San Francisco: How not to starve in Fisherman’s Wharf! »
I recently spent a weekend staying at Fisherman’s Wharf with some out-of-state relatives who wanted nothing from this city of ours but to stroll the tourist-packed length of Pier 39, to watch dolphins frolicking in the waters of the bay just off Alcatraz, and to eat repeatedly at the Best Western Tuscan Inn’s Café Pescatore. They apparently do some kind of bitching Italian that my parents couldn’t get enough of, and after a few meals of rather sub-par minestrone, the server and chef took pity on the two vegans and served us up a lovely saute of summer vegetables topped with a fried polenta cake. It was freaking gooooooood.
If you find yourself starving to death on Fisherman’s Wharf, and you can’t figure out how to take the F-Line to the Ferry Building, or the Ferry Building is closed because it’s the apocalypse, or your relatives are just super-focused on getting themselves some chicken parmesan, you could do way worse than landing here. At the Café, tell them you heard through the grapevine (aka, the special vegan mafioso rumor mill) about a special meal they can make for especially pretty vegans. Then smile really nicely and say please and thank you. Then maybe, just maybe, you’ll get to eat this.
Marla Wick lives in a small town in Sonoma County with one lucky fella and two cats. When she’s not reading speculative fiction or applying for jobs, she blogs about veganism, popular culture, and politics at Vegan-Squared and Bully Pulp.
Guest post: An interview with Mihl of Seitan Is My Motor! »
Seitan Is My Motor is not only a cute reference to a clever song by Cake, it’s also an amazing food blog by vegan maven Mihl. She’s been blogging for over three years and has amassed quite a collection of recipes in her blog’s expansive index. And she doesn’t sacrifice quality for quantity, not a bit of it. Her photos are light and stunning (how does she do that? She has mad skills), and her prose is clear and unassuming.
Take a look at her beautiful photo of this mouthwatering Pflaumenkuchen (plum cake), which has ENTIRE PLUMS baked into the top of it. I’ve been dreaming about this cake ever since she posted, and only the cruelest tricks and whimsies of fate have prevented me from making it.
If you’re still not convinced, because you’re a total freak, know that the lovely Mihl lives in Dresden and posts selected recipes on a version of her site that is entirely auf deutsch. You have been looking for an opportunity to practice your German, haven’t you? How is she so amazing? I’ll let her explain for herself:
Vegansaurus: When did you start Seitan Is My Motor?
Mihl: Right away when I went vegan back in April 2007.
What inspired you to start a food blog?
The correct question would be “who inspired you?” When I thought about making the switch from vegetarianism to veganism, I started to read vegan food blogs. They provided so much information and since they were packed with awesome vegan recipes, they made the switch to go vegan very easy for me. I talked to my boyfriend about how awesome these blogs were and he suggested to start one as well. He even bought a digital camera. That’s how I started my blog.
What motivates you to keep blogging?
Several things. First of all, my readers, all the people who leave comments or just read my blog. Right from the beginning I got wonderful feedback and I met some awesome people through blogging. People from all over the world stop by my blog and I feel like I am part of a huge international community. It helped me to feel confident about my veganism right from the beginning. At that time I didn’t know any vegans in real life, and I still knew there were many like-minded people out there. Second, if you have access to the internet, blogging is an easy and cheap way of sharing ideas and information for free. And I probably wouldn’t think about cooking and baking that much if I didn’t have a blog. The blog documents how I developed some of my cooking and all of my baking skills. If it wasn’t for Seitan Is My Motor, I would probably still bake from cake mixes.
How would you describe your blog?
It’s a recipe blog that documents my experiences with vegan cooking, developing recipes, trying out new ingredients or flavor combinations.
Any advice for aspiring food bloggers?
Just start! A blog is a great place where you can post whatever comes to your mind. There are endless possibilities.
In a desert-island scenario, what three food items would you bring with you?
A loaf of whole rye sourdough bread, a bag of potatoes, a can of chickpeas.
What do you like best about being vegan?
I am vegan for ethical reasons. I am very glad I made that decision and I try to live my life as cruelty-free as possible. Knowing to have made the right decision and not having to make excuses anymore for consuming animal products is what I like best about being vegan.
What is your least favorite defensive-omnivore question/argument?
I don’t get that much negative feedback. Most people are curious about my lifestyle and their questions are honest. I’ve not always been vegan and I remember that I asked the same questions and made the same excuses. Using animals is such a huge part of our culture that it is really difficult for most people to look behind the scenes.
Now, just TRY to restrain yourself from holing up in your apartment for a week, baking all of her recipes, and slipping into the happiest carb-induced coma the world has ever seen. Photo by Mihl, of course.
Vegansaurus interview: Lindy Loo of Yeah, That Vegan Shit! »
Lindy Loo wants you to read her funny-as-hell food blog, Yeah, That Vegan Shit. Perhaps you’ve already heard about it. Just maybe you’re already one of her 660+ followers, a list that has steadily swelled since she started her blog in 2006. Her blog was even featured as one of the ten best vegan blogs by Vegansaurus’ Laura at VegNews. Once you’ve had a steady dose of Lindy’s suggestive and delightfully scatological humor, you will doubtless want to read some of her other stuff, too. She blogs regularly at several sites where she talks about, among other things, being vegan in Cleveland, and “Things that Make [Her] Heart Go Squish.” And did I mention she’s hilarious? And an awesome vegan cook? Her posts are sweet and raunchy and full of useful information for an enterprising (and maybe a little slutty) vegan cook. The archives are an especially good source for everything from recipes (Black Bean and Chocolate Chili…WHAT?) to musings on food that looks like poop. Just click the link titled “Recipes to Make You Scream with Unbridled Pleasure—OH OH OH OH YES YES YES!!!!” Lindy Loo agreed to indulge me in an interview, which I submit for your reading pleasure
Vegansaurus: What inspired you to start a food blog?
Lindy Loo: I thought, “Hey, how can I get laid more often? I know! I’ll start a potty-mouthed vegan food blog!” I mean, who DOESN’T want to immediately shag a chick who’s a vegan, a blog nerd, and likes to talk about poop a lot? I also started the blog because I wanted a kind of self-support that would help me keep on track while I transitioned to vegan. I work better and am more motivated when I have a bit more structure and a constructive way to funnel my energies. Posting and testing out recipes regularly made the transition to vegan much more fun. It also does a world of good to regularly have people post comments because it reminds you that there IS a community out there that loves and supports one another, even if they’re not in your immediate area. So yeah: all that. And the getting-laid thing.
How would you describe your blog?
John Waters meets Robin Swoboda meets vegan cooking?
What motivates you to keep blogging?
The community. I appreciate so much the support and comments from people, and I like the constant reminder that there are like-minded folks out there. I also like to know I’m helping explode the stereotype of the uber-serious, stuffy, judgmental, humorless vegan, and that my blog and recipes have helped make the transition to veganism more enjoyable for newbies. Blogging also keeps me motivated to constantly try out new recipes, which is good ‘cause otherwise I’d probably just eat pizza all the time.
What is your favorite food blog?
To be honest, I haven’t been keeping up with vegan food blogs since my editing job ended last year. BUT that being said, I have always loved Don’t Eat off the Sidewalk. Katie is MAD sassy and funny as hell, and she takes gorgeous food pics. She also likes zombies and horror flicks. I guess I mostly just kinda wanna make out with her and then have her cook me dinner. She’s kind of the vegan Betty to my Don Draper.
In the infamous desert-island scenario, what three food items would you bring with you?
Ha ha ha. This seems like the most futile question ever since they’d get eaten immediately and then you’d still have to resort to sucking the juice out of coconuts. But nonetheless…avocado sushi. For sure. Nothing quite makes my heart pitter-pat like a perfectly constructed bite of avocado sushi. Pesto pasta of some sort would be among my survival gear. I can eat LOADS of that stuff. And then something desserty. Hm. Maybe the Vegan with a Vengeance chocolate chip cookies. Definitely one of my go-to dessert recipes.
What do you like best about being vegan?
I like blowing people’s minds with it. It’s so much fun creating delicious meals or desserts and serving them to unsuspecting folks and then being like, BLAM! YOU’VE BEEN VEGANED!!! It also does a world of good in helping make people realize that eating vegan isn’t all iceberg lettuce salads and raw carrots. That it’s also ooey gooey decadent caramel fudge pies and sexy seitan piccata. I also just really like how being vegan has made me a much better cook. It makes me more resourceful and inventive, and I love the challenge of it, especially when it comes to vegan baking.
Do you have a least favorite defensive-omnivore question? If so, what is it?
My least favorite, defensive-omnivore ARGUMENTS are actually just the ones that omnivores leave on my blog all the time, essentially consisting of a completely disorganized, verbal diarrhea of non-factual vegan-slamming where you can tell they have no ACTUAL idea about the statistics and information they’re spouting off about. I don’t even make an effort to respond to these folks because it’s not worth MY while or their while. Those kind of omnivores make my brain short circuit and make me have to get off the internet immediately so that I don’t randomly start shouting things like “Your mom is a omni-whore” and “If I wasn’t vegan, I’d eat your baby’s face off.”
Any advice for aspiring food bloggers?
When I first started blogging, I had a concerned older female blogger send me an email telling me that maybe I should change the name of my blog and not be so foul-mouthed because I was alienating my readers. Obviously I didn’t take her advice, and my blog has since had more than a million hits, has over 650 followers, and got a nod in VegNews as one of their VegWebmistress’s favorite blogs [Ed.: That’s ME! I love Yeah, That Vegan Shit]. So my advice would be: Write in ways that are true to you and your heart. You’ll be surprised as to how many vegans like a good poop joke.
Marla Wick lives in Sebastopol, a small community in Sonoma County, California, where people never change out of their yoga pants. She spends her time cooking, baking, knitting, and raging about politics when she’s not working as a freelance editor and writer. She blogs about food, animal ethics, cultural politics, and horror movies at Vegan-Squared and Bully Pulp. Photos by Lindy Loo.
North Bay vegan eats: Slice of Life »
I arrived in California 16 months ago after a four-day trip, with two cats, across the country from New York. When we pulled into town, we were disgruntled, like only a five-hour drive through the blizzarding wilds of southern Wyoming in January can make you, and deeply in need of some comfort and quiet. Through some trick of fate, we ended up by the Whole Foods in Sebastopol on that quickly-darkening and drizzly winter evening, having resigned ourselves to a dinner of cold, prepackaged food. Have I mentioned that I’m a total food snob? I am. Then, as we headed into the bright grocery store from the gloom and damp of the parking lot, I spotted a sign on a small restaurant storefront, tucked snugly between a video store and a hair salon. A cursory glance at the menu confirmed my hopes: Pizza. And it was goooood. I’m not going to lie to you.
Slice of Life, Sebastopol’s comfortable little diner, has since become a staple for us. This all-vegetarian restaurant features a varied menu with macrobiotic salads and platters, Mexican, Italian, all-day breakfast, and, of course, pizza. The pizza’s a little pricey. A large with a few toppings and soy cheese will set you back a cool $30. But the crust and sauce are all fresh and homemade, and they have veggie pepperoni! Bring on the fake meats! Of course, one can’t get a $30 pizza every day of the week—if you can, I want to hunt you down and kill you—so we were eventually obliged to explore the rest of the menu.
Unfortunately for you, I’m so single-minded that I order the same things over and over again. Fortunately for you, that means I am completely qualified to sing the praises of the Slice of Life breakfast menu. Particularly wonderful are the Tofu Om-lets. Though (much to my chagrin) available only on weekend mornings, these are tasty and available in a standard configuration of onions, mushrooms, and cheese or as a Greek version of the same with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. They don’t always get the cheese as melty as I’d like it, and believe me when I tell you I am freaking well acquainted with the trials and travails of melting vegan cheese. I suspect that this is due to their exclusive use of Follow Your Heart mozzarella, which is excellent news for the Daiya-haters among us. (I know you’re out there. I don’t understand your ways.)
Should you find yourself at Slice of Life outside the Tofu Om-let window, don’t despair; order the Tofu Rancheros or the Tofu Parmesan. Add soy cheese to either for a paltry sum and relax back into the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with supporting a vegetarian business. And because you’ve only got just the one life to live, you might was well order a pancake or two. That’s right: vegan pancakes. Incidentally, these are also wheat-free for our grain-challenged friends. Then go home and join me in wondering why pancakes aren’t vegan everywhere. It’s SO FREAKING SIMPLE.
Marla Wick lives in Sebastopol, a small community in Sonoma County, Calif., where people never change out of their yoga pants. She spends her time cooking, baking, knitting, and raging about politics when she’s not working as a freelance editor and writer. She blogs about food, animal ethics, cultural politics, and horror movies at Vegan-Squared and Bully Pulp.
Breaking news: vegan travels in Eastern Europe, does not die of starvation! »
Vegan traveling can be rough. A two-week trek through Peru five years ago left me exhilarated by the stunning beauty of the Andes and Machu Picchu but at least 10 pounds lighter. Seriously, I starved. I like to think I survived due to the twin graces of those lovely Hare Krishnas who own the Govinda’s chain of vegetarian restaurants, and beer—it’s like liquid bread! I was bracing for a similar experience in Bulgaria. In addition to mastering the Cyrillic alphabet and learning enough rudimentary Bulgarian to mitigate my tourist buffoonery, I was not heartened to read this from Lonely Planet:
Vegetarianism remains an alien concept to most Bulgarians, but it’s relatively easy to follow a meat-free diet here. On the down side, variety may be lacking and those with an aversion to cheese may find their options very limited…. Omelettes, vegetarian pizzas, and pasta dishes are common, but note that ‘vegetarian’ meals may simply mean that they include vegetables (as well as meat) or fish. Sometimes this designation doesn’t seem to mean anything at all. Vegans will have a much harder time.
The authors go on to describe a series of Bulgarian dishes they assume are what I, as the frantic vegan researcher I am, want to hear about. All but one of these involve cheese or eggs or eggs and cheese together. Fried cheese! Scrambled eggs with cheese! Cheese fried and stuffed with egg, then baked in more cheese! Okay, I’m kidding about that last one, but would you really know? I think not.
The internet was about as helpful as the Lonely Planet guys, which is to say, NOT. A search for “vegan Bulgaria” yields a bunch of forums in which nervous-sounding vegans plead for advice on what they’ll be able to eat during their visit. So you will forgive me for thinking I was about to starve. I was totally psyched to see the Balkan landscape, the Black Sea, the grand cathedrals and mosques, the rolling hills through which the Thracians (did someone say Spartacus? Bad. Ass.) once roamed. But I thought I was going to starve. On the off chance that anyone reading this is preparing for a trip to Eastern Europe generally, or Bulgaria specifically, I want to urge you to take heart! Bulgaria is a beautiful country, more than worthy of an extensive trip to linger in the university cafés of Plovdiv and be hypnotized by the insanely blue waters of the Black Sea and look at ruins and fortresses and monasteries until your eyes bleed. As a bonus, I am here to testify that not only is it totally possible to find vegan food in Bulgaria, but it is not the “alien concept” our friends at Lonely Planet say it is. Maybe things have changed dramatically over the last couple of years since they joined the EU, or maybe the folks at Lonely Planet don’t give a shit about the plight of vegan travelers. (Hint: They totally don’t.)
In addition to a host of meat and meat products, prepared in just about every way my tiny brain could fathom—and then some, almost every Bulgarian restaurant also offers some kind of boiled, roasted or barbecued vegetables. Additionally, nuts are ubiquitous. There are other dishes that show up on almost every menu, like risotto, but I personally fall in line with Captain Marty’s skepticism about soup, and I feel like it applies equally to cooked grains of any description. All any intrepid and enterprising vegan needs to know—I think this may apply equally to almost any language (correct me if I’m wrong, you cosmopolitan vegan travelers of the world)—is the word for “without” along with the words for “meat,” “meat stock,” “butter,” “eggs,” “cheese,” and the like. I know that right now you may be feeling overwhelmed. That’s a lot of words, right? But what else are you doing with your brain while you aren’t learning how to order food in Bulgarian? Go forth and starve not.
Vegetarian hot pot in Bansko. After asking for a completely vegetarian meal, the server told me that this dish was “for me.” My mother’s cheese-drenched Shopksa salad is in the background. I would hate to give you the impression that Bulgarians, unlike Americans, don’t drench every item of food in cheese. ‘Cause they totally do. Especially salad.
The bean-stuffed baked potato in Sofia was vegan when they left off the no-doubt copious layer of shredded cheddar cheese. Those bits on top that are maybe making you suspicious are actually very thinly sliced, caramelized onion. Complete protein was a bit challenging, so I was ecstatic after locating this dish.
Barbecued vegetables in Burgas. These were perfectly cooked and so delicious that I insisted on returning to this restaurant three of the four nights we spent in this seaside university town.
Marla Wick lives in Sebastopol, a small community in Sonoma County, California, where people never change out of their yoga pants. She spends her time cooking, baking, knitting, and raging about politics when she’s not working as a freelance editor and writer. She blogs about food, animal ethics, cultural politics, and horror movies at vegan-squared.blogspot.com and www.bullypulp.com.