Restaurant Dishes I Have Known | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty-Three

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Four: Entertaining
Fancy AF. Dazzle us with your haute cuisine or gourmet dishes.

Let’s get this out of the way: I am going to take some, ahem, creative license with the prompts this week. I alluded to it earlier this month, but I just haven’t approached this year’s VeganMoFo with much of my usual gusto. The trend continues this week. I’m tired; I’m busy with freelance work on top of my full-time work; I’m not in the mood to spend hours on fancy meals. We just adopted another dog (more on her later!); Steven’s not eating added sugar, so what’s the point of making yummy desserts; I’m stressed out by the horrible political climate in my country; sexist jerks on Facebook have gotten me down; the list continues.

It’s been difficult enough to follow the prompts up till now, but this week’s batch? Even worse. Terrifically worse! I have zero interest in spending hours with fiddly little cakes or troublesome sheets of fondant or the massive Thanksgiving-inspired hot water crust pie I briefly toyed with making. I can’t do it. I won’t do it. I rebel!

So! Here’s what I’m doing instead: Showing you photos of restaurant meals I’ve known and loved but mostly haven’t shared here, because that’s about as fancy as I’m going to get. (Case in point: For breakfast today I ate leftover buckwheat porridge, and lunch will probably be a lentil soup we recently dug out of the bowels of the freezer. Dinner is anyone’s guess. I will accept deliveries of vegan pizza; enquire within for my mailing address.)

…and now, having gone back through about a year’s worth of photos on my phone, I’ve seen too many photos of Luna and I miss her so much.

HAPPY FREAKING MONDAY. Here, let’s distract ourselves with food.

Vegan roast from 222 Veggie Vegan in LondonAn incredible take on a classic roast from 222 Veggie Vegan in London. From the menu: “Hearty vegetarian roast with potato and parsnip mash laced with fragrant herbs. Served with onion gravy and steamed french beans.”

Gosh, this was SO flavorsome. Perfect textures, just the right amount of seasoning, and a massive vat of tasty onion gravy with which to smother everything. Oh, I loved this dish so much, and what a gem of a restaurant! We went there on our last night in London on a bit of a whim (more to come on that trip later!) and it was such a perfect way to end our holiday. I haven’t heard too much about this place but we both loved our meals.

Beet carpaccio

Beet “carpaccio,” just one of the many — many! — dishes we enjoyed on our all-vegan (!) cruise of the Norwegian fjords last month. More posts to come on that experience!

Vegan Irish coffee

Vegan Irish coffee, also on our cruise. Steven and I both indulged in many of these tasty treats, usually while lazing away an afternoon reading. Vegan introvert perfection.

Soup and sandwich at Kaf in Bergen, NorwayThe one meal we paid for in Norway because we were going to miss lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner on the boat that day!

We stopped at Kaf, a tiny veg-friendly cafe in the adorably quaint Bryggen section of Bergen. I opted for a combo meal, which included a spiced sweet potato lentil soup and a half sandwich. The latter was topped with avocado, tomatoes, radish, mango, a balsamic reduction, and a piquant pesto. Steven had a full sandwich with lots of veggies, including tender slices of roasted eggplant. Everything was tasty, fresh, and clearly made with care. So good. So expensive. I’m glad we didn’t have to pay for any other meals in Norway — ouch!

Porridge from 26 Grains in London

Fancy AF porridge from 26 Grains in London. Nordic Pear on the left; Plum and Bay on the right. This is probably the most hipster thing I’ve ever spent money on but it was goooood. (So was their oatmilk flat white.) I need to improve my own oatmeal game!

Crabcake from Great Sage in Maryland

The drool-worthy crabcake from Great Sage — our one and only “local” fully vegan restaurant — during a pre-work-trip brunch this summer. This is a do-not-miss classic at Great Sage!

Carrot lox salad at Great Sage

My 30th birthday dinner from this past March, also from Great Sage! I had their carrot “lox” salad and an order of the amazing cheesy spinach and artichoke dip. The dip was good as ever, but the lox was just too salty. Luckily I saved room for dessert!

Vegan meal at Seasons 52Steven’s mom got married about a year ago, and we all went to Seasons 52 for a late lunch after their sweet little courthouse wedding. This fancier-than-my-usual-dining-establishment has a separate vegan menu!

I chose the vegan paella, which comes with roasted asparagus and a grilled kohlrabi steak on the side. Truthfully, I don’t remember many details about the meal; it was a year ago! They also have a great bar, and I enjoyed a really nice Old Fashioned or two. We’re heading back to this restaurant in a couple weeks to celebrate the couple’s one-year anniversary. :)

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Vegan Eats in Maryland and DC: Part I

Greetings from Rhode Island! After spending five fantastic days in Maryland with S, I hopped on a quick one-hour flight to Rhode Island. Now I’m chillin’ with my family until S joins us late Christmas night. So far I’ve baked one batch of cookies (Five-Spice Snaps from Hannah Kaminsky’s Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season), taken the train up to Boston to visit friends, and otherwise just schlepped around in my super-comfy new plushy bathrobe. Tomorrow we’ll do lots more Christmas baking and food prepping, so I’ll feel a bit more productive.

But I’m getting ahead of myself – I have some Maryland-related eats to share! I was blown away by all the veg-friendly restaurants S and I encountered in MD (and DC), so I figured I’d share ’em! I highly recommend all of these places – each one was impressive in its own right, and definitely worth a visit. I’m splitting this post into two, though, because I’m prone to ramblin’ and it’d get mighty lengthy if I didn’t!

Great Sage in Clarksville, MD

S’s mom treated us to dinner at Great Sage on one of our first nights in Maryland. Their menu is totally vegan, and their dishes feature local and organic ingredients. We started with the Artichoke-Spinach Dip appetizer, a chunky dip with just the right amount of mozzarella Daiya. Spooned onto crusty crostini rounds, it made for a creamy and satisfying start to our meal. For my main dish, I went with the Santa Fe Salad because I was in the mood for something a little on the light side. The salad was fantastic. Mixed baby greens, black beans, roasted corn, red onions, and tomatoes were perfectly coated in a delicious house-made lime-cilantro dressing, then topped with a generous scoop of guacamole, a light sprinkling of cheddar Daiya, and finished off with tortilla strips and big cubes of marinated tofu. The combination was perfect, and I really loved the dressing – it was tangy and flavorful without being overpowering. I was slightly disappointed with the tofu, which seemed a little bland for my tastes – grilling or broiling it might’ve fit better with the theme of the dish. But otherwise, it was perfect and completely filling.

If only you could smell the dressing!

Sticky Fingers Bakery in Washington, DC

Man… I am so envious of anyone who has easy access to an all vegan-bakery like Sticky Fingers. On our list of stuff to do in DC, “visit Sticky Fingers” was right alongside things like “go to museums” and “visit the Botanic Gardens.” As soon as we arrived in the District, we headed straight for the bakery for breakfast and a coffee fix. S enjoyed the Breakfast Burrito, a whole-grain tortilla filled with tofu scramble, black beans, Daiya, tomato, and a generous helping of spinach. Because he’s a generous gent, he offered me many bites, and I can attest that it’s a solid breakfast option. The addition of ketchup made it even better, until some uptight indie boy came over and demanded that S return the ketchup then didn’t even crack a smile when S laughingly apologized for hoarding it. Uptight Indie Boy, you give vegans a bad name and I do not want to be associated with you. Anyway, S also sipped this pretty cappuccino:

Swirly!

I did not get anything nearly as fancy for my breakfast. I enjoyed a simple (but really tasty) cup of coffee along with a Cranberry-Ginger Muffin, their seasonal muffin flavor. I can’t remember the last time I ate a muffin that neither I nor my mom baked, so it was a real treat to enjoy a light, fluffy, bakery-style muffin that I didn’t have to lift a finger to prepare. If the ginger had been a little more prominent, it would’ve been an absolutely perfect breakfast! In fact, it was so good that I forgot to take a photo until I was halfway done eating.

Proof of this muffin's deliciousness.

S and I had plans to return to Sticky Fingers for dessert later in the day, but that didn’t pan out. Alas! I really wanted to try a Peppermint Fudge Brownie. Maybe one day!

Pho 14 in Washington, DC

After a morning of ogling gems and minerals and questioning the necessity of a Chilean miners exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, S and I met up with two of his college friends for lunch. S introduced me to pho when we were in Chicago over the summer and I really enjoyed it, but sadly, Madison’s vegan pho offerings are non-existent. We made our own version once, but it wasn’t quite the same. So, S was pleased to discover Pho 14, which offers both traditional pho options and a more animal-friendly variety. While S opted for a veg bowl of pho, I went for something slightly different – Bun Chay, described rather sparsely as “vegetables with fried and dyed tofu.” I received a big ol’ bowl of yummy tofu, slightly pickled veggies, thin, round rice noodles, and even more fresh veggies, all of which tasted fantastic when doused in a sweet chili sauce. It was the perfect meal, the kind that fills you up yet doesn’t leave your tummy feeling heavy or uncomfortable. It was light, clean, and absolutely delicious, and it provided me with lots of energy for perusing the fantastic collections at the National Gallery of Art.

…and that’s it for this installment! I’ll talk about the rest of my yummy eats soon. But first – what fabulous restaurants did I miss in DC?! What’s your favorite travel destination, food-wise? 

And also… happy holidays! :)