Vegans: You’ve got four months to get your asses to Chicago for the fanciest, highest-concept, most ridiculous meal you will ever eat. Starting May 8, the theme for Grant Achatz’s rotating-menu, fancy-schmancy, modernist restaurant Next is VEGAN. See preview video above, which is actually more of a masturbatory inside joke about stealing vegetables from Chicago restaurants, but the music is good, so whatev.
This place is so crazy you don’t make a reservation or order a meal, you BUY A TICKET. And for four months only, we can actually eat there! The May tickets sold out in like two hours on Tuesday (sorry I’m not THAT on top of it), but I bet you can get rid of a kidney or something and find some on the underground market, or follow Next on Facebook or Twitter to hear about when June tickets go on sale.
If anyone goes, please document and share with us! I’m seriously considering buying a plane ticket for this. Seriously.
Guest review: Sacred Wheel in Oakland! VEGAN GRILLED CHEESE, Y’ALL »
Even though I’d heard that Sacred Wheel offered vegan grilled cheese on Sundays, I was a little nervous about seeking out vegan food in a gourmet cheese shop. I had already imagined the eye-rolling response when I sheepishly asked about a vegan option and the ultimate disappointment it was sure to be.
Holy Sheese on a cracker, being wrong never tasted so good.
Not only did the friendly employees at Sacred Wheel not bat an eye when I asked about vegan options, they proceeded to make me the yummiest panini-style grilled Sheese sandwich ever! The shop’s grilled cheese of the day was a mozzarella-style dairy-free cheese with sundried tomato pesto. My beau and I arrived near closing and even though they’d long since sold out of the daily special, they offered us a regular cheddar-style grilled cheese. They had two vegan soups of the day to go along with their “Sunday Vegan Sunday” theme, a tofu tabouli that was amazingly filling and a TBR (tomato soup with PBR!) that was peppery and perfect for sandwich-dipping. We got a cup of soup and a giant sandwich each, which came out to about $20 all together. I happily ate the whole thing while dancing in my chair and humming “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”
The shop is adorable, very well laid-out, and seemingly able to accommodate a lunch rush with a giant picnic table, window/counter seating, and some little tables out front. We were lucky enough to get to chat with the owner, Jena, who was awesome. For being a store that specializes in gourmet cheese, Sacred Wheel has an impressive vegan selection. In addition to a few different kinds of Sheese, Sacred Wheel carries local tofu products made by Oakland’s Hodo Soy. There’s also a whole case of imported oils and a huge assortment of jams, jellies, and mustards.
Jena said she’d ultimately like to offer a vegan option every day, which means we should probably go in every Sunday to remind her that vegans in Oakland are desperate for more lunch options in Temescal. Because if I have to eat another slice of Lanesplitter pizza before it’s too early in the day to justifiably have a beer, I’m going to scream. (And then order a beer.)
Sacred Wheel is located at 4935 Shattuck Ave. in Oakland, Sunday through Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Courtney Flynn lives in Oakland and spends way too much time inventing vegan recipes, reading science fiction and crocheting hats for her dog Blender. She sometimes remembers to update her blog where she likes to write about food, restaurants and products that don’t suck. This is her second review for us. Thanks, Courtney!
Those are potato chicharrones from Plum in Oakland. They’re very good and greasy, kinda like a thick cut potato chip, only hella more expensive. I dunno, they were good but the more I think about it, I won’t be craving them and I won’t be back for another hit. I like food that turns me into a junkie, and this isn’t it. I love clean food with complex flavors, it’s that the dish didn’t DELIVER. That’s kinda how I felt about everything at Plum. The only standout dish I tried—and I tried everything vegan on the menu, and everything that could be made vegan—was the mushroom dashi with yuba, greens, and tofu. As my dining companion pointed out, it’s very difficult to make something with a clear broth have intricate, nuanced* flavors, but this really did it. It was so damn good, however, it was the ONLY dish I tasted that justified its price.
Let’s talk money. This is Depression 2.0, people. Folks WITH JOBS are digging in trash cans for half-eaten sandwiches and selling their kidneys for a pizza and shiz. Money is precious and I can’t be dropping hundies on inadequate eats YOU FEEL ME?? Our check came to $46 each for a round of small plates and a wine and a beer, and we both left craving something more. OH YEAH, and they put a “standard 18 percent tip” in the check, no matter how big your party is. We were told this right before the check was served—it was really fucking annoying. That shiz should straight be on the menu. I always tip 20 percent, even if the service is terrible (I was a waitress, everyone has bad days, etc.) but I dunno, something about that rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe I am just a Grumpy Gus and should shut up AND STILL I RISE.
I think Plum would be a good choice if you’re going somewhere with self-described foodies,** ya know. Or, meat-mouths who think they’re fancy. You’ll totally have enough options to not feel screwed, and afterward you can head down the street to No Worries to GET STUFFED.
*I hate me, too.
**totally don’t be friends with someone who self-identifies as a foodie.
Scandals, stupidity, and some really clever sheep in this week’s link-o-rama! »
Pilot whales in the Straits of Gibraltar! This was the only calf in the small pod, don’t you want to give it a hug? YES OF COURSE YOU CAN’T HUG A WHALE. But in my Lisa-Frank-colored childhood dreams, this whale and I would be pals and it would love hugs, so there. [picture by Rory Moore via the Telegraph]
Things for a vegan to do!
Tomorrow, Saturday Aug. 14, Harvest Home Sanctuary is having a work party! Go put together “Harvest Home Hay Boxes” and “Barndog Beds” from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., eat veggie dogs, and feel virtuous. Email to RSVP and get directions.
On Thursday, Aug. 19 the Asian Art Museum is celebrating the drunken dishes of Shanghai cuisine with chefs Nei Chia Ji and Martin Yan. They will be making vegetarian goose with been curd and rice wine; pickled cucumber in Huang Chiew wine; and some chicken thing no one cares about because duh. It’s the AAM’s bimonthly MATCHA event, so there’ll be a cash bar, music, and you can make your own art, too—but your Vegansaurus is mainly excited about the food, obviously. It costs $10 and runs from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St. in San Francisco.
Things for a vegan to read!
Let’s look at horrible food news! Valley Meat Co. of Modesto, Calif. (our neighbor to the east!) recalled 1 million pounds of frozen ground beef this week! It had been produced in late 2009 and early 2010 and has already made seven people sick with E.coli poisoning! NPR did some math and figures about 2,300 cows/steers were killed to make 1 million pounds of ground beef—wonder where they all came from? We’ll probably never know! Still, according to a CDC report, 17 percent of “food-borne illness outbreaks reported to the government” are caused by dead birds in your kitchen, compared to the 16 percent caused by dead cow and 14 percent by “leafy vegetables.” Although of course leafy vegetables carry no deadly bacteria or viruses inside of themselves, unlike say chickens or cows. Your tiny baby children are sick because they’ve been eating salmonella-ful dry pet food! Maybe these statistics will decrease a bit, as Ohio farmers have agreed to give some of their food-animals (“livestock,” if you will) a little breathing room.
Ben and Jerry’s, so full of lies. You really can’t trust anyone who uses that font. Shockingly, their “all-natural” label includes ingredients like dextrose, corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils, none of which are officially “natural.” The New York Times, another bastion of truth, notes a trend in farmers seeking organic certification, motivated primarily by the money. Motivated by being awesome, a former Mad Man is working to make Meatless Mondays a national habit. Even this crazy “barbecue whisperer” who calls himself Meathead Goldwyn has decided to eat vegetarian for a month, and Mario Batali plans to write a vegetarian cookbook, inspired by the “beautiful people!” [sic] of Italy. Maybe they’d enjoy this easy-peasy recipe for carrot bacon!
New Zealand really is as full of sheep as you’ve heard. Sheep, however, are much smarter than is generally assumed. It shouldn’t be too surprising, then, that sheep living in Matamata, NZ, have moved into the Lord of the Rings hobbit homes set. [image by Tara Hunt, via Laughing Squid]
We’re eating very well in the Bay Area these days. There’s the fancy-pants, super-delicious tofu of Oakland’s Hodo Soy Beanery (take a tour!); the second Garden Fresh—vegan Chinese!—in Palo Alto got a good review in the Chronicle; and Sutton Cellars in San Francisco makes only vegan wines and vermouth that SFoodie really enjoyed.
The SF SPCA won its lawsuit to claim $500,000 for its hearing dog program, despite its sort of not having one—it’s all very strange, as SF Weekly explains. The Humane Society’s lawsuit against Olivera Egg Ranch, originally filed in 2008, will go ahead! Olivera Egg Ranch is a massive polluter (not to mention chicken-torturer on a grand scale) and was fined $143,057 in 2009 for “destroying evidence related to air pollution on its property.” On Thursday, defendants in the Bushway Packing trial entered not-guilty pleas to misdemeanor and felony counts of animal cruelty. Even Canada’s not perfect: No Country For Animals is a new documentary about the country’s “deplorable record on animal welfare,” and you can watch it online.
Despite its best intentions, the Times hosted a decent discussion of the ethics of catch-and-release fly-fishing, including a biologist who said, straight-up, that it’s shitty because fish feel pain. Some other biologist contradicted that “theory,” but Wikipedia contradicts him, and Vegansaurus says, just because you CAN do a thing doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it, cowboy. Discover magazine wonders how many orangutan there would be in the world if the Victorians hadn’t been so keen on shooting everything with a heartbeat. To wit: the Galapagos giant tortoises didn’t get a Latin name until 300 years after their “discovery” by Charles Darwin because they were so delicious and easy to kill. Hey Michigan! Your private stock of non-native, feral shootin’ hogs—upward of 5,000!—have broken free from your game ranches and are rampaging wild across the lands, eating fawns and carrying pseudorabies. Michiganders with hunting licenses are encouraged to shoot them. Way to go, guys!