Heartichoke: The Perfect Lychee Martini

Photo by Jen

‘Perfect’ is such a temperamental, evolving term, and I certainly wouldn’t be using it if my sister didn’t keep lychee juice in her fridge for her precious lychee martinis. Our stop into Verlaine on the lower east side, years ago, for … Continue reading

31 Hours and Three Lattes: A Seattle Photo Essay

Last month, team VVC took a quick trip to Seattle.  It basically went like this: Soy lattes were sipped. Pickle chips were consumed. Vegan treats were sought out. Locations were visited. It was business as usual.

One of my first stops: a mug of house Caffé Vita & the vegan chocolate cupcake at Cupcake Royale

What clearly, caught my attention. I must admit, with a sign like this, I was expecting more than one vegan option, but it was good, albeit crumbly.

Once I arrived in the U District, I stopped at Trabant for a soy latte.  

Thanks, Rayray.

For brunch, I arrived early and revisited Plum. I had enjoyed the spicy mac & yeast, years ago, but overall, was left with a really greasy feeling in my stomach, and I’m not usually one to say such a thing.

The perplexingly plated Fresh Tofu Benedict – with tender, savoury seitan unlike anything I’ve had before (making me want to try it in pho), paired with a pomegranate mimosa.

droid photo, whoa-oh

I’m pleased that I tried this – and it was the most expensive item on the menu, but I would opt to try some of their fancy pancakes next time. I’m glad I dined solo and no one was there to witness the constant state of distress I experienced with each bite.

Dinner time, I met up with team VVC for hugs and cocktails at a seemingly mandatory stop on my past few Seattle visits: the Highline.

Sometimes I’m thrilled with my food, sometimes I’m near-terrified. This time, my long-awaited pickle chips were served indoors, remained crispy and warm for an impressive amount of time, and I was ranch-dipping and stoked. Yeah, they were salty and battered and dill-y and awesome.

The TLT. Classic, but nothing on D.C. Veg’s new TLT-on-a-sub-roll creation.

We stayed in a budget hotel outside of the U-District, which meant we somehow found ourselves across the street at the Ram for some type of manic late night happy hour with $3 pineapple  & whipped cream vodka cocktails.

Michele and I went with the upside-down pineapple drop, with Vanilla Stoli & Pinnacle Whipped Cream vodka; Janessa went with a microbrew

Breakfast time at Herkimore: Mighty-O doughnut & soy latte. Ah.

Naturally, we picked up some goodies at Sidecar.

Our sight-seeing including a visit to Pike Place Market and Cinnamon Works.

The elusive Michele picks up a cookie.

One day, I will actually take note of whose art this is at Bang Bang. Because I want it on my walls. All of them.

I did manage to grab a plate of their smokey mac & cheese for lunch, while my silly cohorts ate bagels or something. I was content!

Smokey Mac & Cheese  with a side of toast, Bang Bang Cafe 

We had a meeting at the Seattle Public Library for our VVC Tech Seminar in the fall.

Janessa doing some undercover location scouting.

Supplemental caffeination via an iced Americano with soymilk at Victrola Coffee

Spiked refreshment, courtesy of a jalapeño pomegranate margarita at Bimbos Cantina

It may not have had that spice the name promised, but there was green hot sauce on the table – and a photo booth downstairs.

For dinner, we were joined by our friends Dawn and Anika at another Seattle vegan favorite, Teapot Vegetarian House. I hadn’t been in years, and it was a great time.

Our table somehow fit not one, but two of these BoBo Platters

Michele may have used these bamboo skewers as defensive weapons throughout the meal.

Our table also shared Beef & Broccoli, Vietnamese Crispy Fried Noodles – a unique dish I’d been craving since 2007, and a Ginger Soy Chicken special.

No photos of the noodles, but let me add that I’ve been googling them sporadically since first trying them, and have never seen anything close!

Mandarin Crispy Tofu

Lastly, souvenirs.

The espresso blend was freshly roasted and on sale for $5. Heck, yes. Cue cold pressing.

Eugene, Eugene with the Sisters Legume

Communal breakfast caffeination at Wandering Goat. Photo by J. Legume

It looks me nine years of dwelling in the Pacific Northwest, one quick train ride, and the encouragement of two sisters, but I finally made it to Eugene for the weekend recently. The break included sunshine, strolls, Lane County farmers market, vegan food, frolicking at the top of Skinner Butte, soy lattes, TMNT: The Secret of the Ooze, and the charming company of the Sisters Legume.

Everything I’d heard about Eugene seemed to be true: it was scenic, it was cozy, it was much closer than I thought, there were lots of bikes, interesting pizza, cute vegetarian carts and the breeze often carried a delightful combination of nutritional yeast and pot. It reminded me of weekend trips to Northampton, MA during my college years.

After a late night arrival, we started the weekend bright and early at the Wandering Goat coffeeshop. We quickly moved on to the second order of business: picking up treats for later at Sweet Life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard friends who’ve been to Eugene debate Sweet Life vs. Sweetpea, it’s ridiculous. Just bring on the pastries!

Inside the box: cinnamon roll, salted caramel cupcake and blueberry fritter

The verdict on the box from Sweet Life Patisserie:  I appreciated the dark (perhaps, black cocoa powder?) chocolate cake of the cupcake with bites of the rich, coconut & brown sugar-tinged salted caramel frosting. It made me realize how many bakeries must use cheap cocoa powder – the difference here was apparent. The blueberry fritter was more like a soft scone, which wasn’t up my alley, and while I didn’t try the cinnamon roll, J. Legume found it to be  a “fine cinnamon roll”, but ” a struggle” to devour. So darling.

Once we had consumed and breathed in enough sugar for the morning, we stopped at the downtown farmers market to take in some greens.

Raab perusal break at the farmers market

It would be another week before I had a chance to visit the Portland Farmers Market since it’d reopened for the Spring, and my local green-seeking-radar was going crazy. It had been so long since I could purchase raab without a plastic tag. So, so long.

Choi samplin'. This booth has tasty sesame seed-based mixes for sale.

In addition to a beautiful bunch of gai lan for a Bryant Terry recipe, I picked up sun-dried tomatoes, buckwheat pancake flour, Dakota black kernel popcorn and garlic.

Spotted on our stroll along the river: this is how we do it.

For a legitimate lunch, we stopped by vegan food cart-turned-adorable dinerette, Cornbread Cafe.

Since moving to Oregon in 2004, I've sipped from many a mason jar. It took a year to get over the nonsensical horror.

Counter-style seating at Cornbread Cafe

Why does one go to Cornbread Cafe? Why, vegan comfort food. Shout it out style: VEGAN COMFORT FOOD.

Just look at this menu, full of cruelty free country classics.

My new, bizarro cashew allergies withheld the gravy and cheese sauce options (and the d-cheese does not appeal to me), but I was incredibly satisfied with my plate, so who cares?

I don’t, and will continue to tell myself this (alright, again and again), return, and chomp into more crunchy-coated Southern Fried and Buffalo style tofu, after which, I will one day try the Shredded BBQ Seitan and Chicken Fried Tempeh.

Basically, I’m already penciling in a second visit on my next trip to Eugene, unless the Garbanzo Grill cart catches my attention first. We can share.

Such vegan wonders from such a small-ish city! That’s the Northwest for ya.

Pictured: Southern Fried Tofu, jalapeno cornbread with Earth Balance, Uncle Todd's sauteed baby spinach, BBQ sauce and mashed potatoes - hold the gravy.

Sisters A. Legume & J. Legume

For dinner, we picked up a pizza from a place I’d heard both raves & a few whines about through the years, PRI: the Pizza Research Institute.

Admittedly, I decided to bypass the famous peach and pear topped ‘zas once I heard they were canned fruit, which is silly, since the pineapple and jalapeno party below was the same case, and it was March.  We built our own pie, and while the tangy, miso cheese sauce took some time to set, it was a welcome change from processed shreds. The toppings, however, overloaded the chewy crust. That being said, I’d return to try out a peach slice and a pint of ale. There’s no way around it. Plus, any pizza is better pizza when paired with costumed turtles.

Pizza with red sauce, vegan cheese sauce, spinach, jalapeno, pineapple and herbs.

Cowabunga, Eugene – til we meet again.

The view from Skinner Butte