Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Weekend Getaway!

I didn't post last weekend, because we were away, celebrating our wedding anniversary! We got engaged several years ago on Ocracoke Island, which is part of the Outer Banks, North Carolina. It is nice this time of year, because they are shutting down so there are hardly any tourists there at all and it's nice and cool. This is the beautiful lighthouse there, which is the second oldest lighthouse in the U.S. I think it's also the smallest. At any rate, it was a memorable trip. We did many of the same things that we did last time, including walking the beach and biking out to see the wild ponies.

Of course last time I was there, I was vegetarian, not vegan. You might think that this made things more difficult for us, as there are no chain restaurants here and just about all of the eateries feature fresh seafood (fresh, as in just killed... I figure if it was really fresh, it would be alive and swimming far away, very quickly!). To be prepared, I scoured the menus from home first (many are online) and called restaurants ahead when we got there, just to double check. Well, you may not believe it, but I think we ate better this time! Last time, we just picked some random restaurants, which didn't necessarily have the best food nor the best choices.

When we rolled in on the night of our official anniversary, we were too tired to get dressed and go out (and besides, isn't it more fun to stay in sometimes??), so we ordered pizza from the Ocracoke Pizza Company. I got my half without cheese, but with their delish tomato sauce, fresh spinach, mushrooms and black olives. The picture didn't come out that great, but it was AMAZING! The crust was thin, tender, chewy and crunchy all at the same time (even though I usually like thick crusts, this blew me away!). I had to stop myself from eating all four slices. My only complaint was that they went a little thin on the sauce. Awesome flavors and great texture -and free delivery! Three and a half stars! After that and a bottle of wine (and some Twizzlers - vegan!) we were "all set."

The next day, we ventured to the Creekside Cafe, which had this amazingly stuffed hummus wrap (ignore the nasty Styrofoam). The picture is kind of dark, but the hummus was really packed in! Mushrooms and all other kinds of veggies complemented the peppery spread. There was so much, I ate one half the next day! Three and a half stars again! (And no, I didn't eat the chips. I'm sure they were vegan, but I'm not much of a chip person, more for health reasons than anything).

Our second evening meal was at the sort of famous Howard's Pub, which is open year round (unlike just about all the rest, which shut down during the winter). Their menu featured a "vegan" black bean burger, which they had just changed (not homemade) to a regular-style veggie burger. It was actually pretty tasty, with pieces of carrot that you could actually see, but it definitely wasn't homemade and I could tell it had TVP (textured vegetable protein) in it (which isn't too bad, but not my fav meat substitute).

Unfortunately, the bun was not vegan. Fortunately, the waitress had a friend who "used to be vegan" so she knew all those details. Unfortunately, she couldn't substitute rice or potatoes or any other grain side for the bun (which demonstrates that this was more like a chain ... in "real" restaurants, they can do whatever the hell they want, because they don't have a prescribed set of rules for a dish and they usually have a real chef who just wants to make diners happy). Fortunately, I did get a decent side salad and a mixed drink. Unfortunately, the drink was really weak. Two stars for the burger. Maybe two and a half. Two for the drink :P And not worth a photo. The plain burger just looked so sad -and that was once without a face!

I wish I had a photo of the last meal we ate, because it blew the others out of the water! Well, it was at least a definite four stars ****. At the Back Porch Restaurant
we celebrated the last night in the fresh air (a porch, really!) with an outdoor fountain making music for us. I selected probably the only vegan/vegetarian thing on their menu which was (get this!) Chana Masala!! No kidding. A tofu-chickpea-spinach-tomato curry over rice. And it was good!! The presentation was gorgeous - a curly spliced celery piece in the middle (it looked like a mini fountain) and sprinkled red pepper pieces and herbs around the edge. The coconut sauce was creamy and the curry was great, if not a little mild compared to what I'm used to. But it seriously kicked ass. It was completely worth the price. And the huge glass of white wine didn't hurt either. ;)

Coming back down from our rush of eating out (oh yeah, and salt water taffy, which is usually vegan- woohoo!), I made a quick white bean spread (Italian style) with some fresh herbs still surviving in my backyard pots. On a whole wheat tortilla, I added some fresh greens, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and roasted red peppers (all canned, sorry!). I got some of these delicacies on sale at my local Ukrop's (like, really on sale - one buck a can!), so it was a nice splurge. The spread came from 150 Vegan Favorites, by Jay Solomon. It was wicked easy and was a nice change from garlicky, tahini hummus. A little thin. But filling! Two and a half or Three stars, I guess. ***

Last week, I was finishing up some tempeh that was about to expire (by the way, if the "sell by" date says September, does that mean it's still good for a few months? We ate it anyway, and we survived). I prefer the three grain flavor to the straight soy one. It has less of a "soy" taste and a better texture. I baked it, according to the directions in Vegan World Fusion Cuisine. It really soaked up the marinade!

Next, I whipped up (from the same book) this quick and easy Sweet and Sour Tempeh sauce, and mixed in the tempeh. Served over healthy brown rice (I never eat white, except in sushi now) and with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds (no nutritional difference, I believe, but pretty!). Since I grew up eating sweet and sour chicken every time we got Chinese takeout, I was really looking forward to having it again. Lucky me -it was perfect!! I immediately copied and mailed the recipe to my immediate family members, who I hope will try this very soon! It was sooo good. The sweet and the sour and the tempeh were all perfect! Mmmmm.... Four stars for sure! ****

Our last quick meal of this week was to finally try the Chreese that I had bought at the Animal Rights Conference back in August. Since I'm not much of a pasta person (I love the sauce best!), and since it's only now getting cold enough to really necessitate hot meals, I finally whipped up the sauce and mixed it in with some whole wheat elbows, topped with sesame gomashio. The result? Well, it was melty and creamy and yummy and perfect with some green beans! However, not at all surprising to me, my husband mixed the Chreese with his regular noodles (he doesn't care for whole wheat, or fiber - ha, ha!) and his turned out ten times better! He really is an expert at making this stuff. He makes the packaged Kraft stuff once in a while, and knew to leave a little pasta water in the bottom of the pan to thin out the sauce. At any rate, this photo below is his. Isn't it just the quintessential mac and cheese shot?
Well, I'm off to do some other things before I hit the sack tonight. I hope that everyone has already thought about Thanksgiving and prepared their menu to include a Tofurky and an adopted real turkey! We adopted Serendipity this year, from the Farm Sanctuary. Have a great weekend!


VeggieGirl said...

Happy belated anniversary!!! Such a lovely getaway trip you had :0)

I love Farm Sanctuary!!

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary! It sounds like you had a nice trip :o)

That mac and cheese shot is amazing! You have me drooling!


Healthy Vegan Diet Fast Food Meal Menu said...

I like the idea of a white bean spread. I'm going to have to try that.