Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One Mint Julep Was the Cause of it All

Sarah Vaughan and Quincy Jones, One Mint Julep

I used to listen to this song over and over again.  Now I'm a California girl, and I've been told that a mint julep is a decidedly Southern beverage.  I remember getting them at Disneyland, from a little place in New Orleans Square.  But I have since learned that those were not proper juleps.  They were just mint flavored lemonade.  Tasty, but not a julep.

Last night I had a proper julep. 

In fact, I think it was one of the most amazing cocktails I've ever had...ever.  I got it at The Sweet Hereafter, The Bye and Bye's new little brother over on Belmont.  Listed on the menu as a Gin Julep (traditionally juleps are made with bourbon, so I guess I still haven't really had a "proper" julep!) this little baby packed a wollop of a punch.  So tasty.  So fresh.  Mottled mint leaves floating in a tasty mix of gin and other incidentals...just a little spot of soul, now.  The absolute perfect end to my day yesterday.

Speaking of my day yesterday...It started out quite lovely with a nice walk along the river with Kittee and Vee.  We then headed over to the mini mall to visit with Emiko from Food Fight and Michelle from Herbivore.  I stocked up on tshirts and stickers and buttons and even got a new handbag!  From there Kittee and I headed over to Los Gorditos for breakfast.  She got a couple of xgfx tacos with soycurls.  I opted for a breakfast burrito with tofu, soy curls, beans, rice and salsa.  That burrito was ginormous.  I could only finish half of it. 

From there, Kittee and I said our goodbye-for-nows and I headed over to June and Kurt's to visit and play with their foster kitten.  Too cute for words.  The 3 of us headed out and we got ourselves some lunch at Pho Jasmine.  Great veggie pho.  Big bowls for super cheap. 

After a late lunch, we headed over to the Bye and Bye for an afternoon cocktail.  Of course I had the signature "Bye and Bye" served up in a big old mason jar.  So awesome.  Like pink lemonade on a hot sunny afternoon. 

I headed back to my hotel room for a bit to refresh myself and then June and Kurt picked me up and we headed downtown.  I was on a quest for a heavy metal bar that I swore I saw the day before.  Couldn't find it again, so we headed over to The Sweet Hereafter.

So, we've come full circle.  And one mint julep, was the cause of it all.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm here! Let's get the party started!

I usually drive up, but thought I'd fly this time.  And I usually stay with my sister, but thought I'd stay in a hotel this time since I was  going to be here for nine whole days. 


I had to stop in Seattle on the way here, and when I went to board the plane my boarding pass didn't scan, and then some dude walked up to the counter, "Are you Joni Marie Newman? I have your ticket."  "What?" I said.  But it was true.  He had a layover in Vancouver and they gave him my ticket.  Very strange.  But I guess even computers aren't perfect.  The flight agent figured it all out and we were all able to board.  YAY!  Only an hour to Portland now! 

We landed, My luggage arrived safely, and I boarded the MAX to go to my hotel.  "Lucky me! It drops me off right in front of my hotel."  Ginormous suitcase in tow, I go to check in. 

"Oh, I am so sorry.  We don't have any more rooms."  "What?" I said.  (Seems that this is my go to answer when I am delivered unexpected news.)  "Yeah...we're overbooked for the night, and we had 8 guests stayover."  Now, I understand that things happen.   I am a flexible, reasonable, generally easygoing kind of person.  I just expect people to handle things in a proper manner.  At 4 pm I called the Hotel and let them know that I would be arriving at around 10 pm.  No one told me anything at that time.  "Thank you, Miss Newman, your room will be ready!"  They had my phone number, they could have called me and let me know, you know? 

Anyhow, I'm on foot with all of my things...what am I supposed to do?  So they call around town to other hotels to put me up.  They finally find me a room at the University Place Hotel.  Fine.  "Can I get bus directions?"  "Um...Just take anything that goes downtown then find the 17."  It's a good thing I am not afraid of public transportation...late at night...in a city I am only somewhat familiar with...with all of my luggage.

I check in at the University Place Hotel...which is where the Vida Vegan Convention is going to be held anyways, so I am kind of excited...Same price as the Inn at the Convention Center, because of the mix up, they made up the difference, but like 10 times as nice.  "So, no charge, ma'am.  The Inn is taking care of it."  "Oh, cool."  "So, just check out with us in the morning."  "What?"  Apparently I have to go back to the Inn tomorrow.  


Dropped off my suitcase in my room.  By now it's almost midnight.  First night in Portland is a bust. Called the Inn to find out what time I could come back in the morning.  "Anytime after 8am."  "Are you sure?  Because checkout here is 11, and checkout there is 12."  "Yes, anytime after 8am." 

I walked across the street, got a bottle of wine.  Poured myself some.  Plopped down on the bed, and passed out before I ever finished the first glass.

Woke up at 7.  Took a shower, got dressed, packed up my things, checked out, boarded the train back to the Inn.  Got there at 9:45am.  "What was your name?"  "Joni Newman."  "Hmmm...I don't see anything here for you."  "What?"  I showed him my confirmation letter, blah, blah, blah.  10:15am I get my room key.  Made my way up to my room.  Dropped off my stuff.  (A quick word about this hotel.  It's less than half the price of most of the other Hotels in the area.  But it is in a great location.  The building is really ugly and dirty on the outside.  The lobby is a mess.  But the room is actually pretty cool.  Now that I am settled in, I really like it.  It's big, with a little kitchen area.  No stove, but microwave, coffee maker, fridge, bar with 2 barstools, and a sink!  The train picks up right out front, and it's centrally located to everything.  I even have a decent view out the window.)

The phone rings.  It's June and Kurt, they are downstairs waiting for me.  Thank goodness.  They whisk me off to Blossoming Lotus for brunch and all is well with the world.  I enjoyed the brunch special which was a special tofu scramble with cashew cheese, home fries and a big old pile of steamed kale.  I was a happy girl.

After brunch I decided I was going to have an "alone adventure."  I like to spend time alone.  Besides, I am going to be here for nine days.  I would like to walk about town, pick up a few necessities, and go back to the hotel and get unpacked and settled in.

So I started walking.  My target?  Food Fight Grocery.  I needed to get some stuff to stock my little hotel kitchen for the week.  Score.  I got snacks, drinks, coconut creamer for my morning cup, a copy of Kittee's Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food and a new "What kind of asshole would eat a lamb?" tote!  I also noticed that they were carrying  two of my cookbooks.  Very cool.  Thanks Food Fight. 

I walked back to my hotel to drop off my loot.  Unpack my suitcase, take a shower, and see what else I could see with the remainder of the night.  I decide to go downtown and check out some of the food carts.  I am distracted by the Saturday Market, which apparently does it's thing on Sundays too.  I wander through aisle after aisle of hippie goodness, grab a coconut boba, some incense, enjoy some street performers, and keep walking. 

So sad.  Most of the carts are closed by now.  I make a note of where they are so I can come back again later in the week, and once again head back to my hotel to make my next plans.

Pizza is what I need for dinner!  So I get on the bus and head down to Mississippi Pizza Pub for a vegan pie.  While I am waiting I enjoy a fresh fruit cocktail in the lounge, and some live music.  Pizza in tow, I head back to my hotel once again.  This time for the night.  I throw on my jammies, turn on the boobtube, and nosh on my pizza in the middle of the king sized bed.

Not a bad first day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2 Southern California businesses I support with my consumer dollar

I've been working a lot lately.  And I have to commute pretty far, so I really appreciate every dollar I earn.  So it's that much more important to me where I spend my dollars.  I want to make sure that I am supporting companies that have a passion and a goal to not only sell a cool, useful, or tasty product, but to make the world a better place in the process.  I also want to try to support local business whenever possible, so I am excited to pimp out these 2 local SoCal upstarts, who do just that.

Sugar Beets Bakery, in Chino, is a gluten free vegan bakery that is outta this world.  Gina is a master in the kitchen and bakes up gf goodies that are so moist and gooey and delicious you would never guess they were wheat free.  She has recently opened up her doors for walk in business on Thursdays an Sundays.  I was there this morning and got 2 boxes full of ahhhh-mazing goodies.  Donuts, cookies, cupcakes and brownies to be exact.  (I foresee many extra miles to be run this week to make up for it, too!) Visit her website for hours, menus, and more information.

Arm the Animals, out of Long Beach is a T-shirt company with a simple mission.  Provide financial support to struggling no-kill animal shelters.  The shirts are really cute too.  Lots of colors and fun designs that make a statement.  Check out their website for more info or to check out where they'll be setting up shop next.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Veggie Awards!

Celine and I have been nominated for a Veggie Award in the Favorite Cookbook Author category!  It is such an honor to be nominated, but could you imagine if we actually won?

The coolest thing is, if you vote, you could win too!  So click on the vote button below, and vote for us!

2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni