Although I've just naturally moved toward a diet that's mostly plant-based, I don't do well with super-strict diet rules and restrictions. I need flexibility! Food is so wrapped up in friendship, family and fun and I don't want to miss out on any of that.
We knew at the start that we weren't going to make ourselves crazy about food. We'd eat as healthy as we could on the road. We were going to be flexible & polite house guests wherever we laid our heads.
Yes, we were nomads for 10 days. First at a hotel, then at the home of Babs & Bob, then at our son & daughter-in-law's, then at my mother-in-law's.
The young woman at the desk said there were 2 choices for dinner: a local bar with great steaks & burgers. Not! Or a country food place--whatever that means. Turns out it was the chain restaurant called Country Kitchen. Not!
We decided to take matters into our own hands & looked in the phone book. My always resourceful husband spotted an address (no ad) for place in town called The Old Forge Brewing Company. He was after beer! We decided to give it a try and we were rewarded in spades!
Danville was literally 1 mile from our hotel, and if we hadn't driven in we would have missed this charming town which is now in the midst of renovation.
The Old Forge Brewing Company was a tiny storefront on the main street. It was bustling, but what about the food? I asked a couple who were leaving what they thought of the place. They assured us that the food was fabulous and unique.
Our hand-crafted beer is made in small batches to ensure quality and peak freshness, while the healthy and delicious menu has ingredients sourced from local farms and markets wherever possible." Our kind of place.
We sat at the bar while we waited for a table to become available, drank a brew and got to know the friendly 20-something owners/brewmeisters Damien & Maria.
Black Bean Hummus: Black beans, garlic, olive oil and herbs served with fresh tomatoes, carrots, and our OFBC spicy toasts.
The Big Jerk: Portabella mushroom grilled with spicy authentic Jamaican jerk seasonings, field greens and crisp lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and parsley mayo on our local fresh herb roll. Spicy!
Second Amazingly Delicious Vegan Meal On-The-Road
Whole Wheat Naan & baby carrots with spicy red pepper & chipotle hummus
A salad of arugula
Homemade pasta from the Bronx with 3 kinds of mushrooms
1. We made Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance delicious Curried Tempeh Mango Sammiches on Ezekiel bread
2. We made Green Smoothies with Swiss Chard, Lacinato Kale, frozen peaches, frozen mango & homegrown Concord grape juice.
3. We made pan-grilled brussel sprouts & Palestinian Lentils & Rice with Crispy Onions. Double the cumin, follow the recipe exactly, use Jasmine rice & brown lentils! You could try to lower the oil!
This was a real treat for us. Not the sort of fare we can find in our neck of the woods.
The Blossom Cafe in Manhattan - It's a Kosher, Organic Vegan Restaurant.
The restaurant is pure Manhattan--sleek, sophisticated, hardwood floors, delicious interesting food, not typically vegan or Kosher.
Here's what we ate:
Black Eyed Pea Cake ~ 8
Crispy cake of black eyed peas, herbs and
yukon potatoes served with chipotle aioli.
Cornmeal Crusted Oyster Mushrooms ~12
Sesame soy marinated oyster mushrooms over
herbed coleslaw. Dressed with basil oil.
Southern Seitan Sandwich ~14
Spiced seitan with caramelized onions, avocado
and chipotle aioli.
Risotto Croquettes ~18
English pea risotto cakes, seasonal mushrooms,
mushroom broth, tomato gastrique, pea vines
Seitan Scallopini ~20
Pan seared seitan cutlets in a white wine lemon
caper sauce served with mashed potatoes and sauteed greens
Brooklyn Bone Shakers - It's a neighborhood biker (as in bicycle-not motorcycle) hipster Vegan joint.
It was a busy day at Bone Shakers and they were all out of the tempeh bacon that was the key ingredient in the sandwich I had my heart set on.
The Magnus - Homemade veggie patty, tempeh bacon, spicy aioli, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, on toasted rosemary foccacia
So instead we "made due" with 2 other mouth-watering sandwiches We went halfsies on:
Hill Bomber - homemade & hearty veggie patty (no Gardenburgers at Bone Crushers), avocado, lettuce, tomato, on a kaiser roll
Makeout Party - spicy tofu, garlic hummus, sauerkraut, tomato, red onions, on a hoagie. (the young woman behind the counter said, "Your mouth will EXPLODE with flavor." She was right.)
The Healthiest Pantry in NYC
My son & daughter-in-law are 2 of the healthiest cooks I know. They're not vegan--but for them it's all about supporting nearby farms by eating the seasonal fruits & vegetables they get from their neighborhood CSA (community-supported-agriculture), staying away from processed food---and if they eat meat, making sure it's local & grass-fed.
On to Small Town Florida
No doubt about it. We feasted on fabulous food in Florida, thanks to my sister-in-law providing creative recipes, and the spices & staples from her well-stocked pantry.
A sample of our Florida Fare:
Dandelion Green Gumbo with Good Thyme Rice This comes from Rachel Ray. (Cut the oil, eliminate the butter & sub brown rice for white)
Obama's Kenyan Peanut Vegetable Soup
Cumin-Roasted Eggplant with Sweet Peppers and Chickpeas This comes from Vegetarian Times (Use dairy-free plain yoghurt)
Red Lentil-Rice Cakes with Simple Tomato Salsa This comes from Cooking Light (Use tofu for the cheese)
Mina's So Easy Black Beans & Rice
Use 2 cups of cooked brown rice (or one bag of Traders Joe's boxed frozen brown rice); 1/3 cup or more of Trader Joe's Spicy, Smoky, Peach Salsa; 1/3 cup or more of Trader Joe's Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa; and 1 can of rinsed Black Beans. Eat warm or cold. Wrap in a burrito or eat in a bowl or on top of salad greens.