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72 Hours with the Goo Goo Dolls’ Mike Malinin

The vegan alt-rock drummer takes us through an action-packed weekend of great vegan eats and Obama’s inauguration.

Mike Malinin isn’t just the drummer of chart-topping rock band the Goo Goo Dolls—he’s a vegan with a goal: to eat well no matter where his tour may take him. Thankfully, Malinin has the opportunity to visit myriad cities (and their eateries) on his travels with the band, which also give him access to amazing events like the inaugural balls that took place in late January. We followed him for 72 hours as he noshed, drummed, schmoozed, and slept through an amazing weekend in Washington, DC.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 19
The Goo Goo Dolls were scheduled to perform at one of the inaugural balls in Washington, DC on Monday, January 21. I flew to DC on Saturday night, and decided to spend Sunday with my sister and her family in Silver Spring, MD. Flying in from Los Angeles, I arrived at my sister’s house suffering the tail end of a massive flu that I had caught the week before. Luckily a good night’s sleep seemed to cure me of the final bits of my illness, and I began my culinary adventures.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 20
9:30am: My sister has been a vegetarian for years, so I enjoyed breakfast at her house. I kept it simple, with an organic banana, black coffee, and a bagel with Tofutti vegan cream cheese.

12:00pm: My brother-in-law was able to join us at this point for a feast of vegan pancakes with blueberries and strawberries. Delicious. I need to get the recipe!

6:00pm: After hiking with my sister’s family and visiting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s grave, I consulted my HappyCow app and we made our way to Yuan Fu Vegetarian Restaurant in Rockville, MD. As the menu explained, the restaurant uses animal names for its cuisine, but the “meats” are made from Chinese vegetable products. I started with a bowl of Wonton Soup, and we ordered fried and steamed dumplings for the table. Our main courses were Crispy Orange Chicken with Broccoli, Tofu Skin Rolls with Black Bean Sauce, and the Duck and Mushroom Hot Pot. It turned out to be an excellent dinner—this is one of the best Chinese vegetarian restaurants I have ever been to. I would highly recommend it, and it would be a great place to take a meat-eating friend and treat them to a great vegan meal since many of the dishes are familiar.

MONDAY, JANUARY 21
11:30am: I made my way to my hotel in Alexandria, VA on Sunday night. I had a 2:00pm lobby call for sound check, so I decided to skip breakfast and have an early lunch. A couple of days earlier I happened to notice a tweet from Compassion Over Killing, a vegan advocacy group based in DC, that had a link to vegan eating spots in the DC metro area. I contacted COK, and I quickly received an invitation to a lunch meeting with COK's communications coordinator, Katie Vann! She suggested that we avoid DC due to all the inauguration traffic, and meet at Busboys and Poets in Arlington, VA. After a short cab ride, I met Katie at the restaurant and we found ourselves a table. I ordered a cup of coffee with soy creamer and a tofu scramble, which came with home fries and vegan sausage. The inauguration was beginning as we were eating. It was great talking to Katie about her vegan journey and the great work that COK does every day. Vegan activists like her are real heroes to me, putting themselves in the midst of the fight and dealing with the very ugly reality of the food industry on a daily basis. I was flattered by her invitation and enjoyed some of the great food that makes Busboys and Poets a popular place amongst locals in the DC area.

6:00pm: After the Goo Goo Dolls sound check, we went back to the hotel where we had exactly one hour before we had to leave for the show. Once again relying on my trusty HappyCow app, I searched for the closest possible place I could eat. I found a vegan-friendly Asian restaurant a block away called, simply enough, Asian Wok Cafe. Mainly a take-out place, there were a few tables inside where I sat with a couple of my bandmates. I ordered the vegan Kung Pao Shrimp, and it was quite good. I had to eat quickly to make it back to the hotel on time, but it is nice to know that the locals in Alexandria obviously have some great vegan options that they can count on when they are in a hurry.

8:00pm: We arrived at the event and walked the red carpet. Most of the major news media outlets were there, and it was exciting to see that Jesse Jackson was directly behind us in line. After answering questions about our hopes for Obama’s second term (and our Super Bowl predictions), we went inside and got ready for the performance. The event, hosted by The Creative Coalition, took place at the Harman Center for the Arts, and it was great to be part of the event. Afterwards, I grabbed a few pieces of fruit and took my exhausted self back to the hotel where I promptly passed out for a few hours sleep before catching an early flight back to Los Angeles.

TUESDAY, JAN 22
2:00pm
: My wife picked me up at Burbank Airport, and we headed to Tony’s Darts Away, a local favorite in Burbank that serves craft beer and vegan food. I was proud to end my trip with a Vegan Tailgate Dog, which is a vegan beer brat topped with brown mustard, grilled onions, and sauerkraut. Along with an order of sweet potato fries and a Taps cream ale, it was a great way to celebrate being back in Los Angeles. We then headed home and I took a long, much needed nap.

To keep up with the Goo Goo Dolls and hear their new single, “Rebel Beat,” visit googoodolls.com.


Photo: Asia Lecureuil

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