Monday, July 17, 2017

Yummy Sushi Smorgasbord At Hana

Who knew one could be fully satisfied from two kinds of sushi?
On New York City's lower east side, among puffed gray clouds promising rain, I walked past Hana on Rivingston Street three times before entering dimly lit establishment. For starters, I'm not sure where I believed that sushi couldn't be qualified as early dinner. Maybe because sushi is generally small and cute chopped veggies wrapped around rice, the bad rep decided that that wasn't enough food.
Hana has a an earthly color palette, warm brown hues coating polished tables and floors. The music was kept at a ginger tone, allowing people to have normal conversation and eat with relish. 

Hana has a special vegan menu featuring Forbidden Rice. Items like Shitake Mushroom Sushi, Baked Tofu Sushi, and Carrots Sushi sounded quite exceptional, but I went for the Asparagus Sushi (organic black, brown and red grain rice with asparagus, avocado, and spicy vegan mayo) and Sweet Potato Roll (my personal favorite).
Beautiful sushi, served on this elegant black bar, was off the charts delicious. I loved the spicy mayo is this my beloved Just Mayo?) over the Forbidden Rolls blending with rich creaminess of the avocado and crunchy asparagus.
To die for sushi.... I will definitely come again. Hana is a chic spot with friendly service, eclectic lighting, and excellent food.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Raw Cherry & Tahini Chocolate Ice Cream

Cherries are in season.
Although we all eat ice cream throughout the year, it always seems to bring greater pleasure in July. Why is that? Perhaps that why the whole month is dedicated to the number one summer treat. Today also happens to be National Ice Cream Day.
It has been beyond great trying vegan substitutes over the years. From So Delicious to Nada Moo, possibilities are unlimited. Each and everyday flavor combinations are becoming more top notch, more creative even. Just last week, Little Baby's Ice Cream set up a cart near work. They had options like Salted Strawberry and Coconut Chai. I selected the latter, enjoying every last bit of that yummy, scrumptious dessert.
My favorite homemade versions are Banana Chai Tea Ice Cream and Avocado Cheesecake.

Bananas, tea, and spices make Banana Chai Tea Ice Cream a fond memory.

Avocado lime cheesecake with its creamy goodness and crust pieces is turned into ice cream heaven in Avocado Cheesecake Ice Cream.

For my latest concoction, I'm bringing tahini obsession to the ice cream world. Blended with fresh, dark sweet cherries, full fat coconut milk, and fair trade cocoa powder, this raw celebration of flavors brings divine, nutty amazement spoonful after spoonful.

Raw Cherry & Tahini Chocolate Ice Cream Ingredients and Preparation

10 dark cherries, rinsed and pitted (or 1/2 cup frozen cherries)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup cane sugar (maple or date syrup)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pink salt

Mix ingredients together in a blender or food processor (or better yet an ice cream maker!).
Freeze for 6-8 hours (or overnight).

Unfortunately, my ice cream started melting right away.

Cherry jubilee bliss is a can't miss.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Farfelle (Bowtie Pasta) & Broccoli With Raw Pecan "Cheese" Sauce

Pecans are a nice ingredient for "cheese" when one doesn't have cashews or walnuts.
I love pecans. Their natural sweet nuttiness has a versatile complexity that brings incredibly crunchy excitement to enticing desserts and delivers unique flavor profile to savory dishes. One of my favorite things is instead of using flour as component to crumble, subbing nuts, especially pecans. A special seasoned topping is out of this world.
Unfortunately, I missed National Macaroni and Cheese Day, which was yesterday, but I'm still sharing this wonderful, easy peasy recipe of creating perfect pecan "cheese" sauce. If pecans are not available, any other nut/drupe would do.
Now people usually soak nuts 6-8 hours or overnight. I didn't. I was pleasantly surprised that in two hours, my pecans pureed beautifully with the other ingredients. I awed and gasped at the results, smiling a little goofier than normal whilst photographing an awesome dinner.
I have plenty leftover and have big plans for sweet potatoes, polenta, zucchini noodles, and other fine carbs needing a good drown in pecan "cheese" sauce.

Raw Pecan "Cheese" Sauce Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup farfelle, cooked
1 cup frozen broccoli, prepared
2 cups raw pecans, (soaked 2-4 hours in water)
1/2 cup canned full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup tahini
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon pink salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare pasta and broccoli.
Drain some of the pecan water after desired soaking time.
In a blender or food processor, combine pecans, coconut milk, tahini, nutritional yeast, garlic, turmeric, and black pepper. Pulse together until smooth consistency.
Top pecan "cheese" sauce over farfelle and broccoli.

Creamy pecan "cheese" sauce came out whipped perfectly and smooth like velvet, no chunkiness. If however, desiring extra pecan bliss, roast a bunch and crush a handful over top.
Oh how it glistens, mirroring salivated, hungry tongue....
Stirred.
Add extra black pepper for prettiness and eat.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Unleashes Unevil Blackness


If anyone told me that sepia/burnt umber/ebony toned figures allowed let black cats sit on their shoulders or reclined on striped surfaces while directing quiet dignity towards viewers, I wouldn't be quick to believe. Yet in this new dawn of emerging black artists, a giant push back against stereotypes and gender barriers brings on rebellious cannon bombs and loud booming echoes in the megaphones, addressing various problems in how one perceives blackness, in and outside of the lens. Ghanaian-British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's pleasing takeover of New Museum's fourth floor space ushers forth suspenseful tales that light up darkened spaces.

Isn't that charming-- the grand reveal of dark toned figures brightening up an entire room? Is that part of the secrets layered beneath Under-Song for a Cipher, the fetching title of Yiadom-Biadom's body of seventeen amazing paintings?

Surprisingly enough, the artist will be at the New Museum tomorrow, in a conversation with Massimiliano Gioni, which will be live streamed. This is definitely a can't miss treat.



Now Yiadom-Boakye, a Turner Prize nominee, writes the most fascinating dark prose and her immensely glorious paintings match elegance of her sharp wit, candid horror, and twisted humor. One simply cannot browse and move along. Like fine, decadent chocolaty after dinner desserts at restaurants that most are too full to order, this sumptuous feast seduces the audience with enticing delivery, all mouthwateringly seductive, meant to be slowly savored and swallowed whole. Appreciative eyes venture from work to work, dallying in beautiful dark figures, humanized to the point of not knowing when their breathing stops. They’re figments of Yiadom-Boakye’s compelling imagination, but feel present, immediate. Yes, they're quite peculiar enigmas suspended in abstract plains, but they don’t fall into the magical negro trope. They don’t have powers, recant spells, or help whiteness reach its way. These figures are not owned by The Other. They have something special simmering along shadowed gloom, something that is irresistible, undeniable, arresting.   



Yiadom-Boakye's paintings pull blackness into mysterious unknown, containing potent figures into thoughtfully engaging depths of abyssal tension. Minimal palette leaves ample room to become inventive, explore and stretch limits of a color, invent psychological moods. Subjects join rather ambiguously with specific objects and environments. For example, in a warm orange turtleneck sweater and black pants darker than his dark brown skin and the same hue family as the white ear cat on his shoulder, he sits relaxed, his long arms crossed over him, his lean legs opened. The angles are both sharp and subdued, elevating various relationships. Softness between human skin, animal fur, and sweater or exaggerated negative perceptions of a man with a cat would be considered "soft" or "too feminine." In this quiet composition, trust and dignity play a commanding game together, the security the cat feels on its human and the human's admiration for the cat, exposing his body as the cat's to dally. 



Yiadom-Boakye is a painter's painter, that intelligent master whose thick brushstrokes tell deeper narratives about the act of painting, of committing to wide and expansive movement. Kinetic motion sweeps across bodies and their clothes, swishes into background with purposeful direction, like a wind current perhaps. She is ever the skilled commander, making formal painting decisions that enhance content driving her work.


Under-Song For a Cipher is up until September 3, 2017. May an inner unbeknownst inkling awaken at the breathtaking sight of this moody, temperamental land of lush brushstrokes, fisted Impressionist flowers, wild feathered birds, and rich chocolate metaphors. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Kawaii Kitty Café Is a Must For Cat Lovers, Huggers, and Snugglers

Check out cute lounging cats among the pretty decor.
Today starts the unique three day event called Kittydelphia-- a pop up of cat-strophic proportions at Gravy Studio in Northen Liberties area of. I thought it would be appropriate to discuss my two visits to Kawaii Kitty Café, a delightful cat themed place that is pure pleasure for cat lovers worldwide.

For starters, the counter really is the cat's "Meow."
I had the most superb mocha with coconut cream and chocolate sauce.
With cat picture and coloring books (they provide crayons and markers), and a coconut blueberry Dottie's Donut (yes sugar high central).
That same day, I had earlier received my copy of Aph and Syl Ko's "Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism From Two Sisters." So far, their thoughtful words have been pretty tough and heartbreaking to get through. The essays are brilliantly conceived. I'll write a review of it when I'm finished.
There are lots of vegan options (Crust Vegan Bakery yay!) to choose from and it was pleasantly surprising. Everything looked adorable in the clean, clear display case. Surrounded by cat cuteness of course!
Vegan oatmeal cream pies too for those who miss Little Debbie's junk food.
Pink and teal cat patches, mugs, and anime cat toys decorate the counter. Yes, there's even some Hello Kitty around.
Another visit included iced lemon tea and a cat shaped cookie with coloring books.
Slightly adjacent to neat arrangement of cats and ice cream art, is another wall with snapshots of people with the cats they've adopted from the café.
A peek inside the chic, cozy, immaculate environment for sweet array of cats and prospective adopters to frolic together, possibly bond and form familiarity. Walls are soft cotton candy pink. Stringed lights add a touch of magic as sunlight streamed in. Couches look soft with plush pillows and squishy fur babies lying about. In fact, I loved the gray cat sleeping atop of the wooden bookshelf. It had been in that same slumbered position since I had entered. To rent the space by the hour is $10 per person and it is best to reserve beforehand. On occasional less busy days, they do have half priced walk ins too.
In addition to eating and drinking, there are awesome cat themed items to buy for that special cat lover in your life. From t-shirts with adorable cat friends having a heart-y party....
Pink beanie caps to keep ears warm in the winter.
The black and white cat curtain is super cool, but not for sale.
With peachy keen music and overall cheery atmosphere, Kawaii Kitty Café is a wonderful place to have a little dessert with cold or hot drinks as one writes, reads, or colors. Framed cat art is everywhere, but not in an excessive obsessive capacity. The girls behind the counter are super nice and are willing to offer vegan compromise to almost anything on the menu (vegan milkshakes for the win). Whether one wants time alone or quality time with a cat or two, this is the purr-fect pick-me-up treat, especially on the weekend (like Caturday!), a rainy day, or just whenever.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Lunch Specials & Sunday Buffets At New Harmony

The $6.95 lunch special includes choice of soup (wonton or hot and sour) or appetizer (veggie pancakes or spring roll), and main course. I picked the veggie pancakes-- crispy and light drenched in a sweet meets salted airy sauce.
I come to New Harmony too much. I have had great and mediocre experiences. The lunch, however, can be exceptional if choosing what you love most. Thanks to generous sized portions, it's two lunches for the price of one.
If I don't pack leftovers or peanut butter and jelly or tofu and Chao sandwiches, my best bet is a place nearby. After all, an hour may seem like enough time to walk to a restaurant, eat, and walk back, but that time goes away fast the farther one ventures out.
It was the first time I used my break to walk to New Harmony, taking pleasure on a sunny afternoon, on a twelve minute trek, bouncing along to Stereolab's boppy French "Miss Modular" (this old song is wonderful). In one of life's little blessings, I had the restaurant to myself (introvert love), ate at a happy pace (moaning at every bite of good food), and left with proficient minutes to return back to work with my doggy bags.

I ordered my favorite-- sesame chik'in which comes with delicious brown rice and broccoli. When I return, I plan to eat down each of the lunch specials and drink so much iced water. Hopefully, I can find new foods to treasure and share. Already know that the "beef" tips are a "no go!"

Yummy steamed "pork" buns to go. Cannot beat 3 for an extra $2.95. I thought, well, I walked all this way, why would I not grab these steamed buns too?
FYI: flashbacking to an awesome time at New Harmony's $13 All You Can Eat Vegan Buffet (only available on Sunday nights). On my first helping plate: spring rolls, veggie pancakes, mock "fish," and vegetable poppers. The mock "fish" has a crispy coating and a creamy, dense center. My friend and I both loved this.

One of the best prizes is the walnut shrimp, often always gone before the buffet is over. I never had real shrimp before. So I cannot say if this is true to flavor. I do know that it is fantastic. The texture is a chewy interior with a bity crunch on the outside. Very flavorful and excellent, innovative use of walnut. I would definitely come back to the buffet and consume with pride and joy.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Vegan Pop Up Philly Celebrates One Year (Happy Birthday Y'all)

Happy 1st birthday Philly Vegan Pop Up Flea Market and many, many more.
 Last Saturday, this conversation took place.
"Hey! Are you going to that vegan pop up down the street?"
"Of course!" I excitedly answered.
"I saw the sign and said, 'I know who's going down there for lunch.'"
Laughter ensued. I skipped off for my break, hungry and anxious, delighted to be near the latest Philly Vegan Popup Flea Market. I had been praying that they would show up at Friend's Center. I love Tattooed Mom's, but it's further down the road from my workplace.

I visited Barb's Gone Pie booth, admiring the sweets galore.

Candies, breads, pies....

Freakin' Vegan scooping out macaroni and cheese for ravenous guests.

A Freakin' Vegan Spinach and "ricotta" empanada and Obsidian Juice beet juice (excellent flavor blend).

The filling is good. I need more of that ricotta in my life and quite curious as to the ingredients.

In the breakroom, scrumptious "just for me" Gone Pie goodies all laid out in their glorious fair trade chocolate (and not chocolate) beauty: peanut butter caramel rice crispy treat (with twinkling, iridescent green sprinkles), salted peanut butter caramel cup, vanilla macaroon, and a broughnie (brownie baked in a donut pan). So delicious. FYI: I did eat these on separate occasions. Imagine the extreme sugar high if I had eaten all at once.

My love for Newman's Boulangerie croissants grew stronger with every bite of the salty-sweet, chewy, moist, buttery, flaky pastry. I shared my batch with my co-workers. One of which said, "you better be careful, these could get pretty addictive." And yes, she's right. Thankfully, they sell vegan croissants on Fridays at Grindcore House.

Another shameless picture of the marshmallow centered broughnie. This was epic.

Vegan Pop Ups must continue this refreshing tradition around Philadelphia. It has been a super amazing treat meeting people, eating new food creations, and finding cruelty free beauty products.