City Pulse

By Amber Roniger

What comes to mind when I think of whiskey? Honestly… ick, bleech, grody!

I always flash back to a low moment at a party in Kentucky, where a friend took a swig of Wild Turkey and yacked it onto the driveway before it ever hit her stomach. Yah, that was a memorable image I thought I’d share with you.

I think of sticky sawdusty barroom floors and shit-kicking cowboys. I know, probably a ridiculously bucolic ideal, but hey, I’m totally inexperienced when it comes to the ways of whiskey; a veritable bourbon virgin. So actually, I’m the perfect candidate to go to a whiskey tasting to sample different firewaters from Scotland to Kentucky. If I can be converted into a believer, anyone can.

So, in polar opposition to my delusions of liquor-slugging cowhands, I’m moseying over to Tavern on the Green for Whiskey Magazine’s “Whisky Live New York” event (www.whiskylive.com) on April 5th, which is apparently Tartan week. At the very least, this should be a different kind of boosey adventure.

And just like at wine tastings, I’m quite sure I’ll swallow, thank you very much

If you’re brave enough (and I know you are) come on down and check it out with me.

Tavern on the Green
Wednesday April 5th 2006
Icons of Scotland : 5.00pm till 6.30pm
Whisky Live : 6.30pm till 10.00pm
Whisky Live After Show Party : 10.00pm till Midnight
www.whiskeylive.com

WE ALL SCREAM FOR BLUE GREEN
By Amber Roniger

“Totally vegan and organic.” Does that bug you out? Just hang on a New York minute, I got some ‘splainin’ to do…

I’m ambling toward the subway all bleary-eyed in the morning, when I spy a dreadie unfolding a chalkboard sign on East 74th. (I swear I just saw a dread-head on the Upper East Side. Right off the bat, I am confused.)

I try to focus on the sign: “Come In and Try Our Raw Ice Cream.”

Do you remember that expression in high school ‘hold the phone?’ Well, Hold the phone!

What in tarnation is this raw ice cream thing? A divine creation sent from heaven to taunt me, a mythical creature of my nightly imaginings? I attempt to shake off these rabid musings and gather my senses. Re-group, concentrate, I command of myself.

I read again: Raw…. Ice…. Cream.

What the…? It must be some tempeh-tofu, spaghetti-squash bunk ice cream poseur monstrosity freak-show surprise; the ghoulish fantasy of an ill begotten Krishna veggie maniac deep in the glucose hole. As a vegetarian for the past 16 years I wonder for the first time, have we gone too far?

I gather my wits and follow the fierce Cheshire hat inside of Blue Green Organic Juice Cafe.

I quickly learn that the hat belongs to Melvin Major, NYC’s royal juice-man, a local juicing legend (who knew?). And since I’m new to the UES, everything here is novel, and I don’t realize this little gumdrop spot has only been in the hood for the past 4 months.

The cosmic forces slide into alignment and it’s time to sample some raw foodie goodies. Instinctively, I dive for the Mint Chocolate Chip and poetry rains down from my lips:

Melt in your mouth
Butter
Freak you out
Oh my God!

(Truth be told, this was written in tribute to a bombastic sushi dinner, but a seamless segue nonetheless.)

The raw ice cream is boldly intoxicating; I’m entranced; a new line of demarcation is drawn in the sand. I sit down and try to pull my spirit back into my body while contemplating the extensive list of unholy ice cream flavors. The main ingredient is, get this… young coconut. Who knew that young coconut could be so creamy-dreamy to a comfort food junkie like myself? Certainly pas moi.

In addition to their interstellar ice cream selection (as if anything else counts), the menu is a miasma of other raw food tasties: blended fruity juices, exotic smoothies, assorted wraps and sandwiches, impressive entrees and of course, the astonishing desserts.

I’m sure all you savvy fembots have at least heard of the raw food lifestyle, some vaguely flickering notion on your cultural horizon; it probably exists out there, somewhere … like in Callie. I pause to consider: did this oasis of raw food nirvana simply rise from nowhere, fully formed on the Upper East Side? Nein! Nyet! In reality, Blue Green is the brainchild of Matthew Kenny, owner of Heirloom and renown raw food chef extraordinaire. The cafe is the perfect little sunny gathering spot for covens of like-minded, healthy-eating NYC’ers (and their wannabe friends). Every precious victual is concocted fresh at The Plant in DUMBO, a radical, one-of-a-kind hybrid cafe-kitchen facility focusing on the preparation of and education about clean and healthy food and drink, newly opened last year.

Virtually everything in Blue Green carries its own label. (They do stock limited holistic oil and beauty products by other manufacturers.) Each scrumptious morsel is crackalackin’ fresh and of course, organic (your first imperative step toward eating raw). They’re also chemical and preservative free, sugarless and non-dairy (so all us lactose intolerant Ashkies can dance the Horah – hooray!).

But if I may get serious for a moment: we urban femininas need to pay more attention to our health. We are up against disturbing (and mounting) odds from the hordes of filthy air and chemicals we ingest. (There are brain-scrambling varieties of chemicals in our food these days.) We need to do more than the average, countrified woman who breathes clean air that isn’t crunchy.

Yah, I already know what you’re thinking: health-schmelth. But let’s face it mis amis, we already know that food and beauty are inextricably linked. We don’t want to be the ones to admit that there’s no actual mystery to our cottage cheese thighs, as we scarf down lumpy-bumpy cottage cheese. Since we are (or our thighs are to become) what we eat, we might as well approach food in a more conscious way.

New York is a great city to be a veggie. It’s also a great place to be a not-veggie, because the vegetarian food is so stupendous that when your bohemian girlfriend (Flower) drags you to some obscure divey restaurant in the East Village, you’ll swear it tastes just like chicken. We have it good like that in NYC.

I’m definitely a novice at eating raw, but I’m a quick study thanks to Blue Green’s knowledgeable staff and cookbooks for sale. And there’s no question that raw food makes me feel lighter. I’m convinced that there’s some nuvo-quantum-Socratic principle at work here.

In the end, I’m not sure whether it was Melvin’s hat or the irresistible lure of creamy-dreamy healthy ice cream (not fake-healthy, i.e. non-dairy, but still loaded with sugar) that enticed me inside Blue Green. But I do know that it irreversibly shifted my perspective on the status and stature of raw food.

I hereby proclaim that the Raw Ice Cream Revolution will be just mind-boggling enough to get even a jaded ole’ foodies’ organic juices flowing.

Blue Green Organic Juice Cafe
203 East 74th Street, NYC
212-744-1460
(& additional locations throughout Manhattan)
www.bluegreenjuice.com

Originally published March 2006
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