North Bay vegan eats: Slice of Life »
I arrived in California 16 months ago after a four-day trip, with two cats, across the country from New York. When we pulled into town, we were disgruntled, like only a five-hour drive through the blizzarding wilds of southern Wyoming in January can make you, and deeply in need of some comfort and quiet. Through some trick of fate, we ended up by the Whole Foods in Sebastopol on that quickly-darkening and drizzly winter evening, having resigned ourselves to a dinner of cold, prepackaged food. Have I mentioned that I’m a total food snob? I am. Then, as we headed into the bright grocery store from the gloom and damp of the parking lot, I spotted a sign on a small restaurant storefront, tucked snugly between a video store and a hair salon. A cursory glance at the menu confirmed my hopes: Pizza. And it was goooood. I’m not going to lie to you.
Slice of Life, Sebastopol’s comfortable little diner, has since become a staple for us. This all-vegetarian restaurant features a varied menu with macrobiotic salads and platters, Mexican, Italian, all-day breakfast, and, of course, pizza. The pizza’s a little pricey. A large with a few toppings and soy cheese will set you back a cool $30. But the crust and sauce are all fresh and homemade, and they have veggie pepperoni! Bring on the fake meats! Of course, one can’t get a $30 pizza every day of the week—if you can, I want to hunt you down and kill you—so we were eventually obliged to explore the rest of the menu.
Unfortunately for you, I’m so single-minded that I order the same things over and over again. Fortunately for you, that means I am completely qualified to sing the praises of the Slice of Life breakfast menu. Particularly wonderful are the Tofu Om-lets. Though (much to my chagrin) available only on weekend mornings, these are tasty and available in a standard configuration of onions, mushrooms, and cheese or as a Greek version of the same with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. They don’t always get the cheese as melty as I’d like it, and believe me when I tell you I am freaking well acquainted with the trials and travails of melting vegan cheese. I suspect that this is due to their exclusive use of Follow Your Heart mozzarella, which is excellent news for the Daiya-haters among us. (I know you’re out there. I don’t understand your ways.)
Should you find yourself at Slice of Life outside the Tofu Om-let window, don’t despair; order the Tofu Rancheros or the Tofu Parmesan. Add soy cheese to either for a paltry sum and relax back into the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with supporting a vegetarian business. And because you’ve only got just the one life to live, you might was well order a pancake or two. That’s right: vegan pancakes. Incidentally, these are also wheat-free for our grain-challenged friends. Then go home and join me in wondering why pancakes aren’t vegan everywhere. It’s SO FREAKING SIMPLE.
Marla Wick lives in Sebastopol, a small community in Sonoma County, Calif., where people never change out of their yoga pants. She spends her time cooking, baking, knitting, and raging about politics when she’s not working as a freelance editor and writer. She blogs about food, animal ethics, cultural politics, and horror movies at Vegan-Squared and Bully Pulp.
Road Trip THURSDAY (WHAT?): The Stanford Inn! »
This is a Road Trip Thursday because you need extra time to get to Mendocino and back, but you still have time to call in sick to work tomorrow and get away for the weekend. DO IT EVERYONE ELSE IS DON’T YOU WANT TO BE POPULAR?
Okay so. The Stanford Inn is pretty much heaven on earth. It’s heaven if you are healthy and active and want to wake with the sun (PSYCHO) and mountain bike and kayak (CARAZAY) and do partner yoga (I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN) and you’re everything I stand against in this world, BUT it’s also heaven for lazy asses who just want to eat and drink and hot tub and lay around watching premium cable in their enormous bed with billion-thread-count sheets and eat complimentary vegan cookies and bon bons and pet llamas. I call that Living and you can quote me on that. Actually, I think you can technically quote me on everything I put on the internet and kids who are posting nerkid photos of themselves on myspace OUGHT TO THINK ABOUT THAT ONCE IN AWHILE*.
The Stanford Inn is located in Mendocino, about three hours up the Pacific Coast from SF. If you haven’t been to Mendocino, it’s what we like to call “God’s Country.” That is because it is very beautiful and also inhabited mainly by bible-thumping hicks. Those seem to be the two qualifiers for “God’s Country.” Actually, I don’t know about the hicks…that might not be true. I’m mainly talking nonsense. Okay strike that, I’m talking complete nonsense. Mendocino is filled with charming retirees, artists, and hippies and their disaffected youth (aka HOODLUMS). They have several restaurants with more than one vegan option on the menu, and an almost all-veg co-op grocery in an old church. cool.
It’s a little pricey for people in my demographic (i.e. people who live in SF and spend all their money on rent and eating out) but they’re currently running Spring Specials that allow you a gorgeous room for $198 (Mon-Thur) and $228 on the weekends. All rooms include FREE BREAKFAST (and this ain’t continental, you can choose from the menu! Pancakes, waffles, tofu scrambles, amazing SCONES?!—who knew! scones are such a boring non-food but these scones are ridiculous!—also, I love that if you pay for breakfast they charge you extra if you want EGGS. THAT IS CORRECT. Vegan tax in reverse, I love you!) and free rentalsonkayaksandmountainbikesSNOOZE. They also offer this couples special where you get two nights, FREE BREAKFAST AND DINNER at Raven’s Restaurant (the onsite all vegetarian mostly vegan restaurant) and a free massage or facial for $685. Now, I’ve done the math on this and while I’m basically a math illiterate, I believe it’s a very good deal, especially considering that dinner at Raven’s, while not $$$, will set you back about $100 for two people.
Speaking of Raven’s Restaurant. It’s excellent and the chef has a really sassy blog on the Stanford Inn website. I strongly recommend you check it out. He is pissed! He is sassy! He is ONE OF US! The food is not at quite the caliber of Millennium but it’s still VERY good and uses a lot of produce from their own gardens. Very cool. I especially liked the tofu scrambles at breakfast and the pancakes! I love a vegan pancake!
A couple things to note: 1) You will be the youngest people there and if you’re not into that, this is not the place for you. The other guests aren’t stuffy or lame, they’re just hella old like the crypt keeper, you dig? It’s to be expected when you look at the price and then consider that younger people spend their money on strippers, coke and other fun-in-the-moment but ultimately super-lame shit. 2) They have a pool and hot tub that are open 24/7. Midnight slightly boozy underwater handstands? Yes please! They also have a sauna but Jonas couldn’t get it as hot as he wanted it, even after he threw water on the furnace. We are lucky to be alive. 3) Make sure to be around for tea time from 3-4pm when they serve up drinks and homemade snacks like brownies and wraps and crostini and hummus! FREE FOOD AND DRINK DO NOT MISS IT. 4) Head into Mendocino and walk around and then head up the road 10 miles to Fort Bragg and walk around. Apparently Fort Bragg is the place where the first tempeh was cultured in the United States. Hippies. Also, check out the raw food restaurant/raw foods culinary school!? in Fort Bragg. It was really good, especially the ice cream! 5) IF YOU ARE THERE DURING THE WHALE MIGRATION, DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE OCEAN. I never stopped staring at the ocean and now I think I have a lazy eye! Worth it! 6) Also, on the drive up, you’ll pass Anderson Valley Brewing Company. All of their beer is vegan and you can snack on free pretzels and excellent house-made mustard. Perfect rest stop on your trip.
I guess to wrap this bitch up, save your pennies and go to The Stanford Inn. Since it’s about a three-hour drive from SF, you’re going to want to stay more than one night to make it worth your while and that package above looks pretty good. When you consider that you’re supporting an all-veg business in a beautiful place, it should push you over the edge! YOU MUST GO. Tomorrow. So call in sick with ebola** and hit the open road!
*signed, prudy mccheckyourself.
**I actually did this once when I was in college. I got confused, I thought I was saying I had e. coli. Oops!