All vegan pizza today! Screamers Pizzeria is a cool place in Brooklyn with a nice punk-rocky vibe and is all about the vegan pizza! Screamers is very small, but there are some places to sit (just be aware, there is no bathroom). They mostly do take-away and delivery.
You can order either slices orwhole pies. You can pick a pie from the menu, which includes veganised classics such as the Margherita (tomato sauce, ‘mozzarella’ and basil) and the Hawaiian (vegan ham, pineapple, vegan cheese), and interesting creations such as the Vampire (onions, garlic, ‘pepperoni’ and almond ricotta). Or you can get creative and think up your own version. They also offer a calzone and garlic knots (and I am not sad I didn’t try those!). Of course they sell some soft drinks and root beer.
When we visited there were several options available, we tried the mushroom and tomato/”cheez” slices, and in the second round a “cheeze”/cauliflower and seitan pepperoni pizza slice. Overall the pizza crust was a bit less crispy than those from Two Boots but the amount of choice at Screamers is much more overwhelming!
There are even vegan desserts: cannoli; which are ‘tubes’ of pastry dough filled with creamy chocolate filling. The non-vegan version contains ricotta. I am not sure what was in these but they were good! The dough and cream were not too sweet, I really liked it.
This cute café in Geneva has opened only a few weeks ago! I had read about the opening of Be Kind Cafe, and since the initial opening coincided with a day I was off of work, I was excited to visit! Unfortunately, the opening was postponed due to water issues. It took a while before I could visit, since they are only open during the week and I have a full-time job in another city. So when I finally had the chance to be in Geneva around lunchtime, of course I directly wanted to visit the Be Kind Cafe!
Be Kind Cafe offers breakfast foods, coffee and pastries, and lunch. There is a daily lunch menu, with some standard items but the exact ingredients are different per day, and change depending on the season and availability, since they use almost exclusively biological and local products. There are some larger dishes, like a burger and a savoury pie, and smaller foods like sandwiches and soups. For drinks there are juices, hot drinks like coffee and tea, but also wine and beer. You can eat in the café itself, but they also do take-away. The atmosphere of the café is very relaxed, it was quite spacious, hip and still cosy. A place to sit with a nice cup of coffee and a delicious vegan meal.
When I visited I tried the daily bagel with a side of roasted potato wedges. The bagel was on the smaller side, and contained salad, roasted pumpkin, vegan ‘ricotta’ and almonds. The tastes went very well together! The bagel bread is very tasty and toasted rather than soft. The potatoes were well-seasoned, large, nice and crunchy.
For a drink I tried the kefir with figs. I know kefir as a yogurt-product, but this was rather a fermented fruit juice.
There are several desserts available, there are some standard on the menu but there are also some daily variations. I tried the apple crumble with oats, with vanilla ice cream on top. With it, a coffee of course 🙂 The crumble was great!
I really like the Be Kind Cafe, the food is good and service great! The only downside is that they are only open on weekdays. I really do have to get back one day for their breakfast menu though; vegan croissants! Also I’d love to try the vegan burger they offer. And the other cookies I didn’t try yet…so yes, I will be back 🙂
Cinnamon Snail started as the first vegan organic food truck in the US, in 2010, and has since then become well known. They have now two locations in NYC in addition to the food truck (in Fidi and in the Pennsy food hall). I initially searched for the food truck, but couldn’t find it. So I went to the nearby Pennsy food hall instead. I actually visited Cinnamon Snail a few times during my stay in NYC, to try several different foods. Choosing is hard with such great options!
Of course the Cinnamon Snail is mostly known for their sweets: cinnamon rolls and doughnuts. But they also have very nice savoury foods like sandwiches and burgers. You can order take-out and delivery from the food truck and the Fidi location, I believe all locations have slightly different foods.
There are is space to sit in the Pennsy food hall, though it gets very busy. For my first visit of Cinnamon Snail I wanted to try some pastries! I had a cinnamon roll (of course), a peanut butter cookie party and a raspberry danish. All sweets are quite big and sugary, as expected!
I later went back to try some of the savoury foods; a Memphis BBQ Deluxe burger (lentil burger on a pretzel bun, of which I have no picture), chilli cheese tater tots and a creole grilled tofu sandwich.
Unfortunately it is quite difficult to make a nice pictures since the food is more prepared for take-out. Of course we mostly care about the taste, and it that department there are no complaints! The place itself is also pretty busy, so I guess other people agree with me 😀
Vegan crêpes? Yes please! Before going to New York I had read about the Little Choc Apothecary and I knew I had to visit. It had been a while since I had a crêpe since the standard version is unfortunately not vegan.
Crêpes are quite different from pancakes, in that they are much thinner and larger. They tend to be made on a large round stove, where the batter is spread using a small T-shaped wooden stick, whereas pancakes are made in … pans (what’s in a name…). Savoury crêpes are sometimes made from buckwheat flour, and are then often folded in a square shape. Sweet crêpes on the other hand tend to be made of wheat flour and are usually folded in a triangle. It is all in the details!
Little Choc Apothecary serves both savoury and sweet crêpes. They also serve açaí bowls and sweets like cookies and scones. For drinks they sell juices, smoothies, coffee and tea, beer and wine. The teas are special home-made blends (this is the apothecary part!) and you can also buy your favourite tea blend to take home. Apart from being vegan, all the food is also gluten-free, with a focus on local, organic and fair-trade ingredients where possible.
The interior of Little Choc Apothecary is very cute, and the visitors are mostly younger people. It was quite busy when we visited. There is some space downstairs, where the crêpes are made and a larger room upstairs.
We started by ordering drinks and some savoury crêpes. For drinks I wanted to try the Blue Haze smoothie (blueberry, banana, almond milk and home-made ‘nutella’) and my husband took an Orange Tan (carrot, orange, apple, pineapple, ginger).
With the drinks we ordered our savoury crêpes. The savoury crêpes have pre-defined fillings and you can get some additional toppings for a small surcharge like cashew cheese, scrambled tofu, etc. We decided to try the ‘Room for Mushroom’ (roasted mushrooms, spinach, walnuts and tahin-basil sauce) with extra coconut bacon and a ‘Garden of Eatin’ (apple, avocado, fresh kale, mint-basil pesto and lemon juice).
We got the Orange Tan juice quite quickly, but we had to wait quite a while for the crêpes. The crêpes were a bit thicker than usual crêpes and they were folded triangularly (heresy!). The Mushroom crêpe was a bit more creamy, and of course mushroom and spinach is just a great combination. The ‘Garden of Eatin’ was very nice, I really like the sweetness the apple brought and the pesto was very tasty as well.
At that point we still didn’t get the other drink. Because it was so busy I felt bad asking about it too soon, but as I still didn’t have my drink once the food arrived, I decided it was time. As expected, the drink was forgotten. The server apologised and the drink was removed from the bill, so that was nice. And the drink was very tasty, albeit very cold.
Of course we also had to try the sweet crêpes! Unlike for the savoury version you pick what you want on it, with the first 2 toppings included and all additional for additional cost. Toppings include fruits, jams, nuts, ice cream, etc. There was a special that day: a banana split crêpe, with banana, chocolate, ice cream and cake pieces. We tried the special and a crêpe with banana, home-made nutella and clotted cream. The special was nice, though the cake pieces were not so interesting. The ice cream was very good though. For the custom-picked crêpe the combination is quite classic 🙂 (except for the clotted cream). The clotted cream did give a nice salty taste against the sweetness of the crêpe.
After that we had no more stomach space to try any of the other sweets! I do have to say the food was a bit more pricey, but on the other hand: vegan crêpes, nice atmosphere and great food.
A short post, but I think this place needs more recognition! Planty is a new small company bringing delicious plant-based pastries! They do catering, and have a food stall “Que de Bonheur”, which can be found at PlainPalais market in Geneva, on Tuesday and Friday (from 8:30 to 14:00). Planty is zero-waste, so you can bring your own container!
At their food stall I tried a piece of quiche and a seitan wrap, the latter being assembled at the spot! Can recommend! Of course I also tried a piece of lemon pie and some chocolate chip cookies. And yes, they are tasty as they look!
Occasionally the food stall is present at festivals, which are announced on their Facebook. They will be at Geneva’s vegan festival which is the 20 and 21 October, http://urbanvge.ch/festival-vegan-2018/ ! I went to the festival last year, and it was a HUGE success. It was so busy that it was almost impossible to enter the room in which it was held 😀 This year the festival will be 2 days, and I will definitively pop by!
New York City has several great vegan places ! I already mentioned the 100% vegan bakery By Chloe on this blog, today, let’s talk about a very different 100% vegan place : VLife! I was walking around New York when I saw a sign promoting 100% vegan food. Well that is too good an opportunity to pass up! I visited VLife several times during my stay in the city, but I only made pictures of one meal… Mostly because take-out doesn’t photograph so nicely 😀
So as mentioned VLife is 100% vegan, they serve burgers, wraps, rice bowls, vegan quasadillas, salads, juices, bubble teas and more! It is possible to customize the wraps, burgers, smoothies etc. And of course they have desserts! Apart from being vegan, they are Kosher-certified and do not use GMO soy nor MSG. All items on the menu that are also Soy-free or Gluten-free are marked. Additionally Vlife does both take-out and delivery.
The first time I visited I tried a bubble tea and a vegan quasadilla, which was made with avocado and tapioca ‘cheese’ (VLife uses a lot of ‘cheese’ made of tapioca) It was delicious!
The second time there were some spaces to sit so I could actually made some pictures. We ordered an Easy V-cheesy wrap, Cajun fries, crispy mushrooms and a BLT Bliss burger. We could choose our own sauces, there is quite some choice! We tried the Mustard Aioli and the Avocado Mayo, both are nice! For drinks we had a ginger black ice tea and home-made lemonade.
The mushrooms are nice and spicy. I liked the cajun fries, they were nicely seasoned and crispy. Also slightly spicy as expected. The burger was good, but not very special. I did really like the wrap, it had quite some salad, a tasty ‘cheesy’ sauce, and the soy protein had an interesting texture.
It is unfortunate the place is so tiny, but the food they serve is very nice … I went back there several times even though NYC is full of choices for vegan food!
I must confess this post is partially driven by the love for falafel and hummus. These are not specific for the Lebanese cuisine, since they can also be found in e.g. Israeli cuisine, but Lebanese eateries are more common here (in Western Europe) I really enjoy Lebanese food, with its different textures and flavours.
As someone that likes to eat and to travel, I have always been interested in the food eaten in other countries and regions. (Of course, as a vegan there will be many dishes I will not eat, and that is okay) The food in restaurants here has often been “Westernised” to a certain degree. This is partially due to availability of ingredients and adaptation to local tastes, creating a fusion rather than the authentic experience. That is not a bad thing! But that does makes it more difficult to experience the real deal. Especially when it comes to Middle-Eastern food, so often it is just fast-food-type places, serving kebab sandwiches and shawarma with fries. While those are for sure elements of Middle-Eastern cuisine, it is just a part of this amazingly rich cuisines. There are several common elements in Middle-Eastern foods, but all the different countries and regions have their own specialties, ingredients, spices, etc. However, access to authentic food from all these regions here is limited.
I found that Lebanese restaurants do in fact offer actual Lebanese food, and a wide variety of dishes. At a market in my city, a Lebanese family sells authentic, home-made food, and it is actually similar the stuff you get in restaurants like Le Cèdres du Liban and Homous & co. Therefore I decided to focus on Lebanese cuisine. Many of the dishes that are found in Lebanon are also in nearby countries, such as Israel, Syria and even Cyprus. Of course, I haven’t traveled to Lebanon (yet!), so I cannot completely vouch for authenticity.
So that was quite a story! But I find it important to give a bit of background when talking about these things and to acknowledge my Western-European point of view:)
The history of Lebanese cuisine is a rich and ancient; Western civilisation is said to have started here! The roots of some dishes can be traced back thousands of years. Due to its geographical location, it has been influenced by, and influenced the Middle East and the Mediterranean, which can be seen in the overlap with certain Greek dishes.
There have also been some specific influences from occupiers, such as the Ottomans, who occupied Lebanon for 400 years. They brought strong coffee and baklava. After the First World War the French came, and introduced specific pastries such as flan. When the French left after the Second World War, times of turmoil and stability have alternated in Lebanon, but the country is once again rising as a tourist destination.
The ingredients used in Lebanese cuisine are diverse; grains such as rice and bulgur, fresh fruit like melons, grapes and figs, vegetables such as eggplant and cauliflower, lentils, chick peas, onions, and fish. Red meat is not very common, except for lamb (due to the Ottoman influence), poultry is used more often. The national food is kibbeh, a paté of lamb and bulgur wheat.
When it comes to dairy products, cheese and yogurt (labneh) are used often. Butter however, is rarely used, except in desserts. Garlic and olive oil are ubiquitous. (Good to know for vegans, for grilling or sautéing food, olive oil is used rather than butter)
Sauces are not commonly used, for flavour the Lebanese dishes depend on a variety of spices and herbs. A typical spice mix used in Lebanese food is za’atar (thyme, sesame and sumac) Other herbs that are used a lot are parsley, nutmeg, cinnamon and mint.
A very important part of the meal is the bread, or pita, a type of flatbread, which is used to scoop up food instead of cutlery. For dessert baklava or fresh fruit such as melons are served. Baklava in Lebanon often contains pistachio nuts and rose-water syrup, rather than the honey-walnut variety found in Greece.
Food is often served as several small dishes to accompany drinks. This style is called mezze, and is similar to Italian antipasti or Spanish tapas. Mezze can be a meal in its own right. It is such a great way to have a meal if you are a person that cannot choose!
When it comes to beverages, there is of course coffee (strong, and sometimes spiced with cardamom), but also jalab (a fruit syrup with rose water), ayran (a yogurt drink) and wine ( Lebanon is a large exporter of wine). The national liquor is arak, an anise-flavoured distilled drink. This drink apparently came into existence to replace the illegalized absinthe.
Likely vegan dishes
In the places where I have eaten Lebanese food, the following dishes were almost always vegan. (Still it won’t hurt to check, I once saw a place that used milk to prepare their hummus)
Pita – flatbread, served with every meal. The standard version is vegan
Hummus – chickpea and tahini (sesame paste) dip
Baba ganoush – roasted eggplant and tahini dip
Moutabal – similar to baba ganoush, but slightly differently spiced
Tabbouleh – bulgur and parsley salad
Dolmas (can be vegan) – grape leaves stuffed with rice
Fatoush (sometimes) – Bread salad made with pita bread
Falafel – chick pea balls
Foul Mudamas – fava beans (also eaten as breakfast)
Maghmour – eggplant, tomato and chick pea stew (sometimes called musaka)
Fatayer (sometimes) – dough triangles with stuffing, e.g. spinach
Mudardara – lentils with rice, sometimes served with yogurt
Loubiah Bzeit – Green beans with tomatoes
Shakshuka – Bell pepper stew (not to be confused with the egg dish!)
Strong coffee, fresh fruits. Baklava is usually not vegan (butter and/or honey is used) but sometimes there are some vegan ones.