If you ask a group of vegans what they find difficult about living a vegan lifestyle, “eating out” is stated over and over again. Travelling is also frequently mentioned. So imagine a resort – a luxury resort with a fine dining restaurant – that offers it all. A relaxing, beautiful setting – and it’s all vegan.

When I received word that Dining at the Ravens was on its way to the publisher, and learned more about the Stanford Inn by the Sea, and what Jeff and Joan Stanford have been cultivating there for more than 35 years, I had one of those vegan moments – you know those moments where you see clearly that veganism really is becoming mainstream, and you feel all warm and tingly and good? Maybe it’s just me. 🙂 Seriously though, this place looks like heaven for vegans, and I am ecstatic that this new cookbook has brought it to my attention.

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Vegan food is good. That’s not a shocker anymore. But what IS a shocker to many people – even vegans sometimes – is how good it can be. This cookbook shows that first hand – this is gourmet vegan food that would rival any type of gourmet food, any day – and it’s not even that difficult to make! Like many vegans I LOVE food, and I LOVE the experience of going out for a really amazing vegan meal. Despite the fact that veganism is becoming more and more mainstream, where I live, that’s still not the easiest thing to do. Sure, most places have a veg burger that you can veganize, and most places will make you a stirfry – but true vegan gourmet? Ooh la la! You may be able to tell how excited I am to find my way down to Mendocino and book my stay at the Stanford Inn by the Sea.

Ok, back to the book. What I love about it:

  • the recipes I have tried so far have been so good I have made them again
  • most of the recipes are pretty easy to make – here’s a chance to make vegan gourmet in the comfort of your own home and REALLY impress all your friends and family!
  • the story behind the Stanford Inn by the Sea, and what Jeff and Joan are doing there – check out “about the authors” below for more details
  • the carrot pâté
  • the creativity! Just looking through this cookbook gets me not only salivating, but completely inspired to get in the kitchen and make something spectactular of my own up
  • the pantry basics – at the end of the book there is a section of recipes of pantry basics, which are great for scratch cooking – and used in many of the recipes in the rest of the book. From tofu ricotta to shiitake bacon, you’ll find what you need in this section
  • the photos – truly drool-worthy

We are so happy to be featuring Dining at the Ravens this week on the Vegan Mainstream Cookbook Club, sharing recipes and discussion about gourmet vegan food. Come join us! You also have a chance to win a copy of the book – we will be doing the draw on Monday, March 14.

To get you inspired, here’s one of the fantastic recipes from the book, with a photo of the one I made, just for fun!

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Carrot Pâté

Makes 1 1/2 cups

This recipe has great flavor and is perfect for a special reception. Serve as a dip or spread with crudité or crostini.

  • 1 1/2 cups cashew pieces
  • 1 cup peeled and roughly chopped carrot
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons red or white mellow miso
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari
  • 1–2 tablespoons water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place all ingredients except salt and pepper in a high-speed blender and blend, starting with 1 tablespoon of water. Add an additional tablespoon of water if the mixture is too thick to easily spread.
  2. With a rubber spatula, carefully scrape sides of the blender and continue to blend until a smooth paste is formed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

from Dining at the Ravens by Jeff & Joan Stanford.

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Jeff and Joan Stanford moved to the north coast of California in 1980, when they discovered Mendocino. They converted a bare-bones motel into an American Automobile Association Four Diamond inn and eco-resort dedicated to living sustainably. Here, with their two young children, they raised, and continue to have, llamas, horses, swans, and rescued dogs and cats on a working organic farm and inn. Believing that personal transformation most easily begins in the kitchen, they opened The Ravens Restaurant as first vegetarian and then totally plant based. Knowing that they could not do it all, they developed a model of a cocreative kitchen. At The Ravens they encourage everyone—from servers to bussers, cooks to dishwashers—to taste and suggest changes to a dish or offer completely new dishes.

Both Jeff and Joan are active in promoting healthy life choices and created the Mendocino Center for Living Well to offer classes from Creative Playshops to cooking and experiences from wildlife river tours to mushroom foraging to both the community and the inn’s guests.