Vegansaurus NYC: Muffins in Union Square! »
Fuckyeahmuffinphotoshoot! There’s a farmers market in Union Square and I passed one stand called Body and Soul (on the west side between 16th and 17th streets) that had all kinds of vegan treats! Including chocolate muffins! And blueberry corn muffins! I got one of each! They had some other muffins, a few cookies and some empanada-looking things. The muffins I got were super good. I actually preferred the blueberry corn muffin even though the other was, you know, CHOCOLATE. I must say that both muffins were kind of dry but I don’t mind that—I kind of prefer that. But I am a soda biscuit fan so it makes sense.
Look what I noticed during the photoshoot though, sad muffin!:
Don’t be sad, Mr. muffin! Well, he’s not sad anymore. Because he’s dead! Bwahahaha! Poor sad, dead muffin.
We’ve heard from a Friend of Vegansaurus (Hi Karin!), that there are now three flavors of vegan cupcakes available at Cako in Union Square. The three flavors are red velvet, double chocolate, and mocha. HELLO! Karin tried the double chocolate and said it was pretty damn good. Has anyone else been there?! It seems like it might be a good stop after dinner at Golden Era or Lahore Karahi. It’s on O’Farrell at Powell (right off BART! Yes!) and open everyday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., so you Tenderloin-living fat-asses can get your vegan cupcakes pretty much all the time (except between 9 p.m. and 10 a.m., which is fine because those are good times to stay indoors in your neighborhood. That is funny because you live in a crack den lolz!).
UPDATE 10/11/10: Vegan cupcakes are only available special order through Cako now!
Why hello, vegan pumpkin cheesecake from Loving Hut in the Westfield Mall in SF. Vegan mall cuisine combines my two great loves: hot plate buffet-style food and mall shopping. What can I say? I’m white trash through and through.
Other treats available include fresh spring rolls, Philly cheesesteaks, and Thai iced teas. Yes, please!
As previously reported, a Loving Hut is coming to Union Square. Lo and behold, that fucker is in Westfield Mall. One shopping spree at H&M followed by vegan feast at delicious cult restaurant, coming up!
[Thanks for the pic, Tessa!]
Vegansaurus NYC: Pure Food and Wine! »
Here I am, still on my East Coast holiday. I went up to New York to visit my big brother and while I was there my sister, my sister-in-law, my sister-in-law’s sister (what do you call your sister-in-law’s sister? She’s my brother’s sister-in-law but I don’t think she’s mine. There’s no word for it! Wacky English language!) and I went to Pure Food and Wine in Manhattan. It’s a pretty swank raw vegan (some items have honey but they’re marked) restaurant in Union Square. OMG the last time my sister-in-law was at Pure Food and Wine, Gisele was there! The model! OMG! You starfucker.
The food was pretty damn good. Raw isn’t always my favorite because while I’m not a meat-and-potatoes kind of girl, I am a bread-and-potatoes kind of girl. There’s not much of that at a raw place. But the menu here was pretty impressive; it was hard to decide what to order. For starters, my sis-in-law got a papaya salad that she loved. I got a super-delicious frisee salad that had some tasty pears and stuff in it, and I’m not that into salads. I’m a picky eater! Don’t you hate when you don’t want to eat something and people are like, “but it’s vegan…” like you’ll eat anything that’s meat- and dairy-free! Jeez louise. I guess this is kind of an aside. Back to our regularly scheduled program!
For the entree I had this pretty crazy pickled-beet ravioli thing pictured above, officially titled “Sweet Pickled Beet and Rosemary Cashew Chèvre Ravioli.” It was good. I wasn’t in love with it…but it was good. The chèvre was very tasty but I wasn’t that into the pickled beets. My sister got this enchilada thing that was just some mush but SO GOOD. She’s not vegan at all but she was totally into it.
With dinner, I had a sake mohito and it was the sheezy. All their cocktails were sake-based. Does anyone know what that’s about? I didn’t ask our waiter. He had a ponytail. Those are unrelated thoughts.
The desserts were really good. There was a lot of ice cream and sorbet, as well as a few cake-like items. My sis-in-law got the assorted sorbet dessert. It was very pretty and very yummy and we all shared it with her (AND got our own desserts. You know how we do!). That’d be a good dessert to share if you didn’t all want to get your own thing. I got the mint chocolate sundae. It was AWESOME. It had three kinds of ice cream, all very delicious. My sister got that too and she liked it a lot.
All in all, banging! If you couldn’t guess, it was very expensive. If you can afford it, it’s definitely worth checking out. It would be a great date place, it’s got kind of a romantic atmosphere—reds, dark woods, romantical lighting—but still relaxed.
[photos by Megan Rascal]
SF Chefs. Food. Wine. [sic] »
This long weekend—beginning Thursday evening and pushing on through Sunday afternoon—a multitude of local “food stars” (I don’t seem to have the vocabulary for this event, or at least to be able to say things like “food stars” without “can you believe I’m writing this nonsense” quotation marks.) will converge on Union Square for the 2009 SF Chefs. Food. Wine. [sic] event. Vegansaurus, loving food, has pored over the schedule for you to see if any of the events might be veg-friendly, and while nothing is explicitly labeled as such, there are a few seminars with potential. However (over-)pricey ($150-per-day), we want you to feel prepared. What follows is the Vegansaurus official SFCFW09 preview/guide; all quotes are direct from the SFCFW site.
10 a.m. Culinary Luminaries: A discussion with Martin Yan and Georgeanne Brennan, Bay Area “legends.” Yan Can Cook but not right now.
10:30 a.m. Cocktails Get in the Mix: learn about and taste “basic ‘families’ of cocktails,” and Bay Area-style cocktails and culture
10:30 a.m. Mixology 101: Learn about and taste, um, basic cocktails and so on. SFCFW is all about getting you sloshed before lunchtime if you aren’t in it for the m/eats.
3:30 p.m. Desserts and Sips with the Stars: a demo focusing on seasonal ingredients, plus tasting.
4 p.m. Chocolate Chronicles: an “interactive chocolate experience” demo/lecture plus tasting. There is the possibility of vegan confections, as proper dark chocolate is vegan by default.
4 p.m. Biodynamic Wines: Presumably filtering wine through fish bladders is not biodynamic, but I am no vintner.
4 p.m. Green Cocktails: as in, organic ingredients and “green business practices.”
4 p.m. As Seen on TV: competition: Jamie Lauren (Top Chef 5) vs. Chris Costentino (Iron Chef America); you don’t eat anything, and you can think about how Jamie Lauren used to be a vegetarian and her veg dishes on Top Chef, which if you’ve been to a booze seminar might lead to some heckling not that Vegansaurus endorses that sort of behavior.
10 a.m. Culinary Matriarchs: A panel discussion including Annie Somerville of Greens, the first vegetarian fine-dining restaurant in the country. No matter how you feel about milk, Greens earned a lot of respect for (relatively) cruelty-free dining, and that is a thing.
10 a.m. Green on Reds and Whites: Taste wines from new regions and grapes with Michael Green of Gourmet magazine. Most of the maybe-veg-friendly events are boozey. Watch your filings.
10 a.m. Pizza Toss: “learn and taste how these…styles of pizza come to be” with “experts” from Delfina, Pizzaiolo, and Grand Cafe. Pizza—crust, sauce, fresh basil—was originally vegan, and the modern crust certainly ought to be. WHO KNOWS?
10:30 a.m. Pinot Envy: learn about/taste pinot noirs from different Northern California terroirs. Usual wines-may-contain warning applies. Christ these puns are tired.
10:30 a.m. Agave Academy: a “tequila ambassador” explains why “100 percent blue agave tequila” is the best, ever; learn its history, methods of production, &c. Because 10:30 on Saturday morning is exactly when you want to taste tequila.
3:30 p.m. Views on Reviews: Irritating and/or irrelevant reviewers such as Nish from Yelp, San Francisco Magazine’s food editor, and writers from Tablehopper and the Marin Independent Journal “share their insider secrets” on how/what it’s like to be a food critic. I only put this in to point out its inessentiality.
3:30 p.m. Bayside Brews: the SF Brewers Guild discusses past/present/future of local beer production, plus tasting. All the breweries listed on Barnivore are safe,
3:30 p.m. SF Cocktail History: Learn about and sample cocktails popular in the pre-prohibition city. Oh if only there were a guarantee these cocktails were vegan.
3:30 p.m. Chefs in the Garden: “Tips and secrets that will take you from the earth to the plate,” though technically animals walk the earth, so there’s no guarantee this will be a vegetarian event. It sounds good, but don’t abandon your inner skeptic just yet.
3:30 p.m. Old Vine Zinergy: Learn about/taste “the world’s oldest zinfandel vines,” some of which are over 100 years old, and all of which grow in California. Caveat drinker.
3:30 p.m. As Seen on TV: Jennifer Biesty vs. Ryan Scott (both of Top Chef 4) discuss being on TV and which of those TV dishes they especially loved. Then they are awarded a cookware set. Doesn’t sound like anyone will force meat down your throat, but neither does it sound interesting in the least.
3:30 p.m. Catch a Sonoma Cab: in Sonoma County vintners are trying to replicate Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon blends, which “are influenced by” their environment. Blah wine isinglass egg whites blah.
3:30 p.m. Molecular Cocktails: “GELS FOAMS PEARLS AND MISTS”!!! Boba tea is vegan, so maybe some of this stuff will be too.
10 p.m. to 2 a.m. CHOCOLATE ENCHANTMENT
Featured chef: Jean-Francois Houdre; plus, “several of San Francisco’s famous chocolatiers” who go unnamed. Also, cocktails and wine. There could be some vegan things but who can say.
10 a.m. Heirloom Seeds: seminar on flavors, advantages, importance of cooking with “traditional varieties of plants known as heirlooms” with Daniel Patterson of Coi and a “seed preservationist.” You cannot as yet raise an animal from a seed, so this one may well be veg-friendly. Although it could be all, Here are some delicious heirloom vegetables LET US FRY THEM UP WITH LARDONS.
10 a.m. Sunday Bloody Sunday: Offensive fucking name, nice. but: A lesson on making a bloody mary, both classic and new recipes; also, SKYY VODKA-sponsored build-your-own-bloody-mary bar.
10 a.m. The Perfect Pull: How to source, roast, prepare the best coffee ever. Includes a representative from mortal enemy Blue Bottle Coffee, so you can go, but not with our blessing.
noon to 3:30 p.m. GRAND TASTING: Industry Focus
If you’re going to attend the GRAND TASTING any day, go Sunday, because Eric Tucker will be there. Doesn’t say if he’s cooking, but he is listed in the “local chef lineup.”
3:30 p.m. Diner’s School: “some of the country’s top restaurant stars…reveal the secrets and unwritten rules of a successful service exchange,” i.e., you have no manners, please stop embarrassing your country and yourselves in nice restaurants here and abroad.
3:30 p.m. Seductive Syrahs: Learn about/taste this “rising star” in Northern California vineyards. Hey did you know that thing about fish in wine?
3:30 p.m. Alsace in Anderson Valley: Learn about/taste white wines made in Mendocino County from Alsatian varietals.
One caveat: This event is sponsored by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, which has opposed the citywide health insurance program, Healthy San Francisco, since its inception in 2006. GGRA objects to Healthy San Francisco’s requiring restaurant owners with 20 or more employees to contribute to their employees’ health care. If you attend, maybe wear a big, passive-aggressive Healthy San Francisco button or similar; that’ll definitely prove your point.
Le Colonial: a place for compromise! »
Unless you live in a magical family of non-meat-eaters, who raised you meat-free (it happens! I know one such family, eating at their house is THE BEST), you are probably related to omnivores. And unless you are a horrible person who never learned to grow up and stop having a fit every time a family member ate something that offended your vegan sensibilities (which, come on guys, are we still 18?), then you are going, from time to time, have to choose a restaurant that allows your family to eat animals and that provides enough vegan food that you won’t have to be little lord/lady picky-picky vegan, all asking for the whatever dish without half its ingredients and can the salad come with extra nuts maybe please? Because that can get embarrassing, too, when you’re just trying to have a nice, quiet family dinner, maybe celebrate a nice occasion, show your parents you’re a grown-up person who can conduct herself like an adult now, and you have to demand that the chef rearrange half the whole menu so your parents can pay too much for what will undoubtedly be three courses of vegetables with sauce.
Lucky for us, there is Le Colonial, a glorious mix of unabashed orientalism—the cuisine is “French Vietnamese”—and (mostly) unpretentious food. We were there the other night (note: open Mondays! Family-friendly!) for Joel’s parents anniversary; it is a very nice restaurant for an anniversary or similar, grown-up celebrations. I noted a fairly high number of older-dude/younger-lady couples, though maybe it wasn’t so high considering we were in a nice restaurant in the Theater District. As I am not involved with a peer of my father’s, I cannot tell you just where such couples spend time, but I believe Le Colonial is one such place.
There are a few explicitly vegetarian items on the menu [pdf], which by dint of their Vietnamese inspiration are vegan. Joel and I split four of them: the Cha Gio Chay and Bo Bia Chay appetizers, Dau Hu Chay entree, and Cai Bi Trang side. This proved to be plenty of food, and also taught me some Vietnamese, in that I believe that Chay means “roll” or perhaps “rolls,” plural. Yes we ate a lot of rolled food last night.
First, and best, were the Cha Gio Chay, fried “buddha rolls” made of taro, tofu, jicama, and shiitake mushrooms. They’re served with some big leaves of lettuce, and some sprigs of mint and cilantro. You roll up the little hot crispy rolls in the big lettuce leaves, with some mint and cilantro, and dip the whole package in some ponzu sauce, and then you eat it and die of happiness. Tragically, only five come on a plate and they cost $11.
Next we ate the Bo Bia Chay, cold spring rolls filled with tofu, portobello, cucumber, basil, crushed peanuts, and chayote. The best thing about these rolls were the peanut sauce that came with them; it was more savory than the average peanut sauce, and was a little spicy, too, which gave the rolls a teeny kick that they quite needed. I also found the wrappers much chewier than they should’ve been, like, unpleasantly rubbery and chewy, though Joel did not.
Le Colonial is a “nice” restaurant, so after our first courses we had a nice break before they brought our entree and vegetable. Dau Hu Chay was “pan-roasted” tofu rolls made layers of seaweed (nori), shiitake, and tofu skin, served over kale and mushrooms in a thick, sweet “soy sauce.” I put “soy sauce” in “quotation marks” because the sauce did not, as far as I could tell, taste anything like shoyu. It had the consistency of tonkatsu sauce, really thick, though significantly sweeter. It was good, just not the most delicious thing I’ve ever had. Paradoxically, while the rolls could’ve used a ladleful less sauce, their vegetable bed majorly benefitted from it all. Oh, they were delicious, better than the rolls, and they rolls were pretty tasty.
Cai Bi Trang, our extra side dish, was also good. When given the choice I do not generally choose baby bok choi, especially when one of the other options is asparagus, but these little bastards were surprisingly appetizing. They were really lightly cooked in soy sauce, with some sliced oyster mushrooms thrown in for extra flavor. They were absolutely the best baby bok choi I’ve ever eaten.
Of course I wanted dessert, but Le Colonial’s dessert menu was not at all vegan-friendly. Joel’s parents enjoyed their flourless chocolate cake, brought by our waiter for their anniversary. His parents also very much liked their meals, though I will not describe them because who cares about meaty meat dishes we are never going to eat? The point is, you can have a nice dinner here with your family, and everyone can order something, and you can eat without starving or requesting special treatment. It is not the most adventurous cuisine, but it is good, and given the chance I would eat two plates of the buddha rolls all by myself, so if you go, order enough so that you don’t have to share with your family; you know they’re going to want the obviously delicious dishes you’re eating, and oops! they can’t share theirs with you, HA HA. Besides, they are paying for it.