Monday 30 September 2013

Mac 'n Cheese Monday - On the road.

Because I'm totally obsessed with both pasta and anything vegan-cheesy I like to fit in as much mac 'n cheese as possible whilst travelling, here are some of my favourites.

This side of Creamy Mac n Cheese from Foodswings in Brooklyn was pretty perfect, I loved it and I was gutted that I couldn't finish the whole bowl!

Also a side, the mac 'n' cheese from Chicago Diner in, yup, you guessed it, Chicago, was also creamy and delicious - just the way I like it.

I'm realising now that I'm writing this that the majority of the mac's I've enjoyed are sides! Weird. This next one's from Veggie Grill who have locations in Seattle, Portland and all over California. This contained some unexpected chilli but makes it into the favourites list anyway because it was perfectly al dente thanks to the gluten free pasta and once I knew the chilli pieces were in there I could eat around 'em no worries.

This next one certainly didn't come from a restaurant but I did eat in on the road so it's in. The Amy's Dairy Free Rice Macaroni and Cheeze is made with Daiya and it's something I eat regularly when we're staying in hotels, motels or anywhere with a microwave. It's so delicious that I eat it whilst I'm travelling even though I can get it at home.

This side of mac no-cheese from Homegrown Smoker in Portland was one I wished was way, way bigger. It was perfectly creamy and smokey and next time I'll be getting an extra portion.

This next one only just scrapes its way onto the list on a technicality, it's not really just a mac 'n cheese and therefor shouldn't be judged as such. Buuuut the Mac & Cheese Burger from White Owl Social Club in Portland was one of the best things I've ever eaten so it's getting a special mention. 

Where are your favourite mac & cheeses hiding? You never know I just might travel somewhere to try them.

I can't believe this is that last Vegan MoFo post of 2013, I've loved taking part - I've learnt that blogging (and especially commenting) from the road is, um, challenging and, as always, I have a tonne of stuff bookmarked to read, make, and gain inspiration from throughout the year. Until next time MoFo's!

Sunday 29 September 2013

Five Fave's: Convenience Foods

I loved writing my list of favourite store cupboard essentials so I wrote another list! This time here's a list of my five (current) favourite convenience foods.

Vegusto. I love Vegusto's whole range of vegan meats and cheeses but the No-Moo Dezent has to be my absolute favourite. I love that it has a really strong flavour so you only have to use a small amount ontop of pasta or mixed into your baked beans whereas in the past I'd end up using about 1/3 of a block of Cheezly to get a similar flavour profile. My second favourite Vegusto cheese is the No-Moo Melty, it makes an epic grilled cheese especially if you use a panini press, toastie maker or cast iron skillet to make your sandwich. I often hear people complaining about the price of Vegusto but it's really not that bad especially when you consider a- how much nuts cost b- that Vegusto are a small company and c- that this is freaking delicious vegan cheese. They always have special deals on at vegan festivals so if you haven't had the chance to try it yet that's always a good time to pick up a block or three.

Amy's Daiya Mac & Cheese. I love this stuff! It's currently the only way to get your Daiya fix in the UK, it cooks in the microwave in under five minutes and it's super creamy and delicious. If there weren't about 600 calories in a frankly teeny-tiny portion I'd probably eat this every day. Tip - this mac's also amazing with some Taifun hot dogs mixed in!

Pop Chips. I love these crunchy, crispy popped potato chips. I rotate back and forth between Salt & Vinegar and Ready Salted because I can't pick a favourite. I also love that I can find 'em in both health food and mainstream stores.

Dove's Farm Cocoa Rice Cereal. I was pretty gutted when I found out that Coco Pops weren't vegan a few years ago, some kinda stupid d-vitamin change I believe, so when I discovered these I was over the moon. It's a pretty pricy cereal so it's not my go-to but it's definitely my favourite.

VBites Veggie Bacon. This stuff used to be branded as Redwoods but now the brand name is VBites to align with their Brighton based cafe. My dirty little secret has gotta be how much I used to love a bacon sarnie especially at breakfast time, luckily for me and the adorable little piggies these cruelty free rashers hit the spot and make an excellent butty.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Saturday Snoozeday: San Francisco edition

Saturday Snoozeday is all about breakfast so really I shoulda saved yesterday's epic room service post for today right?! It's okay though I still have breakfast pictures for ya, these are both from Herbivore in San Francisco.

Blueberry Pancakes with extra blueberries instead of caramelised banana, because, ew!

French Toast, sourdough with caramelised banana because that's how Nick rolls.

More deet's to come when I'm not frantically MoFoing on my phone whilst travelling!

Happy almost-end-of-MoFo everyone!

Friday 27 September 2013

Vegan in Vegas: Encore room service

After a suuuuper late night involving a whole lot of casino hopping and far too much alcohol Nick and I slept in way past lunch and ordered some classy room service for our first meal of the day.

Luckily whilst the food here was presented in a fancy schmancy way the food was anything but. We got a Gardein Chick'n Sandwich with fries and a pizza topped with Gardein chicken plus mushrooms on my half. 

The pizza was pretty great especially when you take into account that it's on a hotel room service menu! I would perhaps suggest they get some thicker boxes to keep the pizza even warmer on it's journey from the kitchen but honestly if that's the worst complaint I have I should probably STFU, the cheese was melty, the toppings were plentiful & it was a perfect hangover cure. We both enjoyed the burger but not as much as the Gardein cheese burger I blogged about yesterday - the fries were still impressively crispy though and it was by no means a bad ordering choice.

Other room service options at The Encore (and I assume The Wynn as I'd be surprised if there were different vegan room service menus at these sister hotels) include spinach & artichoke ravioli, nachos, tomato soup and kung pao chick'n. Their room service menu is available 24 hours a day & certainly contributed to my mad love for this super vegan friendly hotel. 

Thursday 26 September 2013

Vegan Vegas - Zoozacrackers

It's Thirsty Thursday today and as I'm in Vegas this totally fits in with my travel theme too - double win (or Wynn, haha!).

Last night we had dinner at Zoozacrackers which is a super casual dining spot at The Wynn. It's right by the Casino floor so we popped in for a quick meal before heading back out to the Craps table.

We both had the Wynn Burger with fries and a chocolate shake.

This signature Wynn burger combo was designed by Steve Wynn himself to be like a Mc D's cheeseburger & fries and I'd say him & his team of chefs got it spot on. The fries were plentiful and perfectly crispy and the burger itself was a delicious Gardein patty on a soft white bun with a slice of melty vegan cheese alongside the classic gherkin / onion / mustard / ketchup combo. 

What really surprised me about the meal was that I liked the milkshake! I have never, ever, liked a milkshake in my whole life! I always try a little sip when Nick gets one because I want to like them, I understand that not liking them makes me kinda weird, so I was both surprised and excited to discover upon sipping this shake that I didn't grimace & hand it back, I totally wanted more! It's apparently made with coconut based ice cream and it was super cold, really thick and not crazy sweet. It was SO great and I imagine that if you already enjoy milkshakes you'll really love this one.

When I planned my MoFo posts I never imagined that I would write a Thirsty Thursday post about a milkshake but crazy things happen in Vegas right?!

Wednesday 25 September 2013

WIAW- Vegas Edition

Hey! Welcome to this week's What I Ate Wednesday MoFo's!

We're still travelling and right now we're in Las Vegas! I wasn't entirely sure if I'd be into Vegas but I can confirm that I totally am!! Vegas is so fun!

We're staying at The Encore which is one of Steve Wynn's hotels, if ya don't know about this already it's pretty cool - Steve himself is (was?) vegan and now every restaurant in all of his hotels (two in Vegas & one in Macau) have vegan menus in addition to the regular menu. Rad right? Breakfast is included in our room rate so we've been taking advantage and having it delivered to our room each morning.

Today I had the pancakes...

...and Nick had the tofu scramble with spinach & soy cheese. This comes with sides of both potatoes & toast - he went for sourdough.

We also got a fruit salad and juices, one orange, one green, which we switched over after this pic was taken!

After a morning spent lounging by the pool lunchtime came and went and we found ourselves at Wazuzu, for a suuuuper late lunch.

The vegan menu here was one of the ones I was most excited about working my way through before we left and I certainly wasn't disappointed. This place serves some of the best dim sum I've ever eaten & I've been to Portland's Departure Lounge which was pretty special.

We started with the Jade Dumplings...

...and the Chick'n Shu Mai.

Both were exceptional, I adored the veggie stuffed green jade dumplings and we were super impressed at the chefs more out-there use of Gardein in the second dumplings.

As a sushi lover I just had to try the Vegan Crunch Roll.

My picture really doesn't do these beauties justice, stuffed with green beans, asparagus, avocado and nori this is probably the best sushi I've ever eaten. I adored the fancy flourishes, the crispy Japanese rice cracker topping and the two sweet sauces. I'll Defintely be going back for more.

This place even has dessert and whilst I hate (HATE!!) the description in the menu (Guilt Free Vegan Brownie Sundae, yuch.) it was freaking delicious.

Ice cream topped and covered in crispy rice and an epic caramel sauce this was the perfect end to a meal.

As this is Vegas it's 11pm and instead of enjoying dinner we've (um, I've, Nick doesn't drink) been subsisting on beer and the joy of winning...I'll have to add our probably 3am room service dinner to this post at a later date!

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Travel Tip Tuesday - Zagreb: Stores and More

This is the last of my Vegan MoFo 2013 Travel Tip Tuesday posts and today I'm continuing the virtual tour of Zagreb I began last week.

We were stoked to find that super vegan friendly health food store chain bio & bio had a location a short walk from the central apartment we'd rented for the week.

On our first visit we chatted to a vegan guy working there who not only pointed out everything vegan for us but also gave us a great tip about what turned out to be our favourite restaurant. On that visit I bought a few breakfast items - bread rolls, spreads, yoghurts as well as baked tofu for snacking, a delicious tofu sandwich, a cookie and a slice of cake. When we visited all of the cakes and sandwiches in the fridge were vegan.

We think that these cakes were made by the people at our favourite restaurant, Zrno, and I really enjoyed this slice which seemed to be made out of super thin layers of almost pancake like cake interspersed with agave sweetened chocolate mousse. It was delicious. 

This smoked seitan sandwich was another favourite of mine although I liked the smoked tofu salad one even more.

Croatioa is also a veritable gold mine for accidentally vegan sweet treats. We saw all three of these chocolates in stores all over the city, from the speciality places like Kras to the regular old corner store. The Bajadera were my favourites, they were so sweet and creamy that I'd imagine people could find it hard to believe that they're vegan!

Napolitanke are another accidentally vegan Croatian speciality and I particularly enjoyed the cherry flavour made by Koestlin. Also vegan are Kras brand Napolitanke in Lemon Orange, Nougat and Chocolate.

We were excited to see that just like in Western Europe Croatia have a wonderful selection of Alpro products including some that were totally new to us like these Speculoos desserts...

...and red fruit flavoured soya milk.

We were tipped off before our trip that Croatian bakery chain MLINAR have two accidentally vegan pastries, the Burek S Višnjama and the Burek S Jabukama. We picked up both and whilst the Burek S Višnjama was, as expected, cherry filled, the Burek S Jabukama which we had expected to be filled with apples was full of something that looked and apparently tasted like cheese curds. We're not sure if the recipe had changed or if the person working simply passed us the wrong burek. I thought the cherry was pretty great though, the pastry was definitely on the greasy side but I enjoyed it and I'd definitely eat it again.

Hand model credit to Melanie.

We also visited the vast and wonderfully colourful dolac market. Outside every stall was bursting with fruit and veg that the farmers had brought in from their farms that morning.

We also wandered the streets checking out the fantastic architecture...

...and squeezed in visits to great museums. We all enjoyed the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships...

...and I had a wonderful time at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and not just because I went on the slides four times whilst my travel companions sipped coffee like real adults after their slightly more sensible one go.

Zagreb also has many wonderful cafe bars and a great tradition of spending Sunday afternoons sitting outside them and people watching. I enjoyed many of these vegan friendly grapefruit radlers at our favourite spot, Kino Europa, and I hope to see them making an appearance in UK stores soon.

This was a wonderful trip, I love these ladies and I love Zagreb. I hope to go back one day and I would strongly recommend it to any vegans planning Eastern European travels.

Monday 23 September 2013

No Mac or Cheeze Monday

Hey y'all, I didn't eat any mac & cheese today buuuut I am in Vegas having an awesome time! Here are some pic's from my day so far...

See ya tomorrow!

Sunday 22 September 2013

Football Food Sunday

The niners lost but at least there were garlic fries.

Let's hope both the food & the game are better on Thursday!

Happy MoFoing peeps!

Saturday 21 September 2013

Saturday Snoozeday: Triple breakfast edition

It's Snoozeday Saturday you guys, I ate some pretty rad breakfasts this week so I'm gonna show you those!

Takeout pizza from DNA Lounge in San Francisco. This spot is 24 hour which means vegan pizza by the slice at any time of day. Even breakfast time. Yes!

Doughnuts! This beaut' was from Whole Foods and I ate it in the car as we drove down towards Santa Cruz.

Breakfasts shared with friends. Amey (from Vegan Eats & Treats!) met up with Nick & I one last time before we left Santa Cruz where we had an amazing time hanging out together - we went kayaking and ended up 10 feet away from a humpback whale which I think was one of the coolest experiences of all of our lives! We met up at The Bagrlry and I ordered a toasted onion bagel with herby Toffuti cream cheese & fresh tomatoes - I eat fresh tomatoes every chance I get when travelling because the ones in the UK are super hit or miss. Amey also brought muffins (from a place I forget the name of) and a huge bowl of delicious, fresh, sweet watermelon. She's so rad!

In other news it's mine & Nick's 9 year getting-together-aversary today!! I'm so excited - he's the best! We're going to Millenium for dinner so I'm extra stoked!

Friday 20 September 2013

Facsimile Friday - Portland Bowl at Canteen

Hey MoFo's! Welcome to the third Facsimile Friday in the series. I've already recreated Cafe Blossom's Benedict and the scramble from Bouldin Creek Cafe and today it's the turn of the Portland Bowl from Canteen in, yup, you guessed it, Portland.

I was lucky enough to try this just after Vida Vegan Con and it was the first thing I cooked up when I got home from my travels. The bowl is made up of quinoa, steamed kale, baked maple tempeh, nooch sauce, shredded carrots and chopped hazelnuts. 

For my recreation I cooked up some quinoa, steamed some kale, fried up some Tofurky Maple Bacon tempeh and used the noochy sauce from Appetite For Reduction.

My recreation was yummy but not quite as delicious as the version at Canteen, next time I'll make my own maple tempeh and probably use a higher fat cheesy sauce. I think I'm gonna need to go back to Portland for research purposes!

Thursday 19 September 2013

Thirsty Thursday - My Love Affair With Root Beer

Ah root beer, root beer gets a post all of its very own because we are in love. I first tried root beer by accident and it was not love at first taste. 

Nick and I were at DunWell Donuts in Brooklyn and I decided to order a soda, they all came on tap and had strange names so I had no idea what any of them were. For no particular reason I picked a sarsaparilla soda. At first I was unsure but slowly the drink grew on me and days later I found myself thinking about it. I turned to google, effectively the matchmaker in this burgeoning relationship, firstly to find out what on earth a sarsaparilla was and secondly to work out where and how we could meet again. 

Once I discovered that this mysterious ingredient was the main flavour in Root Beer I set about trying as many kinds as possible and our NYC to Chicago road trip was peppered with meetings like this one at Veggie Grill in Cambridge...

...this one on a bench in Salem...

...and this one at Evolution Cafe on our way out of Northampton.

I picked up many bottles and cans along the way, some micro brewed...

...some very definitely not.

Some accompanied cupcakes in Cleveland...

...and some were paired with pizza in Chicago.

I'm lucky enough to live around the corner from Cybercandy, a US import store, who sell Gale's root beer which is one of my favourites.

In Austin I tried a Root Beer Snow Cone which wasn't a winner in my eyes. Apparently I prefer my root beer chilled rather than frozen.

I did however offset this troubling experience with another root beer and all was well with the world again!

In Portland I was even lucky enough to try my first ever root beer float which, amidst the excitement, sadly went unphotographed. I am currently in Santa Cruz and I'm sure that there will be more root beers in the not too distant future.