Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Little Bit Crazy!

Sorry for the long absence! Things have been positively crazy for me lately, and I don't even have the time for a proper post for you today. However, I will share a little bit of photo fun from last night's sugar cookie decorating extravaganza. 

A Rainbow of Frosting!

For those of you who have placed orders recently, thank you so much! It's my first real Holiday Rush. And quite a rush it is! I'll be baking every night this week, and all weekend too. Seriously cool. 

For more information on Augusta Vegan Bakery's holiday offerings, check out my Etsy site. Hope you are all enjoying the holiday season!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Beverly Hills Farmers Market

Though it's really hard to put up with sometimes, L.A. really is a great place to live. We are hugely fortunate for all the wonderful vegan options available to us, as well as an abundance of delicious, local produce. There are loads of farmer's markets around the area to choose from, and most of them operate year-round. Though we normally visit the Hollywood Farmer's Market, a few weekends ago Fiancé and I decided to branch out and visit the Beverly Hills Farmers' Market. It is definitely smaller than the one in Hollywood, but the quality of produce was stellar, and it was way less crowded. Here are some shots from our trip.

A sign leading us in
As you can see, not very crowded, but lots of booths
Capay Organic booth. They offer home delivery as well,
which I'm seriously considering!

Beautiful carrots at the Capay booth

Wheatgrass! We bought two of these. Sooo pretty.

It was snack time, and this hummus was delicious. Great ingredients!

Lemon flavored pita chips. They were fresh and delicious.

The artichoke hummus was amazing, and we ate it all. 

The bounty we brought home: tons of greens, daikon,
carrots, apples, & wheatgrass.

Beautiful golden apples (they tasted great in juice)

Rainbow Chard and Kale

If you live in L.A., or come for a visit, make sure you don't miss out on some of its awesome farmers markets. There is a great list here. You can learn more about the Beverly Hills Farmers' Market by visiting their website. They operate every Sunday, rain or shine, from 9 am - 1 pm. Yummy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Buffet at the Wynn

As odd as it may sound, a large part of my Thanksgiving vacation was spent cavorting around Las Vegas, Nevada. My parents had never before visited, and as they were coming west anyway, we thought this trip might be a good opportunity. Lucky for Fiancé and me, things are now a little bit easier for vegans visiting Vegas. If you haven't heard, Steve Wynn (owner of the Wynn and Encore Hotels) now requires that each and every restaurant in his hotels offers vegan selections. Thanks to a tip from Alix and Shawn, we were all over this awesomeness.

To kick off the vegan fun, we headed to The Buffet and proceeded to stuff ourselves silly. Yay!

The Buffet!

One thing you can say for the place is that they have pretty wacky décor.

The pasta was awesome. They have a chef there to cook it up for you, and
you can add whatever you want! I had mushrooms with vegan pesto. 

Here was my plate of joy. Curried chickpeas, baba ganouj, and
quinoa cakes were among the feast. Yum!

My favorite part may have been that everything was clearly labeled. Wynn Win!

Honestly, we only scratched the surface when it came to vegan food at the Wynn. I hear they have some pretty amazing upscale eats, including a tasting menu at one of the more swanky restaurants. Exciting! I can't wait to go back and stay at the Wynn so we can eat decadently, all the time. I'm going to have to save up for that one, though, 'cause these things don't run cheap. But that's the way all of Vegas is, really, so it's not surprising. Anyway, next time you're in Vegas, stop by the Wynn and speak to the concierge. They'll show you their binder full of vegan options, and you won't be disappointed! It's really quite something.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Roundup

I am a very lucky girl. As many of you probably know, Thanksgiving can be really hard for a vegan who has a non-vegan family. It's tough to sit there and nosh on salad while the rest of the family gobbles up turkey, milky mashed potatoes, and stuffing made with sausage. I've met vegans who just plain hate Thanksgiving for this reason! I think that's sad, but like I said, I'm a very lucky girl. I'm blessed with a really tolerant and understanding immediate family, and a set of soon-to-be-in-laws who downright embrace vegan eating when Fiancé and I are around. This Thanksgiving, my parents came to visit, and joined the huge party that my soon-to-be-in-laws threw. We probably had 40 people there celebrating with us, and everyone had a great time! Fiancé's mom made us a ton of vegan dishes, and veganized a lot of the classics for us (without informing the rest of the group -- no one noticed). We had a huge spread!

Slicing up the Tofurkey

The Spread

Roasted Butternut Squash, Beets, & Onions

 Mushroom Gravy, from Veganomicon

Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Yams

Vegan Stuffing

Steamed Veggies with Vinaigrette
The Tofurkey with fresh sage

We are still working on the leftovers, and let me tell you, it's a treat! Everything was so delicious, and my omnivorous parents even liked the Tofurkey. All in all, a wonderful vegan Thanksgiving success. What did you have for Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sante La Brea

I'm back from the holiday vacation and ready to get myself all caught up! Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Sadly, I will most likely not be able to catch up in full (still have 8 posts to go in order to complete VeganMoFo!), but I'm going to try my darndest. I have a lot of great things from the past few weeks to share with you, so get ready! First up is a little recap of a lunch I enjoyed last week at Sante La Brea.

I discovered Sante La Brea last year after they'd had their Gordon Ramsay reality-show makeover. While I still haven't seen the episode, I understand he gave the place quite a facelift, and helped them to create a new menu. What impresses me most about this place is how many vegan options they offer. Almost anything on the menu can be made vegan, and they have an entirely vegan dessert menu. Yum! I enjoy stopping in here for lunch when I feel like a treat. Also, I feel like it's a little hidden treasure because it's almost never full. You can always get a table, and can make it in and out within an hour for the most part.

Pizza Rustica with Melted Cashew Cheez

Last week, I went in for lunch and ordered the Pizza Rustica with Melted Cashew Cheez. It took a little longer than I'd hoped for them to make it, but once it arrived I was not disappointed. It was packed with toppings and really flavorful. I loved all the basil, olives, and tomato, too. The cashew cheez was good, but not the best I've had; it could have used a little more flavor. All in all, a delicious and filling lunch!

Close-Up: Check out all that Basil!
Next time you're in the area and are looking for something a little different, definitely stop by Sante. I'm certainly planning to visit again soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cupcakes Upon Cupcakes!

Over the weekend, the fiancé and I attended a wonderful family party to celebrate his grandparents' 56th wedding anniversary and a housewarming for his cousins. To help celebrate, we decided to bring along some cupcakes. I made two dozen, as there would be a pretty big group. For the first dozen, I made the Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, as they've been so popular lately (plus, they're seasonally appropriate). For the second dozen I wanted to try something new. I had been thinking about making a cookies n' creme cupcake for a long time, and thought this would be a great opportunity. Then of course, I realized that there's a recipe for the same thing in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. So much for originality. I went for it anyway, and stole Isa and Terry's idea of cutting an Oreo in half as a garnish for the top. They turned out so yummy!

The box of all 24 cupcakes
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting and a candied pecan

Cookies N' Creme Cupcakes with crushed cookies in the batter & frosting

I got a few new oversized pastry tips at Surfas Kitchen Supply, and I'm really happy with how they worked out. It took me a little while to get the hang of it (you can see a few cuppies that are a little lopsided), but once I did I started getting great results. Also, I'm glad I made two dozen, because almost all of them were eaten! So all in all, grand cupcake success!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vegan Samplings from the Farmers Market

On Friday, I posted some photos from my visit to Monsieur Marcel's in the Farmers Market here in Los Angeles. Now for the best stuff from the trip: the food! Martina has long dreamt of attacking the Farmers Market from top to bottom, ordering all her favorites in one day. In honor of her birthday, we went for it. We had a ball, and I wound up absolutely stuffed because there are so many vegan offerings.

For those who have never been, the Farmers Market (no apostrophe!) on Third and Fairfax is a tourist's must-see when visiting Los Angeles. The market was established in July 1934, when a group of farmers were invited to sell their produce out of the backs of their trucks at Gilmore Island on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax. The market gained popularity quickly, and soon permanent stalls were built. The market has been operational since, now featuring not only produce but a wide variety of restaurants and shops. It's easy to spend a whole day here sampling all the delicious food!

The famous Farmers Market clock tower
The crowd at the Farmers Market

We started at Lotería Grill, for a little Mexican appetizer of guacamole and chips. I love to watch the staff working at this place, because everything is made fresh, including the tortillas and chips. The chips were still piping hot when we got them, and the guacamole was absolutely delicious. So good. 

The Lotería Staff, hard at work

Lotería's Guacamole

The amazing fresh tortilla chips

Fresh tortillas being made

Our next stop was one of my very favorites, Moishe's Restaurant. They make the best Mediterranean food! We ordered my three favorites: Baba Ghanouj (an eggplant dip), Taboulleh (a salad with parsley, lemon, tomato, and bulghur), and Dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with rice, tomato, and spices).

The spread at Moishe's

Baba Ghanouj. Oh so creamy and delicious.

Taboulleh. Heaven on a plate.

Delicious Dolmas!

 The final stop was a favorite of Martina's: Sushi a Go Go. The restaurant inhabits the smallest stall in the market, but makes the freshest, most delicious sushi. Their veggie roll is delicious; stuffed with avocado, asparagus, and cucumber. The staff consists of two sushi chefs and a woman working the cash register and taking orders. They were all so sweet, and fun to talk to. The woman at the register gave Martina a free green tea drink for her birthday!

Sushi Chefs at work

Martina with her birthday present

My veggie roll with avocado, asparagus, and cucumber.

Despite our lofty goals of eating our way through the Farmers Market, our full tummies only allowed us to make a dent. I'm sure there are tons of other vegan options there to be had, but one can only eat so much in one afternoon. Have you ever been to the Farmers Market? What's your favorite treat there?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market

Recently I took a long, leisurely visit to the very famous Farmer's Market on Third and Fairfax here in Los Angeles with my dear friend, Martina. We spent an afternoon there, and ate until we could eat no more (more on that later). We also visited Monsieur Marcel, a beautiful little gourmet food shop tucked in to the southeast corner of the market. While the shop features many non-vegan items, they also carry a treasure trove of vegan delights! This is a must-visit for anyone who is passionate about cooking.

The shelves are stocked with beautiful bottles, tins, and packages, and everything is just so pretty! I couldn't help but take a bunch of photos. Here are some of my favorites.

The view upon entering Monsieur Marcel. Check out those barrels of olives!

The aisles are stocked with beautiful items. I want that clay pot. 

They have a huge selection of tea, all beautifully packaged.

Beautiful vintage-style seasoning tins.

These marinated leeks look scrumptious! 

This Missoni-styled Pellegrino bottle made me smile.

This beautiful pasta was colored using all natural ingredients, like fruits and veggies.
I was impressed that such vibrant colors could be produced naturally!

There were so many beautiful shapes and colors available.

The wine "cellar," with a wide selection of domestic and foreign wines.
This one made me laugh. Really? Gaga?

Aren't these chocolate wrappers lovely? I want to wallpaper my house in these patterns.

Surprise! They're vegan too. What a nice ingredient list.

This was a really special treat that I haven't had since living back East.

They're made of 100% maple syrup! Can't argue with that. 

We wound up purchasing a Mast Brothers chocolate bar (how could we pass up artisan chocolate inside such a gorgeous package?), the maple candy, and a bottle of truffle oil that I didn't get a photo of. We shared the chocolate later that day, and it was delicious. We had the sea salt and almond flavor, and it was just decadent. I brought the maple candy to my future mother-in-law who loved it. I had a piece, too, and it was so good. Just like I remember it! And of course, the truffle oil is amazing. All in all, a fruitful trip!

If you haven't visited Monsieur Marcel, I highly recommend a visit, even if you just go to drool over the merchandise. Se magnifíc!