Squeezing the last few hours out of San Francisco – Souley Vegan… and Cinnaholic!

Hello throwback Tuesday ( I know, I know, it’s not a real thing), where I hopefully recap all of the awesome food related stuff we did in December/ early January. To Recap (and to keep myself organized), up until this point in San Francisco, we had visited: – Millennium – Happy birthday to me! – St. Francis Fountain – Brunch of Champions – Souley Vegan – Amazing vegan Soul Food in Oakland – Herbivore – Brunch of okay. – Gracias Madre – Delicious food with a side of sexism. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming: There is one thing I really enjoy about being on the west coast now that I’m so accustomed to the east coast time zone, and that’s waking up earlier than most people. Especially on those days when you just want to cram every moment with something. Well, 5am on Saturday morning is not really that exciting, but there is time to read emails, and catch up on all the online stuff we missed while gallivanting around the city. I sat, sipping complimentary tea in a lounge, watching some of the early risers slowly make their way down for coffee service. We made a point to pack up most of our things the night before (really – because who wants to run around trying to locate that missing shoe immediately before you have to leave?) As planned, we were going to have one last meal at Souley Vegan, a quick BART ride over to Oakland ,and we were there. The familiar sign in the distance,…

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Goodbye San Francisco – Hello Gracias Madre

In another edition of throwback Tuesday, where I hopefully recap all of the awesome stuff we did in December. To Recap (and to keep myself organized), up until this point in San Francisco, we had visited: – Millennium – Happy birthday to me! – St. Francis Fountain – Brunch of Champions – Souley Vegan – Amazing vegan Soul Food in Oakland – Herbivore – Brunch of okay. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming: The last night in San Francisco, and I wanted to spend it with JC and enjoy the vegan Mexican food at Gracias Madre. I had a lovely time, and great food on my last visit in 2010, so I wanted to share that same positive experience with my Love. Unfortunately, there was some server weirdness as soon as we were seated.

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A slow and lazy afternoon in San Francisco – Herbivore for Brunch, Presidio & the Golden Gate Bridge

Am I still writing about our December visit to San Francisco and Las Vegas? Yes. Yes I am. There is something about the day before the day you are planning on leaving somewhere. There is that urge to fit in the sightseeing and eating, with the desire to just take it easy and enjoy your vacation. At least there is for me. Maybe it’s because both of us have been to San Francisco before, and done a lot of the tourist stuff, but we decided to take it easy with a languid walk to Herbivore for brunch, followed by a maybe walk over to the Golden Gate Bridge. I noticed the great mural work and street art on previous visits, but as we walked down Geary Street we got to enjoy some interesting tile work and faces, and walked up and down the rolling hills that San Francisco has to offer.

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Vegan Soul Food in Oakland, California – Souley Vegan

I’ve talked about Souley Vegan enthusiastically with anyone that would listen. On my first visit to San Francisco in 2011, I discovered this place, and never wanted to leave. I went to Souley Vegan three times in a week. This time we just went twice (in one week), but it was great both times. The front staff has changed a bit (unsurprisingly with two years passing, and increased success) but they’ve got a good and friendly crew from the person that takes your order at the cash, to the serving staff, to the bartender. The clientele is a great mix of different people, when we went on a Thursday evening, it was busy with lots of chatting families, nerdy looking professionals, and several groups of friends. You walk in and take a look at the menu, order and pay at the front desk, and someone will give you a number on a stick. Food comes out reasonably quickly, even on the night it was busy. We ordered the Everything plate, as I did the first time I visited, and it was appropriate for two people (though we still took stuff back to the hotel anyway.) It comes with a taste of each of their delicious menu items.  Mustard greens, black eye peas, yams, lentils, BBQ tofu, southern fried tofu, potato salad, cornbread, mac and cheese, and southern fried smothered tofu. We added the red beans with rice and the fried okra, and the mashed potatoes with gravy to our order for a…

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San Francisco – St. Francis Fountain

Bright and early Saturday morning we opted to seek out some breakfast. Though most places only opened at 11am. The best/worst part about visiting the west coast, when you’re completely accustomed to east coast time is that you walk up earlier than nearly everyone else, but that also means that walking up to go anywhere is never a problem. Luckily, our hotel accommodated us early risers with coffee and mighty leaf tea bar that started at 6 am, and a selection of four different newspapers to read (and free wifi.) And as an added bonus they had soy milk for coffee and stevia sweeteners available and all the earl grey tea I could drink. I tried asking around for suggestions for breakfast in San Francisco, but didn’t really get any definitive suggestions. I found a place called Sun Rise Restaurant through Yelp that seemed interesting, it had a lot of variety, including Latin inspired tofu scrambles, and tamales, and other tasty sounding options. Wanting to take advantage of the weather (which by our standards was lovely) we opted to walk the 3 miles over to the Mission District. The 24th St Station BART train stops not far from there, so it’s easily accessible by transit. We walked down Market and Folsom, enjoying the street art, murals, and public art spaces all along the way. At around the 2.5 mile point I said “Wouldn’t it be funny if this place was closed because of the holidays?” JC told me it wouldn’t. Well, he was right, at least…

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Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco Birthday Dinner – 5-course tasting menu, wine pairing, custom cakes, oh my.

On December 26th we flew over to San Francisco to celebrate my birthday in the most absurd and delightful surprise way I’ve ever had. After a remarkably straightforward, and easy trip through US Customs, a quick and painless security screening, and a window seat on the air plane on a direct flight, we left behind the storm warnings and cloudy days in Toronto and were basking in the sunshine in SFO. It seems we left right in time, because while I was looking forward to having a bit of snow, the storm front that was hitting Toronto wasn’t my idea of a good time. After checking in to our hotel (a mere block away from Millennium) we relaxed, enjoyed the complimentary wine hour at our hotel, and got ready for dinner. Entering the restaurant is always a bit weird because walking through the Tenderloin area of San Francisco with it’s display of overt poverty, addiction, and illness, in an area full of hotels, tourism, and theaters is quite the contrast. It’s also hard for me not to think about the last time I  ate at Millennium and saw a shooting after dinner. It’s an area permanently blended with weird reality of have and have not, and it’s not something easy to overlook (at least it’s not something I can ignore.)

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August 8th, 2010 – A day I will never forget.

This is going to get dark, and a little/a lot sad. Two years ago, on August 8th, I went to a lovely dinner at Millennium in San Francisco with Gabrielle a fellow PPKer. Unfortunately, that same day is also the one I think about whenever there is a public shooting, because it was the day I experienced being surrounded by gunfire, and watched a women get hit. She died. I never mentioned it in my Millennium review, because I didn’t want such a lovely meal to be associated with something so terrible. Prairie Vegan was also never as personal a blog as this one has turned out to be, it just didn’t belong, and I wasn’t ready to even mention it. Regardless, I still remember every moment of that day in slow motion. Being on the corner of Mason Street and Geary Street and seeing her body on the ground, people running up the street shooting randomly and aimlessly. Chaos. People running, screaming, confused, and scared. I remember dropping to the ground, and hiding behind the newspaper boxes right on the street corner, before it seemed to collectively dawn on the three of us cowering behind them, that those plastic/thin metal boxes were probably not going to make a difference when it mattered. Even though we were comforted by hiding. Some of us slithered into the Jack and the Box while the manager tried to keep people calm, and called the police. I sent out a tweet (typical), and I remember the…

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A visit to Cinnaholic and Gracias Madre.

Two recommendations were brought up during my dinner at Millennium. Cinnaholic, a vegan cinnamon bun place in Berkeley, CA that had only recently opened up, and Gracias Madre, an organic, vegan Mexican restaurant in the Mission area of San Francisco. I went over to Cinnaholic that morning and tried the Old Fashioned cinnamon bun. I’m pretty traditional with my sweet foods (well… I guess as traditional as vegan cinnamon buns can be) and I loved it. The bun was firm on the outside, and soft on the inside, rolled up with an adequate amount of cinnamon sugar. But the icing really sealed the deal, it was magic. Two people were working there, and one of them was great and friendly, the other one not so much. Maybe my questions were irritating, but I was curious and excited to be there. I noted that they didn’t really openly say “vegan” anywhere, and thought that was kind of a good idea. It doesn’t “taste vegan” at all, so why not? They’ve only been open about a month, and as a really nice touch they have a student discount! Which is great considering they are located right outside of the UC Berkeley Campus. I like the idea of custom designing cinnamon bun toppings, but I wasn’t feeling very creative, so I picked up the special of the day, a Butterscotch chocolate chip oreo cookie. It was good, but the old fashioned one was totally my favourite. I jumped on the BART and headed…

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Vegan fine dining at Millennium in San Francisco.

Well, it seems no trip to San Francisco (at least as a vegan with money to spend) is complete without visiting Millennium (580 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA). I’ve heard only good things about it, and I know it’s on the “To Eat” list for many vegans, so I had to take the opportunity to see it. Sunday – Wednesday they have a prix fixe ($39/person), with an optional wine pairing($12/person), so I made reservations for Sunday night, and went with a fellow PPKer. It’s in the Hotel California, and looks like any other fine dining restaurant, but still has a comfortable casual feel. It seemed to rely on natural light, so as the evening progressed it became more difficult to take pictures of the beautiful food. This was the Cornmeal Crusted Fried Green Tomatoes, with a lovage remoulade, picked green cherry tomato & cucumber salad, topped off with tarragon. I liked this quite a bit, but my dining companion got the Salt & Pepper Coriander Crusted Oyster Mushrooms (with a nectarine-kaffir lime lemon grass dipping sauce!!!), and they were AMAZING, but I didn’t get a picture. My friend got the Buckwheat Dosa. It had an eggplant & zucchini masala filling, smoked cardamom & toasted cashew korma (which was delicious), coconut mint chutney and a methi(aka fenugreek), melon & purslane salad. Sure, this isn’t what I think of when I hear dosa, but it was beautifully presented, and tasty. I was glad to get a few bites of it. I…

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Farmers Market San Francisco and another visit to Souley Vegan

Since I was missing the Edmonton Farmers Market on Saturday, and had to fill that void so I walked over to the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmer’s Market to check it out. It had such a huge variety of mostly organic items, and was full of people (a distinct combination of locals and tourists.) One cart had at least five different varieties of nectarines, with samples! Everything was super expensive though, even by my usual Edmonton farmers market standards. There are a bunch of other options in the city, and a lot of them are more economical, but not all of them have organic produce. Of course, my favourite part of the farmers market was actually one of the Ferry Building’s regular features, besides the beautiful view, there is a Pepple’s stand from the vegan donut folks in Oakland. Now, I’ve done the Ronald’s Donuts thing, and I can say they are probably my favourite donuts (tied with Sweetpea in Portland, OR.) But the Pepple’s people have cake donuts down perfectly. While it’s been over a decade since my last Tim Horton’s Donut, I still use them as a barometer of donuty goodness, and Pepple’s is there. It didn’t taste healthy, or “vegan”, but it wasn’t too sweet, and it had a nice texture and moisture balance. Considering this was just a stand, I bet getting them at the Oakland location would be even better. Maybe next time. Though, I did end up in Oakland again that night, I had…

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