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 And brown rice syrup is an outdated item.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.



Gina said...

But, does Ms Lil's cheesecake come with accompanying pop song as did ours with the tuneful "Graham Cracker Crust"?

uuaq said...

Alright, look. Here's the deal. I trudged 20 uptown blocks and transgressed three crosstown blocks--through Times Square, on a weekend afternoon mind you--in the company of Pompous Vegan, who needed to "pick up some comestibles for [his] evening meal" today. I didn't really have anything better to do, and while the devolving social climate between the karaoke birthday bash we were coming from and the fruit shack we were heading towards would've invoked the resurrection of William S. Burroughs to intentionally drop a hot shot in the mainline, the weather was quite pleasant.

I didn't intend to purchase anything, but like a flock of pigeons descending on a pile of buffalo wing bones cast into a gutter on Canal Street, we tore up the 19" wide vegan grocery store aisles (why is that?!) to arrive at an 18" wide open-faced dessert cooler literally hidden between racks of gourmet trail mix, at the rear of the store. And there they were: nearly a dozen clear plastic delicatessen clamshells of cheesecake, brownies, and other delectables. I was handed a container labeled "Ms. Lil's Organic Raw Cheesecake Lover's Cheesecake." Pompous' expression was a mixture of rapture and inner peace. I didn't see it myself, but I saw him see the rainbow of anticipatory tastebud euphoria. Shortly thereafter, with my stash of Kombucha, ToFurky Links, and a tub of Veganaise in hand, we parted ways.

Even in the face of such praise, I remained skeptical that something called "cheesecake" which contains absolutely no diary components whatsoever could be much better than bland. Even at 8$ a slice, which is what I'd expect to pay in a restaurant and have it delivered to my table on a plate with an exotic fork, my hopes were not high. And I'm not a vegan, so I can devour all the cheesecake I can stomach; and whether it's good or mediocre, at least it tastes like cheesecake. Usually when I see that the ingredients of a "raw and organic" concoction primarily consist of cashews, coconuts, and walnuts, I think of peanut butter, and that is NOT cheesecake. In fact, it usually makes me upset because if it's going to taste like -nut butter, then please don't think you're gonna fool me into believing it's something else. Such as Fakin Bacon--I hate that shit. I wouldn't mind if a cream of nut dessert was called simply that, because such a combination of ingredients can be delicious in their own right. Just... please: don't think my tongue will be fooled because my eyes read the name of what you hope will register in my brain. It's the same associative misnomery as Jackson Pollack's "Lavender Mist." Call it Purple Ass Spray or Voilet Distemper or even Guess Who Thinks You're A Gullible Rube?, but don't plant visions in my mind hoping that's what I'll think of as I attempt to experience a new sensation.

When I got home, I set myself to the task of skeptically tasting Ms. Lil's invention. First impressions: it tastes like coconut cream. But wait. Let that sit for a few seconds on the tongue before swallowing, while breathing and relishing its olfactory embellishments. Swallow. Breathe. Wait. And then take the second bite. I don't understand how it's happened, but this is, without a doubt, now fully confirmed: the best slice of cheesecake I have ever eaten in my entire life. The texture is perfect. The raisin-walnut crust is perfect. The blueberry topping is perfect. I mean perfect. What do I mean by perfect? I mean, despite my initial inclination to discard this expensive treat as something only a pompous vegan could promote, I ALSO began to weep--enraptured by the actualization of an authentic impossibility, the flavor miracle borne in my mouth--because with each progressive, coveted nibble, there was less and less to eat.

In short: I saw the rainbow.