Posts Tagged dessert

VeganMoFo: One Feast to Rule Them All

VeganMoFo 2013 has come to an end!  I didn’t reach my goal of posting every weekday, but I did make 19 posts which is great considering how sporadic my blogging has been the past two years.

Dave and I are kind of nerds when it comes to how much we like watching movies.  We’ve been talking for a while about holding a Harry Potter marathon, where we watch all the movies in one day back to back.  This would take about twenty hours and we’d like to wait until the weather is cooler, so as a test run we decided to have a Lord of the Rings marathon with a few friends.  We originally intended to just make a bunch of easy food that we could eat all day in order to relax, but of course I had to get all intense about it and decided that we’d eat the way hobbits do, which is many, many meals a day!

“And laugh they did, and eat, and drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day (when they could get them).”  The Fellowship of the Ring, Prologue, J.R.R. Tolkien

In the movies it’s seven meals.  I thought we wouldn’t need supper and dinner after a full day of eating and lazing, so we stuck with six.  I found this post incredibly useful in planning the timing of the movies and meals, and this fan fiction post on meal etiquette helped us figure out what to actually serve for each meal.  In the interest of not being in the kitchen all day, we chose a lot of foods that could be made ahead of time and reheated or served cold.

Here’s the schedule we aimed for, although everything ended up running a little later.  We let the credits roll for bathroom and fresh air breaks, and only took real breaks for lunch and supper so that we could eat at the dining table.

8:30 – The Fellowship of the Ring
noon – The Two Towers
4:00 – The Return of the King

8:30 – Breakfast
9:45 – Second Breakfast
11:15 -Elevenses
1:00 – Lunch
3:45 – Afternoon Tea
6:00 – Supper

Our friends brought over their super awesome Salvation Army find, two authentic Lord of the Rings goblets!  The Arwen glass held my OJ, and later, beer.

Breakfast was Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal from Chocolate Covered Katie, baked in muffin cups for easy serving.  Rather than frosting, I thought Stewed Apples would be a nice, light topping to start with.  I wasn’t sure how the healthy, vegan baked oatmeal would go over, but everyone seemed to like it!

For Second Breakfast, Dave made everyone else egg and cheese casserole and sausages, so here is my version.  I made a variation of the Shiitake Dill Frittata from Vegan Brunch, swapping the shiitakes out for criminis, subbing chives, parsley and tarragon for the dill, and adding Daiya cheddar shreds.  The sausages are Vegan Dad’s Breakfast Sausages, which I like very much and now have a freezer full of.  The toast was made from a country style wheat loaf, with boysenberry jam.

You know we had to have some Lembas bread for Elevenses!  I veganized this recipe, adding some almond extract and chopped toasted almonds, since my extensive internet research suggested it was a good idea.  It turned out a little dry and plain, but good enough to eat, which was kind of exactly the point.  We also served Earl Grey tea and non-vegan chocolate biscuits.

Lunch was a picnicky affair, a build-your-own-plate type of meal.  In the Lazy Susan is heirloom tomatoes, canned beet slices, olives, marinated mushrooms, dill pickles, and two types of mustard.  Accompanied by potato salad with mustard vinaigrette, Black Forest Rye bread, and a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette.  Dave and our guests also had a platter of cold cuts and cheeses.

I had open-faced sandwiches with Tofurky roast beef slices and Daiya swiss.  I really enjoyed this meal, there were lots of different flavors and the dressings on the salads were very tasty.  It was very filling while still feeling light.

Etiquette dictated that we serve something sweet after lunch but we didn’t want it to be heavy since we still had one and a half movies and two meals to get through.  These fresh strawberries were nice with cool whipped coconut cream.

Afternoon Tea was a particularly special affair with a real life fancy tea set purchased last minute from Goodwill.

Tea sandwiches and scones seemed like the only appropriate food for high tea!  Dave wasn’t sold on the tea sandwiches, but they turned out really well – cucumber and Tofutti cream cheese or radishes and Earth Balance on white bread.  They would’ve been perfect if I had sprinkled on a bit of salt while assembling.

The scones were lemon poppyseed, adapted from my scone recipe and cut into mini scones.  I added lemon zest, subbed fresh lemon juice for some of the liquid, and used baking soda in place of some of the baking powder.

None of us were hungry when it came time for dinner, but we forged ahead in the name of The King!

Dinner started with vegetable barley soup that had been simmering all day, and actually simmered a bit too long.  It tasted good but the vegetables were definitely overcooked.

The main course was chicken (Gardein for me), mushrooms slow cooked in garlic and white wine, braised cabbage and kale, roasted root vegetables, and corn on the cob.

For dessert, I made a warm Blueberry-Blackberry Tart served with vanilla ice cream.  The crust turned out a little tough, but that was probably my fault.  I’m not that great with pie crust.  The filling was really good though, and it was a nice end to our gluttonous day.

Yes, we ate all that food in one day!  We finally finished the last disc after 10PM, and everyone pretty much went straight to bed.  It was actually exhausting watching movies all day.  I have to say that watching them all in a row made me appreciate them even more, including appreciation for my crush on Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn…

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VeganMoFo: Native Foods

When I signed up for a conference in Newport Beach, I didn’t know much about the town other than the fact that it was the setting of Arrested Development.  Then, I found out there is a Native Foods there.  Then, I found out it was right across the street from the hotel hosting the conference.  Then, I found out it was under a ten minute walk from the hotel to the restaurant!  I had never had the opportunity to eat there, but could tell from their menu that it was the type of place I would like.

I ate there all four days of the conference, and I was really excited to post about it.  Then, my phone was stolen, along with the photos of my meals.  Sad face!

I’m going to tell you about the dishes I tried there anyway, because they were all so good!  Luckily, it seems like I can borrow other photos from the internet.

photo source blog.nativefoods.com

I first went for a late lunch on the day I arrived, after flying west across the country.  I wasn’t feeling my best and although everything sounded delicious, I knew that something on the healthier side would hit the spot.  I went with the Sesame Kale Macro Bowl – Grilled Native Tempeh atop steamed kale, brown rice, creamy ginger sesame sauce, tangy sauerkraut, gomasio and toasted sesame seeds. Green onion garnish and crunchy cucumber seaweed salad on the side.  I’m a sucker for sauerkraut, and my only complaint was that I could’ve used about triple the amount they gave me.

photo credit – blog.nativefoods.com

I also got an Oatmeal Creme Pie to take back to my room.  It was less authentically Little Debbie-esque than the one I had in Austin, but still very good.  The cookies were thick and a little crumbly, and the filling was like whipped cream.

photo credit – blog.nativefoods.com

Next, I tried their Classic Deli Reuben – thinly-sliced, deli-style Native Reuben Seitan piled high on grilled marble rye.  Topped with homemade sauerkraut, Native Horseradish Cheese and a slather of Russian dressing.  Told you I’m a sucker for sauerkraut.  I’ve had many variations on a vegan Reuben from many different restaurants, and never met one I didn’t like.

The seitan really is pink!  And, like this photo, I also ordered a side of potato salad, which was very tasty and not too heavy, with plenty of fresh dill.

photo credit – http://www.ocmenus.com

For an early dinner Friday evening, I went with what I really wanted: the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger and sweet potato fries.  Thinly sliced Native Original Seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions, and crispy Native Bacon on a bun slathered with BBQ sauce and ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, onions, and tomato. Topped with crunchy battered dill pickle chips.  This beast of a sandwich really was piled up that high, and was difficult to put together.  It didn’t really taste like a “burger” since the meaty part was seitan, but it was still really amazing.  Every bite had a different texture and flavor; the warm, melty cheese, the crunchy, smoky bacon, the cool dressing, spicy BBQ sauce and crunchy veggies.  And I adored the fried pickle chips.

Despite making it through that massive sandwich, I had room for dessert.  The Strawberry Shortcake Parfait is vanilla cake layered with almond creme and fresh sliced organic strawberries.  I like a biscuity texture for shortcakes, so the cake didn’t quite hit the spot for me, but the almond creme was kind of mind blowingly delicious.  It was smooth and fluffy and the delicate almond flavor played nicely with the vanilla and strawberry.

photo credit – http://www.ocmenus.com

For my last meal there I had to try one of the entree salads, namely the popular Ensalada Azteca – fresh avocado, cucumber, and jicama salsa atop quinoa, romaine, and an award-winning mango lime vinaigrette. Topped with currants, toasted pumpkin seeds, and cilantro.  It was a massive salad, definitely enough for a full meal.  There were lots of great contrasting flavors and textures going on.  And yes, it did come with a big mango slice and a whole sprig of cilantro like this picture!

I really love their approach at Native Foods.  They make everything in house, including the buns, cheeses, seitan and sauces, and you can tell that a lot of care is put into each plate.  If there was a location near me I would make an attempt at trying every menu item!

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Home & Away for the Holidays

I showed you parts of my Christmas dinners last time, so I figured I’d write about the rest of my holiday eats.

We were eating fairly early in the afternoon on Christmas Day, so I made one light appetizer, mini quiches.

I used FatFree Vegan’s Mini Crustless Tofu Quiche recipe for the base, with red bell pepper and fresh basil for Christmas colors, and baked them in phyllo cups.  I also added a bit of kala namak to make the flavor more eggy.

Dave made steak for our guests, and I handled the side dishes.

Wild Mushroom and Cipollini Salad with Horseradish Dressing, from the Candle 79 Cookbook.

For the obligatory potato dish I sauteed a LOT of garlic in a good bit of Earth Balance, then tossed in halved cooked potatoes and sprinkled with fresh parsley.  These were some of the best potatoes I think I’ve ever made!

My plate, with Gardein Beefless Tips and corn.  I though the flavor of the beefless tips was good, but that the texture was a little soft inside to eat them on their own like this.

I had Candy Cane Jo Jo’s on the mind (and a box in the pantry), so for dessert I made a chocolate mint pie.  The crust is your typical cookie crust, made with the Jo Jo outsides.  The filling  used the recipe for Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding Pie from Vegan Pie In The Sky, with chopped up bits of cookies mixed in.  For the topping, I used a box of Healthy Whip and mixed in some pieces of the cookie filling which were left over from making the crust.

The pie set up quite nicely, and was both very chocolatey and minty.

A few days after Christmas, I flew to Florida to hang out with my family in Anna Maria Island.  Of course, I did the requisite research before going by googling “Anna Maria Island vegan”, but…there really wasn’t much info available.  I wasn’t too worried through, because the  house we were staying in had a kitchen and there was a Publix on the island, so I knew I’d at least survive.

Upon picking me up from the airport though, my dad told me that he had seen a sign outside of a restaurant that actually said vegan on it.  And it was a barbecue restaurant!

Mr. Bones is a really interesting little restaurant; they had a coffin full of beer, odd masks all over the walls, Asian specialties in addition to their barbecue menu, and a whole separate page of vegan food!

I started with the appetizer sized peanut noodles, which surprised me by being served cold.  The flavor of the sauce was really nice and a little spicy.

While the veggie burger sounded really good, I couldn’t pass up the General Moe’s Watercress, sauteed with garlic and ginger and served over curried rice.  The dish was a little oily for my tastes, but I was really happy to be able to eat a giant plate of vegetables.

Mr. Bones even had a vegan cobbler on the dessert menu, but I was far too full to give it a try.

The next morning, I ate overnight oats that my mom had made.  Mom’s the best, she brought chia seeds on vacation!

Lunch was a nice wrap with hummus, peppered Tofurky, cucumber and greens.  I ate a few of the Terra Chips on the side before I read the label and realized they weren’t vegan…oops…I guess I wrongly assumed all Terra Chips were vegan.

That afternoon I walked down the dock to the river and hung out with some fish friends, and that evening, as a present, I cooked a four course dinner for my family.

First, I spent a few hours making a giant mess of the kitchen.

I went with kind of a Moroccan-spiced theme for the meal.  The appetizer was Tangy Morrocan Carrots, pita chips and hummus.  The little dish in the upper left was for my sis-in-law, who I found out doesn’t like cilantro.  The carrots are steamed then left to marinate in the fridge, and I thought they were a nice, light way to start the meal.

Next up was the Wild Rice Salad with Oranges & Roasted Beets from Appetite for Reduction.  To go with the spice story (should I trademark that phrase?), I added ground cumin and coriander to the dressing, which was a nice touch.  I really liked the texture contrast between the wild rice, crisp lettuce and buttery beets.

For the entree, I chose Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Cakes with Red Bell Pepper-Curry Sauce and Apricot Chutney from the Candle 79 Cookbook, which I talked about in this post.

Lastly, dessert was spiced chocolate fondue with bananas, strawberries, and pretzel rods.  I used this Rachel Ray recipe as the base, basically heating soy creamer and adding chocolate chips until it was the right consistency.  I also added some ground cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper to spice it up.  This was the perfect dessert to have right at the end of a meal, because it only took a few minutes to prepare.  Through rigorous trial and error, my brother and I figured out that the best bite was strawberry and banana together.

The next day was my sister-in-law’s birthday, so we headed to Sarasota to hang out at the Mote Aquarium.  The first order of business was lunch at The Old Salty Dog, which has the cutest mascot ever.

I was surprised to find a salad on the menu that was vegan as is, no modification needed!

The Chickpea & Edamame Salad came with corn, dried cranberries, cucumber, tomatoes and Greek dressing, and it was mighty tasty.  It was going to be a long afternoon, so I got some fries too to fuel up.

At the aquarium, I got to see this ugly mug.

…and learned that manatees have gas.

Dinner that night was the ol’ side salad and baked potato at a local bar and grill, but afterward we got to the good stuff.

A Candy Cane Jo Jo cake for sis-in-law’s birthday.  I added mint extract to a basic chocolate cake recipe, and mixed cookie crumbles into a can of vegan Duncan Hines frosting.

And just like that, my trip to Anna Maria Island was sadly over.

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Happy New Year, Let Me Show You My Thanksgiving Dinner!

So, I didn’t intend to take such a long break after VeganMoFo ended!  I fell out of the blogging habit pretty hard there, so now I’ll have to get back into it to get caught up.  Let’s start with the most delicious of meals, Thanksgiving!

We had a big group this year, twelve guests in total, so we cleared all the furniture out of the living room and moved in some tables.

Dave decided we needed a fancy menu like a fancy restaurant…

We prepared a huge meal, so I kept the appetizers light – grapes, veggies, crackers and cashew cheese spread.

The whole spread…The green bean casserole is my recipe, with canned fried onions on top.  Dave was in charge of the sourdough stuffing, which included homemade mushroom broth and lots of fresh herbs.  For the mashed potatoes, I simmered smashed garlic cloves in the almond milk while the potatoes cooked, to have the garlic flavor without the garlic pieces.  I also mixed in truffle salt and white pepper.  They were quite the tasty potatoes.  You can’t see the braised greens here, but they were slow cooked with onion, garlic, fresh tomato and homemade vegetable broth.

I also made Oh She Glows Fluffy Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls, except I let them go too long on the second rise and they turned into cut-apart diner rolls.  Even so, they were light and tasty.  As a special treat, I also made “honey butter” using Earth Balance and Just Like Honey Rice Nectar.  I used to love biscuits with butter and honey, and not having had honey in over six years, I really liked the Just Like Honey.  It has that sweet tang that I remember honey having.

I didn’t want to have to prepare an entree for myself, so I bought a Field Roast Celebration Roast and just zapped it in the microwave.  It turned out a little dry, so the canned cranberry sauce was a nice accompaniment.  I was going to make some gravy but ran out of time; I missed it a little but certainly had plenty to eat.

Dessert was a whole ‘nother extravaganza.  The three pies were store bought because, you know, six desserts are better than three!

By request, I made pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese frosting, which are always a hit.

This is The PPK’s Triple Apple Cider Bundt Cake Stuffed with Apples, which was really tasty!  My glaze, sadly, was too thin, but it was yummy nonetheless.

Lastly, Gingerbread Biscotti from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  I had never made biscotti before, and it’s quite easy.  You just make regular cookies in log form, bake, cool, slice, and bake again.  Takes a little longer, but the crispy-chewy bite is definitely worth it.  These guys were dark and spicy and gingery, and definitely more-ish even at the end of a big feast.

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VeganMoFo: OBR Week – (never home)maker

(never home)maker is a blog by Ashley and Stephen, an adorable couple who are currently expecting a baby.  In addition to food and recipes, they post about running, decorating and general life stuff.  They eat vegetarian/pescetarian, but a lot of the recipes they post are vegan.

In looking over their recipes, one in particular stood out – The Vegetarian Juicy Lucy.  It’s a cheese-stuffed tofu burger with sweet potato fries in the sandwich.  It’s a gut bomb, and it’s awesome.

The recipe is vegan except for the cheese, so I subbed in some pepperjack Daiya that I had in the fridge.  You’re supposed to form the mixture into two stuffed burgers but I thought they would be way too huge, so I made three and they were still gigantic!  I baked the sweet potato fries and served my burger with roasted green beans.

The big question is, did the cheese melt?

Why yes, yes it did!  My only complaint about the burgers is that they didn’t seem cooked through in the middle even after browning the outsides well.  Next time I would brown them then bake them in the oven, or vice versa, to make sure the insides are cooked.

I happened to have some chickpeas in the fridge waiting to be used up, so I also tried Ashley’s Hu-Mousse, a dessert hummus.  I didn’t have any real coconut milk, so I used So Delicious Coconut Drink instead.  I really liked this, but I think it would have been better with the extra fat from the coconut milk.  It was only a little sweet, so I would suggest eating it with a sweet dipper, like the banana slices I had, or maybe graham crackers.  I could definitely taste the chickpeas, but they didn’t take away from the dessert-ish nature.

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Award Winning Grilling

In mid-July, our friends Matt and Amber hosted the third annual grill-off. They added a veggie category this year, which was basically an open category for anything vegetarian. I rejoined with Dave and our friend Tom to form our team Grilly D. Williams and compete for the glory. The boys took care of the meat categories, and I made four entries – two veggies, a sandwich and a dessert for the open category.

First, I hung out with these guys.

And fueled myself up with veggies and Sanctuary dressing while waiting for my categories to come up.

First entry:

Grilled Asparagus Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

1 bunch asparagus
large handful fresh basil, torn into pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 Tbs white miso
3 Tbs nutritional yeast
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
18-20 button or cremini mushrooms

1. Grill the asparagus over medium-high heat until slightly charred and crisp-tender. Allow to cool then chop into pieces, reserving the tips for garnish.
2. Place the asparagus pieces, basil, garlic, pine nuts, miso, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running. It is okay if some texture remains in the pesto.
3. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and wrap them in foil in a single layer. Grill over medium-high heat until tender.
4. Allow the mushrooms to cool enough to handle, then stuff with the pesto. You can spoon the pesto in the mushrooms, pipe it with a piping bag, or cut the corner off a ziploc bag and use that to pipe. Garnish with the asparagus tips.

Second entry:

Grilled Italian Stuffed Zucchini

4 large zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 small leek, white and light green parts only, halved, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 – 2 Tbs EACH fresh minced thyme, oregano, sage and parsley
2 tsp capers
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 medium tomatoes, diced small
salt
freshly ground black pepper
tofu ricotta, for example the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance

1. Mix the herbs together in a small bowl.
2. Place the sliced leek, garlic, capers, 3/4 of the herb mixture, the red wine vinegar, 2 tsp of the olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small grill-safe container such as an aluminum pan. Grill over medium high heat, off the heat, until leeks are softened, stirring often.
3. Meanwhile, brush the zucchini halves lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill the zucchini flat side down until charred and slightly tender, turning the zucchini to create grill marks. Take the leek mixture and zucchinis off the grill and allow to cool.
4. Using a melon baller, scoop out the insides of the zucchinis, reserving the flesh and leaving at least an eighth-inch shell.
5. Chop about two thirds of the zucchini flesh into small pieces and reserve the rest for another use. Mix the chopped zucchini with the leek mixture, diced tomato and breadcrumbs. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.
6. Mix the remaining herbs with the tofu ricotta.
7. Spoon the leek mixture into the zucchini shells, packing it down slightly. Top each zucchini with some tofu ricotta.
8. Carefully place the zucchinis back on the grill to warm through and cook the bottoms slightly. Serve warm.

Servings: 8

Third entry:

Hoisin Grilled Eggplant Bahn Mi

1 large or 2 medium eggplants, skin on, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
salt
1/2 cup vegetarian hoisin sauce
2 Tbs fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp peanut oil
loaf French bread or four bread rolls
vegan mayonnaise
lettuce
thinly sliced cucumber
cilantro sprigs

1. Place a colander over a bowl. Add the eggplant slices, salting each layer well. Allow to drain for 30 minutes then rinse and pat dry.
2. Lightly oil the eggplant slices with olive or canola oil, and grill over medium high heat until softened and slightly charred.
3. While the eggplant is cooking, mix together the hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic, tamari and peanut oil in a medium bowl.
4. Dip both sides of each eggplant slice into the sauce and shake off the excess. Place the eggplant back on the grill for a few more minutes.
5. If there is any remaining sauce, add a little to the eggplant and toss to coat.
6. To assemble, spread some mayonnaise on each side of the bread. Place the eggplant on the rolls then top with cucumber, lettuce, and cilantro sprigs.

Servings: 4

Fourth entry:

Grilled pound cake with pineapple, rum sauce and coconut whipped cream. This is more of a collection of deliciousness than a recipe. I started with the Vanilla Yogurt Pound Cake from Veganomicon, brushing both sides with melted Earth Balance and grilling. The cake was topped with grilled pineapple and rum sauce veganized from this recipe. For the coconut whipped cream, I refrigerated a can of coconut milk and scooped the solid cream from the top, then mixed it with a bit of vanilla extract, powdered sugar and xantham gum. The cream was very thick, which worked well to keep it from melting too much when it was placed on the hot cake and pineapple.
I felt really good about the dishes I submitted, but the competition is stiff among our friends! Plus, the judges aren’t necessarily used to eating vegetarian food, so I never know what to expect. But, I won a few prizes! My eggplant bahn mi placed third in the burgers and sandwiches category, and my dessert placed second in the open category. Dave placed with a number of his entries, and Grilly D. Williams won as the best team overall. Plus, my dessert was picked as a judges favorite!

What’s funny is that I spent the most amount of time testing and prepping for my veggie entries, and they didn’t even place. My sandwich and dessert entry were more thrown together, and they both placed. Just goes to show that you should always trust your cooking instincts!

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Mendocino Birthday

My birthday was this weekend, and I asked Dave to take me to Mendocino as my present.  We only went for one day and one night, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to sight see, but we had a great time and ate some excellent food.  Despite living in the bay area for over two years now, I haven’t spent much time in the north bay, which is really something I should remedy!

Mendocino is a good three and a half hour drive from home, on quite possibly the windiest road I have ever driven.  By the time we arrived, we were starving.  Thanks to a timely post on Vegansaurus, I knew just where to go.  We pulled into the tiny town of Mendocino and parked right in front of The Mendocino Cafe.

I took it as a good sign that they had my favorite flower, alstroemeria, on the table.

As suggested in the Vegansaurus post, I ordered the Thai Burrito with tofu.  I thought the whole bush of cilantro on top was an interesting touch!  This didn’t taste authentically Thai per say, but maybe “California Thai”, by which I mean the blend of flavors suggested Thai food.  The inside was stuffed with onion, zucchini, red pepper, celery, brown rice, sauteed tofu and peanut sauce, and it was served with the most delicious chili sauce.  I also had a glass of malbec, because when it’s your birthday and you’re in Mendocino, you can have wine with lunch.  This was a tasty and filling lunch, and the service was very friendly, and I would definitely return to the Mendocino Cafe.

After lunch we wandered around a bit, and came across this health food store, Corners of the Mouth, which appears to inhabit what used to be a church.  The store was small, but had a good bulk section and lots of healthy staples, including plenty of vegan stuff.

I bought both powdered and flaked dulse from Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company.  I love dulse!

We settled in to Patterson’s Pub for a while to watch the end of the A’s game.

I believe this was Dave’s favorite part of the trip…

After checking in to our room and resting for a bit, we headed for the main attraction – dinner at Raven’s Restaurant.  Raven’s was the reason I chose Mendocino; it’s a fully vegan, gourmet restaurant in the Stanford Inn, about two minutes south of Mendocino.  If we could’ve afforded it, we would’ve just stayed at the inn, but…the rooms are a little pricey.

The Stanford Inn grounds have a wonderful garden, with lots of vegetables and edible flowers and other pretty plants.

giant fennel!

giant chard!

There was also a llama and two horses, which sadly I did not get close enough to pet.  I think the llama might have spit at me, anyway.

We arrived a bit early and enjoyed a local beer by the fireplace.  The restaurant is fully vegan, and not afraid to show it!  They had a host of vegan books on sale in the lobby, including some health-related books.

local wines

The Stanford Inn is very dog-friendly.  I watched this little guy while we waited for our table.

Amuse bouche (so fancy!) –  sweet rice balls with some sort of tamari sauce.  These were delicious, and tasted of charred onion in a good way.  Dave was abhorred when I ate the leaf underneath.  I’m pretty sure it was just a shiso leaf!

The wine list tells you what is vegan!  This is a very cool feature that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

I chose the Meyer Family Cellars Syrah, and liked it a lot.  I’m a sucker for a good shiraz.

Appetizer #1 – Spicy King “Crab” Roll, made of mushrooms, with spicy sauce and cucumber salad.  The bigger pieces without sauce were okay, but the pieces with spicy sauce were outstanding.  Before I went vegan, I would order veggie sushi just to have something to dip in spicy sauce, and it had been a long time since I had it!  Dave was again abhorred when I ate the little flower on the plate.  I told him they wouldn’t put anything on the plate that wasn’t edible, but I guess he’s not into the idea of eating flowers.  It tasted nice!  Tasted like you would expect a flower to taste.

Appetizer #2 – Crab(less) cake with some sort of tangy sauce, fried capers and arugula.  (The menu changes seasonally, so I don’t remember exactly what the sauce was, but it was delicious!)  There were whole oyster mushrooms in the cakes, which gave it an interesting texture.  The only small thing I would change for this dish would be to lightly dress the arugula, since it was a little dry.  Very minor complaint!

My entree – potato gratin with maple-glazed vegetables and oyster mushrooms.  Dave was flabbergasted that carrots come in a color other than orange!  Damned if I don’t know what the sauce on top of the potatoes was, but I could’ve dove into a pool of it and eaten my way out.  There was a green puree under the potatoes that you can’t really see, which was a nice counterpoint to the potatoes and sauce.

Dave’s entree – house-made ravioli with some sort of squash filling, cashew alfredo sauce, kale, leek and mushrooms.  This sauce was really amazing too!  Raven’s really knows what they’re doing with those creamy sauces.

For dessert, we chose the bananas foster, which came with house-made chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice creams.  The chocolate and strawberry ice creams were outstanding.

I would highly recommend Raven’s Restaurant.  Even Dave, who doesn’t always love vegan food, said he really enjoyed the meal, and was stuffed by the end of it.  The food was fantastic, the setting was beautiful and relaxing, and the service was impeccable.  I can only hope that some day I get to choose from the breakfast menu!  And pet the llama.

After a good night’s sleep, we headed south, stopping at The Little River Inn for brunch.

More alstroemeria!

I ordered the Vegan Rancheros, which is corn tortillas with black beans, spinach, green onion, peppers, chiles, pico de gallo and avocado.  There’s another corn tortilla under that pile of green.  This was very, very tasty, but unfortunately not as filling as I had hoped.  Regardless, I never complain about finding a vegan menu item at a non-vegan restaurant, and they had soy milk for the coffee, which is always a bonus.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the scenery.  By the way, I haven’t forgotten about my 31 by 31.  I’ll post a roundup soon, then get to working on 32 by 32!

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