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Café Gratitude Plans for First San Diego Restaurant! 

Rumors have been circulating for months, & I am so happy to confirm that it is official! The "Iconic Vegan Restaurant" Café Gratitude is set to open their first San Diego County restaurant in Little Italy in early 2015! And how do I know this? I just so happen to have the press release in my hot little hands! 

(LOS ANGELES – September 22, 2014)

Café Gratitude, the organic & vegan mainstay with restaurants in Los Angeles, the Bay Area & Kansas City, is taking its consciously-sourced & thoughtfully-prepared cuisine south to San Diego with a new location planned for Broadstone Little Italy, a new mixed-used development overlooking the ocean. The dining destination, revered for its community-focus & eclectic, seasonally-driven menu, will be joining a new crop of retail spaces underneath the artfully-designed residences located at 1980 Kettner Blvd.

"We are so inspired by the incredible community & dining scene in San Diego," says Lisa Bonbright, CEO of Café Gratitude Southern California. "There is so much positive energy in the area with new restaurant openings, & we are thrilled to be part of the evolution."

Café Gratitude will begin construction on the 4,000 square-foot restaurant this fall with plans to open its doors to San Diego locals & residents of Broadstone Little Italy in early 2015, approximately eleven years after the opening of its first location in the Bay Area. Like its sister restaurants, the San Diego destination will feature a 100% organic, seasonally-driven vegan menu crafted by Executive Chef Dreux Ellis to resonate with diners of all dietary persuasions, while honoring a commitment to responsible sourcing & respect for the environment. Inspiration for Ellis’ vibrant menu is drawn from the bounty of local farmers markets & Café Gratitude Founders Matthews & Terces Engelhart’s Be Love Farm in Vacaville.

In addition to serving breakfast, lunch & dinner, daily, the restaurant will also offer Café Gratitude’s signature cleanse program featuring freshly pressed organic juices & wholesome vegan dishes. Grab-&-go breakfast pastries & unrefined desserts will also be a draw for diners stopping in for a cup of Stumptown coffee, homemade milkshake or nutrient-dense elixir for the road.

The Café has become known for its wholesome dishes named after often tongue-&-cheek affirmations like "I Am Crunchy" (housemade granola with fresh fruit & coconut yogurt), or the house favorite "I Am Whole" (a macrobiotic bowl featuring adzuki beans & seasonal organic ingredients over local brown rice or quinoa).

ABOUT CAFÉ  GRATITUDE:

Café Gratitude is a collection of 100% organic vegan restaurants that specialize in gourmet vegan cuisine. The menu & environment is designed to support health & sustainability for both the community and the planet. Dishes are named after affirmations like "I Am Whole," & are composed of real, organic ingredients from sustainable sources. The restaurant also works closely with local farmers to serve produce at its peak of freshness with deference to seasonality. Daily operations are conducted according to the principle of “Sacred Commerce,” whereby guests are offered both healthy food & a healthy ambiance that encourages them to view their lives from a perspective of gratitude. 

Isn’t this the most exciting news ever? Since the unfortunate closing of Casa de Luz, our local veg & healthy dining community has been longing for a new fresh, healthy, clean & modern establishment to enjoy a “finer” dining experience. I visited the Berkeley location for the first time a few years ago & loved it. I have been dying to make the drive up to LA to visit their new location, but time has not allowed me such luxury. The good news is, only will I not have to drive to L.A. for a wholesome fix, I will be able to walk there from my family business office. WINNING! 

And by them saying this will be the “first” San Diego location, is that a hint that there will be more locations to come? How about a Gracias Madre? Oooooh, ooooh. Ok, one wish at a time. For now, “I am Grateful” that in early 2015 we will have this wonderful restaurant in our city. 

I am in touch with their PR team & as soon as I have an exact date, or information about a grand opening, I’ll share!

(Photos & Press Release via JS2 Communications) 

Farm Sanctuary Benefit Brunch with Katie’s Healing Kitchen

A few weekends ago I had the exciting opportunity to photograph my talented chef friend Katie’s pop-up vegan brunch, benefiting the 2014 San Diego Walk for Farm Animals.It was absolutely delicious & for a wonderful cause! 

On the menu: 

  • Organic fair-trade coffee with coconut creamer, green tea, & citrus mimosas
  • Banana-nut Muffins
  • End of Summer Parfaits with Coconut Yogurt, Chia Pudding, Local Peaches & Housemade Granola
  • Lentil Mushroom Tacos
  • Raw Strawberry Acai Cheesecake

Yum! So much goodness. I’ve got a full recap & review & am sharing the "Banana Nut Muffin" recipe over at Vegenista’s Kitchen

If you are local to San Diego & have not come to one of Katie’s events, I encourage you to sign up for her newsletter so you can get up-to-date announcements, as they sell out fast! Katie has some classes coming up soon at Great News, & her next pop-up, although not yet formally announced, will be a dinner on October 26th. So come on out!

And in the meantime, now that fall has officially arrived, put on your oven mitts & get baking.

LOVELIKEBEER Announces Latest Menu Series Collaboration!

Hot of the press, San Diego’s LOVELIKEBEER has announced their latest installment of the Menu Series.” LLB created this project to deliver full-time access to some of the culinary creations for which the vegan pop-up charity beer dinners are known.  

You may remember my announcement for last July’s addition to the Monkey Paw menu, the scrumptious "Mumbai Monkey Sandwich" paired with the refreshing Lemon Balm & Mint Saison,” which continues to be a fan fave & generate donations to Ferdinand’s Familia All Species Animal Rescue, one of my favorite places in town!

Finally, more than a year later (time flies), they’re unveiled their third & latest collaboration with Tacos Perlaa new & exciting restaurant concept in North Park, that serves up delicious traditional & non-traditional street tacos, with vegan options already available.  As part of San Diego’s LWP Group, the taco shop also has an existing association with a charitable organization through LWP’s "Community Gives" project, whose mission is to support the traditions & enhance the quality of life in San Diego’s urban communities by providing greater access to education, arts & culture.

As for the beer pairing, after sampling a variety of different beers, they decided that the Mike Hess Brewing "Vienna Cream Ale" was a perfect companion for the vibrant taco, & it is quite fitting that the beer pays homage to the spanish word “Gracias.”

I had the opportunity to preview the pairing last weekend, along with a few other vegan items on the menu, & let me tell you….you’re gonna wanna get all over this, stat!

The taco filling is a play on the Mexican “Chilorio” which traditionally consists of pork or chicken, but made vegan here with the help of Beyond Meat, & “meat” is marinated in a rich & earthy ancho chile sauce. It is absolutely delicious. Beyond Meat is really something else & almost a little too like chicken for my comfort zone. The omnivore at the table said he never would’ve know it was vegan if he hadn’t been told. I’ve had a few Beyond Meat experienced where I had to be reassured more than once that what I was eating was vegan! Back to the delicious taco…it’s topped with crunchy nopales, & a bright fresh salsa of radish, parsley, capers, & cinnamon - such a unique flavor combination. I love the warmth of the cinnamon, it adds just a little preview of fall! Top off the taco with one of Taco’s Perlas signature house made salsas & BOOM ~ flavor extravaganza! Oh & speaking of “house made” the tortillas are freshly made in house as well, adding to the overall freshness of the dish. The paired beer was smooth & refreshing, with its subtle layers of vanilla, caramel, & malt, bridging each bite along with a delicate hop finish.

So when can you experience this for yourselves? They’re having a shindig on Sep’t 25th! Here are the deets, yo!

LOVELIKEBEER Menu Series Pairing No. 3

  • Dish: Vegan Chilorio Taco w/ fresh salsa of radish, parsley, capers & cinnamon
  • Beer Pairing: Mike Hess Brewing Grazias Vienna Cream Ale
  • Charity: Community Gives
  • Venue: Tacos Perla - North Park
  • Begins: Thursday, Sept 25th, 5pm

Of course, this dish will be available any time after the launch, so not to worry, you won’t miss out. But LOVELIKEBEER loves to party with their people, so come on out & support awesome vegan food & a great cause! RSVP & get more info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/873299656015264/

Hope to see you!

(Photos courtesy of Justin Barrow, for LOVELIKEBEER)

Farm Sanctuary & Veggie Grill Fundraiser
San Diego friends! I invite you all to come out to Veggie Grill at the UTC Mall in La Jolla for a night of delicious vegan food & fundraising. 
Present this flyer or mention the fundraiser and 50% of your food & beverage purchases will be donated to Farm Sanctuary, in support of the upcoming "San Diego Walk for Farm Animals."

The Farm Sanctuary Fundraiser Event
WHEN: Tuesday September 23rd, 4pm - Close
WHERE: Veggie Grill UTC // 4353 La Jolla Village Drive #H28 La Jolla, CA 92122 // 858.458.0031

Please join us & spread the news! :)

Farm Sanctuary & Veggie Grill Fundraiser

San Diego friends! I invite you all to come out to Veggie Grill at the UTC Mall in La Jolla for a night of delicious vegan food & fundraising. 

Present this flyer or mention the fundraiser and 50% of your food & beverage purchases will be donated to Farm Sanctuary, in support of the upcoming "San Diego Walk for Farm Animals."

The Farm Sanctuary Fundraiser Event

WHEN: Tuesday September 23rd, 4pm - Close

WHERE: Veggie Grill UTC // 4353 La Jolla Village Drive #H28 La Jolla, CA 92122 // 858.458.0031

Please join us & spread the news! :)

"Garden Grill" Debuts Today at Hillcrest Farmers’ Market

Hey San Diego friends! Get your compassionate butts up early & head over to the Hillcrest Farmers’ Market & show your support for the grand opening of the Garden Grill

Here is a sneak peek at some of the menu items ~

Menu:

  • STONE IPA BEER BATTERED AVOCADO TACOS ~ A crispy Stone IPA beer battered avocado on a bed of fresh cilantro, purple and green cabbage. Topped with our house made creamy cilantro Pepita dressing and organic Sriracha. 
  • BREAKFAST TACOS ~ Scrambled organic tofu, plant-based sausage served on a bed of sauteed spinach. Topped with our house made creamy cheeze sauce.
  • RAW TACOS ~ Organic dino kale, walnut “meat”, fresh tomato salad, and nut-cho cheeze all wrapped in a romaine leaf. Gluten Free - Raw!
  • CHICK’N ‘N’ WAFFLES ~ Cinnamon spiced waffles, country fried chick’n, herbed mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy.
  • THE REUBEN ~ Two toasted artisan pumpernickel rye swirl deli style bread slices, smeared with our house made Russian dressing, our locally made raw organic sauerkraut and thinly sliced house marinated deli style Reuben meat topped with melted mozzarella style cheeze!
  • BEER BATTERED MUSHROOMS ~ Stone IPA beer battered crimini mushrooms along side our house made creamy dill sauce.
  • AND MORE!!!

All ingredients are 100% plant based Vegan. No MSG, no GMOs, no refined oils or sweeteners. We use local organic ingredients whenever possible.

Oh my heavenly yum! Be there. 

"Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret" 

Hey San Diego Friends!  "COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret" is premiering this Tuesday July 15th at the Hillcrest Cinema & a few tickets are still available. Please join us in viewing this groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary that follows an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today, & investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it! This film is expected to be as eye-opening as "Blackfish" & as inspiring as "An Inconvenient Truth."

Tickets can be purchased here & be sure to stick around after the film for in-depth Q & A with the filmmakers. 

If you are not in SD, click here for screenings in your area. 

Hope to see you!

Health Nut Muffin | Lemon / Chia / Strawberry Jam Grammy’s Birchermuseli | Coconut Yogurt / Local berries / Oats Breakfast Panini | Gluten-Free Sourdough / Tempeh Bacon / Avocado / Basil Aioli / Roasted Bell Peppers / Savory Potato Hash / Wilted Greens Minty Sundae | Quinoa Brownies / Mint Chip Ice Cream / Raw Chocolate Sauce

Sunday Pop-up Vegan Brunch with Katie’s Healing Kitchen!

Holy Yum!!!! What a way to spend a Sunday ~ with good friends & delicious food at the Wine Vault & Bistro for Katie’s Healing Kitchen’s"Vegan Pop-up Brunch." 

Today, Katie took over this typically omnivorous restaurant & prepared an all out awesome vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, & refined sugar-free brunch! She delighted us with 4 courses of amazing eats, mimosas, fair trade coffee & more. Check out this menu: 

Sip ~

  • Morning Jolt | Fair Trade Coffee / Coconut Cream 
  • Superfood Green Tea | Goji Berry / Pomegranate
  • Citrus Mimosa | Champagne / Orange 

Eat ~

  • Health Nut Muffin | Lemon / Chia / Strawberry Jam 
  • Grammy’s Birchermuseli | Coconut Yogurt / Local berries / Oats
  • Breakfast Panini | Gluten-Free Sourdough / Tempeh Bacon / Avocado / Basil Aioli / Roasted Bell Peppers / Savory Potato Hash / Wilted Greens 
  • Minty Sundae | Quinoa Brownies / Mint Chip Ice Cream / Raw Chocolate Sauce

Yum! Right? The proof is in the pictures! And all of this deliciousness for only $30!

My favorite dish of the day? Hmmmm, it’s a tough call, but if I had to choose…I really loved the "Breakfast Panini" ~ some of my favorite things wrapped up in a sandwich! Contrary to popular belief, when grilled or toasted, gluten-free bread is not bad at all! Of course not all are created equal, so I asked Katie which brand she prefers. She uses Cook’s GF Sourdough Bread which you can find at the co-op if you’re local. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the "Minty Sundae" knocked my socks off, come on! Ice Cream for brunch? Don’t have to twist my arm. But honestly, in true Katie fashion, everything was fantastic!

So, if you are in San Diego & you have not been to a pop-up or cooking class with Katie you are missing out! Katie has an upcoming dinner pop-up on July 22nd that you do not want to miss. The theme "LONGEVITY." Who wants a bit more of that? I know I do!! Check out Katie’s lovely website for more information & to RSVP. And to learn more about Katie, be sure to read my extensive review of her Thanksgiving Cooking Class & her Superfood Breakfast Guest Post

Be sure to sign up for her mailing list & newsletter. Hope to see you at a future event!

JUKE at Bottlecraft North Park Inside JUKE Cauliflower Steak with roasted cauliflower, apple-curry, couscous, greens & marcona almonds. Bibimbap with roasted tofu, forbidden rice, greens, pickled shiitake, watermelon radish, & gochujang. Chilaquiles with refried beans, chips, roasted tofu, avocado & gochujang. Romesco Salad with roasted root vegetables, manchego, toasted hazelnut, raisins, greens, & romesco dressing.

Restaurant Review & Interview with Juan Miron of JUKE

For several years the "MIHO Gastrotruck" has a fixture on the San Diego foodie scene. They were the first “gourmet” food truck to hit the scene back in 2010, & inspiring single handedly inspired the San Diego Food Truck movement. Prior to MIHO rolling around in their artfully designed truck selling delicious hand-crafted farm-to-table street food, about all you’d see on the streets were “roach coaches” that you were better off avoiding. MIHOs arrival changed everything. I remember tracking them down at the Adams Avenue Art Walk, their very first weekend in business, ordering a vegetarian "Bahn Mi" & sang its praises here. Not only was the food awesome, the guys behind the wheel/kitchen/concept were awesome too. MIHO started showing up all over town, & soon you were fighting off long lines & big crowds in the hopes of reaching the counter before the good stuff sold out. The best part…they always offered a few vegetarian/veganizable items on the menu. So imagine my disappointment when I heard the announcement that the truck would be semi-retiring. The truck would still be available for private catering events, but no longer making the weekly rounds. Major sadface.

All was not lost, however, just re-imagined, as Juan & Kevin, the duo behind MIHO, partnered up with Bottlecraft in North Park to open "JUKE", a small farm-to-table “cafe” counter hidden in the back of the shop. Their culinary concept focuses on a “neo-traditional” menu that highlights internationally inspired street foods. For those of us of the veggie inclined about 1/3 of the menu is vegetarian &/or veganizable. While it’s not a physical restaurant, communal style seating is available outside.

About Juke: 

JUKE is a new school of thought on what, how & why we eat. This means a healthy balance of ingredients, an honest way of cooking, & a more conscious approach to the composition of each dish. JUKE’s neo-traditional menu draws inspiration from the beloved flavors of California, Baja, Asia & the Mediterranean. With a bedrock of local farms & sustainable food practices, JUKE features a menu that celebrates vegetables & grains, but is still in many ways an homage to the casual, international street food that MIHO is known for.

Last month, Juan graciously invited me to JUKE to try out their veganizable options & of course I jumped at the chance! I was treated to the "Cauliflower Steak" with roasted cauliflower, curry-apple sauce, herbed couscous, toasted marcona almonds, & greens, & the "Bibimbap" with roasted tofu, forbidden rice, pickled shiitake, greens, radish & gochujang, made vegan by holding the poached egg. Both were super fresh, flavorful & delicious. If I have to play favorites, the cauliflower steak it is! As I am a fan of every component of this dish, it was an easy choice. Sweet roasted cauliflower over a mild, yet tangy, green curry, fluffy couscous, tender greens & crunchy marcona almonds? Sounds like my kind light, yet satisfying meal. While I, gracefully, stuffed my face, Juan & I chatted about MIHO, JUKE, & the future:

Vegenista: The MIHO Gastrotruck really helped to shape the San Diego Food Truck scene. How did you get involved in the food business & what led you to launch a food truck? 

Juan Miron: Kevin & I have always been super passionate about food, where it comes from, how its prepared & the experience it creates. My wife & I were hosting underground beer supper clubs since 2006 as a creative outlet for both of us. In 2008 I started working at The Linkery, SD’s original farm to table restaurant, that’s where I met Kevin & soon enough he & his fiancé joined Farra & I on the beer dinners. We did that for a couple of years & ultimately, we knew we wanted to strike on our own & pursue a business opportunity. That’s when we caught wind of the food truck scene in other cities & instantly we knew that was our next step.

V: You recently retired the highly successful food truck & launched JUKE inside of Bottlecraft North Park. What inspired you to make the change? How did the concept of a counter & the partnership with Bottlecraft come about?

JM: For us every decision is all about progressing & enhancing the experiences we offer. We left the streets at the beginning of 2013 as we had planned to transition into a full time catering company. The essence of the food truck scene had evolved & was not fulfilling anymore. Catering had been an area of our business that we always enjoyed, creating memorable experiences around food for special events, this just felt right. A year later the opportunity to reconnect with our followers came when Brian from Bottlecraft mentioned that he was planning on putting a kitchen & would love us to do it. We then decided to open up JUKE. 

V: Thank you for offering vegetarian & vegan friendly menu items! How would you describe the style of food you are serving at JUKE & how is it different from MIHO?

JM: MIHO is internationally inspired street food., where JUKE is a new style of food, “neo-traditional” as we call it. It’s our take on traditional dishes, with our twist, while maintaining our bedrock of sourcing from local farms & using a sustainable approach to all that we do. It’s a reflection of the styles of food we enjoy eating, baja, mediterranean, asian, with a conscious thought on balancing greens, grains & meats, with a few vegetarian & vegan items too. 

V: Do you have any other exciting plans/projects in the works that you would like to share?

JM: Yes, we just launched our cocktail catering company, "Please & Thank You," & we thrilled to be able to add that on as another service under the "A MIHO Experience" brand. Again this was another project where it just seemed natural for us to offer bar catering for all the events that we do. 

A few days later I was back for more, bring my friend Anna along for a Sunday afternoon brunch. I’d had some cocktails the night before, so a strong pour-over coffee & a belly filling meal was calling my name, so naturally, I was drawn to the "Chilaquiles," - hold the carnitas add tofu - with vegetarian refried beans, tortilla chips, avocado, roasted tofu & gochujang. While it was tasty enough, it doesn’t quite rival the vegan chilaquiles masterpiece from Gracias Madre, but it was just what the doctor ordered to ease my hangover. Need I say more? Anna went for lighter fare & ordered the "Romesco Salad" with roasted root vegetables, manchego, toasted hazelnut, raisins, greens, & romesco dressing. If you wish this to be vegan, hold simply omit the cheese. She enjoyed the fresh & flavorful salad, however, as I’ve read in other reviews, it was a bit overdressed causing the greens to get a little soggy. Romesco is a rich dressing, so just a dab will do ya! Maybe order it on the side? As we were finishing up our coffee, another patron sat beside us with the most beautiful bowl of fresh fruit & cashew “yogurt.” We decided that our bellies could expand just a little bit more to make room for that delicious treat…Cashew Parfait” topped with homemade granola, seasonal fresh fruit & mint. As expected, it was divine. I could definitely taste the cashews, as I use them for various creams & sauces around here, but never thought to make it a thick, yogurt consistency. It was definitely rich! But the fresh fruit & mint helped to lighten it up a bit. I will most certainly be back for more of that! 

So, if you are in the San Diego area & have not made your way over to JUKE, why wait any longer? They’re open Tues-Saturday from 11am-9pm, & from 10am-7pm for Sunday Brunch. Remember, they are located INSIDE Bottlecraft in North Park, between 30th & Ray Street. Keep up with JUKE on their website, Facebook, & Instagram

A big thank you to Juan, JUKE, & the MIHO family for the hospitality invitation to check out this exciting new establishment! #EATJUKE

San Diego Kale Festival 2014
Sorry for the shot notice on this friends, as it has just come across my radar! If you love KALE, you’re in San Diego, & your Saturday hasn’t already been jam packed with activities…then check out the "Kale Festival 2014”at the San Diego Peace Garden. There will be demos, workshops, yoga, films, children’s activities, FOOD, & more!

WHEN: Saturday Februarary 22nd 9am - 5pm
WHERE: SAN DIEGO PEACE GARDEN
3850 Westgate Place, San Diego, CA 92105
FESTIVAL MISSION:  The Kale Festival is a day to celebrate & learn about local & sustainable food through workshops & demonstrations. We come together to envision a better & more just food system.

Get more details & the full family friendly schedule here. 
HAIL TO KALE!

San Diego Kale Festival 2014

Sorry for the shot notice on this friends, as it has just come across my radar! If you love KALE, you’re in San Diego, & your Saturday hasn’t already been jam packed with activities…then check out the "Kale Festival 2014at the San Diego Peace Garden. There will be demos, workshops, yoga, films, children’s activities, FOOD, & more!

WHEN: Saturday Februarary 22nd 9am - 5pm

WHERE: SAN DIEGO PEACE GARDEN

3850 Westgate Place, San Diego, CA 92105

FESTIVAL MISSION:  The Kale Festival is a day to celebrate & learn about local & sustainable food through workshops & demonstrations. We come together to envision a better & more just food system.

Get more details & the full family friendly schedule here

HAIL TO KALE!