parking lot motivation & nachos in Costa Mesa

A few motivational parking space shots from The Camp in Costa Mesa, CA.

Appropriate, even if I arrived via public transportation (big high-five, google maps on a smartphone! you make life better) and as a stubbornly proud non-driver who fears cars, found myself cursing most vehicles on a regular basis throughout my trip. Really, that’s nothing new.

The first spot that touched my heart:

I would randomly park  here.

Right on.

I could nap here.

I have, I promise!

I do! If you don’t, I have a half hour rant about to begin that includes vomitting on you.

and then I remembered I have a short attention span, so onto the site….

The Camp:  home of sporting goods, alternative goods, hippie goods, and most importantly, the Native Foods yurt. I was hoping to pick up another pair of shoes at Humanitaire, but they’ve moved to Santa Monica since my last visit, and I didn’t make it there in LA.

I had gone last year with my friend Joni, fell head over heels for a ranch chicken & veggie bowl and fancypants rose petal cupcake, and returned for another visit on my OC adventures this past month.

Inside the Yurt.

Yep.

Behold! The Native Foods Nachos. I make a point to opt for dishes I wouldn’t typically order while on vacation, and this was one, since I can be so damn picky about Mexican food with my distaste for onion pieces and utter hatred of cilantro. They subbed parsley! More details on the SV travel piece soon.

And because I never actually posted it, last year’s Soul Bowl:

I know, right?

Coming Soon: more travel tales from Washington and California, Portland happenings (like the fact there is a food cart lot with a stupid name but exciting carts coming ten blocks from my apartment), Vida Vegan developments, VeganMoFo in November, Heartichoke, and —-  cooking! I learned that slow roasting tomatoes just may be the perfect way to welcome sad-season tomatoes, and myself, into the chillier months.

return from travels & vegfest photos

Alright! I’ve spent the past weekend resting, doing laundry, and catching up with my cats after two weeks traveling on the West Coast for my mysterious day job.  As much as I usually think Portland is the bees knees, and as much as I complain about having a day job, I’m grateful for my employment and the bonus opportunities to explore other cities (and play travel writer). Back to my point and purpose here – I was in town for just over 24 hours halfway between my journeys north and south, which fortunately, allowed me to attend Portland’s annual VegFest. I may not have had time to experience every single exhibitor booth or attend any glorious talks, but I did get to see countless smiling veg-faces and proudly table for Vegan Iron Chef’s big public, pin-dispensing debut.

Most of these photos were taken as Saturday was ending. Pretend people aren’t falling asleep at their booths and that there’s a never-ending stream of veg-happy and veg-curious folks, because there was!

Photo essay time:

My favorite on the show floor (you can’t deny it was mostly a trade show out there, and I say that fondly): So Delicious.

I can’t really think of any flashy new veg products I hadn’t seen before or that blew me away, so I’ll call my favorite as I see it – So Delicious Coconut Creamer. And well, they were one of a couple of vendors offering complimentary coffee, and as I was there all day with my own mug, I happily drank it. On top of that, I have a fond memory of my friend Melissa bringing me one of their coconut ice cream sandwiches…

Deanna works the NW Veg table. She does so much for the vegan community and it clearly loves her back.

Here’s dear, smiling Wendy: VegFest organizer and author of the Veg Food & Fit blog.  She’s tabling with a friend for her recent cookbook release, Scatter Vegan Sweets.

What to wear when you’re veg…besides Herbivore, of course.

The German Viana line. In the past, I found these very hit or miss for my taste buds – but after sampling most of them, I really dug the Doner Kebap and Veggie Cevapici.

Supreme Master:  Never disappointing. Just tired. We had the sweetest reporter from their channel, Youping, come with a small team to Vegan Iron Chef last year.

Lundberg: Where I learned that according to CNN’s Health reporters, Black Rice could be the new Brown Rice. Noted.

Chicago Soy Dairy bros. Mozzarella teese, I got your back.

Fair Trade Theo Chocolate Samples

Another favorite of the day – Soy Feta at Heidi Ho’s Organic Vegan Cheeses. Locally made & currently available at Jazzkats Coffee Bar.  They graciously donated a fruit & hazelnut cheese spread to a Portland talk my friend & fellow blogger Janessa (with a new domain!) and I did last month for Try Vegan Week.

VegFest super announcer and staple, bodybuilder and author, Robert Cheeke, signs those autographs

Hold onto your hearts, you crazy Daiya heads – Amy’s  Vegan Mac & Cheese.  I finally tried it and have to give a big ol’ Pass, but I get convenience. I get novelty.

Pull yourself together! One more Daiya shot to go… Now this pizza? I really get it.

Thai and True’s distributor’s stand tied with Chicago Soy Dairy for the stand I supported the most, financially. I picked up 4 small tubes of teese (on sale 2 for $5 – it really bothers me that I can only get teese at one store in town, albeit the great Food Fight!) and restocked on Yellow and Massaman curry paste. Locally made & VEGAN.

Don’t buy curry paste from a can. This is so much better (or make it!)

Another popular neighbor, naturally:

Portland <3 Kombucha

I overheard such interesting, varying comments from the folks stopping by the Gardein table. What do y’all think?

Out to Pasture Sanctuary.

I  know these are *just beans* , but they really are good beans! The Better Bean Company.

A big bowl of spices at the CuisineMentor table.

Photo evidence of the crowds, and that guy on the left eating.

Food vendors. Who’s been to Yummy Tummy? I keep hearing such positive things!

Red & Black, my favorite anarchist cafe-runners, tabled on Saturday.

Sengetera, selling Ethiopian veggie combos.

My girls at the Vegan Iron Chef table:

Day Over! Back to the real job.

Off to work, work, beaches, work, Costa Mesa, and a few days vacation for my first time in Los Angeles after this.

I have a geeky Stumptown Vegans review of this cafe below coming soon….

quick thoughts on travel snacks, boring eats & a thank you to Koyo Organic Ramen

I’m currently in between short business trips somewhere calming, but less than bountiful, vegan-option wise.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve had to truly rely on my emergency rations (bars, instant soup, hummus, fruit, peanut butter, go!). I’ve become so spoiled by Portland and trips to cities that offer vegan culinary adventures as a sweet bonus. I’m fully capable and experienced in special requests, but it’s not like that always works out for the best. And quite frankly, I am just depressed by mundane options and iceberg lettuce and people offering me bacon wrapped scallops and not sure which part isn’t vegan.

Long rant shortened because I’ve been vegan and positive for far too long to truly complain, and I am pretty impressed with the expansion of Luna and Clif bar flavors in the past few years. I thought my new favorite would be the Carrot Cake Clif bar, but it was pushed over by the White Chocolate Macadamia – which yup, is vegan and made with cocoa butter!

The simple hero of my vegan convenience foods that didn’t require refrigeration-or-microwaving was Koyo Mushroom Miso Ramen.  Everything tastes better out of a mug, especially when you’re sitting in a hotel room watching Iron Chef. I used to keep this as a back up option at work, and I think I still have an expired package somewhere, but it was since replaced by downtown food carts.

The only actual meal I was able to semi-successfully order? This pizza. Here comes another mini rant.

blondie's pizza

There was a cheese-less foccacia on this pizzeria’s menu, but when I attempted to order it without cheese, it became just that, an attempt.  I was assured that the pizza didn’t hold together without the cheese. Okay. I was able to talk the staff into a cheese-less personal pizza with tomato sauce. I like to think that every time vegans state their requests, courteously, it helps the vegan (menu ordering) cause.  The next vegan or picky person won’t seem so strange and the term enters the establishment. When I passed on the parmesan as it was delivered, I received another curious/judgemental ‘no cheese’ comment. Vegans are just that shocking.

As for the pizza? I did eat some, because I was a) ravenous for a real meal b) paid for it and c) was gracious, but I won’t be returning here later in the week. Flimsy, dried mushrooms, over-cooked, muted black olives, super thin tomato paste-consistency sauce, and just blah crust. Blah!

I’ll pack more fruit and ramen.

Photo Essay: boston. vegan. vacation. go.

Just what got checked off the Vegan To-Do List from my Return to Boston post…

See tall buildings? check!

beantown

As for food, let’s start with the No Name.  If there was a flag representing Vegan Boston, this would be on it.  The very first gluten/fake meaty anything I could stomach! (and now require at least once every two years).  Battered gluten, sweet and sour sauce, sesame seeds, broccoli – need I go on?

they call me no name

More from Grasshopper – Tofu & Broccoli

1/100th as exciting as the No Name, I know.

Grasshopper

What best follows Grasshopper?  Pizza! Who’s with me? (Not immediately after! Allicia can attest.)

Slice of the day from Peace ‘O Pie in Allston.  With Daiya, vegan sausage, pine nuts, kalamata olives, and roasted garlic.

Peace O'Pie

I was really content with my experience at the former T.J. Scallywagg’s.  On top of that, this was the first time I tried the Mozzarella Daiya and continued eating.  Super nice staff, great menu, and gluten free options!  Any place that optimizes the pine nuts gets a gold star in my book.

My friends shared this intense looking vegan ham & mushrooms pie:

Peace O'Pie

Tableside jar of Parma.  A shaker of nooch (okay, or Parma) is the true sign of a vegan friendly establishment.

Parma at Peace O'Pie


Soy Latte from Espresso Royale on Newbury Street

Espresso Royale

Featuring Bagel Rising bagels and cream cheeses & tofu cream cheeses!

Below, you can see my first East Coast bagel experience – a real treat with jalapeno tofu cream cheese, roasted red peppers, and sprouts. Thank you to my friend Sarah for the rec, even if I wasn’t badass enough for the vegan Tequila bagel sandwich!

bagel rising

Spike’s Curly Fries

spike's

Dinner at Montien Thai Restaurant in the Theater District.

One of those great, impromptu dining decisions.  I was really pleased that our server didn’t even flinch at the vegan requests.

Montien

Sorry for the flash photos, but what can I say? It was after a bubble gum martini at the IT.

Montien

Rice Noodle something something.

Montien

Back Bay, the old college stomping grounds.

boston

Comm. Ave – tiny little bits of old snow that broke my heart.

Comm Ave

Wired Puppy Coffee on Newbury St.

NEWBURY ST

Espresso from Wired Puppy.  Every now and I give in and decide my stomach is up to the task.  It was worth it.

Wired Coffee

Davis Square & Blue Shirt Cafe

Blue Shirt

My friend Millie and I decided to visit Davis Square for a bit. I have so many fond memories from my first apartment there.

Our original intention, besides wandering memories, was to visit the new, all vegan Pulse Cafe that someone had left me a comment about a couple months ago. Sadly, we were in Davis early on, and the cafe didn’t open until 5pm.
We then browsed the menu at Diesel Cafe and were both bummed that the most exciting vegan option being a hummus plate, and went corner the corner to Blue Shirt for lunch. The cafe had expanded since my days of running in for a wrap with tofu to quickly eat on the T to class or work downtown, and it at least seemed like their vegan options had as well.  There were a few more mentions of tofu on the menu, but bizarrely, it’s not that they weren’t vegan, because I comprehend that honey and eggs are utilized, but that there wasn’t a vegan-izable version of a couple of these options. Both Millie and I found our wraps unexciting, which is extra sad considering that a) we have just flown in that morning and were ravenous, and b) we’re both excitable people!

A Disappointed Millieship

millie! with a boring wrap.

Her Disappointing Curry Wrap

wrap

My Disappointing Wrap.  I rarely don’t remember what something was, but this…huh?

wrap 2

Expanded Blue Shirt Cafe

blue shirt

Ah, Chinatown.  I remember when I found you terrifyingly sketchy to walk through at night as a college freshman.  How things change. This is where the original Buddha’s Delight was. I did go for lunch at My Thai, and have a review in the works.

Chinatown, Boston

Soy Latte from Boston Common Coffee Co. in Downtown Crossing. News to me. I have to say that it doesn’t look like much, but it was decent.

soy latte

Let’s head to Kendall Square. When I lived in the area, I was constantly paranoid of secret helicopter pads and underground labs blowing up on the MIT campus.

jess 032

My reason for the venture to Kendall – scoping out the Clover Food Labs food cart. It was nearby the relocated Olive Tree cart, which was formerly my staple Jerusalem cart (and restaurant). I was in college, so my diet was supposed to consist of $3 falafel wraps.  C

jess 033

Heading down to Central Square – just because it’s fun, I will mention again how much I used to love Pu Pu Hot Pot, their free delivery, and Spicy Tofu and Broccoli in Garlic Sauce.  And again, did you see their name?

Central Square

The highlight of my time in Central Square, or Cambridge, for that matter,my first exposure to Leslie and the Lys!  Wow. Wow. Wow. WOW.

leslie

Another highlight? 1369 Coffee House.  So reliable!

jess 015

Vanilla Soy Latte.  Vanilla = Vacation.

Soy Latte from 1369

Next up, NYC.

Return to Boston, MA: My Vegan To Do List

The Vegan Strip in Allstron: Grasshopper, Peace O’Pie and Deep Ellum

vegan strip in allston

Prior to my return to Boston in February, I engaged in my normal vegan research:  googling “new vegan boston”, updating my facebook status with vacation countdowns, trying to make sense of reviews on Yelp, and inquiring with the best on a PPK thread.  A huge list of maybes was formed, with less than 4 days to make it happen…

These were the must-gos (and eats):

  • Grasshopper of course! My bad memories of this place are quite behind me.
  • Grezzo: upscale raw dining in the North End – crossed off because I went last Spring & I was on something of a budget.
  • Red Lentil – newer vegetarian restaurant in Watertown – I didn’t go, but my travel partner, Millie, raved about it and a cauliflower dish…
  • Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown- alas, I’ve yet to go.
  • Veggie dog and curly fries at Spike’s – curly fries, check!
  • My Thai Vegan Café (old Buddha’s Delight location, upstairs) – I’m working on a separate, small travel review for Stumptown Vegans. I miss Buddha’s.
  • Veggie Planet in Harvard Square – because I’ve been so many times & it wasn’t pulling me back on this trip.
  • Vegan ice cream and baked goods at Allston Café (formerly Herrell’s)
  • Wheeler’s Ice Cream – I returned for my second visit here, and…they weren’t open.  I’ve heard so many stories like this.  There were boxes all around the front room. Please post hours and keep to them?
  • Bagel Rising bagels – jalapeno tofu cream cheese & veggies on a bagel at Espresso Royale - and a fantastic soy latte.

Newer Recommendations:

  • Pizza at Peace O’Pie (old TJ Scallywag’s location)
    • And bringing said pizza into the glorious Model Café next door (if you haven’t been, or you have, you know I mean that fondly, but sarcastically).
    • Consider me a fan after my slice of the day!
  • Deep Ellum bar – the vegan offerings intrigued me, and the cocktails – even more so!
    • I had an El Diablo margarita with chili-infused agave. I wanted to sip it all night.
  • Clover Food Lab – vegetarian cart in Kendall Square/MIT – I sought this cart out for a meal, but sadly, they only had oatmeal available at the time for vegans, so I passed.
    • The vegan lunch options seemed more inviting – really nice staff working.
  • Jack and the Bean Bowl – vegetarian cart in Copley Square – wasn’t open on the weekends when I checked.
  • The Pulse Café in Davis Square – another sadface! stopped by with Millie for lunch, learned it didn’t open till 5.  A very disappointing meal followed nearby.

Also on my To-Do’s:

  • Great soy lattes – check! at 1369 in Central & Espresso Royale on Newbury
  • Leslie and the Lys at TT the Bear’s – Millie convinced me to go to this.  I took her word on it – and was AMAZED.
  • The Middle East – tends to be a regular stop on my trips, but not this time.
  • Cheap falafel – technically happened at Olive Tree, but it was so dry and everything else in the wrap was so bland. I don’t forget how blah vegetables can be around Boston.
    • particularly sad because I used to frequent their cart (or the previous owner’s) on a much-too-regular basis in Kendall Square
    • their bathroom situation was hilarious…leave the front door, walk literally around the block till you have the big green door in the back, and find the bathroom with the broken light inside.
  • Thai cuisine - surprise dinner at Montien in the Theater District – fantastic!
  • Harvest Coop – I browsed and picked up a fair trade coffee at Clear Conscious Cafe
  • Sam Adams beer – because it’s Boston? in any case, it didn’t happen this time. FYI, according to Barnivore, all their beers are vegan except for the honey porter and cherry wheat.
  • Karaoke - Do Re Mi almost happened, but it wasn’t meant to be…
  • Martinis with Maria – bubble gum martini, check
  • Wandering Davis Square
  • Frolicking in snow – there was some snow on the ground, but not enough to keep the smile on my face.

What actually happened?

I spent a few days in Boston just last May, so I didn’t have to jam it all in.  My primary reasons for going were snow, friends, and spending a few days of my much-needed vacation in a major city I was familiar with.  I attended Emerson College in Boston in the early 2000s (and I’m admitting it, Maria)! I’ve lived in historic buildings downtown, a beautiful old house in Davis Square, a craphole in Mission Hill and an ever bigger craphole in East Cambridge between Central and Kendall Squares. It’s the city I discovered my veganism, went to my first vegetarian restaurant (then Buddha’s Delight, originally upstairs) and started almost becoming an adult. And then I ran away to Portland, of course.

Food cart row at MIT – Clover is the furthest

jess 033

The No Name at Grasshopper

they call me no name

Slice of the day at Peace O’Pie with kalamata olives & vegan sausage

Peace O'Pie

Check back for more of the riveting, snow-less photo tour.

Musings on New York Bagels

Knuckle Sag Bagel Sandwich from Boneshakers in Brooklyn, NY

Boneshakers NYC

Memories & Musings.

Every now and then I grab a bagel from a certain local bagel chain in town. The owner is actually from New York, though their boiled bagels aren’t quite channeling even half the perfection that belongs to true New York bagels.  Hailing from the fish shaped part of the Empire State myself, I’m admittedly a bagel snob.  I think this local chain has some of the most easily accessible, better quality bagels Portland has to offer (though the consistency wavers), and that nearly all the others in town are like rolls with holes.  Big ups to Sweetpea in Portland for offering a variety of flavored Tofutti along with their bagels.

The sight of a big brown bag with a dozen from Bagel Boss was a regular sight in my house growing up.  Sesame, Poppy and Cinnamon Raisin have long been my favorite varieties of these thick and chewy representatives of New York. It was normal to opt for a bagel with cream cheese for lunch in high school, even when you’d likely be eating one the next day for breakfast. Go, carbs, go! Same for college. While I was stunned by the difference of airier Finagle Bagels when I moved to Boston for college, I still have a small soft spot for them. Ironically, and adorably, my younger sister in New York still asks me to bring her a super cinnamon raisin back whenever I’m going between the cities, years later.

On my recent NYC vacation, I took home half a dozen from Bagels on the Square.  My sister works nearby and is often picking up a bagel there for lunch while we’re on the phone.  Photos of their selection are below – these are the kind of bagels I’m reminiscing about! The kind I’ll rave about for minutes!

I don’t have my sister fed ex me bagels or anything, and they certainly didn’t keep me in New York, but the memory, and reality, of true bagels, holds.  Thick and chewy circles of memories.

Great New York bagels make the rest pointless…or simply vehicles for Earth Balance or peanut butter or Tofutti or whatnot.  I’m not saying I always stick to this, but I can maintain an authentic bagel hiatus knowing I’ll be back.  I wasn’t even aware of this emptiness in my life until a few months into my move to Portland – I had returned to NY, suddenly, and needed a bagel.

Bagel Case at Bagels on the Square, NYC

BAGELS

There were at least 5 or 6 varieties of tofu cream cheese in there!

Cream Cheese R Us

The Boneshakers bagel sandwich was a beautiful sight.  Turmeric colored tofu scramble, melted Daiya cheddar, browned veggie sausage, and that swell bagel.  I’ve come to accept that Daiya has taken over the world and it undeniably worked and melted in this bagel sandwich.  This sandwich could be part of civilization! It could star in a commercial!

That being said, it was on the bland side, overall, but there’s always hot sauce – and again, just look at it!  I look forward to spending more time at this cafe on a future visit.  Their menu was really appetizing and the location reminded me of Red & Black.

Bagel Sandwich!

Boneshakers NYC

More on Bagels:

Three Days in Seattle, Vegan Style

I had a string of poor luck with meal choices on my East Coast vacation, and I must say that 3 days of vegan meals in Seattle kinda kicked the butt of my week of vegan consumption in Boston and NYC.  With some exceptions, of course.  I really do believe that food tastes better in the Pacific Northwest.

For one thing, the coffee is fantastic.

Soy Latte from Herkimer, University District

Herkimer, Seattle

I spent a lot of time working in a couple coffeeshops.  Unlike Portland, I was stunned to easily find a seat at shops.  This simply means Portland needs more coffeeshops, gosh.

Herkimer

Soy Latte from Trabant, University District (49th Parallel beans).  Just….right.

Trabant

Vanilla Vegan Chai from Trabant

Trabant Chai

Trabant

If I had more time…I would have hit the Korean Tofu House for dinner.  One day!  They open at 7pm, and I simply didn’t have enough um, dinner openings.

Sorry Mike, Sorry Vijjy! I just peered, like a tofu stalker, during the day…

will I ever make it here?

Oh, and look, another Tofu House!  This one was pretty much beef with tofu, beef with tofu, beef with tofu on the menu, though.  Tofu stalker will investigate further…

another 'fu house

Angel Curry with Soft Tofu from In the Bowl Vegetarian Noodle Bistro. My first time there, my first meal of the trip, my favorite meal of the trip! Review coming to Stumptown Vegans.

In The Bowl, Seattle

Wayward Vegan Cafe.  This popular cafe recently moved to a new location on University Street in Seattle’s slowly expanding V-District, and overall, bestowed the second of the top two meals of my visit.  Thank you, vegan omelet!

Sham and Cheddar Vegan Omelet with roasted potatoes – hello, vegan diner food.

Wayward Cafe Vegan Sham & Cheddar Cheese Omelette

Giant side of Garlic Steamed Greens with a little visit from the nutritional yeast shaker and hot sauce.

Wayward Garlic Steamed Kale

The line to order.  It was almost out the door at times!

Wayward Cafe

More to come.

Wayward

Flowers Restaurant for the Vegan Lunch Buffet

to michelle, love jess

My dear friend Michelle has been recommended Flowers several times over the past three years, and I note it on my sporadic northern trips.  I finally put aside the call of vegan chinese (I had my full on the East Coast) and hit up Flowers last week. Finally!

Flowers

My plate from the Flowers buffet.

Flowers Vegan Buffet in Seattle

My favorite parts were the chilled roasted broccoli and creamy, tahini-like pasta salad.  Personal preference – I wish some of the cold items were hot.  I really dug the large variety and wish I had more room to try more!  There were numerous stewed dishes, roasted vegetables, baba ganouj, fries, and more, that I would like to try another time.  With my friend Michelle, ideally!

The large buffet lays beyond these windows. Every now and then I’m too shy to take all the photos I’d like.

Flowers

Stumbling upon the University Farmers Market = heck, yeah!

University Farmar, Seattle

Intriguing fruit vinegars and sauces and whatnot.

U-District FarMar

Just builds the anticipation for the Portland Farmers Market opening next weekend!

U-District

It wasn’t me.

Seattle

Spotted downtown: kale

kale kale kale

New experience: Vegan coconut based ice cream at Full Tilt Ice Cream Parlor, below the popular Cedars Restaurant.

Seattle

Okay, there was a large piece of hair on top of the flavor I was leaning towards, Toasted Coconut, so I went with the enjoyably rich Almond Joy with bits of chocolate and almond.  It happens.

Vegan ice cream

My only disappointment was on a second visit to Georgetown Liquor Co. My first experience was superb.  This time, I still enjoyed my microbrew and Nintendo, but apparently if you don’t state vegan!!!!!!!! at this vegetarian restaurant, even when your sandwich isn’t listed with cheese, it comes with cheese, as does your side salad.  As the Vegan Shiz would say, sad face.  It’s been so long since this has happened to me!  There is a note on the menu stating vegan cheese can be subbed for any vegetarian cheese, and a few items are marked NV, but this wasn’t one, nor did this list cheese.  Now I know.

Georgetown Liquor Co.

Where to next?

back to portlandia, once again

Flowers Restaurant, Seattle

to michelle, love jess

once again, I’m back after a bit out of town.  this time, it was for a few days in Seattle.  while I was there, I decided my next realistic dream job involves frequent travel and keeping Portland as my home base.  I certainly can’t afford to travel recreationally as much as I’d like, and I’m fortunate that my current job lets me travel a bit. I’m getting the teeniest bit restless living here for 5+ years, but it’s Portland! It’s amazing! Quality of Life! etc. etc. etc.

that being said, I have three travels’ worth of photos and thoughts to unload soon via flickr, this site and stumptown vegans!  I’m hoping to get back to normal life and do this sooner than later.  rationally speaking, naming my flickr photos should not overwhelm me!

heading into overwhelmingly awesome plans, Portland’s Inaugural Vegan Iron Chef is officially happening on Sunday, June 6th, 2010 in the early evening.

It’s being presented by Try Vegan PDX, and I am beyond ecstatic about it.  The official contestant invites went out yesterday! So many wonderful local vegans are already involved!

Stay tuned for more by becoming a fan on facebook and watching the ‘lil twitter.

a few recent photos to get back into the swing of things…

Smokey Split Pea Soup, from Isa’s Test Kitchen

Isa Test Kitchen: Smokey Split Pea

Soy Latte from K&F Coffeehouse in Portland

K&F

Dr. Cow Nut Cheese with Hemp Seeds from Lifethyme in NYC - my first time trying this, call me a fan! It’s sitting on top of a raw apple cranberry treat from Lifethyme, too.

Dr. Cow Nut Cheese

My sister, Jen, agreeing to visit Vegetarian Dim Sum House in NYC, yet again.  She’s a hip little flexitarian, and enjoys the Roasted Pork Buns and main dishes here.

Veg Dim Sum

Of course, something like this, which Millie and I really enjoyed, horrifies her.

dim sum

Oasis Falafel, Brooklyn, NY. This was GREAT at midnight after a long night, but made me incredibly sick.  fun times!

Oasis Falafel

so much more to come.

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Kudos to JFK’s Vegan Options: CIBO Express

Heck yes, vegan sushi at the airport!

Outside of overpriced chips and desperate, packaged Alternative Baking Co cookies, the only thing I’m consuming at an airport may be a glass of wine or cup of herbal tea before my flight.

On our way back to Portland last week, Millie and I perused the normal food stands at JFK’s Terminal 5, the land of JetBlue, and slowly noticed a trend – CIBO Express Gourmet Market had actual vegan food items. Warning, give their website a minute to wander into.   At our first CIBO, we saw sushi and hummus, and that expanded into a lone packaged Thai noodle salad – with a couple dumplings!, which grew into discoveries of bean and grain salads, and into a small row of packaged vegan noodle salads and a few veg-salad sandwiches at the CIBO by our gate (the 3rd or 4th we visited).

They’re packaged cold options, but still!  There’s also a Jamba Juice, a salad bar, and Lucy’s Asian Kitchen seemed like it might have had a veg-friendly dish or two.

There’s no bagel shop with rows of flavor tofu cream cheese, but CIBO sure beats crap or nothing. Check out CIBO in 8 domestic airports, include Tucson!

I was damn stoked to sit down with a reasonably fresh cucumber avocado roll for dinner on an airplane – and watch Sheer Genius for the first time ever.  The roll came with little packets of soy sauce and wasabi, and the sushi itself was rolled in sesame seeds~

A delighted Millie exploring the vegan-y fridge

back to portlandia!

I’m officially back from a one week vacation to Boston and New York with my friend Millie. I’m a little bummed it didn’t snow, but I had swell times, so I’ll live.

Expect a bajillion photos next week.  For now, let me say that the most awesome things I sampled on vacation were a variety of sushi at Soy and Sake, a latte at 1369 Coffeehouse in Boston, the new Peace O’ Pie, and a NYC bagel.  I need to go back to my rule of not eating bagels outside of New York State.  There’s simply no point.   Other highlights (or amusements) included the Leslie and the Lys show, a bubblegum martini, double doses of fake shrimp, Stogo, and Daiya cheese everywhere.  Is it the new face of veganism?

Vanilla Soy Latte at 1369 Coffeehouse in Central Square. Cambridge, MA

Soy Latte from 1369

I went for the vanilla, cause you know, I was on vacation…

Upcoming posts: NYC and Boston travel write ups, the secret project with Janessa and Portland’s First Vegan Iron Chef news!