Thursday, May 24, 2012

Enter The Brotherhood!

Seitan Bacon Ranch And Margarita Pizza
The Best Of Both Worlds!
     I'm sure he's not English, but we should be looking into knighting or whatever the Long Island equivalent would be (maybe a parade?) for Jay Astafovic. He designed a menu that has quite possibly that best Italian restaurant that I've been too, even the New York Times have noticed. Italian vegan food is one of the most under served cuisine in the vegan world and Three Brothers Pizza Cafe comes out swinging. I've never seen a menu quite like it, pizzas, pastas, entrĂ©es and appetizing appetizers! It's like Philly's Blackbird Pizza but on steroids! 
 Mozzarella Sticks
My First Vegan Mozzarella Stick!
    And good thing, too! The special one and I arrived in the big apple to see Florence and the Machine at Radio City Music Hall with stomachs grumbling and luckily our gracious hosts heard our gurgling stomaches (the kale chips on the plane can only get you so far!) and suggested Three Brothers being that we were already close. They didn't need to say much more than vegan pizza, but we had no idea what we were getting into. Our server didn't either, she stopped taking our order after the pizza, but we keep going! I wanted the Dr Cow aged cheese plate, but unfortunately, they were out. Unless you order it online, Dr Cow doesn't make it out to my neck of the woods so I wanted to give it a try after Vegan Brew's awesome review. I settled for my first mozzarella stick, which usually are more melty inside but were still amazing. As you can see from above, they didn't last long! I had to guard this one just to get a picture!
Baby Spinach Salad    
The Grilled Portobello Makes This Salad
    Of course, we wanted to try everything so we split up to to sample as much as possible and we passed around our plates like communion offerings. Plus, Leftovers, aren't such a bad thing, right? I normally don't like portobellos. Maybe, it's years of crappy restaurants thinking vegans only eat hummus and portobello sandwiches, but this was awesome. The grill marks give it away, but it had this wonderful smoky flavor as well and looks like it was just picked that afternoon. I'm a mushroom believer again! Oh, and it came with a cashew cheese from Dr Cow's. It was a little grainy, but it had a nice funk to it. Now follow me as we march to the pizza! The seitan bacon ranch pizza jumped out at me, but our hosts suggested the Margarita pizza so we did halfsies! Wow, the seitan bacon ranch pizza came out with,maybe an inch or two high piled with toppings. You almost needed a spotter just to lift a slice! Taste wise it had this delicious sweet smokey flavor. The Margarita was the perfect companion with a clean and crisp taste of garlic, tomatoes and mozzarella. I definitely recommend this combination because more tastes are better than one.
Penne Alla Vodka
This Ain't No Ordinary Red Sauce!
     I know you're thinking that's all we ordered, but we kept going. With a bunch of  names like puttanesca, bolognese, scampi and marsala, I had to taste one of the entrees, too. The vodka and pasta as I called it spoke to me so I answered back and ordered it. While it might look like a regular sauce, this was a creamy delicious sauce that's hard to describe. I've never had anything like it, but I know yummy when I taste it! To top things off, you can even add grilled seitan, tofu or bacon to any of the pasta dishes for only $2. I mean how awesome is that. After all that it's hard to get excited for a seitan cheese burger, but it was home made and the french fries were perfect. I'm not sure if they offer dessert or not because we were stuffed and armed with doggie bags. I know you're disappointed in my sweet tooth, but we did manage to hit up Lula's several hours later for a some cake batter ice cream! 
Seitan Cheese Burger
Now That's A Burger!
     There now, can we start to the plans for a ticker tape parade for Mr  Astafovic. I just need another excuse to come back to sample the rest of the menu! Whose with me? 

3 Brothers Pizza Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 21, 2012

An Ode To My Mom: The Beer Can Tofurky!

The Beer Can Tofurky: Texas BBQ Style
Isn't Everything Better With Barbecue Sauce? This Isn't Rhetorical.
     I've heard plenty of horror stories of parents' reaction to them going vegetarian and vegan. Not me, I simply told my mom that I didn't want to eat animals anymore. And poof that was that. Then, a few months later she joined me in going vegetarian and vegan. I had a partner in crime or cuisine, rather! Times were tough. My mom made the best crock pot hot wings, lasagna, mac and cheese and her world famous banana bread. It was a tough life, I know. She inspired my love for cooking, but in an ironic twist she said my recent posts and pictures inspired her to start cooking again. Funny how everything comes around full circle!
     As if her culinary skills weren't enough, my mom has the heart of a giant. Growing up, we also had a house brimming with dogs, cats and other furry friends that my mom took in. My mom even bottle fed a puppy that was rescued from a dog fighting ring. Pretty rad, right? It gets even better as I write this she is helping to dig a well in Ethiopia with Water to Thrive. I know, right? She's a pretty amazing woman! Oh, and she raised me! Thanks for everything, mom!  I Love you! 
     Beer Can Tofurky: Basting
Keeping It Local: Using a Local Beer For The Beer Can Tofurky.
     Not only did she take me on a tour of the finest restaurants in San Antonio (see the posts on Vegeria and Green Vegetarian Cuisine) but she planned on making the beer can tofurky for Easter dinner. The amazing site (and soon to be cookbook "Betty Goes Vegan"), Meet The Shannons blazed the trail first with awesome pictures and directions on how to make this magical classic recipe. So I won't repost the recipe here, but you can find it HERE.
       Ever since Tofurky was sold, I celebrated with the roast every holiday. It made holidays bearable again and blazed a trail of other products to follow. Tofurky/Turtle Island is one of my favorite companies, committed to using non-gmo ingredients, as well as using U.S. grown organic soybeans (from a co-op in texas, no less!), supporting HSUS and being an entirely vegetarian company. Oh, and family owned and operated! Needless to say, I have a soft spot for the company. One of these days, I'll do a post on just their products. However over the years, I've strayed from using the Tofurky roast for holidays and instead tried new items like the Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute, which was awesome. Mainly, because it just sounds fancy, but honestly because it had ginger inside! Ginger wins every time, people! Tofurky is the original though, so I was excited for a new way to jazz up the roast.
 Beer Can Tofurky: After Grilling
Yum! I'm still salivating at this deliciousness! 
          Together, my mom and I started by hollowing it out and then shaping it to the beer can (including a repair job with some tooth picks). Then, we made the marinade and put it on the grill and continued basting every few minutes. I basted the hell out of the thing. I wanted some spice on it! 
Ready For Eating
Chunks O' Tofurky!
     I can only say this: wow! I'm not sure if it was the beer, the grill or the marinade, but it changed the entire texture, like the way steamed seitan tastes different than boiled seitan. The only changed I would've done was to make my own barbeque sauce rather than using the stuff in the bottle. With memorial day coming up, everyone should gives this a whirl. Trust me on this one! Have I let you down before? 
Swiss Chard Frittata
You Say Frittata. I Say Frittato...
     If you weren't convinced from the above information, my mom made this for me for breakfast. She was overwhelmed with the swiss chard coming from her CSA. Something I learned to overcome from last year's summer share with Bell Organic. So I suggested making this gem from Vegan Brunch. Oh, and she made daiya omelets from Vegan Brunch as well, but they were consumed long before someone could grab a camera. Read between the lines, I was stuffing my face, folks. Sorry to let, you down. But I'll make them for another post. So there, it's official, I have an amazing mom! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Green With Envy With Green Restaurant!

Chicken Fried Steak With Kale Salad And Mashed Potatoes
Brown Gravy Is The Key!
     Green is the first restaurant that I got to visit in San Antonio a few years ago so I feel like an expert now.  They've grown since I saw them, too! They have another location in the burbs called Green at Alon as well as one downtown. I didn't make it to the new location this time, but there is always a next time. The first time I visited the downtown location was without a camera, so I returned to document the goodness. The first tip, is make sure to order the kale salad (or something that comes with it). I'm not sure what they put in it, but it might be the best kale I've ever ate. I would eat kale every day if it tasted this good! Apparently, my mom fangled the recipe so hopefully, I'll get to try my hand at making this, especially since my CSA with Bell Organic started back up again.
     My second advice is: get the chicken fried steak. I consider myself a connoisseur of the chicken fried steak. New Jersey's long departed Veggie Works' Singing Cowboy set the bar awfully high and Green's comes the closes. The only thing missing is the all you can eat salad bar! Just to give you an idea of how good it is, my dad who isn't a vegetarian said it's the BEST chicken fried steak in Texas. Not that's a pretty resounding endorsement, right? Unfortunately, my brother ordered it and not me. Good call, brotha! So don't be a rookie like me and try something new. Just get it, even if everyone at the table orders it. Trust me! 
AKA Taquito! The Special Of The Day! 
    What makes Green so special besides the food of course is the friendly staff and owners. While we were perusing the menu, co-owner Mike came up to our table and brought us a taste of the special of the day. Every time I've been there Mike always goes out of his way to make each table feel special. To top it off, while we were leaving Mike gave my mom a $5 off coupon. Thanks, Mike! 
Flautas Plate With Smokey Refried Beans, Mexican Rice And A Side Salad
     I'm a fake meat and potatoes man, so you don't hear this very often, but you have to taste these beans! It might be a bit of liquid smoke but these beans were on fire!
Crispy Fried Pickles

Panko Coated And Deep Fried Goodness! 
     While I was tempted to order the Buffalo wings, I wanted to venture out into the deep uncharted waters so I went for the fried pickles. Something that I've never seen on a menu before. While everyone else at the table gave me the evil eye for considering it, everyone loved them! The panko coating provided a nice crunch and the pickles had a nice vinegary bite that was amazing, especially when dipped into the special poblano sauce that was provided. I even ate the spinach bedding that came with them! Apparently, deep fried pickles is a Texas thing, so this out of stater schooled the locals in some Texas culture! 
CeCe's Stir Fry
Kale And Popcorn Tofu!
     Like I said make sure you get the kale salad, here I didn't make a rookie mistake. The stir fry had an excellent mix of broccoli, peppers and popcorn tofu slathered in a delectable sauce. However, I couldn't stop eying my brother's chicken fried steak. Luckily, I made an arrangement to "sample" some of his, just in case. You know, just to minimize my losses. It's about risk management people. Though, I should've just followed my instincts and just ordered the chicken fried steak as well, but I needed to sample more of the menu. What I won't do for my loyal readers. 
Cupcakes A Plenty!
No, I Didn't Eat Three Cupcakes, But I Wished I Did!
     Another cool thing about Green is that when they ask you if you want dessert, they say would you like to hear about them or should I bring the dessert tray! Ummm, it's pretty awesome when someone comes up to your table with a silver tray filled with desserts. Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. The three flavors are peanut butter cup, lemon ginger and the raspberry almond. I forgot who got what cause I sampled them all. mwwwwhahaha! In a shocking upset, the raspberry almond won. I thought for sure lemon ginger would've but it needed more ginger! 
Kale Healer Smoothie

Cause You Can Never Have Enough Kale!
Green Inside
A Vibrant Atmosphere Inside What Used To Be An Abandoned Bakery!
Green Outside
They Even Have An Herb Garden That They Use!
Out Front
One Of the Many Reasons Why I LOVE This
Place. This Banner Out Front!

     Japanese Tea Garden
     Now if you're still with me, I know it's a rather long post. Here is my final tip. Go visit the Japanese Tea Garden. It's a short five-ten minute drive from Green, but it's worth it. Hands down it's the coolest attraction that I've been to. It blows away the River Walk and the Allamo. I've never been to anything quite like it and it's the gem of San Antonio. So without saying much more, I'll just post some pictures. 
More Koi
A Stone Tent

Trickling Water Fall
THE Coolest Bridge

Green Vegetarian Cuisine on Urbanspoon