Monday, December 26, 2011

Where to Eat Vegan Maybe: One World Cafe - Baltimore, MD

I had heard of One World Cafe a few times from friends and one day after browsing the BMA for an hour or so I decided to take the short walk up to OWC to sample their brunch menu.

Now I won't say I was disappointed...but ok I was a little disappointed. It's not that our food was bad, it just wasn't anything to write home about. Their pitch sounds good; casual atmosphere, friendly service, classics made healthier and a dedication to promoting a healthy life on a green planet.

I was interested in the Blue Corn Pancakes but after my horrible pancake fiasco at Asylum I wasn't ready for another disappointment like that. So I ordered the OWC wrap which is mixed greens, guacamole, sliced tomato, grated carrot, fresh herbs and sprouts on a sprouted grain tortilla with garlic herb dressing. My friend ordered a Not Dog with cheese and onions. We split a plate of baked Old Bay fries.

Here are my qualms:

1. Pretty much everything here could be made vegan if they just picked up some vegan mayo and a case of Daiya. No vegan cheese? Really? Do I sound snobby?

But really..I couldn't order the Philly Cheese "Steak-less" or the Eggplant Gyro or the loaded Not Dog or the FBLT or the Tofu Club or the Portobella Sandwich (to name just a few) because of the cheese or mayo on them. For a restaurant that caters to the vegetarian and vegan community, especially a place that gears on things like hotdogs and nachos, to not have vegan cheese just seems like a complete oversight.

Come to find out when I checked their online menu that they DO have soy cheese. It costs an extra $2.00 but it's there. For some reason though their brunch menu doesn't say anywhere that you can substitute soy cheese. Perhaps it's only offered during the week like the soup? I'l never know and the server certainly didn't offer it, which bring me to my next qualm.

2. Service seemed a little lackluster. Our server had to dash away twice. Once to find out the vegan burger of the day and then to find out if they served vegan cakes (which we were told we could only order at the counter and not at a table but we could sit at a table in the front section after ordering said cake from said counter...what?). She brought us everything in a timely fashion and was happy to split our check for us but seemed a bit unprepared or perhaps uninformed about the food she was serving.

3. My food was fine but, like I said, not anything special. The garlic herb dressing on my wrap tasted strongly of herb but not at all of garlic. The guacamole on my wrap seemed to just be mashed avocado spread out paper thin, which was disappointing because I love guacamole and that kinda sold me on the wrap in the first place. Our fries were fine but the Old Bay was just dumped in the center which left the outside ring of fries naked and the inside ring absolutely coated.

Here is my praise:

1. They offer several options for juices and smoothies and the carrot juice I ordered hit the spot.

2. While finding out about their vegan dessert offerings took a little bit of sleuthing the carrot cake cupcake I ordered was piled high with delicious icing and was just the right mix of sweet and spices.

3. The dining room and cafe were both simple but very comfortable and inviting.

Despite feeling kinda let down by this place I would probably try it again. Now that I know they have soy cheese and soy sour cream I could peruse the menu a bit deeper and try some more exciting dishes. I feel like if I lived in the area this would be one of my go-to spots for a treat or a smoothie but my dining experience left me wanting quite a bit more in the way of brunchy satisfaction. After my last brunch experience I think what I'm learning here is that brunch just isn't for me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hibou, Beebs, BeeBoo, Boober, Hindu, Bush Baby, Baby Cat, Keeten

It's been about a year now since I got Hibou back from my mom's house where she was living while I was in France. Please excuse this annoying display of pet-love. These are some of my favorite pictures of her from the last year.

Exploring Home: Part 3

So it turns out that I kinda went to the same museums over and over as a kid and completely missed out on a lot of great ones in DC. Or maybe I didn't miss out, I just had to wait to grow up to appreciate them. In any case I went to the Archives Gallery to see the What's Cooking Uncle Sam? exhibit. There were a lot of cool old videos and posters of things like Vitamin Donuts and also these beet and potted chicken posters - which I wasn't supposed to photograph I was told after taking the second one. Oops

Did you know that Meatless Mondays started back in the early 1900s? During World War I, the Food Administration under Herbert Hoover promoted “Wheatless Wednesdays” and “Meatless Mondays.” If you haven't caught the exhibit left you still have time but don't wait too long, it closes January 3rd!

While Remi was visiting this past week I was sure to take him to the National Mall to see our monuments and visit a museum or two. Surprisingly, the places he wanted to visit were places I hadn't even been myself. We went to see the Supreme Court, spent an hour or two in the American History Museum and went inside the Library of Congress.

Muppets at the American History Museum

I had no idea how beautiful the inside of the Library of Congress would be and when we came out at closing we were rewarded with a beautiful DC sunset over the Capitol.

In truth I'm looking forward to the cold season a bit because I plan to visit all the museums and have them all to myself! Once the tourists empty out of the city I'll be able to walk around at my leisure and visit more places I haven't explored.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Somewhere New: Fallingwater

For the month of November I had a companion for my Somewhere New project. Remi, a friend I made while teaching English in France came to visit me for the week of Thanksgiving. Pretty much everything we did last week, aside from visiting with my family was new for me as well as him.

During our week we went to Fallingwater just outside of the town of Ohiopyle. Frank Lloyd Wright built this house for the Kaufmann family in the late 1930's. Unfortunately you can't take pictures inside but this house was really quite unique and modern, even by today's standards. It's actually on the Smithsonian's Life List of places to see before you die.

There were windows that were built into the corners of houses so that when you opened them the who corner of the house stood open to the wilderness and waterfall surrounding the house. The fireplace in the main living room was built around a boulder. Literally. The boulder is the hearth. Oh and the master bedroom, which was really Mrs. Kaufmann's room (they had separate rooms, smart couple!) had this awesome row of window boxes on the inside of the widow to the bathroom. I really recommend visiting the house for yourself because there are all sorts of amazing things he did there. Another fun fact, the Kaufmanns had a weenie dog!

It rained during our trip but it really just made for a better waterfall and a smaller crowd of people.

Look out for next months Somewhere New!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Where to Eat Vegan: Veggie Galaxy

While in Boston for my weekend away I made sure to eat at both Veggie Galaxy and Veggie Planet. Both are owned by the same people but have their own specialties and vibes.

Veggie Planet in Harvard square boasts some of the best pizza in town and has been serving up pies since 2001. Cool note on their crust- according to their website their crust is organic and is made by Haley House Bakery Cafe which is a non-profit that fosters economic independence for underemployed men and women in the community. I had a lovely brunch there complete with tofu scramble and house-made cheese as well as thick hand-cut slabs of tempeh bacon. While happily munching away I was serenaded by a live vocalist and learned that at night the floor gets turned over to Club Passim

Veggie Galaxy is actually brand new! This tasty diner has been open about two months and already they've been named the Best Vegetarian in the Weekly Dig’s Dig This Awards poll. I've always been a sucker for diner food and vegan diner food is no exception! Milkshakes, omelets, pancakes, melts, onion rings, baked mac and cheese, and all the pies, cake and puddings you could ask for. I was in heaven. Drool over their menu for a bit before you make a decision and save room for their dessert. Their Taza chocolate layer cake is a local slice of decadence.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Feast at Poplar Springs

Today was a gorgeous day filled with food, friends and adorable animals. I'm sooo glad I found out about Poplar Springs in time to make it to the vegan Thanksgiving potluck. I've started volunteering there with my brother and while our job consists of scooping up poop and distributing fresh hay it does allow us some play time with the animals.

After a few little hiccups (Pang got repremanded for calling it a farm and not a sanctuary which is actually my fault because I call it "the farm" because it's shorter than "the sanctuary") we settled into a cozy picnic on the grass and flat out stuffed ourselves. Some of our favorites were the curry samosas, the spicy asian noodles, the veggie lasagna, some amazing mashed potatoes, yummy sauteed kale and of course the cashew mac and cheese. We piled out plates high with dessert as well and I must say, I think my chocolate beet cake went over pretty well! Can't wait for next year!

Reuse: Recipe Books and Doodle Pads from Used Menus

So at the moment I work at a restaurant in old town Alexandria. It's a ten minute walk, it's not my dream job but it's flexible, they have their own farm and the people are nice. One thing that erks me a lot though is that we don't recycle. Not only that but we use heavy card-stock for our menus and then after one use for a banquet they get tossed. So - little pack rat that I am - I've been saving them and making something useful and pretty.

I cut the menus in half. Hole punch them twice and then tie them with ribbon that I have squirreled away from past projects. This book I made for Rachel before her Africa trip. I used a vintage postcard as the cover and glued the plastic sheet on so she could take the postcard out and read the back still.

They're rather simple and I may jazz up the design some. Make hardback covers maybe and sew them into it. But I also kinda like how simple they are. The other side of the paper of course is printed with menu items so only one side can be used for writing but you could certainly draw or paste clippings to the menu side. I figure, even if they get used for grovery store lists its better that then just throwing them away. BUT I do hope some will be used a long time. Like the one above that I plan to write all the Thanksgiving recipes in and give to my mom so she can remake our vegan feast in the future :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where to (Tr)Eat Vegan: Taza Chocolate Factory - Somerville, MA

Sometimes a girl needs a treat. Lots of them. Every day. I'm trying to talk my taste buds out of craving sweets before and after every meal but well...girl's just wana have fun. I'm not a chocoholic or anything but I can tear through some brownies or a chocolate bar when given the chance so I was super pleased to fall upon Taza while I was staying in Somerville. The chocolate factory happen to be right in my friend's backyard practically and because I was there during Halloween weekend I got to partake in the Dia de los Meurtos celebration at the factory.

Know what's great about Taza? This stone ground, certified organic, bean to bar goodness is all vegan! Yay! Plus their process leaves the nutrients of the chocolate intact. That's right I said nutrients and chocolate together. Here's what they have to say: Our chocolate contains many of the vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health, including iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and the vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E. And chocolate has more magnesium than any other food." That's all I need to hear.

For only 5 bucks a person, with one dollar of that going directly towards Sustainable Harvest International you can tour the factory and see chocolate being made on their vintage machines. If you live too far away you can take a virtual tour but you'll miss out on the free chocolate samples.

In March Taza and Cotton Tree Lodge in Belize will be introducing Chocolate Week. A whole week of exploring chocolate from the tree to your chocolate bar..and did I mention it's in Belize? Yeah...

They also have recipes on their website. I seriously want to try their guajillo chili chocolate mexicano cupcake recipe!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Somewhere New: Boston

So last month I decided to travel more. Everyone says this I guess but I wanted to be serious. So I made myself a little rule: Every month I will go somewhere new. Granted - some months I wont have the funds or the time to go away for a weekend but even if all I can manage is a day trip I'm going to keep to this idea. So for the month of October I chose to run away to Boston. Or Somerville to be more accurate.

Since I was here over the Halloween weekend there was lots of spooky things being offered. The Armory was offered a viewing of of the 1922 black and white silent movie Nosferatu with a live orchestra playing the accompanying music. This was my first time seeing the film and I loved it (although I was reading the book Dracula over the weekend and my brain kept doing that annoying thing where it picks out differences between the two).

The highlight of my second day was walking around taking pictures and going to the dia de los muertos festival at the Taza chocolate factory.

I really wanted to take this weekend to explore things on my own and work on my street photography a little. I ended up having the perfect weekend, eating amazing food and getting to know my old high school friend Colleen again. I can't wait to share where I go next month!