and food-lovers, not unlike yours truly, they are happy to be dragged around to every vegan eatery in town, much to my delight. So far, we've had a blast and have had three meals of note. I've been to all three restaurants before, but have only actually blogged about one. In any event, here's the run-down:

After picking them up from the airport, we head directly to Lettus for brunch. Hunger and excitement precluded me from taking any pictures, but I have to say that this is the best place for vegans and others to get brunch together. The vegan blueberry pancakes are amazing, and always served with whatever fruit is fresh and seasonal. My dad had the tofu scramble which he claims was awesome, and the hubby got his share of dairy and eggs in some french toast. (Note to self: Bring friends to brunch here more often.)

The next day was spent entirely in wine country, and we had a blast. Certainly a highlight of our trip was an amazing lunch at Ubuntu. I'm not sure how I feel about them switching to an all small plate menu, but it did allow me to sample a bunch of different things. I took pictures of almost all the dishes so here you go:

From left to right, you have chickpea fries with romesco sipping suace, heirloom tomato in free-form, yellow-bean soup, polenta and veggies, fregola and tomato stew, muscat grape sorbet and tapioca, and mini carrot cupckaes.

Not a single thing was less than stellar, but my faves were the yellow-bean soup and the grape sorbet. The former was so savory and comforting and those croutons were doused with some super fantastic olive oil and salt. The latter was refreshing, cool, and deeply flavored. Like the grape candy of my childhood without tasting even slightly artificial. Ubuntu serves up some of the yummiest veg food in the Bay Area. Go there if you haven't already.

Finally (for now anyway), we hit up Cha-Ya yesterday. My dad loves vegan sushi, but is always stuck with the pre-made stuff at Whole Foods; not bad, but no Cha-Ya. The pictures I took are of my two most favorite things there: The Seaweed salad with miso-tahini dressing, and the Cha-Ya roll. Normally I don't like seaweed salad because normally it comes with a vinaigrette of some kind. But, with the miso-tahini, it becomes salty and savory and divine. One of my favorite things to eat in the whole city. Simple and light. On the other hand, the Cha-Ya roll is as decadent as vegan sushi gets. It's a regular roll stuffed with veggies and then tempura-battered and deep-fried. The sauce it is served with is more sweet than savory, making this roll almost like dessert. Of course, if you're anything like us, you'll still be up for a quick jaunt to Maggie Mudd for mini-waffle sundaes:

My parents are in town until Saturday and we have plans that include vegan eateries Herbivore, and Millennium as well as some places that are "other-friendly" as well. Stay tuned to find out if my stomach can handle it all!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cafe KATi

Last night my husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary, 9 years of being a couple, and 15 years of friendship. It hardly feels that long, but such is life I suppose. Last year, we celebrated our big day with an elaborate Bodega Bay and wine tasting trip. This year we decided to keep it simple and just go out for a nice meal. This was due in part to the fact that it was a Tuesday night, but also because my parents - fun-loving vegans that they are - are coming into town on Saturday and we're in for a week or good eats, Napa trips, and other surprises. So, in keeping with the mellow theme, we wanted to go somewhere in the neighborhood and decided to finally try out Cafe KATi.

First of all, let me assure you that is no error in capitalization; that is actually how they write it. As for pronunciation, I have no idea. I meant to ask while we were there, but I forgot. Oh well...

Anyway, I found the restaurant online first, during one of my OpenTable searches, and I remembered it because it's Asian-fusion-heavy-on-the-seafood menu seemed right up my husband's alley. I emailed them about the veg options on the menu and received a quick response that they could happily veganize them for me. Score one for KATi. I must admit I was still a bit skeptical because some of the reviews on yelp are downright odd. Some recount wonderful evenings while others tell tales of drunken chefs and horrendous service. Still, it was in walking distance, had a decent menu, and was something new, so off we went.

Right off the bat I was a little worried since the small dining room had a large party in it and there was only one waitress. When almost 20 minutes went by without anyone helping us, the bus boy finally took our order, telling us that his boss had to go to the store. Huh? While my husband tried to figure out what they possibly could have ran out of, I was just a tad worried that the broken English of our bus boy was not enough to translate "vegan" to the chef. However, as soon as the waitress did return she assured me that she checked the ticket and all was well. Soon thereafter our appetizers arrived. I had the delicious Vietnamese spring roll - rice paper around mango and rice noodles and bursting with mint and cilantro. My only gripe was that there could have been more of the accompanying sauce. It was so yummy, and my rolls were a bit dry. No worries though. My gnawing hunger was abated, and we sat back to enjoy our wine while we waiting for our entrees.

And waited...

And, well, you get the idea. It took a while. About half way through the wait, the waitress alerted me that the chef had put butter in the cous-cous and asked if I would like jasmine rice instead. Um, yes, yes I would. I'm pretty sure at this point they had to start cooking some rice. Luckily, we were in anniversary bliss and our mood could not be dampened. Our waitress was extremely nice which made up for the kitchen's slowness, the dim lighting was lovely, and it was a beautiful night. To top it off, when our meals finally arrived, they were awesome. I mean really freakin' good. I had Malaysian red curried veggies and rice en papillote (cooked in parchment paper) and the flavors were spot on - vibrant, savory, and rich. It reminded me of some of the best food we ate in Thailand. Well worth the wait.

So, will we go back? I doubt it. I mean, they only have the two menu items for vegans, one of which has to be altered, and while the husband loved his meal, he is pretty easy to please. I will say that we lucked out in that Tuesday is free corkage night, so perhaps if we've got a bottle of wine that goes well with curry on some Tuesday in the future, you could find us there. But otherwise, there are so many more places to eat in this town, and I plan on trying as many as possible!