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Walk for Farm Animals and veg tourism

6 Nov

A while ago I posted about a vegan bake sale I participated in to raise funds for the SF Walk for Farm Animals, which benefits Farm Sanctuary. Our team raised $792 and some of that is going to be matched by one teammate’s company, so I think we did pretty well! If you want to make a donation to Farm Sanctuary, you can use this link to do so until Nov 12! Today was actual walk, which was held in Golden Gate Park. We were blessed with great weather!

After the walk was over, we engaged in a little veg tourism in Berkeley. We grabbed some lunch at Cha-Ya, an all-vegan Japanese restaurant. I ordered a sushi/inari lunch plate, miso soup, and gen-mai cha. It was pretty freakin’ delicious.

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That last picture is the sukiyake that one of my vegan buddies ordered. It looked amazing.

After a tasty lunch, we checked out Berkeley Bowl. It’s got a reputation for having a beautiful and extensive produce section. I was impressed by the selection (lots of stuff I’d never seen before!) but I think Rainbow Grocery is still my favorite SF market.

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MoFo #22: Halloween!

31 Oct

Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday of the year so I always try to do something special. This year we did a bunch of new stuff, which included checking out a new haunted house, trunk or treating, and seeing a special Halloween concert in SF.

Trunk or Treat is basically a way for parents to provide a safe space for their kids to celebrate Halloween. A lot of churches do it because it’s an alternative for parents who don’t want to send their kids out to strangers’ houses on Halloween plus they can control how spooky everything is. The parents line up their cars and sit in their Halloween-bedazzled trunks, handing out candy. Since everyone knows each other, you can totally make homemade sweeties to hand out instead of pre-packaged candy! I’m usually stuck buying the “boring” (i.e., non-chocolate) candy for Halloween, since the cheap chocolate is full of dairy (and slavery!) and the fair-trade/vegan stuff is way too expensive.

I didn’t have a lot of time to make stuff so I opted for chocolate-covered pretzel logs (with vegan Halloween sprinkles!) and caramel popcorn balls.

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They came out great! I put the pretzel logs in special bagse you can find at any craft store. I also had Sour Patch Kids and Swedish fish, but the homemade stuff was the first to disappear! In fact, I think the pretzels were gone in the first 10 minutes :)

The next day we went into San Francisco to go see a Halloween performance of The Phantom of the Opera. Of course, if we were in the city we had to check out a new vegan restaurant!

There’s been some buzz on the PPK about a new vegetarian Thai restaurant, Thai Idea. There’s also a good review of the place in SF Weekly.

Here’s what we ordered:

Thai iced tea
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Firecracker balls – they are deep-fried, panko-crusted and nori-wrapped veggie tuna balls.
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Massaman curry with tofu
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Pad Thai with veggie chicken
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Everything was good! The restaurant was super cute and all the entrees were under $10. The service was really attentive, too. I recommend the firecracker balls. They tasted a little fishy from the nori and they were served with a delicious sweet chili sauce. The Massaman curry was one of the best I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot!). The Pad Thai was just ok…it needed more zip but I’m also really picky about my Pad Thai. We were hoping they’d have mango sticky rice for dessert, but instead they offered deep fried bananas with coconut ice cream. As good as that sounded, I was only in the mood for mango so we passed.

Yay for a great new Thai restaurant (sans fish sauce!) and yay for Halloween!

MoFo #18: Sprout Cafe, Lake Tahoe

23 Oct

On Saturday we took a trip to Apple Hill (we picked apples…stay tuned for apple posts this week!) and Lake Tahoe.  Of course, I had to try out the local veg restaurants!

There are a few places for vegans in Tahoe but they can be pretty expensive.  Sprout Cafe is pretty reasonable and had  good reviews on Yelp so we decided to check it out.  It’s a mostly vegetarian cafe that relies pretty heavily on cheese but almost everything can be made vegan (there is no vegan cheese though).

I ordered the tempeh burger, which had to be served on a plain bagel rather than a bun.  Apparently the bun contains dairy.  The burger “patty” was a big slab of tempeh that tasted like it had been marinated in teriyaki sauce.  So I guess this was more of a sandwich than a burger!  It was also loaded with veggies – carrots, cabbage, sprouts, onion, tomato, and avocado.  The bread was slathered with a tasty sweet mustard dressing that was full of whole mustard seeds.  Thinking back, it may have been a honey mustard dressing…I’m not sure and didn’t think to ask.

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I was also happy to see that all their soups are vegan, made with a water base. On the day we visited they had a sesame noodle soup and a pesto veggie soup. Intrigued, I decided to try a cup of the pesto soup. It was really good, basically just a normal vegetable soup with pesto mixed into the broth. I really liked it and will probably try this out in my own soups.

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They also had a juice bar but I was way too full to try it! The staff were young, friendly, and courteous and were knowledgeable about what vegans eat – always a plus.

MoFo #13: Green Bites

15 Oct

This morning we checked out a new restaurant in the South Bay, Green Bites Cafe.

Green Bites is a casual little cafe in San Jose that offers a variety of vegan-friendly salads, sandwiches, soups, and crepes. I was really excited to see they offered a vegan crepe, called the “veganista”!!

The crepe was made of whole wheat flour, sprinkled with vegan cheese, and filled with roasted red peppers, mushroom, zucchini, cubes of tofu, and a drizzle of pesto. It was pretty good! I would have preferred more pesto and I needed to add quite a bit of salt to bring out all the flavors. I also ordered a latte, which was made with almond milk.

My partner had the breakfast burrito, which did contain egg and cheese but also the choice of vegan sausage or soyrizo. I bet they would sub tofu and vegan cheese! He enjoyed the burrito but wished it would have been heated in a press to melt the cheese.

I also noticed some vegan baked goods and there are some gluten free options. The prices are reasonable and the owners are very friendly. Check it out if you’re ever in San Jose!

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MoFo #8: vegan option at Chili’s?!

10 Oct

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Sorry for the lousy photo…it was really dark!

We received a Chili’s gift card last Christmas and finally finished it off. Sadly, Chili’s has never been very welcoming to vegans. Even their in house black bean burger patty has eggs and most salads are loaded with meat and dairy. Preparing for a night of mediocre salad, I was surprised to find a new item on the menu: veggie tacos!

I got them without the ranch dressing on top and asked for salsa on the side. The veggies inside included roasted mushrooms, squash, bell pepper, onions, and avocado. The tacos also came with black beans and a white rice pilaf. I tasted the pilaf and it was pretty meh and might have had butter. I couldn’t tell but I don’t ever eat the rice that comes with Mexican food so I wasn’t too torn up about it.

At $8.50, cheap for Chili’s, this was a decent dinner. I hope they keep it around and offer more vegan options in the future!

MoFo #5: Hobee’s Restaurant

5 Oct


When my partner and I moved to the Bay Area for grad school, we were sad to leave all the vegan restaurants of Orange County behind.  We quickly discovered Hobee’s Restaurant, a local chain in South Bay that has a diner-like feel but serves healthy and veg-friendly food.  We quickly made breakfast at Hobee’s a weekend tradition.  The staff at the location down the street from our apartment recognize us now and remember that I’m vegan (and remind me to order my meals mayo- or cheese-free when I forget!).

I always start of my meal with a cup of the house cinnamon-orange black tea, which they brew in bulk. I love getting tea refills, just like you get with diner coffee! It’s a bit strong (my partner can’t stand it!) but you can get soy milk (free!) to mellow it out.

For breakfast, Hobee’s has a pretty tasty spinach and mushroom tofu scramble which comes with coffee cake or hash browns. The coffee cake is not vegan but the potatoes are! Unfortunately, the whole wheat pancakes and sweet potato pancakes are not vegan :( I’m working up my nerve to ask the restaurant to start making them without eggs!

Lately I’ve been obsessed with the Asian wrap, which is a bunch of steamed veggies (sub tofu for the turkey) in a spinach tortilla smothered in house-made teriyaki sauce. It comes with tortilla chips or vegetarian black bean chili. Definitely go for the chili!

This time the thing was chock-full of veggies and grain – broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, spinach, celery, carrot, red bell pepper, mushroom, zucchini, lentils, and brown rice. Yum!

I’d also recommend the portabella Aztec burger without mayo or butter on the bun (the guacamole and pico de gallo are really good!). The veggie burger is not vegan, sadly.

They also have a pretty decent salad bar, which always has one veggie soup. If you get there before 10:30 there is an oatmeal bar!

Hobee’s also recently got a gluten free menu, although it doesn’t look very xgfx.  You can sub gf pasta though, which is nice.

I’d recommend this place, not as the best veggie option in South Bay, but as a good place to get healthy and reasonably priced diner-type food.  It’s especially good if your omni family is in town and you want to go out for breakfast without having to get “the fruit plate” (i.e., a sad little bowl of unripe melon).

MoFo #1: Source San Francisco

2 Oct

Hey readers! Oct 1 is the start date of the Vegan MoFo and I’m going to try and follow the rules of posting 5 times/week. If I’m lucky I’ll get around to posting every day!!

My first MoFo post ever is a review of Source, a new veg restaurant in San Francisco.  We stopped there for dinner on our way home from a field trip to the SF Veg Fest and Rainbow Co-op (more about that tomorrow!).

Source has a pretty big variety of “American” foods, like salads, pizza, sandwiches, and burgers as well as dosas, Indian curries, and Asian veggie & noodle dishes. We ordered the Bahn Mi sandwich, a pita pocket overflowing with pickled veggies, cilantro, and veggie duck, and the Philly cheese steak.

The fries that came with the sandwiches were good but needed salt and the ketchup was homemade. The Bahn Mi sandwich was super tasty but the veggies made the bread a bit soggy and there was too much veggie meat for my liking.

On our way out I bought a chocolate chip cookie sandwich to go and drooled over the vegan twinkies (!!!), snow balls, and cookie sandwiches in the goodie case. I’ll definitely be visiting this place again and bringing my omni boyfriend. They do use dairy-based cheese which makes the pizza little more omni friendly (although the vegan cashew cheese looked really good!). The service was friendly and attentive and there was lots of seating, including an outdoor covered patio.

Ethiopian food!

18 Sep

This weekend we had a PPK meet-up at Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant in San Jose.  I’ve been there before but this time was even better!  We ordered the vegetarian combo which included (clockwise, from top) a carrot, cabbage and vegetable stew, a red lentil stew, a scrambled injera & red pepper dish, a yellow split pea stew, simmered collard greens, and a green salad all served on top of a big piece of injera bread.

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BF and I shared a serving of lentil stew and split pea stew since those were our favorites last time. The whole table shared a big basket of injera, which I have grown to love. Super yums!

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We also tried Ethiopian beer and red wine and it was all quite good! They also offer a coffee service for $25 that you have to order before your meal starts. I’m very curious what that entails.

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