Monday, October 6, 2014

Coney Island

coney_island_photo_01

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.

coney_island_photo_02

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.

coney_island_photo_03

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.

coney_island_photo_04

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.

coney_island_photo_05

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.

coney_island_photo_06

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.

coney_island_photo_07

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 other No Bull burgers.

Untitled

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!

Untitled

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

Untitled

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!

Untitled

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!
in_the_news
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:
cotton_candy_grapes_photo
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!

no_bull_tomato_photo_01

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.

no_bull_tomato_photo_02

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!

no_bull_tomato_photo_03

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)

no_bull_tomato_photo_04

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. And just like the Original flavor, these paties are both vegan and gluten-free.

no_bull_tomato_photo_05

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

no_bull_photo_01

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

no_bull_photo_02

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!

no_bull_photo_03

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

no_bull_photo_04

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.

no_bull_photo_05

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

no_bull_photo_06

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! Plus they're completely vegan and gluten-free.

no_bull_photo_07

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"

in_the_news
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:

steves_scotch_chocolate_photo

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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Veggie Burgers in the News

in_the_news
Thanks to an anonymous commenter who alerted me to the news that White Castle is now offering veggie sliders on its menu at some locations!

Although I have seen the film Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, I have never actually set foot inside a White Castle. But maybe I will have to change that soon, to try out these new sliders - which are made with Dr. Praegers veggie patties (no word on whether they are vegan or not, some of Dr. Praegers products are vegan while others are not). Supposedly they are only available for a limited time, as the fast food chain is just testing them out as a menu item - but hopefully they will realize the importance/benefit of offering vegetarian options, and make it a permanent menu item!

Has anyone tried these sliders yet? What did you think?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Veggie Burgers in the news - event in NYC

My friend Maria sent me this link as a heads-up to an exciting veggie burger event happening in NYC this Sunday:
Brooks Headley Has Created the Next-level Veggie Burger (via GrubStreet)

I don't know if I'll be able to attend, so if you are in NYC and you end up going, please let me know how it is!!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Made By Lukas Beet Veggie Burgers

The other day I spotted something new in the refrigerated vegetarian/vegan section of Whole Foods:

madebylucas_photo_01

I’ve tried a lot of refrigerated and frozen veggie burgers, and even veggie burgers made from a dry powdered mix before – but I’ve never tried veggie burgers made from a refrigerated vegetable mix, so I was excited to add this Made By Lukas beet vegetable burger mix to my shopping basket.

madebylucas_photo_02

The instructions said simply to “shape into 4 patties” – I was only cooking for myself, so I just made one (planning to eat the others in the next couple days, or shape them and freeze them if I need to keep them for longer). Wary of how the fresh beets might stain my hands, I wore latex gloves for this part.

madebylucas_photo_03
If you didn’t know that was a vegan mixture of beets, cabbage, quinoa, and sunflower seeds, wouldn’t you think it kind of looks like raw meat?

The mix is very soft, but once it fried for a few minutes on one side it was not difficult to keep it in one piece when I flipped it over with a spatula. I let it cook the full 4-6 minutes per side that the instructions recommended, but even fully cooked it was still quite soft.

madebylucas_photo_04

Beets are one of what I consider the secret ingredients for a great veggie burger – they add color that fools even meat-eaters, and they have a great hearty flavor.

That said, I also enjoy beets on their own and in various other recipes. But unlike other veggie burgers I’ve had in the past which contain this great ingredient in smaller amounts, the beet flavor is VERY prominent and unavoidable in these burgers. So while I’ve urged beet-haters to try other veggie burgers despite their misgivings about the bright red-pink ingredient, I would caution only beet-lovers to sample these ones! Beets are not the only ingredient, but they are the most prominent flavor.

madebylucas_photo_05

For beet-lovers, though, the taste of these patties is quite delicious! The only topping I put on my burger was a tiny bit of mayo, but I probably could have even done without that because the patty was so moist and flavorful on its own - and quite hearty and filling.

But eating it felt more like eating a vegan Sloppy-Joe than a burger. The patty was so soft, even after being fried on both sides, that it just mushed in my mouth like a shredded beet salad on a bun. The bun held it all inside okay, but the patty would not have kept its shape at all on its own. It was tasty, without a doubt, but quite a different experience from eating a “normal” veggie burger.

The Whole Foods location where I found this mix also had a carrot-parsnip flavor, which I was tempted by (because I love parsnips and think they are a very underrated vegetable!) – and the Made By Lukas website shows that they also offer a kale flavor, which is probably equally delicious. And they’re all completely vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free! This is probably the closest you can get to home-made without taking the time to measure and mix all those ingredients together on your own - so it's a great quick and easy option for a meal.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Made By Lukas
purchased at: Whole Foods in NYC (Bowery location)
price: $7.99 per container (makes 4 burgers)

YumVeggieBurger review #139

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sugo’s Beach Buns & Bites at Long Beach's Shoregasboard

Last weekend we took the Long Island Railroad out to Long Beach for a day of relaxation on the beach. The water was freezing cold, so I didn’t swim for more than a few minutes, but just lying on the sand by the ocean was lovely.

long_beach_photo_01

It had been a couple years since I was last at Long Beach; I don’t go there as often as I go to Rockaway Beach, so I had no idea what food options would await us. Luckily, we found Shoregasboard - a parking lot of food trucks right off of the boardwalk. And luckily, I found a veggie burger:

long_beach_photo_02

At first I was disappointed to see that Sugo’s Beach Buns & Bites did not have a vegetarian taco option (what the heck?), but I was mollified to see a veggie burger listed on the menu along with all their meat-burgers and hotdogs. The friendly food truck’s staff informed me that the patty was vegan, but the bun was not (and the burger comes with cheese by default, so ask for it without if you don’t eat dairy!).

long_beach_photo_03

After several hours out in the hot sun, I was starving, so I dug right into this burger – even though it had slices of Portobello mushrooms on top, and I’m normally not a mushroom fan (Portobello can occasionally be the exception to this rule for me, though). The patty was decent, it was obviously some brand of frozen burger patty, with large chunks of vegetables (including a lot of carrots, most notably). The flavor was pretty mild, nothing spectacular.

long_beach_photo_04

The arugula and Portobello slices gave the burger a little bit more substance and flavor, but it still felt small and flat, and for $8 I would have liked a bit more in the way of toppings! There was some kind of slightly spicy sauce as well – although there wasn’t enough of it to keep the whole burger from tasting a bit dry (I suppose normally the cheese helps with that, if you order it with the cheese). The bun was just average.

It wasn’t the most amazing burger (or the most filling – I was still hungry after!) I’ve ever eaten, but I was grateful that there was a vegetarian option available. I do seem to find veggie burgers wherever I go… I wasn’t even planning on reviewing one this day, but as soon as I saw it on the menu, I knew what my next blog post would be!

Cost: $8.00
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 2       Bun: 3      Toppings: 2

Sugo’s Beach Buns & Bites
parked at Shoregasboard at Long Beach
Riverside Blvd at the boardwalk
Long Beach, NY 11561

YumVeggieBurger review #138