JUNE 11, 2009 11:00 PM

La Crave Entrance
Escape to the Mediterranean on 28th Street just off the East Beltline.
The Kentwood commerce district just got a lot more vegan friendly, thanks to La Crave Cafe & Grill--a glittering gem of a restaurant that offers fresh, beautiful, healthful, delicious, and reasonably-priced Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine in a fun, ambient, hospitable setting. Their ample menu, while brimming with all the traditional omnivorous fare, nonetheless offers vegans an enormous variety of options, including up to six appetizers, five salads, two soups, several main courses and lunch specials, an extravagant vegan mezze combo for two, a variety of fresh juices and smoothies (note that some include honey), and an exotic selection of Middle Eastern coolers.
La Crave Party Booth
Dining on the Terrace
The decor at La Crave is nothing short of flamboyant, environing its guests in dramatic--even whimsical--murals of Mediterranean vistas accented with paintings hung in ornate golden frames. Particularly imaginative visitors might even fancy themselves dining on the set of Verdi's Otello. Famagusta is not Beirut, of course, but there is something very "opera" about the setting at La Crave; it's great fun, really. When you're there--and I do mean *when* and not *if* (and preferably sooner to later)--don't miss the opportunity to meet owner Sam Ayyad and manager Lynn Vitanovski, both of whom are extremely gracious and devoted to learning more about what their guests want to see at La Crave. You can read about them (as well as about several of the scrumptious offerings on their vegan mezze platter) in their Grand Rapids Press Review.
La Crave Jallab
So what's good there, you ask?
The omnivorous critics seem to agree: just about everything! But what about the vegans? We started with a sweet, refreshing iced beverage called Jallab--a rich elixir of dates, grape molasses, and rosewater with a flotilla of pine nuts patrolling the rim. We moved on to a battery of fantastic appetizers--hommous, fattuch, baba ghanouge, tabbouli, grape leaves, and vegetarian kibbe--before wrapping it up with an an assortment of lovely, lightly grilled pita sandwiches and a generously portioned falafel lunch plate special. Everything we ordered was delicious and gorgeously presented. We've got the photos to prove it:
La Crave Hommous
La Crave Fattuch
La Crave Baba Ghanouge
Baba Ghanouge
La Crave Tabbouli
La Crave Vegetarian Grape Leaves
Vegetarian Grape Leaves
La Crave Vegetarian Kibbe
Vegetarian Kibbe
La Crave Falafel Sandwich
Falafel Sandwich
La Crave Falafel Lunch Special
Falafel Lunch Special with Almond Rice
All in all, we had six seasoned aficionados of Mediterranean food in our party, and all concurred that La Crave serves up the very best we've tasted in town (several former Chicagoans in the crowd even compared it favorably to the Windy City's famous Sultan's Market). Blaze a trail to 2923 28th Street SE at your earliest convenience; if your experience is anything like ours, it will quickly become a beaten track!

JUNE 8, 2009 8:51 AM

Watch CBS Videos Online
Unlikely buddies Tarra and Bella are back by popular demand!
Loyal extraVEGANzers will no doubt recall the uplifting story of Tarra the Asian elephant, her best dog Bella, and their eyebrow raising camaraderie at The Elephant Sanctuary outside Nashville, Tennessee. Three cheers for sanctuary founders Carol Buckley and Scott Blais who had the moral courage to tell Disney where to stick it when they came calling with a plot to pull this retired circus elephant back into the entertainment business. Even so, Tarra and Bella have gotten their fair share of facetime with the stars (e.g., Oprah), if always on their own terms at their home turf in Tennessee. If you like what you see, please consider becoming a member of the Sanctuary or sponsoring an elephant.

NOTE: Apologies for the fact that getting to the video may require you to sit through an excruciatingly annoying advert for a brand of rum that I will leave unmentioned; I will, however, take a moment to recommend their far superior competitor Mount Gay Rum just to spite them.

JUNE 4, 2009 2:49 PM

Meat: "The Slavery of Our Day"
Jim Motavalli of Foreign Policy is the latest pundit to predict the imminent demise of meat-culture in a piece titled The Coming Vegetarian Revolution. I'll believe it when I see it, but I have to admit that even the increasing frequency of the prediction is heartening.

JUNE 4, 2009 12:17 PM

The year is 2109. The menu? 100% Vegan
We've all heard of Meatless Mondays, but this recent blogpost by health and wellness expert Kathy Freston invites us to imagine a meatless future, full-stop. The blogpost is an imagined dialogue between a 22nd century history teacher and her students, the latter of whom are positively incredulous that human beings ever used animals for food. Dare we dream!

JUNE 4, 2009 12:00 PM

Now Playing on a Computer Near You: The Distinguished Speakers of WW09!
Whether you're bummed that you had to miss this year's Wake Up Weekend events, or thrilled at the prospect of re-living them, your ship has come in thanks to the hard work of the Calvin Video Network, which recently posted nicely edited footage of virtually the entire 2009 program to Vimeo.

Nekeisha Alexis-Baker

Wake Up Weekend - Nekeisha Alexis-Baker from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Harold Brown

Wake Up Weekend - Harold Brown from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Ben DeVries

Wake Up Weekend - Ben DeVries Part 1 of 2 from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Adam Durand

Wake Up Weekend - Adam Durand from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Bee Friedlander

Wake Up Weekend - Bee Friedlander from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Michelle Loyd-Paige

Wake Up Weekend - Michelle Loyd-Paige from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Nathan Runkle

Wake Up Weekend - Nathan Runkle from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

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