vegansaurus!

11/29/2010

Happy Thanksgiving from Manna in London! I had a chance to nosh on this delicious apple pie with a side of vanilla ice cream (though the ice cream was so rich and flavorful I think it’s more of a vanilla buttercream ice cream… positively the best scoop of my life!).

Happy Thanksgiving from Manna in London! I had a chance to nosh on this delicious apple pie with a side of vanilla ice cream (though the ice cream was so rich and flavorful I think it’s more of a vanilla buttercream ice cream… positively the best scoop of my life!).

10/08/2010

Megan Rascal Takes Europe! Part the third: Parisian food porn!  »

Hi pals! Check me out, Megan Rascal: Photojournalist! Vegansaurus already has pretty great coverage by Brianna for your vegan travels in Paris but there’s always room for food porn, no? Yes!

These first pictures are from Voy Alimento! Just as Brianna says, it’s a very nice place and the people were so friendly. The woman waiting on us knew English, French and Spanish—she was the best! I should note however that for the brunch, there was literally one entrée to “choose” from, but it was good! Of course I got the meal deal with starter, entrée, dessert and drink—SHWEET! First is the starter; it was kind of crazy. Those are bananas in the center with agave and raw chocolate bits. Around it is spouts with some agave and coconut. Like I said, kind of crazy but yummy. Except I don’t really like sprouts that much. So sue me!

Here we have the plat du jour (Megan Rascal: multilingual photojournalist!). The tofu was kind of interesting; I very much enjoyed it. It was cold and at first didn’t really have a flavor, then had a pleasant minty taste. The best part was the blini, that thing on the far end of the plate covered in sprouts (I didn’t eat all the sprouts! Ha!). You can see the “milkshakes” we got with our food; they were actually tasty though not very milkshake-y. I got a wacky Mexican hot chocolate instead of a milkshake, it was wacky.

Here was my dessert, a sweet little blueberry goo
with a cookie-flavored cream on top.

Below we have a picture of my face! Actually, it’s me with a yummy chocolate-and-banana-filled baguette! OMG I was so excited! I went to this bakery with my friends so they could get croissants (yawn) but my friend Luna speaks French and was really great about asking if there were vegan items. I was like, no way, but they had these baguettes filled with cheese and olives, and a chocolate one!

Sorry I broke the fourth wall but the above is a more pleasant image than the close-up I got of the pastry. Trust me, it was the bomb.

I also went to Le Puit de Legumes while I was in Paris. It had a full menu with a good number of vegan options. The pumpkin soup was off the hook! But it didn’t photograph well. Sad face. Below is the plat du jour, pretty standard fair. It’s what I would expect when you go to a non-veggie restaurant, and they put a bunch of stuff together for you—I love that, but I expect more from a veg restaurant.

To end on a high note, some of the pretty Euro plums at an outdoor market.

Bisous!

xoxo,
Megan Rascal.

A vegan guide to Prague: Having a Clear Head  »

I’ve been in the most beautiful city in the world for over a month now. Really, look at how beautiful my beloved Praha is!

The first bit of Czech I learned was, predictably, Jsem veganka (or Jsem vegan for you dudes out there). The first restaurant they told me to go to was Lehka Hlava; it means “Clear Head,” and it has easily one of the dreamiest interiors I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. My first time there, we were seated in the very intimate one-table room called the Rainbow Room.

The menu is mostly vegetarian, but the vegan items are clearly marked with a handy-dandy symbol, and the vegetarian-that-can-be-made-vegan meals are also clearly marked. I decided to get bulgur risotto with stir-fried tempeh, spring vegetables, and sun-dried tomato and peanut pesto.

The portion size was like, double that of my head—that’s when you know you’re getting bang for your buck (I mean, think of any nice restaurant in the Bay that will give you two heads’ worth of food for 135 CZK, or just under $7 US). I mean, really, two heads’ worth of food; look at the tomato slice for scale! Though the pesto was super-intense and there was a lot of it, I cleaned my whole fucking plate. I gained like five pounds by the time I finished, but it was soooo fucking worth it, and I felt it was sort of nutritionally balanced because they didn’t skimp on the tempeh, which was perfectly seasoned, by the way.

My friend and roommate (gluten- and dairy-free) got a tabbouleh salad for under $5 US. I didn’t try any, but was assured by both her and her empty bowl that the salad was super-filling and delicious.

As you can see, Prague is CHEAP AS FUCK. As in, this is a beautiful, fancy, sit-down-for-at-least-two-hours kind of joint, and the most you’ll pay for an entree is about $8 US, if you splurge. But they do charge for water (unless you’re smart enough to get the lunch special, which is $5 US for soup, entree, and water, but isn’t always vegan). I have since visited Lehka Hlava for Sunday brunch twice, and its sister restaurant Maitrea thousands of times for lunch, but my camera broke. So further pictures will have to wait!!

Lastly, to the haters that said I couldn’t be vegan and live in Prague: you were categorically wrong. There are many many lovely establishments, and, my Bay Area friends, I will show them all to you! In due time. When I get my mom’s camera in the mail. Which could take a while, but I’ve been czeching every day (zing!).

[all photos by Brianna]

10/06/2010

Megan Rascal takes Europe! Part the second: Epic guide to London!  »

Previously in Megan Rascal Takes Europe!: I reviewed Mildreds, and it was the bomb*!

If you are ever stuck in Heathrow Airport terminal 3, go to Yo! Sushi—it’s my new favorite place. Totally retro-futuristic! There’s a conveyor belt and you grab food as it goes by! So future. Plus, good vegetable gyoza.

You know I love the vegan shoes, and a lot of great vegan shoe companies are based in England—I had to check one out! I decided on Bourgeois Bohème. H-E-double-hockey-sticks was it far away! It was kind of in the middle of nowhere; specifically, Hydrex House, Garden Road, Richmond. And not like on the strip: it was in an alley in the middle of some alleys.

My official ruling is that there’s no reason to go here. I know, sounds harsh, but it’s really just a showroom with the same stuff they have online. Plus, it’s a trek. If you REALLY need to try shoes on or hate ordering from the internet (freak), then it might be worth it. They did have great shoes though, like the Ingrid wedge that I scored. They are hot. I am hot in them. I’m also really into these gators! If any of you dudes can pull these off, you are the man and let’s adopt children together. (These may actually be a reason to go to the showroom because I can’t find them on their website.)

Next stop: Zilli Green! It has mixed reviews but I thought the food was off the hook. Vegan bangers and mash!

And check out this cheesecake I got for dessert!

Unfortunately the service was wack, and there was this weird guy sitting outside at a table by us who kept telling women, “I’m looking for a wife!” Like I said though, the food was great. My pal Lizzy got the couscous burger; I tried it and it was super yummy. I was disappointed with the barley soup I had as a starter (I’m all about the three-course lunch deals everywhere in Europe!) but overall, great.

After that, I headed to the Secret Society of Vegans! They have a store, Vx that’s adorbs for real. And it’s centrally located by the über metro stop, King’s Cross, where you also catch the Eurostar trains. Definitely worth a visit! They don’t have a good shoe selection like I was hoping, but they do have hella T-shirts with their own designs. Their logo is so dope! I got the logo T-shirt because it rules. They sell Cheezly and stuff like that, and have baked treats, but I have to warn you against the profiteroles, which were really grainy.

Besides the store, Vx has a lounge downstairs with free wifi and all kinds of coffee, which might save your life considering the Brits aren’t that great with the soy milk. It’d be a good place to get work done if you have to. It’s not a cafe, just a sunny room with nice big chairs.

Oh! I almost forgot! They sell the vegan dog chews by Veggie Pets that are impossible to buy in the U.S.! Figaro totally loves them! And you know I had to get him a present on my trip.

For my last night in London, my cousin who lives there (he’s a genius!) and I went to the much-recommended Manna. It was everything people said and more! The food was so great and the server was super-nice and friendly. We even met Robin Swallow, one of the chefs and owners, because my cousin is not as shy as me and was like, “let’s meet this amazing chef!” Sigh, so bold. She was so very very nice, and she loves bloggers! She actually gave me 10 percent off the meal! People love doing stuff for me.

I got the corn fritters as a starter—BANGING. My cousin got the living pad thai (“living” as in “raw”). He was ‘bout it; said the sauce was excellent.

Normally I try to get something exciting for you guys, but for some reason I just really wanted the spaghetti and “meatfree balls.” Pals, it was a good choice. Delicious!

My cousin got the chef’s special which was pretty awesome. That night it was a red bean gumbo over rice with corn bread and a bunch of other stuff. It was kind of the sheezy.

For dessert, I got the banoffe trifle, which was banana and chocolate cake with custard, etc. It was all right. I didn’t love it but I think I just don’t like trifles. My cousin got the mixed berry shortcake, which was so good! It was the biscuit-y type cake, a real-deal shortcake. That’s my word.


Another thing I found in London is my new favorite beer: Freedom Lager. It’s totally vegan! It says so on the back! Huzzah! I got it at Zilli Green and Manna. There’s always room for beer!

Finally, I want to give a big shout out to those special family members who are so accommodating of our veganism. I actually have two cousins in London—twin cousins! I was staying with the other one (also a genius!) and his family and it was super. One night they made me vegan lasagna, the next night they made this dope pumpkin soup—I have to get the recipe (don’t worry, I’ll share!). Because they were so nice, I made my little cousins vegan pancakes the morning before I left! I used this recipe but we didn’t have any soy milk. I decided to just use water and see what happened. I added vanilla and it turned out pretty great! The girls were skeptical but then totally liked them. Here’s little Sophia.

That’s all folks! There’s your vegan guide to London! Live it up, bitches.

*I’m bringing it back! Quién es la bomba? Yo soy la bomba!

09/10/2010

A vegan in Paris, part three! (Super!marchés)  »

When you’re tired of shelling out lots of money for a lovely vegan meal and want to just cook yourself, it’s time to go shopping for vegan groceries in Paris. It’s easier than you might think!

You might see Naturalia all over the city; with a tag line like “ingredients for life,” how can you go wrong? They carry tofu, tempeh, and overpriced seitan—no really, how could they possibly charge over 25€ for a fucking package of seitan?! IT’S JUST GLUTEN AND WATER, PEOPLE! Depending on the size of the store you stumble into they also have a small assortment of alimentaires bio, a.k.a. organic food. I would definitely stay away from their almost inedible prepackaged meals; I got a tofu-bulgur dish that was positively vile. That said, Naturalia is a great place to get all of the specialty vegan/gluten-free/healthy items that “normal” groceries don’t carry. A similar bio market you might want to try is Hédonie, located by the Rennes metro.

But if you don’t have time to look for a boutiquey, small market and want to visit some huge-ass shopping center like, say, the Galeries Lafayette, you’re in luck! Boasting a full organic section and an assortment of soy yogurt, I was sold. But maybe it was their loose spices or the vegan cookies in their bakery that made me swoon. Regardless, it would take a lot to get me to elbow through a mound of tourists to get to the checkout counter more than once.


I only go to supermarkets when I need specialty items I can’t get elsewhere. When you’re in Paris, you need to enjoy the wide availability of the freshest, most delicious produce ever. A guide like 20 Little Cities has a comprehensive listing of open-air farmer’s markets throughout Paris. I had the opportunity to go to the Marché de Cours de Vincennes (pictured), which had a huge assortment of the most delicious-looking and -tasting produce I have ever had the pleasure of getting my hands on. The vibrant colors and hustle-and-bustle atmosphere are sure to make any foodie quiver in her panties.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the most delicious strawberries I have ever eaten in my life. Unphotoshopped, I swear, and taken with a point-and-shoot Canon Elph.

08/25/2010

A vegan in Paris, part two! (the make-you-super-jealous edition)  »

Voy Alimento
23 rue des Vinaigriers
Open weekdays from noon to 2 p.m., weekend brunch from noon to 6 p.m.
Every once in a while, you step into an establishment and you just put your hand on your heart and swoon and feel good about the world. Voy Alimento is one such place, nestled in the 10ème arrondissement of Paris. It’s a shop that sells supplements and specialty food products native to the South American continent. They also serve COMPLETELY VEGAN (not one of those half-assed vegetarian-with-vegan-options kinda joints) lunch from a modest kitchen. I think what was amazing about this place is it’s really unlike anything I have ever seen or experienced, and it’s done well—superbly, even.


Pictured above is who I believe to be the owner in the kitchen. Not only was he really knowledgeable about what he was serving me, he was super-excited to engage in conversation with me about the food. He went on to describe everything on my plate (a bunch of which I forgot, because there were like a thousand ingredients and he was talking in French):

In the center, curried rice with a spirulina-based sauce. Two side salads of alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, carrots, and red sprouts of some sort. At the top, a melange of sauteed veggies, including red peppers, zucchini, onions, and aguaymanto. He was nice enough to bring out three extra sauces for me to try to shovel atop the already delicious and flavorful food. So yummy.

I couldn’t resist getting something on the menu labeled milkshake (it’s a rarity in Paris). I opted for bananas in mine for an extra euro (a small price to pay for deliciousness); you can choose to have your shake with maca or klamath. I chose maca because it promotes mental and physical vitality and regulates hormones. Surrounding the fucking delicious shake (that has an oat milk base, if you were curious) are more of those yummy aguaymanto berries and yacón (which kind of tasted a bit like dried mangoes).

So when I was done with my meal, the kind man asked if I wanted to try dessert. Still enthralled by this completely foreign cuisine, I was like FUCK YEAH. And he was nice enough to offer to let me try a taste of the two types of desserts offered so I could make an informed decision. I chose correctly, a cacao-based pudding. The cacao nibs were ground up and provided a coffee-grounds kind of texture, but so much richer and lovelier. Adorned with beurre de cacao around the edges. Topped with an aguaymanto berry and some more of those yummy dried yacón.

Despite being full as fuck (and having finished EVERY LAST MORSEL I JUST SHOWED YOU FUCKERS), the owner/nice man offered me a free tasting of Xocolatl, what chocolate (supposedly) tasted like 5,000 years during the Aztec civilization (a 3,5€ value, on the house). It was a hot drink and looked a lot like hibiscus tea, but tasted like… spiced chocolate. Comprising cacao nibs, urucum seeds, bird’s eye chili, cinnamon stick, and white and black peppercorns, and then sweetened with agave, it’s the original Mexican hot chocolate. They sold a “kit” for this drink for 5€ which I had to get.

This restaurant is a Parisian gem. I still can’t believe how fucking amazing this place is, and I recommend you all visit (and everyone on Happycow agrees with me). I spent probably two hours enjoying the food and examining their wares and talking with the owner/kind man (in Franglish, though his English was way superior to my French). I guess what really struck me about this place is how full of love all of the food is, definitely my favorite food of my entire trip thus far. And I doubt I will ever get the chance to try food from a similar establishment. And neither will you, unless you visit.

[all photos by Brianna!]

08/23/2010

A vegan in Paris, part one!  »

I am excited to announce that my broke college ass ended up in Paris for a whopping two weeks before my semester in the even less-vegan-friendly Prague [Ed.: For more advice on visiting vegan Prague, check out Melisser’s chronicles.] And to every asshole in my life that told me I would have to give up veganism to enjoy Paris: t’es un putain de merde. It’s helpful that I have a two-burner stove kitchenette with the appropriate accoutrements, but I’ve found it easy as hell to eat in lovely vegan(-friendly) restaurants. Oh, and the baguettes are vegan, and probably the most important food group ever. Here are a few suggestions:

Saveurs Végét’Halles
41 rue des Bourdonnais
Open daily 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m.
Saveurs Végét’Halles (get it?) is an adorable little mostly-vegan restaurant in the heart of Paris. The cuisine is described on HappyCow as having an “Oriental feel”, and I agree with that sentiment. For about 18,90€ you can get the dîner formule: an entrée (starter), a plat principal, and a dessert. There’s a cheaper with one fewer dish, but you’re in Paris! Go big or go home. I opted for the salade mixte aux coeurs de palmiers (salad with hearts of palm), assiette légumes vapeur minute (steamed veggies with a tofu chive sauce and some mashed peas), and crumble aux pommes (apple crumble YUM). Here’s the photos (the lighting inside was mood lighting, not so great for food lighting).


The salad was a salad; there isn’t wasn’t any special dressing beyond vinegar and oil, but it was well balanced and full of fresh and yummy veggies. The main course was exactly what I was in the mood for: really filling and satisfying food that feels healthy. Unfortunately, some of the veggies weren’t steamed properly, especially the carrots. The tofu-chive sauce was delicious, and tasted great with everything on the plate.

The crumble aux pommes was the star of the meal. I’m definitely one of those bitches who will melt for any apples prepared with cinnamon (gimme that shit over chocolate for V-day any day), and I have to say, as an apple-crisp lover, I’ve never had it accompanied with a raspberry coulis! INGENIOUS. They took two amazing fruits and put them on the same plate. LOVED IT GIMME MORE.

Le Potager du Marais
22 rue Rambuteau
Open daily noon to midnight; last seating/reservation at 10:30 p.m.
Le Potager du Marais, which specializes in French cuisine, is definitely one of those fancy-shmancy places you do not go for a casual lunch (like I did). It’s super-tiny with limited seating, so they recommend making reservations (as I went lunchtime, I didn’t bother). My lunch, a plat and dessert, cost 24€. For lunch. For just me. It’s pricey as fuck, but again, GO BIG OR GO HOME. Here’s the rundown on this place: beautiful atmosphere, nice music choices and volume, and a really friendly, eager-to-please waitstaff. You get what you pay for I guess.

I ordered a cassoulet de la mer gratinée aux noisettes (16€), which on the menu was described as a type of casserole with smoked tofu, mashed peas, bits of seaweed, and topped with crushed hazelnuts (to balance out the mushy texture). Flavor-wise, I felt the casserole was a little on the bland side. However, it was so rich and the texture was spot-on, I finished every last morsel. It was also served with an impressive side-salad, with a wide assortment of lettuces and sprouts and perfectly julienned carrots.

For dessert, I got a Tarte Tatin et Chantilly à la crème d’amandes (8€). Arguably the most beautiful looking dessert offered, it fell far short of being yummy. I was expecting a really sweet and rich end to my meal, and instead got a slightly bitter fruit topping with a difficult-to-cut-with-a-fork pastry bottom. I so wish I had gone with the chocolate mousse.

Le Quartier Juif in Marais
Rue des Rosiers between rue Vielle du Temple and rue Payenne
If you are craving some authentic Middle Eastern food and don’t want to pay more than 5€, this stretch of Jewish highway is your place. I got by ordering my falafel in Frebrew, this new pidgin language I started (but not really). I ordered just a plan old pita and falafel, and was assured in two different languages that there was indeed no dairy or eggs in any of the products I was eating. It was soooo yummy, street food at its finest (and a great alternative to Maoz).

So that’s all for now folks!! More Parisian food porn to come, I promise!

[all photos by Brianna!]

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