The customer at the Wilco Farm Store in Petaluma could be heard from two aisles away, insisting that a cashier try the new nearby Magdelena’s Savories & Sweets during her lunch break.
“It’s vegetarian and vegan,” she enthused. “But you wouldn’t think so; it is so good. And the cinnamon roll, it’s so huge and delicious.
I had already made the trip to the mall at Old Redwood Highway and McDowell Boulevard specifically to visit the cafe – first stopping at the new Wilco for some barn supplies – but this made things more interesting. After all, if you can’t trust pet food store customers for plant-based meal recommendations, who can you trust? If you’ve ever heard cattle owners scrutinize hay quality down to the leaf and stalk, you know what I mean.
Magdelena’s owner, Greta Canton, has been critically analyzing her food for 36 years, after becoming a vegetarian at 16.
“In 1986, it was really a hippie thing,” she said. “I remember arguing with my mom about whether chicken broth was technically meat or not. She definitely thought it was a vegetarian item.
Canton attended Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, drawn to its Tibetan Buddhist philosophies. She read the book “A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things”, by Jason W. Moore and Raj Patel on the world’s chicken consumption.
“Something ordinary – how much we eat, how much space it takes to produce,” she said. “What we’re doing to genetically modify them to maximize the type of breast cut we want, how many chicken bones will be left on the planet in the future. Not to mention the human connection of what he’s doing to the workers of that supply chain and the pay gap to get that chicken at a low price.
Finding like-minded people made Magdelena a reality. Canton had spent the past decade with Petaluma’s Lagunitas Brewing Company, where she had befriended two early investors, Norman and Deirdre Cram. After Heineken International bought Lagunitas in 2017, the Crams let the dust settle, then offered Canton a loan from their profits.
“It was a form of stewardship,” Canton said. “They believe in a living wage and a pay-as-you-go philosophy. They believe that the loan they gave me will positively impact the whole community in the form of jobs and purchases from local suppliers. »
Cozy space, focaccia pizzas
The current economy has meant a slow start for the cafe which opened just a few weeks ago in a compact space that was once the barebones Brasil BBQ. A sign on the door reads “Thank you for being amazing and understanding”, as Canton faces understaffing and supply issues.
Magdelena’s therefore offers a limited menu for now. Decor is a work in progress, though it’s already cozy, with mint-colored sponge-painted walls, bistro tables and upholstered chairs, live plants, and farmhouse artwork.
But even on this limited menu, don’t miss the focaccia pizzas. A cross between artisan cooking and home cooking, the comforting pie is baked in baking sheets for a moist, moist crust made from Petaluma’s Central Milling Organic Flour. It’s a hearty meal – the individual pizza measures 6 inches by 9 inches, the medium measures 9 inches by 13 inches, and the large measures 13 inches by 18 inches.
The base is a homemade vegan marinara with a pleasant peppery kick and robust herbs. If you go vegetarian, the cheese mix is mozzarella, jack, parmesan, and cheddar; or go vegan with a blend of Petaluma’s Miyoko’s Creamery Cashew Milk Cheese and Coconut-Based Chao Field Roast Cheese Seasoned with Fermented Tofu (for vegan, add $2-$4).
You could get a special like the Day-Old Pie Topped with Basil and the Herbivorous Butcher Pepperoni Made with Tomato and Tapioca ($13-$24). But signings are stars for a great reason. I love the interplay of flavors of the Greek pizza, smothered in San Francisco Black Sheep Foods Shawarma Spicy Plant-Based Lamb, Almond Feta, Miyoko Mozzarella, Roasted Red Pepper, Onion red, kalamata olives and a good shot of mint ($14-$27). ).
Even more intense flavors stand out with Korean Pie, a sweet-spicy delight of shredded trumpet mushrooms slow-cooked in Korean barbecue sauce with red onion, chili peppers and cheese ($14-$27).
The Buffalo Cauliflower Blue Pizza is another winner, featuring baked seasoned cauliflower, celery, ranch sauce and blue cheese ($13-$24). Think of it as a version of the increasingly popular cauliflower wings on local menus, where the vegetable is tender and meaty on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Lemon sweet buns
“I’m a flavor freak,” Canton said. “The merrier the merrier. Being a vegetarian has made me very eclectic and I like the idea of experimenting with taste profiles.
Thus were born his savory and sweet rolls ($5.50 an individual / $30 a half-dozen). Displayed in a glass display case, the puffy, soup-bowl-sized beauties invite sweet flavors like cinnamon covered in vegan cream cheese; lemon with lemon glaze; or chocolate with espresso glaze.
The Golden cinnamon roll is particularly superb, made with Golden Mylk, a caramelized coconut milk infused with cardamom, black pepper, turmeric and coconut sugar. The finishing touch is lots of vegan, earthy Chai cream cheese on top.
There is also a “Just Egg” recipe with garlic, cheese and “Facon”; or Soyrizo with pickled jalapeno, cheese, garlic, and fresh cilantro (add $1-$6 for vegan cheese on either roll).
It’s pure, textured, spicy, vegan soy protein, Canton assured a customer who lingered at the window display and proclaimed that some chorizo products are made with salivary glands, glands lymphatics, cheeks and pork fat.
In addition to local bohemian drinks like Soul Fixx Guava Cardamom Kombucha ($4) from Healdsburg, the cafe serves beer and wine. Immerse yourself with an Old Caz Bukovany Pivo Czech Pilsner ($5) from Rohnert Park, for example, or a vegan Pacific Redwood Organic red table wine from California ($6 glass/$18 bottle).
As things get ready, Canton will unveil new items, like vegetable sausage rolls with red velvet or pesto, vegetarian rice bowls, sandwiches, salads and other daily specials, as well as a deli space filled with plant-based cheeses and meats.
“I’m not an activist for being vegetarian or vegan,” she said. “It seems like an easy choice for me given the environmental circumstances we find ourselves in. If we can eat together and help the planet heal, just a little bit in the process, then that’s something I want to do. part.. I hope others will like our food and feel the same.
Well, I’m in. When the food is this delicious, this choice is effortless.
Carey Sweet is a food and restaurant writer based in Sevastopol. Read his restaurant reviews every two weeks in The Press Democrat’s Sonoma Life. Contact her at [email protected]