Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another Guest Post: Papa Ganache in Keyport, NJ

My wacky parents are at it again! Always on the hunt for good vegan food, they stayed a bit closer to home this time but still found a real gem. I'm really jealous, as this is a place I've wanted to go for a while. We just never seem to find the time when I'm visiting NJ. Now that they've experienced it, however, I have a feeling it won't take much arm twisting to get them to go back. Here's their story:

Today we headed to Red Bank for lunch at Pizza Fusion (great, as usual). Afterward, I got out the smartphone and googled Papa Ganache, a vegan bakery we've heard of but had never been to. It's in Keyport which is a bit far to drive just for a cupcake but, today, we were already in Red Bank so we were right in the neighborhood… more or less. So, GPS in hand, we made our way to 25 Church St. Sharing a storefront with other businesses, Papa Ganache isn't huge but is instantly charming.

When we walked in, I only had one question..."What's vegan?" The answer was, "Everything." Good answer. At that point, the only problem was keeping our purchase down to an amount that seemed reasonable for two people. Everything looked so delicious! We picked a few choice goodies, had them box 'em up, and got out of there while we still had our wits about us. (An all-vegan bakery case can be quite intoxicating!)

In the photo, you can see most of our choices this day (we WILL be back!). In front, you see the chocolate chipwich and the smaller, heart-shaped, whoopie pie. The two cupcakes in the back are the chocolate/chocolate on the right and, to the left, the "Dripping Elvis", a banana cupcake with peanut butter icing, crushed peanuts, dried banana slice and a chocolate drizzle. Finally, to the right, tomorrow's breakfast...a blueberry/lemon muffin and a pumpkin crumble muffin.

I said that these were most of our choices because Joan also got a chocolate chip cookie and I got one of those whoopie pies "for the road". They were, predictably, amazing and leave us thinking that the rest of these goodies will be so as well.

That's the story. Now it's about time for me to stop typing and start enjoying that chocolate/chocolate cupcake!!!

So there you have it folks. Makes you want to take a trip to NJ, right? Things have been busy here at EWWO headquarters lately, but I promise to actually write a post of my own sometime in the relatively near future. Meanwhile, I hope you are eating well and making sweet memories all your own.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guest Post! Lambs Bread in Columbia, SC

Now that my parents are both retired, they have taken to doing crazy things like going on road trips to South Carolina (and beyond!), looking up meals on Happy Cow along the way. On a recent expedition, they found themselves at Lambs Bread. Here's what my dad had to say:

The story goes like this... A search of Happy Cow came up with only one vegan restaurant in Columbia: Lambs Bread. Off we went with our GPS in hand and finally came to a store front in an otherwise dark block of Main St.

Most vegan restaurants can be preppy or new-agey so we weren't expecting one filled with African art. In fact, one side of the room was a virtual altar of objets de Afrique:

Also most unexpected was our host, the proprietor of this establishment, Khurhu, whose business card lists him as "demon slayer":

We were the only customers there as it was a Tuesday night, and we had some great conversation with Khurhu. There are no menus - just a whiteboard listing some basic sandwiches (vegan cheesesteaks etc.) but the real food was broken into proteins and sides. A small plate was a protein and two sides; large was a protein and three sides. We ordered small plates. One came with coconut curry tofu and one with "beef tips". We also ordered a bowl of black bean soup to share. But, when the Khurhu brought the food to our table, he explained that since it was late he gave us extra sides.

So we had white beans, rutabaga, sweet potato, cabbage, collards, kale.....a whole heap of goodness. The overall feel was very "soul food" but with vegan proteins. As such, the food was substantial as well as delicious and we ended up taking some home. Khurhu was a true delight. A vegan for over forty years, he also runs a store called The Oracle Speaks which specialized in African arts, oils, incense, candle, drums, etc. He described himself as a sun king and explained Lambs Bread as referring to the idea that food generates spirit, so purity and non-cruelty are key. Or something like that. Overall, a most enjoyable evening.

So there you have it. If my folks should end up anywhere else interesting and tasty, I'll have them post again. Meanwhile, stay tuned for Napa eats... and have a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Florida Feasts

Wow, am I ever behind on posting. Sorry! To keep this short, I am only going to post the places in FL that I've either never been to before and had never written about before. That being said, OF COURSE Sublime in Fort Lauderdale was amazing and the vegan platter at The Cafe at Books & Books in South Beach is still one of my favorite dishes in the area. But, you've seen all that before. Let's see what's on the vegan menu in New Smyrna Beach, shall we?

On the first night that my family was all together in NSB, we went to Grandma's favorite: The Garlic. Normally "Grandma's favorite" and "vegan" don't go hand in hand, but this Italian spot has tons of options, like the roasted olives and crostini, above. Warm from the wood-burning oven, they are awesome.

The bruschetta with fresh basil was also divine. Nice and light, this refreshing plate whetted the appetite for heartier fare like...

...the pasta with olive oil, garlic, and veggies. Yum! All the veggies were perfectly cooked and delicious, but of course I needed more greens.

Hence the side of garlic sauteed spinach. Meal perfection. But still, as happy-making as this meal is, there is at least one more tasty (and unexpected) vegan option in New Smyrna Beach. I'm talking about the homemade veggie burger at The Breakers.

It's a beautiful thing, ain't it? The all vegan patty gets doused in Greek spices that make it truly unique and flavorful like whoa. Plus, it's huge! Served up with a Corona (yup, they're vegan) and fries, it's a great meal. The icing on this cake? The dining area overlooks the gorgeous beach, which also makes for a lovely post-meal walk:

So there you have it. Next up, I've got some Napa eats. We're heading to Millennium for Thanksgiving as usual, but I hope to hit some new-to-me spots this weekend too, so stay tuned!

Friday, November 11, 2011

PA and NJ Winners

I'm currently on a plane back to SF (Hooray!) so I wanted to share with you my two favorite meals from my time at "home" before I forgot them. Not that I could - they were both so tasty! :) First up is my go-to Thai restaurant in NJ, Pad Thai.

I actually think this is some of the best Thai food you can get outside of Thailand (yes, I've been there) and they are extremely veg-friendly. Those veggie spring rolls above are light and crispy and come with a slightly sweet and jammy sauce that compliments them perfectly. Everything you could want in a spring roll. But my favorite dish on the menu is something slightly more rich and decadent, the Massaman Curry.

This slightly spicy curry is coconut-milk based and has incredible depth of flavor. The crunchy peanuts sprinkled on top add fun crunch and salty bite. I just love them. Spooned over some brown rice, this dish is something special. FYI, unlike some Thai places, all the items on the vegetarian section of the menu are fish sauce-free. Being the crazy person I am, I still ask every time. They practice restraint and manage not to roll their eyes at me. :)

Just over the river (literally) in PA, is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere: Sprig & Vine. It's a beautiful space in a great location serving up some delicious food, like the salad above. Divine dressing over crispy leaves with just a sprinkling of quinoa. Love it.

Edamame falafel is a must-try at S&V. The black sesame tahini and pickled radishes really bring these bad boys to life, but even alone they are yummy. Warm, soft, spheres of love.

My entree was the "Chicken-of-the-Woods" mushroom dish and it was amazing. It was served up with delica squash, a potato "cake," and lentils which really rounded out the autumnal feel, and the mushrooms themselves were hearty and mouth-watering. Every component paired with its neighbor and I was left with one happy mouth.

Not so happy that I skipped dessert, of course. The chocolate mousse pie is a silky sensational ending to your meal. The deep chocolate of the pie and the cool coffee ice cream are best friends and you will be happy you met them.

If you should find yourself in the area of these two places, I highly recommend a trip to both. Of course, that's not all I ate. I hit up some new-to-me places (and some old faves) in Florida, too, so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Boston Eats

I had such a great time in the Boston area, and some good food too! I already posted about my favorite place over at Vegan Favorites (appropriate, no?), but a close second was True Bistro. However, despite the tastiness, I couldn't help but notice that so many of the menu items at True Bistro were reminiscent of other dishes at well-known vegan restaurants like Sublime, Millennium, and Portobello. Speaking of.....

This dish reminded me a lot of Portobello's mushroom pate, and while it was beautiful, it wasn't as good. It just didn't have the depth of flavor. The pickled vegetables were nice though.

My salad was my favorite part of the meal. The house-made "chevre" was delicious and added the perfect amount of tang. I really liked it.

My entree, the crusted tempeh, was pretty tasty, but it was the scrumptious lentils made this dish. Yum.

Ice cream tasted like Trader Joe's coconut ice cream and I could have made a better brownie at home. But whatever, I like chocolate.

The dessert winner was definitely this Napolean. The layers of crisp phyllo were perfectly sweet and the white chocolate mousse (which I didn't think I would like) was amazing. Definitely the highlight of the meal.

In general I don't think I'll be rushing back to True Bistro on my next trip, but I look forward to heading back to Boston. What was once a vegan wasteland is getting more and more good vegan food all the time. Yay! Next up: Some amazing PA and NJ meals. Stay tuned...