vegansaurus!

07/24/2013

Bring Vegan Ice Cream in Oakland: Curbside!  »

There are few things as implicitly good as an ice cream cone on a warm summer’s day. It’s one of those restore-your-faith-in-humanity kind of joys. I was lucky enough to sample some vegan offerings from a budding Oakland ice cream business, Curbside Creamery. Curbside is still working on funding to build up their brick and mortar storefront (conveniently located in the Temescal Alley, so hip, so posh), but my friend Riley and I were invited to sample some cones and talk with the owner and proprietor, Victoria “Tori” Wentworth.

 While Curbside will have both dairy and vegan options, Tori was inspired to open up her business after visiting the all-vegan powerhouse of deliciousness, Lula’s Sweet Apothecary in New York. Having a delectable vegan option was a high priority to Tori, based both upon her own politics and the dietary preferences of some close friends. “In my personal life, I’ve been vegetarian since 2006, due mostly to a heightened awareness of where meat comes from (or rather what it goes through) these days. Many of my friends over the years have been vegan, so the realities of that diet have always been part of my life in a big way. That’s why I was aware of the real lack of good vegan options… We all know that buying ice cream in a pint from the store is NOT an equal experience to going to a shop with your friends and getting a fresh scoop on a cone.”

While Curbside’s exact process is a trade secret, Tori worked very hard to ensure a good vegan product, toiling with the cashew-base base of the ice cream until she got it just right. Whatever she’s doing with the cashews, it works. We sampled the Valrhona Chocolate and the Chai Tea. Both were a perfect balance of sweet and creamy, and were a delight to eat out of Curbsides mobile tricycle stand. In the future, Tori will cycle through flavors so every concoction will ultimately have a dairy and a vegan version. Curbside also takes cross-contamination very seriously, and has designated scoops and cleaning tubs. This is both for vegans wanting to avoid animal residue and people who come in with nut allergies.

For updates on Curbside visit their website. If you are dedicated to the principal of helping to open a great vegan-friendly ice cream shop right in Temescal, consider donating to their Kickstarter.

Courtney Flynn lives in Oakland and spends way too much time inventing vegan recipes, reading science fiction and crocheting hats for her dog Blender. She sometimes remembers to update her blog, where she likes to write about food, restaurants and products that don’t suck.

12/19/2012

Guest Post: Timeless Coffee is Oakland’s newest, all-vegan coffee shop!  »

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Carrot cake and cappuccino, so effing delicious

Timeless Coffee, the brand-spankin’-new coffee shop on Piedmont Avenue, is a perfect blend of quality coffee, delicious food and excellent service. It’s hard to expand past a general review of “Yaaaaaaay!” but I’ll do my best. The airy coffee shop has counters full of house-baked pastries and candies and boasts a delightful variety of different coffee roasts, available as a pour-over or quick Fetco-brewed option. My first sip of the Sightglass pour-over called to mind every Dale Cooper quote on the “damn fine” quality of a superb cup of coffee. I drank it black as midnight, and boy was I happy.

As a coffee-loving, Oakland-based vegan, I hadn’t realized what I was missing until I walked into Timeless. Up until this point in my veganism I’d accepted that if I wanted good coffee, the only accompaniments available to me were bagels, Pepple’s donuts, or an elusive Fat Bottom Bakery cookie or scone. No longer. There is something so wonderful about a wide variety of delicious vegan treats right alongside your cup of joe. Violett at Timeless makes a killer selection of biscotti, Hostess-inspired baked goods, cookies, muffins, chocolates, and weekend cinnamon rolls. Having tried the house-made “Twinkie”, the Chocodile, and the carrot cake, I can guarantee that even the mightiest sweet tooth will be satiated. Pre-wrapped to-go items are also available. It took every bit of self-restraint to not stock up my cupboards with peanut butter cups and almond biscotti.

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The “Chocodile.” Holy diabetes, this thing was good

Timeless is 100 percent vegan, right down to the barista-quality almond and soy milk used for espresso drinks. But if you show up and don’t see anything listed as “vegan,” don’t fret, it was a purposeful decision to keep the v-word off of the menu. By not branding themselves as a vegan café, Timeless is able to appeal to all walks of life. In regards to opening up the shop in his own neighborhood, RJ said, “I’ve always thought that Piedmont Avenue lacked in the vegan department. … Living here for eight years, it’s very limited, but I love this neighborhood so much. I knew the neighborhood would be open to it.”

His assessment seems to be correct, as he says the vast majority of patrons have been delighted about the vegan menu, even if they didn’t realize their peppermint fudge brownie and espresso combo was cruelty-free until after the fact. “People have been really excited that they’ve had it, and found out later. Their minds kinda changed. That was Violett’s and my approach to it, that it’d be a positive thing.”

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A little on the pricier side, but you definitely get what you pay for

Despite only having opened on Dec. 10, Timeless was bustling with patrons when I went this week. Several people already knew RJ by name and seemed to have established Timeless as their regular spot. RJ, along with part-owners Violett and Sam, hopes to expand the menu soon, offering savory accompaniments like bacon-cheddar scones. Ultimately, they’d like to offer a weekend brunch and bi-weekly late dinner service with a fixed menu. RJ, a veteran roaster who helped establish Sightglass, even wants to start roasting beans in-house. This unobtrusive and beautiful coffee shop has already hit all the right notes with me and I’m excited to see what new creations they unveil in the coming months.

Timeless Coffee is located at 4252 Piedmont Ave. in Oakland.

Courtney Flynn lives in Oakland and spends way too much time inventing vegan recipes, reading science fiction, and crocheting hats for her dog, Blender. She sometimes remembers to update her blog, where she likes to write about food, restaurants and products that don’t suck.

02/23/2011

Guest review: Sacred Wheel in Oakland! VEGAN GRILLED CHEESE, Y’ALL  »

Even though I’d heard that Sacred Wheel offered vegan grilled cheese on Sundays, I was a little nervous about seeking out vegan food in a gourmet cheese shop. I had already imagined the eye-rolling response when I sheepishly asked about a vegan option and the ultimate disappointment it was sure to be.

Holy Sheese on a cracker, being wrong never tasted so good.

Not only did the friendly employees at Sacred Wheel not bat an eye when I asked about vegan options, they proceeded to make me the yummiest panini-style grilled Sheese sandwich ever! The shop’s grilled cheese of the day was a mozzarella-style dairy-free cheese with sundried tomato pesto. My beau and I arrived near closing and even though they’d long since sold out of the daily special, they offered us a regular cheddar-style grilled cheese. They had two vegan soups of the day to go along with their “Sunday Vegan Sunday” theme, a tofu tabouli that was amazingly filling and a TBR (tomato soup with PBR!) that was peppery and perfect for sandwich-dipping. We got a cup of soup and a giant sandwich each, which came out to about $20 all together. I happily ate the whole thing while dancing in my chair and humming “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”


The shop is adorable, very well laid-out, and seemingly able to accommodate a lunch rush with a giant picnic table, window/counter seating, and some little tables out front. We were lucky enough to get to chat with the owner, Jena, who was awesome. For being a store that specializes in gourmet cheese, Sacred Wheel has an impressive vegan selection. In addition to a few different kinds of Sheese, Sacred Wheel carries local tofu products made by Oakland’s Hodo Soy. There’s also a whole case of imported oils and a huge assortment of jams, jellies, and mustards.

Jena said she’d ultimately like to offer a vegan option every day, which means we should probably go in every Sunday to remind her that vegans in Oakland are desperate for more lunch options in Temescal. Because if I have to eat another slice of Lanesplitter pizza before it’s too early in the day to justifiably have a beer, I’m going to scream. (And then order a beer.)

Sacred Wheel is located at 4935 Shattuck Ave. in Oakland, Sunday through Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Courtney Flynn lives in Oakland and spends way too much time inventing vegan recipes, reading science fiction and crocheting hats for her dog Blender. She sometimes remembers to update her blog where she likes to write about food, restaurants and products that don’t suck. This is her second review for us. Thanks, Courtney!

02/22/2011

Guest review: Homeroom in Oakland!  »

After hiding inside for hours, the boyf and I decided that we couldn’t think of anything more appropriate for a gray and shitty day like today than a hot bowl of mac ‘n cheese. So we used it as an excuse to try out the brand spankin’ new Homeroom mac ‘n cheese restaurant in North Oakland.

We first noticed a line down the block. While debating whether we should try it out after the opening weekend crowd, an adorable old lady came out and told us to go in and make sure to try the vegan plate. “It’s actually delicious!” Actually nothing lady, now I’m getting into that damn restaurant come hell or high gutter water. We perused the menu in the forty minutes we waited for a table and noticed that Homeroom offers a wine and micro-brew suggested pairing for every type of mac n’ cheese, which I think is awesome (In case you were wondering, Rasputin Imperial Stout is evidently best for vegan mac.)

We finally got a table and everyone at our table ordered the homemade root beer, which ended up tasting way more like cream soda, or maybe a melted Coca-Cola Icee. After waiting quite some time for our server and then even more time for our food, we were getting a little cranky. A few 127 Hours jokes later, the food showed up and we barely let the bowls of steaming mac n’cheese touch the table before we started digging in like a rusty pocket knife into a femur.

Boyf and I both got the one vegan option, while our dining companions opted for the Trailer Mac (hot dogs, mac, and chips, eww) and the Egg and Bacon Mac (super-eww). Ours definitely looked the best, with thick nooch-based sauce (heavy on the salt and dijon) topped with chopped walnuts in lieu of bread crumbs. I had no complaints about the food. It was creamy, salty and nutty, just like a vegan mac should be and the portion size was more than enough for me. However, the entire experience really went downhill when we got our check. For four root beers and four plates of mac, the total ended up almost $60 after tip. This seemed pretty steep for a food that I can make with both my eyes closed and one hand firmly gripped around a bottle of Jameson. Homeroom does offer a frequent dining card, but you have to eat 10 bowls of mac before you’ve earned a free one.

This probably means that I’m going to treat this Homeroom like I’ve treated all my other homerooms” I’m glad I showed up for the first day, but I probably won’t be back very often.

Courtney Flynn lives in Oakland and spends way too much time inventing vegan recipes, reading science fiction and crocheting hats for her dog Blender. She sometimes remembers to update her blog where she likes to write about food, restaurants and products that don’t suck.

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