Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bar Parete Zebrata, Dro, Italy

As many of you know, I go overseas for one reason only -- to BASE jump. I end up in somewhat remote areas sometimes worried about the vegan fare. But, I'm usually pleasantly surprised. One of my favorite discoveries was the BASE jumper cafe that is right in the area that we land our parachutes at the base of Monte Brento (Mount Brento) in Dro, Italy.

To my delight, I discovered that Bar Parete Zebrata offers one vegan croissant each morning! Clearly labeled as "vegana," I quickly snatched one up to try it and it was delicious. Fresh and flaky and filled with some sort of jam, it was fantastic.

For lunch, there isn't anything on the menu that is vegan, but they did have a vegetable sandwich that I ordered without the cheese. The Vegetale sandwich is made with thinly sliced roasted vegetables including eggplant and lettuce on fresh French bread. It was really good.

Accompanying this meal was a nice glass of local Italian wine, which is always cheap and good.

Needless to say, I'll be back here again next year as it's the only cafe/bar at the base of the mountain. Now, back to wingsuit BASE jumping!

Bar Parete Zebrata
Statale per Trento
Loc. Gaggiolo, 4
38074 Dro (TN)
0464 507 146

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Veganima, Arco, Italy #2

After having such a good experience at Veganima, one of the vegan restaurants in Arco, Italy, last year, I headed straight back there as soon as I got into town!  On a Sunday evening, this restaurant was packed and we were excited to see what was on the menu that day.

Veganima offers a different menu every day and the only way to know what is on the menu is to show up. They pride themselves on all-vegan, organic food. You can choose a plate based on how many items you want to try. I went with three. With so many choices of hot and cold dishes, it was very difficult to choose, but I finally did.

The pumpkin gnocchi with bechamel sauce was, by far, my favorite. Tender, fresh, sauteed gnocchi with creamy rich bechamel sauce left me wanting more. The barley salad made with zucchini, beans, and chickpeas drenched in a rich pesto came in a close second. At this point, I was glad it was not an unlimited buffet. The chickpea cakes with veggies were also quite good.

My friend got the gnocchi and chickpea cake along with a bunch of other things including a shredded vegetable salad and a beggar's purse.

For dessert, I had chocolate mousse with pistachios -- yum! And my friend had a tiramisu-style mousse.

We enjoyed it all outside in the courtyard by the ice cream cart with the birds singing. It was very pleasant.

I also love the vegan artwork, which makes for a fun, lively atmosphere.

All in all, it was another great visit. Can I open a Veganima in DC, please? We need something just like this at home. But, for now, I'll just look forward to visiting again next year. Ciao!

Previous review
January 13, 2017

Viale delle Magnolie 29
Arco (TN)
+39 0464 519764 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cafe Sunflower, Atlanta

When I last visited Atlanta like 10 years ago, the best place to eat was Cafe Sunflower. I remembered this cafe as having exceptional food back then as one of the only vegetarian restaurants in the city and I was excited to come back this time to see if it was as good as I remembered. The cafe has two locations -- we visited the one in Buckhead.

The dining room is quite casual with simple chairs and tables. The lighting and artwork make it really pop though.

The first time me and my friend went, it was for lunch. I was disappointed to see that the menus are entirely different for lunch and dinner because the fancy stuff was on the dinner menu. But, we made the most of it. Most of the food is vegan, but they do offer some dairy cheese as an option on some dishes. I started with a tasty Angel Greens juice. Made fresh with kale, celery, ginger, lemon, cucumber, apple juice, it was just what I needed to jumpstart my day.

For an appetizer, we started with the Buffalo Lollipops. Despite its humorous name, these soy chicken drumsticks coated in housemade buffalo sauce were amazing. The vegan blue cheese dressing was great as well. Wow.

For my lunch, I ordered the Quinoa Avocado Burrito. It was simple, fresh, and delicious. Unlike many other places that skimp on the avocado, this burrito was loaded with avocado as well as quinoa, steamed spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes in a spinach tortilla with chipotle aioli dipping sauce.  It was very, very filling. This dish came with a mushroom barley soup and a nice salad as well. All of it was very good.

My friend ordered a special -- the Taco Salad. This bowl was filled with mixed greens, avocado, black beans, radish, chorizo with bell pepper, pico de gallo, Daiya cheese, and chipotle sauce. He loved it.

After that experience, we came back with friends for dinner. We started with an Artichoke Spinach Dip and more of the Buffalo Lollipops. Both were a hit among these non-vegans. I didn't think the dip was all that great, but everyone else did!

For my entree, I ordered the Chimichurri Seitan Steak. It was so good. Layers of grilled seitan were doused with chimichurri sauce over a cauliflower potato mash and served with asparagus.

One friend ordered the Orzo Egpplant Lasagna and this one was fantastic as well. Layers of baked portobello mushoom, eggplant, zucchini, roasted red pepper, spinach, and tofu ricotta orzo pasta made up this masterpiece. The slow-roasted shallot marinara and grilled asparagus on top were just the icing on the cake.

Another friend has the Fettucini Alfredo special, which was okay, but not great.

Another friend had the Sesame Soy Chicken dish and loved it. I did not try it, but it looked great.

Between the two visits, I give this restaurant an A+. The service was fantastic on both visits and the atmosphere is lively. The entrees are quite pricey at $19 to $22 each, but the food was great overall. If you are in Atlanta and are looking for a casual restaurant with great food, this is the place.

Cafe Sunflower
2140 Peachtree Road
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 352-8859

Cafe Sunflower Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Herban Fix, Atlanta

It isn't often that a restaurant blows me away with superb dishes, but that is the case with Herban Fix. Herban Fix opened in 2015 in Atlanta by Chef Wendy Chang and her partner to bring vegan pan-Asian to the city.

The restaurant is really nice. With incredibly high ceilings, beige walls, and orange chairs, you get the feeling of a big open space in warm environment. They even have private dining rooms on the second floor.  And I love how they have an open kitchen right in the back so you can watch the chefs at work.

The first night we went there was interesting. Me and my friend ordered two dishes to share.  The first one was the Curried Rice Noodle with Mushrooms and Seasonal Vegetables. It was loaded with broccoli, eggplant, tofu, squash, bean sprouts and green beans. It looked great, but had some odd off-putting taste. Regardless, we ate it, but couldn't identify the weird taste.

We also ordered the Crispy King Oyster Mushrooms Glazed with Sesame Soy Au Jus. This was listed under the entrees, but looked more like an appetizer. The deep fried mushrooms were atop wilted spinach with a delicious sesame sauce and sesame seeds. We loved it.

For dessert, we had the Carrot Cake. Goodness was this good. It had just the right moistness and the icing was rich and delicious. Great presentation too.

I left there satisfied, but I didn't love everything, so we gave it another shot. On the second night, we started with Sesame Ginger Soy Chicken and Shiitake Kebabs.  With green and red bell pepper, the soy chicken and shittake mushroom kebabs were as amazing as they look. It was a great start to dinner.

For my entree, I ordered the Seared Pom Pom Mushroom Steak. Over a bead of greens, they took pom pom mushrooms and formed it into a filet mignon-type dish. It was unbelievably rich and meaty. It's one of the best dishes I've had in a while.

My friend ordered the Soy Beef Noodle Stew with Asian Greens. His dish was as good as mine! Soy beef with noodles, greens, carrots and more in a delightfully tasty broth -- oh my.

And just like that we both got blown away with our food. There was no room for dessert this time. I'm so glad we came back. This restaurant is by far the nicest vegan upscale restaurant in Atlanta. The service was good, prices appropriate at $15 - $20 per entree, and the food was spectacular. Highly recommended.

Herban Fix
565-A Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 815-8787

Herban Fix - Vegan Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Me Jana, Arlington, VA

Me Jana is a Lebanese restaurant that has been open in Arlington, Virginia since 2007, yet I had never heard of it! So, when a friend suggested Me Jana for dinner on a Sunday night, I was excited.

The large restaurant is situated very close to the Courthouse metro station. Inside, it is more elegant than I had expected with dark wooden tables, printed upholstery, and dim lighting. We were seated at a table in the main dining area.  We both ordered glasses of Chardonnay as we perused the menu.

The server did not seem too confident about what was and wasn't vegan so I took him through what I thought could be vegan and he confirmed or denied the items. That was helpful. Later I found that there is a clearly labeled vegan menu online!

We decided to order a bunch of dishes to try them tapas-style. First, we received the Fatteh, which was fried baby eggplant with pine nuts, chickpeas, and garlic (sans yogurt). This dish was my least favorite of them all as it tasted like steamed eggplant. Without the yogurt, perhaps a tahini-based sauce would have made it much better.

Next, we tried the Tabouleh, which was really good. A nice balance of parsley and mint with not too much lemon made this a great, light salad that complemented the other heavy dishes.

The Falafel was good, but a bit too deep fried for my liking. It wasn't bad, but some of the gourmet falafel I've had in DC is definitely better.

The Hummos was great and a nice basic, crowd-pleasing dish we could share with pita.

The Grape Leaves were good as well.

All in all, it was a good experience. The service was good, the food was good, and the prices were reasonable. I think it's a good Lebanese staple in the area.

Me Jana
2300 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 465-4440

Me Jana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato