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!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I love Iowa City!

It's blog update day, sitting around bummed after watching Germany's World Cup defeat.

I'll be honest, my expectations for vegan eats were low the first time I played Iowa City, and it was only by chance that I popped into an unassuming place called Fair Grounds Coffeehouse after my iPhone Maps app showed it in a search I did for the word "vegan". I thought maybe I'd get a soy chai or MAYBE a muffin, but instead I walked into vegan paradise! This place specializes in vegan waffles AND french toast, and makes possibly the greatest soft vegan cheese ever, which I HOPE they start shipping and/or marketing to retail chains like Whole Foods so more people can taste their genius. They also have a case of beautiful baked goods, and even though they have a sign stating it's all vegan, I still had to ask because it looked so good! I'm that annoying vegan, sorry. So this time around, I had to have a redo of my first meal, but after realizing I could have dinner there AND brunch the next day, my friend advised me to try something different first so if it failed to impress I could have my favourite the next day. I love eating with another foodie, who can help me eat strategically! Haha!
SO, I ordered from their brilliantly all-day breakfast menu so I could try their waffles, and was not disappointed in ordering the Cheesy Apple Walnut waffle. It arrived on a no-frills plate, with a pat of vegan butter and maple syrup, but the excitement was hidden inside, with chunks of yummy apple and their in-house Mockstarella cheese distributed evenly throughout. Then I bought two cupcakes to go, the amazingly moist and delicious Red Velvet "Waldorf Astoria" and the S'More cupcake, which was supposed to "taste like camping", but trust me, was way better than smokey weenies!
The next day I ordered probably the best brunch dish ever, the Vegan Monte Cristo! The picture says so much, it's a beautifully presented dish, with two slices of homemade bread hugging yummy grilled tempeh, 'bacon' and their house brand of Swizz cheese, covered in soy butter, syrup and powdered sugar. It's the perfect combo of sweet and savory and I'm drooling at the very thought! It's food so good that you get angry and yell. Can't wait to go back to Iowa City.

Milwaukee Vegan Surprise!

So I know there is probably a lot of interesting vegan fare in parts of Milwaukee, but as I travel with 5 non-vegans in a very large RV, my options are limited to whatever is within walking distance of the venue. We played a lovely place called the Miramarth Theatre on North Oakland Ave which has a cute little 3-block stretch of stores and restaurants. Right across the street from the venue was a Thai place, which I've always thought was a safe bet for decent veg food...boy was I wrong. I've eaten my share of Phad Thai, and I've certainly had mundane or boring versions of this dish, but this place made a totally unrecognizable version, that was so awful we had to walk out, seeking something more edible down the street at Shiraz Persian Grill, hoping for that other no-fail tour meal, falafel. I shared a vegetarian Falafil Platter, which did not disappoint, but needed a little extra to get the bad taste of that awful Thai food out of my palate, so I had the man at the counter ask the kitchen staff if there was any chance the baklava was made with olive oil instead of butter. It WAS!! Vegan baklava makes everything better! It wasn't as good as my homemade stuff made with Earth Balance, but it was made with pistachios, my favourite, and was dirt cheap. Next time I go there I will definitely try their fresh juices as well!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chicago is delicious!

So this was my second time eating my vegan face off in Chicago, but
this time I stayed in the super cute Wicker Park area. I was fortunate
to find a foodie ally in Robin, the cute cyclist who ran the Wicker
Park Inn B&B I stayed at, and she recommended two great spots,
Handlebar and Earwax, both awesome! My friend and I checked out
Handlebar for dinner, a cute bicycle punk-run place reminicent of
Boneshakers in Brooklyn, another fave place of mine. The star player
of the night was the fried dill pickles with vegan ranch dip. The
breading on the pickles was SO perfect, really great pickles too, I'm
drooling at the memory. I might have yelled at the pickles, they were
that good. Let's just say they beat the hot pants off any similarly
named dish you'd find at Hooters. Our main dishes were good too as I
recall, but their memory was erased by the amazing little turnovers we
got for dessert, called Peanut Butter and Jelly Fried Pies, which I
had to order because they sounded so terrifyingly intruiging. They
looked like little 3-bite turnovers, filled with pb&j, and so good
they dissappeared before I could snap a pic. Find them online at http://handlebarchicago.com
or in real life at 2311 West North Ave.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Baby's First Grits!

It's almost 4am in Lexington, KY and the whole cast of Pretty Things
Peepshow joined me at Denny's for post-show food. The staff couldn't
tell me if the pancake batter was vegan,so I might research this
further. I ended up getting hashbrowns with mushrooms, the mushrooms
not being on the menu, but I figured they'd have them. Make sure to
ask them to cook them in oil, otherwise it will be butter! I has my
first (unfortunate) taste of grits too, which at Denny's taste like
wet cardboard. I am willing to give grits another chance, but perhaps
cooked by someone who can put a little more love in them. Altogether
my meal cost $1.98, and I was full from the hashbrowns, so I win,

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vegan Eggs Benedict!

Whether you travel or cook at home, there are a few meals that make up
the Holy Grail of vegan foods...croissants are one, but the oft
searched, rarely found vegan breakfast foods are French toast and eggs
Benedict, and Julian's in Rhode Island has them both, as well as
pancakes! Bearing in mind how many meals I've eaten in the past 48
hours ( a LOT) I ordered a small portion, which still filled a large
plate, and the good news is it was DELICIOUS! Thick italian bread
slices layered with steamed spinach and a deep fried tofu medallion
which filled the role of poached egg quite nicely! The vegan
hollandaise sauce was very good, not too thick, and the home fries
were so well seasoned as to make ketchup irrelevant. I stole an onion
ring off King Sickabilly's plate and those are the best I've ever had
too! Definitely want to come back to try other things next time I'm in

Monday, June 7, 2010

Friendly Toast

After a great show in Dover NH, (my first time on New Hampshire ever!)
we went to eat at Friendly Toast afterwards, an all-night diner with
the most overwhelmingly awesome decor and even a couple vegan options.
I got the Vegan Valhalla after checking to see if any of their
pancakes or waffles were vegan - sadly no. My option was a giant
breakfast burrito with fried tofu and mushrooms and a creamy tahini
sauce, so good! New England is not disappointing me for vegan options
so far, yay!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Salad a la Sickabilly

King Sickabilly just made the cast amazing salads before we head out to Dover NH for our show tonight.  I'm not normally a zucchini fan, but whatever magical thing he did made it SO delicious! This tour is going to be great!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rhode Island Pho!

Hanging out in Providence with Dave Sasquatch from Sasquatch and the Sickabillys, who will be hosting the next two weeks of the tour, and he took me to his favourite Vietnamese place, Pho Horns, so good! I had vegan soup and summer rolls, and the best limeade ever, freshly made just for me! Wish I'd asked for a small soup, but at least I can live off the large leftovers for the next few days!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The next tour

I'm a week into a three month long tour with Pretty Things Peepshow, which is surprisingly my first tour as the only vegan or at least vegetarian ever! I've been touring since 2005, performing since 2003, so I am pretty well accustomed to where I can find suitable food on the road, but it's always nice to have an ally in the hunt for vegan eats! We're stopped briefly in Brooklyn today on an off day, so I stocked up on a vegan reuben filled with Daiya cheese and lots of baked goods for the coming days. We'll be hitting New England this next week, which will mostly be a first for me, so I'll be curious to see what vegan options I find there!