Month: April 2013

DC Wrap Up

My trip to DC included many delicious meals: Cafe Asia for veggie sushi combo, Rasika for delicious, upscale Indian food, Busboys & Poets for brunch, Sticky Rice for creative vegan sushi rolls, Farmers, Fishers & Bakers for meatloaf & mashed potatoes, quick meals at Teaism and Sticky Fingers, and hot pot at Mala Tang.

Despite not eating fish, sushi is one of my favorite meals. In McHenry County though, sushi consists of avocado rolls, cucumber rolls, and asparagus rolls, or you can get an AAC, which is an avocado, asparagus and cucumber roll. (In all fairness, there is one restaurant with egg-free tempura rolls). Sticky Rice takes vegan sushi to a whole new level.

We started out with a bucket of tater tots. Yes, the entire bucket is full of tater tots. A dipping sauce with Vegenaise was also included. It’s the first time I’ve eaten tater tots with chopsticks.

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I ordered the Santa Fe (Tempura fried sweet potato with agave, jalapeno and sesame seeds) and the Hot Hippy (Spicy marinated tofu with scallions, peanuts, cucumbers and carrots). Both were good, but I really enjoyed the sweet potato and jalapeno combo.

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For desert, I had some mango sorbet. It was good, but hard to eat with the spoon.

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Busboys & Poets
One of my favorite spots in DC to hang out was the U Street Busboys & Poets. They have expanded and for Sunday brunch we checked out the Shirlington location. There was a decent wait. We killed the time at the bar with some fresh-squeezed orange juice.

There are many vegan options on the menu. I settled on the vegan egg wrap (tortilla wrapped tofu scramble with mixed veggies, vegan bacon and vegan cheese; served with home fries) and a Blueberry Rooibos.

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Le Pain Quotidien

H had a conference on Monday and Tuesday, so I was on my own. On Monday I headed down to Alexandria for lunch and shopping. Le Pain Quotidien is a chain restaurant with a large number of vegan dishes, which it clearly marks on its menu. I ordered the Sweet Pea Hummus Tartine (an open-faced sandwich with sweet pea hummus, organic carrots, spring peas, radish and smoked tea vinaigrette) and a cup of tea. I sat at the large communal table.

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From the bakery, I ordered an apple cannelé. I’ve never had a cannelé before, so I can’t say whether this was a good one or not. It was rather dense and not very sweet. I could only eat half, but I took the other half for a morning snack on Tuesday.

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After lunch, I walked down to the art galleries and water.

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On my walk back to the metro I stopped at a toy store to buy a gift for my friend’s baby and a second-hand store where I bought a flowy floral Tracy Reese shirt and a Valentino jersey skirt.

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Archives and Teaism

On Tuesday, I planned on going to Teaism and the National Gallery of Art. But once I got to the Penn Quarter Teaism I decided to go to the National Archives. I’ve been to the art gallery more times than I can count, but I had never been to the Archives. At Teaism I had the Irish oatmeal without milk and a berry tisane.

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Archives was a fun museum. Although, the room with the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights is so disorganized.It’s a good think we made a copy, because the documents are very faded.

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Sticky Fingers & Columbia Heights
After the Archives, I headed up to my old neighborhood for lunch at Sticky Fingers. I had the tempeh Reuben and a vanilla cupcake.

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Mala Tang
Last, but not least, we stopped at Mala Tang for hot pot on our way to the airport. I liked Mala Tang, because they do individual pots, so I can order my own special vegetarian broth. I got the spicy broth with the American vegetable combination (potatoes, broccoli and mushrooms) and dried bean curd. We also ordered some vegetable baozi, which I thought wasn’t very flavorful on its own, but much better with a spicy dipping sauce.

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DC Cupcake Tour

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I’m pretty sure the only vegan cupcakes in McHenry County come from my kitchen. But maybe there’s another vegan baker or two out there. It’s a different story in DC, where even regular bakeries have a vegan option.

1. Cakelove
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First up is Cakelove. Founded by a former lawyer (my role model) Cakelove was baking cupcakes before they became popular. I was a big fan in my pre-vegan days, but unfortunately the deliciousness does not transfer over to vegan baked goods. This was an embarrassment to vegan cupcakes everywhere. I got the chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting. The frosting was good. It wasn’t very sweet, nor was it very chocolate-y. The lack of sweetness wasn’t a problem, but chocolate frosting should taste chocolate-y. The cake part was just dreadful. Very dense. I cut off the bottom and ate the frosting with a tiny bit of cake. At $4.20 a cupcake (more than a regular cupcake and the most expensive of all the bakeries), this was a terrible deal.

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2. Sticky Fingers
No trip to DC is complete without a trip to Columbia Heights for Sticky Fingers. I stuck with the plain vanilla. It was delicious and confirmed that I am excellent at following directions. My cupcakes taste just like it. The cupcake was moist, the frosting was sweet and there was a perfect frosting to cake ratio. It’s almost not fair to have other bakeries competing against Sticky Fingers for best vegan cupcake, but not including Sticky Fingers would be wrong. Plain cupcakes are $3; a little more for something fancy.

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3. Sprinkles
Sprinkles and Georgetown Cupcake are less than 1/2 a mile from each other. They both have TV connections. Sprinkles was founded by Cupcake Wars judge Candace Nelson and Georgetown Cupcake has its own reality show on TLC. I took H with me, because I couldn’t eat 2 cupcakes all by myself (after eating Sticky Fingers for lunch that is). Both just have one vegan option. Sprinkles has the same red velvet flavor every day. This cupcake is huge! Probably the size of two Georgetown cupcakes. The cake was moist and the cream cheese frosting was the perfect sweetness although a little firm because it probably came right from the refrigerator. However, it had a strong coconut taste that I didn’t care for (I am not a big fan of coconut). H liked it though. Cupcakes are $3.50

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4. Georgetown Cupcake
Last but not least, the extremely popular Georgetown Cupcake. Georgetown Cupcake offers three vegan favors on a rotating schedule: apple cinnamon, cranberry spice and carrot cake. Fortunately, we were not there on a carrot cake day (vegetables should not be a star player in a dessert!) We got to try the cranberry spice with cream cheese frosting and it was delicious. The cake was moist; the flavor was interesting; the frosting was sweet and soft; and the cupcakes are pretty. They are small, but only $2.75. I do love frosting, but the frosting to cake ratio was 1:1. Other than that, the cupcake rivals Sticky Fingers. Of course, the lack of variety knocks Georgetown Cupcake down a notch.

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Rankings:
1. Sticky Fingers – cupcake perfection
2. Georgetown Cupcake – a tad too much frosting
3. Sprinkles – due to the coconut taste. However, H thought Sprinkles was better than Georgetown Cupcake
4. Cakelove – gross