Philly Vegan Restaurant Week

Last week I was lucky enough to pig out at six different restaurants offering special menu items for Philly Vegan Restaurant Week. I remember when we lived in Dallas there was one restaurant during restaurant week that offered a vegan meal and we jumped on it. I remember enjoying it, but it was nothing like the smorgasbord I enjoyed last week.

The first night I participated was Monday and it was the kickoff event at Tattooed Mom’s. Luckily we arrived at 6:00 to eat before a vegan bake sale because they ran out of the special sandwich! A picnic fried chick’n sammy.

At the bake sale we scored air-fried Oreos and a piece of cake. Yummers!

Tuesday evening we arrived at Miss Rachel’s Pantry at 4:50, it opens at 5:00, and we were one of the last people that got her BBQ plate! She made 110 and we ate about 5:45.

Wednesday we had dinner with one of the organizers at Soy Cafe. It was amazeballs with bruschetta over dried sweet potato, stuffed shells, and tiramisu. I’m drooling while remembering!

Thursday we made it to Front Street Cafe and were overwhelmed by the options. Many were from their regular menu, but we had never been, so all was new to us. I can’t remember everything, but we started with heirloom tomato focaccia, shared a giant kale Cesar salad and Mac n Cheese, then I had spaghetti squash with black bean balls and hubby had a noodle dish. The meal ended with mango flan and carrot cake.

Friday was one of the best meals experienced and was at Pumpkin. This restaurant does not normally have a vegan option, but they saw the event advertising and wanted to be part of the week. Wow am I glad they were. So Yummers!

The last night we made our way to Avenue Cup Cafe for baked ziti. Again, no disappointments.

What an incredible week. This was the first time Philly had a vegan restaurant week and I’m already excited for next year. Even the mission is beautiful.

In addition to a couple pop-up dinners, 31 restaurants participated and most are not fully vegan places. If coming to Philly for a visit, this is the week to make it happen.


Philly Vegan Pop Flea and Announcement

A Power of Color Market happened in Philadelphia yesterday. It was great fun!

There were so many fun things to try and talk about.

This was my first Pop Flea and I was not disappointed. They happen about once a month is different locations through Philadelphia and the suburbs. I came home with all these fun things:

There were fewer food vendors compared to the Vegan Shop-ups in NYC, but I got nachos, mac n cheese, and a cookie from Soy Cafe and brought home some of the nacho nut cheese.

Now for the announcement… hubby and I have moved to Philly! More fun stuff from Philly forthcoming. Woo hoo!

Here are closeups of the fun things I picked up at the Pop Flea from Fili Kale, Soap by Alana, Empress Wholistics, and Live Decent.

Bryant Park’s Winter Village 2017 NYC

In 2016 the organizer of Bryant Park’s Winter Village changed and the vegan mission was lost. I was so disappointed in the lack of vegan options that I didn’t even want to blog about it. This year is better and I’m thrilled.

There are two vegan food vendors this year and several vendors with a vegan option. The photo is a cous cous bowl from Cous Cous Vegan Bowl. I almost jumped into the air with joy when I saw this name on the Village map today. And the bowl is yummers! When I picked it up I said, “thank you for brining vegan back to the event.” The person behind the counter said, “that was our goal.” Excellent! They also have vegan hot chocolate.

The other vender is the always wonderful Raaka Chocolate. This year they have a gift box of their current six bar line up.

If wanting something else, explore deeper to discover vegetable dumplings, tacos, Mediterranean wraps, and more. Yummers!

Vegan Food & Drink Festival

The vegan food & drink festival finally came to NYC! I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to see what other cities have been able to experience. I was not disappointed.

The festival was on Randall’s Island, a place I had only driven over in a taxi or bus to the airport. I had seen countless others walk along the bridge to other events on the island and decided to ride my bike and take a pedestrian bridge on the southern end. Good choice. A very easy route that gave me stunning views of the East River.

There were many local vendors at the event and many I had never heard of. I skipped long lines for places I knew, like Cinnamon Snail. Other long lines snaked out of vendors offering fried goodness. Tempting, but I would rather explore more.

The deliciousness seemed endless.

We finally tried the Impossible Burger, which was a total trip and weirded me out. It really does smell, taste, look, and and have the texture of a medium raw burger. Hubby gobbled, I tried a bite. I also got a Nashville sauce tofu sandwich that was amazeballs.

But it was more than food!

I had great fun exploring all the signs and information.

There was music too, but nothing live while I was there. Just so many people enjoying vegan goodness.

If you get a chance to go to one of these, I recommend it. I got early bird tickets that were only $10.

Savory Bites

My cousin has been living in the city all summer and goes back to Texas this week. I have been lucky enough to see him almost every week. Last weekend, I invited him and other family over for dinner so we could all share more time before he leaves.

My apartment, like many apartments in NYC, is small, so a sit-down dinner is a challenge. I decided, instead, to have a finger food meal to make things easier and normalize the idea of sitting on the couch while eating. The dinner went great and I invented a new yummers finger food for the occasion, Savory Bites.

The idea comes from using filo dough, but I dislike using that dough. It can be a lot of work and my approach remains easy cooking. Instead, I used crescent rolls. The kind that come in tubes.

I made two different kinds. One that was like pizza and another with pesto. To do the exact same thing, you will need:

  • Two rolls of crescent roll dough, in the tube, check the ingredients to make sure they are vegan
  • Spaghetti sauce, I used a garlic heavy one
  • Black olives sliced into thin circles
  • Shredded vegan mozzarella 
  • Vegan pesto
  • Small onion, diced into small pieces 
  • Small red bell pepper, diced into small pieces 
  • A few button mushrooms, diced into small pieces
  • Tablespoon of olive oil

Start by sautéing the onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil. Sauté on medium heat until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool. Take the first roll and open onto parchment or wax paper. This will let the dough be more easily removed later. With your fingers, mash together all the seams to make one sheet of dough. Using a rolling pin (or label-free and cleaned wine bottle), roll out the dough a couple times in each direction to flatten and even everything.

For the pesto bites: Use a spoon to add a thin layer of pesto to the dough, then a thin layer of the cooked veggies, and a thin layer of cheese. There will be left over filling. The layers should be thin because the dough is delicate and won’t roll well if too thick.

Looking at the longest edge of the dough, begin to roll that edge towards its opposite edge. Don’t be afraid to help the dough off the parchment paper. If the original seams reappear, this is okay. Try to carefully mash them together again and keep rolling. Soon you will have a long roll of dough with filling. Take a sharp knife and slowly cut into circles of about an inch thick. I got about 12 circles from each roll. Place each circle on a pan with at least one inch between each.

They won’t look perfect, and this is okay. Flavor is most important.

For the pizza bites: Follow the same dough preparation process of making into sheet. Add a thin layer of speghetti sauce, a thin layer of black olives, and a thin layer of cheese. Follow the same roll and cut process.

Cook the bites at 375 for 10 minutes or until the edges are golden.

So yummy! Everyone ate as many as they could and kept going back to grab another one. The process can easily be used for other savory or sweet ingredients.

I hope you try these and let me know how it goes, especially if you try different ingredients. I will absolutely be making these again.

Feeding a 9-Year-Old

My adorable 9-year-old nephew came to visit last month and I thought long and hard about how to feed this picky eater. I asked my brother which vegetables he liked and made sure to have those handy; baby carrots, broccoli stems, steamed spinach, and avocado. But what would I make for him, other than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? He had two of those during the visit.

I made pancakes, of course, and he ate more than anyone else at the table. Score! I also made him grilled cheese with smoked tofurkey slices. He liked this so much he asked for it instead of the one meal he didn’t like. I also made pigs in blankets with steamed broccoli stems. He devoured these, along with hubby who only likes the tops of broccoli. They make a great broccoli team!

Nephew kept verifying that everything was vegan. At one point he asked what the cheese was made from if not cow milk? Before I could answer, he suggested chicken milk. This made my brother laugh very loudly.

Nephew ate well and I enjoyed our visit. Woo hoo!

Vaute Coture NYC Store Opening

I was lucky enough to make it to Vaute Coture opening its first permanent location in NYC a couple weeks ago. I adore the brand because it’s awesome. Not just the fun vegan clothes that are locally and ethically made, but the people. Every communication is full of joy, gratitude, and love. That’s so much of what I aspire to be!

It was a very hot day, so hot that I had to sit down as soon as I found a seat inside. I needed to recover.

The place was packed with people thrilled to explore, try on items, and eat the treats!

The place is adorable and full of great messages.

I will be returning soon to explore on my own pace and I can’t wait. The world needs places like Vaute. I’m thrilled to be part of this important change.

Plant Based Bushwick

I was lucky enough to go to the first, annual, Plant Based Bushwick Festival. Very fun! Decent sized place with speakers in an upstairs open space. Not sure how well speakers could be heard because it was loud. But I got to meet new vegans and try new foods. Like an empanada encased in plantain. Mmm… Also got a fresh juice to order and all the money went to support the local farmers market. Winning!

I picked up several new things that I still need to try, like a vegan nutella.

If you get a chance to go to a vegan, vegetarian, or plant based festival, do it. The people are always great and the food fantastic. I had one of the best beet burgers ever at this festival. Yummers!

NYC Vegetarian Food Festival

I have dreamed of attending this event for years. When I moved to NYC last year, I arrived a few weeks after the event and was sad to have missed it. This year I made it!

I was overwhelmed by the number of people and booths to visit. I tried to hear one talk and couldn’t, so I tasted chocolate instead.

It was incredible. Several vendors I have seen at other events participated, but many that I had never met were happy to share their products. It was great fun and, like I said, overwhelming.

Despite having bought a ticket in advance, I stood in a line that wrapped around the block for about 45 minutes before getting in. Thank goodness we had a break in the rain that day. Upon entering, there were so many people that deciding where to begin was a challenge. First I stood in a line to try gluten free and vegan brownies while a friend stood in the DF Mavens line. We promised to get each other samples. Next, we each bought a ticket for the raffle to support the organizing group. That was easy. Then it becomes a blur. A delicious blur where I was able to pick up a new vegan mascara to try. In addition to multiple bites of samples I got a grilled cheese sandwich from Riverdell and sushi from Beyond Sushi. My bag coming home was full of my favorite kombucha, I normally dislike kombucha, nut ricotta, coupons, mascara, lotion samples, and, of course, chocolate. I cannot pass up vegan chocolate.

If you ever get a chance to go to a vegan festival, take it. What fun to be surrounded by other vegans and ideas. There is another festival in Bushwick in a couple weeks and I will be there too!

Veganism is Love

I got to march in the Veggie Pride Parade yesterday. I was thrilled to be part of a large group of passionate people. We had fun chanting things like, “Go vegan, save the world,” through the streets of Manhattan. It was crazy windy and my arms got tired, but I held my sign up over my head as much as I could and yelled as loud as I could.

At the end of the parade there was a stage for speakers and several tables for vegan minded groups and vendors. There was also a soapbox to share at, but I have this blog. So here is where I will share my thoughts.

Veganism is love. I have written about this before. Love for your body, love for animals, love for the environment, love for your neighbors, love for your mental health, I could go on. I may be unique, but I am a firm believer that when we approach veganism from anywhere else, we contribute to the problem and push others away from the idea. Sure I’m angry, disgusted, and grossed out by how we treat the world. As an eco-feminist, I feel everything is connected. But I refuse to contribute to it.

When the parade ended, the organizer got on stage to share. I’m certain she had spent hours organizing and planning, in hopes for an incredible day. The weather conspired against her and a few people dropped out at the last minute. In my experience, people always drop out at the last minute. Life happens. Weather is only one issue. Anyway, she got on stage and said mean things about the people not there. Instead of being gracious for all of us who came out and shared our love and enthusiasm. What? My stomach turned and made me nauseous. I left. I didn’t want to be around all that hatred and anger. I returned after getting lunch and explored the tables.

Here is what I would have said, or at least something like this:

Thank you all you beautiful faces. I’m humbled that so many of us came out in this wind to show New York how much we care about the animals, the environment, and our own bodies. I hope all the smiles we passed were people who will try being vegan, even for just one day. It will save so many lives. You are all amazing and we can always use more volunteers. If wanting to help make next year even more incredible, please sign up on this clipboard. We can use your passion and enthusiasm. I loved hearing all your voices and the reactions of the people we passed. Please thank the police for doing an excellent job of keeping us safe through the traffic. Please visit all the tables and talk with the organizations doing incredible work around the world for animals. We can only make a big change together and we start the journey new each day. Thank you for begining this day together and post all over social media about how much fun we just had. Love to you today and every day you help the world. And hopefully we’ll see each other marching again next year!