Berkeley! On September 28, there’s a Vegan Sandwich (FINE, Sammich) throwdown and you should go there to eat all the sandwiches and vote on them and then eat some more. MAKE IT HAPPEN, SF BAY AREA! You eat those sammiches!!!
(Also, the same folks are putting on a vegan iron chef event in February and they want home chefs to compete! You should totally apply here!)
Spreads NY brings vegan flavors to the Park Avenue lunch crowd! »
So I started a new job a few weeks ago. One morning I went to Spreads, a little sandwich place right across the street from my new office (30th and Park), and low and behold! A vegan earl grey donut! I said to myself, “is this real life?” And it was! I bought one of course.
It was tasty! It tasted less like a donut and more like lemony pound cake. Luckily, I love pound cake. It’s also gluten free, which I know some of you will like.
Obvi I had to tell the vegan world about my new discovery and I tweeted a pic on our Twitter account. Next thing I know, Spreads emailed me inviting me to come try all of their vegan goodies! I obliged, because I’m a sweetie.
Above is the coconut bacon and avocado sandwich. It’s a show stopper! It was our favorite item we tried. It’s rich though, I could only eat half. But the salty and sweet coconut bacon goes lovely with the avocado. It also has vegan mayo they make themselves—yum!
This is the split pea soup we tried. Two thumbs up! But I love split pea soup. I feel like it’s finally on the rebound since the Exorcist debacle. This had a hint of dill, which was interesting.
Finally, we got to try one of their juices! I’m not a big juice person but I actually found this refreshing. Strong cucumber flavor. Kind of tasted like gazpacho? Maybe I’m being cray.
We also met the owner—what a dream! SO passionate about food. And I love that the one vegan sandwich on their menu is a wacky coconut bacon sandwich instead of just like a veggie burger or generic veggie wrap like we’re usually offered. No, Spreads went all out! Of course I want everywhere to have a million vegan sandwiches but if you’re only going to have one, it’s really cool when it’s something exciting like this. OMG and did I forget they make the coconut bacon themselves? They smoke it with organic apple wood or something—totes intense!
If you are in the area looking for a yummy lunch, this is the place for you! Matter of fact, call me and we’ll split one! You’ll have to get your own donut though. I need a whole one! I’m no fool.
NYC Review: Blossom du Jour in Chelsea! »
Blossom restaurants in New York invited Megan and I to try their newest outpost, Blossom du Jour Chelsea!
Megan: It’s a fast-food kind of place. Not like Foodswings with all the (delicious, delicious) junk food, but it seems like mostly a place you’d grab a sandwich to go. They do have some cafe tables that we took to eat.
Meave: It’s a nook. An adorable nook. If I worked or lived around here, I’d pop in all the time, but it’s not a place that looks designed to linger at.
Megan: We decided to try one of their many sandwiches. It was a tough choice but we powered through. Now behold, The Avocado Griller: ”in-house grilled rosemary lemon un-chicken, fresh avocado, v-pesto mayo, crisp romaine lettuce” (note, ours pictured below is on ciabatta). The first thing I did was immediately drop half the sandwich on the floor because I’m the super genius. But when I took a bite of the second half, I ‘bout died. SO GOOD. In my non-veggie days (2000? Wow), I used to enjoy chicken and avocado sandwiches and it was totally like that BUT WITH PESTO! And yummy bread! So, yeah, this sandwich is amazing. I want to eat it everyday. Oh and they deliver! But just a block short of my office. *Sad face*
Look at this and tell me you’re not dead:
Meave: I ate the protected innards of the fallen sandwich, because I have no class. Megan’s right, it was amazing. I would’ve added tomato and pepperoncinis, but I’m impossible to please. The pesto and avocado combo is pretty unbeatable, though, so rich and creamy.
Megan: We also got this chickpea and quinoa salad. I just don’t love salads (“a vegan who doesn’t like salad?! What the whaaa?” —my dad) so I wasn’t that excited by it but the dressing was interesting and good.
Meave: It was nice with the dried cranberries hidden in there, chewy little sweet bits of contrast to the mixed greens and tangy dressing. I was surprised to find it in a plastic box in the premade food fridge, but again, this seems like a grab-and-go sort of place, and if you’re in a hurry you don’t want someone making your salad fresh, so it makes sense. And it was a fine salad.
Megan: As we were thirsty, we decided to try one of their special juices. Neither Meave nor I are that into the big juice fad but we decided to try the Pretty In Pink. Lo and behold: it was yummy! Refreshing and not thick or anything like I expect all those healthy juices to be.
Meave: I am not into “juicing” as an “eating alternate” or “ridiculous overpriced nonsense lifestyle,” but I do miss the juicer I left behind when I moved to New York this year, and the cheap, good produce I was constantly putting into it. The pineapple-beet-apple combo is sweet and sour and crisp, very easy to drink.
Megan: They also have all kinds of baked goods! Like chocolate croissants! Damn, son. It wasn’t AS flaky and crispy as I remember regular croissants to be but it was buttery and a bit flaky and chocolaty and YUM.
Meave: Megan was so excited about this croissant! I thought it was pretty good. The chocolate inside was nice and bitter, which was a good contrast to the pastry. I bet it’d be best earlier in the day (we were there at 7:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, not the ideal time to buy morning-fresh baked goods), but it was a solid approximation.
Megan: We tried a red velvet cupcake as well. Tasty! I’m so tired of red velvet cupcakes having just a plain, sugary vanilla frosting instead of cream cheese flavor frosting. This totally had a nice cream cheesy flavor. The frosting was super-sweet but the cupcake part wasn’t so it wasn’t overwhelming. It also had a hint of lemon? I think? If I had to choose, I would get the chocolate croissant over the cupcake but come on, I’d pick the chocolate croissant over oxygen.
Meave: I liked the cake over the frosting, which is pretty unusual for me, as I am a hardcore frosting-only woman. (In small times, I’d eat the unwanted frosting from my friends’ cake at birthday parties.) And while this frosting was plenty good, the cake was better; like Megan says, not as sweet, a good crumb, and the color was pleasant, not creepy or (too) unnatural, which can be a problem with red velvet cake.
Megan: Oh snap I almost forgot! They also have vegan cronuts! We didn’t get to try one because they were out. But next time, lookout cronuts! Imma eat you up!
Megan: All in all, the avocado “chicken” sandwich was my favorite thing. I love it. I want to marry it. I want to marry it and have the chocolate croissant as my maid of honor. I can’t wait to try the other sandwiches! (They have a meatball sandwich and an eggplant parm sub!)
Meave: I will attend that wedding. I will give away the bride, even, if she doesn’t mind marrying a sandwich with some bites taken out of it because there is no better way to express how good that avocado and pesto taste together than devouring it.
Recipe: The Vegan Italian Hoagie! »
Growing up in Philly, I ate plenty of hoagies in my pre-vegan days. Italian hoagies were my jam especially so when I saw that Diaya was coming out with provolone slices, I was like, “this is it! It’s hoagie time!” And god bless me, my vegan hoagie turned out out of control delicious!
You too can make your own Italian hoagie, here are the supplies you will need:
-Italian Amoroso-type roll (I found one at the deli at the regular grocery store—had cornmeal dust and all)
-Vegan mayo (I used Earth Balance)
-Veg salami (I used Viana Velami, got this and the Daiya from Vegan Essentials)
Slice your roll along the side (not the top like crazy Subway) and spread the mayo inside. Place your meat and cheese slices like so:
Then slice your lettuce and onions. BTW this is prob the only time I will ever recommend iceberg for anything. Don’t tear it or anything, the lettuce should be sliced into strips like these:
And I just sliced the onion similarly. Sprinkle ample amounts of lettuce and onion on top of your open sandwich. Then top with pickle slices.
Sprinkle a little of your oil and vinegar on top. Then the salt, pepper, and a dash of oregano.
Ike’s takes Los Angeles! »
Ike’s secured the Westwood spot after a campaign on Facebook that encouraged fans to email the property owner, asking her to rent the space to Ike’s after Subway’s lease expired. It was a risky move that Shehadeh admits could have backfired. “If she was going to get mad, she wasn’t going to rent to us anyway,” he said.
Instead, Shehadeh said, the landlord was impressed when she was flooded with 1,000 emails in favor of Ike’s. Such passion…for a sandwich shop? Soon the deal was signed.
The rest of the article is mostly about James’s relationship with his reportage of the saga of Ike’s in San Francisco, which is significantly less interesting. The point is: Congratulations L.A., the king of vegan sandwiches is coming to you! Viva Ike’s!
[photo by digiyesica via Flickr]
Vegan tortas and pambazos by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats! I have been having the most stressful couple months—2013 is trying to kill me—and all I want is super-hearty, warm, filling food. And this glorious creation? All fried eggplant and avocado and saucy grilled bread? Is like the meal of my dreams. Come to me, sandwich.
[Photo by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]
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, but without being overly meaty, as I know some of you aren’t a fan of faux-meats that are exactly like the real thing. The addition of the wakame powder lends a fishy taste that I would also say is not over the top. It tastes like it’s from the sea, in a natural and light-hearted kind of way!
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 couldn’t have been happier!
The crab cakes are somewhat small, so I thought I could eat all four, no problem. In reality, I could only get through two, because they are deliciously 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!
Cookbook review: Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! »
Celine Steen and Tami Noyes have a new, gorgeous cookbook out called Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!, and because vegan blogging tends to be a mutual admiration society (you’re all so great!), they sent me a copy for review.
It has long been established that the sandwich, in all its many, glorious forms, is the perfect food. But if a good sandwich is as easy as taking your favorite main course and slapping it inside some carbohydrate casing, why would you need a cookbook? I advise thinking of this book as more of an inspiration guide, like reading two inventive ladies’ food-dream journal.
The photos are nearly obscene, they’re so beautiful, and the recipes aren’t terribly daunting. I made four, for research purposes.
Green monster rolls (pp. 178): Easy and delicious! Super garlicky, which I love, plus the boiling step makes a satisfying, chewy crust. I froze a few of my first, less photogenic batch, and plan to defrost them for panade once cold weather returns.
Asian eggplant (pp. 130) on a green monster roll: Girl, this eggplant was to die. TO DIE. Spicy and savory, the sauce was a great foil for my little rosa bianca eggplant. I then used the leftover slaw on my tomato sandwiches for the rest of the week.
Bierocks (pp. 88): The older I get, the more I love cabbage. And sauerkraut. Pickled foods forever! Here, I substituted Soy Curls for the tempeh called for in the recipe, and it turned out smashingly. These we ate with spicy brown mustard, as advised, and oh, they were tremendous. German pierogi!
And for dessert, open-face Bananas Foster cake sandwiches (pp. 168): We used Double Rainbow vanilla soy cream. These were lovely, though I feel like the banana cake was better cut thick, toasted, and spread with vegan butter, probably because I’m not an ice cream superfan.
You can find these recipes, plus 100 more, inside Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!, available at all fine booksellers. You can also find the recipes I followed by searching inside the book on Amazon. For even more food porn, check out Tami’s VSStD photo set on Flickr.
[photos by me; let’s be Instagram pals: @meaverly!]
Restaurant review: Fairfield’s Vegan Paradice is exactly what you want, suburban vegans! »
Solano County is a million times greater now, thanks to Kimberly and Gerald Brown’s delightful cafe, Vegan Paradice. It’s in downtown Fairfield, which I didn’t know was so adorable. Faithful reader Allison tipped us off to it a couple months ago, but it’s only open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and I have three jobs, so when am I free? But I made it this week for lunch, because I am dedicated to you, suburban vegans. Also it’s hot as all get-out and I wanted soft-serve.
My ma ordered the all veggie sandwich ($6.95), with lettuce, tomato, red onions, olives, sprouts, and tons of avocado, on sprouted whole wheat bread with mayo, ketchup, and housemade cucumber relish and must-have sauce. It was so full the avocado fell out in great green pieces, covered in that tangy sauce.
I got the terrific tofu burger ($7.75), with lettuce, tomato, grilled red onion, and sprouts, with the same ketchup, mayo, and housemade must-have sauce and cucumber relish on a sprouted whole wheat bun. It really was terrific! Gerald compared it to a Wildwood tofu patty; it’s housemade, with diced vegetables (including kale!) and cooked to a crispy outside and a sort of scrambley-textured inside. So good, dripping with sauces and that relish, just tremendous.
We were both pretty full, but because we were there for Vegansaurus, I insisted we order the soft-serve as well. It comes in vanilla, carob, and swirl; obviously we ordered swirl, though I was dubious about the carob.
But I was wrong! It was delicious! They make it with a combination of soy and coconut milks, and it’s sweet and creamy, just as soft-serve should be, with a slightly salty finish that makes the flavor more complex than your standard soft-serve. I think. I haven’t had soft-serve yogurt since 2008, and soft-serve ice cream since 2005. Bless you, vegan geniuses, for bringing us the technical and culinary triumph that is vegan soft-serve. This is a small cup ($3.75), by the way, and it’s huge and we couldn’t finish them.
You can read more about Vegan Paradice in this article in the Fairfield Daily Republic; it’s been open all summer, and they are working on expanding their menu and staff—right now it’s just the Browns. They make a lot of their stuff in-house, including almond roca and caramel for the soft-serve. ALMOND ROCA AND CARAMEL FOR THE SOFT-SERVE.
If you live anywhere near Fairfield, or drive past it on your commute, you have got to stop in at Vegan Paradice. It’s going to be hot through September; come for the soft-serve, stay for the burgers. They have vegan meat-and-cheese combinations we didn’t even try! I’ll definitely be back the next time their hours and my time off coincide. Suburban vegans in Northern California finally have a cafe! Let’s help it flourish.
UnFish’Wich! UnFish’Wich! Celine and Tami’s new book, Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day, comes out in a month! It contains 101 sandwich combinations, including this gorgeous UnFish’Wich, and Celine has a few more absolutely amazing photos previewed on Have Cake, Will Travel right now.
Sandwiches are a perfect meal, and I can’t wait to see what brilliance these two wonderful, creative vegan minds have come up with. Sandwiches, oh yeah!