January 22

Join Napa Valley Vegan on Tout Suite Social Club – Episode 4!

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I invite you to join me on Wednesday, January 28th at 6 p.m. for my 4th live streaming episode on Tout Suite Social Club. I will be hosting a cooking demonstration and will be making two delicious vegan pasta sauces – a refreshing avocado sauce and my world famous mac n cheez.

Avocado Pasta Sauce

For all of my readers who do not live here in Napa Valley or just can’t make it to the studio by 6 p.m., I invite you to log onto Tout Suite’s website and  join me remotely. Once my episode begins at 6 p.m., please feel free to join in by using your webcam. This will allow you to go interactive and fully participate in the episode – you will be able to ask questions, make comments and your image will be visible to me and the other viewers!  You will be a part of the show!!

For those of you who live locally, please join me and be a part of the live studio audience. The studio is located at Tout Suite Social Club, 68 Coombs Street, Suite L5 in Napa. Come ready to ask questions, make comments and do a little noshing on pasta. Yum!

I look forward to seeing you Wednesday night and as always…eat, drink and be vegan!

January 17

Mini Mango Becomes Mango on Main!

Mango on Main
                      Mango on Main

I have loved the food at Mini Mango since my first visit three years ago. The food is always excellent and the service is always friendly. This week is the first time I realized that it is also the most vegan-friendly restaurant in Napa! They recently moved their location from a quiet, out of the way spot tucked away on Clay Street to a highly visible local in the midst of historic downtown on Main Street. In honor of the new location, they also have a new moniker – Mango on Main by mini mango Thai bistro. The name & address have changed, the dining room space has increased, the décor has improved but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the delicious food. The Restaurant Manager, Mee Peng, is also another wonderful reason to return again and again. He is always friendly, chatty and no matter how much time has passed in between visits he always remembers that I am vegan and have a weakness for their delicious tofu Peanut Bomb!

Tofu Peanut Bomb!
Tofu Peanut Bomb with a side of Indochine Corn Fritters!

Though I have ordered take-out, this week was my first opportunity to dine-in since they moved locations. The space is larger than the last location but still has a very intimate feel. The lighting is soft and the music soothing and energetic at the same time. Though there are only 10 or 12 tables, when it is full it is a bit loud and has a great energy. Steve and I shared an appetizer and a dessert along with our entrees so we were there for a while and once the restaurant cleared out it became very quiet.

The Buddha watching over you as you dine!
The Buddha watching over you as you dine!

Since Mee and his wife Anchalee Chitamnuayothin (she is also the Executive Chef) are Buddhist, the décor includes a lovely Thai Buddha statue as well as a quote from the Dalai Lama in the Ladies’ Room. They have also been very creative showcasing beautiful umbrellas hung upside down from the high ceiling.

Beautiful décor
                   Beautiful décor

The night we were there Mee was in charge and had three more staff that all work as a team. They all take orders, deliver food, fill water, bus tables and seat quests. I think each of the staff came to our table at least once throughout our meal. It seems like it would be disorganized but they have a system figured out and it works well.

The most exciting thing about their menu is that it is all made to order so besides a few grilled meat/seafood dishes, virtually anything on the menu can be made vegan. According to Mee, they have a very large market of guests that request vegan food and are more than happy to accommodate their dining needs. They have a good wine list that includes many local wineries. For Napa, their pours are certainly on the “heavy” side and the prices for wine by the glass on the low side. That always makes me smile! I mentioned earlier my near obsession with their tofu Peanut Bomb. I have to admit that I order it virtually every time I eat at Mango on Main. It is delicious and will satisfy anyone who loves peanut butter. But when Mee mentioned that they are willing and able to “veganize” virtually anything on their menu, I decided it was time to explore some new options.

We started our meal with the sweetly amazing Indochine Corn Fritters drizzled with plum reduction. They came to the table in a sweet and crispy little pyramid. We enjoyed one each and shared the third.

Indochine Corn Fritters
            Indochine Corn Fritters

Though we often share one entrée when we dine out in Napa Valley – this saves calories and money plus there is sometimes only one vegan entrée available so we have never seen the point in ordering two of the same thing. Because of the fact that Mango on Main has so many vegan-friendly options, we decided to splurge and each order our own entrée. Steve ordered the Tofu Massaman which has a mildly spicy cardamom-citrus sauce, onions, potatoes and braised tofu curry. I love curry & coconut milk with a capital “L” so I ordered the Kari Curry with tofu, potatoes, carrots and coconut milk. I typically have to order my curry mild but in this case it had just the perfect amount of spice for me. To that we added brown rice for two and commenced to whole-heartedly enjoying our meal!

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Kari Curry with tofu
          Kari Curry with tofu
Tofu Massaman
                Tofu Massaman

Their current menu does not offer any vegan desserts but the night we were there they offered a special dessert that included hot, sweet sticky rice and a scoop of mango sorbet made with coconut milk that was vegan. It was one of the most delicious desserts that we have ever shared. The hot rice topped with the ice cold sorbet was not only an amazing combination of flavors but the combination of hot and cold was a delightful shock to my taste buds.

Vegan sticky rice with mango sorbet.
    Vegan sticky rice with mango sorbet.

The new location now offers a large lunch menu that includes Potstickers, satay skewers, Bangkok bites of the day, Thai Wraps, Noodles on Main, salads and much more. And just like dinner, almost all lunch menu options can be made vegan using vegetables or tofu.

Mango on Main is located in historic downtown Napa at 1142 Main Street near the corner of Pearl Street and Main. To make a reservation for parties of 6 or more, they can be reached at 707.253.8880. They serve lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dinner is served Tuesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday they are open all day from Noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday is open for dinner only from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This is a dining experience that you will not want to miss! Many of these delicious recipes have been passed down through the generations and were shared with Chef Anchalee by her Mother. Chef Anchalee then decided to attend culinary school so she could take her family recipes and add a decidedly and delicious California spin to them!

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Please be sure to thank them for offering so many delicious vegan options. And as always…eat, drink and be vegan!

October 28

Baldacci Family Vineyards Offers Red & White Vegan Wines!

Beautiful Stags Leap District!
Beautiful Stags Leap District!

Baldacci Family Vineyards is located in the gorgeous Stags Leap District in Napa Valley. The Stags Leap District is located south of Yountville Cross Road on scenic Silverado Trail. I drive up Silverado Trail every Saturday from April to September to help care for orphaned song birds before they are released back into the wild. And every time I make that drive it is a reminder of how lucky I am to live in this beautiful section of Northern California!

Wappo Indian Dwellings
Wappo Indian Dwellings

Stags Leap District borrowed its name from a legend handed down by the Wappo Indians who were native inhabitants of Napa Valley. Story has it that a strong and beautiful stag was trapped between steep cliffs and (non-vegan!) hunters. Instead of giving up, this stag soared across the chasm in the cliffs, eluded the hunters and created this wonderful legend! This legend is just the beginning of the District’s long history. In the mid-1800s even though Silverado Trail was nothing more than a quiet horse trail, this did not stop the grape growers. And by 1878 the region’s first winery was built. Many of you Cabernet lovers may already know this but the more recent history of the Stags Leap District began in 1961. Nathan Fay planted 70 acres of the region’s first Cabernet vineyards. This decision bordered on brilliant. There are now over 9,800 cabernet acres in Napa Valley and the Stags Leap District is recognized for its world-class cabernet sauvignons! And that isn’t just us bragging. In 1976 at a blind tasting held in Paris, nine French judges awarded Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars first place for its 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon. Ten years later the same wines were judged a second time and this time Clos Du Val’s 1972 Cabernet Sauvignon took the honors!

Baldacci Family Winery
Baldacci Family Winery

Thomas and Brenda Baldacci arrived at the site that is now Baldacci Family Winery almost 20 years ago. It includes 45 acres of Estate vineyards, an on-site winemaking facility and a unique system of wine caves below. They have also purchased 23-acres in Carneros and replanted with their Family Collection varietals which will produce Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay. Many of which are vegan-friendly. And in 2013 they expanded yet again with the purchase of Stella Vineyards. This 8.5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes is located upvalley in Calistoga at the base of Diamond Mountain.

When my husband Steve and I made the decision to move all the way across the country from Raleigh, North Carolina to Napa, California three years ago I was really nervous. I had spent the last five years living in the South and I imagined that everyone in Napa would be too busy or worse yet – not friendly! Thankfully, I was so unbelievably wrong. I have lived from Northern Michigan to Southern Florida to Eastern Virginia to Central Colorado to Eastern North Carolina and have met many wonderful people. But I have never felt as welcomed anywhere else as I have since I moved to Napa. It is such a wonderful place to live. Happy, friendly people; perfect weather and lots of wine!

Me and Matt!
                         Me and Matt!

Matt Mills is one of those special people. Through the wine industry, Steve and I met Matt very soon after we moved to Napa. We have all stayed in touch and I was excited when I learned that he is the Direct-to-Consumer Manager for Baldacci Family Winery. When I reached out to Matt to schedule our wine tasting, he discussed our vegan lifestyle with their winemaker, Rolando Herrera, and created a special wine tasting just for us!

Tasting the delicious Gewurztraminer
Tasting the delicious Gewurztraminer

We enjoyed the delicious 2012 Frederich Gewurztraminer, the 2012 Sorelle Chardonnay, the 2011 Elizabeth Pinot Noir and a not yet released Pinot Noir all grown from their Carneros Estate vineyard. They were all such amazing wines that we came home with a bottle of the Chardonnay and the Pinot! And not to start bragging about the award-winning wines produced in the Stags Leap District again but their vegan Sorelle Chardonnay was the 2014 winner of the prestigious San Francisco Wine Chronicle!

2014 San Francisco Wine Chronicle Winners!
2014 San Francisco Wine Chronicle Winners!

One concern that I have when discussing vegan wines is that many wines may be vegan-friendly one year because the winemaker chose not to fine the wine but may not be vegan the next year if the winemaker feels fining is necessary and he uses an animal product to do the fining. This is a problem we vegans do not have to worry about with Baldacci Family Winery. Matt explained that all of the wines we tried will forever be vegan because even if the winemaker decides to fine his next vintage of Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer or Pinot Noir they use vegan-friendly bentonite clay for these particular wines! I also learned something really interesting from Matt for my gluten intolerant readers. Since Baldacci uses the natural cork which seals perfectly, no gluten is used in the bottling process.

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Baldacci Family Winery is located at 6236 Silverado Trail in Napa and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Contact them at 707.944.9261 to schedule a tasting appointment with Matt! Please thank them for using a vegan-friendly fining agent in several of their wines and let them know you are vegan when you schedule your appointment. And be sure to take home one of their delicious smelling soy candles. But most of all, enjoy…Cheers!!