Jay Kitchen Pop-Up Dinner: Fine dining by vegan wunderkind Jay Astafa »
Late last month, your Vegansaurus was invited to attend a fancypants vegan pop-up dinner by up-and-coming vegan chef Jay Astafa. As part of our constant effort to bring you the most important news on the best vegan dining, we accepted.
The pop-up was an eight-course tasting menu of Jay’s savory vegan delights, with dessert by vegan pastry chef and fellow wunderkind Dani McGrath, and wines by the Vegan Vine.
Here are some photos that I took. They’re … adequate.
First course: King oyster mushroom scallop with aged balsamic caviar and green pea purée
Second course (one of my favorites!): Spring crostini duo (ramps & cashew chèvre; sorrel-mint pesto, micro pea tendrils, green peas, cashew parmesan)
Third course: Chilled potato and leek soup with chive olive oil foam
Fourth course (SO GOOD YOU GUYS): Ravioli with asparagus and ricotta (house-made cashew cream butter, cashew parmesan)
Fifth course: Smoked cauliflower steak with sunchoke purée, morels, fava beans, snap peas, green garlic, truffle vinaigrette, shaved black summer truffle
Sixth course: House-made cheese plate with aged cashew cheese and brie, strawberry-rhubarb compote, orange-infused vegan honey, rosemary-almond crackers
Seventh course: “Dragon Breath” caramel popcorn
Eighth course: Grand Marnier-infused chocolate rart with pistachio gelato, raspberry coulis, pistachio tuile, raspberry pop candy, fleur de sel salted caramel powder
Lucky for you, Ms. Hannah “Bittersweet Blog” Kaminsky took much better pictures of the menu that really do Jay and Dani’s dishes justice. She also has Jay’s recipe for the sorrel-mint pesto crostini, which was one of my favorite dishes and which I fully intend to (attempt to) reproduce, because holy moly, it was so good. Go see for yourself!
To find out more about Jay Astafa and Jay Kitchen, follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He also catered Farm Sanctuary’s Fashion Loves Animals event (which we attended, too!) last weekend. Keep an eye out for more from this super-talented kid; he is amazing, and we are lucky to have him on team vegan.
(And seriously check out Hannah’s photos, they are gorgeous.)
Got a tip about an awesome vegan-friendly event? Let us know! We love fun!
NYC: Come to Mooshoes this Sunday! »
Mooshoes is having a special sale this Sunday in honor of spring! I think spring is great so it should definitely be honored with vegan shoe discounts. Details:
Please join us on Sunday, April 14. from noon to 6 p.m. for our annual Spring Fling.
Spring is finally here and you need some new shoes to get you started. We have so many new styles to choose from that we don’t want you to have to narrow it down to just one..so we are offering a 15 percent discount on all of our new spring arrivals. We are also offering an additional 10 percent off already discounted merchandise. Prices start at $29.99!
Expect some fun beverages (spiked or non spiked lemonade, anyone?) and tasty treats from Dunwell Doughnuts to make this shopping day a little sweeter.
Dunwell Doughnuts? Sold!
Mooshooes is located at 78 Orchard St. in Manhattan.
Hey NYC! Amanda Cohen, the chef at Dirt Candy (a Megan Rascal love!) is giving a talk about her awesome restaurant, cooking with vegetables, and her new cookbook (Dirt Candy: The Cookbook), which looks awesome.
If you want to attend, just RSVP, and then get your vegetable-loving self over to the NYU Fales Library at 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12. It’s a free event, and there’ll be snacks! It’s sponsored by the Wagner Food Policy Alliance and NYU Meatless Mondays.
New York’s WABC channel 7 News spotlights Vegan Divas! Vegansaurs already know that Megan Rascal loves Vegan Divas and has attended two of their parties, which is no surprise because she is the vegan queen of the East Coast. But now regular news-bringers are talking about it! And loving it! The best part of this little piece is the end, when the field reporter, the two anchors, and that dude on the side (I don’t know your newspeople, New York) are enjoying the goods so much they can barely talk. Vegan desserts are the best!
Vegan Divas: New vegan bakery in NYC! »
If you recall, a few months ago I went to Vegan Divas dessert tasting and had a lovely time. Well guess what? They opened a bakery! Yes, the Upper East Side just got a vegan bakery. Yay richies! Get your vegan on.
They invited me to the opening, promising free desserts and champagne—do they understand me or what? Hint: they understand me. My absolute favorite thing was the baby chocolate cupcakes pictured above. Aren’t they darling (that’s Upper East Side talk!)? And very good. I actually would say their chocolate stuff is their best stuff. It’s always a nice, rich, semi-sweet chocolate that’s not too sugary. Love it. I also like the funny “sand cookies” that are pictured behind the cupcakes. They are funny and I’m not sure everyone would like them. I love them—they are a bit salty, that’s my favorite: salty+sweet.
These donuts are good as well. But all their donuts are baked, not fried, so we’re not talking Ronald’s. Good though. Of course I recommend the chocolate! It’s not surprising their donuts are the baked kind, the whole place is very health-conscious. For those calorie counters, you’ll be excited to find that all the items on the menu include the calorie count next to them—and everything is pretty low. All the ingredients are natural and everything is kosher too. So everybody can eat this stuff! And the prices aren’t bad in my opinion, especially considering the quality of the ingredients.
They don’t just have dessert, they will also be having quiche. I haven’t sampled it yet but I love quiche so I’m excited! And they have juices—see? Healthy stuff! I didn’t try the juice because I didn’t want it to interfere with my champagne intake, but I’m sure it’s good. If you like juice! And it came in cute little glasses. Baby glasses!
Oh the other thing I tried were the peanut butter chocolate chip cookies! They were party favors so I had them at home. I actually had two for breakfast this morning! Yeah, I’m all about health too. The cookies are nice and soft; I don’t like crunchy chocolate chip cookies so that’s perfect for me. They also had oatmeal raisin cookies but I’m allergic to cookies with raisins in them. Ok I’m not exactly allergic but still, raisins better stay away from my cookies.
All in all, a great bakery, especially for the health-conscious set. I’m glad we have another bakery in the city! For you non-NYCers, you can order lots of their products on their site. Bon Appétit! That’s more Upper East Side talk. I’m basically bilingual. Trilingual if you include Philadelphian.
NYC: The Vegan Shop-Up is coming to Manhattan! »
That’s right! The Shop-Up is making its Soho debut on March 24!:
Please join us in big bad Manhattan for this mini version of Vegan Shop-Up! Exciting! You’ll find us behind the beautiful tea shop In Pursuit of Tea, so stock up on artisan treats and enjoy a nice hot cup on your way out. As always we’ve got a long list of drool-worthy goods to bring you so get ready for the best selection of chocolate coated cake truffles, raw sweets, gluten-free baked treats, kale chips, sauerkrauts and chutneys, sandwiches, fresh juices, teas, and more!
We’re still holding our regular Shop-Ups at& Pine Box Rock Shop in Brooklyn, so don’t worry.
Saturday, March 24, noon to 5 p.m.
In Pursuit of Tea (back room)
33 Crosby St. (btw Broome + Grand)
How do you like that action? This is a lot more convenient for me! So come out, drop cash money, and be the best vegan you can be.
Hey NYC: Do you have room in your heart for sweet Johnny “Goggles”? »
LOOK AT THAT FACE!!! This is Johnny “Goggles” and he is on death row at the Manhattan Animal Care and Control shelter. Really, he could be euthanized any day now and reader Kim wants to see him get a home instead! She’s been spending time with him and says he’d make the perfect dog for some lucky household. Kim and her boyfriend have already adopted a dog and cannot afford to take Johnny in as well but they think he’s so wonderful, they’ve actually offered to help cover his adoption fees for someone that can give him a great new home.
Johnny is three years old, a pit bull mix with a brindle and white coat. Kim says Johnny appears to have been abused or neglected in his past but is still incredibly sweet and loves affection. OMG I’m crying!
Here’s what some shelter volunteers had to say about Johnny’s personality; the first writes:
I’ve nicknamed Johnny “goggles” because of the brown mask of fur around his eyes. It’s just one of the many sweet, silly qualities this very nice boy has going for him. While some of the other dogs were jumping and barking in their kennels, trying to get my attention, Johnny stayed still, hoping to make eye contact and guilt me into walking him next. It worked, and off we went. Johnny has awesome leash skills, though he does zig-zag a little—a funny trait that makes me think he must be so happy to be outside seeing and sniffing so many fascinating things, he can’t decide where to direct his eyes and nose next. He’s social and friendly with other dogs and minds his manners around people. It helps that he’s so handsome, with a gorgeous white and brindle coat that earned him compliments on the sidewalk. Come meet our Johnny, a dog with so much potential to be a best friend and protector.
Another volunteer writes:
Here’s what Johnny Goggles loves: long walks, feeling the leaves crunch under his paws, sniffing the ground (and finding a couple of French fries left behind in a fast food container, yum!), sitting on a park bench next to his person like a king, and having his back and butt scratched endlessly. Now here’s what Johnny doesn’t love: watching so many other dogs come in the shelter and then get adopted, never knowing if and when he’ll have a loving home of his own. Let’s help Johnny, a medium-size guy with serious BFF potential, find his forever family very soon.
His I.D. number is JOHNNY - ID#A916477.
If you’d like to help Johnny, you can contact the Manhattan Animal Care and Control center—Kim suggests going to the center in person if you can because it’s difficult to connect with the center via phone or email. Kim says you can email her if you need further assistance. She even said she’d be happy to meet with you and accompany you to the shelter to save this dog. So nice! She just really wants to see him saved. So if you’ve been looking to adopt, what are you waiting for? This guy doesn’t have much time.
Good things coming your way, NYC! The Green Holiday Festival happens on Sunday, Dec. 11, with all kinds of good stuff. Our pal Louzilla (love you, girl!) sent us this flyer for the event, and says that it is “organized by the same people that brought us the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival last year. I got an inside look at the list of vendors, and it looks like it’s really going to be an amazing event to fulfill all your vegan holiday gift needs in one place. The best part? a portion of the proceeds are going to benefit For the Animals, which is in dire need of funds!”
Sounds great, right? Be at the Altman Building at 135 W. 18th St. in Manhattan on Sunday, Dec. 11. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and you can shop, learn, donate, eat, and be entertained. Get more information at the event’s Facebook page. Thanks for the tip, Ms. Louzilla!
But wait, there’s more: Sarah of Rescue Chocolate, one of the Festival’s organizers, has offered free tickets for our readers who want to go! She has 50 tickets for you East Coast Vegansaurs, so if you can attend, email Sarah no later than Friday at 5 p.m. EST with the subject line: “Vegansaurus wants to send me to the Green Holiday Festival!” Please include your name, and please only enter if you can go. I can’t! But you could! And it’s going to be great!
Vegansaurus NYC: Cowgirl’s Baking! »
Cowgirl’s Baking! Ever heard of it? It’s in Manhattan. I was in the city yesterday and happened by—the same day Laura and I had been talking about this place! See, they had a vegan hot dog eating contest over July Fourth and Laura wanted me to write about it and I was like, Laura, it’s not July Fourth anymore! And she was like, Megan, vegan hot dog eating contest! And then by chance, I walk by. The world is a funny place.
The main thing I had heard about Cowgirl’s Baking is that they sell vegan funnel cake! OMG DON’T DIE! Yes, as you may have guessed, it was delicious. A lot oilier than I remember, but I don’t think I’ve had a funnel cake in like 10 years? It was GOOD. Funnel cake is GOOD. I was HAPPY.
Funnel cake was all I was prepared to buy yesterday (I was actually on my way to dinner—ha!) but I will definitely go back! They have many savory items I want to try, including cheddar biscuits. I love a good biscuit! They also have about a million cupcakes. I want them all.
They have little places to sit but they seriously need some AC like whoa. You should definitely make the trip here one day, for lunch AND dessert. I may even be there when you go! I’ll be the extra-good-looking one. Say hi.
Vegansaurus NYC: John’s of 12th Street’s new all-vegan menu! »
I heard some chatter that one of NYC’s oldest Italian restaurants had added an all-vegan menu in addition to their regular menu. Naturally I looked into it. Sure enough, John’s of 12th Street has not just vegan options but an entirely separate vegan menu, which proclaims: “We want everyone to be able to enjoy our Italian specialties made with the freshest ingredients available! All of our vegan dishes are plant-based and contain no animal ingredients whatsoever. We use dedicated cooking utensils for preparing vegan dishes.” Wow! I arranged a dinner immediately with a bunch of my vegan friends and we promptly showed up forks in hand.
John’s is an old-school Italian place. It opened in 1903 and the space has an old-fashioned feel. The waiters are all in white button-ups with ties and have Brooklyn accents. And at one point our waiter actually yelled at an adjacent birthday party to keep it down—for the record, they were being wicked loud—totally awesome.
When we sat down, we were asked if we’d like garlic bread; my friend said we’d like the vegan garlic bread. Our waiter asked if we were all “goin’ ve-gaan tonight?” We nodded and he quickly whisked away our menus and replaced them with the vegan ones. Super exciting. Vegan appetizers, salads, pastas, entrees, and desserts. We were a large party so I got to taste a wide variety. Two kinds of bruschetta (one with avocado!), Caesar salad, stuffed mushrooms, minestrone soup. All quite good. For my main I order pasta with vegan Alfredo, BECAUSE HOW CAN YOU NOT. It was good. I won’t lie, I put a lot of salt and pepper on it but after that it was delicious. My roommate had the tofu spinach ravioli which I though had really impressive texture, just like a traditional ravioli. Another friend let me taste the seitan parm (it was yum) which came with a SIDE of pasta. Would you like a side of pasta? Only with everything please!
Then came dessert. This was the true highlight. I got the vanilla cannoli. Oh man. Cue picture:
Crazy delicious! Some of my friends got the chocolate version but I didn’t taste it because no one was interested in sharing at this point, just scarfing. There was also a panna cotta (surprisingly good) and ice cream from Lula’s (always a delight).
Bottom line: I was ultra-stoked about this trip because I LOVE Italian food, but I wouldn’t tell a vegan from out of town to go out of their way unless they are a major fan like me. Except for the cannoli which IS worth going out of your way!! You should go get one NOW. This is a great place for a large dinner party, especially if it’s a mixed party with vegans and nons. The food is good. It is not unbelievable or particularly special but it is a solid “good.”
I think its super important to point out that John’s is freaking radical for doing this!! How many restaurants can you just walk into and not just have a few options but your whole own entire menu made with special animal-free pots and pans? Like NOWHERE. Go John’s of 12th Street! You are sexy like a vegan! I hope this is the sign of a trend because I would love for more restaurants/bakeries/delis/etc. to have good vegan options. And I MEAN options; one item is not “options.” Yay for vegan Italian food! Is it the best food ever? No. Is it good? Yes! I’ll take another side of pasta please!
[Ed.: Oh, snap! It looks like you can ORDER ONLINE!! Ugh, do they deliver to Oakland? BECAUSE WANT.]
Laura Yasinitsky is a writer, comic, waitress, and animal-lover based in New York City. She has appeared on Comedy Central’s “Open-Mic Fight” and writes for US Weekly’s Fashion Police. You can follow her silliness on Twitter @LaraYaz and read about her animal friendly adventures at Laura Goes Vegan.