Dr J’s Vibrant Cafe

By Tsz on July 16, 2013

Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe
Gastrophoria is an organic, veggie-ful meal from Dr. J’s Vibrant Cafe.

A project of love from a mother-son duo, Dr. J’s is a rare find in that it serves macrobiotic, gluten-free, organic and vegan (that’s a mouthful) fare that is also delicious. Or as I like to say, food that you can stuff yourself silly and still feel like a million bucks afterwards.

How can I make this claim? Because I did.

Being an open-minded omnivore, I previewed Dr. J’s with a fellow food explorer where we proceeded to “sample” (devour) a copious variety of vegan-friendly dishes. Brown rice medley with peas, onions, carrots, baked tofu and curried potatoes? Check. Massaged kale toss with kidney beans, carrots and toasted walnuts? Got seconds. The quinoa spring salad with apples, radishes and Persian cucumbers? Yup. Rice noodle wok-fried with mixed veggies? Way ahead of you.

Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe

The most swooned-after dish of the night was their spring wrap. Although they are not lookers, they have the power to end friendships as my dining partner and I couldn’t stop ourselves from fighting over the last one. Crisp carrots and celery match sticks, marinated-tofu and ground almond come together in little rice wrapper packets that are so good that you don’t even miss its traditional, meat-filled version.

Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe
Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe

For dessert, we had the Supersnack and carob brownies—both of which were made without sugar, flour and eggs. How do they do that?! I’ll never know. What I do know is that they satisfied my sweet tooth just as the real deal, without the sugar crash afterwards.

Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe

Though we were both stuffed after the meal, we felt energized instead of comatose. The next morning was even better—without going into details. Thanks Dr. J’s!

Dr. J’s Vibrant Cafe
334 S Main St.
Los Angeles, California 90013

Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe
Dr. J's Vibrant Cafe


Recipe : Ginger Carrot Soup

By Tsz on June 6, 2013

Gastrophoria is a big bowl of homemade ginger carrot soup.

A few months back, I had the most amazing bowl of ginger carrot soup at the Padre Hotel for a carrot themed weekend hosted by Grimmway Farms. It was one of the dishes that just lingers in your mind. So velvety, so rich and with just enough heat to keep it all interesting.

I rarely get excited about soup, especially one without meat! So, I reached out and asked the good people of the Padre Hotel to see if they would so inclined as to share with me their recipe. To my surprise, they agreed! The most unbelievable part of this is how simple the recipe is—all that’s required are basically are baby carrots and aromatics. Yet, the end product tastes exactly like the real deal.

Thought I’d pay it forward and share with you all, enjoy!

Ginger Carrot Soup
Recipe courtesy of Padre Hotel

Restaurant portions

40 chopped Grimmway Farms baby carrots
1/2 cup fresh ginger, minced
1 whole yellow onion, chopped
6-10 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2-3 tablespoons ginger powder
4-6 quarts of vegetable stock depending on how thick you like your soup
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon oil
Splash of honey to sweeten (if needed)

Or, reduced for home
(Serves 4)

6 cups Grimmway Farms baby carrots
1 tablespoon fresh, ginger minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
8 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon oil

1. Heat a stock pot over medium high heat and pour in oil.
2. Add in carrots, onions, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly until they sweat (but not brown).
3. Add in the spices and pour in the vegetable stock.
4. Increase the heat to high until the mixture comes to a boil. Then turn the heat down so it is at a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes until carrots are soft.
5. Turn off the heat and blend the mixture in either a blender or food processor till smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat if necessary.
6. Garnish with cream if you desired and enjoy! Also great chilled.


Wonka Inventing Room

By Tsz on June 1, 2013

Gastrophoria is a chocolate truffle from Wonka Inventing Room.

When I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the one with Gene Wilder) back in elementary school, I was transfixed. The thought of a chocolate river? Or lickable wall paper? Or fizzy sodas that has the ability to make you float? Stuff sweet dreams are made of.

Since then, I came to the sad realization that such a place doesn’t exist (yet). However, there is the next best thing, which are concoctions from Wonka Inventing Room. Got myself a box as a treat and enjoyed every part of it. From the packaging, the toy-like appearance of each piece of chocolate and of course, the taste. From goji berry to roasted s’mores, the kid in me resurfaced with a vengeance upon the first taste.

What foods take you on a walk down memory lane?


Pizzeria Delfina : Lighter-than-Air Pizzas

By Tsz on April 16, 2013

Gastrophoria is a lighter-than-air prosciutto pizza at Pizzeria Delfina.

Ever since hitting my late 20s, I started experiencing hangovers. Not from alcohol—as I’m an one-drink-wonder—but from food. I used to be able to put away plates at the buffet or AYCE KBBQ, do late-night Denny outings, and stuff my belly with heavy foods without a care in the world. Now? Not so much.

So, a change in my eating plan. Now it’s flavor over quantity. The mystic unicorn-spotting is to hunt down dishes with taste that puts me over the moon, yet without the meat sweat consequences.

The pizza from Pizzeria Delfina definitely fits the bill. The crust is crispy and blistered from their oven, yet pillowy and well seasoned on the inside, making it a joy to eat the whole crust even if you’re not normally a crust eater.

Instead of plastering the base with the red sauce and cheeses, this proscuitto pizza instead employs just panna (cream), proscuitto and dressed arugula. The cream gives the crust slight caramelization and holds on to the thin sheets of proscuitto di Parma, which are luxuriously melting from the heat of the pizza. The greens provide a peppery bite with balance out the dish. And a DIY sprinkling of red pepper flakes and oregano takes it to the next level.

Best part? No hangovers. Happy eating!

Pizzeria Delfina
3611 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: (415) 437-6800

More pizza goodness:
Gjelina : Carb Heaven
Baco Mercat : Taco/Sandwich Hybrid Win!


Secret Squirrel Cold Brew : When Design Meets Food

By Tsz on April 9, 2013

Gastrophoria is being able to design for food. Even better when it’s for a product I enjoy, such as Secret Squirrel Cold Brew.

Most people work to live and some live to work. For me, I’d rather live to eat and design. As a young(ish) graphic designer, I’m not at the stage where I can pick and choose projects so whenever an intriguing opportunity comes along—especially when it’s food related—I have to grab it!

Secret Squirrel is one of those projects. Delicious cold brewed coffee concentrate… what’s not to like? Secret Squirrel Beta had a hand drawn label—lovingly DIY, however, not very conducive to keeping up with production demands. So using the remedy bottle as a launching point, I created a look that was inspired by alchemy and snake oil elixirs of yesteryear, refined it and made it mass-production friendly. What do you think?

During the design process, I’ve experimented a lot with different ways of using the cold brew (in the name of research!)—mixing it with different ratios of water, milk, half-and-half, etc. You name it, and I’ve probably tried it.

My absolute favorite way is mixing up a quick affogato. All you need is a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream, add a shot the cold brew concentrate and stick a cute straw in it. Makes for a no fuss dessert, or breakfast (When in Rome…).

Since then, the label has gone through another design adaptation but the spirit of the art direction remains. Happy eating!