Monday, May 23, 2011

Biscuits and Gravy across America!

Since I've settled in Brooklyn, my blogging time has really disappeared, but I'm still eating copious quantities of delicious vegan food, and a recent Beauty Bar and Sailor Jerry-sponsored Pin-Up Class tour I went on gave me some time to try out delectable vegan delights across the US while I spread vintage pin-up glamour and put on burlesque shows.  

I started off in Seattle, where I taught my pin-up class high atop Queen Anne Hill, with an amazing view of the Space Needle and sucked back the fresh Pacific air. I don't get a lot of fresh air in Brooklyn, so it was a nice treat for my lungs!  My first stop for food here was a place I haven't tried before, and now I know why.  It's called Sunlight Cafe, billed as the longest standing vegetarian restaurant in Seattle, and so bearing this in mind, I was quite disappointed when the blandest meal in the world was served to me.  Now I'm not a huge fan of tofu scrambles at their best, to be fair, so bear this in mind at my review, but this is the type of meal that gives vegans a bad name: devoid of salt, chunky, undercooked veggies, altogether a meal not made with taste or pleasure in mind.  I think the photo below really says it all:
Yes, those are big chunks of PLAIN TOFU!  A light drizzle of soy sauce or something like it was sprinkled over this 'scramble' at the last minute.  Meals like this really ruin my whole day.
Luckily my next stop in Seattle was far more pleasant.  I would have thought with a hippie-ish name like Silence-Heart-Nest that I would have been in for some seriously obnoxious and healthy blandness like you see above, but it was amazing! I'm talking about my favourite vegan breakfast food, biscuits and gravy, served with a large portion of homefries!!  Even my parents who think I am a "VAY-gun" loved this place, so that's saying something!
After Seattle, I jetted off to Denver, Colorado for the first stop of my Beauty Bar tour, and what a first day!  I got up earlier than I go to bed most nights to catch an early morning flight from Seattle, and mercifully Rosie, the co-owner of Beauty Bar took me directly to City 'O City, a delightful punk rock hangout where I decided to go for the biscuits and gravy again.  No sense in passing that up! 
It was amazing, and I was also able to get steamed almond milk, which I prefer over soy any day.  It didn't hurt that they were also playing one of my faves, Immortal Technique; I enjoy a healthy side of political underground hip-hop.  I checked into my hotel for a bit, had a short nap, and then went to the Denver Beauty Bar to teach a SUPER full pin-up class, followed by a great burlesque show where I got to book my favourite performers from the area!  Luckily one of the staff at Beauty Bar offered to grab me dinner, in the way of a fried peanut butter sandwich on VEGAN banana bread again from City 'o City! Cora Vette did an amazing job as host, and I was excited to see Vivienne Vavoom, Miss Orchid Mei, Lo-Lo Flamingo, and Veronica VanTassel shimmy and shake the night away.  Hoarse and exhausted but SO happy, I collapsed into bed that night for a couple hours before getting up in the early AM again to do the whole thing over again in Las Vegas the next day!  You can see my bleary view at the airport in the morning to the right.
I was very excited about my trip to Las Vegas, not only because it's one of my favourite cities, but also because I was getting to work with some dear friends.  I had Amina Munster assisting me at my Las Vegas Beauty Bar Pin-Up Class, who I first met back when I started modeling for SuicideGirls.com, so it was so fun to catch up with her!   My class was great, and while my vegan food wasn't so great as to warrant photos, I was stoked to find a place called Thai Vegas that delivered to my hotel in the Fremont Street area (see my view in the photo at right), and it was cheap and quick, and still good after I got home from my show VERY late.  After my class I went to a place called Hennessey's Tavern, where the veggie burger itself wasn't vegan, but the sweet waitress brought me a delicious portobello mushroom burger that was, so I didn't have to pass out from starvation before my show that night!  I couldn't have asked for a better line-up in my show that night, starting with my great luck at having my dear friend Vincent Drambuie in town for vacation and happy to host the show.  Rounding out the burlesque show at Beauty Bar was Cha Cha Velour, Renea' Le Roux, Bobbie Baltimore, and Miss Karla Joy, all amazing gals who I can't wait to work with again.  My favourite NYC chanteuse, Melody Sweets, is now living in Vegas headlining at Absinthe at Caesar's Palace (a great show, you must see it before it ends in September), and she brought the cast down to my show and we all piled into the photobooth to capture the moment (See left).  Needless to say, I stayed up way past my tour bedtime, and while still early for a showgirl, my early morning flight made me a bit grumpy, but very glad I had made arrangements with my cabbie coming into town to pick me up the next day so I didn't have to sort that out in a 6am stupor.
While I was loath to leave the warmth of Las Vegas for chilly Chicago, I was thrilled by the decor of the Beauty Bar in the windy city, check out this picture I took in class of one of my favourite modern vaudeville entertainers, Lula Hoop Garou!
I had another good sized class here and was ably assisted by Dee from Black Hearts Hair House, so things went quite well here.  I'm pretty sure my schedule did not allow for me getting any food that day until dinner (ACK!) but I was able to slip across the street between class and show with my lovely costar pictured above for vegan sushi that was pretty decent.  The show that night was very fun, with Lula Hoop Garou doing her amazing hula-hooping routines (seriously, youtube that girl!), Jeez Loueez, Deirdre Doll, Scarlette Deville and host Jack Midnight.  Chicago did not disappoint me vegan-wise, never fear!  I had a lovely meal with an old online vegan friend at Karyn's Cooked and capped off my tour with more vegan gravy, which you can tell is a fave of mine! I would definitely eat here again.
That's all for now, I'm in Memphis at the moment and that's a whole new blog I hope to write soon!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Soy Nog!

Tis the season for seasonally themed soy drinks, my two favourites being Silk's Nog and Pumpkin Spice.  Right now I'm cozying up with a mug of hot chicory faux-coffee with stevia and a generous amount of Pumpkin Spice soy milk, incredibly delicious!  It's doing a pretty good job of keeping my mind off the fact that I burned the end of my finger pretty good while making a test batch of my Dad's family recipe for candied potatoes in anticipation of a big potluck Thanksgiving feast this week.  Unfortunately, typing this blog is giving that burned finger a good reminder to be more careful on the next batch, ouch!
As the sole vegan at the upcoming potluck, I'm feeling the usual pressure to impress, lest people get the idea that vegan food is boring, so I'm pulling out all the stops.  I picked up a Tofurky, which I look forward to every year, and I made cranberry sauce from scratch.  For dessert I think I'll make an apple pie, since I'm no good at making vegan pumpkin pie, I'll leave that to the professionals.  And of course, there will be the candied potatoes and gravy.  I'd love to hear what fellow vegans are making for their Thanksgiving!
I've had a busy few months getting settled into life in Brooklyn.  I love my new neighbourhood in Bed Stuy, with it's beautiful old architecture and surprisingly easy to find vegan options, particularly compared to my old hood in Bushwick.  I walked around and took some pictures this week of some of my favourite buildings.






While I'm excited for winter and the chance to wear all my fabulous faux fur creations, I'm also looking forward to warmer weather so I can bike around and explore Brooklyn more.
Anyone reading this from Bed Stuy, and know of any good vegan or secretly vegan spots I should check out?  So far I've only been to Bushbaby, which was amazing!  I had their vegan tuna wrap one day, and LOVED it, and then had their vegan grits and faux chicken for breakfast another time, and though I wished I'd shared it with a friend because it was way more than my little tummy could hold, I'll definitely get it again.  It trumped my first experience eating grits for sure.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brooklyn Comfort Food, Columbian style.

One thing that puts off a lot of people from switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet is not being able to eat all their favourite comfort foods.  Thankfully, there are a few restaurants stepping up to fill this void.  Brooklyn in particular, is a hotbed of delicious vegan goodies, each filling their own niche.  I recently met up with a friend at Park Slope's V Spot, a Columbian-inspired vegan eatery, with so many delicious options, and vegan pancake brunch too!  This time around I had breaded cutlets, which are crispy soy cutlets slathered in mushroom gravy, with sides of sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes.  It reminded me of one of my favourite dishes at another vegan comfort food haven, Real Food Daily, a must-visit next time you're in LA!
If you have a small appetite like me, make sure to either split an entree with a friend, or save half for later, because you are definitely going to want to have one (or more) of their amazing desserts!  I know I really should have taken a pic of the cake I got, but it went into my mouth so quickly, there was no time or thought to photography, and I think that is a more glowing recommendation than a pretty picture, am I right?
If nothing else, love this place for its sense of humour, something often said to be lacking in us vegans.  The sign on the front door says "Sorry carnivores, we're OPEN".  Genius.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Yeast on Toast? YES PLEASE!

While life on the road can be excellent, there is something to be said for one of the finer pleasures of an at-home breakfast: toast.  You would not believe how much you miss toast until you live in an RV and can only have dry toast occasionally at truck stop diners (though I have been known to pack my own Earth Balance margarine and occasionally Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter into Waffle house at 2 am). 
Yesterday I scraped some pennies together to treat myself to 4.4 ounces of heaven on toast, Marmite.
To the uninitiated, Marmite is a yeast-based spread, very dark brown in colour, and has a sharp, tangy flavour.  It's vegan, naturally, and very high in a veg*n's most sought after vitamin, B12!  Since it has such a strong flavour, it's definitely an acquired taste, which you either love or hate.  I happen to love it, especially on hot toast with some earth balance melted in, and if I'm really flush I'll melt some Daiya vegan cheese on top of the thin layer of Marmite.  Today I put it on a thin slice of healthy German bread, making myself feel quite cosmopolitan. 
Expect to see more posts of being vegan on a budget over the next few months while I'm living in Brooklyn, scraping together enough cash to pay my monstrous legal fees to get my green card so I can stay in America.  Feel free to help feed my love of food, literally, by going to Bettina.ca to donate or buy some of my merch
What is your favourite breakfast food?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mighty O Donuts!


It's no secret that I have a major sweet tooth, especially for baked goods, so it should come as no surprise that my mouth drools for the organic vegan goodness of Seattle's Mighty O Donuts! Every time I make my way through the Pacific Northwest I make a point of visiting their cute little bakery and filling my donut hole. This time through I stayed for quite a spell, meaning multiple stops here, yum!
I've never tried a flavor I didn't enjoy, but my old favorite, Lemon Poppy Seed has been trumped by their fritters, my favourite being the apple fritter, though their locally-sourced organic blueberry (pictured) runs a close second. I'm missing their new peach fritters by a week now that I'm back in Brooklyn, so I need my Seattle peeps to give me a full, bite-by-delicious-bite run-down. My other new favorite offering is their Raised Glazed (I think I got the name right, I'm always in a food coma when I leave the store so my memory is not great). These heavenly morsels are reminiscent of the soft and squishy, thickly glazed donuts I remember getting on Hot Dog Day in elementary school, only now I can order as MANY as I want. Being a grownup rules. My tastebuds miss you already, Mighty O!




Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Boulder Colorado Power Bowls

Sometimes on the road I happen upon the most delicious food totally by accident, without even trying! When I was in Boulder, Colorado at a photoshoot, I discovered a great organic smoothie spot right next to the photographer's studio, called Rush, where they happened to make my favourite snack, power bowls! For the uninitiated, these are bowls with a super thick and yummy smoothie on the bottom - my favourite flavour being something with açai berries - and then granola and fresh fruit on top. I was first introduced to them when I was on tour in Hawaii a few years ago, and fell in love with them! They are popping up on menus across the west coast lately, but I don't see them inland like this generally, so I was amazed! Impressed by the eco-friendly nature of the shop, I ran out to the RV to grab my ceramic bowl so they wouldn't have to use a paper bowl, and ate my delicious Beach Bowl (make sure to ask for it without honey if you aren't Bee-gan like me!). My tourmates Bonnie Voyage and Lil' Miss Firefly were so intrigued that they ran in to get their own flavours, and while sitting and eating the super nice owner came over and asked us how we liked the food, and then went in and brought out a few of their really yummy travel packs for us to sample later on the road! What an absolute doll! There is no better way to woo traveling performers than through our stomachs. I saved mine for a few days later, but when I finally tried the vegan Yoga Bowl, I was impressed! No blender needed, just thaw and eat! Luckily for those not in Boulder they sell them at Whole Foods in other Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Kansas cities so check them out!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Des Moines Salad Bar

So this is more about funny things I don't eat than what I do, I just had to take a picture of the awesome 'salad bar' in the otherwise super vegan-friendly Hy-Vee I shopped at in Des Moines, IA. To be fair they had other actual vegetable options in the slightly longer salad bar, but the showpiece was really the foursome of oreo cookie pureé, strawberry fluff, green jelly ambrosia and chocolate mouse that were the centre of the salad bar. Totally awesome, and made me laugh out loud, which to be honest, I really needed that day since I had just had a sad goodbye at the local airport. Being able to stock up on vegan yogurt and various other rarities in the midwest cheered me considerably as well. I actually really love a good ambrosia salad, and think I should try to make some when I get back to Brooklyn with delightfully vegan Sweet and Sara mini-marshmallows!