Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Eats

As per our usual tradition, we spent all 4 days of the Thanksgiving weekend in San Francisco, relishing the quiet of a near-empty city, and just relaxing together. We also decided to dine out every night in an effort to rid ourselves of the stress of washing dishes. Yes, it was a glorious weekend, and filled with some of the best food I've eaten in a very long time. Sadly, I kept forgetting my camera. Was I delirious with relaxation? Perhaps. In any case....

We spent Thanksgiving itself where we always do: At Millennium. It was, as it was last year and all the years before, superb. The highlight for me this year was definitely the fennel and squash soup, but everything from the pumpkin spread on homemade bread to the pecan pie was divine. As far as I'm concerned there is no better way to kick off the holiday season than Thanksgiving at Millennium. See you there next year....

The next day we took a trip down the street to our local Amici's for some good old pizza. And look! I remembered my camera and captured this Daiya-laden beauty. I got black olives, spinach, and roasted garlic because that ish is yummy, and I loved every bite. I know some
people aren't down with the Daiya, but I really like it. So there, haters.

On Saturday we made our way over the bridge to try out a restaurant that's been on my radar for some time: Gather. Oh boy do I ever love it there. It's not all vegan, but it is very vegan-friendly, and everything we had was insanely tasty. Of course we had to order the vegan charcuterie, what with all the hub-bub about it being so good and all:

Of course I forgot my camera, but the internets have come through to provide the pic above. Ours was a bit different, as it changes with the seasons, but this was really one of the single best plates I've food I've ever received at a restaurant. I couldn't even tell you my favorite part. I adored the kabocha squash with cashew sage sauce, but the mushroom pate was so savory and earthy. Then again the smoked persimmon 'salsa' on the pear carpaccio was so unique, so happy-making... Basically every bite was a treat and as soon as it was done I wanted to start all over again. This dish is smart, gorgeous, and filled with flavor. I can't wait to eat it again sometime soon.

Oh, and the kale salad, as well as the fried artichokes (above pic taken from the website, but ours really did look just like that), were also delicious. This omnivorous place really knows it's veggies!

On Sunday, we kept it low-key and got take out from one of our faves: Burma Superstar. I'm happy to report that the tea leaf salad, samusa soup, and wok-tossed broccoli are as good as ever. I'm also happy to report that BStar Bar, their sister restaurant down the street, has a very similar (though condensed) menu and takes reservations. As anyone who has waited in the long, long line at Burma Superstar knows, reservations would be awesome. Next time, I'm heading to the BStar Bar.... full report to follow of course.

Now that the food coma is wearing off, I'm looking forward to trying some new-to-me places in the Bay Area over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that. Of course I'm also gearing up for a visit from my awesome vegan parents. Can you say holiday eating extravaganza?!? You've been warned.... :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cha-Ya Revisited

Since we are people with a plan to eat dinner in a restaurant every night of Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to give it a rest this weekend and eat at home. I originally thought this would mean no new posts, but then I remembered a trip to Cha-Ya I took right before we went to Vegas. For those of you who don't know, Cha-Ya is the most wonderful all-vegan Japanese restaurant ever. The decor sucks and the ambiance is non-existent, but the food RULES. On this trip I had one of my old favorites as well as discovered a new fave that I can't wait to eat again.

Old School Hit: Sea Vegetable Salad. I always order extra dressing because it is miso tahini and is so creamy and rich and delicious, especially when paired with the briny seaweeds. Love this salad!

New Flavor in Your Ear: Goma Ae. This is blanched spinach and broccoli with the most savory sesame dressing I ever did try. It's nutty and kind of sweet and I could have licked the plate but somehow managed to restrain myself. We also ordered the must-try Cha-Ya Roll and a bunch of other mini-rolls like cucumber and avocado, but the two salads stole the show this time around.

I don't know about you, but I'm counting down the days to my most beloved holiday. We'll be having Thanksgiving dinner at Millennium like we do every year, and I promise to report on that as well as our other eating adventures over the long weekend. Until then, eat well everyone!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegas, baby!

I go to Vegas a few times a year, and it's always a good time. Mostly because my friends rock and, as always, the people make the party. I was even more excited than usual for this trip, however, because Steve Wynn has gone vegan and this means that ALL the restaurants in his hotel/casino now have separate veggie menus. Hooray for positive change in Vegas! Sadly, I was only able to eat at one of his places, but I was happy to find some other great vegan eats as well. Here's the rundown.

We stayed at The Palazzo and were starving as soon as we arrived. Best place for a vegan dinner in the hotel? Hands down, Grand Lux. Its huge menu has a few vegan options, like the tofu and veggie stirfry, cheeseless pizzas, and tons of salads and sides. For me, the Manhattan Salad was the winner.

This huge pile of greens, herbs, veggies, and beans is hearty and delicious, though I recommend getting the dressing on the side. The balsamic vinaigrette is vegan and tasty, but you really don't need all that it comes with.

That salad kept me full through a night of gambling, but I woke up starving and headed immediately to the Canyon Ranch Grill, also in the hotel. As someone who knows a little about Canyon Ranch, I knew I would be getting 'spa cuisine' which I assumed would include some vegan options. Right I was!

Here is the vegan tofu scramble and potatoes I had for breakfast. To be honest, I also had a sprouted grain bagel with peanut butter too because I was just that hungry (and because 'spa' cuisine also means stupidly small portions). Plus, bagels with peanut butter rule. The scramble, however, was just alright. Not the best I ever had... but for Vegas? Amazing.

That night we finally headed over to Stratta at Wynn for dinner. As promised, the vegans among us were presented with vegan menus. Hooray! Sadly, the options were pretty much what you'd expect from any Italian place: Pizza without cheese, pasta, salads, etc. But still, our own menus! It's the little things that make me happy. Also making me happy? The mushroom puree and truffle oil pizza.

It may not look like much, but it was quite good. Could have used more truffle oil... or even some olive oil (was a bit dry) but I also got a side of sauteed spinach and just put it on top. Viola! Pizza perfection.

All in all, this was one of the most delectable trips to Vegas I've ever had. I REALLY want to go back and try more of the fine dining spots at Wynn because I've heard the fancy pants places have way more creative vegan options. One day....

Meanwhile, more SF eats are coming your way soon. Yay!

Monday, November 8, 2010


For as much as I love veggie burgers and fries, I don't eat them very often. I'm generally a stickler for getting as many fresh vegetables (as opposed to their fried cousins) into my system as possible, but after my visit to Roam this past weekend, that could all change. Now, only a couple of blocks from my house, exists a mouthwatering all-vegan burger and sweet potato fries that can be mine any time I like:

I got this burger "classic" style without the house sauce (mayo-based) but you can add whatever toppings you want from their extensive list. Add an organic Mothership Wit (which they have on tap) and you have an elevated version of this infamous American meal. I say elevated because we're talking organic ingredients served up in super-tasty fashion. The fries are crisped to perfection in rice bran oil and the veggies on the bun are fresh and vibrant. The patty is on the softer side, and obviously (from the color) there are beets in it, but other than that, all I know is it's really good. One of the best veggie burgers around for sure. And coming from a non-vegan restaurant, that is pretty impressive.

Since a veggie burger every now and the never killed anyone (I dare say that's not true of a meat burger), and since this one is so yummy and so close to my house, I know I'll be back to Roam. Maybe next time I'll kick it even healthier and try their other option: A huge salad topped with three mini-burgers. No bun, no fries, but I bet it's still delicious....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Weekend of New SF Eats

This past weekend I had the pleasure of trying some great new-to-me food right here in good old San Francisco. First up, from now on no trip to the Farmer's Market will be complete without a stop across the street at Blue Hawaii for an acai bowl:

The pic is from their website because I forgot my camera, but mine looked EXACTLY the same. The base of this dish is soy blended with acai berry. Either the soymilk is frozen or there is ice involved because it's like a thick milkshake in both temperature and consistency. Mixed into the base is their homemade granola which adds a nice crunch, and then the whole thing gets topped withe bananas and berries. It regularly comes with a drizzle of honey, but it can be easily omitted. In any case, it is a refreshing and tasty way to start the day, and perfect fuel for shopping and strolling the Farmer's Market.

Later that evening, the husband and I decided to try a Mediterranean place we'd heard good things about: Fattoush. Man oh man, where has this place been all my life? I've eaten at countless restaurants like this, and Fattoush is hands down the best.

First of all there wass the freshest, most flavorful tabouleh and hummus, complete with pickles, olives, veggies, and warm whole wheat pita.

Then there was a slammin' salad (sans feta) which was crisp, sumac-laden deliciousness and so big it could have been my entree.

Speaking of entrees, this is one of the greatest things ever - falafel tabsi. This is basically falafel cooked in a mild yet super flavorful curry and served with slightly sweet (think vanilla and cinnamon) rice. It was one of the best things I've tasted in a while. But wait, there's more!

Dearest cauliflower, why do you not taste like this when I make you at home? Seriously, I don't know what sort of voodoo magic is happening in the Fattoush kitchen, but this cauliflower is AMAZING. I know the picture sucks, but we nearly devoured it before I realized I hadn't taken a picture. In any case, if (no, WHEN, because you must) you go to Fattoush, get the cauliflower side. It is stewed with onion and tomato and spices so complex I couldn't even begin to tell you what is in there. This little number definitely stole the show.

Much, much later that evening (as we were full from dinner for a while) I had this little cutey above. Well not really, as I took a photo of this 'pumpkin spice' donut, but actually ate a 'salted caramel' instead. I purchased both at the Farmer's Market earlier in the day from the all-vegan and all-wonderful Pepples Donuts, and picking a flavor was hard! I mean lemon poppyseed, double chocolate, blueberry, matcha green tea... ? I totally chose right with the salted caramel, as I'm a sucker for the sweet/salty combo, but I can't wait to try some more next time I'm near the Ferry Building.

Quite a good-eats-filled Saturday, no? Of course Sunday was Halloween, so I had my favorite vegan candies - Skittles and Chic-o-Stick - to round out the weekend of yum.

Next up? More good SF eats....