Archive for the ‘Atlanta’ category

St. Augustine Vacation

July 19th, 2011

Another Summer vacation is behind us. Each year we make a trek to St. Augustine, Florida so Mrs. Nashveggie can veg-out on the beach. It’s her one annual requirement.  Sand, the sound of waves and a book pacifies her.  St. Augustine is the city she went to college in and where she lived when we first began dating so returning there is based on the fact we know the area quite well. That and the fact there’s a beach. The beach is important if I didn’t emphasize that enough already. We like the fact the beaches aren’t overrun with nutty families with coolers in tow and it is highly preferred over the Redneck Riviera which so many from this area attack every year. You know where I’m talking about, that strip of beach that runs from Mobile, Alabama to an area just east of Panama City Beach, Florida and where you’ll find every beer-gut, Budweiser-swilling, SUV-driving, camouflage-bikini wearing redneck in a 500 mile radius. Yes, the Redneck Riviera, not what this post is about nor where you’ll find me. As I said, we head to St. Augustine on the East coast of Florida where the beaches are clean and relatively free of crowds if you know where to look. We have our own little beach few know about or at least few choose to go there and that makes us all the happier.

St. Augustine has a few places to find a vegan lunch. I’ve written on them before and the choices have not changed. If you’re looking for a big vegan dinner you’re best moving up the road to Jacksonville or south to Daytona as the choices aren’t the widest in St. Augustine. You could try The Perfect Moment, a raw vegan cafe serving what I lovingly refer to as “pretty food” but I can give you no pointers on that as it is “pretty food” and I don’t typically partake of that. You could go to The Manatee Cafe, a great vegetarian restaurant that serves mostly things I make easily at home. The do have great vegan breakfasts and sandwiches but we didn’t visit this trip. We did visit Stir It Up, a small walk-up lunch counter serving wraps and smoothies as well as Mango Mango’s where it’s not easy to order vegan off the menu and if you ask for what can be made vegan you’ll still have a slim selection. Mango Mango’s does, however, have a killer Black Bean Soup. I know, soup isn’t exactly what you might want for dinner on a hot, humid beach vacation but it really was exactly what I wanted. The black bean soup was heavy on the jerk seasoning and contained small chunks of one of my favorite fruits, plantain. Mrs. Nashveggie had the Caribbean Mango Island Salad, a mix of greens topped with peppers, oranges, coconut, almonds and mango. The salad looked great and tasted fresh. Heavy on the mango and sweetness. We ate at Mango Mango’s a couple times and had the same each. We also made a few trip to The Spanish Bakery. Cheap lunch awaits! Two fresh bowls of gazpacho, a big hot loaf of bread, six cookies and drinks for $10! Seating is all outside under big shade trees and on a hot day gazpacho is perfect. Most of our time in St. Augustine was spent on the beach as it usually is and meals were relegated to fresh fruit and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

Mango Mangos - Caribbean Mango Island Salad

Mango Mango's - Black Bean Soup

On the drive back we stopped off in Atlanta for a couple of days. My mother-in-law lives there so life wouldn’t be pleasant if we passed through without stopping for a visit. We decided on a new place for lunch, Urban Pl8. I had read good and bad about it but the food always came out good in reviews. Our arrival was during brunch on Sunday about noon. A 40 minute wait and we were seated outside near the small garden where some of the ingredients in this “local food” restaurant are sourced. Looking over the menu and reading between the various Paleo selections and after asking which selections could be veganized I decided on the Vegan Breakfast Plate. It included a pinto bean cake that was just a bit spicy but lacked much else on seasoning or salt leaving it very bland. It was accompanied by braised kale that was very good and maple sweet potatoes which I could have eaten a second serving of. Overall, not a bad meal but something should be done about that pinto bean cake. Dress it up in some flavor-love. Mr’s Nashveggie had the same and my mother-in-law had Lily’s Nut Burger, a patty of walnuts, cashews, brown rice and cheddar cheese topped with sour cream on a whole wheat English muffin. Of course, it’s not vegan but is vegetarian so add that a choice if that’s your way. It was on the small side and I would have needed at least 4 of them to consider it lunch. It was served with a mixed greens salad that was drenched in a very spicy dressing. Again, on the small side but I guess hangovers need small eats for brunch. The Kid had tofu scramble and the same maple sweet potatoes included with the vegan breakfast. The scramble looked very good and had subtle flavor. It contained a mix of red peppers, zucchini and onions and seemed to be cooked in an abundant amount of oil which was served along with in the bottom of the bowl. The food was nothing outstanding and I’ve had worse but the service was really bad. It took 10 minutes to get our drinks after ordering and 20 minutes for a refill of my sweet tea. The Kid’s tofu scramble was served with shredded cheese on top, which was not even mentioned in the description, and was replaced with a fresh dish when we brought it to the server’s attention. I’m not sure on the exact breakdown on the time but we arrived at the restaurant at noon and left after eating, no floundering after finishing, at 3:20. Most of this time was spent waiting for our meals. Everything seems to be prepared fresh when ordered and to order by one cook. The restaurant wasn’t extremely packed. If you do plan on visiting Urban Pl8 be sure to give a good amount of time to get in and out.

Urban Pl8 - Vegan Breakfast

Urban Pl8 - Lily's Nut Burger (Vegetarian, not vegan)

Dinner that evening was on the mother in law’s suggestion. She had decided we should go to Nicola’s. No argument from me, Nicola’s is great. A Turkish restaurant on LaVista, Nicola’s makes anyone feel like family. Everyone is greeted by the owner upon entering and kept entertained by the length of the visit by him and one or all of the staff. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night you’ll be able to enjoy belly dancing. Be ready to be asked to join in. Everyone is and at some point in the night the entire restaurant is on their feet in the center of the dining room dancing to Middle Eastern pop tunes and sloppily belly dancing the best they can. I can only guess I might have better falafel and fried artichokes if I visited a Middle Eastern country and ate them locally. No, I take that back I’m sure these would beat anything I would get if I traveled thousands of miles. This is the absolute best Middle Eastern munchies I’ve ever had and the personal attention you get just adds to the experience.

Nicola's Restaurant - Hommos, Baba Ghanoush, Falafel with vegan sauce, Artichoke Heart, Tabbouleh, Fattoush, Grape Leaves (vegetarian), Spinach Pie (vegetarian)

It’s peach season so we made sure to have enough room in the car on the trip home for extra cargo. If you’ve bought peaches locally you know they’re not cheap. They might seem cheap until you buy a sufficient quantity to do something with then you realize that $1.49 a pound adds up. Grocery stores and local farmers markets are not the place to buy peaches if you’re looking to save money. To do that you find the growers selling their product. Being able to haggle helps, as well. Instead of that $1.49 a pound we got 60 pounds of big, plump, sweet, juicy, delicious smelling peaches for $20. That comes out to about 33 cents a pound. That’s the way to buy peaches! Look soon for a post on various peach concoctions. I’m looking to try something peachy new. Any ideas?

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Mellow Mushroom Going Casein-Free

January 21st, 2010

UPDATED 2/18/10

Mellow Mushroom has long be heralded by vegans and vegetarians as one of the few places to munch on tempeh subs or get a tempeh or tofu topped pizza. Up to recently those pizzas and subs had to be cheeseless for vegans due to the casein in the soy cheese they used.   Now Mellow Mushroom is beginning to use casein-free vegan cheeses although the only locations in Tennessee are in Knoxville and Murfreesboro.

The following is a list of locations presently using casein-free soy cheese:

  • Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  • Conyers, Georgia
  • Carrollton, Georgia
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Durham, North Carolina
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Douglasville, Georgia
  • Hiram, Georgia
  • Northlake, Georgia
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • Decatur, Georgia
  • Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Charelston, South Carolina
  • Austin, Texas

If your location does not carry the casein-free alternative they can be persuaded!  Just ask! If you do get vegan cheese at a location not listed above please let me know so I can add it to the list.

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What’s Been Cooking…

July 5th, 2008

In the time that has passed since the last update here we’ve been cooking alot. I owe a recipe for cornbread to Lesley. That will have its own post and I have been promising it to her for some time. The garden is yielding goodies, zucchini and okra so far with potatoes and cucumbers coming along. I have been frying what little okra we have had to this point. Boiled okra never did it for me, kind of like slurping and chewing snot. If you do grow okra then you probably know not to let the pods get very large, no larger that 3-4 inches and not too big. When they get too long they get tough and almost inedible. I use a mixture of vegan mayonnaise and soymilk to dip the pieces then dredge them in a corn meal/flour/spice mixture and fry them in a iron skillet until the coating is lightly crisp. I have done the same with zucchini but also sauteed it with olive oil and some fresh basil and oregano from our herb garden and served over spaghetti.

I’m not the greatest baker of sweets. I leave that to Elizabeth and she’s great at it. She recently got “My Sweet Vegan” and has baked a few things from it. The book includes nice pictures of each item but of what has been baked it is easy to see some recipes were not tested very well. Even reading some of the recipes makes you think a bit about what the author was thinking when she included the ingredients she did. Overall it is an OK book but by far not in the same class as “Veganomicon” or “Joy Of Vegan Baking”.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie with Soy Whipped Cream

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Cocoa Crumble

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Cocoa Crumble

We went to Atlanta last week for a short two-day trip. Nothing really notable about the trip, the usual eats (Veggieland, Sweet Tomatoes and Eats.) as well as lunch one day from the food bar at Whole Foods. The Whole Foods on Ponce in Atlanta has so much more in the vegan category on its bar compared to both Whole Foods (Wild Oats) in Nashville. There was Barbecued tofu, Teriyaki Tofu, Tofu Cacciatore, Jerk Tempeh, Eggplant and Tempeh Casserole and Coconut Curry Tofu to choose from as well as the veggies. All I ever see on the food bars in the local Whole Foods is Chik’n Fried Tofu, which I can easily make at home cheaper and better, and the occasional sauteed kale or spinach. I am slowly losing my love for the local Whole Foods, especially the Green Hills location. Whomever planned that store and laid out the design for the inside seriously needs some help. The aisles are too close together to fit two carts side by side when passing mid-aisle and the aisles even meet an end-cap in the section near the coldcase, you would think hey would make them free-flowing from aisle to aisle. I still get rude looks from the cashiers when I bring my Trader Joe’s bags in, do they feel threatened by a bag?

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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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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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