vegansaurus!

02/18/2014

San Francisco eats: Holy Gelato in the Inner Sunset!   »

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Until about two weeks ago, I had been a four-year resident of the Haight Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco and I have to say, one of my fave features of that district is its proximity to the Inner Sunset! 9th and Irving has a plethora of vegan-friendly haunts, without the intense hustle and bustle of, let’s say, anywhere else in the city. Quite frankly, I’m shocked we here at Vegansaurus have never covered the corner of 9th and Judah’s delicious little treasure, Holy Gelato! They have so many soy and coconut milk-based gelatos. Plus, every time I’ve been there (twice), all in a tizzy because I couldn’t figure out which flavor to get, I was given free samples without even having to ask! I hate asking! Every single flavor I tried was scrumptious, but me being me, I had to go with the flavor laced with whiskey. YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT, THEY OFFER GELATO WITH WHISKEY! 

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The array of vegan flavors! Can you even believe your eyes?

As if you needed anymore convincing to get yourself out to the Inner Sunset for a vegan ice cream party, let me just throw out a few ideas. We’ll plan a night of it! The Inner Sunset boasts such restaurants as Social Kitchen and Brewery (Brussels sprouts chips! Chili! Beer!), Loving Hut (Everything on the menu!) and Patxi’s pizza (Vegan Chicago-style deep-dish pizza!). Feeling a little bit more romantic? Inner Fog is a cute little wine bar with dim lighting and a couple of vegan small bites available (think fancy hummus and fancy salad). There are also plenty of Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean and Indian joints about; seriously the Inner Sunset is a vegan dream! 

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Irish Morning gelato, with a coconut-milk base, fudge, coffee, cookies and whiskey! Shout-out to Caroline for asking me out for ice cream in the first place, and therefore introducing me to Holy Gelato! 

Exterior photo of Holy Gelato via notjustgranola.ca

05/17/2011

Restaurant review: Nick’s Tacos at Underdog, plus your weekend plans!  »

Underdog is a sports bar that serves Nick’s Tacos, located in an area of San Francisco I like to refer to as the Mid Sunset. Not quite Outer, not quite Inner. Technically, what is 19th and Irving? I have no clue.

Nick believes in slow food, fast, which I guess I love. I don’t respect the Slow Food movement so much, as it tends to be super meat-heavy/hypocritical. Unless we are talking about cooking dinner in my apartment! My old roommate Vanessa said I am a great cook, but she can’t wait two hours to eat. What?! I like the flavors to meld—and I cook on low so I can check Facebook every two seconds.

I went to Underdog’s on a whim last year with two friends, as one of them knew the bartender and we NEEDED to make it for beer-and-taco happy hour. Taco happy hour, by the way, is only for ‘street-style’ meat tacos, but Nick’s is so inexpensive, you won’t stay too mad about that. Perhaps they will make the street tacos sans meat, I’ve never asked.

Drinking and tacos are two of my FAVORITE THINGS! I could tell I was gonna like the food as soon as our chips and salsa came. SO COLORFUL AND FRESH! I mean, really? In a bar? I was not expecting this.

That first time, I ordered the vegetarian tacos, which come Nick’s Way in a crispy corn tortilla wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. YES AND YES.

The second time I visited UnderNick’s, I had the taco salad. SO AMAZING. The best part is that it is a vegan entree, so I didn’t have to waste time asking for no cheese or sour cream and then stress out it’s going to come with those condiments anyway. Cilantro-lime vinaigrette? Done. Fresh tomatoes and delicious guacamole? Done. The best part, other than how it tastes, is that it doesn’t come in a heavy, fried tortilla shell, the part of the salad I always try to abstain from and then demolish in 30 seconds flat. Instead they decoratively top the salad with tortilla curls!

The first time I went to Underdog’s, my friend informed me of second Underdog up the street (different place of business completely). So after gorging on chips, salsa and tacos, I found room in my stomach for a vegan sausage dog with sauerkraut. And then went home and made seitan (while checking Facebook constantly).

Here’s your itinerary for this weekend (whenever your weekend is. Mine is Mondays and Tuesdays, holla!). Go to Ocean Beach, try to stay warm and work up an nice appetite/beer buzz on the sand, and as you are heading back to the city stop at Nick’s. Scarf down your food so that before your stomach can register it’s full, you can demolish a vegan sausage dog down the street. Sounds like a perfect day to me!

Underdog Sports Bar and Grill is located at 1824 Irving between 19th and 20th Avenues in the Sunset. It can get pretty bro-y on game days, so I’d avoid it at all costs then. Here’s the menu [.pdf]. [Ed.: I’ve heard that on Fridays during happy hour, they have $1 margaritas. Girrrrrrrl…]

04/22/2011

Vegansaurus Diet: Tamara Palmer!  »

We welcome food writer extraordinaire Tamara Palmer who approached me about doing a Vegansaurus Diet (inspired by Grubstreet’s New York Diet, of course!) and I was beyond stoked. Not only is she one of my favorite food writers, she’s also just a totally rad lady. Oh, she also writes about Too $hort on the regular, so she’s basically living my dream life.

Anyway, I’m thrilled with her addition to our archives, and hope to fill it with more non-vegan food writers, or even writers and bloggers who don’t write about food! Interested? Let me know! Oh plus, if you’re a reader who wants to do one even if you’re already vegan (yay you!), email me with yours! It’s fun! And informative! Yay vegan eating! Now, please enjoy Teemoney’s Week of Living Veganly because this girl eats WELL; I just discovered about 15 new foods I MUST try! Enjoy!

As a freelancer who has written close to 2,000 stories about food just over the past three years, I have chosen to be an editorial omnivore, eating broadly with far more adventure and curiosity than I ever had up until that point. And while my eating habits at home still tend toward the vegetarian, the cumulative toll of many months of decidedly not-vegetarian dinners and food battles was getting increasingly harder to ignore.

It took me more than a month of longing to try the Vegansaurus Diet before I actually did it; one reasonable excuse I’d like to offer was that I had many assignments I did not want to forgo for the experiment. Truthfully, though, a smaller reason is that I also wanted to get my fill of some of my favorite foods first. I realized quickly that those all fell in the dairy category.

I’ve never been a vegan, but I have been a vegetarian, so I thought that would help make it a lot easier. I was wrong! I wouldn’t come to truly appreciate the vast difference between being vegan and being vegetarian until late in the week. My cravings for meat were minimal and pretty much limited to when a few particularly stellar temptations were directly under my nose. But I’d learn mid-week how much my brain thinks it desperately needs dairy; definitely something to address. [Ed.: Casein is no joke! That shit is addictive!]

As I shopped for rations at Rainbow Grocery and Other Avenues, it was nice to be reminded that many of my favorite snacks are vegan. I also had the good fortune to receive a few samples of new and locally made products being carried at Whole Foods’ new Haight Street location in San Francisco and noticed that some of the ones I was most excited about from Love & Hummus and Rocket Ship Ice Cream were vegan.

I decided early on that I would be extravagant about this “diet,” surrounded by amazing snacks at all times so I wouldn’t feel deprived or accidentally screw up. I also wasn’t going to try to reduce my typically mammoth sugar intake, wanting to avoid some sort of heroin-like physical withdrawal. I did want to do well and show how delicious it is for an omnivore to go vegan for a week. Being careful was clearly weighing heavily on my mind: I fell asleep on Saturday night and had a dream that I absentmindedly ate all the wrong things.

Sunday, Apr. 10
I woke up with the assistance of an Amazake Tiger Chai rice shake, an occasional purchase when I think I can handle the caffeine (I drink very little). Lunch was a salad of pea shoots and microgreens topped with Ginger People pickled ginger, carrots, pineapple mint from my back stairs, and crumbled five-spice tofu nuggets from Oakland’s Hodo Soy Beanery. I’m not into tofu at all in general, but after I visited Hodo Soy’s factory to shoot this tour, I learned that I really like the company’s artisan products. I think these nuggets would be good in a morning stir-fry with some peppers, onions, and potatoes. I got some needed crunch with my salad via a handful of Edward & Sons’ rice toasts, the Thai red rice and flax variety. For dessert, I broke off four squares of Mast Brothers 70 percent dark chocolate spiked with Serrano peppers, a treat I smuggled back from my last visit to Brooklyn. [Ed.: Megan Rascal loves their stuff, too!]

A few hours later, I snacked on a Pepple’s blueberry donut, a frequent purchase at Other Avenues. I’m still not buying the story that there wasn’t any drama behind the name change of People’s to Pepple’s, but I do love that blueberry glaze.

For dinner, I heated up two slices of wild mushroom Field Roast, tentatively drizzling some Daiya “mozzarella cheese” on one of them, and fried up some slices of sweet potato for a side dish. I had a bad Tofu-Rella trauma back in the day and have turned a blind eye to fake cheeses ever since, but I’ve read on Vegansaurus and elsewhere how much Daiya is beloved, so I gave it a shot. Not bad. The Field Roast on the other hand—not so good.

Melodi Donahue from OCD Sweets in Napa kindly sent me a big box of her vegan agave nectar caramels to sample after I had fallen in love with her “Vegan Rosalia” tangerine rose caramel a couple months ago. Despite its large size, I polished off an Irish ale caramel stuffed with a big sourdough pretzel in just a few minutes.

The Field Roast wasn’t very satisfying, so I ate a Lundberg rice and popcorn cake and drank a mug of So Delicious coconut milk a bit later.

Monday, Apr. 11
Started the morning with a shot of Tonix coconut water kefir, which is like downing kombucha concentrate. It’ll make you shudder and might put hair on your chest, but it also can add pep to the step. I got in the bad Monday habit of blogging and skipping breakfast, but I felt good after the Tonix.

I escaped for a few minutes to run down to Shangri-La Chinese Vegetarian, which is not only vegetarian and largely vegan, but is also Buddhist and Kosher. I knew that their mu shu vegetables and pancakes were vegan, but I asked just to be sure.

“Vegan? Yes. You want egg or no egg?”
“Um, no egg, please.”

These were just as satisfying as I remembered them to be. Shangri-La’s got very convincing styles of mock meat, if you’re into that sort of thing (I’m not, but I do like the vinegar-y, cabbage-y flavor of the “vegetal goose”).

An afternoon snack blended the savory and the sweet: A handful of wild rosemary almonds from Oren’s Kitchen of El Cerrito and half of a tiny bar of Sweetriot 65 percent dark chocolate with cacao nibs.

I made a hearty dinner with Canaan Organic Fair Trade Maftoul, a Palestinian couscous made with sun-dried wheat, roasted Purple Haze carrots and onions, cilantro, and purple kale and chives from the back stairs, with a squeeze of Meyer lemon and a side of one of my favorite snacks, Kettle Chips in Spicy Thai flavor. Canaan donates a portion of proceeds to a San Mateo-based non-profit for Palestinian women called Rebuilding Alliance.

I got some Vegan Booty for dessert. Not the super-fun and sexy kind, but some lovely coconut toffee with dark chocolate and orange peel from OCD Sweets.

Tuesday, Apr. 12
I remembered to eat breakfast, a hunk of carrot spice teacake from Aunt Nettie’s Bakery of Santa Cruz, and even had a midmorning snack: An Oskri sesame bar with date syrup. I met my friend Jeannie Choe, organizer of the SF Food Wars competitions that I judge, for lunch at Gracias Madre. It was our first time there so we were unaware that the portions (like the prices) are large. A tiny glass of horchata was $5, which I thought was crazy until I tasted and loved it. Still expensive. We made up for it by splitting two appetizers (guacamole con tortillas and gorditas, the latter a fried masa and potato cake) and an entrée (enchiladas con mole with mushrooms and cashew “cheese”). Jeannie was suspicious about the “cheese” until remembering that we awarded second place to a vegan macaroni and cheese entry in the first SF Food Wars, the “Battle Royale With Cheese.” [Ed.: Here’s the recipe for the award-winning Fat Bottom Bakery’s vegan mac & cheese!] We both ate until we were full and I took home a huge box of leftovers.

That epic lunch didn’t stop me from having a decently-sized afternoon snack a couple hours later: A Fuji apple, the last two squares of the Sweetriot chocolate bar, and half of a large peanut butter “creamie” sandwich cookie from Sugar Plum Vegan of Sacramento. The filling was almost too rich, and I had to scrape some of it out, but it was a good treat. Dinner: more Madre.

Wednesday, Apr. 13
Today, I felt cranky for the first time. Not for meat but for cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. I skipped breakfast accidentally and later tried to bat down the cravings with leftover mu shu, a rice cake with crunchy peanut butter, and some handfuls of cardamom-infused granola from Nana’s Natural of Sonoma. Didn’t help much. My afternoon snack was a bowl of pita chips with some spicy harissa-flavored hummus from Love & Hummus and some spicy red velvet chocolate almonds from Lillie Belle Farms.

I was angry when I made an accidental slip-up, taking a swig of Prince Neville’s ginger beer without looking at the ingredients. Once I figured out that it has honey, I put it back in the fridge.

I met Vegansaurus’ HBiC Laura Beck for a dinner at Encuentro in Oakland. We had to push two tables together to fit our chickpea socca, red quinoa salad, “cheese” plate, taquitos (pictured), and Reuben sandwich, which is my kind of dinner. I hate raisins but somehow loved the taquitos, which were stuffed with some form of them. I later learned that this meal is her sort of sexy initiation ritual for omnivores, and I really dug it. We didn’t get to the Reuben so we took it home, and I had a late-night date with it.

Thursday, Apr. 14
Double shot of Tonix coconut kefir water for breakfast. Believe it or not, I still had a little bit of Gracias Madre leftovers so I polished them off along a bottle of Bruce Cost pomegranate hibiscus ginger ale. There wasn’t quite enough for a proper meal, so I kept snacking, first on a rice cake with Justin’s chocolate almond butter on top [Ed.: Try it on matzo!], and then by popping some popcorn and dumping a whole container of Suzanne’s Ricemellow Crème on top like a crack addict. I way overdid the proportions and even encased the kernels in ‘mellow in the race to put this in my face, but it’s a good combo that should be experimented with by people more patient than myself.

I drove back to Oakland to photograph the pre-opening party for Berlyn’s Eatery, where there will often be salads and other vegan options on the small menu. That night featured some rich-looking tofu and black bean soup, but the wait was long and I felt cranky again after taking pictures of some of the omnivorous options. I sped back across the bridge and back to Rainbow Grocery to re-up on the vegan snack rations, grabbing a container of Mari’s veggie gyoza and a package of Just Apples dehydrated apples. Don’t ask me why I didn’t just have a live apple. Still craving cheese, I made a late-night snack of tortilla chips, Daiya, and chopped up a quick pico de gallo.

Friday, Apr. 15
I had a video shoot at Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland for The Feast so I got there a little bit early and sat in my car feeling sorry for myself while I ate a few Shakti cashew diamonds with saffron and popped a couple of Yummy Earth hard candies (why on Earth is alfalfa one of the ingredients?).

Chef/proprietor Tanya Holland made us an omnivorous Creole special, the details of which I’ll politely skip, but I will admit that the smells had me wanting to dive into the bowl and swim around. It didn’t help that her busy cooking line meant that my nose would be no more than a foot away from the dish at all times.

Afterwards, I told my video producer Mike Anderson about my diet and how, despite those moments of crankiness and deep cravings, I think I was experiencing a little bit more energy in general. He suggested I continue for longer than seven days, that perhaps this was just a hint of the stellar energy in store. A great idea, but I could already feel myself looking forward to lifting the restrictions, even if it would mean sacrificing some of this energy.

Mike shot a gorgeous video of the vegan “charcuterie” platter at Berkeley’s Gather restaurant for us last month, and I had fantasies about going there for lunch after our shoot for a leisurely meal, but was overcome by guilt and had to get back to the day’s bloggery.

Back in front of the computer, I settled for a pair of Shi Gourmet’s fresh rice paper Vietnamese spring rolls (a frequent Rainbow purchase), a banana (Fair Trade, Peruvian, to be exact), and a Nature’s Path “peanut buddy” granola bar (dry but satisfactory), followed by a hefty snack a few hours later: A “mini” loaf of Sugar Plum Vegan’s pumpkin pecan quickbread, which is packed with a ton of pureed pumpkin. Like SPV’s peanut butter creamie, it was tasty and almost too indulgent.

After finishing enough work for no one to be mad at me for the weekend, I picked up some friends and rushed down to “Street Food Fridays” at Fabric8. The hope was for some tofu and veggie curry from the Magic Curry Kart, but it had sold out in less than an hour. I hung out for a while and then dropped my friends off so they could go eat whatever they wanted. Bitches.

Back at home and too tired to make a proper meal, I settled on a slightly more elaborate version of the previous night’s nachos, adding some fresh diced pineapple to the pico de gallo.

Saturday, Apr. 16
Began the day with an Amazake Vanilla Pecan Pie rice shake, which is a better choice for me than the Tiger Chai because it doesn’t have any caffeine. I perused my inbox and was lured in by an invitation to check out the private warehouse sale of a gourmet food distributor in San Leandro; soon, my friend Missy Buchanan and I were headed to the East Bay, with plans to hit up the Japanese vegetarian restaurant Cha-Ya back in San Francisco afterward.

Here’s where I admit the big transgression of my heart that happened while on the Vegansaurus Diet: This sale touted a wide variety of French cheeses, offered at wholesale prices, and I hovered around the table for a long time before snapping up two specimens. I also bought two kinds of truffle butter. I don’t know when I became such a cheese or butter enthusiast, but the fact that I couldn’t eat them then sparked a powerful longing.

We arrived at Cha-Ya to the disappointing sight of a “closed for renovations” sign. Although I loved my lunch at Gracias Madre, I had hoped not to return this week just for the sake of variety, but it was just a block away and seemed like the best option for that meat-saturated corridor. It turned out to be a great choice. This time I forked over the unreasonable $8 for the large version of that delicious horchata, and saved by ordering the “ensalada de mango” (pictured) with some side orders of black beans and mushrooms. The “queso fresco” slathered on the Acme baguette that accompanied the salad didn’t taste cheesy, but still helped to carve away at my gnawing craving.

Later that evening, I sliced up a zucchini and a white potato, filled a wok with a generous amount of French black truffle oil I had purchased at the warehouse sale (which made me realize I didn’t need to buy that stupid butter), and fried them up until they were no longer nutritious (perfect). I washed it down with a bottle of pomegranate kombucha from Kombucha Botanica of Santa Cruz.

Inspired by this recipe from Peaceful Table, I had wanted to try to make a vegan tapioca pudding all week and finally made the time to do it on Saturday evening. I followed the measurements of the recipe but used coconut milk instead of soy milk, added some chopped Fuji apple, and the last four squares of my spicy Mast Brothers dark chocolate. This dessert was the revelation of my week, hands down. Not only is it ready slightly quicker than the conventional method, it is vastly easier with, to me, negligibly similar results since you can skip all the steps of separating the egg whites from the yolks and adding different amounts of each at different times. I’m thrilled to know I can avoid that tedium and have delicious, healthy results.

I almost forgot that I had been saving my Rocket Ship chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream that I had gotten at Whole Foods for last, so I sampled some even after I downed a big bowl of tapioca. Supplier of ice cream to San Francisco’s fine vegan restaurant Millennium, I was instantly hooked on the flavor and consistency of the ice crystals. I buy a lot of non-dairy frozen desserts and will be adding this to the rotation.

I deliberately did not set my Vegansaurus Diet up like a “cleanse,” but I did emerge from it all with a noticeably lighter feeling. The lack of dairy was what my brain told me was the biggest deprivation, even as I realized I don’t need it for actual survival. Yesterday, I told my father (who I actually love a whole lot) that I would throw him under the bus for an early shot at a double-cheese pizza; later, the thought of having a midnight pizza party got me through the rest of today. My cravings for/loyalties to dairy are alarming me, so I am going to go drown them in more coconut milk tapioca pudding now.

Tamara Palmer is the food editor for The Feast SF Bay Area and a contributor to SFoodie and Bay Area Bites. We dig her a lot. All photos from Tamara, except the Rocket Ship ice cream and Pepple’s Donut from Yelp!

02/02/2011

The Vegansaurus Diet: Laura!  »

I was inspired by Meaverly and La Rascal to do a Vegansaurus Diet. So I did. BAM:

Monday, Jan. 24.
Vega
shake (chocolate flavor mixed with water) and coffee with coconut creamer. The thing with Vega is, it tastes DISGUSTING but makes you feel SO ALIVE. I’ve never had a protein shake make me feel the way Vega does. Seriously, I feel like I could punch out Superman! I want to puke while I’m drinking it (it does not help that it looks and smells like puke) but afterwards, my head is clear, my eyes are bright, and I have weird amounts of energy. Freaky.

Lunch is my patented “Couscous Surprise.” Actually, Jonas patented it but I innovate on the base so ANYWAY. What I do is, I put Israeli couscous, half a Field Roast Chipotle sausage, some broccoli, a dash of olive oil, a little vegan chicken broth powder, some nutritional yeast, spices galore, and water into my rice cooker and BAM! half an hour later, Couscous Surprise! This dish is very tasty and delightful. Highly recommended. My lunch dessert is a pear. BORING, it’ll get sexier/fatter at dinner, I promise.

For snack I had one of those high-fiber fruit bars from Trader Joe’s. They’re all right-tasting and full of fiber!

Dinner was the new Loving Hut on Irving in the Inner Sunset with the lovely Eve Batey. We split the Ocean Basket (deep-fried vegan fish and green beans and mushrooms), a mango salad, and this tofu veggie vermicelli thing. Oh, and fried bananas and ice cream. Everything was okay, if a little bland. And then later when I got home, I had a piece of leftover Maggie Mudd ice cream cake. Delicious. God, I love that fake frosting flavor, I have such horrible taste in everything.

Tuesday, Jan. 25
Since it probably took you half an hour to read about my Monday, I’ll get more succinct up in this bitch. For breakfast today, I had a vaginal exam. After that, I enjoyed two cups of coffee with coconut creamer, a molasses cookie, an apple, and a pear. Lunch is chia seed gravy with tofu, spinach, and broccoli over quinoa! Love that chia seed gravy. I snacked on TJ’s fruit leather and one of those delicious maple leaf cookies they sell. Dinner was cooked at my parent’s house so we could watch downloaded legally recorded Big Love. We made spaghetti with a zucchini and mini heirloom marinara and the Trader Joe’s meatballs and a big salad with Sabra spinach and artichoke hummus and some herb slab bread. It was all very delicious and OMG BIG LOVE SO SCANDALOUS.

Wednesday, Jan. 26
A bowl of Trader Joe’s Oh’s (or whatever the fuck they’re “cleverly” named) with almond milk, a pear, and coffee with coconut creamer. BAM! For lunch, I had last night’s leftover spaghetti and two diet Hanson’s sodas. I love soda, one of my new year’s resolutions was to drink more of it and I’m no quitter! Except when things are hard! Then, I had a TJ’s Laxative Fruit Leather. For dinner, homemade Mac and Cheese with quinoa pasta and loads of broccoli (my own recipe, it’s the bomb, one day when I’m feeling less lazy, I’ll share it with you)! The last of the Maggie Mudd ice cream cake which ended up giving my funky tummy. I will also say that I was at Maggie Mudd’s the other night and they only had TWO vegan flavors on the board WTF? Oh, and BEER. I enjoyed some beer. 

Thursday, Jan. 27
Coffee with coconut creamer, laxative bomb fruit leather, and Trader Joe’s Oh’s with almond milk. I totally forgot to have lunch because it was a crazy crazy day and  was starting to feel shaky, so I stopped at Whole Foods and picked up some cucumber and avocado sushi (what’s up, Rascal!), a Synergy kombucha, a banana, and a ProBar. Ate everything but half the ProBar but not because it’s gross, just because I was full. I stopped in the downstairs cafe to eat like a proper human and they were doing wine tastings. Nobody else was indulging so the wine lady poured me three giant glasses of wine. No clue what the wines were but this is probably because I had three huge glasses of wine. Cheers! For dinner, I met with two wonderful ladies, Amanda and Leda, for Vietnamese food in the place that’s where Yum Yum House used to be on Valencia (it’s now on Divisadero!), Thanh Tam II; we split spring rolls, tofu with string beans, white rice, and veggie noodles. It was pretty all right. I think if I still lived nearby, I might get it for delivery, but no, in this neighborhood, I prefer Sunflower for Vietnamese food. Sometimes people complain about our mainly positive restaurant reviews but the thing is, we mainly review the places we really love. Or that really suck. Maybe we should do more places that are like, O-KAY. I dunno? Thoughts? I AM VERY SLEEPY, GOODNIGHT. 

Friday, Jan. 28
Vega + coffee with creamer! Lunch is chia seed gravy over broccoli and multi-grain crackers with eggplant garlic dip. Late afternoon snack is roasted Brussels sprouts (olive oil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar; roast at 425 for 20 min!). 6 p.m. rolls around and I’m craving chocolate like crazy so I make a pan of Fat Bottom Bakery fudge. Waiting for that cool because I want some before I go see a movie with my mom tonight. I’m gonna fall asleep during it, guaranteed. Now, MORE WORK! Goodnight, sir.

Saturday, Jan. 29
Coffee with coconut milk creamer. A million episodes of Breaking Bad. Made some chickpea “tuna” salad (YUM) and ate that and Sabra Spinach and Artichoke Hummus (YUM) with multigrain crackers. Then, I indulged in some of yesterday’s fudge. I packed it in. I really love FUDGE!! Then, I cuddled Hazel and took a nap—not really food-related but digestion-related. Next, picked up sushi and soba and goma-ae and edamame and miso soup from Cha-Ya in Berkeley and took it to Minty and Damien's house to meet their 3 day old baby, who is named Sally, and is beautiful and perfect in every way. I wish I was a baby, what a life! All just eating and sleeping and people cleaning you and hugging you constantly. It's like I always say: It's a baby's world, we're just living in it! Oh, this is a good time to mention that I also had two glasses of wine. Red wine! Heart healthy! Anyway, delightful visit with delightful people (and dogs and cats) and then so, we came home for more Breaking Bad and cider and garlic fries. GARLIC FRIES!!! Now, fudge? Or, sleep?

Sunday, Jan. 29
Coffee with vanilla soy milk! Then, some dried mango and a carrot. Fast-forward to lunch, which is Souley Vegan gumbo (delightful spiciness with okra, tofu, and seaweed), collard greens, southern fried tofu, and mashed potatoes with gravy, split with Jonas. Followed by some vegan gummy worms. For dinner, we made Red Curry with Rice and Purple Kale. I’m really loving that recipe, except I used hemp seed oil as the oil and it’s my first time cooking with it and it has a gross-ass fishy smell. NO ME GUSTA. 

Monday, Jan. 31
Having a down day today so it’s time to eat! Actually, today didn’t motivate me to eat so much as cry in a corner. Anyway, I made myself hot chocolate for breakfast and ate some leftover red curry for lunch. I had an apple and four Candy Cane Joe Joe’s and then I wasn’t super hungry or motivated so I had some chickpea salad for dinner and a big glass of soy milk. Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!

[Cha Ya photo from Yelp; maple cookies picture from VegNews!]

12/17/2010

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!]

11/26/2010

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.

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.

04/08/2010

Sunset Two-fer: Underdog and Trouble Coffee!  »

Sometimes a girl just has to take a break. Sure, it would be great to head to Costa Rica or Tokyo, but sometimes all you have are $15 and an afternoon, in which case I recommend the beach, with a couple of important stops:

1. Underdog
Underdog is just as cute as can be! This tiny little space seats maybe eight people, including the little bench outside. What it lacks in seating, however, it makes up in vegan sausage options! On the day of my visit, they had no fewer than seven vegan sausages (including such stars as Field Roast Apple Sage and Tofurky Italian, and also what appeared to be a homemade variety). You get your choice of white or whole wheat bun, and then you load it up with classic, all-organic toppings. Oh, and did I forget to mention sides? Underdog has both Tater Tots and vegan potato salad. Also, everything is cheap! Like, $3.69! Or less! And there is a great selection of organic sodas and juices, vegan chocolate chip cookies, and vegan ice cream. The icing on the cake is the super-cute and nice person who works at the counter and calls you nice names, like honey, which is just what I needed. Thanks, Underdog! [Ed.: Underdog was originally reviewed on Vegansaurus last year but this adds to the convo so we put it up because we like to add to shit.]

2. Trouble Coffee
Now, I’m normally a bit hesitant to recommend a coffee place that doesn’t offer any vegan food options, but in this case, I feel an exception is warranted. So, while Trouble Coffee doesn’t offer any vegan pastries, it does offer a cooler full of whole coconuts, which they will expertly whack the tops off of and give to you with a straw and a spoon. They also have great coffee (De La Paz) expertly made, and they use Wildwood soy milk, which I think is nice, and they know how to make it foam up real nice. No overly-milky soy cappuccinos here! This tiny little place is four blocks from Ocean Beach on Judah Street and is, like Underdog, super-duper cute. There’s only seating for about six or seven people inside, with a bench outside.

The girl working the counter was a bit, um, aloof, and when I asked her about vegan food options, she picked up her cell phone and started texting before answering me with a vague, distracted, “Not right now, but we’re thinking [mumble] we have grapefruit juice, though….” She sort of indicated that they were maybe thinking about getting a vegan item or two, though Trouble is one of those places that only really has two or three food items, so who the hell knows. Maybe if someone can get hold of the barista’s cell phone number, we could all text her about it.

Anyway, it’s a nice place close to the beach with good coffee and WHOLE COCONUTS, so I recommend it. It’s also right by Other Avenues, so you can pick up something to soak up that caffeine on your way home.

03/02/2010

Dispatch from the Inner Sunset: Social Kitchen & Brewery!  »

Eater revealed that SF Weekly revealed what I’ve been revealing for months, since they were supposed to open in January, if you’re unlucky enough to be my Twitter or Facebook friend: something is happening (finally!) in the erstwhile Eldos/Wunder Beer space at 1326 9th Ave.

On its face it’s a great space (they even have parking!), and it’s weird and sad that attempts to make it a happy brewpubby place to be have failed and it’s been empty for two years. But if you look under the rock, there’s usually some crawlies under the crazy-high, what-are-you-thinking-this-is-the-Sunset rent. So, I’m really excited that a gung-ho group of people with industry cred have banded together to make this a place you want to hang out and drink craft brews!

Rich Higgins, cicerone, will no doubt be brewing up beers that match his impeccable gustatory instinct (full disclosure: I know Rich and his adorable wife IRL and can attest that this is a man who can put beer together with delicious!) and apparently, the plan is for some vegetarian and vegan eats on the menu, even though we’re not sure who is cooking them yet (Higgins is actually hella good at food too, but for these purposes he’s the brewmaster). Maybe since nobody works at Ubuntu anymore they can get some hot chickpea fries and romesco sauce action going on without being sued?

Anyway, I am looking forward to drinking sure-to-be delicious happy local beers in a congenial environment! Which is saying a lot, since it’s less than a block from my living room, where the beer is free (For me, not for you, sucka).

01/20/2010

"Beautifull!" open in the Inner Sunset  »

If you haven’t been acquainted, “Beautifull!" is a semi-recent addition to the Bay Area’s "fresh, healthy" prepared foods scene. I’d had their stuff before, since they’ve catered some work-related events and also sell to-go foods in the Capay Organic store in SF’s Ferry Building. It’s decent stuff for pre-packaged food; it’s clear they use quality ingredients and make it as wholesome and appetizing as cold prepared foods can be. I think their main kitchen is in Emeryville, but they also have a retail store/restaurant in Stroller Heights, at 3401 California St. That is a genius location for them, as they no doubt do gangbusters business selling kombucha, quinoa/edamame salad and salmon filets to busy rich skinnies with nannies moms-on-the-go.

So, this new location, 816 Irving St. between 9th & 10th Avenues, is mostly of interest to me because it is half a block from my house. The thing is, there are about 100 other things to eat within a one-block radius, and in light of this, Beautifull! (don’t forget the exclamation!) is pretty-good-to-OK, for the price.

Let me break it down for you: the format of the store is basically an exact replica of Whole Foods’ prepared foods area. The main menu features are pizzas (whole wheat crust, natch), sandwiches, curry/rice bowls, and cold-case things like fruit salads, couscous salads, and a lot of meat and fish choices (so relevant, right?). It’s priced very similarly to Whole Foods, and there is a wall of cold prepped dishes for you to heat & eat at home, soups, and bottled kombucha. They also have some baked goods like big cookies and muffins. (None of the baked goods are vegan, just FYI. But if you’re vegetarian, try the blueberry ginger muffin or spelt peanut butter cookie.)

On the plus side, it’s good to have a place that is at least conscientious of the ingredients and wants to help you find something nutritious and veggie to eat, and I think it’s good to have these places penetrating the mainstream and opening new branches. The ladies working there are SUPER-friendly, and it is completely wack that their POS system doesn’t allow you to add a tip to credit card purchases. Seriously, that is a bad management decision. But anyway, they were very informed on what was vegan vs. vegetarian, and very helpful with choosing menu items. You can sample anything, as much as you want. Other positives: they deliver orders over $50 and their catering menu has a few more vegan options—I’ve gotten their catering at my office and had great experiences with it.

Many things you will want to eat are vegetarian but not vegan. I could see this being very frustrating for you, the vegan. However, I can attest that the Moroccan Butter Bean Tagine and Thai Vegetable Curry would be delicious choices for you or anyone.

The cold case is a good place for vegans, too. I got a half-pint of the kale and arame salad for $2.40, and considering that eating cold kale is a bit like going into battle, it was a decent price for a side dish that lasted me two meals. Beautifull!’s Red Quinoa & Edamame salad is a signature for them, and very enjoyable as well.

So fundamentally, if you’re a fairly well-versed home chef or a very strict vegan, you might not really have much use for it. Their food is pretty simple, and not beyond the capabilities of your average food blogger, but they use good ingredients and it could be handy for a night you don’t feel like cooking. I wouldn’t call it a “destination” or sit-down restaurant.

And I feel slightly nervous for them, because their menu is huge and varied (not really sustainable from a cost-containment standpoint, for most restaurants), and a lot of what they’re selling is duplicated in existing, well-loved neighborhood places. Often, as with the thai curries, you can get these elsewhere in the ‘hood for cheaper at ethnic dives (although maybe without such explicit access to the ingredient list—every item at Beautifull! lists all the ingredients in plain sight.) Some of us in the ‘hood had hoped for a replacement option for the now-closed Cafe Gratitude, and this isn’t exactly it, though you can get a bowl of veggie curry over brown rice, quinoa or couscous, for about $10 (which is admittedly less than Gratitude’s, with a lot less fanfare involved in procurement).

06/18/2009

New Cha-Ya Location!  »

We’ve just become aware that a third Cha-Ya is opening this weekend! It’s in the Inner Sunset at 1386 9th Ave. at Judah, where Empress Garden used to be. If you’re not familiar with Cha-Ya, it’s a lovely all-vegan Japanese restaurant, with locations already in the Mission and in Berkeley. And it’ll get a proper review around here sooner or later.

This is especially good news considering the Cafe Gratitude serving the Inner Sunset closed last week. Hippie fail.

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