The Cafe at the Cummer Museum

The Café at the Cummer located at 829 Riverside Avenue

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When was the last time you were at the Cummer Museum?

If you’ve driven by recently you probably noticed the newly renovated exterior and parking lot. Another change is the expansion of the Café (see the red umbrellas below).  After hearing nothing but great things about the new staff, the amazing patio and the expanded menu, I was excited to try it out!

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Vegan Bruschetta ($6): Balsamic perfection with baguettes from The French Pantry

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Vegan Potato Leek Watercress Soup (cup $5, bowl $7)

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Kale Salad with golden raisins, Marcona almonds, red onions and lemon thyme vinaigrette ($8)

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Trio ($10) You pick three from: Napa cabbage slaw with pumpkin seeds, fruit, orzo (sans cheese), house salad (sans cheese) or baby blue salad (sans cheese and pecans). Both of their salad dressings are vegan, the lemon thyme vinaigrette is amazing!

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Vegan and GF Quinoa stuffed Portobello mushroom with corn, black beans, guacamole and a roasted tomato sauce. Spice it up with a side of Sriracha! ($9)

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The food was delicious, fresh, and vibrant! All the soups are scratch made and change often. This a great spot for those that work downtown! Open for lunch and (on Tuesday evenings only) for Tapas Tuesdays. Admission to the museum is NOT required to dine at the Café. However, if you’d like to enjoy the art, the Cummer Museum is free to explore on Tuesdays from 4-9pm and on the first Saturday of every month.

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Completely renovated with a dozen tables outside under the canopy of a beautiful Live Oak (and another dozen tables inside as well for bad weather days).  If you are looking for a great spot to enjoy a cup of local coffee, they proudly serve Bold Bean Coffee and even offer almond milk as a non-dairy creamer (no additional up-charge).

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When you arrive, ask for Kevin to be your server! He is awesome (and has been vegan for eight years) so you’ll be in good hands when ordering and “veganizing” items.

Thank you Jennifer (and staff) for a great lunch today!

Check out Jennifer’s other page, The Chef’s Garden Catering & Events.

Thanks-Living at C.J. Acres Farm

We hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving weekend!  Here are some pictures from the Thanks-Living event earlier this month that Lee Sackett hosted at C.J. Acres.

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Sean Sigmon from Dig Foods catered the three course, cruelty free menu. All the dishes were named after rescued “residents” on the farm.

First Course: Pan and Puck’s Chopped Kale Salad w/ Handmade Green Goddess DressingDSC_0968

Second Course: 

Thomas’ Jalapeno Cornbread Stuffing Roulade w/ Lentils, Cranberries & Herbs

Baa-bee’s Apple Cider Glazed Brussels Sprout Hash

Maria’s Smashed Potatoes w/ Mushroom Gravy

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Dessert: Amanda’s Apple Pecan Tart

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There were some awesome items up for grabs on the silent auction.

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After the meal, we headed to the back of the farm to feed the pigs and visit the rest of the residents.

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The volunteers that made the Thanks-Living event possible!

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To see more pictures from the event, click here.

The Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar “Veganized!”

DSC_0407Jax Vegan Love tried out a brand new restaurant this week, The Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar at 207 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach, FL! I was joined by my good friends, Caron from Folio Weekly Bite Club, and Heather from Outside the Den. I was there to sample all things vegan, they were there to write on everything else.

Upon arrival, we had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Al Mansur, and you could see his enthusiasm of the grand opening beaming from his face.  (If the name Al sounds familiar, that’s because he owns seven Al’s Pizza locations across Jacksonville, one of which is right across the street from Flying Iguana!) He acquired the hundred year old structure earlier this year (where the old Sun Dog Diner once was), and completely converted it, at the cost of almost two million dollars.

A few days before, I had reached out to the restaurant through their Facebook page to see what vegan options they could offer.  I was assured that the chef had me covered  so I felt confident that it wouldn’t just be a lame “modified salad” kind of night. The Chef did not disappoint!

Prior to the opening of Flying Iguana, Josh Agan was the Executive Chef at bb’s in San Marco for the last three years.  Chef Josh visited our table and I gave him a high-five for the unexpected tofu “crema” sauce he prepared especially for my arrival!  The menu has items that can easily be veganized, however if you call the day before and give Josh a “vegan heads-up”, he will try to prepare homemade substitute sauces for you like he did for me.  Although it is not on the menu, he informed me that they also have tofu and even tempeh in the kitchen that they can offer if you request it.

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The cocktail menu is quite extensive at the Flying Iguana! Their website boasts “Jacksonville’s largest tequila selection” with over 100 varieties in stock. The bar juices all the citrus for their cocktails daily and also makes their sour mixes in-house too.  You can taste the quality ingredients and fresh fruit with each sip. There were so many choices but we finally settled on these three drinks:

THE FLYING IGUANA: Don Julio reposado tequila, Agavero Orange, Cointreau, agave nectar, fresh squeezed lemon, lime, and a splash of house made sour mix.

WATERMELON BLISS: A refreshing margarita made with Maestro Dobel Reposado Tequila, agave nectar, fresh watermelon, cucumber, lime, and lemon.

STRAWBERRY DREAMS: Made with fresh, muddled strawberries, basil, Beefeater Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, topped with lemon lime soda.

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First course: Guacamole & Chips – tableside demonstration ($9)

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Appetizer: Esquites – chargrilled Mexican street corn with chipotle tofu “crema” ($4)*

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Main Course: My Vegan Taco Trifecta!

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Plaintain Maduro – black beans, plantains, ginger purple cabbage slaw, tofu “crema” ($4)*

Roasted Potato – grilled corn salsa, fresh guacamole and shaved radish ($4)*

Farm to Taco – locally sources veggies simply roasted with avocado, pico de gallo and chipotle tomatillo salsa ($4)*

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Dessert: Unfortunately they do not offer any vegan deserts at this time. Below are Caron’s Stuffed Churros ($7). Although I could not share  in her churro heaven, I did admire the clever presentation and the recycled paper plate liner.

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Although the Flying Iguana had only been open one week, the service was perfect! The staff was courteous, knowledgeable and attentive and the interaction between the front of house and the kitchen was perfectly in tune.

Thank you again Jessica Thomas, Al Mansur and Chef Josh Agan for a great evening!

* Editors note: Some of these vegan items were created in anticipation of my arrival. Vegan sauces and vegan taco requests could vary from those above depending on what veggies the kitchen has prepped. Advance notice to the Chef is suggested and be sure to tell them that Jax Vegan Love sent you!

Jax Mural Project Announced!

Jax Mural Project: About Us

Jax Vegan Love has a huge announcement! After months of hard work, the Jax Mural Project launched today! The project is a collaboration between Jessica of Jax Vegan Love, Caron of Jax Truckies, and Heather of Outside the Den. Basically, we love art and wanted to create a database of the numerous local murals that can be found across Jacksonville as a way to record this sometimes fleeting art style.  We also plan to create some bike routes to encourage others to seek these pieces out themselves! Please contact us if you know of a mural or an artist not included in the project so we can add it.

There is street art all over our city! Go find it!

Please make sure to include #jaxmuralproject on any images you take!
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We had so much fun capturing hundreds of pictures! In fact, we had so many just from CoRK that it needed its own album! Here are some of my favorite images:

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

http://outsidetheden.com/jaxmuralproject/

https://www.facebook.com/JaxMuralProject

Vegan Candy Corn demo at Sweet Pete’s!

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Tonight Jax Vegan Love created homemade Vegan Candy Corn with some friends at Sweet Pete’s in Springfield! If you have never been to Sweet Pete’s then you are missing out! The owner, Peter Behringer, is actually the son of the famous local Peterbrooke Chocolatier, so candy and chocolate making runs in his family. When he opened up Sweet Pete’s a few years ago he knew there was a need for vegan and gluten free options in Jacksonville and he wanted to fill that void! You can walk into his shop and get vegan coconut haystacks, vegan chocolate cherry cordials, vegan caramels, vegan sour gummy bears and more without even having to special order it. The shop also carries a couple flavors of sorbet that are dairy free. Pete takes pride in his quality ingredients, and the proof shows in the confections he produces!

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The Vegan Candy Corn class was so much fun! Typical store bought marshmallows are not vegan friendly so Pete suggested that we bring in our own bag for our customized vegan demo.  We could tell he was a little nervous at first that the end result might not be the same as his recipe, but our Vegan Dandies (on sale at Solomon Ventures for $.50) substituted out perfectly! A combination of sugar, glucose, marshmallows, a little food coloring, science (and a whole lot of elbow grease) is all it took for us to whip up a batch of these delicious triangular treats.

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The entire store, inside and out, was decorated for Halloween!

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We really enjoyed ourselves and cannot wait to sign up for Pete’s upcoming Candy Cane Class in December!

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Thank you Pete!

Deborrah Hoag (Founder NFVS)

We are so excited to spotlight our very first JVL interviewee, our friend and fellow local veg community member, Deborrah Hoag!

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Deborrah is the original founder of the Northeast Florida Vegetarian Society (NFVS)! Founded in June 1999, Deb and her original ten members would meet at Manatee Café in St Augustine. Over the last fourteen years the group has grown drastically due to social media and now has over 750 members! The group still continues to meet at Manatee Café once a month but they also meet on the first week of each month in Jacksonville. You can find them rotating between two locations: Farah’s Pita Stop Café and Masala Indian Cuisine. If you would like to attend an upcoming NFVS Meetup, then just log on and RSVP on their page. Don’t forget to also check out the NFVS facebook page. If you want to meet Deborrah in person, you can find her at the NFVS table at the Riverside Arts Market on the first Saturday of each month.

After she played hostess at the September edition of the Northeast Florida Vegetarian Society Meetup, JVL sat down with Deborrah and asked her some questions.

Please tell us about yourself:

I’ve been active in animal/vegan/environmental advocacy for 20+ years locally, nationally, and internationally. When I served on the Jacksonville Humane Society board, I proposed the policy change toward no-kill. And the Northeast Florida Vegetarian Society had the vision for and partnered with The Girls Gone Green and Saving Animals via Education to begin the annual Northeast Florida Veg Fest tradition in 2010. In my “other” life, I am an editor, trainer, writer, and coach for UNF, FSCJ, companies/organizations, and individuals. And in my totally spare time (did I say spare?!), I sing with the Jacksonville Symphony chorus; am on the board of the Wildlife Rescue Coalition of Northeast Florida; play on the vegan trivia team, PlantStrong; travel when and wherever I can; play tennis; and share my home with a furry, “felonious”  family of found felines.

How long have you lived in Jax?

30 years.

How long have you been veg?

I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years, vegan for the last 20 years. Being completely vegan is an ongoing process that started for me when I heard PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk refer to cheese as “liquid meat.”

What’s your favorite local spot and what veg item do you order?

I love Farah’s Pita Stop Café (located at 3980-201 Southside Blvd). I’ve know the owners, Ida and Murad Farah, for years predating my veg life. Ida makes everything in house, including my favorite –  veggie grapeleaves! I also love Hovan Mediterranean Gourmet in 5 Points. Can you guess I’m partial to Mediterranean food?

Where/what was the best veg meal of your life?

My first WOW meal was at Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco. But Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park has topped my list now with Sheppard’s Pie. I’m a potato freak.

What is your favorite veg staple in your pantry/fridge?

Green olives. It’s ridiculous the things I add them to! I also can’t get enough of whatever fruit’s in season.

What is your favorite veg cookbook/chef author?

You’re asking me? The one who assembles but rarely cooks?! I suppose as gag gifts or in moments of delusion, people have given me cookbooks. I’d recommend Skinny Bitch series by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.

Favorite veg blog/website?

My favorite blog is definitely Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach by Gary Francione.

Where is your favorite veg travel destination (city, hotel, restaurant, etc)?

I’ve visited Japan over the years after working in Fukuoka (largest city on the southern island of Kyushu) in the mid-’90s. I discovered amazing and abundant varieties of tofu and veggie dishes. But a little Japanese comes in handy to make sure fish flakes/broth aren’t lurking. Yasai dake onegaishimasu (veg only please)! I’ve been encouraged how available veg options are everywhere I go – even vegan versions of bangers and mash (sausage and potatoes) in Scottish pubs!   

What veg-related food, event, etc. would you like to see more of in Jax? 

I would like to see us becoming more politically active in exposing and generating awareness for change regarding local issues related to the unethical treatment of animals in Jacksonville. Specifically circuses, rodeos, pet stores/puppy mills, and greyhound racing (Race Track Rd and in Orange Park). Not only should we be more visible in the political and legal process, but organized enough to respond to local issues when they arise. For that, we need to be more unified and motivated as an advocacy community.

 If you could be any animal, which animal would you want to be and why?

Wow, I’d love to rotate my animal experience among different habitats and existences:: inhabiting the ocean as a dolphin or soaring the skies as a raptor! I love the ‘big cats’ category, but they are carnivores, so conflict of interest there! So I’d say a gorilla or an elephant. They are great examples of powerful but peaceful herbivores with a strong community/family dynamic.

What advice would you give to those going veg?

The more we learn about animal-centered consumption – factory farming cruelty, planetary and human health consequences,  unsustainability, compelling reasons mount more than ever to go vegetarian and be vegan. Also, it’s easier than ever due to all the new veg products on the market that are becoming more mainstream and are available in regular grocery stores. However, for anyone who’s struggling on the veg path, the MentorMe program here in Jacksonville is a great resource and it is completely free! 

What advice/reason would you give business owners to convince them to be more veg friendly?

It’s good business sense for eating establishments to offer menu options accommodating various dietary needs. Then mixed groups can factor that in when they’re making dining choices. Jacksonville has a rapidly growing veg community, but many people who wouldn’t identify as veg (flexitarians?) are trying to eat healthier, and would also select these items if they were available.  Adding vegan or vegetarian items to your menu is a smart choice and will make your business stand out. Whether a business is giving in to consumer pressure or offering healthy veg options on their own, they have nothing to lose – only new customers to gain. Everybody wins!

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Deb speaking to the audience at Masala Indian Cuisine at the September NFVS Meetup.

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My plate of delicious food at Masala. The Chili Baby Corn was my favorite!

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The NFVS Meetup at Masala always features an AYCE buffet for $15 (drink included).

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Masala even offers a vegan desert at the NFVS Meetup!

Jax Vegan Drinks is now…Jax Vegan Love!

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Jax Vegan Drinks was founded in March of 2013. After only six short months JVD outgrew its original intent of bringing social events to the Jacksonville veg community. Simply put, we wanted to do more! Therefore we are proud to announce that Jax Vegan Drinks is expanding and will now be called Jax Vegan Love! Don’t worry, it will still be ran by your original founders and we will still host events as we have been, but now we will also be so much more!

Jax Vegan Love aims to be at the forefront of the Jax vegan movement; here to help influence such change, promote it, document it, and spread it throughout our city. In addition to our own events, we will continue to work with local chefs to get more veg friendly items added on menus, promote and feature local veg happenings and news, cover local veg friendly eateries & drinks, interview local chefs and business owners that are implementing veg, share yummy recipes and so much more! Please join us on our new journey as we expand and stay tuned for some great things ahead!

We’d love to hear your feedback or suggestions! Please message us on Facebook or email us at mail@jaxveganlove.com

Thank you!

Jessica & Mark

Ps. Don’t forget to use #jaxveganlove on your Instagram photos related to anything vegan in Jax!