Southern California’s suburban vegan oasis: Falkner Winery in the Temecula Valley! »
Swept up in a turn of events I didn’t fully anticipate, I have found myself living in Southern California’s Temecula Valley for the last two and half months. Soon I will be relocating to Los Angeles, but Temecula will always hold a special place in my life. For one, my sister, bro-in-law and niece live here; and two, there’s vegan fun to be had! It hasn’t been a breeze, navigating menus around here, as cheese is SPRINKLED ON EVERYTHING, WHY WHY WHY?! The Yardhouse was not as vegan-friendly as I had hoped, though their cocktails are pretty spectacular. PF Changs was a sweet relief in terms of ordering, but I carried around a salt-bloat for days. Suburban vegans, I have never given you the credit you deserve when it comes to eating out (all the phone calls and questions!), so this is me giving you mad props!
Temecula, however, does have a few local spots that cater to vegans. One of those places is Falkner Winery. Falkner Winery not only has a delectable vegan and gluten-free menu at their restaurant, all of their wines are vegan too! This is fantastic news, as Temecula is known for it’s bountiful vineyards and wine-tasting excursions.
My mom is all about the logo glass, more so than the wine itself!
I emailed Falkner Winery to be sure they did not use animal products in the processing of their wine, and was thrilled by their friendly and rapid response. Ray Falkner addressed my inquiry by stating, “we do not use any animal products in either the fining or filtering process. We also never add any animal products along the way in the winemaking process.” Let the tasting begin!
Even though I usually go for white, I loved this peppery Syrah. Of course if you can, you should check out the vineyard. But if you aren’t in the area, you can buy a bottle through the magic of the internet!
Of course I also had a meal at Falkner Winery’s Pinnacle restaurant, because a girl can’t live on wine alone (though she may try!). I had the sweet and sour vegetables (picture below). They were scrumptious! This feast includes shaved Brussels sprouts, kale, and a lemon risotto cake, which I was assured, by our charming waiter, was vegan. Brussels sprouts are sure having their day, aren’t they? [Ed. note: Jenny, you’re so seven years ago.]
Pinnacle Restaurant’s Sweet and Sour vegetable dish.
Should you find yourself in Temecula, as I know a couple of you have, check out Falkner Winery and their Pinnacle restaurant. Not only is the food and wine excellent, but the vineyard is beautiful, with expansive and lovely views!
It’s been a pretty chilly 67 degrees in SoCal, so I needed a little something to warm up! AHAHAHAHA, just kidding, I wear tank tops everywhere, only to be met with a concerned, “Aren’t you cold?” NO WAY! I JUST MOVED HERE FROM SAN FRANCISCO! (And before that Chicago! And before that, Humboldt County! This is the eternal summer phase of my life! But yeah, actually, I could’ve used a light sweater, I just didn’t bring one, me having so many assumptions about southern California and everything.)
The truth is, I’ve been eating out with my family at a bunch of restaurants that serve clam chowder and it’s left me with a hankering for a vegan version. So thank you, Isa! This Glam Chowder, as with all of your recipes, is awesome. Plus, I’m super into it being soy and gluten-free to boot! My pal Amanda texted me awhile back, letting me know this recipe was bomb; I just want to say “Thanks, girl! You were right! Hey, can you send me some of your future-award-winning jalapeño mac’n cheese? It would be so greatly appreciated! XoXo.”
Bright Star in Rancho Cucamonga: Go there! »
It’s my last week as a resident in the Bay Area, and while I am reminiscing about my life as a NorCal girl, I am very excited to begin new adventures in the city of angels! I was the last Vegansaurus contributor left in the bay, where this blog started, and now I’m leaving! Oh well, things change, right? At this very moment my life is in boxes in my parents’ garage, so yeah, I’d say things change.
Before I make it to LA however, there will be a month-long pitt-stop in Temecula, where members of my family are starting to relocate. I am trying to convince my mom that we would have a blast visiting the Temecula wineries, as neither of us has gone wine-tasting before. Since she only enjoys white zin, I’m sure you can imagine that my convincing, begging and pleading, is not going very smoothly. If you have any tips for me about how to go about vineyard crawling, or want to join me in sampling all the vino Temecula has to offer, it would be greatly appreciated. We’ll discuss in Disqus below.
Alright, on to the point of this post! In June of 2012, my sister picked me up from Ontario airport and gave me a list of vegan restaurants in the area we could stop at on the way to her place. After closely examining a few menus I chose Bright Star in Rancho Cucamonga! I’ve been promising my little sis I’d do a recap of our meal, as we both loved it, and as a lady of my word, almost two years later, it’s here! Another note about our trip: I sang Rancho Cucamonga to the tune of La Cucaracha over and over again. She laughed every time. She was also about six months pregnant, so I’m guessing her maternal instinct must have set in big time because normally she has no patience for my shenanigans (I don’t blame her).
All of the details of my family life aside, I am grieving moving away from my beloved Bay Area, but am very excited to eat my way through southern California! Okay fine, I’m excited about much more than that, like, somewhat affordable rent for a studio apartment, warm beaches, celebrity sightings and Temecula wine tours. Alright, alright, alright, without further ado, I present you with one of the restaurants I am most looking forward to revisiting when I get down south: Bright Star Thai Vegan restaurant!
They have miso soup! I love miso soup and I hardly ever get to order
it when I go out!
Tempura vegetables with vegan shrimp! I was SO STOKED!
I got the orange chicken dinner special, which came with salad, a spring roll, fried brown rice and the miso soup pictured above. All this for $8.95! I am not the biggest fan of rice, so I gave it to my sister and I think I must’ve been able to eat most of the tempura veggies in return. We are the perfect dinner companions!
My sister got the Bright Star Pad Thai with soy chicken. She is not vegan, and possibly what you would refer to as a picky eater. However, she is a fan of soy chicken and kept exclaiming “I can’t even tell this is vegan!” with a huge smile on her face.
We were so happy with our visit to Bright Star! I was delighted about my sister being into vegan food, I tried to see how far I could push this thing. We tested another one of my favorites, Food For Lovers queso and she liked it! She took me to my first Fresh and Easy, where I found Gardein chicken and overly-packaged vegetables, so we had vegan taco night at her house, with her hubs and cutie-pie sister-in-law!
The Gardein chicken tacos were a hit and I have also been just looking for any excuse in the last year and half to show this picture off.
Bright Star is located in Rancho Cucamonga along with Viva la Vegan’s original store! You can make a whole vegan afternoon of it all! Side note: I get really tired of Thai food because it feels like that’s all everyone wants, all the time, but I thought Bright Star really rose above what I am used to. We also went to Earth Bistro while I was in Temecula, but I only like to spend my time writing about things I enjoyed. I’m thinking they might be worth another shot since I’ll be in town for a month, but my sister and I were not pleased.
You can find Bright Star Thai Vegan Cuisine at 9819 Foothill Boulevard, Unit F, in Rancho Cucamonga. You can reach them by phone at 909 980 9797.