Blue Nile Ethiopian Cuisine, Harrisonburg, VA

by Danielle Bussone

Blue Nile is an Ethiopian restaurant/music club located on Main Street in Harrisonburg, VA. When I called to find out when they were open the noise blaring in the background made it nearly impossible to hear the answers to my questions. Since I was never able to get concrete information, I will do the best I can to enlighten you by sharing my experience and observations. It’s quite possible I’m just making this stuff up. There are two floors to the Blue Nile. The downstairs has a full bar and a dance floor with live music every night and dance parties on Friday and Saturday from 7pm – 2am daily. I don’t know if the phone was answered from this floor when I called or if the music was so loud it overwhelmed the second floor as well. The waitress wasn’t very helpful in answering my questions, though it was quiet when we dined there.

We stopped in for an early dinner and it was relatively empty at that time. The noise level was normal, no blaring bands in the background but the downstairs was not yet opened for business. We ordered traditional Ethiopian food which is comprised of Injera, a spongy Ethiopian sour pancake made from an African grain called Teff. On the top are little piles of food which you can order as an individual dish, each vegetarian entree is $9 or as a combination platter. We ordered the combination vegetable platter for two. ($30) This comes with two pieces of extra injera and a sample of most of their entrees. (more…)

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Abingdon Olive Oil Company, Abingdon, VA

by Danielle Bussone

After reading the book, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, which exposes the seedy underbelly of the olive oil industry, I sought out Veronica Foods in California to learn where I can buy their products. This company was specifically mentioned in the book as a reputable purveyor of excellent quality olive oil. To my complete surprise they have a retailer three blocks from my house in Abingdon, VA!

Since my first visit to Abingdon Olive Oil I have visited numerous retailers and have found the experience at all the others lagging far behind what you will experience here. You will be met at the door by the owner, K.C. St. Louis or her culinary expert, Penny Arrington, or by Ashley Johnson or Lori Price, two of Abingdon Olive Oil’s full-time knowledgeable sales persons. You will be received like a special guest invited into a lovely home.

In the front parlor you will be introduced to the newest oils from California, Spain and Portugal. These regional oils will change over the months as Veronica Foods brings in the freshest oils from around the world and as the picking season varies from region to region. These oils are currently $17.99 for a 375 ml bottle.  You will be educated on the region, the amount of polyphenols in each of the oils and the type of olives used. You are free to sample anything in the store. The specialty and gourmet oils are also found in this area, the decadent truffle oil ($33) , the richest and most flavorful sesame seed oil I’ve ever tasted ($23), and the sensuous walnut oil, ($23). (more…)

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Strong Hearts Cafe, Syracuse, NY

by Danielle Bussone

Strong Hearts Cafe is a particularly delightful find. Vegan restaurants are not always my favorites as they tend to use a lot of highly processed meat substitutes, rather than focusing on healthy vegetarian fare. While there is plenty of this at Strong Hearts Cafe, it is largely a restaurant which focuses on healthy, delicious vegan food. The vegetables are locally sourced as well as their organic tofu. We brought Rich’s nephew John, his wife, Tina, and their two daughters, Maria and Angie as our guests to try out this restaurant. They are all carnivores and each commented how much they enjoyed the meal. Strong Hearts Cafe is the only all vegan restaurant in Syracuse. It is conveniently located right off Interstate 81.

The  breakfast menu is extensive from French toast and waffles to “egg” muffins, tofu scrambles and freshly baked muffins.They offer several tofu scrambles ranging in price from $5.50 – $7.00 for the fully loaded scramble. Angie ordered the French toast which was decadently delicious at $5. You can order fruit on top for an another $1. Maria, order the blueberry muffin, $2. A different kind of muffin is baked fresh every morning. They only bake a dozen and when they are gone, they’re gone. (more…)

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Barter Theatre Cafe Removed from Veggin’ Out & About!

While we love the Barter Theater and continue to support their fine actors and performances, we unfortunately have to remove them from our food blog. At an opening performance of The Blonde, The Brunette and The Angry Red Head, we stopped in to have dinner at the Barter Cafe. We were disappointed, to say the least, that the Barter no longer carries any Vegan or Vegetarian options. I can’t imagine what lead to this decision but until they see the light and add vegan options to their menu, we can no longer carry them on our site. C’mon Barter! Step up to the plate!

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Appalachian Whole Foods Market, Carlisle, PA

by Danielle Bussone

En-route to visit Issei Noodle restaurant in Carlisle, PA, we ran across Appalachian Whole Foods Market, right across the side street from Issei Noodles. The market opens onto a corner and you are immediately greeted by its owner, Sandy Zell.  The store is larger than it appears from the outside. It is quaint and rustic and a pleasure to peruse.

What is unique about Appalachian Whole Foods Market is that it is entirely vegetarian, though not necessarily vegan.  We noted quite a selection of bulk bin items, Sandy says there are over 200 bins of organic dried beans, nuts, grains, flours and spices. There wasn’t a lot in the way of fresh produce, at least at this time of the year. When spring produce is ready to be harvested these items will no doubt appear in greater numbers. I noticed fresh eggs, a large supply of organic onions, some greens and herbs.  There was also a wall of  refrigerated items. We did note fresh breads, plenty of supplements, body products, essential oils, incense, candles and organic grocery items, including gluten free products.  She also carries a selection of books on health, specialized diets and vegetarian cooking. (more…)

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Indian-American Cafe, Harrisonburg, VA

by Danielle Bussone



Indian American Cafe


Indian-American Cafe is one of the loveliest surprises we’ve found in our search for good vegan cuisine.  It is located on a corner at a red light on 91 N Main St. in Harrisonburg, VA, (off Interstate 81). From its pedestrian exterior one would never expect to find such good food and such a lovely couple creating it. John and Rameshori Shrestha are the genuine article. I observed  John, his face radiant as he greeted each of his customers by their first names, a sturdy hand reaching out in a welcoming grasp. He knows them all and they know him. John’s wife, Rameshori, makes you feel as if you are a member of the family. “You’re welcome anytime,” she says warmly, making you feel as if this is where you belong.


Indian America Cafe Harrisonburg, VA


The name Indian American is a bit confusing. What is served is actually the cuisine of Nepal. The food is similar to Indian cuisine with numerous vegan offerings. They do carry a few American lunch items but none of it is vegan. What you will find is some of the most flavorful Indian fare at the best prices we’ve found anywhere. The owners have been at this location for 21 years now and have a loyal clientele.  While we were waiting for our food, we asked several customers how they enjoyed their meal and how often they come to eat at Indian American Cafe. To a man, they love this food and have eaten here at least twice a week for years.




American Indian Cafe has a thriving carry-out business as well. One gentleman was introduced to the place by a nearby hairstylist eight years ago. I believe the hairstylist has moved on but this gentleman has not. He has been coming to Indian American Cafe twice a week ever since and has introduced many of his co-workers to the restaurant.  Often, he and his co-workers will order from the restaurant en mass for carry-out.

John and Rameshori Shrestha, are from Kathmandu, Nepal, which is bordered in the north by China and  by India in the south, east and west. Much of the Nepalese cuisine attests to its Indian influence in the similarity of spices and vegetable combinations though there are some differences. One obvious difference is the spiciness of the cuisine which is kicked up a couple of notches in Nepalese cooking. If you order level two in spiciness, prepare to drink a lot of water. Order mild and that is what you’ll get. Even if you like it spicy, I would still stay on the lower level of the menu’s heat indicator until you know what level you can handle. The Nepalese take their spices seriously.


Indian America Cafe Harrisonburg, VA

Indian America Cafe Harrisonburg, VA Brianni


Another difference is the reduced amount of oil in their dishes. I really appreciate this fact as many, if not most, restaurants seem to equate fat with flavor. The dishes have a clean fresh taste which sits lightly on the stomach while continuing to please the palate. Nor are they inundated with salt, another ubiquitous restaurant habit.

So, what did we eat there? Nearly everything! It was all so yummy! We arrived in time for a late lunch ordering from the lunch menu. I had Alu Saag, ($6.50), a potato and spinach curry which was divine and Rich had the Vegetable Brianni ($7.50) a curried rice with raisins, almonds and cashews. We tried most of the vegan dishes, taking stacks of boxes home with us.  All but  the rice dishes were served with a generous portion of rice as a side. They were all spectacular!




We had the mixed vegetables with herbs and spices ($6.50), The Dall Saag ($6.50), which are yellow lentils and spinach in a curry with herbs and spices. OMG!! This was wonderful!! The Shmi Alu (6.50) are potatoes and green peas with Indian herbs and spices and Alu Miatar, ($6.50) are potatoes, green beans and green peppers in a curry blend. There is also a vegetable fried rice ($6.50). The Cobi Alu ($6.95) is made of cauliflower cooked down into a almost creamy texture with chunks of potato, peas, onions, and tomatoes with Indian spices. Each dish was better than the last and nothing fell short of just plain good eating!


Indian America Cafe Harrisonburg, VA


We tried a couple of the breads, many of which are vegan. I had the Naan ($1.75), which is addictive, while Rich ordered the Chappati ($1.75). Try the tomato chutney.  It is a new experience and was recommended to me by one of the customers.  We loved it.  Also good is the mango chutney. Coffee was served in individual carafes, enough for two cups.




The dinner menu ranges from $8.95 to $10.95. The dinner portions are much larger portions, though the lunch entrees were very substantial.  I can’t imagine finishing a dinner meal.

One thing to note about Indian American Café is they do not accept credit cards. Cash and check only helps them to keep their prices low and keep them operational. It is definitely worth this small inconvenience. This is a restaurant we hope to visit often when our travels take us up and down I-81.


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