Top Of South Florida, My First WTFVeganFood Public Talk, + Manatees Caught On Film!
Following Miami I actually ended up backtracking UP the state in order to attend a previously scheduled speaking engagement, given by yours truly. That’s right, my very first public talk on behalf of Will Travel For Vegan Food. But, I’ll get to that in a minute. In the meantime let me tell you about two wonderful restaurants I stopped at on my way back up – both of which were closed the weekend I passed through these towns, on my pass DOWN to Miami.
Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin – 100% vegan
73 NE 167th St
North Miami Beach, FL 33160
I totally fell for this joint after stopping in -it’s now within the top five restaurants of Florida, for sure! I actually met **the** Hakin himself! He was working that day and brought over some of my food, introduced himself, and asked about what brought me to his restaurant. We ended up chatting for quite some time. He’s so pleasant!! The energy in the place is totally calming too.
Hakin told me that the store and restaurant are totally, completely, 100% vegan – nothing in the place has touched meat or dairy. Ever. All of the decorations were picked from yard sales and the like, all recycled and/or reused. Among his talk of reusing items he said, “We are treasure not trash.” So true. He went on to talk about how he values “old” pieces of furniture. The restaurant is made up of all kinds of things that were once considered trash to someone else, but now serve as treasures to those who work and dine at Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin.
Below is the Garden Veggie Soup. It may not look like much but honey, this soup is OUTSTANDING! Just the right amount of salt, textured veggies, and a perfectly blended creaminess that took me by surprise and left me satisfied.
This beauty is Hakin’s breakfast empenada. I was fortunate to try one as they usually only have breakfast items on Sundays. According to Hakin, his restaurant hosts huge Sunday brunches that attract hungry veg and non-veg folk by the droves. This little pocket of breakfasty goodness was fantastic!
For my main course I had the Curry Special with bulgar rice, lentils, and vegan salmon. I’ve always had a hard time with faux seafood (as in, I don’t like it) but Hakin has got this one nailed down. It was delicious. And I never would have thought of pairing it with beans and rice but I gotta say, it was mighty good.
Finally, the star of the show (what’s new, right?! ;) Hakin’s Red Velvet Cake! Wow, wow, wow!!!!!! My notes remind me that it is, “drakinf awesome!” I’m guessing autocorrect invented a random word to mask the profanity that extended from my fingertips. Ha! But in all seriousness, this is by far one of the best slices of cake I’ve ever a) laid my eyes on, and b) tasted. It was rich, sugary, and sweet. The cream layers between each cakey segment was “fixking” (oh you, autocorrect) crazy delicious. What’s more, it was light as a feather. I could’ve eaten the entire cake. Good thing I got this one to-go!
After I came down from my high on Hakin’s incredible vegan eats, I headed to Green Wave Cafe in Plantation for dinner. This first pic is actually of my attempt to stop in on my way down to Miami. They were closed and I was worried I’d miss them all together. So I snapped a pic, just in case.
Green Wave Cafe – 100% raw, organic, and vegan
5221 West Broward Blvd.
Plantation, FL 33317
Definitely one of the most unique burgers I’ve had, this entirely raw cheese burger delight is made up of a raw vegan patty with cheesy cream sauce, almond bread, lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, and sprouts. It also happens to be one of their most popular menu items. In particular, I’m a huge fan of the green onion salad dressing. So light and snap, crackin’ with flavor. I want that on everything I eat, from this day forward. ;)
For dessert I indulged in a big slice of Green Wave’s Blueberry Cheesecake, made up of cashews, walnuts, dates, and coconut base.
My First Public Speaking Engagement
As I mentioned earlier in the post, I drove up from Miami through North Miami Beach and Plantation until I found myself standing in front of a small group of veg folk in Brevard County. :)
This all began when I received a lovely email from Kim Smith, a couple months prior, inviting me to talk to local veg group, The Healthy Planet of Brevard. I was more than excited and a little nervous but decided to go ahead, completely unscripted, winging-it-style. I ended up talking a bit about my background in going vegan or “waking up” as Honey LaBronx would say, as well as how the trip came about, how it was going, and where it was headed.
I think it went over pretty well and was excited to learn that I had stood and talked in the exact same spot as vegan power house speakers, the likes of which includ Howard Lyman (this guy gave me chills when I first saw him talk. He’s brilliant) and George Eisman (this guy is the reason I finally chose vegan). Sooo cool!!!! I aspire to give talks like these guys, and I have a few lady inspirations too, like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and Kris Carr. Love, love, love.
I met some really cool people, including Mike and Catrall, a super cool couple who have done their fair share of vegan foodie travel. They run a travel website too called Cooney World Adventures, and their kids do all kinds of travel and animal welfare work as well. Very cool!
Unfortunately I didn’t get any pics of the event but for those of you who attended, if you have any pics could you send ’em my way? I’d love to add them to this post! :)
Kim, the woman who invited me to talk, also offered overnight accommodations in a super cool home that she shares with her partner, Rich. Talk about a cool, compassionate vegan couple! These two were so much fun to hang out with!! After the talk a group of us went out to dinner and then Kim and Rich brought me to their newly purchased home and property in Merritt Island, Florida. I miiiiigggghhhht have mentioned – during my talk – that I had been on the lookout to see wild manatees in-person. As it turns out, Kim and Rich’s new property sits alongside a waterway that is home to several manatees. They had only heard about the manatees that hung out next to their home but had never tried to grab a good view. But with my enthusiasm onboard we set out to look for some.
Within only a few seconds of standing on their boat dock I saw a manatee tail meander by. I ALMOST LOST IT. Haha!! And I honestly thought that’s all I’d get to see so I was just thrilled, and that’s why this happened:
While I was squee’ing over the tail some folks across the way, who were settled into lawn chairs watching me go nuts, shouted over, “They love fresh water. If you spray a hose into the water they’ll come over to you.” Without hesitation Rich hooked up the hose and began to fan it over the water. Within a few seconds this happened:
IT WAS SO FRIGGIN’ COOL!!! My excitement over this experience can hardly be expressed in words. And the way the pieces all came together so effortlessly… just incredible. I get to Florida, I seek out manatees, and happen to meet the perfect people to make it happent. ::happy sigh:: This was absolutely one of the coolest experiences of the trip so far. ::giggles uncontrollably::
Here are a few stills from that evening:
Click here to see more manatee pictures.
Following the manatee overload Kim and Rich took me out for drinks and dancing at a local outdoor bar. I had such a wonderful time!! Between this and stumbling upon sea turtles laying eggs (just a few weeks prior) I was a very, very, very happy lady.
Thanks so much to Kim, Rich, and the members of The Healthy Planet of Brevard for showing me such a wonderful time!!
Next up is Key West, y’all!!!!!!!!! xoxo