Saturday, June 30, 2012

Turkish in Riverhead, NY, on the river at Turkuaz Grill

I know some of you like when I post pictures I take when I'm high so here's a few of New York City.  (Oh, not that high, I'm randomly drug tested ... duh.  But I do look forward to retirement in 75 or 80 years when I'm sure there will be Bong and Munchy bars on every other corner).

We ended up in the arrival line to JFK even though we were headed to Westhampton, (KFOK), and after slowing down, speeding up, turning lengthy racetrack vectored patterns over New Jersey I thought I'd entertain myself whilst looking out the window for traffic, (ever vigilant in straight and level flight), at 11,000 feet and snap a few pics of my house.

 You can plainly see where I live.  Upper East Side of Manhattan.  Well, I can see it.

Can you find the airport?  Which one?  I have no clue.  I'm lost as usual.
North shore of Long Island and South Shore of Connecticut.

Invercargill Vegan Society pin at Westhampton (Gabreski) Airport, (KFOK).
Our first stop in Riverhead was at the one and only health food store, The Green Earth Natural Food Market.  It has a modest selection of items that I might be able to use but most notably missing soy (or other) milks from the fridge and no Daiya cheese.  Without my two go to items what could I get?  A smoothie.  I just told the proprietor to mix some fruit, a banana, veggies and some greens and this is what I got.  Not bad at all but for nearly 10 bucks, wow.  All the same, better to have a ten dollar smoothie made with organic fruits and veggies than a Diet Coke anyway.  I don't mean to say there's nothing of value here, just that whilst on the road there was less of what I needed for my cooler bag.  There is a Cafe Menu and Smoothie Menu online but I didn't see anything obvious in the store hanging on the walls.  There were two hot crock pots of soup and although they smelled good enough, to be honest, they might have benefited from a swipe with a wet rag.  I might have just missed the late afternoon soup rush but still.  I know a small business, especially a Health Food store on the East End of Long Island must be a struggle.  I'm glad to support them with my smoothie money and perhaps one day will make it back for something more substantial.

I drank this much before I even though of taking a picture.  
Whilst waiting for my smoothie I asked where one might procure a decent vegan meal and was told the Athena Grill might be able to serve up a decent plate of grilled veggies.  (I personally consider this an oxymoron and an insult to and by a chef).  I wasn't thrilled but then the proprietor of Green Earth suggested a Turkish place next to the Aquarium.  In case you didn't know, in Greek, that means "Fish Prison."  Knowing a bit about the history between Turks and Greeks I thought it worth a go.

Perhaps there would be fireworks.  After following the GPS around in a few circles, (in a pretty small town no less), we fount this:

It's actually the side of this:

And if you look there are outdoor tables under umbrellas and a really nice river to look at.

Since I used to live on the water and my flying partner was from Cincinnati and didn't have as much water gazing in his logbook as I, this was my view.  Still, much nicer than the side of the building.

The menu had a few possibilities and although the Babaganoush has yogurt, (no surprise), so does the Hummus.  I asked the waiter, "Really?"  He said, "Sure!"  Huh.  OK, so I explained the vegan thing to him and out of the few things he suggested only one had Feta cheese, which I queried him about and he said, "Sooo, no."

 I got the Eggplant with Tomato Sauce ...

The Falafel wrap with no yogurt sauce.  (It still came but on the side in a plastic container).

and the Spicy Mashed Vegetables.

This was my favorite dish of the night.  It was the Eggplant dish.  It had a bit of garlic but a really nice hint of sweet.  I liked the soft chunks of eggplant, (I don't like when eggplant has a hardness left in it), and the other veggies, while very well stewed, still held their shape.  The only thing I wish was that there wasn't so much oil laying on the bottom as you can see 2 pictures down.

The Spicy Mashed Vegetables were also good but nothing over the top.  The main spice came from the raw garlic and the texture was like a nut paste.  I thought it was a decent enough spread for the pita.  I would have liked it to really pack a wallop in the spice department and when I asked for hot sauce they brought me the traditional hot sauce of Turkey, apparently, Trappy's Louisiana Hot Sauce.  I would have preferred a Schrug, or other mid eastern, southeastern Europe chili based sauce.

As you can see on the left, there's mostly water in the bottom of the plate, on the right, mostly oil.
The Falafel was good, certainly above the barre, but could have used a bit more spice.  I enjoyed that it was cooked a bit longer than most and had a decent crust which added to the texture of the bit.  I got nervous, however, when the plate was initially put before me, and saw the white sauce.  I actually took the plate inside and was assured by more than one person, including the chef, that it was just Tahini and contained no dairy at all.

The inside of the place has a warm efficient look to it with hard backed chairs and yet I felt good when I was inside.  I don't know how to describe it.  I wouldn't have minded eating inside had the weather been a bit crisper.

On the way to the men's room I passed by the fridge and looked at the ingredients in both the whole wheat and regular pita's and they are both made without milk.

I was hoping to eat for a bit less but with 2 apps and a wrap I guess this isn't bad.  So close to the Hamptons I guess this is a bargain.  There was certainly enough food for the money.

Here's a better shot of the restaurant.  The river runs to the left.

On my usual expedition to the local food store, (Wild by Nature ... which I first discovered in Palm Springs, CA and apparently has a few locations in New York), I came upon this new brand of Ice Cream.  So many flavors and most importantly the word VEGAN predominantly displayed on the container.  I didn't try any as it would have all melted in the fridge compelling me to add it all to my 4AM cup of coffee turning it into a 1200 calorie breakfast so if anyone had tried it please let me know your thoughts.

So much for the adventure in the Hamptons.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Answer to "Mostly Vegan" Huff Post article

Since Huff Post only allows 250 word comments, here is my full response to the article "On Being a Mostly Vegan" by Sasha Turgman

My road to veganism was a slow transition, not a right angled turn.  I want to differentiate someone who eats a plant based diet from someone who is a vegan.  More power to those who shift their diets.  A vegan is someone who refuses to participate in the oppression of another being, IMHO of course.

Fish and seafood were the last animal products I omitted in my diet.  I would have them 2 or 3 times a month, usually when on the road and unable to find any 100% plant options that INTERESTED me.  I still ate a plant based diet and called myself a "vegan."  Only now, years later, do I realize the confusion that title caused.  Vegan-esque, vegan-ish all are descriptors of a mostly plant based diet. Vegan is a lifestyle, a philosophy, a belief system which includes a 100% plant based diet but much, much more. 

I went vegetarian for my health and replaced animal flesh with Mozzarella En Carozza and Doritos.  When I started to not feel so great I did a little research, began to cook, (got really good at cooking), and a funny thing happened.  Whilst doing research into how to eat a healthy plant based diet, (and we all know how many opinions about that there are out there), you absolutely will come across information about how our food is brought to the table.  Pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and industrialized animal farming will all become household words to you.  You discover things about your food you really didn't want to know.  I found this information empowering.

I started to doubt the wisdom of eating fish when my daughter begged me to make swordfish with Giada DiLaurentis' Mango Salsa.  It was a family favorite but in the discussion I found myself saying things like, "The government recommends that we only have swordfish twice a year," and, "Because it has mercury and it's bad for your brain because it's a heavy metal poison."  If this doesn't stop and make you think about how much you really really want to eat something I don't know what will.  (Would you eat something if someone said it contained strychnine? You can have a little bit but not too much!).  So I really started to question why we ate things that were toxic!

My last straw, to finally give up the last pesco remnants of my old diet was when I read a report about the levels of toxic chemicals the EPA (or might have been the DEP, I don't remember), found in fish and 100% of them exceeded the government recommendations for mercury.  That was it.  I became 100% plant based.  Eating seafood just wasn't that important to me.

After seeing so many videos, reading so many books, I have come to the realization that animals are sentient beings and I don't believe we have the right to use anyone, human or non, for our own pleasure or entertainment, whether that's to pleasure our palate or watch an elephant at the circus doing anything but what is natural to her.

There are many small discussions/arguments among vegans that are in a sense petty after one decides to stop eating animals.  Should you throw out all of your leather or wool products?  donate them?  or just make the decision to not purchase them from here on out?  I chose the latter and will still on occasion use my leather work boots.  The funny thing is, I don't feel good about it.  I just don't have an extra $100 dollars sitting around to buy vegan ones.

I went vegan for my health but now I am vegan for the animals.  I feel that we can make the world a better place if we do our parts to minimize pain, suffering, and live a more compassionate life.  If you want to participate in Meatless Mondays, have one animal product free meal each day, or any other iteration of moving towards a 100% plant based diet I applaud you.  If you eat mostly plants and can't give up your sushi, it's still better than nothing but I would still say that being 100% plant based is the goal.  Don't do nothing because you can't do everything as Coleen Patrick-Goudreau says.  Go vegan for the animals, for your health, and for the environment.

On Being a Mostly Vegan

I want to differentiate someone who eats a plant based diet from someone who is a vegan. More power to those who shift their diets. A vegan is someone who refuses to participate in the oppression of another being, IMHO of course.

I ate a plant based diet and called myself a "vegan" but still ate fish. Now I realize the confusion that title caused. Vegan is a lifestyle, a philosophy, a belief system which includes a 100% plant based diet but much, much more.

After researching how to eat a more healthy vegetarian diet I found out about chemicals, CAFOs and cruelty.

When my daughter begged me to make swordfish I found myself saying, "The government recommends that we only have swordfish twice a year," and, "Because it has mercury and it's bad for your brain because it's a heavy metal poison." (Would you eat something because you like it if someone said it contained strychnine? Don’t have too much!). I really started to question why we ate things that were toxic and realized eating seafood just wasn't that important to me.

Animals are sentient beings. We don’t have the right to use anyone, human or non, for our own pleasure or entertainment, whether that's to pleasure our palate or watch an elephant at the circus.

Don't do nothing because you can't do everything as Coleen Patrick-Goudreau says.


Full comment at:

Marty's Flying Vegan Review

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Typical Airport Fare? Why Not?

At Chicago'a O'Hare (ORD) between Concourse BC and EF there is a Cibo Express and a Johnny Rockets.

Here's what I bought for a few days supply.

Why not everywhere?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Stand in Fairfield worth a quick stop

I had the pleasure of sitting down with the world famous baker, Hannah Kaminsky, author of 3, (shh, working on a 4th), vegan baking and dessert books.  (I got an advance copy of her latest ice cream book.  Now I have to save up for an ice cream maker although there are some alternative ways to make your frozen desserts).

We met at The Stand in Fairfield, Connecticut.  It's on Mill Plain Road, south of exit 21.  You can literally hit it with a rock from the highway so the good news is that if you're driving and want a healthier faster foodal choice, this is it.

It's in a shopping area, not what I'd call a shopping center or strip mall but a bunch of commercial spaces.  You take a leap of faith and follow a driveway with speed bumps, (lest you're really hungry), to this building.

There is a mix of raw foods and salads, juices and smoothies, sandwiches and a few hot options.

In all fairness I didn't like everything we bought but we did change a few things around so I do want to say I'd give this another shot, (well, I'd come back anyway if I was passing by and hungry), eating their foods as intended, not as we changed them.

Lets get the first two things I didn't like out of the way first.  My smoothie was ugh at best.  Now I did substitute almond milk for water and removed the garlic but it was mostly a non-descript flavor, (if you could taste a color), with an undertone of cucumber.  There are many other combinations available that I'd try over this next time.  I don't think I'd order it even with no changes.  It's originally listed as Kale, Collards, cucumber, apple, garlic avocado and water.  I put greens in all of my daily smoothies at home so am pretty used to drinking my greens but I just don't see this working.

The Ollie Bean wasn't very flavorful although did look sort of nice.  The spread consisting of white beans was rather neutral and topped with sprouts just made it healthy and grassy tasting.  I didn't' really get the salty briny-ness of the olives or capers or much of the garlic or basil.  I would have much preferred eating this on the whole grain bread.  I'm not a really big fan of collard wraps, don't hate them but I can't compare them to the lusciousness of eating fresh bread and to eat like this I have to put the thought, "Eat a healthy meal," in my mind.  This is an eat to live dish and I was much more in the mood for a live to eat sampling.  Just to be clear, it's served on bread but we changed it to a collard wrap.

I enjoyed the quiche.  I thought it had a buttery flavor and did a nice job of putting some sort of custardy egginess into the vegan dish.  It had a very nice pronounced sweetness from the onions and we thought there was cauliflower in there as well.  I saw some stringy-like ingredient which I would have guessed as spaghetti squash.  For me this was an "order again" dish.

My favorite, also an "order again" was the Tempeh Ruben.  BBQ tempeh, sauerkraut, mustard and mayonnaise on toasted bread.  I wouldn't have thought the combination of BBQ and sauerkraut would work but it did.  The kraut wasn't overpowering and the sweetness of the BBQ cut through as the primary flavor.

You can really see how this is much more my cup of tea.  It's comfort on a sandwich and you know you're going to wear the condiments all over your face after the first bite.  I enjoyed the flavor combinations and the textural contrasts of the soft bread and nutty tempeh with the gentle crunch of the kraut and fatty mouthfeel of the mayo.  I thought this was very well done.

I would definitely count this as a place to stop off for a quick bite.  There are some good options no matter which way your foodal inclinations lean at a particular time, whether health conscious or taste driven, (not that they have to be mutually exclusive), but more raw driven perhaps.  It does get a big point for having such easy on/easy off.  They've been open 10 months and I'm looking forward to sampling their wares again.

The Stand Juice Company on Urbanspoon

PETA does this right

As many of you may know I don't see eye to eye on many things PETA says and does.  Well, that goes for many of the welfare issues that, imho, take time, money, energy and other resources from what I call vegan-making.

But in a well laid out presentation I think PETA got this right.  Here's the link:

14 steps that will evolve your views on eating animals

If you like it, forward it to the meat eaters in your life.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Six Flags Great Adventure offers few vegan choices

Great Adventure is a place where you can go and watch how America Eats.  Meat, Chicken and Dairy abound.  If you're a vegetarian or vegan you can dig and dig and find a few options but there is nothing actually held out that says, "Welcome."

"Health," is on no ones tongue.  Nope, not even the tip.

All that being said, Six Flags Great Adventure is an awesome place to spend a day with your kid, (and as a 56 year old, the kid inside each of us).

Here's the food scoop:

First we ate at The Best of the West.  What do you think they serve?

"grilled chicken, chicken fritters, jumbo hamburgers, shredded BBQ port sandwiches and fresh salads"

So I opted for the salad of course.  First I asked for an ingredient list of the dressings and was directed to the condiment table where all of the pre-packaged dressings were.  There only 2 vegan ones that I saw based on the ingredient lists were the Ken's Golden Italian and the Heinz Italian.  Ken's has a lot more ingredients.  I liked the taste a bit better.  Rock and a hard place.  Chemicals for lunch.  Thank you science.
The salad was mostly iceberg lettuce with a few romaine leaves thrown in.  4 grape tomatoes, (slightly shriveled), and a few slices of cucumber.

All of the salad, of course, come with a shredded cheese blend but I asked, (and promptly got), a freshly made, (prepared), salad sans cheese.  The reason I say fresh was that my daughter's salad, which was one already prepared and sitting on the cold refrigerated part of the cafeteria line, was still partly frozen.

I noticed a large sign in the Kingdom Gyro window advertising Hummus and Pita Chips.  Thinking I was probably only one of 3 people in the park who knew what Hummus was I thought it a good idea to vegan-vett the ingredients.

I have, in this whole day, not met one counter-person who knew what the word "vegan" meant.  I asked for a manager and asked for the ingredients.  He very intelligently brought out the whole tub.

Of course I had the iPhone in movie mode so here's a home made movie of Hummus ingredients. The ingredients are totally unreadable but there was no milk listed in the allergens.  The brand, apparently, is also unreadable.  However, if you enjoyed these 4 seconds of graphic footage I'm open to title suggestions.  I ordered the hummus plate and later as I'm eating the pita, (just warmed bread ... not chips at all),  realized I forgot to ask about the bread ingredients.  So I stopped eating them and went on to something else but if anyone is at the park and remembers to ask please leave a comment.

The hummus itself wasn't bad at all and was on the grainier, thicker side but had a passable flavor with some nice seasonings.  Not bad at all for a vegan amusement park ride.  You won't be able to find a carrot or celery stick to scoop it up with but fingers and plastic spoons seem to be readily available.

Off we went to the Boardwalk area which is essentially the Food Court.  When I was buying our Flash Pass someone behind the counter suggested, to my question, there was a vegan restaurant in this area.  Let me assure you there is no cause for celebration because the food area is exactly the same as it was last year.

I went through the same litany of questions with the server, finally asking what his native language was, and whipping up my Veggie Passport vegan statement in Thai.  Unfortunately, after reading the translation of (paraphrased), "I don't eat animals," to my query he swept his hands over all of the offerings, including chicken and shrimp, so understanding clearly didn't occur.  Someone else called over Franklin, who was a manager of sorts, who ran back and checked a few recipes, (I am assuming that's what he did), and confirmed the noodles had egg and the stir fried mixed vegetables had chicken seasoning.  You'll have to ask which one as I didn't take a picture of all that was offered at the serving counter.  I think I understood everything he said but it wasn't a shining ray of clarity as later he said, "Oh you can't have shrimp?"  (He also offered his wife was a vegetarian.)  The string beans and the  broccoli dishes were definitely okay as were the yellow or white rice.  These he assured me had no chicken broth.

In looking back over my dish I am not sure if I got the veggies with what I think was described as chicken bullion powder.  I am now hoping there were 2 different offerings so please be sure to check.  Oy.  Life in an unfriendly vegan world.  This food was very much on the greasy side and I did check and it had no butter.  There is a Japanese, (with Mac and Cheese on the menu), fast food counter just to the left of where I got this food from and Franklin said some of those offerings had butter.  I remember nothing there interested me so turned back to the Ichiban counter.  Perhaps they are both Ichiban as I couldn't find another listing in the Food section of the Six Flags website.  (They all might be called Ichiban.  I don't remember.  Kids wanting to leave, having already eaten and just waiting for me to finish, and all.)

Here's what my plate looked like.  There is green in Six Flags.  I am now NOT 100% sure the mixed veggies were vegan.  Please let me know if you find out it's seasoned with chicken powder.  I also didn't feel that great after eating.  Not sick, just a little rumble.  Perhaps that's what all this grease does when you dump it into a (relatively) healthy system.  (knock on wood).

Next there is the New England Hot Dog Company.
"Why would you even look here?" you might ask.

There clearly is a Veggie Dog option.

 so of course the vegan-vetting produced ... Voila!

This is the only intentional vegan selected option in the park that I have uncovered.  There are other accidental vegan options but if this is accidental then kudos to whomever pointed a finger and said, "We'll take those!"

I asked about the buns and those were Wonder Bread so I didn't even bother looking at the ingredient list.  I ordered 2 dogs, one with sauerkraut and the other with onions.  No buns, they looked sad.  I thought the onions were going to be the Sabarett brand, or reasonable facsimile, stewed in a tomato base but they were grilled.  I asked if the dogs were cooked on a separate grill and they said yes.  I didn't ask about the onions so there's another thing to check if you find yourself next to Nitro.

Unfortunately the dogs weren't actually grilled and judging from the texture were pretty much microwaved.  The onions were nicely caramelized but now that I'm typing this am not sure they were 100% vegan, meaning were they thrown on the grill they cook the franks on or cooked up separately on a clean animal free surface?

While waiting for the kids to finish up in Laser Tag I wandered into Mama Flora's Cucina.  Here's what I discovered although I didn't eat here.  The pasta's only ingredient is Semolina.  It's not an egg pasta.

One ingredient.  How refreshing.

These terrible pics show the 2 vegan possibilities.  One is a vegan hoagie and the other is ziti.  Since I know the ziti is vegan and the chef confirmed the tomato sauce is made in-house and contains NO cheese or dairy or animal based ingredients, we have ziti with tomato sauce.  Pasta with sauce.  Vegan.  And exotic.  Now I notice the menu says "pasta with sauce" so I'd make sure to ask for the ziti ... or check out a bag of whatever spaghetti product it is they use.

The barely visible other option is the Veggie Hoagie.  (Submarine, Hero, or Grinder depending on where you're from).  I really didn't get into the ingredients or cooking method because we couldn't determine if the bread was vegan.  It comes from a local place called Amoroso and I'll have to check this out and get back to you.

I was at Great Adventure and was told you supply the breads to some of the food vendors.  I write a blog about vegan food options.  Can you tell me which of the vendors use your bread and if there are any animal derived ingredients in your products.

Thank you.

Marty's Flying Vegan Review

After that we'll need to get more information about the veggies and how they're grilled.

So there you have it.  A few options.  Nothing to write home about.  I probably raised more questions here than I answered but you won't die of starvation. Still, my thoughts tend towards bringing a few vegan protein bars or some Primal Strips with you even though there are signs clearly stating you are not to bring any outside food into the park.  If only there was a cup of fresh fruit or carrots and celery sticks a la Disneyland.