Friday, March 25, 2011

A Great Evening at the Berkeley Vegan Dishcrawl!

Last night, I had the opportunity to share dinner with an amazing group of vegans, vegetarians, and the veg-friendly. Yes, I’m talking about the first Vegan Dishcrawl in Berkeley! Excepting the weather, it couldn’t have been a better evening. It was such a pleasure to meet the enthusiastic Dishcrawlers I had been corresponding with for weeks. Like Jaime, an omnivore who came with one of his vegan friends, who described the event as “having a Parisian stroll feel.” Or Megan, who surprised her husband with Dishcrawl Date Night.

We started our evening at the Epicurious Garden, living life to the fullest, and eating dessert first. Panos Panagos of Alegio Chocolate gave us a guided tour of the island São Tomé, off the coast of Africa, where Claudio Corallo makes the world’s most perfect chocolate. It was my first opportunity to try 100% pure chocolate, intensely bitter, but unequivocally rich and chocolatey.

After an extensive tasting at Alegio, we visited Lush Gelato and Café. Lush’s owner,
Federico Murtagh, hails from Argentina which harbors one of the largest Italian populations outside of Italy, and as such, knows a thing or two about making gelato. Murtagh has dedicated his company to producing the purest, simplest, most exquisite representation of natural flavors. Lush obtains their fruit from local, organic sources, like Frog Hollow and Bellwether Farms. Made of fruit, sugar, and water, Lush’s sorbetto provides the cleanest representation of nature’s sweetest treat. Dishcrawlers were given tastes of Kiwi, Lemon-Cinnamon, Chocolate-Orange, and Pear sorbetto.

Our next stop was Café Gratitude, a mecca for vegans, vegetarians, and raw-enthusiasts. Manager Alice Liu provided a feast for our group. First up was a raw lasagna, made with the creamiest, lightest cashew ricotta I’ve ever tasted, and layers of basil, spinach, and tender zucchini noodles. The raw lasagna was accompanied by spicy-sweet raw enchiladas. I don’t have a lot of experience with raw food, but this was spectacular. Only my professionalism kept me from licking the plate. Café Gratitude finished our visit with one of their grain bowls, quinoa, kale, carrots, teriyaki almonds dressed in a garlic-tahini sauce. Heaven. Although Café Gratitude can be intimidating to omnivores, vegans and non-vegans alike seemed delighted with the food. Café Gratitude’s playfulness with flavor and textures resulted in a uniquely delicious experience. While at Café Gratitude, artisan bakers from Zest Bakery shared vegan brownie bites with our guests.

Dishcrawl ended the evening at Mint Leaf Indian Bistro for samosas and vegetable pakoras and a variety of dipping sauces. The stylish interior, cozy tables, and sophisticated lighting provided the perfect setting for the end of the evening. Dishcrawlers lingered over finger foods and drinks for the rest of the night.

I was inexpressibly delighted to see people mingling, and groups of friends incorporating new members. It truly was a communal experience for vegans, foodies, and Bay Areans. After the success of last night’s event, we will definitely be doing another one of these soon, so stay tuned for all the details!

1 comment:

  1. Just super props to Colleen and Tracy for making this night memorable... not only was the entire night about rare and surprisingly delicious foods... it was about shared experiences, meeting and making new friends... and discovering a side of each of us, and being pleasantly surprised! Looking forward bringing more friends... and making even more!!! A virtual toast to you and your talent for making evenings special!!! - jaime