The LA SV HQ packed-up the ol’ Prius and headed north for the holidays. We ate a lot of truly delicious things along the way. Here’s our foodiary:
First stop was Sunnyvale, CA. We celefeasted at Great Vegi Land, whose owner stayed open late just for us, so we ordered half the menu! This is the kind of vegan restaurant that also abstains from onions and garlic, two of my favorite things:
Top row: Hot & Sour Soup, Tofu Clay Pot, Mao Pao Tofu With “Fish” Bottom row: Dry Salted String Beans, Veggie Beef With Black Pepper Sauce, Kung Pao Veggie Chicken
We sandwich’d atIke’sand then tweeted with the man himself about getting a location for ourselves in LA:
Vegan Captain Kirk, Vegan Pilgrim, Vegan Chocolate Chili Banana Cookie From Cake Monkey
We left Sunnyvale and continued north to Hiouchi, where the food paled in comparison to the trees. We went on a hike through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and found Grove Of The Titans, a secret trove of trees the size of skyscrapers.We actually had a couple other dishes, but they were so good I forgot to photograph them!
Heads up, Cheese Alternative Shoppers– you might be perplexed when looking for your favorite Galaxy Nutritional Foods product at the market starting later this week.
For some business-ey type reasons I don’t fully care to understand, Galaxy is renaming itself GO Veggie! (Yes, the exclamation point is included). I’m pretty sure this re-branding is going to make all the difference for them.
Remember that pizza I blogged about a few days ago? Well, it won! Two Boots Co-Founder and Owner, Phil Hartman* decided that our pizza pie plan was way better than a bunch of other vegan bloggers’ pizza pie plans.
You’ll be able to eat it for a week starting November 1 (World Vegan Day), Update: postponed due to Hurricane Sandy. We’ll post the new date once we know it. and that day only they’ll be giving away free sample slices from 6pm to 8pm at all NYC Two Boots locations (except Park Slope, which is under separate, less-vegan-friendly ownership). They’ll also be unveiling some kind of eco-friendlier pizza box called the GreenBox.
Apparently they did separate East Coast and West Coast contests, and the retired-from-blogging-but-ha-no-not-reallyQuarryGirl won the West Coast. Congrats to her! But look out next time: if we’d known there were two contests, we would have tried to win both, because, if you hadn’t noticed we have an active and awesome Los Angeles bureau! (As of right now, Quarrygirl’s site is down right now, because she hosts it on Tumblr (I don’t mean to sound smug, my personal site is down for the same reason!))tumblr’s back up!
Here’s the official descriptions from Two Boots HQ:
Representing the East Coast (the pizza that will be served in our NYC stores) is SuperVegan.com! Meet The SuperVegan: Artichokes, Vidalia Onions, Sundried Tomatoes and Daiya Cheese with Polka Dots of Basil Pesto on a Thick Sicilian Crust!
And the West Coast winner (whose pizza will be served in our LA locations) is QuarryGirl.com! The Quarry Girl: Organic San Marzano Tomatoes, Shitake Mushrooms, Artichokes and Fresh Garlic with a Swirl of Basil Pesto on a White Cornmeal Crust!
I’d rather eat our pizza than her’s but we both like garlic, artichoke, and basil pesto, so that’s cool. And her spiral is really pretty! Wish I’d thought of that. And I’m pretty sure we didn’t have the option of organic tomatoes; that must be a Cali thang.
We happily deferred to Two Boots’s expertise in making a couple of modifications to the original design: instead of little letters of pesto, our pizza will have polka-dots, and instead of regular thin crust, structural concerns demand a thicker Sicilian crust.
For the picture, they wrote our initials on it GIANT STYLE. But the real pie will be dots.
— * Not to be confused with the Phil Hartman peddling pizza here:
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We got an intriguing offer from the PR department of the venerable “quirky” NYC-based pizza chain Two Boots. Two Boots has long been one of the best places to get a vegan slice, with their veggie-laden “Earth Mother” and more recently the “V for Vegan“, all tarted up with Daiya. They have lots and lots of non-vegan food, too, but Two Boots’s interest in serving more and more vegan food is highly commendable.
So, about that intriguing offer: they want to launch a brand-new vegan pie for World Vegan Day (November 1). And they’re offering a selection of vegan bloggers a chance to design said pie. If they pick ours, they’ll name it after us! I am not above doing a bit of PR for Two Boots if it means a good chance of being able to walk in and order a slice of the SuperVegan pie, with our logo on the label and all. And hey, even if we don’t win, more vegan pizza is a win for everyone.
My first thought was to make a vegan “meat-lover’s” pie, loading on as many greasy pink mock meats as Two Boots’s thick crust can support. I was going to name it “The Patrick Kwan“. But Two Boots doesn’t stock any mock meats and they told me they weren’t going to start just for this. (You might send them friendly e-mail suggestion, though.)
What was the best pie we could make with Two Boots’s available toppings? And what would make it distinctive enough from the “Earth Mother” and “V for Vegan”? The “Earth Mother” is basically a ginourmous pile of mild vegetables, and “V” is Daiya, artichokes, shitakes, red onions, basil and red pepper pesto. We’ve eaten plenty of both. But we can do even better.
One thing’s for sure, this SuperVegan pizza pie’s gotta be decadent. No vegan health-pie here. So we’re using the Daiya, loading on the fatty toppings, and skipping the whole-grain crust. And it can’t be too spicy. I can enjoy jalapeños all over a pizza, but too many people I care about wouldn’t go near such a thing.
Here’s the final proposal:
Vidalia Onion, Artichoke Hearts, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Garlic, Daiya, and Tomato Sauce, on regular white crust, with basil-pesto “S”s and “V”s scattered all over. You know you want to eat that right up. I sure do. I even have the conceptual diagram to prove it:
(Note to Two Boots; if the pesto-decorations are too labor-intesive, we’ll understand if you need to simplify a bit.)
Do these shreds melt? Oh yes. They get good and molten, so feel free to enjoy recreating Mount Doom in your toaster oven like I did:
In addition to the pizza in that video, I also tried the shreds rolled up in Pillsbury crescent rolls, in mac and cheese, and on cheeseburgers. Worked dandy for all of them. it never got gooey in that way that I think a lot of people like their melted cheese to be. If you want gooey, shop elsewhere.
First, that’s not pizza. That is toast with ketchup and cheeese. That’s “pizza,” in a raw-menu-style co-opted way.
After first, this stuff melts, yes, but it’s 67% Daiya stretchy melt and 33% Tofutti slice oily melt.
Here’s a still photo of my actual, honest-to-goodness pizza with Trader Joe’s pizza dough, marinara sauce, Galaxy Mozzarella, a bunch of spices (list upon request) and marinated artichoke hearts. I also topped it with some Parmela. It was delicious.
Like when a new computer tablet comes out, the first thing everyone wants to know is how it compares to the iPad. So, how do Galaxy Vegan Shreds compare to Daiya? Well, they’re different. And that’s a good thing!
Galaxy shreds don’t have much taste. But if you’re as sick as I am of that distinctive aroma-de-Daiya, Galaxy shreds offer a welcome neutral. I couldn’t taste a significant difference between the Mexican and mozzarella; choose Mexican if you want white and orange. Choose mozzarella if you want white.
The package is resealable, which is a blessing. However, it took me a few weeks after opening it to notice its says to use it within 7 days. It still seemed fine. It’s a lot of cheese to eat in a week. But don’t blame me if you get sick.
The shreds are cornstarch-based, and soy-free, non-GMO, and hydrogynated-oil-free. And there’s no saturated fat (compared to Daiya’s significant 2g per 1/4 cup serving). Playing amateur food scientist, I’ll assume that this cornstarch is the reason these shreds are so, well, chalky before you melt them. To the point where they’re hard to work with and scatter all over the kitchen counter. The last ingredient is powdered cellulose, “added to prevent caking”. When do you need to worry about cheese caking? When it’s made of cornstarch, apparently! (Or when you’re making cheesecake, haw haw.) Anyway, not a problem when melted, but these are no good uncooked. But who eats uncooked shredded cheese?
I already started making the Daiya comparison, jeez, it’s like you’re not even reading this, Jason.
But I will concede the following points: Galaxy shreds’ cup does not runneth over with flavor(s), the re-sealable packaging is an integral part of a more-than-single-use product lest the company support plastic waste, they last a lot longer than one weeks time (probably thanks to said re-sealableness), I also don’t want to be blamed for any sickness, and they are chalky like my 3rd grade teacher.
I disagree, however, that not having taste is a positive. This is a bad quality in both food and people. I could discern a slight difference in the two flavors, but I wish it was more than slight. A touch even. And I’m all for labeling flavors by colors, as seen by Slurpee’s “Blue” and/or “Red,” but those color-flavors have totally distinct tastes. And while white and yellow might not be that different on the color spectrum, they are on the cheese map. Cheeses are like people, each one has their specialty– things they should or should not be used for. I think the good people of Mexico would take umbrage with the monicker. And sick of Daiya or not, that is one thing they definitely have going for them– their newer flavors have their own flavor profiles; from the pepperjack to all the different wedge cheeses. And that’s what we want, right? Simulacrums of the things Regs eat? Unless you didn’t even like cheese in your pre-Vegan days, in which case all your arguments are moot. Awwww, snap.
In conclusion, we both agree that this new Galaxy line is leaps and bounds above their previous ones, a great option, and that you should try it for yourselves. To help, and in honor of Vegan Pizza Day this Saturday, the fine folks at Galaxy are giving away product coupons to three lucky readers! All you have to do is leave a comment (make sure you enter an email address so we can contact you if you win!) below and tell us what you’re gonna do with your bag of cheeese! Winners will be chosen on Friday and the rest of you can print coupons HERE.