vegan

Cafe Gratitude – Vegans are People Too

by Franklin on February 6, 2015

Super Bowl is a day of feasting, and not in the sense of a holiday meal, but in a snacking and binge eating sense. We Americans put down nearly 30 million pounds of chips and over a billion chicken wings. A single chicken can only make four pieces of chicken wings — that calculates to 250 million chickens. Not to mention all of the avocados, burgers, pizzas, beer, nuts, pretzels, nachos, hot dogs, and whatever people eat on Super Bowl Sunday, its a lot of food.

Sometimes putting the Doritos down and putting something good in your body is refreshing. Cafe Gratitude is just what you need after a gorge fest of junk food — vegan/raw. Their food is clean, healthy, and at least for me, something I will rarely eat or enjoy. Ultimately, for a vegan meal, I thought it was great but not something I’d switch over to.

The “COMMUNITY” was a warm dip of spinach and baby artichoke. The choice of toasted gluten-free buckwheat crackers was a poor one as the crackers were just terrible. I mean, a vegan would probably love them, but the taste, texture and smell was something I wasn’t used to. The crostini bread was a little more what I was used to. The spinach and artichoke dip was healthy. No globs of cheese or mayo — just good and healthy veggies and some kind of vegan cream sauce. It was guiltless and somewhat tasty.

The “VIVACIOUS” were baked kale chips. These were more my kind of vegan snack. The baked kale was very crisp and one would think they were fried in oil. They had good texture and taste, especially dipping in the choice of garlic tahini, cashew nacho cheese, or creamy salsa verde dipping sauces.

The “BOUNTIFUL” was a baked gluten-free pasta. I guess it was the closes thing to mac and cheese. Their quinoa shells were crisp and almost crunchy. The roasted eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, and spinach gave the dish a lot of needed flavor. The almond basil bechamel was not creamy, but gave it enough sauciness to keep me interested — and the Brazilian nut parmesan gave the fake dish of mac and cheese seem cheesy. This was a great rendition of a classic mac and cheese, and though it was all vegan, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

The “AWESOME” was an eggplant parmesan panini. The Herb-cornmeal crusted eggplant was tasty and hearty. The absence of meat was almost forgotten. The grilled panini bread soaked up the marinara sauce and the cashew ricotta really tasted cheesy. The addition of tomatoes, Brazil nut parmesan, arugula, and basil gave the sandwich a lot of flavor and depth. A side of country style potatoes made this a very fulfilling dish. It was the least vegan of all of them, so I guess that makes sense.

I never wanted meat more than during this meal. I hardly often eat vegan, but when I do, I feel a little better about myself. After a binge of potato chips and ribs and chicken wings, sometimes, this kind of healthy stuff is needed. I don’t foresee myself eating vegan anytime soon, but if so, I suppose Cafe Gratitude can do me right.

Cafe Gratitude on Urbanspoon

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Crossroads – A Rant by a Voracious Carnivore

by Franklin on July 22, 2013

Have you ever been tricked by a restaurant? I have. Many times actually. Though I wouldn’t say Crossroads, the all vegan Mediterranean restaurant duped me, I felt like I did. (I don’t have anything against those who are vegan, or those who have dietary needs of gluten free foods. I don’t want to offend anyone here, but this is more of my issue. I mean, if you are a vegan, I guess this is just the post for you. Trust me, there aren’t lots of posts like this for you. Anyways, back to my rant.) Not only was their Dine LA menu wrong online, but I had no idea going in that the restaurant was all vegan. I guess the latter part of that rant was my fault, but man oh man was I surprised. My logic was, a 5 course meal for $25 — that was a legit deal. To my surprise, they only offered a 4 course, and all were vegan dishes and portioned out smaller than normal. Honestly, I had reservation to The Spice Table, and blew it off for Crossroads — a lot more of a drive, but at the time, I thought it was worth it. The next night, I went to The Spice Table and my angst was all gone.

First course:
I love kale, and this kale salad was good, but I wish I had more of it. Just because it’s Dine LA, doesn’t mean you can just give a taste. I like that the pine nuts gave a good crunch and currants gave some sweetness. With a lemon thyme vinaigrette, the salad was very intense. Each bite gave you a little shock and woke you up.

The Pee wee potato salad was interesting. The Haricot Verts were crunchy and baby arugula gave it depth. The whole grain mustard was a good addition, but the tarragon vinaigrette was too obscure for me. I guess they needed to impart flavor somehow.

With the appetizers being so small, by appetite just grew exponentially. If they aren’t going to give me a 5 course meal, I guess I was going to have to make it that way. We ordered the artichoke oysters which were off the Dine LA menu. These were kind of cool to look at and cleverly plated. The artichoke acted as the oyster shell. A fried oyster mushroom sat on op of artichoke puree and a yellow tomato béarnaise sauce. On top sat kelp caviar. I mean, the whole thing looked better than it tasted, but it was interesting to see how the chef creatively created something oyster-like without any.

2nd Course
The wood roasted okra was my favorite of all the things I ate that night. First off, I want to say that okra is actually my top 5 worst vegetables on my list. However, the way they prepared it was magical. It had a nice crunch to it and the sweetness from the calabrese peppers and tart from pickled ramps and Spanish sherry vinegar was an amazing mixture. The crunch from the Marcona almonds finished everything off.

The spiced chickpeas was a bit uninspired. The oven dried tomatoes and parsley had a nice spice to it. I liked the garlic whip on top of the dish. It was creamy and had lots of flavor, and the spice was an added kick that helped as much as it could. At the end of the day though, I felt like I was eating tomato sauce mixed in with chickpeas. This needed cheese or some kind of cream sauce, which I guess is not allowed.

3rd Course
I don’t know how Pappardelle Bolognese is on the menu at a Mediterranean restaurant, but it is, randomly. The 3ish noodles of pappardelle were chewy and over cooked. The bolognese was just tomato sauce. That is all.

The scaloppini piccata was pretty good for being meatless. The picatta was a dredged and fried slices of protein “meat.” The piccata was zesty and flavorful. The caper and lemon sauce mixture was a bit too sour, but the creamy sauce and the meatless meat was a good combination. Again though, this was the main dish, but there was too little of it.

4th Course
The chocolate ganache tartlet was surprisingly awesome. I like eating the mildly sweet spiced caramel popcorn on top. The mascarpone and chocolate went nicely together. The tarlet with the chocolate ganache was rich and imparted deep flavor.

Their sorbet was also good. The cucumber lime made a nice balance of not too sweet flavors. The cucumber essence really shined in this sorbet. The candied watermelon rind on top was subtly sweet and delicious.

At the end of the day, I can’t be mad. Though they did switch up the menu last minute, I chose the restaurant on my own. The restaurant inside is exquisite — classy chic with a bit of comfortable. The servers and staff were all nice, though it was a little slow that night. Honestly, this may be a rant from a voracious meat lover, but any vegan or anyone staying away from gluten could appreciate this restaurant. This just wasn’t for me.

Crossroads on Urbanspoon

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It was Good Friday yesterday.   It was also Earth Day.  That meant no beef, no chicken, no pork.  Shucks.  This also meant no driving to work, recycling all of your trash, and free coffee at Starbucks.  Though I didn’t walk to work, I did eat at Rutabegorz.  These guys are serious about going green.  As much as they are conscious about the environment, they have a hefty vegetarian friendly menu.  This poor carnivore was not happy.

We started off with the 41 cents Earth Day Delight Dip.  It was a blend of cream cheese, almonds, mango chutney, curry, and cranberries.  At first I got the cream cheese flavor, then the nutty texture, sweet fruit, and the kick from the curry.  At first it was a bit odd, but I loved it in the end — the curry needed a bit getting used to.  And why 41 cents?  They were celebrating their 41 years in business.

I tried the boca veggie chili burger and the Mexican Cesar salad.  This burger was humongous, but no size or soy patty is going to fool me!  Don’t get me wrong, the thing was delicious.  Melted cheese, red onions, bean chili, and the soy protein all mixed forming an open faced sandwich in front of me was a task.  It was messy, and it was filling.  The way I look at it, it made me appreciate meat a little more.

The best was the salad, hands down.  My favorite cheese was in there — feta!  That’s all you really need to keep me happy — all you need to get me to eat salad.  I loved the crunch of the tortilla chips and the bite of the pepitas were so mouthful.  You won’t see me eating a lot of salad, but if anyone can make me, it’s Rutabegorz.

Boy do I miss meat.  Eating like a vegetarian is like giving a T-Rex twigs for breakfast.  Eating a boca burger is like giving a great white shark a human shaped blob of seaweed.  Eating like a…well, you get the idea.  Despite my animalistic ways, I enjoyed my time at Rutabegorz — I get them.  They are all about the environment and vegetarian eating.  They aren’t like a bunch of hippies serving food and saving the world.  They are passionate about what they do and they surely found their niche in the Orange County.

Rutabegorz (Fullerton) on Urbanspoon

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