Alan and I were in Ventura over the weekend. We got home kind of late on Sunday and I was in no mood to open up my computer. So I apologize that I don’t have a new recipe for Meatless Monday today. However, I’m still linking up with Tina and Deborah today because we visited one of the most popular vegan restaurants in Southern California on Saturday, so I’m sharing pictures and my review.
Mary’s Secret Garden
Mary’s Secret Garden is a tiny, funky little restaurant tucked away on Fir Street, a few blocks from downtown Ventura. With a beaded entry to the kitchen, messages printed on the ceiling, and a casual atmosphere, it almost feels like stepping back in time. The music, selections from the 60s, helped cement that impression.
We had called ahead to make a reservation, but it really wasn’t necessary. There were many open tables, though most of them filled up as the evening went on. Our server was quick and friendly, and introduced the specials briefly before she went to fill our drink orders. I had a glass of chardonnay, Alan tried the homemade ginger ale. I had to give it a taste, and I’ll say that it was different than any other ginger ale I’ve ever tasted. It actually tasted of ginger, something you rarely get notice in the canned version.
Alan and I decided to share an appetizer and an entree. Because of our almost four hour drive, lunch had been a little late, so we weren’t super hungry. For the appetizer we chose the Cheeze Trio ($15). It is served with three raw vegan nut cheeses: Macadamia Chive, Chipotle Cashew cheeze, and Curried Almond cheeze, along with cucumber, tomatoes, olives, and raw gluten free crackers.
All three were excellent. The curried cashew cheeze was deliciously flavorful, with a bite of curry, smoothed out with other seasonings. The chipotle also had a little spicy bite, and the macadamia chive (my favorite) was creamy and was probably the one that tasted the most like real cheese. The crackers were good too, and they went quickly. Our order for a second serving of the raw crackers was $4.
For our entry we chose to share the Cilantro Chycken Sandwich ($14). It came with grilled veggie chycken, chipotle cashew cheeze, cilantro pistachio pesto, avocado, red onion, grilled jalapeno peppers, and tomatoes on a whole grain bun. We chose to add the Fakin Bakin ($2). It was served with a choice of soup or salad. I selected the Coconut Broccoli Lemongrass, which was the soup of the day.
First, the soup. I love lemongrass soup, and this was no exception. It was very flavorful, with just the right amount of lemongrass. Alan, who does not care for broccoli, enjoyed the soup too, even though there were a few pieces of the vegetable in our bowl.
The sandwich was very good. The chycken had a good flavor and texture, and it was made even tastier with the chipotle cashew cheeze and pesto. It was served cut in half, so it was easy to share. It was quite large, so a half was just perfect for the two of us.
Of course, we had saved room for dessert (a bonus for sharing our entree). Mary’s has a Jumbo Cupcake du Jour ($8), and the offering that day was Chocolate Peanut Mousse. Our server suggested we try the vanilla coconut milk ice cream. I’m not sure of the price as an add on, but a serving of the ice cream alone is $8.
I loved the presentation. And both the cupcake and ice cream lived up to it. The cupcake was moist and chocolatey, and the peanut mousse was delicious and oh, so rich. The coconut milk ice cream was light and creamy, and a great complement for the cupcake.
Mary’s, as always, came through with a great, healthy meal. Yes, it is a little pricy, but all of the food is natural, organic, much of it raw and gluten free, and made on the premises. The service was friendly and the atmosphere is comfortable. Whether or not you are a vegan, Mary’s Secret Garden is a great option in Ventura.
Mary’s Secret Garden Organic Vegan Bistro
100 S. Fir St.
Ventura, CA 93001
Reservations not required but suggested
My Marvelous Weekend (the Instagram version)
Other than that, Alan and I had a marvelous weekend in Ventura. While the desert sizzled at around 107 on Sunday, we were a little chilly in the overcast, cloudy weather on the coast. Still, it was good to get home and see the pups. I’m even glad it’s Monday, which is why I’m linking up with Katie for MIMM!
We were in Ventura because Alan was announcing the Father’s Day 5k and 10k. At the last minute I decided to run the 10k. I have not really been training, just running, so I had no expectations. I though it would be a good tempo run, plus, the weather you know, how could I not enjoy that?
We stopped and bought a few things for the morning before the race, plus I bought a bottle of wine. It wasn’t until we got back to the hotel room (or rather motel..Motel 6 that is. Ah, the glamorous life of a race announcer!), that I realize that I forgot to bring a wine opener. I have a lot of these. I seem to buy them every time we travel, then forget to bring it along the next.
The race was fun. I had no real goals, but as I got going I decided I’d like to finish under an hour. It had been about 13 years since I’d run a 10k. In the last one I ran 44:04, was first woman and fourth person overall. I also won my 40-44 division (oh, and I was 44). I think four was my lucky number that year.
This year I accomplished my goal of coming in under an hour by about 45 seconds, 59:14. I was also second in my age group (the first woman in my age group was second woman overall!), and eight woman overall. Yes, it was a small race. It was also flat and cool, basically out and back on the bike path. Very well organized. Oh, and they had a great announcer too.
As part of the Father’s Day theme, there were team divisions: Father/Son, Father/Daughter, Grandfather/Grandson, and Grandfather/Granddaughter. The winners of each team division took home a cruiser bike! I passed this little cutie above on the way back. She did the whole 5k with her dad! When I passed her I gave her a thumbs up and said something like “great job!” She smiled and said “thank you very much!” Adorable.
They also gave out four cruiser bikes to random bib numbers. Sadly, I did not win.
This is Natasha, not from over the weekend but earlier last week. For those of you who have asked: She’s doing just fine. She is 17 years old (so is her “brother,” Boris). She’s in great health, but lately she has been losing a lot of weight. We found out that she is hyperthyroid, a common condition in older cats. She also has a little UT infection. She is on medication for both and is doing much better. She should start to gain some of that weight back now, though she will be on the thyroid medication for the rest of her life. Happy ending!
Whew! Got a little wordy on this one didn’t I? Well, for those of you who stuck with me I hope that you had a marvelous weekend as well. Any events, delicious food, or other fun stuff? Do please share!