Tag Archives: governer’s island

Vendy Awards 2016

[Warning, this post is image heavy!]

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This past weekend was the Vendy Awards on Governer’s Island in NY. I love the Vendy’s. I went for the first time in 2014 when I won VIP tickets, and I’ve been going (VIP style) ever since. The Vendy Awards celebrate, support, and bring awareness to street vendors and their struggles.

I highly recommend attending the Vendy’s, and really suggest getting early bird VIP tickets. Perks of the VIP tickets include, getting in an hour before general admission opens, a swag bag full of goodies, open bar, and shaded seating area. Getting in as early as possible is essential because the lines get LONG.

Get VIP tickets so you can walk around like this before the lines get long.

The  first thing I tried was Raindrop Cake. The black cane sugar and blueberry lavender were vegan. I was excited about trying it since it’s described as a ‘raindrop made for your mouth’. It was really interesting – in a good way. It was sweet and melted in your mouth. Both syrups were good, and I liked the black can sugar the best.

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Next up was Monk’s Meats and the best word to describe their sliders is “wow”. Their seitan is absolutely incredible. I can’t even put into words how good their food was and I’m more than a little upset that I can’t eat it on a regular basis. The  Bulgogi was my favorite since it had a spicy Gochujang mayo that was out of this world, but they were all so delicious. I would give just about anything to get my hands on their seitan recipe.dsc_0708dsc_0709monksmeats
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dsc_0710 Next stop was Yeah Dawg, another all vegan vendor that I was super excited about. I got the Viva Dawg and my mom got the Bulldawg. The coconut bacon and chipotle mayo were perfect.We loved them, and my only regret was not going back for seconds to try the other kinds.

The dogs were really, really good. They’re made out of normal ingredients, root veggies, sunflower seeds, gluten free flour, and herbs and spices. These tasted better than any “real” hot dog I’ve ever had.
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At this point, I was already started to feel a tiny bit stuffed, and there were still so many vendors to try. Sweetface Snoballs was next to Yeah Dawg and serves up New Orleans style snoballs. Only one of the three flavors they had didn’t have dairy in it, so I went with that one, the Nola Voodoo. It was really rich and sweet. There was a always a huge line through out the day and I can understand why, it was a perfect delicious treat on a beautiful day. For some reason I didn’t snap a photo of my snoball – probably because I was too busy eating it. dsc_0723 dsc_0726

The Jerk Shack was right next to the snoballs, so my mom and I each got a plate of their offerings. They offered very generous portions of their authentic Caribbean cuisine and they were both delicious.
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There was a mixture of types of trucks that I could eat at, some were 100% vegan, others were in the vegan category that normally serve both vegan and non vegan food, then there were non vegan trucks that specially made some vegan dishes even though it wasn’t their norm.

Los Viojeros had a veggie option, and they were nice enough to make me a special dish that didn’t have the cheese or aioli. The plantains, peppers and onions were a nice combo, and I thought it was really nice of them to make me something separate. dsc_0734img_20160917_121107

Bamboo Bites was another vendor in the vegan category. They had two sticky rice options, one with mango and the other with tofu in a peanut sauce.  They were both really good. I always love mango sticky rice, and the tofu in peanut sauce was really tasty. Again, I kind of failed on the photo front here. Too busy stuffing things in my mouth to get a good photo I guess!

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There’s a general admission bar (above) and a VIP bar (below).dsc_0738

I got a Mediterranean Mule – Figenza Fig Vodka, Ginger Beer, and Lime Juice. I can’t even remember the last time I had vodka or any kind of hard liquor (seriously like 2 or 3 years ago on New Years Eve), but I love figs, so I got one and wow, was it good. dsc_0740 I tried the whiskey and learned that I’m not a whiskey person. They also had gin and tonics, but since I don’t like gin, I just got a tonic water.
dsc_0786 dsc_0789 Another vegetarian vendor that went out of their way to be vegan friendly was Matzahbrei. I loved their sign “All Vegetarian – *Make it vegan (Just ask the guy)”. I asked for a vegan Yannis, and waited with a few other vegans for them to make it fresh. I was a little unsure of the beets, mint, and tahini combo, but it was REALLY good. At this point I was starting to really feel the mass amounts of food I had eaten, but I would’ve gone back and asked for more if I had the stamina.  Also major thanks for making a special vegan option!
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A sponsor, Casper, had nap pods with their mattresses. I didn’t try it out, but it looked…interesting.
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Another sponsor was Uprooted. I got a pretty silk flower crown. From now on, I will only be referred to as Sunflower Moon Goddess whenever I wear it!dsc_0765 dsc_0766 When I first walked through, I missed Mysttik Masaala, which was was very unfortunate because their food was incredible. I know I’ve pretty much said that about everyone, but all of these guys are the best of the best. I tried the red bean, potatoes, and spinach dishes. At this point I was taking a couple bites, walking around, taking a few more bites…because I was so full. But it was SO good.  And spicy. And I could really go for more right now.dsc_0768 dsc_0770
dsc_0778 dsc_0780The coveted Vendy Cup!

dsc_0775I picked up a tshirt.
dsc_0798 We had skipped over Tuson Sate originally because we wanted to try all the vegan stuff first and got pretty full pretty fast. Towards the end of the day I noticed they had a tempeh option and gave it a try. They asked if I wanted it vegan (seriously blows my mind when someone asks without me saying it first) and they had separate tempeh that they served up. It was good and some of the best tempeh I’ve had.
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A few hours in, they were all out of water … and soda … and seltzer, so I got a beer.
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There was a huge crowd for the awards ceremony. There were two guest vegan judges, Adam Sobel of the Cinnamon Snail and Chloe Coscarelli – basically my two celebrity vegan idols.  I really wanted to get photos with them, but I didn’t see them walking around.

Monk’s Meats won the People’s Choice award, and Mysttik Masaala won Judge’s choice in the vegan category. In past years, there was usually one stray vegan vendor in each category, so it was easy to know who to vote for, but this year having a devoted category it was so hard! Each of them were incredible and it was great having different kinds of foods.
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After stuffing my face as much as possible, I walked around the island a little bit (but apparently not far enough because somehow I missed The Hills). I LOVE Governer’s Island. I love the architecture of the historic buildings, I love the views of Manhattan, I love all of the art exhibits.

On the day of the Vendy’s, it was also World War I Doughboy Day. I was lucky enough to catch the last performance of ‘Eugene Bullard, America’s first black fighter pilot’ portrayed by actor Chadd Gray. It was informative and captivating. The actor did such a wonderful job of really honoring Bullard and bringing his legend to life.

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Overall, it was a beautiful day and a beautiful event. Everything was organized really well (except for running out of water), and I cannot wait for next year. Please have a vegan category always!!img_20160917_170555smaller

NYC’s Best Food Truck…

The Cinnamon Snail
The Cinnamon Snail

This past weekend was the 10th annual Vendy Awards in NYC.  The Vendy Awards is a celebration of the city’s best food vendors, and it helps raise money for their cause. From their website:

There are more than 10,000 street vendors in New York City — hot dog vendors, book vendors, street artists, and many others. They’re small businesspeople struggling to make ends meet by working long hours in often harsh conditions.  Most street vendors are immigrants and people of color and often face discrimination though unjust legislation supported by established business interests. In recent years, vendors have become victims of New York’s aggressive “quality of life” crackdown. Denied access to vending licenses, they receive $1,000 tickets for minor violations like vending too close to a crosswalk — more than any big business is required to pay for similar violations.

The event was held on Governer’s Island, and it was the perfect place for it. I’d never been there before and it was beautiful. We took the 11 am ferry, so it was free (it’s only $2 round trip if you catch an afternoon one). The amount of bees was a little alarming though. I don’t think they bothered any people, but the way they were attacking donuts was like a scene out of a cheesy horror movie. I got a picture of a donut with like 5 bees on it, but there were others that were totally covered and you could barely see any donut. #beesTakeManhattan

Bees enjoying the Dough donuts
Bees enjoying the Dough donuts

The very first thing I had was a Maple cucumber-mint slushy from Snowday. It sounds weird, but they were little samples so I figured why not. I’m glad I did because it was really light and tasty. My dad also tried the maple grilled cheese and said it was good. Snowday won the Rookie of the Year award, and what’s really neat about their truck, is that they are operated by Drive Change, a non profit that builds and operates locally sourced food trucks that hire, teach and empower formerly incarcerated youth.

Maple Cucumber Mint Slushy from Snowday
Maple Cucumber Mint Slushy from Snowday

A few steps later we were handed falafels from King of Falafel & Shawarma. They were seasoned perfectly with a crisp outside and soft chewy center. I may have had 2…

King of Falafel
King of Falafel

Chickpea and Olive was the first vegan vendor that we saw and their beet burger blew me away. My dad (very much not vegetarian) liked it so much that when we got home he tried to recreate it. I know I didn’t try the other Best of Market nominees, but I thought that Olive and Chickpea was a guaranteed win because the burger was amazing.

Phatty Beet Slider and Carolina Southern Slaw
Phatty Beet Slider and Carolina Southern Slaw

Somewhere in between the beet slider and getting drinks, we grabbed some ice cream samples from Alchemy Creamery. First I grabbed the Almond Marzipan, and then I tried the Salted Peanut Butter. Both were really, really tasty. As we were leaving I kind of wanted to grab another peanut butter one, but I was afraid if I ate anymore I might sink the ferry. =/ The other (non vegan) ice cream vendor had 3 different really funky/delicious sounding flavors and they won the best dessert category. I think maybe if Alchemy Creamery jazzed up their presentation if they could’ve won.

Alchemy Creamery
Alchemy Creamery

Not going to lie, I was a little biased knowing that the Cinnamon Snail was going to be competing, but it was amazing that there were 3 other exclusively vegan vendors and others that had vegan/vegetarian options. And luckily they were all in separate categories, so they all got my vote!

I mean how could you not think that this Vanilla Bourbon Creme Bruelee Donut isn’t the best thing ever. (Sidenote: I forgive you Cinnamon Snail for my temporary bout of diabetes.)

Vanilla Bourbon Creme Brulee Donut with Maker's Mark Custard filling
Vanilla Bourbon Creme Brulee Donut with Maker’s Mark Custard filling from Cinnamon Snail

The VIP tickets were totally worth it. We only waited about 5 minutes to get checked in and then got to eat for a whole hour before general admission was opened up. This was kind of a good and a bad thing. It was wonderful being able to walk around with no lines and not many people, but at the same time, I wanted to stuff my face before the lines got long and I felt like I was going to explode in that first hour. I almost held off on getting food from NY Dosas, but I made a vow (to myself) to try all of the vegan offerings, and I’m so glad I did because the flavors were out of this world. I even got an explanation of how they’re made and got to take pictures (see gallery below) of the process.

Dosa with coconut and mint sauces and veg soup
Dosa with coconut and mint sauces and vegetable soup

The rain held off for a good portion of the day, but we decided to leave when it really picked up. We took a little break to let our food digest and explored the island a bit (a post of the art galleries coming soon), so by the time it started pouring we were a bit cold and tired. We missed the awards, but we in the car home I was ecstatic that the Cinnamon Snail won the Vendy Cup! Sorry if this post is sounding a little fan girl-ish, but well, they totally deserved it. It might not be fair for me to judge considering the fact that I didn’t try the meat dishes, but it makes me so happy that a panel of judges found a vegan dish to be the best. Whenever people say “I don’t like vegan food” (cue my inner eye roll) or other things about how boring it is I just want to explain that it doesn’t have to be boring and bland. The Cinnamon Snail has proved that vegan food can beat out some of the best meat dishes based on taste alone.

Winning Snail Platter
Habanero Buffalo Cauliflower – Beer battered cauliflower florest grilled with habanero sauce, served on a toasted baquette with roasted garlic ranch, arugula, and dill pickles
Korean BBQ Seitan Tacos – Smoked chili grilled seitan with homemade kimchi, marinated greens, and sriracha cream on soft corn tortillas
Sage Tempeh Sausage Slider – Served with lavender roasted leeks, kalamata olive tapenafe, truffled cashew cheese, fried sage leaves, and arugula

I heard some people outside of the gate saying there’s no way they could eat enough food truck food to justify buying a ticket. Well, there was also All You Can Drink beer, wine, soda, water, tea, coconut water, juice, etc… And besides walking around eating all day, you’re supporting a cause and helping people. This was my first year going, but I’m already looking forward to next year!

Brooklyn Brewery Pale Ale