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.