Monday, November 28, 2016

Vegan Mofo Day #18: The Greenside Cafe

For Vegan Mofo #18, Joburg's The Green Side Cafe in the Greenside neighborhood (near Conscious 108) offers a range of burgers, pastas, pizzas, and milkshakes. In other words, it's another vegan comfort food haven. They also have a meditation center-- how thoughtful! I caught an Uber here on a Friday night, set on painting the city red with plant based spirits.
Their menu had mouth watering appeal such as Phyllo Delight Stew (tofu and sweet potato stuffed napolita), whole grain sushi, mince and vegetable pie, raw maple cheesecake, and so much more.
This is the yummylicious Lazy Boy Smoothie consisting of coconut milk, almond butter, dates, and vanilla bean.
I ordered Lasagna a la Tegan-- pumpkin, mushroom, tomato, sauteed tofu, and macadamia nut and rosemary cashew cream. It comes out in the pan it was baked in-- nice and hot. Kind, gracious waitress, with shaved sides and dyed green, short length straight back braids, also brought a degree of spunk to the place. In fact, I rather liked each individual woman walking to and fro, there was something special about them.
I felt incredibly blessed to have dinner at such a charming dining establishment, a place finer than a lot of places I've frequented in the states. Fine quality food, fresh flowers in clear water filled vases brightening every table, and affable beautiful staff.... I couldn't have asked for a better spot.
I found it impossible to finish this rich, incredibly savory dish that tasted of autumn delight. Even though at one moment, all of the restaurant's power went out and waitresses scrambled over to tables with tea light candles, I continued eating in darkness, with eyes closed, humming over such divine comfort. Sadness did arrive when the waitress said, "I hope you come back." I really, really want to.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Vegan Mofo Day #17: Matlombe Lounge: A Divine Culinary Experience

For Vegan Mofo post #17, I wasn't particularly interested in taking lunch vouchers at the conference. My mind imagined meat sandwiches and cold salads with honey dressing. I didn't want to take chances. So imagine the surprised look on my face as while walking to Newtown Junction Mall with two other conference ladies, we spied a sign for Matlombe Lounge-- a new vegan/vegetarian restaurant. While the ladies continued for the mall, I headed towards this establishment-- giddy and excited.
When I ordered falafel, I hadn't expected it to arrive like club sandwiches. It was a terrific surprise! Grilled pita bread with flattened falafel patties, pickled crisp mixed vegetables, and avocado inside. If anyone had told me this was a falafel sandwich, I would deem them lies. I'll see if I can mimic this delicious creation at home-- so good. 
While the sandwiches were indeed incredibly scrumptious, the fries were lukewarm and greasy.
This is decaf Gingerbread Latte with Soya Milk-- fantastic and so much better than expensive Starbucks red holiday cup.
Varied sugars inside a red and white beaded cup.
They also cater for events.
Before I paid my bill, the waiter asked, "how was everything?"
"Incredible!" I told him.
We high-fived each other-- both of us happy and proud. 

Saturday Morning Breakfast

"I remember you here from yesterday," said the brown eyed waiter, dressed in clean, starched black uniform.
"You do?" I asked, surprised. I hadn't recalled seeing him.
Inside, I also hoped he didn't see me mauling falafel as though it were my last meal on Mother Earth.
"Yes," he said, offering a polite smile.
"I just love the food."
"I see that. Thank you for returning."
I grinned.
Such a wonderfully cordial exchange.

The next day, before conference's final day, I ate breakfast at the lounge, having enjoyed last visit. I started off with this awesome Nutty Banana Smoothie.
The Sunrise Breakfast Platter contained vegetable tofu scramble, grilled zucchini, sliced tomato, avocado slices, and hearty toast.
Ravenous and blissful, I devoured my morning meal with ease. Although I picked out black olives (I will never ever like olives), the vegetable tofu scramble fulfilled appetite. Pieces of mushrooms and green and red peppers tasted
Naturally, I spread avocado on the toast instead of the two butter options. I think I made right decision.
This breakfast truly fit well together! I was well satisfied on final conference day.

Vegan Mofo Day #16: Conscious 108

For Vegan Mofo post number 16, is a first of several restaurant reviews-- each one peppered in adventure and mayhem. According to Google Maps, taking a walk from Protea to all vegan, HappyCow recommended Conscious 108 was supposed to be an hour and a half. I left hotel around noon. When I sat at the restaurant, rounded wall clock read 3:15PM. Yes. It took over three hours to get there. In between walking up and down hills, taking sun reflecting photographs, smelling fresh scattered lavender perfuming pavements, I believe it was well worth the journey.
The black and white menu, chic and adorable, reminded me a little bit of Chloe.
The dessert menu is always the most difficult. From cakes to ice cream to tiramisu, I admit wanting to try them all out.
Raspberry cordial (very, very sweet) paired with Schweppe's lemonade to temper down sugary syrup flavor.
The Conscious "Cheese Beef" Burger is a massive soy wheat patty topped with their house made cheese sauce, juicy tomatoes, grated carrot, caramelized onions, and pickled cucumbers on a plump whole wheat roll. This was definitely the bee's knees. Tasty and hearty, cooked to perfection, I thought it was one of the most amazing vegan burgers ever eaten. The cheese sauce is unique and takes some getting used to after being accustomed to Daiya and Field Roast Chao.
Thick cut, naked sweet potato fries-- delicious component that doubled as cheese sauce scoopers.
Oryx Sea Salt and Oryx Black Pepper, when ground out, let big crystallized flecks and sparks escape, coarsely pouring over food-- a tiny bit went a long, flavorful way and glorified eating experience.
Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On" played, a song I had once badly sang in karaoke, soft guitar strumming to romantic lyrics chirping on about loving afro hairdos and summer tasting like cinnamon, I dug into this beautiful slice of sugar free, gluten free carrot cake.
To this day, I'm not sure how I felt about the cake. Without sugar, it certainly lacked for something. I couldn't even describe how enticingly dripped icing tasted. Maybe Rae's ginger tune was seducing me, but I did honestly enjoy cinnamon notes inside moist, fork tender cake and sprinkled sparsely on white plate. That's for sure. On the other hand, I definitely ate more walnuts than needed and can vaguely remember carrots. I recall the carrots in my burger more so than in this cake. Also, soy milk was a heavy flavor here. Still, I ate the whole slice and wondered if over sugared American lifestyle had tarnished my eagerness to try sugar free dessert.
Doodles of crumb coated plates, sweet guilty pleasures, and adult contemporary music track lists.
A selfie inside space where natural light came shining through. Simplistic aesthetic of the restaurant's interior design provided comfortable, relaxing atmosphere. Plus my funny, inquisitive waitress thought I was spying-- taking a gazillion pictures of food and layout in every single instance. Afterwards, I picked up groceries and traveled three hours back to the hotel, skipping along and taking more photographs.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Vegan Mofo Day #15: In My Leisure Suite

For my 15th Vegan Mofo post, I focus on my two memorable stays in Johannesburg. When I originally booked my reservations over summer, I hadn't included my Tuesday arrival. Instead of booking another room (which hiked to $96 a night aka 1352 ZAR), I found a wonderful hostel called Once in Joburg for 179 ZAR ($12.55) a night. Conveniently, near Protea Marriott® Johannesburg Parktonian All-Suite-- my main staying location-- I fell in love with Once in Joburg's charming place devoted to nice fellow travelers and the like. I enjoyed the company as well as my lodgings-- the bathroom especially.
Prior to the four minute journey to Protea, I had a delicious complimentary breakfast of guacamole on a plain bagel, a green apple, and apple juice.
After a delicious small breakfast and hugs goodbye to some of the Once in Joburg staff, I walked down to Protea, checked into my suite on the 14th floor, and relaxed in what singer Feist would call a "Leisure Suite."
The mysterious 13th Floor is at the top of twenty four floors. In one elevator the number is visible. The other elevators showcase a superstitious "x." Hmmmmm.......
A peep inside my closet. Funnily enough, they are arranged from Philly Aids Thrift finds (lacy Free People Dress and multi-patterned dress both for $6) to an eBay cat print dress ($39.99) and an AdinkraExpo's Etsy Shop custom floor length gown ($115).
Bathroom luxuries: Yes to Carrots Facial Cloths, Nubian Heritage Body Butter in Mango, raw Trader Joe's Coconut Oil, and homemade Shea Butter Balm Lotion and homemade Sugar & Coconut Oil Scrub (three items hidden under clothes of my suitcase in case you're wondering how did two 8oz. jars get on through the airport).
Bear resting comfortably in Parkatonian Suite's comfortable king sized bed. Sadly, he was un-tucked every single day.
One of my awesome friends sent me a care package prior to journey-- a care package of beautiful jewelry. I was absolutely flabbergasted to uncover these treasures wrapped in tissue paper. From wooden beaded necklaces to hand painted pierced earrings, everyday was a difficult choice.
More of the elegant baubles.
Bracelets and headwraps.
Donning floor length gown for the first day of the conference. Thank you Ama! Originally this dress was intended for the 115th Annual Student Exhibition. It wasn't finished in time. In the closet for months, I decided maybe Johannesburg would be the best place to wear this stunning form-fitting beauty!
Pre-walking excursion: I wore this amazing, soft fabric, authentic Basquiat t-shirt, a shocking $4 Philly Aids Thrift find.
Presentation Day outfit.
Although nervous, this colorful, stylishly designed look exuded confidence.
State of the art gym equipment that I didn't utilize. Almost a little apologetic about not packing workout clothes.....
Nighttime view from the gym.
Good sunshine-y morning from my balcony. Warm weather a divine pleasantry almost every day of my short visit.
Beautiful gold stitched bedroom curtains.
Perks of South Africa on the top coffee table.
Modest blue carpeted living room with flat screen television (to watch my soapies) and blue multi-patterned couch matching chair.
Lovely private balcony.
Small kitchenette area with a full tea bar and fridge.
Inside my fridge: poppy seeded vegetable samoosas (samosas to us), locally made Pressed 100% Pink Lady Apple Juice,  and an orange peel and vanilla chocolate bar. These were from Woolworth's, a ritzy grocery store containing fine quality foods and beverages.
A closer inspection at the certified grown in Africa chocolate bar. I loved the package pattern-- those curves and lines reminiscent of many clothes worn by locals. It was all so outrageously fashionable. I found solidarity in a place that I so desire to return-- magical yet profoundly human.