Rise! Grand Rapids

I had a very special treat last night (and this morning). A long while back I went to the first ever vegan pop-up bakery hosted by Vegan Grand Rapids. Since I follow them on facebook, I knew ahead of time there would be vegan donuts from Rise! Grand Rapids here in Michigan, and that’s what I was looking forward to the most. The event started Sunday at 11am, but I didn’t get there until 12:30 because I waited til after church. Well, after just 1.5 hours, all the donuts were sold out! In fact, nearly everything was sold out, but I think the donuts were first to go, selling out in something like 45 minutes.

Well, there was another pop-up bakery event last Saturday. All the vendors brought more stuff this time knowing how popular it would be, but guess what? The donuts sold out AGAIN! I was disappointed, but not too badly, because….

Gluten Free Vegan Donuts from Rise! Grand Rapids in Michigan
I’d already placed an order for two dozen donuts for a dinner party just a few days later. Since it was an autumnal party, I went with Maple Glazed Pumpkin (left) and Apple Cider with cinnamon and sugar (right).

Here at Rise everything is made from scratch with true and fresh ingredients. We love representing the conscious side of pastry and pride ourselves on creative spin-offs to the classics. We believe that food is at the heart of community, so come as you are. Have a seat at the table.
-from the Rise Grand Rapids facebook page

Gluten Free Vegan Donuts from Rise! Grand Rapids in Michigan
We had a ton of food, so I was too full to eat two whole donuts after dinner…even though I really, really wanted to. I couldn’t choose between the flavors, so I did what any reasonable person would do. Half of each.

Now, I’m not a gluten free person – I love gluten! I think there were only two gf people at the party, and one singular vegan. What if the donuts tasted vegan, or had a gluten free texture? You know, like what if they are weird and gross I think is some people’s fear. Not my friends, though. They’re used to eating all the interesting things I bring around. So, together we ate 19.5 donuts.

Gluten Free Vegan Donuts from Rise! Grand Rapids in Michigan
Here’s what we decided:

-No weird texture, we wouldn’t have known they were gluten free
-No weird “vegan” taste. Just GOOD.
-Really good.
-Especially impressed with texture of the Apple Cider donut. It was just a little crunchy and slightly browned on the outside, and perfectly soft and light on the inside. Everyone agreed the crunch was a plus, it was perfectly done.

Now, this morning they were day-old donuts. Were they stale? Not one bit! The crunchiness of the Apple Cider donut was gone, but it was replaced by a wonderful slightly-burnt caramel taste, probably caused by some of that sugar coating melting into the browned parts. I seldom drink coffee, but this was the perfect breakfast.

Lots of people were interested in ordering their own donuts, and I hope you’ll be interested, too! Rise also does cakes (including special occasion cakes) and cupcakes. And not only do they have delicious sweets, their customer service is wonderful. Great communication.
To see some of the lovely donuts and cakes that have come out of this brilliant little home-based bakery, visit the Rise Grand Rapids facebook page. Should you decide to place an order (DO IT), contact information is provided in the About section.

Donuts for Everyone!!!!!!!!!!!! Where’s your favorite place to get vegan donuts?

Like Donuts? You might also like:
Donut Sandwich
Vegan Philly Cheesesteak Qrunch Donut
Red Rabbit Bakery in Austin, TX

San Chez Tapas Bistro

Last night was such a fun night! I had dinner at San Chez Bistro with three other lady bloggers from Michigan. While their successes make my tiny blog seem rather…quaint…I learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to our next meeting. Not only that, I enjoyed a wonderful meal from the vegan menu at San Chez. Believe it or not, they actually have ELEVEN allergy menus! This has to be the most thoughtful restaurant ever. It’s a great idea for customers, and a wise move for restaurateurs.

Now, to be honest, I had dinner at San Chez back in June with a group of friends from the Parish Life Conference, and I never got around to writing about it. I wanted the flavors to be fresh in my mind, so I ordered a nearly identical meal last night – except last night, I found out about the vegan dessert! It’s not on the vegan menu, but it’s right at the top of the dessert menu and clearly marked Vegan. Did I tell you this place is great?

Vegan Gazpacho from San Chez Tapas Bistro in Grand Rapids, MI
I started off with Gazpacho, pretty straight forward – chilled tomato cucumber soup. The soup is blended superbly to give it a velvety-smooth texture, and although you can taste the individual ingredients, they still come together perfectly.

Vegan Pan a la Plancha from San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, MI
Next was the bread course. Vegans have two options, and I went with the Pan a la Plancha, a grilled whole wheat bread slice with tomato garlic spread, dripping with golden olive oil. I enjoyed this so much back in June, I ordered it again last night but got two pieces instead of one. I probably should have tried at least one piece with the salsa verde option, but I just really wanted more of that tomato garlic spread! You could seriously make a meal of this and the soup, but why stop there?

Vegan  Verduras y Tortas from San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, MI
For my first “small” plate (it’s actually a pretty good size for a small plate), I tried the Verduras y Tortas, black bean and quinoa cakes served over roasted vegetable with an avo-ziki sauce (a veganized tzatziki). Now, I’m not a huge fan of the sauce on its own, but it is magically transformed when you dip a piece of the black bean cake, or a veggie, in it. Not only does it taste wonderful, it’s such a visually appealing dish.

Vegan Tostones Fritos from San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, MI
The Tostones Fritos – fried plantains – could *almost* pass for a dessert, or would be great for breakfast. They’re served with an avocado relish, and vegans can enjoy the dish with jalapeno agave instead of honey. They reminded me of upscale pancakes, and I do love pancakes.

Vegan Pistachio Rice Pudding Dessert with Ice Cream from San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, MI
Last but not least, last night our very helpful waitress pointed out the lone vegan item on the dessert menu, which I missed last time because I’d only looked at the vegan menu (the dessert menu is separate for everyone, not just vegans). And lucky for us, it’s really like two desserts in one – Pistachio Rice Pudding with Medjool Date Ice Cream, and a chili quince glaze.

First I tried just the pistachio rice pudding. You know, when you’re a kid pistachio pudding is the least favorite. The only cool thing about it is the weird, bright green color. But now that I am sort of somewhat of a grown up, at least in the eyes of the law, I am finally able to appreciate its subtly sweet flavor. The rice is extra sticky and firm, so it’s like a very soft rice cake. But if you prefer a little more sweetness in your desserts, do not fear! Simply run the pudding through a bit of that glaze before you take a bite. And don’t forget the medjool date ice cream! I could eat a whole bowl of that.
One tip, though: Do NOT eat the little lemon peel garnishes by themselves! They are so dang salty, but somehow perfectly complement the ice cream IF you eat them WITH the ice cream. How did the chef know this would all work together so well?

Needless to say, I was stuffed by the end of evening. I hope to get back to San Chez soon so I can try the rest of the items on the vegan menu, and maybe a few cocktails (strictly for work-related purposes, of course). Not only is the food great, and plated beautifully, I love the feel of the restaurant – the simple little tables with brown craft paper draped over them, perfect for scribbling a note, and brightly colored decor. And everyone we dealt with on the waitstaff was so friendly and polite.

You can check out the Allergy Menus at San Chez here.

Check out my Vegan in Grand Rapids page for more of my reviews of local vegan restaurants, or see the list of restaurants from VeganGR.

something else happened

2012104 Stellas4

If you’re in the Grand Rapids, MI area, or planning a visit, check out my new Vegan in Grand Rapids page. There you will find a list of vegan-friendly restaurants I’ve visited myself, with links to their websites and one or more blog posts. The blog posts at the very least include pictures of the food, some include pictures of the restaurant, and some include prices and other menu info. I’ll continue to update the list as I try new restaurants.

A link to the page also has a permanent home in the upper right corner of the blog.