Monday, July 14, 2014

Tiabi Coffee & Waffle Bar - Las Vegas, NV

Who doesn't love waffles? If someone tells you they don't, they're fucking lying. Thankfully there's now a spot in Sin City where we plant-based eaters can get our fix hot off the iron. It's called Tiabi Coffee & Waffle Bar and it's the business (to borrow a friend's catchphrase).

While the menu is not full-on vegan, there are enough dairyless options to get the waffle party started. For breakfast, you can ingest a vegan waffle with choice of fruit toppings or opt for the Churronimo (vegan waffle tossed in cinnamon and sugar) or the Viva Las Elvis (vegan waffle topped with bananas, peanut butter, almonds and agave). I dropped in for lunch and ordered the Guru Burger (vegan patty, tomato, arugula and guru sauce on a warm waffle) and an Avocado Dream smoothie (avocado, almond milk, agave, vanilla).

The smoothie was just kind of meh, but the burger tasted great. Not sure what's in that guru sauce, but it's downright addicting. I may never eat a sandwich that isn't served on a waffle ever again! You can add a side of housemade chips if you're feeling extra naughty or order one of Tiabi's additional vegan offerings, such as a vegan salad, specialty coffee drink or a fruit smoothie. I will be back soon to wrap my lips 'round that Churronimo.

Tiabi is located in the Target strip mall on the corner of Flamingo Road and Maryland, not too far from the strip. Definitely don't try walking it in the summer. You'll die in the 111 degree heat and no waffle is worth your life.

Remember, my best advice to vegans planning a Vegas vacation is to rent a car while you're there. Having wheels in Sin City opens up a world of plant-based food options. Trust me, it's worth the extra scratch, and besides, a few decent hands of Blackjack will more than cover the rental cost.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Men's Grooming Box - Vegan Cuts

Listen up, fellas. Grooming just got easier with help from your friends at Vegan Cuts. Introducing the limited-edition Men’s Grooming Box — a full-on arsenal of manscaping products that’ll have you stylin’ and profilin’ at work, at home or at play. Hand-selected by Joshua Katcher, the dashing dude behind The Discerning Brute, this cruelty-free collection launches a four-pronged attack on your face, scalp, pits and pocket. Take a look at what’s inside.

- Bulldog Skincare Face Wash
- Formulary 55 Mr. Mustachio Shave Oil
- The Fanciful Fox Facial Serum
- Schmidt's Cedarwood & Juniper Deodorant 
- Relucir Shampoo
- Stitch and Locke Wallet 
As someone who washes his face on the reg, I’m very particular about my facial soaps. I want one that doesn’t dry out my skin and delivers a thick lather. Bulldog nails it. Made with green tea and essential oils, this stuff blasts your face with antioxidants to leave it feeling so fresh and so clean.

The Relucir shampoo is… well, it’s shampoo. Much like wine, I can’t tell the difference between a good bottle and a lousy one. I do know that Relucir is cruelty-free and made with botanical extracts and other flowery-sounding stuff. Oh, and it doesn't have a fragrancy smell, which I like. That’s all I really need to know. If you’re a shampoo aficionado, give this one a lather.  

The Fanciful Fox Facial Serum packs a punch of vitamins and minerals to help moisturize and soften your mug. I was hesitant to try it at first, because I don’t like feeling oily, but after a few minutes, the serum absorbed and my face felt smooth and pliable. It comes in a 2oz bottle and a dab or two is all it takes. 
Schmidt’s deodorant doesn’t look like deodorant. It comes in a walnut-sized jar like lip balm and is more of a cream than the chalky white clump you’re used to using. With its non-deodorant vibe, it works like a champ despite only having to swipe a streak across your underarm. Best of all, its aluminum-free, smells like the woods and is oddly fun to apply. I will be purchasing more of this for sure.

Here’s the thing with the Mr. Mustachio Shave Oil, straight up, I rarely shave. I prefer the scruffy look, plus I resemble a Simpsons character when my face is shorn, so I haven’t had a chance to use it yet. However, the next time an occasion, such as a business meeting or a wedding, requires pulling out the razor and going to town, Mr. Mustachio has me well prepared.

You might be wise to this Stitch & Locke wallet if you’re a Kickstarter junkie. It’s constructed of denim and cork and is slim enough to slide in your front pant pocket without bulging. (Insert pants bulge joke here). I’ve been using a similar wallet from Fossil for the last few years, but this one has it beat. The notched-out corner makes removing your plastic super easy and the denim pouch is big enough to hold a few hundy (or a three pack of magnums).  

The Men’s Grooming Box from Vegan Cuts makes an excellent gift for you or one of your bros. Remember, gents, this is a limited-edition box, so get ordering. Look and smell your best. The ladies will love it and you’ll be rolling with that GQ swagger.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Green Granary — New Milford, CT

Organic Breakfast Burrito - vegan style
There’s a cozy little joint in the quaint Connecticut town of New Milford where you can start your morning with a green juice, a vegan scramble and a friendly conversation with a local at the next table. If it had lady parts, I'd totally have a crush on it. It’s called the Green Granary and it’s a must stop on your next New England adventure. Owner Sandra Stetson and her staff serve up wicked delicious creations using organic, locally-sourced ingredients, and her passion for the meals she makes is as strong as her commitment to the farm-to-table movement.

I hit up the Granary this past weekend with my folks for breakfast and was simply blown away. First up, the organic breakfast burrito — spinach, caramelized onions and peppers made vegan by subbing marinated tofu, soy sausage and Daiya cheddar. It comes with an organic side salad that pops with fresh fruit and house-made vinaigrette. To drink, I ordered a beet-carrot-celery-apple juice. The Granary offers other vegan breakfast options as well and a nice lunch spread that includes a veggie burger, hummus wrap and vegan soups. Sandra surprised us at the end of breakfast with a sampling of what turned out to be hands down the BEST pumpkin bars I have ever put in my face hole — a killer granola crust with a creamy pumpkiny top. No lie, these are legit amazing.
Best pumpkin bars EVER.

The Green Granary does serve mostly meat and dairy items, so your entire party is covered. However, Sandra let me know she’s about to revamp the menu to create a separate vegan page with additional plant-based options. She also shared news of plans to create a pressed juice bar inside the shop. Until the new menu is up and running though, if you call a day or two in advance, she will do her best to accommodate most of your vegan requests.

In a town with as many Dunkin Donuts as there are people, the Green Granary is a true New Milford treasure. It’s got charm, a very friendly staff, and like many other organic-leaning establishment across the country, stands on the forefront of a major shift in how we eat and how we look at food.  You know pesticides are toxic. You know eating produce that’s been traveling in a refrigerated truck all week from a farm 1,000 miles away contributes to destroying the environment. You know that a whole food breakfast is better for you than one loaded with artificial additives and preservatives. So get your bee-hinds down to  the Green Granary and support a business that is making a difference, where the focus is on quality, farm-fresh meals prepared by caring hands, not a microwave.

The Green Granary
84 Railroad Street
New Milford, CT 06776
(860) 799-7405 

Great vibe. Vegan girl cave?

The right side of the tracks.

Did I mention the awesome baked goods?

Sandra Stetson and me, Andre the giant. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sage Vegan Bistro - Culver City, CA

Sage Vegan Bistro brings the noise with a menu of delicious plant-based items, a rotating selection of craft suds and a welcoming vibe that makes eating vegan both tasty and accessible. I rolled in to the Culver City location for brunch and ordered the BLTA with a side of breakfast potatoes. Guess what? The BLTA is served on a croissant — a croissant, Jerry! And because I'm such a gluttonous pig, I also ordered the gluten-free waffle with REAL maple syrup. To wash it down, I tipped back a pint of Bison chocolate stout, one of over 16 vegan beers on tap. (Sage offers cocktails as well, and every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday. Order a shot of Tequila and get a free taco. What a deal!)

Sage Vegan Bistro is a glimpse into the future, where vegan restaurants are no longer patchouli-smelling dives hidden away in sketchy, hipster neighborhoods, but shimmering storefronts perfectly at home next to a Bed, Bath and Beyond in suburbia. This joint is clean, the staff is friendly and they offer a freezer full of dairy-free delights from Kind Kreme. Sage is an excellent place to take your non-vegan and vegan-curious peeps; they'll surely find something to enjoy. I can't wait to go back and sample the rest of their menu, especially their amazing-looking soft pretzel. Sage has two locations: Culver City and Echo Park. Hit up their website for deets.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Bea Bea's - Burbank, CA

Tucked away inconspicuously at the far end of a strip mall in beautiful Burbank is a breakfast joint flipping some of the flapjackiest flapjacks in town. You may recognize this diner from paparazzi photos in US Magazine with some pop icon or B-list celebrity emerging from its doors with a belly full of batter. Though you're sure to spot a famous face here, the real stars at Bea Bea's are the pancakes.

For non-vegans, the menu is a carnival of decedent delights, such as waffle, pancake, french toast and crepe creations slathered and topped with everything from Oreo cookies and peanut butter to fresh fruit and Nutella. There are so many options on the Bea Bea' menu, you could eat here every day for months and never have the same thing twice. The good news for vegans is that some (not all) of Bea Bea's pancakes can be made egg and dairy free, like my favorite: blueberry buckwheat.

Stacked high, served piping hot and exploding with juicy blueberries, these are the absolute best pancakes I have tasted in LA. Other joints in town tend to get fancy with their vegan pancakes, adding orange zest and walnuts and other stuff that distracts from the simple goodness of the berries and the batter. Bea Bea's gets it right, which is probably why the average wait to get a seat here on the weekends is close to 40 minutes.

If pancakes aren't your thing (what the hell is wrong with you?!), there's another killer vegan meal on the menu: the tofu scramble. Bea Bea's puts a unique spin on it by adding veggie sausage and chorizo to a mix of shredded potatoes, tofu, rice, sweet onion, spinach, basil, tomatoes and avocado. Full disclosure: because I'm such a pig and both of these meals are equally delicious, I order both when I go there. Yes, the portions are huge and yes, I clean both plates completely. Hello, binge-eating disorder.

There are plenty of weekend brunch options in Burbank, but I would highly recommend checking out Bea Bea's. There's something for everyone's diet and the coffee and juice selection is almost as massive as the food menu - which by the way, also offers lunch items like salads, sandwiches and wraps. The joint is clean, the servers are nice and the prices aren't astronomical. The space is rather tight though, so don't be surprised if you're rubbing shoulders with the peeps at the table next to yours. Who knows, those shoulders could belong to a big Hollywood so-and-so.

Bea Bea's Breakfast
353 N. Pass Avenue
Burbank, CA 91505

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Dom DeMarco's - Las Vegas, NV

Spawned from the legendary 
Di Fara Pizzeria in Brooklyn, NY, Dom DeMarco’s — located just a short drive west of the Strip in Summerlin — boasts a stellar reputation among locals as baking some of the tastiest pizzas in Sin City. Even President Barack Obama, who requested a top secret deliver during a recent visit, is a mega fan. The story behind owner Albert Scalleat’s relentless seven-year pursuit to bring the beloved Di Fara pie to Vegas is a testament to its exceptional quality. A few months ago, Dom DeMarco’s upped the ante by introducing vegan and gluten-free options to the menu. I swung by last weekend to sample the new plant-based offerings and to taste for myself what everyone in Vegas is raving about.
The people have spoken
Before we talk pie, let’s talk vibe. The lively atmosphere, friendly staff and tantalizing aroma wafting from the oven sets the tone as you walk through the door. The décor is somehow a perfect mélange of casual pizza pub with a nod toward vintage charm and sophistication. The full bar, with extensive wine list, is a great spot for watching football with your boys or getting cozy with your favorite lady friend. There’s even an outdoor patio for soaking up the desert sun or hosting a large gathering of your bestest besties.
Artichoke on Sicilian deep dish, no cheese
But the real reason to venture off the Strip to Dom DeMarco’s is the food. The ample menu selections combined with the scent of garlic and tomatoes in the air is enough to make your taste buds twerk. Good thing Michelle Cabrera, Director of Operations  and longtime vegetarian, was there to put me at ease. Michelle is very vegan savvy and guided me through my options while emphasizing that Dom’s happily goes to great lengths to accommodate any customer’s dietary needs no matter how strict. After a quick briefing on the menu, I placed my order.
Only the finest ingredients
Here’s the lowdown: Dom DeMarco’s uses straight-up fresh ingredients imported directly from Italy on all its pies, including a hand-crushed San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh basil and Italian extra virgin olive oil. Every measure is taken to replicate Di Fara’s classic recipe, all the way down to a special water filtration system installed by Scalleat to replicate authentic Brooklyn H2O. Vegans can choose from all three styles of crust: New York thin, Sicilian deep-dish (a thick, square crust baked in a cast-iron pan) and a gluten-free crust for those with allergies. Every pizza on the menu can be veganized by substituting Daiya cheese (or no cheese at all), and obviously, by eliminating any meet or dairy cheese toppings. You can pick one of Dom’s signature pies or create your own from a list of toppings. With so many choices, I couldn’t settle on just one. It is Vegas, after all! This town is all about overindulging, right?
My order:
-        White Truffle on NY thin crust 
         (Daiya cheese, mushrooms, chopped garlic, truffle oil)
-        Artichoke on deep dish 
         (no cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, tomato sauce, basil & EVOO)
-        Bella Napoli on NY crust 
         (San Marzano tomatoes, spinach, chopped garlic, EVOO
         w/onions and mushrooms added on and no cheese)
White Truffle NY thin crust, Daiya cheese
Bella Napoli w/onions and mushrooms, no cheese

Chef Ramon be tossin'
Before chowing down, I got to meet the man behind my pizzas, Chef Ramon. This dude is passionate about his pie and aims to please his customers’ palates with each toss of the dough. I left Chef Ramon to his business, and shortly after, my pizzas arrived in succession like the beautiful daughters of a wealthy noble, all clamoring for the attention of the prince.  
I quickly tore in, working clockwise around the table, alternating between all three pizzas. The deep dish Artichoke won me over right away. It’s soft in all the right places and crackles with a gentle crisp on the bottom from where it baked in the pan. The artichokes explode with a tangy zing and the residual olive oil absorbed into the crust gives each square cut a savory, buttery flavor.  A word of warning to the calorie conscious: these pies are heavy on the oil, especially the deep dish. You better hit the gym before tackling one of these sat-fat loaded monsters. By the way, that’s only a HALF order you see in the picture. If vegan deep dish is your jam, Dom’s comes correct.   
The White Truffle with Daiya cheese and the Bella Napoli with the addition of the mushrooms and onions are also very good. The tomato sauce on the Bella has a distinctive flavor that pops with hints of fennel, while the truffle oil and mushrooms on the White Truffle pie give it a delicious earthiness that works well with the melted Daiya. I’m not sure I would call this crust traditional NY thin. The outer ring has a crispy, cracker-like crunch — not soft and resilient like you might expect from a NY slice, but still tasty nonetheless.
I wolfed down three cuts of Sicilian and six cuts of the thin crust like a boss before hitting my pizza wall. I wish I could have stayed and killed all three pies, but the good news is there was plenty left over to help absorb all the Maker’s Mark in my system the following morning — and each pie held up well after sitting in a hotel room over night.
Dom DeMarco’s is definitely worth a visit. There’s something for everyone in your crew, from pizza, pasta and wine to salads, sandwiches and suds. You may find Albert laughing it up with customers, or a local softball team downing a few post-game pints on the patio, or you may even see a parking lot full of ridiculously expensive cars on certain Sundays when one of the big wigs at Tesla Motors stops in for lunch. Dom DeMarco’s hosts a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. and a killer happy hour with 50% of pizzas and beer. Visit Dom DeMarco’s online to view the menu and check out their latest specials. I’ll for sure be back next time I’m in Vegas, and if you decide to swing by too, make sure you give a shout out to The Vegan Man Cave. They’ll hook you up right. 

Dom DeMarco's Pizzeria & Bar
9785 W. Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89117
Chef Ramon and Michelle Cabrera

Full Bar

Enormous Pie Oven

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lust For Leaf Cookbook - Hot Knives

"Sitting limp and milky in a plastic shooter like semen in a used condom, coleslaw is the stuff of crappy diners. Kaleslaw by contrast is the side-dish stud. This salad can go all night."

This is the intro passage to the Kaleslaw recipe in Alex Brown and Evan George's latest cookbook, Lust For Leaf, and it's just one perfectly perverted taste of the irreverent humor, chill vibe and crazy delicious recipes you'll find inside.

The boys of Hot Knives and I are kindred spirits; we like to throw down in the backyard with cold brews, loud music and char-grilled food that smacks you in the face with flavor.  That's what Lust For Leaf is all about; it's the ultimate recipe guide for your next summer bash, weekend kegger or holiday BBQ. With recipes like "Kill Your Idols Cornbread" p. 77, "Hobo Franks & Beans," p. 34 and "Booze Holes" (Gin-drenched donuts balls) p. 103, these gents gotcha covered with everything from salad to dessert.

The book itself reflects the attitude on its pages. It pops with vibrant, glossy color photos and has a layout that's both easy and fun to read. Lust For Leaf is broken down into sections like Taco Zone - everything you need to add authentic south-of-the-border spice to your fiesta,  Bro-tein - manly meat alts like burgers, wieners and Seitan, and Pizza Pool Party - a how-to for making fresh pizza pies on the grill. Plus there are ice cream, pie, tart and pastry recipes in the dessert section that'll have you drooling like a special needs kid.

Not every recipe is straight up Vegan, however a helpful "V" stamp alerts you to which ones are cruelty-free. Alex and Evan created this book specifically with the backyard grill in mind, so many of the recipes encourage you to fire up those mesquite coals. Unfortunately since I'm currently kickin' it in a tiny one-bedroom with no grill, I had try one of the recipes I knew I could make in my kitchen.

Kaleslaw, p. 70, is super simple to prepare and even comes with a music and beer pairing: Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild and "Raw Ramp" by T. Rex. It took me 30 minutes from start to finish and it tuned out great. My favorite part is the slight kick you get thanks to the Louisiana hot sauce and dijon mustard in the dressing mix. The recipe as shown in the book serves 15, so I cut everything in half.

Lust For Leaf is one of those essential vegan cookbooks. You won't find anything necessarily  "healthy" inside, just good old fashion summer comfort food. This is the cookbook for people who know how to have a good time, enjoy getting wasted in the sunshine and crave wicked tasty rations hot off the grill. I'm looking forward to whipping up more recipes from Lust For Leaf, especially the Summer Seitan, Peach Ketchup and Pea Pod Pesto. Step one: get a grill!