Sunday, August 28, 2016

“Don’t Leave Me” and the Circle V Festival

Moby will be appearing at the first Circle V Festival, “a 100% vegan festival with all proceeds going to mercy for animals,” to be held at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles on October 23, 2016.
says moby, “circle v is the coming together of my life’s work, animal rights and music. i couldn’t be more excited about this event and am so proud to be headlining.”

circle v believes that a future in which animals are granted basic rights is possible if we all act today.
The food at the event looks fantastic.

Grays Peak Vodka and the Cucumber Cooler

Grays Peak, a charcoal-filtered vodka made in Minnesota, is a surprisingly inexpensive choice with a classic flavor. And I love the bottle. I highly recommend the straight vodka, but can’t endorse the flavored varieties – both because I’m not a fan of flavored vodkas and because the lemon bits freeze, which is unpleasant. (I haven’t yet tried the gin, but I’m excited to.)

It’s a good choice for refreshing summer cocktails, like the Cucumber Cooler, which should be a thing. Here’s the recipe from Food and Wine:
In a cocktail shaker, muddle three cucumber slices. Add five to eight fresh mint leaves, an ounce of lime juice, an ounce of St-Germain* and an ounce and a half of vodka. Add ice, shake like crazy, and strain into a tall glass over fresh ice. Add a splash (about an ounce) of club soda on top. Garnish with more cucumber and mint.
* (Also vegan!)

Treeline Treenut Cheese

I’d heard only good things about Treeline. Disappointed with almost all vegan cheeses, I’d become pessimistic, but still held out hope for this artisanal, cashew-based brand given all of the positive reviews I’d read. I finally found it at a nearby Whole Foods (for some reason, they only have it at select stores, but it’s available at several other stores as well; the web site has a useful “Where to Buy” section), picked up a fresh baguette, and couldn’t wait to get back and give it a try.

I was very pleased. Treeline offers two aged cheeses – classic and cracked pepper. The only one available at the store was the cracked pepper. Had I noticed this on the label, I probably wouldn’t have bought it, as I hate pepper. I never season anything with pepper, and generally dislike dishes in which its flavor is detectable. So I wasn’t encouraged when I opened the box and saw the pepper crust. But I have to say…I loved it. Almost makes me think differently about pepper. It had the consistency of a real artisanal cheese, a nice tang, and the pepper gave it just the right bite.

I chose the scallion-flavored soft cheese. It also had a pleasant, authentic texture, and was extremely flavorful. I can’t wait to try the herb-garlic flavor, which is their best seller. These are the first vegan cheeses I’ve tried that I would be happy to serve at a party. I’m also excited to use them in various dishes, and even develop some new recipes around them.

One bit of information of note is the relationship of Treeline to the local New York community where it’s made. From the site’s FAQ:
Where is Treeline Cheese Made?

In the town of Kingston, in New York’s Hudson Valley. Kingston, settled in 1651, was New York’s first capital. Our facility, minutes from the Ulster County Performing Arts Center, is part of an ongoing effort to revitalize one of the city’s distressed downtown neighborhoods.
Second, this Village Voice article from last month provides helpful background about Treeline and founder Michael Schwarz’s philosophy:
Schwarz grew up in South Africa, the son of Annette and Harry Schwarz — an anti-apartheid activist, lawyer, and statesmen. The Schwarzs taught their children that it was completely inadmissible to accept apartheid as the norm. This upbringing left an indelible mark on Schwarz, who later looked back on his childhood with the realization that had he made a different choice, he would have grown into an adult filled with shame. “I think it’s really important to know that you’re doing the right thing,” he tells the Voice. “Especially when you look back on your lot: Did I do the right thing or not?”

“I really believe that future generations will look back on the way we treated animals and abused the environment, and go, ‘What were you people thinking?’ in the same way we look back on our history in South Africa and America and go, ‘What was that about?’” Schwarz explains.
The article also reports that Treeline will soon “start selling at Kroger - the largest grocery chain in the country - which will double the company’s distribution,” and that there are ongoing discussions about expanding to Europe, “where his pitch (‘This is cheese made from cashew nuts’) has invoked more interest and appreciation than incredulity.”

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Recipe: Vegan Dill Dip with Pumpernickel Bread

This was a requisite dish at our family Christmas parties when I was growing up. It was generally placed next to the punch for ease of hovering. I’ve brought my veganized version to two parties this year, and it’s been a hit both times (at one, the hosts secretly held some back to use as a spread on bagels the next morning). I haven’t been able to find this exact recipe online, so I don’t know where it originally came from.

At our Christmas parties, the dip was served in a bowl carved out of a pumpernickel round. This always struck me as wasteful – much of the bread becomes soggy, and that bread and dip isn’t eaten. The rounds can also be hard to find. So I prefer to serve it in a bowl surrounded by cubed/squared pumpernickel bread.

Here’s the dip recipe:

• 3 cups vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti Better than Sour Cream)

• 3 cups vegan mayonnaise (I use Original Vegenaise)

• 4 tsp. dill weed

• 4 tsp. beau monde (Spice Islands is the only brand I know of that makes it, so wherever sells Spice Islands spices should have it)

• 4 tbsp. onion flakes

• 4 tbsp. parsley flakes

Just stir it all together in a big bowl. The key is letting it sit in a covered dish in the refrigerator overnight so the onion flakes soften and the flavors meld.

So good.

by CHLOE. (New York, NY)

I’ve probably used Chloe Coscarelli’s more than any other cookbook, so I was excited to learn last year that she would be opening a restaurant in Manhattan. By all indications, it’s been a smashing success. In addition to the original Bleecker Street location (to which she’ll be adding a sweet shop), she recently opened one in the Flatiron district, and will soon be opening a third Manhattan location in SoHo, two in Boston, and another in Los Angeles.

Pretty much the only negative comments in the reviews I read of the original Bleecker location concerned the crowds and long lines, so I was happy to be able to try the new Flatiron shop shortly after it opened and before word got out. Even so, it filled up quickly and the line was steady the entire time we were there. Despite the heavy traffic and the restaurant’s small size, it was an airy and cheerful place for a bite. Everything was her style – cute and lighthearted but professionally done. And casual, good vegan restaurants are exactly what New York has needed.

My friend had the guac burger and a Hostess-style cupcake. She raved about them, telling people that if she lived in Manhattan she would eat at by CHLOE. every day. I liked that the burger, which came in a cute little bag, was just the right size; unwieldy and messy sandwiches are irritating. I had the trendy smashed avocado toast, which perfectly hit the spot, the decadent mac & cheese with shitake bacon, and a perfect cookie. I, too, would happily eat there every day.

I was sorry not to have noticed the pupcakes and bags o’ dog bones before I’d ordered and the line behind me grew. Next time. Oh – there’s also a by Chloe. blog, with a helpful travel section.

Ethos Vegan Kitchen! (Winter Park, FL)

The intent of Ethos is as follows: 1) to improve the diversity of vegan cuisine offerings in the Central Florida area, 2) to provide good food at a reasonable price in a comfortable atmosphere, and, 3) to showcase the variety, freshness, and flavor of vegan dining.
I’ve wanted to write about Ethos Vegan Kitchen for several months now, and it fully deserves to be the subject of my first post here. I simply adore this place. The food is fantastic. The people are friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. The atmosphere is relaxed and positive.

I was surprised to find so many vegan options in the Orlando area. (Several seem to be grouped around the beautiful Rollins College campus, so that’s probably a hopeful sign.) Ethos looks like the most popular among a competitive group, and for good reason.

In my pre-vegan life, my favorite meal - and death-row choice - was tortellini in a cream sauce. I hadn’t found anything of the sort since I became a vegan (vegan ravioli is easy enough to find, but oddly not tortellini). So when I was comparing Orlando vegan restaurant menus and saw Ethos’ Tortellini Florentine, I was immediately sold.

And the dish exceeded my wildest expectations. So much so, in fact, that I have little more to review, since I had the same dish the next and unfortunately last time I was able to make it back before I left Florida. We did also have the vegetable galette, which was delicious; a very nice flight of wines; and several absurdly good peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. I would love to try virtually every item on the menu.

The whole baked-goods section looked amazing. The menu clearly indicates their gluten- and soy-free options. They also have a kids’ menu, a Saturday and Sunday jazz/funk brunch, and an easily navigable, informative, and regularly updated web site (a rarity among restaurants).

To add to the allure, the restaurant is within walking distance of the marvelous Morse Museum, which holds the world’s largest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and the walk takes you down Park Avenue, Winter Park’s shopping district, and by Central Park. As we strolled along and through the park, a trio played classical music. Winter Park is a great place for a day trip, and any visit should include a stop at Ethos Vegan Kitchen.