Sunday, July 10, 2011

eat, drink, and be merry

...for tomorrow, we die.  Or go back to work.  Same thing.

All kidding aside (who's kidding?), I had such a delightful weekend, I am both dwelling on each moment and regretting that it all ends when I go to sleep tonight.  Each day has adventures of its own, so we'll keep a positive outlook, shall we?  Probably the best way to guide you through my fabulous weekend is another picture parade, with me popping in from time to time to share a fun story.  Let the good times commence!

There has been a lot of good eating going on lately.  I snapped the above picture while having a surprise lunch with my dad.  I surprised him by being in center city mid-day on Thursday, so we went to Farmicia for a nice little lunch.  Although I was tempted by the Hummus and Avocado Sandwich, I ended up getting the Tres Tamales, which was three (no, really?) perfectly sized tamales, stuffed with their vegan chorizo and "vegetables" (which appeared to actually just be diced chili peppers).  I love how the tamales came in a Tv Dinner-like tray-plate.  In the leftmost top were scrumptious refried black beans.  In the middle was a very spicy salsa roja, and on the right was a pickled cactus salad.  Being an adult, I tried the pickled cactus, even though every cell in my body was saying, "No...I don't think that's a good idea..."  It wasn't, but I chewed up one piece and swallowed, satisfying my need to be adult and classy.  Then I chased it with a nice swig from my celebratory peach fizz (peach nectar + cava).  Dad enjoyed a Crab Cake on Brioche that was thick enough he decided it would be in better taste and manners to make it a fork-n-knife sandwich, rather than trying to unsacrimoniously shovel it all into his mouth.

This bit of my breakfast was part of a super-awesome discovery just before I left the produce section of Whole Foods last week: Mango Nectarines.  Interesting flavor - they look like a champagne mango with their yellow-pale green skin, but they taste more like a nectarine.

Speaking of Whole Foods, I think I'm falling in love with Trader Joe's.  We'll recall that the logistics of my first journey out there were probably not ideal for making me put it on my list of places that I regularly shop.  However, yesterday, I got done teaching a bit later than I wanted to and in order to redeem the day (because teaching someone how to make music isn't fulfilling enough :P), I decided to get off the train at Suburban Station instead of Market East.  Trader Joe's is just a few short blocks from the stairway from subterranean to the city surface, so I decided to take my chances on the buses running more frequently on a Saturday (they do).

I got all these veggies for only $19.95:

  • 2 zucchini 
  • a cucumber 
  • 3 shallots 
  • 2 garlics 
  • 2 limes 
  • 1 lb bag of lemons 
  • 7oz arugula 
  • a bag of snow peas 
  • a bag of broccoli florets 
  • a bag of shredded cabbage 
  • a red pepper 
  • an orange pepper 
  • and a quart of vegetable broth
as a result, I saved about $15 total for this week's grocery bill, which is pretty significant considering this menu has seven dinners, not 5 or 6 like normal.  Also, this came in handy when I went to Superfresh and discovered that ThePowersThatBe have decided that consumers were getting their canned beans for a steal, so in the one week between the last time I shopped there and yesterday, they felt justified in increasing the price of beans 32 cents.  

When you're talking about beans, that's a serious number.   I mean, really - $1.19 for a 15oz can of chickpeas?  I guess it could be worse... they're still 80 cents more expensive than that at Whole Foods.  

Anyway, I ended up making the least expensive meal last night, primarily because I wanted to use up my Tofurky sausage and leftover Coconut Rice before something bad conspired between them in the fridge. The only thing I needed to buy for Stewed Lentils with Soy Sausage from Vegan Express was a can of tomatoes.

I heated up the leftover Coconut Rice from our Jerk Seitan the other night, but there really wasn't quite enough leftover to match the volume of the stewed lentils.  In the future, I think we'll need twice as much rice and I probably could have used more than 1 cup of diced tomatoes, too.  The 2 sausages instead of four, though, was right on.

After dinner, since it was Saturday and all, I made myself a little cocktail:

Pineapple Malibu Rum + 100% Papaya nectar + Lime Perrier
Speaking of fruity cocktails, Mister and I had brunch with my parents today (this appears to be turning into a monthly event) and while Mister and Mom stuck to French press coffee, Dad and I decided to celebrate the true nature of brunch: an excuse to drink frilly cocktails way too early in the day.

Closer to the camera is my beverage, April in Paris (st. germaine elderflower liquer + white wine + champagne).  I felt a little silly ordering it, with all that flowery name and whatnot, but I needn't have felt that way since my dad followed up by ordering a Ruby Slipper (absolut ruby red vodka + lime juice + triple sec + cranberry juice + champagne) which is the pretty pink drink further from the camera (and close to my father).

The menu at Valanni is pretty diverse and full of tasty-looking things beyond their fruitilicious cocktails (now might be a good - or damning - moment to point out that Valanni is a fabulously trendy hotspot in the heart of Philadelphia's "gayborhood").  I decided to get Cinnamon French Toast with a citrus glaze and vanilla-maple syrup, sprinkled with pecans and dried curants.  I had no idea how thick the bread would be!

For my savory side, I also ordered Roasted Potatoes which required me to ask our [very nice] server for salt - apparently the cook isn't a fan.  Roasted anything should always involve salt.  I guess you have to play it safe, though, when you're cooking for a bunch of strangers who may or may not have hypertension.

The purpose of my parents' visit was to bring me gifts from afar - Arizona, to be more specific.  The last time we had brunch with them was right before they left to visit my sister, so today was the "now we're home and we have presents" phase of brunch.  Oh, and also because we love each other.

Anyway, there were two big special presents that provoked the visit.  The first is this amazing handmade bowl:

The creator is Michael Nowack, a now-local artisan.  To my surprise, it is both microwave- and dishwasher-safe!  Add that to gorgeous and we have a winner!

Because my parents love my husband more than me, they also gave us two hot sauces and a grill spice mix that contains not just one kind of hot pepper - no, there are five chilies in that mix.  The pain they are clearly trying to inflict upon me, though, was balanced out by the sweetness of the other special gift.

This is Mesquite Flour.  I saw some in Essene yesterday, so it's comforting to know where I can get more if I need it, but this is "special" mesquite flour.  My sister, apparently an earth mother, plucked the pods from her very own mesquite tree and pounded them into this flour all by herself.

You know what they say: You can take the girl out of Africa, but you can't take Africa out of the girl.

Once we'd digested brunch and finished up any last-minute errands that needed running on the weekend, I made dinner.

This image just brings joy to my heart in that welling-over kind of way.  Doesn't that look tasty?  Hearty? Savory?  It doesn't hurt that it's also an attractive color combination, but anticipating the taste makes me want to drool even now.

I served up Pasta E Fagioli from Veganomicon with a delightful mixture of olives and the last of my Apothic Red.  I'm finishing the wine with a few squares of my dark Belgian chocolate from Trader Joe's (and kicking myself a little for not picking up another three bar set while I was there yesterday).

Farewell, Weekend, until we meet again!


  1. Maybe my whole foods is different, but canned, non-organic beans are only $0.89 at Whole Foods...and Trader Joe's. I've never seen organic canned beans for under $1.50 though, except at Kroger. I try to not buy canned beans because dried ones end up tasting better, but they just aren't as convenient and if I want to eat healthy in a hurry; I have to keep canned beans. Have you checked out how cheap they are at Target? It's weird, but they have seriously cheap canned goods. Now Frank's hot sauce is expensive!
    p.s. your blog doesn't let wordpress users leave comments for some reason. I have this issue on some blogger accounts, but not on most.

  2. Thanks, Lacey - I'll check out Whole Foods - I was probably looking at the organic beans and there are some things I just don't think need to be organic :)

    I'm sorry you're having trouble leaving comments - I will look into my settings and see if there is something I can enable to make it easier for you (and others, I'm sure).