Thursday, November 17, 2011

Girlfriends' Getaway at The Stanford Inn

Who: VN Associate Editor Jennifer Chen
What: A vacation with my girlfriends
When: November 11–13, 2011
Where: The Stanford Inn, Mendocino, CA
Why: To spend quality time with my best friends

The Scoop: Every year, my best friends, Alina Kwak and Diana Breen, and I get together for a mini-vacation. While boys are great, there is nothing like a girls' weekend away. My friend Diana has been vegan since she was 15, so I suggested we take a trip to the Stanford Inn, a beautiful and enchanting veg-friendly inn, located in the coastal town of Mendocino, CA.

We arrived on Friday and were greeted warmly by the staff. Plus, vegan chocolate chip cookies were waiting for us inside our room. (And yes, every room gets cookies every day that you stay. My kind of place!) We ate dinner at Mendocino Café, which had several vegan options. The Healing Bowl, with soba noodles, kale, and tofu in a miso broth, was my pick.

On Saturday, we started our day with a warm Vinyasa yoga class, followed by brunch. The Stanford Inn vegan breakfast, complimentary for inn guests, is not to be missed. Everything you could ever want veganized—frittatas, French toast, crêpes—is on this hard-to-pick-just-one-dish menu. I went for the mind-blowing Portobello Benedict. After that, we worked off our brunch with a two-hour canoe trip along the Big River. Then, we hit Frankie's for vegan pizza. You can build your own pie with vegan cheese and a choice of tomato sauce or pesto (all vegan). Believe it or not, the inn also hosts a daily vegan happy hour with free (!!!) dessert and tea or coffee so we hustled back to indulge.

Wild Mushroom Crêpe, filled with spinach, wild mushrooms, 
shallots, served with roasted butternut squash 
and puréed garden greens on top of poblano créme.

Saturday night, we were excited to try the special five-course wine and mushroom tasting menu at Ravens, Stanford Inn's restaurant, in celebration of Mendocino's annual Wine and Mushroom Festival. Ravens' Chef Sally Owens and Stanford Inn Co-owner Jeff Stanford took the time to explain Ravens' culinary philosophy to my friends and I. Nutritious food is key, as Jeff explained. While each dish was a standout, my hands-down favorite was the mushroom crêpe. It was light and fluffy and the mushrooms were packed with umami flavor. And don't even get me started on the puréed garden greens!

Ravens' Chef Sally Owens, the genius behind the dishes.

Sally and I discussed sharing some of Ravens' best recipes with VegNews Recipe Club subscribers. (If you're not signed up for our free weekly recipe newsletter, head to and sign up today!) I am so excited we will feature the Portobello Benedict recipe in December. It's so delicious that I might have to make it every weekend. Sally also told me that Ravens' will be releasing a brand new cookbook, so stay tuned.

If you've never been to The Stanford Inn, definitely add it to your bucket list. Companion animals are welcome, and you'll see quite a few four-legged guests in the dining room. Daily cookies, a bountiful garden, an indoor salt-water pool, and some of the best vegan eats await you.

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