An Abundance of (Cafe) Gratitude

by Sarah on November 13, 2011 · 6 comments

As soon as I arrived back from San Francisco, I was hammered with questions about my trip. Since the whole reason for my California dreamin’ was the Foodbuzz Festival food blogger conference, the most common query was “What was the best thing you ate?” and I had to laugh every time.

You see, my favorite meal wasn’t sponsored by Foodbuzz at all.It was sponsored* by Cafe Gratitude.
*“Sponsored” being a loose term whereby they prepared my food and I actually paid for it.
A fortuitous meeting with Christin [She is also from Austin! We had a friend in common! She is so real and grounded I don't know how I went so long without knowing her!] at Friday night’s welcome reception led to an introduction to Lori (with whom I shared the awkward “I know who you are, and you know who I am, and are we going to admit we read each other’s blogs?” moment…made less awkward by the fact that she is A.Ma.Zing) and an instant bond among the three of us during Saturday night’s TyFlo lovefest [slash] Gala Dinner. Due to the fact that the dinner failed to meet anyone’s dietary restriction requirements (Christin and Lori are gluten-free^), and my constant need to talk about ‘being a vegan, but not being a VEGAN,’ we became fixated on skipping the closing brunch and going, instead, to Cafe Gratitude, a vegan, mostly raw food, restaurant that Lori knew well.
^Well, except for when faced with Cowgirl Creamery cheesecake.
I immediately felt at home with the wooden tables, with bright flowers and pillows lining the benches, carefully situated for community seating. You might being your meal with the people you came with, but be joined by strangers.*
*I want to say “who could then become friends” but I thought that might take the cheese level a little too far. And right now, my stomach and I don’t do cheese.I don’t know how to explain it, but you walk in, sit down, and immediately feel like you are in a safe haven of food and happiness and you get a strong desire to eat clean and be a vegan forever. I’m pretty sure by the time I left I was convinced I was going to open my own vegan restaurant where we could all dine in peace and harmony and hippie-like San Francisco compassion.
I settled for whipping out my phone and immediately ordering the cookbook.[Source]

Negotiating the menu was a challenge, as everything is immediately appealing. Smoothies and juices and both raw and cooked soups, salads, entrees, and desserts…all of which are named with a positive affirmation of self.*
*When they serve you your meal, they say, “You are _______” which makes the whole thing a boost for your spirit, as well as happiness for your stomach.

I declared Christin “the winner” right away, with her “I Am Rejuvenated” juice of wheatgrass, apple, lemon, and ginger, and the “I Am Adventurous” raw soup of the day: a coconut curry that totally enlivened my tastebuds and made me want to run out and start hacking baby coconuts off of non-existent-in-Texas palm trees as soon as the cookbook arrived at my door.
It was a good thing both items were cold, because they were so beautiful and color-coordinated that I had to take twelve or more photos before I’d allow Christin to eat. [Please note, this was not my order. Apparently that morning "I [was] Demanding.]Lori and Christin both ordered “I Am Whole,” a rice and/or quinoa bowl covered in sea veggies, kale, and house-made kimchee…all smothered in tahini-garlic sauce.Again, the food was too beautiful not to photograph a thousand and one times. I had aimed to taste their dishes, but mine was so satisfying I forgot. After much debated, I had settled on “I am Fortified,” a slight variation from the above, featuring a similar quinoa-and-brown-rice blend……but covered in garden veggies (broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, zucchini), and with my tahini-garlic sauce on the side.*
*I can’t help it. I just have ‘a thing’ about needing it on the side! Must be an “I am In Control” issue.When you are seated, the server asks if you’d like to hear the question of the day. The Sunday, it happened to be, “Of what do you have in abundance?” My first thought? Joy.*

*And I honestly didn’t see the water bottle until afterward!So, although Foodbuzz might not have provided me with the best meal I ate in San Francisco, it did provide me with the new friends who made the meal possible.

And for that, “I am (Very, Very) Grateful.”

On this Sunday morning
–or afternoon or evening…or even Monday, if that’s when you read this)

What are YOU grateful for?
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

teabagginit November 13, 2011 at 10:40 am

i'm grateful for big bowls of shredded zucchini, wheat bran, vanilla, & cinnamon … and my imagination for letting me believe it tastes like zucchini bread. :)

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Christin@purplebirdblog November 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Love love LOVE this post!! And I totally forgot to try your dish as well, doh! Best meal in the history of ever!

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Lauren November 13, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Sounds and looks great!

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Fran@BCDC November 13, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I'm grateful for all of the wonderful people I'm "meeting" through blogging and all of the wonderful stories I'm hearing, such as this one. Sounds great, Sarah!

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Christine @ Oatmeal in my Bowl November 13, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Great review of Cafe Gratitude. I still have yet to go. But it looks so delicious. I love your "hacking baby coconuts off of non-existent-in-Texas palm trees" rant. ;)

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Tighe November 14, 2011 at 10:59 am

Lovvvve this place! Did you go anywhere else in Berkeley?

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