Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 5, Veggie Galaxy, Cambridge Mass

After the Amy's breakfast I was pretty much full for the day, did an hour on the elliptical, and then had a little hunger pang.  I opened up one of the small hummus containers and finished the carrots.

Now I wanted a bit of something different since I had some time to head out.  We took the T to Mass Ave and ended up at the Veggie Galaxy.  The Galaxy is a sort of vegan ish place.  Everything is vegan except what isn't.  They serve eggs and dairy and cheese but from what I can garner the only entree that isn't vegan is the mac and cheese, which comes both ways.  All that being said, vegan is easy here.  Eggs are cooked on a separate grill.

I'm waiting for the new camera on the iPhone 8!
A few shots through the front window.  This is actually showing behind the register, the cake carousel, and the line behind the counter.

From the waiting area, looking towards the back.  This is how blurry it looks if you'd had a few too many.
Here are two pics of the death wheel.  If you pass by here and look at the death wheel you will get dessert.  You will lose all willpower just like me.  Yes, we ordered dessert.  Just look at this stuff!

I did not order this.  I would have resisted.  I did take that spoon and taste it though.  It made me cry that I am not
rail thin and able to consume anything I want in massive quantities.  This was an oreo frappe.  Vegan can blow your mind.  So rich and chocolaty.  

Glazed Seitan Loaf on garlic mashed with sautéed chard.
I didn't' taste this but the report from my omnivore friend was that it was excellent.  There was nothing left on the plate, which for an omnivore, in my mind, speaks volumes.

I am an onion ring junkie.  Although these were good and I'd want one on my burger I wouldn't use up the calories on a whole order again.  They were very crispy on the outside but the batter didn't have that flaky texture I enjoy.  The onions were sweet and if you don't take a good bite out of the ring they'll pull out.  That being said there was only a small bit of ketchup on the plate by the time we were done with them.

Baked Mac with roasted Eggplant, Leek and Peas.  Vegan version of course.
I'm not a crazy over Mac N Cheese kind of guy although I do enjoy it.  It brings me back to the carefree eating of comfort foods we all seemed to have had in our younger days.  Unless you're younger now, then, uh, never mind ... age is only in your mind.  Ha ha.

This is an excellent dish but the cheese aspect wasn't as gooey and slurpy as I generally prefer.  It was a drier baked macaroni dish and certainly stands up on its own.  It had some interesting flavors and if I recall an undertone of cumin and turmeric among others.  The pasta was perfect, neither too soft or too al dente.  There is no escaping though, that the eggplant needed more time in the oven as it was decidedly a bit undercooked.  I'd order this dish again though.  This is actually a child's order since there is not a "side" of Baked Mac.

Now for my dish which I will say right up front I flipped for.  This is what a diner is supposed to serve and how they're supposed to serve it.  (I just made that up, there being of course, no "Rules for Diners" in the Library of Congress ... just in my own head).

This dish is served on 2 slices of toasted bread, a literal pile of seitan and a rich wine/balsamic reduction worthy of it's own award.  The seitan was a great texture, combining soft and chewy and mimicking meat very closely.  It's served over a slathering of mustard beans, (although I don't recall the flavor of mustard ... memory going and all that), onions and chard.  Wonderful flavor combinations.

Then of course, being from Brooklyn, I laced the top with ketchup just to leave my mark.  This was one of the more delicious and hand made dishes I have had in a vegan eatery.  This was worth every penny and if I get back I will makes sure that one of us at the table gets this.

Open Faced Seitan Sandwich with chard, onions and mustard baked beans.
On to the desserts.  I used to work in a diner and somehow the desserts always looked better than they tasted.  Perhaps this is a good thing but by no means do I mean they were disappointing.  The Chocolate Cream Pie was light and airy and just smooched sweet creamy chocolate in your mouth, over your tongue, under your tongue and slid so wonderfully down your throat.  Satisfying to a T yet I think trying to remember a "real" Boston Cream Pie it missed the mark by just a bit.  I was never a big cream pie aficionado so perhaps some others can chime in here.  Once again it was a very good dessert but with a whole carousel of choices I'll wait for someone else to order it again for my second taste.

The Taza Chocolate Layer Cake was a new experience for me.  It was a pow, in your mouth, chocolate but not as sweet as you'd think looking at it.  It had a grainier texture than it looks like it has and speaks of chocolate like a fine wine.  Perhaps it isn't sweet so as not to disguise the essence of the cocoa.  A very dense cake I had to pause and order the coffee which this cake needed as a perfect compliment.  My one bone to pick is that the soy for coffee is soy milk and not creamer.  Just my preference as the coffee never seems to get light enough with just alternative milks.

I watched the pass for a while, really just a section of the counter, as I had a good view from my seat and the food coming out was not only piled high for those of you us out there with huge appetites but it was colorful and artistic.  Although the glare on the Beer Batter House Smoked Tofu prevents you from seeing the texture the dish just yells, "crunchy."  To the right is the Vegetable Pot Pie which I truly had to hold myself back from just grabbing a fork for a taste.

Not really bad for all that we ordered and dinner for two.  

Pie in the Sky pie by Anna

"I love you.  Eat."

I remember my Grandmother saying it as she pushed a package of Twinkies, (Tvinkies) or Hostess Snowballs my way to nurture my 10 year old body with love and sugar.  Today my daughter follows in her footsteps, (albeit unknowingly as she never met this grandmother), as she's taken to baking as though she was born in Vegan Treats in Bethlehem, PA.

These pics have been hanging around for a month or more.  They're from "Vegan Pie in the Sky," by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, (who I got to introduce at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival where I was an Emcee).  My daughter's favorites are this book, "The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, and "Vegan Desserts," by Hannah Kaminsky.

Playing catch-up and in honor of meeting the delightful Ms. Romero, and in honor of my daughter who delights me with vegan baked goods when I walk through the door from a two week rotation, I've bumped this post to number one.

Brownie Botton Peanut Butter Cheesecake.

We didn't have a 9 1/2 inch pan.  This is basic geometry, when you have a bigger diameter the height of a given volume

The cake was a bit shorter than it was supposed to be but I'm shorter than I'm supposed to be so it all worked out.
I mean, I can see over the counter.

With her new piping bag in hand Rad Whip flowers adorn the rim.

How could this be complete without shaved chocolate?
Two pics of the finished product.  The cake had rich sweet multi dimensional flavors and the consistency brought me back to Juniors in Brooklyn where a trek to downtown was an incredible treat for their cheesecake.  If only I knew then what I know now about cheese ... but that's for a different day ... this is a denser version of that.  Still, melt in your mouth chocolate/peanut butter decadence.


And thanks Kiddo.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Foursquare and eating on the road

What started out as a chronicle of my daily food intake, I realized after a few days, will most likely be repetitive.  I shopped, I nuked, I ate, rinse, repeat.  So instead I'm going to summarize my go to foods for the cooler and post a few reviews of some of the amazing places I was lucky enough to be able to eat at.  Two more days of rotation and I will complete these 15, get home, decompress, breathe some sea level New York City air, and post.

In the meantime, if you want to follow my travels I've just started to dabble on Foursquare.  Of course I'm "veganpilotmarty" so send me a follow request and we'll see if we're not in the same Whole Foods one day.  Whoo Whoo, meeting by the cabbage!!

Trying to find Aspen Airport.  I know it's in one of these valleys.

One of the fruit trays from the catering.  I was half way through before I realized how colorful a picture this would make.
Oh, and most importantly, I'm famous if you hadn't already realized.  I've been a guest on my friend Jordan Wyatt's podcast, Coexisting With Non Human Animals. It's one of the few podcasts I try and listen to each time it comes out so it was really an honor to be interviewed.   Everything is sort of upside down because Jordan lives in Invercargill, New Zealand and even though he talks funny you can make it out. Check it out, it runs about an hour and his sarcasm and wit are topped only by mine, which is a feat as only a few know my true deep dark cynicism.  It was great fun and thanks Jordan.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day 4 Native Foods Chicago

I don't remember but I think it was -12 with the wind chill.  It even looks cold in Minneapolis.  Hey Minneaoplians, there are places with PALM TREES ya know.  

On the ramp in MSP

I woke up not very hungry, well, whaddaya expect after eating 2 sandwiches for dinner?  2 cups of coffee later I was on the crew van and a short hop over to Chicago.  Now you might think, "Ohhh, Chicago!!  Wow!!" and I sort of think, "Oh, Chicago!! Wow!! I'm an hour away from the airport with traffic on 55 and if my charter passengers finish up an hour early, (oh yes it does happen!), and I'm an hour away from the airport, well, you can see how so NOT well that might turn out."  But today we had a 6 hour wait and those are pretty big buffers.

There were a few bowls of fruit left over from the catering so I started my first meal of the day with melon and berries.  I know, you can't really call this something that you'd find while traveling but you more than likely can get to any supermarket easier than I can and they of course have precut fruit and veggie bowls in the fruit section.

I sent out a tweet and my friends in ORD land sent me a few suggestions.  The Bourgeois Pig was suggested for their amazing vegetarian sandwiches.  I decided that today I'd like a 100% vegan restaurant so put them on the back burner for when I'm with a die hard carnivore.  Also suggested were Karen's Raw, Chicago Diner and Native Foods.  I was looking for something warm, comforting, and not particularly healthy but really wanted to try Karen's Raw.  I had tried Karen's Cooked and loved it but for now Raw would have to wait.  The Diner and Native Foods were near my copilot's destination and since I had been to the Diner a few times, and didn't think I could control myself knowing they had those malteds, I decided to go the Native Foods route.  I also loved what I ate in California so although it wouldn't be a "new" place it would still be good.  And it was.

Peeking in through the front door.  The place was pretty crowded.

Order here and you get a number for your table.  Runners bring out the food.

The condiment table has these nice touches.  Chupacabra sauce is very nice and warm!  There wasn't much left and I forgot to put it on my
Caribbean Queen because it was so good by itself.

My choice was between the twister, (special of the day as well), and the CQ Burger.  

And a buck into the tip jar made $16.80 for lunch.  A bit more than eating supermarket frozen meals but worth it and I never
know when I'm going to be at a place I want to review or just starving in my hotel room.

Moist slices of seitan that were grilled up to a nice crisp.  Had that perfect char.  I did think that the avocado
might have been better in a guac spread as a few times I got big chunks of avocado in my bites.  Not bad just a bit incongruous with the
meatiness of the sandwich.
OK, also, see those fries?  Do not under any circumstances order them.  They are perfect.  They are crispy on the outside, not soggy.  They are cooked on the inside.  They are not too salty, just irresistibly salty.  You will finish them and not have enough calories left for dessert.  Wait, you're at Native Foods and worried about calories?  Duh!

The Iced Tea was sweet but not too.  The other two drinks, the lemonade and Watermelon Aqua were way too
sweet for my taste.

This is a hearty sandwich you can sink your teeth into.  And I did.  A great combination of textures and flavors, a bit
sweet, hot, creamy and hearty.
 Lunch being all said and done I used the excuse that my buddy might not have had time to grab some food and ever on the "make a vegan today" mission, which can be a pain in the ass for some but honestly I couldn't care less, I went back to the counter for round two.  (OK, I also wanted to try some more stuff!).

For another 20 bucks I was a sport and showed up in the car for the ride back to the airport with SUPPLIES for the trip!!

Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger.
 This is sort of funny.  I'm not super crazy for fried pickles although there's nothing wrong with them.  I gave them over willingly as I knew that after a few more minutes in the box they'd be soggy anyway.  Not much difference between vegan fried pickles and the egg batter used in regular ones.  I tried one and it was starting in on the soggy scale but had that sweet batter/salty vinegar pickle thing going on.

(I'm fast forwarding a day here.  I was at the airport on day 6 and took the inside of the burger, which is a misnomer btw, and nuked it for about a minute.  Put it back on the cold bun.  I have to tell you it was heavenly.  Not a "burger" but the savory tastes of the shaved chicken-y seitan and the hickory smoke of the bacon and the mayo and cheese creaminess were absolutely mind boggling.  It is times like these that I wish I was one of Pavlov's dogs and Tanya was standing next to me ringing the bell.  This was so delicious, so perfect in your mouth that your mind just doesn't want to stop eating it.  Consider this one of my rare raves about food.)

We dove into the chicken wings so the burger is still in my hotel room fridge here in Boston.  Waiting.

"Chicken Wings"  We both chowed down on these.
Since my compatriot lives outside of Chicago I was impressed when he thought so highly of the wings that he asked for the name and address to pass on to his wife.  Every vegan meal eaten is an animal saved even if we don't make vegans.

It is scary how much this looks like the real thing sans bone.
 Here are some shots of a truly colorful, artfully decorated casual place.

 After a delicious meal we headed East.  I know the iPhone camera isn't the best but that red dot is the moonrise.

Finally it started to turn white.

And here's my breakfast, Amy's Breakfast Tofu Scramble.  It's one of my favorite pre made frozen meals and as far as ingredients, it's almost entirely unprocessed.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 3 on the road

Off we went to Stop and Shop.  My number one goal was Silk coffee creamer.  I was running close to empty with the pint I had taken from home on Tuesday.  I also picked up a few other things including one of my favorite on the road frozen breakfasts, Amy's Tofu Scramble.

$23 for the spree
In the plane heading out to Minneapolis I scarfed down 2 deli thin sandwiches made with Hickory Tofurky.  That's it.  No salad, no condiments, nothing.  I was starving since it had been almost 6 hours since my burrito.  I washed it down with a Naked Green Machine.  

Now after a long day putting the airplane to bed in wind chill factor of 12 degrees I began to thaw.  Dinner tonight was a deli round with a Boca Chicken Patty, Daiya and stuffed with salad and another sandwich on a Pocket Thin of a Boca Burger with Daiya and greens.  

Hot sauce is my savior on the road.  I also had a few handfuls of nuts from Meijer, a few carrots and two broccols.  (2 broccoli florets).  

Someday I would like to talk to the person who is in charge of ordering the refrigerator units for all of the hotels I say at.  Kudos to the one who orders them with the little freezer section.  Why in the world would you not?  My cold pack is reduced to something frozen in the middle about the size of an apricot.  Only by leaning it up against the coldest part of the fridge on the back wall did it happen to freeze.  Better to have a fridge than not.  Better to have a little freezer in your hotel fridge than not.  Better to have been born with rich parents in the first place.

Now that I was craving something sweet I ended the day with a PureFit Granola Crunch bar.  I stole, (not really), an apple from a basket sitting on the check in counter.  I'm sure I'll use that for my sweet tomorrow.

My travels; is it "hard" to eat a vegan diet on the road? Day One

I do have a couple of posts to catch up on and a testimonial to write but the last 10 days off have been a whirlwind culminating in 2 days of the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival.  I was an Emcee for 2 stages on day one and 1 stage for day 2 and got to meet some of my icons in the vegan world.  The bummer was I didn't get to see any of the cooking demonstrations from the Natural Gourmet School.  Please forgive any inaccuracies as I'm trying to dash this entry off and don't have time to look up spellings.  (I hate to do this but this is going to be food blogging on the fly ... so to speak).

Terry Hope Romero, Laura Theodore, Ellen Jaffe Jones, Marisa Miller Wolfson, Brendan Brazier, Dr. Michael Gregor, Rebecca Gilbert, Gena Hamshaw and Matthew Frazier, and Jenny Brown to name more than a handful.  Also running around and meeting all the vendors and in a pinch filling in and conducting a Q & A when a scheduling snafu left an empty stage.

I just started my 15 day rotation and in discussing food, (one of a pilot's MAJOR concerns ... I know, you thought it was the safety of flight), with my new copilot, he mentioned that it must be "hard on the road."

This is in response to that statement.  I'm going to chronicle my food over the next 15 days.  What I ate, how and where I got it.  Just to show you that it can be done.

First day was crazy and had a The Simply Bar and a Purefit bar to stave off the hunger as a calm day turned into a scramble to plan a possible recovery flight, (to dash off and save the day when an airplane has a mechanical problem), then go back to plan A, then have a test flight for an airplane that just came out of maintenance thrown into the works, then go back to plan A again and head off to Michigan.

I packed a bag when I left the house.  It had an Amy's Breakfast and a Non-Dairy bean burrito, container of Silk coffee creamer, (my lifeblood), 2 half opened packages of Daiya cheese, half a bottle of Maple Farms Fat Free salad dressing, some Primal Strips, vegan jerky, Purefit and The Simply bars, a few small hummus containers and a half pack of Pepperidge Farms Deli Flats, and a bottle of hot sauce.  I think.  My room didn't have a microwave or fridge and my cooler bag is in the kitchen of the hotel right now.

So last night when I did arrive I heated up one the bean burrito with Daiya in the microwave, had some primal strips, a deli flat with one of the containers of hummus.  No eating out.

Today the free breakfast had packets of oatmeal that I wasn't in the mood for, (hoping for some cooked oatmeal), and no fresh fruit.  It truly is amazing how crappy we eat.  The only thing that wasn't processed or dead was a banana.  I had my breakfast burrito with daiya and hot sauce with a few cups of Silk lightened coffee.

There's a Meijer Supermarket across the street so I'm off to see what I can find there.  I am scheduled to be back in Teterboro tonight at about 3 in the morning so I'll have access to my car and a Stop and Shop nearby that has a few pretty good options.  (No Daiya yet but I asked the dairy manager to see about ordering some.  We'll see if that happened).

I went over to the Meijer and it truly is amazing how many vegan options are there.  I even found vegan ramen noodles.  Here's the pic of my Meijer adventure.  Now, how can I fit it all into my cooler bag?  One of the tricks I've come across it to ditch the packaging.  If something isn't in a soft plastic bag, repackage it.

This Hawaiian Style tofu from Melissa's looked great but was still on the shelf on 3/7.  Expired and they didn't have any more.

The first 2 of about 5 freezer sections with mostly veggie/vegan options.  Milk and Eggs in Morningstar and Boca.  Come on already!

The sign says, "Frozen Meatless Options"  It's the first one specifically stating "meatless" I've ever seen.

For Pontiac, Michigan ... well, for anywhere, this is an impressive display of prepared veggie and vegan options.

This whole aisle is international foods.  Listen to my walking commentary, not because it's good but because it's my first:
Alright, well, that didn't work.  

Soooo, what happens to all of this?

It all smooshes down into this.  

$24 and I will probably have to throw some of it out...still not bad for 2 days of eating on the road.  

While in Teterboro later in the day, I topped one of the Boca Burgers with Daiya and popped it into the microwave.  It was a bit soggy but the Daiya was mmmmm ... Daiya.  I realized that the 100 calorie claim on the outside of the package of Arnold pocket thins was deceptive at best.  1/2 of the pocket is 100 calories so I should have stuck with my Pepperidge Farms Deli Thins.  Anyway I wolfed this down with a handful of the salad and some of my dressing.  I chomped a few carrots and a broc and that was it until we got back from out next trip (at 3am) when I wolfed down an untouched plate of delicious honeydew, a few paltry berries, some cant elope that tasted like potato and sweet and delicious pineapple.  That's it for today on the food front.

Day 3 (I think).
We got into the hotel around 4 AM, (now you know why I'm not sure what day this is), and have to be back at the airport at 230pm.  I woke up, had 2 cups of coffee with silk, the burrito with Daiya, some hot sauce, (neeeed hotter), and all of the fruit.  Total cost for breakfast.  Zero.

We're going to make a quick stop at the supermarket as our overnight tonight, (always in theory), is Minneapolis and we may be getting in a bit late to have many restaurant dinner choices.