14 December 2011

Cookbook Club #1

Have you heard of this?  I'm starting a craze folks.  Cookbook Club.

Pick your favorite/best chef friends (real chefs or amateur) and pick your favorite cookbook.  Everyone chooses a recipe from the cookbook and get cooking!  Rotate cookbooks for each meeting.

15 November 2011

CSAs-All over

It's winter, which means we are months away from Spring, which means it is the perfect time to start thinking about your CSA share for the spring/summer!

What is a CSA you may ask (although I tend to think the readers of this blog are super into healthy eating, veggies, etc, so you all know what a CSA is).  CSA is community supported agriculture.  Local Harvest.Org has a good description here.  And the Buy Fresh Buy Local organization has an awesome directory of local farms indicating which ones do CSA shares.

04 November 2011

King and I Thai-West Des Moines

King and I Thai is a favorite restaurant of the whole family, so we stopped in on Thursday night for a bite to eat and some family time.  The restaurant is located in a strip mall off of 86th St/22nd St (I've lived in Des Moines for 7 years now and I still don't know what the dividing line is on these two) just north of Westown Parkway.

View Veggie Des Moines Visits in a larger map

We got the sublimely awesome summer rolls (why go for fried spring rolls when these taste so good?!).  I'm not sure if it is the ingredients which taste so good (pretty fresh sprouts, carrots, egg, tofu, etc.) or the amazing sauces.  There is a great sauce which is pretty sweet or the great peanut sauce.  Or, of course, mix them together!  The only problem with these summer rolls is that they are so big, it can make it hard to eat.  I think we all did the good US American thing and put down the silverware in favor of hands, like a burrito.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the summer roll (just another excuse to return!), but I did get some of my dinner.  Like most Thai and Indian places around Des Moines, King and I allows one to choose the type of meat or tofu to be included in the dish.  And back in my "I dislike tofu" days, I could just request extra veggies.  It makes for a great restaurant for mixed veggie/omni crowds because everyone can get exactly what they want.

30 October 2011

Manhattan Deli-Ingersoll Neighborhood

Thanks to my dentist (when I recommend people to go, they give me gift cards to locally owned places), we had the chance to visit Manhattan Deli earlier this week.  The deli is located on Ingersoll Ave at about 38th street.

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I've heard a few people talk about the deli, what a great place it is to go for a quick lunch during the business day.  I'm glad I had a chance to check it out.  Parking can be tricky; there are just a couple of spots in front of the restaurant along Ingersoll, but since Black Cat Cafe went out of business, that parking lot was being used for Manhattan Deli as well.

I was nervous that there wouldn't be any veggie options, but I was wrong.  There were a few veggie sandwiches, some egg sandwiches and cheese sandwiches.

When you walk into the deli, you walk up to the counter (you can see most of the sandwiches on display in the counter case, but I honestly didn't take time to do this) and order at the till.  Each of the veggie sandwiches was $5 or less, can't beat that!  We did indulge in a soda and chips to share, so our total bill was right around $15.

27 September 2011

Tacos Andreas-Drake Neighborhood

I took my "Campus Friend" (program to pair up US American folks who want to learn another language with folks from other countries wanting to work on their English) to Tacos Andreas last Thursday (well, to be accurate, she took me!)

It was my first time in this Drake Neighborhood spot, but I don't know why.  It's super cheap!

There are some of your regular mexican dishes (burritos, huevos rancheros, etc) for typical prices (~$7).  But the great deal is tacos and pupusas.  $1.50 for tacos and $2 for pupusas.  Of course, there is a long list of meat choices for both, but ask politely and you can get frijoles y queso.  Delicious.

18 September 2011

India Star-Merle Hay

Boston's parents took us to India Star Friday night. It is located on Douglas in Des Moines just a couple of blocks east of Merle Hay Mall.

This is a favorite restaurant. Good Indian food at great prices. It had been awhile since I'd been for dinner (rather than the lunch buffet) and I was happy to see a new menu with clear labeling of what is vegetarian and what is vegan. India Star is IMO one of the most vegetarian friendly restaurants in Des Moines.

12 September 2011

Tallgrass Grocery-Valley Junction

In non-dining out news, have you all seen/heard about the new food co-op coming to Des Moines (how is it that Ames, Iowa City, etc all have co-ops and Des Moines has SERIOUSLY been lacking!)?

Tallgrass Grocery is opening in Valley Junction this week.  They did an amazing job at getting members pre-opening, but of course, you can still join.  And still shop even if you aren't a member (members take part in co-op decision making and I think get a price break).

Check out the photos on their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/tallgrassgrocery and go see them this week.  They will be open during the VJ Farmer's Market on Thursday.

11 September 2011

Quintons-East Village

I have a very good friend who moved to Texas a few weeks ago and decided to have her going away party/get-together at Quinton's in the East Village on a Wednesday night, their trivia night.

I was in class for most of the night, so came late to have a drink and a late dinner.  This wasn't my first visit, I'd been once before with another friend who loves Quinton's in KS.  That night I had a baked potato which had much too much cheese sauce, so I decided to go for a sandwich.

30 August 2011

Cuatro Burrito and Taco Bar-Downtown

We headed to Cuatro Burrito and Taco Bar before an event at the Des Moines Social Club as they are located in the same space in the Kirkwood Building in downtown Des Moines at 4th and Walnut.

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We'd seen the restaurant going in a few months back (make that many months back) but didn't have a chance to visit until fairly recently.

The menu is pretty veggie friendly and I think probably pretty good for vegans too. Burritos are in corn tortillas and some of the main taco options are vegetarian/vegan.

I started out with the edamame. It was a little different than most-am I wrong in thinking that most edamame is served cold? They gave us chopsticks. Now, I may have spent a few weeks in Malaysia and China earlier this summer, but I definitely didn't get used to using chopsticks on such moveable food! (how else to describe it? you think you've got the bean pod and then it twirls and it's on the table...) Something to work on I suppose. Who wants to give me chopsticks lessons?

11 August 2011

Ted's Coney Island West-Urbandale

Have you heard about Stimulus Tuesdays at Cobblestone theatre in Urbandale? It's a pretty good deal. Super Matinee tickets (4-5:30 I think, every day of the week) for just $4 and then only on Tuesdays, you can get a soda and a popcorn for $1. I wasn't excited for soda and popcorn, but I did enjoy the super cheap ticket prices!

Of course, when we came out of the theatre, the smells of Ted's West enticed me. You know how there are some times when you just really want french fries? And other times when you think, "wow, if I eat those, my stomach is going to revolt"? (or is that just me?) Well, Tuesday was an "i want fries" occasion-maybe I'm gearing up for the fair. So when I smelled fries and onion rings from Ted's West, I knew we had to go. Ted's is located in Urbandale, on 86th St; it is situated in a strip mall with Hobby Haven and Vision Park, to the North of the strip with Cobblestone theatre and Tasty Tacos (another great, cheap restaurant worth checking out).

View Veggie Des Moines Visits in a larger map

There are quite a few veggie options on the menu and even some which can be made vegan if you ask for no sauce. Oh Greek food :-)
I decided on the falafel pita basket and Boston got a traditional gyro with a salad (Did I tell you that she's a flexitarian? She eats meat occasionally when she wants, but is mostly veg).

Oh falafel, how I adore thee! The falafel patties were deliciously spiced and of course, the cheesy yogurt sauce was amazing. Oh and those veggies were good too :-) The fries and onion rings were delicious, but be ready to split this ginormous offering! And you get a little dish of cole slaw-I wasn't a huge fan, but Boston enjoyed it. Who's with me that cole slaw is one of those dishes that everyone has a different taste for? More/Less Cabbage, More/Less Cream (or none at all), Other veggies/note, Mustard/no mustard.

And of course, Boston's salad was delicious. A little heavy on the dressing, but I think if you asked for dressing on the side, it could be perfect.

Hope you all get out to Ted's, either the location on Ingersoll or out in Urbandale

28 July 2011

Jasper Winery

Anyone else heading out to Jasper Winery tonight for their Summer Concert Series?

Should be a good, fun time. Here's to hoping the rain stays away! (though I understand they move it indoors if there is rain)

I'm making a good picnic to share with some friends. You can find us and say hi if you're there!

22 July 2011

New Vegetarian Restaurant?-Downtown

Have you all heard the rumors about a new vegetarian restaurant coming to downtown? I found some (limited) info on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vegetaire

But if you want more updates, check out twitter (you are on twitter right? even if you aren't you can see the vegetaire posts, we'll just have to have a twitter lesson later) http://twitter.com/#!/Vegetaire

By the cross posting to Tacopocalypse, it looks like the restaurant must be the creation (at least in part) of Chef Sam Auen who seems to work all over this city. Have you tried his Taco Tuesday creations or Tacopocalypse at the Downtown Farmer's Market? Check it out. Sadly, I've not been able to go since one of the first weekends and have no pictures.

How do you feel about the selection of veggie foods in Des Moines? Are you waiting for more veg-only restaurants?

In preparation for a trip to KC this weekend, I was looking up veg friendly restaurants and remembered a friend's rave reviews about Blue Bird Bistro. But looking up the menu, there is a lot of meat. And at $15-20/plate, I would hope to see better reviews than I did. I'll probably skip that one, but with time for a meal, I always like to check out what is going on at Eden Alley just off of the Plaza.

19 July 2011

Mi Patria-WDM

We stopped out to Mi Patria, a fairly new Ecuadorian restaurant on 86th St in WDM (or is that 22nd St in WDM, or 86th St. in DSM? That whole dividing line thing still gets me).

The menu itself doesn't have much in the way of vegetarian fare, but questioning the waitress, I learned that they do have a platter dish with all veggie food. But in looking over the menu, I saw the two vegetarian appetizers, so I thought I'd check those out.

Both tortillas were quite good, but I would not recommend both to make for a complete meal.

The one yuca tortilla with the fresh veggies on top was delicious and refreshing, but probably not enough to make for a complete meal. The second with the peanut sauce on top was just too heavy. Perhaps had I been eating them as an appetizer, split with the whole table, it wouldn't have been too much. But as it was, I couldn't eat it all.

Next time we visit, I'll get the yuca to split with the table and try the special vegetarian platter.

15 July 2011

Red China Bistro-Ingersoll

I had a coupon for a free truffle with purchase of a glass of wine at Chocolaterie Stam on Ingersoll (check out their new patio, it's beautiful! and as you can imagine, the chocolate and wine were indeed vegetarian) last weekend. Drinking two glasses of wine and one truffle before dinner? Embarrassingly enough, I was not ready to get in the car. So, we walked about a block down the street to check out Red China Bistro. Not a planned adventure, but an enjoyable one nonetheless.

I enjoyed the decoration at the restaurant. It's that kind of red, black and silver theme that I'm trying to go for at home (doesn't work out quite as well for me...). The flower installation on the wall was beautiful, though the chairs did make me think I was at a wedding.

We were greeted upon entry and shown to a table. I'm not sure if it was the 4th of July events, 80/35, or if we were just too early, but the place was pretty quiet. We were served cucumber water (do you ever do that at home? add a little something extra to your water? try cucumber, great fresh taste) and left to peruse the menu.

There wasn't much that was vegetarian and the waiter said that although there were no vegetarian specials left unlisted, they could take the meat out of anything. Though I'm not a fan of doing that as the prices are set for meat and why should I pay the same amount when there is no meat? So I went with the spicy vegetable tofu. It was pretty good, plenty of leftovers for the next day's lunch. But the spiciness could have been taken up a notch. I wasn't even gulping water or searching for more rice!

I will say for the food I had, it wasn't worth the price. It's a nice place, good ambiance, but I could have gotten the same meal (granted at a much grimier place) for almost 1/2 the price. I don't think I'll be going back. But the end of the meal fortune cookie dipped in chocolate? delicious!

01 July 2011

Veggie dining in Malaysia

I mentioned in my catch up post that I'd spent some time in Asia. Eating. and eating. and eating.
I had been assured that eating vegetarian in Asia wouldn't be that difficult because of the large numbers of buddhists. Buddhists eat vegetarian, so I'd just have to find out where they were eating. Although I was able to find a couple of all-vegetarian restaurants, most of the food I ate was just vaguely vegetarian. Green beans with bacon bits for example. They were at every Chinese restaurant we went to. Even Thai restaurants were difficult. Here in the states, Thai is one of my fall backs. I can order almost everything with tofu or just extra veggies. Not in China. Everything has meat and tofu was almost unheard of in these restaurants. I did have to do a fair bit of eating around the meat. In the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, we went to a Charcoal Steamboat restaurant (I've heard it is called Hot Pot elsewhere, though the photos I find for hot pot don't look like the charcoal steamboat). This blog post shows the charcoal steamboat (might have even been in the same restaurant!) As you can see, you put all of the meat and veggies into the broth and let it cook (I'll say it's an asian version of fondue). I was able to eat the bok choy and other greens, eggs and noodles, but it had all cooked with the meat as well. Not something I would eat in the states or if there were other options available. This was pretty typical in terms of eating around the meat.

So here is a short recap of dining in Malaysia.
Street food on Petaling Street was amazing. (Petaling Street is the Chinatown type area of Kuala Lumpur) So many amazing fruits. Including the rambutan:
Rambutan, dragon fruit, mango, jackfruit, melon, but no durian :-) Maybe its too smelly for street vendors. There were also folks selling meat on a stick, but why bother with that when you have such amazing fruits!
I did manage to find a buddhist restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. This is the best non-obtrusive shot my friend Nicole could get.
So here is the food. Everything in this restaurant is designed to look and taste like meat while remaining completely vegetarian. Not my idea of the best intent of vegetarian food (why pretend to be meat when veggies and fruits are so good?!), but this food was pretty good. There on my plate and on the silver platter was the fish. Tofu wrapped in seaweed and steamed with a very fishy sauce. In the brown sauce on the banana leaf was the "mutton" curry. In my opinion, the best on the table. The curry flavor was amazing! The "mutton" was bean curd. In the middle of the picture on the white plate with broccoli was the Chinese chicken dish. It was pretty good as well.

These two pictures show the difficulty with meat again, this time at an Indian restaurant for breakfast. The top photo with the dish which looks like a tortilla (Roti Chennai) was pretty good. One is able to specify the requested ingredients, I believe this day I had onion. It is served with lentils. Both good, vegetarian dishes. But the star as I'm led to believe is the platter in the top of the first photo, Nasi Lemak. Rice, roasted peanuts and a tomato/onion stew. Of course, the peanuts and stew are cooked with fish. Eat around it or not eat it at all?

I do have to say that Malaysia features some amazing beverages. After going to see the fireflies in the coastal Kuala Selangor area, we stopped for a drink/late dinner. The whole trip, I enjoyed tea, coffee, tea, fruit pulp drinks and...more tea! It was an amazing place.

On our way up to the Cameron Highlands, we stopped at rest area for a stretch of the legs and a snack. I certainly was spoiled with tea and snacks on a daily basis. I loved the snacks made with sticky rice and glutinous rice flour like those in the foreground here. Though in the background, you can see the other snacks offered: fish with chili sauce. No getting around it, but I'll stick with the veggie sweets!
And of course, durian is vegetarian, though not for everyone. This road side stand had fresh durian and the man cracked it open for us and we started in. I have to admit it did not smell nearly as bad as I'd expected! Though, the flavor was not to my liking. Fruits which taste milky apparently aren't my style.

Next post, veggie dining in China!

Boston's Parents

Since I got back from Asia, I've been a bit of a cheap-o in terms of dining out. It'll take awhile until my bank account agrees with my decisions to eat in restaurants.

Last weekend, we went over to Boston's parents for a good, mostly CSA or farmer's market meal. This delicious salad was the result on my plate.

One Step at a Time Gardens treats us wonderfully with their fresh and bountiful produce. This time of year, we've got lettuce and spinach, green onion, radish and garlic scapes. Some tomatoes from the downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market finished out the veggie part. I wish I could say those were homemade croutons, but I must admit, they are from my local Hy-Vee. I'll work on that for the next time. And oh that salad dressing. It probably takes all nutritional value out of the salad, but that Creamy Parm dressing from the local hot spot, Mustard's is amazing! When Boston saw that you could buy it in a take-home bottle, we had to have it. I still try to mix it up with a homemade vinagrette every once in a while, but I think she's going to be going full-on creamy parm until the bottle has not one drop left!

Maybe next month I'll be able to eat out, but I will say I'm not doing so bad at home in the meantime.

13 June 2011

I'm Back and Excited!

It's been awhile, but I have a good excuse! I was in China and Malaysia for awhile. When comb through my photos, I'll make a special guest post. Let me just say for now that there are some amazing vegetarian restaurants in these countries. Specific locations catering to Buddhists, but perhaps most interesting were the restaurants which make vegetarian food look like meat. And not in the Garden Burger sort of "look like meat" fashion; rather, tofu slices rounded and wrapped in seaweed to look (and taste) like slices of fish. One of my favorites was the "mutton" curry made with bean curd-but curries always catch my eye! I think I caught some of this on camera, so pictures to come.

Coming back to Des Moines after an extended period away, I'm also blown away by some of the new things going on here. Can't forget to mention Tacopocolypse at the Downtown Farmer's Market (didn't get a photo this week, so hopefully next week) and the menu at the new restaurant, Americana. Check this out! So many veggie options! http://americanadsm.com/menu/lunch
And of course there are many others to catch up on.
So, don't distress, I've not left you all forever!

17 February 2011

Dining with a Cypriot

I'm very excited that tonight Boston and I will be hosting someone from Cyprus for dinner!

The Iowa Council for International Understanding is an amazing organization which does great work in a variety of areas (need a translator/interpreter, call them!) including hosting visitors to the US from other countries. They are always looking for new hosts for the visitors. Unfortunately, we do not have enough space in our humble abode to host folks overnight, but I am always happy to provide them with a meal!

We hosted a couple of Chinese gentlemen (and their interpreter) back in October and it was great fun! Good conversation about non-profits in the US and then a lot of conversation about being LGBT in the states vs. in China.

I like the opportunity to cook a full meal (we rarely have salad, a main, a side, and dessert in our house!) and to talk to other people about the US and their home country. I always learn a lot.

I'll let you know what was on the menu tomorrow!

31 January 2011

Cool Basil-WDM

We headed to Cool Basil a little while ago for Boston's dad's birthday. Cool Basil is always a great choice for vegetarians as they let us crazies get tofu or extra veggies instead of meat.

And of course, my fortune in their fantastic little rolls rather than the normal Fortune Cookies!

24 January 2011

Home Cooking-Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes & Poached Pears

It was back to home cooking again in Des Moines.

I've made stuffed peppers and tomatoes before, but I didn't have any rice on hand (what? no rice? what kind of household do I keep?!?). However, I did have some couscous, think, think, think: Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes!

I got some onions and garlic going in a tad bit of butter and got the couscous started. Cut out the inside of the tomatoes. Original plan was to put the tomato back in, but Boston said nope, too much tomato taste (I'll have to do that another time when she's not eating).

Mixed the onion and garlic in with the couscous and stuffed it in! Sprinkled a little goat cheese on top and popped it in the oven. Boston got some of her favorite french cut green beens going and...plate (I'm not a chef eh? I don't have to have fancy platings!)
Before we got to eating, I started some red wine in a saucepan and popped my peeled pears in.
Got to eating-YUM! But then again, what, topped with goat cheese, isn't good?

The pears took a LONG time! I grabbed the pears at the store which had the free sample and turns out that wasn't a good choice. They were fancy Asian pears-good for munching, not so great for cooking. They stayed firm even after 45 minutes of cooking. Next time, get some Anjou pears. But it was good nonetheless. Obviously, lack of plate picture means I ate too quickly. (Or I'd just been waiting for an hour for a pear and got too impatient!)

What do you stuff tomatoes/peppers with?

17 January 2011

Home Baking-Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Well, you can't eat out vegetarian all the time, so sometimes, I'll have to write about the home cooking/baking I've done.

My friend, ├ža va aller, whom I met in France, received Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas. It was decided that of course we should work on some of Julia's recipies! But...problem: Julia is not very veggie friendly in the main course food area. So, off to desserts we went! We found a recipie that was a Tarte Tatin, but a variation on the original with cream and egg forming a sort of custard over the apples. We've eaten many a Tarte Tatin in our days, but never this version, so let's give it a shot!

We were lacking in the special tarte pan, so a pie pan will do right? We're not rich here! That's why we are home cooking!

Here are some photos of the during and (amazingly delicious) finished product:

Ritual Cafe-Downtown DSM

My partner (Code name Boston) officially "retired" on Friday! (Well, quit her job to go back to school, but we'll call it retirement) So we had to have a celebratory lunch!

Ritual Cafe is, as far as I know, the only exclusively vegan and vegetarian restaurant/coffee shop in Des Moines. I love to go there to relax, read and have some great food. They do not have wifi, so if you are planning on doing some work, make sure you don't need internet. Other coffee shops have the 1 person, 1 computer look, but Ritual is great because people are, ah! actually talking to each other! Plus they support the LGBT community in Des Moines, bring in great musicians, and like I said before, have some great food! and on to it:

We went in at lunch time looking for some good sandwiches and we got it! I ordered the Tomato and Basil Panini and Boston got the Grilled Veggies and Mozzarella Panini. Both were delicious, but I honestly think her's was better! They did something like soak the foccacia bread in some awesome balsamic vinegar giving it just a fantastic taste. We also split one of the Hemp-nut Chocolate Chip cookies, but that was devoured to quickly to take a photo.

Boston says "it was really tasty"

Great experience, great food, GO! (plus there are great coffee drinks, we didn't have any this time, but try the Mayan Mocha!)

06 January 2011

Flour-Downtown DSM

Today I had the pleasure of having lunch with an old friend who I do not get to see as often as I'd like.

When I told her about the new restaurants (she has a young baby, lunch in the big city isn't high on the to-do list :) Proof opened a couple of years ago) by Carly Groben in downtown, she got excited about Flour and off we went!

Arriving in Flour at 12:30, it was pretty busy. The setup of the restaurant is large tables and benches, so you grab a spot when you can next to strangers (new friends!).

At the counter, you can see all of the freshly made pizzas and the azucar breads. When I've done previous reading about the restaurant, there has always been a veggie pizza option, but when I walked in, there was not (by the end of the meal, there was a blue cheese pizza option though). Mushroom Pepperoni, BBQ Chicken, Clams and (something...). Slightly disappointed, I moved over to the azucar breads. One option was the slightly sweet bread topped with hummous, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, brie cheese and some hearty leafy green lettuce. Yum!

I was so glad that there wasn't a veggie pizza because I otherwise would have skipped over the azucar breads!

We managed to find some seats (and a spot for the 8mos old in a highchair-so happy they had one!). Wait was pretty short and food was out. Delicious! The slight sweetness of the bread worked great with the hummous and brie. There was plenty of food, but I wonder if I should have gotten a salad. I'm on a lettuce kick right now.

I wish I'd taken a picture, because I'm not sure that bread is the right word. Imagine a long ciabatta bread and the stuff piled on top. It wasn't a sandwich and yet, not really a pizza.

Overall, I give Flour a big yes! I bet if I had waited, they could have given me a veggie pizza, but I was very happy with my bread. I also must say they were great with the little one; granted, she is wonderful (no crying or screaming) but everyone was all smiles and helpful with the highchair which made lunch a lot easier!

04 January 2011

A Vegetarian? In Des Moines?

I live in a land of pork chops (seriously, do you know how many events centered around meat from a pig there are in this town??), steak, and occasionally, rabbit, on menus. But I became a vegetarian years ago.

I'm on a search for the best vegetarian food in Des Moines, with some of my own creations thrown in. I'm not a food critic, but I do eat thoughtfully.

Let's get eating!