Friday, September 26, 2008

Leahey Gardens - Vegan and LIES

So after a good night out (saw local band-to-watch Hammer No More the Fingers and Merge Records' Broken West) after a no-good day (remodeling is like hitting yourself repeatedly in the face with a copper-bottom frying pan), I decided to keep the party going. Sick and I headed over to Stick's house after the show, picked up some beer and settled in. 5 PBRs and several hours later, I crawl up to my room and somehow miraculously wake up to the contractor calling me.

I finished off my arugala, cukes, tomatoes, bread and smart deli yesterday, so I was in a real bind for breakfast. Then I remembered-- I got a shipment from Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe yesterday (If VeganEssentials shipped fresh baked cupcakes and sticky buns, I would probably be getting a shipment from them). I had actually read about a new Chreese alternative called Leahey Gardens (VE was out of stock) that everyone was raving about. I figured this was a sign, because my local whole foods recently stopped stocking chreese for about two weeks and now only stocks the gluten-free (aka the yucky) varieties. And even then, there's usually only one box, hidden at the back. It's like a vegan feeding frenzy on the mac and chreese front. I ordered two packets of Leahey on the good faith that it would be as wonderful as everyone said. Oh, how foolish I was.

So I put a pot to boil, boiled the noodles, dumped them, boiled up the sauce (I made it with soymilk), mixed together and noticed a vaguely milky smell, not a soymilky smell but a milky milky smell. I added some black pepper and waited to salt because I've heard it's salty.

I don't have a real camera right now but I'm working on it, I promise. But see, how in BOLD it promises that it's Vegan & Delicious? It is not. I will trust their "vegan" claim (I have a very sensitive tongue for dairy products), but this is VILE. I remember I was excited because there are about 300 calories in this whole little baggie of pasta as opposed to the 300 calories PER SERVING in Chreese but then I remembered that diet food sucks.

So what was so awful? Aside from the fact that I was really looking forward to a bowl of noodles and a salty, yeasty sauce? I'll tell you.

The noodles, for one, are cheap, thin and flavorless. They remind me a little bit, texture-wise, of the blue box stuff (my roommate left behind a case and I started eating the noodles). They are very thin, a little delicate and almost watery in flavor. I mean, I prefer a heartier pasta. Whole wheat, ideally. So lousy noodles, big deal.

Then the sauce. I made it with a cup of soymilk, which may have been my downfall. The sauce thickened, bubbled and started to look the way I wish my pudding would look in the course of about 30 seconds on the stove. I mixed in the lame noodles, blew on it and was grossed out. The sauce is very buttery/creamy tasting. If you are a vegan searching for something that tastes like dairy, this is a good place to go. I imagine it's what an alfredo sauce would taste like. Yes, I say imagine, I was the kind of kid who would refuse to eat white food. My first time eating and enjoying mayo was after I became a vegan, ditto egg salad, chicken salad etc. But I was a sucker for tri color fusilli and american cheese. I would actually say that the sort of slippery, milky flavor is a little similar to what I dislike about the gluten-free road's end. There doesn't seem to be enough umph to the sauce, if that makes sense. If you love the gluten-free, you might like this. If you like drinking curdled milk you'll probably like this too.

I had planned to divvy it up and take it to work as lunch after having it for b-fast, but I realized that wouldn't do, so I decided to try and do some damage control with another new-ish cheese product called Parma! which does not suck. It's yeasty-goodness. Another blogger said that Parma is greater than the sum of its parts, and it really is. I have used it so far in a mushroom/squash stir fry and it was great. So there's me, trying to dump in some parma. The first bite with parma wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. (Picture is a re-creation. Didn't want to waste good parma!)

I've sucked it up and plan to go to Twisted Noodles for my noodle fix today. Just wanted to let all you unsuspecting victims out there know-- Road's End man. It's our friend.


smalazzo-miller said...

I just discovered Twisted Noodle last month and now I'm hooked! Very happy to see a vegan blog down here in NC!!

Anonymous said...

I got the package that you had and thought the noodles were totally disgusting, but I am obsessed with the "cheese" sauce. Vegan Essentials fortunately sells it in bulk (no noodles!) and I make it with soy milk and Earth Balance, and I think it's way better than Chreese. I eat it all the time now.

kfiresmith said...

Hmm... Some of us have nostalgia for the typical "Kraft-like" mac noodle and really enjoy this. To call this "vile" is quite a bit of melodrama.

Both the noodles package and the bulk sauce mix are A-OK in my book. I prefer it over Roads End, though I do enjoy it only in moderation since it's not really a healthful food.