Monday, August 31, 2009
What: Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival
Where: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, Calif.
When: August 28–30, 2009
Why: Think Woodstock. Without the mud or nudity.
The Scoop: The East Coast might have its All Points West Music & Arts Festival, but, you know, it’s in New Jersey. Year Two of San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, which I’m trade marking as All Points East™, might be 3,000 miles from the birthplace of the three-day, any-kind-of-band-goes fest. That’s OK. Since it is held in August—the same month Woodstock took place—and within shouting distance of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, I think it only fair that we take back what rightfully should have been the City by the Bay’s all along. Forget Coachella, Bonnaroo, or any of those other posers. San Francisco now owns the multi-stage mega-concert. There’s no competition.
Where else can you enjoy a beautiful, outdoor, mild-weathered, perfectly organized production all within a major city’s limits? No desert storms, no off-the-beaten path drives, plenty of toilets, great food, social consciousness, seven stages, and no need to camp. Leave the park at night, come back the next day. And why not, as many of the bands play after-hours “night shows” at local venues?
The three day line-up had something for everyone, in no particular alphabetical order: Band of Horses, Black Eyed Peas, Incubus, M.I.A., Dave Matthews Band, The Mars Volta, Mastodon, Modest Mouse, Jason Mraz, Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band, Pearl Jam, Q-Tip, Silversun Pickups, TV on the Radio, Tenacious D, Ween, Lucinda Williams, even Tom Jones—yes, that Tom Jones, who rocked the house lawn like nobody’s business. At nearly 70, Tom not only still has it, he could teach a few of the younger kids a move or two. And thankfully, bless the gods, Tom’s pants aren’t as tight.
We attended all three days of the festival, watched a combined 16 shows, got plenty of exercise and Vitamin D, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves to the point that we couldn’t believe this was “work.” Our dual mission: scope out the veg-friendly artists, which included Jason Mraz and Conor Oberst, and spy on the eco-efforts of the exhibits, to make sure they were as billed. “Whether it was Jack Black making love to the crowd, or the groovy beats of Jason Mraz, there was something for everyone at the Festival,” including free Heineken in the press tent, says a happy Lyndsay Orwig, VN’s office manager. “I was pleased to see many of my favorite bands, who played both old and new songs, and kept a smile on my face the entire weekend. I am hooked, and will be going back next year.”
Mraz and Oberst gave impassioned performances, while Lydia’s Organics, our friends from Sambazon, and Whole Foods Market were among the food vendors that catered to those on the lower end of the food chain. While there was plenty of dead stuff being sold, veg options were available— we could even get kombucha on tap.
Garden for the Environment, and the TRASHed Recycling Store. Life is good.
Now, if I could only get Tom Jones’ “Sex Bomb” out of my head...
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
What: Mad Hatter Vegan Tea Party
When: Sunday, August 23, 2009
Where: Secret Tea Garden House, San Francisco
Why: Fun Fund-raiser for SFVS’ World Veg Festival Weekend
Maybe 40 or so guests squeezed into the adorable teeny-tiny Garden Room of the Secret Garden Tea House, mostly women, and almost all of them sporting fancy hats, stylish hats, silly hats—even a deep purple Dr. Seuss-style Cat-in-the-Hat hat (well, the cat wasn’t there. It must have been his human’s day to wear it).
The festive afternoon included a special menu prepared by Secret Garden with tea and vegan delights, such as scrumptious sandwiches (marinated cuke with dill; pesto and tomatoes; banana and walnut), salient savories (rice roll with basil; mini chili-lime corn-stuffed red and green peppers; curry-quinoa filled baby pitas), and smack-lipping sweets (sour-cherry-pear tart; vegan cranberry and blueberry scones; and choc-chip and sugar cookies donated by Violet Sweet Shoppe. More on them in a bit). The fare was as delicious as it sounds, which quite pleased me, since I'd just come from a social engagement where the only vegan items were the fruit salad and dry diner rolls. Thankfully, I held off until the tea party.
Dixie Mahy, the Grande Dame of the San Francisco veg scene, recruited me to judge the Mad Hatter contest. I quickly convinced Millennium Restaurant owner Larry Wheat to be my sidekick, and Larry found the lone woman in the audience sans head-wear as the third judge, “to break the tie.” This was serious stuff. Our assignment was to pick the Most Unusual Hat, the Funniest Hat, and the Prettiest Hat. Nancy Loewen, SFVS’ vice president and a former VegNews intern (no judging bias here) was awarded the Prettiest for this over-the-top topper:
Next up was the silent auction (this was a fun(d)-raiser, recall). Shoehorned into one corner were about 20 items up for the bidding, including a two-night visit to Mendocino’s The Stanford Inn; gift certificates to such favorite restaurants as Candle 79, Herbivore, and Millennium; and an Almond Milk Chocolate Cake from San Francisco’s own Violet Sweet Shoppe. I’m happy to report that yours truly was the high bidder of this last item—surprise, surprise—which we will enjoy at today’s staff lunch. You can taste the cake along with us at our award-winning blog Café VegNews.
Festive festival foodie fundraising. Is there a better way to spend a Sunday summer afternoon?
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
What: A day in Berkeley
When: Sunday, August 9, 2009
Where: Berkeley, Calif.
Why: To chow across the Bay
This weekend, we braved the belly of the BART beast for a shot at the best brunch in the Bay Area. But when we arrived at Fellini in Berkeley, not one glass was full of freshly squeezed OJ, nor was any vegan paralyzed in a wide-eyed stare at a menu, attempting to process the incredible amount of animal-free brunch options. The restaurant was, unfortunately, as empty as our stomachs and as closed as our minds were to rational thinking at that point—we were hungry, outraged, and ready to claw open the front door. But mark my word, we’ll be back when Fellini reopens on August 21. After gathering what wits we had left, we headed to Herbivore in downtown Berkeley to sample their brunch offerings: some southwestern scrambled tofu, a side of espresso shake, and a mighty green pesto tofu scramble.
Lyndsay enjoys the awesome espresso shake.
It was just the right amount of tastiness to satisfy our cravings for a good brunch and fuel our Berkeley wanderlust. We made our way down Shattuck and lost an hour to thrift-shopping mecca, aka Crossroads Trading Co., before geeking it up at Comic Relief and Other Change of Hobbit, a science fiction and fantasy bookstore where cats roam free. Feisty felines greeted us as we browsed the aisles, then they retreated to paw at strings and used copies of Philip K. Dick novels.
After securing some ample sun damage from walking store to store in the heat, it was time to find comfort in gelato, and tons of it. Cookies ‘n’ cream and pistachio soy-based gelato, that is, at Gelateria Naia. Yum. We just had to forgo the bounty of fruit-based frozen treats—plum, pineapple, and banana, just to name a few—for this variation of the classic peanut butter and chocolate combo.
With stuffed tummies as well as backpacks and bags, we headed back to San Fran looking like two bag ladies with all of the day’s purchases. And even though the credit card bills are getting ridiculous, watch out Fellini, because it is so on at the end of the month.
Monday, August 10, 2009
What: An evening of good eats and great tunes.
Where: Ike's Place and The Mint, San Francisco, Calif.
When: Thursday, August 6, 2009
Why: To eat well and let loose.
Though I’ve only been working at VegNews for a bit over two months, there are many things I’ve learned so far. Yes, we love our Parma!, communal lunches, brainstorming issues months in advance, and working hard to make the magazine we all love so dearly. But more than anything, VegNews loves balance. Just when you think you’re going to drop from exhaustion, a day of pure delight and fun rescues you.
Thursday we were all busily working on our countless projects when a lunch guest arrived bearing gifts. Might I mention she arrived with the best kind of gift, especially around this office: an edible one. Tessa Strauss, of the divine blog, Cookies and Candids, and her friend Julie joined the crew for lunch and supplied the most exquisite dessert I’ve had in months. Perhaps years. After staring at the cupcakes throughout lunch, we finally dove in to these beauties:
What you see here are decadently delicious cupcakes. In the forefront are White-Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes filled with white-chocolate ganache and topped with gold sprinkles, in the middle are Rich Chocolate Almond Cupcakes with a marzipan layer, and behind is the genius baker. I kept shaking my head in disbelief as I bit into these perfectly moist, fluffy, just-sweet-enough delights. How could these be so phenomenal?
As if our afternoon sugary feast hadn’t been enough, the VN crew decided to end the day with a well loved tradition. Somehow, one of the VegNewsies came up with the idea to combine Ike’s sandwiches and karaoke into one night of both pure scrumptiousness and hilarity.
We made the pilgrimage to Ike’s Place after work, where Charlotte and I split a sandwich. (A side note: you will be made fun of for not eating a whole sandwich by yourself when dining with the VN crew.) The perfection of this sandwich helped me ignore the haters. Take a look at the gorgeous vegan “We’re Just Friends” (can’t tell you how many times I’ve uttered that line).
Happily full, we trekked the few blocks to The Mint. Some sang, some danced, some (aka Laura Beck) performed "The Thong Song" with incredible aplomb, and we all enjoyed a much needed night out.