Friday, May 30, 2008

I want mine with LOTS of cheese!

The realm of vegan cheese is, for the most part, a harrowing maze of waxy, bland blocks of goo that add little flavor but lots of fat to your meals.

And, let's face it - vegans who say they like most of this shit are saying it because they have to. To admit vegan cheese failure would be to admit that you really do miss your former life suckling at the pus-encrusted teats of farm animals, despite your various protestations to the contrary.

But let's review a few things:

Rice cheese = balls.
Almond cheese = balls.
Soy cheese = balls. Tastes like murder in your mouth.
Veganrella = MASSIVE balls.
Tofutti slices = Acceptable. BUT Tofutti contains partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil and saturated fat. "Big deal," I say, but some people seem to give about such nonsense. Tofutti is also the only marginally edible soy cheese slice that does NOT contain any milk-derived products.
Follow Your Heart = deee-licious when used properly. Melted, it rocks the god damn house. Dump this shit on nachos or on a pizza and you'll feel as if you've died and boarded a rainbow on an express trip to heaven. Straight out of the package - you might as well be lapping at a pile of congealed fat. Yes - that's its consistency.

Top those facts off with the knowledge that most "vegetarian" cheeses contain casein - a milk-derived protein that helps the cheese maintain a more meltable, cheese-like consistency - and you have a big pile of revolting bullshit that tastes more like a tofu-flavored candle than cheese.

I love trying new things - the weirder the better. So when my friend Dustin started burbling over the wonder, the modern miracle that is Dr-Cow Tree Nut Cheese - well, I simply HAD to find some!

Dustin is as perverted in his quest for vegan delights as I am, so his glowing recommendation screamed to me, "Drop everything you're doing right now and trundle up to ye olde comestibles kiosk and purchase a block of this shit and I mean RIGHT NOW."

So I did. two weeks ago, as a matter of fact. I purchased their soft cashew cheese. The ingredient list - raw cashews and probiotic cultures. That is IT. One, two. No casein, no food coloring, no bullshit. And it is raw.

I grabbed that container and rushed home with it, ready to smear its contents on a pita and give it a taste test. My initial reaction was shock - it tasted like no vegetarian fromage concoction I had ever consumed before. It tasted like cheese. Not faggot grocery store cheese, but actual, real, sharp, moldy cheese. The shit was fucking good. I ate that whole container in about sixteen seconds.

I searched for DAYS to locate the other variety available at ye olde comestibles kiosk but they were sold out. Then, I went to Westerly - you know, the place with Ms. Lil's Cheesecake Lover's Cheesecake - but that shit costs $12.99 up there. Ain't no way in fuck I'm paying 13 dollars for a spoonful of cheese - I don't care how good the shit is. So I waited.

Then, a few days ago, I happened into ye olde comestibles kiosk to purchase some yerba mate for my morning rituals (I drink two pots of yerba mate chaque matin as I prepare to be assaulted by the outside world's unrelenting and omnipresent idiocies) when I noticed that not only had they replenished their supply of the soft tree nut cheese, but now featured the "aged cashew" cheese as well.

The aged cashew was the variety Dustin had deified in his missives, so I made a note to come back and get some.

In conversing with another friend, Peter, I mentioned that they had dr-cow in stock over at the kiosk. He rushed over to get some, and wrote a glowing review:

Dr. Cow aged cashew cheese is delicious! It's hard to figure out how describe it, but it's kind of like a fruity sharp cheddar. It has that nice bite of a cheddar (which even Sheese and Cheezly didn't get right, in my opinion), but there's this kind of fruitiness to it also, a fermented fruitiness that's almost wine-like.
I wanted some RIGHT NOW.

But I didn't get any until today. "Aged cashew cheese" is indeed its name. Same ingredients as the soft variety.

I bought a thingy of it with a box of hippie crackers gaily named Mary's Gone Crackers (sorry, that brings several situations in John Waters' early films to mind) - themselves delicious.

I popped that plastic container open, slapped a slab of that god damn cashew cheese onto that cracker and crammed it right into my mouth. Damn, that shit was good. Again, it tasted like actual cheese. This is some fly-ass shit, y'all.

Half that block was gone in about 3 minutes. Then, to test its appeal, I asked one of my coworkers, Jenn, to come in and taste this shit. She's not vegan, though she has hippie-food leanings. She really liked it. Loved it, actually. (I was going to use a direct quotation, but i lost it.)

I consumed one final cracker with this cheese on it, and tapped it off with a phat bottle of kombucha.

And I maintained control - a trait I rarely exhibit when it comes to these new food products. Generally the shit is gone in moments. Like a vacuum I am when it comes to pervert vegan foods. Now I have a little over half that block of cheese (the thing is tiny - I'm not THAT much of a hog) to eat later.

All I can say is - thank CHRIST there's finally a vegan cheese that doesn't taste like sac. Dr-Cow gets a fat thumbs-up as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Cheesecake Conundrum

I love me a fat fucking slice of cheesecake. It alleviates worries, soothes the soul, brings harmony to a troubled and ugly world.

But since I no longer allow the tainted strainings of various animals' teats to enter my body or a 30' radius of it, I've had some difficulty placating my need for this delicacy.

Back in the day, my friend Gina and I made some fly-ass tofu cheesecakes - sweetened with brown rice syrup, of course - and they were good. Delicious, even. She and I - we loved listening to the Breeders and baking one of those bad boys up. Then, we'd take them to parties where guests would take a bite, be wowed by our culinary genius, and immediately ask us to marry them.

But who has time for such nonsense these days? I (Well, I do, actually, but let's face it. I'm lazy. And brown rice syrup is an outdated item. Who uses that shit anymore?)

In lieu of doing something on my own, I've been forced out onto the street in an attempt to find the perfect vegan cheesecake. It has been a long, hard journey from hemp-fabric-wearing hippie establishment to earth-shoes-wearing hippie establishment - gritty, oaty piles of sweetened slime have been washed down reluctantly with a swirl of yerba mate in an attempt to appear grateful that someone at least TRIED to make a cheesecake substitute.

Along the way, however, I've found a few slices that were acceptable.

The slice I had at Wild Ginger in Williamsburg on Sunday - it was divine, but I could feel the fat building up on my body as I ate it. I'm pretty sure it was 90% margarine - the other 10% wax.

The white chocolate cheesecake from Red Bamboo kicked fucking ass but stayed in my stomach, heavy and churning, for several hours afterward, making me feel very un-yogic.

Then there's the cheesecake at my local purveyor of fine health foods, Lifethyme - meh. They use Florida crystals in all of their desserts, and to me, Florida crystals taste like low-hanging, sweaty balls. Just plain gross.

So, my search has been an empty one.

But, what's that Toni's got her eye on? Why, it's a slice of Ms. Lil's Organic Raw Cheesecake Lovers Cheesecake from Westerly Natural Market, of course! And you'd better take a good look at it, because that bitch is going to be gone in about three seconds.

I don't know who Ms. Lil is or where she came from, but I can tell you this much - I would change my sexual orientation for her. Because this is without a doubt one of the best god damn things I have ever tasted in my life, and I am not saying that in a "he has to say that because he's a vegan" kind of way - I am saying it as someone who has over the years consumed far more than the average person's amount of cheesecakes of all varieties. This one makes almost all of them taste like boil extract.

Yes. It's that good.

Ingredients: walnuts, raisins, nutmeg, cashews, coconut meat, shredded coconut, coconut oil, agave nectar, psyllium, vanilla, and blueberries.

Somebody please tell me how to make something so fucking awesome out of this crap. I want to be able to make this shit myself. Ms. Lil - where are you when I need you?

I dare you to go to Westerly Natural Market on 54th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan, go to the back of the store in the raw foods department, pluck up a piece of this divine shit, consume it, and then honestly tell me that you do NOT think it is a concoction that was shot down to earth on a rainbow from heaven. I DARE YOU.

Because I can tell you this much - that piece of cheesecake that's pictured above is almost gone, and I am already sobbing hysterically over the fact that I won't have any more to eat afterward.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Prosimians of the world - Unite and take over.

Let me tell you what - I am madder than a Southern Baptist at a Gay Pride Parade right now over this god damn Madagascar: Back 2 Africa movie.

Of particular note in my disgust is a character named Maurice.

As I was sitting at my desk the other day pondering the plight of my friend the Aye-aye, it occurred to me. I said to myself, I said, "Wait a minute... what if there's a fucking aye-aye in the sequel to that piece of shit Madagascar movie?"

I knew deep down there was going to be one. Much like Princess Leia knew that whining turd was her long lost twin, I could sense it.

Sure enough, when I went to the Internet Movie Database, I saw it. Maurice. Voiced by Cedric the Entertainer, no less.

MAURICE. Maurice the Aye-aye. I find this unspeakably offensive for a number of reasons - not the least of which being that I don't want my favorite animal (other than Nizzles) turned into a mass market commodity.

Not only has DreamWorks taken one of the most endangered animals in the entire world and debased it by turning it into a cartoon character which I am sure is a stupid comic relief sidekick, they've also gone and named the fucking thing Maurice.

I've seen the trailer - and the thing they're calling an Aye-aye - it sure doesn't look like one. It looks like a fat, stupid raccoon.

And I hate to point it out to the research geniuses at DreamWorks, but Aye-ayes are nocturnal - meaning they only come out at night - and clearly, your Aye-aye is all up and at 'em and ready to go under the blazing Malagasy sun. Jackasses.

I don't know. I'm in the minority here, I am sure, but it seems really gross to me to make a light, funny film about Madagascar, an island that is suffering the ravages of human greed and deforestation along with the potential for mass extinction of several endemic species that the world will never, ever see anyplace else.

It would be great - fantastic - if there were even the slightest bit of educational value involved - but, having suffered through the mullarkey that was the first film, I know that isn't going to happen.

What IS going to happen is a bland rip-off of Chicken Run that is chock full of hip hop, "urban slang," ugly animation, and a huge marketing campaign involving premiums from several fast and junk food giants.

Oh, and licensed products. Which, of course, will be Made In China and add to the rape of the world. Kids will buy the merchandise, but they won't know the plight of the real animal.

They won't know that in Madagascar, Aye-ayes are feared and killed on sight by superstitious people. They won't know that Aye-ayes are forced to scavenge for food in settlements, opening themselves up to further killing, because their natural home - the rain forest - is almost completely gone.

We don't need plastic "pull n go" Maurice figures, or Maurice pajamas or Maurice Action Pla-Sets. We need real aye-ayes to be protected.

DreamWorks, I hope you're planning to take some of the millions of dollars in profit you're going to make by dumbing down one of the most beautiful places on the planet and put it to good use by sponsoring some rain forest over there or by educating people.

Maurice and his friends need help, not Happy Meals.

Yes, I know I'm a crank. Give me a break - I like to complain.

Buy and read this book, please.