George and Julia's Vegan Underground

Archive for the category “Dinner”

Sweet potato and jalapeño bisque

So for the Super Bowl, George and I were thinking about what to make for snacks almost all day. Finally once the game started, we decided on tacos…

Well we had some sweet potatoes around the house and I began googling for a sweet potato and jalapeño mash to be the base. I ended up finding another recipe, a sweet potato bisque. It was completely non vegan. There was bacon and rendered bacon fat involved, half and half and everything to turn a vegans stomach. Well I read the recipe and altered it to make it vegan. Thanks to our vitamix it was easy to make:

  • 3 sweet potatoes- soften all three, purée two, and dice the third
  • 3 roasted jalapeños
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 roasted garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 5 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup almond milk

Purée 2 sweet potatoes, roasted jalapeños, roasted garlic, almond milk and vegetable broth.

In a soup pot, sauté onions with coconut oil and cumin. Once onions are translucent, add diced sweet potato and mix well. Then add sweet potato purée. Salt and pepper to taste.

It’s sweet and very pleasant. Not overly spicy but has a lingering warmth. Reminds me of corn chowder. Roasting the jalapeño and garlic was to add smokiness that bacon would usually have. Coconut oil was used to replace the rendered bacon fat and to still give it a richness. There you have it, vegan sweet potato and jalapeño bisque. Eat guilt-free.

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George and Julia’s Vegan Best of 2012

Pianos are Chairs, Indian Pizza

Pianos are Chairs, Indian Pizza

Vegans unite and take in this news of the best vegan food according to us, George and Jules (Julia).  So here it is, we bring you the vegan best.

George and Julia’s Vegan Best of 2012

Formal Dining = Candle 79

Although we have been told the Candle Cafe is much chipper (cheaper and hipper), it’s difficute to beat a romantic vegan dinner from C79.  This restaurant has been bringing vegan food to the masses before it was trendy.  It’s possible they actually made it trendy.  This establishment was started using lottery winnings.  Candle 79 is PaulMcCarthy’s favorite but you don’t need to be a Beatle to eat there.  Just throw on an ironed shirt and clean pair of trousers.  Take your Mom, your fiancé, or a business client you want to impress.  Request a seat on the second level.  Reservations are accepted and recommended and we recommend the polenta fries.

Candle 79 154 East 79th Street at Lex, NY, NY

Wings = Veggie Grill (Los Angeles)

Word has it, Food Swings  http://www.foodswings.net/ fry those fake bitty birds the best but we have never been there.  Foodswings proximity to Champ’s makes it difficult to select.  While spending time with Julia’s brother in Los Angeles, he recommended the fast vegan foodie paradise, Veggie Grill.  Served classic cafeteria-style, this place cooks up great bang for your buck.  Personally, I (that would be George) never liked wings.  I always found them slimy and Neanderthal.  Julia on the other hand, is always on the lookout for a chicken-less substitute to her former favorite.  So yes, Julia says Veggie Grill’s wings win the prize. We’ve had wings at Soy and Sake’s but Julia insists Veggie Grill beats ’em.  If you miss the burger king whopper (I do not), the Veggie Grill burger is an amazing meatless replica.  I sound like a stuck-up jerk in this wings review.  So here’s their new slogan: “Veggie Grill, yes I think I will.”  V.G.’s has 17 locations in California, Oregon and Washington State but no New York chapter.  Why not start your own New York Veggie Grill so I can eat it?  Inquire here.   various locations

Wings = Champs Family Bakery

Sorry Veggie Grill but their called Champs for a reason.  The Champs specials board read “hot wings.”  As the chef works to revamp their menu with some new and exciting options, they often test on their customers.  The wings are everyone’s favorite and our server said it will definitely make the new menu.  I like that they use tempeh instead of gluten or tofu.  The texture is less slimey than a traditional wing (which I like) while still maintaining the item’s best characteristics.  I’m talking about the sauce!!  t made our pancakes buffalo saucy.  This sauce is so perfect, so rich, the best wing sauce I have every tasted.  Julia should really be writing this…If we go this weekend (which is quite possible), we will each be getting 3 orders of wings and that’s it.  I love you Champs!!.  If that’s not incentive enough, Super Bowl Sunday, they are offerring their wings $10.00/dozen (carryout only). 

Veggie Grill, yes I think I will...

Veggie Grill, yes I think I will…

Sandwich = Free Foods (Julia), Cinnamon Snail (George)

While their connection to Pure Food and Wine may be officially severed, a connection remains.  Michael and the crew offer up some delish raw foods and vegan sandwiches.  Their food is made out of some of the ingredients available and most are happy to pay extra for that.  Once a monthly special, the Buffalo “Chicken” Wrap is a regular menu item easily tops the chart for Julia.  In fact, I’m often recruited to bring a Buff Wrap home for her highness;-)

Me, I’ve got to go with Cinnamon Snail.  It’s one of their staples and what keeps me coming back.  While I am not much of a seitan man, when the snail puts together Lemongrass Sub or Cajun hoagie, I’m in love.  Their sandwiches often incorporate 7+ delicious ingredients.  It’s something I could never make at home and I like that.  As Cinnamon Snail pointed out, most of the people who eat their food are not vegan so I guess that says something right there.

Free Foods 18 West 45th Street, btwn 5th and 8th Ave NY, NY,

Cinnamon Snail is mobile so check twitter for location.

Sushi =  Beyond Sushi

This was a no-brainer.  Beyond Sushi has taken sushi to a whole new level.  As a vegan I appreciate that I no longer need to pretend to like raw fish sushi (yuk).  I was ready to hang up my sushi galoshes when Beyond Sushi created a whole new world using fruits, nuts, wild rice, avocado, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and so many other fresh vegetables.  The colors make these rolls works of art.  And no fish means longer shelf life and your safe from mercury and fish parasites.  Un-freakin believable. We were there for the opening.  Two months later they went full vegan.  Julia suggested this and they listened.

Beyond Sushi 229 East 14th Street  New York, NY 10003

Raw Food = Pure Food and Wine

This place got my best of in 2011.  This place has not gone downhill but my tastes have changed.  Pure Food and Wine (PFW) has made raw food a delicacy.  Bring your carnivores, they’ll love it too.  BillClinton has a table there.  It is still one of the most recognized vegan restaurant in the world and with good reason.  Yes the prices are high but this romantic gem offers superb sight and taste.  Try it, you’ll love it.

Pure Food and Wine 54 Irving Place (between 17th and 18th streets) , NY, NY

Ice Cream = One Lucky Duck (Julia), Lula’s Sweet Apothecary (George)    

One Lucky Duck is the café adjoined with Pure Food and Wine and serves the same food in a coffeehouse environment.  We had the Sundae and it was perfect.  The waiter told us it was about the mixing for maximum fluff.  Their hot fudge brought me a childhood flashback.  While it is amazing, almost perfect, I still lust for Lula’s Sweet Apothecary.  Set up like an old tyme candy joint, they have 10+ different flavors of ice cream, banana splits, classic sundaes and more.  This place was named by the  the Meetup group, “Eatup Vegan Lunch Bunch” as the pride of New York.  In other words, if someone comes from out of town, you take them to Lula’s.  It seriously blows minds. One Lucky Duck is the café adjoined with Pure Food and Wine and serves the same food in a coffeehouse environment.

One Lucky Duck 125 East 17th Street, NY, NY

Lula’s Sweet Apothecary 516 East 6th Street (btwn Ave A&B) New York, NY

Breakfast = Champs Family Bakery

This was not even close.  Pancakes!  These are fluffy mouthwatering flap jacks like no other.  We brought a guy from France to Champs and Mr Fancy pants (apparently they don’t have pancakes in France) was blown away.  Seriously, put Champ’s pancakes on your bucket list.  The problem is, we go there for dinner and can’t help but get pancakes.  How could you not.  In addition, they’ve got the best tofu scramble I’ve ever had.  The spicy version is called the Drunken Cowgirl which was the first and last meal I had at Champs.  We moved farther away from Champs so we went there 2-3 times a week until our move date.  They’ve even got a great bakery.  We prefer the cookies over the cakes.  You’ll need to take it to go.  Champs serves up huge portions.  

Champs Family Bakery 176 Aislie Street Brooklyn NY

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

Falafel = Taim

The Vegan Guide to New York City (by Rynn Berry, Chris Abreu-Suzuki, and Barry Litsky) kind of panned Taim as good, not great.  We couldn’t disagree more.  Crisp (another favorite of ours) reinvented this classic with untraditional gourmet toppings like sweet potato and peanut sauce.  Taim has brought new life to the falafel ball itself.  They have a spicy ball option and even their traditional falafel has a “zing” you won’t find at the other places.  Talk about raising the bar.  Julia and I housed them sammies.  Simply the greatest falafel in the world.  Taim’s wise to the whole vegan thing, so let them know.  They’ll be no “tude.”

On a side note, Vegan Guide to New York City author Rynn Berry is best known for his book debunking the myth that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian (Thank you Rynn!  A lie invented by the meat industry (no doubt)). On a lighter note Julia would also like to point out that the Vegan Guide  forgot to mention Atlas Cafe’ although I think I know why. My point being that the Vegan Guide to New York City is a great book to have in your pocket.  Great job (except for panning Taim and omitting Atlas)!

Taim 45 Spring St, New York 10012 (new location!)

Taim 222 Waverly Place, New York10014. 

Taim Mobile


Burger = Johnny Mack’s (Julia), Zen Palate (George)

When Julia wants to get her burger on we go to a pub of all places.  Serving standard bar fare, they have two things on the menu we can eat, the veggie burger and the sweet potato fries.  Initially upset at our limited selections, we shut up when we took a bite of their veggie burger and scarfed down sweet potato fries.  Absolutely great.  Not flashy but a well put together, made-with-actual-veggies pattie and fried orange potatoes on the side.  Way to go JohnnyMack.  Who would have known?

Personally I (George) prefer a more earthy burger.  Zen Palate’s Zen Burger is piled high with sprouts and a virtual salad between an oat bun.  The pattie doesn’t stay together like Johnny’s.  This says to me it’s all vegetable goodness with no binders or breadcrumbs.  Zen Burger was started by the parents of the Gobo guys.

Johnny Mack’s 1114 8th Ave (between 11th St & 12th St) Brooklyn, NY 11215 

Zen Palate  663 9th Ave (at 46th), New York, NY 10036

Vietnamese Sandwich = Hanco’s (Julia), Bahnmigos (George)

You may think it’s unusual that we have a separate best for Vietnamese Sandwiches.  In 2012, we lived in the infamous Vietnamese Sandwich warzone.  It got pretty ugly and the competion was fierce but there was no better place to get a Vietnamese Sandwich  than Park Slope Brooklyn, 2010-present.  This still is the center of the Bahn Mi universe and it became a weekly choice for us.  We had Henry’s, Home, Lotus but the true great was a place called Hanco’s.  They had it down, the bread, pickled carrots, cilantro, jalepeno.  Even having it vegan with tofu or fake pork with no butter or mayonnaise, it still ranked high.  I wonder how many we’ve eaten.

Bahn Amigos Jay, George and Foon

Bahn Amigos Jay, George and Foon

Before we could depart the great Vietnamese Sandwich heaven, I met a couple of guys opening yet another Bahn Mi shop called Bahnmigos.  No, it was not Vietnamese/Mexican fusion (although I thought that could work).   Jay the manager asked for my honest feedback.  Foon was the former chef at Hanco’s and was speading his wings to a new generation of Bahn Mi lovers.  I fell in love with Bahnmigo’s modern versions of this classic sandwich.  While I would never eat sausage Bahn Mi, they also offered one with a Portobello mushroom.  More carrots than I was used to and less cilantro but the bun was super fresh and the mushrooms sauted to perfection.  I fell in love that day.

Hanco’s 350 7th Ave. (corner of 10th ST.) Brooklyn, NY 11215

Bahnmigos 178 Lincoln Pl(between 7th Ave & 8th Ave) Brooklyn, NY 11217

Bagel = Le Bagel Delight (Julia), Ess-a-Bagel (George)

I always hand-quote “bagel” when eating one that is not New York born.  It’s just a fact that nobody beats us.  The best of New York is the best in the world.  One of my first experiences in NYC was a trip to the H&H bagels that used to be across the street from Zabar’s.  Julia prefers Le Bagel Delight.  They make a fine bagel and it used to be near our home.   Many a day, we walked and shared a chewy and crispy circle of goodness.  To me, the bagel place that wins, hands down is Ess-a-Bagel.  This place is a New York institution.  The guys behind the counter yell “Hey, who’s next” and always seem grumpy.  The bagel though, you have to taste to believe.  Perfect texture, chewy and usually hot from the oven.  I love these bagels so much I skip the tofu cream cheese and just eat the bagel as is.  Ess-a-bagel wins best bagel in the world with me.

Le Bagel Delight –  122 – 7th Avenue (Between Carrol & President) Brooklyn

Ess-a-Bagel 831 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10022

Bakery = Vegan Treats (George) / Babycakes (Julia)

Vegan Treats?  Bethlehem?  What gives?  Although the Vegan Treats bakery resides in Pennsylvania, there’s a good chance you’ve eaten them in New York.  They supply many restaurants with vegan sweets.  This includes the Cocoa Room, V Spot, Moby’s Teany, Dao Palate and many others.  My heart belongs to the Vegan Treat’s Peanut Butter Chocolate “bomb” cake (or is it “explosion”).  Following them on Facebook is grueling and drooling to see.  There’s a good chance the George and Julia wedding cake/pastry will be a vegan treat creation.  Julia prefers the cute and always delicious Babycakes.  They are set up to serve the gluten-free people of the world too.  I had a mint chocolate cupcake that was so good, I wanted to buy a dozen.  Julia put a stop to that.  You seem I’m watching my weight.

Vegan Treats – 1444 Linden Street  Bethlehem, PA 18018

Babycakes – 248 Broome Street (Btwn Orchard & Ludlow) New York City, NY 10002

Korean = Hangawi    

Are you tense or have a tense friend.  Bring him/her to surrender to serenity at Hangawi.  Take off your shoes and get comfortable in the wooden seats and tables built into the floor.  Are these floorboards heated?  Yes they are.  Most people naturally whisper as you experience this restaurant and its spa-like qualities.  You’ll dine on colorful bowls of porridge, noodles, wild rice and soup.  You’ll feel like Buddha.  Have a tea and digest the cruelty-free meal you have just ingested.  Romantic and often called a vacation from the city,  Hangawi has more to offer than just food.

Hangawi 12 East 32nd Street, New York, NY10016

Japanese/Fusion = Gobo

Truth be told, this is a lot of people’s favorite restaurant.  The menu offered rice, noodle, fake meat.  It all looked pretty standard.  Make no mistake, these kids know what they are doing.  I invited a bunch of non-vegans to join me and they loved it.  I often tire of Asian-inspired vegan dishes.  The food they served had spice and flair.  So here is another fan, big fan.  Do yourself a favor and experience their flavor.

Gobo –  401 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY

Vietnamese Loving Hut

It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what Loving Hut is.  You’ve got the eccentric philanthropist Supreme Master ChingHai who preaches vegan as the path to peace.  It’s not a cult (at least I don’t think) but there is a feeling of love and energy in each restaurant.  The Supreme Master is tied to these tasty establishments.  There are now 200+ (40+in the United States).  So if you end up in a place like NaplesFlorida, there will be Loving Hut waiting for you.  Thumbs up from both of us.  Even though every Loving Hut is privately owned and operated, their menus are similar.  Julia was overjoyed with the Naples Florida Loving Hut.  I dined finely at the Atlanta one.  We have yet to experience the New York Loving Hut but I’m told it is great but small so it’s best to take it to go.- 348 7th Avenue (between 29th St & 30th St), NY,NY  over 200 locations (including over 40 in the United States)

 Loving Hut – 348 7th Avenue, NY, NY

01george and julia at champs

Ethiopian = Ghent

I consider Julia an authority on Ethiopian cuisine which sometimes gets a bad name for its mushy consistency.  I enjoy it and judging by the general health of the Ethiopian people, it is extremely good for your body.  It also happens to be an easy place to get a vegan dish without missing out on 90% of the menu.  Ghent is our favorite.  Tucked away on 4th Avenue and Douglass, there is a comfortable vibe in an unusually noisy dining room.  I think the acoustics need to be dealt with.  We eat our lentils, beans, collard greens, chick peas and more on the sour bread.  Delicious!  You don’t even need teeth to enjoy it.

Ghent 348 Douglass Street Brooklyn, NY 11217

Indian = Dawat

Dawat was Julia and I’s first date so it has a special place in our heart.  While not solely vegetarian, the waiter will set you up with a meat and ghee free combo platter.  I love the combo as Julia often jokes.  The place is a bit pricey and fancy with fine silverware and white tablecloths.  The staff can be hit or miss, some reporting irate wait staff.  What makes Dawat so great is the flavors.  Spices are ground each day and whether hot, sour or mild, your taste buds will be giddy, even euphoric.  Hands down the best I’ve had and lord knows we’ve tried a lot.  If vegan doesn’t come up, always try Indian.  Indian places recognize the word and will accommodate you pain in the ass vegans.

Dawat 210 E 58th St, New York NY10022 40.760397 -73.96639 (Btwn 2nd & 3rd Ave)

Pizza = Vinnie’s Pizzeria

Pizza is tricky as a vegan.  Sure, I make one at home with so many vegetables, you forget about the cheese.  Some pizzerias carry the cheese alternative Daiya  to accommodate their vegan customers.  We are not fans of Daiya  People use it like real cheese (too much) and the taste is overwhelming and unappealing.  So we order our pies without cheese which sometimes works (Grimaldi’s) and sometimes not (Joe’s).  We took our bikes over to Williamsburg to Vinnie’s which we heard had the best vegan pizza in town.  Yes you will have to navigate around hipsters.  Hell, Titus Andronicus played a show in Vinny’s kitchen.  So here’s what you are going to get:  7+ vegan slice options, vegan wings, vegan desserts (from vegan treats), daiya and daiya-free and tease vegan cheese options.  The crust is crispy, the sauce tangy and a little sloppy just like an ultimate New York slice only here, vegan is King.

Vinnie’s Pizzeria 148 Bedford Ave(between 8th St & 9th St)Brooklyn, NY 11211

True Original Restaurant = M.O.B. 

M.O.B. was opened by a French guy who happens to be obsessed with 80’s Brooklyn rap/graffiti culture and it shows.  As the story goes M.O.B. is vegan because the owners girlfriend is vegan.  Oh the French.  What won’t they do for love?  If you walk inside, it’ll all make sense.  The long last-supper style tables, an occasional DJ, the stoned or just super-mellow staff and the décor, oh the décor.  Everyone we ever brought there said they were going to bring an out-of-towner to experience this strange and completely unique phenomenon that is M.O.B..  Only in New York, right.  Like some vegan places, they don’t announce themselves as vegan.  In fact, when I asked if they were vegan, the waiter said, “we serve food that’s really really good for you.”  Whatever, you’ll love their grits, yucca fries, soy nuggets, M.O.B.’s (mini pizzas shaped like the Brooklyn bridge) (yes I just said that), and our personal favorite corn soup with popcorn.  Get over there before life is over.  It might just be actual heaven.

M.O.B. 525 Atlantic Avenue – Brooklyn, NY 11217

What about V-dog?

What about V-dog?

Food Truck = Cinnamon Snail

If you can find it run to it.  Boasting “Vegan Food Truck,” the Cinnamon Snail has long lines for a reason, the food is out of this world.  Come 2pm, they are usually out of everything.  I’m often pleading for the last muffin or special of the day.  So if you go, expect a line that will be worth the wait.  They do a fantastic breakfast in the morning and big hoagie sandwiches are the pride of their lunchtime.  They even have desserts so grab a donut or pastry as you head back to work.  Cinnamon Snail agreed and said they would be “stoked” to cater our wedding.  We’ll see about that.  This was an easy choice on the food trucks.  We’d like to give honorable mentions to: Palenque and Crisp.
Buffet = Govinda’s at the Hare Khrishna Center

Not only is it tasty, cheap and hearty but it is one of those best kept secrets spots.  No, they are not luring you into the Hare Krishna house to convert you although you might after you have a bite of their mango cheese cake.  It’s 90 percent vegan, so ask.  Monday-Friday, the Hare Krishna’s open their basement to the general public for a lunch buffet feast.  This Indian-inspired grub contains the freshest ingredients grown and picked that day from the Hare Krishna garden.  The food sometimes lacks spice but when you take a look at your cafeteria tray full of enough vegetables to credit you for the whole week, you’ll know you made the right decision.

Govinda’s 305 Schermerhorn Street  Brooklyn, NY 11217 (basement of the Hare Khrishna Center)

Food = Sacred Chow (George)  Alice’s Teacup Scones (Julia)      1

I was sold when I tasted Sacred Chow Mama’s Soy Meatballs.  The only vegan meatballs I could stomach and I used to be a big fan of meatballs.  Julia and I had a great brunch on Sunday.  She said the burrito was excellent.  I suspect they put mustard in my scrambled eggs which I did not like but the potatoes where to die for.  They have amazing latkes, Heroes (get Mama’s soy meatballs) and soba noodles with peanut sauce. You really can’t go wrong with this place.  It’s unique to them.  Apparently it was founded by a Candle 79 chef who wanted to do his own thing.  For dinner go tapas style so you can sample all the delectable dishes.  On a side note, you can get Sacred Chow sandwiches and desserts and the Angelika movie theatre.  Yeah, vegan friendly movie theatre!

Julia as to mention a best food choice which happens to be the only choice in an oddity in this quaint tourist trap know as Alice’s Tea Cup.  A waitress at Two Boots Brooklyn told us about Alice’s Tea Cup’s daily vegan scones.  Intrigued, we travelled and had tea and the vegan scone of the day (very-berry scone).  What the hell, it was unbelievable.  It’s like Ovenly Bakery that makes one vegan item (salted chocolate chip cookie) and whatever reason, it rises to the top and becomes famous.  The next time, I went with my Mom and the vegan scone was an mind-blowing banana-chocolate scone.  Unbelievable.  We recommend you go to the Alice’s on the West side because the East side scones are not as good.  If I’m ever in the dog house with Julia, I bring home a couple of these babies and all is forgiven.

Sacred Chow (George)  227 Sullivan Street, NYC 10012 (b/w W3 & Bleecker)

Alice’s Teacup Scones (Julia)  102 West 73rd St, NY, NY

Best Overall Restaurant = Champs Family Bakery

What makes best Restaurant?  A few things come to mind.  It’s not what you might think.  Yes, a speedy wait staff is great but at Champ’s I’ve (on occasion) had to ask for more coffee or experience a serious wait for my food.  That doesn’t really matter when you go to a really great restaurant because you want to be there.  You are not in a hurry to leave because you truly like being there and this is a moment to be treasured, not complained about.  So what makes a customer feel that way?  When Julia and I want to go out to eat and we can go anywhere and money is no object, we choose Champs.  How could that be?  You could be at Candle or Pure Food and Wine and you choose a diner?  There is only one restaurant we drive to and that’s Champs.  It’s located in a neighborhood where it is easy to park (but not always easy to navigate around).  When we come in and we are brought to our table, I feel legitimately welcomed, like there is an assumption that these people like me or at least assume they are going to like me.  Our waitress brings our water immediately, which acts as a natural excuse for a “how do you do?”  Smiles all around and I’m not sure why but I feel I’m exactly where I am supposed to be.  I don’t feel attractive, ugly or defensive, I just feel comfortable.  We look around and the decor is kitschy and homey, like an old-time diner I went to as a kid.  The booths are comfortable and there’s a positive vibe.

A Champ at Champ's

A Champ at Champ’s

Then there’s the food, diner classics vegan-style.  I don’t even like mock meats but the “chicken” fried “steak” was phenomenal.  We’ve worked our way through the menu and loved everything.  They made vegan cooking a creative challenge and redefined what vegans can eat.  I already mentioned the breakfast but let me tell you some more of our favorites:  Nachos, Kitchen Sink Salad, Chili, Bro Wrap, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Soltero Bowl, Oatmeal Cookie Crème Sandwich,  and I could go on and on.  The bottom line is we leave there a bit stuffed but always with a spring in our step.  We then go home and dream of our perfect Champ’s dinner or breakfast as we smile because it’s all good.

Champs Family Bakery 176 Aislie Street Brooklyn NY

SUPER BONUS – CUT OUT AND PUT THIS IN YOUR WALLET

_wallet

OR CUT AND PASTE THIS:

George and Julia’s NY Vegan Best of 2012 (Wallet Size)

Formal Dining = Candle 79154 East 79th Street at Lex, NY, NY

Sandwich(Julia) = Free Foods 18 West 45th Street,

Sandwich(George) = Cinnamon Snail  mobile

Sushi =  Beyond Sushi 229 East 14th Street  New York, NY 10003

Raw Food = Pure Food and Wine 54 Irving Pl (between 17th& 18th st)

Ice Cream (Julia)= One Lucky Duck 125 East 17th Street, NY, NY

Ice Cream(George) Lula’s  516 E. 6th St (btwn Ave A&B)

Breakfast = Champs Family Bakery 176 Aislie Street Brooklyn NY

Falafel = Taim 45 Spring St, NY  (new location!) & 222 Waverly Pl, NY

Burger (Julia) = Johnny Mack’s  1114 8th Ave Brooklyn, NY

Burger (George)= Zen Palate 663 9th Ave (at 46th), New York, NY

Vietnamese Sandwich (Julia) = Hanco’s 350 7th Ave. Brooklyn, NY

Vietnamese Sandwich(Geo)=Bahnmigos 178 Lincoln PlBrooklyn

Bagel = Le Bagel Delight (Julia), 122 – 7th Avenue Brooklyn

Bagel = Ess-a-Bagel (George) 831 3rd Avenue,New York, NY

Bakery (Julia)  = Babycakes 248 Broome Street NY,

Korean = Hangawi     12 East 32nd Street, New York, NY10016

Japanese/Fusion = Gobo 401 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY

Vietnamese Loving Hut  348 7th Avenue, NY, NY
Ethiopian = Ghent 348 Douglass Street Brooklyn, NY 11217

Indian = Dawat210 E 58th St, New York NY  (Btwn 2nd & 3rd Ave)

Pizza = Vinnie’s Pizzeria   148 Bedford Ave Brooklyn, NY 11211

True Original Restaurant = M.O.B.   525 Atlantic Avenue – Brooklyn,

Food Truck = Cinnamon Snail mobile check twitter
Buffet = Govinda’s Hare Khrishna 305 Schermerhorn St Brooklyn,

Food (George) = Sacred Chow227 Sullivan Street, NYC

Food (Julia) = Alice’s Teacup  102 West 73rd St, NY, NY

Overall Restaurant = Champs Family Bakery – 176 Aislie Street Bkln

Another Bonus:  Here’s a freeVegan Restaurant Guide put out by Friends of Animals

Call Me

Five Tool Stew

Matt Kemp
Photo credit: Sportsagentblog.com

It’s baseball season and in honor of the bat swinging superstars I decided to pay homage to America’s pastime with this Vegetable Stew. This stew is crowd favorite and can be very versatile just like Mike Trout, Buster Posey, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun and Josh Hamilton. It features 5 vegetables you can get all year round: Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers (mild or hot), and Beans.

3 out of 5 prepped and ready to go

Like every great superstar there needs to be solid role players and in this stew we have several great secondary ingredients: Fresh lime juice, fresh pineapple juice, garlic, fresh cilantro, tomato paste, and mexican spices. But before we field the ingredients we need to build our foundation first.

What the heck is it cooking in?

There is NO OIL involved in this. But I’m not going to say it’s entirely oil free. Grab a medium sauce pan and turn the heat to high and pour about a quarter cup of water in it. When it’s boiling (more like sizzling), drop in 1/3 of a vegetable bouillon cube (this is where a little oil sneaks in). Once the bouillon sliver dissolves turn the heat down to medium and add onions and salt. Be aware that during this process the water evaporates so in order to keep your pan from browning you might have to add tablespoons of water (I added 3).

When the onions become translucent add garlic and stir for about a minute before adding the zucchini and peppers. I allowed the zucchini and peppers to cook for about 2 minutes before adding a spoonful of tomato paste. Once tomato paste is fully mixed in, add the cherry tomatoes and zucchini insides (zucchini insides to be explained at the end).

Missing just one major ingredient: Beans

Once fully stirred, add the beans. Whatever beans are your fancy, have at it. I admittedly did not use dried beans. Instead I used 1- 14.5oz can of black beans, and 1- 14.5oz can of garbanzo (Chickpea) beans. Drained and rinsed of course.

5 big players in, now let’s round the bases for the winning run

At this point your vegetable stew isn’t quite looking like a stew at all, so we’ll need to add some liquid and spices to bind it all together. Add 1/2 of a lime juiced (if it’s not a juicy lime add a quick squeeze from the other half), and 2 tablespoon of pineapple juice. Then stir in the following mexican spices: 2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chili powder, dash of cayenne pepper, and a pinch of dried oregano.

Now that’s looking like a stew!

Once all the ingredients above are stirred in, salt and pepper to taste. To finish this veggie delight off, add 2-3 tablespoons of fresh cilantro to the stew and mix in before serving.

As I mentioned above this is very versatile and can be eaten with a spoon or served a little differently. It’s a great source of protein so I used this stew as my “meat” for my vegan and gluten-free tacos!

Topped with diced pineapple and julienned jicama for “cheese.” Avocado on bottom

Towering gluten-free vegan taco

jicama cheese adds depth and flavor

Ingredients:

Major ingredients:

  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large zucchini, boated and diced. Chop and set aside insides*
  • 3-4 small mild (or hot) peppers (or 1 large bell pepper), diced
  • 2  14.5oz can of beans of your choice, drained and rinsed

Secondary ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 2 tbs pineapple juice
  • 3 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Heaping spoonful tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional ingredients:

  • Corn tortillas (I prefer Maria and Ricardo’s brand)
  • jicama, julienned
  • avocado, sliced
  • pineapple, diced

Directions:

  1. In medium sauce pan on high heat add 1/4 cup of water and add vegetable bouillon cube. When cube is dissolved, turn down heat to medium and add onions and salt. When onions are translucent add garlic and cook for an additional minute, then add zucchini and peppers.
  2. Cook zucchini and peppers for 2-3 minutes then stir in tomato paste. Once fully stirred in, add cherry tomatoes and zucchini insides. Cook for an additional minute and stir in beans.
  3. Stir in lime juice, pineapple juice, oregano and spices. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes until liquid is noticeable. Mix cilantro into the stew and then salt and pepper to taste before serving.

* Zucchini boated and diced

I don’t like how mushy zucchinis get so I’ve been scraping out the insides, setting them to the side and then dicing/cubing the harder outside of the zucchini. Once the insides are scraped out, I cut the zucchini into 5 strips and dice into even small cubes. It keeps the consistency of each piece, and also helps create more texture in the dish.

Process of boating

I made this for my family party and it was a huge hit! The vegetarians loved it and so did the carnivores. It’s nearly fat-free, completely gluten-free, good source of protein, entirely vegan and of course super healthy!

Ethiopian in Connecticut

One of my all time favorite cuisines is Ethiopian food. I just can’t get enough of the vibrant spices and the complex taste! I’m always very excited when I come across an Ethiopian restaurant and this time around I visited the only Ethiopian eatery I know of in the Hartford area: Abyssinian Restaurant. I’ve been coming to this place for years but never visited as a vegan. It does have 4 cows on Happy Cow, but how did it really hold up?

I’ve always meant to try the Mexican restaurant to the left of this place, but the Ethiopian aroma gets me every time.

Amazing. Absolutely stunning and unbelievable. One of my best friends (now a recently turned vegan) and I mentioned to the host that we were vegan, and when we placed our order he reaffirmed “No butter, but oil?” We nearly started dancing on the table tops because this showed attention to detail and a lot of times you put your trust in cooks to make it vegan. This time, he MADE sure it was vegan. We ordered the vegetable combo (#24 on the menu) and it was super filling although looked a little sparse.

Consisted of beets (yuck), split peas, lentils, cabbage, bean curd (?), potatoes, and collard greens, and spicy lentil (aka Yemiser wet) in the middle. We got extra spicy potatoes too.

We also indulged ourselves with Sambusas to start. A Sambusa is very similar to a Samosa all you Indian cuisine lovers out there who are new to Ethiopian and African food. To say the least we were very full and very satisfied. For being one of the very few (possibly only) Ethiopian restaurant in Hartford, we’ll keep coming back.

nom noms

Abyssinian Restaurant

535 Farmington Ave.

Hartford, CT 06105

860-218-2231

Gluten-Free Zucchini Boats

I’ve returned to Connecticut after spending a few weeks out on the road, and when I came back the garden was overflowing. When I went foraging I saw some of the peppers were ready for picking and the cherry tomatoes were coming in like gangbusters. I also came across a massive zucchini, which left me entirely stumped on what to do with a vegetable the size of a toddlers leg.

The perfect ingredients to make a primavera… but where’s the creativity in that?

I had a bad case of cookers block. So I did what anyone with any kind of mental block would do… go on facebook and then google random stuff. That’s where I got my inspiration to make a zucchini boat (aka zucchini pizza). I’m using quinoa and sunflower seeds as the protein and the cool thing about quinoa is that it’s a complete protein, which means that it has all nine amino acids. Sunflower seeds offers the amino acid Lysine and increases protein to any dish. But use sunflower seeds in moderation because although they do contain heart-healthy fats, they are high in calories.

Too much talking, grab a spoon already and start scraping!

So first things first, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and start making your quinoa (1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water). Then go grab a spoon and gut the zucchinis. Don’t go too deep when scraping because you want to keep the shape of the zucchini while it bakes and not get mushy. Set aside the insides to be used in the filler. You can coat the inside of the zucchini boats with oil or vegan shortening. I used sunflower spray oil sparingly.

Place gutted zucchinis on a pan with foil.

Chop up your vegetables. This recipe can be varied any way you want it to be, but I’ll list what I used:

  • 1 cup oregano and basil mixture chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 hot peppers diced
  • pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup kale chopped
  • 1/3 cup mango minced (set a tablespoon or so aside)

    From top left and going clockwise: Kale, cherry tomatoes, zucchini innards, basil/oregano mix (mostly basil), hot peppers.

In a skillet spray a little oil or use 2 tablespoons of sauce as oil replacer (like tomato sauce or peanut butter, depends on what kind of flavor you’re aiming for). I used vegan pesto as my oil replacer.

Hello Pesto!

Directions:

On medium to low heat, add your minced garlic first, cook for a minute or two. Then add your peppers and cook them for another minute. Add zucchini, tomatoes, and herbs. Stir in for another minute then add quinoa, sunflower seeds, mango and kale and stir together for another minute or two. Then salt and pepper to taste.

What fun colors and textures

I didn’t use the entire pot of quinoa. I actually used less than half of it. I used as much as I cared to use, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way on this. I used about 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds. Once the filling has reached my desired texture (I didn’t want to overcook the kale), I spooned it into the zucchini boats and topped it with mango bits so it looked like cheese.

Fill ‘er up!

Close up before it heads to the oven

Place the pan into the oven and cook the zucchini boats for about 15-20 minutes. I would personally keep them in for closer to 20 minutes but not much more than that. Don’t want the boats to capsize and break.

When done cut in half and serve

Have fun when you make your version of a zucchini boat! This is a dish I could see in the Engine 2 Diet

Newburyport Challenge

My job takes me all over the Eastern Seaboard and for this weekend it has brought me to where the shoreline of Massachusetts meets New Hampshire: Newburyport. This beach town, which hosted the first US Coast Guard station, is known for it’s copious amounts of seafood. Restaurants billboards bleed announcements of Lobster and Steaks. I knew coming to the salt dusted streets of this quaint fisherman’s paradise would be a task for a vegan. Taking a page out of the Tea Party (1770’s Tea tax rebellion posse, not Sarah Palin’s contingent), the idea of rebellion is rooted in Newburyport.

First act of rebellion, not staying in your standard chain hotel. My boss really didn’t appreciate this.

So my boss and I headed to downtown Newburyport and after asking some locals of where to go to get a good inexpensive meal, they suggested the Grog. We ignored them because there was no outside seating. So instead we ended up at Not Your Average Joes. They had a huge patio for outside seating and with the ocean breeze and the cooling evening air, it was perfect. The food was average though. However, not being a particularly vegan friendly place, the server was pretty attentive to my culinary restrictions. Once he knew that I wouldn’t eat any animal products, he went to the kitchen to relay the message to the chef, and came back to me with a chef’s challenge: Anything on the menu can be alter to be vegan, except for the veggie burger because that’s already pre-made and has dairy in it.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone eating a lettuce sandwich and right then and there I decided, why yes, I will have the Chicken Thai Lettuce Wraps for my meal but please hold the chicken. Well it came out moments later and instead of chicken there appeared to be julienned peppers, oranges, peanuts, onions, snow peas, and banana peppers sitting delicately in a lettuce bowl. It was light and refreshing and I enjoyed it.

Three little lettuce leaves sitting in a row…

After having a relaxing dinner at Not Your Average Joes, we wandered across the street to grab some homemade gelato. If there’s homemade frozen treats there’s always homemade sorbet. Well low and behold there was! So I ordered the lemon sorbet and it was so tart and delicious. And the servings are massive. I had one scoop and it was very impressive in size.

Evening cap of lemon sorbet. My vegan go-to dessert.

Overall the Newburyport Challenge has been relatively easy. If we were to eat at the Grog, they had a number of dishes that could be made vegan. There’s a little sandwich shop, The Purple Onion, which is vegan and vegetarian friendly. So vegans looking for some beach time, think about Newburyport, the restaurants can accommodate you. Plus there’s some great vegan places here and a few juice shops too.

Plan B goes for the V

In Hartford County, Plan B Burger Bar perfected the burger and bourbon trade. But how does this place stand with the V’s?

Not too bad. Though, when you ask if the veggie burger is vegan they give you a quizzical look at first and say, “yeah, but I’ll double check for you. It’s not gluten free though.”
Turns out that the veggie burgers are indeed free of all animal products. If vegan and gluten-free is how you roll, Plan B also has a portobello mushroom burger… And portobello fries. Maybe they should consider getting some polenta fries too, just saying…

Overall it was a great veggie burger and throw some jalapeños on there and it’s dynamite.

Plan B has a number of locations throughout Connecticut and the newest location is in Stamford. So you New York people can hop on the Metro North and experience a superb vegan burger. The wait staff is very friendly too. Highly suggested.

The Seed: The Verdict on my Vegan Experience

To me, critiquing the Seed is like critiquing a religious outing.  If I had come into the whole thing, “deciding on whether to become” vegan then I might have an objective view to share.  So keep in mind that I am speaking from within the cult, not as an outside observer of said-cult (I mean lifestyle).  There was so much to take in so I will continue to discuss over the next few days.  Here’s a quick conclusion on this monumental (told you it wouldn’t be objective) event.

The Organization

While several angry vegans were irritated at the fact that they got in 20 minutes late (because of the long line) I think it was very well put together.  I was a bit annoyed at the fact that I, an early bird paid 30 dollars for a two day pass, while most used a groupon and were admitted for 10 bucks a day.  The speakers were introduced clearly, there was signage, and it was everything an event should be.  I also think there was a balanced representation of the various vegan camps including, athletes, anti-animal cruelty, alternative energy, restaurants/food, medical experts, and cruelty-free fashion. If it were my event, I may not have put the Vitamix guy next to the main stage.  Those things are noisy (the Vitamix machine was also noisy).

The Food

I saw a friend from a vegan meetup group I belong to who agreed with me that there was a surprisingly small amount of food for purchase.  I came hungry and walked right past the Cinnamon Snail (which was parked in front of the venue).  For the amount of people there, to buy a taco or sandwich you had like four options (including The Regal Vegan, Food Swings and the Love Bug).  Those few venders must have made mucho bucks.  There were plenty of restaurants represented but they where only giving out samples.  The V-spot and Wild ginger had great samples but they were not meals.

The collection of restaurant and vegan products was impressive.  I was especially fond with the Vegan Bodega’s olive dips, Lucky Duck’s raw macaroons, and Blossom’s Cordon Bleu.  It was a great opportunity to see these folks shine.  I think everyone would agree that there was too much chocolate at this event.

There were also a lot of nutritional supplements and bars.  Protein was a controversial topic at The Seed.  Some of the offered protein solutions were called unnecessary and even dangerous by some of the medical professionals at the event.  Conflict!

Many products were being sold by speakers from the event.  For example Dr. Fuhrman has a line of nutrient-rich soups and Professional Athlete Brendan Brazier owns of the Plant Power/Vega protein powders and smoothies.

Vitamix Me Impressed

The Activists

You have your morality vegan and your dietary vegan.  I was concerned that these groups might not mix and even fight. Well, I was wrong.  Everyone played nicely together.  There were various animal sanctuaries, shelters, charities and groups like PETA (although I don’t think I saw PETA).  There is a lot of cross over within the vegan world.  Some buy food based on production methods and if they happen to give to animal groups.  Obviously being vegan alone is an animal-kind gesture.  Other activists included alternative energy sources and tables on politics.

The Merchandise

Because Bust Magazine sponsored the event, there was a “Craftacular” portion of the event.  Craft not Craptacular.  There was a great offering of cruelty-free purses, jewelry and clothing.  It was not my thing, but it seems a lot of folks liked it.

The Classes

Yoga Local was giving classes.  I only mention it because I am really into yoga right now.  I did not partake because of my tight jeans.  I tried to grab a cashew milk they were handing out but it was only for yoga participants.  I was not happy with that, Yoga Local.  I missed the Yoga and the milk.

There were plenty of cooking demos representing books that were on sale.  In addition there were several panels on anything from travel to blogging.  Good stuff, all of it.  The Vitamix guy had a demo going every 15 minutes.  I didn’t buy one but like I said, that cashew ice cream was unbelievable and he appeared to make it in less than 5 minutes.

The Crowd

Attendance was great.  It was a packed house. There were good vibrations all around.  I had several very nice conversations with people about various vegan issues.  I think there was enough room for everything.   Even at its most crowded, I still managed.  The crowd was about 80% women.  I’m not sure why.  I met someone who said it was because generally, men don’t take care of themselves.  They provide.  They hunt.  It really wasn’t meant to be a slam on men.

The Flicks

Several vegan classics were shown including everyone’s favorites “Forks Over Knives” and “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.”  Most people I had talked to had already seen both of them.  Perhaps some smaller vegan movies could have been shown.  I was happy to see “Vegucated” playing with a Q&A from director Marisa Miller Wolfson.  Vegucated is a great mixture of all the parts of being vegan.  It was a perfect place to show it even though it was a little preaching to the choir.  I wanted to interview Marisa for the blog but she was so busy talking to people.  Good for her.

The Talent

I’ll talk about most of the speakers individually in later posts.  To me, the speakers are the meat or should I say vegetable of the conference.  I pessimistically thought they would choose all doctors or all animal rights.   The truth is everyone was represented and I learned a lot.  I was most interested in the nutritional talks and thought it was interesting that the speakers did not often agree with one another.  Conflict!  There was a great mix of perspectives.  I kind of wish they had gotten a movie, television or rock celebrity.  Doesn’t Alec Baldwin live down the street?  What about Ted Leo?  Alicia Silverstone?

The Verdict

A success! Next year Julia must come.  I missed her and each night, we talked about my experiences for hours on the telephone. There was too much vegan junk food but hey, what’s a carnival without fried foods and sugar.  I went to be motivated to stay vegan.  I wanted to see that I was not alone, that I had mass amount of people, medical professional, athletes, restaurants and retailers that supported and lived the vegan life. I came out of it exhausted from information overload.  I also walked out, pleased with my vegan decision.

Garden Pasta

Food for recovery

All the vegetables, except the corn, are fresh from the garden. So what’s in this?

  • Tbs garlic
  • 1/2 cup of peas (maybe a touch more)
  • 1 cup cubed zucchini
  • 1/2 cup of sweet corn (maybe a touch more)
  • 1/3 cup herb mix (basil, oregano, parsley and chives)

The pasta is a brand called Jovial and it’s gluten free brown rice pasta. Yum

  1. I pre cooked the pasta and set it aside. It was slightly undercooked. It gets fully cooked in the pan when it joins the vegetable medley.
  2. What I did was put a quarter cup of tomato sauce (probably less) in the pan, threw the zucchini and garlic with it and covered the pan. Heat was on low. It was covered for about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Then I threw the corn and peas in with 2 spoonfuls of vegan pesto. Heated that for about 2 minutes. Then I added the pasta turned the heat to medium and stirred it all together for another 2 minutes. At the very end I mixed in the herbs.

This has a good serving of protein, and is low in fat and sodium. I guess I won’t need that protein powder…

Soupy surprise

I tore through Dr. McDougall’s soups. That’s why they’re not as organized as Fig’s. Sorry Whole Food employee who has to reorganize.

I had surgery today and afterwards I headed over to whole foods to find some soft foods to eat later today. Well to make a long story short, in the soup isle there were a bunch of organic pre-made soups. Most weren’t vegan (but they were vegetarian) but Dr.McDougall’s and Fig Food Co were totally vegan friendly. Fig contains soy but the ole Dr. kept it vegetable focused and heeded no soy warnings.

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