Saturday, May 27, 2017

Veggie Heaven is What The Title Says It Is

I loved the beautiful d├ęcor of Veggie Heaven, right in Montclair, New Jersey. It looked like a sweet, homey place to have comfort food and more. An old Ohioan friend and I decided to stop here for lunch. The handy Garmin device suggested Veggie Heaven as the nearest vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Naturally, we headed there with hope and hunger. After all, the previous evening, spent in NYC's Chinatown, proved to be a food disaster that bore no repeating.

Pretty potted plants, white, ornate door frames, and pale pink exterior walls were cleanly designed, attractive to the artist eye.
I ordered the $6.50 lunch special which includes soup or spring roll with main course. The portions are sumptuous enough. I started off with the wonton soup. The light broth had little slivers of mushrooms and green leaf (it wasn't cilantro) with two plump veggie filled wontons. Very hot, but tasty. 

Sweet Potato Rolls (not part of the lunch special, but at $4.25 what's not to love), were absolutely divine. This superb sushi delight features warm sweet potato wrapped in nori and rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It was sooooooo delicious. My friend also ordered the same. We also received a complimentary pot of flavorful tea. My friend had sugar packets. I did not (despite how this photo looks).

Yummy yummy!

Sesame Chik'n (yes to more sesame seeds!), my excellent main dish, made me swoon deep in my heart and soul. The "meat" was tender and crisp and the sauce was light, not too heavy or salty. Perfectly balanced with the brown rice, broccoli, and sliced red bell pepper. My friend enjoyed her fake "chicken" so much more than what she had the previous night. I'll get to that terrible experience in a later post. For now, I'll just say that our time at Veggie Heaven was divine, near perfection. We had delicious comforting cheap food, wonderful service, and absolutely had no room for dessert. That's the definition of success. 

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.

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.