Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Local to Me Edition: Elizabeth's Gone Raw (and my 50th post!)

(picture of the building graciously stolen from Elizabeth's website
until I manage to get my own shot)

Elizabeth's Gone Raw
1341 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Phone: (202) 347-8347

Welcome to my 50th post! And what better way to celebrate than to profile DC's first raw vegan restaurant. I should start by saying Elizabeth's Gone Raw is not a full-time restaurant. It is the outgrowth of Elizabeth's on L catering business, which is not a vegan catering establishment and they do not have a dedicated vegan kitchen. Elizabeth's Gone Raw is an "occasional" restaurant that will open their doors to the public about once a month.

Proprietor Elizabeth Petty's inspiration for the raw restaurant arm of her business when she was diagnosed in 2009 with cancer. She chose to integrate natural healing methods including exercise and raw vegan food with the traditional methods of chemo and such. Now she's able to combine her passion for raw food and her talents to share the joys of raw food with DC.

When we walked in, Marya noted that it felt like an exclusive supper club. For vegans. Since it seems Elizabeth's is getting much of its advertising by word-of-mouth, we felt as if we'd been let in on one of DC's best kept secrets.

The fixed 5 course menu is $65. For $85 you get the biodynamic wine pairing. They'll tell you you'll get a 3 ounce pour of each wine, but the pours were way more generous than that. I should add that the menu changes monthly, but below is what was served on our visit in August.

(please click on the image to see it full-size)

We first started off with dehydrated kale chips with nutritional yeast topping:

Kale chips are getting popular as I've been to at least two other restaurants that served these. But the addition of nutritional yeast was a nice touch. They're a healthy and delicious alternative to potato chips (which I was never really fond of anyway).

The first dish was this "Summer Salad of Heirloom Tomatoes and Avocado with Chervil and Citrus Vinaigrette":

Chervil is similar to parsley, by the way. Had to look it up, myself.

Second course: "Flax Seed and Hemp Flatbread with Zucchini Hummus, Shaved Fennel, Kalamata Olives and Basil Oil"

There's something neat about raw bread - it's not made from wheat, but nuts or seeds, and is significantly healthier. In this case, a fine blend of hemp and flax seeds that surely gave us our daily dose of Omega-3. And it was a lovely base for the hummus.

Next came the Watermelon Sorbet:

Served with a bit of basil oil. We read this article recently that discussed many of the surprising benefits of watermelon. One benefit not mention is that watermelon is considered "nature's viagra".

The main entree was this "Thai Noodle Salad with Coconut Milk, Cilantro, Green Papaya and Spiced Cashews served with Chili Paste":

This was fantastic, but those tiny red peppers were downright painful. Also, they served the chili paste on the side in what seemed a full soup bowl.

And the dessert, "Key Lime Tart with Creme Fraiche":

I should mention that you will want to make reservations well in advance for Elizabeth's. As it gains attention, it will likely gain a loyal following of people who will make a point to come monthly.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Local to Me Edition: Vegan Tattoos from Jinx Proof

Jinx Proof Tattoos
3285 1/2 M St. NW
Washington DC

Phone: (202) 337-5469

I never thought of myself as the tattoo type, but since tattoos are very much a part of DC culture, I found myself pondering one day: "If I were to get a tattoo, what would it be?" This evolved into me thinking about this aloud, and eventually evolved into Marya and I deciding we'd buy each other tattoos for our 5th anniversary together.

Jinx Proof came recommended to me by an employee of the DC vegan bakery Sticky Fingers. He mentioned that he'd gotten many tattoos there and felt they were quite vegan friendly.

Many tattoo inks are suspended in animal based glycerin. Some ink sets are suspended in vegetable based glycerin, but not all colors in the set are always vegan - black might be the product of bone char.

The guy behind the counter at Jinx Proof told us that, unlike many other tattoo parlors, they will be honest with you with regards to which specific inks are vegan. We appreciated that. It's important to always ask.

There is one artist at Jinx Proof who uses vegan ink, and we ended up coming on a day he wasn't working. Thankfully the shop folks worked with us, raided the vegan artist's ink cabinet (with his permission via phone), and were able to give us our tattoos that day.

Marya got the Vegan Society's logo:
Cautious lawyer that she is - she checked with the Vegan Society beforehand and got permission to use their copyrighted artwork. Awesome tat, isn't it?

And, showing my love for my city, I got the DC flag:
I made a point of getting the flag in its correct dimensions. I did not check with the DC government if it's okay that I use their logo, but the DC flag is tattooed on many a folk in DC.
This was my first experience getting a tattoo. I now know that it's just like having someone draw on you...with a sewing machine.

Monday, August 23, 2010

More Fun Home Stuff!!!

More fun stuff we made at home. On one hand, I feel silly for continuously snapping pictures of many of our meals. On the other, I'm constantly asked what, as vegans, our typical weekly meals are like, and I like showing that we eat such a rich variety of things.
Slightly different format, since there are so many pictures to get in this post.

Please click on an image to view it full-size

First, some raw dishes:

Raw Saag Paneer
The saag paneer was served on raw sprouted red quinoa.
The gazpacho had a yellow beet and yellow heirloom tomato in it. This is a Summer fave of ours.

Next, some low carb dishes:
Pesto on Zucchini and Squash Noodles
Eggplant Lasagna

In an effort to cut down a bit on all the carbs, Marya made these two dishes substituting the linguine with zucchini and lasagna pasta with eggplant slices.

And some not-so-low carb dishes:
Fennel and Olive Tapenade on Pasta
Stuffed Poblano Peppers on Wild Rice
Finally we were able to get fennel from the farmers' market for Marya to make this pesto.
My stuffed poblano recipe was completely improvised.

Some sausage dishes:
Italian Sausage!

Hot Dogs!
I made sausage! The recipe came from a cookbook I got at a 7th Day Adventist International Food Festival in Washington DC. If you want the book, it's available here.
After having experienced vegan currywurst at Kopfeck's in Munich, I wanted to make it for myself. I veganized a conventional menu - that is, I used Tofurky beer brats for the sausages. I really liked how it turned out.
The hot dogs were made in July to celebrate National Hot Dog Month. Nothing special, but don't they look good? Lovely avocado salad on the side.

Dishes with Really Long Names:
Vivid Beat and Horseradish Gnocchi
Arugula and Peach Salad on Parsley Shortcake served with Baked Coconut Tofu Cutlets

Fun things with Farmers' Market Fruit:
Watermelon Martinis
Having learned of the great health benefits of eating blueberries and watermelon, we were determined to incorporate more of them into our diet, by any means necessary.

And some desserts!:
Chocolate Pudding
The flan came from Terry Hope Romero's "Viva Vegan". Egg free! But far from sugar free.
Marya found this recipe for raw chocolate pudding has avocado as a base. And, of course, was made with fair trade chocolate. Whipped cream and sprinkles not verified to be raw.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NYC Visit, July 2010: Part IV - Blossom, Cocoa V, and Marie's Crisis Cafe

(please click on a picture to see it full-sized)

187 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10011

Phone: (212) 627-1144

Blossom is an upscale all vegan restaurant that sources their food from local farmers and small distributors. Their mission is to provide healthy organic vegan meals and do their small part in reducing animal suffering.
It has low lighting and is perfect for a romantic dinner. Thankfully we made reservations as this place fills quickly.

We met up with a friend on our visit to Blossom, so we got to sample a total of 3 meals.

We began with the porcini flutes - porcini, almonds, and tempeh in phyllo served with a cashew pesto:

And next, our friend got this...I have no idea. It is time for me to admit that I am such a disorganized blogger and never take notes when I'm out. I too frequently rely on pulling up the menu online often well after the fact. Yes, amazingly, when I'm out at a restaurant I tend to focus on the eating.
Anyway - our friend got this lovely dish of...something:

UPDATE! I just received and email from our friend who attempted to identify this picture, and believes it might be the pistachio and pepper dusted tofu. The menu online provides further details:
Served over roasted root vegetable crepe and a lemon truffle emulsion.
Finished with frisee salad tossed in red beet vinaigrette.

A quick web search to find out what the hell frisee is helped to confirm that this is, indeed, the pistachio and pepper dusted tofu.

Marya got the hickory basted tempeh over horseradish crème fraiche:

I had the seitan scaloppini:

The place is great. The wait staff were very friendly, and despite being so fancy I felt right at home. Being around fellow vegans helps. At an average of $19 an entree, it's not a place for everyday, but it's reasonably priced for special occasions. It was great looking around the restaurant and seeing such a wide range of ages and ethnicities gathering for vegan meals.

We saved room for dessert and went across the street to Blossom's latest addition to the family: Cocoa V.

Cocoa V
174 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10011
Telephone: (212) 242-3339

Cocoa V is an all vegan organic restaurant, wine bar, and all fair trade chocolate shop. I'm guessing this is the first of its kind. I'll never forget the day Marya found this place while doing a web search and sent me an email saying "OMFG - can you believe there's a such a thing as a vegan fair trade chocolate and wine bar?" It was immediately placed on our must-do list for this trip.

Cocoa V is smaller and a bit brighter than its counterpart Blossom, but still cozy.

Our friend had this lovely sundae:

 (yes, it's vegan)

And we shared this fantastic chocolate plate:

We had such a great variety, but our favorite was the Earl Grey bonbon.

Again, we were amazed such a place exists - being both animal cruelty free and free of child slave labor. Yes, it's sad that we have to be amazed that there's finally a place that is concerned about these issues. And they serve some damned awesome chocolate.

Before going to Blossom, we went to Marie's Crisis Cafe:

Marie's Crisis Cafe
59 Grove St.
New York, NY 10014

Phone: (212) 243-9323

We try to go here every time we're in New York. With all due respect, it's a basement dive bar...with a twist. There is a pianist who plays show tunes and everyone is invited to sing along. There are occasionally soloists, quite possibly they first sang the tune in the Broadway musical. I'm sure the place is frequented by the performers of nearby Broadway. Who else would have so many show tunes committed to memory?

I had a glass of wine here, and it was the worst I've ever had. The bottle was probably uncorked the night before, and they didn't properly seal it. So, stick with beer or the hard stuff. And listen to your "Little Orphan Annie" 8 track or 33 1/2 to brush up on some musical numbers before coming here. Great time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

NYC Visit, July 2010: Part III - Kate's Joint, The Organic Grill, and Pickles!

(please click on the images to see the larger picture)

Munich has Kopfeck, Washington DC has Asylum, and New York City has Kate's Joint. That is to say, this is my go-to place in New York.

Kate's Joint
58 Avenue B (at 4th St.)
New York NY 10009

Phone: (212) 777-7059

On our previous visit to New York City, we had an afternoon snack at Kate's, mostly because I wanted to try their vegan buffalo wings. On this trip we ended up there twice (this is not a complaint) - once for dinner and another time for brunch.

Kate's Disco Fries are perhaps the coolest thing I've ever seen on a menu anywhere: french fries covered in vegan gravy and vegan (or not) cheese.

As Homer Simpson would say, "Nom nom nom." Not quite a vegan poutine, but close enough for me. In the background are their famous buffalo un-chicken wings.

We met up with our friend (who's not vegetarian) who ordered this grilled vegetable burrito:

His burrito was not vegan - he ordered it with regular cheese. But Kate's will serve you regular or vegan cheese with no difference in the price.

I had the Fake Steak Au Poivre with mashed potatoes and more gravy, plus carrots. It was delicious and nicely presented, with slices of portabello mushrooms on top.

Marya had the Philly Not-Steak on garlic focaccia with still more fries.

For brunch, Marya got the Kate's Benedict (tofu scramble option) served on fresh spinach, sauteed mushrooms, and "unsausage" topped with vegan hollandaise, with roasted potatoes on the side:

We surely did wonders for the potato industry that weekend.

And I got the Sweet Potato Hash - yams topped with collard greens, fakin', tofu scramble, and Daiya cheese:

Nom. Again, I love Kate's. I was disappointed both times on our visit by how empty it was. That's good for me because I don't like competing for a seat in a crowded place, but I hope the place is doing well enough to stay in business. I want it to be there every time we go to NYC. Everyone should love Kate's.

For lunch one day we stopped at The Organic Grill. We had breakfast here once before, and this seemed a great place to pop in for a quick lunch bite.
The Organic Grill
123 1st Ave
New York, NY
Phone: (212) 477-7177

Marya got the TLT - fakin', lettuce, tomato, Veganaise, and sprouts. And roasted potatoes.

Still with the potatoes.

I decided to try and make a meal out of their extensive side dish menu. I ordered the brown rice, their famous sausage, and melted Daiya cheese. I thought they'd just be piled on top of each other, but instead they put them on the plate separately. I did hear them in the back discussing how they were to serve the melted cheese.

Whatevs - I mixed them on my own. It was an odd combination, but I can't complain - they gave me exactly what I'd asked for. And it was rather tasty.

Next, pickles!

The Pickle Guys
49 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002

Phone: (212) 656-9739

On the lower East Side of Manhattan, Soho (I've come to learn means "South of Houston Street"), there used to be a thriving pickle district. Yes, who'da thunk? But now there is only one purveyor of the pickle remaining in the area: The Pickle Guys.

It was difficult not to go overboard here. We had to remember we wanted to be able to carry the stuff with our luggage, plus we didn't want our fellow train passengers playing a rousing game of "what's that smell?" I think they did, anyway.

So we left with a bucket of 1/2 sour pickles, a pint of pickled string beans (great addition to a bloody mary), some whole green olives, and a jar of horseradish.

I should add - the place is not 100% vegetarian - they sell pickled herring.

And we stopped in this lovely place for some beersh:

Double Down Saloon
14 AVENUE A (at Houston)
New York, NY10009
Phone: (212) 982-0543

As dive bars go, this place was cool. I didn't much care for the anti-hippy signs or the bottle of "hippy-be-gone" spray behind the bar, but I chose to overlook that. On there television was an mix that went back and forth between clips of fifties musical movies (in color!) and porn. I bet this place is fun when it's more packed, but when we visited, we were practically the only ones there.
Not sure why I've got such a soft spot in my heart (and liver) for dive bars.

One more NYC Post, coming up!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

NYC Visit, July 2010: Part II - Brooklyn, Beer, Raw Onions, and Pho!

Every time I think of Brooklyn the Fugees version of Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" comes to mind:
I remember
when we used to sit
in the government yard
in Brooklyn.

So we ventured over from Manhattan to Brooklyn to check out Rockin' Raw, a (right you are!) raw restaurant, and to visit out Brooklyn Brewery.

Rockin' Raw
178 North 8 Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Phone: (718) 599-9333

We first heard about Rockin' Raw through a friend, who's brother-in-law opened the place. The brother-in-law is Peruvian, so much of the menu has Peruvian roots. We had brunch here, but I can't wait to go back and try some of their dinner offerings such as the Tacu Tacu and their mushroom cebiche (on the menu as Mushroom Cebiche!).

We started off with their version of the Bloody Mary - with wine rather than vodka. I'm a harsh Bloody Mary critic and this one didn't floor me, but it does have one of the most important ingredients: horseradish.

They don't serve coffee, but they do offer a fun little CacaoMaca Shot (pictured) - which has raw cacao in it.

I had the "fried egg" with kale chips, a little salad, and the soup of the day. It also came with their raw essene bread with cashew cheese.

The "fried egg" is a neat creation that is made with zucchini and other ingredients and has the texture of a real egg. On the top of the egg-white rests a yolk yellowed with turmeric. Despite being a little too close to a real egg, it was delicious. And thankfully the yolk (or "yolk") was not runny.

Marya had the sandwich version:

Rockin' Raw is a converted row house, and the spacious back patio worked nicely for outdoor seating. The place is very relaxed and the staff was nice. Bonus points for our waiter's Joy Division t-shirt.

Next, we walked a few blocks to Brooklyn Brewery. First we went on their tour, which was really more of a lecture (it was all in one room and we stood in the same place throughout). Then we went to try some beer. The beer hall was packed of people sampling all the beers. I'd been watching the this pyramid being build and finally snapped a picture when it got large enough:

Brooklyn Brewery
79 North 11th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Phone: (718) 486-7422

They're open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays, with hourly tours beginning at 1:00FM. You can bring in our own food or have it delivered here. We saw many folks getting pizza delivered.

Back on Manhattan, we visited this all-vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant, Lan Cafe:

Lan Cafe
342 E 6th Street
New York, NY 10003

Phone: (212) 228-8325

Seemed like a dream come true - finally a place where I didn't need to ask if they used vegetable broth in their vegetarian pho. Most places, as I've learned recently, use beef or chicken broth. This place is not 100% vegan because they have Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk, but there is a vegan option for the coffee. Never seen that before.

We started out with the ham/cabbage salad. We would usually get the spring rolls, but how often do you get the chance to try a vegan ham salad?

Marya had the grilled lemongrass seitan:

And, although so many things look great on the menu at Vietnamese places, I still gravitate to the pho:

They only had one style, that is with tofu and meat(less)balls. It was awesome.

The place didn't serve alcohol, but we did see some folks bring in a bottle of champagne. So, BYOH (bring your own hooch).

Two short blocks away from Lan Cafe is McSorley's Old Ale House. At 150 years, it's the oldest pub in New York City.

McSorley's Old Ale House
15 East 7th Street
New York, NY 10003

They only serve two beers: light and dark. The light beer isn't actually a lite beer - it's just how they differentiate between their two drinks. It's more Pilsen style. In terms of alcohol they don't serve anything but this beer, but their limited selection doesn't hurt their business.
The beers come in 1/2 pints, and they're $2.50 each - but they'll only sell them in groups of twos. It's a fun place and there's lots of history here, but on weekends it gets packed.

They only serve entrees on the weekends (none of which we can eat), but they do have a staple dish they'll serve anytime: raw onions with cheese and crackers. They've been selling raw onions for their entire history. Apparently back in the day, women whose husbands came home reeking of raw onions knew they could be trusted as they had come from the reputable McSorley's. I should point out that McSorley's didn't allow women until a 1970 Supreme Court ruling required them to.

We ordered a plate without the cheese. On the side we had mustard - the Chinese style mustard that burns your nose and brings tears to your eyes.

More NYC posts to come!