Thursday, October 1, 2009

VeganMoFo, Day One

I am not a good blogger. Like many people, I get excited about a blog idea, post a half dozen entries within the course of a month, and then let the blog stagnate until the domain name expires. But this time is different. Right?

I think it is different this time. I created this blog to participate in this year's VeganMoFo III, along with hundreds of other vegans who are trying to be good bloggers. We're all trying to blog about vegan food every weekday for the month of October. I'm motivated by knowing that there are so many other people trying to do the exact same thing. However, I'm made apprehensive by the fact that--aside from IMs to co-workers ("Wanna get lunch?") and jotting down shopping lists--I've never written about food before. And I'm not a prolific recipesmith. But I'm vegan, and I spend a lot of time and money on eating. So there must be something to write about.

Let's start with what I ate for lunch today. I work in Manhattan, in the southwest corner of Times Square, just east of Hell's Kitchen. There's not a lot to eat for a vegan in that neighborhood, but over the past year I have discovered about a half dozen places that offer decent vegan food options, all within a few minutes' walk from work. Today, I went to Zen Palate, on 9th Ave. at West 46th St.


Zen Palate is dependable. Their lunch specials are ordinary and invariable. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, "Gosh. The Sweet and Sour Sensation isn't that good today." It's like the Groundhog Day of vegetarian restaurants.

Here's an example. Being a noob food blogger, I forgot to take my camera to lunch with me today. So I was going to draw what I ordered: Tofu Delight. It would have been a horrible drawing, but I was going to do it anyway, because it would have been funny. But, on a whim, I thought I'd Google for an image of the dish and save myself the trouble. All I did was search for "zen palate" at images.google.com, and the first result was a photograph of my lunch. It looked exactly the same as what I ingested a few hours ago. The only difference is that it was actually served to some girl from Los Angles over a year ago (thanks for the photo, quarrygirl).

Actually, there's another difference. I always substitute the moo-shu roles for the deep fried taro rolls that come with the lunch specials. They're not that detail-oriented about their vegan friendliness at Zen Palate, and they don't answer detail-oriented questions about their ingredients with a level of confidence that I trust. So I suspect that the taro rolls use conventional egg rolls for their wrappers. They might not, but for some reason I don't trust them on this issue.

How was it? It was edible, it stimulated my taste buds, and it was vegan. The moo-shu rolls were the highlight; I could eat those suckers all day long. After eating around 30 Zen Palate lunch specials over the past year, I just can't get too excited about it. But it's the only vegetarian restaurant within a reasonable distance from my workplace; for that, I will always love them. Oh, how much did it cost? $15 with tip. Not too bad in this city.

This blogging business isn't too difficult. While I'm at it, why don't I tell you what I had for dinner, too? A small soy cheese pizza with vegan pepperoni, mushrooms, and olives from Pizza Plus in Park Slope, Brooklyn. When I first moved to this neighborhood, I was thrilled when Google Maps told me there was hit for "vegan pizza" just a few blocks away.
Pizza Plus uses Follow Your Heart "Vegan Gourmet" mozzarella cheese and vegan fake pepperoni. (Yes, "fake" is redundant, but I like saying it. Fake meat. Fake cheese, etc.) Their crust and tomato sauce are delicious. My only complaint is that, as the cheese cools, it starts to take on the texture of mashed potatoes. Fortunately, mashed potatoes are also delicious.
PIzza Plus's vegan pies are among the top three vegan pizzas I've eaten, excluding those that I've made myself. This small pizza was about $15 (with no tip... c'mon, they just passed it across the counter to me). Their staff is always super-friendly, and if you're not a misanthrope, you might enjoy their outdoor seating in pleasant weather.

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