Atomic #7 Trustworthy Treats

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Two weeks ago, the coolest place opened up just outside of Las Vegas in Henderson, NV: Atomic #7 Trustworthy Treats. They’re an ice cream parlor that serves huge variety of vegan ice cream (and dairy, too, but they keep everything nice and separate… honestly, the dairy feels like an afterthought with all the attention given to the vegan side of things). But get this: it’s all made to order from scratch. You pick the flavor, the type of milk–including rice, soy, coconut, and almond–and “chunky elements.” And if you want it, a homemade vegan waffle cone.

But wait until you see the video (I shot this last tonight):

How freakin’ cool is that? Add the fact that a local vegan baker was handing out samples of cake and that’s a hard place to beat.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some mint chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream waiting to be devoured.

zpizza now offering Daiya vegan cheese!

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(I had hoped to break this news for you, but held off until it was officially announced and thus got scooped by a couple of others.)

As I mentioned back in January, pizza chain zpizza was trying out several new vegan cheese options to replace their non-vegan soy cheese. Well, the decision has been made and starting now, some zpizza stores are offering the new and well-received Daiya vegan cheese on their pizzas. By the end of the summer, every zpizza in the country (which is almost 100 stores in 16 states!) will have completely replaced their non-vegan soy cheese with the new vegan option. Note that Daiya’s cheese, in addition to being vegan, is also soy, corn, rice, and gluten free. Impressive.

This is a huge deal for vegans looking to get a good vegan cheese pizza. While zpizza doesn’t have the presence of a Domino’s or Pizza hut, they are spreading quickly and their pizzas are so much better. Just a few years ago, Northern Virginia was celebrating their first zpizza and now there are more than a dozen.

I have yet to try the new vegan cheese pizza option (not sure if it’s available at my local one yet) and I haven’t even tried Daiya cheese yet, but rest assured, I’m looking forward to being able to finally order a cheese pizza with good toppings whenever I feel like it.

Here’s an updated list of zpizza’s vegan options:

Pizzas (all of these request Vegan Cheese to replace mozzarella):

  • Provence
  • Napoli (no parmesan)
  • Greek (no feta)
  • California
  • Tuscan (no feta)
  • Berkeley Soy Cheese Veggie (replace basil pesto)
  • Moroccan Rustica (replace basil pesto)
  • Mediterranean Rustica (no feta)

Salads:

  • California
  • Arugula (no cheese)
  • Greek (no cheese)
  • Pear and Gorgonzola (no cheese)

If you’d like to build your own pizza or order a salad, below are acceptable vegan ingredients:

  • Pizza dough
  • Vegan cheese by Daiya
  • Veggie crumbles
  • Tomato sauce
  • Marinara sauce
  • Chipotle pesto
  • Mexican salsa
  • Roasted garlic sauce
  • White Balsamic dressing
  • Caramelized onions
  • Roasted eggplant
  • All fresh vegetables

NY trip notes (and some music)

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A couple of weeks ago, my wife, daughter, and I headed up to New York City. It was the first time in nearly four years that my wife and I had been there and Rasine’s first time ever. We were only in town for one day and one night, but we had an excellent time and can’t wait to go back. A few, quick impressions of our culinary experiences this time around:

Two Boots Pizzeria

Though not a vegan pizza place, the Two Boots listing on Supervegan indicated that they had a number of vegan choices, so we stopped by for a few slices.

When I stepped to the counter and asked if they had any vegan pizzas made, the guy indicated that they didn’t and gave off the vibe that he didn’t want to bother making one, either. I gave him a disappointed look and said, “Oh, you don’t?” followed by a pregnant pause. He then said, tersely, “OK, I’ll make one.” He didn’t ask what we wanted on it or anything, so we crossed our fingers and waited.

What we got was one of the best vegan pizzas we’ve ever had. It was cheeseless, but they seemed to have taken every possible vegetable from their kitchen (and maybe a few from next door) and threw it on a pizza. The result was a slice piled ridiculously high that seriously hit the spot.

Pizza

Lan Cafe

We knew for sure that we were going to Lula’s Sweet Apothecary for dessert, so the next trick was finding a nearby restaurant for dinner. There were a few options, but we settled on Lan Cafe, a vegetarian (and very nearly vegan) Vietnamese restaurant that serves up veggie pho, half a dozen varities of banh mi sandwiches, vegetarian banh xeo pancakes, and every other traditional Vietnamese favorite you can imagine. The food was excellent, as was the company (we met up with a childhood friend of my wife’s that she hadn’t seen in 20 years). My banh mi with grilled seitan was perfect and my wife thoroughly enjoyed her banh xeo with mock pork. Rasine, as you can see below, dug the summer roll appetizer:

Summer roll

Lula’s Sweet Apothecary

If there’s any spot in New York that’s worth the hype, it’s Lula’s. The Supervegan page is one glowing review after another stating that the homemade ice cream is equalled only by the friendly service of the two proprietors. For those that haven’t heard, Lula’s is an all-vegan ice cream parlor (one of two in the city!) that looks like an authentic, old school ice cream parlor (and not in the kitchy way, at all). To get a good feel for the vibe, check out this excellent photoset.

As soon as we entered, the owners told us, “Let us know if there’s anything you want to sample.” And sample we did. I eventually settled on a malt (a MALT! REALLY!) made with cake batter ice cream. Huyen and Rasine split a simple, but tasty, mint chocolate chip cone. I’m pretty sure that on our next trip to the city, we’ll be coming here each night.

Yay for Lula’s!

Lula's Sweet Apothecary 1

As an added bonus, I was lucky enough to catch up with the world famous Brownbird Rudy Relic. It was great to finally meet him in person.

With the Brownbird

And while we’re at it, I thought I’d throw in a video of an amazing performance of his in Australia last December. Be sure to check out his entire set, available for streaming online.

(special thanks to Rich, Jason, and Deb for the help and suggestions with regards to restaurants and parking!)

zpizza considering new vegan cheese

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(Update: The vegan cheese pizza at zpizza is here (or coming very, very soon)!)

I have two zpizza restaurants near me, one not far from my house and the other near my work.  I love the fact that they have veggie meat options and offer a soy cheese pizza.  The problem: their soy cheese contains casein, so it’s not an option.

I wrote to them, knowing that they’re a fast-growing national pizza chain, and urged them to consider using a vegan cheese.  Turns out that they’re actively testing a number of vegan cheese options, including a certain brand from Chicago.  This would be a huge win for pizza-loving vegans everywhere, so drop them a line and let them know that you’d love to see them start offering a vegan cheese option, particularly if there’s a zpizza in your area.

In addition to letting me know about their search for a good vegan cheese, they also passed along this helpful list of current vegan options at zpizza:

Pizzas (all of these request No Cheese):

  • Provence
  • Napoli
  • Greek
  • California
  • Tuscan
  • Berkeley Soy Cheese Veggie
  • Casablanca
  • Moroccan Rustica
  • Pear and Gorgonzola Rustica
  • Mediterranean Rustica

Salads:

  • California
  • Arugula (no cheese)
  • Greek (no cheese)
  • Pear and Gorgonzola (no cheese)

If you’d like to build your own cheese-less pizza or order a salad, below are acceptable vegan ingredients:

  • Pizza dough
  • Tomato sauce
  • Marinara sauce
  • Chipotle pesto
  • Roasted garlic sauce
  • Veggie crumbles
  • All fresh vegetables
  • Balsamic dressing

Executive Chef: “Pay attention to vegans”

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Creating a recipe for success: Q & A with Erik Blauberg, Chief executive of EKB Consulting

This interview with the former executive chef at the ’21’ Club is interesting for this bit (emphasis added):

What’s the first thing you look at when you work on a failing restaurant?

I walk into a place and assess the damage. First of all, the food, the menu. Engineering of menus is very important. They have to have diversity: chicken, fish, vegetables. It has to please a vast majority of people with different tastes. Vegan dishes are becoming especially important.

Vegan? Really?

It seems more and more, if there is a vegan at the table, they will dictate the order. So you need to be prepared.

I can’t say I feel like the vegan Mussolini (Get it?  Order dictator?  Har!), but I was really happy to see vegans being talked about as an actual target market and not “a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn.”

(via SuperVegan’s twitter feed)