Dani and I were in the same class in the screenwriting department at NYU Tisch, back in 1999 when we were young and hungry. Now she’s employed and living the diploma-born dream in the big city while I have more crows’ feet and the same dress size that I had way back when, only without any extra junk in the trunk from stolen bottles of Zima and late night pancake runs to the Waverly Diner. Our friendship - cultivated through East Coast cynicism and biting wit - has prevailed.
Oh, I should add, Danielle is an omnivore.
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Dani: Hey, I ate at a vegan restaurant last night. Moby's place
Ainsley: Teany? Did you like it?
Dani: Yeah, Teany. Yeah, it was great.
Ainsley: What did you eat?
Dani: I had mac and cheese with bacon, soy bacon. I’m actually not sure if some things are vegetarian and others vegan. Like maybe my cheese was real, but I’m not sure.
Ainsley: Ok. Ok, this is good. This is research. What were the outward signs that it was vegan? And why did you eat there?
Dani: Outward signs? Skinny model types smoking outside. And a spaceship. I don't know. I ate there 'cause my friend told me it was really good and another guy at work's girlfriend told me the same thing. They're both vegetarians. I also wanted a cupcake from Babycakes and it’s right near there so I thought it would be a good plan. It was a whole wholesome night.
Ainsley: Yeah, being vegan's good for you. When you're not only eating canned refried beans and Cream of Wheat, hold the cream.
Dani: You‘re not vegan, you‘re crazy with an anorexic wallet. We ended up having red velvet cake at Moby's. Babycakes was closed when we got there.
Ainsley: How was the red velvet? (Is velvet a vegan material?) Vegan cake is usually good, especially if it's made by tattooed boys who restore classic cars. Yum.
Dani: It was ok, but not as good as Babycakes. It had that slightly stale quality. Like paste.
Ainsley: Oh. the moisture issue. Yeah.
Dani: I really liked eating there. If vegan was made that easy for me all the time I’d do it. I think it's noble, I just don’t have the patience, time, energy, money, what-have-you. They also had good drinks. And the place is comfortable and not irritatingly vegan like most places I’ve been. The people are not obnoxious.
Ainsley: What constitutes irritatingly vegan? I know irritating vegans, but irritatingly vegan? What do you mean?
Dani: I don't know, I can't put my finger on it exactly. For example, there's a place in my hood called Quantum Leap...
Ainsley: Ah, Scott Bakula. That's one small step for an herbivore, but one giant leap for a cattle rancher...
Dani: ...Which is your typical West Village vegan/vegetarian joint. It is awful. Only people who really can't eat normal food will eat there. And the waiters are weird.
Ainsley: What do you mean by weird?
Dani: I could do impressions of them if I were in person. Like, one of them wears a floppy hat and gets right up in your face every time she has to ask you something. If you ask her a question she looks upward for so long it looks like she is getting the answer out of her hat. And she talks really low and whispery, which is I guess why she needs to be up in your face.
Dani: I keep trying to shout at her before she actually gets to the table.
Ainsley: Maybe she's hearing impaired or something.
Dani: Also, the places are usually grimy and Moby's is fresh and sparkly. It doesn't look like they are shunning all things yummy inside. And there are bottles of "Seventh Generation" cleaner everywhere, which I liked. I like knowing that the restaurant I'm eating in gets cleaned every now and then.
Ainsley: He showed you the cleaner? Was Moby there plugging his new album or saving the pandas?
Dani: No, it was just out on the counter. And, no, Moby wasn’t there but it kind of makes you feel like you’re seeing Moby without actually seeing him. Moby imitators everywhere or something. It's Mobyesque. Simple, new age, bald, shiny.
Ainsley: Somewhat pretentious yet simultaneously irresistible. Lucky. God, I miss New York. Hey, can I write about this?
Dani: I'll give you all my memories and you can claim them because I am not writing a vegan blog.
Ainsley: You mean you're not starving in the name of art. You're just making money and eating a vegan meal and not documenting your slow descent into a duodenal ulcer.
Dani: Something like that.
Dani: Also what was cool, I wanted a regular lemonade and they only had all these lavender lemonades and whatnot. So I asked for one and the waiter said he would try to make it for me and wouldn’t charge me.
Ainsley: Lavender. The stuff my mom puts in her underwear drawer to make sure the moths don't eat her skivvies.
Dani: Yeah, I didn't want that. I wanted regular lemonade...
Ainsley: Lemonade flavored lemonade.
Dani: …So the waiter tried to make it for me and it tasted great, very natural. So cute. The place is also pretty cheap, about $10 to $12 for an entree.
Ainsley: That's about how much I'd expect it to be. Got to fund the synthesizers.
Dani: I wonder how they make soy bacon.
Ainsley: Soy pigs.
Dani: Like, how many ingredients does it take to achieve the flavor of bacon without bacon? That can't be healthy. But they couldn't do the dish without the not-bacon-bacon, which is interesting. If you're a vegetarian you expect to go to a regular restaurant and get your dish sans bacon, but if you are a meat-eater and don't want fake bacon, you can't get it without.
Ainsley: Bacon’s gross anyway.
Dani: Can you picture people sitting up there with different bottles mixing together going, "Taste like bacon yet?" Like, there are people in white coats standing around with test tubes in some secret testing facility or something. "Is it lemon plus guarana plus wheat plus leaves...?"
Ainsley: And Moby with a mortar and pestle. Maybe the magic ingredients are, like, crushed walrus tusks. And mermaid scales. Or just salt.
Dani: It's funny you mention that. I felt healthy when I left except my fingers were swollen. There must have been a lot of salt.
Dani: Yeah. like a bowl of nachos and giant margarita's worth. I get that sometimes, usually after I eat Chinese food. There are two restaurants here where I know I can eat the vegan food and be ok.
Ainsley: The vegan food?
Dani: Yeah. The vegan food. I can eat it and be fine, but only at these two places.
Ainsley: And by fine you mean not swell?
Dani: No, I mean, like feel one-hundred percent healthy after. I guess you never know what's in some of that stuff. Do you think it's because you they generally put too much other crap in it to make it taste good?
Ainsley: I think they put too much crap in to make it taste like other crap.
Dani: Yes. well if they're going to be putting that much crap in it, I might as well stick to my usual crap that tastes better.
Ainsley: I think I'm irritatingly vegan. To my colon.