Thursday, March 22, 2018

Wildbrine Sriracha

Sriracha--it's the condiment that took the U.S. by storm many years ago and continues to be a crowd favorite. Since the original came out, there have been many companies that have tried to improve on it and many have done so successfully, but now there's a new player in town.

Wildbrine, the maker of so many amazing raw and fermented products, has their own version of sriracha. They call it Probiotic Sriracha because it's made with wild, fermented kimchi and contains naturally occurring probiotics.

The Smoky Jalapeno Sriracha is made with fresh jalapenos, cabbage, Anaheim peppers, cherrywood smoked salt, kale, and vibrant green tomatillos. It's super smoky and spicy and is a great compliment to any Asian dish.

The Spicy Kimchi Sriracha has a sweetness from the cabbage and Fresno peppers along with a kick from the wakame, Korean red pepper, and ginger. You can squirt it on veggies, bowls, tacos--you name it.

Both flavors are a healthy and unique twist on sriracha and I think you'll really enjoy them. Besides who doesn't want to have their sriracha and eat it too?! Look for them in a refrigerated section near you.

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Creamy Rosemary Chickpea Pasta

It's really cold in DC and I was searching for a hearty pasta meal to make at home. My tolerance for hours in the kitchen is waning, so it also needed to be quick and easy. I found all of those things in the Creamy Rosemary Chickpea Pasta recipe in the Pure & Beautiful Vegan Cooking by Kathleen Henry. This is a hearty and tasty pasta dish made with chickpeas, vegan sausage, and fresh rosemary. By using the chickpea liquid, which some now call aquafaba, it helped thicken the sauce and bring heartiness to this pasta dish. Also, the addition of vegan sausages gave it some extra flavor that complemented the nutritional yeast cheesiness and fresh rosemary. This dish is best consumed fresh.

Creamy Rosemary Chickpea Pasta
Serves 6


  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans of chickpeas, liquid saved from draining
  • 1 lb pasta shells, dry
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage vegan sausages or equivalent, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper 
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp large flake nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
Drain and rinse the chickpeas, reserving the liquid. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta shells. Once boiling, add pasta and cook according to package for al dente pasta, about 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low. Add the garlic and saute about 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the sausage and fry until it becomes golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage and garlic to a bowl and set aside.

Add the chickpea liquid, about 1 1/3 cups, to the saucepan. If you don't have that much liquid, add water or vegetable broth to make up the difference. Add 2 cups chickpeas to the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Transfer to a blender.

Add the soy sauce, black pepper, rosemary, and nutritional yeast to the blender or food processor. Blend on high for about 1 minute, until smooth. Return to saucepan and add the remaining whole chickpeas. Smooth them slightly with the back of a wooden spoon.

When the pasta is done cooking, drain but reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Set aside the liquid and return the pasta to the pot. Add the sauce to the pasta along with the parsley, garlic, and sausage. Stir to coat and allow to sit about 3 to 5 minutes while the pasta soaks up the sauce. At this time, if the pasta needs additional creaminess, add the reserved pasta water and stir well. Serve hot.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Taylor Gourmet, DC #3

Since my last review of Taylor Gourmet, now one of the best sandwich shops in DC, they have perfected their Cumberland sandwich and added some great vegan salads. They may only have a few vegan options, but the options they have are excellent.

Their Cumberland sandwich with its perfectly spiced chickpea fritters, cucumbers, banana peppers, fresh herbs, pickled red onions, lettuce, and roma tomato topped with roasted garlic tahini dressing is about as good as a vegan sub is going to get.

I love the large dining area of the cafe on 14th Street too. It still has that cool hipster vibe. Great prices, great service, and great food. This place is a win.

Previous reviews
February 1, 2017
October 22, 2014

Taylor Gourmet
1908 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 588-7117

Taylor Gourmet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, DC

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams opened in my neighborhood, the 14th Street Corridor, late last year amidst the opposition of those for the local food movement. Jeni's is a chain based in Columbus, Ohio that now operates 32 scoop shops across the United States.

They recently contacted me to let me know that they had a new vegan flavor. Sure, I'd love to try it! The shop is really cute with its retro signage and bright interior. With only window seating, it isn't really set up to hang out in, but it is very inviting. I've seen lines around the block for this ice cream, so I was excited to give them a shot.

They make a Reisling Poached Pear sorbet with non-bone char sugar, but I wanted to try the new vegan ice cream this go-around. When I asked them which one was vegan, they didn't seem to know, so I pulled up my email from their marketing department and figured it out. The Dark Chocolate Truffle is labeled dairy-free and gluten-free, but not vegan, which makes one wonder if it really is, but I can confirm that they said it is in their press release.

The Dark Chocolate Truffle ice cream is velvety rich and smooth. So chocolately--it just melted in my mouth. They say they spent five years on recipe development for their first plant-based ice cream.

“We didn’t try to make something that would pass for a dairy version of ice cream,” explains founder and chief creative officer Jeni Britton Bauer. “Instead, we looked to make something new and different and wondrous all on its own. The resulting Dark Chocolate Truffle is so deeply, primally satisfying that since the first time I had it, I think about it and crave it just as much as dairy ice cream. This flavor is for anyone who wants a truly beautiful, memorable frozen dessert.”

While most other dairy-free ice creams contain vegetable and algae proteins or an overuse of stabilizers, hers uses high-quality coconut cream and Fair Trade cocoa. Well done, Jeni. Just label it vegan, please. And I look forward to seeing you expand this line!

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
1925 14th Street, Suite B
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 621-8625

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

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Rise Bakery, DC

So many bakeries, so little time. For Christmas a couple of years ago, I received a $25 gift card to Rise Bakery in DC. It's definitely not a bakery I would have sought out, but now I'm so happy to have discovered it!

Rise Bakery is a gluten-free bakery in the Adams Morgan neighborhood that was founded in 2014. They specialize in catering to specialty diets without sacrificing taste, texture, or richness. So they make several gluten-free, vegan items. I absolutely love how everything is labeled as dairy free, egg free, soy free, or nut free, and of course, vegan.

I felt like a kid in a candy store with my gift card, so I got like one of everything!  The Raspberry Jam bar was absolutely delicious. I cut it in half with the intention of only eating half, but that didn't exactly happen.

The vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies are to die for. I mean, I was really impressed with how good they were--soft, rich, and loaded with chocolate--do not buy just one.

The Carrot Cupcake was a little grainy, but I loved the icing.

And, best of all, was the Superfood Bread. When have I ever loved a gluten-free bread? I don't think ever. This bread is some of the best bread I've ever had. Made with amaranth, quinoa, millet, flax seeds, and sesame seeds, you can eat it out of the bag or use it for sandwiches. No matter what though, either eat it quickly or freeze it because it will go bad quickly due to the nature of this fresh bread.

I must say that I wasn't too excited about going to a gluten-free bakery, but after trying their baked goods, I'm very impressed. I can't wait to go back for more.

Rise Bakery
2409 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 525-5204

Rise Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Rasa, DC

I practice flying trapeze in the Navy Yard area. When I first started practicing, it was like a food desert. There was absolutely nowhere to eat. That was 2012. Fast forward to today and you will see that the transformation there is amazing. They've even built the fast casual mecca of DC complete with Cava Mezze Grill, Roti, Taylor Gourmet, Chop't, Chipotle, and Rasa. You may recognize all of those except Rasa because this is Rasa's first location.

Founded by the sons of chefs at Indique, one of my old favorite restaurants, and Bombay Bistro, this has quickly become my favorite fast casual restaurant in DC and you know that I don't give praise generously. It's been open for a few months, but I was skeptical. One of my trapeze teachers came to me raving about this Indian restaurant and telling me they had vegan options, but I only half believed her. I took a look at their menu online and wondered if the "v" designation next to certain items meant "vegan" or "vegetarian." A quick call confirmed it meant "vegan."

So, I went over one night after trapeze. Their menu concept is similar to most fast casual restaurants in our area, but what's different is that 83% of their menu is vegan. Oh yes.

You choose a base: spinach, romaine lettuce, sexy greens, supergrains, basmati rice, or South Indian rice noodles. All bases are vegan. Then, you pick a main of which three are vegan: sweet potato tikki, green jackfruit, or tofu and cauliflower. Then, a sauce of which three are vegan: tamarind chili, coconut ginger, or peanut sesame. Then, you can pick one veggie and all are vegan: charred eggplant, tossed green beans, sauteed spinach, or roasted Brussels sprouts.  And they have lots of vegan toppings as well!  Meals are priced from $9 - $11 each.

It was a little overwhelming so I went with one of the preset meals--the Aloo You Need is Love. That is so cute. On top of supergrains is sweet potato tikki, charred eggplant, masala beets, and pickled radish topped with coconut ginger sauce. They actually forgot my masala beets. But, as I was checking out, I introduced myself to one of the owners, Sahil, and that made it all better.

The meal was fantastic. The supergrains were absolutely delicious as was the soft, yet crispy sweet potato and pea patties. My favorite though was the charred eggplant--unbelievably good. And that coconut ginger sauce--more, please!

Sahil told me about how he and his partner traveled to India to do their research before opening the restaurant. It's like fine fast casual, he said, and I agree. He brought me a sampler plate of a bunch of vegan items and the flavors took my taste buds away! Surprisingly to me, the jackfruit was my favorite. I don't usually enjoy jackfruit, but the way they cooked it is exceptional! The sauteed spinach was also exceptional as was the tofu and cauliflower. Honestly, it was all good.

I asked if they had hot sauce and they actually make their own really good hot sauce and are experimenting with a hotter sauce. I got to try the new formula and I love it.

I also love that they not only serve beer and wine, but a Masala Gin & Tonic too. I just had to try it and it was pretty good!

Sahil also let me know that the samosas were vegan, but the mint sauce they serve them with is not, which is why they aren't labeled as vegan. So he brought me the samosas to try with a tamarind chutney. They were incredibly flaky--like pastry and really fresh. They have to be some of the best samosas I've ever had.

Watching Sahil break open a coconut for a customer was also quite entertaining.

It was so good that I returned the next week and ordered another bowl, but this time I built the bowl myself. I ordered the sexygreens with jackfruit, tofu and cauliflower topped with peanut sesame sauce. For my veggie, I ordered sauteed spinach and I topped it with cucumber cubes and pickled onion. This bowl was even better than the first! That peanut sesame sauce is so rich and creamy--it draped all of the vegetables creating a flavor explosion! You won't go wrong if you order this combo, that's for sure.

Oh, and the decor is really bright and beautiful. Rasa is a combination of the owner's names and also means "all emotions." The artwork inside is meant to represent all emotions. It's very colorful.

So, I'm a big fan. It's been a while since a place got me this excited. Highly recommended.

1247 1st Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 804-5678

Rasa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Golden Temple, Amsterdam

While looking for a more crowd pleasing restaurant that could satisfy the diverse group of people we had going, I found Golden Temple, a vegetarian Indian restaurant.

Inside, this restaurant was an eclectic ball of fun. Colorful and vibrant, it had traditional tables and chairs on the first floor and lower tables for sitting on the floor on the second floor. We were seated on the second floor. A hodgepodge of colors ignited the spark that drove this restaurant into complete eclecticism.  The entire restaurant is vegetarian and all gluten free and vegan options are conveniently marked on the menu.

We started with an order of the Salt and Pepper Tofu. These tofu sticks were dipped and battered and Chinese green tea salt and pepper covered these fried tofu sticks that are served with salt on the side as well.  They were okay, but nothing to write home about.

For my entree, I ordered the traditional Northern Indian Thali, which is made vegan by request. This sampler platter consisted of Dhal, lentil soup; Saag, spinach dish; Bhand Gobhi, potato and cabbage in a tomato sauce; mild yellow Coconut Curry; basmati rice; and chutney. I really enjoyed it.

More than anything though, I enjoyed the company of my friends who recently moved to Amsterdam and I found this restaurant to be a great place for large groups of people in a friendly, relaxed environment. There's even a yoga studio there. I'd gladly come back again.

Next time, I'll leave room for dessert.

Golden Temple
Utrechtsestraat 126
1017 VT Amsterdam
The Netherlands