Ellen & Abs on Apples | Video

I’m lucky to call Ellen one of my best friends. With her massive green eyes and gorgeous smile, she’s a total beauty. But what makes her irresistibly sexy are her hands:  She’s a California farmer who works the land almost every day, and her hands–rough and calloused from the ranch–testify to her passion.

Ellen and I have always connected through the kitchen–we love seasonal, regional whole-foods prepared simply. In the below Google Hangout, she and I catch-up from our respective homes across the Atlantic, talking about a favorite fall treat: Apples. xoxo, abs

Love in the Time of Cholera

Hot Chocolate
Hot Chocolate
Campari

Food, drink, and friendship go hand-in-hand. This is an ode to Timo, my dear and brilliant Finnish companion whose awkward social skills, shy smile, and unflinching devotion to substance win me over again and again and again.

This is an ode to Timo, whose near-aversion to alcohol means that he drinks hot-chocolate to my Italian bitters, just like a little boy. This is an ode to Timo, who taught me to make crème brulee and bakes me vegan brownies just to prove he can. This is an ode to Timo, because he is courageous, because he cares, because he is. This is an ode to Timo, because sometimes it’s scary for a girl to live abroad all alone, so far away from the language and customs that are familiar, and not knowing who she can really trust. This is an ode to Timo, because sometimes it’s not always easy for a girl to be brave, and sometimes she just needs a guy around to let her cry, and who will say the dumb, simple things that we need in life to help us see it through.

Thanks, dude. I’m glad you exist. And I’m glad that we found each other—all the way from Helsinki, Finnland and Holliday, Texas. Sorry if this embarrasses you, but I just had to say it aloud. And, what’s more, you’ll get over it, because I know you’re a sucker for me/weird/cute.

New York Times Publishes ‘(Vegan) Brunch Options Abound in East Berlin’

I first published this for The New York Times ‘In Transit’ section. 

Photo Credit: Roland Anton Laub
Photo Credit: Roland Anton Laub

Germany’s traditional gastronomic portfolio is as meat-centric as they come, but Berlin’s contemporary food-culture has started shrugging off its carnivorous past in favor of, well, plants. An enduring bohemian spirit and newfound cosmopolitanism have cultivated fertile culinary ground for the city’s emergence as the continent’s vegetarian capital. Here, cruelty-free cuisine holds special sway for weekend brunchgoers — in Berlin, where you dine for Sunday morning das Frühstuck carries as much social import as where you partied on Saturday night. Three East Berlin establishments offering vegan brunch options rise to the occasion.

Kopps, a new kid on the block in the much-hyped Mitte district, is an upscale dining spot specializing in plant-based versions of historic Deutschland dishes. The head chef Björn Moschinski’s innovative re-creations include Veganer Hackepeter (sans minced pork) and Kräuterbutter (with coconut oil instead of cow’s milk). His kitchen emphasizes quality, regional produce sourced from small farmers in nearby Brandenberg. (Brunch buffet served Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 10.90 euros ($14.25).)

Café Morgenrot is a last-stand workers’ collective in the now gentrified Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, where the current proliferation of designer baby strollers rivals that of Park Slope in Brooklyn. Morgenrot, however, holds true to East Berlin’s socialist roots — with bric-a-brac décor, radical politics, a weekly feminist knitting circle, and a mostly-vegan weekend brunch where patrons pay according to a sliding-scale system. (Brunch buffet served Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 to 9 euros sliding scale.)

Ohlàlà Tartes Shop, nestled on an unassuming street in punk-inflected Friedrichshain, features enlightened vegan interpretations of classical French fare — from crêpes and quiche, to pain au chocolat and pain perdu. The mauve-painted cafe is the creation of the Parisian ex-pat and burlesque dancer Clarissa Orsani, who constructed Ohlàlà’s spacious open kitchen with her own two hands. (Brunch buffet served Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; seating unlikely without reservation.)

Contributing Columnist Helly Parsons Dishes on ‘Tanzanian Beans’

Helly Parsons hails from New Zealand, that sweet Pacific landmass where the climes are perennially warm and the culture laid-back and loving. She and I first met at the Unlike City & Travel Guide headquarters in Berlin, where Helly works as a marketer and I am an editor. When she first told me about Tanzanian Beans, a plant-based meal with a Kiwi twist, I knew that this golden gal was onto something special–so I invited her to share the love. Take it away, Helly!

Tanzanian Beans

I’m quite proud of New Zealand’s culinary culture. As a small, green country, we’re never far from the farm and fields and we pride ourselves on local and seasonal produce.The country’s food identity is very much an ethnic mash-up. As well as our Maori heritage, we’ve assimilated onto the table edible offerings from Asia, the Mediterranean and the Pacific Rim. It’s the British influence, however that is the strongest, and in New Zealand, it’s meat-based meals that reign.

As a predominantly carnivorous nation, my naïve first impressions of vegetarian and vegan cuisine lead me to believe a few lettuce leaves garnished with cherry tomatoes was as good as it got. Fortunately, my curiosity and years of exploration have uncovered a wealth of delicious and exciting plant-based eats. My absolute favorite vegetarian dish is called Tanzanian Beans. Brimming with flavor, it’s an exotic potato and bean combo accented with citrus & spices. Delish!

The ingredients.
The preparation.
The eats!

Tanzanian Beans

What you need:

  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli or 1 tsp of chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dried coconut
  • 2 cups of cooked or canned beans (2 or 3 varieties with mixed color is good- black eyed
  • peas, kidney beans, white beans etc)
  • 1 cup parboiled potatoes diced (approx. 2 potatoes)
  • ½ cup of diced parboiled carrots (approx. half a carrot)
  • Juice of half a lemon or lime
  • Oil

What you do:

  • Pour a few glugs of oil into a pan.
  • Add garlic, onion and chili. Sauté for a few minutes, then add remaining herbs and spices.
  • Add coconut and stir.
  • Add beans, potatoes and carrots.
  • Mix well to coat the veggies and allow to simmer for 5-10 mins.
  • Pair with green veggies or chapatti and complement with a dollop of coconut cream.

New York’s Candle 79 Mixologist Kyle Bullen’s Exclusive Eating with Abs Autumnal Cocktail

New York-based Kyle Bullen transitioned from his career as a male model into his current role as a lead mixologist in the fine-dining sector. His passion for and commitment to animal advocacy first lead him to Millenium Restaurant in San Francisco–the most-upscale vegan eatery on the West Coast–and then to New York’s über-posh Candle 79 in Manhattan, where he fashions artisanal cocktail recipes and manages the bar. He’s super-handsome, has a heart of gold, and helped edit the just-published Candle 79 Cookbook. Below, he concocts a special autumnal cocktail using Eating with Abs’ favorite purveyor of organic, eco-friendly spirits–Puro Verde Tequila. Take it away, Kyle–it’s a true honor to have you contribute!

I get excited when autumn rolls around. I love working with flavors of summer, but my enthusiasm is far more aroused when I see the rising towers of pumpkins, apples, pomegranates, and other fall favorites along the street-side farmers’ markets of New York City. The colors and flavors this time of year take me back to gatherings with my family in Ohio, childhood trips to the apple orchard for fresh cider, and walks through colorful forests with my father, the trees showering us with falling leaves.

The name of this year’s Autumnal Cocktail at Candle 79, Mexican Apple doesn’t quite transport you to Ohio, but having spent several years living in San Francisco amongst a true melting pot of people in my early 20s, I’ve come to appreciate the integration of flavors inspired by a medley of cultural and culinary traditions.

My gift of feeling and thinking in flavors is the life source of my drinks. When I create a cocktail, I start with one base flavor in mind. For the ‘Mexican Apple’ it was Puro Verde’s Reposado Tequila. It has a clean, fresh taste that I knew would pair well with one of the most classic seasonal libations, hard apple cider. My favorite apple brew, Doc’s Draft, is locally made with New York State apples, a natural choice, with a crisp, dry flavor.

Kyle in-action this Thanksgiving at Candle 79

After selecting these two dominate tastes, the rest is about layering and weaving other interesting flavorful notes to create an exciting dance on the tongue. Finally, bitters ties this cocktail together seamlessly on the palate. And so the Mexican Apple was born and found its home on this year’s Candle 79 Thanksgiving Libations menu.

Only subtly sweet, the Mexican Apple is a refreshing cocktail with balanced fall flavors, delicate enough for a meal, but equally delightful sipped on its own!

Mexican Apple Cocktail Recipe

  • Glassware: 12 oz. rocks glass
  • 1 ½ oz. Puro Verde Organic Reposado Tequila
  • ¾ oz. Pomegranate concentrate
  • ¾ oz. Vanilla bean infused agave simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Bar Keep Apple Pie bitters
  • 2 ½ oz. Dry hard apple cider
  • Ice
  • Apple wheel Garnish

Instructions: Add all ingredients over ice and stir. Garnish with an apple wheel.

To make the vanilla bean agave simple syrup, mix equal parts water and agave with vanilla bean. You may substitute a dash of vanilla extract with the bean. If you cannot find pomegranate concentrate, use juice. To balance the sweetness of juice, you may wish to use slightly less agave nectar. If you cannot find Bar Keep Bitters, use one dash of the classic, Angostura Aromatic Bitters. In my recipe, I use Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider.

Soups Ahoy!

The best part of living in Berlin is leaving the city and subsequently coming back. Every time I return to the threshold of this strange and dark metropolis, something in my spirit sighs with sweet relief. After my weekend foray in Dresden–a swell, little slice of East German heaven–nothing helped me settle in more than the preparation of a simmering pot of soup.

You all know that I don’t do fancy and utterly abhor recipes–how trite and dull. For me, it’s all about throwing in whatever seasonal vegetables I picked up from the organic market that morning and then making a little impromptu magic. It’s super-hydrating, super-nourishing, super-warming and absolutely wunderbar (that means ‘wonderful’ in Deutsch, y’all). xxo, abs

Lovely leeks all sliced up and ready for action.
Organic, German-made bouillon for a little shebang.
No meal is complete without crucifers, and broccoli is my personal penchant.
Carrots noir...
Lentils pack a price-savvy, protein-rich punch.
I love a blend of Jasmine and Basmati organic, fair-trade rices.
Voila!