Tuesday, November 21, 2017

1944 Gallery Vegan Shop Is A Charmer of Art And Wonder

I stopped by a chic, eclectic little boutique, 1944 Gallery Vegan Coffee Shop. Thanks to HappyCow, I found a special, unique gem that features a small drinks menu and plenty of gorgeous handmade vegan art.

From drawings, cards, jewelry, upcycled handbags, t-shirts, belts, and even rolling pins, there's a wonderful gift for everyone you know. They have an etsy shop too.

I sampled some scrumptious pieces of fine chocolat-- only made with a few ingredients.

The typewriter underneath my table-- so darling!

A chocolat chaud with the tiniest stirrer spoon. Foamy with a hot, rich decadence, very comforting on a chilly evening.

Quick drawing of bicycle culture.

The lovely peeps including owner Paula centered with beautiful, friendly, velvet furred doggie friend.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Cheeseburger And Waffle Affair At Brasserie Lola WIth An Eiffel Tower Cameo

At Brasserie Lola, a very popular vegan spot for dinner, comes a yummy, fulfilling meal of a juicy, succulent seitan burger topped with amazing vegan cheese and all the fixings. The salad was massaged with a tasty dressing and the fries were crispy, hot, and seasoned well.

This burger was hands down one of the best vegan burgers that I have ever tasted. Even when it started falling out its moist, chewy sesame seeded bun, I dug into the bits with leafy salad, finding the whole experience all the more irresistible.

The meal ended with light, airy waffle topped with powdered sugar and raspberry sorbet-- a simple, not too sweet dessert.

The Eiffel Tower was supposedly a sixteen minute walk from the restaurant, but as usual, this lady walks in the wrong direction. I seemed to be strolling around forever (an hour to be exact) when I spotted a blue light moving around in a circle. Moments later, I was stunned to see the sparkling colored lights beaming elegantly from the top of the Eiffel Tower like glittering jewels. I followed and followed the sight, greatly aroused by the magnetic power the majestic iron lattice sculpture had over me. Thus, a little before one a.m., I took a selfie and stared at the elegant work of Stephen Sauvestre, Maurice Koechlin, and Emile Nougeur.

The best way to end a Friday night in Paris.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Cloud Cakes Vegan Coffee Shop, The Chic, Cute Dessert Haven

Cloud Cakes Vegan Coffee Shop was a lovely treat on a Friday afternoon.
Be ready for a few posts in Paris, France and Amsterdam, Netherlands as I travel through food, art, and culture. So far, the experience has been quite grand despite having gotten lost every single day, it's easy to be swept away by phenomenal architecture and sophisticated fashion.
Although, I have been in Paris since Thursday afternoon, I didn't have a full out vegan dining experience until yesterday-- at my first pit stop, Cloud Cakes Vegan Coffee Shop. It is a lovely, quaint space with pretty chairs and sofas. The desserts display is outrageously decadent, like incredibly sumptuous works of art. Plus, the peeps are very, very friendly.

Cakes and cupcakes and parfaits galore made it quite hard to decide.

They even still have pumpkin spice latte in season alongside scrumptious looking cake decorated in cream and fresh fruit,

The cakes alone were beautiful masterpieces.

Pop art cola.

I ordered hot chocolate, a hummus and veggie sandwich, and a slice of black forest cake.

The chunky hummus between yummy slices of bread had a "tuna" sandwich flavor surrounded in fresh sliced vegetables.

I loved-LOVED- loved this amazing cake!!! The whipped cream layers are light and airy with bursts of cherries in between like a delightful surprise and the chocolate cake is moist and rich. I cannot believe it's vegan. 

Happy endings!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Philadelphia Assembled Kitchen and the Resistance Meal

Resistance meal consisted of a fulfilling miniature Shepard (less) Pie by Pplfood's Sulaiha Olatunji, Mixed Greens by Sistah of the Yam's Taylor Johnson-Gordon, and Red Cabbage and Apple Salad by Kristin Schwab.

"Now this may only be important to me, but it is. It is very important. I need to know how we celebrate our victories, our very survival. What did we want for dinner?"- Ntozake Shange 


I finally got to try the Resistance Menu at Philadelphia Assembled Kitchen located inside the Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Hosted by the Culinary Artists of PHLA Kitchen, this incredible arts related project combines activism and food, allowing local artisan cooks share beautiful dishes in a communal setting with poignant messages pasted around the café. A lot of the dishes were plant based, colorful, and healthy. Some of the invited foodies are writers, poets, philosophers, gardeners, and womanist free spirits in addition to being creators of gourmet cuisine.

The next in the series is the Victory Menu. I believe some items are vegan such as the coconut rice and beans and maybe the tamales. I'm rather curious about the whole experience of being surrounded by other people and eating around them. It feels intimidating at first, the strangers looking at you, wondering why you're not having the chicken.

The free book, From Our Kitchens, features stories, poems, recipes, and photographs about food and the artists who are fighting against the way people think about food. Also, the project allows patrons to place their own narratives in the recipe box. I chose one of my favorite recipes-- Black Rice With Plantains and Mushrooms. I loved this giving to community and desire to hear some kind of response. A meal that centers on survival, resistance, and victory shouldn't end at the consuming of the art. This is the beginning of something profound and powerful. 

I loved the Shepard (less) Pie. The lentils and carrots underneath the creamy, well seasoned cloud of blissful mashed potatoes were downright appetizing. And the Mixed Greens (created by one of my favorite vegan IG gals, Sistah of the Yam) were terrific-- a yummy combination that too was seasoned perfectly. The aforementioned Red Cabbage and Apple Salad was a great, refreshing starter-- crispy and sweet.  

Participants.

survival. resistance. victory.
Outside the museum, I spied the Philadelphia Assembled van. 

The musicians strum gorgeous music called jíbaro. The hypnotic Latin sounds are a Puerto Rican traditional melody with historic ties to indigenous, Spanish, and African roots.

The girl colors the sign as I listen to the woman tell me about the history of their music.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Tenderheaded: Tranquility In the Light


Time pauses, stilling for a moment, letting its invisible lungs ingest surroundings. The exhale is deep and long, dispensing into the air, losing battle in this beguiling light—the light that houses unconstrained spirits, these spirits yearning for peace and rest. 

At Renaissance Society, Jennifer Packer’s Tenderheaded suite of new paintings are scattered about, their parted in-between a carefully planned placement on pristine white walls basked in sunglow. This interior almost mirrors a church without stained glass prisms, but heavy presence of angelic interference is as undeniably arresting as the small painting of an officer in blue. Quiet, dreamy space is a mecca, a holy brevity of repeated polygon walls with rectangular windows admitting sun rays to mingle with Packer's paintings. This set stage for the viewer, whose eyes have been persuaded to swallow propelling energetic forces of warm, affectionate colors and thoughtfully considered brush outs.

Piece by piece lies an intriguing revelation of explorative color combinations eccentrically placed such as an energetic yellow and fiery engine red compete with brown and charged green in one large painting, complex hues and saturation arousing a profoundly muted purpose. Brush strokes play between lushly applied paint, absent paint and raw canvas, balancing the eyes’ need to rest and focus overall narrative. For example, flowers almost burst from the canvas, yet refrain, their impressive beauty a thing of string lines and voluptuous shapes vibrating intimately.


"Tenderheaded” has a complicated history in black hair culture:
A hairdresser asks the young lady, “are you tenderheaded?”

In other words, she meant, “can you handle the amount of pain that I am about to inflict on your scalp? And if you are tenderheaded, I will be gentle.”

Often, if one said no, a pain like no other would be unleashed, the incessant tugging on fragile hair strands, the angry flickering of a pesky wide tooth comb, and the neck feels stretched back a thousand centuries, this excruciating sacrifice in the face of ingrained beauty. This was a secret between the sitter and the hairdresser, an inheritance passed down, to bravely take brutal battle, intuitively knowing that it would pass and loveliness would take steed.


However, Packer teases another perception, taking apart this familiar language, conceiving a sophisticated olive branch to cling upon. Singular narratives interwoven in these ghostly surfaces, painted with such gentle affection and care, her signature movement, the figures and their environments are important, but also the state of humanity, of feeling authentic and present, to be fully alive in a with hinted descriptive objects that hold sentimental value to the sitter. In another painting, a golden yellow cast portrait, is a radiantly glowing Venus, off centered, the glow seeming to wrap around her, a softly magical essence that wraps around her figure, the typewriter, and flowers behind her. She embodies words of Meg Henson Scales' profound essay, Tenderheaded, or Rejecting the Legacy of Being Able to Take It, especially tracing along lines:

"Strongblackwoman's most striking characteristics are her gross displays of endurance and the absence of personal agenda. The strongblackwoman lives for (and sometimes through) others, and is culturally valued in direct proportion to her personal sacrifice. Strongblackwoman are the astronauts, the most right stuff of American martyrdom.

If we consider Tenderheadedness as a paradigm for self-worth in black girlhood, we can perhaps understand something more of what makes American black women so specifically disparaged from within and without."

Packer's work explores both women and men, these secluded queens and kings of their specific domains, respectfully rendered, in control of their ethreal environments, marginalized bodies existing in mysterious suspensefulness. 

Mesmerizing flowers too hold an arousing metaphor, an adjacency to living with a purpose beyond physical beauty, well past the branch of still life study. These paintings feel like extensions of the human body, ruffled by gently conveyed leaves and spirited petals, a beguiling softness that is just as undeniably expressive as the figures. 








Tenderheaded is up until November 5, 2017 at Renaissance Society in Chicago.