Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Beet Box Cafe-A Review

When you eat Mostly Vegan it's not all that easy to find an all vegan place to eat. And what is wonderful about when you do is that they have a whole selection of food for you. Not just one or two items on the menu (I love you hummus, I do, but there are other options for sandwiches people!) Beet Box in Denver is an all vegan Bakery and Sandwich Shop. It was so good I went twice so that I could sample more and give a more complete review.

First time around I went with the The ABC. Warm rustic bread, crunchy and soft,  mustardy, pickled beets, cashew cream cheese and roasted almonds all melding into a very satisfying sandwich, It was a revelation actually. Finally, a sandwich that delights and doesn't bore you!


Second time around I brought my friend Kerry along. Like me, she perused the menu online before hand and was eager to try it out. We got two different sandwiches and some donuts to share. The space is brick walls, sunlight, booths and tables. Casual, order at the counter, they give you a number, you sit, they bring. I like that for lunch. Not as fast as fast food, not as slow as a typical sit down joint.

Chickpea of the Sea wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I thought a more Tuna-fish like salad would occur. Although the name is misleading the sandwich transcended my expectations. Curry chickpeas had a nice spice, crunch and sweetness of sliced apples added texture and flavor, and all on a tender whole grain bread. Damm straight! (All their offerings come with a side of chips....I do love a chip.)


Tofu Bánh Mì was a bit of a worry at first. The lovely baguette was hard to bite into, but when you let the sandwich sit for a bit it starts to soften from the melange of elements inside. Baked tofu, vegan garlic mayonnaise (which to both of us was the stand out, star and all around most wonderful element of the sandwich) and pickled vegetable mix, match and sing!


The shop carries plenty of baked goods, pastries, cupcakes, bread etc. But I went straight for the Baked Donuts. On my first trip I tried the Chocolate Coconut and it was stellar! Perfect crumb, not too sweet, and lovely.


Second time out I went for the Vanilla Coconut, there are other kinds to try, but dammit I like coconut! Don't judge me!

Kerry grabbed an Almond Gluten Free Donut as well. This was the only meh of the whole trip. Taste was good, but texture was gummy.

Over all we both felt that this was a solid Hell Yeah! Oh and we saw a guy at another table with what appeared to be the Grilled Avocado sandwich...that's on the list for next time.



Saturday, March 21, 2015

Arabesque-A Review!

Decided to celebrate Persian New Year a day late by lunching at Arabesque in Boulder. They have indoor and outdoor seating available and the menu is inside on the wall. You check it over, then sit at your table and let the waitperson know what you want. Sweet family atmosphere, the servers were all friendly, and happy. It was empty when I arrived, then filled up as I dined. I started with the lentil soup. If you're not a fan of spice and heat ask them to ease up on the pepper. (I'm looking at at you krosenberg!) Smooth, almost creamy texture, and yet it was vegan.
For my main I went with the Mediterranean Vegetable Platter. It's a little expensive for lunch, but the flavors were amazing. Let's break it down.
Warm dolmas! First to go into my gob. Quick two bites and all good! Salad lightly dressed with balsamic dressing, not an afterthought but an accompaniment. Tabbouleh is well done, parsley and lemon filled. Baba ghanouj is a very happy marriage of lemon, tahini, garlic and eggplant. Poufs of pita were warm and yeasty, with the perfect amount of chew. (I ordered another so I could mop all the greatness into my mouth,) Hummus is lovingly dressed with sexy pools of olive oil and garbanzos. It's one of the best I've had, and believe me, I've had a lot of hummus. I finished with a fruit filled ice tea. Blueberries, strawberries, blood oranges and lemons top a light, unsweetened cinnamon flavored iced tea.
I'm going to go with a solid Hell Yeah! for Arabesque. Lovely place to dine.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Diggin In

I have been posting every day since I took up the blog again about two months ago. Now that I've decided upon this major life change (Round the World!!) I have to start really digging into planning, researching and making it happen.


Which means I won't be able to post as much as I have been. There will be recipes and food posted as often as I can, and once I'm on the road every single day again.
I hope you'll join me.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Planning a Walkabout

Recent changes have made me seriously consider attempting what I have dreamed of for years. Traveling the world. Now I am making it happen!




In the next few months I am going to be selling my condo and 99% of the contents so that I can finance this crazy dream of mine. My book and cookbook collection and most of the kitchen tools/pots and pans included.

I am also getting in touch with anyone I know who can be of assistance, like...

  • Folks who live in the places I'm thinking of visiting, for couch surfing and guidance.
  • Friends who know folks who live in these places, for couch surfing and guidance.
  • And travel and ex pat professionals/genius' who can give me advice for this crazy venture of mine.
No plans are set in stone yet. If I am within traveling distance to your home turf, and you'd like some company, let me know! Right now I am thinking of driving to:
  • Boise ID (Friends here)
  • Bend OR (Friends and cute baby boy here)
  • Portland OR (Real Nutter of a friend here)
  • Vancouver BC (Hopefully)
  • San Francisco CA (Have family here)
  • Santa Cruz CA (Great friends who are very much like family)
  • Los Angeles CA (Friends here as well.)
Then fly out to:
  • Perth (Where I have some wonderful friends who have offered up some accommodations.)
  • Kuala Lumpur 
  • Goa
  • Tanzania (Where I have some more wonderful friends who have offered up some accommodations.)
  • Istanbul
  • Palermo (Where I have some friends I hope will be able to accommodate me.)
  • Paris
  • Dublin
  • New York City
Please contact me if you know anyone/anything that will help me along my way. And/or you're interested in some of my "stuff".

“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sumac to Do!

The sumac I bought a few weeks ago was starting to intrigue me. Where to use it? And then I saw a note about using it on potatoes. Perhaps I have mentioned my undying love for potatoes?


So I cut them up into fries. Tossed them with olive oil, sumac and salt, and roasted them in the cast iron pan at 375 until crispy and perfect.


The sumac lends a tart sweetness, not all overpowering, very mild and quite right for a potato. But what to serve them with? I was turned onto Toum, a middle eastern garlic paste, when I first started to travel to Detroit. But the store that sometimes has it here was out. So I faked it. Mixed Just Mayo with a ton of minced garlic and dug in. That's the stuff!



Saturday, March 14, 2015

3.14.15-Pi Squared!

Pie are not squared, pie are round! That my friends is the favorite joke of my math loving brother Justin...sigh...dork...

Went with Mrs. Jones, looking for a pie to celebrate Pi Day, found these instead at the Bavarian Bakery in Longmont. (A favorite place of brother Aaron.)
They will have to do, I'll suffer through.






Friday, March 13, 2015

Cacio e Allepo...Maybe?

I understand this goes against all that is good and holy in Italian food. Several of my ancestors are turning over in their graves as we speak....

but I found this pasta,
I just happened to have Aleppo pepper in the spice cabinet,
and butter and cheese will make my heart explode...so here it is.

Vegan Cacio e Allepo!


Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain. Mix with Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, season with salt, nutritional yeast and the Aleppo pepper. Served with a side of steamed broccolini. The Aleppo, my first time using it, has a nice heat, slow building, not harsh like crushed red pepper flakes. 
Pretty sure leftovers will be eaten at dinner.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

TBT-Cookbook Edition Dreaming of Distant Lands

Thoughts of travel, that I've been ignoring for some time, came on very strong recently. So in lieu of being able to head out right now, I delved into some old friends.

The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, copyright 1966, has been a go-to for obscure Chinese recipes for some time now. In it "centuries of Chinese culinary lore have been distilled, selected, and set forth especially for the Westerner."

Some recipes a little more involved than others.



I have found a lot of comfort in the book noodle, copyright 1999, as you can see here some inspiration for recent eats of mine.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rosalee's Pizzeria-A Review!

Rejoice NYC Pizza lovers! Rosalee's has come to save us from sad imitations and over done CO crust. (Seriously, why is that even a thing? Honey drizzled on my crust? WTF people!??) In the interest of full disclosure, I worked for many years with James the owner/chef, but he and I are close enough friends that if I had a beef with his food I'd tell him. This review is beef free. It was amazing!

Would you look at that fold? That shit is legit! And the drizzle of cheese is ridiculous. (See note)


Their pies are huge, this is an 18" cheese here, and yeah I ate 4 slices. No regrets people, no regrets!


You can buy it by the slice, but I say find a friend and share like I did. (Thanks Senor Gerald!)


Their atmosphere is laid back, good selection of beers on tap, in a bottle or can. They have garlic knots that will put your garlic intake into overdrive, in a super good way. The menu isn't huge, some salads, several different pies, the knots and antipasto for apps, but they stick to what they do and do it well. And the patio...oh boy, it's sweet, on the western side of the building, so come warmer weather I know where I'll be spending some time with friends.

Note: A reminder that I eat vegan MOST of the time. But will occasionally fall off the vegan wagon so that I can try things that catch my fancy, or need to be eaten, like this here pizza pie.



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Porridge You Glad?-Juk, Congee and So Much More!

Just found out today, from my bud Flood, that congee/juk is a macrobiotic recipe. I thought I wanted to make it because I've been fascinated with this Asian porridge ever since I first tried it at a dim sum palace. But maybe the bowl I made with shiitakes and dandelion greens was an answer to what my body was asking for? Don't know. Don't care. It was good. Damm good. Like gotta make it again soon good.

I had some shishito peppers on hand that I seared in my wok as well with a toss of salt. I mean, why not?

Brown and red rice mix went into the slow cooker on high with a 1-8 ratio of rice to broth. I also tossed in about a tablespoon of garlic. Let it go, stirring from time to time, for 4 hours. You're looking for a thick, oatmeal like consistency, you know, porridge.


Since I have a jar full of shiitakes I re-hydrated some, cut them into small pieces, and seared them in the wok. They got added into the congee.

The dandelion greens were tossed in the wok with shallots and coconut oil, then doused with the liquid from the reconstituted shiitakes and a splash of soy to braise for about 5 minutes. They can be bitter, so the  braising helps to mellow them a bit, while still leaving a little bite that livens up the mellow congee.


Mixed and melded together it made a very satisfying bowl of happiness. I think this is going to be dinner as well. I'm all grown up, I can do that. (That's Korean Sesame Chili sauce drizzled over the top.)


Monday, March 9, 2015

Meatless Monday-The Beast Arrives!

A group of us veg heads have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Beyond Meat's Beast Burger in stores. The time has arrived people!! There are some in the veg community who miss burgers, they don't miss the fat, cholesterol and cruelty. But they do miss the flavor and being in on the throw it on the grill, toss it in a bun and top it with everything crowd. So here we go...


I of course decided to tart it up with some Daiya Cheddar Slices, because the more the merrier. (I even went for the vegan trifecta when I realized I had Just Mayo in the fridge and threw that on top too.) And then some sautéed kale to really annoy the meat and potatoes people, all on top of an herbed bun.


The burger isn't a flavored filled veggie burger, but it is a very good replication of a frozen beef patty.Therefore it needs you to add your toppings to make it your burger, just as you would if it was a frozen beef patty. This will absolutely be my go to when I'm invited to a cook out and asked to bring my own protein.



Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Woman's Place on International Women's Day

Here are a few of my favorite female food influencers, innovators and chefs through history in honor of International Women's Day. For some women, myself included, we do find a women's place is in the kitchen. Because we find power, artistry, comfort and joy there.



Catherine de Medici-may or may not have taught the French to eat with a fork, but definitely brought her chef's to the French court and influenced cuisine as we know it.



La Mere Brazier-Eugenie Brazier was such a formidable presence in Lyon that she haunts Paul Bocuse's dreams. And the first woman to be awarded 3 Michelin Stars and the first chef to hold six (between two restaurants).


MFK Fisher-I find her writing about food to be not only sensual but sensible. Which is how food speaks to me.


Edna Lewis-At the forefront of recapturing the flavors of the dwindling southern culinary tradition, she was not only a woman making her way in a male dominated culture, but an African-American award winning author as well.



Amanda Cohen-Chef at the renowned, and award winning vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy. She creates food that excites without compromising any of her values. Extraordinary!


Who are your influencers? 


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Soba, So Good!

Finding the all buckwheat soba at an Asian market the other day meant only one thing. I must eat soba! So I did a few days ago.


Package directions were in Japanese, but I did see the amount 3 oz. and the number 6. 


Slid into boiling water for 6 minutes. (Note to self, use more water next time to keep noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pot.) Then drained and rinsed under cold water.



Served with a soy sesame dipping sauce on the side, strips of roasted seaweed on top and accompanied by steamed sesame spinach and of course...Kimchi!

Delightful!



Friday, March 6, 2015

Taj III-A Review (And Happy Holi!)

The Holi Hindu Celebration is a virtual riot of color and food celebrating love and the coming of spring. Which is lovely and gives me an excuse to eat lot's of Naan, Saag and other wonderful multi-voweled foods with friends.


(This pic is from a Holi celebration I was witness to last year in Seattle.)

Friends and I headed to Taj III in Louisville for our own mini celebration. I've been going there for years and find the food to be more developed and with a more festive atmosphere than the Taj (a sister restaurant) in Boulder. Yes we went for the buffet, but when you want to try EVERYTHING, nothing beats it.


The chutney variety was standard, tamarind, mint and raita, but then there was strawberry onion chutney (what? yeah, good, very!) and spicy pickle which had a kick to them. Not everyone appreciated their flavor, but some of us were really digging them.


The naan was brought fresh and warm to the table, which is much better than the places who serve it on the buffet where it can grow cold and hard. I give the bread here at Taj II a sold mid vote. And only because the naan at Curry N Kebob in Boulder blows away all naan I've ever had.


The buffet had Pea Pilau (the rice) which was fine, not anything mind blowing, but solid. As we move clockwise, a cauliflower dish was the favorite of mine, but I loves me some cauli! Steamed broccoli, again, fine, nothing wrong, but boring. Channa Masala was the one that was a table fav. I don't know how they get the chickpeas so soft and yet not mushy, and the spice was mild but tangy too.  Saag paneer (one of the dishes I'll fall of the vegan wagon into) was good, again solid, but not overly spiced. Tucked in the middle of my plate is a potato and pea stuffed samosa. Crispy and soft all at the same time. What is not to love?

As for the meat dishes, my buddy BA found the tandoori chicken to not be as tender and a fried fish (served as an app on the buffet near the samosas) was meh. The Garlic Chicken though garnered high praise from him.

So if you're a vegetable lover, head over and steer clear of some of the meat dishes.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

TBT-Ruocco Recipes

This is my Gram Ruocco's recipe box. Filled with her handwritten recipes. Some her own and others from family members, like Aunt Ida's Zwiebock!