On V.V. Summer Assignment, Day 3: O.H./K.Y./T.N.

On V.V. Summer Assignment, Day 3: O.H./K.Y./T.N.

I woke up in Cincinnati ready to say goodbye to Ohio. Ohio is chock full of metropolises… Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, and other such C-words. But with this being my third day about, the inevitable turn back east had to be soon. So it was fare thee well, Ohio… But not before a sweet bite for the road from the all-vegan Happy Chicks Bakery, another amazing option for sweet treats in the Buckeye State. {What the heck is a buckeye anyway?}
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The adorable bakery had such interesting flavors. And, again, the pressure of a decision…PicMonkey Collage2

I sat for their Tiramisu and got their Bourbon Apricot to go. The Tiramisu was scrumptious–fantastic cake texture, a surprise berry filling and just the right amount of frosting. The Bourbon Apricot was even more heavenly. They nailed taste and texture. Ohio truly kicks butt with vegan cupcakes. Many might find this hard to believe, but it’s true: Ohio’s vegan cupcakes are better than New York’s. PicMonkey Collage3

Hello, Kentucky!IMG_8539

Kentucky is the 40th state to enter the VeganVictuals union! Though I’ve been to Kentucky a couple of times before, both times were prior to the existence of this here blog. So this is the maiden Kentucky post. Unfortunately it will be the only post for now as I have headed east from Louisville already. But I’m sure that I’ll be back. I kinda love KY.

After spying Flora Vegan Treats on the Instagram, I knew I had to try them. But it seemed they’d only be around on the weekend, setting up at the farmers market. I messaged Isabelle of Flora knowing I had to try her goodies. I mean, c’mon, vegan French macarons?! Luckily, she is as sweet as her delicious treats. She brought this spread to her workplace so we could make the deal. I bought some vanilla and raspberry creme macarons and a flaky, Pop Tart-ish pastry; she threw in a chocolate-dipped macaroon. Thank you, Isabelle!PicMonkey Collage7

Of course I didn’t get very far. I crossed the street, got in my car, and-boom-I ate a macaron. Then, I was so excited about how delicious they were that I put them on my dashboard and had a car photo shoot with them. Macarons are so temperamental, but vegan macarons–even more so. In order to have success with these divine little sandwiches you need the patience of an angel and unwavering persistence.  So it’s no wonder that vegan macaron makers are always super sweet. PicMonkey Collage8

Ain’t she a beauty? She tastes amazing, too. {I haven’t tried the other Flora treats yet. And I wrote a huge reminder to grab them from the motel fridge tomorrow morning or risk a time-consuming rescue mission back. It is worth noting that the Pop Tart pastry thing, which sat in an unwaxed paper bag the remainder of the day, had not dotted the bag with one grease smear. Not one speck. Magical!}DSC_0047

There isn’t a ton of vegan eats here in Kentucky. Most of it is different veg-friendly ethnic cuisines, like my lunch today: “Vietnamese,” my server at Roots in the Highlands section of Lousiville said. The space where Roots lives is shared between Heart & Soy, the more casual spot. Anyway, I thought the menu was more of a fusion than traditional Vietnamese. Either way, Asian in unlikely places, i.e. not on the east or west coasts, is always fun to try. And since I wasn’t in town when the all-vegan delectable-looking Southern comfort food of food truck V Grits was not around, Roots veg-heavy menu served my purposes. DSC_0027

I opted for ordering two appetizers, as I have a hard time deciding when I am a hungry, hungry hippo. I got the Crispy Avocado And Tomato Rolls with the yummy tamarind dipping sauce. And the Lettuce Wraps with crispy rice noodles, tofu, carrots, water chestnuts, and wood ear mushrooms. Like yesterday, I had to avoid the menu offerings with the packaged stuff; that “Veggie Ham” was highly suspect in my book. The deep-fried rolls were like you can imagine, deliciously oily and crispy. The avocado was a welcome present inside, but the tomato–not so much. It kind of slithered out like an indeterminable mass of wetness. The lettuce wraps were a welcome interactive experience. I was amused to be sloppily eating my lettuce wraps, in all their not-rolled-well glory, while two pretentious elders went on about Harper Lee/Atticus Finch as if the whole side of the restaurant were a lecture hall. I wonder how life was on the other side at Heart and SoyDSC_0030

Closer up.PicMonkey Collage5

This burrito place across the street gave me a chuckle. Some heads are bigger than others… IMG_8534

Like me. DSC_0033

I have always wanted to check out the Louisville Slugger store and factory… and it seemed I wasn’t the only one. The place was swarmed with tourists. But, no need to pay for the tour. You can see the complete factory set-up through the windows. The store has a large selection of imperfect cull bats for bargain hunters. I should have bought one, but there were so many people around them. Eek, people! Where’s my car? I need to go. It was a neat stop but I had had enough of the downtown construction and interstate detours that had me crossing the Indiana border. I needed to head to southeast if I was ever going to make it home in time.
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But one more bite–the Seitan Wings from Against the Grain Brewery & Pub. Though I very much appreciate the vegan offering of housemade seitan, both in pile form and in pile form in a bun, and love the sauce that coated these pieces, the seitan was much too wet, as if it wasn’t seared after it was braised. Either that or the wet to vital wheat gluten ratio was off. So the texture was not the greatest. Simple seitan know-how from V.V.–free of charge, omni-restaurants. IMG_8554

Ok, I’m in Tennessee! The grey humidity that hung over all of Ohio gave way the blue skies in the Bluegrass State. My destination was originally Nashville, but I got overwhelmed. There is too much vegan food I wanted to try there. I need to go back to hit Nashville on its own. Knoxville, it was. And for dinner, Tomato Head to go, a lead from my Flora Vegan Treats friend. Tomato Head is in the middle of downtown Knoxville’s Market Square, a pedestrian-only space of cafes and unique stores. It was swarmed, Tennessee-swardmed. {Speaking of swarmed, there is this crazy-loud buzzing noise all over downtown. It’s even audible on the interstate by my motel. Cicadas? Google doesn’t even know.}PicMonkey Collage9

Ok, back at my room for my last meal of the evening / first meal in Tennessee. I ordered the Vegan sandwich because it’s a clear and easy choice–definitely vegan, veggie-packed, no weird processed food. It had hunks of marinated tofu, fresh spinach, carrots, red onion with a slew of spinach & sun-dried tomato pesto. I got the side of fruit because I miss it. I devoured this meal with abandon. It may just be my only meal in Knoxville.DSC_0053

I also got a huge vegan cupcake. I had to. It’s only been a few hours since my last one. This one had a name: Christmas in July. I think it was a red velvet cupcake? And I suspect those sprinkles are not, in fact, vegan. They got confectioners glaze, I’m quite certain. I nibbled a little from the bottom of the cupcake and forfeited. PicMonkey Collage10

Goodnight, Knoxville. I like you a lot. I am too tired to be eloquent. Daily blogging after all day traveling is hard. I used to half-butt it and write one post for an entire trip, check out this post from the last time I was in Knoxville. zzzzzIMG_8568