Tag Archives: vegan

Restauraunt Review: Cashew (Chattanooga)

On a recent weekend, we decided to explore a new city in our newly native Tennessee. So we pointed the Land Cruiser south on highway 27, and did some reseaerch on vegan options in Chattanooga.

Cashew came up as a pretty popular spot, and the menu seemed good, so we decided on Cashew for lunch.

Parking in this area was a little challenging, but it was Fall break here, and there were lots of festivals going on. I think Chatt is suffering from the “loved-to-death” syndrome we saw Bend, Oregon suffering from (where every weekend was another festival and parking issue). But the overall area Cashew is located in was funky, and had a really awesome city park with views of the river and bridges.

Cashew sits downstairs in a half-basement, half-first floor setting. The space was very well designed – super bright, welcoming, and modern. They have a pretty awesome baked goods selection, as well as a small refrigerated wall with some grab and go items (their own ‘chicken’ salads, Louisville Jerky, craft beers, and others).

Itv was cool to see Herbivore clothing for sale in the corner.

Staff was very friendly and awesome. We didn’t notice much of a southern accent on anyone, but I think that is testament to the sheer number of people flocking to the South as a much saner place to live. Chattanooga is not immune to the influx, sadly.

Baked good included fresh made donuts, cookies, cupcakes and more.

We were all starving and brought the ARB fridge with us, so we overordered (as typical) and planned to bring home the left overs.

Mac and cheese plate for the kids.

Kids both got a hearty order of their mac and cheese, served with fruit on the side. I went with the meatball sub (served with chips), and Kristin ordered the Thai Sweet potato. We added an order of nachos to top it all off.

Thai Sweet Potato.

The mac and cheese was actually really good. It was thick, but also not as warm as I would have liked it. But the kids had no problems.

The meatball sub on the other hand was pretty lackluster. First, it wasn’t a “sub” but a few balls of fake meat on a bun. The cashew cheese sauce on top added very little in my opinion. The chips seemed like an after thought, and were a weird addition.

The sad meatball sub.

Kristin seemed to like the Thai sweet potato, with the peanut sauce and a side of broccoli cheese soup (which she raved about).

The real star of the meal? THE NACHOS. Holy wow. I am not a jackfruit fan at all. But it was prepped perfectly, and whatever sauce they use it purely magic and delish. This was possibly the best vegan nacho plate I have ever had.

Nacho heaven.

Overall, Cashew is a super awesome spot in a fast growing Southern city. We love that it will be a reliable spot for us to return to. While I will not get that “sub” again, we will for sure be back and will 100% get those nachos!

Address: 149 River St, Chattanooga, TN 37402

Gettin’ Bogged in Pickett State park [Tennessee]

One of the most exciting things about moving to an entirely new area is the wheeling! it isn’t every day you get to truly explore and discover new trails and terrains.

I recently joined my friend Tyler and his family (with a beautiful LS-powered FJ60 Land Cruiser) in Pickett State Park here in Tennessee.

After making the journey through Big South Fork and up Black House Mountain Road, we aired down in the big staging area. Our plan for the evening was to hopefully find one of the legendary Cumberland lookouts to call camp for the night.

But the State Forest roads had another plan for us.

Not too long after leaving the staging area and heading up Black House Mtn Road, we came to an amazingly severe series of washouts. The tank traps were also incredibly deep and slick. So either you attempted that, or you ended up off camber and possibly rolling on the ruts. Tyler was pulling a trailer, and even though he gave it a good effort, I ended up winching him back out of the muck.

Tyler was stuck pretty good. A winch from the back was able to get him out.

Even the bypass to our right proved too tight for the Land Cruisers.

So we called it a night and backed into an epic camping spot among the pines and the stars.

Our epic campsite. We hope to return, just without the GIANT black bear we saw.

Day two began with a hot coffee and a renewed commitment to beating this surprisingly challenging bit of track.

Maybe it was the caffeine, or the sleep, but we were finally able to make the bypass work for us, as we weaved among the pines.

The fat pigs managed to make it through the bypass.

The unmaintained trails had some pretty burly washouts to contend with. After some careful tire placement and solid spotting, we were through, even though the Land Cruisers had a new relationship with a bush.

After a nice drive through the forest to an overlook, we turned back, hoping to check out Mineral Pond as a possible camp spot for the night. But this short bit of trail proved to be some of the toughest stuff I had wheeled in since the Rubicon.

It wasn’t long until the slick Tennessee mud had us both bogged, and the winch was whining.

The problem with Tyler’s placement, was as his driver side continued to dig, he became increasingly tippy.

After a series of winches and mud bogs we were finally on the downhill to the pond itself. After, of course, yet another washed out V-Notch.

Mineral Pond was a welcome sight, with its deep blue hues. After wheeling for 2 days in Tennessee Summer heat and no A/C, everyone was ready for a therapeutic swim.

The Land Cruisers at Mineral Pond.

After filling up on lunch, cold drinks, and an amazing swim, we were back in the rigs, and facing a ledge right away.

After some careful lines, we were up and over the ledge quickly.

But the Mineral Pond trail was not yet done with us.

A steep, rutted hill lay ahead with very high sides that looked like they could swallow a semi trailer. While Tyler’s V8 and working 4WD got him right up (my CDL is having issues), I ended up winching up the slick hill.

Tyler climbing the muddy hill of doom.

That night we ended up camping back at the State Park, after a swim at the lake. Pickett State Park has amazing cabins and camping facilities.

Beyond Burgers at Carl’s Jr!

We all heard the news on Instagram at about the same time, and I think the collective vegan mind imploded.  It seems that Beyond Meat and Carl’s Jr. teamed up behind closed doors to surprise the heck out of just about everyone.

It wasn’t one of those lame media teasers, where a major brand was testing some new vegan option at one or two stores, this was NATIONWIDE.  Today.  Every. Carl’s Jr.

So I did what any self-respecting vegan would do – drove my happy butt to a Gresham, Oregon Carl’s Jr. and ordered a burger.

THE GOOD:

A sign right next to the front door proclaimed that the Beyond Burger was now an option.  All the staff inside we showing off Beyond Burger shirts and hoodies (I tried to beg for one, but no dice).  Everyone seemed knowledgeable about the new vegan options (at least how to make it vegan).

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It was odd (albeit nostalgic) to be sitting in a fast food restaurant waiting on a burger and fries.  It has been at least 10 years, if not more, since I had done that.  So there was a strange feeling about sitting there ordering burgers and fries.  It was cool.

Roadtrips will never be the same.  We can pull into a seedy Omaha truck stop, and have a vegan burger.  Coming home late from work and picking up dinner will also be changed.

THE BAD:

The staff’s understanding of veganism as a whole was severely lacking.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not looking a “gift horse in the mouth (to use a truly vegan colloquialism) ” but these guys seriously had NO CLUE.

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When asking about the cheese, I was told it was not vegan, as it had SOY in it.  But that because it was pasteurized, it was all fake anyway, and no dairy.  That aside from the soy, it was vegan.  We couldn’t believe it!  So we ordered it with this new “vegan” cheese option.  Thankfully the woman ran out from the back, in time to change our order, alerting to us the cheese was in fact NOT vegan.

Then we debated about what fries were and were not vegan.  So, I hope the grunts at Carl’s Jr are prepared for the onslaught of pissed off vegans asking questions and expecting answers.

THE UGLY:

I think we all knew this was coming.  But they DO NOT use a special area to cook these burgers.  They get cooked right where all the beef also gets cooked.

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The only reason I went ahead with my order is this.  They are only cooked on the “charbroiler.”  They invited me back to look at this contraption.  It is a wire mesh belt that feeds the burgers from one end through to the other.  Like a giant pizza oven. So the only shared cooking surface is a tiny amount of wire mesh.  Oh, and by the way, that mesh passes through that machine at over 750 degrees.  So I can only hope/assume that any meat residues are blasted and cooked off.

I know the vegan committee might dock me some points here.

IN CLOSING:

The fact I went to a Carl’s Jr. and ordered a burger and fries, and enjoyed a vegan meal is, in itself, remarkable.  it speaks to how far veganism has come, how much the market has changed, and how the perception of veganism has also progressed in mainstream society.  

I praise any company that has been historically a meat-offering establishment and is willing to try something along these lines.  It is a bold move, and one that can have massive positive repercussions for animals, fellow vegans, and even meat eaters.

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But there are two schools of vegans.  The first is an ultra-emotional, almost fascist approach where anything that deviates from this oft-unattainable vegan god-like status, is not a vegan.  They will shun anyone that walks into a business that sells any meat, regardless of how that company is possibly changing.  They will boycott Beyond Meat.  They will shame vegans on Facebook groups that even think about supporting a fast food chain.

The other group is a little more progressive in thought.  They see the bigger picture.  That sometimes you need to take two steps backward to take one forward.  Sometimes you must give your money to big, evil companies in order to show how popular vegan options are, with the only goal of showing other large companies that vegans are here to stay, and that market share is growing.  In the end, that will benefit the animals.

If you find yourself in the latter group, head down to a local Carl’s Jr.  Get the Beyond Famous Star Burger (but hold the cheese and mayo).  You’ll be glad you did.

If you are in the first group, well…maybe there is a drum circle somewhere for your rage.

Restaurant Review: Hip City Veg [Philadelphia]

Spending a week in Philly has been an awesome chance to get out and check the vegan scene.  So far it has been an awesome experience.

Shortly after landing at PHL, I hit the road and had dinner at Hip City Veg on South 40th.

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The spot was super nice, and had seats in the huge front window for epic people watching.  I arrived later in the day, even after dinner, so the place was pretty empty.

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The next challenge was to choose something from the menu.  It isn’t a super expansive menu, but there was a decent variety of things.  After hearing rave reviews of the Disco Chickin Sandwich, I ordered one up.  I added a side of sweet potato fries, and the mysterious black bean dip.

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Restaurant Review: Blackwater Bar [Portland]

Today we ventured down Broadway in Portland, looking for a spot for some lunch goodness.  The only problem?  I wanted something new.  I remembered hearing about Blackwater Bar in Portland, an all-vegan bar.

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Blackwater is a punk-rock themed bar, that teeters on the edge of dive status for me.  Once you walk in, the space is on the dark side (not sure if deliberate for the punk theme) and has a good mix of booths and chairs with tables.  The place is pretty good size, with a full sized stage for live music shows, a bar in the back, a couple of pinball machines, and ample seating.

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Restaurant Review: Fatsquatch [Portland]

It’s always exciting when you hear about a new vegan place in Portland.  Especially with what seems like so many deciding to close their doors.

So yesterday, on a whim I ended up pointing the truck toward SE Belmont, and dropping in on Fatsquatch PDX.

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The cart is nestled in a small pod on Belmont (Belmont Street Eats), and if you didn’t know it was there, you could possibly walk right past it.  But once in the narrow little alleyway it opens up, with Fatsquatch lurking in the back like its namesake.  Don’t expect covered eating at this pod, however. I had to eat in the truck.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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