Monday, June 30, 2014

USA 2013 - Part 1 (Portland)

More travel posts! Last year I was able to get back the USA for a veterinary conference that was going to be held in my beloved Seattle. I spent 48 amazing hours in Seattle during my 2011 trip, and I was desperate to get back!

This time I was travelling with my friend Ashleigh. We flew with Hawaiian Airlinees, and had planned a trip visiting Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and Honolulu. A 10 hour flight, a 7 hour stop over, and a 5 hour flight after leaving home, we arrived in Portland, Oregon.

'Bad Reputation' Pizza and Sizzle Pie


We were hungry after all that flying (Hawaiian air does not provide vegan meals, so we were living on noodle cups and snack foods), and arrived in Portland at about 11pm at night. But one of the benefits of our hotel, the Eastside Lodge, is that you can actually see Sizzle Pie from the entrance. We got the 'Bad Reputation', which had Daiya Mozarella, mushroom, onions and black olives. Heavenly! It was so hot we burned our mouth, but it was so good and we were so hungry we just couldn't slow down!

Voodoo Doughnuts - Gaytime, Maple, Jam-Filled Voodoo, Jam-Filled Glazed, Cinnamon Cone, Cream-FIlled Cock and Balls, Coconut Covered Chocolate


The hotel was also walking distance to a 24 hour Voodoo Doughnuts. There is something amazing about being able to buy a selection of vegan doughnuts at 1am in the morning. We got: Gaytime, Maple, Jam-Filled Voodoo, Jam-Filled Glazed, Cinnamon Cone, Coconut Covered Chocolate and... ummm... Cream-Filled Cock and Balls. The Gaytime was definitely the best!

Our hotel was also about six minutes walk away to Sweetpea Baking Company, which is in the vegan mini-mall, and we headed down there for breakfast the following day.

SQUIRREL!


On the way we saw this SQUIRREL! We don't have SQUIRRELS! in Australia, and I am always so excited to see SQUIRRELS! when I am overseas. SQUIRREL!

Sweetpea: Hummus Bagel, Breakfast Potatoes, Brown Sugar Scone, Lemon Strawberry Danish


We had a delicious breakfast of a hummus bagel (sprinkled with nooch), breakfast potatoes, a brown sugar scone and a lemon strawberry danish. And excellent way to start the day!

Spicy Chai from Sweetpea


Sweetpea is also home to the best chai in the world. I am extremely picky about my chai, and their Spicy Chai (I had it with almond milk) is something I still dream about!

Sweetpea


The first time I went to Sweetpea in 2011, they didn't seem to have much. However this visit was much more impressive. Look at their beautiful bakery display! After breakfast we headed up to watch a bit of the Rose Parade, which was on while we were in town. it was fun, lots of awesome marching bands. And a giant crocodile float made out of Brussels sprouts.

Texas Burger with Slaw at Hungry Tiger Too
Greek Salad at Hungry Tiger Too
Mac and Cheese at Hungry Tiger Too


For lunch we met up with a friend of mine at Hungry Tiger Too. I had the Texas Burger with Slaw, which had crispy fried onions on it. For some greens, there was a vegan Greek Salad, and of course we had to order a side of vegan mac and cheese! Hungry Tiger Too seems to have undergone some changes in menu, but it still looks pretty good! It was also just a short walk from our hotel. Our hotel had such a good location! After lunch we visited Herbivore Clothing and Food Fight for a vegan shopping spree. Cute clothes! Fun food!

For dinner, we had reservations at Portobello, an amazing vegan restaurant that I had visited in 2011. We chose the tasting menu, and each chose a different item for each course to maximise the number of dishes we could choose. Behold!

Beet Salad at Portobello
Mushroom Pate at Portobello


For first we had a beautiful fresh beet salad and a very rich and delicious mushroom pate.

Citrus Reviver at Portobello


Portobello has a nice drinks list, including mocktails for me to choose from! I had a Citrus Reviver, which had orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime juices mixed with simple syrup and vanilla. Yum!

Gnocchi with spring vegetables at Portobello
Pea Ravioli with Morels at Portobello


The second course included some of Portobello's famous gnocchi, served with asparagus and sugar snap peas. These are honestly the most amazing gnocchi anyone will ever have in their life! Our second plate was a lovely pea ravioli with mushrooms.

Cauliflower Steak at Portobello
Portobello Roast at Portobello


The third course was 'mains', which included portobello roast and cauliflower steak. The portobello was served with polenta, greens and a delicious cashew cream sauce, and the cauliflower had chickpea panisse, fennel and chimicurri sauce. Delicious!!

Ashleigh's sundae at Portobello
Rhubarb Strawberry Tart at Portobello


The tasting menu does not come with dessert, but you cannot go out to dinner and not order dessert! Ashleigh ordered the decadent Ice Cream Sundae, while I could not go past a Rhubarb and Strawberry Tart.

After dinner we took a bit of a stroll home, with very full bellies!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Japan 2012 - Part 11 (Tokyo)

Two posts in one day. At last, the final post in this Japan series! It has only taken me 18 months to blog it.

Anti-fur rally


My initial plans after afternoon tea were to wander around a few shops (I wanted to get to Muji) and head up somewhere for dinner (I actually can't even remember where it was I was so keen on going). However these plans came to an abrupt end when I noticed another parade going on down Omotesando. It was an anti-fur rally! I was cheering them on when, on a whim, I asked if I could join and jumped into the protest march. I was promptly given a clacker and was soon chanting along. It was awesome! One of the organisers, Mimi, was absolutely lovely and after the march introduced me to some local animal rights activists. Mimi and her family then took me out to dinner, which was lovely. We went back to the Vegan Healing Cafe, which was close to the end of the parade. Good thing we got there early, as lots of other marchers had the same thought!

Vegan Healing Cafe - Fried Soy Meat Plate
Vegan Healing Cafe - Spaghetti
Vegan Healing Cafe - Banana Cake


I ordered the Fried Soy Meat plate, which was OK but nowhere near as good as the Felafel plate! Mimi's son had some pasta, also pictured. The meal ended with some lovely banana cake.

Marching with the rally and meeting Mimi probably ended up being the highlight of my trip! Mimi gave me a card with her email on it, but sadly by the time I got home I couldn't find it. I am sorry Mimi, I am not being rude by not emailing, I just can't find the card no matter how many times I look for it.

Imperial Palace
Imperial Palace


The next day was the last morning in Japan, and I wandered off back to the Imperial Palace to have a look at the walls. While I was there, someone asked if I was waiting to see the emperor, apparently he was going to be making an appearance on the way the parliament. However not for several hours, and I had other places to be.

Chaya Hibuya - Pear and Soymilk Fruyu
Chaya Hibuya - Vegan Omelete Set
Chaya Hibuya - Vegan Omelet
Chaya Hibuya - Strawberry shortcake


That other place I had to be was back at the Hibiya Chaya, for more amazing food. I started with a Pear and Soymilk Fruyu to drink, because it sounded so interesting. It tasted like pear and soymilk, and was quite nice. I ordered the Vegan Omlette Set, which was absolutely amazingly delicious. Check out that gravy! Yum. And of course, a final piece of Strawberry Shortcake.

Chaya also sells a variety of sandwiches (I got one for the plane) and other assorted groceries, including things like maple sugar and vegan Kewpie. It also sells little packs of cookies, but absolutely do not bring these home for gifts for people because they taste like seaweed. What on earth?

After this I also got a chance to stop into a Muji, where I was able to get some adorable cat silicon molds and cookie cutters. This place has super cute kitchen stuff, so stop in if that is something that you like. Then it was back to the hotel to check out and a long bus ride to the airport.

Bento Box from Brown Rice Deli
Pumpkin Muffin from Brown Rice Deli


Before leaving Tokyo I had bought a platform ticket to Tokyo Station and picked up a bento box and a pumpkin muffin from Brown Rice Deli, which was my lunch while we were waiting for the plane. (I had also spent a last half an hour running around the amazingly cute shops that they had in the station).

Avocado Soy Nugget Panini (from Chaya), Choc Cookie (from Eat more Greens) and tomato soup
Avocado soy mugget panini


Once on the plane, as Jetstar do not offer any vegan options even in StarClass, I ate the Avocado Soy Nugget Panini I had picked up from Chaya, with some tomato soup, a leftover cookie and some fruit from the plane. It was a night flight, so breakfast was the bagel I had picked up from Eat More Greens and some more fruit.

Then it was off the plane and a drive home from the Gold Coast to my home to greet my beautiful kitties.

Japan is amazing, if you get the chance to go you should definitely take it! Since I have been, some places have closed but lots of other food places have opened. Check out the Happy Cow List to see what amazing food Japan has for you! More recently, Jojo and Cassie have both had Japan adventures, so check out their blogs to see what they got up to.

If you are looking to stay connected with WiFi in Japan, I highly recommend hiring a portable WiFi device. I hired one from Rentafone Japan, and it was excellent service and a great help being able to consult Google Maps and Happy Cow on the go.

Cute
Cat bowls


Finally, just a couple of the cute things I brought home with me. I do love kitty things. :)

Japan 2012 - Part 10 (Tokyo)

After lunch Mum and I went out to visit the temple of Sengakuji.

Sengakuji


Sengakuji is famous for being the graveyard of the Fourty-Seven Ronin, which is a fascinating but bloody tale from Japanese history. If you have seen the recent movie of that name, I can assure you that that movie is steaming pile of inaccurate poop, but Keanu Reeves is very pretty. I shudder to think of the number of people going to Sengakuji looking for his character's grave these days... hot tip, his character is fictional.

Nihombashi Bridge
Nihombashi Bridge
Mitsukoshi department store


After this we took a subway to visit the famous Nihonbashi Bridge, and a visit to the super swanky department store Mitsukoshi (it has big lions out the front). The department store is actually pretty impressive (and expensive), but does have a gorgeous floor of kimono displays and a roof garden. They also had Le Creuset in all the colours of the rainbow, including the marshmallow pink that I love so much. We don't have that colour here in Australia.

Loving  - Fish Sandwich Set


Afterwards, I caught the subway out to the Tokyo branch of Loving Hut. This is a tiny little restaurant, up some stairs, which had one little table with two chairs and counter seating around the windows seating maybe another six. There were several dinner sets to choose from, including some things that were similar to the Loving Hut at home, so I tried the Fish Sandwich for something different. This was OK, though the tartar sauce was really more like a pickle/mustard sauce. It came with a cup of chowder and some nice sides including seaweed salad, curry chunks and some sort of sweet soy slices. For the dessert I chose a chocolate coconut pudding, which was very nice. The also had 'cheesecake' for dessert, but it looked exactly like the one they have here in Australia, which is apparently imported from Taiwan frozen and really isn't very nice.

'Healthy breakfast; from hotel


The following morning I did something a bit different for breakfast and ordered off the hotel menu. Normally I had just been eating assorted bread, spreads, fruit and tea for breakfast before heading out, but the hotel had a 'healthy breakfast' on the menu and had a good grasp of making food for vegans (no bonito in the miso!). It was nice to be able to enjoy a Japanese-style breakfast for at least one morning.

Imperial Palace East Garden
Imperial Palace East Garden


After breakfast I went for a walk to the Imperial Palace and visited the lovely East Garden there.

Roti - Vegan Burger


For lunch we caught the subway to Roppongi and went to Roti, where I had the Vegan Burger. This is a veggie burger with smoked eggplant dip and tahini sauce on a pita bun, plus fries!

Afterwards we had a wander through the giant Roppongi Hills shopping centre before heading out to International House (where my mother has spent many trips to Japan for research) to see a dance performance by Min Tanaka. It was... interesting. In a beautiful setting, being danced in the gardens at International House, but not quite my style of dance. Still, we had a lot of fun afterwards with our different interpretation of what the dance might have meant.

Eat More Greens - Tiramisu and tea
Eat More Greens - Taco meat (takeaway)
Eat More Greens - Fruit and nut scone, oatmeal choc chip cookie, sesame cookie
Eat More Greens - bagel


Roppongi is also the home of Eat More Greens, a vegetarian cafe that my mum had been to before. We arrived when they were serving their 'Tea Time' menu, so perfect for some afternoon tea. I had a Tiramisu, which had banana mousse and fruit cake, making it in no way traditional but still very tasty. I also tried some corn tea, which was quite nice. I got a takeaway vegan taco meat meal which I took back to the hotel and ate for dinner while watching NCIS on TV. They also have a bakery section, so I picked up fruit and nut scone, oatmeal choc-chip cookie sesame cookie and a red bean and green tea bagel. Not everything there is vegan, and something that appear labelled as vegan have honey in them, so keep an eye out when you are ordering.

Shibuya 109
Shibuya crossing


The next day I was on my own, so I headed back to the Shibuya/Shinjuku area. Again, it was raining a bit. But I think that Shibuya crossing is more awesome with umbrellas. I meandered around the 109 shopping centre, which is full of incredibly hip and tiny clothes and insane amounts of kawaii.

Hanada Rosso - Tofu burger with brown rice, salad and miso vegetable soup
Hanada  - Pumpkin Maple Ice cream


For lunch I caught the JR to Harajuku and went to Hanada Rosso, a great little restaurant. Follow the instructions on Happy Cow on how to get there, and it is easy to find. I had the most amazing tofu burger, it was so delicious! Plus it was served on spaghetti. It also came with brown rice and miso vegetable soup. I had some pumpkin and maple ice cream to finish, which was a bit icy but had nice flavours. Lots of pumpkin everything due to it being autumn.

Halloween Parade down O-dori


It was also the day of the Halloween Parade, which was pretty fun to watch go by.

Harajuku bridge


There were some actual Harajuku Girls at the bridge in Harajuku! This was exciting. Plus people everywhere were dressed up in Halloween costumes. Definitely a fun day to be out people watching!

Salon Nanadecor - soy blancmange with strawberry sauce and berry tea


For afternoon tea I went to Salon de Nanadecor, and adorable tea salon set up in an organic cotton clothes shop. There was very little English, and I had very little Japanese, but I did manage to order this amazing soy blancmange with strawberry and some sort of lovely tea. It is a bit off the main drag to get to, but it is a very lovely place to stop by for some tea.

The next post will be the last of my Japanese adventures!