Monday, November 30, 2009

Clatite cu Ciuperci; Salata de Castraveti

[[Or: Crepes with Mushrooms and Cucumber Salad. Namely Smoky Shiitakes from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz; crepes from the Vegan Yum Yum Blog; and Chilled Cucumber Salad from 1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson.]]

I grew up eating crepes; called clatite in Romania, they were one of the most prevalent and beloved foodstuffs of my childhood, rivaled only by gris cu gem (a sort of fine-milled porridge with fruit jam, lovingly decorated by my grandmother with whatever picture or word I requested -- usually the name of a favorite character, say, Shenzi).

Now, I know my crepes. My grandmother knows her crepes. My entire family knows their crepes. We've eaten them with jam or chocolate sauce or mushrooms our entire lives. My grandmother practically raised us on the stuff. Devouring them one after another, rolled up and dripping with sweet goodness is one of my fondest childhood memories.

So you bet I was delighted to make them myself for the first time—and even more delighted to discover they're just as delicious cruelty-free. I made them twice for my family (with my grandmother's clatite-master pouring skills to help) and they loved them. The Smoky Shiitakes are the perfect filling. Liquid Smoke. It's like liquid gold, but better. I don't think I'll ever forget the moment I first tasted these shiitake. I went weak in the knees. Everyone I've since fed them to has had the same reaction. I can't ever seem to make enough, either. Spare yourself the trouble and quadruple the recipe. Even if you're alone. Yarly.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nut Cutlets; Cranberry Chutney; Sesame Spinach

Quick but elegant dinner for four omnivore guests; read all about it right here. It was a smashing success, and the spinach is positively to die for-- or, well, marry. Read about it, go on.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

French Onion Pie with Spinach, Fuji Apple and Dates Salad

I couldn't have hoped for a more elegant lunch to serve four omnivore guests than the French Onion Pie from Coleen Patrick-Goudreau's book The Vegan Table.

Served with the equally elegant Spinach Salad with Fuji Apple and [Dates] (originally figs) from Robin Robertson's book 1,000 Vegan Recipes. (Read about the beautiful salad in greater detail here.)

The pie was creamy, flavorful, and in every regard stunning. In a word, impressive. I daresay my guests were speechless.

Agave Baklava

Agave Baklava
from Robin Robertson's 1,000 Vegan Recipes. Read all about it here. Smashing success, this. The book is worth it for this recipe alone.

cookery ahoy!

All right. I cook like a maniac now. And bake like an even bigger maniac. I still travel and all, though. So I'm going to start presenting dishes here. I'm also addicted to buying cookbooks; I've got 20+ and counting, new ones, I mean, never mind the older ones I had around.

I'm also obsessive. I suffer from what's known as Gotta-Catch-'Em-All Syndrome. It involves needing to catch them all. In this case, cook/bake them all. So I'll be working through my cookbooks; all of them; every recipe; eventually. Right now I'm involved in...

COOKING FROM 1,000 VEGAN RECIPES (a book by Robin Robertson) with five other friends. So I'm focusing on that book.

But anyway there are others; plenty of dessert ones, too... I can't refuse a dessert book when I see it. In fact, I've been known to make purchasing decisions on general cookbooks on the basis of one tempting dessert recipe alone. Hey, we all have our standards. Mine are high and sweet. And high on sweets.

So expect to see a photo and a tiny blurb every now and again. And in between, reports on this restaurant or that from that country or the other.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

new times are afoot

This place will get a jolt back to life soon, with more cooking. Because cookery, I've recently found, produces upon my face a grin bigger than the Cheshire Cat's.

Until then, here are some photos of TASTY SWEETS I MADE. NOM NOM NOM NOM.

Also check out the project I started with five friends: COOKING FROM 1,000 VEGAN RECIPES (a massive cookbook by Robin Robertson.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Vegan Berlin - Teil 3

Cafe V's chickpea polenta, a delicious island in a sea of creamy curry sauce, neighbors an island of almond raisin spinach; the traveler will not be disappointed with these exotic delights -- both will be devoured by even the most relaxed of visitors within seconds, after which the sea itself can be blotted out with the use of the tender, piping hot bruschetta-in-the-center bread provided.

Seriously, this meal, enjoyed one sunny morning in Prussia's once-capital was one of the most wonderful I've had the pleasure of sampling. From my seat outside I could see Tanne B, the ice cream spot mentioned in the previous post, and a street over awaited Veni Vidi Vegi, an all-vegan grocery store. Cafe V serves fish despite calling themselves vegetarian, which means they must've not been paying attention in Biology class when fish were grouped in Kingdom Animalia, but their vegan offerings prove they can stick to definitions quite marvellously in some respects -- their generous selection will delight any herbivore with a palate. (The staff is also very friendly: when I asked the server about a vegetable I didn't recognize, he brought me a slice of it to sample.)

Lausitzer Platz 12
Berlin 10997
+49 30 612 45 05

Maja's Deli is an adorable little all-vegan spot in Prenzlauer Berg, actually a few streets away from Hans Wurst (from the previous post). They offer two different warm dishes every day with your choice of grains and an optional salad, and a la carte sandwiches, salads, and wraps; but really it's all to showcase a magnificent, ever-renewing selection of desserts.

Chocolate truffles, brownies, cookies, muffins, tarts, and cakes are on constant rotation. The first time I came for lunch, three different hot'n fresh delectables were brought out all before I could finish my meal (and I eat fast). So I sampled a lot. Then a week later I returned, and sampled some more. I still only tried a tiny portion of what they had on display; but not to fret -- I'll be back.

The two hot-dish options are generally one white-creamy and one tomato-y, I went for the white-creamy both times; you get a choice of grains, too, rice or barley -- bring on the barley! Both of these went above and beyond expectations. It's simple fare, but I would be perfectly content eating this every lunch for the rest of my life.

The rhubarb muffins were brought out moist and hot, so I had to try them (I've a certain soft spot for rhubarb, I used to eat it raw out of a friend's garden as a child; sometimes her grandmother made a sweet soup out of it too). There may've been cinnamon involved and some fruit. They were good, not mindblowing, though. The bits of rhubarb inside helped. Here, have an unnecessary picture of its innards:

Then there were these huge cookies, bigger than my face, and I had to try them. This is some sort of sugar-nut something. (+) huge; (-) rather dry. I've made infinitely moister, more flavorful cookies and I've only ever made three batches in my life (so far; just you wait, though! I think I'll model some cookies on here soon). Dryness and muted flavor were kind of an issue with the muffin, too. Next time I'll stick to the cakes.

Blueberry cheesecake and mandarin chocolate crumble creme tart. The mandarin cake was much better than the muffin and cookie, not anywhere near as good as the blueberry, though. That thing was everything a blueberry cheesecake should be. Soft and creamy, the sauce just the right amount of sweet with a playful note of tart.

So if you're in the neighborhood, sit down on a cute blue barstool with a bowl of creamy-vegetables-and-barley and a slice of blueberry cheesecake. It'll make your day.

Pappelallee 11
10437 Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany
+49 30 48494851

Next post finishes off Berlin with a display of the hauls at Veni Vidi Vegi and more desserts from around the capital, then after a quick detour through a few more German towns, across the channel to England we go! If you thought Berlin was filled with vegan goods, your mind is about to be boggled.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Vegan Berlin - Teil 2

Good morning! (Pretend it's morning.) Care for some brunch? We find ourselves in the trendy Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood where cute shops and cafes abound; quiet cobbled streets from a bygone era, spared during the war, lead you past stately white facades and towards dainty, quiet parks. Or towards delicious vegan eats! Hans Wurst (no wurst!) is an all-vegan cafe-restaurant-club, depending on the time of day; sometimes there's music. It's small and cozy, the weekend brunch is delicious, and there are always a number of cakes on hand.

If you get there at the right time, one will just be coming out of the oven -- is that strawberry poppy I spy? Such a heavenly combination must be sampled!

It's so cute and cozy that you'll want to come back for dinner -- oh, and you won't regret it. Look around yourself, look outside, pick out something from the changing, in-season menu.

How about a little broccoli soup? Or a lot. It's deliciously creamy and if you've got any affinity for the taste of broccoli, you'll be in floret-heaven. Just the right level of viscosity, you couldn't ask for a better soup to dip some hearty dark German bread into. Or spoon daintily like a lady, the choice is yours!

What shall we have now? Seitan Steak, hmmm. Why not? The guy sitting at the tables outside just got one and it looks divine. And then, it comes...

Where has this been all my life? This was without a doubt the juiciest, most melt-in-your-mouth, just-the-right-amount-of-succulence, full-flavored piece of edible I've ever had the pleasure of chewing. A shame I can't feed this to everyone alive. It would shut off the death-trade within moments.

So go here, go here often. If you want brunch, hit up their scrumptious buffet. If you want dessert, stop by whenever. If you've a hankering for a decatent dinner that won't burn holes in your wallet, come by after six. If you want booze, stagger on over in the evenings. Sometimes they have gigs, Hans Wurst also has a foot in the Berlin music scene. Really, come by even if you just want some cute buttons or little handmade trinkets, they've got that, too.

And if you long for a steak that wasn't once part of a living, feeling fellow earthling, buy yourself a plane ticket right now.

There's nothing I would change about Hans Wurst. Except maybe bending time and space so I could eat there whenever I wanted.

Dunckerstrasse 2a
10437 Berlin, Germany
+49 30 41717822

The rest of Berlin in some other post, Hans Wurst deserves its very own.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Vegan Berlin - Teil 1

This fox has a favorite city.

Yes, she loves that culture-bejeweled lady, the proud, the Roman, the Dacian Napoca, Madame Université.

She loves too that mad goddess of the desert, that harlot in a diamond-studded dress who loves the world as they love her, Mizz Vegas.

But that beautiful, that sad; that ugly, that joyous – that phoenix, that chameleon.


There’s only one Berlin, and that is my Berlin.

With your ghosts, your futures, your pasts; with your deaths and your rebirths.

Every time I come, you’ve changed, and still you've remained Fritz’s Berlin, Luise’s Berlin – My Berlin.

Herbivore Fox travels far and wide, but she can't help going back to the city on the Spree.

And lest anyone say that Berlin does not love me back – there are more vegan eats than I know what to do with, even if I have four days to do nothing but walk and eat, which is exactly what I did during this [extended] weekend. There are other places I haven't even tried, so more to come when I visit again [very soon].

All you see below is 100% plant, believe it.

Hazelnut ice cream from Tanne B; they always have a couple of vegan flavors on hand and this hazelnut delight did not disappoint.

Eisenbahnstraße 48
10997 Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany
+49 30 69567811

While we're on the topic of ice cream, there's an even better place in the student quarter of Friedrichshain (where I suggest going for many other treats as well, or just to look around at the great wall art.)

This is what Friedrichshain thinks of cow milk ice cream, so let's turn our attention to less deadly licks.

Caramello Eis is all organic with at least half of their assortment clearly marked as vegan; most of them are amazing fruit creations sporting inventive names. I chose wildberry, peach, and banana (a.k.a. Mowgli); the taste is top-quality and without a doubt the best sorbet-esque stuff I've ever gotten my tongue on. The peach was delightfully tangy with little bits of fruit just waiting to be discovered, the banana sweet and satsifying, and the wildberries bursting with fresh woodland flavor. Perfect treat for a warm summer afternoon in the park. (Sorry about the photo, I couldn't wait to sit down and had at it.) And that plastic? It's not; it's compostable organic material.

Wühlischstrasse 31
10245 Berlin, Germany
+49 30 50343105

While in the neighborhood, Friedrichshain also features Cupcake, a little spot featuring pretty desserts, mostly cupcakes with the occasional apple pie. They generally have one rotating vegan flavor, though the second time I was there they featured vegan apple pie. I tried a cupcake, the vegan featured flavor being "Pretty in Pink" -- vanilla. My bushy tail is firmly planted on the vanilla side of the chocolate-or-vanilla debate, so this was acceptable, though I had seriously hoped for some peanutbutter action (what canine doesn't like PB?). Well, next time. Verdict?: I'm not much of a cupcake eater, in that American-dessert fashion, they tend to be much, much too sweet. I never got the point of hard diabetes-inducing frosting, but the frosting was exactly what any cupcake frosting should be and once I licked that off, the cake part itself was deliciously vanilla-ish, soft and just the right amount of European sweet.

Krossener Strasse 12
10245 Berlin, Germany
+49 30 25768687

Now, while still in the neighborhood, you can grab lunch at YoYo Foodworld, a great little all-vegan fast-food joint with so many options you'll have a hard time narrowing it down to, like, ten. I met up with the Vegan-Berlin group there, then went again myself. This stuff would fool an omnivore; their burgers are exactly what you'd hope for but won't leave you feeling too-much-fat-ingested ill, if you're feeling adventurous you can have burgers with pineapple, or have other fast-food-type sandwiches, breaded, unbreaded, steak-ish, chicken-ish, fish-ish, schnitzel, gyro, sausage, this, that, those, ice cream sundaes, salads, wraps, you name it!

Oh, and there's pizza. I grew up on European pizza (flatter crust, delicately smooth sauce-on-crust action) and YoYo's spinach pizza is potentially the best pizza I've ever had. I had already eaten more than enough that day so my verdict wasn't swayed by hunger. That was some good-eatin' pizza.

That's the Hawaii burger you see there, with pineapple, "ham", and "cheese" along with the patty. Click on the picture for maximum detail. That's right, you can have your juicy pleasures without the deadly speciesism.

Gärtnerstr. 27
10245 Berlin, Germany
(Open from 12-12, so go! GO!)

Caramello, Cupcake, and YoYo are literally a 20 seconds' relaxed walk away from each other, so your best bet is to go for lunch and dessert(s). If you go during the weekend you might even catch the market around the park for clothes, CDs and disks, gas-masks and other assorted crap you'll love going through. Also if you hate all the above but like cute cobble-stone streets, go here.

The next Berlin post will include, among other goodies, maddeningly yummy curried chickpea polenta, a seitan steak so succulently juicy you'll curse the distance, an all-vegan grocery store you'd blow your paychecks at, and of course, more desserts!

Until then, remember: Don't be like this guy, think about what you put into your body!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Good day to you.

Hello, let me introduce myself to yourself. I have quit stealing eggs from the farmer; I quit stealing his chickens long before, but now I’ve gone the extra mile and decided to boycott the whole mess entirely. The roosters tell me it’s working, as his production has gone down, now that my demand isn’t influencing his supply.

Did you know foxes are among the most adaptable of all species? I would say “the most”, but then you may not be assured of my objectivity. Let me assure you that I am no exception to this characteristic of my kind. I thrive on change; I am a nomad fox. The world is my oyster (if I still ate them, anyway) – my passion fruit (if you haven’t yet, I highly recommend trying one). I love every place I den in, whether it’s a den all my own or one I rented out for the night. So it is with love and a light heart (since, after all, I always leave a piece of it behind) that I travel on to the next destination.

At the moment, I find myself in a city on a river, an old university town. They tell me Goethe puked here. Far be it from me to turn down the opportunity to sniff out such a place.

Have you met a verbose fox before? Rest assured that I am indeed verbose, often. A multilingual fox? I have been known to yap in multiple languages, sometimes at once. An herbivore fox? If you have, please let me know – urgently. If not, now you can say that, indeed yes, you have.

I am that rustling in the berry patch.