Before I begin my story, I’d like to first confess something:
I never believed in vegan food. It always stood as this ridiculous symbol for a movement that tried too hard and failed to prove anything to the “real food” community. It added no substance, and subtracted even more, and in the end, there was always something left to be desired. It was a cuisine full of soul-sucking impostors, phonies and shams. So I gave up on it.
But the movement shifted. Places like HipCityVeg opened—that was my first reentrance to the cuisine. A few years ago, I took a bite of their fajita wrap and lost my mind. A few more trips back, and a visit to Vedge sealed the deal. These chefs weren’t aiming to convince anymore—they were showing off. Vegan options have grown in Philly since—all the way into South Philly, even. Which, admittedly, was expected given the gentrification eruption rolling there over the past decade. Now, on the corner of 11th and Morris, Steve Laurence’s Vegan Commissary exists, and the food coming out of that kitchen is as impressive as it gets in this city’s restaurant collection.
And so it begins: a look into our late, late night dinner, put together by a vegan chef, sharing knives with a steakhouse chef, both in a tiny little restaurant/commissary kitchen in South Philadelphia.
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HipCityVeg’s birthday cake milkshake.
Everyone’s favorite fast-casual vegan lunch spot, HipCityVeg, will celebrate its second birthday on April 16th, but they’ve started the festivities early with a just-released birthday cake milkshake—with sprinkles on top, natch.
I just downed one with my lunch (evidence, left), and, yes, it’s as good as you can imagine. It’s made with vanilla cake-batter vegan ice cream. It’s hard to tell in the photo but the sprinkles have just the tiiiniest bit of sparkle, which makes it all the more fun.
Pick one up—and wish your friends at Hip a happy early birthday!—at the Center City location.
(University City might get it soon, so I’ll keep you posted.) UPDATE: I’m getting word that the shake is now available in University City, so have at it! The shake is $5 and will be available until the end of April.
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It’s not often I get to write about a music venue—I leave that to our pals over at Ticket—so I’m jumping at the opportunity.
Philly’s World Cafe Live is hosting its first-ever, 100-percent-meat-free meal next month, where even the beer is vegan.
The Vegan Beer Dinner, to take place on Monday, April 28th, will include four courses (menu TBA) and five beers, along with live music from jazz singer Sara Street. From the event’s website:
“All food items will be 100% vegan, and all beers will be styles made without animal product, and coming from breweries who do not use any animal products in their fining process(no isinglass, gelatin, bone char, etc). Confirmed beers include: Southern Tier Gemini, Founders Imperial Stout and Lancaster Hop Buggy.”
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Vance Lehmkuhl has been compiling nominations for Philadelphia’s best vegan cheesesteak for the Philadelphia Daily News. He received over 1,000 nominations for 23 Philadelphia area vegan cheesesteaks. From those nominations, Lehmkuhl wittled his field down to three finalists; Blackbird Pizzeria, Cantina Dos Segundos and Hibiscus Juice Bar.
Cantina Dos Segundos walked away with the people’s choice award for their vegan cheesesteak burrito. The spices seemed to push that one over the top. The “professional judges,” Jonathan Bagot (veganjawn.com), Takia McClendon (Uptown Soul Food), Frank Olivieri Jr. (Pat’s Steaks) and Christina Pirello (local author) went in a different direction. When all was said and done they had crowned Blackbird Pizzeria’s vegan cheesesteak as the city’s best.
And the best vegan cheesesteak in Philly is … [Philadelphia Daily News]
Blackbird Pizzeria [Foobooz]
Year of the Cheesesteak [Foobooz]
I don’t have enough thumbs to put up (you know, like thumbs up?) to convey how awesome I think the upcoming Foobooz After Dark event is. So you’ll have to accept my two measly thumbs, but envision many, many more.
The event, which our friends over at Foobooz are hosting (duh), is a one-night-only vegan dinner on Saturday, March 29th, with Barclay Prime chef Jeff Froehler, who will be manning the kitchen sans animal products at Passyunk Square’s new Vegan Commissary. So yes, a steakhouse chef cooking a meat-free dinner. Seriously, y’all: The Foobooz guys tell me this food will be phenomenal.
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Philadelphia has its company of vegan darlings: Vedge, HipCityVeg, Grindcore House, Miss Rachel’s Pantry, Barclay Prime, Blackbird Pizzeria, Breezy’s Cafe. We love them because they never fail to impress. Being able to coax any semblance of umami out of nothing-from-an-animal is basically a magic trick, and these crews do it day-in and day-out. They’re the mind-blowers and the mind-changers, and they’ve diversified Philly’s dining scene so that it’s accessible to anyone: vegan, vegetarian, and not.
Wait, Barclay Prime?
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Calling all vegans: Do you really want to be able to eat a McDonald’s Big Mac? Best-selling vegan author Kathy Freston has created a petition on Change.org urging McDonald’s to add a plant-based sandwich option to their menu. And she’s not the only vegan celeb who wants to be able to hit the McDonald’s drive-thru: Folks like Alicia Silverstone, Russell Simmons and Ellen Degeneres have signed the petition, along with 91,000 other people.
The petition, titled “It’s Time For A Healthy, Meatless Option (Please!)”, argues that over one third of Americans already buy meat substitutes for both health and ethical reasons. So why wouldn’t McDonald’s listen to consumers and jump on the plant-based bandwagon? Just add a veggie burger to the menu and voila: There’s a little something for everyone.
Hmmm, if only it were that easy … »
This Saturday, February 1st is the Abbaye’s fourth annual Vegan Wing Bowl. Competitive eaters can enter for a $20 entry fee that includes bottomless beer, all the wings you can eat in the allotted time, Vegan Wing Bowl/Abbaye/Philly Roller Girl swag and if you win, a trophy, cash prize and Roller Derby tickets. Call 215-627-6711 to enter.
Just looking to cheer on your favorite vegan competitive eater? $10 gets you bottomless Philadelphia Brewing Company beers and discounted vegan wings.
Philly Roller Girls will be in attendance and sponsoring the eating contest. Competitors will consume as many seitan-based wings as they can during a the length of a roller derby jam, two minutes. Winners from each round will be weighed and put on the leaderboard. The top three weights will win prizes.
The doors open at 4 p.m. with the competition beginning at 5 p.m.
The Abbaye [Official]
When I was in middle school, I really overdid it on the cow’s milk consumption. Like, I’m talking between four and five pint glasses of whole milk every single day. You don’t have to tell me how disgusting that is—I’m well aware. I could chalk it up to being a growing gal, but really, I just freakin’ loved milk. But after a year-long milk-binge, my relationship with the creamy beverage turned sour. I’d officially over-done it; I simply couldn’t drink any more cow’s milk.
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Vegan Commissary will open just steps from the Avenue. Photo by Jeff Fusco
Friday, December 27th marks the opening of Steve Laurence’s Vegan Commissary at 1703 South 11th Street, just a half-block off of Passyunk Avenue. You may have already seen Laurence’s spreads, scrambles and sandwich fillings at Sook Hee’s Produce in the Comcast Center, the Last Drop coffee house or at Good Karma Cafe.
Laurence just sent over what will be on his opening chalkboard menu tomorrow. The menu features starters like edamame hummus with Togarashi won tons, salads, sandwiches and bigger dishes like Za’atar grilled eggplant.
For more on Laurence and Vegan Commissary, check out this article on Be Well Philly.
Opening menu items »