Though I've got a full day until the countdown, my Sydney-sider friends will be rocking in the new year in just a few hours, so I thought I'd go ahead and post my look back at the year that was 2009.
Seeing as how we're getting ready to move to the other side of the world (in less than a month!! Holy crap, what am I doing blogging when I should be packing?!?!?) we thought this winter break we'd take a chance to take in the most All-American sight there is: the Grand Canyon.
On Saturday we drove from my parents' house in Henderson about five and a half hours to the South Rim. Along the way we saw the Hoover Dam, a whole lot of mountains, and disappointingly no Elk, despite what roadsigns kept promising us. It really is pretty amazing and breath-taking, though I might have enjoyed it a bit more had I not been so cold and dizzy (I get terrible vertigo). The pictures can't really do it justice -- it's something you have to see for yourself.
By the time we drove another two and a half hours to our hotel in Sedona we were starving. We had planned to eat dinner at D'Lish, a vegan restaurant whose website claimed they were open till 9:00. When we got there at 7:45 they wouldn't serve us and told us that they were closing because it was slow. Hmm... sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was pissed, but luckily Tim had spotted a sign for another vegetarian eatery from the road.
So we turned around and to check out ChocolaTree which was a complete 180: cozy, friendly and inviting. The meals were fairly standard salads, soups and entrees. Tim got a veggie burger and I had a "Fiesta" plate of quinoa, beans, salsa, and tasty guacamole. Everything was super fresh. I liked that many of the dishes had options to be raw or cooked. Something for everyone (if everyone is a hippie). They also had some yummy raw desserts (like this pecan pie) and sold a ton of chocolates. Most are made with honey unfortunately, which seems like such an arbitrary non-vegan ingredient to cling to. But we grabbed a few made from agave.
The next day we decided to give D'Lish another chance. The website said they opened at 10 and we pulled in around 11 only to see the "Closed" sign in their window. Tim walked up to see if we had misread their hours, but it turned out that there were people inside who were marginally nicer and let us in this time. Oddly, they kept the "Closed" sign up the entire time and thus we were the only diners. I think someone needs to help these guys with their marketing.
Anyway, we split an herbed tofu wrap and a tempeh BLT and I was underwhelmed. It's 2009. Not every vegan dish needs to have sprouts on it. When you add an "S" to BLT it becomes a B.S.LT. Ya know what I'm sayin'? But, for a small town, it's hard to complain about having multiple veggie options. Sedona is an adorable mountain town with views to die for, but definitely not for the hippie-fearing. Lots of crystal shops and liberal use of the word "mystic."
We decided to fly out of Phoenix, thinking a bigger city might have better veggie options. We drove two hours to Tempe because I wanted to have dinner at Green, a restaurant I'd heard great things about and had an awesome menu. But alas, they are closed on Sundays. Foiled again!
Instead we ended up going to Blue Nile Cafe, an Ethiopian restaurant with extensive vegan options, clearly marked. In fact, on Sundays they also have a special organic, raw menu. We stuck with splitting a ten dish veggie combo. Lentils, chickpeas and stewed veggie galore. It was a wonderful meal to end our trip. You can see all the photos from my Christmas vacation here.
Just got home last night after a whirlwind holiday trip. I spent several days in Henderson, Nevada (a suburb of Las Vegas) which is the town my parents moved to about five years ago. It's still odd spending Christmas in the desert, especially when I grew up with snowy New York winters, but I suppose considering how my husband got snowed in for days while visiting his friends and family in DC, I'll gladly take a little sunshine.
My parents also went out of their way this year to make it feel homey and welcoming for us by making a vegan Christmas dinner for the whole family for the first time ever. I wish I could take the credit, but it turns out that now that Ellen Degeneres is vegan, and not just their hippie daughter, they're down with it. I made a vegan version of my mom's stuffed shells for Christmas Eve, filled with tofu, spinach, ground walnuts and Daiya, and covered in homemade tomato sauce, basil and even more Daiya goodness. Hooray for the Henderson Whole Foods which, in addition to the locations in Las Vegas, carries the vegan cheese.
My dad made some vegan potato pancakes that were awesome and did not fall apart. I'll have to get him to send me the recipe. For Christmas Day I made an easy little side salad and my Mom made vegan pot pies from scratch, inspired by a recipe they saw on the Ellen Show. For dessert I made this chocolate mousse topped with fresh berries.
And of course, no trip to Las Vegas would be complete without a stop at Ronald's Donuts. Word to the wise though, you best get there early if you want a good selection. They were nearly sold out when we got there at 2:00, but we did walk away with some awesome turnovers. The day after Christmas we embarked on a little roadtrip, which I'll report on next time. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday celebration -- or at least some relaxing downtime!
Posted by Sharon at 8:48 PM
Whew, it was a busy weekend full of awesomeness. We managed to cram in Tim's company holiday party, a trip up to Petaluma to see my brother- and sister-in-law's new house, and of course, the SF Vegan Bake Sale.
I'm still kind of in shock and disbelief that we raised $4200 this time out! Those are going to be some safe bunnies and empowered foodies. Vegansaurus has a great wrap-up as usual and I've got some photos up here. My favorite part of doing these bakesales (and this has happened at least once at all three sales I've worked) is when some random vegan who hadn't heard of us walks up to our table and asks sheepishly, "You guys don't have anything vegan, do you?" And then I get to respond, "Why yes, it's ALL VEGAN! Feast your eyes on our glorious splendor!" (My exact words.) And then their eyes light up and the clouds part and sunshine and rainbows beam down.
Between the joy of these events, the sappiness of the winter holidays, and the fact that I'm soon leaving the city I've loved for the last 4+ years, everything's been feeling rather bittersweet. My baking cohorts will most certainly be missed!
The other thing about this time of year is that you somehow wind up with social obligations every day of the week. So between my day job, baking, moving, travels, holiday events, and shopping, I've been feeling a little scattered. This is my lame way of saying that I'm postponing putting up any of my Veg Table tour guide submissions until after the new year.
Or, hey, let's spin this: I am extending the deadline to submit! I'll be in touch soon with those of you who were diligent enough to send me your submissions in a timely matter. I love reading these! More vegan warm fuzzies!
Like all good Thanksgiving trips, my travels to New York revolved around food, food, and more food. And like all my trips back to New York, I left extremely jealous of how ubiquitous the vegan options are. Beyond the dozens of exclusively vegan restaurants, I couldn't help but marvel that you can walk into any random bagel shop in Brooklyn and find Tofutti cream cheese -- in a variety of flavors! Here are some highlights along the way...