Review: Farmacy Vegan Kitchen and Bakery

Farmacy Review

We’re approaching the last ten days of Ramadan, so it’s not the ideal time to talk about food but #veganramadan is real.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the growing number of Muslims who are happily hashtagging and Instagramming plant-based platters for their pre-fasting and post-fasting meals.  Some are only going veg for the month, but we still applaud the effort.  Of course, the highlight of the month is spiritual sustenance, but knowing where to get wholesome and healthy vegan meals certainly helps.

Farmacy Review

Last month, a much-needed vegan spot has surfaced in Tampa.  Located inside of Duckweed Urban Grocery downtown, Farmacy Vegan Kitchen and Bakery has tucked in and turned heads.  Three passionate entrepreneurs have combined culinary talent, business acumen, and vegan baking alchemy to create a refreshing addition to the dining scene.  A streamlined menu of smoothies, fresh juices, overnight oats, acai bowls, salads, soups, wraps, and hot entrees sit in wait for health-conscious customers, while appetizing baked goods entice any and everyone.

Farmacy Review

We tried a Spinach and Cashew Cream Cheese wrap, Orange Blossom muffin, and Cashew Mac and Cheese.

Farmacy Review

Their low-soy menu is noticeable and timely.  I’ve been weaning off of the superbean myself and didn’t have to risk temptation by tantalizing mock meats.  Most other vegan options in the city are heavily soy-based Pan-Asian cuisines, with the exception of Middle Eastern, Ethiopian, Italian, and Indian, so Farmacy’s lively and light menu is really refreshing and welcomed.

Farmacy Review

The strong sustainability focus of Farmacy really appealed to me. I swooned at the sight of compostable and biodegradable takeaway materials and the sparing use of recyclable plastics.  Duckweed Urban Grocery also has some energy-saving and recycling practices in place, so it seems that that two are a match made in Tampa.

Farmacy Review




Review: Padam Coffee Shop in Ankara

Padam Coffee Shop1

Vegans in Ankara need a hangout spot. Not a pub or a living room but an inviting, neutral space where you can meet friends for tea, have stimulating conversations, and take a break from the city hustle. I recently found such an oasis at the newly opened Padam Coffee Shop near Kuğulu Park, right next to Dost Bookstore.  Entering downtown Ankara has been completely eliminated from my weekly routine, but now I have a reason to return. The nexus of nature, books, and vegan treats is enough to lure me to a side of Atatürk Boulevard I’ve never seen– away from the congested transportation hubs of Kızılay and Güvenpark. I’m glad to finally have a place to bring friends and congregate after playdates.

Padam Coffee Shop2

Padam’s owner, Hande, is a sweet soul with a love for java. Having trained under Sam Çeviköz, owner and founder of Istanbul’s Federal Coffee Company and founder of Ministry of Coffee-Istanbul, Hande has rallied her family around the business she’s always dreamed of. From her homemade desserts, her mother’s homemade jams and her brother and sister-in-law’s helping hands behind the counter, I feel like an extended member of the family when I visit. Fresh orchids greet me as I climb the winding staircase to a cozy upper lounge with cushioned seats, curated art, and a wooden antique record player and radio that has been in her family for almost 100 years. I can feel Hande’s heartbeat—padam, padam—pulsing around me.

For non-coffee lovers, like myself, there are herbal fruit and flower teas to choose from. Paired with a tasty selection of savory, stuffed börek pastries and vegan cakes made by Ev Yapımı Vegan Lezzetler, I can enjoy a satisfying afternoon snack that is both sweet and savory, then tackle the rest of my day’s tasks. Stocked with almond milk, I look forward to chilled smoothies in the summer and hot cocoa in the winter, because I’m confident that Padam will be around to brave all of Ankara’s seasons.

Padam Coffee Shop4

With special thanks to Padam Coffee Shop for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own.

Review: Dandelion Communitea Cafe in Orlando

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One of our last errands on our Florida to-do list was an important trip to Orlando.  We had no interest in Disney or Universal Studios.  We had to pay a visit to the Islamic Society of Central Florida to draft our will and last testament.  As morbid as that may sound, having a will in place to allocate your possessions and sort out custody matters is a religious duty in Islam.  Most people wait until near or post-retirement to start thinking about a will but we wanted all of our after-life expectations to be crystal clear and legally binding.  So, for a cheery way to start our very serious day in Orlando, we met a friend for lunch at a very vibrant eatery at 618 N. Thornton Avenue.

Before entering Dandelion, we were drawn to the beautiful aqua hues of the property, Tibetan prayer flags, and community gardens.  The property is shared with several wellness-related businesses to the rear of the property.  The café itself is like a house-turned-restaurant with dining areas contained in separate rooms.  After a brief orientation, we found a table in the furthest room from the entrance and then returned to the front counter to place our order.  Their organic and plant-based menu was full of so many tantalizing options, it was hard to make a selection.  Lil’ Z settled on the slightly spicy vegan black bean and cheese quesadilla served with blue corn chips and hemp hummus.  I went for the chili tempeh wrap with spring mix greens and fresh seasonal fruit.  My mother-in-law had a fruity Polynesian salad with walnuts on a bed of greens.  Urbndervish and our Floridian friend both ordered buffalo tempeh wraps with quinoa, spring mix, blue corn chips with salsa and pea guacamole respectively.  I think their selection was the best of them all.  The portions and prices were appropriate lunch fare, costing about $7 – $9 per platter.  Purified drinking water was served generously in mason jars.

Before our departure, there were three last temptations that we didn’t have the time to indulge before our appointment.  The first and most appetizing was a selection of vegan frosted cupcakes and brownies, followed by an entire wall of homegrown organic tea selections.  Lastly, there was the cutest little free library box on our way out.  We left satisfied and enlivened by the tasty meal and uplifting atmosphere.  The place was jumping for lunch and we could easily see why.  Though we left abruptly, we conveniently had to pass Dandelion upon exiting Orlando, so we popped in for a brownie, a chocolate coconut banana cupcake, and a vanilla strawberry cupcake to take home for dessert.  All of the baked goods were fresh, moist, and moderately sweet, just the way we like it.  If we ever need to return to Disney town, we now know to start and end our stay with a pit stop at Dandelion.