00 (Double Zero)

A friend from the 4th Street Food Coop kept begging me to go to this restaurant right at the corner of E 4th Street, 00 (double zero). 00 does vegan and has option of gluten free pizza dough which is still hard to find. My friend is a foodie and a very good cook. So, I trusted him and finally I went taking 4 friends with me. The result is a mix bag. As you can see above, dishes look fantastic and staff were friendly and helpful. We ordered 3 gluten-free pizza, zucchini lasagna, tiramisu, and cheese cake accompanied by a bottle of white wine. Sadly we all agreed that the wine was most memorable among them all. I liked eggplant pizza best. Zucchini lasagna was nice and refreshing. Tiramisu was good, but it should not called tiramisu, cacao layered cake might be more appropriate. I know all vegan tiramisu get tough scrutiny due to the expectation of richness, sweetness and smoothness coming from the tiramisu cream made with real mascarpone.  Cacao layered cake might not be an exciting title, but if I knew that was what I ordered, I wouldn’t be disappointed. Cheesecake was not cream cheesy enough either. It should have been called almond coconut cream cake or something. The price tag was rather high, too. $40+/person and we all left the restaurant thinking about what else to eat for the night when we get home. It is a cute nice place, but my purse cannot allow me to go back there anytime soon. I was looking for a place where I can go every week.

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Vedge: the best vegan restaurant in Philly

I went to visit my childhood friend in Philadelphia. She was dying to take me to Vedge, the best vegan restaurant in Philly. Since none of her family members were vegan or vegetarian including herself, she didn’t have much chance to go there. Another friend of mine who lives in New York City cherished Vedge. She is not vegan, either. My verdict? Yes, I agree with them absolutely. I didn’t even have to visit other so called vegan restaurants in Philly. Another one, V Street, is created by the same chefs from Vedge any way. However since V Street has more ethnic influenced menus, I’m going to visit them next time when I’m in Philadelphia.

Everything I ate at Vedge was absolutely delicious. Their dishes are very creative and labor of love. You don’t want to cook them at home. Too much effort. Each dish requires multiple steps if they were not complicated. Vedge is a fancy tapas bar/restaurant. Each dish is small and bit too salty to eat by itself. But if you pair them up with a drink, it is fabulous. I can not drink! Too bad. I had to drink 3 glasses of water with this meal.

Vedge-appetisers

Our choice of appetizers at Vedge

Vedge appetizers: Salt Roasted Gold Beets with smoked tofu, capers, dill, avocado,”pastrami”; Asparagus in peapod dashi with yukon gold noodles; Nebrodini Mushrooms as “fazzoletti” basil, roasted tomato.

Dished we ordered were all delicious and quite creative. Asparagus was not what I expected though. I’m trying to pick one favorite among these, but I can’t. Mushroom noodles with grape roasted tomatoes was one of the best Italian appetizers that I ever tasted. But the best creativity reward goes to the Salt Roasted Gold Beets. The naming is not quite right, because beet is not the main in this dish. Smoked tofu and avocado had the equal impact.

Eggplant Brociole: smoked eggplant, italian salsa verde, cured olive

Eggplant Braciole: smoked eggplant, italian salsa verde, cured olive

This one was a home-run. It looks like a sausage, but it melts in your mouth! I was curious what else was in it because the description on the menu was not everything that I as tasting. It turned out that roasted cauliflower and tons of awesome olive oil were mixed in it. Over all, Vedge uses a lot of high quality olive oil. I mean a lot. My stomach had a slight bloating 10 minutes after I ate. My friend suggested that it was because we ate late. She could get us only a 9:30 p.m. reservation. The reservation on a Friday night was tough. At the last minute, they awarded us 9 o’clock reservation, but by the time our order was in, it was 9:30 p.m. any way. And I don’t remember how long it took for the first course to arrive. I ate after 9 p.m. for 2 weeks while I was in Spain and I was fine with it, so I doubt it was because of the lateness made my stomach bloat. I can not eat that much of oil at once, even if it’s a high quality olive oil.

Vedge-Miso Grilled Tofu

Miso Grilled Tofu: edamame puree, roasted miso, yuba crackling, sea bean

Very good, but compared to the eggplant, this was ordinary goodness. The miso dressing was special. We were all puzzled by sea beans. We asked about them. We googled them. We were still mystified by them.

Vedge-maitake

Sheared Maitake Mushroom: celery root fritter, smoked leek lemoulade

Maitake mushrooms are yummy just by quickly cooked with olive oil any way. So yes, once again, this was very good dish, but not in comparison to the eggplant dish.

Vedge-desserts

Dessert: Chocolate Bar and Sour Cherry Cheesecake

Chocolate Bar: elderflower caramel pecans, blackberry jam, lavender ice cream
Sour Cherry Cheesecake: moroccan mint pesto, halva ice cream, za’atar candied pistachios

Chocolate Bar is not gluten free, so that I could not taste it. I tasted the sour cherry cheesecake (minus crust) and the nut icecream. Creamy, sweet and tart, cold, lovely.

My boyfriend said that if they could do vegan desserts well, they are the top notch vegan restaurant. For me, I don’t expect them to do desserts well, but definitely if they can do a gluten free vegan dessert well, I will give them another star. Vedge has one gluten free dessert, but we opted out because when we saw sour cherry on the dessert menu, we had to have it.

 

Tough Choices for Vegana+sin Gluten in Barcelona, Spain

Alright. I knew it would be tough to be a vegan and gluten free in Spain. But Boy, YES, it was really really tough. There are plentiful beautiful vegetables and fruits at local vegetable stands, and they are not expensive. 2 big bundles of baby green asparagus was 3 euros. I walked onto an organic farmer’s market by Ave. del Paral-lel on the last day there. It was Saturday. There were a few green produce vendors and their produce was flying. There was a preserve shop where I really wanted to buy a jar of preserves, but couldn’t find the one I liked.

Yet, to find a pure vegetable dish in a restaurant was a mission impossible. The common vegetable dishes you can find in a restaurant there were potatoes and pimientos. Once at a tapas bar in a mercat, I saw green asparagus and I had them. They were fine, but 12.60 euros for 6 green asparaguses was ummm, a bit too much. Especially when you can have a complete meal with vine and dessert costs the same or less.

There are a handful of vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona, and most of their dishes are pretty good, but if you can’t eat gluten/eggs/cheese, well, then your choices would become half. Here are my favorite dishes that I had at Sésamo, one of the top 10 vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona.

Cauliflower Bomb at Sésamo

cauliflowerBomb

This was totally a cauliflower bomb. I forgot its real name. Roasted whole head of cauliflower with tahini sauce and pesto sauce drizzled over it. I didn’t think I could finish this only with another person, but of course I did.

Killer Desserts at Sésamo

deserts

Dark Chocolate Fondue with fresh fruits, Mango/avocado/chia seeds pudding, and chocolate caramel truffles. I know caramel is not vegan, but when I saw them, I had to try one. The pudding was good and interesting, but the dark chocolate fondue was absolutely my fave. I licked the glass.

Peacefood Cafe: a second chance works like a charm, sometimes.

Asian Green Salad

Asian Green Salad

When Peacefood Cafe first opened at University Pl and E 11th Street, I went in. Everything was white, clean looking, a bit like a college cafeteria. Since it was newly opened, all the waiters were very attentive and eager to please. The menu looked interesting and yummy, too. I was excited and happy about this new addition to the vegan community. But when the food came, although they all looked nice and tasty, it was not. They were all very plain. Steamed vegetables plain even roasted vegetables. And my seasonal roasted vegetables were under cooked and tasted like steamed vegetables with no seasoning. There was an exception, chickpea fries. We ordered it because our waiter told us we must. I thought they were little bit too much seasonings, but still interesting and good.

A friend of mine, another vegan food lover, eats here quite often. She said their baked goods are good, too. So, I thought I meant to give it a try one more time. This time, I ordered right. I wanted a Big nice interesting salad. This Asian Green fit the bill. Towards the end, I started feeling it was bit too salty because the greens were dressed and the tempeh was marinated in soy sauce. None the less, I was happy with this Big nice interesting salad and a few sticks of chickpea fries.

Ngam=my favorite neighborhood Thai restaurant

Pad See Ew

Pad See Ew

Papaya Pad Thai

Papaya Pad Thai

Papaya Salad

Papaya Salad

Pumpkin Red Curry

Pumpkin Red Curry

 

 

I saw Ngam opened. I saw many people going in. But I didn’t bother to going in by myself until a friend of mine who is mostly vegan and eats gluten-free and pretty picky about food said they are always very good. I already have found a couple of decent Thai restaurants in my nook. One of them is even vegetarian only. I’m glad to say she was right.

What special about this place is that they have a few interesting twists to classic dishes like papaya salad, Pad Thai or fried rice. My papaya salad was made with strawberries and kiwis. Papaya Pad Thai used strings of raw green papaya as noodles instead of flat rice noodles. Green Curry Fried Rice was unusually good, but I didn’t take a picture of it. Classic dishes like Pumpkin Red Curry and Pad See Ew were good, too. Another interesting dish I saw but haven’t tried yet is Zucchini Pad Thai. I assume strings of raw zucchini are used as noodles. Sauces are on a heavy side for all of above I tasted. Noodle dishes are on a smaller side, so that I hurriedly ordered a Chang Mai Fries. A mistake! They were huge, but paper thin sliced kobocha pumpkin and sweet potato dipped in a batter, and deeply deeply fried. M is used to having my oven roasted potato “fries” and these were not them. We couldn’t eat them.

When we go back there, and we will, we will stick to our favorites: Green Curry Fired Rice! and Papaya Pad Thai.

Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop

Pesto-Refic

Pesto-Refic

After

After

I wanted to go this small sandwich shop in LES. It’s close to home yet a little walk makes it a good neighborhood restaurant. Mine was Pesto-Refic (portobello mushroom, roasted red pepper, avocado instead of mozzarella, and pesto sauce, on a 7-grain baguette). A yummy filling sandwich, in fact, too much bread. I had to strip half of the bread out and ate the all inside. M’s Veggiest Of Team All (avocado, cucumber, sprouts, carrots, tomato, spinach, roasted red peppers, onions, and goddess dressing on 7-grain baguette) was good, but too plain. I gave him my pesto smothered bread top, then he could eat it. When I’m in a mood for a sandwich, I will come back here, although good looking servers’ hearts were not in it.

Bliss Cafe=1 of my fav when I’m in Williamsburg

Scrumbled Tofu@Bliss Cafe

Scrambled Tofu@Bliss Cafe

Tofu Club @Bliss Cafe

Tofu Club @Bliss Cafe

My tofu scrambled was so good. 🙂 Totally hit the spot. Curried scrambled tofu with shiitake mushrooms, carrots, kale, scallion, and wakame seaweed, I think. I started making curried tofu scrambled inspired by this dish and it has been successful. I will put my recipe here.

M’s Grilled Tofu Club was bit too plain. It could be really good, if the tofu was marinated first then grilled.

Yet over all, it was a nice addition to my favorite restaurants in my city.

My Tofu Scrambled

Ingredients: 1 firm tofu cake, 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, 1 small carrot, 3-4 kale leaves, 2 scallions, 1″ fresh turmeric, 1 Tbs curry powder, 1 Tbs worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste

  1. Drain tofu. Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in a cup of hot water. Cover with a plate. Let it sit.
  2. Shred a carrot and a turmeric into a big bowl. Chop scallions. Chop kale leaves.
  3. Cut off hard stems from soaked mushrooms. Chop.
  4. Sautée carrot, turmeric, scallions, and kale for a few minutes until they welt.
  5. Add mushrooms. Crumble tofu with your hand. Add them into the pan. Cook a few more minutes until tofu gets warm.
  6. Season with curry powder, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.