Category Archives: New Hampshire

Cafe Momo

I love trying new things in the (vegan) food world, and one of my favorite ways to do that is sampling dishes that hail from other areas of the planet.  You can find “Mexican” and “Chinese” food on every corner around here, but I like to scout out the less common ones — Indian, Ethiopian, Korean.  It’s also preferable to find food that’s as authentic as possible (I’d wager I’ve never actually had real Chinese food).  There are still many, many types of “ethnic cuisine” (what is the real phrase I’m looking for?) that I haven’t yet tried, but fortunately, I’m still young!

All that to say, I’ve wanted to go to Cafe Momo for quite some time now (and my desire to go doubled when I discovered that they won the Hippo’s award for Best Vegetarian Food in Manchester a few years back!).  I realize that Manchester, NH is one of the least likely places on the planet you’d expect to find authentic Nepalese food.  But, surprise!  Here it is.  I hit up Momo one night a few weeks ago with my (omni) mom and (vegan) sister and we were all super-impressed.

Cafe Momo is tucked way waaaay up on Hanover St by the highway.  There isn’t much to see on the outside (it was too dark when I went — check the Yelp page for pics) but they make up for it with the super-colorful interior:

Interior of Cafe Momo -- sorry for spoiling your evening with my camera flash, you two!

I’ll say right up front that it is DIM inside.  I don’t know if it’s any better at lunchtime with the natural light helping, though the Yelp page seems to suggest it is, since other people seem to have gotten some food pictures that didn’t need to be heavily desaturated, lightened and adjusted for temperature.  (And mine STILL look orangey-purple…) So if you have an intense need to see all the details of your food, this is not your best pick for restaurant.  Or at least not your best pick for dinner.

Mom and I kicked things off with some soups:

Bamboo soup. Menu description: "This soup is loaded with hand cut vegetables, textured soy and marinated bamboo shoots."

This was my mom’s choice so I didn’t have much of it, but what I did have was tasty!  At first (aka before I checked the menu) the TVP scared me off — I thought it was meat.  Fortunately, I verified that all the soup choices are vegan!

Gundruk soup

I was more drawn to the Gundruk, advertised as being a traditional homeopathic soup.  It was spicier than I was expecting (the theme for the night!) but I ate it all up anyway.  The stuff floating around the top is soy nuts — a weird addition to soup, I thought, but it worked.

The Momo Mojito: "A balance of fresh lime juice, mint leaves, and rice wine."

I don’t drink, and my sis is only 19, but Mom said this was good!

Flat herbed bread appetizer

My sis, ever the carb lover, opted for the unassuming “flat herbed bread” appetizer.  At $3 this is the least expensive thing on the menu (besides the undescribed “Pickle,” which they curiously charge $2 for) but I’m pretty sure it was the favorite plate of the night!  We all LOVED this bread!

Since we’d all gotten appetizers and the entrees were more expensive here than those at the restaurants we normally go to, the three of us decided to get two to share.  I’d heard great things about their curry, and the Katmandu Thaili sounded like a must-have (“A crepe made of black lentil flour with cilantro and scallions steamed into it… filled with seasoned sauteed vegetables cooked to perfection! This filling entree is topped with avocado cilantro sauce.”).  So we were all set to order one curry and one order of the Thaili… when we received word from the kitchen that the Thaili was all out!  Which leads me to my one complaint: For a cafe that was honored for having the best veggie cuisine in town, there was precious little food we could eat!  There are only 5 entrees on the vegetarian menu: two curries, the Katmandu Thaili, a paneer dish (not vegan), and the Tarkari Bhat — described as being “seasoned vegetables and a serving of basmati rice.”  We were down to two curries or the Bhat, which — no offense — sounded more or less ordinary.  So we decided to split the two curries.

I didn't write down the name of this one! Bad Katy!

Mushroom Curry: "Portobello mushrooms cubed and bathed in a curry along with seasoned vegetables."

Both of these were awesome, tomato-based curries (and they get bonus points for including plantains, which I LOVE!).  The avocado cilantro sauce perfectly accompanied the rice, too!  But the entrees were both pretty similar, and I really wished the crepe had been available.  Also, we ordered “medium” spiciness and it came out so hot I had to take a forkful of rice between pretty much every bite.  Beware!

We also hoped to order a dessert but discovered that there were no vegan options available that day.  Alas.  Probably for the best, though, since we were pretty full at that point.

The bottom line is that Cafe Momo serves great (great!) unique food.  It’s worth a visit (or two, or three!).  Just don’t be fooled by the Hippo award to go here and expect vegan heaven.  The options, though awesome, are limited.

Whatever else you order, though, get the bread!

Cafe Momo is located at 1065 Hanover Street in Manchester, NH near exit 7 on 101.  http://www.cafemomonh.com/

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Hitting the bars again ;)

Well, after a busy busy holiday season, I’m back and ready for an exciting new year full of vegan deliciousness!  January also marks my two-year anniversary with veganism, and I couldn’t be any happier about that.  You’ve been so good to me, baby.

I had some mouthwateringly fantastic pictures of a dinner at Manchester’s Cafe Momo for a review that I was going to post to kick off the new year.  But then yesterday I went and lost my camera and, naturally, the memory card inside it!  So I guess I will just have to go back to Momo another time to get more pictures.  Just so the suspense doesn’t kill you, here is the gist of my review: AWESOME.   Tasty Nepalese food.  Go!  And don’t miss the deceptively unassuming flatbread.  My sister, a true bread enthusiast if there ever was one, completely adored it.

Actually, I still have all my notes from the Momo dinner, so I could still do a writeup if you guys wouldn’t be too terribly bored reading an all-text review.  Hmm.  I guess I will have to think about that one.  Comment if you have an opinion on this!

For now, though, here are some non-Momo pictures I managed to import prior to yesterday!

Some months ago I mentioned that Apotheca is one of the coolest and most underrated places (EVER) in southern NH.  (This is still true.)  I also mentioned that they carry one of my favorite baked goods (EVER), namely, the “Vegan Delight” bar from Country Life Bakery in Harrisville.  Well, even though I haven’t written about them since May, rest assured I’ve been steadily eating them all that time.  And, as promised, I finally managed to get some glamour shots of one of them in before devouring!

blueberry bar!  sadly, the URL on the label seems to be for a defunct site; go here instead: http://www.newellness.org/bakery.htm

These bars are HUGE and come in all kinds of flavors (some seasonal) including blueberry, raspberry, date, cherry, apple, strawberry, and pumpkin.  I seriously can’t wait for them to be noticed and picked up by other markets so they’d be more accessible across the state — though I’m sure Apotheca doesn’t mind the steady stream of business from me!  Here’s the same bar, unwrapped:

blueberry bar, unwrapped! I have pics of other flavors too but they all look pretty much the same...just slightly different in color of filling.

Oh man.  I can’t stand it.  I’m actually blogging from out of state at the current moment, and these pics are making me consider an early flight home ;) Go get ’em!

Find Country Life Bakery’s “Vegan Delight” squares at Apotheca Flowers and Tea Chest, 24 Main St, Goffstown, NH. http://www.apothecaflowershoppe.com/

 

Holiday brunch, take 2!

Just a heads up that Cafe Indigo is doing the holiday brunch thing a second time!  Awesome!  So if you missed it in November (or, come on, even if you didn’t), check it out this Sunday the 12th from 10-2.  And check their Facebook page for updates!

Cafe Indigo is located at 128 H Hall Street in Concord, NH.  http://www.cafeindigo.com/

Co-operating

First, I thought I’d share with you the fact that one of my more popular Google hits is the search term “tasty sandwiches.”  This means I’m doing my job.

OK.  So, much to my annoyance and irritation, and in spite of my repeated requests via the “suggestions” form, Whole Foods has still not yet opened a location in the entire state of New Hampshire.  What’s a Manchesterite to do?

As I’ve mentioned previously, A Market in Manchester is a pretty decent option if you find yourself in desperate need of Daiya, Field Roast, nutritional yeast, seasonal Silk flavors…you know the stuff I’m talking about.  But, recently I’ve found that I prefer the Concord Co-Op even more!

Entrance to the Concord Co-operative Market

I am not a member of the Co-op, but if I weren’t planning on moving to Massachusetts soon I would seriously think about joining.  It’s a wonderful way to support local farmers as well as the local economy.  There is a one-time cost of $100 per household to join (and you get it back if you ever decide not to be a member any more, so there’s really very little to lose and a lot to gain).  Check out the conditions as well as the perks of membership here.

The Co-op offers many of the things I like best about Whole Foods, with the benefits of being closer and more locally supportive.  Some examples: a wide array of natural and organic products as well as locally-grown produce; an impressive bulk foods section; catering services; a calendar of events, classes, and tasting events; and — one of the best things about WF of course — a hot food bar and prepared foods section, rounded out by an area where you can sit and eat your food after checkout!  They also offer a sales/coupon flyer called Co+op Deals, similar to the “Whole Deal” flyer.

The area is open and, with the exception of the natural healing section, never feels anything but spacious (a nice change, since most health food stores in New Hampshire are tiny and make me feel a bit claustrophobic).

SPACE in the aisles!

Lately, the incentive to take the short trip up the highway to the Co-op has been what is probably the best variety of non-dairy dairy options I’ve seen this side of the Mass border:

Just a piece of the Co-op dairy case -- and unfortunately, YES, much of what's pictured is cow dairy, so don't get your hopes too high.

Here you can see the milk and yogurt options, including my favorite yogurt, Wildwood Probiotic Soyogurt, which is nearly impossible to find around here outside of WF.  But check it out — not all the vegan options even fit in the picture!  Outside of the picture’s scope to the left is the non-dairy cheese including both kinds of Daiya, FYH, and all the single-sliced kinds, as well as soy-, almond- and coconut-milk based coffee creamers and Soyatoo whipped cream.  To the right of the picture is all the Tofutti, Vegenaise and EB varieties I could think of, so probably all of them!

Prepared foods case at the Co-op

The prepared foods case at the Co-op can usually put the case at any small WF to shame, though it was a busy Sunday afternoon when I snapped this photo so it looks a little understocked.  There are always plenty of vegan options here, including stellar mini-versions of Cafe Indigo‘s award-winning cakes, ready-to-go combo meals from SamosaMan, and delicious-looking sandwiches (in the mood for a vegan BLT?  egg-less salad sandwich?  how about broccoli-tempeh wraps?) made under the name of their in-house cafe, the Celery Stick.

Don’t expect a WF-sized salad bar at the Celery Stick — it’s a small operation.  Still, they manage to fit in a hot bar, a salad bar, 2-3 soups and a decent-sized bakery case!

Offerings at The Celery Stick Cafe

Celery Stick bakery case -- typically contains 2-3 vegan options

The one complaint I have about the Celery Stick is that generally only one option in the hot bar (and sometimes no option!) is vegan.  There’s usually plenty of tasty stuff in the prepared section to take care of me.  But, if you’re planning to have lunch here, I’d still recommend you check their Twitter feed first (@celerystickcafe) to find out what’s on the hot bar menu.  The bakery case always has something vegan, though — the last time I went, there was a vegan blueberry muffin as well as cookie bars from Cafe Indigo.  At least they’ve got those of us with a sweet tooth covered.

Though A Market is closer to my house, I think the slightly longer drive up here is worth it.  I’ve never compared prices, but I do know the selection is better, the prepared foods are better, the overall experience is just…better, and knowing I’m directly supporting the local community seals the deal.  In the wintertime especially, when all but a few farmer’s markets go into hibernation, this is a great way to show our New England vendors some love!

The Concord Co-Operative Market and the Celery Stick Cafe are located at 24 South Main Street in Concord, NH.  Check Web site for hours and menu.  http://www.concordfoodcoop.coop/

Muse Thai Bistro in Manchester

I’d heard great things about the vegan offerings at Siam Orchid restaurant in Manchester, so when an opportunity (in the form of visiting company) arose to try it out, I jumped at the chance.

Siam Orchid is crammed into a little plaza on Second Street (the one with Applebee’s).  The first thing I learned about Siam Orchid is that, despite the name on the sign (“Siam Orchid”) and the name on the takeout menu (“Siam Orchid”), they actually changed their name to Muse Thai Bistro effective several months ago.  A little confusing at present, but nothing that a new sign won’t clear up soon.  (The other location in Concord, incidentally, is still Siam Orchid.)

The ambiance was bright and a little eclectic — but I liked it:

interior of Muse Thai Bistro

They have a pretty decent number of options, but I was surprised by how few of them were actually meatless (we get a “Vegetarian Corner” of the menu).  I wasn’t really in the mood for anything weighty (the “corner” is heavy on the fried tofu) so I thought the Green Garden sounded good:

Green Garden: Boiled fresh green beans, baby corn, broccoli, snowpeas, served with a delicious peanut sauce.

Sounds good, right?  Well…when I happily requested the Green Garden, the waitress actually recommended that I NOT order it and ended up succeeding in talking me out of it!  Apparently it is literally ONLY what is in that description, plain boiled veggies, no frills, with peanut sauce on the side.  Well, hmm.  No thanks, then, I guess?

I wound up with the “Tofu, Ginger and Scallions” (tofu was fried, but what can you do):

Tofu, Ginger and Scallions: Fried tofu with assorted vegetables, ginger & black bean sauce.

The presentation, as you can see, was superb.  Perfect portion size (I finished all the veggies and about 1/2 the rice) and very colorful.  And, yes, it was very tasty.  The fried tofu was yummy (sigh) but it should be noted that it was mooshy rather than crispy.  I would have appreciated a warning about the quantity of mushrooms, as they are not really my favorite thing and they made up the majority of the “assorted vegetables.”  Oh well.  I did enjoy the long ribbony ones and the buttons, and my mom happily ate the weird chewy ones for me, so no harm done.

It should also be noted that the ginger in the dish is straight-up GINGER.  Not pickled, not candied, just a big hunk of ginger in your mouth.  I was fine with this.  In fact, I loved it.  If you aren’t a big ginger fan, though, beware!

Finally, one complaint: where is this “black bean sauce”?  I occasionally spotted traces of a thin, clearish, pretty much tasteless sauce, and maybe that’s what “black bean sauce” is supposed to be, but I was hoping for something more beany and flavorful than, um, not.

Anyway.  Next time I’m there I will probably get a curry, as I was enviously eyeing my mom’s throughout the whole lunch.  You, too should go check out Siam Orchid Muse Thai Bistro, and keep that veggie corner on the menu!  May not have been the best Thai food I’ve ever had, but hey — it was a solid, all-veg, relatively inexpensive lunch.  It’s nice that this is available in Manch!

Muse Thai Bistro is located at 581 Second St #C in Manchester, NH.  http://www.musethaibistro.com/

Holiday brunch alert!

THIS SUNDAY, November 14th, from 10a-2p, Cafe Indigo will be hosting its annual holiday brunch!  I’ll be out of town so I can’t go, but you all should!  Resplendent with seitan “turkey” and other holiday goodies, it promises to be even better than their usual brunch, which is indeed a force to be reckoned with.  If previous holiday brunches are any indication, get there on the early side to ensure you’ll get both seating and food.

Check their Facebook page for updates as it seems their official site is down.

Cafe Indigo is located at 128 H Hall Street in Concord, NH.  http://www.cafeindigo.com/

Cafe Indigo: Still golden

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Cafe Indigo is hands-down your best bet for Sunday brunch in the state of New Hampshire.  If you are within driving distance of Concord, and it happens to be the 2nd or 4th Sunday of the month, you have no excuse not to check it out!  I stopped by with my mom a few weeks ago and it was better than ever.

Brunch hours are from 10-2.  Of course, ever the procrastinators, Mom and I showed up at CI’s door slightly after 1:30.   Nonetheless, we were greeted with a smile and seated promptly.  I was also happy to see that new trays of food were still being brought out to the buffet table despite the late hour.

The way brunch works at Cafe Indigo is pretty awesome.  There is a buffet table of sides, salads, and desserts, from which you can take as much as you want, starting as soon as you’re seated.  Also included is your choice of one entree from their brunch menu, which they cook and bring to your table later.  (You can also order additional beverages and a la carte items if you wish.)  Finally, they have a coffee counter with a pretty decent selection of organic teas and coffees — all self-serve with unlimited refills.

This basically all adds up to A WHOLE LOT OF FOOD.  Fortunately, if you ask nicely they will give you a take-out box for your menu-item leftovers — which is great for me, since I always seem to fill up on the buffet before my order even arrives!

 

Buffet table offerings!

Buffet table offerings!

 

I sampled a little of everything from the buffet spread: cole slaw, black bean and corn salad, hummus with blue corn chips, pea salad with “bacon bits,” and a slice of corn bread.  All of these were as awesome as they look, but my favorites (as always) were the cole slaw and the pea salad.  Not pictured: the pasta salad I tried on round 2.  It was herbed but vinegar-free — a pleasant surprise, since I’m not crazy about vinegar-y pasta.

The only thing that I didn’t get a chance to sample was the gluten-free sesame noodles.  I remembered them from last time and wanted to try them again, but sadly, they were all gobbled up by the time I got there and were the only dish that went un-replenished.  That’s what I get for showing up at 1:30!

I must have been to brunch at CI four or five times by now and every time I get the huevos rancheros, which are just stellar.  This time, however, I decided to break out of my rut and order the sampler plate.

 

Cafe Indigo brunch sampler plate

 

The sampler plate is exactly what it sounds like: miniature versions of three of their other five brunch menu choices (the only two you don’t get to try are the huevos rancheros and their version of the Ruben).  They also throw in two sides: rosemary potatoes and a sausage patty.  Here’s my take:

  • French toast: This one surprised me! The toast had a really convincing “eggy” texture which many vegan French toast interpretations lack. Bonus points for using cinnamon swirl bread.  We all know my cinnamon obsession ;)
  • Cornmeal pancake: A solid “good.”  I kept finding myself wondering why they made it out of cornmeal.  Still tasty, don’t get me wrong, but I wish it had been less, uh, cornmealy.
  • Tofu scramble: There are a thousand versions of scrambled tofu, and while this may not be the best one out there, it’s a contender for sure.  There was no boxed-scramble taste whatsoever, the texture was spot-on and the vegetable selection was just right.  Basically, it was delicious without having to try too hard.  I nearly forgot I was eating tofu ;)
  • Rosemary potatoes: It’s hard to go wrong with rosemary potatoes! These were a great complement to the rest of the meal.  My only adjustment would be to make them slightly less greasy.
  • Sausage patty: Surprisingly, this was my favorite thing on the plate!  Tender, mildly chewy texture + savory flavor with just the right amount of sweetness = best breakfast sausage you could ask for.  It was very clearly homemade, and that is in no way an insult!  No frozen boxed patties here.

Mom opted for my faithful standby, the huevos rancheros.

 

Cafe Indigo's Huevos Rancheros

 

The rosemary potatoes are the same as the ones on my plate, the eggs are not!  The ranchero-style eggs taste totally different – they’re made with some seitan thrown in, I believe, as well as a different veggie/spice combo.  Served with black beans, avocado, sour cream, and pico de gallo.  If you miss huevos rancheros from your pre-vegan days, this will hit the spot.

Mom and I had both polished off two plates of buffet items and about 1/2 of our orders when we decided to box up the rest and try dessert!

 

Cafe Indigo desserts!

 

I tried a ginger crinkle, a small piece of chocolate cake and a cupcake version of their delicious lemon poppyseed cake.  Not pictured: Mom snagged the last piece of their award-winning carrot cake.  I’d had it before and already knew how good it was, but I was more impressed that Mom (who is a serious carrot-cake aficionado and not a vegan) was impressed!  She especially couldn’t believe how cream-cheesy the frosting tasted.

After dessert and the check (did I mention we got $3 off for being facebook fans?!) and one more trip to the coffee station for a refill on my tea, I checked out the bakery take-home items for sale.

 

Cookies/scones/bread for sale!!

 

There is also a fridge full of other goodies, including cheesecake, homemade seitan, Cheezly (all the way from across the pond!), whoopie pies, and cake by the slice (including a gluten-free version of the famous carrot cake).

NH has precious few all-veg restaurants, and Cafe Indigo is at the top of the heap for quality, value and mindfulness.  I think it’s really important to support them and show them that the demand for vegan food is still high!  If you haven’t been to their brunch yet, DO it!   You can go this weekend ;)

Cafe Indigo is located at 128 H Hall Street in Concord, NH.  http://www.cafeindigo.com/