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Posts Tagged ‘Balasia’

Though I lived in Emmaus for almost four years, I never bothered to check out the Allentown Farmer’s Market. For one thing, Emmaus has a killer farmer’s market itself. The other reason being someone once told me the Allentown Farmer’s Market is just a bunch of grocery store produce shipped in from Giant and Weiss. Nothing is locally grown, in other words. I finally paid this questionable market a visit last weekend, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised!

Whether or not all of the produce is locally grown I’m not sure, but the market itself was a lot more diverse than I expected. Imported gourmet and specialty foods, Amish pies and pastries (baked, apparently on premise), spices, flowers, Mediterranean food, and the reason I was there: organic, exotic vegan food!

I was helping out my friend Wendy in her stand for the day. Not to be biased, but the smells wafting out of her stand put all the other vendors to shame.

She had some side dishes ready to go, including Teriyaki Tofu, Masala Potatoes, Coconut Cashew Rice, Indian Samosas, Curried Cabbage, and Garlic & Sage Carrots with Balsamic Vinegar. As usual, Wendy was also selling Vegan Treats, from the shop in Bethlehem.

Yeah, if you’ve never tried a Vegan Treats Pumpkin Whoopie pie, you need to go ahead and do that. Their Peanut Butter Brownies are pretty amazing too.

The Cowboy Cookie. EVERYONE LOVES THIS COOKIE. I never knew what all the hoopla was about until I tried one.

Entrees are also made to order. Above, the “Taste of India” platter: karachi dahl, crisp indian crackers, samosa and organic brown basmati rice served over organic greens, finished with red curry dressing, mango chutney and coconut flakes. Wendy was also offering up Chipotle Chili, West African Peanut soup and my all-time-favorite, the Bombay Burrito. The priciest item on her menu ($14.95) but so worth it. Plus, I was eating mine for like three days afterwards, it’s simply huge!

One of our hottie patrons enjoying some vegan chili.

And many other happenings at the market:


In closing, the goofy rickshaw slightly weird clown ferris wheel.

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Balasia has opened a store in the Allentown Farmer’s Market! The space will be up and running starting next Tuesday, November 24th. Expect restaurant classics like Curry-yaki & Teriyaki Baked Tofu, Chipotle Chili, THE West African Peanut soup, Ginger Curry Pumpkin soup, Coconut Quinoa & other seasonal dishes. The new space will have more of a take-out vibe than the previous building in Emmaus, with minimal seating but a full menu.
Teriyaki Tofuyum.

 

The Allentown Farmer’s Market, normally open Thursday – Saturday weekly, will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving week. It is located at 1725 W Chew St in the Allentown Fairgrounds.

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If you missed out experiencing Balasia before the restaurant closed, you’ll have a chance to catch Wendy Landiak at the PA Energy Fest in Kempton this weekend, Friday the 18th through Sunday the 20th. The chef has access to a full-blown kitchen this year, so expect restaurant-quality dishes. Indian fusion and BBQ tofu may or may not be involved.

yummy Balasia food

Balasia food porn, just for kicks

Also, if you’ll take notice of our happenings on the right-hand side of the page, LV Eggplant is now on Twitter, as result of a conversation between Josh and I that went something like this:
Carolyn: you never update the blog, I know you go out to eat all the time, is it so hard to snap a couple pictures and tell the internet whether the food was good or crappy, huh?! (whine whine whine whine)
Josh: um yeah… I’ll get around to it

Repeat the above dialogue once a week for several weeks. Eventually, we decided Josh could handle 140 character tweets every once in a while, without having to commit to writing a whole post. So feel free to follow us as we tweet mini-reviews and share random food info as we discover it throughout the LV!

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Though the restaurant isn’t ready to unveil it’s new location just yet, you can catch Wendy of Balasia (aka best food on earth) at the Allentown Grower’s Market at the PPL Plaza on 9th and Hamilton for the following events:

 

Every Wednesday from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm from now until October

Balasia will be offering assorted vegetarian snacks like specialty hummus, soup, quinoa salad and Vegan Treats cookies, brownies, and whoopee pies.

EDIT: Wendy is also offering vegan ice cream. Call ahead to order (or, if you’re lucky she will have some extra on hand) with basically any flavor combination you can think of: cashew cinnamon, chocolate peanut butter, berry vanilla, you name it and she’ll make it.

 

Blues, Brews and BBQ 

Saturday June 13th from noon – 8 pm

Come out for Balasia’s setian BBQ, baked black beans, corn on the cob, curry potato salad, grilled portabello mushroom caps and who knows what else. Good food, good music, good beer – sounds like a winning combination to me.

 

Chef Wendy has also been offering a vegan buffet at Tierra Sana on Sunday nights from 5-10 pm. Tierra Sana is a “whole foods fusion” restaurant located at 100-17 Queens Blvd/ Forest Hills in New York (67th ave exit off the R train).  If you’re in the area, check out the buffet. With dishes like gobhi salaad (whole cauliflower crowned with creamy avocado), kacha kela foogath (plaintains in coconut sauce) and kela mithai (broiled bananas with toasted almonds) it might just be worth the train ride!

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I don’t even know where to start.

I’ll try to keep this post brief so I don’t get all emotional.  The restaurant in question is Balasia, located (for the next 3 or so weeks, anyway) at 500 Chestnut St. in Emmaus.  It is the best food I have ever had in my entire life.  It’s exotic vegan cuisine, the produce organic and local, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.  Balasia opened my eyes to flavor, spice, and the combining of ingredients I never thought possible.  But Balasia is about so much more than food – it’s about love, community, health, LIFE, I could go on and on.  And now, due to some perhaps questionable circumstances, the love that is Balasia will be moving to a yet-to-be disclosed location.  As of mid-February, the 500 Chestnut St. location will be no more (I’m trying hard to keep my mouth shut, here).  So I suggest each and every one of you take this opportunity to drop what you’re doing and go there, immediately.  I know I will be soaking up the Balasia goodness for the next few weeks while I can.  And then, come mid-February… well, there will be a giant tofu-shaped hole in the Lehigh Valley and I have yet to figure out how I will survive the hiatus.   

Tofu Dill Burger

I’ve taken millions of pictures of Balasia food over the past 2+ years.  Wendy Landiak, the genius chef, is such an artist with her presentation that I felt the food just had to be photographed.  Above is the Tofu Dill Burger, it was a special that particular day, and never seen on the menu again.  It was outstanding.  Layers of crispy fresh greens, spicy karachi dal, brown rice, and spice-infused oil topped with that beautifully caramelized mound of tofu, crusted with mustard and cumin seeds, with some sort of tomato chutney and caramelized onions on top.  Chickpeas, boondi, cashews, carrots and who knows what else were also sprinkled through the dish.  Each bite was a complex taste explosion, and every element of the dish complimented everything else so perfectly.

West African Peanut Soup

The West African Peanut Soup.  I’ve attempted recreating this soup on my own many many times, as I tend to crave it every day of my life, and I’m thrilled to say my latest attempt came pretty darn close.  Nothing can compare with the original though.  It is a perfectly smooth sweet potato puree, nutty, a little sweet, with hints of garlic and ginger, topped with maple syrup, dried roasted red pepper flakes, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.  Don’t shy away from the red pepper flakes; they’re not hot, they’re delicious (they’re bell peppers not hot peppers, a huge misconception).  Every time I get this soup, I fight the urge to lick the bowl afterwards.   

5 spice tofu

One of the amazing things about Balasia is Wendy will make you whatever you want.  If you’re feeling adventurous and want to go off-menu, just tell her what you’re in the mood for and she’ll create it.  This delicious mound of goodness pictured above was one of my crazy requests; I asked her for some 5 spice tofu (I don’t know what’s in that 5 spice peanut sauce but it’s freaking extraordinary) crusted with mustard seeds, on top of a bed of rice noodles drenched in a slightly tangy miso sauce, coconut flakes sprinkled throughout, and an Indian samosa on the side.

Indonesian Salad

This was a SALAD a friend of mine ordered once… so in case you were wondering, the soups and salads here are full meals in themselves.  This was a simple and delicious dish, fresh, crisp and light, hints of miso and ginger in the dressing.  I can’t remember what the little side dish contained but I’m sure it was good.

Indonesian Stew

Speaking of soups being full meals in themselves, the Indonesian Potato Stew offers up so much bulk and yumminess that you probably wouldn’t be able to squeeze in an entree after eating it.  The lemongrass-infused coconut milk broth provides a flavorful base for the huge chunks of veggies and rice noodles, and the coconut flakes and bean sprouts on top give the soup a perfect little crunch.  Hearty and satisfying!

Eggplant Masala

This was the Indian-inspired Eggplant Masala dish, with karachi dal, crisp methi crackers and a samosa covered in sweet mango chutney.  Clearly this was enough food for at least 2 meals, and I enjoyed it very much for lunch the next day.  If possible, the food gets even more delicious after stewing for a day or so.

Curiyaki Tofu

The Curi-yaki Tofu, a blend of curry and teriyaki-marinated tofu, crusted with fennel, cumin seeds and red pepper flakes, on a bed of brown rice and kale so incredibly flavorful and tasty you’d never know it was kale. Now I am all about incorporating dark leafy greens into my diet, but greens don’t exactly taste wonderful, and somehow Wendy makes them delicious. If she ever has kale or cabbage somewhere on the menu, I promptly request she lay it on me. Who knew healthy food could be SO GOOD!

I’m still in a bit of denial that 500 Chestnut will soon be no more, but I know whatever Wendy does in the future will be better for her, better for the restaurant and better for her followers. I’m excited and nervous for Balasia, and I can’t wait to see how this whole thing will turn out. In the meantime, however, I will be eating at Balasia every minute of every day until it closes, soaking up the experience while I can. I suggest you all do the same.

One last note – I know people are used to fast food for dirt cheap prices in this silly day and age, and that’s not the type of establishment we are talking about here. Wendy creates complex, time consuming, high quality meals and serves you portions large enough to feed 2-3 people, so you won’t be paying $5 for lunch here. Expect to pay around $9-$15 for lunch, and $20-$35 for dinner. But also keep in mind that Wendy wants people to experience her cuisine, and if you’re on a budget, just let her know and she’ll make you something in your price range. That’s the kind of restaurant Balasia is, and it’s a beautiful thing.  

-Carolyn

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As it turns out, the Bethlehem Raw Love Cafe project is no more, but to all you raw enthusiasts or plain old adventurous eaters out there, fear not, as Gary Warren (previously involved with the opening of the Raw Love Cafe) has announced last week:

“the same enthusiasm and effort that was going into starting the RAW LOVE CAFE in downtown Bethlehem is now at The Wildflower Cafe at 316 S. New Street, 1/2 block from the Fahey Bridge in Southside Bethlehem. Working with Michelle, the proprietor of the Wildflower, we have found a valuable compatriot in a compassionate environment. She shares our passion for wholesome, affordable food, and she and her place have always represented a hub for community spirit. In short, it is a good match.”

Gary will also be working with Wendy Landiak of Balasia on October 27th for a 3 course Raw Night, featuring raw food, drinks, and a community table setting (private seating also available). Call Balasia for reservations: 484-330-6405.

I, for one, will not be missing this.

-Carolyn

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