Friday, June 27, 2014

It's Sprig and Vine Season for the Beans

When the weather warms, that means it's time for us to visit our favorite place for outdoor dining: Sprig and Vine.


We always order the same lunch, so why don't we just get that deliciousness out of the way.

Two Vietnamese cauliflower banh mis: pickled carrot and jalapeno, shredded lettuce, cilantro and mint, lemongrass aioli.  Best sammie in PA!

And kennebec potato wedges: grain mustard aioli to share.  As good as always.  Ok, maybe better.

What makes up the element of surprise is our appetizers and sides, which vary by season.  On this day, we chose a side of red chili coconut broccoli rabe: with roasted peanuts as an appetizer. As broccoli rabe tends to be, it was a little unwieldy; not exactly date food.  But, although we have very different spice tolerances, we both really enjoyed the sweet/spicy balance of this dish.  My only complaint is that it was served at room temperature when I expected it to be hot.

We also ordered the seared potato pave appetizer with pickled asparagus, grilled ramp, cashew, saffron aioli.  The waitress recommended it, but had a hard time explaining it; we immediately saw why: there was just too much deliciousness on one plate to put into words.

Ramps don't really do it for me, but the aioli (they're heavy on aioli at S&V) and the pickled asparagus were perfect taste and texture complements to the gorgeous brick of uniformly-sliced potato that was crisp on the outside and almost creamy on the inside.  It was as yummy as it was beautifully presented.

With no arugula in sight, 89 was extremely bored.

Luckily we were spied by some old friends and that perked her right up!

The very many benefits of dining al fresco.  Thanks for a wonderful afternoon, Sprig & Vine!

Friday, June 20, 2014

ZOUQ South Asian Snacks

I hadn't heard of Zouq's South Asian snacks before being contacted for a review, but as soon as I read what they are all about, I couldn't wait to receive the samples.

Every single variety of the snacks were extremely appealing, but the first one I dug into was the fiery sticks: delicately trimmed potato fingers tossed in a signature blend of original Indian red chilies and granulated mango powder, fried to crispy perfection.

They were like grown up hot fries crossed with potato sticks; I happen to be particularly fond of grown-ups, hot fries, and potato sticks, so I was immediately impressed.  The only reason I didn't eat the whole tin at once was because I had three other tins competing for my attention.


I meant to just taste one at a time, but I couldn't resist tucking into the curry crunch: a potpourri of sweet and sour taste, harmoniously blended with rice flakes, chickpea flour, peanuts and turmeric powder.

Unsurprisingly, this combination hit all the right notes of sweet, salty, and crunch.  There was no spiciness to this one, but an incredible amount of flavor.

The golden lentils: a selection of carefully sorted lentils, perfectly sauteed in oil and sea salt, resulting in a lively bite-sized snack were the plainest looking snack of them all, but I was on a roll and I wasn't going to stop until I'd sampled each of the four varieties.

On first taste I was ready to dismiss them as plain, but there is something about them that makes them just as enjoyable as the others- even though they accomplish that feat without any pizzazz.  I wouldn't necessarily choose this variety first, but the light, pleasant, crunch meant that nary a lentil went to waste.

Finally, I'd tasted my way through the assortment and made it to the jubilee mix: a blend of chickpeas, green peas, cashews, cumin seeds and coriander to give a perfectly balanced vibrant snack.

In theory, this variety reminded me of the curry crunch- solely by virtue of the assortment of flavors, textures, and spice.  But this one had so many elements- including the spiciness that was absent (but not lacking) from the curry crunch, that it may have even exceeded that one in flavorful impact.  I found myself eating a bit of each intermittently and never did decide on a favorite.

I'm no stranger to these types of snacks that can be found in South Asian markets in the U.S., but Zouq's options are in a class of their own.  I haven't seen them in the northeast as of yet saw them at Homegoods the other day, but you can also order them online; I highly recommend that you do.  They don't seem to currently be offered as a variety pack, so Zouq- if you're listening, that's my suggestion!  Happy snacking.

From the company:

ZOUQ – A New Line Of South Asian-Inspired Snacks – Launches Across The West Coast
 Made from all-natural ingredients, these exotic, vegan and gluten-free snack mixes offer a cultural experience in every bite

Los Angeles, CA (March 4, 2014) – Created by foodies that adhere to the mantra, “Share your food, share your culture”, ZOUQ is a new line of exotic snack mixes that offer an array of South Asian-inspired spices and ingredients in convenient, transportable packs.

“The name ‘ZOUQ’ came from a blend of three different words with origins in ancient languages that all relate to taste, flavor and marketplace,” said ZOUQ Founder and CEO Uzair Anjarwalla. “This blend of ancient language represents what we’re looking to do with this company, that is, create a brand that aims to connect cultures through the medium of consumer packaged foods.”

ZOUQ was inspired by the idea that food is the easiest and simplest way to participate in a culture, no matter its geographic location. With a background in entrepreneurship and a lifetime of global travel, Anjarwalla quickly realized the need for cross-cultural connection. Strong family ties in the South Asian region led to the launch of ZOUQ snack products using authentic flavors sourced directly from the culture and fabric of the area.
Each ZOUQ product is made with wholesome, all-natural ingredients and is vegan, gluten-free, cholesterol-free and MSG-free. ZOUQ South Asian-inspired snack mixes come in the following flavors:

·      Fiery Sticks: Delicately trimmed potato fingers, tossed in a signature blend of original Indian red chilies and granulated mango powder, fried to crispy perfection.
·      Golden Lentils: A selection of carefully sorted lentils, perfectly sautéed in oil and seal salt, resulting in a lively bite-sized snack.
·      Jubilee Mix blends in Chickpeas, Green Peas, Cashews, Cumin Seeds and Coriander to give a perfectly balanced vibrant snack.
·      Curry Crunch is a potpourri of sweet and sour taste, harmoniously blended with rice flakes, chickpeas flour, peanuts and turmeric powder.
The ZOUQ snack line will be available in both an easy, transportable and consumer-friendly can and single-serve pouches. The can, which is equal to roughly three/four servings, will retail for $3.99 and the single-serve pouch has a MSRP of $1.49. ZOUQ is currently available for purchase at select retail locations and online at

“We’re excited to be bringing these flavors and textures to market that are so near and dear to our hearts,” said ZOUQ President Talib Fakhri. “We want to make unique, exotic ingredients - spices and flavors we grew up with - accessible in the everyday experience.“

For more information, please visit and like us on Facebook.

About ZOUQ:
ZOUQ Foods International® is a company that loves exotic foods and flavors. ZOUQ connects cultures through the medium of food, with the goal of sparking international cultural discussion and experience. ZOUQ was created by a passionate group of foodies who want to find and preserve exotic foods and flavors from around the world, and to bring them to mainstream markets and consumers of the United States in premium packaged goodness. For more information, visit:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day: From Pancakes to Ice Cream

If there's one thing my dad and I can agree on, it's pancakes.


He ordered chocolate-chip pancakes for Father's Day brunch, so to shake things up a bit I decided to make a double recipe of the puffy pillow pancakes from Isa Does It (p. 253) instead of my favorite pancakes from Vegan with a Vengeance.

They were really yummy and certainly fluffier than my usual, but no where near "just under an inch thick" as suggested in the recipe and corresponding picture.

To make things a bit more exciting, I made a raspberry sauce that was adapted from the blueberry sauce recipe in VWAV (p. 39).

 Quality control:


My sauce receptacle was a bit too small for the half batch I'd made, so VM- lover of all things raspberry, got the windfall of what was left in the saucepan once the creamer was filled to capacity.

I'm not a huge raspberry fan, but the sauce was really good; I did wind up adding a little to my river of maple syrup.

OD got a plate-sized pancake with a chocolate-chip initial.

And, the leftovers.

For dinner, VM made pasta (capers for me only).


I made garlic bread.


And a salad for good measure.


 89 chowed down on some Romaine as well.

And, even though we really shouldn't have, we had dessert.  Coconut Bliss ice cream: salted caramel & chocolate and chocolate walnut brownie.

Is anyone else driven crazy by the fact that Coconut Bliss doesn't do a very good job of describing the flavors on their pint containers?  "chocolate hazelnut fudge" doesn't begin to explain the magic contained therein.  So, my revised descriptions are as follows- salted caramel & chocolate: creamy caramel ice cream swirled with salted caramel ribbons and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate shavings.  Chocolate walnut brownie: rich, dark chocolate ice cream boasting large, chopped walnuts and decadent brownie bites.


P.S. There may or may not have been some Sweet Ritual salted caramel sauce involved as well (more on that soon!).

Finally, here's 89 swiping a present for her...that somehow got mixed up in my dad's Father's Day gift.   Funny how that happened!

Hope everyone enjoyed their day as much as we did.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

National Donut Day

Since I may have gone overboard in my National Donut Day instagramming, I was going to let it pass on the blog.  But, after reading about foodfeud's celebration, I felt that I owed it to you to post my own glorious NDD escapades - even though such things also tend to happen with embarrassing regularity throughout the year for me.

VM, 89, and I made a beeline to Vegan Treats for the occasion; we frankly couldn't resist all of their delectable posts on the subject.  And, despite it being NDD, 89 couldn't wait for some ice cream.

she knows it's in there

Chocolate swirled with malt, rainbow sprinkles.

Really (malt only).

Onto the donuts!  While I normally err on the verbose side, I'm going to take a page from foodfeud and let the photos tell (most of) the story.


triple chocolate:

Mini donuts: rainbow sprinkles and Boston creme (with a fasnacht photobomb).


Also, these mini chocolatey creations that were going really fast.


The real star of the show, for us, was the donut sundae: a chocolate-encased angel food cake donut with a great big tower of whipped cream, chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, and sweet, sliced strawberries.

A cross-section of the donut alone:


We also took an assortment to a friend...(the one on the bottom right is lemon blueberry!)

Aaaaand, then I got a little lazy with the photos.  But, the one front and center is a cherry pie donut!

I think you get the idea.

I do want to give a shout out to these gorgeous, fun-fetti cupcakes that were also available.  Unfortunately, we couldn't partake because we were focusing on donuts.  Next time, fun-fetti; I'm coming for you!

So, there you have it; you now have until June 6, 2015 to prepare for your own observance of National Donut Day.

Or, just make your own donut day.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Dr. Bronner's Magic Castile Liquid Soap

I guess I don't blog about things such as vegan cleaning products much because there are other blogs that concentrate solely on that niche.  And, not to put too fine a point on it, ice cream is much more exciting to me.


But, I've uncovered a relative cleaning breakthrough!  At least for me.  Let me explain.  I have glass shower doors that I am intent on keeping sparkling clean (I have a squeegee and everything).  Contrarily, my  doors seem intent on remaining murky.  In my quest to prevail, here are some things I've learned. 1) friends don't necessarily want to talk about how they clean their shower doors.  2) the general population does not think you can combat tough jobs with natural solutions.

the glass door (seen left) has a texture, but otherwise totally clear!

To be fair, I have tried many vegan brands' cleaning products that haven't been so swell. But that's surely not by virtue of their veganity; perhaps they just generally suck.  I've also tried a bunch of natural remedies too.  One "green," questionably vegan, cleaning blog enthusiastically suggested straight up club soda.  When it didn't work in the least, I commented in earnest asking for other solutions.  Not only didn't I hear back, but my comment wasn't even published.  Back to the drawing board!

If I'm being generous, white vinegar diluted with water did a decent job.  But I'm not looking for decent; I'm looking for squeaky, blindingly, eat-in-the-shower clean.  And now I have it.


Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps!  If you're like me, Dr. Bronner's castile liquid soap was one of the first things you bought when you decided to make a commitment to causing the least harm as a vegan by eschewing animal exploitation: including not using products that are tested on or contain animal ingredients.  Dr. Bronner's boasts a ton of virtues, but I admit the two bottles I bought way back when (no expiration date!) have been hanging around ever since.  I do use it to clean my tile floors, but a little goes a very long way (and I only used it as shampoo that one time).

I took this picture through the door!

So now I better stock up.  It turns out that Dr. Bronner's castile soap diluted per instruction and applied only half-heartedly with a Skoy scrub makes your doors positively shimmer.


The answer was lurking in my linen closet (does that make me sound old?) all along.  I'm going to have to revisit all of the Dr. Bronner's possibilities because now I must might be a believer.  I hope this tip can make your life a little more sparkly too.

"why are you taking pictures from inside the shower?"