Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Metro North, Princeton NJ

This will be a quick post, as I'm packing and preparing to leave tomorrow for Bali and Australia, but I wanted to let you know about the lovely experience I had at Metro North Restaurant in Princeton, NJ last week. My cousins had raved about the place, and the menu seemed to have some veganizable items, so off we went. The atmosphere is cozy despite the fact that it is a HUGE space, with a fireplace, dim (but not too dim) lighting, and tables spaced far enough away from each other that you don't feel like your intruding on your neighbor's meal. And, indeed, there is vegan food to be had....

Nothing is inherently vegan except the mixed greens salad, which (of course) I had. It was a good salad, but not great. Whatever, I got my greens. What was great, however, is the Mediterranean Platter. When you take away the feta and focaccia crisps (both not vegan) it becomes roasted red pepper hummus with olive tapenade, crackers, and veggies.... but it's still really good I swear!

Even more delicious was my pizza (sans cheese of course) with mushrooms. Really nice sauce and good quality olive oil make all the difference here. I know that cheeseless pizza and hummus and high on the list of things vegans hate ordering in omni restaurants, but Metro North's versions may change a few minds. My husband also really liked his roasted portobello sandwich with a side of broccoli rabe instead of potato salad.

Anyway, Metro North is a lovely place to eat well with others in NJ. I'm off to finish packing. I look forward to sharing all the vegan goodies I discover in Bali and Australia when I'm back at the end of January. Meanwhile, have a mightily happy new year, everyone! Eat well!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My New Love, Samovar Tea Lounge

A while ago, there was a Groupon for Samovar Tea Lounge. I scoped the menu online, decided it was vegan-friendly enough and then proceeded to forget all about it. Meanwhile, a vegan friend of mine who is more on top of her game snatched it up, went, and told me all about what I was missing. I was jealous at first, but then happy to know that there is even more good vegan food in San Francisco that I was previously aware of. Plus, it comes with tea!

Needless to say when they ran another Groupon recently, I was on it, and last weekend the husband and I tried it out. That is my incredibly mellow and lovely mint tea, above, which was served as part of their "Moorish Service", easily veganized by switching out the cheese for tofu. Check it out:

Ok these crazy bad phone pics do this food no justice, so forgive me. Next time I'll bring a real camera. Anyhoo, up front you see their super-flavorful marinated tofu over greens with a tarragon vinaigrette. In the middle are the two dishes of roasted eggplant (to make up for the lack of yogurt it normally comes with) and one dish of hummus. The hummus was just alright but the eggplant had a deep and rich smoky flavor I loved. The crackers this meal was served with were also quite tasty, and the meal was rounded out with two mint-stuffed dates. The entire experience - from food to service to ambiance - was just wonderful, and I'm already looking forward to going back and trying some of their other vegan options. To note: I went to the location in Hayes Valley and each outpost has a slightly different menu, so just check online before you go.

In other news, the holidays are closing in like something that closes in really fast, and between my parents visiting and us traveling to Bali and Australia, I may not get to write for a while. I'll still be posting regularly over at Vegan Favorites, though, so stay tuned over there. Here's hoping you have a wonderful holiday season - full of laughter, love, and eating well!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ubuntu, Now Closed

I was lucky enough get into Ubuntu for dinner on the last weekend they were open. They officially closed for the winter on November 21st, so even though I've been to Ubuntu a ton(including an amazing meal this past May, I feel compelled to share this last little ditty with you, lest they never reopen their doors. But, they will, I hope, because veg dining inNapa has never had it so good. A quick rundown of our last supper:

Olives and almonds. Always on the menu, always incredible. This time was no exception.

Thai curry coconut soup. My second most favorite course of the evening. This really popped
with authentic Thai flavor. Well done, Ubuntu.

Roasted beet and fennel art. As tasty as it is pretty.

The infamous "Garden Snake" salad. So lightly dressed it can be off-putting to those who haven't tasted their veggies naked, but I LOVE it.

And there it is folks, the best thing on the whole darn menu, always. The Rancho Gordo bean stew. I dare you to find a bean stew you love more anywhere on the planet. So savory and rich and wonderful... it's just crazy how good it is. We asked for more. And by we I mean my husband who guarded his extra bowl with his life until he had slurped up every last drop. Lucky dude.

Roasted butternut squash and house-made focaccia bread. A new fall classic. But it's no bean stew. :)

Dessert this time was terribly underwhelming. This hodgepodge of veggies was more savory than sweet and screamed, "We didn't plan for a vegan dessert on our second-to-last night of being open." Oh well, the rest of the meal made up for it.

So there you have it - no more Ubuntu postings until they reopen, folks. Up next? I fall completely head-over-heels in love for a vegan tea service. Stay tuned!

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...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Ok, a quick post before I take off for Mexico.... and it's a goodie. I've wanted to try Zante Indian Pizza for a while, but I figured that since they were so far away I would have to go to them. Then I learned that they delivered all the way up to my neck of the woods completely across town. Hooray! Before I knew it, the box containing their unique combination of Indian food and pizza was in my kitchen:

Look how yummy:

That's their Indian Vegan Pizza, and if you could smell that picture you would be incredibly hungry right now, trust me. The aroma of spices and veggies coming off this pie was darn near intoxicating. And the taste lived up to the scent. Now, it wasn't the best Indian food I've ever had, but it was darn good. Kind of like piling up your Indian food all onto the naan bread and eating it that way, only this crust is firmer and up to the task of delivering the goodness to your face. I'd order it again in a heartbeat.

So there you have it. Can't wait to tell you about the good eats of Mexico when I'm back next week. Eat well, y'all!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


It's a funny name for a restaurant, but Tuba (in Turkish, a tree in paradise) is serving up some delectable Turkish bites, many of which are vegan. Be warned: The servers have thick accents and weren't sure about the whole vegan thing, but they were friendly and willing to check with the chef on everything. Here's what we had:

Hummus and Dolmas to start. Both were fairly typical versions of both, only with the addition of sumac. I LOVE sumac, so I was happy. The pita (not pictured) had black sesame seeds on it, which I also love. Not a bad start.

We also ordered some ezme, a ground walnut and red pepper dish. Ezme I've had before has been very smooth, not unlike hummus, but this was a bit on the chunkier side, and also way more flavorful than those in my previous encounters. Nice warm spices really brought the walnuts and and red pepper together in harmony and, after getting past the boob-like
appearance (I mean c'mon, chef, really?) we gobbled it up.

I had this delicious "Ttuba" salad for my entree, and it was really tasty. Kind of like a Greek salad but with no cheese, and with the addition of pita chips and dried cranberries. The sweetness of those craisins was an unexpectedly nice touch. We also got a side of falafel that was nice and crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. I crumbled it into my salad and was quite happy.

All in all, I'd go back to Tuba in a heartbeat. The prices are great, the atmosphere welcoming, and the food ain't bad to boot!

Off to Mexico on Thursday (where I hope to eat VERY well) but I may get in one more SF post before leaving, so stay tuned.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Atelier Crenn

In keeping with the tone of the fancy meal of my last post, I give you an even fancier meal this go around. Last weekend, some good friends and I hit up a spot in SF that's been getting a lot of buzz lately for pushing the boundaries of what food can be: Atelier Crenn. An understated decor (a few whimsical touches against a rather grey backdrop in the "metaphorical garden" room where we ate) really let the artistry of the food shine. Our entire table did the chef's 8 course tasting menu, my husband and I going with the vegan version. Check out what Chef Crenn and team provided for us lucky folk:

First up, a tomato and herb amuse bouche. As a first taste, it was perfect. It captured the essence of its ingredients, whetted the palate for more, and revealed the talent behind the food, peaking our curiosities for what would be next. We were still not prepared.

The second amuse was an uber-delicate orb of cocoa butter. Slightly sweet and filled with a liquid center, it really defies explanation. It almost has to be experienced to be believed that such a paper thin shell could hold anything, let alone the divine nectar it concealed. We were now amazed and ready for the first course.

Gorgeous, right? This garden on a plate was such a fun layering of vegetables, crunchy quinoa, and sauces worth slurping (I restrained myself) that I could hardly take it. Art in edible form.

Course 2 was a carrot sorbet with aloe gelee. I couldn't even conceive of such things in my wildest dreams. The sorbet was beautifully salty and the aloe such a surprisingly good partner for it. By now my mind was being blown. It continued.

Course 3 was... well... I don't even know. The only thing I remember about the server's description was the "cucumber sheet". So basically we had pockets of crazy textures and flavors all covered with this blanket of something intensely cucumber-y (in a good way). I'm pretty sure magic was involved here.

Course 4 was my favorite flavor wise. I love mushrooms, and these may be the best I've ever eaten. I was getting pretty tipsy (off the best pinot noir I've ever tasted, by the way) so I'm not sure what combination of herbs and foams were at work here, but I simply remember wanting there to be a big old messy pile of these mushrooms on my plate instead of the thin, artistic line.

Course 5's eggplant was delicious as well, the carrot puree on the plate adding a nice brightness. At this point, the wine is not helping these photos at all. Apologies.

I can not even tell you how fragrant course 6 was. Suddenly we were in a eucalyptus forest, the astringent scent filling the air and totally reviving our wine and umami-soaked tongue. You see, attached to a few of those eucalyptus skewers were frozen, eucalyptus infused sorbet lollipops. Incredible, cleansing, and a lovely preparation for what was next.

What I remember most about course 7 was that stunning coconut powder in the center of the plate. Wow! I am not even a huge coconut fan and I loved it. LOVED. You'd think by now I'd have stopped being flabbergasted by everything that arrived in front of me. Not true... but even if that had been the case, dessert would have still blown my mind.

This peach explosion was so enjoyable to look at, dissect, play with, eat... it was really the most wonderful way to wrap up the meal. Encompassing the best of all the dishes, only in sweet (but not too sweet) form. I couldn't have enjoyed it more.

For a final treat, us vegans got the chocolate bark and jelly candies and they were a much appreciated sweet bite. Even now, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the food we ate at Atelier Crenn. Having eaten at almost all the high-end restaurants in SF, this was hands down the most creative meal I've ever had. The service is also attentive without being coddling, and the whole meal took place over the course of about 4 hours. This is the same with most of the fancy pants places, but the difference is most other places also serve tons of bread. Here the focus is strictly on the main courses, which I liked. However, this did mean we left pretty drunk and not quite full. I would still go back to AC for the experience, however. I don't know of any other place in SF pulling off such innovative cuisine, and I'd love to see what they could come up with next time....

Ok, back to the real world in my next post. A new-to-me Mediterranean place to be exact. Stay tuned!