Saturday, February 7, 2015

California Dreamin'

OE and I just returned from a holiday to California, and if I ever had worries about eating vegan in San Francisco... well, I just shouldn't have! I was worried that eating out would be a total pain, and that it would steal all the fun out of our holiday. I do love to go to new restaurants and try new foods or eat foods that I normally wouldn't get to eat at home. How can you do that when you're eating vegan?! The fact is that, particularly in San Francisco, saying "I'm vegan" in a restaurant is absolutely no big deal, and it seemed as if the waiters were more than happy to help me navigate the menu to find some options that would work for me!

This is a pic of us crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Get a load of that California blue sky!!

California is probably one of the birthplaces of the whole vegan movement (if you can call it that). There are plenty of options that offer vegetarian (and some vegan), so we tried a restaurant in Santa Cruz which was solely vegetarian / vegan since 1981. They definitely have whole thing down pat. It was DEE-lish! It was called Dharma's Restaurant. And I LOVED it. They also served some mighty big portions! I figured I'd be a piggy and eat all of it- just look at all those veggies in my veggie burrito!

It really was a tasty meal and inspired me to recreate some of the same options at home. I also followed it with a nice big slice of their vegan chocolate cake, but I can't show you that here. I gobbled it up too quick!

While we were in San Francisco, we stopped at a place for lunch called The Plant Cafe Organic in Mill Valley, where I had a fabulous Huervos Rancheros without the egg, sour cream or cheese. They sub in a basil-tofu scramble, and I seriously didn't miss the dairy for one second. It was fantastic! When places prepare options like that which really taste good, it makes me happy to be eating the way I am right now because I don't feel like I'm missing out and I'm doing my body good. And I'm not hungry afterwards!

One of the things I probably do a bit too much of is eating dessert and sweet things. Being vegan means I'm less able to choose whatever I want when we walk past a little cupcake shop or a patisserie. So I was absolutely delighted to find out that San Francisco has a donut shop that makes SOLELY vegan donuts. I know, right?! (Cue the angel choirs singing). Can you believe it?! Pepples donuts makes tasty donuts in quite a few different flavours - and they tasted pretty close to the real thing. I can definitely say that you would have had a hard time telling the Vanilla Glaze from a typical Dunkin or Krispy Kreme cake donut!

 Now... one of the things that makes me love OE, is that he doesn't complain when I say that I want to walk through a grocery store while we're on holiday. I know, I know... it's probably not the first thing that a normal person would do while on vacation, but I actually like going grocery shopping. (Food nerd alert.) And while driving around, I spotted a store called Mollie Stone's and wondered what it was. We don't have those in Charlotte, and it turns out that it is a grocery store! Our friends said that it was more upscale, so of course, I wanted to see it! Maybe it's because I miss the Marks & Spencer of the UK. I don't know. Either way, we went inside, and they really do a nice job of presenting their veg. (Again, ... food nerd.)

I imagine these photos are pretty lousy - I'm not intending to make a real foodie photo blog here but you get the idea.

And lastly - while in Santa Cruz, OE wanted to visit the amusement park where they filmed the movie The Lost Boys. Now... let me just say that when I saw that movie on a VCR tape in our refurnished basement circa 1987... it wrecked me. I still, to this day, hate vampires. I could only fall asleep if I had a sheet covering my neck after watching that movie. (Nevermind the fact that they'd bite through the sheet and apparently you have to invite them inside in the first place... ew... even talking about it now makes me get freaked out. BLEGH.) Annnnnyway... the point is that we went to see it and it was a pretty cool amusement park. The other thing I noticed was that there's no way you'd go to an amusement park hungry if you're a vegan.

Only in the USA, right?

So overall, it was a fantastic trip! I found it difficult in a smaller town (Carmel Valley) to find things that were vegan options. Most of the restaurants had maybe 1 or 2 vegetarian options, but that usually means it has cheese on it. Sometimes you can't get them to leave off the cheese either - like in an alfredo! Anyway, I did my best. I had a few salads and I hoped that the options I chose were vegan when I asked for no dairy. They might not have been purely vegan, but on holiday, I figured a 98% vegan diet was pretty good enough.


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