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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

FOOD FRIENDZ pt 2: Lunch Date!!!

If food brings friends together, Groupon brings friends together in fancy places.
Stella is another super awesome friend from work that I am always too stressed or scared or rushed at work to talk to which is a shame because she mad cool. G works more closely with her and is always telling me how much we have in common (like being totally fantastic and so, so pretty and like really smart and junk and liking Batman comics and rap and reading food blogs, etc.) so hopefully this is only the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
G also played a part in getting us together because that weirdo doesn't like Quintessence. I've been there enough at this point to say I really like Quintessence and thankfully Groupon has offers for them fairly regularly. So I bought one recently and took someone who would appreciate the meal. Not to mention it was another hot as Hades summer afternoon so raw food sounded perfect.
Stella is from Oakland and as soon as we sat down, said "I feel like I've been transported back to California." It IS really sweet inside the restaurant, maybe next time I'll get some interior pictures.
The server brought out complimentary shots of some refreshing apple and green juice with our menus to start. Since the Groupon was worth $40 worth of food, perhaps influenced by the freebie, I got a small green juice with a shot of ginger to go along with my meal:

Stella got the Gomen-ae appetizer: chilled kelp noodles with spinach in a sesame sauce. I think she liked it. I've never had kelp noodles but Stella is more adventurous than I am, so she apparently makes them a lot. Sometime I'll try em.

I am totally boring and got a salad. But a delicious salad! This was Quintessence's version of a Caesar salad.

Romaine, cucumber, tomato, and avocado in a pignoli-miso dressing. With olives and "caramelized" dehydrated onion. It was delicious. The onions were the best part - kinda crunchy and very um...pungent.
The only thing I didn't like about this trip to Quintessence was that the service was kind of slow. It's hard to tell how much time we can take on lunch when we have to get back to work, but G and I have come before on a lunch hour and made it back in time. Whatever, time flies when you're having fun. Anyway, it was a fun lunch out and I'm so happy to have another dining partner who I can have a good conversation with. Thank you, thank you Stella. Also we have to-be-determined plans to cook together! I love it! 
This lunch was meant to be part of a raw cleanse week but I already screwed that up. However, even off of one meal, I walked back to work feeling like I was floating. I was energized and happy and nourished and please let this be a reminder to me to eat better (and go back to Quintessence) (and have good friends.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer Lovin

Today was the coolest day we've had in a while (at 79 degrees...) and I'm so excited for the weather to start turning! However, I still have a lot of leftover photos from the summer to share that highlight the bounty of the season. Looking back:

                                               GF toast with Earth Balance and apricot jam
Courtesy of G, vegan hot dog (Tofu Pup) with ketchup, mustard, and a pickle. You have to do it at LEAST once a summer.
I sprouted lentils! Raw protein! Lookit them cute lil tails. Raw lentil salad with sprouts, yellow squash, carrots, chard, capers, and black pepper.
          Light coconut milk, 1 frozen banana, frozen mango, protein powder, spinach smoothie.
Baseball game with mom. She got a veggie dog, I got a pretzel and YES those are tomato slices on the side. I had to get some vegetables into the meal!! Also: great seats.

                                   New juice from Whole Foods. So nice I bought it twice.
                             more lentil sprouts. Here, in a salad with avocado and mushrooms.
                                                      blackberry season, hell f-in yeah.
                                                      Tamari almonds. Too easy to eat.
                                             Pepitas and raisins. Also very easy to eat.
Sometimes summer means you are out all night and wake up 10 minutes after you were supposed to leave for work. Hence, buying bars for breakfast with false promises of energy. But, hell, they taste good.
                                             Same rushed morning thingy, less money.
mostly raw tacos! These are warmed corn tortillas, but filled with sprouted lentils, chopped mushroom, yellow squash, tomato, onion and avocado. Topped with salsa verde.
Smoothie bowl: two frozen bananas blended with light coconut milk, protein powder, and spirulina. With blackberries.
                                                                  LIKE I SAID
                                           Summer walks in forests bring forth treasures.
                            Sometimes not leaving yr building because it is too hot happens too.
At least I am grateful I do not have long, black fur covering my entire body. Though, come Winter....

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mom's Vegan Dinner Party

Whoa, when I tried to write this post it took me a while to even find the button to write a new post. Has it been that long? I have been cooking a fair amount but on Monday I let my mother take over the vegan dinner duties.
She invited G and his parents to dinner and she came up with a wonderful, seasonal, mostly locally-sourced (!) all-vegan menu (her first [deliberately] all-vegan meal!) I didn't even really help, except to stir some quinoa, as I was running errands in the city all day. You've seen the celebrations G's family can throw. I think my mom stood her own.
Cicero and Seneca helped set the table:

Haha sorry if this was unsanitary.
G's parents arrived with some dolmas and hot peppers and G himself arrived with back-up olives. We put those out with some hummus (Greg, it was Athenos original,) and sliced bread. Plus wine and/or champagne for whoever wanted.
We then adjourned to eat.

I'm sorry I didn't get separate photos of each dish because everything was wonderful, BUT, clockwise from the top: grilled summer squash, quinoa with black beans, an awesome carrot salad with cilantro, apple, sesame oil, and sesame seeds, and a tomato and raw corn salad. So good, and so fresh. The tomatoes and corn were from the farmer's market, maybe the squash was too?
I may have mentioned this before, but G's dad is diabetic (though he will eat anything.) Not sure if my mother knew that but I think this was all appropriate for him. Also, note the protein without the presence of fake meat! Beans and ancient grains all the way. All really delicious.
For dessert, my mother made an apricot and blueberry fruit salad, also sourced from the farmer's market!

She poured a little almond extract on top and it was incredible. G kept giving me his blueberries (whatever, dude) which went perfectly with the extra dessert I brought - vegan brownies and carrot cake from local Ridgewood bakery, Rudy's.

The carrot cake is a new addition to Rudy's vegan offerings and I am SO happy it was there. I love, love carrot cake (there used to be a bakery across the street from Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx where I ran track meets in High School and to reward myself for the 5+ mile runs, I'd scarf a huge piece of carrot cake afterward...mmmmm) and both these offerings were fantastic. G was really happy with them. They aren't greasy or too sweet or anything.
G also brought along non-vegan chocolate-covered espresso beans, which probably went well with everything else.

All-important water between multiple glasses of really tasty wine.
So thanks, Ken and Gerri for coming over, thanks to my folks for hosting, thanks G for being wonderful, thanks Cicero and Seneca for not knocking over any wine glasses. Cheers to families and friends and vegan food.
Nice job, mom!! (N.B. She and I went to a Mets game the next night and she even ordered a vegan hot dog! However, she didn't like it. The quinoa was definitely a better choice than fake meat.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

NYC Vegan Tour: Chinatown

Chinatown! Fresh noodles, dried noodles, weird twirly vegetables, cheap tofu, fresh made soy milk, green tea, spices, and straight up old school New York as it ought to be.
I went with my friend Jon on a recent day off:

                                                                        Mott Street

                                                                  Acupuncture chart

 Lots of outdoor vendors. Bitter melon, Lychees, Durian (!)
Then we stopped at a large grocery store:

                                             Shen tips, Silk Squash, various choy leaves.

                          Daikon, Dragonfruit, crackers, Grass Jelly (???), Adzuki bean Daifuku

                                                      Looking uptown from downtown

Jon ate some soft tofu with honey drizzled all over it:

I had a fair amount of groceries at home already but I really wanted some fresh noodles. I also bought a Chinese eggplant.

And made this:
I put the noodles in a pot and let the water come to a boil. Then I turned it off and rinsed the noodles in cold water, drained them, and set them aside.
The eggplant was sliced and cooked in a pan with a little coconut oil, garlic, soy sauce, and a splash of water until it was pretty soft and I tossed in some mushrooms at the end for about 3 minutes. I sprinkled the vegetables with red pepper flakes and ume plum vinegar.
Spinach in a bowl, noodles on top, then vegetables and some cubed, uncooked tofu. I added some scallions on top and sesame seeds. After I took a couple bites, I wished I'd remembered to cook some ginger but whatever; I sprinkled powdered ginger on top and added sriracha.
So, yeah, Chinatown rules for special Asian ingredients and cheap vegetables. I did not take photos of any of the PLETHORA of dead animals in the windows or sad, live sea creatures crammed into tanks, but you've got to know they're there so be prepared for that if you visit.
Take the J to Bowery or Canal and wander.