Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Weird Fish

I have wanted to go to Weird Fish for a very long time. It seemed like the perfect restaurant for me and my hubby, the pescetarian. The only animals they serve are fishies, and they have plenty of vegan options for the rest of us. Why it took so long to appear on my radar is beyond me. Maybe because it's not on OpenTable (to which I am a slave)? Maybe because it's at Mission and 18th and I'm normally one block over on Valencia (at either ChaYa, Herbivore, Osha, or Dosa)? No matter the reason, it took me way too long to get there.

In addition to the 6 months or so since I first heard about this kooky place, I then had to add another 5 minutes driving around trying to figure out where it is. I finally guessed correctly that is was the joint with all the folks outside waiting to get in. No, the black facade, lack of sign, and "weird" half horse/half mermaid thingy did not tip me off. :) But, back to the waiting people: WF doesn't take reservations, but they will put your name on the list, take your phone number and call you when the table is ready. We happily obliged and headed one block down to the Beauty Bar for a beer. Well, my companions had beer anyway. I don't do well with alcohol on an empty stomach and I was HUNGRY. However, I happily noted that the BB has Blue Moon Beer on tap. Yum.

When we got called, we sauntered back only to find our table still had people lingering over dessert. I guess they wanted to give us enough time in case we had wandered a bit further. Fair enough. We were seated in about 5 minutes and right away I loved the place. First of all, it's tiny and cute. Second of all, the napkins are bandanas. Thirdly, all the staff seemed pretty happy to be there. And then there's the food. My fish-loving (fish-hating is probably more appropriate since they wanted to kill and eat them) friends had a variety of items from clam chowder to fish and chips and the "Suspicious Fish Dish." The latter is a surprise every day - a full meal of some kind of fish that comes with all the fixin's. It turned out to be tuna that night I believe.... but I digress. Let's get to the good stuff. :)

WF does fish tacos, but even better, they have three vegan tacos - a tofu taco, a yam taco, and a seitan taco which they cutely call the "hell taco." A fan of fun language, I ordered the latter, with a side of the vegan tortilla soup, complete with vegan sour cream. They were sadly out of vegan cheese, but these hellish bites were complete heaven without it. Two small corn tortillas arrived on my plate (above) full of bbq'd seitan, avocado, and a mango salsa that was, for lack of a better word, dope. Fresh bright flavors that I could have eaten a lot more of and, since the prices are so great, it wouldn't have been a problem to order more even in these uncertain times. Alas, I decided to save it for next time... and there will definitely be a next time.

Since two of my "partners on dine" were out-of-towners, I thought we should finish the evening with a stroll down to San Francisco's own Ritual Roasters. We made it just before they closed, and we all reveled in our delicious decaf Americanos. I eyeballed the selection of vegan yums in the display (right) but was sated and happy, though sad to see my time with my friends come to an end. If anyone else wants to come to town to dine, just let me know. I'm always up for it. We can even go back to Weird Fish, a definite fave for vegans and others alike.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I am sad to say that up until my 18th year on this planet, I had never eaten Indian food. This is not to say I did not have Indian friends - quite the contrary - so I really have no excuse. It wasn't as popular as it is now, and I suppose I just thought I wouldn't like it. Then came the epiphany. Only a few days into my college experience, I was dragged my new pal from Vermont to the local Indian joint. Needless to say, I was pissed I'd waited so long, and now it is one of my most favorite cuisines. What I didn't know, however, was that North and South Indian food are two very different things. I was totally sold on the roti and curries (aloo gobi....mmmmm.....) of Northern India, but had no idea about the world's most perfect food: The Dosa.

Even upon moving to SF, a pretty culturally diverse place, at least in terms of food, I was still unexposed to South Indian cooking. This is truly a disgrace considering I moved here to be with my boyfriend (now husband) who's entire family is from Madras, in Southern India. In fact, there is a large South Indian population in the bay area, but up until recently, all the South Indian eateries were in the South or East Bay - none in SF. Then along came Dosa. At first, it got some pretty bad reviews for being slightly more Californian than Indian, and it does have a CA twist to it, but all my friends and my husband love it. Only a few months ago, Udupi opened an outpost only one block away for those wanting the more traditional (read: no frills) fare. We love Udupi too (hell, they catered our wedding) but when in the neighborhood, Dosa always wins. Maybe it's the more cosmopolitan ambiance, the high ceilings and orange walls, or maybe it's the fact that they serve one of my favorite wines (Sula Chenin Blanc), but really I think it's just the food.

To start, they have the best salad in the city: The organic greens with mango and walnuts in a sweet cilantro dressing. Vegans, just ask for it without the goat cheese. And that brings me to another thing I love about this place. Mention you're vegan and your knowledgeable server will tell you everything that you can eat or that can be modified. This way you can get your masala dosa sans ghee. Speaking of which, you must get at least one of the namesake items while here. In India, dosas are breakfast food, but you won't care what time it is once you try one - like a giant burrito, but with a paper-thin tortilla, these savory wonders are filled with light and fluffy potatoes and spices. That gives you your basic masala dosa. Add-ons are encouraged, but I like it plain and simple. No matter what you choose, your dosa is served up with rasam (a smoky tomato/lentil soup) and two chutneys - coconut and tomato - both of which are vegan. I always leave Dosa feeling like I just had the perfect meal, and last night was no exception.

Last night was exceptional, however, in that I ordered dessert. I never have here, as I'm usually quite full, but it had been a long day, and my dining companions were all about it, so I tried the Deep Chocolate Vegan Sorbet. OMG. "Deep chocolate" doesn't even being to explain how chocolate-y this is. I loved it so much and all the people I shared with agreed. It was amazing.

For me, Dosa is a look into my husband's dining ancestry, a reminder of our own trip to Southern India 2 years ago, and a simply divine culinary experience every time. I recommend you try it soon. Here are some pictures: My salad, my dosa, the sorbet, and my tattoo which reads "vegetarian" in Tamil, my husband's family's language, just to prove my dedication. :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I had a great time at the wedding and am slowly getting back into the swing of things. One quick recommendation before I name my favorite of the day. If you're ever chillin' out in central New Jersey, nearby Route 130 to be specific, you should definitely hit up the Americana Diner. Luckily we made reservations for our party of 12 because I have never seen a restaurant so busy. I mean that. It was a Saturday night, but people were hanging out in the parking lot and busting out the doors. In any event, we got it and were seated right away. Score. It's a pretty cool place with a lounge/bar and regular dining area, and (drum roll please...) all three of their vegetarian entrees are vegan! Your "others" will have pages upon pages of things to choose from, while you'll get to pick between a stuffed pepper, stir-fry, and (my choice) a roasted eggplant stuffed with tons of veggies. Yum.

Okay, onto my fave for today. As someone who is pretty careful with what she puts in her body, I shy away from chemical sweetners. I practically nursed on Diet Coke so my brain is riddled enough by aspartame, thank you very much, and Splenda ain't much better. Don't try to give me that "made from sugar so it's safe" BS either. All you have to do is google "splenda side effects" and you'll get stuff like this and this.

All of this is a round-about way of saying that I still will drink things with Splenda in them occasionally. Why? I like the taste of it I guess. Well, that and it is calorie-free after all. So, when I saw that "natural" soda company Hansen's had diet sodas as well, I tried them. The ginger ale is great, but the light ginger flavor becomes overwhelmed (read: bitter) by the Splenda. Root Beer was better, and perfect in a float with some vegan vanilla ice cream. But then, last night, the most delicious diet soda I've ever had came across my lips: Hansen's Diet Black Cherry. This bad boy is dessert in a can, and I swear you'd never know it was "diet." If you see it on a shelf near you, try it out. But don't go overboard, people. That stuff'll kill ya!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wedding Fave

I'm packing my bags and heading back to NJ (was there a month ago, remember?) for a wedding, so I thought my favorite thing for today should be wedding-related. I don't know about you, but my favorite part of the wedding is the cake. OK, so that's not really true, but it would be if all wedding cakes were vegan! Unfortunately, I am usually left with nothing but decaf loaded with sugar to sate my sweet tooth at weddings. Luckily, there are plenty of bakeries out there looking to change that. On that note, my fave for today was my fave on my own wedding day: Hannah's Edible Art. We went with the more traditional flavors, but were incredibly tempted by all the exotic offerings at our tasting. Combinations like almond and mango or green tea and lemon were out of this world, but no matter what wins over your palate, your eyes won't believe how beautiful these cakes are! That one in the picture is our actual cake. If only I could recreate it and bring a slice with me to NJ. Alas, it'll most likely be decaf for me this time around, but it's all about the love anyway...... right?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Marin Brewing Company

I like beer. Vinophile that I am, it has taken me a while to get to a point where I can say this with ease. At first I was turned off by the bitterness, my taste buds all confused with hops and malt and suds. But now I revel in trying a new brew, and so, with a gift certificate in hand, the husband and I headed up to Larkspur yesterday to have lunch at Marin Brewing Company.

First I will say that this day started off bad. I have tried to set up hang gliding three times now and all three times the weather has not been deemed acceptable by my instructors. So, the plan to hang glide off Mt. Tamalpais and then head to lunch turned into hiking the Dawn Falls Trail and then heading to lunch. The weather actually cleared a bit and it turned into a lovely day. So, while I didn't get to cross hang gliding off my life list just yet, we did have a great time getting out of the city and enjoying some nature... and beer.

As with most brewing companies, the beer is the main attraction and my Mt. Tam Pale Ale was quite good. Light and hoppy, with a sort of blueberry aftertaste. Not the best beer I've ever had, but decent.

The food was also pretty standard. I will say that I emailed in advance to find out if their veggie burger patties were vegan and I received a prompt reply that they contained eggs. I appreciate such honesty in an establishment. So, with burgers not an option, I went with the veggie club; avocado, sprouts, tomato, and lettuce on whole wheat (I held the mayo and cheese). This came with steak fries and a pickle. Gotta love the pickle. All in all, the food was okay, but nothing to write home about. Kudos to them for having a good number of vegetarian options (the husband loved his black bean burger) but they come up short for vegans.

Like I said, we had a gift certificate which prompted this visit, but I doubt we'll be back..... especially since Pizzeria Picco is also in Larkspur and makes the best marinara pie on the planet. Seriously. More on that soon I hope. Meanwhile, it's time to grab my Wolaver's, eat some hummus and watch some football!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cupcakes are Go(o)d

Okay, so there was one thing I was pretty unhappy about at Frisee: A complete lack of vegan dessert. They played nice and offered some fruit, but I wasn't feeling it. Luckily, I was sated and happy enough to linger with my cup of decaf. Then, as I was happily strolling back to my car, I remembered that Harvest Ranch Market, a mere one block from Frisee, carried the infamous Black China Bakery Cupcake. I walked in, spotted them, and then continued to walk around the store in contemplation. You see, these cupcakes are like whole meals - the icing alone is an instant cavity, and the experience of eating one, in my opinion, must be prepared for both physically (starvation) and mentally ("Okay, body, here comes a serious sugar surge and crash!). So, while I eyeballed them for a while, I knew I didn't have it in me. I mean, just look at the picture. So rich, so dense, and so they are my favorite for today even though I haven't had one in a while. One of these days I'll get down to the actual bakery in Santa Cruz to have one super-fresh style... and then not eat the whole rest of the day. :)

My stop at Harvest was not a total loss however: I discovered that Field Roast, a soy-free veggie company, makes Italian Sausages. I haven't tried them yet, but I hope they become a favorite in the near future. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Imagine this: It's a typically foggy and blustery San Francisco evening, but the Castro is abuzz with people leaving work, young lovers strolling about, and two good friends meeting up for dinner. The friends arrive at exactly the same time, have exactly the same reaction to the restaurant, and order exactly the same thing. The time was 6pm, the reaction was "Hmm, kind of minimal and sparse, but nice" and the order was the Dinner Salad and the Whole Wheat Vegan Ravioli. You have now envisioned last night's dinner experience.

Frisee was a place I've wanted to try ever since finding them on OpenTable. They are perfect for this blog in that they have at least one clearly marked vegan entree at all times, along with numerous consumables for the "others." So, while I still think the overall decor and feel of the place could be much more warm and homey, the menu alone will bring me back. As for my "other": Well, let's just say that if I keep converting people (or at least convincing them to eat LESS meat) at this rate I'll have no "others" in my life. Wouldn't that be fantastic....

Ambiance aside, the food was really good. I mean, the dinner salad was your standard fare, and I had to order mine sans cheese, candied pecans, and butter-brushed crostini, but the balsamic vinaigrette was nice and sweet, which I like, so it was still enjoyable overall. And, yes, it contained some frisee. :) The ravioli (pictured below), on the other hand, was fantastic. Big discs filled with butternut squash encircled a mound of spinach which was topped (cherry-on-a-sundae-style) with dried apricots. The entire dish was then smothered in a rich tomato sauce with pumpkin seeds and basil. A nice combination of sweet and savory, it really hit the spot and warmed me up.

So, while it's not a new favorite or anything, I'm happy to know it's there, and I'll go back - maybe for brunch next time. The tofu scramble sounds really good!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Favorites From Last Night's Dinner

The previous entry contains all the information about our dinner last night, in case you missed it. Everything was delicious, but I thought it only appropriate to tell you what my favorites were. I know I should just pick one thing, but there were two stars of the show: The Dr. Cow cheese, and the "Aubergine" spread from Affi's. The former shocked me with it's spot-on cheese consistency. I had the "Aged Cashew Cheddar" variety and, while I'm not sure it tasted just like cheddar, it was really really good and didn't have any of the spongey slimyness that soy-based cheeses can have. The picture on the left shows our "his and hers" cheese plate, with his real stuff on the left, and the Dr. Cow on the right. As someone who's missed cheese and crackers, I am delighted to finally have something to fill the void.

While the cashew cheese was a revelation, the eggplant spread was just really damn tasty. With a texture somewhere between hummus and tapenade, this smoky and slightly spicy concoction went really well with the cheese. It could easily take the place of olives on an any cheese plate because it has those deep earthy flavors, just without the brine aspect. Of course, I'd eat it just slathered on some bread with tomatoes too. Or simply dolloped upon a cracker, as seen on the right.

So there you have it. We had a lovely evening dining at home. The pics below are just some other shots - the salad, the bread, my wine out on the balcony, and the last bit of light over the GG bridge. But lest you think I've gone completely domestic, we are headed out to old favorite Roti tonight and I'm finally hitting up Frisee later in the week, a place which seems equally friendly to both vegans and others. Kind of like me!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sunny Day Fave

We are in the midst of a full-on heat wave in San Francisco - something I relish because it doesn't happen very often and it tends to be over quickly. As it also happens to be a Saturday, there was no better place to be in the city this morning than the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. My favorite for today, it is chock full of goodies for vegans and others alike. I love to stroll around, taking in the smells and the views and, of course, the samples. The husband and I are planning a wine and cheese evening at home, so I stocked up on some great bread from Della Fattooria, a jar of McEvoy olives, Affi's yummy eggplant spread, some rosemary salt from Eatwell Farm, and tons of fresh veggies for a big salad. I also got my husband some organic cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. How will the cheese part of this evening play out for me you ask? Well, I am way too psyched to try the little wheel of Dr. Cow cashew cheese I got the other day. Rainbow is currently one of the only places you can purchase this delight outside of New York, and foodies - both vegan and non - are going gaga over it. We'll be opening up the Robert Sinskey vineyard reserve and picnicking on the balcony. Life in San Francisco can be pretty sweet. Below are just some pictures of today's favorite from today. I'm off to get back outside. Enjoy the weekend wherever you are!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Would-Be Favorite

I've recently given up soy after reading some scary stuff about it's effects on women of childbearing age (that would be me), and I'm sad to say that I'm finding these little beans, or their derivatives, are in nearly everything. I mean, obviously the tofu dogs and burgers and other fake meats have to go, but I was never into them much anyway. The real killer for me? Earth Balance. I could write odes to its buttery-goodness.... goodness derived in part from soybean oil. Ugh. Thus began my search for a dairy-free and soy-free butter substitute. It actually wasn't too hard to find some, but they all contain partially hydrogenated oils, and I just don't swing that way. So, now I am having a moment of "Oh-my-good-lord-everything-on-the-planet-is-bad-for-me" and wishing I didn't give a rat's ass about my health or animals or the planet. But, alas, I do care, and so it is with hope that I declare dairy-free, soy-free, and trans-fat-free margarine as my would-be favorite of the day. Oh, and if it could also be organic, that'd be fantastic. Thanks.

For more info on soy click here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I just tasted something interesting and unlike anything I've had before. Since that doesn't happen all that often, I thought I'd name Terramazon's Yacon Slices my favorite thing of the day. Yacon is apparently a tuber full of good-for-you prebiotics and fiber, while being insanely low in calories. It says right on the package that it is reminiscent of melon and that the slices are "petal-like" and I think that about covers it. The taste is not very strong though - kind of like a less sweet melon. I think melon mixed with potato myself, but try them to see what you think. I got mine at the Real Food Company in SF, but you can get them online by clicking "Buy Now" at the link above.