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
Sea salt
1 Tbsp. dark rum

1 cup pecan nut flour
½ cup spelt flour (white or whole)
1 Tbsp. firmly packed light
brown sugar
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.


Delightful and unexpected vegan finds: 15 Romolo!  »

15 Romolo is near my school, right off Broadway, so it’s very popular with my school homies. I had been there a few times before but recently I’ve been going A LOT because it’s just been delightful! Sorry about the picture below, they have mood lighting so that was the best I could do; that’s the spicy carrot and fennel dip with pita and dude, it’s the hotness! I came upon this appetizer because I was there with some folks and I asked the waiter if the spiced cauliflower was vegan—yes it was! In addition, so was my handsome young waiter! I LOVE when I find a vegan waiter because while I prefer a vegan restaurant (of course), I’m also pretty happy when people for sure know what’s vegan and what’s not. A relaxing confidence runs through me and the food tastes that much better!

So this carrot fennel dip, I was like, “whaa? sounds weird!” but IT’S NOT. I swear to goodness that it kind of tastes like when you dip a grilled cheese in tomato soup. I swear! And it has that good pita—all grilled and whatnot. The handsome young waiter also assured me that the fries are cooked in their own private oil—they don’t share it with any meat or whatevs. And the fries are goood. The menu changes regularly, and there’s not much in the way of a vegan entree, but it’s more of a cocktail and appetizer place. Oh! The waiter said they may be adding a vegan dessert very soon! Keep an eye out! And speaking of cocktails, they have some crazy shit. Crazy GOOD shit. They are pricey but they are delicious. They put like basil in them and all kinds of good shit. Mmmm. See, I prefer to drink my meals anyway, so it works out great for me!

OK so remember this: if you are hanging with some hip but fancyish people and they are trying to make you go to some wack place after work, steer them to 15 Romolo instead! You won’t be disappointed. Also, don’t miss the jukebox! As a jukebox enthusiast I can assure you this one is top-notch. Iggy Pop + Hall and Oates = happy Megan Rascal!

[photo by Megan Rascal]


Gracias Madre opening party TONIGHT! FREE DRINKS!  »

Really, all you should care about there is: TONIGHT and FREE DRINKS. It’s from 5 to 7 p.m. Also, FULL DISCLOSURE, we have no confirmation on this and I’m not calling anyone. It’s near the end of the month and minutes are a valuable commodity that I’m sure as hell not wasting on your asses. Now, anyone in an office care to call and confirm? THANK YOU AHEAD OF TIME!

Here’s our initial observations about Gracias Madre. I’ll also add that you should skip pretty much everything except the cheesy cauliflower thing (it’s AMAZING) and OK, here’s the plan. Get to GM at like 5 p.m. Have a cheesy cauliflower dish and several free drinks. Wander down the street to El Farolito (or ANYWHERE BUT GRACIAS MADRE) and get a big-ass burrito for $5. Head on over to my place and LET’S PARTY (read: I’ll never tell you where I live EVER!!).


Foods you would think are always vegan because that’s what MAKES SENSE. But alas, sense has no place here! GO AMERICA! WOO!  »

I am compiling a list of things that you would think are always vegan but are quite often not. I’m doing this because a couple times in the past weeks, I’ve been somewhere and asked if the following things are vegan and the answer has been No, and also, “You’re the only vegan to ever ask that!” so I thought I should share with you less sophisticated/worse-than-me vegans. Let the gigantic superiority complex begin!

1) Home fries at diners. They are often cooked with or finished with butter. Even places that are extremeley vegan-friendly will have non-vegan home fries! This is SO ANNOYING to me. It’s like, just leave the butter you throw on at the very end off for my order or use delicious Organic Earth Balance and save everyone from fatty cholesterol death without sacrificing taste! GAH PEOPLE! Also, is home fries one word or two? Anyway, make sure to always ask! Also, I apologize for the Home Fries poster because A) what’s up with that hair, that dress and that FONT? B) DREW BARRYMORE UGH and C) TERRIBLE MOVIE. I mean, so bad. And this is coming from a woman who lists Billy Madison and Cabin Boy in her top-five all-time favorites. OKAY? Also, that should mean nothing as those are both excellent films.

2) Hot dog and hamburger buns. Even if the veggie dog or veggie burger itself is touted as vegan, the bun often is not. It can have whey, eggs, or any number of crappy animal products in it. Usually a place can subsitute bread for the bun, although with a veggie dog that is depressing and makes it look even more gross and phallic, just a weiner hanging out of two pieces of bread!

3) Beer, Wine, and Liquor. Vegans are usually pretty good at this and some don’t discriminate when it comes to SWEET ALCOHOL, but with sites like Barnivore, it’s fairly easy to make sure your LIFE-SUSTAINING FLUID is vegan. I fully apologize for that last sentence.

Now that I’ve pointed out all those things, you probably know of a million more. Feel free to post in the comments and get into flame wars and shit. Anything to liven it up around this joint!

Sorry, I’m like the Grim Reaper of Veganism over here. I’ve accidentally eaten non-vegan homefries (sp??!!) and non-vegan buns in my vegan days and guess what, I’m still vegan, bitches! You live, you learn. Plus, there are so many more things you can eat as a vegan than you can’t eat! Erik Marcus actually did a great guest post on Fatfree Vegan about it here. Maybe the comments should be more about all the great things we can eat and worlds of food that opened up to us as vegans—I mean, I never knew I could make a delicious meat analog out of wheat gluten…NUTS! And what about all the coconut milk desserts I never woulda known? And CHIA SEED GRAVY, the thought of you not in my life? I can’t hang.

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