Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Street Restaurant, Los Angeles

This happened back in June, 2010. Our friend Stacy works at Street, Hot Tamale Susan Feniger's latest restaurant, and we got invited for a special all-vegan multiple-course meal invented just for us. It's always a treat to have a a world renowned chef cook for you, and a complete rarity to have one cooking vegan. Street is not a vegan restaurant, but has many things on the menu that are vegan, and a vegan can have an excellent meal there, no problem. But this menu was concocted just for us!

Here's a peek at our exclusive menu with our names printed on them!

A closer peek.

These are the Mandoo Vegetable Dumplings. Ridiculously good.

The Burmese Melon Salad.

These were the hit hit of the night, Jackfruit Tostadas and Soyrizo Empanadas.

Soba & Satay, green soba noodles with Tofu satay. Yum.

Heirloom Tomatoes with black garlic vinaigrette and Thai basil.

Indian potato & Eggplant Curry. This was so good!

These weren't even on the menu, special Indian savory crepes!

The Nectarine & Strawberry Cobbler. Whoa.

These were some slightly alcoholic, sweet tamarind style drinks that were delightful.

These were called "Kajsa's and Christine's Coco Marshmallow Thing." And they were wolfed up in seconds.

The blessed party who ingested all this sweetness.
Thanks to Stacy and all the people at Street who made this such an amazing culinary evening! Vegans looking for a different place to go in LA can try this place out, and do some celebrity watching while you're there.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Seabirds Truck

If you are in Orange County and are vegan it is well worth the effort to look up the Seabirds all vegan food truck and see if your paths will cross, or better yet, make sure your paths will cross.

You can find their schedule on their WEBSITE, or via Twitter and Facebook.

It's clean and the people are friendly. As a vegan for a couple of decades now I have never really had too many chances, nor have I had much desire to eat from a food truck. But food trucks have become all the craze as of late, and I kept seeing articles about them, and started to feel like I was missing out on some interesting food. Seabirds fills that void for the vegan who wants to be included.

Deanna got two tacos. One, the Beer Battered Avocado Taco (Topped w/shredded cabbage, red onion and a creamy jalapeno sauce.) and the the other a Jerk Jackfruit Taco (Jerk seasoned jackfruit topped w/onion, cilantro and a green salsa.) She loved them! The avocado taco is amazing. "Anything fried is good." Deanna says.

I got the BBQ jackfruit sliders. What is jackfruit? The seabirds website can clue you in. (Pure Luck restaurant in LA uses this a lot too.) I have to say it tastes real good, different, but good. And it's much healthier than eating highly processed tofu, or fake meats. These are not always on the menu and it was quite a treat to get a few of these into my stomach. Deanna thinks they are very "cute."

We also got some Potato-Jackfruit Taquitos to split. These are freshly made, and basically perfect with the guacamole they come with.

Deanna is a fan of Cute food. We didn't try the Grant Burrito, or the Ashley Burrito, name yet to be decided upon, but it's their "Locals Burrito" (Potatoes, organic beans, organic brown rice, caramelized onions, guacamole and vegan sour cream.) But switch the potatoes for sweet potatoes. They may even call it the "Grashly." Named after the couple who turned us onto the truck.
UPDATE: We finally got the visit Seabirds a second time and tried the "Grashly." The verdict? Along with the stuff mentioned above, yet another tasty reason to keep going back.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Free Soul Caffe, Tustin, CA

Our friend Ashley B. pointed us to a new vegan place she went to in Tustin called Free Soul Caffe, so we went to check it out. Its a simple place, mainly soups, salads, and sandwiches, but they also have breakfast items and a well stocked dessert case filled with vegan treats. The owner, who was telling us all about the new restaurant, said that almost everything is organic and that they have great coffee. There were a lot of drink options on the menu including granita and boba style things.

Deanna got the Portobello Panini sandwich. It came with a big spinach salad with a nice dressing and candied walnuts. Simple, but very nice and fresh.

I got the Smoked Vegan Ham sandwich. My salad was a mixed greens, with olives and a light dressing. I also have no complaints. I feel like we could make this kind of food at home, but it's nice to know there is a place that will make it for me, and I can get out of the house. And also I never mind supporting a place that is dedicated to making vegan food and using organic ingredients.

Since this place deals in soups as a specialty, we wanted to get some soup as well, but they were sold out of everything but the chili. That's a good sign. So we got the chili. It came with a huge hunk of sliced bread and vegan butter. It was very good and I would like to come back and try some more soup...
...If I'm welcomed back!

Why would I say that you wonder? Well as I was shooting a photo of the menu (above), the same menu you can see online here, the waitress, a young college aged blond girl came up and said, "We don't allow photos." Deanna and I both asked, "Why?" Her answer was that people were trying to steal their recipes. (I can understand the people from Millennium worrying about getting their recipes stolen, but they are not. They publish their menu online and have a cookbook, and I have been inside taking photos on multiple occasions and never been hassled. In fact I have been all over the world taking pictures of food and menus and never been stopped once. Not in New York, Paris, or Berlin.) I wondered in my head why people would want to steal simple vegan sandwich recipes. Bread, vegan ham, vegan mayo, etc. Pretty easy to memorize I would say. Deanna said, "We do a vegan food blog and we wanted to tell people about this place and share some photos, we thought you would like the publicity for your new restaurant." She replied, "Well, no, we can't have people taking photos..." And then added, "Can you delete that." On general principle I was not erasing the photo. I said, "No way. Can you tell the owner to come over here?" The owner was apologetic, but did say that local businesses are trying to steal her recipes. We explained that we were only trying to help bring them business and are slightly offended by the accusation of recipe stealing.
So I don't know where I stand on this place now. I want to support vegan eateries, especially one so close to my house. But I can't get over the people who would hassle a customer over a paranoid idea that their recipes are worth stealing. I wish I could have screamed to the waitress, "Perspectives! This is a soup and sandwich shop in Tustin, CA!" anyway...

Here is the dessert case. The cookies were pretty good. We have yet to eat our peanut butter chocolate cheesecake and our pumpkin pecan ganache torte. I hope they are as good as they sound! UPDATE: We ate them and they are AMAZING!!!!!!
I say check it out, but beware bloggers, you may be hassled for helping them get the word out. I wonder what QuarryGirl would have done?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cinnaholic, Berkeley, CA

Guest Food Blogger Stacy Michelson.

Ever thought "I wish there was a vegan equivalent to Cinnabon cinnamon rolls?" Well, guess what? There is! And not only is it better than Cinnabon, you get to customize it, making the PERFECT cinnamon roll for your liking. I'm talking about Cinnaholic in Berkeley, Ca. It's only been open for a little over a month (and i hope it stays open for a LONG time), but it came onto our radar and became a favorite on our recent Food Tour 2010 of the SF Bay area. I can't believe Quarrygirl hasn't reviewed this place yet! I guess we beat her to it!

Cinnaholic is right across the street from the Cal Berkeley campus. It doesn't advertise to be vegan, and most of their clientele doesn't even know (or mind) that it is an all vegan establishment. We walked in and were treated to a line of free samples (if you know me, you know i LOVE free stuff) set up on the counter for us. We tried SO many flavors. They were so cool and didn't even care how many we ate too! They even had freshly baked brownies to try!

The cinnamon rolls were warm and soft and delicious. Being that this place doesn't advertise with giant signs that it's vegan, and being that the cinnamon rolls were better than good, we started to wonder.."is it too good to be true?" But then we saw a lil' vegan sticker on the glass counter. It was real! We were in vegan baked goods heaven!

The menu had so many flavors and combos to choose from. We saw some rolls in the display case that looked awesome, but a tad too sweet for me..maybe i'd do one of those for dessert! There are over 25 flavors of frosting, from butterscotch to coffee, peach to strawberry, making it hard to decide. Ed went first, cos the girls couldn't decide. He got a roll with half maple, half irish cream. YUM!

While Ed slowly sank into a sugar induced food coma outside, us girls continued to taste samples and play around with possible combos. The staff was super helpful and patient.

Deanna ended up getting her fave combo, peanut butter-banana. Lindsay got irish cream, which was SOOO delicious. And i ended up going with the flavor that reminded me of my childhood, orange. My mom used to make those Pillsbury Orange Sweet Rolls, you know those? And let me tell you, this was better than my memory of them. Look how delicious it looks (see first photo on this post)..and how BIG it is! It's half the size of my face!

I think this was the first time all four of us sat together eating and didn't say a word. We inhaled our cinnamon rolls. We were making "mmm" sounds left and right. By the time i finished taking photos, Ed was licking the bottom of the box his roll came in. This place is THAT good!

I started this tradition on the Food Tour 2010 that we'd take a group shot at every place we ate at. This is the group looking REALLY happy to have just experienced Cinnaholic. But as i write this, and talked to Deanna today about it, we are all REALLY sad this place is so far away. See you soon Cinnaholic! You should open a location in LA.


Portico, Nuoro - Sardinia, Italy

Ristorante il Portico is THE place to eat if you are vegetarian or vegan and you find yourself in Nuoro, Sardinia. In fact, if you are anywhere near Nuoro while you are on Sardinia, I suggest making the trek to eat dinner here! Of course they specialize in gourmet cuisine including fish and other meat, but the chef spent his years training in Copenhagen and Switzerland among other places, and is completely enlightened about food and the ways to make it creatively. We were so happy to walk into a restaurant and have the waiter and chef know and understand "vegan" and not laugh at us or offer us only spaghetti and tomato sauce. The waiter suggested the chef starter menu and said the chef will make it 100% vegan. We sat back and waited, wondering what would come out!

First let me introduce the people who took such great care of us. On the right is Graziano Ladu, the chef, who on top of being amazingly kind to us, also makes some of the best food we have ever consumed. And on the left, his brother Roberto who spoke great English, and was very patient with us and probably got a kick out of how excited we were about every dish that came out.

When the dishes started coming we devoured them quickly, and before we could even finish one dish, another came out...

We called it the Parade of Food, because it just kept coming and coming. Each dish unique and different, and devoid of any 'fake' veggie food such as seitan, tofu, or tempeh. Just vegetables, and prepared with tender care and with great imagination. Below is a long photo line of the dishes we ate over the week we spent at Portico.

After the first day we realized we hit the jackpot, and came back every night we were in Nuoro until they closed for Holiday, dashing our hopes of eating here for another week. Let the parade begin:

I can't even begin to describe properly what all of this is

Tempura mushrooms.

Toasted bread with artichoke puree.


Green beans rolled in Sardinian flat-bread.

This dish is called Fregola, and is a Sardinian specialty.

This was INCREDIBLE! Tempura style arugala.

What looks like a cupcake paper is really a hollowed out zucchini.

A pineapple dessert.

roasted radicchio.

Fancy napkin design for Deanna's birthday.

Birthday dinner at Portico, what a treat!

Endive in foil.

Endive revealed.

Yup, sushi.

Never dreamed we'd have vegan sushi on Sardinia.

Ending on a traditional note, Spaghetti with tomato sauce, and it was exquisite.
Check it out when you go the beautiful and wondrous island of Sardinia.