Monday, October 24, 2011

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Gentle voice of reason and activism

Throughout my journey from a long time pesco vegetarian through vegan activist (and blogger), there was a gentle voice in my ear storytelling, cajoling, rebutting, nudging, and keeping a soft pressure on my logic stream.  I thought about what this woman said, how she said it, how I could fit it into my way of thinking.  I looked forward to her next podcast with incredible anticipation.

Some bloggers made me feel like a bit of a pariah because I hadn't fully made the transition to veganism, let alone a vegan diet.  Not this voice.  This voice spoke of compassion and love and justice and equality.  This voice read stories that brought tears streaming down my face.  I will never get "The Dog's Tale" out of my mind.

There are other things that I find myself telling people.  "Don't do nothing just because you can't do everything."  Did this phrase keep me from thinking about giving up my vegetarianism at a time that I still ate fish and seafood?  Yes.  I might not be here had I not heard it and been dissuaded from believing that  perfection was the only acceptable way to be.

The voice was a voice of patience.  It was almost as if she knew I'd find my way.

I got to personally say, "Thank you," to Colleen over these last 2 days.

Colleen spoke in at the Montclair, NJ Vegan Meetup. After fighting traffic for over 2 hours I arrived with my 12 year old daughter 40 minutes after the talk started  .  My daughter is an avid baker and now uses Colleen's "Joy of Vegan Baking" as her bible, (followed by Hanna Kaminsky's "Vegan Desserts.")  I thought she'd enjoy meeting Colleen since all of her classmates have had the pleasure of eating Colleen's food.

Colleen spoke about choices and where the general public is in their mindset.  How they react when confronted, both internal conversations and the things vegan say to them, and a few question and answers about specific situations people have come up against.

Here is a short video clip of Colleen talking about making choices for what to eat for dinner at dinnertime and a few pics of her speaking.

video





Then on to the book signing for Colleen's "Vegan 30 Day Challenge."  My daughter wanted to start doing more cooking so we bought a copy of "Vegan Table."  It has meals organized around full menus and we can't wait to dive into it.


The next night Colleen was giving a presentation on "Animals In The Arts".  I don't think anyone knew what to expect but it was a multi media presentation about how animals have both been represented in art including books, paintings and movies.

The venue was the Alexander Gray Gallery on West 26th Street.  Co owner David Cabrera welcomed the guests and introduced Colleen.




I hope the next iPhone takes better closeups!


I attempted to list the different areas of the presentation but this is at best an incomplete list of the things that Colleen presented but she did say it would be posted on her website.  Me?  I've just doubled my Netflix queue and used up all my Nook downloads for this and next year.

Discussion was about how animals were treated in the films ranging from Benji, who was a rescue dog and warmed all of our hearts as kids to a cowboy's love for his horse in Kirk Douglass' most favorite role in, "Lucky are the Brave." The parallel between human to human cruelty and human to animal cruelty was pointed out in "Eyes Without a Face".

The link between the inner good in men who commit horrendous acts of violence and their kindness to animals was also explored in films such as "This Gun for Hire."

And finally, in "The Misfits," Marilyn Monroe's screaming base statement of what those men really were.

Here's the list of films, paintings and writings.  This is my list but David sent out a much more comprehensive list you can find here: Colleen's List


--------------------------------
          • Benji
          • Umberto d
          • Lucky are the brave
          • White Mane
          • Princesses Monionoke

          • Parallels of exploitation
          • Au Hasard Balthazar 
          • Eyes Without A Face
          • Blood of the Beast

          • Roald Dahl kiss kiss "pig"
          • Beyond Lies the Wub Philip Dick
          • To Serve Man both the story and Twilight Zone episode
          • Don Lepan and other books

          • Links of violence
          • Children's treatment of animals
          • 4 stages of cruelty
          • Amores Perros
          • Deer Hunter
          • Forbidden Games
          • Killer of Sheep  - Soderburgh
          • You Only Live Once

          • Tough Guys with a Heart of Gold
          • Ghost Dog
          • On the Waterfront
          • This Gun for Hire
          • Gun Crazy
          • Asphalt Jungle
          • Shawshank Redemption

          • Ambassadors of compassion

          • Misfits

 This was one of the more interesting presentations I've seen and certainly unique in dealing with Animals and the Arts.  As vegans we think about how animals are portrayed and used and abused but I believe this is more of an afterthought.  Now Colleen has brought this to the forefront of our minds by pointing out "Here!" and "Look here!"  Even as vegans we can drift through our days without focusing on what we see.  Sometimes it's just a mist across our vision and we don't realize it's obscured until someone hits the windshield wiper switch.  Thanks Colleen.  Very eye opening.



A question and answer period followed and Colleen dealt with one of the most disturbing aspects of animals in art.  If we use a clip of an animal that was abused in a film to bring to light animal suffering and use, does that come into conflict with our current vegan values and in and of itself constitute animal use?

Alexander Gray summing up and thanking Colleen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Gentle voice of reason and activism

Throughout my journey from a long time pesco vegetarian through vegan activist (and blogger), there was a gentle voice in my ear storytelling, cajoling, rebutting, nudging, and keeping a soft pressure on my logic stream.  I thought about what this woman said, how she said it, how I could fit it into my way of thinking.  I looked forward to her next podcast with incredible anticipation.

Some bloggers made me feel like a bit of a pariah because I hadn't fully made the transition to veganism, let alone a vegan diet.  Not this voice.  This voice spoke of compassion and love and justice and equality.  This voice read stories that brought tears streaming down my face.  I will never get "The Dog's Tale" out of my mind.

There are other things that I find myself telling people.  "Don't do nothing just because you can't do everything."  Did this phrase keep me from thinking about giving up my vegetarianism at a time that I still ate fish and seafood?  Yes.  I might not be here had I not heard it and been dissuaded from believing that perfection was the only acceptable way to be.  "The Myth of the Perfect Vegan," was another podcast that rang so true and helped me believe that whatever I was doing was good enough ... until I could do more.

The voice was a voice of patience.  It was almost as if she knew I'd find my way.

I got to personally say, "Thank you," to Colleen over these last 2 days.  She is every bit as kind, gracious and generous with her time as you would imagine.

Colleen spoke in at the Montclair, NJ Vegan Meetup. After fighting traffic for over 2 hours I arrived with my 12 year old daughter 40 minutes after the talk started  .  My daughter is an avid baker and now uses Colleen's "Joy of Vegan Baking" as her bible, (followed by Hanna Kaminsky's "Vegan Desserts.")  I thought she'd enjoy meeting Colleen since all of her classmates have had the pleasure of eating Colleen's food.

Colleen spoke about choices and where the general public is in their mindset.  How they react when confronted, both internal conversations and the things vegan say to them, and a few question and answers about specific situations people have come up against.

Here is a short video clip of Colleen talking about making choices for what to eat for dinner at dinnertime and a few pics of her speaking.

video





Then on to the book signing for Colleen's "Vegan 30 Day Challenge."  My daughter wanted to start doing more cooking so we bought a copy of "Vegan Table."  It has meals organized around full menus and we can't wait to dive into it.  Both books were autographed with a smile and Colleen even mentioned how delighted she was to see how used and dog-earred the cookbook was.


The next night Colleen was giving a presentation on "Animals In The Arts".  I don't think anyone knew what to expect but it was a multi media presentation about how animals have both been represented in art including books, paintings and movies.

The venue was the Alexander Gray Gallery on West 26th Street.  Co owner David Cabrera welcomed the guests and introduced Colleen.




I hope the next iPhone takes better closeups!


I attempted to list the different areas of the presentation but this is at best an incomplete list of the things that Colleen presented.  She did say it would be posted on her website.  Me?  I've just doubled my Netflix queue and used up all my Nook downloads for this and next year.

Discussion was about how animals were treated in the films ranging from Benji, who was a rescue dog and warmed all of our hearts as kids to a cowboy's love for his horse in Kirk Douglass' most favorite role in, "Lucky are the Brave." The parallel between human to human cruelty and human to animal cruelty was pointed out in "Eyes Without a Face".  Paintings and  drawings such as "The 4 Stages of Cruelty," by Hograth depict how cruelty progress from childhood animal abuse to a full circle of cruelty being inflicted back on the human as punishment.

The link between the inner good in men who commit horrendous acts of violence and their kindness to animals was also explored in films such as "This Gun for Hire."

And finally, in "The Misfits," Marilyn Monroe's screaming base statement of what those men really were.

Here's the list of films, paintings and writings.


          • Benji
          • Umberto d
          • Lucky are the brave
          • White Mane
          • Princesses Monionoke

          • Parallels of exploitation
          • Au Hasard Balthazar 
          • Eyes Without A Face
          • Blood of the Beast

          • Roald Dahl kiss kiss "pig"
          • Beyond Lies the Wub Philip Dick
          • To Serve Man both the story and Twilight Zone episode
          • Don Lepan and other books

          • Links of violence
          • Children's treatment of animals
          • 4 stages of cruelty
          • Amores Perros
          • Deer Hunter
          • Forbidden Games
          • Killer of Sheep  - Soderburgh
          • You Only Live Once

          • Tough Guys with a Heart of Gold
          • Ghost Dog
          • On the Waterfront
          • This Gun for Hire
          • Gun Crazy
          • Asphalt Jungle
          • Shawshank Redemption

          • Ambassadors of compassion

          • The Misfits

This was one of the more interesting presentations I've seen and certainly unique in dealing with Animals and the Arts.  As vegans we think about how animals are portrayed and used and abused but I believe this is more of an afterthought or if not that than subconscious much of the time.  Now Colleen has brought this to the forefront of our minds by pointing out "Here!" and "Look here!"  Even as vegans we can drift through our days without focusing on what we see.  Sometimes it's just a mist across our vision and we don't realize it's obscured until someone hits the windshield wiper switch.  Thanks Colleen.  Very eye opening.



A question and answer period followed and Colleen dealt with one of the most disturbing aspects of animals in art.  If we use a clip of an animal that was abused in a film to bring to light animal suffering and use, does that come into conflict with our current vegan values and in and of itself constitute animal use?

Alexander Gray summing up and thanking Colleen.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

About titles and police

The bell curve.  Anything in life can be analyzed by it.  In this case there are people on one end you will ALWAYS listen to and on the other those you will NEVER listen to.  Food choices also have a bell curve.  A vegan diet is at one end and I suppose the late Dr. Atkins on the other, but most fall in the middle somewhere.  Vegans fall on this curve too but that is by default.  Vegans are at one far end.  We must realize that many people who aren't vegans also share this space with us.  People who aren't vegans but eat a 100% plant based diet stand shoulder to shoulder with us.  Vegan police are there too.  


Vegans also have a curve all to themselves.  How strict we are, where we draw the lines and limits of what we will do in terms of daily decisions.  What we will take as medicines, vitamins, and supplements have a bell curve, whether we toss or donate all of our wool and leather or begin a phase in (or out) process has a bell curve.  Whether we don't eat animals, animal products, or anything made with an animal product has a bell curve.  Most fall in the middle; some will still wear old leather but not buy new, some drill down into ingredient lists with a cutting laser and others eat anything that doesn't list an ingredient from an animal.  Arguments about perfection run from the sublime to the ridiculous.  "But ... but  ... but ... what if a bug was stepped on whilst harvesting that coconut???"  Where is the line?  What does the label "vegan" really mean?

The line is wherever you decide to draw it as long as you take a step in reducing animal suffering.  People change in different ways.  Some are cold turkey types and others are phase-it-in types.  Some will just give up eating beef and others all animals. Personally I think any shift in thinking for whatever reason results in less animal use ... and that's a good thing.  But that doesn't make you a "vegan".  It means you've done something good for the animals, the environment and your health but, as has been said a million times, being vegan is more than eating a plant based diet no matter how good shifting towards a plant based might be.

Vegan police have a place and a value.  I never would have thought that sugar had animal ingredients used in its manufacture without a vegan police officer telling me that.  Now it's my choice if I want to put sugar in my coffee with my soy creamer.  Dear Lord, I'm not stirring it with a pork chop!  If we all stopped eating sugar made with bone char would we end animal suffering?  Would we end the suffering of any animals?  Or would we, by suggesting and convincing someone to go vegan at least for one or two meals a week or a meal or two a day, or being vegan before 6 as Bittman suggests, really do more to save a life and reduce the economic demand for animals as food?  It's a movement.  It's a change.  It's not a revolution.  99% of Americans will not one day next week, wake up and identify as vegan or even flip the switch and eat only a non animal diet.  Maybe in a few generations or in a hundred years but not tomorrow.  Tomorrow we can only hope to help someone move in that direction.  When I talk to people I don't set the barre that low.  I advocate a vegan life every chance I get.  (And I do talk to people about this despite the eye rolling of my family and friends accompanied by audible groans, every chance I get).  But it starts with eating less animals.  It starts with changing the economic demand for animal flesh foods.  Stop eating the steak and there will be no leather to ponder buying.  As that market dries up an economic incentive develops to produce warm clothes made from non animal materials.  Eventually these will be less and less expensive as economies of scale take hold.  Attacking the sugar eating vegan is counterproductive and will do nothing to stop the slaughter of cows.  Informing them of this fact might change their consumption of sugar because ethically they don't want to eat anything made using animal products and you might be doing them a favor by telling them that but that is not how we're going to have the most impact regarding the elimination of animal use.

We as advocates also must think about not only our message but our delivery system.  Many people, rightly or wrongly, hear how the message is delivered rather than the message itself.  Explanations, reminders, gentle coaxing and pervasive discussions work much better over the long term, with most people, than yelling and going all firecracker on them.  Just my opinion and experience.  

Lets talk a moment about titles since that is what this is ultimately all about.  Fish and seafood were my last animal food holdouts. As a pilot I would often find myself without any vegan options on a menu.  As a pilot I eat on the road A LOT but my mind wasn't open yet to the salad as a meal or steamed veggies as a meal.  (I've come to learn that changing one's palate takes some time and desire).  I wanted a MEAL!  I wanted everyplace to offer some sort of tofu or seitan or tempeh in a sauce, with ... sustenance!  Something I could sink my teeth into.  So I ate fish or seafood as a fallback maybe once or twice a month.  I was vegan at home.  100%.  I was mostly vegan on the road except for these rare situations.  I identified as a vegan.  I mean hell, I was almost there, right?  Well, no.  I couldn't do anything but confuse someone by saying I was a vegan who ate fish.  That's not a vegan.  I started using the word veganesque and that sat well with me for awhile but I have to tell you that when I made the decision to cut out all animal products from my diet and align myself fully with the abolitionist camp it felt GOOD.  There was no grey area, no explanations, no defending my position.  (Does a clam really feel anything?  Should I worry about eating animals that eat their young?)  I bought my first pair of vegan shoes and a vegan belt.  I thought long and hard about making animals feel better, (animal welfare), or eliminating their use, (abolition), and where I should spend my time, effort and energy.  My food blog, Marty's Flying Vegan Review, took on a new meaning to seriously show how with ofttimes no advance preparation one can find pretty good vegan meals all over the world.  (Being vegan isn't hard but it does take more effort in our current animal centric environment).

Call yourself vegan-ish, vegan-eseqe, eat mostly a vegan diet, or use any other qualifier that specifically says you aren't vegan if your intent isn't to embrace veganism and all it stands for.  Vegan is more about mind set, intent and philosophy.  It's not about perfection.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Seasoned Vegan ... Hiding in Harlem, NY

Life is serendipitous.  Look in just the right place at just the right time and you spend the rest of your life with your soulmate.  Sliding Doors and all that.

So I was bored and just looking at my iPhone Tweetdeck and I see the menu of the day scroll by.  Serendipitous, right?  I ask half heartedly where this feast is being served thinking there are a million places I'm NOT going to be this beautiful fall day, ready to file it away for a visit to some distant city, but the answer actually is the one place I AM going to be.  (Or could easily take a little detour to).  283 West 118th Street.  I'm game.  You never know, in New York City, about a neighborhood.  Or a particular block.  You can find either a diamond in the rough or a blemish in a diamond.  As you can see in the picture below this area of New York City has new Co-ops going up and still has blocks of what the quintessential NY is architecturally known for; brownstones.  This isn't really Harlem but Morningside Heights.  I just liked the Hiding in Harlem title.  What goes with Morningside Heights?  MMMmmm...?

This "restaurant" is a little subspace inside of a little space called Lee Lee's Bakery.  Lee's has it's own, (non vegan) history and a tradition of baking Jewish traditional sweets like rugaluch, and it was a tad disappointing, although I'm trying to limit my sweets to between none and non existent, to not be able to sample Mr. Lee's delicious looking treats.  

There is nothing indicating that a vegan establishment lives here.  You just gotta know.

You have to force your eyes away from the sweets and 90 degrees to your right is a hot counter manned by Aaron, the chef/owner's son.  About 10 items await your selection and there is a standup menu board at the ready to confound and befuddle you.  I wanted it all.

Aaron is dishing out the comfort on a plate.  Mom was out and didn't get back before I left so I owe her a picture.

Different days have different themes and this was Soul Saturday.  Others are Fish Friday and Italian Night.  All vegan.  I got the XXLarge plate for 15 bucks plus an extra side for 4.  XXL.  It sort of sounds like I'm just a fat man buying a shirt.  I'd work on those names a bit.

I had a taste of the Lemon Crispy Nugget and although I could see chowing down on 6 or 20 of them with a side of fries I opted for the more sauced items.  I just like to sample the work of the chef and a fried nugget turns my brain into a caveman in a bite and a chew but breading something and frying it can't come close to showing off the chef's mastery of flavor profiles.

Open only on Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat, and Sunday, there are 5 menus.  The website says 12-7PM.

I had work to do at home so got everything to go which seems to be the way everyone who stopped by chose to consume their food.  There are also only 2 tables in a corner of the small bakery so finding a park bench or kitchen table to eat on might be a good plan.  You always lose a point or two when something goes into a "to go" container but this meal lost none of it's flavor.  Soul Saturday was a tin filled with most amazing southern comfort foods.

From the top: Yams with raisins and coconut, Collards, BBQ Ribs, Steamed Chicken, Mac and Cheese and a lone corn muffin.


The corn muffin had a delicious sweet corn taste but the sides were a bit chewy.  The collards were well cooked.  I don't know how you can have a hot table with some items and have them not continually cook but the greens were no worse for the wear were definitely well cooked.  I found the predominant flavor to be salty and slightly bitter.

On to the ribs.  The protein itself has a sort of nutty-ish texture to it, almost as if you ground up tempeh and put it back together and less like the meat it was meant to replicate.  But ...  it was slathered in a sweet and smokey BBQ sauce.  Less tomatoey and more molasses-y and sweet and thick.  I was so hoping to have a BBQ just like this as I was getting a lot of tomato based BBQ sauces of late.  It reminded me of back in the day. All it was missing was a bone and I don't like bones in my food anymore so it lacked nothing.  But ... there was only 1 and I think that's less than a portion.  Aaron and I were talking about this and that and the other things in life so perhaps he just forgot a piece or two.  There were 3 chicken "thigh" sort of pieces and they did have a bone in them.  Well, a stick anyway.  Although Aaron said it wasn't from May Wah I've seen this kind of protein around.  It's a meaty protein with a touch of sweet and was simmered in a delicious savory stew.  You just pick up the piece by the stick and bite into the soft meat.  It gently pulls away from the stick.

The Mac and "Cheese" gets its own paragraph.  I can describe this side dish in one word. ILLEGAL.  This is so creamy and cheesy if it's not it should be because I think this stuff has to be damn near addicting.  Mac in a mac should, IMHO, be soft and very far from al dente.  It should be bathed in a cheese sauce with a tinge of sharpness and a supporting tone of sweet and this was all that.  If living without cheese is keeping you from being a vegan then you should come here and eat this so I don't have to listen to that stupid excuse anymore.  Balls!

The Baked Yams with Raisins and Coconut were my number two choice.  The texture of the yams were perfect and I, once again, don't know how you do this on a steam table but they were cooked with just a bit of tooth left in them  yet soft enough to mush with your tongue.  The sweet flavor was either maple or brown sugar, (I kept going back and forth), and combined with the coconut and raisins reminded me of a dish I used to have as a kid called candied sweet potatoes.

I mostly eat salads and fruits these days in my Dr. Fuhrman Nutritarian vegan diet of unprocessed foods but this is definitely a place where, for $15 you can compassionately cheat feast like a vegan king.


If you're in the neighborhood, (or not), you should find a way to stop by Lee Lee's and pick up a meal from Seasoned Vegan.  I only had one day of menu items and look forward to dropping in for their other themes.

Seasoned Vegan on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chicago Diner, Chicago, IL

The Chicago Diner.  What can I say about it that hasn't already been said before.  I usually fly into Midway and on a good day it's about a 30-40ish minute drive.  This wasn't a good day.  It took almost an hour.  Yikes.  I hope nobody back at the ranch was waiting for the crew car to get back.  

The guy I was flying with today is one of the more open minded when it comes to food.  Vegan at home and flex on the road.  This is the place to bring people to PROVE you can do it without meat.  And they did.  When all was said and done, the comment I got was, "I'd drive an hour to eat here again."  What else can a Vegan, (well, they do serve cheese, dairy and eggs but I think of it as one of those places that actually take you seriously when you say, "I'm a vegan."), establishment ask for when they put out a plate of food.

No, I mean really.  It wasn't food that was just edible.  It wasn't food that was alright enough to eat but tasted "vegan" or "fake" or "nyeh..."  It was good enough to come back for.  It's not healthy food.  It's diner comfort food.  It's not what I'll be eating on any kind of regular basis but man, when you need a dose of good food bad for you this is the place to find yourself.

Psyching myself up.  There's an eating mission on the other side of that door.
Avert your eyes!!!  These next two pictures are VEGAN OBSCENITIES!!!  Take the children from the room right now.  And you skinny vegans, my God, get the sunglasses on right now.  I've intentionally scrolled this down so you won't be tempted to look.  Or, well, you'll be tempted to look.  Fine.  I warned you.  Go ahead in all your gluttonous glory.





















Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

A better shot of 15,000 calories.  Delicious calories to be sure.
Now I'm saying this up front.  I didn't order this and I didn't drink it but I had a small taste of heaven with that spoon sitting on the table.  I do believe it's possible to live on these.  Put this on your bucket list.

We ordered 2 sandwiches and split them.  Each came with a side of wings, one BBQ and one Buffalo.  The wings, when hot, were like meat falling off the bone.  Tender, soft, perfect texture.  As they cooled they got a bit tougher and chewier but there were only 2 left that we didn't eat.  The Buffalo had a bit of heat but nothing mindblowing, just a reminder that they were from Buffalo and winter was coming.  The BBQ was a sweet, wet sauce.

BBQ wings and Philly Cheese Steak
In addition to the sweet onions and soft peppers and the creaminess of the cheese the seitan had a nice seared crust to it adding to the texture mix.

PHILLY“STEAK” 9.50 Roast beef style seitan, with sauteed peppers & onions, melted cheeze on a toasted hoagie.
THE RADICAL REUBENTM 10.50 Corned “beef” seitan, grilled onions, peppers, sauerkraut, vegan Thousand Island & cheeze, on marbled rye. 
The Radical Reuben has a soft rye/pumpernickel bread and comes scarily close to the (memory) of the real thing.  It's a softer seitan, one that seems to have been braised for hours to soften and flavor it with salt and pepper corning, the crunch of the sauerkraut and the creaminess of the dressing come together to satisfy the deepest recesses of the NY Deli memories in my brain.

2 different sides of Kale.  We both preferred the cold Kale Salad to the right.  Bursting with flavor as opposed to the "Flashed Greens"  cooked Kale which was sort of just  ... cooked.
Not a bad price for all this food.  Now if only there wasn't so much traffic from Midway to Halston St. we could do this on a day when we had less than 8 hours to kill. This truly is a place to bring carnivores, (or anyone who appreciates a really outstanding diner comfort food meal), to eat.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Austin, Texas, vegan food truck autobahn

This is a long one folks.  There are 3 places in this post:  Counter Culture, Conscious Cravings, and the Vegan Yacht.

I have looked forward to a night in Austin ever since the Food Network did that special on Vegans.  Or was it vegetarians.  And I looked up vegan Austin and saw choice after choice after choice.  My facebook buddies at Engine 2 diet and Molly at Lonestarplate helped pick out a few places.  

We started at Counter Culture for dinner.  I was traveling with a new crewmember whose dietary inclinations I hadn't been able to nail down but I got the "If it's good I'll eat it," vibe. I was actually surprised, coming from NYC and basically having either hot dog cart sized food vendors or mega Taco Trucks, (Yeah, like on the Great American Food Truck Race), when I almost drove by this small sky blue trailer.  (You will always be in my heart Seabirds).  

It sort of blended into the background as I was driving though an unfamiliar area.
I do love the name.  Aren't all of us vegans a bit counter?

The menu isn't very extensive.  I was torn between my all time favorite of Philly Cheese Steak and something I hadn't had before.  

The grill is right by the window which I thought was mega cool.

Always looking to pick up a pointer or two by watching a chef.  Now all I need is a flattop in my kitchen.
There were only 5 sandwiches on the menu and in the spirit of taking one for the team I got both of the ones that caught my eye.  Molly met us there and although she had already eaten, joined us in conversation at the darkening table when the food was ready.

Darkness descended way too quickly and half the lights weren't working so the food started to meld into the darkness of night.
There were things I liked and didn't like about each sandwich.  First, I love a sandwich.  I thought this bread was a tad on the dry side and as such sort of pushed the insides out with each bite.  I loved the seitan.  It had a nice rich flavor and texturally was something to sink your teeth into.  I have to say though, that for a Philly Cheese Steak, it missed the mark.  Seitan in that sandwich should be sliced thin, almost shaved, and this was thick slabs.  It was good but not a Philly  Cheese steak kind of consistency.  Also, the cashew cream "cheese".  It was tasty unto itself but didn't mimic the stringy cheesy-ness of the original sandwich.  The peppers and onions were sauteed to the perfect melt in your mouth texture.  Put this on a baguette style bread and swap over to Follow Your Heart or Daiya and I think the sandwich would rock.

Philly Seitan Sandwich


Now the Jackfruit.  Ah Jackfruit.  I've never had jackfruit before so when I heard it was a close imitation of pulled pork I was all in.  Once again, the bread was perhaps really fresh earlier in the day and this was closing time, but I thought it was a little drier than I'd have liked.  As for the main ingredient, I wasn't impressed.  The jackfruit was canned and perhaps it needed a bit more washing but it had that "canny" or briny taste that canned water chestnuts or canned bamboo pick up.  The BBQ sauce had a piquant tone to it and with the pickles shifted away a bit from the classic pulled pork taste but was good.  It didn't cover up the tinny-ness of the fruit though.  Texturally it was interesting.  There was plenty of stringy-ness but also had small pieces of a more fruit texture.

I went out and bought 4 cans and jars of jackfruit just to see what it's like in it's initial form. Stay tuned.

Jackfruit.



The sandwiches both had a very nice presentation. 

What we ordered that I don't unfortunately have a picture of was the raw Chocolate Mint Cheesecake.  This rocked. If Molly wasn't there, and if I was the one who ordered it, I would have scarfed the whole thing down, uncontrollably.  The mint was a soft undertone for the chocolate and the consistency was exactly like cheesecake except it had little cocoa nibs which made it more like a chunky cheesecake. I'm not sure about the nibishy thing but all in all this one is a keeper.

Monkey Wrench Books.

Right next door to Counter Culture is the Monkey Wrench Bookstore.  I am reading "Green is the New Red" and Molly said the bookstore was mentioned as a place where activism and organizing had taken place in the past.  I would have liked to have gone in but it was, of course, closed early that night.

The next day we had an afternoon departure.  I really wanted to hit the Vegan Yacht.  I pulled out Happy Cow and looked up the Yacht but the hours listed said they opened at 3PM.  I thought about how nice it would be to sleep late every day and go to bed at the crack of dawn but set our course for Conscious Cravings, also highly recommended.

Austin has these little food truck "courts."  I don't know if they're permanent or trucks come and go but Conscious Cravings was in the back of this little enclave.

Conscious Cravings isn't vegan but everything can be made vegan.  There is always a little worry in the back of my mind at places like this but as far as I could tell everything came out as I had ordered.  


More the size of a food truck than Counter Culture but less to see of the production side of things.
Wasn't Lucy filmed in one of these?  She was preparing lunch while Desi drove.  This is a non vegan seafood truck right next to Conscious Cravings.  Although this trailer had a fairly steady stream of customers, there was another trailer which was closed and another trailer serving steaks didn't have one customer while we were there.  Apparently vegan is the reason to head over here!

Just to get going I ordered the Mango smoothie.  Not much to say about a smoothie except it had a nice balance of fruit and sweet, nothing overpowering.

Mango Sorbet, fruit juice, banana, and mango. for $3.50

Since we both were ready to chow down, the fries were our appetizer.  I thought they were ok, nothing special.  There was a hint of rosemary but it didn't seem to become evident until the bottom of the bag where there was a much higher ratio of rosemary leaves to fries.


Rosemary Baked Fries $2.00



The menu is mostly hot wraps and we chose 3 to split.  I'm going to say that if these were all hero/hoagie/submarine sandwiches, (depending on where you are in the country), they would have been a notch higher in my culinary book but all three were excellent.


These bags reminded me of how Chinese Spare Ribs use to come.  What's in these is much much better.

The young lady working the window took our wraps back and put them in individual containers after cutting them in half after she heard we were going to share them.  I like when people are attuned to the needs of their customers.


It's sort of unimpressive just sitting there in it's little box.  Wait.

The first wrap was the Spicy Chickpea Wrap.  (All of these had the whole wheat tortilla and all of the wraps were $5.00.  How can you go wrong?  You can also substitute the wrap for a bed of quinoa).   This was a nice fusion of Indian food in a wrap.  It was spicy but the heat level was a comfortable warm, nothing killer, and blended so well with all the ingredients.  A bit messy to eat, stop whining, just grab a knife and fork or a few napkins.


Spicy Chickpea Wrap Tender chickpeas simmered in Indian spices, snuggled on a bed of
lettuce, onion and tomatoes and wrapped with a scrumptious green sauce.

The second wrap was highly recommended (and I highly recommend it as well!), and although didn't have near the spice as the first wrap had a nice flavor.  The description said refreshing and I concur.  Without better words to describe the sauce, it was green, clean and crisp and ... refreshing.


Chimichurri Seitan Grilled wheat protein in a refreshing green chimichurri sauce mixed with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Choice of dairy or vegan Daiya cheese.



The last wrap was the BBQ and it was a thicker sauce than was found the previous night. The seitan in both sandwiches was breaded and fried and cooked to a melt in your mouth chewiness.  The BBQ sauce also had a bit of heat and I thought it was just the right blend of tomato, spice and heat.


BBQ Seitan Homemade wheat protein nuggets grilled and smothered in an agave-ginger barbecue sauce. Served with lettuce and sliced red onion.

I got a side order of the quinoa rice pilaf, (no picture), and in all probability we should have gotten at least one of the meals on this instead of the wrap.  It was light, fluffy, and although didn't pack a powerhouse of taste, it's the canvas to the rest of the dish.

Now although Happy Cow said it was closed, I just wanted to see where the Vegan Yacht was.  We drove by and lo and behold, it was open.  I mentioned that their website said they weren't open until 3PM and boy did I get some rearing back on some haunches.  "It's not OUR website!!" was the sort of reply I got.  Now guys, (and girl), I'm just saying here.  "We told Happy Cow a million times that that was wrong!!"  I get it but why are you making me feel like you're giving me the cold shoulder here?  I want to give you my money.  Pretend to be nice, ok?  Then again it started to rain almost as soon as we got there so maybe the whole world was in a pissy mood.

Still I was glad to have made it here.  Like one of those places I have on an unconscious mecca list.  Even though I didn't get the warm fuzzies from the staff?  owners?  whatever?
I did want to sample their food and figured it would be a decent meal after a few hours at 37,000 feet.

(I even struck up a conversation with about 6 patrons of the other food vendors in this circle of food carts in this unique small trailer park and opened up my sandwiches to sell them on the "vegan food looks great" concept.  I hope they were greeted with a tad more of a welcome than I was should they venture into the vegan waters the yacht sails on).

Extensive menu with a big "X" though some tasty sounding items.

LOOK HERE HAPPY COW!!!

Both of these sandwiches were outstanding.  The ciabatta was soft on the inside and toothy on the crust.  The lettuce, although it looks like it dominates the sandwich, added just the right amount of green crunch.  The field roast has a delicious savory flavor and with the veganaise adding a creamy touch of fat, the olives in the bread a touch of salt, the tomato a touch of cool, and the cranberry a touch of sweet it was a perfect storm of flavor (notice the nautical weather reference here), and texture.

the leftovers-organic olive ciabatta… one side vegenaise! one side cranberry! grilled slices of field roast! organic lettuce and tomato! everyday is a holiday once again and we are all going to be ok.



The Mock Chick'n sandwich had a bit more of the "healthy" sprouty flavor.  I would suggest, (without getting my head torn off), that the carrots got a little in the way of eating the sandwich and also was fighting for attention with the chick'n salad.  Cut them down to a mere few as an afterthought and this sandwich, for a cold sandwich, inches towards the top of the charts.

mock chick’n sammie-our mouth watering mock chick’n salad (tvp) with organic green leaf lettuce and organic tomato slices atop  with a vegenaise coated organic olive ciabatta bread holding it all together.

Austin has an absolutely amazing selection of inexpensive vegan offerings.  One of the 6 patrons eating in the rain, although admitted he wasn't vegan, suggested Beets as a more upscale place.  

These places are all great for a quick bite or pickup for a trip but I look forward to sampling much more of what Vegan Austin has to offer.