Monthly Archives: April 2014

Vegan Feasting in New Orleans

My sister decided to get married in New Orleans on April 19, 2014 and I have been excitedly planning the trip there for months. I’m sad it’s already over, we had danced until the sun came up. As usual I tried to pack in as much vegan cuisine as possible in between wedding obligations and my oh my, New Orleans did not disappoint! My first stop in planning was the amazing blog New Orleans in Green by Melissa Bastian who has categorized every vegan option in NOLA and even has a map! It’s like she’s my New Orleans blogging counterpart! She gave me a ton of recommendations as well based on where we were staying on Canal. We drove to New Orleans from Austin and ended up getting in after midnight so we headed out to a bar called 13 that serves food super late. When I opened my menu I couldn’t believe my eyes, they serve vegan chili totchos! It was super dark so I have terrible picks, but I had to show you because who knew totchos were something you could buy in the real world? It’s the ideal bar food imo.

I wanted to try the po’boy but I couldn’t resist the bahn mi which ended up being fabulous with crusty bread, fresh veggies, and vegan mayo.

From reading New Orleans in Green  Breads on Oak became my number-one can’t-miss spot so we headed uptown first thing in the morning. 

Although it isn’t even an all vegan bakery, they had more vegan options than just about any vegan bakery I have been too. I raced back and forth from one end of the bakery case to the other trying to decide what to order. Everyone working behind the counter was so nice even though I kept changing my order every five seconds.  In New Orleans you have to have cafe au lait so I started with that and a chocolate ganache tart and took it to their little back courtyard. It was just as rich and delicious as it looks.

We also sampled the cashew ricotta tomato pie which was so perfectly delicious. Everywhere I went in New Orleans had fantastic garden fresh tomatoes somehow. I don’t understand it all because we haven’t hit tomato season in Austin yet and we aren’t that far away. Where do you get your tomatoes New Orleans? I want them!  

The tart was incredibly delicious with it’s beautiful tomatoes, rich interior, and flaky crust but I have to say, the pumpkin cheddar breakfast sandwich was somehow even better. 

It didn’t look that exciting in the bakery case, but this was one of the best breakfast sandwiches I have ever had. The biscuit itself was kind of like a scone that could have been eaten it’s own but instead it was filled with marinated tomatoes, fresh greens, a perfectly seasoned tofu scramble, and some sausage too. Dare I say it was better than a breakfast taco? We also ordered some olive bread and peanut butter blondies to take back to the room and everything was perfect. I swore I would come back to Breads on Oak every day but there were still so many places to try! We tried to walk off our giant brunch by touring around the garden district and were so starstruck when we passed Neil deGrasse Tyson on the street on a guided tour!

Later I went to my sister’s bachelorette party which started at Bacchanal Wine which is a combination wine store and lounge with foodie type cocktails and dishes. I tried the Pinky Tuscadero which had Rose’, Orange Bitters, and Champagne.

They also veganized their fresh bucatini dish for me which had cauliflower, Swiss chard, sofrito, & breadcrumbs. It was a little spicy and totally delicious. I split it with my aunt who isn’t too keen on vegan food and she really loved it so it was a double win!

Later my Mom flew in to town and so we stopped at a little tropical influenced cafe called Carmo. Everything on the menu sounded fantastic so I asked the waiter for recommendations. He said their Japanese tofu dish was very special and so we all tried the Shio Koji (soft tofu fermented in fermented rice malt) with avocado stuffed with peanuts & an awesome tomato salad. The tofu was incredibly cheese-like because of all that fermentation and the avocado salad perfectly counterbalanced it since it was so bright and fresh.

I also tried the Acarajé – black-eyed pea fritters with vatapá (a cashew peanut coconut paste) because I love Brazilian food and it’s tough to find vegan. The fritters were crunchy and the paste inside was very unique. I could have eaten these all day too. We also had banana bread pudding for dessert which was incredible. 

The next day we were very excited to try New Orleans’ newest plant-based restaurant Seed

The inside was very eco-chic with reclaimed wood and a bright white interior. The menu was a combination of raw and comfort food and they do a separate terrific-sounding brunch. We started with the breads and spreads but they were out of so many of the spreads that I can’t remember what we ended up with. We liked the ranch style one the most but the hummus & carrot based ones were well done too.

I was feeling a little under the weather so I thought a bowl of gumbo might bring my voice back. It was good, but not as good as this recipe which is how I do it lately.

My partner got the Tofu Po’boy and I was jealous because it was so damned delicious with it’s golden chunks of fishy tofu, mayo, and crusty bread. I love that everywhere in New Orleans has good bread! I think it’s really rare here and I grew up eating homemade bread at almost every meal (along with every trip to church and every holiday). How did my mom do it?

We also ended up sharing (sorry Dan!) the Mac and Cheese which was thick and creamy without being heavy or greasy as mac & cheese can be.

I really wanted to try the beignets for dessert but there was no way I could eat anymore food at that point. We wandered around the french quarter meeting up with friends and family after that until it was time for the rehearsal.

Later that night we skipped out on the rehearsal dinner at a clam place and took a long walk through the quarter to Feeling’s Cafe. It was so dark that pictures weren’t happening but I highly recommend a trip to Feelings if you make it to New Orleans and book a table in their beautiful little courtyard. They have a special vegan menu so we started with the vegan boudin, which is a popular sausage throughout Cajun Country. At Feelings they wrapped the sausage in a corn husk and I wondered if they steamed it that way. I am curious to try that as a foil alternative. It was filled with tofu and shitake mushrooms and I thought it was savory and delicious.

I ordered the Potato and Tempeh patties and Dan had the creamy walnut pasta. The latter was nothing special but the potato tempeh patties were outstanding. Dan couldn’t stop himself from eating them so I ended up giving him a whole patty. Sacrifice.

They were served with zucchini ribbons dressed with sundried tomatoes and olives.

The next day was the Wedding Day and it started with a planned meeting at Cafe du Monde, again thanks to NOiG I found a vegan friendly stand right there in the French Market serving vegan blueberry pancakes and smoothies called Meals from the Heart. I loved this little place, the ladies who ran the counter learned everyone’s name and called you by it throughout the meal, it was such a sweet touch! They were so friendly and the pancakes were some of the best I’ve ever had. They even had real maple syrup and homemade vegan butter.

With my belly full of pancakes my sister and I sprinted through the French Quarter in search of a flower store that was no longer at the listed address as we prepared for the big event.

It was a whirlwind of activity getting ready for the wedding on the roof of the Ritz but everything went perfectly. It was so much fun. The next day everyone went to yet another seafood place but Dan and I headed uptown again to try some of the Vietnamese food that New Orleans is famous for. Jazmine Cafe was nice and cool and they had tons of fancy spring rolls filled with different things like seaweed or mango. I wanted to try them all and everything else on the menu but I stuck with a stir fry dish called Sweet Heat. If I lived in New Orleans this would be one of those places where it would be hard to sample all the items because I would just want to keep going back to this one. 

We headed back to the French Quarter to meet up with the family, and see the gay Easter parade.

Again I was so impressed with all the different street performers everywhere. I don’t know how Austin can call itself the Live Music Capital of the World when New Orleans exists! There are brass bands playing at all hours and everyone is dancing everywhere. It was so hard to leave, I can’t wait to go back. Next time I want to rent a little house on Air B&B since so many of the ones I saw included bikes and New Orleans seems extremely bike-able since it is so flat. There are so many places I still want to try. It was a fantastic trip.

Vegan Bake Sale for Austin Pet’s Alive this Sunday at Wheatsville South

It’s time again for this year’s Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale and out Austin contribution gets bigger and better every year!

me & Kristen at the Counter Culture sale last year

If you like you can still sign up to bake here  http://tinyurl.com/2014AustinWWVBS

But if you want to help the leaders of Austin’s no-kill movement and thousands of pets find forever homes the best way is to let everyone know about the sale this weekend! Share our Facebook event! Harass your friends! Dedicate songs to us on the radio! Whatever it takes!

We will be at Wheatsville South this Sunday April 27 from 11:30am – 3:00pm

There will be gluten-free, soy free and savory items at the sale. And maybe even some dog treats.

The most exciting part is that we will also have treats from Sugar Mama’s, Happy Vegan Bakery, Red Rabbit Bakery, Mr. NaturalPatticake CupcakeryUnity Vegan Kitchen, and of course Capital City Bakery.

Help us make this sale this best yet!

Snapshots from Texas VegFest 2014

I got to attend another marvelous Texas Vegfest and I tried to take some pictures, I was so distracted by all the food and people it was hard to stay focused!

The line for BBQ revolution was so long I would have needed a wider lens to capture it. Or at least, you know, stood farther away.

I really wanted to try Red Rabbit’Yellowbird Sauce Donuts, but alas they were sold out before I got there. Red Rabbit is only for people that get their act together early and that means I never get to have it.

Follow Your Heart was sampling grilled cheese with their pesto mayo, and man oh man, I’m glad I waited for a batch to come up because it was one of my favorite things I tried. 

I was excited to see Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant there, and so was Dan, he couldn’t resist their combo plate.

Counter Culture had a bunch of salads for sale, and they looked super fresh and tasty. 

I learned that Vegan Toonah is going to be available nationwide soon, in a little can just like fishy tuna. I tried it and thought it was very interesting. It didn’t really remind me of tuna but it wasn’t bad, just like seitan in a can.

I thought Tecolote Farm deserved the cutest booth award. I love their owl! I should have bought a shirt. I did get a Herbivore shirt that I love.

I waited in line FOREVER for Capital City’s Ham & Cheese Kolaches and then they sold out when I  was just about to the front. It was torture. I love those kolaches so much. 

I was stoked to try Hearty Vegan‘s fajitas and tuna salad. Dang, it was the best vegan tuna salad I’ve ever had! I loved it. The fajitas were good too! They were so popular that it looks like Hearty Vegan might start selling meal kits.

I was excited to see all my friends in booths, like the VRA gang!

I think I should have a booth next year called “Kiss the Puppy” and for a donation to charity you can kiss a puppy. I wonder if they would let me since it’s no dogs allowed. That’s even more reason there needs to be puppy love, though. Mostly during veg fest I missed our foster puppy.

I waited in another long line for Good Karma Kitchen, they are a food truck from Dallas and I loved their tacos last year so I knew it would be worth it. At the last minute I decided to get a deconstructed tamale with black-eyed pea relish and bloody mary salsa instead. It’s really a great idea for a home-cooked meal, maybe I’ll make my own version since god knows, I’m not going to Dallas.

I saw Teese selling vegan nachos and had to wonder why this isn’t a thing everywhere. Especially at the movie theater.

After that I saw the Happy Vegan Baker and I wanted to try her mac & cheese which everyone raves about and then decided to try the lentil shepherd’s pie too.

I loved the mac & cheese but that was when I definitely hit the upper limit of my stomach’s capacity, no Sweet Ritual for me! There were a million other food vendors, activist groups, charities, and businesses that I’m not even mentioning. If you haven’t been, you should definitive make it out next year. The music was really good too! Texas VegFest is just incredible, hats off to the organizers for pulling together another amazing fest. 

It’s Texas Vegfest Weekend

TxVegFestAustin- This is the weekend to go to Fiesta Gardens for Texas Vegfest and try all the best of what the vegan world has to offer. There are going to be people speaking about health, activism, professional fighting, and cooking plant based food including allergen free & even an instructor from the professional culinary arts program at The Natural Epicurean Academy.

There will be food vendors from all the different facets of the Austin vegan scene including, Indian, Ethiopian, Barbecue, Japanese, Tacos, Doughnuts, and cupcakes. Pretty much everything you could ever want to eat.

They will also have craft beer, live music, kids activities, and all sort of other stuff to do and see. And by the way, it’s free! (although there is a suggested donation.) Plus since it’s right on town lake you can ride your bike or even kayak there. And you can win stuff! And buy cool shit! And then eat more.

If you can’t wait, Friday night there is going to be a huge Austin Vegan Drinks pre-party at the Buzzmill complete with Vegan Nom Tacos, a hooping contest, ice cream, and vegan croissants!

So get your act together, find your best straw hat, and get ready to get ready to make this the best fest ever. If you want to read about last year’s event here’s my wrap up.