Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Blackbird Pizzeria: Vegan Philly

After a Dottie's Donuts breakfast, the lunch stop on our vegan Philly food tour was, of course, Blackbird Pizzeria. Before you judge, let me say the following: don't.


We got everything to share and the first thing we chose in agreement was their famous root beer BBQ wings! I'm probably the last vegan in the northeast to finally try these, but if there's another person out there: remedy your oversight immediately! These are really substantial wings and the crisp texture and luscious sauce are absolutely unmatched by any vegan wing I've previously consumed. I didn't find them spicy, but it does come with creamy cucumber dip in case you do.


A "friend" recommended we get the seitan "chicken" parm sandwich: chicken fried seitan, marinara, Daiya cheese. This was the only womp womp of the meal and, naturally, we're no longer friends. To be fair, by "womp womp," I mean that it wasn't what I was expecting. You could probably chalk this up to liking what your used to; I grew up with these kinds of heroes consisting of thinly sliced and breaded chicken slathered in sauce and cheese on a substantial, soft hero roll. So, this combination of the hard baguette with large chunks of "chicken," and hardly any sauce or cheese was dry and hard to eat. I brought my half (minus a bite) home and gave it to OD; he liked it reheated (although not as much as the wings), so that's saying something.


Because we're gluten-monsters we needed even more seitan, so we got their cheesesteak pizza: rosemary garlic seitan, garlic butter, Daiya cheese, grilled onions, green peppers, vegan whiz (!). This was a really good slice, but again- kinda dry. I dunno; is it just me? Am I not hydrating enough!?! Obviously, the seitan and the whiz were stars.


Speaking of whiz, CHEESE FRIES!!!!

Did you hear me?

CHEESE FRIES!!!

As someone who essentially survived vegetarianism via cheese fries, this was hella exciting. And, I'm happy to report, these were THE JAM! If you go to Blackbird, you must must must order these. Perfect cheese to fry ratio (puddle at the bottom) and extra credit if you share with someone who can't eat as much as you can.


Stay tuned for our dinner stop...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Dottie's Donuts: Vegan Philly

I don't get to Philly much. In fact, I think I've only been there four times in my life. So, when my friend and I finally chose a day to visit, I was really excited. We planned a full day of eating and sight-seeing. Okay, mostly eating. First stop? Dottie's Donuts!

Dottie's was unassuming on a quiet, mostly residential street. Love the vintage feel of the sign.


Inside it was all pink and donuts! There are few things I appreciate more than an efficient menu/sign.


The assortment that day, part 1: almond joy, lemon curd (filled), apple fritter (deluxe), thai tea, Boston cream (filled), cinnamon bun.

 
 
The assortment that day, part 2: mango sugar, chocolate glazed, earl grey, cinnamon sugar, vanilla glazed, blueberry maple.


They also had two kinds of scones, two kinds of muffins, and bagels with assorted vegan cream cheeses. That was unexpected and pretty impressive, but we were definitely there specifically for the donuts- which are huge by the way. Naturally, I chose a Boston Cream; it's one of my faves.


TBH, that was the donut I chose, but I also had a "box of dots:" a french fry box filled with vanilla glazed donut holes, and a Thai iced tea: the special drink that day (they seem to rotate). They have ample seating for a busy, little place.


Let me just say a word 6 words about this box of dots. They are not to be missed!!! Fresh, chewy, bites of soft, vanilla goodness; possibly my favorite of everything I had.


But you know that's not all I had. I also had another BOX of Dot's, which I took home to share with the fam. I tried them all- even the ones I normally wouldn't touch with a ten foot poll, just to report back to YOU so that when I meet you at a Vegfest or at VSU you know that I care.


Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of cake donuts because, well, I'm a pretty big fan of cake. I mention this because, while I'm no expert, I'm pretty sure all of Dottie's donuts are raised donuts. I apologize to all the raised donut enthusiasts that I've assuredly offended with my previous statement about cake donuts which, I have come to understand, are regarded as blasphemous to many donut aficionados. That being said, these are my thoughts on the flavors I tried.

Almond Joy: The reason I normally don't like raised donuts is because I feel like they're all the same doughy base with assorted toppings. That may be, but Dottie's "doughy base" is pretty damn great and this chocolate/almond/coconut topping was terrific. VM concurs.

Cinnamon Sugar: I've been obsessed with The Cinnamon Snail's apple cider donut since opening day, 2010 and I was assuming this was going to be a jumbo version of the same. I was wrong. You know why? Because apparently apple cider donuts are cake donuts! I have so much left to learn. Because of the lack of icing, this one was a little dry for me. But, if you love cinnamon sugar (I do) and aren't expecting a cake donut, which is completely different (like me); I'm sure you'll like this a lot.

Lemon Curd- who invented the word "curd" anyway? I'm really not into it. I can sometimes be into lemon, but curd? Just bad PR in my opinion. I bought this for VM, who loves fruity things and guess what? She dubbed it "the most flavorful of the bunch." She convinced me to taste it, so I cut the world's tiniest sliver. I love a powdered sugar donut and the "curd" was actually quite pleasant, but boy was it TART! I can respect that people like that kind of thing, but it makes my lips pucker into duck lips, which I am most definitely not into (we see you, duck lips; just stop).

Apple Fritter- I wanted to love this. True, I hate apples. BUT, look how glazed and crispy it looks: so appealing. Unfortunately (or fortunately; depending on how you look at it), there were real apple slices inside; Dottie's seems to be showy that way. So, even if you were to painstakingly cut a slice of donut so that there was nary a visible apple bit within, you'd still sense the essence of apple. But, you know what? Without an actual apple bit, it doesn't really count. Yeah, I said it. I ate an apple donut (piece without any apples) and I liked it! VM said this was her fave.

Cinnamon Bun- I love the coil of a cinnamon bun and the icing is crucial. This one made use of a spicier cinnamon than I'm used to, but high marks otherwise. VM chose this as her 2nd favorite.

Boston Cream- Here's the thing: until an unfortunate incident in grade school wherein VM and OD unknowingly bought me a coveted (non-vegan) Boston Creme donut with spoiled custard, I was obsessed with them. It wasn't until years later when I discovered the Vegan Treat's version that I was able to reignite my love affair and it's been a smooth transition back into our longterm relationship; I think it's going to work out. That said, this donut was yummy in its own right, but it wasn't authentic for me. There's something about the dough and icing of a BC that is very specific and this was, in my opinion, a good donut that wasn't a BC. It was a delicious, chocolate-iced donut, but the custard was really where they lost me: it was runny and not sweet enough. OD never agrees with me on anything, but even he had to concur.

Let's talk one more time about those dots though, shall we? I think the lesson here is that the ratio of icing to dough in a raised donut is skewed too lightly for me and that's why I loved the dots so much. Maybe Dottie's will expand their dot offering? One can dream.

I would not hesitate to stop at Dottie's on all future Philly visits (hopefully more soon)- probably for a million boxes of dotses.

Word of caution: rumor has it that they sell out, so plan to get there early if you go!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Easter Party

Passover was pretty great. Then came Easter, with even more food and frolic.

I always take 89 to see the Easter Bunny, although looking back through the blog I'm realizing that I don't always post the photo, which is a damn shame. Here's her pic from this year; the bunny had two settings: 1) immediately let 89 step off their lap and sit as far away from them as possible, or, 2) hold 89 by the entire body so that only her head, a swatch of her bunny shirt, and one dangling leg are visible. Here's option 2 at work. VM tried to get a photo of option 1, but my enormous arse was in the shot and there's no reason to go there.


Since this is one bit of tardiness I can assuage easily, here are the bunny photos from the last two years.

2016 was THE BEST. I could tell the bunny was up for it, so I told them that 89 would squirm, but not bite and that I was going to toss 89 over. The bunny caught her like a champ and the moment of the catch, inclusive of 89's ears blowing in the wind of the fan meant to keep the bunny cool, was captured.


2015 was a rookie mistake on my part. 89 was dressed as a bunny, which does not read well in a photo- particularly under duress. Also, why dress like a bunny when you're visiting the bunny? We've since learned that homage, not imitation, is key.


But, I digress. This year 89's Easter basket was filled with stuffed peeps and an extra bunny outlier. They currently all still exist, although I don't think any of the peeps have their squeakers anymore and most are missing their stuffing. There's a really funny video of the basket attacking 89 if you're so inclined.


On the way to VM & OD's we stopped at our regular holiday flower spot to pick up some buds that color-coordinated with my #1 bud.


Because if not on all days, at least on holidays you should eat dessert with every meal: these are the Peaceful Provisions donuts we shared in the a.m.: Ferrera Rocher donut, cannoli donut, rainbow donut. Not pictured: their vanilla pudding/cereal donut I glommed all to myself the day before.


For dinner, VM was at it again with Follow Your Heart's vegan egg; this time, baked ziti.


I ate about 75% of it.


For dinner dessert, we had bunny-shaped rainbow cookies from Sweet Maresa because the only thing better than rainbow cookies are rainbow cookies shaped like bunny rabbits.


and, finally, a shot of 89's bunny-themed ensem for the day.


Hope your holidays were enjoyed as well!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Passover

Excuse my tardiness; I recognize that I'm a little behind! Okay, actually a lot behind, but that's a story for another post(s). It was just Passover, peeps! And you know what that means: VM does all the cooking.

Here's 89, moments before she fell asleep waiting for the reading to end and for dinner to start.


Charoseth on matzoh, a.k.a. the only time I eat apples.


The piece-de-resistance: VM's famous matzoh ball soup- new and improved with the Follow Your Heart vegan egg. Don't be jealous of the middle ball's carrot hat.


Looky who woke up for some soup.

 

The festive meal: a packed plate (not mine!) of kugel, sweet potato, string beans, and Brussels sprouts.


It took 89 a few days to find the afikomen because someone hid it six feet in the air. CORRECTION: it took me a few days to realize why 89 was sniffing the air under a six foot high shelf.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Seasoned Vegan

FINALLY got to Seasoned Vegan over the weekend! A mac 'n' cheese-loving friend and I were in the area and I realized that we couldn't be far.


As is usual in NYC, we walked past quite a few less healthy and considerably non-vegan options on our trek towards our destination. When we arrived it appeared to us as an oasis: proudly vegan.


As soon as we entered, I recognized the mother and son owners/operators; they were standing right inside the entrance and it appeared as though they were tasting the chicken nuggets. It made me curious- had someone complained and they were trying to figure out what was wrong? Or, were they so good that they were just always munching on them?


The dining room was inviting and, as we were seated, we were given the regular menu as well as a brunch menu we hadn't expected. As much as we appreciated the option and as appealing as it looked, we decided to stick with the standard selections.The regular menu was more varied- chicken nuggets, hummus, pizza quesadilla...and healthful- raw appetizers, entrees, wraps, than I expected. Not seeing anything that wholeheartedly appealed to me, I was excited to spy the monthly special: BBQ riblets.


Each entree comes with a light salad of mixed greens and apple cider vinaigrette. We were really happy to have received this since it unexpectedly took an hour for our meals to come out. There was a table of four that seemed to send their meals back at least twice each, so the inordinate delay was probably caused by all of the waitstaff being focused on them.


When our meals finally arrived, my friend was so hungry that she didn't wait to let the camera eat first. So, her smothered "chicken" dish comprised of one soy "chicken" patty stewed in herbs and smothered in gravy with mac and broccoli is unpictured; she liked everything.

I chose the special BBQ riblets with baked mac & "cheese" and collard greens as sides. Although I'd hear another server tell another diner otherwise, our server allowed me to choose the sides with my special rather than committing it to a special plate. The collard greens (and a sweet potato souffle) were the special sides that day: surprisingly not standard on the menu.
  • I was a little shocked that the riblets were spheres, but they had a really nice taste; I assumed they were seitan or some kind of May Wah-esque product with really nice sauce. I was more than a little jealous when the gentleman next to me received the same plate, only his riblets were positively smothered in the decadent BBQ sauce.
  • The baked mac was really good, but I thought it could have had a little more pizazz.
  • I was initially given the broccoli by accident instead of my collards; there's not much to say about sauteed broccoli, although it was kind of them to let me keep it. 
  • I didn't get a great picture of the collards because they were unexpectedly delivered on a side dish swimming in a broth that, had I not been certain I was in a vegan restaurant, I would have feared. I moved them into my main plate sans broth, but found them overcooked and more salty than anything else. 
In short, I found all of the things I tried to be, rather ironically, under-seasoned.


Uncertain if we'd be back any time soon, we splurged on dessert. My friend chose the ice "cream" cupcake sandwich: vegan ice "cream" sandwiched between two cupcake halves. Here it is: vanilla ice cream in a somewhat squished looking vanilla cupcake (they were out of red velvet).


I ordered the praline ice cream (they look identical because it must be made with the same vanilla base) with a salted pecan chocolate chip cookie. I guess my plate was warm, which was why my ice cream was melty upon arrival. The cookie tasted predominantly of oil and had only two chocolate chips in it. I don't know if they make their own ice cream- the waitstaff was pleasant but always appeared too busy to chat, but this was creamy and rich with an unfortunate alcohol aftertaste as though from imitation vanilla.


Before we left I decided to use the restroom; it was quite lovely and had the holy grail of public restrooms: hooks! Unfortunately, it was completely out of toilet paper, which was an apt metaphor for my inaugural Seasoned Vegan dining experience.


I would definitely say there are a few kinks with seasoning, service, and consistency to work out, but- if the bustling afternoon crowd was any indication, Seasoned Vegan is obviously a popular neighborhood- as well as vegan, destination. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

89 X 5 (with Tatty Devine!)

This has been a rather trying week, so let's look at some pics of 89 celebrating her most recent birthday this month!

Here she is modeling her new Love Thy Beast tunic (she also got a hoodie!).
 
 

We started the day with pancakes because: BIRTHDAY FOOD! You're gonna want to do yourself a favor and watch the munching in action.

 

I have no idea why she looks so glum here; she's surrounded by presents.


She got all kinds of clothes and toys, but her BIG present was this nameplate by Tatty Devine.


Furry close-up of its fabulousness:


Presents or no, boredom set in once the pancakes were gone.


She also got this fab little crown, which made her extremely cuddly. Who doesn't want to nap on their bday?


In the absence of more pancakes, she conceded to playing with her new toys.




After some spaghetti for dinner, I was able to rustle up a treat or two from her favey chef.


Happy Birthday, Eighty-Nerd!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Vegan Valentine's

Welp; another year, another candy day to recap.

 

I try to eat only heart-shaped things on V-day. 2017 was perhaps my best work.

  • Center and bottom: Gone Pie lemon tahini heart specialties with chocolate kisses to the left and right. 


In the interest of full disclosure, I ate the points off of each so that I wound up with a plate full of butts.
Why?
Because I'm a hopeless romantic with exceeding levels of maturity.

I also ate an entire 2-level box of chocolates in just two sittings, sharing only the flavors I don't love (read: fruit).
Why?
Because chocolate is the best.


And then there were non-edible festivities...like this valentine I made for 89.


And this great shirt I picked up from VeganPolice.


The Valentine fairy (OD) left flowers for the nerd.


And for meeeeeee (still alive, btw).



89 was more thematically dressed than any of us in the days leading up to V-day- including, but not limited to: pjs.



Her favey gift was this plush dog she smooched for the longest...until she ripped his guts out.


Sounds about right!

Stay tuned, someone has a bday coming up...