There was a time where I made hopeless fun of Jesse. You see, we were going to New York City on our first trip to the East Coast together, and we were making plans for what to do there. I had visions of Broadway, and Times Square, and maybe an art museum, but Jesse… Jesse had compiled a list of restaurants to eat at. The only other item on the agenda, aside from visiting his aunt, was to go to a Yankees game.
It turns out that when Jesse travels, the number one thing he wants to do is eat. The second thing he wants to do is watch sports, and all of this makes me smile and laugh a little inside. Turns out that in all my alternative glory, I managed to attract a traveling companion who is very much the stereotypical man on the road. And I am hopelessly in love with him. Who would have thought?
Ironically though, when I booked my Amtrak and megabus tickets to the San Francisco women’s march, my first thoughts were of food. Where and what was I going to eat?! Turns out that veganism makes me hungry for more than just vegetables. Sacramento, while in California, does not have that many vegan centric restaurants. Often times, as a minority in the diet department, I am regulated to the same types of flavors and cuisines whenever I venture forth from my own kitchen. It reminds me of the days when all I could get as a vegetarian was eggplant parmesan, except the vegan version of that is salad and thai food. With such scarcity, vegan centric restaurants have almost a religious appeal. The tastes, the sounds, a whole menu that I can partake in! Not to mention, being surrounded by those who share my values.
Maybe, making a list of restaurants isn’t such a silly thing to do. With that outlook in mind, and a whole solo day in San Fran, I set about making a plan….
First Stop: Goodwill
Not planned, but this place was going out of business and was huge! On my way to planning a reduced wardrobe, which meant popping some tags for well fitted items. Don’t you love recycling for only $5 an item?
The (real) First Stop: Dante’s Weird Fish
I spent hours trying to pick a lunch spot in San Fran. Hours. Sure, I could have just gone to Gracias Madre like everyone else, but how easy is vegan Mexican? On that note, I crossed off the list any Asian vegan restaurant. Come on San Francisco! A tofu stir fry was one of the first vegetarian/vegan dishes I learned to create. I want passion! I want flavor! I want quirky that I would never dream of making by myself!
Now, you won’t find Dante’s on any popular San Fran vegan blog. I found this bad boy by a street by street google search. It’s also confusing because this place has two names: Urban Fish and Dante’s Weird Fish. Whatever. Either way, have you ever heard about any other restaurant specializing in sustainable and vegan seafood? No? Isn’t it great? Not to mention, their menu is full of quirky. With menu sections entitled “Condemned to Fry” and “Misery Loves Company”, and a dish called “Heil Seitan” I mean come on! Who wouldn’t want to go?
Super excited, in San Fran with my hiking shoes, I almost walked past the restaurant. This place is a hole in the wall, done up in dark furnished wood and baby blue paint. One o’clock on a Saturday had the place in full swing, with sign carrying, mimosa drinking brunch goers, chanting “Fuck Trump!” Ah, so these are my people, I thought to myself while sliding in to the last open table.
The single server was a little harried looking, but he perked up with a few nice comments and a smile. Must have been a rough morning. I ordered a simple basket of vegan fish and chips (it’s tofu) and some braised kale. Oh my goodness. I don’t know how long it has been since I’ve had the flavors of tartar sauce, lemon, and vinegar. I’m a Midwest girl, and fish fry is in my blood. It was awesome! The braised kale was done well too, showing the respect sustainable foodies give to their veggies. Lemon, garlic, and just the right amount of oil made my side dish healthy and tasty. My only complaint is that the fries were not quite crispy enough for my taste. Given, I am a French fry fanatic, so in order to please me you have to do the spuds perfectly.
Second Stop: Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop
Disappointed. I had originally planned on going to Xanath for some pre-march dessert, but their only vegan flavor was a mango sorbet. Boring! Thus, I hiked on over to Bi-Rite Creamery for their Bombay Chai. Yes, it is a token vegan flavor that they always have. The flavor was good, the consistency icy. I guess we can’t all be Vixen Kitchen. There were not a whole lot of vegan toppings either, just nuts, coconut flakes, and sea salt (helpfully labeled gluten free and vegan… ha!). At my bummed expression, the server asked if he could surprise me with toppings. Okay man, cool. My Chai ice cream came with walnuts and caramelized bananas.
Moral of the story, okay ice cream, great staff!
Third Stop: A little nonpartisan civic action
Wow. What a turnout! And so many awesome crazy signs! As for myself, I was the perfect picture of respectful representation of a woman concerned about her fellows in the armed services. I had fun, but I may have been subdued. Being on cold drugs, slightly feverish, and having walked around all day, standing still for two hours in the rain was…. not pleasant. An hour into the march portion I ducked out, shivering and soaked, hungry for warmth and my vegan dinner plans.
Fourth Stop: Zpizza
Okay, I know now that this is a chain. But why do all the quirky vegan restaurants close at 6pm on a Saturday night? Are we all boring? Are we all old? What is wrong with us? Anyway, Zpizza was a thirty minute walk away from my Amtrak stop, and promised a vegan pizza called the Berkley Vegan.
Best vegan pizza ever!!! Veggie sausage, daiya cheese, and tons of veggies perked this shivering girl right up. I even was peppy enough to talk veganism with two nice vegetarians who sat across from me. What are the odds? And they gave me lots of suggestions for vegan places to visit on my next San Francisco trip!
This week in updates: Making Plans!
There is a lot going on, and I’m not really even sure as to how to describe it. Being less than a year out from moving means that Jesse and I are eyeballs deep in making plans. It doesn’t help that we have several alternative plans in the making too! Thus, I have found myself online for large amounts of time, plotting budgets, designing minimalistic wardrobes, and looking at job listings. Oh, and not to mention all the tiny house videos and craigslist shopping! I have discovered that Jesse and I are probably going to want a Ford F450. Towing capacity of over 20,000 lbs! That is, I might add, a massive truck. If we think we can keep the weight to around 10,000 lbs, including all our stuff in it, we could settle for a 250. I like the extra however, because a) we will probably be buying the truck used and thus some wiggle room would be nice, and b) there be mountains on the West Coast. The last thing I want to happen is for our tiny house to get stuck somewhere.
There is so much to learn, and it is so hard to know just how much time to commit to it all. I just like jumping into things headfirst, but that is hard to do when I have to study praqs for the USCG, still do my job, and keep my current budget. Why can’t I just start building now? I want to just work like a dog until everything is all set up and perfect. What Whole Foods is taking part time job applications for a year out?????
The Recipe: Baked Lentil Millet Curry Burgers
So I made a very basic lentil curry burger a while ago. They were okay, kind of finicky, and well… okay for a first try. Now, with my added experience, I came up with a new recipe and wow! How delicious! The batter didn’t taste too good, but somehow in the oven the onions, carrots, and curry come together to make these not only great texturally and protein wise, but tasty too.
- 1.5 cups cooked lentils
- 1.5 cups cooked millet
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 1 tsp curry powder
- Salt and pepper
- 1 ½ cup spelt flour
- Makes 5 large burgers.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Sauté the onions and garlic until translucent.
- Mix all the ingredients up, you may have/want to use your hands.
- Grease a large cookie sheet and put veggie burgers on it.
- Bake 20 minutes or until the bottoms are a dark toasty brown. Flip, and cook another 20 minutes.