Monday, March 29, 2010

Here's to your Health: Edge of the Woods

With swimsuit season just around we have decided to tackle the first installment of Healthy Eats from the Elm City. We have also started an exercise routine, not for the gawkers at the meat market, but for ourselves. We believe life cannot be fully lived or fully enjoyed unless the person living it is in good health. For the next two post we have sworn off of French fries and pork rinds. Maybe we have been inspired by Jamie Oliver's crusade on the American diet or just plain vanity. Either way, with the interest of our waist line and taste buds equally in mind we dined at The Edge of the Woods.

We have both dined here before, many years ago, both separately and together. In the past we were drawn in by the exotic sounding word "vegan". We thought that our lunch selection would make us appear sexier to those girls with tattoos and dreadlocks. As our taste in women and food changed we soon forgot about that little spot on Whalley. Our return was like looking that old, tattooed, high school sweetheart up on The Facebook; only minus the masturbation

Edge of the Woods is like a Cracker Barrel for those who read the Torah and Noam Chomsky: it is a half shopping, half dinning destination. One can shop for organic groceries, herbal cure-alls, or enjoy their hot food, sandwiches and baked goods. We associate Edge of the Woods with unwashed bike messenger types and sociology majors; those who bum handrolled cigarettes and will only ride a fixed gear bicycle. It reminds us of that old joke made famous by Jeff Foxworthy before he discovered redneck humor: "If your record collection consists of 7 inches ordered from a Seattle zine...you just might be a vegan."

The self-serve buffet has been called "A vegan Conn Hall," by a friend of ours and employee of Edge of the Woods. His identity shall remain anonymous after those malicious remarks. For those of you out there unfamiliar with Conn Hall, it is the mess hall at Southern Connecticut State University. The food does not taste like death warmed over, but death warmed over, refrozen and then reheated again, plus more yuckiness. The food at Edge of the Woods sits like an unwanted newborn at room temperature. Mendez dabbed at his eyes with his monogrammed handkerchief like an Indian seeing litter for the first time. Food needs warmth and love. The food here is dried out not by the omni-shining heat lamp, but by time. "Where's the integrity?" Hans asked scooping a macaroni salad to his plate: like the chef, he too can read the back of an Annie's box. Out of our entire selection we like the cauliflower pie best. It was essentially mashed potatoes made with cauliflower, not the most original of dishes, but tasty non-the-less. Mendez enjoyed the spinach salad immensely finding the sweet onion to be paired well with craisins and the salad's mixed nuts.

Vegan options are where chances can be taken. The limited ingredients should open the doors of creativity allowing chefs and food to shine. Instead one tray of slop with cheese is no different than slop without cheese. The food at the buffet is 5.95 a pound. It's best to get a variety of things to push around with a fork and make new flavors. The average price of a sandwich is five dollars. Unfortunately the sandwiches are made with pre-packaged "meat"slices.

The dessert case is packed with the sweetest of eats. The mocoa chocolate chip cookie Hans munched was a tiny bit burnt but the coffee taste made up for that. Mendez thought his trail mix cookie was the best part of his meal. Great flavor, good texture, it is a cookie done right.

Location is what makes Edge of the Woods stand out. This area of Whalley Avenue is known for meaty dishes; soul food and Chinese take out places are every other block. The dining room looks out unto Whalley Avenue. Mendez had no idea so many lending businesses and lawyers could fit on one block. Sitting behind the fake plastic plants in the dining room, we heard many silly conversations, such as the pie guy, who asked for the "juiciest, sweetest, most delicious slice of pie" Edge of the Woods has. The employees talk about their hours being cut and the latest organic coffee being served. They are sure to repeat the name four or five times so anyone overhearing conversations is punished for doing so. The bloggers would recommend Edge of the Woods to anyone who is on a lunch break or walking by. It's certainly better to eat tempeh than any thing from the Burger King a block over.