Friday, October 30, 2015

You Don't Know Jackfruit

Can I say "freaking" here, you know, in that way, without offending anyone too terribly much? I hope so, because I'm going to. I recently had lunch at The Happy Hooligans (formerly Happy Bamboo) in San Jose. This all-vegan sit-down-or-take-out restaurant is practically hidden in a strip mall on Branham and Ross, across from a big Safeway. But once you find it, the comfort food they advertise really delivers. In fact, you can also get your food delivered through at least a couple of services, including DoorDash.

After looking over the extensive menu, trying to narrow it down to the one thing that would make my vegan heart sing that day, I finally settled on the Jackfruit Carnitas Enchiladas. I was the only customer in sight when I walked in, just a little bit before noon, but tables started to fill up quickly, and the one adorable server kept up with grace and a smile that rivaled her shiny silver jewelry.


Before I go any further, I just want to cut to the chase and tell you that these enchiladas were... here it comes... freaking amazing.

Look! Are you feeling it? These were real enchiladas, willing and able to satisfy your Mexican food cravings in a way most other vegan enchiladas can only dream of. While I'm grateful that more and more places offer sort of "accidentally" vegan menu items, by simply leaving out the non-veg ingredients, I'm always ecstatic when I find a restaurant that dedicates itself to beautiful intentional vegan fare. That's what I found at The Happy Hooligans.


The tortillas were soft and fresh, the sauce rich with chile and spice and flavor, and the cheese was melty and creamy. But the superstar here was the jackfruit, marinated in an authentic carnitas style that tastes like the Mexican food I used to love in my pre-veg days.

I've mentioned before that I'm not the biggest fan of fake meats, although I do see a clear and expanding place for them in the world. I prefer minimally processed, expertly prepared foods. And jackfruit is one of those things that, when done right, is practically perfect in every way. It's just one thing, from one plant, but it absorbs the flavors in sauces and marinades beautifully, while still holding it's texture. Jackfruit knows who it is, and it plays well with others. I think we can all learn from that.


What could have made my lunch even better? Well, not much, honestly. The fluffy, richly-flavored rice was delicious mixed with a little bit of the avocado (a generous half an avo), some whole black beans, and a smidge of the enchilada sauce. (I'm a bite mixer.) I never once reached for the extra sauce bottles on the table, or for the salt. The only thing I did ask for was a side of salad dressing for the crisp lettuce-and-tomato "garnish" that was really a side salad in itself. (Their ranch dressing is fabulous.)

I'm hoping for one more visit to The Happy Hooligans before I go back to Portland. If not this trip, for sure next time, and on many visits to come, to try some of the Asian dishes (like the Pho, Pad Thai, and Lemongrass Chick'n), the salads, burgers, mac and cheese, and of course a dessert or two (hello, dear cheesecake). I have a feeling though, that I'll always wander back to my first love in this wonderfully inconspicuous vegan comfort food haven.


Until we meet again, I'll be dreaming of those freaking amazing enchiladas.

Update...
I did go back the next day, and I had another delightful meal. This time I ordered the Chick'n Curry, packed with vegetables and and swimming in thick, spicy yellow curry gravy that was splendid with the nutty brown rice served alongside.


The guy sitting at the table next to me went for some of the breakfast items that aren't on the regular menu, but are sometimes served on weekends. I hopped right up and said, Ooh! Can I take a picture of that? What was he going to say? No? Haha!


I didn't go so far as to ask him for a bite, but he told me that The Happy Hooligans is his favorite restaurant, and he eats there all the time. Good enough.

Then... I ordered dessert. To go. And to share...


I know some folks think of cinnamon rolls as a breakfast item, but not me. I prefer to save my delectable white flour and sugar bombs for later in the day, maybe with an afternoon coffee. And the cheesecake, even later, with a sip or two of wine, made my mouth very, very happy. I gave most of it to my dad, because he loves cheesecake. I wasn't sneaky. I told him it was vegan, half expecting him to take one bite and say something like, Well, it's not like your mom used to make...

But no! He ate the whole slice, and said, This is really good. If you didn't tell me, I'd never know it was vegan. How about that?


Finally, I knew I was going to need some travel food for my trip back to Portland, so I ordered a jackfruit burrito for the road. Oh yeah, I got it bad for the jackfruit.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Easy Meatless Monday Recipe - Spicy Vegan Sloppy Joes

Living in Portland, I don't cook as much as I used to. There's so much great, affordable vegan food here, and I have such a crummy little kitchen, I'm just not feeling the recipe-inventing love. However,  a lot of you ask me for easy vegan recipes to either help you get started on a plant-based path, or add variety to your already-vegan diet. I'm happy to help with that! A little research turns up hundreds of great, simple plant-based recipes. I know you don't have a lot of time to filter through all that, so I'll dig around for recipes that look like something I'd like to try in my minimal kitchen, and share them with you here. Hope it helps! Enjoy!

This recipe comes from FoodNetwork.com, and it looks like the perfect thing to toss together in a hurry, or to serve at a party. How about fancy little sliders instead of big ol' burgers? Looks like game day food to me!

Photo courtesy of FoodNetwork.com
Spicy Vegan Sloppy Joes

Ingredients:
cremini mushrooms
extra-virgin olive oil
large sweet onion
1 3/4 cups light beer (drink what's left in the bottle)
salt
chopped walnuts
green bell pepper
black pepper
chipotle chile powder
ketchup
tomato paste
whole grain hamburger buns
Shredded red cabbage or lettuce, pickled jalapeno and scallions, for serving, optional

Find the whole recipe at FoodNetwork.com

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Eating Vegan (Pizza!) in San Jose

If you've been with me for a while here, you know that I often come to my old home town of San Jose (yes, I do know the way), to visit family. I'm the only vegan in the clan, so I usually end up eating a lot of salad, as nobody else is interested in finding vegan places with me.

On my most recent visit, I called a few old friends together for lunch, one of them Paul Graham, who wrote the groundbreaking blog and book entitled, Eating Vegan In Vegas. Paul recently moved back to San Jose, after several years in Las Vegas, and has now turned his attention to finding all the great vegan food in the Bay Area, and sharing it on his new blog, Eating Vegan Around the Bay. Lucky me to have such a friend to be my personal vegan food guide when I'm in town!

Our little group of four high school pals met up at Plant Based Pizza, on Meridian and Willow in the Willow Glen area of San Jose. It just happens to be very close to my dad's house, and that makes me very happy. I now have a good vegan pizza place to zip over to any time the rest of the family is having... something else.

The location is small and inconspicuous, tucked in around the corner from busy Meridian Avenue, and across the street from a Starbucks. It's funky and hip on the inside, with a few tables, a counter to order at, and a couple of picnic tables outside. Nothing fancy to look at, but as I started asking around the neighborhood later, I found that they're making quite a name for themselves, and for good reason. The pizza is great. Not just passable-for-vegan-pizza, but, in my Pizza Queen Opinion (Rick and I once owned and operated a killer pizza shop in Seattle), far better than most mainstream pies out there.

Each table displayed one of these little signs, telling people who might not know, about some of the virtues of eating vegan food, even if it's just for one meal. This is the kind of positive food talk I favor.


We ordered three different "personal" pizzas, which were generously sized at 10 inches, plus a pesto "steak" sandwich that I didn't get a good picture of. But check out these little beauties! All of them were just super, with nice chewy crusts that deserve to be eaten all up, and Daiya* cheese to hold all the goodness together.

This is the Greek Style, with white sauce, spinach, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and olives. This one was on the gluten free crust, which was a good, real pizza crust, not a creepy sawdust cracker imposter. 
This is the Indian Style - a garam masala and curry delight that was totally delicious, although it could have been a lot spicier for some of us.
And saving the best for last, the Texan BBQ takes me happily back in time to a similar version we used to make in Seattle. This wonderful, alternatively flavored pizza features vegan chick'n that's been marinated in a zippy-sweet BBQ sauce, along with green onions and fresh cilantro. Maybe I liked it best because I ordered it. Or maybe I just have a knack for ordering the best!
Good pizza + good friends = a happy afternoon. Thank you, my friends, and thank you Plant Based Pizza!

~~~

* Most people pronounce "Daiya" wrong. Wanna be the smart kid? Here you go, from the Daiya website, because these things are important to me...

How do you pronounce Daiya?

We pronounce Daiya as “day-ah” as in “have a nice Daiya!” The name arose from a play on the words ‘dairy’ and ‘Dayaa’ which is Sanskrit for “loving, kindness, and compassion”.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Easy Meatless Monday Recipe - Sugar Snap Pea and Carrot Soba Noodles

Living in Portland, I don't cook as much as I used to. There's so much great, affordable vegan food here, and I have such a crummy little kitchen, I'm just not feeling the recipe-inventing love. However,  a lot of you ask me for easy vegan recipes to either help you get started on a plant-based path, or add variety to your already-vegan diet. I'm happy to help with that! A little research turns up hundreds of great, simple plant-based recipes. I know you don't have a lot of time to filter through all that, so I'll dig around for recipes that look like something I'd like to try in my minimal kitchen, and share them with you here. Hope it helps! Enjoy!


Pretty photo and recipe from CookieandKate.com. Thank you!
This looks just beautiful, and simple to make. I know it's fall, but this recipe holds onto summer just a little bit longer...

Sugar Snap Pea and Carrot Soba Noodles
from CookieandKate.com

Here's what's in it:

soba noodles
frozen organic edamame
sugar snap peas or snow peas
carrots
fresh cilantro
sesame seeds
Ginger-sesame sauce:
tamari or soy sauce
quality peanut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
lime, juiced
toasted sesame oil
agave nectar
white miso
freshly grated ginger
chili garlic sauce or sriracha

Look good? Find the whole recipe at CookieandKate.com!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Vtopia is the New Happy Place for Vegan Cheese Lovers

We. Love. Cheese.
And yes, vegans have pretty much had to do without (good) cheese up until just the last few years.


Things have changed though, and chefs have gotten more and more creative and skillful with their plant based cheese alchemy. There are lots of great vegan cheeses on the market now, as well as recipe books for the at home cheesemakers among us. I dabble in cheesemaking myself, but you know what? It's a lot of work, and really good cheese is not an instant thing.

As with dairy cheese, plant based cheese done well is a days (or weeks) long process that allows the cheese to culture and develop all that wonderful cheesy flavor that can't be faked with and amount of nooch, vinegar or lemon juice. So when someone comes along who does it really well, and is willing to sell it, I'm an automatic fan.

Welcome to Portland, Vtopia Cheese Shop and Deli! This new venture ("the 2nd all-vegan cheese shop in the country and the first in the PNW"), by the folks at Eugene, OR based Vtopian Artisan Cheeses is a vegan cheese-lover's dream come true. It's also a safe haven for anyone who can't eat dairy, whether they're vegan or not. There's not a drop of animal anything in the entire place, and everything is incredibly delicious.

I went to the grand opening a while back, and was dazzled by a long table filled with over 40 different types of vegan cheese, plus breads, crackers, and fruits to accompany them. I fell in love with every cheese I tasted, and wanted to sneak off into a corner to be alone with some of them. Yeah. Love.


I think the main focus of the shop right now is the large cheese display case, where there's always a great variety of cheeses ready to jump into your car and go home with you. The deli menu is small but growing, and I see great things for this cozy little place in Portland's Goose Hollow neighborhood, on Jefferson, near 17th.


If you have time, stick around and order a panini or other melty grilled sandwich. Rick and I have been back twice for lunch. The basic grilled cheese panini is wonderful, and the tempeh reuben is one of my favorite sandwiches ever, made with creamy, melty cheese, and delicious purple house-made sauerkraut on organic bread from New Seasons Market.


When you go, step inside and go straight to what I think of as the Vegan Dream Cheese Case. Peruse your options for take-home, and then look up above the opening to the kitchen and see what the food options for the day are. Order something. Anything. Then choose a nice table either inside, or out on the patio, next to a most amazing old bent tree. And if you have any questions, do ask. The friendly owners and their small staff are happy to chat and eager to please. Want a slice of tomato in that panini? Done deal!


And soon you'll be able to order an adult beverage to sip while you wait. I saw an application for a liquor license in the window. Wine and cheese? Oh, yes, please! Bring your skeptical non-vegan friends and share the cheesy love. They'll soon begin to understand that vegan cheese, actually is real cheese, and they'll stop thinking you live a sad and deprived existence. Cheers to that!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Easy Meatless Monday Recipe - Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew with Couscous

Living in Portland, I don't cook as much as I used to. There's so much great, affordable vegan food here, and I have such a crummy little kitchen, I'm just not feeling the recipe-inventing love. However,  a lot of you ask me for easy vegan recipes to either help you get started on a plant-based path, or add variety to your already-vegan diet. I'm happy to help with that! A little research turns up hundreds of great, simple plant-based recipes. I know you don't have a lot of time to filter through all that, so I'll dig around for recipes that look like something I'd like to try in my own itsy-bitsy kitchen, and share them with you here. Hope it helps! Enjoy!

Photo and recipe from Realsimple.com. Thanks!

Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew with Couscous
from RealSimple.com

Here's what's in it:

olive oil
onion
ground cumin
ground ginger
salt and black pepper
canned whole tomatoes
canned chickpeas
cauliflower
raisins
baby spinach
couscous (I'd substitute quinoa)

Look good? I think so, especially as I look outside on this foggy fall morning, and wonder what to make for dinner tonight. Find the whole recipe at RealSimple.com!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Portland's NW Ciderfest Serves up Vegan Brews and Benefits MDA

It takes more than a little rain to keep Portlanders away from a good time. And this weekend's NW Ciderfest is all set up for success, with enormous tents covering almost all of Pioneer Courthouse Square. Under those tents you'll find 30 "cideries," all eager to have you sample their tasty apple beverages, and plenty of cheerful tasters enjoying our beautiful fall weather.


The event benefits the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which is another good reason to attend. The MDA does so much good work. I have to admit to feeling a bit of nostalgia for the Jerry Lewis Telethons, but this new type of fundraising event is sure a lot of fun, and I think it will do well for them.

Rick and I were there to scope it out from a vegan perspective, and we weren't disappointed. As it turns out, cider, more specifically hard cider of the adult beverage variety, is almost always vegan! I did some research before I went, both on Barnivore.com, and by directly contacting some of the cideries. By this morning when I left the house, I was able to confirm that 21 of the 30 cideries at the event do indeed make vegan ciders. A couple of them also make non-vegan ciders, although I couldn't find anyone who could tell me what animal ingredients might be used. As always, it's best to ask before ordering if this matters to you a lot.

I have a feeling most of the companies I haven't heard back from yet will also assure me of their vegan-friendliness, but really, how many different ciders could I be expected to taste in one sitting? After a couple of hours I had reached my limit, and was glad we were walking home instead of driving.

Genuine not-leather purse by Tyler Rodan

Rick and I sampled 2 ciders each from 5 different makers, sharing sips so we could each try out all 10 (hiccup). The entire list of cider makers is on the Ciderfest website. We visited Swift (where I liked the Dank Hop), Woodchuck (the Pumpkin was subtle and good, the Fall Harvest was spicy and sweet. Mixed together they were delightful), Apple Hunter (loved the Lemon Hopper), Carlton Cyderworks (the Slake would be perfect on a hot summer day), and Apple Outlaw (who won our own Fave Of The Day Award with their Ginger Bite Cider). Everything we tasted was delicious, with lots of variety and levels of sweet, dry, fruity, spicy, hoppy, cidery goodness. And everything we tasted was vegan. Yes!

We also tried some of Ryan's Fresh Fruit Juices. These non-alcoholic apple juice blends were crisp and sweet and delicious. The Fuji Pom was a beautiful red color and tasted great. They also had a spicy seasonal blend that was warmed up. My personal favorite on a cool fall day!

There were just two food booths, one with wood fired pizza that couldn't be vegan, even without the cheese, because the crust had milk in it. Sigh... The owner was really nice though, and who knows, maybe when enough friendly vegans ask about his offerings, he might decide to make some adjustments. I know for sure that pizza crust does not need to have milk in it. Rick and I owned a very successful pizza shop in Seattle back in the day, and people were always telling us how they loved our crust so much they actually ate it all. No milk in it. That's saying something.

The other food option was Chop Chop Chicken Sundaes. I know. Long shot, right? But we were hungry, and we were drinking. We needed food. The nice man who helped us knew what we wanted, and steered us away from the gravy, cheese, and chicken, and loaded us up with extra veggies of our choice on a bed of rice. It was good! It would have been even better with some nice Gardein or Beyond Meat "chick'n," but people just don't know it yet. We need to keep asking. Nicely.


NW Ciderfest is a two day event, so you can still make it out there this evening, and again tomorrow. I'm keeping my wristband on, and my tasting cup handy. Maybe I'll see you there on Sunday!

Friday, October 9, 2015

This Weekend is NW Ciderfest!

NW Ciderfest is this weekend (Oct 10-11), rain or shine, at Pioneer Courthouse Square (aka Portland's Living Room). I'm going, I'm tasting, and I'm blogging about it. Most ciders (of the tasty adult variety) are vegan, so I'll have plenty to choose from. There will also be food, so I'll scope that out too.


Don't wait till next year to check out this fun event, benefitting the Muscular Dystrophy Association. What better way to spend some or all of your weekend than sampling tasty fall brews, and doing some good at the same time? I can't think of any. See you there!


Monday, October 5, 2015

Easiest Morning Miso Yet

Happy Meatless Monday! I usually share a dinner recipe here, but after my long weekend of late nights covering the vegan side of Portland Fashion Week (see previous posts), I'm really feeling the need for a green miso re-charge. Maybe you are too after a long weekend of your own!

I love green miso soup for breakfast, and have shared one recipe for it here before. In that one, everything goes in a blender cold, and is then heated in a saucepan on the stove. Since writing that version though, I've acquired my Barbie Dream Blender - a Vitamix - and making hot green morning miso has gotten ever so much easier. I have this almost every day and I never get tired of it. And of course you can make this cup of green goodness any time of day, and change up the vegetables and seasonings for variety.


Please keep in mind, you can't make it this way in a NutriBullet. Hot liquids in the Bullet are a Very Bad Idea. But the Vitamix not only can take the heat, it can heat cold liquids to steaming in just a few minutes. That's some fast spinning!




Vitamix Morning Miso
one serving

1 large handful of any kind of greens (I like pre-washed mixed greens)
6-8 baby carrots
2-4 mushrooms (white or crimini)
1-2 tablespoons miso
a pinch of wakame (sea vegetable)
2-3 walnut halves
tamari and hot sauce to taste
1 cup boiling water

Place everything in the Vitamix (or other high speed blender designed for use with hot liquids) and blend on highest speed for about one minute. Pour into a large mug and enjoy.





Wrapping Up Portland (Vegan) Fashion Week

My job is done here. Blogging up Portland Fashion Week from a vegan perspective has been fun and entertaining and exhausting, and something I'm really glad I did. I got so much from this whole amazing experience, aside from access to the shows, and gorgeous clothes to wear. I remembered how much fun it is to use clothes and accessories as a personal art form. I started paying more attention to how I walk. I discovered that I can fit into foreign territory more easily than I thought I could. I found encouraging connections between the vegan and maybe-someday-vegan worlds. And I met some really hard working, creative, wonderful people. Thanks for having me, PFW!

Tonight was the fourth and final night of this year's show, and I was joined once again by my fun, fabulous, fashionable friends Karena and Cristina.


The evening was filled with surprises, and featured accessories, which were too hard to photograph from my not-front-row seat tonight. Bow ties and gorgeous jewelry were terrific, but the entertainment really stole the runway...

video
video
video

And happy me, we had one last collection from Clayton Beck, who ends up being my favorite  all-around creative of the week. If he's never presented at Pecha Kucha, I really think he'd be a natural.


As for the vegan perspective of a sustainable, eco-friendly fashion show, I think there's a ton of potential, and I think maybe the producers now see a broader range of what can be done to expand on Portland Fashion Week's already impressive sustainability. Maybe I can help make that happen. For now, I just really need to rest up for a day or two. 

Thanks for riding along with me on this. I wonder what out of the ordinary assignment I'll come up with for myself next...? Till then, dress well, stand up straight, and wear cute shoes!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Portland Fashion Week - the Photographers

I just want to take a minute to give some love to all the real photographers at Portland Fashion Week. They were shy of my camera when I aimed it at them, but agreed to this little shot as long as they could hide behind their own cameras for the most part. They deserve a huge amount of credit for all the hours they're putting in, and the beautiful work they're doing. Blow them some kisses, check out their photos on the PFW Facebook page, and visit their websites. Every one of them is amazing.


PFW 2015 Photographers
Ashley Carter
Denise Ruttan
Dung Nguyen
Janice Lorentz
Jeff Wong
Karla Melgarejo
Katherine Elesser
Michael Helms
Nina Sage
Sarah Miles
Terri McKee
Abiel Hoff

Portland Fashion Week - Vegan at the Bar

Fashion shows can be thirsty work. I'm happy to report that some of the sponsors of Portland Fashion Week have made a visit to the bar a refreshing and creative little activity all its own. I've been fueling myself for the festivities with a fun concoction of vodka and Bai5 Bubbles, which is a "sparkling antioxidant infusion." I like the pineapple flavor. It's vegan, it's tasty, and it's good for me. Yes it is!


Cheers to fellow blogger Adara! And thanks Janice Lorentz Photography
I went shopping downtown before dressing up for Night 3. I wanted a pop-of-color purse that was cute, practical, and genuine not-leather. I looked all over, and almost giving up, wandered into DD's, which kind of made me cringe, but I felt drawn inside, so I went with it. Making my way through racks of ugly, cheap, mostly black purses, I sighed and said, Find me! And as I turned around, I'm pretty sure I saw a bright glowing light and heard angels singing. There it was. The perfect Italian Rosacci bag I could never have imagined. Crazy colorful, playful, big enough, but not too big, and it actually has fashion-y magazine article titles scattered all over it. Italian Fashion Week, When Fashion Meets Art, Breathtaking Views of Venice, Love at First Sight... And here's the kicker - maybe best of all, the tag says it's vegan-approved by PETA. Score! I grabbed it off the rack as if the man a few feet away, waiting for his wife to hurry up and finish please, was going to try to snap it out from under me. Mine! And all for $29!


Whatever else happens, it's official, there is certified vegan fashion at Portland Fashion Week. You're welcome, and I'm happy.

Now on with the show, which was my favorite so far. My friends and I were miraculously offered front row seats at the last minute. What fun! And what better pictures I was able to take!

Front row selfie. No idea who these guys are.

With my friend Karena, who just moved here from Taos. It's her first night out in Portland. What a welcome!
Cristina Melinte was along for more fun, looking fabulous as always, in her own design.
I wore a cute little Calvin Klein sweater dress I picked up at Ross for next to nothing.
11ยบ South Indonesian Batik Wear


Hannah Caroline Couture

Love it.


Fraulein Couture


Crochet. Wonderful.

The fur is for sure faux.

Betty Jean Couture

I covet this genuine not-fur coat.

Brides for a Cause


Clayton Beck - still my favorite


I know - feathers are not vegan. I got caught up in the moment.




Some of the beautiful boy models, Clayton Beck (second from left), and our fearless PFW leader, Tod Foulk (center)

Dancing our way back to the car after a magical, amazing night.
Tonight (Sunday) is the last night of the show. I'm told there will be surprises (!), and that we should not plan on being anywhere early Monday morning. No guesses, but I'm in! You can still get tickets. You know you want to.