day 343 – Contemplation

I desire to be accepted, respected and noticed for the person I am, so therefore, I need to focus on, empathize with and allow others to be themselves, at this moment in time, wherever in life or the journey and path they are on – and maybe, I will learn something about myself in the process of acceptance.

MY behavior requires me to reflect on my thoughts, words and actions that I myself would like to be treated with.  As I do unto you, I do to self.

I know this intellectually and profoundly believe in it – but actually implementing this practice and living by this ethical value and tenet is more a striving, progressive reaching rather than an accomplishment consciously sought.

I sink and explore further into my inner realm in proportion to any generosity or service I extend outside myself onto others.

day 342 – Raw Wrap

A quick on the go kind of snack I go to almost every day and is easy, delicious and satisfying is a raw wrap stuffed with hummus and powerful organic greens.  What I love about packaged raw food products is they are always organic.  I always have a raw bar (look for raw crunch, it’s the only one I recommend) or two in a pocket in my purse.  More than once, it has gotten me or someone else out of a hunger jam.

Being vegan lends itself to quick raw snacks and I became a raw foodist 100% back in 2009 for four and a half months because raw desserts attracted me to no end when I was vegan even then.  Alas, a trip to NYC and Europe led me back to cheese especially and then eventually meat.  Then, during my yoga training, I returned to veganism and about 75% raw in 2010 – 2011.  Somewhere along the line, I got off track again and now here’s my third try at vegan living.  Some people yo-yo diet.  I yo-yo styles of eating.

I buy the raw wraps that come in about four flavors.  Smokey Heaven is my favorite.  They all include organic everything.  Smokey is made with zucchini, apple, onions, flax seeds (think omega 3), coconut, turmeric, nama shoyo sauce, black salt (unbelievable if you can get it) and smoke flavor.  One wrap is 45 calories and I split them lengthwise down the middle because it’s smaller and easier to roll.

day 341 – Farewell to Berkeley

One weekend can turn into over a week of Blog material – can you imagine what one week away to any destination could turn into?

In our family, all goodbyes must end and be punctuated by a food memory.

On E’s Bday, we brunched downstairs (she slept on our couch) at the hotel restaurant which is aptly named FIVE as in five stars, I imagine.  Executive chef Stephane Tonnelier and Sous chef Andre Arroyo man, arrange, create and execute a diverse menu, befitting of   any acclaimed fine dining in Berkeley.

FIVE is located adjacent to the lobby of Hotel Shattuck Plaza, newly renovated, two blocks from the edge of campus and on the corner of a BART station (not that it mattered when the strike was on).  It (FIVE) is in its own right, a destination bistro.

One can order the usual French toast, eggs benedict or pancakes for brunch or just as well order a chorizo omelet, smoked salmon or a bacon,spinach, fontina cheese omelet.  Also, being brunch, one could chow down on a burger, turkey club, fettucini with vegetables, asian meatball sandwich with pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, sriracha aioli or a prosciutto mozzarella panini with oven roasted tomatoes, piquillo pepper, basil aioli, arugula and garlic chips.  There were twelve typical breakfast choices and ten solid lunch options.

My daughter elected to savor the duck confit hash with poached eggs (I had no idea she liked them served that way), confit duck legs, marble potatoes, caramelized onions and hollandaise for her birthday pick.  If I wasn’t vegan this week, I would have picked this.My husband chose the vanilla yogurt parfait with blueberry jam, granola and fresh berries.And I had to ask them to switch out, please, the cream with soy milk as they cooked my steel cut oats (so as to remain vegan) with golden raisins, cinnamon, brown sugar and a bowl of fresh berries. And a birthday surprise finale of sweet proportions!  Warm Homemade Banana Bread with ice cream, banana slices atop brittle, whipped cream, and swirls of caramel and chocolate sauce.Farewell to over indulging and hello to strict noshing!!!

day 340 – Burgermeister

Burgermeister is an eating establishment that engages in environmentally conscious business practices, utilizes recyclable materials, biodegradable packaging, their beef is sustainably supplied by animals that are pasture-raised on small family farms who ethically raise their livestock without hormones or antibiotics and is located as far as I know, only in the Bay Area.  They also cater to vegetarians and vegans. After we left the game, at an ungodly hour, we ate here.  It was tasty, it had enough variety to please everyone and was decorated for Halloween.There are classic beefsteak,  ground Kobe, chicken, sausage, hot dog, ribs, pastrami, fish and veggie burgers to consider.  You can also “build” your own like at the pizzeria (see day 335 post).  There were six different vegetarian burger choices including grilled cheese and four vegan –  including a premium house-made gluten-free vegan burger named the veggiemeister and a grilled portabello choice.I chose a veggiemeister ( big surprise) without a bun and wrapped in extra lettuce with sautéed mushrooms and a vegan red pepper aioli plus a salad of spring mix on the side (instead of fries or coleslaw) dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette.  To be honest, I couldn’t believe I was eating at this hour but to no one’s astonishment, I finished every last bite.My better half had sliders and a side of Caeser salad.My daughter enjoyed garlic fries which were very garlicky (Mommy tax- I get to snatch a fry).

day 339 – Game Nite

Saturday night we headed over to Memorial Stadium built in 1923 and renovated to hold more than 63 thousand plus fans and reinforcing it for seismic risk.  The stadium is dedicated to former students who lost their lives in both World Wars.Our Bears lost to Oregon Beavers but the band played on and play on well into awards, trophies and spanning over 100 years.

day 338 – Beauty, Brains and Sport

At Berkeley, there is much beauty and charm to amuse and please our senses.  Fall colors and vistas from the hilly terrain overlook the San Francisco Bay.At this educational establishment, there resides seven Nobel laureates, 28 MacArthur Fellows and four Pulitzer Prize winners on the faculty.  It is home to the largest catalog of  libraries and titles, only second to the Libraries of Congress.Intercollegiate sports and programs serve the physically competitive and its fans.  Evans field is specifically used for the Cal Bears baseball team.Mascot keeping the peace and guarding the woods on campus.

day 337 – Saturn

There are seventeen!! strictly Vegan restaurants, cafes or bakeries in Berkeley. There are eighteen Vegetarian.  That’s alot of choices.  The vegetarian locations also serve vegan, so there are 35, thirty-five!! establishments that cater to non animal eating persons.  I noticed that most places are big on organic too.  I had my heart set on Saturn (check day 331-Berkeley Bound post) and we went there for breakfast, Saturday morningish.  You can have breakfast anytime there.

I found the bathroom situation interesting.  There are two bathrooms with stalls.  You can enter either because there is a sign that promotes genderless use.  Meaning, when I went in to use the facility, I could have been faced with washing my hands next to a guy or a girl.  Fortunately, for this modest mouse, another gal was in there and the guy walking behind me went through the doors of the other facility. I don’t know how I felt about that.

Back to the food, it wasn’t as great as I had remembered it.  Nostalgia can be unreliable.Southwest Tofu Scramble (vegan).  The guacamole was good, the fake white paste was inedible and the taco sauce was uninspired, under seasoned and left uneaten.

Gosh, darn.  I tasted a teeny bit of my husband’s buckwheat pancakes and they were terrible,  “So sorry I made you come here.”  I had a few beans from my daughter’s plate and it was ok.  Bean and cheese omelet.

So, next time, no Saturn except for the shakes!  I had a delicious vegan vanilla shake made from soy ice cream and milk and that was worth all the sugar it came with.  It seems they are famous for their various vegan shakes.

Then, I had the audacity to continue eating by walking just a few blocks to Cream and ordering a vegan lemon pecan cookie.  My two cohorts went all the way and ordered two warm butter, non-vegan cookies with two scoops of real creamy ice cream smushed between.  I remember coming here when my son went to Berkeley and the line was around the block.  It’s a big hit on a teeny corner location.  Worth the walk and we must have hit it at the right time because the line was only inside.Yes, the sign says Cookies Rule Everything Around Me.

day 336 – Campus

UC Berkeley unofficially serves as the city’s Central Park with its historic buildings, wide walking paths, art sculptures and general woodsy landscape.  Founded in 1868, Berkeley is the original campus of the University of California, hence the moniker used by alumni and students, Cal.  The campus is an urban oasis, preserving and maintaining a genuine combination of young blood with early Californian statesmanship.  Two hundred thousand acres of serene forests interspersed by an array of architectural vision, populated by some of our finest minds and innovative thoughts. My daughter’s favorite path and tree, coming into squirrel town where she delights in the activities of these furry inhabitants.A very bright and accomplished squirrel attending the University of California and on a nut break.

day 335 – Build Pizzeria

To say that Berkeley is vegan, organic or vegetarian, sustainable, grass-fed, free-range, local, fresh produce friendly is an understatement.  Alice Waters who started the whole California Cuisine and garden/school lunch programs lives here and her celebrated Chez Panisse restaurant resides right along Shattuck Avenue and Vine Street in North Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto”.

At Build, our first gastronomic adventure of the weekend, you order personally from a selection of choices and the cook “builds” you a personal thin crusted pizza, sent into a wood burning oven and within minutes, it arrives piping hot to your table.  

The setting is hip Shattuck, downtown Berkeley, clean, new and bright.

I ordered a gluten-free crust with vegan cheese, tomato sauce, artichokes, baked red onions and sautéed mushrooms.  It was spectacular!  Crisp, flavorful and comforting.

I also had an organic mixed green salad with a tangy vinaigrette on the side, baked tomatoes and raw organic walnuts.  It was divine.  The greens everywhere wherever we ate were organic and local.  The most immaculate pieces of lettuce I have ever witnessed or eaten.  You could taste the richness of the soil (in a good way) in every bite.  Every nibble felt like I was becoming one with the earth.  “It was surely just picked,”  I admired.