Archive | April, 2012

Vegan Restaurant Travel Series: NYC

26 Apr

Two flavor ice cream sundae at Lula's Sweet Apothecary

Often times, people wonder whether or not, as a vegan, they will ever be able to go out to eat again. Some even ask whether or not they can trust omni restaurants to listen to their questions and requests and prepare food accordingly so as to avoid eating undesirables and getting physically ill. Some may even make an excuse not to become vegan because, given the lack of vegan restaurants/vegan options in comparison to vegetarian options in other restaurants, becoming vegan would be “socially awkward.” For them having to ask questions or make requests about their food would be “too much work”–all in all, some might think veganism would slap a wet rag on their social lives.

If it comes down to rejecting animal use and not participating in the suffering of innocent beings or looking like a socially awkward and needy customer, I’ll take looking like a socially awkward pariah in a heartbeat. We can (and should) ask ourselves honestly whether our social lives or the appearance of being “like everyone else” or maintaining that “I’m a vegetarian, ohmygosh because vegans are so extreme!” ever justifies the enslavement and death of billions of nonhuman animals every year. It doesn’t.

The good news is: vegans and wannabe vegans don’t have to worry. It’s no surprise, but 100% vegan restaurants are popping up all over the country. And some have been quietly hiding close by for years (as you’ll see when I take you to New Hampshire). Veganism has come a long way in that respect. Thirty years ago an all-vegan restaurant was unheard of. Now, most vegans you meet can list off a few of them, if not name all the cities that have restaurants they want to go to.

I’ve visited a few of these US vegan dining meccas and I plan on continuing this oft traveled road. I’ll be doing these “travel food blogs” a few times this year as I’ll be traveling quite a bit and eventually moving. I hope you’ll decide to help out these wonderful restaurants by dining in. Many of these places are small and not as profitable as omnivorous or vegetarian restaurants, and it’s not because the food sucks–on the contrary, the food is delicious–it’s because, sadly, veganism is not the status quo and people are afraid of trying food that seems “different.”

Often, entrepreneurs open up vegetarian restaurants, instead, so as not to seem “extreme,” and to ensure that they’re profitable by being “unoffensive” at the expense of perpetuating the myth that dairy, eggs, and other non-flesh animal products are ethically justifiable and harmless. Unfortunately, it begets the whole issue of giving your money to places that think dairy and eggs are justifiable uses of animals. If it can be helped, I say, choose 100% vegan all the time! Of course, you don’t have to eat out at all to enjoy good food or be vegan, but if one or more of these places are at your disposal, do yourself a favor and help out your fellow vegan small business owners, whether you’re vegan or not: grab a seat!

Let’s start in the most likely place. It’s so nice they named it twice…
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Lemon Rosemary Risotto, Roasted Glazed Beets, and Beefless Tips in a Garlic and Thyme White Wine Sauce

3 Apr

This past week I had the luxury and ever-so beautiful blessing that comes with having your very own kitchen to work in. I know, it sounds a little weird, right? But when you think about food and creating recipes as much as I do, having your own kitchen–meaning one in which there will be no interruptions (save for the occasional dog begging for scraps) and one that’s always clean and thus, always ready to use–is the equivalent of an artist having their own studio in which to paint, or play music, or write. Now that I live with three other folks, the tranquility required for the process isn’t always there and so, in these moments when it is, I take on “projects,” otherwise known as “outrageously awesome whole meals that take more than 30 minutes to put together.”  So, today, I come to you with not one, not two, but three recipes! Each recipe can be made separately if you have limited time to devote to the whole meal or want to pair them with different entrees/sides, or you can combine them to create this exact marriage of tart, sweet, and savory!

I visited my mother recently and she, like I, doesn’t like to send anyone out her door without food. Especially her children. She gave me beets and she gave me Gardein Beefless Tips. The Arborio rice was on sale at the grocery store. So, this meal was serendipitous, really.  I’ll be brief about it because the pictures speak for themselves. The risotto is wonderfully creamy, lemony, and savory. I wanted to make something that tasted “clean” and savory all at once. A pairing of lemon and rosemary seemed fitting. I suggest using only as much lemon zest (grated lemon peel) as you can handle. I originally used 1 tablespoon and realized it needed to be taken back so, I’ve made a correction here for a suggested amount. The roasted beets are to die for, that is, if you like beets. They took the longest to cook so, I got started on those first and saved the glaze for last.

The beefless tips were utterly delicious. They came about from the memory of this meal, using white wine and mushrooms and the rest was improvised on cobwebbed memories of how to cook meat. I was so amazed at how well they took to the wine sauce, how savory they were, and how well they stood up to my memory of steak tips. In fact, they did this so well that, if you’re a vegan who simply never liked the taste of meat or who is easily put off by things that taste a lot like meat, I would forgo making these. But, if you want something incredibly delicious and something with which to impress non-vegans who swear on their lives that they “could ‘never’ be vegan because they like meat too much,” here’s your rebuttal. You’re welcome.

Buon appetito! Continue reading

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