First of all, I would like to point out that this blog is now one year old! Woo hoo! Thank you to all of my readers and supporters over the last year!
Now, down to business…photos from California! Breakfast on the first day was a hearty veggie curry pastie from John Campbell’s Irish Bakery on Geary Street. Yum. Granted, this was probably not 100% vegan, but it was vegetarian and savory, and perfect for eating in Noor’s Land Rover on the way to Peet’s Coffee, which has the best coffee EVER (+ 2 vegan cookie options!)
For dinner one night we headed across the Bay Bridge to Oakland to eat at the incomparable Zaki Kabob House. Noor really wanted to take me there, because he noticed that the menu has a whole column of vegan dishes! It was hard to choose! As an appetizer we shared the Mashweeya salad: tender roasted eggplant, fresh tomatoes, crisp red onions, lots of garlic, and good olive oil.
For my entree I ordered the Zaki Mediterranean Plate so that I could try a little bit of everything. It had hummus, baba ghanouj, dolmas, falafels, and unlimited pita bread.
They provided complimentary fresh mint tea, and I also ordered a Jerusalem Mint Lemonade, which was SUPER minty: the perfect way to wash down a delicious meal.
This is a wonderful family-owned restaurant with a lot of integrity, definitely a new favorite. The other purpose for our Oakland trip was a stop at Fenton’s Creamery, where Noor did get me to sample their heavenly Toasted Almond ice cream, but even there I did manage to find a vegan option in the raspberry sorbet.
All of their treats are freshly made by hand. This was a far cry from the hard-frozen sorbets at the supermarket. It was soft, flavorful, and not too sweet. I know that Oakland gets a bad rap, but I had a great time there!
The next day I took the bus downtown by myself because Noor had to work. At SFMOMA I got to see a work by one of my favorite artists. Here I am in front of Janine Antoni’s Lick and Lather. In this piece she cast self-portrait busts in both chocolate and lard. Then she slowly erased her identity by licking the chocolate and washing with the soap.
After working up an appetite by looking at art, I really wanted to eat at The Plant, having read about it on Amber Shea’s Almost Vegan blog. However, I got there and found that it is closed on Saturdays! The location in the Financial District is only open Monday through Friday. Oh well. I wandered a bit and then headed over to the Ferry Building.
The Ferry Building is host to an upscale (and fairly pricy) farmers’ market, but it was winding down for the day. I did find some wonderful food from The Slanted Door at their to-go window, called Out the Door. I ordered the Vegetarian Curry and Iced Tea and walked outside and found a bench. This was my lunch:
This was where I ate my lunch:
…and this was my dining companion:
Not bad, huh? The curry was lovely. It was a Vietnamese curry: not heavily seasoned, but hearty. With potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli, it was almost like a good stew.
In addition to trying some great new places, I also got to enjoy some old favorites. On Sunday morning/afternoon we had brunch at La Palma Mexicatessan while listening to the church bells. I got the Vegetarian Burrito (no sour cream or cheese) again, but this time I tried the tomato-basil tortilla (last time I had the spinach tortilla). Yum. Here it is untouched but already bursting at the seams with goodness:
…and here it is after I destroyed half of it. Noor also got me some chips and guacamole and vegetarian sweet corn tamales to take back to his place (because he knows the way to my heart)
They accidentally gave us the cinnamon tamales, but they were good!
We also went down to San Jose to visit our good friend Scott, and, of course, we hit up Falafel’s Drive-In. I had the Falafel Sandwich again, and it was awesome again!
In San Jose I also got to say hi to our friend Jane’s chickens. These are some happy chickens.
This one thinks she’s a cat and roams around the house looking for spiders under the furniture.
Needless to say, I felt no qualms about eating some eggs from THESE chickens! Thank you, Jane, for the wonderful eggs! Look at how pretty the colors were:
Noor made me another potato omelet, which I devoured!
Noor also made VEGAN CHILI for me! Yeah! It had black beans, quinoa, Morningstar crumbles, tomato paste, and onions, and was well seasoned with chili powder and cumin. It was thicker than what I usually make. In fact, the texture was downright meaty!
On my last day we got breakfast at the farmers’ market in the parking lot of the mall by his apartment. I love that you can’t swing a dead cat in San Francisco (not that a vegan would ever do that) without hitting a farmers’ market. It was a foggy, misty morning: very pretty but no good for taking pictures. We got a nice loaf of French bread, and then we happened upon a hummus stand. The hummus guy was a very good salesman. He let us try all of the flavors, including yummy Artichoke, Tomato-Basil, and Avocado-Cilantro. He explained that their hummus has a super creamy texture with half the oil and tahini of traditional hummus, thanks to a special blade for blending it smoothly. It was super yummy and only 250 calories per tub. We chose the Cilantro-Jalapeno Hummus and also the Italian Caponata (a yummy eggplant-tomato-olive spread).
After putting a big dent in our bread and spreads we also each had a piece of bread with some off-brand Nutella that happens to be vegan as our “breakfast dessert.” Then we headed over to Peet’s to wash down a fabulous breakfast with the BEST coffee.
What a great trip! I can’t wait to go back and get some more of that hummus! I love that I’ve spent enough time in San Francisco now to have old favorite restaurants but that I also had the chance to find some new favorites. I also love it when my BF cooks for me. I’ll have to make him a nice meal when he visits me in KC next month. If you were a (mostly) vegan cooking for a confirmed omnivore, what would you make?