vegansaurus!

05/08/2012

Rumor alert: Ellen may not be opening a vegan restaurant after all!  »

Word on the street (and by street I mean the internet highway) is that Ellen and Portia’s SoCal vegan restaurant may not be happening after all! Oh no! I was looking forward to this collaboration of superstars—Ellen, Portia, Chrissy Hynde, Steven Bing, Tal Ronnen and Waldo Fernandez. I was also looking forward to hooking up with a Sugar Daddy, because I knew there was no way in hell I’d be able to afford eating at that joint, being a restaurant worker myself.

As excited as I may have been about a new vegan hotspot opening up, I did have my reservations. Everyone wants to open a restaurant. Everyone thinks they’ll be great at it, but the truth is, most new restaurants don’t make it in their first year.  It’s hard work. Nevermind that the people who can handle working in the restaurant industry are bat shit crazy. The turnover rate is astronomical. If you haven’t read Laura’s “Top 10 Reasons You Can’t Be a Professional Chef" for SF Weekly, get on that! She got some flack in the comments section that it was unrealistic, but those people are dead wrong.
My point is that working in this industry is my career, and I love it, but it has been both the best and worst experience of my life. It’s tough, mentally and physically. So if Ellen and Portia want to keep their sanity, maybe they should run the other way. Plus, I’d hate for them to be the jerk owners who show off their shiny new cars, while their staff juggles two jobs—because let me tell you, this industry does not pay well (that is a paraphrased sentiment from Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, but also true of my own experience. You can love or hate that guy, but Kitchen Confidential is THE first-hand account of working in the industry, and I for one, really enjoyed its harsh honesty).

{Photo via Ecorazzi.com}


10/18/2011

Anthony Bourdain has even more to say about vegans!  »


Anthony Bourdain, America’s favorite (?) Privileged Old White Man, is at it again! He recently gave an interview in Playboy* and he talked about how he hates everything and everyone. FUCK THE MAN, MUG FOR THE CAMERA, EAT A BABY GIRAFFE, and SCENE. Of course, he especially hates vegans, because they make his life very difficult by existing. He says about veganism, ”I don’t have any understanding of it. Being a vegan is a first-world phenomenon, completely self-indulgent.”

Let’s deconstruct that:

I don’t have any understanding of it.
Then why are you commenting on it? Seriously, if after all of your resources, you still can’t understand a fairly simple concept, shut your pie-hole. 

Being a vegan is a first-world phenomenon, completely self-indulgent.
Like reality TVhideous leather jackets, and running water, veganism is a first-world phenomenon. What’s your point? And completely self-indulgent? LOL! Of all the people to call anyone anything, Bourdain calling vegans self-indulgent is THE BEST. This guy makes a living traveling around the world and eating everything. But yes, me over here, buying my toiletries at Walgreens, I’m the self-indulgent one. I’m incredibly lucky to have the ethical opportunity to choose veganism, but it’s still about 10,000 times less of a self-indulgent choice than anything that man does. Being vegan IS a choice that not everyone can afford to make, but MANY of us can. So we do. That’s it!


My favorite thing about Bourdain is that he still presents himself as if he’s some wild man outsider, when he couldn’t be further up the establishments asshole. YOU ARE A PRIVILEGED OLD WHITE MAN. YOU ARE THE 1 PERCENT, BOURDAIN! 

About vegetarians, he says:

They make for bad travelers and bad guests. The notion that before you even set out to go to Thailand, you say, ‘I’m not interested,’ or you’re unwilling to try things that people take so personally and are so proud of and so generous with, I don’t understand that, and I think it’s rude. You’re at Grandma’s house, you eat what Grandma serves you.

Sorry, vegetarians! It’s all true! Bourdain’s got your number! JK, I’ve got your back.

I don’t know where he got Thailand from but Thai food is very veg-friendly. In fact, VegNews just took a food-lovers tour of the country! I was just invited to a food expo taking place in Bangkok, to write about all the amazing veg selections!

And as far as being at Grandma’s house, whose grandma are we talking about? Most grandmas I know are down for healthy food, and are in better shape than I’m in. Seriously, this antiquated idea of some geriatric in a dressing gown who breaks down in hysterics because their grandchild won’t eat their steaming bowl of innards is (mostly) ridiculous. Anyone who’s been vegan for some time and are in situations like that, learn to handle themselves with some grace. We sneak in Clif Bars, pretend to eat the family’s traditional innards stew, and are always thankful and gracious.

Understanding that the relationship between food and family can be one of the most difficult to navigate. It’s also true that lots of families are straight-up crazy, so there will be issues regardless—with food, or your brother bringing his boyfriend to dinner. You know? Shit will always be complicated, and to say that passing on the innards stew makes you rude is an ignorant oversimplification. YOU’RE IGNORANT, FOOL!

Also, this isn’t related to veganism but PUKE:

Learn how to cook a fucking omelet. I mean, what nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast? You look good doing it, and it’s a nice thing to do for somebody you just had sex with.

Ugh, just everything about that made my stomach turn! I mean, ugh just imagine that creepy old privileged white sack of shit saying that. It’s like, shivers down my spine! Honestly, if I ever have kids and I want to scare them into acting straight, I’ll use the image of Anthony Bourdain cooking an omelet wearing nothing but a loin cloth made of cow bones [Ed.: or this!]. I will probably be arrested for child abuse, and I should be, because that shit isn’t right. 

*The only way it could be grosser is if it were in Maxim. 

[photos via the Travel Channel]

02/28/2011

Guest post: Vegan in Vancouver!  »

I live on a tiny island with a bunch of happy-meat-eating hippies with no love for vegans, so when I make a trip over to Vancouver for such insignificant, fake reasons such as “meeting with my thesis advisor” or “researching an article,” I eat and drink like a madwoman and, for efficiency, operate on the understanding that there are at least six meals a day.[Ed.: the ONLY way to travel!] I went to grad school in Vancouver for two years and though I haven’t finished my real thesis, I have made progress on my dissertation covering all the vegan food Vancouver has to offer. Here are my peer-reviewed findings.

I hope you brought your passports, because Canadian border guards have something to prove. Once you’re done with the hellish process of waiting for an hour in line and lying about the pounds of pot you intend on bringing home from British Columbia, Vancouver will welcome your vegan selves with open arms.

Let’s start downtown, shall we? People will have warned you that Vancouver’s downtown eastside is the slummiest slum ever, and it might be true, but stop being a snob—you are hungry and no one is going to kill you. Probably my favorite restaurant in the city and fully vegan, Radha Yoga & Eatery offers a rotating seasonal menu—cajun tempeh pictured—and is all sorts of green with its locally sourced produce and green technologies. Shout out to the amazing SOLEFood urban downtown eastside garden project who supply Radha. Don’t worry, you don’t have to use a neti pot or meditate before you’re fed, and there are no horrifying rules against garlic/onions/booze. I’m looking at you, Supreme Master. The desserts at Radha—even the raw ones—are just totally amazing. Vegan baklava made with Canadian maple syrup and local B.C. hazelnuts can be yours! Radha earns extra points for hosting and helping promote Vancouver Vegan Bakesales, such as the one on Mar. 9 benefitting the BC SPCA in the wake of those horrible sled dog murders you might remember sobbing about when the news broke a couple of weeks ago.

Two vegan-friendly restaurants in the microbrewery-filled Gastown neighbourhood are Wild Rice and Nuba. A “modern Chinese cuisine” restaurant where you can get cocktails made with ingredients such as lychee-infused vodka and rosemary-infused local gin, Wild Rice’s kitchen is dairy-free, which means that all of the vegetarian options, of which there are many, are vegan! VEGAN DIM SUM! The hot and sour soup is the best, and they offer stuff like tofu bacon, curry buns, and bean curd rolls filled with the freshest Chinatown mushrooms.

The Lebanese restaurant Nuba offers the best cauliflower you will ever taste and it will make you look at cauliflower as though it was like, I don’t know, something far more exciting than cauliflower. Called Najib’s Special, it is deep-fried cauliflower with perfect mystery spices tossed in lemon juice and served with the best hot sauce of all time. You can get it alone or in a pita, but don’t stop there! Get the falafel (pictured!) too. And dessert. They always have vegan sorbets, and usually a feature vegan dessert.

Now I’m going to tell you about a taqueria. You guys are probably sitting in your apartments in the Mission eating your Papalote burritos and saying, “Oh no she didn’t! This Canadian girl is NOT telling me about good Mexican food in CANADA,” but shut up—we have immigrants too and their health care gives them the happy incentive to open up delicious Mexican restaurants. La Taqueria is probably the most authentic one with vegan options, and even though there are only two vegan taco options—Tinga de Hongos, sautéed fresh mushrooms in spicy chipotle sauce, and De Picadillo, sautéed tofu in the best spicy sauce—they are impressive and worth the trip!

Vancouver has some pretty nutty rules about street food, but last year saw quite a few openings. Where it all began though, is at Japadog. A happy marriage between Japanese inspired condiments and hot dogs, at Japadog, you can get a veggie dog with toppings such as pickled daikon, shredded nori, teriyaki sauce, etc. Specify no mayo! Whatever, Sushirito, you totally stole Japadog’s shtick! Oh, and famous people really like it there, even dicks like Anthony Bourdain.[Ed.: he is SUCH A DICK!]

Back to Mexican, we have Bandidas Taqueria on Commercial Drive. Bandidas is all vegetarian and very vegan-friendly, with house-made vegan sour cream and Daiya cheese. Oh, did I neglect to mention that Daiya was INVENTED in Vancouver? You’re welcome. I’m not the biggest fan since it kind of gives me Daiyarrhea, but Vancouver places loving on the Daiya include the Naam, Vancouver’s oldest vegetarian restaurant—try the Tempeh Reuben—The Wallflower, vegan chili-cheese thunder fries; Sejuiced, delicious albeit expensive veggie burgers; Loving Hut, currently closed for fire damage or some other suspect Supreme Master activity but otherwise serving Daiya pizza, nachos and surprisingly few even remotely Asian-inspired options; and more.

Café Kathmandu, located next door to Bandidas Taqueria, serves up Nepalese food with a million vegan options and the most hilarious/awesome/politically engaged owner ever. Try the momos! Chutney Villa and Saravanaa Bhavan are both South Indian restaurants, and both will provide you with perfect dosas. Gorilla Food is the raw vegan joint and though I could spend all day long poking fun at raw foodists, I can really get down with Gorilla Foods’ incredible raw pizzas, salads (pictured), smoothies, and desserts. Just beware of potential Katie Holmes encounters! Scary!

The Eatery is probably the least authentic Japanese restaurant in a city full of Japanese people, but they make crazy and amazing vegan sushi, and the decorative dolls, toys, lowbrow art, crazy lighting, and stiff drinks, will enhance your acid trip in no time. Just a block or two from The Eatery is Dharma Kitchen, a typical vegetarian (vegan other than honey in the chai) Buddhist-leaning restaurant, where you can get miso soup along with a decent rice bowl (pictured) to help assuage the previous night’s shameful transgressions. (tip: they pretend that Boca burgers are tempeh).

Did you know that Vancouver has a “sky train” (light rail) public transit system (thanks, horrible Olympics!) that will make you daily MUNI-users sob in envy? Jump on it and head out to the charming suburb of New Westminster to visit the all-vegan shop Karmavore. Considering slitting your wrists because Field Roast isn’t available in Canada? Karmavore has it, and vegan soft-serve ice cream too boot! The trip was worth it, because now you can dive into some vegan pho or the multitude of other vegan options at Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House

Edible Flours, Vancouver’s very first vegan bakery storefront is opening soon in Kitsilano, as is Vancouver’s first vegan shoe store, Nice Shoes, opening March 1st. 

Because you are now on the next flight to YVR, I implore you to also check out Victoria, a ferry-ride away from Vancouver, B.C.’s capital, and home to Sarah Kramer. Here’s a little guide I wrote for VegNews.

I know I missed a ton of places, but I hope I at least somewhat increased my country’s tourism and will maybe receive a break on my taxes?
The Brownie Parfait at Radha. Jesus H!

Gabrielle Pope lives on a small island where she is currently going pleasantly insane, and writing a novel. All photos by Mel of My Vancouver Vegan Kitchen!

02/09/2011

“ IT HAS ALWAYS been crucial to the gourmet’s pleasure that he eat in ways the mainstream cannot afford. For hundreds of years this meant consuming enormous quantities of meat. That of animals that had been whipped to death was more highly valued for centuries, in the belief that pain and trauma enhanced taste. “A true gastronome,” according to a British dining manual of the time, “is as insensible to suffering as is a conqueror.” But for the past several decades, factory farms have made meat ever cheaper and—as the excellent book The CAFO [Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations] Reader makes clear—the pain and trauma are thrown in for free. The contemporary gourmet reacts by voicing an ever-stronger preference for free-range meats from small local farms. He even claims to believe that well-treated animals taste better, though his heart isn’t really in it. „

A truly excellent take down of “foodies” by B.R. Myers over at The Atlantic. Warning: it contains a NSFW/Life bit about Anthony Bourdain grossly eating endangered songbirds and then exchanging “just fucked” glances with fellow diners/psychopaths. Seriously, my eyes started to water. Was it to cry? Or dry heave? Possibly both. Yep! It was both. 

The only problem with this seemingly perfect piece of writing is that it’s published in The Atlantic, home to some of the most terrible food writing in the world. Oh well, nobody’s perfect. 

[Hat-tip, Elizabeth!]

06/09/2010

Big bad chefs and their big bad attitudes  »

Today in the New York Post, you can read this quote from Anthony Bourdain:

“I don’t know if it’s true,” says Bourdain. “But there’s a story that when customers started annoying [David Chang] by complaining about the lack of vegetarian options at [Momofuku] Noodle Bar, he changed the menu and put, like, pork in every dish.” (When asked for comment, Momofoku did not deny this claim.)

On the menu at Chang’s popular sister restaurant Momofuku Ssam Bar, there are sections dedicated to “Country Hams,” “Offal” and “Fish & Shellfish.” There are also notes that read “Please let us know if you have any food allergies,” “No substitutions or special requests” and “We do not serve vegetarian-friendly items.”

Right. On the other hand:

Not long ago, Le Pescadeux’s Perley recalls, his SoHo restaurant served turtle. No, they weren’t cooking turtle. Perley says a man brought his pet turtle—one of his few possessions left after a divorce—into the restaurant and asked the kitchen to prepare a raw hamburger patty for his shelled dining companion, “Sammy,” and a seafood entree for himself. The kitchen obliged.

What? What’s the problem? NO VEGETARIAN FOOD FOR YOU ASSHOLES, but cooking for some dude’s PET TURTLE? Sure, as long as it’s made of dead animal! That makes all the sense. After all, turtles won’t complain no matter what you put in front of them, but vegans are whiny babies who make requests, and we can’t have that!

You know, you all may be the rulers of your kitchens, but those are very tiny kingdoms, and frankly they sound incredibly unpleasant. So thanks, I guess; if you’re going to make me and my veg pals totally unwelcome, it’s terribly considerate of you to dispel any desire we might have of patronizing your restaurants, too. Seriously. I hope all your patrons are as lovely as you are.

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