Party Animals Discover Vegan Decadence at the Montclair Animal Shelter Block Party

by Melody Kettle

Saturday’s Block Party on North Willow Street was a celebration of doggies, the dougie, and deliciousness. Truth be told there was only one kid doing the dougie, and it was in the bounce house, but I love alliteration so deal with it! But why on earth is a food site writing about an animal shelter? Its all about the party treats!

The block party featured a baked goods sale consisting of vegan treats made especially for the event. There were vegan versions of snicker doodles, chocolate cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies and more. The best thing about them was that unless someone said they were vegan it was impossible to tell weren’t the “real thing.”

While vegetarianism has been around for centuries in many eastern cultures, the terms vegan and vegetarian didn’t make their presence known in western culture until right after World War II, in England. (I know, England, in the 1940s! I was expecting Berkeley in the 1960s.) Sir Paul McCartney’s definition of vegetarianism is the best – “I don’t eat anything with a face.” That definition is really easy to understand, since eggs and dairy products are a part of the vegetarian lifestyle vegetarian baked goods are not hard to understand.

Vegan on the other hand gets tricky as no animal products including honey are used in baking. For many who adopt a vegan diet the choice is made because of practices done in factory farming. Cakes and pastry get their lift from leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda. Brownies and treats get their gooey goodness from fruit like applesauce and dates. Frostings are made with sugars, natural syrups and sometimes soy cream cheese. I was skeptical about the soy cream cheese at first until I realized its taste was more akin to Mascarpone than the salty Philly plus it solves those kosher issues many of us face when our extended mixed families get together. Bottom line : Vegan is delicious.

Sadly the 2012 block party is a memory, so your ability to sample vegan treats for charity has past. So you’ll just have to trust on this one, a good vegan baker or cook can do things with flavors that leave you in awe so try a vegan dish the next time you’re out and about in Montclair. In the past several months vegan dishes have started to appear on the menus of many local restaurants. Speaking for myself I know I’ll point out vegan and vegetarian discoveries on Hot From The Kettle as I find them.

In addition to the vegan bake sale, there were food items donated by local restaurants for the event. As usual Le Salbuen presented a real winner. Their carrot salad has been a favorite photography subject of mine since I first tasted it in May. It’s also vegan.

Other restaurants that contributed were Red Eye Café. I’m a little addicted to the picked blueberries on their Blue Velvet Sandwich and can probably write an entire story about just that sandwich. Their donations were among the most generous of all supporters. Two other generous donors were O.A. Peterson Construction on North Willow and Montclair Bikery on Valley Road.

Eagan and Sons, Gencarelli’s Bakery in Bloomfield, Veggie Heaven, the Brookdale ShopRite, Four Seasons and Nauna’s on Valley Road, Starbucks on Church and Uptown 596 all donated food for the party. Other supporters who made donations include Montclair Feed and Supply, All Lacrosse on Valley Rd, Chameleon Antiques on Walnut St, Clores Flowers and Dupre Framing on Valley Rd and CVS on Claremont. A special bark out goes to New Leash on Life Dog Training and Mandy’s Dog Grooming in Nutley. Here’s something cool about Mandy’s – dogs adopted at the shelter receive their first grooming at Mandy’s for free.

The Montclair Animal Shelter is one of my favorite places in the area. Its just fun to visit the dogs and hang out in the cat room. Doing a story for another publication last year I met Rosie, decided she needed a more formal name, and took her home as Rosalita Towanda, Virgin Dowager of Los Penasquitos - (yeah, there’s a bit of a Downton Abbey title associated with her name plus a wee a bit of San Diego in her name. There are so many wonderful animals that it’s hard to stop by without wanting to take someone home, the bright side is that by sharing about the shelter someone else will discover that new best friends are just waiting to be found. Don’t even get me started about the cat room, let’s just say that despite not being a cat person I went home with Lola, who like other Madonna, Cher and Charo only needs one name.

Although a municipal shelter, government funding for the shelter provides the minimal state mandated care for the animals. At Montclair, the donations of material items and money provide soft bedding for the dogs and cats, toys, and even veterinary care for animals whose illnesses might result in being put down in other shelters. (a dog with an ear infection will get special medication, a cat with a urinary tract infection will receive the necessary care at the Montclair Animal Shelter, that sort of care is not mandated by the state and is available because of the volunteers and donors). The Montclair Animal Shelter is also special as it is a no kill shelter meaning that an animal that is not adopted will have a home for as long as it takes to find the right person to go home with.

During the block party the adoption process was started for several dogs and cats. The other fun surprise was the number of people who signed up to volunteer. Dog walkers and other help is always needed. In addition gifts of food, towels (including those frayed beach towels)m and dog toys are welcomed.
The Montclair Animal Shelter is at 77 North Willow Street, near the Walnut Street Train Station. It is open on Tuesdays from 2pm to 6pm, Wednesdays to Sunday from 2pm to 4pm. The staff knows that not everyone can visit the shelter at those times so appointments to meet your new best friend can be made by calling 973-844-8600.