Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunrise Deli

I'm pretty sure that simple Mediterranean food like dolmas, falafel, tabouleh, hummus, etc., are some of the best foods on the planet. Luckily for me, there is a plethora of such fare in San Francisco, and last night I tried out a new-to-me place that delivered on both flavor and cost: Sunrise Deli.

You're looking at the large Vegetarian Combo. You get two dolmas, two falafel, a mountain of tabouleh, huge scoops of hummus and baba ganoush, tahini, pita (not pictured) olives and pickled turnips all for $8.99! Even better was that it was all delicious. The falafel was cooked perfectly and the baba ganoush was some of the best I've ever had. Delightfully smoky and rich.

I went to the location on Irving Street, but there are two more in the Bay Area, with a third opening soon in downtown SF. I highly suggest you pick one and go.

Up next, I finally make it to a place that's been on my to-try list for months! Stay tuned....

Friday, January 28, 2011


Marengo on Union opened in my hood a while ago and I've been wanting to go mainly because of the restaurant's subtitle of "whisky, wine & sliders." A good friend of mine has been promising to school me in whisky (a bit of an obsession of hers) and having my lesson while noshing on some veggie sliders sounded awesome. Alas, the "shroomer", as they call their veggie patty, is not vegan. Way to accomodate some but not all, guys. Sigh. However, with a few alterations, there was plenty to eat on the menu.

In the picture you can see everything I consumed at Marengo. On the left was the Asian Grilled Chicken Salad. Since I obviously got it without the chicken, they gave me extra edamame. Hooray! It was a tasty bowl of lettuces, napa cabbage, black sesame seeds, slivered almonds, edamame and crispy tortilla strips in a sweet and sour vinaigrette. Quite good actually, and would be worth going back for. The sweet potato fries on the the right were super duper delicious, but then again sweet potato fries are pretty much my favorite food ever, so I might be biased. All in all a good meal. In the back there you can see my Knob Creek bourbon. My aficionado friend really likes that one and thought it would be a good way to ease into the world of whisky for a newbie like me. I don't know that I'm a convert from my beloved wine, but it really was nice and warming and I'd try it again. Oh, and Barnivore says it's vegan too!

One cool thing about Marengo is that on nice days the roof is fully retractable, so when we get some nice warm weather, I'd definitely go back for open-air whisky sipping and fry eating. Now if only they would get the damn cheese out of their veggie slider...

Have a great weekend everyone, and don't forget to check in over at Vegan Favorites for our daily picks!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Frozen Soy Goodness

I've been trying to keep it to myself out of respect for my freezing cold East Coast pals, but I can hold it in no longer.... SF is having a full on heat wave full of 65-70 degree temps and cloudless days. It's amazing! In fact there's no rain in the forecast until the first week of February! Sorry to all my cold friends out there. When you're enjoying summer and we're all fogged in, feel free to rub it in my face. Meanwhile, let me tell you how the husband and I took a stroll (with NO JACKETS!) and enjoyed some frozen yogurt on Sunday. It was glorious. And the fro-yo of choice? Well, Fraiche of course!

How lucky are we that the only place with an organic soy variety of this frozen delight is within walking distance of our apartment? Very lucky. As you can see, I topped mine with strawberries and chocolate and he got almonds and pomegranate seeds. The toppings at Fraiche rule! And the yogurt itself is light and tangy and wonderful. It's no secret that Fraiche's soy yogurt one of my favorite foods in SF and, warm weather or not, I will be back. You should go too!

Time for a brief EWWO break, but don't forget you can find me blogging away over at Vegan Favorites. See you there...

Monday, January 24, 2011


Yesterday we took a trip down the peninsula to meet up with the fam in Palo Alto. Being unfamiliar with the area's restaurants outside of my old fave Zibibbo, I let my sister-in-law pick our dinner destination: Junnoon. I must admit that, after reading through the online menu, I had my concerns about vegan options, but I needn't have worried. Our lovely waitress kindly brought over a menu she personally marked up with all the vegan or veganizable items clearly visible, and there were tons of choices. Being the salad junkie I am, here's where I began:

That is the Water Chestnut and Sweet Potato Salad. So inventive, right? Besides those two unique ingredients, the bowl also included almonds, dried figs, spinach, and a tangy tamarind dressing that was crazy addictive. The only alteration the chef had to make was to remove the drizzle of yogurt that normally sits atop the plate. Really, this was one of the best salads I've had in a while. Soft roasted sweet potatoes and crunchy water chestnuts are best friends. Who knew?

Up next, we shared the Broccoli Shaslik - a dish of broccoli, onions, and peppers cooked with tons of cream cheese. In this case the chef swapped out the cheese for another tamarind preparation, and it was awesome. The broccoli was cooked beautifully and the mint chutney was a great for dipping. Bold flavors here, people, super bold. I loved it!

We also shared the Keema, a more traditional Indian curry (and one of the inherently vegan menu items). However, in a totally untraditional twist, this dish is comprised of soy crumbles and peas. Yes, soy crumbles! Normally this dish is a side order at Junnoon, but we ordered it as an entree and it was so good! It had a rich deep tomato curry flavor and just the right amount of spice. The peas were pop-in-your-mouth perfection. It was perfect with the Roti - their uber-tasty (and warm and chewy and VEGAN!) bread.

Once again I've been impressed by the vegan-awareness at an omni restaurant. Could it be that this vegan thing is really catching on??? Stay tuned for more eats at omni places, and don't forget to check in daily over at Vegan Favorites for our faves of the moment. Have a good week everyone!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Orange-Hued Delights

As I mentioned in my last post, I have an awesome friend who invited me over for dinner - dinner which she made using recipes in the "orange" section of Color Me Vegan, Colleen Patrick Goudreau's latest cookbook. The book focuses on the nutrients found in veggies, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds, grouping them by color. This makes for a fun read (who new that there was alpha, as well as beta, carotene?!?) and some deliciously healthy food.

Speaking of which, check out the beautiful Peach Salsa (p.50). I wrote about it over at Vegan Favorites, but the summary is that it's awesome. :) What I didn't tell you over there is that we served this with another orange-colored delight:

Sweet Potato Chips from Food Should Taste Good. These crispy corn tortilla chips have just a hint of sweet potato flavor and are the exact right size for dipping. I'll definitely be getting these bad boys again!

For our entree, we had the flavorful Orange-Glazed Tempeh (p.61). I really liked this recipe a lot, and the suggestion to serve it over sauteed kale is spot on. It adds just the right amount of bitterness to the semi-sweet glaze. This was also super easy to make and just might become a go-to meal in the EWWO house.

For dessert, my pal deviated from Color Me Vegan, but kept the "orange" theme with this pumpkin pie. She also kept the Colleen Patrick Goudreau theme, using a recipe from her earlier book (and my sweet tooth's favorite!), The Joy of Vegan Baking (p.104). I am ashamed to admit I've never made a pumpkin pie, even though it is one of my favorite desserts of all time. However, this pie may just get me out of my lazy pants. It was divine, and a wonderful ending to our meal.

Up next? I'm off to Palo Alto this afternoon for some fun family time and with high hopes for what appears to be a vegan-friendly restaurant. Fingers crossed... full report to follow. Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of your weekend, y'all.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Brunch at Gather

As you know, I loved my dinner at Gather a few months ago, and I've been dying to go back ever since. Well, my wish finally came true today when I met up with some East Bay friends for brunch.

One thing I was a bit sad about was the lack of sweet vegan items. No French toast or pancakes (or even granola!) for us herbivores. However, this was all quickly forgiven when I tasted the savory things we ordered, like the side of roasted potatoes, above. Laden with green onion and herbs, they were some of the best breakfast potatoes I've had, and the perfect accompaniment to my winter kale salad:

Oh my goodness, people. This was delicious. I know I'm a kale freak, but this is an amazing dish. The sunchoke-tahini sauce on the plate is sublime, and the brussel sprouts and artichokes are awesome, but the real show stopper is that almond "parmesan" sprinkled on top. It is salty, tangy, and adds the perfect bite to the wilted kale. I was in heaven.... and that was before I tasted the pizza!

Cauliflower pizza with olive caper sauce and cashew cheese, how I love thee. All those tasty toppings and a ridiculously good crust to boot! How they get the edges to get all puffed up and fluffy while the rest remains sturdy and unfloppable - not to mention scrumptious - is beyond me. I could seriously eat this pizza every day and be a very, very, happy person.

There we are happy and sated. Another great meal at Gather, and surely not my last. Tonight my friend is cooking an orange-themed meal for us from Color Me Vegan and I can't wait! I'll be sure to let you know how it went. Meanwhile, don't forget I'm blogging fairly often over at Vegan Favorites. Go on over and say hello..... and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shelley Visits... and I Develop Multiple Personalities!

Well, it's not really another personality, per se, but I am offering up my vegan knowledge in an additional location these days: Vegan Favorites! Shelley and I decided to start this mutual blog during her visit this past weekend, so in between eating excursions we got busy and started posting. I hope you love it. For me, it's a venue in which I can put my short attention span to good use. I mean, why detail an entire meal when I can just tell you about my favorite dish? I also will be talking about favorite vegan apparel, skincare, accessories, etc. So bookmark it, subscribe, and be informed.

For now, back to the food. Of course there was much eating well to be done while Shelley was visiting and we hit new-to-her places like Saturn Cafe, Cha-Ya, and DOSA. All amazing, as usual. 'Nuff said. Shelley has her own SF favorites though, and one of them is Love N Haight. Since leaving the Lower Haight neighborhood 6 (yikes!) years ago, I don't really hit up this vegan-friendly sandwich shop very often, but our visit this weekend reminded me of why I loved it so much. Everything vegan is clearly labeled, the sandwiches (Shelley loved her mock chicken) are HUGE, and the woman behind the counter is just about the nicest person you'll ever meet. Oh, and the falafel salad is the bomb:

This plate of greens and other salady items comes with paprika-topped hummus, olives, peperoncini, and big rounds of warm falafel. Technically it also comes with two pita, but I never get them because otherwise I am in danger of never eating again. So much good food! I must return back to Love N Haight in the near future.

The best food of the weekend though, had to be the brunch the Shelley made for me on Sunday. The above orange scone was just the appetizer. The light, flakey, melt-in-your-mouth appetizer. :)

Up next were these tofu quiches which you can read all about at Vegan Favorites.

And then, the dessert of brunches everywhere, and something almost never offered in a vegan version: French Toast. Of course, this is Shelley we're talking about after all, this was cinnamon French toast with caramelized banana syrup. Isn't it beautiful? This was so warm and sweet and scrumptious I can't even begin to tell you. And it looked pretty easy too! She used a good loaf of bread and made a batter of So Delicious Coconut Milk, cinnamon, and a touch of canola oil for browning purposes. Maybe there was more to it than that, but I walked away feeling like even the kitchen-challenged like me could make it.

All in all, a wonderful and productive visit for sure! Shelley is back in Boston now, and it's back to reality for me. Stay tuned for more SF eats, including another homemade feast in the near future. Oh, and don't forget to check the daily (yes, promise!) posts over at Vegan Favorites.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More Hawaiian Eats!

A few days into our Honolulu vacation, we rented a car and drove around the island looking for more secluded beaches and, of course, more good eats. We found the former in abundance (that's my fave, above). The latter? Not so much. Sure, there were plenty of shrimp and seafood places, but as far as good vegan fare was concerned, the pickings were slim. As any good vegan would, I broke out the iPhone and began scouring menus near our destination, the town of Haleiwa, on the North Shore. Before long, we were steering our way toward Cholo's Homestyle Mexican. Having worked up an appetite jumping waves, I was really looking forward to some chips, guacamole, and cervezas.

The sun having set, we settled in and placed our orders. Things were off to a good start when I started to ask about dairy in the veggie burrito and the waiter piped in, saying "The veggie burrito is completely vegan." Hooray! Ordering done, cold beer in hand, I awaited the chips and guac. Soon some greasy chips and obviously frozen and thawed guacamole showed up. So disappointing. It was, literally, the worst guacamole I have ever tasted. Sadly, the house salsa was not much better. Things could only get better from there, right?

Well, kind of. I mean, the veggie burrito was at least edible. But really, nothing to write home about. Maybe we're spoiled by having some of the best Mexican food outside of Mexico available to us in SF, but this just wasn't good. Oh well, it was at least filling enough to last me into the next day - New Year's Eve!

For our NYE celebration, we chose the Moana Surfrider where for one set price you got a fancy 5 course dinner at their Beachhouse restaurant and admission to their party. Unfortunately, they seemed totally unprepared for all the people and though we had a 9pm reservation, we didn't even start eating until 10. But, at least the food was good! They even went so far as to print out a special vegan menu (above) for me and the hubby.

Our first course was the tomato and avocado tartare and it was delicious. Finally the guacamole I wanted from the day before, only this guacamole had its fancy pants on! Great start.

Next up was the gazpacho. This was a little thick for my liking, but the flavor was big and robust, and the crunch of the granny smith apples and walnuts was really appealing. Another winner!

The third course was my favorite. This steamed tofu was stuffed with a mushroom reduction that was earthy, savory, and satisfying, and the baby bok choy had just enough crunch left to assure this dish was not just one big sog-fest. It was very yummy.

By this point I was drunk (NYE = champagne!) and didn't even take a picture of the last course. I assure you the fern shoots were very good. After that it was off to the dessert bar (above) where the only vegan items were fruit. Oh well, you can't win 'em all. Plus they had more champagne!

So 2011 was rung in with style, and now I'm back in SF and trying not to miss the warm sun too much. On the super-duper plus side, a good friend and fellow vegan is on her way to me from Boston right now. There will be many delicious bites to be had over this long weekend. Not the least of which are all the goodies available at Saturday's SF Vegan Bake Sale. Peep the flyer (above) and get yourself there. You'd be a fool not to!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hawaiian Eats

I was lucky enough to spend the days surrounding New Year's Eve in Honolulu and it was amazing. It was a week of warm breezes, frozen drinks, and lots of good eats... like this Mediterranean Salad:

This was my first meal in Hawaii, and I got it right in my hotel. At the Hyatt Regency's casual Terrace Grill to be exact. Comprised of fluffy couscous, tart red onions, sweet cranberries, and just enough veggies and almonds, it's a real winner. It (and a daiquiri or three) definitely helped get me acclimated to my new, tropical, surroundings. I could have lounged on the open air terrace for the entire vacation actually.... but there was a town to explore!

One of the best places I found for vegan food in Honolulu was Peace Cafe. I ADORE this place. So homey and welcoming, this little bistro serves up some seriously good (and all vegan!) food. They are mainly a lunch restaurant, heavy and the salads and sandwiches, but they also serve up fresh vegan baked goods and delicious coffees and teas as well. I really loved my Caesar Salad (above). The crisp lettuce held up beautifully to the cashew cream dressing and crumbled nut "cheese." A few slices of toasted garlic bread drizzled with fruity olive oil completed the plate nicely.

And then there was this bad boy - The Popeye. This sandwich of miso-tahini spinach and tofu is outstanding. First of all, the bread is perfection. Super soft and able to soak in the tahini without getting soggy. But the flavors were what really got me. Everything was so fresh and
there was obviously so much care that went into making this sandwich. If everyone ate this food all the time, I really think there would be a little more peace in the world. I'll be back Peace Cafe!

After lunch there we decided to walk down the street to what I thought was a small health food store so I could see if they carried kombucha, and so we could get some snacks for the beach. Well, not only does Down to Earth have kombucha and all the snacks you could ever want, this huge all vegetarian grocery store also has a salad bar, deli, vegan pizza and baked goods, and just about anything else your heart could desire. We decided to come back for lunch another day so I could make myself a mean salad at the salad bar and my husband could have this wonderful creation:

That is DTE's mock chicken sandwich and it is awesome (well, the one bite I was allowed before my hand was swatted away was awesome)! Crispy breaded "chicken" is served up with all the fixin's on a toasted bun. Down to Earth has tons of made-to-order items like this on their menu and if we'd had more time in Honolulu, and if it wasn't a $10 cab ride each way from our hotel, we would have eaten there a lot more often. Next trip for sure. :)

Okay that's all I have the energy for right now. Is it just me, or is this week a lot more crazy than it should be? Where does the time go? In any case, keep eating well and I'll be back with more Hawaiian eats soon.....

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Holidays in SF: The Final Chapter

After our East Bay Day, we had a pretty chill Wednesday. We went to see the Japanesque exhibit at the Legion of Honor (go if you haven't, it's awesome) and then we headed over to my mom's favorite place in the city - Underdog.

I never really make it out there myself because A. I don't normally go for the meat analogs, and B. I feel like veggie dogs and tater tots are easy enough to make at home. That being said, Underdog is fantastic. The Vegan Polish (above) has just enough pepper and spices and, when topped with their super delicious fresh sauerkraut and some whole grain mustard, it is cylindrical brilliance. My dad loved his Vegan Italian too, and my mom, always smitten with Underdog, reveled in her plain old Vegan Dog. We all got the perfectly crispy tater tots too of course.... because what goes better with dogs than tots??? Maybe I should head out to Underdog more often!

The next day we went back to another old fave: Saha. I've been there tons of times so I decided to just enjoy the moment and not take pics.

Following that was Christmas Eve and we had a wonderful day! First stop was Ananda Fuara, where I had some really lip-smacking butternut squash soup (above) and this hearty salad with tahini dressing:

I used to go to Ananda all the time when I first moved to SF, but I hadn't been in forever. It may have slightly religious overtones, but the food is quite tasty and reasonably priced. Yet another place I really should patronize more often. (It's also really close to the Symphony, which was our post-lunch destination.) Anyway, I was keeping it kind of healthy at lunch because I knew we were in for some decadence at dinner. Ready for the pictures? Well, too bad because I didn't take any! Apologies really, as our dinner at Fleur de Lys was quite wonderful. If you ever want some super high-end vegan amazingness, just call in advance and they'll hook you up with a feast. My Christmas Eves of past have certainly not contained as many truffles, foams, and nuanced flavors as this one!

On Christmas itself, we kept it low key, opting for the "movie and Chinese food" route. Instead of straight up Chinese, we went for the the Pan-Asian vegan stylings of Loving Hut. My parents were intrigued by all the "Supreme Master" stuff, but we all enjoyed our food, the Veggie Curry (above) and the Cashew "Chicken" (below) being the faves.

All in all, we had such a fun time eating our way through SF for the holidays. What could be better, right? Well.... two days after Christmas, me and the hubby (and 6 of our good friends!) took off for Hawaii! Stay tuned for some great island eats in the near future. Meanwhile, enjoy the weekend and, of course, eat well!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Holidays in SF (or thereabouts) Continued

Where were we... besides in a food coma? I believe we were on the Tuesday before Christmas. In which case, it's East Bay Day! Me and the folks headed over the bridge to partake in some of Berkeley and Oakland's fine fare. It's no secret that most of the good vegan food 'round these parts is over in that neck of the woods, so every now and then it's worth the trek to the hinterlands to scoop some up. First stop? Saturn Cafe.

As you know, I've been to the Saturn Cafe in Santa Cruz, and I've been meaning to get over the the new(ish) Berkeley location for a while. What finally got me going was that they recently revamped their menu to make it oh-so-much more vegan friendly. Hooray! My chipotle corn chowder (above) was a perfect start, bringing just enough heat to warm me from the inside out.

Then, in need of greens as I always am, I had the Crispy Tofu Sesame Salad. I never have high hopes when ordering salads, but this was really good. It had nice sesame flavor and the tofu wasn't over-fried - just slightly crisp on the outside, making it the perfect partner to som
e smooth avocado and crunchy greens. Yay salads!

After taking in a play at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (just a few blocks from Saturn), we walked on over to Cinnaholic and got some ridiculously amazing cinnamon rolls (above). Like really really amazing. As in warm and gooey and sweet and over-the-top. In case you don't know how it works, Cinnaholic is an all-vegan cinnamon roll bakery in which they take a plain cinnamon roll and top it with any combination of frostings and toppings. So, yeah, it's basically heaven. We got 2 Old Skool rolls which were crazy good and then a Rocky Road (for my Dad) and a Chocolate-chip cookie dough (all mine!). And a worthwhile sugar coma it was....

After much needed walking around, we got in the car and made our way to one of my faves: encuentro. This cafe and wine bar serves some top-notch tastes, like the Little Gem Salad (above). I LOVE the salad by the same name at Millennium, but this is somehow better even though it comes from the same chef. The tempeh? Magic.

We also had the vegan cheese plate, of course. This might be my favorite thing on the menu, and it consists of 3 different nut cheeses (smoked pecan was my fave this time around), some fruit, crostini, candied walnuts, whole grain mustard, and fig paste. This is a plate of flavor you won't soon forget!

We ate lots of other things (it's a small plate-focussed place after all) but I always like to finish with their macadamia nut cheese-stuffed prunes (sometimes it's dates). Topped with candied walnuts and a balsamic reduction, it is beautifully sweet and savory and a wonderful end to the meal.

As you can see our East Bay Day was fantastic, but the trip was far from over. Up next, we're back in the city for even more yum!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

SF During the Holidays

Ok, so the above message is a little late, but Happy New Year, you fabulous eaters, you! I do so apologize for falling off the face of the planet there for a while, but I assure you I was eating well and plan to catch you up completely. Starting now! So..... my parents came to stay with us in SF the week before, and including, Christmas. They are both vegan and love food just as much as I do so, needless to say, we had a great time, starting with the Maggie Mudd cake you see above. I had it delivered (free in SF!) on the day they arrived and that amazing little package contained some of the best darn vegan ice cream in the world. One double dark chocolate layer, and one 'peanut butter palooka' layer, to be exact. Those are my favorite flavors and I highly recommend that combo should you order yourself a cake from MM any time soon. (HINT: You should!)

On our first night together, we headed to Cha-ya for some vegan noodles and sushi. This place never disappoints. The food is always fresh, tasty, and beautiful. I mean, just look at the noodle salad my mom had (above) and this sushi plate:

Yeah, I love Cha-ya. But let's move on, shall we?. The next day we headed up to wine country. There was lots of drinking. :) Can't do too much of that without needing some food though. After reading a recent horrible review of the once-so-wonderful Ubuntu, we decided to forgo our usual trip there and we hit up Whole Foods instead. Gotta love the Whole Foods salad bar:

That hearty creation kept me full through some (read: lots) more drinking and the drive home (thanks, sober Dad). Once back in SF, we had only enough sobriety left to order pizza from Amici's. Daiya-laden deliciousness arrived in minutes. (Too drunk for photos)

The following day we at at home until dinner time, when we hit up Gracias Madre for their awesome Mexican fare. As usual, the wait was long and the service was pretty crappy, but the food more than makes up for it. Also as usual, I had the Platillo de Lugumbres (above), which is your choice of two sides, served with rice, beans, and tortillas. My two sides? Always two sides of the greens. What Gracias Madre does with kale is nothing short of magic. Same thing goes for their

The perfectly roasted potatoes in their Papas al Horno are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and topped with the just-spicy-enough cashew cheese sauce. To. Die. For.

So that's all I have time/energy to write about for now. Holidays part 2 coming at you shortly, promise! Meanwhile, eat well and, if you're in SF, enjoy the sunshine!