Posted by: Lauren | August 20, 2010

vegan and versace

Tuesday morning started with this:

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I know, it looks disgusting. Does it taste like it looks? Nope. Tastes like bananas.

Just in case you haven’t seen it before, my swampy smoothie was just a few handfuls of spinach blended first with almond milk (or regular cow’s milk) so that there are zero pieces of spinach, then I just blended in a frozen banana-which, like I’ve obsessed about-makes it so creamy. But the piece de resistance would be the crumbled Alliebar on top! Like Allie told me, the bar forms a perfectly chewy bite that I can’t get over. I would share these bars with everyone who lives near, but the recipe is top secret, as it should be. There’s money to be made with these bad boys!

IMG_3725I can officially say without wigging out, that green is my favorite color. I could never stand those “favorite” questionnaires. What’s your favorite movie? Favorite book? Favorite…? Don’t make me pick just one! I guess the green just speaks to my Irish roots.

Anyway.

After chewing and sipping on my breakfast, I got ready for the day in the city.

Allie had one goal destination for her trip in Chicago, and darnit, I was going to help her accomplish it, especially after having her dreams crushed while in the city on Sunday.

Before we took off, I assembled some salads with leftover veggies and pasta & shrimp for the two of us and Joe, who we picked up from work on our way there.

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I topped Joe’s and mine with corn chile salsa from Trader Joe’s-which makes an amazing “dressing” by the way, and won’t make it soggy for eating later, which is what we did.

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After a car ride through the city, and scoring $4 parking near our dinner reservations, we headed off for Allie’s dream destination which you’ll see soon…let’s be honest, Joe and I were so excited for it too.

I really adore Greektown. I love that it feels less hectic, has a lot of character, and is so close to the Loop but feels much further. Joe and I rode 25 miles through the city at midnight in July with L.A.T.E. ride, along with his dad and sister Anna, and I knew I needed to come back to Greektown soon after pedaling through it at 1 a.m. Lucky for us, that is where our dinner reservations were, thanks to Allie’s wise choice.

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Solar and wind energy!

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We’re here!!

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Allie came to Starfruit on Sunday but it was closed! So we made it back and frozen kefir was ours!

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Samples were tasted:

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I stared adoringly at these:

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Repeat: I don’t need a Blendtec, I don’t need a Blendtec. Really.

And my order was placed:

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Chocolate, anyone? I ordered the chocolate truffle kefir with chocolate sauce and chocolate sprinkles.

I absolutely love kefir-which is a cultured dairy drink that has a plethora of probiotics which enhance the immune system and balance digestive health, and Europeans have been drinking it for over 2000 years. I enjoyed this frozen treat, which was actually a little acidic and bubbly in a way, as Allie pointed out, is because of the fermentation with the kefir, (liquid kefir bought in the store is not bubbly, just fyi). However, I think it may have been even better if the freezer machine was kept at a little higher of a temperature (warmer). I’ve heard before that ice cream and soft serve is better when it is kept at a higher freezer temperature because our taste buds can “taste” it more, if that makes sense. My tongue felt a little burned because it was so cold, but I may just be weird like that. Don’t you love it when your ice cream carton gets soft, creamy, and just slightly soupy around the edges? I know I’m not weird about that.

Allie’s looked delicious with the mango chunks.

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Mmm mango is definitely one of my favorite fruits-but remember, I can’t pick just one favorite!

Joe got the original and pomegranate swirl as well as Allie, but his was topped with cinnamon toast crunch.

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With all that said, I am so glad that I have had the experience of trying frozen kefir! Starfruit also has parfaits and a lot of different smoothie options too, which is what all the other customers were ordering. I ended up making one for Joe and me last night, but that will be another post, another time.

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Thanks Allie for leading us here!

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After heading out of Starfruit, we walked through a Sephora and after I suggested a spritz of Versace cologne for Joe (he came straight from work :)) Allie laughed once again at my Chicago accent: “Versaaace!” I died laughing because it’s true, you knooow? (Asked in said Chicago accent.) Aunt Sharon, I know you’ll love that-who has been imitating Katie and my voice for YEARS! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed that little story as much as I did.

—-

We then walked about another 1.5 miles to our dinner reservation in Greektown.

One our way, we saw the CBS news being broadcast-fun!

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We ate at Karyn’s on Green, a contemporary vegan restaurant and bar. I’m so glad Allie suggested we eat here, because it was so unique and delicious. Even Joe loved it-well his meal anyway, let’s just say he doesn’t like beets…

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We were given crusty, seedy whole grain bread to start, with a whipped herb “butter.” Remember, it’s vegan: no animal products of any kind: meat, fish, dairy, eggs, you get the picture.

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We all really liked the natural, simple, earthy decor of this place, plus the huge windows were great to sit by, as was the waterfall behind Joe.

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Joe ordered the Gumbo, which was absolutely delicious in every way. Joe said it made his impression about the restaurant very positive. He said without ordering that, he probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the vegan fare as a whole. 

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That sauce was so perfectly spicy. I have a hard time explaining it, but it just hit the back of the tongue in the faintest, most delicate way. I LOVE spicy food, but you know how if you bite into a really spicy jalapeno in a dish, it takes over your mouth? Not like this. I have no clue what was in it, but it was delicious. And the tofu and red quinoa were perfectly prepared. We both want me to buy and cook tofu from now on. I have had some concerns about the consumption of soy before, but I think whole, less processed soy can have more benefits that outweigh certain cons, such as possible hormonal disruptions. Allie and I were talking about it a little, and it is probably more of a problem when soy is heavily processed and added to every other packaged good. I think we are safe with just a few servings of edamame or organic tofu occasionally. 

Allie and I split these beautiful plates:

Heirloom Beets citrus beet purée, apple, dill

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Maki Roll red beet, avocado, cucumber, jalapeño, carrot, rice, spicy aioli

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Chorizo Sliders portabello bacon, frisée, cheddar, chipotle aioli, tomato-pepper jam

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Everything was so flavorful, unique, and completely delicious. The chorizo flavor was spot on, and our server told us it was made with seitan (wheat gluten) spices, fennel, etc.)

We had some time before we had to get Allie to her 8:35 flight, so we headed down to the planetarium for some pretty pics of the city while Joe drove around since the cop wouldn’t let him park. Thanks Joe!

Hi guys!

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It was seriously a wonderful few days with just awesome company! Who knows, I may be in Allie’s neck of the woods someday soon…

I’m so grateful for the blessings of friendships-old and new.

“A friend loves at all times” Proverbs 17:17

xoxo

Lauren

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Responses

  1. OOH! That pasta/veggie salad looks wonderful!!!
    So this is my first comment on your blog and it looks fantastic. AWESOME PHOTOS!!!! That’s the best part about blogs, isn’t it? LOVE sharing photos – especially FOOD ones!
    And the title of your blog is so right on. LOVE LOVE LOVE!
    Found you through Allie’s blog and have enjoyed seeing the highlights of her visit with you. What a great time!!
    I live up in Volo, IL and my family lives down in Wheaton. My dad owns a millwork business in Geneva and I get out there every so often. Geneva is FABULOUS. We considered moving there more than once but here we are up north still. I miss Wheaton, too.
    Anyway, seriously love your blog and hope you’ll come visit mine if you get a chance, too!
    Happy weekend! 🙂

    • Thank you, Wendy!! How cool about your dad’s business in Geneva! I’ll definitely be checking yours out!

  2. These past few posts have been so fun to read! You’re such a great hostess!

    Also, Lauren, seriously…you look so AMAZING in that pic with skyline behind you.

    • Thank you so much, Steph! You know how to make a girl feel good! 🙂

  3. GREAT recap. I really like how you have those verses towards the end of each post, I am not that religious (WORK IN PROGRESS), not that it matters, but it’s so nice to see a verse that makes you think and smile.

    I wish we have cool vegan resturants here in san diego, as well as a kefir shop. hollleeyyy moley!

    • Angela, thank you for sharing that with me. It is really so MEANINGFUL. We are all a work in progress, that’s why God’s incredible love for us-despite where we are or what we do or fail to do-leaves me grateful and amazed. His love is so huge and incomprehensible that he gave his son for us, that our slates are washed clean if we want him to clean them, and we could have a relationship with God through Jesus when we simply ask and admit our need for him. To love God and love people-that’s Jesus’ commandment in a nutshell, and my greatest desire. Thanks again, Angela.

      • ahhh that just made my eyes warm-up, I know what it feels like to have Him in my life, AND then without. I stopped attending church and everything ~2 years ago, and I forgot what it feels like to have that relationship again. My email is angelalovesfood[at]gmail[dot]com! Thank you for sharing

      • Thank you for your honesty, Angela. Just sent an email…

  4. Versaaace…..oh my gooosh, are you SeeeRi- uuuuus, Aunt SHAR-uuunnn
    No way……Okay, love me some Chi-town accents, as you mentioned in your post. Too cute that Allie picked up on the Ver-saaaaache accent. Wow, what a blast you had in Kefir town, I mean Greek-town, with Allie-girl. Too cool! Joe is too cute as the add-in!!! Seriously, you guys hit some AWESOME spots! Can’t wait for Part-2 when you see Allie again….maybe on her turf (and mine, selfishly).

    • hahaha Sharon I wish you were over here right now making those accents. Allie would have loooved hanging out with you. Did you know she’s in DC now? No more North Caraaliinah…that’s my attempt at a funny southern accent. Love you!!

      • Well, Allie is my friend now too, little Laurie! Tee-hee We have been e-mailing and she just informed me that she’s living near DC now. Guess I just figured she lived near Duke. Allie and I agree that you MUST see the US Capitol, asap! I love your attempt at a North Caraaaaalinah accent……I’m thinkin’ you need to spend a bit more time down hee-ah to really get it down pat. Know what I’m sayin’? Alright ya’ll……

  5. Ohhh YAAHHHHH! I know 🙂

    Thank you again and again and again for dinner and a wonderful couple of days. I’m getting on a plane tomorrow morning headed towards Chicago…see you soon!!

  6. OH my goodness! I want to go to Starfruit – stat!!! And Karyn’s on Green!!! Okay, we seriously need to be real life friends and go on awesome dates such as those! 🙂

    I totally could picture how you said “versace” because, let’s face it… the Chicagoans just have a nasal’y “a” sound!!!!

    • Chelsey-for real! Let’s meet at some point! hahaha I just asked my husband if he knew where Lockport was, and he said, “yeah…it’s either east and south of here…or north and west.” I died laughing. So, I confirmed: it’s southeast of here. I’m glad you too can appreciate our accent! 🙂

      • Haha! I’m totally with you guys on the Chicaaaaahgo accent!!

  7. Hey Laur, did you know you started your blog a year ago, AMAZING!!!

    • I know, crazy!


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