After a night of total gluttony, we got an early start. I wanted to hit WPA Bakery (Well-made Pastry Alliance) for their weekly vegan donut options. Then we were hitting the road, heading back to New York.
They had a few vegan options scattered about… but I came for a donut. I left with their signature vegan Red Hot cinnamon donut and a blueberry muffin. I ate both in the car at different points of the drive like the road warrior I am.
The Red Hot donut was red, very red… in a whoa that can’t be natural way. It really was striking. And I can taste the Red Hots in there. The texture was soft and cake-like. But, here’s the thing: Red Hots are not vegan… This I learned after eating it and searching for their ingredients–in that order.As a vegan, you know that sometimes you eat things that aren’t vegan. It happens. Of course not when you make my own food, but when you eat out, it definitely happens. You move on. You have your personal definition of what your veganism is and you don’t beat yourself up. Then, there’s the insect thing. Some vegans are more liberal insect-derived ingredients. Like honey. Like confectioner’s glaze, a.k.a. shellac, which is what Red Hots contain. This glaze is pretty popular. It creates that characteristic sheen coat on many popular candies… even those bulk candies that many vegans devour unknowingly (dark chocolate covered almonds, I’m talking about you). There’s things like Advil and other pills, which are coated in animally derived stuff like most over-the-counter pain relief… like most pills in general…
The blueberry muffin was the perfect snack to munch on during the New Jersey Turnpike traffic. More straight forwardly vegan for sure.
Now, Delaware. I’ve driven through the tiny state many times. But this time I would stop. Mostly because Home Grown, near the University, has “omelettes” made with “vegan eggs.” !! What were these vegan eggs? I really had to find out.
I got the Garden Veggie Omelette with those vegan eggs. To my relief, they were similar to Isa’s amazing version. What a delight to have such care be taken to offer vegans omelette options! I was amazed with every bite.
And I took a lot of pictures in my amazement.
Score, Newark, Delaware! Thanks for a great breakfast.
Karyn delivered–in save-the-best-for-last fashion. And after peeping her menus from her multiple vegan restaurants for many years, I was finally sitting in Karyn’s on Green, ready for Saturday brunch.
I had the Breakfast Sliders: two delicious Belgian waffles for a bun, their yummy butternut squash “bacon,” a savory tofu “egg,” and almond bacon cheese, with a dipping pool of pure maple syrup and a side of home fries. What’s missing from this spectacular sweet and savory dish that takes the best of all breakfast staples? Nothing. It was close to perfection.
Note that packages of vegan processed foods were not part of the deal–no fake this or that. Just Karyn’s interpretation of popular breakfast components made from plant sources in-house. Can you taste the difference? Yes you can. Thank you, Karyn, for your high standards. They are the reason this dish will not soon be forgotten.
Amazing food. And outstanding service.
And one more last sweet bite. Something reliable. Something I know I could grab a cupcake on the go and head to ORD. So why not Sprinkles‘ Cupcake ATM?! I know from my NYC visit to Sprinkles that their one vegan option (the Red Velvet) is stellar. So I drove through the Magnificent Mile in torrential downpours to park illegally for my final Chicago treat.
I attempted to use the ATM but it was not stocked with my vegan option. So I had to run inside. No big deal because the rain kept the tourist masses at bay.
The reward: the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten. Did I say that before? Well, I’ll say it again. This vegan cupcake is the best of all cupcakes I’ve ever tried in my travels, locally and elsewhere. I dined on it in my car… just in case I needed to flee from the meter maid. (Notice that wax paper bag. Smart.)
Today I embark upon the first of many summer adventures. On this mix of business and leisure, I am heading far north to coastal Maine for an institute on humane education, a 4-day intensive workshop on IHE’s educational practice. I received a full scholarship for the course. I think because I wrote a great essay. I forget that I am a pretty damn good writer. Maybe because now my writing is mostly superlative-heavy brief descriptions of food… or mentor writing for my class of 10 year olds. It’s nice to see I can still make them swoon with my writing.
So, speaking of superlative-heavy brief descriptions of food, let’s start! Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge, Massachusetts was a perfect halfway stop. I came, created my own omelet, ate a slice of cake, and hit the road, Jack.
My omelet… with shredded Brussels sprouts, tempeh bacon and their housemade vegan cheese sauce. The omelet itself: great texture but seriously lacking some black salt. The innards: housemade vegan cheese sauce did nothing but moisten, Brussels rocked, and tempeh bacon–way to balsamic-y. But I was eating a vegan omelet and I liked that.
Lemon curd-filled coconut cake was just like diner cake! Yummy.
The bakery case was stocked with many-a vegan option.
After I filled up, I was read for a long drive for someone with nothing to think about. And a little aeroplane over the sea, two of the best roadtrip albums ever. And yes, c.d.s. These two gems are worth an iPod of 6,000 songs to skip through.
After learning of the dinner situation in Surry, Maine at the Institute’s grounds, I stopped in Bangor–at a Thai / Japanese / Vietnamese place called Zen. It was pretty good Asian for Bangor, Maine–a dusty, one horse town with day mayors a-plenty. I got the fresh spring rolls and an entree to make it worth the friendly waiter’s time. A bit too much lettuce but a welcome fresh bite.
My entree-the mango curry with tofu and a heart-shaped bed of rice. Aww.
And, finally, I arrived:My home for four days.
And did I mention vegan lunch is included each day… and that the sweet Zoe Weil gave us some delicious candied ginger ice cream. I think I’ll do just fine here.
Pleased to be finally eating a healthy breakfast, my day of Oregon eats began in Bend at Mother’s Juice Cafe. This place fit right in with Bend, a progressive mix of aging hippies and idealistic youngins.
I had their Mothers Bowl: a vibrant chia pudding (made with hemp milk, kale, lemon, ginger and mango) topped with apple, strawberry and almonds. Though I expected the city to be much more vegan-friendly, I was glad that this was the only real breakfast option of substance… I would have likely swung for something decadent if it was available.
The next few hours were spent basking in the sun and admiring, once again, the lay of the land. Here is a shot of the blue sky before I was subjected to heavy downpours for the remainder of the drive. I love that the peaks of the Cascade range were always in the background.
Crater Lake National Park still had winter closures and at the time of my visit and localized clouds hung heavy on the park. Scaling the high packed snow that surrounded the view gave me a bit of altitude… but the lake was covered in a dreamy, white gauze.
I didn’t stay at the lake for long. My only source of warmth still smelt of cow breath and it was not cutting the wind.
Though the view was gorgeous, I was filled with worry about running out of gas. The mountainous incline to Crater Lake ate a significant amount of my quarter of a tank. The helpful rangers steered me toward the closest gas station… that was closed, as many had been on my drive south on 97. Old, abandoned gas stations. I noticed everyone because I had wanted to stop and photograph each one. But if I stopped every time I saw something I wanted to take pictures of, I’d get nowhere!
Now here is something I definitely needed to stop and photograph: Cornbread Cafe in Eugene. This all-vegan comfort food spot if just what I needed, especially after a chia seed pudding breakfast. I could barely contain my excitement.
I built my own meal, choosing their chicken-fried tempeh (local from Eugene), mac uncheese, and mashed potatoes–all swimming in their cashew-based gravy–with a tremendous biscuit with a ton of Earth Balance on it. It was quite the meal! Cornbread is another cart to storefront success story. They are mostly organic and their offerings are mostly fresh made. I wish I could have been able to come for their weekend breakfast menu, more specifically their Chik’n and waffles.
This chicken-fried tempeh was dreamy. Not a frozen patty of processed textured soy protein, thank goodness.
Ok, this is when you’ll realize I am an absolute glutton. A root beer float was my beverage of choice for this fantastic meal. Amazing. Thanks for the deliciously satisfying pit stop, Eugene!
And I am still eating! But now I am in Portland. The place overwhelms me. For dinner, a crepe… because I don’t eat crepes often. Suzette Creperie has a gluten-free and vegan option that I was very excited about: a savory Marsala Soaked Fig crepe, roasted garlic-chickpea spread (hummus, right?), caramelized onions, and spinach, folded neatly and drizzled with soy crema. This was tasty but a bit overstuffed, which made the texture heavy and wet.
And I had to get a quick dessert. After all, I was in Portland. My vegan desires can be easily met. And I wanted soft serve. I stopped into Back to Eden Bakery for a sweet treat.
Remember when I called myself a glutton? I got the deluxe banana split with all vanilla soft serve, chocolate sauce, homemade caramel and berry sauces, a sprinkling of mini Dandies and cherries on top. It was worth sitting next the annoying hipster family of ice cream slurpers. Ok, that’s enough for now, Portland.
And because I am a tourist, the White Stag sign. Time to head back to my room and not drive or eat. Goodnight, Portland!
Like I mentioned in my previous post, Portland is Vegan Heaven. The level of vegan eats available, both from all-vegan establishments and omni eateries, is truly daunting. Hours of operations helped me decided on Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store, a outlet of sorts for Grain God Bob that serves up vegan breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Having to make it to Montana by the evening, I needed an early breakfast if I was going to fit in lunch and dinner and a cupcake stop! An early riser still on New York time, I was at Bob’s before 7 am, basking in the glutinous offerings.
The stock was impressive but I was disappointed flours were not at all discounted.
You don’t bring me flours anymore.
Breakfast: Vegan French Toast, thickly cut 10-grain bread with maple syrup. So fresh and delicious.. but I needed some Earth Balance. Thanks, Bob.
Across the street is Dave’s Killer Bread company store. Dave makes chemical-free bread that locals love. Which is great because his backstory is inspirational, his high quality breads are a labor of pure love and he’s got an adorable logo. You need more than that?
Okay, how about this?
So unlike Oregon, I feel like I have better represented vegan offerings in Washington state, though more specifically Seattle. But not Eastern Washington, which just so happens to be in the way of my reaching Montana. After a gorgeous ride through Mt. Hood territory, I followed the Columbia River east to Oregon’s border, all green and lush and coniferous… to the very boring and brown 395 to Spokane. But first, Richland and their vegan cupcake option at Frost Me Sweet Bakery and Bistro.
It was a Strawberry Shortcake that was vegan today. And it was a yummy couple of bites, however… with Voodoo doughnut, maple syrup and now a cupcake, I was nauseous from all the sugar.
So I couldn’t even look at the bakery case at Boots Bakery & Lounge, an all-vegan spot in an adorable area of Spokane, Washington. The Spokane I knew 15 years ago looked nothing like this.
I could, however, load up on a medley of saltiness and veggie-based delight. I chose three spoon drops from their deli case, including a lemon rice pilaf (I need some acidity!), mac & cheese, and a tofu scramble. The nuked up plate helped balance out my poor tongue. But I secretly wanted 3 spoonfuls of mac & cheese. It was that earthy kind of mac that tastes kind of nostalgic. In fact, the scramble tasted kind of 90’s vegan too. Food flavors are similar to songs in a way, they hold constellations of memories packed up and folded and stored inside them… and the associated love gets credited to the flavor, and not all the stuff we connected to it. Just like songs. This I was thinking of in my many hours of driving–that songs are dresser drawers that hold memories. That you tuck it all in there and say, “That’s a good song.” But it’s really a million other things.
Okay finally, Missoula, Montana. I made it into this small college town with the plan of getting a good night’s sleep after dinner. But here I sit rambling on about songs and flavors still. So let’s talk about Montana. For dinner, Iron Horse Brew Pub. Why? Because they offer housemade tempeh substitution on any of their sandwiches. Yeah.
The tremendously tall Tempeh Sandwich was stacked with greens, sprouts, and cucumber. The thin strips of tempeh, whose texture was spot-on, needed a bit of a stronger marinade… and needed to make up a larger percentage of the sandwich innards. But this was a very welcome dinner after a day of sweet gluttony.
Here is a close-up of the delicious imbalanced ratio.
What a delight to get a snow day on what would be my second day back at school! While we were snowed in, I took care of business. Like making a hearty breakfast: vegan French toast! Nevermind running out to the grocery store to pick up milk and eggs before the storm, this French toast requires neither. And what a way to use up the rest of the bread.
These are perfect little French toast bites. Add some Earth Balance and maple syrup and I can eat a dangerous length of bread. Save some for later and they taste like fast food french toast sticks out of the nuker. Secretly good.
With temperatures dropping to the single digits, we took in the outside cats, much to the upheavel of our 3 resident cats. The huge ginger cat, aka The Big Galoot and the sweet little fluffy girl who’s been tugging at my heartstrings, aka Hippie Frank.
Parking lot snow mountain.
My garden, winterized. Happy Snow Day!
And done! After a 2-week whirlwind of travel, I am now resting my behind on the couch, adjusting my clock back to the Eastern timezone. Here are the highlights of my last day in Germany.
I really wanted to see the Baltic Sea before heading back over the Atlantic. But time was an issue. Instead of heading to Rügen island, accessible through the Stralsund (a 6 hour roundtrip train ride from Hamburg), I headed to Lübeck, a short 1 hour train ride, one way.
I hit the Hanburg train station at 06:00, when drunken boisterous dopes still wandered about, to ensure I wouldn’t have to share Travemünde Strand with too many folks. My plan worked. It was me and the sea. Staring out towards Scandinavia, I had requisite profound thoughts/questions and then moved on, joining the early bird cyclists on the boardwalk.
The German coast along the Baltic and North Seas have a special claim to fame: the strandkorb, a straw beach seat that is characteristically German–the epitome of form meets function. With reclining high-back cushions and foot rests, as well as storage and an easy lock-up gate, these awesome chairs were designed in the 1800’s to block the coastal winds.
The lonely strandkorbs lined the beach
This was how far I stepped into the sea. It was a very chilly morning.
After returning to Hamburg, I made a b-line to Veganz, an all-vegan grocery chain with stores across Germany– including this one in Altona, a hip, multi-culti borough of Hamburg city. That’s right, a store where I can buy anything without scrutinizing the ingredients! Clearly this was a must-stop… but there was another all-vegan supermarket I could have visited: Bevegend.
Before perusing the aisles, I had breakfast at the in-store Fairy Food. I needed to try their vegan croissant and have my first-ever cappuccino.
Once again the vegan cheese spread in Germany impresses me. I wished I could have bought some to bring home but I knew it wouldn’t last.
I regret not buying a bag of these white chocolate buttons.
So much fun to check out these German vegan items.
They even had a cosmetic counter.
Their ice cream cooler was not “open” during my visit unfortunately.
I bought a few item, including this “nougat ring.” After trying that Charleston Chew-like candy bar, I was excited about vegan nougat. This confection from Vegan Bakery was a nice treat to devour on the train ride to Berlin. The nougat was more like a whipped buttercream piped on top of a flaky cookie, then chocolate-coated.
It was a packed ride to Berlin from Hamburg… and I was ready to get a good night’s sleep in my private room. I reserved a seat on the train for the first time and, in turn, avoiding having the stand the entire way. I checked into yet another spotless hostel that was easily accessible from the huge central station. I took a quick walk and had a hearty dinner before making it back for my early bead time. And thankfully, the first bit of rain I saw on my trip limited the noise of boisterous travelers milling about the courtyard.
I chose my dinner spot based solely on location. I wanted somewhere within walking distance. I thought the reviews of Seerose painted a scrumptious picture. It was just what I needed–veg-heavy, fresh and flavorful.
Here was my dish, front-view. The beautiful colors and different textures and tastes were divine. I heart fresh herbs.
And the other side of the plate. Look at those big chunks of squash.
And here it is… a Berlin Wall. Not thee Berlin Wall. But a wall in Berlin. I had nothing left to explore sites in the big Berlin. Another time, Germany. It was time to head home.
There are a small handful of these United States that I have not seen. I’ve never set foot in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama… and I am intrigued by what vegan options in these states look like. So given their proximity to each other and time on my side, it was time for a Vegan Victuals food roadtrip!
I flew into New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve been there before but not in the days when I blog reported. (Oh, I wish I had a Hot Tub Time Machine, like in the awful movie I watched in the hotel last night, so I can retroactively document all of those vegan meals. But anyway–I had breakfast in New Orleans but wanted to hit the road quick. I stopped at Slim Goodies Diner in the Garden District for their Garden Slammer, a veganizable breakfast platter.
The dish had a bottom layer of fresh potato hash, topped with vegan chili, tempeh bacon, and a tofu scramble. It was a great start to my trip that kept me satiated until I reached Jackson, Mississippi for lunch.
I have been eye-baling Cool Al’s from afar for quite some time. I just knew it’d be an interesting place to report on. I was totally right.
This award-winning and accolade-hoarding hot spot of Jackson, MS has a full menu of imaginative and burger and fry items that I’d label Southern Fusion, with vegan options that aim to please.
I got their spicy West African Veggie Burger. This housemade burger is made with black-eyed peas and West African seasonings. They added vegan mayo, vegan cheese, and served it to me on a bun also noted as vegan. Hearing and seeing the “v-bombs,” especially in the staff’s thick, rich Southern accents, got me very excited to eat my meal!
Did I mention the fries?? I got Eggplant Fries, which were deep-fried, crispy strips of eggplant. With my fry order, the cashier rattled off a long list of seasoning options. I choose Cajun.
After a mel like I had, I was glad to have the chance to stop in Rainbow Co-op, a well-stocked natural foods grocer with strict rules about what makes it to the shelves. No GMO, HFCS or refined sugars, etc etc. The market was inside a building that housed other like-minded business. There is an attached vegetarian cafe, High Noon Cafe, that also does Rainbow’s packaged meals and desserts. (I regret not picking one up. They had Mississippi Mud Pie!) The complex also had a fair trade shop, massage therapy, and a community bulletin board with all other sorts of resources. It does my heart good to find a special place like this in Mississippi. I bought a kombucha for the road and was on my to Little Rock, Arkansas.
My GPS had me heading northwest through Mississippi’s desolate state roads and I saw one of the creepiest things I could have seen on the road: a Monsanto facility. All the neatly manicured farmland with its obedient corn crops I had been passing started to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Good thing I had a chocolate chip cookie dough Larabar!
After a long day, I had finally found myself in Little Rock, Arkansas. With the early flight out of New York and the hours of eating and riving, I was beat. The first day of a roadtrip is always the hardest. I was ready just to check into the hotel and forego dinner, but that’d throw everything off!
I made it to The House Gastropub in Little Rock, a hip bar/eatery in Little Rock’s with a focus on quality ingredients. They are by no means a vegetarian eatery but they do boast a housemade vegan patty that veg-heads and omnivores alike give high marks.
And I agree with these veg-heads and omnivores! The vegan patty was delicious and the dreamy focaccia, confirmed vegan. The staff was accommodating and sweet. As I waited for my first meal in New Orleans, I tried to adjust to the southern speed (i.e. not New York speed) of things. I’m getting a little better but there is a striking difference.
Let’s look a little closer at this soft beauty. You can order the vegan patty with any of their dairy-laden burgers with a bit of the ol’ “no this, no that” vegan action. And they have super-salted sweet potato waffle fries that are dangerously delicious.
Ok, 3 meals in 3 different states! I may have another in Arkansas but then I’m heading to Memphis, Tennessee!
Nothing will settle me into a day of auto/train/plane travel than a hearty breakfast. And there was still time to squeeze in another stop in Atlanta. Breakfast would be served at Stone Soup Kitchen, yet another bustling breakfast spot in the hip Grant Park area.
Stone Soup Kitchen offeres patrons a menu with vegan dishes clearly marked. Thank you for this, Stone Kitchen! They also offered me vegan butter for my delicious Blueberry Corn Meal Flapjacks, made with soy yogurt and my friend Bob Mills’ gluten-free flour. Finally, a meal that isn’t predominantly constructed and bound by gluten! I am ashamed to say that I ate 4 out of 5 of these darlings… Ashamed, because trip s like this make me feel like Audrey in National Lampoon’s European Vacation. It’s ok. With my entire day tied up in some kind of transport machine, it was the last of my gluttonous mission.
It was time to say goodbye to the 7-lane north and south ping-pong of my Hotlanta excursion, time to say goodbye to Southern drawls, time to say goodbye to the obscenely ugly, bright purple-blue Hyundai Accent. And with easy-on/easy-off interstate access around the block from Stone Soup Kitchen, I managed to return my vehicle to the airport 3 days later on the exact minute of my pick-up. Stick a fork in me, I am done!
Here are some other non-food sights:
Cornelia, Georgia is home of the Big Red Apple, a bright, sweet fruit in a salad of the Gods. Why the apple? Pardon the Wiki paraphrase: The embrace of apple production in the 1920’s saved the area from the evil boll weevil who munched the heck out of the state’s cotton fields and pushed rural folk to the bigger cities.
The town was empty, save for an awesome old couple taking pictures of the apple.
I past this impressive auto salvage castle on Interstate 365 on the way to Cornelia. I thought I’d stop in and take some pictures on the way back. The friendly white-bearded proprietor let me know this was a very common occurrence. The elaborate auto salvage “theme park,” lined by a stacked-car fence, is visited often. An area college’s photography class does field trips there.
I had free roam to the expansive property, but I wasn’t going to stay long. For a million reasons. The eerie feel of the place began to make me feel claustrophobic. All of these vehicles were destroyed and they still seemed angry about it.
But I had to take a closer look at these buses. These were like the ones that got thrown at Superman.
School buses in fetal position.
If cars had a hell, this would be it.
I saw a billboard for Cinderella’s Closet, a pageant shop, and knew I had to capture some of the color. I was disappointed that the gaudiest dresses were bagged up. The place had two mini-stages with cat walks.
Bad taste for every age!
Back at the hotel I spied these two little kitties on top of the dumpster. I watched them intently for a few minutes, missing my little buddies back in New York.
Clearly I am on a quest to find more vegan options around my great city. A satisfying spot for each of the varied tastebuds of my tongue. Some refined and steeped in foodie sensibility, others nostalgic and in need of comforting. Carb-heavy comfort. B.A.D., an all-night eatery with a slew of vegan options, most certainly appeased is the latter.
I first visited B.A.D. last year at their Williamsburg, Brooklyn location. The menu has since grown substantially. I stopped in bright and early one more to start the day right with one of their breakfast options. But first I was taken by selection of v-bombs strewn about the space on Avenue A in the East Village. I had to capture them while I waited for my breakfast. Thankfully the sweet waitress let me wander and shoot pictures.
The bad girl behind Bad Girl Bakery is a vegan herself so they do their own in-house baked goods which are mostly vegan, some of which are gluten-free. Let’s take a looksy:
My greasy, carb-y wonder of a breakfast: the Monte Cristo. This delicious way to start the day is like a grilled cheese made with French toast stuffed with veggie ham. Sweet, salty, savory, and satisfying. The homefries were both white and sweet potato. And boy do I appreciate that.
As my heart can handle quite a bit, I chose a dessert from the menu… the Chocolate Banana Chimichanga. This scrumptious end to breakfast had banana and chocolate wrapped in a tortilla and deep-fried. It would probably feed two but hey, that’s how I roll. So darn good.
Next time you are crawling home on Avenue A.. or up at the crack of dawn because your cat was demanding treats, eat the majority of of your daily intake of calories for breakfast at B.A.D. You’ll have the whole day to utilize it!
yells Farmer Ted while dancing.
The key to surviving a heat wave is to get everything you need to do done… fast! Before peak sun. So The Electrician and I hit the Rockville Centre Farmers Market bright and early. It was my first visit to a farmers market on Long Island, not counting farm stands on the East End. It was a small market with not too many vendors. But then again I am used to New York City’s greenmarkets, specifically the pinnacle: The Union Square Greenmarket. The Rockville Centre market had a great tent for local veggies and a nice spot for fruit. Isn’t that all you need? Kinda.
When temperatures are up, the stove needs to stay off. But the stovetop, that’s another story… Breakfast for dinner is a summer staple. I also needed to use a loaf of huge Farmers Rye. I chose to make a batch of French Toast with blueberry syrup, cooking up the first of my berry stock.
Now that I am working again I need to get myself back into the kitchen. I need to start making lunch again. It has been a long time since I cooked anything, sadly, and I’ll have to start again slow. Slow like with one of my easy favorites: pancakes.
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