September 18

Napa Palisades Saloon Serves Up Vegan Vittles!

better logo2

After reading an article about Napa Palisades Saloon having a vegan-friendly menu, I figured it was time to go check out downtown Napa’s newest bar. But since giving up meat eight years ago, when it comes to dining out, the word spontaneity no longer exists in my vocabulary. When Steve and I plan to go out for a meal, schedule a road trip or fly out of town…I have to research (ad nauseam) to find out what and where my vegan dining opportunities will be. And to be honest, I have lost count of all of the times that I have been told or read that a place has veg-friendly choices only to walk in and be met with a blank stare. So, first I checked out the Saloon’s menu. As has become the norm with restaurants in Napa Valley, there was no indication on any of the menu items whether anything was vegetarian or vegan-friendly. Well, I thought, someone wrote an article and specifically mentioned that the Saloon offered vegan options so I didn’t give up there.  Next step. I called. There was no answer so I left a voicemail message introducing myself, my blog and my interest in trying their food so could someone give me a call back? And then I waited…and waited. After a week or so went by, I realized that I was probably not going to hear back from anyone. My thoughts at that point were…well, if they are doing that well that they don’t need my business, okay…they won’t get my business. And then I got back to my crazy busy life and promptly forgot all about them! Then on Labor Day, I received a comment from one of my new blog followers, Jennifer. She mentioned in her comment that she had recently dined at Napa Palisades Saloon and had really enjoyed the experience. I am a big believer in “signs” and that was the sign I needed to give this another shot.

The following week Steve and I had a Wednesday evening free so headed downtown to check this joint out! We got there at about 7 p.m. and the place was packed. I’m in my mid-40s now, and though you may not believe it by reading my blog postings, I am more of a foodie than an oenophile. And with all of the Michelin starred restaurants and highly respected Chefs in Napa Valley, when I walk into an establishment I expect to walk into a restaurant that happens to have a bar. It may be an excellent bar, but the bar is always secondary to the food experience. So imagine my surprise when I walked into Palisades. It was a loud, busy, full-fledged bar that just happened to have some tables! Every one of the 6 or 7 tables was full, all 15 bar stools were taken, loud music and even louder voices filled the air and there were 8 flat screens filled with sports. Besides the wrinkles and the need for reading glasses to see the menu, I felt like a 20-something again! The saloon is small – I didn’t have to get very far passed the doorway to see that seating was limited. But as I looked around, I found 2 chairs tucked into the end of the bar. And though I haven’t been a 20-something in a few years, I knew the seats were going to go fast if I didn’t take them!  It felt really strange at first…our seats were just regular height chairs that tucked into a desk-like dining table that butted right up to the bar. We were looking up at all of the other patrons AND the bartender like we were at the kiddy table. But once we got settled in, we had this whole space for my handbag, our food and plenty of room for drinks. It felt really intimate and though we only sat there by default I’m going to try for those seats every time I go in now!

Rustic Industrial Decor
The kiddy table is at the bottom left of this photo!

The table gave me a great view of the whole place – it has a rustic industrial vibe. The bar top is made of wood but the HVAC duct work along the ceiling gives it the feel of a small warehouse. The kitchen is wide open showing all of the stainless steel appliances. I really liked the feel of it – I lived in an old unrenovated loft in LoDo (Lower Downtown Denver) near Union Station and Coors Field in my late 20s and it took me back to that rather boozy, happy phase of my life!

better menu

I mentioned earlier that since making the switch to a humane lifestyle, I tend to be a bit obsessive about my research. Well, thanks to Jennifer, I did not have to spend any more time researching my food so I decided to take a look at their Drink menu. I drink wine, I really like wine but sometimes I just need a damn break from wine. Beer…used to drink it, never really liked it, so never drink it anymore. Ahh, but then I spied the hard cider! Yes! I love hard cider. Years ago, my sister Christy spent a college term in Moscow. At that time (and maybe it still is…) it was really hard to get into Russia. So, when she finished up her term we met in Paris instead. We spent the next couple weeks exploring Paris, Calais, Dover, London and the stunning Lake District in Northern England. It was through these journeys that I had my first Burger King veggie burger experience (I never liked eating meat even when I was a meat eater!) and I had my first Strongbow Cider. It seemed to be on tap at every single pub and I loved it! Hmmm…I just realized that cider is almost like combining beer with wine. Interesting! Anyway, that is how my love affair with cider began. However, just like wine and beer, sometimes animal product is used in the fermentation or filtration process of cider. Unfortunately, Strongbow is not vegan-friendly but I will always have beautiful memories of the time we spent together abroad.

Round One!
Round One!

When researching the vegan-friendliness of a drink, I always prefer to go straight to the source whenever possible. That is what has been so interesting but time-consuming about doing the research for my blog. When I can’t go straight to the source, I do sometimes use Barnivore.com. It is a very helpful resource to use if I don’t have access to the master brewer or winemaker. The Saloon has two hard ciders on their menu  – Crispin Pear is available by the bottle and Foxcraft Blood Orange is on tap. Their online menu lists Golden State cider available on tap but according to their bartender, Chris, they no longer offer it. If you find it somewhere else though, it is vegan. Yay! I found Crispin on Barnivore.com and they do not use ANY animal products in the production of their ciders. They do make a couple that contain honey but the Saloon currently only offers the pear cider which is vegan-friendly. Foxcraft is not listed on Barnivore’s website so I headed over to Facebook to see if I could have some dialogue with them there. I’ve got to tell you that they were amazing! They confirmed with their master brewer that they do not use any animal products while creating the cider. They pride themselves on creating a clean, additive free hard cider. I did not learn this until after I had left Palisades so I ordered the Crispin Pear cider. It was so good I had 2 bottles! And I picked up a four pack of the blackberry pear cider this week. I will absolutely try the Foxcraft cider the next time I head to the Saloon. They worked so hard to answer my questions so the least I can do is support them and drink their cider!

Vegan Falafel burger
Vegan Falafel burger

Okay, so once I got my drink it was time to get to the food! I went over the menu with Chris and he took all of my questions back to their Chef. This is what we came up with – vegan bar snacks include the crispy chickpeas with chili and lime and the avocado toast drizzled with habanero oil (just ask them to remove the cheese!). The Between Breads option is the crispy falafel burger made without the dairy. Vegan Sides include the green beans with garlic and lime and the fries. While ordering, I missed the beets with avocado, nuts and lime under the Apps section of the menu. You will need to ask but they may be able to make that vegan if they hold the honey and goat cheese! I wanted to try everything but settled for the falafel burger, fries and an order of the avocado toast. The burger came on a big platter with a huge bun, lettuce, tomato and these really tasty pickled veggies. I skipped the bun and dug into the burger. It was crispy on the outside and soft and tasty on the inside. The fries came out hot and salty and just about perfect. The avocado drizzled with the habanero oil was so simple yet so delicious. I will definitely order the avocado toast again! It was a lot of food for two people. We finished off the fries and toast but I got to take half the burger home for later! And to feel even better about the food I ate, they also use local and organic ingredients.

Exterior shot
Stop me if you’ve heard this joke before. Two vegans walk into a bar…

The bar is located at 1000 Main Street, Suite 100 in downtown Napa and is a great place to meet up with friends. And from the crowd that was there that night, it is obvious that a lot of other Napkins feel the same way! Thanks for joining me again on my vegan adventures. I look forward to running into you at Napa Palisades Saloon and as always…eat, drink and be vegan!

June 19

Heritage Eats – Creating Custom Vegan Eats and Good Vibes!

As I noticed the new construction being done in Bel Aire Plaza near Pier 1 over the last few months, my excitement began to build. Any time there is a new restaurant launch, it always means the possibility of new vegan options in Napa Valley! Though I no longer allow meat, eggs or dairy in my diet, I am a Foodie. I love good food! And then the sign went up…Heritage Eats where Slow Meats Fast. Slow meats fast, what?! Well, let’s just say that my excitement began to dwindle a bit. But for those of you who have never met me, I am ALWAYS up for a challenge. I had a little free time this week and stopped by to check things out!

Exterior shot

The space is large, open, light and white. Very clean and minimalistic looking with large photos of the local farmers and ranchers that are a part of their community. Ordering the food has a bit of a “cafeteria-style” feel to it where I could see all of my food choices as they prepared my feast. My first choice was sandwich, salad or rice bowl? Since I am always a sucker for fresh garden greens, I went for the salad. For those of you who love rice bowls, their yellow steamed rice is made with coconut milk so vegan-friendly. If you like the hands-on approach for your meal, the corn or flour tortilla wrap is for you. Next, I picked my “protein” – a tasty vegan, gluten-free crispy chickpea falafel. Then I added some quinoa tabbouleh (ahh, can you say super food?!), a dollop of garlic hummus and fire grilled vegetables topped off with sweet crunchy cabbage slaw. Quick caveat here – the slaw does contain honey which is typically not a part of my diet but I have to admit that the combination of sweet honey, garlic, crunchy cabbage and the smoky flavor of the fire grilled vegetables was absolutely amazing! In addition to the grilled vegetables, the pico de gallo, asian pickle and roasted corn & edamame are ALL vegan! Last but not least, are the sauces. The sauces will really allow you to customize your meal and 4 of them – pineapple habanero, heritage BBQ, salsa roja and harissa are animal product free!

menu board

cashier

The Co-Founders Ben Koenig and Chef Jason Kupper were kind enough to chat with me about their inspirations for Heritage Eats. Ben is an avid traveler that spent much of 2014 backpacking through the Middle East and Asia drawing inspiration for the restaurant from his experiences. He literally wrote their business plan in Goa (I had to Google that one – it’s in south west India) and refined it in Bhutan, Vietnam and Thailand. After graduating with a degree in Economics from New York University, Ben worked for Goldman Sacs in New York City. His career then led him to hospitality and concept design with AvroKO before becoming the Assistant General Manager for The Thomas in downtown Napa. Jason is an advocate for small farms and loves the blending of local and global flavors in a “street food” style. Like Ben, Jason hails from New Jersey but their partnership began after meeting at The Thomas where Jason served as the Chef de Cuisine. This experience was a huge inspiration in the creation of their menu for Heritage Eats. Jason’s vast experience in the food industry includes Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Yountville, Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg and Charlie Palmer at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas. Combining their fine dining experience, travels abroad and appreciation for the bounty of food California has to offer, they formed a gastronomic match made in heaven!

Chef and Co-Founder, Jason Kupper
Chef and Co-Founder, Jason Kupper
Co-Founder, Ben Koenig
Co-Founder, Ben Koenig

My meal was really incredible but what will keep me coming back is their for-purpose business plan. For-purpose is a growing trend that applies business principles to social reform. Ben and Jason have partnered with the Washington D.C. based charity Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry. With the staggering statistics that 1 in 5 kids in America do not get the food they need and 16 million children in the U.S. struggle every day with hunger, this philanthropic organization works to ensure every child in the U.S. has access to a healthy meal. With schools out for the summer, this is truly the hungriest time of year for many of our children. For the many children who rely on school meals, SOS/NKH is working to improve the way our country feeds our kids! Click here to see Share Our Strength discuss their No Kid Hungry campaign!  Kind, philanthropic and vegan-friendly? Consider me a regular!

Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Mission

Heritage Eats is located at 3824 Bel Aire Plaza in Napa serving local food to the locals (non-locals welcome too!) Sunday – Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday & Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Though they have only been open since May, they already have a large and loyal following. I asked my husband to stop in on a Wednesday evening while running errands to take a few more photos for me and Heritage Eats was packed full of happy diners! Always a good sign that the food is good and the prices are accessible! Welcome to the concept of fast fine dining!

Together, let’s support our local businesses who not only make a profit but give back too! And as always…eat, drink & be vegan!

June 9

Napa Valley Vegan Journeys From NorCal to Up North!

I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. If this is the first time you have heard that Michigan has an upper peninsula, don’t feel bad. Approximately 95% of the people I meet, have no idea either! In fact, most people don’t know that the state is made up of two peninsulas – the formerly mentioned Upper and the Lower. The Upper Peninsula is surrounded by three of the majestic Great Lakes – Michigan, Superior and Huron. The Lower Peninsula is surrounded by Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and the tip of Lake Eerie. I always feel sorry for those who give me that blank, vacant stare when I talk about growing up on the Great Lakes. It makes me sad that so many people have such a vague recollection of the very existence of these amazing lakes. And even more so that they have never had the opportunity to see or play in these amazing bodies of water. The Great Lakes have long been referred to as the Third Coast. I know, I know…no one believes me when I share this information with them. But it is true! The Great Lakes – Superior, Michigan, Huron, Eerie and Ontario form the largest group of freshwater on the entire planet! In fact, they contain over 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water by volume! Fun (and unbelievable) facts – Lake Superior is the largest continental lake in the whole wide world based on it volume (it’s REALLY cold too) and Lake Michigan is the largest lake on the planet that is located entirely within one country! And due to the sea-like characteristics – rolling waves, sustained winds, strong currents, great depths and far-off horizons -the five Great Lakes have long been referred to as inland seas. Yep, due to the over 10,900 MILES of coastline, the Great Lakes provide excellent surfing conditions. Prime surfing is from October to April and has been drawing surfers since the 1960s. These are extra hardy surfers because not only do they have to deal with water that can reach freezing temperatures, they also have to watch out for floating blocks of ice! And if you aren’t impressed enough, my home state of Michigan has 3,288 miles of coast line. That is more than any other state (including my adopted home of California) except Alaska! Now you understand that growing up in a state like Michigan I had to come to a state like California to be sufficiently impressed!

My home state!
My home state!

I recently went back to Northern Michigan to celebrate my younger sister Keegan’s wedding. I am very close to that tipping point of living out of the state of Michigan longer than I lived in the state of Michigan. But I have many, many relatives that still call Michigan home. Apparently, unless you have the nomadic gene that I was born with, Michigan is a place that many never want to leave! And because of my extra-large clan, I always have a blast when I visit. My flight took me from San Francisco to Detroit before reaching my final destination – Traverse City. I was actually pretty excited about my dining options in Detroit – I mean…as excited as anyone can get about airport food, anyway. Though the Detroit airport’s rating keeps going down every year, it is still ranked as one of the most veg-friendly airports in the U.S. I went online and checked out my options which included rave reviews about Mediterranean Grill’s Fattoush salad and vegetarian grape leaves & hummus pita wrap. There were also a couple honorable mentions for the vegetarian sandwich at Earl of Sandwich and the hummus vegetable wrap at National Coney Island Express. I figured I was covered so didn’t give it anymore thought! My flight left San Francisco at 7 a.m. and I had every intention of sleeping all the way to Michigan. Instead, I met the nicest guy Mo and we talked and talked the entire flight. It really made the four hour flight “fly” by! I landed in Terminal A and having a pretty small window to freshen up, get food and get to my next flight in Terminal B, I headed off for Mediterranean Grill. As I drew closer, I started to get a little suspicious because in just about the same spot I expected to see the Grill, I noticed many rows of seats. I popped over to a directory, found the You Are Here star and noticed that the Mediterranean Grill was blacked out and really had been replaced by…chairs! By now, I am REALLY hungry. Between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. Delta Airlines offers ZERO vegan breakfast, lunch or dinner options. And the calories from the couple granola bars I brought with me had LONG since burned off! My back-up plan was a really bad back-up plan because Coney Island Express and Earl of Sandwich were both at Gate D while I was very much still in Gate A and running out of time. I grabbed my stuff and headed toward my connecting flight just hoping that I would find something vegan-friendly on the way. Just as I was making the turn toward my Gate, I noticed an Einstein Bros. Bagels. When I lived in Boulder Colorado over 16 years ago, that used to be one of my favorite spots to stop for a bagel sandwich. The bagels were freshly baked, the ingredients were always tasty and the staff was hilarious. Knowing that it had been 16 years and Einstein Bros. had also become a national chain featured in an airport, I didn’t expect perfection and was quite frankly out of time to care. There were NO vegetarian options so I ordered a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter and jelly hoping the bagels were at least vegan-friendly. It was a huge disappointment – tiny bagel, not very fresh and the peanut butter and jelly both contained corn syrup and other frightening ingredients. But the bagel was warm and I knew I would not make it until I got to Traverse City! I left the PB&J packets for someone else to enjoy and gobbled up my bagel! Mental note – next flight through Detroit – pack myself a more sustainable lunch or make sure I have enough time in between flights to find my way to the veg-friendly restaurants!

Leave it to Detroit to add a subway inside their airport. Love it!
Leave it to Detroit to add a subway inside their airport. Love it!

I have lived in Northern California for three and a half years and have gotten to the point where I am not shocked or surprised anymore when I run into a celebrity or two along the way. Well, I do have to admit that chatting with Garrett Dillahunt was the absolute highlight of my week when I met him at the Napa Valley Film Festival. And I might still be grinning like a fool since I got to hug Mr. Big after a stage performance in Yountville. Other than that, I am just as cool as a cucumber, obviously. But running into a celebrity at the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan? The city is known as the Cherry Capital of the World, but celebrities? Well, that is definitely a bit of a surprise. As I wandered through the airport looking for my limo service – AKA my sister Christy and her bright blue, sporty Ford Focus – I noticed Carter Oosterhouse. For those of you who aren’t DIY fans, Carter Oosterhouse started out as the way too gorgeous carpenter on TLC’s reality program Trading Spaces. I loved the show especially because of the adorable host Page Davis. The program ran eight seasons from 2000-2008 and also launched the career of Ty Pennington – the original carpenter!  As I met up with my sister Christy and excitedly told her about my celebrity sighting, she reminded me that Carter grew up in TC and now owns a local winery with his brother. She was definitely not as excited as I was. Okay. Fine!

Cherry Capitol Airport has it's own Stand Up Paddleboard!
Cherry Capitol Airport has it’s own Stand Up Paddleboard!

By the time I landed in TC and was ready to hit the road for our hour long drive north to Charlevoix, I had been on the go for over seven hours. And almost sensing my dining troubles, Christy had stopped at my favorite vegan-friendly spot in TC to get me some vegan appropriate sustenance! Oryana Natural Foods Market is located at 260 East Tenth Street and has offered the area a community cooperative since 1973. Which I love, of course. But even more than that, I love all of the organic, vegan-friendly options they offer in their diner, juice bar, bakery, hot bar and market. It is food nirvana for me! Though I didn’t spend much time in Traverse City after the wedding, I made sure I visited Oryana a couple times to stock up. I devoured their handmade vegan black bean burrito on the way to Charlevoix. I also got to enjoy their cashew brown rice and peanut curry tofu from the hot bar. And on my way to a family pizza feast, I stopped in and found a delicious vegan pasty with an amazing crisp pastry shell and stuffed with potatoes, carrots and rutabaga. Delicious!

Outside dining at Oryana
Outside dining at Oryana

Oryana logo

For most of you, raising money while you were in school probably brings back memories of selling cookies & rice krispie treats. For us Yoopers, we raised money by selling pasties. Freshly baked and stuffed full of meat and vegetables before being lovingly wrapped with tin foil and sold to the masses! Though pasties date back to as early as the 1300s, they are often linked back to Cornwall, England. Beginning in the 1600s, the tin miners adopted it because it was a complete meal that could be easily carried and eaten without cutlery. The folded pastry kept the filling warm for hours in the mine but could also be easily warmed up on a shovel over a candle. As tin mining began to decline, the migrating Cornish miners, spread the pasties worldwide. Because of the U.P.’s Copper Country copper mines, pasties became a huge part of our culture. Tourists come from all over to enjoy the Upper Peninsula’s pasties. They have become so popular, that Calumet, Michigan throws a Pasty Fest every year in late June! I hadn’t had a pasty in decades and certainly not since becoming vegan, so it was a lovely surprise full of wonderful memories!

We Yoopers love our pasties!
We Yoopers love our pasties!

My sister Keegan was born and raised in Traverse City and even though she now lives in Brooklyn, NY and works as a freelance carpenter and welder on various theater and stage projects, Northern Michigan is where she wanted to return to celebrate her wedding! She and her husband Doss found Castle Farms and knew that was the place for them to celebrate their love. Castle Farms is located in charming Charlevoix about an hour north of Traverse City. Charlevoix sits between majestic Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix.

Welcome to Charlevoix!
Welcome to Charlevoix!
The view of Lake Charlevoix from our rental home!
The view of Lake Charlevoix from our rental home!

Castle Farms French Renaissance-style castle was built in 1918 and is full of old-world charm. It is not only a celebrated wedding venue in Northern Michigan but is also an historical attraction that is listed on both the National and State Historic Registries. Between the amazingness of the castle structures and the truly magnificent grounds and gardens, it is one absolutely beautiful place. Castle Farms already held amazing memories for me even prior to the wedding because it was a huge concert venue when I was a teenager in the 80s. I saw Rick Springfield and Billy Idol perform there. Along with bands like Bon Jovi, REO Speedwagon, PowerStation and OMD. Wow, did I have fun at Castle Farms. Over the years it became dilapidated and rundown, until it was purchased in 2005 and completely restored. It was an amazing ceremony and reception. And though I was not able to enjoy the delicious looking wedding cake, my sis Christy baked me a luscious vegan mini-chocolate cake so I could  also enjoy the experience. The caterers – Grey Gables Restaurant and Catering – prepared me a delicious vegan entrée of quinoa and asparagus, green beans and roasted potatoes. I was really pleased and definitely did not go hungry!

Mrs. Doss and Mr. Keegan's first dance!
Mrs. Doss and Mr. Keegan’s first dance!
My sister Christy, my Mom Kit, my sister Kodie and me. Ready for the festivities to begin!
My sister Christy, my Mom Kit, my sister Kodie and me. Ready for the festivities to begin!
Castle Farms!
Castle Farms!

Click to view a video of beautiful Castle Farms

The charming town of Charlevoix and the neighboring town of Petoskey, also have many vegan-friendly restaurants. City Park Grill has separate vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus. And since all meals are “made from scratch” they are happy to “veganize” anything on their menu. I enjoyed a delicious grilled Portobello mushroom on wild rice pilaf and vegetables. It was just amazing! They also offer a nice menu of micro brews and Michigan craft bottled beer. I had a delicious panini sandwich at Scovie’s Gourmet in downtown Charlevoix – the Grilled Tree Hugger (love the name) was piled with grilled zucchini, squash, eggplant, roasted red peppers, carrots, sweet onions and animal-product free pesto. Though I ran out of time to try all the restaurants I wanted to, if you are looking for a finer dining experience The Weathervane Restaurant offers several vegan entrees. If you are in the mood for Thai food, Asian Fusion is the place to go! After 4 nights of too little sleep and too much fun, the family caravan headed back to Traverse City. I mentioned earlier that I have lived away from Michigan now for almost as long as I lived there (and for the first 16 years I also did not know how to drive!) so Christy took me on the scenic tour back to TC. We stopped by Elk Rapids to explore its cute little downtown area and found Java Jones. Java Jones is a large, eclectic coffee shop that brews Ferris Coffee. Ferris Coffee was founded in Grand Rapids in 1924 and has been passionate about roasting superior coffee ever since. They believe in the need for sustainability in the specialty coffee industry and the importance of understanding the needs and production costs of the coffee producers they work with. They support direct trade and do so by visiting farms and working with the producers so they can build relationships that last for years. Java Jones offers vegan soups daily and has almond and soy milk for vegan lattes. Since getting my own espresso machine a couple years ago, I buy lattes less and less. Java Jones, however, was a stop I’m glad I made!

City Park Grill's Grilled Portobello on Wild Rice Pilaf
City Park Grill’s Grilled Portobello on Wild Rice Pilaf
Yay!
Yay! And local cider on tap too!
Scovie's Gourmet Grilled Tree Hugger panini
Scovie’s Gourmet Grilled Tree Hugger Panini

Scovie's menu

My Sis and I hug wrestling the famous Elk Rapids green bear!
My Sis and I hug wrestling the famous Elk Rapids green bear!

JJ2

My flight back to San Francisco did not leave Traverse City until 5:30 p.m. so I had all day to continue playing and see my very best friend Kris from my high school days. Christy and I spent a lazy morning on her huge oversized patio overlooking the Platte River while I breathed in my most favorite olfactory memory – the hardy and beautiful lilac flowers and watched dozens of robin red breasts try to literally eat every earthworm in my sister’s yard. Then the three of us girls headed about 10 miles straight west to gorgeous Frankfort. I am embarrassed to say that I never visited this adorable little town once while I lived in Northern Michigan. It is such a lovely little town with the main street lined with restaurants, bakeries and shops. The street dead ends right at the Frankfort Beach and Pier on Lake Michigan. It was truly so beautiful that it almost brought me to tears. Absolutely stunning!

Dazzling Lake Michigan and the Frankfort Pier
Dazzling Lake Michigan and the Frankfort Pier

After playing in the sand and dipping my toes in the icy waters, we headed back for some lunch. StormCloud Brewing Company’s menu impressed me immediately. At the top of their menu just below their flatbread pizza, read “Vegan cheese and Gluten-free crust available upon request”! Yahoo! I asked our server to “veganize” the Roasted Root pizza, add the daiya cheese and bring me a hard cider crafted by local brewer Left Foot Charley! Another perfect Northern Michigan meal! With over half of the 10 inch flatbread pizza leftover, I also had dinner for my journey home. Excellent!!!

Vegan Roasted Root Pizza
Vegan Roasted Root Pizza

I spent most of my childhood dreaming about living somewhere, anywhere other than Northern Michigan. It has literally taken decades of me living in other parts of the country to truly appreciate this beautiful place that I used to call home. My fellow vegan travelers, this is a beautiful and amazing place to visit. Don’t let any more time go by; you need to experience the Great Lakes and the beauty of Northern Michigan. And the great news is that there are so many restaurants that are vegan-friendly. I know I will be heading back soon. I hope to see you there!!

Thanks for joining me on my week long Michigan adventure. And as always…eat, drink and be vegan!