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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

5 Delicious New Bay Area Plant-Based Foods That Are Actually Good for You

In a recent $250-a-plate dinner called Taste of the Future, Los Angeles celebrity vegetarian chef Nicole Dursway delighted an elite group of plant-eaters in San Francisco with the next wave of planet-conscious dishes.

He started with a dollop of seaweed caviar on Smoked Carrot Lox; sips of whiskey made from molecules of flavor and aroma; and nibbles of spicy faux chicken drumette made with chickpeas. Diners dusted off the meal with milkless ash-rimmed brie; foie gras formed from the mycelium, part of the root structure of the mushroom; And honey made without beeswax.

5 Delicious New Bay Area Plant-Based Foods That Are Actually Good For You
Vegetarian chef Nicole Dursway’s carrot lox is topped with seaweed caviar at The Brixton in San Francisco. (Joseph Weaver)

What sets these foods apart from their futuristic taste, is that most are actually good for you and made in a way that doesn’t harm the planet, something that has yet to be determined when. When it comes to mainstream plant-based foods, especially alternative proteins.

That’s what brought this group together. The dinner, held at a New American lounge in The Brixton, South Beach, was part of Future Food-Tech, the annual convention for the global food-tech industry. This year, investors and startups were razor-focused on sustainability and clean, traceable content in an industry that is expected to reach $74 billion by 2025.

So, what’s cool, with content we can actually pronounce? We sampled our way through both days of the convention and pounded our nets to find new Northern California plant-based foods that checked all the boxes.

Here are five that impressed us:

5 Delicious New Bay Area Plant-Based Foods That Are Actually Good For You
San Francisco’s Sauvala offers black sheep imitation lamb in wraps and salads. (Nicola Paris)

Black Sheep Foods

San Francisco-based Black Sheep Foods specializes in plant-based heritage breed meat and wild game. Its first product, a ground “lamb” that hit the market last year, makes a juicy, flavorful kebab. Since 2019, co-founder Sunny Kumar and his food scientists have developed flavor compounds that are the first to hit your nose — like they did when we were hunters — to recreate the essence of lamb, only better.

Black Sheep’s version is less greasy, just-greasy-enough, and, when combined with savory and grilled, mimics the texture and sensory feel of a fine burger. Imitation lamb has the same amount of fat and protein as the real thing, with no environmental degradation of lamb, which ranks among the worst of all domesticated meat sources. next? duck.

description: On menus at Souvla, Etton, Oren’s Hummus Shop and other Bay Area restaurants; https://blacksheepfoods.com

5 Delicious New Bay Area Plant-Based Foods That Are Actually Good For You
The Uncreamy, San Francisco’s first vegan creamery, makes great milk cheeses from cashews and almonds. (courtesy of Uncreamy)

the uncreamy

“We can’t live like this.” Cheese lover Lisa Mayfe and her partner, Marc Charrett, a trained chef of 20 years, said they turned vegetarian when they realized they would have to stay away from Daiya for the rest of their lives. That’s when The Uncreamy, San Francisco’s first vegan creamery, was born in 2016.

Via Incubator Kitchen La Cocina, the pair create scrumptious, near-your-eyes-good artisan cheeses from nuts, refined coconut oil, and umami sources like miso and mushroom extracts. They use almonds like their Ghost Pepper Jack, and cashews for softer wheels, including an ashless rindless brie that has the dreamy look and flavor of a subtle blue-veined cheese.

Uncreamery makes five cheeses, including dill havarti, truffle brie, and a smoked Gouda that melts into a perfect grilled cheese. Someday, Myaf and Charette hope to open a vegetarian deli and cheese shop like Paso Robles’ The Vreamery, which carries their cheese.

description: At Diablo Foods in Lafayette, Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco and online at www.theuncreamery.com.

5 Delicious New Bay Area Plant-Based Foods That Are Actually Good For You
Oakland’s Taqueria La Venganza offers flavorful plant-based asadas made from tofu skin. You can also order fake meat online for nationwide delivery. (Jessica Yadgaran/Bay Area Newsgroup)

Venganza Foods

Oakland’s Raoul Medina aspires to be the impossible meat for Latin American cuisine. The chef-founders of Venganza Foods are getting closer: After serving their vegetarian tacos at Coachella and being named Best Taco in Los Angeles during the city’s “Taco Madness” competition in 2018, Medina’s is now selling its absurdly tender and delicious faux asadas Chicharrón and other Mexican meats at its plant-based carnicaria, which doubles as the home of Taqueria La Venganza.

Carnitas are made from marinated tofu skin in a smoky citrus brine, while skirt steak-mimicking asa is soy-based, and shiitake simmered in mushroom broth with beer and lemon. Both are delightfully served in blistered, hand-pressed tortillas. A WeFunder has so far raised $128,000 to bring meat to supermarkets on a large scale.

description: Taqueria La Venganza, 597 15th St., Oakland, and online, shipping nationwide, by the pound at www.venganzafoods.com

Santa Cruz, California - February 10: A Bowl Of Goodels, Cheddie Mac, Is Photographed On Friday, February 10, 2022 At Goodalls Headquarters In Santa Cruz, Calif.  (Shay Hammond/Bay Area Newsgroup)
A bowl of Goodall’s Cheddy Mac, photographed at Gooder Foods headquarters in Santa Cruz. (Shay Hammond/Bay Area Newsgroup)

good foods

Jen Zeszut and her Santa Cruz-based Gooder Foods team are on a mission to make good food for you that doesn’t taste like cardboard. Their first product, a healthy, grown-up mac and cheese called Goodalls, is great. The four flavors have silly names—the classic aged white cheddar is called Shelah Good—and serious nutrition. Each serving contains 15 grams of protein and six grams of fiber.

The Elbow-Style Mac is made from chickpeas and wheat that they grow and mix themselves and mix with ground-up super foods like broccoli and spinach. As for cheese—which is real—it took 1,000 versions to get it right: Melty, gooey, and delicious. Goodels isn’t 100 percent plant-based but still made our list for its nutrient density and clean ingredients. A vegetarian mac is in the works.

description: $2.99 ​​at Target and online at www.goodles.com.

Karan'S Jackfruit Sausage Tops A Pizza At Wildseed In San Francisco.  (Courtesy Of Karan)
Karan’s jackfruit sausage tops a pizza at Wildseed in San Francisco. Karan is located in Kitchentown in San Mateo. (courtesy of karan)


We first tasted Karan’s jackfruit-based meat products at the Future Food-Tech Happy Hour. First thought: It’s nothing like the water stuff in a can. Made from young, organic Sri Lankan jackfruit and enhanced with pea protein and canola oil, Karan’s minced product is meant to replace ground pork in everything from dumplings to meatballs. It also weathers beautifully.

At their San Mateo headquarters inside Kitchentown, the team makes carnitas-style icing from four ingredients — jackfruit, canola oil, salt and “natural flavors” — that clock in at just 91 calories per serving. Retail products including dumplings and char siu bao are coming soon. Meanwhile, A-list restaurants are already on board.

description: Wildseed, Empress by Boon and Base Camp, all on menus in San Francisco; https://eatkarana.com

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