The Endless Road Trip, Philly: A Waffle to End All Waffles

waffle

 

At Philly’s new V Street, the all-vegan menu is inspired by street food from around the world, fusing flavors from as far afield as Hungary, India, Peru and the Philippines into an amazing array of meat-free snacks like jerk trumpet mushrooms and harissa-grilled cauliflower mixed up with spiced avocado, olive salad and chermoula, an intensely flavorful North African marinade.

The cocktails are particularly off-the-wall—the “Cruz Control” mixes tequila with horchata, lime and tepache—a Mexican fermented pineapple drink—but the true crazy prize has to go to this dessert waffle: it’s layered with rich chocolate ganache, gooey bites of banana, vegan ice cream and a chunky miso caramel, with Sriracha peanuts and syrup poured over the whole thing. Yes, please.

(Photo: V Street)

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Night of the Living Dread

Question: What do vegetarian zombies eat? Answer: “GRAAAAINS”

I was chomping through my second pound of bacon last Sunday while tossing around some ideas for a horror screenplay that I am writing, and I thought to myself, ‘How sad would it be if after you turned into a zombie you were destined to roam the world consuming only plant-based foods?’ Now THAT would be something that I would dread! Can you imagine? Laying there late at night in your boarded-up home, listening to the zombies munching on your garden and fruit trees? Huge groups of them wiping out fields of young corn and alfalfa, slowly chewing through farm stands like mindless, two-legged cows. And the remaining unaffected humans arming themselves and making a desperate last stand in front of their wheat fields. “Come on you grain eating devils!” a farmer screams as he drives his tractor into a crowd of attacking vega-zombies. “You’ll never take my plants alive!!”

What? Treating vegetarians as spooky, hollow-eyed creatures that repulse and shock us with their unstoppable lust for organic, fresh plants and vegetables? Don’t we do that already? I could film a version of this movie every day if I wanted. I would just sit in the local Whole Foods parking lot around noon and yell, “Action!”

ATTACK OF THE VEGETARIANS

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Point/Counterpoint: Meat vs. Plants

Editor’s Note: Longtime ES reader Thresher was moved to write a response to Amcstang’s recent thoughts on the Paleo Diet. We love us a good controversy.

Paleo Diets are one of my pet peeves. It’s such a brilliant idea at the core, but none of the popular versions of it hit at the nugget of scientific truth that should be emphasized: caloric restriction works pretty well (we evolved being very, very hungry for most of the average year) and probably is one of the few approaches to eating that will demonstrably make the average person live longer. But it’s hard to enjoy, and there aren’t many food blogs that can be built around like 1,000 calories per day.

Let me frame that rant. I had a reaction to a previous Endless Simmer post. It was on the topic of a particular type of the Paleo Diet ethos, and I couldn’t help but grit my teeth while reading it. I thought I’d offer a response, for good measure, from the perspective of the epidemiologists and biologists (etc…) who’ve been seriously studying diet and quality of life for decades.

‘Diet’ strikes many of us as a four-letter word because there are so many of them out there, each hawking a particular (amazing) benefit. “Eat only magic cookies!” “Lose 80 pounds through cheese!” “Live forever young!” As much as we tend to desire these very gratifying claims, we also roll our eyes at the commercials that brag about them because, deep down, they seem at least a little bullshitty.

So, yes, there are a lot of opinions out there on how to eat well, and it’s hard to call any of them flat-out wrong. That’s because faddish diet plans tend to focus on achieving a particular goal, in the short term, and sometimes they can achieve that goal really well. There are fad diets that will make you skinnier, bulkier, leaner, even sexier and more tan. But they’re called fads for a reason: after an initial quick success, they don’t end up doing anything good for your body in the long run (and sometimes they can do some serious damage, or at the very least make you fatter than when you started).

Forget all that. I can summarize in a couple sentences the big picture on diet and health that we pretty much know is true—from science! I swear I’ll be quick with a few facts and then we’ll get to some yummy stuff.

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Gizzards, Kidneys and Balls…For Vegans

I’m not entirely vegetarian. I still eat seafood regularly and poultry occasionally. And I’m not one of those judgmental asshats that sits at a table with carnivores and silently judges them or does the whole, “Do you even know what you’re eating?!” thing. If you’re vegan, good for you. If you’re a carnivore, go for it. I get it. Bacon is delicious. What I find puzzling is the whole fake-meat-disguised-as-meat phenomenon. It’s like fat free butter or fake fur – it just feels weird. Why would anyone who has omitted animals from their diet have any desire to consume tofu shaped into an animal?

OK, I’ll be entirely honest — the realistic turkey — I have a compulsion to buy one the next time I’m home (it’s from a restaurant/tofu manufacturer in LA called Vinh Loi), just out of morbid curiosity. So I started poking around and came across a whole world of fake meat that I never even knew existed. Vegetarian offal:

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My Shit Don’t Stink: Five Observations on a Vegan Diet

Charcuterie from the Downtown Grocery

Salad greens from Coger's Sugarhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I grew up in a meat and potatoes household. My father was (and still is) the type that had strong feelings about what went on the dinner plate, and if it didn’t moo or cluck it was considered a side dish. So imagine my culinary bafflement as I have undertaken a two-week chef gig to cook for a yoga teacher training at Good Commons, a boutique retreat center nestled in the rolling hills of Vermont.

Three meals a day and not an animal in sight. Not only are these yogis avoiding meat, but also dairy, soy and gluten. And I thought downward dog was tough.

It’s not that I don’t have experience or interest in cooking vegetarian dishes. I love connecting with the local farmers and menu planning based on what is coming out of the ground. But how much roughage can a person take? The answer—plenty.

I should qualify… I could easily be sneaking off to the local pizza joint for “Instructor Wings,” a winning combination of hot wings and barbecue sauce named after a special request from the snowboarders who work at Okemo Valley during ski season. Better yet, a mosey to The Downtown Grocery in Ludlow, where chef Rogan Lechthaler is doing some amazing charcuterie. But I’ve been feeling a bit too much junk in the trunk and thought a two-week meat sabbatical might do me well. So here’s what I’ve learned so far.

 Top 5 Observations on a Vegan Diet

5. It’s more fun to chew a perfectly marbled strip steak than bite into a piece of “extra firm” tofu, no matter how well it’s seasoned or seared.

4. Kale is brilliant: it keeps for almost a week in the fridge and can be eaten raw, blanched, sautéed or even creamed with a vegan béchamel, which I made with Earth Balance (soy, I know!), gluten-free flour, almond milk and plenty of salt and pepper.

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Food Bloggers Give Panera’s Menu a Gluten-Free Makeover

Remember the team of activist food bloggers who took our list of America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches and made vegan versions of each sandwich? Well, Namely Marly and her team are at it again. This time, they’re giving one of America’s biggest bakery chains a GF makeover. Namely Marly writes:

I recently met a friend for breakfast at Panera and was surprised, nay shocked, to learn that they didn’t offer any gluten-free items at the bread bar. How could this be? Are they not aware of the growing number of people who are flocking toward gluten-free lifestyles?

The solution? De-gluten-ize the whole place! Namely Marly and her crew came up with gluten-free recipes for nine different items on the Panera menu. But will the bakery chain add any of these creations to their roster? Your move, Panera.

1. Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Recipe: Multiply Delicious

2. Caramel Pecan Rolls

Recipe: Namely Marly

3. Spinach and Artichoke Souffle

Recipe: Clean Green Simple

 

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