A Dramatic Summer Reading and Philadelphia

As I've told you all before, I was once a young and stubborn teen who refused to wear shoes in the winter, would only wear clothes that...

As I've told you all before, I was once a young and stubborn teen who refused to wear shoes in the winter, would only wear clothes that were either ripped or covered in paint, rebelled against anything I saw unfit, punched boys who said girls couldn't be punk, longed for the summer, swore I would move to California the second I could and never come back... 
I still have stubborn roots, but feel like I've done a 180ยบ as far as longing the summertime, and California? Well, that ship has sailed. I choose my battles a little more meticulously nowadays, try not to punch any boys-- even misled ones. Let's be real, everyone knows girls can be punk. But punk is a mindset, not an article of clothing or a haircut. I think I've come to terms with that in my old(er) age. The most glaring difference I see about myself now in comparison to myself at 16, or even 21, is that I almost dread the summer now. It's hot. I have to work. I have to walk in the heat. I don't get to go to the beach, or spend my nights hanging out on the front porch too late, or swim in my friends' pools, or sleep until noon. I think after college, the difference between summer and winter vanished. It no longer signifies a break in the calendar or a time for vacation. I hide my once-beautifully-tanned skin in hoodies and zip them to hide my palest face since childhood. I haven't gotten over it, but it's the way I am-- and those who fight nature often lose. Tonight I found myself enjoying summer for the first time through its food:

Deviled Kale Salad from Salad Samurai accompanied some basic BBQ tofu and a macaroni salad, an old favorite of mine. Maybe this will be the summer food my children will one day grow up and crave, and think of summer while they eat it.
Besides dramatically notating my feelings on myself vs the summer season, I have also recently visited Philadelphia! Alex is staying there for several weeks this summer for work, so I spent a brief 36 or so hours this weekend visiting. He gave me an epic vegan food tour, and this was only part one, since I'll be back there again before he leaves. He took me to brunch at Mi Lah, and got setian and waffles. Now these are some serious waffles. They have a nice cinnamony flavor that was super shiny when paired with maple syrup. I liked that it came with a pile of bok choy. I'll always eat a pile of bok choy over a pile of fried seitan-- but that's just me.

I got the Masa Corn Cakes. I became instantly pleased when the plate was put in front of me based on the amount of avocado that was on my plate. They understand that my satisfaction with their restaurant is measured mainly in how much avocado they are willing to put on my plate. The corn cakes were gold, too.

I really miss Yards, you guys. I think the Philly/NYC rivalry is too strong for NYC to carry it. I haven't had it in over a year. I made up for it this weekend... I prefer not to recount how many I had. But coming down to the river and sitting in a picnic chair with some Yards is exactly what I came to Philly to do. Mission accomplished, my friends.

While we were there, I spotted this little guy (girl?) down at our feet. I made my friends move out of the way so I could capture this photo. He was pretty. It's probably a girl, but..

I also spotted this tag on a heavily-tagged portion of concrete on a bridge. Go Veg!

For dinner, we went to Charlie Was A Sinner, a fancy restaurant I hadn't heard of before. Upon our arrival, I realized how fancy it was, and that I'd never actually been to a fancy restaurant before. They had tapas plates, which are basically little plates that cost the same as big plates. They recommend 2-4 plates per person, but for an average money-spender, the budget is more like 4 total. They specialized in cocktails, so I figured I should probably get one. I got the "Hasty Tasty" which was marquis de la tour, moscato grappa, monbazillac, and frozen grapes. I don't know what any of those things are, I was just reading them off their website. It was pretty good but very small. I don't know what I was expecting, but I'm a beer girl at heart.

Our first course (shared small pate) was chilled melon gazpacho. It was brought out with the melon balls and avocado slices in the bowl, then the waitress brought the chilled soup out in a small carafe and poured it over the top. It was very fancy, despite my pictures of it. It was super balanced, with really nice peppery notes, and lightness from the melon and lemon. There were also very tiny fennel croutons that added a tiny crunch. Plus avocado. This was probably my favorite of the four.

We got the chickpea fries that were served with a lemon aioli. These were voted least favorite of the four unanimously. They just weren't crisp enough, which didn't give them a clean enough bite. They felt heavy and chewy, and there just was simply not enough of the lemon aioli to balance the heavy fried part, which is a shame because I think a bit more lemon would have helped elevate them.

 The Jenga tower arangement, however, was appreciated

The next plate was the Tofu & Bean Sausage with parsnip puree and caramelized onion. Some kind of onion gravy with whole grain mustard. This was really good. It tasted like a real meat-and-potatoes kind of dish, ergo, it was Alex's favorite. I think all the flavors were balanced perfectly, and reminded me of a Thanksgiving dinner.

We got the Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sorbet for dessert. It was really good, moist cake. The sorbet was good and not icy, as sorbet often can be. Underneath there were some macerated strawberries, which were great with the brownie-like cake. It seemed like they abandoned their attempt to fancify this dish, and just went for serious chocolatey goodness. It was awesome.

Sunday morning we went to P.S.&Co. for breakfast. It was a nice space, with good lighting. They did mostly raw stuff, which is great for breakfast. 

Nice Ambiance

Iced coffee has been saving my life this summer. I usually don't even listen when they tell me how much it costs, because it's too hot for me to care, and because it's too expensive to want to listen! What gives? They had iced coffee, and house-made Brazil Nut Milk to pour into it. I am usually a black-coffee kind of girl, but when will I ever get to have fresh brazil nut milk ever again? Probably never. So I turned my coffee this color with it.

They had a bunch of fresh coconut yogurts with different toppings, and I couldn't decide which one to pick, so I had the girl behind the counter choose for me, and she chose blueberries :). 

It was unlike any yogurt I've ever had. It was so fresh tasting, like someone really broke out and messed with one of those coconut jackhammer godforsaken kitchen gadgets that spews sticky coconut water all over yourself and your kitchen. Someone did that for me. And the freshness was amazing. It had a nice light finish, I think maybe some lemon was in there too. YUM.

I picked up this Tofu Quinoa Quiche, which looked cute and adorable and I love quinoa for breakfast these days, so I rolled with it.

It was dark quinoa on the bottom, then a layer of tofu-broccoli quiche, then a puree of butternut squash on top. It was really a perfect breakfast. It was small, but very filling. I left feeling like I had the most vegan breakfast of all time. Also, the most delicious while being healthy breakfast of all time.

Philly is really cool, you guys. If New York City and Philadelphia were two real vegan girls in their mid twenties, they would be best friends and bring overnight bags and have weekend getaways in each others' cities. NYC would have bleach blonde hair and band T-shirts with tattoos and wear her headphones all the time, and Philly would look a little more Classic-college girl with a Brown side-braid and pierced ears with studs, but also have a messenger bag with Compassion Co. pins along the strap, and have a bottle of kombucha in her left hand while she texted with her right. These girls would be different, but have much to learn from each other, and also much to share with each other. And now I've personified two vegan cities and made them best friends. World peace has been achieved. The Antichrist has just been revealed.

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  1. I loved everything about this- and not just because Charlie was a Sinner is on my radar even though I rarely get to Philly. The first thing I have to do, however, is go to Peacefood because they're the kings (and queens) of chickpea fries!

    Great description of tapas (I'm looking at you, Vedge) and your "summer" plate looks FANTASTIC. I don't want to turn my oven on b/c it's so hot, but if I did, I'd want that tofu to come out of it.

    1. I've never had the chickpea fries at peacefood! I need to go soon. I'm going to Vedge tomorrow night! Hopefully it will be awesome. It is definitely too hot for the oven to be on, this tofu withstood a quick stint in the skillet and then rushed into the rest of my air conditioned apartment.