Product review: medium-spicy Nacheez! »
Great news, vegan cheese-lovers—Nacheez innovator Ilsa Hess has added a new flavor to her line of nacho cheese sauce! What was once only available in spicy or mild is now accessible in a medium spice level. I was generously sent a couple of jars to sample, one of which was simply heated up and poured atop tortilla chips immediately after I ripped the package open—delicious!
For the second jar I wanted to be a little more creative, as my first impulse was to eat it with a spoon over the sink. I’d been meaning to make the Nacheez banana empanadas for about a year, but to be real, it has sounded a little too eccentric for my taste.
I did make the empanadas, and though it is a funky combination of flavors, they’re actually really tasty! The sweetness of the bananas combined with the tang of the Nacheez is an eclectic harmony! Next time I think I’m gonna skip the work of shaping empanadas (okay fine, I really made calzones) and just make a pizza. That way the bananas, uncovered in the oven, will caramelize to their fullest potential (or at least until the pizza dough is nicely browned on the bottom).
Even if banana-Nacheez pizza isn’t your thing, you can enjoy medium Nacheez in a variety of different ways, like my personal fave—a chili cheese dog!
Vegan road trip: Phoenix! Check out Green restaurant and make your own Big Wac! »
What’s a girl to do when a case of winter S.A.D, holiday fatigue, and the daily grind have got her down? Go to the Grand Canyon for Spring Break! Beat the blues by visiting one of the greatest natural wonders the Earth has to offer. Cautiously stand six feet away from the ledge, watch a group of men take a picture of their friend plank on the edge (thinking that surely you are going to watch a handsome Englishman plummet to his death right before your eyes, frozen in fear and experiencing vertigo just looking at him) and forget your own emotional baggage for a couple hours.
Sick of winter and worn out from the holidays, my bestie Britney and I began planning Spring Break 2013, or SXAZ, as it seemed everyone else was in Austin at the time. What was initially envisioned as a road trip from Vegas to Santa Fe quickly became reduced once travel time and expenses became a reality. Enter PHOENIX! VegNews just profiled Tempe and Phoenix vegan hotspot Green, Air BnB rentals* are plentiful, and for the four-hour drive to the Grand Canyon, Zipcars are available.
Now, if you should for any reason, find yourself in Phoenix, it is imperative that you eat at Green restaurant. Britney and I ate at Green three of the four days on that trip, we just COULD NOT get enough. By far, for both us, the most incredible item on the menu was their Big Wac, a vegan take on the (in)famous McDonald’s burger. We loved this sandwich so much, we stopped by for the third visit on our way to airport so we could eat our Big Wacs for dinner in San Francisco. Consider us obsessed.
Upon returning home, within four days I had to make my own. So I present you with the Big JB.
I like my junk food with a side of sautéed kale. Or chocolate cake, whatever is available.
Two imitation burgers of your choice (I used Whole Foods brand)
Vegan cheese (Daiya cheddar wedge)
Buns (whole wheat if you are healthy, white flour if you love decadence like me)
Equal parts vegan mayo and ketchup (probably about 2 tablespoons of each)
2 to 3 tablespoons diced white onion
Cook your burgers as instructed on the box. I fried mine up in vegetable oil, in a saucepan on the stove, because if I’m making glorified fast food for dinner, I’m not going the healthy route. Melt your vegan cheese atop burgers as you see fit. I like to put it on the burgers when they are almost done in the frying pan, turn off the heat, and cover the pan till the cheese melts. Smear your buns with “special sauce” (i.e. ketchup and vegan mayo), add diced onions and a couple pickles. Add your romaine lettuce as desired for nutrient value. Design burger as pictured, because you need that extra bun layer, believe me.
*We stayed in a hippie house that put Berkeley to shame. TO SHAME. No matter my minor in hippie studies from Humboldt State; I broke pretty much every rule in that house with my mere existence.
Tonight: Vegan happy hour at Source in San Francisco! »
The rumors are true—Source now carries organic, GMO-free wines and beers!
To celebrate, we’re hosting our own vegan beer and food fest on our patio, from 4 to 6:30 tonight, Wednesday, March 27. We’ll be serving all-you-can-drink beer and house wines, as well as some tasty bites including mac n’cheese, chocolate stout cake, salads, and bruschetta.
It costs $25, but if you picked up a Source pin on our anniversary, we’ll take $5 off. What a steal, right? Small bites, dessert, AND drinks for $20-$25? This shindig is my little brainchild, and if it’s a success, I’ll get the green light to keep it up, which I’d like to do probably once a month!
Let’s party, vegans—and be sure to bring your omni/vegetarian friends. What better way to show them the thrills of veganism than with cake and beer?
Source is located at 11 Division St. in San Francisco. Call us for more details at 864-9000. See you tonight!
Second anniversary party at Source in SF on Saturday! »
Hey San Franciscans—Source restaurant is throwing a second anniversary party and you’re invited! We’ll be serving our tremendously popular and incredibly delicious brisket platter, which includes smothered moo brisket, creamed spinach, candied yams, cranberry relish, and my favorite—macaroni salad! I don’t know what we’re going to do for dessert yet, but there will definitely be a large assortment of gluten-free goodies, including Twinkees and chocolate Heaven Dogs.
I can’t wait till Saturday!
In addition to the festivities (read: feeding frenzy), we’ll be giving away Source buttons as a thank-you to our customers for keeping us inspired, motivated, and excited about what we’ve been doing at the restaurant for the last two years! We ordered quite a few of them, but when they run out, they run out. If you get your hands on one, make sure to wear it on future visits for FREEBIES! (If I see you wearing one, you’re getting dessert on me!)
These stylish adornments were made by our friend the lovely Jen at Never Felt Better!
Source’s second anniversary is tomorrow, Saturday, March 8. We’ll serve brunch and our full menu from 11am until 2:30pm; after that we’ll serve our full menu and the brisket platter until we close at 10pm! If you weren’t aware, Source is BYOB—and stay tuned, as we should be getting our wine and beer license in the next couple of weeks!
See you tomorrow! MENTION THIS POST, VEGANSAURUS READERS (or just mention Vegansaurus, whatever you like), FOR 10 PERCENT OUR ENTIRE MENU ALL DAY SATURDAY! Thanks for supporting us for the last two years!
Source is located at 11 Division St. in San Francisco. Call us for more details or inquires about reservations and take-out orders at 864-9000.
Seven day challenge to “Get Crunk” with Bianca Phillips starts today! »
Let’s get crunk this week, you guys. Seriously! Starting today, Cookin’ Crunk author Bianca Phillips is teaming up with both Vegan Mainstream and Book Publishing Company to launch a seven day “Keep On Crunkin” challenge, as a social media campaign for her cookbook! Each day Bianca will share tips and recipes on her blog, Vegan Crunk. The posts will then offer a social media option that you can take to Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, with a chance to win some awesome prizes, including cookbooks and Cookin’ Crunk aprons! According to Vegan Mainstream, if you’re on twitter, use the hashtag #KeepOnCrunkin to join the conversation at anytime. Being a huge fan of pretty much anything Bianca does, I’m pretty excited to check out what this week-long challenge is all about!
Remember the challenge starts today (Feb 19th) and ends on the 26th —you can find more information about this lively campaign right here! Now let’s go get crunk!
Cookin’ Crunk!: Veganizing the Dirty South »
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but sometime in 2012 I found myself in the biggest creative slump. Even the once exciting outlet of cooking for myself had become a drag, and I knew I needed some inspiration, but from where? Fortunately for me, inspiration came in the mail, in the form of Bianca Phillips’ recently published cookbook, Cookin’ Crunk: Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South!
You’ve probably stumbled across (or follow!) Bianca’s blog, Vegan Crunk (a Vegansaurus favorite!), which has been around since 2007. I found it a couple years ago while traveling through the South, looking for a vegan place to eat in Memphis. Bianca had me covered with her Memphis vegan dining guide, and so I got to eat tofu scramble at Brother Juniper’s (which I would love to tell you was delicious, but unfortunately I was so very sick, and therefore had to douse it in hot sauce to clear my sinuses. It looked scrumptious!). Anyway, I was super delighted to find that she had published a cookbook and even more stoked to be generously given a copy for review!
I own many cookbooks that I just love, and Cookin’ Crunk has definitely made its way to the top. The recipes are straight-forward and quite manageable, while the task of gathering the accessible ingredients can be accomplished at one grocery store. Of this Bianca says (via email), “I was raised in a small town in Arkansas, and it’s Whole Foods-less. So I was thinking about those people in small towns. … Of course, there are some things, like nooch and black salt … but I figure most vegans can find those things, even if they order online.”
Another feature of this book I’m taken with is that the recipes are so flavorful, sometimes with only a few ingredients: She knows how to spice food up! Last but not least, the narratives and anecdotes presenting each recipe are warm, funny and make me feel like Bianca’s in my kitchen, guiding me through these culinary adventures, dishing out the history of these meals. Cookin’ Crunk was one of my favorite vegan finds of last year, and I honestly cannot wait to make everything in it. I definitely recommend you add this cookbook to your collection. But don’t just go and hit up Amazon; if you buy it through Vegan Crunk, you can purchase a signed copy!
All right, onto the food!
The very first dish I made was the Jalapeño-Lime Watermelon Salad. Now, I was taken aback by mixing jalapeño, lime, and basil with my watermelon, and thought for sure I’d hate it. Turns out, I don’t know if I can eat watermelon all by it’s lonesome in the future, EVER AGAIN.
The second thing I made was the Mess O’Greens with Turnips. I’m embarrassed to admit that this combination of food is too bitter for my California palate, so now I substitute kale and sweet potatoes for collards and turnips!
Here we have the Deviled Tofu Bites, which were reminiscent of the food at my own family get-togethers growing up.
Entree-style is the Country-Fried Tempeh Steak with Soy Milk Gravy (and a side of the Mess O’Greens), which is one of the best things I have ever tasted. It was better than any comparable restaurant version I’ve had, for real. Full disclosure: I used the bake option instead of frying it. Looking at this picture reminds me that I need to make this baby again real soon!
Of course there’s a dessert section! Pictured above is the Old-Fashioned Coconut Pie and it’s KILLER. I’ve made it about five times, I love it so much. I make desserts for a living, which means I’ve both baked and eaten A LOT of vegan treats; let me tell you, this pie is beyond words. I could probably eat the whole thing in one sitting, which is coming to you from someone who usually wants nothing to do with sweet and decadent desserts in her off-time.
What are you waiting for? Go get yourself a signed copy of Cookin’ Crunk!
Happy Almost New Year: it’s the Vegansaurus best meals of 2012! »
You didn’t think we’d let 2013 come at us without a best of list, did you? OF COURSE NOT. So for your reading pleasure, we came up with our very favorite meals of 2012. Let’s do this!
Jenny (that’s me!): My new favorite restaurant of all time is Pura Vida in Las Vegas. I ate so many wonderful meals this year, but Pura Vida topped them all. Chef Mayra is a culinary mastermind—her dishes are vibrantly colorful and packed with so much flavor! Almost every day I think about the breakfast burrito I had about eight months ago, and I cannot wait to to get back to Vegas to hit her up again! I’ve actually planned my entire wedding in Vegas (sans groom) (for now) solely based on Chef Mayra catering the elegant debauchery that will no doubt ensue.
Latin’tude breakfast burrito, I love you!
Megan: ”For me, it was the year of chickpea flour—and more specifically, the Tuscan chickpea frittata. Oh boy did we have some good times this year! I made them every which way from Sunday. So easy and so yummy! And totes versatile. It’s the best!”
Man, that was a lot of fun, when Megan was making all those frittatas! I can’t believe I never tried one myself, but I suppose that will have to be what 2013 is for!
Vegan, gluten-free frittata; so many delicious combinations!
Laura: ”The VegNews all-cheese holiday party, catered by Miyoko Schinner was, in a word, mind blowing! Cheese, cheese, and more cheese!! Giant cheese-stuffed ravioli was maybe the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life (SORRY ABOUT THE PHOTO, I’m too pretty to be good at anything!) and fried croquettes on amazing salad, and so much more. Vegan meringue, too! Holy mother!
"Vegan cheese, you’ve come a long way since your days of gross inedibility! Buy Miyoko’s book IMMEDIATELY!”
Hot dang, that VegNews staff knows how to get down!
Vegan cheese, you HAVE come a long way!
Meave: Of course, sometimes it is impossible to pick just one, so our Meave gives the lowdown on her top five! First, comes Isa’s Maple Pecan Pie, because what holiday is complete without this delectable dessert? (Follow Meave on Instagram to see how her beautiful pie turned out—I was blown away at its loveliness!)
Maple pecan pie, before meeting the oven!
Next up we have a filling and colorful veg bowl, to which Meave explains, “Angela Liddon, salad genius, made so many of my lunches better with her legume and veg bowls, but my favorite was her Lightened Up Protein Power Goddess Bowl. Meave is quite the salad dressing connoisseur (“I’m picky”), so if this made the list, you know it’s got to be good! Of course we can’t leave out the brunch at Donut Farm, which includes Meave’s personal faves — the winter hash, double-dipped donuts, banana fritters and potato works!
Winter hash forever! Or at least until spring!
Sarah: Keeping up with her title, Sarah dishes out some raw opinions, telling us her favorite dish of 2012 was “Cafe Gratitude’s I Am Whole bowl. Always”. I bet she’s missing that over on the East Coast! Hope you got your fill on your recent L.A. adventure, Sarah!
Sarah’s version of said bowl, via her personal blog queerveganfood.com.
Andrew: “I’m going to have to go with our recent Mexican vegan Christmas dinner menu—homemade refried beans, Spanish rice, homemade mole with tofu, three kinds of homemade tamales (soyrizo, mushroom and mole, and green chile and cheese); margarita pizza with soyrizo (definitely NOT homemade); and horchata made from scratch, which was used for Mexican White Russians. This fed seven of us at dinner and then everyone got some to take home. And we’ve had leftovers for one meal a day since.” I did manage to get myself invited to this magnificent dinner, but alas, Long Beach was just too far away!
Check out this magnificent plate, made complete with a Tecate, of course!
That’s enough about us and our favorites—now it’s your turn to rave about your absolute faves from 2012, so the rest of us can enjoy them in 2013! Happy New Year everybody!
Need last minute gifts? Check out Buyer’s Best Friend in the Upper Haight! »
Though in the past San Franciso’s Upper Haight may not have been a mecca for vegans, I can assure you that it is most definitely becoming one! Thanks to Whole Foods, I can get my fix of Food For Lovers vegan queso anytime I fancy; Sunrise Deli just opened up and man, they KILL IT with their avocado falafel sandwich; Escape From New York offers Daiya cheese; Picnic Bakery is coming soon; and we also boast one of the cutest specialty boutiques in the city—Buyer’s Best Friend!
Buyer’s Best Friend has been open for a little while now. I think they may have had their grand opening party over the summer. Every time I go in they have new and interesting products, and because they buy straight from the companies, they are able to sample out all their artisan food products! This is incredible news because most of their specialty food items are vegan, even raw! Buyer’s Best Friend also carries housewares, bath and beauty supplies, and cold-pressed Stumptown coffee!
Of course I took some pictures — let’s check it out!
All kinds of interesting, locally made, and beautifully crafted soaps, with creative names to boot!
The sales representatives were most excited to have me try this VEGAN bacon-flavored hot sauce. It was delicious, and completely cruelty-free!
Their shelves are stocked with all kinds of artisan oils, sauces, mustards, and glazes!
VEGAN CARAMEL SAUCE!
Pickled vegetables galore via Emmy’s!
Get yo’ hipster cold-pressed coffee ON.
Or you can get some beans to brew at home.
Raw vegan delights by Just Pure Foods!
Truffle oils and flour!
Before Buyer’s Best Friend opened, I had never had Cocomel’s coconut-milk based caramels. These caramels are definitely one of my most favorite things, ever!
Most of these chocolate delectables are vegan! Some are even raw!
Buyer’s Best Friend is located at 1740 Haight St. in San Francisco, between Cole and Shrader in the Upper Haight!
LA’s Pressed Juicery to open SF location in Noe Valley! »
Two weeks ago, on a recent trip in a paradise I like to call LA, I hit up one of my fave spots — Pressed Juicery in West Hollywood! While purchasing a mass amount of juice and trying to make small talk with the register dude, I was told two incredible things: that it was their one year anniversary, so I’d be getting 10% off my order and that they were planning on opening up an SF location. I was very excited upon hearing this, but while walking away I couldn’t help but think of the lip service and broken promises we in the Bay Area have been given about getting our own Babycakes and Native Foods, and so I promptly let it go.
However, it looks as though we actually are getting a Pressed Juicery and soon too! Eater SF says it’s going to be in Noe Vally; that the space is already available! I’m not going to hold my breath or anything, but I’m pretty stoked about this — I think my heart even skipped a beat. I’ll be here waiting for you, Pressed Juicery. I love you so!
Product review: Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes! »
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I miss seafood. Thankfully, many a talented chef and vegan company have heard my incredibly influential sobs, and risen to the challenge of putting this kind of delectable food item on the market! Today, we talk about Sophie’s Kitchen — specifically the crab cakes.
I got these bad boys at Whole Foods, a market I did not previously notice them at until recently. Here’s what I have to say — if you see them, grab them up. Honestly, I could not be more stoked with this product.
I am not a fan of frying my food my food at home, which some of you might find surprising since I eat so much of it when going out. Whatever, let’s move on. I baked them, at 350, for about 15 minutes, or golden brown on the edges. I immediately ate one of them plain, because waiting for both the oven to pre-heat and then the cakes to bake was excruciating. Delicious! I don’t know how Sophie’s Kitchen does it! The best part is that these are gluten and soy-free! The texture is spot on, without being too much, if you aren’t a fan of faux-meats that are exactly like the real thing. The taste itself is also pretty spot-on, without being overly “fishy”, thanks to the wakame powder.
Baked to perfection and demolished in 30 seconds.
Being a San Francisco Bay Area native, hot crab sandwiches were a part of my childhood. They bring back family lunches out, in Marin County while visiting my grandparents, and then my mom replicating those same sandwiches in our kitchen at home. Sometimes the hardest part of being vegan is not being able to eat the food that is linked to my family and our memories. Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes are delightful to me, not only because they are scrumptious, but also because for the first time in over a decade I got to eat a hot ‘crab’ sandwich!
My crab sandwich was nothing too spectacular, as I made it at my grandma’s house with only the crab cake, some french bread and Veganaise on hand. You can bet when I make them at home, I’ll be going all out with an english muffin, green onion, Veganaise and melted vegan cheese. I can’t wait. However plain this one may seem, I was happy none-the-less!
The crab cakes are somewhat small, so I thought I could eat all four that come in a box, no problem. I actually could only get through two, because they are quite decadent!
Last but not least — the ingredients! I know a bunch of you are into analyzing this part of processed and packaged food items, so have at it!
I can’t wait to try all of this company’s other products!