Tuesday, February 26, 2013

36. Cafe Gratitude

It was a beautiful Monday morning and I was feeling especially responsible, so I got an early start and filed my taxes with months to spare. It went a lot quicker than I expected. So despite having a work meeting soon after, I found myself with about an hour to kill. I figured a coffee and a snack would be the adult thing to do in a situation like this. I looked around and assessed my surroundings - I had two options. One was "Lemonade", a uber-expensive deli which has great food at cringe-worthy costs. The second was "Cafe Gratitude" which I've heard is an earthy all-natural cafe. Seeing as it was 9:30am, I figured it too early for heavy deli food, so I treated myself and my wallet to Cafe Gratitude.

I'll begin by saying the hostess did not seem very gracious for me walking in - despite the cafe's name. Whatever, no big deal. I was seated and perused the surroundings. I have to say from what I've heard people say about Cafe Gratitude, I expected the decor to be a little more... ahem.... bohemian. There was nary the scent of nang champa nor a single book exchange shelf to be seen. Very curious. The decor was very corporate, all the tables and chairs matched and I'm pretty sure the place had been mopped using industrial grade chemicals as it was spik n' span. And my hostess did NOT reek of unshaven armpits seasoned by a week's absence of bathing.

It was only when I received my menu that the good old fashioned hippy freakout began. The first thing to jump out at me was the menu items. Everything at Cafe Gratitude is named with the prefix of "I am" followed by some dumb-ass hippy adjective like "Grateful" or "Blossoming" or "Centered." ...Shit.

I'm sure the brain-trust at Cafe Gratitude, Incorporated all enjoyed their massive circle-jerk when some vice-president pitched this idea. But all it serves to do is make you read the entire goddamn menu top to bottom trying to figure out what each menu item is. Oh, you want an omelet? Instead of looking for omelet on the menu you now have to engage in some perverse word-search in hopes that some paragraph in there somewhat describes what could be an omelet.

This pretty much sums up Cafe Gratitude.
Oh and here's the real nut-kicker - even if you read the ENTIRE menu an omelet would not be on there anyway as the whole fucking place is vegan. Surprise!

I should also mention that today just happened to be the day I wore my hockey trucker hat and my "Franklin BBQ - King of Texas BBQ" T-shirt...oh well. Despite sticking out like a turd in a punchbowl I decided that I am not above vegan cuisine. And I would show this faux-hippy corporate eatery that I would smile, order, and eat whatever shit they could concoct. I ordered the "I am Peace" with a cup of "I am Courageous".

For the human beings reading this, that loosely translates to a bagel with cream cheese, lox, capers, tomato, onion, and sprouts, and a cup of coffee.

Now here's where my idiocy comes in. I somehow naively thought vegan meant vegetarian. So here I am thinking "Oh sure, I can try a vegetarian version of lox, heck, I'm adventurous." Me so stoopid! So you can imagine my shock when my abomination of a meal arrived.

So out comes half a "bagel" which is literally as flat as an iPhone and has the texture of a deflated balloon. It's covered in "cream cheese" that looks and feels like coffee froth. And the "lox"? Well, that was seaweed. Literally, like 4 squares of seaweed. Any Jewish person who saw this would schvitz. Especially since you don't even get a full bagel. I don't normally take pictures of my food but you all should see this shit-show:
Not pictured: A bagel.
My coffee was served with almond milk and agave sweetener. I tried putting almond milk in my coffee once and it pretty much turned out the same way that you'd imagine jizz would if you put it into coffee. I learned my lesson, but apparently cafe gratitude thinks its totally normal to have white chunks floating around in coffee. I passed on the agave, the coffee was totally ruined and frankly it tasted like shit even without the milk.

The problem with Cafe Gratitude is not the fact that it's vegan. Rather, the mistake they make is thinking they can serve vegan alternatives to normal food. Vegan cream cheese? How the FUCK do you rationally think you can pull that off? You can't. And based on my meal, you didn't. The bagel felt like I was chewing on an old sock.

When you make the leap into a vegan diet, you're just going to have to face the fact that you're going to eat mostly vegetables. To think that you're going to enjoy a bacon-wrapped steak with cheese on bread that tastes exactly the same but magically without animal byproducts is insane. And do you think the owners of cafe gratitude give a shit about the planet? There's plastic galore in that place, along with god knows how many cleaning chemicals needed in order to meet the health code. Not to mention air conditioning a massive brand new building in the heart of Larchmont. But hey, it's okay, because you're eating vegan and that's all that matters. Who cares if it tastes like goat feed.

Name: Cafe Gratitude
Genre: Vegan Cafe
Value: Expensive considering you're entire meal is made out of rhubarb and air.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: A personal stash of bacon.
Rating: 1 / 5

Saturday, January 19, 2013

35. The Bagel I Had This Morning

It was pretty good - cream cheese, tomato, onion, lox, black pepper, etc. I give it 5 stars. What I really want to talk about is what I had to suffer through on my television this morning. I have Netflix streaming on my TV, which gives me regrettably poor discretion on movies that I'll watch. I've watched some pretty bad films, from the documentary about Monopoly to Wild Things: Foursome. Today though, I witnessed probably the worst movie that's ever been made - not just by man, but the whole of intelligent life in the universe.

Have you ever been playing on the internet and come across some link you knew was trouble? It has a title like "ManStepsOntoTrainTracks.gif" and tags which read NSFW or NSFL all over them. Then, lo and behold, you click it and it's a recycling clip of a man stepping onto some train tracks and getting hit by a train and his entire body explodes into a pile of guts and gore? You naturally get grossed out, then fumble to find your "back" button to exit, but haplessly miss it? Then all of a sudden the clip plays again. And again. And again. Then suddenly realize you're transfixed on this morbid display of human mortality? You're literally watching every second dissecting the events which could have led up to this horrible tragedy and quite simply you cannot surmise the strength to stop watching this man die? Pure, unadulterated fascination overtakes you as to who would film this, and why would they feel people needed to see it? Well, that's kind of what this movie was like.

The movie is called Monster Brawl and it's quite literally the biggest piece of shit I've ever seen. I could almost smell the shit smell while watching it.

 "But if it was so bad, why did you continue watching it?" You're probably asking. Good question.
It was, as mentioned above, like watching a car wreck. I was SO fascinated that someone would put so much effort into something that is so clearly bad. Centered around a wrestling ring in the middle of a graveyard, historic monsters battle it out WWE style - complete with clotheslines, body-slams, and the since-forgotten smack talk in front of a green screen. Really? REALLY? Yes, believe it.

The "story" if you could call it that, drags on. Each story-arc follows the same basic premise:

1) Introduce the two monster fighters via a short origin story (probably the best part of the film) For example, during the Frankenstein segment, they show a Russian scientist working on old Frankie, bringing him to life, and getting him prepped for his big match.

2) Show some hokey graphic of their vital stats as explained by two ring announcers who have some of the worst written dialogue I've ever heard. I'm just like, What the Fuck? Why is R. Lee Ermey talking to the Texas Oil Tycoon from the Simpsons about how The Cyclops has 10 more victories by way of knockout then does Zombie Man? I kid you not.

The best part of the film.
3) Have each creature slowly lumber into the ring and do their man-dance for the crowd that doesn't exist (never mind the cheering noises). This is commentated by WWE's own Jimmy Hart, who's standing next to two chicks in bikini's each holding a banner for their specific monster. I stand corrected by saying this was the best part of the film because you can see underboob on the model on the right. Each monster does this and it takes like 15 minutes. Plus it was on Netflix so it was pretty hard to pause the film and see prolonged underboob.
4) More badly-written announcer dialogue.

5) The worst choreographed "fight" in a "ring" that looks like it's been purchased 2 hours before shooting from a boxing gym. I'm no production designer, but wouldn't a ring that looks somewhat archaic be a little better than a black and red UFC training ring? Also, every time a monster would land a punishing hit, the voice from Mortal Kombat would boom out, exclaiming things like "EXCELLENT."  and "BRUTAL HIT." Oh, did I mention that these monsters are fighting for the coveted Monster Brawl Championship Belt?

6) 10 minutes of pointless follow-up usually involving the redneck announcers.

Sound boring? Well don't worry, you get to watch that exact same thing like 5 times. Then the movie abruptly ends and you've lost two hours of your life minus the 3 seconds you saw some underboob.If there were a contest for who could snort the most cocaine and come up with the worst movie idea, I still don't think the winner could top Monster Brawl.

The bagel, as mentioned, was good.

Name: The Bagel I ate while watching Monster Brawl.
Genre: Jewish food, Z-list film.
Value: An utter waste of time. 
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: A fast forward button.
Rating: 0 / 5