Archive for the ‘plantains’ 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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Taco Mamacita’s New Vegan Menu

March 4th, 2010

Fresh Mexican-inspired food is always good.  It is even better when it is vegan.  I got the word yesterday that Taco Mamacita’s would be rolling out a new vegan menu this week and also a copy of the menu.  This happened around lunch time so where else should I head off to?

I was told the servers may not be aware of the new menu and to take it along.  After reading over the menu I was given I quickly realized that there were no vegan options and asked my server, Meredith,  if she knew of the vegan choices.  She told me she was also vegan and began showing me options on the menu by substituting and adding.  Then I asked if she knew of the new vegan menu to which I got a “No”, so I pulled out my Droid which I had the menu on and showed her.  Of course, being vegan also she was quite excited.

Vegan Tortilla Soup & Vegan Jerk Taco

Vegan Tortilla Soup & Vegan Jerk Taco



I ordered a cup of the Vegan Tortilla Soup and a Vegan Jerk Taco. The soup was poured at the table over fresh slices of avocado and cilantro with a side of tortilla chip crumbles and the taco was filled with one of my favorite delicacies, fried plantains, as well as fresh mango, beans and cabbage.  Everything tasted extremely fresh but I thought the soup could have used a little spice as it was a bit flat.

Overall, it was a good lunch, fresh and healthy tasting. The only thing I would like to see improved from what I ordered would be some flavor added to the soup in the way of spice. I left still hungry though I was thoroughly impressed with the freshness of everything. My next visit I will try something else and see if leaving stuffed is possible.

Taco Mamacita's Vegan Menu

Taco Mamacita's Vegan Menu (Click to view)




View 1200 Villa Pl in a larger map

Taco Mamacita
1200 Villa Place
Nashville, TN
(615) 730-8552

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St. Augustine 2009

July 16th, 2009

Once again, we took our yearly trip to St. Augustine in search of sand and surf to wash away the daily doldrums of work and humdrum-ness, and once again we find ourselves in a place that’s not-so-veggie-friendly.  We always make our visit to The Spanish Bakery for gazpacho, fresh baked bread and lemon cookies, a cheap lunch and consistently good, however, this time we found some new places to grab something to eat.

Mango Mangos is a Caribbean-style restaurant with locations on US 1 and A1A.  After looking at their menu online that had a couple veggie selections including a message  stating they would create something for a vegetarian we decided to give them a try.  Our server was very helpful and suggested a Quesadilla Wrap, minus the cheese and chicken and adding avocado.  I had mine with fried plantains and my wife with sweet potato fries.  Both were perfect and delicious, more than we expected. Almost every item on the menu incorporates mango in some fashion.  Topped with, grilled, slathered in, melted in mango and their mango salsa is outstanding.

Mango Mangos - Vegan Quesadilla Wrap with Fried Plantains

I had spotted a place while search before we left called Stir It Up, a small lunch counter on  St. Augustine Beach, and conveniently located beside Mango Mangos.  Noted mostly by reviewers for smoothies there were also reports of good sandwiches to be had.  After driving by the location a couple times since they have short hours (10-5) we finally were nearby while they were open.   The smoothie selection is extensive and they do have a good selection of sandwiches, which are served as wraps, as well.  There isn’t alot of seating and what there is can only be found outside, but this is the beach and who wants to sit inside when you have a great atmosphere to enjoy outside?

St. Augustine - Stir It Up

We both had the Greenrito, a mix of avocado, spring mix, tomato and loads of hummus in a wrap and my daughter had a Natural Mystic smoothie with strawberry, peach, kiwi, pineapple and coconut.  The wraps are $6-7 and smoothies are $4 for a large.  The wraps were served with tortilla chips and were huge, plenty for that after-beach hunger.

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GardenBurger Hula GardenSteaks

May 16th, 2009

GardenBurger GardenSteaks Hula

I don’t do many product reviews here but thought it was time for one.  I have been eying GardenBurger’s Gourmet GardenSteaks for  awhile now and decided to give them a shot.  At $5.99 for two it wasn’t an easy choice but I thought maybe they’re worth it.  Now anyone who reads this blog or know me otherwise knows veggie burgers are my junk food.  I usually down two of them once, sometimes twice if I’m feeling edgy, a week.   Served up with a heaping side of tater tots or a couple baked potatoes they are quite pleasing.  I decided to go along with the tropical vibe the box said I would encounter with these particular patties I would have a fried plantain with them and since I had a fesh pineapple handy that was in need of being devoured I should cook up a couple slices of it along side as well.

These are pretty hefty patties and I thought twice about having both but decided to not go hungry and threw both in the pan along with a slice of pineapple for each.  I am not a directions follower, that “cook 6 minutes each side and serve” crap is worthless.   Good things come to those who wait and I cook a veggie burger for no less than 45 minutes, on low, flipping about every 5 minutes.  I know you may think that’s burning them but no, that’s getting some amazing flavor from a patty.  I would be changing nothing in my cooking regiment with these.  I brought them to a good sizzle, turned down the heat to low and checked back every few minutes.  I served them up with the aforementioned plantain and on two fresh, homemade buns with lettuce and tomato.  They have a good texture and aren’t very mushy.  I could taste the chunks of ginger and noticed large flakes of coconut.  I did, however, find them to be a bit on the sweet side and decided to forgo the sliced pineapple since it lent only more sweetness.  Still, a bit sweet for me as a veggie burger.  If I did try these again I would add a bit of heat with some peppers instead of the pineapple slices and use mustard instead of the Vegenaise I typically use.

GardenBurger GardenSteaks Hula

Two of these at a time are a bit much but I toughed my way through them both, and the fried plantain, which is always a tasty treat.  Next time I’ll be spreading the box over a couple nights.

I saw two other varieties when I bought these, a black bean and a Tuscan flavor.  The Tuscan is not vegan, the Hula is.  I am unsure about the veganess of the Black Bean variety but if it is it will be tried next.

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Perfect Plantains

August 2nd, 2008

You may have looked at the giant green banana in the produce section and wondered what to do with it.   Plantains are one of my favorite munchies.   Usually served with tropical dishes, plantains are starchy and sweet only when they have black spots or are completely black, a state you would not should not eat a typical banana in, at least I wouldn’t because eating a black spotted banana is improper and should only be done in secrecy as it will bring shame to your family.

You can prepare fried or baked plantains, crisp and salty or soft and sweet which I prefer and will discuss here.  Start with a semi-ripe plantain with black spots, not completely black.  The plantain should give lightly to a soft squeeze.  Peeling a plantain is not as easy as peeling a banana.  To start cut the ends off of the plantain and cut 4-5 vertical incisions down the length of the plantain only cutting through the peel.  Next, pull each strip of peel off until you have a peeled plantain.   Cut the plantain in half and then slice each half lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Arrange the slices in a shallow pan with a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-low heat.   Don’t cook them over very high heat as the sugar content can cause the plantain to burn quickly.  About 8 minutes per side until dark brown flipping each slice as needed should do.   Occasionally, I’ll add a dash of allspice or cinnamon to the slices but most often I add nothing to them as they are perfect unseasoned.   When finished cooking move each slice to a plate with a paper towel to remove and excess oil then munch!

Plantain

Start with a semi-ripe plantain with black spots.   Yes, a Shun knife works best.

Plantain Ends

Cut each end off of the plantain before peeling.

Peeling Plantain

Cut the peel lengthwise 4-5 times down the entire length.

Peeling a plantain

Pull each strip of peel off individually to peel the plantain.

Plantain

Cut the plantain in half

plantain sliced

Slice each half into 1/4″ thick slices.

Cooking Plantains

Arrange slices in a pan over medium-low heat with 2 TBS of vegetable oil.

Cooking Plantains

Flip the slices when they become dark brown, about 8 minutes each side.

Plate of Plantains!

Yummy!

Veggie Burgers

Great served with my favorite junk-food, veggie burgers!

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