December Favs

 
    

Every Hail Merry product I’ve tried has been awesome, this Chocolate Almond Butter Tart is no exception! Super rich and chocolate-y with smooth almond butter in a thick chocolate crust… What’s not to like? Try the Chocolate Mint or Lemon Miracle Tart, or any variety of the macaroons… They’re all equally fabulous!
   

 

I picked up Amy’s Kitchen Cool Scoops Mocha Chocolate Chip ice cream, not knowing that it was created by a chef that worked at an up-scale vegan restaurant about 5 miles from my home.  I had actually eaten the entire container before I read the back of the package! 

 So, I have mixed emotions over this ice cream.  It was smooth and creamy, but the  little chocolate chips tasted more like carob chips to me.  Also, I’m quite a coffee snob sometimes, so the somewhat light coffee flavor left me a little unsatisfied.  So why the heck am I putting it in my December Favs? Well, I think this ice cream would make an awesome milk shake.  I’m going to buy it again, and blend it up with some sweetened almond milk and coffee. 

  
Karma Wellness Water was an unexpected find.  I just needed something to drink, and picked up the Pineapple Coconut flavor.  Whoa, this stuff is delicious (and fun)!  To drink this, you remove the seal, push down on the top to release the flavor and vitamin powder, and mix it up.  The powder had quite a bit of tropical flavor that I loved, but also contained green tea, potassium, and maca, to name a few.  This really did perk me up, and I will definitely try the other flavors really soon. 

That does it for the treasures I’ve found in December! I hope all of you have had a fun holiday season!

The Noodle Shop

Location:

The Noodle Shop

3 S. Pack Square

Asheville, NC 28801

*No website, but there is info on Yelp 

Atmosphere:

The Noodle Shop is a cozy spot situated across from The Asheville Art Museum, in the oh-so-hip(ster) downtown area.  With plenty of outdoor seating, it’s the perfect place to people watch, if you’re into that sort of thing.  The servers are friendly and the place is as chill-y as the the temperature. (That was really lame. I apologize.)

Food:

The Noodle Shop features Asian fusion dishes with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options on both the lunch and dinner menus. 

I ordered the Crispy Tofu ($6) for my appetizer.  The portion was a decent size, and was served quickly.  A light, flaky, and fried coating covered soft and juicy tofu.  The chili sauce was very sweet, and I did not detect any heat or spice what-so-ever. I also wish they had put more sauce on it, or served it in a ramekin for dipping.

  
 
For my entreĆ©, I order the Stir-fried Noodles with rice noodles and added tofu.  The dish was $8.50, and they charged $5 for the tofu.  This dish was comprised of thin rice noodles, carrots, yellow onion, bean sprouts, green beans, and tofu.  The flavor was predominantly soy sauce.  Ok… The only thing you could taste was salty soy sauce and unmarinated tofu. The noodles were cooked nicely, as were the vegetables, but unfortunately their flavors were overpowered. (Photo was edited for brightness. I sat outside and it wasn’t very sunny.)

  

Dig it or Ditch it?

I wanted to dig this place because of its awesome location, but unfortunately this is a “Ditch It” for me.  The Stir-fried Noodles seriously lacked in the flavor department and seemed to be what I imagine drinking a soy sauce packet would taste like.   Since a pack of tofu costs around $3, I thought charging $5 for the tofu was a little steep, especially since there wasn’t that much of it in the dish.  I sound extremely cheap, but hey, it’s the truth. There were other vegan options on the menu, and this place has good reviews on Yelp, so perhaps I just didn’t order the right thing.  With so many other great restaurants around, I don’t think I’ll be visiting The Noodle Shop anytime soon, but I will return in the future and try something else. As always, props go out to any and all places that offer plant-based and cruelty-free options.  Let me know if you’ve been here and how you liked it!

Vortex Doughnuts

Location

Vortex Doughnuts

32 Banks Avenue, Suite 106

Asheville, NC 28801

VortexDoughnuts.com

Atmosphere

Well, here’s a vegan-friendly coffee/donut shop in Asheville! Strong, specialty coffees and a selection of fresh, vegan donuts make the vibes of this place pretty awesome.  This place was designed for people to just come in and chill with free wifi and plenty of seating.

Food:

Freshly made, V-E-G-A-N D-O-N-U-T-S!  If those words didn’t make you hop in your car and drive over, I’m not sure what will.  I’ve tried plant-based donuts in the past, and they have been rubbery, dry, or really fall short in the flavor department.  These donuts, however, where little sugar coated miracles.  

 
The donut above was a sugar covered donut with a dark chocolate swirl.  It was fresh, light, chewy, and not the least bit dry.  The donut itself was fried and sweet, and the sugar coating amped up the sweetness. The dark chocolate swirl added a slight bitterness that kept the sugar-yness in check.  Words cannot do this justice. You just have to trust me and try it for yourself. 

Next, I tried the strawberry glazed donut.  The base donut was the same… Fresh, sweet, and perfect.  The strawberry glaze was sweet yet had a natural strawberry flavor. 

  
Dig it or Ditch it?

Dig it!!! These were hands down the best donuts I have ever eaten.  Let’s just say if I could eat these everyday, I’d be perfectly fine with gaining 100 pounds.  To make the place even better, they have BOGO hours during the week, so you get 2 of these bad boys for about $4!  Check out their social media accounts for updates and BOGO hours!

November’s Treasure Hunt

Here are the best vegan treasures I found in November! These were GOOOOD!!!

If you have a Whole Foods near you, their “chicken-fried tofu” is absolutely delicious.  Firm tofu covered in savory batter and fried until it’s an absolute miracle.  Try it!

  

Next up, is Follow Your Heart High Omega Bleu Cheese Dressing.  Creamy, with a mild flavor reminiscent of traditional blue cheese dressing, I can’t get enough of this stuff! I love it with the tofu I just mentioned. Soo good!

 
 For your sweet tooth, try out BarkTHINS Dark Chocolate Pretzel Snacking Chocolate.  Smooth dark chocolate with salty pretzels and sea salt…  Freakin’ phenomenal!
  

Next up is something I’ve been searching for FOREVER! It’s Eat Pastry Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  I found it at Whole Foods next to the milk alternatives, and damn, I’m glad I did!  It’s raw cookie dough that you can eat and not get sick… And it’s pretty amazing.  I ate most of it right from the container, but I tried baking it too.  The cookies came out just fine… not too sweet or gritty, but there’s just something about eating raw cookie dough that’s really fun. 

 

Last up, is Kite Hill’s Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart.  For $12, I was on the fence about buying this, but I couldn’t resist.  This baby has a gingerbread-y crust, smooth and sweet pumpkin filling, and swirls of creamy cheesecake that will knock your mittens off! This stuff is magic fo’ realz. 

  

That does it for November’s treasure hunt!  What vegan treasures did you find?