Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Food, The Weather, The Scenery, The Bliss!
I Must Be Dreaming (or in California!)

This past week I took a long overdue mini-vacation to Nevada City, California. I flew into Oakland, instead of the closer airport in Sacramento, because the fare and the rental car were so much less expensive. I actually enjoyed the extra two-hour drive, and it gave me the opportunity to stop in for a meal at Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley. After waking up at 5 AM to make my first flight to Seattle (where I changed planes), and getting into Oakland at about noon, I was feeling pretty hungry and already worn-out. So a menu full of juices, smoothies, and elixirs with names like "I Am Rejuvenated" and "I Am Enlivened" seemed like just the ticket to energize me. I also thought that choosing the "I Am Accepting" bowl of steamed Bhutanese red rice tossed with kale, avocado, cucumber, nori, scallions, and herbs in sesame-ginger sauce would not only be delicious, but would help ground me for whatever adventures (or misadventures, read: traffic) might greet me on the rest of my journey.

Just a scant two or three miles south of Nevada City, lies the city of Grass Valley, where I had planned to stop and pick up a few essentials at the BriarPatch Co-op. I was stunned at how large and beautiful this store was for such a small town. There are only about 12,000 people living in Grass Valley and perhaps 3,000 more in Nevada City.

The co-op had everything I could possibly want or need, including a lovely selection of my favorite So Delicious coconut milk beverages, yogurt, creamer, and kefir and Soyatoo Whipped Topping! (I bought some of the rice Soyatoo one night and in lieu of dinner, enjoyed it with a pint of large, juicy, sweet, and delicious organic strawberries! I thought the rice whipped cream tasted just as good, if not better than the soy.

I was treated to outstanding hospitality by managers Liza and Kurt at the delightfully quaint Outside Inn, where I rested in spectacularly colorful surroundings. "The Celestial Room" contained all the comforts of home including a mini-fridge and flat=screen TV. It even had glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling!

After such a long day of travel, I fell soundly asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow! I awoke to the sounds of birds gaily chirping and the sun shining! I couldn't wait to check out what would soon become one of my favorite hangouts in Nevada City—a a funky little vegetarian cafe called Fudenjuce!

It's large menu of fresh organic juices, wraps, salads, rice bowls, vegan soups, smoothies, and organic coffees and teas kept me coming back for more. Seth took great care of me, and made the most scrumptious hot carob beverages, Hawaiian smoothies, and Morninglory Breakfast Wraps!

My furry new feline friend, Minnow, kept me company while I waited for my breakfast to arrive.

One of the tastiest meals I had in Nevada City was at Ike's Quarter Cafe. It's by no means a vegetarian restaurant, but they had some impressive vegan offerings like vegan French toast and tempeh jambalaya. The dish I ordered is called the "Back to Health Plate," but eating it was so much more inspiring than the name implies. It's a large bed of gingered greens topped with tempeh in a perfectly seasoned roasted tomato sauce. It's served with a green salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette, and I ordered a slice of delicious gluten-free vegan cornbread to go along with it. I could kick myself for not having my camera along with me when I ate there!

This tiny town boasted both an oxygen bar and a raw cafe! I truly enjoyed my 30-minute vanilla oxygen experience at The Spot Oxygen Bar one evening after dinner. And the heavenly raw Raspberry-Lemon Cheesecake topped with Coconut Creme at The Fix was intoxicatingly delicious.

The Fix Raw Food Cafe and 33 Degree Boutique are housed in an impossibly adorable, modern-retro corrugated barn, where you'll find everything from eclectic jewelry and fun organic clothing to gourmet living foods all under one roof.

Even more deliciousness at The Fix! Raw chocolate truffles and blackberry white chocolate cheesecake?

After all those incredible breakfasts, lunches, and sweets, it's amazing that I could still be hungry for dinner! Well, there's always room for vegetarian sushi, isn't there? There are two sushi restaurants in Nevada City, and I chose Sushi Q because it looked so warm and inviting.

I was really happy that I did, because the sushi chef, Tokisan, was extremely accommodating and happy to prepare my special "Gail rolls" of inari, avocado, and cucumber. He did an amazing job, and they were even more delicious than the rolls I am able to get here at home!

Have you ever had a Thai massage? I never had, but it just seemed like my visit to Nevada City wasn't going to be complete until I had this experience. So I headed down Broad Street and made my way to Jindana Thai Therapeutic Spa.

I truly had no idea what to expect, but if I had to describe it, I'd say that Thai massage is like someone doing yoga to your body. Actually, yoga is one of the six points of Thai massage: Yoga, Exercise, Meditation, Reflexology, Acupressure, and Healing Art. It's quite unlike any other experience (massage or otherwise), and it's also quite wonderful! My massage therapist, Alex, had magical hands (and feet—I'm not kidding!), and as with any good healing modality, afterward, I felt both relaxed and invigorated and noticed a freeing of blocked energy within my body. My broken toe (don't ask), was significantly less painful the following day!

Nevada City boasts its own decent-size natural foods store, too: California Organics. I decided to try their restaurant, The Organic Grill for dinner on my last evening in Nevada City, as I was in the mood for vegan fajitas. They were quite yummy.

Brilliantly beautiful artwork by local artist Gary Dini covered was on display at the restaurant. His sculptural paintings combine acrylic with collage that utilizes costume jewelry. Each piece was more dazzling than the next.

Lest you think that all I did in Nevada City was eat and lie around letting someone else do lovely things to my body, I actually did do quite a bit of walking around town with my friend, Dana.

It was on such a walk that I discovered an amazing cocoanut tea at Gold Mountain Tea Shop, pictured below with Sol Sprouting Goji Rose Chocolate Love Spirals, (which I discovered at Fudenjuce).

On one sunny day, we took a lovely little hike along a meandering river. It was a little tricky to do with a broken toe. But Dana was a great sport, and she let me lean on her shoulder when we were walking downhill, so that I wouldn't further injure myself on any jagged rocks.

This was the view as I headed down Broad Street leaving Nevada City on Thursday morning. It took my breath away. I didn't ever want to leave this heavenly place.

After all that good eatin' it's a wonder I was still excited to get back to Oakland and have lunch at Manzanita Macrobiotic Restaurant. But this is a food blog, and therefore I must eat to write! On such a delightfully bright and balmy 65-degree-day, it was a joy to have lunch outdoors in the middle of winter. (I can't remember the last time I was able to do that!)

Chef Tenzin is a master of macrobiotic cuisine, and I knew this was going to be my last meal of the day...

So I ordered the larger "Full Meal," which included all of the following: Bean-Cauliflower-Cabbage-Broccoli-Miso Soup, Long Grain Brown Rice with Millet, Roasted Kabocha-Turnip-Yam, Garbanzo Beans with Onion-Leek, Steamed Kale with Shiitake-Beet Sauce, and a Mixed Green Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette.

On this trip I also met with two people I have known and admired for many years. Allison Rivers Samson, owner and founder of Allison's Gourmet and Tony Plotkin, president and owner of Grainaissance. But more about that in a later post.


Janice said...

Wow! Your photos and descriptions really are beautiful. And I'm hungry now, too!

Justine said...

Nevada City is so beautiful! I'd love to go there and get a Thai massage, too. And I want to eat at Manzanita. That dish looks scrumptious!

Helen said...

I'm glad you had such a lovely trip, Gail. You certainly deserve a little time off and some quality nurturing. The town looks so sweet, and it sure sounds like you enjoyed some amazing food. I've never experienced a Thai massage. Now I think I will have to!

Anonymous said...

What a yummy trip! Can I go on your next road trip with you? You sure know how to track down the vegan yumminess! That raw cheesecake looks amazing!

Charlene said...

I agree with the comment just above mine. I want to go with you on your next road trip, too! All the food looks delicious!

Bobbi O said...

Wow Gail I am impressed. What a great trip with your senses, smells, textures etc, beautiful.
Love ya

Ellen said...

I loved the recounting of your time in Nevada City...! It looks like a place I'd absolutely love. Everything you mentioned seemed to suit me perfectly. On my next trip to California...I'm going to try and head up north to this magical looking town.

Kirk said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences in Grass Valley and Nevada City with us. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit. Let us know about Ananda Village if you go back. I hear they have wonderful vegan meals!

Allison Rivers Samson said...

It was so much fun to get to see you again after all these years, Gail! I hope to get together again soon.

Any vegans looking for a new home: now that you see how wonderful it is up here, I hope you'll consider Nevada City/Grass Valley. We need more vegans up here! =)

Sophia said...

You certainly found gold in the hills! And I (almost) don't need lunch, after my eyes have devoured all those beautiful meals!

VeganMarr said...

I think you should plan vegan getaways! Wow, you packed sooooo much into that trip! Amazing!

Kaylene said...

That ecclectic gift shop looks charming...and all the restaurants look unique. And wow, the COLORS of your ROOM! How unusual & fabulous!

Alan said...

So how's that cocoanut tea? Looks very interesting. Was that green wrap a spinach wrap? I've had red/tomato ones which I love, bet the green is tasty too. Amazing there's so much vegan food tucked into that area! Good to know!

Vegiegail said...

Hi Alan! The cocoanut tea is awesome. I has an intoxicating aroma, with its hint of cocoa mixed with coconut. And it tastes divine. I've been drinking it ever since I got home. And yes! That wrap was made with a spinach tortilla. Very tasty, indeed!

Julie said...

Are all the truffles in the picture raw? They look like regular truffles!

Vegiegail said...

Yes, Julie! They're all raw!

Anonymous said...

The cat is adorable...he's the official greeter/mascot?

The Vegan said...

What a wonderful trip! Well chronicled along with beautiful pictures of food, the places you stayed, scenery and art. Not to mention the picture of Minnow. I loved all of it. Thanks for sharing this. It's almost like I was there myself!!!

Outside Inn said...

What a great post, so many great places... thanks for the nice words about the Outside Inn.