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May 13, 2021

VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN

With all of the various diets being thrown our way, one of the popular may be the Atkins, telling us to eat meat, meat and more meat. At some point you can toss in a few vegetables, but what’s a Vegetarian, let alone a Vegan to do?

There are those that simply avoid meat but will eat fowl and seafood. Someone who professes to be a vegetarian, choose not to eat any flesh foods at all, but will consume products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and eggs, even though they come from the flesh foods.

What is a Vegan? A vegan (pronounced VEE-gun) is someone who chooses to avoid using or consuming all animal products and some who will only eat raw or “live” food. When it comes to eating out, there’s a difference in the cuisines of “Health Food”, “Vegetarian” and “Vegan.

Thank goodness for the discovery of soybeans. In its unprocessed/raw form, Edamame (in my opinion) is a cross between a pea and a lima bean. In many Japanese restaurants it is serving in its shell. Processed, soybeans afford the use of soy milk and tofu.

Beans and grains are used to substitute what we think we may be missing by not consuming meat. But for those who are hooked on the consistency, Seitan and Tempeh will not only do in a pinch, and when prepared well may just wean you off of meat, if you find that it’s taking a health toll on your body.

Seitan is a product that derives from whole wheat flour, that when processes develops a meaty texture and flavor. Tempeh is a cultured food made from soybeans and sometimes grain and often used in “burgers”.

So, what restaurant can you count on for a great tasting “Vegan” meal? Candle 79, located at 154 East 79th St. (212-537-7179). It’s not only Vegan, but Organic, as well.

Candle 79 opened approximately two years ago, after already having Candle Café not too far away on Lexington Avenue. This venue is a bit fancier with two floors, great views and a touch of Feng Shui. It appears that the building across the street has sharp edges and the two small octagons with centered mirrors are there to reflect back the “knifelike” energy.

Triple filtered water is brought to your table, which in many cases may be healthier than bottled water. Organic wines, some that have no added sulfates, and sake from California are served, as well as juices.

I began with a Chopped Salad of mixed lettuces, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, and green peas served with a “meyer lemon-tarragon vinaigrette”. Two great appetizers: Grilled Seitan Chimichurri citrus-herb marinade and Crispy Dumplings in a balsamic-soy reduction served with carrot-miso sauce.

Their signature Entrée is Seitan Picatta in a lemon-caper sauce, served with creamed spinach, oyster mushrooms and caramelized shallot mashed potatoes. You can’t get “meatier” than this. The menu changes every few months, not just for taste, but due to their commitment of using local organic vegetables. There was a side of Polenta Fries that I just had to try in which corn meal is the substitute for potato.

Dessert? Of course. It was a hard choice between the Mexican Chocolate Brownie with vanilla crème anglaise, chocolate sauce and cinnamon ice cream or the Chocolate Mousse Tower served with fresh raspberries, caramel sauce.

My feedback? I am certainly not a Vegetarian, let alone a Vegan. However, they have one talented chef that can make me forgot about “flesh foods” and enjoy an absolutely delicious meal. The prices may appear to be a bit steep, but consider that you are eating the “caviar of vegetables”.

June 02, 2005 - Queens Times

 


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