Thursday, November 20, 2014

MorningStar Farms Roasted Garlic and Quinoa Burger

I spotted these Roasted Garlic and Quinoa Burgers in the frozen food section at my local grocery store and thought I’d give them a try:

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Unlike some of MorningStar’s products, these burgers are vegan! Since they are branded as “new” I wonder if this is a conscious effort on the brand’s part to make products that are accessible to more people.

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They fried up well in my cast-iron pan with a bit of olive oil. The quinoa and rice seemed to really soak up the oil, so careful how much you fry the patty in if you don’t want it to get too oily! The quinoa and rice made for a rather soft patty, so although it held together just fine in the frying pan, I don’t imagine it would survive as well on a barbecue grill.

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I kept my burger simple, serving it on a whole wheat bun topped with just a couple tomato slices and mayo. I wanted to be able to taste the patty without masking it with too many other flavors.

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The taste was very pleasant – just a faint hint of garlic, not too strong (when “roasted garlic” is the first flavor listed, I worried it would be overpoweringly garlic-y, but that was not the case at all!). The quinoa and rice were the most prominent ingredients, but the peppers also stood out – as well as a few lentils scattered in the mix, much to my surprise! It was very light, not a super filling patty – you’d probably want a heartier one if you were really hungry, but for a light, healthy meal this would be perfect.

Overall, this is a nice addition to MorningStar’s line of products. It’s not a hearty, “meaty” burger like you might traditionally imagine, but it’s a tasty patty that would be just as good served on its own as on a bun, and a nice new option to have available in the vegetarian frozen food section.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

MorningStar Farms Roasted Garlic and Quinoa Burger
purchased at: Key Food in Queens, New York
price: $5.99 for a box of 4 patties

YumVeggieBurger review #146

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mugs Alehouse

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I was meeting a friend for after-work drinks last month, and he suggested Mugs Alehouse as a good, low-key, not too crowded or too hipster-y spot in Williamsburg. I was skeptical, as it looked like the kind of generic sports bar that I usually avoid… And when my friend told me they had a veggie burger on the menu, I expected the kind of gross, bland, frozen veggie burger afterthought that most sports bars include on their menu.

But I was pleasantly surprised!

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The veggie burger on the menu here is a homemade patty! Quinoa was the prominent ingredient, but there was also corn and some other bits of veggies mixed in with it. It was far better than I normally expect from a bar! More like a quinoa patty (I've had them served on their own like that at other restaurants) than a hearty burger patty, but still tasty.

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Topped with arugula, tomato slices, and pickled red onions (my favorite!), as well as herbed mayo and an avocado spread beneath the patty, I was quite satisfied with my meal. The brioche bun was better than the kind of bun I would have expected too – a nice soft, sweet bread, grilled to a light toast.

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I inquired about the ingredients, and was told that the patty contains eggs, and they were not sure about the bun (so if you are vegetarian but can’t/don’t eat dairy, I would err on the side of caution since many buns not made in-house contain milk or butter, unless the restaurant specifically states that they are vegan).

Cost: $10.00 (comes with a side of fries)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 3      Toppings: 4

Mugs Alehouse
125 Bedford Avenue
on the corner of North 10th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
718.486.8232

YumVeggieBurger review #145

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Best Thing I Ate This Month That Wasn't A Veggie Burger

Happy Halloween!
In honor of the holiday that's all about trick-or-treating, here's a vegan treat for my "best of the month" post:

Vegan donuts from Dun-Well Doughnuts!

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Pistachio Doughnut... yum!

I've been eating Dun-Well's doughnuts since before they had their own brick-and-mortar shop, back when they delivered them to vegan shops around the city and I would bike to Brooklyn to pick them up from Champ's Bakery because they are sooooo good.

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And their store is the cutest - and that display case of doughnuts just makes my mouth water.
If you haven't been out to Brooklyn to check them out, you should make a point to do so asap!

Dun-Well Doughnuts
222 Montrose Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11206
347.294.0871

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Café Ghia

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It’s hard not to like a café that plays music like Eagles of Death Metal and has a photo of Laura Palmer on the wall behind a bar. But I liked Café Ghia even more when I saw that they had a vegan veggie burger on their menu!

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Topped with tomato, sprouts, and pickles, this was a fresh and healthy lunch indeed. It came with some vegan mayo served on the side – but the mayo had such an amazing, tangy, spicy flavor that I slathered it on the soft, sesame-seed-encrusted bun.

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The patty was a hearty mix of beans and vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, peppers, and onions, plus possibly more that I did not identify). It was very flavorful and well-seasoned with a spice that seemed familiar but I could not quite identify it. Fried to a light crisp on the outside, the patty was still moist and mush in the middle. Yum!

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I don’t find myself out in Bushwick often (in fact, this is my first veggie burger review from that neighborhood!), but I was in the neighborhood for work, and I’m glad I had the chance to try this delicious burger while I was here. It’s a bit pricy for lunch at $13 (side salad included) but that’s not unheard of in New York – even in Brooklyn, these days!

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Cost: $13.00
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 4      Toppings: 4

Café Ghia
24 Irving Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237
718.821.8806

YumVeggieBurger review #144

Monday, October 6, 2014

Coney Island

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A couple weekends ago, my friend Michelle and I took a trip to Coney Island for one last hurrah before we accepted the sad truth that summer is over.

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It was a really grey, hazy day in the morning. But we enjoyed being able to walk along the boardwalk and explore the amusement park area without huge crowds.

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Not wanting to subsist only on cotton candy and deep-fried oreos (as delicious as those indulgences are), we were pleasantly surprised to find one of the fast-food vendors serving veggie burgers along with the usual plethora of meat options.

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The menu indicated that the veggie burgers were Dr. Praegers veggie patties, but did not specify which flavor (looking at the Dr. Praegers website, it appears that some flavors are vegan while others are not). The cook did not know if the bun was vegan either.

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Although my expectations for this burger were pretty low to begin with (finding good vegetarian food at Coney Island was something I remembered not being easy in the past), it was still a disappointing sight to see, even as hungry as Michelle and I were. The bun was too small for the patty, and really crumbly (stale?), and made the whole thing hard to eat. That sad piece of iceberg lettuce you can see peeking out behind the burger was just as depressing as it looks. The tomato was just “okay”.

And the patty itself was rather bland. I’ve never been a fan of Dr. Praegers, and this patty did not change my mind (although it looks like they have some new flavors that I haven’t seen before, so maybe I need to give them a second chance). Even with a generous squirt of ketchup, my burger was pretty boring. As fuel to keep us going for an afternoon of amusement park rides, it worked – but it was not a particularly enjoyable meal.

While it’s of course heartening to see that at least one food vendor at Coney Island offers a vegetarian option beyond cheese pizza (even the taco stand we found didn’t have a veggie option!), it’s disappointing that there aren’t more of these options (and better quality ones). Part of the wonder of Coney Island is how most of it feels stuck in the past – but it would be nice if the food at least would keep up with modern dietary needs so that vegetarian and vegan visitors don’t have to worry about what they will find to eat.

Cost: $5 (looked like it was marked down for the end-of-season, and they didn’t charge us the extra 50cents the menu threatened for the lettuce and tomato!)
Rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 2       Bun: 1      Toppings: 1

Coney Island
Brooklyn, NY 11224
the food stand where we found these veggie burgers was behind the sideshow, before Luna Park.

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Luckily, the rest of our day at Coney Island was not ruined by the disappointing burger! The sun came out in the afternoon, we had a great time, and stayed until the park closed after dark.
If you haven't been to Coney Island before - you should definitely go next summer! Just bring a bagged lunch with you.

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YumVeggieBurger review #143

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

No Bull Mama Mia Spicy Italian Burgers

Working my way through the box of No Bull burgers that my mother sent me, next up was the Mama Mia Spicy Italian burger!
I was excited to try this flavor, which is vegan and gluten-free, just like the Sundried Tomato flavor (remember, the Original is not vegan, because that one contains eggs for some reason!).

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I fried the patty in a pan with a bit of olive oil for a few minutes on each side. The outside crisped up nicely, turning a golden brown. And look at the tomatoes and spinach you can see in the patty! I'm still amazed by how close to homemade these not only taste but also look!

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Keeping with the Italian theme, I topped my burger with some marinara sauce and melted vegan mozzarella (Trader Joe’s brand).

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Biting into it, I found that the word “spicy” did not exaggerate – these had a medium-hot kick to them, which I loved! Inside the patty was the same hearty, chunky blend of vegetables and beans that the other No Bull patties had delivered. It was delicious!

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Although the Italian flavor might not be what comes to mind or what you crave when you think of “burger”, this was a great flavor variation, and one that I would happily eat again.

I'm so thankful to my mom for sending me such a thoughtful present - I hope eventually No Bull burgers are for sale in stores in NYC, but otherwise I might have to plan to bring some back with me every time I visit my family from now on...

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
No Bull Burgers (Mama Mia Spicy Italian)
Purchased online and shipped to New York
Available in stores and served in restaurants in select states – check website for location
price: $10.00 for a pack of 4 patties

YumVeggieBurger review #142

Friday, September 19, 2014

Veggie Burgers In The News

... in a really awesome way!
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Beyond Meat Offers Free Veggie Burgers To Burger Chain Restaurants That Agree To Give Them A Trial Run On Their Menus
(via One Green Planet)

I'm super excited to try Beyond Meat's new "Beast Burger" as soon as it hits stores (I've been cooking with their "chicken" strips for the past year, and they are great!) but I am even more excited about this challenge to mainstream burger chains, and what it could mean for the future of vegetarian options on restaurant menus!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Best Thing I Ate This Month That Wasn't A Veggie Burger

I did a double-take when I saw these in Whole Foods the other day:
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COTTON CANDY grapes???
Did that mean they tasted like cotton candy? Or was it just a strange brand name? I had to try them.

And when I did - WOW! They really do taste like cotton candy! The first bite was disorienting, sweet and candy-like, just like the spun sugar itself. I couldn't believe that what looked like a normal grape tasted like something completely different. As I continued chewing it, it tasted more like a normal grape - but when I popped another one into my mouth, the first bite again surprised me with its cotton-candy flavor.

I had never heard of these, and only spotted them by chance in Whole Foods. But I'm glad I did - they're kind of awesome! I want to serve these at my next party and see my friends' reactions!

Cotton Candy Grapes
Purchased at Whole Foods in Manhattan (Bowery location)
Check the Cotton Candy Grapes website to see other locations where they are sold.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

No Bull Sundried Tomato Burgers

Working my way through the care package of No Bull veggie burgers that my mother sent me…
Next up was the Sundried Tomato variety...
This flavor, unlike the Original flavor, is both gluten-free and vegan!

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I had some friends over for a barbecue, so it was the perfect chance to test out how these delicious patties would hold up on the grill.

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The verdict? Awesome! I brushed them with a little olive oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill, and they cooked up just fine. Even though they are rather soft, like the original patties, they held together well and not a single one fell apart on the grill, even when I flipped them a couple times!

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Served on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato and mayo (those are the remnants of a delicious herbed potato salad which you see on the plate beneath the burger)

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Yum! Just as good as the original, but with a savory sundried-tomato kick. Still hearty lentils and big chunks of vegetables – especially spinach, which I enjoyed very much. The sundried-tomato flavor was strong, but not overpowering.

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I was really impressed by how a burger with such a homemade texture nonetheless held up so well on the grill! I am wary of which patties I choose to throw on the barbecue because I’ve had too many fall apart and slip into the flames in the past, but No Bull proved itself a winner in yet another way.

One flavor left to try: “Mama Mia Spicy Italian”. Can’t wait!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

No Bull Burgers (Sundried Tomato)
Purchased online and shipped to New York
Available in stores and served in restaurants in select states – check website for location
price: $10.00 for a pack of 4 patties

YumVeggieBurger review #141

Monday, August 11, 2014

No Bull Burgers

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My mother recently sent me the most amazing present in the mail:

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Veggie burgers!

These are made in my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. They are sold in stores in Virginia and several other surrounding states, but they aren’t available in New York (yet), so my mother ordered some and had them mailed to me in a freezer pack!

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She sent me three of the four different varieties that No Bull makes. The “Original” flavor seemed like a good choice to start with:

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I fried the frozen patty in a frying pan with a little olive oil. It cooked evenly, and browned to a nice crisp. Although the patty looked soft, it held together well as I flipped it with a spatula.

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Keeping it simple for my taste-test, I served it on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

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Wow. From the first bite, I was in love – the patty was a hearty, delicious blend of lentils and vegetables. This was definitely one of the best store-bought burger patties I had ever tasted! EDITED: Please note, the "Original" flavor and the "mushroom" flavor are NOT vegan (they contain egg). The "Spicy Italian" and "Sundried Tomato" flavors, which I review next, ARE vegan though.

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Actually, if I had not known better, I would not have believed it was store-bought. It was without a doubt the closest to home-made that any store bought patty has come. Aside from the fact that I had seen it in its frozen state only a few minutes ago, nothing about it seemed pre-packaged. I know a lot of burgers have whole lentils and pieces of vegetables in them, but these were extra large, hearty pieces that made it feel far more like something made in someone’s kitchen than on a factory line.

With how delicious it was, and how easy it was to cook, this has easily earned its spot as one of my favorite store-bought burgers. I’m so glad my mother sent them to me to try! And I can’t wait to try the other two flavors I got as well: Sundried Tomato and “Mama Mia Spicy Italian”.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

No Bull Burgers (Original)
Purchased online and shipped to New York
Available in stores and served in restaurants in select states – check website for location
price: $9.50 for a pack of 4 patties

YumVeggieBurger review #140

Monday, August 4, 2014

Veggie Burgers in the "News"

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The Onion recently featured an amusing article on The Pros and Cons of Going Vegetarian.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Best Thing I Ate This Month That Wasn't A Veggie Burger

In case you aren't lucky enough to live just a couple blocks away from an amazing ice cream shop that has incredible vegan flavors, I thought I'd share one of my favorite store-bought vegan ice creams:

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Yes, you read that correctly: Chocolate blended with Scotch Whiskey. I don't talk about alcohol much on this blog because, well, I've never found a veggie burger with bourbon in it (but if that exists, please invite me to eat it!) But I love whiskey.

And I love chocolate. So chocolate + whiskey together in vegan ice cream? That's kind of my idea of heaven.

Steve's Ice Cream is made in Brooklyn, but their website says it's available at natural food stores across the U.S. - I even looked up my hometown in Virginia, and it says Steve's Ice Cream is available there too! Not all of their flavors are vegan, and the packaging does not make it obvious which ones are at first (look for the small print that says "non-dairy" at the bottom of the label), but they have a few other vegan flavors in addition to the Chocolate Scotch... although I have to confess, I have not tried them yet because I just can't help myself from always buying the flavor I am obsessed with.

Steve's Ice Cream
Purchased at: Whole Foods in Manhattan and Natural Frontier Market in Astoria, Queens
Available at other natural foods stores around the U.S., check website for locations.