Y5 – Day 143 – Orange Environs

On Monday, we gallivanted over to the center of Orange and visited The Duchess of Cambridge Design Center and Green Door Cafe.

Strategically positioned, every inch of space at The Duchess is a vignette of class and sophistication. Whether indoors or outside, the store exudes posh and chic style. The natural setting and the structure’s fine bones all lend to exhibiting elegant material goods. The mood is set, the colors are modern yet soothing and the older home is built with fine craftsmanship and expensive millwork.

ML at one of the many Duchess garden spots under a banana yellow Datura Tree.

After a pleasant shopping experience, we headed towards Green Door Cafe, a few blocks away. At Green Door, vegan and vegetarians eat together amidst art created by the owner’s son. My favorite appetizer is the buffalo cauliflower. The florets are drenched in an orange, hot sauced batter and baked. The accompanying vegan ranch dip cools the heat and coats your mouth with tanginess. 

We agreed on sharing the kale walnut muffin with icing which was to die for.

Although we stayed close to home, we had a satisfying adventure.


Y4 – Day 114 – Cafe Gratitude in Newport

Cafe Gratitude in Newport Beach, CA is just Gratitude. It is located at 1617 Westcliff Drive along busy 17th St. The name changed to Westcliff somewhere along the two or so miles away from the 55 South but it is the same road.

Everything is fancier for the fancy beach folk in Newport. The eatery is no exception.

Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley is very Berkeley. It’s bohemian and does its own thing which is raw vegan last time we went which was a while ago, Mother’s Day when the eldest was in college, so quite some time. I was raw at the time so it must have been 2009. No one enjoyed it at the time except maybe V. I believe everyone went out for burgers after I stuffed myself with almost the entire menu, knowing this might be my one big chance to eat at the famous Cafe Gratitude I had read about in their array of books I owned and had made recipes from. Their well thought out menu names are touching and positive.

Then, another time, my friend Danananda swept me off to the Peace Labyrinth Gardens in LA and we ate at the other Cafe Gratitude, I remember it was on Larchmont. Here, the restaurant group had already began to expand to include cooked vegan food as well. Again, it was delicious and we both ate from each other’s plates and had desserts. This must have been about three or four years ago.

Today, we went to the new Gratitude. 

“Have you been here before?” asked our server.

“Yes,” we said in unison and then, “I have been to the one in Berkeley.” I said.

“I haven’t been to that one, but I have been to the very first one in San Francisco.” added Dana.

” I had no idea there was one in SF.” I said with a tilt of my head to hear more.

“Yes, it’s called Gracias, Madre.” our server piped in.

“OMG!” I shrieked, almost falling off my chair with the biggest smile on my face, ” That’s where my kids took me and ML to in SF when we were there last September!” and  I added, ” That was incredible! If your food is as good as that, I will be coming back”, I punctuated with a sense of relief as my whole countenance relaxed because now I knew I was in good hands. See blog post on Gracias Madre.

After re-reading the menu in between sharing and contemplating what exactly we were going to pick, I ended up indulging on the item I intuited I needed at first glance, minutes before. Every ingredient is organic and all the offerings are vegan. My kind of speed.

Danananda had the Humble Bowl which included red dal, quinoa, spinach, yams, coconut mint chutney and spicy tomato jam. In place of the quinoa, one had the option of sprouted probiotic brown rice instead, a nice touch.

I tasted her Indian flavors but was relishing my Warm-Hearted entree which was a bit more Northern Italian, clashing with her spices, so I stuck to my plate. She felt the same after trying mine.

My dish was grilled polenta with mushroom ragu, wild arugula, cashew ricotta, brazil nut parmesan and fresh basil cut chiffonade style, with a side of marinara and pesto sauces because I just had to test as much of their food as possible in one sitting, of course.

The presentation is a bit homey looking, less chef like than I expected, but I guess that’s what they are going for nowadays.

And Gracias Madre is still my favorite of the chain.

I savored every bite and we concluded the meals represented us well.

“Humble and Warm-Hearted”

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Y4 – Day 34 – Mountain Vignette

I love the look of rustic with modern or traditional with rugged textures, industrial chic mixed in with classic curves, or retro farmhouse with contemporary slick colors. It is curious what will catch your eye and how we all feel differently about beauty. It is unique to bring yourself into your environment. I especially felt validated when I saw the frames inside the frames on the raw hewed wooden vertical log siding. I had wanted to use bare frames of different sizes and colors on a partial wall and I am even more determined to accomplish that. Notice the cute galvanized bucket hanging from the back handlebars of this two seater. The ironwork is painted a pure white and contrasts starkly like snow against the natural, dark wooded cabin.

IMG_0690At the same cute spot filled with themed, 1910-1920 style cabins among landscaped vignettes up in Skyforest, (wherein we ate scrumptious pizza at Lou and Eddie’s), I saw this sign outside on the patio and had to share it. C’mon, it is hysterical!!


Y3 – Day 269 – Gracias, Madre

In the heart of the Mission District of San Francisco lies a little known gem tucked away amongst dubious buildings where the best organic, vegan, Mexican style food was ever served. It is called Gracias, Madre.

The plates we had there were even enjoyed by non-vegans in our group. It was high gourmet dining just the way I like it. It was the best produce made with love and intention.

Incredible sauces and techniques takes one cook maybe half a day to prepare but in a professional kitchen, it becomes a snap and is the daily regime.

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Y3 – Day 216 – Yum Yum at Native Foods

IMG_4249Chicken wings with ranch dressing, Azteca salad with jicama, avocado and cucumbers drenched in a lime mango dressing and Taco Salad with corn, cilantro, tortilla strips, green onions, salsa, seitan taco crumbles with chipotle sauce on the side.

Yum Yum at Native Foods in Costa Mesa with yoga mentor/friend Dana celebrating my birthday and the metaphysical “clearing” of her home of any unwanted energy.

We walked over and it started to pour just as we were served. It stopped raining when we were ready to walk back. It has never rained before in the summer and we both commented how all the precipitation we are getting is crazy. She doesn’t recall this sort of weather and she is a native.

Y3 – Day 146 – The Modern

DSC09442I knew just by passing by the sidewalk window that we were going to have an experience.

DSC09445 From the Sculpture/Atrium Garden of MoMA we could see the outdoor seating and through the tall glass into the dining area. Beyond the formal supper seating, where all tables were physically spaced with enough room for conversational privacy, there was a raucous bar with cute cocktail tables. The bar scene was in full swing by the time we left with every stool and table taken. Loud music and laughter was somehow screened off from our table which ended up being the one where you see a waiter, 2nd to the left large window. Attention to detail, waitstaff that pampered and amazing, artistic food awaited us. No one rushed us, everyone treated us like royalty and we spent three solid hours at our table. DSC09446

At each table, a rare, solitary, yellow columbine was placed in a vase.

Y3 – Day 145 – Community Food and Juice

IMG_4042Last meal with the girls in NYC consisted of Tangy Sourdough & Sweet Garlic Confit. Followed by an Asian Salad, a Kale Farro salad for my daughters and a creamy Tomato Soup and mini Goat cheese sandwich for  me.

The restaurant named Community Food and Juice, has rough hewn, reclaimed wood floors and tables. It is in the Columbia neighborhood on Broadway between 116th and 118th St. Most of the menu is organic or local and sustainable. In fact, the food is so fresh, the menu changes to suit the availability of produce and seasons. Even the milk and coffee are local and organic.

For dessert we splurged and enjoyed an espresso creme brûlée, berries with whipped cream and a delectable and humongous Key Lime pie. Here are the before and after pictures.IMG_4043

We thoroughly enjoyed our time together in the Grad’s hood.IMG_4044

Y3 – Day 121 – Dinner without Cindi

Rare  – but it happened. 

In a heat wave you just don’t want to take out your pooch to dine. After gently coercing Cindi to stroll around the backyard in the shade and take care of business, feed her her dinner, we took off on our own.

Heaven forbid, yup, that is right…without the dog.

It felt like the first time out on a date without an infant.

First, we went to The Fish Market on Chapman, by the community college, which has new owners. Then, our very first time at Tru Blu Organic Coffees. And then, to start a weekend of debauchery we went to Pacific Ranch Market to mainly fill a bakery box full of naughty, naughty sweets.

IMG_3927Wild Caught Mahi Mahi fish tacos with coleslaw.

IMG_3930Delicious Organic Decaf with Organic Almond Milk over Ice and a Frapuccino were great dessert accompaniments.

We also tried the organic chocolate truffle covered in organic coconut.

Upon arriving home, Cindi greeted us with kisses and running back and forth between us and all around in her excitement and joy!!