Tag Archives: Philadelphia

A tomato pie right before it goes into the oven

A tomato pie right before it goes into the oven

*A QUICK NOTE FOR US CITIZENS* Go out an vote tomorrow! Even if you don’t like Hilary or Trump, there are lots of local elections that you should pay attention to. And if you aren’t sure about who you will vote for, I STRONGLY recommend checking out the videos made by John Greene comparing Trump and Hilary’s policies to each other. In America sometimes we vote with who we “like” not who is better qualified, will do a good job, or have good policies. There is a very good video on Tax Policies, Health Care, and about the unlikeness that election will be rigged. That being said I hope that everyone votes tomorrow.

Coming up with a local food was a little hard. New Jersey’s culture is a little hard to pin point. We are a very diverse state, but we are also very segregated. We have lots of strong communities of immigrants. I’ve seen a wide range of ethnic supermarkets ranging from Korean, South East Asian, Chinese, Indian, Polish, Caribbean, African, Mexican, Italian, or some sort of mix (weirdest is the Chinese-African market, which might still be open). And looking past the international food contenders, New Jersey is heavily divided by their food influences between North (aka New York City) and South (aka Philadelphia).

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I grew up where Alexa is, and you might notice our reviews for restaurants in Fair Haven, Red Bank, and Asbury Park. These places are super dependent on NYC, even though it takes over an hour to get there. Fun fact, we actually fairly close to New York City- if we took a boat into the city. But otherwise cars, trains, and buses need to go west, then north, the east again. But I am now living in South Jersey, which means I am finding out weird traditions. Like apparently there is a Philly Style Bagel (it’s boiled in beer), irish potatoes, water ice (known as Italian Ice to everyone else),  cheesesteaks, and soft pretzels. Heck, you will probably hear about other various Pennsylvanian Dutch cuisines such as  scrapple and apple dumplings being “Philly foods.”

But it wasn’t until I moved out of Philly I heard of a tomato pie. I was complaining of the crummy pizza selection in Philly and South Jersey when my co-worker suggested I grab a tomato pie from Brunos. He was vegan, and I was eating mostly vegan at the time. I figured tomato pie was a term for a cheeseless pizza. But it isn’t. It is a term for a SPECIFIC kind of cheeseless pizza. There wasn’t really any tomato pies in North Jersey, but we did have the same style of pizza- we called them Sicilian styled pizza. My friends LOVED that pizza, but I wasn’t a big fan. Apparently it was just too greasy, because once you remove the cheese it is perfect.

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I’ve already featured a tomato pie on this site before. It was in the Southern method where you use a pie crust (side note there is a sweet pie using green tomatoes?! I should try that next year!) Well, mine was more like a cobbler with a corn bread crust on the top. So don’t expect a pizza when you order a tomato pie in the South.

I didn’t post a recipe, as this was my first time making it. I think I can tweak it to make it more like my favorite tomato pie. But it is a pretty easy recipe to make, I used the one from Serious Eats. I suggest making it on the weekend. It isn’t labor intensive but there is a lot of wait time. I made the dough in the morning, and about 2 hours before you eat, make the sauce and start proofing the dough. 

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Nervous about how to serve the pizza? Technically the pizza is served at room temperature, and you cut it in big square pieces (the dough is rolled out in a rectangular pan.) Traditionally the dish is pretty much vegan. Sometimes people use butter to sauté the sauce, and some people sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Some pizza shops like to sprinkle cheese on the dough, then place the sauce on top. So ALWAYS ask if the tomato pie is vegan.

Anyone have a local cuisine that has a misleading name as well?


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Animo

210 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033
1701 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
website | facebook haddonfield | facebook philadelphia | instagram | twitter

I am actually a little surprised it took me so long to post this review. See I use to work at Animo I guess around 2 years ago. I worked there for quite sometime actually, and I really miss the food. Vegan MOFO has the prompt of “Where do you eat when you want someone else to cook for you?” and the answer is nowhere. I usually have enough leftovers in the fridge or freezer to hold us off. We tend to find take out too much of a burden to do. The closest we get is me making a pizza from store bought dough or possibly Chinese take out.

But then I thought about the days of when I worked at Animo. If I ended up closing I would take home some burritos for Jon and I to eat. When I first started to work there they had free food for employees, which meant I would have their fresh juices, smoothies, and salad whenever I wanted. It was pretty nice. I would even sometime suppliment some of the meals there. If I had some soy yogurt, I would toss in some fresh fruit.

So let’s start with the basics- there are two locations for Animo. They have their original location in Haddonfield, NJ, but they have expanded into Philadelphia. I would recommend checking out the Haddonfield location since the Philadelphia location is always packed and is usually visited by office workers grabbing their lunch. Both locations differ, as I think the Philadelphia location tends to have more on location baked goods and special events.

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The stores are not exclusively vegan. Sorry. But it is very easily customizable. The staff is usually pretty knowledgeable about what vegan means and will help you make your meal vegan. They don’t do fake vegan cheese or sour cream, but the flavors are really intense and you don’t need it.

The basic vegan ordering low down- the smoothies have yogurt in them. Ask for no yogurt or to sub with soy milk. The protein shakes are actually vegan by nature! They will probably ask what type of milk you want, cows, soy, or unsweetened almond. If they don’t, they defaulted to the soy. The protein powder is soy based unless you specifically ask for whey. They have acai bowls and special banana ice cream, both have no dairy in them. For the breakfast foods, you have a choice between their oatmeal or a peanut butter banana burrito.

Now for the burritos. My favorite thing about Animo is that they have two burrito sizes! You can get the full size burrito, or the ‘petito.’ A petito is about half the size of a normal burrito. So if you think Chipotle’s burritos are two meals, you’ll enjoy the petito. You can get their classic “mission” burrito, without cheese, and you have the “protein” option of veggies for extra. They also have the Bank Street (with veggies), Kale and Quinoa, and the Hummus and Veggie burritos which are all vegan as well.

And what is that beauty you see up above? That would be The Border Salad. It is lettuce greens topped with guac, blue corn chips, and pico de gallo. Since I’ve worked there I have my own little preferences. I skip the cilantro-lime dressing and go straight for their homemade hot sauce. I also like to get their salsa added, and it is totally worth it to get the roasted veggies added. Only thing is that you need to ask for no-cheese to make it vegan.


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Dizengoff

1625 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011
website | PA: facebook | PA: instagram | NYC: instagram | PA: twitter | NYC: twitter

There has been a growing movement in Philly that it is a vegan friendly city. The funny thing about that statement is that there aren’t THAT many 100% vegan restaurants. Or rather, I am quick to point out there is a polar divide between culinary styles. You have high end places like Charlie Was a Sinner, V Street, Vedge, and Bar Bonbon (high end tapas bars), but then you have more punk/take out style restaurants like Dottie’s Donuts, Blackbird Pizzeria, Grindcore House, Govindas, HipCityVeg, and the like. And if the cuisine isn’t very American, you tend to get more a fast food places that are owned by Asian owners like Su Xing House, Lee How Fook, Veggie Lovers, New Harmony, and Vegan Tree.

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What makes Philadelphia shine is that almost all independently owned restaurants have lots of vegan options. So many, that I know I would never be able to feature all the restaurants that I have been to that I think are worth mentioning (although, maybe I should try?!) Khyber? My husband loved it. Was some dosas? Go to Philadelphia Chutney Company. Gym Rat? There are options at Fuel. Yes, vegan food seems pretty normal in the city of Philadelphia. So if you have a stubborn friend who doesn’t want an all vegan menu, you can pretty much select anything in the city and get something very good.

Dizengoff falls into this category. Not vegan, but super trendy and very vegan friendly. I first heard about the place from photographer Ted Nghiem (who’s photos are much better than mine) And when meeting up with my friend Chrissy, she wanted to try the place out.

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Dizengoff features seasonal food in a middle eastern style. Naturally hummus and pitas are on the menu year round, but aside from that the menu has never been the same each time I have been. When I first went, Chrissy and I pretty much got the two vegan options (out of 4-5 options) which was a fava bean hummus and a hummus topped with beets. It was hard to choose which was better. The fava bean dip was amazing, but the it was nice to scoop chunks of beets from the second dish.

The second time coming I went with my husband. We were originally planning on eating at The Philadelphia Chutney Company, but we got there too early. We noticed Dizengoff was opened and thought it would be a good place to eat. We got Spicy Cauliflower dish, which was a bowl of hummus with tender cauliflower covered in a spicy sauce. The meal was really filling, and we both filled up by just sharing the plate. All of their hummus dishes comes with a side of pickles, a cucumber salad, and a pita. You can buy an extra pita for $1, which I recommend especially when sharing.

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Things to know about the place? Well, the store in Philadelphia is VERY small. It is a hole in the wall and finding a spot to eat might be hard depending on the time you come. They do take out and you can eat in Rittenhouse Square. Just keep in mind that if you take out and eat in the park that you can’t grab a beer to go. No drinking booze in public in Philly. They have a second location in New York City, thstaffough I have never been. I can only assume it is equally as small.

Don’t be afraid to ask which dishes are vegan, since the menu is so small the staff is well aware of what is vegan, vegetarian, or not. I love how small the menu is, because it sometimes forces you to take a chance. I don’t think I would of ever picked out that fava bean dish if there was a huge selection to choose from. And the food is fresh and top quality.

 


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Indeblue

619 Collings Avenue Collingswood, NJ 08107
205 South 13th Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
website | facebook | google+ | instagram | twitter

I’ve been a long fan of Indeblue. I remember visiting it with Jon and his father when it was starting out in it’s first small location, which is just across the street from their current location in Collingswood. I went with my husband and my Father-in-Law, my Father-in-Law just went nuts with ordering. I’d be looking at the menu and say I was thinking about ordering the soup, and BAM he would just order the soup for us to try without me deciding if I really wanted it or not. I don’t think I actually had a vegan dinner, as it was years ago before I was fully vegan. Since then they’ve moved to a much bigger building and had expanded their menu. They also have a location in Center City Philadelphia, but I haven’t visited it. Why would I? It is much easier to go to the one in Collingswood. So how vegan is it now?

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Very vegan friendly. They might not have a massive selection of vegan options, but there is enough that if you go in you will have some choices. We went during a Sunday for their brunch and we were pleasantly surprised. If you want to drink for brunch, prepare before hand. Collingswood is a dry town, so you need to bring your own booze. This can save you some big bucks on the overall menu. Most places in the town are prepared to make cocktails for you if you bring your own drinks. They have a bloody mary that was to die for. I loved it so much that I had to make my own at home. The only downside is that there is a lot spices in there and the drink is really thick. I didn’t know at the time that worcestershire sauce is used in bloody marys, so if you are interested, make sure you ask. You can buy it by the glass or pitcher. If the bloody marys do use worcestershire sauce, you can get orange and mango juice that you can mix with some vegan champagne.

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What I really like about IndeBlue is that all their vegan options are labeled easily along with gluten free options. Some of them overlap. They even list things that are easily made vegan so you can just state “make it vegan” when ordering, you know instead of saying “instead of no cheese and mayo can I….” Once you look at the menu you then realise you have tons of options to pick from. I know Jon and I had a hard time picking what we wanted when we got there.

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I got the chole bhature made vegan, pictured above. I was so hungry that I didn’t ask what made it non-vegan. The end results was super yummy, but very spicy. There is a big puffy piece of bread that I spooned the chickpeas onto. The chickpeas were in a curry sauce made from tomatoes and a pomegranate juice, balancing the spicy, sweet, and sour flavors into a delicious brunch. This was super filling, and I actually took some home to eat later.

My husband got the uttapam, pictured below. Uttapam is a lentil pancake, that comes with two different chutneys to dip into. My husband loved the savory pancakes, and appreciated having some protein in a normally carb heavy breakfast food. in fact he was a little too stuffed by the end of the brunch.

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One thing I can say is that the menu can vary greatly between the Philadelphia location and the Collingswood location. A lot of restaurants do this because the cities have different markets, and it also keeps things a little interesting between the two places. It does also appear that the Philadelphia location does have a liquor license so they have a few cocktails to choose from. If you go during dinner time there is an entire section of vegetarian dishes, make it easier to select your main dish. But if you go during lunch your vegans options are very limited unfortunately.

Personally I love the idea of an indian brunch. I am not a big brunch fan, and usually favor more lunch like options. So coming here is a great compromise. And as mentioned, the vegan options make it easy to pick because nothing is more annoying than having to ask the waiter a bucket full of questions.


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Blackbird Pizzeria

507 s 6th St. Philadelphia, PA, 19147
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

Blackbird Pizzeria opened up my last year of college. I vaguely remember spending my last few months of my senior year hearing about an all vegan pizza place. As many vegans may know, people get things confused, maybe they meant all vegetarian or organic. I was in disbelief that there would be a vegan pizza place, especially considering that at the time vegan cheeses were pretty pathetic (and that wasn’t that long ago!) We heard a bunch of people say things like “I THINK it is on 6th between South and Pine….” and I would walk right by the place.

So fast forward to the future, I get my shit together and go full vegan. I heard all my friends who live in New Jersey talk about all the great vegan places in Philly. Clearly I missed my opportunity to try lots of fun new restaurants. But one place that got mentioned often was Blackbird. Then it hit me- it was the pizza place that refused to believe in! In my defense, people were right in which store it was, I was just scared. When I went the first time it all seemed so familiar, walking down 6th street staring at the store front, was it even open? Apparently. And it still is.

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Today Blackbird Pizzeria is an important part of Philadelphia’s vegan scene. The place is always busy, and has no frills. The place really punk, and my husband and I joked that it was filled with some stereotypical punks, vegans, and hipsters. But their customer base is really diverse with a large range of people coming in. Our most recent visit included a woman who came in with her 12 month (or less) baby, several single guys, a young couple, and large group of two families. The owner encouraged some of his workers to make vegan donuts, and started a business named Dottie’s Donuts who started by distributing donuts throughout Philly. They are now going to open a shop in West Philly, which I will be sure to review when it opens up. But for now I wrote what I thought of the donuts in my review of Grindcore House.

So what should you expect when you come? Well there is take out and tables to sit at. There isn’t anything glamorous about their set up. There is one bathroom, the sink is outside of it (which is brilliant!), you can even see how they set up their soda machine. The goal of the restaurant is just to provide awesome food, not create a specific atmosphere. It is an order and sit sort of place. They will bring your food out once you order, and usually as the food is ready so don’t be surprised if you get your single pizza slices before your wings.

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So what is available? They basically have pizzas, calzones, a few pan pizzas, hot sandwiches, a few cold wraps, salads, and seitan wings. They do have some sweet sold in the store and are kind-of done at random and on a first come, first served basis. You can pre-order desserts online. One of their popular desserts is the compost cup, where it looks like a plant is growing a cup full of dirt. I assume it is made with ground up oreos. I regrettably should of gotten on for the review. The soda selection is from Maine Root Sodas, they are all pure cane sugar based, fair trade, and made in the USA.

Before I talk about the specific foods, keep in mind restaurants change their menus all the time- at least good ones. “Really?” you might think, but it is true. It is a sign that owners are willing to improve recipes, and adapt to any changes in the public tastes. So if I post saying there is a certain type of pizza and it isn’t there when you go a year from now, don’t be too surprised. I know from reading old reviews of Blackbird there was a portobello mushroom melt, and it is nowhere to be found on their current menu.

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Since I knew I would be making a review of Blackbird I figured it was time to try something other than the pizza. I see that Blackbird always tries to win best veggie cheesesteak in Philly, in fact they won in 2014. Apparently they changed their recipe since that victory, but it still rocks. I never gotten a “real” cheesesteak before since I was never an all meat sandwich type of girl, but this is one you shouldn’t miss. The sandwich features seitan that was made on location and thinly sliced just like a traditional cheesesteak. There is a yummy cheesey sauce with some grilled veggies in a crispy grilled roll. It is heaven. I think next time we go my husband might want to get this sandwich instead.

Other hot sandwiches? There is a chicken parm, a fried chicken sandwich, and a cubano made with tofu. They have two cold wraps if that is more your style, but truthfully you can a vegan wrap almost anywhere. Can you get a hot crunchy vegan sandwich anywhere else? Not as common.

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If you are the sides type of person you have a few options. You have some non-traditional healthier vegan ones like a side of sauted kale, side salad, and chickpea salad. But you if you want traditional pizza food you can get some french fries, cheese fries, or seitan wings. The wings are super noteworthy because they are just amazing. There three different sauces to choose from- smoked habanero, root beer BBQ, or spicy sweet. I assume the smoked habanero is closest to a buffalo styled wing, but I like how they have other options to pick for people who are a little more heat sensitive.

Now I’ve had vegan wings from Good Karma, and yes they were tasty, but nothing compared to these. If you don’t believe me, they were ranked as top 10 wings in the United States by PETA. They were even trying wings from non-vegan restaurants. Blackbird takes their homemade seitan and makes them have enough surface area to get a nice crispy outside. When eating them you get the same crispy and meaty variety that you would get with real wings. We were feeling a little crazy and tried their root beer BBQ and it was fantastic. I’ve always wanted to try that southern sort of BBQ that uses soda to sweeten the sauce, and I wouldn’t surprised if they got really close to that.

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So now let’s talk pizza! This is what Jon and I normally get after walking 5+ miles to the art museum and back. These are honestly my favorite pizzas in Philadelphia, vegan or otherwise. I remember really missing pizza during my college days and part of the problem was that I didn’t order out often and I had high standards to live up to. The dough at Blackbird is crisp on the bottom and chewy in all the right ways. Not too much daiya (which I find most pizza places sprinkle WAY too much on) and excellent toppings. These are the various pizza’s I’ve tried, and I have yet to be disappointed.

  • Balboa PizzaRoasted cherry tomato, seitan sausage, baby arugula, pumpkin seed pesto, tofu ricotta, chili flakes, olive oil
    This one is my personal favorite. It is more like an artisan pizza with the arugula, ricotta, and cherry tomatoes. It all works perfectly with each other.
  • Brunchbird PizzaTofu scramble, crispy coconut bacon, sauteed spinach, garlic butter, daiya cheese
    This is the pizza that gave me the idea to put tofurky deli slices on pizza. This is a joy to eat, and you can order this any time of the week or day (I’ve heard some places make them weekend exclusive)
  • Haymaker PizzaSeitan sausage, red onions, garlic butter, tomato sauce, daiya cheese, fresh oregano
    This is the pizza pictured above. My husband loves the seitan sausages. This is a great pizza for anyone who use to love a typical meat lovers pizza.
  • Funghi PizzaAssorted exotic mushrooms, fresh thyme, truffle oil, garlic butter, mozzarella style daiya cheese
    I love mushrooms, so I really like this pizza. So creamy and the mushrooms were tender. I particularly like how they switch up the mushroom selection and don’t use canned mushroom. Yuck.
  • Marinara Pan PizzaTomato sauce, roasted cherry tomato, fresh oregano, sliced garlic, olive oil
    I still have a soft spot for a tomato pie. Apparently it is a New Jersey speciality, and I’ve grown to like it since I can’t do the whole cheese thing. This definitely will fit that bill if you are craving some good old tomato sauce.
  • Nacho PizzaAvocado, caramelized onions, Jalapeño peppers, tomato sauce, cheddar style daiya cheese
    I am still unsure how I feel about hot avocados. This was really awesome but truthfully I think I would just ask for no avocado, or have it subbed with something else

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Hey guys. Anyone watched and enjoyed the Super Bowl? I enjoyed the game and surprisingly enjoyed the halftime show (that’s is normally really weird, and Coldplay didn’t even have to play Yellow to please me). Oddly I do like Coldplay’s new single Adventure of a Lifetime but the video guys, I just can’t. Is it just me, but is Coldplay SOO positive and upbeat that it makes you go crazy? I personally like my music to be angsty and full of deep political messages… okay not all my music. I mean I do love me some Stupid Hoe. But I guess I am getting off topic.

So much has happened this week and I kind-of fell behind on various posts that I wanted to put up this week. Oh well. But I do have a few links to share this week. I hope everyone enjoys it.

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Judge John Hodgman Episode 245: Live at SF Sketchfest 2016

This is one of the funniest episodes of Judge John Jodgeman I’ve heard. It starts with a big bang with a case of a wife asking her husband to get his water collection methods under control. It is full of kombucha and fart jokes. What is there not to love?

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Why Women In China Are Obsessed With This Workout Trend

This is kind-of just a fluff piece, but it is nice to see changing attitudes in fitness in Asia. I love Asian culture and you might notice most women are stick thin compared to some of the Western female counterparts. Getting shape in some Asian countries involve pretty much starving yourself. Nope, not sugar coating it either. So hearing that some women are opting to go to the gym and focus on strength is probably a good thing, even if most of these ladies are trying to loose weight in the end.

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How This Black Woman Made Room for Herself in The World of Comics

I’ve heard some things about this coffee shop in other news articles, but I find this really cool. There are so many things I am digging about this location, the diversity, females, and this cool new movement in Philadelphia of pairing a coffee shop with another store idea. There is this location and cinemug, that is a video rental and coffee shop. Maybe Alexa and I will stop here tomorrow?

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The End of the Calorie

I’ve listened to GastroPod before, and they provide awesome podcasts about science and food. This one tackles the topic of calories. It is fun to hear about what they are, and the pitfalls of calorie counting. Some information I knew about in the past, but others were fairly new to me. It is great listen for anyone who has struggled with dieting, or want some more scientific backup about why counting calories is a load of shit.

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My LA Food Diary

My sister emailed me this wonderful article about daily meal plan of the owner of Moon Juice. Oh boy was that article a load of shit. You know, the kind of crap that makes you remember why people don’t want to try my maca milkshake. The whole article is pretty much a promo for overpriced sprouted rice protein powder from the company, so there’s been a lot of articles bashing it. This one is clearly the best one.


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Vegan Mofo is asking for us to share our regional dishes. Many people in the US will say this is a little bit of a tricky one. Yes, we do have foods we are proud of and only found in certain parts of the US, BUT we are a melting pot here. I think it becomes most obvious in places like New Jersey, where we are sandwiched between two major cities. It isn’t that we don’t have local foods, but it more like people say it is a “Philadelphia” food or a “New York City” kind-of food. It is more obvious to me, since I have went from North Jersey to South Jersey, and can see all the local foods get snatched by the cities.

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One very regional food is the Irish Potato. One might think two things- one that the food is really Irish and two that the food would have potatoes. I am not sure how this weirdo dish came to be, but it has no potatoes, and no Irish roots. The food gets it’s name because they resemble a small potato. And although they don’t have Irish roots, they are a seasonal treat with the Saint Patricks Day holiday.

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And if you are sitting here thinking “I’m from New Jersey and I’ve never heard of an Irish Potato!” then I am going to guess you are from Central/North Jersey. I never heard of these guys until I moved to Philadelphia. My roommates (one from Northeast Philly, the other from South Jersey) thought I was crazy that I never heard of these things. One told the story about how for class their assignment was to make a food from their heritage. So Italian kids made lasagna, German kids schnitzels, and Irish kids would make Irish potatoes. As laughable it maybe for a kid to mistake “American” food with “Irish” food they are a great food to make with kids. They are super sweet and super easy to make. You just need an electric mixer, or a really good potato masher.

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So what is an Irish potato made of? Well, they are like small candies on par with a fudge. They are pretty much just butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and coconut rolled with a cinnamon coating. As my roommate described it “They should be really disgusting, but you can’t stop eating them.” Oh I think I should note that most people use Crisco over butter in the recipe!

But I couldn’t just leave it be simple. I took another region dessert from the United States and mixed it. Needhams. These are a Maine treat that use potatoes, powder sugar, butter, and coconut flakes, that is covered in chocolate. The snack uses potatoes to balance all that sugar and fat, which is probably what Irish Potatoes need.

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I made the batch and sent to my husband’s work, putting it to the true locals test. Turned out that everyone loved it, and couldn’t taste the “vegan” parts of it. Plus most people liked how the potatoes cooled out the sweet parts.

I technically made this recipe almost 2 years ago before I “opened” the blog up. But I thought I should update the photos. I only had two pictures, and I remember taking it with a very-old not-so-hot camera. These are such a local food, that I think they need to be shared around more often.

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Sweet Freedom

1424 South Street Philadelphia, PA 19146
577 haddon Avenue Collingswood, NJ 08108
1039 W. Lancaster Ave Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
website | facebook | instagram | pinterest | twitter

I first came to Sweet Freedom because I friend told me about a vegan bakery in Philadelphia. I went in and got a root beer float cupcake and a oatmeal cookie sandwich. My husband and I scarfed down our snacks and as we left I saw a big “yes, all food is gluten-free.” I had no clue at the time! I shouldn’t of been so surprised that the food was going to be so delicious. I knew before hand that they were on the show Cupcake Wars (season 2 episode 8). In fact Sweet Freedom is the most dietary friendly bakery I’ve ever seem. It is soy-free, corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, peanut-free, and gluten-free.

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I think I would be lying if all the desserts were totally undetectable of being so allergy friendly. Some foods work better than others, and some are kind-of awesome as their own product. For example their “cake balls” are my favorite. They go by many different names, cake truffles, cake pops, whatever you want. From the non-vegan cake pops I’ve eaten in the past, they weren’t that great, in fact they tasted like undercooked cake in my opinion. But Sweet Freedom’s cake balls aren’t too sweet, and much drier (in a good way). I can safely say that I prefer their cake balls over traditional ones.

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Their biggest selling point is their cupcakes but they dapple in lots of other desserts. They have cobbler bars, cookies, cookie sandwiches, bars, sweet breads, donuts, and even eclairs. All of these desserts can be found at all three of their locations. They started out in Philadelphia, and then expanded into Collingswood New Jersey. At the new location they decided to give juices, smoothies, and ice cream a try. Then they opened another location in Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania where they seem to carry the same things as the Collingswood location.

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So what do I recommend getting? Well, if you want to get a cupcake, I suggest their root beer float. But any of their cupcakes are pretty awesome, though I much prefer their chocolate frosting over their vanilla. I love their facon-bacon topped donuts, and their magic bars. Any of their cake balls are awesome as well.

I would say to skip their juice or smoothie if you go to their Collingswood or Bryn Mawr locations. They have always been hit or miss for me. It isn’t something they make frequently so I found that not all people working there make it with the same consistency. But I do recommend picking up one of their lattes or hot chocolates. They are very rich. I personally ask for half creamer, half coconut milk to make it not too rich.

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And let’s talk about their ice cream! I love this stuff. They don’t serve it as plain ice cream you would scoop into a bowl. They instead make them into ice cream sandwiches and ice cream pops. They are both amazing. They ice cream is fairly light, making a great reward for a hot day. You can focus on the ice cream flavors with the pops, like with their fruit flavors such as peach or strawberry. But their ice cream sandwiches are pretty much to die for. I am unsure how many of their locations offer the ice cream, but I know their Collingswood location does.

Their newest addition to the stores are gluten-free and yeast-free breads. I am not too wild about them, but some loafs would make a great bread option for sandwiches. They also carry some breads that are hard to find vegan versions of like Challah bread. And if you aren’t into the sweets, they usually make a tomato pie once a day that is pretty tasty as well.

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Which location is the best? Well, the Collingswood duh! It has ice cream! Okay, so each place has their own strong points. The Collingswood location is a little nice since it is slower and you can get a little bit more privacy. As mentioned, they have coffee, smoothies, juices, and ice cream. They will also appear at the Collingswood Farmer’s Market. I have sadly not been to the Bryn Mawr location, but from what I understand carried many of the same foods as the Collingswood location.

The Philadelphia location, from what I understand, mostly just does the baked goods. They may offer coffee, and the last time I checked doesn’t do the juice, smoothies, or ice cream. This location is pretty busy and you will probably see a bunch of people coming in and out. There is more seating as this location compared to their Collingswood location.

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Overall I can say this is one of my favorite bakeries. I am aware if I bake a cake at home, it probably will be like more universally accepted as “cake like.” But I am not restricting the type of sugar I use or not excluding gluten. But I think their baked goods are sweet but have something light and addictive about them.

I think overall what I like about their baked goods is that I always feel great afterwards. I never feel “super horrible” after eating a chocolate cake, but I do feel a little sluggish. With Sweet Freedom’s sweets, I barely feel like I ate anything in the same way I feel after eating a piece of fruit. I love buying their agave sodas and a cookie sandwich and sneaking them into the movie theater. Much better than popcorn!

Who would I recommend checking this place out? Health food nuts who want great sweets and people who don’t like things too sweet will love this place! The owner does a great job taking complex flavors from the various flours and making them work with the featured flavor of the dessert. I may love this place, but I know that it isn’t for sugar junkies. If you dream cupcake is light fluffy and half frosting then turn around and bake something at home.


storefront

P.S. & Co

1706 Locust Street Philadelphia, PA 19103
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I’ve heard so many mixed reviews about P.S. & Co. Many people on The PPK Forums have bashed the establishment for being overpriced and having rude cashiers. But the reviews on yelp seemed generally very good (but there were still complaining about an elitist atmosphere.) What should I think?

When I arrived, the place seemed huge. There is seating on the sidewalk, seating in the front where the cashier is. Then you can walk down the hallway to more seating in the back, which seems perfect for larger crowds. Once you are in the back you can see a hidden garden area. Yes, you can sit there. It is beautiful and secluded, though it is connected to an alley so someone might toss something in a dumpster, which happened at one point while I was sitting back there. (Note, it wasn’t a restaurant staffer, just a random person walking their dog)

garden

The person helping me at the counter seemed nice and well education. She seemed to up to date with prices of the food, and reasons why. For example she was explaining why there was a price raise on the smoothies, as certain ingredients were having trouble with farming. She seemed to know regulars and was quick to help get a puppy some water.

sushiwrap

I ordered the avocado nori roll ($6.45) and the salty dog cookie sandwich ($8.00). The wrap was really tasty, but the rice wasn’t quite sticky enough to hold the wrap together. As I was eating it, pieces of rice kept falling out (perhaps they should of had a blend of brown and black rice?). The flavors worked very well with each other. There was some avocado dip off to the side, which helped keep the rice in the wrap.

The cookie was amazing, and super filling. If I knew I probably would of just gotten the cookie as my main lunch. It is, I am faily certain, was a mostly raw cookie-wich. The outside tasted like it was made mostly from peanuts, almond meal, and dates. The filling is a little bit of a mystery to me, but I am guessing it was a caramely date paste with pecans butter.

plant

I know what most of you are thinking- THAT COOKIE IS $8?! Well, I didn’t notice at the time because I probably would of opted for something cheaper like their tiny little macaroons. But this brings a great point. Organic can be cheap, sometimes not so much. And there are reasons why so many places don’t do all organic. Prices on the menu range from reasonable to absurd. No I don’t think the store is jacking up the price, they are pricing according to the cost of food.

So what should you do? I recommend sticking to coffee, tea, and their savory foods. Organic vegetables tend to overall be cheaper than fruits and nuts. I found their nori wrap yummy and comparable to the price of the sushi wraps at whole foods. I would get that wrap again in a heartbeat. Their desserts are on the higher price range, and I have to say that cookie was yummy and probably worth $8 worth of food, it was very filling guys.

seating

So what’s the verdict? It might seem like a hard bullet to swallow for the such a high price for such casual dining, but you aren’t going to save that much more by making the exact same organic meal at home. You are also getting a great environment when you come there to eat. The back has a beautiful garden area, the seating is huge unlike most places in the city.

Yes, the prices might be high sometimes, but you just need to ask how much things are before ordering. I found everything light and refreshing, which is a style I like to eat sometimes. I plan on coming back, and not dine and dash. I plan on sitting down and enjoying myself, because that is the type of place it is. One that is inviting and relaxing. Anyone who claims that the staff is stuck up or elitist have their own problems. I found the place welcoming and comfortable. The food was delicious, I can’t think of many reasons not to come back.

table


15-06-29-01

Shirt: Comme Toi via Modcloth | Skirt: Downeast via Modcloth | Necklace: Similar styles on Modcloth | Shoes: Rocket Dog | Sunglasses: Target

I had some posts started before I fell far behind last week. But I think I should talk a little about my weekend. I don’t talk about “new” things about me as much as I would like on my blog. Lately they have been mostly restaurants, recipes, and educational stuff. I think the fashion posts and the sunday reads posts were spots that I could just talk about what I have been doing everyday. I like more structured posts since it gives me a chance to explore new areas, help people with purchases with reviews, and learn new important things about veganism. 

15-06-29-02

First let me start by pointing out how bad ass I look? My husband is a delicate flower when it comes to photography, he is so worried he will mess it up. I don’t blame him since I have pretty high standards. I complained so much in college that my friends would post every single photo on facebook. It wasn’t like they were posting bad photos of their friend to make them look better, the photos of themselves were equally bad. I finally came to the conclusion that they just had no clue how to photograph people. So when my husband takes a photo of me, he panics. And worst, I want him to take photos of me in PUBLIC- in front of other people!

So while walking around there was a cute government protected historical building, that had it’s gates opened, so I asked if he could snap some photos since it was kind-of out of the way. I posed, he snapped, and he even took some photos of me candidly! Wow! Maybe it is because he is helping with coding of the Free People website that he is getting some fashion blogging tips. I even got some bad ass wind gently blowing my hair. Well, it just means I will probably bother Jon to take more fashion photos when we go out. XD

15-06-29-03

I’ve been into Philadelphia a lot this week. Monday I was antsy and had to get out of the house and went to P.S. & Co to read. Then on Thursday my friend Justine (check out her new youtube vlogs) came to visit from Portland so we went into Philadelphia for the day. She is thinking about moving to Queens or Philadelphia, so I gave her lots of reasons to move closer to me. We ate pizza, got great coffee, and went to Spruce Street Harbor Park where we drank beer and talked with our old school mate.

When the weekend rolled in, my husband was getting antsy in the apartment too, so we thought we could go to Spruce Street Harbor Park too for beer and seeing the tall ships that were there that week. Boy that was a huge bust. There were so many people. We aren’t the type to like crowds. I rather go to beaches during off seasons because the crowds are too much. I remember loving the water parks in Florida during February because it was “too cold” for the locals. So after about 10 minutes we decided to get the fudge out of there. 

We still had fun, we enjoyed walking around town enough. We even got to cross the rainbow crosswalks in the Gayborhood. And we are really excited later this month when the oval opens their pop-up park. It was never as crowded as Spruce Street Harbor Park, and I liked how close it is to the Art Museum. So we will definitely plan a day where we see some art and get some beer outside. 

What have you guys been enjoying this summer? Any good beers or beer gardens I should be checking out?