30 August 2015

Send Me Gluten Free

30 August 2015 0
I was given the opportunity to review Send Me Gluten Free's subscription box. When the box finally came, it was like Christmas morning for me. I wasn't sure what would be included in the box, but whatever it was - I knew I would be excited!

I opened the inviting, brightly-colored orange box to find lots of presents! :)

If you decide that particular month, you don't love the product offering, there are always the massive amount of coupons (some even offering free full-priced items) to find plenty more gluten safe items for yourself or the ones you love.

In this particular month's box, I found Kickers' All Natural Powdered Fruit Blends, Maple Banana Cream flavor. While Kicker's products contain dairy, I had to rely on a friend to review this product for me.

My friend has actually been looking for a healthy sweetener to add to her oatmeal each morning and figured why not give this a try! She enjoyed the product, stating it allowed her to add the amount of sweetness she was desiring without overwhelming her oatmeal or giving her a sugar crash in a coupe of hours.

This is a product she will likely purchase again and perhaps even try the other flavor varieties.

Lucky me, the next product I came across was Justin's Nut Butters and we all know how much I love nut butters, let alone convenient travel packs! These I do not share, but rather I devour in moments! The only negative with Justin's is the added oil. Whamp Whamp Whamp.

Now, I had Beanful Bean & Rice Chips included in this box, but I had a couple non-gluten free eaters gobble these up before I could try them. Clearly, they were loved - and who does not LOVE Nacho, but I am interested in their Pico De Gallo variety.

Keenwah now has a line of Quinoa Puffs out and I was sad to see they included the Aged Cheddar Puffs, the only non-vegan variety - so I tossed these to my sister - who LOVED these. I have to admit, I did smell them and they smelled legit. I will be looking to purchase one of the other varieties myself, I'm really looking forward to the Herbs de Provence or the Sweet Chili

There was also a bag of Glutino's Pretzels, which I ended up forcing a non-gluten free eater to try these because every gluten free individual I know either does not like the pretzels and / or can't eat soy so these were a loss.

ZOUQ's Spicy Trail Mix was also included, in fact, three bags had been included. Love the idea of these because they are easy to grab and go or leave in my car for emergency needs, so how was the taste - eh, not what I was expecting - because I have never had another product like this to compare to, but I actually really enjoyed them and the fact that they are truly made from healthy, wholesome ingredients.

Ah - another love of my life, Go Raw's Sunflower seeds. Legit, it is Sunflower seeds and sea salt - these are probably my favorite find in the box!

The Yummy Health Peppermint Snack bar is another product I needed to give away due to the ingredients.  I was truly disappointed especially when I was told it was the BEST snack bar she had ever had and that it tasted like a mix of a peppermint patty and an almond joy.

One of the last products included in this month's box was a Smooze Fruit Ice. Simple review of this, amazing!

19 August 2015

Plant Based Bachelorette Party in Philadelphia PA

19 August 2015 0
As Maid of Honor, We are tasked with a huge responsibility to toss an unforgettable bachelorette party. To some, this might be a stressful experience, for me, I welcome the challenge. ;)

This is an opportunity for me to select a restaurant where I can eat, yet others will also enjoy. So often.

I did a lot of searching, high-and-low, to come up with a couple of options within the Philly area. I have to say, I spoke with a number of local establishments and most either wanted to charge an arm- and-a-leg or they did not have the availability to accommodate us.

For some reason, I never considered one of my new favorite plant-based restaurant in Philly, P.S & Co. I went to their website and noticed they had one of their weekly dinner events scheduled for my date and figured it might be nice to take advantage of this event. I quickly contacted P.S &Co and asked if they would be willing to close this event to our bachelorette party.

P.S & Co. responded back in a very quick manner and not only confirmed that they could close the restaurant to us, but they could offer their private backyard garden along with a unique preset menu - customized to the bride-to-be's taste.

Keep in mind, I am still a bit weary about introducing everyone to a plant-based diet, but said, heck, why not - I did have Nick there before and he actually enjoyed it, so if we have his approval, we should be golden!

P.S & Co. worked their magic and kept me in the conversation loop. Once everything was confirmed all we had to do was wait for the day to arrive - which is harder than it seems when you are trying to keep a secret from your twin!

The day came, the bride was definitely surprised, now would she like the plant-based menu?!

We found our way to the table to notice that each place setting had a cute personalized menu with a hand signed, best wishes from Andrea, the owner of P.S & Co.

Our first dish of the evening was a plant based take on a heirloom caprese salad.

Initial thought from the group was the presentation was beautiful! Now, how did it taste? That my friend is an easy answer, because in a matter of moments, these babies had been devoured by 11 hungry girls! Not a tomato seed left behind!

The ingredients were fresh, the design was clean, and the cashew cheeze was the perfect addition.

Second course of the evening was one of my favorite, the focaccia with olives, capers, and roasted tomato.

I honestly could not get enough of this one! I found myself craving this throughout the night and again the following day! Being a gluten free vegan, it can be difficult to find good bread - but we could smell this baby cooking while we engaged in conversation on the patio and when it came out, it was even better than what we had been anticipating. While most guests noted it was a bit on the heavy side, I loved it! Looking for P.S & Co to share the recipe....maybe.... Okay, a girl can be wishful!

Moving to our third course, the broccoli strascinati. This one was our groups favorite dish and my least favorite - maybe because I always have greens - I'm not sure, it isn't that it was not good - but it did not wow me like the rest of the dishes!

But to reiterate, this was the dish the rest of the girls bragged about the remainder of the evening!

Now to our main dish, the sweet potato gnocchi with a pistachio pesto.

This is the second dish that I toss between my favorite of the night.

I was worried that it being "gnocci" it would be too heavy, but instead it was light and airy.

Flavor was clearly derived from it's fresh ingredients, and the texture was smooth. I found myself wanting a larger portion, but than again, I am a fat kid at heart and would have eaten the entire batch if given the opportunity!

Lastly, the bride's favorite dessert, Tiramisu.

While we all agreed, it did not exactly taste like Tiramisu, it was still very good! It was smooth with a nice crunch to it! Something we would all order again - just not call it Tiramisu.

Since I am not typically a dessert person, this did not make it to my favorite list  - but really, it can't compare with the focaccia and gnocci dish! Really!? Clearly, I am Italian!

In prior communications, we had discussed that the menu would have also included an eggplant caponata with additional fresh bread - but somehow we lost that ---- whamp whamp whamp!!!

Our service of the night was impeccable -Steve, pulled off an amazing event and I can not wait to book more events in the future. I will be recommending to all that P.S & Co is a great event venue and not just for those who eat plant-based. My group of 10 girls, who are not plant-based, all LOVED the food and we found ourselves wondering back the next day for brunch!

While I must say, brunch was in no way the experience we had the night before, it was still enjoyed - but service was slow, the pancakes sizes was much smaller than I had anticipated, food was served cold and the flavor was not up to what I had hoped for...maybe this is because I was still missing the foccia from the night before....

While pricing is a bit on the high end - we do need to all keep in mind that P.S & Co only uses fresh ingredients!

I am sure I will return again soon, I just hope that my next in-store visit is a better experience than our brunch.

Thank you P.S & Co team!

16 July 2015

Cauliflower Rice

16 July 2015 0
It's my favorite time of year - fresh product galore! My dad has his connections at the Farmer's Market and you just never know what he will find and bring home in bulk.

This time around - we have a bulk supply of cauliflower, so expect to see a number of cauliflower recipes in the next few blog posts.

For today's lunch I tossed together a quick version of cauliflower rice.

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Ginger
  • Tomato
  • Green beans
  • Carrot
  • Cayenne
  • Cinnamon
  • Curry Powder
  • Cumin Powder
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemon Zest
  • Apple Cider Vinegar


Process:
  • Grate the cauliflower. You can do this with a cheese grater, food processor, or even a blender
  • Chop some celery and place it with the cauliflower. 
  • Chop remaining vegetables and add them to a saute pan.
  • Mix in your desired amount of spices
  • Once the vegetables are al dente, toss in the cauliflower rice and celery. Mix for a minute or two and then toss a little fresh basil on top. 
  • Enjoy! 


Trying New Things

What is the best part of a Farmer's Market? The opportunity to explore and try new things! So long as the items are gluten free and at a minimum vegetarian - I am more than happy to try them out!

On one of my recent Farmer's Market adventures - I found a product called Malanga. There was very little information on these babies - just that some other customer told the seller that they resembled a potato and one would cook them by any means you would cook a potato.

I love potatoes - Japanese or White Sweet Potatoes being my favorite, but I enjoy them all! So why not give these Malangas a try.

I did a little research - but figured eh - I'll wing it. So I steamed these little guys up - skin and all and I LOVED them! They taste almost nutty like - have the texture very similar to that of a potato - and apparently are a great hypo-allergenic food! Win-Win!

14 July 2015

Bhakti Lounge, Canada Does Gluten Free & Vegan

14 July 2015 0
Lucky me, the Toronto Raw Food and Vegan festival happened to coincide with my scheduled visit to Toronto! Cherry on top of that - I was able to talk my sisters and aunt into joining me! :D

I was not 100% certain what we were getting into - as when we pulled up it looked much smaller than I anticipated and was tucked away in a small church-like building.

Oh well - we drive here, so minds well check in out, right?

Well we walked around the entire place - snacking on pretty much everything! Then I couldn't help by envy everyone that was walking by me with a heaping plate of yummy food! I finally located the source and double checked that it was also gluten free and I ordered my plate of what I had hoped would be just as delicious as it looked.

I don't remember exactly what I ate, but I remember it being my favorite meal the entire visit! The rice was cooked to perfection- the chickpeas seasoned just right, and the dressing on the salad was to die for! So who is responsible for this utmost perfect meal you ask? Bhakti Lounge!

Bhakti - feel free to share the recipes :) And you can be certain I will be back to visit next time I am in the neighborhood - maybe even get lucky enough to attend a cooking class!

Who said you can't make a health meal quickly?

Need a couple of ideas for a quick healthy meal in a flash?
Here is one of my new favorites. I made some zucchini noodles - tossed them with some homemade hot sauce, a steamed zucchini, apple cider vinegar, and garlic. 
I mixed that all together and then grated some cauliflower mixed with some turmeric and nutritional yeast (aka my "cheese") 


 So while everyone else was enjoying their pasta - I quickly made mine and I have to say - everyone was a bit jealous!

This dish took me MAYBE 15 minutes to make!
Need another idea?

Zucchini noodles with pesto, homemade hot sauce, and steamed vegetables.

The pesto was made with carrot tops, garlic, water, black pepper, apple cider vinegar, and red pepper.

Make Shift Work Lunch

It was one of those mornings that I did not feel like pre-packing a lunch. So I do what I do best - I tossed a little bit of this and a little bit of that into my lunch bag and said, "Looks like I will be getting creative later."

I made a nice side salad and found some homemade hot sauce I had left in the work fridge and then I made some nori vegetable wraps!

What a great lunch! Maybe I should force myself to be more creative on a regular basis!

09 July 2015

My Obsession with Cauliflower

09 July 2015 0
I have always loved cauliflower - but recently I have been experimenting more and more with different recipes with the cauliflower and I have become obsessed!

 I have tried cauliflower rice with some tumeric, mint and lemon - which turns out, is one of the bigger pains (only because it gets messy ) to make but one of my favorites.
I have also done the ever simple cauliflower steak. I simply marinated the "steak" in a ton of seasonings and then steamed it. 

Lastly, this week's Co-Op brought rainbow carrots with lushes rainbow carrot tops - so of course I made a vegan pesto! I steamed the rainbow carrots and placed a cauliflower steak on top dressed in a carrot top pesto - FABULOUS!

The pesto was very simple ingredients:
-Apple Cider Vinegar
-Carrot Tops
-Garlic
-Lemon
-Black Pepper
-Hot pepper of your choice
-Tumeric
-Red peper

Having Fun in the City

I dug this old picture out and had to share. This picture was from a winter adventure I took through the Asian Markets in Philadelphia, PA.

Can you believe the size of that gorgeous Japanese Sweet Potato? Might I note, this was not even the largest potato of the group!

I keep telling myself I will return to the city, now that it is warmer and more enjoyable to walk, to find some additional wonderful ethnic finds!

07 July 2015

Raw Can Roll Review

07 July 2015 0
I have enjoyed food from Raw Can Roll a number of times in the past. Glad to see that appear to be a bit busier these days - but does this "busyness" take away from their quality?

On a recent work team outing, I ordered from Raw Can Roll and I have to say, my dish was fine - but my coworkers were missing utensils, had small servings, freezing cold cooked dishes, and additional negative comments.

It's sad because it is hard to get people to go out of their fast-food comfort zones and to try new things and when you finally succeed in getting people to try the healthier option, they find themselves unsatisfied and likely to never try again.

While I appreciate the new menu and addition of cooked foods - I don't like how small some of the servings are now. The recently ordered pad-thai has shrunk drastically in size, and still costs just about the same as it did in the past - what happened?!?

My spring rolls came with a small side salad and was rather delicious - as I actually asked for a dressing of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice and a side of hot sauce!


01 July 2015

A Visit Back To Kensington Cornerstone

01 July 2015 0
It's been a couple years since my last trip to Kensington Cornerstone but I could not wait to revisit! Not only did I remember the place its self being an experience, but the food as well. I thought back on that visit and recalled that all our our dinners guests (most of which are not gluten free) pinned this meal as their favorite meal of the trip.

We arrived back to Kensington on a rainy day and tried to find our same spot that we had last visit. I noticed, the round, more communal tables had been replaced with long rectangle tables - which already made the visit less intimate than the past.

The menu had been completely revamped and I have to but my vote in and say, this change was not for the best. Our favorite appetizer board which had meats, cheese, nuts, etc was missing!
The menu seemed to have less character  - so it took us all some time to review and decide what we would select.

Finally, decisions were made. I went with the quiona burger and I substituted the side salad with the three-bean salad.

In whole, the meal was not a bad choice - but it all tasted like it was store bought and no love and character was here. Complete disappointment!

My sister and uncle went with the fish and chips. Which they seemed to enjoy - but noted they were not the same great taste that they remember them being.

I hope that the new menu does in fact workout for Kensington, but I personally was not satisfied and not sure I will be returning. Thanks for the great memories.




29 June 2015

Main Line Pizza - Accommodating to Food Allergies

29 June 2015 0
Sometimes office lunches can be a real pain -
A. it is costly,
B. I want healthy food and
C. It is hard to find someone who can accommodate all of my allergies.

However, sometimes I look ungrateful and almost stuck up when I am not ordering along with everyone else.

This time around, I did decide to join the group and order in. I went with Main Line Pizza in Wayne, PA. I took a look at their menu and saw they have a number of gluten free items! However, I was looking for something gluten free and vegan! I gave Main Line Pizza a call and asked if they could create an off-menu salad.

The Main Line Pizza team whipped up a nice side salad with olives, lemon juice, loads of veggies and lots of love! I have to say this was a healthy and Nicole' Friendly meal!

Thank you Main Line Pizza!

26 May 2015

Cork & Cap Cork Factory, Lancaster PA

26 May 2015 0
I attended a wedding for a long-time friend of mine this past holiday weekend. The selected venue was the Cork Factory, in Lancaster, PA.

With most social events, I dread the food options, or the lack there of.
The reception started with a cocktail hour, that of which, because I was one of the first in line, I felt confident enough to indulge a little (vegetable sticks, fruit, tea, etc).

Then dinner came along and I was given a gluten free and vegan salad - while it was extremely PLAIN - it did the job.

The main course came out and I have to say, at first glance, it was much better than I anticipated. The taste, the taste was on the bland side - but it was gluten-free and vegan!

I was able to enjoy the sorbet in between dishes as well as, when the remainder of the guests enjoyed their cake and cookies, I was given a personal sorbet dessert.

I really appreciated the attention
to detail and the ease of eating!

I will definitely check the restaurant out on my own time - as they are clearly able to execute - I just need them to add a little more flavor to the main course.


19 May 2015

Founding Farmers, DC does Gluten Free

19 May 2015 0
How exciting, the little sister is all done with College and ready to move into the Big-Girl world! I couldn't be more proud of her!

I took a day off from work to help her get situated with the new area, meet-and-greet her new coworkers and start looking for an "affordable" place to live.

I figured I would just wing lunch, as I was pretty sure 95% of D.C's restaurants would be able to accommodate at least my gluten free needs if not my vegan ways as well.

As we were in the city, I asked for a couple of recommendations and the winning vote when to Founding Farmers.

We got there pretty early for lunch, closer to 11 and thought we would be okay. They quoted us a 45-minute wait so, we made ourselves comfy and just hung out - enjoyed one another's company.

It was only about 20, maybe 30 minutes and our party was called to be seated. Score!

The waiter came over, introduced himself and I quickly asked about gluten-free option on their meatless section. The waiter was, in my opinion, somewhat rude on this subject and did not want to discuss options with the chef. Finally, after I nicely asked about 10 times, he asked the chef what he would be willing to do. There was clearly no room to "play" with the menu here and for the chef to show his / her true talents - what a shame.

He greed to make the cauliflower steak with a side of the smoked tofu (with a $4.00 up-charge).

While the taste was okay - the smokey broccolini was probably my favorite. The tofu was an extremely small portion, especially considering they charged me an additional $4.00 - and then you have the cauliflower, which I considered to be a very SMALL portion for a meal and I was disappointed in the taste. By the end of the meal, I felt like I was just eating mush.


I have made cauliflower steak a number of times and this was just not the way to do so. I also ordered an over-priced fermented vegetable dish which somehow managed to only arrive at my table after all the other dishes had been completed (note, I had to ask about the pickled vegetables a good five times).

Overall, the place is over-priced, which I wouldn't mind paying if the taste and service were up to par.
What a shame - a farm-to-table let down.



11 May 2015

Harrison's Wine Grill and Catering Does Gluten Free and Vegan

11 May 2015 0
Believe it or not, the final baby in the family is no longer a baby - she has officially graduated from PSU this past weekend with her Bachelore's in Business. I couldn't be more proud of her!

Of course we had to celebrate! I did some google searching and fingers were crossed (even my toes) to try and find a restaurant that was not already booked.

Lucky us, her graduation day was on Sunday morning so most of the festivities occurred the day before.

I did find a locally sources restaurant, not too far away that seemed to have some good reviews, Harrison's Wine Grill & Catering. Making reservations was a breeze!

Now, how easy would it be to get something other than plain steamed vegetables here?!

I made a point to contact the event coordinator, Angela, personally. We had a brief phone discussion and then a follow up email to confirm she would be able to provide something that was very little oil, had a protein, was gluten free, vegan, corn free, and oh mushroom free.

Angela and I had a good conversation back-and-forth that really showed me her and her chefs were using their creativity to develop a worthy dish.

When I arrived on Sunday, the entire team was very welcoming and of course made the point to review my allergies.

When food came out, the dish was visually appealing and I have to say, the entire table smelled wonderful.

I took a bit into my greens, steamed vegetables, and olives / caper salsa. I have to say - I could tell the ingredients were fresh, but I was disappointed in the lack of flavor - which seemed to be the census of the entire table.

Would I venture to Harrison's again, probably not - but I did really appreciate their willingness to provide a very accommodating dish!




31 March 2015

Bistro St. Tropez: A Food Allergy's Most Accommodating Philadelphia Restaurant

31 March 2015 0
As someone who lives with a number of highly sensitive food allergies, it can be terrifying to have to attend events hosted by others. This past weekend, I fell into one of those traps- I had accepted to attend a bachelorette party for a good friend that I have known since grade-school.

When the restaurant of choice was announced, I read the invitation, "Bistro St. Tropez, who? what? when? where? why?" Even though I consider myself a bit of an expert on the Philadelphia restaurant scene, and prior to this invite, I had never heard of Bistro St. Tropez - which in my mind was an equivalent to trouble!

I quickly Googled "Bistro St. Tropez" and read some reviews, researched the menu and did all the digging I possibly could.

Since it was late at night, I decided to send the restaurant a Facebook message to see if they would be able to accommodate my food allergies, or would it be alright if I brought something?

While I had to do a phone follow up call, I could tell this experience was sure going to be a special one at that!

The event manager had read the message and was taking the time to speak with her head chef Patrice. She then followed up with, "we really don't want to provide you a simple dish you can make at home, we want to provide you with an experience, and a memorable one at that". My heart melt - we are a large and potentially a little chaotic of a group coming into your establishment and you are taking the time to ensure I have an outstanding experience. Truly touched.

Anyhow, enough heart-felt here. The day of the dinner, the chef himself called me multiple times to discuss what he was thinking and to ensure I would be alright with each ingredient as well as each cooking method.

Upon arrival - the chef came out and asked which attendee was Nicole, "that would be me!" and he quickly reassured me that everything was set for tonight and that I was not to worry.

When the dishes came out, mine was served first and then the remainder of the group was served around my plate and never over my plate, in efforts to avoid cross-contamination. More bonus points for Bistro St. Tropez!

For the true test, how was the taste? It was good - the rice was cooked with a little crunch but still had that creaminess to it. I could take the fresh kale and basil and truly enjoyed the touch of spice!

While words can not do my appreciation justice, Bistro St. Tropez, you officially have a new fan in the house - expect to see me again to uncover another fabulous mystery, allergy-free meal by your finest chef in the Philadelphia area.

P.S the restaurant is a little hard to location, but the maze is worth the service, food, and the amazing view of the river.

16 March 2015

Traveling for Work on a Gluten Free Vegan Diet is Not Impossible

16 March 2015 0
While traveling with food allergies might be a pain - it is not impossible.

Here is an example of my most recent work travels

Location, Inner Harbor, MD at the beautiful Gaylord Convention Center.

Breakfast, I bulked up on fruit and tea! There was fresh cut fruit at the beginning of the buffet stations, I made sure I was there EARLY and was one of the first to grab the fruit. While I really do not make it a habit to combine melons with any other fruits, a girl has to eat!

Additionally, for breakfast, I actually "spoiled" myself and had some roasted potatoes with hot sauce and chives. I don't typically start my day with potatoes, as they tend to wear me down, but again, a girls got to eat!

The best part about the tea stations was that there was always fresh lemon and I could still start my day with a cup of warm lemon water. Then, as I brought to-go containers, I was able to eat my breakfast at a later time... I know, I looked like a homeless girl scrounging for food - but I know what makes me feel good and what upsets my stomach and when breakfast is only offered at certain times, you need to get creative and not worry what others might think.

Break Stations, for the most part, I avoided these snack sessions. For one, I didn't need the additional food and it was typically not a GF-Vegan friendly offering. However, I must say, the one day, they did provide a green juice, which I enjoyed and found myself annoyed they hadn't been offering the green juice for breakfasts.

Lunch, lunch varied slightly from day-to-day but for the most part there was greens of some sort and then grilled / sauteed vegetables. While I would have preferred steamed vegetables, I can't be too choosy. I would ask the waitstaff to bring me some mustard and hot sauce to add a little flavor to the dish

Afternoon Break Stations, I LOVED these stations - this is where I would bulk up on fruit (oranges, apples, pears, bananas).

Dinner, Dinner I skipped their offerings and stuck to a fruit salad or oatmeal in my room

Keep in mind, when you have to eat buffet, try to be one of the first ones there!!!

While my stomach was not the happiest it has ever been - there was food for me to eat and I did survive!


18 February 2015

Raw Almond Butter

18 February 2015 0

05 February 2015

Banana Whip Perfection

05 February 2015 0
I am beyond obsessed with Banana Whips! Honestly, they make for a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Banana Whips taste just like ice cream - and if you don't like bananas or the typical banana-flavor, you are in luck because you can't taste the banana at all!

These babies, are 100% customizable. You can add carob, berries, pineapple, mangoes, beets, mint, anything and everything you enjoy about ice cream without the guilt!

I feel that I have finally perfected the recipe, although I do like to try new things and switch the flavors up here and there...I find my body / digestive system is taking very well to banana whips so I have had plenty of opportunities to practice!

I pull out the Vitamix, toss some chopped ginger in the bottom (this way it has time to puree) - next, I move onto the cranberries and a piece or two of mango, then about three frozen bananas, cinnamon, and carob powder -- Tada, that is it!

Now turn the Vitamix on and use the tamper to push everything down. Once the mixture begins to whip itself you are good to go. Just scoop everything out, add some soapy water into your Vitamix container and place it back on the base, so that it can clean itself.

It's that easy. Toss everything into a container, turn it on, mush it around, scoop it out, put some soapy water into it, run it again, rinse, and enjoy a quick snack, or meal, that is healthy for you!





03 February 2015

Simply Shabu

03 February 2015 0
Simply Shabu is the one and only hot pot in Philadelphia! I had never been to a hot pot before and I wasn't entirely sure how they worked, but I thought it would make for an interesting adventure! Upon arrival, I did my research and double checked they could accommodate gluten free and I was impressed to hear that more than 95% of their menu was naturally gluten free!

When we arrived, we were greeted by the friendly staff and seated early! We ordered a couple of appetizers and a pot of tea to share with the table. The tea was okay - not sure what type of tea it was, but it wasn't a table favorite and I found it odd, they filled out classes and then removed the tea pot from the table - I like
to have control over my own hot tea, thank you very much!

After looking at the many of options on the menu, I decided to go with some a' la carte options.
I went with the spicy broth, vegetable bowl (substituting out the corn and mushrooms), seaweed, daikon, taro, and lotus root.

Once you place the order, your filings start to trickle out pretty rapidly. Not knowing what we were doing, I just started dumping everything in. I have since learned, some things need a longer time to cook than others....hey, practice makes perfect!

Overall, everyone enjoyed the experience. Flavor wise, I wish I would have had a bit more spice in my broth, however, adding some additional garlic did help and my seaweed made the dish!

Experience wise, the staff seemed to be a bit of the short side, I didn't like that they held onto our tea but pricing was very reasonable and the food was fresh!

01 February 2015

Cooking with P.S and Co Philadelphia

01 February 2015 0
Since P.S and Co opened it's doors back in the spring of 2014 - I have had my eye on this place.

I have tried to drag just about anyone into the city with me - but I had no luck - life got busy and I had to just put it to the back burner for now. Then came along my birthday and it happened to fall on one of P.S and Co's dinner nights - however, Nick informed me that we could definitely go, as it was my birthday and whatever I wanted, he would gladly oblige, but he made it very clear that he would go, but would not eat the dinner. His reasoning you ask, simple answer - there is no meat.

Needless to say, the birthday dinner at the long-awaited P.S and Co became the wait-even-longer for the P.S and Co experience. I kept on hunting for an excuse to drag someone with me and then came along noodles and dumplings cooking class - hmmm....sneaky me... I immediately think, Nick might actually go for this one - two of his favorite dishes, noodles + dumplings, I am pretty sure I can sell him on this one. Just in case that doesn't work, I have looped in a good friend to attend and BOOM - I won, everyone was in - we were scheduled to attend the Noodles and Dumplings Cooking class at the long awaited P.S and Co.

The day has arrived - will I find myself, as usual, very high-hoped to only be let down by unhealthy and tasteless food? Come join me for journey with P.S and Co to find out if they are worth the hype or not.

We arrived slightly early for our scheduled class, so we just took our time finding parking (oh Philly parking - how I have a love, hate...oh wait... just a hate relationship with you) and then meandered throughout the store checking out their to-go offerings, fresh pressed juices, and homemade spices. The space has a welcoming industrial-like feeling to it with a friendly staff!

Once our class was setup, we found our way to the table and welcomed the offering of a warm beverage, as they seem to keep the space on the slightly cold side.

Now, we knew we had signed up for noodles and dumplings, but what we did not know was exactly what we would be making - and I was still a little nervous to see how Nick would handle the 100% gluten free and plant-based menu.

Here goes nothing - we are diving right into Dan Dan noodles - which I LOVE! Andrea took us through each step and welcomed any questions throughout the process. The entire cooking class was around the theme of "You can do this, everyone here can find the time to make healthy and delicious meals". Which is true, with a little prep work and creativity - everyone has the power to make their own beloved food. The Dan Dan noodles hold a nice spice in the back of your throat but the creamy tahini slowly masks the
spice and adds another flavor profile to the dish.

Moving on to our next noodle dish, Cilantro Noodle Salad. This dish was a cold brown rice noodle salad and I have to say, although I couldn't pick out a favorite dish of the day, later
that night I was craving the light freshness of this dish and telling myself that I could probably eat it every day! I''m sure the house made caramelized tofu was part of that love... adding another project to the diy list!

Finally, we made it to the Vegetable Dumplings that Nick was long awaiting. The filing from the dumplings was recycled from the Cilantro Noodles, making it easy to meal prep for your weeks!

While the dumplings did exactly what I thought they would, being a brown rice wrap, the bottoms fell apart - but I think I work on this a tweek it a bit... either way, the group LOVED the dumplings and began brainstorming some additional dumpling ideas. Side note, the dumplings where not served with a sauce, we were on the creative side and soaked up the last of the Dan Dan Noodle sauce - perfect accompaniment.

Just when I thought we had completed our cooking class, we were moving onto some additional favorite comfort foods of mine, Basil Pesto, Lasagna, and Mac and Cheese.

The Basil Pesto consisted mainly of pine nuts and basil, but I felt it need more. Perhaps the missing component of the pesto dish was some additional garlic or maybe it was that it was missing the acidic aspect of this dish - where was the lemon? However, once the Arrabbiatta sauce was added ,I was a happy camper! I can't wait to try making this dish when tomatoes are in season!

Lastly, due to timing, we skipped over the lasagna and went right into the Mac and Cheese demo. The Mac and Cheese was made of the three main vegan Mac and Cheese variations: Sweet Potato, Cauliflower, and Cashews. The dish was not very mac and cheese tasting, but it was still held a special place in each of our hearts. I do recall later that night, on a trip to Capogiro's, a couple of us started digging into our award-winning gelato and wishing it was P.S and Co's Mac and Cheese instead.

The overall experience was wonderful. While I wish it would have been a bit more hands-on, it was a lovely setup, with a great group of participants and the tastings made it all worth it - although, I wish there would have been either larger tastings or a couple take homes.

Can't wait to return to P.S and Co, but in the meantime, Nick and I will be cooking up a storm making some dumplings!
 
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