Friday, April 22, 2011

Food Porn Friday- A Vegan Afternoon with Mom


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A Happy Belated Birthday to my Mom! She's such a cutie and a young 'un. I think when she was my age I was 9. DOH! I want to take this time to publicly thank her for my love of food especially healthy, whole food. If anything, my Mom taught me balance. Indulge a little but eat great home cooked meals full of fresh veggies, and juice your vegetables if you can. My Mom flirted off and on with being a vegetarian and finally made the switch over 10 years ago. In the past several years, she's begun to become a vegan and avoid milk products in particular (although she still likes the occasional leather shoe. Can she be considered a vegan?). She's been a little disappointed that I have been incorporating meat back into my diet. I can't be the perfect daughter. :)

For her birthday, it was hard to find a place to take her. NYC is full of vegetarian places, but many of them don't have the special occasion feel to them. Husband J and I took Mom to Pure Food & Wine, a raw, vegan organic place, last year but honestly weren't feeling it. It was super expensive, and I just think I like my food cooked if it's not a salad, sushi, carpaccio, etc. Did I mention it was a little overpriced? This year I decided to take her to one of our old veggie standbys, Zen Palate, a pan-Asian vegan restaurant.

There are multiple Zen Palate locations, but I miss the old one in Union Square. It was a bi-level space with modern Asian-inspired decor. The restaurant lost the space, and now it's a TGI Friday's. Ugh! I don't hate chains (Hello, Cheesecake Factory!!!), but I had one of the most inedible meals of my entire life at a TGI Friday's. Anyhoo, another Zen Palate opened up in the same area, and I decided to treat Mom to one of our old favorites.

So, how was it? A little disappointing.

Kale & Seaweed Salad with tofu and ginger vinaigrette for Mom
She thought it was way too cold for a salad. I agreed with her. Salad should be cold, but they shouldn't be downright frigid.


Wonton Soup for me
Those definitely aren't pork wontons. Most likely seasoned gluten.


Curry Supreme for Mom
Soy with potatoes and carrots in a mild curry sauce with brown rice and a veggie spring roll. My Mom laughs at me when I take pics of food. She started eating anyway. Oh well...it's my Mom. :)


Rose Petals for me
Soy Crepes with Wolfberry Seeds (they looked like red beans) and garden vegetables (carrots, cabbage & broccoli) in rice ginger sauce with brown rice and a veggie spring roll

(There are some dishes with gluten protein and seitan as well. We both seemed to gravitate towards soy that day.)

My main course was good not great. The sauce was fine but way too thick and almost goopy. My Mom asked, "Do the same people run the place?" Unfortunately, the non-existent "I'm too busy doing other things" kind of service didn't help either. Our good memories of Zen Palate were gone with their old location.


After Zen Palate, I surprised my Mom by taking her to Babycakes, a vegan bakery in the Lower East Side. My Mom is an awesome baker and has been experimenting lately with vegan baking (I don't think the baking has rubbed off on me yet :) ). I was a little skeptical about a vegan, gluten-free, in some cases sugar-free bakery. Aren't some of those things the good parts about baked goods? Hmm...


The Babycakes Philosophy


Babycakes shop. It's teeny!


We grabbed several things to try at home.

Spelt Vanilla Cupcake (Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free)
Considering that it's spelt and not even flour, I have to say that this was pretty decent. For those of you with gluten intolerance this isn't for you; but if you have wheat allergies, it might be just the trick. The conclusion that my mother and I came to was that you need to eat the cake with the frosting. They need each other. Really.

Carrot Cake with Vanilla Frosting (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free)
Not bad. The cake was actually a nice moist but springy consistency. I sent most of it home with Mom.


Agave Brownie (Gluten Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free)
Nope. Sorry. It was more like a chocolate muffin than a brownie but there was really not much of a chocolate taste at all. Actually I couldn't really figure out WHAT that taste was. I know when you're not using eggs that it can be hard to replicate creaminess, and when you're trying not to use traditional sweeteners, you start to lose some of the traditional tastes of chocolate. I think that's the case here. Not tasty (and I really wanted it to be!).


Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free)

Awesome! Amazing vanilla "cream" filling. Smooth and sweet. The supple cookie was able to sustain all of that filling, and the filling didn't overpower any of that good chocolate taste. It blended well just like a sandwich. I'm going to go back specifically for these.

Any vegan bakers out there? What are your sources for good vegan baking? My Mom is always looking to try a new recipe. Any good vegan restaurants or bakeries near you?

Happy Weekend, all! Please enjoy your last days of Passover and Easter/Resurrection Sunday.


Zen Palate
There are multiple Zen Palate locations in Manhattan. We went to the Union Square one.
115 East 18th Street (between Park Avenue South & Irving Place)
New York, New York

Babycakes
248 Broome Street (between Orchard & Ludlow Street)
New York, New York
There are also locations in Los Angeles and Walt Disney World (alrighty then!)

4 comments:

BigAppleNosh said...

Boo on the somewhat disappointing Zen Palate experience! I used to live right in that area, and I kept on returning to ZP to try to like it, but it never grew on me :(

Hannah {Culture Connoisseur} said...

I love that you say "food porn." I use this term frequently and people either laugh or think I'm a creeper. It's 50/50.

Food looks great!!

megan marie said...

oooh babycakes! One opened up in LA last year so now I can have my babycakes fix anytime. I am not a huge fan on their cupcakes (too dry for me) but I love their frosting and love love their brownies!

Chinye said...

Hi! I am a new follower to your blog, which I really do enjoy. I am a self proclaimed 'foodie' and enjoy other's enthusiasm about food so it's so cool that your mom is vegan! I've never been to babycakes, but will be making the trip tomorrow for that cookie sandwich :-)

 

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