ThanksLiving 2011 at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

As mentioned in a previous VeganMofo post, the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary is a small piece of heaven for more than a hundred animals. Though it might be a bit early to think about Thanksgiving, WFAS held its 6th annual ThanksLiving vegan feast on Sunday, October 16th to ensure attendees get a glimpse of the fall foliage without freezing their tushes off in November.

Before the feast was served,  we enjoyed some delicious hors d’oeuvres – faux gras from The Regal Vegan, Buffalo Bites and (my favorite!) Cape Cod Cakes from Blossom and “Beef” Medallions with Béarnaise Sauce using a new flesh-alternative called Savage River. While the appetizers were passed, attendees had a chance to bid on a huge table of silent auction and raffle items, including gift certificates to Candle Cafe, Blossom and V-Note,  VIP passes to the Daily Show & Colbert and many other awesome prizes. Also, the bar was pouring stellar drinks, including Smoked Porter, Pale Ale or Arrogant Bastard donated by Stone Brewing Company!

The trays of hors d’oeuvres seemed endless. I had to cut myself off to save room for the main course, prepared by uber-amazing chef Terry Hope Romero. Check out this menu!

Now, onto the entrees….but before we stuffed our own gullets, the guests of honor got to feast!

No guest speakers this year, just Jenny Brown (director/co-founder) “dropping bones of truth on us” and giving many, well-deserved props during the meal. Dinner was brought to your table in one packed plate. The Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque with Cashew Crema was where I started and may have been my favorite part. Rich and hearty with just enough spice. Perfectly paired with Stone Smoked Porter and a great comfort food for the rainy fall evening, The Cornbread Sofrito Stuffing with Veggie Chorizo was a close second…a very creative Latin touch added to the traditional stuffing. I, like pretty much every vegan, am a huge fan of kale and loved the Massaged Kale Salad with Raisins and Toasted Almonds. Finally, the “bird,” Chicken Rajas in Orange Garlic Mojo made with the new Savage River faux chicken. The faux meat market isn’t something I’m big into these days, but this wasn’t bad. I didn’t find it to be much different (if at all) from Gardein, but definitely a lot better than the May Wah stuff, in my opinion. Anyway, a great alternative if you need something meaty to make the Thanksgiving meal complete.

Finally, super-talented vegan baker extraordinaire Danielle Konya of Vegan Treats blew our minds with her out-of-this-world desserts. An assortment of everything from pumpkin pie to peanut butter bomb was served up.

It was yet another hugely-successful WFAS event. If you didn’t make it, be sure to come out next year. Stay up-to-date with WFAS announcements, because the tickets are gone in the blink of an eye and…I say this from personal experience…you don’t want to be that sucker who only gets to read about how awesome it is on the internet:)

Vegan in Portsmouth, NH

Another VeganMofo, is here. That’s cool and all, but I have to say every time I read “vegan mo-fo” I think of Vegan Muthafucka, which is just fucking weird.

Anyway, a week in with no posts, we’re off to a bad start! The first few days of October both Kevin and I were outside of Portsmouth, New Hampshire running the Smuttynose Brewing Co. Rockfest Marathon mentioned in the previous post (still time left to donate to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary fundraiser!) The race was pretty horrible for both of us. We each had an illness or injury and the cold, driving rain destroyed any hope of overcoming it. It was quite a challenge, but we both pushed through, crossing the finish line with rather disappointing times. On the bright side, we got to sample some vegan food and beer in and around Portsmouth, which made the experience slightly less painful.

Smuttynose Brewing Company, who sponsored the race, and its sister brew pub, Portsmouth Brewery, are the dominating craft breweries in the area. As you may know, Portsmouth Brewery is creator of the infamous Kate the Great, Russian Imperial Stout. Definitely an awesome beer, but there are so many other great beers poured at the brewery and some stellar vegan options on the menu to boot! We hit up the brew pub the night before and after the race. We had the carb-heavy Smoked Tofu with Rice Noodles, an enormous portion of stir fried noodles, loads of veggies and Tofu Lin style smoked, pressed tofu.

There is also a tempeh wrap on the menu, as well as the usual pub food offerings of hummus and a veggie burger. Note, we did not get a straight answer on whether the Brewery Veggie Burger is vegan. While the ingredients seem straight forward – a blend of tofu, toasted oats, roasted fresh vegetables and spice – when I asked, I was told dismissively “no it’s not vegan, it’s got some stuff in the burger.” Probably worth asking again.

There beers were excellent! Very good timing on our part, as the wet-hop-brewed Hop Harvest II was on tap, which appears to be brewed with fresh Citra hops. This beer is truly outstanding – definitely one of the best wet-hop beers I’ve ever had. Huge fresh hop aroma, lots of tropical fruit flavor. Incredible. I’m not a big Gose fan, but Portsmouth is one of the few pubs where you’ll find one brewed and we were also lucky to be there while it was on.

Also worth mentioning, there is an all vegan raw restaurant called Revitalive Cafe just south in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

I didn’t really enjoy my raw “tuna” wrap so much, but Kevin and Jaime liked their dishes, including the Taco Salad, Raw Vegan Pizza and the Revita-Wrap (shown below).

Finally, I would not leave Portsmouth without an organic vegan pizza cooked in a wood-fire oven at the Flatbread in downtown Portsmouth.

Delicious artisan flatbread pizza with all the fixing and a good number of decent beers. SO good!!

Smuttynose promo to benefit Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary!

Join us on September 8th at The Half Pint in NYC to benefit the animals and the work of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (WFAS). The Half Pint is generously donating 25% of the tab at an upcoming Smuttynose Brewing Co. promo night to WFAS …and insanely amazing vegan fare will be available for purchase (all proceeds benefit WFAS) from Blossom du Jour!

Brett of VeganBrew is hosting this benefit as part of his upcoming marathon run, October 2nd – World Day for Farm Animals – at the Smuttynose Brewing Co. Rockfest Marathon, to benefit WFAS. You can also help raise funds by donating to the Crowdrise project page. We hope to raise $2,620 for WFAS – anything you can give is very much appreciated!

In addition to The Half Pint”s regular lineup of fantastic craft beers, Smuttynose beers featured will be:

Farmhouse Saison
Pumpkin
Robust Porter
Star Island Single

Come out for a few pints for a good cause!

Vegan Friendly Beer Bars in Philly

Philadelphia prides itself on being “America’s Best Beer-Drinking City,” which may be a debateable topic (look how many other cities have attempted to copy our “beer week.”) I’d argue, without question, that Philly is also America’s most vegan-friendly-beer-drinking city. In other words, when I’m out drinking, I want good vegan pub food. And without a doubt, I get that at many, if not all, of the establishments I normally frequent.

Here’s my attempt at introducing & summarizing what you can get while visiting the many bars & pubs around town. My criteria was simple:

Must have multiple vegan options on the menu, clearly marked as such. Lame attempts like hummus & portabello sandwiches don’t count.
Must have craft beer. No crap on tap!

I’ll start from deep South Philly (where I live), working my way north through the city, as far as Fishtown, before swinging out west to University City. I don’t think I’ve missed anything, but please let me know if I have!

Vegan Beer Dinner at Memphis Taproom

Those of us living in Philly are so lucky to have Philly Beer Week – an entire week-plus of events celebrating and sharing awesome beer.  I’ve been to several great events this week, having had the chance to try such rare gems as Mikkeller I Beat U, Hill Farmstead Double Citra IPA, several from Lost Abbey (Framboise de Amorosa, Cuvee de Tomme, Red Poppy, Amazing Grace, Veritas 008 & 009, Duck Duck Gooze & Its Pineapple-Guava variant), Russian River Supplication, North Coast Rasputin XII… this list could go on and on.  But the best Beer Week event I attended thus far was the Vegan Beer Dinner at Memphis Taproom.

I’ve been a huge fan of Memphis ever since it opened.  From day 1 they’ve made sure to include a plethora of vegan options on their menu – clearly marked.  I love when restaurants do this – it makes it feel so much more inviting to us vegans, and it avoids the awkward barrage of questions every visit.  Currently their dinner menu (it changes every few months) includes such delightfully awesome dishes as the smoked coconut club & seitan shepherds pie, but in the past I’ve had things like jackfruit “crab cakes” and smoked avocado lettuce & tomato sandwiches. Yums all around.  My only complaint about Memphis is that it is not in my neighborhood – so I usually have to run there (about 6 miles from my house, a good pre-brunch warmup) or take the subway.

Dan Shelton Rambling

Truffled Beluga Lentils: Green Apple, Pickled Beet, Blood Orange, paired with Jolly Pumpkin La Roja

 

 

This might have been my favorite course of the night.  We learned during Dan Shelton’s long-winded “introduction speech” (he is the infamous Shelton Brothers beer importer/distributor) that Jolly Pumpkin owner & head brewer Ron Jeffries is himself also vegan.  I’ve always been a fan of JP’s offerings and La Roja, a flanders style amber, is one of my favorites.  Tart, a little sweet, some nice tannins and not too much burning acetic character going on.  I’ve only had beluga lentils before at Horizons but I sure will pick some up in the future.  The sourness from the pickled beet & the sweetness from the apple & blood orange really made the flavors of both the lentils and the beer really pop.  Plus, anything served “truffled” makes me happy. (Do yourself a favor and pick up some black truffle salt; you’ll thank me later.)

Braised Carrot; Beer Battered Miso Tofu, Pea Shoots, Red Wine Chocolate Jus paired with De Ranke XX Bitter

Memphis used to have beer battered miso tofu (“fish & chips” style) on the menu, but its been ages since I’ve seen it.  This was an excellent opportunity to remind me of what I was missing.  Personally, I wasn’t in love with the red wine chocolate jus (I tend to not like combining chocolate with savory foods), but I devoured everything else you see on this plate.  Really enjoyed the XX Bitter as well – very aggressive hop-wise with a little more than a hint of classic (barnyard-y) brettanomyces.  Dan Shelton described the brett character as “what Orval used to be like.”

Shitake and Leek Dumpling; Mushroom tea, ginger, black pepper oil, charred scallion paired with Mikkeller 10

I could eat this soupy dish every day for the rest of my life and I don’t think I’d get sick of it.  All of the flavors here blended quite nicely.  Mikkeller 10 is a followup to their single hop ipa series; in this instance they added 10 different varieties throughout the boil.  Very fruity, a tad bit herbal, all around tasty.

Dessert: Peche Mortel Poached Calimyrn Fig, Toasted Almond, Coffee Caramel, Popcorn Milk, paired with Du Ciel Peche Mortel

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of figs.  I don’t dislike figgy flavors in various dishes, or even in some big, complex beers like Belgian strong dark ales, but I don’t love biting into giant fig chunks.  Nonetheless, I licked this plate clean.  I do wish I asked how exactly “popcorn milk” is made, because I certainly want to try it again.  Peche Mortel was a great pairing here; it is one of the best coffee beers in the world (they use fair trade coffee in it, as well.)

Cheers for Chef Jesse Kimball (Phillies hat) & his crew!

Cheese Course: Aged Macadamia Cheese, Cashew & Crystal Algae Blue Cheese, pickled blueberries, Smoked Coconut Marmalade paired with Spezial Rauchbier

Even back before I was vegan, I was never a “cheese person” – the type of person to go to a wine party with various fancy cheeses that smell funny.  Semi-recently, though, I ordered Dr Cow nut cheese from pangea; it seemed interesting enough to try.  I’m not sure what happened – maybe it did not survive the trip from Maryland well, or maybe it sat in my fridge for too long, but it was dreadful.  This sampling (which was from Dr. Cow), on the other hand, was wonderful.  I enjoyed the texture and the taste, and the toasted bread sticks provided for spreading on were perfect.  The smoked coconut marmalade was great… But we already know Chef Jesse is the master at smoked coconut (see him on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.)

And finally, no trip to Memphis is complete without using the rest room, and drying your hands with an xlerator – the only worthy hand dryer in the world.  I’m trying to figure out how to integrate one of these into my house.

In closing, this event was awesome.  The beer pairings were pretty spot on and the portions were just right. Our table of 5 left very satisfied!  Leigh from Memphis hinted that they will do it again next beer week – I can’t wait!

Khyber Pass Pub

When seeking vegan-friendly bars, I think I am pretty easy to please.  I basically require just a few simple things:

  1. Craft beer on tap
  2. Vegan items clearly labeled on the menu, so I don’t have to play a game of 20 Questions with the waitstaff
  3. More than 1 vegan choice, excluding hummus, “garden salads”, and portabello mushroom sandwiches. I’ve had enough of all three in my lifetime, thank you very much

One particular chain of bar/restaurants in Philly always fulfills all three of those requirements.  I’m talking about the Royal Tavern and both Cantina locations (Dos Segundas and Los Caballitos.)  The head chef at all three locations, Mark McKinney, does a splendid job of giving us vegans a plethora of delicious menu options.  The recently revamped Khyber Pass Pub is the 4th, and possibly the best of the bunch in my humble opinion!

I strolled up to Old City this past Monday for an evening of food and drink at the Khyber.  The Khyber used to be primarily a music venue with a decent bar.  The first time I went there was more than a half-decade ago – to see Andy Rourke, formerly of The Smiths, spin records.  It happened to be the first time I tried a Victory Hop Devil; I deemed it too hoppy for my tastes at the time (oh, how the times have changed.)

The new Khyber has replaced the music floor with dining tables.  They now boast 20 tap lines and 2 hand pumps for cask-conditioned beer – everything from local favorites like Yards Philly Pale Ale or Victory Storm King to West Coast IPAs like Ballast Point Big Eye or Port Brewing High Tide.  And the food menu – still in “preview” mode for now, is Southern-style, with a bunch of vegan options.

Normally I’d go with seitan po boys or the veggie sausage sandwich – two mainstays on the still-new menu.  On this evening, however, I chose to start with one of the daily specials: Vegan Sausage & Mustard Greens Soup.

The soup was very hearty and tasty.  The sausage reminded me of the vegan chorizo you can purchase at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.  The greens and tomato broth complimented it well.

For my entree, I chose to go with the Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy.

The mashed potatoes had a really raw (in a good way), un-processed feel to them.  As you can see by the crappy iPhone photo I took, it doesn’t look like the perfectly blended commercial junk you get in the supermarket.  This was a real mashup of potatoes and soy milk.  I think the gravy could be a tad thicker, but overall the taste was spot on (not overly salty, like some veg-gravies can be.)

The pulled pork sandwich itself was a soft bun surrounding a mound of slightly sweet but also tangy seitan covered in some sort of cole slaw.  I’m not a big cole slaw fan – in fact, I don’t like most white, veganaise-y things, but even I found this to be delicious.

I was too stuffed between the beer and food that I had no room for dessert.  They do offer cakes from Vegan Treats in the event that I ever leave room in my stomach during a future visit.

Previously, my go-to, never-dissapoints, vegan-friendly Philly pubs were Local 44 and Memphis Taproom, but I now have to make room for a third.  (It also helps that the Khyber Pass Pub is merely 2.5 miles away from my house, making for a pretty pleasant walk through Philadelphia.) I highly recommend it to any vegans looking for hearty pub food and a few tasty pints.

Garden Cafe on the Green

While the rest of the world is becoming progressively more vegan-friendly, Albany is somehow going in the other direction.  As the SNL version of our soon-to-be former Governor put it:

“…if you’re in Albany, I can recommend a great place to go for dinner. It’s called Manhattan.”

Thankfully, you don’t even have to go that far. For this VeganMofo contribution: a long-overdue review of the only all-vegan restaurant anywhere near Albany, Garden Cafe on the Green in Woodstock, NY.

Visits to Garden Cafe typically follow a day of volunteering at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. That is, on the days that we don’t reek of chicken poo! The restaurant is located in the heart of downtown Woodstock and offers an excellent view of the happenings on the Village Green from its garden patio seating.  It’s open every day, except Tuesday, though I believe the hours change seasonally. Check the website for current hours.

The good news is, Garden Cafe is always busy, serving up cruelty-free, organic meals. The bad news is, Garden Cafe is always busy! No worries, we’ve never had to wait long (if at all) for a table, especially when the patio is open.

The daily specials rotate, though most “specials” are items that can be found on the regular menu as well. The exceptions to this typically are truly exceptional, and a bit pricey (around the $20 range). The menu also allows for cheap, simple eats with make-your-own bowls (using a list of grains, greens and beans/tofu/tempeh) and a variety of delicious sandwiches, salads and quesadillas made with Daiya cheese.

Last weekend, a friend of the spiritual, new agey persuasion was in town, so Jaime and I took her down to Woodstock for some groovy shopping and dinner at Garden Cafe. What follows is a description of our meal, which is only a small sample of the goodness Garden Cafe has to offer.

We started with Warm Walnut Mushroom Pate with Horseradish “Cream” Swirl, a rich, nutty paté served with warm homemade whole wheat foccacia. Super delicious, though it needed a touch of salt. Additionally, I had a Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter.  Jaime ordered a vanilla coconut chai and it was delish.

Next, the main course. We each ordered a dish and rotated clockwise when we had a sample of each.

First up for me, Indian Vegetable & Chickpea Enchiladas with Bombay Sauce. Curried potatoes, chickpeas and a few other veggies, wrapped in a large enchilada (basically a burrito), drizzled with what I believe is a cashew cream sauce and a Bombay curry sauce. This is served with curried apple coconut salad and sautéed kale and onions. which are outstanding. This dish was everyone’s favorite.

Next, the old standby: Grilled Curried Tofu Mango Sandwich.  Mango chutney-like sauce on grilled tofu, caramelized onions, roasted red pepper and spiced veganaise (spelled the way it is said by every vegan in the universe on the menu) all pressed in toasted whole grain bread and served with small mesclun salad. Need I say more? Reliably fantastic.

Moving on to a special, Jerk Tofu Salad. Jerk seasoned tofu over a bed of mesclun, drizzled with Dijon vinaigrette and served with whole wheat foccacia. I have to say, this was the dish I was looking forward to the most and I was a bit disappointed in the amount of jerkyness. While the tofu was tasty, it wasn’t what I expected. Not bad, especially if you are not into spicy food (which, as we all know, does NOT describe me). I would highly recommend the vegan Caesar over this salad, but it was nice to try something new.

Finally, dessert. Another reliably good treat is the Warm Chocolate Brownie. Rich and chocolatey, and not overly sweet. Covered in warm chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Paired well with my second Alta Gracia!

A fantastic meal, as always. This place is truly one of the best. The only thing I think could be improved upon is the beer list, which has shrunk a bit over the years. Of course, this is a challenge when trying to offer only local and/or organic beers. Anyway, you will always find a decent beer (or wine, if you prefer) to enjoy your delicious meal with.

If you are anywhere near Woodstock, make the trip out to Garden Cafe and be sure to stop by the little slice of heaven just outside of town, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (open for tours Saturdays and Sundays, April through October.)

Phillies 2008 Opener

Thanks to my awesome brother, I scored a ticket to today’s Phillies home opener against the Washington Nationals.  Last year, PETA named Citizens Bank Park the most vegetarian-friendly ballpark in North America due to the various veg options. Vegan garden burgers, vegan hot dogs (taste like Smart Dogs), and vegetarian cheesesteaks (vegan if you order minus the cheese.) Well this year they have stepped it up even more – Planet Hoagie now offers crab-free crab cakes (dissapointingly not vegan) and Rick’s Steaks has added vegetarian chicken cheese steaks (again, vegan minus the cheese.)

Since I did not have a very substantial lunch, I started the game off with a vegan hot dog and gardenburger. They have these neat onion grinder thingees that you can use to add onions to your food. You spin a wheel and out comes fresh-diced onions. Yum. A perfect accompaniment to both of those items (especially since I personally hate both mustard and ketchup.)

The second best part about the Phils’ stadium? A stellar beer selection. Pretty much every local brewery (Sly Fox, Victory, Yards, Troeg’s…. Yuengling) are represented on draught, Dogfish Head (Shelter Pale Ale, maybe) can be found in bottles, and the big national craft brews – Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada, are pouring also. Good stuff. All very vegan friendly breweries.

I helped myself to a Victory Hop Devil with my burger & dog, which was an awesome trio. I later grabbed a Troegs Sunshine Pils (ridiculously refreshing, but probably better suited for those mid summer 90 degree games, for me). My last beer of the day was somewhat ominous; Yards Philly Pale Ale, probably my favorite local goto beer (deliciously citrus-hop aroma and flavor, reasonable bitterness, light enough to drink lots of) tasted like crap, and it came right around the time that the game imploded for the Phils. I’m not sure what the deal is, but of the past 4 Yards Philly Pale pours I have had (4 different locations) – 2 were delicious, and 2 were dump-worthy. Today, it tasted kind of like malt vinegar (aceto bacteria) with a splash of moldy bread. Not pleasant. Don’t know who is to blame – infected tap lines? Brewing inconsistencies while they continue to contract brew up at The Lion (until the Delaware Ave new brewery opens?) I don’t know. I hope it gets remedied soon!

Side note: I cracked open a finally carbonated bottle of my All-Summit Pale Ale that I brewed like 6 or 7 weeks ago and it is freaking delicious. New. Favorite. Hop. Between the orangey-citrusy hop flavor & aroma and the subtle fruitiness of the Safale US-05 yeast I used, I think I’m in love.

Final Score: Nationals 11, Phillies 6… But at least I ate and drank well!