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Philadelphia’s Finest: Vedge Restaurant
May03

Philadelphia’s Finest: Vedge Restaurant

Earlier this week, I offered a lengthy list of places to check out while in the City of Brotherly Love — Vegan In Philadelphia. As promised, here’s a more detailed report on one amazing meal at Vedge, complete with pictures of many of the fantastic tapas-style plates we enjoyed while there. This upscale, lively vegan tapas place on Locus Street features an open kitchen and three separate dining rooms that keep this atmosphere balanced between “happening” and intimate. We were highly impressed with the exquisite tastes on our plates; and our non-veg friend was equally enthusiastic about the various dishes, including some superb desserts. Here’s a look at some of the delectables: In addition to the small plates and entree plates we selected, Vedge offers a “Dirt List” —  a half dozen vegetable specials of the day featuring whatever is  available at the moment from the local farms. During our visit, we tried the Wood Grilled Broccolini cooked in smoky shitake dashi with crushed white sesame and the Brussels Sprouts served in a light mustard sauce that was out of this world (my fave of the night). In other dessert news, there were several vegan ice creams and sorbets to choose from: at our table, spoonfuls of coconut and pecan pie sorbets and habanero (!) ice cream. Vedge also has an impressive wine list and selection of cocktails. Celebrating my roots, I indulged in a wonderful glass of bianco from Sicily. Tip: even during the week, this place is bustling — be sure to make a reservation....

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Vegan in Philadephia
Apr30

Vegan in Philadephia

I’d heard that Philadelphia is one of the great U.S. vegan-friendly cities, and it did not disappoint on my recent visit. Whether you are grabbing a quick bite in between sight-seeing or shopping, or looking for a place suited for a more romantic dinner, here’s my list of faves for the City of Brotherly Love. Special thanks to friends on the Cruelty-Free Faves Facebook page who offered up suggestions. Dinner Vedge Upscale, lively vegan tapas place. This place is such a treat, I decided to write a separate piece about the experience, just so I could include a bunch of tantalizing pictures from our meal. So check back at the end of this week for a full report on The Vedge. New Harmony All-vegan in Philadephia’s Chinatown. The atmosphere is casual, but the extensive menu (including mock meats) gets rave reviews. Once my husband Seth heard that there was a vegan dim-sum nearby, New Harmony became his destination of choice. Vegan pork buns, shrimp dumplings, sesame chicken. No surprise, I loved the steamed spinach dumplings. Vegan Philly Steaks Blackbird Pizzeria The first place we head to when we arrived — thanks to multiple suggestions. You can buy pizza by the slice here, and some of the combinations look absolutely delicious; but we were steered to the Seitan Cheesesteak and — what can I say? — it’s a must. I hear the Cubano sandwich is pretty amazing, too. We also sampled the chick pea “tuna” salad and cajun coleslaw, both delicious. Cupcakes from Vegan Treats available if you have room for dessert. Cool piece of trivia: the owner of Blackbird previously worked at Blossom in NYC. Hip City Veg Not far from Rittenhouse Square, Hip City Veg features an all plant-based menu. The burgers and sandwiches are soy and grain-based, but there are delicious salads on the menu, too. Of course, I had to try the Philly Steak — I loved all the grilled onions and tomato on Hip City’s version of the classic. Sweet potato fries with black bean chipotle and a vanilla shake (soy milk, soy ice cream) rounded out this highly indulgent meal. Thankfully, I’d been walking around all day… and did a lot more walking afterwards. Lunch Mi Lah (Dinner /Lunch) This vegan restaurant has a very tempting dinner menu: African Peanut Stew in Tomato Curry Sauce. Brazilan Seitan Feijoado with Pan Seared Red Curry. Grilled Oyster Mushrooms on Brandy-Tequila Tomato Sauce with Vegan Chorizo. Or how about Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, and Potato Cashew Gratin in a Lemon Beurre Blanc? Next time I’m in town, I will be there for dinner. However, on this...

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Eating in Raleigh, North Carolina
Apr10

Eating in Raleigh, North Carolina

I recently made my first trip to the Research Triangle and enjoyed some great vegan food while I was visiting. Downtown Raleigh and the surrounding cluster of quaint neighborhoods feature lots of shops and restaurants, including some fantastic veg-friendly places. The Irregardless Cafe (the Literature major in me chuckles at this non-word people still use so often) has a wonderful energy about it, bustling with diners and some great live music, with a cozy setting of warm woods and local artwork. There’s a “Vegetarian and Vegan” section on the menu, but other vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-friendly offerings, including appetizers and salads, are clearly marked on the menu for the veg crowd. Someone at our table ordered the vegan Vietnamese Spring Rolls, which looked and tasted delicious. Meanwhile, I ordered the appetizer special of vegan “oysters” (a blend of seitan and soy, with just the right amount of salty to make a convincing substitute) to pass around the table. For our entrees, I had the Happy Bowl, a heaping mix of steamed vegetables — I got extra vegetables in lieu of tofu — with short grain rice and green lentils with ginger miso sauce. SO good. My husband Seth had what may be one of the best vegan Pad Thai dishes I’ve every had — not too sweet, and it came with vegetables and seitan. Other places to try if you’re in town: The Remedy Diner This bar/cafe in the heart of downtown (that kind of feels more like a British pub) turned out to be the best surprise of the trip. We started with the flash-fried broccoli bites, which are  seasoned with garlic and served with a homemade vegan ranch dressing. It doesn’t look like anything fancy, but… wow. Then we ordered two sandwiches. The “Tempeh Tantrum,” voted by PETA as one of the Top Five Sandwiches in the U.S. was a delicious combo of tempeh, pesto, and avocado slices; the tempeh reuben may be the best vegan reuben I’ve had. Finally, we topped it off by sharing a slice of rich, super-moist chocolate cake. Thaiphoon Bistro Sleek, cool zen vibe. I had a mild yellow curry made with coconut milk that came loaded with vegetables and tofu. Seth usually gets vegan Pad Thai when he has the option, but here he ordered the XXX, which I tasted and thought was really good (though more than a forkful would have been a little too spicy for me). Blue Mango Right across the street from Thaiphoon. I didn’t have time to eat there myself, but there are plenty of veg-friendly options at this contemporary Indian cuisine spot. Fiction Kitchen Sweet...

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Tal Ronnen’s New L.A. Restaurant
Apr02

Tal Ronnen’s New L.A. Restaurant

I have been a huge fan of Chef Tal Ronnen for a long time. At home, we use his cookbook The Conscious Cook. When in Vegas, we choose to stay at The Wynn, where he serves as Collaborative Chef to ensure incredible vegan cuisine at each of the hotel’s restaurants and cafes. So how bummed was I that during our most recent jaunt to L.A. there simply was no time to have dinner at his brand new restaurant, Crossroads Kitchen, which just opened a couple of weeks ago. NEXT time. My friend Jaya has been kind enough to share photos of her recent meal at Crossroads. The Kale Spanakopita looks like it alone may be worth a plane ticket back to L.A. asap!   Thanks for sharing, Jaya! As always, you rock. Chef Ronnen: Crossroads NYC?...

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Genesis Awards, 2013
Mar26

Genesis Awards, 2013

This past weekend, I was in Los Angeles to attend The 27th Genesis Awards held at The Beverly Hilton. Each year, The Humane Society of the United States hosts a star-studded event that recognizes the contributions by major news and entertainment media in raising public awareness about animal issues. Proceeds from this year’s gala benefited three of HSUS’s campaigns: Pets for Life, Farm Animal Protection, and Chimps Deserve Better. Saturday night’s program was hosted by Carrie Ann Inaba of “Dancing with the Stars.” I was at the awards last year when she hosted for the first time; once again, she did a fantastic job. The evening began with cocktails before sitting down to a 3-course vegan meal, followed by the awards show. Celebrity presenters included Wendie Malick, Pauley Perrette, Charlotte Ross, Kaley Cuoco, Owain Yeoman, Hal Sparks, and Michael Vartan. All of the nominees deserve a standing ovation for their work on behalf of animals. Here’s a list of some of the night’s winners: Feature Film Big Miracle TV Documentary Ivory Wars – Discovery Channel Dramatic Series Harry’s Law – “Gorilla My Dreams” episode – NBC Reality Series Wild Justice – Nat Geo Channel National News ABC World News, Diane Sawyer – downer cow video Print Magazine National Geographic – “Rhino Wars” by Peter Gwinz; “Cheetahs on the Edge” by Roff Smith; “Ivory Worship” by Bryan Christy Columnist Roy Exum, The Chattanoogan.com – multiple part series on Tennessee Walking Horse soaring The Wyler Award & The Corporate Award Pop star Ke$ha received this year’s Wyler Award, given each year to a celebrity or public figure who has raised awareness of animal issues via the media. As the Humane Society International’s first Global Ambassador for Animals, Ke$ha has spread the word about street dogs, trophy hunting of endangered lions, shark-finning, Canada’s commercial seal slaughter, dogfighting, and cruelty-free cosmetics. She also features a different animal issue each month on her web site and urges her fan base to take action for animals. This year introduced a new award, The HSUS Corporate Award, which was given to Lush Cosmetics, for creating handmade products with all-vegetarian ingredients and adhering to a “no animal testing” policy. With its ingredients and packaging, LUSH creates products that also have a minimal impact on the environment and comply with high labor standards. Furthermore, the company exemplifies corporate responsibility in its activism, as it engages both consumers and legislators in advancing animal protection, environmental, and human rights causes. Silent Auction & After-Party In addition to dinner and the show, there’s also a silent auction and a high-energy after-party. The auction is a smorgasbord of cruelty-free products, beautiful artwork,...

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Poco in Bisbee, Arizona
Mar07

Poco in Bisbee, Arizona

After an afternoon in Tombstone, we (husband, parents, nephew, and I) took the short ride to Bisbee before heading back to Tucson. Bisbee has a rich history dating back to the late 1800s as a mining mecca; these days, charming houses line the edges of the Mule Mountains and various shops and galleries are nestled along its narrow and winding streets, creating a unique artistic community that has a bit of European flair. Although we didn’t have much time for shopping, we made a point of stopping in at Bisbee’s vegan Mexican restaurant, Poco. The restaurant  is tucked away in a little alley right off of the town’s Main Street. Brightly colored tables and white lights strewn overhead, the atmosphere is festive but intimate enough to be the setting for a perfect romantic dinner. In our case, it proved to be just as perfect for a little late-day noshing. Although it was a beautiful day for patio dining, we stayed inside (just as colorful and cozy), where we enjoyed chatting with owners Kelly and Emily in between bites. The nachos were sublime: the melted cheese was so creamy — my mom (non-vegan) gave the dish a 10 out of 10. My husband Seth and I also split a burrito. Poco uses Beyond Meat as its chicken substitute, which is beyond amazing, but we opted for something totally new to us — a Brussels Sprouts burrito. The roasted sprouts had a slightly smoky flavor thanks to the chipotle aioli — what a treat! And Kelly and Emily were sweet enough to send us home with a scrumptious organic, vegan chocolate cupcake. Back in the car, my six year-old nephew Nicky looked at the container with the cupcake sitting on my lap: “Aunt Sharon, organic is vegan?” I explained to Nicky in simple terms how organic has more to do with chemicals and pesticides than animal welfare; and that, although on organic farms the animals may fare better than those subjected to factory farming, in the end those animals too will be slaughtered for food. Nicky’s eyes lit up as it came together for him: “Oh! I get it! So… the BEST is when something is organic AND vegan!” So thanks, Poco ladies, for your part in making the cupcake-inspired conversation happen. It’s the most wonderful thing to see just how curious, thoughtful, and compassionate a child can be. The next generation of animal advocates already in bloom. Poco 15 Main St Bisbee, AZ 85603 (520) 432-3733        ...

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