Vegans: You’ve got four months to get your asses to Chicago for the fanciest, highest-concept, most ridiculous meal you will ever eat. Starting May 8, the theme for Grant Achatz’s rotating-menu, fancy-schmancy, modernist restaurant Next is VEGAN. See preview video above, which is actually more of a masturbatory inside joke about stealing vegetables from Chicago restaurants, but the music is good, so whatev.
This place is so crazy you don’t make a reservation or order a meal, you BUY A TICKET. And for four months only, we can actually eat there! The May tickets sold out in like two hours on Tuesday (sorry I’m not THAT on top of it), but I bet you can get rid of a kidney or something and find some on the underground market, or follow Next on Facebook or Twitter to hear about when June tickets go on sale.
If anyone goes, please document and share with us! I’m seriously considering buying a plane ticket for this. Seriously.
Vegan Roadtrip: Chicago! »
The rainy season is upon us, and combined with much shorter, winter days, I’m longing for the fun and daylight of summertime! So in an effort to cheer myself up, I thought we could look at all of the places I ate this summer, when I went to Chicago. That’s fun, right?
First, I tried El Nuevo Mexicano. I’d written about them in the past, on this very blog, and finally my opportunity to try it had arrived!
Of course my party had margaritas! My love of the margarita was born in the city of Chicago. They’re so delectable there.
For dinner I had this beast of a quesadilla. Not too shabby, eh? Their menu vegan menu changes periodically, but I’m pretty sure these were filled with seitan, Daiya, pico de gallo, and sauteed onions and bell peppers. They were delicious and very filling!
The next two days were a little scattered and uninteresting as far as food goes. My friend and I hightailed to mid-Michigan for a friend’s wedding, and it was slim pickings. My wedding meal looked like this:
Actually, the bride was very considerate of my diet, and a long-time vegetarian herself. Not pictured is some beautiful white squash with basil and oh so much wine.
Back in the city, I went to The Handlebar, as it’s one of my all-time favorite places to be! Now, usually when I’m there, I get the samosas for an appetizer and the buffalo “chicken” ranch wrap as my entree. For this visit, I decided to go a little crazy and mix things up!
I know you won’t believe this, but pictured above was my first foray in to the world of fried pickle spears. I fell fast, I fell hard, and now I order them anytime they’re available on a menu. I would also like to say, loudly and proudly, that I am Team Pickle Spear, but who am I kidding; I’ll gobble up deep-fried pickle chips like nobody’s business.
Then, there were fried avocado tacos. Deep-fried avocados—please, it was a no-brainer. As much as I may have liked them, I’m still head over heels for my buffalo-chicken wrap. It’s good to try new things, as sometimes it validates your love for the tried and true, right?
And then, the next night, IT HAPPENED—I tried Native Foods Cafe for the first time! I will now long for the Oaklahoma bacon cheeseburger every day until we are reunited again. Oh man, the cheddar sauce alone … Why must you live so far from San Francisco, Native Foods?
Native Foods Cafe in Wicker Park!
My friend Stephanie ordered the sweet potato fries.
My girl Nora got a massive plate of nachos!
Buffalo chicken strips are MY JAM, so of course I ordered them!
Last but certainly not least — the Oaklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger, in all its glory!
The next day, I tried to go to Quesadilla: La Reyna del Sur and it was closed! How dare you get in the way of my vegan gorging, Fourth of July? Instead, I went to my old late-night post-bars standby, Lazo’s tacos. It was all right. It’s much better at 3 a.m., but I appreciated the flood of memories I had walking in.
Decent, but is much tastier as an after-hours-everything-else-is-closed meal.
That concludes my Chicago trip! I know there are a lot of places I didn’t go, as time and also room in my stomach didn’t allow for it. I know you guys get super-excited about reccommending the Chicago Diner as well, but believe me, I know about it! I ate there almost every day when I worked there as a baker in 2006-‘07.
Chicago VeganMania is TODAY! »
We totally slept on this! Chicago VeganMania is today! If you’re in the area, stop what you’re doing and head over because it looks super awesome and it’s FREE! The list of vendors is out of control. I’m super jealous of anyone going. I would go but I’m in New York and agoraphobic. Victoria Moran is going to be there, Vaute Couture, and even the Vegan Black Metal Chef!
So if you’re anywhere near there, you have to go and send me pictures!
JB’s summer vacation: Chicago, cupcakes, beauty, and bags! »
Hey everyone! I’ve been on a hiatus, on summer vacay if you will. I went to Chicago, Michigan, and my parent’s house out in the East Bay. All kinds of exciting things happened—I drank rum in the back of a pick-up truck at a wedding in Michigan (a wedding where vegan food was served! The bride loves me), I ate at The Handlebar AND Native Foods (OMG, I so get what the big deal about Native Foods is now!), and back in California, I made cupcakes for my sister’s baby shower! That was a really big deal, as it’s a huge step for my family to have the dessert be completely vegan!
Now that I’m back, I have all sorts of exciting things to share! First, for all you vegan beauty and fashion fiends out there, check out the blog Logical Harmony! I absolutely love this blog, and actually found it because Tashina is a huge fan of Source (where I spend most of my waking hours). She’s always taking the most fantastic pictures (via Instagram, like all the
cool kids nerds) of our food there, as well as all things beauty related. Follow her on Twitter, and be sure to check out her lovely and informative blog!
A couple months ago, I bought a bag from Alex Eaves’ company, Stay Vocal, and let me tell you, it’s a wonderful, sturdy travel companion! His company is awesome (and he’s vegan!) because all of his apparel and bags are reused. For instance, my bag is an old MXPX tote, turned inside out with a Stay Vocal logo on it! At first I was like, “it’s going to be inside out? I don’t know about this…” but I love it! I highly recommend his stuff—the hippie in me digs his mission, plus it’s great quality. My bag reads “Reuse because you can’t recycle the planet,” and fellow “re-usetarians” are always beaming at me when they read it.
I also finally took the Vegansaurus new food challenge! It happened in July, but that’s me—always late to the party. I worked with jackfruit, making a dish similar to this one. I was inspired by the jackfruit sandwich that Rachel had in Colorado. I can’t wait to play with it some more, so I can post a recipe I’m super proud of. I’m stoked that jackfruit is a meat substitute of sorts (for carnitas or pulled pork) that is actually not processed flour, soy, or some other crazy combination of ingredients that tend to be hard to digest.
That’s it for now—I got a lot of posts to catch up on before the coffee wears off.
Restaurant review: the Handlebar in Chicago! »
I’m going to Chicago next week and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m exhausted and the daily grind is killing me. It’s time for a break in lovely, humid Chicago! Instead of Muni, there will be CTA! Instead of AT&T Park, there will be Wrigley Field! Instead of Bottom of the Hill, there will be The Hideout! Instead of freezing Ocean Beach, there will be the Michigan Lakefront! Next Friday cannot come soon enough and though there are many things I am looking forward to, going to The Handlebar is at the top of my list. I love that place so much.
The Handlebar is a hip little restaurant, located in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. When I say hip, I mean it’s usually swarmed with bike messengers and hipsters, but that is okay with me, because they are quite an attractive demographic of people. I do enjoy eating with both my eyes and taste buds. Don’t let me forget the fetching* waitstaff, with their creative haircuts and tattoo sleeves. Speaking of waitstaff, I’m just gonna gloss over this part as best as possible—don’t go to The Handlebar if you are in a rush. Enjoy yourself. Bring something to read if you are alone; there may be a little wait between those pints or coffee refills.
Tattooed servers, bike messengers, hipsters and vegan food, I’m COMING. I can’t wait! In the meantime, let’s you and I look at pictures from my recent trip in January. Fun. (Please forgive the incredibly bright flash, the lighting was just atrocious—oh, those dark winter nights.)
Hush puppies with tartar sauce. Yes it’s vegan! Unbelievable!
Samosas with tamarind chutney.
This is the Buffalo “Chicken” Wrap with collard greens, and the only dish I ever order. I am a creature of habit. I just want it all the time. You understand, right? It’s spicy and creamy—it’s bliss. The wrap my dreams are made of.
The Handlebar has a smallish menu, with many vegan options. Everything they do is done to perfection. This is going to sound totally crazy, and I know it, but they make the most delicious samosas I’ve ever had. Is that blasphemy, considering it’s not an Indian food joint? Anyway, the chutney that comes with them—SUPERB. Their seitan? So tender and scrumptious. Their beer selection? Awesome and varied. When I was missing Humboldt, I needed to look no further than The Handlebar, as they have Lost Coast Brewery beers on tap.
Handlebar, I love you, I miss you, and I cannot wait for us to be reunited.
*Daaaang, have you been working out? You look really great. Doing anything this weekend?
Awesome blog alert: Vegan Miss! »
I don’t remember how I stumbled across this vegan blog, Vegan Miss, but it was pretty recently, and I was like “man, this chica is brilliant.” Then I realized I knew her. Kind of.
Lexy is from the Bay Area, and lives in Chicago! Back in 2008, I went to an event she organized at her college (she was president of the Vegan Society at Loyola—she’s a real go-getter), at which she got Colleen Patrick-Goudreau to speak! It was amazing, and I got my copy of The Joy of Vegan Baking signed! I emailed Lexy shortly afterward to thank her, and thus began my first friendship conducted exclusively over social media.
The years passed and we fell out of contact, but then I found her blog. Check it out! As if you needed further incentive than my enthusiastic “DO IT,” take a look:
Country fried steak. Thank me by inviting me over for dinner when you make this, deal?
How to, yo: Cook yourself some beets! »
Beets! They are delicious and so good for you! I learned how to make them a few years ago in Chicago, when my then-roommate, Jeremy Cox (also a vegan! That’s why I picked him!) showed me how. He was also the one who introduced me to sauteing the beet greens! Beet greens? Let me tell you, back then, I was a 27-year-old who didn’t know kale was edible. What? I’ve come a long way since then!
Let’s get this started!
Making beets the way I do is a little bit of a process, but so worth it! You need to steam, then sauté. Elbow grease never hurt anyone, right? If you have a different approach, as always, post in the comments! Let’s trade tips!
1. Buy yourself a bunch of beets, greens included!
2. Wash and chop your beets. I like to leave the skin on, and then cut it off once the beets are steamed.
3. Steam your beets until fork tender. I NEVER use a microwave to cook food. (Just saying! I prefer you use the stove top method, but I’m not your mom!)
4. Now that your beets are soft, peel or cut the skins off. Wash the beet greens, stems and all. I cut the stems into 1 inch pieces and slightly
tear chop the greens into smaller pieces. Like, the size of spinach leaves!
5. In a pan, heat up some oil. I use whatever is available—sometimes it’s vegetable and sometimes it’s olive. Put in your beets, stems and greens. Sauté on about medium/medium high heat until greens are cooked to your liking! When I made mine, I didn’t use any seasonings; I think beets are that flavorful! Plus, I think you’ll find that the stems and greens are a bit salty by nature. However, I bet some lemon juice or balsamic vinegar added to the sauté process would be delicious. Garlic powder? Probably!
About to steam!
Serve. Knock the socks off everyone. My Dad loved this side dish. Man, it always feels great to impress my parents with my cooking prowess! (And to give my mom a night off in the kitchen when I’m home!)
When the beets exit your body the next day, don’t worry! You don’t have to go to the emergency room, I promise! It’s just that beets have a tendency to turn EVERYTHING red [Ed. note: Jenny! Gross!].
S.F. Vegan Drinks is back on Thursday! New venue, new drinks! »
C’mon, I know you missed all the awkward mingling and the chance to catch of glimpse of the hot ladies of VegNews and Vegansaurus! So hot. I’m stoked it’s in a new venue this time around (though I do love Martuni’s, change is good!) and the cocktail special will be vegan white Russians! I’m so there.
When: Thursday, Jan. 26, 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, 2323 Mission St. at 19th
Drinks: $3 bottled beer, $4 well drinks, and $5 vegan white Russians!
Food: Sweet potato tater tots, beer-battered onion rings, veggie burgers, and vegan sliders!
I just read on Yelp that they have tater tots cooked in truffle oil! For real?! Five baskets, please! It’s cool, I’ll share — that way I can talk your ear off about my upcoming trip to Chicago!*
*Hear that, Chicago vegans? I’ll be in your neck of the woods on Sunday, hopping all over Wicker Park (for the Handlebar and Sultan’s Market, obvi!) What
an exhausting a fun week this is going to be!
Happy Thanksgiving from Jennie! She writes that “for the last two years, my family has done Thanksgiving at the Chicago Diner. That was awesome, but we wanted a more sweatpants-friendly day this year. Everything is from scratch: potpies with Gardein, stuffing, green bean casserole, carrots with maple glaze, and pumpkin pie with a streusel top.”
Impressive! Those pot pies are adorable!