Sorry to be THAT guy…

especially on Halloween, but I interrupt your candy binging with big news!

2rbOGA.jpg

That’s not news to anybody…. Here’s the real news:
I have officially bought my first domain and website!

All the content you love on sweettoothnothings.wordpress.com has been transferred over to my fancy schmancy new site: sweettoothtravels.com

It’ll be more professional, hopefully.
More monetarily beneficial for me, hopefully.
And… it’s way less characters to type into your browser, for sure!

Unfortunately, that does mean you will have to click the ‘Follow’ button and enter your email address again. Laaame. The bright side is, once you verify your email address, you’ll automatically be alerted of my new posts. Huzzah!

So, please go ahead and follow more of my adventure at sweettoothtravels.com.
I won’t be posting on this site anymore!
Also be sure to share my posts, follow my Instagram and Twitter, comment, and even buy a product or two.
Admittedly, I do get a percentage of the sales, but most of my money goes to travel and foster dogs, anyways. It’s a win-win!

If there’s a product you’d like me to advertise or somewhere you’d recommend I become an affiliate, please let me know. Mama needs a new dog harness!

Not to mention, if you have a business with which you’d like some support, let me know! I’m happy to help, collaborate, or do whatever I can to get your business going.

Thank you, thank you, thank you ALL for your continuing support. I adore ya.
Happy Halloween!

Instagram: @sweettoothtravels

Twitter: @sweettoothvegan

large.gif

 

 

Advertisements

Fun in AC for Everyone!

Never in a million years would I have believed that I’d be anxious to go to Atlantic City. Not even once, much less twice in one year! What do they have to offer little, innocent me? Aside from parties, great food, a beautiful beach, amazing hotels and casinos, gorgeous people, and an indescribable energy….

unnamed-14

This time I was in Atlantic for two days and a night with the fella to whom I introduced you last time, and his son. They really made the experience even better. We drove the two hours from Jersey City to Atlantic City in their family Lexus with Top 100 Hits playing in the background as we discussed life, death, and everything in between. Let me tell you, these two are quite a pair; the laughs and fun are endless!

A great soundtrack for your adventure:

You Want It Darker

My one concern was that his 19 year old son would be bored! However, we discussed the plan and made sure everyone would be entertained and content. After all, drinking, gambling, and partying are not the only things to do in Atlantic City. Not to mention, there was plenty of food! What does a teenage boy love more than food?

When we got to AC, we were tired, but not ready to stop just yet. We ate at the Asian restaurant in Harrah’s Resort and Casino- where we were staying for the night. They didn’t have too many vegan options, but I had edamame and they each had sushi and sashimi.
After some wandering and window shopping, the young guy was exhausted and went to hang out with my dog in the room. Meanwhile, the two big kids went to Harrah’s ‘Pool After Dark’! Considering how many cars were in the self-park garage, the crowd seemed slim. Still, we grabbed a drink and partied with Ja Rule; he was the guest host that night.
Now, that’s a name I haven’t heard in awhile!

The funny thing about the ‘Pool After Dark’ is that no one ever seems to be in the pool. Everyone creeps around it, trying not to fall in. Though, two brave men were chilling out on pool floats in their swimming trunks this time. They looked comfortable. Everyone else just congregated in cliques and danced like only people from New Jersey can dance. new_jersey_pumps_fists_classic_round_sticker-re4aea560380e431e9890426d396bd2a9_v9waf_8byvr_324We did what we came to do: pump our arms and lose money! Well, he lost money. I did my usual one-game-only: one roll in roulette– black. Doubled my money and walked away. Like a champ. Once hunger struck, we went to the 24 hour hotel cafe. He got a fruit tart that looked a bit frigid and sad, and I got an apple. A green Granny Smith apple. Will I never learn to carry snacks with me everywhere I go? We ate our late night snack, and went off to bed just in time for the sun to rise.

Next time, I’m bringing these:

KIND Bars, Dark Chocolate

The next day was no less fun or eventful. After a long, satisfying meal in the Borgata’s buffet, we did a little more window shopping. This time we made a huge purchase- a black and grey hoodie with the name ‘Borgata’ on it. For me, of course!

Unfortunately, we once again did not plan ahead well enough and missed out on seeing a show. The shows were later in the evening and nothing that we were too interested in seeing. Eyeing the rain outside, and knowing how anxious his son was to see the movie Jack Reacher, we went to a movie theatre not far from Tropicana . It looked like a shabby theatre from the outside, but the inside was large, clean, very buttery smelling, and, once the movie started, the darkness was impenetrable. The movie itself wasn’t my cup of popcorn, but it was lively and fun to watch it together. The group who fights bad guys together, stays together.

After this, just as we thought we we were ready to pack up and go, there was a realization that everyone was tired and hungry again. Hungry and tired. Driving two hours in a car together when everyone is hungry and tired is just asking for trouble. We couldn’t do much for the sleepiness, aside from some energy drinks, but the hunger could be solved with no difficulty at all. When we discovered there was a Buddakan in Caesar’s Palace, we knew where to go.

The Buddakan in New York City is absolutely awe-inspiring, but I’ll admit, I think Caesar’s version may have it trumped. Starting with the hotel’s recreation of Ancient Greece, and then a major scenery change into a faux boardwalk, we were under the Greek spell. We walked down the “boards”, looked out at the real beach with its setting sun, and entered a darkened hallway. Once you start down this pathway, you can’t help but turn your attention to the long, amber glass table leading to Buddha himself. Sitting with legs closed and heart open, he entices you to come forth, be seated, and eat!

unnamed-8

We did eat. Although the waitress tried to convince us that a salad and two entrees would not be enough, we restrained our grumbling tummies, and decided to only order more as necessary. We’re very responsible… and stubborn. Nonetheless, the waitress and all the wait staff were extraordinarily friendly, patient, and concerned with our comfort.

I was surprised at the limited number of vegan options, but some of the dishes could be adjusted to fit vegan needs. In the end, I went with the tofu and cashew dish and requested a side of spicy sauces. Can’t skimp on the spice!
Considering that 2/3 of the members of our table were staunch animal eaters, the salad really did get nabbed up quickly. Between the voracious hunger and the amazing ginger dressing, that salad didn’t have a chance.

As far as the main meals, I can’t speak for the shrimp lo mein, but the cashew and tofu was a delight! Being slightly less starved and deprived at this point, we had an opportunity to appreciate all aspects of this dish and its elements. Cashew and tofu protein aside, there was mint and pineapple and eggplant, too! Truly a little of everything, and all the parts of the puzzles added their own unique touch.

When it came time for the end of the meal, we were all completely satisfied and ready for the drive back. Stuffed to the gills and all! Good thing we had mentioned it was my birthday! Not that it was my birthday, but it “was” my birthday. Y’know? It was quite a surprise when along came a little cardboard box wrapped in a red bow. There was no birthday song, but the single lit candle was perfect. I unwrapped my gift and smelled the most amazing chocolate stank of my life. It was glorious.

Unfortunately, upon asking, we learned that the waitress had forgotten I was vegan. Goodbye, my sweet sweet! Fortunately, I was with two men who truly cared about me and were willing to eat my brownie for me. Plus, the embarrassed and guilty waitress brought over a strawberry sorbet that I could eat! Not my ideal dessert, but I ate it without a care or fret in the world.

unnamed-3

No hard feelings, Buddakan, this was my punishment for lying, I suppose.

Once fed, packed up, and filled with a heart full of joy from a marvelous day, we headed to the car with feet dragging and a little whisper in our ears to “stay… staaayyyy!”

Finally, having forgotten my phone in the hotel earlier in the day, I asked for photos that my younger comrade collected throughout the day. With all we had done and seen and all the unforgettable memories and moments between the three of us, I was anxious to have images to hold onto and share. He forwarded me the three photos he took:

collage

Pictures of advertisements for chocolate from the hotel wall

That says it all, folks. That’s everything.

Click the ‘Follow’ button on the left to keep up with my adventure!

If you would like to work with me or submit your own post, contact me at:

sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

https://www.instagram.com/sweettoothtravels/

In the meantime, get satisfied!

‘Things to Try’ (click the link)


Asher’s Gourmet Pretzels, 1Lb


Vegan Street Food

My Top 10 Cities!

There is SO, SO much of the world left for me to see…. However, there is also a whole lot that I’ve already seen! I am SO LUCKY! All the countries I’ve visited have impacted me in some deep way, and the memories will always stay with me. Still, I know what I like and what I don’t like, and I take both seriously. With all the time and money that goes into travel, it’s helpful to have someone to point you in the right direction!

Four continents, over 30 countries, and 34  U.S. states in, my experience is both limited but also informed. People will often ask me, “Did you like ____?” or “Should I go to….?”

My answer is usually, “Yes. Do it.”

My attempt to make a list of “10 Worst Cities” was futile, as I couldn’t name a single place where I didn’t find something I loved! Call me easily amused, but I have had a ball around the world and in my very own little country of America. Sorry, kids, there will be no smack talk here today. However, there are definitely cities that stood out to me and hold a special place in my heart.

Now, without further ado, I shall attempt the near-impossible. I will take on the task that so many have tried and failed at (though, many have succeeded….)

Here is my list of ‘Top 10 Cities I’ve Visited and Loved’:

10. Bridgetown, Barbados. Not really one for beaches and palm trees, my expectations were low coming into Barbados. I was then extremely surprised to discover how special this Caribbean island is! The views, the people, and the laws were all… super chill. I got really excited when my tour guide informed me that people were allowed to pick fruit or catch fish and eat it without a permit or anything. It was a nature buffet! Plus, there were monkeys everywhere! Sign me up!

Sure, it’s full of big shot wealthy people going off for golf in the sunshine, but the everyday folk were just as happy, and probably happier- I know I was!

12642754_10207102954645016_436998188445365815_n.jpg

9. Tallinn, Estonia. Most people don’t think twice about Estonia. When my cruise ship set forth for this tiny country in Europe, no one was particularly thrilled…. Certainly not me, being as naive as I was.

When we arrived, my mind was quickly changed. I am not sure what it was exactly, but something about Tallinn warmed my heart. Maybe it’s this fact that got me thinking twice:

“Over the past two decades, this former Soviet-controlled nation — home to just 1.3 million people, or under one-sixth the size of New York City — has quietly become one of the most tech-savvy countries on earth. Estonia is the 79th smallest country in the world by population but holds the world record in startups per person. It has among the world’s fastest broadband speeds. The country teaches every kid how to code. Nearly all government services are conducted online. Citizens can access their health records in the cloud and pay for parking with their mobile phones.” (mic.com – https://goo.gl/Czn3pm)

Everyone loves cheering on the little guy, right? This was my chance. Go, Estonia, go!!

284939_4068772130422_199722094_n.jpg

8. Cleveland, Ohio. When I tell people I loved visiting Cleveland, I get some looks. The response is usually, “You’ve been all over the world, why OHIO!?”

Ohio because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ohio because of schoolchildren talking with me on their way home. Ohio because cotton candy in the casino, beautiful architecture, and really cool murals on buildings. That’s why.

I was surprised too, don’t get me wrong. But my curiosity for the unappreciated and unknown was enough reason to set out on the 12 hour bus ride to Ohio by myself. Not a day went by when I couldn’t find something new to do, somewhere new to go, or someone new with whom I could chat. Don’t listen to your enemies, Cleveland, you’re special to me!

Ohiocollage.jpg

7. Crete, Greece. All of the cities I’ve seen in Greece were gorgeous and quaint. Crete stood out for its exceedingly serene and delightful atmosphere. There’s the historical Knossos to admire, sweet alcohol to sample, and houses full of women making noodles by hand…. Plus, it’s incredible standing on a hill and overlooking olive trees as far as the eye can see! It’s a simple and expansive city with lots of work to do, but lots to offer, as well. One mustn’t forget to greet the goats and scraggly mutts wandering about, either.

P.S. If you enjoy traditions and silly walks, you’re in for a treat! You’ll have to catch the Change of the Guards in Athens… or just watch this video:

Oh! And don’t let me forget to mention the fantastic vegan leek pie I had with my refreshing Mythos beer!

10462802_10203333789098233_2236970629463951827_n

6. Amsterdam, Netherlands. I know what you’re thinking, you rascal. When most people think of Amsterdam, they think of the very liberal marijuana laws. Maybe you can’t help but swoon at the thought of it. And, honestly? It was nearly impossible to avoid weed in your face as you walk along. People don’t get “used to it”, it doesn’t become “the norm”. Everyone seems to use it a lot. Cafes and shops line the streets. Don’t even get me started on the Red Light District….

404096_4068833931967_1659129482_n

But if this is all you do during your visit to Amsterdam, you’re missing out!

Every night of my stay, I went to the local square to talk with unexpected new friends. I befriended a bunch of local and foreign musicians. We jammed and busked and had a great time, without so much as a single puff of “the weed”. I found it very easy to socialize in Amsterdam! There are hostels where one can stay or hang out, and I even befriended two Iranian men who were down for a late night party! Something about the peaceful walk along the water and the energy of the city put everyone in a bright and cheery mood.

collage

Plus, there’s a great tour of the Heineken brewery which includes a boat ride. It turns out, taking a boat tour with a group of drunk people is one of the most fun (and least educational) activities in which a person can partake.

5- New Orleans, Louisiana. No one will disagree with me if I say that NOLA is an amazing city to visit. With a nickname like “The Big Easy”, you know it’s gotta be good. The music, the food, the accent… it’s a groovin’ time.

This place is a big jam just waiting for someone to start the tune, which happens every minute on the minute. There’s no time for silence and stillness because the locals are just as anxious to start the party as the tourists. The bar is set pretty high, people expect a great time when they visit New Orleans, so the musicians have to deliver! If you’re not good enough, you’re going to be good enough, or you’re gonna have to go! Not that they’d tell you that, since everyone was so friendly. From day one I was part of the gang, I was family. They took care of me… as long as I slipped them a dollar or two.

10624735_10204693191682448_6100819661264828401_n

Feeling blue in the town of jazz and dixieland is simply impossible. If you’re down, you better be picking up your brass and getting right back up to play.

collage

4- Agra, India. With the Taj Mahal being in Agra, what more of a reason do you need to visit? Yeah, it really is that awe-inspiring. One might even say it’s “awesome”. You think you’ve seen a million photos and get it; you get the appeal and the beauty… but you don’t. Not until you can feel the flawless walls and the smooth stone under your feet. Amazingly, however, it’s not the only appeal of the city!

Have you heard of Sheesh Mahal? No, you haven’t. The name means ‘Crystal Palace’. Why? Because the walls are covered in thousands of tiny mirrors! The twinkle is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. There are a bunch of other forts and palaces and museums, as well. All with their own unique designs and features that will temporarily leave you forgetting to breathe. It’s breathtaking. And, hey, the super delicious Indian food doesn’t hurt one bit!

collage.jpg

3- Negev Desert, Israel. With so much focus on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, most people who visit Israel never get to see the “outer boroughs” (so to speak.) Fortunately, I had the right mind while in the country to find people who lived outside these major cities and knew them well. This means I went North and South, but I also went to the desert! Actually, I went to a 3-day music festival in the Negev Desert. I did this while staying with a friend/a tour guide I met on my first visit to Israel. He lives on a kibbutz with his family. This is an experience I super highly recommend. You will never experience anything like this again! It’s a commune for Jewish hippy families… how can you go wrong? With baby cows and organic fruits and veggies, it’s Heaven for anyone who loves nature and life.

collage

Although one would assume a desert is a place for cacti, camels, and people who are lost, there was a surprising abundance of LIFE in the Negev! You could just pick bright pink fruit off the cacti and bite into the sweet innards! No one has to starve in this land soy milk and agave nectar (get it? Like “milk and honey”?)

74495_10201624030875346_1263210384_n

If you like hiking, photogenic horizons, and communities of people full of nothing but compassion and generosity- the desert might be calling your name.

2- Rome, Italy. Is it wrong that my first thought about Rome is in French? I don’t care! Je t’aime! Je t’aime, Rome! The history, the beauty, the smells, the shopping, the people…. I just want to bottle it all up and wear it as a perfume. I would call it ‘Sublime’.

collage.jpg

If I could, I’d go back in time and marry Michelangelo. We’d live on the streets of Rome, create beautiful things, and drink wine all day.

With all the incredible architecture everywhere you go, fresh veggies in the market, and endless music in the streets, it’s crazy that they have even more to offer! Most importantly: the most passionate people I have ever met! The Romans bleed hearts and roses! They are so proud of their home and want to share it with any person who comes to visit. I was blown away by the warmth and enthusiasm I felt radiating from each and every Roman I met. They knew so much about their city and were so excited to share stories, history, and fun facts with me. A city so vegan-friendly, tourist-friendly, and love-obsessed is the town for me!

collage.jpg

1- New York City, USA. Guilty. I am guilty as charged. I am a New York loving, urbanized, city snob. I make no excuses, I offer no denial… I simply love New York City. No matter where I go, returning to The Big Apple gives me palpitations. The skyline is unbeatable, that’s a simple fact. Buildings come and go, but the beauty remains. Throw in any type of food you can imagine, a million and one fairs, festivals, and feasts, bars, cafes, parties, and protests, and you have yourself an amazing experience. Whatever ye seek, ye shall find.

No, not everyone is loving and kind, but everyone has a purpose, a place, and a role. It’s like the entire city is one apartment and every New Yorker is a roommate. We all play our part- love or hate, give or take. There’s an urgency to move and live. Room for hopes and dreams like no other place in the world. I may not have been everywhere yet, but I’ve been around enough to know that New York is special. It’s the class clown who disrupts the other kids, but everyone knows this kid will make something of himself. This kid is going places. He lives on his own terms, and that’ll get him everything he wants in life. Through the ups and downs… New York City is THE ONE.

collage.jpg

As time goes on, I am sure my Top 10 will change or adjust. That is because there is always more to see and do, and I can’t wait to see and do! What does your Top 10 look like? Did I heinously forget your favourite city/state/country? Let me know!

Click the ‘Follow’ button on the left to tune in for my next adventure!

If you would like to work with me or submit your own post, contact me at:

sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

https://www.instagram.com/sweettoothtravels/

In the meantime, get satisfied!

 

A Bar for the People by the People

How to Open a Successful Bar

A month or so ago, a bar opened up in Jersey City, NJ called Pet Shop. It was popular immediately, everyone was talking about it. To be fair, there’s quite a commotion anytime a new spot opens up in sweet, little Jersey City…. Still, there was a strategy to the creation that has helped it make a splash upon opening. Here are the top 10 reasons I think it’s succeeding and going to continue to do so.

  1. Great location. The group of people involved in this project had the funding to grab up a great spot. It’s a couple blocks from the really HOT area of Grove Street, but not too close, as to not get lost in the sea of bars. Pet Shop stands out and holds its own. It’s also on a corner where no one can miss it. You immediately see its black exterior and contrasting string lights. unnamed
  2. Smart design. Speaking of the exterior, this is a great example of less is more. Black is seemingly simple, but it automatically leaves one curious. This look could be a dive bar or a high-end lounge. You have no way of knowing what’s inside, but you know you really want to take a peek in. Everyone wants to look inside the black abyss. Once you’re inside, you can enjoy the interior design!
  3. Welcoming atmosphere. This where they excel, as well. The place is not intimidating, but it’s not dirty. There are stickers on the “jukebox” bragging for local vandals, but they don’t have graffiti everywhere giving the place the feel of a drug den. You have the option to sit at the bar with some friendly tenders, in the sit-down area with tables and a couch, or outside on the benches. This means any number of people can be comfortable, whether you’re on a first date, a business meeting, or bringing the kids for a meal.
  4. Outdoor space. Not everyone has the privilege of finding a space with a backyard, of course. Keep in mind, though, that this is something to aim towards. A yard space, even a tiny one, has become more and more common. People really love it. It means they can get some fresh air but still be part of the event. Or the entire event can be outdoors on a nice day. This one is nicely surrounded by brick walls, so noise to the outside is kept to a minimum. unnamed-6
  5. More than a bar. A jukebox is a cool touch for that vintage, nostalgic vibe. It also brings in a few bucks and allows patrons to choose their favourite tunes. However, stepping it up is always good. For example, Pet Shop also offers a pinball table and a functioning photo booth. You take your photo and get the print out in moments with the bar’s name on it. Marketing and fun all combined into one! If there’s room for even more, even better. As long as everything is looked after and keeps working.
  6. Not your average food menu. What really excited and intrigued people about the opening of Pet Shop was that it was to be vegetarian/vegan-friendly bar. This was a unique and uncertain twist. Would the people want a healthy, veggie snack after drinking? The good news is, it doesn’t have to be healthy, but it can be. With options like Bombay fries and “Pulled Pork” sandwiches, most people don’t really miss their fried chicken and beef ramen. Those are just a couple of options from the Summer menu, anyway. We all anxiously await the Fall and Winter menu!unnamed-2

    unnamed-8

    The Tres Pates. 3 bean-based spread on toast. 

  7. Interesting drink options. Getting rid of the old, reliable drinks is not an option, always have those handy. However, also throwing in something new that everyone wants to try is a must. Not Your Father’s Root Beer or Hell or High Watermelon are the drinks people are looking to try without committing to an entire 6-pack. Why not be the bar that offers those super hip drinks alongside an easy choice like Corona Light?unnamed-3
  8. No more sports bars. I like sports bars. I like the energy and excitement it creates. When people get together to eat nachos and scream at the television. However, we’ve got those. So, so many of those. What about a bar where people can sit and just look at each other and chat? Although, I do kind of like the idea of having one television in the corner for the lone drinkers, bored drinkers, and the drinkers who need somewhere to look during a bathroom break or pause in the conversation. Nothing wrong with a television, just use it in a unique way. Pet Shop always plays movies on their screen. No captions, no sound, just something to peek at now and then and maybe stir up a fun conversation.
  9. Know your audience. Jersey City is where the young professionals go after work in Manhattan. They’re trying to escape the high prices and the extremeness of everything. Being that escape is hard business, but it will pay off. If you’re looking to attract the classier or older crowd, know if that’s in your best interest, then know how you can do that. Maybe electronic music and sticky bar tops aren’t the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re looking to pull in the college kids, free chips and a dance space are probably good attributes, as long as local laws will allow dancing at your establishment. Yeah, there are laws about that.
  10. Research, network, and research some more. Laws and permits and ordinances are just the tip of the iceberg. If we’re talking about general attractiveness and desirability of your bar in order to maintain interest and keep people talking, you need to know what everyone else is doing right… or wrong. Get to know other bar owners; they’re better as allies than enemies. Support them and let them help support you. They’ll send people your way and do you good, as long as you return the deed. Speak kindly and generously of them. Get to know local companies, also. Get involved in the community, be willing (and excited) to go to fairs and give out merchandise and give out business cards. Have special deals, events, and themed nights. Have fun so your customers can have fun, and just maybe things will be a lot easier than you expect!
    Click the ‘Follow’ button below to tune in for my next adventure

    If you would like me to attend your event, review your product, or if you want to submit your food/travel review, contact me at:

    sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

    https://twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

    https://www.instagram.com/sweettoothtravels/

    In the meantime, get satisfied!

Fantastic Atlantic

When it came to my trip to Atlantic City, I had no idea what to expect. Extravagance and sleaziness? A bunch of old people in scooters and cargo shorts? Maybe all the college students of New Jersey gambling away their college savings?

What I got was everything and then some. Atlantic City has no particular type or crowd, it was everyone in one place! You definitely had your dirty and crooked folks, but they were alongside the young and naive and the old and debilitated. It was a free-for-all, and everyone was welcome! Some people even brought their kids and babies. That seemed a odd to me. What do the kids do all day? Aside from planning how to get alcohol, I guess….

Oh, and for the record, it’s true, there were no clocks and the alcohol was free. Yet, I didn’t see a single person passed out on the floor. Either AC has class, or is really good at sweeping up its deadbeats.

My friend and I had a room reserved at Harrah’s Resort and Casino for 2 days. We only planned to stay 2 days and a night, but we kept the room to avoid early checkout. Very much worth the extra cost.

unnamed-20

Harrah’s was a beautiful hotel! The room wasn’t overly ornate, but I am sure they are trying to keep people out of their rooms! Fair enough. The room was functional, either way. Plenty of space and lights, comfortable accommodations. That’s all I ask for in a room.

The rest of the space was quite shiny and exciting, so I definitely was ready to walk around. People were friendly and cheerful…. Though, I didn’t feel the excitement and thrill that I was expecting. There was no champagne flowing and glitzy cocktail dresses and screams of joy/dismay. Everyone at the tables looked quite serious.

unnamed-2.jpg

Note all the button-up checkered shirts. Looks like a bunch of computer guys took off for the weekend. They’re so used to sitting and staring at a computer screen that they don’t know what to do with themselves.

This trip made me rethink my camera choice. Using my iPhone 5c camera wasn’t really doing anything any favours. Most of the pictures are grainy, dark, and blurry. Sorry about that.

After some initial gambling and a couple free drinks, (I had me some champagne) we went to find food. The earliest reservation that we could get at the hotel’s Italian restaurant was for 10 PM. I guess that’s the Atlantic City life for ya! No problem, though, we had more casinos to see and wristbands to purchase. They were offering bracelets for $20 that would allow us into Harrah’sBorgata, and Golden Nugget. In just 4 hours we did a complete tour of these three, along with Trump’s Taj Mahal, (which is closing in October!) Caesar’s Palace, and Bally’s.

My friend and I agree that Golden Nugget sounded the most unpleasant. Neither of us liked that name, but their music was the best by far. Harrah’s Pool After Dark was the coolest, I think. It was beautiful and felt ritzy. The atmosphere and energy really pulled us in and got us excited. Not to mention, Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell made an appearance. After running into him and chatting with him throughout the day, I had no idea who he was until we went to the club and saw him signing autographs and all. Talk about big name celebrities!

unnamed-16

unnamed-5.jpg

Upping my quality of life

We bounced around a bunch and felt out which spots we liked the most. We agreed to hang out at Golden Nugget and Harrah’s… after dinner, though. We were hungry by 10!

The Italian Cafe Martorano was not your typical, nor traditional Italian dinner experience. It was modern with a touch of the 20s. There were disco balls and the floor was checkered with shiny black and white. The waitstaff all wore newsboy caps with suspenders. Don’t ask me what this look was, but it was gorgeous!

unnamed-12

I cut off my friend’s head for the sake of privacy!

Even after waiting 4 hours for our reservation, we still were asked to wait at the bar. Now, that’s how you sell a drink! While my friend ordered a Moscow Mule, or a Sicilian Mule, as they called it, I tried something a little sweeter, a Sicilian Kiss.

Sicilian Kiss – Imperia vodka, monin mango syrup, monin blood orange syrup, fresh blood orange juice, lime juice, garnished with a blood orange wheel

They made and sold those real fast! These were both very tasty drinks. Although the prices weren’t insane, I still don’t recommend looking at numbers. Just enjoy.

When we were finally seated, we looked upon the menu and drooled a little bit. Having only eaten a few bites of a huge apple that afternoon, I was ready to mangiare!

Guess what? Atlantic City doesn’t do vegan. It’s not in their vocabulary and they don’t care if it’s your thing. They don’t.

We went with antipasti dishes:

Eggplant Stacked

lightly breaded fried eggplant, homemade mozzarella, marinated tomato topped with arugula finished with balsamic and DOC Parmigiano Reggiano cheese $22.00

Antipasto

Homemade mozzarella, prosciutto San Danielle and marinated cherry tomatoes $24.00

unnamed-14.jpg

Mozzie and tomat

He ate the cheese, I ate the tomato, and we shared the eggplant. We were fed. Kind of. We distracted ourselves on the dance floor. There was a DJ and a small area for dancing, so we boogied. The music was a remix of old party songs turned into electronic house music. It was really cool! The older and the younger people could appreciate their jams. Jam… boy, I could have gone for jam on toast at that point. Not to say our food wasn’t yummy, but neither of us were really full.

 

Fortunately, there was a little food spot on our way back to the room. We grabbed some buffalo wing pretzels and a cup of grapes. That hit the spot.

After feeding ourselves, I walked my pup. Oh, yeah! Dogs. They’re allowed. And mine happened to behave super well during this trip. I think she was so confused that she forgot how to bark. I can’t say all resorts in AC are dog-friendly, but I can definitely tell you that Harrah’s loves your dog as much as you do!

Once she was happy, we went to the boardwalk and then explored the clubs more.

In spite of some grey and cloudy weather with some drizzling, we walked and had fun. The boardwalk was very low-key and the lights were pretty. Reminded me of Coney Island back home, but quieter.

Finally, around 4 AM we decided it was time to stop bouncing. Enough bouncing, said we! We went back to the room and pretty much fell asleep in the doorway. It was amazing. I woke up around 8 AM and put myself together. My buddy waited until 11 AM to get up and figure out what planet we were on. Surprisingly, though, I was the most well-rested and energized I have been in a long, long time. I felt super clear-headed and fantastic! Still starving, though. That feeling wouldn’t go away. The good news is, we had a breakfast/lunch buffet right downstairs! We bolted in that direction.

The buffet was perfect… for non-vegans. Plenty of meat and eggs and all those things. There was a little fruit and veggie salad available, though. Some mini-bagels which were adorable. I wasn’t complaining. However, we probably would have done just as well having bought bagels and peanut butter and passing on the $20 buffet. But it was extremely meditative and added to the fancy feeling of the trip. Those are very important things to take advantage of while living the luxury life!

unnamed-4

Breakfast with a view

After breakfast, there was a little more depositing of money at the casino bank, and we headed home. Happy, relaxed, and really anxious for our next trip! Peace out, AC, don’t spend all your money in one place, now….

Click the ‘Follow’ button below to tune in for my next adventure

If you would like me to attend your event, review your product, or if you want to submit your food/travel review, contact me at:

sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

https://www.instagram.com/sweettoothtravels/

In the meantime, get satisfied!

Packing for the city… Atlantic City!

I’ve been to Israel and Ireland and India, but I’ve never made the 2-hour drive to Atlantic City. Why is that? I don’t gamble, I don’t drink much, and I don’t really like beaches, or New Jersey… that’s why.

But I am going to Atlantic City this weekend.

What changed the tune of my whistle? A friend offered me a trip there. I wasn’t busy this weekend, so I was like, “Let me check with my… uh… oh. Let’s go!”

The details have not been shared with me, but I know there’s a hotel where I can bring my dog and many clubs and restaurants from which to choose. That’s all I really need. Well, maybe a few other things, but that is on me to bring from home. You know- clothing and whatnot. That silly stuff.

In preparation for my journey, I did what any seasoned traveler would do…. Yep, without procrastination or hesitation I went to Rice Cream Shoppe in the West Village. I tried my first ever vegan rum raisin rice pudding with toasted coconut on top. Seems raisin-able.

unnamed-8

It’s a store I had passed a million times before, but I’d never gone in. Rice pudding was never really my thing. I don’t like eating something smooth and then dealing with unexpected chunks. It’s weird to me. Especially in the case of rice pudding where the chunks are little and slimy. But, being that it was apparently the week of doing things I didn’t really want to do, I decided to try the vegan dessert. Or, lunch in this case.

Rum raisin is not a flavour I’d had before, actually. You guessed it- it’s another thing with components I don’t necessarily want or need. Rum is nice, I like being a pirate. Rum and raisin, though? Pirates don’t do that. Today, this pirate did that. I’m a rebel pirate. That’s a double rebel.

Turns out, rum raisin tastes like vanilla. With raisins. And coconut if you ask for coconut on top, as I did. I was sticking with my Caribbean theme. It was a nice dessert. Not overindulgent or sickeningly sweet. It was tasty and refreshing. Left me with room for more food. That’s good or bad, depending on your goal.

Admittedly, the rice pudding confused me a bit, though. I needed to walk around a bit, take a breather, procrastinate on my packing… that sort of thing.

I was in Brooklyn…

BK.png

Then I took a bike ride in Jersey City to the waterfront. I waved at Manhattan.

unnamed

I did so much. Man, I was tired at this point. I took a nap.

Good nap. Good job, self. What to do with the rest of my evening…. OH, RIGHT! PACKING! Let’s do that.

Packing list for Friday, Friday night, and Saturday. Short, simple, and sweet. Now, I should keep in mind that it was a little chilly and rainy today. Still warm enough for shorts and dresses, but I may want to bring a sweater. Yes! Nicely done. Planning ahead with the weather. That’s something responsible travelers do.

Friday wear: Cute top and pants or shorts with sneakers

Pack: Super cool dress for Friday night. Like, so cool you might freeze the place. Maybe even heels to make everyone stop and stare when you enter a room. That’s another thing that actually happens in reality. All the time.

Also pack something comfortable for Saturday and the return trip.

Now I am thinking, “What do people do during the day in Atlantic City?”

Though, I guess the casinos don’t have clocks, right? I’ll never even know whether it’s day or night! Night is when you’re passed out on the floor from the free alcohol. Is that only in the movies? Maybe they DO have clocks and you DO have to pay for your drinks?? I don’t know what is real anymore!

All I know is, I’m probably not going to the beach. No bathing suit or any of that business necessary. I should just wear sweatpants and a bib since I’m really just going for fancy food. Vegan food in Atlantic City, you ask? No. Not so much. I can’t find any vegan restaurants in Atlantic City. That’s going to be interesting. Whatever I end up eating is going to be expensive, though. That much I know.

I’m still not packing, though. I’ve thought about what I should pack, but I’ve not even brought my bag up from storage in the basement. Ugh… I forgot I had to go downstairs and get it. This is so much work.

Here’s my packing list: toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, makeup, cellular device, and charger. This is a good start. Although, I’ll need these things in the morning, presumably, so let’s wait to pack those. And try not to forget them.

Now, let’s step it up. Undergarments, deodorant, socks, pair of sneakers (or sandals), pair of heels, and razor. For shaving… or shivving someone. To be determined.

unnamed-1

Final round. I got this. 2 tops, 1 pair of jeans, 1 skirt, 1 dress, and a sweater.

unnamed-2

Cute, girl, cute. You got all the matching happening and the style and the fun but flirty. That’s exactly what magazines suggest. Magazines know best.

Anything missing? Something’s missing. Something is always missing…. SHOOT! I nearly forgot pajamas! You ding dong, how could you? Sleep is the prerequisite for being awake and alive. These are such important things! Do not forget your “No one will see these anyway” jammies!

unnamed-3

Now you have all yo junk together. You’re set. Oh, and a cherry Blow Pop. Because.

unnamed-5

Is, “Mmmm…” a scientific explanation?

Then just shove all that beautiful and expensive clothing in a bright pink bag you got for free at Victoria’s Secret, and you’re off!

unnamed-4

Don’t no one get in my way, I’m ’bout to take over AC! Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it when I get back in a couple day!

Now, click the ‘Follow’ button below to tune in when I review something else!

If you would like me to attend your event, review your product, or submit your own review, send an email to:

sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

https://www.instagram.com/sweettoothtravels/

If you’re curious about Rice Cream Shoppe, I’d give it 7/10 unicorn hugs.

Their website is: http://www.ricecreamshoppe.com/

In the meantime, get satisfied!

I was All Set at Sacred Chow

I ate food today.

Not impressed?

Well, what if I told you I ate food at a vegan restaurant for free today?

Bam. You’re intrigued.

Really- I did! Thanks to the Allset program I just downloaded on my phone. There was a promotion going on that if I promised to send them a review, they’d give me $15 free! Being that I like eating until my body registers for refugee status due to cruel conditions,  I felt this promotion could be of great benefit to me.

What is Allset? It’s actually kind of a neat idea…. But before you ask, and before I explain, I’ll make this clear: they didn’t pay me to say good things about them. They gave me free food because they’re a small company. They knew no one would download their new and totally random program, pay, and hope for the best. So they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Download, get $15 for free, and let them know how they’re doing. Sweet.

unnamed-1

The story on their website is kind of abstract and frootsy tootsy, so let me explain the program in dirty gurdy terms. Basically, you pick a restaurant at which you want to eat. The selection is a bit limited, but they do have a few vegan/vegetarian restaurants already! I emailed them to make sure before downloading it.

Once you have a restaurant in mind, you can book a reservation for either the same day or the next day. You pick a time. Now, that’s good enough for most people, but Allset does more than that! Once you picked your place, number of people, and time, you can even look at the menu, make selections, and yes, you can PAY! Tip, tax, and all. You go to the restaurant, get seated and fed nearly immediately, and feel VIP. Or you can pretend you’re dining and ditching. Really depends where you want to take this. As you can see, you’re ALL SET!

unnamed

*Music plays, crowd stands and applauses*

Keep in mind, as of now they only have New York City and SF Bay Area options. However, there is a clicky-doo that locates where places are in relation to you, so I assume they plan on expanding… if all goes well.

I won’t say this thing is perfect. I did find it a little confusing (that might just be me) to figure out what times were available and how to go through the menu options…. Overall, though, I found the program super straightforward. They also offer the option to join tables with other people, especially if you’re over 6 people. Plus, they have a deal that allows you to refer friends. With your own special little code, your friend gets $10 off and you get $10 off. That’s, like, $20!

What I addressed when I sent feedback was my uncertainty regarding changes of plans. What if your reservation and order is set at 7, but a friend forgot about his lobotomy at 5? Oh, no! There’s no way he’ll be dressed and ready to eat artichoke hearts by 7!  Can you still get a refund and change your number of people!? Or, what if you get to the restaurant and realize you’re suddenly extremely allergic to the pasta and peanut potato pancake you ordered? Methinks all these things can be dealt with at the restaurant, though. As long as you didn’t order something that had to be made way ahead of time….

Now that we covered the technology portion of this post, let’s talk about food-eating. After all, I took more time eating than I did with the booking thing.

Sacred Chow is yet another vegan restaurant in the West Village. I don’t say “yet another” because I am sick of them, I say it because there are so many! I am emphasizing that fact. It is my pleasure to announce that there is *yet another* vegan establishment in the West Village of New York City in the United States of America on Earth.

I’m not really sure what vibe or theme they’re aiming for, exactly…. It’s kind of Asian, but they also serve tempeh reuben, French lentil meatloaf, and Mama’s ‘No-Soy’ Meatballs. I don’t know. I guess it’s just a place that serves food that people want to eat. What a concept.

As soon as I got to Sacred Chow, I knew everything was cool. How did I know this? Because the waiter kept saying, “cool.”

unnamed.jpg

He had no one idea what Allset was, but I explained, and he said he’d go look into it. In the meantime, “Sit anywhere”, he said, “…anywhere is cool.”

Cool.

I sat facing the door so I could admire the beautiful view of a building’s wall across from me. Fortunately, there was enough stuff hanging on the restaurant’s walls to keep me amused. What confused me amidst all the Western-themed hanging lamps and meditating cows was a neon sign advertising Cerveza. I kind of felt like I had climbed the Himalayas seeking nirvana and found Keanu Reeves instead. “Cool… dude.”

unnamed-3

After sitting for awhile, I began to wonder if the waiter was planning on returning. Was he going to let me know if my order was received and recognized and paid for or is this a test of my willingness to speak up for myself?

Well… I have lukewarm water in a nifty jar thing and there’s stuff on the walls. Maybe I’ll just wait.

And wait.

unnamed-2

That’s when it happened. See that curtain back there? A hand appeared! I swear- not even a wrist, just a hand swung around the curtain, balanced a small plate on the edge of the counter, and disappeared. DEMONS! But, hey, it’s my food! Yay!

The waiter brought my plate over without a word. Well, maybe I heard, “Coooooolllll” off in the distance.

unnamed-6

Not gonna lie- at this point, I totally forgot what I had ordered. Brown stuff with green things. Probably that. Now that I can look at the menu online, I see it’s the Thai Ginger BBQ Seitan with roasted kale. None of those things had I guessed correctly. I guessed maybe BBQ something, but that’s just what I assume everything is.

I liked it. I liked my seitan a lot. However, of course, I have some comments. The thing is, the plate was small, right? Here I am trying to cut up these long curls of kale and strips of seitan, but there’s no room to spread! The only thing that can possibly occur is splashing of oils and sauces. Not gonna lie- I was getting pretty sweaty and anxious cutting this stuff up. Smaller chunks, my friends, smaller bits and pieces. That’s the point of tapas, after all! Although, I did get one piece of seitan that the right size, and it was also a bit more firm. That piece was heavenly! The rest was more like purgatory- like, a nice, good one. But that chunka hunka was just the right texture. Fortunately, the sauce wasn’t overpowering. It wasn’t too sweet or too gloppy. The kale was cooked nicely, too.

Take note, whenever you have the chance to serve a slice of lime, do it! Do it! There is nothing I love more than the smell of lime on my hands after a meal. I could be covered in blood and beans and baby powder and still feel fresh and clean if my hands are bathed in lime juice.

I took my time eating my little tapas. I enjoyed the conversations around me and the people screaming in Spanish outside. It was like home. Next thing I knew, my food was done. That is, until the waiter came over to inform me that it was cool that I was done and cool that I was still waiting for something else.

What was that something else? A COOKIE!!!! I didn’t really have my hopes too high. As I mentioned before, cookies are… eh. Cookies seldom get a mention or a huzzah. They don’t make lists or make children popular. They’re just cookies. What I didn’t take into account was that this was a no-soy, sugar-free, gluten-free toasted macaroon cookie. And, oh, baby, was it ever!

unnamed-8

That is my cookie. A cookie with no other that can compete. SUGAR-FREE? But, how? It’s so yummy and “buttery” and ALL the coconut. They hadn’t even mentioned the raspberry coulis on top, but I am mentioning it. Hard.

Macaroon cookie, just kidnap me and forever be mine. It was a cool treat, not right out of the oven, but it didn’t feel old or frozen. It was soft and decadent and man, I could have eaten that cookie forever.

Before this cookie affair took place, I was pretty ready to give Sacred Chow 8/10 unicorn hugs, but I’m thinking this treat alone gives them…

10/10 unicorn hugs

Check out things you’re not eating:

Sacred Chow

If you’re interested in Allset: an app for reserving seats, ordering your food, and paying ahead of time:

https://allsetnow.com/

Click the ‘Follow’ button below to tune in when I review something else!

If you would like me to attend your event, review your food, or submit your own review, send an email to:

sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

https://www.instagram.com/sweettoothtravels/

In the meantime, get satisfied!

 

Try your best, but you don’t succeed

I always thought Indian was in my blood. As though I could turn water into lassi. I love the Hindi language, I loved my week in India, the Hindu beliefs, the culture… and most of all, I love Indian food. I’ll eat daal and dosa or palak and poori any day of the week!

Being so convinced that I was born to be a disciple of Brahma, I got it in my head that I would be a natural when it came to cooking Indian food. That makes complete and total sense. Not delusional at all.

This is when I decided to make one of my favourite Indian foods: samosas! These are triangular pastries filled with potato and spices, then fried (or baked.) Samosas are beloved for their flaky dough and soft and salty insides. They are also often served with various chutney options or tamarind paste. They can be filled with lentils, peas, corn, onion, or any vegetable you like. I kept it simple: I just wanted spicy potatoes. Most people have samosas as a side or appetizer. They also serve as a tasty little lunch, though!

On my hunt for the most perfect and easiest samosa recipe online I came across The Flaming Vegan. On this website, I found a recipe for vegan samosas. The author of this recipe, Neha Basrani believes that I can prepare these dumplings of delish in 10 minutes, and after cooking for 30 minutes have perfect little Indian knishes. Here’s her photo:

2993.jpg

Okay- cool! I’m totally down for perfect symmetry; golden tetrahedrons. Just show me the way, Neha!

Here you can see her recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

For the pocket:

• 1 cup of all purpose flour

• Vegetable oil to fry the snack

For the filling:

• 3 large potatoes

• 1 tablespoon cilantro finely chopped

• 1 onion finely chopped

• 2 green chilies finely chopped

• 3 tablespoon oil

• ½ teaspoon turmeric

• ½ teaspoon red chili powder

• ½ teaspoon crushed garlic

• ½ teaspoon grated ginger

• Salt to taste

Incredibly, I had many of these ingredients! Sure, I had to substitute leek for onion. 2 green chilies for one large. Cayenne instead of chili powder. Whatever. You get the idea. I was mostly there.

Unlike my usual cooking adventures, I was ready this time. I was willing to make all the mess, use all the bowls, and do whatever necessary in order to have my samosas come out ready to serve to Buddha. Yeah, Buddhism- WHAT!

Maybe using my recipe sheet as a spoon and vegetable rest wasn’t the best way of doing things, but I had no fear at this point. I was ready to cumin, salt, and conquer.

METHOD:

STEP 1: In a medium sized bowl, mix the oil, salt, and flour together to form dough. The dough should not be too hard nor too soft.

STEP 2: Cover the bowl with a cloth for for at least twenty minutes and let it rest.

STEP 3: For the filling, first peel, boil , and mash the potatoes.

I have never in my life peeled, boiled, nor mashed potatoes. Turns out, this is fairly easy. One might even say it was fun! Not that I had a potato masher tool thing…. I just used my fork and stabbed the potatoes a lot once they were boiled and soft. Anger management complete!

unnamed-2

Go, Potato, it’s your boilday! Gonna pot ya like it’s your boilday!

I did a really good job at boiling and mashing my potatoes. Pretty sure I could do that for a living. Not to brag. #hireme

STEP 4: Heat some oil in a pan (approximately 3 tablespoons). Add ginger, garlic, onion, and green chilies. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture turns golden brown.

STEP 5: Now add mashed potatoes, cilantro, salt, turmeric, and chili powder. Saute the mixture for two more minutes.

STEP 6: Set mixture aside for five minutes to cool.

I was pretty good at this, too. I chopped up two types of chili peppers and added a bunch of spices and herbs and junk. Like, you’d be impressed if you knew how much I added. The cacophony of flavours would flip your lid. The tricky part was knowing when the potato mix was “browned”. Turmeric is kinda golden, it turns the taters brownish. I just kind of assumed that they were cooked when they were burning my fingers. That is, because I kept taking forkfuls of the mix and eating it. This is part of the recipe that was left out. Always taste what you’re cooking… multiple times.

Now, here’s when things start getting complicated. I’m still completely confused when it comes to the dough.

STEP 7: Take the dough and roll it into 5” flat ovals. Cut each of them into halves.

STEP 8: Take one half and roll it like a cone in your hand.

STEP 9: Put about a tablespoon of the filling into your cone. Then seal the third side with a moist finger (use oil or water) so that when you deep fry them, no oil will enter.

STEP 10: Repeat. 

STEP 11: Heat oil in a pan and deep fry the samosas. Serve them piping hot with dipping sauce of your choice, such as a chutney.

My dough wasn’t really cooperating. I really did use the amounts of oil and flour that are suggested here, but the dough was like bread crumbs. So, I added more oil. Then more flour. Then more oil. No matter what I did, the dough kept falling apart!

In this photo, things were looking okay. Maybe even promising. I took a big ball of my crumbles and squished them together. Then I made a triangle with my hands. I’m not sure what the logistics were supposed to be when it came to cutting and shaping, but I just kinda did what made sense to me.

unnamed.jpg

Apparently, what makes sense to me is nonsense. Everything just… wasn’t good.

unnamed-1

I don’t know how many samosas you’ve seen or eaten in your life, but I’ve had many. Many. Never in my life have I ever had a samosa that looked like this. My dough was just not having it. It was like, “Yo, it’s Saturday. It’s my day off, I’m not dealing with this.”

For my second trick I took pieces of dough and applied it like cement to the cracks. Not gonna say I’m a genius, but I’m pretty sure I’m thinking at Einstein level.

unnamed-2

Check that out! It almost looks like something! I continued this method due to the success I was having. Great success, let me tell you.

unnamed-3

I mean, how badly do you want to eat these samosas? They look just like the stuff you get at the restaurant, ammirite?

Put those suckers in the oven at 250 for 30 minutes…. Oh, yeah, I decided to bake them rather than fry them, ’cause I’m so health conscious and junk. This meant I had to totally guess time and temperature. Sounded good to me. Like they say: too much is better than too little! …right?

At this point, I had also decided these little guys were going to completely transform in the oven. Like, they were supposed to look like this, and then would change completely as they heated up.

Erkell.jpg

A little something I learned in the 90s

Presto! It worked!

unnamed

Wait… no… that’s not right. Let me try again.

Vegetable_Samosa.png

There we go. Levitating lunch.

Remember earlier when I told you that people loved samosa because of their flaky exterior? We missed the boat on that one, kids. My samosa dough wasn’t bad, but it was soft and fluffy. Like a cupcake samosa for your toothless friends.

Now, am I going to lie and tell you that my samosas came out looking like love dumplin’s? Yes.

Now you can try!

My attempt: 2/10 satars for appearance and likeness … but, 7/10 satars for flavour!

The recipe itself: 8/10 satars

If you would like me to try your recipe or product, or you would like to submit your own review, contact me at: sweettoothnothings@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SweetToothVegan

Also, be sure to check out my new Facebook page. It’ll be growing over the next few weeks! https://www.facebook.com/sweettooth.nothings

 

How to train your human

There must be a million websites, books, articles, and pamphlets about training dogs and cats and various pets… yet, the humans are the ones who need to be trained! Puppies may pee on your bed, but a puppy has never started a war. Nor do I don’t know any horses who have kidnapped children or set fire to anyone’s home.

To learn more about training humans, I took a trip to the Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City, NJ. I met with a few dogs and cats who have faced some real ugly mugged humans, and asked what their advice would be to young pets training their humans. I got some very useful responses. Listen closely, you might learn a thing or two.

unnamed.jpg

I entered the green door because entering through a window seemed inconvenient and messy. I didn’t want to disturb the spiders who had just sat down for breakfast.

Once I got inside, the secretary immediately directed me towards the stairs. She said that’s where I’d find the “Cattery”. They had way too many kittens! Apparently, some seriously untrained humans didn’t know to get their pets neutered/spayed. Considering that many vets and mobile vans will do the surgery for fairly cheap and sometimes free, this just sounds lazy to me. But let’s see what the cats have to say about that.

The first cat I met was this little one:

unnamed-5.jpg

Clearly, she doesn’t mess around. She is a strict reinforcer of the rules. I learned from her that you must train your human with directness, and you can’t be too gentle with them. A harsh tone may be required. She explained that you have to catch your human when he/she is very comfortable and sleepy. Once they are settled in and having a good time petting your fur, you leap on their head, and stick your butt in their face. This will remind the human that you’re either in need of being fixed, or a sign of appreciation for having you fixed. If this doesn’t work, steal their socks. Never harm your human, but sometimes other types of punishment are necessary.

When I then heard some clattering around, I realized that there were two sibling kittens down below who were chanting in unison, “If you don’t need us, at least you can feed us!”

The two kittens, Dory and her sibling (who wishes to remain anonymous) refused to say much more than this chant. The cat in the next cage over explained that these two had been abandoned at the shelter after months of barely being cared for in their previous home. “Quite frankly, I think they just snapped. Big catnip users, but I didn’t tell you that.”

Here the two take a break from chanting so they can receive a few scratches. They still love human interaction, but are much less trusting of humans.

unnamed-4.jpg

As I passed them a second time, I heard one whisper, “Sure, if I jump on her lap, she better pet me… that’s just my way of showing her my power. She can’t resist me.”

Before leaving the Cattery, my last stop was to greet Draco. He doesn’t talk much anymore, nor does he do much training. However, in his youth, he would often travel the streets teaching other kittens how to train their humans. He was a celebrity in the concrete jungle. These days, he prefers to sit in his cage and watch kittens and his old comrades be brought in and out. It is said that Draco once loved humans and felt every single one could be trained and turned good.

unnamed-3

I’ll never know what these amber eyes have seen, nor what smells that pink nose has smelled. But without a doubt, Draco has seen some of the worse types of humans. Legend has it that he once was homed by a very grumpy husband who had no interest in cats. Draco was able to soften this man’s heart and sit beside him during basketball games. This changed when he had to surrender Draco due to his wife’s pregnancy. When Draco saw that his beloved human man would not admit his sadness upon leaving him behind at the shelter, Draco was forever hardened. He has not given up on finding a home, but he isn’t the same cat he once was.

As I left the room, Draco’s eyes didn’t move, they stared forward; never letting go of the memory of the man who once loved him and betrayed him.

I was then anxious to go visit the dogs! Dogs are typically a softer, more forgiving type. I expected joy, forgiveness, and infinite optimism. However, what I found instead was desperation and unease.

Entering the dog room, everyone wanted to be heard. Every dog felt they had tips and advice on training that would solve all the human problems of the world.

cages.jpg

I didn’t know where to begin. That is, until I saw Bunny. It is not common to come across a Pharaoh Hound, particularly at the shelter. As you can see in the lower left corner of this picture, I discreetly took a photo of this beautiful friend. I quickly learned that approaching dogs in cages will lead to much barking, some growling, and noisy tails thumping against metal.

Bunny had no comments, though, he just wanted me to leave him be. That is, unless I was going to walk, feed, or home him. Being that I could not provide any of these things, I went on to the next speaker.

Seides is another resident of the Humane Society. She’s a self-labeled artist who believes in changing the world through music. She has a very different approach from the other dogs.

Seides Lab Pit 4 yrs.jpg

Seides is a 4 year old lab/pit mix. She was brought in after being tied up in front of the shelter with her brother Beamer. Nowadays she paces back and forth in her cage and sings. She has a story to tell and she wants the world to hear it.

After hearing many sad tales like Seides’, I was quite relieved to finally talk with two fellas for whom life has been equally tough, but they keep a smile on and pep in their step. They are Nilsito and Richard.

Nilsito was excited when I came over to talk to him. He was engaged and anxious to meet me. At 9 years old, he is 60 lbs. He’s a heavyweight champ full of muscle and a big heart! Just as I thought he was going to share some wisdom, he chose instead to do this:

Nilsito 9 yr Pit Mastiff

Some dogs just never grow up!

Richard, on the other hand, at only 2 years old, was much more at ease. He seemed comfortable discussing the difficult issues with me. I got a feeling from Richard that he was an old soul who had seen and been through enough to have something to offer.

It turned out, I was right. Richard taught me a lot, even just by looking into his eyes. He told me about his puppy days, about his life on the streets, and how lacking a home taught him more about humans than one would expect. He feels humans are much like stray animals, but they’ve been given weapons and power. This leads them to do things that they think will protect themselves and their loved ones from being vulnerable. He explained that humans want love from dogs and cats, but don’t think about the bigger picture, the consequences, and all the requirements…. He was happy being stray, but a part of him will always seek a lifelong human companion. Its in the blood of every dog, he postulates, even the ones who growl. They’re also just trying to protect themselves in a scary world. However, with proper human training, each and every dog can find themselves in the perfect home.Never give up, he told me, never.

Richard Pit Lab - 2 yr

This response left me so stirred, that I felt it was a good time to leave. It was hard saying goodbye to all these incredible dogs and cats, but I had my own foster kittens to take home! I left the shelter with three month old kittens who had been abandoned on a boat! The pirate kittens are now safely in my home and await permanent homes. They are adventurous, lively, and very healthy. When I asked for any suggestions when it came to training humans, in unison they squeaked, “LOVE.”

For kittens, they sure are smart!

Kittens eating.jpg

All the dogs and cats in this post are available for adoption at the Liberty Humane Society in New Jersey. Please read about them and how to adopt/foster at: http://www.libertyhumane.org/     They are also always in need of volunteers!

Find out more about these lovely dogs at: DOGS

Learn more about these gorgeous cats at: CATS

 

A Vegan’s Dilemma

As a child, we are always warned to not take candy from strangers. Twenty years later, what if a stranger offers you free crickets? Not a situation most people must face, but I am not “most people”.

Coming out of the subway on Wall Street, I saw a Van Leeuwen ice cream truck (if you recall, I reviewed their ice cream a ways back: goo.gl/eX0Oe1)  I was highly intrigued. After all, do white collar workers really eat that much artisan ice cream?

unnamed-2

Hark! I smell a trap!

A woman in a red shirt came over to me, and with as little interest as a person could possibly muster, she told me that I looked confused. I corrected her. I was not confused, but merely curious. She didn’t care. She explained something to me about The Economist. This is a magazine that believes there will be 11 Billion people on Earth eventually; an amount that the Earth cannot sustain. Therefore, the best option for food at that point will be insects. Therein comes the bit: they will give me a free scoop of ice cream as long as I will have them serve it with crickets on top. Plus, if I sign up for a subscription of their fine apocalypse-forecasting magazine (for only $12 a month!) I will receive a red, leather notebook… for free!

Let’s see if I have this correct- if I, a vegan animal rights activist am willing to eat insects and buy a magazine, I will receive a leather book and ice cream… for free.

She had her little ice cream lady shake up her cricket jar in hopes of enticing me. Yep. They sure were crickets. They weren’t lying about that.

unnamed-1

Not one to ignore my spidey (or crickety?) senses, I scanned the menu, despite the discouraging sales pitch. As luck would have it, they did offer dairy-free peanut butter ice cream…. Okay, lady, let’s play.

With a grin, I turned back to her and replied, “I’m not eating those creatures. But I do want dairy-free peanut butter ice cream. So, here’s what I will do: I will give the cricket ice cream to someone in need.  I will receive, in turn for my mitzvah a non-buggy ice cream… for free. Everyone will be happy.”

She insisted further that the ice cream is only free complete with bugs.

I persisted, informing her that I will not only hear out her spiel and continue to support the wonderful Van Leeuwen Ice Cream company, but I will also make sure the homeless man knows of the great magazine subscription deal they’re offering. All this for the tiny payment of an ice cream sans infestation. Quite the deal of the century.

She took a moment and looked over at her scooping friend. There was no line, no other customers, and no one within earshot who cared…. Within moments, I had two cups of dairy-free ice cream. One with extra protein (and legs) and one with nothing but a red spoon on top. I think this was a good negotiation.

unnamed

That is, until I remembered that I don’t eat Van Leeuwen ice cream because it crumbles and leaves me with an aftertaste. C’est la vie!

If you would like to invite me to review your establishment or to attend your event, please send me an email at:  sweettoothnothings@gmail.com 

Follow the adventure at: twitter.com/SweetToothVegan