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?
Social Kitchen and Brewery in the Inner Sunset has tasty vegan options! »
Social Kitchen and Brewery serves beer and has vegan options—that’s all you really need to know, right? It’s located in the Inner Sunset, which means even when it’s busy, it’s not like trying to find a seat in a Mission bar, feel me? I love this place ‘cause it’s close to my ‘hood, they always respond to my tweets, and there’s specialty crafted beer.
Vegan chili! So flavorful—I was very impressed!
Roasted Brussels sprouts chips! I loved these babies!
French fries! Standard bar food, but look: They come in little metal pails and are seasoned to perfection!
Let’s not forget the beer!
I always order IPA because it tastes the best. Featured is Social’s Easy IPA—delicious!
Social Kitchen and Brewery is located at 1326 Ninth Ave., in the Inner Sunset. Let’s go, I’m free on Saturday night!
The 3rd LA Vegan Beer & Food Festival is happening this spring, and it’s going to be the biggest and best one yet. The fest has been moved across the street from The Roxy so we can fit in more beer and food than ever before.
More details coming soon! For now, save the date: May 12, 2012!
Proceeds to benefit California Wildlife Center
LOS ANGELES GETS ALL THE GOOD STUFF. Seriously have you seen our L.A. archive? Nothing but awesome! Someone in L.A. offer us jobs so we can move Vegansaurus HQ south and eat ourselves to death. PLEASE.
Guest post: Great Sage’s vegan beer-pairing dinner exceeded expectations! »
I am embarrassed to admit that I showed up about 40 minutes late to Great Sage’s beer-pairing dinner last week, and they still so generously served me all five courses of the meal, and even poured me a little extra brew to make up for my date abandoning me, even more embarrassingly. Good thing I am an emotional eater, and we all know a little alcohol solves everything.
Here is what you missed:
Tasting 1: Organic Lager, Grilled Romaine, roasted pepper, hearts of palm, chili crackers and rosemary-black truffle vinaigrette.
The grilling made this salad—the smell, the taste, the appearance. All of the textures together were spot on, and I cannot even get over those chili crackers, just like vegan Cheez-Its! The lager was light and clean, the perfect match for this light and clean salad.
Tasting 2: Tadcaster Ale, Quinoa and lemon-herb “tabouli” with red bell pepper and parsley garlic emulsion.
I was honestly full after the salad, but I managed to forge on through the second course. The tabouli and Tadcaster were the perfect combination of sweet and bitter. The lemon and bell pepper was zesty and light while the ale balanced it with a smooth, thick sweetness. The Tadcaster was my favorite beer of the four, as it was thicker than the lager, but not too heavy to easily down two (or three, or 10).
Tasting 3: Indian Pale Ale, Crimson lentil stew
with coconut and tomato over Indian curry fire rice.I keep referring to this dish as a risotto, because that is what the texture reminded me of. When the waiter sat it down on the table, the smell of coconut wafted from the bowl; when I dug my spoon in, it smelled instantly of sweet curry. Everything about this dish made me feel so comfortable and relaxed.
While I know many people seem to have a distaste for both curry and IPAs, I found this combination to be phenomenal. The stew was sweeter than spicy, and the beer was less hoppy than other IPAs I’ve had.
Tasting 4: Italian Oatmeal Stout, Crisp seitan-“feta”-spinach phyllo tart with garlic whipped Yukon potatoes and stout glaze.
The phyllo tart was incredible; it melted like (vegan) butter in my mouth. The filling had a strong black pepper taste that mellowed out with the addition of the sweet stout glaze. Not to mention, I freaking love Brussels sprouts!
The stout really surprised me. I usually hate stout beers because I think they taste like flat soda—sweet, but lacking that necessary carbonation. However, this stout was not missing that added element to me; it was just naturally smooth.
Dessert: Pumpkin cheesecake with pomegranate syrup
I want to describe this to you but I can only think of an incoherent synonyms for “epic deliciousness”—silky, pumpkin, chocolate (yeah, I think the crust was chocolate!), sweet, sour, crunchy, candy, creamy, yum.
The food was phenomenal, the beer was phenomenal and the combinations were perfect. The best part is that all the beers from the Samuel Smith Brewery, like all of the food at Great Sage, are 100 percent vegan!
Shay Kemble is an aspiring lifestyle writer in Washington, D.C. She believes she can bring humor to any situation and will do so on her upcoming blog.
Patxi’s pizza with wine and beer: a love story »
On Aug. 31, I participated in a Patxi’s pizza, beer, and wine pairing. Let me tell you, I love pizza and beer! I love pizza and wine! I especially love those things for free.
The whole event was what I imagined being on an episode of Check, Please! must feel like—as in, the intense conversations about food and beverages at restaurants. When I was broke, lonely and up too late, living in Chicago, I watched that show all the time. Then, the first time I went to Patxi’s, what do they happen to be filming? Check, Please! Bay Area! You can see my cameo on my favorite show here, at the 1:21 mark. Yes, I am stuffing my face—but with a fork! I don’t know what possessed me to pick up a fork to eat pizza; that never happens, even if it is the instant mess known as Chicago-style. On that fateful night in July, I had a Daiya cheese, spinach, and mushroom-stuffed pizza with Sierra Nevadas. Fullness and contentment to the max!
The second time I went to Patxi’s, it was to take part in these pairings. Also in attendance were Raj Irukulla and Meredith Arthur of Chow, Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy, Personal Sommelier Courtney Chochran and Laiko Bahrs of Patxi’s Pizza and coordinator of the night. I went in all, “I like pizza and beer, yum,” and very quickly felt like a college freshman in a class with seniors. However, I faced my intimidation and ate, drank, even offered some insight (very much to the tune of “pizza, wine, beer, YUM!”).
First vegan pizza! Thin crust with Daiya and tomatoes.
Second vegan pizza! Chicago-style deep dish with Daiya, olives, artichoke hearts, spinach, red bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and red onions.
The wines we drank included zinfandel, cabernet sauvingnon, pinot noir, and sauvignon blanc. The beers included Widmer hefeweizen, Sweetgrass APA, New Dogtown pale ale, and Bud Light.
I concluded that:
- Pinot noir doesn’t go with pizza or me
- Zinfandel and cabernet are so very tasty, but too strong for pizza
- Sauvignon blanc pairs incredibly with spinach salad
- Sweetgrass APA tastes very similar to Sierra Nevada, is therefore delicious and now my new favorite beer. That means it goes with all foods, all occasions
- Hefenweizen and pale ales are not my thing and do not go with anything, ever, not even lemons (Sierra Nevada doesn’t count, as it’s darker than a typical Pale Ale)
And, now, I know you are going to think I’m crazy, but Bud Light goes really well with Chicago-style pizza. The entire table agreed! (We also had sampled all of the libations and eaten a lot at the point that the Bud Light was served). Its lightness compliments the flavors of the pizza and doesn’t weigh one down as much as a fuller-bodied/calorie-dense beer.
I learned that I like light beer with pizza. Plus I can totally pack more pizza in my stomach that way. Although, if someone else is buying, I’ll drink whatever is in front of me and it will be just fine!
Laiko emailed the group’s (vegan-relevant) conclusions:
- Zinfandel was great with the extra-thin-crust pizzas
- Sauvignon blanc was a nice pairing with cheese or Daiya extra-thin-crust pizzas, light on toppings
- Cabernets and pinots competed with the tomato sauce and deep-dish flavors
- Beer paired well with spicier pizza
- Turns out Bud Light is great with deep-dish with lots of toppings
What do you guys think? What are your favorite adult beverages to pair with pizza?
Perfection! Pizza, wine, and a loose crayon. My pizza fell face flat on my plate as it was being served, but I was all “No problem here!”
Vegan nacho cheese: a love story, I mean taste-off »
I was on a mission. A mission to
gorge out elegantly eat every new vegan cheese on the market. For you! My most unselfish venture ever! To let you know, as the vegan consumer, where to spend your hard-earned dollars!
In the ring:
Food for Lovers Vegan Queso
Nacheez (mild and spicy versions)
Here’s what I have to say. If you are looking for a fight, go watch Rocky. Or The Fighter — it’s totally streaming on Netflix right now—‘cause I only have great things to say about both products.
Here’s how the taste-off went down. Sarah M. Smart came over with a bag of chips. I had the cheese. We ate.
Food for Lovers
- Spicy. I have a high tolerance, and didn’t notice until the roomie tried some and cried out “Whoo! That has some kick to it!”)
- Made in small batches by Crystal and Chris Tate in Austin, Texas.
- Every time I eat it, I think I belong in Austin. (SXSW!)
- Would bring it to a Superbowl party. Or somewhere there are sports. I don’t know. It has that taste to it. The only bros I know watch Star Wars, so I’d bring it to a screening of that. Non vegan guys would scarf this down. And not know it’s vegan.
- Has gluten. Sorry, celiac sufferers.
- Has nutritional yeast in it. I’m a vegan who dislikes nutritional yeast. NOT ANYMORE! I love this product! Cheesy, spicy, plus the tomatoes and peppers within taste fresh.
- No need to heat up. Can be eaten at room temperature.
- Comes in spicy and mild flavors! Spicy is good for me, mild is good for a dish like, mac ‘n’ cheese. Or my mom, pepper is too spicy for her.
- Doesn’t have gluten.
- Made by Isla Hess in Sacramento, Calif.
- Every time I eat it, I feel like maybe Sacramento isn’t a such a bad place after all. Maybe as a vegan, I could have a life out there.
- With this product, I imagine my girlfriends coming over, talking about things we do, putting on avocado face masks and making chili cheese tofu dogs without FEELING GUILTY! Cause Nacheez has so few calories with mucho taste! Bikini body, here I come. (Not. I just drank a six pack)
- OK, I love road trips. I miss gas station nachos. Nacheez brings me back.
- Has to be reheated. Not room-temperature friendly. But you own a pot and have a stove top, right?
All in all, both are worth your hard earned dollars. Food for Lovers is definitely a queso in the most delicious form ever, whereas Nacheez fills the void of the nacho cheese you’ve been missing.
Nacheez mac ‘n’ cheese:
What happens when Sarah M. Smart and I drink Trader Joe’s-brand Corona and wine:
Thank you so much Isla Hess, and Crystal and Chris Tate for providing your delicious and amazing products free of charge!
Melissa Vegenista loves LoveLikeBeer: San Diego’s vegan beer scene becoming a real thing »
Our pal Melissa the Vegenista loves her vegan food! And her beer pairings! Just like your Vegansaurus, only she lives in beautiful, sunny, beachy San Diego, while we have to wait until fall for our perfect summery weather.
However, beer goes with basically everything, and there’s nothing more charming than beer pairings with fancy, tasty vegan food. Check out Melissa’s photos from Vegan Beer Night II, including this one of the grilled chiote marinated tofu, Suzie’s Farm Hungarian pepper stuffed with Chino corn risotto, Crow’s Pass Farm potatoes, and chimichurri Sauce:
She calls it “one of the most beautifully presented dishes I’ve ever seen…. [I]t was certainly as delicious to the palate as it was stunning to the eyes!” it does look amazing!
For a full review with loads more photos and information, check out Vegenista. GodDAMN I want an automatic coffee coconut wheat beer, like really a lot.
Way to go, San Diego! And thanks, Melissa, for the update!
[all photos by Melissa via Vegenista]
Vegan Fourth of July! »
Did any of you take pics of your feast? I did! Being vegan during the holidays is so much fun! Actually every day (eating is great)—but during holidays with my family I can rest assured they will help me stock up on vegan food at Whole Foods so I have things to eat/don’t feel left out. I’m so lucky! Thanks, fam!
Potato salad (yay Veganaise!), citrus spare rib cutlets, fruit salad, corn on the cob (yay Earth Balance!), Great White, and a green salad. What did you have? Send us pics!