Dining Vietnamese at Lan Cafe – New York, NY

Lan Cafe’s awesomeness: Grill Lemongrass Seitan On Steamed Hair Rice Vermicelli

When it comes to trying different foods, Mac and I have always been adventurous, trying many different cuisines from many across the globe before and after we became vegans. Despite our plucky zest for exploring different ethnic flavors, we’ve managed to miss out on trying a few, but we’re getting there.  “Say what?!?!” you may say, because, after all, we’re The Food Duo. We’re also humans who believe life offers a lot for us to still culinarily (is that a word?) I

Case in point: Vietnamese. I never had it before we met up with our Beet and Kumquat. They recommended a teensy Vietnamese joint in the East Village called Lan Café. If there was ever a place you can call a hole-the-wall, Lan Café is your poster child.


Spring Rolls & Soup

Tiny, unpretentious and  spartan, Lan Café lacks décor but not menu options. There’s a plethora of vegan goodies to choose from including baguette (Bahn Mi) sandwiches; I regret not trying one! For appetizers we all shared crispy and lightly cooked spring rolls filled with veggie goodness. For the main course I ended up trying the Mixed Vegetable Soup,  which was perfectly seasoned and had plenty of my beloved bok choy swimming around in that large bowl. Mac ended up trying the Grilled Lemongrass Seitan On Steamed Hair Rice Vermicelli which was fragrant and spicy.

For the life of me I cannot recall what Beet and Kumquat ordered, but I remembered that it looked great and they enjoyed every bite. As a matter of fact they are regulars here and both claim to never have had a bad meal.

It ended up being a very pleasant evening, chock full of good conversation and tasty, honest and hearty food. Mac and I will return to Lan Café someday where I will try one of those baguette sandwiches, damn it!  By the way, they only accept cash, so don’t forget to stop at the ATM before arriving!

Lan Café
342 E 6th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-8325
www.lancafenyc.com.

Decadent Vegan Breakfast with The Cinnamon Snail

As the saying goes, “a good vegan breakfast…” Well, there is no actual saying, but I’ll coin one now.

“A good vegan breakfast starts with The Cinnamon Snail.”

Back in May, we took our first cooking class with Adam Sobel of The Cinnamon Snail called “Vegan Donut Workshop.” 3 months later, we were back in the kitchens of the Institute for Culinary Education, to take another class with Adam called “Decadent Vegan Breakfast.” Having been put into a donut coma in May, we already knew what we were in for in August.

If you’re not familiar with Adam or The Cinnamon Snail, you are behind the times, my friend. Adam and his team put out some of the best eats the culinary world has to offer. He does it all from single truck that makes its rounds about Manhattan and NJ, bringing smiles and fully bellies to diners, vegan and non-vegan alike.

Adam is a great instructor. Not only does he give you recipes, he shares wisdom and cooking techniques and tricks that are like golden nuggets! He also is a great storyteller, passionate about his food, cultural experiences, the environment and having compassion for all living things. He has a strong will to bring to light and to end suffering, all through the sharing of food, like breaking bread with the world.

I must add that the week before we took this class, we ran into Adam and his family up at Farm Sanctuary for the annual Hoe-Down. Adam received the 2013 Compassionate Commerce Award for his amazing work in spreading love, compassion and veganism! Congrats to him!

So enough of the sentiments, let’s get to the BREAKFAST!

With about 14 students, spread across 3 or so teams, we engaged in both preparation and cooking for all dishes on our menu. We made the following:

  • Dandelion Greens with Lemon Garlic Potatoes – “Shut the front door!”
  • Maple Mustard Breakfast Seitan Strips – “WHAT?!?!?!”
  • Vanilla Sesame Milk – “Yum!”
  • Bourbon Pecan Pancakes with Ginger Stout Syrup and Cardamom Butter – *thud* – “MAN DOWN!”
The four hours flew by. Everyone was full of great energy, eager to taste the meal we made. Surely we did, as we sat around a communal table of sorts, sharing our results. Naturally, we made so much food that each student and Adam took plates home. In fact, Mac and I ate ours for dinner that night!
Our antennae are up for the next class, because we want to be at least a tenth of the vegan culinary whiz as he is!

Enjoy the slideshow!

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Steve’s Ice Cream Offering Up Some Non-Dairy Realness!

Vegan ice cream has come quite a ways.  It wasn’t all that long ago when finding high quality vegan desserts (especially ice cream) was a daunting task. During those dark ages, any, if not most, brands of vegan ice cream were bland, chalky or had a strange aftertaste.  As veganism grew, so did the demand for high quality desserts, with ice cream being a top priority. We were no longer going to just settle with cold, semi-sweet globs of meh in our mouths! Some ice cream makers, small and large, began to take pay heed and listen to our concerns. Nowadays there’s a nice selection of frozen vegan treats that even non-vegans enjoy. 
One of those brands is Steve’s Ice Cream. Based in Brooklyn, Steve’s is grown-up’s ice cream with combinations Baskin-Robbins or Carvel couldn’t even imagine. Steve’s prides themselves on the small batch approach to making fresher, more high quality desserts.  While Steve’s is not a vegan company, they offer some non-dairy options.
Mac and I first stumbled across Steve’s on FreshDirect, which is a local online grocery store in the area. Neither of us had heard of the company, but their clever packaging and they offered a non-dairy flavor caught our eye, their Cold-Brewed Cinnamon Coffee! If you know me, you know I LOVE my coffee. No brainer that would be the first try. And how bad could it be?
When our order arrived on an early Saturday morning, the plan was already in place for our first tastes to come that evening. Whoa! Upon trying it, Mac and I shot each other a raised eyebrow seal of approval. Extremely creamy and smooth, this amazing ice cream needs no toppings or additions, although I’m tempted make a float with it the next time. Flavor-wise it leans a little more cinnamon than coffee, perhaps because they use freshly grated cinnamon. Yes, you read that right, freshly grated cinnamon. As Mac said “Who does that?”    
After that pint was downed, we thought we would have to wait for our next FreshDirect order. Oh but no! Guess we found at our nearby Whole Foods in Yonkers?!?! Not only the Cinnamon Coffee, but 2 other other non-dairy flavors, Blackberry Honey (not vegan), Scotch Chocolate and Mint Cacao Chip. Into our cart went the Cinnamon Coffee and the Scotch Chocolate, which did not disappoint in the least! As it turns out, Steve’s is offers of the best packaged vegan ice creams we’ve ever had.  
Steve’s Ice Cream no longer has brick-and-mortar locations, but they do sell pints in various shops nationwide (they have a handy “find us” feature on their website). They also ship in increments of five.  Although they’re a little pricey, the superior quality of their products is worth the expense.
For more info on Steve’s Ice Cream, check out http://shop.stevesicecream.com/

Lalibela Ethiopian Cuisine – Mt. Kisco

Vegan’s Delight: Eating with your hands!!!


For the Food Duo, meetups are always an anticipated good time with fellow vegan friends, both old and new. Regardless of venue, Mac and I look forward to spending a few hours yakking up light conversation as we break bread with our brethren. Although the recent evil heat wave in NYC had reigned in my enthusiasm to go anywhere or do anything (I HATE hot weather!), it wasn’t enough to turn me into Mr. Crankypants when Ethiopian food was on deck!

I had only tried Ethiopian cuisine once before our Meetup at Lalibela, which I really enjoyed it. So, I was looking forward to trying it again. Lalibela, which is located on a semi-hidden walkway in Mount Kisco, is an inviting and pleasant place to have a meal. The small, cozy interior boasted original artwork (photos and paintings from Eastern Africa) along sunset colored walls and the seductive music playing was what I would call a mix of modern Ethiopian and Dubstep. Albeit it’s not a vegan restaurant, their menu offered several very tasty vegan dishes that our group shared family style, this included our favorite vegan baby! Our dinner included misir wat (lentils, onions, ginger, garlic, turmeric and olive oil), shiro wat (split peas, onions, ginger, garlic, turmeric and olive oil), fosolia (string beans, onions, ginger, garlic and olive oil), cabbage (onions, potatoes, carrots, turmeric and olive oil) and gomen (collard greens, onion, garlic, ginger and olive oil). All of the aromatic and perfectly spiced dishes were served with fresh, spongy injera bread, making this utensil-less dish (okay, I cheated, I used a fork) a more traditional way to eat. And despite the obnoxious heat, the food was light and cool.

Despite the number of vegan and vegetarian people we know in Westchester, there’s a dearth of vegan restaurants. However, it’s exciting to know that more and more restaurants in Westchester (and elsewhere) are offering vegan options. We’re glad that Lalibela is one of growing number of places that listen to our requests and offer great vegan food that anyone would enjoy. As I’m writing this blog, I’m craving a nice dish of gomen!

Lalibela
37 S Moger Ave Mt Kisco, NY 10549
(914) 864-1343
www.lalibelamountkisco.com