Monday, August 25, 2014

Happy Hour at Downtown & Vine

Lately, when I've wanted to go out with friends for drinks, I've discovered that it isn't that easy to find restaurants with vegan options on their happy hour menus. Tapa the World and Kasbah are vegan-friendly, as is Capital Dime, but most happy hour menus seem to have nothing for vegans.

Last week, when I was searching the Internet for a suitable place to meet my friends Cathie and Bonnie for happy hour, I came across Downtown & Vine, a wine bar on K Street. They didn't have an actual happy hour menu, but their regular menu included several small plates with vegan options. The first thing we ordered was Kate's Hummus, which was served with a beautiful assortment of raw vegetables. We also ordered a side of baguette slices to go with it.

We also had Marcona Almonds and Bruschetta. Other vegan items we could have ordered included the House Olive Mix, Baguette & Round Pond Olive Oil, and Kettle Potato Chips.

If you're looking for something more substantial, they also have a very nice Vegetarian Sandwich, made with hummus, roasted eggplant, red pepper, artichoke, and arugula.

If you're wondering whether the wines are vegan, the resource I use is Barnivore. Unfortunately, most of the wines served at Downtown and Vine haven't been checked out yet by Barnivore. The Domaine Carneros (Taittinger) sparkling wines are listed as vegan-friendly, however, so I had a lovely Brut.

Downtown & Vine is located at 1200 K Street, Suite 8, and their phone number is 916-228-4518. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 9:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from noon to 10:00 p.m.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Can Healthy Soil Save Us from Climate Change?

Recently, I attended an event at Sun & Soil Juice Co. to hear from author Kristin Ohlson about her new book, The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet. The event was a fundraiser for Green Restaurants Alliance Sacramento (GRAS), which, among other things, collects green waste for composting from local restaurants through its ReSoil Sacramento program.

I settled in with one of Sun & Soil Juice Co.'s delicious Royal Turmeric Bomb smoothies (orange, banana, mango, coconut milk, coconut oil, turmeric, and ginger) and listened to Kristin Ohlson talk about carbon farming, the practice of building up carbon in the soil to create a healthier environment for plant growth. The plants then pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, which helps to reduce and mitigate the effects of climate change. In her research for The Soil Will Save Us, Ohlson visited farms and rangelands in several U.S. states, Zimbabwe, and Australia, and saw firsthand the results of various strategies to create healthier, more carbon-rich soil.

The scientists, farmers, and land managers she spoke with had discovered that many common agricultural practices contribute to the degradation of the soil. I think most vegans are aware of the problems caused by monoculture farming and the use of pesticides, but even seemingly benign actions such as tilling the soil or applying fertilizer destroy the microorganisms that are essential to the creation of healthy soil. According to Ohlson's sources, better options would include no-till planting, sowing a variety of cover crops, rotating animal grazing plots, and spreading the residue from the previous year's planting over the land to reduce erosion and to nourish the soil. The farms Ohlson visited that followed these practices had less need (or no need) for pesticides and fertilizer, and thrived even during times of limited rainfall.

Following Ohlson's talk, the GRAS and ReSoil Sacramento staff led the event's attendees on a walking tour to demonstrate the steps they are taking to help create healthy soil. ReSoil Sacramento picks up kitchen scraps from local restaurants like Sun & Soil Juice Co. and takes them by bicycle to an Earth Tub composting unit at Hot Italian.

When the compost is ready, ReSoil Sacramento delivers it to various local farms or community gardens. The one we visited on our walking tour was a large backyard garden called Midtown Freedom Farm, where partners Adam and Jehfree welcomed us with homemade refreshments and a tour of their garden.

Both the talk and the walking tour were very enlightening for me. As someone with no gardening talents, I tend to forget how much work goes into producing the food we eat, so I appreciated the hands-on demonstration the walking tour provided.

I was especially uplifted, though, by Kristin Ohlson's optimistic view that something as basic as healthy soil could help to save us from the dangers of climate change. The Soil Will Save Us provides a fascinating and forward-looking perspective on a subject that's vital to our survival. I recommend it to not only those who work with the land, but those who care about the future of our planet.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wahoo's Fish Taco


When I heard that a Wahoo's Fish Taco restaurant was opening in Midtown, I wasn't very interested. After all, what could a fish taco place possibly have on the menu for vegans? But when I checked out their website, I saw they actually had a few vegan options, so my son Zack and I stopped in for lunch on opening day.

I ordered the Banzai Bowl, consisting of bell peppers, onions, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, cabbage, and a choice of protein. I chose the tofu, which was sautéed in a spicy teriyaki sauce. This dish is served with rice and beans. Both the black beans and the Cajun white beans are vegan, so I had both with my meal. I also asked for the brown rice, which is vegan. The white rice is not. This was a very tasty plateful of food and extremely filling!

We went back again later in the week. This time, I ordered the Son of Classic Burrito, which is so new that it doesn't even appear yet on their online menu. In addition to the tofu I chose as my protein, this burrito contained beans (I asked for half black beans and half Cajun white beans), citrus slaw, and roasted red pepper salsa (I asked them to hold the cheese). I liked this dish even better than the Banzai Bowl.

Wahoo's Fish Taco is a national chain. The Sacramento restaurant is located at 1820 L Street, and their phone number is 916-378-0104. The website address is and their Facebook page can be found at Wahoo's Fish Taco is open daily beginning at 11:00 a.m. Closing hours will vary, with the restaurant closing at around 9:00 p.m. on weeknights and later on weekends.