Thursday, October 29, 2009

World Go Vegan Week

I'm a little late in posting this, but as vegans probably already know, this is the 4th Annual World Go Vegan Week!

World Go Vegan Week runs from October 25th through October 31st... and it's a great reason to host a delish vegan dinner for non-veg pals, or check your favorite veggie/vegan restaurant to see if they're offering any specials this week!

Go Veg!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kolache Mama

Definitely not your Czech grandmother's kolache. The traditional Eastern European savory pastry gets revamped at Kolache Mama in Midtown- with fillings like Spinach, Feta, and Olives, and Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil, you've got some fun, NYC-style stuffings.

Vegans beware: there are no vegan fillings offered, and the dough doesn't taste vegan either. Vegetarians will find a separate Veggie Mama menu with the aforementioned fillings above, as well as a Sweetie Mama menu with dessert kolaches like Cherry Crumble and Chocolate Ganache.

At $2.99 a pop, or 2 for $5, they're a quick, easy meal when you're dashing around midtown. But outside of that, Kolache Mama isn't anything special. As I visited Kolache Mama after work, the kolaches had been sitting there all day and were microwaved to slightly warm them- granted, this might be bad timing, but I was unimpressed. The pre-filled kolache stuffings were dry, and were just spooned into the roll- they're not quite stuffed throughout the roll, as they're advertised. The heavy white flour dough is slightly sweetened, and at first mediocre bite, you know that little kolache isn't doing anything to help you stay in those skinny jeans.

If you're still intrigued by Kolache Mama, try to visit during the day, as I'm sure the kolaches are much fresher, though still medicore. If you're looking for a quick, cheap bite after work, save your $5!


Kolache Mama, 45 E. 45th Street, between Vanderbilt and Madison Aves, 212-922-1856

Monday, October 26, 2009

OMG Cupcakes

Free delivery of VEGAN cupcakes? OMG indeed!

Check out OMG Cupcakes, a recent startup by a mother/daughter team with a mantra of "a bakery where everyone could eat something." Which is certainly a welcome change if you're vegan. In addition to your garden-variety cupcakes, OMG makes vegan AND gluten-free cupcakes with sinful sounding names like Agave Vanilla, Caliente Hot Chocolate, Maple Cinnamon, and Red Velvet with Marzipan Hearts. Yum!

At $3.50 each, they're not cheaper than any other cupcakes in the city, but at least you're not being overcharged because they're a vegan/gluten-free specialty. You can order vegan OMG Cupcakes online; they're also found at Cafe 1 (140th and Amsterdam), ELM Natural Foods (1st Ave and 88th Street) and Bruno Ravioli Specialty Foods (2nd Ave between 23rd and 24th Streets).

Forget Halloween candy, I know what I'm noshing on later this week!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yummy Thanksgiving Veg Recipes

The vegetarian Thanksgiving feature immediately caught my eye while reading through the final issue of Gourmet magazine that arrived in my mailbox yesterday *tisk*

Pick one up at your local newsstand for some delish sounding recipes like Vegetarian Shepard's Pie (made with seitan), sauteed green beans and brussels sprouts with chile and mint, and even a vegan chocolate cheesecake, which I'm all too eager to try out!

Gourmet.com also features a number of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes from past issues, but be sure to save 'em or print 'em out before the site is shut down!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Riverview Cafe

Have you ever walked by a cafe or restaurant near your home or job and thought, "I really should try that place sometime" and then a year later, you realize you've still never made that reservation?

Riverview Restaurant/Lounge in Long Island City is that restaurant for me. It's always on the way home, and though I've checked out the menu, I still kept walking. On the last night of Queens Restaurant Week and its $25 three-course prix fixe menus, I decided it was about time I picked up the phone and made that reservation.

It tries to be a lounge and restaurant all at once, and it actually does a decent job- the lounge section is towards the front of the space, and with tall decorative walls and cushy seats separating the lounge and the cafe, Riverview does a great job of keeping the loud music away from diners' conversations and in the lounge where it belongs. Drinks were unimpressive at Manhattan prices, but with plenty of offerings for their Restaurant Week menu- my pals and I were able to select from half of their regularly offered appetizers and entrees, a much wider variety than the usual two or three selections given during Manhattan's Restaurant Week- I was willing to let the drink list slide.

I ordered Riverview's soup of the day, a vegetarian butternut squash, and the perfectly creamy soup hit the spot after coming in from the cold. For my entree, I chose a hearty vegetarian risotto. Riverview was very generous with their risotto- not only in overall portion size, but in the amount of tender mushrooms and asparagus in the risotto. With just the right amount of herbs that didn't take away from the fresh veggies in the risotto, I'm only half ashamed to say I cleaned my large plate. Dessert was also a delicious surprise. Tiramisu can vary so much between restaurants, but Riverview's was delightfully firm, the savoiardi not completely soaked in espresso, and the mascarpone was lightly sweetened and amazingly fluffy. Too good for words!

Outside of Restaurant Week, Riverview reflects Manhattan prices instead of Queens, but since the restaurant is extending their extensive Restaurant Week menu through the end of October, you need only take the 7 train one stop into Queens for an outer borough treat.

Riverview Restaurant/Lounge, 2-01 50th Avenue, Long Island City, 718-392-5000


Sunday, October 11, 2009

SWEET

I wish the pictures on my camera phone were better lit so I could at least show you the amazing variety of desserts at this weekend's Food Network Wine and Food Festival.

The lucky girl that I am, I signed up to volunteer at the festival and was assigned to the SWEET event, a dessert version of the festival's Grand Tasting. Featuring a champagne room, a Kahlua bar, and samples of decadent treats from high-end restos, like chocolate-covered olive oil gelato balls from Del Posto and sweet goat cheese mousse with raspberry gelee from Park Avenue Autumn, to more commercial names and their dessert offerings, like samples of chocolate truffles from event sponsor Godiva and pomegranate baklava from beverage maker POM. Vegans were even treated to chocolate chip cookies from Babycakes. I, for one, shared a giggle with another volunteer about how all the model-wannabe men working for Godiva apeared way too slender to be working for a chocolatier!

Taking tickets at the door was a small, but sweet, price to pay for free admission and so many wonderful desserts. If you've got a serious sweet tooth, this event is a must for you next year!

And, if you can't wait until then, the Chocolate Show is the last weekend of October :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kaese Spaetzle



Sausage and schnitzels and wieners, oh my! Oktoberfest isn't the most vegetarian friendly of foreign food feasts. As vegetarians, you already know that you've got to do your own version of pre-gaming before going to an Oktoberfest party, because what are the chances that you'll have anything more than pretzels and pickles to munch on?

But wait! A less commonly known Oktoberfest dish is the decadent German version of mac and cheese: kaese spaetzle. I was inspired by the fabulous version served at Zum Schneider on Avenue C, and in the throes of a kaese spaetzle fix, I bought a bag of dried spaetzle and a bag of shredded gruyere and swiss cheeses fondue mix at Grand Central Market- it was quick to prepare and equally delish, but if you like, you can also make your own spaetzle with a colander or a spaetzle plane. I've included a spaetzle recipe below. Bring this along to your next beer bash and watch how quickly everyone abandons that rubbery sausage and watery sauerkraut.

Prost!


The Whats:

For the spaetzle:

* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 3 large eggs
* 3/4 cup milk
* 1 tsp. salt
* 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

* 3 tbsp. olive oil (you can also use butter or soy butter, if you prefer)
* 2 cups shredded Emmentaler cheese, or use your fave fondue mix.
* 1 medium onion, diced
* optional: 3 strips of veggie bacon, crumbled
* 1 tsp. nutmeg (if using packaged spaetzle)
* salt & pepper to taste
* several slices of day old baguette, crushed into breadcrumbs


The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a small baking pan.

2) If making homemade spaetzle: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and nutmeg. Add flour and mix until a thick, sticky batter forms. Place a colander with large holes over the pot of water and using a spatula, press the dough, cup by cup, through the colander directly into the water. Cook spaetzle until the noodles rise to the surface and remove with a slotted spoon; transfer to a bowl. Mix in one cup of cheese. If using dried spaetzle, cook according to directions on package, then transfer to bowl and mix in one cup of cheese and nutmeg.

3) In a large skillet, heat olive oil or butter; add onions and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until browned; if using veggie bacon, add about halfway through cooking the onions so that that the crumbles do not burn.

4) Stir in spaetzle, remaining cheese, salt, and pepper into the skillet until well-blended; add the spaetzle and onion mix to the prepared baking dish and cover with fresh breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until breadcrumbs are crisp and cheese bubbles. Serve hot.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Goodbye Gourmet

Could it really be that food media institution Gourmet is shutting down?

According to Conde Nast, plummeting ad sales have forced the closure of Gourmet, along with parent magazine Cookie and Modern Bride. Newer in-house rival food mag, Bon Appetit, will continue to publish; the last issue of Gourmet, which has been turning out issues since 1940, will be cease publication in November.

It may not have been VegNews or Vegetarian Times, but I still found a lot of inspiration in that magazine, especially with their beautiful food photography and well-rounded selection of articles. Be sure to pick up that November issue, I'm sure it will be a good one!

Agua Dulce

As soon as the perfectly spicy habanero margarita emerged from the bar, I knew I'd be in good hands.

Granted, a resto can have a great bar and not-so-great food, but I had a good feeling that I'd have at least a couple solid veggie options available at Agua Dulce, a new trendy Latin eatery in Hells Kitchen.

Though none of the entrees were vegetarian, my server was happy to make my salad an entree... which more than made up for the rather bland guacamole we started out with. With plenty of frisee, some asparagus tips, chayote (a Mexican squash in the gourd family), and some thin slices of Roncal cheese, my salad was a well balanced mix of salty, sweet, and crunchy, and it was a perfect complement to the gentle heat of the habenero margarita. Kudos to the kitchen for being flexible! Also worth sampling while you're there: large, gently battered yucca fries and crispy potatoes with a paprika aioli on top of them.

Did I mention sampling a margarita while you're at it?

Agua Dulce, 802 Ninth Avenue between 53rd and 54th Street, 212-262-1299

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mayor: Baked Sales Banned

Also in the Times' dining news, it's been announced by Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Education that bake sales are effectively banned from NYC public schools during lunch hours in another effort to cut excess fat and sugar from students' diets. This rule is part of the same wellness policy that stipulates what can be sold in school vending machines and in student-run stores.

When about 40% of the city's elementary and middle school students are obese- yeah, I thought that was a depressing statistic too- this sort of action makes perfect sense. But since NYC schools have little funding for team sports and after-school activities to begin with, taking away bake sales makes it that much more difficult to raise the extra cash needed for trips or new uniforms. I'm a bit torn on this one, honestly.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More on School Lunches...

A few entries earlier, I posted the link to a Good.is graphic on the nutritional value of a traditional school lunch and a healthier version of that lunch tray. With that in the back of my mind, I felt cheered after reading an article in this week's dining section of the New York Times about actual cooking at M.S. 137 in Ozone Park, Queens.

As those of us who endured hot lunches at school already know, school kitchens are equipped to reheat pre-packaged lunches, and not cook real food. According to the article, more than 80% of school districts in the U.S. cook fewer than half of their entrees from scratch, so here's to hoping that M.S. 137 is leading a new trend where, as it's kitchen manager simply states, "if you would not eat it yourself, don't serve it." I wish my NYC alma maters had a salad bar and a curry station, which are popular in this school... proving once again that if you give kids edible, healthy options, they will take them.

October Events Calendar

There's so many happenings this month and I couldn't bear to leave any out! Behold, an extensive October calendar of events:


Sunday, October 4th

Ninth Annual NYC Pickle Day- in the parking lot on Broome Street between Ludlow and Essex. An LES street festival fave, pickle places from across the city (The Pickle Guys), upstate New York (Grey Mouse Farms in Saugerties), and the world (picked mangoes from Kalustyan's and kimchi from Korean Agro-Trade Corporation!) present pickling demos, costumes, and of course, plenty of pickles to sample and purchase.

2009 Walk for Farm Animals- registration begins at 10am, walk begins at noon; meet at Merchants Gate at Central Park West and 59th Street. This annual walk, organized by Farm Sanctuary, helps raise funds and awareness of the plight of farm animals in the U.S. If for some crazy reason that this noble cause isn't enough to get you going on a Sunday morning, then come for vegan goodies, raffles, and to see Joy Askew perform!

Ecofest 2009- 11am to 6pm in Central Park, free. An all-day, outdoor eco festival featuring an eco-fashion show, yoga workshops, an energy efficient vehicle demo, games for children, and some Pete Seeger!


Monday, October 5th through Thursday, October 15th

Discover Queens Restaurant Week- see website for full list of participating restaurants. Prix fixe meals cost just $25 at a variety of restaurants all through Queens, including Cavo in Astoria, Cascarino's in Bayside, Delhi Palace in Jackson Heights, and Tournesol in Long Island City. I'll be more than happy to support my borough's local dining scene!


Wednesday October 7th

Vegetarian Hors D'oeuvres Everyone Will Love- 6pm to 9pm at the Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Center, 95 E. Houston Street, $55. A hands-on demo where you'll take away some tips and recipes that will wow your carnivorous pals at your next party.


Thursday, October 8th through Sunday October 11th

Food Network's New York City Wine and Food Festival- various locations throughout Chelsea. Though the smaller events boasting Food Network celebrity chef demos sold out over a month ago, there's still opportunities to check out a wine making class, a vegan culinary demo by Alicia Silverstone, the Grand Tasting as well as their dessert expo, SWEET. Though tickets can be pricey, proceeds go to the Food Bank of New York and Share our Strength... and more selfishly, alcohol, celeb mingling, and lots of eating.


Friday, October 9th
Tofu 101 with Peter Berley
- 7pm to 9pm at the Whole Foods Bowery Culinary Center, 95 E. Houston Street, $25. Author of The Flexitarian Table, Berley demos how to cook silken/soft, firm, and extra firm tofu, followed by a tasting of some delicious tofu treats.


Sunday, October 11th

1st Annual Brooklyn Bakeoff
- from 1 to 4pm at East River Bar, 97 S. 6th Street in Williamsburg, $20 tix. Benefiting New York Cares is one of the best reasons to check out this new food competition out, along with entry categories like "Sexiest Baker" and "Best Green Goodies"- there's bound to even be some vegan goodies here as well!


Tuesday, October 13th

Green Drinks NYC-
6pm to 10pm at Gospel Uptown, 2110 7th Ave/Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, $15 at the door. A new twist for the monthly eco meetup- gospel music!


Friday, October 16th

Farm Sanctuary Dinner Night at Blossom- 187 Ninth Avenue. Dine at Blossom or at their Upper West Side outpost, Cafe Blossom, and a portion of your tab will go to benefit Farm Sanctuary, which aids in animal rescue and educating the public about the plight of farm animals.


Wednesday, October 21st

The Green Salon- 5:30pm at Klavierhaus, 211 W. 58th Street, $20 tax deductible admission. Part of an ongoing discussion series on energy efficiency, tonight's theme is socially responsible investing... because sometimes, when doing the right thing isn't enough, money will always be there to cement the message. An interesting topic, for sure!


Sunday, October 25th

New Amsterdam Market-
11am to 4pm at South Street Seaport between Beekman Street and Peck Slip. It's like the ultimate farmer's market. With over 80 vendors that sell directly from their farms or wineries, you'll find some of the best in local, fresh produce along with cheeses, jams, pickles, olive oils, and even popsicles.


Tuesday, October 27th

Fowl Play Screening presented by Mercy For Animals- 7pm to 9pm at the Downtown Community Television Center, 87 Lafayette Street. A free screening of the award-winning documentary Fowl Play, in which a group of activists sets out to expose the factory farming of chickens, and the real truth about cage-free eggs. An eye-opener, for sure, and the opportunity to learn more about the mission of animal activist group, Mercy for Animals. RSVP to LydiaC@mercyforanimals.org.


Wednesday, October 28th

2nd Annual Taste of the Greenmarket- 6pm to 10pm at Studio 450, 450 W. 31st Street, $150 advance tickets. An event so nice, they're doing it twice. Some of New York City's culinary giants gather for a locavore-inspired tasting, using ingredients from the Greenmarket. In addition to fresh, delicious cuisine, all proceeds go to the Greenmarket's Youth Education Project, which allows NYC kids to experience regional farming and eating locally produced food.


Thursday, October 29th


VeganDrinks- 7pm to 9pm at Angels & Kings, 500 E. 11th Street. A monthly social networking event with drink specials and vegans galore!

Rockin Out for Farm Animals II- 7pm at Kenny's Castaways, 157 Bleecker Street, $10 at the door. Also organized by Farm Sanctuary, this fundraising concert features Debra from Devi, HERE, and Athena Reich. Proceeds benefit Farm Sanctuary's animal rescue.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Walk for Farm Animals


Be sure to check out the Farm Sanctuary Walk for Farm Animals this Sunday, October 4th, and help out a good cause!

October 1st- World Vegetarian Day

Happy World Vegetarian Day! Whether you're an out of the closet veg, or just soy-curious, make a pledge for Vegetarian Awareness month to go vegetarian for one week in October- you'll be surprised by how good you feel and how satisfied you can be with meat-free dishes!

As always, I'll be posting delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes all month- and with the weather sadly turning cooler every day, I'll include some hearty, warming recipes too. Stay tuned for more veggie events and ways to do your part in helping animals and the earth through vegetarianism.

Cheers!