Murphy’s Law

Yesterday I visited the Clover truck for lunch.  What an expedition!  Before I get to the food, let me tell you about all that went into getting it.

I have an internship way downtown in Boston and go to school way out in Newton, and take public transportation for all of it.  Two days a week I have class at 3 p.m., and I leave work at 1:00 so that I have enough time to get from point A to point B (and yes, it can take that long to get from work to school.  I abhor adore the MBTA).  Anyway, yesterday I got to work early and left early so that I could stop by the Clover truck, which is out of my way but (in my opinion) worth it!  Awesome plan: leave work, go to South Station, get food, go home to photograph the food and pick up my books/computer, and go to class.  Brilliant…or not.

I get to the truck (which is near South Station) and there is a long line, which I expected.  It was a nice day so I didn’t mind waiting.  I was probably there about 25 minutes total.  I ordered the BBQ Seitan sandwich (specifying vegan…the normal menu item contains cheese) and rosemary french fries (I really didn’t need these but they smelled so good while I was waiting that I couldn’t resist!).

Speaking of not being able to resist, the fries were gone by the time I got on the T.  The reason for this is twofold: 1) I am like a vacuum cleaner when it comes to hot french fries, and feel no shame about this, and 2) the T took forever to come.  I’m used to this with the Green Line (which I ride every. single. day. Pity me), but this was the Red Line, folks.  The MBTA really does need to get it together. 

Anyway, the point of the story was not just to show what a pig I am, but also to explain why there is no picture of the fries, and to segway into the next part of the story–I was now in a damn rush. 

I got back to my apartment and scramblingly (not a word) threw my school stuff into my bag, then snatched up my camera. 

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All that was left of my rosemary french fries: rosemary in a greasy wrapper.  You can tell that they were delicious, right?

I took the picture of the rosemary while the little battery icon was flashing in the upper right hand corner of my camera’s screen.  So I’m thinking “Move quickly!”  Snap, and I turn the camera off.  I grab the sandwich, position it prettily (so I think) and turn the camera back on.  Before I can push the button down to snap a pic, it shuts off.  “Change the batteries” flashes across the screen.  Noooo!  I am pretty sure I’m out of fresh batteries, and at this point I’m desperate.  I’m thinking, “I really want to take a picture of this, but I also am not waiting until later to eat it.  And I’m late for school!”  So my first thought was to try the batteries from the TV remote.  Nope.  Then I started feverishly scrambling around, flinging open cabinets and cupboards and rifling through every box o’ junk we own until–voila!  An unopened package of CVS batteries!  Score some more!!! And…then I couldn’t open it.  I swear to you, this is not made up.  I could not for the LIFE of me open this damn box of batteries.  Time is ticking by and I finally grab my keys and just go to town on this box.  [Eventual] success, and I take the picture.  I hope you like it, because it was not easy to come by! 

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BBQ Seitan, lettuce, onions, tomato on a pita

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Here is one where I held it open a little so you can better see the seitan

Despite all of the aforementioned irritation, eating the sandwich was a very easy and enjoyable experience.  It was yummy and ridiculously filling.  There was way more seitan in there than the pictures suggest; it was all lumped down in the bottom.  This actually was a little disappointing for me because the last 7 or 8 bites were just seitan, sauce, and a scrap of pita…but I find that this always happens with pita sandwiches, and I don’t think it has anything to do with the sandwich being poorly made or anything.  I just personally like to have a bit of everything in each bite.  It was very tasty though.  I’ll definitely be back to that truck soon.  And now that I’ve had the rosemary fries, my curiosity is satisfied I will have to buy them every single time I go.

Verdict: I love the Clover truck.  I have only been there twice so far (the other visit will be recapped in a future post) but both times I enjoyed the whole experience, not just the food.  The people that work there are really nice, even when they’re swamped with customers, and you can tell they love their product.  Oh, and it’s super-cheap!!!  Highly recommended.   Take note, however–the truck is 100% vegetarian but many of their items are not vegan unless you ask.  The good news with this is that you can literally  just say “I want the __ sandwich, vegan,” and they know what to leave off without you having to rattle off the adjustments to be made.

Thumbs up!!!

Peace o’ Vegan Heaven

I almost started jumping up and down the other day when I saw this post on Peace o’ Pie’s blog.  Vegan Brunch…must try.  And try I did.  Gorged myself is actually more like it.  Here is a recap:

From the buffet line:
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Clockwise from top left, you see: curried tofu, tempeh bacon, smoky mac n cheese, sweet potato home fries, a paprika zucchini potato pancake, and a gluten-free cinnamon walnut pancake (sort of hidden by the potato pancake…sorry!). 

The tofu and the latke were my favorites.  I wish I had gotten more tofu!  The mac n cheese was quite good as well–just in appearance alone, it’s one of those “I can’t believe it’s vegan!” foods.  I mixed a liberal amount of chili garlic sauce into the mac to make it perfect.  Sweet potato home fries, check.  Cinnamon walnut pancake–a bit heavier/denser than I’d normally like, but I am also not accustomed to gluten free eating so maybe it comes with the territory.  Flavorful though, and I enjoyed the big crunchy walnut pieces in it.  The tempeh bacon was the only thing I wasn’t thrilled with; that said, I have tried and failed to love tempeh in the past so my opinion is not terribly weighty on whether this was good or not.



But then there was this:
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A cinnamon bun with strawberry cream cheese frosting

Holy crap.  Besides being incredibly photogenic, this thing was delectable.  I ate half of it early in the day with my brunch and the other half for dessert later on.  A finger-lickin’ delight, and I can’t wait to go back for more!

I have alot more to say about Peace o’ Pie in a future post (in  my draft folder right now…along with everything else ever. Sigh.)  All you need to know for now is that it’s friggin’ awesome and any vegans that visit Boston should make it a point to stop in!

Heirlooms

Quick post to show off some awesome food I ate after some recent trips to Whole Foods!

A note on Whole Foods

The closest grocery store to where I live happens to be Whole Foods, and while I’m well aware of and agree with the notion that it can be prohibitively expensive, I shop there regularly, mainly because a) their produce is the best I have found in Boston (besides heaven Russo’s, and I can’t ever get there because I have no car :() and b) they are the only store I know of that carries many of the vegan products that I prefer to buy.

Nonetheless, I have learned how to maximize the value of what I end up spending at Whole Foods.  First, I always go in with a finite list of things to buy.  Because I usually don’t know what is on sale before going in, the list almost always contains either a general term like “green vegetables” or has single lines that list several options (for example, it might say “blueberries/strawberries/mango,”and then if none of them end up being on sale, I don’t buy anything, and instead wait until H gets home from work and can drive me to a more affordable store!) Second, I am only allowed to try one exciting new food or product per month.  This is because I am passionate about food (in case the blog was not an obvious indicator) and it is something that genuinely excites me.  Which leads me nicely into the real topic of this post…

Heirloom Products

My March “fun purchase” from WF was this gorgeous thing:

Beautiful Heirloom Tomato
An organic heirloom tomato

It was gigantic and beautiful.  I ate it for lunch over two days, both days sliced up and drizzled with garlic-infused olive oil and sprinkled with a little sea salt and ground black pepper. 

Heirloom Tomato "salad"

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I thought the bright orange pulp was so pretty!

I know it sounds weird that I ate half a tomato for lunch two days in a row, but this thing was so meaty and flavorful that I was totally satisfied.  I mean, I definitely ate some more food like 2 hours later but still.  Really, really recommend trying one of these if you have never done so.  They come in all shapes and sizes and are just so much fun.

Before that, I had my February fun purchase:

Whole Foods heirloom bean chili
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I had never heard of heirloom beans so was insanely curious.  I am happy to report that while they taste much the same as regular beans, they are quite pretty to look at, and that overall this chili/soup is delicious, nutritious, and filling, and a pretty good value (since buying individual soups at WF is super-expensive–I got three giant steaming bowls out of this for the price of maybe 1.5 medium soups at their soup bar).  Yum!

Takes on Thai Take-out

Say that five times fast!

Actually, never mind.  I just tried it and it’s not that hard.  Nonetheless, I remain a fan of alliteration.

In this post I would like to discuss my recent experiences with Thai or Thai-style takeout from various Boston establishments.  

I feel like all vegans love Thai food.  Is that an over-generalization? Perhaps, but think about it.  There are so many options that are vegan or can easily be made vegan with a few small tweaks.  For example, you can get vegan pad thai at pretty much every Thai restaurant in the U.S. by just asking for it with no meat (usually chicken and shrimp are included), no eggs, and no fish sauce.  Anyway, two of the reviews below are for veganized dishes at non-vegan establishments, and the third is for an all-vegan, all-amazing eatery where all (okay, some) of my dreams have been realized.  But first…

Boloco‘s Bangkok Thai burrito bowl

Now, clearly Boloco is not a Thai restaurant.  But it has a Thai option, which I ate recently and want to review, so it’s getting lumped into this post.  Deal.  Also, I’ll be honest.  I love me some Boloco.  1) Their tofu is goddamn delicious.  It’s really meaty, perfectly spiced, and they always give you plenty of it.   2) You can veganize the large majority of the options on their menu.  And on a related note, all (not just some…I’m looking at you, Qdoba)of their nutritional information and ingredients are listed on their website.  3) You can sub in brown rice or a whole wheat wrap on any menu item.  4) It’s cheap.  5) It’s very portable, particularly if you go with the bowl as opposed to the wrap. 6) I reuse their containers like every day. 
Verdict on Boloco: If you’re in Boston, I highly recommend it.  They have a number of locations (since I doubt anyone visiting Boston would find themselves in Cleveland Circle by chance.  At least, I sincerely hope not) and a variety of options that will please everyone.

Regarding the Bangkok Thai bowl:  It was pretty good.  The peanut sauce is tasty, but…I can’t tell if it was too thick or they just gave me too much.  I did like the addition of the cucumbers, though…that was an unusual (for me) combo with the peanut sauce, and the tangy Asian slaw was also nicely balanced by the sweetness of the sauce.  I still put Boloco’s summer burrito and their cajun one at the top of my list.

Next up: Bamboo‘s Tofu Red Curry

Again with the honesty…I mostly love Bamboo because it is right across the street from my apartment.  That’s also usually why I eat it; I spy it from my living room window, and suddenly think “Ooh, I’m in the mood for Bamboo!”  Despite this, I don’t eat it all that often because frankly I can’t afford to.  Not that it’s overly expensive, but eating any restaurant food too often is expensive.  So there’s that.

At the end of the day, though, they do a delicious curry:
 

I always have a dilemma when ordering because I love my food really spicy, and green curry is spicier than red, but the flavor of red curry just sings to me.  In the end therefore, red usually wins out.  I love the spongy texture of the fried tofu with the creaminess of the coconut base.  I also love the snow peas and the cabbage.  My biggest complaint about their curries is that I think the size of the pieces (both tofu and veggie) is too big; they’re not bite-sized so I always have to cut them.  Having to use a knife consequently makes it impossible to use chopsticks, which is a bit of a killjoy for me.  Regardless, I have continued and will continue to eat at Bamboo for as long as I live in the neighborhood.

And now, having saved the best for last, I present an array of dishes from one of my favorite places ever, My Thai Cafe.  This place rocks so, so hard.

Review of the restaurant itself: I’ll be frank–getting to this place is a bit of an experience.  It’s located near the Boylston T stop on the green line and very near the Chinatown stop on the orange line.  More importantly, it’s located on the second floor of its building, so in order to get there, you have to climb a set of stairs through one of the seediest stairwells, like, ever.   However, once you enter the restaurant, it’s really, really nice–bright, clean, sparkly, and filled with happy-looking people and super-friendly staff.  I’ve been here twice now and both times, it was crowded.  And though I’ve only done takeout thus far, I am definitely going to try to eat in very soon and am looking forward to it very much. 

On to the food!

On my first trip, I got an appetizer of steamed dumplings:

And Pad Woonsen with veggie chik’n as my entree: 

Closeup on a chik’n morsel

The dumplings were just okay.  The filling was pretty nondescript (kinda dry, not too flavorful) but overall, the dumplings tasted good with the sauce that came with them and I enjoyed them.

Then came the Pad Woonsen.  Holy crap this was good.  I couldn’t get over how delicious it was, bite after bite.  All of the perfectly cooked veggies, the moist, tender veggie chik’n exploding with flavor, the perfect crumble of peanuts on top…SO GOOD.  H tried a bite and was equally blown away.  He even (somewhat guiltily haha) asked me for another taste a few minutes later (and I love sharing!).   He thought this was so good that he has agreed to go with me to eat dinner at the restaurant one night.  Score!!!

My second trip was on a work day, so I got the lunch special, which consists of an appetizer (either a fried spring roll or dumplings), an entree, and the soup of the day.  Apparently if you eat in, you also get jasmine tea.  For my meal, I got:

Fried spring roll and Mango Curry with Rice


And soup of the day…not 100% sure what it was! But I think it’s Tom Yum Yow-Hoo based on the menu description.

I got this mountain of food for $8.  Yup.  Eight dollars.  Including tax.  And I got two delightful meals out of it.  The soup was pretty good, but the truth is that it was blown away by the Mango Curry.  Let me tell you, this Mango Curry was everything I wanted it to be and more.  It was so sweet and creamy.  It wasn’t that warm outside on the day I got it, but spring was in the air, and this meal hit. the. spot.  The mango taste isn’t that obvious (except in the bites that have actual mango pieces in them! MMM I’m salivating), but it lends such a lovely sweetness to the finished product.   And once again I have to say that the texture of My Thai’s veggie chik’n is out of this world.  It’s soft and tasty and fits right in with the texture and taste of the vegetables and sauce.  Getting lunch from My Thai requires a 30-minute round trip T journey from my work (plus a sketchy stair climb!) but it is so worth it.

Alright I think I’ve rambled on for long enough in this installment.  Coming soon: vegan pizzas, heirloom produce, and more!

The Luck of the Irish

I have been saving this post in order to honor both St. Patrick’s Day and my own handsome Irishman:

 
My Irishman
The fiance and me at a brewpub in Manchester, NH

The story is as follows: H (the Irishman) came up with a brilliant idea a few months ago, which entails one of us coming up with a surprise Friday night dinner for the other, and then turning our apartment into a restaurant in the theme of whatever type of cuisine has been selected.  So far we have had Italian, Japanese, Cajun, Middle Eastern, and finally, Irish.

Irish night was my surprise for H, and I did it about a month ago.  The menu was as follows: fish and chips with curry sauce, Irish soda bread, and of course, Guinness and Jameson.

 

Irish Soda Bread (recipe below)


My “fish,” which was made of tofu sticks that I had frozen and thawed (recipe below)


Oven chips (recipe below) with curry sauce (purchased from a local pub that we love)


Eat, drink, and be merry!

All in all, it was a very successful restaurant night!  And what better day than today to recap it? 🙂

 

RECIPES AND REVIEWS

A. Irish Soda Bread (from VegNews magazine)

Makes one loaf

What You Need:
1-1/4 cups soymilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins

What You Do:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine soymilk, vinegar, and oil and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until blended. Stir in raisins. Add soymilk mixture and mix well to make a stiff dough.

3. Shape dough into a round loaf and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Pat the top down slightly, then use a sharp knife to cut an x-shaped slash on top. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Review: This was delicious, especially with a little vegan butter spread on it.  Even dogs like it, as I found out the next day when I brought the leftovers to share with friends we were visiting, and accidentally left it on a dining room chair.  They never got to try it, but their boxer-mix gave it two paws up!

 

B. Oven-Fried Fish and Chips (from Fitness magazine)…veganized below:

Ingredients
Canola or olive oil cooking spray
1 1/2 pounds  russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
4 teaspoons  canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons  Cajun or Creole seasoning, divided
2 cups  cornflakes
1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon  salt
2 large egg whites, beaten
1 pound  Pacific cod, (see Note) or haddock, cut into 4 portions

 

Directions
1. Position racks in upper and lower third of oven; preheat to 425 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Set a wire rack on another large baking sheet; coat with cooking spray.
2. Place potatoes in a colander. Thoroughly rinse with cold water, then pat dry completely with paper towels. Toss the potatoes, oil and 3/4 teaspoon Cajun (or Creole) seasoning in a large bowl. Spread on the baking sheet without the rack. Bake on the lower oven rack, turning every 10 minutes, until tender and golden, 30 to 35 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, coarsely grind cornflakes in a food processor or blender or crush in a sealable plastic bag. Transfer to a shallow dish. Place flour, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon Cajun (or Creole) seasoning and salt in another shallow dish and egg whites in a third shallow dish. Dredge fish in the flour mixture, dip it in egg white and then coat all sides with the ground cornflakes. Place on the prepared wire rack. Coat both sides of the breaded fish with cooking spray.
4. Bake the fish on the upper oven rack until opaque in the center and the breading is golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes.

Review:The tofu “fish” was a totally blind experiment, but it actually came out pretty good!  I used the above recipe, subbing tofu for the fish, obviously, and a little arrowroot mixed with water instead of the egg to bind the crust to the tofu.  I also added a little extra seasoning.

For anyone interested, either because you eat fish or you love someone who does, the original recipe got rave reviews from H, who enjoyed his with cod.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

Coco Loco

I know I am late to jump on the coconut milk bandwagon, but I’ve hesitated for a while because coconut-based products, as opposed to some of the (unsweetened) soy and almond products I’m used to, seem to have such a higher fat and calorie content.  However, on a recent trip to the store, I realized that now that I’ve finally straightened out my eating so that I’m back to not worrying about how much I eat but rather how well I eat, it’s time to branch out and try some of these pretty-looking new products.

I realize this product review might not be all that helpful because most people who care about non-dairy developments have probably tried this stuff already, but just in case there are any other hold-outs like me out there, here you go.

Turtle Mountain So Delicious Coconut Milk ice cream, Cookies n’ Cream flavor 

I figured this was a good flavor to start with, because a) I love anything cookies n’ cream or Oreo-related, b) chocolate and coconut go so well together in general, and c) the picture on the carton looked amazin-raisin


Here is the ice cream in my cute little “hug mug” that H got me for Christmas 🙂

The verdict: pretty good.   I think I was expecting the coconut milk base to impart subtle coconut flavor but more importantly the creamy texture that coconut milk does so well.  It is indeed verycreamy, but also way more coconutty than I had expected.  I like it though; it reminds me of this (garbage dairy) Mounds ice cream that my local ice cream shop by the Jersey Shore served when I was a kid (Crazees, anyone? Anyone??)  Definitely worth trying if you like Mounds.  And next time I’m at the store I am curious to see what other flavors they have, and whether I think I can handle the extreme coconut influence on that flavor.

Turtle Mountain So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk yogurt, Pina Colada flavor

Holy crap this was good.  It tastes exactly like the (dairy) pina colada yogurt I loved when I was younger and is so creamy.  Seriously, the texture is perfect.  Look at this:

While I do appreciate soy yogurts, the texture doesn’t always suit my taste/mood and so I end up going long stretches without buying or eating any yogurt at all.  THIS, however, I slurped down too fast, and then was sad when it was gone.   And later that same day, I ran back to Whole Foods to get some more.  It’s that good.  I had the Passionate Mango flavor today.  Love.  I also got the Chocolate one–can’t wait to eat it tomorrow!

Verdict:  Try this!

Not Much to Look At

I know I said this in my last post, but being fully vegan again feels so awesome.  Blogging semi-regularly again has also felt really good!   Although I haven’t been cooking up full-blown recipes as much as I did in the past when I started the blog, I have been experimenting with packing creative lunches as well as trying new restaurants and grab-and-go products.  In addition, despite what it may seem, I have been photo-documenting all of this.  I just haven’t gotten a chance to upload the pictures into my Photobucket yet.  I promise to get on it in the next few days! 

In the meantime, I have only one semi-interesting picture to share:

These are Dreena Burton’s Peanut Better Cookies (I think from Vive Le Vegan), which I topped with chocolate pieces as a treat for the lovely H, who adores a good peanut butter and chocolate combo to no end.  In fact, for his birthday two weeks ago, I made this same recipe with chocolate chips folded in and ZOMG they were one of the best batches of cookies I’ve ever made.  In fact, I think I ate more of them than H did (happy birthday!!! …sorry).

As you can probably surmise, this recipe is awesome blossom.  I’ve made it at least a dozen times and it never gets old.  The biggest problem with these is that, particularly if you choose to add chocolate to the recipe, they are freakin irrestistable.  No but actually;  I can eat like 5-14 of them in one sitting when they are warm out of the oven.  Consider yourselves warned.