Monthly Archives: October 2012

Austin VS Portland and Mister Fruit Cup

keepin’ it weird

Earlier this year on a hot (ha!) day in Portland OR I was eating ice cream with my friend Jason on Alberta and he mentioned that people are always comparing Portland to Austin. This comes up for me all the time, maybe just because I spend time in both places. Of course there are the obvious similarities; lots of food trucks, the keep ____ weird slogan, and the bearded young gentlemen milling about. In a lot of ways, though, I really don’t see it. Austin is really liberal…for Texas but Portland is one of the most liberal places I have ever been to. They have a citywide composting program and they pay people to recycle. I swear you won’t find a styrofoam cup in the city. We have the whole live music thing and our awesome movie theaters and the world’s best spring-filled swimming pools. But really I feel like the biggest difference is that Austin is swarming with people who are trying to live the healthy lifestyle. I don’t know if it’s because it’s so hot that you have to take your clothes off a lot or it it’s Lance Armstrong or the fact that Whole Foods comes from here but people are really, really in to wearing the tiniest, tightest, most florescently garish outfits and riding their bike around. I told this to Jason and he proposed that it was just my friends that were lazy. I don’t buy a word of it because although my friends are indeed lazy (that’s how we became so close) that whole time we were sitting on the curb having our little convo I didn’t see one jogger sweat on by. I didn’t see one stroller that looked like it was made for babies to be pushed in a marathon. I did see people loitering about and slowly riding bikes in regular earth-toned clothes.

I think that has really made a difference for the vegan food cultures in both cities. In Portland it seems like wherever you go you can always easily find buffalo tofu, chicken fried tempeh, corndogs, chocolate covered doughnuts, or waffles with vegan breakfast sausage. In Austin you are often stumbling past lots of oil-free organic local kale, raw food, juice stands, and freaking sprouts on your vegan tacos. Not that there isn’t tons of crossover, of course there is, we all love kombucha, but Austinites are obsessed with being healthy even though we are all going to die soon enough. 

A long intro to get to a little food cart on Barton Springs called Mister Fruit Cup. While fruit stands are common in Mexico and other Latin American countries, you don’t see them very much in the US, especially ones with vegan whipped cream and waffle cone crumbles. Mister Fruit cup even has a separate vegan menu even though it’s a fruit cup stand. It’s right by the hike and bike trail on Jesse with a few other vegan friendly food trucks. I tried some of my friend’s “traditional” cup and it was fantastic.pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, orange, cucumber, chili lime seasoning, lime juice, and coconut flakes. All the fruit was perfectly fresh and made me feel healthier just looking at it.

Even though it was really good, really perfect fruit, I still got the ice cream next door. Maybe I don’t belong here at all.

 

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Fancy Feast: Lenoir

A while back my friend Kristen told me about an idea she had where a group of vegans would storm Austin’s more elegant restaurants and see who could treat vegans the best. I thought it was a really great idea so as time went by I began to think about it as my idea and then I stole it. Whatever, she totally stole my idea that she would open an all vegan bakery walking distance from my office.

The premise is that once a month a small group calls ahead and lets them know we are coming and then sees what the chef could come up. Lenoir, like several other places we plan to go, is kind of a cheat because they already have a menu that can be vegan friendly unlike, say, Eddie V’s Edgewater Grill. A week before I wrote to Lenoir and I got a very kind response from Jessica telling me that Chef Todd would be happy to prepare us something. Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher are actually married and opened the restaurant together earlier this year. Todd used to be the chef de cuisine at Trio, the fancy downtown restaurant at the Four Seasons downtown and Jessica is a pastry chef. I had been to the restaurant a couple of times before in its previous incarnation of Somnio’s and I couldn’t believe how much they have done with the tiny cottage house. It was really dark when we were there so all my pictures are pretty terrible so I recommend you check out this review from the Austin Chronicle or the South Austin Foodie to see what it really looks like. The interior is beautiful and unique with white curtains everywhere, lots of soft lighting, and even a big communal wooden table in the middle.

Then menu is very simple, it is divided into four categories: field, sea, land, and dream (aka dessert). You can order three entrees from any category for the 35 dollar prix-fix meal though Nanette, who is a big fan of the restaurant, let us all know that usually all the vegan options are typically under “field” and not all of them are vegan. Since we’d called ahead of time Chef Todd put different components from different dishes together for us, and then came out and explained each one. We started with a beautiful radish cucumber salad with a black garlic dressing served on a coconut flat bread with chow chow hot sauce on the side.

I’m a big fan of black garlic and I really enjoyed the dressing, which was made with poached meyer lemons, over the thinly sliced vegetables. It was creamy and delicious and had that quality that I can’t really describe, where it hits every part of your palate at once. I didn’t care for the parsley on top because all the flavors went together really well and the parsley tended to overpower the vegetables but otherwise I enjoyed it. The coconut flatbread at the bottom really added a unique flavor and texture. Chef Todd told us that he doesn’t taste any of the entrées put together, he leaves that to his wife.

Next we were served a sweet potato dish with granola and an arugula sauce topped with kale chips and chilies. I really enjoyed the autumn flavors and I thought the kale chips were the perfect bit of crunch with the soft vegetables. I’m kind of surprised they aren’t more common and I am going to have to remember using them for garnish in my own cooking. The whole dish sounds kind of like hippie vegan food now that I think about it, granola, root vegetables, arugula, and kale chips all scream “I love the farmer’s market” but it was well composed. I learned that they do pick up most of their produce from the farmer’s market, Johnson’s backyard garden and the other local farms.

The next dish was what seemed like the tables favorite and definitely the most hearty course. Summer squash was wrapped around quinoa, and eggplant on a curry sauce with corn and pomegranate seeds and then topped with fried okra.

I couldn’t stop talking about the pomegranate seeds and the bit of pop they added to this dish. The fried okra was wonderful, as it always is, but especially in this non-breaded, non-greasy capacity. I loved that Chef Todd made sure we had a protein rich element in the meal because too often when you go to nice restaurants you just get pure vegetables and that is not filling enough for your average person. There is nothing worse than spending a hundred dollars on a meal and then having to grab a veggie burger or something on the way home because you are unsatisfied. I loved this dish, the curry was brilliant and the whole thing came together really well.

The whole meal we were kind of in suspense about whether our fourth entree would be dessert or not and we were pretty thrilled when they brought out and apple pie in filo dough with coconut sorbet. Yes please. Gracias a dios. Hvala bogu. Dessert is critical to a fancy feast and this one did not disappoint thanks to the pastry and ice cream. I was very happy with how the whole thing turned out. I want to thank Lenoir for taking such good care of us. I still haven’t decided where to go next month but if you want to read more about this trip please check out the other participants (aka my friends) and see what they thought. The Lonestar Plate, Rock ‘n’ Realty, and Muy Vegan.

Veganmofo: Sunday Brunch

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“Vegan Diner” biscuits & gravy, Good Seed Organic Italian sausage, garlicky greens, & blackberries.

I think that’s the best biscuits & gravy recipe I have tried. Totally worth the last minute trip to the store cause the dogs ate all the nooch.

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So today I got out of bed and went to weigh myself on the wii. It wouldn’t turn on cause I guess it’s broken now.

I was in a rush cause I was taking the dogs to the beagle brigade but I was all out of coffee so I went to look up a drive-thru Starbucks on the way but the Internet wasn’t working.

So I got the dogs in the car & went to the only Starbucks drive-thru I knew and waited in the long line for my soy latte. It wasn’t until I got to the dog park that I realized it was a dairy chai latte.

I got the times wrong so I missed the beagle brigade but the dogs were still super happy having a blast, until Willow twisted her ankle and I had to carry her out after 15 minutes.

Then I went back to Starbucks to get a replacement soy latte. They wanted to give me a gigantic one to apologize, but I said, no medium is fine. They gave me the gigantic one.

I put it in the cup holder…right on top of the dog leash…so when the dogs went to get out of the car coffee spilled all over the inside of the vehicle & on my bakesale flyers I was taking to the vegan potluck in the afternoon.

I got home and tried to get on the Internet company website with my phone but it wouldn’t work. I couldn’t login. So I had to call. My account was somehow all messed up with incorrect information (I’m not ryan!) so I had to sort it out.

So then I went to make the samosa stuffed baked potatoes from the veganomicon. A recipe that claims to take 20 minutes. An hour and a half later I put them in the oven. It did take a little extra time because I cut myself trying to hurry.

It was too late to go to the potluck.

I ate these samosas with my crippled dog and watched 30 Rock and that’s been my Saturday so far.

They were really tasty.

Bakesale for SARA animal sanctuary October 21

Last week I wrote about learning that SARA animal sanctuary is having some difficult times and since then I have been working on putting together a bakesale to hopefully raise some funds. My heart grew at least three sizes when Sugar Tooth Bakery, Happy Vegan Baker, Mr. Natural, Sugar Mama’s, Celeste’s Best, and Capital City Bakery signed on to donate baked goods. That’s almost every vegan friendly bakery in town! We still need a more help though. A lot of folks are going to be out of town at the Texas State Veggie Fair in Dallas over the weekend so if your waffling about weather or not you want to participate, stop it! I know you love dogs and animals and eating baked goods so let’s make this happen. You can sign on to bake or volunteer to help. Or if you aren’t in Austin you can donate to SARA directly. Also please invite your friends to the Facebook event and if you are an Austin blogger, I would love your help promoting the sale, the hardest part is getting people to actually come out.I‘m having a hard time deciding what to make, like always. For the worldwide vegan bakesale in the spring I made ice cream sandwiches with Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies and Banana Ice Cream. They went really fast but now it’s not really ice cream season.

would you eat me?

I also made chocolate TIEs and I think I might make those again too because nerds just can’t resist.

you cannot escape me

But then I was also kind of think I should do something more autumnal like Kittie’s Sweet Potato Hand Pies from Vegan Pie in the Sky or maybe a family recipe for Apple Strudel with Figs. There are so many recipes out there that would be great like, oh, everything on the PPKChai Spice SnickerdoodlesCherry Chocolate Chunk Mini Loaves, and Magical Coconut Bars all sound amazing. Then I always think I should make something gluten free because I love my GF friends and lots of folks always ask for them, I know Manifest Vegan and Cake Maker to the Stars both have tons of great recipes filling that niche. Then I was thinking about making corn empanadas because then everyone could eat them and savory stuff is always fun but then Dan told me he doesn’t like empanadas. WTF who doesn’t like empanadas?

What is your favorite thing to make for bakesales? Or what do you like to buy?

If you have the answer I like best I’ll send you one of whatever I make! Ha!