What better way to say “I love you” this Sunday that with a plateful of tofu? Adam Sobel, owner of what may be the only vegetarian catering company in New Jersey, is gearing up to debut a new vegan food truck in Hoboken this Valentine’s Day (weather permitting). The Cinnamon Snail will feature a menu of unprocessed, organic, and local foods, with gluten-free, macrobiotic, and raw options available.
“It’s the first vegan, organic food truck in the country,” says Sobel. “There may have been other vegetarian trucks and maybe one or two short-lived vegan, but not like this. We’ll be doing elegant, nourishing food. Not what you expect from a food truck.”
The chef got his start at Tom Valenti’s Ouest, a decidedly carnivorous restaurant, where he found himself constantly defending those who don’t eat meat.
“When vegetarians came in, we all used to groan in the kitchen,” says Sobel. “I was always standing up for them… until someone said, ‘Then, why aren’t you a vegetarian?’ And I said, ‘Good point.’ ”
He gave up meat soon after, and dairy when his daughter was born (“We knew we wanted to raise her vegan”). And he’s never looked back.
“I used to love all kinds of dairy, like fine cheeses. But there are so many delicious things out there that don’t involve [animal] suffering.”
The menu at Cinnamon Snail will feature breakfast, lunch, and snacks, served five days a week. Sobel is particularly proud of the hempseed-encrusted tofu with spicy French mustard dressing over white truffle mashed potatoes and greens (at $14 or $15, it’ll be the most expensive item on the menu). He’ll also do vegan doughnuts (apple cider, Boston cream, blueberry cheesecake flavors), and blue corn pancakes with pinon nut butter and Vermont maple syrup.
“People are so used to bland vegetarian food. They’ll be surprised at the incredible depth of flavor, at the richness of the food,” Sobel promises, adding that he expects to attract meat eaters, as well.
The truck is expected to come to Brooklyn — either Williamsburg or DUMBO — once permits can be secured. But don’t expect a brick-and-mortar Cinnamon Snail at any point in the future: “We home school both our kids,” says Sobel. “This is my life’s dream. I’m so excited. But I don’t want the responsibility [of a restaurant].”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 10, 2010