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!


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


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.


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. ;)


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! ;)


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.


Fleur de Lis Photo Contest on 411nola!

You know I'll be entering... :D
Win an 8×10 copy of this photo to frame in your home. Valued at over $100, this photo (taken of the gate surrounding Jackson Square) can be yours if you are the winner of the 411 NOLA Fleur de Lis Photo Contest. To enter, email 411 NOLA your name, your mailing address, and your own photo of a fleur de lis (of any kind from anywhere in the world) by July 24, 2011 at 11:59 p. m. CDT. Make sure to put “Fleur de Lis Photo Contest” in the subject line of your email. Limit two entries per email address. Your photo will be uploaded onto the site for all to see. 411 NOLA will pick the top 4 winners and then our readers will pick the first place finalist who will win an 8×10 print of this photo. The 3 runner ups will win a set of 4 photo note cards with this image on them. There is no cost to enter this contest. Questions? Email us here.


Buddha Buzz:
The Wandering Buddha Finds a Permanent Home at the Hi-Ho

Does New Orleans finally have its very own vegan restaurant? If you enjoy well prepared, traditional Korean food and don't mind eating at a bar, I believe it sure does. Over the course of June,the team of Christion Troxell and Colleen Cronin took root in the kitchen of the infamous Hi-Ho Lounge on St. Claude Avenue (just downriver of Elysian Fields). And after their Grand Opening party on Friday the 8th, they'll be open for dinner six days a week.

Their social media profiles proudly proclaim a simple mission: to show the people of New Orleans that "good food is universal, whether it's vegan or not!" As a huge proponent of delicious vegan food, I couldn't agree more. And if you're looking for authentic Korean cuisine, you're not going to do much better than this: Cronin has developed the menu out of the foods she knew and loved as a child, as cooked for her by her South Korean mother.

Before this place came along, I was never a huge fan of Korean food. And it's not very prevalent here in Nola. So I'm delighted to say that the dishes I've sampled at the Buddha thus far have blown my mind. Last night's offerings included a main course of dubu jorim (braised sweet-but-savory tofu cutlets), served aside lightly steamed spinach with a delicate sesame flavor, mildly spicy cucumbers, and of course the ubiquitous kimchi.

A word on kimchi. Historically, I have actively disliked and avoided the stuff. But I wanted to have the full Wandering Buddha experience, so instead of shoving it aside like my inner petulent child wanted to I gave it a shot. And it's amazing! Like everything they serve it's being made from scratch, and I believe that makes all the difference. I'm expecting big things at the Grand Opening on Friday, when the full menu will be unveiled and there will be free samples!

So as of this moment, I'm encouraging each and every one of you to come out on Friday and support this new venture! New Orleans now has one more place to find amazing food, to which I say hell yes.

To keep up with all the developments over at The Wandering Buddha, make sure to check out their website and Facebook page.

See you Friday!


You're joking. You haven't heard about O! Vegasm yet?!

People, people! Keep your finger on the pulse already! Of the numerous exciting developments happening in Nola's vegan community right now, O! Vegasm's Sunday Brunch at Grit's Bar is definitely in the top three**. I'm getting ready to head there right now - I'd be devastated if I missed this week's vegan french toast.

Now that I've got your attention, you should read my writeup over on 411nola. That pretty much says it all. And don't forget to check out O! Vegasm's FB page. See you next Sunday. ;)


**What are the other two? Don't worry, I'll be talking about them real, real soon.


Go to Juan's! Eat the Spicy Vegan Island Tacos! NOW!!

Dear vegetarians and vegans of New Orleans, this is my call to you. For years we've practically been begging Juan's Flying Burrito to understand that vegans would just love to throw more business their way. But they make it kinda impossible, since we constantly have to be like, "oh, but can you leave off the cheese and the sour cream and the meat, and substitute avocado for the..." It *is* of course totally possible to have a good vegan meal there, but sheesh. Sometimes we'd just like to order off the menu, ya know? Why make it so hard?

WELL. They finally got the message - last month the Magazine Street store introduced the Spicy Vegan Island Tacos special, and they've been going strong ever since. Now, when they say spicy, they are seriously for really real. I order mine without the habanero salsa, because I am a huge spice wimp. The tacos stand alone just fine without: "Grilled Onions, Sweet Potatoes, Leaf Spinach, and Mango Salsa atop smashed Black Beans on Flour Tortillas with shredded Lettuce, sliced Avocados, and Cucumber". Umm... yeah! All that and then some.

And so, I implore you: visit good ol' Juan's. Order the vegan tacos. Tell your server how awesome they are, and how much you'd just love to see them on the permanant menu. BE SUPER NICE - this is crucial. And while you're at it, have a mojito... they're served in a pint glass. Happy Summer! ;)


Theo's Vegan-ator does not disappoint.

Theo's Neighborhood Pizza
4024 Canal Street, 4218 Magazine Street
summary: good pizza with vegan crust, multitude of veg toppings available, casual comfortable atmosphere
rating: four of five fleurs

When I popped into the Canal Street location of Theo's Neighborhood Pizza for a menu, I really wasn't expecting anything special. Imagine my surprise when I saw a "new" option dubbed the Vegan-ator! I knew that I'd be dining at Theo's in the near future. That future became present on Wednesday evening at their Magazine Street location, a block off Napoleon and lucky for me just a short walk from my house. Have I mentioned I love living Uptown?

I was expecting table service, but what I found was something in between table and counter: you order at the small raised bar in the back, and then your pie is brought to you... eventually. As is explained on the menu, each pizza is baked for approximately 30 minutes. Meaning you will wait at least that long for your meal. So basically, if you're going to Theo's, bring someone you enjoy talking to. But hey, freshly baked pizza straight from the oven - who's going to complain about that?

So we ordered our Vegan-ator, got our Bootsy Collins table marker, and settled in to observe the scene. What we saw: girls' nites out, families having together time, office mates grabing a bite after work, and overall a steady but never crowded flow in the close but comfortable space.

The table markers themselves deserve comment: each is a colorful image of a notable character. As you can see, ours ROCKED. After posting this pic on FB, I received a number of entertaining comments, including the following: "Oh hell to the yeah! Sh*t! Goddamn! Get off your ass and jam!" and "I went to the Theo's in midcity and my table marker was a Magnum PI collage. Hawt! ;)" Clearly I am not the only person who appreciates this bit of flair.

But what you're really wondering about is the food, right? Well. Personally, I feel that the Vegan-ator lives up to its name. What was delivered to our table, fresh from the oven and piping hot, was a pie covered with heaps of fresh tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes (properly rehydrated for once, thank you), yellow squash, mushrooms, jalapeƱos, red onion, whole roasted garlic cloves, pineapple (!), and what must have been an entire jar's worth of whole kalamata olives. Given that I'm picky about certain ingredients, I could have lived without a few of these. But I was impressed that such effort went into making a lovely all-vegetable presentation.

Now as for the eating. The sauce is just what I look for: straightforward tomato. No messing around, and just enough of it. The crust is, frankly, my least favorite kind, so thin it's nearly like a cracker. But that's a personal preference. And even so, I enjoyed eating it, AND it's confirmed vegan, so really I'm not complaining. Overall I was very pleased with the Vegan-ator experience, but next time I may go custom. Given their list of over twenty veggies there are a LOT of mix-and-match possibilities, particularly with two sauce options available (traditional tomato or just straight olive oil).

We asked one of the very nice and laid back servers whether, if we brought in our own vegan cheese, it could be added to our pizza. We received an enthusiastic "Yeah, sure!" in response! Honestly I wasn't missing cheese at all and I don't think this pizza needs it, but it *is* good to know.

One final note for those of you keeping it vegan and wheat free: while Theo's does offer a gluten-free crust for an extra $4 (small pizza only), it is NOT vegan. *sadface*

Theo's, you've won a place in my directory and in my heart. Let's talk about getting a few more vegan options on the menu, eh? A sandwich maybe, or, hey, a salad? I'll be back again, and I'll be bringing friends. After all, I'll need someone to talk to while my pizza's in the oven.