• January 30th, 2010quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), NYC

    manhattan is full of upscale places that charge a phenomenally high price for food in a posh, trendy environment…and now vegans can get in on the fun. cocoa v is a recently opened and entirely vegan chocolate & wine bar located in chelsea NYC that definitely offers the fancy pants experience. we hit them up last month on a snowy day for a late afternoon snack and had a very lovely, albeit very expensive time.

    although cocoa v has a menu full of incredible-sounding chocolate plates (or as the pretentiously call them, “chocolat” plates), we decided to go the a la carte route and save ourselves for the cheese plate. we had a look at the display case up front an chose a couple stumptown coffee candies, as well as a serving of coffee-flavored chocolate bark. i believe each piece of chocolate was about $4, and while it was tasty, the candy itself did not justify the price. i guess you aren’t just paying for the chocolate though, you are paying for the location, the atmosphere, and the all upperclassy-ness of it all.

    we also ordered a few glasses of house red wine and a cocoa v cheese plate, which came with a combo of dr. cow cheese, crackers, strawberries and vegan honey.

    the cheese plate was delicious (i am a big fan of dr. cow), although it was phenomenally expensive. it came with 3 small wedges of cheese cut into thirds, and i think the whole plate was about $17. i would probably pay it again though, considering it was so tasty and the ambiance was so relaxing.

    overall, i would recommend cocoa v if you want to go somewhere special and don’t mind paying what most people would consider way too much money. our bill before tip for the items pictured above was around $50…but hey, the place is beautiful and it’s a bloody upscale VEGAN chocolate bar in nyc! what do you expect? since our visit, they have posted an expanded menu online which looks pretty interesting. they’ve got stuff like english tea sandwiches, quiche, and even a nutella plate.

    i definitely plan to return to cocoa v on my next visit to new york; i just better start saving up for it now.

    174 Ninth Ave (20th & 21st)
    New York, NY 10011

    Mon: 1 PM–8 PM
    Tue-Thurs: 11 AM–9 PM
    Fri: 11 AM–10 PM
    Sat: 10:30 AM–10 PM
    Sun: 12 AM–8 PM

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  • August 25th, 2009mr meanervegan cheese


    As a globe trotting vegetarian, I recall attending many cheese and wine parties all over the world. I’ve eaten Brie atop the Eiffel Tower, Feigenbergkäse in the caves of the Black Forest, Gouda on a barge in Amsterdam and Formaggio Branzi while listening to the Pope recite Easter mass in The Vatican. For me, a combination of cheese, crackers, fruit and good wine or beer is the epitome of cosmopolitan Hors d’œuvre the world over. As vegans, though, we can’t eat the cheese, and the crackers are usually full of whey, butter and cheese so they are off limits too.

    Given the lack of any vegan cheese and wine party invites, we decided to host our own, with ourselves as guests. We visited Whole Foods beforehand to stock up on vegan organic wine, my favorite bottled beer (Chimay) and some organic, vegan crackers, assorted fruits and a smidgen of vegan chocolate, all to be enjoyed with the incredible Dr. Cow vegan cheese.


    We’re not talking about Daiya-style melty cheese that you’d put on a pizza or in a toasted sandwich, but a direct replacement for those expensive, tasty and pungent cheeses that go so well on a cracker with a bite of fruit, washed down with fine wine or beer.

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  • February 1st, 2009mr meanerLA restaurants, pizza, purgatory pizza

    After two weeks traipsing around the UK, we were completely set for a quiet weekend to be spent mostly at home. Until, that is, we read this post on Vegan LA. I mean, come on – one of LA’s most established and respected pizza joints, Purgatory Pizza, suddenly announces that all their pizzas are available with vegan cheese? And not the chemical mass that is follow your heart, but none other than the joint winner of the recent Vegan Cheese Pizza Challenge, Teese from Chicago Soy Dairy.

    purgatory pizza covered in teese cheese. the best vegan pizza in los angeles, or anywhere for that matter.

    purgatory pizza covered in teese cheese. the best vegan pizza in los angeles, or anywhere for that matter.

    So, after settling onto the couch with our slippers on, we were jolted to action and filled with a mission to check out Purgatory Pizza post haste even though we had a rather low expectation of what we might find, exacerbated by a 40 minute drive through Hollywood to downtown LA, on the purgatorious 101 freeway.

    Well, the visit to Purgatory Pizza is one of the most memorable vegan dining events I’ve had in a while, possibly since dining on a 50-year old London bus. We arrived at a brightly lit storefront with convenient alleyway parking adjacent, and strode valiantly inside with vegan heads held up high to be greeted by a very nice lady who seemed extremely pleased that we’d shown up as the first customers of the new vegan menu. Indeed, she told us that she’d only posted on Vegan LA a few hours before and was surprised that people were already asking for the vegan cheese.

    She was knowledgeable about the cheese/Teese, explaining that she had spoken with the manufacturer and tried several different vegan cheeses before settling on Teese as she felt it cooked and tasted the best. So, we placed our order of a large Teese pizza with garlic, mushrooms and tomatoes.

    It was only when we sat at one of the large, comfortable tables that we realized we were somewhere special. The walls were covered in wonderful avant garde murals saying things like “She is pure and perfect and she colors her hair with magic markers”, there were candles on the tables and some great classic rock deep cuts were playing (The Beatles, Queen, The Doors, Elvis…..). We rocked out, read the murals and drank our wine while we waited for the pizza to arrive, our drinking and rocking only punctuated by a wonderfully sweet and helpful teenage girl popping to the table on a regular basis with plates, napkins and an inquisition “Is everything OK? Do you need anything?”


    After about 15 minutes our pizza arrived, and for a split second I thought I was sitting in Ray’s Pizza on 7th Avenue at 53rd St. in Manhattan, one of my favorite pre-vegan pizza joints. I’m telling you – this was no ordinary mass-produced pizza but a real, NY-style hand tossed crust with the perfect ratio of toppings, “cheese” and sauce. The entire 16” pie was completely gone within about 5 minutes as we wolfed down bite after bite of crunchy crust, tangy basil-infused sauce and perfectly melted Teese.

    purgatory pizza with melted teese is heaven on earth!

    purgatory pizza with melted teese is heaven on earth!

    The whole experience is a million miles away from the usual vegan pizza experience, where a vegan restaurant attempts to create a pizza from bread dough, chopped vegetables and cashew cheese (ugh now I think about it). No, this is the real deal. Authentic New York-style pizza cooked and prepared perfectly but substituting soy for dairy. As a vegan, you’re dining on the edge here — as authentic a pizza journey as it gets, but screeching to a halt before any animal cruelty.

    Purgatory has a busy delivery and carry-out business (they must have fulfilled 5 or 6 orders in the short time we were there, which was around 6pm — hardly peak time for pizza orders!) yet the eat-in experience is really worth doing. One last positive note, Purgatory doesn’t serve alcohol, but they welcome a BYO-style system, and we fortunately had a bottle of wine in the car. It’s so much better spending $10 at a grocery store on a bottle of reasonable wine than $6 on a glass of franzia “house red” at a restaurant. This just makes Purgatory Pizza even better!

    Purgatory has probably always been a special place, but now it’s accessible to LA vegans, and I highly encourage you to check it out. Amazing pizza, BYO beer/wine, easy parking, 5 minute drive off the 101. Rather than Purgatory, I think I might just have found pizza heaven in downtown LA.

    Here’s the menu (redacted to protect the innocent):

    purgatory pizza menu (click to enlarge)

    purgatory pizza menu (click to enlarge)

    purgatory pizza
    1326 east 1st street
    los angeles, ca 90033
    323 262 5310

    open everyday 6pm – 11pm


    For a surreal moment, check out this video of the artist who made the mural:

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  • April 16th, 2008mr meanervegan stuff

    I buy most groceries that I can from Ralph’s here in Southern California, and wine is no exception. Once the bastion of exclusive vintners, wine is now a commodity where quantity (of New World wines) and quality have driven down price to a point where a very decent bottle can be bought for well under $10. It’s been that way for a while, actually, but the key here is that I don’t WANT my wine to taste like it cost under $10. I don’t mind it tasting like it cost $20, or even $14 but $2.99 isn’t going to cut it with me.

    So, the trick is to find the best loyalty program with the best selection of wine that you can consistently find whenever you run low. I’ve found that Ralph’s has just that. Here’s a story about how I bought 24 bottles of wine worth $141.34 for only $81.22 — a saving of $60.12, or an average of around $5 a bottle. AND IT DOESN’T STOP THERE!

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