Archive for August, 2011

Vegan in Coolsprings – Brixx: Wood Fired Pizza

August 31st, 2011

A new vegan option has cropped up in the Coolsprings area. Brixx:Wood Fired Pizza has opened on McEwen Drive next to Whole Foods and behind Bricktops.  I managed to get a pre-opening invite to enjoy dinner while they practiced their daily motions thanks to Coolsprings.com.

The website and menu clearly states many of their items can be made vegan and that they offer vegan cheese as a substitute for regular cheese at no extra charge which is uncommon as there is typically an extra cost for this which most restaurants adopt. Brixx uses Follow Your Heart mozzarella (UPDATE: Brixx is now using Daiya mozzarella as their vegan cheese option)so you’ll be getting a quality vegan cheese and it’s truly vegan so no worries about whether it contains casein.

Our complimentary dinner included one appetizer, a salad, two pizzas, a sandwich and a pasta dish.

Brixx Menu Vegan

We chose the Wood Fired Pita Chips and Three Dips as our appetizer.  It was served on a large plate with three small scoops of hummus: black bean hummus, roasted red pepper hummus and traditional hummus. The hummus was served on a bed of greens and topped with roasted red peppers and cumin. Pita triangles, the equivalent of about three pitas, that had been toasted in the pizza oven were served around the perimeter of the plate. The hummus was very thick which made dipping a bit hard but flavorful and at $5.95 was a good appetizer though I would like a little more hummus. I didn’t get to eat much of this one as the kid really enjoyed it and decided to take it for her own. That’s a positive vote for the hummus.

Brixx Salad - No Cheese

Our salad was a modified Brixx Salad. We modified this one by simply leaving off the goat cheese. The salad is a spring mix topped with croutons and pistachios and served with a balsamic vinaigrette. It’s served with a large piece of focaccia which looked to have cheese toasted onto it so we just ignored the bread. I’ll be sure to inquire next time about it as it did look very inviting sitting on the edge of the plate. Another $5.95 selection and worth it. I would consider it a big salad. It’s enough to share if you’re having an entree as well.

We chose two pizzas, the Artichoke which is served with a basil pesto instead of red sauce. We asked our server if the pesto contained cheese and she quickly ran back to the kitchen to ask. She returned to tell us it did and we substituted red sauce instead. Substituting seems to be welcome at Brixx and didn’t throw any confusion into the process so have at it if need be. The Artichoke pizza is topped with artichokes, roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. This pizza could be named the 80’s pizza. Anything with sun-dried tomatoes belongs in the 80’s. Not that I’m complaining about sun-dried tomatoes, I love them. Then again I love the 80’s, so there. Of course, we also substituted the mozzarella for Follow Your Heart cheese. Our second pizza was the Wood-Roasted Vegetable. This was more of a typical veggie pizza with mushrooms I couldn’t tell which type exactly, broccoli, bell peppers and onion. Substituting Follow Your Heart cheese this was also a very good pizza but I think I pick the Artichoke pizza as my favorite of the two. I just really like artichokes on a pizza and then there’s that 80’s thing. The kid got her own kid-sized pizza with red sauce and vegan cheese. She devoured the entire pizza, a good mark as this kid is a very picky eater.

Wood-Roasted Vegetable Pizza with Follow Your Heart Mozzarella

Wood-Roasted Vegetable Pizza with Follow Your Heart Mozzarella

All of Brixx’s pizzas are on a thin, crisp crust and baked in a wood oven. The crust is available in original white flour or whole wheat and both contain nothing animal-derived right down to the turbinado sugar used. These are 100% vegan pizzas when ordered with Follow Your Heart vegan cheese. Brixx also serves pizzas with a gluten-free crust option at a $2 upcharge giving the gluten-challenged a pizza beacon that some may have missed for some time. Prices for the pizzas range from $8.95 to $11.95 though a pizza without all of the animal accoutrements will be in the $8.95-$9.95 range.   These are 10-inch pizzas, six slices per pizza and with a good dose of toppings.  Another note to keep in mind, after 10pm all pizzas and appetizers are 2-for-1.  Get your late-night munchies on!

Artichoke Pizza with Follow Your Heart vegan cheese

Artichoke Pizza with Follow Your Heart vegan cheese

Brixx Kid's Pizza - Vegan Cheese Pizza

The Kid's pizza selection: A Vegan Cheese Pizza

We also ordered a Wild Mushroom Wrap. I expected the typical wrap: fillings in a run-of-the-mill tortilla. I don’t know why I expected that but that’s the typical wrap these days. That’s not what we got. We were served a mix of portobello, shitake and white mushrooms, spinach and Follow Your Heart cheese wrapped in a slightly toasted pizza crust. One of the franchisees came to our table and explained that they put the pizza crust in the oven for two minutes and then wrap the fillings in it. This is a great wrap.  The pizza crust made this wrap superb not to mention the fresh, tasty fillings. If you’re ordering this as a vegan be sure to leave off the sun-dried tomato (80’s) aioli and substitute the Gorgonzola cheese. $7.95 for the Wild Mushroom Wrap.  All sandwiches and wraps are served with a choice of pasta salad, bean salad, fresh fruit or chips.

Brixx Wild Mushroom Wrap with Follow Your Heart cheese and no sun-dried tomato aioli

Brixx Wild Mushroom Wrap with Follow Your Heart cheese and no sun-dried tomato aioli

Brixx Wild Mushroom Wrap with Follow Your Heart cheese and no sun-dried tomato aioli

Brixx Wild Mushroom Wrap with Follow Your Heart cheese and no sun-dried tomato aioli

We didn’t get a pasta as we were already feeling like pigs.  There are vegan options on the pasta menu and whole wheat pastas are available as well.

Brixx also has a wide range of beers on tap including Abita Root Beer for the sugar-fiends. With the 2-for-1 pizza deal and array of brews look for Brixx to be busy late nights and with the delicious food they should keep a good crowd at all other times. I’m proud to have a new vegan option in Coolsprings.

 

UPDATE: Brixx now uses Daiya mozzarella as their vegan cheese option.

 

(Brixx also has a location in Hendersonville at 300 North Indian Lake Boulevard.)

Brixx: Wood Fired Pizza
1550 West McEwen Drive Suite 10
Franklin, Tennessee 37067
(615) 771-7797

Hours: Monday – Saturday 11am-1am, Sunday 11am-11pm

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Garden Residents

August 30th, 2011

Black Widow Spider

Over time any garden will pick up residents: snails, ladybugs, aphids, snakes and spiders. Our herb gardens are ringed with large rocks and these make a perfect home for Black Widow spiders. Lift a rock and you’re likely greeted by one waving one of its eight legs at you and thanking you for giving her such a nice place to drop an egg sac. The problem is, I don’t want them. I have a child that likes to play in the yard and I don’t want to worry about her being bit and I should have to tell her to stay away from places in the yard. Another problem is the herb garden is organic so poisons are a no-no there as they are anywhere else in our yard. I have read that cinnamon oil and eucalyptus oils work to repel the spiders but those aren’t working too well. So, does anyone have any experience in driving these garden residents away?

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The Offensive Vegan

August 14th, 2011

This post was originally written 8/8/11. I waited a few days before posting to be sure it was how I still felt. It is. It’s a little rough as I typed it up quickly as the ideas were fresh in my mind. Many will not agree with some of these statements, vegans included. Whether you agree or disagree I still appreciate you taking the time to read.

I can’t count the number of times someone has taken issue with me being vegan. It happens quite regularly. Most often it occurs when I tell someone I’m vegan only when offered something to eat. I’ll politely decline and then I’m asked “Why? Do you not like (fill in animal product)?” I’ll reply “No, I’m vegan.” Most people know what what vegan means when I tell them. After all, Oprah, bless her money-filled little heart, taught the soccer moms everything they needed to know in order to be a perfect vegan right down to what processed plastic food to buy so little Jimmy would like dinner**. Still, I sometimes get the blank gaze of confusion like I just proclaimed to be from the planet Garzepon. “Duh, what is vegan?” After explaining that I don’t drink milk, eat cheese, eat eggs or any animal product including meat the obligatory “But you eat chicken, right?” or “Fish is OK, right?”  You see, people can’t grasp the idea of going without the cholesterol laden foods they’ve come to love and in turn they can’t imagine anyone else doing without.  So, naturally they believe, though you state emphatically you consume nothing from the animal world, that you’ll indeed eat chicken or fish because, let’s face it, those aren’t really animals, are they? Well, at least they clearly aren’t considered such by these brainiacs.

Today I was working at a local business while an employee had lunch nearby. She went on about how she enjoyed the McDonald’s she was pushing into her face like a person stuffing an already overstuffed suitcase. She asked me if I had tried something that was apparently a new item at the Poison Arches. When I told her no she jumped to insist I go right away and try this dreamy concoction. Then upon telling her that I’m a vegan I was quickly met with, “That’s not healthy! You need the vitamins in meat!” I need the vitamins in meat? Not wanting to quickly lose a client based on my diet and arguing about it while making the money they pay I decided to just let her talk. Listening attentively, the non-intelligence that ensued from the woman’s mouth ranged from the original, “Those sharp teeth are for meat.” to, “I bet you have no energy.” At that point I politely invited her on a 100+ mile bike ride with me and asked if she’s tried P90X. I told her I have more energy now than at anytime in the 28 years I consumed animal meat.  No excuses from her or explanations of my high energy. I asked her to explain, she couldn’t. You see I get these arguments all the time. None of her statements were new and neither was the last thing out of her mouth: “The bible says…” I don’t know what she was going to state from her bible as at that moment I finished my work and interrupted her to say have a nice day and then leave.  I wasn’t about to give her my thoughts on what she was surely about to spout as religion and work never mix well. I clearly offended her by choosing to abstain from the consumption of animal products.  It is not the first time I’ve had this experience with someone and it is sure to not be the last.

If you’re a vegan chances are you’ve been in this situation before. You may have handled it differently. I get it so often I try not to carry out the argument. I’ll inform them, if they seem open to the discussion, that since being vegan I don’t get sick nearly as often. I have more energy that I ever did. I pay more attention to what I eat and how I prepare what I eat now than before being vegan and in turn I eat healthier. Do I get enough protein? 90-120 grams a day, thank you. Yes, I keep up! Do you? No? Then why the hell are you asking me if I get enough and how would you know that I don’t or, even better, that YOU get enough?

Here’s how it is with me: I don’t preach the vegan mantra 24/7. I’m not the guy walking up to you with VEGAN tattooed on his forehead asking you to please put down the cheeseburger because the cows love you. If you want to eat that slab of beef then fine, that’s your choice. But DO NOT tell me my choice to be vegan is wrong. DO NOT tell me my decision to not fill my body with poisons will be a decision that will kill me. DO NOT sit gorging yourself on your pus-burger and tell me that I’m not getting the proper nutrients. You sound like the fat idiot drone the cattelman’s association has grown your lazy ass to be. They would be proud of you.  Send them a picture.

I’m sure some vegans aren’t happy with me. I don’t go gung ho, all out vegan like I’m a PETA die-hard. I’m sure there are some meat-eaters that may be reading this ready to jump and tell me where I’m wrong similar to what Ms. Big-Mac-Is-Clogging-My-Bowel wanted to try to point out. Go on and try but remember, you’re doing it because you feel guilty. Yes, it’s true. Deny. Deny all you want but in the end you will be the one in a nursing home hooked to an oxygen machine with a colostomy bag at 60 years old. I’ll be the one biking down A1A in the sunshine. But I’ll think about you lying there. Yeah, you should have put the Whopper down.

In the end I just care what my family puts in our bodies. No processed foods. No junk. No poisons. No pesticides. No cruelty. I also care about animals. Oh, I guess I’m not manly enough because I care for the little animals. I care for them because I have the human quality of compassion. It covers all living creatures. Practice it and it might make you feel a little better about yourself.

**Mentioning Oprah is typically done with massive amounts of disdain and sarcasm. Here it is no different.

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