Saturday, November 7, 2009
Legal Affairs Correspondent
I was looking at youtube today and came across this October 26, 1966 Dick Cavett interview with New Orleans painter and vegan dabbler A. Mitchell Long. This was in the early days of Vegan Mofo. I know it’s not Vegan Mofo 2009 anymore, but at least the interview was done during a Vegan Mofo. But no more rationalizations. I liked the back and forth between these two so much, I reprint the transcript of selected portions of the program:
Cavett: A. Mitchell Long, goddamn fucking fantastic to see you again. Fucking fantastic, man. What did you paint today?
Long: I didn’t paint today.
Cavett: What did you wear today?
Cavett: Do you ever wear camouflage when you paint?
Long: While painting? No.
Cavett: Do you ever do preparatory paintings?
Long: Doing something like a sketch or something? I paint directly from life, and then I go back to the same spot over and over so it’s like a constant preparatory of the motif. That’s sort of like how Monet and Claude Lorraine say to get to know a motif: you have to go and just study it.
Claude Lorraine was before Monet, so Monet definitely looked at Turner and Lorraine. Claude Lorraine goes by Claude. But he did drawings. Everyting Claude Lorraine painted was in the studio. Back then, people didn’t use oil paints. They just mixed it in the studio with the power pigments.
* * *
Cavett: Did you eat any vegan food today?
Long: Today I had oats for breakfast, and then I had spaghetti with tomato sauce. The tomato sauce had tomato sauce, garlic, cilantro and olive oil and little wok oil in it. The pasta wasn’t vegan.
I started off vegan, and then I became spaghetti legs. But I was a vegetarian today, so that was good.
Cavett: Let’s talk about a rather troubling incident you recently underwent that has affected you very profoundly.
Long: My dog ran after another dog, and then the master of the other dog hit him on the head. That wasn’t vegan of him or me, letting the dog get after the other dog.
Cavett: Getting back to the spaghetti, are you sure it wasn’t vegan?
Long: I don’t know. It has a little sodium, 100% semolina. Minus 1% satisfaction guaranteed. It contains wheat ingredients and folic acid. Frolicking in the acid, I mean folic acid. It’s like the ’60s, frolicking in the acid
So the spaghetti was vegan. You should have a vegan rabbi for veganism and vegan circumcision, except women would be circumcised. Don’t tell my parents I said that, or I’ll have cancer.
Cavett: How big have your latest paintings been?
Long: I’ve been doing these paintings that are fairly big, 10" by 40". I painted in the Lower 9th Ward. I’m figuring out the difference between the 9th Ward and the lower 9th Ward. The lower 9th Ward is going back in time, farmland, trees and crows, and you can paint in the middle of the street. It’s so vegan. I don’t even feel like eating meat out there.
Cavett: You say there’s farmland, trees and crows, and you can paint in the middle of the street. That’s all very nice, Mitch. But all kidding aside, how is the Lower 9th Ward really? Have any of the hospitals returned since the levee failures?
Long: I wish they had because I stepped in an ant pile. Wow, I said, I stepped in an antpile; this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in that second. I said, Golly gee willickers. I put neosporin on it. Is neosporin vegan? I said, I’m one bad ass m.f. I’m not gonna say that word or my mom will really kick my butt. So the next day, I was, like, Gee wiz, these bumps are coming back. Then the next day, the ants popped out. How do you get rid of them?
Put oatmeal on them? When I’m chain smoking, put the cigarettes on them? Don’t tell my parents I said that.
Cavett: You’ve eaten at some pretty great restaurants in your life. Haven’t you? Haven’t you?
Long: I wish I could give you a restaurant review, but I haven’t been to any restaurants lately. Oh, I did have some sliced pizza. It was all right.
Cavett: From a restaurant?
Long: Yeah, it was from Slice. Nothing special, but not terrible. Most pizza in New Orleans is terrible. They should brick-oven fried chicken and deep-fry pizza. But don’t tell my parents I said that.
Cavett: Did you feel zen when you were eating pizza?
Long: Zen is there. There is no feeling zen, whether you look at it or not. One foot in the cradle, one foot in the casket, that’s what I always say. Breathe in, breathe out. Pull out the pacifier, put in the breathing tube, that’s what I always say.
Hey, are pacifiers vegan?
Long: How about 100% meat pacifiers?
Long: How about a hot dog pacifier?
Cavett: If it’s a vegan hot dog.
Long: I bought a can opener today for a dollar-sixty. Is that vegan?
Cavett: Yeah. Where did you put it?
Long: Just in the drawer. I bought it down at Canseco’s, a little grocery store in New Orleans, La.
Cavett: Have you put it on any cans?
Long: No. That’s why I had spaghetti today, because the can opener was a piece of crap. It’s called Good Cook, so all you vegans, if you buy Good Cook, you’re buying a piece of shit.
Cavett: Is your art commercial?
Long: My art? I want people to like it. I just read an article in the New York Times about how Thelonious Monk really wanted him to have a hit, and everyone thinks of him as being a spiritual type musician. In actuality, he really wanted to make money off his stuff. There’s integrity in my work, but I also want people to like it. I’d like to make some money off it, and I also want people to like it and buy it for big dollars, big pesos and dollars and deutschemarks. I want to rake those things into the wheelbarrow.
Long: When a dog barks, is that vegan?
Long: How about when a dog bites your leg?
Long: How about when the dog eats the master?
Long: How about when you write about a vegan interview?
Cavett: Yeah. Did you eat commercial today?
Long: No, not at all. No, wait a second. I would say eating commercial would be eating anything out. I had 3 shots of espresso in Fair Grinds. That’s not really eating commercial. Sometimes I eat a commercial on TV. I just eat it. That’s the most zen thing I’ve ever done. Then you get fat, and you go to Eating Anonymous, and you eat all the McDonald’s commercials. Warhol used to eat commercials too much. Then he got shot by Valerie Solanis. Poor Valerie. She wasn’t vegan at all.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I found it interesting that after the judge said he wouldn't be able to withdraw his guilty plea, Wayne responded he wasn't one of those people. Now I'm not licensed in New York, I haven't practiced criminal law in several years, I don't know if the reporter mis-reported something, I don't know what else was said during the rearraignment, and there may have been some legit reason for Wayne to say that.
But if Wayne was suggesting that a person is per se morally deficient or two-faced for withdrawing his plea, I'm here to say that's not necessarily the case -- where I've practiced, at least. Disclaimer: Nothing here is meant to be legal advice. If you need legal advice, see a lawyer.
Depending on the situation, there may be a perfectly valid reason for withdrawing a guilty plea. But if a NY attorney wants to tell me I'm wrong about any of this, please do.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
On the one hand, you have a baby cuisine still struggling to figure out what it is. There are odd permutations, such as Healthy Vegan (unseasoned black beans, rice, kale), Facsimile Vegan (a soy bean is an egg, a soy bean is beef, etc.), and Junk Vegan (cupcakes and jerky). Unfortunately, vegan American has also grown up in a vicious corporate culture that in many ways plays the improper role of greedy manipulator, not helpful facilitator, of what those who choose vegan American should be eating.
The vegan American cuisine is also victimized by its understandable emphasis on the analogue. For example, the overwhelming percentage of eaters of this cuisine grew up eating non-vegan food and developed their sense of comfort and palate from this. They then try to re-create it in vegan form.
For example, compare scrambled eggs to tofu scramble. The nutritional profiles are radically different, as are the tastes. No doubt, it's better in many ways to eat tofu than eggs, but certainly not in all ways. For instance, how does tofu scramble, when combined with hash browns and toast physically affect a person compared to scrambled eggs, hash browns and toast? What kinds of chemical phenomena are set off when you combine eggs with those things versus when you combine tofu with those things? Certainly, both eggs and tofu contain protein, but they contain myriad other chemicals and create obviously different reactions when combined with other food. Is that combination harmful. If so, how? A mature cuisine would have largely worked out these matters.
Maybe tofu is healthier than an egg in most ways. But you can't end the discussion with an either/or fallacy. Is tofu healthy enough? Is it tasty enough? What is it really doing to our bodies and brains? How might it negatively affect our physiology in a way that the egg doesn't?
Traditional cuisines also have mostly developed incrementally through the passing on of flavors and techniques from family member to family member and from combining whole, local materials. American vegans, however, are often the first person in their family to adopt their particular diet. They must get much of their knowledge from the outside world. Their diet is often less borne of patient evolution than of radical invention.
I'm not suggesting eggs are acceptable to eat. I just think that those who eat a vegan American diet should consider how radical of a cuisine this is and think about the implications of eating a cuisine that's in its infancy as opposed to one that's been developed over thousands of years.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Wow, I've given out so little information about this person. I must really be into privacy or something.
I also was at a food cart behind a person whose ass crack was hanging out. She hitched up her pants and ordered a vegan meal. I congratulated her for doing something to help animals, but what I congratulated her for was not the ordering of a vegan meal.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Vegan Mofo Legal Affairs Correspondent
As Matisse and Picasso looked back on Cezanne as a paternal figure, so shall the best painter in the mid-21st century call A. Mitchell Long his pappy. An occasional vegan, Long is that rarest of artists – a painter’s painter’s painter.
MoFo visited him recently at his imposing studio in Mid City New Orleans. Strauss’ Blue Danube waltz played softly in the background as he “rapped” thoughtfully about two of the greatest "movements" of humankind, veganism and painting, as well as about falling off the macrobiotic wagon. As is his wont, Long pulled no punches and had particularly strong words for vegans who don’t know how to cook.
Q. A. Mitchell Long, do you think vegans are unhealthy?
A. I think some of them are. They look unhealthy to me. Look at the bags under their eyes. Plus they all hang out together. It’s real incestuous. They have sex with their cousins. You seem like you’re pretty healthy. But then Kittee cooks all the time. [Full disclosure: I am caveman. Kittee is cavewoman. Rarrrrrr!] I don’t think people who don’t know how to cook should be vegans.
Q. Do you ever cook vegan?
A. Yeah. I like vegan. If I eat just brown rice, that’s vegan. I like macrobiotic, too. Is raw food vegan? Macrobiotics, you have to cook everything. I think you at least have to blanch it. Or Stella it. Or Stanley Kowalski it.
Q. How do you make rice?
A. Boil it with water and then I do it by eye and pour it in – put it halfway, and then I’ll throw a bunch of stuff on top, you know, to weight it down so it steams and then bring it down to low. Forty-five minutes if it’s brown rice. If there’s still water in it, you keep it going. Then you just turn it off. It’ll soak up the water. My rice is OK.
Q. Is painting vegan?
The old oil paintings aren’t vegan because there’s rabbit-skin glue in them. The new ones are vegetable oil and pigment. But I do use rabbit’s skin glue every once in a while. Now [prominent Young British Artist] Damien Hirst, he took a big shark and stuffed it; that’s not vegan. He took a skull and put diamonds all over it – that’s not vegan. There are also people who put blood all over themselves. That’s not vegan.
Q. Do you ever eat when you’re painting.
A. No. I drink water, smoke a cigarette, maybe. Don’t tell my parents that. Don’t tell my boss that, my boss – God.. . . Dog.
Q. You eat oatmeal, right?
A. Yeah, steel cut oats. That’s another part of that macrobiotic fasting. Boil it. Then stir it. Then it’s creamy. Then bring it down to 1 degree or low or something. Then 30 minutes, and it should be pretty good to go. I throw it in the fridge, then nuke it in a plastic bag, then eat it with my hands.
Q. The New York Times recently reported that you had fallen off the macrobiotic wagon. It caused quite a sensation. We’d like to ask you to set the record straight.
When I ate rice, then broke the macrobiotic fast, I had red beans: it was so tasty. My roommate’s not that good of a cook, and it was so good. There was meat in that. sausage. A big old sausage. I believe in eating every type of diet – macrobiotic, meatatarian, humanitarian. But I don’t believe in cannibalism. So that’s where I draw the line. But who knows? It might be good.
Q. When you were eating rice, what kinds of paintings were you doing?
A. Doing panorama paintings with gesso. I was painting panorama paintings of plein air, directly from vegan.
Q. What was the subject matter of the paintings?
A. I’ve been painting on this spot on the cusp of the French Quarter, these two buildings, one’s called Buffa’s, and the other is Melrose, a B&B. That corner is on Esplanade. Sometimes I’ll have a Red Bull, and I drink a lot of water. Drunk people will come up and comment on my painting. I get some pretty good comments, some good feedback, which is pretty cool. It’s a new thing for me to talk to people. Maybe the brown rice started getting me talking more, like a Socialist.
Q. But back to the painting.
A. I take in a 180-degree composition from life, just like Monet and Cezanne, the Impressionists, squeezing it into panorama format, 4 inches by 20 inches. My friends call it “skinny Long.” My last name is Long. I’m getting skinnier, putting more holes in my belt loop every day. Do you have a drill so I can put more holes in my belt loop? Luckily I’m on the outside of Barnes & Noble, so nobody’s hearing this brilliance.
Q. Speaking of brilliance, tell us a little about your website.
My website, mitchell-long.com, is vegan. I quit putting meat in my website last year. I went completely vegan on my website.
I’ve never painted meat. I had a friend who painted a very beautiful painting of an egg. I’ve painted some stoves. I have a painting of your and kittee’s kitchen. I painted a vegan kitchen. I don’t think it’s on my website. Maybe I’ll put it on there. Maybe I’ll call it “Vegan Kitchen” or “Vegan Kitchen That’s Dazee and Kittee’s” or “Dazee’s Vegan Kitchen and Kittee’s Vegan Kitchen” or “Late Afternoon with Dazee and Kittee’s Kitchen with a Little bit of Syrup on the Table, a Little Molasses, with Rosy Colored Dawn, Pink-fingered Dawn of Kittee and Dazee’s Kitchen.”
The paintings of A. Mitchell Long may be seen at mitchell-long.com.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Love to the non=-pants -wearing animals.
Happy birthday, attorney Gandhi. You were one heck I mean hell of a laywer. Q: Ho0w many more restaurants named Gandhi that serve chicken can there be before the end of the world? A: How the hell should I know?
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Don't you feel a little guilty when you hit the sushi bar and you have to tear open a package of disposable chopsticks, knowing you're at the end of a production line that started with a drunken lumberjack chainsawing yet another of Motherfuckin Earth's beautiful trees? Just so you can shove rice and veggies in your spoiled American maw? Well, check your guilty consciences at the door. Little Tokyo will sell you a pair of reusable sticks for $4.00, or let you bring your own for free, and the restaurant'll wash and keep 'em there for you. Wait! Oh shit! Another ice sheet in the Arctic Circle just cracked right under a polar bear nursing her cubs. Her left paws are on the part of the ice sheet floating away toward the left, and her right paws are on the ice sheet floating away toward the right, so she's doing the splits. The cubs gamely hold on to the bear's nipples for a second to avoid falling to a cold, watery death. The bear, enraged by the pain in her nipples, raises up and roars as the cubs lose their grip, tumbling into the ocean. . . .
Sometimes Fair Trade, sometimes not.
I used to bring Vee, our freegan dog, in there. He's the cutest boy. The poor pooch -- he was drinking a nice pint glass of ice water when he knocked it over by accident. Dogs are now banned, though I don't think it had anything to do with Vee.
Fun fact: During the '08 election season, the owner blanketed the place with signs for Constitutional fundamentalist Ron Paul.
Right by Jazz Fest, where I saw Cheeky Black in 2007. Here's a little Big Freedia. Do it for ya. Somebody gawn be my . . . Girl, clap it for ya. We like to shake it for ya. We like to shake it for ya. Shake it like a baby daddy. Ha-ha-Hollygrove.
The best coffee in New Orleans. Fair Grinds has vegan stuff off and on, but as far as I know, it's always Fair Trade.
Zotz, 8210 Oak Street, 861-2224 (BLD)
Zotz is a curious combination of asshole and good company. I was charged a dollar for a two-ounce splash of soymilk in my coffee. That's a predatory business practice -- Zotz's policy, then, is to charge $16 for a 32-ounce container of soymilk it pays maybe $2 for. When a coffeehouse charges an extra 50 cents or dollar for a splash of soymilk in your coffee, not only is this highway robbery in and of itself, but we soymilk drinkers also end up subsidizing cow milk drinkers, who get to guzzle their phlegm for free.
Zots also once boasted of its pro-smoking policy at one point, though I don't know if it does anymore. On the other hand, it is so Fair Trade hipster. And so vegan-optional.
The scene: Hi Mr. Prince Albert-wearing Speed Freak. Hello Stitch-and-Bitcher. Are you knitting me a cell-phone cozy? And is that you in the corner, Mrs. Face-Tattoo? Okay, I love this place. It's twenty-four hours a day of corporate-free coffee drinkin'. I got a stale vegan cookie right before my acupuncture session one day.
Oh, did I mention Zotz serves Che Guevara's favorite beverage, yerba mate? The dude was a leper doctor. You know that yerba mate shit's gotta be tasty. Or it's just because he was from Argentina. Viva Zotz! Drink your coffee here and tell Starfuckers it can go piss up a rope.
I have it on good authority that the honcho behind these restaurants was questioned for jury duty in a capital murder case in Jefferson Parish, New Orleans' death-penalty-lovin' neighbor, see www.blackstrikes.com. The owner said under oath that he would automatically vote for the death penalty in cases where the defendant was found guilty of first degree murder.
That said, the food was as good as the owner's views on capital punishment have been and may still be misguided. See www.deathpenaltyinfo.org. A Jefferson Parish jury recently voted to sentence Patrick Kennedy to death for child rape. Cruel and unusual punishment! you cry? Well, old Patrick was thinking the same thing, and so he took his Eighth Amendment challenge right up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Another Kennedy, Justice Anthony, wrote the decision for the court saying that Patrick was right. Cool. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal acted mad but probably was secretly proud that the state played such an integral role in making extra-double sure the U.S. is no longer the only Western democracy with the death penalty for rape.
So let's get down to brass tacks. The vegetarian soft spring rolls are filled with fresh cilantro and come with the best peanut sauce in the city. Order the pho xau do chay (mixed vegetables with tofu and gluten and pan fried rice noodles), blow on it, then pour directly into your mouth. kittee and I have stabbed each other repeatedly with our forks trying to get fried noodles off each other's plates and would've shot each other except this is Louisiana, and, well, we don't want to wake up one day with Angola warden Burl Cain standing over us with the tiny boner he always gets in the execution chamber when it's lethal injection time. But I digress. Pho Tau Bay gets in on the po-boy action with the vegan banh mi chay, starring fried tofu and dressed with julienne carrots, Chinese radish, onions, cucumbers, and "HOT!!!" (note the three exclamation points, gringos) peppers. I've only ever had something like this in Montreal and Portland, and I don't think I'm talkin out my ass when I say I'm sure it's good here. Lots of folks rave about the soup rau chay, a.k.a., vegetarian soup, but kittee doesn't like it. kittee insists I don't like it either, but I want to give it another try. We both like the many weird desserts, and there are far too many beverages to get into here.
When kittee walks in this place, she must have the same kind of buzz Bush was sportin' when he snuck into Iraq that one Tofurkey Day. The vegetarian page on the menu is long on pretty tasty morsels. kittee has a bone for the sweet-and-sour chicken, which couldn't be more deep fried. I'd be generally wary of the other chicken, gluten, and bean cake offerings on the left side of the vegetarian page. Stick with the right side, especially the Bean Cake w/ Black Pepper and the Bean Cake w/ Curry & Coconut Sauce in Clay Pot. And you'd be a crazy coo-coo lunatic not to get the Vegetarian Salad, which is packed with fried tofu in a light sweet and sour sauce on a bed of cabbage. Extra bonus for the vegan fellas: to use the urinal, you have to stand on an angled board that triggers constant flushing. It's funky smelling, fun and hygienic all at the same time!
Pack yourself into some St. Charles streetcar and get off when it starts to turn up Carrollton. The waitstaff was insanely, touchingly eager to please, and what I ate made me glad that George Bush gave me my $3.00 tax refund or whatever it was (remember that? no, me neither) because it went a long way toward purchasing the best gol-dang spring rolls in the city. The rice paper wrapper was soft and pliable unlike the slightly drier, stiffer version you get most anywhere else, and the roll was ridiculously full of juicy avocado. The seaweed salad is a beautiful thing, too.
Frosty's bubble tea is the messiah. In the future, we will all pray to Frosty's bubble tea and kill people of other cultures in its name. Frosty's has all kinds of crazy fresh fruit, and you get soy milk, not powder to float your bubbles in. I think the sauce for the spring rolls suck big ass, but kittee is into 'em.
If I had a nipple for every time . . . oh, fuck, I've used this metaphor already. Okay, those stinkin' non-vegans, they never shut up about it: "Pizza without cheese? What's the point?" Well, you might ask yourself a complementary question: "Pizza in New Orleans? What's the point?" If you've come here for the pizza, I say, get ready for some punishment, Monsieur Masochist. Nevertheless, this is one of kittee's favorite foods, so we regularly brave the bullets whizzing by, the drunk drivers busting through red lights (in New Orleans, just so you know, it doesn't matter if the light is green, yellow, red, or white, non-Hispanic -- you call it a red light), and the Palmetto bugs the size of Ron Jeremy's member in search of what we know will be underachieving dough-sauce-vegetable food. But you know what, it doesn't even matter, brother, New Orleans is still the greatest, grandest city in the world! At least that's what New Orleanians think. The real question is what should a painter paint. The thing which one can't locate. That's what Mr. Jasper says anyway.
Our New York pizza snob friend Mr. Billy likes to say, If you want some good matzo, go to Rocky's. Well, the whole wheat crust that we get is a bit on the er, um, crackery side, to put it politely, but this is still our favorite pizza parlor, and it can be yours, too. Here's what you do. Order a Big Al's Roasted Garlic or a Farmer's Market with the red sauce. If you don't specify the red sauce, you may end up with the non-vegan white sauce or no sauce at all. Tell 'em to hold all the cheese--mozzarella, feta, all of it--and substitute olive salad (pickled olives, carrots, cauliflower and spices in oil). Then mow down that pizza and guzzle a glass or pitcher of one of the many varieties of the fine local Abita beer. If you're getting poorer while The Man gets richer--or even if you are The Man-- remember that all food tastes better after you don't eat for two days.
One of the things that white New Orleanians like to lick their own balls about (and yes, I mean the women, too) is how wonderfully goddamn nice it is that their city is so fucking diverse.
Cut to the Uptown cultural sensitivity store:
White New Orleans woman: "Hmm, honey, what kind of wallpaper should we choose?"
White New Orleans man: "Oh, Jesus. I can't decide between the black-man-shooting-another-black-man or the second-line theme."
White New Orleans woman: "I love it when we congratulate ourselves."
White New Orleans man: "Wow, I am feeling guilty about my skin privilege."
White New Orleans woman: "Thanks for ruining it, jerk."
What a beautiful tale. And now there's yet another flavor in the gumbo.
That's right: It's Spanglish time on wheels all over New Orleans! Beware the tacos de cabeza y de lengua. Just say, Me gustaria una horchata, and you'll be ok.
Don't be fooled by the name, this is the best Indian food in town. It used to be located in the CBD, close to my work, and I ate there all the time. Sadly, it's moved to the suburbs, but if you're going out that way, you should dash over for some excellent buffet.
The owners have described the menu, which I think is Punjabi, as Indian soul food, and brother man, I say, raise a fist in salute. This place is never crowded, but the masses can go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut. You can get tiny French lentils, mixed vegetables, aloo chole, and eggplant, but you're in the wrong place if you're looking for the kind of delicate Indian food that prances around on your tongue. This is comfort food, thick with plenty of oil and spiced with reckless abandon. Wipe up that stew with a yummy roti (tell 'em, to sub it for the naan, and your wish is their command). And if you're feeling extra bossy, ask for spinach without cream or cheese. This is the way the cook himself eats it, and if he's feelin it, he'll share the goodness (though I would suggest adding salt). And now even more insider info: If you luck out and hit this place on Friday or Saturday round about lunchtime, you'll find samosas on the buffet. Horde 'em And don't forget the lemon pickle--them's some good shit right there. You can get a dangerously heavy clamshell's worth of all this stuff for $5.99, or you can pig out in the dining room till your stomach needs stapling for $8.99. Tandoori Chicken, your name sucks, but I don't care what the others say -- I am desperately, gloriously, unhealthily in love with you.
Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Broadmoor Farmers Market 3 pm to 7 pm Free Church of the Annunciation, 4505 S. Claiborne Ave Mid-City Green Market 3 pm to 7 pm 3700 Orleans Ave [pkng lot of American Can Co]
Ninth Ward Markets:
Upper Ninth Ward Market Saturdays, 1pm - 4pm Holy Angels Convent, 3500 St. Claude Ave. Lower Ninth Ward Farmers Market Sundays, 10am - 1pm St. David's Church on St. Claude Avenue
Vietnamese Farmers Market:
Saturdays, 6am - 9am 14401 Alcee Fortier Blvd, New Orleans East -- If you want to get up that early just to buy some snow peas, it's your funeral.
Magnolia Farmer Co-Op & Market Place Open daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Corner of Jackson and Simon Bolivar Avenues
I'm not sure if you've ever heard of it, but there's this tiny little chain of grocery stores that has the kept unionization to a perfect zero percent, even though Whole Foods dictator John Mackey believes in the free will of the individual. Apparently he makes an exception when he's capitalizing on your labor. So a big fuck you to United Auto Workers, but a big fuck yeah to vegan food. Go get the Fair Trade chocolate chips and the one or two other vegan items in the store, but don't tell anyone, or soon you'll find yourself waiting an hour for a space in the parking lot.
Extra bonus review of Whole Foods' pizza: if you dig New York-style pizza, the Whole Foods uptown probably does the best reasonable facsimile. In addition to the usual toppings, you can pile it high with the most scrumptious yuppie delights, including artichoke hearts, button and portabello mushrooms, a mix of eggplant, squash and zucchini, and sundried tomatoes. Just watch out for the Hummers with the Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers whizzing around the parking lot.
Friday, February 6, 2009
(New Orleans, DL)
I'm pleased to say that cochon.com is a French porn site. It'd be cool if the restaurant, website cochonrestaurant.com, showed images from cochon.com as you ate. Full disclosure: Stephen, one of the chef-owners, is our friend and neighbor. I lent him my copy of Omnivore's Dilemma about one or two years ago, and he's still reading it. Slow but thoughtful reader? Yes. Good cook? Quite. Sensitive to vegan needs? Very. Call him up about a week in advance and tell him you want to dine with three other vegans, and get him thinking all up in his mind about what he can make that's great and vegan. Or maybe he just slaps it together that same day with that same easy elegance that the late one-eyeballed Jew Sammy Davis, Jr., used to employ at the Sands when he was quietly threatened to whip fellow Jewish Hebrew and Sands co-owners Carl Cohen and Jakie Friedman if they didn't up his cut.
When the parents come to town, Dad likes to get into his very sexy khakis and Mom into only the most fashionable pantsuit and spend a million dollars for dinner. Of course, being the spoiled ethnically suburban (though now living in the cityish Irish Channel part of N.O.) rich bitches that we are, we're only too happy to play dress-up and condone this class warfare carried out with heavy silverware on pristine white tablecoths.
The problem is that while many fancy restaurants know how to make a special vegan dish, they often think this means a pile of grilled vegetables seasoned liberally with an utter lack of inspiration. To these "chefs," I say, "Feh!" But more and more, your woman or man in the high white hat and checked pants will actually give a fuck, especially if you call ahead. Wcait, at the next table . . . is that Bob Dylan with a pair of crotchless panties on his head blowing his Victoria's Secret royalty check while singing "The Times They Are A Changin'?"
Although I can't remember for the life of me what we had, I remember it was like the coldest day of the year or something, and the vegan surprises were good, so good we almost didn't mind that we were freezing our clits off.
You can't spit or throw a rock in New Orleans without hitting a Mona's. Or spout some sad cliche, apparently. So it's inevitable you'll end up here sometime or other. And while you should do everything in your power to get to Lebanon's instead, you'll probably be quite satisfied at Mona's. Go for the huge green salad or the grape leaves plate, and you'll have a good day.
Breaking news. Supervegan fields of garlic reports that Mona's now poops its grape leaves out of a can. When I had the leaves a couple days ago, they were way too tangy. I drowned them with salt, and that made them better.
FYI, I love salt, and salt loves me. I have low blood pressure (80 over 50), so bring on the sodium. I'm one of those eccentric and at times annoying diners who doesn't even taste for salt before dumping it on my food.
Monday, February 2, 2009
(Middle Eastern, LD)
Flash forward to the year 200999. The liberals have prevailed. Marriage is no longer defined as being between just one man and one woman or even one just between one person and another person. . . . Lebanon's, do you take dazee to be your lawfully-wedded husband? I do. Dazee, do you take Lebanon's to be your lawfully-wedded restaurant? I do. Yes, this is what America has come to. Yes, it's the year 200999. Restaurants are marrying people. Dogs are marrying their owners' crotches. See, I told you so.
Seriously, though. Can I be serious for just a minute? Lebanon's grape leaves make me do the hokey-pokey. They're made not with just rice, but some other kind of grain, maybe cous-cous or bulgar wheat. Hell, I would marry Lebanon's just for the grape leaves. The falafel, hummus, etc., etc., also make me feel so fine, I freakin' be losin' my goddamn mind. And you don't have to feel like you're some kind of weirdo for not using whitening strips on your teeth like you do at Byblos. All you alcoholics out there should listen up, too: Lebanon's lets you BYOB. Me and Ol' Dirty Bastard were gonna bring a bathtub full of Moet and Chandon down to Lebanon's, and then he died. He died, man. Why'd he have to die? Why? Why? Why'd you have to die, ODB?
(Middle Eastern, L)
So you were wondering which Middle Eastern restaurant is the worst in New Orleans? The falafel, hummus, etc., is either dry, off, or both. Of course, you can get away with serving slops like this when you're steps away from where the streetcar drops off loads of tourists who may not know any better and you can practically smell the piss on Bourbon Street from the front door.
(Kosher, Middle Eastern , LD)
My ancestors stopped being kosher about three or four generations after we climbed down out of the trees. When I grew up, the last vestiges of this quaint little ritual meant that we could pack in the sausage or bacon but not pork or ham. Yeah, we were really assimilating, man. I've never really understood why you could eat as much campylobacter-stuffed chicken as you want, but the noble pig is somehow off limits. Whatever. I will, say, though, that the anti-cheeseburger set really does me right sometimes. Like Casablanca. The bad news here is the meat. The good news is that this means dairy stops at the door. So you get tadziki and, rumor has it, chocolate mousse pie made with soy. Kittee liked the grape leaves, heavy on the dill, but I say the rice inside is too dry. The combo appetizer is bi-polar. I don't like overly lemon-juiced hummus, but Casablanca's left me crying for more. I thought the falafel and baba ghanoush were too bland and the tabouli too soggy. I was also annoyed by the fluffy moistness of the pita bread. Fluffiness doesn't seem like a bad thing when you think about it, but I wanted the traditional flatter, drier version. Maybe I'm just a whiner. The spinach pie was more of a solid, vaguely cheesy mass than the delicate flaky thing I'm used to, but I liked it just the same. I also kind of liked the spicy red eggplant dip, which was very non-wimpy. I will defend the fresh fries to the death, though--they might be the best in town. If you want something more down-homey, go for the couscous with mixed vegetables. And don't forget to slap the rabbi on the back if you see him.
Kittee informs me this isn't her favorite review. She wants me to say that the tadziki is made with Tofutti sour cream ("I can tell") and that the grape leaves are big doo-doo size fatties. There, happy, kittee?
(Middle Easter, LD)
(This review refers to the Uptown restaurant, the Metairie location is more of a deli and is counter service only).
I've never been to a fancier Middle Eastern restaurant. The serving staff are prettier'n Barbie and Ken with a radical makeover. You also get to eat on glamorous white tablecloths and stab your falafel balls with forks so heavy you need a fucking crane to lift them.
My advice is too ignore all the rich bitches surrounding you and just dig into the mezze. You can pick from the standards like falafel, hummus, and baba ganoush or go cuh-cuh-cuh-crazy with grape leaves, mujadarah, foul, and brown rice. Stay away from the spinach, which seems to be sauteed in butter. And make sure you ask if the spinach pies are vegan because I've forgotten now, and I'm too damn lazy to call and confirm this.
Plus, on Thursdays, you get to pitch an R-rated tent over all the belly dancers shakin' and bakin' right past your table
Babylon Cafe, 7724 Maple St., 504-314-0010
(Middle Eastern, LD)
My friend Blair thinks this is the best Middle Eastern restaurant in town. Blair is nice, handsome, and witty, but he might be a little meshugana because, he's dead wrong. It's the second best. kittee thinks they have great homemade flatbread though. Even President Punny-Printer would like the grape leaves, I mean dolmas, I mean dolmas.
Stay away. Kittee had a cold black bean burrito, and I had some other kind of crap I only have bad semi-suppressed memories of. Of course, it's wildly popular here, proving yet again that we are all alone in this great void.
We used to hate this place and dazee gave them a really mean and ugly review. I deleted it, since we love it now. I don't know what happened, but it's really good. Order the cebollitas, which are char-grilled green onions doused in lime juice, olive oil and salt and make sure you get the salsa cart brought to your table so you can drizzle some salsa negra on whatever you choose. Kittee likes the taco salad and dazee goes for the tiny petite bean burrito, it don't matter 'since their beans are vegan. The guacamole is just OK, but the margaritas are good with a nice taquila.
Juan's is so punk rock. Angry Caucasian caveman music blares from the hi-fi, and two to one, your pierced waiter might just have a titanium rod jammed through his anal wall and curling out the head of his cock. Of course, I brought my out-of-town friends here one day, and wouldn't you know, someone had just sucked down a tank of ironic gas and proceeded to torture us with the Footloose soundtrack. So if you want a nice peaceful dinner, fuck off. But if you want a decent, wholesome (and, unfortunately, about as Mexican as Nanook of the North) burrito, you'll need to party down at Juan's. I always go for the veggie punk on whole wheat with smoky pinto beans, taters, and guacamole subbed absolutely free for cheese. Of course, the bean tacos will show you a helluva good time, too. Then what you do is get fucked up on a pitcher of margaritas and pump some money into our economy by blowing your whole paycheck on overpriced tschotchkes in the delightful antique shops nearby.
Veganism and Zionism hook up and make some beautiful love in Kosher Cajun. I mean, they totally get it on. Shit. I haven't ordered anything from the deli, but who cares, because Kosher Cajun's store is stocked full of vegan treats. Put all of these on your shopping list: vegan white chocolate chips, confectioner's glaze-free jimmies, containers of Tofutti cream cheese and sour cream; a 48-piece assortment of Mon Cuisine Frozen Foods Vegetarian Vegan Party Favorites, including pigs in a blanket. And then you can celebrate the continued mass murder and oppression of Palestinians by moseying over to the clothing section and picking up your very own Israeli Defense Forces jacket. Fantasize about mowing down a rock-throwing Palestinian child with your Bazooka while chewing on the Israeli version of the namesake bubble-gum. Mazel tov!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
(Japanese, Sushi, LD)
Kittee thinks the vegetable rolls are the bee's knees; I think the avocado rolls are the bee's balls. As in reallly good bee's balls. The creamy avocado rolls went down more easily. The last time I ordered the seaweed salad, it was cloyingly sweet. And the tofu steak, while OK in and of itself, was accompanied by a dipping broth that may have been wrung out of sweaty socks. Plus, the house salad was buried under dressing a bit too thousand-islandy for my comfort. Better were the cucumber and bean-sprout salads, which may be the only things that keep me coming back. (Warning: the second time I ordered the bean-sprout salad, it was polluted with strips of fake crab.) Oh, I did have maybe the best glass of sake ever, pearl sake, an unfiltered brew that came off almost like spiked rice milk. Of course, Sake Cafe almost ruined the whole thing by serving it in a martini glass, for christ's sake. Demand that you be brought a shot glass or you'll look creepy.
I don't think kittee would disagree with me about the atmosphere--it's intimidatingly sleek, modern, and humorless. The bathroom is frightening--oh, it's clean enough, but try taking a whiz while an up-tempo lite jazz groove pumps in your ears and you know you have a heavy, heavy paper towel waiting for you after you drive your hands. Don't forget to wear your thin Armani sweater, linen slacks, and fake tanning cream, ya'll. As far as I know, kittee is the only woman with sweaty, hairy armpits to have ever dined at Sake Cafe.
Okinago sets out a sprawling buffet of not-half-bad Japanese and Chinese items, not half-bad a'tall. You get the inevitable slightly stale tinge of buffet food slowly dessicating in the open air, but the variety will put you in a gleeful mood. There's everything from seaweed salad to pickled vegetables to vegetable sushi and saucy Chinese possibilities (no MSG, I was told), too.
(Japanese, Sushi, LD)
Miyako advertises the largest hibachi tables in town. If you can deal with the stench of sizzling meat soiling your nostrils, you could do worse than eat here. There's a vegetable tempura entree (maybe vegan, maybe not) and the St. Charles location is right on the streetcar line.
We last ate here once about three years ago. The room was pretty enough and the food presentation precious in the usual finicky sushi-restaurant way. I don't remember much about the chow. It was probably OK. Why haven't we been back since. Why? Why does a mother love her ugly fucking stupid baby? I have no idea. Does everything have to make sense? Can't we just bask in god's mystery? Yes, I know, another helpful review.
(Japanese, Sushi, LD)
When I'm not reviewing restaurants that dare to serve vegan food, I'm a conniving, sleazy lawyer who loves nothing more than twisting the truth into a pretzel for the sake of my clients. You can scratch up a powerful hunger in this honorable work, Priscilla, and there's nothing that quite quenches the growl in my stomach than heading to Horinoya, my pick for best vegan sushi. The green seaweed salad is crisp and not too sweet the way some amateurs prepare it. Go wild and try the hijiki salad, too. Make sure you tell the waiter to leave the bonito flakes back in the kitchen, though. If I were you, dear vegan reader, I would also order the vegetable rolls, tiny gardens of earthly delights, all crisp and fresh. And these guys put the rock in broccoli. You get a ton of it, and it's steamed to the perfect texture, right between crisp and soft and topped with a creamy carrot-ginger dressing. Shit, there's a million things you can get on this menu, even Cajun-style edamame. The only thing I had a problem with was the natto, stringy and sour fermented soybeans. It's probably an acquired taste, but I think I'll be a closed-minded American bastard and just stuff myself with the broccoli.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
I can't recommend this place. I can't not recommend it. You won't love it. You won't hate it. I pretty much don't remember jack shit about this place except that one waiter looked like Hunter S. Thompson, and the room was as stuffy as my dead grandma's armpit.
I always knew that America and Pakistan would make sweet beautiful love in the form of a restaurant. And then Salt N Pepper comes along and has the balls to open a little dive serving the cuisines of these two mighty Allah/Jesus/Great Void-fearing nations right in the French Quarter. You could order a pizza or an oyster po-boy here, but being the foreign food snobs that we are, we always go for the Pakistani.
These crazy coo-coo birds love oil more than George W. Motherfuckin Bush and his momma put together. Be careful, too, to order the food to the proper spiciness level. Otherwise, you might have flames shooting out of your mouth. Well, if you can get past the grease, the vegetables will do you right, especially the spinach and eggplant are both creamy delish. Be warned about the samosas, too. They've got this weird flaky crust, but once you break them open, the taters will give you love. Stay away from the pakoras unless you're prepared to chomp into fried bits of onion and potato that may be well-cooked or may be the temperature of ice cream. The cook clearly gives a shit when he's making the flaky slightly sourdough naan and the deeply spiced potato parathas, though. Red alert: make sure you get it without butter. Oh, and with any dish, be sure to scream from the top of your lungs that you don't want any yogurt, or else you'll get a big stinking pool of it with anything you order.
You know when you've been to a restaurant a long time ago and you remember you didn't like it that much, and you haven't been back for decades? And then you go again? This is my story. I hit the buffet recently. The standard two or three vegan choices packed a wallop, briefly making me regret my hiatus, only to have my world come crashing down around me thanks to the ice cold pakoras. How perfectly goddamn delightful it all is to be sure, plus kittee doubts they have anything vegan, so definitely barrage waitstaff with thorough questioning.
We had to evacuate to Baton Rouge after the levees failed. But instead of moping about the shitty town we had to hang out in while our town dried out, we decided to make fertilizer out of it. Yes, this blog is proud to announce that it's expanding its restaurant review section to Baton Rouge. We hope to crush or annex any websites containing vegan-oriented reviews of capital-area restaurants, just like the good little capitalists that we are. Well, the buffet was a bit slim in its vegan pickings, but what was there was pretty all right. One of the steam trays was packed with mini masala dosas. And although they were kind of soggy, you should count your blessings--it's not every day you run into dosas at your local Indian buffet. The bhindi masala shows all you Southern motherfuckers how okra should be cooked.
(Wannabe Indian, LD)
The first time I ate here, I stupidly ordered only a beet salad with, I think, mango sauce. It was tasty enough but I left crying with hunger and had to quickly inject a falafel at the Mona's on Frenchman for dessert.
Then I went back and had the spinach and tofu and smoked a hookah. I felt like the cutest fluffiest little puppy in the world romping in a sunshiny meadow. Little did I know it would be the high point of my life. The levees failed, and now I have an anxiety disorder. Shit, I need to go back there for my mental health if nothing else.
(Chinese and Vietnamese, LD)
Kittee likes this place more than me, though it does get points for being MSG-free. You be the tiebreaker. I've had better Vietnamese soft spring rolls, though the super-crunchy tofu inside just about made up for the too-sweet peanut hoisin sauce. kittee thought the eggplant was just right. It was too sweet for me. The lemongrass tofu with vermicelli noodles and General Tso's tofu were kind of lacking in personality. OK, time to put on a (mostly) happy face. August Moon is also open late, it's right across the street from a Kwicky Mart ("a pack of Kools, a Gatorade, and a Penthouse--will that be all, sir?") caddy-corner from a hospital (very handy in case of heart attack caused by uncontrollable rage kindled by denial of soy milk).
Half the population of China could fit into this sprawling warehouse of a restaurant. Good, let 'em. This place is about as uninspired as it gets. But our waiter knew the word "vegan" -- ding ding ding ding. Steer clear of the barely edible tofu and go straight for the eggplant. Five Happiness gets five smiley faces for serving brown rice. And that brings up a larger point -- I don't think any city east of San Francisco has more restaurants offering rice of color. I think everyone in New Orleans went on a sugar busters diet a few years ago, and we just never got over it.
It's good. It's very good. The Back Yard Banana Chips, a.k.a. fried plaintains, are the best in town. The lentil soup is a miracle. The owner, Pam Thompson, is from Cali, Columbia, and has lived in New Orleans since the age of 5. Her husband is from Kingston, Jamaica. They're Nyabinghi Rastafarians. There are lots of photos in Coco Hut of Jah Rastafari himself, the emperor Haile Selassie. Sorry to be the bearer of the truth, but if you don't go to this place within one week of reading this review, the blackheart man is gonna get you and your children.
(New Orleans, American, BL)
Ding ding ding. The word "vegan" actually appears on the menu, so love is in the air already. You can start with Fair Trade, I repeat, Fair Trade, coffee and regular soy milk (If I'm not mistaken, I saw owner Greg Surrey carrying some bags full of food items from the nearby Wal-Mart, including Silk. Bad move, Greg.) Or you can go for a freshly squeezed organic juice. Or Abita root beer on tap. If you go for the tofu platter or sub it for eggs, though, proceed with caution. I've gotten it in pretty decent crispy-fried cubes, and I've had sopping, over-marinated strips. Definitely order the chunky home fries, though. If Bush ate these (and maybe got rimmed by an intern just like a sexy president should) every day, we probably wouldn't be getting ready to bomb the fuck out of Iran right now. Another boner-producing menu item is the vegan avocado mash po-boy. And for you fake vegan wanna-bes, Surrey's loves you, too, with organic yard eggs.
I've a pretty OK barbecue tofu po boy a couple times. So if you're in the Marigny and you need a tofu scramble or a tofu breakfast burrito, this is pretty much you're only option, but be prepared to choke down some stingily-seasoned food. OK, enough negativity already. Despite the food, I was kind of charmed by this place. The tables are in the back, and there's a bar in front. The morning we went, the doors were swung wide open, and I wished I had sat there to catch a buzz until it was time for a falafel at Mona's.
(New Orleans, BL)
We last made it here in October 2004. Since then, it's changed owners and, more importantly, egg suppliers. Elizabeth's used to get its eggs from our adorable across-the-street neighbor Patrick, who picks up said eggs from his equally adorable chickens, who romp, beaks intact, in his backyard and on his mama's farm in Mississippi. Now, it's anyone's guess.
I'll assume, but not guarantee, that nothing's changed. I can't remember whether we had a sweet potato or french po-boy or both here, but the point is that you can get some kind of potato on soft french bread and join in a glorious New Orleans tradition without roast beef juice dripping down your face or an oyster exploding in your mouth. Bring your own veganaise, and live like a vegan star (just don't use their vinegar, kittee tried some and and then realized there were 25,7897,455 dead fruit flies in it.)
Fuck yeah, man. This place may have the tastiest vegan food in town, and it's in a quiet part of the French Quarter. For you geography buffs, Bennachin cooks a combo of Gambian and Cameroonian food. Forklift the jama-jama (spinach) into your mouth as fast as it'll go. The plantains would make Jesus hop down from the cross, as would the coconut rice. And each dish comes with a quaint little vaguely football-shaped white roll the same consistency as po-boy bread. I have no idea if this is a Gambian thing, a Cameroonian thing, or a New Orleans thing. The blackeyed-pea fritter po-boy is okay if you're looking for a vegan variation on the famous local sandwich, but it's a bit tasteless compared with the other mighty offerings on the menu. The fritters were sort of like deep-fried grit balls, and together with the bread packed maybe too super starchy of a punch.
If none of this sounds good to you, maybe you need to see a priest. Or you could follow this tip: many of the meat dishes are available vegan-style. I would, and do, order the dishes served with fufu, a sourdough-tasting mound of pounded cassava.
Bennachin also happens to be the perfect way to get your mind off that nasty Jazzfest sunburn. These guys have a stand at the fest at which you can slurp down some jama-jama and plantains while you're getting your jam-band boogie on.
When you make a reservation, tell 'em you request a vegan meal.
Is it snooty? Yes, and I quote, "Dress is upscale, jackets preferred at dinner. No Shorts." So if you go in there like a wise guy with your long white t-shirt and your jeans hanging low, I don't care if you're Lil fuckin' Wayne, expect to be dragged back to the kitchen and have a shaving cream pie smashed in your damn face.
What I suggest for the ladies is to wear something baggy and sleeveless, something that shows off your sweaty armpit hair nicely. I didn't see that banned by the dress code.
Is it touristy? Yeah, but who gives a shit? Look around, and you'll also see something far more repulsive -- a bunch of rich white New Orleans uptown prunes with huge gold broaches and earrings so heavy, their lobes drag on the ground. You know who you are -- you Nancy (Worms Have Recently and Justifiably Torn the Dead Flesh From My Bones) Reagan lookalikes who care more about what to wear to your no-blacks-allowed Mardi Gras ball than about Chopper City soldiers killing one another at a rate unsurpassed by any other city in America.
Disclaimer: Commander's is a fully integrated eating establishment. If you're a person with color, and you have a jacket and a couple hundred bucks, you get a table at Commander's, no questions asked.
Well, that's some expert sociological analysis right there. It's making me hungry.
The one time I ate there, Commander's served the tied-for-best (with Cochon) fancy vegan meal I've ever had. It was grilled veggies and a salad -- and I can't really tell you what made them so magical because I have a bad memory -- but someone back in the kitchen put some fairy dust on that shit or something. Someone else I know reports similar results.
Now, I hope this review doesn't have unintended consequences, like Commander's chef jizzing in your appetizer just because you're vegan. Not all vegans are this bitter and nasty. And yet so willing to speak the truth.
Well, I was gonna write more, but the doggie's gotta go pee pee and poo poo.