by Pegge Bochynski
The Boston area hosts several fine vegan restaurants, but True Bistro located in Teele Square in Somerville, Massachusetts, stands above the others. Opened in 2009, it has become a destination eatery that is distinguished by a calming ambiance and an eclectic menu that offers something for everyone, whether vegan or not.
True Bistro is situated on a busy downtown street but as you step through the door, you leave all the hustle and bustle behind. Although the dining room is small—it holds around 40 people comfortably—the high ceilings and large, light-filled windows give the impression of a spaciousness that belies its actual size. Original paintings dot the wall near the entrance, small vases of fresh cut flowers adorn the tables, and soft, soothing music sets the tone for a peaceful, unhurried meal. It is apparent that owners Michael and Linda Harrison have taken great care to create a tranquil environment where patrons can relax and feel welcome.
The Harrisons, like the majority of Americans, were once meat eaters. When they heard about the unhealthy practices of factory farming, however, they embraced vegetarianism and later veganism. Yet their passion for plant-based fare goes deeper than operating a vegan restaurant. It is also a way for them to share the benefits of their culinary philosophy with those who might not be aware of the positive impact eating vegan has on human health and the environment. On their website, the Harrisons cite their commitment to the non-exploitation of animals, environmental activism, and the creation of dishes that are made from high-quality, fresh plant-based ingredients. Created by master chef and committed vegan Stuart Reiter, the restaurant’s offerings are indeed exceptional and reflect Reiter’s travels to Austria, Japan, Hungary, and Ghana, among other countries.
One sunny Sunday, we took in the brunch, which also is offered on Saturday. We started off with a cup of green tea—a common beverage in vegetarian restaurants. But instead of bringing just a pot of hot water, a tea bag, and a mug to the table, our wait person placed before us a full tea service, which included white china teapot with a matching cup, a strainer, and a spoon all sitting on a white napkin atop a tray. When it was time to order our meal, the waiter was very helpful in answering any questions we had and was most knowledgeable concerning veganism in general and True Bistro’s offerings in particular.
The first dish that arrived at our table was rolled crepes filled with bananas and chocolate-hazelnut spread, covered with a light dusting of powdered sugar ($9). The two good-sized crepes were light and a bit crispy, while the banana and chocolate-hazelnut filling was pleasantly sweet. A separate side dish of home fries featured golden browned potatoes lightly tossed with olive oil, roasted red pepper, onion, and parsley ($2). True’s Cheese Burger with seitan, melted Daiya cheddar cheese, sauteéd mushrooms, and aioli ($11) was a fusion of mouthwatering flavors. Sitting on a few slices of fresh Boston lettuce, the components were sandwiched between slices of a delectable homemade sesame seed bun. Accompanied by crunchy, lightly salted Kennebec French Fries, True’s Cheese Burger is a meal even a non-vegan would enjoy.
Finally, the tofu scramble was a delicious combination of finely chopped tofu, roasted button mushrooms, arugula, tomatoes, and herbes de provence ($10). A savory alternative to the traditional brunch favorite, scrambled eggs, this tasty dish was satisfying without being overly filling and was perfectly complemented by a side of greens drizzled with olive oil.
We thoroughly enjoyed our dining experience at True Bistro and look forward to returning to sample their dinner menu.
The Best of Boston 2011
Boston’s Best 2014 by CBS Boston
Posted by Danielle Bussone on Aug 20, 2014 in Vegan Food Quest: Veggin' Out and About Southeast Asia! | 0 comments
FROM LUXURY HOTEL MEALS TO FANTASTIC STREET FOOD ON THE CHEAP!
by Caryl Eyers
This month’s Vegan Food Quest has seen us discovering fabulous vegan food in Java, Indonesia. We’ve eaten everything from amazing fine dining vegan food in restaurants in 5 star hotels to cheap and tasty street food prepared on a cart at the side of the street.
We’ve stayed in a lot of luxury resorts and hotels this month and with a bit of guidance about the vegan lifestyle, they have all provided us with amazing vegan food including local treats as well as dishes from around the world. It’s really shown us that a plant based diet is possible regardless of budget. It’s just as possible to be vegan whilst being pampered in a luxury hotel as it is to find great local food for hardly any money on the side of the street.
Javanese food is similar to the food we ate in Bali; lots of tempeh, tofu and dishes with peanut sauce but there is a lot more choice in Java and the levels of spiciness and sweetness of the food change as you travel through different regions.
We have spent most of our time in Central Java where they definitely have a sweet tooth with dishes like tempeh and tofu ‘bacem’ making a deliciously sweet and spiced addition to our meals. These dishes are prepared by braising the tofu or tempeh in palm sugar and spices before frying it lightly – delicious.
We are totally in love with tempeh and can’t believe that the rest of the world hasn’t switched onto it in the same way as Indonesia. There are so many different ways of eating it and all are good in our book; our days definitely aren’t complete unless we’ve gotten to eat our daily tempeh fix.
There are lots of great local delicacies that are vegan here too, like ‘gudeg’, a stewed jackfruit dish that is normally an accompaniment to the other meat based parts of the dish but goes well with all the other vegan things we can forage from the local ‘warungs’. A warung is a small local restaurant where there will be a selection of dishes cooked and displayed in a window, cabinet or food cart depending on the size of the place. It’s great to queue up with the locals picking up their lunch or dinner and try a little bit of everything from cassava leaves to sweet, sticky tempeh cooked with peanuts that could pass as candy because it’s so sweet. The great thing about these places is the variety and the fact that all this tasty vegan food rarely costs more than $1.50, for two people!
We’ve also discovered the wonders of ‘Jamu’, traditional Indonesian herbal medicines taken as a drink. They are made by boiling up herbs like turmeric, ginger, galangal, cardamom, cloves and chili as well as roots and leaves of various trees and then adding palm sugar, salt and rice water. Each concoction has a different combination of ingredients and is used for different ailments. Some of them taste lovely, and some taste absolutely horrible!
It’s not only the food that is good in this part of the world though, the scenery in Java is pretty impressive with huge volcanoes, rice fields and rivers never far away. We took the plunge and learned to ride scooters so we could explore the countryside, stopping at warungs to sample their vegan delights (yes more tempeh was involved).
There are some man-made wonders too with Borobodhur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple being worth the battle with the crowds to see in person.
Just down the road from Borobohur is a great place to sample ‘Jamur tonseng’, a spicy turmeric laden curry packed full of oyster mushrooms. This humble little roadside warung is famous locally for its excellent mushroom curry but you would never imagine it from the look of the place. With a wok heated from a gas bottle, a makeshift kitchen and hardly any light they whipped up 2 delicious dishes crammed full of locally grown oyster mushrooms.
And of course, after all these grand adventures we treated ourselves with some of the sweet vegan treats at our fingertips. There are so many Indonesian desserts that are naturally vegan with our favourite being the ‘Solo Srabi’ pancakes (although you do have to check for eggs) and the very moreish ‘Bubur sum sum’ which is a heavenly rice flour and coconut milk pudding that is slightly salted and sweetened by the addition of coconut palm sugar syrup and then topped off with a ladleful of coconut cream.
The more we travel, the more people we meet who seem very interested in veganism and our Vegan Food Quest. We were really lucky to meet up with the people that run The Traveler’s Rest in Jogjakarta, a cool new hangout for travelers in the Prawirotaman neighborhood. As we were talking about our mission to find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world, we came up with the idea of a Vegan Food Quest pop-up restaurant for one night only, where we could invite people to come and eat the some of the amazing vegan Javanese food we’ve discovered.
Not only did we have a great time collecting ingredients from the garden and the local market but we also got to show people who came along just how tasty vegan food can be. We’d definitely love to take over any other cafés or restaurants for a Vegan Food Quest pop-up night as we travel around so watch this space!
Next month we’re exploring Singapore where we’ll be testing out the world’s first vegan burger chain, eating our way around the border town of Johor Baru in Malaysia and then flying to Vietnam in search of a vegan version of their famous ‘pho’.
Check it out! Miss Illinois 2014 Marisa Buchheit (a long-time vegan) is going to be performing at Veggie Fest on Sunday, August 10! “Being vegan has helped me to feel balanced and has given me incredible mental and physical strength,” says Marisa. Come to Veggie Fest to hear her sing, meet her in the children’s tent, and wish her all the best as she represents Illinois at the upcoming Miss America competition! VeggieFestChicago — Free Admission. Free Parking.
The closest thing to Broadway one can find outside of New York City, at least in the US, is the Barter Theater. The Barter, Virginia’s state theater, has put Abingdon on the map, making it a destination for tourists from around the world. One has only to attend a performance, any performance, to recognize the breadth of the talent that resides in this tiny corner of SW Virginia.
NEW LOOK, NEW LOCATION, SAME INTENTION
This June Whole Health Natural Foods store (aka Whole Health Center) opened at its brand new location in the heart of Abingdon. Conveniently situated between I-81 exits 17 and 19, the new location is nestled between neighboring restaurant 128 Pecan—a fun, casual spot with some vegetarian dishes and a vegan option or two—and the trailhead of the beautiful Virginia Creeper Trail.
The Seed Food & Wine Festival 2014 (SFWF) takes place this October in and around the beaches of Miami. This annual gathering celebrates spirits, craft beer, fine wine and all kinds of plant-based cuisine, while raising health awareness. SFWF is overjoyed about the support it is receiving from some of the biggest names in the vegan community.
The Seed Food & Wine Festival 2014 has signed up a stellar cast of celebrity chefs, authors and health experts to appear at the Festival, starting with the world’s leading raw food chef and best-selling author, Matthew Kenney; 2014 James Beard Award nominees Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby; and author Brendan Brazier, a former professional Ironman triathlete considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on plant-based nutrition.
MAKE PLANS NOW TO VISIIT VEGGIE FEST CHICAGO
ONE OF THE LARGEST VEGETARIAN FOOD FESTIVALS IN NORTH AMERICA
VEGGIE FEST CHICAGO RETURNS TO NAPERVILLE, IL AUGUST 9-10
(Naperville, IL) It’s almost time to fill up your car with your friends and family and head to the 9th Annual Veggie Fest, the largest vegetarian food and lifestyle festival in North America! With a huge international food court; health professionals speaking on diet, lifestyle, and environmental issues; engaging food demos by restaurant owners, chefs, and authors; an incredible children’s tent with face painting, clowns, and crafts; live music from some of Chicago’s best bands; and over 100 vendor booths to explore, it’s easy to see why over 25,000 people from around the world attended the two-day Veggie Fest last year.
And there’s even more you can do at Veggie Fest! If you’ve been curious about the vegetarian diet, you can sign up for the Vegetarian Challenge to receive free support, recipes, and tips for going vegetarian for 14 days. Thousands of people have felt the benefits of taking the Vegetarian Challenge, and you can, too! And while you’re having a great time at the festival, you also can give back to the community by donating blood or bringing non-perishable vegetarian items for our food drive benefiting People’s Resource Center in Wheaton. (more…)
Posted by Danielle Bussone on Jul 9, 2014 in Vegan, Vegan Food Quest: Veggin' Out and About Southeast Asia! | 0 comments
ENJOYING “CREATURE” COMFORTS ON TIOMAN ISLAND, MALAYSIA!
by Caryl Eyers
Since the last Vegan Food Quest update, we’ve spent a week on Tioman island in Malaysia and then journeyed back to Melaka (also in Malaysia). It’s been a thought provoking part of our trip, as well as one that found us eating some seriously good vegan food.
The highlight of our trip to Tioman was getting to experience the beauty of the natural world by swimming with a sea turtle in the wild. This was not an organized trip where a boat drives around looking for wildlife and then drops anchor so tourists can jump into the water to take photos. We were just swimming with our snorkels along the reef, when we saw a green turtle feeding on the coral. (more…)
Only NINE days to go to the advent of one of most happening VegFests in the country!!! The Richmond Vegetarian Festival hosted over 12,000 visitors last year and this year promises to be even better. Located on the verdant grounds of Bryan Park in Richmond, Virginia, in the Azalea Gardens, even the parking lot is shady and gorgeous! The June 21st festival will begin at 12 noon and last until 6 pm. A rain date is set for July 5th, same time same place, should the event have to be cancelled due to inclement weather. The festival’s Master of Ceremonies will be Richmond’s favorite meteorologist, Mike Goldberg, who is also an animal lover and music enthusiast.
Posted by Danielle Bussone on Jun 11, 2014 in Vegan Food Quest: Veggin' Out and About Southeast Asia! | 3 comments
MELAKA — A FOODIE DESTINATION IN MALAYSIA!
by Caryl Eyers
As we landed back in Kuala Lumpur after our stay in Bali I was already missing the Balinese food. Our last visit through Malaysia meant we got to try some great new vegan food and revisit some old favorites. I was hoping this visit would be just the same.
After a few days, we boarded the bus and headed south for a couple of hours to Melaka, another of Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Much like Georgetown in Penang, who got their UNESCO listing on the same day, Melaka is a great foodie destination in Malaysia with the mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese heritage producing some of the best food you can find in the whole country.