Thursday, April 29, 2010

Turnpike Pizza

I recently went to Turnpike Pizza on Greenlake for a birthday party.

We started with a spinach salad. It's hard to complain about a pile of spinach, but the dressing on this one was only mediocre.

Upon receipt of the pizza, I was a little surprised, in this day of pizza snobbery and discretion, that a pizzeria in a popular neighborhood could get away with this sort of product. I found the crust to be so-so, the sauce to be overly salty, and something (the sauce? the crust?) to be way too sweet. Plus, it came to the table, theoretically fresh from the oven, with the appearance of having been sitting somewhere cold for too long. Maybe something in the system (me? them?) was having an off night.

This photo makes the pizza look misleedingly good

There are plenty of vegetarian options, and vegan pizza options too, but I don't think I'd waste the calories on this place again unless it was for a specific social function.

Turnpike Pizza on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pies and Pints

Well, it is starting to look like the Tofu Hunter might have to start watching her figure if the trends continue. Went tonight to Pies and Pints to see some old friends, and ended up in yet another avalanche of french fries.

I started off with a graceful cup of split pea soup and a spinach and feta pie that my dining companion and I split. The "pies" in reference are individual sized pot pies baked in the most delicious, buttery, flaky, tender golden crust. They are the specialty of Pies and Pints, and come in a variety of savory flavors both meat and vegetarian.

After this small feast my dining companion declared a lingering hunger and ordered an appropriately social plate of nachos. What arrived, to our surprise, were french fry nachos. Yes, a giant (way bigger than the picture looks) pile of french fries covered in cheddar beer sauce, tomatoes, olives, green onion and jalapeno slices.

I have to admit, it was a hard plate of food to turn down. The cheddar beer sauce is a brilliant addition to a plate of fries, and the rest of the toppings were pleasant. Earlier in the day I had gone on a hike and eaten a nice raw lunch of zucchini "noodles" made by my hiking companion, and my healthy vibrant self was having a great angel/devil battle with that plate in front of me.

Pies and Pints has quite a few tasty vegetarian options, including multiple vegetarian pot pies, salads, a variety of french fries, mac and cheese, hummus, fried cheese, etc. Probably a less than ideal place to take dieters, but a good place to take drinkers, the iron-willed, and the calorie deprived!

Pies & Pints on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Well, the unintentional Tofu Hunter veggie burger quest continues, this time in the outdoor sports heaven and pseudo-Bavarian vacation spot, Leavenworth, WA.

There are a couple of places to get burgers in Leavenworth (plenty of people wanting burgers after their varied and vigorous recreating), but Heidleburger is my favorite because it is cheaper and less of an ordeal than the others. They have a reasonable menu with multiple vegetarian options: plain garden burger, south of the border garden burger, Teriyaki garden burger, and grilled cheese. I got the south of the border garden burger which comes layered with a couple of slimy slices of roasted mild pepper.

It's not the greatest burger I've ever had. It is definitely a little heavy on a sweet mayonnaise sauce for my taste, but I was hungry enough that it was absolutely still edible. (Got to remember to make a special request for no sauce next time!).

In addition to fries, they also sell tater tots, which are mighty tempting in their grease ball glory.

One thing to be aware of is that later in the evening, close to closing time, they can run out of gardenburgers. I was lucky enough to get the last one.

Heidleburger Drive-In on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Greenlake Bar and Grill

After a recent swim at Even's Pool, a friend and I took advantage of the early spring sunshine and went for afternoon happy hour on the patio at the Greenlake Bar and Grill.

The Greenlake Bar and Grill has an extensive happy hour menu, with vegetarian items ranging from $2.99 (french fries, hummus, rice and beans) to $5.99 (veggie burger with fries). In between items are salads, $3.99, pie, $3.99 and grilled cheese and soup, $4.99. There is a one drink minimum per person.

We made quick work of retrieving the calories we'd left a the pool. I had a veggie burger with fries and a well-tequila with strawberry lemonade ($3.99), and she had a salmon burger with fries ($5.99) and a different type of fruity drink.

I found my meal to be about average, but the ambiance was delightful, both entertaining and calming in the sunny afternoon. I don't spend enough time hanging out at Greenlake, and was a little surprised by the reality of the parade of fit, clean, fashionable exercisers doing their thing all around. We were surrounded by elements of urbanity, restaurants, bars, cars, lots of people, etc, but all of the dirty stuff had been scraped away leaving just a gleaming, safe-feeling, eco-conscious bubble of Lulu Lemon, coffee-to-go, and high-class jogging strollers. Nothing to say here that isn't already well ingrained in the minds of the stereotype-aware Seattleite, but it felt both wonderful and weird and left me thinking long after I left.

Thanks J for the great swim, lovely afternoon, and food photography skills!

Greenlake Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blue Moon Burgers

Blue Moon Burgers is a great burger option for a mixed vegetarian/omnivore group. The menu goes like this: there is a large list of burgers with catchy names and varied flavors, and you can get any of them made with a beef patty, chicken patty, salmon patty, veggie patty, or black bean veggie patty. Nice!

I had a Southwest burger with a black bean veggie patty. It came covered with pepper jack cheese, battered and fried jalapeno slices, spicy mayo sauce, lettuce, tomato, and sweet red onions, and pickles.

My dining companion and I split an order of fries, which were also quite delicious. They were skinny, well seasoned, and greasy as little crusty oil filled straws.

Blue Moon Burgers is an easy win for a mixed group, assuming nobody is offended by a fryolater.

Blue Moon Burgers on Urbanspoon Blue Moon Burgers on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 5, 2010

May Kaidee

Many people have asked me about my experience eating vegetarian (well, vegan, as I tend to eat in the realm of Asian food) in Thailand. Honestly, I was nervous. I knew that there are plenty of Thai dishes without "meat," but that most of these still contain the ubiquitous fish sauce or shrimp paste. I had even (sort of sheepishly) packed myself some protein bars from home in case I found myself on a diet of rice.

What I discovered was mostly as anticipated, but with a huge saving grace: much of the food we ate was prepared fresh, either in a small restaurant kitchen or street side, with a pretty standard selection of sauces (light and dark soy sauce, vinegar, Mountain Sauce, fish sauce) making up the final product. If I could communicate that I was a vegan, the concept was well understood and something appropriate could be thrown together for me.

I learned how to say, "I'm a vegan," in Thai, and while it took me a long time to learn to get the tones right and actually be understood, I eventually did and the cooks got it. I ended up eating way better than I thought I would, and ate tons of green papaya salad, curries (some could be made vegan, some already had shrimp paste blended in), spicy glass noodle salads, roti, and a great variety of noodle/veggie dishes.

In Bangkok, which has all of the culinary variety of an international city, it was even easier, and I followed a friend's recommendation to May Kaidee, a vegan Thai restaurant with multiple locations.

The food wasn't the most spectacular food that I ate in Thailand, but it was wonderful to be able to order easily and without doubts and for that reason it was a positive experience. We started with a hot sweet chrysanthemum tea and spicy banana flower salad.

And then on to a ginger tofu dish with a heavy sauce that seemed more like the Thai food I'd get at home than what I'd been seeing in Thailand:
And then the most interesting item: pumpkin hummus with sticky rice. I'd never had anything quite like this before. It was roasty and spicy and savory, and, per usual sticky rice protocol, we ate it with little paddies of sticky rice we formed in our hands.

Much as I enjoy exploring food, it can become stressful as a vegetarian/vegan always being vigilant about everything I eat and sometimes it just feels good to be in a place where I can relax and order easily off the menu. May Kaidee served as a wonderful little vegan haven in the great fish sauce nation, and I would recommend stopping in if you find yourself in Bangkok looking for a rest.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Boonyarit Kitchen

I was in Thailand recently and was lucky enough to take a cooking class in Khao Lak, which is in the Phang Nga province in the south. Khao Lak is a touristy town that serves as a departure point for dive boats heading to the Similan and the Surin Islands. There are many options for cooking lessons in Khao Lak, but I was drawn to Boonyarit Kitchen by two things: first, the bold advertisement of vegetarian options available, and second, the positively magnetic and joyous Chef, Kun Aek (who also spoke great English).

Kun Meaw and Kun Aek. Friendly, open, delightful hosts.

Aek runs the courses in a pleasing way. He teaches just one group at a time, and begins with a field trip to the local market. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the course, and found it to be a treat to be able to ask him about the foods I didn't recognize and get my questions answered about what I saw.

After the market, we went back to his restaurant, where my cooking companion and I had already perused the restaurant menu and had each chosen an appetizer, soup, main and dessert to prepare. Lucky for me, the menu has a section dedicated to vegetarian and vegan food. Aek was a patient, clear and non-hovering teacher, and we carefully made our appetizers in his tidy little restaurant kitchen. I made vegetarian spring rolls, and my dining companion made Larb Gai (spicy chopped chicken salad).

Boonyarit Kitchen furnished aprons and slippers for the duration of the class.

Next we cooked our soups. I chose Tom Kah with Tofu (spicy coconut based soup), and my cooking companion chose Tom Yam Goong (spicy prawn soup with herbs). They were exquisitely delicious. Unfortunately we were both already getting full full full (maybe I didn't need to eat all 5 of those spring rolls).

Next we prepared our main dishes. My cooking companion made a ginger chicken dish he had been enjoying all over Thailand, and I made a minced tofu dish with basil and chilies.

Again, both were fantastically delicious: spicy, flavorful, fresh and complex. It was such a treat to get to see how these dishes were made by a professional chef, and I was surprised to realize how much of the preparation (all of it) is done after the customer orders. Aek's food at Bookyarit Kitchen is truly prepared as you would prepare food at home; from scratch.

For dessert, both of us ate the rich, creamy, sweet and slightly salty bananas in coconut milk.

The quantity of food that we prepared was staggering, it was a full four-course meal, and Aek was kind enough to box up the majority of our main dishes for later consumption.

Our experience at Boonyarit Kitchen was an absolute pleasure. Aek was great both interpersonally and as a chef, the food was plentiful and delicious, and we got as much individual attention as we needed. Plus, after seeing Aek in the kitchen, I'd say the Boonyarit Kitchen is one of the better restaurants in Khao Lak (where we found most of the other restaurants to be unfortunately watered down for tourism.)

If you're in Khao Lak, you should stop by, if not for a full cooking class, then for a meal. My guess is that as a vegetarian or vegan especially, you won't get a better meal in the area.

Boonyarit Kitchen is located near Dr. Chusak's clinic in front of the Andaburi Hotel at the north end of town on the main road on the way to Bang Niang.

Thank you Aek and Meaw!

Baan La On,
Khao Lak,
Phang Nga,

(+66) 083-8283-991


Friday, April 2, 2010

By's Drive-In

Ok ladies, this one is for you. By's is a burger joint in Sodo. It is no longer a drive-in. In addition to all of the regular meat burger options and fish and chips, they have a decent veggie burger on a whole wheat bun and better than average fries with skin on, soft insides, and a good brown crispness outside.
You know what else they have? Men. For the duration of my lazy paced meal, I was the only women (with the exception of the sweet Grandmothers behind the counter) in the very busy lunch time rush. Reasons aside, the place crawls with the less-fair gender and I suspect it would be a good place to go if you're looking to casually and spontaneously find a gentleman caller.

Who did they have? Construction workers of every age, shape and color. Bike boys with rolled up pantlegs and beards. Hipsters with glasses and low tight jeans with clean shoes. Professionals in expensive clothes and black jackets. Just about one of every kind of typical Seattlite eating a burger and sucking on the straw of a thick shake waiting for the lady of his dreams to waltz in and order a Lou's Special (bacon burger, fries, soda, about $6). Twas not I, but it may as well be you.

By's Drive-in on Urbanspoon