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Category Archive: Product Review

Here are all the SuperVegan blog posts categorized under Product Review. XML

  1. When we were invited to a vegan wine tasting at Candle 79, I was all over it! Who wouldn’t want to sample a variety of brand-new vegan wines, eat gourmet vegan food and spend the evening with some of the coolest vegan peeps around? The only question mark was whether I’d get out of work on time, as my day job is at a Very Big Fashion Magazine, and it was Fashion Week. Thankfully, the gastronomic gods smiled upon me and I was released at a decent hour, at which point I got what was probably the only available cab in all of Midtown—another sign that the evening was going to be a good one. So I made my way up to Candle 79, where the Discerning Brute, Joshua Katcher, was already waiting. (Be sure to check out his write-up of the evening.) We were soon joined by my fellow SuperVegans Sam Cohen, Deborah Diamant, Olivia Lane, and Jason Das, plus cooking superhero Terry Hope Romero and her husband, John. This had the makings of a stellar evening.

    Vegan Vine is the first wine to use “vegan” as part of its brand name. The wine is produced by the 150-acre family-owned Clos LaChance Winery and Estate Vineyard from California’s Central Coast. Our host for the evening was Cheryl Murphy Durzy, daughter of the founders. Cheryl was as informative as she was welcoming, and we learned all about what makes wine vegan or not, and the various labeling and regulatory hassles that wine marketers face.

    There are four fining agents used to get the solid remnants out of wine: gelatin, egg whites, dairy, and the most popular, sturgeon swim bladders, a.k.a. isinglass. The main vegan fining agent is bentonite, a type of clay. This is what’s used to fine Vegan Vine’s white wines; the reds are unfined. It’s worth noting that all of Clos LaChance’s wines are vegan, not just the Vegan Vine line, though the Vegan Vines are the only ones certified vegan by Vegan Action.

    Each course illustrated by Deborah Diamant, who makes lovely sketches when you get enough wine in her. This was our appetizer, about which she noted, “The vegetables were a little salty, but the wine was smooth and refreshing and helped rid my palate of saltiness. Also, vegan white wine is harder to find than vegan red, and this is a great wine, especially for the price point.”

    Clos LaChance is certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, and Cheryl mentioned some of the environmental and animal-friendly efforts they’ve made: switching from trucked-in chicken manure fertilizer to fungicultural waste from the mushroom farm next door, pumping the water from the low parts of the vineyard into the wetlands across the road, and causing an uptick in the local tiger salamander population. We also got into how much biodynamic agriculture relies on animal products—biodynamic wine is by definition nonvegan.

    While regulators didn’t object to “vegan” being in the brand name, Clos was prohibited by the Trade and Tax Bureau from mentioning on the label that the product is produced without animal products. They’ve gotten around this somewhat by hanging an information-rich “necker” on each bottle. (As for the bottles themselves, Vegan Vine uses Eco-Glass, which is 25% lighter than the glass in a traditional wine bottle.)

    And then service began. Oh boy! I don’t usually drink white wine, but Vegan Vine’s 2010 Sauvignon Blanc was surprisingly dry. There was something cool and almost refreshing about it despite the dryness, yet it also had a slightly tart undertone. The wine paired perfectly with the lentil-quinoa amuse bouche and the first course, ravioli with sautéed summer vegetables in white wine sauce and cashew cheese. The combination was seamless, in fact, because the ravioli was as delicious as the wine. The meal, and the tasting, couldn’t have started off more perfectly!
    Continue Reading…

  2. Assorted Super Foxy Sweets truffles in a snazzy wooden gift box, and a bouquet of Sesame Truffles. GIVE THEM TO ME. (Photos by Jean Schwarzwalder)

    Assorted Super Foxy Sweets truffles in a snazzy wooden gift box, and a bouquet of Sesame Truffles. GIVE THEM TO ME. (Photos by Jean Schwarzwalder)

    I am always so excited to find out about a new vegan business in New York, especially when the proprietors are making delicious sweets for me to shove into my face. February heralded the arrival of Dun-Well Donuts, and Cowgirl’s Baking opened its doors in March. And now, you lucky devils, we have Super Foxy Sweets, a Brooklyn-based gluten-free vegan truffle company offering beautiful and unique chocolate creations.

    I interviewed Super Foxy Sweets founder Jane Gish, who was happy to dish on all the details about her new line of treats. Also, people, it’s my birthday this month, so now you know what to send me.

    SuperVegan: Who are you and what are Super Foxy Sweets?
    Super Foxy Sweets: I’m Jane Gish, a public interest law student, roller derby girl, and perennial kitchen experimenter. Super Foxy Sweets is a brand-new vegan, gluten-free chocolate truffle company. We offer these awesome truffles in lots of amazing flavors like sesame (totally transcendent), cinnamon chili blood orange, pistachio-cardamom, and many more.

    SV: What was your motivation to start a truffle-making business?
    SFS: A few things all came together: I absolutely adore sweets and chocolate but I don’t consume dairy. I also love to cook and bake without recipes–this truffle was born during a manic deep-winter cooking experimentation session. After I gave some to my friends, all of them had really amazing feedback about the taste and texture, and suggested I sell them! And so, Super Foxy Sweets was born.

    SV: What are your current offerings, and what do you hope to have for sale in the future?
    SFS:We currently offer gift boxes and sampler packs of a selection of our flavors through our Etsy shop. We also hope to be at several food and flea markets in Brooklyn and Manhattan this summer, where your indecision as to what flavor to buy will earn you a chance to spin the “Flavor Wheel” (think Wheel of Fortune, but with truffle flavors) and taste them in person. We also have been doing larger custom orders for wedding and party goodie bags, which is a great way to collaborate with a customer on an awesome flavor (like peanut butter and jelly). We’re also gathering names for a new program called “Sweets for your Sweetie”–a truffle of the month club that you get for your sweetheart, your roommate, your mom, or even your frenemy. Each pack will include several truffles in one or two seasonal flavors plus a little bonus in form of a love poem, useful phrases in Russian, a sea shanty, or some other such nonsense.

    Jane has graciously extended an exclusive offer to SuperVegan readers: Receive two bonus truffles on every gift box bought through Etsy when you mention until June 5th! AND you can get free delivery anywhere in Brooklyn with an order over $25. GET ‘EM, GIRL.

  3. Greetings from Anaheim, California where I have just been rolled out the door of the Natural Products Expo West after 4.5 hours of eating my way through the 5 rooms and a gajillion booths of convention. It was kinda the best day ever: not only did I get to meet the people who make the products that change my life, but I got to snack on said products and taste brand new ones! There was even a special surprise at the end. So here for you, is the highlight reel in photo blogeristic style (my apologies for the sub-par pics due to iPhone 3GS).

    Part I: Cheeese Wars

    Follow Your Heart
    One of my first stops on the Expo Express was at Follow Your Heart, inconveniently out of snacks until my 4th visit. I finally got to taste their cheesecake, which was really yummy, their new line of vegan dressings (caesar!), and toasted cheezy bread. Yum.

    I was excited to find the Daiya booth and try their new Pepperjack flavor in the form of a quesadilla slice. It’s definitely got a li’l kick! No softballs from this SuperVegan, I asked the Daiya representative why o why are their bags not re-sealable? He told me that 8 oz bags don’t need to be, cause it’s not enough product to warrant it. I disagreed. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually use a $5 bag of Daiya all at once. Then he gave me a story about a zipper being cost prohibitive. That the price of a seal that does the re is so exorbitant it’d make the resale price (even more) impossibly expensive. Hmm… I asked about slices or blocks in addition to shreds. If I want a grilled cheese, shreds are a messy, wasteful, pain, I explained. He said they aren’t working on that, but they are working on a version of their cheeses that are meant to eat cold. Weird. I also got to eat some pizza and a spoonful of mac ‘n’ cheese.

    Continue Reading…

  4. Two tasters, Dave and Grace, consider the chocolate they just ate.

    Two tasters, Dave and Grace, consider the chocolate they just ate.

    I invited a handful of friends over to my apartment to sample chocolate offerings from some local vegan-friendly companies and settle, once and for all, which ones should be filling your pantry.

    It was nice to see so many different flavors and textures and styles represented–there’s definitely something for everyone. I also appreciate that a number of these companies are dedicated to producing candy that harms no one, including both animals and people–because no one is free when others are oppressed. And no one is happy without dessert.

    The rules:
    My five tasters were asked to rank each bite of chocolate they took on its appearance, taste, and texture using a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best). No one knew the brand names or what ingredients were in each piece, save for those that are potential allergens. While opinions varied widely on which chocolates were “the best,” I’m hopeful that the comments below will guide you in your quest for the perfect vegan chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth.

    The companies:

    Sweet and Sara is based out of Queens and produces their 100% vegan candies out of a dedicated vegan facility. The cocoa Sara uses is rainforest-alliance certified from Ecuador, and the chocolate (i.e. the dipping chocolate used in her s’mores) is certified organic from the Dominican Republic.

    Rescue Chocolate is a Brooklyn-based, completely vegan chocolate company that donates 100% of its profits to animal rescue organizations. RC’s products are all certified Kosher. The chocolate is sourced from a number of different countries.

    Divvies is an allergy-friendly bakery in South Salem, NY that uses no eggs or dairy in any of its products but does not specifically seek out vegan sources for sugar.

    Fine and Raw is based out of Brooklyn and aims to turn chocolate into “a form of therapy,” Fine and Raw is a 100% vegan, 100% raw, 100% organic and certified fair-trade chocolatier.

    Cocoa V is a Manhattan-based chocolatier run by the team who also brings you Blossom and V-Note. They are the very first 100% vegan, 100% organic, 100% fair-trade certified chocolate shop. Their products are also certified Kosher.

    The results:
    Continue Reading…

  5. While the thought of cooking vegan is daunting enough to some people, the idea of baking vegan and gluten-free can sound downright impossible. Not so for Jennifer Katzinger. In Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book, Jennifer creates dishes that are suitable for even the most sensitive stomach, yet still delicious.

    Roseann Marulli Rodriguez: Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for speaking with SuperVegan.

    You opened the Flying Apron Bakery in Seattle in 2002. How’d you go from a B.A. in English literature and an M.A. in industrial design to running a bakery?

    Jennifer Katzinger: Great question! I grew up baking. Almost every odd job I had in high school and through college, I found myself working in bakeries and loving it. I loved the warmth of the kitchens, the conversations, the creation of works of art I could watch customers enjoy with every sense. Meanwhile, while going to school I loved studying literature. After graduating from the University of Washington with my English literature degree, I continued working in cafés and bakeries. It was only then that I began to crave creating more permanent designs, pieces of furniture. After returning to Seattle from studying at Pratt in New York, I did work in the industrial design field and was absolutely thrilled and inspired to be doing so. In fact, I would very much like to dangle my feet in those waters again. However, the lull of the warm kitchen, smells and tasty creations were strongly calling me back, which eventually led me to open the Flying Apron Bakery with my father.

    There’s no soy or gluten in any of the recipes in Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book, and you use alternative sweeteners. Why is creating a healthy product important to you? Continue Reading…