Almost vegan in San Francisco I
I feel like this has been one of the most eventful weeks of my life—yet it’s only Tuesday!
Many, many thanks to those of you who have congratulated me on my Hot Raw Chef contest win. I’m still a little in shock—I’ve felt simultaneously overwhelmed and elated since yesterday. The well wishes have been pouring in, and please know that although I haven’t been able to respond to all, I’ve read and greatly appreciated every single one. I also want to thank my competitors for being such worthy opponents, and for creating their amazing recipes and videos! If you voted, you should’ve received the e-book by now—isn’t it fabulous?! I now have 43 other incredible raw desserts to try my hand at in the coming months.
In addition to all that excitement,
1) yesterday was Valentine’s Day.
2) today is Matt‘s and my semi-anniversary (1.5 years…I can’t believe it’s already been that long. Then again, I can’t believe it’s only been that long!)
3) we’re in SAN FRANCISCO, baby! And with that, welcome to my newest series of travel posts: picturesque San Fran. The first stop on my self-planned foodie tour will come as no surprise.
As soon as we were checked into our hotel, Matt and I made a beeline for Café Gratitude on Harrison Street. I’ve eyed their menu online many a time, and I was thrilled to finally be able to eat there. It took some willpower to stay away from their merch wall.
To start, Matt ordered an I Am Luscious smoothie, a blend of hazelnut milk, figs, dates, raw cacao, and vanilla, while I opted for a lighter I Am Worthy “Blood Tonic” juice with kale, beet, apple, and ginger.
For his main dish, Matt got the I Am Celebrating special of the day: raw deep-dish pizza! It had mushrooms, pesto, black olive tapenade, and cashew cheese on a thick raw crust, plus a salad on the side. I tried a bite, and it was certainly worth celebrating; salty and full of umami.
I chose the I Am Abundant raw sampler plate, with a spring roll, a buckwheat cracker, spicy cashew nacho cheese on a flax chip, hempseed pesto crostini, sprouted almond hummus, olive tapenade, and a mini cup of raw coconut-curry soup. It was everything I wanted it to be, and then some. The almond toast that formed the crostini was especially impressive; so crunchy!
Dessert was a must, obviously, so we ordered the I Am Bliss chocolate-hazelnut cream torte.
I could tell the chocolate-hazelnut mousse was lightened up with Irish moss paste, which made it ethereally fluffy. The cacao nib-pecan crust and the airy whipped cashew cream made this dessert the total package.
Even though Matt and I didn’t really “celebrate” Valentine’s Day (i.e. no gifts, no cards, no fuss), this meal felt like a celebration. I was happy as a clam.
As satiated as I was when we left, I couldn’t resist getting one more treat to-go…
What can I say, this I Am Joy “rawmond joy” nugget was calling my name!
Coconut, almonds, vanilla, chocolate…yum.
When we returned to our hotel, Matt had to turn right around and head to his conference (the whole reason we’re here to begin with), so no one but me was hanging out in our room when this got delivered to the door…
Spring water and a great big fruit plate, courtesy of Matt’s work! Matt gave me permission via text message to dig in, so the grapes, strawberries, and apple made their way into my tummy over the course of the evening.
The night wasn’t over, though—no, sir! Matt returned around 8:30, and since we were both pretty ravenous, we hopped in a cab and skipped on over to Café Gratitude’s sister restaurant, Gracias Madre. VEGAN MEXICAN!
This restaurant was simply made for me. Vegan. Organic. Mexican. And the Virgin Mary was everywhere! (Little-known fact: I casually collect Virgin Mary “memorabilia,” especially Latin-themed items. And nope, I’m not religious in the least.) I wanted to buy one of their hoodies SO badly, but alas, at $45 a pop, I just couldn’t justify it. Instead, Matt and I got a bottle of their house wine, and I’m taking the bottle home to add to my Mary collection. I also sipped (or rather, downed-in-less-than-five-minutes) a glass of creamy, sugary horchata, a favorite of mine.
In our hungry haste, Matt and I decided to split an appetizer first.
We got the Gorditas, incredibly moist corn patties topped with tomatillo salsa, avocado, cashew sour cream, and cilantro. Major wow.
For his main dish, Matt elected for the Enchiladas con Mole, which were mole-sauce-doused open-face tortillas topped with mushrooms and cashew cheese, served with sautéed greens and refried black beans.
I chose the Platillo de Legumbres, with rajas (roasted poblano chile strips sautéed with onion), calabaza (butternut squash roasted with garlic and olive oil), refried black beans, and brown rice. Oily, greasy, and heavy? Yes. Absolutely, soul-satisfyingly amazing? YES.
Surely we didn’t get dessert after all this, right? Wrong! (Come on, we’re on vacation!) We split a plate of Mexican Wedding Cookies with dulce de leche ice cream. I can hardly believe this entire meal was vegan—no lard, no cheese, no cream, yet utterly authentic and delicious.
I went to bed with a full tummy and a full heart. I hope all of you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day as well! Stay tuned for more San Francisco eats and treats throughout this week.