Thursday, December 23, 2010

Panini Farewell

The Chefs: Colleen and Valencia Whole Foods

The Menu: A freshly made, grilled panini with portobello mushrooms, roasted red pepper, avocado, spinach, and tomato slices—all on rosemary focaccia bread.

The Goods: Although I felt guilty for not brown-bagging lunch today (who has time during these final days before Christmas?!?), all feelings of guilt quickly subsided after one bite of this lovely panini. The folks at our neighborhood health food store/gourmet market whipped up their signature vegan sandwich filled with roasted vegetables, and then added fresh tomatoes and avocado for good measure. For that, I thank them. I am also thankful because the entire VegNews staff is off for our annual break until Monday, January 3. We hope you have a wonderful holiday and New Year celebration, and we'll be back in 2011. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pre-Holiday Salad

The Chefs: Elizabeth and Herbivore

The Menu: A big, beautiful kale salad. Kale, vegan chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, huge slices of avocado, and a super-tangy lemon vinaigrette dressing make a pretty darn perfect salad.

The Goods: We are in what some might call the final countdown. Deadlines are looming, the holiday break is nearly here, and between trying to get everything finished before we leave and making enough Christmas cookies to choke a horse (which, hello, we would never do—not vegan!), time is a precious commodity. If you are feeling similarly crunched, check out our list of three super-quick, cheap gifts. If you have a bit more leisure in your life at the moment (really?! How?), read up on the top 10 events that propelled veganism into mainstream culture this year for a bit of inspiration.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Millennium Meets Gracias Madre

Millennium Restaurant's Larry & Ann Wheat at Gracias Madre

The Chefs: Joseph and Gracias Madre

The Menu: Today, we went all out. We ordered guacamole and tortillas; Brussels sprouts topped with cashew cheese and garlic breadcrumbs; mole enchiladas with steamed greens; butternut squash, seared cauliflower, rice, beans, with house made blue corn tortillas; and finally seasonal fruit cobbler (apple) served with coconut milk ice cream.

The Goods: Two "Restaurants of the Year" met for lunch today when I invited Ann and Larry Wheat, owners of San Francisco's renowned Millennium (five-time Veggie Award winner), to lunch at 2010 Restaurant of the Year (and Café VegNews local favorite) Gracias Madre. Ann and Larry had not been to the almost-one-year-old restaurant yet, and both enjoyed the delicate flavors and perfect spiciness of our dishes, which we cheerfully devoured family-style. Larry then ordered dessert, a ginormous bowl of cobbler topped with a mountain of GM's signature coconut ice cream. And though I had requested "two spoons" since I was already full, three spoons materialized, and I sampled the sweet treat while my tummy expanded.

Gracias Madres' Seasonal Fruit Cobbler

Gracias Madre will soon be a whole year old. How did we ever survive without it?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Peanut Butter Pasta

The Chefs: Lyndsay

The Menu: Pasta covered with a delicious sauce made with tomatoes, spinach, peanut butter, and Asian chili sauce.

The Goods: In my desperate attempt to clean out my fridge before leaving for the holidays, I substituted kale with frozen spinach in this recipe from Sarah Kramer's Go Vegan! 2010 Calendar. I'm sad to see this calendar come to end, due to the fact that it has given me some great recipes each month for the past year. I'm not fretting too much about it though, because there is a Go Vegan! 2011 Calendar that I've already got in my sweet little hands. And lucky for you, we are selling it on our VegNews Store. They're selling only for a limited time, so be sure to get yours now!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Mexican Fiesta

The Chefs: Colleen and Taqueria Cancun

The Menu: Jam-packed veggie burritos filled with rice, beans, tomatoes, onions, and huge chunks of avocado. Accompanying the meal was the requisite chips and salsa (love the tomatillo/guacamole version) and tall glasses of freshly made cantaloupe agua fresca.

The Goods: Yes, we've had our share of Mexican food this week. It's just so delicious, affordable, and plentiful in our beloved new San Francisco neighborhood. Elizabeth, Joe, and I had a lunchtime meeting at the VNHQ this afternoon, and we wanted to introduce the person we were meeting with to the best the Mission district has to offer—and, you guessed it, we brought in an entire Mexican feast from local favorite, Taqueria Cancun. Let's just say that the meeting went well. To top things off, and to celebrate the last day of our Fall internship program, Frankie made Beverly Lynn Bennett's Triple-layer Cheesecake from the January+February edition of the magazine (see photo below). By triple layer, we mean a chocolate wafer crust, peanut butter filling, and chocolate topping, all drizzled with more peanut butter and chocolate. DELICIOUS. We've eaten very well today, but it is bittersweet at the same time. We have a wonderful internship program, but we never want them to leave. You'll be missed, Brooke and Gabrielle!

The Triple-layer Cheesecake from the January+February 2011 issue of VegNews

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gracias Madre, Gracias Elizabeth!

The Chef: Brooke and Gracias Madre

The Menu: The lunch special—the Gracias Madre torta with Caesar salad and a sampling of the delicious gorditas with avocado!

The Goods: I question whether or not I actually work at VegNews, because today was my first experience at Gracias Madre. I know, it's pretty much blasphemy. But I am one of the gals that lives by the rules of Savvy Abby, and so come 12:30, I normally use every ounce of my will power to resist the amazing veg dishes the Mission has to offer. Big mistake. Gracias Madre taught me that today. The ever-gracious Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria treated Editorial Assistant Gabrielle Pope, Office Manager Lyndsay Orwig, and me to an amazing lunch today! Rushing in from freezing Mission Street, we started with a delicious holiday drink—hot apple cider. Then we split a plate of the special of the day, gorditas, which are little pancakes covered with avocado goodness. And because it was my first Gracias Madre experience, I figured I had to do it right and order the famed Lunch Special. It. Was. Mind. Blowing. Thank you so much Elizabeth, Gracias Madre, and San Francisco for the best Mexican food of my life. No joke. I guess that's why it's Restaurant of the Year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 2010 VN Holiday Lunch!

The Chefs: Colleen and Frankie

The Menu: Today we feasted on what is quite possibly our favorite dish of all time: the VN Mac 'n' Cheese. We know that it's a special day when this baby is taken out of the oven. Colleen also made an incredible side salad, with mixed greens, sliced apples, toasted walnuts, and a maple-balsamic vinaigrette. Colleen wasn't the only one contributing to today's awesome eats, however. The VN cheesemaker extraordinaire, aka Frankie, brought in her latest: peppercorn soft cheese. Yes, this totally homemade, vegan cheese deserves its own photo.

The Goods: Hello, holiday luncheon! If there's one dish we could eat at every celebration for the rest of our lives, it is this Mac 'n' Cheese. Today was the first time that VegWebmistress Laura Hooper Beck tried it, and she died of joy, appropriately. The reason for the fancy eats is that today we toasted 2010, VegNews style. It's been an incredible year in many ways (ahem, just to name a few, remember that 10th Anniversary Issue, our first Great Adventure to India, or our brand-new stylish digs?), and it was wonderful to have the whole staff together to celebrate. It's also when the staff receives holiday gifts from our publishers, Joseph and Colleen. The gifts are always a-ma-zing—last year, we all got Vita-Mixes!—and this year proved just as exciting! Come 2011, you'll see the VN staff cruising around town in our very own Vaute Couture coats!! Pandemonium erupted when we all opened our gifts—it's not every day that you get to take home an amazing coat by a completely phenomenal vegan company on the cutting edge of fashion! Here's hoping everyone has had an equally fantastic day, and thanks to all who've been part of VN in 2010!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gracias Madre

The Chef: Gabrielle and Gracias Madre

The Menu: Three tacos of pure scrumptiousness, including fillings such as mixed greens with garlic, braised turnips, and cauliflower, covered in Gracias Madre's signature cashew cheese with a generous side of savory refried black beans, all on three house-made corn tortillas.

The Goods: Okay, it's official. I might have named
Taqueria Cancún my favorite taqueria in San Francisco as recently as, well, yesterday, but Gracias Madre is in a league of its own. Yes, you've seen us dining at Gracias Madre a lot since we've moved to the Mission, and yes, there is a reason we named them the VegNews restaurant of the year in the 2010 Veggie Awards. The food is amazing! Our lovely office assistant Robin had never been there, so Office Manager Lyndsay Orwig and I jumped on the opportunity to take her along. I've decided that the tacos are the best thing to order, since you can choose three different seasonal fillings to top your tortillas. FYI, the kale is still the best choice.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mission Tacos

The Chef
: Gabrielle and Taqueria Cancún

The Menu: Two delicious vegan tacos stacked with beans, rice, salsa, veggies, and avocado, with some chips and spicy salsas on the side.

The Goods: Associate Publisher Colleen Holland has been raving about
Taqueria Cancún ever since we moved the VNHQ to the Mission District, so Editorial Assistant Brooke Still and I were thrilled when she generously offered to take us out for tacos! People, I think I have found my favorite San Francisco taqueria. Four fresh corn tortillas were topped with black beans, savory rice, the most delicious salsa, onions, cilantro, lime, and the true pièce de résistance, huge chunks of avocado. This is my last week in San Francisco before I head back to Canada, so I figure it's only right to fill it with as much Mexican food-eating as humanly possible. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The BEST Vietnamese Sandwiches

The Chef: Colleen and Saigon Sandwich

The Menu: Toasted French rolls stuffed with marinated tofu, shredded carrots, cilantro, cucumbers, and jalapeno peppers—all drizzled with a bit of soy sauce.

The Goods: Vietnamese sandwiches, also known as banh mi, may be the perfect meal. Fresh, delicious, and, yes, cheap, these unique sandwiches always satisfy. There are a number of shops around San Francisco selling this popular meal, but my hands-down favorite is Saigon Sandwich in SF's Tenderloin district. For just $3.75 a pop, the baguette, sauce, tofu, and vegetables are always just right—and come together for the city's best Vietnamese 'wich. And luck was on our side today, as VN publisher Joseph Connelly surprised the entire staff with sandwiches for all. In other news, we just announced a scintillating cover contest: Whom do you think is on the cover of the next issue of VegNews? Check out all the possibilities here, and let us know your favorite! Also, I am guest blogging for Savvy Abby this week and share my Top 5 DIY Vegan Holiday Gifts. Enjoy, and happy crafting this weekend!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Vegan Vietnamese Round 2!

The Chef: Brooke and Sunflower

The Menu: A healthy serving of leftovers from my lunch at Sunflower yesterday. I had Vegetarian Vietnamese Vermicelli, which was filled with cabbage, tofu, mushrooms, celery, bean sprouts, red leaf lettuce, and mint. One of my Mission favorites!

The Goods: I hate to say it, but I'm a creature of habit. One of my first weeks in San Francisco, I stumbled upon Sunflower Vietnamese Restaurant in the Mission, and fell in love with their Vietnamese Vermicelli. In the past six months, I've easily had it another 10 times. What can I say, it's amazing! If you're looking for a new favorite veg spot in your own city, be sure to check out The Cooking Channel's The Veg Edge, airing tonight at 9 PM! The show features veg superstars such as Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Chloe Coscarelli!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quick Ziti Lunch

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: An Amy's Kitchen Baked Ziti Bowl, plus enormous side salad from Valencia Whole Foods' trusty salad bar. The baked ziti had a lovely tomato sauce, green peas, and even a little vegan cheese, and the salad consisted of spinach, more peas, corn, garbanzo beans, and a (ahem) generous dose of Parma!

The Goods: Sometimes, we have amazing, freshly prepared lunches from our favorite vegan restaurants and share them with you here on Café VegNews. Then sometimes, like today, we eat like powerful magazine editors. Thankfully, our local corner store has a great salad bar and ample frozen vegan options. It's simply too rainy in SF today to only have salad, and ziti is both fun to eat and to say. Zeetee. If you can't get enough of this comforting carb, check out What's Cooking on for a simple Ziti and Tomato Sauce recipe that's nearly as quick to make as a microwaveable meal.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thai Feasting

The Chef: Gabrielle and Osha Thai

The Menu: Thai lunch special including a fresh tofu spring roll with peanut sauce, coconut rice, tofu praram (tofu and spinach with peanut curry sauce), and a fresh salad.

The Goods: Though I felt my Mission favorites Gracias Madre and Sunflower pulling me back again today, I decided to branch out and try the Thai restaurant less than two blocks away from VNHQ, Osha Thai, and I dragged Office Manager Lyndsay Orwig and our brand new office assistant Robin along with me. With delicious lunch specials including both a salad, appetizer, entrée, and rice, none of us had a thing to complain about! I love a good peanut sauce, fresh tofu, and a pile of greens, and that's exactly what I got. Head over to the VegNews Holiday store to check out gift ideas for both yourself and others, and get exactly what you want!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Brussels and Kale

The Chef: Lyndsay and Gracias Madre

The Menu: Brussels sprouts with cashew cheese gratin topped with delicious breadcrumbs, and a side of kale sautéed with garlic and chilies.

The Goods: The holiday season has taken a toll on my wallet, so I kept it light today with these amazing Brussels sprouts. The kale was actually Editorial Assistant Gabrielle Pope's, but she was most generous and shared some with me. It's no wonder Gracias Madre was the Editors' Pick for Restaurant of the Year for the 2010 Veggie Awards—the food is absolutely superb, and it definitely hit the spot on this cool Monday. We're really gearing up for the holidays at the VNHQ, and we have a special holiday section at our VN Store to prove it! If you're looking to buy some great cruelty-free gifts this season, be sure to check it out.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gourmet Leftovers

The Chef: Colleen and Millennium Restaurant

The Menu: An Asian roulade, consisting of spinach, shiitake mushrooms, and seitan all wrapped in a crispy yuba shell; wasabi-edamame mashed potatoes; and my signature holiday salad with greens, dried cranberries, sliced apples, and walnuts tossed in a maple-balasamic vinaigrette.

The Goods: Although I enjoyed a lunch of leftovers today, I knew I was in for a treat by bringing leftovers from a sumptuous meal at Millennium earlier this week. And those wasabi-edamame mashed potatoes were incredible—Executive Chef Eric Tucker never ceases to amaze me. To complement the leftover theme, I still had some dressing from the VegNews Thanksgiving Feast so was able to throw together a nice fresh salad. And voila! My Friday lunch. In other news, has the holiday bug hit you yet? We're feeling it around here, especially with our fabulous all-vegan Holiday Store! Check it out here—and get stocked up on peppermint soy candles, boxes of chocolate, holiday cards, and more. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Amazing Macaroni!

The Chefs
: Made by Lyndsay and Frankie, eaten by Brooke

The Menu: The amazing VN macaroni and cheese, topped off with some of Frankie's homemade chocolates!

The Goods: So some mornings (read: most) I'm forgetful or lazy or late, and therefore forget or don't feel like or don't have time to make a lunch. These are the mornings I'm grateful for my wonderful VN co-workers, including Ms. Lyndsay Orwig who so graciously shared her VN mac and cheese with me. And yesterday, as you might have read in This Just In, a Ms. Frankie McGee gifted us some homemade chocolate-covered, cream-cheese filled dates and chocolate-covered almonds. Don't mind if I do! That's why I love the holiday season! Are you as emphatic about this time of year as we are? Check out VN's complete survival guide to the 2010 holidays!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Celebratory Salad!

The Chefs: Herbivore and Elizabeth

The Menu: A deliciously huge kale salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, soy chicken, and gigantic slices of avocado.

The Goods: A salad this size is basically heaven for lunch. Packed with my favorite vegetable of all time, kale, and avocado, there's absolutely nothing missing from this fantastic lunch. This salad is celebratory not only because tonight is the first night of Hanukkah (Need recipes? Check here!), but also because today marks our 400th post on Café VegNews! We've come a long way (literally—the office moved across town!) since our very first post, and it's been a pleasure to have our readers along for the ride. Here's to the next 400 delicious vegan lunches!