Friday, July 30, 2010

Mad Men Casting Call

Hey all! My friend Sarah of What I Really Really Want is the running for the Mad Men casting call. Please take a second and vote for her- you don't even have to register or give them your email!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heart-breaking agony...

thy name is Morningstar Sweet n' Sour Chik'n. Completely disappointing, with a final count of five chik'n nuggets, the only palatable portion of the meal. I shake my head at you, Morningstar, and at your deception. That mess does not look a thing like the serving suggestion and it never could. Please take a lesson from Amy's (especially their vegan mac and cheese) to learn how it's done.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I finally made one of those facebook doodads.

If you want more pictures of cats or random links to things I think are neat, please follow me here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sandwiches are my life: Grilled Tofu Ruelke Sandwich

A recent trip to Kansas City found me, unsurprisingly, at Eden Alley. I make a point to hit up Eden Alley every time I go to Kansas City because the food is delicious and it is conveniently located right by the Country Club Plaza in the basement of a nearby church. They recently added the grilled tofu ruelke sandwich to their menu and I've had my eye on it for awhile. Alaina and I both opted to order it, and when it arrived, it became apparent that we could have easily split it.

Heaped with grilled tofu crusted in nutritional yeast, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and hummus, all on sourdough bread, this monstrosity was a beacon of tasty. Savory and filling, I think this will be my go to menu item on Eden Alley's daily menu. My one regret is that I spent $1.25 to add cashew cheese, and the cook was pretty stingy with it- not worth the cost. However, I would absolutely order the sandwich again. And again. And again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

WhoaWren's Guide to Lincoln

PETA recently named Lincoln, Nebraska one of the most veg-friendly small cities in the United States. While I maintain that Omaha is substantially more vegan friendly, I am super happy to see that Nebraska is finally getting her due. We really do have more than just corn (but our corn is seriously good)! Having spent a good chunk of my life, 23 years, in Nebraska's capitol city, I thought that I should write a guide to being veg and entertaining yourself in Lincoln, NE.

PETA name drops Maggie's, Taj Mahal, and Grateful Bread/Freakbeat Vegetarian, but there's more to dining in Lincoln than just these three...

Nha Trang: Huge, huge menu, so it's good for groups of people who have differing tastes. Be sure to switch out the house sauce for the peanut sauce. No worries, the peanut sauce is probably made by angels and is so good.

Open Harvest: Lincoln's own little co-op! They have a fantastic selection of foods, a great bulk section, fresh produce, a bakery and a deli. The deli has everything labeled as containing meat, vegetarian, beegan (vegan with honey) or vegan. Try the baked tofu. You won't regret it.

Parthenon: Greek food with a separate vegan menu. There are belly dancers some nights! Oooh!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Boise: Vegan-friendly and I want to go back like crazy.

Prior to this June, I had been in Boise once before with the purpose of sleeping and leaving early the next morning to get to Portland. This last trip was similar, and I wish I would have been able to spend more time exploring the city, and am considering a trip to do just that. Thrift stores were prolific, and the people there were incredibly nice, even through a Midwestern girl's rose-colored glasses. However, I really want to go back to eat, with my main focuses being on the Boise Fry Company and the Boise Co-op.

The Boise Fry Company boasts that the "burgers are on the side" and while that may be technically true, they don't slouch in that area either. Upon entering the restaurant, you will be asked to specify what type of potato you want (russet, sweet potato, gold, etc.) and what type of cut (shoestring, curly, steak, etc.). Each batch is fried to order and can be dressed up with a variety of salts and sauces. I went for regular ketchup because the guys at the counter were pretty busy and I didn't want to interrogate them about sauce. I also sprayed down my fries with malt vinegar and covered them liberally with regular salt. I know I'm boring, but it was delicious.

The burger was also pretty fantastic. I was expecting a nuked Boca burger, but instead I got a fresh, house-made veggie burger based out of quinoa and black beans. It was sandwiched between two heavenly pieces of ciabatta bread and topped with lettuce, tomato and red onion gastrique. I would definitely hit this place up on a return trip to Boise.

Another place I loved in Boise was the Boise Co-op. With an enviable produce section, giant wine section and overall huge selection, I was flabbergasted that such a great little store existed in Boise. I stocked up on goods to eat on the trip home, such as It's Alive Dill Garlic Pate (pictured, on bread), Sweet and Sarah Rocky Road Bark and Kombucha. I also picked up an issue of Venuszine there, which was pretty rad. My one issue with the co-op was that they didn't have their vegan (or vegetarian) options labeled in their deli, so I had to skip that section because I (*cough* my dad....) was in a hurry. If they would have been labeled, I definitely would have partaken because it looked delicious.

In sum, Boise was a delightful little town, with a bustling downtown, a ridiculous amount of thrift stores, kind people and delicious food. Loved it. Want to go back.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pike Place Chowder/Chowdah/Chowdere

Do you remember that episode of "The Simpsons" where Quimby's relative (nephew, I think?) tries to make the waiter says 'chowder' with a different accent? That's what I always think of when I see chowder. Anyway, I loved clam chowder growing up, burning my arm more than once by carrying a too full bowl of too hot Campbell's clam chowder down the stairs to watch Beauty and the Beast. However, I rarely get chowder these days because one girl with a giant pot of soup tends to lead to wasteful food in my world. Plus, soup is a lot of work to eat. I prefer sandwiches or wraps or burritos.

This is why I was delighted to hear about vegan soup located at Pike Place Chowder, located near (surprise!) the Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. It's pretty easy to be a vegan at Pike Place, seeing as how it's basically a giant farmer's market, but it's nice to know that I can get a vegan chowder here too.

The chowder definitely isn't clam chowder, but that's okay, because it still tastes hearty and lovely. Based in coconut milk, it's full of veggies (corn and carrots come to mind) and is absolutely satisfying. If you don't like coconut milk, I would skip this one, but if you do, boy howdy, you are in luck. Seattle is full of amazing vegan dining options (Hillside Quickies, I'm looking at you) but this mighty little chowder sticks out in my mind as one of my favorite foods I've had while in Seattle.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ten things that make me happy: Portland/Seattle Edition

Continuing the list- here's 21-30, all in the Pacific Northwest.

1) Sweetpea Bakery: Again, if you're vegan, I shouldn't really need to explain this. I love Sweetpea and their delicious baked goods and their kick-patootie sandwiches and their amazing brunch. I spent six hours in a row there on a single day during my last trip.
2) Powell's Books: This is a bibliophile's mecca. The main store covers a city block and is four stories. I can easily spend hours in there and only hit a few rooms. One of my favorite rooms is the rare book room, which is located on the top floor and houses first editions and signed copies of rare books, classics and modern classics. If all of this is a little too overwhelming, Powell's has several other locations within the city, some smaller versions of Powell's, others specializing in a certain type of book. If you like books, go there, but proceed with caution.
3) House of Vintage: Ever since Fairmont Antiques closed (Omaha people, you know what I mean), I have missed the hodgepodge that you could find there. Portland (of course) has my antidote. A giant, giant building full of different vendors selling their wares. Note: the vendors are not actually present, even though I made it sound like they are. I scored a sweet Garfield tote bag, a lovely belt and two fab pairs of shoes, all for completely reasonable prices.
4) Slugs! Slugs slugs slugs! I love giant Portland slugs!
5) Copious amounts of bubble tea: Thank you, Fat Straw, for indulging me. I will always appreciate it.
6) Blush Beauty Bar: Located on swanky NW 23rd, this is basically a local version of Sephora. I credit this place for my discovery of Zoya nail polish.
7) Pogs! Pogs pogs pogs! Pogs for sale in Portland! Unfortunately, there were no slammers for sale, or I would have quite a collection right now.
8) Seattle Art Museum: I love the modern art collection here, and I always find something new here that I love. This time, my favorites were the Warhol portrait collection and the discovery of James Ensor.
9) Sci-Fi Museum and Hall of Fame: For someone who insisted on being called Leia (as in Princess Leia), this place is the motherload. Props and costumes from a plethora of sci-fi movies and tv shows, first edition books, the first science fiction fanzines and amazing displays, any fan of science fiction, even the casual one, needs to make a stop by this museum. Additionally, admission covers entrance into the Experience Music Project, which is like a smaller version of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
10) The scenery: I am not normally a fan of scenery, perhaps because a good chunk of the scenery I see is in Nebraska, the Pacific Northwest has some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever witnessed. One of my favorite stops along the way is Snoqualmie Falls. Higher than Niagara Falls, you can hike all the way to the bottom for a gorgeous view.

Coming up: Pike Place Chowder (or chowdah, depending)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Los Gorditos, Sweetpea, Native Bowl, Hungry Tiger Too, Blossoming Lotus.

Let's knock the rest of these out, okay? I'm going to show you a photo collage, then I'm going to talk about all the restaurants. Let's do this (click for full size).

1, 2 & 3) Blossoming Lotus! The new location changed everything- there's a much more relaxed atmosphere and you can leave your shoes on when you go to the bathroom. Also, there's a significantly reduced chance of nudity while in the bathroom. A win all around! The food remains the same- high quality, great taste. I opted for the live pasta, while my friend opted for the BBQ tempeh platter.

4, 6 & 7) Sweetpea Bakery! Did you know Sweetpea does sandwiches now? You probably did. Sweetpea's sandwiches are fantastic and fresh, with generous portions. I got the Katie John Rainboots sandwich, and loved it. Their baked goods need no introduction and, really, no discussion. Super good, end of story.

5) Native Bowl! Native Bowl is the wonderful Julie Hasson's food cart. Everything here is prepared fresh to order and is fantastic- words cannot describe. I got the Broadway Bowl and it was perhaps the best meal I had in Portland. Go there!

8, 9 & 12) Hungry Tiger Too! Hungry Tiger Too is my #1 place for faux meat based bar food. There are other options, such as scrambles and salads if you are wanting lighter fare.However, my belief while I travel is to go big or go home, so I opted for their vegan club sandwich, which is huge. It's good, hearty bar food made vegan. This is also a good place to take people who eat meat, as there are plenty of options for both sets, plus you are right by the vegan mini-mall.

10) Fat Straw! I love bubble tea. I would probably be totally satisfied with boba in water, but it's nice to have a little flavor too. I like kiwi and blueberry.

11) Los Gorditos! Los Gorditos is a place that I've been hearing about for ages, but never went to for some strange reason. I made up for this by eating there twice on my last trip. I got the enchiladas and the nachos. Both were flavorful, well spice and just what I had hoped for. However, if you go to the street cart location wanting enchiladas, you may want to bring your own fork- the plastic ones didn't really cut it. It would totally be worth it though- promise.

PS- The guy at the Gorditos cart has dreamy eyes. FYI.

Next up: ten things about Portland that make me happy, and then onto Seattle!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Messed Up Flights: Calamity or Adventure in Disguise?

Let's be honest: I have bad luck when I fly. I've had luggage lost, flights delayed, canceled or delayed then canceled. I've also been sent to another country on a flight that the airline switched me to at the last second, but neglected to tell anyone about, so the poor people at Charles de Gaulle had no idea who I was or what to do with me. Anyway, I've slept at the airport more than once, and feel like I should spread the fruits of my knowledge. Here are my (tried and true) tips.

1) Preparation is key! Prepare for the worst, and you'll always be glad you did. When I check my luggage, my carry-on list looks something like this:
  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • face wipes (or baby wipes) 
  • cell phone, iPod, chargers
  • any meds I need (Excedrin Migraine comes to mind)
  • Most importantly, food
Vegan or not, you want to pack food because airports tend to shut completely down between nine and ten at night, and you will want that smushed granola bar at two in the morning, especially after you've eaten all the pickle slices you stole from Quizno's. Dressing in layers is also a good idea- airport temperatures vary greatly and you can always use that cardigan as a pillow.

2) As soon as you find out your flight is cancelled/delayed/rerouted through the Himalayas, find out what your next step is at the ticket counter. You may get on a flight right away, you may have to sleep at the airport. Above all, be kind to the people at the ticket counter- they have a plane full of angry people to deal with. Also, contact any people who may be waiting for you at home (rides, for example) or anyone who may be waiting to hear if you got home safe. Don't keep people in the dark!

3) Gotta sleep at the airport? No big! The airlines usually keep a supply of flight pillows and blankets in their ticket counters on the ground. Ask for some and you will most likely be rewarded with what you so desire. However, some flights are considering charging for these amenities, so if you like to be prepared (I do!), you may want to pack something that functions as a blanket, such as American Apparel's circle scarf. It's huge, and can be worn around your neck to save space in your luggage. Finally, stake out a good sleeping spot. The ideal spot is comfy, dark and offers the opportunity to hide your valuables. I've slept on couches with my legs propped up on my luggage, and I've slept under phone banks, spooning my valuable carry on.

4) Prepare to entertain yourself and be patient. No matter how tired you are, you will not sleep the whole night. I generally listen to nature sounds (hokey, but covers up the constant terrorist threat advisory level announcements) and try and relax so that I feel somewhat rested upon arrival. Otherwise, I turn to my iPod touch, which holds books, games, movies, music and the internet. You can get a little creative, much like this lovely lady. I generally just lay on the floor, but that looks like a fun option.

5) Final step: Get to your flight on time! Seriously. To help with this, do the obvious: set your alarm. You can also take the less obvious step of making a sign that states what time you need to be awake by, and what flight you are taking. People are really nice in airports and will most likely make sure you are awake for your flight, and this also makes sure that you aren't awoken needlessly by caring citizens who want to make sure you get home.

6) When you get home, enjoy a well deserved meal and some sleep in your super comfy bed.

Happy trails and may you never have a flight delayed more than an hour!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Eating my way through Portland: Like I would do anything else

Hello blogging hiatus! I have been busy with moving into a new place (sad excuse I know), but now I am back to brag on the food of PDX. Let's start with an old favorite of mine: Vita. I got the buffalo tofu wrap and french fries on this visit. If I had to do it over, I would have skipped the fries, not because they weren't delicious (they were) but because that wrap is enormous. Enormous and filled with crispy tofu soaked in buffalo sauce, surrounded by lettuce, tomatoes and ranch dressing. It's pretty epic. I'd eat it once a week with no problems.

Although I was stuffed silly after eating my giant wrap and french fries, I headed down to Back to Eden for soft serve. Just a small dish. However, somewhere between Vita and Back to Eden, my attitude turned into 'go big or go home'. So, I ordered a dish of chocolate soft serve with gummi bears and dandies. Obviously, this was a delicious thing, so I will show you a picture and call it good.

Another location I hit up in Portland was Flavourspot- a waffle cart! Yay! I am not normally a fan of waffles because I like to put syrup in each square and that takes quite some time and I'm not that patient with food. Fortunately, I can get a waffle sandwich here, which eliminates the need for such specifics. I went with the PB & J waffle and it was the perfect start to my day. Highly recommended for a rainy morning.

Coming up: Sweetpea, Los Gorditos, Native Bowl, Hungry Tiger Too. Prepare for a tidal wave of yum.