This is the worst picture ever because of the romantic lighting but what you are looking at is a “cauliflower steak!” After a night of drinking, my friend wanted food and we went to the ever-popular Schiller’s in the lower east side. I thought I’d be stuck with the traditional “french fries at the omni restaurant” but guess what! They recently added this totally vegan item to their menu! I was so excited. I love cauliflower!
Warning: it’s not cheap. But it’s super good! It’s basically half a cauliflower head grilled with lots of flavorful stuff on it—lemon being the highlight. It was pretty awesome. I told our nice server that I write for a very very important vegan blog and I would have to report on this immediately! So, that’s what I’m doing.
How often do you get a decent vegan option at a meaty restaurant? And not just decent, this was yummy! But on top of everything else, it was like 11pm! Nice play, Schiller’s, nice play.
NYC may get a vegan grocery store! Help make it a reality! »
As you may have heard, New York City is mighty close to having its very own vegan convenience store. The brainchild of Eric Hopf, Vegan Bodega is currently in its early stages of development, with an IndieGoGo page up for community fundraising and awareness. Vegan Bodega plans to carry everything a vegan could need—healthy food items, vegan junk food, household products, vegan condoms, baby food, beer—imagine not having to read a label! Finally, a real one-stop-shopping experience right here in the Big Apple.
I talked to Eric about the project and how we can help bring it to life!
Vegansaurus: Tell us about Vegan Bodega. What inspired the idea?
Eric Hopf: Like many other vegans, I traveled to the Pacific Northwest with my partner Gita and we saw Food Fight Grocery and Sidecar For Pigs Peace. I remember thinking, “This is fantastic, we should have something like this in NYC.” Once I returned home, I went back to working in photography and didn’t think about it again until a year ago. The arrival of my daughter was close at hand and I was well overdue for a visit to Orlando, Fla., to see my family; I went down for a long weekend, and that was where the idea came from, that this all-vegan convenience store could be something real. There is a small shop near downtown Orlando that I happened upon [called] Artichoke Red, it’s all-vegan and it’s succeeding. The owner was nice enough to talk with me and answer some of my questions. Again I asked myself: Why doesn’t New York City have something like this? Once I arrived home I started thinking about an all-vegan grocery store and shared my idea with Gita. It was going to be a huge undertaking and very expensive. We scaled back the concept. The name came naturally, as there is nowhere in NYC I can think of without a corner store or “bodega,” as we have all become used to calling them. So the inspiration came partially from other business and from my family who support this dream.
How long have you been vegan? Is your family vegan as well?
Actually I don’t keep track of the length of time, but I know I have been vegan for at least six years now, and both Gita and our daughter are vegan.
Tell us about your IndieGoGo project.
After seeing a few vegan projects make their goals on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, we thought that it would be an excellent way to raise a portion of the funds we need for opening the business. Crowd-sourcing would also get the vegan community involved with launching a store that so many have told us they have been wishing for. Our goal is to raise $15,000, but we are less than a week and a half from the deadline and are only around 23 percent of the way there. Any contribution is helpful and we are very thankful for anything we get. There are a variety of incentives for donations of $5 and up. The money will be used to secure the location, buy used shelves, a commercial freezer and fridge, the computer setup for handling sales/inventory, and some stock for the soft opening. The store will have a slicer and deli display, but we may need to introduce those after the opening.
Where do you think Vegan Bodega will be located?
We are going to open in Manhattan, most likely on the Lower East Side, as we really like the feel there, [and it’s] close to other vegan spots and lots of public transportation. We are willing to reconsider the location if we find a fantastic space.
What products and/or services will you offer at Vegan Bodega? Will you deliver? What about online ordering?
The plan for Vegan Bodega is to carry a broad spectrum of products, from healthy items to vegan junk food. [We want] to support other local vegan businesses by offering them a space to sell their goods, a focused vegan and vegetarian customer base, and a chance to connect with customers by doing in-store samplings. We are also contacting Community-Supported Agriculture farmers about being a drop-off point. Delivery is something we are looking into and how best we can offer it. Online ordering may be offered in the future, but it is dependent on the demand for it.
What is your planned opening date, and are you organizing an event for the big day?
We do not have one set yet. Currently our focus is on securing a space and locking down all the funding we need. In the meantime, you may soon find us at a weekend food market, as a prelude to what will be available in the store, but that has yet to be finalized. We intend to do a soft opening and get settled in, then have a grand opening party that will also double as a fundraiser for a to-be-determined animal welfare group. Vegan Bodega would also like to support different nonprofits by allocating a portion of the sales once a month.
We’re pretty excited about this project! If you want to help Vegan Bodega reach their fundraising goal, you only have FOUR MORE DAYS to pitch in at their IndieGoGo page. If you don’t have cash to spare, spread the word and show your love by contacting the Vegan Bodega family. The anticipation is killing us!
Guest post: Krispy Kreme ain’t Dun-Well! Vegan Doughnuts NYC: the launch party »
I heard it said… “vegan royalty”! This is what two cute guys and hundreds of vegan doughnuts attract.
Last night was the tremendous Well-Dun Doughnuts launch in NYC, hosted by Moo Shoes. And dang! It was packed, but expectedly civil considering the beautiful and awesome veg-loving crowd. As a line snaked around the shop, I got an opportunity to quiz some of the early arrivers on their samplings. It seems the lemon poppy seed was a winner—I never got one—and the root beer was a crowd-pleaser. It was like a glorious beignet made of root beer and LOVE that exploded in your mouth! People were moved to tears, at least I hoped, over the chocolate-covered and peanut butter varieties. Meanwhile, smooth and superb cocktails from Bushwick’s vegan bar, Pine Box Rock Shop, helped calm the impatient. And Lula’s Sweet Apothecary supplied some ice cream to à la mode your do-nut.
This review and the photos herein were brought to us by the talented and terrific Jeff Nesmith, an Alabama native thriving in Brooklyn. Designer, draw-er, writer, magazine producer, vegan fry-cook/biscuit-baker, and by day, the editorial production director for Real Simple magazine. He describes his site, welloiledmachinenyc.com, as always a work in progress; we think it’s ridiculously awesome. Oh, also, you might remember him from when I awkwardly proposed that he adopt Vegansaurus? When stalkers and victims become friends: The Vegansaurus Story!
GOOD MORNING, WORLD! For breakfast, let’s all imagine we’re eating this Sundae from Lula’s Sweet Apothecary in NYC and curse our bowls of Wheatabix. Eating breakfast for breakfast is THE WORST!
Vegansaurus NYC: Tiengarden! »
Another day in New York, another vegan restaurant! I ventured out of Brooklyn to meet my pal Brittany in her neighborhood, the Lower East Side. OMG my big day in the city! We were searching for a place by her apartment and with the help of Happy Cow and SuperVegan, we decided on Tiengarden. It’s completely vegan and the internets are calling it Chinese food but I felt like it was kind of Thai (the lovely Brittany agrees), but maybe I’m a racist.
We shared spring rolls and they were adequate. I’m like a spring roll ninja (why’s it got to be a ninja Megan? Racist!) so you can’t just come at me with any old thing, but they were enjoyable. Brit (an omni) got the stir-fried noodles and she liked it, but says it was a little oily. But dude, she was totally into it. She was even talking about becoming a vegan but she didn’t really have any other reason besides liking the stir-fried noodles. I was like, homegirl, it takes commitment! It’s like on America’s Next Top Model, you can’t roll in on day one thinking you’re Tyra! You can’t even smile with your eyes!
Whaaaaaat was I talking about? Ah yes, nuggets! Well, I was about to. I had T11, the special nuggets with peanut curry sauce. Boy were those nuggets special! I think they were deep-fried chunks of tofu—I can get down with that. There were also zucchini, broccoli and other veggies along with some sort of brown rice. I’m a peanut sauce enthusiast and the more it tastes like peanut butter, the better. This sauce was excellent, very peanut-buttery (not thick like it, just the taste). If you like that spicy non-peanut-buttery peanut sauce, you are out of luck.
Other things to note: they have lots of desserts available but I didn’t try any because I had places to be (I’m a big-city girl now!) but they looked good. I’ll definitely have to try the carrot cake next time—cake is my favorite vegetable! Oh and they didn’t have regular soda but Brittany got this Chinese cola thing and now she’s all about it. It’s like, there goes Brittany with that Chinese cola! Sheesh, if I had a nickle…etc.
NYC: Viva Herbal Pizzeria! »
The pizza at NYC’s Viva Herbal Pizzeria is so good, I would brave a blizzard for it, which is exactly what I did last Saturday. As 13 inches were falling from the sky, I managed to finish off two huge slices of vegan pie at this kosher, vegetarian-menu-only spot on the Lower East Side. And when I say HUGE, I mean the size-of-your-head big. With plenty of exotic, fresh, vegan options, this place is a dreamland for the indecisive–-especially when it comes to crust. You can choose from wheat-free, yeast-free, whole wheat, corn meal, spelt, green tea herbal, hemp herbed or traditional crust. And even if you’re consuming a few pizza slices as big as a spaceship, it still feels healthy.
I ordered my fave, the Zen, which is green tea herbed miso tofu, green tea basil pesto, shiitake mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomato and roasted garlic, on a green tea herbed spelt crust, and a slice of the La Vita: roasted red peppers, soy sausage, mushrooms, broccoli, roasted garlic, tomato sauce, and corn kernels on a spelt crust. The Zen is majorly flavorful, not to mention colorful, and one of the most popular menu items. I guarantee it’s unlike any slice of pizza you’ve ever had. The La Vita, which I had never tried, blew my mind. (It was so yummy, I couldn’t bear waiting to take a picture before I tore into it.) Although it wasn’t as good as the Zen, the flavors were tangy, hearty and saucy. I haven’t tested it out on any carnivores, but I’m willing to bet this slice with soy sausage would fool them and the spelt crust is the icing on the vegan cake. I’m not sure how it’s possible to be both crunchy and chewy, but this crust does it.
As far as I know, the only downside is that their soy cheese is not vegan, but you won’t miss it. Slices run about $4 a pop; full pies are also available. They offer a selection of vegan desserts, including whoopee pies, in case you are craving sweets.
Vegansaurus NYC: ‘Bovine Portraits’ art opening with Farm Sanctuary! »
Edie Nadelhaft's Bovine Portraits in Hexadecimal Hue, a collection of oil paintings of our grass-loving friends, is in town (New York, that is—sorry SF readers!) December 16 through 20.
KUMUKUMU on the Lower East Side is hosting the show. Best part: reception on Thursday, Dec. 17! That means booze and a silent auction of a few signed prints of two darling Sanctuary residents, with 30 percent of proceeds going to Farm Sanctuary.
Image: Edie Nadelhaft