Bring Vegan Ice Cream in Oakland: Curbside!  »

There are few things as implicitly good as an ice cream cone on a warm summer’s day. It’s one of those restore-your-faith-in-humanity kind of joys. I was lucky enough to sample some vegan offerings from a budding Oakland ice cream business, Curbside Creamery. Curbside is still working on funding to build up their brick and mortar storefront (conveniently located in the Temescal Alley, so hip, so posh), but my friend Riley and I were invited to sample some cones and talk with the owner and proprietor, Victoria “Tori” Wentworth.

 While Curbside will have both dairy and vegan options, Tori was inspired to open up her business after visiting the all-vegan powerhouse of deliciousness, Lula’s Sweet Apothecary in New York. Having a delectable vegan option was a high priority to Tori, based both upon her own politics and the dietary preferences of some close friends. “In my personal life, I’ve been vegetarian since 2006, due mostly to a heightened awareness of where meat comes from (or rather what it goes through) these days. Many of my friends over the years have been vegan, so the realities of that diet have always been part of my life in a big way. That’s why I was aware of the real lack of good vegan options… We all know that buying ice cream in a pint from the store is NOT an equal experience to going to a shop with your friends and getting a fresh scoop on a cone.”

While Curbside’s exact process is a trade secret, Tori worked very hard to ensure a good vegan product, toiling with the cashew-base base of the ice cream until she got it just right. Whatever she’s doing with the cashews, it works. We sampled the Valrhona Chocolate and the Chai Tea. Both were a perfect balance of sweet and creamy, and were a delight to eat out of Curbsides mobile tricycle stand. In the future, Tori will cycle through flavors so every concoction will ultimately have a dairy and a vegan version. Curbside also takes cross-contamination very seriously, and has designated scoops and cleaning tubs. This is both for vegans wanting to avoid animal residue and people who come in with nut allergies.

For updates on Curbside visit their website. If you are dedicated to the principal of helping to open a great vegan-friendly ice cream shop right in Temescal, consider donating to their Kickstarter.

Courtney Flynn lives in Oakland and spends way too much time inventing vegan recipes, reading science fiction and crocheting hats for her dog Blender. She sometimes remembers to update her blog, where she likes to write about food, restaurants and products that don’t suck.


Scream Sorbet now has ice cream sandwiches!  »

Scream Sorbet, who we love, is now serving vegan ice cream sandwiches! And they are hella tasty GET UP ON THIS. I think they might only be available at their store, but it’s well worth going to a farmers’ market location to check and ask. ALWAYS BE ASKING FOR MORE DELICIOUS VEGAN OPTIONS! Where there’s demand, there’s supply! Or, at least we can hope and dream and ask some more and maybe one day that will be the case! Besides, the worst thing that can happen is that you show up at a farmers’ market and all they have is their DELICIOUS SORBET*. Boo fucking hoo!

*please note, I am not normally a fan of sorbet, the poorest excuse for vegan dessert that’s ever been excused, but Scream Sorbet is different. They have amazing flavors that are rich, creamy, and deliciously divine. Get up in it!


Sura Korean BBQ: Oakland’s unlikely gem of vegan awesomeness  »

Once upon a time I was walking down Telegraph Avenue in Temescal with a friend when we passed this restaurant that I would never in a zillion years have chosen. But this certain meat-eating person was like, “Oooh, Korean BBQ! Let’s go there!” and since I wasn’t really hungry I was like, “OK fine, whatever you want, friend-from-out-of-town, I will go sit with you and try not to grimace.” We sat down, ordered (seemingly) overpriced appetizers, and sat back to wait. Then Sura changed my life.

You know how some restaurants give you bread or chips and salsa to munch on before your meal? Here, they’re like, “Bread, schmead, let’s give people 18, maybe 21 different little side dishes to eat while they wait for their food.” Free. Without you ordering them. Each different, each incredibly yummy. We felt like we’d won the lottery or something.
The little dishes change often so you never know what you’re going to get, but can include pickled vegetables, spicy tofu, black sesame squash, sprouted mung beans, seaweed salad, kim chi, etc., etc., etc.

I’ve been there three times now, and though they don’t explicitly cater to vegans, with a little work a mind-blowing meal can be yours. UPDATE: This may be trickier than I thought. Fish sauce is a hidden challenge, sorry guys. Still, I think it’s worth trying to navigate, but do so at your own risk I suppose. Here are my pro-tips:

  1. Tell them right away, as soon as you walk in/sit down, that you don’t want any meat or egg dishes (dairy doesn’t seem to be so much of a problem). Every time I’ve been there they’ve brought out a weird hot-pot egg dish without asking. My omni friends ate it but you can Just Say No.
  2. You don’t need a barbecue table. Sit far away from them, as that is where people grill raw meat. Ick.
  3. When you order, tell them again about the vegan thing and make sure they don’t bring you any small plates with egg or meat. The vast majority of what they bring out is vegan anyway, and I’ve had them bring me EXTRA vegan stuff. Just be clear. UPDATE: MAKE SURE TO ASK ABOUT FISH SAUCE TOO! FISH SAUCE WARNING ALERT WARNING!
  4. While there’s no separate veggie section on the menu, they put little stars next to everything they can make vegetarian. Some things come with egg but they’ve been really good about following my requests to leave it out.
  5. Ask for barley tea.

The food is awesome:
Sanchae sotbap/herbed vegetables—
herbed vegetables and mushrooms over rice

Doenjang bibimbap/House special green tea bean paste—seasoned vegetables with green tea rice and soybean paste. SO GOOD!

Other delicious things I’ve eaten but don’t have photos of:

  • Hyunmi doenjang bibimbap/sweet brown rice—seasoned vegetable with sweet brown rice and soybean paste, cold.
  • Beoseot/mushroom—tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables in hot pot. SO GOOD!

Sura Korean BBQ is located at 4869 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland, and is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. No website, but call (510) 654.9292.

Bonus: Sura’s only a few blocks from Scream Sorbet’s new shop. Waddle over for dessert, if you can manage.


Guest review: Sacred Wheel in Oakland! VEGAN GRILLED CHEESE, Y’ALL  »

Even though I’d heard that Sacred Wheel offered vegan grilled cheese on Sundays, I was a little nervous about seeking out vegan food in a gourmet cheese shop. I had already imagined the eye-rolling response when I sheepishly asked about a vegan option and the ultimate disappointment it was sure to be.

Holy Sheese on a cracker, being wrong never tasted so good.

Not only did the friendly employees at Sacred Wheel not bat an eye when I asked about vegan options, they proceeded to make me the yummiest panini-style grilled Sheese sandwich ever! The shop’s grilled cheese of the day was a mozzarella-style dairy-free cheese with sundried tomato pesto. My beau and I arrived near closing and even though they’d long since sold out of the daily special, they offered us a regular cheddar-style grilled cheese. They had two vegan soups of the day to go along with their “Sunday Vegan Sunday” theme, a tofu tabouli that was amazingly filling and a TBR (tomato soup with PBR!) that was peppery and perfect for sandwich-dipping. We got a cup of soup and a giant sandwich each, which came out to about $20 all together. I happily ate the whole thing while dancing in my chair and humming “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”

The shop is adorable, very well laid-out, and seemingly able to accommodate a lunch rush with a giant picnic table, window/counter seating, and some little tables out front. We were lucky enough to get to chat with the owner, Jena, who was awesome. For being a store that specializes in gourmet cheese, Sacred Wheel has an impressive vegan selection. In addition to a few different kinds of Sheese, Sacred Wheel carries local tofu products made by Oakland’s Hodo Soy. There’s also a whole case of imported oils and a huge assortment of jams, jellies, and mustards.

Jena said she’d ultimately like to offer a vegan option every day, which means we should probably go in every Sunday to remind her that vegans in Oakland are desperate for more lunch options in Temescal. Because if I have to eat another slice of Lanesplitter pizza before it’s too early in the day to justifiably have a beer, I’m going to scream. (And then order a beer.)

Sacred Wheel is located at 4935 Shattuck Ave. in Oakland, Sunday through Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Courtney Flynn lives in Oakland and spends way too much time inventing vegan recipes, reading science fiction and crocheting hats for her dog Blender. She sometimes remembers to update her blog where she likes to write about food, restaurants and products that don’t suck. This is her second review for us. Thanks, Courtney!


Guest review: Homeroom in Oakland!  »

After hiding inside for hours, the boyf and I decided that we couldn’t think of anything more appropriate for a gray and shitty day like today than a hot bowl of mac ‘n cheese. So we used it as an excuse to try out the brand spankin’ new Homeroom mac ‘n cheese restaurant in North Oakland.

We first noticed a line down the block. While debating whether we should try it out after the opening weekend crowd, an adorable old lady came out and told us to go in and make sure to try the vegan plate. “It’s actually delicious!” Actually nothing lady, now I’m getting into that damn restaurant come hell or high gutter water. We perused the menu in the forty minutes we waited for a table and noticed that Homeroom offers a wine and micro-brew suggested pairing for every type of mac n’ cheese, which I think is awesome (In case you were wondering, Rasputin Imperial Stout is evidently best for vegan mac.)

We finally got a table and everyone at our table ordered the homemade root beer, which ended up tasting way more like cream soda, or maybe a melted Coca-Cola Icee. After waiting quite some time for our server and then even more time for our food, we were getting a little cranky. A few 127 Hours jokes later, the food showed up and we barely let the bowls of steaming mac n’cheese touch the table before we started digging in like a rusty pocket knife into a femur.

Boyf and I both got the one vegan option, while our dining companions opted for the Trailer Mac (hot dogs, mac, and chips, eww) and the Egg and Bacon Mac (super-eww). Ours definitely looked the best, with thick nooch-based sauce (heavy on the salt and dijon) topped with chopped walnuts in lieu of bread crumbs. I had no complaints about the food. It was creamy, salty and nutty, just like a vegan mac should be and the portion size was more than enough for me. However, the entire experience really went downhill when we got our check. For four root beers and four plates of mac, the total ended up almost $60 after tip. This seemed pretty steep for a food that I can make with both my eyes closed and one hand firmly gripped around a bottle of Jameson. Homeroom does offer a frequent dining card, but you have to eat 10 bowls of mac before you’ve earned a free one.

This probably means that I’m going to treat this Homeroom like I’ve treated all my other homerooms” I’m glad I showed up for the first day, but I probably won’t be back very often.

Courtney Flynn lives in Oakland and spends way too much time inventing vegan recipes, reading science fiction and crocheting hats for her dog Blender. She sometimes remembers to update her blog where she likes to write about food, restaurants and products that don’t suck.


Scream Sorbet opens in Oakland! A field report from the amazing (and intoxicated) Megan!  »

Megan of Such a Vegan and Sugar Beat Sweets fame is adorable and delightful and also, DRIZ-UNK! That’s just how we like our adorable and delightful ladies! We got this field report (read: email) from her letting us know about the opening of Scream Sorbet's storefront in Oakland (that stuff is delicious!) and I’m just gonna print the email in its entirety because I love it very much and it’s filled with useful info! BAM:

LAURA!!!!! I was getting Lanesplitters with a friend tonight in Temescal, hence the terrible typing as I am super drunk, but I was all ready to go home on my bike and shit when I saw a HUGE sign at the corner of Telegraph and 51st, that said SCREAM SORBET and I straight up screeched on my brakes and locked up my bike again and ran in there like “OMG YOU HAVE A STOREFRONT” and the girl at the counter was like, we do!  And I was like HOLY SHIT! And she was like, I know! They have little 12oz. containers of the ice cream (no scoops yet), and cookie sammiches. Sadly, the cookies are not vegan, BUT in the future once their store is more open-like (it is straight-up bare in there so far but has SO MUCH potential to be SUPER CUTE OMG) they’re going to have vegan cookie sammiches, and gluten-free (GF) cookie sammiches, and VEGAN GF cookie sammiches! My little gluten-intolerant heart was overjoyed. I seriously walked out of there wanting to give a hug to every panhandler in Temescal—which, btdubs, is straight-up Berkeley, I don’t care what zip code it is or whatever, Temescal is so Berkeley. It’s like diet Berkeley, because there’s still panhandlers and graffiti, but still Berkeley. I almost got hit by like three Mercedes (Mercedeses?) riding my bike there WTF why are cyclists maligned for doing something good?! But anyway! The girl at the counter was super duper nice and I bought some kettle corn sorbet (OMG WHUT how is that even possible) which is so goddamn amazing I cannot even begin to describe. My commute is exactly 2.8 miles there and that will be calories WELL EARNED.
But like, it’s totally worth it to go all the way up there, because it’s right by Lanesplitters, and Burma Superstar! VEGAN DATE!!!
OK. I wanted to share. They’ve been open for two days apparently. Also no pic of the store because I was too busy telling the girl how all the vegans in SF Bay Area were gonna be flocking to that shit pronto!!!!  She seemed sorta confused but happy!!
<3 Megs

p.s. I almost forgot!!!!! Lanesplitters has vegan sausage now!!!!! I got it and it was pretty good!!!!

Amazing, right? Adorable, right? Also, she got Kettle Corn flavor (love their crazy flavors! They are somehow delicious) and here’s what the cute-ass tub of it looks like:

Let’s all go this weekend! See you THERE!

[this report has been edited very minimally for clarity]


Review: Lanesplitter Pizza & Pub!  »

Lanesplitter is a local pizza-and-beer chain in the East Bay that serves up some fantastic thin-crust vegan pizza. It’s not made with a traditional fake cheese, instead it’s like a ricotta style tofu mixture…sounds fucked but is actually pretty damn good. They have lots of veggies to choose from and everything mixed up tastes amazing. They also have vegan calzones which make a good grab-and-go item if you call ahead. The vegan eggplant bake is heaven for everyone.

I rarely eat in because the staff consists of incompetents, assholes, and incompetent assholes. I am told that their house-made micro-brews are pretty good but they just taste like beer to me. I dunno. Are you so fancy that you can tell? I can’t. If you put me in a blind beer taste test, I’d be able to recognize two beers: Bud Light, and everything else. I’d be taking shot after shot of beer, yelling out, “nope!”, “nope!”, “Bud Light!”, “nope!” Actually, that sounds like a lot of fun. Is anyone in? You buy the beer! Email me! So anyway, all their microbrews are on tap but if you want to enjoy them, you have to drink there. Apparently Lanesplitter (and Johnny Law) don’t trust me to leave my pint of fancy brew untouched on the ride home. They are smart.

[photos via yelp]

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