Back-log: Portland Vegan Dining: Food Carts, Portobello Brunch, Hungry Tiger Too & even more Native Foods

Something crazy happened last month. I was fairly busy, fell off my budget a bit (which is ridiculous with my month off adventure fast approaching) and managed to participate in food cart regularity for the first time in what felt like years, not to mention sit down for brunch more than once.

Super Creamy Ota Tofu Frittata from the new brunch at Portobello

(Nothing has ever made me want a side of garlic bread more in my life)

From opening weekend: the Heirloom Blood Mary & Mimosa

See that locally made Picklopolois Green Jalapeno Sauce? It’s your new best friend.

Both times I’ve visited, my dining companions have ordered the Chanterelle Homefries with parsley pesto. How I’ve resisted, I have no idea.

Roasted Sweet Potato, Root beer & Rum Waffle with Maple Syrup- macerated Peaches

Pad Kee Mow with Tofu & Vegetables from Ploy Thai

Indeed, there’s a new Thai cart in my life (farewell, Just Thai), Ploy Thai: Ping Yang Kang Street Food. I quickly became a regular visitor telling myself I’m supposed to up my heat tolerance before arriving in Bangkok, okay? Plus, they’re hip to the definition of “vegan” while maintaining flavor. They add serranos to their noodles for heat!

Pad Eggplant with wonderful, freshly fried Ota tofu

Sometimes, you just want beans for lunch. Vegetarian Combo of saucey black beans, white rice, tostones & pineapple at El Cubo de Cuba on SW 5th & Oak. 

Here’s a story…..What lays below is a yellow curry, Pokemon-inspired unicorn horn from the fabled UniCart. I’m not incredibly sure how it’s been developing. As per the website, it’s now “vegan with meat options”, and I hear it’s half fried chicken now? Anyway, I’ll keep my eyes open and nose held in hope, because the proprietor’s cooking had style – and originality.

My friend Melissa and I enjoyed lunch-for-brunch at the Hungry Tiger Too this week, who recently “streamlined” their lengthy vegan and omni menus – and as I’ve seen with my own eyes, added glorious floats with Chicago Soy Dairy soft serve.

I ordered the BLTeaser with hand cut fries (oh tots, life’s not the same without you!)

While she went for the Nachos with house nutritional yeast sauce, which truly made this happy hour-for-brunch, in addition to my hot pint of Bloody Mary.

Lastly, my fellow Vida Vegan Con organizers and myself took a dinner-time field trip last night to Native Foods. Best. Night. Ever.

This marks my third visit to the Portland area’s Native Foods, and I’m now half-considering braving the far out bus route and being really, really nice to my friends with cars. Breaking Dawn is surely playing at the Bridgeport Theater, hint hint, Karla!

Janessa, keeping it real.

We shared an order of the Native Chicken Wings, because they’re flaky, tender and impossible NOT to order. We went with buffalo, ranch and chipotle cream (Janessa is so ordering savvy!) 

I had thinly sliced seitan on the brain (who doesn’t? the gluten-free? they totally do) and looking to try something new, asked myself, “What would my friend Katie in Bellingham order?”, and went with the Chicago Dip Aus Jus with pickled “giardiniera extraordinaire” with a side of the lemony lentil soup of the day. It was tasty, yet exhausting!

Speaking of ass-kicking sandwiches, Janessa ordered the special of the day: the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger with FRIED PICKLE CHIPS. Holy moly.

Michele ordered something that’s been at the top of my to-try list: the Chicken Run (Ranch) Burger.

If your food take more than it seems 10-12 minutes at Native Foods, you get a comped dessert!

Here’s the Rose Petal Good Luck Cupcake and my immediate preference, the Peanut Butter Parfait.

Native Foods Weekend

The Flavorvegan contemplates the menu.

Earlier this week, after an enjoyable stint as a vegan trolley tour guide, I was out at a very vegan-friendly restaurant for dinner, and I couldn’t bring myself to order anything. It’s as if my entire menu-ordering mindset had shifted over the weekend at the soft opening for Native Foods Cafe. I’ve lived in Portland for years, was I only now…spoiled? I suddenly didn’t see the point in ordering a tempeh sandwich elsewhere. It’s as if the word Tofuffalo no longer meant anything to me. Where was my side of seasoned sweet potato fries? Why didn’t this restaurant have a crunchy kale salad when I wanted one? Where was my peanut butter parfait to conveniently take home and eat for lunch the next day? Which brings me to my main point: Why isn’t there a MAX line that leads directly to Native Foods’ front freaking door?

With the news of Native Foods’ expansion into the Pacific Northwest came ridiculous excitement (seriously, nearly every day from my friend Chelsea H, a former devotee of their Costa Mesa locale)

I believe they call this 'gushing' over a meal. In a good way.

and an almost as ridiculous upset as to why it wasn’t downtown. I mean, I get it – I certainly support suburbanites and westsiders eating vegan, and one time I went to a sneak preview of a Bridesmaids in that terrifying mall village and Native Foods would have been part of that wonderful evening had it existed, but my selfish, freckled fingers are crossed that one of their in-development locations will be a little more within the metro area! A little birdy says that one of the coming-for-us Veggie Grills sure is. Hint, hint, Tanya!

I’ve posted a bunch of photos from the soft opening here (and dude, I did not brazenly carry my little pink camera to the plating window – I’m not that type of blogger, but I will use my friend’s great photos), and while I returned last night for the official opening, I don’t have more to show besides Chelsea’s smile over a macrobiotic tempeh bowl and the confirmation that the Soul Bowl was as good as I remembered, circa 2009.

Soul Bowl, circa 2009. Costa Mesa, CA

During the soft opening visit, where all attendees’ meals were complimentary – and multi-course (!!!), my group spent our time waiting for a table stressing out over the menu, calling dibs, making certain that someone ordered the nachos, and working on our ordering arrangement. Ordering was just a tad easier last night, since we spent the car ride there distracting ourselves from the guilt of driving by reading the menu.

Some more photos from the soft opening…

The staff handed out samples of their steaming vegan chai for those in line. Liz was really, really grateful.

If I wasn't holding my Our Hen House bag, I simply could not have posed for this rare photo.

There was more than one point someone at my table moaned (myself included).

I know, right? Get the ranch for dipping. Now.

Native Cheese, I heart you. Possible cashew allergy be damned.

Again, full food porning from the soft opening over here on Stumptown Vegans. Now, can I get a sneak preview pass to a film I actually want to see already?

A Cat’s Guide to Vegans, by Buhbah

Since I’m busy elsewhere during MoFo month, I asked some special friends to help out over here. You have no idea the amount of strings I had to pull (and toss) to get this internet sensation to  sit down and share some deep thoughts. 

Remember my face.

Guest Blogger: Buhbah
Special Friend: Gabrielle, Vegans on the Move

A Cat’s Guide to Vegans, by Buhbah.

Some might call me a “scrapper from way back,” some, more accurately, “Buhbah.” Even though I’m afraid of leaves (those fuckers are shifty!), I think I’m pretty much the most streetwise cat on the block.

Case in point, I was living with this annoying-as-all-hell dog, two snotty indoor cats (look, it doesn’t matter if I actually sleep inside all day, I want the option to go on a little walkabout), and some people who fed me the wrong food, among other crimes. I noticed when a tall one and a still-kinda-tall-but-shorter-than-the-dude-one moved in next-door, and I saw an opportunity.

Hello, humans.

Strutting through their yard looking irresistibly cute, staring in through their kitchen window as they made dinner, purring and knocking my head enjoyably against every hard surface in their house—it took maybe a month for my plan to reaching completion, and probably only another month for me to become the internet sensation that I am today.

But what does all of this have to do with vegans? Yo, vegans are the shit. Shorter one is vegan, and as such, she is wired to be obsessed with cats and there is always, always, nutritional yeast on her desk somewhere (Agnes knows what’s up!).  Shorter one makes all kinds of delicious-smelling shit—I mean, I’ll stick with my tuna—but I’ll definitely rub myself up against shorter one in the kitchen when she’s juggling tomato soup-making, stovetop mushroom smoking, tempeh marinating, and that really horrible immersion blender thing. I kinda like Cheezly. Tofurky’s aiight.

Before they installed the kitty door, I creeped around. A lot.

The two best snugglers whom have visited taller one and shorter one in recent months are vegan. The first one was this blog’s very own Jess, who is a master cat whisperer and knows I like to be under the blankets. The second is my homegirl, who is actually a Panda Cookie, the creator of my most treasured possession: the catnip carrot, that, due to my fame, is now dubbed The Buhbah. I might be addicted to catnip, but no human watching a cute fur-ball such as myself rolling around with a pirate carrot, high out of his mind, is gonna judge.

Hanging out with Jay. aka the Taller One.

Basically, vegans are god’s gift to cats. Most of them appreciate that we don’t want to eat their weird tofu and stuff, but they love us all the same. Buhbah out.

Out.

A Day in the Life of Mercutio

Since I’m busy elsewhere during MoFo month, I asked some special friends to help out over here. Next up, a glimpse into the life of a real party animal in SW Portland…

Guest Blogger: Mercutio
Special Friend: Stephanie, Thoughts of life and dark chocolate

4:30am – I discover my food bowl is half empty (I’m a realist) so I attempt to rectify the situation by pouncing on the humans while they sleep. Extra points if I hit belly or crotch. Mother groans and hides under the covers.
4:32am – Attempt #2 at food service. I start in with my cute little “mew!” and don’t stop until somebody gets up. Usually it’s Mother who stumbles to the kitchen and scoops kibble into my bowl, cursing.
8:00am – Humans exit the house for the day, leaving me alone with HER, my nemesis Delilah. I pretend to cuddle with her while the humans are around for the sake of peace but she’s so annoying.


12:00pm – Success! Mother has left my favorite food in the garbage, wilted kale stems and bits of leaves. She never lets me have it, she thinks I can’t control myself. In my excitement I eat too much and knock the garbage over.


12:15pm – Too many green goodness, I make a mess. How do vegans control themselves when it comes to kale? It tastes like liquid gold. Like I know what gold tastes like.
5:30pm – Humans have returned, interrupting my 8 hour nap with tickles and hugs. LEAVE ME ALONE. No, NO. I do NOT want to wear the Santa hat. It’s the middle of f@$king summer!


7:00pm – The small annoying one has knocked over ANOTHER water glass. What a slob.
11:00pm – Humans retire for the night. I go to bed with them as usual and wait until they’re just about asleep, then I attempt to leave the room by scratching at the door and making a racket. Ruin MY naps, will ya?!
11:45pm – Delilah and I are wide awake and partake in a race around the apartment and over the bed. Bonus points for belly and crotch hits.
1:00am – Finally, humans are asleep and Delilah has scurried herself to other mischief. Time to enjoy my favorite nightcap.

What a day!

soy curls & margaritas

Portland’s had a weirdo summer all right. I blocked out most of the spurts of humidity (shades help), but it seems like it’s back with a vengeance for my goddamn birthday. I don’t plan on doing much today besides listening to Billy Joel, waiting to see if my second sibling remembers to call and imbibing on a refreshing cocktail or two, so I suppose I’ll manage.

The following watermelon margarita, inspired by Lauren Fitzgerald’s (of Millennium and Portobello) “market-driven” mixology demo at the Montavilla Farmers Market this past weekend, is totally in the running for 2011′s birthday cocktail:

Watermelon Margarita test run: fresh yellow watermelon juice, fresh lime juice, clementine liquor (subbed for Harlequin), silver tequila and a sea salt & cayenne rim

Learning how to make cocktails at the Montavilla market with the lovely Lauren Fitzgerald and her assistant.

Speaking of markets, I hit up three over the Labor Day weekend. This mini haul is from the Hollywood market, with a couple of bonus additions and the Sunny Day Farms zine for inspiration. Come to me, heirloom tomatoes!

My weekend also included a long-awaited date with the Flavor Vegan over cocktails and dinner at Sweet Hereafter.

I’ve caught myself joking more than once about how Soy Curls are so three, if not four, years ago, and I take it back.

The Buffalo Sub at Sweet Hereafter changes everything. It features hot soy curls, lettuce, tomato, tangy ranch dressing and creamy miso chive cheese in a crusty baguettewich (yeah, I said that) and blows every other tasty option I’ve tried at this bar away. Plus, you know, Chelsea is adorable, and we got to catch up on life and that con thing.

 Sazerac & Buffalo Sub from Sweet Hereafter: There’s a Soy Curl revolution in my life.

Playing tourist in Portland: Waiting at Voodoo Doughnuts

It’s taken a few months to mull this one over. Since then, this has happened, the re-opening of the newly expanded, original VooDoo Doughnuts (and whatever those leisurely, sugar-dusted picnic tables are about):

Just your typical Sunday morning wait. Click this for the current report.

Let’s non-scientifically estimate the above line around 30-45 minutes. It loops around a bit inside, as well.

I’ve joked many times about my desire for a locals only window. I give up.

I try and pretend that vegan doughnuts don’t exist, think about my spontaneous annual Flavourspot visit, and cross my fingers for a crispy waffle sandwich.

I remember Acme, calm down a wee bit, and then I forget those soft rolls exist for another eleven months.

It’s time to come to terms with these memories.

The following tale is true.

I once played tourist and waited in line for 1 hour and 10 minutes at Voodoo Too, and this is my story.

I’m not crazy, my houseguests were doing the tourist thing. It was their last day. We’ve all been there.

The entire visit was heartwarming and surreal – I had friends in town (plus an s.o.) from my hometown (technically one moved to Queens, but still!) of Islip, NY! It was a wild nine day period of polishing off my buried accent.

It’s almost amusing that one friend and I nonchalantly stopped by VooDoo Too for breakfast, waited in line for 5 minutes, received word that said line would last for over an hour, and wandered over to Grendel’s and Sizzle Pie instead.  I was already exhausted by 10am, thanks to our last-night-in-town karaoke bonanza the evening prior.

Being tourists (of the friendly omnivore variety) on their final day in Portland, they decided to spend the hours before their red eye back east eating. A lot. I’m talking food carts, totchos, beer, coffee, breakfast pizza, elephant ear and donuts. Being of the food blogger variety, I’ve found myself in similar modes on my travels, so I get.  I was naturally up for the photography, though my stomach didn’t catch up until hours later, back home, with my own doughnut.

Back to our big day.

10:30am

Jess: Um, let’s see how quickly this moves.

Friend: Look at these idiots!

These are what you call doughnut tourists.

10:35am

Jess: So, the Voodoo truck [parked outside] is selling doughtnuts by the dozen. No vegan donuts, but you’re not vegan so you don’t care, and they’re pretty much what you’re going to buy and it has NO LINE.

Friend: Do you want to carry around my box all day? Let’s come back later!

I think they're renting parking lot space to a used furniture depot.

10:40am

We leave the line in desperate need of coffee and sustenance, casting evil eyes at the tourists, mainly couples (who aren’t smiling – what a fun line! what a delayed sugar rush!), slowly carrying out their own pink boxes.

10:41am We notice the following on our way out…

I see someone else is lacking patience.

11:15am

Jess: Well, breakfast pizza is just as cool as a donut and will probably cure my hangover. I know, I know, you’re from New York, but I think you’ll like this.

Fast forward to Friend excitedly recapping the trip on the phone later in the day: “In Portland, they eat breakfast pizza!!!!!!!!”

(Who doesn’t!?)

TGI Pizza

My breakfast! I even picked off the dreaded c-herb.

12:10pm Cart contemplation downtown. Friend is still smiling in photographs.

The panda is wise: Why wait in line when you can have a Dutch taco?

12:40pm We peruse the Saturday Market. I remind myself that it is, in fact, Sunday.

1:30pm 

Friend: Shouldn’t I be eating something? It’s been an entire hour.

Jess: You’re probably right. I’m worried about your blood sugar.

My friend gets acquainted with Oregon’s signature fried dough tried, the elephant ear. Vegan tip: Simply request your ear without butter at this Saturday Market stand – with cinnamon sugar or local marionberry jam – and you’re in the clear. Get ready to spend the remainder of the day walking. Maybe after a nap.

It's almost a smile!

"Portland! Even your playgrounds have farmers markets!" - my dear friend's cute observation

Next up, it was time to bear witness. My houseguests were married at the 24 Hour Church  of Elvis walk-up gallery. They didn’t sell me their wedding photos, so I’ll leave them private, but let me show this much wonder:

We pressed many, many buttons.

I did sneak this one:

Cue Celine Dion.

Afterwards, it was time to celebrate and cross the river for further cart consumption. We opted for a little Cartopia, daylight style: Potato Champion! Whiffies. Crepes. Enough said.

Chipotle Vegenaise break. My allergic-to-eggs friend was saddened by her oddly crispy vegan crepe.

Next up: honeybuckets

3:30pm

Eventually, there was one big item left on our Portland to-do list, and it just happened to be more food in big pink boxes. Once again, I suggest the mixed dozens from the VooDoo truck outside. Once again, this takes the magic away.

4:06pm

After roughly waiting roughly 35 minutes on an even-longer line outside, and catching up on the past decade, we made it into Voodoo Too:

Patience, patience.

4:11pm

We could finally not just smell, but SEE doughnuts:

Taking in the sights...

4:21pm

My friends contemplate what non-edibles they're going to take home.

If people were sitting at these tables, we'd be glaring at them.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what I came for.

To think, they're half-smiling under there.

4:50pm My friend’s new friend. We await our bus back home.

Friend:  If anyone in New York complains about these doughnuts, I will hurt them.

Jess: I miss you already.

VooDoo Tales on Get Sconed!

10:20pm

And then it was me and my doughnut, and my houseguests were on a red eye to JFK.

The good news? As per recent observations and the re-opening of the larger original location, it appears that the line at VooDoo Too has calmed down. A bit.

Playing tourist in Portland

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.

Iced toddy and carafe of soymilk, Barista II. Creepy friend in the background, of course.

Iced toddy and carafe of soymilk, Barista II

Alyse, meets the Floor Punch. aka The Bye & Bye without the booze.

BBQ Brussels bowl, The Bye & Bye. I'm normally a BBQ Platter gal, but the brussels were calling my name.

BTW, The Rapture TM hit NE Alberta. Remnants.

I played tourist myself, lunching with a friend at Nicholas, SE. Photo by Melissa.

Obligatory rainy day lunch time visit to the food carts, SW 9th. I had a vegetarian "can you leave out the fish and oyster sauce, please? thanks!" lemongrass tofu salad bun from the Mai Pho cart on SW Alder.

Small french fry, vegan chipotle dip, Potato Champion! (now bigger!)

Alyse's first Whiffles. I think she found our peanut butter chocolate chip fried pie both mystifying and glorious. I think it was my first pie of the year! I dedicate this pie to Panda.

Back to NE Alberta for Last Thursday

Last Thursday on Alberta. My friend was considering buying one of these fabulous skirts until she saw the $125 price tag.

For some reason, my friend was a bit creeped out by the candy schoolbus. Quirky buses I've seen on Alberta now include the beer bus, grilled cheese bus, bong bus, Vaudeville showbus and the candy bus.

El Nutri Taco Truck

Could this really be the first cupcake first cart I've seen in town? The return of the cupcake? I didn't check it they had vegan options- anyone know? cute logo & colors.

food & beer buses. how we roll.

Lastly, I had a chance to hit up the Baked! ma & cheese window for dinner.

Margherita vegan mac with tomatoes & garlic, Baked! take out on NE Alberta. Hell yeah. It was super salty, but super creamy and good without any of that gross packaged vegan cheese-ness going on - I'd add a green vegetable next time, for maturity's sake.

And before they depart, they plan on getting hitched at the 24 Hour Church of Elvis window after a couple rounds of Ms. Pac Man and Visos at Ground Kontrol. Oh my god, what should I wear?!

*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.

Smokey Baked Mac & Cheese and inspiration from Bang Bang Cafe in Seattle, WA

Smokey Mac & Cheese, inspired by Bang Bang Cafe

This recipe marked the first time I’d turned to VegWeb for guidance in years. The veg recipe directory and LiveJournal’s vegan cooking communities were my learn-as-you-go and read-the-comments because you can only-sorta-trust-the-internet tip toes into the vegan culinary world back in the early 2000s. It’s like I can recall mildly freaking out when the number of nutritional yeast sauce recipes rose above 10. After our time apart, I admit that I really enjoyed seeing that most of the recipes I perused were still called “The Best Ever” “The Very Best Ever” “Mom’s Best” “The Best in the World!!!!”, etc. I like vegan enthusiasm.

To get to the point, I just decided to chance it on the internet, test my tastebuds and emulate the memorable vegan mac & cheese my friend Chelsea ordered at Bang Bang Cafe at Seattle this past weekend. I stole a couple of bites, and I was a little jealous that I hadn’t ordered their smokey vegan mac for breakfast, too!  I thought it was so good that it must contain vegan cheese, and was surprised to learn that it was tofu and nutritional yeast based! Swell.

Back to Bang Bang, where I fed my bourbon-induced mild hangover a more wholesome bean and roasted veggie filled burrito. When I returned, however, I had a potluck meeting to attend to the next day and after browsing my limited ingredients and finding a box of whole wheat shells, knew it was time to eye my 2 jars of Spanish smoked sweet paprika, Hungarian hot paprika, Hungarian half sweet paprika, Alder smoked salt and my good buddy, the giganto container of nutritional yeast flakes. The finished result didn’t seem to fit everyone’s tastes – which is how vegan mac & cheese always seems to work – but more than a couple folks seemed obsessed and another friend had me write down the recipe, so here we go. Dare I say I had fun making a mac & cheese recipe where you simply had to puree the cheesy sauce ingredients..because, I did.

Smokey Baked Mac & Cheese, adapted from Best Vegan Mac and Cheese in the entire world…seriously, as posted on VegWeb.com. I halved the recipe and made a few changes based on what I was aiming for and had on hand.Go, go smokey, creamy mac!

Ingredients:

  •    3/4 lb whole wheat pasta or rice pasta, preferably with ridges

Cheesy sauce

  •     1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (I used a combination of So Delicious coconut milk beverage and soy milk)
  •     3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  •     1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or non-hydrogenated margarine
  •     1/2 cup water
  •     2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  •     1/2 cup soaked and drained raw cashews
  •     1 clove of garlic
  •     1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • pinch cayenne
  • pinch hot paprika
  •     generous pinch of salt (add more to taste after blending sauce)
  •     1 tablespoon mustard (I used TJ’s spicy sweet mustard)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Additional: 
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup vegan cheese (I used Teese cheddar sauce)
  • breadcrumbs
  • pinch of additional paprika and cayenne
  • olive oil mister/spray
  • smoked salt

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly grease a small casserole dish. Boil the water and cook pasta 1 minute less than instructed. Drain and add to your casserole dish. You’ll want at least a couple inches of room to be able to add the cheesy sauce.

2. Puree the cheesy sauce ingredients  in a blender until smooth and adjust the seasonings to taste. Carefully stir into the cheesy sauce and vegan cheese, if using.

3. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly on top, followed by the smoked salt and additional paprika and cayenne, if using. Lightly spray with oil. Bake until the breadcrumbs looks golden, 15-20 minutes. Broil an additional 5 minutes, if desired.

Serve with steamed greens, unless you’re nuts.

Bang Bang's Vegan Mac & Cheese

The aforementioned vegan breakfast burrito with red chile sauce

Alicia's Bang Bang burrito with red & green chile sauces

Melissa went with a classic Mighty-O Donut

dinner dates

Truth be told, I spent a decent portion of my free time being a hermit and talking to my cats. Every now and then, I break out the Mrs. Meyer’s basil, put on a dress, warp into hostess mode with a big party, or more recently, smaller dinner parties, or frankly, pie circles (hello, test kitchen) and tell my friends to simply show up hungry. The belated Hidden Gems wrap-up is truly coming next; things like life and my jobs and commitments and pie making, simply, and pleasantly, have gotten in the way. That’s all I can handle of this ‘me, myself & my blog’ discussion, so with a deep breath, let’s move on to the photos.

Here’s what I’ve been up to, culinary wise, recently:

Berry Balsamic Pie with Olive Oil Lattice Crust. From the PPK Test Kitchen. With each crust, I get a little more confident.

Coconut Lime Cream Pie with Rad Whip (test 2). From the PPK Test Kitchen.

Grasshopper Pie and the Berry Balsamic, for a recent impromptu dinner party with friends, including my dear Vegan Moxie.

Santander salad, a test run for this weekends Spanish-themed Heartichoke dinner. Im in awe of my BFFs plating and design here.

More of this past weekends Heartichoke-orientated spread, including smoked balsamic shiitakes, vibrant saffron pickled cauliflower and carrots, grapefruit marinated olives and the third and final test batch of the smoked potato cheese in the rear- we have a winner!

Rewind a couple weeks ago - I put together a soy & gluten free vegan spread for a dinner date with a friend.

Caribbean kidney bean curry, smoked balsamic mushrooms (love.these.), my first fried plantains with coarse salt, cheesy shallot rice fritters.

For dessert: dark chocolate, agave & crushed macadamia nut pudding.

Lastly - bring on the seasonal produce! Heres my haul from this past weekends farmers market: microgreens, cornmeal, spinach, collard raab, chives, rangpur limes, tulips & purple carrots. Cause little known fact: theres a purple carrot on my foot.

And hey, if you see me around town lately, there’s probably a piece of pie in my bag, just waiting for you to inquire.

I went to Seattle VegFest and returned with a lot of tea

It’s true! One would think it would be locally roasted coffee, but I have a whole lot of random tea bags waiting for me at home. I picked up a few coupons and sampled most of the new vegan items amongst the vegetarian (more on this below), got my Field Roast on, did several shots of coconut water, casually spread the word about Vida Vegan Con with the Voyager, but most importantly, I saw friends and took a much-needed mini vacation!  Here’s a quick run down and photos…

Best in Show: Prometheus Springs Capsaicin Elixirs. Invigorating, spicy beverages with exotic, stimulating flavor combinations such as Lychee Wasabi, Citrus Cayenne and Pomegranate Black Pepper. I only hope I can find these in Portland!

Saddest in Show: The Burgerville cow ad at the Chez Gourmet table.

I wish this was in Portland: Small Planet Tofu. My mysterious day job has taken me to Spokane on more than one occasion, and Huckleberry’s Market, along with its bulk, seasoned tofu, spreads and tofu scrambles is always something I look forward to. It’s cool, keep it local – I’ll pick more up on a road trip one day…

Note: Seattle Vegfest organizers, your mass of volunteers was an impressive sight, and certainly friendly – but maybe a briefing on vegetarian vs. vegan next time around? Postings would be helpful. I was warned in advance that VegFest is is more of a ‘vegetarian fest’, which is funny for a city that’s been such a ground-breaker in the vegan community, and sure enough, there were many product samples that weren’t vegan, which is fine, but in addition, there were quite a few volunteers who weren’t sure of the difference. I found myself reading more labels than I’ve done in years. Yikes! It was an odd feeling to feel like a left out vegan….at a VegFest.

Onwards to the photo tour…

Tea & Coupons

The crowd - can you spot Vegan Moxie?

Prometheus Springs’ magic elixirs

Finally clarified which Chez Gourmet Burgers are actually vegan!

Team Wayfare, promoting their new sour cream, chocolate pudding, and my favorite, the hickory cheese spread

Creepiest in show - but remarkable!

This vegan seafood is damn impressive and based on a root - I wasn't a fan of the cioppino, but below...

Yeah, the breaded vegan calamari was crazy fascinating. I would buy this in the future.

Looking for serious vegetarian guidance? Consulting & mentoring opportunities are all around.

White Mountain's tamales had a dulled spice factor. Oh, frozen food.

I want this.

The mime works the coconut creamer.

BREATHE.

YES, I TRIED THIS BEFORE YOU. YES, IT WAS PEPPERY. YES, IT WAS SPICY. Alas, not my jam.I swear, there were people passing around around this station.

Some popcorn sampling?

THIS

MIGHTY-O! How can you resist?

Chez Gourmet

I have no idea what's happening here, but I had to document it. My guess is chili.

Hard-working volunteer action.

And yes, it looked like this the whole time. I lived in my cowgirl rain boots.

Of course, a stop was made at Sidecar.

Where I sensibly picked up a couple fresh Mighty-Os to bring home.

Shockingly, there was no time for coffee?! And yet, I even stayed next door to the downtown Trabant.

I may still be digesting this killer Chicken fried steak plate from Wayward, but it was worth it.

My friend KJ, ready to devour her veggie omelette - within mere minutes!

One day, I will actually make it here.

More food! My friend Anika (you read VeganScore, right? Right!) took a break from the VegFest madness for lunch at Bamboo Garden. Pictured above is the Tofu Skin Hot Pot with Szechwan sauce. Possibly the best Chinese dish I've tried in Seattle yet.

Sweet & Sour orange glazed Chicken Ballz. Exactly.

Seattle, I'll see ya again at May's Vegan Chili Cook-off!