I love the downtown area in St. Augustine, Florida. It’s a teeny tiny cozy town known as the oldest permanent European settlement in North America. Whatever that means, I know it as the oldest city in the US. It’s filled with history dating back to the 1500’s. There you can explore a castle, lots of museums, historic homes, and enjoy the wonderful beach. The narrow streets are lined with old school brick pavers and there is even a fountain of youth. If you have never been to St. Augustine, it is worth a visit or more. There is plenty of sightseeing, interesting shopping and great restaurants.
What NOT to do in St. Augustine
Whatever you do, skip the ghost tours unless you have little kids. They suck terribly and there is nothing ghostly about them – except for the scary driver. My friends and I were assuming the tour would take us inside the old “haunted” buildings, but much to our surprise, the tour consisted of riding around in a hearse to a few locations. Once at the location, the driver congregates everyone in front of the building and proceeds to tell you a lame and unlikely story. How boring, we didn’t even get to go inside. It was not worth the $25 we paid.
On to my findings
This past December I went up to Palm Coast to see my family for the holidays. My sister had to work and I was a little bored hanging out at my grandparents, so I looked up vegetarian restaurants nearby and found The Present Moment Café – an organic and plant based restaurant located a half hour from where I was. It had good reviews so I decided to give it a try. I try not to have any expectations when I don’t know the place, but do keep an open mind and a good appetite.
The first thing that caught my eyes was the Universe Drink. Again, I had no expectations but this drink blew my mind. It had a velvety, creamy, and smooth texture with the perfect balance of chocolate taste. It really was delicious. I am not easy to please when it comes to chocolate, but I really cannot stop raving about it. I have tried to imitate it at home though I am not quite there yet.
Up next is the Kale Salad made with avocado dressing and lemon. I have never had avocado dressing so this was a tasty surprise. The candied pecans added a nice contrast to the tangy dressing, though I wish the pieces were bigger because I felt like I had to fish for each little piece. The greens and veggies were fresh and crisp with no wilted ingredients; you could tell it was handmade made to order from fresh produce.
For my main dish I ordered the trio dinner sampler. I had asked for the lunch sampler, though they gave me the dinner one, but it’s ok because they gave me the Pad Thai, which I enjoyed every second of every bite. I can’t get over how good this Pad Thai was. It’s a raw dish served lukewarm made with kelp noodles, lots of veggies and a sesame sauce that was heaven in my mouth; truly a light tasting delight, and I loved that it was served warm or at least room temperature. The next dish in my trio sampler was the Pesto Pasta. Beautiful zucchini noodles, long enough to put regular pasta noodles to shame, tossed in a creamy, basil-y, pesto sauce and topped with pine nut “parmesan”. The last dish I tried was the raw Tacos of Life served in a romaine lettuce shell with a homemade walnut faux meat and amazing sour cream made from coconut. A tasty taco dish and a little messy to eat.
For dessert I ordered the Chocolate Marble Torte with Drunken Banana. Oh yeah, chocoholics dream here. I was expecting to get a torte or cake but then I remembered that this is raw food and, duh, you can’t really make a raw dessert using flour (I think). I gambled on this one because I was skeptical of the chili and spice that turned out to be very subtle – I almost didn’t taste the chili, which for me is good since I don’t care for chili in my dessert. The drunken bananas had real liquor in them and I loved them. Not because I was buzzed, they just added a different, yet welcomed, effect to the dessert. Though a little grainy, the torte was chocolatey with a good firm texture as long as you ate it before it reached room temperature or it would start to melt.
Overall, I really enjoyed this place. I am really picky about food and was happy this meal was a success. I came out of the restaurant feeling satisfied (with lots of leftovers) but without that heavy feeling. Also, since it was a meal made with real whole foods, it kept me satisfied for a long time. The ingredients were fresh and the food was well seasoned and freshly made to order. The flavors mixed together very well. I am so happy there is a place such as this one really close to my grandparents’ house.