Isa Moskowitz and the Atlanta Veg Fest

Atlanta Veg Fest is a gathering of Vegetarians and Vegans. On Saturday 9 November 2013 i went to the third annual event, which appeared to be a pretty popular.

It took place at Le Fais Do-Do in the trendy Westside. Despite my aversion to “joining things” and “being part of a group” i went to the event.  I know that i would be going there to mingle with people who have an “ideology” and a “group identity”, things which make me profoundly uncomfortble for reasons that would take too long to go into here  I went mostly to see what it would be like, but also because Isa Chandra Moskowitz was giving a cooking demonstration. Isa is the lady behind The Post-Punk Kitchen, a blog i have been reading for quite a long time, and so my long familiarity drew me out on a cold, dreary Saturday..

I got lost while biking to the location. I needed to take a left then two rights to get to the place, and i got to Howell Mill, a pretty major road, and took a right, then looked for the next road name that i needed to take a right on…. And after a while i realized that i had screwed up, so i back tracked, which cost me a half an hour or so…

Le Fais Do-Do is … well, i dunno what it is. It is a weird space with tables and some couches and several rooms. An online friend of mine said that there is a hip-hop club with that same name in LA. Are they related? The website implies that it is some kind of space you rent for events, like weddings…  But it is in a strip mall down the street from the Atlanta restaurant supply store in an underdeveloped part of an old industrial area… I suppose that means parking is easy to obtain for your wedding. I dunno.  I found the neighborhood to be a little bleak.

There was no parking when i got there though, due to the crowd at the Veg Fest. Unfortunately, they also had no bike racks that i could find. Typical of Atlanta, where someone who dares to travel around and not be inside a steel behemoth is ignored. I chained my bike to a metal railing on an access ramp.

Inside, the rooms were all packed out.

VegFestCrowd

I found a central room that had vendor tables in rows. I got an awesome button from a really buff, enthusiastic guy.

PraiseSeitan

And i saw this patented Tofu press. seems like a really good idea, but i am not willing to pay $20 for two pieces of plastic in what is basically a vice… still, i wish the guy luck.

TofuyPress

I had a really good orange-chocolate vegan cupcake from Dulce Vegan Bakery that hit the spot after my over an hour bike ride.  Thus fortified, i grabbed a spot in the crowd and waited.

Sadly, i was towards the back and very few of my pictures turned out, since i forgot to bring my zoom lens. (To be honest, i didn’t think i would need a zoom lens at a vegan festival!) but i did get a free cookie — the rosemary chocolate chip cookie from her new cookbook Isa Does It. they gave those out before the demonstration.

Isa also made a Caesar salad with tofu “croutons” and quinoa.   Sadly, they ran out of samples before it got to the back of the crowd, where i was… teach me to not be early!

Isa herself was funny. She cracked jokes about her sense of fashion (i.e., “goth”) and her dancing (“The secret to doing the robot is not to move below the waist at all!”)

She is opening a vegan restaurant in Omaha, of all places. when asked why she gave two answers. First, it is where her husband is from, so they moved home for him. Secondly, she like a challenge. This is something that i, personally, suspect about people who insist on labeling their identity — they do it in order to separate themselves from everyone else. what is the point in opening a vegan restaurant in Portland? Omaha is more confrontational.

Her restaurant will be attache dot Tim Kasher’s bar/music venue. (Kasher was the lead singer of emo band Cursive, fyi.) So you can go to see a band, grab a beer, and get some good vegan food. Pretty cool!

Isa used Quinoa in the Caesar salad, and as she talked about cooking Quinoa there was a debate between her and a few people in the crowd about how to rinse it without losing a lot of the fine grain. My experiences were on par with Isa’s — you will lose a little bit of the grain as rinse, nothing you can do, so don’t worry about it.

But one person in the crowd chimed in and said they had a solution to prevent any grain loss. Isa was interested and then, after second, stumbled upon a great joke at this person’s expense. “And what is the name of YOUR cookbook?” she asked. Ooh, burn!

IsaWillCutYou

Anyway, this person claimed to be from a blog called “Pimp your Vegetables” or something like that (nothing i type into Google gets me there, so it is entirely possible i mis-heard the name entirely. It could be “Temp your Veggies” or something for all i know…). Anyway, their solution was to buy a fine mesh net from a Latino grocery store and rinse in the bag. That is actually a pretty good idea, and i bet the fine mesh juice bag i have for extracting the juice from fruit to make jelly would work just as well.  Hmmm….

So Isa made one recipe, took a few questions, and then went to sign books.

IsaWithFans

I bought a copy of her new cookbook and got her to sign it. She seemed really nice, but a little harried. that is pretty much my impression of any author on a book tour though…

After that, i climbed back on my bike and rode home, not getting lost this time!

I had fun at Veg Fest, but it was a little too crowded. They needed more space for people to sit and watch, as well as a seating area to try some of the food.  People who bought food from the vendors had to stand in the hallways and eat, or else sit on the steps outside.

For those of you interested in these Vegan recipes, right now Amazon is giving away a sort of “best of” sampler of Isa’s work. Go here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GCMR3RI/ref=pe_245070_24466410_M1T1DP
You can get the electronic version free, and it includes the excellent rosemary chocolate chip cookies!

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