Vegan meats galore: Veggie Brothers review! »
Veggie Brothers is a mail-order restaurant that I had always wanted to try (I especially like anything mail-order: Restaurants! Wine! Brides!) but had never had the time to wait for the food nor the money to fulfill their $60-plus-shipping minimum order (because despite what you may be led to believe by television, graduate students are neither rich nor glamorous). That’s why I about had an aneurysm when Veggie Brothers reached out to Vegansaurus and asked us to review the gourmet offerings on their site. I was also excited because Veggie Brothers reposted something I wrote about Lady Gaga’s meat dress on Facebook a couple months ago, and I’m a sucker for the approval that I never received from my parents.
I tried to rope my mother into doing this with me because she will not eat anything unless it is covered in meat and then fried in meat and cheese because “is healthy, Mark! Russians very healthy! You be anemic soon and you die and you feel bad because Mommy warn you!” Unfortunately, my mother was away on another one of her cruises (she goes on at least three a year) so I had to resign myself to forcing Allen to eat with me while we watched Oprah (Allen’s unreasonable demand) by romantic candlelight.
Our first adventure began when it was time to receive the food. One of the downsides to the mail-order restaurant model is that you have to be home in order to receive the food, which is sent packed in dry ice in a special cooler. This may be a problem if you are terrible at planning/don’t have a place for UPS to leave the package/aren’t at home very much. We had to play tag with UPS which actually included me running after a truck and insisting there was a package for me. Unfortunately, there was not. The package was in another truck that I did not have to chase down! As soon as we got the package inside the house, Allen and I immediately proceeded to have the best time pretending we were Dr. Frankenstein while unpacking the food and putting it in our freezer. If shipping is a downside, then the way that these products are shipped are a major plus for me! Dry ice in a styrofoam cooler? Food in reusable plastic bags? I’m there!
Let me be honest with you: I was not expecting much. The directions on each of the bags (and we had six) was to plop the individual entrees (still in their packaging) into boiling water or to microwave them for a few minutes. I’ve had frozen dinners before. They may look good on the box, but once you’ve heated them, they’re just not that great. If you know what I’m talking about, you understand why I was expecting to be disappointed. However, Allen and I bravely soldiered on, putting the food onto decorative plates (I cannot believe we own such a thing) and discussing its merit as we watched Oprah interview someone who had overcome one life-threatening condition or another.
What follows is a detailed review of exactly what Allen and I ate and how we felt about it. We tried to order the most exotic/hard-to-make dishes we could, our assumption being that if the harder dishes were good, then the simple ones must be fantastic. I do not know if this is a fair assumption, but it got me to try vegan Mahi-Mahi, which for me is good enough.
Loving Hut in Inner Sunset to open THIS SATURDAY! »
Hey guys! We reported on it going in and now we have word that it’s opening on Saturday, Dec. 18! As in, TOMORROW! Er, or it might be Sunday. EITHER WAY, it’s this weekend.
Who’s going?? Drumsticks for all!
That’s Ching Hai, calling in an order of drumsticks to go for me.
[thanks for the heads-up, Hugh!]
NEW SF VEGAN RESTAURANT ALERT! San Francisco’s third Loving Hut is going in on at 524 Irving St. (at 6th Avenue) in the Inner Sunset. The location used to house Minh Tri, a Vietnamese joint that we’re told was “grody.” Whether you love Ching Hai or hate that crazy, crazy biznatch, more vegan dining is pretty cool. Plus, awesome spring rolls.
We’ll update you as soon as we get word on actual opening date, which involves one of you emailing us that info. Real Journalism.
Berkeley! Do it up at tomorrow’s FREE ThanksLIVING event! »
If you’re in Berkeley tomorrow, Tuesday Nov. 16 and wants some FREE VEGAN FOOD, look no further than Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy’s Thanksliving event! These kids have Got It Going On food-wise, with great companies like Gardein and Field Roast donating, so you know shiz is gonna be DELICIOUS.
The celebration takes place tomorrow at UC Berkeley’s Upper Sproul from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., but I bet to take full advantage of the free eats, you should probably get there on the earlier side? I know how people (read: me) get around free food, and the words “disgusting” and “insane” come to mind. Organizer Monica Chen says that it’s a particularly great event for omnis because they can try all sorts of amazing vegan options and see that a veg Thanksgiving isn’t just possible, it’s extra delicious! So, bring your grumpalump meat-mouth friends and family and show them the tasty-ass light!
[photo by Jared Zimmerman]
Canadian Gardein expands your U.S. Thanksgiving options! »
It’s Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y, hooray! It won’t put an end to Tofurky jokes—nothing will ever, ever put an end to Tofurky jokes—but it might entice your family to try something less murderous than actual turkey. These little fellows come in two-packs plus gravy in the freezer section; the actual “Turk’y” is “breaded with toasted crumbs and is stuffed with celery, onions, cranberries, and bread crumbs,” and like all Gardein products, is high-protein, low-calorie, and vegan.
Gardein says they’re just coming into stores now, so if you’re interested, you may begin the hunt. Maybe try a package now, and if you like them buy another to take with, should you find yourself in a veg-unfriendly location this Thanksgiving. Or not; I don’t care what you eat as long as it’s vegan. Gardein hasn’t given us anything but that image of the product package.
Apparently Gardein loves Thanksgiving, because the company has collaborated with chef Tal Ronnen to create a gorgeous vegan Thanksgiving menu to accompany the Savory Stuffed Turk’y. Chef Tal’s recipes look wonderful, and your Vegansaurus will be posting one a day beginning tomorrow until we’ve posted them all! This Thanksgiving, seize the kitchen in a bloodless* coup and produce the best cruelty-free dinner your family and friends have ever tasted (at home).
Product review: Gardein Crispy Tenders! »
We’ve reviewed the buffalo wings and the Sicilian trio, but my heart is with the Gardein crispy tenders. They are no joke! I used the toaster oven method of cooking, and cooked them like twice as long as suggested. They are my jam. And for our recently vocal health enthusiasts, you’ll be happy to hear that a serving has 1.5 grams of fat (zero saturated fat) and 9 grams of protein. Damn, that’s a lotta protein, my pals! One serving is only two nuggets and I usually eat four nuggets at a time, but that’s still not much fat and even more protein.
I like to eat them with a nice half-barbecue sauce, half-ketchup mix because I’m a culinary genius. Try it! Then tell me I’m not the man! You can’t! Because I’m the man.
UPDATE: Did you know that Gardein is currently testing AMERICAN SIZED bags of crispy tenders at a few Costco’s to see if they sell well? It’s true! We hope this pans out because then soccer moms can fill their kids with a less crappy version of the food they love. Next, can they work on creating a vegan version of those huge-ass bags of taquitos? Because a few of us remember those fondly from our youth/blame our childhood obesity directly on them. Bring it!
Saturn Cafe! »
Berkeley is no longer just a blight on the urban map of the Bay Area. For so long it was just a place for terrible students and terrible rich hippies (the worst kind of hippie!) and was only to be suffered if you really had to have delicious vegan brunch at Fellini. Well, it’s still all those things! But now it has taquitos! And cinnamon rolls! And Saturn Cafe!
Saturn Cafe is an import from Santa Cruz and it’s an important one. First of all, in a city that goes to bed at 6 p.m., it stays open to the unbelievably late hour of midnight. Kudos to them for making that happen because I can’t imagine the amount of city bullshit that they’d have to deal with to make that happen. Bureaucracy win! Secondly, it’s all vegetarian and that’s fucking awesome. It’s always nice to know that your tofu scramble won’t get cross-contaminated with bacon surprise (surprise! your breakfast had a mother!). And then there’s the decor? Saturn bills itself as a “Space-Age Diner” to which I say, “Space-Age?! More like GAY-AGE!” This place makes Pink Saturday look like a klan rally. Seriously, I brushed against a glitter-covered column and I swear, I’m still finding silver sparkles in my crap. All in all, LOVE. More glitter! Glitter for ALL! Life is a rave, pass the glow-in-the-dark Mickey Mouse gloves and let’s do the damn thing!
So already, Saturn Cafe has my heart. BUT THEN, my mind kicks in! That pesky thing that keeps me from being happy. Seriously, stupid people have it the best. And my mind tells me WAIT A MINUTE WTF IS THIS??? For a vegetarian restaurant, it’s sure slim pickings for the vegans. There are several areas in which they fail. I will now detail them because that’s how I do CONTROVERSY WHAT!
- No vegan cheese options. If you order something that regularly has cheese on it, the vegan version comes with this insane tofu spread that’s basically mashed up tofu with some chives mixed in. This grainy mixture is their stand-in for both cheese and sour cream. It’s very odd…not altogether bad, just odd. And when you consider the leaps and bounds vegan cheese products have taken in even the past few years, maybe the folks at Saturn just need to get on testing vegan cheeses. Might we suggest Daiya, Teese and Cheezly? We might!
- The veg chicken patties they use aren’t vegan. Dude, there’s GARDEIN. No excuse!
- Stuff like pancakes aren’t vegan. I don’t get it; pancakes are like the easiest thing to veganize. Let’s do this! Also, while you’re at it, please veganize the biscuits and gravy! There isn’t ONE place in the entire San Francisco Bay Area that serves this and I’m telling you, that alone will make Saturn famous. With my pants. And what is underneath my pants. That’s right, my vagina. I could go further but children read this blog! Also, if you are a child PLEASE STOP READING AND CALL CPS, your parents should be held responsible!
- Two options for vegan ice cream! You’re in the land of Maggie Mudd now, broker a deal with those fools! Let’s see some PB&J! And Apple Pie! I will pay for it, in both money and hella points for gluttony! This is kind of a throw-on request because I like to shoot for the moon. It’s really nice that they offer vegan milkshakes and I don’t want to push my luck.
All in all, Saturn Cafe, I love you. But please come through for the vegans! We count on our brothers in arms (or, in arms-ish. oh and that’s you, vegetarians! hi!) to have our backs in this big bad world of restaurant dining. If you could pull through for us on the front of vegan options, we will repay you in a never ending supply of our cold, hard vegan cash. And we’re by and large very rich*—how else would we shop at Rainbow all the time!? Shit.
OH ALSO: Maybe if they receive lots of very polite email from vegans letting them know there’s a desire for more vegan options, we’ll see some action! Maybe not! But, as always, it’s worth a try! Go forth, mighty (and polite!) vegans! Go forth, and spread our mighty (and polite!) message!
Review: Gardein Trios! »
Hello, on-the-go, modern-living human! You desire sustenance, but have only a brief amount of time in which to prepare and devour it! What is the solution to your problem?
WELL. One of those solutions is a Gardein Trio, a new product in the Gardein vegan-meat line that includes vegetables and rice, and is microwavable in three minutes. Here is the one I tried, the Sicilian Trio. I chose this one, because it was the one that was in the Safeway. It cost $4.99,* no tax.
That’s the “chick’n” at top left, the sauce at bottom left, and the rice on the right.
So to eat this meal, which is located in the refrigerated section of your grocery store’s vegetarian-foods nook, you can either microwave it—which will be, busy person who is probably at work and may even be forced to eat this meal at your desk (which incidentally you shouldn’t, I mean at least take 20 minutes for a walk around the neighborhood), probably your only option—or boil it. Being perverse, I chose the boiling method (I don’t like microwaving plastic), but I assume the results didn’t differ much.
The rice had a surprisingly good texture; never having eaten boil-in-a-bag rice before, I was expecting “awful,” but it was “pretty good,” so that was nice. The tomato sauce was bland, though sufficient to cover both chick’n and rice. You know how that goes: I may not like it, but by god I better get my fill of it. I feel like I should be embarrassed about that, but, nope. The chick’n was standard Gardein stuff; a bit chewy, but very reminiscent of actual chicken, as I recall. The vegetable stuffing is the best part, absolutely, flavorful and even a touch spicy. Not really spicy, but there is a hint of spice, maybe a single flake of red pepper’s amount. It’s pretty all right.
An omnivore to whom I offered a couple bites said that while the sauce was disappointingly flavorless, the texture of the chick’n was all right, and she would probably eat it again, considering its nutritional value. Considering how carefully she reads labels, that is praise.
As I am not a busy, on-the-go-type person, I have no real need for a quick-prep ready-meal. If I were, I’d consider a Gardein Trio, once in a while. They certainly are convenient, and cost less than a meal out in your standard business district. I’m not going to tell you what to do, obviously. When I worked at an office, I brought leftovers and ate basically the entire day, because of boredom and being kind of disgusting. But if you like a complete, hot meal that you didn’t cook earlier in the week, consider the Gardein Trio. Shoot, consider it for dinner, too; or breakfast. It’s vegan.
*[FTC disclosure: Gardein sent me a coupon for a free Gardein Trio]
BBQ Seitan is back at Benders and it’s apparently better than ever. AND OMG TATER TOTS YES. They’re serving it up Tuesday through Saturday nights, so get on it!
As previously reported, a Loving Hut is coming to Union Square. Lo and behold, that fucker is in Westfield Mall. One shopping spree at H&M followed by vegan feast at delicious cult restaurant, coming up!
[Thanks for the pic, Tessa!]