Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The Holiday Spoils…

Now that I’m back in KC, and can get on the internet with my computer (as opposed to just Jo’s where the Festivus photos were not, don’t ask)..I can finally post all the lovely dishes and presents from Festivus and New Years! In this post, I want to share all the spoils of the holiday season! We’ll take it all the way back to Festivus morning!

Aren’t these some awesome vegan shoes!!Novacas Lola

Not to mention these…

Novacas Morgan

Charmone Cezanne

Jo got an awesome Swiss Army watch…. (oh, forgive our state of undress, it was 5AM after all, hence the need for hot cocoa)

jo's watch

…and I totally cashed in with this most excellent Kitchen Aid 6qt Professional 600 series mixer!!!

Sara with Kitchen Aid mixer

Now for the good stuff….the food!

festivus 08 feast

Moving on to New Year’s Eve! Here’s a couple of the spread…


I know it’s belated, but Happy 2009 Everyone!

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I just wanted to showcase a new category I’ve created for our four-legged compadres!! ‘Pet the Pooch!’ will be links to places that offer eco-friendly pet items like hemp collars, leads, and toys. Also, I’ve linked to a website that can help you locate pet-friendly lodgings on your travels!! I just booked Jo and Kirsche a room to stay in (through said website) on their drive across the country. This way, when Kirsche get’s sleepy she’ll have a place to stay!

Or when Princess Mocha wants to get a new collar, she’ll know where to do her shopping!

And Copper is always on the look out for new toys, what male isn’t??

As Jo and I discover more great sites that cater to our furry companions, we’ll be sure to add them to the list…

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The Naam
2724 West Fourth Avenue
In Kitsilano near the beach

The Oh So Great Naam, I would say!! If the fact that I tell you it’s great is not enough, here’s a fact: Jo and I ate there a total of 4 times in one week! They are a totally vegetarian/vegan joint with vegan desserts! How often do you find multiple vegan choices for dessert!? How about NEVER!! I just wish I had had the forethought to take photos…alas.

This place was so great, even a month later I’m wishing I had a slice of Shakti cake, or the Hot Apple Crisp a la mode, or a cup of the High C tea…or the sesame fries…oh, the sesame fries! It gets quite a queue during peak meal hours. Luckily we always made it in time to beat the rush (although sometimes by not much). Ok, so aside from eating sesame fries at every meal, the other items which we enjoyed were:

*a small Naam Salad (that turned out to be not so small, but how can you feel bad about eating a big salad – unless there was a mixup and they gave me a large salad when I was thinking I was getting the small, but I’m not complaining) with Naam dressing (the dressing was ok, they went a bit heavy on it, but that could’ve just been the day because other salad dressings weren’t as overly dressed); I also had a Naam side salad but ordered the Poppy Seed dressing…super good; as was the lemon-thyme dressing. Didn’t try the Miso-ginger…sorry.

*Chili – It was super super good! It was definitely spicy, and coming from a spicy gal…it’s not for those faint of palate. But I would call it more of a black bean spicy soup instead of a chili – in Texas chili is a very distinct type of dish.

*Potato-Leek soup was one of their soups of the day. And it was oh, so good! It wasn’t pureed like I’m used to having PL soups. It was kept brothy and so delicious!

*Jo had a chickpea curry and it was quite scrumptious.. I can’t remember the exact name..but it was a ‘curry of the day’ dish.

*the Naam Burrito Wrap – I love burritos! And this one was filled with all good veggies, plus teriyaki sauce and peanut sauce. Of course, not being a tofu fan, I got it without tofu.

Plus, they also had live music every night! It was great!! Anyone whose in the area should go! Now!! I know it’s on the list if I ever get back to Vancouver…

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Vegan food in Alexandria, VA?

Calling all vegan Virginians: where can I eat in Alexandria? Kirsche and I are moving from Albuquerque to Alexandria in a few short weeks, and I would love any tips. Now, my standards are pretty low; I’m not expecting to find a strictly vegan restaurant for every night of the week (did someone say Vancouver?). But please let me know of any places that even know what a vegan is, and will make me something off the menu. You also may have noticed that the Turk sisters very much enjoy tea, so please recommend any tea shops, if you can. Thanks in advance!

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1958 4th Avenue West
Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, Canada
(604) 730-9906

Ok, so not technically a big restaurant..more like a quaint smoothie and veg joint. It’s totally vegetarian/vegan and has such wonderful fresh fruit smoothies. They also have a Chai Chiller – which is a frozen blend of chai, banana, coconut milk, and soymilk. I never thought a banana in my chai would be as tasty as it was. Jo and I got the Hummus Wraps, and when we bit into it, we had a momentary freak that there was some dairy thing (like sour cream or yogurt), but it turned out to be tahini! Whew! They had multiple vegan goodies for dessert, but the pièce de résistence – the Bliss Balls! A vegan ball of bliss coated in vegan blissful chocolate! I don’t even remember all what it was composed of, I remember dates and various nuts, maybe coconut, and it was coated in vegan chocolate! Oh so joyful and blissful – it definitely warmed the cockles of my heart and filled me with the joys of spring!!

This Bliss Ball isn’t usually all crumbly, those are remnants of the slice of Shakti cake (from The Naam) I carried home on the plane – in the same container as my ball o’ bliss.

I have no doubt that everything on their menu is super tasty!

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It’s no secret (or at least to those who know me) that I like to pamper and spoil myself. It’s not unheard of that I be accused of princess-like qualities. I like to say that I’m particular about certain things, others might say picky. I like to say that I like to pamper myself, others might say spoiled. I think of myself as delicate, others may think of me as..well, delicate..but not in the same way I think of it. So this trip to Vancouver was a test to see if I could cut it with Jo and her standard travel buddy, Hannah. They go to cool places like The Galapagos Islands and Guatamala, and I’ve never kept it a secret that I’m jealous of their adventures. In going to places like that, there is a certain ruggedness and flexible nature that is required – and being a princess, my ruggedness and flexibility was called into question. So Jo and Hannah thought that Vancouver – a place that speaks the same language, isn’t too desolate or foreign – would be the best place to test me out (of course, they say the true test will come when we are somewhere that has no vegan acceptable food and we have to go without food for a few days). I’m happy to announce that I passed the test upon kayaking twice, having certain items lost/stolen in the hostel (my first time at that) without complaint, the ability to STAY in the hostel without complaint, and leisurely hiking through Stanly Park. So I would like to share the tale of our “hike” through Stanley Park from the perspective of a “Princess.”

First on the trek was the Rose Garden. What a wonderful way to start a hike through a park! We stopped to literally smell the roses, and I took nice pics of the ones that smelled great – if only my camera had smell-o-vision! Oh, and they were all so pretty. And some were even as big as your face!

Next up, we walked around Beaver Lake. Along our walk, there were wild raspberry and blackberry bushes for which to nibble on. And I must say, they were quite tasty!

At Beaver Lake, aptly named, we spotted a log that had been gnawed on by a beaver! The lake was absolutely beautiful. A lake covered in lily pads and lotus flowers! Jo even spotted a cute little frog with his head barely poking out of the water…

Upon leaving Beaver Lake, we spotted a family o’ ducks! So cute!! And they didn’t even seem to be startled by us walking by them.

Finally, we made it around the bend to the open water..where we finally saw ‘Girl in a Wetsuit Statue’ – yes, it’s actually named that! Jo and I tried to find her when we were kayaking a few days before but failed. It was so great, she even had a birdie perched on her lap!

Lastly, we made it to the Totem Poles before ending our trek. By this time, both Hannah and Jo were impressed at my ability to hike for almost 2 hours. I don’t know why – we walked around shopping for a lot longer than that 😉 !

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Ok, so it’s no secret that I fell in love with Canada (I suppose more accurately, Vancouver BC). There’s only one other city that I’ve ever fallen in love with, and that is New York City (although Prague did tickle my fancy). I think NYC seduced me with all it’s intensity, fast paceness, unbelievable shopping and eating, but Vancouver gently courted me with wonderfully smelling flowers, laid-back nature, endless smiles, and vegan cake. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve been so seduced by a city that I’ve decided that, in addition to the upcoming reviews of all the wonderful places and food we experienced, I shall graciously post a top ten of my personal favorite things from Vancouver. Now, there were many things I loved, and some couldn’t make it to a top ten even though they were great (it could’ve easily been a top 20 or 30 list) – which just goes to show how great those that made it are! And when you get to the top 5, they are pretty much all #1’s..but somebody has to be #1. There is a very small standard error in calculating these top 10 since they were all so close in the running!

10. Granville Island Public Market (farmer’s market): such great breads, and the fruits were sublime. In the regular shopping area, there was a wonderful Hat Shop (Edie Hats) that Jo and I spent several hours in playing with hats… (This pic recognizes both mentions here: the hat, which was a bday present to me from Jo, which Jo is wearing, and the wonderful fruit seen by Jo eating from a basket of strawberries we got as part of a picnic lunch after another day of kayaking)
9. Chocolate Art (on 4th) – a chocolate shop with a plethora of vegan options!! Plus, they combined two of my favorite things: chocolate and shoes. They had a high heel shoe made of chocolate..filled with chocolate truffles!!! Sadly, not vegan 😦 .
8. South Main shopping area and Kitsilano Beach shopping area (various shops, but Receptive Earth on Main had a wonderful bamboo dress that Jo bought and I got some great rings, and Karma on 4th had some great sales on yogawear)
7. Jared Fontaine at Adrenaline Tattoo (on 4th) – He was mesmerizing – I think it might have been the way he looked at me with his big brown eyes and the straw fedora he was wearing was totally working for him…Mmm, yummy eye candy 😉
6. The Rose Garden in Stanley Park
5. Tie: The taxis are hybrids and Sesame fries from The Naam
4. Bliss Balls from Sejuiced (on 4th)
3. Aloo Chat Salad with Mango-Vinaigrette and Tamarind dressings (individually, of course) from Mysala Bistro
2. Tandoori fries from Mysala Bistro
1. Shakti cake from The Naam

Honorable mentions: The lack of fear for adding spice to the spicy dishes in any restaurant we ate in. The Noodle Box on 4th – great Japanese noodles, and they know what a vegan is. The cherry tomatoes in the black bean salad at Everybody Loves Veggies (healthy vegan fast food). The sale at Karma on 4th – lets just say I spent enough to get a free canvas tote bag. The cute guy (name unknown, not the same guy Jo thought was cute) at the kayak shop (EcoMarine) that helped me out of my kayak the first time… The Apple Crisp and the High C Tea (full of lemon balm, nettle, rosehips, cinnamon, and orange peel..so good) at The Naam. Canadians love of 80’s music and extremely happy demeanor. And finally, the seagulls aren’t nearly as ugly and annoying as they are in Corpus Christi!

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Mysala Bistro
980 Granville St, Vancouver
Tel: 604-688-2969

This was probably hands-down the BEST Indian food I’ve ever consumed (and I’ve consumed alot)! The vegetable curry was outstanding! Jo and I ate there twice, and the second time we went, the vegetarian dish listed on the menu was not vegan, so the chef made us the vegetable curry off the menu! Our waitress (and I assume the night manager on the second visit) was absolutely great (that’s not to say that our first waitress wasn’t)! She made sure they didn’t put butter on the naan, and since they were out of the mango-vinaigrette dressing and chickpeas (strange, I know) she comped the salads and an extra order of the tandoori fries! Oh, the tandoori fries… Now, I’ve had quite the share of french fries in my time, and these were absolutely the BEST fries I think I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating… The vegetable Samosas were small in size, but not small in flavor. The chickpea salad (Aloo Chat) with tamarind dressing was so good! The first time, Jo and I were under the impression that yogurt was IN the tamarind dressing, so we got the mango-vinaigrette. It was so good! A smooth vinaigrette of pureed mango without being too sweet. And the potato croûtons..oh, the joy. And I’m rather glad they were out of the mango dressing on the second visit because we were informed that the yogurt was drizzled on top and not actually in the dressing itself, so we tried the tamarind dressing. It knocked my socks off AND put a bee in my bonnet!! It also made a great dipping sauce for the tandoori fries. We also tried a couple wines. I got a red from Spain – it was that perfect level of dryness that I love since I’m a fan of drier wines like Chianti Classico; Jo got a local BC red – it was super smooth without being too sweet and syrupy. Both types were offered by the glass.

This place is super vegan friendly – in the regard that once you say you’re vegan, they are more than happy to accommodate! I give it the “Sara Stamp of Approval” and I’m sure Jo stamps as well!! I would recommend this place to anyone in the Vancouver area. And since it’s not totally vegetarian, your omni friends will love it too!

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Oh, Canada…how we love you…

So Jo and I have been on a little adventure in Canada. We’ve spent the past week in Vancouver, and it has been nothing but wonderful goodness the whole time – even the weather was great (until today, and the random scattered rain showers weren’t even that bad). The voting has taken place, and the consensus is that if Jo and I could live here, if the circumstances arose! Everybody is so nice and happy (but not in an annoying way), the shopping was great (and we probably did more of that than we should’ve), the food was outstanding (and we ate a bit more than we probably should’ve but when you have such easy access to great vegan food who would say no?), and the kayaking and hiking was super fun! Oh, and being here during Canada Day…so great! Now we’re sitting in the airport, waiting for the red-eye back to the US, playing with all the new fun stuff we bought (what didn’t fit in the checked bag), and trying our best to not gourge ourselves with the treats we bought to munch on during the flight. I plan on writing reviews of all the wonderful vegetarian/vegan restaurants we noshed in, the eco-friendly boutiques we visited, and treats I plan on attempting to recreate and have recipes for – so until then, this little teaser post will have to do..

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