Friday, February 26, 2016

Galentine's and Valentine's Daze

Galentine's Day coincided with a Vegan Shop-up this year; WHAT COULD BE GRANDER?

Because I'm a Vegan Shop-up professional, I generally arrive at Pine Box and try to buy as much as possible before I hand my card over to the bartender for the day and commandeer a stool amongst my pals.

First pass-through: a coveted chocolate raspberry cake from Sweet Maresa, new subway rider handwash from The Fanciful Fox, and mudslide numero uno (highly recommend).

For breakfast, I started off with a rainbow cookie macaron, also from Sweet Maresa: rainbow cookie professional. I expected it to be amazing, but it was actually astounding.

Next up, my Gone Pie buffet.

It was hard to decide, so I chose a couple of things that I'm sure you'll agree were irresistible.
For starters, this:

Nope, I'm not kidding. That's a real, edible, vegan, "loaded Valentine brownie heart." Gluten-free fudge brownie filled with marshmallows and salted peanuts, topped with peanut butter fudge frosting with a layer of pretzels, dry roasted peanuts, more vegan marsmallows, more frosting, and chocolate hearts. #veganscanteatanything

Also snagged a Gone Pie Mexican hot chocolate brownie topped with marshmallow and hearts...

And, finally, a Gone Pie nut buster pecan cluster.


I also picked up this chocolate/strawberry heart specialty from PonyCakesNYC because it's one of VM's favorite combinations.


And just like that it was time for lunch! Thankfully, Sean was there repping Riverdel Cheese. He made me this phenomenal sandwich that a certain numbered dog thought was for her. Then she stole her pal's orange garnish to wash it down.


Pic of said garnish alongside mudslide #2 before it was stolen:

Unpictured, the Freakin Vegans broccoli cheddar empanada and mac & cheese 89 and I devoured per usual.

She conked out somewhere around  mudslide #3.

And then it was Valentine's Day!

Candy! Rose City Chocolates all hazelnut collection:

Flowers! Sterling roses.

This nerd.

Aaaaand, more grub.
Here's that beautifully wrapped Sweet Maresa cake- even more gorgeous up close. 89 thought this was for her as well.


Some poorly lit, but delicious Vegan Treats cookies.

Aaaaaaaand, more cake. I have no idea what specific flavors they were, I can only tell you they were beautiful and chocolatey delicious: both.

For dinner, we went out for more Ethiopian food at Desta where I finally had some of their lentil sambusas and they were the best I've ever had.

Entree one:

Entree two:


I shared a little.

Of course I brought some injera home for 89.

She got a V-day present.

Aaaaaand, tried to eat my candy. What else is new?

Here's hoping your Gal/Val weekend was great!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Valentine Candy from Surf Sweets and TruJoy Sweets (not chocolate!)

Valentine's Day is generally all about the chocolate, but did you know that some people don't like chocolate? IT'S TRUE! Thank goodness Surf Sweets and TruJoy Sweets have this situation under control, including TONS of options for vegans. Yep, you read that right: gummies* for vegans!

Two years ago I was eating Surf Sweets' Valentine's fruity hearts all day every day, but thanks to a generous sample delivery, this week I'm positively swimming in a ton of sweet (and sour) gummy options.

Behold: fruity bears, watermelon rings, peach rings, sour worms, and those yummy fruity hearts. All are VEGAN (!), non-GMO, gluten-free, all or mostly organic, and made in the USA. I still love the hearts, but the fruity bears stole mine because they taste like Chuckles candy. Chuckles are stored in my memory bank as being delicious, but are- in reality, filled with all the yucky stuff that Surf Sweets eschews. The watermelon and peach rings were evenly divided as faves amongst the esteemed tasting panel, and the sour worms were devoured once they found the right home (we're not sour people).

But, wait; there's more! In addition to these goodies from Surf Sweets, I also received a sampling of individually wrapped candy items from TruJoy Sweets (I love individually wrapped candies because I like to fill my pockets with them).

I hesitate to say that the choco chews taste like a dark chocolate version of tootsie rolls, but at least it gives you a point of reference. You can actually see a product comparison on the TruJoy Sweet site if you're interested in seeing in writing what you can already imagine. The fruit chews are absolutely reminiscent of Starburst, another comparison made on the site. And, finally, candy canes- they're not just for Christmas anymore! These pink and mildly peppermint canes certainly blended in with the Valentine aesthetic, but I've been hoarding them because I don't like strong mint flavor and these are just my speed. All are made with organic ingredients, free of corn syrup, no artificial flavors and colors, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher (phew!); you can't go wrong.

Because even I have my limits, I became the traveling candy show- astounding friends, family, and passerby with the vegan goodness I was packing in my OCD individual containers. Note: people think you're a sweetie when you share your sweets; I try to do it as often as possible and you should too!

So, if chocolate isn't necessarily your thing this time of year or any, Surf Sweets & TruJoy Sweets have you covered.

*gummy candy is usually comprised of all kinds of gross stuff that vegans wouldn't touch with 99 1/2 foot pole. Per usual, please read all labels carefully, as not ALL of Surf Sweets are suitable for vegans; those that are clearly state "vegan" on the back of the packaging.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Goodbye, Lula's Sweet Apothecary

If you've been a fan of this blog for any length of time, you probably know that out of all of the ice cream I've consumed since the inception of A (soy) Bean, Lula's Sweet Apothecary has been my demonstrated favorite by a landslide, which is why I dubbed it The Best Ice Cream Shop in the Universe. TBICSITU was not only a fitting description, but it also helped bridge the awkward reference gap between the original Lula's shop 2009 - 2013 and the eventual "Blythe Anne's" 2014 - 2016.

A little known fact that's been hiding in plain sight, unchanged since 2009, is that the proprietor of Lula's, Blythe, had no small part in this blog coming to fruition. More than that, though, is that I came to Lula's in the first place rather out of character- having been suffering through a depression for some time that included not eating very much as an unconscious side effect. There was just something about the promise of all of my childhood (and, let's face it: adulthood) dreams coming to fruition- vegan style, in a quaint but stately little shop in the East Village, that immediately drew me in. More than once I found myself (and, oftentimes my family) sitting outside the shop waiting for 3:00pm when the black curtain would be lifted and the shop opened for business.


Ironically, it was at Lula's counter: first running front to back and then, post renovation, side to side, that I began making friends again. Having lost many when I couldn't be a very good one myself, these friends were the catalyst to my current community, for which I am extraordinarily grateful.

All of this is to say that Blythe Anne's, formerly Lula's, has just shuttered for good and what that means is that we've lost a gem in this vegan world of ours.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tabañero: The Most Flavorful Hot Sauce in the World

As a lover of all things spicy, I didn't hesitate to accept a sample of Tabañero Hot Sauce for review. Imagine my delight when I realized there were actually three varieties to try, referred to as The Fiesta tri-pack. This is my idea of a score, my friends.


Billed as the most flavorful hot sauce in the world, Tabañero's "delicate balance of spice and flavor provides a "kick" but does not burn or overshadow your dish." Having already tried all three, I shall immediately concur without getting ahead of myself. As for "THE MOST FLAVORFUL HOT SAUCE IN THE WORLD" tagline? It makes me giggle because it makes me think of The Most Interesting Man in the World.

disclaimer: I made this and it's probably illegal

Some 'hot' facts they shared with me from the get-go: hot sauce is "one of the most popular food condiments and the fastest growing sectors within the condiment world (now over $1 billion industry)...56% of all households have hot sauce and there are over 150 registered Hot Sauce companies in the U.S. alone." Remember when salsa was killing the game? Psh. Move over, tomatoes; habanero peppers are taking over and it's about time.

Because it's winter here in the northeast (not that it seems so this week), I've been eating a lot of soup. This Amy's Kitchen butternut squash was really mildly spiced, so I punched it up with some Tabañero picante (original) and it was exactly what I was looking for.

Later in the week when I made the ginger peanut squash soup from Vegan Eats World, I doubled the recipe but forgot to double the chilis. Because the peanut butter made the soup extremely mild, it was Tabañero extra hot to the rescue.


The Tabañero agave sweet and spicy is for those friends who, you know, just can't take the heat. For me, I like it when I'm looking for a mix of added flavor and heat, such as on peas (yes, really). It was also perfect on this gem of a sammie (more info on this coming soon).

If you're interested in Tabanero and want to try a bottle, the company is offering- for a limited time, a free bottle; you just pay shipping and handling.

I have all kinds of hot sauce on hand for all sorts of reasons; Tabañero now definitely has a place amongst them in my pantry.