• November 13th, 2008quarrygirlappetizers/snacks, recipes, salads

    as you may or may not know, native foods in westwood changed their menu, and in doing so eliminated most of my favorite dishes. so after my most recent and somewhat disappointing lunch there, i decided to go home and dust off the old native foods cookbook that i’ve been meaning to put to use. it’s filled with old recipes so i figured surely it could help take me back to my happy native foods place and give me a taste of the dishes i remember.

    since native foods put the kibosh on farrah’s fatoush, my regular order and favorite dish, i decided to whip up a greek-style feast with all the cookbook had to offer. i varied it a little depending on preference and available ingredients, but i pretty much wound up with some quinoa tabouli, harry’s hummus, and a gorgeous greek salad. (btw, the cute names of the recipes make me wanna smash something.)

    quinoa tabouli, harry's hummus and the gorgeous greek with tofu feta. all from the native foods restaurant cookbook

    quinoa tabouli, harry's hummus and the gorgeous greek with tofu feta. all from the native foods restaurant cookbook

    lemme start off by saying the meal i actually wanted to make was the bali surf burger. it’s this crazy-good tempeh concoction and i couldn’t wait to get my grubby little hands on the secret. well here’s what the cookbook said:

    native foods recipe for the bali surf burger

    native foods recipe for the bali surf burger

    ok, now normally i would never post a scanned picture of recipe from a cookbook. it’s unethical. but in this case, as you can see, i’m giving nothing away. there are so many things wrong with this freaking recipe, i don’t know where to start. first off, the recipe is for a burger, but at the top right, the serving size is 2, “because you can’t eat just one!” and then the book goes on to just double all the ingredients in a really simple way. man, if i wanted 2 burgers i could figure it out for myself, trust me.

    next, this isn’t even really a recipe. it’s a list of ingredients and a dummy’s guide on how to assemble a hamburger: “spread each side with 1/2 teaspoon mayonnaise. on bottom bun, place sauteed tempeh…” whaaaaaa? seriously? i dropped 20 bucks + shipping on this cookbook and you are wasting a page telling me how to physically put a hamburger together? stop it.

    they may as well just give a tempeh recipe and be like, “this is awesome. make a burger with it if you so choose.” i don’t need a whole rundown on how to put mayo on a bun. …and not just that, but the tempeh recipe on page 65 is no big shakes either. it just tells you to go out and buy some tempeh, then sautee it. i won’t give away the “secret” or anything, but it feels like kind of a jip. basically everything with fake meat in the cookbook just provides ingredients, and then sends you to a website where you can order the soy meat products. hmmmmm. not cool.

    so i decided to make something with ingredients i could find, that actually required some preparation. bring on the greekness!

    k, lemme tell you what you’re looking at here. there’s harry’s hummus, the book describes it as a lighter hummus which doesn’t include tahini…then there’s quinoa tabouli, a blend of quinoa and parsley on a bed of greens (i omitted the mint because i didn’t have any, and used spinach instead of lettuce)…then there’s the gorgeous greek, a mixture of vegetables and tofu feta (i made it without bell peppers).

    overall, everything tasted great, but i gotta say…there was SO MUCH FREAKING OLIVE OIL. in everything! i couldn’t believe my eyes when i was reading the recipes. i decided to half the oil in everything, and even then, as i was pouring the olive oil into the measuring cup i was like, ok i gotta stop, this is gonna fucking kill me before i finish it. i calculated all the recipes together, and in total, all the dishes would have required 2 CUPS OF OIL! seriously. granted there would have been left-overs and such, so it wouldn’t have all been eaten in one sitting…but i used left than half that amount and my food was still swimmin’ in it. gross.

    my last criticism about the cookbook is that every recipe requires you to prepare something from another page. like to make the salad, i will need x amount of tofu feta, then i have to go to the tofu feta recipe page and not make the entire recipe, but figure out the right proportions to just make x. sometimes 2 or 3 times for one recipe. seriously, i’m no idiot, and scrambling around, flipping through pages and doing calculations got both tiring and mathematically taxing.

    all that aside, the recipe came out great! everything was extremely delicious, albeit pretty heavy on the oil side. the best part was for sure the tofu feta which was lemony and tart, and didn’t taste like feta at all.

    tofu feta from the native foods cookbook

    tofu feta from the native foods cookbook

    although the food was tasty, i’m gonna wait a few months before using the native foods cookbook again. it was hard work, and i think i should give it quite some time before consuming that much fat again. i mean, that’s what eating out is for!

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  • September 29th, 2008quarrygirlflorida, more restaurants (not LA)

    recently i took a trip to florida, and in addition to soaking up sun and bobbing around in the ocean, i made it a point to visit as many vegan eateries as i could. over the next few days, i’ll bring you stories of meat-free food from ft. lauderdale, downtown miami, and the beach areas…starting with south beach, which is where i stayed.

    i did a lot of research before visiting florida on sites like happycow and found that there weren’t really any vegan restaurants near my hotel—i was pretty much resigned to the fact i would have to drive over the bridge to try out the really good places. so imagine my surprise when i was walking down lincoln road, a trendy little street of shops and restaurants reminiscent of 3rd street promenade, and spotted a menu propped up on a stand with the word VEGAN clearly labeling an entire list of items. the vegan-friendly menu belonged to books and books, a hip little book store that also functions as a café. of course the husband and i had to try it out. the result was pure delciousness.

    black bean and hummus sandwich $6.95

    black bean and hummus sandwich $6.95

    while the menu had a lot of vegan options, many of them contained bell peppers, which i absolutely hate. one tasty dish, however, that could be easily made without peppers was the black bean hummus sandwich. black bean hummus sounded way too good to pass up, and i was right…it was soooo freakin’ yummy. i inhaled it in like 4 seconds, but from what i remember, it was pretty damn perfect. the hummus was thick and substantial, not as runny or mushy as normal hummus, so it made for a hearty sandwich filling. the black beans added so much flavor and an unexpected crunchiness to the chickpea puree. plus, the sandwich was piled high with crispy cucumbers and juicy tomatoes. a very good find.

    vegan chicken sandwich $9.95

    vegan chicken sandwich $9.95

    the vegan chicken sandwich was also quite lovely, but definitely not worth $3 more than the hummus sandwich, which i preferred. the fake chicken was nicely grilled, but it did taste like it was probably a frozen patty to begin with. that’s not bad, though, for an omnivorous restaurant in miami beach. i’m just stoked they have vegan options at all, let alone actual fake meat! the vegetables were also scrumptious on this sandwich: a big thick slice of avocado, tomato, and mixed greens all added fresh flavor to the succulent little piece of chicken.

    while so many other things on the vegan menu sounded amazing, these sandwiches really hit the spot for quick and satisfying light lunch. the side salad was quite tasty as well, boasting tons of dark leaves, a mound of shredded carrots and a zesty vinaigrette. plus, the sandwiches came already cut in half so they were perfect for sharing. we pulled our favorite trick: ordering 2 and then swapping halves.

    besides the fact that the food is pretty awesome, i urge you to support books and books for boldly dedicating an entire section of the menu to clearly-marked vegan items. it was so lovely to sit in the sun, amongst all the shoppers, in a city with few vegetarian restaurants, eating food i knew to be vegan at a “normal” café. the servers were also unbelievably helpful and friendly. one even mentioned that during breakfast hours, any egg dish can be made vegan by subbing tofu or modifying the ingredients. sweet!

    so if you ever head down to miami beach, check out books and books. great atmosphere, super service and a bunch of vegan options. and they do have a lot more than just sandwiches, but lemme tell ya, the sandwiches are damn good!

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  • September 3rd, 2008quarrygirlUncategorized

    now, i’ve talked about naja’s place before…but i really didn’t do the hummus justice. i was too busy babbling on about how great pliny the elder is. let me set the record straight and say that naja’s serves up the best plate of hummus in town.

    hummus plate: served with naja's green sauce, pico de gallo and pita bread. $8

    hummus plate: served with naja's green sauce, pico de gallo and pita bread. $8

    the hummus may actually be the only vegan thing on naja’s menu (which is filled with disgusting items like chicken strips and kabob plates), but it really is worth making the trip out for…especially if you love tap beer. what makes naja’s hummus special isn’t just the way it’s perfectly blended to the right flavor and texture, but also all the delicious garnishes that come on top. spices, homemade pico de gallo and the hottest green sauce ever cover the mound of already scrumptious hummus. this is so damn good on its own, i don’t even need to add hot sauce!

    let’s not forget, naja’s also has 88 beers on tap. that alone is reason enough to check this place out. plus, they were open early on labor day…rather than closing all together. this place knows how to give the people what they want.

    and while you’re there, be sure to try out pliny the elder. it remains the hoppiest, most wonderful beer we at quarrygirl.com have ever tasted. sitting and drinking just 2 pints is absolutely maddening (this is la, so we have to worry about driving home after a visit to the bar)! we were digging pliny the elder so much, that we swung all the way over to rock n roll 7-11 to pick up a supply of bottles. even at $5 each, these were a bargain.

    so go check out naja’s, drink some good beer and stuff your face with spicy hummus. great times guaranteed. the service at the bar isn’t great, but hey, after a few drinks you won’t mind so much!

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  • August 21st, 2008quarrygirlhy-mart deli, LA restaurants

    when i feel like wasting time at work, i often like to scan laist.com. it’s a great site that keeps me abreast of all the vital happenings in my city—pertinent information, like how the dodgers are doing, when/where sobriety check points are scheduled, and which indie bands i’ve never heard of are playing near me. sometimes i get really lucky, though, and they review restaurants with vegan options that drive me out of my mind. this was the case with their review of hy-mart deli. when i read it, i knew i HAD to go. i went with the highest of hopes, and even then, hy-mart still managed to exceed my expectations.

    mediterranean madness!

    mediterranean madness!

    the modest sandwich shop is small inside, with only 4 tables, a fridge full of beer & soft drinks, and an ordering counter. i went with my husband who decided to grab a seat and while i picked out two wraps for us to share. this is when i made a huge mistake.

    i placed my order making sure to ask for no tzatziki, yogurt, or dairy of any kind…but in my lameness, i picked out one sandwich that was called “gyro gone wild”. it looked great—full of avocado, hummus, cucumbers and other treats…little did i know it would would also be full of MEAT. imagine my horror when i realized back at my table i was holding a wrap full of flesh. the worst thing is, my husband had already started eating it! ugh, what have i done? i called out before he could take another bite and told him to check his meal for animal bits, and sure enough, they were in there. he assured me it must be a mistake, and asked me what i had ordered. when i told him it was a gyro, he shot me an annoyed glance that made me know i’d fucked up. “but meat wasn’t listed as an ingredient!” i exclaimed, defending myself. “no shit, a gyro IS meat,” he explained, “it’s like ordering a hot dog…they aren’t going to list ‘meat’ again as an ingredient.” ugh.

    i reluctantly brought the sandwich up to the counter and explained my stupidity to the friendly owner who’d made my sandwich and rung me up in the first place. i told him i was happy to buy another sandwich, a vegetarian one, as this was my mistake. but he wouldn’t have it, and insisted on making me a replacement. he omitted all dairy sauces and even threw in extra hummus in their place. he was so nice and cool about the whole situation, i couldn’t believe it. i was impressed.

    i was even MORE impressed though, when i bit into what turned out to be the best falafel sandwich i’ve ever eaten in the valley, and the valley is full of falafel. it was called mediterranean madness and boy, was it mad! it wasn’t really a sandwich, but more like a huge burrito wrapped in lavash, filled to the brim with goodness. the version i got was stuffed with falafel, hummus, grapeleaves, cucumber, onions, tomatoes, tabooleh, lettuce, avocado and hot sauce. god, was it sooooOOOOoooOOOOo good! and the thing was freaking huge! i don’t think i’ve ever had so many foods i love all together in one wrap. the second sandwich (the one that replaced the meaty gyro) was filled with similar ingredients. i don’t remember the exact name, but it was scrumptious!

    while we were chowing down our amazing lunch, the owner came by and tried to give me a dollar. there was a price difference, he explained, between the sandwich i returned and the new one. i couldn’t believe it! how could i take a dollar when it was my mistake all along, and he’d basically given me a FREE sandwich…what a sweet gesture. of course, we insisted he keep it.

    as i rode away, completely replete and full of falafel, i thought about what i’d learned. 1.) gyro is another word for dead animal, and 2.) i CANNOT WAIT to return to the hy-mart deli to eat another perfect sandwich and to support such kind & friendly ownership.

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  • July 24th, 2008quarrygirlLA restaurants, native foods

    especially after eating this amazing bowl at native foods.

    greek gyro at native foods
    steamed veggies, quinoa, creamy garlic lemon sauce, peppered seitan, hummus and grilled flatbread. $9.85

    i really consider myself a seitan connoisseur—i like only the best shit and i am very hard to please. i’ve never found a homemade seitan recipe that lives up to my standards, and i am super picky about the brands i buy in the store. so of course i was a wee bit skeptical when ordering what sounded like a delicious seitan bowl at native foods. luckily, they stepped up to the challenge and made the best seitan dish i’ve ever eaten. and it was smothered in the tastiest, creamiest, hummus-iest sauce. delicious.

    greek gyro at native foods

    peppery and flavorful, this seitan is gonna be very hard to beat. definitely the best dish i’ve ever ordered at native foods. and as an added bonus, the bowl comes with protein-laden quinoa instead of rice. i loved every last bite.

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  • June 5th, 2008quarrygirlfarmers market, LA restaurants

    the farmers market is a great place to hang during the weekend, drinking beer and eating vegan food. while there are many great places to eat, one spot that i frequent is a little middle eastern stand called moishe’s. the food is pretty expensive, but it’s really good. especially if you are looking for something light to help soak up several pints of beer.

    small side of taboule $3.25

    large side of hamous $5.25

    as you can see, these are just some of the vegan options that moishe’s has to offer:

    i love seeing so many things i can eat all lined up together on a sign! moishe’s also makes great falafel sandwiches, if you want a meal that’s a little more expensive hearty.

    i’ve definitely got a lot of problems with moishe’s…but it’s just so damn convenient and tasty, i keep on coming back.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • May 29th, 2008mr meanermore restaurants (not LA), seattle

    Since the early 70s, the Pike Brewery has been serving ales in Seattle, moving to its present location in Pike Place Market during the early 90s. If you can deal with the nightmare that is parking in downtown Seattle (or better still, get a taxi: you probably won’t want to drive after a visit to the Pike!), you are in for a beer TREAT with several vegan options on the menu, including my favorite, Hummus and Pita, which is lovingly prepared, saladated with cucumber, lettuce, and the all important kalamata olives:

    Having said all that, I forget my veganism when I show up at The Pike, because the thing that gets me every time is the cask ale, served at just the right temperature from traditional British-made hand pumps. If the stars are aligned, you can get a porter, stout or (if you’re really lucky) the perfectly hopped IPA, which I was lucky enough to find on cask suring my last visit.

    The vibe is similar to a large English pub, but with a very Pacific Northwest feel: comfortable pleather couches, large plastic covered menus and the stench of fried food everywhere.

    Visiting at peak times usually means a wait unless you’re lucky enough to get a seat at the bar, or you have to line up at the bar and order if you’re sitting in the “pub” — just like in England! If you visit off-peak, though, you can get a comfortable bar seat and chat away to one of the knowledgeable bartenders while enjoying one too many cask beers 🙂

    The Pike is one of Seattle’s best breweries, arguably the best location, probably the best vegan food offerings and, albeit at certain times, the best atmosphere. If you enjoy good vegan food and great beer in a hassle-free environment the Pike is certainly for you.

    Check it out on your next trip Up North.

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  • April 12th, 2008quarrygirlappetizers/snacks, recipes

    i’ve ruined 2 blenders in 2008…both were the victims of this exact hummus recipe. i won’t go into detail about how i wrecked them, because it’s far too embarrassing. i think i’ll just give you the recipe and some tips to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you. trust me, the hummus recipe is amazing…and if you follow some simple guidelines, you can prepare it with out sacrificing any of your kitchen appliances. i, on the other hand, had to learn the hard way—so the hummus pictured was never actually eaten. i’m sure it would have been damn good though…

    step #1, the ingredients.
    here’s what you’ll need to make the perfect hummus:
    1 can of chickpeas with 1/4 cup of their liquid
    2 tablespoons of tahini paste
    4 tablespoons of lemon juice
    2 tablespoons of olive oil
    2 cloves of garlic
    1/2 teaspoon of salt

    step #2, the mixing.
    now that you’ve got the stuff, combine it all in a blender or food processor…

    step #3, don’t be a dumbass.
    now, here comes an important bit…
    before you blend everything together, check to make sure no foreign objects (or loose pieces of the blender itself) are inside the blender. that may lead to hummus that tastes like plastic and smells like burning metal.

    step #4, blend.
    once you’ve checked all the other boxes, blend the ingredients for about 5 minutes, or until your hummus is a smooth and creamy texture.

    (i don’t have a picture of the finished product because while i’ve definitely got steps 1,2, and 4 down, i failed to follow step 3)

    good luck! this really is the best hummus if you actually finish it!

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  • March 26th, 2008quarrygirlLA restaurants

    a lot of bars aren’t open on easter sunday. fortunately, naja’s place in redondo beach is. while this is supposed to be a blog of vegan things, i can’t find anything more inspiring to write about in my first post than beer…hoppy, tap beer. and i will throw in some hummus as well, so this post will technically qualify as a vegan post. hummus is vegan. now, back to the beer…


    naja’s is a great place to go if you love beer; they must have about 20-30 different choices on tap. the service is pretty crap, though (unless you happen to be one of the toothless “regulars” who makes out with the bartendress while the rest of us are waiting for our drinks).

    Read the rest of this entry »

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