Blintz On Tour: Curry Up Now, San Francisco

It was time to say goodbye to Canada and head south to the Land of the Free, and specifically the city of bridges and very VERY steep streets. SAN FRANCISCO!

I was in San Francisco to meet up with a group of very fabulous ladies from the Twitter – hello to Liz, Bear, Jinxie, Mia, MLE and especially Sulagna who flew all the way from New York JUST TO MEET ME, I will never be over this for the rest of my life, honestly – so to be blunt while food is always a priority it was not at all my first priority in this particular case. Thankfully though, Jinxie is a foodie too and knew exactly where to take us for a good introduction to the city’s food scene.

After first conveying for a cheese and a cider at Mission Cheese, we headed down Valencia to have dinner proper at Curry Up Now. Starting out as one food truck that eventually grew into a fleet of trucks and bricks and mortar establishments across northern California, Curry Up Now offers an interesting fusion of Indian food presented in ways that you might ordinarily expect from California’s reigning cuisine, Mexican.

Which brings us to the curry burrito.

For you see, you can have CURRY FILLED BURRITOS at Curry Up Now. And thali platters and deconstructed samosas and aloo parantha quesadillex, but most importantly CURRY FILLED BURRITOS. I went with the ‘Hella Vegan’, because California, which was comprised of tofu, rice, garbanzo beans, onions and, get this: TINY CRISPY VEGIE SAMOSAS. There is not enough capslock in the world to truly express my joy with this creation, which was an absolutely enormous thing all wrapped up in a tortilla and properly dwarfed my hands. The curry tofu mixture was spicy enough to provide quite a bit of warming heat (I certainly was glad I’d also ordered a rosewater mango lassi to complement my meal as it was required quite a few times when the heat built up), while the samosas, which somehow retained a sense of crunch rather than going completely soggy, provided textural excitement and little flavour punches that made this quite the extraordinary meal. I was so disappointed that the gargantuan size of the burrito meant I was full before I could finish it – a meal this good shouldn’t of had any bits left behind!

Curry Up Now was a very good introduction to a food scene which appears to be ever inventive, and not at all satisfied with sticking with the status quo. I mean, TINY SAMOSAS in a BURRITO, for god’s sake. If you can’t get excited about that something vital inside of you has died.

Curry Up Now

659 Valencia Street, San Francisco

Ph: +1 415-504-3631

www.curryupnow.com

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Blintz on Tour: The Hogtown Vegan, Toronto

On my last night in Toronto, I was adamant that I had to make sure my last meal was at the venue most keenly recommended to me by Michael in terms of having the most interesting menu of near endless vegan comfort food – The Hogtown Vegan. Hopping on the subway and heading out to the outer reaches of Bloor Street West past Koreatown, Hogtown Vegan welcomes you with a dark cosy interior reminiscent of a smoky bar, but given the array of customers from hipster couples, college-looking kids, and whole families with little ones, it’s clearly a beloved dining option for all kinds of folks.

The menu is very extensive in terms of mock meat delights, to the point where I got far more indecisive than usual. Should I go with waffles and ‘unchicken’? Build my own Hogtown burger? The Philly ‘Cheesesteak’ comprised of seitan topped with pepper, onions and vegan cheese sauce on top of baguette? Eventually I narrowed the numerous choices down to the ‘unchicken’ Caesar wrap – breaded fried soy chicken, romaine lettuce, croutons, fakin’ bits, almond parmesan, and house made creamy Caesar dressing all squeeze together in a wrap. This was a hefty sized wrap, with breaded pieces of unchicken packed in tightly with a generous hand, there was barely any room for even the lettuce! The spice of the unchicken had a bit of unexpected heat to it, but otherwise it was quite good, although it was overshadowed slightly in my choice of side.

This side was poutine, which was a personal mandatory choice because Canada. These hot chips came topped with daiya cheese and mushroom beer gravy. As I hinted at earlier, for a side it was ENORMOUS, I was a littleĀ trepidatious embarking on it, but taste-wise I had no worries. My experiments with daiya continued to be fruitful, with not only that full cheesy flavour being present without any hint of chemical taint, but it also went sufficiently melty to make a proper cheese experience. The mushroom beer gravy was rich and satisfying, and I feel I was quite valiant (or perhaps unheeding of my long-term health prospects) in finishing the whole serve. I certainly needed the aid of my glass of Southern Tea, comprised of bourbon, iced tea, agave and muddled mint.

Maybe I’d been getting too used to devouring salads and fresh veggies during the rest of my Toronto eats, but such a huge plate of delicious stodge sat a bit heavily with me than it would usually. Maybe my experience would have been more dynamic as part of a group of people being able to share a bunch of dishes together and experience more range, rather than as a lone diner. Maybe I was just sad at the prospect of leaving Canada! I do however really encourage Toronto visitors to experience Hogtown Vegan, it’s a really comforting spot, the staff were lovely and there is so much interesting mock-meat deliciousness available that you would really benefit from several visits rather than one. Just make sure you arrive very, VERY hungry.

The Hogtown Vegan

1056 Bloor Street West, Toronto

Ph: +1 (416) 901-9779

www.hogtownvegan.com