vegansaurus!

02/07/2013

Let’s Have A Kombucha Kiki!  »

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Kombucha habits are no joke. I’m not especially proud of this, but after several “buch” benders resulting in formidable piles of those slim bottles dominating our recycling bin, I realized I may have a problem. I eventually created a specific kombucha budget in my Mint.com account, watching in shame as the green bar turned to yellow and then red: “you’ve spent $4,000 over your kombucha budget this month!” 

I’ve lived and hung out in enough hippie enclaves to have had unlimited access to kombucha SCOBY’s and even resided in households where kombucha was brewed in our very kitchen, yet somehow I’d never managed to muster the gumption to make a batch myself. Call it lazy, call it denial of the severity of my addiction, but I was scared of kombucha brewing myths like that I’d accidentally create toxic mold or penicillin and kill myself or my loved ones or that it would take 3 months to finish brewing and who has the time for that?

Thanks to Oregon Kombucha company, I now know that my at-home kombucha brewing fears were unfounded. Oregon Kombucha takes all the guesswork out of the myseterious process of kombucha cultivation, and offers simple, time-tested instructions and the all-important SCOBY to get you started.

While not everyone loves Kombucha (Sorry Laura!) Kombucha making at home should be right up there with at-home bean cooking and kale chip dehydrating as top activities to save you money while allowing you to indulge your expensive tastes.

Kombucha requires 5 simple ingredients:

1) The right tea
2) Boiling water to brew the tea
3) Organic sugar
4) Live kombucha culture
5) A 1-gallon jar and clean cloth and rubber band

Oregon Kombucha sent me a free Basic Starter Kit, which includes organic pear ginger black tea and live culture. All you do is add one cup of sugar and boiling water. Pretty easy! I borrowed a cup of sugar from a loved one because I never keep it around the house since I’m pretty opposed to straight-up sugar except when it’s being eaten by a SCOBY in order to convert it to delicious fermented tea beverage.

I bought a 1-gallon jar (it cost me about 20 bucks on Amazon) and filled it with hot tea and sugar. I let the tea cool, added the kombucha culture and the already-brewed kombucha it came with in this cool little vacuum-pack pouch that reminded me of those orange juices in a plastic bags enjoyed (?) during my public school days, and then added the clean cloth and rubber band and left it to do it’s thing by my heater, because apparently kombucha thrives in warm climates.

The whole thing looked pretty pathetic, just this little wad of hardened phlegm submerged in sugar tea. Really, if a booger drowned in a large tea pot and aged 40 years it would look like exactly like a kombucha home brew rig. I got kind of queasy looking at it and considered joining Laura’s kombucha-is-disgusting camp, but I held on to my lunch and my brewing resolve and nearly two weeks later I birthed this awesome batch of kombucha which actually tasted really good! Kinda more tangy than popular brands, I guess that’s because I let it brew for a bit longer than maybe they do. I hear there’s a serious art to kombucha brewing—you can vary the teas used, how long you brew, whether you do fancy things to make it fizzy, etc., but for now I’m satisfied with being a bewildered parent, shocked that my doings led to a life form creation and not wanting to jinx anything by fiddling too much.

With just the cost of sugar and 8 tea bags per batch from now on, plus tons less waste now that it’s a one-jar operation, I’ll have to re-do my Mint budget and languish in the expansive oasis known as my recycling bin. Can’t wait to toast with homemade kombucha at my next kiki! Order your Oregon Kombucha start kit online.

06/16/2011

Vegan summer Shop-Up NYC!  »

After their wildly successful Spring Shop-Up in April, the awesome folks over at Vegan Shop Up are kicking off the summer season with yet another goodie-laden event!
That’s right, you ravenous vegans! The big event is happening this Sunday, June 19—Father’s Day!—at our mega-favorite vegan watering hole, Pine Box Rock Shop, from 1 to 5 p.m. Featuring everything from hummus to skin care, raw ice cream to kombucha, tempeh to truffles, there will definitely be a little something for everyone. Vendors include Green Pirate fruit and veggie juices, Sprout skin care, Gone Pie baked goods and Pretty Monsters soy candles and balms. Empty Cages Collective will be there reppin’ our animal friends, too! So come on out, enjoy a delicious vegan bloody mary and waffle brunch with Dad, and spend some cold hard cash in support of vegan businesses! OR ELSE!

04/22/2011

Vegansaurus Diet: Tamara Palmer!  »

We welcome food writer extraordinaire Tamara Palmer who approached me about doing a Vegansaurus Diet (inspired by Grubstreet’s New York Diet, of course!) and I was beyond stoked. Not only is she one of my favorite food writers, she’s also just a totally rad lady. Oh, she also writes about Too $hort on the regular, so she’s basically living my dream life.

Anyway, I’m thrilled with her addition to our archives, and hope to fill it with more non-vegan food writers, or even writers and bloggers who don’t write about food! Interested? Let me know! Oh plus, if you’re a reader who wants to do one even if you’re already vegan (yay you!), email me with yours! It’s fun! And informative! Yay vegan eating! Now, please enjoy Teemoney’s Week of Living Veganly because this girl eats WELL; I just discovered about 15 new foods I MUST try! Enjoy!

As a freelancer who has written close to 2,000 stories about food just over the past three years, I have chosen to be an editorial omnivore, eating broadly with far more adventure and curiosity than I ever had up until that point. And while my eating habits at home still tend toward the vegetarian, the cumulative toll of many months of decidedly not-vegetarian dinners and food battles was getting increasingly harder to ignore.

It took me more than a month of longing to try the Vegansaurus Diet before I actually did it; one reasonable excuse I’d like to offer was that I had many assignments I did not want to forgo for the experiment. Truthfully, though, a smaller reason is that I also wanted to get my fill of some of my favorite foods first. I realized quickly that those all fell in the dairy category.

I’ve never been a vegan, but I have been a vegetarian, so I thought that would help make it a lot easier. I was wrong! I wouldn’t come to truly appreciate the vast difference between being vegan and being vegetarian until late in the week. My cravings for meat were minimal and pretty much limited to when a few particularly stellar temptations were directly under my nose. But I’d learn mid-week how much my brain thinks it desperately needs dairy; definitely something to address. [Ed.: Casein is no joke! That shit is addictive!]

As I shopped for rations at Rainbow Grocery and Other Avenues, it was nice to be reminded that many of my favorite snacks are vegan. I also had the good fortune to receive a few samples of new and locally made products being carried at Whole Foods’ new Haight Street location in San Francisco and noticed that some of the ones I was most excited about from Love & Hummus and Rocket Ship Ice Cream were vegan.

I decided early on that I would be extravagant about this “diet,” surrounded by amazing snacks at all times so I wouldn’t feel deprived or accidentally screw up. I also wasn’t going to try to reduce my typically mammoth sugar intake, wanting to avoid some sort of heroin-like physical withdrawal. I did want to do well and show how delicious it is for an omnivore to go vegan for a week. Being careful was clearly weighing heavily on my mind: I fell asleep on Saturday night and had a dream that I absentmindedly ate all the wrong things.

Sunday, Apr. 10
I woke up with the assistance of an Amazake Tiger Chai rice shake, an occasional purchase when I think I can handle the caffeine (I drink very little). Lunch was a salad of pea shoots and microgreens topped with Ginger People pickled ginger, carrots, pineapple mint from my back stairs, and crumbled five-spice tofu nuggets from Oakland’s Hodo Soy Beanery. I’m not into tofu at all in general, but after I visited Hodo Soy’s factory to shoot this tour, I learned that I really like the company’s artisan products. I think these nuggets would be good in a morning stir-fry with some peppers, onions, and potatoes. I got some needed crunch with my salad via a handful of Edward & Sons’ rice toasts, the Thai red rice and flax variety. For dessert, I broke off four squares of Mast Brothers 70 percent dark chocolate spiked with Serrano peppers, a treat I smuggled back from my last visit to Brooklyn. [Ed.: Megan Rascal loves their stuff, too!]

A few hours later, I snacked on a Pepple’s blueberry donut, a frequent purchase at Other Avenues. I’m still not buying the story that there wasn’t any drama behind the name change of People’s to Pepple’s, but I do love that blueberry glaze.

For dinner, I heated up two slices of wild mushroom Field Roast, tentatively drizzling some Daiya “mozzarella cheese” on one of them, and fried up some slices of sweet potato for a side dish. I had a bad Tofu-Rella trauma back in the day and have turned a blind eye to fake cheeses ever since, but I’ve read on Vegansaurus and elsewhere how much Daiya is beloved, so I gave it a shot. Not bad. The Field Roast on the other hand—not so good.

Melodi Donahue from OCD Sweets in Napa kindly sent me a big box of her vegan agave nectar caramels to sample after I had fallen in love with her “Vegan Rosalia” tangerine rose caramel a couple months ago. Despite its large size, I polished off an Irish ale caramel stuffed with a big sourdough pretzel in just a few minutes.

The Field Roast wasn’t very satisfying, so I ate a Lundberg rice and popcorn cake and drank a mug of So Delicious coconut milk a bit later.

Monday, Apr. 11
Started the morning with a shot of Tonix coconut water kefir, which is like downing kombucha concentrate. It’ll make you shudder and might put hair on your chest, but it also can add pep to the step. I got in the bad Monday habit of blogging and skipping breakfast, but I felt good after the Tonix.

I escaped for a few minutes to run down to Shangri-La Chinese Vegetarian, which is not only vegetarian and largely vegan, but is also Buddhist and Kosher. I knew that their mu shu vegetables and pancakes were vegan, but I asked just to be sure.

“Vegan? Yes. You want egg or no egg?”
“Um, no egg, please.”

These were just as satisfying as I remembered them to be. Shangri-La’s got very convincing styles of mock meat, if you’re into that sort of thing (I’m not, but I do like the vinegar-y, cabbage-y flavor of the “vegetal goose”).

An afternoon snack blended the savory and the sweet: A handful of wild rosemary almonds from Oren’s Kitchen of El Cerrito and half of a tiny bar of Sweetriot 65 percent dark chocolate with cacao nibs.

I made a hearty dinner with Canaan Organic Fair Trade Maftoul, a Palestinian couscous made with sun-dried wheat, roasted Purple Haze carrots and onions, cilantro, and purple kale and chives from the back stairs, with a squeeze of Meyer lemon and a side of one of my favorite snacks, Kettle Chips in Spicy Thai flavor. Canaan donates a portion of proceeds to a San Mateo-based non-profit for Palestinian women called Rebuilding Alliance.

I got some Vegan Booty for dessert. Not the super-fun and sexy kind, but some lovely coconut toffee with dark chocolate and orange peel from OCD Sweets.

Tuesday, Apr. 12
I remembered to eat breakfast, a hunk of carrot spice teacake from Aunt Nettie’s Bakery of Santa Cruz, and even had a midmorning snack: An Oskri sesame bar with date syrup. I met my friend Jeannie Choe, organizer of the SF Food Wars competitions that I judge, for lunch at Gracias Madre. It was our first time there so we were unaware that the portions (like the prices) are large. A tiny glass of horchata was $5, which I thought was crazy until I tasted and loved it. Still expensive. We made up for it by splitting two appetizers (guacamole con tortillas and gorditas, the latter a fried masa and potato cake) and an entrée (enchiladas con mole with mushrooms and cashew “cheese”). Jeannie was suspicious about the “cheese” until remembering that we awarded second place to a vegan macaroni and cheese entry in the first SF Food Wars, the “Battle Royale With Cheese.” [Ed.: Here’s the recipe for the award-winning Fat Bottom Bakery’s vegan mac & cheese!] We both ate until we were full and I took home a huge box of leftovers.

That epic lunch didn’t stop me from having a decently-sized afternoon snack a couple hours later: A Fuji apple, the last two squares of the Sweetriot chocolate bar, and half of a large peanut butter “creamie” sandwich cookie from Sugar Plum Vegan of Sacramento. The filling was almost too rich, and I had to scrape some of it out, but it was a good treat. Dinner: more Madre.

Wednesday, Apr. 13
Today, I felt cranky for the first time. Not for meat but for cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. I skipped breakfast accidentally and later tried to bat down the cravings with leftover mu shu, a rice cake with crunchy peanut butter, and some handfuls of cardamom-infused granola from Nana’s Natural of Sonoma. Didn’t help much. My afternoon snack was a bowl of pita chips with some spicy harissa-flavored hummus from Love & Hummus and some spicy red velvet chocolate almonds from Lillie Belle Farms.

I was angry when I made an accidental slip-up, taking a swig of Prince Neville’s ginger beer without looking at the ingredients. Once I figured out that it has honey, I put it back in the fridge.

I met Vegansaurus’ HBiC Laura Beck for a dinner at Encuentro in Oakland. We had to push two tables together to fit our chickpea socca, red quinoa salad, “cheese” plate, taquitos (pictured), and Reuben sandwich, which is my kind of dinner. I hate raisins but somehow loved the taquitos, which were stuffed with some form of them. I later learned that this meal is her sort of sexy initiation ritual for omnivores, and I really dug it. We didn’t get to the Reuben so we took it home, and I had a late-night date with it.

Thursday, Apr. 14
Double shot of Tonix coconut kefir water for breakfast. Believe it or not, I still had a little bit of Gracias Madre leftovers so I polished them off along a bottle of Bruce Cost pomegranate hibiscus ginger ale. There wasn’t quite enough for a proper meal, so I kept snacking, first on a rice cake with Justin’s chocolate almond butter on top [Ed.: Try it on matzo!], and then by popping some popcorn and dumping a whole container of Suzanne’s Ricemellow Crème on top like a crack addict. I way overdid the proportions and even encased the kernels in ‘mellow in the race to put this in my face, but it’s a good combo that should be experimented with by people more patient than myself.

I drove back to Oakland to photograph the pre-opening party for Berlyn’s Eatery, where there will often be salads and other vegan options on the small menu. That night featured some rich-looking tofu and black bean soup, but the wait was long and I felt cranky again after taking pictures of some of the omnivorous options. I sped back across the bridge and back to Rainbow Grocery to re-up on the vegan snack rations, grabbing a container of Mari’s veggie gyoza and a package of Just Apples dehydrated apples. Don’t ask me why I didn’t just have a live apple. Still craving cheese, I made a late-night snack of tortilla chips, Daiya, and chopped up a quick pico de gallo.

Friday, Apr. 15
I had a video shoot at Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland for The Feast so I got there a little bit early and sat in my car feeling sorry for myself while I ate a few Shakti cashew diamonds with saffron and popped a couple of Yummy Earth hard candies (why on Earth is alfalfa one of the ingredients?).

Chef/proprietor Tanya Holland made us an omnivorous Creole special, the details of which I’ll politely skip, but I will admit that the smells had me wanting to dive into the bowl and swim around. It didn’t help that her busy cooking line meant that my nose would be no more than a foot away from the dish at all times.

Afterwards, I told my video producer Mike Anderson about my diet and how, despite those moments of crankiness and deep cravings, I think I was experiencing a little bit more energy in general. He suggested I continue for longer than seven days, that perhaps this was just a hint of the stellar energy in store. A great idea, but I could already feel myself looking forward to lifting the restrictions, even if it would mean sacrificing some of this energy.

Mike shot a gorgeous video of the vegan “charcuterie” platter at Berkeley’s Gather restaurant for us last month, and I had fantasies about going there for lunch after our shoot for a leisurely meal, but was overcome by guilt and had to get back to the day’s bloggery.

Back in front of the computer, I settled for a pair of Shi Gourmet’s fresh rice paper Vietnamese spring rolls (a frequent Rainbow purchase), a banana (Fair Trade, Peruvian, to be exact), and a Nature’s Path “peanut buddy” granola bar (dry but satisfactory), followed by a hefty snack a few hours later: A “mini” loaf of Sugar Plum Vegan’s pumpkin pecan quickbread, which is packed with a ton of pureed pumpkin. Like SPV’s peanut butter creamie, it was tasty and almost too indulgent.

After finishing enough work for no one to be mad at me for the weekend, I picked up some friends and rushed down to “Street Food Fridays” at Fabric8. The hope was for some tofu and veggie curry from the Magic Curry Kart, but it had sold out in less than an hour. I hung out for a while and then dropped my friends off so they could go eat whatever they wanted. Bitches.

Back at home and too tired to make a proper meal, I settled on a slightly more elaborate version of the previous night’s nachos, adding some fresh diced pineapple to the pico de gallo.

Saturday, Apr. 16
Began the day with an Amazake Vanilla Pecan Pie rice shake, which is a better choice for me than the Tiger Chai because it doesn’t have any caffeine. I perused my inbox and was lured in by an invitation to check out the private warehouse sale of a gourmet food distributor in San Leandro; soon, my friend Missy Buchanan and I were headed to the East Bay, with plans to hit up the Japanese vegetarian restaurant Cha-Ya back in San Francisco afterward.

Here’s where I admit the big transgression of my heart that happened while on the Vegansaurus Diet: This sale touted a wide variety of French cheeses, offered at wholesale prices, and I hovered around the table for a long time before snapping up two specimens. I also bought two kinds of truffle butter. I don’t know when I became such a cheese or butter enthusiast, but the fact that I couldn’t eat them then sparked a powerful longing.

We arrived at Cha-Ya to the disappointing sight of a “closed for renovations” sign. Although I loved my lunch at Gracias Madre, I had hoped not to return this week just for the sake of variety, but it was just a block away and seemed like the best option for that meat-saturated corridor. It turned out to be a great choice. This time I forked over the unreasonable $8 for the large version of that delicious horchata, and saved by ordering the “ensalada de mango” (pictured) with some side orders of black beans and mushrooms. The “queso fresco” slathered on the Acme baguette that accompanied the salad didn’t taste cheesy, but still helped to carve away at my gnawing craving.

Later that evening, I sliced up a zucchini and a white potato, filled a wok with a generous amount of French black truffle oil I had purchased at the warehouse sale (which made me realize I didn’t need to buy that stupid butter), and fried them up until they were no longer nutritious (perfect). I washed it down with a bottle of pomegranate kombucha from Kombucha Botanica of Santa Cruz.

Inspired by this recipe from Peaceful Table, I had wanted to try to make a vegan tapioca pudding all week and finally made the time to do it on Saturday evening. I followed the measurements of the recipe but used coconut milk instead of soy milk, added some chopped Fuji apple, and the last four squares of my spicy Mast Brothers dark chocolate. This dessert was the revelation of my week, hands down. Not only is it ready slightly quicker than the conventional method, it is vastly easier with, to me, negligibly similar results since you can skip all the steps of separating the egg whites from the yolks and adding different amounts of each at different times. I’m thrilled to know I can avoid that tedium and have delicious, healthy results.

I almost forgot that I had been saving my Rocket Ship chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream that I had gotten at Whole Foods for last, so I sampled some even after I downed a big bowl of tapioca. Supplier of ice cream to San Francisco’s fine vegan restaurant Millennium, I was instantly hooked on the flavor and consistency of the ice crystals. I buy a lot of non-dairy frozen desserts and will be adding this to the rotation.

I deliberately did not set my Vegansaurus Diet up like a “cleanse,” but I did emerge from it all with a noticeably lighter feeling. The lack of dairy was what my brain told me was the biggest deprivation, even as I realized I don’t need it for actual survival. Yesterday, I told my father (who I actually love a whole lot) that I would throw him under the bus for an early shot at a double-cheese pizza; later, the thought of having a midnight pizza party got me through the rest of today. My cravings for/loyalties to dairy are alarming me, so I am going to go drown them in more coconut milk tapioca pudding now.

Tamara Palmer is the food editor for The Feast SF Bay Area and a contributor to SFoodie and Bay Area Bites. We dig her a lot. All photos from Tamara, except the Rocket Ship ice cream and Pepple’s Donut from Yelp!

03/26/2010

Spice economics, school lunch wars, pretty clothes, the politics of animal protection and MORE in today’s link-o-rama!  »

Nightmare blog: Fed Up with Lunch, in which an anonymous public school teacher buys lunch every day in the cafeteria, photographs it, and discusses how in/edible it is. She also has guest-bloggers, and supports the Healthy School Lunches program, because seriously this “food” is vile and nearly inedible.

Fun-times vegan-style events!
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution premiers tonight on ABC at 8 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific), and you can watch the first episode right now online, too.

Tomorrow, Saturday Mar. 27 Mission Street Food is having a vegetarian night, with many vegan options available! We know, we know, and you don’t have to go, but when they make vegan food it is very good, so.

The LGBT Army of Compassion will hold a “peaceful demonstration” against animal cruelty on Sunday, Mar. 28 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Northeast corner of the Heart of the City Farmers Market at U.N. Plaza. Click here for further information.

Greens is throwing a huge party for its 30th anniversary, which is a huge deal, as Greens was the very first haute vegetarian cuisine restaurant. The “gala” will be at the San Francisco Zen Center on Saturday, Apr. 10 from 7 to 10 p.m., preceded by a reception at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for the “pre-reception” cost $50; tickets for the gala, $200; combined, $225. If you want to take me, I’ll go—I have lots of nice dresses and shoes! Though there’s a better chance of my putting out if we just go to Millennium, because hi, all that’s vegan.

Items of social and political import!
Do you live in the Berkeley area? Do you need a part- or full-time job? Maoz Vegetarian is hiring!

Tobey Maguire helped open a Teaching Garden in Inglewood, Calif. this week, in support of the Child Nutrition Act (Healthy School Lunches Program, what!). Hooray!

Food banks like Meals on Wheels have been delivering pet food along with human food, because broke people can’t feed themselves or their animals.

Help save wolves, before Sarah Palin guns them all down for high ratings on the T.V. You read the news, you know I am not kidding.

Would you like to hear a story about the popularity of chicken wings? It’s vile! Especially the part about how they make “boneless” chicken wings, puke.

How about an odd, lovely essay regarding hummingbirds and mid-19th-century American writers?

The talented, beautiful, amazing Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart of Vaute Couture has a feature on vegan fashion on Oprah.com.

H&M launched its Garden Collection this week, clothes made of organic and recycled materials. Go on, look at the pretty things. [link from SuperVegan!]

This is the titular Oliver, of The Daily Oliver, not enjoying riding the subway in his “travel case.” There are pictures of him looking happier but come on, THAT FACE.

It’s conclusive: high-fructose corn syrup is much worse for you than regular sugar. Unfortunately science proved this by feeding obscene amounts of HFCS to rats. The scientists who performed the experiments sure look happy, though!

Foreign Policy would like to know why it’s cool to protect elephant ivory but not bluefin tuna or sharks. The answer: the economic/political status of the countries on either side of the issue.

In China, the latest national economic bubble is in the garlic market, while gangs are smuggling saffron into India.

In Taiwan, the Ministry of Education has recommended schools serve one vegetarian meal per week, for environmental and health reasons.

Ol’ Gavin Newsom wants to convert unused public land in San Francisco into gardens, which is great, but also “easy-to-assemble chicken coops,” which is ridiculous. Let Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns tell you about how raising backyard chickens is not all scattering feed from a bucket and communing with your hens.

Kombucha: it solves all your health problems, forever, and you can make it in your closet. All the hippest hippies in the Bay Area are brewing it.

The state of Maryland is really pissed about oyster-poaching, and has seriously increased the penalties for violators. Poachers blame the crackdown for their poaching, because everyone loves a good “vicious circle” argument!

Mormons love Jell-O! Especially things like “shredded carrots, peas, and cubed ham—in gifts of Jell-O molds.” This is the Lord’s Food, y’all.

Would Mormon Jesus want you to "green up" your sex life? Vegansaurus does, duh.

01/20/2010

"Beautifull!" open in the Inner Sunset  »

If you haven’t been acquainted, “Beautifull!" is a semi-recent addition to the Bay Area’s "fresh, healthy" prepared foods scene. I’d had their stuff before, since they’ve catered some work-related events and also sell to-go foods in the Capay Organic store in SF’s Ferry Building. It’s decent stuff for pre-packaged food; it’s clear they use quality ingredients and make it as wholesome and appetizing as cold prepared foods can be. I think their main kitchen is in Emeryville, but they also have a retail store/restaurant in Stroller Heights, at 3401 California St. That is a genius location for them, as they no doubt do gangbusters business selling kombucha, quinoa/edamame salad and salmon filets to busy rich skinnies with nannies moms-on-the-go.

So, this new location, 816 Irving St. between 9th & 10th Avenues, is mostly of interest to me because it is half a block from my house. The thing is, there are about 100 other things to eat within a one-block radius, and in light of this, Beautifull! (don’t forget the exclamation!) is pretty-good-to-OK, for the price.

Let me break it down for you: the format of the store is basically an exact replica of Whole Foods’ prepared foods area. The main menu features are pizzas (whole wheat crust, natch), sandwiches, curry/rice bowls, and cold-case things like fruit salads, couscous salads, and a lot of meat and fish choices (so relevant, right?). It’s priced very similarly to Whole Foods, and there is a wall of cold prepped dishes for you to heat & eat at home, soups, and bottled kombucha. They also have some baked goods like big cookies and muffins. (None of the baked goods are vegan, just FYI. But if you’re vegetarian, try the blueberry ginger muffin or spelt peanut butter cookie.)

On the plus side, it’s good to have a place that is at least conscientious of the ingredients and wants to help you find something nutritious and veggie to eat, and I think it’s good to have these places penetrating the mainstream and opening new branches. The ladies working there are SUPER-friendly, and it is completely wack that their POS system doesn’t allow you to add a tip to credit card purchases. Seriously, that is a bad management decision. But anyway, they were very informed on what was vegan vs. vegetarian, and very helpful with choosing menu items. You can sample anything, as much as you want. Other positives: they deliver orders over $50 and their catering menu has a few more vegan options—I’ve gotten their catering at my office and had great experiences with it.

Many things you will want to eat are vegetarian but not vegan. I could see this being very frustrating for you, the vegan. However, I can attest that the Moroccan Butter Bean Tagine and Thai Vegetable Curry would be delicious choices for you or anyone.

The cold case is a good place for vegans, too. I got a half-pint of the kale and arame salad for $2.40, and considering that eating cold kale is a bit like going into battle, it was a decent price for a side dish that lasted me two meals. Beautifull!’s Red Quinoa & Edamame salad is a signature for them, and very enjoyable as well.

So fundamentally, if you’re a fairly well-versed home chef or a very strict vegan, you might not really have much use for it. Their food is pretty simple, and not beyond the capabilities of your average food blogger, but they use good ingredients and it could be handy for a night you don’t feel like cooking. I wouldn’t call it a “destination” or sit-down restaurant.

And I feel slightly nervous for them, because their menu is huge and varied (not really sustainable from a cost-containment standpoint, for most restaurants), and a lot of what they’re selling is duplicated in existing, well-loved neighborhood places. Often, as with the thai curries, you can get these elsewhere in the ‘hood for cheaper at ethnic dives (although maybe without such explicit access to the ingredient list—every item at Beautifull! lists all the ingredients in plain sight.) Some of us in the ‘hood had hoped for a replacement option for the now-closed Cafe Gratitude, and this isn’t exactly it, though you can get a bowl of veggie curry over brown rice, quinoa or couscous, for about $10 (which is admittedly less than Gratitude’s, with a lot less fanfare involved in procurement).

10/05/2009

Kombucha ON TAP at new Noe Valley Whole Foods. What are we, Santa Cruz!? Oh, the humanity! Actually, totes don’t mind, luv SC 4 eva!

Oh also, notice in the case to your right, top row. those are the new vegan donuts that come in tons of flavors and are only 99 cents. They are a blatant rip off of Pepple’s Donuts but they’re less than a buck. SO TORN.

Kombucha ON TAP at new Noe Valley Whole Foods. What are we, Santa Cruz!? Oh, the humanity! Actually, totes don’t mind, luv SC 4 eva!

Oh also, notice in the case to your right, top row. those are the new vegan donuts that come in tons of flavors and are only 99 cents. They are a blatant rip off of Pepple’s Donuts but they’re less than a buck. SO TORN.

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