Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Spiral Diner's Family Vacation 2009

Click HERE to see why I heart Amy, James, Lindsey, and Sara...and all the cool peeps of Spiral Diner.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Spiral Gang Does Best Thai

Andy, JayRay, Sarah, Eddie G, Nicolas, Erin

The best part about dining with my Spiral Diner buddies, aside from getting the chance to chat about the latest vegan happenings in the city, is having the opportunity to feast at any of our favorite veg-friendly establishments to share meals we wouldn’t typically order for ourselves.

On our latest excursion, we hit up Best Thai in Addison. The restaurant is known to offer a wide selection of vegetarian dishes, many of which are (or can easily be made) vegan. But as Drew mentioned on his review of the place, Best Thai also provides a completely separate vegan menu with some unique faux meat creations.

So at our table full of seasoned vegan palates, we slapped on our bibs and went to town on some awesome vegan eats!

Veggie Dumplings: These delicious little snacks were gone in seconds! Each dumpling was filled with a vegetable paté and served with a sweet soy glaze.

Best Thai Fresh Salad Roll: Your basic summer roll (lettuce, carrots, etc.) served with a house peanut sauce. The rolls were fine, but I wasn’t crazy about the sauce. I generally prefer a heartier peanut sauce to accompany this particular appetizer, but everyone else seemed pleased with its consistency.

Spicy Eggplant with Soy Duck: Okay—few of us are duck experts. I apprehensively ate real duck once in Germany (out of respect to the family I was staying with), but I vowed to never eat the stuff again. That said, the dish was not bad. I did find the eggplant to be a little overdone, but we all thought the flavors came together quite nicely.

Soy Salmon in Panang Curry: The favorite of nearly everyone at the table. I, on the other hand, loathed the dish! I grew up on the coast, so something about fake seafood just freaks me out. But if you're into faux fish, make sure to order this curry without fish sauce.

Peanut Special Soy Duck: This sweet and savory dish is made with fresh vegetables, choice of protein, house peanut sauce, and topped with crunchy peanuts. While I found the sauce too light for dipping, I felt it was right on the money in this stir-fry. The gang didn’t seem to love this dish as much as I did, so I snagged the last little bit of it and let them battle for the salmon.

Crispy Spicy Soy Beef: Pan seared soy beef with a sweet and spicy soy glaze. We ordered one serving at level 3 heat, and another at level 5 (the highest). I favored the spicier one—and I’m sure Jamey would’ve inquired about a level 10 had he been there.

Pineapple Fried Rice with Soy Ham: A large serving of rice with pineapple cuts, tomatoes, scallions, soy ham, and topped with carrot shavings. The ham was a little Spam-ish in texture, but the taste was dead-on.

All this food for just $15 a head (generous tip included)—what a deal!

I suggest you guys check out Best Thai this Sunday. Since both Spiral Diners will be closed for their annual family vacation (scoops on that later), I can’t think of a better place to stuff your face with so many fabulous vegan dishes!

4135 Beltline Rd., Suite 112
(972) 386-3353

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Solstice Celebration with Crosby Catering this Saturday!

The Summer Solstice Celebration is going on this Saturday from Noon – 10 p.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake.

The celebration includes all kinds of fun stuff – art, music, dance, theater, food, ancient pagan rituals…a little something for everyone (yes, I said ancient pagan rituals).

But possibly the best part of the celebration is that it’s catered by Crosby Catering – a vegetarian/vegan catering company based here in Dallas!

I have not been to the Summer Solstice Celebration before, but I went to the Spring Equinox festival last year (hosted by the same organization) and it was a blast! This one is sure to be just as great.

The menu includes vegan Nachos and Root Beer Floats, which pretty much seals the deal for me – but you can check out the rest of the festival menu here.


Summer Solstice Celebration
Saturday, June 27, noon to 10 p.m.
Bath House Cultural Center
521 East Lawther Dr.



Apparently, summer means these creepy things are hungry for peppers in my garden :(

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

Clayce and Geoff  -- JayRay and I gotcha covered next time you hit-up Spiral Diner. Thanks for helping us out, guys! 

Oh, and do ask JayRay about the Secret Blue Plate... ;)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tasteless Wonder

Do you have a friend or loved one thinking about going vegan and you'd like to nip that idea in the bud?

Or maybe you know someone with a particular interest in foods that taste like particleboard

Well, these heart-shaped nuggets ought to do the trick! 

Heart-Thrive Vegan Energy Bars
available at Buli Café

Swing by the cool little coffee bar and give 'em a try. Then come back here and tell Scott what you think. I've already cast my vote to replace these tasteless wonders with those vegan cinnamon rolls they carry at Crooked Tree!

Friday, June 19, 2009


On a busy block during lunch rush, it was baffling to find Manow Asian Brasserie, a chic little spot with high marks on Urban Spoon, completely empty.

“Maybe rush starts later around here,” I thought. But no—every other place looked slammed.

“Is it possible there are 7-foot tall drag queens by the wig shop next door scaring people off?” Nope. No drag queens in sight. Plus, peeps around these parts know they’re harmless anyway…mostly.

So I braced myself for a potentially awful meal—and I’m happy to report I was wrong again.

The menu at Manow was overwhelming. Going down the extensive sushi list alone was a challenge—tuna this, salmon that…not too much for us in this department. So I settled on the Avocado Roll—an elegant sushi roll filled with fresh, feathered avocado. Though presentation was beautiful, I did find the roll to be a bit boring—a simple coating of sesame seeds might have been enough to add complexity.

Each entrée is served with steamed rice and a delicate miso soup. My lunch selection was the Basil Eggplant—a stir fry of tofu, eggplant, onion, button mushrooms, red and green bells, and loads of basil. Larger cuts of the eggplant were a bit spongy, but the overall dish was fantastic.

My follow up visit to Manow was during dinner rush. Again—empty!

While I waited for my dining companion to arrive, I scanned the specialty drink menu. The cocktails had catchy (if not campy) names like Dirty Sanchez, Bad Kitty Cosmo, Love Me Long Time Iced Tea, and Sloe Screw. Fun—and totally appropriate for the neighborhood.

I started dinner with a seaweed salad that didn’t make my brain sad. The salad was bright, flavorful, and served in a cute martini glass. Main course was the Japanese Curry—a fragrant and well-balanced curry with tofu, onion, sweet potato, and carrot. Delicious!

All vegetable entrées can be ordered without fish sauce or egg, and range between $9 - $11.

So why is this place so dead during the busiest dining hours? And why is the KFC down the block always packed? Sad, really.

I encourage everyone to check out Manow. The service is great, drinks are stiff, and the food is excellent!

4315 Lemmon Ave.
(214) 520-8868

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Dallas Vegan in Austin

Last weekend, I attended my first biker rally in Austin (more on that later). Having not been on an extended stay to Austin since becoming vegan (or vegetarian for that matter), I was excited about the trip. I was curious to see, as a Dallas vegan, what life was like in a notoriously vegan-friendly city. Even though the rally was on the outskirts of town, I figured I could make my way to a few veggie restaurants.

The first spot we hit was Guero’s Taco Bar, which is a great tex-mex place near downtown that’s non-veg, but has many vegetarian options. When I found an item that I thought might be vegan, I began to ask my round of questions - “Does this have any ch…” – and before I could say cheese, the waitress interrupted to say “It’s vegan”. Wow…that’s awesome!

Here in Dallas it seems that '”vegan” is still a relatively foreign term to a lot of restaurant workers – but in Austin, it’s second nature for them to know what on their menus are or can be made vegan. This was at least the case at all of the 3 non-veg restaurants I visited.

Speaking of the other non-veg restaurants - they all had a separate vegetarian section to their menu. They weren’t necessarily vegan, but they all made an attempt to provide some kind of option on the menu for going meatless – another something you won’t find at most restaurants in Dallas.

The next day I was also able to stop by the Daily Juice Cafe, a raw/vegan restaurant with a new location just near the UT campus. Their raw “Texicali Tacos” were great and the “Manic Organic” smoothie (banana, chocolate chips, Texas pecans) was even better. Eating there makes me even more thankful that Bliss, Dallas’ own fabulous raw cafe, is now open – so we don’t have to travel 200 miles for awesome raw food.

My last visit was to Mother’s Cafe & Garden, an all-vegetarian institution in Austin (thanks for the tip, Eddie G!). Not only did this restaurant have great food, but it had a long-haired dude playing harp. Can’t get that in Dallas (then again, is that a bad thing?). I had a fabulous tomato-artichoke bisque to start. It was such a treat to get a vegan bisque – this one was rich and creamy with just a hint of artichoke so as to not overpower the smoky tomato flavor.


For an entree, I had the (vegan) Veggie Burger, voted “best in Austin.” This made me think…do we even have enough places in Dallas that offer a vegan veggie burger (let alone a homemade one) to necessitate a “best in Dallas” competition? I can’t think of many, which is a shame. I think there are so many great restaurants in Dallas that could produce some great burgers if they only gave it a shot.

I can see how Mother’s veggie burger could win a competition – crispy on the outside, moist but firm on the inside, with a slightly sweet taste and nutty texture that went great with the fresh fixins’ & sesame seed bun.


Overall, I have to say that Austin definitely lives up to its reputation as a very veggie-friendly town, but I am still proud of where Dallas is and where it is heading. With a few more of us speaking up and a few more restaurants listening, I think we have the potential of making Dallas a notoriously veggie-friendly city as well.

The rally itself – well, not everything in Austin is vegan friendly. Needless to say, the food here was your typical meat-on-sticks type fare – which, I suppose, is what I expected. I did meet one guy out of the bunch walking around with a PETA no-fur sign – so there was at least one other vegan in attendance. But this weekend was much more about motorcycles, drinking beer, and various other extracurricular activities that take place when 40,000 bikers get together in a fairground in 95+ temps (this a PG-rated post, so I won’t get into details). Luckily, I was able to eat great vegan food, enjoy the rally, and make it back to Dallas unharmed and well fed.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ingrid Newkirk Speaks in Dallas

Okay--so Ingrid Newkirk is extreme. "A necessary tactic in order to get noticed and change the world," so she puts it.

But regardless of how you feel about the president and cofounder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the world's largest animal rights organization, it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to hear Ingrid Newkirk speak in person!

Newkirk will be in town next week signing and discussing her newest book The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights: Simple Acts of Kindness to Help Animals in Trouble. The book provides tips and resources to connect with a whole new community of animal lovers.

The event will be held on Tuesday, June 23, at 7 PM at Barnes and Noble (7700 West Northwest Hwy. Ste. 300).

A note to all you young activists: leave your red paint at home. This will be a civilized event. And don't be shocked when you learn that Ingrid is not quite the monster the media has made her out to be. Sorry ;)

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Pizza by Marco OPENS WEDNESDAY!

Frank Nuccio is a cool guy.

I got a chance to meet with him today at Pizza by Marco’s new location set to open this Wednesday in Addison Walk Shopping Center (5000 Beltline Rd.). The new PbM was scheduled to open its doors today, but there were some problems with the A/C.

Dallas vegans already know that Pizza by Marco is the only pizza joint in Dallas offering a wide selection of vegan toppings. So I’m sure we’ve all voted for PbM on the WFAA-list, right?

Here’s the current vegan lineup:

Artichoke Hearts
Black Olives
Green Olives
Green Peppers
Red Bell Peppers
Red Onion
Fresh Spinach
Roma Tomatoes
Sundried Tomatoes
Fresh Sweet Basil
Soy Beef
Soy Pepperoni
Soy Sausage
Follow Your Heart Cheese
(which may soon be replaced by Teese!)

And Frank wants to know: What else do Dallas vegans want?

Leave your comments here, and I’ll forward our votes to Frank.

Here are some photos of the new spot

Friday, June 12, 2009

BBQ "Beef" Sandwiches

During my days in Denton (when I was an omnivore—and a much bigger guy), I was a regular at almost every local BBQ joint. I’m not kidding. So that’s probably why old friends find it hard to believe I went vegan. And who can blame them? Many of those guys witnessed me loading up my plate at Metzler’s with all meat, drowning it in BBQ sauce, slapping it on Texas toast, and dipping it in mayonnaise…on a daily basis (not a pretty picture)! But what my old pals don’t seem to realize is that it wasn’t the meat I loved—it was the combination of all of those Texas tastes I was after.

Since going vegan, I’ve spent many hours in my kitchen trying to create a good BBQ “beef” sandwich…one that any self-respecting Texan could be proud of. Well—after years of trying, I think I finally got it! The recipe is quite elaborate (and will definitely test your patience), but I guarantee these sandwiches will be a hit at your next pool party!

Eddie G's BBQ “Beef” Sandwiches

Day 1:

Beef-Style Seitan

1 cube Not-Beef bouillon
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
3/4 cup warm water
1 cup vital wheat gluten

3 cubes Not-Beef bouillon
6 cups water

In a large bowl, combine 1 bouillon cube, tahini, Worcestershire, liquid smoke, and 3/4 cup warm water. Mix well. Add wheat gluten and knead until well combined. Cut uncooked seitan into 6 even chunks.

In a large pot, boil 6 cups water and 3 bouillon cubes. Place cuts in boiling broth. Lower heat, and simmer for 45 minutes. Drain cooked seitan and refrigerate overnight.

BBQ Sauce

1/4 cup onion
3 cloves garlic
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup evaporated cane sweetener
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional...but not really)

In a food processor, purée onion, garlic, and tomato sauce. Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes, whisking often. Store sauce in refrigerator overnight.

Day 2:

Cut seitan chunks into thin slices. Sautée cuts in a large skillet until almost crisp. Pour entire batch of sauce over seitan and lower heat. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Lightly grill or toast 12 slices of white bread. Dress 6 slices with vegan mayo and pickles, and the other 6 with BBQ. The recipe easily makes 8 sandwiches, but I like a big ol’ Texas-sized ‘wich to pair with an ice-cold Texas beer!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Natural Market Showdown

Natural markets are popping up all over Dallas, but who has the best deals for vegans? Some say Sprouts, others say New Flower, and many still maintain that Whole Foods and Central Market offer all around better deals. 

I decided to compile a short list of vegan faves for a little price check adventure of my own. The results, while not entirely shocking, were not what I expected. I'm sure we've all heard Whole Foods referred to as "Whole Paycheck," but you'll notice their prices are not always the highest. And if Central Market doesn't get their act together (stock those shelves, guys!), they're going to get crushed by the Whole Foods mega-mall set to open around the corner!

Almond Breeze Almond Milk
Central Market $1.99
New Flower $2.29
Sprouts $2.29
Whole Foods $2.69

Boca Organic Vegan Burgers
Central Market N/A
New Flower $4.59
Sprouts $4.99
Whole Foods $4.39

Bragg Liquid Aminos
Central Market $3.99
New Flower $3.99
Sprouts $3.99
Whole Foods $3.99

Ener-G Egg Replacer
Central Market $6.29
New Flower $4.79
Sprouts $5.99
Whole Foods $5.99

Fakin' Bacon
Central Market $4.49
New Flower $3.79
Sprouts $3.49
Whole Foods $3.99

Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheese
Central Market N/A
New Flower $3.69
Sprouts $4.19
Whole Foods $4.49

Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style
Central Market N/A
New Flower $3.49
Sprouts $3.99
Whole Foods $3.69

Gimme Lean Ground Sausage Style
Cenral Market N/A
New Flower $3.49
Sprouts $3.99
Whole Foods $3.69

GT's Kombucha
Central Market $3.59
New Flower $3.39
Sprouts $3.49
Whole Foods $3.49

Madhava Amber Agave Nectar
Central Market $3.99
New Flower $3.69
Sprouts $3.49
Whole Foods $3.39

Miso Mayo
Central Market $4.59
New Flower $3.99
Sprouts N/A
Whole Foods $4.39

MorningStar Farms Chik'n Strips
Central Market $3.29
New Flower $5.49
Sprouts N/A
Whole Foods $3.99

Nate's Meatless Meatballs
Central Market $5.19
New Flower $4.59
Sprouts $4.99
Whole Foods $4.99

Nayonaise (Original)
Central Market N/A
New Flower $3.99
Sprouts $3.69
Whole Foods $3.99

Silk Soymilk
Central Market $2.99
New Flower $3.69
Sprouts $3.69
Whole Foods $3.29

Smart Dogs
Central Market $3.69
New Flower $3.49
Sprouts $3.79
Whole Foods $3.69

Tofurky Oven Roasted Deli Slices
Central Market N/A
New Flower $2.59
Sprouts N/A
Whole Foods $2.69

Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
Central Market $2.99
New Flower $2.79
Sprouts $2.99
Whole Foods $2.99

Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
Central Market $2.79
New Flower $2.29
Sprouts $2.49
Whole Foods $2.69

Vegenaise (Original)
Central Market N/A
New Flower $3.99
Sprouts $3.49
Whole Foods $3.49

All amounts reflect regular prices, not sale prices.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Salsa Sunday at North Haven Gardens

Got salsa?

Enter to win North Haven Gardens’ annual salsa contest on Sunday, June 14.

Click HERE to learn more about the event sponsored by Taco Joint and Bliss Raw Café & Elixir Bar.

Photo from foodnetwork.com

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hail Merry at Whole Foods in Lakewood

Rawists rejoice! Susan O’Brien, founder of Hail Merry, is launching her line of raw vegan delights at the Lakewood Whole Foods tomorrow.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Susan at a demo at the Highland Park store and got the scoop about some new products she’s been working on—a Meyer Lemon tart and an assortment of frozen treats for kids. It may be a month or so before those are available, but east siders will now have easy access to Hail Merry’s Chocolate and Mint Chocolate Miracle Tarts, Macadamia Dip, Grawnola, and Chocolate and Blonde Macaroons.

If you haven’t tried these tasty snacks yet, you don’t know what you’re missing! But don’t take my word for it—sample the goods yourself at any of Susan’s tasting events this weekend.

Friday, June 5, 11am – 3pm
8300 Preston Rd.
(214) 363-0273

Saturday, June 6, time TBA
Whole Foods (Lakewood)
2118 Abrams Rd.
(214) 824-1744

Sunday, June 7, 11am
Bolsa’s Farmer’s Market
614 W Davis St.
(214) 367-9367