Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Until Next Time, Cinnamon Snail

The Cinnamon Snail recently announced the shocking news that their trucks would cease to operate as of the end of this month. Chef Adam Sobel spoke to GrubStreet about the decision and it's incredibly worthwhile reading- if for no other reason than to assuage your disappointment, as it offers some harsh insight into the reality of running a food truck in NYC.

In light of this blow to your compassionate, mealtime rituals- an ode:
I'd already been eating Chef Adam's food for years when The Cinnamon Snail opened in New Jersey on Valentine's Day in 2010: Jersey City.


VM and I (and 89 when she appeared) became instant regulars at their Red Bank, NJ farmar location.

Then we were there when they made their New York debut only months later, where I began my love affair with the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough donut and continued to stalk them regularly in a second state.

When they began vending at the Bethlehem, PA Vegfest, I succeeded in eating their incomparable fare in a third state- most notably in a downpour.

I celebrated when their kitchen moved to Brooklyn and have tirelessly championed their generous endeavors. I've held silly contests inspired by their wackiness. I've mo-foed them repeatedly. I've shamelessly obsessed over the noberweiberweiberweiberhydrafab, and essentially ate all of their donuts all of the time. I even relegated a piece of my snapware collection solely to the collection and transportation of their donuts, dubbing it "The Snail Pail."

I participated in the recipe testing for their highly anticipated cookbook, Street Vegan, which will be available in May.




I've visited the Snail at events galore: from NYC Vegetarian Food Festivals to the phenomenal Vegan Shop-Ups. Essentially, I ate and blogged about them so much that I even had to resort to trying my hand at being witty- which is not necessarily my forté.

I've eaten breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert at the Snail more times than I can count (yes, even more than I've blogged), but it somehow seems as though it wasn't enough.

I visited for the last time this past Sunday for a slew of Snaily "lasts." Plenty of other fans had the same idea; we waited on line for 1 hour and 37 minutes and it was worth every second.

VM's favorite portabello carpaccio, which was also the very first Snail sammie she ever devoured.

My gochujang burger deluxe.

Oh, and my Thai BBQ tempeh (don't judge; you'd have eaten two sammies also)

89's arugula party.

And, of course, some donuts for the road.

I know there are great things on the horizon for Chef Adam...

as well as the entire award-winning Snail crew.

So, I won't say "goodbye".


Not "so long", "ta ta", or even "farewell". It's only until next time...and I can't wait to see what the future will bring.


Thanks to each and every one of you for every amazing thing.

Rock on!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Valentine's Day Bean Swag

Just checking in with a quick re-cap of my V-day:

Socks, of course.

Flowers for me (and the admission that baby's breath fills me with the rage of a thousand suns):

Flowers for 89 (I have an unhealthy attitude towards ferns too):

Candy! Handmade, gourmet chocolates from Vegan Treats:

I can only guess at the flavors because I ate them very quickly (note for next year: I'll need more):
maple cream? peanut butter cup, strawberry-filled white chocolate, almond...?, chocolate peppermint, and caramel (my FAVE!) 

Also this nerd.

Hope yours was filled with candy and love.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Positivitea, Vegan New Jersey

I don't know how Positivitea escaped my radar, but I made a plan to go very shortly after I learned of its existence. It was really easy to find in Verona: it's diagonally across from the park, just a block or so away from the old Pink Frosting space.

I was thrilled to see them boasting themselves as "100% Vegan" right outside.

I also loved the giant, posted menus; you can also easily review their entire menu online.

It's a large, cheery space with tables, booths, and some counter seating.

I ordered the Bean Jr., which is a smaller version of their big bean burger: "all hail the "Vegan Big Mac"! A double decker burger with 2 hand packed black bean patties, special ahi sauce, vegan mayo, miso spread, vegan cheese, lettuce, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun." My Bean Jr. "size doesn't matter, the taste is still BIG. The single decker Bean Jr. with all the toppings of the big bean burger to boot" was ordered as listed, except that I subbed a pretzel bun because I'm brilliant. My request was happily granted.


The burger itself looked like it was solely comprised of compacted black beans, so I was wary. But, I'm happy to report that this concoction in its entirety made an outstanding veggie burger. The toppings, texture, and pretzel bun all worked together to make this a winner in my book. I also really enjoyed the cheese. When we inquired, we were told only that it was "coconut based with tapioca" and decided not to push it. I'm not sure why, but some places just don't like to talk about the brands of their products. The kale slaw, which was included, was underwhelming. The dressing was not very flavorful and it was also watery, which made the kale quite limp- something that is not easy to do. Win on the burger, pass on the slaw.

My friend ordered the Garden of Vegan wrap: spinach wrap, chickpea patty, kale, romaine, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles, vegan mayo because she's all healthy-like. I tasted her chickpea patty plain and it tasted just like unsalted, mashed chickpeas. However, she said that she enjoyed the sandwich as a whole, describing it as "light and healthy." She and I were in agreement on our assessment of the kale slaw.

While the dessert options were noticeably absent from the wall menus, they were listed in detail on the single, laminated menu that was available at the counter (and are also reviewable online).

Our inquiry about the "nice cream: soft serve vegan ice cream" was met with another vague explanation that it was "soy based with tapioca." Pooling our collective vegan ice cream knowledge we hypothesized that it was Chicago Vegan Foods brand. A quick search confirmed our suspicions, as the ingredients are listed as: all vegan, gluten free, non-GMO verified: vegan cane sugar, tapioca maltodextrin, organic soymilk powder, natural vanilla flavor (vanilla) or organic fairly traded cocoa (chocolate), soy protein, guar gum, xanthan gum, salt...Temptation Vegan Soft Serve! As such, we are under the impression that the cheese on my burger was teese. Good to know!

After a last minute swerve away from The Pothole (not feeling the walnuts), I decided on Mr. Cookie Munster: gluten-free vegan chocolate chips, cookies, and vegan cocoa chocolate sauce.

Because the folks at Postivitea are geniuses, to my delight they assembled the toppings in the center as well as atop my sundae: all brilliantly parfait-like.

I don't think I've ever had it before, but I can now say with certainty that Chicago Vegan Foods' Temptation Vegan Soft Serve is a new friend. I'm not generally a fan of vanilla (it does come in chocolate, you know), but this was good and so incredibly creamy!

Plus, as you ate it the cookie crumbs mixed with the ice cream and tasted as though you'd dunked them in milk.


Oh yeah, here's my friends' P.B. and Jay: organic peanut butter, organic strawberry jam, and organic graham crackers. We think that was a squirt of agave on top for panache. I'm not into jelly on my ice cream so I didn't taste it, but I'd definitely consider adding peanut butter to my next Mr. Cookie Munster.

I don't know if they ever switch up the ice cream flavor (to, say, chocolate; ahem), but I definitely recommend whatever they have when you visit.

Finally...a special shout out to their restroom.

As easy as it might seem to be to include a hook in such a public space, you'd be surprised at how often it's overlooked. At Positivitea, not only is there a hook on the back of the door...


There's also a little table if you prefer to place your belongings there rather than hang them.

Not only is their restroom incredibly functional, but it's also creatively decorated.

One wall:


Another wall:

One last thing: there's also punchcard. Tenth meal is on them!

I would definitely recommend Postivitea: if you're in the area or for a purposeful road trip.

Burgers and ice cream might sound boring, but they do it well.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Paulie Gee's, Vegan Brick Oven Pizza in Greenpoint

In response to my pizza recommendation to just about everybody, Jess Scone advised me to get to Paulie Gee's as soon as possible. I really did try, but it's kind of out of the way of my usual haunts and they don't take reservations (nor do they offer takeout or delivery, FYI). But, one recent evening after a couple of friends and I went to PaintNite, we decided to trek there for some carbstrong grub.


We got there about an hour and a half after they'd opened for the evening, which meant that the queue of folks who had been waiting for the doors to open precisely at 5:00pm had already eaten and were replaced by a second round of equivalently-timed diners. We figured it would take us a good long while to decide on and travel to an alternate dinner option, so we waited...and waited. Along with plenty of other pizza-loving schmucks we waited. And drank a little (they serve beer and wine)...and snacked on some things we'd purchased earlier in the day at the Winter Village in Bryant Park.


After about an hour and 45 minutes we were finally seated and got our hands on the coveted vegan section of the menu. Behold: so many house made items!

Once I was able to tear my eyes away from the multiple, gourmet pizza options I looked up and was surprised to find that Paulie Gee had made an exception* and was showcasing an original JD on his typically bare and rustic restaurant walls!

This phenomenally cultured atmosphere only made us hungrier; we ordered a giant pie each with the intent to share. 

JD had visited before, so he knew that the In Ricotta Da Vegan: with vegan tomato sauce, house made vegan sausage, post-oven house made cashew ricotta dollops, baby arugula and extra virgin olive oil was the way to go.

It was an excellent choice: a great combination of fresh flavors and textures.


It had seemed unusual to us that the only vegan cheese was a ricotta instead of a mozzarella, but JD advised us not to skip it and he couldn't have been more right.

Our pal, Pecan, who always chooses "plain," went with the Simply Red: with vegan tomato sauce with tomatoes, olive oil, vidalia onions, garlic basil, salt & pepper AND added cashew ricotta. I'm a topping-overload girl myself, but this too was a winner.


As for me, I also ordered the Simply Red, but I added the cashew ricotta, kalamata olives, kale (duh), and nutritional yeast.


Brick oven pizza isn't usually my favorite style, but with Paulie Gee's thoughtful and inventive toppings and combinations this was a truly amazing meal. In particular, I cannot stress enough how spectacular the cashew ricotta is; you'll never miss the mozzarella. We all loved it and VM swooned over our leftovers.

Since we visited last month, they've changed the menu a bit and have added things like vegan meatballs made with green jackfruit, as well as almond milk & onion cream. While I appreciate the convenience of store-bought vegan items as much as the next person, there are way too many upscale, vegan restaurants in this city who rely on the same processed cheeses, meats, and condiments that you can easily enjoy at home (whether they call it by name or not). So it's reassuring that Paulie Gee's- an omnivorous restaurant of all places, would have the courtesy as well as the skill to knock our socks off with such house-made, artisan, vegan pizza toppings.

Paulie Gee likes to pal around with the patrons of his restaurant to make sure everyone is enjoying. When he got to our table, we thanked him profusely for the stellar vegan options and he was extraordinarily humble about it. We got to talking and he wound up whole-heartedly recommending a Chinese place in New Jersey as a must-visit for a shrimp (redacted) dish. Like hanging out with your favorite uncle, we had to remind him that we were vegan!

Ironically, the three of us have had very serious conversations about restroom locks in the past. So, it was incredibly fitting that the lock in the Paulie Gee's (right side) restroom was so substantial and unique.

And, because I'm a dork, I took a video of it.

Paulie Gee's does offer a vegan dessert pizza, but it's not my speed (translation: not chocolate). Instead, we decided to try their ice cream, from Van Leeuwen, for the first time: chocolate and salted caramel. Don't let the unfortunately-flashed photo fool you; it was delicious: rich, creamy, and authentically flavored...a perfect fit for Paulie Gee's. Please note that we did not share the ice cream; this was my private bowl (I'm not a good dessert sharer).

* The affable Paulie Gee didn't really make an exception, although he was a very good sport about our display for the duration of our meal.