It was the best of brunches, it was the worst…er, I mean, also best of brunches? Alright, enough with the Dickens’ reference. This past weekend we had a good old-fashioned AP road trip, where we traveled to Washington DC and Philadelphia for a vegetarian festival. The DC Vegfest was a blast and we met a ton of great people, not to mention we were nestled in the booth next to Vegan Treats, where we were tempted all day with delicious cakes.  Before setting up for the Vegfest, we arose early enough to stop and have brunch at DC’s own Sticky Fingers Bakery. Once finished with the Vegfest, we headed to Philadelphia, where we had the chance to also eat vegan brunch at a restaurant called Mi Lah’s Vegetarian. We thought since we had the opportunity to try the same brunch dish at both restaurants in two different cities, two days in a row, we would compare them!

Sticky Fingers’ French Toast

Let’s start with Sticky Fingers Bakery. The bakery nestled in a busy part of DC, has a bit of a deceiving name. Although, it is entitled, bakery, and they do offer multiple baked goods, they also have a pretty extensive brunch and lunch menu. We were really excited to be there and had trouble deciding what menu item to choose from as they ranged from “Blueberry Pancakes” to “Tuna Melt.” With a little help from the friendly staff, who were as sweet as their pastries, we were able to decide upon two items: the Biscuits and Gravy and the French Toast. For about $6 you can order either but if you make it into a meal for $9.99 you get your main dish plus home fries and tofu scramble. Also, of note, while we were waiting for our plates, Ian MacKaye of the band Minor Threat and a longtime vegan strolled in and ordered breakfast. This spurred childhood memories to go along with our brunch!

Sticky Fingers’ Biscuits & Gravy

For the sake of this article we will focus on the Biscuits and Gravy, although the French Toast was exceptional. Because I knew I would be eating vegan goodies all day, I opted just for the main dish but added a side of tempeh bacon. When the dish was served, it looked delicious and very presentable on a cute colorful plate. The biscuits were delectable: light and buttery, just as you would expect them. The gravy was also quite delicious and tasted homemade with fresh herbs sprinkled upon it. This definitely gave it an extra flavor. I also really, really enjoyed the tempeh bacon, which had a nice full smoked flavor to it. My only disappointment was that the gravy had no meat substitute to imitate traditional biscuits and gravy. Although, not normally a fan of mock meat, I thought adding some tempeh or tofu would add to the dish. Still, it filled me and sent my taste buds soaring for the rest of the morning.

Mi Lah’s Tofu Florentine

The following day we stopped in Philly on our way back to Boston. We were excited to find good reviews online about a restaurant called Mi Lah Vegetarian. Judging by the name and the decor (Asian Buddhist style) you might expect this to be a pan Asian restaurant, however, they mostly serve American and International style dishes.  In the window, they proudly display their “BYOB” sign, although it being about noon, it was a little too early to bring our own booze. We were met with friendly service as well and also relied on the waiter to help us with our decision. After much contemplation and a coin flip or two, I decided to try the Biscuits and Gravy once again to see how it would compare to the previous day and we also ordered Tofu Florentine. The Tofu Florentine was deliciously served with plenty of tofu and a side of kale and tomatoes. Both dishes came with sweet potato home fries and fresh fruit.

Mi Lah’s Biscuits & Gravy

But since our focus is on the Biscuits and Gravy, I will tell you it was unique and mouth-watering. The first thing we noticed was that the portions were HUGE. In fact, this meal filled us for the remainder of the day! The Biscuits and Gravy were served with fried mushroom that closely reminded me of fish and I had to share it with the rest of the table, who loved it. The Biscuits and Gravy themselves were quite good although not as soft and flavorful as Sticky Fingers’. The best thing about this dish is that layered on the biscuits were a veggie sausage patty and a giant scoops of avocado. That may seem odd to pair avocado with gravy but it was unique and scrumptious. I devoured mine in minutes and savored  it thoroughly!

Both restaurants offer delicious vegan brunches as well as dinner items. I enjoyed both styles of restaurants as well, counter service and sit down. I think both biscuits and gravy were delightful, yet different in their own way. We are sure to visit both restaurants again soon to try some of their other items but can assure you that both places offer a mighty tasty Biscuits and Gravy and we are sure glad we tried it. It is a far, far better brunch that I tried, than I have ever tried before.

-Gina Williams

One of the United States’ most exciting alternative-energy events, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, is about to kick off in Washington DC!  Starting October 9th (and ending the 18th), 20 teams of college and university students, hailing from such diverse corners as Kentucky and Germany, will be competing to design, build and operate their very own solar-powered houses.  The goal is to make them as energy-efficient as possible while still being aesthetically pleasing and practical to live in. In fact, one of our very own at Autonomie Project is down in DC competing himself. Kevin will be representing Boston Architectural College and Tufts University through designing and constructing the Curio House.

The Decathlon is split into three phases: first, the teams put their collective brains together to design their homes using high-tech solutions in unique ways, and then raise the funds and coordinate with contractors to build them.  Next, each team must disassemble their house, transport it to the national Mall in DC and reassemble it.  Finally, the competition begins as each team and home is evalutaed in ten different areas: architecture, market viability, engineering, lighting design, communications, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment and net metering (reading how much energy the home consumes over the course of the competition). The juries assessing each area are compromised of scholars and working professionals at the head of their particular field.

This is the fourth Decathlon, the others having occurred previously at intervals of two years.  The contest is always growing, involving more students and universities, and the event brings more than 100,000 people out each time to walk among and interact with the teams and their homes. This is a very special chance to venture into a world that may very well reflect the needs and hopes of a future in crisis. If you have the chance, we highly recommend you take it and go get lost in the solar village!  All of the above information and much more can be found on the event website. We want to send our special thanks to the members of the Curio House and we wish Kevin and the rest the best of luck!

Van Jones at Green Festival Photo by EarthwormA couple weeks ago, the White House announced that long time Green advocate, Van Jones will be joining them on the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). He will have the title of special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. This comes as great news to environmentalists! Many see this as an opportunity to really bring green job creation to the forefront. And if anyone deserves this honor, it certainly is Van Jones. 

Van Jones has a long history of being involved with the Green movement, long before it was accepted by mainstream America. He helped found great organizations such as Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Green For All. He has been pivotal in his Green message and promoting movements like Green Jobs Now. His tireless efforts to help end poverty and cut pollution have not gone unnoticed. Especially after he published his groundbreaking and popular book The Green Collar Economy this past October. Now after decades of work on both the environment and inner city poverty, Van Jones will  have a chance to put his ideas to work!

Group Photo - Green For All @ Power Shift Photo By greenforall.orgIts safe to say Van Jones has laid the groundwork for a eco-social steps towards a realistic solution. Let’s just hope the next few years, we will all see the fruits of his labor. We are proud that such an amazing activist was chosen to serve with the Obama administration! He is certainly a very qualified leader and environmentalist who has a chance to really overhaul our workforce and help save our failing economy. So we feel incredibly confident Van Jones can help bring real green job development to the nation and look forward to watching the next few years play out!

While down in DC for the inauguration, we decided to check out some of the local vegan options. One that caught my eye was Soul Vegetarian Restaurant. Being from Boston, there isn’t much soul food around or at least not vegan style. It was quite an adventure to find the restaurant as it was not in a central local. The print out we had stated it was right near a metro stop, however we had to walk about 10 blocks, which isn’t SO bad, but when its the dead of winter it can be worth it! The entire menu is vegan and their take on soul food really is excellent. Even with the walk, we were thoroughly impressed! And so is DC apparently, as the restaurant won 2008′s Best Vegetarian Dive in the Washington City Paper.

http://www.soulvegetarian.com/restaurants.php

The restaurant is nestled right near Howard University and upon reading reviews and as the name suggest we expected a full restaurant. When we arrived it was just a small take out place with limited seating. We didn’t mind this setting, it just wasn’t what we were expecting! The staff was friendly, laid back, and talkative. And the prices are totally worth the trek! Anywhere from $4-$9! They have daily specials that include several soy alternatives like pepper steak, tofu nuggets, and spaghetti with protein balls. Plus, our favorite baked mac n’ cheese! On top of the daily specials they also have everyday sandwiches, tacos, and pizzas you can order.  It does take a bit of time if you are ordering anything other than the daily specials, so be prepared to wait. My only complaint was that all the food is served in Styrofoam containers. Hopefully they will look into compostable containers for the future.

Baked Mac N Cheese Special

Baked Mac N Cheese Special

We decided to share the daily special of Baked Mac n’ Cheese, Green Beans, and Tofu Teriyaki and we also ordered a BBQ Tofu Sub which came with Candied Yams and Jerusalem Bakes! All of these dishes were quite delectable and filling! The Baked Mac n’ Cheese melted in our mouths and it is seriously the best vegan mac n’ cheese I have ever had! The BBQ tofu was really good as they baked the tofu in strips, smothered them with BBQ sauce, and wrapped them in a thick pita with veggies. Mmmm mmmm that sub was good! We also really enjoyed the candied yams, they were just sweet enough and we usually only eat that dish at Thanksgiving! This was the first time we had tried the Jerusalem Bakes which were thick potato wedges with a breading around them. It was definitely a filling meal!

On top of their service counter they have stacks of all types of vegan cakes made by the local bakery Sweet-n-Natural, located in nearby Maryland. The cakes ranged from cheesecake to carrot cake, but we decided to go with something a little less standard called a PinaColada Cake! The cake tasted exactly like what you would think! A whole lot of pineapple and coconut, but still very sweet and very moist. This was definitely a great end to our meal and we even had a little left over for breakfast the next day!

The restaurant also does brunch on Sundays. We were unable to attend this time, but according to locals the brunch is worth checking out! On a flyer we picked up it listed American favorites such as pancakes and cornbread. Next time we are in DC we will definitely have to check it out.

So if you are in the mood for greasy down home soul cooking, we suggest you check out Soul Vegetarian Cafe in DC. The food is perfect for that great comfort food in the winter or for long study sessions.  Let us know your experience or your favorite dish!

Soul Vegetarian Restaurant

2606 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 328-7685

img_0103As I mentioned last week, I headed to Washington on Sunday January 18th to witness this historic inauguration as well as partake in some celebrations! I just wanted to take a moment to share my experiences with you. Without sounding too sentimental I want to say that I could not possibly express in words the feeling and buzz that engrossed that city for the four days I was there. I have never witnessed such an overwhelming and inspiring moment, especially caused by one man. And an American politician at that! But the country is ailing and this is exactly the shift we need.

img_0058The night before the inauguration I was lucky enough to attend the Manifest Hope (sponsored by MoveOn.org, Obey, and SEIU) party. The party was in celebration of the inauguration and artists had filled the gallery with some powerful pieces all inspired by Obama’s campaign. They were also themed around three major ideas that MoveOn.org is focusing on: Healthcare, Worker’s Rights, and Green Economy. The party was exciting and featured awesome performances by Santogold, Moby, and De La Soul. I even mustered up the courage to introduce myself to Moby and talk about veganism. I also briefly met Arnold Schwarzenegger as he strolled through the gallery. Even Rosario Dawson was attending and looked stunning(I’m a big fan of hers)! She was rockin out with the music and was more than nice to all of us commoners! The crowd was energized and we were all excited for tuesday’s events! We met a lot of great people from all over and we even sung Goodbye to Bush. The party raged until the wee hours of the morning as we all headed home for a few hours of rest.

img_0101The next morning I awoke and braved the crowds and frigid weather to make my way to the National Mall. It was about 17 degrees out and I had to walk about 10 miles through freeway ramps, tunnels, through bushes, and even over fences to make my way there! We stood in the cold for hours with millions of other Americans of all races, creeds, and economic status. Even though people were standing and walking for hours, the mood was jubilant. Everyone was helping and looking out for each other. Even the riot police and national guards were calm and so nice. They were not yelling at anyone, they just smiled and asked us all where we were from. I have img_0109never witnessed anything so moving. After hours of standing in the cold and being packed so tight with people we couldn’t breathe, I realized I was no where near a jumbo screen or speakers. So my friend and I decided it would be best if we jumped into a local bar so we could actually hear his speech. We experienced the best of both worlds, with the crowd raging outside and inside the bar, we watched the groundbreaking ceremony.

But really the biggest experience I had was meeting people from all over the world and the sentiment in the city. I have been to DC many times, but have never felt so connected to everyone there. No one minded the cold or the lines or the packed Metro. The police and locals were incredibly accommodating. We were interviewed by tons of press and everyone just seemed optimistic, like we had woken up out of an 8 year nightmare. I met people from as far away as Finland and as close as my neighborhood in Boston.
img_0054Obama may not be perfect and I may not agree with everything he does, but the man is competent and inspiring. To watch that many people brave the weather and travel from far off lands just to hear him speak brought tears to many eyes. He brings a new era of hope and responsibility to our country. We can only hope he lives up to his promises. I hope the optimism lasts but that people still challenge him, as he is human, and a politician at that. Let’s not forget what unwatched power can bring. And the road ahead will not be easy, but at least I feel relieved that our nation lays in the hands of an intelligent and inspirational man. I will never forget that day.
-Gina from Autonomie Project
A crowd of cheerful supporters on their way to National Mall
We took over the freeway tunnels!
Where we hung out with massive crowds!
Braving the cold for Obama!
The morning after–Obama’s house now!
Some Obama Swag from the Streets
Sporting Autonomie at the Manifest Hope Party
De La Soul working the crowds at the Manifest Hope Party
Dancing on Stage with Moby at the Manifest Hope party
Meeting Arnold as he made an appearance through the gallery
Manifest Hope Gallery
Obama inspired sculpture of wires
A New Era of Responsibility


Washington DC is gearing up for the millions of people (myself included) heading there to partake in the inauguration celebration. With the influx of people in the city, they are buckling down for long crowds as well as tons of trash! So what will they do with all that trash? The city and inauguration event staff have taken on thousands of volunteers to ensure the trash around the city is picked up. On top of keeping the streets clean, the plan is to recycle most if not all of the trash collected during the celebration. Along with the trash collection,  this green team will be collecting the manure left behind from all the horses ridden by the police. The manure will then be sold to local farms.

On top of the recycling program, Obama’s inauguration celebration includes some great other green moves such as recycled paper used for invitations and all materials used for catering the dinner will be recyclable and biodegradable. All attendees are asked not to drive and expected to take the Metro, even in full evening gear. 

There are also several Green Inauguration Balls planned including one on Monday featuring Al Gore and one planned for tonight featuring entertainment from Wyclef Jean and hosted by several groups including Discovery Channel’s Planet Green and Green Corps

Finally, during the parade, several floats are recycled from previous parades intentionally to reduce waste of making new floats. The heat shields intended to keep the parade participants warm on the bitter winter day will be donated to local homeless shelters after the event.

So these changes may seem small and won’t stop global warming per se, but it sets an example and possibly a tone for how Obama’s administration will take Green seriously. For the very first time a president has worked along with the EPA to make sure the inauguration has the smallest impact possible. If that isn’t a sign of things to come, than I don’t know what is! See you all in DC and let’s celebrate our democracy in an eco-friendly way!

obamaIn just a few more days, we will welcome a new president and hopefully we will see the change we voted for! This weekend in the DC area there is all kinds of parties, events, and parades going on in celebration for the inauguration. If you are down in the are we highly suggest you check out DC Manifest Hope Gallery. Sponsored by MoveOn.org, SEIU, and Obey, the gallery is featuring political and inspired art work by a number of artists who exude the message that Obama carried through his campaign. 

The art is supposed to push into action three main areas of reforms, and all three are important to us here at AP: Worker’s Rights, Healthcare Reform, and the Green Economy. The gallery will be open Friday January 17th through Monday January 19th from 10am-6pm to lead up to the inauguration. 

So if you are in the DC area, please come by the gallery!: meet some people (Gina from AP included), check out the art, and maybe even get inspired. Hope to see you soon! It’s going to be an interesting weekend to say the least.

MANIFESTHOPE: DC

January 17th-19th, 2009
10:00am – 6:00pm

3333 M Street NW, Washington DC 20007

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