Food Venture in Philadelphia

collage in PA 2013

The weekend before last, we went to Philadelphia for the weekend. Sashenka had to do some stuff for his job so Aurelius and I went with him. Every time we go somewhere I try to find an interesting place to try new food. And since I do not eat dairy and we are vegetarian our search is already narrowed for us from the thousands of dining options that big cities have to offer. I searched online for vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Philadelphia and was overwhelmed with the vast variety of eateries that they had! With great difficulty I narrowed it down to three and hoped we would have time to stop by at least one.

We stayed with Sashenka’s family and they were extremely hospitable and went out of their way to make vegetarian food for us. We had a cookout with grilled shiitake mushrooms and veggies, home pickled bell peppers, roasted eggplant and veggie dish, and rice. They also made ‘varenikie’ with fresh picked strawberries for dessert. And of course the best part was that we got to see everyone and Aurelius got to meet his cousins!

On Sunday we went to center city Philadelphia to shop at H&M because we do not have one in our city. On our way there we stop by a soap shop called Lush. It was an interesting place. They had solid toothpaste in tabs that you chew and then brush your teeth with and lots of huge and pretty bath bombs. We bought their solid shampoo. I picked one that smelled like rosemary. We than went to a park where they had a fine art exhibit. The weather was lovely and we had a great time. After all the walking everyone was hungry including Aurelius so we headed towards Hip City Veg Cafe. I breastfed Aurelius and we had the best vegan lunch that we ever ate out! Sashenka ordered a Buffalo Bella burger which was a crispy Portabella mushroom with celery slaw, tomato & buffalo sauce. I had the Bistro Bella burger with herb glazed grilled Portabella mushroom, dijon, olive tapenade, tomato, artichokes, red onion & arugula. We shared a side of sweet potato fries with cilantro-black bean dip which was a great combo and I will try to replicate it at home! For drinks we had the Groothie which is a green smoothie with organic apples, organic leafy greens, bananas & seasonal fruit and a Green Lemonade made with fresh squeezed lemons & organic kale juice, lightly sweetened with raw organic agave nectar. I also ordered a vegan cupcake that I saved for later for tea (but it was not as good as the rest of the food). Sashenka and I try to avoid mock meats for they are not healthy and if we really wanted to eat meat we would eat good quality meat. But we just do not want to eat meat and thus do not want to try to imitate it either. We were very happy that they had burgers with Portabella mushrooms but their menu also offered a veggie burger that we didn’t get to try. I think that the art of a great burger is all of the other details that you put into it. Instead of having the usual lettuce tomatoes and onions with ketchup mustered and mayo these burgers had olive tapenade, artichokes, arugula, and celery slaw. Now that’s two very creative burgers! Not to mention that the Portabella was very juicy and tasty! And did I mention that everything is vegan?! The atmosphere and decor was very crisp, clean and fresh. Sashenka really enjoyed it! Now what we didn’t enjoy was a 12 hr drive back home at night with a 7 month old! But it’s all part of life.

Oh I almost forgot! Before we left we stopped by a Russian food store and bought all kinds of goodies! Like Ukrainian chocolate, unrefined sunflower oil, buckwheat, ‘vareniki’ with cabbage and potatoes, kvass (you have to try it and its even good for you if it was fermented naturally and has natural ingredients and no preservatives or artificial flavors), and a whole lot of other things that I can’t remember right now.

So that was our food expedition in Philadelphia. Next time we go we hopefully can stay for a longer time and visit more places.

Zucchini ‘Pasta’ and Wilted Chard

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I found this recipe in my monthly vegetarian times issue. It is very filling and the spiciness adds warmth to this dish. I followed the recipe exactly except I did not mix the nuts into the sauce but grinned-ed them up and served them on top. I think the best part is the wilted chard. Sashenka said that you can’t separate one part form the other and that it tastes best as a whole dish. Hope you enjoy!
Wilted Chard

  • 4 oz. Swiss chard leaves, stems removed (4 cups)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice

Zucchini with Spicy Romesco

  • 4 large red bell peppers, chopped (6 cups)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped (3 cups)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ⅛ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup raw almonds
  • ¼ cup raw hazelnuts
  • 4 large zucchini, peeled

1. To make Wilted Chard: Toss together all ingredients in large bowl, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside to marinate.

2. To make Zucchini with Spicy Romesco: Blend bell peppers, tomatoes, oil, lemon juice, garlic, chili powder, and red pepper flakes in food processor until smooth. Add almonds and hazelnuts, and process until well combined but still chunky. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Slice zucchini into noodles with spiral slicer, and add to sauce.

4. Divide Wilted Chard among individual serving plates. Top each serving with 2 cups Zucchini with Spicy Romesco.