Friday, August 12, 2011

Plum Vegan Bistro - Seattle, WA

Yes, I'm still alive.

I say this every time, I know, but I've neglected the blog once again while I attempt to make sense of the craziness that is life. I'm still without a new job, which brings both anxiety about money and the childlike excitement of having four day weekends! Last weekend Joe and I ventured up to Seattle (again, I've been there a lot this summer!) with the boat to check out Seafair. Seafair is basically a big festival complete with drunken hoards on boats, watching the blue angels fly, and hydroplane races. I'd never been so I didn't know what to expect...but wow, it was unreal. Boats literally everywhere, swells that you'd expect to find amidst a storm way out at sea (which sucks when you are hungover, ughh), and a flight show by the Blue Angels that is sure to blow your mind. I loved it!

What I also love about visiting Seattle is trying new restaurants!! Seattle's no Portland, but it has it's share of vegan, allergy friendly cuisine. Last time, I checked out Chaco Canyon, which was absolutely to die for, but this time we stayed in Capitol Hill so I was determined to find somewhere a little closer to try for the first time. Luckily, Joe's friend Chris, who we stayed with, has a roommate who's girlfriend is vegan, so a quick text and we were on our way to Plum Bistro.

Upon arriving, it was clear to me that this was the most upscale vegan spot I've ever been to. The decor made me feel like I was in some exclusive, members only ski lodge in Aspen; wood beams on the ceilings, dim light, just a very elegant feel.

The menu honestly looks like a menu you'd get at a regular gourmet restaurant: protein dishes, gourmet burgers and pizza, pasta, salads, and a custom drink menu. Yet instead of ordering a "steak", "seafood", "pork" or "chicken" entree, you ordered a "tempeh", "seitan", "quinoa" and "tofu" entree. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. This was definitely the first time I'd ever seen a menu like this in a vegan restaurant. To top it off, they label what is gluten free by adding a little G with a slash through it next to the description, AND everything on the menu is made with 100% organic ingredients! That being said, it's obviously on the spendier side, but so worth it.

We started with an appetizer, and I absolutely could not resist ordering the avocado roll. I love sushi so any chance for me to try a new type of vegan sushi roll I'm all over it. But it seriously exceeded my expectations; I can easily say it was the best vegan sushi roll I've ever had. Better than like actual sushi places. The concoction inside the roll tasted like it could almost be raw tuna, but better due to whatever seasoning was used. I honestly still am not sure what was in it, but it was amazing. Even cooler, they make it with brown rice instead of white...I hardly come across that in sushi places and I'm so glad they were conscious enough to make the switch!

For dinner, I couldn't wait to try a tempeh entree. Although the Tempeh Vermouth is their most popular item, I decided to go off the beaten path and check out the Chipotle Glazed Tempeh (which, I just noticed, isn't on their permanent menu...bummer). It came out topped with mango salsa on a bed of steamed greens and man was it good! I think I may have licked my plate really inspired me to get good at cooking tempeh.

Joe, of course, couldn't resist ordering a burger. He ended up with the Crazy Jamaican Burger. The burger was jerk tofu, topped with ripe plantains, sweet onions, potato salad and tomatoes, with a side of fries. Thanks to the bun I couldn't try an actual bite, but I tasted the burger part and the fries and WOW. Easily some of the best fries I've ever had, and the burger had such a unique but satisfying flavor. And of course, Joe and Chris both loved it, which means it had the "normal-eater" stamp of approval :)

At the end of the meal, it was honestly all I could do to not order more food, I was so intrigued by the menu and seriously dying to sample everything! There is no question I'll be back....I gotta find out the secret ingredient in that sushi so I can make it and share it with all of you! ;-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

WTF Brewfest??

What a weekend!

First off, I can't even say how thankful I am that we are finally having nice weather! And its been consistent! This is what I live for...especially when I can spend my weekends on the boat, perusing farmer's markets, and experiencing all that summer in Portland has to offer!

If you are a Portlander, you know that the Oregon Brewer's Festival, lovingly dubbed "Brewfest", is the biggest (and there are quite a few) brewer's festival in Portland. Always the last weekend of July, it showcases beers from all over the Northwest, many of them made right here in town. Although I'm not a beer drinker (hello gluten!), I always go because I love the atmosphere...tons of wasted people being wild and loving life. I have a blast everytime, despite being sober in a sea of drunks.

This year however, I was pleased to hear that Brewfest would have a gluten free beer for the first time ever! Deschute's Brewery's Gluten Free Pale Ale (which I love), was among the beers being showcased. I was so excited that I'd finally be able to participate in a ritual that is so loved by Portlanders and out of towner's alike.

All my friends planned on going Saturday afternoon and staying all day, and sure enough, when Joe and I arrived, we immediately ran into people we knew. It was super packed, and everyone seemed to be having an amazing time already. We made a beeline for the Deschutes trailer, eager to try their GF concoction, only to find....nothing. The sign for Deschutes brewery had a makeshift sign up advertising some beer that was definitely not gluten free. When I inquired, I was informed that they were out. OUT. As in, nothing left. I was so disappointed. And then I was kinda angry. Here's my deal. People like me who are gluten free usually don't expect to be included in festivities involving beer. Like I said, I've had a blast in the past sober, simply because thats what I went in expecting. But when you go out of your way to advertise that you will be offering a gluten free beer, you open the doors for celiacs and gluten intolerant people to finally come where they may not have before. Once we are there, and have paid our money to get in, we don't really have any options besides that one gluten free beer, and its not like admission and tokens are refundable. So we naturally expect that what we came for will be there. So Joe and I were stuck with an extra mug and wayy too many tokens (we had leftovers even after Joe blacked out...).

I think what annoyed me most about the whole deal is that when we got to the front of the line to buy tokens, I specifically asked about the GF beer, making sure I hadn't been misinformed that it even existed and finding out where it was located. The guy assured me it existed, sold us tokens, and pointed us in the right direction. I understand that it would be overwhelming to keep up with all the beers and which ones had run out, but when you have an entire demographic that comes for one specific beer for health purposes, you'd better be on top of your ish...

I'm normally a big complainer, since I know I'm one of the most high maintenance eaters on the planet. I'm usually happy that people even consider accomadating my requests. But when you advertise something, you should really pull through on it, especially because if you don't, you are losing an entire demographic of people. I do plan on sending an email so that they don't make the same mistake next year. If you feel the same, please send an email as well, requesting not only that they serve gluten free beer, but that they bring enough! I'll be contacting the festival director, Art Larrance, at, I encourage you to do the same!