Day 1 & Taste of Eden Vegan Cafe: Norway, ME
We arrived in Portland, Maine on a Thursday afternoon. I drove from my parent’s house in upstate NY, which took about 5 hours. Ethan drove in from Boston, which was about 2 hours. Lucky!
By the time we both got there (around 2PM) we were pretty hungry so we swung by Silly’s for a quick snack before vegging out a little, and then heading over to Norway for dinner at, say it with me now, TASTE OF EDEN VEGAN CAFE!! Also known as: the very first all-vegan restaurant experience on this adventure! Weeee!!!
This was probably the most exciting day of the entire weekend. Well, the whole weekend was pretty awesome, but this my friends, THIS is the very FIRST restaurant on the entire wtf vegan food tour. So, it’s special to me and will always be remembered as the first restaurant, the first bite, the first interview of this entire freakin’ adventure. Ooooh, goodness!! Woo!
Okay, back to it …
We had absolutely no trouble finding the place. Although, when I was first planning out this portion of the trip I did have some trouble finding their information online. I ended up calling, thanks to a recommendation from Sarah, of the Meatless Mainers. And I got in touch with Sonya, who is part-owner of the restaurant. Sonya, if you’re reading this, hit me up for some social media info, lady! ;)
Anywho, where was I? Oh yes…
Run by a super kind, compassionate vegan couple (shout outs to Sonya & Mike! Hey guys!! How are ya?!), this charming cafe is absolutely worth the 40 minute drive outside of Portland. I mean, just look at that first pic. How friggin’ cute is this?!
When we walked in I immediately felt welcome. It’s incredibly inviting, cozy, and felt like I was at a relative’s for the holidays, getting ready to sit down for a big family meal. Although, if that were true there would have been a lot of awkwardness because my immediate family is kind of the ‘vegan weirdos’ of the bunch. So I guess it wasn’t exactly like that. But anyway, you get the picture. :) It was delightful.
The dining area is open with a few tables spread around. There’s a small food pantry-like area in the back, which holds a variety of literature and vegan products that you can purchase for the road.
It really is like someone’s home kitchen and dining area. I just love it so much! And wait until you hear about the food. Oh my, my!! But first, take a look:
Food Coma Ahead
Not only is the atmosphere warm, cozy, and family oriented; but the food is just as comforting.
I went with the daily special – Spinach Lasagna: made from scratch, including the soy ricotta and marinara sauce, with brown rice noodles and cashew cheese, served with salad and bread. It was everything you’d expect from traditional lasagna. Everything from the texture to the taste was incredibly delicious and satisfying (without being overly heavy, if that makes sense). It was fresh and I could really taste each layer, individually and mixed together, it was so, so good. And I believe the bread is homemade as well, which was just phenomenal, along with their homemade cashew or almond (I believe) buttery spread.
I should have taken more pictures of this one. Dang it!
I actually don’t say this very often because I believe some foods are just in categories of their own, but when we’re talkin’ comparisons of “regular” or “standard” ingredients of what you’d find in lasagna, you seriously would not be able to tell the difference. I have no doubt whatsoever that someone would not be able to tell that this is a vegan dish. The texture, the flavor, and even the presentation, it was all spot on in terms of traditional home cooked lasagna. YUM.
Ethan ordered the Veggie Pot Pie. This was another oh so good home cookin’ style dish that satisfied the senses. I only had a bite or two but seriously. So good. I don’t want to leave it at that so I’ve asked Ethan to say a few words. Enter Ethan:
OK. So upon entering and taking notice of the Specials board, it became apparent to me where this was headed. I had a feeling that Taste of Eden knew how to do a vegan pot pie. Spot on. I remember well the smell and texture of this traditional American variety of pasty fare from my days prior to switching to an all plant-based diet. The whole wheat crust , potatoes, peas, carrots and a nice addition of garbanzos were all packed together ready for some enjoyment. This meal did not let me down.
I must add that portion control is a wonderful thing to see at a restaurant. The whole wheat flour bread (made in house?) and salad didn’t put me over the fullness edge. This dish was well proportioned and left plenty of room for dessert…
Oh but we didn’t stop there. Even though we cleaned our plates and were fuller than full (okay maybe I was fuller than full, Ethan was apparent comfortably full ;), we asked Sonya if there was a dessert that we MUST try. Without hesitation she said, “how about the lemon pie.” The what? A lemon pie? Like, lemon meringue pie?
Lordy am I glad we said yes! It. Was. So. Good. We split a piece because, well we were fuller than full, remember. But you’d have no idea that only moments earlier we were contemplating ordering dessert at all, because in a matter of minutes, honey that pie was gone!
The flavor was perfect. Just lemony enough. And the lemon was delicate and perfectly complimented the audaciously flaky, crumbly crust. It wasn’t too sweet or heavy in any way. Just. Delicious. And the dollop of cashew cream on top was heaven.
Check this bad boy out:
Not only do Sonya and Mike offer these tasty meals for those stopping in, they cater (woo!), but they’ve also spent years working with people who come to them for help with health complications such as diabetes, hypertension and elevated cholesterol. More often than not, the help is free too!
But I think they can tell you best so, without further ado, here is our interview with the owners of Taste of Eden Vegan Cafe.
238 Main St.
Norway, Maine 04268
P: (207) 739-6090
— — —
Interview With Sonya & Mike
I’m going to blame this on early jitters and first-time inexperience, but guys … I totally messed up. We had an awesome fifteen minute conversation with Sonya and Mike about their restaurant and all the work they do to help people suffering from diseases, the results, and everything. It was recorded and safely stored on my iphone. Until I tried to email it to myself only to erase HALF of what we recorded. SO! The first half that I managed to save is here, for you to listen to or to read (transcribed below). The other half, I’m going to try and recall for you after the transcribed section. I’m sorry guys, this won’t happen again (scolding self)!
[audio:http://wtfveganfood.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/tasteofeden.mp3|titles=Interview at Taste of Eden Vegan Cafe]
Kristin: [0:00:04.4] Can you tell me a bit about the restaurant and how it was started?
Sonya: [0:00:08.0] OK. We started The Taste of Eden in 2002. It was my husband and I. We
weren’t married at that time.
I met him when he was working at a different vegan operation. We both had the dream of
opening our own restaurant. Then we did. We started out in Bethel, Maine.
Kristin: [0:00:43.0] How far away is that?
Sonya: [0:00:45.3] It’s about a half hour away. Then we moved here about three years ago. All
of our foods are whole foods. We don’t use refined products at all. It’s 100% vegan.
We try to help people learn about healthy living. We have many people with degenerative
diseases that come in.
We often help them with recipes. We’ve seen people completely recover from diabetes,
rheumatoid and heart disease.
Kristin: [0:01:31.9] That’s nice. Is that something that you offer on the side?
Sonya: [0:01:38.7] Yes, we do teach cooking classes. We don’t have any on schedule at this
time. We usually do them a couple of times a year. I don’t know what else to tell you.
Kristin: [0:01:52.7] You’re both vegan?
Sonya: [0:01:54.5] We are both vegan.
Kristin: [0:01:55.9] How long have you been vegan?
Sonya: [0:01:57.2] I have been vegan for about 16 years and my husband for about 13 years.
I’ve never had meat at all in my life.
Kristin: [0:02:06.5] OK, wow. That’s impressive. You grew up in a vegetarian home?
Sonya: [0:02:12.1] Yes. My great-grandparents had a dairy farm. We used dairy products. I
volunteered to work on the farm one summer when I was nine.
I learned how to milk the cows. That’s when I was grossed out about dairy products. I couldn’t
milk at that time. I still used eggs until I was a teenager.
Kristin: [0:02:47.0] What is the future of Eden? Do you think you’ll expand or have another
Sonya: [0:02:56.1] I don’t know. I think we’d like to get more involved with the educational part
of it. We’d like to do something that makes more people who are not vegan aware of the health
Kristin: [0:03:15.4] Do you find that you get a certain type of crowd in here? Is it usually vegans
that seek out your restaurant? Do you get other people who walk in and want to try?
Sonya: [0:03:24.3] We get many out-of-town vegans. As far as the local population, they are
into eating organic and local. They’re not necessarily vegetarian.
Kristin: [0:03:37.0] That’s cool that they come in and they’re open to trying it. That’s nice. Do
you have any questions?
Ethan: [0:03:47.9] You said that you’ve helped people with their diabetes and rheumatoid
arthritis. You were raised in a vegetarian household. Then you became vegan over time through
your own exposure to certain practices.
How long have you been aware of the healing aspects of a plant-based diet? Did you become
aware after you became vegan?
Sonya: [0:04:16.9] As an early teen on a vegetarian dairy diet and a lot of junk food, I was
quite overweight. I had an old book called Counsels on Diet and Foods. This is on the Christian
It’s all about what you’re eating. It was such old information that it intrigued me. I said, “I could
use a diet because I’m overweight.” In reading that I learned a lot that didn’t mention today’s
It was the same kind of thing. I went off all the animal products completely and felt so much
better. I wanted to learn more. As a teenager I studied and learned from regular books. This is
my husband, Michael.
Ethan: [0:05:18.6] Hi, I’m Ethan.
Kristin: [0:05:18.6] Hi, I’m Kristin. It’s nice to meet you.
Michael: [0:05:24.2] Hi, Kristin and Ethan.
Kristin: [0:05:29.8] We have a vegan travel blog. We thought it would be fun to stop in and ask
a few questions about the restaurant.
Michael: [0:05:36.9] Sure.
Kristin: [0:05:39.5] This is my first stop on the way. It will be good.
Michael: [0:05:43.4] Yes. Where are you from?
Kristin: [0:05:45.1] I’m from upstate New York.
Ethan: [0:05:48.9] I’m from Boston.
Michael: [0:05:49.9] Do you know the Country Life Restaurant? It used to be downtown on High
Ethan: [0:05:57.0] No, I don’t.
Sonya: [0:05:59.3] They’ve been gone for so many years.
OKAY, WE’LL TRY TO FILL IN THE REST…
Ethan and Michael go on to talk about a vegan restaurant that used to be in Boston before the Big Dig. We then start talking about the work that Sonya and Michael do to help others who come to them for help with diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. They often offer meals and consults free of charge.
Michael shared a story about a man who, by switching to a plant-based, whole foods diet, completely cured himself of diabetes. Another man who was struggling with cancer, expected to only live a few years, extended his stay with us on Earth to the surprise of many by converting to a plant-based diet. A sadder anecdote was the tale of a man who came in for help and succeeded at losing weight and ridding himself of his cardiovascular complications. Years later, however, the man reverted to a meat-centric omnivorous diet only to usher the return of his heart disease, fall prey to a heart attack and die.
This led us to a discussion of how when someone comes to plant-based eating, the reasons vary. People arrive at different times in their lives. Some for religious purposes, others for health, animal rights or ecological reasons. Some for all of the above. No matter the reason, the choice is yours!
Why did you become vegan? We’d love for you to share your thoughts below! :)