Pine Box Rock Shop got a write-up in NYT! Get down with your cruelty-free self.
And what it says in the profile is true, it doesn’t only appeal to vegans. A friend of mine from work was telling me about his weekend and he totally ended up there. He had no idea it was a vegan bar until I told him. But they aren’t hiding that it’s vegan. As you should know, they have the NYC Vegan Shop-Ups there! It’s just a cool place everybody wants to be.
I have been waiting FOREVER for this. My adorable vegetarian brother (25 and single, ladies) has worked at Bar Agricole for about six months, and since he started he’s encouraged me to come over and have a meal. Four years older in body and four decades older in spirit, I always crankily declined, until last weekend, when I found myself unable to resist the siren song of clear skies, 70 degrees, and Sunday brunch.
Colin made a reservation for us (three omnivores and me), and noted that one of the party was vegan. When we arrived, he made me an espresso—they didn’t have any nondairy milk, which was surprising!—and later sent us out mimosas. I had already ordered a daquiri, so by the time this gorgeous plate arrived I was wide awake and tipsy.
Our server consulted with the chef about what to feed me, as nothing on Bar Agricole’s lovely menu was vegan (except most of the drinks, hooray). This is what he made: Giant beans, silky spinach, perfectly braised (I think) radishes, warm avocado, delicate leeks. You guys, I detest leeks, and I thoroughly enjoyed this meal. Every bite! It was salty and hearty and perfectly cooked, holy moly. I’ve never eaten a better radish.
Bar Agricole, you guys! Nothing’s explicitly vegan, but they will totally accommodate you, given warning—like any good restaurant—plus their drinks are scrumptious, and the coffee is local and excellent. I highly recommend it.
Road trip: Pho 14 and more in D.C.! »
In 2010, PETA named Washington, D.C. the country’s most veg-friendly large city. This is clearly bullshit. Other than Sticky Fingers Bakery, D.C. has no “holy shit you HAVE to go there” kinds of vegan places like SF, NYC, Denver, etc. Nevertheless, there’s some good eating in that city, and over the holidays I did my duty as an American and spent a lot of money eating out so my I wouldn’t have to blame all my weight gain on the vegan Christmas cookies my [awesome] mom made.
I hit up Pho 14 in Columbia Heights with some omnivore buddies one night. Pho is all about accessories, like [insert style pop culture figure whom I’m too big a nerd to keep track of]. The vegetarian broth is kinda sweet but then BAM! add some lime juice and it’s a whole new thing.
Notice the bowling-ball lacquer on the table.
My man DK and I shared some spring rolls (so tightly wrapped!) as an appetizer, then ordered a large tofu pho, which felt like stealing because they split it for us in the kitchen, and the two bowls were huge and dinner was so cheap! This would be a great place to bring a date because you’d look classier than you really were!
Another night, DK and I wanted something romantic near the Mall (the one with the monuments, not the one with Bath & Body Works). Mandu on K Street seemed a good choice given how obsessed we were with Sura in Oakland.
The waitstaff totally got the whole vegan thing, and only brought us munchies that had no shrimp or fish sauce. Our entrees were fresh and filling but a little bland—I wanted to run into the kitchen and whip up a sauce for my bi bim bop, but instead I just ate it all including every tiny little grain of rice.
D.C.’s also know for its Ethiopian food, which I love. We hit up Dukem this time, which had a nasty bathroom, a suspicious taste of butter, and was pricey, pretty much not worth it. Try Etete or Meskerem if you’re there, those are better. But really just go to Cafe Colucci in Oakland, it’s the absolute bestest, I’m considering having children so I can send them there to be indentured servants and learn to cook for me that way.
The actual highlight for me was all about booze, duh: The Gibson, a $12-fancy-cocktail joint near all the Ethiopian places on U Street. Make a reservation and bring a smartphone, because you’re going to need to Wikipedia the shit out of their changing, incredible menu (Akvavit what?). Everything we tried was spectacular—better than SF’s Bourbon & Branch or Williams & Graham in Denver—but watch out for the egg whites they sometimes want to put in things. Gross. Definitely a great date place, especially if someone else is buying! I’m gonna start dating again just so people will buy me drinks; it’s good for my husband, too, though, I swear.
Cookbook Review: The Tipsy Vegan! »
I got a gratis copy of John Schlimm’s The Tipsy Vegan to review for you guys! Rachel has been on a cookbook review roll, as I’m sure you’ve read, but when I saw “tipsy,” I knew this book was for yours truly. However, this is not a book of vegan cocktails like I thought! It’s all about cooking with wine and liquor. But there are a handful of cocktail recipes as well, they kick off each chapter.
To sum up the book in three words: Fun, challenging, sassy! That’s right, sassy. The tone of the book is very jovial and lighthearted, which I appreciate. And you are encouraged to enjoy your booze! As god intended. One thing I will say is that I’m not sure it’s really a book for beginners. It’s for more of a mid-level to experienced cook. There are lots of ingredients, lots of different techniques involved, and lots of recipes requiring things like ice cream makers and food processors (which I do not have because I’ve slimmed down my kitchen accessories. Oh, life in the big city!). A bowl and spoon are not going to get you very far here. On the other end of the spectrum, this is just the thing for the uninspired cook! It’ll give your cooking a kick in the pants! The recipes and ingredients are inventive and interesting. And the book is entertaining. I’m a fan!
I tried two of the recipes: Bruschetta on a Bender and Rockin’ Roasted Potatoes With Racy Rosemary and Mustard. The potatoes, the recipe for which you can get over on NYT, had vodka in them, which I had because my first housewarming gift was a half-empty bottle of Ketel One (#classy). Both recipes called for vermouth, but the potatoes said you could use a dry white wine instead and the bruschetta said a fruity red would work too. As I don’t know what I’d do with a bottle of vermouth and you better believe I know what to do with two bottles of wine, I opted for the wine. But the book said I could!
I don’t know what you call the sauce I made for the potatoes but it was damn good! Like, I was about to lick the bowl, horseradish and all. I had a little sauce left over and I put it in a cup to save in the fridge. I’m thinking Brussels sprouts!
The bruschetta was interesting because it called for thyme instead of your typical basil. My bro and sis-in-law were ‘bout it for the bruschetta! They both had like seven pieces. I liked it too but I did miss the basil. But there’s really no need to buy a cookbook with a basil bruschetta recipe, is there? And red wine on the tomatoes? Genius! Why don’t we do that all the time? We can from now on. Pish, I don’t even remember what life was like before red wine-soaked tomatoes!
Sweet Instagram pic of the bruschetta. Oh, Instagram, how I love you. Follow me: @MeganRascal!!!
Check it, I scored the Bruschetta on a Bender recipe for you! With permission from Da Capo Press, naturally:
Bruschetta on a Bender
Ingredients4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and very coarsely chopped
2 tsp. kosher salt
12 slices crusty French or Italian bread, about 3 inches in diameter
1 garlic clove, peeled and split
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. dry vermouth or a fruity red wine
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tsp. dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
Toss the tomatoes with the salt and drain for 30 minutes in a large colander set over a bowl.
Under a hot broiler, toast the bread slices on both sides.
Rub the toasted top of each slice with the split garlic clove and lightly brush the top of each slice with the olive oil
Gently press down on the drained tomatoes to extract even more juices. Then transfer them to another bowl and toss with the balsamic vinegar, dry vermouth, thyme, and oregano.
Season with the pepper to taste. Spoon the tomato mixture in small mounds on top of the toasts and serve at once.
Yield: 12 bruschettas
Yay! Now you can make the bruschetta just like your pal Megan.
There are a lot of other great-sounding recipes I still want to try, namely the Merlot ice. Basically a Merlot slushy, it requires a food processor. I’m about to get one just to make it. Can you imagine? A Merlot slushy? Be still my heart!
Before I sign off, I’ll add another point: this book doesn’t really feel like a vegan cookbook, it feels like a “regular” cookbook. It’s not really about being vegan and you aren’t making approximations of omni recipes you’ve been missing; you’re making fun and exciting recipes that are also vegan. I think omnis would certainly enjoy this book too and if not for the title, I doubt they’d notice the absence of animals products. It’s definitely a good cookbook if you’re entertaining a mixed-diet crowd! So I say check it out and get a little crazy. A little crunked, even. Go for it.
Megan Rascal & Erin Red take on Pine Box Rock Shop! »
Do you know what happens when two kickass vegan broads meet up at a vegan bar in Brooklyn?
WAFFLES HAPPEN, THAT’S WHAT!
And awesome conversation over vegan Bloody Marys too! Your favorite East Coast badasses, Megan Rascal and Erin Red, stopped into Pine Box Rock Shop recently after hearing about their weekly Waffle Brunch (every Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.). First on the agenda were some beverages to whet our appetites—Megan enjoyed some pretty all right mimosas while Erin Red sampled PBRS’ much-hyped Bloody Marys. Good thing our voracious vegan appetites were on duty because these drinks were NOT small! The Bloody Marys were practically meals in themselves, with pickled veggies and celery and rich, layered flavors resulting in quite a kick in the pants. The mimosas were decent. The waffles were fluffy and scrumptious, and in true form we managed to sample three amazing toppings: peach compote, whiskey chocolate walnut (if I’m remembering correctly), and traditional maple syrup with Earth Balance. Holy YUM; they practically had to roll us out of there!
The venue was open and airy, and the crowd was surprisingly big and diverse for a Sunday afternoon. We enjoyed the live music and the scenery, and DEFINITELY took note of the extensive and creative cocktail menu! Pine Box Rock Shop looks like a perfect venue for vegans to bring their omni pals—fill them with waffles and convince them to go vegan over a few vegan White Russians. PERF!
Vegan summer Shop-Up NYC! »
After their wildly successful Spring Shop-Up in April, the awesome folks over at Vegan Shop Up are kicking off the summer season with yet another goodie-laden event!
That’s right, you ravenous vegans! The big event is happening this Sunday, June 19—Father’s Day!—at our mega-favorite vegan watering hole, Pine Box Rock Shop, from 1 to 5 p.m. Featuring everything from hummus to skin care, raw ice cream to kombucha, tempeh to truffles, there will definitely be a little something for everyone. Vendors include Green Pirate fruit and veggie juices, Sprout skin care, Gone Pie baked goods and Pretty Monsters soy candles and balms. Empty Cages Collective will be there reppin’ our animal friends, too! So come on out, enjoy a delicious vegan bloody mary and waffle brunch with Dad, and spend some cold hard cash in support of vegan businesses! OR ELSE!
Vegan white Russians! »
Say whaaaaat?! Clean Green Simple posted this vegan white Russian recipe last week and I think I’m in love. They were inspired by The Big Lebowski, which is only the best movie everrr. Obviously the cream is not that hard to replace but I guess Clean Green Simple has an aversion to corn syrup so they made their own coffee liquor! That’s totally thug. This is a great alternative for vegans who are better about bone-char-free sugar than I am, because who knows what they use for real Kahlua. Well, someone probably knows but it’s not me.
St. Paddy’s Day is lame. Drink up! »
This is all I’m posting about St. Patrick’s Day because I think it’s a lame holiday. This stems from my hatred for drunk college kids in themed outfits. But I do love beer so let’s look at some vegan beers. Yee-freaking-ha!
I’ve consulted vegan booze expert Barnivore and found some solid choices for your drunken pleasure. Turns out SF’s own Speakeasy Ales and Lagers is vegan-friendly.* My favorite as of late, Allagash, is listed as vegan-friendly too! I always get the Allagash white because it comes with a lemon or orange slice and I love a good lemon or orange slice. Another beer I like, Ommegang, is vegan-friendly also. I don’t actually like this beer that much but IT SAYS MY NAME IN IT! So I often order it.
If you want to get fancy, Chimay is vegan! I like to bring Chimay as a housewarming present for beer-enthusiasts, but why not treat yourself! It is a holiday after all. On the other side of the fence, you kids will be glad to hear that Pabst is listed as vegan-friendly too. You kids with your Pabst!
Turns out Japanese favorite Sapporo is vegan. My personal favorite Japanese beer, Asaji, is vegan-friendly as well. If you want to stay stateside, Sixpoint, which I like very much, is apparently from Brooklyn and is listed as vegan-friendly. Everyone and their mom will be glad to hear Yuengling is vegan-friendly. I thought only Philadelphians liked Yuengling but all kinds of people order it at my local bar in Brooklyn. I’m like, “you know Yuengling isn’t that great, right?” And they’re like, “But it’s so cheap!” Sorry friends, $4 is not cheap. Back in MY day, you could get a Yuengling for $2.50! Goddamn booze inflation.
Now maybe you’re like, um, where are the Irish beers? Well, that is an issue. I guess there are some Irish beers that are vegan-friendly, like Bulmers’ (only the pear cider) and Carlow Brewery, but many Irish and British beers aren’t vegan because they are filtered with isinglass, old-school style. I just steer clear of any British or Irish beers that are called “ales” and any brands that spell old as “olde.” But that’s my own personal system, I don’t know how accurate it is. But whatever, screw British and Irish beers! If you go foreign, go German—that’s what I always say! (applies to beer and lovers!**) By law, German beers are vegan. They regulate those mofos.
If you really want to go Irish, stick to whisky. A lot of them seem to be vegan. Plus, then you’ll be more hardcore! A real St. Paddy’s Day tough guy! Alright, that’s all the advice I’ve got for you today. Now go out there and make me proud!
Update!: I guess it’s St. Paddy’s day not St. Patty’s. Guess who doesn’t care?
*Barnivore uses the term “vegan-friendly” instead of just vegan. Because it’s user submission-based, they rely upon users for the information and they don’t go checking each beer themselves. As they say, “we publish as much information as we can about each company, and if we get a reply that’s clearly not good enough, we’ll follow up ourselves before we add it, but the reality is that keeping up with user submissions can seriously cut into our drinking time.”
**Just kidding! Germans are a cold, cold people.
Chef Tal Ronnen’s Thanksgiving menu: Oven-roasted banana rum cheesecake with spiced pecan crust and maple rum sauce! »
We’ve just about done it, friends: we’ve finished the dinner menu by chef Tal Ronnen + Gardein. Thanksgiving is done! Now it’s time for dessert, a little sweet something in our tums after so much tasty savory. But no pumpkin? No pumpkin! This is a vegan menu; it’s not for shrinking-violet traditionalists. BE BOLD! Make a vegan cheesecake, with bananas and rum and pecans and maple syrup! Judge the quality based on chef Ronnen’s recommendation of grade-B maple syrup, the tastier and healthier grade of syrup. Of course one can rarely go wrong cooking with booze—perhaps have a nice proper daquiri before baking? Considering you’ll be making five other courses, you’ll need a nice tidy drink to get through it all. Happy Thanksgiving!
Oven-roasted banana rum cheesecake with spiced pecan crust and maple rum sauce
6 to 8 servings
2 hrs prep (plus 3 hrs chilling)
45 min cook
4 very ripe bananas
1 cup grade-B organic maple syrup
4 Tbsp. Earth Balance
1 Tbsp. dark rum
1 cup pecan nut flour
½ cup spelt flour (white or whole)
1 Tbsp. firmly packed light
4 Tbsp. Earth Balance, partially melted
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of sea salt
16 ounces nondairy cream cheese
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup dark rum
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
Toasted pecan halves
Step 1, Roast bananas: Preheat the oven to 325 F. Place 4 large, very ripe, unpeeled bananas on a roasting pan and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until bananas are soft and skin turns dark brown. let bananas cool to room temperature in the pan in their skins. Set aside. Increase oven temp to 400 F.
Step 2, Spiced pecan crust: Combine 1 cup pecan nut flour,* ½ cup spelt flour, 1 Tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar, 4 Tbsp. partially melted nondairy butter, ⅛ tsp. ground cardamom, ½ tsp. ground ginger, and a pinch of sea salt in a bowl, and stir until well incorporated. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and put in freezer for 5 minutes. Bake at 400 for 8 to 10 minutes, until crust is a little dry and edges are light golden. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
*To make pecan nut flour, freeze the nuts overnight, then place in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Freezing the nuts prevents them from turning into nut butter when you process them.
Step 3, Cheesecake filling: Peel the roasted bananas and remove any obvious strings. Purée bananas in a food processor until very smooth. Add 16 oz. nondairy cream cheese, ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar, ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon, ¼ cup dark rum, 2 Tbsp. cornstarch, and ¼ tsp. salt, then pulse until smooth, scraping sides of bowl periodically. Do not overprocess or cream cheese will separate and curdle.
Step 4, Bake cheesecake: Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 400 F for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 F and bake another 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is the color of light brown sugar and center is set. A toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. Let cheesecake cool to room temperature on a rack for at least 1 hour, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Step 5, Maple rum sauce: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup maple syrup, 4 Tbsp. nondairy butter, and sea salt to taste and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp. dark rum, stirring carefully, as sauce will bubble up a bit. Let cool for a few minutes then taste and add more salt if necessary. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a squeeze bottle. if not using immediately, the sauce can be warmed by putting the bottle in a pan of hot water off the heat.
Serve: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup maple syrup, 4 Tbsp. nondairy butter, and sea salt to taste and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.