Monday, September 30, 2013

Vegan Treats Bakery (Vegan MoFo 2013)

So much of our life Bethlehem Vegfest experience revolved around Vegan Treats, but our haul from that day definitely deserved its own post.  And no, I'm not just saying that.  But, since I've inhaled savored quite a bit of Vegan Treats since then, let's just consider this a showcase of my latest favorites.

Some vegans toss around the term "vegan treats" as though it's a blanket term for all things that fall into the dual categories of vegan and treat.  I disagree; to me, the term Vegan Treats is somewhat sacred.  Since Danielle Konya singlehandedly created a brand, a niche, and- frankly, an empire; in my opinion, she has earned the sole rites to the title to describe her creations and hers alone.  There are many impressive vegan goodies on the market, but, in my opinion, only hers are "Vegan Treats."

In no particular order:

Chocolate-dipped chocolate cookie...

...with speculoos filling!  These also come in a larger version...filled with peanut butter; I can't decide which I like better.

It was hard not to eat the entire display of these Pennsylvania-Dutch inspired fasnachts the first time I saw them.

Imagine a thick donut dusted with powdered sugar, halved and filled with a delightfully light cream.

A huge, fun mess to eat!


chocolate and salted caramel cake truffle:

89 waiting for a taste of the first pumpkin of the season:


 pumpkin and vanilla soft-serve:

Thumbs up from you-know-who.

Way up.

Chocolate glazed donut with chocolate drizzle, curls, and crumbs atop:


VT's interpretation of a sundae: chocolate-encased angel's food cake donut with sliced strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate drizzle:


Chocolate and salted caramel soft-serve (VM's absolute fave):

chocolate hazelnut cake:

Cross-section of the seedless raspberry jelly-filled, powdered donut.

A naked cannoli!  (I am currently partial to the chocolate-dipped variety).

Boston creme donut; eat or be eaten!

wild blueberry soft-serve (my fave!):

89 really liked this one.

She pretty much just held her tongue out until someone put ice cream on it.

This was a new one for me; it's shaped like a pretzel, but tastes like a quintessential glazed donut dusted with cinnamon sugar.

caramel pecan roll (OD's favorite):

But, wait; there's more.  Did you know that besides all their donuts/cakes/cookies, etc. that can be packed for travel, Vegan Treats is prepared to sell you soft-serve to-go?


This was a surprise delivery from my parents right before a fast (tee hee): concord grape and vanilla soft-serve:

I thought the flavor was a bit crazy, but it was actually certifiably nuts- in the best possible way.

Apparently we all scream for ice cream.

I wasn't the only one who couldn't resist.

And, as long as we're speaking of take-home booty, why not take home a bunch of stuff in one of their new, reusable bags?  They come in two convenient sizes that are perfect for filling up at the farmar or Vegan Shop-Up; I'll let you decide which nets the larger haul.

Well, that concludes Vegan MoFo 2013, everybody!  I hope you enjoyed the month and will continue reading.  A (soy) Bean finally has a Facebook page (brand new!), so I'd love if you'd give it a like and stay connected.  If you particularly want to keep in touch with 89, she's on Facebook also!  For those Instagrammers out there, peep her via #dognamed89.  Bottom line: keep in touch, MoFo-ers.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Beer: Samuel Smith Handcrafted Organic Fruit Ale (Vegan MoFo 2013)

I am not a beer drinker: generally speaking, I don't like the color, smell, or taste.  But when a friend ordered Samuel Smith's organic raspberry fruit ale at V-Note not too long ago, I was intrigued.  It smelled delicious.  The color was astoundingly appealing.  The taste was fruity and refreshing.  I looked up where to buy it, excitedly brought home three flavors, and discovered that it's all about the handcrafted organic fruit beers!!

The bottles are kind of large, so I brought the strawberry beer to share at a BYOB Indian lunch date with VM.  It was pleasant and slightly sweet, but the fruit essence was much lighter than the raspberry I'd already tried.

FYI: lunch (samosas, aloo ghobi, bhindi masala, pakora, dal makhani).

Because I was already suspecting the raspberry was going to be our collective favorite, next we tried the cherry beer.  The color was great, but not indicative of the fruit-to-beer taste ratio; it definitely tasted too beer-y for me. 

In case you're wondering, we paired this one with Thai food (spicy yellow curry: huzzah!).

I couldn't wait any longer to have the raspberry beer again.  As expected, with the first sip it was VM's favorite as well.

The color, smell, and fruitiness is, without a doubt, the best of the bunch; it has it all and then some.  It was at this point she suggested that perhaps we shouldn't keep sharing.

When I returned to the store to buy more raspberry, I found apricot beer.  I couldn't resist trying it, but it too was no match for my favorite flavor.  There was less of a fruit taste and the color- through no fault of its own, reminded me of apple cider; blech. 

I did still drink it; it was extremely warranted as a result of my spicy okra with onions.

In case I didn't make it clear, the raspberry is my favorite.

And just my luck, it goes exceedingly well with homemade pizza.

As I said, I'm not a beer drinker.  When I was digging around in the drawer looking for a bottle opener, I found this.  If you're familiar with the initiative, you'll know that it's been a while since I've had a beer. 

An oldie but goodie.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Overdue Accolades for Champ's Family Bakery Diner (Vegan MoFo 2013)

True, I have blogged about the new and improved diner vibe of what was formerly only a bakery at the Champ's Family Bakery location (Champ's Diner? Champ's?), but I must admit to being embarrassed that the frequency and intensity of my Champ's blogging has not adequately reflected or appropriately conveyed my enjoyment of the restaurant; I've been so busy eating that I haven't gotten around to sharing.

My feelings on the former Champ's bakery space was that it was encouragingly large, disappointingly barren, unintentionally unwelcoming, with too few offerings.  The diner makeover has been astounding- both for use of space and general vibe.

And the menu?  Don't get me started.  It's huge and varied; gotta love a place where you can choose between countless options ranging from authentic comfort food to totally healthy grub.  Long gone are the days where you had to scan a menu for the sole veganizable option; it seems as if there's nothing Champ's can't veganize.  Some of the recent choices by me and mine.

After an unfortunate banh mi from Blossom, I was happy to take foodfeud's solid recommended of Champ's version: banh mi chay: grilled tofu, fresh cucumbers, pickled carrots, daikon, & jalapenos, cilantro, mayo on a hoagie. holler if you want it spicy! (I hollered).

I'll admit that it looks unassuming, but it was actually quite perfect: soft baguette, perfectly pressed and seasoned tofu, expertly pickled veggies, no cilantro (by request), with just the right proportion of mayo and sriracha.  It was WAY better than Lan's IMHO.

This cupcake caught my attention because it's a cupcake it's chocolate it reminded me of a great cupcake from Bakesalery.  The waitress described it to me as a chocolate Boston-creme cupcake, but it was really so much more than that.

Chocolate cupcake, ganache icing, absolutely FILLED with a chocolate pudding/cream hybrid; sorry, Sweet Avenue, but this is how you make a filled cupcake.

I also have a tendency to bring home a couple of things (duh).

For instance, this seemingly simple but totally delicious chocolate-topped, peanut butter rice crispy treat.

And, cookies.  First, an impressively authentic dinery chocolate chip cookie.  And then, a sugar cookie that I was initially on the fence about because it didn't taste like the sugar cookies I generally gravitate to... and then I realized: it tasted (and looked with its yellow tint) like the sprinkled freebies your non-vegan, former self used to snag from the register counter in any diner in America!  Or, was that just me?  In any event, Champ's nailed it again.

Some other dishes I've consumed or watched being consumed as I continue to be impressed by Champ's:

SAG: faux "egg" & soysage ham on a kaiser roll with Daiya cheddar.

All vegan slam: tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, soysage, garlic rosemary potatoes, with a biscuit and salad.

Up close and personal with the garlic rosemary potatoes.

Breakfast Burrito: field roast chorizo sausage, tofu scramble, bell peppers, cheese, chipotle dressing in whole wheat tortilla with home fries, salad

MVG showing off his food photog skillz

Soltero bowl: "field roast" chorizo sausage, sauteed greens, quinoa, onions, mushrooms, mixed bells with garlic rosemary potatoes.

Hot Cubano: grilled ham, melted cheese, pickled jalapenos, pickles, mustard, mayo, on a pressed hero (reminds me of the best cubano ever at Red Bamboo Brooklyn!!)

Kitchen sink salad: mixed greens, kale, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, sprouts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, bells, avocado & your choice of dressing.

I had a really hard time remembering what this dish was; how appropriate that it is the awesome bowl: quinoa, tofu scramble, sauteed greens, mixed bells with garlic rosemary potatoes, as the friend in the green hoodie is, by name, awesome.

Reuben: grilled seitan, sauerkraut, cheese, Russian dressing on toasted [marble] rye.

And, finally: my favorite thing from Champ's...cereal killer cookiesWith Fruity Pebbles and marshmallows, of course.  There are four pictured here because that was all they had left on this particular day.  So, I said: GIVE ME ALL OF THEM!  Duh.  You have to be quick.

Champ's atmosphere is effortlessly cool and definitely casual, but don't let that and the diner-vibe fool you.  The staff may seem laid-back, but they are friendly, uber-efficient and perpetually hustling.  They can't help it; there's almost always a long wait for a table.  But rather than be too busy to be attentive, they are like super-servers: buzzing around deftly and effectively.  They're happy to answer questions about the menu, substitutions are effortless, and they never rush you (be mindful, though; people are usually waiting).

One final thing to love about Champ's: the tax is already part of the price.  This makes figuring the bill supremely easy and I am always for anything that makes math easy.

Shout-out to fellow MoFo-er Vegan Fatty Boombalatty for beating me to the punch with her Champ's recap earlier this week and for alerting me to the new menu item: spicy tempeh wings!