vegansaurus!

05/07/2009

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!

10/24/2008

Road Trip: Mineral in Murphys!  »

Okay Bay Area fat-asses, time for a road trip!

Murphys, California is about a two-hour drive from SF, or maybe more if you obey the rules of the road. Not me! I drive like a bat out of hell because YOUR LAWS DO NOT APPLY TO ME, I MUST BE FREE! Also, I have no regard for human life, yours or my own. However, should an animal cross my path, I will cause a 10-car pileup to avoid hitting it. I am a total asshole. Murphys the quaintest, cutest, most adorable, pinch-its-cheeks-and-show-me-where-the-hookers-lived little Gold Rush town in all of creation. I seriously love anything and everything having to do with the Gold Rush. If I could be alive during any other time, I would choose to be Queen Victoria. After that, I would choose to live during the Time of the Unicorns. After that, I would choose to live in a gold-mining town in the Sierra foothills. I would most likely mine billions of dollars’ worth of gold and spend the rest of the day sunbathing and eating bonbons. In the evenings, I would do it with lots of hookers and have shootouts with my twin brother, who looks just like me but is EVIL. My name would be Wild Laura Quick Draw. Seriously, does anyone have a DeLorean?

Anyway, things you expect to find in Murphys are: antiques shops; things with “Frog” in the title (it’s Mark Twain country, baby!); Local Experts on the Gold Rush who might also be Skeevy Old Dudes Who Want to Do It with You; more antique shops; people who collect things like “Mountain Man Doll” (see photo—it’s great); wineries, a.k.a. FREE ALCOHOL; and more antiques shops. Oh, and a few cowboy/biker bars because rape was really big during the Gold Rush. Listen, I never said history was pretty.

One thing you might not expect to find is ONE OF THE BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANTS I’VE EVER EATEN AT. Jigga what? THAT IS CORRECT. Jigga who? YOU HEARD.

Mineral is an intimate (read: hella teeny tiny), super-cute vegetarian restaurant right on Murphys’ Main Street. Yes, it is called Main Street. I told you this town is fucking adorable. Inside, it gets even better. The lighting is amazing, even dogs* would look super-hot in this space. It has an exposed kitchen so you can watch the chef do his thing, and his thing is making the most goddamned delicious food you ever sunk your fat face into! Some of the food was so good, words failed me. It’s kinda like a fancified California Cuisine, I guess? My menu favorites were the Red Miso and Mexican Lime Bisque with House Made Smoked Tofu, Potato Coriander Seitan in a Hemp Fondue with Chive Oil, and Indian-Spiced FRIED CHOCOLATE. HELLO! Everything is vegetarian and most everything on the menu is vegan or can be made vegan. I went to dinner with some talkative bitches but I’m telling you, the entire meal was basically silent with the exception of a few “HOLY SHIT!”s.  I don’t know how to grammatically work “HOLY SHIT”s out so I’m moving on.

Afterward, the chef and waitress/hostess/co-owner sat with us and shared some wine and we talked about how amazing they are. They are both completely down to earth and sweet and welcoming and fantastic. It’s not the cheapest place I’ve ever eaten but it’s on point with the other nice restaurants in the area, and when you see the quality of the organic, local ingredients they use, it’s more than reasonable. Apparently the lunch is off the hook too with the best homemade veggie burgers on EARTH. I tried to get back but didn’t make it out of bed on time and they close at 3 p.m. for lunch. WHAT? I WAS ON VACATION.

If you are a veggie or vegan or AWESOME in the Bay Area or Sacramento (it’s only about an hour from Sacto and don’t you want to get the fuck out of Sacramento anyway?!), I definitely advise a road trip up to this area with a must stop at Mineral for both lunch and dinner. Also, if you bring a lady friend, you will totally get laid. Just saying.

*ugly people, not real dogs, that is a health code violation!

[photos by the author]

10/03/2008

Road Trip: Ubuntu in Napa!  »

Sometimes you just want to get the fuck out of dodge. On occasion, we’ll feature different veg-friendly places to visit and dine that are within an hour or two from SF. Let’s start with Napa because I’m a classy drunk. LET’S GET WASTED! SHOW ME YOUR BRA! WOO!

I’ve been to Ubuntu three times and look forward to a fourth visit like it’s my job.  

First visit
A really wonderful, super-romantic dinner. The food was delicious and perfect, especially the coconut watermelon basil soup. That soup is ridiculous. It will change your life. It’s better than the sex (that you have, most likely. Not me, I am amazing at sex). It is like drinking the blood of virgins. Eating it is what winning gold at the Olympics must feel like. The wine list is filled with sustainable, organic and biodynamic (wtf does that mean?) wines. The prices were totally reasonable based on quality of service and food. I didn’t see one heifer doing yoga. Just the thought of a Skinny White Bitch running around with a yoga mat under one arm and a little crop-top (YARG) that says “namaste” on it is enough to make me lose my shit/lunch so plus-multiple-stars for that. I cannot hang.

Second visit
Holy shit, why am I impossible to take out in public?  I did quite a bit of wine-tasting with my friends Maria, Ed and Suzanne in downtown Napa before (including one place that I thought was a free tasting room but was actually a bar! Oops, we have to pay for that?! Thank God I have fabulous slut friends who are willing to exchange numbers for many bottles of free wine!) and so wasn’t entirely prepared to enter a classy establishment for dinner.

DO NOT INFORM THE HOSTESS THAT YOU ARE DRUNK WHEN YOU ARRIVE. You will be rightly cut the fuck off.  it went a little like this:
Hostess: Hello!
Laura: I’m DRUNK!
Hostess: OK, what’s the reservation under?
Laura: I’m DRUNK!
Maria: It’s under “Ed.”
Laura: HE’S DRUNK TOO!!! HAHAHA!
…and so on and so forth. Don’t worry, I hate me too.

Once seated, we were politely and tactfully informed that we were being cut off because of my outburst and the, you know, being openly intoxicated in a nice restaurant thing. the wait staff and management at Ubuntu handled it VERY well. They never made us feel unwelcome or called out or anything like that.  and the food helped. I swear, everything tastes even more amazing when you’re drunk. That is, it tastes amazing until you want to die. I wanted to die right before dessert so I headed out to the car to take a power nap. It felt so good, I can’t even tell you. We then headed back to the city and don’t worry for my safety and for the safety of others, kind Vegansaurus readers, I didn’t drive! Ed was sober sister and is an excellent driver and made an amazing mix CD.  if you’ve never seen Maria and Ed perform Usher’s “Love in This Club,” you are missing the fuck out. You have not lived until Ed has looked you in the eye and told you he wants to set you free, sexually, emotionally, mentally, physically. Or however it goes [Ed.: “physically, mentally, sexually, emotionally”]. It’s hot, trust me. I think they’ll be doing it tomorrow at Temple bar, in fact. You should totally be there.

Third visit
To celebrate my friend Joel’s recent entrance into adulthood a good 10 years before his time (i.e., buying a house at 25. OVERACHIEVERS! UGH!). The food was equally as delicious this time and I remember it all very well. The soup remained the star of the menu—who knew that coconut and watermelon and basil and edible flower = magical magicallity. Well, I guess I do now and so do you. We had more of the delicious chickpea fries, the creamy polenta was delicious as was the farro (far less saltier this time, I wonder if they’d gotten complaints?) and finished it off with the super-tasty almond milkshake and yummy mini-vegan carrot cake cupcakes.

The cupcakes are not on the regular menu so make sure to ask for them—beg if you have to! Actually, they only have ONE vegan dessert on the regular menu and it’s some whack shaved ice shit. I mean, it’s good but COME ON. One vegan dessert at a vegetarian restaurant* isn’t enough. I guess that’s my only complaint. That and the soup isn’t endless, like at the Olive Garden (those people are geniuses!).

In conclusion: Ubuntu. Delicious when sober. Delicious when drunk. Delicious for dinner. Delicious for lunch.  Please someone send that into the New Yorker poetry editor, kthx!

*sorry, “vegetables” restaurant! they don’t like the term “vegetarian,” I guess it turns off the snob foodies and the snob foodies LOVE this place. It annoys me that they don’t embrace “vegetarian” but hey, the New York Times named it one of the 10 best new restaurants in the country. I’m sorry but that’s fucking awesome for a vegetables restaurant.

UPDATE 10/5/10: Not so much enamored with Ubuntu anymore. We sad.

[interior photo via yelp; food photos by Joel, of Joel and Nibbler]

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