Here's the VegNews office... isn't it cute? It's in a nice quiet part of SF with easy street parking (yeah! that's all but impossible in SF!).
When we arrived, we were greeted with some smiling faces and a lovely breakfast spread - bagels, OJ, coffee & tea, strawberries, and some various spreads for the bagels. I was most excited for a chance to finally try some of the much-talked-about Sheese cheese. They had the cream cheese spread & the cheddar spread. I really liked them both! The cream cheese was BY FAR the best fake cream cheese I've ever tried. The cheddar spread had a very strong flavor, but I actually liked it very much. You can find this stuff on Vegan Essentials.
After a little office tour and some introductions, we got to work (that's me on the far right - smiling away!). It was such a well-run day, just what you would expect from people who can make such an awesome magazine. They have a pretty small staff - all vegans, and all super friendly - which makes the whole magazine even more amazing! There were 11 of us readers there, representing many different perspectives in the vegan community. Some had been veg*n for decades, and others only for a year or two. We disussed the things we already love about the magazine, things we'd love to see in the future, and ideas for future stories - with lots of lively discussion and different ideas being expressed. It was so interesting to be in a room full of vegans, discussing the different views on vegan issues!
Of course, we took a break for lunch. They had a *huge* vegan buffet of Indian food brought to the office, which we all enjoyed together.
Here's my plate... I ate a lot! As you can see, there were also Amazake rice drinks available. I hadn't ever actually tried one of these before, and I selected "Chocolate almond." It was very nice.
Have you ever heard of Maggie Mudds? It's an ice cream parlor in SF that make a load of *amazing* dairy-free ice creams... with all sorts of different bases: almond, hazelnut, coconut, etc. Well, apparently they are putting out a cool new product of non-dairy ice cream cakes. Look in the freezer section at Whole Foods! The folks at VegNews had 3 flavors for us to try! I only took a tiny nibble, because I was headed for a yoga class after the roundtable meeting.
All in all, the day at VegNews was really wonderful. I hope that we were in some way useful to them!
And! They sent us home with some super nice goodie bags! A VegNews Tote Bag filled with some nice stuff: organic decaf green tea, 3 of the new Luna "tea cakes" (vanilla macademia flavor), 3 very nice different soaps - coconut lime, peppermint, and a citrus, Sunshine bakery chocolate chip shortbread cookies, some citrus guarana mints, a package of sesame-garlic mochi, and a cherry macademia pecan cookie! YUM!
After the yoga class, I scooted on over to Millenium Restaurant... to meet my fabulous friend JJTWH for a fabulous vegan gourmet dinner! 5 Stars! This place is so pricey and so outrageously good!
For a drink, I had some local white grape juice with added sparkling water and mint leaves. So superb!
I ordered the Spring Strawberry Salad - strawberries, hazelnuts, radishes, beet strands and spring greens. Very light and lovely.
That said, JJTWH's salad took the grand salad prize - it was AMAZING! I forgot to write down the elaborate and gorgeous names of all the dishes, but her salad is listed on the website:
"Wilted Bloomsdale Spinach & Dandelion Green Saladgreen tea-miso glazed tofu, orange-ginger tamari vinaigrette, burdock-hijiki kimpura, kumquats" (aka GREAT!)
JJTWH's entree was an exotic indonesian-flavor dish with tofu and rice and lotus seeds and countless other amazing flavors, wrapped in a banana leaf. It was very tasty! (of course we tried each other's goodies!)
I LOVED my entree, and only wish I could remember what all was in it. It was a cumin-scented stuffed artichoke with fennel seitan sausage, greens, and some sort of amazing bed of mashed potatoes (or some other root veggie). Absolutely wonderful. Such an artful combo of flavors and textures...
For dessert, JJTWH order the "Lavender Scented Meyer Lemon Shortcakewhite chocolate cream, candied citrus zest & rosemary, jasmine anglaise, orange blossom-clover "honey". So nice, and especially good to have something light and fruity after a big meal.
I ordered this outrageously lovely dessert - a Cherry Marzipan Tartlette with roasted aprium ice cream, kumquats, and caramel sauce. I loved it so much. That roasted aprium ice cream was one of the most alluring things I've ever tasted.
I couldn't stand to be that close and not have something chocolatey... so we also ordered a nice little scoop of their chocolate peanut butter sorbet. It was perfect and delicious. Veins of thick peanut butter, and crunchy bits of cocoa nibs... all in rich creamy chocolate sorbet. Yum!
It was great to see my super cool friend, and to enjoy a long, leisurely, vegan dinner extravaganza together!
Even after all that excitement yesterday, I turned right around for another veggie field trip today! I went over to San Jose and met my friend Jen for a day of exploring San Jose's myriad of ethnic grocers. We started off here, at the Lion Food Center - a huge Chinese/Asian grocery store. For the record, Jen is not really as short as this picture makes her seem!
Wow. The Lion Food Center was crazy amazing!!! SO huge and vast and overwhelming inside. Countless items that I was completely befuddled by, or had no idea at all what I was looking at! How fun! There were many exciting looking non-vegan items, but also a lot of neat vegan finds. Here you'll see an item that I passed on, but was quite intrigued by: Vegetarian Chicken Foot. !!?? Is this an item that one misses upon having become vegetarian? Ha!
Here is the complete haul that I brought home from the Lion Food Center:
2 scallion pancakes, sesame mochi sweets, galanga root, black currant and lychee candies, mirin cooking wine, agar agar powder, dried dou-fu, fresh lychee nuts (I've never tried these before!), canned rambutan fruit, sweet almond jelly, coconut jelly with pineapple, rice paper for spring rolls, vegetable dumplings, roasted soy beans with sesame seeds, bean curd "knots", fried tofu cubes, veggie shrimp (weird! I've never even had real shrimp... but Musty is allergic to shrimp and sometimes mentioned that he would like to be able to eat them... so I thought I'd give them a try), Gula Jawa palm sugar, and a beautiful blue japanese bowl with a bunny on the bottom of it.
Phew! If you have any suggestions for what I should do with any of these products, please chime in and let me know!
Next up, we went to an Indian grocer. Having spent lots of time with Indian friends and 4 weeks in India, I was much more at home there. Familiar ingredients, smells, packaging... ahh. I bought mostly old favorites... with a few new things. Here, I loaded up on:
Sugar coated fennel seeds (Love those!), vegan jellos (pineapple, banana, mixed fruit, and orange flavor), two pudding mixed (pistachio and saffron), 2 bottles of Limca soda, dried limes, pomegranate vinegar, samosa chutney, mint chutney, pea stuffed frozen parathas, frozen flakey parataha, and whole grain frozen chapati, and finally some Napolitanke wafer cookies that Musty and I ate a lot of when we were in Croatia. He was excited to see his old friends!
A little shout out here to the mexi-chain "Unamas!" We stopped in for a quick lunch and I got this roasted veggie burrito. I was really impressed. It was very tasty, choc full o' veggies (corn, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes), fresh salsa, rice & beans, avocado... and easily veganized by asking for no cheese. It tasted very fresh and light too, which is hard to find. Definitely one of the healthiest and most vegan-friendly fast food experiences ever.
Our last ethnic grocery of the day was a sweet and tiny little place called "Middle Eastern Foods." They have lots of stuff there for making Ethiopian food too, included the injera breads... so that's good to know about. For today, I bought some sumac (which I love), and a couple of goodies from Bosnia. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will remember how much I loved Bosnia & Herzegovina when we went there last September. Even while we were there, I looked hard for products made in the BiH - so that i could support there struggling economy. So, I was super excited to find two authentic BiH products today - some Duvec (pronounced jew-vech), a nice veggie mix, and some coffee made in Visoko (I don't drink coffee, but Musty does... so he was pleased).
For dinner tonight I made a great pizza - using some of the stuff left over from our calzones a couple of nights ago: Whole Wheat Trader Joes pizza dough, homemade tomato sauce, vegan ricotta, fresh basil, a sauteed veggie mix (spinach, zukes, green pepper and onion), with fresh tomato. YUM! We loved it!