February 21, 2014
FROM THE BEGINNING, the Philadelphia cheesesteak has been evolving. The original sandwich that caught on at Pat and Harry Olivieri's South Philly hot-dog stand in the early 1930s had no cheese - much less "Whiz," which only came along in 1952. Provolone - sorry, John Kerry haters - * was the original cheese add-on, followed soon by American. Variants of the basic item flourished around town throughout the 20th century and are still going strong in the 21st. One variant that is showing up in more and more Philly joints is the vegan cheesesteak, a seemingly self-contradictory phrase, like "icy hot" or "nonworking mother.
February 7, 2014
"TASTY enough to turn Jay Z vegan!" That's a slogan Mickey Davis and Dorinda Hampton have not yet used to promote their Philly-based food line Really Fresh Vegan. But it's not out of the question. Davis, a/k/a "Black Key," is a Grammy-nominated music producer who's worked with Ludacris, 50 Cent and DMX. He told me how, as producer of the official B-side remix of Beyonce's 2006 "Deja Vu" single, he'd discussed vegan food with Jay Z, and got him to try some. Whether the superstars' December "22-day vegan challenge" was inspired by Davis and Hampton may never be known - until I get the chance to ask Jay Z himself - but Really Fresh Vegan aims for a big impact here in the Delaware Valley, where RFV sandwiches, snacks, juices and dessert items are increasingly showing up on store shelves.
January 31, 2014 |
Now that the food industry has heard the siren call for substitutions, there's no reason, if you're on a special diet, to miss much of anything. Vegan whoopee pies, gluten-free chicken nuggets, dairy-free ice creams, and wheat-free bagels abound. "These days you can go to a restaurant or market and know you have choices," says registered dietitian Tricia Stefankiewicz. "We've seen a big shift, even in the last two or three years. " Some of these edible oxymorons even taste good, or at the very least they can fulfill a craving.
January 24, 2014
SO: January 23 - too soon to call 2014 "the year of the vegan"? Not if you're New York Magazine , which noted last week that "news outlets on both sides of the Atlantic" have already declared it. And who am I to argue? Veganism is seeping into everyday life through so many channels, it's hard to keep track of the milestones. Two buzzed-about veganizations recently seen on Delaware Valley grocery shelves range from a jar of plain mayo to a line of artisan soft gourmet cheeses.
January 10, 2014
"IS IT real?" That's the key question for any dietary change adopted in January. It's easy on New Year's Eve to foresee a year of healthful eating, but a week or two in, the pie in the sky may become a pie in the face as aspirations give way to realities. A local meal service aims to help you make real changes around food - to the point of being named Real Food Works. Founded by entrepreneur Lucinda Duncalfe, in 2012, RFW moved into Philadelphia proper (Juniper Street) this past fall, launching with an event that saw Mayor Nutter gulping down a celebratory green smoothie.
November 1, 2013
GHOULS and goblins aren't our only primal fears. There's also the fear of trying certain foods. Don't get spooked, now, but I'm talking about vegan foods. It's odd. Take eating insects: Everybody's hipster-brave about that now, testing their mettle at tastings premised on a global shift to bug-based cuisine. And macho meat-eaters long ago conquered all the more "unsavory" body parts of animals, even if only by way of hot dogs. But vegan cream cheese? Drinkable kale? Weird-looking plants?
October 25, 2013
Company description: "A shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilies, roasted poblano peppers and a blend of aromatic spices," available in a burrito or bowl. Chain: Chipotle. Calories: A serving of sofritas has approximately 145 calories, 11 grams of protein and 710 mg of sodium. Location: 4030 City Ave. Order time: Four minutes. Price: $6.45. Review: The nation's vegan-friendliest chain earned kudos this week by extending its test of sofritas from western U.S. locations to Chicago and many East Coast cities, including ours.
October 18, 2013
CHEMISTRY! Cooking is an art, sure, but it's also a science - specifically chemistry. Especially in the creation of delicious chocolate desserts that are 100 percent animal-free. Fran Costigan has been doing the science since the late '90s, and her new book, Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts , shows great chemistry, not just in the recipes but between her and Philadelphia publisher Running Press. The internationally known desserts diva (just back from Paris Vegan Day 2013)
October 17, 2013 |
New Jersey, this is so unfair. You have a rock-star governor and, Wednesday, you will likely elect a rock-star senator, both potential presidential candidates. In Pennsylvania, what do we have? Bupkus. OK, two workhorse senators and Tom Corbett, who CapitalWatch noted is "unpopular with Republicans, Democrats, and independents," basically everyone except his wife and Airedales, Penny and Harry. How special is Jersey's special Senate race to replace the late Frank Lautenberg? It's been nasty, brutish, short, and exorbitant, costing taxpayers $25 million so Republican Gov. Christie - who acts as though he fears no man - would not have to appear on the same November ballot as Twitterholic and Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
October 4, 2013 |
Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, the husband-and-wife chef-owners of Vedge restaurant, are riding a wave that has yet to crest. The couple are reveling in our current vegetal love affair and, more specifically, with the sophisticated cooking that has brought their vegan fine-dining restaurant such critical and popular success. Witness the last several months: Vedge was named one of the country's top vegetarian restaurants by Food & Wine magazine; Landau and Jacoby cooked dinner for one of the world's most famous vegans, Bill Clinton; the couple developed a line of vegan sauces for Williams-Sonoma; and Gwyneth Paltrow even interviewed them for her blog.