Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Vegan Paradise

This weekend I went to Farm Sanctuary's annual hoedown in Watkins Glen, NY. My friend refers to Farm Sanctuary as vegan paradise. After spending the weekend there, I have to agree. It is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to.

Watkins Glen is not close to Massachusetts; it is about 45 minutes from Ithaca. We got on the road around 9:30. My friend wanted to push straight through to Ithaca, and we arrived there around 3:00. Our original plan was to get food to go from Green Star Co-Op and take it to a local state park. However, we got caught in a downpour as we drove into Ithaca, so we decided to eat at the grocery store instead. Green Star is a bit of a vegan paradise on its own!  We had a ton of options for lunch. We went with sandwiches - falafel, vegan Reuben, and vegan "chicken" salad. Everything was delicious!  We grabbed salads to go for dinner, along with Rice Dream mint ice cream sandwiches - how have I never eaten those delicious things before??

The rain had stopped when we left Green Star, so we headed to the state park.  Our original plan was to swim in the river under a waterfall. Unfortunately that part of the swimming area was closed because the lifeguards were off duty. It was also pretty cold after the rain, so we admired the waterfall from afar. Then we headed to paradise!

We arrived on the farm just before dark and were able to set up our tents with plenty of light. As dusk fell, we wandered over to the campfire and chatted with the group that had gathered there. We ended the night with a late, flashlight lit dinner.

Saturday's breakfast was simple, muffins and fruit. We spent the morning in the people barn, listening to various speakers, including an introduction by Gene Bauer. Lunch was outside in the sun, as it was a gorgeous summer day. The food was delicious - two different pita sandwiches and two salads on the side. After lunch we finally got to visit the animals!  We toured the farm with Susie (thanks for the invite to the private tour, Aimee!) and spent time with the cows (including baby Michael), pigs, sheep (who were all over me!), and met Turpentine the turkey. We did not have enough time to visit all of the animals before sanctuary time was over, but luckily more time was built into Sunday's schedule.

After another presentation, it was cocktail hour. Even more importantly, it was appetizer hour!!  My favorite was the vegan crab cake which had a delicious dipping sauce to go with it. We sampled some different nut cheeses, which I'm sure sounds gross to anyone who hasn't tried them, but they were delicious!  There was also guacamole, salsa, fruit, and spinach pie. Despite all of the appetizers I ate, I still ate a huge dinner - Mac and cheese, kale salad, broccoli, sweet potato fries, and cornbread. And of course, I had to try some dessert - an amazing peanut butter brownie. It's a good thing we danced for three and a half hours!  Yes, I danced non-stop, including country line dancing, for over three hours. That's a testament to how comfortable I felt among all of these people I didn't know. It was one of the most fun nights I've had in a long time.

Sunday morning we did yoga on the lawn with Derek, who is an excellent yoga teacher in addition to his hula hooping and ukelele skills. Breakfast was amazing - tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, potatoes, oatmeal, and fruit. We ate it during coffee talk, a Q&A with the speakers. We were not particularly hungry for lunch after that, but we made room for Thai peanut salad, veggies, and greens (and another peanut butter brownie). Our time in paradise ended with another trip to the barns and pastures, where I laid down next to pigs and chilled with the goats. Then, sadly, it was time to leave.

 I knew it would be a fun weekend, but I had no idea how much it would affect me. Everyone there was just inherently welcoming and friendly. It was so nice to not have to worry about food. And I loved hearing about the animals and meeting them, knowing they have been spared from an otherwise horrible life. I will be counting down the days to next year's event!!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Vegan Thursday

Colleen is upset that I haven't been blogging since I returned from my trip, so here is a short post from last week.  I intended to spend most of last Thursday afternoon in Boston before meeting Faye for the Guster concert in Providence.  However, my plans were thwarted when I got a rather large splinter embedded in my heel.  So after visits to both the Minute Clinic and Urgent Care to remove it, I was finally on my way.  Unfortunately, it was after 1:30 by the time I got on the T at Riverside, so I had to make a change to my original Davis Square falafel plan.  That would just have been too much food too late in the afternoon - I wanted to save my appetite for Providence.  So instead I got off the T in Central and walked to VO2, the cafe in the O2 yoga studio on Mass Ave.  What a great place!  The staff was super friendly.  I ordered a chuna sandwich, which was made from chick peas and tasted uncannily like tuna.  I also got a spicy monkey smoothie, whose main ingredients were bananas, coconut milk, peanut butter, cocoa, and cayenne pepper - it was delicious!  I chatted a bit with the owner, who is still in the process of tweaking the menu.  She worked on it at the counter with another staff member while I ate.  She brought me a sample of her nacho "cheese" - it was awesome!  It was the most real fake cheese I've ever eaten.  It was a perfect stop for a late lunch, filling but not overly so and delicious.

My goal for dinner was to eat at Veggie Fun in Providence.  Rush hour traffic almost thwarted that plan.  However, we made it to Providence at 6:50.  The concert started at 7, but neither of us had much desire to see the opener.  Since the restaurant is around the corner from Lupo's, and since it wasn't very busy, we decided to go for it.  A good decision, as far as I am concerned!  We each had a summer roll to start - thin rice paper around firm tofu and veggies with a delicious dipping sauce.  I went the unhealthy route and ordered General Tsao's seitan - so good!  The sauce was fantastic.  Faye ordered eggplant in black bean sauce, which was also delicious.  I enjoy the fact that this is a vegan Chinese restaurant that is not focusing on fake meat - I will definitely go back!

We made it to Lupo's with time to spare, and I caught my first headlining Guster show in quite some time.  It was a good day.  :)

Tomorrow I'll write a longer post about vegan paradise weekend!