Edible Flours Vancouver

April 29th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

Edible Flours, Vancouver, Canada

2280 West Broadway

604-734-8351

~$5 USD/person for a couple of snacks

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦♦ (1/6)

When I heard that Edible Flours was opening, I was ecstatic.

I’d tried some ‘rice krispie treats’ from one of their Vancouver Farmer’s Market stalls way back in the day, and while I’d thought the prices they were charging were a bit dear, they were also quite tasty. The proprietors seemed friendly and engaged, the packaging was (and still is) simple but pretty, and at the time there was a real dearth of vegan baking in Vancouver.

And I love to bake, but sometimes I find my sweet tooth hard to keep up with.

Unfortunately, the whole experience is a bit of a let down. It was barely worth words, and it’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder if I should say anything at all.

But I will, not because I think anyone should care about my opinion, but because I guess, somewhere deep down, I have a deep-seated fear that people will start to associate vegan baking with the type of product that Edible Flours turns out: it’s just so mediocre. Cupcakes are bland, lumpen, and sweet. Cinnamon rolls are sugar sweetness set against cardboard. And the savoury offerings are even worse, my croissant is raw under the crust, and whats been billed as a cheesy filling is waxen and awful. Flavours, where present at all, are imbalanced, and nothing has the right texture, the snap of a good shortcrust, the flakiness of puff pastry or the crumb of perfectly baked, moist and delicious cake.

I feel like places like this continue to exist because people are so willing to compromise, and also because people set their expectations for vegan, and gluten free, and organic pastry so low.

But the truth is, that vegan pastry is possible. Many of the techniques used in a French pâtisserie are fully transferable to vegan, and even gluten free, or low sugar ingredients. And of course, the French don’t have a monopoly on pastry—what I am trying to point out is that baking, and pastry, are crafts, and there is a world of information out there. I just want Edible Flours to be better.

In the meantime, try Fairy Cakes which is alright, or hit the kitchen yourself (My Sweet Vegan, might be a good place to start).

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Global Tribe Café Leeds

April 20th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Global Tribe Café, Leeds, UK

18 Swan Street, Leeds
LS1 6LG

(0)11.3318.4289

~$30 USD/person with drinks (lunch)

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦♦ (0/6)

It’s not always easy being Vegan in downtown Leeds, though Hansa’s isn’t too far away, and Out Of This World stocks some decent grab-’n-go options. So, when we heard that Global Tribe, one of my wife’s favourite teenaged hang-outs, was opening a vegan cafe, we started to salivate.

We imagined nipping in for a quick bite in-between shopping at Blue Rinse and Wing Lee Hong, maybe in a warm grounded space, or somewhere airy and beautiful. A place channelling the beatniq-hippie vibe that had made us fall in love with the storefront almost despite ourselves.

Located up on the second floor, up a narrow staircase just to the right of Global Tribe’s primary entrance, the café is none of those things. We came, we saw, we chewed. All of our appetite was in vain. Continue reading “Global Tribe Café Leeds” »

An Ode to the Wayward Vegan Café

April 19th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

seattle

Wayward Vegan Café, Seattle

801 NE 65th St, Suite C

(206) 524-0204

~$30 USD/person with drinks (dinner)

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦

I fell in love at the Wayward Café, sitting across from this Yorkshire lass I could barely understand, she tucked into the “Lost Souls” tofu scramble, while I meowed down on “The Wizard,*” a veggie burger par excelance, with tempeh bacon, just the right amount of mayo, and strangely delicious vegan cheddar cheese.

The both of us were participants at a writing workshop where grub was included—but oh what grub it was—I kid you not, the chef’s speciality was “Swimming Chicken,” and the only person worse off than us at the workshop, food-wise, was my garlic allergic vegetarian friend, who she kept on confusing with someone gluten-free. All of us with particular dietary requirements were starving, and so I asked the only other vegan at the workshop out—out for lunch I mean.

We walked up 15th Ave NE, past the University of Washington Bookstore, the head shops, and Sidecars for Pigs Peace (now Vegan Haven), it was 2:00 in the afternoon, 2012, the sun was shining down. You could smell Wayward half a block away. Continue reading “An Ode to the Wayward Vegan Café” »

The Spiral Diner — Dallas and Fort Worth, TX — Review

March 30th, 2012 § 3 comments § permalink

Dallas Ft Worth Header

The Spiral Diner, Dallas & Fort Worth

1314 W. Magnolia
Fort Worth, TX

1101 N Beckley
Dallas, TX

817.3.EatVeg

~$15 USD/person with drinks (dinner)

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦

Texas isn’t the first place that springs to your mind when you think of vegetarianism.

I mean, after driving past miles of ranch, and walking past the stockyards in Fort Worth, my partner and I are in righteous vegan mode. We’re hot blooded and pissed off as we stumble out of the car for lunch. Our doors slam, and dust billows up off the road in a red mist that perfectly suits my mood.

A few minutes later, after I sit down and order, and my sandwich calls me a JERK, but I love him anyway.

Spiral Diner Jerk Tofu Sandwich

Continue reading “The Spiral Diner — Dallas and Fort Worth, TX — Review” »

Vegetarian Lifestyle AKA JuJuBe Tree 枣子树 Restaurant Review : Shanghai

February 24th, 2012 § 33 comments § permalink

Shanghai Header

Multiple Locations: Official Website (Chinese) Listings On Happy Cow

Shanghai, China

~$10 USD/person with drinks

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦♦

Even in the winter, where the night sky darkens early and fog roils from the Pearl River, Shanghai has it’s own luminesence. We’ve spent the day shopping, and my arms are full of parcels—stationary from Muji, a black velvet jacket that’s so outré that I probably should never wear it, and a Victorian styled dress for my friend. The street behind the mall is bustling. Though we are far away from the stately Bund district, and from the shiny new metro, the city sidewalks are teeming with people. Fellow shoppers, taxi drivers, and office workers swarm around us. We round a corner and—there—in the middle of glass skyscrapers and under neon is a branch of JuJuBe Tree, a successful chain of vegetarian restaurants local to Shanghai. Continue reading “Vegetarian Lifestyle AKA JuJuBe Tree 枣子树 Restaurant Review : Shanghai” »

Cowgirl’s Baking NYC

December 8th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Cowgirl’s Baking
259 East 10th Street, New York, NY

A Few Dollars a Sweetie

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦♦

I don’t know the background of Cowgirl’s Baking—but as we approach, from the outside it looks like an episode of How To Make It In America is in progress.

The staff are having a fucking blast. A group of mad scientist teenagers, some in hotpants and others in torn jeans, are listening to indie rock and partying behind the counter when we arrive. We walk up almost trepiditiously through a crowd. We feel like shy wallflowers at a high school dance. I look down at my shoes and occasionally glampse at the goodie-case.

“Can I get you anything hon?” The girl behind the counter is fantastically attractive, and I feel even more like a slack-jawed country boy.

I look up—and truth be told, I want one of everything. I sort of stammer as I place my order. Continue reading “Cowgirl’s Baking NYC” »

BabyCakes New York City Vegan Bakery Review

November 23rd, 2011 § 15 comments § permalink

NYC Review Header

BabyCakes NYC (with locations in Orlando and L.A. – Ships orders from online website)

From $40 a pie to a few dollars for a whoopee pie

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦♦

It’s a sunny morning in New York’s late fall. Cold weather last night, but the sun warmed resin bench I’m sitting on casts warmth up into my thighs, and with coffee from my favourite East Coast coffee shop—Roasting Plant—steaming away in my face, I feel oh so content and alive. But I’m also a little at a loss.

Pastry is particularly close to my heart. Elaborate wedding cakes covered in delicate icing sugar flowers, gingerbread castles with delicate spun sugar and stained glass windows—my mother is one of the world’s best bakers. I vividly remember afternoons spent together in the kitchen as she tried to pass on what she knew to an impatient kid that just wanted his sugar high. To this day, I enjoy little more than a quiet day in a sun-lit kitchen, turning out my favourite foods: tarte aux sucre, croissant, strawberry rhubarb pie, or cinnamon rolls.

All of this is to say I have high standards for pastry. As I sit and stare at a box of sweeties from Hollywood-star favourite Babycakes, I wonder, is it just me, or is this just not up to par? Continue reading “BabyCakes New York City Vegan Bakery Review” »

Candle 79 Review

November 20th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Header image for New York reviewsCandle 79

$120 for two, with beverages

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦♦

Rarely has whim led us so perfectly astray. A brisk afternoon gives way to a sudden downpour, and our stroll down Lexington turns into a dash for cover. We head for the first bit of awning in sight—a bit of corrugated scaffolding, and find ourselves directly in front of Candle 79. It’s just turned five, and though it’s early for supper, the warm saffron smell of the restaurant wafting out into the street pulls us inside.

Perhaps it is early, but it’s also almost fully booked. The Maître D’ asks if we has a reservation, and her eyes widen slightly at our audacity as we shake out our umbrellas and confess to having none. We shoot her a pathetic and desperate look. I can feel water from the rain running from my hair onto my face and squelching in my shoes. Our pitiable state softens her heart: “Can you eat within an hour?”

She has a table that’s turned over early and isn’t booked ’til 6. What beautiful happenstance. Continue reading “Candle 79 Review” »

Gong De Lin Review

November 14th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

Beijing's Forbidden City and Gong De Lin's InteriorGong De Lin
2, Qianmen Gong Daije, Chongwen District
功德林素菜馆
北京市崇文区前门东大街2号

$60 for two, with tea

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦♦

Exploring new cities in search of great vegan restaurants is a true passion of mine, but as temperatures drop and I drag my partner along windy snow-swept streets, her heeled feet clacking in the snow, I feel a sense of doom closing in with the long shadows of the setting sun. We’re looking for one of the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurants, GongDeLin, and I’d ask for directions, but we’re on one of those strange streets you seem to find only in capital cities—multi-lane roads cut through government office after government office, each one squat and monolothic. Finally, just as the street opens onto a ring road, we see a lone cycle rickshaw creaking towards us.

The driver pulls down his scarf, revealing a curious face. You can tell he wonders what the hell we’re doing in the middle of nowhere.

Continue reading “Gong De Lin Review” »

Pure Lotus Review

November 9th, 2011 § 6 comments § permalink

Beijing Header ImagePure Lotus
Holiday Inn Lido Beijing, 3rd Floor (Jichang Rd & Jiag Tai Rd)

净心莲 [ 朝阳首都机场蒋台路丽都假日饭店三层 ]

$100 for two, with silver-tip jasmine tea

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦

I’m in the lobby of a Holiday Inn, but it’s like no other Holiday Inn I have been to before. Opulent. Marble floors and panelled white walls, deep upholstery, a business centre that’s actually doing business, and all around me an expatriate complex rises up into the sky. A red faced man in a linen suit with a Harvard pin is shouting horrible Mandarin into a cellphone the size of a thimble, and I’m sliding my bank card into a bank machine after waiting in a line that curled up the hall.

Could I be anywhere in the world? Perhaps. But as the machine spits out Yuan from my Canadian bank account, this is all so distinctly one of the new Beijings—a business district built at the city’s edge to facilitate western business moving into China, a glossy new version of a hotel chain that might be mediocre anywhere else in the world, and a palpable buzz in the air that makes one feel as though they are truly near the centre of the Earth.

I’ve travelled here a rather large distance by train and taxi to eat at Pure Lotus, which is perhaps the most (literally) spectacular restaurant in China. I feel a sense of anticipation and apprehension, for although I can’t deny the authenticity of this monied milieu-it’s not one I associate with great food. Thankfully, I’m in for a huge surprise…

Continue reading “Pure Lotus Review” »

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