Tag Archives: Tour NJ

Jen – When summer starts I am so hopeful! I get so excited about my CSA, I think of all the things I am going to make, jams, pies, tomato sauce, up my veggie intake, it will be awesome. I think about all the ice cream I am going to make and eat. Ooh! And all those fresh herbs and juicy Jersey peaches. I’ll eat it all, nothing will go to waste.

Then when summer wraps up I wanna just curl up in a blanket and get as much Chinese and pizza take out and never cook again. Oh but I CAN’T do that! It is still really hot and I hate the heat, so no blanket curling. Oh and I am only half way through my CSA, until when? WHAT THE FUCK NOVEMBER! I curl up in a ball thinking about how many more Saturdays I have to go the farm and keep cooking. Then I think of the lack of ice cream I’ve eaten or made because the freezer is full of frozen tomato sauce.

Alexa – I can just never think of a favorite “summer” dish other than ice cream, which I loved year-round but there’s just something extra special about it when it’s hot out. I’m always just too hot to really want to eat anything besides a salad … or ice  cream that it never dawned on me that I might have something that I love eating at this time. But I do know that as soon as it gets to be about 60 degrees and up there’s always one thing I yearn for more than anything else in the summer time…ICED COFFEE. It’s something I especially love in late summer because it’s always so gosh-darned hot and I am constantly sweating or craving something light and delightful.

So we turn to coffee. We don’t really drink it that often for the caffeine, just more for the taste (which is nice because Jen doesn’t let herself drink bad mud water like Folgers, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures for Alexa). The bad thing is we end up spending a lot on coffee. Jen likes getting the fancy drinks from Starbuck’s Clover Machine, and she will find herself getting coconut water lattes from Whole Foods. Why the major chains? Unfortunately the coffee scene is a little bleak in South Jersey. It isn’t bad, but not great. Some of it is possibly because Jen is close to Philadelphia, so they get the die hard coffee fans (she had a friend who drove ALL the way into Philly just to go to Ultimo Coffee). But there are a few good places that she’s found near her. Alexa has a coffee maker at home and has bought beans and concentrate from her favorite local spots, but then her family uses all of it and it disappears. So she cries in a corner all alone until she goes out in the morning and grabs herself a cup that she doesn’t have to share.

Grooveground

647 Haddon Ave, Collingswood, NJ 08108
website | facebook | twitter

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Jen – Truth time, I’ve never had their drip coffee and I don’t come here often. I love Grooveground, but they are pretty far away from my work and home (even more reasons why I frequent Starbucks and Whole Foods). It is an interesting coffee shop because the owners really try and do something different. They sell lots of goods by local artists and have a used CD, DVD, and record exchanges going on. In fact, I recently bought a Cat Stevens album there. $4 for a vinyl record? Heck yeah!

They are also have a very vegan friendly menu. They have both almond and soy milk to choose from, and some edibles that are vegan. Okay, so you won’t be getting a cookie from there, but they have some savory options. Like you can get oatmeal or a bagel with PB & J for breakfast. Or for lunch they have a salads that can be modified, a hummus wrap, or (my favorite idea) a hummus panini!

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But it helps that their coffee is good too. Even though I never bought their drip, their espresso drinks are pretty darn good. I usually just get a latté or iced espresso, until I noticed they sell caramelized espresso shots. What is that? It is when the barista puts a layer of sugar in the grinds and then pulls the shot. The sugar instantly melts and infuses with the espresso. It is amazing to drink the shot by itself, but then they decided to make a latté out of it. I TOTALLY recommend getting it with the almond milk. Most of the time I am disappointed by almond milk and coffee in part because most places actually buy unsweetened almond milk, making the drink too bitter. So the mix of unsweetened milk with sugary espresso make the perfectly sweet drink. So go and check that out!

Rook

10 White Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701
Other Locations: Colts Neck, Little Silver, Long Branch, Manalapan
Monmouth Medical, Oakhurst, Wall
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

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Alexa – I think we have mentioned Rook a few times before but we never truly featured it on the blog yet. It is a little hard to since they are super simple. I mean their coffee is fan-fucking-tastic but they pretty much JUST sell coffee. And it’s not a sit-down kind of place. There aren’t many options for food that seem too vegan because most of it is baked goods (definitely not vegan) or granola bars (possibly vegan?), but their coffee is all that you need.

The 'P' definitely stands for Pumpkin!! And the 'AL' is because it's mixed with almond milk. Gotta get that fall freshness going!

The ‘P’ definitely stands for Pumpkin!! And the ‘AL’ is because it’s mixed with almond milk. Gotta get that fall freshness going!

All of Rook’s coffee is fair trade and made in house, and they have distinct flavors that you wouldn’t be able to find at places like Starbucks or Seattle’s Best (which has been purchased by the Starbucks empire). We like it because the flavors are all very different from something you may find in another coffee shop as well. For example Jen loves the Turkish Coffee and hasn’t found a coffee shop yet that has it! Their coffee tastes very earthy or floral compared to a lot of the nuttier flavors out there, not that those are a bad thing! I also love that they have a list at the counter telling you all about the different roasts that they have. The staff are always very friendly and super knowledgable of each distinct coffee and if you’re like me, who frequents your favorite local spots at least 3 times a week, they pretty much know my order by now. Speaking of knowing my order…

Booskerdoo

793 River Road, Fair Haven, NJ 07704
36 Beach Rd #9, Monmouth Beach, NJ 07750
549 State Highway 35 North, Middletown, NJ
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

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Admittedly, Booskerdoo’s bakery in the shop is not vegan friendly, at least not to my knowledge. However, I’m sure if you were to order something from them (they do a lot of special orders all year long, but especially around the holidays) they would probably have no problem in making something vegan for you. The coffee is delicious and they definitely have something that Rook doesn’t – and that is a much wider variety of lattés and teas to choose from. They have almond and soy milk at the ready and don’t mind altering a recipe if you need. The staff in there is amazing, much like Rook, but I feel a bit closer to them as they shop is down the street from where I work. They also have really great and flavorful fair trade coffee that they blend in their original location and sell in each store, and their drip coffee is pretty fantastic as well. I can’t even say if I have a favorite currently…everything is just really good. I would highly recommend stopping by if you’re a coffee shop connoisseur! You won’t regret it. 

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I was told that there is now a Lil' Bub app available for the iPhone...so guess what I have now!?

I was told that there is now a Lil’ Bub app available for the iPhone…so guess what I have now!?

A few weeks ago my friends Keith and Jenine along with Ian and I went on a little day trip. I’ve recently gotten a new phone with a much better camera and couldn’t wait to start taking some photos to share on the blog.

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We started our trip by going to one of my new favorite breakfast spots called Meemom’s in Wall, NJ. I had originally stumbled upon the restaurant on instagram only to soon find out it’s only about a 15 minute drive from Keith and Jenine’s house. They are well known for their copious french toast options, but they have a very diverse menu and even offer options on the healthier side. I’ve been there a second time now since we went this weekend, and I can definitely say that I’ll be going back again, but maybe to try some of their other delicious dishes. They do offer a few vegan options (you could grab the Grandma’s Oatmeal, Fruitini, and Fresh Fruit Salsa from the snack cabinet part of the menu. You could also get a side of spuds, toast, or fresh fruit. Salads would include Mom’s Salad, Portobello, and Bleu-Berry sans cheese.), non of which are french toast options but I saw plenty of vegetarian friendly meals on the menu.

This was Ian's breakfast for the morning. I actually have no recollection as to what he got, but dang did it look beautiful.

This was Ian’s breakfast for the morning. I actually have no recollection as to what he got, but dang did it look beautiful.

This "Churro" french toast was divine and is definitely my favorite item that I've tried so far.

This “Churro” french toast was divine and is definitely my favorite item that I’ve tried so far.

*Disclaimer: I've actually been back since we've gone, I just had to bring my sister to this place and I had the "Campfire" french toast. It's S'mores flavored. I loved it.

*Disclaimer: I’ve actually been back since we’ve gone, I just had to bring my sister to this place and I had the “Campfire” french toast. It’s S’mores flavored. I loved it.

After Meemom’s we drove towards our first destination. The original plan for the day had been to visit a bunch of trails spread throughout northern New Jersey and hike to see the waterfalls on each of them. We started with Tillman Ravine which is a part of Stokes State Forest. I had visited Stokes when I was in the 6th grade, it was traditionally a trip that the 6th graders took every year, but I haven’t been back since. The weather was hot, but not too humid, so as far as I was concerned it was perfect hiking weather. Being underneath the shade of the trees and near the flowing water made everything a bit cooler and comfortable.

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Later on we got a bit off course after we noticed we were a bit short on time to get to the next waterfall and trail. We were passing through a small town and Jenine happened to notice it was Millbrook Village, which she’d mentioned she has always wanted to visit. Millbrook is a historic, small town that had been abandoned in the 50’s. There was supposed to be something built in it’s place, but that never went through and now a little bit of history is left behind so people can visit and appreciate if they’re in the area. It’s always interesting to see what things used to look like and imagine the people living there.

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My favorite part of visiting old abandoned places or historical buildings is all of the tools that have been recovered. Especially when they are set up like the tools in one of their barns on the property.

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We stopped at a vintage-type “drive-in” diner called The Chatterbox for lunch. I wanted to take pictures because it was really cute and retro inside, and reminded me of something that Amanda and Katie would be all about, but It was just such a big space and the idea of a bunch of people staring at me with my iPhone taking pictures was the last thing I wanted when I was hungry. Chatterbox was apparently featured on the Food Network for one of their staple sandwiches (definitely not vegan or vegetarian friendly), but I opted for their veggie burger instead. It was pretty good, but the milkshake that Keith and I split was definitely what made the meal.

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Once lunch was finished we stopped at Angry Erik’s Brewing in Lafayette Township. The brewery has only been around for about a year and it resides in a small building off a main drag in town. For being smaller and newer, I enjoyed every single one of the beers we tried.

img_5948The atmosphere inside was relaxed and very welcoming. We have been to a few breweries now as a group, and I know Jen and her husband have been to a few as well, and sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming just to get through the brewery tour (which is mandatory in New Jersey) depending on the size of the company. I would actually hope that Angry Erik’s gets to have a bigger space because that’ll mean they’re doing really well, but I would happily make a journey out that way to have more beer from them. I highly recommend it!


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Espressit

18 Haddon Ave, Haddon Township, NJ 08108
website | facebook

When I first moved to the South Jersey area I remember all my coworkers pushing for me to check out Espressit since they had the best coffee in the area and vegan food. Sadly it was out of the way from where I lived and worked, so when I got there they would sell out of their vegan baked goods. But as the years went by their vegan goods have expanded, and expanded, and expanded! Now I would say this is a must see spot for the vegan community.

This is a coffee shop, so clearly they have vegan options for their drinks. They have vegan smoothies and options of almond or soy milk for lattes. They started offering vegan muffins and vegan snack bars. Their muffins are HUGE! They are a breakfast by themselves, or something to share with a person. There are also vegan cookies, which are also huge, and other seasonal desserts that they rotate.

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Although getting vegan muffins and cookies is pretty cool, I am mostly excited about how they have vegan sandwiches, wraps, and burritos. It use to be a rare occurrence that they would have a sandwich by the time I came in, but I guess the demand has expanded. So there is now several different options to choose from as a vegan. Everything is clearly labeled and easy to figure out what you can eat. I personally love their Indian styled burrito.

It is worth noting that their whole store isn’t vegan or vegetarian. It shouldn’t stop you from popping in and grabbing a bite. Truthfully, they are in a small suburban town where being 100% vegan would probably be hard. But it makes a great spot to meet up with omni friends. You grab a vegan burrito and they can get their chicken wrap.

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Now the menu for vegans have gotten even larger! There is a vegan hot bar! It starts after 4, but I haven’t had the joy of sampling the food. Sadly eating out for dinner during the week isn’t my thing. If their hot food is as good as their burritos and muffins then it will be well worth your time and money. I also point out that I am unsure if they are still doing it- it has been a couple of months since I’ve been there as it is pretty far from my new house.

What really makes Espressit so special is that the owner works hard to be part of the community. There are works of art hanging in the shop that usually rotate every month. There are live performances, movie nights, and more. Whenever I would pop in before work it seemed that there was always people in the area getting together to talk and catch up. This makes the place have such a great vibe, and makes it a great place to meet up and chat with someone (instead of reading a book by yourself). 

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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.


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Flying Fish Brewing Company

900 Kennedy Blvd, Somerdale, NJ 08083
Tours and Tasting Room (Fri-Sun)
Distributed In: AZ, CA, DC, DE, FL, GA, MA, NC, NJ, NV, PA, SC, VA
Vegan Filtering System (note some beers have non-vegan ingredients)
website | facebook | twitter | lewis garcia’s facebook

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I’ve posted about Flying Fish before but it was early on when I kind-of didn’t know what I was doing. Well, I guess I still don’t know what I am doing with this blog, but hey, whatever. I originally went because the Flying Fish Brewery opened up very close to my sister’s house, I mean really close. We could probably walk there, though it would be an icky walk. 

Flying Fish is a small local brewery, which is continually growing. It isn’t too widely available outside of New Jersey and the surrounding states. They have wide distribution through the company Total Wine and More, so some west coasters can grab a six pack!

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There are two major reasons why I love Flying Fish. One is the Jersey pride, some of which are very personal. The brewery is near my sister’s house in Vorhees. The owner called Haddonfield (almost my town, I’m right next to it by a couple blocks) hypocritical with their dry town rules. But also their beers are named after exits in New Jersey. You may of heard the joke that people from New Jersey ask which exit they are off of from the New Jersey Turnpike and it is fairly true. The exit series beers tend to pay homage to certain areas in New Jersey, “Exit 1″ has oysters, “Exit 3” has blueberries, etc.

And in case you are wondering…. exit 4 is probably closest to where we live, though we never take it because we try and save money by staying OFF the turnpike. “Exit 4” is the American Trippel in honor of the exit being near the brewery, one of the first craft breweries in South Jersey. But we actually get off normally on exit 7A, on 195 and then connect to 295 but there isn’t any exit 7 brews… yet.

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The other reason why I love Flying Fish is how it is set up. Currently they are offering tours every hour, but due to laws they have a short movie going over how they brew beer. The video is set up on a wall in the main hall so that if you miss a tour you can still do a sampling after watching it (and thus, getting your beer faster.) I can complain about this law, it really is pointless, especially if you like going to lots of breweries and know most of the brewing process, but I’ll leave it at that. Once you watch the video you can get beer. 

You can get a flight to keep with the tradition of trying a little bit of everything when visiting a brewery (pictured above). They let you pick whichever beers you want, and it only costs $6. But the way they set the place up, it is pretty much just a beer shop. They will fill growlers and half-kegs, which are ideal for parties or large get togethers.  I know my sister visits often to fill up growlers when the family gets together. 

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If you want to take it easy you can grab a glass for $4.50. They’ve pretty much designed the place to be like a cheap bar, which I am pretty cool with. The inside is spacious, doors are wide open, and there is even seating outside. When we came there was a food truck parked in front of the place, and it seems like this is a common thing. There are a few other breweries that have adopted this type of “bar” setting of bring your own food such as Village Idiot and Cape May Brewery (which Alexa has been to and really enjoyed!) and I love the idea.

Other cool things about this place? Well, they are pretty sustainable. They have lots of information about everything they do on their website. But some of their features include a rain garden, solar paneling, and using their spent barley as cattle feed. I love it when companies make sure they talk about how they are helping the environment.

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Their most recent addition to the brewery? Lewis Garcia. This little guy has been wondering the brewery, mostly looking for food like every dog that ever existed. He is so cute and seems more happy with the workers of the brewery than the visitors. So don’t get too miffed if he isn’t in love with you when you visit. Sometimes you would see him waiting for workers to come out of the factory to greet them, pictured above. He is also has a facebook account, if you want to see what he has been up to.

One word of caution, don’t take his photo. I snapped a few photos and Lewis started to bark at me, so I clearly stopped. Clearly he doesn’t like the paparazzi… or the sound the shutter. I stopped taking his photo under his requests, but if you NEED to take a picture (just look at that precious face!) I recommend taking his photo with a phone with the sound turned off.

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Alexa’s Favorite:
Exit 3: Blueberry Braggot | Lewis Garcia

Jennifer’s Favorites:
Grand Cru | Hopfish IPA

List of Non-Vegan Brews:
Exit 1 (oysters) | Exit 3 (honey) | Exit 8 (honey)


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Honeygrow

1588 Kings Hwy N, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
More locations in Radmor, Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd, PA
Upcoming Locations: Hoboken NJ, Newark & Wilmington DE
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

Working at a restaurant, I know the frustrations between customer and cashier. There is a lot of space for confusion. Sometimes the person ordering is misinformed, sometimes it is the cashier. You wouldn’t believe how many times people order the wrong thing and blame the cashier, or have the situation totally opposite. Which is why I am totally in love with this new emerging chain named Honeygrow.

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I knew of the name Honeygrow because it was on my list of potential places to check out in Philly. At the time it was a cool idea since my husband was still fairly omnivorous, and I was always seeking very veg-friendly restaurants. But on my way to work I noticed how a local shopping center had totally turned around once Whole Foods opened up. One of the shops was a new branch from Honeygrow. I eagerly watched for the shop to open since it would be a great stop for dinner on late nights. Once the store was opened, I excitedly went in, not know really what it would be like.

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What makes Honeygrow so different is how automated it is. Basically they cut out the cashier, so there is no confusion if I said “egg noodles” or “rice noodles.” And it is pretty easy to navigate, stir-fry, salad or other. Then the menu gives you options all along the way, giving some premade options, or letting you choose veggies, protein, sauce, and noodle. This means that you have full control of your dietary restriction. All items are labeled clearly if they are vegan or gluten-free and there are lots of workers around to help with questions.

What else is really cool is that while waiting I could make out a general system that was going on with the line chefs. It looked like there was one guy who would prep the veggies, then got passed to a person who did the grains, then to someone who did the proteins and frying. This down the line system really makes it fairly fool proof to mess up what you ordered. And since there is such a large volume of custom orders you have less mess-up from habit. For example if you order a veggie burger with no cheese, sometimes you will get it with cheese on top not because the chef is trying to be an asshole. Sometimes it is just one of those things where if you are making 50 veggies burgers in a day, you just get accustomed to adding the cheese. Having a checklist of ingredients instead of set menu items minimizes forming bad habits like that.

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So for the first day I tried to keep it simple. I got my husband and I the vegan set menu item, the red coconut curry. It has tofu, red onion, red bell pepper, carrots, and rice noodles tossed in their red coconut curry. The item is listed as “spicy” but that is deceiving. It has a light kick, so if you like spicy, grab some sriracha. But the dish was delicious, and both my husband and I were wanting more.

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We went back a second time for take out, this time we tried to make custom orders. We stuck to the veggies, tofu, and rice noodles option, but switched around the sauces. I got my husband the sour cherry BBQ, which wasn’t vegan (I think because it has honey, but I forgot to ask a worker) which he said was pretty tasty, but wished it was spicier. I got the sesame garlic topping, which was delicious. It made the dish taste like chinese takeout only not as greasy and with fresher ingredients.

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When Alexa came to visit I knew we had to check the place out in person, see what it would be like to eat there. The second trip I tried their lemon-miso-tahini with rice, which was amazing. The rice is a mix of black and brown rice, which gave a nice chewy texture. I think the rice probably would of paired better with sesame garlic sauce in the end though. Alexa tried out the egg noodles (as a vegetarian friendly option) with the coconut curry and got her seal of approval.

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Pros:

  • Easy to customize orders and hard to mess up. Making it ideal for dietary restrictions.
  • I also find that the wait isn’t very long regardless how busy it is, and probably have to do with their line system. 
  • Ingredients are super fresh, so fresh you can taste it
  • Everything is pretty much well cooked, tofu firm, spinach not over cooked etc.
  • Multiple locations, so you have more chances to give the place a try
  • The Kitchen is peanut free, making it great for people with allergies.

Cons:

  • It is always busy. I mean ALWAYS. I keep trying to come during off hours and they are still packed.
  • Seating is alright, since it is so busy you might find yourself eating at the stool and bench, which isn’t very comfy. This complaint may be exclusive the the Cherry Hill location.
  • Cross contamination is a big possibility. It doesn’t seem to be any special woks just for meat, gluten, etc. Some people might be freaked out by this. The company contacted me about cross contamination and wrote this back: “We use a separate wok and equipment for rice noodle requests and the wok is thoroughly cleaned/burned between each stir fry to avoid cross contamination for vegetarians and vegans – we also change gloves when noted vegetarian or vegan. When a guest states that they are gluten free, we make a point to change gloves, aprons, clean and sanitize the ladles, and burn the wok. Lastly, there is a separate wok that is used whenever an allergy is extremely sever and it is needed.”

Pro OR Con: It isn’t vegan exclusive. This can make it great for eating out with stubborn relatives, but stinks that you can’t expose people to delicious vegan options. But because they have so many vegan options means it gives a friendly enviroment for people who are interested in cutting back on animal products. Take what you will from this concept.


I love hiking. As much as I love working up a sweat by running or lifting weights, there is something relaxing about walking for long amounts of time. I personally love hiking up a mountain since you get the visual confirmation of seeing how far you really walked. But there are two problems I face. One is that I live in South Jersey, and it is FLAT. No mountains near by. And to get to the trails in North Jersey it is a 2 hour plus drive.

My second problem is finding information. Hiking maybe free to do, but detailed information that doesn’t involve buying a book can be hard to get. It is definitely a hobby that is mostly written about in books rather than shared freely on the internet. I am not saying the information isn’t there, you just need to search a little. It isn’t as if I could just google “hikes” and common trails are going to come up in google maps in the same way as I could for book stores. Part of the problem are funds for government protected parks. Unless parks are as big as Yellowstone, they tend to have trouble in the publicity department. So I was really happy to find a personal blog called NJ Hiking. They have tons of great trails, and detailed information about them. I would recommend reading the whole description about a hike before a setting out, as I always find it helpful in the end.

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NJ Hiking helped me find out about Wharton State Park. They listed this park as one of their top favorite hikes, and thought it wasn’t too long of a drive. So we went, and found out that the park was quite huge. In fact Wharton State Park is the biggest park in New Jersey, and is pretty much the largest park in the area (around Philadelphia, Delaware.) It provides lots of different activities, like biking, fishing, boating, off roading, and camping. 

Also when we arrived at the park, we became aware that there are lots of different options for hiking. We planed on traveling in a loop, but there was a clearly marked hike from Atsion to Batso, which was only 9 miles one way. So we are hoping to have another trip where we go early in the morning and hike a total of 18 miles in one day. That’s the joy of hiking, you can pretty much do any length as long as you plan ahead.

041915-o

We planned to take the Atsion to Quaker Bridge Loop found on the NJ Hiking website. We arrived at the parking lot and I immediately noticed how organized everything was. There were a few buildings, some were falling down, some were in use. One was an information center, which can help if you have any questions about camping grounds, fishing, etc. There is an outhouse that you use (yey!) and a small box full of trails guides, which you should grab regardless how confident you are about knowing the trail. Once you start down the trail you’ll find more abandoned buildings, a church, and even a graveyard. Eventually the path becomes more forested, and you don’t see any structures that remind you of the human population.

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Wharton State Forest is part of the Pine Barrens, a stretch of land in New Jersey. These forests are still largely rural, probably because the ground is very sandy, making living conditions difficult. Because of the ground there are some unique flora. There are dwarf pine trees, carnivorous plants, and orchids. Aside from the pines, I didn’t get to see any of the pitcher plants or pink lady slippers yet. It is still too cold. And there are naturally the stories about the New Jersey Devil, which are always fun to read about.

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Pros:

  • Although we went during early spring, the walk was beautiful. There many patches of water that are nice to stop the hike to admire. There were also many spots that you could stop to rest or grab a bite. It should be even more interesting in the summer when all the plants are growing.
  • Aside from the plants, the buildings and rails are pretty cool. There are tours of the mansion at the beginning of the trail, but I think you need to plan ahead for that. There are also old train tracks that are being taken over by plants. There is even an old cemetery you can explore as well.
  • The trail is flat and easy. There might be a few trees and logs to walk over, but in general the ground is level. If you are worried about a long walk, you can rest easy that it won’t strenuous.
  • There are lots of options in the park. If you want a challenge, just extend the trail. You can plan for a hike and camping, just hiking, just camping, whatever. Part of the trails we used are actually used to connect one trail to others, making it easy to create your own hike.
  • It’s a long hike. There are lots of little parks closer to where I live, but they only keep us busy for maybe 1 to 2 hours. So it is nice to be able to drive a little out the way and be busy for the whole day, or several more if you are interested in backpacking.

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Cons:

  • Ticks and Mosquitos! I read the warning on NJ Hiking, and thought they might be exaggerating. But when talking to other hikers who’ve been on the trail told me that they consistently find ticks on them from the trail. So spray up with something. Heck, I even got bit by something during the hike, even though it was early spring.
  • Cars and off-roaders have separate trails, but you can see and hear them from time to time. It kind-of sucks, but it makes sense for people who want to camp or kayak. I wouldn’t say it ruined the hike, but is something to be aware of.
  • Speaking of cars, if you taking the loop, it is really hard to see the green trail. The trick is if you cross a bridge, you went too far. My husband and I got confused because the trail can lead to another green car trail… so we spent 3 miles on the wrong trail in sandy road. I could go on a rant, but I will spare you the boring details. Just look carefully for the green trail marker. (Note: We went down the yellow trail, walked down the pink/pastel purple trail then to the green trail, back to the yellow. This is the same direction as on NJ Hiking, but you can reverse it.)

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Helpful Links:

Wharton State Park Official Site: gives information about the historically significant aspects of the park, and gives information about boating, hours, etc.

Batsto Village Home Page: Contains information about Batsto Village if you plan on taking a tour of the historic village.

Atsion to Quaker Bridge Loop: NJ Hiking page for the hike that I talked about in this post. I totally recommend reading the whole walkthrough.

Batso Lake Trail: Another trail in Wharton State Park with details on NJ Hiking.

Apple Pie Hill Trail: This is (according the Wikipedia at least) one of the most popular trails in Wharton State Park. There is a tower you can climb and get a sky view of the park.

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storefront

b.good

500 Rte 73 S, The Promenade at Sagemore, Medford NJ 08053
More locations in MA, NH, CT, ME, NC, and RI
website | facebook | instagram | twitter | youtube

I have an unspoken rule that I try to avoid chains when talking about restaurants on this site. There are many blogs that give vegan ordering hacks at major chains like Chipotle and Panera. But I make excepts for budding businesses, or chains that vary drastically for the menu, like Loving Hut.

The other day I was trying to find a good vegan friendly restaurant near by that would be good for a lunch, maybe a smoothie. And I stumbled on the website for b.good foods. They opened a location in Medford in a shopping plaza known for their higher end shopping, including a Mac store, Anthropology, LLBean, and Pottery Barn Kids.

locations

The chain’s goals are pretty simple- fresh and local foods. It is hard to promise that with a chain, even when it is still fairly small. But they don’t kid around. When entering the store there is a big chalk board with local farmers and bakers that they get their food from. Although it seems like all stores have the same core menu, each location does have some specialized foods. There were even some baked goods to buy from Wild Flour Bakery inside, even with a vegan option.

Although they boast healthy food, I would say it is hit or miss on how healthy your meal can be. There are lots of combo options, which can quickly add up in calories. But if you keep it simple, a burger, salad, or bowl, you are looking for a reasonable meal- ranging on average from 400-600 calories. The lowest calories is in a salad, 284 calories, and the highest calories is in a burger, 710 calories. Neither are vegan so who cares?

cashier

So if the menu isn’t 100% vegan, what can you get? Answer: A Lot.

The menu had cute little v’s written next to vegan items. But realistically, almost anything can be made vegan. Most the salads and the kale and quinoa bowls are vegetarian and have cheese added which can be taken out (lemon-caesar ving, lemon-mint ving, jalapeno ranch, and croutons not vegan though). They have a vegan burger pattie and vegan buns! Again, you might have to ask for some modifications for their specialty burgers, like no cheese or bacon. So you can come into the store craving a light salad, protein packed kale & quinoa bowl, or super filling burger, with options in each category.

Some of the sides are vegan, though these change the most during seasons so always ask if they are vegan. But even in this category you have a lot to choose from, including fries, veggie chips, and some smoothies. I am sure you could request modifications to make a non-vegan smoothies to be vegan as the only non-vegan ingredients are honey and yogurt. There are no soy options for milk shakes though, bummer.

shake

So hows the food? Well I got a acai berry smoothie to drink right away and the spicy avocado and lime kale and quinoa bowl to take home. I wasn’t blown away by acai berry smoothie, but this might just be a reflection of my changing opinions on smoothies. This one wasn’t too sweet which I liked, but was really icy thick. It was so thick that it probably prevented it from blending all the way. Truthfully, I don’t think smoothies are their main focus since most people don’t get smoothies to accompany their meals.

After about an hour of running errands I got home and dug into my bowl. Even sitting around for an hour it still tasted great. Because let’s face it guys, if you are taking out your lunch or dinner, you might not get to it right away. Everything tasted fresh and flavorful, I could tell the corn and green beans weren’t frozen, and cherry tomatoes tasted like they weren’t refrigerated. Just to point out, the spicy avocado and lime kale and quinoa bowl technically isn’t vegan, I asked for it to not come with cheese.

kalequin

I am a little bummed that I didn’t grab a burger during my visit, but before visiting I did my research. The website said that the local bakery they used didn’t make vegan buns for the burgers. Bummed out I emailed the company to share my disappointment. Guess what? After I got home with my food, I got an email back saying they changed the recipe to be vegan awhile ago and never updated the site! How awesome is that? I am not putting it against them that they didn’t update their website since they are trying to keep track of several different locations. It is hard to have each and every ingredient correct for so many different foods with several locations. But one of biggest pet peeves is when restaurants have vegan burgers but no vegan buns. No Zinburger, I don’t want a salad, if I wanted to ’86’ the bun I would of been reading the salad section. End rant. Point is this place has great customer service and has lots of options for vegans.

Overall this is a nice place to dine with a vegan or non-vegan friend. There is something for everyone. And if you aren’t vegan a lot of the salads and kale & quinoa bowls can have chicken added to it for an additional price. There are also lots of sauces and vinaigrettes that are dairy and egg free which is a plus for vegans and allergy sensitive people.


storefront

Mogo

632 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712 (sit down dining)
850 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712 (boardwalk stall)
website | facebook | instagram | twitter | youtube

Simply put, Alexa and I love Mogo. It has built a cult status in New Jersey. People have gone and become hooked instantly. It started out a cool little stand by the Asbury Park Boardwalk. It featured korean fusion tacos, and had a pretty simple menu- beef, pork, chicken, fish, or tofu tacos. They had a little bit of hot sauce and kimchi to put on top. Alexa briefly talks about the stall on her Asbury Fresh post.

Mogo announced that they were opening a storefront so they could expand their menu and offer a place for people to eat. Their storefront opened in December 2013, and I hadn’t been able to check it out until now.

bowl

The restaurant has a casual set-up. It is similar to Panera or Chipotle, order at the counter and pick a table. But unlike those chains, workers BRING your food to your table, so you don’t have to listen for your name. The menu is similar to the original taco stand. You have six types of proteins: beef, chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, and tofu. Then you have four styles of food: taco, burrito, bowl, and salad. That means as a vegan, I have four different options.

They have other main eating options and sides, but most are not vegan. The only other option is the fried rice side and some of the different kimchi pickles. After placing your order, stop by their condiments bar. They have self serve kimchi and gochujang sauce. They have easy to read labels, showing that the nappa cabbage kimchi has fish in it. BUT the cucumber and daikon kimchi are all good to eat.

foodbar

I can say that if you come in saying you are vegan, the staff will happily guide you. I asked if their Hotteok (korean donuts) were made with eggs or milk, they guy immediately said that they weren’t vegan. Which means they get lots of vegans coming in.

I also noticed they streamlined their menu (to avoid vegan confusions maybe?). Their original stall location had many different kimchis, krauts, and dressing to be featured in each protein. I remember mixing and matching them, but looking back, some might not of been vegan. This new menu all the condiments are same in a burrito if you get fish or tofu.

Jen eats the tofu burrito which features fried rice inside

Jen eats the tofu burrito which features fried rice inside

So downside? There really aren’t THAT many options for vegans at Mogo. But then again, it isn’t like going to a restaurant with 30 different options and only one vegan option. It is a place that pretty much has few options and combos are mixed around to make lots of options. Plus as a vegan you are getting something super filling and hearty. Salads? You don’t have to get stuck with it.

Curious about visiting the boardwalk stall for tacos on the beach? Due to space they only serve salads and tacos. They serve all six protein options, the only one that’s vegan is tofu.

What's that Mogo? You love me? Really? I love you too.

What’s that Mogo? You love me? Really? I love you too.


storefront

Good Karma Cafe

17 East Front Street, Red Bank NJ 07701
website | instagram | facebook

I’ve been wanting to check out this Cafe for a few years now, but every time I went to visit Alexa, the store always seemed to be closed. What a bummer! But we kept being persistent and waited till one day we could go and have it still be opened. Alexa has visited this restaurant on several occasions without me and is quick to note that this place is usually very busy. When we went we came during off hours and had the place pretty much to ourselves. 

Bahn Mi Sandwich

Bahn Mi Sandwich

Good Karma serves a completely vegan and partly raw menu. The set up is more for grab and go cuisine, which keeps the price points cheaper for the meal. They divide the menu by snack/apps, salads, sandwich/wraps, entrees, raw foods, kids, smoothie/juices, and desserts. There is a lot to choose from, but some dishes overlap. For example there is a salad and wrap that both use BBQ tempeh. This keeps prep work to a minimum but gives customers lots of options. 

We sadly, didn’t try any of their juices or smoothies but their juicing machine looked impressive and would deliver a great juice. Important? Yes, I’ve been to many restaurants that have juicers that leave pulpy drinks and charge an arm and a leg. In fact I thought their drink prices are fairly priced considering pre-made juice from Starbucks is pretty much the same price.

Barbeque Tempeh Wrap

Barbeque Tempeh Wrap

By the time Alexa and I got in we were pretty hungry, so we got a sandwich and a wrap respectively. Alexa got the Bahn Mi sandwich served with seitan instead of beef, pickled veggies, sprouts, and a delicious jalapeno aioli. This was Alexa’s first Bahn Mi sandwich so she couldn’t compare it to anything, but it was delicious regardless.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: I loved this sandwich. Everything tasted fresh and the sauce on the seitan was delicious. I’m usually more partial to tempeh but this item seemed too good to pass up. I think the only thing I would do next time is maybe request it on a wrap. This may sound sacrilegious but if there is too much bread then I get distracted from the rest of the food. I also have a very small mouth and cannot fit a real bite in…the bread was really good, but I personally would have preferred it to be all wrapped up together. I also loved the use of the sprouts – which may sound odd, but dishes that I usually happen to order have sprouts as a garnish. Let me tell you, those lil’ guys are a really refreshing addition to this item!

My main go-to dish at Good Karma is the Pineapple Mango Tempeh. It tastes great even as a takeout dish (and I would like to mention that I’ve never had a bad take-out experience with Good Karma), which is normally how Mr. Ian and I get food from here in the first place. That dish is a great mix of savory and sweet and includes coconut crusted tempeh in a pile of brown rice with seasonal veggies. The sauce on this dish is a creamy coconut Thai sauce and it’s almost like a curry. I feel bad because I want to try pretty much everything on their menu but this one just keeps reeling me back in! I also think it’s a good jump-start for anyone who hasn’t had vegan food before. 

I got the BBQ Tempeh Wrap, which had tempeh, lettuce, cabbage and carrots wrapped up with BBQ sauce and a chipotle aioli.  This was an amazing wrap full of flavor and a great protein to veggie ratio. The wrap held together while I ate it so no sauce covered my hands.

Both sandwiches came with a side salad where you can pick your dressing. We both picked the carrot ginger dressing. I personally found the dressing tasty but hard to toss in the salad since it was more like a puree. It probably would of been better pre-tossed, though I understand the reasons why they don’t.

rawbrownie

After we ate I picked a dessert to go home with. I picked their raw brownies since I didn’t get a chance to eat any of their raw foods. They were pretty amazing, and well balanced between sweet and bitter chocolate. The brownie also had a nice occasional crunch from the walnuts. It was also nice to bring home a dessert to eat the next day.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: I once brought home a raw macaroon from Good Karma and that was really good as well. I am always interested in trying out their baked goods but am always too full after eating and can’t even think of putting anything else into my tum-tum. While they are not normally my favorite desert I would definitely recommend the macaroons as well.

Overall I have to say that Good Karma is great for no-fuss eating. If I lived in the area I probably would order take out often from the place. The prices though, might seem a little high but are probably average for the area. So keep that in mind if you are visiting from out of state. It is also worth noting that I am pretty sure their prices have changed from the menu listed on the website. There might be a change from the drinks they serve as well.

What should you eat when you go? Well here is the list of favorites from Alexa and Jen

  • Raw Brownies
  • Barbeque Tempeh Wrap
  • Bahn Mi
  • Pineapple Mango Tempeh