Vegan in N’awlins
Wandering around a sleepy French Quarter in the morning, one can feel the residual debauchery absorbed in the buildings. You can smell it. Like when, after a night of drinking, your liver pushes metabolized alcohol out of your skin, the streets are coated. I find that I enjoy the area much more if I gaze upward at the signature wrought-iron balconies and the colorful window shutters.
Since I was flying in and out of New Orleans, I had the time to join the fanny-packed tourists roaming the French Quarter’s streets, window shopping and snapping pictures. Then it was time for lunch. Surprisingly, there are a lot of vegan options in New Orleans. But unfortunately, the places I’d love to hit the most were either dinner-only or pop up-style weekend-only all-vegan brunches. There’s always next time!
For lunch I decided on Bennachin for traditional African fare. For one, they offer some delicious-sounding veggie options. For another, I was eager to try a new cuisine. Bennachin’s culinary origins are Gambia and Camaroon. These two countries are on the Atlantic-side of the continent, far from the Ethiopia (which is a cuisine I am familiar with). With a veggie section on their menu and v-bomb on their website, I had to some deciding to do.
I went for the Kone ni Makondo: black-eyed peas in onion and tomato stew served with coconut rice and fried ripe plantains. It is exactly what I needed. Hearty and flavorful.
It was time to move onward from the French Quarter, but not before more wrought-iron balcony pictures.
I couldn’t leave town with hitting Peacebaker, a gluten-free and mostly vegan bakery in Metairie, Louisiana. I wasn’t sure what to expect from their website. The only mention of “vegan” seems matter-of-fact and almost hidden. When I arrived I was drop-jawed to learn that almost everything was in fact vegan and labelled! The friendly counter guy gave me a long list of his favorites to help guide my selections, which would be boxed to travel with me back to New York.
Their selection was huge. Fruit pies, pecan tarts, cupcakes, cookies, cookie sandwiches, donuts, cake balls, savory cheese biscuits, baked breads, brownies, cookie pies, OH MY! All vegan. In fact, save for the honey butter for sale, everything was vegan!
Of course I needed to sit and sample their cupcake. I chose the Black Velvet, their chocolate. I almost forgot this was a gluten-free bakery. The cake was springy and light, a difficult feat for gluten-free baking. I wanted a bit more chocolate-y taste with a name like Black Velvet, like Dutch-processed black cocoa hardcore. It was more like Brown Velvet but still very delicious!
Just look at this awesome spread. And take a look at my to-go box: a red, white and blue cake ball, pecan tart, mini chocolate lava cake, strawberry fruit pocket and vanilla and chocolate glazed donuts.
That’s a wrap, dear South. This damn yankee is leaving Dixieland. Thanks for the Southern hospitality!