I’d been more or less following the Engine 2 plan for the last three months or so. Because I’d already been eating vegan, that part of the plan wasn’t so tough for me. But it turns out that going without added fats is really tough. You can’t really eat out. Or at least you can’t really eat any cooked food out. And that’s really limiting.
I’ve since abandoned the Engine 2 business, so I’ve been able to enjoy some of my favorite restaurants again. Yesterday, after handing out leaflets for Compassionate Action for Animals, I dropped by Shish in St. Paul for a late lunch. They serve what I’m pretty sure is my favorite falafel in the Twin Cities. And it’s vegan!
Falafel at Shish: Falafel, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, hummus and tahini sauce served in a pita
Because I’m a sucker for fresh veggies, I typically order a side salad as an accompaniment. The whole meal runs right around ten bucks.
Oh, and I have to confess to feeling a lot better since I abandoned the Engine 2 thing.
I decided I’d take M out for dinner tonight, so I made reservations at Heartland in downtown St. Paul. I let them know when I called that we were vegan and they told me they’d have no trouble accommodating us.
When we arrived, our server let us know what was vegan on the menu and what could be made vegan. We opted for the three course tasting menu, and here’s what we got.
Amuse-Bouche: Pickled mushroom and chard with curried mustard and a crouton.
First Course: Frisee with peas, fingerling potatoes, and a romesco sauce.
Second Course: Gnocchi with spring vegetables.
Third Course: Raspberry sorbet with caramel glass.
This restaurant is outstanding. I don’t know of another upscale restaurant in the Twin Cities that caters so well to folks who only eat plants.
For a sweet treat after breakfast, help yourself to a tasty vegan donut.
Here were the ones we had to choose from: powdered sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate sprinkle, almond, and chai donuts from The Donut Cooperative in Minneapolis. Delicious!
Tonight for dinner we were feeling a little lazy, so we ordered pizza from Pizza Luce in St. Paul. And since we couldn’t decide on one particular pie (they have so many tasty vegan options), we opted for two small pies. Here’s what we got:
The Rustler, with mock duck, pineapple, banana peppers, red onion, rinotta, tomato sauce, and barbecue sauce.
And The Lil’ Gracie, with vegan veggie ball crumbles, a muffuletta olive mixture, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and vegan cheese with red sauce.
M liked the rustler better, but I was a fan of both. We had no trouble polishing off both small pizzas!
Just returned from Heartland Restaurant, where M treated her folks and I to dinner. They did a fantastic job pointing out all the vegan stuff on the menu and they had even planned a vegan main course (I’m not sure whether this was just for my benefit or whether they always have something ready). The food was tasty.
Barley, watermelon, and arugula as a special vegan starter:
Carrot and ginger soup, sans the minted sour cream:
Potatoes, onions, and oyster mushrooms:
And roasted summer vegetables:
Props to Heartland for making it possible to eat vegan at a nice place!
I’ve found a fine recipe for dal in Madhur Jaffrey’s wonderful book World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. Two things I’d been making mistakes on in my other attempts: I didn’t let the dal cook long enough — I would give it 45 minutes or so, when an hour and a half is much better, and I wasn’t using asafetida. What a difference doing it right makes! For the saag, I heated a wok and cooked some garlic, ginger, and a minced serrano pepper in peanut oil and tossed in two heads worth of kale leaves (fairly finely shredded). I cooked the kale for five minutes or so and finished the dish with a couple of tablespoons of soy milk. It make for a fine lunch!
M and I went to Little Szechuan just a couple of nights ago. We got the usual, and it was fantastic.
Dry Sauteed Green Beans:
Spicy Szechuan Tofu: