Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Car Free DC? Still a ways off...

Today is supposedly Car Free Day worldwide. Unfortunately, traffic may be less in some areas (not enough that I can notice, though) because of the economy. However, it may have been tricky to actually go car-free in DC today, as cabbies were on strike protesting the new meters.

Another impediment from more people going car-free in the area stems from recent transit troubles, such as the latest in a string of suicides at subway stations (causing Metro to begin suicide prevention measures). If only to prevent another suicide like last week's tragedy at the Columbia Heights station, a fifteen year old who decided to end it all in public (I heard the awful thud when it happened; the boy was still alive for a little while after he jumped), such efforts could be worthwhile.

scene outside the Columbia Heights subway stop

Scene outside the Columbia Heights metro, about 2 pm on Sept. 17, 2009.

Perhaps we need the equivalent of the Tokyo subway's people pushers , whom, by their presence, are another level of eyes and ears in the system, who could also watch out for the extremely distraught.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September is festival month in DC! DC VEGFEST!

dc vegfest signSeptember is festival time in these parts--from Adams Morgan Day, to Black Luv Day, the list goes on. So I decided to head over to the DC Vegfest, held at GWU's campus, to see if I'd find out anything new. Not that I was going to purchase anything, as I had determined that it was to be a personal no-buy day. Not that there wasn't plenty of temptation to part with greenbacks, with such a wide variety of everything on display.

Well, there's always something new, or at least interesting, with such a variety of people attending and companies and organizations represented.

the vegfest public Local stores, such as MOM's Organic Market kindly handed over multiple samples of such treats as the Sheese with chives, fruit, etc., and a rep mentioned that they're looking for space to open another location, in DC proper.

Moms Organic Market table sign

Other stores, such as Pangea, were showcasing new items. One of the owners swore that I didn't miss this product when I popped in the store recently--the items below just came in this past week, 'cause I would have stared in open-mouthed wonder if I had seen these, especially the caramel!Pangea Vegan Products table stacked with canned vegan condensed milk and caramelPlenty of animal rights organizations were represented, such as the sponsors Compassion over Killing and FARM, smaller groups such as United Poultry Concerns, vegetarian groups such as the VSDC, the VRG, and, alas, PETA.
Compassion Over Killing table Unfortunately, I missed Michael Greger's talk, but he was gracious chatting at one of the tables. I also missed the bodybuilder (where had all the speakers gone?), but couldn't ignore his poster ...
vegan bodybuilder posterI'm not quite sure what stunt was going to be pulled after the lady in this costume went milling around the crowd, so I didn't wait to find out (although she's probably glad that this was a breezy day)...
lady in PETA pig costumeThere were also general local environmental organizations there, such as LiveGreen, which asked the following good question...

sign on LiveGreen tableThe rep explained that because so many new wind energy farms have gone on line in recent years, the price is now competitive with energy from other sources, and earnestly mentioned that switching to wind is an easy green thing that could make a big difference. Hmmm...

Local and regional eateries and establishments were represented, from Summer Delights to Sunflower to Senbeb Cafe, to other, newer outfits such as Toscana Green and a raw food education organization, Mojo Juice Club, which was the source of one of the status symbols of the fest, a fresh green coconut with a straw to suck out the coconut water.
festivalgoer holding green coconut Of course, it's all about the sweets, as there's great pent-up demand for vegan desserts. So, yes, Sticky Fingers Bakery was there, and its goods went out so fast as to be a blur. (But I got a coupon for a free cookie, so I'm not mad.) And Baltimore donut diva Emily's Desserts also had its treats on hand, briefly, as well as a preview for the upcoming dessert cookbook, aptly named...
Emilys Desserts cookbook cover The piece de resistance, however, was the drool-worthy table from Vegan Treats, based in Bethlehem, Pa., which had the longest line at the festival. Wisely, they seem to have brought a great variety of LOTS of desserts, a good thing, since they disappeared quickly enough. (Happily, a rep mentioned that a rep comes to DC on Fridays to deliver orders. Plus, its prices seem quite reasonable as listed on the brochure.)
individual pumpkin pie at Vegan Treats table
various treats at the Vegan Treats table

more sweets from Vegan Treats

Oh my! A fittingly sweet ending to a great event. Hope it's bigger and better next year!

* * *
To and fro the festival, on the subway, were plenty of protesters (protesting what, do tell!) with the signs and all, behaving civilly on the Metro. Perhaps the subway being an unfamiliar experience for many of them, as well as being around plenty of people of color while there, presumably another unusual experience for many of them, temporarily put such people on their better behavior (e.g., you couldn't see what was on most signs while there); however, the atmosphere was tense. Such a marked contrast to the good vibes at the Vegfest.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Poste, not haste...

entrance to courtyard outside Poste restaurantThe recent (but apparently well received) meeting of DC food bloggers at Poste Brasserie was, as far as I can tell, a hit. Folks were mingling in the courtyard, and all were as shocked as I was that the turnout was more than 50 people. (And these would just be the ones who bothered to show up!) Most pleasant surprise of all was simply the knowledge that so many people in this area alone who choose to muse electronically about what we put in our mouths. Of course, it also disproves the notion that this town is only composed of policy wonks (but then again, some of them blog on food in whatever downtime they can muster).

Met some interesting folks (including a local rep for Automattic), faces for a couple of blogs I've read on occasion; I'm afraid to read them too often, as many of them have photography to make you drool, food porn for real.

Some of the more interesting sites and their cool people...

Arugula Files--A good, well-known all-around local food blog featuring food spots, recipes, and, of course, great pics.
Macheesmo--Entertaining food experiments, experiences, and other good stuff.
Savory Sights--Some of the finest food porn, with pics sent in from viewers.
Savory Reviews--A sister site to Savory Sights, but includes recipes.
State Dinner--Contrary to the title, an homage to food both homestyle and fancy. With cute recipes for baked goodies.
Gradually Greener--Concentrates on food finds in and around DC, with the pictures to prove it.
Measured Memory--A dessert baking blog, with worthy recipes and photos.
Capital Spice--Food happens.

Hope there are more such get-togethers in the not-too-distant future!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Laboring, for good

sunflower field at Clagett FarmWeeding in (non-milagro) beanfields last week, near this gorgeous sunflower cover crop field (which means, incidentally, there are a lot more sunflowers around Clagett than last year--yay!), makes you appreciate work in all its forms--when on the farm, by the people and plants. In essence, the sunflowers are working, just by standing around looking beautiful, because as cover crops, they help prevent erosion and help fertilize the soil, making a type of green manure.

Discouragingly, hard work can seem to be for naught when there are diseases like the tomato blight on the loose, rampaging tomato plants in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, as the tomato harvest is noticeably down from last year. However, I noticed that while most of the tomatoes were adversely affected, the smaller ones, notably the cherries and Sungold held up reasonably well. My guesses as to their durability, particularly the Sungolds, is that the variety is pretty hardy to begin with, as Sungolds have a longer growing season than most other tomatoes. Also, the small size helps the fruits (yes, tomatoes are botanically considered fruit) get more exposure to sun and air than other varieties, as the staked plants are rarely, say, knocked to the ground after a storm as happens much more often with larger, heavier tomatoes. While I wish there were more of the other tomato varieties (such as the supremely tasty Black Prince), I'm glad the little Sungolds are surviving...
Sungold tomatoes from Clagett FarmOops! Because I'm not sure which cable station Planet Green is on, I missed last week's episode of Emeril Green featuring Clagett Farm CSA.

* * *
Because summer's coming to an end, and I like sunflowers and Pembroke corgis, a video combination featuring both, with a surprise at the end--a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of the season.

Friday, September 04, 2009

DC Go Boom!

US Capitol buildingAfter browsing the international websites today, a habit I got into during the Bush years (to find out how others view Americans), I found this tidbit in the online Toronto Globe and Mail, "Canada to stage mock Afghan attack in Washington," (which garnered many comments, rightfully). That's right, a mock attack by the Taliban is to be staged in town this month, four times during a two-day period, in part to inform Americans of the part Canadians are playing in the Afghanistan war effort. Eh?

Who dreamed this up? This stunt's going to backfire, bigtime, for our Canadian friends. However, what I find even more worrisome is that the local major media outlets have not yet reported on this upcoming turn of events; so far, the only local "media" to mention this is DCist, which only found out about the mock "shock and awe" from the same article. Can you say "blackout before the blowup"?