Scenes from my vegan travels in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Bangkok. Continue reading
Day 22: The DIY coffeeshop fun continues with homemade pumpkin coconut creamer and cinnamon breath. Continue reading
A combination of baketivism and plastic-wrapped nostalgia at its finest. These were for last weekend’s Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in Portland, inspired by a big ole vganized Zebra cake that J. Legume and I made a few months ago. I vaguely remember … Continue reading
Back in January, the busy month that was, I went with team VVC to scout Chicago as a potential location for Spring 2013’s conference.
Did we want the conference to take a leap east to a bigger city? Or did we want one more year of celebrating the vegan grandeur of our own home turf? We’ve now been discussing the pros and cons of both locations for 2 months, and as of last week, came to a decision. I won’t spill the beans here – you can check out the Vida blog for the official news.
As for the windy city, I had never been before, and had 3 items on my to do list:
1) Location scouting
Verdict: Check! Plenty of possibilities in multiple neighborhoods, and really great, really reliable public transit options – one stop even told us the weather, which bring me to…
Verdict: We arrived the morning after the first real storm of the season – check! I used to joke that I suffered from reverse seasonal depression since moving from New York and Boston to Portland, where it rarely snows for more than a few minutes within the city and 40F is a low. I miss the chills. To be fair, I do loathe humidity, as well.
3)Vegan deep dish pizza
Verdict: According to our friend Snarky Vegan, there was a pizzeria in Chicago that was serving vegan deep dish until it closed a couple of years ago. These days, you can request a deep dish pie without cheese, making sure to ask about butter in the crust, or you can go to other pizza parlours for Daiya or Teese (hometown pride, y’all) topped pies. Michele and Janessa did have a chance to hit up one local shop for a cheese-less slice after I headed back to Portland for work (d’oh!), but overall, I did enjoy our pie at The Boiler Room. More on that follow below.
Three Days, Five Things, Chicago
With three full days, I had a taste for Chicago, and longing for more Upton’s under my belt. It’s a huge city with spread out vegan options, including the classic Chicago Diner (which we dined at twice, rest assure).
Since I’ve been a major procrastinator (see: December travels) and Janessa and Michele are covering the same trip, in addition to our joint contributions, for the VVC blog, I wanted to break down my brief stay in Chicagoland with my five favorite food experiences. Plus, it’s an internet blogging list rule, or something.
Regrettably, in my five days, there was more I tried that I wasn’t a fan of (I’m still trying to get the thought of a hybrid cheese sauce off my tongue) vs. what I could rave about, so the list was easier to put together than I planned on.
The tops include my inaugural torta experience at Quesadilla, a stand-in for deep dish pizza at The Boiler Room, classic milkshakes, caffeination, a surprise turn with cake balls, and more swooning over Upton’s products.
First up, Quesadilla:
Quesadilla La Reyna del Sur
2235 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
Ordering a Soy Curl-stuffed torta from Los Gorditos – either the truck or the restaurant – has been on my to-do list for years now. I’ve simply been so easily distracted by burritos and mulitas and the quick journey home to my apartment. Now that I’ve experienced the tremendous satisfaction that was my meal at Quesadilla’s, as pictured below, it could actually happen?!
Next stop, The Boiler Room:
The Boiler Room
2210 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
We held a small VVC reunion at The Boiler Room once we learned that deep dish pizza with vegan cheese, our original intent, was currently nowhere to be found in the city. The crust was surprisingly thin with an element of flop, something that saddens my inner New Yorker. I will, however, give kudos to the high quality ingredients and availability of Upton’s seitan products. It takes something special overshadow the d-cheese, in my humble option.
Millennium Park Coffee Bar
53 East Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601
Let’s just say that while it was not my first visit to an Intelligentsia location, coffee on a warm day in Silver Lake does not compare to a soy latte on a brisk day in Chicago. I quickly went through the smokey Diablo Dark Roast I brought back home with me.
Cake Balls at Bleeding Heart Bakery
Bleeding Heart Bakery
1916 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
So, I’ve yet to take an official stance on cake balls. Part of me thinks they’re dumb, part of me really enjoyed the moist cake balls at the evidently-starred-on-a-Food-Network-special Bleeding Heart Bakery, part of me wants to throw every round piece of sprinkle-coated cake I see out of a window, and my heart says I should really give Dovetail’s a chance in Portland before I roll my eyes some more.
Vegan Milkshakes! I experienced the joy of two creamy vegan milkshakes in the windy city. I want more.
3411 N Halsted
Whole Foods Lincoln Park’s Diner
1550 N. Kingsbury Street
Chicago, IL 60642
Chicago Diner: Like we went to Chicago without dining here twice! I often suffer from bad-ordering luck, and it happened here with a few plates, despite small plate sharing optimism with Janessa. Over all, I think brunch had the most potential, regret not ordering the Titanic BLT or more with Upton’s seitan (a reoccurring theme of the trip) and have to give my props to their milkshake…and they were out of whipped cream at the time. It was an awesome welcome.
Whole Foods: Team VVC had a momentous shopping excursion at Whole Foods in Lincoln Park, where we sipped sparkling wine as we strolled the aisles picking up goodies and stopping at the Diner. I’m not one of veggie dogs, but my cohorts dug in, while I opted for a different classic:
I’ll spare the details, but I would not order these appetizers again:
Coming across two Native Foods in Chicago = delightful. I picked up a Twister wrap with blackened chickin’ for dinner on my Denver layover on my way out-of-town.
I remain a broken record these last few posts. Reflections on my Southeast Asian travels, this past week’s VVC scouting trip to Chicago, and a Portland vegan nacho report (East End, Veggie Grill, etc.) are bound to come. I’m slowly compiling a list of my most memorable travel meals, and have been trying to recreate a few, as well. Khao Soi Noodles, Young Coconut Curry, Tom Yam, Tofu Larb and a ‘Wedding Dip’ in Siem Reap are all encouraging visits to Fubonn and eyerolls to food cart options. I’m now back in town for a few weeks solid, at the least, and caffeination has been at my side once I was able to stomach it in Portland once more…
From this weekend: cup of coffee, Chicago Diner
Equal Exchange beans & sugar
This past Autumn: Soy Cappucino, Cloud Seven Cafe
Just yesterday: Soy Cappucino [f] & Soy Latte [r], Fresh Pot downtown
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Hilltribe coffee & steamed soy milk, Blue Diamond in Chiang Mai
The post Montavilla Farmers Market stop: Soy Latte, Bipartisan Cafe
Soy Latte, Public Domain Coffee
PD/Coffee Bean International
Soy Latte, Aliviar Coffeehouse
Maeve and I stopped here before the screening of My Own Private River with Gus Van Sandt and James Franco at the Hollywood Theater. Jitters. Swooning.
Soy Latte, Coffee Division
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Lastly: more caffeination in Chicago. I picked up a pound of El Diablo Dark Roast from Intelligentsia’s Millennium Park Coffeebar on Monday.
Soy Latte, Intelligentsia in Millennium Park
Fall’s the best.
I remain broken-hearted that I was too busy to stop by the Portland Nursery for the Apple Tasting for the first time in years and years, so I’ve been consoling myself with autumn’s other BFF: pumpkin. I don’t take a knife to its face anymore, but I will scoop out the insides to get my pie and latte on.
And everything else appropriate.
Pumpkin Soy Lattes with cinnamon and nutmeg, Rain or Shine Coffee House
Pumpkin-filled, cinnamon crunch donut, Acme Donuts
I’ve given this SE Powell donut shop a hard time in the past, but things have improved with this pumpkin pudding-filled, lemony glazed donut. I say this lovingly, but honestly, the standards for vegan yeasted donuts aren’t that high as it is! And as someone who spent a few years in Boston, they charmed me with their new (to me, at least) slogan.
With the recent release of Terry and Isa’s latest cookbook, no one’s going to object my insistence that it’s the year of the pie, right?
Butternut Pumpkin Coconut Cream with a Bittersweet Chocolate Swirl
Speaking of, seasonal Whiffies remain one of my favorite things about the cart scene.
Pumpkin Creme filled Whiffies
It’s precious and deliciously fried. Like I could resist an inside shot.
The Whiffies’ Menu. Yeah, you see that asterisk.
The only thing better would be pumpkin chocolate chip. I’ll give it some time.
The following slice is from take 1 on a Heartichoke development. Next up, adding the ricotta-factor, a currant swirl and candied carrots.
Spiced Pumpkin Millet Teasecake with a Poppy Walnut Crust
In additional autumnal latte developments, two more spiced pumpkin creations from around town, one surprisingly more lovely than the other:
Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte, Peet’s Coffee and Tea
Pumpkin Spice Latte, Common Grounds Coffee House
It’s like the rest of Portland knew just how I was feeling.
Portland Farmers Market, PSU Park Blocks
In conclusion, I have tried three pumpkin beers so far this season. The first up was the Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale carried by Trader Joe’s. The verdict? Light, but weak.
Next up, Silver Moon Twisted Gourd Pumpkin Ale, from Bend. Getting closer.
Silver Moon Twisted Gourd Pumpkin Ale; kale in the sink
Southern Tier’s Imperial Pumking Ale, New York
My friend Janessa shared a bottle of this rich pumpkin ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company with me a couple of weeks ago, and this is the reason I have been judging all others so harshly. It was so good I assumed it came from the Northwest!
It costs a pretty penny, around $8-9 for a 22 ounce, but hey – my neighbors, the Beermongers, had it on tap while I was there over the weekend. Now you know what to do next time you’re waiting for a table at Portobello.
In strange yet true developments, I have two friends from my hometown visiting Portland on vacation right now. Tis adorable. I don’t typically admit this, but I’m originally from the South Shore of Long Island and my accent is in full bloom once more from being around my friends. Commence TAWKING AND WAWKING AND CAWFEE without any deep prompting from excitement or libations.
Said friends aren’t vegan, so I’m not breaking out the normal must-go-to Portobello and vegan bakeries routine. One friend, however, is allergic to eggs, and the other is a pesceterian, so they’re both cool with vegan options – which has included obligatory $1.25 vegan corndogs * at Hungry Tiger Too this past Wednesday and perusing food carts. I haven’t been joining in on many of their tourist activities as I’m working during the day, but we have strolled Last Thursday and Alberta a few times, Powells, and hit a few carts – pretty damn Portland. Isn’t it nice that the food carts (and that IFC show which I warned my houseguests to watch in preparation but to never mention in town) have finally given tourists something more to do in this city besides drink Stumptown coffee, sip microbrews, eat donuts and plan hiking adventures?
With that, it’s hard being a food blogger and playing a tourist in this über hip city – you have to be incredibly discreet with your photography so you’re not mistaken as either role in public, jeez.
*Truthfully, I’ve gotten to the point where I have ordered a corndog, but I can’t bring myself to eat it. As much as I can get down with pancake batter, I just don’t have any desire to eat veggie dogs.
Recently, a bunch of us PDX Vegan Iron Chef volunteers and friends headed north to Seattle to support our pals at Veganscore & The Great Vegan Chili Cook-Off. The fundraiser for their own eventual Vegan Iron Chef was a super fun and sold-out event full of enthusiasm, smiles and chili peppers, and I’m stoked to see what they have in store! Keep your eyes peeled to Tofu and Sprouts for 2nd place winner Marti’s wrap up soon. Hopefully she’ll post the recipe for her now-famous New Mexico Green and White “Chicken” Chili, too!
My typical adventures to Seattle naturally include coffee, Vietnamese or Thai food, rainboot wearing, lots of walking, and vegan bar food. Vacation consumption-wise, this past trip featured Trabant, Araya’s Vegetarian Place, brunch at Wayward, late night greasy bites at Highline and recuperation at Bang Bang Cafe the following morning. My camera battery didn’t make it very far, so here are a few pics from our 30 hours of vegan frolicking I wanted to share:
Next time I’m up there, I’m hitting up my beloved Georgetown Liquor Co. and In The Bowl again. It’s been far too long.
Not to get all livejournally, but I’m updating this early afternoon more well-rested than I’ve felt in weeks. There’s something to be said for falling asleep before the SNL repeat you intended to watch even airs. Therefore, there’s a warm, caffeinated beverage in front of me that I’m not depending on for fuel – it’s simply fitting in to my day. I’m heading to a big Vida Vegan meeting after this, and well, how could cafes that actually toast bagels, offer Earth Balance, and a project like that not put a smile on my face?
Is that classy or what?
It’s such a vegan pet peeve of mine when a cafe stocks more than a couple spreads and doesn’t keep a tub of Earth Balance on hand. The place I’m at this morning is primarily vegan and does, and the other great coffeeshop I considered, Floyd’s, totally offers it too. It was a nice realization in regards to those Portland bagels I find myself ordering a few times a year… I can remember carrying around tiny containers of melting Earth Balance in my pre-Portland days. That was silly.
In continuing seasonal syrup adventures:
Pear, Cinnamon & Brown Sugar (eventually drained):
You know what it takes for the posting of these examinations? Days that don’t belong in june, a return to japanese genmaicha and african rooibos, and another mild vow of cutting back on coffee. I don’t drink it daily, but goddamn So Delicious Coconut Creamer is dreamy, and I certainly broke my 1-2 soy lattes-a-week vow during the final past weeks of preparation for Vegan Iron Chef.
Here are some recent highlights in caffeination, including a stop at a sharp new favorite downtown - Public Domain, that evolved from Portland Coffeehouse. It is remarkable how they’ve elevated! The round up completes with a summer requirement: iced soy lattes. I’ll be on the search for Portland’s best as it warms up – any recs?
And the beckoning of iced lattes…