Today I embark upon the first of many summer adventures. On this mix of business and leisure, I am heading far north to coastal Maine for an institute on humane education, a 4-day intensive workshop on IHE’s educational practice. I received a full scholarship for the course. I think because I wrote a great essay. I forget that I am a pretty damn good writer. Maybe because now my writing is mostly superlative-heavy brief descriptions of food… or mentor writing for my class of 10 year olds. It’s nice to see I can still make them swoon with my writing.
So, speaking of superlative-heavy brief descriptions of food, let’s start! Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge, Massachusetts was a perfect halfway stop. I came, created my own omelet, ate a slice of cake, and hit the road, Jack.
My omelet… with shredded Brussels sprouts, tempeh bacon and their housemade vegan cheese sauce. The omelet itself: great texture but seriously lacking some black salt. The innards: housemade vegan cheese sauce did nothing but moisten, Brussels rocked, and tempeh bacon–way to balsamic-y. But I was eating a vegan omelet and I liked that.
Lemon curd-filled coconut cake was just like diner cake! Yummy.
The bakery case was stocked with many-a vegan option.
After I filled up, I was read for a long drive for someone with nothing to think about. And a little aeroplane over the sea, two of the best roadtrip albums ever. And yes, c.d.s. These two gems are worth an iPod of 6,000 songs to skip through.
After learning of the dinner situation in Surry, Maine at the Institute’s grounds, I stopped in Bangor–at a Thai / Japanese / Vietnamese place called Zen. It was pretty good Asian for Bangor, Maine–a dusty, one horse town with day mayors a-plenty. I got the fresh spring rolls and an entree to make it worth the friendly waiter’s time. A bit too much lettuce but a welcome fresh bite.
My entree-the mango curry with tofu and a heart-shaped bed of rice. Aww.
And, finally, I arrived:My home for four days.
And did I mention vegan lunch is included each day… and that the sweet Zoe Weil gave us some delicious candied ginger ice cream. I think I’ll do just fine here.
Quality time with the cats… after they had quality time in the basement by the saw.
All-you-can-eat Indian lunches, in a strip mall.
The day-after cupcakes for breakfast.
Visits to a jaggedy smile-like skyline.
A lounge in the sun inside. [A shaven Fluffster recouping from her spay.]
Experimental stovetop [carrot top tamarind chick peas]…
after experimental purchases at the Indian grocer.
One pound of curry powder… “This product is a cooking ingredient.”
Backyard roaming, spying the Brussels spine.
Sticky rice without the mango, unfortunately.
Trips to the beach. Before trips to the beach grow annoying.
Stale holiday cookies be gone! I processed them to adorn the tops of cupcakes.
There were several peanut butters in the pantry. An oily natural kind you have to stir went into the cupcake batter. Used it all: check!
The I made peanut butter buttercream with the remnants of a chocolate peanut butter that rocked my world briefly… and a big glob of tahini, which I believe is sold in a size that is way too large for my occasional tahini purposes. Then I used some brown rice syrup, which has also been around too long. It was a great frosting. The tahini gave it more depth. Especially because I didn’t use much sugar knowing I’d be covering it in cookie crumbs.
Such a great end result! And these cupcakes helped me turnover 5 pantry items. I get some sick satisfaction from that equation.
On this frigid day I also cooked up some soul-warming curry. I used this easy recipe because I don’t want to buy a million things to make a curry during pantry turnover time. I had a peeled ginger root in the freezer which I grated in. After wasting too much ginger, I heard this tip from some tv chef. Makes adding ginger on the fly much easier.
After adding the veggies to my curry, I roasted the rest of them, knowing full well that they’d leave the fridge faster if they were ready to go. And because I love roasted veggies. I can never go raw.
Sweet To Lick Vegan Bakery in Williston Park was 11 days old when I visited. The fresh space has been a bakery for many years… but now it is home to Long Island’s first all-vegan bakery.Baker and owner Michael had a delicious spread for us, as I expected. I have been a fan since coming across the treats at a Long Island Growers Market (see here)… but a storefront, open 7 days a week, 20 minutes from my house? Oh yeah. This is an exciting development for Long Island. Who wants to split a Campfire Cake?
I went for a childhood favorite, veganized. He nailed it. The draped chocolate coating, the slight tang of the super sweet cream, the porous chocolate cake with the casual feel… It all felt just like the Yodel!
It even had that slight brick red shade. I want a box of these… every week.
I also got the chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake, topped with their perfect chocolate chip cookie. I was happy to have more of that thick, cream cheese-y sweet vanilla frosting. I am beyond excited that Sweet To Lick is open. To channel my enthusiasm, I have booked a Vegan Long Island Meet-up event.
For lunch we traveled to an unlikely spot to savor cuisine from Ghana, Africa… Deer Park, NY. We dined at Taste of Africa for a vegan-friendly meal. Not knowing what we wanted, the very friendly counterlady gave us a tasting plate of all the vegetarian dishes that were available! Curried veggies, a cabbage slaw, rice and beans, a spicy rice, a spinach side made creamy with a ground seed, black-eyed peas and a plantain. It was hearty and savory, the perfect balance of tastes after our sweet, sweet breakfast at the bakery.
Portions were really big on and I could barely eat half my meal. Luckily this fantastic gingerade kick-started digestion. This potent punch of ginger was very well-received. No wimpy dose of ginger here. The best level of ginger causes a tingling sensation in the uvula.
I’m very delighted to discover even more great vegan offerings near my home. Let’s keep working at this vegan thing, Long Island.
This simple breakfast gave me the strength I needed to see the rest of the sites in Bacharach and then head north on the Rhine river. Some wheat Wasa’s covered in strawberry jam. They even had this Wasa-dispenser. Its bottom slides open to reveal a waiting Wasa. I want one.
Foraging berries next to the castle, piling them neatly in my mud-smeared cloak. Ok, that’s not what really happened but I was thinking about it. This is Stahleck Castle, the view my reward for an invigorating, heart-thumping clime uphill.
The view from the river. Goodbye, Bacharach. I’ll miss you.
I’m off to Köln (or Cologne for you Americans) by way of river boat than train.
The ride along the river was filled with beautiful sites to see. Take a look:
I”m truly castle-d out. I left the river boat at Boppard and bid farewell to cobblestone. I would ride the rails to Köln, get some vegan eats, gape at the tremendous cathedral like a proper tourist, then continue upward tomorrow. Köln still had some medieval sights lurking about but was, for the most part, a proper city… with character and pace and vegan offerings…
Like Well Being, an all-vegan restaurant featuring familiar Asian specialties.
I had to try Asian in Germany. I was delighted that these familiar dishes were flavorful and fresh, topped with fresh herbs to boot. Here are my Bánh Cuốn, rice pancake filled with vegetables, veggie fish and sweet and sour sauce.
For dins: Curry Saigon, a delicious creamy coconut milk curry ocean with islands of organic tofu, sweet potatoes, organic pumpkin. Very satisfying!
Afterwards, though stuffed, I needed to hit all-vegan coffee bar for something sweet. Signor Verde is an adorable stop right outside the city’s southern train station. There are v-bombs a-plenty inside, which makes me want to take pictures.
I got a simple vanilla cone. After all, I was stuffed. I wish I had separate stomaches for dinner and dessert.
Tomorrow I will make it to that cathedral. I’m beat and need my rest. Thanks for checking in.
With a name like Flax, a vegan can presume she’s going to get a good meal. And that is certainly what happened at Flax, the hip all-vegan eatery in beautiful Dresden’s new side of the city– or Dresden-Neustadt.
Driving through the streets of Dresden-Neustadt, we were struck with a different side of Germany. The country that had been neat and tidy–fastidious–was littered with graffiti commentary on its nestled apartment buildings’ walls. An occasional box of free goods sat outside buildings’ doors. Then I saw hipsters. It was like some parts of Brooklyn, sort of. A vegan eatery seemed appropriately placed here, on the new side of town.
After the difficult task of finding parking on the street (just like Brooklyn), we sat down for our lunch. It was a long drive here from Kemnath and a kind and helpful waitress was well-appreciated. She was able to give us an English version of the menu and translated the specials. Then she gave us a complimentary bread plate with a very tasty sun-dried tomato and sunflower seed spread.
American indierock played through the restaurant, matching the posters framed on the wall–The Tindersticks, The Black Keys. It was nice to hear. I drank a refreshing German-made Lipz rhubarb sparkling soda anticipating the arrival of the food.
I ordered savory pancakes with delicious curried vegetables and a side of potatoes and greens drenched in a zesty and creamy sauce I couldn’t place. The presentation was fun and colorful. Having not had a hot vegan meal the previous day, relying only on snacks and packaged foods, I devoured this flavorful plate quickly.
My friend’s plate was just as beautiful, a hearty flax burger with two types of pesto in between glorious wedges of potato. The restaurant also had a good selection of vegan ice creams but we wanted to get to the other side of the city. Dark storm clouds were rolling in–and there was much to see.
On the other side of the Elbe River is the old city, whose ornate Baroque architecture made it the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. Here is a shot of us crossing the river and approaching the majestic historical buildings. Below are some of the sights that had me mouth ajar and my finger on the shutter.
The Semperoper, an opera house built in 1841–destroyed once in a fire and then again during World War II.
The Katholische Hofkirche, or the The Catholic Church of the Royal Court of Saxony, whose roof is lines with 78 life-size statues of saints. The statues were meant to usher in passers-by into the church.
The spectacular grounds of Zwinger–a Rococo-style palace also destroyed in World War II. There has been a lot of restoration done to the statues surrounding the palace. Inside the palace is a museum.
The gorgeous grounds of Zwinger.
Dresden Castle, built in 1200 but later extended by royals who took residence there during the reign of the Kings of Saxony.
The Fürstenzug, or the Procession of Princes–a mural that depicts the rulers of Saxony.
We had explored most of the histotical sights when a thuderstorm arrived in the area. After such beauty and rich history, I was excited to visit the Lebowski Bar, as in The Dude or El Duderino–a bar dedicated to the Big Lewbowski here in Dresden, Germany. Unfortunately it was Sunday and the bar was closed early. We sat and watched the rain dipping on a glass of wine at a neighboring bar before making our way to dinner.
Dinner was at BrennNessel, a vegetarian eatery back in the Old City.
They have a separate English menu and a separate vegan menu, but not a separate English vegan menu.
I got the gnocchi with arugula, pine nuts and tomato, a delicate hearty bite of deliciousness. Thank you, Dresden, for delicious meals and astonishing views.
Day 4 in Germany was designated a relax day. I am not staying at a hotel, after all. I am invading a family. Laundry must be done, food shopping, etc. Today I spent the day the day hanging about Kemnath. Starting with a walk to the recycling bin. This is the view from the babbling brook on the way. See those orange roofs? That is my home for 10 more days.
Bugs here seem to be different. I caught these two zany blue dragon flies fluttering about the brook close to the house.
This town is very quiet and isolated. Here is the view behind the town square.
Bright wild flowers grow about, creating a cheerful bouquet against the neat and tidy German backdrop.
We took a quick hike to Bayrueth, the nearest larger city, to food shop and stop for a bite to eat. We stopped at Kraftraum, a hip cafe with and extensive menu of omni delights. Luckily they had English menus so I could ascertain what vegan option was the best. I chose the Bruce Lee, a salad with tofu, quinoa, mushroom, sesame seed, and soy sauce on top of greens. It was the freshness I needed. Along with the fresh-pressed orange juice–so invigorating.
A shot of the cafe from afar.
We went food shopping at Bio Bio so we could cook–and not spend as many euros. From the top left: Nagel barbecue vegan cheese, vegan cream cheese from Soyana , Wheaty (“The Vegan Way”) vegetarian sausage, curry tofu cutlets from the all-vegan Taifun, Heirler vegan cold cuts, and Calendula Naturkost veggie burgers. Sure, this is all packaged goods–but with GMO’s banned in Germany and none of these brands being related to American big food companies, I’ll give them a try. Seeing vegan products here is exciting! But translating the ingredients was a bit time consuming. But look at all those different helpful vegan markings!
Naiobe, a doggy that thinks it’s a cat. She’s a sweet girl but she makes me miss my buddies at home.
The delicious dinner my host whipped me up: Curry tofu on wheat noodles with sauteed vegetables and cilantro. It was so yummy, much in thanks to the curry sauce she made with coconut milk to cook the already curry-flavored tofu! The plan was I was to do some baking after dinner, however the neighboring children and their young Army parents congregated for raucous social interaction. It is a fascinating world here–a cross-section of cultures, ages and backgrounds tied together by their service. But this evening’s mission, thankfully, was just to let loose and have fun. Goodnight!
Paneer is an Indian cheese. Palak Paneer is the spinach and cheese dish I’ve long noticed on Indian menus. I was so excited to see that the amazing blog Olives For Dinner veganized it.
Pressing tofu is step one. I opted for the TofuXpress then a nice press with some paper towels. This is the safest bet in this 3-cat household… the kitchen towel shelf is a cat nap hot spot. Paper towels it is!
“Culturing” coconut milk gives cubed tofu a cheese-like bite. Tofu marinades for a couple of hours.
Fennel seed, garam masala, and curry powder.
Time to make a paste. Onion, ginger and garlic packs the punch.
Big jump here. Everything is simmering together. Looking good!
Delicious Palak Paneer!
Healthy Nibbles, on Flatbush & Prospect Place, is a cute conter sandwich and juice spot that’s kind of awkwardly connected to a frame shop.
I ordered their I Have Peace, or their vegan curry chicken sandwich made of tofu, vegan mayo, raisins & curry with shredded carrots & mixed greens on toasted breaded. It was a tasty sammy and I appreciated its yummy simplicity.
This curried tofu rocked my world and made my fingers yellow.
They also have housemade vegan baked goodies. Since I was with cold, I forgoed the excess sugary treat. Next time.
Deep-fried wontons with coconut filling.
Tarot steak. All hail the starch!
Brooklyn Crepe & Juice, on 5th avenue in Park Slope, has vegan crepes. And they’re real, real good.You can create your own from their vegetable spread… and they also have the vegan cheese stuff.
I got this adorable new Bento lunch system that appeals to space efficiency as well as my wish to cut portions. This first week it is filled with a scrumptious Panang curry, seeded sticky rice and dried Mission figs. The curry is everything you want in a curry: lots of heat (garlic, shallots and grated ginger, as well as chili paste), lots of creamy (peanut butter, coconut milk and soft, supple tofu) and some sweet (brown sugar and crimson raisins). Here’s hoping for a quick and tasty week!
With the day off, the list of to-do’s was long and scroll-like, starting with two classes at the gym. I did the pilates stretch and alignment class. Given the early morning hour and Park avenue address, it was me and a studio filled with lively blossomed senior ladies. The instructor played Sinatra and lead us into the Rockette-style formation as we tipped our pilates rings like top hats. It was the best class I’ve ever been to! After, a b-line to Best Buy on 23rd street who had my beloved SLR for the past week for a preventative maintenance tune-up, to Trader Joe’s for lunch fixings for the week and back to Brooklyn, picking up my laundry and finally whipping up breakfast. I made use of the stale ciabatta rolls I picked up over the weekend, dredging them in VwaV‘s Fronch Toast mixture. In the enthusiasm of finally having my camera, as well as daylight in the kitchen, here is the step-by-step.
My kitty Frankenstein relished my daytime presence, reclining in my lap whilst I finally downloaded Easybeats’s Friday On My Mind on my iTunes. This is the half-way point: a breather. There’s much more Monday to do.
Ok, lunch time. Time to help the 2011 January Pantry Turnover. Time to get rid of the bizarre can of vegetarian duck from the Asian grocery store. Packed with a ton of sodium, I went easy on the salt with a heavily spiced curry. Minced ginger, garlic and onion set the stage for teaspoons galore of cumin, cayenne, garam masala and curry powder.
What do you do with a scoop of Millers Bran? You sneak it into chocolate chip cookies, that’s what! I cut the 2 cups of flour like this: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 whole wheat flour, 1/4 bran; and I cut the sugar like this: 1/2 granulated sugar and 1/2 cup raw cane sugar. Also, before measuring out thick, flowing molasses in your little teaspoon, coat it in canola oil. That’s a tip.
After making it to my dinner destination the night before, the day following my birthday was a bit more open. I wanted to wander a bit, remove myself from the track of routine set destination. But I knew I had to get good coffee and a baked good before exposing myself to the pace and rhythm of the Catskills. I started the day at Alternative Baker in Rosendale, a quaint little town 20 minutes or so from my motel in New Paltz. They had several vegan muffin options available but I opted for the strawberry-lemon. Looking out the lace curtains to the waking town before me, Rosendale seemed an idyllic small town. With its independent movie house, its tiny little recording studios, The New York Times on the bakery table and a lack of Paladino for Governor signage, I understood the allure of upstate New York. I was content as the resident pooch sniffing my boots under the table… and the muffin was moist and delicately delicious.
But I had to make the most of the morning if I wanted to make in back to the city in time to share dinner and drinks with my people. I needed to see fall’s foliage. It was one of the main reasons I opted to day trip north. And the region’s deciduous trees were wearing their finest peak colors and would soon be losing leaves. It is the deciduous trees of the temperate forest that trumps all other climate zones. Having an autumn birthday, I have always associated the colorful fall–trick or treat weather–with excitement. Below are some of my best shots, delivering us from Rosendale to New Paltz and into Woodstock for lunch.
Ah, lunch at Garden Cafe in Woodstock. This is one of my absolute favorite restaurants. Everything is always spot on: flavorful, fresh, thoughtful. Even a simple tofu sandwich is transformed into magic with a delicious curry base, sliced mango, caramelized onion and red pepper pressed into a scrumptious panino with amazing texture and taste. Even the side of greens is absolutely delish!
Time to head home!
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