“For vegans, there is the traditional Tofurky roast that you must serve so your family can make fun of what a fucking weirdo you are. But they are the fucking weirdos who are eating dead pigs roasted in dead cow gravy. Fucking weirdos!”—
“The holiday potluck may seem like an innocent, inexpensive way to throw a party, where friends and colleagues can share favorite recipes, savor an unusual dish or indulge a sweet tooth. But for some people, it’s a minefield of food-poisoning bacteria waiting to wreak havoc.”—
The LA TImes is ‘Grossed out by Holiday Potlucks’. We at Vegansaurus would like to point out that at vegan potlucks—the best potlucks of all!—there is little to no risk of contracting food poisoning, as neither the dishes nor the kitchens they were prepared in are carriers of bacteria from dead animals.
(When we are feeling particularly vicious and sad, we like to think of food poisoning as punishment for eating animal bodies, such that meat = suffering for them and you. But that’s just between you and us and the wall.)
Host a vegan potluck! You will eat all sorts of delicious food, and your fears of dying of Salmonella poisoning will be (nearly) unfounded. Vegansaurus is proud to be the online home of San Francisco’s own Vegan Brunch Cartel.
Product review: Pumpkin seed bread from Artisan Bakers!
Alternately, I KNOW IT’S MID-DECEMBER BUT I AIN’T DONE WITH YOU YET, PUMPKIN!!!
Every once in awhile, a food products sings to your heart and takes your love by storm. For me, this happens daily. Yesterday, this storm turned into a level-5 hurricane in the form of this amazing pumpkin bread from Artisan Bakers that we got at Rainbow Grocery. It is usually sold out but we were lucky enough to grab the last loaf. Suckers. As an aside, there is huge satisfaction in getting the last of something that other people want. It’s like when I went to H&M for the Stella McCartney line and waited in the freezing cold for like four hours until they finally opened only to make a mad dash to buy anything, everything Stella and ended up with a SATIN HAMMER PANTS four sizes too small that cost me $150 and I’m still so stupid that I was pleased about this purchase for a FULL TWO DAYS until I realized what god hath wrought and came down with a deep depression for a week. This bread is like that. Except that you will feel no remorse because it’s CHEAP! and DELICIOUS! and if it has anything to do with the blues, it’s in the curing of them.
This isn’t a typical pumpkin bread in that it’s not a sweet loaf. It’s more like a traditional seed loaf but made round and with pumpkin. It’s rich and textured and covered in pumpkin seeds and is perfect toasted in the broiler and then slathered in Earth Balance. I’m guessing it would make a damn fine PB&J too. That’s PUMPKIN BUTTER and jam to you! Actually, it’s not, but I bet that would be good too. If a little sweet. Maybe pumpkin butter and peanut butter?? Who knows, go crazy, this bread can handle it.
Artisan Breads are sold all over the Bay Area. I would call the store closest to you to make sure they carry the pumpkin bread. It’s seasonal too so don’t be looking for this shit in May. Unless you’re in Australia. Wait, does that work? Anyway. Their site is fresh, and includes a pretty detailed description of their bread-making process and some recipes! They are obviously super-passionate about making tasty bread and have won all sorts of awards and shit.
An aside: I was looking for a cute pumpkin photo to put up on the blog and I came across this. This seems like it should be a punishable offense. I mean, you can’t urinate in public but you can do that? I don’t get it.
Lanesplitter is a local pizza-and-beer chain in the East Bay that serves up some fantastic thin-crust vegan pizza. It’s not made with a traditional fake cheese, instead it’s like a ricotta style tofu mixture…sounds fucked but is actually pretty damn good. They have lots of veggies to choose from and everything mixed up tastes amazing. They also have vegan calzones which make a good grab-and-go item if you call ahead. The vegan eggplant bake is heaven for everyone.
I rarely eat in because the staff consists of incompetents, assholes, and incompetent assholes. I am told that their house-made micro-brews are pretty good but they just taste like beer to me. I dunno. Are you so fancy that you can tell? I can’t. If you put me in a blind beer taste test, I’d be able to recognize two beers: Bud Light, and everything else. I’d be taking shot after shot of beer, yelling out, “nope!”, “nope!”, “Bud Light!”, “nope!” Actually, that sounds like a lot of fun. Is anyone in? You buy the beer! Email me! So anyway, all their microbrews are on tap but if you want to enjoy them, you have to drink there. Apparently Lanesplitter (and Johnny Law) don’t trust me to leave my pint of fancy brew untouched on the ride home. They are smart.
Ritual makes all right coffee. They charge 50 cents extra for soy milk, and I’ve never seen soy milk on the bar for drip coffee, though I imagine they’d give you some out of an open Tetra Pak (TM).
They are really, really proud of their coffee, the espresso especially, but the reason I go there is because they sell People’s Donuts, which have become more and more delicious the longer they’ve been in business, and this vegan sherry cake that no one seems to know the provenance of but most everyone agrees is excellent. It comes in standard (yellow) and chocolate flavors, and you can’t go wrong either way. With People’s Donuts it is always a fun surprise to see what flavors are available, and which of those flavors looks the best, and a lot of the time the Ritual employee will have as much knowledge as you on the donuts—i.e., you’re both eyeballing them—so don’t be afraid to say that you want the on the left in the back, or wherever, because they stack them on a plate all willy-nilly and if you want the only chocolate one, that helpful employee might have to move some other donuts around for you.
We will give People’s Donuts its own review later on; they definitely deserve one! For now, know that they are good and tasty and available at Ritual for $2.50 a donut, the average price citywide.
As for the coffee, OK, I don’t know. The drip coffee is fine; better to take it to go and use your soy creamer at home, I think, if you are partial to cream in your coffee; I am, particularly with Ritual’s, which gives my delicate tum a terrible ache when I drink it without whitening it down. If you take it black, then why not stay? Here’s why not: no atmosphere. It’s often very hot, and loud, not just because of the machines but the music (80 percent of the time good!) and the yap yap yap of the patrons, some of those jerks will NOT shut up. Granted, it is not a library, but when everyone around you is silent, maybe you don’t have to talk at volume level 25, you know? Ugh, loud people, it is so hard for them to realize the difference between THE LEVEL OF THEIR VOICES and the level of a normal person’s voice. It is all right when you want to talk at loud bars/shows/&c. but Ritual is none of those places. Shut it, jerks.
Ritual espresso is very bitter, and quite often tastes burnt. Why is this? They go on and on about how they were a runaway success, roasting their own coffee and training their baristas to be AWESOME and ORIGINAL and MAKE FANCY DESIGNS IN THE FOAM, but I swear every single flat white I had in New Zealand—essentially a latte—was tastier and creamier and better foamed than anything I’ve had at Ritual, and there were no delightful seitan cheesesteak sandwich shops or fancy gourmet non-dairy-ice-cream-selling groceries across the street from the place where this work of art came from. Just a big glacier. Yet, everywhere, even at highway rest stop cafes where there was not one vegan food item, there was vegan soy milk and someone with the skills to really foam it. Having never had a espresso drink made with dairy milk at Ritual, I cannot speak to the baristas’ ability to foam cow’s milk, but if they are good at that and just aren’t trying with the soy…? I don’t know what the damn hell ass problem is, but I’m tired of paying extra for soy milk and getting inferior foaming. Either bring your A-game, or stop charging the extra money, or WHY NOT BOTH, because COME ON, JERKS, how much money are you losing on those Tetra Paks that unopened stay good FOREVER that you have to gouge the vegans and the lactose intolerant for our conscientiousness and/or dietary needs.
The sherry cake is really good though! Ideally, get sherry cake at Ritual to go and make coffee at home, allowing you to have delicious coffee exactly the way you want it AND sherry cake at the same time in quiet and comfort. Besides, Ritual has free wifi, but no outlets, so it’s not like you’re encouraged to stay there to work unless you’re talking over everyone and everything else anyway, and we already established how obnoxious that is. Hide yourself away, watch television shows on the computer in your pajamas, dip sherry cake in your coffee, maybe gluttonously eat two pieces and feel all warm and good and full. There’s no place like home when you’ve got quality baked goods. And are an agorphobe, but focus on the sherry cake, Ritual’s the only place in the city that sells it.
The Front Porch has got to be the cutest restaurant I’ve ever been in. It’s like a puppy wrapped in a kitten and then sauteed in baby koala oil and served on a blanket of rainbows to a family of Care Bears. In addition to being the cutest, It has a down-home sorta sexy feel to it and you always leave kinda wanting to do it with whoever you came with. So don’t bring an ex-boyfriend you really want to have sex with again to this place because you will end up making a huge mistake. Or having a lot of fun. I guess that depends on your personal code of ethics and how much you hate yourself. Either way, mazel tov! What!
This place is always packed so be prepared to wait on their delightful front porch with one of their amazing, inventive cocktails or some delicious wine in a box (!!!). However, if you get there before 7 p.m., you might not have to wait. I’d say 6:45 is the perfect time to arrive because everyone else is coming at 7. If you do that, you won’t have to wait for a primo booth right in the front room. Sweet!
There are lots of vegetarian and vegan items on the menu and the wait staff is knowledgeable about what things are made with what. They always have a vegan special of the day, which might be a coconut okra stew or a sweet potato medley. Most of the time it is very delicious, except this one time when it was THE FUNK and we sent it back and the waitress took it off the bill and brought us about nine orders of their amazing thick-cut French fries with homemade ketchup as a replacement. Man, their fries are RIDICULOUS. A must-try. Must try nine orders. You also must get a side of the plantain fries if they’re on the menu along with the black bean soup with avocado. The sides are always changing but they make sure to have plenty of vegan-friendly options.
If the coconut rice and beans are available, try them. If you’re not into the vegan special, you can easily make a dinner of the sides. A delicious dinner. That and their awesome cocktails and wine-in-a-box selection; this place is the shit.
One complaint: no vegan desserts. This has been known to SEND ME OVER THE EDGE in the past but this last time, the waitress did offer to bring me out the pickled pears sans ice cream. I was a little enticed but decided to head up the hill to Maggie Mudd instead. Hey! Million-dollar Idea: OFFER DELICIOUS MAGGIE MUDD VEGAN ICE CREAM AS AN OPTION! Because it’s not like they are making their own ice cream (it’s Mitchell’s!) and they are already serving lots of vegan options, so it would totally help draw in a larger vegan crowd. I mean, if they want our hot (read: fat) asses in there then they are going to have to put out (read: give me my soy cream, assholes!!!)
So, in conclusion, eat here on a date with someone you want to have sex with. Or just with a friend. Who you want to have sex with. Maybe not your brother or sister. Unless you are from Kentucky. Then whatever, that’s God’s Country, who am I to judge??
Because it’s National Cupcake Day (and Thursday is National Roast Suckling Pig Day, ugh, let us not take this ridiculousness too seriously), here is a second cupcake review. CoCo’s Cupcakes Cafe is Pittsburgh’s “first cupcake bakery,” having opened one week earlier than Dozen Cupcakes in December of 2006.
Like Dozen, CoCo’s uses local sources for things like coffee and chocolate, and is located in one of the schmancier of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods: CoCo’s is in Shadyside, near a yoga studio and a Whole Foods. Adorably, CoCo’s makes neighborhood-themed cupcakes, such as this vegan margarita South Side cupcake: It certainly is pretty, isn’t it?
CoCo’s offers at least one vegan cupcake every day; when we went, they had gingerbread and red velvet. The red velvet is their daily vegan cupcake, and has what is described as vanilla frosting and a few delicate red sugar sprinkles. It was very good-looking as well, and the frosting was piled incredibly high. Although I am not the sort to just bite into a cupcake like it’s a piece of sushi (I prefer cupcake deconstruction), I had to see if I could fit the whole thing in my mouth (THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID); it worked, but I ended up with frosting in my nose, and it lacked the feeling of supreme accomplishment I had expected to feel.
Right, fine, but what about the cupcake? Well, the cake was pretty good; too dense, but definitely worth finishing, and the flavor was nice. The frosting was texturally pleasing, and there certainly was enough of it to make me, a preferrer of frosting, satisfied with the ratio of it to cake; however, the taste wasn’t there.
It was as if the person making it had forgotten to include the vanilla, because it just didn’t taste like anything. It was not a buttercream, that’s for sure.
Don’t get me wrong, I ate the whole thing! I kept waiting for it to taste better, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Luckily, we still had the special gingerbread cupcakes for dessert, so CoCo’s still had time to redeem its vegan baking skills. There’s always hope.
The gingerbread cake was equally dense, though with a more complex flavor, and really resembled actual gingerbread more than any delicate cupcake. The frosting, again, was disappointing flavorless, and again they don’t advertise it as a buttercream, so I’m still confused — what is it supposed to taste like? What is a thick vanilla frosting that is not a buttercream? Is it a shortening-only frosting? A shortening-only frosting would give great hold and allow for amazing staying power when a frosting has to battle both cold and heat, but it would also have to derive its taste from its other ingredients, as shortening has no flavor.
If this is the case—and of course this is conjecture based on my own baking knowledge—then CoCo’s should really look into adding a lot more vanilla extract, because frosting that tastes like “sweet” is kind of a waste of space.
If I were in need of a cupcake in Pittsburgh again and unable or unwilling to make them myself (pardon the egoism, but I can bake better vegan cupcakes than these places), I would go to CoCo’s again, if only for the variety. Maybe their other vegan cupcakes have more flavorful frostings — we did get two cupcakes with the same disappointing flavor — and maybe next time they’ll have improved their technique. You never know! Besides, CoCo’s doesn’t have too many improvements to make to achieving a vegan cupcake worth our accolades. Furthermore the pickings are a bit slim in Pittsburgh (you can always complain about your surroundings! Once I went to a restaurant in Southeast Texas where the only vegan item on the menu was “two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for $1.50,” and I complained because the peanut butter was creamy and the wheat bread had whey so I had to get white. Always! Complain!), so as usual, vegans will have to learn to do it at home, or take what’s available on the outside. At CoCo’s, happily, what’s available is pretty all right. Not the best, but I bet with some helpful community feedback, they’ll get there.
This Vegansaur visited a new city recently: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ancestral home of accredited Vegansaurus photographer Joel. While we were there, it snowed several times, and we saw a few enormously fat squirrels scale crabapple trees so spindly they should’ve fallen over with the winter bulk of its furry assailants, and yet it stood strong. We also spent time with a small and talkative (babble-ative?) baby, were fed many wonderful multicourse vegan suppers cooked by Joel’s mother, including the best pie crust I have ever eaten (seriously! And it is work, too, to get it so delicate)—but my primary goal was, obviously, to take an eating tour of vegan Pittsburgh. Who doesn’t love an eating tour?
We stumbled on Dozen Bakeshop because one of its two locations happened to be along our Thanksgiving walk route. It was closed at the time—for the best!—but promised to be open the next day, so cupcakes for breakfast it would be.
Dozen currently features three cruelty-free cupcakes: vanilla on Tuesdays, peppermint on Fridays, and “Mostess” on Saturdays. Mondays are “mystery” days, so they might offer a vegan cupcake then too, I can’t say. We went on a Friday, so we got peppermint cupcakes. They also had a ginger molasses cookie, and that was the extent of their vegan goods that morning. If we’d gone on a weekend morning we might’ve tried their vegan cinnamon roll, but our weekend mornings were already spoken for, so it wasn’t to be.
The cookie was fine, if a little too sweet; the ginger pieces were good, the molasses flavor was present without being too strong. The cupcake on the other hand was tragic. The cake was a rock; not a flavorless rock, but chewy and hard and totally unfortunate. The frosting divided us. Joel thought it was too sweet, while I thought it was one of the best frostings I’d ever eaten. It was incredibly thick and rich, buttery underneath the peppermint, and because the cake was so bad I wound up eating it bite by tiny bite with a spoon. Delicious. Still, not a reason to buy an entire cupcake, seeing as how the cake part went wasted.
The bakery is very nice inside—we went to the Lawrenceville location—and the staff were friendly and helpful, and they have free refills on house coffee, which is a huge step ahead in customer appreciation in comparison to every bakery/coffee house/cafe I have ever patronized EVER at home here in San Francisco, where you have to pay over 50 percent of the price of your first cup of coffee for every refill, despite most coming from the same push-lid carafe that keeps the stupid coffee hot-to-room-temperature for four-to-five hours before staff refreshes it. Point to Dozen Bakeshop for recognizing that despite serving savory baked goods and having free wifi, no one is going to hang around a bakery all day, so there’s very little risk of losing money on moochers staying for the coffee refills. Not that, you know, a business is in dire risk of losing hundreds of dollars a day in revenue giving out under a dollar in filtered hot water.
OK, the summary: For a vegan cookie and coffee (note: ask for milk substitute, they don’t put anything out there for you), Dozen is a nice place to go. For vegan cupcakes, it is a waste of time; I can make better cupcakes at home and if you can’t, come to me. The end.
Walzwerk is kinda the cutest, kitschiest, most adorable restaurant this side of the wall. It’s tiny and perfectly decorated and if this is what it means to be a pinko bastard then sign me up!
First and foremost: the potato pancakes are vegan and they are GOOD. It’s hard to find a potato pancake that isn’t also filled with egg grossness so this is an exciting find. Tell them that you’re vegan and they’ll grimace and tell you to eat meat and then give you extra applesauce instead of sour cream. The fact that these are vegan makes coming to this restaurant worth it. Just come and get three orders and an Alsterwasser (that’s half-beer, half 7-Up, 100 percent CRAZY GERMAN) and you’re set. I’ve often said, if the potato were an animal, I don’t know if I could be vegan, I just love to eat them so g-d much! But I bet a potato would be a creepy little animal anyway, running around and biting ankles and shit, living underground, being evil. It would have to be eradicated and I would be just the woman for a job. There’s a comic in there.
Other vegan food stuff they offer include veggie stuffed cabbage roulade, veggie beet soup (VERY GOOD), and cucumber and dill salad (VERY GOOD). There is also an awesome selection of German beers that go perfectly with this hearty food, especially the crazy beer/7-Up/coke-and-beer combos! Those crazy-ass Germans! They are SO WEIRD!
All this and at the end of the night, you don’t exit into terrifying 1985 East Germany but instead into exciting 21st century San Francisco, where you are free to do lines of cocaine off of a hooker’s tits until you pass out in a pile of your own vomit. What can I say? We gots it good!
Valencia Farmers Market is located on the corner of Valencia and 24th Streets, under the green awning. It’s teeny inside, but every inch is stocked with things someone will probably want and/or need at some point, and not have time to schlep all the way to a big grocery store for. Seriously, every inch, so walk carefully around your fellow shoppers and poke inside those little nooks. They’ve got bulk foods hiding back there, and I’ve heard tell of on-site orange-juicing, and I don’t know what else because I never have enough time to fully look.
They’re open early Monday through Friday, so you can drop in on your way to work for Tofutti cream cheese (!!!) for office bagels. On your way home, stop by for five-for-$1 limes and whatever other seasonal produce you need for supper. This is assuming you have a job, of course, and I would never assume that. It is nice that VFM is open on weekends, too, because you never know when you’re going to run out of Earth Balance (the Miracle Product!) or whatever else, and not want to go any farther to get it than a few blocks. The people I presume to be the owners—the two always working the registers—are unfailingly polite. If you’re out in the Mission getting business done, and suddenly you want something to drink, why not patronize a store where you will definitely not get sexually harassed? I have never been hassled in VFM, nor do I ever get that creepy feeling like someone is watching me browse for sugars. It’s really quite remarkable.
The prices are nothing shocking for a corner store that stocks food for the gentrifiers—or should I say yuppies? Yuppies is kind of an outdated, inadequate descriptor, I think, while gentrifier is too strong to describe Vegansaurus, none of whom can afford to buy a home anytime soon, and some of whom have not seen full-time employment in a good while. We are not going to edge out anyone other residents anytime soon, believe you me. Whichever term you prefer, before we find a new descriptor, say people who use the internet as their primary resource, “prefer” things like organic foods and all-natural peanut butter and Tofutti better-than cream cheese are most likely to benefit from the gentrification wave, and make up a good percentage of VFM’s customers. My point? Don’t cry about the prices; there are plenty of cheaper stores in this neighborhood that would welcome more business, and you know why you shop here.
Lucky me, I have thus far been able to afford the lifestyle I’ve chosen, which includes the occasional fake cream cheese, and 15oz. juice, and I am really happy to have a little market that carries such items so close to my overpriced apartment. It’s good to have been given some advantages in life. One of which now is living so close to such a wonderful corner store. It is something I have yet to take for granted, I swear.
Note: $5 minimum on purchases with plastic. Yes, it’s a violation of terms, but I am not going to argue with those nice people.
I was a waitress at a Chevy’s one summer break from college. Oh fuck off. Like you never gave a blow job you didn’t regret. Actually, I waitressed at the Chevy’s in Alameda which was the VERY FIRST CHEVY’S EVER. Thas right. Chevy’s originated on The Island. You’re surprised? Alameda is basically Texas-Mexico. I know, I want to burn the whole Island down too. Anyway, that Chevy’s is now defunct but I picked up some odd shifts at different Bay Area Chevy’s and have eaten at a few (I KNOW) so I feel qualified to write a review about them and let’s be honest, even if I didn’t, I’d write it anyway.
Now, the only things to really eat at Chevy’s as a vegan are the chips, the salsa and the margaritas. Four food groups covered? Check! They actually have a large and decent tequila selection and I recommend a top shelf on the rocks with salt. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO GET THE FROZEN MARGARITAS. They totally skimp on the amount of tequila to nasty-sweet-slushy ratio and the only buzz you’ll end up with is a cold freeze followed by a shitty sugar rush. Or fuck it, who are we trying to kid? You’re at CHEVY’S. Get a MangoGuavaWatermelonRita with seven pieces of giant fruit and nine Mexican flags hanging off of it. It might be 2,000 calories and not get you even remotely drunk but you’ll be this ridiculously ridiculous American asshole drinking a fake margarita at a fake Mexican restaurant and let’s just do the damn thing!
You might also consider enjoying some fresh flour tortillas from “LA MAQUINA”. I’m pretty sure that’s Spanish for, “TERRIFYING DEATH TRAP”. It’s this insane tortilla-making machine that looks like a medieval torture device. They have one at every Chevy’s, lucky you. When I worked there, I had nightmares about getting my arm caught in LA MAQUINA and being left with a tortilla for a hand. Scary business. You can also get some shitty salads and a veggie fajitas plate but what’s the use? I already told you your dinner is seven margaritas and 10 baskets of chips. Oh also, don’t forget about,”El Happy Hour" (I couldn’t make this shit up) where all well drinks and some crappy beers are $3 from 4 to 7 p.m. I don’t think they do this in the SF locations because they know we can afford their ridiculous prices. Assholes.
Speaking of, since I’m always drunk off my dinner when I’m here, I can’t really comment on the service but I’m guessing by my skillz in that department that it’s pretty fucking horrendous. I was either drunk, high or completely disinterested during every single one of my shifts. In fact, I was probably a better waitress drunk than I ever was sober…at least then I was TRYING to focus so that I wouldn’t bite it when walking to your table or like, throw up on you. I’ll tell you another thing, fucking people who eat at Chevy’s are the fucking worst. I ha
d my ass grabbed by a GUY WEARING A BACKWARDS BASEBALL CAP, I was referred to simply as “Red” by several dudes old enough to be dead and I can’t even tell you how many times I was condescended to by the Beverly Hillbillies out for a fancy dinner at Chevy’s. I made it a point to mention 19 times each shift that I was on BREAK from COLLEGE in NEW YORK CITY because I just couldn’t stand being asked if, “I understood the order?” one more time by some twat with seven teeth. Either that or I’d tell some bizarre lie about how I was a scientist from NASA who recently cracked the Flux Capacitor and traveled BACK through TIME into the FUTURE to er, wait tables at Chevy’s Tex Mex.
This is also the place where I learned from Sonya, the giantess Swedish bartender, to always order a “Crown and Water” on a date because even though it tastes like earwax, men love it. I’ve found this secret to be very true and ladies, I pass it on to you today. I’ve drank so many of these that I actually like the taste now, go figure. It’s no Midori Sour but come on, what is? There is no competing with the King of Girl Beer.
I hope this review doesn’t get me sued.
Logistics: Chevy’s has nine Bay Area locations, four in SF. Mostly downtown-ish and one in Stonestown shopping center. You might be forced to go there on a work-type event. That is when this review will help. I think.
Mission Pie has a new pie, and finally, finally, it is vegan! The flavor is apple, and at $3.50 a slice, it will cost you as much as a cupcake elsewhere, but it is a hearty piece of pie that you eat it warm, with a fork, and a cup of coffee, and what a wonderful snack that makes! I say this because that was my lunch today, Mission Pie’s vegan apple pie and coffee, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mission Pie moved into a new building on the corner of Mission and 25th Streets earlier this year, and began baking onsite just a month ago, on Nov. 17. This I believe bodes well for the fate of vegan pies, as the pie-bakers will be better able to meet our demands if they can turn around and bake us up something nice in under an hour.
The crust on this vegan apple pie (of THE FUTURE*) is thick, rustic I guess, and has a nice buttery flavor, although I could not say for sure if they used miracle product Earth Balance. Regardless, it does not contain the products of animal exploitation, and it tastes good, and that is that.
Ha ha NO, a three-paragraph review does not belong on Vegansaurus: we believe in the quality of quantity, as it were. So let’s discuss Mission Pie’s second annual pie-baking contest of Aug. 3, in which three Vegansaurs + Joel entered pies. Jonas made a (key, had there been any such fruits available) lime pie; Laura made a shoo-fly pie; Maria made a shepherd’s pie; and Joel made a tomato and roasted pepper tart. (For reasons I cannot now recall, Joel did not say his tart was vegan on his entry form.)
Unfortunately we only have documented evidence of Joel’s tart, but rest assured we were able to taste a bit of each other’s pies, and found them all very good. There was one other vegan entry, I believe it was some kind of seasonal fruit pie, and someone snagged a piece of that for us to share as well. The crowding was not too terrible, and people were able to take their plates outside after filling them with pies (post-judging, the pies were sliced and put out on long tables, for attendees to serve themselves buffet-style).
When awards time finally, finally came, I felt quite confident in the nascent Vegansaurs’ chances of winning. Our four pies were so good! There were so many peach/nectarine/blueberry/boring old egg-and-butter entries, how could we not win at least on originality? Well! As it turned out, the same people who won for Youngest Baker, Best Crust, and Best Overall Pie the year prior won the same titles in this year’s competition, which, fine, all right. However, the good people of Mission Pie also created a new category, Best Vegan Pie, and honored our Laura and her shoo-fly pie with the award! Of course, the prize was a gift certificate to Mission Pie, which at the time made exactly one vegan item, a carrot muffin, and that only occasionally, so perhaps it was not then the most valuable prize. Four months later, it’s all worth it! Right, Laura?
Our job now is to patronize Mission Pie, and eat up all their vegan apple pie, to prove the existence of a vegan customer base and the demand for vegan pies. Because honestly, for me apple pie is OK, but it is not the pie of pies. I want all their pies veganized: walnut, pear ginger, banana cream—wait, gross, no banana cream—whatever “shaker lemon” is, I love lemon pies, and pumpkin. And they’ve got apple cranberry torture pie? Why not throw some cranberries in our apple pies, too, Mission Pie? Vegans love a culinary adventure! OK maybe that is a generalization I have no way of proving, but this vegan loves cranberries above all berries and would love to have a piece of cranapple pie from you. So let’s get to this already, there is pie waiting to be eaten and demands waiting to be made.
*the vegan lifestyle is the future, you guys, come on. the world can’t handle the massive “production of livestock,” that is to say, all the animals shoved together in huge areas, eating unnatural food, ruining the land, farting the atmosphere into oblivion. Tanneries, too, where they take cow and calf skins and magically transform them into material for shoes and coats and bags and gloves and couches and 99 percent of the items worn and used by Folsom Street Fair enthusiasts. You’ll all be in Matt & Nat-style vegan “leather” soon enough, you murderous bastards, even the shoe collectors. First of all, eat some vegan pie, and tell me you don’t get as much satisfaction out of it as any piece of murder pie (death pie? torture pie? this still needs working out).
Eiji is a super-tiny sushi place on Sanchez at 16th Streets. It would be easily missed if it weren’t for the gigantic sign-flag out front that screams, “TOFU!!!!!” How is a vegan supposed to resist? You can’t fly a flag the size of a sperm (hee) whale that says only “TOFU!!!!!!” and not expect to be descended on by my people. And we vegans would be oh-so-right in doing so because the homemade tofu is phenomenal and unlike anything you can buy in the stores (even hippie stores like Rainbow!). There are several kinds, most of which can be served vegan. I know you’re like, “SOME? it’s TOFU, bitch.” and I’m like, “A) you gotta relax with calling me names and B) Yes BUT this is Japanese food made by Japanese people and these fools be lovin’ to put fish flakes on everything, you know?!” So sometimes they can all be made vegan (depending on if you get the nice waiter or the mean waiter) and sometimes only some of them can be made vegan.
The hot tofu dish is by far the best and is naturally vegan, kinda like a vegan chawan-mushi (hot savory custard, DUH). UGH SO GOOD. Hot and sweet and it just melts in your mouth and send you straight to heaven. It’s the whole package. It’s the massage and it’s the happy ending.
Apart from the homemade tofu and bizarrely inconsistent service, you must go for the mochi. The mochi is so in demand that you must actually eat in the restaurant to get it. And you can’t just order mochi, you must eat a meal. And even with these crazytown rules, they still sell out of mochi pretty early so put your order in when you arrive to ensure that there will be mochi waiting for you at the end of the meal. Oh man, that pisses the other tables around you off SO MUCH. They are like, “WAH WE FINISHED FIRST, I THOUGHT YOU WERE OUT OF MOCHI, HOW DID THOSE PEOPLE GET SOME WAH” and I’m like, “It’s because we’re better-looking than you.”
And that is both a truth and a lie. You see? Anyway, the mochi is house-made with huge fresh strawberries and adzuki bean paste. It’s the best in town and worth the trip. From Mars, even.
Other than that, the veggie sushi options are pretty pedestrian, although high in quality and freshness: cucumber, avocado, squash, etc. They are expertly rolled too and it’s nice to see sushi that is packed tight like an 18-year-old’s ass. What? I’m so sorry.
Oh and make a reservation. And be on time. If you’re not on time, your table will be given away and you will be scolded. It’s no fun.
[sign and tofu photos by pengrin; mochi photo by qf8]
Angkor Borei is a Cambodian restaurant in the Mission on the edge of Bernal Heights. Its location has no bearing on this review, except that I would probably not have patronized it as many times as I have were it not so close to my homes, past and present. It’s really lucky the Mission has such a wide variety of restaurants, because I have to tell you, most all of the decisions I make are location-based. Being extremely lazy means if a place is not within walking distance, I may never go to it. Shameful, but true. Maybe if I were employed again and my employer were buying my Fast Pass, I would have reasons to be out every day in different neighborhoods with the means to get wherever I wanted, and the occasional cab wouldn’t feel so much like hemorrhaging money. TOO BAD.
Thankfully, there’s Angkor Borei, within walking and delivery distance (depending on the time, weather, and your ability to leave the house for comestibles). Every time we eat here, or order from here, all I want is the peanut mock duck, in curry with tons of lightly cooked spinach, and made of heaven. C’est si bon, the peanut mock duck. Usually curry, be it subcontinental Indian or or Thai, riles my vengeful stomach into a day-long rage, but not the peanut mock duck’s curry sauce; it is perfect in every way, and I love it so.
Of course there are loads of other tasty Cambodian dishes for you to love, especially the appetizer that involves you filling raw spinach leaves with combinations of ginger, peanuts, toasted coconut, red onions, chili, lime juice, and a mysterious but vegan Chef’s sauce. Make sure to ask for the vegetarian version, otherwise it comes with dried shrimp, bleh. You can ask for a demonstration if you fail to understand the concept of putting some small pieces of food and sauce inside a larger, flatter food item, and eating it as though it were a tiny taco.
The last time I was there, as part of a Vegansaurus eating occasion, we ordered the seasonal special pumpkin curry with tofu and asparagus, which was the best pumpkin curry I’ve had anywhere, and here is why: instead of making a regular curry with pumpkin chunks, they added pumpkin to the curry base, and then served the whole thing inside a big piece of pumpkin, which acted like a bowl that held (and spilled) the delicious curry over a larger china plate.
As soon as we realized that the entire dish—as in, the curry and the pumpkin shell—was edible, there was a great flashing of spoons and stuffing of faces and suddenly the pumpkin curry plate was entirely empty. If you want this dish—which you should, because it is so, so tasty—you ought to call ahead to see if they’re serving it, as it was on the specials menu.
I suppose other people order other things, but mostly I like the peanut mock duck, the spinach leaves, and the (vegetarian, obvs) crispy crepe. Oh, that crispy crepe is a delight as well. Yesterday I tried the hot and sour soup with mock chicken for the first time, and everyone else seemed to like it very much but it was not really to my taste, especially because of the huge, pyramid-shaped chunks of tomatoes that came in it. I really dislike tomatoes in this form and they put me off the entire soup. Also there were a few roots I could not identify as being in/edible, yes my ignorance is my responsibility but acknowledging that doesn’t make me suddenly find them appealing. Mostly, though, the tomatoes, which of course are not traditional Cambodian produce and in my opinion had no business grossing up this fine soup. By “fine” I mean “how children describe their school days to their parents,” because as I said it wasn’t really to my liking. Also, everyone else seemed to really enjoy the dried bean curd (tofu skin, I believe) in turmeric sauce, and the mock chicken in a red curry with bamboo shoots and green beans, but the tofu skin did not make me happy so much as make me think, Goodness, this is slimy, and I was too full to eat any of the red curry, so at the end of that meal, my favorites are still my favorites. They’ve won awards for the peanut mock duck, though, so even if you think my tastes are limited, at least they are pedestrian so you don’t have to be afraid of them. HAR HAR.
Regardless, go to Angkor Borei, eat delicious vegan Cambodian food, feel a weigh lifted from your shoulders because you do not once have to say NO FISH SAUCE, let alone loudly enunciate each syllable and/or actually learn how to say and write NO FISH SAUCE in the language of every country whose cuisine uses fish sauce, because sometimes you can say it a million times with a million pleases and still your food will arrive stinking of a million carcasses and you know you have been betrayed. This has never happened at Angkor Borei, though, because they understand what “vegetarian” means, so we are all safe. Really.
The staff is very friendly and attentive, and they never let your water glass go empty. The little candies that come with the check are tamarind-flavored. Their most recent health inspection score is 93. If I weren’t full now, I’d wish I had leftover peanut mock duck to mix up with rice and devour as a late-night why-aren’t-I-asleep-dear-god-what’s-wrong-with-me snack.
[spinach photo via yelp; pumpkin curry photo by Laura]
It’s not super easy to find truly old-school diners or coffee shops in the Bay Area. In New York City, you can find one on every corner. If you haven’t eaten coleslaw out of a vat infested with maggots, you aren’t really a New Yorker. I’m looking at you, Waverly Diner! Anyway, there is something comforting in sitting down in a place where the waiters speak Greek or Russian or Armenian and are slow AND rude and all there is for a vegan to order is a plate of hash browns the size of your face. If you’re feeling nostalgic for a true diner, then head to Jim’s Coffee Shop in Alameda. You will not regret it. Just don’t ask for soy milk. You will regret that.
Jim’s is also special to me because I saw the most awesome fight outside of this place. It started as a fender-bender and ended in…well, you’ll see. Here’s how it went down. This one car rear-ends this other car. Like a very light tap. I mean, if it had been my minivan, I would’ve waved the other dude good-bye, saying something like, “Have you SEEN my car? It might be a high-powered piece of automotive genius on the INSIDE but a ding on the outside? Keep moving, buddy!” because I mean, really. If I have one ding, I have a hundred. Literally. I have 100 dings on my Kia.
Anyway, the guy who is hit freaks out and motions for the other dude to pull over. Now, I’m watching this whole thing with some French fries in hand—I think this adds to the appeal of the whole thing, the entire time I am watching this, I am casually munching on french fries—the dude who was hit gets out of the car and he’s bright red. Like a scary, big, mean red man of anger and rage. I know some bad (if not interesting) shit is about to hit the fan. I inch closer. The other dude gets out, looking like your average middle-class white dude; he doesn’t seem particularly mad.
And so our story unfolds: The Super-Agro Man of Rage (SAMOR) is all, “What the fuck, man? You put a dent in my Nissan, man! I just got this car fixed, man! That is fucked up, man!”
Middle-Class White Dude (MCWD) is all, “I’m sorry, let’s check out the dent and see if we can have our insurance talk it over.”
SAMOR is all, “Man, that shit ain’t right! Insurance talk it over man, nah. We’re going to deal with it right here.” (NO SHIT, THIS IS WHAT HE SAID)
MCWD and Laura B are all, “What?”
SAMOR is all, “You heard me, son! I’m about to fuck you up!”
SAMOR starts to move closer to MCWD. MCWD is backing away being all, “I think this is best solved through our insurance companies.”
SAMOR is all, “Didn’t you hear me, man? We’re gonna settle this now!”
MCWD is getting more annoyed and starts to roll up his sleeves and is all, “OK, dude,” and starts to move towards SAMOR, at which time SAMOR starts to yell, “HELP! POLICE! THIS MAN IS GOING TO ATTACK ME!!!!”
NO SHIT!!!! He starts waving his arms wildly and screaming for help. I could not make this shit up. Well, maybe I could but i’m not. I swear. There are witnesses. All of them dead or living in Canada.
MCWD is all, “Dang, you are crazy!” and starts to go back to his car, at which time SAMOR is all, “What? You scared of me, bro? You want a piece?” and proceeds to pick a bottle up off the ground and throw it in MCWD’s direction. MCWD whips around and starts heading back to SAMOR, and SAMOR once again starts screaming, “HELP! SOMEONE CALL THE POLICE! 911! HELP! POLICE!”
At this point, I literally drop my French fries and pull out my cell phone because I’m not quite sure some bad shit is about to go down, but I know some freaky shit is currently going down. I call the police.
MCWD is all, “Fuck this, you are crazy,” and starts to move back to his car, and SAMOR is all, “Oh that’s right, walk away you pussy bitch! I knew it, bitch!” and MCWD is just shaking his head, and SAMOR runs after him, passes him, hits MCWD’s car really hard with his fist and runs back around the other side of the car. At this point, MCWD just loses it and is chasing SAMOR around his car while SAMOR yells, “HELP! POLICE!”
The police finally arrive and I’m forced to give witness to what I just saw. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I’m not quite sure what just went down in front of me. I testify to the best of my ability and head back into Jim’s for another to-go order of french fries.
Moral of this story, kids? Stay the fuck away from meth.
I wrote this review of Delfina awhile ago on the Yelp site but I will just publish it here now. Fuck Yelp. I kid, that site is great. I’ll probably update it later but not now, I have about 60 emails to respond to and a million things to do in the hour I get to be on the internet today. Fuck me sideways.
Everyone sit down, Mama has some news. I went on a date tonight. That’s right; I’m not sure if you are ready to let your little Laura fly away into coupledom during which time Yelp will become the red-headed step child I am ashamed of and lock in the basement and occasionally beat. This time, next week, I’ll most likely be engaged to be married. Unless I’m really not. Which brings me the actual date. Here is how the big D went down and I can be 100 percent honest because I’m like 90 percent sure this fool is way too cool for school/Yelp. We met through a mutual friend and he emailed me to ask me to have coffee (GAY) and talk about how the world is fucked. I, of course, am amenable on the world being fucked front and so I said, how about you buy me dinner (as I am poor AND fat! Some might call me a double-threat!) and you have yourself a deal, sir! and by deal, I of course mean, easy lay.
Delfina is the ultimate first date place, according to Yelpers, Zagats, Chowhound, my parents and that homeless dude who soft shoe(lesse)s in front of Tartine. So, I didn’t make the plans but when he suggested Delfina I was like, “PREDICTABLE. SNOOZE.” But again, beggars can’t be choosers and I’ve always had a delicious time at Delfina so Delfina it is! Now, the food was great and the conversation so-so-meh but I have one huge problem with this place and that is this: the waitresses are freaking Goddesses. I’m not trying to have a first date at some place where I look like I have Down Syndrome in comparison to these beautiful sirens. I felt like fucking Beauty and the Beast up in that bitch. Not cool. Seriously, first date place, Yelp? First date if you want your prospective husband to go home and jerk it to the chick who served you Pasta Putanesca! I mean, for realz. I cry “Uncle” to Delfina. I cannot win in a situation like this. You know what a perfect first date place is? McDonald’s. And here’s why: They employ actual retards. It’s part of the leg up program or whatever it’s called which is just darling and I love it AND you can’t help but seem attractive and semi-sane in comparison with the differently abled. It’s win/win, people! Man, fools at McDonald’s are having awesome dates and I’m over here at Delfina’s trying to feign interest in what this jackass across from me is blathering on about and it’s damn hard when I want to beat a bitch down based solely on her unholy good looks. I want to beat her and then make out with her, GOD HELP ME. When I decided I wanted to make out with the waitress more than I wanted to make out with Hipster McUseless start-up across the table, I knew this was not MTB (look it up, people. We were all teenage girls once. For some of the women on this site, it was mere weeks ago.) The other clue that this was not the man for me was at this moment in our conversation:
Date Boy: God, it’s such a beautiful day today, don’t you think? And you know what day it is, right? The first day of spring!
Laura B.: GAY!
Anyway, Delfina. Delicious and a few vegan options, and the kitchen is very accommodating. Upon learning I was vegan, the chef made me spaghetti with all sorts of delightful vegetables in it including my favorite, artichoke hearts! I love those little suckers! The fries are always amazing, thin and crispy with herbs and salt…POIFECT! But awful, terrible first date place. Actually, I’m sure it would be fine if you had healthy self-esteem and sense of your own worth, which I’m assuming you don’t as you are a woman. Even if you are a man who reads my reviews, you are a woman and this world can often be hard on the thinking, feeling lady. Now, come tell Mama your problems, it looks like she might not be going anywhere for a long, long time.
I really hope this dude doesn’t read this.
UPDATES FOR VEGANSAURUS Well, I now have a super-great boyfriend so that has changed.* And Delfina remains a solid choice when you want a plate of no-frills pasta in a semi-fancy environment. You won’t find tons of choices for vegans but sometimes you just want really good spaghetti with plum tomatoes, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Also, there is an attached pizza place where the crust is vegan so you can get a cheeseless pizza there too. You can also sit out front with your dog. But if you’re gonna do that, just go to nearby Beretta for as-delicious pizza with the options of vegan cheese and vegan sausage AND THEY ALSO HAVE ABSINTHE. Decision made!
Admittedly I love giving every restaurant high ratings because I want everyone to just be fucking happy (I am a classic middle child) but Minako really does deserves the heaps and heaps of praise I’m finna heap on its tiny ass. If you understood that last sentence, bravo!
1) In a city where Japanese cuisine = sushi = FISH TIME IN GROSS-ASS DEAD FISH TOWN, there aren’t tons of choices for us vegans. Sure, if you want another cucumber roll, you can go to Red Box or wherever the fuck the omnivore retards of this city are freaking out about, or you can head to Minako for some fucking SELECTION. An entire special vegan menu full of selection! Thas right! I love the fried veggie eel (the veggie eel = worth living for and you MUST try!) and avocado roll and the grilled eggplant with miso glaze appetizer. The tofu house dish is basically hollowed out (I believe it’s house-made) tofu stuffed with a million surprises. The miso soup is vegan as is the tempura (which is the best I’ve ever had). My parents lived in Japan for a few years and are crazy-picky about their sushi and they love it here. Even my dad eats vegan happily at Minako. This is saying a lot since my dad would happily dine on the tears of human babies if given the option. He’s delightful. Oh and they are constantly adding vegan dishes to the menu and there is always a delicious vegan special or two.
2) The cranky chef mother/super-fresh waitress daughter combo can’t be beat. Plus, mom makes her own ume. I’ll pass (gross!) but it’s cool that she does. Some people (read: assholes) complain about them being too up in your business or curt or cranky or whatever but fuck it, eating at Minako is an experience worth having. And if you’re good to them, they’ll be good to you. It’s like family. Or the mob. You choose. They don’t need more customers so why would they put up with a bunch of jerks? I really wish this was how it worked at my job. I’d be such a lunatic to people who gave me any attitude or tried to get me to work period. I’d get hooks for hands and force people to let me give them back massages. I’m off task here.
3) On my last visit the music included Barry Manilow, Air Supply, Pavement and Eazy-E. YES, PLEASE!
4) It’s tiny, best for a date or a small group. There is always a wait for a table and your food. Just know and accept this.
Once when I was eating here, this guy—who, by the by, was a DEAD RINGER for a black Chuck Norris. You know when you see people but they are like the Chinese version of your white friend or the Mexican version of your Korean friend? It’s a trip. Well, this dude was Chuck Norris’ straight-up black twin—ordered and ate half the menu and when he was done, a Michael Jackson jam was turned way up and he and the waitress dirty-danced (!) for a couple of minutes. It was so great. This is the kind of magic that Minako holds. If you’re not into that, there is an Applebee’s in Stonestown you should hit up.
5) It’s on my top-five favorite restaurants in San Francisco list. I really love this place and would eat here at least once a week if my checkbook allowed. Currently my checkbook doesn’t allow for much more than a generic Vitamin Water at Walgreens but you know. I’ll get back on top sometime soon. I just gots to work hard and I will achieve my dreams! This is the land of plenty! USA! USA! USA!
Recipe: Silk Nog tapioca pudding! THIS IS THE SHIT! And hella cheap too!
I gave you a slow cooker dessert last week and now I’m taking things to the fast lane! Um and then I’ll have a restaurant review for SF because that’s what this site is supposed to be the fuck about.
Anyway, I hope you all spent your Thanksgiving holiday the fuck away from the computer (unless it was to watch legally downloaded episodes of Weeds and Dexter! I love not leaving bed until 3 p.m.!)
So this is super-easy, super-fast and super-delicious. Super. All you do is make minute tapioca—I use Kraft brand, it’s available everywhere; there might be better organic shit available from a non-evil company but I don’ t know—according to the directions on the packet, except you substitute Silk Nog beverage for the milk and just leave out the egg or use egg replacer or some canned pumpkin even. I bet that would be good. Also, throw in 2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice or garam masala. You can also just wing it and throw in cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. Whatever you do, this shit will be delicious. Cook according to package directions and voilà, bitches! Delicious Silk Nog tapioca pudding! It takes about 10 minutes to cook—five minutes to let everything sit in the pot together and then five minutes of stirring it until it boils—and then 20 minutes to let it cool. It thickens as it cools so don’t freak out about it not being thick. Go make some now and freak out at the deliciousness. Also, if you think tapioca is funky, you are weird and wrong. You are the funky one. Tapioca is wonderful.
(I’m not as good at Images as Jonas but you get the idea! I think! The idea is that the combination of those ingredients equals ONE HAPPY CHEF!)