Sunday, March 07, 2010
I am really excited about the opening of The Divine Cupcake at 1680 W. 11th in Eugene. The day they opened there was a line out the door for the free cupcakes they offered each new customer who came by to celebrate the grand opening. It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase to the local community just how delicious vegan can be.
Divine Cupcakes have moved a long way up the yummy scale since I first tasted them at a local market a couple of years ago. In all fairness to DC, it is possible that the cupcakes I tasted in the past sat too long on store shelves before I bought them. But with their own retail outlet, that's no longer an issue. Their cupcakes are moist and delicious, and the their frosting is sweet and butter-creamy. I love all the cute names they come up with for their array of flavors like Thai Me Up, The Electric Pumpkin, and Bananarama. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try them all, (Thai Me Up is a peanut curry-flavored cake topped with peanut buttercream frosting sprinkled with ground chili peppers), but you can sure count me in for a Lavender cupcake the very first time I see one.
With so many flavors to choose from, it's difficult to imagine ever growing tired of stopping by for a treat. And I really like the fact that they offer minis as well as full-sized cupcakes for those of us attempting to watch our calorie intake, and sugar-free and gluten-free choices, as well.
The interior is pretty and inviting—it's the kind of place I could get used to hanging out in, far too often for my own good. If you love cupcakes, check out Divine Cupcake.
Seemingly overnight we received the blessing of not one, but TWO vegan food carts in Eugene! Viva Vegetarian Grill (formerly known as "The Tofurky Food Cart") is located in a parking lot on the east side of Willamette at 12th.
The day I visited Viva Vegetarian Grill, it was a typical cold and overcast winter day. But that didn't stop patrons from lining up outdoors for lunch.
Owner Dave Wagenheim has been feeding hungry country fair attendees and Eugene residents and visitors since 2006. His fun-food menu includes vegan versions of the classic Tempeh Reuben, Footlong Hotdog, and Philly Cheesesteak!
The other vegan food cart is Cornbread Cafe, located on the southeast corner of 13th and Oak.
The lovely ladies there offer some of the tastiest vegan comfort food I've ever tasted.
With down-home choices like Southern Fried Tofu and Barbeque Pull-A-Parts, you can get yours as a plate or sandwich, with sides of Mac UnCheese, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, or Fries and Uncle Todd's Mess O'Greens or Sassy Slaw. I always opt for the BBQ plate with perfectly cooked greens, yummy Mac UnCheese, and some really darn delicious cornbread.
Finally, I visited Holy Donuts. Before I say what I'm about to, let me preface it by saying that anyone who has ever read any of my books, newspaper or magazine articles or blog posts knows that it is not my style to criticize. I generally only write about things I am crazy about, because my philosophy is that there is enough negativity in the world. But I'm pretty disappointed and confused right now. Holy Donuts has been marketing and wholesaling vegan donuts around Eugene for the last two years and finally opened a retail location on Willamette. I couldn't wait to check it out and was immediately enchanted with their insanely cute little courtyard and shop.
But my cheerful mood soon evaporated when I noticed that there were little signs saying "dairy and egg-free" on only some of the donuts in the display case. Wait a minute, isn't this a vegan donut shop? I mean that's what their facebook logo and business card said:
So I asked the gal behind the counter, "Are all of your donuts vegan?" Well, everything except the maple twists, which have have bacon on them," she answered. Bacon? Are you kidding me? "Why?" I asked. "Because people like it," she matter-of-factly replied. (I later learned that they sometimes use eggs, too.) When I heard this news, I felt deeply disappointed, because my need for consistency/logic/compassion was not being met. I'm all for supporting businesses that are moving towards veganism, but away from it? Sorry, but I don't think there's anything "holy" about animal flesh on any baked good, especially one that is touted as vegan. I had just taken a bite of a little banana cream donut when I received this news, and it put me off completely. I just couldn't take another bite. Owner Karen Nunley, who is not vegan, assured me that she has issues of any potential cross-contamination from animal products under control. That may bring comfort to many vegans, but it doesn't bring any comfort to me. Apparently, I'm not the only one who was duped into thinking the donuts at their shop are vegan:
If you're going to build your business as a vegan company and then change the game plan, that just feels like bait-and-switch marketing to me. Bacon? I completely understand that most people who eat donuts in Eugene (or anywhere else for that matter) are not vegan. But no one was ever offended by a donut that didn't contain meat, eggs, or dairy, especially if it tasted delicious. On the other hand, I think that you run a risk turning off the very heart and soul of your market if you start including animal products after years of promoting them as vegan. I also realize that there are some vegan businesses that simply don't survive. But in my experience, they have failed to thrive for reasons having nothing to do with being vegan. But maybe I'm wrong. What do you think? Am I being overly critical? Have you ever experienced bait-and-switch marketing? How did you feel?
Posted by Vegiegail at 3:16 PM