I need to hurry and play catch-up tonight before more sure-to-be-blog-worthy culinary adventures hit (Tampa this weekend, a new Laotian joint next week).
So here goes.
I think veganism gets an undeserved bad rap in most circles.
Don’t get me wrong: I would never intentionally eat a vegan diet for any hefty amount of time. I know it’s healthy, but it’s just too restrictive for my broad tastes. Vegetarian-most-of-the-time is the best I can do. But to each her own.
However, I learned to cook and appreciate vegan food when my daughter went that direction for a few years. And I discovered that there are lots of fantastic vegan eats — you just have to search them out.
I dined at one of my favorite places during the recent downtown Raleigh restaurant week, and ended up choosing vegan selections for all three courses simply because they sounded best.
See what you think: zucchini fritters, farmers market “sushi” rolls and avocado gelato with grilled lime poundcake.
Market’s fritters were satisfyingly crispy-crunchy outside and tender in the center. The
playful sushi was wonderfully textured, colorful and tasty. But the avocado gelato was the highlight.
I was initially a little frightened by the idea of it, but the richness, tongue feel, gorgeous color and surprisingly subtle flavor won me over with the first bite.
I heart maiden cakes
Ever heard of a maiden cake?
Me, either. But my mom enthused so much about the one she’d eaten at Norfolk’s Pasha Mezze that I had to try one for myself when we went for brunch.
I thought perhaps maiden cakes were a common Mediterranean dish. But Google them and see what you get. Iron Maiden cakes, anyone? Why, no thanks.
As Pasha Mezze, maiden cakes are nicely crisped lentil or quinoa patties served with a big fat slice of grilled tomato and some greens, along with a little mystery “vegan sauce” (see, I’m tellin’ ya … tasty vegan stuff again).
At brunch, the maiden cake becomes one building block of the Maiden Tower dish — the usual suspects, plus toast on the bottom and a fantastically poofy poached egg on the very top. The components are nice and savory, with the creamy sauce adding a lovely contrast.
Important announcement: I have found Raleigh’s best coffee-shop sandwich.
There’s some awesome food to be found in several local coffee shops, and I’ve long loved Jubala Village’s Liege Belgian waffles. For many, many months they were the only food items on the menu. Then came biscuits. And now come sandwiches.
Which is great, because sometimes you just want something savory instead of sweet with your cup of joe.
The grown-up grilled cheese was about as close to perfection as I’ve ever had in that sandwich category.
Sharp cheddar and fresh mozarella (what a great combo!) perfectly melty between two slices of expertly toasted multigrain bread slathered with just the right amount of apple butter. (I don’t like apple butter very much and would never think to put it on a grilled cheese sandwich, but it was a phenomenal addition.)
The little salad of arugula and balsamic reduction was great alongside.