Boomerang’s at the Austin City Limits Festival

I went to Boomerang’s this week to (finally) try the vegan curry pie, but they were out! So imagine my delight when I found out that their ACL booth would be selling them; I had one for lunch. It was so good, I would’ve had one for dinner, but the Solar Falafel line was much shorter, so I went there (it was good, too!).


mofo

Cross posted from stellatex.

Austin: Home Slice Pizza

slice

Well, we set out to eat dinner at zpizza on 2nd Street, but upon arrival we were informed that they were “out” of vegan cheese (rumored, in fact, to be the mythical Daiya). So we went elsewhere. I mean, let’s get real – what would happen if customers walked into a pizza place only to be told that they are “out” of pepperoni? Seriously. Fail.

So, after a very brief deliberation, we decided to head down to Home Slice on South Congress. Though there was an hour-long wait, we did enjoy sitting on the patio (fans are nice) and having some beer and garlic knots. We also kept running into people we knew. Ah, downtown Austin.

knots

We settled upon a large pizza with onions, mushrooms, and green olives, with half artichoke hearts and half jalapeños. Alin was right – the crust was delicious. Thin, crispy, and vegan. Win.

pizza

pizza2

Home slice doesn’t have vegan cheese (yet), so the pizza was a tad dry for my taste. I suppose we could’ve paid more to pile on more veggies, but I generally like my pizza with vegan cheese, or at least with vegan pesto, or, failing that, slathered in olive oil. It needs to be crunchy and greasy. However, this pizza was delicious, cheese or no, and I will definitely go there again, although probably not on a crowded Saturday night. The diverse customer base was nice – and rather unexpected for, again, South Congress on a Saturday night – but, unfortunately, our patio time was somewhat compromised by the shrieks of three toddlers, egged on by their smitten parents, who were loud enough to kill a bat. Considering the place is hot, crowded, and dimly lit like Lucifer’s parlor (what’s up with that, Austin? this seems to be a pizza joint necessity), it doesn’t really lend itself to small children. Then again, neither do late night shoot ’em up movies… but that’s a whole other rant.

I would also consider ordering a pizza and picking it up, then adding my own Teese or FYH or homemade pesto. Overall, despite the lack of vegan cheese, I’d still say this is the best vegan pizza I’ve had in Austin so far (zipzza, you’ve been alerted!).

slice

More pics here.

Cross posted from stellatex.

Austin: Another Dog Almighty review

Pfluger Dog

Continuing the high calorie theme, I finally went to Dog Almighty. It’s a little out of my way, as it’s way down South Lamar, practically next door to the Broken Spoke, but I’d been hankering for a visit to Half Price Books, and there happens to be one in the same shopping center, so I decided to make that my Saturday morning itinerary (yep – you can’t say I’m not goal-oriented).

I got some fantastic titles at Half Price, including the first volume of Emma Goldman’s autobiography for $6.00 and a pocket-sized, full color field guide to Texas birds. Yee haw!

Then I wandered over to Dog Almighty. I was not disappointed. They have an impressive menu (and anything on it can be veganized!), and I plan to try their award winning vegetarian chili soon, but I couldn’t resist the Pfluger Dog. For those of you not from Texas: Pflugerville is a small town northeast of Austin, named after some German pioneer dude. It’s pronounced, “FLOO-gur-vil.” And you’ll occasionally see cars around here with those oval, European stickers (like the famous “GB” sticker) with the letters “Pf,” which I personally find charming. Anyway, the vegan Pfluger Dog comes with sauerkraut, mustard, and onions, on a vegan bun. I threw in a side of fries and a fountain Dr Pepper and settled in to read the Chronicle. The staff were helpful, the place was clean and comfy, and I liked the corrugated metal walls – it’s like being in a barbecue joint, but without the suicide food decor. So I felt pretty at home.

Not only was the dog warm, heaped with toppings, and delicious, but the fries were near perfect: slightly browned, crispy, and piping hot. I doused ’em in Cholula and dug in. I will definitely be back. In fact, I’ll probably take my parents there as a dinner compromise next time they come visit.

Dog 2

Also: $2 beer. All day, every day.

Dog Almighty
3005 South Lamar
Austin, Texas

Monday – Saturday: 11:00am-10:00pm
Sunday: 12:00pm – 9:00pm

Cross posted from stellatex.

Austin: Koriente

A few weeks ago, my dear pals invited me to lunch at Koriente, previously known as that-cute-and-seemingly-perfect-for-a-casual-date-place-that-I-always-see-when-I’m-at-the-municipal-court (don’t ask).

Turns out, not only do they have some delicious vegan items, but their story is pretty cool, too. According to their web site, it went like this:

My mom started this restaurant b/c she hates to cook. She loved going out to eat (make someone else do all the work) but found it tough to find healthy, msg free, low cal, balanced meals with prices within daily reach. She felt guilty for feeding us crap and felt sick of being a housewife, so she said, “Why not open a restaurant for people like me?”

I ordered the summer roll ($3.50!) and got a free side salad and miso soup. You just can’t do any better than this. It was fresh, colorful, and delicious. I don’t regularly eat miso soup, but then I have a tasty bowl like the one served here, and wonder why that is. It’s warm, but not too heavy for summer, and so good for you!

Summer roll with sauceMiso soup

I will definitely be back. And hopefully before my next court appearance.

Koriente
621 E 7th St.
Austin, TX 78701-3304

Cross posted from stellatex.

Vegan Sweets

Crossposted from Vegan Vanguard

Austin has a great vegan community and we’re really lucky to have such a wide selection of choices and so many great companies that are not only receptive to us, but work hard to accommodate us. This is a particularly good week for vegan sweets in Austin for two reasons. First, this week marks the end of the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale, which Austin is participating in with two separate bake sales:

Bake Sale #1

Date: Saturday June 27, 2009

Time: 11am – 5pm (or until the baked goods run out; be sure to come early!!)

Address: 110 E. North Loop
Austin, TX 78751

More Info: vegnartistnetwork@gmail.com and/or get in on the discussion at http://www.veganaustin.org/topic.php?id=3048.

Special Note: We still need bakers! Contact Leslie Ramos at vegnartistnetwork@gmail.com if you are interested in volunteering. She can provide recipes and vegan baking tips to those who might need a little help. Each baker will receive a surprise Thank You gift!!

The second Austin bake sale is very special, and is being hosted by Miss Julie’s Learning Center:

Date: Friday, June 26

Time: 3pm – 6:30pm

Venue: Miss Julie’s Learning Center

Address: 201 Ranch Road 620 South
Austin, TX 78734

Special Features: Bake sale will take place during our open house. There will also be crafts and jewelry.

The second noteworthy item this week is that Whole Foods’ flagship location has begun offering vegan doughnuts. Let me rephrase that, Whole Foods’ flagship location has begun offering a variety of doughnuts, all of which are vegan! I’ve only been able to try two flavors, but apparently they have a wide range including apple fritter, lemon-filled, raspberry-filled, chocolate, glazed, cinnamon sugar, and coconut glazed. If you go and check out the labels, don’t be surprised if the coconut doughnut is marked as containing eggs and dairy; I’ve been assured multiple times that that label is old and that all of their doughnuts are indeed vegan. They also have a variety of vegan cakes, including Joy’s Vegan Chocolate Cake (which is, unfortunately, terrible), a carrot cake, and a cookies and cream cake. I haven’t tried the latter two cakes, I’m not a fan of either flavor, but I’m very sad that Whole Foods chose to reformulate their Chocolate Mousse Cake and add dry milk powder so that it’s no longer vegan. Please go and try them, but get there early or call first, as they’ve been selling out of the doughnuts daily. If you try them and like them, please send feedback to the store, both the good (how much you appreciate them listening to our requests and responding to us) and the not-so-good (how important it is for those with special dietary needs, religious or spiritual concerns, and allergies that food be properly labeled).

Finding fresh, local vegan doughnuts is especially exciting for me because it enabled me to watch Twin Peaks and eat doughnuts with my unrequited love, Special Agent Dale Cooper. My last attempt to do so was foiled: I had heard by word of mouth and read in the Austin Chronicle that Mrs. Johnson’s had vegan doughnuts, but when I called, no one there even knew what vegan meant, and they told me they used a boxed mix which contained milk powder. This is something that’s been up for much debate on the VRA forums, but I never felt comfortable trying their doughnuts.

In fact, recently, many area vegans have been corresponding with local businesses that have either been less than forthcoming about what is and isn’t vegan, or have possibly been deceptive. This is one reason it’s so important to show appreciation and give feedback when companies are receptive and forthcoming to us. But that’s for another post, this post is for calling out noteworthy vegan sweets.

Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop
has been selling vegan cupcakes since October 2008, but they’re one of my favorite places in Austin, and I’ve never mentioned them. They offer a rotating selection of cupcakes, usually having two vegan options daily, and they don’t just relegate the vegan options to plain or predictable flavors, instead they give us Margarita, Dreamsicle, Mint Chocolate, Lemon Raspberry, Pineapple Upside Up, Cookies n’ Cream, Birthday Cake, and Ginger Cookie and prove vegan baked goods aren’t inferior. The cupcakes are petite, but plenty satisfying, very moist, and flavorful and they offer the only non-homemade buttercream-style icing that I’ve ever enjoyed. It’s sweet, but not immediate sugar headache sweet, and creamy without feeling like a mouthful of fat. They also offer pupcakes for your four legged friends and soymilk if you’d like a drink with your treat. They’re committed to being as green as possible using wind power, and compostable, unbleached and recyclable materials and offering discounts if you bring your own box. Did I mention how cute the actual store is? Delightfully adorable! Plus they’re located close to downtown and they have free wifi and a great website which lists their daily flavors. Sugar Mama’s has made a great mark on the community in the short time they’ve been around, even giving out free cupcakes during much of SXSW. They are also prone to selling out early, so call before you go.

Hey Cupcake! offers vegan cupcakes made by Celeste’s Best, unfortunately, I’ve yet to try them, but from all accounts I’ve heard they are moist, delicious and come in unexpected and adventurous flavors like banana walnut with buttercream frosting. Celeste makes other baked goods, including cookies, sweet quick breads and cakes. Visit Celeste’s site to see her menu of goods and a list of other locations where her goods are being sold.

The last vegan sweet I’m going to mention is NadaMoo vegan ice cream. NadaMoo was created by one of my first vegan/macro teachers, Amy Ramm. Amy is unrelenting in her commitment to quality, and it shows. When she first started producing NadaMoo for local businesses she was unable to find chocolate chips that met her standards, so what did she do? She began making her own chocolate chips! As NadaMoo has grown, its recipe has been reformulated a few times, and now, Amy’s found the perfect recipe for smooth, creamy ice cream that’s certified gluten free*, agave sweetened, soy free* and lower in calories and fat than most other varieties of ice cream, vegan or not. NadaMoo is also very involved in the community, sponsering local businesses, and organizations and often giving out free samples at various events around town.

*One flavor may still contain gluten or soy.

Austin: A tale of two Pad Thais

I’ve had Pad Thai* twice this week: first at campus standby Thai Kitchen, then at the Westgate location of Madam Mam’s.

Pad Thai, Thai Kitchen

The first time I ever went to Thai Kitchen, in 2005, I ordered a “medium-hot” red vegetable curry, and about halfway through a got a mouthful of hellfire and almost started to hallucinate. So when I moved back to Austin in 2006, and Thai Kitchen entered my regular rotation of nearby eateries, I stuck with the Pad Thai for a long time. I have since branched out to other dishes, but occasionally I’ll order a Pad Thai. Sometimes I call an order in and go pick it up, along with a cold can of Dr Pepper. It’s usually really tasty. However, the last two times I have had it at Thai Kitchen, I was disappointed; maybe it’s because I’ve now had Pad Thais elsewhere that had more flavor and complexity. The Pad Thai this week was gooey – way too moist, with very little flavor aside from a general sweetness. It was just a big blob on the plate. My lunch date ordered the tofu Pad Thai also, and was the first to comment, “Is this a little… bland today?” But the word we kept coming back to was “gooey.”

Pad Thai, Madam Mam’s

Contrast that with this big plate of Pad Thai I had last night at Madam Mam’s. This was my second visit to Madam Mam’s (I ate at the one on the Drag years ago, but don’t go there often because there is not much parking, and it’s too far from my office to be a walkable lunch destination, phooey!). Because my stomach has been a little upset this week, I decided to steer clear of spicy dishes, and ordered the Pad Thai. It was worlds better. Sticky, but not gooey, with a depth of flavor entirely lacking in the colorless plate of noodles at Thai Kitchen. The tofu was also much better. The larger chunks were more difficult to eat, especially with chopsticks, each one being about four full bites! The only things I would add to the Madam Mam plate are green onions (and/or cilantro) and a slice of lime. But, to be honest, I think I’m all Thaied out.


*Be sure to request “no fish sauce,” and, obviously, cut the egg.

Cross posted from The Vegan Tree House.

Austin: Polvo’s enchiladas

The first time I went to Polvo’s, in 1999, I wasn’t impressed. I ate meat then, and I am sure I had some sort of chili con carne cheese enchilada dish, but I remember thinking that the tortilla chips sucked, the sponge-painted walls sucked (I hate sponge-painted walls, but they’re a much worse offense in an Italian restaurant), the wait sucked, and the food was kind of bland.

Though I still agree with that initial assessment, I now love Polvo’s. Yeah, it’s a paradox.

When I came back to Austin in 2006 as a vegetarian, I discovered the cheese enchiladas with poblano cream sauce, and I was converted. I also realized that the availability of three distinct salsas was pretty cool (I like the dark, smoky one). I also determined that, with proper planning, getting a spot on the crowded patio after work or on a Sunday morning was worth waiting for, especially once I figured out that they have vegetarian rice and beans, and several different acceptable breakfast taco fillings. This past September, a bunch of us spent a lovely, long morning there before heading to ACL, and everyone – vegans to omnis – was happy. The margaritas ain’t bad, either.

So let’s talk about this vegetarian rice. To be honest, I don’t know if I believe them. But they advertise vegeterian rice, and every time I ask the waiter about the contents of the beans and rice, they tell me they’re vegetarian. I like the refried black beans at Curra’s better than the whole beans with tomatoes (ew) served up at Polvo’s, but the rice at Curra’s? No thanks. The rice at Polvo’s, on the other hand, is what one expects alongside enchiladas: it’s yellow, it’s sticky, it’s richly flavored! Yes!

Unfortunately, their guacamole, while served in ridiculously huge helpings alongside chopped cilantro, tomatoes, lettuce, and green peppers, is rather bland. Maybe it’s because it’s straight-up avocado, I don’t know – but I expect my guacamole to have a depth of flavor. It needs chili powder, cumin, lime juice, garlic, onions, and salt – yes, salt! Even El Chico slices the avocados right in front of you and tosses them with the requisite secondary ingredients in a fake mocajete.

Today at Polvo’s, I ordered the poblana enchiladas with “tamatillo” (physalis ixocarpa – is this different from “tomatillo,” physalis philadelphica?) sauce. They also have some other vegan sauces, such as verde, roja, and chipotle, and a choice of grilled vegetable filling. The menu, I noticed, advertises two potentially vegan tamales, too: vegetable and bean. They also serve huge burritos. These enchiladas were pretty damn tasty – and moist, like enchiladas are supposed to be (unlike at some other places that will remain nameless). There was so much that even I, consummate enchilada devourer that I am, could barely eat half of what was presented.

Thanks for lunch, Mike!

“Small” guacamole salad, salsas.

Poblana enchiladas with tamatillo sauce.

Enchilada plate, with vegan black beans and rice.

With added guacamole.

Cross posted from The Vegan Tree House.

Austin: The new Kim Phung at Lakeline is fancy

And still tasty. Check it out!

I had the tofu, garlic, pepper, and lemongrass vermicelli bowl (as usual – it’s so good!). Their new menu specifically says the fish sauce will be served on the side, or can be replaced with peanut sauce. And you cannot go wrong with some peanut sauce.

The decor is very different from the original location on North Lamar. It’s sleek and modern, with low lighting and a very laid back atmosphere. While the original location is wonderful, it feels like the type of place state employees rush into for lunch; this location feels like a spot for a date.


Kim Phung
10900 Lakeline Mall Dr

Bliss Raw Café & Elixir Bar set to RAWK Dallas!

Dallas is about to RAWK it! Bliss Raw Café & Elixir Bar is set to open on April 28. My friend and Dallas food writer, Lisa Petty, and I were invited to attend a tasting of Bliss’ menu this past weekend.
Check out my write-up on the Dallas Observer’s City of Ate.
And take a look at some of the rawkin’ food we sampled!

Strawberry Sheezecake: Crazy Amazing!

Rawko-Taco and Choc Salad: We both loved the Taco!
Lisa was diggin’ on that chocolate infused cabbage salad.

Nori Bites: Tasted SO real, they freaked me out!
Lisa loved ’em!

Coconut Berry Parfait: Like an ice cream and berry dream-come-true!

Aster’s Ethiopian – Austin

Vegetarian combination plate.

I met fellow Austin blogger Alin at Aster’s Friday night for what was, shockingly, my first visit to the cozy Ethiopian restaurant just off I-35 at 26th Street (that’s Dean Keeton to you young’uns).

For newcomers like me, there’s a combination plate (above) for $13.95, which features a sample-size portion of each of the eight vegetarian (actually vegan) dishes on the menu, plus a cold salad. They serve wine and beer, and the waitstaff are friendly and helpful. The food comes out fast, but, nevertheless, this is a great casual spot for a long dinner and conversation. If you like warm potatoes, collards, and lentils, you’ll probably like Ethiopian food. The crepe-like flat bread (called injera) doubles as both cutlery, allowing you to scoop the delectable bites up between your fingers, and as a slightly sour background for the alternately mild and spicy flavors of the rib-sticking mains.

The leftovers, which the boy and I ate on Sunday before heading out to Pedernales Falls (stay tuned), were almost better, as Alin predicted.

Cross posted from The Vegan Tree House.