Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vegetarian on the Road - East Coast City Edition

Well, so much for my editorial structure I promised to stick to last week.  One of the things about traveling often for work (I've been on two trips so far this month) is that it's hard to stick to any kind of schedule, much less an editorial one.

But, one benefit of a crazy travel schedule is the opportunity to sample vegetarian fare beyond my home base of DC.  To that end, here's a round-up of some of my recent dining adventures:

New York City
Let's start with an amazing fine dining vegetarian experience I had tonight at Blossom, a cozy restaurant in Chelsea.  All of the menu items are organic and vegan.  I spoke to the server about my soy allergy, and she noted that a number of the dishes were finished with a soy butter, but she made some recommendations that she thought I would enjoy.  I ended up having a black-eyed pea cake, a "crispy cake of yukon gold potatoes, black eyed peas and chipotle aioli."  The seasoning on the pea cake was impeccable, and I loved the smooth texture of the veganaise aioli.  I followed the starter with the evening's special, pan-seared seitan cutlets with a rosemary tomato sauce, yukon gold potatoes and hairicot verts that was so good I kept taking smaller and smaller bites so it would last longer.  I've never had handmade seitan before and I am not sure I can go back to the boxed stuff from Whole Foods now, which means you can look forward to a blog about my attempts to make seitan from scratch in the future.   But anyway, Washington, DC NEEDS a fine dining vegan restaurant like this.  Or maybe it doesn't, because I could eat at Blossom every day if I lived near enough!

I was in my hometown for a quick conference last week, which meant I got to take a side trip to one of my favorite places, Reading Terminal Market, a historic building with a variety of food stalls - produce, candy, pastries, you name it.  There are a number of places vegetarians can happily dine at Reading Terminal.  For nostalgia's sake, I hit Spataros, which makes a mean vegetarian hoagie.  Some other good vegetarian options include Kamal's, Mezze and Basic Four Vegetarian Snack Bar.

I also had the chance to experiment with the salad bar at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian style steakhouse with locations around the US.  Some fellow conference attendees who I enjoy catching up with every year really wanted to go there, so I decided to give it a shot as a vegetarian.  In my meat eating days, I had happily eaten the unlimited meat and I remembered that Fogo has a wonderful salad bar.  So, while my colleagues enjoyed their meat meals, I feasted on marinated mushrooms, hearts of palm, tomatoes and bufala mozzarella, yellow peppers and more.  It is a little off-putting to be around so much meat, but it's good to know that if I have to attend a work function at Fogo, I'll have plenty of options.

My life hasn't been all work and no play this month - my husband and I spent Saturday evening in Baltimore, where we took in a Buddy Guy concert in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.  We originally planned to go to Little Italy, which has some amazing restaurants, but since we were running late, we instead opted to try a restaurant in Power Plant Live, which is the complex that housed our concert venue.  We decided to try Joe Squared, which had a sign outside that said they were "Named the Best Pizza in Maryland."  I tried the veggie pizza, which had "pink sauce, arugula, zucchini, eggplant, fennel, mozzarella and Boursin cheeses."  I was actually a little disappointed with it - the crust was meh and the veggies would have benefited from either being roasted at a higher temp or being sauteed first.  Overall, the whole thing was very bland.  However, my husband enjoyed his sandwich, they had a mushroom "cheesesteak" that looked good, and the servers were super nice, so I would be willing to give them another shot.

Washington, DC
It was my birthday recently, and my husband took me out to dinner at Poste, which is located in the Hotel Monaco in Gallery Place.  There isn't a wealth of veggie options, but the ones that are available are exceptionally good.  I started with an arugula salad with basil, mint, figs and sherry vinaigrette.  For my entree, I had the Autumn Vegetable Crepes, which included four individual crepes - one with beets & goat cheese, one with cauliflower, one with farro and chanterelle mushrooms and one with polenta and roasted red pepper sauce.  The presentation was gorgeous and the results were super tasty.   Via, twitter, I confirmed that there are different seasonal versions of the crepes available throughout the year, which means I have an excuse to pop in every few months or so to sample them anew.

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