23 May 2009

Thoughts from Cville and Pittsburgh


Hello friends.
Not a lot of exciting news since I last updated. A couple short bits before I get into the good stuff:
Eppie's, the adorable home-grown restaurant I work at, serves the most delicious vegetarian tamales, alongside a heaping portion of rice and beans and fresh pico de gallo. And for less than 10 bucks for two of them, it feels like stealing its so good. And like all Eppie's food, its made fresh and served by Cville hipsters like yours truly.

Another Mexican related food item I am in LOVE with is Yucatan organic guacamole. I stumbled upon it at Integral Yoga Natural Foods and was delighted with what I found. Made with delicious, organic Hass avocados, its chunky and so creamy and perfectly seasoned, I devoured the whole tub in no time. Their website says its also available at Sam's if you can't find it at your own natural food store. Their website can be found here.

And now onto the highlight. On this Pittsburgh adventure, Chris and I ventured to the Southside once again in pursuit of a delicious vegetarian meal and found Zenith, a combination veggie cafe, antique store, and vintage clothing shop. I was in short highly charmed. The food was fantastic and very fresh, and the ambiance was wonderful. Each table setting was different, and had its unique charms. Vintage tablecloths, silverware, glasses, and the table and chair sets were mixed and matched to create the super-hip and intentionally tacky feel that was just perfect. The picture above is from their website, but in my opinion doesn't fully capture how intentionally uncoordinated and full of interesting vintage-y things it is.

Onto food and drink. Like lots of veggie places, Zenith also has an extensive tea list. Though they didn't have exactly what we wanted from the menu, the tea (Earl Grey, of course) was fantastic and served in a quirky teapot. We ate a great fresh salad and I had a fancy orange-glazed tofu dish with steamed veggies and rice, and Chris had some enormous stuffed peppers that were also wonderful. The tofu was a little difficult to cut, but the orange flavor was deliciously sweet and the veggies not overcooked, but perfectly tender. The best part of the meal was definitely the phenomenally delicious vegan cinnamon cake we had for dessert, topped with a sugary glaze. I can't say enough about how adorable, quirky, and delicious this place was. If you are ever in Pburgh, definitely check it out. They also serve brunch!

20 January 2009

cue the 'cue

its been a while, readers. 
in terms of my eating journey, there have been a couple of highlights since the last time we met. i went to pittsburgh for a visit with my better half over my winter break and i've got some thoughts on a couple restaurants there.
LA CASA
this place is FANTASTIC. they not only have delicious sangria and an enormous tapas menu, but have many veggie options. while i'm a sporadic fish eating veggie, my indulgences included: 1. lots of crusty bread with some of the most amazing olive oil i've ever had, 
2. roasted red peppers, 
3. a trio of scallops and fancy sauces (mango, balsamic, and raspberry), 
4. spicy potatoes with paprika, 
5. spring rolls with a lovely ginger sauce, 
and 6. flan to top it all off. 
it was an absolutely wonderful new year's dinner. 
DOUBLE WIDE GRILL
this is the highlight, folks. this place is charming: a garage made into a restaurant, they serve up downhome food, with a little over the top decor and redneck language but the menu is appealing. unlike most restaurants in this vein, they actually have an impressive number of clearly marked vegetarian and vegan items. their offerings include but aren't limited to: seitan "wings," vegetable chili, potato tacos, a homemade lentil burger, and 'pulled bbq' seitan. i ordered the latter, and boyfriend ordered the tacos, both of which were yummy. the bbq could have used less sauce, but the fries were obviously russets hand cut and drowned in salt, just what i love. [we also got onion rings as an appetizer, which were amazing, esp with the chipotle ranch, but i only indulge sometimes, remember]. they too have a very impressive booze menu; lots of beerz on tap. 

there were also some cooking adventures in pburg, some more successful than others, but the highlight was a fake meat quesadilla, simple and delicious. 
that's all my adventures for now, until next time, i'll be on the lookout for new things to try.

09 December 2008

for the love of fake meat: jerky edition


today's adventure is an exciting one, boys: meatless jerky

now some of you might be skeptical, can soy or seitan really taste like dried beef?
well the short version of this post says, "YES IT CAN!"

long version: 
my roommate's dad, who sends her an array of meat laden products that the quantity sent obviously is intended to be shared, has favored sending tantalizing homemade jerky lately. i have been veggie for over a year, and the thought of that delicious smoky taste and salty texture still tempted me. so, i began searching the internet; surely i wasn't the only vegetarian who in their meat eating days enjoyed jerky. in addition to missing the flavor, i also missed the portability and protein packed-ness of it; you just can't make a veggie burger anywhere. i was hopeful that my desires might be realized. and i found it! many different varieties and brands, but one struck my eye. i am always particularly fond of meatless products that use plays on words as their brand names, so "PRIMAL STRIPS" (photo above) were right up my ally. i went to my local natural food store, and after scouring the snack aisle, i started to lose hope, but as i decided to check out their energy bars, a series of bins beside them caught my eye. i was overjoyed, and bought three different varieties, two of which are yet to be reviewed. today, after my afternoon nap i decided to try one, the hickory smoked soy. while struggling with the package (is perforated at the top, but scissors were necessary in my case), the smell taunted me with smokiness. and when i got it out of the package, i found it a little smothered in sauce, but when i tore it apart to dig in, the texture was just right, fraying apart just like meat jerky! it was simply delicious, so flavorful, had the perfect texture,  and was remarkably filling (although i did want another just because they tasted so good!) i am highly anticipating tasting the others, especially the teriyaki seitan. 

love and best veggies,
-nora

addendum:
flavor #2: teriyaki seitan
not as successful as the soy in texture- comes off in sheets  and doesn't have that meaty fringing like jerky should. flavor, however is delicious. sweet and smoky, very good.

still to come, texas bbq soy. 
 
final addendum: 
flavor #3: texas bbq soy
a little more dry and less flavorful than the hickory smoked, but still tasty. 

your hostess

is me. i'm nora, 19 years old, living in a small university town. i live currently in what can roughly be described as a dorm, but is slightly more comfortable (more on this later). i've been a vegetarian for over a year now, but i realize how much my vegetarianism has grown since i've stepped out of the dining halls and continued researching vegetarian and vegan nutrition and health. i am writing this blog, and subsequent ones, to engage my interest in all things vegetarian. 
first, a little more about me:
why am i a vegetarian? this question is an important one, but for me, is not so easily answered. do i seem like a crazy animal rightist and say, "i love animals, i won't eat them!" or do i seem like a crazy hippy anarchist and say, "meat is bad for the environment!" or do i seem apathetic and say, "i never really liked meat; it just made sense." truth is, all of these things are true in my mind. so i guess there's your answer.
why write a blog? well, its what all the cool kids are doing these days, so i'm just jumping on the bandwagon. no, but really, everyone is doing it, and its a cool way to connect with others. and too, its an excuse to get away from my schoolwork.
why is this relevant? as many folks get more aware of the environmental issues affecting us all, they are starting to realize that maybe factory farming isn't so good for us. maybe eating food raised with growth hormones that have unknown effects on our bodies, and use up our valuable land for grazing, is not the best thing to put in our bodies. organic is the new trend, and i'm happy about it. also, as these issues come into the center stage and produce section of your local grocer, i want to give college students, who often don't have many food options, ideas for maintaining their values while they're away. 

so here is my blog, my experience as a vegetarian, feminist, college student, who leads a busy life and still wants tasty food.