Archive for the ‘Travel’ category

Road Trip Review: Denver’s Vegan Van

July 14th, 2013

Denver Vegan Van

 

We love to travel and it has been awhile since I’ve made a travel post. Our last trip was to Colorado just last week. It has been 3 years since visiting one of our favorite places and in that time the vegan options have become plentiful. It is always great to visit somewhere you can easily dine out without worrying if your veggies have meat sprinkled in them.

We were excited to discover that Denver now has its own food truck. Food trucks are booming in some areas and languishing in some. I still believe it is a food fad but I’ll still partake of one when I find it. We did happen upon Denver’s Vegan Van while making a visit to Nooch, which happens to be a full vegan market.

The Vegan Van has a short menu as a food truck should.  Selections were limited to sandwiches and wraps with their version of vegan ‘wings’ made buffalo or hoisin style. Nothing very mind-blowing or extravagant to be found. Just a few simple things. Simple is good.

Denver Vegan Van Menu

 

Denver Vegan Van - Planet Rock

The Planet Rock - A tofu sandwich with buffalo sauce and topped with creamy cole slaw. While the sauce was very good it didn't do much for the seemingly unmarinated tofu underneath. It did not "rock", as the name implies.

 

I went for a Planet Rock. This was a standard buffalo sauced tofu sandwich topped with a creamy slaw. The flavor of the sauce was OK, there were 3 pieces of, unfortunately, unmarinated tofu on the sandwich and the slaw had a good flavor. Mrs. Nashveggie and Miss Nashveggie each had the Super Freak, an Italian-style veggie burger with bruschetta. The burger was covered in a mix of green and yellow peppers. I’m not really sure what was Italian about the burger. One might expect some basil or oregano. Perhaps some marinara-sauce topping if even taking the easy way out. There was no bruschetta to be found, the bun was just a bun. There was no toasting, garlic, oil or anything else typically used as bruschetta topping. The patty had a rather bland flavor and the greens and peppers lent more flavor to the sandwich than the patty did. While none of the sandwiches were absolutely stand-out even more of a let down was paying $7-$9 per sandwich and getting nothing more than stale popcorn as a side. Even plain potato  chips would have been a better offering than a handful of popcorn that was mostly unpopped kernels.

Denver Vegan Van - Super Freak

The Super Freak - I'm not sure what about this sandwich supports its name. Described as "Italian-style" nothing about it gave it the flavor.

 

I really believe that Denver can support a vegan food truck and I hope on our next visit to the area the Vegan Van is still riding.  I also hope in that time they have made significant improvements. They have plenty of room to make them.

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New York City – The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Lunch Truck

July 24th, 2012

The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck - New York City

People look at me odd when I tell them we vacation for food. It’s true. We always pick a destination based on availability of vegan eats. This is why Denver, Portland and New York City are regularly at the top of our vacation list. Most people head to the beach but I’ll head to the vegan barbecue.

This is not a Nashville post. You can think of it as a wishful thinking Nashville post. Nashville doesn’t have a vegan food truck. In fact, a discussion I had once with a very popular Nashville food truck over adding a single vegan item to their menu was met with a “Why would anyone want to eat that?”  Unfortunately, that pretty much sums up the mentality over vegan food when you mention it to most restauranteurs in this area.  I wonder, why would anyone want to eat decaying animal flesh or pus-filled, molded cow secretions? But I digress. Suffice it to say that food truck will get no attention from me.

On we go to the big city. The land of towering buildings. The streets filled with food and many of them vegan choices!

When I discovered New York City was home to a vegan food truck I was honestly excited. The thrill of the hunt! Would we be in the same area on as The Cinnamon Snail on a given day or would we be hitting the train to search out this animal-free street runner? It didn’t take long to discover via The Cinnamon Snail’s Twitter feed that they would park just 2 blocks from our hotel every Tuesday. Perfect for a quick breakfast bite before hitting the city.

Just around the corner and the kid spotted the graphics-clad truck sitting street side. Now, she’s all about doughnuts. She had that doughnut planned form the time she discovered The Cinnamon Snail served them up in mobile fashion. It didn’t take her long to pick her flavor, raspberry glazed. The doughnuts are not on the small side and definitely not small on flavor. These are not cake doughnuts, they’re the fried type. My favorite, and honestly, the only way to make a doughnut. That doughnut didn’t last long and she was looking for her next morsel form the menu. Mrs. Nashveggie went for a cinnamon roll. of course, she makes her own cinnamon rolls. Her cinnamon rolls are perfect. They have just the right amount of cinnamon sugar stickiness rolled into a soft, yet lightly chewy, dough that comes out of the oven ready to melt in your mouth.  I think she picks cinnamon rolls when she finds them just to compare. We shared the roll and it was very tasty. Not a fluffy dough. This cinnamon roll is denser but still very flavorful. They’re filling and a perfect side to a cup of coffee (which you can also get from The Cinnamon Snail with soy creamer if desired!)

 

 

The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck - New York City

The window prominently placed in the front of The Cinnamon Snail displaying the delicious vegan sweets.

 

 

The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck - New York City

The sweets window - If raw is your thing, you have choices on the top shelf.

 

 

The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck - New York City - Vegan Raspberry Glazed Doughnut

The Kid's Raspberry Glazed Doughnut

The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck - New York City - Vegan Cinnamon Roll

The Cinnamon Snail cinnamon roll

 

 

The kid, still wanting more, decided to try an apple turnover. Very flaky crust and plenty of filling. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try it so I can only tell you it was good based on how long it lasted. Under 30 seconds and she’s looking for more. That’s a good gauge of great vegan food when it comes to the kid. Her reward for being such a fan of those sweets: A Cinnamon Snail t-shirt from the fine crew of the The Cinnamon Snail. (Thank you guys! That’s was great!)

 

The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck - New York City - Vegan Pink Lady Apple Turnover

Pink Lady Apple Turnover

 

 

The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck - New York City

Owner/Chef Adam Sobel (Right) and crew. Don't let them freak you out. Always a smile and these guys can whip out some mean vegan vittles!

 

Based on our first visit to The Cinnamon Snail we deemed it necessary to visit again. Not many places will get a second visit from us on vacation but The Cinnamon Snail proved well on our first encounter and sounded good a few days later.  This time we found them to be on Wall Street for the day so we hopped the train for a trip to the Financial District. We walked a few blocks down Wall Street passing other food trucks setup in hopes of grabbing the monetary swingers on their lunch breaks. A person waiting at one, another waiting for customers and most just waiting with no one ordering yet. It wasn’t hard to find The Cinnamon Snail. There was already a good line formed for the vegan eats. In fact, they had the only line out of the other trucks we passed on the way.

This time it was lunch. We needed street-walking sustenance. Looking at the menu we chose what sounded to be delicious, I the Korean BBQ Seitan and Mrs. Nashveggie the Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich. The kid wanted another doughnut which was fine knowing she could share some of our non-sweet vittles.

We found a public area at nearby Deutsche Bank and broke into our boxes. At first sight I was wishing I had went with Mrs. Nashveggie’s choice as my BBQ looked on the small side. I was wrong. Once I took a bite I realized the tortilla was stuffed full and also full of flavor. This thing was delicious. I also tried the Maple Mustard Tempeh and I can understand why it  is one of their most popular menu items. Delicious! The Korean BBQ Seitan was full of seitan chunks. They’re unseasoned when prepared it seems but made so they can take on the flavor of the item the make with them. There was lightly steamed kale in there with a very spicy sauce that didn’t overpower the sandwich.  A great lunch for the three of us and just under $20 including the doughnuts the kid wanted. This is a deal in Manhattan.

 

The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck - New York City

The line at The Cinnamon Snail on Wall Street. This is a typical line for The Cinnamon Snail. Vegan eats are popular! (I'm talking to you Nashville Food Truck guy.)

 

After devouring our lunch we thought about a doughnut to-go. To-go being an odd term to use when grabbing one from a food truck. Back to the truck I went and discovered the line was 24 people deep and a bit slow moving. I waited in line for a few minutes. While waiting a few people passed The Cinnamon Snail, took a look in the direction and said “Oh, that’s just sweets.” or “They only have pastries.” This is probably because of the 1. The name. 2. The window beneath the ordering area that displays all of their pastries and doughnuts, the only food display window. 3. The absence of anything announcing anything not sweet anywhere on the truck that would be visible to distant passers-by and “Cinnamon” emblazoned in huge letters, a word most people relate to sweets. Granted, they had a long line so most people are aware they serve savory goods but it seems they could get more with adding perhaps an image of a sandwich somewhere or even a specials board in plain sight on the side of the truck stating something like “TODAY’S VEGAN HOTNESS: MAPLE MUSTARD TEMPEH SANDWICH! SAVORY GOODNESS!” Since the line was very slow to move I decided a doughnut was not going to be had as we had many things on tap for the day and we had to get to the next stop.

 

The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck - New York City - Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich

Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich - There's plenty of delicious tempeh under that.

The Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck - New York City - Korean Barbecue Seitan

Korean Barbeque Seitan - A grilled tortilla stuffed with seitan, greens, kimchi and spicy vegan butter.

 

If you find yourself in New York City and decide to search them out be sure to check their Twitter as they may not be in the same locations we found them. They’ve had some issues with the NYPD and parking lately that appears to be attributed to other trucks trying to tie up the limited space they find. Overcrowding seems to be an issue.

Unfortunately, this would be our last visit to The Cinnamon Snail as New York City boasts many fine vegan food joints and we must get our eats on in variable fashion. However, when we return to New York City, and we will return soon, I’ll be hitting the streets on the hunt for The Cinnamon Snail. I suggest you do the same.

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Portland, Oregon: Off The Griddle

October 25th, 2011

Off The Griddle - Portland, Oregon

After going through all of the notes I made on our trip to Portland and all of the food pictures I took, as well as the non-food pictures, I’ve come to realize that I could be writing a post a day. I don’t have the time to write a post a day and that would have me wriiting about Portland up until my next Portland trip. I’m not going to do that so I’m going to touch on a few of the highlights of the food portion of our trip and maybe a conglomeration post with a few tidbits of what’s left over with the pictures that are left.

I am a veggie burger lover. I will make one at home on occasion and always skip the frozen ones opting for fresh. If you’re looking locally in Nashville for a decent one in a restaurant you could always go with J. Alexander’s which makes a pretty good one.  However, in Portland I encountered the best veggie burger I’ve ever had in a restaurant. For lunch one day we searched out Off The Griddle, a small food cart on the corner of SE 50th and SE Division. Serving nothing but veggie burgers, both vegan and vegetarian choices, you knew they had to have it down and would serve up a killer burger. No disappointments. All of Off The Griddle’s burgers are mostly organic, homemade and served on Dave’s Killer Bread. Dave’s Killer Bread is another anomaly of amazing food goodness but I’ll try to give you more on that later. The cart is also solar-powered. Solar-powered, homemade, mostly organic and vegan. How can you possibly beat that? Make the best veggie burger you’ll ever eat.

We ordered the Smoky Bleu Burger, topped with tempeh bacon, spinach, onion and a vegan bleu cheese sauce that was so close to bleu cheese that it had me questioning it’s vegan authenticity. Our second choice was the daily special, a Pumpkin Curry Falafel Burger. This one had the usual inclusions, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and sweet pickles but also a great tasting curry coconut tahini sauce that made the burger perfect. Both burgers were, of course, vegan and had great texture. They weren’t mushy and didn’t fall apart. These could be the perfect vegan veggie burgers.

 

Off The Griddle - Smoky Bleu Burger

Smokey Bleu Burger

 

Off The Griddle - Pumpkin Curry Falafel Burger

Pumpkin Curry Falafel Burger

 

There’s ample seating available in the food cart pod so you don’t have to search our a place to sit on the street or walk with your food. These tasty burgers are prepared fresh to order so grab a seat and wait for the most amazing veggie burger you’ll ever encounter.

If I could get to Off The Griddle right now I would. If I could have the veggie burger perfection that I found at Off The Griddle right now I would. However, that would be a 2,351 mile trip and I don’t have enough time during lunch to get there and back. Next trip to Portland, though, it’s on!

Walk up and order the best veggie burger you'll ever eat. The special the day we visited was the Pumpkin Curry Falafel Burger. Whatever it is the day you visit it's sure to be delicious.

 

Off The Griddle Menu - Portland, Oregon

Vegan and vegetarian veggie burger choices galore. Time to get your veggie burger eats on!

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Portland, Oregon: Homegrown Smoker

October 20th, 2011
Homegrown Smoker

Homegrown Smoker Food Cart in Portland, Oregon

Food carts! In Portland they’re everywhere. 6×12 (or somewhere in that general area) portable trailers fitted with small kitchens and setup in empty lots around the city. You’ll find just about any cuisine you’re in the mood for: Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, burgers, pizza, coffee bars and juice bars and plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. One we searched out and really enjoyed was Homegrown Smoker.

You’ll find Homegrown Smoker in a food cart pod at SW 4th and SW Hall at Portland State University. The menu is completely vegan and filled with barbecued and smoky goodness. It was hard to choose from the menu. So many delicious sounding choices. There’s the SloSmoMoFo: BBQ soy curls which are chunks of seitan in a sweet, smoky barbecue sauce, and chipotle slaw on a grilled bun. A Macnocheeto: vegan mac and cheese, baked beans, grilled peppers and onions, BBQ sauce, vegan cheese sauce and a choice of those soy curls or vegan chipotle sausage wrapped in a tortilla. We settled on the Smoked Chili Pie: A bag of Fritos corn chips opened and inside poured smoky chili, cabbage, onions, chipotle aioli, Daiya cheese and the vegan NoCheese sauce. It looks very subdued but that’s one bag of a filling lunch. We also picked the Loafaroni, my favorite of the two. Two thick-cut pieces of smoky vegan meatloaf topped with Mac & NoCheese and covered in BBQ sauce and NoCheese sauce on a grilled bun. That’s right, ON A BUN! It’s a sandwich! How can you possibly go wrong with vegan mac & cheese on a bun? It’s served with one side so spicy baked beans worked perfectly. Did I mention it is ON A BUN?

Everything on the menu at Homegrown Smoker is 100% vegan. When you’re faced with so many vegan choices in a city like Portland, Oregon and then most all of them are 100% vegan you have to pick and choose wisely. Choosing Homegrown Smoker won’t be a bad decision.

Loafaroni

Loafaroni: Smoky Vegan Meatloaf, Vegan Mac & Cheese, BBQ sauce and vegan cheese sauce ON A BUN!

 

Homegrown Smoker - Smoked Chili Pie

Smoked Chili Pie

 

Food Cart Pod at SW 4th & Hall Portland, Oregon

Food Cart Pod at SW 4th & Hall

 

Homegrown Smoker Menu

Homegrown Smoker Menu

 

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Portland, Oregon: Voodoo Doughnuts

October 19th, 2011

Voodoo Doughnuts Sign

So many restaurants in Portland and so little time for a vegan foodie. Sweets always top the list.

If you are driving down 3rd Avenue and see a line wrapped around a building then most likely you are driving past Voodoo Doughnuts. It seems Nashville likes to form a line for pancakes and Portland for doughnuts.

Although Voodoo Doughnuts is not completely vegan they do have a good selection of vegan doughnuts. Choices range from the glazed fried, devil’s food sprinkled to raspberry jelly filled and maple cream filled. Prices range from $1.25 to $1.95 each.  We made four different visits to Voodoo Doughnuts and tried different choices each time. Our selections were cotton candy sprinkled, maple frosted maple filled, chocolate frosted cream filled, devil’s food sprinkled and the signature Voodoo Doll, a voodoo doll shaped doughnut that is chocolate frosted and raspberry jelly filled complete with a pretzel pin for  sticking. All of the doughnuts were good though nothing absolutely spectacular.  It’s clearly a novelty sell apparent by the not-so-subtle double entendres that litter the signage in the shop. Buy a dozen, or in this case 13 and they will come in a nice pink box emblazoned with what must be Voodoo Doughnut’s signature: “Good things come in pink boxes.” Of course, if you feel the need to go for the not subtle at all route choose the Cock and Balls doughnut, a chocolate covered doughnut shaped like, well… You can even buy a pair of frilly panties printed with “The Magic Is In The Hole” or, as before, “Good Things Come In Pink Boxes”.

Voodoo Doughnuts Menu

Voodoo Doughnuts Menu (click to enlarge)

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Menu

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Menu (click to enlarge)

I won’t say I didn’t enjoy Voodoo Doughnuts. It’s nice to grab a jelly filled in the morning and walk half a block to Stumptown to enjoy it with a fresh cup of great coffee but after a couple doughnuts, vegan or not, you quickly realize that you’re just eating a doughnut. However, if you love a vegan doughnut, don’t have the chance to bake or fry up your own, and crave some vegan sweetness then Voodoo Doughnuts is your place.

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Doughnuts

Vegan Doughnuts!

 

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Doughnuts

More vegan doughnuts.

 

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Doughnuts

Even more vegan doughnuts!

 

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Doughnuts

Still more vegan doughnuts.

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Maple Filled

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Maple Filled

 

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Cotton Candy Doughnut

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Cotton Candy Doughnut

 

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Devil's Food With Sprinkles

Voodoo Doughnuts Vegan Devil's Food With Sprinkles

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