vegetable diaries

Archive for the ‘vegan-friendly’ Category

my appetite and the east bay: a compendium

Posted by vegetablediaries on March 2, 2010

the moderate meal at Manzanita

today i will cover three wonderful east bay eateries: Manzanita Restaurant, Vik’s Chaat Corner, and Cafe Colucci. all of them are very affordable and delicious and will summon you from far away (i write this from southern california)!

you can find my older post on Manzanita here, and as i mentioned before i find the grain at Manzanita to be a little on the mushy side. so when my friend and i had lunch we ordered our moderate meals without the grain and it was just as excellent as ever! we also didn’t waste any food. i don’t have a photo of the soup but i think it was a miso vegetable and bean soup. it was probably one of the best soups i’ve had at Manzanita.. it was hearty and loaded with veggies. the entree included split peas, dinosaur kale with some sort of dill dressing that was outstanding, steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots with a tahini dressing (i think), and a mixed green salad and beet dressing. i really enjoyed everything and it was also nice to sit outside in their sunny patio.

dosa from Vik's Chaat Corner

later that afternoon we headed to Vik’s Chaat Corner to snack on some dosa. by the way, Vik’s recently moved to a new location… don’t worry, it’s nearby to their old location. the new space is airy and huge! it seems like it will accommodate crowds better then their old place. when we visited it was a weekday around 3pm, so it was calm and their menu was limited. i recommend going on a weekend (although it will be crazy crowded) where they offer more menu items. the vegetable dosa is so tasty and only available on the weekends! the idlis, which are like little steamed rice & lentil cakes are also so yummy. i could drink the sambar and coconut chutney! oh, how i miss Vik’s!

veggie combo from Cafe Colucci

and last but not least, i give to you Cafe Colucci! i’ve had somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Colucci’s and lately i seem to be loving them. when i first tried them years ago i thought their food was really good, although my favourite ethiopian restaurant lives in the city of angels– Meals By Genet. anyways, i’ve had my share of not liking Colucci’s for various reasons from service to food quality, but lately they seem to be consistently really really good. i usually tend to visit them during lunch, because the veggie combo is so cheap at only $10! i always end up leaving so incredibly stuffed!

veggie combo from Cafe Colucci

Manzanita Restaurant
4001 Linden Street
Oakland, CA 94608

Vik’s Chaat Corner
2390 4th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710

Cafe Colucci
6427 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA 94609

Posted in ethiopian, gluten-free-friendly, indian, sf bay area, vegan, vegan-friendly | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ajanta on my brain

Posted by vegetablediaries on January 14, 2010

bheh, khumbi aur matar (lotus root) at Ajanta

if you are in berkeley (solano avenue to be exact) and are in need of unique and delicious indian food for cheap (lunch=cheap, dinner=moderate), then i highly recommend eating at Ajanta. i’ve been to many indian restaurants and none of them can compare to Ajanta’s varied menu and awesome preparation of regional dishes. although they are not a vegan restaurant there are usually a few vegan lunch specials from which to choose. your lunch will include yummy aromatic rice (brown rice is an option for a little more money), kala chana (black chickpeas), or saag (pureed spinach). Ajanta’s menu changes weekly, so there are always new and interesting things to try. some things stay on the menu depending on season and popularity (i think), so if you fall in love with their sambhar like i did, then rest assured it’s been on the menu for a couple of months now… and hopefully they will keep it on! i’m also quite fond of the bheh, khumbi aur matar (lotus root, shiitake mushrooms, and peas cooked with caramelized onions, ginger, garlic and spices). however i think my favourite is their hyderabadi baingan baghare (organic eggplant slices sauteed and cooked in a sauce made with onions, sesame seeds, tamarind, coconut powder, cashew paste, ginger, garlic, and spices). i don’t have a photo but take my words that you MUST order the baingan baghare if you see it on the menu. it is so rich and the eggplants are like tender little gems that explode in your mouth.

i’ve visited Ajanta for dinner, too but nothing can beat the fantastically cheap and filling lunch specials ($10 or less!).

brown rice & kala chana at Ajanta

i love the caramelized onions on the rice…

sambhar with vegetables at Ajanta

the sambhar is a south indian dish and includes toor dal (lentils) cooked with spices, tamarind eggplant, okra, carrots and potatoes. i didn’t mention this yet but Ajanta is prepared to serve your food spicy HOT if you so desire. i ordered the sambhar “hot” but for the other dishes i recommend ordering them “medium” if you’re not used to the heat. if you like the heat then by all means you should go for HOT!

lobhia aur khumbi (curried black eye peas) at Ajanta

1888 Solano Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94707

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carpinteria’s chamomile cafe YUMYUM

Posted by vegetablediaries on December 16, 2009

big box o' desserts from Chamomile Cafe

hooray for discovery: Chamomile Cafe! i discovered this delightful cafe in carpinteria, and it’s mostly all vegan with the exception that they serve wild salmon, eggs, and dairy. it’s also mostly organic! as for the bakery part of the cafe, half of the goods are vegan and they are questionably vegan in a major way because they are so incredibly delectable. in my big box o’ desserts i tried the blueberry pie in miniature, pecan muffin, oatmeal raisin walnut cookie, zucchini muffin, and the lemon poppyseed muffin with blueberries sprinkled on top. these didn’t last very long.. i shared them with my family and i sort of ate them up! the baked goods are not cheap, but also not overly priced in my opinion because they use organic ingredients and they are insanely good. that pie is made with organic blueberries! this place was like finding a little gem all covered in tar (did you know the beaches in carpinteria are dotted with tar?) by the way, i’ve learned that mineral spirits are the answer to tar stains!

blueberry pie from Chamomile Cafe

and now onto lunch: i tried the grilled veggie panino, which is made from their handmade organic ciabatta rolls (YUM) and then inside goes the eggplant, mushrooms, red onions, tomatoes, radish sprouts, vegan ranch, and dijon. you’ll want to be a fan of dijon if you order this. although it’s not overly dijon-y, the mustard is quite noticeable in a very delicious way. i really enjoyed my sandwich and it also came with a small side salad. i would like to try their dinner menu sometime because it’s all vegan except for the wild salmon. my pescatarian, gluten-free friend enjoyed the wild salmon tacos. thank you, Chamomile Cafe!

veggie panino from Chamomile Cafe

i should have moved the lettuce off of the tomato, but you get the idea.

Chamomile Cafe

Chamomile Cafe
915 Linden Ave.
Carpinteria, CA 93013

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, los angeles, vegan bakery, vegan cafe, vegan-friendly | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

eating at gingergrass in silverlake

Posted by vegetablediaries on December 6, 2009

Gingergrass tofu lunch plate

i was really excited to eat at Gingergrass again because it had been a long time, however my experience with my tasty lunch turned into an afternoon of nursing what i think was an MSG overdose. i asked Gingergrass if they use MSG and they confirmed that they do not use it, but it is included in the shrimp chips and hoisin sauce that they don’t make in house, which really means that they DO use it but not intentionally, i presume. maybe you can order your lunch without MSG… it’s certainly worth asking. anyways, i enjoyed my lunch until i got up and walked back to my car. i’ll give you the details of my lunch and you can decide if it’s worth the MSG risk. i personally like to feel fresh and energetic after eating and that was certainly not my experience after eating at Gingergrass, which boasts “fresh vietnamese cuisine.”

so, my lunch! i ordered the gingergrass tofu for $8.95: crispy organic tofu with shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy served with vegan nuoc cham sauce. you also get a heaping scoop of broken white rice and vietnamese slaw. overall i thought the dish was over-seasoned with the sauce and there was too much sodium. however i did enjoy the crispy tofu and shiitake mushrooms. i think they coat the tofu in rice flour, which gives it a light and crisp texture. and for more positives, they have a nice outdoor patio and friendly wait staff. there are also many vegan options.

2396 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90039

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more things i miss from NYC: sahara’s turkish restaurant

Posted by vegetablediaries on November 16, 2009

falafel plate from Sahara's

a weekday lunch at Sahara’s Turkish Restaurant is probably one of the best values and overall excellent lunch experiences i have had in NYC. i think i paid around $13 for a four course meal, which included the most heavenly bread in the world! yes, the world! the servers were all very prompt and professional and easily tended to my vegan needs. here is what i ordered:

*eggplant salad (wow! this is incredible… you will want more! i like to scoop it up with the bread.)
*mediterranean salad sans the cheese (again, wowo! i think they use a lemon vinaigrette, it’s so fresh and tangy.)
*falafel plate (i’m usually full by the time my main lunch comes around thanks to the bread, but who cares, i’m going in.)
*baklava (they told me this is vegan… it is seriously sweet.)

they will also serve you turkish coffee or tea, but i’m well past my food coma at this point and decline.

eggplant salad from Sahara's

mediterranean salad from Sahara's

baklava from Sahara's

although Sahara’s is quite meaty, there are plenty of vegan items to choose from. some things are even gluten-free, but always ask to be sure!

Sahara’s Turkish Restaurant
513 2nd Avenue (29th & 2nd)
New York, NY

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, new york city, turkish, vegan-friendly | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

it’s a little more than a mixed green salad

Posted by vegetablediaries on October 11, 2009

grilled vegetable salad from The Landing Grill and Sushi Bar

grilled vegetable salad from The Landing Grill and Sushi Bar

sometimes i get surprised to find a vegan meal in unexpected places. usually if i go to a non-vegan-friendly restaurant there will at least be a mixed greens salad or something similar to order but i was happy to find a big grilled vegetable salad on the menu at The Landing Grill and Sushi Bar located in westlake village. the salad was fresh and filling, and i ate it with balsamic and olive oil. i think the other vegan item on the menu was pasta but i wasn’t feeling a pasta mood, so i stuck with the salad.

we sat outside next to the ducks..

ducks at the lake!

ducks at the lake!

a little bunny hopping..

bunny & duck

bunny & duck

The Landing Grill and Sushi Bar
32123 Lindero Canyon Road
Westlake Village, CA 91361

Posted in los angeles, vegan-friendly | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

m cafe de chaya- mmm, dessert

Posted by vegetablediaries on October 6, 2009

carrot cake from m cafe de chaya

carrot cake from M Cafe de Chaya

it’s officially fall in many parts of the world, except for maybe here in southern california.. and to celebrate i ate a slice of carrot cake from M Cafe de Chaya! i must say the people at the M patisserie really know their carrot cakes. although i found the frosting too sweet, i enjoyed the walnuty, raisiny, autumny warmth of this dessert. i also bought a gingersnap cookie but i ate in the car while driving home! the cookie was crisp but it also had a nice chewiness from the molasses and raisins. i quite enjoyed it. there are so many sweets to sample at M Cafe. they do tend to sell out of things in the early evening so be quick if you need a dessert fix!

carrot cake from M Cafe de Chaya

carrot cake from M Cafe de Chaya

M Cafe also serves up great non-dessert items like sandwiches, salads, sushi (they do serve fish but none of their products contain dairy), wraps, and more. they call themselves contemporary macrobiotic cuisine; however don’t let that scare you away, the food is tasty! i visited their location on melrose but there are other locations in culver city and beverly hills.

M Cafe de Chaya
7119 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, los angeles, vegan bakery, vegan-friendly | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

world food cafe 2 by chris & carolyn caldicott

Posted by vegetablediaries on August 26, 2009

marinated butternut squash & sweet peppers with hot tomato sauce- world food cafe 2 recipe

marinated butternut squash & sweet peppers with hot tomato sauce- world food cafe 2 recipe

well, i have been doing more garden-sitting and recently harvested butternut squash, bell peppers and tomatoes… with a few snips from the thyme shrub. i’ve been trying to use my cookbooks more and i found this great caribbean recipe from -world food cafe 2- by chris and carolyn caldicott. i also have their first cookbook, -world food cafe- and love it. the caldicotts are husband and wife globetrotters with voracious appetites! their cookbooks are filled with interesting vegetarian/vegan recipes from their excursions, with stellar photography by chris. their recipes span from cambodia, thailand, malaysia, north africa, sub-saharan africa, pakistan, india, maldives, sri lanka, french polynesia, central america, italy, and the caribbean! they also own the london eatery, -world food cafe-. because i had everything fresh from the garden i thought i would try out the recipe: marinated butternut squash and sweet peppers with hot tomato sauce. i’ve never made a caribbean dish, so i was curious to try something new. this is a fantastic summer meal! i strayed from the recipe and didn’t use the okra in the sauce because i didn’t have any on hand, and i also added 1 package of tempeh to the butternut squash and peppers. the lime and thyme really shine through and make this so refreshing on a hot day. i used a broiler to cook the vegetables and tempeh, but you can also cook it on the barbecue. here is the recipe:

Marinated Butternut Squash and Sweet Peppers with Hot Tomato Sauce from -World Food Cafe 2-

1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks (3 1/2–4 cups)
2 large red onions, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
3 red peppers, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch squares

For the marinade:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon soy sauce (i used wheat-free tamari)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey (i used maple syrup)

For the tomato sauce:
2 tablespoons sunflower oil (i used olive oil)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2–1 Scotch bonnet chile, seeded and finely chopped (if unavailable, use another small hot chile)
4 ounces okra pods (about 16–18 okra), chopped in 1/2-inch rings
14 ounces ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks (2–2 1/2 cups)
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt and black pepper, to taste

Parboil the squash in a saucepan of boiling water until it is just starting to soften but is still firm. Drain and place in a large bowl with the onions, peppers, and marinade ingredients. Stir well to coat all the vegetables with the marinade and set to one side for 1 hour.

Meanwhile make the tomato sauce. Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan. When hot, add the onion, garlic, chile, and okra, and gently fry until soft. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and lime juice, and bring to a boil; cover the pan and simmer until the sauce has reduced and oil returns. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Skewer the onions, peppers, and butternut squash and cook either on the barbecue or under a hot broiler until brown on all sides. Any remaining marinade can be added to the tomato sauce and heated through. Serve the skewers topped with the sauce, with rice on the side.


-world food cafe 2- cookbook

-world food cafe 2- cookbook

Posted in caribbean, cookbooks, gluten-free-friendly, recipes, vegan-friendly | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

sweet basil thai cuisine

Posted by vegetablediaries on August 17, 2009

sweet basil thai cuisine

sweet basil thai cuisine

sweet basil will knock your socks off with their thai spice. when i first ordered the lunch special (above) i ordered it “very spicy” and almost died. they do not mess around with their thai chilies, and if you like it spicy you are in luck. if you don’t need too much spice then go ahead and order it “not too spicy” and you will be quite pleased. i love spicy food but its nice to be able to control it… so, i usually just ask for the hot sauce if i want it to be more spicy.

i really enjoy sweet basil. the lunch specials are so affordable, delicious and filling.. and it’s located on solano avenue, with all of the nice shops and the xocolate bar is right across the street! for lunch i like to order the green curry with drunken tofu and brown rice combination. all for $9.50! i’ve also tried the basil eggplant, which is outstanding! the staff are very accommodating if you have any food sensitivities. enjoy!

Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine
1736 Solano Ave
(between Ensenada Ave & Tulare Ave)
Berkeley, CA 94707
(510) 527-8611

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razan organic kitchen

Posted by vegetablediaries on August 12, 2009

mediterranean platter from razan

mediterranean platter from razan

i had eaten at razan organic kitchen many times before i tried the mediterranean platter and was already in wow-mode, but after trying the mediterranean platter i was hooked! this is a great meal for lunch or dinner, however i prefer it for lunch because it holds me over all day long with no hunger pangs to speak of. it’s also very affordable! let me break this down for you: hummus, tabbouleh, falafel, dolmas, salad and tahini dressing, brown rice, whole wheat pita, and unlimited hot & mild salsas! i also love their egyptian and lebanese wraps. it’s so incredibly fresh at razan and there are numerous things to choose from: salads, wraps, burritos, and platters. the portions are giant size, so be prepared to eat it all, share, or take home. the owner is very nice and will smile at you more if you finish your meal.

Razan Organic Kitchen
2119 Kittredge St
(between Fulton St & Shattuck Ave)
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 486-0449

Posted in gluten-free-friendly, mediterranean, mexican, sf bay area, vegan-friendly | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »