Saturday, February 28, 2009


Seeing the above message on a menu makes me oh-so-pleased, so when it appeared before me last night at Metro Kathmandu, I knew good things were coming my way. Good things sans animal bits! Woo-hoo! But mayhaps I'm getting ahead of myself...

I've wanted to go to Kathmandu since it was recommended to me by a friend a couple weeks ago. As soon as she mentioned it, I remembered walking past the window months (years?) ago, reading the menu, and saying to myself "Vegan-friendly Nepalese food - I should go there!" Not too sure how I managed to forget all about it, but I'm happy to have been reminded.

Upon arrival, I took immediate notice of the super-red walls and lighting. It's really not bad, but it does nothing for the look of the food. You know what looks good in red lighting? Strippers, not dinner. Luckily, our entrees had high-powered flavor to make up for their seedy surroundings.

Speaking of food, I really wanted to try the Momos. I've heard good things from my others about these yummy Nepalese dumplings, but alas, the version served at Kathmandu are not vegan. Boo cheese. We opted instead for some samosas to start. They were a little soggier than I like, but tasted pretty darn good. After that we dove into our vegan entrees. They have three well-marked vegan offerings on the menu, and we tried all three. Here are the Mixed Veggie Curry, and the Tofu Masala:

The curry was pretty dang tasty, but the tofu dish's coconut milk base made it beloved by our table. Still, it couldn't beat out my fave of the evening, the Alu Tamal. Of course this would be the one dish I didn't get a picture of (red lighting was my enemy here as well), but it was true comfort food. Black-eyed peas and potatoes meet up with curry and sour-bamboo shoots in a perfect dish you just want to curl up with. Sopped up with some Roti, the flavors lingered on and on. Yum.

I would definitely head back to Kathmandu for that dish alone, others in tow of course. For now it's back to baking for me. We're having guests for dinner and I'm creating quite a feast. It will all be featured here shortly of course. Hope you are all enjoying your weekend. I know I am!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


We don't get down to Palo Alto very often, but almost every time we're there, dinner at Zibibbo is part of the plan. We went back to our old favorite this past weekend, and it's high time I blogged about it. I haven't in the past, mainly because I've never been able to get good pictures of the food. The same was true this time, so the outside shot (above) will have to do. I happen to love the muted, romantic lighting inside, so it's worth the lack of pictures to enjoy that ambiance every once in a while.

In addition to the nice lighting, Zibibbo offers Italian/Mediterranean food done right: Simple, organic, clean, flavors that leave you satisfied without feeling stuffed. The great wine list doesn't hurt either. Neither does the fact that they are one of the only restaurants on Open Table with personnel who actually read the "notes" section of their reservations. I always mention that I'm vegan when reserving, and at Zibibbo, the waiter or waitress always arrives at the table armed with that info and ready to help. For example, right off that bat, we got olive oil along with our bread in addition to the standard butter. I love that.

For the rest of the meal, we went with an anitpasti platter of hummus and pita, marinated olives, and roasted baby beets (sans goat cheese). We also ordered the seasonal vegetable platter, which contained perfectly cooked brocolli rabe with chili flakes, brussel sprouts with garlic and sage, and sauteed spinach. So yummy. I then had a big salad of little gem lettuce and toasted walnuts in a sherry vinaigrette while my vegetarian dining companions had a mushroom pizza. This is how I like to eat. Little bites of lots of delicious and healthy breads, veggies, and dips, topped off with a great glass of wine. It's hard to beat Zibibbo for this type of food, and for that reason, I urge you and your others to go next time you're down in Palo Alto. I know I'll be there on my next visit.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ike's Place

Yesterday I had the best sandwich ever. I am prone to exaggeration, yes. But this time I mean it. Want proof? The husband claimed the same, and he is a sandwich regular. My god, I don't know why I had never been to Ike's before! I find myself second-guessing my choice of friends - I mean, who are these people to not know of this place and tell me about it? Are they all elsewhere, eating second-rate sandwiches like I was? They are the unenlightened! Now that I have been to Ike's, sandwiches elsewhere are ruined for me. This is not a bad thing.

In fact, the only bad thing is that getting your sammy here takes a while. We got there a little after 2:00 and got ourselves on the long ass line. We were eating at 3:00. Yeah, it's nuts:

However, while in line we learned that you can call your order in, and then just swing by to pick it up like 45 minutes later. We will be doing this often in our future.

As for the specifics, I had the "Backstabber" done vegan of course.

Every single one of their concoctions can me made vegan. I love this about them. My evil-sounding lunch was "chicken breast", artichoke hearts, pepperoncinis, onions, pickles, soy cheese, lettuce, tomato,and their vegan "dirty sauce" (a vegan mayo-based spicy sauce) all served warm on a toasted sour dough roll. Holy crap. The perfect ratio of every delicious ingredient in each bite. I swooned. Then I looked over at the husband and found his eyes rolled back in his head as he devoured his "Meatless Mike" - a veggie meatball sandwich.

We will never eat sandwiches anywhere else and like it. I can promise you this. Take your other and go, or better yet, grab the phone and call your order in ahead of time. Just make sure you're sitting down when you eat, lest you injure yourself when your knees go weak. Consider yourself enlightened.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


As many of you know, I love the Food Network. I don't know what it is, but I find food tv mesmerizing. All that chopping and dicing and close-ups and colors, I just get so happy and relaxed. :) The only down side to all this is that most of the dishes prepared are not vegan. But do I get all sad-faced and change the channel? No way! I figure out how to veganize. For example, the other day Ina Garten aka The Barefoot Contessa make a pea soup that looked so yummy, only she used butter, chicken stock, and sour cream. Blech. But make the same recipe with Earth Balance, No-Chicken Broth, and Tofutti Sour "Cream", and we're good to go. Top with some organic garlic croutons, and you've got our lovely dinner from last night:

This soup is perfect for a cold day when you long for spring because it's hot and satisfying, yet lightened up by the fresh mint and pea flavors. Make the substitutions I mentioned above and enjoy!


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 5 cups freshly shelled peas or 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped chives
  • Garlic croutons, for serving


Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the leeks and onion, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the onion is tender. Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the peas are tender. (Frozen peas will take only 3 minutes.) Off the heat, add the mint, salt, and pepper.

*Puree the soup in batches: place 1 cup of soup in a blender, place the lid on top, and puree on low speed. With the blender still running, open the venthole in the lid and slowly add more soup until the blender is three-quarters full. Pour the soup into a large bowl and repeat until all the soup is pureed. Whisk in the creme fraiche and chives and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with garlic croutons.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Club Waziema

Finally. It may have taken me a while, but I got myself (with the help of a friend, of course) to Club Waziema last night. Why it took so long I have no idea. Maybe because I already have an Ethiopian restaurant I like? Maybe because it is so close to Herbivore that I am always drawn through their doors instead whenever in proximity? Neither are good excuses, and I should be ashamed of myself for not coming here sooner.

I don't even know where to begin. I love everything about Waziema. At its essence, it's a dive bar. It's dark with dark wood and red velvet wall paper that you can (and should!) pet while dining. You may have to get your own napkins and flag down staff for any other needs, but that's part of the charm. Even more charming, however, is the food. Not only is it warm, soul-satisfying, mostly organic goodness, served alongside the spongiest injera ever, but if you come before 8pm, it's all-you-can-eat. Yes, you read that right. You pay the price on the menu for whatever it is you want (we had the veggie combo for 2) and then they bring you more of it on demand. It is a beautiful thing:

Needless to say that anytime me or one of my others has a hankering for Ethiopian food, I will be headed over to Club Waziema.... and then maybe over to Herbivore for dessert. :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Recipe For the Best Valentine's Day Ever

Start with two tablets of Simply Sleep the night before so you can make up for all the short nights of rest you've been getting lately.

After ten hours, get out of bed and go to the gym. Feel good about yourself.

Use the rainy day as an excuse to stay inside with your husband all day. Have him shower you with gifts:

When you get good and hungry, walk to Greens and have the most fantastic dinner. I gotta tell ya, Greens has really stepped up their vegan game lately. I was told that for their Valentine's prix fixe menu there would be a vegan choice for every course but I was shocked and happy to hear that all the choices on the menu could be made vegan. That made decisions harder of course, but here's what I went with:

Cheese Plate with Olive Tapenade and Roasted Almonds

So this was the mandatory first course that everyone got. I knew the cheese was not for me, but that the hubby would have some so it was fine. The almonds and olives were yummy, especially with the bread and olive oil we got (not pictured). A great start to the meal!

Grilled Artichokes with Butter Beans

This creamy savory delight balanced flavors perfectly between some bitter endive and the earthy artichokes. One of the best dishes I've had anywhere in a long while.

Carrot-filled Ravioli with Greens

On the menu this was a goat cheese ravioli, but I don't think any vegetarian would have minded receiving this dish. Light and refreshing, it was scrumptious AND still left me with room for dessert.

Chocolate Mousse Cake

There was only one vegan dessert option, but I have no complaints. This was exactly what a girl wants to eat on Valentine's Day. Rich, intense chocolate mousse on a cookie crust with shaved chocolate on top. Oh yeah. Heaven.

The best part? We brought our own bottle of wine (see gifts above) from Robert Sinskey and used a $100 Open Table gift certificate that we had, so we made out like bandits. The walk back up the hill to get home was a little brutal being so stuffed and all, but once there, it was nothing but relaxing for us. In fact, I'm back on the couch now after a great breakfast of granola and berries and ready for another day of watching the rain fall. Ahhhh.....

I hope you all had great V-Days as well and are enjoying the rest of this long weekend. Lots of love ot you and yours!

Friday, February 13, 2009

For the Love of Chocolate

Hello ladies: I'm talking to you today. Sure, the boys can listen in if they want, but they may not like what they're about to hear. We all know that Valentine's Day (tomorrow for those of you in a cave) is supposed to be about celebrating love and partnership and romance. But what us ladies know is that we can have that any old day if we play our cards right. What we want on Valentine's Day is chocolate. Lots of it. Preferably in a heart-shaped box, like so:

Don't get us wrong, boys, we love you, we do. But us girls get down-right giddy at the thought of having an excuse to indulge in our favorite food. Myself, I prefer the darkest, richest, chocolate I can find. Considering how much I like this "food of the gods", I really don't eat it that much (I've got genetics to battle my friends) so VDay is a chance to go nuts. Speaking of which, nuts are a welcome addition to my chocolate party, as are fruity centers and caramel. All vegan of course. Used to be that such things were hard to come by, but now quite a few of vegan chocolate companies exist. A few of my recommendations include Allison's Gourmet, Sjaak's, Rose City, and Chocolate Decadence. The latter is a personal favorite, and I'm hoping their heart-shaped chocolate box (yes, the BOX ITSELF is even made of chocolate!) appears in my hands tomorrow.

By the way, the heart-shaped box thing is key. There is something about eating chocolate from said shape that just makes it taste better. One year the hubby (bless his soul) thought he was being super awesome and got me a ton (well, a shoebox full anyway) of different vegan bars from around the world. I knew it took effort, and showed lots of love, but this is Valentine's Day dammit. The heart box matters. I'm just sayin'.

So, ladies, I wish you the happiest and tastiest of Valentine's Days. And, even though it may be too late for this year, you might consider nudging your sweetie to go vegan for VDay chocolate. I swear to you there is no difference in taste, but a huge difference in the amount of suffering your love produces. Now indulge!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Burma Superstar

First, I'd like to acknowledge that I can not think about this restaurant without singing its name to the tune of "Ghetto Superstar." Now that I've got that off my chest, let's move on....

I've wanted to eat here for a while now. I've heard tales of their devoted fan base and in-your-face flavors, but wasn't convinced of their ability to be vegan friendly. After all, a lot of the menu included dried shrimp. So, I let some years go by and forgot all about BS. Then, I was shown two signs within a week which let me know it was time to head to the famed Inner Richmond restaurant. The first was an email from PETA (yup, I get those emails) in which they were overjoyed to announce the opening of a BS location near their offices in Oakland, going on to name some of their fave vegan dishes. The second was that the Tea Leaf Salad appeared on the Big Eat list. A good friend of mine is trying to hit all 100 things on said list, and I am always happy to accompany someone on a food journey.

We were to meet at 7 but I arrived early in hopes of getting our name on the list. Even though it was Tuesday, there was still a long line. Always a good sign in my book. We waited about 20 minutes and were finally let in to the tiny space. We were seated right by the window so everyone waiting outside could salivate over our food. They were also salivating every time the door opened because the smell that wafted onto the street was intoxicating. Granted I was very hungry, but Burmese food is a like a combo of two of my favorite cuisines - Thai and Indian - and the spices are quite olfactory to say the least. It was all I could do refrain from yelling out "Bring on the food!" as soon as we sat down.

In keeping with the "must eat now" mentality, we ordered the Tea Leaf Salad right away. The menu says that it will "change your perception of what a salad can be..." I'm not too sure about all that but it was really good. Made with all sorts of crunchy lentils, peanuts, veggies, and (of course) fermented tea leaves, it is a unique and flavorful way to start the meal. The black stuff is the tea:

Next up we had a PETA favorite, the Samusa Soup. Made of a rich veggie broth and filled with cracked samusas (like Indian samosas but with a "u".... and a slightly different flavor profile), falafels, and lentils, this hearty soup was awesome, and was the highlight of the meal for me. I can't wait to order it again....

We also got some super yummy broccoli with fried onions. Wok-tossed in a simple white wine and garlic sauce, they were a bright and light contrast to the richness of the soup:

All things said and done, I'm sad it took me so long to get to Burma Superstar. I'd say I'll be going back soon, but so many people have told me that Mandalay right down the street has far superior food (hard to believe) without the lines, so I will probably hit that up first. Meanwhile, I'll be humming through the rest of my day. "Burma Superstar, that is what you are. Coming from afar, reaching for the stars. Come away with me, to another place. We can rely on each other, uh huh......."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

More Adventures in Phyllo

As you may have guessed, I haven't been in any restaurants lately. Life's been busy, and we're trying to save money like everyone else, so it just makes more sense to cook at home. Luckily there are plenty of recipes I've wanted to try and I'm busting out all the cookbooks that have gathered dust for so long. Sometimes, though, I like to fly by the seat of my pants and just cook what comes to me. Today was such a day. Inspired by the phyllo dough I had leftover from the baklava, I decided to make savory phyllo cups for dinner. I saw Sandra Lee do it on Semi-Homemade with creamed spinach and feta (ick) but it seemed easy enough to fill them with anything. I scrounged around the cupboards a bit and decided on a mixture of croutons that I ground to crumbs, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and Field Roast Italian sausages. The latter three I chopped pretty fine and tossed with the breadcrumbs. Here's the mixture:

Next, I simply prepped the phyllo by putting together 4 layers (using spray olive oil in between each one), cutting them into squares and shoving them into cupcake molds. Then I just filled them with the mixture, topped with 3 cherry tomatoes a piece and baked them for about 25 minutes. Here they are about to go in the oven:

I knew that would be some savory goodness, so I wanted to serve it with something fresh and light. I sauteed a big bunch of spinach in some olive oil with garlic, lemon, and the artichokes that didn't make it into the filling. Viola! The perfect side. This meal was a winner. If I were to do it again, I would use plain croutons or breadcrumbs. My "Italian Herb" variety brought a little too much salt to the table and kind of overwhelmed the sausage flavor. Still, not bad for a first go!

As much fun as I have cooking, we all know that I'd much rather be waited upon, and I don't have long to wait! I've got plans to hit up Burma Superstar for the first time (I can't believe it either) on Tuesday, and dinner at old favorite Greens on Valentine's Day, so stay tuned. I'm off to see Coraline. I'll review it on Flixster of course. :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Joy of Vegan Baking Comes Through Again

I love phyllo dough. A lot. I love that you can stuff things in it, layer things between it, or throw stuff on top of it. I love that it gets so crunchy and airy and golden brown. It's the best. It's no wonder then, that I love baklava. This Turkish treat is made up of layers and layers of phyllo, pistachios, honey, and butter, and I had not had any in the longest time. Vegan baklava is hard to come by and working with phyllo seemed to be a super difficult task. Then, the other day, I was walking past the freezer section at Whole Foods and vegan organic phyllo dough caught my eye. Visions of baklava started dancing around in my brain, and I seemed to remember a recipe in the TJOVB for a vegan version. I forced aside my anxiety about working with this delicate pastry and grabbed a box.

Turns out I had nothing to worry about! Sure, it took time to brush all those layers with Earth Balance, but time consuming does not equate to difficulty. If anything, my labor made the final product all the sweeter. And sweet it was... maybe even a little too sweet! In place of honey, the recipe calls for an agave/simple syrup mixture. In addition to that, there is an optional 1 Tbs of sugar in the pistachio mix that I think i would leave out next time so that the cinnamon and cloves are more prominent than the sweetness. But other than that, this baklava is awesome. I wish I could say that it all got gobbled up at our Super Bowl party, but I don't think anyone had much room left after downing all the chips and guacamole (a huge hit by the way). Those who did try it, loved it, and I got to have plenty for myself. Never a bad thing.

So, the moral of the story is don't be afraid of phyllo. It's easier than you think. In fact, I'm already conjuring up ideas for "sausage" and kale phyllo pouches. Mmmmm......