12.28.2011

Please Join Us for the Vegan Drinks New Orleans Holiday Party!!

Please join us tomorrow night at Santa Fe Tapas for the Vegan Drinks New Orleans Holiday Party! We'll have an awesome selection of vegan cocktails and mocktails (plus specialties only found at Santa Fe), small plates to order, and great company as always. Come hang out for half an hour or for the whole night - we'd love to see you either way!

12.16.2011

Vegan Brunch in New Orleans: Options Abound!

As the weather cools down, the vegan brunch scene in New Orleans is heating up! There are now three - count them, THREE - regular vegan brunches occurring across the Nola metro area. The region's veg*ns can now choose which brunch to attend based on day, neighborhood preference, or food style - or shoot the works and hit two or even three brunches in one weekend!

John Morales of O! Vegasm started the Vegan Brunch craze in New Orleans early last summer, with his weekly brunches at Grit's Bar. He has since moved on to serving up dinner five nights a week at St. Roch Tavern, but keeps the Sunday Brunch candle lit as well. Bywater and Marigny residents, as well as fans of scrambles and truly delicious pancakes, regularly rejoice for this new Sunday option.

Amie Havens of Magazine Street's Superfood Bar has taken up the Grit's Brunch torch and given it a touch of class, incorporating menu items such as individually spun servings of (you'd never know that it's) raw vegan ice cream and elegant reinterpretations of simple foods like beans and rice. Uptowners and fans of healthier fare masking as something sinful will enjoy the love Amie delivers on each plate.

As the newest arrival on the scene, Santa Fe Tapas provides an option for diners who are looking for a Saturday affair, or who just can't stand the idea of a potentially smoky bar. With only two brunches under its belt and a third soon on the way, chef Mario and sous chef Chris are wowing vegans and omnis alike with innovative vegetable and grain based dishes. While some brunch-seekers may shy away from the $21 prix fixee price tag, it should be noted that all items may be ordered a la carte! Guests are encouraged to come and stay a while - and it is most definitely a family affair.

With so many options, the vegan brunches in New Orleans provide something for everyone. Check each brunch's Facebook page for details on each week's menus. Hope to see you at one soon!

12.02.2011

Vegan Jazz Brunch at Santa Fe Tapas! TOMORROW!

Santa Fe Tapas on St. Charles Avenue continues to delve into the world of gourmet vegan cuisine with its latest venture: Vegan Jazz Brunches! Tomorrow marks the first such event, and it will no doubt be a masterpiece. We'll let the menu do the talking:
*Fresh squeezed Orange juice, Carrot juice or mix of the two ~ market price

First Course Choices:
* Truffled Vichyssoise with Seasonal Garnishes ~ cup/bowl $4/$8
* Sweet Corn Mushroom Tamale, Heriloom Tomato Pico de Gallo, Guacamole ~ $6
* Beet Carpaccio, Spring greens, Arugula, Pickled red onion, Fennel, Endive, Louisiana citrus, Candied pecans, aged sherry vinaigrette ~ $6

Second Course Choices:
* Wild Mushroom Ragout Stuffed Arancini, Braised Rapini, Antipasti style Cannellini Beans, Almond Roasted Pepper Romanesco~ $12
* Swiss Chard Portobello Timbale, Purple Cauliflower Peruvian Purple Potato puree, carmelized cauliflower, red wine reduction ~ $12
* Carmelized onion spinach Agnolotti, duo of sauces: spicy roasted tomato arrabiatta, arugula spinach pine nut pesto ~ $12

Third Course Choices:
* Parsnip panna cotta, beet gelee, candied beets, hazelnuts ~ $7
* Desert of the Day ~ $7

Choose a Prix Fixe meal with one selection from each of the three courses for $21, or order a la carte
Reservations are highly recommended - Santa Fe can be reached at (504) 304-9915. If you speak with Orhan, tell him Melissa sent you. ;)

11.22.2011

A Vegan Thanksgiving Feast in Nola!


You are cordially invited to join the Nola Veggie Meetup Group for a Vegan Thanksgiving Extravaganza! The meal will be served buffet style, and will include both raw and cooked foods - a delicious combo of fall delights like raw green bean casserole and autumn spice cookies from Superfood Bar Amie, as well as your old favorites of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and mac n' cheeze from Chef Tim. Can't wait to see you there, and don't forget to RSVP!

Full Buffet Menu:

Sweet and tart (can molded) raw cranberry sauce
Satsuma, bananas, pineapple, and cherry
*tossed in a sweet coconut yogurt

Jicama Mash
Green bean casserole, topped with onion crisps
Autumn spiced oat cookies
Apple pie tarts
Homemade Tempeh loaf, with brown cashew gravy
Southern style collard greens
Mac n' Cheeze 2 ways (one without soy)
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Traditional Stuffing
Yams
Pumpkin Pie

11.19.2011

Vegan food at the Oak Street Po-Boy Fest!

Dream a Little Green and O! Vegasm made an exciting announcement this week: they are teaming up to bring us vegan food at this weekend's Oak Street Po Boy Festival! Now New Orleans vegans can enjoy this New Orleans tradition to the fullest, thanks to these awesome entrepreneurs. Check them out at Z'otz Cafe, just two blocks in from Carrollton at 8201 Oak Street.
BIG NEWS! Dream a Little Green will be teaming up with O! Vegasm and Z'otz Coffeehouse to bring vegan po boys to the 2011 Oak Street Po-Boy Festival! Named "the best food festival of 2010" by Gambit Weekly, this year's Fest will feature three stages with live music, arts and crafts, a children's section with games and prizes, panel discussions covering the history of the po-boy, and, of course, the best tasting {vegan} po-boys in New Orleans!
The event will be held this year on Sunday, November 20th from 10am to 7pm. Can't wait to see y'all there!

11.02.2011

This Thursday: Six Course Vegan Tapas Wine Pairing!

Hello New Orleans Vegans! I am excited to tell you about this event at Santa Fe Tapas, located at 1327 St. Charles Avenue (between Thalia and Erato). Beginning at 6:30 tomorrow evening, Santa Fe will host a six course all-vegan tapas and wine pairing. For reservations, call (504) 304-9915. The menu is set to include:
*Introduction- Sparkling Wine

*1st Course - Joel Gott, Un-Oaked Chardonnay
Artichokes Ottoman, Organic Baby Carrots, Petit Pois, Pea Tendrils, Dill Lemon Emulsion

*2nd Course - Joel Gott, Pinot Gris
Spiced Punmpkin Agnolotti, Herb Foam, Hazelnuts

*3rd Course - Lange Twins, Viognier
Orange Fennel Heirloom Radish Salad, Petit Potato Croquette

*4th Course - Lange Twins, Cabernet
Charred Corn Edamame Succotash, Duo of Purees (Parsnip, Edamame), Crisp Parsnips

*5th Course - Senario de Alange, Tempranillo
Roasted Tomato, Egg-Plant Bolognese, Whole Wheat Penne

*6th Course - Chemin De Terre
Asparagus Tempura, Crisp Oyster Mushrooms, Arugula Risotto, Truffle Oil
I hope that this will be the first of many vegan events at this location, and the beginning of a shift to more veg options on their menu. See you there!

Of note: before I put my support behind any restaurant that primarily serves animal products, I check the menu for any particularly egregious items. Upon scanning Santa Fe's online menu, the one listing that caught my eye was the Chilean Sea Bass. I inquired about this item and was told, to my relief, that it had been removed from the service menu three months ago.

10.28.2011

Big Halloween Weekend for New Orleans Vegans!

There is an amazing amount of activity happening in the New Orleans Vegan community this Halloween weekend! Check it out:

*By all accounts, Chef Anne Churchill brought down the house at Feelings Cafe on Wednesday night with her Karma Kitchen gourmet 5 course vegan meal. We here at NOiG would of course LOVE to see more of this kind of activity, and applaud all involved. I unfortunately could not be in attendance, and hope beyond hope that there will be another one soon.

*Sorry to say that you've also already missed October's Vegan Drinks New Orleans, which was a total blast. We had awesome food from O'Shea of Dream a Little Green, as well as a great raffle benefiting the Louisiana Humane Society. A surprise visit from Jasmine and Mariann of Our Hen House at the end of the night brought the event to a splendid conclusion.

*Saturday and Sunday, 10/29 and 10/30, you can find awesome brunch goodies from chef John Morales of O! Vegasm over at Hey! Cafe. Items will be on sale throughout the day until sold out - which tends to happen pretty quickly with John's food, so it's a good idea to stop by early!

*Sunday 10/29, 11am, Vegan Brunch at Grit's lives on! While we are all still reeling from the loss of Chef John, we bravely carry on and welcome Chef Amie Havens of Magazine Street's Superfood Bar. She'll be serving up the following fantastic-looking menu for $17 per plate:
  • Cajun spiced sweet potato Rosti
  • Seared Tempeh
  • Warm Seasonal Salad with a cashew cream sauce
  • Buckwheat Crepe with autumn spiced cashew cream filling, satusuma reduction with fresh satsuma segments
  • coffee included!
Our Sunday Grit's Brunches will be ever-evolving, but will continue for the foreseeable future. We hope to host a variety of the talented vegan chefs from around town, and continue to provide a central meeting time and place for Nola's veg community.

If you're hanging out in the Quarter / Frenchmen area for Halloween, don't forget you can stop by 13 for a bbq tofu po boy. And if you're over by the Marigny / Bywater, hit up Wandering Buddha!

Have fun and be safe kids. ;D

10.19.2011

Fine Vegan Dining in New Orleans: Feelings Cafe takes it up a notch.

Feelings Cafe has lined up to be the next in a long line of New Orleans restaurants to offer a gourmet, multi-course vegan dinner. On October 26th, chef Anne Churchill will provide a five course prix fixe vegan extravaganza, complete with molten chocolate cake for dessert.

Feelings Café and Chef Anne Churchill
offer an evening of vegan fine dining

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Seatings at 6 and 8:30

Call 945-2222 for reservations

$60 tax and tip inclusive

Optional wine flight for seated dinner $15

Full bar, specialty cocktail and non-alcohol options extra
2600 Chartres Street

Amuse Bouches
Served at the bar and in the patio with pre-dinner beverage options
Cashew Cheese Fondue with roasted vegetable skewers and rustic croutons
Roasted Ginger and Carrot Mousse atop cucumber slices
Edamame Hummus atop zatar spiced pita crisp
Pizzettas of black eyed pea and garbanzo crust, red pepper basil pesto and vegan parmesan

Salad Course
Chiffonade of dinosaur kale, arugula, spinach, freshly sprouted mung beans, apple, cucumber with creamy macadamia nut vinaigrette

Soup
Khmer Pumpkin Curry Soup

Main
Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms atop Malaysian Rice, with a citrus chimi churri and tamarind braised greens

Dessert
Molten Chocolate Cake with sweet cashew cream

10.10.2011

Vegan Brunch in New Orleans LIVES ON!

GREAT NEWS! Though the details are still being hashed out, one thing is certain: Vegan Brunch in New Orleans will live on!

For the Nola veg community, the weekly late-morning gathering at Grit's Bar has become an institution. So when O! Vegasm chef John Morales recently announced that he may not be able to continue cranking out his breakfast hash, a shudder went through the crowd.

But as is so often the case, a problem has become an opportunity. Morales will likely rotate with other talented vegan chefs in the area such as Tim Moore of Naturally Naw'lins and Aimee from Superfood Bar on Magazine Street. Any way about it, Sunday morning at Grit's will continue to be a regular meeting spot for the vegans, vegetarians, and the veg-appreciative of New Orleans - now with different and exciting options.

Chris, the owner of Grits, expressed yesterday how pleased he is to have vegan events such as the brunch and the monthly New Orleans Vegan Drinks taking place at his establishment. He believes that it's important for people to have vegan options everywhere they go, and is happy to bring the veg element to the Lyons Street neighborhood.

Brunch takes place every Sunday at 11:00 am at Grit's Bar, located at 530 Lyons Street (at the corner of Annunciation, one block away from the river from Tchoupitoulas).

10.08.2011

Vegan Brunch in Nola - On the endangered list?

Join us Sunday morning (10/9) for what is possibly the last O! Vegasm brunch at Grit's Bar.

According to the most recent event invitation sent by John Morales, the enigmatic frontman of the Nola-based vegan catering and baking company, due to issues in his home life he may have to discontinue the brunch. Those of us who have been stalwart weekly patrons will be eager to see whether the brunches do in fact continue, and if not what might take their place.

The weekly brunches, which have occurred at Grit's every Sunday throughout the summer, have become a center for community activity in Nola's veg community. Regulars have come to depend not only on a weekly fix of tofu benedict and pancakes, but also on the connections and conversations that keep projects moving forward. If the O! Vegasm brunch is in fact on the chopping block, something will need to take its place - and fast.

But Brunch will have its last hurrah, at least - so come and dine with us, for tomorrow we may... have to reorganize. ;)

10.01.2011

Happy Vegan MoFo!

Happy Vegan MoFo 2011! Vegan MoFo - the Vegan Month of Food - is a great time of year, when bloggers all over the world take a month to post every day (or nearly so) about the wonders of vegan food. There are always tons of fab vegan blogs out there, but Vegan MoFo represents a terrific concentration of vegan food love! It's something you've just got to check out. Stop by the Vegan MoFo International Headquarters for a full listing of participating bloggers.

Sadly, this year NOiG isn't participating. (I just started working full time again people! A girl's gotta manage her time!) But we WILL be posting every day over on the Vegan Etsy Team blog, VeganEtsy.com. So check it out, and Happy MoFo! ;)

9.09.2011

Satsuma hosts Irene Benefit:
Serves up vegan delicacies, community spirit

Here in New Orleans, hurricanes are old hat. Around the Gulf Coast, down in the Caribbean, and over by Florida, we expect these things - devastating though they may be. But when Hurricane Irene demolished half of Vermont last week, everyone was a bit shocked. Everyone including a woman named Story.

Story Adams is a barista at Satsuma Cafe in the Bywater, and is better known in the vegan community as co-owner / co-chef of Cashew Cheesus, an up-and-coming vegan food delivery service. As it happens, she grew up in the small town of Wilmington, Vermont. Wilmington was, sadly, one of the hardest hit towns in the storm. Story's mother owns a business which was destroyed in the disaster, one of many businesses and homes in the area which now share a fate with which New Orleanians are all too familiar.

As is frequently the case in a crisis, while many stand around with their mouths hanging agape wondering What To Do, a few spring to action and pave a path for others. So it was that Story and Cassi Dymond, co-owner of Satsuma, found a way to say "we love you, Vermont" the best way they knew how: with food.

Last Wednesday night, Satsuma sent tidings "From New Orleans to Wilmington, VT with love." While it is normally a warm and inviting space, on this night the cafe's interior was stunningly transformed into a chic and sparking dining room with elegant table settings. A gourmet prix fixe dinner was offered, by reservation, for a few dozen enthusiastic and supportive attendees.

Happily in attendance, I dined with a small table of non-vegans (one of whom was eating the vegan menu anyway, because he "likes to switch it up"). Conversation at our table and around the room was entertaining and good-hearted, and turned frequently both to Vermont's struggles in the days to come and to memories of Katrina. It was impossible not to notice that Irene came on Katrina's anniversary, making New Orleanians that much more empathetic to Vermont's plight.

At $40 a head the overwhelmingly successful fundraiser filled the house, and raised approximately $1500 to help Wilmington's Irene victims. Small though it may me in the vast scheme of things, all in attendance were happy to be making some small contribution to the town's recovery efforts. And many new ideas were sparked around the room as to how to help even more.

As for Story, it was obvious that the support of her friends and co-workers for her home town meant the world to her. Indeed, Satsuma and all of its employees who donated their time and effort to make the event come together must be applauded.

But what of the food?

When I inquired about the event, I was told there would be a "vegan option." Option my foot! The vegan and non-vegan selections were substantially the same, with non-vegan plates sporting small garnishing additions (a bit of cheese here, an oyster there). The notable difference came in the entree, where non-vegans received a dish featuring a fish filet. Every detail was accounted for, down to Earth Balance for the bread.

The full vegan menu, presented on parchment, was as follows:
*Sparkling Wine and Satsuma Cocktail
*Creole Tomato and Red Pepper Bloody Mary "shot"
*Carrot Coconut Soup with Basil Oil
*Roasted Beet Salad with Local Satsumas and Candied Pecans
*Hand-cut Black Pepper Tagliatelle with Basil Pesto, Sundried Tomatoes, Roasted Caramelized Whole Garlic Cloves, and Local Shiitakes
*Pound Cake with Alabama Peaches and Cashew Creme


The first food served was the "bloody mary" - this was truly more of an amuse bouche of gazpacho, and could be served in larger portions as a lovely light lunch option. (Dear Satsuma, that's a hint!) The carrot coconut soup is, I am told, a recipe of Cassi's. Sweet and spicy with just a hint of curry, this cold soup is perfect for a summer evening. It's hard to go wrong with a beet salad, and this one featured enormous slices of gorgeous ruby-red beets as well as candied pecans and satsuma slices, providing a cacophony of colors and flavors.

It's hard to say whether the real star of the meal was the entree or the dessert; each was lovingly crafted and expertly executed. We have Chris Smedley to thank for the delectable vegan tagliatelle, which was enough proof for anyone that pesto need not contain cheese to make tastebuds rejoice.

As for the dessert, a good peach is a good peach as Mother Nature intended, and all you have to do there is not get in her way. The skill comes here: never have I tasted a cashew creme so creamy and smooth! The pound cake as well struck a lovely balance between fluffy and dense, just sweet enough with a hint of warm vanilla. And no surprise: the dessert was created by talented pastry chef Ms. Christina Balzebre (with assistance from Story herself). Christina has made it her life's work to perfect gluten-free and vegan recipes; I look forward to seeing more of her creations at Satsuma and elsewhere.

Wednesday's event serves as a trial run for Satsuma's next phase: the cafe plans to offer dinners two to three nights per week beginning in mid-October. According to Cassi, who owns and runs the establishment with her husband Peter Dymond, offerings will be vegan and vegetarian friendly. Menus will change weekly, and meals will likely begin at 8pm following an earlier cafe closing of 5pm on evenings with dinner service.

All in all, it was an extraordinary evening, and with any luck a sign of great things to come.

8.25.2011

TONIGHT: Vegan Drinks New Orleans #2!

Vegans of New Orleans, you had to see it to believe it: Vegan Drinks New Orleans #1 knocked your socks off. Well, hold onto your hats people, because #2 is going to be even better!

John and Paige of O! Vegasm are returning to cook up a storm of vegan goodness. We've all been dreaming of their Gourmet Grilled Cheeze since last month - well, get out of my dreams and into my mouth! And their O! Lasagna! is the stuff happiness is made of.

Dogs of the 9th Ward will be out in full force! Come show your support at their merch table, and pick up some raffle tickets while you're at it. Why would you want to enter the raffle? Oh, I dunno... who would want to win a Hey! Cafe gift pack, a New Orleans Food Co-Op Gift Certificate, or $100 OFF A NEW TATTOO?! Nah, me neither.

And of course, the awesome Jason "chocolate squirrel" Thompson will be slinging the vegan cocktails and mocktails like a pro. There's a little bit of something for everyone - can't wait to see you there!

8.13.2011

Is Hey! Cafe the next Vegan Mecca of New Orleans??

Great news for vegan grilled cheese lovers - Hey! Cafe has added a gourmet grilled cheeze sandwich to its repertoire, thus doubling its vegan sandwich options. It's made with Daiya - what else - and includes tomato and onion. (I of course order mine without the onion. That's just how I roll.) Pressed on a sandwich grill with multigrain bread (Rudi's, I hear), it's a crispy salty treat for all ages.

Was Hey! inspired by the Gourmet Grilled Cheeze served by John Morales and Paige Vann of O! Vegasm at the very first Vegan Drinks New Orleans just a few short weeks ago? Given the team's close relationship with the cafe, it seems likely. Though it must be noted that O! V's creation was made with a lovingly crafted and AMAZINGLY creamy home made cheeze. Goodness knows when I'll stop dreaming of it...

But the sandwich at Hey! is mighty fine. Chase it back with their ruby-colored sweet Hibiscus tea, and if you're feeling crazy treat yourself to one of O! Vegasm's pastries. As had been rumored, the selection has vastly increased in past weeks, with chocolate donuts, pink-coconut-covered snoballs, and a variety of delectable cupcakes making fleeting appearances before being devoured by the hungry masses.

8.04.2011

Vegetarian Delight: The Nola Veg Meetup and NOFC get Potlucky

On Tuesday evening, members and fans of the New Orleans Food Co-op gathered together with the Nola Veg Meetup Group for a Vegetarian Potluck. The event drew a large crowd and an amazing array of veg dishes, ranging from simple raw fruit and vegetable salads to vegan casseroles like stuffed shells and shepherd's pie. The gathering allowed the attendees to make new friends, learn more about the NOFC, and celebrate great food. Best of all (for me), most of the contributions were vegan -I feasted like mad!

Beginning shortly after 6pm, attendees began to arrive with food (as well as reusable cups and plates) in hand. We were all eager to fill our plates, and with so many delicious options it became difficult to choose what to try first. Most of us went back two or three times in an attempt to try each dish - as the evening progressed, more and more potluckers flowed in, filling and refilling the tables with a never-ending supply of fantastic vegetarian delights.

All who attended seemed thrilled with the huge selection of food, and quickly got to the business of eating - and talking! The Co-op space became loud with the cheerful conversation of new friends getting to know each other and discussing veg eating options around town. Many folks had a chance to learn about the NOFC, which will doubtless be a boon to the entire vegetarian community of New Orleans. And a common refrain was, "When will we do this again?!"

The NOFC, slated to open late this summer, plans to offer a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan products for its shoppers. An emphasis will be placed on fresh, local produce as well as a large bulk section, making it easy to purchase affordable, healthful foods. At the potluck, suggestions were collected for specific brands and products that the veg community would like to be able to shop for at the Co-op. Popular items included Follow Your Heart products, Tofurkey products, Whole Soy yogurts, and Almond Breeze milks. The Co-op will be looking for suggestions throughout its opening process, so if you have ideas you should get in touch.

The NOFC is currently refining its product selection guidelines; though still in draft form, the guidelines provide a good idea of what packaged foods will be available. Ideally, the Co-op will not carry products that contain artificial ingredients or those known to be harmful, such as artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, known carcinogens, GMOs, or tobacco products. It will also not carry health and beauty products which have been tested on animals. The Co-op will emphasize products that are sustainably produced, minimally processed and packaged, and either regionally produced or fairly traded. It will also make an effort to carry specifically vegan and gluten-free products, in order to meet its shoppers' needs.

Personally, I am counting the days until the Co-op opens! Until then, I'll stay involved in any way that I can. With the popular demand, I should probably get to work planning the next potluck. ;)

7.29.2011

The Kingpin has gone to the dogs! And they've brought (vegan) food...

Fantastic vegan events are popping up right and left this summer in New Orleans, and now we've got one that benefits dogs in need to boot! This Saturday at the Kingpin, beginning at 7pm, the O! Vegasm! team will be serving up delicious vegan vittles at a benefit for Dogs of the 9th Ward. Other attractions at the event include drink specials, a raffle, and live music!

Details from D9:

Location: The Kingpin

Address: 1307 Lyons Street, just off Prytania (around the corner from the Creole Creamery)

Date: Saturday, July 30, 2011

From: 7:00pm to: 11:00pm

The Pitch: Mark you calendars! Head to the Kingpin on Saturday, July 30th for a really fun fundraiser benefiting DOGS OF THE 9TH WARD! There will be vegan food from O! Vegasm!, a beer special, live music, a raffle, prizes, and much more. Please spread the word - the more the merrier! (While this event is helping all the four-legged rescues at D9, its just for people - sorry pups!)


If you care about dogs and love vegan food, this is one event you definitely don't want to miss. RSVP here - and hope to see you there!

7.22.2011

Vegan Drinks is coming to New Orleans!

For Immediate Release:

Vegan Drinks, a phenomenon which has reached international proportions since its inception in New York City just a few short years ago, is coming to New Orleans!

On Thursday, July 28, the first Vegan Drinks New Orleans event will take place at Grit's Bar uptown from 7 to 10 pm. The gathering serves as an opportunity for the veg community to network and socialize in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. The evening's exciting features include vegan drink specials, vegan food from the O! Vegasm team, and a fundraiser raffle.

Thursday's event is to be the first of many - Vegan Drinks New Orleans is slated to occur on the last Thursday of every month going forward. "Like" the Vegan Drinks New Orleans Facebook page and follow the blog to keep up with any developments, see the bar food menu, get details on each month's fundraising raffles, and more!

SPREAD THE WORD! And see you there! :D

7.18.2011

Vegan! Pastries! at Hey! Cafe from O! Vegasm! Pardon me, I seem to have run out of exclaimation points...

There's a buzz going around vegan New Orleans: that the pastry case at Hey! Cafe will soon be much more exciting. The quirky coffee shop on Magazine Street has been carrying Chef John Morales' vegan cinnamon buns for some time, and vegans and omnis alike have coveted them as precious morsels. But of late, Morales (of O! Vegasm! fame) has been slaving away over a hot oven, and as usual the results are remarkable.

This week a genuine NYC Black & White Cookie made its debut on Hey!'s counter: the sample shipment sold out in two days. I hustled down there the moment I heard and bought two of them, of course. The verdict: that's a black & white cookie alright. For anyone who's spent time in New York (or watched too much Seinfeld), you understand that this is no ordinary cookie. It's more like a round bit of cake. It's a very difficult flavor and texture to match, but Morales has hit it dead on - a little taste of Brooklyn right there in the Garden District.

Bigger plans are in the works. For example: whole cakes (to serve slices from), Hostess "sno ball" style marshmallow coconut chocolate cake bombs, and that holiest of holy grails... VEGAN DONUTS. It's coming people. Get ready.

7.16.2011

New Orleans Vegans are brunching again!

For the sixth week in a row, the vegans of New Orleans will gather at Grit's Bar tomorrow for O! Vegasm's delectable Sunday Brunch. John and Paige have consistently brought us heaping plates of pancakes, vegan benedicts, jambalaya, scones, biscuits, and so much more - each week is a surprise, and at this point we're all addicted.

This week the menu is set to include:
*Vegan Benedicts, second version:
Marinated tofu, fried tomato, and homemade sausage, stacked on a warm biscuit and topped with creamy garlic dill Hollandaise sauce

*Chick'n and Dumplings:
A rich herbaceous broth with carrots, peas, chick'n, and seasoned dumplings (when was the last time you had that?!)

*Cinnamon Roll Pancakes:
Served with Orange Agave Butter and, by request, our Pecan Praline Sauce!
I have to say, I am SUPER psyched about all three of these offerings... it wouldn't be the first time that I'm first in line when Paige starts dishing out plates. If you haven't been to brunch yet, what are you waiting for?

See you tomorrow. ;)

7.12.2011

Millions of peaches, peaches for me: A trip to the Farmer's Market.

Today I finally had the pleasure of visiting the Tulane Square location of the Crescent City Farmer's Market. There I found visitors from all walks of life, perusing a gorgeous array of the freshest local fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

Summer, of course, is a wonderful time for produce. A rainbow of edibles bursts forth from the vine, bush, and tree alike, just begging for inclusion on your plate. I've been terribly negligent this year in including seasonal produce in my meals, and it seemed to me that the Farmer's Market could be the perfect cure.

And indeed it was! I wasn't sure what to expect - most of my experience with these markets came in NYC, where they ran the gamut from the unbearably jam-packed Saturday mornings at the enormous Union Square spread, to slim pickings at a handful of tables on weekdays at Tompkins Square Park. What I found this morning at Tulane Square at the river end of Broadway struck me as the perfect happy medium: manageable crowds, plenty of produce to go around with a hearty sprinkling of prepared foods mixed in, and enough delightful sights and smells to intrigue young and old.

My first stop was at the Market's welcome tent, where I handed over my credit/debit card and for a mere $1 fee (and a voluntary $1 donation to the mother organization) I got back a stack of tokens that work like cash at the vendor stalls. You can, of course, just pay cash as well. But wooden coins are so much more fun! Thus armed, I was ready to explore.

The first thing I noticed was that tomatoes featured prominently at nearly every booth. And for good reason! Tomatoes are wonderful this time of year, and Louisiana excels at producing many varieties. Many summer goodies were on display: eggplant, squashes, stone fruits, leafy greens, and beautiful flowers among them. As you'll notice, I could barely stop myself from taking pictures of everything I saw. There was so much to choose from that it was almost impossible to pick!










But pick I did. I made a complete lap to get a feel for what was available before making any purchases - I'm far too prone to spontaneous purchases to let myself buy without scoping out the lay of the land first. Even so, the choices were almost overwhelming. The farmers do give a bounty of information on their products though, and the Market provides these helpful maps which show where your food is coming from.

My first produce purchases were (eventually) made from Oakland Organic Farm, who seem to have a sense of humor about their organic status. From them I purchased a bit of the most aromatic basil I've ever encountered, as well as three lovely rose-colored heirloom tomatoes. (I heard somewhere that tomato and basil go well together. Anyone know about that?)

This farm had a number of other lovely vegetables and fruits, including this picturesque okra, roma tomatoes, FIGS, mustard greens, and squash. I love me some okra, but I've never known quite what to do with it raw... other than pickle it. I should probably find out.

Next, I was drawn in by a heavenly scent. A farm from Alabama was also selling plums, tomatoes, and nectarines, but the fruit that created the only line at the market was their PEACHES! This is the peak season for those sweet golden-fleshed gems, and these were the best of the best. I can practically smell mine from the kitchen. It's possible that I may have eaten one before even driving home? I'll never tell.

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a fruit whore. It's not surprising - I do way more baking than cooking, because if I'm going to spend that much time in the kitchen I damn well better be coming out of there with cupcakes. The sugar... it calls to me. And with the fruit I think it's the colors as well. Just show me a blue vegetable? So you'll shake your head and say "it figures" when I tell you that the next thing I bought was a POUND of blueberries... for $4! Maybe I just don't know much about the pricing of blueberries, but this stuck me as quite a deal.

Of course I tasted them the minute I got home. PERFECTION. Extra fun: these beauties come from a u-pick farm, specifically Toft Farms in Carriere, Mississippi. The harvest is nearly over, but they told me it would still be worthwhile to stop by this weekend. Field trip anyone?

I thought I was done for the day when I noticed that the hydroponic lettuce man also had dandelion greens. Now, I know that some people eat these. While I myself am not a huge fan, my two rabbits simply can't get enough! Yes, I do spoil my darlings so - but they deserve it.

Now, I mentioned my first produce buy above. But what was my first actual purchase? Well. I tried to resist all of the amazing prepared foods, a surprising number of which were vegan. But when Paul's Palate proceeded to ploy me with his pesto, I was helpless to resist. The delightful mix of lemon and herbs will make a gourmet dinner out of some quinoa pasta tonight. You'll have to climb into my belly if you want to see the small serving of Paul's lentil salad that I purchased; it was the lunch that is now powering me through this mega-post.

On the whole, I can't imagine a more pleasant way to have spent my morning. The event holds a feeling of community as parents show their children what real food looks like, and families come face to face with the farmers who grow it for them. I couldn't be happier with my haul for the day, which includes:
*three heirloom tomatoes
*two bunches of basil
*six huge ripe peaches
*a pound of blueberries
*four bunches of dandelion greens
*a lunch-size portion of lentil salad
*enough pesto for a pound of pasta
*a refreshing cup of iced tea, in a reusable cup!
...all for about $30. To get the freshest and most healthy produce around while simultaneously supporting local growers, and know that none of it was flown in from another continent? A small price to pay, in my opinion. See you next Tuesday at the Market! ;)

7.09.2011

New Orleans Vegan Action in the (virtual) Press

New Orleans is fast on its way to becoming the next vegan hot spot, and the media is taking notice. We've got a few rockin' blogs around town, of course... ;) But above and beyond the community touting its own accomplishments, we're doing enough awesome work that it's become bona fide news.

The Gambit, for example, recently published a short online article on the opening of The Wandering Buddha. (I of course had covered this event the day before, but it's *possible* that the Gambit has more readers than my blog?) They had also been mentioned in the Gambit several days previously in a writeup of "Thrifty Feasts."

Then, just last night Examiner.com told the world about the vegan blogs of New Orleans. And not only that. Our numerous vegan projects were outlined and explored: Wandering Buddha, Vegan Drinks, O! Vegasm, the works. Friends, we're making it happen

To which I say, keep it up. Keep living the dream. Five years from now, no vegan will cringe at the idea of trying to find dinner in New Orleans. They'll all know that we've got food no other city even dreams of.