Yellow curry tofu with coconut baked rice, caramelized onions, fennel roasted turnips and cauliflower.

Smooth, creamy West African Peanut Soup, topped with red bell pepper flakes, sunflower seeds and a touch of maple syrup.

Sesame Kale over vermicelli rice noodles with sweet and sour carrots.

5-Spice peanut tempeh over 5-spice stir fried brown rice.

Fried seitan over Indonesian coconut rice noodles and lemongrass.

Pesto quinoa with heirloom tomatoes, Cambodian cucumber soup, Coconut curried chickpeas, Sesame rice noodles with tamarind-thyme sauce…

The above menu was only part of the magic that was Saturday night’s buffet at The Honey Underground, the newest gastronomical venture of Vegan Chef Wendy Landiak, proprietor of Balasia – Green World Cafe.  Remember, that adorable little cafe in the victorian house on Chestnut Street in Emmaus?  Well, it moved about 6 miles down the road.  Still under the umbrella of Balasia, The Honey Underground is a vegan supper club located in Hereford, PA and open select Friday and Saturday evenings – you can check Balasia’s website for the weekly schedule or The Honey Underground’s facebook page  for more detailed updates about the menu, the hours, and who will be there ;P  I had the unforgettable experience of dining there last night at the most recent buffet (there have been several since The Honey Underground’s opening) and all I can say is “wow.”  It was everything I remember about Balasia, only better.  The flavor pairings have somehow become even more creative, if that’s even possible.  Every element to every single dish (and you know I tried them all!) went perfectly with everything else.  I was so disappointed when I started to get that annoying “full” feeling a plate and a half into the meal.  But enough of me gushing, I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

(Please excuse the highly mediocre phone quality of these pics)

papadams, asian slaw and sesame noodles

quinoa salad

salad + a frothy delicious drink

the hot bar station

cucumber salad

one delicious meal

The price for the buffet is $25, which for unlimited organic/local cuisine is pretty darn good.  There is also a dessert bar (unphotographed, sadly!) for an additional $5.  Iced teas and organic sodas are also available for an additional $2.

The Honey Underground is located at 1153 Gravel Pike in Hereford, PA.  You’ll miss it while driving by if you’re not careful, it’s in the very unassuming Hereford Fire Company building, with limited signage.  Call 484-330-6405 to make reservations, or if you have any questions about the food (the chef will accommodate most diets if you give her notice).

And, as listed on the website, if you can’t make it out to Hereford (though you really should try), you can find Balasia at the following farmers markets May through November:

Steelstacks Farmers Market
Southside Bethlehem
3pm – 7pm Tuesdays

Allentown Growers Market
at the PPL Plaza
11:30am – 1:30pm Wednesdays

Coopersburg at Bee Natural
21 North Main Street, Village Center
3:30pm – 7pm Thursdays

Macungie Farmers Market at Macungie Memorial Park
50 Poplar Street (along Walnut St side of the park)
4pm – 7pm Thursdays

There’s talk of these buffet nights becoming a monthly event… which might be the most exciting thing I’ve ever heard.  Disclaimer time: since I’ve been working with Wendy at some of the farmers markets she’s been doing this summer, this review might seem a little biased.  But I would never recommend a restaurant so highly if I didn’t really, truly, unconditionally love the food.  I’m just trying to spread the love :)


Since my visit to Africa over the summer, I’ve been pretty much wholly obsessed with Ethiopian food. Where to find it (or rather where to find the traditional kind), how to make it, etc. After a few months of flirting with the idea, I finally had some friends over and made a full blown Ethiopian feast. My menu included: Gomen (Collard Greens), Miser Wat (Spicy Red Lentils), Yetakelt We’t (Vegetable Stew), Kik Alicha (Yellow Split Peas), and of course, homemade injera. Injera is a light, sour, spongey crepe made from fermented teff flour, and contains more calcium than milk, as well as 100% of one’s daily iron requirements, boron, copper, phosphorus, zinc, protein and fiber. It’s also gluten-free. My injera tasted absolutely nothing like it did in Ethiopia, or in any Ethiopian restaurants I’ve been to for that matter, but I still thought it was great. It was denser and tasted wheatier, or maybe just healthier, than the other forms of injera I’ve had. Probably because most injera is cut with white or whole wheat flour, and is probably fermented for longer. I let mine sit for 2.5 days; the recommended fermentation process lasts 3-4 days. I would have let it sit longer but I was worried it would be too sour, and I didn’t want to scare away my adventurous friends.

Just some of the spices I used. Clockwise: cumin, hungarian paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, chili powder, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom pods, nutmeg, poultry seasoning, cloves, allspice. Not pictured: yellow curry powder, Hana Jeera (a special spice blend my Indian friend’s mom made, and shipped over from India. I try to use it sparingly, as I don’t want to become too dependent on it. It’s really, really good.), garlic, salt and pepper.

I started making 2 kinds of dal, Miser Wat and Kik Alicha.

First I sauteed some onions and garlic, and threw in the cardamom pods (bruised) and cloves. After a few minutes I added all of the remaining above mentioned spices, in varying quantities which I really didn’t measure.

Once the onions were nicely caramelized, I removed the cardamom and cloves. Sometimes I find those flavors overwhelming. Plus, lately I’ve been having weird experiences grinding my own spices. They’ve been tasting bitter, I’m not sure if that’s from my coffee (spice) grinder or what, but it’s been a horribly disappointing situation that I didn’t want to risk replicating today.

I pureed the spicy onions, kind of like Niter Kibbeh but I didn’t want to strain anything through cheesecloth, so I pureed it. It worked phenomenally; I think I’ll be pureeing onions like this every time I make dal from now on. It made the finished product so creamy and flavorful.

The dal cooking away. The above Yellow Split Peas, or the Kik Alicha, I wanted to keep a little on the mild side, just nice savory and warm flavors. So I added a good amount of poultry seasoning, cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as a couple teaspoons of the Hana Jeera. The Miser Wat, the Spicy Red Lentils, I wanted to be really tomato-y and acidic, so I added 3/4 a can of fire roasted tomatoes, a little tomato paste and lots of fresh ginger. When both dals were about done cooking, I added in the pureed onions and let all the flavors blend together on low heat for about 20 mins or so. That was Day 1.

And this is what my counter looked like after Day 1.

The teff flour after 2.5 days of fermentation. Not as bubbly as it should look, but then again I really didn’t know what I was doing. Looks pretty appetizing, huh???

I tested the batter out, making one tiny injera. It was quite delicious.

So on Day 2 I guess I completely forgot about taking pics of the dishes in progress, but that’s probably because people were over and I get distracted easily. But I made some collard greens and a cabbage, carrot, potato stew, with the list of above mentioned spices. I kept the collards and veggies moist and steamy by continually adding shots of vegetable stock to the skillets. If you’ve never made long-cooking veggies that way, try it immediately. Even if you’re just cooking down onions, the veg stock adds a ton of flavor. Then I made some regular-sized injera and piled it high with the food I’d spent 2 days slaving over (exaggeration, this meal was not hard to make). I also made a chili oil with hungarian paprika, chili powder, lime juice and some tomato water from that can I used earlier.

You must eat with your hands when eating Ethiopian food. You must!

Actually it’s customary to feed your friends in Ethiopia, as you see Jeff (the US Mobilization Director for the Global Hope Network, that humanitarian group with which I volunteered over the summer) engaged in with our friends Alex and Kimfe.

And since I’m breaking out the Africa pics now here is one more of me with some of the super awesome kids from the village of Hruso, where we helped build a school. Discovering my love for Ethiopian food while over there was merely a nice little take-away from the experience, but it doesn’t even compare with the affect the Hruso people had on me. But I can’t get into that without getting all emotional and nostalgic, so back to the food: if you don’t want to go through all the trouble of making your own Spectacular Ethiopian Feast, try going herehere or here. All amazing restaurants. A bit of a hike from the LV, but think of it as an adventure.

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.

oh, galleries

When this NYC trip happened a few months ago, I had just returned from Africa and one of my brothers got married 3 days later. This left me little time for blogging. So I shelved these pictures for a while and forgot about them until now. Here you go!







DSC00657video art!

EDIT: I really feel I should add that the above video art featured a girl in an 80s prom dress getting pelted, usually in the face, with tomatoes. She broke her “Ta-da!” pose just long enough to wipe the pulp out of her eyes, the trooper.



DSC00669What’s lacking in this post will be any details whatsoever on the galleries or artists. I have all of the press releases upstairs somewhere, but seriously this trip was like 3 months ago so they’re not particularly handy right now. These exhibitions are all over by now anyway. Next time I’ll be more on top of things.


DSC00635Oh, just a random collage glued onto the wall of a building, picturing a T-Rex moments from devouring a little girl who happens to be dreaming of cats. Who even knows what’s under that black smudge.

DSC00624We also stopped by the Guggenheim for a Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibit. No pictures allowed once you begin ascension up that big crazy spiral. Sorry.

DSC00619Perhaps the most fulfilling part of the day, we stopped by the famous Tom’s Restaurant, or better known as Monk’s Cafe from Seinfeld. As a hardcore fan, it’s kind of been a dream of mine to get this picture taken. One more thing checked off that list. Now all I have to do is backpack across a few more continents and most of my life goals will be complete! The inside of this cafe was charming; Seinfeld paraphernalia everywhere. We spilt a vanilla pistachio milkshake, which was pretty freaking delicious, though I eat dairy very, very rarely so it kind of made me want to throw up everywhere. Oh and the cutest thing about this cafe, Scotty told me in the men’s bathroom someone had scrawled “NEWMAN” in tiny letters on the mirror. I’m not sure why but I love that.

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.


I had some crazy good pine nut/lentil dumplings at Blue Sage once, and immediately began contemplating how I could make something similar (but with more kick!) on my own. My first attempt turned out ok, but they weren’t exactly fantastic. Probably the fact that I was just trying to use up a batch of less-than-great dal in a creative way didn’t help. So this time, I made a PERFECTLY spicy, flavorful and delicious pot of dal, mixed it up with some toasted pine nuts, and used that as the filling for half of the dumplings. Dal (also spelled dhal, dahl, or daal) is the Indian term for lentils cooked with spices, basically. I thought spicy Indian flavors would make for a very interesting dumpling filling, and holy crap, did it ever. For the other half of the dumplings I went a more traditional route and used sauteed veggies and shrimp (I liked the Indian ones better, though). This meal turned into a crazy Indian/Asian fusion ordeal, and the flavors all went together surprisingly well.

VeggiesCabbage, shallots, shiitake mushrooms, grated carrots, garlic and lots of ginger, frying away in the saute pan. I added the garlic near the end of the cooking process, after the veggies had cooked down for 10-15 minutes, then I added the grated ginger all the way at the end, after I turned the heat off. I wanted the ginger to retain most of it’s flavor and kick, since not a whole lot of other spice went into this filling.

FillingsThe sauteed veggies and a little bowl of dal. I won’t lie, dal is not the prettiest food in the world, so I’ll spare you the close up. I mean I think it looks delicious, but I think all brown goopey Indian food looks delicious.

FillingSome of the pictures were taken on an iphone, with the ShakeItPhoto application giving the pics an old-fashioned polaroid look. The rest were taken on my rickshaw wannabe camera. Hopefully the lack of consistency here won’t give anyone a headache.

Dumpling Mis

Lined up

a Soggy MessI didn’t time anything, or follow any precise steps. I just tossed the dumplings into a pan with a little oil, let them cook for a couple minutes on medium high heat until the bottoms began to turn brown, then I dumped a glassful of water into the pan, covered it and let them steam until they felt right. This haphazard method worked beautifully.

yumI guess these are technically pot-stickers, but I like the word dumpling so much better. It’s an adorable word.

once delicious dumpling circle

dumpsOld fashioned polaroid dumplings.

the PlateVeggie/shrimp dumplings on the left, dal dumplings on the right. Deliciousness all over the place. And please, use a high quality Tamari, not some crappy American soy sauce.

I’ll post my dal recipe sometime, but it does contain some top secret spice blend I got from an Indian friend’s mother. She ships over (from India) boxes of homemade jarred spice blends and chutneys and things to my friend. I don’t even know what’s in my jar and I don’t care, it’s freaking good!

And because it was about 30 seconds down the road from where I was, I had to stop in Vegan Treats to purchase the most adorable little Pumpkin Pie I’ve ever seen:

cutest Pumpkin Pie everThough honestly I was so bummed that they didn’t have any pumpkin whoopie pies that day; that was the true reason behind my visit. If you’ve never experienced the glory that is the Vegan Treats Pumpkin Whoopie Pie, well then you just don’t know what you’re missing.

I’ve made variations of this muffin recipe many times, each batch turning out better than the last. What I haven’t done before is use pumpkin puree as the base. So, in the spirit of autumn, I attempted a seasonal, healthy pumpkin muffin. The dry ingredients consisted of brown rice flour, chickpea flour, oat bran, baking powder, toasted coconut, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. The wet stuff included vanilla rice milk, a can of pumpkin puree, brown rice syrup, and some vanilla extract. Since I don’t use added sugar, I threw in some dark chocolate chips for good measure. Into the muffin tins the batter goes:

pumpkin gooI wanted big fat huge high-rise muffins, so I filled the tins up dangerously full. I just figured on a few extra minutes of baking time.

pumpkin muffin goo25 30 45 minutes later at 350 degrees, they were finally done and looking tasty.

Muffin pileWELL THEY WEREN’T.  These were horrible. What you can’t see in the above picture is the completely raw bottom half of the muffins. The top developed a nice little crust to it (though borderline overdone) while the bottom developed into an unpleasant pumpkin flan. There was just no getting these things cooked all the way through. I’m not sure if it was the obscene amount of pumpkin puree I used, or the brown rice flour or what, but I do know these muffins were NOT good eats. Normally I have plenty of obstacles to overcome when baking since I don’t use eggs, milk, butter, or any dairy product for that matter, but this was just ridiculous. It’s pretty ironic that every time I make delicious muffins I think to myself “Oh shoot, I should post this recipe, it’s delicious” and the one time I actually remember to whip out the camera is the one time I have an epic muffin failure.