Dining At Veg & Veg

YUMMY!  Highly recommend this restaurant Veg & Veg (Mercato Centrale, Firenze), flavorful, diverse, and delectable!

Veg & Veg

This is a restaurant that only has vegetarian and vegan items, so you can surely be safe!  The sauce, the sandwich, the food, buonissimi!  I found it first through iomangioveg.it, then I found out that Happy Cow also has an entry for it.  Interview can be found here in Italian, of course.

Veg & Veg

How can I express my joy in terms of words?  The food was so good, it was so amazing…  I don’t know how I can describe it, you just have to try it yourselves!  It is really similar to what Americans do for sandwiches, except that they don’t put excessive onions and garlic in the food.  They had quite a crowd for lunch!

Veg & Veg

I do have to mind you that their sauce, very delicious by the way, can drip down your hands, and you might have to make sure you don’t get it on your clothes.

Mercato Centrale

Mercato Centrale 1° Piano, 50100 Firenze
(inside the indoor market, Mercato Centrale, but note that 1st floor is the 2nd floor because in Italy mezzanine is 0th floor)

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Dining At Il Panino Tondo

11 years ago, I went to Italy for a summer with a program that was a language-intensive program…  Meaning I went to class from morning till late, Italian, all, the, time.

This time when I returned, I knew that since then, Italy has become more vegan-friendly.  They even use the word “vegan” now.  I searched before leaving for a place to eat on the day I arrived to Firenze (Florence) on iomangioveg.it (the Italian Happy Cow equivalent) and found this Il Panino Tondo (the round sandwich).

Il Panino Tondo

It was raining the day I arrived.  I dropped off my luggage at the stazione di treno, Firenze Santa Maria Novella, where there is a place you can pay to leave your luggage at platform 16 (binario 16).  It was a relief to finally drop them off…  As I was sleep-derived, hungry, and it was raining.  I was generally stanchissima.  Il Panino Tondo is only walking distance away from the station, so it was easy, and I was craving for some reward.

Il Panino Tondo

I was speaking Italian all the time and since I haven’t spoken it for 11 years, I was a little (actually a lot) off my game.  However, no worries!  At this place, when I didn’t catch a question for drinks due to my lack of sleep, they were not scornful nor impatient, instead someone just spoke English to make sure I understand.  They took a chance, and they were right I spoke English.  I guess Firenze has seen so many tourists that they are sort of used to it.  It was definitely better than 11 years ago.

Il Panino Tondo

This place is not just for vegans, so please ask for what is vegan (they pronounce it like veh-gahn) on the menu.

Il Panino Tondo

If you live in the city, they also deliver!  You can order online.

Il Panino Tondo

I…  was not able to resist taking a bit before taking a picture.  Give me a break, I was very tired and hungry.

Il Panino Tondo

Also, most of the things in Italy DO NOT use garlic or onion, to my delight.  I didn’t have to ask for no onions or no garlic in my pizza, in my soup, in my spaghetti, in my salad…  It was wonderful.  And the garlic and onion stereotype for Italian food is completely wrong.

Check it out…!
via Montebello 56/r
50123 Firenze

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When Confronted With The Protein Question As A Vegan

When It comes to protein in a vegan diet, we really have to look at the quality as well as the quantity.

Out of the 22 amino acid building blocks, 9 are essential amino acids.  These are tryptophan, histidine, methionine + cysteine (either can fill for the other’s role as amino acids), isoleucine, threonine, valine, lysine, phenylalanine + tyrosine (either), and leucine.  As I already posted before about tofu, I am providing more information that it’s possible for one to live on a vegan diet.

So let’s compare eggs to nuts and seeds (with information from http://nutritiondata.self.com/ and Becoming Vegan)

Here the chart shows that flax seeds (per cup) are better at providing the essential amino acids.  All 9 of them.

Besides the obvious flax seeds, walnuts are quite equivalent to eggs in terms of providing amino acids in percentage by weight.

Now, when I put tofu in there…  There is no competition.  Tofu wins by…  A lot.

Now, if you want to get the same amount of nutrients, eggs will provide you with the additional cholesterol, which nobody wants, and not giving you the good omega-3.

So hopefully when someone asks about where proteins are from again, we are all informed about how much protein we get from different sources!

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Dumplings? Noodles? The English Vernacular

I grew up knowing that buns ( 饅頭 , /man to/, ㄇㄢˊ ㄊㄡˊ ) are different from buns with fillings inside ( 包子 , /bao zi/, ㄅㄠ ㄗ˙ ), and buns with fillings inside are also different from “dumplings” ( 餃子 , /jiao zi/, ㄐㄧㄠˇ ㄗ˙ ) that are not steamed but boiled.  However, when I learned that sometimes lines are not clearly drawn between buns and buns with fillings (both are called buns) and between buns with fillings and dumplings (both are called dumplings), I really thought that the English language could have done more to differentiate them from each other.

It was a struggle to accept that Americans categorize buns as anything that appear bread-like, and dumplings are anything with fillings inside.  I was angry at the English language itself, which yielded no fruit (food puns intended).


But no foods of the world are immune to this kind of categorization.  Ravioli, tortellini, and even gnocchi are categorized as “dumplings”.  In fact, NPR had a quest to build a list of dumplings based on this broad agglomeration of different types of food.  Recently, I met two Italians who just couldn’t accept that people call spaghetti “noodles”, but the fact is, in the English language, all unleavened dough that are stretched and boiled are called noodles.

Misua noodle making Taiwan.jpg

Over the years, I have started to soften up and accept that there is a limitation to the English language, and I have stopped making a fuss about the whole buns-buns with fillings-dumplings situation.  I also accept that English, a language that is spoken so broadly in the world, does not have enough broad vocabulary to fit everything, I just have to embrace it.  Once in awhile though, I still take comfort in that “samosas” and “tamales” are disputed as dumplings and learned to go with the flow.

An “oversimiplified” chart of food categorization in the English language:
Buns (include 饅頭 and 包子 )
Dumplings (include 包子 , 餃子 , ravioli, tortellini, momo, pierogi, etc.)
Noodles (include 麵 , spaghetti, pasta of all shapes and sizes)

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The Vegan Table: Cuban Black Bean Soup

The Vegan Table: Cuban Black Bean Soup

The Vegan Table: Cuban Black Bean Soup

So yummy!  But if you are trying out the recipe, PLEASE do not do the whole portion suggested by the book, cut it down by half, as the soup is quite filling, and it took 3 people in my family 3 days to finish the soup.  It was rich with fragrance of banana, coconut, and full of spices.

The soup doesn’t look very appealing on its own, so I definitely suggest taking the advice from the cookbook to garnish the soup with finely chopped red bell peppers for the color contrast.

Other bloggers who tried it also seem to like the soup!  Although there is one blogger who mentioned some hesitance of having fruit (ex., banana) in the soup.  Here’s what other bloggers think about it:

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The Vegan Table: Potato And Seed Spread

The Vegan Table: Potato and Seed Spread

Like the Boston baked beans from the earlier post, I had no idea how this would turn out to be like.  And mine turned out to be quite tough and indicated nothing relevant to “spread” and “stuffing”.

Not a lot of people made it and reported about their efforts, but at least one other person did it and liked it:

Posted in basil, Chinese mahogany/toona, flour, lemon, oregano, potato, savory, sesame seed, sunflower seed, thyme | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Vegan Table: Delightful Date Truffles

The Vegan Table: Delightful Date Truffles

Loved them!  They were full of spices!  The white ones were rolled in powdered sugar while the dark ones were rolled in cocoa powder.  My friends enjoyed them, my family loved them, and I also think they were very yummy!  Very easy to make, and totally worth the time (under 1 hour).

Other people who tried this recipe also seemed to like them:

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