Saturday, January 31, 2009

WIPP It Good

Who: VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland, VN Editorial Director Aurelia d'Andrea, + VN Senior Editor Elizabeth Castoria
What: The Women In Periodical Publishing Women's Leadership Conference
When: Friday, January 23, 2009
Where: The Westin, San Francisco, Calif.
Why: Because ladies do more than lunch

The Scoop:
In case you're wondering, it's a really extra-good idea to attend conferences about the industry in which you work. Meeting people, listening to presentations, and having your little neurons going crazy-haywire-rapid-fire with bajillions of new ideas is definitely worth being away from the office for a day. This year's WIPP Women's Leadership Conference was the first of its kind, and happened to be held right here in the City by the Bay. There was no way that Colleen, Aurelia, and I would have missed this.

The morning started off early and got right to business. After briefly mingling with other attendees—and inhaling a few cups of coffee—we were treated to an opening welcome by Michela O'Connor Abrams, the president and publisher of Dwell magazine, who gave a lovely introduction to Jackie Speier, aka our Congresswoman. Speier was inspiring, funny, and informed, which are pretty much the perfect qualities for an early-morning speaker to have. Her latest project is working to ban toxic additives in cosmetics, about which she quipped that if the same chemicals were found in a stereotypically male product, like beer, there would be a new Manhattan project to find alternatives. Thoroughly enthused by Speier's speech, we were ready to get down to the business of talking business.

The day consisted of multiple breakout sessions and panels that discussed topics from how CFOs and COOs differ and how to put a "C" before your title to the growing demand for online content (like, ahem, certain blogs), and how to make publishing profitable in tough economic times. Come lunchtime, we were as hungry for food as we were for more discussion!

Purely by chance, we three VegNews-ers ended up at an all-vegan table at lunch. We were joined by Andrea Kowalski, the web editor at Yoga Journal, and Elisa Camahort, co-founder of BlogHer. Evidently, Colleen and Andrea had called each other that morning to coordinate oufits, as you can see:

Elisa spearheaded the "ask the waiter if the pasta sauce has dairy" effort, and to our relief, it didn't. While we munched our lunches, we were treated to a speech by yet another inspiring woman, Alix Kennedy, who received the 2008 Exceptional Woman in Media award. After lunch it was off to more panels, in which we tackled topics like successful independent publishing (hello, Dwell!) and a generational perspective on women in the publishing world that included Katy Tamony, VP and editor-in-chief at Sunset, and Grace Hawthorne, founder of ReadyMade. Yes, we talked about women's place in the working world (duh, leading it!) and hairstyles.

At the end of the lightning-quick day, we were treated to a wine tasting and more mingling, which was a great time to take off our over-worked thinking caps for the day and enjoy the company of friends old and new—like the lovely Michela, seen below (at left) with the VN crew.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fab Food With a Veg Vibe

Who: VN Editorial Assistant Stacy Blondin + VN reinforcements
What: The Fancy Food Show
When: Sunday, January 18, 2009
Where: Moscone Center, San Francisco
Why: Because if you’re going to eat food, it may as well be fancy

The Scoop: In the words of  "Friends" character Maggie Wheeler, guest starring as Janice Hosenstein Litman Goralnik, “OH ... MY ... GOD!” These three syllables were the first—and only—that came to mind as I descended the steps of the Moscone Center and caught glimpse of destiny: Fancy Food. Everywhere.

Who knew heaven's gates would look like this?

OK, so I had an ever-so-slight inclination that fancy food just might be among the things I’d find at the Fancy Food Show, a hypothesis I intelligently deduced from the pre-show information I’d been provided — namely, the event title and printed PDF brochure. But, it is moments such as these that give true meaning to the phrase seeing is believing. A veg-inspired scavenger hunt was clearly in order. And I’m not talking about your typical fifth birthday party play. This was serious. Armed with the Official Show Directory, a healthy helping of hunger, and my own two feet, I headed into the North Hall, prominently designated as the Natural and Organic Pavilion.

Now, let’s see how many ways the question can be politely and plainly posed: Do you happen to have any vegan options? Do your offerings contain animal products? Are any of your products vegan? Do you carry any cruelty-free fare? That’s vegan, spelled v-e-g-a-n, as in vegetarian minus -etarian, plus -an. OK, so the options are many. As, I came to find out, are the answers—but let's stay focused. I was, indeed, pleased to find this small, albeit significant, two-syllable adjective fending for itself among the cured meat, gourmet cheeses, and candy confections. Amidst the 1,500 exhibitors and 80,000 elegant edibles, I managed to find more than my fair share of meat-free fancies. Rather than bore you with the intricate flavors and textures of everything eaten, which could be fun but would definitely exceed word count, I’ll take you on a brief tour of the show, highlighting a few VN faves.

Because every herbivore sometimes feels like a nut, jump on the latest bandwagon along with Nut Land, Mareblu Naturals, and Mrs. Mays Inc.’s completely vegan lines of crunchy, crackl’n nut clusters. Fun flavors like Cranmango Cashew Crunch, Pom-raspberry Crunch, and Cranstrawberry Cashew Crunch are almost as fun to say as they are to eat. But, if soft is more your style, or you’re just crazy for peanut butter, opt for one of PB Loco’s 11 flavors of gourmet peanut butter spreads, five of which are vegan, and, as far as we know, haven't been recalled in the recent peanut butter recall frenzy! With options such as Sumatra Cinnamon and Raisin, Jungle Banana, and Asian Curry Spice, it is clear that these people take their peanut butter—and creativity—seriously.

Moving right along, if you haven’t already, be sure to Follow Your Heart to Earth Island’s innovative concepts in vegan fare. And whatever you do, don’t forget to sample their show-stopping raspberry cheescake. A couple … three … four more bites can’t hurt! Perhaps best known for their miracle in mayo, Veganaise, this pioneer in vegan alternatives boasts an array of dressings, sauces, faux chicken and cheese to top all of your condiment needs.

Noting the novel, GranoVita definitely deserves an honorable mention for their brand spank’n new — at least in the US of A — selection of soy-based spreads and dessert. Their mayo, salad dressing, and barbecue sauce may need a little texture tweak, but they’re on the right track with their yogurt dessert, Deluxe Soyage, which comes in six fabulous flavors—banana, mango, tropical, plain, black cherry, strawberry, and raspberry. Yum!

If you’re getting a little full, lighten things up with Living Harvest’s new unsweetened hemp milk, which brings hope to Americans who consume an average of 50 teaspoons of caloric sweeteners daily. FYI, that’s 40 more than the USDA’s recommended 10. Thank goodness these sugarless sidekicks can now be found in two fabulous flavors: vanilla and original. Oh, and one more thing (Psssst, don’t tell) ... there’s word on the street of a hemp-inspired frozen dessert in the works. 

Before heading out, be sure to find you faux fix at Field Roast—a booth where carnivores meet herbivores and fall desperately in love. If not with each other, at least with the amazing assortment of grain-based cutlets, sausages, loaves, cheeses, patés and, of course, gravy. No, this company didn’t forget a thing when it comes to flavor—lentil sage, wild mushroom, and smoked tomato—mouth watering yet? Even the savviest of meat-eaters could easily mistake these works of art for the real thing.

Stacy, all smiles for Field Roast's faux fare

If you still have room for dessert, despite having nibbled on assorted shavings of vegan dark chocolate, tortilla chips, sesame crackers, spicy salsas, roasted nuts, and olive oil all day long (or was that just me?), give Silver Moon’s cocktail-inspired frozen desserts a whirl. Try a slushy Pomegranate Martini, Mango Mimosa, or Mojito Ice for a kick in the mouth of the best kind.

Just remember to take VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland’s advice to heart by staying hydrated with a bounty of beverages along the way. With something to quench every type, degree, and lack of thirst, take your pick among endless flavors of coffees, teas, sodas, energy drinks and, yes, water. Metromint’s chocolate mint flavored H2O definitely topped my list. What will they think of next?!

With 33 years under its belt, I think it is safe to say that the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc. has got their act together. And if you happened to miss San Francisco’s show (or think you just might be hungry by the time June rolls around), don’t despair; head to New York City for your share of fancy veg-friendly fare.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Crazy-Busy Weekend, Phase Two

Who: VN Editorial Director Aurelia d'Andrea
What: Phase two of a hyperkinetic social weekend
When: January 15, 16 + 17
Where: (Don't call it) Frisco
Why: The usual reasons: Fun, fun, and more fun!

The Scoop: So, after mingling for an hour or more at odoriferous magazine shindig at Ferry Plaza, hoping against hope that some vegan cheese might materialize, VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland and I opted to part ways—she in the direction of South Beach's Shanghai 1930 for dinner with a friend, and I in the direction of Chutney Restaurant in the Tenderloin. Sadly, I was running just a little late, and by the time I arrived at the Jones Street eatery (just down the block from Millennium, where we'll be hosting a small fete for writer Jeffrey Masson in early March, FYI) my friends had already moseyed over to our next destination, the Exit Theatre. Drats. I really had my heart set on some of Chutney's super-tasty bhindi masala. Oh well.

James Judd, star of "7 Sins" at the Exit theatre, and little old me

At the Exit, I met up with Claudia, Deric, Jeff, and new VN writer Josephine Bellaccomo, whose friend James Judd was performing in the one-man show we were all there to see, called "7 Sins." I fell in love with this sweet little theater the second the guy at the door told me they offered secure bike parking inside, and double loved it when I saw they had a little café/bar inside offering a bunch of veg bistro-style fare. Opting to hold out for a home-cooked meal later on, I settled on a glass of wine ($4) and a bowl of pretzels (free!) and shuffled off with the gang to our seats in the little brick-walled performance space. The show was hysterical. From beginning to end, James has us squawking with laughter (OK, that may have been me alone doing the squawking). And at show's end, James was kind enough to be photographed with me. What a guy. And what a performance!

Next morning, that craving for Chutney's bhindi masala hadn't waned, so I convinced my partner in crime to cruise back to the 'Loin with me for a spot of Indian. What we didn't know, as we cycled down Golden Gate Avenue, over to Polk Street, and up Larkin, was that today was Little Saigon's very own "Tet" festival. Tet, aka Vietnamese New Year, is a festive occasion that usually involves noisy firecrackers and tasty food. Never wanting to miss a celebration, we parked our bikes, walked around a bit, and like little sailboats hovering a little too close to the Bermuda Triangle, we were sucked into Mangosteen, a Vietnamese restaurant right in the thick of it all. 

The spicy vegetarian curry at Mangosteen

We were excited about the separate vegetarian menu section, and immediately settled on vegetarian garlic noodles and a spicy curry that promised to contain taro, one of my favorite foods, and one I rarely get to eat. The noodles arrived quickly, and were, well, just OK. A tad oily for my tastes, and the veggies were just a wee bit overdone. Next up was the curry, and it looked promising: delivered by a smiling waitperson, the curry came in piping-hot clay pot with a little glass lid that gave us a tempting glimpse of its veggie-studded contents. And the taste? Delish. But where the hell was my taro? Not in this curry, that's for sure. 

Heading out, we made one last foray into the street-fair chaos, and with amazing, almost-magnetic precision, we found ourselves standing before the Supreme Master Ching Hai booth—those are the folks behind the Loving Hut restaurant chain, as well as local veg favorite, Golden Era—where they were handing out vegan—yes, vegan!—fortune cookies. Sweet! And best of all, is they weren't proselytizing any religious mumbo-jumbo. 

So, now, almost a week later, I'm still craving Chutney's bhindi masala. I think I know where I'm having dinner tonight ...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crazy-Busy Weekend

Who: VN Editorial Director Aurelia d'Andrea
What: A very social San Francisco weekend
When: January 15, 16, + 17
Where: All over SF
Why: For fun, of course!

The Scoop: Is it just me, or does your social calendar have an ebb and flow whereby some weekends are completely devoid of activity, and others are booked solid from dawn 'til dusk (and often much, much later)? Well, I experienced one of those those jam-packed spells last weekend, beginning on Thursday night at the Paul Mahder Gallery.

This sweet little art space over in the semi chi-chi section of Presidio Heights hosts regular openings for local artists, and Mr. Mahder and his guests are always as friendly as can be, the wine is forever flowing, and the art is predictably stellar. And did I mention there are nearly always veg nibbles? This evening's reception was for Russian artist Elena Zolotnitsky, whose paintings are colorful, beautiful, and just a tad too expensive for my budget. So what's a frugal art-loving girl to do? Browse and admire while munching fresh veggies and hummus and sipping sparkling wine. My favorite painting was titled "Renaissance Boy," and even if I can't afford to take him home with me, I know I can at least visit him until the end of February.
The veg couscous at Café Zitouna. Ahhh, memories ....

Friday night's outing was slightly more festive, beginning with dinner at Café Zitouna, on the corner of Sutter and Polk in the lovely TenderNob 'hood. I first tried this place back in May, and loved it immediately. It might have been because it was here that I broke a weeklong fast with a giant bowl of heavenly harira—a thick, chickpea-and-lentil soup served with a lemon wedge and chewy baguette—or it might have been that it reminded me of Paris, what with fellow diners chattering away in French and Arabic. Whatever it was, it's lured me back several times now, and on this night, in addition to a bowl of harira, I ordered the couscous off their veg-friendly menu. Yum! Perfectly steamed semolina was served with lightly spiced vegetables including carrot, turnip, and zucchini. When you add a dollop of the house-made harissa sauce, it's yum squared. The service is friendly, too. 

Next stop: The Bigfoot Lodge, also on Polk Street. Sound scary? Actually, it sort of was. The idea was to meet up with friends for a fun evening of socializing in a new environment—none of us had been here before—and I was stoked when I arrived and discovered that our contingent, which included VN Editor-at-Large Jennifer Pickens, had snared a cozy booth in the back, over by the faux fireplace and conveniently positioned within hopping distance to the toilettes. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the place was packed to the gills with frat boys and sorority girls getting their Friday night drink on, and what's the fun in hanging out if you can't even hear your friends speak?

Saturday's festivities proved much mellower, but still plenty funtastic. VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland and I had been invited to a magazine party at Ferry Plaza, and while normally we wouldn't be interested in a soirée centered around cheese—we are vegan, after all—we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see how another magazine throws its party, and we were curious to see if they might have any dairy-free cheeses on offer. They didn't. But there was plenty of wine, bread, and crackers to be had, and the view over the Bay almost made it worth enduring the stinky cheese smell for an hour or two.

Colleen Holland, Aurelia d'Andrea, and Marsha Rose say "vegan cheese" for the camera

Next stop: A spot of comedy and a new dining adventure in the heart of the Tenderloin ...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Third Time's a Charm

Who: VN Editorial Assistant Stacy Blondin + VN Senior Editor Elizabeth Castoria
What: Dinner and a Book
When: January 12, 2009
Why: To satisfy our intellectual and gastronomical curiosity

The Scoop: The plan was simple: depart the VNHQ at 5pm, arrive at Book Passage Bookstore at 6pm, engage in Mark Bittman's discussion of his latest book, and grab some grub at Ike's Place on our way home. What a perfect plot for a weeknight out in my new home town! Excited to embark on my first official VegNews outing, I boarded the MUNI along with my very own tour guide and co-staffer Elizabeth Castoria. We took the L line (a name which, btw, is in no way related to the shape of its route) to Embarcadero Station and walked to the Ferry Building Market Place, looking forward to the introduction of Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating.

We arrived just a smidge late and a smudge directionally challenged. Like any ingenious investigators, we consulted our most readily available resource—a map, cleverly placed at the building's entrance. We were close. Very close. In fact, we were so close we could see our destination—along with just about every San Franciscan foodie free on a Monday night. The attendees were packed like, well, factory-farmed animals, to be precise, into the tiny book store with appendages bulging out of both passages. Apparently the trend of arriving fashionably late was sooooo last year.

Since we swapped life stories in lieu of brushing up on our lip reading skills on the way over, we did what any hard-pressed reporters would do: held our ears up to a small crack in the open door. Using this technique, we managed to catch a few unmuffled sound waves and make out the following key terms: battery cages, chickens, torture, vegetables, less meat, local, sustainable and environmentally friendly. These soundbites drifted our way, rousing our literary (and actual) appetites. Although I am sure we could probably find the same words correctly spelled and eloquently arranged on the back of Mr. Bittman's book, hearing them straight from the cow's mouth granted them definition beyond Webster's. The fervor in Mark's voice and expressions paired with the crowd's seemingly canned responses clued us in to good times going on inside—a place we most certainly were not.

In case you are just about as unfamiliar with Mark's new read as we (still) are, perhaps you are less of a stranger to his previous titles, How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. If these predecessors are any indication of the quality of his current work, which makes the case against meat from an environmental and health front, our expectations are high. For more frequent doses of Bittman wisdom, check out his weekly column in the New York Times, The Minimalist. Or, for a daily fix, keep up with his discussion, recipes and tips via his food-inspired blog, Bitten.

Slightly disappointed, but excited to extend our reading lists, we headed down to The Castro, intent on harnessing our hunger with a big, juicy, mouth-watering vegan sandwich. I ruminated all afternoon over VN staffers' rave reviews of Ike's creations, introduced during lunch at VegNews Café. Elizabeth and I approached the sandwich shindig only to discover dimmed lights and somnolent staff. Note to self and fellow San Franciscan sandwich seekers: IKE'S PLACE CLOSES PROMPTLY AT 4:30PM ON BOTH SUNDAY AND MONDAY. OK, well, I guess that gives us ample excuse to plan an upcoming VN staff outing …. and to opt for an alternative cuisine.

Not exactly a sandwich, I know

Slightly more disappointed, but anxious to consume anything edible, preferably nearby, veg-friendly, inexpensive and delicious, we ventured onward, deciding to try our luck down the road at Sunflower Restaurant, another of Elizabeth's Frisco favorites. And what luck we found! A packed (and more importantly, open) dining room on a Monday night can only mean one thing: good food. The large selection of V (Vietnamese, vegetarian, and vegan) options made it oh so difficult to make a decision. Our jovial waiter—apparently the only one on staff—remembered our orders along with those of every other table in place. Impressive! Elizabeth requested the veg noodle soup and I opted for the veg vermicelli; we were both pleased with our choices and the enormous white bowls in which they were delivered. A rainbow of fresh, locally purchased, steamed veggies piled high upon a bed of made-to-order pasta was as tasty as it was beautiful. We left the place having confirmed one profound theory: Food Matters.

Stacy smiles over her hard-earned noodles

Although the evening didn't go precisely, or for that matter, remotely, as predicted, I did come away from the evening boasting first sightings of two noteworthy food icons: Mark and Ike. Reading and tasting will just have to wait for a future date.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Holiday for Hanging

Who: VN Senior Editor Elizabeth Castoria
What: An auspicious art opening
Where: M. Coffee, Half Moon Bay, Calif.
When: January 8, 2009
Why: Art for heart's sake

The Scoop: Sometimes, you just happen to be related to someone who has what people like to call "talent." When this person happens to be your sister, and she happens to have an art opening at your hometown coffee shop where you happen to have spent innumerable weekends together—her working, you taking advantage of her incredible soymilk-frothing abilities—it's pretty imperative that you attend. Oh, and you know that since the artist of the evening shares the same mother you do, there will be no shortage of delicious vegan food.

The evening got going around 6pm, after-hours at M. Coffee, where Sheila—aka the artist—used to work. As predicted, the first thing I saw when I walked in the door was a huge table of food, and then my super-effing-cute sister, flocked with admirers. Since one of Sheila's all-time favorite foods is olive spread, my mom whipped up about eight gallons of it, which I eagerly tucked into with sliced bell peppers and La Panzanella Rosemary crackers. Also on the menu were a couple ginormous trays of roasted vegetables, my mom's signature carrot cake—a traditionally vegan cake recipe, and with a little non-dairy cream cheese, voilá, cream-cheese-frosted carrot cake—and a few bottles of wine.

Sheila's art was mostly compiled from class assignments, and there was a distinct heart theme going on. In addition to red being her favorite color—hence the crimson mounting—she herself has a finnicky ticker that likes to act up on her every once in a while. One day, it started racing a bit and put her out of commission for the afternoon, so the next day she did what any reasonable artist would do: create something awesome. See above for the results.

A few of the pieces sold, all of the wine was drunk, and about an eighth of the food was eaten. It was a well-deserved evening of fun for one super-fantastic sister. Oh, and did I mention that she's just about the cutest thing on the entire planet? Yeah, she is. See below for proof. As art openings go, I think it's safe to say in the words of Rilo Kiley (the band that reigned as Sheila's go-to music on hectic Saturday mornings of latte-making), it's a hit.

Portrait of the artist (left) and her sister

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Best of Macworld (pt. 2)

Who: VN Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Joseph Connelly
What: 2009 Macworld Conference & Expo
Where: Moscone Center, San Francisco
When: January 7 + 8, 2009
Why: For the swag

The Scoop: If you missed yesterday’s installment of my two-day adventure to Macworld 2009, where I devour the veg options and meet the students from the Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press, just click here to get up to speed.

Today we focus on the fun new programs, accessories, and gadgets that I dutifully uncovered for all you Mac addicts and fanatics while I loyally wandered the halls of Moscone North and South for two days last week. There were many, so let’s dive right in.


At least two companies are making “removable skins”—of the purely synthetic, non-animal variety, of course—that allow you to customize your iPhone, iPod, and even your laptop, while protecting your device from scratches and UV rays. Seriously. MusicSkins offers a variety of decals featuring music and pop-culture artists, though when I asked if they had The Ramones or Black Sabbath—the favorite bands of VN Technical Advisor Thomas “Mr. T” Russell—the sales guy replied, “No, but we have the Sex Pistols.” God Save The Queen. Meanwhile, GelaSkins offers prints of a more artistic nature, including a panda wearing a headset and the anatomy of a gummy bear. I kid you not.

Speaking of headsets, earphones were the Expo's “it” items, with so many vendors hawking so many styles that I can’t begin to document them all. Suffice it to say that if you are interested, you can find earphones for just about any purpose imaginable (and probably a few unimaginable).

Always on the lookout for green products, I was quite pleased to find several, including Solio, a plug-in hybrid solar charger. This universal device replaces all your chargers (iPhone, iPod, camera, GPS, etc.), harvests its energy from the sun, and can hold a charge for up to a year. Sweet. I can’t wait for the wind-powered charger. Tread, another environmentally conscious company that also happens to have the coolest website I’ve seen in a long time (next to, of course), makes protective cases for your laptop, cell phone, camera, or music player out of recycled butyl rubber … prophylactics for your electronics, so they won’t spread any viruses, I assume. Check them out; this company is worth your support. My third low-impact find was Brenthaven, a Washington-based manufacturer of stylin', high-end laptop bags with a “zero impact” mission and lifetime guarantee. The company promises to offset all purchases with carbon credits, and is introducing a line of bags made of partially recycled materials. 

Brenthaven: Low-impact lap top and messenger bags


Runners, cyclists, and fitness junkies will love iMapMy, a downloadable application that uses GPS technology to track daily training data on iPhones, rendering obsolete ol’ fashioned watches or pesky GPSs. If you jog or pedal wearing an iPod, you’ll want to get hip to TuneUpMedia, which boldly states, “Your music collection is a mess. TuneUp fixes it. Automagically.” Yes, this download promised to organize and keep updated all the iTunes you have legally downloaded, including cover art. While we’re getting organized, two vendors offer apps for your digital photos. HoudahGeo, for those with an abundance of time, can “pin” photos to the location they were taken, and “geotag” them to Google Earth. Dick Cheney approved, too. MyPictureTown is Nikon’s safe, secure photo storage and sharing website, so you don’t have to store all your snapshots on your own computer. It also offers a Mapview function, similar to Houdah. And my fave foto find was Eye-Fi, the world’s first wireless memory card, which automatically uploads your pics sans cables or those pesky devices some of us still use. Life is good.


I’m not sure I fully understand the Pulse smartpen. It’s a pen that also records audio and can speak what you have written back to you, is headset-adaptable, has a built-in LED display, a speaker, and connects via USB to your computer. Oh, it has a camera, too. Did somebody say Bond? James Bond. On the practical side, the IntelliScanner mini is a tiny gadget that helps you organize everything in your home using barcode technology. Also works great for collectibles, such as wine or books, and is an asset in case of theft or disaster. The software even includes printable insurance reports.

There was much more, including the SwingSeat SwingChair office chair, the varous NadaChair brand non-chairs, and Tutto, the healthy four-wheel-drive luggage, all designed for people with bad backs. But I’m already over word count, so I’ll leave with the following. The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is a non-profit outreach program that gives kids a chance to express themselves through music and video. See what they do at

And last, PositScience develops brain fitness programs that allow you to think quicker, remember more (I think), and … what's that word I looking for? Focus. Yeah, that's it. I took their “brain quickness” test, and rather than embarrass you with my results, I’ll just leave you with this photo. ‘Nuff said.

Portrait of the blogger after acing the brain quiz

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jobs' Tears (Macworld pt. 1)

Who: VN Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Joseph Connelly
What: 2009 Macworld Conference & Expo
Where: Moscone Center, San Francisco
When: January 7 + 8, 2009
Why: To find Steve Jobs some protein

Macworld 2009 takes over Moscone Center in San Francisco

The Scoop: Macworld hit San Francisco again last week, making news more for what it wasn’t than what it was. First, Apple co-founder, CEO, and former veg Steve Jobs was in the headlines for not delivering his usual info-geek/rock-star keynote address. The official word was that there were no huge new-product announcements from Apple, and Jobs only gets rolled out for the "big" events. News stories such as this one—which broke as the conference convened—suggest another explanation for Jobs' conspicuous absence, reporting that his drastic weight loss had been a “mystery even to him” and that it was only recently discovered that a hormone imbalance had been “robbing” his body of proteins. Right.

The second piece of non-news—that Apple is pulling out of Macworld and that this would be the company’s last appearance—didn’t put much of a damper on the die-hards, though it did seem to keep non-believers away. I visited the Expo twice in two days, and the crowds, like Jobs, seemed thinner than in past years. Certainly not 40,000 enthusiasts, as advertised.

Still, Macworld is a tour de force, a place where there is certainly something for everyone. My assignment was twofold: Scope out the veg scene, and find eco-friendly accoutrements that might be of interest to VegNews readers. I scored big on both fronts, and also met a great bunch of kids in the process. Today I’ll recapture my food experience; tomorrow I’ll fill you in on all of the hip-and-cool “must have” products I stumbled upon.

Apple-a-Day 1

I picked up my creds and headed to the press lounge, where, instantaneously, the first half of my mission bore fruit. Literally. Two large buffet tables offered loads of cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, and grapes, plus bagels, coffee, tea, and juice, courtesy of Fuze, a company that offers “visual, high-definition meetings on your iPhone.” There were some cheese Danishes, butter, cream cheese, etc., but no meat at all. Nice. I enjoyed two ample portions of fresh fruit, and buried a bagel for later.

While breakfasting, I noticed a large contingent of young people at the next table. Yes, the Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press crew was also covering Macworld. These little whippersnappers are a sophisticated bunch who are already pros at social and professional networking, as evidenced by a follow-up email I received less than two hours after our first meeting:

“Hi! I'm Mary from the SBMS Teen Press. I talked to you earlier and found out about VegNews. I just wanted to say that I think it's really great that you have a magazine that focuses on vegetarianism. Anyways, just thanking you guys!”

The student journalists of the Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press Corps

My future employers and I exchanged business cards, and wouldn’t you know it? Mary and her colleague, Charlie, are both veg. (follow the above link to see a video of Charlie interviewing Apple co-founder Steve "Woz" Wozniak.)

After my first three-hour venture into the Macworld Expo, which filled every inch of Moscone Center (named for former SF mayor George Moscone, who was assassinated along with Harvey Milk, the subject of this critically acclaimed new film you may have heard about), I used my $15 lunch voucher to pick up some vital vittles from one of the numerous food vendors peddling their edibles in the convention center. While there was plenty of flesh at this juncture, finding veg offerings was a snap. I scored an ample bowl of hearty and flavorful minestrone soup, used the bagel I had stashed from breakfast to sop it up, and complemented both with a nice-and-fresh quinoa salad (zucchini, squash, black olives, mushrooms, a single cherry tomato, parsley). Vegan dessert offerings included more fresh fruit (bananas, apples, pears); since they didn’t give change, I took three bananas, which I gave away to a few housing-challenged folks on my way back to the subway.

Apple-a-Day 2

I returned to Macworld the following afternoon after a VegNews staff lunch featuring special guest Billy Hulting, the Grammy-nominated percussionist in the band Zappa Plays Zappa. Using my Day 2 voucher, I scoped out a different vendor where I procured a pre-made veggie sandwich, fruit cup (cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, grapes), bagel, and banana. I also nailed the $15 exact this time, leaving no change behind.

All said, eating veg at Moscone proved quite easy—surely a sign of progress. Yes, this is San Francisco, but most of the attendees of Macworld come from afar, and while I didn’t survey what everyone was eating, the abundance of (mostly) healthy, (mostly) fresh vegan options made this conference one Apple you could sink your teeth into.