Friday, September 28, 2012

Green Living Expo 2012, DC

On a beautiful Saturday morning, I thought it would be nice to check out the 4th Annual Green Living Expo in DC put on by Live Green. I had never been before so I figured it couldn't hurt to check it out. The expo took place on the campus of UDC in a courtyard. There were many booths including green businesses, organizations, a couple of food vendors.

Vegan Outreach was there representing, as always.

As was Compassion Over Killing and A Well-Fed World.

I did discover a few new companies/organizations that I hadn't heard of before like EcoWomen, which is a volunteer-run organization that offers networking opportunities for women environmental advocates. They host book clubs, picnics, hiking outings, green living workshops, and speakers. Pretty cool!

I also discovered Relay Foods, which is an online grocery store that allows you to order food from local farms and unique food purveyors, then pick it up at a pick-up location of your choice. They had a lot of cool things that are hard to find in this area. What a great idea!

For lunch, I got to choose between Green Plate Catering and Everlasting Life.  I had never heard of Green Plate and was excited to meet another businesswoman making a career in catering. Although Green Plate isn't exclusively vegetarian or vegan, they do cater to that clientele. I tried their Chesapeake Corn Cake Sliders, Curried No Chix Salad, and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, which were all really good. It's great to know that there is yet another option in DC.

After eating, I walked over to the speakers area and caught the last of the Food Choices and the Environment panel led by John Camp of Vegan Outreach and a representative from Compassion Over Killing. There were many other speakers as well and a cooking demonstration.

It was a nice way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon. Thanks to Live Green for putting this on!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tempeh Reuben with Wildbrine Sauerkraut

Everyone loves a good reuben and it often isn't the "meat" that makes it good -- it's the toppings. From the Thousand Island dressing to the sauerkraut, these are the items that make a difference. It's been a long time since I've made a tempeh reuben so as soon as I received a sample of the Wildbrine Dill and Garlic Sauerkraut salad, I immediately thought that this was the time to revive my long lost love by revising a recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance.

But, first let me just share with you what I've learned about fermented sauerkraut. Sauerkraut has long been touted for its health benefits from being loaded with probiotics and aiding with digestion to helping to boost the immune system. What makes the Wildbrine sauerkraut unique is that it is both raw and naturally fermented without the use of vinegar. The distilled vinegar used to pickle most other sauerkrauts lacks the health benefits as the distillation process pasteurizes and essentially kills the live micoroorganisms that offer most of the health benefits from the lactic acid created during natural fermentation.

Besides the health benefits, the flavors that Wildbrine offers are bold and flavorful. The dill and garlic sauerkraut has just the right balance of dill and garlic without being overpowering and is sure to spruce up any reuben!  This is my take on Isa's recipe.

Tempeh Reuben with Wildbrine Sauerkraut
Makes 4 - 8 sandwiches (depending upon whether you use 1 or 2 slabs of tempeh per sandwich)

  • 8 slices of rye bread
  • 8 tsp nonhydrogenated vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance buttery spread)
  • 1.5 cups Wildbrine Dill and Garlic Sauerkraut
  • 2 dill pickles, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 pound tempeh (2 packages)

For the marinade:
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T tamari
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
 For the dressing:
  • 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Earth Balance Mindful Mayo)
  • 2 T ketchup
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 T minced onion
  • 3 tsp capers
  • 2 T sweet pickle relish
  • A pinch of cayenne

First, prepare the marinade by combining all of the marinade ingredients in a rectangular glass dish. Cut each tempeh block in half, then slice it down the middle lengthwise so that there are 4 equally sized squares.

Place the tempeh in the marinade and marinate for at least an hour, turning once. You could even marinate it overnight.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients together and set aside.

Once the tempeh has marinated for at least an hour, preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the slices on the grill for 4 minutes on one side, until dark grill lines have appeared. Then, flip them over and cook them on the other side for about 3 minutes.

To prepare the sandwich, spread a teaspoon of margarine on each piece of bread. Place the bread on the grill pan and cook the buttered side for 3 minutes, flip over and cook 1 minute more (it's okay that the other side is not buttered).

Then, assemble each sandwich. Place one bread slice on a plate, then top with 1-2 pieces of tempeh, dressing, sauerkraut, dill pickles and avocado, in that order. Top with another slice of bread. Cut in half and serve warm.

You will find that the dressing is a bit runny so keep some aside to dip your sandwich into as some of it will come out. This could turn into a very messy sandwich, but it is very good!

Wildbrine sauerkraut is being sold in natural foods markets across the U.S. including Whole Foods in northern California and MOM's in Maryland and Virginia. To find stores near you, click here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DC VegFest 2012

Wow! -- that pretty much sums up my experience at the 4th Annual DC VegFest. As a festival still in its infancy, I was incredibly impressed at how well organized it was and how many people attended. When I arrived at 10:45 a.m., there was already a line of hundreds of people waiting to get in because the first few hundred people would receive a swag bag filled with goodies!

The weather was beautiful and the vibe was great. There were lots of great speakers including Wendy Rieger from NBC4, Dr. Michael Greger from The Humane Society of the US, and Doron Petersan from Sticky Fingers Sweet & Eats.

Throughout the festival, there were tons of food samples from companies like The Better Bean Co., Soyummi, Cloud 9 Raw Chocolate, Daiya, Gardein, Earth Balance, Gouter, Upton's Naturals, Way Better Snacks, and Mary's Gone Crackers.

There were also food vendors like Bread & Brew, Everlasting Life Cafe, Sweet & Natural, and Vegan Treats, to name a few.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I saw the selection of cakes and donuts at Vegan Treats. I had a pumpkin donut filled with pumpkin mousse and a chocolate lava cake that is one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever had in my life. Unbelievable.

Other retailers like Herbivore and Pangea were selling their wares.

Non-profits like Vegetarian Society of DC, The Kindness Collective, Compassion Over Killing, PETA, Vegetarian Resource Group, and Vegan Outreach were there to educate the masses.

It was such a good time! This festival was a great success and I am already looking forward to next year! Special thanks to COK and VSDC for doing such a great job organizing the event. I'll see you all again next year!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Great Sage, Clarksville, MD #3

Great Sage is an all-vegan restaurant located in Clarksville, MD between DC and Baltimore. Over the past year, I've reviewed it twice -- in my first review, I was disappointed in a special raw meal they were serving as it didn't live up to my expectations and in the second review, the food was fine, but not spectacular. For a restaurant that claims to be the best vegan restaurant in the DC-Baltimore metro area, I expected a bit more. Their menu changes seasonally so I decided to give them another chance at their spring menu and this time they did impress.

I met my mother there for dinner on a Saturday evening at 6 p.m. Although it was a holiday, I never expected them to be so busy at 6 p.m. Every seat in the house was taken with people sitting outside as well. I'm glad to see that they are doing well. I noticed a new Italian wine on the menu and decided to start with that. The Quattro Mani Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (2007) was a full-bodied wine with hints of cherries and blackberries. It was delightful.

My mother had their fresh Sangria and enjoyed it as well. If nothing else, it looked beautiful!

We started with an order of the Raw Beet Ravioli. These delicately sliced and marinated beets were filled with sunflower-pecan-cashew cheese and topped with a micro green salad. They were so good! And the basil pesto was the perfect compliment to this dish.

I requested some bread with olive oil, which they now only serve by request. The waitress said she'd bring some, then forgot, so 10 minutes later, I requested it again. It finally came. It isn't anything special, but it gave us something to munch on as we waited for our entrees to be served.

For our entrees, we both ordered the Hearts of Palm "Crab Cake." I really have no idea how they made this, but I might have to try to make it in the near future. They took grilled hearts of palm and ground them in a food processor then mixed them with bell peppers and raw red onions, formed them into patties, and either fried or baked them into crab cakes. They were stringy just like crab cakes and tasted like them too! There was a delicious tartar sauce on top and a house-made remoulade on the side - both were great complements to the crab cake. The crab cakes were also served over roasted red peppers, wilted arugula, and red onions in a pink peppercorn vinaigrette. Wow.

For dessert, I ordered Great Sage's Famous Carrot Cake. It has been on the menu forever and I never get to order it because Zach doesn't like carrot cake. This was my chance! The slice was huge and delicious. The cake was packed with fresh spices and carrots and had a cream cheese frosting topped with fresh walnuts.  I really couldn't eat much dessert so I just took a few bites, then packed it up to eat at home. I had also asked if they had dessert wines and my waitress told me she didn't know what a dessert wine was. *sigh*

It may not be a fine dining establishment, but this was the best food I'd ever had there. They made incredible improvements to the menu that are worth trying. I would recommend you get out there and try those crab cakes. For $17, they are pricey, but I promise you, you won't regret it.

Previous reviews
June 7, 2011
July 12, 2012

Great Sage
5809 Clarksville Square Drive
Clarksville, MD 21029
(443) 535-9400

Great Sage on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 24, 2012

Natural Products Expo East 2012

The Natural Products Expo shows give me an opportunity to finally meet all of the people whose products I've written about throughout the year and discover new products. The show on the east coast is much smaller than the show on the west coast and, therefore, a bit less stressful. Instead of spending three days hoping I can walk the whole show, I can stroll through it in one day and know I'll be able to see all of the food products. While most manufacturers wait until Expo West to showcase new products, there were still plenty of great new products to see.

Here are my top five picks from Expo East 2012:


  • Earth Balance Sweet Cinnamon and Roasted Garlic & Herbs spreads

More about all of these products soon!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cork & Fork - Wine Education Class Sept 2012 Giveaway Winner!

It is time to announce the winner of an Italian wine tasting and education class for two at Cork & Fork to be held next Wednesday from 7:30 - 9 p.m. And the winner is [drumroll]....Kristin Hughes!

She was one of many people who answered the following question correctly:
Côte Rôtie and Hermitage, both northern Rhone valley growths, are created using which of the same single variety?  The answer was Syrah.

Well, even if you didn't win this one, I'd still recommend you sign up for an upcoming class.  It is a great opportunity to enjoy some great wines and learn all about the viticulture. The next four scheduled classes are as follows:
  • Wednesday, Sept. 26: Italy. $50/person
  • Thursday, Oct. 4: Organic Wines. $50/person
  • Thursday, Oct. 11: Greece. $50/person
  • Thursday, Oct. 18: Lopez Heredia, Spain. $75/person
To read more about them, go to  To reserve a class at the DC store, call (202) 588-5766. 

I hope to see you at one of the classes!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Road's End Organics - Shells & Chreese

Road's End Organics by Edward & Sons started making vegan macaroni and cheese back in 1998. Yep, 14 years ago. This was when vegans had very few choices for faux cheese. Today, we have lots of choices, but I still go back to the old standby Shells & Chreese every so often. I'll admit that the chreese packet may not taste exactly like cheese, but if you go into it knowing it doesn't taste just like cheese, you can enjoy it for what it is -- a great shells and chreese product.

All you do is boil the noodles, then once they are done, drain them and put them aside. Mix the chreese powder with 1/4 cup of soy or almond milk in an empty saucepan off the stove. Add the pasta to the pan and mix well with the sauce, then return the pan to the stovetop and heat for a couple minutes until the chreese thickens. That's it! So easy and so yummy.

You don't need to be an old-school vegan to truly appreciate the nutritional yeast-based cheese. It may be nothing like Daiya, but, it is good in its own right. They make both cheddar and alfredo style chreese sold with noodles or without.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sublime, Fort Lauderdale

For so many years I have heard such good things about Sublime. I dreamed of the day when I would finally visit what I believed to be one of the top vegan restaurants in the U.S.  So when I had the opportunity to go to Tampa, I decided instead to fly into Fort Lauderdale, dine at Sublime, then drive up to Tampa, which was a 5-hour drive. My expectations were high and I was super excited.

Sublime has been touted as the best vegan restaurant in Florida. Owned by Nanci Alexander, this restaurant donates 100% of its profits to organizations that promote animal welfare, which is really remarkable. In 1989, Nanci founded the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida and has been volunteering as president ever since.

When I arrived, I was in awe at the sheer size of this restaurant, but not necessarily in a good way. It was huge. In fact, you had to drive under its arch to get to the parking lot. Inside, the large restaurant had sky-high ceilings, a cascading waterfall, and and colorful artwork. To the right of the entrance, there is a large bar while the rest of the space was used for dining. When I remarked on the size, I guess what I was thinking is that it would have an upscale feel - by the sheer size of the restaurant, even though it was dimly lit, it did not have an upscale feel.

Once I was seated, I took a look at the wine list. It was pretty unimpressive. I didn't recognize many of the wines, but I had the feeling they weren't fine wines. My waitress was very casual in her approach and demeanor. She said she liked the Kaina Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina so I asked if I could try it. I found it to be cheap-tasting. Instead, I ordered the Lamadrid Malbec from Argentina. This was a full-bodied, rich Malbec that was pretty palatable.

An amuse of baked polenta with basil chiffonade was served instead of bread. It was tasty, but really lacked a sauce either on top of it or for dipping. It was pretty dry without one.

My waitress told me that the items on the menu that had a box around them were their signature dishes and she recommended all of them. The appetizer that she recommended though sounded very similar to many other cauliflower dishes that I have had in the past. I wanted to try something different so I ordered the Crispy Eggplant Rollatini. When it arrived, I felt it was a bit sloppy of a presentation. At first glance, it looked nice, but then I realized that the rollatinis were vastly different in length and they appeared to have just been made and placed randomly on this plate. They appeared to have been deep-fried, but when I asked, my waitress said they were pan-fried. Hmmmm...when I tasted them, they tasted deep-fried as well. The eggplant was filled with tofu ricotta and was supposed to have vegan mozzarella somewhere as well, but I never tasted it. In fact, I didn't taste much. The breading was too thick and had too much of a fried taste to even taste the eggplant. The tofu ricotta was fine -- nothing special. The same could be said of the tomato sauce, which tasted like a bad homemade sauce. The basil chiffonade was the same as it as on the polenta. The garlic butter on the side was a nice touch though.

For my entree, I went with the signature dish -- the Mushroom Ravioli. When it came out, I had high hopes as it looked pretty good. These hopes were crushed by the first bite of the dry housemade pasta. I mean, it was really dry -- not moist and fresh the way fresh pasta should be. The mushroom puree and cashew cream inside tasted more like a mushroom pate -- there just wasn't much to it. The slow roasted butter sauce, however, was a nice, light sauce. But, then there was that basil chiffonade again -- I think that was way too much basil chiffonade for one night.

I figured that the one thing all vegan restaurants get right is the dessert so I ordered the Chocolate Nirvana cake. The presentation was quite nice, but the taste left much to be desired. This chocolate cake has to be the driest chocolate cake I have ever had in a vegan restaurant. I mean, it was so dry, I didn't even finish it, which almost never happens. Was it the hot, dry Florida air that dried everything out? Doubtful. It tasted like a chocolate cake that had been sitting in the refrigerator for a week -- that kind of dry.

At one point, the owner, Nanci, stopped by to talk to me. She was incredibly nice. She walked me over to the wall to show me some of the awards she had been presented by PETA, then brought me her media book that showed all the press the restaurant had gotten. She even mentioned that there was a building in DC dedicated in her name. I will have to check that out.

Meeting Nanci made this review even more difficult to write. She is an incredibly nice and caring person and I really appreciate what she is doing for the animals. But, I can not in clear conscience write a positive review about the food. I was incredibly disappointed in the end. This was no Candle wasn't even as good as Native Foods. From what I can tell, it appears the cuisine has been going downhill over the past couple of years. I think at one point, they were one of the top restaurants in the country, but not any longer. I mean they don't even make their own seitan -- instead they serve gardein as their main meat analog. If I want gardein, I'll pick it up at Whole Foods and prepare it the way I like it.  So, in the end, I found the food, service, and ambiance disappointing. I would not recommend going out of your way to visit Sublime.

1431 N. Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304
(954) 615-1431

Sublime on Urbanspoon