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Grateful for Cafe Gratitude

There is one more San Francisco foodie experience I must share with you. I know I am still leaving out the gala dinner. I will get to that in some form or another. But first things first.

Over the weekend, I chowed down on burgers, octopus, pork, buttery croissants, to name a few. But not all of it was animal based. In fact, I ate a lot of vegan while there too!

It started on Friday after a yoga class at San Francisco’s Yoga to the People. Astrid and I showed up with 50 lbs of luggage, only to find out we had to climb five flights of stairs to get to the studio.

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You have got to be kidding me.

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I think we could have skipped the sun salutations, we were already warmed up when we got there!

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The climb however was worth it, as the studio was gorgeous. Large and bright, with windows overlooking the San Francisco cityscape. I know some people think doing a yoga class is a weird way to experience a city. I did the same thing while in Banff. However, finding new yoga studios is one of my favourite ways to experience a new locale!

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The class itself was wonderful. Not so much “hot yoga” as “warm yoga.” Enough to open you up. Crazy leg postures, including a low lunge for what felt like 10 minutes. I left feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and completely elated!

It was with this feeling that I first experienced Cafe Gratitude.

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A small vegan restaurant that specializes in mostly raw dishes. Apparently they used to operate on a by-donation basis.

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I loved everything down to the cloth napkins.

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My table started with an I Am Abundant Sampler Plate.                  

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Sprouted almond hummus, hempseed pesto crostini, spicy cashew nacho cheese w/flax chips, olive tapenade, buckwheat crackers, spring roll & mini house soup.

Cafe Gratitude only just started serving warm dishes and didn’t even have an oven when we were there. Thus, only served two of their cooked options. I opted for the I Am Trusting Tamal Plate.

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A hamdmade corn tamal made with stone-ground heirloom masa and filled w/ seasonal vegetables served with beans, salsa verde & Mexican cilantro coleslaw.

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I don’t think I’ve had a tamale since I was in Mexico 8 years ago!! I loved the cilantro slaw and the green salsa.

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The best part though were the pieces of squash in the tamale. Great for taste and texture.

After lunch, we decided it would probably be in our best interest to order dessert too.

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I Am Devoted Coconut Cream Pie: Rich coconut cream pie in a coconut-date crust. Holy coconuts!! I definitely would not compare this to the real thing, but that doesn’t mean this version still wasn’t delicious. So coconutty and surprisingly fluffy in the centre considering no cream was used.

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Group shot stolen borrowed from Ashley :)

Come Sunday evening, I found myself with no official schedule or dinner plans. When I heard a group of bloggers were hitting up Cafe Gratitude, it sounded like just what I needed after a weekend of heavy food.

I hummed and hawed over what to get once again. Picking the menu up, feeling overwhelmed, then setting it down again.

I finally decided on a dish that caught my eye on that first visit. I didn’t want to leave wondering what it tasted like!

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I Am Festive Taco Salad: Shredded romaine lettuce with crumbled pumpkin seed-walnut taco filling, guacamole, salsa & cashew nacho cheese, topped with flax chips.

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I loved the flax chips. Some people thought they were a touch too spicy, but they were right up my alley. The walnut taco filling was good too, however there wasn’t enough of it. Cashew nacho cheese was creamy and spicy, but this time too much of it! I totally blanked and forgot to ask for it on the side.

Even though I got just a half order of the salad, my belly filled quickly from all the delicious food ingested over my weekend at the Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco.

Sometimes it’s easy to zip through vacations so quickly that they’re gone in a blink of an eye. Suddenly, you’re laying in bed watching Mad Men in Toronto thinking, “Wasn’t I just soaking up the rays in California?”

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Thankfully, Cafe Gratitude slowed me down just long enough to appreciate being in that moment. With new blog friends, enjoying wonderful food, in a place I never expected to be.

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Picture copied borrowed from Raya.

And for the record, Cafe Gratitude gets extra points for proper signage.

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For all you Americans who say “bathroom” ;)

 

My other Foodbuzz Festival/San Francisco recaps:
California Dreamin’
The Bakery That Changed My Life
All Good Things Come To An End
A Food Lover’s Paradise
A West Coast Story

West Coast Story

I’ve been back from California for a day now, and I must say I’m suffering from a little post-vacay depression!

I flew out of San Francisco Monday afternoon.

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Said goodbye to the California landscape and quickly saw the snow-capped mountains!

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I sat next to an adorable elderly gentleman who offered to take my picture. Said he hadn’t used a camera in 40 years!

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My body is all kinds of screwed up from the three hour difference between Eastern and Pacific time. Not to mention, Daylight Savings happened while I was away. Ohyes, and my calves are screaming from walking the hills, and my back is effed from lugging around a heavy hiking bag!

Le sigh. I think it’s time to relieve some of the finer moments of California :)

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The Foodbuzz Festival ended Sunday morning with a farewell brunch, leaving us a whole day to explore the city. Unfortunately, this was the only day it rained!!

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Suki and her boyfriend were nice enough to bring Holly and I on our own little driving tour of San Francisco.

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First stop, obviously, were the Full House houses. Err, I mean the Painted Ladies.

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LOVE the Victorian houses in San Francisco. I oohed and aahed over the architecture there the whole time.

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The next most important touristy stop? Trader Joe’s!

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We don’t have Trader Joe’s in Canada, so we went to an area in San Francisco dubbed “Trader Joe’s Heights.”

My suitcase was already bursting with Foodbuzz swag goodies, so I couldn’t get much. Just what I could fit in my arms! (details of what these goodies are to come in another post)

Afterwards, we stopped by Baker Beach to get a spooky view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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San Francisco is known for being a foggy city, so I felt this view was actually quite appropriate.

Suki is a fellow Star Wars nerd, so we stopped by Lucas Arts to see a Yoda statue. “Size matters not…”

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The bridge is nice of look at, but of course I also wanted to go over it!

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We’d originally planned to walk it on Sunday, but the weather kinda of nixed those plans. So we opted for the dry car instead :)

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More gorgeous views of the bay!

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Going to California made me miss living by real water. I grew up next to the Atlantic Ocean, and these Great Lakes here in Ontario just don’t cut it.

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I miss the ocean!!

The rain stopped long enough for us to wander around on the other side of the bridge, which is a really cute and upper class beach town called Sausalito.

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We conveniently stopped next to an excellent burger joint in Sausalito just as we were getting hungry.

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A no-frills kind of place, with a simple sign saying “Hamburgers” over the door. Hamburgers Sausalito is just burgers, fries and pop. My kinda place.

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Plus, the Soup Nazi was here!!

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I got a lean burger with everything but mayo.

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Ohyeah. Even after eating amazing food all weekend, sometimes nothing hits the spot like a burger!

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We wandered for ice cream after, stopping at a place called Lappert’s.

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I was too full for a bowl, but still asked for a taste of a flavour I couldn’t pass up…

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Date ice cream!! I am obsessed with dates (second favourite sweet only to chocolate). It was a pretty frickin’ good bite.

Tour guides!

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Our last stop on our San Francisco tour was Ghirardelli Square/Fisherman’s Wharf.

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We received a lot of free chocolate over the course of the festival, so none of us felt the need to buy any at the store.

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But that didn’t stop us from swinging through just to get the free chocolate they hand out to everyone who walks through the door!

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Peppermint marble chocolate.  Do I even have to say it was good?

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Fisherman’s Wharf, while touristy, was still a neat little area of the city with tons of shops, and of course great food!

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Be it real crab…

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…or sourdough crab ;)

I didn’t know this before, but San Francisco is famous for its sourdough bread. We stopped by the famous Boudin Sourdough to check it out.

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The one thing I regret from my trip is that I didn’t get chowder in a sourdough bowl. We ate so much over the weekend that I really just could not fit it in my tummy. Just another excuse to go back!

And of course, to buy this hat too ;)

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Growing up near the ocean, I’ve seen my fair share of seagulls. But the ones at Fisherman’s Wharf were the biggest I’ve ever seen. Twice the size of the ones in the Northeast!

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We did a quick drive-by of Lombard Street. I still have memories of driving down it when I was a kid – and the crowds of tourists were out of control!

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Now that I’m home, it’s strange to think that I just spent a whirlwind weekend in California.

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I have a sneaking feeling I’ll be back on the West Coast soon enough though. Besides, there’s that sourdough chowder bowl I still have to get ;)

My other Foodbuzz Festival/San Francisco recaps:
California Dreamin’
The Bakery That Changed My Life
All Good Things Come To An End
A Food Lover’s Paradise

 

Question of the Day: What American city is at the top of your list to visit? I know everyone wants to gallivant around Europe and such, but I think there are so many cool places in the States I still have to visit! Top ones include: DC, Austin, Boulder, New Orleans and Seattle.

A Food Lover’s Paradise

I think I have finally digested enough to start talking about the food of the Foodbuzz Festival. I mean, that’s what it’s kind of all about, right?

I have done a fair bit of travelling to well known foodie destinations. But I think this one gets the cake (pun intended) as far as food consumption goes. And mygod. It was gooood. Here’s just a taste of it! (last pun, promise)

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Friday night’s Welcome Reception was held at the Herbst Pavillion at the Fort Mason Center.

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Beautiful views outside, but some nice foodie views inside too ;)

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Mission Mini cupcakes were all over the place as they were filming something for the Food Network.

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Free beer. Yesplease.

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Perfectly seasoned paella with octopus.
 
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One of my favourite things from Friday night. Not surprisingly, all made of pork.
 
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The apparently famous Spencer’s French Food Truck.

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But a little too greasy for my tastes.

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Some people weren’t into the esgargot, but I thought it tasted like mussels!

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More free beer.

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Paired nicely with ice cream.

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Danica insisted we try the curry wraps. By this point I was bursting and could only muster a couple bites of Janetha’s.

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Tooootally worth the tummy expansion that followed. Super spicy and in a soft wrap!

Amazingly, I woke up hungry on Saturday. After a short run along the waterfront, a visit to Tartine, and a couple breakout sessions, it was time to get our eat on again.

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This time at the Metreon, next to a park with flute players and elderly folk doing Tai Chi. I loved it.

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I’d say the Tasting Pavillion on Saturday afternoon was my favourite Foodbuzz event of the weekend.

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It was relaxed with ample time to eat and socialize. There was so much food. Not itty bitty samples of things either. We were allowed to help ourselves to as much as we wanted!

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I tried in vain to get a little bit of everything. But my belly just could not handle it. Which is saying a lot.

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Highlight here was mushroom soup.

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Trying my first ever red velvet cupcake.

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S’MORES. Made with Ghirardelli.

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Annie the Baker’s little drop of heaven cookies. Just like cookie dough.

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Waiting in line for 40 minutes for a famous Border Grill fish taco.

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Salmon with corn salsa that I will be replicating at home. SO good.

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Halibut with cucumber salsa. I also hope to make this soon!

Another first for me – my first ever fish taco! I feel as if I’ve really lived now…

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And would you believe, just hours later I sat down to a four-course meal?

I think it’s time to dig out the stretchy pants.

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