Firstly, hope everyone is enjoying your holidays and a very Happy 2020 to all!
As you all know all my trips be it small or big is surrounded by nothing but Food, Food and Food 🙂
So we decided to take a short drive with fam to Lancaster, PA just to break from routine. During my drive to PA, I was browsing vegetarian places for food stops as always and to my surprise came across plenty of options. During my stay and later on with numerous conversations with restaurant owners I came to know that a huge population in that area was vegan/ vegetarian.
I decided to pick a few that seemed interesting to me. So here goes :
The first one we tried was on Christmas Day and happened to be the one that was open and was packed.
1) Oka Asian Fusion
Primarily Japanese cuisine, Oka’ s menu was packed with delicious Sushi/ Hand Rolls of various kinds. The interesting part of the menu was a vegetarian section which had a good number of vegetarian choices for sushi rolls.
We decided to try the Avocado Peanut Sushi roll. And trust me guys – I am not a huge fan of sushi at all. This one was delicious and I have to admit that I ordered another plate of it after wiping clean the first plate:))
The menu also offered some fusion dishes like the vegetarian pad thai and spicy basil with tofu that we also tried and was delicious as well.
2) Issei Noodle
A small warm and cozy restaurant which smells delicious as you walk in. Once again, one of popularly recommended places which had plenty vegetarian options since the menu has a vegetarian section.
This place is known for its exceptional Ramen bowls so we ordered
Spicy Tan Tan Ramen :
Although it was not on the vegetarian section of the menu the waitress gave us the option of customizing this dish minus meat and fish sauce and substituting with fried tofu and people when I tell you – how delicious this dish was – I inhaled the dish and it was gone.
So hearty and healthy !
Haru Warm Ramen : was the next dish we ordered which again the waitress offered to substitute the pork and shrimp with tofu and vegetables. This dish was equally delicious.
The kids love curry dishes so they ordered a Red Curry dish with rice which was made mild and was so hearty too.
Last but not the least we ordered dessert which were 3 flavors of house made Mochi – Coconut flavor, Mango and the Red Bean. It melts in your mouth and by far the best Mochi I have had.
This casual urban vegan joint was so refreshing. The owner Rob makes his own Seitan from scratch and food is delicious.
We ordered a butternut squash pizza with caramelized onions , vegan Banh Mi and buffalo cauliflower. I would say each dish tasted so fresh and I understand all the vegetables and mushrooms are sourced locally.
This place has no freezer or uses no microwave so the food is pretty much fresh and made to order.
For dessert we ordered a Vegan orange cake to be honest to which I had very low expectations. How can one be successful baking a cake without eggs, cream and butter ??? But my friends – it simply blew my mind off. The cake was delicious with fresh oranges when you slice through. A place worth visiting and giving a shot for sure.
This global vegetarian Restaurant I cannot emphasize how much I loved visiting.
Owners Puerto Rican Chef Christina Maldonado and Kolkata descent Srirupa Dasgupta create a global vegetarian menu which features a variety of dishes not limited to:
Syrian Rice, Green bean sauté, Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Syrian Kale, Cuban black beans, Yucca, Yellow rice with Pigeon Peas and fried sweet Plantains.
Christina, when I mentioned Love for extreme spice levels got a small container out which had this sauce – made out of ghost peppers, green chili, habanero and star anise. Mind you we had to get 2 more of those small containers and wiped it clean and ordered a TO GO 🙂 – WARNING – It is extremely spicy!!! I grew up eating high level of spice so thoroughly enjoyed it.
Christina and Srirupa are not only extremely talented Chefs as you can tell the food is homely and super flavorful yet healthy and delicious. They are women who also wanted to give back to the community by training refugees and who bought in their household dishes to the table and giving them a new life.
In Bengali language “Upohar ” means a gift.
Upohar is truly such a gift to the community and I say this since I have eaten at so many traditional Indian fare buffet places – this one was truly exceptional and global bringing Cuisines from all over the world to the table and to top it all – VEGETARIAN !!
Last but not the least – ORDER the FLAN people. By far the best FLAN and yes I am not ashamed to say I had Christina pack a second order of flan to take back home along with my container of ghost pepper concoction ( wink wink)!!!
Thank you Christina for the awesome experience. And I look forward to coming back here more…..HIGHLY RECOMMEND !!
Until next time … lots of love and wishing you all a very happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year and most importantly a healthy 2020 !!
It was a while since I made a trip to NY city for brunch relaxing over some cocktails and good food. This time I wanted to look for an all vegetarian restaurant that served no meat and I had plenty choices to pick from. I usually get a list of places when I do my research and narrow it down to the one place that strikes me interesting and I feel the spontaneous urge to try their food.
This time around my eyes caught JaJaJa Plantas Mexicana restaurant located in Lower East Side and Brooklyn. We as a family decided to try the Lower East Side Location. Their website displays “A patchwork of culture, community, and comida threading plant-based eaters to the Mexican palate” every word true to the core.
The venue was very small and packed and when it gets crowded it can take up to 90 minutes of wait time is what I heard. I thought they would take reservations and so called them ahead but was informed that they dont take in any reservations and it was strictly first come first basis. I crossed my fingers hoping there wouldn’t be too much of a wait and decide to make a fun family day trip to JaJaJa !
We arrive and its packed in there and like the others who are waiting in line to give their names for tables we give our names too and request for a table of 4. The hostess informed us that she would take our number and text us and it was a 20 minute wait. She also mentioned that once we receive a text we had to get to the venue by 10 minutes. We decided to wait around as we got hold of a few empty chairs in the waiting area.
We were called in 20 minutes and seated in a nice table. The waiter was awesome and offered the drinks and food menu to us . He also asked us if we had any questions but we already knew what we were getting for drinks- I ordered a Pomegranate Jalapeno drink and hubby ordered a Pineapple y Mezacal both of which were outstanding but I thought the Pomegranate Jalapeno was the winner since we ended up getting 2 of those.
We were so confused what to order as there were plenty of choices to pick from for once:) We decided to order a few different choices from the menu so we can all try and share the plates.
We ordered Verde Enchiladas – green tomato, serrano pepper, palm carnitas, coconut queso, sour cream, Spanish rice.
Maple syrup Kale Pancakes – coconut mango jam and shaved coconut.
Chorizo Burrito – Cauliflower rice, fermented black bean, guacamole, smothered with salsa & sour cream
Buffalo Flower Tacos. I cannot pin point to say I liked one thing over the other. I SIMPLY COULD HAVE LICKED OFF EVERY PLATE:)
Every dish was beyond delicious….
We finally cleansed our palette with Churros with caramel dip and a heavenly Flan which was both gone in no time.
I can swear and I mean it – I swear I can go back to this place again and again to taste the heavenly veganlicious plant based food to JaJaJa……
I give it 5 starts and highly recommend to everyone to go visit.
One of our annual visits to Virginia is with our stay at one of my favorite resorts called Landsdowne resort. One of the most beautiful properties that I have ever stayed at, Landsdowne is kid friendly and my kids always have lot of fun at the swimming pool and making smores. The Spa is awesome, Happy hour at Coton & Rye, these are few out of many things we enjoy during our stay at Landsdowne. Landsdowne Resort is very kid friendly and has a nice indoor heated pool and a hot tub and they have a huge fire pit which is usually used almost every time we go to roast S’mores at night. Kids love roasting S’mores in the cold winter nights and we usually tend to go around Christmas time the resort has a huge Christmas tree that is decorated ever so beautifully and the whole atmosphere is so festive. We also enjoy hot breakfast served at our room every morning which gives us the luxury of sleeping in and what more can you ask for:)
Chef MARCUS REPP is one of the most talented chefs who comes up with these exotic creative dishes for my favorite restaurants within Landsdowne like Coton and Rye, Piedmont’s table and Riverside Hearth. Chef Marcus handpicks fresh vegetables from various local farms and designs exceptional menus for the restaurants within the resort. He is my absolute favorite.
This year, I wanted to venture out a bit and check out a few local restaurants with vegetarian options. So here goes,
A good Indian restaurant with very good ambiance and a bar. I found the food to be good, the reason being I am a person who is not a big fan of Saag Paneer. My husband loves Saag and so we decided to order the dish. I kid you not THE SAAG is out of this world and I literally ended up licking my fingers eating up the Saag from my plate. We ordered North Indian style Paneer which was very good and its not on the menu so you need to ask for it. It had no cream and was made of simple ginger garlic, onion tomato gravy and was simple and delicious.
We ordered some Naan bread and some onion kulcha and this was a slight disappointment for me. I wished for the bread to be crispier and hot when it arrived. But oh well, overall a good experience.
2) CATOCTIN CREEK DISTILLERY:
One of the best part of the trip was a visit to Catoctin Creek Distillery. The guy gave us a brief tour of the process and had a great sense of humor. The tour was enjoyable and informative with lots of chuckles and giggles. For 10$, you can take advantage of the tour as well as order a flight ( which offers 3 different whiskies you can try and taste).
There was a nice and small burger joint down the street and we ordered some fries to go with it and made the experience very enjoyable.
3) BARCELONA RESTON:
Once again, by far a very hip upscale joint with fun music and bar with excellent Spanish tapas food. We ordered a bunch of small plates like Pita with Hummus, Shishito Peppers, Eggplant dish and the best was the Vegetarian Paella.
For dessert, the flan was exceptional and Churros with chocolate dip(not on the menu, you must ask for it) is a Must try.
Loudon County is a beautiful place to pick if you like calm, quiet and a beautiful enjoyable vacation. Even better, stay at Landsdowne Resort and have the best vacation ever in scenic beauty of loudon county!
I have been wanting to start this new category which helps people find some good vegetarian offering restaurants during their travels.
During my recent travel to VA beach, I found 3 gems of restaurants which offered excellent vegetarian choices. Usually I look for more vegetarian choices on the menu, quality of the food, taste and flavor profile of the dishes before I am completely impressed and have to write about the restaurant.
So lets do this:
TUPELO HONEY: Tupelo Honey is one awesome place and the Chef is Eric Gabrynowicz. Chef Eric is a four-time James Beard Award semifinalist, Top Newcomer from Zagat was voted Food and Wine Magazine’s “Peoples Best New Chef- New York.” He brings Tupelo Honey Southern inspired dishes that are simply crafted and made from scratch with responsibly sourced ingredients that bring the best of every season. Dishes we ordered and ate: My pick for cocktail which you can never go wrong is Tupelo Margarita was so smooth and perfect drink for the evening paired with an Appetizer like Blistered Spicy Okra with buttermilk ranch dip. For main course, my favorite pick was the Cauliflower steak with parsnip puree. I have never come across a dish so healthy grease free baked just enough to give the perfect crunch at the same time cooked so well. The icing on the cake was their unique dessert which came in mason jars and my most favorite pick was the Banana bread pudding – hands down! Let me tell you the one thing that blew me away was on the kids menu – there was a veggie burger which was delicious and my daughter wiped her plate clean.( https://tupelohoneycafe.com/location/virginia-beach/)
WHISKEY KITCHEN circa 2014: At Whiskey Kitchen, they have partnered with outstanding local vendors, and hired a team of motivated employees who are all inspired to share our mission of bringing authentic, honest and regional cuisine to their community.My recommendations would be the Strawberry jalapeno cocktail. I love spicy cocktails but this one was so smooth. They use fresh strawberries ( all the fruits and vegetables are from an all natural local sustainable farm) and jalapenos which is de seeded just enough to leave that slight kick of spice at the end of your palette.For Appetizers we ordered Buffalo cauliflower bites which used a WK red sauce. I must say the sauce is a bit tangy so if you like that you must definitely order it. I liked the Jalapeño popper pizza which was different and had just the right amount of spice kick to it. For the mains, we ordered the Beet burger which was delicious and the Fiesta Bowl was out of the world. The corn straws that come with this dish is amazing. (https://www.thewhiskeykitchen.com/)
Masala Bites: Nestled in Red Mill Commons shopping center of Virginia Beach, Masala Bites is rapidly becoming an Indian culinary hotspot. My recommendations here would be Gobi Manchurian for appetizer, couple favorites for the mains- Paneer Makhani, Mewa Malai Kofta and Amchuri Bhindi Masala. Let me tell you guys the bread was simply out of this world – we got the Garlic Naan and the Amritsari Kulcha yummy yum! It is a must try! Its fresh and hot out of the clay oven or tandoor. Simply amazing! (http://www.themasalabites.com/about.html)