Friday, November 28, 2008


As someone who loves food, Thanksgiving is right up there on my list of favorite holidays. I'm still in a bit of a food coma - mainly because I just had an early dinner of leftovers - so I'm going to keep this short and just share the menu and some pictures. By the way, all the links are to the actual products I used.

I set the table (including some vegan chocolate turkey place holders) for our small gathering early and then started baking oatmeal chocolate chip banana cookies. When those were done, it was time to start getting the tofurky ready. I didn't make one last year, so I'm not sure when the basting liquid recommendation on the box changed, but the one they have now with the sage and soy sauce is so yummy! We started our meal with a fig, fennel, and pistachio salad in raspberry vinaigrette.
Honestly, it was awesome, and I could have been happy eating only that. But this is Thanksgiving of course, so also on the menu were mashed potatoes made with soy milk and earth balance, roasted brussel sprouts and carrots, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. And of course it all got a healthy dose of gravy.

For dessert, we had pumpkin pie a la mode with whipped cream. Oh, and of course those cookies we made earlier. Yum. It was a great day, and continues to be a great weekend. It's hard to believe, but I actually have dinner plans coming up, so I'll be back to the restaurant talk soon. The eating season is truly upon us. Enjoy... and be thankful. I know I am.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hooray Udupi!

I'm already in Thanksgiving mode, but I wanted to pop in real quick and tell you about the best authentic South Indian food in the city: Udupi Palace. I have to say authentic because I still love Dosa with all my heart, but let's face it, you're not finding a mixed green salad with walnuts, mango, and a cilantro vinaigrette on the streets of Chennai. Udupi, on the other hand, is the real deal. They have other locations - one in Berkeley and one in Sunnyvale - and the latter actually catered our wedding, but since we hate to drive (especially over the Bay Bridge) we rarely get to eat the good stuff. I was a little worried that they would have SF-ed it up (higher prices, fancier plates, etc.) but it's still the good old Udupi. Ok, the prices are maybe a little higher, but considering how much higher the rent must be, who can blame them? We still had 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, and 2 beers for $38. Can't beat it. The flavors are to die for - and there's no meat in site! The "others" don't seem to mind though because it's all so yummy. The memory of my rasam and masala dosa still linger on my palate. Alas, all that's left is this picture:

Have a wonderful Thanks"living" everyone. I'll be sure to post pictures of our vegan feast soon after. Oh, and if you're around San Francisco on Friday, come be a part of Fur Free Friday. See you there!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cafe Nook

Yesterday was a bright and sunny day and, shockingly enough, the husband and I had no plans. When we tired of laying around the house, we decided to get some grub. I always keep a "restaurants to try" list, and right at the top was a neighborhood place that seemed perfect for lunch: Cafe Nook. Now, it isn't quite in our neighborhood, but it's only a 20 minute walk away, so I'm going to let it count. Nook is over on Hyde Street in Russian Hill, which is an area of town I just adore. There are some restaurants and wine bars and the cable cars come through, giving it a real old school San Francisco charm. We entered the cafe right before the lunch rush, snagged a table, and settled in for some good grub. I ordered the mixed greens in balsamic dressing, and the portion of greens was huge. Perfect for me, since I love me some greens. I also got the hummus and olive tapenade plate, which was delicious. Here are pics of both:

They have a pretty good selection of sandwiches, one of which was vegan, and they also have vegan desserts (yesterday they had a cherry pie which looked awesome). I wasn't that hungry though, so I'll have to go back for a carbo-load some other day. I am just happy to have found a close by, un-stuffy, vegan-friendly cafe round these parts. I'd recommend Cafe Nook for a lingering brunch or lunch anytime.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How do they do it?

That was the question both myself and my husband had after trying our new favorite tomato soup. Imagine has been making some great organic soups for a while (I am also a big fan of the butternut squash) but this tomato concoction takes the cake. Creamy, yet containing no cream - not even soy milk - and with just the right savory flavor happening. It's also great as a base if you want to add some beans and spinach or whatever. This little wonder is perfect at the end of a cold day. Since more of those are on the way, I suggest you pick yourself up some. Every health store I've ever been in carries them, so you have no excuse. Now go!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Favorite Vegan Staple

Just wanted to take a minute to give some love to my dear friend hummus. A chickpea creation unlike any other, this creamy tahini and garlic mash sits perfectly atop a pita chip, a salad, or in a good sandwich. It's devotees are many, and they have so many options these days! Every supermarket has at least a few different hummus choices - from standard plain to red pepper and extra garlic - and I love them all. These days, though, when I hit up Rainbow, I've been grabbing Yousef's*.

It is of the plain variety and contains only some chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley and salt. It's great just like that, but it also makes a good base if I want to get creative and add some cumin or cayenne or chopped olives. (Mmmm, olives....) I hate runny hummus, and Yousef's is nice and thick. Pick some up next time you're out, and let me know what your fave hummus is while you're at it. I'm always open to suggestions!

*In searching for a link to Yousef's on the web, this was all I could find - a write up about a hummus contest in which Yousef's placed 3rd. Congrats, Yousef!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

So (Freakin') Delicious

I went shopping and got all the components of the vegan Thanksgiving feast I plan on creating. Well, all the things that wouldn't go bad between now and then anyway. One such item was vanilla ice cream to accompany the vegan pumpkin pie I plan on getting. Trying to avoid soy, I opted for the new Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream. This is the latest offering from Turtle Mountain, which has other ice creams under the labels So Delicious, Soy Delicious, and Purely Decadent, all of which are very yummy. Right off the bat, I was impressed by the nutrition label. 150 calories per 1/2 cup is about 50 less than the soy versions, and there are remarkably few ingredients. It's pretty much just coconut milk, vanilla, and agave. I was a little worried, however, that the coconut flavor would be overwhelming, especially when paired with the pie. Therefore, I decided to test it out tonight. All in the name of a good Thanksgiving, right? :)

Oh man. The stuff is great; not coconut-y at all! I can't wait to try the other flavors, especially the cookie dough. I managed to leave enough for Thanksgiving... but there is more than a week between now and then, so I'm not making any promises. I highly recommend you try this stuff. Even my favorite "other" (the husband) was impressed. Let me know what you think if you try it yourself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Last night my husband and I braved the bridge and headed east to Berkeley to meet some friends for dinner. The traffic was fairly miserable, but so is the proximity of a BART station to our apartment, so driving seemed to make more sense. Despite the commute, we were in good spirits. We knew the company would be good, and we had a hunch the food would be as well. Finally, I got my ass to Fellini.

I've been wanting to try this place for the longest time, and after my parents gave it rave reviews (they actually called me from the restaurant they were so damn excited) I knew the days were numbered before I would get there. Needless to say I was anticipating greatness, so when I heard that they totally revamped their menu only days before I managed to get through the doors, I was apprehensive. My parents went on and on about the vegan alfredo, and it sadly got the axe. Luckily, the left some pretty great items, and we enjoyed everything we ordered.

First of all, I must say that Fellini is 100% committed to vegans and others living harmoniously together. Their menu is one of the best I've seen so far. Options abound for everyone, and everything is well-marked. Love it. We all had trouble deciding what to get, but I finally settled on the Spring Mix salad, and the Ratatouille Provencal:

I gotta say, I wanted to love these dishes, but both were sort of eh. Not terrible but my socks weren't knocked off either. The combo of eggplant and sweet potato was a bit weird, and the awesome presentation serves simply to hide the fact that the dish is just a bunch of veggies and couscous in a none-too-spectacular sauce. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
My husband, on the other hand, got the vegan version of the Linguini Carbonara and LOVED it. Something for me to try next time for sure.

And, yes, there will definitely be a next time. My entree may not have wowed me this trip, but with such offerings as a vegan meat-lovers pizza (you read that right - it's called the Smiling Cow) and vegan Pappardelle, I'm all about it. Plus the ambiance is great, the people are friendly, and the wine list is decent. Oh, and they have a vegan chocolate cake that I didn't have room for. That is reason enough for me to go back. Maybe I'll see you and your others there!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nothing To Do With Food

I woke up this morning so overcome with excitement that I nearly jumped out of bed. Prop. 2, guaranteeing better conditions for farmed animals, easily passed. So there was that. But my god, there are no words to describe the emotion - somewhere between elation and soaring gratitude - that I felt watching Barack Obama become our president-elect. Second to my wedding, it was the happiest moment of my life. So, my poem for today, which I jotted down as I was getting ready this morning goes like this:


walking around trying
not to touch anything - like

it might break -
world's fragility
brought on by it being



As this joy really sinks in, so does the sad realization that much of our country is still sickeningly homophobic. So, while race relations seem to be at least a bit better, there is still much work to be done before we are all truly equal. However, in this moment, I am focusing on the joy, hopeful that there is more to come.

(Don't worry, a joyful girl's gotta eat. More on that soon...)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Eating With the In-Laws

My husband's parents are vegetarian, which makes them pretty awesome in my book. When they come to town, they generally stay down by my sister-in-law on the peninsula because she's got a kid - their only grandson. They always feign happiness to see us, but we know that he's the reason they really visit. :) Even with all the 2 and a half year old excitement, we always manage to have decent meals when they're around, and this past weekend was no exception.

On Saturday night, all of us hit up an old favorite - a place I would go to far more often if there were one in the city: Fresh Choice. If you have one in your area, grab your others by the arm and head there! It's basically a huge salad bar, a soup station, a pasta station, and a desert bar. Everything that is vegan is labeled clearly and all of it is yummy. In particular, the mushroom barley soup and squash ratatouille were winners this time around. Sorry I didn't take any photos.

Sunday, the grandparents took a break from the kid and came out with just me and my husband. We manage to do this almost every time their around, and I like to use it as a time to try out some new places on the peninsula. I normally don't dine down there, but with the help of Open Table and Happy Cow, I've found some great restaurants, not the least of which is Tannourine.

This Lebanese and Mediterranean place was pretty busy for a Sunday at 6, and I was a little worried to see only two servers. My fear was exacerbated by the fact that a fellow diner was having chest pains, couldn't walk, and the servers had to pause to call 911. With all that going on, I'm surprised we ever got any food, but they took it all in stride, and while things maybe went a little slower than usual, we were in no rush. Watching the EMT's work on the sick woman right outside the restaurant was a little disconcerting, but she ended up being fine and we enjoyed the rest of our meal in relative normalcy.

Speaking of the meal, we started with a huge mezze platter of dolmas, hummus, falafel, tabouleh, and foul madammas (fava beans stewed with tomatoes and spices). All were savory and delicious. Then, everyone except my mother-in-law ordered the fattoush salad as our entree. I was very into this salad. The romaine was flecked with sumac and maybe even a little cayanne, as it was a tad spicy. Certainly one of the most flavorful salads I've had in some time. I highly recommend it. My mom-in-law actually ordered the veggie combo dinner, which was more of the same mezze items, plus baba ganoush. Our entree choices do not at all reflect a lack of vegetarian/vegan options however. We were just all feeling like mezze and salad I guess. Next time, I want to try the veggies and cous-cous....

So, if you're down in San Mateo for any reason, check out Tannourine. It's authentic, yummy, reasonably priced, and even your in-laws will like it!