Friday, April 24, 2009

The Big Vegan Eat SF: 50 Things To Try Before You Die

Pull up a chair - it's time for good eats! I started this list, got busy, started again, went traveling, and now I have finally finished. I present to you, in all its delectable glory, the 50 (Vegan) Things To Try Before You Die. This is a knock-off of the not-so-vegan-friendly list put forth by 7x7 Magazine. Why not 100 Vegan Things, you ask? Well, if I were to include the entire Bay Area, it would have been no problem, but since I wanted to keep the quality up, and keep all the eats within San Francisco proper, 50 seemed like a more reasonable number. I'm sure I'll add to it over time, but for now, it stands strong as is. FYI, there is only one dish allowed from any given restaurant, and they are in no particular order. Go get your grub on, y'all!

San Francisco's 50 Vegan Things to Try Before You Die

1. Cha-Ya Roll at Cha-Ya
2. Roasted Pineapple and Plantain Tamale at Donna's Tamales
3. Pumpkin Curry (ask for no fish sauce) at Osha
4. Falafel Deluxe at Truly Mediterranean
5. Vegan Blueberry Pancakes at The Plant Cafe
6. Soyrizo Burrito with Guacamole at Papalote
7. Masala Dosa at DOSA
8. Vegetarian Spring Rolls at The Slanted Door
9. Olive Tapenade and Hummus Sandwich at Nook Cafe
10. Vegan Cassoulet at Luna Park
11. Moroccan Vegetable Tagine (without yogurt) at Nopa
12. Crispy Tofu Cake with Doc Ong's Chili Sauce at Betelnut
13. Spaghetti alla Pizzaiola st Caffe Macaroni Sciue Sciue
14. Lemon "Chicken" at Golden Era
15. Atlas Salad at The Atlas Cafe
16. Vegetarian Samusa Soup at Burma Superstar
17. Funghi Pizza with Vegan Cheese at Beretta
18. Vegetarian Combo at Club Waziema
19. "I am Perfect" at Cafe Gratitude
20. Chocolate Sorbetto at Ciao Bella
21. Sweet Potato Fries with Banana Catsup at Poleng Lounge
22. Veggie Muffelatta at Estela's Fresh Sandwiches
23. Vegan Tasting Menu at Fluer de Lys (call ahead to special order)
24. Bell Pepper Walnut Spread at Troya
25. Chocolate Almond Midnight at Millennium
26. Hell Fish Taco at Weird Fish
27. Vegetarian Bastilla at Saha
28. Fig and Fennel Sourdough at Arizmendi Bakery (only available Fridays)
29. Raw Carrot Ginger Soup at Alive
30. Spicy Fried Chickpeas and a Valencia Wheat Ale at Thirsty Bear
31. Any cupcake from Sugar Beat Sweets (special order only)
32. Mesquite Grilled Brochettes at Greens
33. "The Virgin" at Pizza Orgasmica
34. Stuffed Grape Leaves at Medjool
35. Soup and Salad Combo lunch at Ananda Fuara
36. Alu Tama at Metro Kathmandu
37. Veggie Beer Bratwurst at Underdog
38. Mien Xao Rau (glass noodles) at Aux Delices
39. Andean Corn Tamale at Pena Pachamama
40. Mixed Green Salad at Roti Indian Bistro
41. Dr. Cow Aged Cashew Cheese (avaialable exclusively at Rainbow)
42. The Bittersweet at Bittersweet Cafe
43. Vegan Backstabber at Ike's Place
44. Hot and Sour Vegetable Noodle Soup at Citrus Club
45. Sherpa Sandwich at Judahlicious
46. Sundae from Maggie Mudd
47. Dessert (check the case) and Coffee at Ritual Roasters
48. Green Salad with Grilled Tofu and Dijon Dressing at Herbivore
49. Quinoa and Tofu at Triptych
50. Avocado at Aziza

Phew! Well, there you have it folks. It's not everything I've eaten in SF, but it's the best. I recommend you print it out and start checking it off. And, of course, bring your others along for the ride. Enjoy! Now I need a nap......

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Finally we come to the end of my East Coast adventures, and this time we're not in Manhattan! In a trip long overdue, I got my behind to Philadelphia for a generous helping of brotherly love... and divine dining! Horizons has been on all the lists of best vegetarian restaurants over the years, and I've been dying to go. Now, after all this time, I fully understand why it's received all the praise it has and, better yet, Horizons totally lived up to the hype.

For starters, it's location right off South Street is awesome. You can (window)shop your way to the front door and then be immediately transported to a cleaner, more welcoming, and MUCH better smelling world. There was construction going on downstairs, but the upstairs was bright and inviting. Our group settled in quickly and then set about the task of ordering. This took some time, but we eventually all made delicious choices.

Personally, I started out with the Little Leaves Salad. You know I love my greens, and combined with radishes and roasted cauliflower in a grain mustard vinaigrette, these were scrumptious. Things were off to a great start.

For my entree, I was lured by the earthy aromas of the Peppercorn Seared Tofu. Topped with sauteed mushroom and ramps (wild leeks), and on a bed of fregola (like couscous), the tofu came to life - not an easy feat! Deep rich flavors popped in every bite. I could have eaten this two (or three) times over.

For dessert, I ordered what I knew I had to have as soon as I read the name: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bomb. Oh yeah. This is super-moist peanut butter cake, covered in chocolate ganache, with a mound of fudgey chocolate on top. I wanted to show this close-up, but what isn't shown is the line of chocolate sauce leading to the insanely good peanut butter ice cream. Dessert Perfection.

I don't know when, but I swear to you right now that I WILL be back to Horizons. In fact, as we were driving across town to get there, we passed 3 or 4 other veggie places. Who knew Philly was such a progressive place? I'm already planning a trip for the future, and you should too!

Next up, it's back to San Francisco eats, and I promise to finally post my "50 Things to Eat Before You Die" list!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Surprise, surprise...

One of the reasons I was so thrilled to be heading East actually had nothing to do with food. Hard to believe, I know, but it's true. You see, my brother has recently become engaged to the most fantabulous lady, and I got it in my little head to throw them a surprise party to celebrate! We got them pretty good, as you can see at left, but what was even more surprising was how damn good the vegan cake from Whole Foods turned out. It was just beautiful, for one thing, but it was oh-so moist and rich and decadent. It was easily one of the best vegan cakes I've ever had. I mean, check out that fudge center!

Not that you needed more proof, but here's Claire really enjoying her slice. :)

The lesson to be learned here is that if it's good, it doesn't matter if it's vegan or not - people will devour it. I, for one, think animal advocacy through feeding people is one of the most fun ways to educate, and I do it every chance I get. I'd like to suggest all vegans do the same.

Next up: My last stop - Philly!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Treats of All Kinds

I want to take a break from recounting my east coast adventures and talk about some tooth-aching sweetness that recently came into my life: Dandies Candies Vegan Marshmallows. These are the new offering from the awesome Chicago Soydairy, and they straight up rock. They taste and behave just like the original, and to put them to the true test, I made Rice Krispy Treats with them yesterday. Of course, I used organic Earth Balance instead of butter and organic Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice instead of the infamous blue box, but what else would you expect? I also added some of those vegan 'chocolate discs' I got at Economy Candy. They came out so perfectly, I was actually shocked. Now if only I could get my husband to stop eating them. Here's a pic of the marshmallows, the chocolates, and the finished product:

However do I manage to stay on top of new vegan products like these badass marshmallows, you ask? Well, here I have to thank. Specifically, it was their fine reporting on the Expo West showcase where I heard about the 'mallows. In fact, I posted a comment on that piece and won a goodie bag full of treats from the big event! There were no marshmallows, but look at all the other swag:

I'm one lucky gal. Don't think I ever take that for granted either. I am truly blessed to be having all these great experiences I write about, and I know it! More of said experiences coming right up....

Sunday, April 19, 2009


My last stop in NYC was at Babycakes, and I'm here to tell ya: No place on Earth smells as good as this bakery. It's adorable, staffed by cuties, and makes awesome vegan, gluten, and allergen - free delights, but the intoxicating smell alone is worth the trip. Even if you don't order anything, I highly recommend going in and breathing deeply for a while. Of course, I don't know anyone who could do that and NOT order something, myself included. After all, the sign on the wall (above) says it all.

That's my mom enjoying her divine banana chocolate loaf. I had a hard time deciding what to get, but eventually went with, and thoroughly enjoyed a cinnamon sticky bun. Those over-processed, preservative-laden, cholesterol-filled buns at the mall have got nothin' on these babies. Yum. Here's close-ups of both of our treats:

We also took home some cupcake tops (yes, they sell just the tops with icing!) and mini carrot cakes for my dad. All were devoured and raved about. As if that weren't awesome enough, soon you won't have to go to NYC to get your Babycakes fix, as their new cookbook is coming out. Clever and fab ladies that they are, they made a commercial/music video to celebrate its coming out. Check it out here.

Phew. I finally made it through all the good eats in NYC. Next up is Philly and NJ!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Candle Cafe

Being laid up with a sinus infection (thank you, air travel) might not be the best time to write about a great dinner, but even my currently impaired sense of taste can recall with ease the deliciousness of the meal I had at Candle Cafe. For the record, we ate here on our very first night in NYC, but since I started my Manhattan blogging with our first full day, this one got lost in the shuffle. Not to worry; Even out of order, CC is a fantastic foodie haven. In fact, it may have been the best meal I ate on the east coast.

I'd been to Candle 79, the Cafe's more fancy sibling, so I was prepared for the high caliber food. What I wasn't prepared for was the warm, welcoming atmosphere, and the reasonable prices. These things can fall by the wayside at 79, but are present in abundance at the Cafe, and alongside amazing food to boot! Speaking of which, I had what CC calls the "Good Food Plate" which is comprised of any four sides, and two sauces. I went with quinoa salad, sauteed greens, steamed greens (love my greens!), and grilled tempeh. Alone this would have been delectable, but when paired with the savory gravy and tangy tahini sauce, I was in heaven. My friend, on the other hand, had the porcini-encrusted seitan. It's earthy scent wafted over the table, igniting our appetites, and the fact that mashed potatoes were part of the deal made it all the more appealing. Needless to say, we were both very happy.

Of course, there's always room for more happiness! Mine came in the form of the most rich, chocolatey dessert I've had in a long time: The chocolate mousse pie. With a scoop of chocolate ice cream, it is any chocolate-lover's dream. Magnificent. My pal, after much decision making (everything sounded so good!), went with the bundt cake and was not disappointed. This reminded me of the Entenmenn's chocolate chip crumb cake of my youth, and that is high praise, my friends.

We waddled back to the hotel, smiles on our faces. I think it's fair to say that Candle 79 is no longer on my list of must-eats in Manhattan. I mean why spend more for the same great food you can get at Candle Cafe? I, for one, don't require a fancy-pants atmosphere or attitude to enjoy my meal, and I doubt you do either. It's CC for me and my others! Moving right along, there's only one other place I went in NYC, so look out for that soon. We're still not back to SF eats though, because there were lots of yums in Philly and at home in the Jerz too. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lula's Sweet Apothecary

Lula's is the stuff dreams are made of. Imagine an old-school ice cream parlor/candy shoppe where the owner is a fantastically adorable and smart woman who makes you feel right at home. Now imagine everything is vegan and tastes way better than the original. Welcome to Lula's. I can honestly say I've never had ice cream as good as this and, having sampled just about all of their awesome flavors, I know what I'm talking about.

Owners Blythe (left) and Derek used to run Viva Las Vegans, a vegan food truck in Philly, but have let their sweet sides come out to play in NYC, creating some of the greatest vegan ice cream on the planet. Their flavors - from traditional chocolate to gourmet carrot cake - are all decadent, rich expressions of the ingredients contained within. The toppings also range from the conventional (sprinkles, peanuts, etc.) to the obscure (vegan gummy bears, anyone?) but all are sweet pieces of joy. Plus they have (drum roll please.... ) SOFT SERVE! This is not something us vegans get every day, and with varieties like the amazing 'cake batter' they had swirling when I visited, it was all I could do to keep my wits about me, let alone decide what to order. In the end, I took Blythe's advice and kept it simple. One sundae, coming right up:

That would be a scoop of peanut butter fudge, a scoop of chocolate, hot fudge, peanuts, whipped cream, and (of course!) a cherry on top. Absolute heaven. I could have eaten it 3 times over and not had enough. If you haven't gotten the idea yet, you MUST go to Lula's Sweet Apothecary and have this ice cream pronto!

Even before I fell in love with the place, I mentioned to Lee, a photographer friend of mine who was also visiting NYC with her family, that she should take the gang to Lula's. They ended up going the night after I was there, and the two pictures not of my sundae used here are courtesy of her. Thanks Lee! May we all have ice cream so delicious at some point in our lives.

Up next: I managed to leave out a whole meal at one of my new favorite restaurants in NYC, so forgive me while I backtrack.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Angelica Kitchen

One of the oldest vegetarian joints in NYC, Angelica Kitchen is more an institution than a restaurant, and as amazing as it sounds, I'd never been there. Luckily, my pal hadn't either, so we were excited to try it. The warm colors and high ceilings give the dining room a warm airy feel, and we were elated to sit down and peruse the menu. Of course, part of our elation was simply because we were seated- we had many city miles on our feet by then! Or tootsies may have been tired, but it was only when we had the menu in our hands that our brain got a workout as well. So many choices! Did I feel like Asian noodles? Southwest chili? A big gorgeous salad? A burger?

In the end, I started with a salad and my friend and I split the walnut lentil pate. It was delicious, but I wish it has been served with something other than those rice crackers you can get at any health food store. Some crostini would have been perfect. Still, it was good, and it prepped my stomach well for my entree:

The Tempeh Reuben. Those who know me know I LOVE sauerkraut, so when I saw I could have it atop some smoky tempeh with horseradish mustard, I was thrilled. Even better was that it was everything I wanted it to be - the perfect combination of earthiness and spice. I highly recommend it.

On the other hand, if you're in the mood for noodles, my friend's Soba Salad was amazing. The tahini peanut sauce was creamy, with spot-on flavor, and it even came with more sauerkraut. Can't beat it!

The desserts here looked amazing, but we had one final destination - perhaps the highlight of the whole trip - that would soon serve us up some of the most insanely good vegan ice cream we ever did have. Be patient, I'm getting there.....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sweet Treats

We may have been full of Teany goodness (see previous post), but we didn't let that stop us from having a snack. Plus, we had gone directly to MooShoes afterwards and burned off some calories trying on all sorts of gorgeous footwear! Remarkably, neither of us got anything, though I did fall in love with a $265 bag from Matt&Nat. My 30th birthday is in less than 2 months. Just sayin'....

What was my point again? Oh yeah, snacks! With no real plans until dinner, we swung by Economy Candy to sate our sweet teeth. Boy oh boy is this place amazing. I'm not really a candy person, but I could have wandered the aisles of old school candy, bulk bins, nuts, and other sweet paraphernalia for hours. This jam-packed store is filled with all things candy, including a few hard-to-find vegan items, like vegan M&M's. Ok, so they're not the brand name stuff, (they're actually called "chocolate discs") but they taste like the real deal and even come in mint and mocha varieties. One can also find vegan marzipan, turkish delight, and jellybeans here, just to name a few.

Refreshed by our sugar high, we trekked 20 blocks or so to Pure Food and Wine's Takeaway, in hopes of finding my friend some Dr. Cow cheese. Poor thing can't get it where she lives in Boston. Even more sad was that they had just sold out. They did however, have amazing-looking raw mallomars:

Undaunted, we got some info on a place called Live Live (first live with the short vowel sound, second with the long) that also carried the Dr. Cow. This raw food store came through, and my friend was rewarded with the yum that is the aged cashew cheese, while I got to sample the most savory raw onion rings I ever did eat. Nothing like trying to get raw onion taste out of your mouth though. Let's just say it lingers.

In any event, we headed out, Dr. Cow in hand, wandered some more, and got a bottle of wine to go with dinner since our destination for the evening was BYO.... but more on that next time. Now I must go back to my jet-lag-induced stupor. It's good to be home. :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I've got 24 hours left on the east coast, and while I have plans to meet up with some friends later, I thought I'd take a quick minute to tell you about our first stop on our full day of eating in Manhattan: Teany. I've been here before, but my friend had not, so it was a must. It's cute, it's affordable, and the food can go head-to-head with the magnificent selection of tea they have any day. For the record, I had a delicious Kukicha.

It was brunch time by my standards (just shy of noon) but we both went for lunchy items. I may be restricitng myself, but once I find a favorite at a restaurant, I have a hard time straying to other sections of the menu on subsequent trips, and Teany is no exception. I love their chicken(-less) salad so much that I can't help but order it every time I'm there. It's creamy with full-bodied flavor, and has great texture. You can get it atop a salad, like I did, or in a sandwich. If you go my way, just be warned that they give you way too much dressing. It's delicious, but use restraint.

My friend took the (faux) Turkey Club path and was not disappointed. It looked amazing, she looked quite pleased, and we were both good to go until dinner. Of course, we managed to find room in our bellies for some snacks along the way. That's up next!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I'm tired, folks. That about sums it up. After walking all over Manhattan for the last 3 days in search of all things yummy and vegan, I'm back at the 'rents house in NJ and am ready to get all nostalgic for the meals I already miss. There were so many good eats I can barely keep track, so I think it's best to just start at the beginning. I may not get through chronicling all 3 days by the time I get back to San Francisco on Sunday, but rest assured that I'll get through it all eventually - and that includes my trip to Philadelphia tomorrow to finally eat at Horizons. Thank goodness for this day of rest. My typing fingers, and my stomach, just can't keep up!

So, after a lunch on Sunday at the brand new Whole Foods in Paramus, NJ (awesome) I hopped the bus to New York, checked into my hotel, and then headed out to meet some friends on the lower east side for dinner. I had stayed down that way on a visit last summer, and walked past Pala many a time, mentally noting it as a place that would be great for vegans and others alike. They have a number of vegan pizzas, both with and without soy cheese, all of which are marked as such. Love it.

I started with a salad, while my others enjoyed some risotto balls. It's kind of hard to mess up a salad, but it's also hard to get it really right. Pala hits the nail on the head with a sweet balsamic, and just the right amount of salt and pepper. I then dug into the 'arrabiata' - a pizza of cherry tomatoes and hot peppers. Feeling a need for more greens, I asked them to add spinach and they happily obliged.

It was delicious, though not as spicy as one might think, and it could have used some olive oil, but still, yum. Plus: They had a bunch of dried oregeno, still on the stems, out on the table, which was both pretty and delicious. Minus: They served all our pizzas on one big slab which was great for presentation, but not so great for the probabilty of cheese contamination. They might want to keep the vegan pizzas separate. I'm just sayin.'

All in all, it was a nice place and I'd eat there again. The waitress was even kind enough to take this awesome picture of us:

Aren't we pretty?

Up next: A full day of eating my way through Manhattan with an equally epicurious vegan foodie friend. Mmmmmm.....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

VegNews Speaker Series

I'm crazy busy trying to get ready for my trip to New Jersey and New York City, but I wanted to pop in quickly and tell you what I did last night: I was lucky enough to attend the very first VegNews speaker series! Hosted by Millennium, we started with an hour of delicious hors d'oeuvres and wine. I loved the assorted bruschetta and the cucumber cups with mango salsa, but my favorite were the tempeh kabobs with peanut sauce. I definitely had my fare share of all these yummy little bites.

The next hour we, the audience, sat in rapture while the guest of honor answered questions from Joseph Connely, VegNews' editor-in-chief. And who was in the hot seat you ask? None other than Jeffery Moussaieff Masson. This prolific, animal-friendly author was made famous by his books on animal emotions and intelligence, such as When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie About Love, but he has now penned a new work on veganism, The Face on Your Plate.

It only makes sense that a man who studied the feelings of animals would then go vegan, but to see how much it has benefited his health and vitality is inspiring to all those who meet him. At 68 he is full of energy, life, and humor... and he's fired up about animal rights!
After some audience Q&A, we all enjoyed dessert bites and coffee while mingling with animal-friendly friends. I hope to attend more of these VegNews events, and from chatting up many of the staff last night, I hear that there are many in works. Hooray! For now, however, it's back to laundry and packing. Next up I'll be writing about all the yummy Manhattan eateries. I'm psyched, so stay tuned....