Friday vegan blog link-o-rama!  »

A tour through this week in vegan blogs:

1. The Obligatory Vegan Post—a sweet essay by someone who just started being vegan and is loving it,

2. Sabor de Soledad—is vegan!

3. Amazing Vegan Ice Cream—a blog with such flavors as Barack-y Road (a delicious vegan take on Rocky Road and a nod to our favorite candidate!) and Pumpkin (Pumpkin).

4. Vegan diet good for Type 2 diabetes—DUH.

5. A great endorsement in the New York Times for Prop. 2!—No philosophy can justify this kind of cruelty, not even the philosophy of cheapness. Assholes.

6. Top Five Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets—I would add a George Foreman Grill to the list. Duh.

7. This is bizarre but Banksy is apparently saying something about factory farming—I am not Banksy. Your turn.

And now, our favorite cute animal picture of the week.


[photo by Nigel Treblin/AFP/Getty Images]


Review: Sabra Grill!  »

You climb a narrow staircase to get in here, and the noise from Chinatown/FiDi/Union Square fades away. The walls are covered with Jewish and/or Israeli art/photography/iconography (the Dalí print is a highlight). The owner is a big, friendly, intimidating man. The last time I was there, the waiter’s yarmulke had Mario (as in, one of the Super Nintendo Brothers) embroidered on it.

Important note: They close two hours before sundown on Fridays for the sabbath, and they close for Jewish holidays, too. I recommend checking an online calendar before getting your hopes all up for the food. I have made this mistake, and it’s crushing.

I have eaten there about 10 times now, at first during my painful FiDi lunchbreaks, and most recently with my cousin who had never had falafel before. Sabra probably ruined him, as it is doubtful he will ever find such divine little falafels outside of the Holy Land. The service is not the fastest, but everyone is so polite, and I think the prices are quite reasonable. One of my omnivorous friends got the lamb sandwich, and sang its praises to the heavens.

The lamb, friends, is not what I am here to tell you about.

THIS IS THE BEST FALAFEL I HAVE EVER EATEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. It has ruined me for all other falafels, and I have eaten a lot of balls of fried chickpeas in my life. I had NO IDEA that falafel could be so fucking moist and crispy and delicate and goddamn, just thinking about it has started me salivating like Pavlov’s dog, the falafel is just so fantastic. Not kidding.

If this is the standard, I will never eat any other falafel but Israeli falafel ever again. In this city, it is Sabra or nothing.

But! I completely forgot about my other favorite part of Sabra: the pickles. I am barely a pickle person; sometimes I can choke down a few bites of a sweet pickle, and I generally have no problem with relish in and on the many things you can put it. Real pickley pickles, though, much like raw cherry tomatoes and soft grapes, make me absolutely gag. Biting into one of those things is one of my worst food experiences ever. This is why I like sweet; they’re teeny, unintimidating, pleasant every once in awhile. What Milka is to Lindt 70 percent, so is the sweet pickle to the dill.

Sabra’s pickles are no wussy-baby sweet pickles: they are thick slices of juicy, salty dill pickles that they give you on a plate before bringing you your precious falafel. And I love them. I could, and once almost did, eat myself sick on them. It’s hard to share them. Just these lovely pickle slices in front of you, calling your name. Sabra changed my life, or at the very least, changed my palate.

If you are visiting the city, it is just inside the famous Chinatown gates on Grant Avenue, and after an hour (read: more than one minute) wandering around that neighborhood, an hour of quiet upstairs at Sabra with the city’s best falafel is exactly the remedy for your case of exhaustion/overstimulation. Tip: If you only want a falafel-in-a-pita lunch, order the falafel sandwich. It is not on the big menu, but sometimes they forget to give you the small sandwich menu, so be sure to ask for it.

[external photo by Brett L.]


Recipe: BBQ Pizza!  »

At Vegansaurus we talk a lot about restaurants, but even we can’t eat out every night (especially in these harrowing economic times, blah blah blah). A lot of vegan blogs tend to feature recipes like this or this, a LITTLE out of the reach of everyday eating. So from time to time we will post recipes that are, above all, easy, cheap, and creative, in addition to being delicious. This recipe has exactly two ingredients, and they are both prepackaged and ready to go. Normally I would encourage you to buy local, etc., but this is perfect for when you’re feeling budget-conscious and lazy-conscious.

The Trader Joe’s no-cheese roasted vegetable pizza is exactly the same as the Amy’s brand, it’s simply been repackaged and sold for about $3 less. Gardenburger Riblets are also cheaper at Trader Joe’s than they are anyplace else. (When I first heard of Riblets, I thought maybe it was slang for a 12-year old hooker.* But that’s another story!) All in all, this meal will cost you about six dollars and will serve two people. Moreover, Riblets come two to a box, so you’ll have one left over to use on a sandwich or to give to trick-or-treaters. It might be about $9 or $10 if you buy the ingredients somewhere other than Trader Joe’s. Note that I have also tried putting Follow Your Heart cheese on this pizza to more mundane effect. For some reason the pizza sauce doesn’t really go with cheese.

1 Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Pizza
1 Gardenburger Riblet (half of one package)

1. Preheat oven according to pizza box instructions.
2. Thaw Riblet. You could put it in the microwave for a minute or so, or leave it on the counter while you do your roommate’s dishes or something.
3. Cut Riblet into about eight or so chunks and place evenly around the pizza. Make sure you get all the extra barbecue sauce on the pizza too. If you were really nuts into the Riblet experience, you could try putting BOTH of them on the pizza, but that would probably be overkill—and then what would you give the trick-or-treaters?
4. Cook pizza according to package instructions.
5. The final step in any good recipe is “Enjoy!” and this one is no exception.

*See, because she’s skinny. And the -let suffix suggests something small. Also she’s covered in BBQ sauce and ringing your doorbell Halloween night.

[photo illustration by the author]


Review: Medicine Eatstation  »

At first I thought that I could not find the words to describe how much I loathe stupid Medicine stupid “Eatstation” (it’s not even a word and no I will NOT teach my browser to learn it, as I did my name and the various permutations of “vegan”), but then I discovered that yes, yes I could.

I used to work right next to the Crocker, and I didn’t have to technically leave the building to get to Medicine from my office. Now, if I hadn’t been stuck with shitty insurance* that charged me a zillion dollars for my various medications and therapy, and refused to cover my nutritionist costs even though I have a medical diagnosis that should allow me free nutritionist visits for the rest of my crazy life, I would buy lunch more often. Still, after a year of employment at my that job, I felt as though I’d plumbed the depths of the third-floor food court (OF HELL), including Medicine. In fact, I tried it three times. Why? Because I am incapable of learning my lesson the first time, is why.

Each time I’ve gone, the service has been slow, and the staff at the counter has always been rude. They ignore the customers, they keep one register closed despite an out-the-door line (people, NO, just, go get soup), and two out of three times I’ve seen them stop taking orders to chat with each other. Just flat-out stop working! Christ, it was just terrible.

The food is also BAD. I’ve had their signature Medicine roll, the miso-braised eggplant—which is no longer on the menu—and a cold soba salad, and they were equally yet singularly yucky, not to mention overpriced. The worst offense was the limp, squishy, tasteless soba. My mother, a white lady from south Jersey who now lives in a Bay Area suburb and teaches spinning classes to other suburban white ladies, can make better cold soba salads, and she hasn’t been to Japan since 1984. Truth. [NB: do not be fooled by the picture, that food is the opposite of delicious.]

Also, the prices are astronomical. Wonderful Japanese restaurants like all-vegan Cha-Ya and very-vegan-friendly Minako don’t charge so much for such simple dishes, and when their prices do match Medicine’s, the food is incomparably better.

FURTHERMORE, after a much-ballyhooed temporary closing, Medicine reopened and was no longer vegan, instead serving local, wild-caught, long-lived, guaranteed-happy, volunteered-to-be-murdered-so-honored-were-they-to-be-part-of-Medicine’s-cuisine fish as well. Maybe this isn’t so bad—now it’s not a shitty overpriced pretentious vegan place, it’s just a shitty overpriced pretentious place, so it isn’t contributing to our bad reputation. But no, think of the fish!

The last time I went in, the day of the terrible soba, I waited for 45 minutes for it. I know, right? After all that I still wasted three-quarters of my unpaid-yet-mandated lunch hour waiting to get food I couldn’t even manage to finish once I got it. About 30 minutes in, another front counter girl ended the personal phone call that she’d been engaged in when I arrived, and handed me a “Sorry About the Wait, Let Us Make It Up to You” card, good for a whole 15 percent off my next purchase at Medicine, expiring that Friday. Because of course I was going to come back, I am a stupid, stupid person.

Truth: I did not.

*Never complain about your insurance, because one day you may find yourself with two weeks’ of pills left and zero medical coverage, and then you will miss the days of paying a lot of money for those medications, because whatever “a lot” was, it wasn’t as much as the retail price.

[photo via yelp]


Review: Maggie Mudd!  »

One time when I thought I was giving up sweets for Lent, before I realized that because no one holds me to particular religious beliefs anymore, I don’t have to go through the motions of abiding by the behavioral dictates of a particular time of year (sorry, Jesus; I’m done), my boyfriend took me to Maggie Mudd for one last stomach-filling sugar binge, ostensibly to tide me over until Palm Sunday.

During dinner, I had the aforementioned epiphany, leading my boyfriend to note that this was not getting me out of an enormous ice cream sundae. As if I needed to be talked into it. What’s up, gluttony. We ate at a mediocre Italian place up the street (review to come later, mediocre Italian place with a misleading menu), and then walked down the Cortland Street hill a bit to the teeny little nook that is Maggie Mudd’s storefront.

We walked in, and we stared. We stared and stared and stared. Look, I said, Look at all the sundaes they can make vegan! Look at all the varieties of soy- and coconut-milk ice cream! O the anticipation. Nationally available vegan ice cream is generally, well, off. If it doesn’t have a weird soy aftertaste, it’s grainy, or more icy than creamy, or any other of the myriad problems you can have with food imitation. The best soy-cream product I’d had before our venture to Bernal Heights was Tofutti Cuties, and those things are so full of weird chemicals and saturated fats you might as well be eating Kraft Dinner with a bacon spoon.

Right, so, the flavors, they seemed limitless. The sundaes, decadent. I had the Tarmack, a peanut-butter-chocolate-cookie bits concoction with peanut butter and chocolate syrups. I couldn’t finish it, though heaven knows I wanted to. I let my boyfriend slurp up the last melty bits of it and wished I were as bottomless a pit.

Their lemon-poppyseed coconut-milk-based ice cream is perfection in the realm of non-sorbet frozen citrus desserts. They make the (blessedly) vegan waffle cones in front of you so they are hot when you get them and cool and harden in your hand while the ice cream gently melts.

Minus points for the “non-dairy” whipped topping, which seemed suspect. Of course it could have been the gorging that gave me and my boyfriend both upset stomachs, but you never know with dairy. It’s sneaky and totally out to get you. Plus points for the pints being (nearly) as good as the ice cream in-house. Minus points to every grocery store that doesn’t carry it, though I don’t think that’s Maggie Mudd’s fault. Minus points to their in-store packed pints costing an exorbitant $7—is a pint of a commercially unavailable flavor like fresh blueberry worth that much? A million billion plus points for their cakes, which are endlessly customizable, reasonably priced, and quite lovely.

[photo by Friend of Vegansaurus Melisser, the Urban Housewife!]


I am looking for VegFest pictures on Flickr to post to the blog and look what I found:
Vegan fried chicken and waffles!! From Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana, Calif.!! Please bring that to San Francisco we can all have vegan chicken and waffles!
[photo by Hot Knots]

I am looking for VegFest pictures on Flickr to post to the blog and look what I found:

Vegan fried chicken and waffles!! From Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana, Calif.!! Please bring that to San Francisco we can all have vegan chicken and waffles!

[photo by Hot Knots]


Road Trip: Ubuntu in Napa!  »

Sometimes you just want to get the fuck out of dodge. On occasion, we’ll feature different veg-friendly places to visit and dine that are within an hour or two from SF. Let’s start with Napa because I’m a classy drunk. LET’S GET WASTED! SHOW ME YOUR BRA! WOO!

I’ve been to Ubuntu three times and look forward to a fourth visit like it’s my job.  

First visit
A really wonderful, super-romantic dinner. The food was delicious and perfect, especially the coconut watermelon basil soup. That soup is ridiculous. It will change your life. It’s better than the sex (that you have, most likely. Not me, I am amazing at sex). It is like drinking the blood of virgins. Eating it is what winning gold at the Olympics must feel like. The wine list is filled with sustainable, organic and biodynamic (wtf does that mean?) wines. The prices were totally reasonable based on quality of service and food. I didn’t see one heifer doing yoga. Just the thought of a Skinny White Bitch running around with a yoga mat under one arm and a little crop-top (YARG) that says “namaste” on it is enough to make me lose my shit/lunch so plus-multiple-stars for that. I cannot hang.

Second visit
Holy shit, why am I impossible to take out in public?  I did quite a bit of wine-tasting with my friends Maria, Ed and Suzanne in downtown Napa before (including one place that I thought was a free tasting room but was actually a bar! Oops, we have to pay for that?! Thank God I have fabulous slut friends who are willing to exchange numbers for many bottles of free wine!) and so wasn’t entirely prepared to enter a classy establishment for dinner.

DO NOT INFORM THE HOSTESS THAT YOU ARE DRUNK WHEN YOU ARRIVE. You will be rightly cut the fuck off.  it went a little like this:
Hostess: Hello!
Laura: I’m DRUNK!
Hostess: OK, what’s the reservation under?
Laura: I’m DRUNK!
Maria: It’s under “Ed.”
…and so on and so forth. Don’t worry, I hate me too.

Once seated, we were politely and tactfully informed that we were being cut off because of my outburst and the, you know, being openly intoxicated in a nice restaurant thing. the wait staff and management at Ubuntu handled it VERY well. They never made us feel unwelcome or called out or anything like that.  and the food helped. I swear, everything tastes even more amazing when you’re drunk. That is, it tastes amazing until you want to die. I wanted to die right before dessert so I headed out to the car to take a power nap. It felt so good, I can’t even tell you. We then headed back to the city and don’t worry for my safety and for the safety of others, kind Vegansaurus readers, I didn’t drive! Ed was sober sister and is an excellent driver and made an amazing mix CD.  if you’ve never seen Maria and Ed perform Usher’s “Love in This Club,” you are missing the fuck out. You have not lived until Ed has looked you in the eye and told you he wants to set you free, sexually, emotionally, mentally, physically. Or however it goes [Ed.: “physically, mentally, sexually, emotionally”]. It’s hot, trust me. I think they’ll be doing it tomorrow at Temple bar, in fact. You should totally be there.

Third visit
To celebrate my friend Joel’s recent entrance into adulthood a good 10 years before his time (i.e., buying a house at 25. OVERACHIEVERS! UGH!). The food was equally as delicious this time and I remember it all very well. The soup remained the star of the menu—who knew that coconut and watermelon and basil and edible flower = magical magicallity. Well, I guess I do now and so do you. We had more of the delicious chickpea fries, the creamy polenta was delicious as was the farro (far less saltier this time, I wonder if they’d gotten complaints?) and finished it off with the super-tasty almond milkshake and yummy mini-vegan carrot cake cupcakes.

The cupcakes are not on the regular menu so make sure to ask for them—beg if you have to! Actually, they only have ONE vegan dessert on the regular menu and it’s some whack shaved ice shit. I mean, it’s good but COME ON. One vegan dessert at a vegetarian restaurant* isn’t enough. I guess that’s my only complaint. That and the soup isn’t endless, like at the Olive Garden (those people are geniuses!).

In conclusion: Ubuntu. Delicious when sober. Delicious when drunk. Delicious for dinner. Delicious for lunch.  Please someone send that into the New Yorker poetry editor, kthx!

*sorry, “vegetables” restaurant! they don’t like the term “vegetarian,” I guess it turns off the snob foodies and the snob foodies LOVE this place. It annoys me that they don’t embrace “vegetarian” but hey, the New York Times named it one of the 10 best new restaurants in the country. I’m sorry but that’s fucking awesome for a vegetables restaurant.

UPDATE 10/5/10: Not so much enamored with Ubuntu anymore. We sad.

[interior photo via yelp; food photos by Joel, of Joel and Nibbler]


Review: the Fruit Guys  »

Once upon a time, a time we shall call “before Jan. 11 2008,” I was a gainfully employed young woman, working full-time in an office in a beautiful Financial District building. It seems so long ago, but how clearly I remember it. I had coworkers, and a view, and a big bottled water dispenser, and we took coffee breaks, and every other Tuesday we’d get a delivery of fresh fruit from The Fruit Guys.

I remain ambivalent about these people. It’s lovely to have fresh fruit in the office. However, what’s with the year-round apples and oranges? Friends, these too are seasonal fruits. Oranges in the hot summer months are totally unnatural. Apples in the springtime? Also unseasonal, and strange. Further, the really good summer fruits, you know, peaches and nectarines and the like, often arrived having suffered chilling injuries during some part of the tree-to-office process, and thus were all mealy and disappointing when they finally ripened.

Though getting fruit delivered to the office is nice, there’s no reason to settle for substandard produce. Ask some local CSAs about their office deals—they’ll never send you any of those icky red delicious apples, or brittle June oranges.

[photo via yelp]

Review: Rainbow Grocery!  »

Rainbow Grocery is an all vegetarian grocery store complete with many vegan baked goods (including Sugar Beat Sweets! Ow!), a delicious bulk foods section and a bath and body section that you’ll never want to leave. I mean, never. It’s so great in there. I plan to conceive, birth and raise my child* inside its delightful womb. I’ll be the 2.0 version of Natalie Portman in that movie where she gave birth in a Wal-Mart. I plan to consummate my relationship with the vegan potato salad, give birth to a vegan donut and then raise it with the help of the kind hippie staff and several heads of organic lettuce. I like to call it, Living the Dream. This is why people come to America, folks. Or at least why they come to San Francisco. Actually, that second part is kinda true. Not the fucking a potato salad and giving birth to a donut part but about the coming to SF to live near a place where you can get nine types of non-dairy ice cream, biodynamic** brussels sprouts and vegan dog food for reasonable prices (higher than Safeway but less than Whole Foods. Not bad).

One especially cool thing to keep in mind is that they publish coupons in the back of the AT&T Yellow Pages that allows you 15 percent off on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for 6 months out of the year. It’s so odd to find these coupons in your yellow pages where there are normally just adds for chiropractors and plumbers but hey, I ain’t complaining! UPDATE: Not anymore! Senior citizens (60+, it pays be old!) and SF Bike Coalition members get 10 percent off every day.

*That I’m never going to have. Bring a child onto this planet? I’m no fool! Our world is FUCKED and you’re irresponsible, stupid and vain if you plan on having one. Or you know, do what you want. I’m not one to judge.
**A method of organic farming that uses an astronomical sowing and planting calendar. basically it means that the produce is grown in accordance with the cycles of the moon (?!) in fields that are plowed by fairly paid farm workers (?!) who are tucked in every night with a hug from santa claus (!!). I thought it was a bunch of bullshit the first time I heard about it but it turns out it’s a real thing that just sounds insane. SO INSANE THAT IT WORKS. I GUESS.

[photo by Friend of Vegansaurus Amit Gupta!]

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