September 8

Vegan Paradice – In early 2015 the restaurant closed permanently! So sad…

I know I promised to eat, drink and shop my way through Napa Valley but I just could not resist the opportunity to include our neighbor to the east. Less than 20 miles from Napa, you will find Vegan Paradice Gourmet Café in downtown Fairfield. Now that you have a wonderful reason to visit Fairfield often, aren’t you so glad construction on Jameson Canyon Road is almost complete?!

Vegan Café in downtown Fairfield!
Vegan Café in downtown Fairfield!

Kim Brown has been a vegan for over 16 years. Her religion and love for God motivates her to love all fellowman making the health and wellbeing of others a big concern.  And because so many illnesses can be improved or even prevented by lifestyle changes, she was excited to share this good news with the rest of us! And so by following her passion for a plant based diet and her desire to demonstrate to others that healthy and humane eating is very do-able Kim and her husband Gerald debuted their vegan café in April 2012. And since there is nothing like Vegan Paradice Gourmet Café in North Bay, I can promise you that you will be very glad that she and Gerald decided to fill that void.

Kim's got that vegan glow!
Kim’s got that vegan glow!

When Kim was just 9 years old, her family converted to a vegetarian lifestyle. And a year later, thank goodness for the rest of us, her mother began to teach her how to cook vegetarian dishes. As an adult, Kim then made the decision to become 100% plant based. Using all of the skills she learned as a child, she began baking cakes and catering for small events. Later she and Gerald began selling their vegan soft serve at summer events. The success of the soft serve helped build their momentum and slowly the idea for the Café began to develop. It was just a matter of time that Vegan Paradice Gourmet Café would soon follow.

The incredibly delicious housemade beafy burger!
The incredibly delicious housemade beafy burger!

Kim and Gerald make all of their sauces, salad dressings and condiments from scratch. And the amazing beafy patty is also made in-house. This allows them to conscientiously produce quality, flavor-rich foods that promote a healthy body!

In addition to my favorite – the beafy burger – their menu includes the Ranchy Chik’n Wrap (which can be made gluten-free upon request), the Surprise Me! Chili Dog, the BBQ tofu burger, pizza slices, soups & salads and much more! And though they are not listed on the menu, Vegan Paradice Gourmet Café also offers the vegan soft serve and baked sweet treats that include cookies and cupcakes. My favorite is the coconut cupcakes!

Vegan cookies and cupcakes!
Vegan cookies and cupcakes!
Soft Serve Ice Creme
Soft Serve Ice Crème

Vegan Paradice Gourmet Café is located in downtown Fairfield at 846 Texas Street at the corner of Texas & Jackson Street. You will know you are there when you see the banana tree! Vegan Paradice is open Sunday – Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and closed on Friday and Saturday. If you would like to place your order for pick-up, Kim and Gerald can be reached at (707) 428-0110. If you call, you may get to speak to their son Philip who helps out with the family business!

The Brown family working hard to make Vegan Paradice a success!
The Brown family working hard to make Vegan Paradice a success!

The first chance you have, please head over to Fairfield and enjoy an amazing vegan meal. We need to support the Brown family and help their passion for vegan food in North Bay succeed! And be sure to mention that you heard about them through my blog! Enjoy!

September 3

Mason Cellars vegan wine

Jon at Mason Cellars
Jon at Mason Cellars

I’ve lived in Napa, CA for almost three years and have to admit that before this magical city became my home I didn’t really have much of an appreciation for wine. When I was younger, I loved my beer and as I got older I always preferred a red apple vodka martini or two. It didn’t help that I chose my grocery store wine based on how much I liked the label! That’s how everyone chooses a good wine, right?! Wrong! Just ask any of the 4.5 million people who visit our over 500 wineries in Napa Valley annually!

As I began to visit different wineries and enjoy tasting the many different varietals – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Sauvignon Blanc being my favorites, I really began to have a much greater appreciation for wine and finally understood what the big deal was all about! As I became more interested in wine tasting, it became very important to me to be sure that what I was drinking was vegan. Turns out that many of the wines I loved were not animal friendly at all. Part of the winemaking process includes a  “fining” process. To a lay person like you and me basically a fining agent is added to the wine and it attracts grape particles, dead yeast cells and can even remove some tannins to make the wine more drinkable. All of that seemed reasonable enough to me until I found out that many of the fining agents used include blood powder, casein (milk protein), egg whites, isinglass (fish bladders) and gelatin. But do not despair, the great news is that there are vegan fining agents available for winemakers to use – carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, silica gel and plant casein are all good alternatives.

As part of my promise to you to eat, drink and shop my way through Napa Valley, I recently visited Mason Cellars and tasted their incredibly tasty vegan wines. Mason Cellars tasting room is located at 714 First Street near Oxbow Public Market. Their delightfully fruity releases include the citrusy Mason Sauvignon Blanc, the intense grapefruit Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc, the crisp apple Three Pears Pinot Grigio, seasonal berry 60 North Merlot and the earthy Mason Cabernet Sauvignon. Just delicious!

Mason Cellars Merlot

Instead of using animal proteins, the winemaker Randy Mason uses bentonite clay to fine his wines. His goal is to create the finest wine possible, make it consumer friendly (we vegans thank him for that!) and price it fairly so everyone can enjoy his passion. With wine ranging from only $10 – $24 a bottle, Randy has made his wine accessible to almost everyone! If you stop by between 11 and 5:30 Thursday – Monday you can also enjoy complimentary wine tastings.

You will also have the pleasure of meeting Jon who is in charge of the tastings. His knowledge of the wines is exceptional and he is very friendly! The tasting room is also very dog friendly.  In fact, if you come in with your four legged family, Jon is going to be sure that you all feel welcome! I also had the opportunity to meet their much loved office dog Cabo. She was rescued by Laura, the office manager and gets to spend her days hanging out at the Mason tasting room.

My favorite work of art!
My favorite work of art!

Randy’s wife Megan is in charge of the design and set-up of the delightful tasting room. Come in and take a look at the local artists showcased while you are sipping wine. I enjoyed all of the pieces but I did have my favorite!

It was really hard to choose a favorite wine but I settled on a bottle of the Merlot and Pinot Grigio to enjoy at home. And I will definitely be back for more!

To enjoy at home!
To enjoy at home!

On Tuesday, September 16th at 6 p.m. PST I invite you to join me on Tout Suite’s live program. Napa Valley Vegan will be featured on this episode. I will be discussing my vegan adventures through Napa Valley and will be preparing Butler’s BBQ soy curls and pairing it with Mason Cellars vegan wines. If you would like to be a part of the live audience or join us from the comfort of your own computer click this link to register! I would love to see you there!

 http://toutsuite.com/events/living-vegan-napa-valley

August 28

Napa Farmers Market – Vegan style!

Napa Humane Mobile Adoption Unit
Napa Humane Mobile Adoption Unit

Napa Humane is a local non-profit that offers humane education, low cost spay/neutering, a weekly vaccination clinic and the Mobile Adoption Unit for our Napa Valley dogs, cats and bunnies. The Mobile Adoption Unit debuted in May 2005 and has been partnering with local animal welfare groups including the Napa County Animal Shelter ever since! I have been volunteering for Napa Humane since their first annual Walk for Animals in 2012. if you have been to any of their exciting fundraisers, you have probably seen me there too. I do always love a good party. And you can always find me on Fridays at the vaccination clinic holding puppies and kissing dogs. I got to spend my morning Tuesday in the Mobile Adoption Unit with Wendi Piscia, Program Administrator of Napa Humane, Emily the Chihuahua mix and four adorable bunny rabbits at the Napa Farmers Market. You can find the Mobile Adoption Unit on the first and last Tuesdays and second Saturday each month through October from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. When it was time for a snack, I wandered around the Market and chatted with some really friendly and helpful people. I was really excited by the many vegan options available!

You can't miss this fresh and delicious granola!
You can’t miss this fresh and delicious granola!

 

My first stop was The Handmade Pantry. Jane Bell creates the freshest, most delicious granola I have every tasted. Almost all of the granola is vegan ( a couple flavors contain honey), and there are gluten and wheat-free options as well as nut-free options. There is a granola flavor that will satisfy everyone! Jane offers generous samples of each of her granola masterpieces. I brought home a bag of the gingerbread granola and I sprinkle it on everything!

 

FM Granola

 

 

Stop by Duck Duck Goose Farms!
Stop by Duck Duck Goose Farms!

My next stop was Duck Duck Goose Farms a pesticide-free, biodynamic farm with crops in Napa. They offer premade salads so you can keep your energy up while shopping the Market. They always offer a vegan option on their menu!

 

Duck Duck Goose Farms' menu board!
Duck Duck Goose Farms’ menu board!

 

Love the Field Blend vegan salad!
Love the Field Blend vegan salad!

 

There are also several farms that offer pesticide free and organic fruits and vegetables including Rodriguez Farms, The Patch, J&M Ibarra Farm and Long Meadow Ranch. Be sure to stop by and thank them for choosing to go organic!

 

Long Meadow Ranch organic produce
Long Meadow Ranch organic produce

 

Rodriguez Farms organic strawberries!
Rodriguez Farms organic strawberries!

 

More organic produce!
More organic produce!

 

And finally after finding all of this amazing produce and vegan food… I found the chocolate!

Desmond with Wine Country Chocolates
Desmond with Wine Country Chocolates

 

Many of these delicious chocolates are dairy-free! Desmond offered me many samples and they were all so good I couldn’t decide on my favorite. I guess I will just have to keep visiting Wine Country Chocolates and tasting the chocolate to make up my mind!

 

 

 

Dark Chocolate! Yum...
Dark Chocolate! Yum…

 

 

Wine Country Chocolates' non-dairy artisan sweet
Wine Country Chocolates’ non-dairy artisan sweets

 

I would have to say for such a meat and cheese centric city I had incredible success finding delicious and varied vegan options at the Napa Farmers Market. Be sure to come by every Tuesday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through October and support the vendors that provide vegan options! I hope to see you there soon!

 

Links:

http://www.napafarmersmarket.com/

http://www.napahumane.org

http://ddgfarms.com

http://www.winecountrychocolates.com

http://www.longmeadowranch.com

http://www.rodriguezfarms.com/