Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Highlights of Vegan Philly Popup at Tattooed Mom's: Gone Pie & Newman's Boulangerie

A few weeks ago, straight after work, I raced down to South Street just in the nick of time for Philly May Mini Vegan Pop Up Flea. There were vendors galore selling vegan wares, some of which were packing up and leaving for the day. Others were still thriving and relaxing, chatting with last minute stragglers. I finally got to meet the owner/creator of one of my favorite fair trade chocolate brands, Barb of Gone Pie, who kindly set aside my requested IG treats.
In continuing my favorite vegan things for Vegan Minifoo, I wanted to express my joy of chocolate, especially fair trade chocolate and Gone Pie's addictive creativity. At Gone Pie, which offers a unique subscription service as well as being sold at various NYC locations, they specialize in brownies, pies, candies, chocolate covered pretzels, and more. Now this chocolate, Food Empowerment Project approved, is decadent, sweet, and pleasant-- all the adjectives chocolate should be and more-- but with the added benefit of where the chocolate is sourced.

A scrumptious complimentary bite sized candy bar delight. Thank you, Barb. I loved this and all of the other chocolates.

Newman's Boulangerie made out of this world croissants with the irresistible combination of soft and flaky and a not too salty flavor. I look forward to consuming more and more of these in my near future. Maybe someday they'll collaborate with Gone Pie for a special edition chocolate stuffed croissant (best of both worlds!).

More Gone Pie treats galore. I ordered the almond joy (top left), two peanut butter blondies dipped in rich chocolate (diagonal from each other), and a rice crispy treat also dipped in chocolate (bottom right).

A look inside the rice crispy treat. Nom nom!

I saved the almond joy and a peanut butter blondie for my two friends who graduated from PAFA last Friday. They enjoyed them immensely, surprised by the amazing goodness of these treats!

During a quiet moment at work, one must indulge on the final piece of yummylicious chocolate.

Shameless close up.

Definitely enjoyed the variety of flavors in this chocolate dipped peanut butter blondie, especially that salty peanut butter chocolate mouthful at the center of it all, a most wondrous experience.
Blogger Tricks

Snickerdoodle Milkshake

A favorite cookie treat turned into a decadent dessert beverage.
Vegan Mofo Minifoo for May asks for our favorites.
Well, one of my favorite treats is homemade snickerdoodles. There's something irresistible about an entire kitchen smelling of a baking magician sprinkling a vast cinnamon spell that takes over the whole entire home. Plus my hands enjoy the task of forming sugar dough balls and rolling them in cinnamon-sugar mix. It's the best fun!
For today, the guilty pleasure cookie turns into a scrumptious milkshake with the aide of So Delicious's amazing Snickerdoodle Cashew Milk Ice Cream and an extra dose of cinnamon fixation.

Snickerdoodle Milkshake Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup So Delicious Snickerdoodle Cashew Milk Ice Cream
1 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk, chilled
2 tablespoon date syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 little Snickerdoodle Cookies (like Enjoy Life Foods Soft Baked or homemade)

Blend all ingredients together until thick and smooth.

Snickerdoodle + equal cinnamon equals love.

Cinnamon stick embellishment!

And the snickerdoodle cookie drops like a dub step beat.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Gone, But Never Forgotten: Barkley Hendricks, An Artist's Artist

Miss T, oil and acrylic on canvas, 66 1/8" x 44 1/8," 1969.
It has been a month since the remarkable presence of Barkley Hendricks left us in saddened despair-- two days after his 72nd birthday.
This phenomenal artist, otherwise known as a renegade revolutionary, established a distinguished mastery in his painting style, emerging as the king of painting solitary black figures. A Philadelphia native, he earned a painting certificate at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and went on to study at Yale University.

Miss T towers over the viewer, her downcast eyes contemplative, dressed stylishly in black, mysteriously absent hands clasped behind her back. Gold accented accessories (chained belt at her waist and oversized aviator sunglasses) offer a glimpse into her individuality of this time period.  
I was first introduced to Hendricks in the career services office. On a silver filing cabinet, a small magnet stuck out like a sore thumb. The rectangle featured a brown skinned man with a low cut afro and dark sunglasses shading his eyes. He wore a blue Superman logo t-shirt, hands crossed over his chest in a daring challenge posture. Now at this time, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Laura Wheeler Waring, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby were the only PAFA alumni that I knew of. That magnet piqued my curiosity, my quenching thirst to find out more about Hendricks and his distinctive painting style.

J.S.B. III, oil on canvas, 1968.
Often nearly life sized scale, Hendricks' paintings are windows into the soul of black lives, an uncovered microscopic discovery that turned ordinary individuals into glorious works of art. The way he handles the paint is the manner in which a sculptor molds clay. In believably captured faces down to the infrastructure of kinky hair, Hendricks paints with profound tenacity, sharing a deep care for his subjects. From the skin tone, to the bone structure, to the pose, each figure has a unique personality revealed through Hendricks.   
In addition to painting, Hendricks was also a wonderful photography, whose works told similar stories about the wonders of black experiences.

This beguiling portrait of James Brantley, another former PAFA student and a colleague of Hendricks, is painted with a stunningly fierce tenderness. Hendricks was around age twenty three at the time, showing an advanced realist stage. The carefully crafted attention to rendering how brown skin reflects in a well lit space and how shadow moves across the facial plane is a commendable breadth of patient skill. 
The world lost a great artistic pioneer that can never be duplicated.
May Barkley Hendricks forever rest in peace and power. He leaves behind an incredibly inspiring legacy that should ultimately pave the way for new, burgeoning artists desiring a space in the tight, compacted art scene, a tough art space to insert their own interpretations of the black body.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Short Visit Home Part Two: Lucky's and Best Friends

Two artsy writing Libra best friends hang out on a cool Dayton evening in the heart of the Oregon District before one sadly departed hasty return to Philadelphia.

The fried seitan sandwich with vegan cheddar is an item (new to my eyes) that will get a hungry appetite sated for days, especially when topped with scrumptious vegan mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickles, seasoned French fries on the side.

Recreating an old pose....

Although things are much opposite with the knife and fork and the vegan cheese topped soy burger on the right hand side. Still, nearly five and a half years later, Lucky's has some of the yummiest bar scene vegan food.

Our amazing waitress took this pic of my bestie and I-- stuffed girls sadly about to resume leaving states apart again. I am most thankful to have such a kind, generous, thoughtful friend who is more like a kindred sister. I will always be gracious knowing that there was one person who wanted to be there, that showed up whether for emotional support or dinner company-- in which that happened for the two nights I was home. It felt wonderful to have an attentive ear allowing me to vent out my personal life's frustrations the previous night at Chipotle over burrito bols. Plus, I appreciated our love woes and geeky pipe dreams of Wizard Worlds and Walker Stalkers (a special con exclusively for The Walking Dead fans). What a pleasant honor to have found such a friend-- and since high school no less!
Dayton inspires? True more or less that you can physically take the hometown girl away from her hometown, but never take the emotive essence of the hometown spirit out of her......

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Short Visit Home Part One: Butter Cafe Goodies & Mom Love

Whenever in Dayton, a vegan's best bet is always a morning trek to Butter Café for delicious plant based dishes. I tried out the tofu scramble tacos (which was a special of the day) on a bed of mixed greens with a side of breakfast potatoes.

Tofu scramble tacos also featured slices of ripened avocado, corn, and black beans with a side of mild salsa.

After breakfast, I visited my mom who is in fine spirits. I thank everyone for their well wishes. She is doing great. I brought her my first watercolor still life that I completed in a continuing education class. Mom liked the piece so much, it's pinned to her corkboard alongside with a craft bunny she made on Easter.

Mom holding Butter Café's signature pink dessert box.

It was difficult to pick a cupcake. I love having many vegan options to pick from. Unfortunately, there were no lemon treasures and I hadn't had the time to find the raw vegan lady specializing in raw lemon blueberry cheesecakes. Yet Butter Café is no mere loser. In fact, I think we scored big with these pretty delights. I decided with the vegan trio-- strawberry kiwi, snickerdoodle, and banana.

As we watched Maleficent, we ate our delightful, yummylicious cupcakes, the beautiful yellow rose banana being a sweet surprise. Ma had the strawberry kiwi (which flavor wise was the best! with a fruity, citrus cake and light frosting).

The snickerdoodle cupcake was phenomenal, tasting like my favorite scrumptious cookie in a moist, fluffy cake with an irresistible cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
All in all, I enjoyed spending precious moments with my mom. I only see her once a year. Perhaps, I must change this habit. Time is a short, fickle thing that one cannot take lightly. The second I saw her smiling wide, sitting in her wheelchair waving from the window was a highlight of this trip back to Ohio.  I learned a lot: from talking a bunch about past and future, watching her undergo leg therapy, beating her old walking distance on the walker, retaining a happy spirit....
There are just some experiences a child (even at adult age) shouldn't miss out on when it comes to their parents. They are getting older, but also fragile too.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Sketchbook Diaries: The Ardor of the Sacred Book

Awkwardly Beautiful, red ribbon installation, 2015. Stylishly fashionable Camille (curator of Sketchbook Diaries) and I. Ah, back when red lipstick wanted to be another accessory to every art opening.
As I browsed through blogger drafts on this pleasant Sunday afternoon, I couldn't resist completing this oldie but goodie post about the not easily forgotten Sketchbook Diaries show at Philly's Goldilocks Gallery- a gallery/performing arts venue allowing emerging artists to showcase manifested visions on their own terms. I wanted to share this little story about how wonderful sketchbooks are, especially considering that such a warm wondrous afternoon begs for an artist to sit outside and either plein air pleasant environments basking in radiant sun or sporadic thoughts swimming inside their creative mind.
Sketchbook Diaries, a fun, playful, short exhibit (it was up for a few days), entailed that a sketchbook is more than a container of burgeoning starts and brilliant thoughts. The exhibit relied on audience interaction. By consisting of artists' sketchbooks with their favorite pages blown up and attached to walls, the featured artists asked for immediate participation, inviting viewers to open up intimate objects, to see range of black and white drawings to full blown color experiments, to read private words discussing happy, sad, dispirited, longing emotional tones. These books were different from one another-- traditionalist black journals and spiral bound to handmade books strung together with ribbon and unevenly cut artist papers. From quick gestural sketches to precise attention to detail, skill sets balanced between abstract and representational. Poems, love song lyrics, prose, short fiction, and daily chronicles filled pages alongside drawings and paintings.
Moreover, Sketchbook Diaries' brief showing expressed a joint love for art and writing, for those who have a sentimental attachment, an endearing fondness for the sketchbook practice. In this contemporary now, the sketchbook has remained a tried and true enjoyment, revealing each individual's unique approach to documenting their life stories.

Patrons were invited to take handmade books comprised of white envelopes sewn together.
Take one.
The bold arm cross pose with Eli coming in. We're standing in front of my dear friend's romantic, atmospheric paintings of mysterious trysts and candid writings on unrequited love and hope. Ian Wagner is not only a great writer and painter/illustrator, he has self-published several books and runs his own film/graphic design firm, MindRift Creations.
And thus Eli, Camille, and I struck some kind of uncoordinated pose triad. Eat you hear out, Vogue.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Goldie Falafel

On April Fool's Day, a new all-vegan falafel joint opened in Philadelphia and it's nothing at all to joke about. Goldie, the latest happening craze founded by the men behind Dizengoff, Zahav, and Federal Donuts, is a modestly lit upstairs restaurant with a few stools facing Sansom Street and booth seating which fits about twenty people when its non-crowded. Plus the staff is very friendly and will patiently answer questions about various tehini sauces (Amba, Schug, and Harissa by the way).  I had a rather nice, delicious experience that must be repeated.
The menu is simple. Nothing too fussy.
The layout also features a look at their ingredients.
Rose water...
Tea biscuits and coconut milk....
Insane closeup of the main star attraction-- plump falafel in a Dizengoff pita.
Crisp, fried to perfection falafel surrounded in Israeli salad, cabbage, and plain tehini. It has been such a while since I've seen a falafel with a beautiful, vivid green interior. Maybe I have a salt sensitivity these days, but I thought falafel was a tad bit too salty. Just a little. 
Crunchy Shwarma spiced fries are out of this world phenomenal, especially with the sweet tangy ketchup. They also come in regular and Za'atar.
I chose the chocolate tehina shake-- my brand spanking new addiction. Its incredibly thick and tastes like a veganized Butterfinger with a unique nutty flavor doused in amazingly rich chocolate and crunchy tea biscuits. For only $4, it's the best and cheapest priced vegan shake in Philly.