To my immense satisfaction, I have discovered the town I intend to call home once my projected whirlwind of post-college vegan activism subsides: Woodstock, NY. Rife with vegan options in every eatery, hole-in-the-wall boutiques boasting handcrafted goods, open-air flea markets, a superb farm sanctuary, and tie-dye-clad hippies constantly reminiscing about the 60’s, Woodstock harbors more quaint charm than a red checkered tablecloth. My mother and I ventured to the town on a whim during her two-day visit to Vassar last weekend, unaware that our whim would transform into both my newfound fierce adoration of Woodstock, and a day of delectable vegan eats.
In search of a high-quality vegan restaurant in Upstate to escape the rather limited dining options in Poughkeepsie, I first caught wind of Garden Cafe on the Green via the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary website’s restaurant suggestion page. Imbibing the vegan philosophy directly into their mission statement (“we do not use animal products or any other products that cause pain and suffering”), the folks at Garden Cafe act as proud activists, ardent supporters of the Sanctuary, and immensely talented chefs.
Directly to the right of the Garden Cafe’s bright and cozy indoor dining room, the verdant garden offers outdoor seating among copious flowers and widely smiling patrons, both vegan and otherwise. As if the arm-like tree branches offering hugs of nature didn’t serve as welcome enough, the menu’s assertion that “everything on menu is vegan” assured me of the kind, compassionate, hospitable hands of Garden Cafe.
Boasting a widely varied brunch menu of salads, sandwiches, soups, tofu scrambles, french toast, vegan bowls, and entree specials, Garden Cafe ensures a delightful eating experience for any style of diner, whether omnivores sampling indulgent vegan fare or highly health-conscious, long-time avoiders of animal flesh and secretions. While I essentially could have closed my eyes, twirled my finger, randomly pointed to a menu item, and reveled in the scrumptiousness of any of the Cafe’s dishes, the daily entree special left me particularly enamored: a platter consisting of four loosely Asian-themed components to culminate in a veritable celebration of the taste buds that I have not experienced in a great while.
From top-right traveling clockwise, my superb meal included succulent yet pleasantly crunchy sauteed bok choy in a sumptuous peanut sauce topped with sesame seeds, a rainbow-colored pilaf of coconut red rice studded with carrots and celery, amazingly tender-crisp curried roasted cauliflower with sweet peas and red peppers served as a refreshing cold salad, and wasabi chip crusted tempeh triangles smothered with apple-ginger chutney. Need I say more?
Obviously, I could hardly depart from this haven of gourmet vegan fare without sampling a dessert, to the tune of a warm peach-blueberry crumble topped with vanilla soy ice cream. Wowza.
After our epiphany of a lunch, my mother and I strolled through the town of Woodstock, stumbling upon a yoga studio, an adorable bed-and-breakfast, an overwhelming array of handmade jewelry and clothing boutiques, a smoothie and juice bar called Press and Blend, the Tea Shop of Woodstock at which I sipped a breathtaking iced infusion of coconut-almond green tea, and an astoundingly hippie-ish bakery called Peace Love & Cupcakes at which we purchased two raw chocolate cupcakes (one of which my non-vegan dormmate ended up eating and exclaiming, “This is the best cupcake I’ve ever had!”).
As if by miracle, one of the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition’s co-presidents recently informed me that we will journey up to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary this Saturday for some animal lovin’, followed by a lunch at none other than Garden Cafe on the Green. I can hardly contain my excitement in returning to the town and will certainly scribe a blog post in the near future detailing my upcoming Woodstock adventures.
Comment Provoking Questions: Have you ever visited a farm animal sanctuary? If so, which one? What were your experiences there like? Have you ever been to Woodstock? What were your impressions?
Happy Vegan MoFo!
Until next time, Ali.