RESTAURANT REVIEW: 49TH STATE BREWING [ANCHORAGE]

Traveling to Alaska as a vegan can be pretty daunting.  There is hope though, in the sparsely populated vegan options on menus at places like Bear’s Tooth, Middleway Cafe and others.  But you can also get sick of them pretty quickly.

So I decided to join some friends recently on a downtown crawl.

We started the night at 49th State Brewing Company.

The brewery is located in the old Snow Goose space, and they have done an amazing job with the design.  I would have taken more photos, but it was Iditarod weekend and the place was absolutely PACKED.  To the gills.  So apologies for that (you can find some photos on their website).

I grabbed an IPA (Solstice) and it was actually a GREAT IPA.  Not to bash on Alaskan breweries, but I have become a bit of a Portland beer snob.  I was impressed with their beers overall and look forward to more when I go back there.

32517314263_3fe4847f59

As I was sipping my solstice IPA, I decided to crack open the menu and see what misery was about to unfold before me.  However, I WAS SHOCKED!!!! My non-vegan friends mocked my vegan enthusiasm.  Buffalo cauli!  Avocado fries!? BEYOND MEAT BURGERS!?  Daiya!? What the what!!??  I was in a little frozen vegan paradise in the 907.

I kept scouring the menu for the little icons.  Which, by the way were “vegetarian,” so be sure to clarify with you server (who, by the way was knowledgeable about vegan items, which was nice).

32517312003_b36222f104

So I ordered the buffalo cauliflower (duh) and decided on the basic burger with the beyond meat Beast Burger.  I was going to consider the pizza with Daiya (called the Vegan Tundra) but I had pizza the night before.

The cauliflower was good – my non-vegan friends liked it too (to my dismay) but be warned, it isn’t served like it is in most Portland places.  It comes with the side of buffalo and you pour it over everything.  Not bad, just different.

33290760236_916fa2d58f

The burger arrived not too long after and it was really good.  Basic, but good.  I mean it’s a frickin BEAST BURGER in Anchorage.  I was loving it.  The fries it came with were awesome as well.

33176340482_3af6e7ee38

The service was super positive also. Friendly servers, accurate orders, and prompt service.  It was nice that one of the managers swung by to check in.  I thanked him for the vegan options.

If you are headed to Alaska, be sure to make a stop at 49th State Brewing Company!

717 West 3rd Ave
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

PH: +1(907) 277 7727

Are Vegans Ready?

As the man handed me the Uzi, I slid the magazine into the well, charged the handle, raised the weapon and took it off safe.  I aimed at the target and slowly pulled the trigger. I fired.  Again.  And again. And again.

32602569710_750a1a01e0
Me firing said Uzi. Photo (c) Zachary Hill.

 

To my rear stood a group of fellow vegans that got together for a day of shooting.  We didn’t really talk too much about veganism, though we all had our reasons.  We were simply brought together with a common interest.

32857871071_6cd419cf90
Let’s see: An AK magazine, Winchester ammunition, and Miyoko’s and Heidi Ho vegan cheeses.

Under the easy up tent, the grill sizzled with the sound of Tofurky dogs, vegan sausages, and beer brats.

As I handed the Uzi back to it’s owner, I realized at this very moment, this is the future of veganism.

But I don’t think vegans are ready.

You see, on the surface, vegans are a tight-knit group of people that are brought together for a common moral purpose. And, whether for animal rights, personal health, the environment, or other reasons, in the end we are all still vegans.

32139660994_42b93546f5
The most badass group of vegans.  Photo (c) Zachary Hill.

But veganism as a movement – not just a common moral purpose – is founded on a very strict code of belief.  And, lest you fit, very specifically that mold, prepare to be ostracized. This “deeper” form of vegan resists any view that falls outside the movement.  This is also where society’s stereotypes of vegans originates.

For our vegan shooting day, I thought it would be a good idea to have a raffle and provide the proceeds to a local farm animal sanctuary. In the end, they asked that I not mention we were giving them the money, as they did not want to be “attacked by the vegan community.”  That’s right – a vegan shooting club cannot give free money to a vegan organization, because they are afraid of the vegan community.

parks-a-vegan.gif

And for me, this is where the biggest opportunity for the future of veganism lays.  The goal of every vegan should be to promote the lifestyle and approach to as many people as possible.  I mean, it’s better for their health, other humans’ health, the animals’ health, the planet’s health, so why not?  Who wouldn’t want to reach the farthest corner of  society?

And yet, sometimes when I drive my Jeep around Portland I get called an “Earth Raper.”  When discussing shooting sports in vegan Facebook groups I have been literally told to ‘GTFO (Get The F&%K Out).’  Because I enjoy shooting.  Steel.  And paper.

I still wonder if vegans are really ready for veganism to go mainstream.

It feels like the really cool neighborhood band that is super cool to see, but they then sign with a major record label, and all the original fans consider them a sell out, and the band loses the cool factor.

That’s what may happen with veganism – it may be mainstream.  Boring.  A sell-out.

And all those original fans will need to find another movement to be all SJW-ey about.

There are Jeeps to drive and Uzis to shoot.

Restaurant Review: No Bones Beach Club PDX

Trigger warning:  This post contains more superlatives than a Donald Trump speech. 

It is often said in religious circles that “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”  The vegan scene has had a few doors closing as of late, with Portland staples like Portobello shutting their doors.   But, the vegan heavens soon burst open a giant window upon us all. And it is tremendous.

Bigly tremendous.

32472043175_d6c8559f58

We weren’t sure that they were even open, and after some internet sleuthing we decided to just drive by.  We saw the glowing OPEN sign, high-fived, and parked with a quickness.

31628603144_66422a3215
Upstairs decor.
32472043635_fae06843be
Downstairs is really colorful.

Walking into the No Bones Beach Club, the decor was a great mix of Waikiki dive bar, and Pier 1 imports.  The bamboo, tiki masks, and surfing elements reassured you this was, in fact, a tiki bar first and vegan joint second.  There was no mention anywhere of it’s vegan roots which I get, and actually appreciate.

32472041865_4eed43474a
Full service bar.
32320430112_9a416ecf05
Respectable draft list.

The bar was front and center with TVs, a pretty large seating area, and more seating upstairs.  The place is spacious, well designed (I love the colorful sheetmetal wall), and open.  Upstairs they have a small “Tiki Hut” that is available to rent for a small fee and is the only reservable spot.

31628601944_554a8c9386
The rentable Tiki Hut.

The service was super warm and made us feel comfortable.  Even though we caught them on a soft open, they seemed experienced, knowledgeable, and at home.  They happily accommodated our 18 month old with a cool pineapple sippy cup and a high chair.

32320428492_104e6ed38a
Mojito, water (for the kiddo), and Beach Thyme.

The first choices were on cocktails and I asked our server to just surprise me. She inquired about my love for mojitos and I happily confirmed.  Kristin ordered the Beach Thyme which was a coconut-based tropical drink.  I have never had a mojito in Cuba, but certainly many in various tropical spots (think Hawaii, Singapore, and of course Florida).  I have to put this mojito right up there with one of the best.  The mint was great, the sugar not overpowering, and it was just a great drink.  The Beach Thyme was also really good, albeit a bit different with the coconut milk base.  As far as a winter tropical drink goes, it was perfect.

32320427392_7a5ffa2ca7
Buffalo cauliflower wings.

Next came the appetizers. The Buffalo Cauliflower “wings” (quotes are mine) were absolutely amazing, as was the ranch on the side.  Perfect amount of heat (which for me is minimal), and tremendously fried to crispy perfection.

32472039205_09c297a98e
Nachos.

The nachos were a great surprise and I have to tell you, some of the best I have had.  The cashew cheese is ridiculous, and the chips themselves seemed almost like won ton wrappers…in strips.  Hard to describe, but amazing to stuff in your face.  Some may appreciate the fresh jalapenos, but this New England-born kid kept them on a side plate, lest they drop a seed somewhere unexpectedly.

32431721966_09c07b44f1
Eggplant fries.

The last app we sampled were the  Eggplant Fries.  Like a bad vegan, I hate eggplant but the fry I did have was perfectly fried and had a great flavor (as did the side of poblano ranch).  These all came home for later.

I was so overcome with the immature excitement of a new vegan establishment of this caliber, I forgot to consider the menu for my actual lunch.  No, we had not yet ordered lunch.  Yes, I was being an absolute fat ass.  Anyway, continuing.

32320425922_b16eb59162
Crab cake benny.

Kristin ordered the Crab Cake Benedict, with crab cake made of parsnips – f’ing PARSNIPS!  I popped on the Mango and Blueberry stuffed French Toast (I know this is a shocker, but I held the jalapeno syrup and went with good ol’ fashioned maple syrup).

32431720846_2c2859cc45
French Toast.

I know some may think I am being over the top here, but I honestly mean this.  Like to the core of my being.  This was, hands down, the absolute best french toast I have ever had in my entire life.  Period.  It was absolute perfection.  I’d write about the fluffy bread, the delicious fruit, and all the other stuff, but I am just going to leave it at that.  It was just that good.  Period.  Done.

32093655610_1f08d56b2e
French Toast with fruit stuffing.

The crab cake Benedict came out and was presented beautifully.  The garnishes, color, and overall design of this plate was impressive.  When I was able to finally taste it (I admit I was a little leery of parsnip-based crab), it literally blew me away. As far as a savory dish is concerned it was awesome.  I think the word “stupid” came out my mouth. It was that good.  I actually ran out of positive words and ended up repurposing negative words.   It was like infinity had wrapped back on itself.  The food was stupid good.

32472042425_5d81cff560
Non-profit of the month.

I also think it’s awesome they choose smaller non-profits and feature one each month, sharing a percentage of sales with that organization.

So in conclusion….

So I need to say something here after our experience today.  When I think about the cool decor, the awesome service, and the stupid food….No Bones beach Club is THE best vegan food right now in Portland.  And I don’t just make claims like that.  It really is.  Absolutely without a doubt.

You need to go there right now.  Order some amazing drinks, toss back some buffalo cauli, and just soak up the awesomeness of the place.

It’s tremendous.  No bones about it.

Find No Bones Beach Club PDX at 3928 N Mississppi, Portland, OR 97227

Recipe: Mountain Corn Chowder

Not sure if you heard, but this past week our corner of the World got slammed with a pretty good winter storm.  We wanted to make something super hearty and easy to reheat in the event we lost power.  We never did (fortunately) but now we have a huge pot (not kidding, this recipe will feed 10+ people) of this amazing chowder!

31492112344_e3e57e546d

Continue reading Recipe: Mountain Corn Chowder

Restaurant Review: FoMu Ice Cream [Boston]

When you think of a cold, New England city like Boston, the image of ice cream probably isn’t the first thing in your mind.  When you realize it is a 100% vegan ice cream shop, it seems even further from reality.  But I am not complaining!  FoMu ice cream is an amazing little shop with multiple locations around Boston.

32098740001_f5aa39b3b0

FoMu is located in the little vegan paradise of Allston, right at the craziness that is Union Square. Many vegan establishments have come and gone here, so I am happy to see FoMu sticking around for a while.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: FoMu Ice Cream [Boston]

Install: Rear Axle Shafts for Jeep JK (Stock)

I have been stalling on any additional upgrades for my axles, as I ponder the upgrade to one tons.  So until then, and aside from the current build, I am trying not to upgrade anything.  So when my rig developed a weird squeaking (believed to be a bent shaft), friends suggested I replace my stock shafts with another set of stock ones a buddy had laying around.

Step 1: Purchase a couple of Beyond Burgers at Veggie Grill for you and your buddies.

31915861131_825829d0df

Step 2:  Properly jack up and set the Jeep on stands or the lift.

Continue reading Install: Rear Axle Shafts for Jeep JK (Stock)

Product Review: KC HiLites Gravity PRO LED Headlights

We all know the stock JK headlights are an embarrassment.  So one of the first things I did was replace them with the infamous (and oft used) Trucklite LED headlights.  But as the technology has improved in the space, I never thought to see what else might be on the market, or what the improvements could be.

So I called Northridge 4×4 and ordered a pair of the KC HiLites Gravity PRO LED headlights for JK.  See my unboxing here.

Continue reading Product Review: KC HiLites Gravity PRO LED Headlights

The Case for Open Veganism

I remember when I lived in Alaska and was a meat eater.  The whole concept of “veganism” was an odd one – a stereotype of skinny, pasty, punk kids sitting in a drum circle eating lettuce and gravel.  They were angry at the world,and irrational. I never took the time to meet or understand vegans, so my irrational vice held.  That is of course, until I gave away all the meat and fish in my freezer and became an Alaskan vegan myself.

I soon realized the error of my ways.

Continue reading The Case for Open Veganism

Product Review: The Beyond Burger and the Vegan Uncanny Valley

Well, it finally happened.  I was able to sink my teeth into the newest, and possibly most anticipated vegan food item in a long time. Beyond Meat has been releasing their new product, the Beyond Burger in limited Whole Foods stores across the country (yet to be found in the PNW, sadly).

But Veggie Grill worked out a special deal with Beyond Meat and have included it in their new Winter Menu.  We made a bee line for the closest VG (downtown Portland) and raced in from the car.

20161217_125220

First things first, the second I walked into the place it smelled different.  Veggie Grill never really had a “smell” (Like Subway, Burger King, or Abercrombie).  But now, they did.  It literally smelled like a Burger King in there.  I wasn’t, and am still not, sure it is a good thing.

Continue reading Product Review: The Beyond Burger and the Vegan Uncanny Valley

A True Friend, Indeed

About fourteen and a half years ago (almost to the date) I turned my Jeep around in the middle of a busy Boulder, Colorado intersection.  It was a literal U-Turn in the purest sense of the word.  As I floored my Jeep, I raced back hoping he was still there.  This little brown chocolate lab mix, at the time, named MacGuyver.  He was at the Boulder Humane Society and we thought it was best to “wait” after meeting this sweet little pup.  Five minutes after leaving the lot and we were headed back to pick him up.  So fast, and deep was the connection with this truly beautiful spirit.

31692524225_2a8a4ef980
Cooper at my very first Jeep offroad trip in Nederland, Colorado

After a quick rename to Cooper (aptly after a Cooper Tires sign after leaving the humane society the second time, with the dog in the Jeep) he was home and making himself a permanent part of my life.

Continue reading A True Friend, Indeed

%d bloggers like this: