Liguria Bakery! »
Liguria bakery in North Beach is one of those places in San Francisco that not a whole lot of San Franciscans seem to know about. Maybe it’s that so many San Franciscans sort of shun North Beach, leaving it to the tourists and the peep-show perverts; maybe it’s that it’s just out of the way. Whatever the reason, vegans in San Francisco would do well to remember its name, because Liguria makes the BEST focaccia bread ever, and it is awesome.
Before you hit up this mythical North Beach bread paradise, however, you should be aware of a couple things: 1) Liguria does pretty much ONE THING AND ONE THING ONLY (though it does it in about nine flavors), and that thing is big-ass pieces of focaccia bread. You can get a slice that’s about the size of a piece of standard copier paper for between four and five bucks depending on the kind you want. It will feed you for a day if all you want to eat is bread (and believe me, you DO). 2) They open early (8 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends), and they close when they sell out. This also tends to be early, so get there before 11 a.m. if you don’t want your trip to be for nothing! 3) The ladies who work here are mean as fuck. I’m sure they’re really nice in real life when they’re not serving the hordes of North Beach frat boy tourists or tourists looking for “The Real San Francisco,” but even if you’re really nice and say “could I please have a piece of the olive focaccia please” with about 80 extra “pleases” thrown in, they will look you up and down with a look of pure hatred and only reluctantly get you your order (which is totally fine with me—I like when service people are able to express their hatred of customers—but if you’re easily offended, you’d best steel yourself). 4) They only take cash, so don’t be that jerk who can’t read the sign and then creates a bunch of hassle for everyone!
When I was there, I had a piece of the olive focaccia and the garlic focaccia, and both were completely insane. I’d been told to try the pizza variety, but I panicked and couldn’t remember if it had cheese on it or not (and didn’t want to ask), so I missed out, but for future reference, I can assure you that the pizza focaccia IS VEGAN—it’s basically tomato sauce on bread. Anyway, the bread is fluffy and soft, but not so soft it falls apart. The edges are a little crunchy in the best possible way, and the toppings are flavorful and generously applied.
There’s not a whole lot else I can say except that it’s definitely worth the trip up to North Beach (grab some xox truffles while you’re at it) and the fat ass. Go get it, vegans!
Sugar Plum Vegan is selling some bomb-ass vegan cinnamon rolls at Rainbow! Get ‘em while they’re hot! Or not like 10 days old. What is up with Rainbow and leaving baked goods out forever?! Ah well, the fact that they provide for the vegans, and my ever expanding ass-ular region, is reason enough for me to not talk shit. AND STILL I RISE.
Wholesome Bakery to open in new Bernal Heights Marketplace! »
Big news. Wholesome Bakery is looking to go legit. Currently part of the Street Food Revolution, it’s an entirely vegan bakery (on wheels). BUT NOT FOR LONG. They will soon OPEN EVERY DAY FOR US TO BUY DELICIOUS VEGAN BAKED GOODS PRAISE BE in the new Bernal Heights Marketplace. They are shooting to open by the first of the year and we’re all very excited. With vegan bakeries on a race to set up a shop in SF, we all win.
BRING IT, CUPCAKES.
Vegan Bakery Cinnaholic wins FIRST PLACE in the SF Food Wars’ Mini Cupcake Clash!!! »
SO AWESOME. First place OUT OF 20 competitors (and the vast majority of them weren’t vegan!!). They won Photographers Choice too. HOT DAMN. Having tasted Cinnaholic's pumpkin cinnamon rolls and chocolate cherry brownies at the SF Vegan Bakesale, I can say, I AM NOT SURPRISED. You go ‘head and get down, ladies! I can’t wait to see (and eat!) what comes out of that new vegan bakery next!
A short shout out to SF Food Wars. They are awesome and have always been great to vegans. Fat Bottom Bakery won 2nd place in the Mac n’ Cheese Battle Royale with their delicious vegan mac n’ cheese. It’s fantastic to have foodie events that aren’t only open to vegans, but also encouraging. We <3 SF Food Wars and will continue to talk them up and maybe one day they will have an all-vegan challenge and we can be judges and eat until we explode PLEASE GOD.
Hot Cookie! »
Not much vegan on the menu at Hot Cookie, the Gayest Cookie Nook on Earth. Actually, there is only one vegan item that I know of and that is the ginger cookie. But these cookies are so good, they warrant their own post. They are not ginger snaps, they’re more like doughy ginger clouds of chewy deliciousness. The Hot Cookie owners also have big hearts, they always donates cookies to Rocket Dog Rescue for our events and so that makes them tops in my book. Plus, that is one damn fine vegan ginger cookie.
On a side note, an acquaintance of mine (okay, good friend) came in here really high one day and freaked out on the nice counter girl for not having white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. He then had some sort of a drug-mixing-induced seizure and they had to call an ambulance to get him. He was invited to never return. That’s the kind of shit they should show you in D.A.R.E.
Oh finally, they also sell a (non-vegan) cookie shaped like a penis. IN YOUR FACE, ANITA! I brought my mom here and she bought several to “give” to her “friends.” I watched in horror as she made jokes with the counter guy about the size and girth (THE GIRTH!) of the chocolate-covered snickerdoodle wang with coconut macaroon nads. Oh, life! You get me every time!!
Road Trip: CoCo’s Cupcake Cafe in Pittsburgh! »
Update, June 27, 2010: Coco’s has closed.
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.
Road Trip: Dozen Bakeshop in Pittsburgh! »
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.
[photo by Joel]
Review: Mission Pie! »
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).
Review: Nabolom Bakery! »
I used to date this fool who lived all the way in Berkeley and would occasionally bring me a vegan cinnamon roll from Nabolom Bakery. This is probably why the relationship lasted longer than it should have. Another reason that it lasted longer than it should have is that my neighbors at the time were a bunch of busybody old-lady assholes who would frequently comment on the fact that I had a lot of “gentlemen callers” when in reality most of them were friends or lesbians. It’s like, “I KNOW YOU’RE 10,000 YEARS OLD AND THE LAST TIME YOU HAD SEX IT WAS WITH A T-REX BUT PLEASE MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BEESWAX.*” Every time this d-bag came over, he’d be greeted by flashlights and binoculars. FLASHLIGHTS, PEOPLE. Those ridiculous geezers would peer through their windows in their hairnets, dressing gowns and pantaloons (that was the fashion back then), calling each other to be all, “There she goes again! That girl can’t keep ‘em shut!” UGH.
So anyway, that relationship lived on long past its expiration date because of Nabolom’s vegan cinnamon rolls and good old-fashioned neighborly spite. Also, excellent sex. I think, I can’t really remember actually. I, too, am getting old.
OH AND they have an amazing vegan chocolate cake. And carrot muffin. And lots of other yummy vegan baked goods. Delicious.
*I say beeswax here because you gotta speak to them in language they can understand—you know, whatever they were speaking in South Mesopotamia when those hagathas weren’t HELLA OLD.
[photo via yelp]
Review: Sugar Beat Sweets vegan bakery! »
There was once a time I was so desperate for good-tasting vegan baked goods that I WOULD ORDER THEM FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. That is correct. I would pay around $60 to have some bear claws sent to me from Sticky Fingers Bakery in our nation’s capital. It was the worst of times.
But that was horrible then and this is wonderful now because now SF has its very own vegan bakery, Sugar Beat Sweets! It’s a brand-new, all-vegan, woman-owned bakery that uses fair-trade, organic and local ingredients whenever possible. I’m telling you, if I had to lie through my teeth one more time about how most vegan goods are just as good as their butter- and dairy-filled counterparts, I would be forced to stick my head in an oven. To eat the cake that’s inside. I ain’t going nowhere, bitches! But also, I would continue to feel bad about lying, and cheated that there aren’t that many equally delicious dessert offerings for us vegans. HOWEVER, with the advent of Sugar Beat Sweets and its amazing cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more, I no longer have to lie! About vegan baked goods! I will continue to lie about everything else! The sweet, sweet baked goods from SBS are RIDICULOUS. My birthday cake this year came from SBS, and even my father—who prefers his food made with pig’s blood and baby tears—was blown away. He actually thought I was cheating at being vegan (that’s my favorite, like it’s some fad diet that I get to be “bad” about on the weekends or some shit. GOD I REALLY HATE THAT) and had ordered a non-vegan cake. I think he was more proud than the day I graduated college. When I told him it was vegan, he was visibly disappointed and drowned his sorrows in two more slices. I actually think that cake had some special powers because since then my dad has been less weird about my veganism (pronounced “vay-gun-ism”) and more weird about the fact that my life is going nowhere and I’m dead broke and will wind up dead in a gutter, half-eaten by wolves. Also, that would kinda rule because it would mean that San Francisco would be overrun by wolves and they are my people. I’m pretty sure we would be good friends before they ate me.
PLEASE TO NOTE: Sugar Beat Sweets doesn’t have a storefront (YET! BUY LOTS OF BAKED GOODS SO THAT I CAN CLIMB INSIDE THE PASTRY CASES!) so you have to custom-order through the website.