Thursday, July 28, 2011

Boba House, a find in Greensboro, NC

Boba House is a very pleasant double storefront restaurant in Greensboro.  Not all of the food is vegan but all food is marked that can be made vegan.  I think most of the items are but just to make sure you discuss with your server they put a "v" next to almost everything.  It's a good idea to make sure you don't have eggs or such in your food.  Our first waiter was a little less knowledgable than our second waitress, although both were very nice as were all the staff, not that we replaced one with the other but internal staff discussions apparently led to the staff swap so we ended up with our very own vegan waitress.

Since everything I ordered is vegan I'm just going to use the "mock" names.  We started out with the shrimp and the fried Spring Rolls.

A very appetizing plate but the items themselves were a bit less so.
I thought the shrimp were a little rubbery and gelatinous.  The first piece had a bit of hard and crunchy areas but others were fine.   So to speak.  Served with a light vinaigrette.

Spring Rolls
Spring rolls had a nice crunch on the outside and a good flavor. Insides were a bit soft but really the problem was they weren't heated all the way thought.  This tasted very much like pre-made commercial fare.  I can't see why a kitchen wouldn't prepare something like spring rolls from scratch.  I was so disappointed in the starters that I wasn't looking forward to the entree.

Thick dough, crispy on the outside and still cool on the inside.
Crispy Spring Rolls (2)
Filled with taro, carrots, wood-ear mushrooms, green onions, and cellophane noodles. Served with lettuce, fresh herbs, and our delicious homemade sauce.

Boy was I wrong.  These were two of the most delicious entrees I've had.  The fish dish was amazingly close to tasting like the sea.  It pushed the border of "fishy" but didn't cross it, in a delicious sweet savory spicy brown sauce with garlic and ginger pieces.  The asparagus were perfectly cooked and I made the mistake of forgetting to get brown instead of white rice but it was as fluffy and light as white rice ever can be.

Blackened "Tuna"
Filets of "tuna" coated with dry spices and seared, and then simmered in a medium-spicy sauce. 

The texture of the fish was like a meaty fish and the seaweed "skin" added a taste of the sea saltiness.

The next dish I ordered was the Hula Pot.  I asked for it just shy of brain damaged and it was so deliciously hot yet the levels of flavor came through wonderfully.  It is served in what I can only describe as in two parts.  There is a bowl of broth and veggies and "duck" and a separate plate of noodles and assorted other accoutrements.  I, of course having no self control, just dumped it all in since there was nothing on the ingredient plate that I didn't care for.

This had a curry, spicy, lemony, earthy flavor and I was glad the "to go" container was relatively waterproof as it only got better in the next 2 days as a leftover meal.

Hula Pot
A sweet, aromatic curry served with rice or noodle, and your choice of vegetable, tofu, or "duck" made mild, spicy, or brain damage! 

The parts of the puzzle.

All mixed together, mock duck to the left.

Fried rice. 
The dessert did me in.  It was a cake sandwich with amazingly soft and light filling.  I didn't see it on the menu but this was a chocolaty chocolate oreo kind of thing that in an instant ruins all the healthy goodness that you try so hard to put into your body.  If I could get this locally I swear I'd be a contestant on "The Biggest Loser" it was that good.

This certainly looks home made and not mass produced.

As good as it looks it tasted even better.

Boba House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The All American Burger from, "The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet" by Joni Marie Newman, on Rudi's 7 Grain with flax.

Sautéed in canola oil spray in a non-stick fry pan each side coated with Spike, Adobe, pepper and garlic powder, lightly salted.  While first side cooked, seasoned second side.  Then after I flipped it, covered with Daiya and after 2 minutes water added, pan covered and Daiya steam melted. Bread lightly toasted and topped with spinach/mixed greens.

Fresh sweet corn boiled for 2 minutes and lightly covered with Earth Balance and lightly salted.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gracias Madre, Not your vegan by omission Mexican in San Francisco

On one of my overnights in San Jose I had the opportunity to head into San Francisco and meet up with a fellow blogger, Jenn from TGWB.  This meeting happened a few months ago and as sometimes happens, things sit in my queue.  And sit.  And sit.  Sometimes blogs just sit for awhile.  And sit.  Oh yes, you know what's next ... and sit.

Jenn just put up an excellent post about our lunch, (but it was horchatas!), on her blog, Live Green Wear Black and rather than repost the entire lunch experience, click here and read her words.  Here are the pics though!
Almost empty restaurant.  Good=no waiting.  Bad=longevity of a place serving great food.

First meeting of the Bi-Coastal Vegan Bloggers Association.  Now it's tax deductible.  

"Shine a light on me."

Empanada del dia in a mole sauce with plantain filling.  Very sweet but nice heat from the mole.

Gordita with mashed potatoes, grilled crispy on each side with cashew cream, avocado, green onions and lettuce.
More Gordita.  Actually a picture of less Gordita.

Sweet Potato Quesadilla

The inner workings of a perfect quesadilla.

I haven't had many (any) Horchatas in my life but they were the only thing on the bill that might have been on the high side.  It was definitely large and at $8 a piece probably could be shared with whoever you're having lunch with.  All in all a very reasonable lunch tab.

I just keep thinking Bullitt is going to come screaming down the street any second.

It's the kind of place you have to be looking for.  No big signs saying "Vegan" or anything else for that matter.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


We ate at the Pepper Tree and it was an excellent choice.  Review in the works.

Sometimes I wish I had all the time in the world to eat my way through a city but I look forward to heading back to Houston one of these days.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a good vegan restaurant in Houston.  Heading out to dinner in a few hours.  Thanks.  Marty

Monday, July 11, 2011

When Dad comes home

This is a pretty easy and quick post.  My 11 year old daughter obviously misses her dad and the other day when I walked in there were about 2 dozen chocolate cupcakes waiting for me.  Not just any kind of chocolate cupcakes mind you but VEGAN BEER chocolate cupcakes.  When I was in college I had a lot of help putting on those "college 15" (or was it 20?) from beer MILKSHAKES.  Yes, I know how it sounds but they were wonderous.  These reminded me of that favorite drink of long ago but these of course were made with a touch of love as a secret ingredient.

The next day she was heading off to camp and wanted to do something special for me.  I was to pick out a few recipes and shop for the ingredients and she would do the baking.  And she did.  Everything from working with the stand mixer and food processor to baking, cutting the top off and putting the frosting on.  I did help her cut the tip off of a plastic bag to make the piping bag but she did everything.  Here are the pics and result.  The cake was rich and moist.  She said she picked up a bit of the avocado taste in the frosting but I couldn't tell at all.


Frivolity.  Notice the typical NY City cluttered apartment.

Not bad at all for a first cake decorating attempt!

The honor of the first slice goes to ... the chef of course!

Dog apparently is not interested in cake.

Minty and chocolaty.  Needs no words.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Feeling Good About Nothing

I'm sorry if this upsets some people but I don't think I'm jumping up and down about the new Federal law proposal regarding egg laying chickens.  I'm all for giving animals more humane treatment.  That's why I don't eat them.  I don't eat chickens or their eggs.  I figure that by being vegan, the chickens I haven't eaten over the last 18 years weren't killed.  I hope that my singular lack of demand for them for my Bar-B-Que and oven has cause them to not even have been born.  I hope the chicken industry has seen a drop from 30,000,000,000 (that's 30 BILLION) chickens born, bred, and killed to 29,999,999,948 each year, just ballparking that I used to eat at least one chicken a week.

Here are some thoughts I have.

Any effort not put into veganism is ultimately going to result in the death of animals. We saw this with so called, "Free Range" animals. Conditions are not much better for the animals and people now eat "guilt free" eggs. When chickens no longer meet production levels what is going to happen to them?  Are they going to chicken shelters?  Will they be adopted as pets?  Uh, no, they're slaughtered.

All this legislation is just a bargaining chip.  I'm guessing the egg companies would have made these changes anyway as it's actually much more financially feasible for them to do away with these practices in the long term. The same thing happened with gestation crates for sows. The industry actually found that it's more profitable when the animals aren't as stressed and would have done away with them anyway. It seems that the animal "rights" folks won a great victory when the pork industry agreed to phase them out but in reality, nothing was "won" except people can now eat pork without the guilt, (if they had any before).  It just seems that the people campaigning for better treatment of animals actually won something.

I didn't see anyone mention a time table for the cage sizes to be changed.  Meanwhile, the misery continues.  If you really care about the chickens, just stop eating them.  (Shhh, little secret here.  They'll probably be much more grateful for that then anything this law might provide).  If you really care about chickens stop eating their eggs.  It's an easy and short leap.  If you care about animals, stop eating them, their offspring, and their secretions.

If people aren't vegan they should go vegan.
If they're already vegan they should try and convince others it's the right thing to do.

To me this is like campaigning for concentration camp prisoners to have better mattresses and a fan installed in their barracks so they'll be more comfortable before they're led to the gas chambers instead of campaigning to eliminate the killing.

This is a more difficult concept for welfarists to see but it does nothing to end the slaughter of the billions. To me it's a red herring.

Here's a link to the story in Huff Post

Increasing the 48 to 67 square inches per hen works out, if my math is right, from about a 7 by 7 to a 8 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch space.  That's humane?  Take out a ruler and look at what size a full grown chicken is expected to live in.  

I don't think this legislation will ever pass.  Not in it's current form.  I'm betting the egg producers will agree to make some changes and the bills will be watered down or not passed because of the promise to "self regulate."  Where have we seen this before?  

Just my $.02 of course

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Alternative Bakery offers vegan options in an Alternative Universe, Rosendale, NY

I started looking for vegan places during the drive up to Vermont for the wedding weekend.  I wanted a place not too far of a detour and between the car's navigation, my TomTom and two iPhones came up with The Alternative Bakery in Rosendale, NY.  I had never heard of Rosendale but it was near New Palz and Kingston, (their former home actually), and after twisting my brothers arm nearly halfway off we left the comforting boredom of the NY Thurway and followed a slow truck down country roads for half an hour, driving right by the bakery and slide into the empty parking lot of a place with a big "vegetarian" on their sign.  We found the Rosendale Cafe, which was closed and thinking it was some tear in the space time continuum, thought it was the bakery in a new location with a new name.  Being the determined explorer I ventured down the, (it's really the only word for it), quaint main street and came upon the prize.

Yes, my daughter is the prize but look behind her!

Daughter, dawg, and breakfast.

This is what a perfect bakery should look like.  No commercial operations, not humm of machinery, but two guys working at making good things.  There were non vegan options and heavy egg centric breakfast items also but there were vegan cupcakes, muffins, breads, foccacias, and cakes.   

Brother and niece finally make it on the blog.  Notice the layers of foccacias on display on the top of the counter.
 I was starving so went with the vegan chocolate cupcake.  It was also gluten free and I'm not a great big fan of the grainier consistency of non wheat flours but this had a rich chocolate flavor.  The center was still frozen but that really didn't detract from it.  They took it back and put it in the oven and heated it up. It was good warm, it was good frozen.  Tastewise it was a hit with me.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcake

We took several other cupcakes including a blueberry and other chocolate.  We took 3 foccacias for the road.  The eggplant and onion was cut up.  (It never made it to the car).  The other two which did make it all the way to Vermont were the artichoke with olive, and the tomato and basil with rosemary.  

This was some of the best bread I have ever had.  It was light, tasty and had a perfect crust and crumb.

My breakfast was the Vegan House Special.  I had the choice of slicing a foccacia in half and using the top and bottom as a sandwich or using a mini baguette.  I opted for the second since we had already grabbed 3 foccacias for the road.  The baguette was crusty and perfect with the filling.  The olive paste was deliciously salty and the sun dried tomatoes paired perfectly with sweetness fro the onions and roasted peppers.  The balsamic added another note of deep flavor and a touch of different sweet.  It was a great sandwich and I wished I had a container of the filling to eat with a fork over a salad.  These next pictures need no further words.

If you're anywhere in the Hudson Valley you should definitely make this a destination for some vegan treats.  It's the kind of place you want to make a stop at on the way home too.

Notice how many are left.

Alternative Baker on Urbanspoon

The Pizza Conversion, dinner and outreach at Zesty's Pizza in NYC

On day one of my brother and nieces visit, the start of "wedding weekend," his California borne craving was for New York Pizza.  We picked Zesty's Pizza on 3rd Ave and 95th Street.  Just on a whim, I grabbed a sealed bag of Daiya Cheese and off we went.  I figured I'd at least be able to get a salad or something.

Zesty's has nothing vegan.  There is no pizza without cheese.  I asked.  It's busy, noisy, and amongst the employees it seems that English was the second language.  All those factors made a vegan education for the manager, (owner), something that wasn't going to happen at that moment but I did ask the person who seemed to be the manager a few questions.

I asked if there was soy cheese and there wasn't.  I asked if there were any pizzas without cheese and there weren't.  I showed the manager my bag of cheese and asked if there was any way to melt it on a slice.  Not without cheese.  A few minutes later the manager showed me a slice of pizza without cheese.  He had taken the cheese off.  (Here's a classic case of reaching out but not understanding the goal.)  Rather than go into the whole vegan thing, (it wasn't the time or place and wouldn't be effective at all), I just said I was allergic to cheese and couldn't eat that if there had been cheese on it.  (I hope he just put the cheese back on it but I doubt it and now there was a waste situation created which I don't feel good about).

Then he said he'd make a pie from scratch and asked for the cheese.  I watched as a dough tin was opened, cut in half, flattened, sauced, and spread with about 3/4 of the package of cheese.  I worried that it would burn in a pizza oven set to (what?) 800 degrees?  Or is that just wood burning? I didn't want my experiment to become a charred mass of ugliness.  It wasn't. It was the best pizza I've ever had in my life.

When the pie was cut I gave a slice to the manager.  I think he was impressed that it didn't taste like cardboard and was so creamy and stringy.

I also gave him the package with the remaining Daiya cheese.  (Hey Daiya!  Do I get a commission when your sales take off on the Upper East Side of Manhattan?)

Now when this wedding weekend in Vermont is over and things return to normal I'm going back at a quiet time to talk about veganism, lactose intolerance, and opening up a new target market or two using Daiya cheese.

Zesty Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

The Wedding Weekend or mix yoga and chocolate, NYC

My brother and niece came into NYC for the start of a wedding weekend commencing in Middlebury, Vermont. I had to work on their first day in but we were going to meet up for dinner at Max Brenner's The Bald Chocolate Man later that day. I have a blog post about my dinner there last summer.  At that time my only option was a Dr. Praeger Vegan burger and I wanted a bit more than that so to cover my bases I went to the amazing Juvimakti Yoga Center at 841 Broadway, (the same address as Max Brenner's).

Although there are a lot of juices, smoothies and teas there are a bunch of sandwiches, main dishes and burritos as well so if you're looking for light, you can find it.  If you're looking to make sure you remain at your current weight or better, you can find it too.

And there's more stuff on the right side of the menu but the hearty stuff is all in this picture.

Since I like spicy I once again opted for the Burrito Diablo.

So looking forward to having more than a veggie burger my hands are shaking.

In for a penny, in for a pound I also get myself a healthy smoothie.  I go out on a limb because dates aren't my favorite and order the Love. Just to make sure I get my daily dose of micronutrients I add a side of kale into the juice.

This was surprisingly sweet, or not so surprisingly if you think about dates and bananas being sweet.  If nothing else it's possibly the greenest thing I ever drank.  It was thick, rich and the predominant flavor was indeed banana.

Another, "Whoops, I almost finished it before I took the picture," episode.   This could have been dessert.
Now just to be sure I wasn't missing anything I did ask about vegan options at Max's place.  Once again, the only thing was the burger, plain, because even the buns weren't vegan.  The waiter also recommended the Mediterranean combination appetizer since it had hummus, roasted Spanish eggplant and babaganoush.  He did say the baba had mayo in it but when another waitress came over with the dish and told us since she knew there was a vegan at the table, mentioned that the hummus was from Sabra and she was pretty sure it wasn't vegan.  So that left the Spanish eggplant dip.  It had a nice smoky flavor.  I asked if the pita chips were were slathered in butter or oil.  Waiter checked, said no go for me, and brought a basket of plain untoasted pita bread.  (Note to chef:  can you not toast pita chips without butter?)  OK, at least we caught that one.

Mediterranean Trio & Crispy Spice Dusted Pita Chips / Individual
creamy hummus, spanish eggplant dip, classic babaganoosh

In writing this here's another thought.  I just noticed they had pizza.  (I did know they had a chocolate and marshmallow pizza but not regular ones).  Now I wouldn't in a million years be in New York City and buy pizza from a chocolate place, (and this is from from 2007: The NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene lists 1250 restaurants with the word "pizza" in the restaurant name). I might have considered putting together a cheeseless pizza had the suggestion been made.  Unless of course the dough wasn't vegan.  I know, I know, pizza dough should be but some places put the strangest things in the strangest of places.

So after everyone else's meal was served I took out my Diablo burrito with it's fresh mixed greens salad, (no there was just romaine from the Caesar and regular salad on the Max menu, nothing really "greeny"), and gingery dressing.

Since the ingredients are listed in the picture of the menu board I'll just say it was a perfect mixture of textures with the soft beans and the crunch of the lettuce, and the soft meatiness of the seitan.  There was a creamy sauce which went very nicely with the smokiness of the grilled seitan.  And the seitan was perfectly made with just the right amount of chew and sear.  An excellent meal thanks to Jivamukti Cafe.

Here's the bottom line.  Max Brenner's is a tourist destination.  It's a pretty cool looking place with pipes running across the ceiling labeled with chocolate signs, cauldrons galore of chocolate and a chocolate shop to boot.  (Why not one of the options is made without milk I'll never figure out, even the dark chocolate isn't vegan).  It's not a fine dining restaurant and although there is a vegan option on the menu it's very hard to zero in on without twenty questions.  For what you end up with, (naked veggie burger on a plate), as a vegan, it's a very low return.

Take everyone to the Cafe next door, eat a healthy delicious meal, and then if you truly must, go buy a bar of chocolate one door to the North.
Jivamuktea on Urbanspoon
Max Brenner, Chocolate By the Bald Man on Urbanspoon