Friday, January 29, 2010

Northern Border Edition: Fractured Prune in Silver Spring, Maryland



Fractured Prune
8512 Fenton Street
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (301)565-8007

I hate chains. Just putting that out there. I hate large corporations whose sustainment depends on their brand's recognition that is so pervasive in every facet of the world outside my front door. I understand it: someone knows she can get the same damned Chipotle burrito in Boston as she can in Washington DC. They sell consistency. But at what price do we seek this consistency based on a specific formula produced in a chemical plant in New Jersey (read "Fast Food Nation")? Our Health? $1.99? The loss of our dignity from being seen in a fast food joint? Our souls? All the above? Yes.

The Fractured Prune is a chain. But it isn't a big evil entity like most...not yet...I don't think. It's a chain that is based in Maryland, and most of the stores are there. The HQ is in Ocean City where the first restaurant opened. There are a few others scattered around the country, mostly this side of the Mississippi. The Fractured Prune (you wouldn't guess this from the name) is a doughnut shop...that is annoyingly spelled "Donut Shoppe". They also have bagels, sandwiches, and other such breakfast and lunch items.

I feel like they haven't gotten corporate to the point they've lost touch with their patrons' needs. The Silver Spring restaurant has reacted warmly to the request from VegDC/Compassion Over Killing to the idea that they offer vegan items on their menu. For this, they deserve some thanks, support, and patronage. It's great that such a chain gives an individual shoppe...shop the latitude to make changes to their own menu. I just hope this doesn't mean the Lancaster Pennsylvania store won't take it upon themselves to serve a sandwich that has 3 lbs of bacon in it.

Their vegan menu is available here.

The Silver Spring Fracture Prune does have somewhat a chain feel to it when you first walk in. But something unexpected was happening here - something very pleasant. All of the employees were happy. They were really nice. Never heard a groan about their jobs. That's a good sign they're being well taken care of by their employer. Either that or they took loads of happy pills before punching in. Or...they are the owners.

We first decided to try the (vegan) pumpkin mini donuts. A neat thing here is that you can order your donuts and they'll make them fresh and add the toppings. We just settled on two plain. The guy taking our order insisted that we must try them with some toppings too, so he threw in another two with cinnamon and sugar. Awesome! You don't get that sort of generosity at McDonalds. Both the plain and topped donuts were fantastic. I haven't been much into donuts lately, so I was surprised how much I enjoyed these. There was a thin layer of crispiness on the outside while fluffy on the inside, and tasty.


Marya got the Vegan Breakfast Plate with bagel and (vegan) cream cheese, veggie bacon, and tofu scramble. The bacon was crunchy, and I know Marya enjoyed it. The scramble is made with what seemed like taco seasoning - an interesting take on tofu scramble. It worked.


It probably worked better for my breakfast burrito, which had the scramble soy chorizo, sausage, spinach, salsa, and cheese in it. A good combination.


I don't know if it was a coincidence or if the vegan items are just very popular here, but the couple who sat next to us ordered the donuts, breakfast burrito, and the Veggie BLT. Let this be a lesson to all those restaurants on the fence about offering vegan items - serve them and they will come.

Again, my thanks to the Sunday morning staff at the Silver Spring Fractured Prune. You brightened my day.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Home Cooking(?): Raw Hummus



Raw Hummus with Sprouted Chick Peas
Saturday we saw the movie Food Matters that discussed (among other things) the health benefits of eating raw foods. Sunday we began looking up raw food recipes. We found this raw hummus recipe. Minutes later we were soaking the chick peas so they would start sprouting. By Wednesday they had sprouted about a half an inch - just right. We ground them in a food processor with lemon juice, garlic, tahini, and salt, then topped with olive oil and paprika.

It is different. I can't say it's the best hummus I've ever had, or even made, but I should cut it some slack. When I became vegetarian, then vegan, I noticed my tastes had vastly changed. Never did I think in my all my years before that I'd be going gaga over sauteed brussel sprouts or steamed kale. I'm hoping that I my tastes will continue to change so that I may one day go gonzo for such raw treats. This is only the beginning of our raw food journey, and we're excited to start experimenting with it.
I should note that I'd like to try this recipe again some time with my own modifications and touches.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fun Home Stuff: Swedish Meatballs and Sri Lanka Cashew Curry

If it isn't obvious yet, we share cooking duties. We both love cooking and eating.

Last night Marya made these lovely Swedish Meatballs with eggless noodles and meatless balls. I believe it's her own recipe.

Swedish Meatless Balls - click for the larger picture

This evening I made this Sri Lankan dish called or Cadju Curry or Cashew Curry from the New Internationalist vegetarian cook book called "World in Your Kitchen".
I'm happy to say that, in addition to being meat and dairy free, it's soy and gluten free, too.
Sri Lankan Curry Cashew - click for the larger picture

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Local to Me Edition: Duccini's Pizza


Duccini's Pizza
1778 U St NW
Washington DC 20009

Awesome vegan pizza with Diaya cheese. Also, they are probably the only place in DC with vegan Jumbo Slice pizza, available only on the weekend. If you order it any other time, they'll give you a small pizza, but it's very filling and terrific. And cheap - under $6. Also, during the month of January 2010, they're donating %10 of their vegan sales to the fantastic animal rights advocacy organization Compassion Over Killing.
We ordered this one (pictured above) with tomatoes, black olives, spinach, and roasted garlic.
Duccini's is far from a vegetarian restaurant, but it is very cool that they're not only willing to offer a great vegan option for delivery or carry-out, but to donate some of their vegan sales to an animal rights group.

Having said that, I was a bit pissed at the delivery guy - he parked in the middle of the street (blocking traffic) and honked the horn, rather than bringing the pizza to the door. Also, he lost his pen so I told him to find a parking spot while I found one to sign credit card receipt. Rather than taking the parking spot right next to where his car was standing, he parked at the far end of the block and walked back. Just weird. Anyway, great place, freakish delivery service.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fun Home Stuff: Fish -n- Chips and Tofu Scramble

Marya made this lovely meal of Vegan Fish -n- Chips from the Chicago Diner recipe book. Better than real fish, especially since I've never really been a fan of fish. One great thing about being vegan is never having to explain why you don't like fish.
Fish -n- Chips (click for larger picture)

And, I make the best tofu scramble. Seriously. I'm not bragging or being delusional - I've never had better. Mayhaps one day I will reveal the recipe.
Tofu Scramble (click for larger picture)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Local to Me Edition: Sticky Fingers Update!!!

Sticky Fingers Cupcakes - click for the larger picture
Stopped in again at Sticky Fingers Bakery for desert. I got the Margarita (with added salt) and Marya got the Coconut Delight cupcake.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Local to Me Edition (again): Pho 14


Pho 14
1436 Park Rd NW
Washington, DC 20010

Vegan Friendly Vietnamese Cuisine

For starters, Pho, or Vietnamese Noodle Soup, is pronounced fuh. My favorite pho for the longest was Pho Kim in Alexandria ,VA (Kim is the owner's wife, but just say the namme of the place phonetically fast for some jollies).
There's just something about pho that is particularly addictive. I've asked numerous pho restaurant employees if they put crack in the stuff, and they just giggle. I've never gotten a "no."

With much fanfare, Pho 14 opened in the Columbia Heights community of Washington DC. They've got many vegan options (though not labeled as such), but who cares - you go for the pho. Seriously - every time I've gone to a Vietnamese restaurant, I've looked at their menu thoroughly, ultimately decided on the pho, concluding that next time I will try another dish. And I never do. It's about the pho. I should add that the staff of Pho 14 are, without exception, very nice and welcoming folks.

Pho is primarily a beef noodle soup. Many Vietnamese restaurants pay particularly close attention to the production of their beef broth - considered to be the fundamental ingredient of pho. Apparently it's quite a labor intensive process of boiling beef bones for hours and getting the spices just right. Of course, with vegan pho you don't get that sort of attention paid to the vegetable broth.

I used to be seriously addicted to the pho of the meat variety. Before I went vegetarian, I'd have it several times a week in an odd ritual that involved rushing the carry-out pho home, lighting 30-50 candles, reheating the broth, then sitting down with the bowl of hot pho, jasmine tea, and a beer in front of a Harry Potter movie. Don't knock it... It sort of reminds me of an interview I saw with Paul Newman years ago when he said he enjoyed eating watermelon in the shower. What ev.

Though the ingredients of the beef pho are consistent from restaurant to restaurant, the vegetarian versions of pho differ greatly. Some have greens such as bok choy, some have mushrooms, some have celery, and most have way too much in the way of carrots for my taste. Nothing against carrots, just large amounts of thick boiled carrots kills it for me.

Here are a list of the core components you can expect from all sources of pho:

  • vegetable broth
  • thin rice noodles
  • vegetables
  • bean sprouts
  • vinegar marinated onions
  • jalepeno pepper slices
  • cilantro
  • Asian basil
  • lime wedge
  • hoisin sauce
  • sriracha hot sauce (sometimes they mix the sriracha with the hoisin when getting pho for carryout or delivery)

    When you get this to go, it's like bringing home an Ikea project - you get a soup kit that you must assemble. Usually they will give you several stalks of basil from which you'll need to pull the leaves to put in your soup.

    So the vegetarian pho at Pho 14 is passable. I've had a bit better, but I've had a lot worse, so Pho 14 is near the top. The vegetables here are broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms that are obviously reconstituted, so they're a bit on the gummy side. Something added here that is not seen in many vegetarian versions of pho very often is tofu - a welcome addition.
    Pho from Pho 14, Columbia Heights, Washington DC
    I should add that when eating at the restaurant, you have an unlimited amount of hoisin and sriracha sauces, but when you bring it home, they only give you about a teaspoon of each. I usually require about 1/4 a cup of the hoisin sauce. That is why I cannot recommend enough that you stock your own at home. Both can be purchased at most Asian grocery stores, and many regular grocery stores stock them, too. I recently picked up a 5lb. tin of the stuff at an Asian grocery in Northern Virginia. Koon Chun is my favorite brand.
    Hoisin Sauce!

    At Pho 14, if you want a beer with your pho, you've got to bring it home, along w/ a 6 pack of your favorite pilsner from D'Vines across the street at 3103 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010.
    A liquor license at Pho 14 is forthcoming...I hope.

    In the recent take-away order, I also got the vegetarian spring rolls. They have either a tapioca or rice wrapper, and inside have thin rice vermicelli, lettuce, mint, cilantro, and maybe carrots. Again, Pho 14 goes the extra mile and artfully wraps tofu in the rolls. On the side is a dark peanut sauce for dipping the rolls.

    It's always great fun to order pho for take-out. You get to bring home your ready-to-assemble-pho kit and build your meal. One down side to getting it to go - the packaging. They do charge extra for all the packaging necessary for you to take the soup home, which is as it should be, but there is a lot of it. The broth is separate from the vegetables which needs to be in a container separate from the rice noodles. On the positive side - all the containers are recyclable and most are reusable.

    So, đi ăn pho? That's all the Vietnamese I know - which translates to: "Go for pho?"
  • Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Road Trip with Vegan Friendly Stops in Harrisonburg and Charlottesville, Virginia

    Road Trip January 16th-18th, 2010:
    I hadn't seen my friend's parents in years since they moved from Hamilton, Virginia down to Bristol, Virginia. So when we got the invitation to go to the father's 80th birthday party, we seized the opportunity to celebrate, visit with friends, and do some vegan road tripping. From Washington DC, Bristol is about a 6 hour drive. Google Maps tells us this.

    Armed with a (tap) water bottle and some road snacks (Primal Strips, tamari almonds, Tofurkey jerkey, dried papaya strips, and a Panda licorice bar), we began our journey at 9:30AM. We got a late start after a fun time trying to persuade Enterprise Car Rental that we did not want a minivan after we had reserved a Yaris.
    Thanks to a great deal of research (done by my girlfriend Marya), we had our breakfast spot picked out. So 2.25 hours and 132 miles along, we stopped in at the Little Grill Collective in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
    Little Grill Collective, Harrisonburg, VA - Click for the larger picture

    Little Grill Collective
    621 North Main Street
    Harrisonburg, Va 22802

    Harrisonburg is home to James Madison University, and it's a safe bet that there will be vegan options in a college town.
    The Little Grill Collective has been worker owned since 2003. Packed as the place was, it had a very welcoming feel to it. The employee owners were all very friendly, and it's always comforting when they are familiar with the word "vegan". Another great thing about this place: Fair Trade Coffee!!!
    Click for the larger picture
    There are 5 vegan items on their breakfast menu. I chose the Lambert's Platter, which had tofu scramble, toast with margarine, house made soysage, and home fries with (they seriously call it this) groovy gravy.
    Lambert's Platter - click for larger picture
    The soysage was thin and had the consistency of an undercooked pancake, and overall seemed like a vegan version of what one might call scrapple or...puddin'. It tasted fine, though, and one nice touch to it - I could see whole fennel seeds in it. The tofu scramble concerned me at first, only because it looked like other tofu scrambles I've had where they've just cubed it, put turmeric in, and sauteed it for a few minutes. The scramble here turned out to be very good - among the best I've had.
    Marya had the Flaxjacks and some soysage. She isn't a big pancake fan, but loved these. And with flaxseed in them, it's got to be the healthiest pancakes ever.
    Flaxjacks - click for larger picture

    A final picture from the Little Grill for anyone who's a fan of Nine Inch Nails. If you're unable to make it out, the brand of heater is Reznor and someone with a keen sense of humor had written below it "Pretty Heat Machine". This will surely be lost on those unfamiliar with the work of Nine Inch Nails.
    Reznor - Pretty Heat Machine - click for larger picture

    We continued down the road and ended up in Bristol at 4:30FM. After initial greetings and birthday wellwishes, the topic quickly turned to food. "Would you like to eat now?", our friend Nikki asked. "That sounds lovely" we replied, practically in unison.
    Thankfully our hosts knew of our dietary restrictions and planned ahead nicely for it. Nikki had prepared us a tofu quiche with spinach. She pulled the recipe from VegWeb, which is a trustworthy source for fantastic vegan recipes. Here's the recipe she used, with some modifications. Click!
    The quiche was fantastic. Not to spoil the rest of this blog entry, but Marya and I agreed that this was the culinary highlight of the trip.
    Fantastic Spinach Quiche - click for larger picture
    The next day we headed north...east, towards Charlottesville. About 4 hours, many tamari almonds, and a package of Tofurkey jerky rounds later, we arrived at the White Pig Vegan Bed and Breakfast in Schuyler, just south of Charlottesville. More on White Pig in a bit.
    After checking in, we decided to go to the innkeeper's recommended restaurant, Ming Dynasty, which is a big supporter of Charlottesville's Veg Fest each year. Also, they had lots of mock meat options, which is always enticing to me.
    Here are their vitals:
    Ming Dynasty Restaurant
    1417 Emmet St N
    Charlottesville, VA 22903

    One somewhat frustrating thing here was trying to ensure our food did not have egg in it. Several times the waitress would say "It's got a little bit of egg in it. It's okay?" Err, no, it is not.
    We got some (hopefully egg-free) vegetable dumplings that looked like works of art.
    Ming's Vegetable Dumplings - click for larger picture
    I got the beef with garlic sauce. It was delicious, but the beef was a bit on the gummy side. I started wishing I'd ordered the tofu and chinese greens instead, thinking I really should cut down on the overprocessed fake meat stuff anyway.
    Ming's vegetarian Beef with Garlic Sauce - click for larger picture
    Marya opted for the vegetarian Kung Pao Chicken. The chicken certainly looked convincing, and although it didn't taste like chicken (words you've likely never heard), it was good.
    Ming's vegetarian Kung Pao Chicken - click for larger picture

    The next day we woke up at The White Pig.
    Here are their vitals:
    The White Pig Bed and Breakfast
    5120 Irish Road
    Schuyler, VA 22969

    Schuyler, VA is the town that inspired the television series "The Waltons", and the location of the Waltons Museum.

    The B&B is on a secluded stretch of land about 1/4 a mile from the road.
    White Pig B&B - click for larger picture

    The B&B is also a potbellied pig sanctuary. Apparently too many people get potbellied pigs as pets, then when the pigs reach 400lbs, the owners take them to the pound. That's where B&B Owner Dina comes in. She'll go rescue the pigs and bring them to her ranch. The sanctuary is funded by the proceeds from the B&B.
    The B&B is beautiful, nicely finished and decorated, and probably holds the record for pig likenesses per square inch. The house itself is painted piggy pink.
    The picture below is of the towel racks in our bathroom.
    click for larger picture
    For breakfast we had grapefruit, followed by blueberry pancakes. I must admit, I'm not a big fan of pancakes, and knowing that the innkeeper/chef is very well school in the culinary arts, I was hoping for something a bit more substantial. Something like tofu scramble that would surpass my own recipe. Having said that, the pancakes were the best I've ever had.
    White Pig Pancakes - click for bigger picture

    I should also mention that the Charlottesville region is well known for having dozens of boutique wineries. At the B&B, Dina sells wine from Mountain Cove Vineyards, whose wines are all vegan. You didn't know wine is quite often not vegan? Well, sit down - this may hurt. Many wines, particularly whites, are clarified with egg whites. Truth is, it's probably impossible to tell which are vegan without a great deal of research.

    After we ate, we wandered over to look at the pigs. There are currently 12 pigs at the sanctuary.
    click for larger pictureclick for larger
    click for larger

    Next we went onto Jefferson Vineyards, which is at the foot of the hill where Jefferson's Monticello sits. We don't know if the wine is vegan.


    We then headed onto Ash Lawn Highland - home of President James Monroe. I will say that his home is not nearly as grand as Jefferson's or Washington's, but still a nice trip. I was disappointed to hear that Jefferson had told Monroe that his slave quarters were too nice. I was further disappointed to learn that this convinced Monroe to build shabbier quarters for his slaves.
    Ash Lawn Highland

    Monroe

    We don't have a car, so when we have one rented for any reason, we try to combine the trip with a trip to the more out-of-the-way grocery stores. Among others, we went to an Asian grocery store before heading home. I will be good on hoisin sauce for the next 5 years.
    Hoisin Sauce!

    When we got home, we ordered a vegan pizza from Duccini's, but that's a story for another day.

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Local to Me Edition: Brunch @ Asylum

    Ceiling at Asylum
    Asylum
    Adams Morgan
    2471 18th Street
    Washington, DC NW 20009

    I refer to Asylum as a vegan/goth/biker bar. It's not completely vegan - 1/2 actually, but it's still fun to call it that. Really fucks with peoples' minds. It attracts bikers of both sorts, but more the non-motorized type, as bike messenger and local bike shop employees seem to congregate here loads.

    This is one of my favorite places ever, so I'll try not to gush to the point of embarrassment. The walls and light fixtures give it a homey dungeon feel. Red velvet drapes around the ceiling in such a way that gives you the impression that you've entered Dracula's watering hole. A dragon tail snakes around behind the bar - the rest of the dragon used to sit at the end of the bar, but they've removed him to make room patrons who'll actually hand over money. Plus, they've put one of those stupid bar-top video games there.

    They have a stage here, and I've seen some great bands here.

    I'll never forget the first time we had brunch here: the very nice waiter with pierced everything (visible) told us in a pleasant tone: "The soysage is very excellent."

    They have vegan options galore here. A small sample of the menu: chili-cheeze waffle fries, nachos, vegan BLT, blackened tofu, and Philly Cheeze Steak sandwiches. And vegan wings. More on that in a bit. Their on-tap beer selection is great and reasonably priced, and the happy hour makes it even better. If you love tequila (I don't), they've got an extensive menu of the stuff.

    And a most important tip: Tuesdays are buy one get one 1/2 off vegan entrees. As I've got an addiction to their vegan wings, I try to go on Tuesdays when I'll order as many as 4 plates of the things.

    Their brunch is always nominated as the best in DC, and it quite often wins the category. This is due in part to their having such a great vegan brunch menu.

    On my recent trip, I ordered the chili cheese tofu scramble. In the picture below, you may be able to see how I dug into it before remembering to snap a picture of it. There's something about this dish that says "comfort food". Yes, that's a beer in the picture. Yes, I had a beer for breakfast.

    Chili Cheese Tofu Scramble

    And, as filling as the tofu scramble plate was, I still couldn't resist the opportunity to get a plate of wings, complete with carrot and celery, hot sauce, and vegan sour cream. Yes, that's another beer in the picture. I had another beer for breakfast.
    Nirvana

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Home Cooking/Ode to Farmers' Market Edition

    Just had to share these two fabulous dishes we made over the last couple of nights. Both dishes featured foods we were able to get from the Dupont Circle Farmers' Market. We are lucky here in the District to have Farmers' Markets that are open year 'round. We love the idea of supporting local farmers while not supporting factory farms, plus it's great to have such a personal connection with the food we eat.
    Click here for more information on all the Washington DC area Farmers' Markets.


    Last night Marya made this Wild Mushroom Strudel with Shallot Creme from a recipe by Dave Anderson in Veg News December 2009 Edition. It took 3 lbs. of wild mushrooms and a shallot that we were able to get at the Farmers' Market. The sauteed mixture of mushrooms was rolled in phyllo dough and baked and topped with the shallot creem. A friend asked me if I hallucinated from all the mushrooms. I didn't know how to respond. Honestly, it's hard to tell when you're me. It was delicious and filling.
    Mushroom Struedel with Shallot Creme

    The dish I cooked this evening was Saag Paneer. The Saag recipe came from "Vegan Fire and Spice" from Robin Robertson. It needed a pound of spinach that came from the Farmers' Market. The paneer part of it was my own creation: cubed tofu marinated in lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and soy sauce overnight. It worked. I was very pleased with this dish.
    Vegan Saag Paneer

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Local to Me Edition: Brunch @ Sticky Fingers Bakery

    Sticky Fingers, Columbia Heights, Washington DC
    Sticky Fingers Bakery
    1370 Park Rd Nw
    Washington, DC

    Sticky Fingers is a vegan bakery located in the heart of the Columbia Heights neighborhood, Washington, DC, just a block up from the Columbia Heights Metro. The place is legendary. Years ago when friends stopped in from Washington State to visit family in Virginia, they made a point to cross the river and come here to check out all their offerings. Since then, Sticky Fingers has moved and greatly expanded their eat-in facilities.

    I often stop in on my way to the Metro to pick up a breakfast sammich, which is usually a bagel with fake egg, facon, cheeze, and a (real) tomato. Start your day off with one of these and...well, you'll probably want to go back for another as soon as you can. They also have vegan chili-cheeze dogs. Is that not cool?

    Also - and this is very important to me - they serve fair trade coffee.

    Other fun stuff about the place: they have a fun selection of "adult" cupcakes, including mojito and (around the holidays) egg(less)nog with a splash of bourbon.
    They have some vegan grocery items, such as Daiya Cheese, Teese, nutritional yeast, vegan marshmallows, and Primal Strips jerky.
    Sticky Fingers brunch with biscuits and gravy
    I got the brunch with biscuits and gravy. The other option is pancakes. They both include tofu scramble and roasted potatoes. There may have been more options than that, but memory fails.
    It was all very tasty, but I have just a few minor complaints:
  • At $9.95, it's a bit expensive

  • The side of tempeh bacon wasn't worth the $1.50 for just 2 strips

  • It's cool that there's another place in DC where we can get a great vegan brunch, but it saddens me a bit when I can't get a bloody mary with it. Sticky Fingers doesn't have, and probably won't ever have a liquor license.


  • When I got up to get a refill of my fair trade coffee, I looked around at dishes others were eating. Someone else was eating some tasty looking noodle dish, and someone else was eating a plate of nachos that reminded me of my Taco Hell days and made me wish I had room to put an order of them down.

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    Local to Me Edition: Chinatown Garden

    Chinatown Garden, Chinatown, DC
    Chinatown Garden
    618 H St. NW
    Washington, DC 20001
    Menu


    For a Christmas present my gal got me some tickets to a Caps game at the Verizon Center, about 20 blocks south from us. It was the Caps vs. the Ottawa Senators. At the beginning of the game an announcement was made that if the Caps scored 5 or more goals, all ticket holders would be eligible for 10 free chicken wings at Glory Days Grill. We put this in the back of our minds through most of the game. After the 4th goal was scored, the kids sitting in front of us began yelling "We want wings! We want wings!!!" Then, in 4 foot high letters on the jumbo-tron flashed the words "We", then "Want", and "Wings!!!" in such a rhythm reminiscent of the intro foot stomping/hand clapping in Queen's "We Will Rock You"
    Chicken Killers
    Suddenly we didn't want the Caps to score anymore this game. They did, finishing the game at 5-1, sentencing thousands of chickens to death. Yay.
    This is just part of the fun we can't participate in during live sporting events. They also come around and give out Papa John's pizza and Chipotle burritos we can't eat.



    After the game we went to Chinatown Garden on H Street. The draw for us is their extensive mock-meat selection on the "Chef's Recommendations for Vegetarians" section of their menu.
    As Chinese food goes, it's a bit more expensive, but for me it's well worth it getting to have some of my old favorite Chinese dishes veganized.
    China Garden's vegetarian Home Style Pork
    I had the home style pork, which was spicy and had some good veggies in it. The pork was a tiny bit rubbery, but it tasted quite good (I'm sure it wasn't real pork), and I managed to finish the entire plate.
    Chinatown Garden's vegetarian Orange Chicken
    Marya had the Orange Chicken. It too was quite tasty.
    Good place overall, including very friendly and attentive service. It should be noted that they also have a fantastic mixed drink menu, including the Flaming Volcano.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Over-the-River Edition: Galaxy Hut in Arlington, Virginia

    Galaxy Hut, Arlington, Virginia
    Galaxy Hut's official Website
    Their Menu

    I've been going to the Hut off and on for about 14 years now, and its charm has not worn. Maybe a little, but it's making a recovery since the smoking ban went into effect.
    The place is small yet still has room for bands to perform. The decor is amazing, from the painted ceiling tiles and hip wallpapered-and-poly coated decorated tables to the fantastic local artwork on the walls and tabletop videogames (Ms. Pacman, Galaga, and a pinball machine). Not sure how to categorize it. Dive Bar? Hipster Mecca? Just plain cool? They have 20 unique beers on tap and 30 bottles. They don't serve liquor, but that's never been a prob for me. Their menu features loads of many vegetarian options that, with little effort, can be made vegan. I was going here 11 years before even going vegetarian, so I really have not payed attention how long this place has been so veg-friendly.
    On previous trips here I've had their IPA cooked veggie dogs with saurkraut and TVP chili.
    This trip I tried the seitan bbq sammich with tots. I declined the non-vegan slaw. For $8 it might not be the best deal, but w/ vegan slaw it would be. The sammich was basic pub-fare tasting and size, but I still felt as if I was getting guilty pleasure out of it out of it. Plus, when I come across these gems money is hardly a concern.
    Seitan bbq sammich
    The other vegan offerings include a black bean burger, chili-mac (w/ no cheese), a seitan cheesesteak w/out cheese, and a salad w/ a wedge of iceburg lettuce, veggie bacon and vinagrette.
    Wedge Salad w/out the blue cheese and w/ veggie bacon and vinagrette
    I ended up adding the wedge salad to my bill.

    Many of the dishes could be vastly improved with the simple availability of vegan cheese, sourcream, and veganaise. Mayhaps I will suggest this. The problem with making such suggestions is that if they start carrying these items, I'll feel the need to visit them weekly. I think I'm okay with that.
    They also have my new favorite beer - Duchesse de Bourgogne Flemish red ale. If it's not vegan, please don't tell me.
    Duchesse de Bourgogne

    * Side note that has nothing to do with the blog: Having a mostly black ensemble and getting dressed before sunrise and w/ no lights on, I had put on mismatched shoes this morning and didn't realize it 'til I got to work.

    ***Update!!! The morning after I submitted this post I thought I'd check to make sure the Morningstar Farms bacon used in the salad I had last night was vegan. It is not. Doh.

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    What is the purpose of this blog?



    "What is the purpose of this blog?" you may ask. More rudely yet perhaps more to the point, you might even ask "What is the use of this blog?" Truth is, I don't really know yet.
    I wanted to share the fun and pains I've had traveling while staying vegan, hoping it would it would show the relative ease of traveling without needing to rely on animal products to survive. It's almost evolved into a restaurant review page, and I'm not sure that's what I want. I really just wanted to show the world there are vegan friendly places out there. I'd love to patronize them all if I could, but I'm having fun sharing my discoveries.

    I also hope to profile some of my favorite local restaurants here in Washington DC, hoping it might help someone coming to DC. I plan to start that soon ;-)

    And I want to show some of the fun stuff my girlfriend and I do at home, including recipes we've found elsewhere, made-up shit (perhaps not the best phrase to use when describing food), and some tasty vegan adult beverages, such as raw Egg-less Nog and vegan Bailey's Irish Cream.

    So, I'll just wait and see what this blog becomes. Don't think it matters much yet - I don't believe I've got anything in the way of readership yet =8-O

    Cheers,
    Binkles

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Amy's Place in Buffalo, New York

    Spent Wednesday 12/30/09 through Monday 1/4/10 in Attica, NY to help celebrate my girlfriend's grandmother's 100th birthday. In a brief newspaper article about the centenarian, she ascribes her longevity to drinking very little water, getting very little exercise, and eating lots of ice cream.
    For the rest of us, there's veganism.

    Since there's not a lot going on in the town of Attica in terms of vegan cuisine, we decided to pit-stop in Buffalo before heading on to Attica.

    As soon as we landed in Buffalo, we picked up our rental car and pointed it in the direction of downtown Buffalo to find Amy's Place, a diner across the street from the south campus of the the University at Buffalo. Great thing about college towns - always plenty of vegetarian and vegan options around campus.
    Amy's Place has some middle-eastern dishes, but most is traditional diner fare.
    Amy's in Buffalo, NY

    Apparently breakfast before 9:00AM is $1.99. Sadly, our plane landed well after that, but it's not like the place will break the bank anyway.
    There are loads of vegan options here. My breakfast came with lentils and broccoli, toast w/ vegan butter, potatoes, and seitan (pictured underneath the toast and jam). An odd but tasty selection for breakfast.
    Lebanese Lentils and Broccoli
    And Marya got the vegan French Toast and house-made tofu sizzle strips.
    Vegan French Toast w/ House-made Tofu Sizzle Strips

    All food was great, but, sucker that I am for fake meat, loved the seitan my dish came with and loved the sizzle strips even more. The sizzle strips were smokey, chewy, and delicious. They reminded me of Spam. Color me weird, but I see this as a good thing.
    We ordered some vegan mac-n-cheese to go, and shared it with several non-vegans. Others were impressed, but I thought it had a bit much in the way of turmeric. If you want a really good vegan mac-n-cheese, click here for a great recipe.
    If we're ever back in Buffalo, I hope we'll be able to go back to Amy's Place. Fizzer about having so many menu options on travel is that you want to try them all at once.