The trick to living over here is to not get lulled. You can fall for the seductive little pockets of this city and still check your six for crack zombies and rotten kids.
Mrs. Lott and I went on a real deal date night tonight and found ourselves at Oakland’s First Friday. It’s an interesting mix of people.
We got to see a New Orleans style brass band from Oakland called MJ’s Brass Boopers playing in the middle of the street. They ain’t no Dirty Dozen, but they had the crowd moving just fine. The existence of this band reaffirms what I’ve always said about Oakland: it’s just like New Orleans in all the good and bad ways.
I miss New Orleans dearly, but it’s still so behind in a lot of ways. One of the things I think will always keep us on the West Coast is food. I like all this psycho artisanal small farm fruitiness and Mrs. Lott is a pain in the ass vegan. New Orleans food is incredible, but the food scene there is not as diverse as you might imagine. You could make a real strong case that’s changing fast, but ethnic food is still way behind, and most places are relatively unchanging.
Oakland is becoming an amazing food city. Up until recently, I was not hearing it about anything in Oakland being better than anything in San Francisco, but that too is changing fast.
My favorite place to eat of all time is Clove & Hoof over on Broadway. It’s a meat joint. People have strong opinions about their favorite sandwich spots and I certainly get the subjective nature of this call, but the chef/owners Jon and Analiesa crush it.
My second favorite place in Oakland is basically the exact opposite of the first. Souley Vegan is a 100% plant-based, black owned, soul food spot. The fried and BBQ tofu is crazy tangy. Their mac n cheese must be made by witchcraft because they pass as the real thing.
Mrs. Lott and I had been wanting to try a new vegan burger from a company called Impossible Foods. A restaurant called Jardiniere makes their Impossible Burger and it’s all the rage. What’s new about this veggie pattie is that it was made in a lab by doctors and scientists.
They broke new ground on mimicking the texture and flavor of real beef by extracting the chemical that gives blood its flavor, heme, from plants that contain it. They did a little magic on some vegetable proteins and mixed in the blood flavor, creating a product that “bleeds.”
The company that makes the burger had a food truck at First Friday and they were giving the burgers out for free. They were served on a classic seedless bun, with a fat slice of beefsteak tomato, a chunk of fresh lettuce, and a vegan special sauce very similar to what they serve at McDonald’s (or at least as I remember it).
Now let’s start off with total honesty. This isn’t going to fool anyone. But it is damn tasty and as close to a real beef pattie as I’ve ever tasted from a vegan recipe. It’s for sure the best veggie burger I’ve ever had.
It’s not trying to be a thick bistro burger. More than anything it’s like Burger King’s Whopper. It’s about that thick and has a nearly identical aftertaste. The outside had a pretty legit sear on it. The only strong giveaways are the texture of the center and I don’t quite think the blood is 100% there. Keep in mind, I rarely eat meat, but when I do it’s rare.
Still, I would totally buy these for a BBQ. Crumbled up it would be tremendous in a vegan lasagna. Especially if they were a little less expensive. If you could get these for about the price of an In n Out burger, I bet they could crush it with a drive-thru joint. Mrs. Lott and I would go there all the time because we love fucked up vegan junk food.
I’m a believer in plant-based diets for health and longevity. These have no cholesterol, but they’re super tasty. I think an improvement on the formula might be some sort of gelatinous fat globule. The patty has some nice chewy bits. Add in a little succulent squish and they’d be even better.
Despite all the fecalicious necromancy of our current election and the shoddy, sloppy rest of the world, it is a great time to be alive.