Thursday, September 30, 2010

New York Food-o-rama: Part Three

Big Bambu

On Friday it was all about bamboo.

Hallie and I agreed to meet Joe at the Metropolitan Museum of Art so we could be a part of the lucky group of people actually allowed to climb around on the Big Bambu exhibit. Everyone can go to see it, but we agreed that being able to climb up 50 feet of lashed-together bamboo would be way better than just walking around on the ground admiring it. Kind of like getting to climb up the stuff I made out of tinker toys when I was a kid.

Because we needed to get to the museum in a timely manner to get our tickets, Hallie and I forewent a sit-down breakfast in favour of some bagels grabbed along the way at a place aptly titled The Bagel Store. They had several varieties of tofu cream cheese (so civilized!) but I chose plain for my whole wheat bagel because I wasn't feeling particularly oniony at that hour and the sweet fruity cream cheese flavours gross me out.

bagel + tofu cream cheese

The bagel was delicious and I ate it on the steps of the Met in the sunshine. I also had a giant iced tea because I was sweltering of boilingness.

We got our tickets (score!) and then had three hours to kill before our guided tour. Joe went off to run errands and Hallie and I went off to explore Central Park, which was lovely. We saw lots of turtles sunning themselves, and lots of high school kids rowing boats inexpertly while shrieking at each other. Soon it was time to go back to the museum.

Big Bambu

We weren't allowed to bring cameras on the climbing portion of the tour, which was kind of a bummer because it was AMAZING. Totally breathtaking. The exhibit has been built in phases by the artists and a team of rock climbers. It's made to resemble a cresting wave, and it has pathways that snake all the way up to its highest point so you can walk up high and look over it from above. In a few weeks they'll start taking it down and it will be gone forever. I'm so glad I got to be a small part of its existence.

After our tour Hallie had to go off to work so Joe and I took off enthusiastically for Red Bamboo, a vegetarian restaurant he'd been talking up to me for a while. I must say here that Joe, who is not a vegetarian, is excellent at being vegetarian-adjacent. Hallie and I both noticed this. He knows good veggie places to eat and never complains or gets weirded out by the food on offer. And he does nice stuff like offer to order vegan cheese on whatever he's getting in case I want to try it. I always told him to go for the real cheese, though. I love vegan food, but vegan cheese is just not that great.

cashew chicken at Red Bamboo

Here we are being dueling food photographers. I ordered cashew chicken and Joe ordered a Philly cheese "steak" sandwich. My food was amazing. Of course, I was super starving from all that park walking and bamboo climbing, so I would have been pretty happy with whatever was served to me. But this chewy fake chicken and crisp vegetables with rice was totally perfect for my giant appetite.

I was not going to miss out on dessert again, so halfway through dinner I forced myself to slow down and eat only the chicken blobs and the broccoli which were my favourite parts of the meal. This left me enough room for one of the five or six cakes they had available. This was called "Peanut Butter Heaven".

"Peanut Butter Heaven" at Red Bamboo

And heavenly it was. Light, spongey yellow cake layered with peanut butter and chocolate mousse and iced with a solid layer of chocolate frosting. I ate far more than I truly needed to. It was hard to stop.

We continued on to Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre where we got to see an improv show for free because Joe knows all the right people. It was a great show. I think that Chris Gethard is really, really funny. When the show was done I was almost asleep on my feet but we still managed to meet up with Hallie and her friend Joanne for drinks before she and I headed back to Brooklyn for some well deserved sleeping.

Last New York food recap is tomorrow. Glad you're still with me.

J.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: New York Edition

nice

One of my favourite things to do when visiting a new city is to sit down with a beer and a good book. Exposed brick and candles are not necessary but certainly appreciated.

J

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New York Food-o-rama: Part Two

Hmmmm, where should we dine tonight? Candle Cafe or Bistro Le Steak?

Candle Cafe

Assuming that Candle Cafe would have more vegan options, we decided to go there. Besides, it was one of the famous-ish vegan places in New York I was curious to try. And it was within walking distance of Central Park where three members of our party were going to see Pavement (wheeeeee!) later in the evening.

The problem was, Hallie and I met up with Megan, Dave (previously known as The Guybrarian but I'm tired of that now), and Joe at Candle Cafe mere hours after having scarfed down our giant breakfast/lunch at Curly's. We were not exactly starving Luckily, it turned out that no one else was very hungry either, so we all ordered appetizers and/or drinks and spent more time chatting than eating. I love it when friends I like get to meet other friends I like.

seitan! Praise it!

I ordered seitan skewers and, holy crap, I've never tasted seitan that delicious. I gave a piece of it to Dave who is not a vegetarian and had never tried seitan and he was quite stunned. "It's so... steaky," he said, with disbelief. Ha ha! Look out Le Steak! Dave had quesadillas and Megan had a salad, both of which were apparently quite good.

Joe + smoothies

Hallie and Joe and I had smoothies which were, by all reports, mediocre. Hallie's was supposed to be chocolate-coffee-fudge flavoured and yet somehow ended up bland. My berry smoothie was chalky, and Joe didn't say much about his strawberry shake, hence damning with faint praise. Or no praise at all.

Because we didn't have full meals, I didn't really get a sense of the place, but I would certainly go there again if they have other dishes that are as good as those seitan skewers. Will someone who has the Candle Cafe Cookbook tell me if the recipe for the skewers is in there? And if you've made them, how hard was it?

After our meal, Hallie had to go to work but Joe was able to join Megan and Dave and I for a pre-Pavement happy hour. Because I'm part Eliza Doolittle, it had never occurred to me that we don't have happy hours in Ontario. Cheap beer! What an exciting treat! We all got slightly tipsy and then strolled down to Central Park for the Pavement show. We bought our tickets for the show a year ago, so needless to say, we'd been looking forward to it for a while. And really, what could be better than seeing Pavement in New York City in the autumn while the sun goes down and a big tree periodically drops pretty coloured leaves into your lap? Not much.

Before the band even started I was hungry again, so Megan and I puttered off to check out the food options. Pictured here is my veggie dog with jalepeno mustard, spicy ketchup, and crushed salt and pepper potato chips. Yep, that's what I said.

Pavement dinner

This came from a super-cute food stall called Asiadog. I'm not usually a hotdog kind of girl (that's what she said) but somehow a fun vegetarian dog (and a can of beer) made for a perfect outdoor event dinner. Megan had a tamale from a neighbouring food vendor which looked so delicious it was admired by all the guys working in the beer tent.

Paaaaaaaaaavement

And then there was Pavement. Was it worth waiting a year and travelling 700 kilometres to see them? Absolutely. I'd seen Stephen Malkmus solo before, but never Pavement proper. And because they aren't touring to support a new album, it was basically a greatest hits show, which was just fine with me. They played my favourite songs of theirs (Range Life and Shady Lane) and seemed genuinely happy to be on stage together. I spent most of the show grinning like a idiot with my hands clasped over my heart. I could have danced all night.

J.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New York Food-o-rama: Part One

vegan cake!

Hey! Wanna try my genius new diet plan? First, go to New York City. Then, eat giant amounts of amazing vegan food. Then walk. Everywhere. All the time. Miles and miles of daily walking in the decidedly un-autumnal city heat. Do this every day for a week and you'll return home a few pounds lighter and with visibly more defined calf muscles.

I got home yesterday from New York and along with my well defined calf muscles I brought with me a Real American Headcold. So I spent all day today in bed until the Man of Science fed me soup and spring rolls and that perked me up enough to get started on this Epic Week of New York Food Posts. And so we begin with Curly's Vegetarian Lunch.

curly's walls

My friend Hallie, who graciously let me sleep on her couch all week AND took me all over the city to show me fun stuff to do and amazing food to eat, is a big fan of Curly's. She and our friend Frank and I went there for breakfast/lunch on Thursday. I had my usual intense option paralysis when faced with an extensive menu of vegan choices. At first I thought I would limit myself to the breakfast menu (I was very close to choosing kamut pancakes with veggie bacon) but then the sandwiches started calling my name. And I'm glad I listened.

totally vegan "chicken bacon ranch" sandwich. Awesome.

This, my friends, is a completely vegan "chicken bacon ranch" sandwich. And wow, it was good. The soy chicken was breaded and super crispy, the tofu bacon was salty and the ranch dressing was all creamy and unifying. One of my top five sandwiches of all time. The sweet potato fries were also better than your average fries. They were almost freakishly light and crispy. I would eat the whole meal over again right now if I could. The juice in the photo is carrot, beet, ginger and it was also delicious. I ordered it because I was worried about getting the cold that everyone in universe seemed to have and I thought some mega juice and ginger would stave off the germs. We all know how well that worked.

Hallie and me after brunch

We were so full after our meals we had no room for all that vegan cake that is advertised in the first photo (curses!) but that didn't stop us from gazing with longing at the menu of treats (not vegan, sadly) next door at Led Zeppole.

led zeppole

Will someone now make me a vegan funnel cake? Please?

Adventures in big city eating will continue tomorrow. Stay tuned!

J.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Garden Tomatoes

yesterday's harvest

The tomatoes have finally started ripening in large numbers, which makes me very happy. I roasted all of these and made a tomato dressing with some israeli couscous for Sunday's dinner.

I'm off to New York for the rest of the week. I'm going to see the show that my friend Hallie performs in, and also going to see one of the Pavement reunion shows in Central Park with Megan and the Guybrarian. Hooray!

J.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Vegan Huevos Rancheros

vegan huevos

I took these photos while I was assembling our Saturday breakfast plates. Inspired by my meal at Sadie's Diner, I layered corn tortillas, refried pinto beans, scrambled tofu, Daiya chedder, salsa, and avocado and then added some homefries for good measure. Do I even need to say it was delicious? I also like how the sun is getting progressively stronger in each picture. Good morning!

J.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back to School Spelt Bread

homemade spelt bread

Okay, so no one around our house actually went back to school last week. Frankly, I actually forgot about back-to-school time until I ventured into the shit-show that was the world last Tuesday. Wow. Grocery shopping at 6:30 PM in the middle of a bucketing thunderstorm on the day after Labour Day is totally not recommended, friends. But I digress.

Whether I'm going back to school or not, there's something about this time of year that feels like a new start. Or at least a transition of some kind. Living in Ontario helps, of course, because of our wildly distinct seasons. Autumn is already in the air, time to start stockpiling tights and cardigans.

The weekends lately have been cold-ish and rainy which was just fine for me seeing as all the tasks on my to-do list have been sewing or baking related. On Saturday I made two loaves of this bread, put on a pot of tea, and turned our gas fireplace on "low" to make sure the room was warm enough for the dough to rise. Oh, and since it is very important to supervise rising dough (it isn't, actually)I needed to sit down beside it by the fire with my tea. And the latest episode of Project Runway cued up on my computer.

homemade spelt bread

This is the most "professional" looking loaf of bread I've ever made. I could tell early on because the dough was easy to work with and smooth and lovely. I used some packaged spelt flour that I bought at the grocery store when I didn't have time to make it to the bulk food place and I wonder if that made the difference. I am a devotee of the bulk bins but sometimes I wonder if some of the items, especially the less popular ones, are just too old to perform properly in a recipe. Regardless of what the individual ingredients did, the finished loaves were beautiful and tasty. And this bread freezes well, so don't be afraid to make a few loves and put one in the freezer for later.

homemade spelt bread

Mostly Spelt Bread

1 cup warm water
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups light spelt flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

In a medium sized bowl or measuring cup, mix the warm water with the maple syrup. Add the yeast and set it aside for five minutes to grow.

Mix the flours, oil, and salt in a large bowl (or the bowl of your mixer if you are with KitchenAid) Add yeast mixture and stir until dough forms. Knead it (or leave it in the mixer) until it is a nice, smooth ball of dough. This should take about ten minutes.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Set it in a warm place and leave it for 1 1/2 hours. It will double in size.

Work the dough into a short, fat log shape. Put the log in an oiled loaf pan and cover it with the tea towel again. Leave it to rise for another half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Bake the loaf for about 25 minutes. To check if it is done, take it out of the pan and knock on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it's done. If your husband stands behind you and says, "Who's there?" every time you knock, just ignore him.


Some (Salsa Related) Notes:

behind the scenes at Rogers Daytime

-It was all-salsa-all-the-time in my life this past weekend. On Friday I was on Rogers Daytime, a local talk show, demonstrating how to make fresh salsa and talking a bit about my blog. If you'd like to watch the clip, it's right here. I usually smile more than that, I promise. I was very focused on cutting those tomatoes!

salsa

-And then! Then I went to my friend Katie's house on Sunday so she could give me a great introductory lesson in How Not To Give Yourself Botulism While Preserving Foods. We made a batch of cooked salsa using garden tomatoes (and garden hot peppers and garden cilantro) Because most of my tomatoes still aren't ripe, we made a fairly small batch, but I still took home six jars of lovely salsa to "put up" for the win(ter). Hooray!

J.

This Time Last Year: Really Delicious White Bean Borscht

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Raw Beet "Ravioli"

I make so much food from other people's recipes, I've decided to post a photo of something delicious every Wednesday for you all to admire. Where possible I'll link to the original recipe.

raw beet ravioli

I'm flirting with the idea of eating one raw dinner per week, so I began with some raw beet ravioli. I like the way raw food makes me feel and it's nice to eat light now and again. This was shockingly easy and really, really tasty! Trouble is, I ate it an hour ago and I'm hungry again. Next time? Raw appetizers and desserts to go along with it.

J.