Eating Through Rochester

I spent the last weekend of spring break visiting my sister in Rochester, New York. She’s moving from there soon and kept saying “Come visit me and eat all the good vegan food up here!” So I finally took her up on the offer.

I arrived early in the afternoon and we immediately went to John’s Tex Mex. The place was small, but not too cramped and with very friendly staff. We started off with chips and a flavorful chunky salsa.I ordered the un-beef burrito bowl with refried beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and olives. It was served with a side of Cholula hot sauce and two house-made salsa (salsa verde and chipotle) which were fantastic. I honestly expected it to be smaller, with about the size of burrito filling, but the meal was so ridiculously huge that I ended up getting two meals and a midnight snack out of the one bowl. Not that I’m complaining, we definitely got a bang for our buck here.

IMG_0401

Street art was prevalent throughout Rochester. The image below is just one of many I saw, including  illegal graffiti and several professional murals. Poor Kaitlin had to deal with me pressing my face up to the window every time we drove somewhere or trying to roll down the window to snap a picture.

Dinner was at Spot Coffee, a nifty café inside a renovated Chevrolet service station. The atmosphere inside was great, with a tall ceiling and a large selection of seating areas. Plus the staff was very knowledgeable on what was and wasn’t vegan (parmesan cheese in the dressing, eggs in the bread, etc.)

I settled for the one vegan menu item, the hummus wrap. Apparently their hummus flavor changes on a daily basis, and that day was chipotle. I was pleasantly surprised with how this one turned out. I’ve had a few too many hummus wraps that were under-flavored with sad wilted vegetables stuffed inside. But this wrap was nicely toasted and stuffed with mixed greens, tomato, and cucumber. It was served with a side of balsamic tossed greens.For entertainment that night we stopped by The Little Theatre to see It Follows. The theatre was adorable and plays mostly independent movies.

Before I left Alabama, I’d heard multiple times to go eat at Dogtown when I got to NY. Since my life dream is to own a vegan hot dog cart, I think it makes sense to take any opportunity to try a new veggie dog.

I found out upon walking into the place that Dogtown was honorably mentioned in the Top Five Vegan Hot Dogs contest. I’ve actually been to the restaurant that won 4th, Dreamy Weenie’s in New Orleans. I may need to make a travel itinerary based around eating at all the other winners too…

IMG_0407

Inside the restaurant was pretty packed, so we ended up ordering our food to-go. The décor (and menu names) were all dog themed, and even included this adorable wall of  customers’ dogs.

What I ended up ordering, after staring open-mouthed at the menu board and the plethora of options for a while, was the vegan German Shepard. It was a veggie dog with sauerkraut, yellow mustard, and cooked onions. The bun was also phenomenally hearty (soggy buns make me sad) and didn’t fall apart before I finished the hot dog. Served on the side were fries and ketchup.

The East End area had a ton of cute little shops. One of which was Greenwood Books, a used bookstore with books ranging in topic from vintage piano sheet music to Appalachian herbal medicine.

IMG_0410

Unsurprisingly, I found a book that I needed. This vegetarian cookbook combined two things I love: food and travel. What’s not to like? Since returning home, I’ve already tried the beer battered tofu recipe (from the England section) and it was fantastic. We’ll see, soon we may have a monthly “travel” meal to other countries.

On my final night in Rochester we ate at the Red Fern, an entirely vegan restaurant. I ordered the Compost Plate, a nice play on the garbage plates that Rochester is famous for. All piled together, it featured pasta salad, a chilled sweet potato salad, balsamic tossed mixed greens, and buffalo tempeh. Everything tasted fantastic, my only complaint was that the buffalo was not hot at all. Kaitlin said that she’s had a hard time finding anything actually spicy in the north, and that southern states seem to be better at accurately labeling things as “hot”.

 Kaitlin decided to partake in the buffalo sandwich, which featured the same buffalo tempeh as my plate, stacked together with pickled vegetables and bleu cheese sauce. After trying a bite, I could happily live without a vegan replacement for bleu cheese (bleck!) but the otherwise the sandwich was very tasty, especially the fresh soft bun it was served on.

 I had a wonderful time eating through seeing Rochester and hope to return again someday. Who knows, maybe that’s where my hot dog cart will end up. 🙂

Lazy Liebster

It has been a little over two weeks since Vegan MoFo ended and I have been enjoying my time off. But I’m back and happy to hear I’ve gotten an “award” from Just About Vegan. She gave me the Liebster Award which is meant to recognize newer/smaller blogs and form relationships in the blogging community. Now it’s my turn to answer her questions, and choose other blogs to join in on the fun. I couldn’t figure out the amount of followers for the blogs I chose, so I just estimated by the amount of comments on their posts.

liebster-award (1)The rules are:

  • Answer the questions provided by the nominator, then come up with 10 new ones to ask your nominees.
  • Nominate 8 other blogs, let them know you have nominated them and put a link to their blog in your post.
  • No Tag backs (i.e. you cannot nominate the blog that nominated you)
  • Nominees must have under 200 followers on any platform.
  • You must tell all the blogs that you nominate that you have nominated them.

1. Describe your fantasy meal.
I would love to have a vegan version of pretty much any meal in any Studio Ghibli film. For some reason I just think animated food looks so good, especially anything Asian. So Sen’s steamed red bean buns, Sophie’s large breakfasts, and Ponyo’s ramen with ham would all be on my fantasy meal menu.

2. What’s your go-to easy weeknight dinner?
The one thing I usually have ingredients for is chili. Throwing together some canned beans with tomatoes, spices, and a handful of textured vegetable protein is a very easy and filling dinner. Plus it’s easy to mix things up by adding different vegetables or hot sauces each time.

3. How did you learn to cook?
I’ve pretty much always had an interest in cooking. I grew up with both an Easy Bake Oven and a Queasy Bake Oven. Once I went vegan, my mom had a hard time figuring out what to feed me. So I soon was making the majority of my own meals. The first few recipes I learned how to make were chili, twice baked potatoes, and carbonara. Reading blogs also helped me to know that it was possible to live vegan and still eat incredible dishes.

4. How do you go about developing a recipe for your blog?
I have to have some inspiration spark for a recipe to appear in my head. It’s usually from something I see (omnivore cooking show, food a book/comic character is eating, etc.) or the desperation of combining random ingredients from a nearly bare pantry. I start by listing the ingredients, maybe looking up a few similar recipes (especially if I need certain ratios like in baking), and then just set to cooking. I always have a food-stained notebook nearby to write down measurements, cooking times, and what did or didn’t work out.

5. Have you ever had a kitchen disaster? What did you learn from it, if anything?      I once started a small kitchen fire by turning on the wrong burner, which accidentally melted a Tupperware top and caused it to burst into flames. I learned to always double check which burner you turn on, and it’s always stupid to leave plastic things near the stove top. Plus you should always be a good friend and buy your roommate new Tupperware when you melt his. Many life lessons were learned that day.

6. What have you found to be the most surprising thing about being a vegetarian or vegan?                                                                                                                                      I eat way more variety now than I did in my pre-vegan days. Most people view veganism as a very restrictive diet, but I’ve got a much wider palate now than ever before. Before I would have never tried nutritional yeast, seitan, chia seeds, or a variety of other “health” foods that are currently sitting in my kitchen cabinets.

7. What about the most challenging?                                                                                  Not to sound whiny, but the judgment of other people. Most of my friends and family are wonderful about how I choose to live, but sometimes they, or even complete strangers, feel the need to but in with unwarranted advice. “You are going to eat dairy when you get pregnant, right? A vegan diet cannot support a baby.” or “God made animals to be eaten. It’s an insult to not eat them.” and my personal favorite from a customer at work “Well if you don’t eat meat you’ll end up looking like Quasimodo.” My life philosophy is for everyone to mind their own business and we’ll all be happy, vegan or not. 😀

8. How do you tend to navigate situations in which you’re the only vegetarian or vegan?                                                                                                                            Always bring lots of yummy food. That way you both know you’ll have something to munch on, and can pleasantly surprise others who thought vegans only ate kale and buckwheat.

9. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon?                                          If it has been a long week, I’ll sit down and watch a few episodes of Adventure Time while knitting. When I am not in the mood to veg out I’ll hula hoop, read a book (mostly fantasy, with a bit of non-fiction thrown in there), or practice some yoga.

10. What is one one thing your readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m not sure how much crap I’m going to get for revealing this, but Peter and I work part-time at a chicken restaurant. It’s actually a wonderful place to work with fun bosses and coworkers with great live music, though it is sometimes awkward when a customer asks “What’s your favorite thing on the menu?” and I have to say “Umm, the salad?” I know it would bother some vegans, but it’s a way for us to make ends meet and work at someplace we enjoy. Plus I’m eventually going to harass them into adding a veggie burger to their menu.

And now to foist this off on award some awesome blogs. I nominate:

A Cook in the Making

Banana Girl Vegan Curl

Chreese on Toast

Desi P Knits and Quilts

Elite Food

Ellen’s Vegan Kitchen

Rabbit Food

Vegan Heartbeats

Here are my questions:

  1. What famous chef would you choose to cook you dinner?
  2. What food did you hate as a child and enjoy/tolerate now?
  3. Favorite sandwich filling?
  4. If you could only eat three meals for the rest of your life (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), what would you choose?
  5. What was the first recipe you veganized?
  6. What is the weirdest or funniest reaction someone has had to your vegan choices?
  7. Do you have any strange food habits (my food can’t touch, has to all be a different color, etc.)?
  8. Which type of vegan substitute (veggie meat, plant milk, etc.) can you not live without?
  9. What food item do you prefer to make at home, even if it’s easily bought?
  10. What is your preferred dish for sharing with omnivores?