Adventures in San Fran

by Gena on August 19, 2013

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I’m back from the west coast and the beautiful city of San Francisco. My mom and I ventured out there for a little girls’ trip–our first travel together in a very, very long time. We are, as you surely have noticed, incredibly close, and now that my post-bacc is over, I’m trying to spend much more quality time by her side. San Francisco, where she has always wanted to travel, was a great place to start.

Sadly, I left my camera battery in DC before I left for NYC to meet my mom, so I don’t have any fancy photos for you. (Just as well, since I spilled coffee on my camera the last time I was in San Fran.) I hope that what I snapped on my phone, along with my words, will be enough to transport you.

For the sake of brevity, I’m dividing trip details into three parts: food, sights, and snacks. The snacks section features what I brought with me on the trip, so it’s a really good chance to share some of my tips and tricks for travel planning. But first, let’s talk about the extraordinary food that mom and I were lucky enough to experience in the four nights we were there.

SF food Top row, running left to right:

1. The brochettes (mushrooms, Mariquita Farm potatoes, cherry tomatoes peppers, white corn, summer squash, red onions and Hodo Soy tofu with muhammara sauce, brown and red rice, pickled beets with mint) at Greens restaurant

2. Shitake mushroom and tofu spring rolls at The Plant Cafe on Pier 3

3. “Ginger fire” House Kombucha, a local SF brand, which I found at The Source. So. Spicy. And so good.

4. The “Mediterranean Napoleon” at Millennium (eggplant, tomatoes, cashew cheese, sauteed veggies).

Row Two, left to right:

1. “The Source Salad” (mixed greens, spinach, romaine, tri-color quinoa, beets, living taco meat in green goddess dressing) at The Source.

2. A macadamia nut and arugula salad from The Plant Cafe at San Francisco International airport. To fill out the meal, I got a side order of quinoa. And I also had a bag of baby carrots in my backpack, which I brought out at lunch. What an incredible airport meal! I also thought it was lovely that SFO has a public yoga room for travelers; I went in and did a few rounds of Sun A and Sun B before our flight home.

3. More goodness from Plant Cafe: the Dino Kale Salad (dino kale, arugula, red quinoa, cherry tomatoes, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, toasted almonds, lemon cumin vinaigrette).

4. A farmer’s market breakfast at the Ferry building on Saturday. I picked this up from the “Live” stand. It was a mix of sprouted buckwheat, shredded coconut, bananas, berries, and almonds. Yum!

Row Three, left to right:

1. A delicious “beta bomb” juice (Pineapple, Orange, Carrot, Turmeric, Ginger, Cinnamon, Lime) from the folks at Project Juice, who kindly invited me over to sample one of their delicious blends. Awesome flavors, a huge variety, and cool packaging, too!

2. Raw tacos (savory almonds, tomatoes, dates, red preppers & jalepeño, served on a romaine leaf, topped with raw nacho cheese) at The Source.

3. The wilted spinach and frisee salad (smoked tofu, roasted new potatoes, seared spring onions, castelvetrano olives, Marcona almond, sangiovese vinaigrette, fresh marjoram) at Millennium.

4. The Massaged Lacinato Kale Salad at Chaya (House Smoked Tofu / Bruins Farm Tomato / Avocado / Red Onion / Yamagobo / Peanut Ponzu Vinaigrette). This was amazingly good — of course I ordered it with no onion!

There were definitely other spots I wanted to make it to, but we just didn’t have a chance. Gracias Madre was a favorite the last time I was in SF, but my mom is supernaturally sensitive to spice of any kind (even black pepper), so it wasn’t the best option for us this time around. Overall, everything was wonderful. I’d say Plant Cafe and Greens were the highlight, but the salad at Chaya was truly special. Something to recreate at home now!

We also made an effort to see and do as much as we could while we were on the trip. Neither of us had ever seen wine country, so we took a little bus day trip to Napa and Sonoma, which was gorgeous. We also took a bus up to the Muir Woods, which was probably the trip highlight for me–what a peaceful and sacred spot. We were both mesmerized as we walked through those giant redwoods.

More of the spots we saw:

SF stuff

Clockwise from top left: The Pad yoga studio (I went twice — great power classes with Meghan Webster!), the amazing view from Greens, Muir Woods, a shot of the marina, chardonnay grapes, and me feeling the urge to do a tripod in the area around Muir Woods.

We also managed to make it to the De Young Museum, which was wonderful. We wanted to go to the Exploratorium so that I could geek out, but it was the end of the day and we’d been told you really need some time there…so, next time. One could really spend endless time in San Francisco without exhausting it’s cultural offerings, scenic views, and incredible cuisine. But I am so happy we had the time we did, and my mom was, too.

On my last morning, I was able to make it to the Ferry building farmers’ market for a quick breakfast date with the lovely Carrie of Carrie on Vegan. Carrie has become a good blog friend over the years, and in the last twelve months I’ve been particularly moved by her experience with thyroid cancer, and her brave approach to healing. It was so nice to catch up.

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Carrie, by the way, has a very cool iPhone app called Vegan Delish, which features nutritarian recipes. A few from CR have made the cut!

It seems almost silly to offer vegan travel tips in a post about San Francisco, since it’s one of the most decidedly vegan friendly cities I’ve been to! But even so, I did pack my usual assortment of travel goods before we left, and I thought I’d share them with you, since they’re the same things I always have handy when I’m on the road.

SF packed

Clockwise from the top:

1. Homemade trail mix (one bag was just almonds and raisins; another cranberries, raisins, almonds, dried soy nuts, and pumpkin seeds; the last was cashews, goji berries, mulberries, and cacao nibs).

2. Some coconut curry crackers from Livin’ Spoonful that Valerie shared with me from her recent travels.

3. Snack bars. I travel with any that I have on hand. These are an assortment of flavors from 22 Days. You can read my full profile of the company here — they’re one of the nicest brands I’ve ever worked with, and I really love their flavors, especially the PB chocolate chip nirvana bar!

4. Individual nut butter packets from Justin’s. These are super convenient; I carry them around in my backpack all the time in my student life! I often eat them with banana, apple slices, or celery sticks.

5. Protein powder packets. I didn’t plant on making smoothies on this trip, but I did know I’d have a mini fridge and would be able to make chia pudding, so I brought some protein (also from 22 Days) for a boost.

6. Coconut water powder from Navitas Naturals! This was a recent sample from the company, and it’s really interesting. It definitely doesn’t taste the same, but it’s a very nice way to get all of those electrolytes in if you are traveling (I would imagine that this is a great product for athletes and runners who are training/exercising away from home).

7. Bananas. My favorite travel fruit because it holds its shape, it’s easy to transport, and you can find them almost anywhere you go. Plus, I love them!

8. A little peek at the breakfast I brought on board with me the morning my mom and I took off. It was an overnight mixture of oat bran, chia seeds, and two tablespoons of plain brown rice protein, mixed with almond milk. This got past TSA just fine (I knew chia pudding would be more of a gamble), and I mixed it with chopped banana once we were at our gate. A dear friend told me on Instagram that it looks like spackle…and she is so right. But it tasted good :-)

In the center of the collage is a bird’s eye view of all my packed goodies!

The hotel we stayed at didn’t have complimentary breakfast, and the on-site options were fairly pricey (and not very vegan friendly), but we did have a mini fridge in our room. You can often request one if it’s not provided, and I generally do, if only so that I can buy some baby carrots for snacking and some almond milk. I ran out to a Safeway when we got in and got almond milk, berries, and carrots. I made chia pudding for me and my mom nearly every morning. Here’s one of my concoctions: chocolate protein powder, chia seeds, almond milk, berries, and banana.

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Of course, it’s not necessary to bring chia along, or go out in search of almond milk when you travel. You can definitely throw together snacks and even whole breakfasts with fruit and snack bars. Oatmeal is also always easy to find. But having almond milk does make it easy to make chia pudding and overnight oats, which are two very filling, nutrient dense breakfasts for folks on the go.

And now, I’m back in DC, playing catch up on quite a lot of work. Before I sign off on this post, and the adventures it recounts, I want to apologize to everyone who got a malware warning for CR over the weekend! Some old files were getting flagged by Google, and it took some time to have the account cleared and the files removed. Everything should be fine now, but I’m beyond mortified that my readers have had to deal with so much tech drama lately from my blog, largely because I’m not the tech-iest of bloggers. I really apologize — from now on, I hope that things will be smooth sailing.

xo

 

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle August 19, 2013 at 11:42 pm

I love San Francisco and my MIL moved just north of Muir woods so now I can visit more often… Love millennium… And source breakfast…. Glad you had a great time :-)

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Eve August 19, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Such a nice post. I really enjoyed seeing where you went to eat — I need to revisit a lot of these places, and explore the new ones. I also like your travel food tips.

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Gena August 20, 2013 at 5:55 am

Thanks Eve!!! It was so nice getting feedback from you on Instagram :-)

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Emma August 20, 2013 at 8:20 am

Loved reading about your trip away. San Fran is high on my list of places to visit. I’m very close to my Mum too and we try and get away together once a year at least :)
Love all your travel snacks and ideas for breakfast on the go. Wish I could get individual packets of nut butter in the UK.

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Carrie (Carrie on Vegan) August 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

You’re so awesome, Gena, and I can’t tell you how much your kind words mean to me. It was great to catch up with you in SF and looking forward to seeing you again hopefully soon! :)

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Skye August 20, 2013 at 9:39 am

Thanks for the healthy travel snack food tips! I tend to be lazy and not bring the healthiest stuff with me, but if I plan a little better, I can obviously bring food that’s both nutritious and yummy. :)

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Bianca- Vegan Crunk August 20, 2013 at 10:53 am

Aw, I need to get back to SF soon. Love that city!! So much vegan goodness! Also, your travel snacks look similar to mine. I never leave home for more than a night without a stash of Justin’s almond butter and baggies of trail mix.

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Christine (The Raw Project) August 20, 2013 at 11:51 am

What a great trip recap, thanks! I adored Millennium and The Plant Cafe on our last trip and want to go back.

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Hoshigaki August 20, 2013 at 12:04 pm

It was so lovely to see you in San Francisco, GenaFlower! Your trip recap, photos and anecdotes, so appropriately portray the vibrant energy you exuded when you were in Cali! I felt buoyed and encouraged by your confidence. And kept thinking: we are freaking en-thu-si-astic about evvvvverything (“good” and “bad” stuff) and we LOVE every minute of it. sincerity, yo!

Maybe sometimes we are confusing earnest heartfeltiness with melancholy… heartfeltiness, yo!

Love the tripod in Muir Woods! Was vrksasana too obvious?

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Hoshigaki August 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm

also: item #5 under your “stuff I packed” section reads: “I didn’t plant on making smoothies on this trip…” parapraxis? Freudian slip?

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Shannon R August 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I still haven’t been to Greens! Ugh! I’m also jealous because my omni husband works almost beside Source. He taunted me the other day with photos instead of inviting me to lunch. Punk.

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Jennifer August 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Sounds like a fabulous trip, Gena! Wow, what great food you were able to find! I’m not in a place (financially) to be able to travel right now, so it was fun to read about your trip. After all your hard work it sounds like you definitely needed and deserved this break.

I agree with Skye about the planning part – sometimes that part eludes me for whatever reason and I find myself not properly prepared and trying to find something decent to eat. It was helpful to see your provisions – good ideas as I transition back to my student role in the next few weeks.

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Tracy August 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Hi Gena,
I had to mention that I love Lydia’s Organics too. They are only available at a small health food store near my beach (strange) and they are very expensive. I have never seen them in Whole Foods in Philadelphia. I am obsessed with her Cacao Crunch Bar….have you had it?

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Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) August 20, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I absolutely adore San Francisco, can’t wait to visit again sometime. The Muir woods are beautiful. I loved Gracias Madre and Plant cafe.

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Christina @ The Beautiful Balance August 20, 2013 at 5:58 pm

The Plant Cafe is one of my favorites!

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dee August 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm

What a lovely lovely post. This is the second San Francisco post I’ve come upon in my Feedly today. I think this means I am meant to visit. Thank you for the recommendations. I’ll definitely be bookmarking them for future reference. : )

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Laura August 21, 2013 at 6:17 am

Oh wow, what fun and yum! I haven’t been to San Fran in many years, like 16? Long before I ever considered plant based eating. And I really want to go, almost just for the eats! I have the Millennium cookbook, actually my first vegan cookbook, but I’ve never been there! Not that NYC is too shabby on the restaurant scene…

Also, you really are so clever with your travel eats. I’ve been skeptical about the coconut water powder, but maybe I will give it a go.

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Hannah August 21, 2013 at 9:10 am

Phew; it’s a good thing I didn’t eat all of your 22 Days bars when I was visiting. It was close, but.

This post makes me so happy, Genalove. So very happy that you and your mum (fine, “mom”) were able to have this trip with completely worry-free hearts, and also, well, simply because I miss my own mother so much and knowing that you’ve been spending such time with yours makes me feel almost like my own is nearby. That makes no sense. But you know what I mean. I know you know. xo

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Ted Wallof August 21, 2013 at 9:16 am

Looks like an awesome time! San Fran is such a great place for vegans. Thanks for sharing all your tips. Can’t wait to visit again soon and check out all your spots.

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the delicate place (@misathemeb) August 21, 2013 at 3:02 pm

i adore SF! if the housing wasn’t so pricey, i’d consider moving there myself! pittsburgh is just so dirt cheap it’s hard to leave…plus it’s my home since birth! i only lasted a few years away haha. SF is also such a vegan friendly city…serious foodie heaven!

i think you’ll enjoy my last post…a 7 day trial (i’m on day 5 effortlessly) so i might just continue on? we’ll see!

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Kristine August 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm

I was in SF in June and visited many of the same spots – mostly motivated by food – like Millennium, Greens and the Ferry Building. I also wrote a post about my travel snacks for the trip. I think we’re having parallel eating/blogging lives.

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Gena August 22, 2013 at 11:14 am

Ha! Blogging doppelgangers.

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Rachael August 22, 2013 at 2:20 am

That coconut water powder would also be great for long camping/hiking adventures. I’ve hunted down powdered hummus for the same reason. Powder doesn’t leak and it’s much lighter to lug up a mountain!

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bitt August 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I love that yoga room in the SF airport! I took a pretty long nap there. Ok, um, shivasina??

love the food in San Fran. Hope you got some treats at Mariposa. Grasias madre is so delicious!

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Christa @ Edible Balance August 22, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Oh how I would love to visit San Fran with you! this is so fun to see what you did and revisit all the places I love and find out new spots to explore next time I’m there. I’m so glad you loved The Plant! San Fran is truly something special <3

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JP August 24, 2013 at 3:53 am

I love that Ginger Fire too.

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kimmythevegan August 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Sounds like you had a lovely time! I love Source! I was just there on the weekend and it was super tasty. YUM.
It’s so great you got to see Carrie on your travels – such a cute picture of you two =)

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Star August 26, 2013 at 9:52 am

Gena!
What wonderful summer adventures! I have been loving the posts.

Just wanted to let you know, I just downloaded Vegan Delish. Thank you for the suggestion. I have finally settled down in my new job and surroundings and will not get back ON the wagon. haha.

Have a great week!

Star

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Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See August 26, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Looks like an awesome trip! Wish I had gotten to Millenium and the others you mentioned, while in SF this summer :)

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Anna August 30, 2013 at 10:45 am

You said you got “Some coconut curry crackers from Lydia’s Organic” but I couldn’t find the product on her website and when I enlarged your photo it’s from another company called Livin’ Spoonful.

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Gena September 3, 2013 at 6:38 am

Anna,

Gah! I’m clearly losing my marbles :-) My friend, Valerie, had given me some Lydia’s crackers some time before I traveled, and in my head that’s what I packed and brought with me, but my own photos say otherwise. I must have packed the Livin’ Spoonful crackers, which I also had at home, instead, and simply failed to notice it when I wrote the post. I edited it. Totally my bad. Sorry for the confusion!

G

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Liz September 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I went to SF last week for work and was staying down the street from the Plant Cafe. I ate there twice and LOVED it! Thanks for the great recommendation. I also tried the House Kombucha that’s displayed in one of your pictures and thought that was great too. I live in the DC area too and think it would be much easier to eat a plant-based diet in SF! Thanks again!

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