17 October 2013

Veg*n Ventures | Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

Continuing on the theme of last Saturday's post, I realise since March I have patronized quite a few restaurants in the DMV area. Sometimes I was on dates, or artist's dates, or out with friends or family. As I pointed out last week, there is a difference in being veg*n or gluten-free by choice or by force. What do your vegan and gluten-free date's eating habits say about her bedroom habits?

For one, I know I am a bit of a running joke amongst some friends/acquaintances because I ask 20 questions whenever I order at a restaurant, even one I researched or have patronized on other occasions (I exaggerate but slightly). So, MSN article authors, I ask you, what does a date who is a demanding restaurant patron do behind closed doors?

Khepra's Raw Food Juice Bar
 Absolutely frickin' delicious gem in Capitol Hill. The flavourful food is abundant and of course the pricetag reflects its raw nature (told you VGFers aren't cheap). No matter who your manipulative, dessert-sharing company is, it'll be an enjoyable journey, figuring out "how did they do that," make mock crab from coconut. Nota bene that it is now a rule with me *not* to share dessert.
Good Goth, that strawberry raw cheezecake was the shiznit.

Whole Foods Market, Arlington, VA

For serious. My former place of employment. Even with employee discount, I was incapable of getting less than a $15 salad (at $8.49/lb for hot bar and salad bar, and fruit and hommos are heavy...). People who manage to keep their box under $10 usually scope the entire bar before making their selection.


I will not consider you cheap if you treat me to Chippy. It's about the only fast food restaurant where I can get a decent meal. Sure, I should lay off the nightshades, but for an occasional treat, a veg burrito bowl (brown rice, black beans, fajita veg, corn salsa, hot salsa, lettuce, hold the tortilla and yes, please, guac) is where it's at.

The Boulevard Woodgrill
There's about one thing on the lunch menu that's Q-friendly: a salad sans cheese and croutons. It was a classy spinach, fruit and nut deal. It was not cool to be watched by my dining partner while eating. Apparently [watching me eat] is a turn-on to some people.

Went there after getting my first tattoo. Food was properly spicy and made for good post-tattoo adrenalin-high eating. Took a date there a couple years later. Their channa masala fits my definition of comfort food because it's hearty and heavy (in a vegetarian food way) and slows down brain function in a good way. Said date also liked watching me eat. The lentil dal was also excellently spiced. After 22:00, they do takeout only.


My parents took me to the one within walking distance of my apartment when I moved to Gaithersburg. Slim pickings for a VGFer (they wouldn't use corn tortillas for enchiladas, even deconstructed ones) but es autentico.

Delhi Dhaba
Serves a mean baignan bharta. And they put peas in the rice, which is cool. Patronize this place more!

Rien Tong Restaurant

At least they offer brown rice. There's better Thai food in Arlington, viz.--

Thai at Corner

A step up from Rien Tong. Solid green curry, which is my staple safe food at Thai restaurants.

Cafe Asia
Seems like a place to be seen in ARL. Brown rice would be nice, but the panang curry with tofu was properly spicy and the salad with its shredded carrots was fun to eat.

Grounded Coffee Shop
Cute independent coffee shop. Closes early (18:00). Eclectic artwork on the walls and very well-lit (they're not pretending to be artsy and dark...bring your own darkness).

Delhi Club
Can you tell Indian food is my fave? Though chana masala is about the only vegan entree, it's properly spicy. The salad provides a crunchy counterpoint to the velvety chana. I suspect the papodums may have been brushed with ghee.

Everlasting Life

Rival to Sticky Fingers if only because they have more greens. GF options are available amongst the 100 per cent vegan menu, and the carob shake beats a cupcake for dessert. Yes, these are fighting words. Yes, I asked my date to take my "Flex Friday" photo.

Sweet 27

That being said about cupcakes, of the four or so different kinds of cupcakes I have had from Sweet 27 thus far (vanilla, chocolate peanut butter, raspberry...) none have disappointed. Their pizza with vegan cheeze is the only commercially available truly vegan and gluten-free pizza I have had and I liked it. The crust was light and fluffy, a miracle of kitchen science. As they are connected to a Thai restaurant, everything in the entree category is spicy. The tacos are nose-runningly so (and they're even better with sriracha!). Filling eats, reasonably priced, they sell kombucha, and they have dessert--what's not to like?!

Dessert goes with dates (dates for dessert? I'm talking about the fruit, you people!). This is chocolate pecan torte, remade without actual chocolate. I promised it in February and now I deliver. As I was speaking with a dear friend when I made this, of course it turned out better than when I first made it! The torte is still a dense, intense chocolate experience, albeit smooth and luscious. I made three "flourless" chocolate cakes this week and they have each been enjoyable in their own unique way.

It's not so much that I've been on a triple recipe-testing kick; I've finally given credence to the idea that a recipe can be made entirely in one machine (i.e., Vitamix, and less cleanup). When I remade the paleo pumpkin bars as heart-shaped muffins on Sunday, I made the batter entirely in the Vitamix and had a much fluffier result, probably closer to the original recipe. All the pumpkin breads received omnivore approvals, no matter what the texture. The flourless chocolate cakes have all been Vitamix-only recipes which is how I can bang them out after work no sweat (OK, yes, sweat, because I have the air turned off and the sliding glass door open and the kitchen is tiny).

Chocolate Pecan Torte

1/4 cup pecans or hazelnuts, toasted
3 ounces coconut butter (or oil, but butter is better)
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
1/4 cup black cocoa powder (or Dutch process)
3 tablespoons arrowroot starch
1 tablespoon powdered egg replacer (such as En-r-gee)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
dash salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch pan with oil and line with parchment, then grease the parchment. Toast the nuts on a piece of foil in the preheating oven, about 8 minutes, or until fragrant.

In a blender or food processor, blitz the toasted nuts, coconut butter, cacao nibs, maple syrup, water, chias, and vanilla until uniformly combined and slightly gritty. 

Add the dry ingredients and blend until uniformly combined, scraping down the sides of the blender occasionally.

Transfer to pan and bake for 27-30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean and the top of the torte springs back to the touch.  Cool completely in the pan on a rack. Cover and refrigerate when cool.

As for this author's bedroom habits, that's not the subject of this blog! All's I'm gonna leave you with is this.

1) Bedroom habits? Wouldn't that make the, uh, activities of the bedroom boring if one did the same thing? Or are we talking about Freudian obsessive rituals (such as mine: how I like to pray, read sacred text, and do yoga before bed...must do that...otherwise, nightmares...it's a compulsion!)?

2) In college, as my fellow participants and I noted in sexuality discussion groups and, particularly, in a panel on abstinence, those of us who proclaimed abstinence was a major part of our lives also abstained from eating flesh.

Parting shots:
Version III of flourless chocolate cake, made with beans and tofu.

 Version I of flourless chocolate cake, made pretty much as-is from Gluten-Free Goddess.

Carnival squash cornbread for National Bread Day. Gotta love that "fried" crust from hot oil + cold batter + hot cast iron.

Carnival squash blondies for a potluck.

 Another shot of flourless chocolate cake Version I. Yeah, all that money I save by not driving to work? I spend on gas for my oven.

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