Archive | 11:15 pm

Shish-Kabobs returns!

3 Nov

I’m excited that several of you have said they are participating in my first contest, a chocolate-free bake-off. If you are still on the fence about participating, let me say again that the contest is low-pressure and fun. If you don’t have a nice camera, that’s OK. If you’ve never baked anything vegan before, that’s awesome. The point is to try something new and see what happens. My goal is to bake the winning recipe, too, and when I do, I’ll blog about it.

And speaking of participants, my friend and contest baker Kate of Fat Ass to Fit Ass (love the name!) listed this little ol’ blog as one of her helpful links in a recent post. Thank you! If you’ve never seen her little corner of the web, check it out. Warning: naughty language and hilarity abound.

Another housekeeping note: the lovelies over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs are holding a Sweet or Savory cooking contest featuring my friend the sweet potato. You have all month to enter. Details are here. Please join me in entering!

Finally, take a moment to vote for the fabulous Kailey of SnackFace for the Sunglass Hut Full Time Fabulous fashion blogger position. She’ll rock it.

Now onto today’s rediscovery: Shish-Kabobs. You can read my review here. I tried to visit the home of the world’s best baba ghanoush two weeks ago only to find it closed and a sign on the door declaring new management and that it would reopen soon. After I washed the flood of tears from my feeble eyes and picked my small body off the blacktop, I was determined to find out what’s going on. Today, I got the chance.

I have to give the new management credit for a quick reopening and for turning off the television. As much as I loved the place before, I did not love trying to ignore the midday news while reading my book. She also spiffied it up:

Ooo, fresh paint and tablecloths.

My favorite waitress, Katie, was still there, and she handed me a freshly printed menu featuring all the same goodies. Phew. I placed my order for exactly what I always get (the vegetarian platter with baba ghanoush and an iced tea) and awaited. As always, my tea and baba arrived first.

Verdict: both were still delicious. I think the new manager has changed the tea slightly, but it is still black tea with a little something extra. The baba was exactly as I remembered it. Thank you, lord of eggplant puree. Then the rest of my food arrived:

Falafel, rice, sautéed veggies, dolmeh, and tahini sauce. The veggies were actually much better than in the past. They had more in the flavor, variety, and quantity departments. I like. The rice was also as delicious as before, though there was a dollop of butter on top (which you can see in the upper part of the plate) that I easily removed. The dolmeh were the same. Both the falafel and the tahini sauce were new recipes. The former was incredibly delicious. I loved the falafel there before, but this might actually be an improvement. It just had a more robust flavor profile: buttery chickpeas, the bite of parsley and garlic, a crunch exterior, and a fluffy interior. Perfection. The tahini was the only disappointment; the old version was better. This incarnation is fine, but it pretty much tastes just like plain tahini.

Overall, I’m incredibly relieved that Shish-Kabobs is still delicious, affordable, and close to work. I’m glad Katie is still serving food and drinks, and I’m grateful that it is still an excellent vegan and vegetarian option in the wasteland meat-centric area that is east Tulsa.

I’m off to update the restaurant review to reflect the changes.


Vacation Recap Part III: Florence

3 Nov

This is Part II of IV recapping my recent Italian excursion. Read Part I here and Part II here. You can also read about my tirade against American Airlines here.

So let’s see . . . where did we leave off? Oh yes, ‘twas the morning of October 7 and our departure from Brescia. It was time to hop on a train bound for Florence!

Because Brescia is a small town, getting to Florence required changing trains in Padova. We had a narrow, 15-minute window, and I knew that was going to be trouble. Italian trains are notoriously late; in fact, this trip featured the most consistent trains I’ve encountered. Both of my overnight trains before had been hours late. Anyway, inevitably our train to Padova was exactly 15 minutes late, but I wasn’t going to give up. We sprinted, bags in hand, down a flight of stairs, back up another, and then to our car on the other train. We made it! I can’t imagine it took longer than 30 seconds.

When we arrived in Florence, we walked to the hotel, Locanda Orchidea:

Ahhhhh. The fates smiled on us and gave us a free upgrade to a room with a private shower. Woo hoo! Look at how amazing the room was:

We paid €65 a night for this place. It’s unreal!

Over the next two days, we did the things one should do in Florence, such as climb 463 steps to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome in the Duomo:

Check out that view of Tuscany:

And wake up insanely early to be the first people in line for the Uffizi:

And enjoy the sunlight reflecting off Ponte Vecchio (that’s sunrise, folks, not sunset):

And buy clothes you just can’t live without:

Sweater dress from Zara and the most amazing vintage boots from a lovely boutique along the Arno.

If you go to Florence, you must:

  • Visit the Uffizi. It’s touristy for a reason. Every room is filled with amazing art, even the hallways. Get up early and go!
  • Have gelato at Grom.
  • See The David. Even if you don’t look at anything else in the Accademia, you would be crazy not to see this massive masterpiece.
  • Shop at Boutique Nadine on the Lungarno.

And now, food:

October 7
Our day started with the unpictured brioche and coffee I mentioned in Part II. The eating continued that afternoon with gelato from Grom:

I had salted caramel and fiordilatte, which is basically cream. My taller half had coffee and crema di Grom, the house specialty, which combines egg, Piedmontese cookies, and dark Columbian chocolate. The flavors were incredibly smooth, and I loved that the place uses some organic and lots of seasonal ingredients.

For dinner that evening, we had panini at Antico Noe`. I apologize for the insane crappiness of this photo, but we ate outside after dark:

I promise that isn’t bacon. Mine was filled with a squash-blossom frittata, and my love’s was Caprese-style (mozzarella, tomato, and basil). We both liked ours a lot, but mine was really, really, really good. We had more Italian Cokes on the side. Craving a little snack, we also had something crunchy and salty:

PAPRIKA PRINGLES! I love these things so much. I am sad every time I remember that they are not available in this country. I don’t know why Pringles wants to deprive Americans of this most delicious flavor of potato chips, but they do. Oh yes, and we had the Hot & Spicy ones, too. They were good, but I love Paprika, forever and always.

October 8
This day started earlier than I care to admit: 6 a.m. The guidebooks went on and on about four-hour lines at the Uffizi. Since we didn’t have a ton of time in Florence, this was not a good option for us. My taller half turned to me the day before and asked, “What are the chances you’ll get up at 5 tomorrow?” to which I could only reply, “Honestly, honey, there isn’t a chance in hell I’ll wake up that early.” We compromised with 6 instead. The museum didn’t open until 8:15, but by golly, we were the first two crazy people there.

Anyway, rising that early meant no breakfast beforehand. Instead, we explored half the museum and then ventured down to their bar around 10:00. I had a cappuccino and brioche (cream-filled), and he had just the former. Since I didn’t let my booty touch a chair, it was surprisingly inexpensive. And tasty, too. It’s unpictured, though, since we weren’t supposed to use cameras inside.

We saw lots of wonderful art, and I encourage all of you to read about it. I did not take pictures because I find it insane when people photograph pieces inside museums. It’s disrespectful and degrading to the work (and I mean that literally). Instead, Google the museum and get out there yourself someday.

After all that culturin’, these Okies needed some food. We walked over to ‘Ino, a paninoteca, for lunch. Mine had stroza (a kind of cheese) and a pesto made of zucchini. Sorry again for the blurriness.

My taller half enjoyed gorgonzola and mustard, which was not at all like the American variety. Both came on phenomenal bread. I could have eaten my weight in it.

After viewing the David (hey, baby), we had more gelato. But of course. This time, the location was Gelateria dei Neri:

I had white chocolate and Mexican chocolate. He had chocolate with orange and hazelnut. The chocolate with orange took the cake for Most Likely to Make You Slap Your Mama.

After some strolling and shopping (see above), we decided to have aperitivo at Pop Café for dinner. I sipped a Coke, and he had sparkling water, then we dove into the free buffet:

It was all-vegetarian at the beginning, but eventually the meat came out. Of the meat-free choices, we enjoyed a grain salad (I can’t figure out what kind) with tomatoes, bread, veggies with curry dip, and a tasty risotto. I had seconds of pretty much everything. I was getting a migraine, so we couldn’t stay long, but it was a tasty end to the busy, busy day.

October 9
We awoke early-ish for our departure from beautiful Florence. Since the hotel did not have breakfast available, we strolled down the road looking for Chiaroscuro, a café with a very positive reputation. However, they decided not to open on time, so we had to scramble to find somewhere else. Enter Bar Cucciolo (which means puppy – I love it!). It was close to the hotel and open, so we went for it.

Gorgeous cappuccino and coffee (mine and his). I also had a cream-filled brioche (obsessed much?). The service was delightful, and since they had just opened, everything was fresh. They also didn’t make us pay to sit – woo hoo! The walls had fun pictures from the bar’s early years in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. So fun and unexpected. I highly recommend the place. It was a delicious breakfast.

And then we grabbed our bags for our departure to Rome. Look for Part IV soon!

Taters and beans

3 Nov

We enjoyed the last two weeks’ all-veggie meals so much that we decided to partake once again. Tonight, the stars were sweet potatoes and green beans:

The sweet potatoes were baked, and I topped mine with black pepper and a different version of my on-the-fly peanut sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 10 dashes of Chipotle Tabasco
  • Enough hot water to thin to desired consistency

Mix it all together in a bowl with a fork. Quick and easy and delicious. This is even better than my previous version, hands down. Most people probably won’t want so much Tabasco, but I like the kick. Also, if you don’t like the bite of raw garlic, you can saute it in some olive oil, roast it, use less, omit it, or try garlic powder. I love raw garlic, so next time I might use two cloves.

My taller half, once again, went the butter-cinnamon-and-brown sugar route:

Yes, our living room is that dark even with the light on. The green beans were topped with Dijon mustard, oregano, and toasted sesame seeds. The method is courtesy of Carole Raymond’s Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook. I would have preferred fresh green beans, but they looked unappetizing, so we went with frozen.

Other than the inactive baking time for the sweet potatoes, this was a quick and easy dinner.

For dessert, I’ll be polishing off the last peanut butter cup.