Wow, let’s see.
What’s been happening lately?
(Hopefully you’ll forgive me for having been out of touch once you read this!)
I started a new job at Emory!
It is awesome. Wait, did you know I had an old job at Emory? Or did you still think I delivered the best produce in the city for Vegetable Husband? Oh my, let’s back up.
In July I got an outstanding offer to join the Development and Alumni Relations team at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School as a temporary Program Coordinator. My main man John referred me to a position that filled in for someone on maternity leave. I enjoyed working with a lovable group on all things alumni for a few months, but when maternity leave came to an end, so did my tenure in that office. I really grew to care about those folks, and totally teared up on my last day.
Thankfully, having built up a pretty decent work reputation, I was able to score another amazing job with yet another fantastic group of people. Seriously: Emory just keeps on giving. Now I find myself in the Office of Annual Giving (OAG) alongside a bunch of interesting, hard-working folks committed to furthering Emory’s wide-ranging philanthropic work. These are my people. ( <— Incidentally, I also maintain that website, and totally chose my own picture. Cuz of course!)
So what have I been doing? A hallmark of the Goizueta office was its strong alumni engagement, and so appropriately, I spent a lot of time doing alumni-facing tasks: creating and managing online event registration pages, providing day-of event support, crafting mass e-mails, working on the website, and managing our database of record. At OAG, I still do e-mail and website support, but I’m a lot more behind the scenes. If you don’t count the folks I work with, I haven’t seen an alum in months!
Securing this job is a pretty big deal for me, because it marks the first time in my adult life that I have some things a lot of folks my age take for granted, like: a desk. A place to come to every day. Predictable work. A predictable paycheck. Benefits. A sense of purpose. It’s really nice. I’m able to pay down student loans and start saving for next steps as I approach my thirties. Since I’ve never been here before, I’m extra thankful for the opportunity, and aim to do my best to keep people pleased.
So that’s the work front. What else?!
Nate and I just celebrated five years together!
Yep, November 30 marked our five year anniversary. Since we’ve already been on so many cool trips together this year, we decided to take it easy and keep it simple by heading down to Pensacola, Florida for a few days. Nate was inspired to suggest since the city houses the first of the Sluggo’s Vegetarian empire, and we’re huuuuge fans of the Chattanooga location. I owe you a blog post all about that soon, but just in case it isn’t forthcoming, here are a few of my favorite photos from our outdoor adventures (bog/swamp, forest, cemetery tour, beach, lagoon):
We’re also moving!
After two years in a beautiful house in East Atlanta – owned by a couple of the nicest folks you’d ever want to meet, and featuring the most well-equipped kitchen I’ve ever cooked in – we are moving to a slightly smaller place outside Decatur. (Send me an e-mail if you want my new address for letter writing or house-warming cards/gifts/love letters.) Our new place is also owned by sweet people, and it’s in great condition. (Think new flooring, custom lighting, and ceiling fans!) We are going to throw a gigantic house-warming in January, so stay tuned. I’m excited because it is proximate to an awesome bike trail that I’ll be able to take part of the way into work every day.
On that note, holy cow! Did you know?
I swapped my car for a bike!
Yep, as of this month, I am an official bike commuter. As soon as the bike gets out of a shop (part drama – story for another time), I’ll be swapping my daily 14 mile commute by car for bike. I am thrilled! I have been saving for nearly two years for this beauty. (You’ll see why when you visit this link for more info.) The new bike is an electric assist model with five modes: bike only, assist only, and three levels of assist (low, medium, high). When in leveled assist mode, the bike automatically responds with varying degrees of assistance based on the current terrain and resistance.
I’m using the bike to get started commuting seven miles one-way from East Atlanta. I have long yearned to be a bike commuter, but at my current level of fitness, I am not able to bike very far at all with Atlanta’s frequent and often steep hills. I’m using the electric bike to build strength and train to a point where I don’t have to use the assist very much. I’ve already gone on several long, hilly rides and they’ve been great.
If you’re someone who has a relatively short commute to work each day (under ten miles) and would like to chat about swapping your commute-by-car for one on a bike, please get in touch. This electric bicycle is a game-changer. Hills that used to seem completely insurmountable are now a breeze with just a little help from me. My first few rides were astonishing. I didn’t want to go home!
It’s also a great investment from a financial standpoint, at least for my partner and me. We were paying at least $40 a week for my commute in gas. A monthly parking permit is an additional $60. Combine gas every week ($2080) with parking for a year ($720) = $2800. $2800 for one year of driving, with nothing to show for it, except a somewhat more worn-out car and loads of emissions in the atmosphere. No fitness. No enjoying the birds singing in the morning. Yeah, I’ll probably get rained on some, but I’ll totally take it in exchange for the joy that biking gives me!
Atlanta Veg Fest was a great success!
For those who are wondering, Atlanta Veg Fest II was awesome. Much bigger than last year, we attracted around 3,000 folks from all of the world. Seriously: the first guests in the door had visited from Japan! From our humble beginnings last year at around a thousand, we feel confident that Atlanta is not only ready but happy to support a giant fully-vegan festival.
Like last year, I was in charge of our speaker rooms and all of their set-ups. Last year we had two food demos: this year we doubled to four. I really enjoyed running logistics and managing volunteers for our varied and fascinating line-up of internationally-known and loved speakers: Isa Moskowitz, Annie and Dan Shannon, Afya Ibomu, Victoria Moran, Fran Costigan, Bianca Phillips, Dr. Joe Esposito, and Christine Gurnik. I probably owe you a blog post about this, too, but these’ll have to do:
Bianca getting ready
Simply Seoul! Simply the best Korean buns and kimchi around.
Sweet friends Laura and Sean
Looking very tired with the fabulous Victoria Moran
Isa at her demo
Highlights of the fest: being told onstage, in front of a sea of people, what amazing stage presence I have – by the queen of stage presence herself, Ms. Victoria Moran! Also, being told I have incredible knife skills by the one and only Fran Costigan! I was very flattered/honored. I regret not getting a picture of myself with Fran, but the lighting was just too dark in her speaker room.
Thanksgiving was delicious, too!
Nate and I celebrated a quiet Thanksgiving with our friends Amy, her partner Patch, and friend Datagrok. I made way too much food just the right amount of food: tofurkey with roasted organic vegetables, creamed onions for Nate, green bean casserole in homemade mushroom-bechamel, fordhook lima beans, cashew macaroni and cheese, cornbread sage stuffing with freshly-made cornbread, coconut corn souffle, sweet potato-pecan casserole, … what else?
The raw ingredients for a vegan feast… not too weird or unfamiliar, right?
Amy also brought at least five casseroles, so we were set.
The only thing I didn’t make was dessert, because my sweet penpal Danielle surprised me with a giant box of pumpkin snickerdoodles from Gonepie! From the website: Pumpkin snickerdoodles are a perfect blend of pumpkin and spices in a rich, grainfree cookie. They are tasty and satisfying without being over the top decadent. These cookies are truly addictive. You have been warned! Go here to get some. Thank you so much, Danielle. I have wanted to try Gonepie’s delights for a while now, and they were fantastic.
Amy is special to me because she is the director of the Georgia Rat Rescue!! The GRR is my favorite Georgia-based animal charity and one I contribute to frequently, both financially and as a short-term foster. Without Amy, there would be no GRR – so I try to do nice things for her as often as possible.
The GRR is run exclusively by passionate volunteers and we receive no state or foundation funding. If you have any spare change this December, it is my deepest wish that you’ll consider making a donation to GRR by visiting the main page and clicking the tiny Donate button on the right-hand side. We don’t waste a cent! Everything goes to the care and rehabilitation of these tiny furry friends. Please, please, please donate. If you’re thinking of giving me a Christmas present: donate. If you like me: donate. If you don’t like me but you love rats: donate. Donate, donate, donate. We need you. And thanks!!
Apart from our November Florida adventure, Nate and I also spent a week each in Portland and New York in October. Again, I owe you a real blog post, but just in case that isn’t forthcoming anytime soon, here’s a handful of photographic delights:
Portland: October 6 – October 12
Cat postcard purchased at Crafty Wonderland
Breakfast every morning at Prasad. Thanks, per diem!
At Bitch Media’s HQ! I am a loyal subscriber.
At Vita Cafe, a favorite.
Portland has some pretty amazing toy stores. I wanted this entire shelf of golden dragons, but I did not purchase a single one!
Max and Abigail
Adrienne and Max
Writing letters at Barista
Nate’s birthday fell the week were in Portland, so his pal Meg picked up a cake for him and delivered it to work!
Whiffies Pies: Best in the universe, hands down, no joke.
The scrumptiousness abounds: banana tempura, cherry compote, miso butterscotch, peanut brittle ice cream at Departure Restaurant & Lounge
Final meal at Sweetpea Baking Co
New York: October 20 – 26
Nate and tree ear fungus at Palace Dumplings in Wappingers Falls, NY
This is how close you can get to deer in Nate’s neighborhood.
But not for long.
RuStitchin‘ on the Metro North train bound for NYC
Lunch at HanGawi
At the Morgan
Nate treated John and me to a celebratory dinner at Kajitsu. As I mentioned above, sweet JP is the reason I got into Emory!
Waitin’ on the train in the depths of the city
Grand Central’s got my sign
French fries at the diner
Tea and lunch at Youko’s restaurant, Gomen Kudasai
Exploring historic Huguenot Street, New Paltz, NY
the beautiful wedding that brought us to New York in the first place
Pigging out with Mark and Maresa at the Rutherford Pancake House!
I mean, wouldja lookit this (totally vegan, of course) spread?!
This is the point in the blog post where I tell you that I spent an afternoon at Palisades Park’s King Spa. Yep, King is a traditional Korean spa, which means I spent much of my afternoon completely naked among mostly Korean (but quite a few Russian) ladies of all ages, shapes, and sizes. It was my first visit to a Korean spa and it was, as so many who have gone before me have said, completely transformative and body-positive in every way. Even if you feel consumed with anxiety in the locker room, it only takes a few moments to become aware of the obvious: nobody. cares. what you look like. Nobody. No one is looking at you, judging you, wondering about you. Especially recommended for anyone who has ever cursed her body for being too much or not enough of one thing or another. It’s liberating, it’s lovely, and best of all: it’s remarkably relaxing.
It will not be my last time at a Korean Spa. Thank you Maresa for being my guide!
Aba’s Falafel at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market. Best falafel in the world!
I could not resist grabbing a shot of this adorable Japanese couple leaving the farmers’ market.
Nate had a birthday!!
Wow, this was a minute ago, but it totally bears mentioning in this mega life update post. Nate celebrated his birthday with a fun D&D themed party and a glorious cake hand-made by co-owners Idalys and Howell at Atlanta’s amazing Dulce Vegan Bakery and Cafe. Our favorite person Vic DMed and did an outstanding job – seriously, could not have asked for a better storyteller. It’s definitely worth taking a moment to check out his re-cap of the day over at the blog: D&D B-Day for Nate!
Here are some of Vic’s pictures:
On the Horizon for Crack the Plates (the blog)
In the new year, I would like to make a renewed commitment to blogging here. Every week I get e-mails or meet people in person who tell me how much CrackthePlates.com and AtlantaVeganGuide.com have meant to them as they consider, investigate, transition into, or stay strong as vegans. I would like to honor that commitment by posting more consistently. Perhaps as I get moved into a new place and nail down my work routine, I will be able to carve out dedicate time to connect with my community here. You mean so much to me, and I deeply appreciate your support!
Ok, I think that probably covers everything from the last two months or so! Hope you have enjoyed catching up with me, and just in case we don’t see each other again here soon, I hope you have a very happy buncha holidays. See you in January at the housewarming!
I want to tell you about a project.
February 20, to be precise. On that chilly night we joined about thirty others to learn how to cross-stitch and work together to create an embroidered animation of RuPaul from footage of “Supermodel“, an iconic song and video that RuPaul released in 1992. Go watch the video.
Our subsequent three workshops included guest drag performances, screenings of experimental animations, and discussions of web art and GIF culture. We had a blast. At our first session, we received all of our materials and chose our colors. For the next three and onward, we were basically left to noodle our way through our frames at our own pace. Let’s just say Nate and I took a very … relaxed approach to stitching.
In fact, there was this period where the deadline got pushed back
and I didn’t really work on mine for … a few months.
My contribution to the “Serving Face” RuPaul animation is DONE!
When Nate and I signed up earlier this year to be “contributing artists” to Aubrey’s “Artists Helping Artists” workshop at WonderRoot community art center, we didn’t really realize what we were getting into. We’ve always appreciated Aubrey’s work – after all, we are the proud owners of seven of his early pieces (key set, four horsemen) – but now we have a new respect and understanding borne of trying, ourselves, to do the kind of extremely intricate, patient work he sets his heart to. Good lord, folks. It is hard.
That first night
Nate behind his new project
I’m proud to have been involved in RuStitch because it taught me so much about myself. Namely, that I can draw upon a well of stick-to-it-iveness I didn’t even know I had. This project taught me discipline, perseverance, and persistence. There were so many times I wanted to quit because, when cross-stitching, evidence of progress comes achingly slow. You can seriously work for an hour on a section and not get anywhere close to filling it. This can get discouraging – and is probably why I don’t have more pictures than I do! But I’m so glad I took the handful above to show how the project comes together over time. It was hard but completely worth it. Thanks, Aubrey, for having me!
PS: Nate’s frame is pretty amazing, too – but I don’t have a good picture of it (yet). He took a risk with bold, bright colors like lime green and orange and it paid off.
I’ve had the week off, but today was the first day when I felt like I could catch my breath. It’s been a busy, difficult week, and honestly, I needed a break. One of my favorte ways to relax is to cook something complicated. Today I chose an old favorite: seitan pot roast.
This is a long recipe because it comes together in many parts. If you don’t already have seitan made, you must make it. You must also prep all the vegetables, and cook them. Finally, there’s the matter of a sauce. An experienced cook can pull this together in about two hours, with plenty of down-time to check e-mail or write a letter. First go-round, though, might take a morning.
Start by making the seitan. I used Julie Hasson’s recipe from Vegan Diner, but did stovetop steaming instead of using a slow-cooker. Two fascinating notes about Julie’s recipe: she uses porcini powder and Marmite to give the seitan the perfect color and savory depth. I made porcini powder almost instantly by grinding some dried European mushroooms in my Vitamix. The Marmite I had on hand from a long-ago trip to the Buford Highway Farmers’ Market. The only thing I would change about the recipe is to add less salt – half a teaspoon will do.
For the roast, I consulted Robin Robertson’s recipe from The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook. It’s the first recipe in her “from the oven” section, and I love it. The prepared seitan gets rubbed with an olive oil-garlic-thyme mix and then soaked in red wine for at least an hour before getting browned in a skillet. Pot-roasted vegetables and seitan are combined and covered in a reduced red wine sauce. So amazing. Here it is, still in the roasting pot:
On the plate, with a salad by Nate:
It was so relaxing to get to spend a few hours putting this together. I love to cook and I miss having nearly unlimited free time to do it. One of my goals as I start my new full-time permanent job is to find a way to be able to cook elaborate, from-scratch meals on a regular basis. Even once a week would be better than nothing!
As if this amazing meal wasn’t enough, the mail arrived and it was stuffed with goodies:
Click the image to see a large version. A letter from my penpal Danielle! Bat stamps!! And my official Letter Writers Alliance membership documentation!!! Probably the best mail day I’ve had all year. Danielle is an extraordinary mail artist, and this is one of the finer specimens she’s shared with me. There’s a haiku on the back of the envelope (not pictured). Just perfect.
The bat stamps are special to me because I collected them when they were issued in 2002. I remember buying sheets of them and putting them on ALL of my mail. Nevermind the fact that virtually no one else found them as precious as I did – I was determined to share them with the world. I was reminded of these wonderful little stamps when I saw a picture of Donovan’s Halloween-themed stamps on her Instagram feed:
As soon as I saw this picture, I went on eBay and snagged a few sheets at only a dollar or so more than the original purchase price, and with free shipping – not bad! I am planning on sharing some with my favorite penpal and using most of the rest to mark my mail in October. They require nine more cents to be in date. Another fun fact: I also collected the carnivorous plants stamps, and used them nearly as avidly as the bats. What can I say? I have a heart for the eldritch.
I’m excited to join the Letter Writers Alliance for one obvious reason – I love mail and all things mail-related. Whenever I move someplace new, I always learn my post-person’s name within the first two weeks. I believe in the art of handwriting and enjoy sharing it with others. I’ve been collecting stamps for over a decade. I’ve been collecting stationery since I was about ten years old. Same goes with stickers. And I always send a thank-you note.
But one other reason I’m excited to be an official member is because I’ve always been fascinated with secret societies and niche interest groups. LWA doesn’t have that much mystery around it, but it’s enough to keep me intrigued. When I was in elementary school I formed exclusive clubs with ridiculous names for my besties, and when I was a bit older I published hand-drawn gossip zines that my middle school classmates just ate up. I like being part of a group that appreciates and promotes an art that most find obsolete.
And the day just got better. Nate and I spent the evening at Oakland Cemetery for the annual Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Halloween Tour. From the website: Historic Oakland Cemetery receives many visitors each day, but only at Halloween do the gates stay open after dark. Witness the magnificent final resting place of Atlanta’s sons and daughters during the Capturing the Spirit of Oakland 2013 Halloween Tours. Join us this year and hear first-hand accounts about our city’s past, narrated by a host of Oakland’s eternal “residents.” You’ll also see gorgeous candlelit mausoleums in this one-of-a-kind annual tradition.
Have you ever done a city ghost tour? You know, local person takes you around to supposedly haunted spots and delves into the connection to the macabre? Similar thing at Oakland. Walk through the cemetery in the evening and learn about city history from actors in period dress. Only these performers were so spot-on that Nate and I actually felt like we were listening to dead people. Sounds crazy, but true! They did a great job. And the accents – oh, the accents!
Another thing: at first Nate I were bummed to have one of the earliest time slots – 5:45 – but it turned out to beperfect. The tour didn’t get started til around 6ish and we walked the entire thing at dusk. Whereas later tours explored the cemetery in the dark, we actually got to enjoy the grounds in the warm pink bath of the setting sun. It also made for better pictures! Here’s a selection of my favorites:
It’s been two weeks since I returned from Sweden and I’m just getting to the point where I don’t feel behind in most of my life. The intensity of my first-ever bout of transatlantic jetlag was more severe than I could have imagined. Nate and I spent the first week walking around in a kind of haze — readjusting to hearing English spoken everywhere, fumbling for words, and growing impossibly weary every day around 6pm (midnight Sweden time). Sweden was so amazing in so many ways that it made certain blemishes of life here starker than usual, like the inability to safely walk or ride one’s bike anywhere, the undrinkable tap water, the not-so-fresh-air, the… for lack of a better description, noise. In Sweden, we slept with the doors and windows open, for goodness’ sake. But sleeping in one’s own bed, hugging one’s cats, reuniting with pet foster rats, and a cast-iron skillet on a gas range: these things make home.
Like a lot travellers who blog, I’m way behind on sharing our adventures. Maybe I’ll be able to carve out some time to work on those (individual, daily, picture-packed) posts this week. I dearly hope I’m able – after all,all of the photos are already edited and uploaded into WordPress – I just need to provide the text! But just in case those posts aren’t forthcoming, permit me to share some of my favorite memories from the journey.
Or, in other words, let’s visit Sweden for two weeks in one post!
Wednesday, August 14, 2013: Our first night in Sweden. Susanna prepares a traditional Swedish meal of pancakes and pea soup.
Our first dinner in Sweden.
Thursday, August 15, 2013: Lunch at Kafe Agnez
A bike ride through Malmö led us past this windmill.
A candle-lit plate of Swedish sweets from Kafe Agnez.
Hi hi friends! Or should I say, hej hej? After all, the Sweden posts are still on the way!
While everyone else is having fun with special themes for the Vegan Month of Food (VeganMoFo for short), I’m sharing vacation posts and looking towards fall and my favorite month of the year, October. October promises a trip back to Portland with Nate and another to NY for a wedding and family visiting. I’m also planning Nate’s birthday party on the 5th! VeganMoFo is usually held in October, but I’m kinda glad it isn’t this year – I’d probably be too busy to write.
I was still in Sweden when the MoFo deadline rolled up, so unfortunately I’m not on the official blog roll this year. However, I am participating insofar as I’m going to make a concerted effort to blog more often, and to reconnect with my bloggin’ friends. Thankfully I already have ten vacation posts lined up, and plenty of MoFo themes I’m itchin’ to check out.
How do you feel about vacation posts on personal blogs? Sometimes they can be boring, but more often I enjoy visiting new and exciting places through others’ eyes. I especially love vegan travel posts – they give me so many good ideas and ways to dream. I hope you regard mine similarly!
Without further adieu, day three…
A quick breakfast of leftover soup from the night before, Susanna’s amazing fresh-baked bread, nuts, more vegan cheese, and a Susanna staple: sliced tomatoes.
The first full day! We slept in til 10:30am (4:30am Eastern Time). Susanna and Johannes are most graciously lending us their bedroom and cozy bed. Despite the time difference and jet lag, I felt pretty rested.
A simple breakfast of nuts, fruit, Susanna’s homebaked bread with Prima pflantzenmargarine (plant + margarine; vegan margarine) and three different types of Astrid och Aporna vegan soy cheeses.
Susanna bought the aged Ädelostsmak, or Blue Cheese Flavor, for us; we picked up the Italian and Cheddar at Green market the day before. Isn’t the packaging precious?! Naturally, I adore it.
Astrid och Aporna vegan cheeses
Hey hey (hej hej)! Greetings from Malmo, Sweden! Nate and I arrived on Wednesday morning. I’ve been thinking in terms of how I can be a better blogger while I am here, as opposed to my usual mode – taking lots of pictures, having tons of experiences, getting home exhausted and then not sharing about any of them! I have an entire amazing vacation from earlier this summer that is not yet documented (NY)… I’m determined to not let Sweden meet the same fate!
So, without further adieu…
Today is our kitten Lua’s birthday. She is one. We celebrated this morning with her favorite things: catnip, treats, and Midnight Crazies!
Here she is trying the catnip.
More Midnight Crazies!
Nate and I made a special trip to Wal-mart (the place we found Midnight Crazies) to basically buy out their stock for her. Seemingly no other toy gives Lua joy the way Midnight Crazies do. She was showered with 24 of them this morning. I’m sure by the time I get home from work this evening they’ll all be buried under couches and chairs.
A nap with her sister Perl. Please pay no mind to all the cat hair!!
Perl makes a great pillow.
I’m glad we got Lua. Sometimes having three cats is a little overwhelming, but she has made Perl’s life so much better. They are the best of friends. Lua is usually pretty terrible – aloof, bitey, scratchy, breaks things, eats things, cries too much – but then, aren’t most kittens? One day she’ll just lay around all day and possibly deign to look in my direction as I pass her by. Better to try to enjoy her youthful (albeit sometimes terrorizing) behavior while I can!
My last post was about a very special meal Nate & I had at Harmony last week, where we got to try their take on tree ear fungus for the first time. What I didn’t mention was that we were there to celebrate my new temporary full-time job at Emory University! I start tomorrow (Monday the 15th) and I’m excited – and only a little nervous. It’s been a long time since I held a regular, full-time office job! Wish me luck, please.
Today we continued the celebration with a trip to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. We usually can’t bring ourselves to go to the ABG because it’s pretty dang expensive for a couple of hours (2 adult admissions + tax hovers around $45, plus $5 for parking… you see where this is going). But they’ve got a really interesting new exhibit now called Imaginary Worlds: Plants Larger Than Life, and we were in a celebratory mood, so we made an exception.
I’m really glad we did. We had a blast! Here are some of the pictures I took, in case you’re not going to be able to make it out before it closes in October. And if you are planning on going: spoiler alert. I took pictures of most of the sculptures.
Back view of a butterfly sculpture
Step into Imaginary Worlds: Plants Larger Than Life and discover a magical garden where cobras tower overhead, fish dance on water, and a giant goddess emerges from the earth. More than one hundred thousand plants come together to form 19 extraordinary living sculptures in the first major exhibition of its kind to be shown in the United States.
Approaching the first cobra…
When Nate and I first moved to Atlanta in January 2011 we gorged ourselves on Harmony Vegetarian (Atlanta’s only – and best – pure vegan Chinese restaurant) on the regular. Like, I’m pretty sure we once went for lunch… and then again for dinner…on the same day. And going more than once a week was a common occurrence. We loved the simple ambiance, the sweet service, and the comforting old favorites made cruelty-free.
The flames of our love for Harmony tapered off as our infatuation for Green Sprout grew. Green Sprout is another amazing – though not totally vegan – vegetarian Chinese restaurant. Thanks to one Leigh S., I’m really into the crunchy spicy wok-seared “chicken” with lotus roots and other vegetables. I’m pretty sure GS is the only place in Atlanta where you can get vegan bubble tea in a rainbow of flavors – taro is #1 followed by mango, and one of the owners agrees. (She also agrees that honeydew maybe needs a little work – it is very floral!) We also love the proximity – not only is Green Sprout an easy drive, but it’s next to interesting places like Trader Joe’s and the Midtown Art Cinema. And not to give out ALL my secrets, but you should totally order the yuba-wrapped fish entree as an appetizer to share if there are three or more people in your party. It rules.
***Here’s my previous review of these two restaurants – with their menus – from 2011. The menus are only slightly out-of-date. I think everything you see can still be ordered, but they’ve added some new stuff, too. I’ll try to get updated menus posted soon.***
While Nate & I still love Green Sprout, we have returned to the welcoming arms of Harmony, where the prices are insanely low, the staff are always happy to see you, and where the Buford Highway Farmers’ Market is just down the road. And, we’ve now learned, they get really excited !! when you show an interest in traditional Chinese recipes.
Such was the case when I asked, recently, about a certain floppy fungus I’d been enjoying at Palace Dumpling in Wappinger’s Falls, New York. Black, jellylike, a bit rubbery, flavored with mustard and served cold, I described it – and the manager/host knew exactly what I was talking about. It’s called cloud ear fungus, or tree ear, or wood ear, depending on who you ask. She was pleased to learn that we liked it so much, but not that surprised, as we regularly ordered the more traditional Chinese favorites like bean curd skin rolls, leek dumplings, and black mushroom soup. She said to give them a call ahead next time we planned on visiting – they wanted to prepare a tree ear special for us!
And so we did.
And we arrived, and the table was already made up for us.
Yep, those are a couple of cookbooks on the table. I was making a list for the Buford Highway Farmers’ Market.
Our daikon-carrot slaw came on the special adorable plate. Bears! Baby bears! IN A BUBBLE BATH!
A new appetizer! Bean curd skin seaweed bites. Crispy, a little fishy, totally delicious. I’m not usually one for fishy flavors, but this is so tasty I give it a pass. Don’t miss the savory dipping sauce that it comes with.
We also ordered the fried squid appetizers, but no pictures of that one. It’s a relatively new appetizer that we’ve been enjoying. Little pieces of veggie squid are tightly rolled, battered, deep fried, and possibly also wok-tossed with spicy peppers. It’s served with a sweet dipping sauce.
The special salad! Served somewhat chilled and featuring bean curd skin (yuba), tree ear fungus, cilantro, fresh garlic, green bell peppers, and carrot, in a sweet-savory sauce that we both wanted to lick off the plate. It was so totally beyond divine. Henceforth I’m going to be calling ahead every time we visit.
The oddly-named “Steamed chicken with ham” is our new favorite entree. It’s great because it’s plenty large enough for two people to share and we always have leftovers. The gai lan (Chinese broccoli) is meltingly tender, as is the bean curd skin. The black mushrooms are pleasantly springy and everything is draped in a kind of Chinese bearnaise. The only thing I don’t really like is the veggie “ham”, but thankfully Nate loves it. More yuba for me, I says!
Bonus points for this dish: unlike pretty much everything else I’ve tried, this dish keeps and reheats really, really nicely. I’m even tempted to say it’s better the next day.
Harmony Vegetarian, my first love and my true love! Thank you for another special experience.