Monthly Archives: February 2010

Fête Accompli – the best way to eat your vegetables downtown

If you haven’t checked out Fête Accompli for lunch downtown, I suggest you get your act together and head over there as soon as possible. I am so glad that I caught on to this place. Never again will I put up with the crowds and spend the household budget of people in “developing” nations at the Whole Foods salad bar when I am craving vegetables but feeling indecisive in west downtown. This place is a vegetable lovers dream come true. Fête Accompli is right on 12th street one block east of Lamar by the Thundercloud. They really have something for everyone, the owner’s mother is a dietician so she has a lot of knowledge about creating food for people with special dietary needs, not just vegans.  But the vegan selection is incredible! The place is pretty tiny and mostly serves portions for take out and they do catering. They also have a couple tables and chairs inside and outside. When you first walk in you are greeted by a large deli case and a menu that has soups and sandwiches and usually a friendly person as well. There is also delicious fresh baked vegan bread. The deli case is filled with different kinds of salads. The first time I went the whole top level had different vegan items to choose from, maybe 7 in all. There are also different dessert items and lots of stuff packaged to go in the coolers on the side.

I think this would be a terrific place to stop in and get food for a meeting or to pick up dinner for the evening while you stop for lunch. Everyone who works there is really friendly and they all seem to be knowledgeable about what is and isn’t vegan (although watch out for honey). What I usually do is get the box lunch. For nine dollars you get to choose four items and you get a cookie. It is a lot of food. Last Friday I got a cranberry and wild rice salad, a freaking delicious Kale tahini salad, some roasted cauliflower that was some of the best cauliflower I can remember and a creamy noodle salad. Everything had so much flavor and texture that I was kind of overwhelmed. These people know there vegetables. I can’t even really compare it to other salad bars because the flavors are just on another level. The best part, if you are vegan, they will give you a chocolate peanut butter truffle since the cookie in the special has animal products. There aren’t many places that would give you an extra because of your restriction and that is why Fête Accompli has become one of my favorite lunch destinations in town. I mean chocolate + peanut butter = happiness for me even when it is only so-so. These truffles at Fête make me feel transcendent for hours after eating them.

Happiness, One Bite at a Time

What can I say, I love food and Fête Accompli does it exactly right for me.

New India Cuisine- Vegan Indian in the heart of South Austin

You know that you are about to have a good time when a place has friendly vegan friendly on the door! Not only are they going to have vegan food, but they are going to be so friendly about it that they mentioned it twice! A friend and I recently went to New India Cuisine and I am happy to report that I think it is going to make a fabulous addition to South Austin. The mission of New India is to serve Indian flavors in a kind of Texas packaging. They have burgers, wraps, and even quesadillas on the menu but the are all the Indian version of these items. They also have standard Indian foods that we would be lost without, like curry and naan. It is a tiny little place where you can order at the counter to eat there on the 10 or so tables or take for pick-up. They share the place with a new bakery but we were disappointed to find that the bakery did not have any vegan items. It seems like New India will be the perfect place to stop and get pick-up because it is situated in the shopping center on the south east corner of Congress and Oltorf and they have biodegradable containers and a dollar off if you pick up with your bike. The first thing I noticed when walking in was the huge chalk menu that also had a glossary for all the Indian terms. It is such a great idea to have the glossary for people new to Indian food and you can tell they are really trying to make it approachable to the burger crowd that they share the block with.  The menu is divided into sections, I really wanted to try the Veg Lollipops but it turns out that they are not vegan (damn you egg!) but since I could never have passed up the samosas anyway we tried them.They are called Puff  Samosas and once I got them I saw why! They really look different than regular samosas and they had a different texture than what I am used to. I was a little worried but they still tasted great. I think wrapping potatoes in dough and then deep-frying them is always going to be good eating for me! The two chutneys were both really good as well, I loved the tamarind one. It was sweet which is how I like it. We also tried the Roti Roll: the Mumbai Frankie. I didn’t know what to expect there but I thought for three dollars it was worth a shot. It turned out that Mumbai Frankies are vegetable wraps with peppers and maybe even zucchini and spices. We both really liked them, it could make the best small lunch deal in town too for the price!

Finally we split the vegan Thali which wasn’t easy to share but would have been a LOT of food for one person.The menu said it was a platter of legumes masala, spinach, chana masala, potato bhaji, veg curry, dal, papad, achar, banana dessert, sol curry with Chapatti. After trying to figure out with the menu what was what we got really confused and had the guy come over and he explained that every day they do it a little different and the menu isn’t necessarily what is going to be on the thali. I thought that was kind of exciting because I like to always try new things. If you do not, don’t worry because they did have the standard Chana Masala on the menu. I loved the lentil dish and the potato dish especially the spinach was also great but I wasn’t too keen on either dessert.

Overall it was a really good experience and I am so excited to have another place to get takeout in South Austin that won’t break the bank! Hooray for New India Cuisine!

The Polaco Taco

This recipe was an experiment that didn’t turn out perfect but I am going to try and develop a better Kielbasa. The texture was really great, lately I have been using lentils in the sausages and I think they work better than beans. I read about the Polaco taco right before super bowl Sunday and I became obsessed with the idea since I love non-traditional tacos.  I am not a big sauerkraut fan though so I thought I would go in a more traditional Polish route and make a surowka of shredded carrots, apples, and lemon. The salad was really delicious once I added some sugar but the fat sausage was a little overwhelming and had too much caraway, even though I used just a half a teaspoon. I will continue to work on it though so we can have polaco tacos in time for baseball season or basketball season or whatever else you Chicago sports fan are so into.

one long dog

I wish this picture had turned out better because it is one of the funniest ways I ever saw the dogs sleep. I had plans to make all sorts of fabulous food over the weekend but instead, Mr. Smurf ended up cooking for me. He said he would make whatever I wanted and for some reason I really wanted comfort food. Chickpea cutlets and mac daddy from the Veganomicon and broccoli were the name of the game with Oreos for dessert. It was very TV dinnerish which is exactly what I dreamed. I really want to find some TV dinner style trays that have the little compartments for when we eat like this. I love mac daddy, it is funny how there are so many different recipes for vegan mac and cheese and everyone has there favorite. I have tried so many and this one is my favorite!Hope ya’ll had a fabulous weekend!

Vegan Bangers & Mash

Once when I lived in  Olympia Washington we went 97 days without the sun. It rained every day. The local news would keep a very dramatic SUN WATCH and report the number of rainy days like we were approaching the apocalypse. People started to act a little weird. One guy stopped leaving the apartment building and even stopped changing out of his robe and slippers. I stopped sleeping at night because I was working on a  project and it was easier to get blocks of editing time in the wee hours which made everything seem even more out of whack. The whole experience made me really crave sunshine which partially lead to settling here in Austin TX where you can have 97 days of sun and 100 degree days.

People say that England is very similar to Washington and that the winter is cold and rainy all the time. I haven’t ever been there and I haven’t really had any English food, it all sounds either disgusting (blood pie) or really fun (bubble & squeak) but either way I never know what the hell they are talking about until I look it up. I decided to make bangers because I saw ideas for the spice mix on a sausage forum. I knew the bangers were sausage but what the hell was the mash? I guessed mashed potatoes but this is the country that calls fries chips and a cooter a fanny so who knows what other backward ideas they have. After looking at a lot of disgusting pictures I learned that bangers & mash is indeed sausage and mashed potatoes. It is pub grub so you are supposed to drink a pint alongside. It is so British that Radiohead has a song about it. Thom Yorke is vegan so maybe they are searching for recipes to recreate this dish right now! (Hi Thom Yorke I dig your music, please play Austin next time you are around so I don’t have to drive to Houston). I thought the recipe for the bangers was pretty awesome but I don’t know if it is authentic! I tweaked it a little and I think it turned out great. Mr. Smurf applauded after he finished! If you try it and you have had the non-vegan version let me know how they compare.Bangers (make about 8 sausages or 4 servings)

2 Cups of stock
2 Tablespoons of oil
4 Tablespoons of soy sauce
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon pepper
dash of cayenne
1 tsp salt (if there isn’t any in your stock)
1 Cup of pinto beans, mashed
2 1/2 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten
First, get a big pot of water boiling and set up your steaming apparatus. I use a bamboo steamer on top of a stock pot.  Then tear off 8 pieces of foil, about 8X11 inches or (30X20 centimeters). Next mix all the ingredients, except the Vital Wheat Gluten in a bowl. Once everything seems well incorporated mix in the Vital Wheat Gluten. It shouldn’t quite be a dough but if it isn’t holding together at all add a little more vital wheat gluten. Divide it into 8 pieces and roll each piece up like a tootsie roll in a sausage shape and steam for 45 minutes, rotating the top and bottom tiers.
In the meantime make mashed potatoes however you like them. I like roasted garlic, earth balance and hemp milk added to mine.

When the sausages are done steaming, unroll them and fry them in a little olive oil with garlic on the stove and serve them with the potatoes and a nice pint. Enjoy!

Suck it February OR Summer is almost here….

Right? Please!!!!!!!!!! I am so cold! Recent cooking has been a disaster. I have been eating a lot of Thundercloud (the bread is vegan now!) and Chinese takeout. I made soup that wasn’t very exciting.  Soup is usually my favorite thing and I have been making it since I was a kid. You can’t mess up soup, or so they say.  This winter has been slowly killing me. As I have surely moaned about in the past my house has little to no heat in the main room so when it is cold there is nothing to do but get in a pile with a bunch of beagles and hope for winter to end.

I thought I would take a journey to a time I can’t hardly even remember… summertime

Remember tomatoes when they are just ripe and pick them off the plant? They are still warm from being out in the sun and you pop them in your mouth and think about the perfection of life.

This tofu scramble was one of the best I ever made because the yellow tomatoes were perfectly fresh. What a difference a good tomato makes.

I made the pico to go alongside Panuchos last Cinco de Mayo. Remember eating outside and actually want to spend time outside and not just passing through it on the way from one destination to the next. I love eating outside when it is so hot that you can’t deal with even warming up a burner. These panuchos were stuffed with beans, fried and topped with marinated limes and chorizo.

Remember grilling and eating corn on the cob outside. 

I miss going to the farmer’s market and just picking out whatever looks good and making simple food like this pasta that used the beets and the greens. Sure the farmer’s market is open during the winter but how am I supposed to leave my house in a time like this? How do you people in Vermont do it? Over the weekend I went to a few bars because I had to get out to see foot patrol. We were on a mission to find a warm bar. Then I kept asking the bartenders if they had any hot drinks, like a hot toddy or something. 2 different bartenders told me that they would give me hot tap water! That is how lost people are in Austin when it comes to “warm-ups” we are all about the “cool downs” it broke into the 70s briefly last week and my friend and I ran off to Opal Divine’s happy hour to drink margaritas. I was so sure winter was over. I thought I would soon be enjoying michelada’s instead of eating dinner.

And Batido’s with brunchRemember waking up in the morning and it already being really bright out and you have more eggplants and okra than you know what to do withand spending the weekend at the swimmin’ hole

What do you miss the most about summer?