Friday, September 26, 2008

Dosa Update

An employee at Dosa came across my last post about their lovely South Indian restaurant and sent me a very nice e-mail. They wrote:

"I did want to mention that we can make our dosas vegan by holding back on the "ghee", which as you might know is an integral part of vegetarian food. Next time just ask your server and we'll be glad to serve you a delicious vegan dosa."

And I thought that place couldn't get any better!!! It almost makes me want to shoot up to SF sometime next week just go get some more scrumptious curry.

In the meantime, I am off to Detroit to hang out with the fam a bit--ahhh yes, hiatus means I get to take a lot of vacations. I'm thinking about catching a flight to Mexico sometime next month if the ole bank account can handle it. Everyone have a great weekend and I'll see y'all next week!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jumping for Vegan Joy in San Francisco

Ahoy Mates!

I'm not sure how it's possible, but I seem to be 100 times busier on hiatus than when I was working. Go figure. Anywho, as I mentioned, I made a quick trip to San Francisco last week when I caught a ride with my friend Neal who was driving back to Norcal from San Diego. Therein lies the beauty of being unemployed--I can just decide at the last minute to drive up state in the middle of the week for no other reason than just wanting to be in weather cold enough to actually merit wearing one of my many scarves.

On to the food...

Basically every restaurant we saw looked incredible. I could spend decades there and probably never make it to all the awesome dining options. So for our one day in the big city, we had to choose wisely. I checked out Quarrygirl and To Live and Eat in L.A. for ideas and they both seemed pretty smitten with Herbivore, so that's exactly where Neal and I went after a wonderful morning at MoMA.

My fellow bloggers raved about the grilled seitan shwarma wrap, so it didn't take me long to order. Soon out came my wrap packed with grilled onions, tomatoes, hot sauce, hummus, tahini, pickles, and the awesome seitan. Would I like to add eggplant and potatoes to that? That would be a yes--I'm on vacation after all! I could easily eat this wrap every day for the rest of my life--it was that good. Neal ordered the falafal wrap which was also delicious. I was also very pleased that the wrap was totally easy to eat--it wasn't constantly in danger of exploding and dripping like wraps are wont to do. (These pictures are much better than mine)

The desserts sounded uber delish, so we couldn't resist ordering a slice of german chocolate cake. The server brought out this huge slab of heaven, which we devoured even though we were already so full we wanted to die. The fudgey icing was the best I've had--vegan or otherwise.

The added bonus of eating at Herbivore, was that while we chowed down in the sunshine, we spotted a very cute looking Indian restaurant. When we were craving Indian later on, we knew right where to go. It was back to the Mission for us!

Dosa serves South Indian cuisine which is different than the stuff one sees on a usual Indian menu. I was pleased to see a note at the top of the menu pointing to the vegan options. I ordered the Tamil Vegetable Curry which was made up of cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, plantains & cherry tomatoes in a "Chettinad-style" curry. Spooning the curry over coconut basmati rice made for one of the best meals I've had, period. The menu described the curry as mild which makes me fear what they find spicy because it was actually quite hot. Neal ordered a dosa which was unfortunately not vegan, because it looked amazing.

Neal and I had an amazing time in SF and I cannot wait to go back--especially because I found it to be even more vegan friendly than L.A. which is very impressive! Thanks to Foodeater and Quarrygirl for the great advice! Also, after eating at Dosa I really want to start cooking obscure Indian dishes more often. Anyone have a good suggestion for a vegan (or easily veganizable) Indian cook book?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Howdy Pardners,

I'm off on a last minute trip to San Francisco! While I'm gone, you should check out the guest blog I did over at The Food Monster about our night in Little Ethiopia. See ya on the flip side!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Meh" Cafe: fool me once, shame on you...

I was never too successful trying to get our little art department to go to M Cafe for lunch--not only does the macrobiotic cafe offer very few meat options (and only seafood at that) but the place is a tad outside of our usual budget and the portions are smallish. During our last week, our crew members slowly started dropping off until the last two working members in the art department were me and my coordinator. We took the opportunity to eat at the places that everyone else always scoffed at. So we found ourselves ordering one last time from M Cafe.

I ordered the Gado Gado salad which is described as "organic mixed greens, napa cabbage, crisp vegetables, golden tempeh triangles marinated with ginger, lemongrass & lime, frizzled onions & spicy peanut dressing." While that is basically an accurate description of the salad I got, I was still disappointed. The lamest thing about M Cafe is that over fifty percent of the items on the menu are prepackaged and sit in their display cases for who knows how long. This salad is no exception and it is just plain outrageous that M Cafe gets away with charging $12 for a teeny tiny salad that has been sitting out. If work hadn't been picking up the tab, I would have felt like a total sucker. I just kinda overlooked this lameness before, but I can't get over the fact that I would have been much better off grabbing a sesame tofu salad from Trader Joe's for three bucks.

We also ordered a couple chocolate truffles which were good but, again, were they worth $1.50 a pop? Not really.

I think the idea of M Cafe has been fooling me into thinking it's pretty good all this time. Maybe it's because I'm on hiatus now and I have to --gasp!!!--pay for my own food, but I won't be going back there anytime soon unless I have a hankering for being ripped off.

M Cafe de Chaya
9343 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Friday, September 5, 2008

The key to a poor doctoral student's heart is chocolate chip cookies

Jason is the first person I met at college. He was the roommate of my friend from high school. Six years later, he is still one of my best friends in the world. Whenever I'm super upset about something, I call my mom first and then Jase. His birthday is at the end of August which was perfect because we got to have a party every year right when we went back to school. Sadly, we haven't been together for his past couple birthdays and this year he is all the way in State College, PA where he is starting his six year PHD program, eek! I wanted to send him a little something for the big 25th b-day, so I found the recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies in VWAV and got to work.

I did my homework and saw that a lot of bloggers had problems with the dough being too crumbly. So I added the flour 1/2 cup at a time and in the end I obtained the perfect texture with about 1/4 cup less flour than is called for in the recipe. The recipe says that it will prove to any non-vegan that you can make vegan chocolate chip cookies that taste just as good as regular ones and when I tasted them I was shocked at how they tasted exactly like the normal kind! Before I mailed these out I had a couple coworkers try them and they both said that while the look and texture were spot on, the taste bore no resemblance to real chocolate chip cookies, adding that they just tasted like molasses cookies. Siiiigh. Next time I am going to get them to try them without knowing they are vegan first.

I was slightly worried about how the cookies would fare in the mail, as the last time I sent cookies they arrived at my friend's house in Argentina a month later, melted into one giant cookie blob. These suckers arrived in three days however and Jase assured me they hadn't blobified. As for Jason's review, he said "these are really good considering they contain none of the ingredients needed to make chocolate chip cookies." Hmmm, not sure what that means, but he ate them all soooo whatever! Actually, Jase may not be the best judge of any food. In college he would routinely bake up a dozen Jiffy blueberry muffins and eat six of them for dinner and then have the other six for breakfast the next day. So he's not exactly a foodie.

If we aren't dating someone when we're 45, Jase and I are going to get married, so I've got a few years to perfect the recipe. But in the meantime, I still say that these suckers are delish.

Happy 25th Jayyyyseeee!!!!!

P.S. The recipe says it will yield 36 cookies, but unless you like your cookies to be no bigger than quarters, that is definitely not the case. This made about 20 average sized cookies.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Better Dodger Dog

Last night the art department went to see the Dodgers defeat the Padres in a good old fashioned baseball showdown. George (pictured above) and I managed to kill off an entire bag of whole peanuts in the first four innings, but insanely, I was still hungry. So I went in search of the one stand in the whole stadium that sells veggie dogs which happened to be quite close to our seats. Truth be told, I wasn't exactly in the mood for a veggie dog--I was eyeing those giant super pretzels--but I wanted to cast my vote, so to say, with my hard earned $6.25 for the veggie community. The thinking being that if items like the veggie dog sell well enough, they will become more prevalent throughout the stadium and maybe there will even be more vegan items added to the usual stadium fare.

The hot dog itself was nothing out of the ordinary by any means--just your average vegan dog on a white bread bun. But it was nice and hot and if you slather anything in enough ketchup and mustard, you are bound to have a delicious treat. The price is outrageous of course, but it also costs 5 bucks for a pop or a regular hot dog, so basically everything is super expensive. It was also blanket night though so we all got some free hideous fleece blankets that I will probably only bring out of the closet when Leif gets drunk and passes out on my couch (which is often).

The moral of this story is that I love the Dodgers, my friends, peanuts in the shell, and I love that I live in a town where vegan options are offered in even the most carnivorous of places.

Look forward to a deluge of posts, as I am finally finding time to catch up on my life in food from the past week!