31 July 2013

barcelona, spain : mussol.

sooo. the reason we were in barcelona to begin with was because erin was speaking at the offf conference. once her speech was finished, it was time to go out and celebrate!

speech over !
time for celebratory sangria !

so on a recommendation from the conference creative director, we went to mussol for some typical catalán fare. their website says, "at mussol, we want to bring the best of catalán country towns & villages to the city." we couldn't really go our entire trip only eating tapas, so this was the perfect place.

we dined again with our new friends. so my vegetarian copine & i shared a bounty of fresh veggies. here's what i had ...

pan con tomate :
this was the best version i had on my trip ... the bread was extra flaky + crispy. so good.

the next few are a series of beautifully grilled vegetables, prepared over an "oak charcoal" grill. all were equally delicious. so no need to describe the delicate flavor of grilled asparagus or the lovely taste of courgette (see below if you don't know what that means. i didn't.) ... it was all great. you get the gist.

grilled "el prat" artichokes :
prepared w/ rosemary oil.

grilled aubergines :

grilled courgette :
aka zucchini. 
one of the many things my french amie, claire, taught me. 

grilled asparagus :

sundried tomatoes :

olive oil w/ kalamata olives :

this is another place that was just so awesome about the vegan thing. everyone there spoke english -&- knew what a vegan was. when we walked up, i first asked the hostess. she then told our server, who was amazing and explained the preparation of everything perfectly. 

i believe there are a few locations of mussol throughout the city. so i say : if you're looking for a great dinner spot, look no further. mussol it is. 

carrer d'aragó, 261
08007 barcelona, spain

28 July 2013


filini is a little bar + restaurant located in the radisson blu aqua hotel right outside the loop.  

halley, what were you doing over there? isn't that where the finance peoples work? why, yes. yes, it is. right near josh's office, in fact. and when looking for a little spot for end-of-work-week apps & drinks in the land of skyscrapers and hotels, filini is perfect.

filini's mantra : "the best of produce, cooked & served in a way that's relevant to the way we want live our lives now. authentic italian food simply prepared to let the freshest of ingredients sing. food to share. menus that are flexible." well, we vegans like flexibility.

here's what i had ...

marinated tuscan olives :
did you honestly think i could pass this up? olives are my faveee. those big ones there were the best. not that you can really go wrong with a plate of olives.

broccoli rabe :
with peperoncino & garlic. 
perfectly cooked. perfectly garlicky. perfectly spicy. me likey.

roasted beets :
with arugula & balsamic dressing. (goat cheese on the side.)
your basic beet + arugula salad.

i know there are a lot of sex & the city fans out there. so ladies, if you are looking for a bar that looks like somewhere carrie, charlotte, miranda & samantha would sip their cosmos at in the late 90s, filini is your winner.

and for everyone ... for drinks + a few appetizers, you can't go wrong.

221 n. columbus drive
chicago, il 60601

24 July 2013

barcelona, spain : passadís del pep.

toward the end of our trip, erin & i wanted to take our new friends to cal pep for dinner. unfortunately, they only seat parties of two to four at the tapas bar, so our group of six had to go elsewhere. we asked one of the cal pep servers for a recommendation.

his response : passadís del pep, another restaurant by chef pep just down the street.

so off we went, not knowing what to expect at all. but hey, the food at cal pep is awesome, so why wouldn't this one be?

"don't miss the opportunity to try a different kind of cuisine, whose simplicity & good taste are based on fresh, top-quality products. no menu, no rush."

ah, the no menu thing again. let's see how this goes. we sit down and are immediately presented with a glass of sparkling cava. then, the team at passadís del pep basically just starting bringing us food ... all of the meat/cheese/seafood variety. oh, & of course some pan con tomate. 

fortunately, one of our new friends was a lovely vegetarian girl from france. an ally! i've always loved the french. we explained our dietary needs to our server, who was at first surprised : wha, no meat? after the initial shock wore off, him & his team were absolutely freaking amazing.

our first plate was some sautéed mushrooms in garlic & olive oil. pass for me. but the rest of the table enjoyed them. and our server even joked when the meat-eaters had some 'shrooms on their plates : no! these are only for the girls. ha.

here's what else we had ...

grilled vegetable plate :
carrots, potatoes, broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower, tomato, eggplant ...
have you ever seen a more beautiful plate of vegan heaven? all completely fresh, perfectly cooked & just generally amazing.

fresh fruit dessert plate :
kiwi, strawberries, pineapple & honeydew. 
again, so fresh & beautiful. i'm usually a little afraid of honeydew (and cantaloupe for that matter), but this was all just so fab, i had to dig in.

i would highly highly highly recommend passadís del pep to any travelers in barcelona. the meat-eaters loved their food... there was a fantastic wine menu... the staff were awesome... and it really was no rush. we sat around for a while, just eating and drinking.

oh, & the post dessert bonus? shot glasses + three types of alcohol for post dinner chupitos. #win.

passadís del pep
pla de palau, 2
08003 barcelona, spain

21 July 2013


any new, hot bar/restaurant generally means long lines & lots of waiting. which is exactly how our first attempt to visit untitled went. the next time? we were smart & decided to make a reservation (recommended!) for this fab spot ... especially since our night out was in honor of a birthday + mini reunion!

untitled is located right in river north on kinzie. per their website, "craft cocktails, beer, wine & bubbly from around the world complement chef joseph heppe's delicious, yet approachable cuisine. untitled pays homage to the vibrancy of supper club and speakeasy establishments of the prohibition era." dinner & drinks? yes, please!

group shot w/ the girls :
we were in the champagne room. <3 

 birthday girl + me :
+ 2 moscow mules.
just one of the many specialty cocktails offered at untitled.

before getting to untitled, there was some concern among the girls about how many vegan options there would be for me. but it turned out, quite a few... our server, sampson (sp?), was awesome. he brought out a menu that had the dishes that could be prepared vegan clearly marked. great!

since our group mostly shared & the girls are awesome about getting vegan things and/or the non-vegan stuff on the side, i got to try several things.

here's what i had ...
frites :
even though none of the accompanying dipping sauces weren't vegan, the actual frites were great. lightly salted & seasoned.

beet salad :
arugula-hazelnut pesto & grape-must reduction.
i think my favorite dish of the night. the arugula-hazelnut pesto was freaking amazing. and there was plenty of it, which is always appreciated. this salad normally comes with a literally huge hunk of burrata cheese for the non-vegs. 

roasted baby carrots :
 with roasted blueberries & smoked walnuts.
another favorite of the night. we got the vegan version of these (not sure what the other version is like), but everyone at the table enjoyed this.

market vegetable salad :

bliss bourbon vinaigrette.
my main dish. your basic fancy mixed greens salad

sorbet taste :
chocolate, grapefruit & pear infusion. 
the chocolate sorbet was so so so good. best chocolate sorbet i've ever had ... even made my friend & i question whether or not it was vegan. but sampson confirmed, so i've got to believe it's true. delicious!

considering how nervous i was about having enough food to eat (we joked a stop at chipotle might be necessary after dinner), untitled had plenty of really lovely options. that, plus the awesome drinks menu & super fun atmosphere? it's a great spot for a night out.

111 w. kinzie
chicago, il 60654

17 July 2013

barcelona, spain : juicy jones.

ah, vegan eating in spain. it was surprisingly not as difficult as i had imagined. however, that didn't mean i was going to skip the only vegan restaurant in barcelona : juicy jones.

juicy jones is a juice bar & vegan joint. they've got a lot of typical vegan fare (i.e., hummus), but also some more unique items that are not what you get here. and there was no fake meat. (woo!)

here's me! carrot + orange juice.
the dining area is in a psychedelic bomb shelter type area in the back of the restaurant. 

this was erin's first experience at a vegan restaurant. and she (surprisingly!) enjoyed it quite a bit. we shared everything so we (aka, i) could taste as much as possible.

here's what we had ...

tofu tapa :
a few days without any major protein & i'm craving tofu like woah. this hit the spot w/ it's tasty balsamic/asian-inspired sauce. 

olive tapenade tapa :
i wish this had come with pan ... but alas, it did not. it was your basic tapenade of chopped up olives. i combined it with bites of the tofu that didn't have the asian sauce on them. yum.

soba noodle salad :
more tofu deliciousness. erin & i both enjoyed this quite a bit.

daily special thali plate :
everyday, the chef creates a "thali plate" of awesome indian food.
1. each bite of this was super flavorful. (and a great starter for someone who hasn't experienced a lot of vegan food.)
2. i loved the metal military tray keeping everything neat and organized. 
3. i want to eat this every day. 

yeah, we had a weird assortment of plates. but so what!

there are two locations of juicy jones. both of which are located within steps of la boqueria, a crazy/beautiful market & a must stop in this lovely city ... for some fresh juices (of all fruit varieties)! there's also several non-vegan market items, as you can imagine. keep your eyes & nose shut.

ok, come on, people. if you are a vegan visiting barcelona, you obviously have to try the only vegan restaurant. completely different than vegan joints in the u.s. and definitely worth the visit. 

juicy jones
carrer del cardenal casañas, 7
08002 barcelona spain

14 July 2013

ada street.

how does one place manage to be off the beaten path but also a super hot spot at the same time? i don't have an answer for this ... but ada street has done it.

this gem is located on elston in between north & cortland ... in the elston industrial district. have no idea where that is? i wouldn't either, except i drive through it everyday to work. but that's what i'm saying ... off the beaten path, people.

a bit about ada street : "chef zoe schor's blend of classical & contemporary cooking methods are rooted in her experiences working in some of america's most iconic restaurant kitchens ... ada street's menu celebrates the seasons with beautiful ingredients, passion & love." hi. great!

here's what i had ...

marinated olives :
obviously couldn't skip this.

house pickled vegetables :
onions, carrots, cauliflower & beans. 
another one i couldn't pass on. just the right amount of pickling to allow for some crisp-ness.

beet salad :
roasted tomatoes, red & golden beets, green beans, chives, fennel leaves.
love me a good beet salad. all around awesome. i think it was fennel leaves on top, which added the perfect amount of weirdness. oh, and the roasted tomatoes at the bottom were a great addition.

house bruschetta :
roasted tomatoes, fresh fava beans & white bean spread.
anything that involves bread i basically love. this was no exception ... tied for one of my favorite dishes of the night.

grilled eggplant & red onion :
with cracked tremini olives.
eggplant & i have a so-so relationship. but i wanted to give it a try anyway. these were the fattest eggplant slices i have ever seen. at first, i thought they were mushroom caps & about fainted. but that was just me being silly. if you love eggplant, you will definitely love this.

roasted summer squash :
with chilis & mint. 
my other favorite plate of the night. just so incredibly good. summer squash in summer is perfection already ... add some chilis, mint & olive oil and you've got yourself a winner.

like every other restaurant in the entire world at the moment, ada street serves all small plates. but i mean, small plates. i think we had 11 dishes between three girls. this is always fine with me, as i like to try as many items as possible. but something to keep in mind for other diners.

besides the fact that i have been wanting to try ada street for a while, one of mah besties is a server there. (hi, ilana!) ilana is a former-vegan-back-to-vegetarian, so she knows what's up when it comes to what's suitable on the menu.

to sum up.
1. enter ada street.
2. drink many many libations & eat many many small plates.
3. go home happy. 

ada street
1664 n. ada street
chicago, il 60642

10 July 2013

figueres, spain : granada vins.

on our second day in barcelona, erin & i took the renfe train up to figueres, spain to visit the salvador dalí musuem. after wandering around some fabulous art, we were basically starving. so we did a little more wandering until we found somewhere to eat.

we ended up sitting outside at granada vins. (no website for this little joint, so here's the tripadvisor page.)

here's what i had ...
pan con tomate :
bread w/ tomato.
another time. i told you it was a staple. delish. 

pimientos de padrón :
the specialty at granada vins is that everything is prepared on their grills. including these. perfection. 

ensalada :
garden salad w/ mixed greens, onion, tomato, mixed olives & olive oil. 
sooooo tasty. fresh, light & delicious. we had only been in spain for a couple of days at this point, but i was already craving a fresh salad. (8 hours on a plane w/ no vegan food will do that to a girl.) hit the spot.

granada vins was great. and if you happen to be in figueres as a tourist or whatever, it's a great spot to stop! 

granada vins
carrer muralha, 1
17600 figueres, spain

07 July 2013

taverna 750.

i first went to taverna 750 a couple of years ago... before le blog. since then, i've been wanting to go back.

and so on the night that the defense of marriage act was struck down & prop 8 was dismissed, what better place to dine than chicago's boystown? n. halsted st. & w. cornelia ave. to be precise ... at taverna 750.

"taverna 750 is the best of old school italian w/ a contemporary flair. proprietor paul d. cannella is bringing back his grandfather paul j. loverde's & uncle chuckie abruzzini's classic italian recipes from his restaurant on grand avenue in the 50s." sounds ideal.

everything at taverna 750 is small places (of course), so perfect for sharing. my friend & i shared a salad, three side dishes & an entree.

here's what i had ...

beets & strawberries salad :
fresh strawberries, roasted baby beets, basil puree, citrus dressing & baby arugula. 
a perfect, light summer salad. 

spring vegetables :
delish. i had never had purple potatoes or purple cauliflower, so this was très exciting. 

crispy brussels sprouts :
amazing deep fried goodness. i'm not sure there is a better way to prepare brussels sprouts than deep frying. almost makes me want to try to do this myself. almost. 

sautéed squash noodles :
for some reason, my friend & i were expecting spaghetti squash, but instead got squash in the shape of spaghetti. we mixed this with a bit of the spring veggies side ... awesome. 

mixed grains w/ spring vegetables :
quinoa, wheatberries, buckwheat, seasonal vegetables & lemon vinaigrette. 
our favorite plate of the evening. sooo flavorful thanks to some black pepper & one other mystery ingredient we couldn't pinpoint. i'm normally not a fan of quinoa, but this combo of various grains was lovely.

upon first glancing at the taverna 750 menu, i wasn't certain that there would be that much vegan stuff. but there ended up being plenty of options for us. our server called us his "vegan guinea pigs," so it sounds like they don't get many of our kind there.

but that's okay. the food was great & the wine was delicious.

taverna 750
750 w. cornelia avenue
chicago, il 60657

03 July 2013

barcelona, spain : cal pep.

ah, our first stop in barcelona : cal pep.

when erin asked for recommendations, cal pep came up a few times. so we knew we had to try it.

a bit of info about cal pep : "cal pep presents a new way of cooking... our restaurant concept grew from the idea of sharing the dishes, their tastes & flavors, in a tapas-style. cal pep is authentic mediterranean cuisine, reflecting pep's personal style & incorporating seasonal ingredients... all prepared with pep's originality & flair." we <3 you, pep & team! 

we made two trips to cal pep ... the first one - my camera died. but fortunately, the food was so delicious, we wanted to come back anyway.

here's a disclaimer, much like in my posts from mexico. i didn't generally explain that i was "vegan." i did more of a "hi, i don't eat meat, cheese, milk, eggs, etc." type of thing. so when it came to bread? no, i didn't ask. the bread in spain seemed pretty basic. no added extras. when it came to preparation, i asked pretty much everywhere. but as you'll see below - in the case of cal pep, there was a moment of non-vegan, but it was my fault. no worries. in my opinion, you gotta be flexible when traveling.

here's what i had ...

pan con tomate :
bread w/ tomato & olive oil.
fantastic & a major staple for me during this trip. no complaints. you wouldn't think it'd make that big of a difference, but smearing some fresh tomato on a hunk of fresh bread is just so.damn.good.

mixed olives :
interestingly, on our first trip here, we were presented with a different array of olives. both versions were great, but the light green ones here actually had some sort of salty spread inside them. (maybe anchovies, gross.) blah.

pimientos de padrón :
fried padrón peppers.
you'll see a couple of these in my posts from barcelona. here's where the error at cal pep entered. i asked about the cooking oil (100% sunflower, commonly used throughout spain). but i didn't ask about the fryer. and since it's a bar where they cook everything right in front of you, i eventually paid attention enough to see it was not a vegan fryer. sad, but true. the peppers were awesome though. (yes, i still ate them.)

alcachofas fritas :
fried artichokes.
same issue with the fryer. but again, so tasty. these were also coated in some sort of breading (which i did make sure was a-ok).

on our first visit, we also had some amazing sautéed spinach w/ chickpeas & a lovely bottle of vino tinto. overall, a fun place to eat.

*note, there is no menu at cal pep. the servers just get a feel for what you like to eat & bring you stuff. so it's possible there are other potential vegan items here, i just didn't have them! 

cal pep
plaça de les olles, 8
08003 barcelona, spain