Friday, November 14, 2008

October leftovers

::Hides face:: I know, I know! I took a much longer hiatus than planned. But you have understand! – after a week at sea, with unlimited food and fruit, long afternoon runs, and relaxation time aplenty, it’s been very difficult to transition back to life on land. Don’t you feel sorry for me? No? Well, ok.

The cruise was fantastic – but you’ll have to wait to hear about it. Before I divulge my week of pure gluttony, I have some clean-up to do. I’ve got several little things from October that didn’t warrant entries of their own, but that deserve to be shared nonetheless. So here are my October leftovers. Following this entry, I’ll tell you about the vegan night I had with a couple friends before leaving town, and then I’ll get to the trip. It’ll be worth the wait.

Ok, first up: a meal I had the first week of October. This one has been waiting in queue for far too long. I went with Nick’s family to Thai Place (not only Nick’s and my favorite Thai restaurant, but also the location of our first date) for his mom’s birthday. I had the panang curry – tofu and bell pepper swimming in a rich sauce of cocunut milk and peanut butter, with jasmine rice alongside. As you can see, I was so impatient that I almost started eating it before snapping a picture.

One lazy Sunday afternoon, I coughed up the six bucks it cost me to try California Pizza Kitchen’s Tuscan hummus appetizer. It was a white bean puree with chopped tomato and basil chiffonade, and came with “flatbread” which was really just pita. It was ok, but rather thin, and not near as good as the white bean dip I make at home. (I use a Giada de Laurentiis recipe; I’ll put it up on here sometime.) But oh well, at least now my curiosity is sated.

Nick and I paid another visit to Po’s the week before my marathon, and I got another brand new dish. I’ve now had five different dishes at Po’s the five times I’ve eaten there, and they’ve all been amazing. It’s very rare that I try that many dishes anywhere – I usually find one or two things I like and stick to them. But with the great luck I’ve had at Po’s, I plan to continue exploring the menu.

This beautiful pile of deliciousness is noodles with black bean sauce. Yes, there are noodles in there, underneath about a pound of fresh, crisp mixed vegetables. This was unbelievable – it may very well be my favorite there ever. I didn’t even get it with tofu (since I was carb-loading), and that is the only thing that could possibly have made it more divine. There were so many veggies, and they didn’t use just any old type of noodle, either – these were the thickest, chewiest, most voluptuous udon noodles I’ve ever tasted, all bathed in a sweet-salty black bean sauce. I really just can’t get over this one.

::Fans self:: But ok, moving on. One Saturday on the way home from Nick’s house, I stopped at Whole Foods. (Even though it's bigger and arguably "better," I rarely go there since Wild Oats is practically right next door to me, and I'm rather loyal to it.) Near the back of the store, I met the Yummy’s Choice guy! If you’re not in or around the Midwest, you won’t know who that is, but if you’ve ever been in a natural foods store in the KC area, you’ve seen his handmade local dips in the refrigerated section. (See or order his stuff here.) He was manning a table full of samples of all his products – a half dozen different kinds of hummus (plain, spicy, roasted red pepper, garlic, etc.), baba ghanouj, olive spreads, marinated feta (for the non-vegans), and more, all of which he was dishing out on his homemade pita chips. And the dude was not stingy, either – as soon as I finished one bite, he’d hand over another, and another, till I’d tried almost all of them. He makes it in small batches right here in KC and delivers it fresh to area stores, and it was all wonderful. That’s him on the package.

I had never bought or tried any of his stuff, though, because it’s a little pricey; anywhere from $4.99 to $6.99 per package. But since he was such a nice and generous guy, and I thought it was cool that he was there giving away his own product, I bought some of his baba ghanouj in support of him (and my taste buds). It was thick, garlicky, not-too-smoky, and highly addictive.

Finally, I had a two-year-old Williams Sonoma gift card that I only recently spent. The problem was that it was for just $30, and if you’ve ever been in that store, you’ll know that nothing there is cheap. I’d put off spending it because I figured I’d have to use it to pay for a portion of something more expensive, and I just haven’t wanted or needed to buy anything expensive (at least not there). But I decided I needed to just use it up, so I did something I would normally never do – I bought a couple of tiny and very overpriced items. I bought a wooden spoon for $5 (that one was a necessity; I burned up my old one) along with a $16 jar of local maple syrup (only like 12 ounces of it, too!) and a $12 jar of “Indian Slow Cooking Sauce.” Yes, $12 for a jar of sauce. I justified it by saying I was treating myself to something I’d never normally buy, and at no expense to me. And you guessed it, it was accidentally vegan – no cream or even ghee, just tomato, coconut milk, and spices.

My preparation of it was very simple: two cans of chickpeas + the sauce, simmered on the stove for 20 minutes. Complicated, eh?

I made some brown basmati rice alongside, and I must admit, this sauce was delicious. Well-balanced, mildly spicy, thick, and savory. Would I buy it again? Unfortunately, not for $12. But I'm happy to have been able to give myself such a nice weeknight treat.

Past leftovers...
Vegan restaurant meals

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  1. You do know that Wild Oats is owned by Whole Foods, right? WF actually shut down a number of WO stores, including the one that was right down the street from us, here in Portland. My mom informs me that she can no longer find many of the items she used to at the 119th St. WO because of the WF take over. She inquired to one of the employees, whom stressed she wasn't the only dissatisfied customer because of it.

    And to answer the question you posed about finding tempah here in Portland: Much to my dismay, the rumor that PDX is extremely vegetarian friendly, really only pertains to downtown proper. No where on my side of town, in any grocery store can I find tempah, let alone many of the vegetarian/vegan staples I so easily found in San Diego. The closest WF seems to be somewhere along 20th ST. I live off 174th and the cost to get there just isn't worth the purchase. I can confidently say San Diego is far more veggie/vegan friendly than PDX.

    Glad to her your cruise was so relaxing! I could really use some relaxation, myself!

  2. Yeah, Whole Foods bought out Wild Oats awhile back, but I still call the 119th store Wild Oats (I think a lot of people still do). The selection has definitely changed, but for every item that I miss, there’s one that didn’t used to be there that I like.

    That sucks about the Whole Foods being so far away. I guess that area is more spread out than people realize, huh? Hopefully you at least have a good regular grocery store nearby!