Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Breads on Oak & upcoming vegan croissants!

I am definitely one of the most food-motivated people I know. While I like to eat flavorful food on a daily basis, my insatiable drive to track down deliciousness has probably been at its most obvious (and embarrassing?) whenever I've had the chance to travel. From the moment I land in a new city, my vegan radar is on high. I've been known to go to ridiculous lengths to maximize the amount and variety of local vegan treats and meals I can experience in whatever short time I'm in new territory.

Example: On a brief trip to Montreal a couple of years ago, we went to restaurants back-to-back. As in: we ate an entire meal at restaurant #1, then traveled by foot and by metro for an hour, and then ate another full meal at restaurant #2. Then we did the same thing the next day! You might call it crazy, but I call it dedication.

Just recently, it has come to my attention that New Orleans is fast becoming a city that, if I lived elsewhere, would actually excite my inner vegan tourist. I probably don't need to tell you: this is a big change! More and more options are popping up, and some of them are even accessible by tourists staying in the French Quarter. It is one of these that I'm writing about today, a real delight of a bakery, Breads on Oak. Vegan visitors to our lovely city, rejoice! You can hop on a streetcar in the French Quarter, enjoy the scenic ride through the Garden District and uptown, admiring along the way our fair Audubon Park, as well as the not-so-humble dwellings of our local members of the 1%, get off at Oak Street, walk several blocks (just enough to make you really appreciate their new air conditioning system), and enter baked-goods-heaven.

From behind the counter, you'll be greeted by owners Sean and Chamain O'Mahoney, as well as their helpful staff. They couldn't be more charming, or their baked goods more delicious. With generous samples of everything flying left and right, and easy laughter from both sides of the counter, it will feel like a party. All the more so because Sean and Chamain know what Earth Balance is, and they aren't afraid to use it.

In fact, if you go this Saturday, Sean hopes to have some Earth Balance-based vegan croissants available for the first time. Show your support and swing by!

They've got something for just about everyone...

Vegan? Chamain herself is vegan, and the rest of us reap the benefits in the form of cakes, cookies, muffins, and more. And of course, most of Sean's breads are also vegan.

Indecisiveness is not on my side at this place.

Gluten-free? Their many options include an incredibly chocolatey brownie!

I am a sucker for both brownies and cute aprons.

Reduced-sugar? Chamain uses half-stevia, half-unprocessed sugar in many of her baked goods.

Flax, oh yes she did!

Organic? Lots of organic ingredients -- just ask!

Baked-in grapes adorn the top of this creative bread. Genius!

French? I know French bread, so let me tell you, this is great stuff. My favorite is the walnut pain au levain, which rivals one I used to eat regularly when I lived in Quebec...twelve years ago. (Some breads, you never forget!)

For someone who has shed tears over a cinnamon roll, this bakery is big news. Maybe it's a good thing for me, budget-wise, that for the summer, Breads on Oak is open only on Fridays and Saturdays. ("Like" them on Facebook for updates to their schedule.)

For you veg tourists, I recommend starting out a Saturday with a trip to this place in the morning, followed by tooling around on Oak Street, and then heading back to the FQ via streetcar, but stopping for the best vegan brunch ever at Santa Fe Tapas, a cozy restaurant on St. Charles Avenue. With these two stops alone, you'll have made great progress in your attempt to maximize your culinary pleasure on a New Orleans vacation. 

With French baking tradition behind the endeavor, Breads on Oak is a locally owned, New Orleans-style establishment whose owners have made room for vegan options. That's what I'm talking about! (Contrast this with the other uptown "boulangerie," which I avoid entering at all costs because it annoys me so much that none of the tantalizing pastries is vegan.)

Unlike at some bakeries, at Breads on Oak, vegans can feast using more than their eyes!

Don't forget -- this Saturday, a test-run for vegan croissants! Don't miss out, local vegans! This is one New Orleans staple that has been missing from our diet for a loooong time!

I can't wait.
Breads on Oak ~ 8640 Oak St., NOLA 70118 ~ 504.669.5173 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Quick suggestion: Breads on Oak, tomorrow!

The stress I was feeling today dissipated for a few minutes when I stopped in at the soft opening of a new bakery, Breads on Oak. I walked in to find a tatste-testing fiesta! Unfortunately, I was in a hurry -- I had only enough time to gobble up about eight different samples of amazing breads, muffins, and desserts, and no time to take pictures!

The owners are great people, the breads are fantastic, and you'd never guess the brownies are gluten-free and the muffins are sweetened with half stevia!

Go tomorrow -- you won't be sorry! I'll do a full write-up soon.

P.S. I put in a plug for croissants and pains au chocolat made with Earth Balance! Let them know if this would float your boat, too!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Vegan-friendly New Orleans coffee shop

Okay, mine was admittedly a mean April Fool's joke! But surely one day, a vegan diner will grace this great city of foodies. And maybe that's not so far off in the future -- it IS amazing to see how quickly the vegan scene is expanding here in New Orleans! Since I haven't been out and about much lately, I've had to settle for experiencing it in my imagination as I scroll through Facebook postings of decadent meals and desserts...what torture! However, I'm happy to report that I have recently had a couple of real life experiences at a new coffee shop in town, one that is welcoming us vegans with open arms, Krewe du Brew.

It's a lovely place owned by Eugene Anderson, Adrian Guy, and John Hagan.

My first visit was a few weeks ago, and this was the treat that awaited me that day:

Apricot-Almond Streusel Bar

It was a corner piece, so I got some crusty, some chewy, some gooey, and all delicious.

John said that if there's enough demand, they'd like to start carrying gluten-free options as well. So far, though, no one is asking for it. So if you'd be into that, please mention it when you go in! The pastries at Krewe du Brew come from Shake Sugary, a new bakery on St. Claude Ave. that is open to the public on weekends.

I let a couple of weeks go by, then dropped in at Krewe again this past Friday. I was really excited to find not just one, but THREE vegan options:

Top to bottom: frosted banana chocolate chip bread, brownies, chocolate salted pecan bars

Showing immense self-discipline, I ordered only two of these, a chocolate salted pecan bar and a piece of banana bread. The banana bread was good -- it had chocolate chips and icing, which were a nice touch. But the bar was out of this world! It deserves an up-close shot:

Gooey, crunchy, sweet, salty, chocolaty, nutty, caramel goodness. Why am I not eating one of these right now?!

Krewe du Brew gets props for always having at least three vegan options -- What is this word, "options"? the vegans among you may be wondering. Like me, you're probably used to being surrounded by melt-in-your-mouth, non-vegan pastries which could have easily been made vegan. "Um, we have a plain bagel and you can put jelly on it!" ...or worse, "I'm sorry, we just sold our last plain bagel. If you call ahead next time..."

Speaking of which, I stopped by Velvet (on Magazine) the other day, without calling ahead, for one of their much-talked-about vegan pop tarts. As luck would have it, all they had was non-vegan ones that day. And it doesn't look good for the future; the guy said the vegan pop tarts just don't sell all that well. Funny how people will get turned off by the mere idea that no eggs or milk are involved in a dessert. If they'd just try it, most wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Go get one of the treats pictured above if you don't believe me!

Krewe du Brew ~ 1610 St. Charles Ave. ~ NOLA 70130 ~ 504.522.1530

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fluffy vegan pancakes in the middle of the night, anyone?

I know, I know, it's been forever since my last post! But I'm trying to make a little more time for personal projects like blogging these days. The reason I've been too busy to post? I hope you're sitting down for this...

Seriously, sit down. It's a good idea.

...and get ready for NOLA's first all-vegan, mostly organic, gourmet diner!! We've been working our tails off to secure a location, and we are thrilled with what we finally signed a lease on: a cute former burger joint on St. Charles Ave. near the Garden District. We are currently doing some minor renovations, as well as tweaking menu items, and should have our hands in the tofu scramble by the end of May!!!

We are planning to start with modest hours of operation and work up to being open 24-7... keep an ear out, because we will likely start hiring within the month.

Another blog entry is in the works, so no more waiting-four-months-between posts, I promise!