Last minute trips can be the most empowering.
I was just coming off the high from my Re-connection Trip and my need to grab hold and make empowering decisions was still front and center. When I found out I had no plans for the following weekend and Janette (vegangirl4ever) and her friend Morgan were heading down to San Diego, I decided to open my mouth and say, "Can I come?". The impulse was strong and I knew I just needed to go with it.
A phrase that has stuck with from my Vedanta studies,
"The last thing you want to do is probably the one thing you should do."
This phrase mostly pertains to ones responsibilities and sometimes I have to think about that little voice within me as a responsibility to myself. For example; if you really don't feel like going to the gym, you probably should. If you don't want to walk up early to read your studies, you probably should. If that little voice inside you says, "Hey, let's go to SD!" before your other little voice says, "Nah, let's just sit at home and watch TV." LISTEN! Don't get me wrong. There are wonderful times were listening to ones body telling you to stay home and rest is a good thing. I knew in that moment though, going would probably be a healthier experience for me. So thankfully, my extrovert spoke up first and won!
SAN DIEGO HERE WE GO!
Our first stop was our friend Chef Roy's new restaurant Donna Jean. I was unable to make it down for the Blogger Dinner, so I was extremely grateful that I could not only make it for this round BUT do a takeover for Eat Drink Vegan!!!
As well, a few friends from LA drove down to enjoy the tasting menu leading to tables glittered with plates after plates.
It was an extremely successful takeover and tasting! Simultaneously, I couldn't get over how much I loved the patio. It is perfect for the 72 and sunny San Diego weather. Wood benches, open space and beautiful patches of garden grow throughout, letting you know it doesn't get much more fresh than that.
Another special treat was being reunited with the OG Mac & Cheese invented by Chef Roy himself.
Us LA'ers are a lucky bunch because we have two spots that have variations on the dish, but tasting the original again made me realize why friends have driven down for it. It's creamy, fluffy, rich and cooked to perfection–the epitome of what you look for in a gormet Mac & Cheese.
From one amazing experience to another, Evolution (an all vegan fast food spot) is located literally next door. A completely difference scene from Donna Jean, but both provide delicious vegan fare. You can't lose.
The adorable Katie (thekategatsby) and her incredibly sweet bf David came to join us for a quick Evolution tasting. Signature strawberry shakes, crispy french fries and a plethora of burgers lined the table.
My favorites were the black bean burger (left) and the grab & go Ryder burger (right). The Ryder burger was an after thought purchase and a sneak attack winner. Traditionally minced chickin' salad with lettuce, tomatoes, special sauce and juicy stripes of smokey tempeh bacon hit the spot.
We were off to a great start in San Diego. The weather was perfect, the food tasty and the traffic minimal–just the way I like it.
We took a mini break in the middle of our feasting to relax at the hotel and unwind from the busy morning. We also needed to make a decision. Moncai for dinner or Moncai for brunch OR Kindred for dinner or Kindred for brunch? It was a tough call. We talked to sources, we deliberated, we sat with heads in palms until a decision was made.
A few hours later, we were at Moncai Vegan in Normal Heights for dinner. My entire weekend was going to be filled with spots I had never been too! Breaking from my routine. All new experiences which was aligning perfectly with my need to explore more.
At Moncai, we enjoyed tofu tenders (our favorite dish of the three), chickpea cakes and the special seasonal pasta; fried chickin, bowtie pasta in a collard green sauce over toasted pieces of bread.
Since we were not going to Moncai for brunch, it only made sense to get the pancakes for dessert. The sausage was a miss, but the pancakes hit the spot. Some of the fluffiest I have ever had.
After dinner I decided to take Morgan and Janette on a little drive downtown since both of them had never been before. We looped in and around until we ended up in the marina where the USS Midway and the lovely "Unconditional Surrender" statue live.
This was my first time seeing the statue at night and it was absolutely breathtaking. So romantic and so beautiful. Tugged at all my heart strings. Thus, ending the evening on a high note. We then headed back to our hotel to rest up for the following day.
The next day we rose early enough to hit the Hilcrest Farmers Market before brunch. When I lived in San Diego, this was my favorite Farmers Market. It was where I found Bitchin' Sauce and Majestic Garlic. Two of my favorite vendors to this day.
It has been years since I've been able to venture back so I wasn't sure what was in store. Were my favorite vendors still there? Was the size of the market bigger or smaller? More or less vegan vendors??...I couldn't wait to see!
In the health/vegan arena, I was delighted to see such wonderful products using outstanding ingredients, but the Farmers Market itself felt more compact than I remembered. In the past, I could have sworn it spilled into a back area where the majority of the food trucks and food vendors were, but this time all the food vendors were in the same long stretch as the rest.
Thankfully, even with the new changes, my two favorite vendors were still there!
New flavors, same great brands.
The food trucks didn't tickle our fancy, so after the oohing and awing over the vegan vendors, we happily made our way with empty stomachs to Kindred.
Kindred is not your run of the mill, vegan hippie spot. It's trendy, sophisticated and chic. It's design aesthetic teeters on modern with a twist. Elements of Gothic and fairy tale design aesthetics intermix in a minimalist Prohibition style bar/restaurant. If you can't wrap your head around the above, don't worry, it works–trust me.
And before I go any further, I'll have you know right here and now, I will find a way to get myself back to try ever single meal they have. Not dish, meal. I'm not that crazy...even though that does sound like a most awesome challenge. Brunch was beyond fantastic so I can't imagine what lunch and dinner would bring.
For brunch, our friend Kelly (kellybone) was able to join. Kelly is thee guide to knowing whats best in San Diego. Her palate is refined and I trust each and every review she writes...except when it comes to mushrooms. We differ strongly there, but that's ok, I still love the girl.
The menu was beautiful. The dishes, the drinks...it was incredibly hard to decide BUT this is why you go with friends. You get everything that looks appealing and share!
Kindred now ranks incredibly high on my favorites brunch list. The detail to each dish, to each flavor profile and texture were spectacular. My only qualms was certain items could have been bigger so I could have eaten more of it. Even the toast wasn't just regular pieces of toast placed on a plate. Upon the first bite, a flavorful, tomato based coating is revealed–complementing the entire dish.
When a restaurant perfects brunch, it only makes sense for you next inclination to be to want to try their lunch and dinner. It was a damn shame we couldn't make it happen, but as they say, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder".
The entire trip was one wonderful, on-going feast mixed with the splendors of seeing old friends and a enjoying mini road trip with newer ones. Exactly what the doctor ordered. I'd be happy to take another trip with them anytime and I do believe a feasting trip for this Traveling Vegan is always in order.
When I returned home, I was reminded again of my teacher/friend Justin who recently passed away. He was the one who read and broke down the Vedanta quote to me during Vedanta studies I mentioned earlier in the post.
"The last thing you want to do is probably the one thing you should do."
The way he could break down each passage was a skill. He made it easy to digest. Do I always remember and incorporate my studies? No, but no ones perfect. I am working my way through this world like everyone else. I study, research and try to pay attention as much as I can to help myself and to help others. My final words to you is the same. We are not perfect, we are not suppose to be. If that was the case we wouldn't grow and we would always be stagnant. We are human and we don't always want to do whats best for us. We are in a world of over stimulation. Whether that be food, anything of the digital variety, individuals with different personalities, lots and lots of work, etc. Incorporating some of the quote can help you remember that you have a responsibility to yourself. With that responsibility a positive ripple effect will inevitably happen. The world around you will take notice. You will not only be helping yourself, but others as well. The best way to do this is with little pressure on yourself. No berating if feel you can't. No berating if something else pops up that feels more important. You do what you can, when you can.
For example; "I don't feel like walking all the way down to the recycling bin when the trash can is right here." If you use the quote and turn it around to say, " I don't feel like walking all the way down to the recycling bin when the trash can is right here BUT I know its the right thing to do" will empower you. You take the 5 extra min to walk to the recycling bin and the ripple effect is enacted. You've actually impacted the world with your teeny, tiny gesture. This can also be something as small as my reference in the beginning of the post. The not wanting to go to the gym analogy. You use the quote, push yourself to go to the gym and the end result is a clearer mind and a happier body. A personal impact that can even lead to a positive ripple effect. You feeling better can lead to you responding better to others.
Eat Klean - Innovate the Cycle - Kreate the Shift