Sunday, July 31, 2011

In the Mood For Noodles Video on YouTube

Just come across this youtube video called in the mood for noodles which is a spec commerical for non vegan (and probably non gluten free) noodles but had to share it. Like this video, the name for our blog did come from the beautiful wong kar wai film in the mood for love.

Will return to regular food posting soon, I promise!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Service Announcement: Kitchen Aid Food Processors Leak!!!

After years of much cheaper food processors I recently made a $600 investment with a kitchen aid food processor and discovered the hard way that they leak on the first use. So disappointing since I love my red mixer and loved that it would match. I was told from the matchbox store that you have to add the ingredients one at time and it how the bowls are stored in cupboard etc. Even the website says if leaks you should try to pulse liquids for only 1-2 seconds at time. There are no scratches/holes etc it is just a bad design. Matchbox refused to give me a refund instead offering to give me a new bowl and I'm since found out that this a regular fault: see this google search for example. Such a waste of money! I'm making a complaint to consumer affairs but wanted to share the news so others don't get stuck in the same situation.

So spread the news!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

US Products Which We Loved

These were only some of the products which we tried and loved there was plenty more like hemp milk (I think it was this brand) and a vegan box of chocolates from Food Fight but I forgot to take pictures of them. I also loved the crazy rumours lip balms which I've thankfully also found in Melbourne.

I tried maybe 4-5  vegan ice cream flavours, but these were the two we tried when we had an ice cream party with Susan. We each bought some ice cream and shared. They were all delicious but I'm not a huge fan of the fake cherry flavour. I can't decide if the luna and larry coconut chocolate hazelnut fudge (pictured) or the purely decadent coconut based chocolagte peanut butter swirl was my fave.


I really don't get why we don't have awesome vegan yogurt here when both the UK and the US can do it. I enjoyed several flavours in this coconut range (except for cherry-what is with the fake cherry flavour?):


Another thing that the US do well in gf cereal, these were my favourites, particuarly the maple sunrise and from memory it was pretty healthy too.

I tried 3 brands of vegan peanut butter cups but these were my fav, they were just a tad saltier which is perfect in my book. I  really need to replicate this recipe.

Other sweet treats which I loved, justin's flavoured nut butters including maple almond butter, sour gummies bars, and the whole range of eli's earth bars, and the little individual organic chocolates from sjaaks particuarly the caramel ones.

It was only the flight home that I finally tried tings and we devoured the huge bag. I had heard Mandee rave about them but had trouble finding them. I had looked in a few whole foods but couldn't find them. I eventually asked someone at wholefoods who showed me where they were hiding which was not in the chip aisle but somewhere else. They taste a lot like twisties and have nooch in them so I wish I took more packets home with us.

Only one more US post to go from Toby, can you guess what it might be on?  And that will conclude our US holiday posts. I hope I haven't bored the Australian readers with these posts.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Real Food Daily- Santa Monica

My last US meal:
We had 8 hours layover in LA and asked on facebook and twitter what we should do and the overwhelming response was go to Real Food Daily- Santa Monica. We met up with Toby's friend there and thankfully got a table without a booking. I ordered the 'pizza ya can eat za' with herb cornmeal crust, sun dried tomato pesto, spinach, basil and cashew and mozzarella cheese with greens and cannelloni beans in the centre. The crust was similar in texture to a pita bread crust,  you could taste the herbs in it and I think I could probably eat it plain but the cashew cheese was my favourite bit, so creamy. It makes me want to learn how to make cashew cheese. I also got a tasty strawberry milkshake made from hemp milk and hemp ice cream. Toby also enjoyed his gluteny burger and salad. This meal left me feeling very full which is perfect when you have a 15 hour flight home.

We also visited wholefoods to get some last minute snacks and walked along the beach before catching the bus back to LAX.

Real Food Daily
514-516 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Portland Day 6 and 7

For brunch we went to HomeGrown Smoker food cart- a vegan bbq themed food cart. This tiny little food cart served outstanding savoury food.

I had the frito pie. For the aussies reading fritos = brand of corn chips. This frito pie consisted of a small pack of fritos cut open with smoked beans, colesaw, and daiya cheese on top. It was magnificent. The smokiness of the beans and the bbq sauce was the best I have ever tasted and unlike anything I have ever eaten. I could have easily eaten this every day. Toby lovooooooooovvvvved his gluteny mac and cheese and burger too.

We loved it so much that we returned the following day but were so full that we shared this dish: the smoker salad with molasses cornbread, beans, soy curls, ranch dressing etc. I liked this but wasn't a fan of the molasses in the cornbread.

For dinner we met up with the friendly Ruth from Stump'd who is originally from Melbourne and who patiently asked a thousand questions and talked through lots of Portland vs Melbourne comparisons. She suggested Taqueria Los Gorditos. It is a mexican place with plenty of vegan options and pretty gluten free friendly.Toby got the tacos and chose one soyrizo, one bean and one soy curls. I wasn't sure which ones were gf so haven't posted the pic here but I tried a bit of the bean one and it was awesome particuarly with the chipolte sauce. I ordered the sopes with tofu, lettuce, avocado, cilantro and sour cream.

And to finish it off we went across the road back to Portobello and I had their ice cream. There was 3 flavours: caramel, orange cardamon and choc mint. I had choc sauce on the mint choc. It was all creamy and delicious but the salted caramel but was the star of the dish.
 The following day we went to Junior cafe for breaky. Juniors is a regular omni breakfast place which has some awesome vegan options like french toast. 

I had the vegan potato plate with gluten free vegan sausage, yes gluten free vegan sausage, how awesome is that? It comes with potatoes, corn, mushrooms, zucchini and a slightly spicy tofu sauce. It was an excellent fried breakfast. Perfect for a hangover (in my case just a food hangover). The orange on the side made it seem a little healthier too. I have to admit that I copied Meghan in my idea of choosing this breaky.

For out last dinner we went to the fancy vegetarian restaurant in the vegan meca area, yes Northeast alberta street called natural selection. Both Geanna and Kittee had mentioned it so we had try it.

We chose the four course dinner for $35. For the four courses you have two menu options, but only one choice was both vegan and gluten free which made for an easy time ordering.

Unfortunately we didn't get a picture of the menu or take notes. I was going to attempt descriptions but figured they may be inaccurate so instead I will let the pictures do the talking and give super vague descriptions. This was a bonus entree.

Then was yummy soup


This was our fave, a vegetable dish:

I remember this one. They gave us this lime and mint granita as a palate cleanser before dessert. It was so refreshing.

For dessert we had a cherry type cake. I didn't particularly enjoy this because it was too much like fruit cake, the one dessert I'm not a fan of.

But the rest of the food was awesome, although since the dishes were all vegie based, there was not enough protein for Toby.

I have a confession to make too, I couldn't resist trying something else from back to eden bakery again, so while we were waiting for our food, I ran down the street a few blocks to buy a few more things for after dinner and for the flight the next day. I must have been gone a while because the waitress asked Toby if I was ok. It was worth it thought because I got a vegan and gluten free boston cream pie!!!!!

This dessert was the perfect way to farewell portland with it's cream around the edges and I think custard in the middle and chocolate around the edges. While the cake itself was not the greatest the package was a little piece of heaven.

This is our last Portland post. Portland had outstanding vegan food, there was plenty of places we didn't get to try too like off the griddle.There wasn't much else to do thought beside eating except for visiting the gigantic powells bookstore, where there was two high aisles of vegan cookbooks and even a little note saying 'are you looking for vegan and gluten free cookbooks?' and the record label tender loving empire store which sold their own cds, records and cute jewellry.

Goodbye Portland, we will miss you!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Portland Day 4 and 5

So after the food coma on the previous day, K and I went back to Prasad for some healthy food. 

I had the Urban bowl, which is basically a big bowl full of steamed greens, sea vegetables, avocado and a nice garlic tahini sauce.  It was very refreshing, light and delicious. 

K had the Dragon Bowl again and a "bachelor slice", which it was a mostly raw nut based slice.  She said it was yummy but not quite as decadent it looked.

K felt like trying some of the products from wholefoods so had some dips and Mary's Gone CrackersSusan and I, on the other hand, ate some gluteny vegan pizzas.

It seems that bike riding was the best way to go around Portland so the next day we hired bikes.  We rode across one of the giant bridges and kicked start the day with some 'Taco Tofu' Nachos at Papa G's Organic Deli

They use fresh top notch ingredients and it was pretty yummy and tasted lighter than normal vegan nachos. There was heaps of stuff on the menu which can be made gluten-free but we decided to save room for other places which were close by since we were trying to try to visit as many places as possible.

We then rode to Perierra Crêperie for some crepe action. It's a regular crepe food cart with gluten free and vegan options.


We had the good old lemon sugar crepe. It was simple and awesome.

After two nice cups of coffee, we went to New Cascadia Traditional Bakery, a gluten-free bakery with vegan options.  K picked the gluten-free bagel, toasted and served with avocado and hummus. I don't think hummus and avocado were regular options but just alternatives because when K first enquired they said that the only vegan option was earth balance. It wasn't exactly what a wheaty bagel tasted like but we were both impressed with the texture and taste.

For dinner, we went to Blossoming Lotus, a vegan cafe.  People have been telling me good things about it so I went with a high expectation. There were a few parties waiting for tables which is okay, but what put me off was that it took quite a long time for us to be seated when the table become available.

I ordered the citrus ginger stir fry with rice noodles, added on tofu. 

It was pretty yummy. The sauce is made from lime, orange and ginger, a pretty delicate but tangy combination.  K thinks the nutritional yeast  sprinkled on marinated tofu is a very good idea for stir fries which we need to replicate at home.

We also had a Crispy Thai BBQ Salad.

I loved the BBQ soy curls a lot.  It was full of Thai style flavours, lime, Asian herbs, ginger,coconut...the whole gang!

I really enjoyed Portland, I think it is a really cool place to chill out but an average tourist find it a bit meh. However, for me yummy cheap vegan food, third wave coffee and amazing independent record stores are quite enough.   

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Portland Day 3: Ruby Dragon, Sushi Tree, Back To Eden and Vita Cafe

On day 3, we headed out with Susan to explore the North East (NE) area particularly Mississippi Ave and Alberta Ave (Vegan Mecca). Portland is divided into quadrants, I found this quite confusing and so to help remember, I gave them little code names, I initially referred to NE as nothing but eating because we couldn't find anything online on guide books about what to see or do there.I now know that you might have more luck if you look up either of those street names. I also referred to the part where we lived (south west) as so weird because it basically downtown and I remember seeing the keep portland weird sign there. South East was referred to as so excellent due to vegan mini mall and previous breakfast and I don't think we really went to North West so it didn't get a name. You should ignore me though and check out Favourite vegan food by quadrant here and make up your own names.

First we visited Queen Bee Creations which was close by. It is a vegan store that sells wallets, handbags etc. I got a new purse, but kind of wish I also got a new handbag.

Hanging out with Susan was awesome, we checked at stores and ate desserts while Toby chilled out at coffee shops and record stores. On the way to get Toby we come across this cute double decked bus called Lodekka with vintage clothes and accessories. This store along with many others made me regret buying vintage stuff in New York because it was so much cheaper in Portland. Also food was much cheaper in Portland than San Fran or New York.

We then walked to where there was three veg*n food carts in one place on Mississippi avenue. Both Toby and Susan sampled something from each of the food carts, from left to right: ruby dragon, sushi tree (vegetarian sushi cart) and native bowl.

We sat in the shared seating to the right in the shade which was perfect during the nice summer day. There was also omni carts in the same area. I thought how perfect would this be for a small group of people with different preferences. Can we start a food cart revolution here please?

Here is the menu at Ruby Dragon, I love the 98 % gluten free tag.

I couldn't resist quinoa pancakes from Ruby Dragon since I can't find pancakes I can eat here (back in Melbourne now) unless I make them. The options were to add walnuts, blueberries or choc chips. I chose all three, and so they were mixed into the batter. They were served with agave and were perfect. I'm not usually a bag a fan of quinoa in desserts but this worked. Although, I do admit that I prefer maple syrup to agave on pancakes.

Susan also shared some of her cornmeal griddle cakes from Ruby Dragon with me which were tasty and had an interesting texture.

Toby then asked the sushi tree, if they do gf sushi and they made us some specially without miso (as we weren't sure if it the miso was gf). Toby chose the smoked tofu and the one with pickles. They were both incredibly fresh and tasty even without soy sauce. I preferred the pickled one and Toby preferred the tofu one, not sure about Susan?

Toby and Susan also ordered from Native Bowl but I was determined to leave room for desserts, although the pancake and sushi was incredibly filling so it didn't work.

I recommend checking out Mississippi ave, where there are a few cool stores including vintage stuff. And we walked from Mississippi ave to NE Alberta Ave which felt like an incredibly long walk, so I suggest getting a bus. Part of the reason, was the hope that it would allow us to be hungry again but it didn't work either, we just had sore feet.

Remember I mentioned NE Alberta Ave was the vegan Mecca, well that is because there are two vegan bakeries, a vegan bar, an upmarket vegetarian restaurant, and omni places with awesome vegan options. We tried to visit most of them, but had to do it across 3 days. So you will be hearing about the others on later posts, so stay tuned.

The first stop on Alberta became my favourite Portland place. A vegan bakery called Back to Eden Bakery. Not only is it all vegan, but they had plenty of gf options, the staff were lovely, the place was super cute and it just made me damn happy, on the 3 occasions that I visited.  They sell ice cream, baked vegan goods, milkshakes, banana splits, root beer floats etc. What else could you want, really?

On the first occasion, I tried the chocolate almond toffee bar. I loved this small slice, the toffee was not so much toffee (well not AUS term anyway) but fudge like and incredibly sweet and rich and the base was much more neutral so it provided the best balance.

And I felt I had to try a root beer float. But not just any root beer float, the root beer is sweetened with agave and the ice cream was made with their own soft serve. I thought floats were the same as Australian equivalent called spiders, you know coke spider, lime spider etc. But I watched and she filled the soft serve all the way to the top of the glass and then put in the root beer, unlike our spiders with only one scoop of ice cream. It was my first time having root beer, and a float and I loved it. Root beer reminds me a lot of Sarsaparilla and went really well with creamy soft serve. Although it was quite ambitious given how full we were. So I couldn't quite finish it. I did finish the ice cream just not the extra soda in the bottle.

Here are some pics of inside, but they don't capture the feeling of the place:

The thing I never quite figured out, was what to do in between eating in Portland since the city is quite separated into different parts and we were staying on the other side of the river. So this is when we went back to Mississippi ave (by bus) to check out the shops and to kill time before we could eat again. Yeah, it's kind of gross, how much we ate, but I'm not sure if I will ever return to Portland or the US again. 

We then returned to the vegan Mecca, and ate at Vita Cafe. Now beware that there are two cafes on the same street with the same name! Vita is an omni place but describes themselves as primarily vegan and vegetarian fare. They are also super gf friendly. 

Another thing I noticed about Portland, is that many of these places have nooch on the table with other condiments, how cool is that?

We shared the buffalo tofu.  I've never had buffalo anything before, but you have to trust me that were amazing. The tofu was coated in crispy batter and spicy sauce and served with ranch. I seriously need to recreate this at home somehow, I was addicted to these. There was also some carrots and celery for the leftover ranch dressing. The ranch dressing just tasted like yummy tartare sauce.

For main, I tried the 'chicken fried steak' which was tempeh, coated in batter and served with mashed potato and almond gravy. This dish was great and I was a big fan of the almond gravy but the buffalo tofu was still my fave.

And yes I'm got a major sweet tooth, so couldn't resist a tiny dessert. I could have had the larger raw cheesecake, but instead chose the much smaller salted caramel truffle. There was sea salt on top and rich caramel inside a chocolate coating, with a tiny bit of chocolate sauce. Perfect way to end the day!

I then fell into a food coma, well until the next day.