Champs and Vegan Treats

tofu_benedict_champschicken_waffles_vegan_champs There are so many great vegan brunch spots, but Champs holds a special place in my heart. A quick trip to New York over the weekend meant brunch was first on the agenda. While I was tempted to get the monte cristo like last time, I went for something new and tried the tofu benedict. I was not disappointed. The hollandaise sauce was perfect and so was the combo of faux ham and tofu. Shawn got the “chicken” and waffles which were equally as awesome.

pb_tandy_cake-vegan_treats We also made the trek out to Bethlehem to go to Vegan Treats. It’s always worth the trip to get some freshly baked items. I got a peanut butter tandy cake which was ridiculously rich and lovely.

vanilla_custard_soft_serve-vegan_treats 230This was the first trip where we’ve been able to get soft serve. The vanilla custard soft serve was so good. Best soft serve in recent history without a doubt and perfect with the chocolatey peanut buttery cake.

cheesecake_vegan_treatsdonut_pretzel_vegan_treats I’m always impressed with how beautiful all the cakes are at Vegan Treats. I love that there are always new things to try. They now have a lot of gluten free options as well as lots of fun doughnut variations like the donut pretzel above.

I guess it’s a good thing that these places are on the other side of the country so that I can’t eat at either all the time. Then again, that might not be so bad.

NYC Food Favorites

There are some places we have to visit every time we visit New York. Los Angeles has amazing vegan food, but there are some things we don’t have here on the west coast.

For one, we always go to Foodswings for some DISCO FRIES. You know what I’m talking about. Fries + gravy + cheesy sauce. They are so good. While places out here have tried to replicate their deliciousness, none of them measure up.

A new favorite of ours is Champs. We visited there for brunch and oh my god they have vegan monte cristo. A faux ham and cheese sandwich made with french toast. Dream come true.

The thing I miss the most out here is Vegan Treats. Officially the bakery is in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, but it’s available at nearly every veg restaurant in New York. The most decadent cakes and pastries you’ve ever had and the cutest decorations too. Look at those carrot cakes!

No one makes a better donut. You have to know when the deliveries are to get these, they sell out fast.

We also tried Blossom for the first time. These raviolis were amazing. Perhaps I am biased because I love ravioli, but these were by far some of the best.

We stopped by Blossom in a rain storm right before going to see Margaret on one of it’s few theatrical runs. You should definitely see this movie. It’s crazy but really good. I’m really glad we were able to see it in New York too, since it is really about the city in a way.

What are your favorite places to eat in New York? One day I want to go of a dedicated food tour of the city.

Vegan Road Trip: Part 2

Vegan sweets and treats

Though Los Angeles is extremely fortunate to have a number of great vegan restaurants, we are severely lacking in the area of vegan desserts. Though a few places have a few items available, and yeah I know Babycakes is open (but yes I like my gluten and sugar thank you very much), it’s just not the same as what you might find elsewhere. Luckily on our trip we were able to visit two completely vegan bakeries and sample some delicious treats.

Our first stop was Pattycake Bakery in Columbus, Ohio. This adorable storefront was filled with a plethora of home style desserts including cookies, whoopie pies, muffins, cupcakes and more. They have all the stuff you’re always craving. While Shawn and I oogled over the huge selection and tried to decide what to get, the place hustled and bustled with people buying tons of stuff. We ended up getting a whole box ourselves, trying to sample as much as possible, filling it with three different types of cookies, a whoopie pie, and a cupcake. Now I’m a cookie girl and these were some damn good cookies. The whoopie pie was also moist and delicious, wonderfully sweet with just the right amount of creme filling. I wish I had tried one in the other flavors they had to offer. I think if I lived within driving distance of this place I would be there everyday getting cookies. No joke. Everything was high quality without being over the top. Pattycake Bakery was completely delightful.

Also in Columbus, On the Fly, where we got the awesome vegan empanada and chili, had some desserts on display to choose from. Since we knew we were on our way to Pattycake, we didn’t have a chance to try anything, but I have to mention them anyway, because they were so gorgeous. The cupcakes were topped in chocolate ganache as well as vegan buttercream and just looked delightful. They also had jars full of cookies. Did I mention I love cookies? I do.

No trip East would be complete without a stop at the infamous Vegan Treats. While you can get their delicious desserts at almost every vegan and vegetarian restaurant from New York to Pennsylvania, it’s well worth it to make the trip to their storefront in Bethlehem, PA. Here you can get their personal sized french pastries, along with donuts and other specialties. I’m just going to come out and say, if you haven’t had Vegan Treats, you haven’t what is arguably¬† the best of the best when it comes to vegan bakeries. Having been in business for over ten years and catering to so many places on the east, they really know their stuff. Vegan Treats is so delicious and decadent and amazing I just can’t say enough good stuff about it.

While there, we loaded up on desserts, going for anything with a holiday theme, and some donuts. Are they not the cutest desserts ever? We also had to show our love and get some hoodies to take home once the desserts were gobbled up. The new designs they have are possibly as cute as all the desserts. Luckily, now you can get some of their tee-shirts online (go support vegan businesses!).

Unfortunately, since we traveled over the holidays, we were unable to go to a few sweet stops on the way, including Sticky Fingers Bakery in DC or Lula’s Sweet Apothecary in NY. We did get to make up somewhat for the lack of ice cream at Spiral Diner in Dallas, Texas. They had a small case filled with baked goods, including monster vegan peanut butter cups, but we were ultimately lured in to the sweet call of an ice cream sundae. Shawn picked out the Chocolate Mountain Mudslide, a brownie topped with their signature i-scream, chocolate sauce, nuts and whipped cream. I was going to order the Deathstar Sundae, another brownie topped with i-scream, espresso and whipped cream, but Shawn got the last brownie. Unbelievable! I stole a few bites of his as payback but nuts on ice cream freak me out. The i-scream and brownie were awesome though, and much more than you’d expect from a diner of any kind.

Are you overloaded on sweets yet? Don’t worry, we’re done here for now. Next, we’ll be on our way home!

Holidays, NYC and lots of dessert

homemade cinnamon bun

It is the last day of 2008! Had to squeeze in one last delicious post before the new year. I’m excited for all the projects and plans coming up. I know it’s going to be an awesome year.

Before moving forward, I’m going to have to look back for a moment as the past weeks have been terribly busy and I haven’t had a chance to show off some of the treats we’ve been indulging in. I made the above cinnamon bun from The Joy of Vegan Baking. I’ve been dying to make these, but was a bit scared off by the prep time. Since I have had a couple of days off, I finally had a chance to indulge myself. It was extra inspired by smelling the Cinnabon in the airport the day prior. Despite the fact that those things are quite possibly one of the most disgusting creations ever, the sure do smell good.

I ended up over cooking my buns a bit, but I think this may have had a bit to do with using new cookie sheets. They still tasted awesome, and were even better reheated the next morning with coffee.

peppermint cookies and cream cupcake

For my family Christmas party, I opted to bring cupcakes rather than anything to actually eat for dinner. It worked out rather well as a bunch of my cousins happened to make vegan vegetable dishes. I made peppermint cookies and cream cupcakes. The cupcakes themselves came out amazing, perfectly moist and chocolaty. I still can’t decide if I liked the peppermint in the icing though, it was good, but perhaps too much. Maybe not though.

cookies and cream cake

Shawn and I went back East to spend time with his family for the holidays. It was super exciting for me to show up and see snow on the ground.

I feel very lucky to have so many vegan restaurants in Los Angeles to go to, but it’s nothing like going to NYC. There’s just a different style of vegan/vegetarian restaurant there. The other thing that gets me super excited is getting to have some Vegan Treats. Pretty much every vegan restaurant in the area serves their desserts and there is honestly nothing like them. Over the summer, Shawn and I made a pilgrimage to their storefront in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where I was even more blown away by their selection of French pastries.

On one of our days in the city, we had lunch at Curly’s. I had a toastie with tomato, which is basically a vegan grilled cheese with red pesto and of course tomato. It was one of the most satisfying lunches. Simple and tasty and exactly what I wanted. Shawn had the Suno melt. I’ve had vegan tuna melts before, but have never been impressed. I only had a bite, but this was super good. Of course, we had to get some dessert, and I insisted on a cookies and cream cake, freshly delivered from Vegan Treats the previous day. The cake was moist and the frosting light and fluffy. Honestly, exactly how cake should taste, sweet and rewarding.

peanut butter cheesecake 

The night before we left for home we went out to dinner at Caravan of Dreams. We split nachos and muchroom ravioli with an almond cream sauce. The nachos were really good and basic. Tasty but nothing special. The ravioli on the other hand was super good. It was nice to have something different and something unlike anything we usually eat. It was light and subtly flavored. Oddly enough it was served with slices of avocado, which actually complimented the dish really well. My only complaint about the place was that it was very expensive. Not the kind of place that would be worth eating on a regular basis, but ok for a special occasion. On the other hand, it’s the kind of food that makes you feel good after you eat it.
cookies and cream brownie
For dessert we walked down to Atlas Cafe for some more Vegan Treats. Shawn got a slice of peanut butter cheesecake and I had a brownie with cookies and cream frosting. I can’t express how much I really love Vegan Treats and wish that it was also on the West coast. Everything was so good. We saved a bit of our treats and ordered sandwiches which we saved for the plane the next day.

At some point we also made a quick stop at Moo Shoes and Babycakes. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me, but after some more sampling, I’m really not a fan of Babycakes. Their desserts just don’t quite fulfill my sweet tooth. I can’t really pinpoint what it is about them that I don’t care for. The best way I can describe it is that I always feel a level of excitement when I enjoy a really good vegan dessert. Babycakes just doesn’t give me that thrill. I also am not a fan of their prices at all. Some cupcakes cost nearly $5 and that seems outrageous to me.

So that’s about it for 2008. Many exciting things to come in the future. I hope everyone had lovely holidays and Happy New Year!