Thursday, August 16, 2012

Restaurant Review: Sticky Rice, DC

I sometimes feel that deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial are more of a curse then a blessing. They suck me in to spending much more than I originally would have if my naive, deal-saving magnet didn’t catch the deal in the first place. But without those awesome deals, I wouldn’t be “forced” to enjoy some great eats at a new restaurant; view a local brewery as a work of art; have a reason to spend time with family and friends; or take the step needed to do something daring and exciting. Yes, they break my pockets considerably, but without them, my life wouldn’t be as fun or as interesting. I love them and yet, I hate them. Take last weekend for example.

Several months ago, the hubster and I went on a week-long deal-buying binge. Restaurants, gardening supplies, brewery tours…we were using them every weekend. But then the hoopla died down and well some of them just sat there. I would verbally remind us that we had deals that had to be used before September, but we would brush the thought to the side and move on. Now it’s mid August and we still have 4 deals left! So this weekend, with nothing scheduled to do (SHOCK! For the first time in the last three months!) we decided to hit up DC; our desired, yet unrealistically possible, hometown. We debated – Amsterdam Falafels? Busboys and Poets? Oh yeah we have a deal to Sticky Rice – a sushi place with a plethora of vegan options! I called my favorite vegan and foodie buddy. Ms. Kerry and her lovely BF and off we went!

Upon arriving, our perception of Sticky Rice was an uppity, classy, Asian-bistro decked out with spotless modern furniture and waiters/waitresses dressed in slacks and least that’s the feel we got from the website. We questioned the ability to bring a child and feared not making a reservation would result in not getting in. But as we walked down H-Street, we begin to question one, if we were in the right place and two, what type of restaurant this really was. Looking up I saw the sign painted on the front of an old, two-level townhome, realized we had surprisingly arrived and I told myself, I couldn’t judge the restaurant by its “cover”, so we walked in, ignoring the pink sign on the front of the door. Walking in, I saw two things: straight ahead, a stairs leading to an upper part of the restaurant and to my right, a small, dark, quiet, hazy bar area already half filled with half-happy bar goers. Feeling a bit anxious and worried about what I just stepped into, I stood there with my crew expecting someone to greet us and point us in the right direction. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Instead, it took me a 30-second stare down with the bartender to get him to point and tell me go upstairs. 

Walking up an extremely steep staircase, we entered into yet another small area, previously living room no doubt, all red and black, simply furnished with a few tables and booths against the windows and walls. Now I know why reservations are needed! This place could easily get packed on any given night. My perception of a modern Asian-bistro were crushed no doubt, but that didn’t stop us from moving forward. I was actually quite relieved of the more comfortable, homey setting.  We were seated by a kind host NOT wearing slacks of course, and told that, as we may have noticed on the pink sign, it was currently sushi only, for all other dishes would not be available til 5pm. It was 4pm. Crap! We debated but decided to stay and hey, grab a drink! And so we did! 

Since sushi was available, a few ordered some sushi and appetizers to hold them over. Unfortunately, I am OCD and have to have my food come out in order and worse, will not eat a meal until all of it is out. So instead I ordered a drink  -  a Jalapeno Margarita at that, while Ms. Kerry ordered a Saketini.  We both agreed the Jalapeno Margarita was an amazing drink! It was well blended; not too sweet; perfectly salted and very SPICY with an enjoyable after burn. For those who like spicy hot eats and drinks, this cocktail is for you!  As a hold over Ms. K ordered  the Santa Fe a Vegetarian Specialty made with tempura sweet potato with agave jalapeno and sesame seeds. She so kindly shared one with me and I loved the sweet and savory flavor with the crunchy texture. It was different, but in a great way. 

After an order of a Lycheetini - minus the sweet syrup, which was again, perfectly blended and sweetened with lychee juice, aromatic and beautifully garnished with a simply lychee at the bottom of our glass, which my lychee-loving daughter begged for the entire time I sipped my cocktail – it was almost 5 pm and time to order our meal.

For an appetizer, Ms. K and I shared Tofu Lettuce Wraps made with fried tofu stir fried with shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts and mixed vegetables, topped with tempura crunchies. As a lettuce wrap addict, I have had my share of lettuce wraps and I have to admit, these were some of the best ones I have ever had! Fresh and oh so flavorful! There’s just something about enjoying a meal that is both hot and cold, raw and cooked, crunchy and soft…a meal that sends the senses in all different directions. Loved it!

For dinner, I ordered two vegetarian specialties; Garden Balls which were inari pockets stuffed with shiitake mushrooms, red peppers, cilantro and spicy rice, tempura fried and drizzled with an “eel” sauce and the Hot Hippy: sushi made with spicy marinated tofu with scallions, peanuts, cukes and carrots. Ms. K ordered the Mock Chicken Szechuan noodle bowl. Of course, we sampled each other’s meals and we were very satisfied with all three.

The Garden Balls were crunchy and sweet. In my opinion, the “eel” sauce was a little too much; sweet and strong in flavor. Not a “double buy” (as you get to know me, you will learn I rarely eat the same thing twice unless it’s really, really good), but overall still good. My favorite part was the crunch!

The Hot Hippy Sushi, which I didn’t find as spicy as I desired, was good, but again, not great. It was like any other sushi – filling and perfect to dip in a sauce mixture of soy sauce and wasabi and topped with pickled ginger and now, siracha. I guess I have very high standards after visiting California Roll Cafe in Morehead City, NC where each uniquely made sushi has its own dipping sauce. Everything tastes the same with soy sauce and wasabi.

Ms. K’s Mock Chicken Szechuan Noodle Bowl was spicy and the mock fried chicken was pretty darn good! Realistic in taste and texture and let’s be honest - everything tastes even better when fried. The ratio of rice noodles to “meat” and veggies was WAY off, making it just a bowl of lonely noodles once the toppings were easily devoured. Less noodles and more “chicken”, veggies and sauce would have been preferred. Again good, but not great.

Dessert was sitting in the car – the best vegan cupcakes we have ever tasted so far made by Sweetz Bakery. Our favorite flavor is the chocolate with white frosting and coconut. My husband and daughter, both not very big cake fans, are addicted to the chocolate cake. They both dislike the icing which I have absolutely no objections too…me eat it!? Oh please yes! Now these, I think Ms. K would agree, we crave...A LOT!

Overall a great visit, minus the long wait. I would definitely go back again if asked and order another Jalapeno Margarita and Vegan Lettuce Wraps, but it’s not a restaurant I crave to return to. Plus, it’s super easy to break the bank there! Each roll runs between 5-8 dollars each and at 6 pieces each, a very hungry person could easily eat at least 3 rolls! A great experience nonetheless, with great always!

- Beth 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Meet Kerry!

Hello there!  Thank you for reading and for taking an interest in a vegan lifestyle.  I am really excited to get started with our blog as I love writing and I love everything vegan!  Other than writing I also enjoy activities such as watching soccer, running, cooking, traveling, and spending time with the boyfriend, friends, and family.   I work in sales for an engineering software company in the DC metro area and I get to travel a lot for my job.  The great thing about work travel is not only do I get to visit really cool cities without spending a lot of money but I get to visit some of the best vegan restaurants and bakeries across the country!  Many of my contributions to this blog will include my experiences of traveling and finding vegan and vegan friendly restaurants. 

Vegan History
As a freshman in college I suffered from terrible back pain due to a car accident.   I was unable to exercise for several months and unfortunately I had packed on more than the typical freshman 15 pounds.  One of my close friends introduced me to her parents who were vegans and health ministers for the Hallelujah Diet  I became acquainted with the vegan lifestyle through her parents who wanted to help me with some of the health problems that incurred from gaining weight, well as to provide me with a solution that would assist in being able to lose those pesky pounds.  I decided to go vegan cold turkey and within 6 months I had lost a total of 30 pounds and dropped my cholesterol by 40 points.  There was no turning back to meat and dairy at this point!

My Diet...more of a lifestyle
People generally think of a “vegan” as someone who follows a plant based diet.  For me it is more than just avoiding animal products in my food.  My goal in everything that I do is to try to avoid animal derivatives in all products that I use from food to clothing, cosmetics, and even soaps.  I follow this lifestyle for these two main reasons – both ethics and health. 
The biggest motivating factor for remaining on a vegan diet for almost a decade is based upon ethics.   50 billion animals are killed every year with about 99% total on factory farms where animals are forced to live in horrific conditions.  The green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes are all either distant memories or only found on small, humane, family owned farms.  These humane farms make up such a small portion of the market that virtually almost all meat and dairy comes now from factory farms.    I just decide on a daily basis that I cannot participate in this kind of suffering.  Ideally not everyone is able to follow a strict vegan diet but I do feel that it is important for omnivores to choose a diet that supports small local farmers (with a focus on humanely raised animals). 

Moreover on ethics is the negative impact that modern day factory farms have on the environment.  A 2008 New York Times article reported that “if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan – a Camry, - to the ultra-efficient Prius.”  A plant based diet can also contribute toward solving the growing issue of world hunger.   Meat consumption is an inefficient use of grain as unfortunately we funnel huge amounts of grains, soybeans, and corn through all of the animals that we use for food instead of feeding starving humans. 
It is also my belief that a vegan diet supports a lifetime of good health and can provide protection against numerous diseases including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  I personally struggle with eating a “whole foods” plant based diet as I only avoid processed foods with about half of my meals.  As just about every other American I have a huge weakness for pizza, cookies, and fried foods instead of salad!  I allow myself to eat these foods about 30-50% of my meals, however, I still focus on the cholesterol free, ethically sourced, vegan versions of these foods.  Many of my contributions to this blog will include my love of meat and dairy substitutes as well as vegan desserts!

How we met from MY perspective!  
In March 2012 I moved from Charlotte, NC to Arlington, VA and started a new job in the DC area.  First day on the job I quickly made a new friend with a fellow soccer fan in our IT department.  I found out in our initial conversation that his wife was a foodie AND a vegan as well!  We instantly became friends through him and the rest is history.  I feel that I lucked out with making new friends right away in my new city with one who is an avid soccer fan and another a vegan.  My first few months of living in a new city have been filled with double dates at vegan friendly restaurants, soccer matches, and planning trips to vegetarian festivals all over the country.  I couldn’t ask for better friends!

My Favorite Quote. 
“Fifty billion animals a year are killed and I think we all fool ourselves that there is some kind of happy cow and that it’s a quick death, that they just hit him in the head and that they are out.  They are all in pain, they are all treated badly.  They are all diseased and they are all pumped with antibiotics.  It’s a very disturbing reality.  And it happens every minute of the day.” 
-Ellen DeGeneres

Friday, August 10, 2012

Meet Beth!!

Hi! As some of you will discover I am a very, very busy woman. I’m a mother to a wonderful 5 year-old little girl who is about to start her first year in public school (Ahh!);  a wife to a wonderful husband (who is also my second child!) with whom I have been with for 10 years - married for 5; a full-time employee for a newly launched, independent government-contracting corporation; a part-time student who is only three classes away from finally completing her Bachelors; not to mention a daughter, sister, and  niece to a wonderful set of amazing people that I love to call my family! Did I mention I was busy!?


egan History

A little over four years ago, Rory Freeman’s Skinny Bitch book landed into my lap (thanks to my momma) and changed the way I thought about food and my health. After learning that what I had been eating all this time was actually overly processed, man-made crap; and after learning about the shocking, cruel treatment of animals in our factory farms, I immediately went cold turkey and started my journey as a newborn vegan. I began researching, learning and understanding about where my food was coming from and the impact that food had on my health. I soon became health obsessive, lost 30 lbs and became my own version of a Skinny Vegan B*tch. Five years later, I’m still that. But my transition didn’t just transform me; it changed the life of my husband, my daughter and many more around me. The term “vegan” no longer stands as a description of my “diet”; it is a word that describes my life. It is my life. I am vegan and vegan is who I am. Without it, I would not be the person I am today – an outgoing, food obsessed, cook who is a strong advocate for eating organic, local, raw foods that supports and promote the health of our planet and our whole beings.

My "DIET"’s all about health!

As you will come to find my main reason for following an 80/20 raw, vegan diet is health. Animal rights and ethics are very important to me as well, but health is my main focus. I believe that food is the strongest form of medicine when we allow it to be. I believe it can heal the body from the stress and damage caused by the Standard American Diet (SAD) and the processed crap that we have been “trained” to eat. I’m also very supportive of taking GREEN actions that support the health of the environment and our planet including reducing the use of plastics and recycling , just to name a few. I also only use all natural beauty products. What we put ON our body is AS important as what we put INTO our body!  I am the modern, vegan HIPPIE! My part of “the plate” will revolve around these topics…but don’t be fooled, I still enjoy eating out every now and then and enjoying a vegan pizza and brownie! I’m not super strict! I follow what I call the “5 days, 2 days” policy -  5 days strict, 2 days ‘laxed. I do have to live a little and enjoy life. I can’t let Kerry have ALL the fun now can I!? ;)

In addition, I’m not exactly the “ideal” raw, vegan. In other words, I’m not a believer that everyone MUST follow a raw, vegan diet in order for a person to be healthy and in order to fight and push for animal rights, food labeling and other health and food related issues/concerns that I strongly advocate for/against. No, I believe that everyone must find a diet that is right for their body; that supports their body and the way that it functions. I do, however, believe that plant-based foods are the basis of such a diet and that all foods should be sourced locally, when possible, and be organic, sustainable, ethically treated, fair trade (when necessary), and in its purest, whole form..all when possible of course! 

How we met from MY perspective!

Ready for a laugh? So a few months ago the hubster called me at work overly excited that he had met someone, a new co-worker, who was not only into soccer,  but who was also a vegan. Oh, it was a SHE. My initial thought was, yeah, vegan my butt. Does this mean I have to store a hidden camera in his backpack or collar button? Great! In other words, jealousy kicked in. But I went with the flow, said “cool”, told him it was okay to give her my contact info and thought nothing more of it. Then she contacted me via Facebook and we immediately hit it off! We had so much in common! Soon after I was THANKING Tim for introducing us. Now I’m sure he’s slightly regretting it as his babysitting duties have greatly increased as my new friend and I explore the vegan world that is hidden within the DMV and the Nation. We realized our new adventure needed to be documented and so began The Split Plate!

My Favorite Quote.

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Welcome to The Split Plate!!!

Welcome, welcome, welcome! We're so excited to finally get this thing started! Get ready to join two very different, yet very similar, chicks as we continue our adventure to discover all things vegan here in the DMV (DC, MD and VA), the Nation and even the World! Explore veganism from two different perspectives and learn that there is more to being a vegan then veggies and animal rights (although both are very important!). You may be new to the vegan diet and interested in learning more. Or you may already be a seasoned veghead. Heck you may even be an omni! No matter what type of "diet" you follow, we promise there will always be something here for you. Oh and let us note, this blog isn't exclusive to just the vegan diet. It's our doorway to document our wonderful, adventurous lives. Veganism just happens to be part of that... a HUGE part of that :)