Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Dodah's Kitchen

With so much good vegan food in DC, how is one to keep up with it all? Well, that's where I come into the picture. I am constantly seeking the next big thing in vegan food so that I can share it with all of you. And I'm very excited to share with you my latest find--Dodah's Kitchen.

Dodah's Kitchen was born just a few months ago in DC by three friends. Dodah had been a vegan cook for her African, Hebrew vegan community in Israel for over 30 years before moving to the states. The cakes made by Dodah's Kitchen are based on a vegan cake recipe from her community that has been expanded and modified. The mac & cheese is her original recipe.

It was the Mac & Cheese that caught my eye. As a lover of all things mac & cheese, when I see a new vegan mac & cheese, I have to try it. The label states that it is plant-based, locally baked, and non-GMO--love it! Oh, and most importantly, the taste--out of this world! Made with just whole wheat macaroni, soy milk, nutritional yeast, Himalayan salt, garlic, and spices, it is reminiscent of the Soul Vegetarian mac & cheese everyone loves so, but a little better. Upon first bite, you'll taste the creamy goodness of cheese wrapped around the macaroni. It is a little oily, but that doesn't take away from the impeccable flavor.

They also make cakes--lots of them! Their Lemon Cake is super fluffy and topped with just the right amount of icing to complement and not take over the cake itself.

I could say the same about the Sweet Potato Cake--super fluffy, but this one could actually use a little more icing. And there's so much cinnamon goodness inside. The ingredients are all natural and include wheat flour, cane sugar, sweet potatoes, water, sunflower oil, hemp milk, baking powder, Himalayan salt, natural flavors, and spices.

Dodah's Kitchen does not have a storefront at the moment. They are selling most of their products for $4.99 each at Yes! Organic Market on 14th Street in DC and they offer catering as well. Their sweet potato pie is slightly more expensive. I'm so excited to have a new vegan player in town and encourage you to try their products! But, be careful, that mac & cheese is totally addictive!

Full Disclosure: Although the products were provided to me at no cost to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Homestyle Vegan Cookbook - Cookbook Review

Homestyle Vegan by Amber St. Peter is filled with recipes that will remind you of the home cooked meals of your childhood. She kept the ingredients in the book simple so that the recipes would be able to be made by anyone. From Apple Cider Donuts and Cinnamon Rolls in the breakfast section to Buffalo Cauliflower Bites and Lobster Mushroom Bisque in the Feed Your Friends section, she does a great job of making everything sound so delectable.

I made two of the recipes in this book. The first one, Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup, is pretty amazing. With just some cashew cream, mushrooms, onions, thyme, and a few other ingredients, you can whip up this creamy soup in no time. This is a fantastic soup to serve friends and family--loaded with umami and love.

The second recipe I made was the Corned Bean Hash, a play on Corned Beef Hash, listed in the breakfast section, but I made it as dinner. After mixing simple ingredients together like red potatoes, kidney beans, tahini, and onion, I had a great tasting dish. The fantastic flavor could be attributed to the mix of tahini and cayenne pepper. It is a very filling and satisfying dish. Double the recipe to get even more!

Other recipes that caught my eye were Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Vanilla Cream Frosting, French Onion Soup, Smoky Potato Salad, and Cauliflower Rice Risotto with Homemade Parmesan.

After testing the recipes, I did feel like there were some things missing so you'll see I fixed my version of these recipes to account for that. All in all though, I think it's a solid cookbook. You can order Homestyle Vegan on Amazon.com.

Full Disclosure: Although the book was provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Rigoni di Asiago - Spreads

One of my fondest childhood memories is eating a Nutella sandwich in the playground. There was something about Nutella. Fast forward to my fabulous, cruelty-free, vegan life nowadays and Nutella is all but a memory. But, in its place is now a fantastic Hazelnut and Cocoa Spread by Rigoni di Asiago.

Rigoni di Asiago is a family-owned company from Italy that produces organically farmed jam and chocolate spreads. After their chocolate spread received the coveted Sofi award for 2017 Best New Product by the Specialty Food Association, I think they got everyone's attention. So, their recent foray into the U.S. food market was clearly noticed and acknowledged.

I had the lovely opportunity to try three of their products: the Fig Fruit Spread, Strawberry Fruit Spread, and Hazelnut and Cocoa Spread. As you can tell, it is the Nocciolata Hazelnut and Cocoa Spread that blew me away. Spread on a fresh baguette purchased just this morning, the balance of hazelnut and chocolate couldn't be more perfect. It was like Nutella, but all natural and even more delicious. With mostly organic ingredients including cane sugar, hazelnut paste, sunflower oil, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin, and vanilla extract, there's nothing artificial in this jar.

The Fiordifrutta Fig Spread was also very good. Made of just figs, apple juice, and pectic, it was the perfect level of sweetness.

Teh Fiordifrutta Strawberry Spread was okay, but I missed some sweetness. Maybe I'm used to sugar-sweetened a bit too much as this is only apple juice sweetened and, obviously, much healthier than your typical spread.  They say they make the only three-ingredient fruit spreads on the market.

They even make a low-glycemic sweetener made from organic apples.

As this company has been infiltrating the U.S., I've noticed their products in my local grocery stores including Yes! Organic Market in DC. If they are not available near you, you can find their products on Amazon here.

You simply must buy the chocolate spread. I promise you won't regret it. Dip strawberries in it while sipping wine in your bubble bath tonight! You know that sounds appealing. :-)

Full Disclosure: Although the products were provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Me Jana, Arlington, VA #2

I'll be spending more time in Virginia than I'd like to, so look for some reviews of Arlington restaurants coming soon. Before I explore any new restaurants, I wanted to go back to Me Jana, a Lebanese restaurant in the Courthouse area of Arlington that I enjoyed eating at once before.

On this particular visit, I brought some colleagues here for a nice, casual lunch. Their menu now has items clearly marked as "vegan" so I was excited about that! Because when it states it is vegan, then it must be vegan, right? Well, hold on.

We started with an order of hummus and pita. It was very good. And it was clearly marked as vegan.

For my entree, I had the falafel salad. Over shredded greens, there were tomatoes, peppers, and three falafel balls. I loved the salad. I will say that the falafel was a little too deep fried for me, but that's not unusual at a Lebanese restaurant.

The service was slow even though we were some of the only people there for the weekday lunch, but as it seemed like a solid restaurant, I came back again.

This time, I asked if the pita was vegan as we were ordering the "vegan" hummus. The server looked at me confused and said that the pita had milk in it. I then also looked confused as I looked at the menu and remarked that the hummus was listed as vegan. He said that the hummus was vegan, but the pita was not to which I asked if the pita was sold separately. He said it wasn't. Clearly, we didn't understand each other. I told him that you can't mark a dish vegan if the entire dish isn't vegan. What if I opened a restaurant and marked a wrap as gluten free because the wrap was gluten free even though it was filled with seitan (gluten). Yeah...no. It was totally unacceptable and he clearly didn't care.

At the same time, while we were ordering, the server remarked that he liked my colleague's sweater and proceeded to touch it. She was offended at that and didn't understand why he had to touch it. The whole interaction was just weird.

Well, we decided to eat our lunch there anyway. I ordered the tabbouleh, which I figured was safe. When I ordered the tabbouleh, the server asked if I wanted to add salmon or chicken. Um, no. Did we not just have a conversation about how I don't eat animals? My colleagues were appalled and I was ready to leave. We reluctantly finished our meal, but then he wouldn't come back to give us our check. After like 20 minutes, we had to flag him down.

Everything about this was wrong. You can't label a meal on a menu as vegan if it isn't. You shouldn't be touching customers. And you should listen to your customers. I do not recommend this restaurant. Do not go here.

Previous Review
July 6, 2017

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

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Herban Fix, Atlanta #2

I was absolutely blown away by Herban Fix last year, so when we booked a trip to Atlanta to visit friends for the New Year's Eve weekend, we made reservations to eat there on New Year's Eve! Surprisingly, I was able to get reservations the night before NYE!

Herban Fix is an upscale vegan restaurant. The outside of the restaurant is elegant with its topiaries and plants. The inside is nice, but always feels a bit stale to me. I think that the high ceilings and seating on a second floor makes the atmosphere a bit ampitheater-like. Although everything inside the restaurant is very nice--from the orange seats to the open kitchen. It really is beautiful.

As there was a prix fixe menu this evening, we were spared having to choose from their amazing extensive vegan menu. We just chose a bottle of tempranillo, then the dishes started appearing.

First up, was a sampler plate that had three different items on it. The vegetable spring roll was very fried, but quite good. The sushi roll with brown rice was also quite good. But, the crispy eggplant with mashed pumpkin was by far my favorite. The sauce was sweet yet savory.

Next up, was a vegetable dumpling stew complete with some type of fake meat. It was spicy hot and delicious!

Our favorite course by far was the entree. Oh my goodness. Pan seared spicy lemongrass tofu was topped with a pan seared soy fish in curry broth. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a big fan of fake fish, but the tofu was superb and the fish was flaky and crisp while the sauce complemented it all. It was perfect.

Lastly, they served a vegan flan with mixed berries and ice cream. The green tea ice cream was good, but neither of us liked the flan. So, we ordered chocolate ganache cake instead and it was to die for.

The prix fixe was $45 per person and in the end we spent nearly $180 with wine, but it was so worth it. This is the best meal I've had in a while and the best service I've had in a while too. Herban Fix--I'm so impressed with you. Please open one of these in DC. We would love you here.

Previous Review
July 13, 2017

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, January 11, 2018

Vegan Meals on United Airlines

It's the beginning of 2018, which makes me reflect on 2017 and all the adventures I've taken. There have been a lot! From BASE jumping off cliffs in Moab, Utah to wingsuit BASE in Italy and Switzerland, and back to subterminal BASE off low cliffs in Zakynthos, Greece, I've traveled the world and back. And it's been mostly on United Airlines.

I am pleased to report that United Airlines is very vegan friendly. I've had some pretty good meals this year on United. When choosing meals on United, the code you want to see is VGML -- that will get you a vegan meal in any class cabin you take. Here are some of the highlights of my vegan meals over the past few months.

On my trip to Greece, I had roasted veggies with rice and steamed carrots and broccoli, which was great. There was a tomato and cucumber salad that is so much better than the iceberg lettuce that I've received so many other times. And fresh fruit with pineapple and oranges, etc.

On my trip home from Greece, I had an Indian dinner with spiced cauliflower, chickpeas, and white rice, a roll with vegan Smart Balance margarine, salad with lemon, and Lucy's chocolate chip cookies. It was pretty tasty!

From Amsterdam to home, there was a sandwich with grilled zucchini that was given as an in-between meal that was also pretty good.

For my meal on the Amsterdam flight, I had a delicious Indian meal with creamy black lentils, rice, and spinach, and black-eyed peas. There was a salad with herb vinaigrette, and German bread with margarine. It was one of the best meals I had this year on an airline.

United--you've done a good job with your airline meals. I look forward to flying the friendly skies with you all this year, VGML-style.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

DC Harvest, DC

I'm back! After a bit of a hiatus BASE jumping all around the world, I'm back for a few weeks. It is bitter cold here with highs in the single digits and it feels like a great time to get caught up on restaurant reviews! I'll start with DC Harvest.

DC Harvest opened in 2014 in the H Street corridor. One of the owners, Jared Ringel, reached out to me to ask if I would review the restaurant. I'm not often asked to review a restaurant by the owner, so why not?!

So, on a Monday night a few months ago, I met a friend for dinner at DC Harvest. An unassuming, old, white and green row house sits on H Street. The sign outside the restaurant doesn't really match the decor inside the restaurant. In fact, although it matches the restaurant name, it looks a bit cheesy and not like it feels on the inside--this is where I think there is a bit of a disconnect because when you walk in, although it is a small place, you realize this could be a really nice place. With its nice bar with white granite top to its quaint dining room, this place has some definite promise.

I immediately found Mr. Ringel behind the bar and he showed us to our table. It's a small restaurant--smaller than I had expected with less than 10 tables. The lighting is dark, the walls are white, and the bar area is quite large. On this particular night, all of the tables were full at one point--not bad for a Monday night.

Mr. Ringel stopped by to explain the menu and pointed out which items were either vegan by design or could be made vegan. I started with the Friendly Fire drink made with cilantro-infused blanco Mezcal, tangerine juice, lime juice, gomme syrup, cilantro, and grilled jalapenos. Yum!

A bowl of pickled vegetables were dropped off, which consisted of a few carrots, a few celery sticks, a pickle, and a lone green bean. It looked a little sad and empty.

We started with an order of the Fried Green Tomatoes made with pea shoots, charred eggplant puree, and lemon vinaigrette. We thought they were nicely breaded and enjoyed the puree--nice pairing.

Next, we shared the Sauteed Summer Greens made with walnuts, currants, and spring onions. It was fantastic.

For my second drink, I tried the War of the Roses made with four roses yellow label bourbon, gomme syrup, peychaud aperitivo, rhubarb, and dry vermouth. Very nice.

Lastly, for my entree, I had a housemade fresh pasta made with okra, tomatoes, and walnuts. The pasta was so fresh and the veggies amazing. I loved it!

Unfortunately, none of the desserts were vegan. Other vegan items on that seasonal menu included tomato and watermelon salad, summer greens, and smoked broccoli. As the menu is seasonal and I'm a bit late in posting this, it has already changed, but the waitstaff is happy to tell you what can be made vegan outside of what is already labeled as vegan on the menu. They are currently open for brunch on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as well as dinner every night of the week.

Overall, I'm excited that a small restaurant like this has so many vegan offerings and I love that the menu is seasonal as you can try something new every season! The food was good, the drinks were fantastic, and prices on the high side. I'd recommend this as a great option for those looking for a fun brunch, a dinner for a special occasion, or as a higher priced regular weekly meal. Bon appetit!

DC Harvest
517 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 629-3296

DC Harvest Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Full Disclosure: Although the meal was provided to me at no cost to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.