Monday, August 07, 2006

Hi everyone, I asked Phylis to give her take on Vegan New York, so let me give the floor/page over to her.

Let me start by saying that when it comes to food I am a tough audience. In fact, my experiences of veganism have left me hostile in the extreme. Too many times I have sat down to a repast with vegan friends and been subjcted to something akin to par boiled espadrille served with cardboard particulate and light tahini sauce. If over-boiled brown rice is the tastiest thing on the plate, you know you are in trouble. My past experiences of "professional" vegan restaurants have been the indigestible equivalent of late seventies left wing politics. Slap dash, badly thought through and leave an intensely bad taste in the mouth. Frequently served up by people with questionable personal hygiene and an even worse approach to the cleanliness of their establishments. Too often the workers co-op approach means no one actually does the work.

So it was with a sinking heart that I agreed to visit Angelica's, we marched city blocks through a record-breaking heat wave (okay, the map was upside down, but once we mastered the orienteering, Angelica's is quite handy for the subway). To my surprise, the venue was Shaker rather than hippy. Hoorah. The restaurant, kitchens and rest room were clean and fragrant. The serving and kitchen staff were attractive and well presented, the Maitre d' was a particularly pleasurable slab of eye candy, though he should note that hair bleaches are tested on animals! The menu offered a broad range of cullinery styles. Experience has taught me that the Eastern route is frequently the safest Vegetarian and Vegan option. Why is that most points East can come up with delicious whole food vegetarian and vegan options, whilst the Weat still churn out slurry mince substitutes and barely pallatable fake meat products. If you are going to avoid meat and animal products, don't try to simulate them using factory sweepings and aggregate. Devise a fresh and exciting diet using the fresh and dried products as the stars.

I chose the Japanese options. I started with Norimaki - six pieces of rolled vegetable sushi, served with wasabi, pickled ginger and lemon-shoyu dipping sauce. This was beautifully prepared and a reasonably sized portion, compared to some Sushi houses I have been to. I followed with the Dashi and Noodles - a bowl of traditional Japanese broth made with shiitake mushrooms, kombu, fresh ginger and shoyu; served warm or cool over soba noodles. Adorned with chef's select garnishes. It was spicy and delicious. I am a dessert woman, but the portions were large enough even to slake my wants and I really felt the need to walk the seventy five blocks to the wrong subway station to take me back to the apartment on 8th and 53rd.

I make no secret of the fact that I would never recommend a vegan restaurant to anyone. But Angelica's is a very pleasant exception and I would have no qualims about eating there again. Anyone want to take me?

Thank you for that Phylis.... If anyone is looking for someone to take on holiday you couldn't ask for a better person to take in my books.

Bear x

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