Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dining Out in New York City - by CHLOE.

by Chloe vegan NYC restaurant
Dining In at by CHLOE in NYC Restaurant
Now this is a "Happy Meal" - by CHLOE
Given my fondness for and success with Chloe Coscarelli's recipes, it's no surprise that I was anxiously awaiting the launch of her all-vegan NYC restaurant by CHLOE. I suspected this might be coming with her efforts to grow her brand by appearing on the Today Show and keeping an active social channel going (Instagram: @bychefchloe, @chefchloe) where she shared updates along the way; this was a smart move, building loyalty before opening. The location is another smart move, near the W 4th Street subway stop and right by NYU, where students can grab vegan grub until 12am most nights. The creative direction and branding is just like her, refreshing, adorable and easily likable! 


by CHLOE
Interior Design, Complete with Wicker Chair Swings (on the other side) - by CHLOE

Love all the packaging!

Tara Keramaty & Chloe Coscarelli
I saw the announcement just yesterday that her restaurant was having its grand opening on Tuesday, July 28th and I excitedly told my boyfriend exactly what we'd be doing for dinner the next day. He's enjoyed many Chloe cookbook recipes and was happy to take me! We showed up around 7:30pm and a large, but well managed line was there. They were giving away free cookies all day and even free burgers to the first 50 customers. The website only launched today with a posting of their menu, so I scrambled to make a very hard decision. In line, Chloe herself came around with free samples of a Peanut Butter Cacao Smoothie and a Kale Smoothie. Both were very yummy! I didn't hold back and asked to take a picture with her, she is so sweet! 

Now for our taste testing in the form of a large meal: I ordered the Kale Caesar Salad, as is, with shiitake bacon, avocado, almond parmesan, maple-wheat croutons, capers, grape tomatoes, and Caesar dressing. I hate to criticize my first choice, but this was just too salty for me to order again. I finished it, of course and thought the ingredients themselves were great, but it seemed like each one got salted separately and then tossed together. Along with it, I had a small order of Mac N' Cheese, which was creamy and delicious with a slight kick of smokey spice. The sauce coating the shells was a sweet potato cheese and it was topped with another dose of crunchy shiitake bacon. 
Mac N Cheese with Bacon Veega Vegan
Mac N' Cheese - by CHLOE


Vegan Burger in NYC
The Classic Burger - by CHLOE 

My non-vegan boyfriend got The Classic Burger with Air Baked French Fries. The Classic Burger is built off a super hearty patty with tempeh, lentil, chia and walnut, topped with pickles, onion, beet ketchup and served on a potato bun. I had one bite and said without much experience myself, "tastes like a real burger!" My boyfriend didn't want to share, which is a good sign. His major complaint with vegan burgers is the mistake of serving a mushy veggie-based burger on tough, dry bread so the whole thing falls apart in your hands - this burger had a soft bun and it held it all together. The fries were also very tasty and you'd have no idea they weren't actually "fried." The Beet Ketchup was hot pink and sweet, a nice upgrade. The Special Sauce was light orange and likely a cashew cream base, it was a little bland and I would have preferred more of a mayo or vegannaise flavor. 

 French Fries at by CHLOEVegan Sauces at by CHLOE NYC

Hostess Vegan Cupcake CHLOE NYC
Chlostess Cupcake - by CHLOE
Dessert was another full course! For my free cookie, I got the Cinnamon Espresso Cookie, compared to my experience making these from her cookbook hers were much thinner and crisp, not moist. I really liked it, its got a slight overbaked taste, but in a good way that complements the espresso flavor. My boyfriend bought for himself (thinking he wouldn't have to share!) a big square of the Banana Bread and a Chlostess Cupcake (previous blog post here). He really enjoyed the Banana Bread, stuffed with chocolate chips and walnuts. As for the Chlostess Cupcake, this was super chocolatey and velvetly smooth and rich. 

Vegan Cinnamon Espresso Cookie - by CHLOE NYC
Cinnamon Espresso Cookie - by CHLOE

Vegan Dessert Case at by CHLOE NYC
These Look Familiar! The Many Dessert Options - by CHLOE

The menu is lengthy, especially considering this is a brand new restaurant, so that means I will be making many return trips. Chloe is a doll and was a pleasure to talk to, so it makes it a no brainer to support her in her business endeavor! Good luck :)


by CHLOE.
185 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10012

by CHLOE in NYC
by CHLOE from the Outside

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dining Out in London - Food for Thought


Sign at Food for Thought Logo London


Spinach Cauliflower Dal with Brown Rice & Potato Salad with Garden Salad
Food for Thought


Vegan London Dinner Crowd at Food for Thought
Dinner Crowd at Food for Thought
I'll keep this one short and sweet, because sadly Food for Thought will be closed by the end of June after more than 40 years in business. It happened to be my favorite vegan food in London and the most conveniently located, close to both my office and my hotel, in Soho. Tucked away on a small cobblestone street, it always attracted a crowd in the early evening. People just like me enjoyed their delicious savory, hearty meals. It tasted like home cooked food and the servings were always generous. Not everything they served was vegan, but they had a few vegan entrees to choose from every night and for a combo meal adding a daily salad option was easy as all of them were vegan. 

One of my favorite entrees was the Spinach Cauliflower Dal with Brown Rice. I ordered salad to go with it and got a mix of vegan potato salad and garden salad with a yummy tomato dressing. The Dal dish was creamy, perfectly seasoned and fresh. On other visits, I also tried the Stir-Fried Vegetables with Brown Rice, the Pickled Vegetables, an Avocado, Corn and Black Bean Salad. One more stand out was the dessert I tried on my last visit. The Apple Pear Crumble was jam-packed with fruit and deliciously cinnamon-spiced. Every meal I enjoyed was takeout, but as shown in the photo they do have a few tables to dine in for a small price increase.
Stir-Fried Vegetables with Brown Rice Food for Thought Vegan Blog
Stir-Fried Vegetables with Brown Rice
Food for Thought

The limited, constantly changing menu might frustrate people, especially when you find a favorite, but considering how good the various options were, I enjoyed the surprise and variety! It was cash only, but this is far more common in London than back in the states so I was used to it. If only a place like this existed in New York, where you could get a vegan meal that tastes like home and satisfies you like no other! 




Vegan Takeout London Food for Thought
Butterbean Pie - Food for Thought

Taste the Rainbow!

Food for Thought
31 Neal Street
Covent Garden
London, UK WC2H 9PR

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dining Out in London - Cookies and Scream


Cookies and Scream Logo London UKBaker Girl with Cookies


Vegan Gluten-Free Blog Cookie Dough Balls Shake - Cookies and Scream London
Cookie Dough Balls Shake - Cookies and Scream


Cookies and Scream Camden Lock London Vegan Gluten-Free
I scream, you scream, we all scream for Cookies and Scream, because it's just that good! I had this spot on my list for must-visit vegan spots in London and it was reconfirmed when my London-based friend said how delicious it was. I went to the Camden Lock Market after my slight disappointment at Borough Market for the lack of vegan options. Camden was a lot more crowded and dirtier than I expected. It's got a sort of punk rock vibe going on and the streets are overrun with souvenir shops and wandering tourists. I shuffled around in the food tent area for a while searching for Cookies and Scream until I finally had to ask for help. Turns out it's actually tucked away inside, with a permanent stake in a small building called the Dingwalls gallery area. This dessert bar is not only vegan, but also gluten-free! When I discovered them I realized I wasn't alone in my excitement. The other customers were equally overwhelmed by the looks of the freshly baked, heavenly treats for sale. The staff works in a tiny kitchen area right behind the counter and I commend them for working wonders in such small quarters.




Tiny Kitchen Space at Cookies and Scream


Vegan Gluten-Free London Bakery Peanut Butter Cookie Veega
I ordered a Chico Cookie, which was a large peanut butter cookie with chocolate chips. It was super moist, gooey, and rich. I greedily also ordered a liquid dessert, the Cookie Dough Balls Shake thanks to a tip from Fat Gay Vegan and got a Gosh! Brownie to-go, which of course lasted a total of four hours post-visit. As I was drinking my shake all I could think was how unhealthy it must be because of how incredibly sweet and creamy it was, and I got a kick out of the "low-fat" label on the menu board. The huge chunks of cookie dough made it a more exciting and indulgent treat. Excluding my minor stomachache from all the (unrefined) sugar, my only complaint was that the baked goods were a little too moist and fell apart pretty easily. 


Vegan Gluten-Free Blog Brownie Cookies and Scream London

It was worth it, whatever damage Cookies and Scream did to my diet. Thank you for the delightful desserts, I will miss you back in the states!


Vegan Gluten Free Shake Menu - Cookies and Scream London UK Veega
Low-Fat Shakes?! Don't mind if I do...

Cookies and Scream LondonVeega Blog
  

Cookies and Scream
The Market Hall
Camden Lock Place
London, UK NW1 8AF

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Dining Out in London - Manna

Manna London

Sticky Toffee Pudding - Manna Vegan Blog Veega
Sticky Toffee Pudding - Manna

Manna is an all vegan restaurant located in Primrose Hill, a pricey more residential part of London compared to busier parts like Soho and Bloomsbury. I loved walking in this sleepy, quaint neighborhood with white townhouses and boutique shops. I met with a friend from the US who moved to London over a year ago, her vegan friend joined us for dinner. From my research I knew this historical (celebrating 47 years!) restaurant offered some of the traditional British fare, things I had never tried before even in non-vegan versions, like Bangers and Mash and Sticky Toffee Pudding, but even with the unknowns I was excited for a sit-down meal with good company. Manna is a small restaurant and although I called and couldn't get the reservation I wanted, there were empty tables throughout our dinner (a bit frustrating). 


Manna Mezze - Manna Veega Blog
Manna Mezze - Manna

Vegan Arancini - Manna
Manna Mezze, Arancini - Manna

Baja California Plate - Manna Vegan London
Baja California Plate - Manna
We started with the Manna Mezze to taste a variety of appetizers. I got to try the Arancini, Vegetable Tempura and Indian Pizza. All of them were delicious, though the Arancini and Indian Pizza were more unique and exciting. I enjoyed the sauces paired with each one. Though their menu changes often, the Organic Bangers and Mash is a constant. I ordered this dish for my entree, again I didn't have much to compare it to because I'd never tried the non-vegan version before. Sadly I wasn't in love with my dish, but it was good. It contained organic fennel and pumpkin seed sausages, on a parsnip and carrot mash with a red wine leek and thyme jus with onion rings. The vegan sausage had lots of seasoning and flavor, but the texture was a little too grainy. I of course loved the fried onion rings that topped the dish! My dining companions both ordered the Baja California Plate (sadly no longer on the menu) and really enjoyed it. Their meals were slightly more fresh and colorful than mine. Although already full, for dessert I had to get my hands on the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Luckily I was able to share it with my friend. It was presented beautifully with a flavor that was decadent and very sweet, certainly happy with this choice to end the meal!

Overall I enjoyed the appetizers and dessert the most. For this more relaxing, quiet dining experience compared to what I experienced in the city center, I would return here. The quality of food was high and service, despite being slow, was decent. In comparison to US prices, this wasn't a cheap meal, but I didn't feel like I was overpaying.



Organic Bangers and Mash - Manna Vegan London British
Organic Bangers and Mash - Manna
Mains, Entrees, Dinner Menu Manna Primrose Hill

Dessert Menu at Manna in London Vegan


Manna
4 Erksine Road
Primrose Hill
London, United Kingdom NW3 3AJ
Manna Restaurant London

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dining Out in London - Ms. Cupcake

Ms Cupcake Bakery London Vegan UK
Jaffa Cupcake - Ms. Cupcake Chococlate Vegan Blog
Jaffa Cupcake - Ms. Cupcake

I had this on my list of places to try thanks again to Chef Chloe Coscarelli. She did a cookbook tour in Europe and actually hosted a book signing at this bakery, the first vegan bakery in London! It was far from my hotel but I went along my route home from Paris. They recently started selling their products in Whole Foods so I'm sure many more vegan-curious folks will discover them soon. The baked goods were so fun and colorful! It was hard to pick what to bring home.

Vegan Cupcakes in London Veega


I had been indulging a lot already so I opted not to get a box of cupcakes, knowing I had very little self control! I picked up a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie for my friend (who excitedly reported back it was very delicious!) and for myself I got a Jaffa Cupcake, something I had never heard of before. It was a chocolate cupcake coated in an orange marmalade and then topped with vanilla-orange and chocolate frosting swirl, with a candied orange piece on top. The cupcake was moist, not overly sweet, frosting was plentiful and I enjoyed the sweet, tangy orange jam that gave it a more unique flavor than the average chocolate cupcake. Two thumbs up. I also saw on their website one of the more popular flavors is the Ferraro Rocher inspired cupcake, called The Ambassador, I was never a fan of those hazelnut chocolate balls so I decided not to grab the last one on the tray. Instead I ordered the Double Chocolate Cookie Sandwich, based on looks alone. My gut instinct was right, this was my favorite pick! I really liked the large, chewy cookies and the buttery, sweet frosting. I should know now that whatever I buy from a vegan bakery will get devoured in one day, just as these did. It's both a good thing, for my wallet (these were pricy) and waistline, and a bad thing, for my taste buds, that this place was outside of my central London location.
Ms Cupcake Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich Vegan LondonVegan Strawberry & Mango Cupcake Veega


In the storefront they are stocked with loads of vegan products, from cheeses, meats, ice cream, snack bars, candies, milkshakes, to baking ingredients and decorations. The baked goods case included many cupcake flavors, brownies, cookies, scones, and muffins. The prices of the baked goods were a little steep, when converted to USD so I didn't stock up. I got a good sense of their product though, and agree this was a great pick! Not too many vegan bakeries exist here, so they take the cake :)


I LOVED Raisinets as a kid,
these made me so happy!

Vegan Cheeses for Sale in the Cooler


Ms. Cupcake Vegan Bakery in Brixton London


Ms. Cupcake
408 Coldharbour Lane
Brixton (in South West London)
London, United Kingdom SW9 8LF
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