Thursday, March 31, 2011

Playing Hooky

Every now and then, one should play hooky from work. 

I am not an advocate of shirking your duties, but sometimes you just have to do something fun & spontaneous. Now just a small caveat, Fcat & I are both self-employed, so it's a bit easier for us to play hooky, but surprisingly, we rarely take advantage of it where we do something fun. However, when the opportunity arose in the form of extra MoMA tickets from a neighbor that were expiring soon, Monday morning became Ferris Bueller's few hours off!

We didn't "borrow" a Ferrari to crash through a modernist home's window...but we definitely do like our modern musuems- soaring space highlighting the pieces displayed.
Can you spot Fcat? That is how he takes a photo, work or not. Really loved two of the Frank Stella pieces in this room...
We only had time for one exhibit, so Abstract Expressionist in New York was it.
Here were the requisite Warhols, which are always fun:

Loving the cow wallpaper...
This piece by Lee Krasner really drew me in- her secret language & hieroglyphs of love, frustration & pain. The painting's texture captures the layers of emotion & turbulence, yet ultimately there is a sense of order.

Here's a Pollack piece that I've never seen before & so different from his famous drip works:
We also loved the Rothkos:

We could have spent another hour or two in that exhibit alone, but we have priorities- lunch! The Cafe On 2 (it's on the 2nd flr) at MoMA is a perfect place to relax & have some yummy eats after looking at all that intense art. The executive chef was so friendly & helpful- she walked around chatting with all of us in line. It's kind of upscale cafeteria style- get in line, place your order & servers will bring your food. The food has an Italian/Mediterranean spin, which makes it very vegan friendly! And when I place my order, the person ringing us up took the time to make sure that my order indicated vegan on it and she did it with a small without me asking!

Look at all yummy vegetable offerings:

Love having lunch here at these long tables- the numbers are for the servers to bring your food:
Iced teas to start:
At the Cafe, they are collecting digital wall art from anyone who wants to participate & leave them a note:
I had a trio of bruschetta- butternut squash puree with sauteed shittake, peppers, squash & microgreens (this was absolutely delectable), hummus (ask for it w/o the prosciutto) and a white bean puree with root veggies. These were seriously veggie dishes done well!
Also got side order of olives, these were also delicious!

I love lunch at Cafe on 2 at MoMA, it's not inexpensive, but it certainly is a nice treat in a great space. Was especially impressed by how friendly & gracious everyone was at the Cafe- guess it does stem from the executive chef on down. They are very vegan friendly and if I still drank coffee, I would have ended my lovely little meal with a soy time, am going to ask if they have any vegan desserts, if enough people ask, it could happen- especially since they are so accommodating.
Spontaneity & art & delicious vegan food are good for the soul. I want to play hooky at MoMA more often!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Busy Bee: Castings & Photo Shoots & Eating

Hope everyone has been enjoying the transitioning spring weather! Perfect timing for the nicer weather for me since it's been a busy time filled with meetings, castings & shoots and honestly, I am loathe to leave my office/apt in nasty, NYC winters...

On a recent casting, I ran into two vegan models- have seen these girls for years, but only just discovered they were vegan while casting for Pinnacle Magazine- Reinvent the Icon , the anti-fur magazine & website.

Emily looked amazing in the VPL shoot, didn't she? Fab VPL designer, Victoria Bartlett designed accessories out of human hair. Here's Emily from another casting showing all that cruelty free is simply beautiful!
 And then there's Karolina B. who is as stunning as she is vegan:
Those girls were definitely the highlight of my casting. Am always on the lookout for more vegan models now with this amazing anti-fur magazine pushing ahead! Okay, now getting back to my real-world work...once the rounds of castings & callbacks with clients are done, we can move forward to the actual shoot days at the studio.

We happen to love a certain studio down in Tribeca- the aptly named Tribeca Skyline Studios. Stunning views from the studio:

I tried to sneak a few shots of the shoot going on, but a lot of my clients are hush-hush and do not want any pics taken of their I took pics of the studio instead. Here's the makeup station- hair had a whole other side which was double in size:
The studio that we rent is actually two studios put together- megastudio...
The biggest distraction shooting in studio is food. Everyone is always snacking & eating if they are not on-set. Luckily for me, this catering day was full of veggie yummies that I could partake in!

There was edamame- which they fried in chili oil, good but honestly, I liked my edamame steamed & lightly salted, but listen, I was not complaining. When everyone snacked on non-vegan cookies at the end of the day, I had more edamame!
Love when sushi days at the studio as well, the photographer is allergic to fish- so there is never fishy sushi & always veggie sushi- SCORE!
There was also a lightly steamed veggie bowl of cauliflower, carrots, snowpeas, drizzled with soy sauce & topped with sprouts & sesame seeds.
The salad of radicchio, cukes, celery & bell peppers was refreshing!
And the shallot, veggie rice was wonderfully carb-y!
With these shoots, there usually is always a salad & a side of vegetables- sometimes even tofu. This was definitely a good lunch day for the vegan in the studio! Now if this was a shoot that I was producing, I would normally have the caterers prepare a small vegan entree just for me...

Okay, lunch is over-now back to the studio tour, there's a table outside for meetings & castings:
And a couch for the waiting area, also good for napping if need be:

TV & magazines if models or clients get bored, though I have never seen anyone actually watching TV here...
A coffee bar, that doubles as an actual bar whenever the space is rented for events:
End of day, sunset views:
The set is broken down:

And someone has been patiently waiting for her owner to say "let's go home!":
Makeup station packed up & everyone's gone:
And that meant time for me to leave the studio & meet a friend for dinner nearby! We decided to check out Mexican Radio since it had good vegan options. I had been here years before in my pre-vegan days & I'm pretty sure they didn't have vegan options then....but I can't believe that I didn't know they have vegan options now!! Turns out that the owners- the guy is an omni & the girlfriend/wife is vegan. Was thrilled to pieces! It's a casual Tex-Mex place in Nolita, but it's not inexpensive...but who cares? They have vegan options for most dishes on the menu!

We started with some garlicky guacamole and drinks, but quickly moved on to the good stuff.
Check out my Plaintain Rellenos stuffed with Seitan, covered in soy cheese & tofu sour cream- it was so good. The seitan was so tender- it was just perfect.
They even knew not to sprinkle cheese on the rice & beans side dish because they know vegan! A lot of times at Mexican places, I tell them no cheese & they only remember on the entrees...the rice & beans were just okay.
My friend & I were stuffed, so we definitely had leftovers to take home. Made for a perfect lunch the next day! Studio days are not too bad these days....

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Confessions of a Vegan Junkie

I am vegan.

I love vegan junk food.

Yes Virginia, one can be vegan and not eat any healthy greens.
Foods that I love: chips, anything fried, ice cream, french fries, Vegenaise, bread, Daiya cheese, sweet potato fries, cupcakes, cookies, Tofurkey, meat alternatives, shakes, burgers, mac n cheeze, tofu, pizza, the list goes on & on...yes, everything in moderation is not a bad thing but, I must confess- there are days on end when greens don't make it onto my plate, sigh.

 Now, let me just say that all these dishes are not necessarily "junky" and are definitely fine in moderation of course....I just like them a whole lot more than in moderation. This is obviously not how I eat all the time, just a roundup of some "bad" faves.

Cue the confessional evidence:

My favorite at Veggie Dim Sum House, hotbed of white flour decadence- the fried turnip cake which the Fcat pointed out long ago, was just mostly flour with teeny bits of turnip & mushroom...hey, leave my turnip cake alone, I'm part Chinese and grew up on fried turnip cake (the non vegan version has tiny bits of Chinese sausage & dried shrimp). They make it to perfection at Veggie Dim Sum House, even grandma said so.
 Dumplings- fried doughy goodness with "non" meaty filling, yep, 'nuff said.
This is hands down the most amazing sandwich I've ever had- the Tofu Banh Mi at Brooklyn Standard Deli in Greenpoint- crispy deep fried tofu topped with pickled daikon carrot & cilantro aioli, crunchy on the outside & soft melty tofu on the inside- trust, this is divine.
Cupcakes & donuts from Babycakes:
Vegan "Italian Sausage Roll" from Vince's in Williamsburg- sausage, peppers, onions, vegan cheddar & mozzerella and red sauce, wrapped in doughy goodness.
My favorite falafel pita sandwich (french fries optional, hell yeah- pile on the fried food!) from Hoosmoos Asli- so perfect after a day wandering around in SoHo or Nolita...
Vegan coconut custard pie from Hannah Kaminsky's My Sweet Vegan- I could easily polish off a whole pie in the course of a day or two, flaky crust & the most custardy non-egg custard ever...
Mac & Cheeze from S'Nice leftovers & taken home & baked to perfection.
Gardein's Buffalo Chik'n with vegenaise as a dip...
The Butterfinger shake at Terri NYC is thick, creamy & dreamy. My junky tendencies are so not what The China Study authors advocate as an ideal vegan diet.
I love carbs and I love vegan cheese- vegan pizza at Pala- one spicy red pie with cherry tomatoes & asparagus & a white pie with Field Roast sausage & mushrooms.
Every now & then, I have a vegan hot dog- we buy whole wheat buns in an attempts to make it healthier, but honestly it's just that combo of ketchup, mustard & sauerkraut with the Smart Dogs as a vehicle for said combo.
 Other days call for grilled daiya cheese sandwiches with a side of pickles...
 A little over a month ago, I went to Kris Carr's book signing for her new book, Crazy Sexy Diet. I've met Kris before & what impressed me most each time was how she just GLOWED. This is a woman who has cancer. She radiates sunshine and I needed to get with that program asap!

But of course addicts & junkies need a fix, especially when there is talk & thoughts of giving up the of course right after the signing, we headed over to Cafe Blossom where I promptly ordered a shake and soy-bacon-cheeze burger with sweet potato fries. Definitely gorged myself as if it were to be my last meal...
To be honest, I haven't gotten with the program yet- comfort foods are hard to wean from especially during a depressing winter, but I did start incorporating green monster smoothies into my day and that is a step in the right direction. Now that spring is coming, where I would normally do a juice cleanse, the Crazy Sexy Diet 21 day cleanse might be a better option. Time to come clean: sweep out the emotional crap & eat more whole foods. Will let you know how it goes...
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