In the last week Reuben, at left, and I attended two important vegan launch events as representatives of our vegan website–Vegetarians in Paradise. The first soire, on August 15th, was held in a beautiful setting on the sprawling lawn at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. The hotel’s aim was to introduce the new summer and fall vegan and farm-to-table menu items served in the Breeze Restaurant.
The second event, on August 22nd, took place in the parking lot at the Follow Your Heart food service facility called Earth Island. For Los Angelenos, Follow Your Heart is a long-standing and very beloved natural food market and vegetarian/vegan café where diners can order popular items like the Love Plate and Om-lette. And their exceptional soups are famous and even featured in their Follow Your Heart Vegetarian Soup Cookbook. The focus of the event was to introduce something vegans can never seem to get enough of–vegan cheese–specifically their new Vegan Gourmet Shreds–a meltable dairy-free cheese available in Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Fiesta Blend flavors.
The tasting at the Hyatt Regency was an elegant event with Executive Chef Felix Nappoly and Sous Chef Ali Parvinjah, who is vegan, greeting guests and chatting about the new menu offerings. Posing between the chefs is Co-host Carolyn Scott-Hamilton of The Healthy Voyager. Carolyn was instrumental in coordinating with the hotel’s PR Director Adrienne Devore to invite vegan media and VIPs to taste the new vegan items and signature vegan cocktails.
Both chefs were recognizing the need to meet the growing demand of patrons requesting vegan foods. This is a really big deal–the Hyatt Regency is a very large and very well known hotel in Los Angeles where visitors come from all over the world. The hotel also caters large events for foreign visitors as well as local residents.
The chefs were gracious as they strolled around the outer perimeter of the 4-sided bar answering questions and posing for photos. Behind the bar a number of chefs were busily preparing gorgeous tidbits for tasting. On the vegan side were bit-size morsels of stunning appetizers, each served it its own unique mini dish.
The Breeze Restaurant will feature the following items in their new menu:
Beet Carpaccio, Gardein Chicken with Risotto, Macadamia Caprese with semi Dried Tomato, Basil oil, Mizu Vinaigrette, and Balsamic Caramel, Smoked Tofu Dijon with Stone Fruits, Red Beet Quinoa with Zucchini Noodles, Golden Raisins and Toasted Almonds, with Avocado Basil Oil and Yellow Beet Chips, and Vegan Breakfast Wrap.
The photos suggest vegans will have an opportunity to enjoy an elegant array of menu choices that are stunning as well as tasty. If you drop in to Breeze Restaurant for a lunch or dinner and don’t see the new vegan items on the menu, be sure to ask. The menu will change with the seasons. And, as you might expect, the ambience is elegant and upscale.
Follow your Heart’s Vegan Gourmet Shreds Tasting was a smashing success! Earth Island is a huge, completely solar-powered facility where the popular Vegenaise, Vegan Gourmet cheeses, and the multitude of Follow Your Heart’s salad dressings are prepared and shipped across the country. The parking lot in front of Earth Island easily morphed into a charming gathering of vendors and bloggers who will spread the word about the exciting Vegan Gourmet Shreds, the cheese that melts and makes so many foods taste so compelling.
Three of the original four owners Bob Goldberg Michael Besancon, and Paul Lewin meandered about the crowd chatting and shaking hands. While Michael Besancon moved on many years ago, Bob Goldberg and Paul Lewin are still leading Follow Your Heart’s 21st century journey forward. Marketing Director Katie Franklin stepped up to the mike to greet everyone and lead tours of the impressive solar facility. Bob gave a brief history of how Follow Your Heart began back in 1970 and grew into the wel-admired company it is today.
The parking lot was attractively outfitted with linen-draped standing-height tables with umbrellas providing welcome cover from the hot sun. Several of the familiar staff members from the café were busily weaving among the crowd and passing little dishes of cheese filled irresistibles.
Here’s what we gorged on as we waited in anticipation to taste the next delicious nibble. The photos follow the same order as the the names are listed:
Mini Spinach and Artichoke Quiches featuring their Follow Your Heart Mozzarella Shreds
Iceberg Lettuce Salad with cherry tomatoes topped with the new and very exceptional Bleu Cheese Dressing
Crispy Chicken w/mozzarella & tomato sauce
Veggie Tacos topped with their Fiesta Blend unmelted shreds
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches featuring Cheddar shreds in two versions: Roasted Garlic Vegenaise and Pesto Vegenaise
And Mac ‘n’ Cheese featuring their melted Cheddar
Each of the tasty cheese-filled morsels was an excellent example of how easy it is to incorporate the shreds into everyday favorite dishes. The killer-delicious mini quiches added an elegant touch to the array of samples, demonstrating how well the shreds could boost the flavor and appearance of party dishes to make them extra special.
In addition to the delightful cheese tasting, representatives of The Vegan Vine were serving up samples of their white and red wines in elegant, long-stemmed wine glasses, while Angel City Vegan Brewery was on hand to introduce two vegan beers by serving up generous cups filled to the brim.
The new vegan foods introduced at both the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel and Follow Your Heart have earned a special place at Vegetarians in Paradise–and we will happily spread the word. Both are representative of how far vegan cuisine has come in recent years. May vegan foods be THE foods of the future for humans, animals, and the entire planet.