Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Portland Day 1 and 2: Portobello, Hunger Tiger Too, Prasad

We arrived on Thu afternoon and for our first meal in Portland, we met up with the lovely Geanna from Green Vegan living at Portobello.  Portobello is a slightly upmarket but affordable vegan Italian restaurant. Our first impressions of Portland were that there was lots of gorgeous trees, the city itself was quite small and that restaurants like Portobello were in the middle of nowhere.We shared the cashew cheese stuffed sweety peps, which were not spicy and had a slightly sweet flavour. The cashew cheese was smooth and creamy. They were a great start to an excellent meal.

I couldn't resist ordering a gluten free pizza, I chose the Patata pizza which has thin slices of potato, carmelised onions, pine nuts and fir tips on it. I was surprised that there was no vegan cheese on this pizza or any pesto/tomato base but it was still tasty. The gf base was excellent and made me realise that gf pizza in Australia is inferior.

Toby and I shared the nectarine-beet risotto croquettes and both enjoyed this dish.  Toby also enjoyed his gluteny dish.

For dessert, I had the cookies and cream. For some reason I just presumed that this was ice cream but instead it was coconut and black pepper 'cream' which was mousse like in texture. The black pepper was not strong but occasionally provided a slight amount of heat to the coconut 'cream'. The cookies were maple flavoured and were quite crispy and thin and great with the 'cream'. I also enjoyed the grilled fruit that come with this dish.

I also tried a bit of Genna's chocolate and rosemary tart. I hate rosemary but wanted to see if it was subtle, unfortunately it wasn't but I'm certain that if you like rosemary you would enjoy it.

Day 2
On second day, we met up with fellow Aussie Susan from Kittens Gone Lentil who was also in town and staying at the same hotel as us. We went to Hungry Tiger Too, an omni cafe/bar which is super vegan friendly and lots of gf options for brunch too. We ordered way too much food which including this giant gluten free and vegan pancake as a side to my breakfast.  It actually tasted good too

Small scrambled tofu:

And this was Toby and my favourite tofu 'chicken' with  a gluten free and vegan waffle. The tofu was super tasty. I'm not sure what the batter/spices were but it was addictive. This place had me announcing on my first full day that I already loved Portland. I mean where else could you find gluten free and vegan pancakes, waffles etc.

And then we walked the short walk to vegan mini mall and visited 3 out of the 4 stores, since none of us wanted a tattoo :-) Susan and I spent a long time browsing very carefully at everything and spending a fare bit of money at food fight-vegan grocery store while Toby went to find coffee. We also both bought the same top from herbivore, thankfully we live in different ciies in Australia!

And lastly we visited sweetpea bakery- a vegan bakery. I didn't have much room in my belly, but you know dessert is a different stomach compartment, right? I ordered the gluten free chocolate chip cookie which was huge but unfortunately a bit disappointing flavour wise, it just kind of screamed gluten free, I can't name it, but perhaps it was strong rice flour flavour.

For dinner, we decided to go for healthy option near out hotel and visited Prasad.  They share a space with a yoga studio and seemed to focus on healthy/raw dishes.  Toby had the soul salad with tempeh, avocado, slow roasted tomatoes, spinach and a red chilli vinagrette. He said that it 'not boring and very refreshing'.

I had the dragon bowl which comes with quinoa, avocado, kale, seaweed and beans. You then choose what sauce and Susan shared her secret that last time she selected two sauces, I copied her and ordered lemon ginger and peanut. I loved both and it seemed like a great way to balance out the junk food that we had for brunch.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rest of San Fran

I unfortunately got sick in San Fran but am now feeling better due some amazing Amercian medication, but it did make me drowsy and made our short time feel like a bit of  blur. It also meant that we fell behind in blogging so I've decided to combine the rest of our eating into this one post. San Fran is very pretty with it's colourful old houses and murals and hills. The hills meant that I didn't really feel like walking like I did in New York. I highly recommend doing a mural walking tour it is so much more interesting knowing about the political/social meanings behind each mural. There is a large homeless population in San Fran and there times were I felt unsafe. I'm not sure if we actually were but there a few areas that I wouldn't want to spend too much time at night. Anyway on to the food.

We went to Gracia Madre twice, which is a vegan Mexican restaurant in Mission. First time ordered an appetiser and two mains and it was way too much food. The appetiser was called Gorditas- potatoes with cashew cheese on top, so delicious.

I ordered the cactus taco dish,it had another name but I can't see it on their online menu which comes with slightly sour tangy filling, beans, rice and corn tacos on the side. The corn tortillas were quite different to other tacos I've had, they were super thick and Scrumptious suggested that it was because they are handmade rather than made it a machine. I think I preferred the thinner variety.

Toby got the tacos each one had a different filling: greens, mushrooms and plantains. He said that he liked the plantains and greens but thought the mushrooms were a little bland.

The second time we met up with the friendly Scrumptious from In My Box and she suggested ordering a range of appetisers so we had enough room for the flan for dessert. I think she is right and this is not only a better idea but also includes the tastiest dishes.The sweet potato and caramelised onion dish was probably my fav, it was called Quesadillas de Camote.

We also enjoyed some quality guacamole which comes with tortillas:

The Pozole which is a hominy stew was better than the version we have tried in viva vegan, but scrumptious explained that she has had better pozole.

The flan was pretty awesome both in texture and flavours and also made us realise that the flan that Toby made before we left  from Viva Vegan was pretty authentic.

We also went to the fancy Millennium for dinner. I had this thai rice cake, the texture of the rice cakes was unlike anything I've had before. It was combined with mild curry and fresh veggies.

And we ordered the sunken souffle which comes with salted peaches and nectarine sorbet. The combination was perfect, neither of us had anything to compare the souffle with but it was basically a nice cake.

We also went to loving hut at westfield shopping centre since it was convenient. I was told that one dish could be made gluten free, the noodle soup. Unfortunately, I had a couple of mouthfuls and then discovered a piece of gluteny mock meat. I went and inquired and sure enough it was, so they got me another one. I didn't really feel like eating it afterwards.

And lastly we accidentally ran across a farmers market which sold the amazing scream sorbet. I had the vanilla almond and Toby had the chocolate hazelnut and Strawberry Rhubarb. So good, I would like more right now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

San Fran Day 1: Little Bird, Pica Pica, Cafe Gratitude

We went to Little Bird Coffee House for a late breakfast on our first full day in San Fransico.

 K had the special of the day: Vegan "bird nest" ($7, scramabled tofu on hash brown).

K thought it was pretty yummy but a bit small. (Fair enough, considered it is only $7) and she ordered the signature dish (pardon my Masterchef talk) Blue Corn Waffle with blueberries, banana and real maple syrup ($6! What a steal!).  It was amazing.

Their coffee was amazing too, I will talk about it more on my up coming Toby's America Coffee Adventure blog post.

For lunch, we went to Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, a vegan-friendly gulten-free restaurant in the Mission district. (menu here)

K ordered the  Vegetariana Arepa ($8, as you can see, it's got grilled tofu, avocado and grilled plantains)

It was relativelty cheap, filling and super delicious.  K declared that it was the best Mexican food she's ever had. I orded the La Shuli Cachapa ($9, corn pancake with black bean and friends).

I loved the texture of the pancake and the black beans and mixtures of toma(y)to and Mexican (h)erbs.  K seems enjoying it too.  We both had the Morena sauce, which is a cold black bean sauce.  It was surprisingly mayo-like and amazing (Sauce of the month idea, Lord Of The Fries?).  I stole some of Matt's Yuca (or Plantains) chips.  It was awesome!

And then I walked around the massive Amoeba Music...

For the last meal of the day, we went to Cafe Gratitude in Mission (Menu here), an all vegan and  organic cafe.  It was pretty new age without being too airy-fairy.

K had the "I Am Warm-Hearted" ($11, Grilled polenta with cashew ricotta and Brazil nut Parmesan).  I had a few bites, it was pretty interesting, in a good way.

I felt like something healthy, so I went for the "I Am Fortified" ($12, Veggie with quinoa, brown rice and Thai-almond sauce).  It wasn't blend at all. The sauce was nothing like a satay sauce but very tasty.

Little Bird Coffee House
835 Geary St, Tenderloin
San Francisco, CA 94109

Pica Pica Maize Kitchen
401 Valencia St, Mission
San Francisco, CA 94103

Cafe Gratitude
2400 Harrison Street, Mission
San Francisco, CA 94110

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NYC Day 10: Stogo, Souen Noodle Restaurant and Lulas

I am writing this from the plane (although will have to click publish at the hotel) as we fly from New York to San Fran. I have loved New York so much and can't imagine San Fran and then Portland being able to compete. Jess and I keep joking that San Fran is going to suck and that we wish our flight was cancelled but I'm sure it is going to be great. New York really is amazing though. It's crazy I wasn't the biggest fan of London and I really thought New York would be similar but it's not. I can't even fully put my finger on what is different, but there is just this amazing energy in New York, it also doesn't hurt that there are 3 vegan dessert places in New York and vegan food everywhere. I didn't even get to try the gluten free (and vegan) cannelloni at a regular italian restaurant called John's of 12th, plenty of raw desserts and vegan treats. The graffiti, buildings, markets, accents are also super cool and it just kind of feels like anything is possible. Corny, right? It's inspiring and definitely my favourite city so far.

Today on our last day so I went to Stogo and had this piece of heaven, aka chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich with Bourbon ginger ice cream which had a hemp base. Excuse the phone pics!

Chinese medicine says that ice cream (and cold things in general) are bad for colds so I figured that the ginger might kind of counteract it. The woman who I guess runs/owns the place is super friendly and joked with me that I could come back for free sample spoons since it was my last day. I was so so tempted! This little place kind of makes me want to work on starting a similar vegan ice cream place in Melbourne, which won't happen but it's nice to feel inspired.

For lunch, we tried to go to pukk (vegetarian thai place) but the waiter very honestly explained that the only gluten free option would be greens. Atlas was a similar situation. I think New York is super vegan friendly but not quite as gluten free friendly. So we went to Souen Noodle Restaurant. I had the mapo tofu minus the seitan and Toby had the ramen special lunch deal but with rice noodles instead of ramen. The noodles were a bit bland but Toby said that was exactly what he wanted and the mapo tofu was not spicy at all which suited me fine, I felt that it was the perfect healthy dish to sandwich between two ice cream desserts.

As part of the lunch deal, you could choose what side you wanted, toby chose the brown rice ball which was really subtle.

Here are his noodles:

And here is the mapo tofu (brown rice on the side not pictured):

I also managed to fit in one last visit to lulas right before we had to leave. I got a brownie a la mode which basically just means brownie (gf in my case) with one large scoop of ice cream. I had already decided that I was going to have the peanut butter flavour but they didn't had it. Both lulas and stogo seem to rotate flavours. So I settled on mint choc chip which was refreshing. I was pleased that the brownie was soft and gooey and served warm.

Jess and I sat and ate in a community garden near by. I love that there are these tiny little community gardens, all quite different and free and so cool on a hot summers day. This one was one of my favourites, although I have to admit I didn't get to visit quite as many as I wanted to.

Also while on the plane I ate more mini banana choc chip muffins and gluten free brownies from Babycakes. Yes 3 lots of desserts in one day from my 3 fave places in NYC.

10 days was not enough, I think I could have easily spent 3 weeks there, as there still so many places we didn't get to explore/see/eat but it's been a blast NYC!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

NYC Day 9: Brooklyn Flea Market, Cocoa V, Babycakes and Pala

Today was our last full day in nyc, we leave tomorrow afternoon for san fran. We started the day by walking over the brooklyn bridge, which was so pretty, see:

We visited the brooklyn flea market again, on saturdays it is held at fortgreen and sundays it is held in Williamsburg. For details check out here, I preferred the williamsburg sunday one which we visited last week. This one didn't have the blackstrap molasses or the raw vegan stall. So I settled for bean and cheese tacos without cheese which were bland:

Then we went to Cocoa V, an all vegan chocolate and wine bar. I ordered the nut cheese platter for one, which I'm pretty sure is Dr cow cheese bran.

It comes with gluten free crackers, dried figs, apples and regular pretzels.  The flavours of cheese from left to right are: regular, aged cashew and dulse and aged cashew and crystal manna algae cheese. I was skeptical because I vaguely remember Troy and Bec saying that they didn't like it but Toby and I both loved it. Toby loved the algae variety and I liked the regular flavour. The tetxure was excellent too.

We also got spiced hot chocolate which had a range of spices including cinnamon and burned my throat a tiny amount as a result of the cayenne pepper in it. It was quite creamy though and I wonder what dairy free milk they use, I'm sure it wasn't soy:

I worked up quite an appetite when we wondered around MOMA, so glad I got to visit afterall. We then visited babycakes for the last time, sob sob. I got a chocolate chip cookie and a brownie bite (the sugar variety instead of the agave one). The cookie was crispy and the brownie was more cakey than fudgey but both were so yummy. I also got some treats for the long plane trip tomorrow and choc mint cookie, which was thin chocolate cookie covered in minty icing.

 For dinner we went to Pala Pizza again. We shared the spring salad which felt healthy after lots of sugar although not particularly exciting.

And of course I had to get THE PIZZA again. The base wasn't as spectacular as last time, I think because it was slightly undercooked but was still the best pizza i've had. It's called the etna, and it turns out it is super crispy eggplant not caramelised onions.