Category Archives: Reviews

Vedge

1221 Locust Street, Philadelphia 19107
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It’s finally happened- I’ve eaten at the legendary Vedge restaurant! The spot is known as a major restaurant to check out for any foodie when in Philadelphia – omni, vegetarian, or vegan. It has taken me so long to write this post- 2 months! There is just so much to talk about. The history of the restaurant, building, chefs, and naturally the food. When we went we pretty much ordered everything from the menu (No- really). The meals are sold as small plates, and are suggested you get three plates per person. Each section has 5 dishes to choose from, and we had 4 people altogether. It was easier to choose what we weren’t going to order, but before I get ahead of myself let’s talk about the history.

Vedge opened up in 2011 with Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. The co-owner Rich Landau has reached a minor celebrity chef status, being featured in many interviews, owning several restaurants, and even being featured on Chopped (and won!) Landau and Jacoby have shaped Philadelphia’s vegan food scene, expanding it from it’s punk and religious background. They opened up V Street, a tapas bar, and Wiz Kid, a fast food cheesesteak shop. Nicole Marquis was an employee at Vedge, and has expanded the vegan high end dining experience by opening up Bar Bonbon, Charlie was a Sinner, and HipCityVeg. Just type in “best of philadelphia” and Vedge will appear in many different articles. There isn’t much debate- Vedge is one of the best restaurants in the entire city.

If you aren’t much for “fancy” food, then grab a drink or dessert at the bar to appreciate the architecture. The building was designed by the legendary Frank Furness. He designed over 600 buildings during the Victorian era. Most of his buildings are in the Philadelphia area, and many were destroyed. But this row home has managed to survive, and it really gives a fun layout for a restaurant. When you first walk up the steps it doesn’t feel like you are going into the right building. Surely you are walking into someone’s apartment? Once you open the doors you make it to the bar area and are quickly greeted by the hostess. There is a dining room in the front of the building and one in the back, we were seated in the front, giving lots of light at the beginning of the meal for photographs. Whoo!

Thinking about visiting? Here are some things to keep in mind. One is that everything I’ve written below is subject to change, in fact, their menu changes daily. Not joking. Part of this is because they try and truly stick with seasonal produce. The waiter said there are staples to the menu, or there are some things that simply get modified. For example the radishes seem to be available year round, but the choice of radishes change according to the season. So this menu is the 2017 spring/summer menu.

Also make a reservation — now! Yes I mean now! Open a new tab, google their number, and call! They book months ahead of time for weekend dinners. My sister tried to make reservations for my birthday, and they were booked. Last year my parents in law tried to take us out to dinner but they were booked. But if you are going to be able to dine during the week- you will probably have a much better chance of snagging a table. Even still, if you don’t mind sometimes they will let you eat at the bar without reservations, which isn’t bad. I wouldn’t mind grabbing a cocktail and dessert at the bar late at night- or right when they open XD!! 

On paper the prices don’t seem too expensive. But the menu is set up to order one plate from three categories. They aren’t particularly shareable- I mean try cutting those tiny radishes into four pieces! So this is what makes the price of your meal to shoot up. The review is divided up in the categories on the menu, cocktails, the vedge bar, the dirt list, the grill, and desserts.

So I will leave you to read my reviews on the dishes after saying this- Hey Vedge! Want to have me back and pay for my meal? I can totally do another review of your fall/winter menu. Hit me up. I can also try Wiz Kid or V Street! *winkie face emoji* Alright I’m done selling out- read and drool.

COCKTAILS

BLACK HOLE SUN
scotch, burnt miso, maria al monte, charcoal 14
Dummy’s Guide: scotch, burnt miso, amaro– a bittersweet herbal liqueur, hip stuff to make things black
Jon, his Dad, and myself all got this cocktail. It is a strong drink served in an old fashion. The combination is very odd, scotch plus an herbally liqueur? And what would burnt miso and charcoal even taste like? They all come together nicely, and the miso and charcoal take off some of that astringent alcohol taste. This was so good that my Father in Law got a second.

THE ELDER SAGE
gin, elderflower, lemon, smacked sage
This is a very tasty cocktail but nothing unique. Gin and elderflower are made for each other. But I can say that the flavors work very well. If you can’t stand neat hard liquor, this is probably the cocktail for you. Simple, light, and not too sweet.

LIFE OF PABLO
tequila, aperol, rhubarb, poblano
Dummy’s Guide: tequila, amaro– a bittersweet herbal liqueur, rhubarb, poblano peppers
I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my love of poblano peppers on the blog. They are my favorite pepper, and I get so excited when they start showing up at my CSA. So it was obviously in the cards for me to get this drink. They layer the drink, making a rhubarb layer and a poblano layer. The more you drink, the more they mix together. Truthfully it seems like a weird mix, but they worked so well with each other. I would never think to mix an amaro with a tequila, but they picked out what seemed like the least bitter of all the ones available.

RABBIT FIGHTER (Not Pictured)
rum, strega, pomelo, cardamom bitters
Dummy’s Guide: rum, green herbal liqueur, a citrus fruit, cardamom bitters
Hmm… I blame this cocktail- my third of the night- for my less than stellar memory. Okay- it is probably because we tried almost EVERYTHING off the menu but hey- I can still blame this right? I remember liking this cocktail a lot, but the specifics are a blur. #blogfail

THE VEDGE BAR

FANCY RADISHES
smoked tamari, yuzu avocado, pickled tofu, shishito
Let me first start by talking about how we all had to skillfully cut each and everyone of those radishes into four pieces. We divided ALL of the dishes- but this one was a particular challenge. This dish is a staple, according to our server, but the radishes change as they come into season. Some of the names I reconized from our CSA, but I was a dummy and didn’t take notes. I can hands down say that my favorites were the radish paired with the tofu and the radish paired with the shishito pepper. The tofu and pepper gave a wonderful contrast of texture to the radishes.


PORTOBELLO CARPACCIO
deviled turnip, caper puree, nigella grissini
Personal opinion here- not sure if I get the whole “deviled” veggies thing. But that is only a minor part of the dish. The grissini, or let’s be real- a breadstick, was super yummy and made daily. The portobello was amazing. They are thinly sliced and cooked or marinated to perfection.


SALT BAKED BEETS
crushed cucumber, dill, capers, cured olive, rye
This is one of Vedge’s signature dishes. They bake beets at low temperatures for 2+ hours over a bed of salt. The salt takes moisture away from the beets, concentrating the flavors. It also gives the beets a unique texture. I’m normally not a huge fan of rye or dill, but they worked wonderfully with the beets.


RUTABAGA FONDUE
today’s soft pretzel, yesterday’s pickle, charred onion
Hands down- one of best dishes of the night, or even best in this category. The pretzel was fluffy and soft on the inside but just enough crust on the outside. It is pure magic how they get the rutabaga to be so fondue like. It is fluffy and creamy. I can honestly say that the pretzel worked perfectly with the fondue. Yeah, the pickles and onion were good too- but the pretzel and rutabaga?!

THE DIRT LIST

NEBRODINI MUSHROOMS (Not Pictured)
as “fazzoletti”, “pomodoro”
If you know Italian food you probably have an idea of what this dish looks like. If you are like me and am totally hopeless, you were completely surprised. Fazzoletti is a flat square noodle, which kind-of look like someone picked apart a ravioli. THe mushrooms were served in a similar fashion- flat and square. Pomodoro is a quick light pasta dish with olive oil and fresh tomatoes. Although everything I ate at Vedge was amazing, this dish was less memorable.


POLE BEANS & ZUCCHINI
briam stew, hummus, smoked sourdough
The title is a little misleading, the pole beans and zucchini are not the highlight of the dish. I think the sub-description better explains what you are ordering. There is a big serving of hummus, topped with briam (a greek stew with pole beans and zucchini), and smoked sourdough chunks are placed on top. Even though we were expecting a larger portion of beans and zucchini, the dish was amazing. The hummus was perfectly smooth and not too thick or thin.


PEA LEAVES
flash seared, smoked onion dashi, pickled spring onions
Greens are always a little disappointing. I always want more than what they serve! These pea leaves were super amazing, tender, flavorful and not too bitter. The dashi and pickled spring onions added only a little bit of flavor, letting the pea leaves really carry the dish.


GRILLED GOLD POTATOES
black garlic tahini, za’atar, calabrian chile relish
I think these potatoes were the favorite in this category. I am not a HUGE potato person so that is saying something. It has everything you need- crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The flavor combinations were perfect. The tahini had a wonderful garlic-y salty flavor, and the chili relish gave it this dish a bright burst.

THE GRILL

ASPARAGUS “COLCANNON” (Not Pictured)
peas & green garbanzos, garbanzo crepe, smoked kohlrabi
It has been a long time since I’ve eaten asparagus. I don’t get any in my CSA and they tend to be pricey. The asparagus was nice and thin, making each bite tender. The garbanzo crepe wrapped around the asparagus, and sat on sauce (I think made from smoked kohlrabi?) with some peas and green garbanzo beans.


SSAMJANG GLAZED TOFU
edamame puree, burnt miso, cucumber, sea beans, toasted nori
I am a sucker for tofu, and this was a delicious small slab of tofu. It was well pressed, grilled, and marinated. I especially liked the accompanying flavors. The tofu itself wasn’t overly flavored, but the edamame, miso, cucumber, and sea greens added to it perfectly.


EGGPLANT BRACIOLE
smoked eggplant, italian salsa verde, cured olive
My Mother in Law was excited to try this. She had made this recipe several times at home using the Vedge cookbook. She first pointed out how much tidier their eggplant dish looked compared to hers. But after doing some googling, I think she did a REALLY good job with her version. Naturally I can’t help but compare this dish to the one she made. I love the rice filling at Vedge, it is fluffy, light, and packed with flavor. But I think I prefer my Mother in Law’s eggplant. Hers is just a little bit thicker, which I prefer. Regardless, this is a great dish, and I am pretty sure sticks on the menu most of the year. Heck it was even on the menu when Gina from The Full Helping went 5 years ago.

SEARED MAITAKE MUSHROOM (Not Pictured)
celery root fritter, smoked leek remoulade
This was another crowd favorite. We almost ordered a second plate of it. Maitake mushrooms (or hen of the woods) are amazing and hearty. The mushrooms are very “meaty,” perfectly cooked to be tender but not too dried out. The celery root fritter adds a nice contrasting texture.

DESSERT

So this is where I really dropped the ball. I forgot to take a photo of the dessert menu, thinking it would be fairly stable each night. Nope. I know they have rotating ice cream flavors each night, which my Father in Law picked since the featured flavor of the night was pistachio. It also appears that they have different variations of cheesecake that are always available. My husband went with the cheesecake, but I can’t remember what flavor he chose. Regardless, it was one of the best cheesecakes I’ve tasted in awhile.

CHOCOLATE UBER CHUNK (Not Pictured)
malt custard, pretzels & peanut butter, stout ice cream
Although the menu changes all the time, this seems to be the staple of the house. My Mother in Law jumped on this dish the second she saw it. I don’t blame her. I had a bite and it was amazing. Perfect for a chocolate lover.

GOLDEN PEACH ROBATAYAKI (Not Pictured)
yuzu-chile cornbread, miso ice cream, honeydew duck sauce
So after three cocktails and sharing two flights of Amari- my memory is a little hazy. Well, at least when it comes to reading. I couldn’t find the name of the dessert I had, until randomly this dessert appeared on the menu again. Oddly, I remember that night being surprised there was a peach in my meal…which seems unlikely since peach is in the title. Who knows, but I am 99% sure this what I had. Peach. Check. Miso Ice Cream. Check. Honeydew sauce. Check. So much to say about what the heck this even is. Well first robatayaki is a slow barbecue method from Japan. So this is what it looked like- the honeydew “duck sauce” is poured onto the plate creating a pool. The yuzu-chile cornbread sits on the honeydew puree, then the robatayaki-ed peach and ice cream sits on top of the cornbread. It is overall sort of like a fancy-pants sundae. All of this sounds very unlikely to be a good match, but it was actually perfection. So many textures and flavors. I love how salty the miso ice cream is, then is balanced by the sweetness of the honeydew sauce. The peach is also sweet, but adds a hint of tartness. The cornbread added only a little crumble to the dish overall.

Photo from my Mother in Law showing some of the Amari we sampled

AMARI FLIGHT
This deserves mostly an explanation, and less of a review of each individual drink. Maybe one day I will go back and give a more solid review, but this is something you will most likely want to do if you visit.

So what is Amari? It’s Italian for bitter, and you might of noticed me listing some amari in the cocktails above. They are herbal liqueurs that have roots back when hard alcohol was a way to administer medicine. Today they are usually served as an after-dinner digestive, which is why they appear on the dessert menu. If you are wondering what it tastes like- well that’s where things get complicated. Each one has their own blend of herbs and strength in alcohol. They can have anything between 16 to 40 percent alcohol. Wikipedia has a great little breakdown of different types, including ones made with artichokes, grapes, rhubarb, truffles, and bark.

Again, I would love to do a sampling with a notebook and all to really do some justice about these different drinks. But for now, I will leave you with a list of drinks offered, with some notes and links to learn more about them. 

*NOTE: Prices are just listed to give an idea of how expensive the bottle might be. All stores will price differently.
**VEGAN WARNING: If you decide to buy Amari/Amaro from a liquor store check this list or barnivore before buying! Traditionally the red color comes from bugs.

Amaro Don Ferne 25% ABV $50
Amaro d’Erbe ‘Nina’ 30% ABV $35
Amaro Meletti 32% ABV $20
Averna 29% ABV 40 proof $25-30 a bottle
Cynar Carciofo style (made with artichokes) 16.5% ABV (there is a special 70 proof) $35
Elisir Novasalus 16% ABV $25
Fernet Branca 39% ABV $35
Maria Al Monte Fernet style 40% ABV $30
Ramazzotti Amaro 33% ABV $20
Sibona Amaro 28% ABV $32

Congrats! You made it to the end!
Which dish are you most curious to try?
Have you ever been to Vedge in the past?


I am not much of the type of person to make a post of my latest hauls or cheap finds, but I was pretty excited about my recent trip to Home Goods. It is a pretty hit or miss sort of place. Some things are cheaper there, some are not. I mostly like to look at their kitchen and food items. They have some “health foods” for cheap. What I mostly like is that there are some brands that are endorsed by the Food Empowerment Project.

With that said let’s start with CHOCOLATE! I remembered that Navitas is listed under as recommended brands from Food Empowerment Project. I am always in need of bars so I can stash them in my backpack just in case. I noticed the box was in the clearance section, and listed as $11 a box of 12 bars. I figured that is less than $1 bar, which is about the price of clif bars. I later looked online- Amazon is selling them for $20 a box (cheaper for subscription)!

I’m glad I got them because they are really tasty. They remind me of kind bars only not as hard. I never liked how crunchy the nuts made the bars, but these have lots of soft crispiness from rice and quinoa puffs. Oh! I also love how they DON’T have chia seeds. Seems like all companies just toss them into foods and then you get the problem of getting chia seeds stuck in your teeth. I am guessing these were still on the shelf because people were afraid of the cranberry chocolate combo? It was yummy, but not much flavor from the cranberries.

I haven’t done anything yet with the almond meal, in fact I rarely use the stuff. I skip over recipes that use it because the price is too much. But this was $4 so I thought why not. It seemed cheap… and it is. I looked online amazon sells this brand for $12! And it looks like almond meal is around $8-12 for 12-16oz. Nice steal! I remember loving a recipe for raw cookies that use almond meal. Might mix some up this weekend.

I also found this protein powder for $7. It said that it had 14 servings, and each serving had 15 grams of protein. I normally don’t like things that say detox, and I didn’t find the brand listed of FEP’s list, but I thought why not? Got home and stuff sells for $24!? What?! I prepared the smoothie like they suggest on the box and it was pretty good. I will probably add some cocoa to the mix, but I wouldn’t recommend it on principle.

This I’m MOST excited about. I am sucker for packaging, and new products. People know how to market to me. So when I saw this macadamia nut milk I wanted to try it. But it is always priced around $4-5 in stores (and on Amazon) it was just too much for me. Heck- I have been thinking the store brand soy milk is too expensive ($2.80 for a half gallon). This was on sale for $2! Whoo! That’s cheap enough for me to try once. The package was pretty dinged up, and there was only one container so I am thinking hard about how I want to use it.

There were some other goodies there. Like nutripods (which I do use creamer so didn’t get them), beanitos, and orgain. 

Any good bargains lately?


Photo credit to Bar Bonbon website

Bar Bombón

133 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
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May is a busy month for me – having a birthday in May pretty much means you are used to your birthday thunder being stolen. I remember once being invited to two different weddings on my birthday one year (one being my uncle, the other being my grade school teacher.), as well as there being school graduations, Mother’s Day, and copious other birthdays. This year we celebrated Mother’s Day, my birthday, and my 4th wedding anniversary all in the same week. So when Jon told me one Saturday that he was taking me out for a surprise I really didn’t know what to expect. Turns out we were going out for a big birthday dinner with my sister and friends (apparently I am turning 30 this year and that’s a big deal)!

Jon got his parents to watch Wolfie as we got dressed up and got into the car. At this point I didn’t know yet that what was going on. I tried not to speculate since Jon has a poor history of keeping surprises (I’d already found a wrapped gift in the closet). I noticed we were getting off at the exit for the train so I start pulling out my PATCO card… and then we drive right past the station….

“We need to stop by your sister’s house. We split a gift for your birthday and she forgot to bring it into work so we’ll need to pick it up!”

That sounded plausible, so I thought no big deal. She also lives next to a different station so it made sense. As we start pulling to my sister’s house I see a car, one I’ve never seen. So I asked who’s car was that- or rather “Who the fuck did that shitty park job?!” Jon said that it MUST have been a friend of my niece’s – and at this point if I wasn’t sleep deprived I would of gotten suspicious. When we got inside I was surprised by Alexa and both my sisters! That shitty park job was Alexa!!! In her defense there wasn’t much she could of done, it’s just the shape of my sister’s driveway.

So we all got on the train and met up with my friend Justine in the city to eat at Bar Bombon. It is a Puerto Rican/latin tapas restaurant owned by Nicole Marquis. She worked at Vedge, and opened up Charlie Was A Sinner and HipCityVeg. There was a lot of hype when the restaurant opened and much has already changed. The restaurant moved from having a mix of burritos, arepas, and tacos to having more seasonal plates.

If you are thinking about coming to this place YOU MUST make a reservation. My goodness the place was packed! When you come in it is a little awkward as you immediately walk into the bar area. There is barely enough room to walk past the bar to the seating. There is also a few tables outside but it is next to alley, which isn’t terribly charming. But the inside is awesome and very warm.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: At first glance I noticed that I really liked the decor of this place. I don’t go out into Philly that often unless I’m with Jen, so I just love taking in the scenery of new restaurants and such. It was very crowded, but it was also a Saturday night around peak “let’s go out” hour – I guess I was just surprised because it was also pouring rain (I’ve been out of the city for too long and apparently forget that rain stops almost no one from going out and being away from their apartments). 

Overall I really enjoyed the food and drinks, they had an extensive list of cocktails that I did not partake in…unlike Jen I’m wary of liquor as opposed to beer because if I don’t like it, it’s not a pretty sight. This is a place that I would love to come back to and try more off of the menu.

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER
Avocado, green goddess, black bean puree, mirepoix
Alexa: One of the things I miss most as a vegetarian is good barbecue and food slathered in buffalo sauce. I love buffalo cauliflower for this very reason! Let me tell you – this taco DELIVERS. The cauliflower is slightly crisp and not soggy and the buffalo sauce isn’t overpowering. While I would say that everything we ate that night certainly tasted fresh I especially felt that way about everything in this dish. 

CUBANO CLUB
Blackend chick’n, smoked tempeh, avocado, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, grain mustard aioli
Jen: This was my favorite of the dinner and it was FILLING. This is one of those confusing tapas how big/small are the plates moments as this sandwich I think was a lot more food than the tacos. The club comes with a side of fries, which makes it pretty much a stand alone meal. The club was amazing! Definetly the chick’n and tempeh make it stand out as a unique sandwich from the original cubano sandwich. The smoked tempeh was tasty, and the pickles and aioli give just enough tang. If I were to go back with hubby, I might get this again with a vegetable plate and probably would have enough to eat (with cocktails too duh)

GUACAMOLE FRESCO & PICANTE
I know it is possible to mess up guacamole, but it happens to rarely. I liked the guac here. They let the avocados speak for themselves. You can pick it “fresco” or “picante.” The picante wasn’t insanely hot, but if you want a more traditional route, get fresco. They give a good amount of guac to chips. I was able to use some of the guac with my yuca fries. The chips were pretty nice too, and clearly fried on location.

MUSHROOM EMPANADAS
Leeks, currants, pickled plantains
I had really high expectations for these empanadas and was a little disappointed. Not to say they tasted bad, I just envisioned something different. The flavor was soft, and the plantains were served on the side. The empanadas were fried to perfection though.

REPOLLITOS FRITOS
Brussels sprouts, peanut, mango, lemon
Jen: My rushed meals at home mean I don’t eat enough veggies. So this night I was craving vegetables so Jon and I split the brussel sprouts. They were roasted to perfection with crispy leaves. There was a tasty peanut dipping sauce which was amazing. The annoying thing is that I tasted zero mango. I am guessing it was mainly in there as a sweetening agent?

Alexa: I love Brussels sprouts. Jen isn’t exaggerating when she said these were cooked to perfection, I probably could have had that whole plate as a meal for myself! To be fair, I didn’t know there was supposed to be any mango involved in the dish so I wasn’t as let down, but the oil used to cook the sprouts did have a sweetness to it. So maybe she’s not off on the “sweetening agent” idea!

SEITAN “AL PASTEUR”
Guacamole, onion, cilantro, pineapple
Alexa: I enjoyed this taco as well, but it wasn’t my favorite of the two that I tried. I enjoy spicier foods, so the buffalo cauliflower was a huge hit. The seitan was cooked well and had a lot of flavor that was brought out more by the onion and pineapple. I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a “meatier” dish. 

SPANISH FRIES
Roasted peppers and onions, cheese sauce
Jen: My sister seemed to be very concerned about what was in the cheese sauce. The wait staff was very hesitant to give any clue about what it was made of, but if I were to take a guess it was maybe a veggie based sauce? Whatever was in it ended up tasting great. The fries were thin and extra crispy. My only complaint is that it could of had more toppings.

Alexa: My only complaint was that these weren’t bottomless because…
a) potatoes are a gift on this green Earth
b) potatoes cut into thin pieces covered in sauce and veggies are also a gift.

YUCA FRITA
Maduro sauce
I strongly recommend getting these yuca fries. They are light and fluffy but crispy on the outside. If you like handcut french fries, you will love these. They come with a sauce that made me think of the “special sauce” that my parents would get in Southern Utah. It was just ketchup and mayo, but this sauce tasted like it had a paprika kick.

BETTER & BETTER
aged rum, mezcal blanco, falernum
DUMMY GUIDE: rum, tequila (or something like it), spiced syrup
Hubby got this drink first. I am guessing the mezcal blanco means it is similar to tequila. Mezcal is pretty much an open ended category for drinks made from any type of agave plant. So this ended up being a strong “manly” drink served in a low-ball/old fashioned glass. The drink was very robust and nicely spiced. I question the purpose of the mezcal? I couldn’t particularly pick up on any of it.

LA CLASICA
tequila blanco, orange liqueur, lime
This is a classic magarita- like a REAL one. No neon colors, no slushie ice, and all fresh ingredients. It was really refreshing and tasty. Personally I like less ice, but is perfect for people who don’t like strong drinks.

LA PREFERIDA
tequila blanco, beet, habanero, lime
This is a twist to a margarita. Alexa got this drink and it comes out looking pretty pink-red because of the beet juice in it. It had just enough habanero to give a wee little kick.

NO LOVE LOST
london dry gin, lavender, cucumber, thyme, lime
This was my sister’s favorite drink, so much so she got it twice! I can see why. I found it super refreshing and you could taste all the different components. They worked all so well with each other. I strongly suggest this to anyone, but particularly to people who don’t like strong drinks.

SMOKING DARTS
mezcal blanco, white rum, creme de violette, rose water
DUMMY GUIDE: a tequila like liquor, un-aged rum, sweet violet flavor liquor, rose water.
This was my drink of choice! I’ve been wanting to try creme de violette for some time but not many liquor stores sell the stuff. FYI it is creme because the sugar gives a creamy texture. It was really nice. It had nice floral notes but wasn’t over powering. You don’t taste much of the rum and mezcal but I think they helped prevent the drink from tasting too much like perfume.


Naked Lunch at MOM’s Organics

1631 Kings Highway North Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
more locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., & Virginia
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When Alexa came to visit the Little Wolfie I thought it would be a good idea to get out of the house. We went to try out Naked Lunch- a small cafe attached to the food market chain MOM’s Organics. I am here to gush about both places. I know I don’t talk about markets that often, but I am totally digging this one!

I was pretty skeptical at first, MOM’s opened up across from the Whole Foods in town. I thought “who the heck would shop at MOM’s over Whole Foods?” There are definetly pros and cons between the two. The biggest (only?) con about MOM’s is that they don’t have a barista bar. Womp womp! And clearly there are some brands that aren’t available at MOM’s that are at Whole Foods. But on the flip side there are MORE smaller brands and products at MOM’s organics (and actual sales!).

They sell local ice cream brand Little Baby’s. They always have one vegan flavor for sale.

I remember coming into Whole Foods years ago and finding everything so new and amazing. There were so many eco-friendly and exciting new vegan products. But as time went on, it seemed to be not-so-special. I don’t know if it is because I am older, or if they got rid of the more unique items, but coming to MOM’s reminded me of the early days of Whole Foods and being excited about grocery shopping. There is a huge section of bulk foods including pastas, grains, beans, and soaps. They sell tofu by the pound and roast their own coffee beans. They are really interested in reducing their carbon footprint. Don’t want to waste a bag each time you buy beans? They sell glass jars to fill up, and I am sure you can bring your own containers.

There are also lots of products for sale that aren’t food. I almost flipped that they sold cloth diapers- the first store I saw them being sold in! I even bought a reusable coffee filter from there and they do seasonal collections for recycling items. Recently there was a jeans drive. At the exit there is a recycling bin for many different types of non-traditional items – snack bags/plastic bags, brita filters, corks, and shoes.

Any my favorite is that near the registers there are free cups of water- right next to the bottled water. How nice!

As mentioned they have a little cafe named Naked Lunch. Alexa and I ate here. They offer on tap kombucha, which isn’t as tasty as the ones at Whole Foods or Heart Beet Kitchen. It is a smidge too sweet for me, so depending on your preference, you might like it more. But the price is MUCH cheaper than the other two locations, so it is totally worth it. They also have fresh juices, though we didn’t try any of them.

The area for eating is very small, but there appears to be a wifi area on the second floor of the store. I haven’t checked that out yet, so I can’t make any comments on how nice it is. But I would ask the staff about it if you want to take your time eating your lunch.

All food is organic and vegetarian and the options that are vegan are clearly marked. The portions are huge! Alexa and I both had food to bring home, and used it in meals for several more lunches. I can easily say it is worth the $10 (roughly) that we paid for our meals.

I got the Lin Bowl which had tofu, brown rice, carrots, seaweed, zucchini, and kimchi. It was super tasty and reminded me of fried rice. I ate maybe a quarter of it while there, and proceeded to use the rice in wraps for 4 different lunches. I wish it had just a little bit more tofu to rice. But that is my only complaint.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: I ordered the Jammed Yam: Sweet Potato topped with pineapple-quinoa stuffing, avocado, and garnished with cilantro and jalapeño-lime dressing…

I loved how refreshing this tasted. I don’t think I would ever think to put all of these items together in one dish but it definitely worked.

The only thing that’s tough with vegan dishes for me is that a lot of times the dishes can lean towards being mostly carbs depending on the grains and veggies. I track my food on an almost daily basis (it’s not as grueling as it sounds – I promise!) so this really helped me meet my carb intake with the quinoa and sweet potato. The jalapeño-lime dressing wasn’t too spicy but definitely added a good flavor to the dish that was nice.

Like Jen said, we had plenty to take home, so I used it as a side for almost three meals after we went here! 


If you read my earlier post, you know I am baking my way through the American Cake cookbook. If I can make a good vegan version, I’ll post it on the blog. If I fail, well, I will still talk about the history and how badly I failed. XD But I have good news- this cake was successful!

First lets talk about the history of this cake. Before getting the American Cake book I never knew how American molasses is. Sure it is used in European recipes, but it is used more often in the American colonies since it was so cheap. White sugar was reserved for the upper classes and special occasions. So most Americans bought molasses to sweeten their baked goods.

But there is another aspect of Americaness to molasses. Many Quaker residences boycotted sugar. The sugar industry relied on slave labor, and conditions were considerably worse than slaves in the thirteen colonies. Most slaves were literally worked to death (while in the United States we cruelly let our slaves live long enough to have children and enslave them.) This sugar boycott makes me think about how vegans boycott animal products, and sometimes products that have unethical standards, like chocolate and palm oil. I love learning about historical activism!

In that spirit I TRIED to make the cake palm oil free, but the a lot of the flavor depended on butter. So if you want to be like the colonial quakers, you can try out some palm oil free margarine (which in the states mean Miyoko’s Cultured Butter.) If anyone tries using their own homemade vegan butter, please tell me how the recipe turned out!

Now as usually I can never just make a recipe. No, I had to make this recipes “healthier.” How? Simply using blackstrap molasses instead of regular molasses. You may have heard that blackstrap molasses is much more pungent and it has more vitamins in it. In fact, there is a good amount of calcium in blackstrap. How does this happen? Pretty much molasses is the by product of refined sugar after being boiled a second time. Blackstrap molasses is the result from the third boiling. That means less sugar, and more nutritional goodies.

Although I wouldn’t say this is the most healthy snack, it definitely is helping you out nutritionally. One slice (an eighth of a cake) has almost half of calcium in your daily requirements and almost all of the copper you need! If you want to make it even MORE healthful you could use part whole wheat flour or sub with whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour. I used all purpose unbleached flour.

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I love cake! It was always my favorite dessert as a kid- next to ice cream (for obvious reasons?). I never quite could relate to friends who thought cake was lame. I always had homemade cakes for my birthday. My favorite part was the actual cake part, not the frosting. Having a good frosting is especially important, and something I always remember is my friends having really gross cakes and frosting (probably because they would get cheap sheet cakes with Crisco frosting. Yuck.). 

I also remember admiring The Cake Bible. Baking seemed fun and exciting. But as I got older, it seemed that the American baked goods scene was boring. It is dominated with desserts that are made to taste like other things (like french toast covered in crushed sugary cereals, PB&J flavored everything, birthday cake flavored cookies, etc) or cakes that look like other objects. Nothing compared to the creativity with edible ingredients found in The Cake Bible (hello meringue swans on a blueberry jam pond)

Then Jon and I started to watch The Great British Bake Off. I fell back in love. I loved learning about all the different cakes, pastries, and desserts. Even the savory dishes were fun, mostly when they didn’t involve meat. It got me wondering, what about America? Do we have distinctive desserts?

I heard about American Cake from the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class. I knew I needed that book. It combined so many things I loved, history and cakes. I also knew these cakes wouldn’t be vegan, so I would have to alter the recipes.

I originally was going to make this into a project for Vegan MOFO, but decided to post as I go along in the book. I won’t be making every single cake in the book. Some I am honestly not sure how to make vegan, or rather not sure how similar it would end up being to the original. For example there is an early colonial cheesecake that uses ricotta cheese. Do I bother trying to recreate that? Also there are three or four different pound cakes. Should I even bother? And don’t even get me started with angel food cake.

So follow me in my journey. I will either post about my adventures trying to make the cakes, and if possible, I will share my recipe. I naturally started with the first cake recipe, and one of my favorite types of cake- Gingerbread Cake. Hopefully, I will post it soon.

Recipes:

Blackstrap Spiced Cake


This year we haven’t watched as many horror films as hubs and I had hoped. I think this happens every year though. This year seems to be a little more realistic as to why we haven’t watched many films. Lots of driving, and lots of learning about baby stuff. So I will end the month of October with the last of the films we watched.

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Year: 2014
Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Rank: 9/10
Spooky Type: Vampire
Watch: Netflix + YouTube

Plot: In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire. –IMDB

Review: This is a hard movie to describe. It fits the horror genre since a vampire is in the plot, and there are some serious spooky vibes going on with this film. But in many ways this seemed more like a new wave feminist batman. The pacing is slow, erie, but never employs any shock or gore like most horror films. This sits between genres in a similar way Let the Right One In does. To say it isn’t a horror would be wrong… but to say it is would feel a little like a lie. 

The story follows a young man Arash who is struggling to support his drug addicted Father. Work is hard to come by in his town, as it is a run down ghost town. He comes into a large amount of drugs after his Father’s dealer is killed. After dealing some drugs at a party, Arash runs into a strange girl on the street, starting a romance. Little does he know, this girl is going around town ridding it of men who take advantage of women.

This is only the second Iranian film I have seen. Awhile ago I watched the film The White Balloon, and loved it. This movie is directed by a female, which is rare for the horror genre, film in general, and I am sure for Iranian film as well. The movie relies heavily on it spectacular visuals, otherwise the story would be too slow moving. What I find interesting about the film is it’s borderline love affair with Western media, but it still feels very fantastical and foreign. Even though it feels like it could be an Iranian town, the whole film is shot in California. The main character listens to largely Western music, but Iranian pop is sprinkled throughout the film. This could be because the director Ana Lily Amirpour was born in England, but grew up in the United States.

And some people point out that maybe that is what the film is about. An Iranian women struggling to live in a world that isn’t part of her upbringing. The Girl is surrounded by drugs, sex, and female abuse, and she fights against it. The Girl wears a veil while out, but is it because it helps her stay hidden? Or is because she is a practicing Muslim?

Overall: Great for art house film lovers

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House

Also Known As: Hausu
Year: 1977
Directed by: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Haunted House
Watch: Hulu + YouTube Trailer

Plot: Oshare (Gorgeous) is excited about spending summer vacation with her father, until she finds out that his beautiful, freakishly serene girlfriend Ryouko would be going as well. Oshare decides she will be going to her aunt’s house in the country instead. She brings with her her friends from school – Fanta (who likes to take pictures, and daydreams a lot), KunFuu (who has very good reflexes), Gari/Prof (who is a major nerd), Sweet (who likes to clean), Mac (who eats a lot), and Melody (a musician). However, the girls are unaware that Oshare’s aunt is actually dead and the house is actually haunted. When they arrive at the house, crazy events take place and the girls disappear one by one while slowly discovering the secret behind all the madness –IMDB

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Review: Confession time- I didn’t actually watch this movie, at least this year. Alexa did. She texted me as she started to watch it, because it is something else. I could talk about the metaphors. I could talk about how “Japanese” it is to give people some context. But what really makes this movie shine is just how out there and unique it is. I can think of other films to recommend for any of the movies I reviewed on the blog, but not this one. House stands alone. Heck, I don’t think there is anything else directed by Obayashi that is anywhere as crazy as House.

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So what makes this movie so unique? Well, filming techniques are all over the place. Ranging from weird cuts, songs, melodramatic sets, green screened effect, stop motion animation, I mean everything. If it is a special effect at the time, Obayashi used it. And he used it to make some humorous ways to die. Death by piano? Check. Disembodies head biting your butt? Check. Clearly Obayashi had a sense a humor about the whole horror genre, and let’s be honest, maybe some drugs were involved.

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The end result is the most “gif-able” movie ever made. What I love about this film is that it is funny, it is suppose to be funny. And even though it is so light hearted and doesn’t take the spooky aspects seriously it still packs as much gore as any other horror film. There is no shortage of blood, missing girls, skeletons, and gore. You’ll probably still have no problem sleeping at night, but you have that safe “danger” that you get from say a Goosebumps episode.

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The movie falls between two camps. It is kitchy and gaudy, and really attracts the type of people who like movies like Troll 2. But unlike Troll 2, a floating head that bites your butt is suppose to be laughed at, so it isn’t really the type of film that is so awful that it is good. It is probably better to be describe it like a tragedy or melodrama. There is just so much drama going on that you accept this alternative universe for what it is. Any holes in the plot line, or flaws in the characters are easily dismissed. Possibly the closest thing to be out there is maybe The Rocky Horror Picture Show, only with crack.

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You might be questioning if this film is for you. I mean there is a painting of a cat spewing out blood. I remember being very unsure when I first started to watch it. I couldn’t quite make up my mind about what to think. I remember sensing my husband’s uncertainty when we saw it at The International House. But the further along you watch, it all begins to click as the girls move away from their everyday life to the haunted house. The surreal hell house becomes a character of it’s own, and you surrender all logic of film to Obayashi. Give it a chance. You’ll be happy you did.

Overall: Everyone needs to see this film

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Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

Year: 1962
Directed by: Robert Aldrich
Rank: 9/10
Spooky Type: Psycho-biddy
Watch: Amazon Rental + YouTube

Plot: In a tale that almost redefines sibling rivalry, faded actresses Blanche and ‘Baby’ Jane Hudson live together. Jane was by far the most famous when she performed with their father in vaudeville but as they got older, it was Blanche who became the finer actress, which Jane still resents. Blanche is now confined to a wheelchair and Jane is firmly in control. As time goes by, Jane exercises greater and greater control over her sister, intercepting her letters and ensuring that few if anyone from the outside has any contact with her. As Jane slowly loses her mind, she torments her sister going to ever greater extremes. –IMDB

Review: I remember watching this film when I was younger. I knew what the story was about, and I remember thinking the story seemed so obvious. But watching it again with my husband I thought it was much more chilling than I remembered. The movie floats right on that blurry line of psychological thriller and horror. So heads up, no spooky ghosts or supernatural things in this film.

The movie was based on the novel with the same title. The movie was so unique at the time, that it received an initial X rating in the UK. The movie was such a success that it created a new genre- Psycho-biddy. Stories that base their real life horror on mental instability of aging women. The genre has slowly faded away, mostly because society has been more forgiving on older women. But let’s face it, in the age of plastic surgery, women are constantly being told to never age.

I am hesitant to speak too much of the film since it is such a classic. And unlike newer horror films, you can still be spooked if you know the ending. If I accidentally give up the ending, it probably wouldn’t be so spooky. I do note, since this is a vegan blog, there is some animal deaths in the film. Nothing too graphic, especially when compared with the next film I am reviewing (The Witch) This is another great film for anyone who is a little bit of a scaredy cat. 

Overall: Classic film.

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The Witch

Year: 2015
Directed by: Robert Eggers
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Witches
Watch: Amazon Prime + YouTube

Plot: New England, 1630: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness, with five children. When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. ‘The Witch’ is a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own fears and anxieties, leaving them prey for an inescapable evil. –IMDB

Review: I’ve been obsessed lately with Stuff You Missed in History Class. Every year they try and do a bunch of Halloween themed episodes, usually revolving around witch hunts, ghost hauntings, or general mysteries. I guess because of this I was in the perfect mood to watch this film. That and I wanted to watch it last year in theaters but ran out of time. 

Just like A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, this film isn’t your typical horror film. This movie has a very slow pace, which is fitting for the story. The story takes place in 1630, with an exiled family. Life moves slowly. What I think Eggers does well is captures the mania that happened with settlers in the past. We constantly hear about how people in the past would blame ailments on witches, and it makes them seem dumb and irrational. But in reality is a great way to live in denial, or to have a scapegoat. Even today many people say their house is haunted and are convinced the thumping in the attic is a ghost, not a raccoon.

I pretty much loved everything about this film. The acting, direction, photography, editing sound, like I said everything. It is a refreshing breath of air for the horror genre since it has all the same editing, sound, color, and lighting techniques. There is much less of a big loud startling thump that makes you jump. But as mentioning since it doesn’t have these elements, I think many people might be dissapointed. If you approach the film as just another movie, you can fully apprieciate it.

And since this is a vegan blog, and this movie is about early settlers you can guess there will be some graphic imagery with animals. Let’s just put it this way- no major pain inflicted to animals but you will see blood.

Overall: Excellent ode to New England superstitions

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Young Frankenstein

Year: 1974
Directed by: Mel Brooks
Rank: 8/10
Spooky Type: Comedy
Watch: YouTube Trailer

Plot: An American grandson of the infamous scientist, struggling to prove that he is not as insane as people believe, is invited to Transylvania, where he discovers the process that reanimates a dead body. –IMDB

Review: Ever watched a trailer for a comedy, and thought “this trailer is pretty funny, I should see this movie!” Buuuut…. when you watched the movie you find out that all the really funny jokes were in the trailer, and therefore the movie was just boring? That’s what I felt with Young Frankenstein. I’ve seen it talked about on that “I Love the 70’s” mini series, and had clips played often from friends.

My husband has been DYING to get me to watch it. “You gotta watch Young Frankenstein,” and I have found that if you tell me something is the best or that I HAVE to watch it, I tend to think it is overrated (like oh The Matrix.) But I felt bad for all the movies I was picking out, so I thought now would be the time to watch it. Sadly, I heard most of the great one liners already.

I should of liked the film. It was funny, and filmed perfectly in the style of the old horror films. But again, I heard so many of the jokes before. Plus I had the same issue as An American Warewolf in London with Young Frankenstein. The women were meh. I get the jokes and where they were coming from culturally. Older horror films always had that sexual tension between the leading male and some random woman. But it would of been nice to have a female character that went outside of stereotypes and been stronger.

Overall: Funny and great if you haven’t heard any of the jokes before


Unless you are just checking out my blog for the first time ever, you probably already know that I am pregnant. Actually, 8 months along at this point. And some people already know that most pregnant women aren’t suppose to have coffee- or rather they are only suppose to have so much caffeine. I am pretty sporadic about my coffee intake, but because I don’t have it all the time, I can accidentally guzzled too much in one day. And top it off, pregnant women have a harder time getting caffeine out of their system. I had a day or two where I accidentally drink too much caffeine and was rather jittery.

But I know many people like to drink less coffee, or can’t have any caffeine in their diet for medical reason. Because of these reasons, I was really happy to try out some coffee like products on the market. I tried to have the products in various styles to try and fill everyone’s coffee desires.

Two Quick Notes! I bought all these products on my own. So these are all my own opinions, though I never give my input about if the cost is worth it. Truthfully I like buying expensive coffee so I say all are worth the price. But if you are looking for cheap- go for the teeccino. My second note is that I don’t think caffeine is evil. I think out of most plant based stimulants caffeine is pretty awesome and safe (when in a natural state of coarse, you can overdose on the purified powdered stuff.) I am reviewing low caffeine or caffeine free products so no tea and yerba mate reviews. I also wanted the flavor to be in the same ball park but still be fairly easy to find in stores.

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Crio Bru

Website: Crio Bru.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Online Shop, & Store Locator
Style: Ghana Light Roast

What is it?: I’ve heard about this drink for awhile and have wanted to try it ever since I’ve heard of it. Pretty much the cacao bean is roasted in the same style as the coffee bean

Positives: It isn’t 100% caffeine free, which to me is a good thing. I like having a little bit of a caffeine kick, and it also provides a little bit of bitterness. It also never claims to taste like coffee so you can drink it with an open mind. But the cacao is easy to mix with coffee beans if you are trying to help wean yourself off of coffee grounds. Mixing the two also give a really awesome and unique flavor (think mocha)

Negatives: It is a little watery and pre-ground. The drink is thinner than normal brewed coffee, and I think it would help if the grinds were a little smaller. But you can’t do that since they are pre-ground.

How to Brew: I’ve tried this in many ways, pulled an espresso shot, french press, and drip. I have found the only way to drink this is by using a french press. The espresso was a watery mess, and the drip was alright but tended to have trouble filtering. The French Press will give the best full body flavor.

What it tastes like?: It tastes like a watered down mocha latte- kind-of. There is a distinct chocolate/cacao flavor going on, but you have some rich notes that give a subtle notes similar to coffee. This clearly doesn’t taste like coffee, it has a totally different flavor profile, but can fill the void of full body, bitter, hot beverages.

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Teeccino

Website: Teeccino.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Official Shop, & Store Locator
Style: French Roast, Mocha, Maya Chai

What is it?: A blend of various plants and herbs. The main ingredients being used are carob, chicory root, nuts, barley, dandelion root, and some nuts and dried fruit. There are many blends available in different packaging. There are some that are gluten free (without the barley), tea bags, loose for drip, and lots of accessories.

Positives: This is 100% caffeine free for anyone who wants it. The drink also comes in various different methods so you can either brew it at home, or have tea bags for on the go. There also many flavors which works well for anyone who might be a picky eater. This brand is also probably the most widely available coffee substitute as I found it at Whole Foods, Wegmans, and small mom-and-pop health food stores. 

Negatives: It is easy to mess up the brewing process. There have been times where I over brewed and had horrible tasting teeccino. Because of this, it isn’t so easy to mix the teeccino with coffee grounds if you are trying to get rid of caffein from your diet. The brew time is less than regular coffee, and you need much less grinds as well. I am also not a huge fan of their push for a caffeine lifestyle as they use very questionable spokes people sometimes.

How to Brew: I’ve tried many methods, and found my favorite is the tea bags and pulling espresso shots. The tea bags make it so you don’t add too much tea to the brew, and you want to use less than the average cup of coffee. Because of this strong flavor, it works perfectly for an espresso machine. I pulled a shot, added it to iced soy milk, and had a yummy latte, though it highlighted the flavors that aren’t as coffee-like.

What it tastes like?: This tastes the most like a cup of coffee. It doesn’t quite taste the same, but if you ever had a coffee-chicory root drink than you have a better idea what this stuff tastes like. It uses various grains and such that give a similar bitter flavor, but they use coffee flavorings which really give it that authentic flavor. Overall if I am craving coffee but don’t want the caffeine, this stuff is pretty satisfying. It is full bodied, full of flavor, and in some ways better than just drinking decaf coffee. Crazy? Maybe.

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Macaccino

Website: Macaccino.com
Where to buy?: Amazon, Official Shop, & Store Locations
Style: Original Roasted Maca Blend

What is it?: These are blends of maca root that have been roasted to give a more coffee like flavor. Their original blend uses maca, cocoa, nutmeg, mesquite, and cinnamon, but they have two other blends. Their black reserve uses black, red, and yellow maca root along with beet powder. Their mint has a little dried peppermint leaf.

Positives: Super portable and quick to make. If you like instant coffee (ugh, so bad tasting) this is the coffee replacement for you. Just add hot water, stir, and add any creamers and sugar. Because of the powder form, it makes it easy to make other coffee flavored snacks like lattes, smoothies, and desserts. I also like how this brand promotes the use of other vegan products when making.

Negatives: It is a little gritty overall. I find that towards the end of the cup it gets a little too thick, which could be remedied by adding more hot water. Even when I make my macaccino latte, it still gets a little thick at the bottom.

How to Brew: There is pretty much only one way to “brew” and that is to dissolve the powder. You can use hot water or add mostly soy milk like I do. You can sub any recipe that uses espresso powder with this.

What it tastes like?: Just like the Crio Bru there is something very coffee like that comes from roasting the maca. But you most definitely can taste the maca flavor coming through. There is no way you could just sub the macaccino powder with just maca. As mentioned before, since it is a powder that is mixed with hot water, it does have some off the pitfalls as instant coffee does. But I would think more on par with Starbucks super finely ground instant coffee.


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I’ve been sitting on this post forever. I did a package swap with Jenny from Herbivore’s Heaven, back in early spring when I just got pregnant. You can read her review of the package I sent. I was carefully trying to pace myself with all the food, she sent so much! But then after awhile it became a wait game. I kept putting off making the nut roast because it involved turning an oven on during the hottest summer we’ve ever had. Then it became a wait game for the chocolate pudding. Truthfully I’ve never made any instant pudding in myself and the instructions aren’t in English. I’m a little scared to mess it up, but my plan is to just make pudding pops. But… my freezer is full of leftovers that are just for when the baby is born. 

So I finally decided to leave the pudding mix out of the review and just finally post this thing. So thanks Jenny for all the awesome foods! Hopefully we can do another package swap next year (the shipping to the Czech Republic is expensive unfortunately T__T) because this was tons of fun. I got to try some yummy new foods, and some I found is available in the USA. I love reading your blog (and getting this package) because it really shows how veganism is different in various parts of the world, showing that people aren’t loosing cultural identity by going vegan.

Now- to the reviews. It’s a LOOOOONG post.

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Bear Nibbles Yoyos

Oh boy, this gives me all the feels that American can’t compete. My husband loves bears. It is really easy, find some shirt with a bear on it- boom birthday gift done. We have bear prints, a bear growler, a stuffed toy bear, we even got a beer called bare bear. So when I saw these pure fruit yoyos with a cute bear on it, I already knew I would love it- and would have to share with my husband. I found that the graphic design was a lot more sophisticated than most American brands but the snack was even better than what I was use to. They are very similar to fruit rolls up, only the snack is thicker but thinner in the width, making it more like a gummy snack. It is a little hard to unroll, and you kind-of need to poke the middle and then unravel from the inside in (maybe giving it more of that yoyo sort of name). The snack also came with collectable cards, which are a little silly as an adult, but fun for kids. I got the apple and raspberry flavors, and I think overall liked the raspberry best.

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Crawnchies

I may have been a little hungry when I started to sort through my box, since I opened this up first. I love the packaging, it made me feel like I was eating some raw Pringles. What I really liked about these are that they were very light compared to other raw foods. The main ingredients were nuts, no they were actually vegetables, pumpkin and sweet potato. I liked the intense paprika flavor, not too salty or sweet. I liked the specs on the snack- the container was a total of 125 calories, almost 6 grams of fiber, 5 grams of fat (from flax seeds), and 4.5 grams of protein. The company is from the Czech Republic but the distribute in the UK, France, Netherland, and Belgium.

Flax Rolls with Berries

These are like fruit rolls ups but with flax seeds dehydrated right into it. I am not a big fan of these, like I am happily eating the whole box, but they remind me too much about why I don’t like animal crackers. See animal crackers are sweet, but too sweet to be crackers. But on the flip side they aren’t sweet enough to be a cookie. This in between state drive me nuts. That is how I feel about these flax rolls. The flax seeds really mellow out the sweetness, making wish this was more of a dessert. It is too bad they didn’t cut down on the flax seed and added more berries. But still overall tasty, and I would rather have these over the animal crackers.

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Hazelnoot Stroopwafels

I had high expectations for these, probably because I saw Eat Your Kimchi’s video on stroopwafels. Unfortunately this stroopwafel wasn’t like you saw in the video. The caramel-like center wasn’t gooey, but more like a commercial caramel, soft but mostly hard. Even though that is the case, I found these pretty tasty regardless. I like the hazelnut filling, and the overall treat wasn’t too sweet which I really appreciated. Looking for these? Apparently the company translates them to syrup waffles or hazelnut waffles, so I found a few sellers on Amazon.

Karobová

I ate this snack and thought “no big deal, just a date coconut roll.” Then when I looked online for the product apparently it is made from no date. Nope, just coconut, carob, a sugar syrup, and rice flour. I would never of guessed! It was pretty tasty and something I would probably eat again. Apparently the company does a whole range of different types of rolls made from nuts, grains, and dried fruit. Carob is often forgotten about or thought to just be a cheap chocolate substitute, but it can really shine when given the chance and this is a product where it shines.

Sušenky s rozinkami

Oh boy were these cookies an enigma. I took my first bite and thought “uck tastes like burnt sugar.” I blame some where pregnancy thing because I ate it again, and burnt sugar was still on my mind, but in a much more positive way. It tasted really complex and delicious. When looking up the cookies online I read the translated list of ingredients, and just couldn’t comprehend. It is made mostly just of flour, tamarind syrup, and raisins! WHAT?! I was thinking it was some burnt sugar gingerbread cookie. Never would of guessed. Definitely the tamarind syrup is the bulk of the flavor, making a really complex cookie.

Unicorn Nut Roast

I was a little nervous about baking this. I don’t use connivence foods often, nor do I make savory “loafs” or “roasts” often. Not much of a European foodie? Not sure. My but weird fear of easy food makes no sense, but one day I was craving a veggie dish and figured I probably needed something a little more to make it a meal, so busted out this baby. I recommend making it in fall or winter (not in 90°F weather. T__T) It was pretty easy to make, just boil water, sit, then pop in the oven for 45 minutes. The end result was a really yummy loaf that made me think of Thanksgiving and the holiday season. The mix comes from a small co-op in Manchester UK, so if you live there or are visiting, I would recommend grabbing this. It is shelf stable, and fairly hands off for a night where you have time, but don’t want to spend too much time in the actual kitchen.

Uszatki

Let me first state something, I live in New Jersey. I know you are all going “no shit Jen, like all the restaurants you review are in New Jersey.” But there are a lot of Italian bakeries in New Jersey (hello Cake Boss!) and I HATED them. I never like those nasty cookies that lacked flavor. I think it was my Czech and German blood screaming for gingerbread. What type of birthday cake do I want? GINGERBREAD! Favorite Christmas cookie? GINGERBREAD PEOPLE! So it comes as no surprise that I friggin LOVE these cookies. They are puffy gingerbread cookies that are covered in a thin glaze. There is a hint of mint, which gives an unusual twist to the normal gingerbread flavor. Best part? I CAN GET IT CHEAP OFF OF AMAZON! How I love you Poland for making these dreamy cookies!

Yes Chips Čočkové s chilli

I kind-of forgot that I still had these chips to eat, which is a bummer since I was going through a sugar overload at some point. I have to say these chips made me notice how much sugar is put into most American savory snacks. Or how little flavor our crackers or chips are when they have savory flavors added to them. These chips were kind-of a consistency between a cracker and a biscuit. I assume the chips are made from lentils (since the label has a picture of a chili pepper and lentils). My only complaint is that they weren’t chili peppery enough. Still, they were a nice savory snack.

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Almond Bar

I really enjoyed this bar. It made me think of Lara bars, only much better. I remember catching a bunch of workers complain that every single Lara bar tasted like cashews and dates, and they are kind-of right. They all taste similar since cashews and dates are the major ingredients. This bar really makes things different by using almond butter, giving a very specific almond butter flavor. The bar is a little sweeter than Lara bars since it has some brown rice syrup in it, and I am fine with that. I would totally eat this again.

Bite-Sized Pizza Crackers

I can’t quite remember what raw food I made awhile ago that tastes very similar to these but pizza flavored raw food isn’t anything new. Something about cashews, sun dried tomatoes, and lemon juice really make me think of pizza. I loved the crackers just by themselves, though a nut cheese on top would be equally great. I was so hungry that ate the whole package (354 calories, 16g carbs, 11g fiber, 11g protein) which was pretty satisfying. The best thing is that there is raw onions in the crackers but they don’t leave bad onion breath- a problem that I have with most raw foods.

Country Life Japonská směs

These were interesting. I’ve had Japanese snack mixes in the past so I was thrown off by these. Usually they are made with both wheat and rice, and this I think was made mostly from wheat, which made the snack a little more dense than normal. Overall I thought they were too sweet and not enough soy and seaweed flavors for my liking. The snack was good, my husband ate them all, but it didn’t have enough of the flavors that make them “Japanese.”

Country Life Granola

I make granola at home for my husband’s breakfast. Yup, he puts granola on his oatmeal, and since oats on oats seems a little intense I try to make his granola very nut, fruit, and buckwheat groat heavy. So it is nice to have “normal” granola for myself. This has been great to sprinkle on my acai bowls, and on my vegan “nice cream” bowls. The granola has a very light flavor, letting the sweetness come from wheat syrup and the dried fruit. This is perfect for dessert, when granola can easily be too sweet.

Goody Good Stuff: Sour Fruit Salad

Okay the flavor “sour fruit salad” might not be conjuring up the tastiest image. I mean I am thinking of some 50s canned fruit cocktail salad, but these were really tasty gummy snacks. Again, another dessert I haven’t had in a very long time. The snacks were pretty much perfect, they weren’t too sticky and didn’t get stuck in my teeth, and the flavor wasn’t nearly as sour as what I thought. It was more of a natural amount of sour, maybe the puckered cheeks level of sourness is an American sort of thing? It is actually really easy to find on amazon luckily.

Lewy Sierpowy

I think out of all the fruit and nut bars in this package, this one is my favorite. It is a Polish brand, the same one that made the Urwis jabłkowy below, so I am not 100% sure on the ingredients, but I can make out/guess that there are figs and goji berries. I love figs in raw foods, but most people prefer dates. Dates are all fine and dandy, but there is a certain tart and sweetness that you get from figs, oh and those yummy little seeds are yummy as well! I think what I like about this bar was how tart it was, not too sweet, and enough nuts to keep it very filling. The bar was bigger than most, making it great for when you are fairly hungry. Too bad it doesn’t seem easily available internationally.

Mango Fruit Bar

Man I can’t find ANYTHING about this bar. I think it is made by the British company Mark and Spencer. Though it kind of stinks that the English ingredients are covered by the Czech translation (oh well, it happens) but it appears to be made almost completely made out of fruit! Not 100% mango, but I think that might be a good thing. I tossed it in my purse to eat after getting my blood drawn, and it was great for making my wooziness go away (I don’t like the idea of getting my blood drawn…. the more I think about it, the more likely I will pass out XD) But I was not ready for how soft the bar ended up being since I am use to there being some nuts of something in the bar. Still yummy, but sweeter than I am use to.

Praline Protein Bar

I have been living on bars on the go. The flavor is pretty yummy, but a little too sweet for my personal taste. It is like most raw bars for flavor and texture. It is made mostly of hazelnuts and dates, which give it a flavor very different from say, Lara Bars. There is also some rice protein powder in there to boost the protein to fat ratio that you get from the nuts. My only complaint is that the nutritional guides for Czech Republic always gives the nutritional information for 100grams, making it really hard to figure how much protein and fats are in a bar. I normally don’t harp over these things, but I tend to like to know what is in my pre-portioned foods. Makes you appreciate how America does their nutritional guides. Although the Czech way does give you an idea of nutritional density, helping you pick more nutritious foods overall.

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Raw Chocolate Pie with Pink Himalayan Salt

Let me first say I am sad by the name of this, why pie? There is no crust, no circle, nothing that makes me think of pie. It’s okay to call yourself a chocolate bar- really. So that is what I will call it in my review. Now that’s out of the way, this bar is amazing! I followed the instructions and placed it in the fridge before eating. It was alright, but pretty tasty. I ate about half, and saved it for later. When I went for the second time I let the bar warm up a little bit and it was amazing. The trick is to let get warm and more a melt in your mouth feel without it melting in your hands. I love the chunks of salt and crunchy almond bits. I also adored the perfect little hint of lacuma powder in there. Next time I am in England (lol yeah like that will be anytime soon) I want to try all the different flavors.

Twinings Buttermint Tea

Jenny sent a few envelopes of these Twinings Buttermint Tea since it’s one of her favorite. It was perfect timing since it had a simple ingredients list- mint leaves. Although Twinings is a pretty famous tea brand that is found all around the world, it is a flavor that has a limited release and I have certainly never seen it in the US before. I drank it all, and now will keep my eyes peeled just incase they ship this flavor into the states.

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Urwis jabłkowy

Oh boy, Polish… a little harder to find information on since it has a few letters that aren’t part of the English alphabet. Haha. I am not sure fully what this is other than an apple flavored snack bar. It was really sweet, yummy, and I would totally eat it again. It was a little hard to open, which is only a problem if you get the bad case of the hangries. The bar is pretty low calorie- I think about 145 calories.

Vivani White Nougat Crisp

I think this is a German brand, but I remember seeing this on blogs based in England. I was pretty excited about this since it has been so long since I have had a good white chocolate bar. I am not a HUGE white chocolate fan, but it is rare to find it vegan, so I enjoy it when I get my hands on it. The bar was so super smooth and had so many flavors going on, which is great because an all white chocolate bar would fall flat. My only complaint is that I wish the bar wasn’t so sweet, this is a complaint I tend to have with almost all European chocolate bars though. Aside from that I would totally get his bar over and over again.


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An American Warewolf in London

Year: 1981
Directed by: John Landis
Rank: 6/10
Spooky Type: Werewolf/Comedy
Watch: YouTube Trailer

Plot: Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths. –IMDB

Review: Ugh. I hate when sexism ruins a film. This film is a classic since it mixes humor with horror, and it has some great special effects. Since humor is involved the gore and spooks are never taken too seriously. Nor does the film rely on them to push the story forwards. I could keep praising the film for the star qualities, but that is well documented. It is the reason why this movie is a classic.

BUUUUUTT….. the humor is totally dated. Yes, you can tell a white cis-gender man wrote this script. The main character David has a frat boy attitude. He talks to his travel companion only about having sex with women, is rude to the police and hospital staff, and tries to insult the Queen and Prince by calling them queer. Sure it was insult at the time, but hard to swallow when there is so many other problematic bits of the film.

The love interest, Nurse Alex is a total bimbo and has no personality. I feel bad for Jenny Agutter to have to play such a dull role. The whole time she is just there to build sexual tension with David. Actually it is more like David sexually harasses her during her job, and she reacts in the way that men fantasize about (aka the lady actually likes it.) Then as we moves the story forwards, David starts to believe he is a werewolf, and still Alex still finds David attractive. It is so unbelievable.

Which then makes me hate what could of been a very funny premise- the werewolf showdown in a porno. There were jokes poking fun at the superficial plots of a pornographic films. But by the time this comes into play I was over all the sexist crap. The whole film became a boys only club, assuming that only men love horror films. Yes, horror films were targeted for boys, and yes, I’ve seen probably much more sexist films that are much closer to softcore porn (usually made in the 70s.) But over the years some of these films have gotten a female following, probably because the horror featured in the film are based on the awful treatment to women, and perhaps most women find that relatable and genuinely horrific. As the horror genre evolves, there is a growing number of women who openly say they love the genre. This movie has little to offer a female audience.

Overall: Boo sexism. Yey humor and special effects.

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The Amityville Horror

Year: 1976
Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg
Rank: 7/10
Spooky Type: Haunted House
Watch: Hulu + YouTube Trailer

Plot: Newlyweds move into a large house where a mass murder was committed, and experience strange manifestations which drive them away. –IMDB

Review: I remember when this movie was being remade in 2005. I didn’t care about the movie, but I remember basic cable channels were flooded with specials all about the movie. The story is suppose to be based off of the book The Amityville Horror, which is suppose to be based off of true events. I’ve always find real life haunting stories interesting and much more chilling than movies. Do I believe they actually happened? No, but they still freak me out. This story always caught my interest more than normal because this house is in the town that my Grandmother lives in. I’ve actually talked about this before on the blog.

Since the story takes place in a town that’s I’ve been to I had a harder time to let my imagination go wild. As I was watching I kept feeling like it didn’t LOOK like Long Island, and I knew very well that the house wasn’t the original. Turns out the movie was filmed in Tom’s River New Jersey. Which doesn’t seem like a big deal, except for the water is drastically different set up, and the property in the movie is HUGE! I joked with my husband that the price of the house in the movie was a steal, and joked they could just divide up the property and pay for the house that way (the real Amityville House sold recently for almost one million dollars FYI)

Oh, and mild spoiler alert- there is something terribly humorous that the portal to hell is on Long Island. Anyone who had to drive into Long Island probably felt like they were driving further and further into hell.

So I haven’t actually talked about the movie much. I have to say it wasn’t bad, but it was a little underwhelming. Since the movie is suppose to be based off of a real event, the flow of the story isn’t the greatest. The movie ends kind-of anti-climatically. And being a little bit of a ghost/occult movie fan, something didn’t make sense. Why is everything oozing? Why the flies? There is no reason why George Lutz (the new homeowner) would look like serial killer Ronald DeFeo (the murderer of the previous owners) either. I think the odd pacing is probably because the movie wanted to keep with the series of events from the book. The movie even keeps a countdown of what day it is since the family moved in.

Historically this movie is pretty important to the horror genre. It is another case of a low budget horror film that became wildly popular. There is no doubt that Poltergeist‘s popularity was set up by this film. Since there are so many similarities between Poltergeist and The Amityville Horror, it adds to the underwhelming nature of the film. Compared to The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist is in hyperdrive. Overall, it wasn’t a bad movie, but it is fairly slow moving and a long movie (117 minutes- almost 2 hours.)

Overall: Recommended to old school horror fans

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The Babadook

Year: 2014
Directed by: Jennifer Kent
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Monster
Watch: Netflix + Trailer

Plot: Amelia, who lost her husband in a car crash on the way to give birth to Samuel, their only child, struggles to cope with her fate as a single mom. Samuel’s constant fear of monsters and violent reaction to overcome the fear doesn’t help her cause either, which makes her friends become distant. When things can not get any worse, they read a strange book in their house about the ‘Babadook’ monster that hides in the dark areas of their house. Even Amelia seems to feel the effect of Babadook and desperately tries in vain to destroy the book. The nightmarish experiences the two encounter form the rest of the story. –IMDB

Review: Funny thing is that people chuckle when Jon and I watched Rosemary’s Baby during the pregnancy. I’ve seen many reviews and such talking about how it is the horror that makes them want to never have a baby. But I would argue that The Babadook is much more horrifying for parents. Let’s start off with Samuel. He is a little boy who’s activity levels are through the roof. “Horrible little shit” is an accurate title for him, and this instantly let’s the audience sympathizes with Amelia, the overworked single mother. Samuel’s behavioral problems stem from the families grief for their father who died in a car accident while driving Amelia to the hospital to deliver Samuel.

The movie is rich with metaphors and is filmed excellently. This is probably why the movie is loved by all critics. A quick search of “babadook reviews” will end up with many glowing reviews talking about the story and it’s great portrayal of grief with adults and children by using the metaphor of a monster destroying their lives.

What really strikes me about this film is that it falls into many tropes of the horror genre, the color scheme, skittery sounds, jump cuts, etc used in other horror films. But there is so many unique aspects of the film. For starters it is directed by a female director, which isn’t common for the film industry. It isn’t a normal monster story- in fact the monster is sort of blended with a ghost in it’s supernatural abilities. The end result is a truly haunting film that I would recommend to anyone who thinks that horror genre is dead.

Overall: Greatest modern horror film I’ve seen

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Rosemary’s Baby

Year: 1968
Directed by: Roman Polanski
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Occult
Watch: YouTube + Three Reason: Criterion Collection Preview

Plot: Horrifying and darkly comic, Rosemary’s Baby was Roman Polanski’s Hollywood debut. This wildly entertaining nightmare, faithfully adapted from Ira Levin’s best seller, stars a revelatory Mia Farrow as a young mother-to-be who grows increasingly suspicious that her overfriendly elderly neighbors (played by Sidney Blackmer and an Oscar-winning Ruth Gordon) and self-involved husband (John Cassavetes) are hatching a satanic plot against her and her baby. In the decades of occult cinema that Polanski’s ungodly masterpiece has spawned, it has never been outdone for sheer psychological terror. –Criterion Collection

Review: Okay, I am cheating just a little. I watched this over the summer, but I really love this film. I think it is one of the best prochoice films out there. Rosemary want to start a family and become a mother. But ever since she finds out that she is pregnant it seems everyone is controlling her decisions. She doesn’t take vitamins like everyone else, she takes special juices that her neighbor makes. Her doctor advises her to not read up on pregnancy- it would only worry her. She is quickly recommended to go a specific doctor. She is only a vessel to create this baby, and everyone makes sure everything is going according to plan.

I started to read the novel and it is scary how close Polanski keeps the script to the novel. Much of the dialogue is pulled from the novel. I dare say you could watch the movie and just skip reading the book, or vise-versa. That doesn’t mean Polanski doesn’t take a lot thought in how the film is shot. I love how he doesn’t pull many cheap editing techniques that make the viewer jump in their seats (IE abrupt cuts, going from low to loud sounds, etc) He lets the conspiracy unfold.

What makes this movie so scary is how relevant it still is with all the anti-abortion laws in the United States. White males are still telling women what they can and can not do with their bodies. Rape culture is still very prevalent, which probably contributes to many of the insane and ignorant reproductive laws. Nothing irks me more than John Cassavetes’ portrayal of Guy Woodhouse, Rosemary’s husband. World biggest scumbag. Funny thing is that I think John Cassavetes only plays skeezy guys.

Overall: One of the best horror films out there