Y'all know my friend Cassi, right?
Well, this weekend, she was part of the MemSHOP program's Soulsville Saturday pop-up shop fest. MemSHOP is an initiative launched by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton's office to encourage aspiring indie business owners to open pop-up shops in up-and-coming neighborhoods. They offer marketing, advice, etc., and in return, the business owner gets to hold a one-day pop-up or be part of one of their longer six-month pop-up programs.
Soulsville Saturday is a pop-up fest, and would-be business owners get to operate for the day. Cassi applied for the program and was chosen. So on Saturday, she set up shop at the corner of Mississippi and Walker in Soulsville, a neighborhood made famous by the legendary Stax Records (now home of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music).
You may have read previous posts about Cassi's efforts to open a vegan restaurant called Pink Noodle. She's still working on it, but these things take time. So this was excellent branding and a great way for folks to get a sneak peek of her food. On Friday night, a group of friends (myself included) went over to Cassi's and helped her package and prep. So I knew what would be on the menu, but it was still so cool to see it all written out in chalk, pink of course.
I wanted to try everything, but I started with the Neyagawa Salad — romaine, pinto beans, chickpeas, brown rice, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and a homemade ginger dressing. This was so good, and surprisingly my favorite thing on the menu. For this, Cassi recreated the first salad she ate while visiting Japan earlier this year, hence the very Japanese-sounding name. I just loved the brown rice and artichokes with that dressing!
Next, I ordered the Spaghetti Squash with Tempeh. The sauce was a yummy marinara with crumbled tempeh "meat." Healthy and delicious. I love how you can eat a shit-ton of spaghetti squash for almost no calories compared to wheat pasta.
By this point, I was getting full. But I saved room for dessert. On Friday, one of the things I helped with was making chocolates. And I'd been waiting since then to try these Almond Butter Cups. They got a little melty in the heat even though Cassi was trying to keep them on ice as much as possible. So they're a little misshapen. But they tasted amazing!
She also had Quinoa Chocolates, Cookie Butter Chocolates, and Sea Salt Chocolates. I got some of the leftovers of those later, but I haven't eaten them yet.
And she had her famous Pantry Cookies made with almonds and coconut. I also got one of the leftover cookies to take home.
Before I left on Saturday to head to our Memphis gay pride parade, I grabbed a couple items to go since I knew I wouldn't have time to cook dinner. I got some Vegan Lasagna. It didn't plate so pretty, but it was ooey-gooey and delicious with vegan cheese, tofu ricotta, spinach, and mushrooms. I have a theory that good lasagna should never be pretty on a plate. If it looks like a perfect slice, it's probably dry and gross. Gooey-ness is a good lasagna requisite.
And I got some of her Spring Rolls made with rice noodles, bean sprouts, cabbage, and carrots. There was a soy dipping sauce on the side (not pictured).
Overall, it was a great day. Cassi exposed lots of non-vegans to delicious vegan food, and she got the Pink Noodle name out there some more. Team Pink Noodle!
If you're local and you missed it, never fear. Cassi will be popping up again at Rickie & Aimee's Rock-n-Roll Carnival at the Broad Avenue Water Tower Pavilion on October 25th from 2 to 6 p.m. The event is held at the corner of Mississippi and Walker in South Memphis.