The Blue Cat Cafe a cat cafe to pet and play with rescued adoptable cats while also enjoying good food, music, art, and fun events!
Still reeling from the closure of Veggie Heaven I searched the internet looking for another place where I could find cheap noodles with tofu and vegetables for lunch. I don’t know why this is so hard to find in central Austin, really. I had heard a rumor that a new vegetarian place opened up in Veggie Heaven’s spot but instead it looks like it’s going to become a vintage t-shirt store. Because that’s what we need more of…T-shirts. Then I tried to go to the Eastside King at the Hole in the Wall but there was no way I was going to find parking around there in the middle of a Thursday, although the Arby’s next door had a billion spots open.
I did not consider making it an Arby’s night.
Instead I drove aimlessly until I remembered Zen Japanese, it had been long enough since I’d been there that I had forgotten how boring and overpriced their food is. For over twice as much as Veggie Heaven you get a bowl with tons of noodles, mushy tofu, a minuscule amount of vegetables, and a sauce so bland you have to make your own out of the condiments. I think this time I chose the spicy Szechuan. Maybe it would have been spicy to a five year old and perhaps that is who this plate was intended for. And why don’t people research how to cook tofu before putting it on a menu? You it’s just a google search away to learn that you have to freaking press it.
After I finished I immediately started craving what I really had wanted from Zen. A multitude of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, roasty toasty tofu with some actual flavor, some crunch, and a well balanced, comfortingly spicy peanut sauce and so I looked up some recipes. I was still in search of the perfect peanut sauce, I have tried many over the years and learned that I don’t like coconut in my peanut sauce or an excess of sriracha or sugar. There has to be fresh garlic and ginger or else it’s going to taste like something that you find at the airport and I was pleased to find a recipe that looked good from Oh My Veggies. I also learned that if you store natural peanut butter upside down you won’t end up with an oily mess. I felt a little dumb that that trick had never occurred to me because when I tried it I was thrilled by how easily I was able to stir the peanut butter after opening it. Score.
While perusing recipes I came across another tip, this one from With Food + Love for baking crispy tofu in the oven. The trick is to sprinkle on cornstarch after you marinate it before baking it in the oven and then spraying with a bit of oil. It makes so much sense to use cornstarch in baking because that’s how you get the great coating when you fry it. This is how I will bake my tofu from now on, I want to try the recipe that she posted with it Roasted Broccoli + Crispy Tofu Bowls with a Blood Orange Soy Glaze because I’ve been on the hunt for a good orange tofu recipe for forever.
So, while this isn’t a recipe here is how you can recreate this perfect little Roasted Tofu Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce for yourself. Make the tofu and then the peanut sauce following the directions. Cook some Udon noodles (or rice noodles or linguine or whatever) in boiling water and in the last few minutes of cooking add a bag of your favorite frozen mixed vegetables and cover with a lid. Cook until the vegetables are just done, don’t let them overcook! You can always steam them over the pasta water if you want to be sure. Then drain, mix in the sauce and tofu until everything is beautiful and then top with chopped peanuts and green onions. A perfect simple meal.
I almost cried when Jessica and Gabe started doing pop-up shops back in 2012 and walking into their new brick and mortar all vegan grocery store was almost too much to deal with. I can’t believe Rabbit Food is finally here AND on South First sandwiched between my favorite coffee shop The Fair Bean (get their vegan empanadas) and Bananarchy, across the street from End of an Ear record shop and a new Venezuelan truck called Four Brothers that promises to have vegan arepas! We are living in an amazing time to be a vegan in Austin Texas.
The soft opening was on February 1st and though everything isn’t in stock yet I couldn’t believe how much they did have, and how freaking cute everything is.
Of course they have every vegan snack you could ever want, from Earth Balance puffs, to Coconut Bacon, and Vegan Twinkies it’s all there.
Then they also have a bunch of cute knitted items, toys and kitchen items from handmade Gryffindor scarves to vegan kitchen towels.
There is an array of vegan health and beauty products including everything from Vitamin D spray to multiple kinds of vegan condoms which will be great anyway but especially if you meet someone AT the store.
They even have fresh foods, WHAT! It’s a one stop shop!
Plus cuties abound everywhere having fun.
And if you pitched in you can find your name on the Kickstarter sign. I stared forever until I found mine and then pointed out to everyone around how awesome I am.
I am so happy for Jessica and Gabe and all of us in Austin and basically the world. So go there, and support the team so they can keep supporting us!