29 July 2012

frasca pizzeria & wine bar.

i wasn't lying when i said i have been eating a lot of italian food lately. 

frasca pizzeria & wine bar is a super cute spot in roscoe village. their outdoor seating area is always bustling and it's walking distance from my house. i have passed by it several times, but had never gone. so with a friend coming in town, i thought, "why not?" and off we went. (plus, it's just a few blocks from paciugo. so i knew we could get some vegan gelato after dinner. double.whammy.) 

anyway, we were all surprised by how much we loved frasca. the food was just really good! and who doesn't love a little corner joint that can serve up some deliciousness?

here's what i had ... 

fennel & orange salad :
shaved fennel, pistachios, celery leaf & blood orange vinaigrette.
yum. i love fennel, so this was awesome. super fresh and green (!). 
a perfect starter salad. my only complaint was that it was sooo big! i couldn't finish it (a first). 

shared simple sauteed spinach :
garlic & olive oil.
pretty basic sauteed spinach. but i very much enjoyed it. 
 i put it on top of my pizza. 

shared caponata pizza :
tomato sauce, eggplant, red peppers & artichokes. (half with no goat cheese or mushrooms.)
YUM. i love a thin, crispy crust pizza. so this was perfect.
and it was the perfect size to share. the sauteed spinach on top definitely improved the overall taste. and i would certainly order this one again. 

basically, frasca is just a super cute & super yummy place. they seemed to have a lot of vegan options and were very accommodating. i am so excited that we have a new go-to neighborhood spot for an easy & tasty bite! vegans, check it out.

25 July 2012

new york city : john's of 12th street.

i've said it before and i'll say it again ... italian food is one of the easier foods to make vegan. pasta + olive oil or tomato sauce and you're pretty much good to go.

however, to make the traditional italian plates vegan ... that's a bit trickier. lucky for us (well, everyone who lives in nyc), there's a fantastic restaurant in the east village that does this : john's of 12th street.

john's has been around for a looong time. but in the recent years, they've created an entire vegan menu out of traditionally delicious italian meals ... and they did a really great job.

here's what i had :

vegan garlic bread :
no real difference from non-vegan garlic bread. (vegan butter is amazing.) 
a perfect little order to share. our waiter was awesome and i'm pretty sure he gave us more than intended. yum.

eggplant parmigiana w/ daiya cheese :
i have not had good eggplant parmesan since i became vegan ... josh & i have attempted to make it at home before ... #fail. john's of 12th street = no fail. this was amazing. i'm always a little weary of vegan cheese. but daiya is great so it was okay. phew. if you are at john's of 12th street ... whether or not you are vegan,  you should order this. so so so so good. 

and now ... on to dessert :

blood orange sorbetto :
light & refreshing. what more do you ask for out of sorbet? 

traditional vegan cannoli :
like my fancy instagram pic? 
 i had high hopes for a vegan cannoli. i feel like i am always around people eating them and i never get to. this was here was good, but not great. buuuut, that didn't stop me from inhaling it, as melissa pointed out. 

to sum up -- john's of 12th street is insanely good. it's definitely on the "must eat" list forevermore when in new york city. you should put it on your list, too.

22 July 2012

sushisamba rio.

let's be honest. chicago is chock full of awesome restaurants. and there are quite a few in river north. trendy, hip, cool, fun ... you know what i mean.

sushisamba rio is one of them ... and let's just say, it tries really really hard to be. my friend, blair, put it best : "communal sinks in the bathrooms with a direct view to the rest of the restaurant, what's up with that? don't they know a girl needs to sneak away from a date to touch up her makeup?" see what i mean 

sushisamba features a "unique blend of japanese, brazilian and peruvian cuisine, music and design." and i've been there twice ...

this most recent visit was for a 25th birthday celebration. 
 happy birthday, joelle! 

and while the atmosphere is fun and they did give us a free birthday dessert (see above), it's just not the most amazing places i've ever been to eat. it's just so damn dark in there! (i remember thinking this the last time as well.)

anyway, sushisamba is very vegan friendly. here's what i had ... 

edamame :
organic soybeans, sea salt & lime.
can you mess up edamame? no. a perfect little appetizer. 

shishito :
grilled spicy peppers, sea salt & lemon.
it's no secret that shishito peppers are my favorite. these were fantastic. i could have eaten two plates myself ... but i did share nicely.  

green city samba roll :
sweet corn, green beans, green tosaka & asparagus.
 i addejalapeño for a bit of added spice. delish.
they also put a bit of seaweed salad on top. quite tasty. 

yasai quinoa temaki :
avocado, snow pea shoot, sweet soy. 
(no sweet potato tempura, egg in the batter.)
 i had never had something like this before so i was excited to try it. 
it was wrapped in soy paper and was quite tasty. i added jalapeño to this as well. my only issue was that i just wanted more of it. i think it should come two to an order. doesn't it look so sad sitting there alone on the plate?

so overall, sushisamba is a fun place to try ... vegan options a'plenty.

18 July 2012

new york city : friedman's lunch.

this next stop on the nyc trip took the place of hummus place ... ha. while hummus place does have several locations, none of them happened to be in the areas we wanted to shop. so off the list it went!  

since i've already been to hummus place, i wasn't that upset about skipping it. and i was especially not upset once we decided on friedman's lunch, a little cafe in chelsea marketthis place is pretty cute ... kind of an updated farm style. they also had super cute ketchup jars and the water came out in old wine bottles. definitely something i am going to do at home! 

anyway, here's what i had :


garden vegetable sandwich :
hummus, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber & avocado on grilled sourdough bread. (no sprouts for me.)
got my hummus after all! 
there's an option to add tofu, which i apparently missed, because i certainly would have added it.
not all that much to say about this tasty sandwich. fresh, light, healthy. 
can't really go wrong. also, the pickle was homemade and sooo good. i love when pickles aren't fully pickle-y and still have a cucumber crunch. yum.

don't be confused, friedman's lunch is not only open for lunch ... they do it all : breakfast, brunch, lunch & dinner. so if you happen to be in chelsea, maybe shopping at anthropologie (like us), friedman's lunch is a great place to stop for a delicious, quick bite.

15 July 2012

paciugo.

i love me some italian ice in the summer. josh and i very frequently walk over to anthony's homemade italian ice (coming soon!) and snarf the good stuff. however, my friend recently introduced me to somewhere new ... paciugo.


two words : VEGAN. GELATO.

i have nothing to say besides get your vegan ass there now.
you have three choices : roscoe village, lincoln square, boystown (ish).

i've been to paciugo three times so far this summer. the first time i had amaretto (insanity).

the second time, i had ...
limoncello (fantastic). 

the third time, i had ...
chocolate banana (quoth rachel zoe : "buh.nanas.")

i also finished josh's sorbet ...
wildberry (delish.)
 
but my favorite thing about paciugo, you ask? 
the little spoons! they are exactly what they use to serve gelato in spain & italy.
so fun. love. miss madrid.

so seriously. go to paciugo. a vegan treat that cannot be missed.

11 July 2012

new york city : caffe cielo.

since my friend, melissa, left chicago and moved to nyc almost two years ago (tears), i've heard rave reviews about caffe cielo ... an adorable little restaurant featuring northern italian cuisine, located in new york's theater district / hell's kitchen. (by the way, it's pronounced chello ... i continuously said it wrong the entire trip.) 

here we are! aren't we cute? 
we sat at the bar so we could talk with the cute (lady) bartender.
also, a friend of melissa's.

i've been eating a ton of italian food lately (which you will see more of later, since we went to yet another italian place for dinner the next night) ... and all of it has been so good. 

caffe cielo was no exception. here's what i had :


peperoni arrosto con olive e basilico :
peppers (roasted in house!) with olive oil, olives & basil. 
pepper perfection. i ate the entire plate myself.
it was extra good when i laid the pieces on top of my ...

bruschette al pomodoro e rucola :
toasted bread topped with chopped tomatoes and arugala.
i had a lot of bests while i was in nyc ... and i think it's safe to say this was the best bruschetta i've ever had. and i've had a lot of bruschetta in my life.


rigatoni con broccoli, peperoni e olive.
rigatoni with broccoli, peppers & olives in a white wine sauce.
(prepared with no butter)
okay, so this was my second ever experience with white wine sauce (the first being at spiaggia in chicago) ... YET AGAIN, SO DELICIOUS. i snarfed it up very, very quickly -- in fact, i burnt my tongue. oops.


caffe cielo is the perfect spot if you happen to be seeing a show after dinner like we did ... actually, it's the perfect spot any night of the week.


basically, just check it out.

08 July 2012

tavern on rush.

not going to lie ... i'm not the hugest fan of the viagra triangle. the whole area is just kind of annoying to me.

however, they do have some good eats around there. one of which is tavern on rush. besides the tasty food, it's my understanding that the draw of this place is the fun outdoor seating area. unfortunately, on the day we went ... it was 95+ degrees. not so ideal for eating outside. so in we went ... a bit stuffy and certainly not a tavern per se, but that's okay.

here's what i had :

naked veggie burger :
totally vegan and served with raw vegetables.
best.veggie.burger.ever. seriously so good. 
it came with a whipped avocado spread, which was also amazing.
i couldn't pin point exactly what made it so delicious, but it tasted completely different than any other veggie burger i've ever had.

so vegans, if you're in the gold coast looking for a tasty bite and some summer seating, head to tavern on rush and definitely try the veggie burger.

04 July 2012

new york city : babycakes.

happy 4th of july!! 
so now, my favorite nyc spot ...
 
hands down -- best place for a delicious + sweet vegan treat in new york city : babycakes.

 here's their little mantra :
 in a city dominated by cupcakes overflowing with sugar, flour and buttercream, it's easy for those with delicate tummies to feel left out. babycakes offers all natural, organic and delicious alternatives free from the common allergens : wheat, gluten, dairy, casein and eggs. rest assured, all sweeteners have been heavily researched and used sparingly. white sugar will never be found in our bakery. from low glycemic to minimally processed sweeteners -- there are safe options for all. 

awe.some.
i obviously had to sample many items. here's what i had :

vanilla cupcake :
yum. the frosting was delish. but we couldn't exactly figure out what it tasted like. either way, it was delish.

cinnamon sugar donut hole :
also, amazing. definite carrot undertones. 
(or maybe, just definite carrot tones.)
the carrot flavor surprised me. if it was called a "cinnamon sugar carrot donut hole," i may have enjoyed it more. again, either way, quite tasty.

gluten-free chocolate cupcake topper :

unfortunately, not very tasty. i can appreciate a need for gluten-free.
but this flavor was just not for me.

our next treat, however ... INSANE.
cookie crunch donut :
 i seriously cannot say enough about this delicious little cake. 
oh.em.gee. 
the absolute best vegan dessert i've had ever.
this one had definite lemon undertones. which only made it tastier.
i want another one. right.effing.now.

vegans & non-vegans alike -- haul ass to babycakes now

the aftermath :

01 July 2012

india house.

josh and i love indian food. let me count the reasons why :
     1.  they appreciate and accommodate vegans. hey, a people that worship cows is my kind of people. 
     2. i like to eat with whatever tool i have handy. (get it? hand-y?) indian food encouranges this. 
     3. yum.

my only issue with indian food is that i always want to go into a food coma after eating it. well, that hasn't stopped us lately ... because we've been ordering it all the time.

our favorite delivery place (aka, the only place we've tried) is india house ... it's located downtown, so quite the haul for the grubhub man. here what i had for this most recent, delicious dinner ...

channa masala on a house garden salad :
chick peas cooked in an exotic blend of north indian spices on lettuce, tomato & cucumbers.
my favorite indian dish. i literally get it anytime i eat indian, from whatever restaurant. so spicy (not in the overwhelming hot way. in the extra flavorful way) and delicious. obviously basmati rice is so tasty, but i like to eat my channa masala on veggies to make the meal a bit lighter and (more importantly) save room for the roti bread.

tandoori roti :
 whole wheat bread baked in the clay oven.
 naan has milk in it (or something), but the tandoori roti is vegan. a perfect vessel for scooping up chick peas.

okay, that's enough. india house is awesome. i'm going to go enter into a food coma / take a nap.