FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: Saturday Nigh Gala

This was hands down the best part of the whole festival. We could purchase guest tickets for this event, so once again I brought my sweetheart. It was exciting to get dress-up up and have “adult time” as Michael phrased it.

After the Taste Pavilion, it was such a lovely day so we walked through the city for awhile. Then we changed and head to to the Sir Francis Drake a bit early to grab a drink. I had a very yummy cocktail called “Nothing Rhymes with Orange” and Michael of course had an Anchor Steam.

Then shuttles took us over to the California Academy of Sciences for the gala. We started in the lobby where they servred melon agua fresca and this ahi appetizers that Michael loved, and once again I will just take his word for it. Then we wandered through the museum, passed the sharks and rays, and down stairs to the aquarium.

Sorry it’s so dark, best I could do!

There was an open bar and hors d’oeuvres. They had a special apricot martini that I could not get passed the first sip. I quickly switched to wine, Cupcake Vineyards to be exact. I started with a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Most of the passsed hors d’oeuvres were actually vegan! They had eggplant veggie crepes and veggie sushi rolls. Plus little tables with spreads, crackers, and nuts.

We mingled and stared at the fish. Michael even ran into an old friend and I ran into Kristianne (My San Francisco Kitchen) whom I had cocktails with the night before. She joined us for the rest of the night.

They ushered us back upstairs for a buffet dinner. We sat at a table with Danica from Danica’s Daily and her husband, Blair from Slovenian Roots Quest and her husband, and Petra from Strawberry Pesto.

I was kinda disappoint that the only vegan options were salads. Michael laughed and said, “I thought all you eat is vegetables?” I am not going to complain too much since they were actually really good.

The first table had an avocado and grapefruit salad in a wine vinaigrette, and a yellow beat salad.

The second table had an fennel and escarole salad in a champagne dressing, and an arugula and endive salad in a sherry vinaigrette.

For dessert I switched to the Sparkling Presecco. Their vegan options were an apple pate and almond raspberry cake bites. Kristianne literally grabbed one of everything, it was pretty funny.

Afterwards we just took the shuttle back and drove home. We were exhausted, but had a lot of fun. I am looking forward to next year already!

Thank you again to Foodbuzz and all the sponsors!

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: Taste Pavilion

The second day of the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival started with a scavenger hunt at the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building…at 8:30 in the morning….I was still sleeping at 8:30 in the morning. I showed up around 10:30 and did not feel like doing the scavenger by myself. I did explore the vendor booths and use the $6 worth of tokens FoodBuzz gave me for a yummy spicy raw lettuce wrap from Alive!‘s booth. I sat and ate with a lovely view of the foggy Bay Bridge.

Messy but the gulls were happy to help.
Afterwards I slowly walked through the city to the Metreon for the Taste Pavilion. We could bring a guest to this event for free, so of course I invited my sweetheart. Michael was happy to help me sample local food and drinks. His favorite was the steak from grass-fed beef, which I will just take his word for it since beef might be the farthest thing from vegan.
I am going to discuss my three  favorite vendors:
Locally grown organic vegan snacks! And they are made from dehydrated veggies! The founder Justin was excited when he saw the name of my blog and told me all about the awesome organic produce they use. I love kale chips, and their Chessy Kale Chips really wowed me. The “cheese” is actually sunflower seeds and soy-free miso. The Seasoned Zucchini Sticks would be great to munch on and wash down with a beer during a game.
Aloha, my braddah! Liko was inspired to start an organic handmade ice pop company from his memories of making ice pops with his Tutu (Hawaiian for Grandma). Michael and I were not only happy to talk story with him, but more than happy to sample all of his delicious frozen treats. Michael liked the Yellow Watermelon Mint. I loved the Passionfruit Coconut, it reminded me of this shave ice I got almost everyday when I met my parents in Maui last summer.
Oh my, the Thai Green Curry might be the best I have ever had—and if you have read this blog before you know my love for Thai curry. Cook! is a gluten-free and dairy-free meal service for California, but they also have packaged retail products for sale. Michael loved the Zucchini Soup. I hope their products make their way to San Jose soon!
See my other blog, Drink Vegan Beer, for my review of Bison Brewing Company.

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: Review of Millennium

After the cocktail reception at Harry Denton’s Starlight lounge, we were turned loose in the city to dine at the restaurant of our choice compliments of FoodBuzz.

I chose Millennium, a mostly vegan restaurant located in The Hotel California. It was right around the corner from the Sir Francis Drake so I didn’t have to walk very far at all. It has a more modern decor, which goes nicely with the local organic menu.

They had a very nice liquor and wine list, but I went with beer. You can check out the review of California Common on my other blog, Drink Vegan Beer.

As my appetizer, the minute the waitress described the soup of the day I wanted it. Cauliflower and leek puree with chipotle oil and fried potato chips. It was creamy but light. The leaks stood out without being over powering (a problem I have when making leak soup). And I loved the spice from the chipotle oil. And the potato chip was fried perfectly.

For my entree, I selected the Sweet Soy, Chile and Peanut Glazed Tempeh. It came with anise and coconut black rice, snow peas, and Asian pear pieces. The glaze on the tempeh was so good, a little spicy but balanced with a little sweet. The veggies were just a little crisp still, which I love. The anise in the rice was very interesting and went well with the spiciness of the tempeh. And the Asian pear was a nice complement to the whole dish.

I lucked out and scored a free dessert because of FourSquare! I checked-in and received a coupon for a free dessert with the purchase of an appetizer and an entree.

I chose their signature, the Chocolate Almond Midnight. It was just rich enough without being over the top. The raspberry sauce drizzled over it provided a nice tart contrast. What really made this dish was the almond cashew crust.

As much as I loved Hawaii, I am happy to be back on the mainland where there are fabulous restaurants I can actually eat at again! I am so making Michael take me back here next time we go to the city for dinner.

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival 2012: Cocktails at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room


The first event for the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival was a cocktail reception at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room, which is located on the 21st floor of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. After my long and boring train ride to the city, I was more than happy to enjoy a drink and some conversation.

They had two complimentary cocktails, a peach spritzers and hibiscus martini. I hated the peach one but the martini was amazing. I had two!

There were vegan some hors d’oeuvres too! Sesame tofu with a little wakame, spicy melon skewers, mini beat salads. All went very well with my cocktails.

Another amazing thing—the view! It was a little foggy so we could not see the bay very well, so it was just a fantastic view of the city.

I had cocktails with two very lovely ladies, Brigitt from cook with b and Kristianne from My San Francisco Kitchen.  I also met the author of a blog I already love, Emily from Newly Wife. Check out their blogs too!

As for the Starlight room itself, the decor is a bit outdated and worn, but overall it’s a nice place. The service was great too. I would definitely recommend it for a cocktail before or after dinner, especially for a fun date night.

Special Report: Harts Flea Medicine Kills

So, like I promised, this blog will still majority of the time be devoted to vegan food and recipes, and not be over-preachy. But this issue upsets me so much that my journalism background had to come out.

A few days ago I got a new kitty because my building has a small rat problem and I’ve wanted a companion for awhile. I got her from an animal sanctuary where she was in a room full of other kittens, so it’s not surprise she had some fleas. As a broken college kid, I did not have the money to buy her expensive Advantage or Frontline. My mom warned me that cheap stuff from the grocery store does not work, but it was was all I could afford without bugging my parents for money. So I picked up some Hartz Ultra Guard One Spot for Cats and Kittens. It was only $9.99 for a 3 months supply. I put it on Penny when I got home and was curious what was in and why it was so much cheaper than vet recommended brands. Wikipedia told me methoprene, the active ingredient, is an insecticide that interrupts the life cycle of fleas eggs. But it does not actually kill adult fleas. That annoyed me because it was the adult fleas not the eggs that were causing Penny to itch and chew fur off.

Then I Googled “Hartz” and several links about lethal the products are came up. I clicked on one called Hartz Victims, a site where people post their stories on what happened to their pet when they used Hartz products. Some of them very recent. As I read, I looked down to see Penny grooming herself and panicked. I scooped her up and ran to the bathtub. I washed her neck first was baking soda and normal soap, then I scrubbed her whole body in Dawn. I felt so guilty, I chose money over her health. I was afraid I poisoned her. My new little friend, only 9-months old. As I scrubbed her, I was worried I’d have to rush her to an emergency vet in the middle of night from a grand mal seizure or something.

However, besides being annoyed at the multiple baths, she seemed perfectly fine and the product was only on for an hour. But I decided to stay in and watch her the rest of the night. I poked her every once and awhile to make sure she would response like a normal kitten, and she did. She even discovered that she can snap the string on my eye mask to wake me up, so I knew she was all right.

Penny was lucky. Although some people have used Hartz for years on multiple pets and have no adverse reactions whatsoever, I did not want to risk it on my baby. I found more website, more horror stories, and even Youtube videos. What upsets me the most is that this product is still allowed on the shelves. If this was a human product, it would have been removed and the company sued to death after the first death. But, because it is for animals, it is allowed to stay. The EPA forced them to reformulate their cat products in 2006 but not its dog product. But this did not do much good because there is still numerous reports of cat and continued dogs death well after 2006.

So, please do not use Hartz products. Your pet might be  lucky enough to be one of the ones who has no reactions, but your money goes into making more products that can potentially kill another pet. There are some risks with all chemical flea medicines, but nothing like Hartz (I read a few stories about Sergeant, another cheap grocery store brand too). Advantage can cause a reactions if improperly used, like if it is put on in the wrong place where the pet can lick it. The stories you read about Hartz happened when the owners did nothing wrong. From what I can gather, methoprene is lethal to your pet in large doses and there is way more in one single tube of Hartz than needed to kill your pet.

I asked my mom the next day if she would order me some Advantage from Petco for Penny and she agreed. I will never put cheap products on her again. I don’t believe your pet needs silk pillows and $10,000 food everyday, but if you are a responsible pet owner, you will buy quality products to ensure your pet has the best chance to live a long, happy life. I plan on keeping Penny for as long she will grace this Earth, and I promise to make her life a good one.