Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Taste of LIC

Total yum took over this year's Taste of LIC, held at Gantry State Plaza Park in Queens. If you've never been, it's a great reason to get the hell outa Manhattan! Attendees got a real taste of all the neighborhood had to offer, and long-time LIC residents even found new faves.

Tasting events, for a vegetarian, are a crapshoot, in my book- you either find lots of options at a tasting, or you're stuck wondering why you bothered paying money for side dishes. (if you're lucky!) But I was familiar with a number of the restaurants in the neighborhood, and figured I'd take the chance and hope I found even more goodies that I could eat.

And did I ever- I'm surprised I was rolled out of the tent. Some veggie highlights:

- From Manducatis Rustica- savory spinach and goat cheese (or at least I think) quiches and their famous gelato varieties. One of my fave places!

- Masso- I've been here before and found the food rather bland and uninspiring, but I'll give 'em props here for serving up tomato-basil tart and crostini with chickpea puree and parmesan- not sure why these were tastier at the event than at the resto, but these sure were filling!

- Manetta's Ristorante- a creamy slice of veggie lasagna was the beginning of my end, and their fab berry panna cotta was that delicious end.

- Bantry Bay Publick House- I had no idea this Greenpoint Avenue place existed, and now I know they've got solid mac & cheese and sweet potato fries- bar food actually CAN be good!

-  Breadbox Cafe- Offerings were super basic- mini bagel sandwiches. I might've normally skipped over a mini bagel with scallion cream cheese and tomatoes at a tasting event, but after a bite of the chewy and fluffy bagel, I know where I'll be purchasing my bagels in the future!

- Tuk Tuk- Almost all of their offerings were vegetarian- kudos to Tuk Tuk! I noshed on wonderfully light and fresh summer vegetable rolls and Thai vegetable noodles.

- Tom Cat Bakery- this might be the most delicious brownie I've ever had. Ever. Seriously. Perfectly rich and fudgy and not particularly messy to eat either. Heaven! Tom Cat does not have a storefront, but they do deliver to LIC's own Food Cellar market (fantastic scones and ciabatta bread!) as well as Dean & Deluca and Fairway.

On a mildly amusing note, Sage General Store's offerings all contained bacon- even the brownies. I'll say it once and I'll say it again, I just don't understand the foodie bacon trend of putting bacon in everything. If I wanted extra fat in my brownie, I'd add a scoop of ice cream. Anywho, this lady working at the booth says that although the brownie has bacon, it's still vegetarian, because some "vegetarian" she knows eats bacon. "Actually ma'am, I'm pretty sure that your friend is not a real vegetarian. Have a nice day."

My previous post on vegans working for a vegan place comes to mind... anyone who thinks that some fatty, smoky pork is vegetarian is someone I probably don't want serving my food.

On another note, you know what's awesomely vegetarian? Sangria- come on, you get a serving of fruit in your booze! And though La Vuelta on 44th Drive didn't serve any veggie options at the tasting, they had some mighty tasty sangria, which I found out is only $3 during happy hour.

Tasting events are not only good for discovering new restos, but new places to drink- score!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Required: Vegan?

So I'm a bit late with this headline, but this definitely caught my attention- is it discrimination to require a job candidate be vegan? At a vegan cafe, I think the line between discrimination and "well, fair 'nuff" gets blurred.

As I read on Eater.com, the Portland, OR bakery Sweetpea Baking Company had to change their barista job listing because of some internet backlash on requiring their candidate to be vegan. Sure, it could possibly be discrimination if the candidate was quite knowledgeable on vegan diets and lifestyle (i.e. used to be vegan, married to a vegan, etc). But if you're not vegan, chances are you're a bit clueless on these matters- and in matters of business, why wouldn't you hire the most knowledgeable candidate for the job? I mean, you wouldn't hire an amateur food blogger to take the head chef position at Per Se, right?

Discrimination- maybe. But guess what: for all the times I've been annoyed that some bored barista made my drink with regular milk when I asked for soy milk or dealt with a server who couldn't understand why I sent my meal back when my veggies were obviously grilled in the same greasy pan as their meat dish, I think the PC police should just shut up and worry about issues that are truly discriminatory.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

June Events

Check out veg foodie and health events in June!

Sunday, June 6th

Egg Rolls and Egg Creams- 12pm to 4pm at the Museum on Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge Street btwn. Canal and Division Streets, free. Bringing two cultures together, one tasty treat at a time. At this annual block party, which celebrates both the Chinese and Jewish roots of the neighborhood, you'll taste not only egg rolls and egg creams, but learn how to make challah too!

Tuesday, June 8th

Sustainable Planet Film Festival- noon to 6pm at Gabarron Foundation, 149 E. 38th Street, $100 for festival passes. A film festival promoting sustainable development, it's also a venue for filmmakers and non-profits to come together and discuss sustainable solutions.

Green Drinks NYC- 7pm to 9pm at Solar One, 2420 FDR Drive at E. 23rd Street, $20 at door. The monthly meetup for green minded individuals features a presentation by Green Mountain Energy as well organic snack, drinks, and speed networking!

Taste of LIC- 6:30pm to 8:30pm at Gantry Plaza State Park, $50 at door. This isn't an exclusively vegetarian or eco event, but with lots of restaurants, bakeries, and bars reppin' in LIC, there are bound to be plenty of goodies for vegetarians. Plus, as an LIC resident, this gantry spot with beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline is worth leaving Manhattan for!

Friday, June 11th through Sunday, June 13th

Yoga and Raw Food Expo- all day at the Hotel New Yorker, 481 8th Avenue, $35/weekend. A weekend of speakers, exhibits, and workshops devoted to all things yoga related and everything raw, including raw and organic products and cooking demos.

Through Saturday, June 19th

Jonathan Horowitz "Go Vegan" Art Exhibit- at Gavin Brown's Enterprise, 620 Greenwich Street, free. This exhibit is a restaging of the artist's widely acclaimed 2002 exhibition. Featuring video installations, celebrity and animal portraits and a "Minimalist tofu sculpture", this sounds like an exhibit that every veg should see and support!

Ongoing from Saturday, June 19th

Edible Garden at the New York Botanical Gardens- Bronx, NY.  The summer-long exhibition is back and runs through October 17th. Garden exhibitions, cooking demos, celebrity chef audio tours, and festival weekends featuring those celebrity chefs will leave you hungry for more...  and for some fresh veggies, of course.

Monday, June 21st through Sunday, June 27th

"What's Organic about Organic?" Screening- 7pm to 9pm at HERE, Dorothy B. Williams Theater, 145 6th Avenue, $10 online.What happens when a grassroots movement goes international? That's what this film seeks to answer. Each screening is followed with a Q&A and panel discussion. Sounds fascinating!

Tuesday, June 22nd

World's Largest Yoga Event- 6pm at the Great Lawn in Central Park, free- This needs no other explanation. Join thousands of other yogis and do your downward dog instead of walking your dog in Central Park.

Wednesday, June 23rd through Sunday, June 27th

4th Annual NYC Food Film Festival- various times and locations; check website for full lineup. The festival that not only brings you film, but the food that goes with the films! Lots of shorts are, of course, devoted to non-vegetarian things, but there's always something to snack on and it's always a good time.

Sunday, June 27th

New Amsterdam Market- 11am to 4pm on South Street between Beekman St and Peck Slip. The expansive New Amsterdam Market is back! Expect fruit, veggies, bread, and a variety of purveyors of imported and local food. Yum.

The Unfancy Food Show 2010- 12pm to 5pm at the Bell House, 147 7th Street, Brooklyn, $5. When your event logo mimics a can of PBR, you know you're in Brooklyn. Less gourmet but in no way less delicious, this event offers up goodies from Sullivan Street Bakery, McClure's Pickles, Liddabit Sweets, Anarchy in a Jar, and Rooftop Farms.

Sunday, June 27th through Tuesday, June 29th

New York Fancy Food Show- at the Jacob Javits Center, 655 W. 34th Street, $60 for 3 days. Foodgasms? You'll find them here. An expansive array of gourmet exhibitors along with tastings, cooking classes, and tours.

Ongoing Fridays

Free Bike Fridays on Governors Island- borrow a bike (for free!) for up to an hour to explore Governors Island. Bring a soccer ball, a picnic lunch, and some friends with you, and you've got a full day of activity!

Ongoing Sundays

Free Kayaking in Red Hook- 1pm to 5pm at Valentino Pier, Ferris & Coffey Street, BK- Foodie related? No. But are health and fun involved. Hells yes. Besides, you'll have an excuse to visit all those yummy Red Hook restos you've been meaning to... you have been meaning to, right?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Meat is For Pussies

No, that title is not just a generalization on how I feel about meat. It's actually the name of a new book.

Meat is For Pussies, by John Joseph takes a different approach to bringing your attention to what you eat, ya know, as opposed to everything else nowadays that ends in "ista." (sorry, this trend is MOST annoying!) According to a review on the Grub Street site- which I won't call a review, because the writer hadn't actually read the book- the tome uses meathead (forgive the pun!) mentality to rationalize going veg.

If the title doesn't bring in the boys, hopefully the content will. I'm intrigued, I admit, so I think I'll need to check this out soon!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Health Headlines

Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you're just as concerned about healthy eating as I am. Here are a few articles I've been reading this past week that are worth taking a look at!

Menus Still Calorie-Laden Despite New Laws- this is disappointing to hear. You'd think that with laws requiring restaurants to place calorie content for all to see would be incentive to add lower calories meals to their menu. Apparently that's not the case. It's time for consumers to step up and demand lower calorie meals at their fave chains, or eat elsewhere.

Eat Your Vegetables, But Not Too Many- as with any food, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

How To Stop Eating Processed Food- There's more to it than the catchy title, "Real Food Has Curves." Gaining weight isn't just about overeating; it's also about eating too many processed foods, which can be difficult in some supermarkets. The article gives some tips on what to look for (and avoid!) when grocery shopping.

No Evidence Organic Foods Benefit Health- Sounds like more longer-term studies need to be done on this matter, rather than the shorter term studies that have been completed. According to some of these studies, organic foods and conventional foods do not differ in terms of nutrient content and increased antioxidant activity.

The Hard Sell on Salt- We all know too much salt is linked to high blood pressure and Americans consume all too much of it (see above, "How to Stop Eating Processed Food"). So when the salt reduction campaigns start, go figure, that's when Big Food starts fighting back. This interesting read gives some history of the addition of salt to our beloved processed foods, like Corn Flakes and Eggo waffles, and companies' responses to lowering salt in their "foods." Damn you, Big Food!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Good Eats on Memorial Day!

Orange people by the beach? Toto, I don't think we're in New York City anymore.

The Jersey Shore is probably more well known for guidos with Oompa Loompa skin and steroid fueled fist pumps, and alas, there's plenty of that in Seaside Heights and Ortley Beach (I had to forgo giggles for my own safety- the dude in front of me in a burrito place could've kicked Arnold Schwarzenegger's ass... like, 1970s Schwarzenegger, not the Governator)

But for the last two Memorial Days, I've been lucky enough where we've largely avoided that crowd and simply enjoyed the sand and the waves on quiet beaches, this year on Long Beach Island. Those loud, gold chain adorned folk were largely absent, though there were plenty of laid back families with boogie boards lining up at old-fashioned ice cream parlors on the main drag. It felt like stepping back about 30, 40 years ago, and it felt great!

"And what does your beach weekend have to do with your blog, Friendly Veg?" Aha, my fabulous readers, have I got a resto to share with you! If you think you'd be stuck in LBI with just burger and ice cream shacks, you're wrong.

Looks pretty damn good, doesn't it? It's the mesquite seitan strips with jicama, scallions, and pineapple salsa at Plantation. Plantation is as close to an upscale restaurant that you could find in a beach neighborhood-  by my logic, they'd have to be relatively accommodating to a vegetarian.

My instincts were right- we found an entire vegetarian/vegan menu outside of the regular menu (though you need to ask for it). This was better than finding a prime spot on the beach! With salads, chili marinated tofu, pineapple fried rice, fresh vegetable quesadillas and more, it was tough to decide on just one appetizer and one entree! The mesquite seitan strips were wonderfully crisp and sweet, and were perfectly complemented by the fresh, crunchy jicama. And the strips were delicious on their own and with the pineapple salsa, with neither overwhelming the flavor of the other. As an entree, I went with the recommendation of a fellow diner across from us (see, vegetarians are everywhere!) and chose the sweet potato enchiladas over black beans and corn salsa with crema and cheddar (though if you wanted to make it vegan, I'm sure they'd omit the cheese and crema). Though I found the enchilada stuffing a bit bland- the mashed sweet potato was devoid of any south of the border spices or other veggies- it was easy to open up the enchilada and add the mild black bean and corn salsa, scallions, and crema. This blend of flavors and textures was great, and as a huge fan of sweet potatoes, I'll be recreating this dish at home.

Because it's hard to resist a slice of key lime pie when on a beach vacation, Plantation offers up an unusually thick, creamy version of the dessert... and of course, I didn't resist. It was so decadent that it was impossible to finish, but delightfully sweet and tart nonetheless.

Price-wise, you'll pay more at Plantation than you would at some of the other local restos, but here, it's clearly worth it. With it's Southern manor home feel, with heavy shutters and old fashioned hanging lamps above the tables, Plantation takes you away from the typical, casual (and meat heavy) beach dining. And if that means being whisked away from greasy stands, then by all means, let's go on a vacation within a vacation.

Plantation, 7908 Long Beach Blvd, LBI, NJ, (609) 494-8191