Archive for April, 2008

Baja Leaves Blue Coast

April 28th, 2008

For those who are regulars to Baja Burrito or Blue Coast Burrito you may have noticed some changes lately.  Baja Burrito has been sold back to its original owners, Troy and Jeanie Smith, from David Osborne who purchased the franchise a couple years back.   You will notice that Baja Burrito will no longer be open on Sundays.   As far as menu changes I have noticed nothing more than price differences between the two.

Since I know David reads this site occasionally, I have a question.  Why the change to styrofoam cups at Blue Coast?  With the strives you make environmentally and health-wise in other areas shouldn’t this be a no-brainer?  Still love the place but I was just curious.

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Stopover Atlanta

April 24th, 2008

Coming back from our vacation in St. Augustine we stayed the weekend in Atlanta.  Atlanta is a semi-regular trip for us as my mother-in-law and brother-in-law live there  so we know the places to eat well.   Saturday we had lunch at Veggieland, a small restaurant in Buckhead that has quite an extensive menu.  I usually get a sandwich but decided to get a salad of some type since when I am usually there some at a nearby table orders one and I tell myself to get a salad next time.    I got Jennifer’s Salad (some salads are named after customers who have created and ordered them regularly), a mix of spinach, brown rice, steamed broccoli, steamed sweet potatoes, tofu, tempeh bacon, tomoatoes and cucumbers with a vegan ranch dressing.  My wife had the Tostada Salad, I am not sure what all was on it but it was tasty as I swipped a bite.  My brother-in-law had a pasta dish with steamed vegetable which smelled great and my mother-in-law, who never branches out in her vegan eating when she eats with us, got her usual veggie burger which was served with sweet potato fries.   Veggieland also serves a few vegan cakes and we had a slice of a peanut butter-chocolate cake and a strawberry cake.  I am never impressed by their cakes, they are good but noting compared to what my wife can whip up.   They are served directly from being refrigerated and are far too moist, their cake supplier has a few things to learn in the art of vegan baking.

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Salad From Veggieland

Saturday night my wife and I had planned a dinner out and we considered Cafe Sunflower, of which I am not the biggest fan (see pretty food rant).  After looking at the menu we quickly decided against it as their prices have increased considerably over the already overpriced amounts.   We called to check on the hours of Soul Vegetarian, a restaurant operated by African Hebrews,  but were told they would be closing early for Passover.  They informed us they would be open the next moring for brunch, not a big deal to me but my mother-in-law has some kind of infatuation with it so she said we should go then.  After thinking and not finding anything that we really wanted to bother driving to and burning expensive gas for we decided to go to a nearby Mexican restaurant where they prepare guacamole at tableside.  After a bowl of guacamole and a margarita we called it a night.

Sunday morning started with Soul Vegetarian.  After looking at their menu I found there was too much to choose from to waste time on a brunch selection.  I ordered a plate of collard greens (one of my favorites) and barbecued kalebone, described as made in house using soy protein and wheat gluten.  It is seitan with some spices added but is quite good.  I was served two large pieces and my collards and was quite happy.  My wife had a battered-fried “steak” and macaroni-and-cheese made form raw cashews.  The steak was also seitan but not flavored the same as what I had and covered in gravy, also quite good.  My mother-in-law went out on a wild tangent and ordered…no wait, she had a veggie burger.  I had a bite of the patty and it was different than any other veggie burger I have had but since I didn’t eat the entire thing I am not sure what tey used to make it.  My daughter had two huge pancakes from the brunch menu, she is a pancake lover.  They were very moist and again, huge.  I almost forgot, onion rings!  We had onion rings for an appetizer, battered, fried, crispy and delicious.

The night before whicle searching for a dinner place we found Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe’s website and noticed the address was near Soul Vegetarian so decided a stop there should be next.  It is in a small storefront and they have a good selection of vegan items usually only found online.   Asmall corner near the front of the store has clothing items including vegan shoes and belts.  There are two aisles of vegan foods and a cooler with vegan cheeses and other items, including my wifes much sought after vegan marshmallows.  There was only one package left and we would have bought more if they had them.  I also got a container of vegan rice marshmallow cremewich I have been craving on a saltine.  Both are great, there a re a few marshmallows left as we have been rationing them to ourselves.  My wife also found an apron which is perfect for her that she got which says “Vegan Master Baker”.

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Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe

 

Next would be a trip to Ikea that I have been looking forward to.  I have been needing a new stand for my 60″ Sony television and the only reasonably priced stand I could find that was long enough was at Ikea.   Once I saw the stand in person I noticed the shelves for components looked a bit small on width.   Not wanting to buy the stand I really wanted only to get it home and find nothing I had would fit I decided to make some calls for measurement of components.  Sure enough, the width was 1/2″ shorter than the standard 17″ component size.  Why make something a standard component won’t fit in?  After being a a little disgruntled I found another stand that looked like what I needed which had the shelving and length required.   We also picked up some lighting to replace various ceiling fans in the game room on living room at a much better price than can be found at Home Depot or even the Ikea website.

After loading two oversized boxes into a small car as well as bags from Ikea we headed to Trader Joe’s to stock up.  As the Nashville store is not scheduled to open for a few months trips to Atlanta will include Trader Joe’s for the time.

Next stop, Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market.  This is a stop where we typically fill the car with produce as the prices are hard to beat as well is the selection.  With not much room to spare in the car we cut it short and opted for some basics as well as replinishing our spices with their large bulk selection.

Our last restaurant stop would be Sweet Tomatoes.  This is one place we always look forward to and would really like to see one open in the Nashville area, Coolsprings would be a great location.

Afterward we packed up for the trip back home.   As Atlanta is a regular trip for us  we will probably be going back soon and I will try more at Soul Vegetarian,  get back to Eat’s which we didn’t include this time and maybe Harmony Chinese.

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St. Augustine

April 22nd, 2008

Back from vacation, unpacking and trying to get back into the groove of things at home.   Our vacation was very much needed and relaxing and an opportunity for me to go without any sort of attachment to a computer.   I took no laptop with me, used no public access and stayed Internet-free for a week, quite the accomplishment.  Most of the veggie blogs, or food blogs, post pictures of their eats along the way.  I am not a big food photographer while sitting in a restaurant.   I did manage one picture while in Atlanta, but I will get to that later.

We started our vacation in St. Augustine, Florida.  My wife went to college there and I/we have visited countless times.  There was one vegetarian restaurant in town that we knew of, Manatee Cafe, but we found another while driving around.  The Present Moment Cafe is a raw food restaurant with a small deli located next door.  We visited the deli and looked at the menu of the restaurant but decided to pass.  Prices seemed a little high and it was “pretty food”.   Not to take anything away from The Present Moment Cafe or anyone who enjoys eating artsy food, but I am not into trying to figure out why a chef used this color or that texture to accent my collard greens.   Make the food tasty, put it on a plate and make it enough so that I leave your restaurant full.   Putting a sliver of whatever on a plate, dancing some dribbley sauce around it and sprinkling some fluff about does not dinner make.

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Our first eating out was The Manatee Cafe. This is a basic vegetarian restaurant with a menu of sandwiches, wraps and salads.  They have a great tofu reuben which I have had previously but this morning I wasn’t extremely hungry and went very basic with hash browns and grits.   The hash browns here are actually very chunky-cut potatoes fried crispy with Spike seasoning, nothing special but very tasty.  My wife had the veggie wrap (Tofutti, hummus, carrots, sprouts, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and avocados) with hash browns.   Everything was great and as expected.   No pictures,  it is the “Hey, I like to take a picture of my food so I can remember what I ate.” thing that I can’t get to.

If you ever visit St. Augustine you will go to St. George Street.  With it being the oldest permanently settled city in the US there are many old houses and buildings to be seen and many are along St. George Street, though they have been transformed into modern gift shops and trinket stores.  The oldest school house is on St. George Street but more importantly so is The Spanish Bakery.  No where else can you get some of the best soup a big loaf of fresh baked bread and three VEGAN lemon, cinnamon or almond cookies for $5.   The bakery is a small hut with just enough room for a row of cookies on display and three pots of soup.  Table are outside under large shade trees which are handy on hot, sunny days.  In the summer they have a very good gazpacho, however, they only had a vegetable soup on our visit which was still excellent.

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View sitting outside of The Spanish Bakery on St. George Street.

Our fix for sweet stuff was found at Rita’s, an Italian Ice place on St. Augustine Beach.  Rita’s is a chain located mostly on the east coast but this is the only one we have ever visited, and we do each time we go to St. Augustine.  The have Gelati and custard ice but we always get the vegan Italian Ice option.  Flavors range from tropical punch, black cherry, vanilla, chocolate, pina colada, lemonade and mango.   I think of the three times we went there I had six or seven large ices, I lost count, but the best was the mango.   Cold, sweet and with little bits of mango.  I just looked at their website and noticed locations are coming to Hermitage and Mt. Juliet.

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Most of our time in St. Augustine was planned to be spent on the beach and it was.  Six hours in one day allowed for plenty of digging in the sand and burning of our skin.  While walking around in a few places the smell of shrimp boil hit me.  Not the smell of the shrimp but the combination of spices used to boil the shrimp.   I love the smell and it instantly made me want to boil something in those spices to munch on.  Since getting back I have gotten together all of those spices along with some corn and potatoes that will be boiled and enjoyed on the patio one evening, a post about that will come later.

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Mean people not allowed on St. George Street

Each trip to St. Augustine also gets us to go to a local nursery to pick out some plants that are a bit uncommon here.   I am a bit of a tropical plant enthusiast so you shouldn’t be surprised to see my fruit-bearing orange trees and palms.   I managed to find a Green Saw Palmetto and a Washingtonian Palm that were small enough to fit in the car for the ride back.  We also found a Madagascar Palm and a Longleaf Pine, both which are less uncommon here, for the ride back to be added to our plant family.

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Washingtonian Palm and Green Saw Palmetto

So, to summarize, St. Augustine, good.  Pretty food, bad.  The Manatee Cafe, good.  The Spanish Bakery, good.  Beach, GOOD.

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Road Trip!

April 14th, 2008

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Tomorrow starts the first day of our trip to St. Augustine.  This isn’t our first trip there, in fact it is where my wife was going to college when we met.   Our last trip there was two years ago and so much had changed then from the time we went before that the year before.  We’ll be packing food for the trip as there is only one or two veggie restaurants in town.  I’m looking forward to taking a needed break from the work here and the other usual goings on.   I’ll also get some time to visit my favorite “thinking spot“.

The trip back will include a stop over in Atlanta for a couple days.  Visits to Trader Joe’s, Ikea and some of our favorite Atlanta veggie joints are in the plans.  Veggieland, Eats and maybe Harmony Chinese.

This means I will be postless here for the next week.   I know, no one will even miss me but I’ll bring back pictures and food stories when I return.

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Playing In The Dirt

April 10th, 2008

Yesterday consisted of a long day of getting our yard in some kind of shape that we would be happy with.  We had gotten 20 azaleas and planted those along the front walkway of our house.   Mulched and ready to make the front yard look so much better.   We’re the third owners of the house, the first owners were apparently plantaholics.   I realized there is a five-foot azalea growing at one corner of our home when the white blooms showed up this week.   A lilac bush is also blooming, as are plenty of daffodils.  There’s a group of peonies that are budding as well.   I planted 20 or so alocasias along our back driveway that I had been growing in a pot for about 5 years.  I am sure they are happy to get a spot of ground to call their own.

My wife’s daffodils, hyacinths and tulips are in full bloom and look spectacular.   I think she is very happy with the variety she planted.  Irises should be blooming next week.

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We plowed up a small patch, about 15’x15′, for a vegetable garden.  We’ll be planting tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe and maybe eggplant in a couple weeks.   A smaller herb garden will be fixed up later.  Both will be organic, of course.

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