Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chicago Green Festival

Who: Editorial Assistant Liz Miller and Associate Editor Abigail Young
Where: Navy Pier, Chicago, Ill.
When: May 22–23, 2010
Why: Going green is just more fun in a city chockfull of vegan food.

The Scoop: With its year-round moderate temperatures, it's not hard to get comfortable living in San Francisco—even if the current season is perennially unclear. Is it autumn? Is it winter? Honestly, when it's 70 degrees and sunny two weeks before Christmas, we're not asking questions. Occasionally though, two Missouri girls just need a weekend in the Midwest to revel in classic summer weather: hot, hot, heat and some serious humidity. That was the forecast for our Windy City weekend spent working at the Chicago Green Festival, and boy were we excited.

The Windy City's skyline from Navy Pier

We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, and after downing some hotel-brewed coffee, made for the festival, held at Chicago's tourist destination du jour, Navy Pier. Our friend Sarah had happily volunteered to drive up from St. Louis to help work the booth with us on Saturday, and her help made the whole day that much more fun. We always love meeting subscribers and extended VN family members at shows, and finally getting to meet our superstar contributor Marla Rose and our March+April cover girl Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart of Vaute Couture was an extra-special treat. Additionally, Abby was thrilled—if not a little overwhelmed—to meet several, very lovely Savvy Abby fans. We were definitely feeling, and appreciating, all the Windy City love.

Sarah and Abby workin' it

After several long hours of making new friends, connecting with readers, handing out copies of our May+June issue, and selling VN subscriptions, we three ladies were ready for a little thing we like to call lunch. With a selection of the best vegan restaurants to choose from, we found ourselves in a sort of plant-based paradise: What to do? Abby and Sarah opted for the hearty, spicy Buddha Burger from The Chicago Diner, while I chose the savory, rich Mac 'n' Cheese and Corn Bread from Soul Vegetarian. Fully satisfied and left with lingering food comas, the consensus was that Chicago might know a thing or two about serving up excellent vegan comfort food.

Corn bread and mac 'n' cheese from Soul Vegetarian

After wrapping up the show on Saturday, Sarah, Abby, and I went back to our hotel to change out of our VN attire and met up with Abby's super fun friend Nick to head north for an evening of the finest cruelty-free cocktails and margaritas that Boystown has to offer. On Sunday, we awoke early to the hottest day Chicago has experienced since last summer—and no, we weren't upset about it. Clad in capped-sleeved tees and our favorite sunglasses, we trekked over to Navy Pier for more great Green Festival festivities.

If working at shows proves one thing time and time again, it's how awesome VN subscribers are. Hearing everything from people's recipe-testing stories to how they went vegan after reading a feature about the hazards of eating meat definitely made our weekend. While it's always a relief to board a plane back home, it's nice to know there's such great people waiting for you the next time you're in town.

Millennium's Southern Comfort Dinner

Who: The Entire Toothless VN Posse
What: Annual staff trek to Millennium RestaurantWhere: San Francisco, Calif.When: May 26, 2010Why: Southern-fried, artery-clogging extravagance. And Beer.
The Scoop: Not sure zackly how long we-all ben goin' to this-here Millennium Restaurant for its annual Southern Comfort Dinner, "an evening of embarrassingly unsophisticated family favorites," but we never miss th' family reunion or chance to stuff ourselves comatose with the down-right tastiest, anti-McDougall menu this side o' Tupelo.

Fer starters we had this ol' bucket of the finest suds money kin buy, seen here wetting the whistles of Miss Lyndsay and Miss Abby.

Olympia, Hamm's, and MHL. Only the best!

Dat's Miss Lyndsay and Miss Abby

Next was a trio of breads plus backyard-raised chicken wing "appeteasers," which left yo' mouth hotter than a half-bred fox in a forest fire.

Cornbread, Cheddar & Green Chili Bread, and Parker Houses Rolls with Pimento "Spam" Butter

Danielle's chicken wings, spinach non-skinny dip and chips

Not sure why we had such a healthy course, maybe health 'surence cause o' dat new law the Prez'dent passed. Check out dat feda cheese!

Fun's Over for the Greek Salad with gov'ment feta "cheese!"

There was a quartet of entrees, which is like four I think, and I'm glad you asked yes we had to try all o' 'em. Loosen yo' belt!

Chef Hot Carl's Roast, straight from the carving station

Dunbar's Missed Bris Minnesota Meatball Sub

Li'l Brother Nic's Crispy Tacos

The M. Crew topped off this bypass brouhaha with a sticky sundae bar jammed with more fixins' than allowed by law. We all managed to squeeze in the "sweat treat with no meats" before crashing and burning. Asked by Grand Ol' Chef Eric Tucker with satisfactory glee, "You feeling comatose?" "Yes." "Good."

The sundae bar included coffee bark, rice mellow creme, and oreos

Praise the Good Lord it's only once a year. See you there next May!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lyman vs. Niman Debate

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly, VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland, VN Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria, VN Office Manager Lyndsay Orwig, and VN Chef Chas Chiodo
What: A conversation between former and current cattle ranchers
Where: David Brower Center, Berkeley, Calif.
When: May 20, 2010
Why: Can you be a 'good environmentalist' and still eat meat?

The Scoop: VegNews expanded both its circle of compassion and outreach last night by co-hosting, along with the Earth Island Institute, a conversation between former cattle rancher Howard Lyman and Nicolette Hahn Niman, attorney and wife of rancher Bill Niman, founder of Niman Ranch.

Ari Derfel, Nicolette Niman, and Howard Lyman

Ari Derfel of Berkeley's Gather Restaurant moderated the debate, held at the Goldman Theatre inside Berkeley's state-of-the-art David Brower Center. The much anticipated, long sold-out event filled the auditorium plus an overflow room, where those lucky enough to get seats watched via closed-circuit TV.

Every seat in the house was filled

More than 90 minutes of facilitated discussion plus a healthy dose of audience Q&A left the equally divided audience with plenty of fodder for thought. Lyman, author of Mad Cowboy and No More Bull!, claimed that the greenhouse gases nitrous oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide, inherent in meat production—whether free-range or factory farmed—are destroying the environment and threatening the planet's health. Niman, author of Righteous Porkchop and herself vegetarian, argued that 85 percent of the land used in the US for grazing livestock is unsuitable for growing crops. Both agreed that factory farms, or CAFOs, should be eliminated.

Derfel closed the evening, the first in a series of monthly Thursday night discussions being organized by Earth Island, with what he called a classic Berkeley moment: Where else could you find a former cattle rancher turned vegan activist debate a vegetarian rancher? Probably nowhere, making this educational evening all the better.

Earth Island's Kevin Connelly, Niman, Colleen Holland, Joseph Connelly, and Lyman

Monday, May 17, 2010

Whirlwind WorldFest Weekend

Who: VN Office Manager Lyndsay Orwig and former VN Editorial Assistant Charlotte Gordon
What: The WorldFest 2010 Earth Day Festival
Where: Woodley Park, Lake Balboa, Calif.
When: May 16, 2010
Why: To have fun, gorge on good food, and rock out to good tunes while representing the best magazine ever!

The Scoop: If you were in Southern California this past weekend, hopefully you didn't miss out on WorldFest—LA's largest Earth Day festival, filled with amazing food, great music, and tons of cute animals (even ponies)! This was my second time at this wonderful event, though my first as a VN representative, and it was very heartwarming to see the enthusiasm shown by so many for VegNews. The
super-positive vibe at the event was totally contagious!

Livin' it up behind the VegNews booth

So much happiness makes a person hungry, and so the eating began first thing in the AM and did not cease until we packed up and left. Breakfast consisted of MaggieMudd ice cream. Yes, I know I live in San Francisco where MaggieMudd is based, but to be honest, I don't frequent this fabulous ice cream shop for personal reasons. Let's just say I have the inability to show self-control when a huge ice cream sundae is staring me in the face, so I hold out on MaggieMudd for special occasions, and this event was one of those.

Mmmm, MaggieMudd

With our sweet tooths satisfied, Charlotte and I moved onto savory, and found quite the gem. We both discovered the delicacy that is Jackfruit last year at the AR 2009 Conference where Samosa House catered a wonderful Jackfruit entrée that totally blew us away. But I digress. We were tipped off about a delicious vendor called Bodhi Tree Vegetarian Café that was selling Jackfruit salads and coconuts filled with refreshing coconut water. We were sold! Take my advice, if you haven't tried Jackfruit, go find some now.

Jackfruit salad delicious coconut water

It was turning into a gorgeous day, music started to play, and the people started to pour in, and boy were they excited to be there. So much excitement can really bring on a sweet tooth—again! Luckily, we were approached by Jon Hull of Luscious Organic Desserts who generously shared some sweet treats with us. Four words: cookie dough bon bons. They were cookie dough balls covered in chocolate—both dark and white. We almost died. Plus, they gave us Peanut Butter Crunch Bars (very similar to Whatchamacallits), and two cupcakes. Yes, we were very spoiled—not to mention stuffed.

The amazing cupcakes of Luscious Organic Desserts

Good conversation, yummy eats, catchy tunes, and cute animal sightings made for one wonderful day at WorldFest, which made me sad that I missed last year's event. If you missed it this year, be sure to mark your calendars for next year! It's sure to put a smile on your face.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Madeleine Bistro + Cruzer's VegNews Pizza

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly and VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland
What: Finals stops on the spring tourWhere: Tarzana, Hollywood, and Los Feliz, Calif.When: May 8, 2010Why: Three vegan restaurants in half-a-day: Why not?
The Scoop: One (half) day left in LA, two Maggie Awards last night... how should we celebrate? Three restaurant visits, of course!

We treated ourselves to brunch at Madeleine Bistro, our longtime fave Los Angeles restaurant. You must start with an order of beignets (the French can even make "doughnut" sound good). Check these out:

The Doughnuts, er, um, "Beignets," at Madeleine Bistro

For our main courses I had the apple-filled fruit crepes while Colleen ordered bananas foster waffles. Madeleine's food is so innovative, it can't be said often enough how much a vegan genius Chef Dave Anderson is.

Is it bananas foster? Waffles? It's magic!

Post-brunch it's onto Hollywood to check in on LifeFood Organic, a restaurant I first blogged about two months ago in my LA Whoa! Man post. Nestled between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, LifeFood serves up raw and living cuisine, mostly pre-packaged, for those on the go (or sitting in the car trying go—no, wait, that didn't sound right). Scrumptious salads, savory sandwiches, and delectable desserts make up the menu, all at reasonable prices. Give this place a try.

LifeFood Organic has it all

Final stop: Cruzer Pizza & Pasta, to taste-test the forthcoming VegNews Pizza. What's a VegNews Pizza? Glad you asked. How about perfect-o pesto topped with white Daiya cheese, artichoke hearts, way-too-much garlic, sliced tomatoes, and leaves of basil? Here's Colleen and our Cruzer connection, Michelle Sass, showing off the final protect:

We even managed to smuggle home a whole pie for the staff to try on Monday, when it tasted just as good. Read about it on Café VegNews. We'll let you know via Facebook and Twitter when our pizza actually hits the menu. And that closes the VegNews Spring 2010 tour. Thank you and good night.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Seed, Spork Sisters, and the 59th Annual Maggie Awards

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly and VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland
What: One fine day in LA
Where: Venice, West Hollywood, and Los Angeles, Calif.
When: May 7, 2010
Why: The trophies were waiting

The Scoop: Colleen and I have been on the road pretty much non-stop since early February—publishing duties keep us busy, y'know. Why not jam as much into this 48-hour SoCal trip as possible?

Thursday night was Forks Over Knives; today began with chopsticks at Venice's stylish Seed Restaurant. The baby of Love, Eric author Eric Lechasseur and his wife Sanae Suzuki, this quaint and cozy restaurant not far from Muscle Beach serves such a dazzling selection of fresh macrobiotic fare that one visit won't do it justice. We'll be back. Thanks, Eric!

Seed's Saisai Donburi Macro Bowl

Just around the corner from Seed is Eko Zone, a spacious, well-lit vegan shop run by the lovely threesome of Dana Riley, Bill, and the one who does the real work, the photogenic Kosmo. If you ever need to pick up a copy of VegNews, they sell it here!

Eko Zone's Dana, Bill, and the white-and-fluffy Kosmo

Since I had just seen Chef Tanya Petrovna at the Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down six days ago, we stopped at the Westwood location of her Native Foods to see if she was around. She wasn't, so we settled for a non-macro Boogie Bar.

Native Food's cookbook and Boogie Bar

A last-minute invite by the dynamic duo that is the Goldberg sisters, had us "rushing" from Venice to West Hollywood through legendary LA traffic. Heather and Jenny, the insanely adorable owners of Spork Foods have opened a fashionable loft studio where they teach cooking classes, film their VegNews TV segments, and actually spin vinyl! I was in heaven. Heather and Jenny are raising veganism to a new level, which is a good thing, don't you think?

The chic, hip Spork Foods loft

Heather and Jenny Goldberg

Next up was a pit stop at "Sunset Grill," aka the West Hollywood Veggie Grill on Sunset Boulevard (Colleen's first visit). We bumped into a young man cautiously eyeing the menu; sensing apprehension, VegNews offered to buy him his very first veggie burger (the Santa Fe Crispy Chickin', for those who appreciate detail). Wouldn't you know that our new friend, Tamon George, is actually a professional football player (defensive back) for the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders and was the number nine overall pick in the 2009 CFL draft? Later, his lovely Persia White-look-alike girlfriend Sarah Fontenot joined us. Of course, she's beautiful and a budding silver screen actress. If this story isn't sappy enough, the handsome couple met when they were five years old! Another order of Sweetheart Fries, please.

All the way from Saskatchewan: Tamon George and Sarah Fontenot

A quick change into evening wear and we were off to the big show: The 59th annual Maggie Awards, the "Oscars of the Magazine Industry." VegNews picked up two (including Best Lifestyle Magazine for the third year in a row), and had the pleasure of sitting with Madeleine Buckingham, publisher of fellow San Francisco magazine Mother Jones. Madeleine and MJ were the evening's big winners, taking home four Maggies, which translates into bragging rights for our table, as seen here:

Mother Jones' Claudia Smukler and Madeleine Buckingham with VegNews' Joe and Colleen

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Forks Over Knives" Private Screening

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly and VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland
What: Private Screening of Forks Over Knives
Where: Santa Monica, Calif.
When: May 6, 2010
Why: View an advanced-screening of upcoming diet doc

The Scoop: This fall, look for the excellent documentary Forks Over Knives, a feature-length film centered around the work and careers of Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn, two giants in their respective fields of nutrition and medicine. Colleen and I attended a special VegNews screening hosted by the film's creator, Brian Wendel, who envisioned the film as "the most effective way of bringing this message to a broad audience" after reading Dr. Campbell's seminal book The China Study two years ago.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn with Director Lee Fulkerson

We had the opportunity to screen the movie with writer/director Lee Fulkerson—who turned vegan while making the film and has since lost 60 pounds—as well as Dr. Matthew Lederman, co-author of Keep it Simple, Keep it Whole and one of the many MDs featured in FOK. The (currently) 96-minute movie—filmed in the US, Canada, and China—spells out, sometimes in fairly graphic detail, the myriad health problems with the Standard America Diet. Through interviews with a dozen leading health and nutritional professionals, from Neal Barnard to Pam Popper; award-winning caliber writing and narration from Fulkerson; plus a sprinkling of Grade-A graphics and historical footage, the message that the SAD is destroying our individual—and increasingly, global—health is delivered quite convincingly.

Forks Over Knives explains human motivation

FOK also follows several people, including Fulkerson, who willingly subject themselves to Lederman's plant-based, whole-food regimen (and all whom achieve wonderful results, of course) and also checks in with various Cleveland Clinic patients of Dr. Esselstyn's who reversed their advanced heart disease without surgery after being left for dead by the traditional medical community.

What open heart surgery looks like

When approached by the veg-curious for an explanation of your lifestyle change, first determine their motivation. If it's ethics or animals, suggest they watch Earthlings. If being green is their raison d'etre, they can rent Food, Inc. Come this fall, those who have decided that the SAD is making them, well, sad, will no longer have an excuse: just get 'em to watch Forks Over Knives. The triad is complete.

To watch the trailer for Forks Over Knives, click here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wined & Dined at Millennium

Who: VN Office Manager Lyndsay Orwig and Editorial Assistant Liz Miller
What: Dinner hosted by Yellow+Blue Wines at the amazing Millennium Restaurant
Where: San Francisco, Calif.
When: Thursday, May 6, 2010
Why: Because who passes up a delicious meal and wine tasting at Millennium? Not us!

The Scoop: It was late afternoon last Wednesday, and staring at me from my inbox was an invitation from Yellow+Blue Wines to a complimentary dinner at the vegan mecca that is Millennium to taste their newly launched wines, which are certified organic. My taste buds quickly fired up, and I responded with a very enthusiastic "Yes!"

One of the four wines we tasted

The next day, Liz and I excitedly boarded the Muni to downtown San Francisco with every intention to meet new people, taste good vino, and stuff ourselves silly, and we succeeded on all fronts. The hosts were Yellow+Blue (makes green, get it?) founder, Matt Cain, and its PR representative, Julie Conover. While discussing such topics as the wine industry, the environment, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (don't ask), we were served a four-course dinner along with wine pairings, including the Chickpea and Almond Encrusted Oyster Mushrooms paired with the fruity 2009 Torrontes wine, a Mushroom Duxelle Roulade with the 2008 Malbec, and a carrot cake dessert with the 2009 Rosé. Perfection, if you ask me.

The ridiculously good roulande

With are taste buds completely satisfied, Liz and I made our way home. Needless to say, it was a lovely evening.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Loving Hut and Lovely Frapps

Who: VN Associate Editor Abigail Young and Editorial Assistant Liz Miller
What: Snack breaks at Loving Hut and Starbucks
Where: Downtown San Francisco, Calif.
When: Sunday, May 2, 2010
Why: Because we'll take any excuse—especially brand-new vegan offerings—to spend the day downtown.

The Scoop: Living out by the beach has its perks, but the distance from bustling downtown SF can be quite the deterrent on the weekends when all I want to do is sleep in and lay around on said beach (weather permitting). Luckily, last weekend provided two viable excuses to motivate, and not surprisingly, both were of the edible variety.

Liz and I set out with Loving Hut in mind, whose new location in the Westfield mall's fancy food court promised a bit of shopping, too. Loving Hut has more than 100 locations worldwide, proving the all-vegan chain is doing something right. Even better, the new location has prime food-court real estate, smack-dab in the middle of this mall-food mecca, with its cute, glowing "vegan cuisine"sign and friendly staff inviting everyone to give some egg-free fried rice a try.

Loving Hut's newest location

We each decided on the buffet special, which included two entrée items and a side of rice. The best part? It wasn't just steamed rice like the typical mall chain—diners have a choice of steamed, brown, or fried. We rolled with fried, naturally, and picked out two unlabeled—but completely delicious—items. I stuck with a simple choice of steamed, seasoned veggies and a crispy tofu dish. The servings were huge, making it impossible for me to try two other offerings that caught my eye in the display case: cha siu bao and some major cake business.

Vegan fried rice, steamed veggies, and crispy tofu

It was a good thing we ignored our initial sweet-tooth craving, because it wasn't long before we stumbled into a Starbucks. Have you tried the newly reformulated, vegan-friendly Frappuccinos? Because they might change your life. We both went for a soy mocha frapp, and pretty much couldn't stop talking about how delicious they were until we had annihilated them. A chocolate shake with caffeine? That's all I need in life.

The almighty soy mocha Frappuccino

Oh, there was some shopping and other stuff in there, too, but all I can think about is fried rice and frapps. Is it the weekend yet?

Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: Farm Sanctuary Country Hoe Down
Where: Orland, Calif.
When: May 1, 2010
Why: A visit to a farmed animal shelter is wonderful for the spirit

The Scoop: Two weeks in New York weren't enough, nor a full five days back in the office. It's just a two-and-a-half hour drive on a traffic-free Saturday morning from VN's San Francisco home base... why not head up to Orland for the day?

Farm Sanctuary's annual Country Hoe Down combines elements of party and conference into an informal, relaxing day-and-a-half event where one might commune with a cow, pitch a tent with fellow campers, sit in on a cooking class, learn from an eclectic yet balanced mix of knowledgeable speakers, and dine in an open air "People Barn" on a gorgeous late-spring day.

I arrived just in time to catch Chef Tanya Petrovna, founder of Southern California's Native Foods vegan restaurant chain, host a cooking demo. She kept the crowd in rapt attention with tips and humor, and, of course, food samples.

"That's not a knife," says Chef Tanya. "This is a knife."

A bit of sanctuary time with the animals preceded the main program back in the P-Barn, where FS's Executive Director, Allan Kornberg, MD, MC'd for the opening acts: authors Jonathan Balcombe (Pleasurable Kingdom; Second Nature), Breeze Harper (Sistah Vegan), and Will Tuttle (The World Peace Diet). The sanctuary's president and co-founder, Gene Baur, tag-teamed with Dr. K to bring on the evening's final speakers, Chef Tanya and the man everyone was waiting for, Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone. Biz's talk, "Compassionate Communication: Using Social Media as a Force for Good," ended with "10 Quick Tips and Best Practices" for using Twitter, which this tech-meister will surely implement very soon.

Author and ethologist Jonathan Balcombe (l) with Twitter's Biz Stone.

The vegan dinner feast was catered by Allyson Bedene of Chico, Calif., and then it was back to SF to sleep in my own bed, which I haven't been doing a whole lot of lately.

Hoe Down attendee Ori Ann Li with FS's co-founder Gene Baur.

Check back for more Press Passes this week: Lyndsay and Liz's Millennium adventure, and Colleen and I head back to LA for some food (Seed; Veggie Grill; Cruzers Pizza), fun (The Spork Sisters!), and honors (The Maggie Awards).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

VegNews Eats New York (2nd course)

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly and VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland
What: Second of Two Weeks in Veg Heaven
Where: Mostly Manhattan
When: April 18–24, 2010
Why: Someone was having a birthday…

The Scoop: Colleen and I spent the middle two weeks of April telecommuting from New York City. We stayed in the penthouse apartment of the vegetarian Sanctuary Guest Suites, one project of the nonprofit Interfaith Community Services, whose many programs include feeding the homeless. Next time you are in New York, consider a stay at the SGS rather than an expensive hotel. Our East Village “pad” had a kitchen, washer/dryer, and private rooftop deck with northern views of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. No kidding.

If you missed yesterday’s posting of the highlights of week one, click here. Week two was even better. Let's get started... there are many calories to consume.

10. Lantern Books' Martin Rowe and I woke early Sunday to participate in the City Parks Foundation's four-mile run in Manhattan's Central Park (while our female counterparts slept in). Afterward, we ventured over to Martin and Mia MacDonald’s stunning Brooklyn brownstone for a brunch feast prepared by (Super)Martin, who had already kicked my butt in the race (he does have longer legs). Here are Mia and Martin in front of their home.

9. After a quick trip to Long Island, we ended the long day at Atlas Café & Bakery (73 Second Avenue) with this delectable piece of Vegan Treats Strawberry Shortcake.

8. On Monday we lunched at the launch of the world’s newest vegetarian fast-food eatery, Otarian (154 Bleeker Street), the opening of its first two locations just happening to coincide with our trip. Here is The Discerning Brute himself, Joshua Katcher, communing with his VegO burger.

7. A post-lunch visit to BabyCakes NYC (248 Broome Street) kicked off “Sweets Week.” That’s Colleen and BabyCake’s GM (and die-hard Mets fan) Emily Woesthoff with a plate of goodies outside the Lower East Side destination.

6. Another new Big Apple eatery is The Loving Hut (348 Seventh Avenue), one of 159 such restaurants around the globe run by the devotees of Supreme Master Ching Hai. We dined with VegNews contributor Jasmin Singer on this simple-yet-delicious healthy fare.

5. A pleasant post-lunch stroll around the western half of midtown brought us to face-to-face with Blossom (187 Ninth Avenue), Zen Palate (663 Ninth Avenue), and the ultra hip chocolate and wine bar Cocoa V (174 Ninth Avenue), where Margaret and Dwight played show-and-tell with some of the finest vegan chocolate you’ll ever consume.

4. Finally we had time for some R&R. These lucky ducks took in a taping of the Comedy Central fake news show The Colbert Report, thanks to a connection made through our good friend Sarma Melngailis, owner of Pure Food and Wine (54 Irving Place).

3. Yes, it’s vegan. Yes, it’s Daiya. Yes, it tastes as good as it looks. After Colbert, we met up with Bart Potenza and Joy Pierson, owners of Candle 79, for perfect pies at Pala Pizza (198 Allen Street).

2. Wednesday marked somebody’s birthday, and with it came this very special delivery from Vegan Treats. Here the fabulous b-day girl poses on our rooftop with da goods. Yes, she shared.

1. Colleen’s birthday lunch at Franchia (12 Park Avenue), the absolutely charming Korean-fusion teahouse and restaurant from the same folks who gave us Hangawi (12 East 32nd Street), turned out quite special. The food was incredible, and we enjoyed the company of VN columnist Terry Hope Romero, author of the new Latin-inspired cookbook Viva Vegan! Then I got a call from the Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez, author of The All-Pro Diet. Tony stopped by along with his coauthor, nutritionist Mitzi Dulan, and we ended the meal with a few of the Vegan Treats we’d snuck in, which were, to quote Tony, “unbelievable.” A birthday Colleen will remember, for sure.

There's actually much more from week two, but we are out of time and space. To see all of the pictures from VegNews' fortnight in NYC, visit our Facebook site and click the photos tab. Or, if we get enough demand, maybe, just maybe, we'll post a third course. Simply leave a comment if you want dessert.