Monday, October 20, 2008

Asheville Vegan Reubens?

B. and I just got back from an excursion to Western North Carolina, more specifically Asheville and Black Mountain. The excuse I told everyone (aside from the fact I was on fall break) was that we were 'leafing' -- which is apparently what people do around here when the foliage starts changing, head to the mountains, because that's where it is most beautiful. But secretly, I was pumped to visit this hippie-hipster mountain town because I knew I'd find some vegan reuben action.

I didn't quite account for how much vegan reuben action I would find. Seriously, this place rivals Portland for restaurants with vegan options. Tempeh in particular reigns supreme -- it seemed like every restaurant or pub had some kind of tempeh (or sometimes less frequently, tofu) sandwich. This, in the land of pulled pork bbq, where just a few miles out of town, the waitstaff at a side of the road restaurant can't comprehend the concept of someone not eating both meat and dairy.

I had my sights set on the Laughing Seed Cafe from the get-go, as it seems to be the place in town to go for good vegetarian eats. But we got sidetracked by Rosetta's Kitchen. And I really could spend two weeks there solely writing reviews for this blog. For example, I walked by this restaurant on Broadway.

Who would have guessed, but they advertised a Smoked Tempeh Reuben. Then, at Jack of the Woods, the Irish pub below The Laughing Seed, B. pointed out that they, too, served a tempeh reuben. Then, upon returning to Chapel Hill, a friend who had lived in Asheville admitted that her favorite tempeh reuben in town was served at the Dripelator, a cafe that we had actually had coffee at our first morning in town, and hadn't even thought to look at the menu. I don't know what's going on here, but this place has tempeh fever. You'd almost think you were in Eugene, not the American South.

I have to catch up with school work, but expect a couple Asheville Vegan Reuben reviews in the near future.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More on vegan dining - Candle 79

I couldn't resist posting a link to this audio/video 'interactive' from the New York Times which is essentially a review of Candle 79, another famous vegan foodie destination, this one in NYC. Candle 79 is an off-shoot of Candle Cafe--B. and I made the Candle Cafe reuben at home and it is hands-down our favorite recipe so far. The interactive is annoyingly snarky at times -- "Will I have to drink brown-rice tea?"-- but over all presents the revelation, that yes, vegan food can be gourmet and tasty! I'll forgive them for mispronouncing seitan.

There's also a review to accompany the interactive, which actually mentions a vegan Reuben at another joint in NYC, Angelica Kitchen.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Chicago Diner's Radical Reuben

Recently the lovely Melisser of The Urban Housewife paid a trip to Chicago, another great city for vegans. I'm a bit jealous, because she got to try out the Radical Reuben at the Chicago Diner, an establishment that is practically historical in the fame of its vegan menu. Of course she loved the sandwich (it sounds like her entire trip was pretty awesome). When she posted, she mentioned trying to recreate it. I don't want to spoil any of her attempts, and I guess I've been holding this close to my chest because I had thought maybe one day B. and I would test the recipe and post about it, but the Vegetarian Times actually published The Chicago Diner's reuben recipe as part of a feature on the best vegetarian dishes in America. (Note Portland's own Vita Cafe was recognized for their vegan mac and cheese).

The reuben recipe is very unique, and I think brilliant, in that it uses some very intuitive ingredients to simulate the meaty, brininess of a traditional reuben. I haven't had the sandwich, but I imagine it's success stems from these innovations which include marinating the seitan overnight in pickling spices (duh, right?) and including beet juice for some color.

You can find the recipe here; scroll down to the very bottom for the reuben recipe. If anyone actually tries it out, be sure to let me know!