Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's Coming: Vegan MoFo 2013!

Yes, in September.  Those vegan mofos really like to keep a blogger on her toes.  Monday begins the Vegan Month of Food: 2013 edition; rally, people!

Per usual, I'm sure that lots of folks will have awesome, enviable themes, but I've come to terms with the fact that I'm much too disorganized for that; my stab at a theme during MoFo '11 was painful and although I started MoFo '12 with the best of intentions, it evolved into randomness right up until Hurricane Sandy shut me up.

So, instead, I've decided to pretty much keep doing what I usually do...just more of it.  Since MoFo brings so many new visitors to the blog, it makes sense (to me) to give them a taste of what A (soy) Bean is about all year long: a kind of hodgepodge/potpourri of restaurant reviews, awesome vegan events, product obsessions, recipe highlights, and general ramblings with regard to the veganity of the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) and beyond.

And fear not, fans; there will also be 89!  Since she is vegan and eats vegan food, I'm pretty sure she aligns with the MoFo guidelines.

I hope you'll participate as a reader; I know I will!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vegan-Friendly, Dog-Friendly NYC

I had a lot on my agenda last Saturday; since it was a beautiful day, I decided to take 89 with me and figured we'd just get to as much as possible.  Our goal was to, at least, visit  Mooshoes, the Integral Yoga Day for your Health Street Fair, and The Best Ice Cream Shop in the Universe.  Although she wasn't with us, we started the day at VM's favorite coffee shop, The Bean (no relation).


Perhaps because we arrived really early there weren't many dogs for 89 to chat with.


Instead, she gazed out the window while I enjoyed my chai.

Someone came up to tell me what a well-behaved dog she was.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Faker.

Since we were already running early, we decided to stop by Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics,


a 100% vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics store.

I went to pick up some of their super creamy tinted moisturizer for VM, but I accidentally bought some nail polish while I was there as well.

Next stop: Mooshoes, where they were having a fantastic summer sale.


Trust a vegan shoe and accessory shop (and event space) to have snacks: courtesy of Dunwell Donuts.


Also, friends.


I'd gone with the intention of getting a new bag, but instead got sucked in by adorable flats from Cri de Coeur.  Besides their awesome stock and friendly staff, it is a pleasure shopping at MooShoes because you don't have to read a single content label.  But, old habits die hard.

sans animaux!
Other shoppers were venturing into the cooler weather footwear and, before I knew it, I'd added a fall boot to my stack as well.  Thinking ahead!

I finally used the gift certificate that 89 won for placing in the MooShoes photo contest a short while back.

I'll note that 89 was especially thrilled to share it, as they don't actually sell dog shoes at MooShoes (not a loss: we've tried them; she's not a fan).

MooShoes always has the best stuff.

And consistent messaging!


We met another dog a few doors down and said hello.  She was a nudist.


After that we headed to the Integral Yoga Day for your Health Street Fair.  We were passing a friend's house just as she was leaving, so we all went together.  It was more crowded with vendors and attendees than I can recall of their past events and the attendees were pretty aggressive in their pursuit of samples.  This was surprising, because I've never had that experience at the Vegan Shop-Up.

I was anxious to meet up with friends find Cake Thieves, as they had advertised that they were going to have a build-your-own cinnamon bun station; I ran over to get one.

I used to think I didn't like cinnamon buns, but that was crazy talk.  I love cinnamon sugar; what I don't like is that grody icing that usually drowns the goodness of the bun.


Cake Thieves always has great cinnamon bun flavors that enhance the cinnamon bun, rather than drench and disguise.


For my toppings, I chose to enhance with chocolate ganache...


and peanut butter cups, which were nice and melty from the sun (Cake Thieves has a knack for this).  Some friends (and strangers) were marveling at the generous helping of double chocolate, but I ate every drop.  Back off, haters.


It was SO good.  It was THIS good.

buns are for people, not dogs!!

89 is trying to take her modeling career to the next level, so she made me take this shot in the hopes that Cake Thieves will hire her for future gigs.

Lest you think 89 didn't have anything to eat, rest assured that she mightily enjoyed herself a slice of watermelon: barely containing her excitement while I removed the pits.

I should also note that we had to fend off a stranger who tried to give her a liver treat.  Vegan dog at a vegetarian event: educate yourself!

Gone Pie Vegan Bakery was representing at the event (you can always find their treats at Integral Yoga): sharing a booth with their favorite organization, Friends of Animals.

Friends of Animals had shirts, hats, cookbooks, stickers, and memberships.

And Gone Pie had the grubMini pecan pies, PBCRRBNBBs, and chocolate cobblers...

The zesty mini orange fig cake was so springy and full of sweet figs that it was hard to share.

Our special order macaroons dipped in chocolate were also a treat!

While we were there, 89- as she so often does, rented out some advertising space to Gone Pie.  Then she took her first nap of the day behind the booth, forfeiting payment for services rendered.


After visiting the Amy's Kitchen and Compassionate Couture booths, it was time to head out. 

more shopping

I'm pretty sure I was more exhausted than 89, so I swung by Beyond Sushi to get some takeout before heading home.  This sign was getting A LOT of attention outside.

Because I wouldn't dream of it the paparazzi doesn't leave her alone, I couldn't leave 89 outside while I ordered my food.  So, I stuck my head in the shop, explained my predicament, and an employee kindly came right to the door to take my order!  She brought me the bill, took my credit card, and even told me what flavor juices were available that day.  Then she wrapped mine extremely well for transport and delivered everything with efficiency and a smile.

It never looks as pretty when you take it home, but it always tastes just as good!  I ordered our usual suspects: La Fiesta, Pickle Me, and Sweet Tree.  Also, the August roll of the month: black rice, grilled haricot vert, roasted okra, green slaw (kale, parsley, & roasted sesame seeds), dusted with porcini mushrooms.

Thanks so much, Beyond Sushi: impeccable food and service!


Truth be told, I wasn't heading home just yet.  Guess why?


Yep, I couldn't end my day without a visit to The Best Ice Cream Shop in the Universe.  Still with 89, I again placed my order from the door and within moments it too was delivered right to me.  The nicest people work at The Best Ice Cream Shop in the Universe, you know.  Here it is, the best ice cream float of all time: root beer float with chocolate ice cream and whipped cream

this disappeared in seconds

When I was a kid we took a school trip to the Bronx Zoo.  It was really hot out and I spent most of the morning thinking about the grape juice Sips juicebox that my mom had packed for me.  When lunch came I was parched, but when I took what I'd expected to be my first long sip, it disappeared.  To this day I'm not sure if the juice really evaporated or if I was just that thirsty; this float was a similar experience.

At this point we were really ready to head home.  But I had met a friend on the way to TBICSITU, and she was meeting some of our other friends for dinner.  I had declined the invitation earlier in the day, but was feeling pretty good: I was full of ice cream, 89's behavior was stellar, and I wanted to hang out!  It did also occur to me that it was probably a good idea to eat a non-sweet-based meal.  So, off to Benny's Burritos we went (more on Benny's soon).

Our group was welcomed to the outside seating area where another dog was already dining [UPDATE 10/10/13: B-B-B-Benny and the Pets (just thought of that one)].  But 89 wasn't feeling sociable; we no sooner sat down that she fell asleep.


When our burritos arrived, I simply replaced my arm with my pocketbook for a pillow and tucked her under the table. 

Then I dug in!  They have quite a few veg options at Benny's, but I always go for the non-dairy burrito: with black beans, brown rice, salsa fresca, and vegan soy cheese in a whole wheat tortilla with tofu sour cream and salsa on the side.


I was still a little dehydrated from the day, so a watermelon margarita on Avenue A was in order: fresh watermelon margarita: tequila, fresh blended watermelon, fresh lime juice and Triple Sec served on the rocks.

89 woke up some time around Happy Hour, but remained chill.


But then it was truly time to go home.  And 89 was happy to get there.

So that was our vegan-friendly, dog-friendly always: support vegan-owned businesses!

UPDATE: I received this great text from a friend the following day.

Pine Box was the only thing missing from the weekend.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

From Seed to Sprout, Avon-by-the-Sea

A vegan co-worker sent me a link to a new, vegan restaurant's menu a few weeks ago and, before I knew it, a bunch of Jersey people were talking about From Seed to Sprout in Avon-by-the-Sea.  I couldn't wait to go.

Although there have been no green smoothies involved, VM has also been eating more healthfully of late.  Since we didn't want to lose our momentum, instead of getting cake, we decided to check out the new place for brunch on a rainy weekend.

The menu offerings are certainly health-minded: juices, smoothies, salads, and raw options abound.

Since my own unfortunate frittata, I've been wanting to try a good one.  Not surprisingly, the zucchini & arugula frittata: served with roasted potatoes & marinated kale put mine to shame.   The large slice was impressive both in size and presentation: just look at those well-placed zucchini slices.  It managed to be both firm and creamy, cheesy and fresh: wholly satiating.

The kale was lightly dressed and well-massaged: the prominent flavor being nooch.  My only disappointment was the roasted potatoes, which seemed slightly undercooked and in need of a bit of salt and pepper.

VM ordered the grilled avocado sandwich: on sprouted grain bread with arugula, tomato, and carmelized onion; served with marinated kale salad.  I admit I was superbly jealous when it arrived at the table; who wouldn't have been? 


She really enjoyed it, although she too mentioned a little salt and pepper would have gone a long way.  Despite being a huge fan of noochy popcorn, she did not like the salad.  I guess she's spoiled by mine.

From Seed to Sprout does not serve caffeinated beverages, so VM ordered a Sweet & Dandy iced "coffee", I an iced mate latte.  VM's was pleasantly flavored, but the thick milk (cashew?) was not for her.  Once the ice diluted it a bit I drank about half, but that was enough for me as well.  I had not expected that my latte would have been made with the smoky variety of mate, so it was not my speed either.

The waitress was kind enough to have brought me a generous serving of agave to mask the flavor with sweetness, but it still just wasn't for me.

We decided to bring a few dessert items home for review by the Esteemed Tasting Panel.


The lemon blueberry scone was filled with fresh blueberries and just a kiss of lemon.  I would have preferred it to be more of a crunchy, dry scone; it was a little too soft for my taste.

The almond coconut cookie also boasted delicious flavors, but it too could have benefited from being more of a crisp cookie.  I expected it to snap when I broke it, but instead it just bent until it gave.

The lemon-blueberry tart got extra credit right off the bat for being adorable.  Also, sprinkles!


It tasted like the fresh version of a pop-tart, but again- the dough tasted a little too soft.

Unfortunately, no one enjoyed the raw chocolate amaretto macaroon; it had an extremely strong and unpleasant taste that was reminiscent of neither chocolate or amaretto.

From Seed to Sprout is a little out of the way for us to visit on a regular basis, but I wouldn't hesitate to return for a meal if I found myself near the area.


Their mission, to be a "Vegan eatery and juice & smoothie bar specializing in healthy, whole and simple foods." is impressive and admirable.  Everything is made with whole foods & 100% organic ingredients; 100% vegan and preservative free.


You will surely be in good company (the significantly-sized dining room was almost full at 10:30am) at From Seed to Sprout and certainly will not leave under-nourished.