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Our Africa Adventure
Aug08

Our Africa Adventure

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many truly amazing places thus far in my lifetime, but it’s taken me until now to set foot on the African continent. Finally, everything fell into place to make it happen this past month. I had the time (always the hardest part about getting away!) and an enthusiastic travel companion, and the trip fit in perfectly with my personal agenda of doing some reading up on International Wildlife Law during summer break. What better way to follow up reading about wildlife than by hanging out with the elephants and leopards themselves? After landing in South Africa and spending our sixth wedding anniversary at African Rock Hotel in Johannesburg, my husband Seth and I headed to Zimbabwe. The chance to be with the animals in their own environment is an experience that I wish each person could have at some point during his or her lifetime. We encountered all kinds of animals — animals I didn’t even know existed before this trip. And we did so quietly and respectfully, mindful not to intrude upon them or disrupt nature in progress. We were there simply to bear witness. I remain in awe of the power and peace one finds co-existing in the wilderness. A brief overview of our incredible journey: Hwange National Park We stayed at the Little Makalolo Camp, with a tented suite that overlooked a large watering hole, a gathering place for many animals, especially elephants. Our expert guide Sibbs demonstrated a consciousness and spiritual connection to the land and animals that made me trust him enough to put me within twelve feet of a male lion. Another highlight, a herd of about 700 buffalo. At first they looked like a collection of dots, or black shrubs, on the horizon; having a Shakespeare moment, I was reminded of the Birnam Woods coming to Dunsinae in Macbeth. It only got better when a baby hippo emerged from the water and started mingling with the crowd, trying to make some new friends. Lake Kariba Getting from place to place required air travel, small planes that seated from four to twelve people. There were five of us, including our pilot, on the trip from Hwange to Kariba, and the first view of the wide expanse of  the lake was simply breathtaking. By volume, Lake Kariba is the largest man-made lake and reservoir in the world, and the wildlife that comes to it is spectacular. Our guide Madison grew up in the Lake Kariba area, and he often displayed a playfulness during our drives together — still delighting in the discovery of an animal, as I imagined he did...

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Good Sweets in Portland, Oregon
Jul08

Good Sweets in Portland, Oregon

A continuation of yesterday’s post about good eats in this super veg-friendly city. Today we’re talking about la dolce… Back to Eden Bakery Boutique After hanging out at The Bye and Bye, head over to this place, right in the same neighborhood. This is a cozy little bakery that also has soft-serve vegan ice cream. I sampled the chocolate-lavender, which was quite different form anything I’d ever had before — and a fun change for all you chocolate lovers out there. There also are plenty of toppings to choose from such as vegan marshmallows, granola, nuts, and homemade caramel. Among the baked goods: a “whoopie pie” comprised of two whole wheat, lemon flavored cakes (the size of  large cookies) with a strawberry tofutti-blend frosting sandwiched between them. Back to Eden makes cakes to order, too. How does Pistachio cake with rosewater buttercream (yes, vegan) sound to you? Yum. Voodoo Doughnuts This place came up in two separate conversations within my first twenty-four hours in Portland; and when I asked a third person about it, his eyes lit up with excitement. I got to sample a few: a cake doughnut with vanilla icing and multicolored sprinkles; a raised doughnut with powdered sugar and jelly; and a (nondairy) custard-filled doughnut with vanilla icing. WOW. If you’ve got a sweet tooth or a thing for donuts, this Portland fave is not to be missed. But make sure you have some time: I’ve heard that even late at night, there can be as many as thirty people waiting in line. Sweetpea Baking Company Vegan cakes, cupcakes, and cheesecakes! Generally speaking, I’m a girl of simple tastes: vanilla cupcake, vanilla frosting. But the variety of baked desserts in the display case while I was there all looked insanely de-lish. Not to mention the cinnamon rolls, which required a whole other level of self-restraint. In addition, Sweetpea has a terrific selection of sandwiches, which made it an ideal spot to have lunch with one of my Lewis & Clark classmates. I was tempted to get the grilled (vegan) cheese with tomato but opted for a B.L.T., made with tempeh bacon, along with a cup of pumpkin black bean soup. My friend Autumn went with a vegan reuben. And — no surprise — the thick slices of wheat bread used for both of our sandwiches was soooooo fresh and delicious! Bonus Tip! Sweetpea is part of the city’s vegan mini-mall, home also to Herbivore Clothing, Food Fight Grocery, and Scapegoat Tattoo. Have fun shopping and tasting your way through an afternoon! Or maybe adding some (new cruelty-free) ink to your skin. More about Herbivore on...

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Good Eats in Portland, Oregon
Jul07

Good Eats in Portland, Oregon

In a recent poll by VegNews magazine, 42% of the respondents replied that they thought Portland was the most vegan-friendly city. While I was spending my days at Lewis & Clark Law School studying about laws pertaining to Farmed Animals, I also made time to explore the city a bit with some friends. Here are some new Portland faves of my own to share with you. Portobello Trattoria More than one Portland friend extolled this restaurant as THE place to check out while in town. So my first Saturday night in town, my friend Nicole and I headed there for dinner. Start off with the White Truffle Mushroom & Nut Pate, or the Beet Tartare with cashew cheese and baguette — so good! I have a personal rule that whenever I’m at a restaurant that offers some variation of spinach salad on the menu it’s an automatic order for me, so I went with a half order of the spinach & strawberry salad, and a half order of the risotto croquettes with roasted nectarines, which was amazing. Roasted nectarines and I will be arranging a second date in the near future. I also sampled Nicole’s half-orders of thyme-potato gnocchi (pan-fried dumplings) in cashew creme, and her eggplant ravioli in a delicious pistachio-cilantro pesto sauce. Blossoming Lotus Something about the vibe of this place immediately reminded me of Angelica Kitchenin NYC, so I instantly felt at home. I almost went with the Green Goddess Bowl — steamed greens, sprouts, and mixed greens with avocado ranch and roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette, topped with sesame seeds, and served with quinoa. Also tempting: the BBQ Tempeh Platter, with tempeh and red onions sauteed in “a rich, smoky, house-made whiskey ginger barbeque sauce, spicy butternut and black bean chili and spicy cornbread, served with a mixed green salad with sweet ginger dressing.” Ultimately, I went with one of the day’s specials, fantastic Pesto Wraps stuffed with yummy goodness like roasted mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. My friend and fellow AZ Law classmate Jennie ordered the spicy butternut & black bean chili quesadilla — a whole wheat tortilla with ground walnut chorizo, zucchini tahini nacho cheese, scallion, avocado ranch and roasted red pepper sour cream served with blue corn chips. The Bye and Bye A vegan lounge with a a terrific happy hour and hipster vibe. I love the rolled-up garage doors, the cement bar, and the jukebox. First things first, try the namesake drink that has peach-infused vodka, peach-infused bourbon, cranberry, and lemon. Tart and sweet, served up in a mason jar. Delicious and perfect for summertime! To eat, I ordered three “sides”: brussel sprouts,...

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Weekend at The Wynn, Vegas
Jun07

Weekend at The Wynn, Vegas

This past weekend, we enjoyed a quick getaway to Vegas, and it was our first time staying at The Wynn. Its owner, Steve Wynn has been a visionary and a trendsetter in this glitzy town for years. Among the ways he’s made his mark in Vegas: building the strip’s first luxury hotel (the Mirage), bringing in the amazing and animal-free performers of Cirque du Soleil, buying and then selling the Bellagio, and now… going vegan. Just this year, Steve Wynn announced that he was adopting a vegan lifestyle and that all his properties would be offering more vegan options. To aid him in bringing vegan cuisine to the masses, Mr. Wynn brought on board Tal Ronnen as Collaborating Vegan Chef.  My husband Seth and I were already fans of Tal Ronnen — his cookbook The Conscious Cook is a favorite for our own home- cooking adventures. We couldn’t wait to see Mr. Ronnen’s creativity manifest in this setting, as he teamed up with each restaurant’s executive chef to create dishes that would meet the high standards of The Wynn. Every restaurant at The Wynn (and its sister hotel, The Encore) offers vegan options, some with a separate vegan menu available upon request. Although we didn’t have time to check out all the restaurants this weekend, here are a few discoveries to share with you: Stratta When our food arrived at the table, the ladies sitting at the table next to ours leaned over to ask us what we were having because the food looked that delicious. Stratta’s vegan version of Chicken Milanese consists of a thick slice of heirloom tomato topped with rice-crusted Gardein, arugula, and shaved fennel; the Roasted Corn Agnolotti (similar to ravioli) came with wild mushrooms and spinach, all  tossed together in a cashew cream sauce. We finished our meal with coffee and shared the Coconut & Strawberry Tapioca, made with coconut milk and sweetened with agave nectar. The pudding is presented with thinly sliced strawberries, to make each spoonful even more heavenly. Okada Even vegans love a sushi dinner! We shared the Fried Vegetable Roll with Vegan Tempura Sauce and the Farmers Vegetables entree, a blend of bamboo shoots, asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, corn, squash, and peppers, served with a hishio-miso dipping sauce. To start, Seth and I split the Vegan Soba Noodle Soup. And the ambience is as wonderful as the food: the entire back wall of the restaurant opens up to a view of a Japanese botanical garden and cascading waterfalls. Talk about an oasis in the middle of a desert. Society Cafe Encore We enjoyed a leisurely Sunday lunch at this restaurant with a...

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Yoga NYC
Mar16

Yoga NYC

I credit my yoga practice as an integral part of my “awakening” to a more compassionate lifestyle. Heart chakra, wide open. And it is a practice, which means it’s always evolving: my daily practice reminds me that we need to think about progress rather than perfection, and that each day presents us with opportunities to make choices that affect the world around us. Whenever I’m back home in New York, even if for just a few days, I try to fit in at least one yoga class at one of my favorite NYC yoga havens. Although the move back to the city is still a ways off, you can be sure that proximity to yoga will be high on the priority list! Om Sweet Om. Jivamukti 841 Broadway at 14th St. A class at Jivamukti always leaves me feeling nurtured, peaceful, and empowered. Besides offering a challenging physical practice, Jivamukti puts animal rights and vegetarianism at the heart of its teachings. The studio always has plenty of materials on the subject, which is one of things that immediately appealed to me when I first visited the yoga center. And when I opened Lyric Yoga in Tucson, I took inspiration from this NYC studio: all around Lyric, we have materials related to our relationship with animals — from booklets by Vegan Outreach to information about animal foster care and the adoption of shelter animals. OM Yoga 826 Broadway at 12th St. Founder Cyndi Lee derives much of her inspiration from Tibetan Buddhism.  Since I independently studied Tibetan culture for years (including some studies of Tibetan Buddhism) and have traveled to Tibet, I instantly felt right at home in this studio and with OM Yoga’s integration of Tibetan Buddhist teachings. I even participated in a full-day teacher training immersion there a few years ago and think, if I ever have the chance to do a more extensive advanced yoga teacher training, OM Yoga’s program will be the one for me. Check out Cyndi Lee’s book Yoga Body, Buddha Mind; regardless of your personal religious beliefs, the book is a great exploration of how yoga can help us all become more compassionate beings. Bikram Yoga NYC 143 W. 72nd St. betw. Amsterdam & Columbus Bikram Yoga NYC has four different locations in Manhattan, but it was the Upper West Side studio (then at 72nd & Broadway) that was my yoga home for a long time. I was fortunate enough to have a work-study position, which meant practicing almost daily in exchange for one shift a week behind the front desk.  Many good memories and friends from that time in my life… so it’s always...

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Fave NYC restaurants
Mar14

Fave NYC restaurants

It’s spring break this week, which means I get to fly home and get my NYC fix!  While I’m spending my days squeezing in as many museums, galleries, and just walking around as I can, the nights are all about theater and visiting some of my favorite restaurants.  There are so many of eateries in NYC to choose from, but here are places I’ll be hitting this week and some of my fave dishes they offer. Maybe I’ll see some of you there! Angelica Kitchen 300 E. 12th St. betw. First & Second Ave. I’ll often go for one of the day’s specials, but the Dragon Bowls are always wonderful! Zen Palate 663 Ninth Ave at 46th St. 239 W. 105th St. betw. Broadway and Amsterdam Taro spring rolls, Vegetable Dumplings, “Taste of Curry” The 105th St. location (my old neighborhood!) is new, so I’ll be checking it out for the first time this week; the Ninth Ave. location is a favorite of mine to grab a bite before a Broadway show. Counter 105 First Ave. betw. 6th & 7th St. Almond-crusted Tofu w/spicy bok choy, Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad w/grilled tempeh croutons (also makes a mean martini) Candle 79 154 E. 79th St. at Lexington Caribbean Jerk Grilled Tempeh, Seitan Piccata For a more casual dining experience, Candle Cafe is just blocks away! Cafe Blossom 466 Columbus Ave. betw. 82nd & 83rd St. Warm Spinach Salad w/tempeh bacon and grilled asian pear, Seitan Marsala w/sauteed kale & roasted fennel Blossom restaurant in the Chelsea neighborhood: 187 Ninth Ave. at 23rd St. Not in NYC? You can still enjoy some of these restaurants’ creations with a little work.  Both Candle Cafe and Angelica Kitchen have cookbooks, which I use back in Tucson… to hold me over until my next visit to the Big...

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