Monday, May 18, 2009

Welcome to Philly

Okay, so the title of this post is kind of a complete lie.  First, I need to finish with my last few bits about New York, and then...well I don't actually live *in* Philly.  But...well you'll see.  Read on if that didn't scare you away :)

The New York wrap up first.  My last cooked meal in New York had been bubbling around in my mind for about a week.  In fact, I roasted the garlic about 3 days before I ever even got around to making it.  What I ended up with was Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower with Quinoa and Peas.

It really doesn't get easier.  It is just a head of cauliflower, steamed; a bulb of garlic, roasted, 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked; and a cup of frozen peas; defrosted.  The first three ingredients go into the food processor with a little bit of cooking water from either the quinoa or cauliflower, add a little oil (like, a tsp or two) if you want, and it is all blended together.  Then mix in the peas.  While its really easy, and uses minimal ingredients, it is also really really yummy.  

You may have noticed that I stopped calculating my nutrition information around the same time I started blogging with any sort of regularity, and that is simply because I just didn't have enough time.  I'm not a calorie counter, I just like doing that to show how nutritionally complete vegan food is/can be.  That being said...I have time now!

Serves 2 (with 2 tsp oil)
Nutrition Information:  359.4 Calories;  10.2g Total Fat;  0.8g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  82.5g Carbohydrates;  15.6g Fiber;  20.6g Protein

I also have something non-food related that I want to share before I move on to what I am currently up to.  This is the front door to my parents' house (where I have been living for the past almost 2 years). 

On Wednesday of last week, my mom, brother, and I came home, and a little visitor came in with us.  Turns out, we have had a tenant all this time and had no idea.  She lives in these flowers:

And....she has babies:

SO CUTE!!  We named the mommy bird Sangria, and the two babies are growing so fast.  We've been going in the side door to keep from a.) scaring them, b.) Sangria getting in the house again.  

Cut  My student teaching is done, my thesis is finished, graduation is on Wednesday.  I still don't have a job.  I know that I mentioned my husband came home, I don't know if I mentioned that he got a job in South Jersey teaching ROTC.  Well, he did.  I really wasn't thrilled about it; when I came down a few weeks ago we were not happy, but for some reason, our attitude has changed.  I came down here last night, and today has been a really beautiful day, we found an apartment to sublet for August as long as the credit check passes ::crosses fingers::, I went to the ROTC commissioning ceremony this morning, and then...we went into Philly.  I don't know what happened, but it did not go well.  

We went to Govinda's, which I had heard was one of the better vegan places in Philly.  I, apparently, was wrong.  
Okay, that's a little harsh, but it did not live up to my expectations.  First, we went to Govinda's To-Go, which is apparently different from the actual cafe (which I just learned by reading online, oops), but it was kind of dirty, the employees weren't nice, and the thing that I really wasn't expecting wasn't vegan.  Yes, it is called Govinda's Vegetarian Cafe, but for some reason, I was thinking "vegan".    

This was upsetting because the whole draw of going to places like this, is not having to ask questions.  Normally it sounds like "Is there cheese on the soup?" or "Is the broccoli cooked in butter?" actually okay because it just makes me sound health concious.  But at a place like this you end up having to ask "Is the ______ vegan?"...and that's annoying to me.
For example:  "Is the soy cheese vegan?"  "Is that cookie vegan?"  etc.  
In case you were wondering, their soy cheese is casein free...I had to ask about that, almost all of their meals have either fake cheese (or real cheese if you want) or fake meat.  Since the employees weren't exactly courteous, I didn't feel like asking about the desserts.  

All that being said, I had the Chicken Quesadilla.  It was actually really good, although the picture isn't exactly flattering.  

So while the food ended up being pretty good, I doubt I'll go back.  I'm not big on fake meat and cheese, and I really didn't like the vibe of the place or the people who worked there.  

This explains why I've been in a bad mood today, my first vegan place in Philly and I have to give it THAT review?  Not as much fun as I wanted it to be.  If anyone is in/near Philly/South Jersey, or has been to the area and has suggestions...PLEASE let me know!!  Right now I've got a bad vegan taste in my mouth for Philly, and I'd really like to remedy that.  Gianna's Grille is next on my list right now! 


  1. I loveeee mashed cauliflower. I actually just had some for dinner tonight =)

  2. One of my fav. restaurants is in Philly, Singapore! I believe it's 10th and Race St. Just over the Ben Franklin, stay straight, and 10th should be the first left, over a small bridge, taking you into Chinatown. Race is the second? right. It's BYO; the service is lovely, usually by the owner or his family. The food is cheap and outstanding! Suggestions: New Year's soup, steamed leek dumplings, and General Tao's entree. Enjoy. Good luck finding a teaching gig. I teach H.S English and it's the best job I could ever imagine. Glad your husband is home safely too. Oh, also check out They do a gathering at Horizons, which has a vegan Chinese buffet once or twice a month.

  3. I live in Philly; sorry you didn't like Govinda's! I love it, but would recommend checking out their website beforehand (they have labels online and most vegan things are labeled, I think. The desserts might be all vegan, from Sweet Treats or whatever it's called in Bensalem). I loved their chicken cheesesteak and the chicken salsa soup, you'll have to try those next time! The wheat rolls are great, too. I haven't been to Gianna's, but a while ago they were kind of dishonest about their vegan cheese, which contained casein...they say they've changed, but I don't really want to give them my business and I heard their food wasn't that great anyway. If I could afford it, I'd go to Horizon, since I've heard nothing but raves. There's also Kingdom Vegetarians (another Chinese buffet) but I haven't been there yet...and Essene, a natural foods market which I hear has a good deli bar but I haven't been there yet either. There's some great Ethiopian in West Philly, check out Kaffa Crossing (they have a website) if you can. Or, e-mail me for suggestions! :)

  4. If you're not big on faux meats/cheeses and grungy/near-dirty atmospheres, DON'T go to Gianna's Grille. I live in the Philly area and have been there several times. I've gotten the cheese steak and chicken cheese steak, and, while both were ok, they're really better suited for a transitioning vegetarian, not a seasoned vegan whose lost meat/cheese cravings. And they're reaaaaaaaaaaaally greasy. Maybe good for hangover food once or twice a year but that's about it. Try Horizons instead. It's a little pricier, but they use fresh, high-quality ingredients; you won't find any processed food, just delicious, gourmet meals.

  5. Ooooh, advice, I love it!!! Thanks everyone, and I'm totally welcome to more!

  6. Oh, and I mainly wanted to go to Gianna's because its the only place I have heard of that has vegan dessert. Anyone know of any vegan bakeries in the area?

  7. I've never been to Philly, but there's just GOT to be some great vegan places for you to eat. I hope you find somewhere great.

  8. That cauliflower dish sounds so comforting. Can you believe I've never tried mashed cauliflower (except the raw verion, but not the cooked)?!

    As for Philly, never been. But you should try asking Urban Vegan. She lives in Philly and blogs about eating out a lot. She even did an article about vegan places in Philly for VegNews magazine last year.

  9. Congrats on your hubb's new job and your new place. And omigod those baby birds are so freaking cute! shame about the sucky restaurant, but check out Urban Vegan's blog, or her recent VegNews article for tips on eatin' vegan in Philly.

  10. Awwww birdies!!!! Sorry your eating out experience wasn't so great :( I hope you find somewhere awesome to eat soon!

  11. Hey gorgeous! Thanks for the head-ups about Govinda's. Bummer!

    Anyway I am definitely book marking your page for the cauliflower mash. That's right up my alley - simple n fuss free. I haven't been eating cauliflower and it's due time that I do. So thank YOU for the inspiration hun!

    My sis is looking for a job too. She's graduating next week and lemme tell ya, it's hard but hey don't give up hope.

    Anyway congrats! Welcome to another chapter for your life:)

    Have a good one Ginakins.

  12. I love mashed cauliflower! Your version of it sounds really tasty.

    The baby birds are too cute!

  13. Oh wow, I'm jealous of you exploring SJ/Philly. I am originally from there, but currently living in DC.

    There are some good restaurants in Collingswood, NJ - btwn Philly and Cherry Hill. You might want to try out The Tortilla Press

    They had a special vegetarian/vegan menu special last week. They may not have a regular vegan menu (yet), but if you call ahead, they should be accommodating. The owner is super nice, and he seems to be exploring vegan/vegetarian menus based on recent demand --so speak up!
    I'm trying out Seasons 52 restaurant when I go up there next week --not sure about their vegan options, but something new to check out!