Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Last Supper

My final day in Paris was fairly uneventful (though my suitcase finally showed up - that was exciting!). After a leisurely morning, we headed out around noon.  I set off on my own to tour Sainte Chappelle and wander the streets of Paris.  What I had been looking forward to most, however, was dinner.  There was one restaurant I had been wanting to try, Le Potager du Marais, where they do vegan versions of classic French dishes.  My mom and Peter joined me, and we were lucky to get a table right away (the restaurant is extremely small).  I started with the vegan French onion soup, which was delicious!  Full of croutons and topped with a surprisingly yummy vegan cheese.  Mom and Peter split a baked potato with an olive tapenade that was also quite tasty (I snagged a bite, of course!).  For dinner, we split two entrees, the hazelnut loaf and the pink lentil balls.  We got the almond rice for one side, and the mashed potatoes for the other.  We all agreed that the lentil balls were the tastiest item, but everything was delicious. For dessert, we shared ginger creme brulee, something that is hard to come by as a vegan version.  I have to say, they did a pretty good job!  It wasn't overly sweet, which I appreciated.

Thankfully, my trip home was not nearly as eventful as my trip out.  There was a minor glitch with my ticket, and I had to rush to catch my connecting flight, but otherwise, all was well.  The food was not as good as United's, but Lufthansa was awesome about checking in with me and making sure everything they gave me was vegan.  Plus, they give you free wine with dinner.  Lufthansa definitely wins in terms of customer service!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas in Paris

Christmas in Paris is very different from Christmas in the states. Many businesses are open and it's much more low key (other than the revellers at midnight).  We got up at 7:45 and Amelie and Sira opened their presents (the ones that Santa brought to Paris, at least).  Our morning was relaxed, with pancakes and French pastries for breakfast. We ventured out around noon and meandered up to Sacre Couer for some excellent views of the city. Dinner was beef/tofu bourginion before our trip to the ballet to see Sleeping Beauty.

Today was a gorgeous day in Paris - sunny and close to 50 degrees. A perfect day to tour the sculpture garden at the Rodin Museum. We had a late lunch at the Saint Germaine. I was convinced that I would only be able to have vegetable soup. But I asked for a vegan salad to go along with it in my halting French and was quite pleasantly surprised!  First of all, the happiness delicious - pureed with lots of greens and eaten with lots of bread. But the salad was the gem of the meal. Steamed green beans, carrots, peas, and other veggies over lettuce and cabbage, dressed perfectly with a mustard vinaigrette. It was amazing!

After lunch, we headed to the Musee D'Orsay. What a wonderful place!  Created from an old train station, the building alone is worth the trip. But the art is pretty good too. The girls had had enough museum time for the day, so they headed home while Mom, Peter, and I took in some more of the museum. We bought some fresh veggies for dinner on the way home (I love all of the fruit and vegetable stands here!) and cooked up some pasta with garlic, olive oil, and veggies. We had dinner with the kids while Melissa and Darren went out for some adult time. Dessert was hot chocolate, and now it's story time!

In other news, I think my suitcase is lost and gone forever....

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pay Phone

I've spent a lot of time on a pay phone trying to locate my suitcase. Not how I wanted to spend my vacation.  In between, however, the trip ha  been great!

Yesterday was a lazy morning, as we all continued to adjust to the time difference. Hence began the ongoing saga with United Airlines. I spent some quality time at the pay phone while the rest of the family ate pancakes. I made up for my lack of breakfast with a big bowl of Mueseli. It's so much better here!

We finally headed out in the early afternoon. Melissa and I visited a few thrift shops while Didi and Grandpa went ahead to the ice skating rink. The lines was really long, and the ice really wet, so we rode the carousel instead. We then walked to Notre Dame, but admired it from the outside as the line to  get in was ridiculously long. We'll see the inside tonight when we go for Christmas carols before midnight mass. Instead, we went into a warm cafe for hot chocolate and other warm beverages.

Didi, Grandpa, and I had an adult dinner at Le Passage Oblige, chosen for having several vegan opt up options. We had onion fritters for an appetizer. I thought they would taste like onion rings, but they were totally different and delicious. For my main meal, I ordered the platter so that could try a few different things. The best was a the veggie party with an amazing olive tapenade in top. The mushroom ragu was also pretty amazing.  This was a good choice for a vegan friendly place with meat options.

This morning we headed out early to check out the catacombs. We got there early enough that we were near the front of the line. We waited about half an hour for them to open - totally worth the wait!  For lunch, I wanted to try the Ginger Cafe, but they were closed. So I went around the corner  to Grand Appetit.  The owner was very friendly and helpful. I ordered the bowl, which came with veggies, brown rice, lentils, and seitan. It was fantastic!  Upon the owner's recommendation, I tried the apple pear tart for dessert. Yum!

My afternoon was spent at H&M buying clothes, since my suitcase still hasn't been delivered. The one helpful United employee that I talked to today told me to put a claim in for 200 Euro, rather than the $100 I spent. More shopping???

Christmas eve was spent with homemade dinner, bread, and wine. At ten we head to Notre Dame for carols. Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Journey to Paris

My trip to Paris turned out to be much longer than expected.  My flight to Logan was delayed, and the Air Canada terminal at Logan stinks. There is no food other than some Cosi sandwiches and pastries, and nothing is vegan. So I skipped dinner, assuming I'd eat on my flight to Paris. But then I missed my connection, so that didn't happen.  So I grabbed a veggie sub from Subway with my food voucher from Air Canada.

I checked into the hotel and spent an hour and fifteen minutes finding a flight to Paris for the next day. I gratefully fell into the cushy king sized bed after that ordeal. I got to the airport early the next day, since my seat to Newark wasn't confirmed. That gave me plenty of time to search for vegan food, but there wasn't much to find. So I did a lot of reading instead.

Once again, my first flight was delayed. Luckily I made my connection this time. United served the best airline meal I've ever eaten - veggie and chick pea masala with rice. The sauce was slightly spicy and delicious!

We arrived in Paris on time, but my bag did not, so I had to deal with that. I finally made it to our apartment a little after one. After a light lunch, we headed to the Eiffel Tower. The lines were too long to go to the top, so we got tickets for a boat tour on the Seine instead and got to see some sights from the river at dusk. We grabbed delicious falafel sandwiches for dinner and ate them with red wine as Amelie sang and danced for us. Despite the travel nightmare, I had a pretty good first day in Paris. And my travel karma is usually good, so I guess this was bound to happen sooner or later!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

New York

It's been a couple of weeks since my trip to New York, but I've been extremely busy since then, so I wasn't able to post.  I'm taking advantage of the snowy weather to do so now.

My trip to the city was a short one, but I packed quite a bit of eating into that time!  I arrived around 12:30 on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  After checking into my hotel, I made my way to Angelica Kitchen.  I settled into the community table and ordered the walnut lentil pate to start.  The pate was delicious and served with thin rice crackers and raw carrots for dipping.  I ordered the wee dragon bowl for my main meal, a scrumptious combo of rice, beans, tofu, steamed veggies, and sea vegetables.  Needless to say, I was quite full after lunch, so I walked to Union Square to meet Courtney at the holiday market.  After browsing the market for a bit, I was ready to try some ice cream at Lulu's Sweet Apothecary.  I didn't go all out and get a sundae, since I didn't want to ruin my appetite for dinner, so I went with a scoop of vanilla with a bunch of different candy pieces - yum!

Dinner was at Cafe Blossom on the upper west side.  We split the black-eyed pea cakes; small, but delicious!  I had BBQ tempeh with lots of other deliciousness that I can't remember at the moment.  I also sampled the peanut stew, which was amazing.  The food was excellent and the portion sizes were perfect; despite all of the eating I had done that day, I didn't feel disgustingly full.  Plus, I danced a lot of it off at the Guster concert that night.  :)

On Sunday, we started the day off right with a trip to Ess-A-Bagel, which carries seven different varieties of tofu cream cheese.  Yes, seven!  I'm not normally a bagel eater, but I thoroughly enjoyed my multi-grain bagel with sun dried tomato tofu cream cheese.  For lunch, we all met at Cubana Social in Brooklyn.  They have quite a few vegan options here.  I opted for lunch over brunch and got a vegan version of a cuban sandwich, which included sweet plantains, pickles, and avocado - absolutely delicious!

I ended my day in New Haven, arriving at the train station a little before seven.  I decided to have dinner downtown, as there were several promising options there.  I settled on Claire's Corner Copia, which had a ton of vegan options.  I ordered the curry of the day, which was packed with tofu, veggies, rice, and sauce.  But the best part of the meal was the bread - a mini loaf of delicious, flaky bread, served warm with Earth Balance.  An excellent way to end the weekend!

I'm off to Paris on Friday!  From what I hear, the vegan eating is good there, so I should have lots to report.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Celebration for the Turkeys

I made it back to Farm Sanctuary this weekend, and it was just as amazing (though sadly much shorter) as my time there in August.  We left early on Saturday morning and arrived around 12:45.  We enjoyed some hot cider and some snacks (including the amazing peanut butter brownies that they had served in August) as we waited for farm time to begin.  We started in the cow pasture, where Meg was not as happy to see us as she had been in August.  We moved on to some of the bigger cows instead.  Next we got to meet Ari, one of the new additions to the farm.  That little guy can moo!  He is absolutely adorable, and Aimee is featured once again on the website as she was captured having a moment with him.  After a visit to the sheep barn, it was time to feed the turkeys!

The Thanksgiving event is truly a special one.  Low tables are set up with platters of lettuce, cranberries, and pumpkin pie filling.  The turkeys are let out of the barn and it is their chance to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast.  They were unsure about approaching the tables, so the kids stepped in and brought the platters to them.  Once they did so, they were no longer shy about eating.  I got the chance to feed a couple of them some pumpkin pie once the crowd died down.  It was wonderful to see turkeys being fed instead of the other way around.

We headed to the pig barn next.  The pigs were agitated and noisy, and we didn't really get to get close to them.  It turns out someone had thrown a pumpkin into the barn, and when it was taken away, they became upset.  They had planned to feed the pigs the pumpkins at 3:45, but apparently someone got too eager.  They ended up feeding them a half hour early, since they were so upset.  And so guests threw pumpkins into the pen, onto the cement so they would open, and the pigs went to town!  They chomped away, often carrying huge pieces in their mouths as they trotted around the pen.  It was so cute!

After the pig feeding, we headed to our hotel to change for dinner.  We arrived at the Harbor Hotel (not our hotel - maybe next year!) in time for appetizers.  There were curry stuffed potatoes, which where okay, and a crostini with tomatoes and fava bean puree which was out of this world.  We also snacked on veggies and dressing, plus some vegan cheeses that were quite delicious.

We snagged seats at one of the reserved tables, since Aimee is a Hilda Club member.  We put our things down and then went to the bar to get some wine.  When we came back, there was a piece of paper on my chair.  I didn't think much of it, and put it on the seat next to mine.  Turns out it belonged to Gene - his notes for his speech.  Yes, I sat right next to him during dinner (and I guess kind of took his seat, though my stuff was there)!  I actually talked more to his girlfriend, Suzanne, however, who was seated next to Aimee; she is so nice!  And yes, we did offer to move so they could sit together, but they didn't seem to care that they were separated.

After salad and some delicious squash soup, dinner was ready.  It was buffet style, and there were several dishes to choose from - a cabbage and nut salad, wild rice, green beans with bread crumbs, mashed potatoes, and Tofurkey with cranberry sauce and gravy.  I took a little bit of everything.  Everything was wonderful, though I'm not a huge fan of Tofurkey; I don't love the fake meats.  Dessert was an amazing pumpkin cheesecake, but sadly, I was so full I could only eat half.  I honestly can't remember the last time I was that full after a meal!

This morning we headed to Ithaca for breakfast.  We decided to try Waffle Frolic downtown, which offers vegan waffles.  You then choose your toppings; I went with banana, almond butter, and walnuts.  The waffle went perfectly with a soy pumpkin spice latte.  It was a good breakfast choice!  We stopped at Green Star Co-op on our way home to pick up a few groceries.  I also ordered a vegan Reuben sandwich for the road.  It was delicious even two hours later when I was hungry enough to eat it.

It was a wonderful weekend!  Aimee and I are already planning our next trip out there for the Hoedown in August; we're thinking of taking an extra day and doing some wine tasting.  Sadly, August seems far away right now.  Anyway, it was worth the six hour trip in one weekend.  Normally, I would hate doing that much driving in a two day period, but for Farm Sanctuary, it's totally worth it.  :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Checking In

It has been quite some time since my last post!  That is mostly due to the fact that I have been incredibly busy with the start of the school year, and have not been traveling.  I also have not been eating out much.  I have discovered the joy of cooking simple, delicious food at home.  It's part of my new goal in life - to enjoy being home more, and not out running around all of the time.  So instead I've been making soups, stews, chilis, and very simple meals with grains, beans, tempeh, and lots of veggies.

That being said, I did check out brunch at Root this weekend, and it was fantastic!  They seat you for brunch, which is different than dinner, when you order at the counter (At least that's how dinner was when I went for the first time when it first opened this summer.  Maybe it's changed since then?).  My friend and I had a nice, relaxing meal, with ample time between coffee and our entrees, but not too much that we were wondering where our food was.  We decided to get a sweet and savory dish and share.  So we ordered the vanilla waffles, which came with a delicious pumpkin spread and whipped cream - they were amazing!  We also ordered the tofu scramble, which had a delicious, "creamy" sauce and came with potatoes served with their sweet, homemade ketchup.  We were highly satisfied with our choices, though I want to go back and try some of the other goodies on the brunch menu.  We ended our food event with some ice cream next door at FoMu - pumpkin spice for me, and banoffe pie for Faye.  The ice cream was excellent, as always.

And do not fear - I will be traveling next weekend!  I am heading up to Farm Sanctuary in New York to feed the turkeys and enjoy a delicious, vegan Thanksgiving meal.  I'm sure I will have lots to write about after that trip!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Wine Country

Deb and Scott got married this weekend!  Thanks to the four day weekend that Ashland always gives for Labor Day, I was able to make the trip out to California to celebrate.  Today's post will, of course, focus on food, but it will also comment upon the fantastic weekend that good friends were able to spend together.

We arrived in San Francisco late on Thursday night, and immediately went to bed in our hotel by the airport, as it was about 2 AM according to our internal clocks.  We enjoyed breakfast in the Hyatt restaurant, where they had three delicious oatmeal choices.  I went with the one that offered pineapple chutney, coconut milk, and macadamia nuts.  That would have been amazing on its own, but an entire spread of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit was also brought to the table - yum!

We picked up our rental car after breakfast and braved the San Francisco traffic so that we could drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.  Our goal was to get to the Meritage Hotel in Napa by noon to attend a tea ceremony given by Deb's family.  Had we realized that the hotel was in Napa and not Sonoma, we would have been on time.  Luckily we figured out our mistake quickly and were only about twenty minutes late.  There was still plenty of delicious food on the buffet table, and I enjoyed a variety of fruits and vegetables, including my new favorite food - fresh figs!  They had just been picked from the tree and were amazing!

After the tea ceremony we had some time to enjoy the pool at our hotel.  We left plenty of time to get ready so that we wouldn't miss the bus to the ceremony, which was in Sonoma (hence my earlier confusion).  The ceremony took place on the lawn of the vineyard just before sunset - it was beautiful!  Cocktail hour was on the terrace as the sun began to set, and we were able to enjoy the beautiful grounds as we sampled their wines.  Dinner was delicious - salad with more figs to start, and an eggplant dish with Israeli couscous for the main dish.  It provided the fuel I needed for a night of dancing, picture taking, and catching up with friends.

On Saturday, we boarded another bus for our winery tour.  We began at Domain Chandon, where we sampled three of their champagnes.  Most of us decided that the rose variety was by far the best.  Though there was enough champagne for each person to have half a bottle, we kept it to two small glasses each and strolled the scenic grounds as we sipped our wine.  Our next stop was V. Sattui, where we were given a tour before our tasting.  They had set up three tables in the shade and we sampled two whites, a rose, two reds, and a dessert wine.  We were then able to choose one to accompany our boxed lunch.  I chose the Riesling to go with my roasted veggie wrap (which turned into more of a salad since it was hard to pick up the Romaine leaves that wrapped the veggies), sauteed veggies, and fruit salad.  Our final stop was the Franciscan winery where we enjoyed a sampling of four wines in the shade.  We were exhausted by the time we returned to the hotel, but after a quick power nap, we headed downtown for dinner.  We chose a bistro that offered a delicious homemade black bean and barley burger along with cajun spiced fries.  We ended the evening by the fire pit at our hotel.

On Sunday we headed back to San Francisco after breakfast to drop Lori off for her flight.  Erin and I then headed downtown and walked the Embarcadero from the Bart station.  We decided we wanted Mexican food for lunch, so we stopped at Mangos on Pier 39.  Since it was busy and there was a bit of a wait, we sat at the bar and enjoyed complimentary chips and salsa (watery but good and spicy) and a delicious veggie burrito on a whole wheat wrap.  After lunch we boarded the ferry for Alcatraz.  What a great experience!  We did the audio tour of the cell block where we were able to view numerous cells,  "the hole", the dining hall, the recreation yard, the warden's office, the library, and the visitation area, all while learning about the history of the island and how the jail was run.  Afterward, we walked the property for a bit before catching the last ferry at 6:30.  We ended our evening at the Mission Rock Resort, where we met Amy, Colleen, and Justin for dinner.  Once again, I had a fig salad (I needed my last fix before heading home!) and summer veggie risotto that the chef kindly made vegan.

To round out the eating, I made a stop at The Plant in the airport this morning.  I stocked up on oatmeal, vegan banana bread, and a thai peanut wrap for lunch.  And now it's back to reality.  I think I'm staying put for awhile, but I'm sure I'll have more food adventures to post very soon!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Vegan Paradise

This weekend I went to Farm Sanctuary's annual hoedown in Watkins Glen, NY. My friend refers to Farm Sanctuary as vegan paradise. After spending the weekend there, I have to agree. It is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to.

Watkins Glen is not close to Massachusetts; it is about 45 minutes from Ithaca. We got on the road around 9:30. My friend wanted to push straight through to Ithaca, and we arrived there around 3:00. Our original plan was to get food to go from Green Star Co-Op and take it to a local state park. However, we got caught in a downpour as we drove into Ithaca, so we decided to eat at the grocery store instead. Green Star is a bit of a vegan paradise on its own!  We had a ton of options for lunch. We went with sandwiches - falafel, vegan Reuben, and vegan "chicken" salad. Everything was delicious!  We grabbed salads to go for dinner, along with Rice Dream mint ice cream sandwiches - how have I never eaten those delicious things before??

The rain had stopped when we left Green Star, so we headed to the state park.  Our original plan was to swim in the river under a waterfall. Unfortunately that part of the swimming area was closed because the lifeguards were off duty. It was also pretty cold after the rain, so we admired the waterfall from afar. Then we headed to paradise!

We arrived on the farm just before dark and were able to set up our tents with plenty of light. As dusk fell, we wandered over to the campfire and chatted with the group that had gathered there. We ended the night with a late, flashlight lit dinner.

Saturday's breakfast was simple, muffins and fruit. We spent the morning in the people barn, listening to various speakers, including an introduction by Gene Bauer. Lunch was outside in the sun, as it was a gorgeous summer day. The food was delicious - two different pita sandwiches and two salads on the side. After lunch we finally got to visit the animals!  We toured the farm with Susie (thanks for the invite to the private tour, Aimee!) and spent time with the cows (including baby Michael), pigs, sheep (who were all over me!), and met Turpentine the turkey. We did not have enough time to visit all of the animals before sanctuary time was over, but luckily more time was built into Sunday's schedule.

After another presentation, it was cocktail hour. Even more importantly, it was appetizer hour!!  My favorite was the vegan crab cake which had a delicious dipping sauce to go with it. We sampled some different nut cheeses, which I'm sure sounds gross to anyone who hasn't tried them, but they were delicious!  There was also guacamole, salsa, fruit, and spinach pie. Despite all of the appetizers I ate, I still ate a huge dinner - Mac and cheese, kale salad, broccoli, sweet potato fries, and cornbread. And of course, I had to try some dessert - an amazing peanut butter brownie. It's a good thing we danced for three and a half hours!  Yes, I danced non-stop, including country line dancing, for over three hours. That's a testament to how comfortable I felt among all of these people I didn't know. It was one of the most fun nights I've had in a long time.

Sunday morning we did yoga on the lawn with Derek, who is an excellent yoga teacher in addition to his hula hooping and ukelele skills. Breakfast was amazing - tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, potatoes, oatmeal, and fruit. We ate it during coffee talk, a Q&A with the speakers. We were not particularly hungry for lunch after that, but we made room for Thai peanut salad, veggies, and greens (and another peanut butter brownie). Our time in paradise ended with another trip to the barns and pastures, where I laid down next to pigs and chilled with the goats. Then, sadly, it was time to leave.

 I knew it would be a fun weekend, but I had no idea how much it would affect me. Everyone there was just inherently welcoming and friendly. It was so nice to not have to worry about food. And I loved hearing about the animals and meeting them, knowing they have been spared from an otherwise horrible life. I will be counting down the days to next year's event!!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Vegan Thursday

Colleen is upset that I haven't been blogging since I returned from my trip, so here is a short post from last week.  I intended to spend most of last Thursday afternoon in Boston before meeting Faye for the Guster concert in Providence.  However, my plans were thwarted when I got a rather large splinter embedded in my heel.  So after visits to both the Minute Clinic and Urgent Care to remove it, I was finally on my way.  Unfortunately, it was after 1:30 by the time I got on the T at Riverside, so I had to make a change to my original Davis Square falafel plan.  That would just have been too much food too late in the afternoon - I wanted to save my appetite for Providence.  So instead I got off the T in Central and walked to VO2, the cafe in the O2 yoga studio on Mass Ave.  What a great place!  The staff was super friendly.  I ordered a chuna sandwich, which was made from chick peas and tasted uncannily like tuna.  I also got a spicy monkey smoothie, whose main ingredients were bananas, coconut milk, peanut butter, cocoa, and cayenne pepper - it was delicious!  I chatted a bit with the owner, who is still in the process of tweaking the menu.  She worked on it at the counter with another staff member while I ate.  She brought me a sample of her nacho "cheese" - it was awesome!  It was the most real fake cheese I've ever eaten.  It was a perfect stop for a late lunch, filling but not overly so and delicious.

My goal for dinner was to eat at Veggie Fun in Providence.  Rush hour traffic almost thwarted that plan.  However, we made it to Providence at 6:50.  The concert started at 7, but neither of us had much desire to see the opener.  Since the restaurant is around the corner from Lupo's, and since it wasn't very busy, we decided to go for it.  A good decision, as far as I am concerned!  We each had a summer roll to start - thin rice paper around firm tofu and veggies with a delicious dipping sauce.  I went the unhealthy route and ordered General Tsao's seitan - so good!  The sauce was fantastic.  Faye ordered eggplant in black bean sauce, which was also delicious.  I enjoy the fact that this is a vegan Chinese restaurant that is not focusing on fake meat - I will definitely go back!

We made it to Lupo's with time to spare, and I caught my first headlining Guster show in quite some time.  It was a good day.  :)

Tomorrow I'll write a longer post about vegan paradise weekend!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Le Fin

Today we head back to Boston. It has been an amazing trip, but I'm ready to go home (especially since I get to see Guster, Ben Folds Five, and BNL at Tanglewood tomorrow!).  Yesterday we visited the botanical garden in Golden Gate Park. It was quite large, and featured plants from all over the world.  They are able to mimic a cloud forest because of all of the fog, which is pretty cool. They had s tree that is only able to thrive in a few places in the world, and foggy San Francisco is one of them.

We headed to the Mission district for lunch because we had been craving mission style burritos since we arrived in the city. After some careful Yelp research, we settled on Pancho Villa Taqueria for its excellent reviews and extensive vegetarian burrito menu. Even at 2:15, there was a decent  line. Apparently it is sometimes out the door. Luckily we did not have to wait too long. I ordered a veggie burrito that beats Anna's in Boston, hands down. The flavoring was delicious and it was tightly rolled - no abrasions in this burrito!  They have a salsa bar that also included grilled jalapenos.  The food was delicious, quick, and inexpensive, with plenty of seating for their many customers. A great find!

Last night was the culmination of my vegan eating - dinner at Millennium. On Sunday nights, you can do a three course tasting menu for $42, so we all decided to do that and order different things. For starters, we tried the crusted king trumpet mushrooms, the raw Pad Thai salad, and the grilled flatbread. The mushrooms were my favorite by far - lightly breaded and fried, served with a delicious soy sauce based sauce. The Pad Thai was good, made from carrots and zucchini and dressed lightly in a peanut sauce.  The flatbread was served with delicious, garlicky butter beans. For my entree, I chose the Vietnamese style crepe with lemongrass and marinated tofu - amazing!  Kristin chose the eggplant dish, which was served with a delicious tomato sauce and a cashew ricotta. Amy ordered the nettle tamale, which came with an excellent Mole sauce. All of the entrees were fantastic!

Surprisingly, we were not as impressed with dessert. We ordered the chocolate almond midnight which had come highly recommended and was my favorite. The cheesecake was very grainy and too sweet for my taste. We also ordered a three layer ice cream dessert which included lavender ice cream. The best part of that dish was the amazing caramel corn it was  served with. All in all, it was an excellent way to end the trip.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

San Francisco

We've seen quite a bit and eaten quite a lot in the past two days!  On Friday, we checked out Streatfair, the San Francisco food truck area. We got there fairly early, around noon, and the place was already hopping. After a stroll around  the perimeter to see what they had to offer, we settled on falafel. And what a falafel it was!  They crammed lettuce, tomato, cucumber, hummus, and French Fries (yup, you heard it right) in there. Then there were a bunch of other toppings to add on yourself, so I loaded m  pita up with pickles, cabbage, and jalapenos, along with hot sauce. It was not easy to eat with all of that crammed in, but I managed somehow.

After  lunch we explored the Mission district and then Haight and Ashbury. We had tickets to the 7:15 Giants game, so we walked to the stadium after eating our leftovers from Thursday night. We made sure to leave room for garlic fries though!  The game was fun an  the stadium is gorgeous, right on the water, but it was cold!!!

Today we checked out the farmer's market at the ferry building - it was massive!  We started with the shops in the building, where I found vegan donuts!  I tried a Mexican hot chocolate one, and it was chocolatey, cinnamon goodness. We then ate our way through the market, trying a variety of samples. There is also a craft portion of the market, so we spent some time browsing there too. We then walked along the water through the tourist areas on our way to Fort Mason to try Greens. Unfortunately, when we arrived we realized that the restaurant was  closed for a private party. Luckily, they have a to go counter, so w  picked up sandwiches and ate them in the park where we chatted with a dad and his 21 year old son. My grilled tofu sandwich with avocado was delicious, as was the oatmeal granola cookie I had for dessert.

We made a quick stop at Ghiradhelli Square before waiting in a very long line to get on a  cable car. It was worth the wait, though, as we climbed  up and down the hills. I kept having  Full House flashbacks  as w  drove along...

Kristin picked our dinner restaurant - Baonecci in North Beach. They are  known for their thin crust pizza, and they did not disappoint. We started with their house  salad, which was simple and delicious. I had a spicy pizza with lots of garlic and parsley. I had read that this pizza was very spicy, but I didn't get that at first. However, there were a few bites that set my mouth on fire!  It was good, though - I like to keep it spicy.

Tomorrow night we go to Millennium - I'll have lots to write about that one!

Thursday, July 18, 2013


In the past two days, we did a ton of driving. We pretty much spent all of today in the car.  It sucked, except for the fact that we drove the Pacific Coast Highway, which was beautiful and extremely fun - I loved the windy mountain roads. What did not suck about the last two days was the food. Let's begin with lunch on Wednesday. We were on the 101 in Redwood National Park. There's not too much going on there in terms of civilization. However, a very nice park ranger recommended the Beachcomber Cafe in a little seaside town called Trinidad. This place was delicious!  It's very small and quaint inside, and the staff was super friendly. I had a cup of coconut curry zucchini soup that was amazing with a salad topped with avocado and hummus with a garlic walnut dressing - yum!!

Last night we stayed at the Requa Inn in Klamath, CA. What a cute place!  It's an old inn from the 1800s run by a family. Each room is different and charming. I spent a relaxing hour reading outside in a rocking chair before dinner. Speaking of dinner - it was amazing!  They serve a four course meal every night and will accommodate any diet. We sat with a couple from Columbus, Ohio and a woman a little younger than us from Asheville. The company and food were both excellent!  The vegan menu consisted of broccoli, radishes, and onion; beets in a delicious breading with potatoes; fry bread; hazelnut fritters with cashew cheese, snow peas, and other veggies; and almond cake in a berry sauce. I am so glad we decided to do dinner at the inn. My only regret is that we had to leave before breakfast was served this morning.

Today we drove from Klamath to San Francisco. That is one long drive. We made it longer by taking route one, but it was totally worth it. We stopped in Mendocino for lunch. I wanted to try the vegan restaurant Raven, but unfortunately they do not serve lunch. So we tried the Mendocino Cafe instead, which proved to be an excellent choice. We ate on the deck with a slight view of the ocean. We shared some delicious guacamole and I had a Thai burrito with  a yummy chili sauce. When we finally made it to San Francisco and dropped off the rental car, we ended the evening with a quick Vietnamese dinner  at Sunflower. The Imperial Rolls were excellent and I got a huge portion of vermicelli noodles. Now I'll be able to have dinner before the Giants game tomorrow night!

Looking forward to more good eating in San Francisco...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Crater Lake

Today's post is not about food. Though I ate plenty of it, none of it is blog worthy. However, the awesomeness that is Crater Lake is blog worthy, though I'll keep it short because I am tired. Crater Lake is the bluest, clearest lake I have ever seen. Most people view if from the top of the crater, and it is breathtaking. But I am not most people. So instead, we hiked into the crater to the shore of the lake. And then I went into this crystal clear, very cold lake that is 700 feet deep.  Had I known you could go in the lake, I would have put my bathing suit on and actually swam. But since I did not know that, I had to settle for wading. Regardless, it was awesome, and I got to chat with some really nice people in the lake. Totally worth the strenuous hike back up to the rim!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Portland West

Today's post is going to be about food. There is so much vegan food in Portland. I want to live  here.

Lunch was at the food trucks, of course. Kristin had not yet had the Portland food truck experience, and she needed an introduction. I tried street food from Georgia (the country, not the state) at Kargi Gogo. It was so good!  I couldn't decide what to get, so the vendor suggested a vegan sampler plate. It contained grilled eggplant filled with a delicious walnut spread, pastry filled with a black bean spread, and a tomato cucumber salad with walnut dressing. Everything was amazing!!!

After some browsing at Powell's, we got in line for Voodoo Doughnuts. I tried the vegan chocolate coconut - yum!  Kristin tried the maple bacon, which she loved, and the Mexican hot chocolate, which she did not love as much. Our next stop was the vegan "mall".  Okay, it wasn't so much a mall as a block of vegan stores, but I'll take it!  I picked up an apricot strudel to go from Sweet Pea Bakery before wandering around Food Fight, the all vegan grocery store. I would move here for this block of vegan goodness alone!

Our last stop of the day was Vita Cafe for dinner. Kristin found this one on Yelp when we discovered that my favorite Thai restaurant is closed on Mondays. Cafe Vita was a great second choice!  I had tempeh and broccoli in a delicious, spicy ginger sauce. Kristin had lasagna with both marinara and vegan pesto. For dessert, we tried the raw peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake - amazing!  Needless to say, we are both very full. Good thing we are headed to Crater Lake tomorrow to hike off some calories!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Olympic National Park

What an amazing weekend!  Olympic National Park is gorgeous!  We arrived in the late afternoon and checked into our cabin, which was right on Lake Crescent.  The lake is crystal clear and a beautiful turquoise color. We didn't swim in it, as it wasn't really warm enough, but I certainly admired it from our back patio.  Once we had settled into our cabin, we drove to the hot springs, which we discovered were actually chlorinated pools fed by the springs - not nearly as exciting as natural ones.  So we hiked to a waterfall instead before heading back to our resort for dinner.

Saturday began with coffee and breakfast by the lake. I honestly could have sat there all day, but we had more to see.  So we made the two hour drive to the rainforest. Temperate rain forests at  quite different from topical ones, but no less beautiful. Evergreen trees tower overhead and mosses hang from the branches. We hiked four miles into the forest, along the Hoh River. Afterward, we drove a bit more to the coast and enjoyed the rocky beach as the tide rolled in before making the long drive back to the cabin.

Today we tried two trails. The first was short, but led to a 90 foot waterfall.  We then drove up to Hurricane Ridge, at an elevation of about 5,200 feet.  The views were spectacular, but we wanted more, so we hiked along the ridge to the summit. Words can't even describe the hike; it's as if we were in a painting. Wildflowers lined the trail and green mountains surrounded us. The sky was deep blue and cloudless. At the top, we could see Port Angeles and Victoria, BC. It was definitely one of the most scenic hikes I've ever done.

This post is definitely not food centered. While I ate plenty, the food in th  park is nothing to write home about. However, we ate at two really good restaurants in Port Angeles. On Friday, we had lunch at the Next Door Gastropub, where I had a delicious handmade black bean burger. For lunch today, we tried Cafe New Day in Port Angeles, where I had a barley and mushroom burger with caramelized onions and spicy mustard. It came with homemade  sweet potato chips - yum!  For dinner tonight, we went to Revel by my request so that I could sample whatever vegan goodness was on the menu for the evening. We ended  the night at Molly Moon's Ice Cream, where I was happy to find coconut milk ice cream on the menu.

Off to bed so I can get up early to run by the sound one last time before another day of eating in Portland!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Final Seattle Day

For our last full day in Seattle, we bought a trolley ticket so that we could hop on and off while learning a little more about the city. We took the trolley to Pioneer Square for the underground tour, where Ben Folds played in my head for the entire hour and a half (we can be happy underground...) Our tour guide was quite entertaining and even though I've taken the tour before, I was very engaged. Kristen wanted to check out Salumi for lunch, and since I've  dragged her to every veg restaurant in Seattle, I figured it was th  least I could do. I was  pleasantly surprised to find a grilled eggplant sandwich on the menu - it was delicious!

After lunch we hopped back on to the trolley and rode up to the Pike brewery where we had a very informative tour. Samples were not included in the tour, so we bought bought a six taste sampler at the bar afterward. We caught the trolley back to Seattle Center where we switched lines and headed up into Queen Anne. We stopped at Karey Park for a spectacular view of the city. 

For dinner, we met up with friends who chose Marjorie. The staff there was  excellent!  Our waitress patiently outlined everything that was vegan or could be made vegan - there were a lot of options!  We had fried plantain chips and guacamole, risotto, and mushroom Brusschetta to share, all of which were made so that I could eat them. I decided on the pizza for my meal, which was made without cheese. It had very thin slices of lemon, which made for an interesting taste. Our waitress was very apologetic when she came to tell us about dessert because  I couldn't eat most of it. However, I was so full, I wouldn't  have been able to eat it anyway. 

Tomorrow we head to the Olympic National Park!  There is no Internet service there, so it will be a few days before my next post. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day Two - Seattle Eating

Today was all about food!  Yes, we did some touristy things, like the Space Needle, but mostly we explored neighborhoods and ate. We started in the University district. I was hoping to try Pizza Pi for some vegan pizza, but unfortunately they are not open for lunch. Luckily there were four other vegan restaurants to choose from in a three block radius, so we tried the Wayward Vegan Cafe instead. We ordered a lot of fried food - artichokes, sweet potato fries, and buffalo "chicken".  I also ordered a salad to add some healthiness to the meal. Though delicious, my stomach was not too happy afterward - I rarely eat fried food. We walked it off in the nearby Ravenna Park, a city oasis with woodsy trails. 

After a late afternoon break, we met a friend for drink at Rob Roy where I had a three dollar beer. We didn't order food, but I can comment on their excellent music selection. Kristin and I parted ways with Amy and headed up to Capitol Hill, where we tried Highline. It was not what we expected!  I was expecting a pub, which is how it is advertised. In reality, it was a bit of a dive. However, we got to sit outside, and the sandwiches were delicious. On our way home, we stopped at the Black Coffee Co-Op for a vegan sweet potato cinnamon roll - delicious!  It's a good thing I ran four miles this morning and walked an additional six or so during the day, given the number of calories I consumed today!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day One - Seattle

The weather is gorgeous here!  It's so nice to escape the heat and humidity of the northeast.  Kristin and I made our way to Pike's Place Market and started the morning at the original Staarbucks. We then wandered the marketplace visiting numerous shops.  We bought lunch in the market (Indian takeout for me) and ate in the park. It was nice to sit in the summer sun without sweltering. After lunch we rode the new (to me) Ferris wheel and admired the city from above.

And now on to the food!  We tried Cafe Flora for dinner, a vegetarian restaurant in Capitol Hill. To start, we split the bucket of sweet potato fries with a delicious aioli dipping sauce, which they made vegan upon request. For dinner, Deb and I both tried the potato and arugula cakes, which were served with vegan pesto and a cherry sauce - yum!  Scott and Kristin both had an Israeli couscous salad with grilled eggplant and morel mushrooms that looked delicious and they both enjoyed (though it was salty and contained a lot of cilantro).  I didn't try it because it had a yogurt sauce and feta. I was tempted to get dessert, because I could, but was too full. However, now that I've digested a bit, I may have to finish off my vegan oatmeal cookie from the market this afternoon...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Portland East

I know I said that I would begin my blog on my west coast trip, but this weekend I was in Portland, Maine, or "Portland East" as my sister likes to call it.  Like its western counterpart, Portland, Maine is a pretty veg-friendly city.  On Thursday, my family and I went to Pepperclub, which caters to all with its varied menu.  The waitress was very helpful, indicating which breads in the basket were vegan and which were not.  I ordered a tempeh spring roll to start, which was delicious!  The sauce it came with was great, and my sister used it as a dipping sauce for her bread when I was done with my spring roll.  For my entree, I ordered tofu cakes (similar to crab cakes, which my mom and stepdad ordered) over a huge bowl of veggies in a spicy sauce.  The dish was excellent, but too large to finish.  Unfortunately, I didn't leave room for one of their vegan desserts.

On Saturday, my sister, brother, and brother-in-law indulged me with a trip to Silly's for lunch.  Like Pepperclub, there is a lot on the menu that it non-veg, but they are great for vegans and vegetarians.  They have a separate fryer for vegan entrees.  The waitress was very helpful and clear about which options were vegan and which could be made vegan.  Their menu is also very clear in terms of which dishes are vegan or can be made so.  We started off with an order of the fried pickles, which were amazing and gobbled up in minutes.  I ordered the vegan version of WeeBee Jammin' - jerk seasoned tofu, red beans and rice, vegan coleslaw, and fried plantains - yum!  My meat eating dining partners all enjoyed their entrees as well.  I snagged a buffalo fry or two from my sister (the waitress made sure they were cooked in the vegan fryer so I could sample!) - spicy and delicious!  I really wanted to try a soy shake, but I was way too full.  I'm glad my siblings were willing to make the trip.

Onward to the west!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Getting ready for the Pacific Northwest!

On Monday, I leave for a two week trip to the Pacific Northwest.  My travels begin in Seattle, and will take me to the Olympic National Park, Portland, Crater Lake, the Redwood Forest, and San Francisco.  There's a lot of good vegan eating on those stops, so at the advice of a friend, I decided to start this blog.  It combines two of my favorite things - traveling and finding delicious vegan food.  The cities I am visiting (especially Portland) have some great options, and I will be sure to share about them here!