Sunday, March 27, 2011

Local to Me: Pete's aPizza, plus a word on Pig Business

Pete's New Haven Style Apizza
1400 Irving St NW
Washington, DC 20010

Phone: (202) 237-7383

(plus locations in Friendship Heights, NW DC, and Clarendon, Arlington, Virginia)

Pete's - they have vegan pizza, plus a fine selection of beer by pint or pitcher and wine by goblet or bottle (they prefer, though, you don't drink directly from the pitcher or bottle). I'm not a big fan of the counter service there - gives it a bit of a fast-food feel. But they do have pretty sweet sidewalk seating.

Recently Pete's switched their vegan cheese offering from a soy based cheese to arrowroot based Daiya to appeal to a broader audience, since so many have soy allergies or are just simply trying to avoid soy these days for one reason or another (thanks, Monsanto!).

The pizza is quite good. Below is the "Edge of the Woods" pizza, with sauteed spinach, caramelized onions, and eggplant slices fried like potato chips.
Pete's offers many different pizza topping add-ons, including several preparations of garlic. We added the minced fried garlic on this. Warning - it's served piping hot!!! It burned the roof of Marya's mouth.

And a few months ago we had this New Haven Green delivered:
It has artichoke hearts, sauteed spinach, tomatoes, and kalamata olives. We added sliced garlic to this one.

We stopped in at Pete's on the way home from attended a screening of Pig Business at the Capital Visitor Center.

Several congressmen were on hand. Among them, Jim Moran, co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. I had no idea there was such a thing. Makes me even more glad that I voted for him when I lived in his district in Virginia.

Also there was Jared Polis (Colorado), who's partner is vegan and they have a vegan household.
And Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, noted vegan and former presidential candidate chaired the panel after the movie. His wife, Elizabeth, works for PCRM, Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, dedicated to turning people vegan.
Also there was Dr. Michael Gregor of the Human Society (cool guy), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. of the River Keepers Alliance, and Gene Bauer, founder of Farm Sanctuary. And a pig farmer.

The movie opened up with the movie's creator serving bacon and sausage to her three children, stating that this was what began her curiosity into how the animals that ended up on her family's plates were treated. The movie was about the horrors of factory farming, but more about the horrible business practices of Smithfield overtaking small pig farmers making them indentured servants on their own land, forcing them to raise more pigs than they could legally handle.
The movie also discussed the health and environmental impact in the areas surrounding the factory farms, and how governments in several states and in foreign governments are complicit in allowing Smithfield to pollute so much.
In several points during the movie they showed several small-scale pig farmers who were raising their pigs in either slightly larger pens or letting them roam the grass-land.
At the end of the movie, before the credits, the screen read:
Do what you can to support small family farms by buying local pork.

So, what do you think? Completely mad or just partially mad?
I ask because the idea of "humane meat" is just insane. You can treat an animal as nicely as you would a pet, but if the end goal is to give it a horrifying death, it's still an act of violence, and cruelty. When I think of family raised pigs vs. factory farm pigs, I think of the song "Rockin' in the Free World" by Neil Young - the line about "We got a kinder, gentler machine gun hand."

I asked Gene Bauer, "is this sort of thing difficult to sit through?", meaning - the whole "Let's get rid of factory farms and just have violence on a smaller scale" thing. He replied, "it's a step in the right direction" I didn't get a chance to ask Dr. Greger or either of the Kucinichs their thoughts on it.

I agree with Gary Francione's approach that we just need to stop it altogether, right now!

But, realistically, if the only way to stop it is by eliminating factory farms and leaving it to a dying breed of family farmers to carry out the evil deed, not being able to meet consumer demand and consumers having to pay the true cost of meat deciding it's just not worth it, then we'll just have to be patient. I hate being patient, though.

I should say, originally scheduled to appear was Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who probably would have called everyone crazy for thinking humane meat is in any way better.

Your thoughts?

Here's a bonus pic from the Dupont Farmers' Market:
Lovely, no?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Paddy's Day! Irish Coddle from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Marya found this great recipe on the blog Fat Free Vegan, and I just had to try it for St. Patrick's Day.

You'll find the recipes here for both the coddle and the sausages.

First I made the sausages.
I didn't realize until I was wrapping up the sausage mixture in the aluminum foil that the recipe didn't call for any oil. I will confess to panicking a bit because I was concerned that the the sausage would stick to the foil. Then I remembered the source of the recipe - Fat Free Vegan. So I took what felt like a leap of faith and continued to wrap the sausages, then steamed them. They came out better than most sausages I've made, so I was both relieved and impressed.

Next, I stacked in a Dutch oven: a layer of potatoes, then onions, then the sausage, then more potatoes, topping off with more onions. The stack ends up being high, and only a cup and a half of liquid goes in. The result is, as this Wikipedia entry mentions, it is semi-boiled and semi-steamed.

It was delicious!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Great Sage & Conscious Corner

Great Sage
5809 Clarksville Square Drive
Clarksville, MD 21029
Phone: (443) 535-9400

Great Sage is one of those rare places that seem to do everything right. Everything is sustainable, organic, fair trade, and they source as much as they can from local farms. They opened their doors in 2004 as a vegetarian restaurant, and not too long ago quietly moved from a vegan-friendly vegetarian menu to fully vegan.

We've been there maybe 4-5 times. For us car-less folk, it's not easy to get to. Usually, we'll rent a car. Once we took all public transportation: Metro, 2 buses to a hotel where we stayed the weekend, then took a cab to Great Sage. We had dinner there, took a cab back to the hotel, then a cab back for brunch the next day.
We keep telling them they've got to open something closer to DC! Seriously - the place always seems busy, and they're way out there. Just imagine how they'd do in the city. As it is, they're maybe 20 miles from us, around 15 miles north of DC.

Anyway, we started off with this pretzel. On the menu it is called a Giant Bavarian Pretzel. When I saw the thing, I had to bring to our waiter's attention that this was far from giant. "False advertising", he said. I appreciated the honesty, at least.
It came with dijon 'honey' mustard, Thai chili hummus, and chili cheddar cheese - all very good. I was amazed at how much the 'honey' dijon tasted like honey - wonder how they pulled that off.
For the record, this is what I consider to be a giant pretzel (thank you Yahoo! image search).

For my entree I chose the porcini and black truffle rigatoni, with spinach, artichoke, 'parmesan', tomato sauce, and a trail of garlic and parsley olive oil for effect:
Very tasty. There's a gluten free version of this available, too. I should mention that the place is quite gluten-free friendly, and on Wednesdays they have gluten-free specials.

Marya had the Maryland artichoke 'crab' cake with grilled asparagus and Lyonnaise fingerling potatoes:
As Marya noted, vegan crab cakes seem all the rage these days, as we've seen them several other places recently. I had to look up what Lyonnaise potatoes are. My hunch was correct - it's potatoes sauteed in a style originating in Lyon, France.

For dessert Marya had the strawberry tart with agave-vanilla crème fraiche (can you tell I cut and pasted that description from their website?):
Not sure why they call these things tarts - I shy away from tart things, and this was not tart.

After being assured that the chocolate they use in their desserts is fair trade, I had the Chocolate Lava Cake:
Piping hot cake with a chocolate truffle center (my night for truffles), topped with choice of soy or coconut based vanilla ice cream. I chose coconut. Chocolate overload, but I could have stood to have another.

Great Sage is one of several businesses in a strip mall that jointly are called Conscious Corner. The other businesses there are Roots Market grocery store, Bark! sustainable/healthy/natural pet food store, and Nest, an Earth-friendly and fair trade clothing and gift store.
Roots Market is the size of a small supermarket with %100 organic produce, a great bulk section, and many items I've not seen anywhere else, such as a Tofurky fully loaded frozen pizza. They have a meat section that is very small, and considering the clientele, the meat manager must be as lonely as the Maytag repairman.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Local to Me: Astor Mediterranean

Astor Mediterranean
1829 Columbia Rd NW
Washington DC 20009
Phone: (202) 745-7495

Astor Mediterranean is a nothin' fancy little (and alcohol free) eatery in Adams Morgan, DC that features dishes from all around the Mediterranean. They have a second location in Arlington, Virginia, that has outdoor seating and...more importantly, beer and wine.
Though they serve the traditional meaty Mediterranean fare such as lamb, gyro, kabobs, and such, they have plenty of clearly marked vegetarian and vegan items on their menu. Their menu even warns that tzatziki contains dairy and that their grilled items may be cooked in butter.

Most of the items in this case are vegan, and I wanted to try them all:

Luckily, Marya ordered the Astor Vegetarian Sampler - minus the cheese-filled spinach pie, and I got to try a bit of each:
I'm clearly lacking in the photography department - I feel a real food photographer would have thought to remove the top of the hummus container in the center of the plate. The other items are, going clockwise from the top: falafel resting on top of some sort of carrot salad, Egyptian salad (tomato, cucumber, cilantro, spices - also under the falafel), stuffed grape leaves, fava bean dip, baba ganoush, an eggplant dish, beet salad, lentil salad, and chickpea salad. Somewhere in there is a sample of tabouli.
My favorite was the eggplant. Funny how I used to hate eggplant years ago.

And spanning opposite ends of the Mediterranean, I ordered the Egyptian Pizza, in honor of the new democracy in Egypt.
Astor is known among vegans for their tasty pizza, prepared with a square-cut crust. This pizza comes with eggplant, green pepper, garlic, jalapeno, tomatoes, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and feta cheese. Despite their menu noting that soy cheese is a $1.50 extra topping, they replaced both cheeses with soy cheese at no extra charge.
I'm guessing the eggplant on my pizza was the same spicy mix Mary had cold on her platter. Also, their crust has some sort of seed in it. It tasted like fennel, but they insisted it was cumin seed. Regardless, it was a nice touch.
It was quite good, and I managed to finish it off. Only a carafe of red wine and a bottle of hot sauce would have made it better.