the wonderful world of food

I believe in enjoying food. I enjoy fresh, ripe avocados, firm pastas in rich tomato sauces, spicy enchiladas, fiery curries, crunchy noodles, filling burritos, and crisp green salads. I live in a state where food freshness is valued, and in a city that is a sort of restaurant mecca, which has allowed me to sample fabulous foods from all over the world.

Allow me to share my food love with you on these pages.

Healthy Foods I REALLY Like to Eat

I eat a wide variety of foods, most of which I make myself. Eating out can be fabulous, but restaurant food is often like banquet food: expensive, unusually rich and heavy, and more complicated than the simple, homestyle food I crave.

I'm an herbivore, a vegan-leaning vegetarian. I think vegetarian and vegan foods are the best kind of foods in the world, based on earth's fabulous and wildly varied bounty. There's a long tradition for the kind of diet I have in most places in the world, and a wide range of delicious food choices for my enjoyment (and for yours!).

"Vegetarian!? What do you eat?" I have many personal favorite foods. I'll list some of them here.

My diet includes:

Cookbooks I have used, and generally like

My absolute favorite cookbook is the Kopan Cookbook, by Betty Jung. I've gone through phases where I wanted nothing more than to eat recipes from this book every day! It's a small and charming book of recipes from the Kopan monastery in Tibet, all based around a spice mixture you'll need to make in a blender or spice grinder (it's worth it). The recipes are fresh and fortifying, and most take relatively little time once you have all your ingredients ready. The soups, such as a Tibetan noodle soup with spinach and tomatoes or a curried mashed potato soup, are especially satisfying.

Another cookbook I used quite frequently is Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean, from the authors of Vegetarian Times Magazine. This book contains the recipes I use to make homemade pizza (I hadn't realized it was so easy!), some North African soups, polenta, quiche-like tarts made without eggs, cous cous, paella, and other dishes.

Rounding out the most roughed-up part of my cookbook shelf is The Best 125 Meatless Pasta Dishes by Mindy Toomay and Susan Gesikopf Hadler. The exotic pestos are simple and fabulous, the spicy eggplant pasta salad with Kalamanta olives is excellent, and even pasta soups like curried carrot with cous cous are great. I eliminate the salt recommendations from most recipes, at least until I taste them: the cooks like their dishes a bit saltier than I do.

I also like The Savory Way by Deborah Madison, the author of the more complicated Greens Cookbook. TSW is full of fresh, straightforward recipes that involve just a few ingredients and yet have very rewarding and novel flavors. Everything I've made from this book has been a treat (except for when I lost track of what I was doing, and doubled the amount of water used in the garlic soup). These recipes are much quicker to work with than those of her restaurant based cookbook, which makes sense.

I have a dozen or more other cookbooks, each of which has its strong recipes, but those are the ones that consistently deliver foolproof recipes. I recommend them highly! I also recommend going to your local library and reviewing their selection. You can test drive them, or get that ONE recipe that makes you want the book. Or, for items like the Larousse Gastronomique you can just study, laugh, and copy all the sorbet recipes. You might also be able to save yourself some trouble. In the past, I've checked out fabulous books on Scandinavian baking, only to discover that everyone around me immediately gained several pounds as I practiced making danishes. It was better that I didn't own that book!

I've had mixed luck with recipes provided on the web. My intuition is getting better about warning me away from recipes that seem to lack something important. Whenever I have found a recipe on-line that I loved, I gushed about it on my weblog (now archived for your enjoyment), Things Consumed.

Highlights from my Things Consumed archive

My blog is about "edible treats, eye candy, and food for thought," so if covers quite a few topics beyond food. But for foodies, here is an index of recipe highlights from my blog's inception in July of 2002 through July 2008.

My Recipes

All of my recipes are vegetarian; many are vegan.

My Food Features

I realized that most of the things I write are food features, and it's most likely you'll come across something you like just by browsing. So this is a very short list of a few special features.

Yummy San Bruno, California (late 2003)

I lived in the suburban town of San Bruno for two years. I did this for love. Despite my initial impressions, the town of San Bruno (about 3 towns south of San Francisco, on the eastern side of the peninsula, very close to San Francisco International Airport) has some yummy restaurants. These are generally in "old town San Bruno," the business district along San Mateo Avenue, between San Bruno Avenue and El Camino Real. Many of the restaurants I enjoyed are no longer in business.

In no particular order, I liked these restaurants, which were still there as of December 2005:

San Francisco restaurant recommendations

This section of my web page could go on FOREVER.

There are so many good things to eat in San Francisco, it defies comprehension. Which is why we local restaurant lovers don't try to eat everywhere. We develop favorites, and go to them religiously, only trying new things that sound especially great. I'm not speaking for all San Franciscans, obviously, but nearly everyone has favorite places that they want to be a regular customer of, with good reason.

Please note that restaurants turn over amazingly fast in SF, and that I don't get to eat at ALL of these often enough to be sure that they are all still open, especially since I work in two non-SF cities now, one of which is not actually in North America. I'm putting a year in parenthesis at the end of each listing, representing when I last REGULARLY ate at these locations.

Here are my favorite restaurants.

Vancouver, Canada restaurant recommendations (All as of Spring 2003)

In April, 2003, I was lucky enough to spend 8 nights in the City of Vancouver. It's a lovely city, plagued by the same oppressively uniform corporate megachains as other large cities, but with a lovely bay, clean air, huge parks, great views, and skiing just half an hour away. Oh, and lots of good restaurants.

While visiting, I especially enjoyed:

Banana Leaf Malaysian Restaurant, 1096 Denman St. (more or less West End) and one other location in town. This branch of the main Banana Leaf won awards in the local tourist magazines. It is SOOO GOOD. I was put off at first, because the only overtly vegetarian dishes were side dishes, but there was a little chard leaf symbol that meant that dishes so marked could be made without meat or fish/shrimp paste, and so we went in. It was SOOO GOOD!! They served us the best tofu/tahu goreng I've ever tasted: fried tofu in a lovely sour dressing with chili sauce and crunchy salad items like cucumbers. I wish I had some right now. Yum yum yum yum yum. We had two other dishes, and were completely full and happy when we finished, so the serving sizes are good. I recommend this place highly.

Buddhist Vegetarian Restaurant, 137 East Pender St. in Vancouver's Chinatown. The food is delicious and the portions are VERY large, even at lunch. The wonton soup was perfect; the country-style tofu (deep fried and very fresh) in a spicy sauce was addictive. Everything was just what I wanted. It's just across the street from one of the entrances to the Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, which you should also visit.

Capone's, an Italian restaurant at 1141 Hamilton Street in Yaletown. My linguini in wild mushroom sauce was WONDERFUL. I remember loving the salad, but the pasta was just fabulous. This place is one of countless Yaletown restaurants with high ceilings and outdoor dining in a former warehouse district: the dining patios are on what were once loading docks, but made charming with brick and nice awnings and other such stuff. Window shopping in the area is a hoot. Oh, and my wine was great, but I didn't keep adequate notes, so I don't remember which Pinot Noir it was, but it was Canadian.

Crepe Cafe, a chain that appears on Robson, Granville, and other streets around town. The menu doesn't list very many options for savory crepes, but a spinach and feta crepe with mushrooms added from the options list is satisfying. The crepes are very similar to crepes we had in Paris, and the hot coffee drinks and other beverages finish the meal well. [Warning: for some reason, the Robson store forbids cameras. I didn't notice this going in, and so played with my camera quite a bit while adjusting some of the exposure settings. Ooops.]

Death By Chocolate, multiple locations including 818 Burrard, and in the 800s or 900s on Denman. Amazingly, profoundly decadent desserts. We had our final Vancouver meal there, because they offer a few non-dessert foods, including tasty soups (such as a vegetarian harira with tender lentils) and sandwiches melted in one of those fancy grill-presses, that both squeezes and toasts a sandwich at the same time (feta, tomato, and pesto, yum!). My favorite dessert experience there: a white chocolate mousse with huge shavings of white chocolate and segments from grapefruits, limes, and tangerines. Mmmmmmmmm. I also recommend this place highly.

The University of British Columbia's Sage Bistro was advertised as one of UBC's best kept secrets. Considering how long it took us to find it, despite having a map that clearly indicated it, it is no surprise. It has NO signage. It's hidden in a building that claims to be a hall associated with some particular field (aging studies, perhaps?), and it isn't until you burst into the building that you realize it's the former faculty dining facility, and that there's a restaurant down the stairs. It's a very charming restaurant - we ate in the lounge, with a big, friendly fireplace and a view of the rest of the facility and its garden outside. Everything was delicious. My entree was a simple black bean dish with chipotle, fresh cornbread, and a sprinkling of veggies, but it was PERFECT. The service was excellent; the wine was excellent; it was very relaxing and pleasant to eat there. It was a bit expensive, and the menu was quite short (perhaps 5 entrees at most?), but all were attractive choices for omnivores, and there was my fully veggie choices. We were the only guests for the first part of our meal. It's within easy walking distance of the Museum of Anthropology, which is part of why we went. I'm glad we ate there.

Sitar Indian Restaurant, 8 Powell Street, in Gastown: delicious stewed dishes served in generous portions. We asked for 'spicy' and got reasonably well spiced food that warmed us up. (I was tempted to ask for 'scorching,' but one of these days I'll actually get that, and I'm not sure that's what I really want. There was a time I ate at Indian Oven here in SF on Fillmore, and their scorching hot vindaloo actually was. I had a hard time tasting the other dishes for a few minutes.) The rice was a bit dry, but the sauces covered that and the naan was delicious.

The Templeton, a charming old-fashioned diner on Granville. Slightly greasy but very tasty egg and potato breakfasts, including huevos rancheros, farmer's skillet's of veggies and eggs served over potatoes, and other tasty things. Pleasant service. They apparently show movies on their screen over the counter if you eat there weekend nights.

Vancouver Art Museum Cafe. Wonderful sandwiches grilled with one of those presses, a wide array of salads, roasted veggies, quiches... It has an extensive menu for a museum, and everything I tasted was both well presented and very good. It's even reasonably priced! And there are lots of people behind the counter, so your order is handled quickly. If only it wasn't raining, we could have even had a lovely view of Robson Square from their large patio...

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last selectively updated september 29, 2013

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