Friday, December 12, 2008

Not feeling the Doomie's Hype

I have been having a lot of "last meals" lately with everyone's favorite Food Monster who is leaving our fair city of Los Angeles to return to the fair state of North Carolina. It's sad but true and I have finally stopped trying to twist his nipples until he agrees to stay and have instead focused on having the most fun we can before his inevitable departure. For we two foodies, that means eating a lot of good food. We agonized and debated for a full hour today before finally settling on lunch at Doomie's Home Cookin' the newly opened vegetarian/vegan spot in Chinatown. There's my pup hanging out on the patio at top.

I had high hopes for this place after reading the great reviews on Quarrygirl, To Live and Eat in L.A., and Kirby Von Scrumptious among others. But I was pretty disappointed and The Food Monster was downright horrified. But really, he always has had a flare for the dramatic...

We knew we had to try the vegan mac n cheeze. Everyone else's pictures of it looked so good and Kirby said that it rivaled Taste of Life's version! So we went ahead and ordered an appetizer portion. To my surprise, the mac n cheeze was just like almost every other vegan mac n cheeze I've ever had: absolutely flavorless. The macaroni was covered in a sauce that had absolutely no taste whatsoever. A six dollar bowl of oily noodles is not the best way to start off a meal.
For my entree, I ordered the philly cheese steak sandwich because, again, I just kept remembering how good it looked on everyone else's blogs. But the problem was that the key ingredient in the sandwich was the same flavorless cheese sauce. The sandwich probably could have been pretty decent if it had been sauce-free. Then I could have tasted the peppers, onions, mushrooms, and chewy seitan strips. But instead that cheese sauce masked any taste and also managed to turn the white bread into a soggy mush. The Food Monster got a burger and I'm sure he can't wait to blog all about it himself. One thing that was really damn good at Doomie's were their onion rings. They tasted just like regular non-vegan onion rings you would get anywhere else. Everyone at the table agreed they were great. The fries were pretty good as well.
Our friend JD ordered the B.L.T. I have said many times that the B.L.T. is a staple of any vegan restaurant and it is almost impossible to make a bad one. Doomie's did make a good B.L.T. but it's far from the thick piles of tempeh bacon that you would find on the club at, say, Flore or M Cafe. There was barely any filling, although they did not skimp on the veganaise which some places tend to do.
For dessert, I finally got to try the uber-celebrated vegan twinkie. The Vegan Spot (r.i.p.) was out of them every time I tried to get them there so I was psyched that Doomie's sells them. I haven't had a real twinkie since about 1992 so I might not be the best judge, but that thing really did taste just like a real twinkie! There it is, split in half so you can see the creamy filling.

I think overall I am just less a fan of vegan versions of traditionally meaty dishes and more a fan of cuisine using veggies and other proteins, so Doomie's concept is just not compatible with my taste. Our waitress told us that Doomie started the restaurant because he had dated a lot of vegan gals and hated being dragged to vegan restaurants where he could never find anything to his liking. Other restaurants, namely Taste of Life and The Vegan Spot, have adapted traditional comfort food far more successfully than Doomie's has, so in the future, I shall be heading down the road to Taste of Life instead of trekking to Chinatown.

Doomie's Home Cookin'
686 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(714) 883-7657

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thanksgiving Mania 2008

Let's finally get around to talking about our wonderful thanksgiving feast! The Food Monster (that's me and him working on our yummy food at top) and his three lovely roommates had me, my mom (who came in from North Carolina), and a couple of our other friends over for lots of delicious food and jolly company. I think I ended up making seven dishes in all but unfortunately I was so busy cooking/serving/drinking that I only remembered to photograph a few of those. So the best dishes will just have to be recreated for Christmas dinner and I shall post them then. In the meantime, let's start us off with three of the easiest things.

First off we have a VERY quick appetizer: dill spread. In my pre-vegan days, if ever I needed some comfort food, I would head to La Brea Bagel on Beverly in West Hollywood for a sesame bagel smothered in their dill cream cheese. Sad were the times when I got drunk on Friday and desperately craved one of those bagels on Saturday morning only to remember that the bagelry owners were honoring the Sabbath! Now I am not a fan of plain fake cream cheese. It tastes okay but it is definitely not the real thing. However, when you jazz it up just a little you'd never know it has no dairy! So I simply chopped up a ton of fresh dill and stirred it into some Tofutti cream cheese and served it with whole wheat crackers. Even my mom, who is really quite horrified by vegan versions of dairy products, was shocked at the great taste. Chop, stir, serve. It doesn't get easier than that.
Next up we have another appetizer inspired by a blurb in the latest Rachael Ray magazine: croissant wrapped asparagus. Again, this couldn't be any easier. Simply unravel a tube of Pillsbury Crescent Dough and sprinkle liberally with a vegetable seasoning spice blend. Slice into 1/2 inch strips and then wrap around raw asparagus spears. Pop in a 350 degree over for 20 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Full disclosure: these particular ones didn't turn out the best because a) I should have used olive oil spray to prevent the spears from sticking and b) I had to put these in an oven that was way hotter than the desired temperature, so the bottoms were burnt and the spears got a tad mushy. But, I am fairly certain that if these were cooked properly they would have been grrrrreat. I ate a ton of them as they were anyway :)
And lastly, for today, we have my simple cranberry sauce. I was pretty perturbed to read the cranberry sauce recipe in Veganomicon--it calls for agar agar and vinegar. To me, the beauty of cranberry sauce is that it is so simple and lets the awesome flavor of cranberries speak for itself. It seems a tad blasphemous to me to call for an obscure ingredient like agar agar. My cranberry sauce is as easy as it gets and the results are pretty damn good if I do say so myself. The Food Monster even told me that he normally really dislikes cranberry sauce but he liked mine. Thanks Monster Man!

Old Fashioned Traditional Cranberry Sauce is Good Enough for Me
8 oz. fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest

Place cranberries and just enough water to cover in a pot. Bring to a boil. Add sugar and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until cranberries begin to pop and sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature.

It was a wonderful thanksgiving dinner with my little L.A. family and we spent the rest of the evening plopped on the couch watching cheesy movies. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Don't have a cow just yet about The Vegan Spot's closing!

Uh oh! I better get on to posting all my backed up restaurant reviews, recipes, etc. because now it looks like one of the downsides of getting behind on posting is that the restaurant I'm reviewing may close down before I get around to talking about it. Ooooops, this is what has happened with The Vegan Spot over here in Silver Lake. An off-shoot of everyone's favorite Flore which specialized in vegan versions of meaty classics has sadly shuttered its doors. But wipe those tears away my vegan friends! Yesterday, during an amazing breakfast at Flore with Kirby Von Scrumptious and others, I chatted up our waiter about the closing and he said that, despite rave reviews from the food blogging community, the place just didn't do that much business. (I find that very easy to believe because every time I went in there it was totally empty.) However, the owners are working on plans to turn the space into a vegan coffee shop complete with the much celebrated vegan twinkies and a smaller version of The Vegan Spot's sandwich selection. The waiter added that he has seen the plans for the redesign and was excited about how great the new interior will look. So while it is sad that the short-lived Vegan Spot is now gone, we can all look forward to a new vegan coffee joint which, as far as I know, cannot be found anywhere else in LA. proper. It always seemed a little strange to me to open a vegan restaurant a few blocks down from your other vegan restaurant anyway.

So just as Quarrygirl has reminisced about the Vegan Spot on her latest blog post, I would like to take a brief stroll down memory lane and remember a lunch I had there a while back with my dear friend Craig.

Craig ordered the club sandwich. There he is, at top, showing his excitement over this juicy plate. Craig's club came with fake turkey, fake bacon, sprouts, tomato, avocado, and veganaise. The club is a staple of all vegan restaurants and it is pretty much impossible to make it taste anything but delicious. The Vegan Spot's version did not disappoint.

I ordered the Chef salad which came with fake chicken, fake bacon, and fake roast beef as well as some vegan mozzarella.
I am not the biggest fan of faux meats but the Vegan Spot's knock offs of animal goods were pretty outstanding. They were nothing like the spongy chunks you find at many Asian vegan places. Instead the chicken, turkey, and roast beef were very thinly sliced tasty treats! Note my adorable pup hanging out under our table.

The one thing Craig and I really didn't like about our meal was the water. At Flore they infuse the water with refreshing mint, but on our visit to The Vegan Spot the water was infused with rosemary. Our dishes were pretty savory and we would have loved to have been gulping water down but the rosemary flavored water was just gross. It kind of tasted like drinking dirt. Hopefully the new coffee shop will abandon this practice. I will probably be the first in line when it opens!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hello world!

Hayyylooooo readers. Longtime no see. It seems that I have managed to accomplish almost nothing on my very long "List of Things to Accomplish During Hiatus" which leaves me scrambling to get everything done before I leave in two weeks to go home for Christmas. This was not a good move on my part as now I've got to do all this stuff plus get all my holiday crafting/cooking/gifting projects done and all of this happens during the most social month of the year. So needless to say, I am a busy gal. In addition, I decided to accept a couple days of work on a commercial this week in order to remind myself what work is, as our hiatus will soon be coming to an end and I'll need to get used to waking up every morning at the crack of ass again.
The moral of this story is that I have a ton of posts to catch up on, including many from the thanksgiving feast that The Food Monster and his housemates hosted. In the meantime, allow me to inform you of an awesome event at everyone's favorite gelateria Scoops:

This Saturday, December 6th, there will be a taste testing at which you can pay $5 to try three mysterious vegan gelato flavors. If you correctly identify the flavors you will be entered to win a prize! Omnivores can pay $10 for a ten flavor tasting! All proceeds go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. You can find more information at the event's facebook page.

I'll definitely be there, that is, if I get off work in time. Sigggghhh.