December 17

Luminance Skincare – Organic, Vegan, Handmade…Perfect!

My relationship with Luminance Skincare began in April of this year. I noticed one of their ads on Facebook and thought to myself…hmmm, that sounds promising but I really want to make more of an effort to buy locally. A week or two went by and while I was tweeting, I noticed them once again. Whether it was a sign or just the fact that the internet knows everything I have ever looked at and done online, I decided it was time to learn more. What I found out is that not only does Luminance Skincare offer vegan, organic, (mostly) raw and always toxin free products but it IS local! Kim Emanuel, the founder and formulator of Luminance Skincare, handcrafts all of his products from his studio in Benicia. It all began when they found that his wife Priscilla’s migraines were triggered by synthetic and toxic ingredients in her skincare products. Specifically, it was the synthetic petrochemical fragrances that precipitated these severe, debilitating headaches for Priscilla. Their search for “clean”, toxin-free products was made nearly impossible by the fact that almost everything being manufactured these days is loaded with harmful ingredients ranging from those synthetic fragrances to petrochemical oils, nano-particle metals and gums made of animal products. Scary stuff! All of this resonated so loudly with me. I have always had sensitive skin and the longer I consume a diet free of animal products and processed ingredients, the more sensitive I am when some of these nasties touch my skin! And though I don’t get migraines like Priscilla, when I am exposed to the sometimes as many as 200+ ingredients used to create one artificial fragrance, I begin to cough, sneeze and am sometimes congested for days. In their search, they found out the same thing that most of us have. That no matter how “natural” these products claim to be…they aren’t! And not that I trust much the FDA has to say anyway but though many of the most commonly used ingredients are known carcinogens they remain completely unregulated because we do not consume them. I guess the FDA is the only one who didn’t know that what we put on our skin ends up in our blood stream and our baby’s umbilical cord too! So, instead of giving up and accepting the sad state of our skincare products, Kim left Silicon Valley and his pilgrimage to help his wife turned into his passion to create the finest, cleanest skincare products on the planet!

My opinion is that one of the biggest downfalls of using a product based on someone else’s review is the fact that the product is never used for long. The person doing the review may use the product for three days or a week but as far as I am concerned, even with skin as sensitive as mine, I can typically use anything for a couple days without seeing any reaction or outbreak. It is really the long-term affect and benefits that I want to know about. So I set out to really learn what these products would do for me and if they were something I could commit to for the long-term and finally end my search for perfect skincare! I placed my first order in April and began my research. After having great success for several months, Kim invited me out to visit his studio. It was really cool to meet him and to stand right at the table where my moisturizer was made! Kim gave me a bag full of more of his products to try. And then earlier this fall I ordered a few more products to try. This allowed me to not only try many of Kim’s products but also to see how my skin would react (or better yet, NOT react) over an extended period of time and from Spring to Summer through Fall and Winter. Here is what I found…

My three favorites are also the three I have been using the longest – about 8 months – the Deep Hydration Facial Moisturizer, the Organic Sunscreen and the Organic Eye Cream with German Blue Chamomile. These are all a part of the Mature collection which is proven to be most effective for those of us over 35 years old.

IMG_1354 (1)
My anti-aging trifecta!

The moisturizer was a success right away. It is not only light and penetrates quickly but I did not have any breakouts which is typically how my skin reacts when it isn’t happy. And having used it for the last 8 months, I have noticed the it is helping improve the elasticity of my skin. This nourishing moisturizer has become my own special anti-aging potion!

The eye cream is hands down the best I have EVER used. In the past, the creams I tried always dried the skin out under my eyes and made the fine lines look even worse. But not this time. Using this once in the morning and once at bedtime, has not only added more hydration to the sensitive skin around my eyes but also has been very therapeutic and has actually improved the fine lines under my eyes! My upper eyelids also look more smooth and youthful.

As important as it is to limit my exposure to the sun, I have been unable to use sunscreen for years. Whether it is the toxic chemical sunscreen or the heavy metal sunscreen, they both made my skin erupt in blemishes. It has been a real challenge to protect myself especially because I love convertibles and exercising outside. When I get ready now in the morning, I add a squirt or two of the organic sunscreen to my moisturizer and give it 5 or 10 minutes to soak in before applying my makeup. Not only does the sunscreen protect my face, neck and chest but the fatty acids in the red raspberry seed oil are also making my skin look younger!

IMG_1364
The facial cream cleanser and delicate facial cleanser.

When it comes to cleansing my skin, I typically have two issues – first, the cleansers often make my skin breakout and second, they tend to cause excessive dryness. For years, I gave up and just used water and a wash cloth to cleanse my face. But after reading Kim’s website and spending 3 fascinating hours with him, I decided it was time to give facial cleanser another try!

 

When I first began using the Delicate Facial Cleaner this spring, I did feel that it had a bit of a drying effect on my skin. Though my skin  felt cleansed and moisturized in the shower, I always needed to moisturize with my deep hydrating moisturizer afterward. I tend to use the cleanser every other day so as not to dry my skin too much. When I was a teenager and in my early 20s, I had excessively oily skin. But over the years it has become more and more dry. Now I am in the midst of menopause and my facial skin is the driest it has ever been. So, keeping that in mind, this issue could have more to do with my hormones than the product! This fall I decided to try Kim’s facial Cream Cleanser to see if it worked with my skin type a bit better. What I found was that it is an excellent cleanser for removing makeup and I have never seen the pores in my skin any cleaner! I alternate using the two cleansers and have found that they are not as drying as when I first began using them. If you have oily or combination skin (or your hormones aren’t doing crazy things to you!), you will probably love both cleansers!
IMG_1369
Organic Antioxidant Spray, Facial Mask and Foot Cream!

I alternate using the Organic Rosewater Toner and the Organic Antioxidant Spray.  The rosewater is pure organic rosewater and is perfect for spritzing on after I’ve washed my face to level out the PH balance. The Antioxidant Spray gives me all those wonderful antioxidants that my aging skin no longer produces on its own! I use it primarily in the morning and evening but sometimes I just give myself a spritz to protect and refresh my skin.

IMG_1363
Skin Butter, Body Lotion and Organic deodorant!

For my body, my three favorite products are the Organic Lotion, Skin Butter and Organic Deodorant. Because of all of the toxic fragrances that I find in most body lotions, I got to the point that I gave up on lotion and only used pure coconut oil as a moisturizer. It smells great and kept my skin moisturized but it was so greasy that I had to wait 10 or 15 minutes for it to soak in before I could get dressed. Not especially convenient on a busy day. Since I was having such good luck with the rest of Kim’s products, I ordered the lotion and skin butter.  The lotion is  very similar to the Deep Hydration Facial Cream so it should be no surprise that I love it too. It absorbs quickly and keeps my hands and legs creamy and moisturized.

And though my husband loves the Organic Foot Cream – it smells wonderful – an energizing combination of peppermint and spearmint and is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, I prefer to use the Skin Butter on my feet before bedtime. I exercise a lot and abuse my feet so this butter is exactly what my tired feet need to keep them moisturized and feeling good!
No breast cancer causing heavy metals in Kim’s deodorant either. Instead, it is a combination of rose water and essential oils and keeps me fresh and smelling good all day!
Just like me, you have probably really struggled to find a vegan lip balm. They typically contain beeswax or paraffin. Kim’s balm not only smells like tangerines but is vegan and is made of candilla wax which is made from the leaves of a small shrub, essential oils and extracts. It is like a lotion for my lips and keeps them supple and smooth.
IMG_1371
Sweet little handwritten notes that come with my orders!

And though I know that the improvement to my skin has been a combination of these wonderful products over the last 3 to 8 months, I have to finish with the Facial Serum. I use the serum every night after cleansing. It not only has helped me get back a bit of that glow we all took for granted when we were in our 20s but I feel like I am smearing collagen on my face every time I use it. I have watched my skin become smoother and those lines along my neck (those things will always give your age away no matter how good you look!) have almost disappeared. In the past I was never good at sticking with a skincare regiment for long but after seeing the results from Kim’s products, I am committed to Luminance Skincare! It has been a wonderful 8 months and I look forward to many years to come.

I hope this review is helpful in choosing the skincare products that work best for you. Kim and his team have a wonderful return policy. If you don’t like it, return it for a full refund. His mobile phone number is also on each page of his website. I found him to be genuine and passionate with nothing to hide. They also have two introductory gift boxes that range from $35 to $97 so you can give the products a try and shipping is free for orders over $75. I get a little handwritten note with my order and they have sent me a free gift every time I’ve ordered something. They offer the type of personal service that I have never received from a skincare company before! I am thrilled that I found Luminance Skincare. I hope you enjoy the products as much as I do and as always…eat, drink and be vegan!
November 18

Napa Valley Film Fest 2015 – Day 1!

My relationship with the Napa Valley Film Fest began 5 years ago three thousand miles from Napa Valley! My husband, Steve, had interviewed for a job at a brand new Mercedes Benz dealership near Napa that was to begin in about 5 weeks. He flew out of San Francisco feeling good about the job and figured it would be a lot of work but in that 5 weeks, we could get our home packed and listed for sale, movers hired and our 3 dogs and cat loaded up to make the cross country trip with us in our little Kia Spectra. Instead, by the time he landed in Raleigh later that evening, he received a message telling him to be back in a week ready to start! Looking back I have no idea how we did it but thanks to Craigslist we found him a room to rent for the 2 months he would be training in South Bay, the dealership loaned him a Prius to drive until I got there with the Kia and 6 days later he was on his way! Me, I was left in charge of, well…pretty much everything else! It was very hard on both of us to be so far apart from each other. As much as I missed him, I know it was hardest on him. I was in our home, near friends and had the love of our dogs and cat to comfort me when I was stressed or lonely or overwhelmed while Steve had long stressful days and came back each evening to a rented room in a stranger’s home. I was so excited for him when his dealership became one of the first sponsors for the brand new Napa Valley Film Fest. Though it added more work to his plate, it was a wonderful distraction. He began to build relationships with the founders of the Festival, husband and wife team Marc and Brenda Lhormer and many other Napa locals. This is such an important thing – personally and professionally – especially when you move somewhere where you literally know no one! So, though I had a twinge or two of envy when he told me about the VIP parties, world premiere screenings and celebrity sightings he had, I was so happy for him! From that very first Festival, he was hooked and it has been our goal to support the Festival every year!

 This year, when I decided to apply for a press pass to the festival, I wasn’t
really sure what type of coverage I wanted to provide for my readers. Frankly, I was mostly just curious to see if I would get approved for the media pass. So, when I got the email saying that I was in, I really had to scramble to see how I could make this experience relevant to my vegan readers. Ultimately I decided to try to do a little bit of everything and share the experiences with you so you would have the opportunity to decide if it’s a good fit for you!

If you are a “cinemaddict” and don’t want to do anything but catch as many screenings as possible, you will love the Napa Valley Film Fest. With over 120 films offered that range from full length narrative and documentary features, narrative and documentary shorts, world premiere screenings and dozens of Q&As with filmmakers, your hunger for good cinema will be appeased! And there is a pass available for virtually every budget.

If you are a Patron Circle passholder, you will be treated to the ultimate VIP experience. Not only will you get to hang out with the celebrities and the filmmakers but it also includes priority access to the screenings and special events, exclusive VIP areas at the Gala and Tribute and invitations to the Vintner Circle dinners. Since the Patron Circle pass ranges from $2,500 to $25,000 per person, I am also certain that you will have a wonderful experience. And I bet for the cost of that ticket the chefs will even whip up an excellent vegan meal or two for you.

This posting is really for the rest of us. Those of us who like movies, love parties, enjoy mingling with the filmmakers but also want to taste some of the delicious food that is offered by more than 30 local chefs throughout the week without having to compromise on our choices! My press pass, with the exception that I got to stand on the red carpet and interview actors and filmmakers, is essentially the equivalent to the Pass Plus. The Pass Plus is not cheap – the cost ranges from $565 to $645 per person (the sooner you purchase them the cheaper they will be!)– but it offers virtually everything you could ask for…priority access to the screenings, access to special events and parties…many parties – from the Festival Gala, the Celebrity Tribute Program, after-hours parties and the Closing Nights Awards Ceremony AND Wrap Party. So follow me on my adventures on Day One and Opening Night of the 5th Anniversary of the Napa Valley Film Festival…

Screening #1 – Carol

 Though I tend to prefer small, independent films, I was really excited when I read about the movie Carol. It is a romance set in 1950s New York about two vastly different women who meet and fall in love. The characters are played by Cate Blanchett (Carol) and Rooney Mara (Therese). Carol is privileged and wealthy and trapped in a loveless marriage while Therese is drifting and trying to find out who she is and Uptown with lightswhat she wants. I’m a fan of both actresses and went into the screening with high expectations. I also hoped to see what has changed and improved as far as social attitudes and behavior regarding same sex relationships over the past 60 years. It ended up being melodramatic scene after scene of deep, longing glances between two virtually personality-less women and not much else. Kyle Chandler brought a little passion to his character but even the beautiful chemistry between Carol and Therese during the sex scene was not enough to make it an enjoyable movie. They did touch on the unfairness of a “Morality Clause” that was used to defame Carol during the custody fight and the sad reality that she was forced to endure psychotherapy to “cure” her illness or lose her daughter forever. As much as I wanted to love the movie because of the subject matter, I didn’t! But to be fair, when I went to my hair stylist the next day to have her do my hair for the Gala that evening, her last client had also seen it and RAVED about it! The best parts about my first screening of the Festival were enjoying the beautiful art deco Uptown Theater and having priority access seating. It was really nice not having to wait in line!

Screening #2 – Opening Night World Premier of Somm: Into the Bottle

 After a quick snack (I brought a smoothie from home because I knew timing was going to be tight), I prepared for the

Napa's paparazzi lining the red carpet!
Napa’s paparazzi lining the red carpet!

red carpet screening of the documentary Somm: Into The Bottle. This is the sequel to SOMM – the story of four sommeliers trying to join the Court of Master Sommeliers by passing an examination that is virtually impossible! SOMM had its world premiere at the Napa Valley Film Festival in 2012.  Somm: Into The Bottle, director Jason Wise gives audiences a look behind the curtain into the rarely seen world of wine production from the growing of the grapes to the steps involved from vine to cellar to table. There was also a great section about the history of wine beginning with the Romans, through prohibition, the First and Second World Wars up to the 2014 earthquake here in Napa. It was filmed in dozens of wine regions around the world so was absolutely stunning to watch. It is very rare that I watch a documentary and even rarer when I enjoy it but this one was excellent. Though I am very much a wine novice, I am definitely being seduced by wine and winemaking like so many others who come to Napa Valley. But I truly believe that someone who has little interest or knowledge of wine, will still very much enjoy the film. The history, the scenic beauty, the humor, the passion of the sommeliers and wine makers featured all amount to an incredibly entertaining 90 minutes!

Prior to the screening, I had the opportunity to speak to Director Jason Wise, Master Sommeliers Ian Cauble, Brian McClintic, Fred Dame, Geoff Kruth; Sommeliers DLynn Proctor and Kelli White, local winemaker Steve Matthiasson and grape geneticist Carole Meredith. I will soon have the videos up on my blog and YouTube but here are excerpts of what each of them had to say!

Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth on the red carpet!
Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth on the red carpet!

Though Geoff Kruth has not seen a big shift in demand for vegan food and wine pairings, his feelings are that as a sommelier it is his job “to pair wines with whatever the guest wants” from an all vegan meal to knowing that the wine was processed in a vegan-friendly manner.

I asked director Jason Wise if in filming this documentary he was shocked by some of the things that are added to wines. And he was! Because not all wines are made the same, many winemakers put so much care into the product they produce, he had to cut much of the

Director Jason Wise and co-writer, co-producer and wife Christina Wise.
Director Jason Wise and co-writer, co-producer and wife Christina Wise.

documentary that exposed the unwanted ingredients some winemakers use. To make a sweeping generalization that all wine is made using shocking ingredients is not only incorrect but would have offended far too many people. However, based on all that was cut from this documentary, he feels that this topic really “deserves its own film” and feels that wine should contain the one item we all expect…grapes!

Brian McClintic agrees “100%” that people are very concerned about what they put into their bodies and though the

Brian McClintic at the Somm: Into the Bottle world premiere
Master Sommelier Brian McClintic at the Somm: Into the Bottle world premiere

movement may be happening a bit more slowly with wine than it did with food, partly  because wine bottles don’t provide a list of ingredients, he feels the movement is already “afoot”! And with climate change, caring for our environment and the move toward sustainability, everything being done in his vineyard is to try to protect the ecosystems and is a huge area for opportunity!

Ian Cauble’s concern is about removing herbicides and insecticides from the winemaking chain. The business he started, SommSelect, is focused on biodynamic and organically farmed wines. Sadly, his observations are that scoring a big number for their wine is too often more important to a winemaker than offering healthy, toxin free wine. Like me, he has a firm belief

Ian Cauble discussing his biodynamic wines.
Master Sommelier Ian Cauble & his girlfriend Mercedes discussing his biodynamic wines.

that the sicknesses we see throughout our country are directly related to the chemicals in our food chain.

DLynn Proctor is also hearing many more requests for organic wines though knows that the vegan movement in the wine industry is “trending” as it becomes important to more consumers. He feels it’s extremely important that wines are

DLynn & his wife enjoying the world premiere!
Sommelier DLynn Proctor & his wife Candice enjoying the world premiere!

offered that are “not touched or not handled” by anything that had touched “live product”. “Biodynamic, certifiable, sustainable…why not vegan?”

Next I chatted with Jill and Steve Matthiasson, local winemaker and Winemaker of the Year 2014 SF Chronicle. He is finding more of his consumers requesting vegan-friendly wines than he has in the past and in the 13 years of Matthiasson Wines he has only once used egg whites! His wines are very healthy with moderate alcohol levels, no animal additives and organic farming and is happy to assimilate this new consideration (vegan-friendly) into his winemaking. I’m looking forward to meeting with him soon to wine taste and blog about his wines!

Steve and Jill Matthiasson
Winemakers Steve and Jill Matthiasson

Fred Dame, has not only been a Master for decades but was the first American to pass all three parts of the Master Sommelier Exam in a single year and is the first American to serve as president of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide. The vegan-friendly aspect of wine is a conversation that he has all the time since “it is not a match that is traditional.” He feels it is a fascinating topic…”a head scratcher and anything that is a head scratcher is interesting”.

Grape geneticist Carole Meredith is not only a retired academic but also a winemaker who is a very traditional and non-interventionist farmer. They don’t do anything highly technical with their wine and try to do what is best for the land and the vines that are on it. Her DNA research didn’t really solve any immediate problems in the winemaking industry but it did help give a better perspective on the history of wine and on where some of the most important wine grapes came from. But more than anything, it was “just intellectually fascinating” to her. More good news…occasionally they egg white fine but that is not done every year. I look forward to learning more about her wines and sharing it with you.

Master Fred Dame
Master Sommelier Fred Dame

Last but not least I spoke to Kelli White who is also finding more requests for vegan-friendly wines come up. Her challenge is that since wines are not required to list the ingredients, it is not always apparent what wines are free of animal product. She does feel that wine bottles listing their ingredients is a wonderful idea and sees “just positives and no negatives to that” and feels there is no need to keep ingredients a secret.

This was such a fascinating and interesting topic and group of people to discuss it with. I will be posting the full video of my interviews very soon!

Opening Night Party at the Riverfront Promenade

 Okay, here is what I was waiting for all night. What I have learned about the Napa Valley Film Fest is that they know how to throw a good party! The Historic Napa Mill’s riverfront location provided an exciting outdoor backdrop for the festival with food, wine, cocktails and Stella Artois beer and cidre (not vegan-friendly!) with live music playing throughout. It was a beautiful maze of adult treats around every turn! I was able to catch up with friends, have a few drinks and party with the Somm cast and crew! My favorite food experiences of the night included delicious avocado roll bites provided by Eiko’s and the il morso Americano coffee bar. The Americano is a delicious blend of organic espresso beans, organic cocoa butter and organic cane sugar. It was their one vegan option and I ate plenty of them. Needless to say, I did not sleep very well that night since each one contains 18 mg of caffeine! Ivy Hill Entertainment provided three bands on three different stages. My favorite was led by the Brian Bergeron Trio. They were joined by several other musicians and offered an awesome mix of folk and bluegrass. What a wonderful way to end an amazing day. My Napa Valley Film Festival experience was off to a great start.Silo's

I hope you enjoyed my journey through the Festival. My adventures of days 2 – 5 are coming soon so be prepared for more fun and as always…eat, drink and be vegan!

 

 

 

 

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!