living underground in the real world

Monday Miscellany – the long and boring edition

“Poke my cheek with a pencil! Harder!!”

Election year blues continues, but in the meantime, here are 3.5 random distractions from the ridiculousness:

1) I have found my own personal perfect beverage: Fizzy Lizzy Grapefruit. I’ve been drinking it for a few years, always feeling guilty because it is packaged (just a glass bottle and a cardboard carton, not the worst), not organic, and shipped (but it seems that maybe it’s made in NY? I can’t really figure it out). But I always go back, and since I did the math and realized that my wholesale cost is less than $1 each, I indulge in about one a day – this feels super indulgent for a frugal gal like me who thinks of bottled drinks as luxuries.

At every Fancy Food Show I make it a point to taste all the fizzy juice drinks (Izzy, GUS, etc.), and nothing compares to my beloved Fiz Liz. (At Bloodroot, where it’s a bestseller, the employees secretly call it Fizzy Lezzy). I also really like this ballsy page comparing the different fizzy sodas with Mz. Liz – I’m thinking about doing the same for my business, to really show people why my little company is so much better than, well, anything else, anywhere, ever. (Oh, I can’t link directly to the page – click on “Compare Us.”)

While doing some research on Fizzy Lizzy recently, I saw this in a NY Times piece: “Fizzy Lizzy is the kitchen staff’s house drink at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.”

1.5) (Ha! Could BHSB possibly get any more publicity? What they are doing is admittedly awesome, and friends of mine have had perfectly lovely dinners there, but the whole place irks the fuck out of me in that special way that super Slow Foodie things can be so irksome. Give any chef, not just the anointed Dan Barber, a zillion dollars and a magnificent parcel of land, and she will build an amazing restaurant on it, I promise you. And while they absolutely deserve praise for only cooking what they grow, I hate to break it to every major and minor media outlet in the area, if not the country, but, um, oodles of restaurants – and vegan meal delivery services! – do pretty much the same thing, just without all the bells and whistles (= star chefs, Rockefellers, and P.R. agents). Yes, most don’t do it to the obsessive extent that they do but…oh, nevermind. Just thinking about them is tiring. (Also, I shouldn’t really talk smack about the Rockefellers – they bought many hundreds of dollars’ worth of my truffles last year. Thank you, Rockefellers, and please remember Lagusta’s Luscious for your holiday party needs this year!)

Also, I emailed them (Blue Hill at Stone Barns, not the Rockefellers) to make a reservation recently, but knowing how insane they are about seasonability and fearing a dinner of micro zucchini steamed with nothing on it but salt because they don’t use olive oil or something (or this ridiculous-looking creation, OY VEY! This is what everyone I know snacks on between lunch and dinner – good honest CSA-fresh veggies. Something about the pomposity of calling it “vegetables on a fence” makes me want to poke my eyes out with those nails, do you feel me?), I straight up asked: is it worth it for two upstate vegans, one a chef herself, both of whom know all about the bounties of Hudson Valley produce, to come for dinner? Do they, perhaps, do innovative things with house-fermented tempeh or anything else that might be interesting to my particular demographic? I asked all this very politely, because I do respect them and did feel I should see the damn place for myself since it was inspiring such orgasmic outbursts of p.c. purple prose from the foodie press. But I wasn’t up for paying triple digits for a dinner of the same veggies I get from farmers every week prepared by people with no understanding of the vagaries of vegan cuisine. They very promptly and kindly responded: they don’t grow soybeans, so I will be treated to a 100% vegetable meal. I’m sure it would have been a very nice meal, but I declined.*)

Well, anyway, Fizzy Lizzy is also the official house drink at Lagusta’s Luscious. Veronica – drink freely!

2) My Sula cat would be the happiest dude in the world if I would hold a super sharp pencil or knitting needle out so he could rub his cheeks super hard against it over and over again, turning his head each time to get a symmetrical face full o’ pencil points. He is adamant about only getting poked one time before prissily turning the other cheek, so to speak. Sometimes I try to sneak two passes with the pencil on one side, but he just stares at me like I’m deranged. Trying to explain to him that it is so clearly the other way around doesn’t help, and this is why I so adore Sula. He lives in a world completely of his own making, governed by his own unbreakable rules. Sneezing so freaks him out that he will flee for hours if you sneeze too near him, but if you whistle in the right key he will run toward you and you can engage him in an endless jazzy call-and-response meow/whistle song that will have him dancing and purring with delight. Have you ever heard of a cat that comes when you whistle at him?

I have lived with this cat for almost ten years, but there are entire parts of Sula’s brain I will never understand. He is also, it must be admitted, utterly unphotogenic. I’m actually tempted to post photos of his showboaty sister Noodle instead, because she loves a camera like nothing else.

I’ve been thinking about little Sula a lot because he will be ten on Thursday. He shares a birthday with Gandhi and Gillian Welch, how nice is that? In truth, we arbitrarily decided to make his birthday World Vegetarian Day, though he is not himself a vegetarian. He lives up to the Gandhi part of the day well, though, being the resident rebel of our house. And it must be noted that he has a most mellifluous meow, though it is not quite as nice as Gillian’s voice.

(And now he clearly has sensed me thinking about him: he just jumped up on the desk with that particular meow that sounds just like an elongated “hello!” and means “come to bed!”)

3) My god, I am becoming a cat blogger. Moving on, hastily: I’m not going to take the credit for Sweet & Sara’s rising star in the vegan culinary landscape, but the facts of the case are these:

Several years ago, a sweet girl named Sara was making marshmallows and things for Candle Café and other NYC restaurants. I met her when I catered a Carol Adams reading at Mooshoes, the vegan shoe store in NYC. (I also met the great Jen Mazer that day, who went on to design my gorgeous website.) She said that she was thinking of trying to get some distribution for her marshmallows and other sweets, and I got very excited and told her she pretty much owed it to the vegan world to do so. There were no vegan-owned companies making marshmallows, just the Kosher ones you used to be able to get around Passover until they started using fish gelatin, a brand of utterly horrific vegan marshmallows I will not name, and Tiny Trapeze, who make tasty vegan and not vegan marshmallows.

A while later, I heard through the vegan grapevine that she jumped into the deep waters of large-scale production and distribution (well, I’m sure she is actually pretty small-scale in the scheme of things, but compared with my happy little micro-business, where making 1000 truffles is a major undertaking, she got big fast) and now I see her stuff everywhere. Little by little, people are realizing that they don’t have to eat marshmallows made from the collagen of tortured animals, and for that I thank Sara Sohn.

____________

*Actually, why don’t I just copy and paste the email exchange?

On Aug 30, 2007, at 6:11 PM, lagusta’s luscious wrote:

Hello!

I was hoping to come to dinner at BHSB, and was wondering if you could do a nice meal for two that is vegan. My partner and I have been to many fancy restaurants – per se, Charlie Trotter’s, etc. that specialize in vegetarian tasting menus, and while the meals are always lovely they are also always 100% vegetables. I’m a vegan chef in New Paltz, NY, where I am blessed with many great local farms to choose from, and I have to say that an amuse bouche of heirloom tomatoes and vinaigrette isn’t exactly what I’m looking to pay $100 for, as lovely as heirloom tomatoes are…it’s just that that’s what I eat all day long. I hope this doesn’t sound too bossy, but I’m just wondering if we request a vegan meal if it will be 100% vegetables, or if there will be interesting things with soy foods, nuts, etc?

Best,
Lagusta

Hello,
I understand your dilemma! We are also a working farm and very proud of the vegetables that we grow.   Unfortunately we don’t work with soy products and nuts, so our vegan menu does feature all vegetable items.  I apologize for not being able to be more accommodating.  Have you tried Pure Food and Wine in the city?

Sincerely,

Philippe Gouze
General Manager
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
630 Bedford Road
Pocantico Hills, NY 10591

4 Responses to “Monday Miscellany – the long and boring edition”

  1. lagusta

    Too lazy to edit this, so I’m just leaving a comment: I do enjoy Pure Food & Wine, and it was a good suggestion, so thank you to Philippe.

    However, did you know that if you go to PF&W with a movie star they will put you in a secret back room I never knew about and will bring you zillions of extra little plates? They are really good with celebrity-schmoozing. Aside from that, and aside from the raw thing (which I usually find pretentious and overly ardent), and aside from some horror stories I’ve heard from a friend of a friend who used to work there (every kitchen has its horror stories, for sure, so you can’t really count that against them) the place is fucking nice.

    Does anyone know: the nut-based vegan cheese that they serve on the cheese plate: do they make it themselves? It is cashew-based? Is it fermented? Is it that Dr. Cow stuff? (http://www.veganstore.com/index.html?stocknumber=559) I am curious. It was truly amazing.

    Reply
  2. Veronica

    How crazy, I’m eating a Sweet & Sara toasted coconut marshmallow as I read this!

    The world is small, the vegan world is a lot smaller. Crazy connections…..

    Happy Birthday to Sula!

    Reply
  3. Sara

    I am also eating a Sweet & Sara coconut marshmallow as I read this!! I am Sara, and sweet, but not THE Sweet & Sara. (Name does end with A though.) As I was reading, I wondered if you will be needing any help with all of those truffles you’ll be selling to the Rockefeller’s this holiday season? I responded a few months ago to an old post and the position had already been filled. Keep me in mind if you are hiring. Thanks, Sara

    Reply

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