Edible Flours Vancouver

April 29th, 2015 § 2 comments § 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” »

Plum Bistro Seattle Review

March 8th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

Blum Bistro Review Header

Plum Bistro, Seattle

1429 12th Ave
Seattle, WA

(206) 838-5333
info@plumbistro.com

~$40 USD/person with drinks (dinner)

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

Outside the open windows, the rain comes down in sheets. It pours across the pavement and runs in rivers along the curb. I sip my whiskey-laced horchata, and enjoy that particular coziness that comes at the expense of another’s misery. Someone is wading up the hill across the street, in thick rubber boots and gore-tex jacket, battened down, hunched over. Sopping wet.

Could any scene be more Seattle?

I love the West Coast and spent years living their full-time, but when I wonder why I left, it’s rain that reminds me.

Still, there are many worse places to be in the rain than drinking an aperitif at the Plum Bistro. It’s a bit strange actually, as I think about that word bistro . . . Continue reading “Plum Bistro Seattle Review” »

Cowgirl’s Baking NYC

December 8th, 2011 § 3 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” »

5 (Vegan) Travel Essentials

November 28th, 2011 § 9 comments § permalink

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Maybe this is so obvious that it oughtn't be included—but I still remember my first trip overseas: 1 pair runners, 1 pair sandals. Which might've worked out for a beach resort, but was totally inappropriate for the urban environment I went to. Even in India, there were places my casual shoes simply weren't welcome.

Whether you want to go out to a nice restaurant, or just want to walk around comfortably all day, a good pair of shoes that can cover both tasks is an absolute must. Look for something without a huge heel or a floppy sole and you'll be well kitted out. Pictured are vegan Fluevogs, with hand nailed Fluevog Air soles. My favourite travelling shoes, mine are npw rough around the edges—after 10 countries and two years, it's a wonder they're held together at all.

Add smart shoes to jeans and a v-neck T, and you're a hip style rebel. Runners and the same outfit, and you may not make it past the velvet ropes.

Cinnamon Buns A Vegan Recipe

November 25th, 2011 § 13 comments § permalink

Cinnamon Buns

This vegan cinnamon bun recipe uses everyday ingredients and can be prepared the night before.

Maybe it’s my prairie upbringing—but I have a little bit of a love affair with flour. From standing in fields of wheat and watching sun filter through golden sheaves, to running across rolled barrels of hay; I think about long summer days, never ending skies, and the yellow colours of Fall every time I run my fingers through the floury clouds of grain on my pastry board. Whether I’m turning out pizza, pastry, or bread, whether it’s buckwheat, spelt, or “white,” I always think about where flour comes from, and can barely choke down my anticipation.

When I close my eyes and think of home, this is what I smell: first flour, then yeast, and finally the sweet smells of sugar, and baking bread. Maybe, on a good day, this inner symphony is joined by gracenotes of cinnamon and vanilla. And mabye it’s because Cinnamon Rolls bring all of these great smells together that I love them so much. Long before I’d bit into a galette des rois, or had an affair with madelines, I gave my heart to a prairie classic, brought over from Northern Europe, and spread all across North America. Simple ingredients, and simple preparation—extraordinary results. Cinnamon Rolls made at home or from the county fair are nothing like their mall food-court or grocery-store brethren—biting into one should be all grain no chaff, all gold and no dross.

Which is why I was, perhaps, a little tough on BabyCakes’ Skinny-Bun in my review earlier this week. Cinnamon Buns are a little bit sacred to me—so much so that I was a little devastated as my own first efforts to come up with a perfect vegan version failed over a decade ago. Years of tinkering later, I’d like to think I cracked it. The key was actually always scaling back: taking away steps, not adding too many things—and most importantly, using quality ingredients. Make these with a fresh, local, organic flour, and they’ll transport you home.

Continue reading “Cinnamon Buns A Vegan Recipe” »

BabyCakes New York City Vegan Bakery Review

November 23rd, 2011 § 33 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” »

Top 5 Vegan Cities

November 21st, 2011 § 100 comments § permalink

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You'll notice a distinct lack of parrallelism here—I know, I know, India is a whole country, while the rest of the places on the list are cities. Here's the deal, if I were to make a list of the top 10, 15, or even 20 cities for vegetarian eating, they'd all be in India, and I don't think that that's quite fair. India truly is a vegetarian paradise, and can be a vegan heaven with a little patience and fortitude. Obviously there are all the vegetarian classics, from channa masala to potato curry—but from the Portuguese infused flavours of Goan cuisine, to great pizza at beachside hippie hangouts, it's not just about the curry either.

Food Highlight: Yard long dosas served on the worlds biggest thali trays.

My Secret Favourite Thing:
The Calico Textile Museum in Ahmedabad might not make every itinerary, but it ought to. The giant wheel on India's flag? It's a spinning wheel, and this is both one of the best textile museums in the world, and a rare chance to learn about an artistic tradition at the heart of Indian identity.

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