Gainesville is a university town, so you know vegan options are good… for them educated, idealist types. Starting early, breakfast: The Tempeh Scramble with potatoes, toast with vegan butter and housemade jam at The Jones B-side.
Good, hearty fare, but soy-saucey marinade made the dish a bit salty. And unfortunately I couldn’t stay for a sweet bite, though the v-bombed menu board was certainly tempting.
Despite the record high temperatures, my next stop was a farm. I was visiting Kindred Spirits Sanctuary to meet all the rescues, because it’s one of the best ways to spend the afternoon. The stories of the ___ animals are both devastating and inspiring. And the free tour offers a chance to meet all of the survivors.
Pigs seeking a break from the hot, hot heat.
Playful Kids looking for carrot hand-outs.
Jack asses and Jennies
Pretty eyes. (A blue-eyed “cremello.” Double-dilute (which I suppose is like having two recessive genes in humans) “cream gene” determines this beautiful combination of rosy pink skin and blue eyes)
Feral pig (and feral and domesticated friends)
Baby cow, sweetly search for the suckle.
A handsome turkey… who knew it
After, back in Gainesville, a well-earned lunch at Southern Charm Kitchen, a soul kitchen with a slew of vegan options.
I got the Country Fried Seitan with vegan mac & cheese and corn succotash. Vegan options and spectacular service = Southern hospitality at its finest.
Layered housemade seitan was moist and flavorful.
Karma Cream is one of those places you want to airlift and bring home. Tons of vegan ice cream flavors with vegan toppings that you definitely want.
And baked goods.
My sundae: two scoops coconut ice cream, marshmallows, chocolate sauce, cookie dough and an airy coconut whip. Spectacular!
They even have Florida cookies, though this one was frosted on the wrong side. Doh! Still delicious.
For this school teacher, the summer is the season for Vegan Victuals reporting. Heading south for some loose ends, I first wound up in Savannah, Georgia, a gorgeous little city with a dearth of vegan options. But this was just a quick stop, so no worries. I had a very pleasing vegan breakfast burrito from Sentient Bean, packed with pure yum: tofu scramble, black beans, house “sausage,” spinach and their secret sauce. I don’t mind eating old skool-type vegan when it’s done this well. Also, plenty of vegan baked goods, like my lemon blueberry poppy bread in the background.
And just like that, I was gone… after a Spanish moss detour.
After a few hours of backroads and avoiding the I-95, I made it to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital city. I had lunch at another old-skool-ish veg spot, Sweet Pea Cafe, an adorable cafe with a homey feel.
I got the B.L.T. with tofu lettuce and tomato and a spicy mayo. It reminded me of the sandwiches I used to make when I first started cooking vegan; it reminded me of my old favorite eatery Kate’s Joint. Another basic that was scrumptious in an understated way. Then the side salad with its carrot ginger dressing, that reminded me of Dojo. These places are the roots of my exploration of vegan food and I welcomed the nostalgia.
Speaking of nostalgia, how about an ice cream sundae?
Lofty Pursuits is all about nostalgia, like any good ice cream parlor. But it’s got plenty of vegan options clearly marked on the menu and understood by the counter gals. This sundae had a layer of sliced banana under a scoop of piña colada ice cream, lemon sorbet, and champagne sorbet topped with chocolate sauce, pineapple sauce, nuts, toasted coconut and some fresh-made vegan whipped cream… with a cherry on top. Some of the flavor combinations were a bit weird, which is my fault. Ice cream hindsight is 20/20.
More Northern FL eats tomorrow!
Vegan ShopUp vendor Brooklyn Whiskers has its own space now! The Electrician and I hit them real early to avoid unnecessary social interaction. The fact that they’re actually open early suits us early birders quite nicely. Bakeries should open single-digits early. Them’s the rules.
I got a cinnamon roll with candied pecan. It was yummy but with a stiff dough was missing that soft, drippy, sticky, cinnamon-y ooze you want from a roll.
There was plenty to choose from even at door-busting hour.
But I had to get a croissant stuffed with tofu scramble and potatoes. Vegan croissants are tough. Likely because butter is responsible for most of a croissant’s characteristics. So it’s one of those things that I’ll have to order if available. Though this was more like a layered thin biscuit, it made for a delicious breakfast sandwich.
Looking at layers.
Cats, cats everywhere. How perfect–cat freak all-vegan bakery. Love these Linzer tarts.
I also picked up a red velvet cupcake which more had the texture of a dense almond cookie. Pleasant though not what I was expecting. I really appreciate those real vanilla beans.
The bathroom is covered in cat pictures, floor to ceiling, wall to wall.
The Sanctum has a fresh, vibrant vegan breakfast items that are the perfect start for a long day of sites. Any place with a mural like that is bound to deliver on plant-based goodies… equally important, kick-butt French press coffee equivalent to nine cups of hotel’s brown, hot water.
Normally I don’t buy into “wraps,” but this was all I wanted for breakfast in hand-held form. A spot on curried up tofu scramble, rosemary potatoes, roasted vegetables, fresh greens, tomato & red onion topped with cashew cream and wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. Oh wait, I also wanted avocado… so I got some avocado toast, too. Avocado toast is really in its hey day right now.
Oh, I forgot. I added their well-loved tempeh. Because tempeh is my favorite soy form.
The 7-mile Blackpoint Wildlife Drive, part of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, cuts through untouched marshes teeming with birds and other wildlife. My first encounter was this little alligator hanging out on the water’s edge.
Most of the other sitings were various slender-beaked beauties like this one, nibbling here and there for some sustenance.
The marsh has no trace of human life, besides the occasional placard and, of course, your automobile creeping along at 10 miles per hour.
Looking for food. I can relate…
This guy took off when I exited the car to photograph him… which made for an even better picture.
Then I saw a much larger alligator who was causing quite the stir among the other wildlife viewers.
My final alligator, a bit more shy than the others. What a wonderful way to spend the afternoon!
The Washington Nationals do there spring training on the Space Coast. Though I have always wanted to see a spring training game, the event lost its luster after 4 boring innings and not much action on The Mets side.
A quick lunch before heading back towards the Orlando airport… at Happy Healthy Human. With a name like that, how can you go wrong? They offer all-vegan raw food in an area with a dearth of vegan options.
I got the “Human Sandwich,” partially because I wanted to order something called “Human Sandwich.” Besides this, it was just what the doctor ordered: onion bread, nut cheese, taco meat, avocado, spiralized veggies,and a tangy hot sauce served with a side of baked kale. And a beets juice…
Raw food is deceptively filling. I saved half of this yummy sandwich for later in the evening.
Roadside attraction in Kissimmee.
Other ridiculousness outside of the Disney tourist catering Kissimmee.
Lastly, dinner at Toasted, a grilled cheese counter spot with two locations in Florida and an all-vegan menu with housemade cheese. That’s right. On the door it says, “Vegan Inside.” Yes!
Did I mention the vegan cheese topped truffle fries with rosemary. Absolutely heavenly. This place is fantastic and priced to please.
I got the Vegan Blackberry Melt with blackberry mash, that housemade vegan cheese, and arugula. Pinch me, for real. CP got Vegan 101 with cheese and tomato.
Ok, last thing I eat today. We certainly didn’t need to eat more but a bit of “when in Rome” struck when we learned you do not have to pay for Disney admission to join the slightly disturbing bustling throngs of people walking Disney Spring, Disney’s downtown. It is here that Erin McKenna of Babycakes fame has a bakery location. Yes, the all vegan and gluten-free bakery is in Orlando for some reason. The place was filled to the brim!
It is quite hectic to walk through Downtown Disney with American riff raff. So here is a map I wished I had brought along.
Though science-food isn’t my thing, I needed to try Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg for you, dear blog. I preordered them from Food Fight a few weeks ago. I have never had a craving for a plate of eggs since going vegan and have evolved to not even consider them food, but I was thoroughly intrigued by the product since reading about it. Admittedly, it was the packaging that piqued my interest. The package was much like the egg carton. What the heck was in there that made scrambled eggs?! Let’s find out…
Inside, a bag of a light, airy powder and a sleek insert with factoids on the VeganEgg. Did I really expect egg-shaped containers… I guess kind of.
Inside, a slightly sulphuric smelling yellow powder. 2 leveled TBs to a half cup of cold water starts this chemical reaction.
For best results, they say to blend. After a few seconds this thick but pourable liquid farted a few times. With my oiled skillet preheating, I was ready to get scrambling.
I poured the mixture into the skillet and started scrambling immediately. Now, I was never great at making scrambled eggs in my young, non-vegan days. It always felt weird to me. “How can I eat something that could have grown to be a baby chick?” Well, that feeling came back to be. That’s how much this was like scrambling real eggs. The little dry ends that I overcooked, the scramble and flip, the cut, cut–all the patterns of the spatula–the process. I got to say it was strange to within this faintly familiar process.
When I finished and loaded my plate with my two scramble VeganEggs, I felt that I was about to eat an exciting advancement in food science. I worried about my how my stomach would feel later. I worried about feeling sick eating what looked, smelled, and felt like real eggs. But it was… fine. I may even season them with more black salt next time… and more nutritional yeast! They’re really a blank canvas, taste-wise. The real breakthrough is the texture.
Here are my fluffy scrambled VeganEggs. What to do with the rest of my carton?? I’d have to experiment with this further. Vegan scrambled “eggs”… done.
Before setting out on a road trip, a vegan has to consider how long it may be until a proper meal is available. Like a marathoner, it may be appropriate to load up on carbs to anchor the behind in for hours driving (not running). This is why I love Maywood Pancake House so much. The hard part is over (getting past New York City), northbound interstates await with nary a worthy vegan meal in site. But Maywood has vegan pancakes, vegan French toast , and vegan challah bread. Unpretentious dining, great service, and delicious vegan breakfast options are always a wonderful thing… but even more so considering this.
I’ve never been to Cooperstown. Part of the reason for this is that there really isn’t any vegan food options nearby. There is a local natural food store, Cooperstown Natural Foods, which had a great selection of goodies for road snacking.
This sprouted nut blend (Thai lemon curry) from Living Intentions was probably the most delicious nut medley I’ve ever eaten. I loved it so much that I felt it worth taking a picture of its package.
Close by to Cooperstown is Oneonta, a college town with an uncharacteristic quantity of vegetarian eateries: none. We stopped at Green Earth Health Food Market for a veganizable sandwich from the café. Though the staff and vibe is pretty darn awkward (think surly hipster and flaky hippie wrapped in one), the resulting sandwich, made mostly of the store’s products, was pretty darn good. However, the selection in store was not at great as the much smaller Cooperstown Natural Foods. And I am basing this solely on Field Roast Chao and nut cheese availability, an indicator of informed vegan option grocer.
A tempeh reuben. Loved the “not Lightlife” tempeh.
Oneonta did have Soda Jerks Diner, a new “slashy” to add to my roadside list. The new “slashy” tag is in homage to Zoolander and denotes an eatery that shares operational space with another business. Not your standard slashies—like health food store/café, book store/café, yoga studio/café, but weird combinations. Like this auto lube/diner. Even weirder: an auto lube/diner with vegan options.
Though the French Toast was burnt and the tofu scramble needed some of that cooking time, and maybe even more, I had to keep in mind. I was at an auto lube. How amazing is it that in Oneonta, New York a place vegan options exist in an auto lube shop/diner?!
They also had a juke box.
You know when you see cartoon pictures of the sun? This is their inspiration. This sun in Cooperstown, outside room 104 of the Best Western Plus.
Driving through peak foliage in central New York is an experience not to be missed.
Of course, when in Cooperstown, there’s the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It is a wonderful museum honoring America’s past time. But it’s also about social progress, something that sports have helped a great deal.
More autumn beauty…
The other-worldly sunrise from our room’s window.
A quick bite at Garden Cafe in Woodstock and we were homeward-bound. My juice blend and a pan-seared polenta cake with potatoes.
With one more day of being vegan on Holland America’s Oosterdam, I made sure to try everything I could for you, dear blog. And because I would have loved to been able to know this vegan intel prior to boarding, I’m going to lay it all down here on this page. Hopefully it can help other traveling vegans and Holland America, as I plan to share my praises and criticisms on their guest survey—for the greater good. [It is important to reiterate that these details pertain to the Oosterdam ship.]
Lido Restaurant (casual, buffet style dining serving breakfast, lunch and dinner):
Though a buffet can help you carefully craft complete a meal that fills you up, I had a bit more of a difficulty crafting complete protein/starch/vegetable meals that were yummy enough for the effort. Vegan offerings are not labeled in the Lido Restaurant, during any meal service. It would help tremendously if vegan eats were labeled. The majority Indonesian staff is very skilled in communicating in English within certain parameters of their trained specialty, but I think a “vegan” is too far and few in between. Labeling would be an easy fix that vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free, the health conscious, and those with allergies would all appreciate.
Breakfasts at Lido only offer very bare bones vegan options. There are a variety of breads, jams, (hydrogenated-style) peanut butter, cut fruit, and juices (O.J. is freshly squeezed). As far as hot food, there are usually potatoes that are vegan. They are served by Lido crew along with a variety of other, often very popular, non-vegan items. So you’ll have to wait in line with the folks who are getting more complicated dishes put together to ask for your small pile of potatoes, which can be annoying depending on how hungry you are. There is also a minimal selection of other vegetable-based sides. Like this tomato.
For a bit of a breakfast, I used Room Service (see below) most days. My advice would be, though, to bring your own enhancements, like the chia I brought above. I might consider buying a travel size container set to fill with nutritional yeast, Earth Balance, good nut butter, a quality dressing, etc. Is that crazy? Isn’t what you put in your body even more important than the many toiletries available in travel sizes? Heck, they’d fit beautifully in the mini fridge.
Lunch at Lido can be vegan friendly depending on what they are featuring on a specific day. Of course, the Asian options are more often plant-based, but not always. They are catering to the masses after all. The best lunch at the Lido was when they had a Vietnamese theme going. I got a glass noodle stirfry and Vietnamese summer rolls. There is a salad section that can always make a pleasing salad and often features grain salads and pilafs (quinoa, lentil, cous cous, etc). Like breakfast, it takes a bit of creativity to eat a proper meal.
I don’t recommend eating dinner at the Lido. This is when you’ll be eating your special vegan meal request (See Vista Dining Room below).
There is a taco bar on the Lido Deck where you can make a tasty taco with black beans, guacamole, pineapple salsa, lettuce, chopped onion, and pico de gallo.
Right next to the taco bar on Lido is…
Dive-In at the Terrace Grill:
This is the boat’s burger counter spot. They serve burgers, fries and franks. They do have a vegetarian option, which can be made vegan with some effort. First, order their Freestyle Portobello “burger” without the cheese and special sauce, which is egg based. This vegetarian burger option is not a patty but a big Portobello mushroom cap. Here comes a bit of creativity. The bun is likely not vegan, having a clear egg wash on its top. I brought a vegan bun in from the Lido and switched its contents into it: the mushroom, the guacamole and lettuce/tomato. I also threw in some chopped onion from the taco bar. It was pretty delicious!
I enjoyed waking up to breakfast in bed: a big ol’ pot of coffee, glasses of soymilk, cereal, fruit, has browns, orange juice… it is a great way to start the day. Plus, the folks in the Room Service department know the v-word. And they took the time to track down whether or not the “Veggie Links” selection on the breakfast menu was vegan or not (It’s not.)
Holland has a vegan option on their room service menu that is pretty darn good! It’s the Thai Vegetarian Wrap: eggplant, bamboo shoot, bean sprouts and cilantro blended with rice and a green curry sauce stuffed into a wrap with a peanut-y hummus spread on top. It didn’t look that scrumptious but it was.
There is also a Penne Primavera on the In-room dining menu that I order with no cheese. But the marinara was a bit too orange for me to trust. My marinara is red. Orange usually =’s cream or cheese addition.
There is also a basket in your stateroom that can be filled with fruit of your selecting. I appreciate that. Though fruit was a bit beat up, it was a very welcome addition.
Vista Dining Room:
Dinner in main dining (Vista) is when you’ll eat your pre-selected vegan dinner courses. You select your meal (appetizer, soup, and main) for the evening after. The wait staff will present you with the Vegetarian/Vegan Menu, along with the regular menu for the next evening. Be sure to scan the regular menu as several choices during the course of the trip were vegan (or easily veganized). That way, you don’t have to repeat a meal once! But appetizers and salads might have to be repeated, as with my Mezze plate below. (I got it three times!) The system works well, except for the first evening. Even with submitting a special dietary request form, I had to eat green beans and carrots as a dinner entrée without having the opportunity to pre-select a meal. It was a bit disappointing as I made a call to Holland prior to the trip inquiring specifically about the first evening’s meal and was told I had nothing to worry about. My only other constructive feedback on their vegan dining options would be with consistency with descriptions on the menu. Often a garnish or other component was missing that would have elevated the meal a great deal, making it feel less like a substitution. Overall, I am so very grateful for the vegan menu selections. It has made me more open to cruising, a trip experience that is often attraction and considered a value because of meals. Here is my final meal:
Mezze plate, for the 3rd time
Asian noodle soup
Vegetable curry with forbidden rice
Tropical fruit sprinkled with coconut
And finally, internet. I was a bit taken aback by how costly wireless fees were for the cruise. I don’t know what I expected, but this seemed high. I’m curious if this is industry standard? I also thought that these prices should have been posted somewhere on Holland’s website. So I am posting it for them.
50° 30.28’ N
126° 29.96’ W
Mezze Plate: Baba ghanoush, chickpea hummus, stuffed grape leaves and tabbouleh salad, served with warm Pita bread.
Pasta Fagioli: Flavorful tomato broth cooked with beans and vegetables and whole wheat pasta, seasoned with Italian herbs.
Grilled Vegetable and Tofu Kebob: Served over brown pilaf rice with almonds, drizzled with tomato-basil confit.
A variety of breakfasts—Breakfast is always tough in omni establishments. Here is some of what I have been eating in the morning.
Bagel with jam, sliced banana, soymilk
Mixed fruit, Rice Krispies & Cheerios and soymilk
Toast with jam and peanut butter and sweet & “regular” potatoes
58° 13.04’ N
136° 31.45’ W
Whiskey Maple Syrup goes back in the bottle for serving. (recipe credit)
Macerated blueberry, blackberry & raspberry with Brandy & Grand Marnier
Charred Eggplant Bacon (marinade recipe credit)
Orange Brandy Marmalade with ginger bits
Sweet Potato Beer Biscuits
Coconut rum-soaked French Toast
Some appetizers: Pride Enjoy Rainbow cookies, Mission figs, peanut/walnut/macadamia mix, crackers and cashew cheese spread, Karen’s Fruit Salad (watermelon, pineapple, strawberry & mint)… drink station
The show-stealing Galoot, king of the backyard.
Banana and Bourbon Split Ice Cream Cake
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